We’re getting the hang of the new routine, despite a few family-wide panic attacks.
We’ve lived in our home, at the corner of a four way stop, for four years and I’ve known all along that the school bus drives by many many times.
I just didn’t know how many. Six times in the morning and six times in the afternoon. If you think I’m exaggerating, there’s actually a chance I’m under reporting.
Until this year it was a special treat if we saw it go by, but it didn’t affect my life one way or another. Now the distinctive braking of the school bus is enough to send my entire household into a frenzy.
7 a.m.: I’m enjoying my precious one on one time with my coffee. The bus brakes and adrenaline shoots through my body. I talk myself off the ledge. BB’s bus comes at 8:07 a.m.
7:07 a.m.: BB is snuggling with me on the couch. THE BUS! BB is on the verge of a meltdown. I talk her off the ledge.
7:30 a.m.: Captain is in the middle of making breakfast. THE BUS! He looks at me panic stricken. I talk him back.
7:37 a.m.: RB is spooning some cereal into her mouth and the rest into her lap. THE BUS! She yells,
I remind everyone,
“BB’s bus comes at 8:07 a.m.”
8:00 a.m.: THE BUS! My stomach lurches, Captain braces himself, RB squeals and BB screams,
“Is that my bus?!”
“Technically yes, but remember it loops around the neighborhood and picks you up on the way back?”
“I want to go outside.”
“Ok, but you have time.”
“I want to go outside NOW!”
After an hour of panicking, I remind everyone, including myself,
“Even if we do miss the bus, we have a car and it’s a 5 minute drive to school.”
Then the whole thing repeats in the afternoon. The bus driver won’t let a kindergartener off of the bus without an adult there to meet them, so it feels even more important to not miss the afternoon bus. BB gets home at 3:25 p.m.
2:30 p.m.: I’m enjoying the quiet when… THE BUS!
Captain is still working from home, so he gets to shout things from the library/office/gym/room-off-of-the-kitchen-where-it’s-a-terrible-place-to-work-with-small-children-around,-but-I-didn’t-pick-it. He yells,
“I know!! It’s not BB’s!”
BB loves the bus. She tells me,
“It’s not like when you were a kid, the seats are really nice.”
Of all the millions of things that are not like when I was a kid, the school bus seats look very similar. And I have had the chance to see them go by many many times.
Kindergarten check! BB is on cloud nine. Fishy Wishy is ready to repeat pre-k and I’m looking for my sanity. It’s gotta be around here somewhere.
Back in June when Flippy first came home, before we even had time to rename him, I was already thinking to myself,
‘It would be amazing if I manage to keep him alive. Then at the end of the summer I could send the text message, “When’s Flippy’s first day of school?”‘
A week ago I got to send that message. It felt as good as I imagined. I got a message back reassuring me that if we’d grown attached, we could keep him.
No. No. And no. At that point BB was running around in RB’s diapers and I just couldn’t handle wondering if Flippy was depressed or if this was the morning I’d find him belly up.
At the Cape there was talk of setting him free, never mind that he’s a fresh water fish. My beach buddy pointed out,
“Oh no, you can’t do that, he’d be like ‘Where are my flakes?'”
If Flippy doesn’t make it through his second year of pre-k, it won’t be on my watch. I’ve had about all I can do to keep track of the kindergarten schedule.
First there was the playground playdate and practice bus ride. There were 80 kids on the playground and BB went to the swings 100 feet away, all by herself.
I had promised myself ahead of time that I’d follow BB’s lead and not push too hard on the being around other people thing.
Then lo and behold, BB returned from her solitary swinging and suggested we go find some kids in her class. I spotted one standing with her parents. Worth a shot.
There must’ve been some magical, unicorn, fairy, kindergarten dust in the air. The girls took off around the playground. A little while later we lined up for the practice bus ride. BB’s new friend asked,
“Do you want to sit together?”
At which point BB held out her hand. They boarded arm in arm and while I had expected to get teary eyed when BB left for her official first day, I did NOT expect to cry for the PRACTICE bus ride. But I did.
BB had an amazing time. The behavior at home continued to deteriorate. Captain was at a loss. He kept saying,
“What is going on?”
“Kindergarten is starting soon.”
“No that’s it. I guarantee it.”
I mean I didn’t know for sure sure, but it sure seemed unlikely she’d go to school in her baby sister’s diapers. We just had to get through 5 more days of reverse potty training.
BB threw multiple tantrums because she wanted to pee in the diaper, but couldn’t. And not that I said she couldn’t, just that she’s so used to going in a toilet, or outside, that she couldn’t relax enough to go in the diaper. It took her a few days, but by T-minus 3 days until kindergarten she was peeing in diapers again.
BB went for a school tour joined at the hip with her new friend. Then there was a 2-hour, drop-off, practice day. The class was divided in half by the alphabet. There must’ve been more of that magical kindergarten dust, because BB and her new friend’s last names fell into the same group.
Getting emotional over the practice bus ride should’ve been a warning to me, but I approached the practice day as if I’m not someone who can cry over a Budweiser commercial. BB’s kindergarten teacher held out her hand to introduce herself and I started to cry.
I made sure BB didn’t see. She waved goodbye and trotted off.
She may be a clone of Captain, but the one expression of my genetics might be BB’s adventuresomeness.
Two hours later I return and learn that not only did BB have a wonderful time, but she used the bathroom. And for someone who spent a large part of the summer refusing to use public restrooms, peeing outside and most recently returning to diapers. This was a very, very good sign.
Then the real deal. The first day of kindergarten. The only day I thought I’d actually cry. BB was super excited, then a little quiet. I was so focused on the logistics, and taking photos, that the tears barely came.
8:10am. How is it possible that I won’t know anything until she gets off the bus at 3:30pm?
Preschool would’ve texted a photo by 8:12am. I check my phone. I remind myself that if BB decides not to talk, she has all of her identifying info pinned to the front of her dress.
I check my phone again. I don’t know what I’m waiting for, but I check my phone again. And again. The next 7 hours would’ve been a variation of this same theme if it weren’t for my amazing neighbor throwing a “First Day of School, MOMosa brunch.”
It saved my sanity. And magically, however many mimosas later, it was time to welcome home my kindergartener.
Captain and I hovered on the corner. I obsessively refreshed the bus tracking app. It was making very slow progress. At least ten minutes late. As it appeared on the horizon, I stood camera ready, then the bus knocked over a neighbor’s basketball pole.
Keep driving! Where’s my baby? The driver stops, gets out, assesses the damage, decides to drive the remaining block to us.
BB bounces off the bus. She couldn’t be in a better mood. She’s full of stories and tales of eating vegetables at lunch. A unicorn of a day.
What a relief. I offer her help with something, I can’t even remember what and she rolls her eyes at me,
We’re home. We’re days away from kindergarten and I can almost taste a party on the deck.
Maybe it’s being 39. Maybe it’s COVID. Maybe it’s watching my kids grow up so fast, but whatever it is, I feel very aware of my mortality and how I’m really not 20-years old anymore. Like not even close.
I’m at risk of turning this into a fashion blog, which is the last thing I want to do, but I don’t know where else to work through this.
I am having a lot of feelings about the cheeky, bathing-suit trend.
First jeans, now this. How is a middle-aged person supposed to keep up?
Do I want to keep up? Yes and no. I don’t want to be outdated before my time, but I’m also not clinging to my youth. At least not in a butt cheeks hanging out kinda way.
Or so I thought.
I saw some beach bums last summer, but this year the cheekiness really took off. Once I see a trend everywhere, I start to think, maybe I should do this, maybe I should have less coverage.
Once upon a time no one wore bikinis, now everyone does. Even middle-aged people.
There was no way I was going to make a change mid-summer. The only thing worse than a 39-year-old bum hanging out, is a pasty 39-year old bum with full coverage tan lines.
Nevermind that even if I had started the season with a couple cheeks out, when would they have gotten tan? I have a hard enough time watching my children when I’m upright, never mind if I were face down in the sand.
I was discussing the decreasing bathing-suit bottoms with my mom, I tell her,
“I want full coverage, but I feel like it’s dating me.”
“You don’t exactly have full coverage.”
True. And even though BB has full coverage, once it rides up, she’s happy to leave it there.
The other day the kiddos were in the tub and I heard some strange noises. I pop back in to check on them. They’re on their tummies with their bums in the air. BB tells me,
“We’re dolphins and our butts are our blow holes.”
So they are. No coverage needed.
And now that I have “mama milkies,” I’m not interested in going topless on a beach ever again, but BB made that decision even easier.
During a post-beach shower, I took off my top; BB pointed at my chest and asked,
“Why do they look like doggy milkies?”
Oh help me.
As I return to regular clothing, I’m somewhere in the middle of the bare-bum debate and happy to table it until next summer. Especially considering it’s almost time to figure out what jeans I’m wearing.
To bathe or not to bathe? This celebrity topic has me considering my family’s habits. I’ve determined they’re seasonal.
Back in February, there was very little bathing. Water conservation had nothing to do with it.
It got to the point where no one in the family was sure of the last time they took a bath or shower. Which often led me to issue a warning that we would all need to bathe soon. Although I never went as far as to say it had to be that day.
This didn’t come from a place of being anti-bathing, but from the same place of wearing sweatpants for a year.
Now we’re at the beach. I deem sand and indoor living very incompatible. We’re doing a minimum of 2 showers a day, maybe 3.
Awhile ago I learned about a friend who only showers her kids, no tubbies. I didn’t think that could be me. How could I take away the joy of playing in the tub?
Now I’m in there with the shower running, saying,
Didn’t they just spend the day playing in the ocean?
The advantage of the tubby is that it keeps RB contained for a minute until she decides to jump out. The disadvantage is that she really likes to poop in there. BB is still thrilled to have a tub with her. Maybe there is some love there.
It’s at least 2 showers a day because there is no way these kids can come in the house for lunch without a shower.
BB returns home with more sand covering her body than even seems possible. Gobs fall out when she takes off her swimsuit.
She’s the type of person who likes to go swimming and then makes sand angels. We’re talking wet hair, wet body, rolling and rolling in the dry sand. I can’t think of a better way to make sure you’re sandy for the rest of your life.
RB sits in the tub drinking as much bath water as she can, while BB picks seaweed out of her vagina and puts it on the side of the tub. She would prefer to hand it to me.
BB informs me,
“You know they sell special seaweed and you can take a seaweed bath to soften your skin?”
She’s learned about spa treatments from a neighbor. I gesture to the seaweed lined up on the side of the tub,
“What about this seaweed?”
She looks at me like I’m an idiot,
“NOOO. That was in my vagina.”
I get them out and send them on their way. I’m feeling efficient. If there’s ever a Ninja Warrior style competition that features drinking a beer, collecting beach gear, dragging it home, corralling 2 kiddos, bathing them, diapering, clothing, feeding and putting them to bed, I really think I’ve reached peak speed.
BB is back. Nine days she was gone sailing. It was Captain, my in-laws, BB and her menagerie of stuffed animals.
Day 1: Bon voyage! I’m excited for her and glad to send her on her way.
Day 2: All appears well.
Day 3: Do I need to go get her? Day 4 is the last day she can bail. If not day 4, then it would be day 9, whether or not anyone decided on day 5 that that was a mistake.
Day 4: It’s a sailor’s life for BB; she’s committed to the duration of the trip. Block Island here they come. Captain says sometimes she acts “silly.” My interpretation of that is he’s glossing over bad behavior, but that’s on him. See you in 5 days!
Day 5: I’m poring over their photos. Can’t get enough.
RB is a lost soul without BB and our usual beach crew. She keeps attaching herself to random kids whether they want her or not. And when they refuse to make eye contact she walks closer to them, waves and yells,
RB’s standard volume is a 7 out of 10. When she feels strongly about something, anything, like making friends or being all done with breakfast, it’s a 10. The kids still don’t make eye contact. I try to drag her away. She refuses to acknowledge subtle social signals.
I redirect her back toward our stuff. There’s a new family setting up next to us with a fellow toddler. I think we’re in luck.
RB heads straight for them. I hover nearby. She takes a peek in one of their buckets. I’m hoping to make eye contact with the mom. Maybe share a smile, offer some of our toys, I see a bright future for poor RB who is desperate to socialize.
The mom really won’t make eye contact. I move closer. She moves the bucket away from RB.
Not so subtle. I make one last ditch glance for eye contact and I drag RB away for a swim. When we walk by later, the dad says,
“You’re welcome to play!”
I really don’t think we are.
Day 6: I miss BB.
Day 7: I really miss BB.
Day 8: I fall asleep creating all the unlikely catastrophes that can happen to anyone anywhere at anytime. A little bit like how when either kiddo sleeps 30 minutes later than usual I assume they’re dead.
Day 9: I’m reunited with a very-much alive, tan, instantly grown-up, sailor BB.
She spends the first hour of the hour-and-a-half drive home regaling me with stories. Stops. Says,
“Mom, I can’t tell you everything.”
And that was that.
She did tell me,
“I had one fight.” (with my MIL)
“She wanted me to use the bathroom and I didn’t want to.”
I assume it was because BB didn’t have to go, but it turns out it was more of an issue than that. Captain tells me,
“She didn’t want to use any bathrooms besides the one on the boat.”
“Any? What did you do?”
“She went outside.”
“Outside? Like everywhere?! All the time?! Even at restaurants?!”
“Well a lot, yeah, there was grass.”
BB returned with an additional stuffed animal, “Shiny the Block Island unicorn,” who was added to her already crowded bed. I tucked her in with 4 bunnies, 1 puppy, 1 caticorn, and Shiny. She said,
“There are a lot of people in here.”
“I wish I had someone to sleep with.”
Did nine days of her sleeping with Captain doom my summer? I remind her,
“What about all the people in your bed?”
“What about your long-lost sister?”
“How about I check on you later?”
And I make my escape. Turns out there are limits on how much I missed her.
My baby is 5! I’m 39. And the class fish is still alive. However old he may be.
I’ve never met anyone happier to turn 5. BB canvased the beach, proclaiming her birthday far and wide. She was magnanimous enough to mention mine was coming up as well.
While I didn’t shout 39 to the world, no one would’ve heard me over tropical storm Elsa. I did tell quite a few people about my glorious birthday dinner with Captain, WITHOUT our children.
I may have mentioned my plans for a throw-down party next year. Mark your calendars.
I’m very happy to cling to my thirties for one more year. It’s got me comparing to 29. I’m much more content, big dreams have come true, I’ve lost some muscle tone and a lot of sleep.
I feel like more dreams can come true, but the sleep and muscle tone may be gone forever.
The summer beach plan is in effect and aside from enough rainy days for the entire season, so far so good. If anyone is going to test my resolve to be here all summer it’s RB. But then she’d test my resolve wherever we are, so I might as well be where I want to be.
It comes down to chasing RB around the suburbs or chasing RB around the beach.
I may be glorifying BB’s toddlerhood, but I don’t remember 21-month-old BB testing EVERY SINGLE LIMIT. ALL THE TIME.
The minute I turn away, there’s a very good chance RB will be standing on the kitchen table or scaling a bureau in an attempt to get the fish. As long as he may live.
The good news is that there are no tables at the beach, just rain.
RB’s attention span seems to be about as long as it takes her to yell the word,
So no attention span.
We went out for BB’s birthday dinner. RB wouldn’t even let us put her in the highchair at all.
“DONE DONE DONE!”
“This is the best birthday! Bester than last year.”
She doesn’t mind if RB’s not at the table.
BB wanted a fancy birthday drink. Last year she didn’t like her Shirley Temple. I was at a loss, but then it came to me. I ordered it for her.
She took a big sip, smiled and sighed,
“What IS this drink?”
“Sprite.” Said with so much reverence. As if she’s ready to worship whoever created soda. Kind of like I’m ready to worship anyone who manages to sustain RB’s attention for more than a minute.
As of Saturday, Captain and BB went sailing with my in-laws for nine days. Amazing for her and a very mixed bag for me.
It’s a little quieter and calmer here, but RB does not know what to do with herself. I almost miss the sibling fights. Everyone has 2 feet on or near the ground and are somewhat occupied.
BB has been begging to share a room with RB. This is good news because there are limited options at the Cape. And bad news because whoever wakes up first makes sure they wake up the other one. Refer to previous mentions of lost sleep.
I’m also missing Captain, in large part for his sandcastle acumen. It’s impressive, occupies many children not just our own and is enjoyable to watch from my beach chair.
It turns out deck building is a transferable skill. He’s also amazing with playdough. His current creation is drying on the counter.
So while everyone’s gone, I have not taken up the sandcastle mantle and we may or may not be catching up on sleep. But I have managed to write a very overdue blog post.
As far as the bad beach weather goes. It better be DONE.
BB’s class fish is staring at me. We’re calling him Fishy-wishy. Formerly known at Flippy.
Back in September there was a class vote to name their two fish. BB had her heart set on Fishy-wishy. I don’t know if she’d spell it with a hyphen, but considering Fishy-wishy depends on me for food now, I’ll punctuate at will.
The two fish were named Flipper and Flippy. Flipper didn’t make it. Tough school year for anybody. Flippy did.
A group text went out to the pre-k families:
“Who wants Flippy for the summer?! We promise not to hold you accountable if the worst should happen.”
YES! We have no dog, no cat, no bunny, no chickens, some bugs (uncontained), some mice (very elusive), why not a fish?
And as always, the gloriousness of Captain working right next to the kitchen is that I can burst in unannounced anytime a text moves me.
“Read this! Should we take the fish?!”
“Do we know what’s involved with taking care of a goldfish? I’d figure that out first. Maybe call a pet store?”
Sigh. Of course he’d recommend research. Google is not promising. Looks like more effort than I’m interested in.
At pick-up I ask BB’s teacher,
“What’s involved with taking care of the goldfish?”
“Oh it’s not a goldfish! It’s a tiny little thing. I feed it and change the water a couple times a month.”
“I can do that!”
BB is not sold. She asks,
“What happens if he dies?”
“We’ll bury him in the backyard or flush him down the toilet.”
“I don’t want Flippy.”
Bad time for dead-fish jokes. I backpedal,
“He could die on anyone’s watch. We might as well enjoy him while we can.”
By the time Fishy-wishy comes home, BB is ready for him to sleep with her.
I insist that he needs to live next to the coffee maker. Things that are in the kitchen are more likely to get fed on a regular basis.
Before this I would’ve said a fish is the last pet I’m interested in. That may still be true, but faced with no pets and a limited two-month engagement, maybe shorter, Fishy-wishy was irresistible.
I may also be holding on to all things pre-k. Where’d baby BB go? She’s DESPERATE to be five. On the playground she informs a random kid,
“I’m four and three quarters, but I wear size five clothes.”
She “graduates” today and last day is tomorrow. Fishy-wishy, formerly known as Flippy, came home yesterday. BB says,
“If anyone from Fishy-wishy’s old life is around, we’ll call him Flippy.”
Last night, as I prep this morning’s coffee, Fishy-wishy stares at me. I stare at him. Is he happy? Does he mind being all alone? Is this small container humane treatment of a fish?
What is going on with me? I expected to be: Fish is alive? Good. Fish is dead? Move on.
I really REALLY didn’t expect to be consumed with personifying Fishy-wishy. But here he is, staring at me while I try to write and I can’t help but ponder his quality of life.
He gets to spend his summer at the beach, watching us eat his brethren, so maybe he’ll just be grateful to be alive. As long as that may last.
Am I a PTA mom? This is the existential life question I’m facing.
Of all the stereotypes I’ve been in my life, the suburban-mom one has hit me the hardest. I’m not sure why.
It’s all choices I want: house, yard, kids, dog (dead now, but he was great). Yet moms talking about arts and crafts still makes me feel cringey. Makes me want to pack up my family and backpack around the world for a year. Or a summer. Or whenever everyone uses a toilet.
Two more weeks and BB graduates from pre-k. One more summer and she’s off to kindergarten with 180 of her closest friends. It’s a school with 10 kindergarten classes. I can’t wrap my head around that.
In April there was a FB post about a PTA meeting for her future school. April Jessica was fully vaccinated and signing up for everything.
The PTA emails me back,
“You’re welcome to attend, but if you wanted to wait until our June meeting, there may be more that pertains to incoming kindergarteners.”
Good plan. I wait. The June meeting comes along. Should I go? My calendar is filling up, but I’m eager for as much information about school as possible.
I take my suburban-mom self to the meeting. They need help with next year’s book fair. My hand shoots up.
Maybe I’ll never volunteer for anything again, but I have a hard time saying no to books. They continue,
“Could we train a parent to use the cash register this year?”
“I’m great with a cash register.”
Everyone stares at me. If I can make change for incoherent, drunk adults, I’m confident I can make change for book-loving five-year-olds.
It’s very nice to have face time with the principal and vice-principal. Maybe reason enough to go to the meetings. The vice-principle mentions,
“All the supplies are in for the science kits, we just need to assemble them.”
One of the women in charge volunteers,
“We can stay and help you.”
OH DEAR. This is testing my resolve. I stay. I start assembling kits. How long do I need to stay? I make it through one package of straws, 2 straws per kit. I grab my bag, yell nice to meet everyone and make one of the most awkward exits of my life. Followed by a great sense of relief that I’m no longer assembling science kits.
I send the requested follow-up email to confirm my interest in helping with the book fair. I haven’t heard back yet.
I don’t know when the last time is you went to the podiatrist. For me it was Monday. Nothing has made me feel quite as old as this did.
When I hear the word podiatry, I think of eighty-year-olds. I remember hospital rounds with my dad and old guy toes with nails so long they were curling in spirals at the end of his feet.
In retrospect, feet sticking out of a hospital bed were just about eye level for 7-year-old Jessica. No wonder that memory is here to stay, even if on a good day, I feel lucky to remember my name.
After answering numerous sports-related questions, I’m guessing people younger than 80 go to a podiatrist. I can get over myself, or continue on with a whole post about my feet. You’re welcome.
Twenty-five ish years ago, probably the year I grew 4 inches all at once and had no idea where my body started and stopped, I fell going up the stairs. I don’t know what I did. Broke a toe? Dislocated a toe? Whatever it was, it hurt BAD, but I wasn’t going to tell anybody and risk not being able to go play.
I had always been fond of that toe. I loved that it looked it like ET. It healed kinda funny and I was left with one ET toe, the counterpart on my other foot.
After the original injury I could never bend it again, but it’s also never given me any pain. So c’est la vie. Or so I thought, until a few weeks ago I wondered, is it growing? Nah.
Then without me mentioning anything, my mom asks,
“Is your toe getting bigger?”
YES! I think it is! In general I’m the opposite of a hypochondriac, but now it was a little hard not to worry. As far as I know, my toes should NOT be growing.
I make a podiatry appointment. I feel awkward. They ask,
“Was there an injury?”
“Yes? Twenty-five years ago.”
I head in for my appointment. It’s a hot, beautiful day and I’m in a new sundress and flip-flops because why not? This getting out and about thing feels so novel.
As I’m waiting for my x-rays, I overhear the technician speaking to another patient,
“Oh wow, look at all those necklaces! We’re going to have to take them off.”
I can only imagine this being said to someone under 5 or over 80, which may confirm the podiatry demographic.
Once in the exam room, the doctor walks in, takes one look at me and walks right back out. I hear him tell someone in the hall,
“If they’re wearing a short dress, I need you to cover their legs.”
“Anything above the knee.”
I’m grateful for that clarification, because even if I don’t consider myself podiatry old, I feel a little old for a “short” dress. Also I don’t define a dress above my knee as short.
With my legs properly covered, the doctor starts off with the good news,
“Looks like arthritis.”
“Is it normal for it to suddenly grow like that?”
He makes a face. I realize,
“Has it been growing all along and I just noticed it?”
“Your warranty expired when you turned 35.”
So it did.
“It’ll keep growing and if it ever starts to bother you, we can shave it down.”
“Shave it down?!!” I’M GOOD. “Is there anything I can do to stop it from growing?”
“Flip flops aren’t great.”
“Never mind. Not sure why I asked, if I’m not willing to make any changes.”
I take my toes and unwarranted self out of the office. The receptionist calls after me,
“Hope you feel better!”
“Thank you I feel great!” If just a little bit closer to 39.
While we’re talking about fashion, BB dressing herself tests my self control almost as much as trying to do arts and crafts together.
Over a year ago it was easy,
“BB it’s the middle of winter, you cannot go to school in your bathing suit.”
Six months later it got a little harder,
“I don’t think you’re allowed to wear Minnie Mouse ears to school.”
“Can you just ask them?”
Turns out she IS allowed to. Too bad they got buried in the bottom of the dress-up bin after that.
Now we’re at the point of no return. In the morning BB asks what the weather is like, what activities are on the docket and what sleeve length I would recommend. She takes it from there.
This makes it sound like she’s amenable to my input, but it’s a ruse. It’s permissible to yell ideas up the stairs, but setting foot in her room before 9am is certain disaster.
My picking out a specific item of clothing will, best case scenario, result in my being scoffed at, or worst case, cause a complete melt down.
I avoid the melt down. Just like I’m capable of doing a decent job on a toddler arts and crafts project, I can also match a shirt and leggings. But I’ve let this go. Or so I keep telling myself.
It’s harder to match a tank top, sweatshirt, leggings, skort, 3 bows and a headband, but now that I’ve seen it done. Why not go to school like that?
BB tells me,
“I need help tucking in my shirt. You can’t see my skort.” Very true.
It turned out to be a peer-approved ensemble and she came home happy.
She’s confident. And her confidence is a precious, slippery thing. But does one say anything about over-confidence? I’ve erred on the side of nothing.
There was an art show at her school. The artists ranged in age from two to six. BB declares,
“I’m the best artist. I’m great!”
“You’re very good.”
“I’m better than Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Monet and Kandinsky.”
“Oh yeah?” I don’t know about all that, but at 4.75 BB has more art appreciation than I had after my entire education. BB adds,
“So-and-so just scribbles. Their mom is going to be very disappointed.”
She’s an artist and she knows how she wants to dress. I’m all for it. Even if each new combination tests my resolve. And yes I know I’m the one supplying the clothing. I just didn’t anticipate everything being worn at the same time.
For swim lessons she put on a one piece and then put on a two-piece bottom over the one piece.
“You’re wearing two swimsuits. You could wear the bottoms with a top or just wear the one piece.”
“Mom, I know these don’t match and I know I’m wearing bathing suits with two vagina parts. That’s how I want to do it.”
One shot down, one to go! Good thing, because I just opened my last box of Girl Scout cookies.
From January until now I survived on 30 boxes of cookies, an immense amount of coffee, a normal amount of wine (just earlier and earlier in the day) and a renewed appreciation for being healthy, aside from all the cookies, wine and coffee.
The mass vaccination site brought me to tears. WHAT A YEAR. Hard to believe we might be pulling out of this. I wondered how long I could sit there with Captain under the guise of ruling out anaphylactic shock while enjoying a brief moment together without our children.
I wouldn’t be in a decent place without: sunshine, solo walks, people I managed to see, friends I got to talk to, frozen food, take-out, RB sleeping through the night, Captain and I sleeping in the same bed again and the Elsa doll that sings “Let It Go” in its entirety.
At 18-months old BB was starting to sing the ABCs. At 18-months old RB is singing “Let It Go.” As in she is belting out the one word she knows all the time. Something like this:
Throws her arms out to the side, turns in a circle,
“GO! GO! GOOOOOOO!”
I cannot begin to describe the volume on this.
I wonder if I’m failing RB or if her doing everything BB does is somehow going to work out for her. She may not have many words, but she’s ready to join BB’s pre-k soccer team.
In a year of groundhog days, tasks were on repeat. Laundry. Cleaning. Food. Start over. But for whatever reason, there’s one task that never ceases to surprise me: cutting the kiddos’ nails.
I survive giving two slippery characters a tubby, plop them in front of the TV and cut BB’s nails while RB screams at me for holding BB and not her. Then I cut RB’s nails while she screams at me to release her.
Then I brush my hands off and think to myself, ‘That’s that!!’
Only it isn’t and two weeks later I’m shocked to see how long everyone’s nails are.
This has been going on for years.
Anyway. Not sure where I’m going with this post. But did I mention we’re on our way to being fully vaccinated?
BB questions me,
“So if the parents are vaccinated, does that mean the kids don’t have to wear masks anymore?”
I wish! But this does mean we’re a lot less likely to die and leave you orphaned.
First the pandemic, then the demise of skinny jeans. I thought we had hit rock bottom, but last week I sank to a new low. I embarrassed 4-year-old BB.
My intentions were pure: loving, caring parenting, but like many moms before me, all I was was an embarrassment. I knew this was my destiny. I just thought I had a few more years before the pedestal I was enjoying crumbled beneath me.
It started with a potty break. Or 50 of them. BB was going to the bathroom every 10 minutes. I called the doctor. They recommended going in. So we did. But not before we went to the bathroom one more time.
What was I thinking? Of course they wanted a urine sample from BB and of course, even though she felt like she had to go, she didn’t. We exited the bathroom empty handed and returned to the exam room to drink apple juice.
Five minutes later,
“I need the bathroom.”
“Let’s wait a little bit. Remember it feels like you have to go, but you just went and you didn’t.”
“I really need to go.”
I manage to get her to wait another five minutes. Then she becomes adamant. We give it another shot. It’s a single use bathroom, very large and private.
I don’t know who’s tried to get a urine sample from a 4 year-old, but contrary to Captain’s assumption, I was NOT relaxing nearby. I was on my hands and knees in front of the toilet, elbow deep in the bowl, trying to keep the sample cup pressed against her crotch because she’d squeeze out a drop here or there and I didn’t want to miss a molecule.
“I don’t have to go.”
“Can you try a little more? If not, we need to go back to the room and wait until you can.”
She agrees to keep trying, but is upset about the whole thing and not relaxed at all. I’m sure that isn’t helping.
After I gave birth to BB, I was torn from end to end. I sat on the toilet afraid to ever go again. And I’m talking about urine. They had me relax my jaw, wiggle my tongue and make a “lululululu’ sound. It worked! It’s very hard to keep your crotch clenched if your mouth is completely relaxed.
I offered this hard-earned advice to BB,
“Imitate me, lulululu.”
“What? Do it with me. LULULULULU.”
“MOM! SHHH!! They’ll hear you!”
My legs are burning from squatting in front of the toilet. I keep missing precious drops of pee because as soon as BB starts to go at all, she drops her head down to watch, which means I can’t see what I’m doing and pee trickles up my arm. I’m doing everything I can and all I’m succeeding at is embarrassing her.
After 15 minutes in the bathroom, we both regard the urine barely covering the bottom of the sample cup. BB asks,
“Is that enough?”
“I don’t know.”
We exit. I hold out our offering to the powers that be. I whimper,
“Is there any way that this is enough?”
I have never been so relieved in my life. And thank goodness BB is healthy. She just needs to stay hydrated. She’s never been one to drink enough and my reminders were useless.
Now all I have to say is,
“Make sure you drink, we don’t want to go to the doctor.”
She runs for her water bottle. Maybe out of fear of the urine sample or an embarrassing mom. Or both.
I can almost taste this vaccine. And it feels like it’s going to be an amazing summer.
When the pandemic started, I had two little people who were determined to fight over anything no matter what. I went with the motto of not negotiating with terrorists.
Then at some point during the slog of this past year, as both kiddos screamed and fought over one puppy stool because the 5 other stools in our home are NOT the same as the puppy stool, I thought to myself: “Maybe life WOULD be better with TWO puppy stools.
I put it in my Amazon cart to think about it, then immediately clicked “buy now.” Sure, I’ll throw $20 at the wall and see if it brings us a little peace.
It did not.
It has proved my initial reaction correct. No negotiating. If they are determined to fight with each other, duplicate items will not appease. I’m better off saving my money for a rainy day or whatever day it is when we go out without our children.
I just read an amazing parenting book. It covered many tactics I’ve read elsewhere, but the way this book put everything together and told me exactly how to do it, really resonated. We’ve made changes and things are looking up.
The book makes the case for few or no toys. I’m not rushing to get rid of everything, but I sure wouldn’t mind scaling back on the gift giving. Why does the Easter Bunny already have a huge bag of gifts in my closet? We don’t have room for what we have. I climb over a trampoline to get to my couch.
And if I thought duplicate items would also be interchangeable. I was very VERY wrong. BB knows which puppy stool is hers and RB is NOT allowed on it.
This post has more all caps than usual. Maybe a reflection of the strong competitive feelings around here.
BB claims she and RB are “besties.” I want to believe that. And considering BB is now willing to change RB’s poopy diapers, maybe it’s true. And don’t get confused. Willing is very different from able.
One theory of the book is that allowing BB to “help” with the dirty diapers today, creates a go getter, self initiator who may, two years from now, wipe RB’s butt all by herself. And if that isn’t parenting success, I don’t know what is.
You’re right. They’re not EXACTLY the same. The original is missing some whiskers. It’s been noted.
I miss people. I miss the women I used to see at yoga and zumba; I don’t even know their names. I miss our favorite grocery store cashier. I miss the various moms I used to chat with just about anywhere. I miss sitting at a bar surrounded by people I’d rather not talk to.
I miss bartending. I used to talk to SO MANY PEOPLE. Never mind eat all their leftovers.
I read an article along this vein and it has allowed me to acknowledge that I really really miss the random people in my life who I don’t even know.
I was out for my daily walk the other day. As I passed another person, I threw out a standard,
At which point he fills me in on everything going on in his life. I have not met this neighbor before. And in pre-pandemic life I would have done the slow inching away, signaling that the conversation is all done I’ve got other things to do. But I do not have other things to do. It’s a pleasure to meet your dog, please tell me more.
During another walk a random car pulls over a safe distance away from me and the driver rolls down the window. Pre-pandemic my reaction would’ve been disinclination to talk and keep moving. This time I stop in my tracks and return the realtor’s greeting with a cheerful “hello!”
Sorry I do not know anyone interested in selling their house. Unless it’s possible to sell a house with a half-finished deck? KIDDING. Not kidding. I’ll be at the Cape all summer, let me know when it’s done.
Turning the corner on a year for the pandemic and year three for the deck. It’s anyone’s guess which will be done first.
I can’t even text with all these random people I’m missing. It’s just a big empty void. Like where the railings and stairs of my deck are supposed to be.
When I sat down to write this blog I hadn’t intended to make a deck pandemic life analogy, but here we are.
I’m in love with my family, blessed beyond what I could have ever imagined. They’re the concrete filled sonotubes of my deck. If you don’t know what sonotubes are, consider yourself lucky.
But I also wouldn’t mind some more people in my life. Kinda like a deck is nice but a deck with railings, throw pillows and cocktails is even nicer.
Sleeping arrangements around here are flexible. There are numerous options, some more desirable than others. As I was reminded of the other night, when BB’s feet sidled up to my cheek.
When BB was born, I was under the false impression that a crib would be useful. By 5 months old we abandoned even attempting it and she moved into the bed with me. Captain moved to the couch.
From 11 months old to 18 months old, BB slept in her crib. Miracles do happen.
From 18 months to 2.5 years old, we took turns sleeping with BB on a mat on the floor in her room, next to her awesome, car, toddler bed that proved more useless than the crib.
From 2.5 – 3 years old BB slept by herself, in a full-size bed, in her room.
From 3 – 4 years old BB and Captain slept in her full-size bed, in her room.
From 4 until present day, except for Valentine’s Day, BB has slept by herself, in her room, with 3 night lights, the hall light, and many whispers downstairs to see if anyone wants to come up for another snuggle.
When RB was born, I wasn’t messing around. She went straight into our bed.
When she got roly poly, we moved to the mats on the floor. Captain started taking the occasional turn.
And miracle upon miracle, at 15 months old we night weaned and for the last month she has slept by herself in her crib. Praise be.
Captain and me, in our king size bed, with no little people. It’s a real treat. I look forward to it almost as much as I look forward to coffee.
Then BB started begging to sleep with us. I tried to put her off with vague,
“Oh maybe someday.”
“When? What day?”
“What day? When can I sleep with you?”
“How about Valentine’s Day?”
And that is how I agreed to her sleeping with us again, for ONE romantic night.
We all fell asleep parallel with each other. BB somewhat closer to Captain as he has agreed he can sleep with any of us snuggled up to him. But it turns out he has his limits. Around 1am I hear him grumbling,
“This is ISN’T working!”
BB is so far away from me; I’ve been sleeping so well. I peer over. Captain has all of 3 inches of mattress. He moves BB over. Two hours later: KICK KICK KICK. Feet are pounding into my lower back.
King size beds are big, but not big enough for a 4.5 year old to sleep horizontally with anyone else. I move her body back toward Captain.
I’m fast asleep again. Then WHAM to my face. WHAT IN THE NAME OF?! I wake up ready to fight someone. BB’s feet are at my head. Her face is snuggled up next to Captain’s and they’re both snoring away.
Anyone else watching this season of The Bachelor? I’m continuing along with my general pandemic philosophy: anything goes.
Five cups of coffee? Sure. Whip cream straight from the can into my mouth at 7am? Why not? My children eating frozen chicken nuggets straight from the bag? More power to them. My children also eating frozen green beans? I’m officially winning. Mind-numbing reality TV with a great set of abs? Yes please!
It’s season 25. I’ve caught the occasional episode from seasons 1-24, but for the most part TV and I don’t have a huge relationship. I’m committed to the Daily Show with Trevor Noah and videos of my children.
I’m one of those terrible people who can’t handle any suspense and will read the last chapter of a book before continuing along from the beginning. If my favorite character is going to die or come to some other devastating end, I like to be emotionally prepared for it.
Same goes for The Bachelor. I’ve read all the online spoilers. I couldn’t help myself. This guy seems like he likes all the women or at least he’s kissing all of them. No matter how many times I remind myself that they’re all quarantined and healthy, I still find the germ sharing shocking.
Captain is not a fan. There are many more feminine body parts floating around than rock hard abs, but CNN wins him every time.
I do the news doomsday scroll throughout the day so that by the time Matt James is ready to kiss 15 different women on a farm while they shovel manure and chase goats. I’m all in.
Never mind that I’ve always been partial to goats.
A year ago, when the pandemic was just a twinkle in our eye, I went to the vascular surgeon to see about my painful veins.
Nothing against RB, but it was her pregnancy that did me in. My veins bulged, throbbed, ached. I wore compression tights every day and then after I gave birth my veins had the nerve to clot, cause more pain and then a residual dull ache for the rest of time, otherwise known as the last 15 months.
My surgeon suggested wearing compression tights forever or radiofrequency ablation. An almost painless in-office procedure that would relieve my symptoms and required no down-time for recovery. Sign me up!
On the way out the door, I asked,
“Does insurance cover this?”
I bounced out of the office with a surgery date of early March 2020.
My insurance denied me. My surgeon recommended another ultrasound. We resubmitted the claim.
My surgeon was confident that it should be covered, so we appealed.
Denied a third time. It’s now July 2020.
Our health insurance is a real con.
My aching legs were low on my list of concerns for 2020, but they were unrelenting and followed me around everywhere.
My surgeon, still confident my procedure was medically necessary, submitted my claim for an external appeal in August 2020.
In November 2020 my insurance informed us that they had never submitted it for an external appeal. We tried again.
January 4th 2021, I received a letter:
“Carrier’s decision overturned… procedure is medically necessary… request approved.”
I danced a little jig and tried to remember exactly what the procedure was again. Something to do with my legs.
And in case I was getting too smug about my insurance coverage, a follow-up letter said the procedure would only be covered until March 31st, 2021.
My surgeon was fully booked. They squeezed me in.
My left leg was completed last week and my right leg is scheduled for next week.
The left leg day will go down as one of the best days I’ve had in a very long time: several hours out of the house, without children and a successful, insurance covered procedure.
As the surgeon injects anesthesia in multiple spots along my leg, he keeps muttering,
“I’m getting a lot of resistance.”
“You have young skin.”
“YOUNG SKIN?! I feel very middle-aged.”
“Well your skin is young.”
And that sealed the deal. BEST day. I tell him,
“I feel like I’ve aged so much in one year.”
“Haven’t we all.”
My young skin and I skipped, hopped, hobbled out of there. My left leg already feels like a million bucks. Holding my breath for my right leg.
I have to wear compression tights again. I’m supposed to wear them for 2 weeks after each procedure. After my pregnancy I was ready to burn these tights, but as I squeezed my legs in and smushed all the extra thigh up and out of the top, I was hit with intense waves of nostalgia.
The last time I wore these I was pregnant with RB. I may end up storing these in her memory box. I’m sure she’ll appreciate that.
A few days before my procedure, BB’s school mentions,
“Waiting on a COVID test for a classmate.” And p.s. someone at school has lice.
Classmate’s test was negative and knock-on-wood, no sign of lice. Never felt so good to return to the pandemic status quo, but with at least a leg up.
Happy New Year! Thank you Georgia; thank you Stacey Abrams. Thank you to my child’s preschool. I feel grateful for every day that BB is in school.
When we started in September, we thought three days a week was good. I cannot express how wrong we were. I shot out an SOS email and we switched to four days. If her school had space, she’d be going for five.
They say Americans have been drinking more. All I know is that RB’s 4th word is “cheers.”
And in the morning she drinks straight from her pretend coffee pot, which is what I’d do if it weren’t for Captain.
Christmas was good. Only problem was that Santa brought presents for RB too.
BB’s survival instincts are unstoppable. Faced with plenty of food, love, shelter, clothing, attention, toys, she will not relent until RB is screaming because she ripped whatever it was out of her hands.
And RB has perfected the 30 second tantrum. She throws herself face down on the ground, screams, pops up and moves on.
Santa stuffed BB’s stocking full of Frozen underwear. BB asks,
“Have these been washed?”
They have been, but now I see the error of my ways. I ask,
“Do they smell like they’ve been washed?”
“Maybe Mrs. Claus washed them?”
I instantly regret that. Who am I to force stereotypical gender roles on characters I feel very ambivalent about? Neither of whom are doing any laundry.
I’ve had enough of this Santa guy for awhile. Everytime BB misbehaved, not only did I have to tend to that, but then I had to deal with her anxiety over whether or not Santa would still bring her presents. I reassure her for the millionth time,
“You’re going to get Christmas presents no matter what.”
“That’s not what M at school says.”
M is a fellow four-year-old. “I understand she thinks that, but no matter how you behave, there will be presents.”
The next day it happens again: BB screaming, then screaming and crying because of the aforementioned screaming and now worry over presents. Again,
“You will be getting presents.”
“I told M that and she said you’re wrong.”
I have fallen hard and fast. Not only am I no longer seen as all-knowing, I am somewhere below BB’s pre-school peers.
By the last day of school vacation, we’re about to self-destruct.
Despite our living room being overrun with every type of plaything imaginable, Santa did bring presents after all, BB decided to drag the lifejackets out of the basement.
RB was happy to take the lifejacket that BB wasn’t using, but then BB wasn’t going to be happy until she took it away from RB.
With both children screaming, Captain emerges from his “office,” otherwise known as the room next to the screaming. He facilitates the donning and doffing of lifejackets until everyone is happy and there’s no risk of drowning.
“I can’t wait for the vaccine.”
And you know she’s not talking about the flu. She continues,
“I’m excited to go somewhere.”
“Where do you want to go?”
“Anywhere? No place in particular?”
I’m with you girlfriend.
2021? Our underwear is washed, our lifejackets are on, we’re ready for you.
This is the most relaxing Christmas season I’ve had in the entire 7 years I’ve been celebrating. There’s the undercurrent of COVID anxiety and missing friends desperately, but a little death threat in the air reminds me that what I have is so much and so precious.
Run Run Rudolph is blasting in the living room. BB starts dance jumping screaming out of her mind,
“This is JoJo Siwa! This is JoJo Siwa!”
“JoJo Siwa. I didn’t know this was her song!”
“It’s not. She’s covering it.”
“It is. She’s singing it.”
I let it go. Not my hill to die on. I ask Captain,
“Do you know who JoJo Siwa is?”
This is the beauty of him working next to the kitchen. I can ask him any number of important questions at anytime.
I head to the internet. I now know that I’m super out of touch and it’s amazing we’ve gone this long without knowing about her. Kinda like the year I avoided ever hearing the Baby Shark song.
JoJo Siwa seems to be responsible for all unicorns, rainbows and glitter. She’s also the creator of 7,000 different bows. BIG bows. But you probably already know this.
Turns out the Hanukkah bow I bought for BB, super big and sparkly BTW, is a JoJo Siwa bow. Which according to BB is a good thing.
Google informed me that she’s huge with the toddler set. I could’ve told you that considering all BB’s knowledge about her was from other 4-year-olds at school.
I don’t know where we go from here. Is it too late to pretend I still have no idea who she is? I did learn she has a nacho machine in her kitchen. Something I could aspire to.
We’re ready for Santa. BB continues to ask a gazillion questions. I don’t know how long this tale can hold up to the interrogations.
“Do the reindeer come down the chimney?”
“No way. Just Santa.”
“Then how do they eat the carrots?”
“Maybe they do come down the chimney? Ask Dad. He’s the expert.”
“Santa goes around to the front door and lets them in.”
The front door and lets them in?!? I confront him later. I have an excuse, but shouldn’t he have this Santa story sorted out?
Now Santa just needs to decide if the presents go inside or outside the baby gate. Maybe both sides? It could keep the little people from killing each other. RB is happy to open all presents. BB will lose her mind if RB breathes on anything belonging to BB. And BB will be desperate to play with a baby stacking toy if it means taking it away from RB.