Monday, June 30, 2008

Mommy, not Mama

William has taken to calling me "Mommy" most of the time now. I hear an occasional "Mama" but it's mostly "Mommy" now. And he's started calling David "Daddy" instead of "Dada," too.

I don't know precisely when he made the shift, but I know that it seemed to occur around the time that we went to Natchez. At least, that's when I picked up on it. It's funny how it makes him sound more grown up, somehow. I mean, "Mommy" is still a word that young children use. But it seems less babyish than "Mama," and I'm not sure I can even explain why. Because it's an evolution in his speech? Because he adds it to the end of whole sentences, rather than just blurting out random words here and there?


It's one of those small changes that are at once quiet and startling. Like seeing his long legs when he's sitting in his carseat, or seeing how far down his feet hang when he's riding in his stroller---and then remembering and actually seeing for an instant, in a brilliant flash of memory like the flash of a camera, when his legs were short and chubby or when his feet barely reached the edge of the stroller seat. I hear "Mommy" and it emanates from the mouth of a small boy, not a baby. But I can hear "Mama" coming from the mouth of the baby, too. And I can still see the baby in my head. But then again, the image of the small boy is so strong, so vibrant, that sometimes it takes actually looking at pictures of the baby for me to realize how much William really has changed. I don't fully realize the contrast until I really see it.

This boy

is very different from this boy:

Well. Except for the smile.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Brunch time

I love the delight that William always has for things that I barely even notice. The pair of stone lions in these pictures guard the door to an antique store next to Le Peep, the restaurant where we ate brunch this morning. I've seen them plenty of times and never given them much thought, but to William, they were irresistible.

"Lions down dere! Want see lions," he said, running off down the sidewalk to check them out, up close. "Hewwo, lions!"

And what's a better prop for a good game of hide-and-seek or peek-a-boo that a four-foot-tall stone lion?

After we hung out with the lions for awhile, it was time to eat brunch--you know, the whole reason we were there in the first place. William not only behaved beautifully (hooray!), but he ate his entire plate of food. Okay, I had two small pieces of pancake, and William insisted on feeding a couple of bites of scrambled egg to David, but other than that, he polished off his entire meal.

Don't believe me. Look at his plate here:

And he washed it down with some (more) milk. I want to note here that the menu states that the children's entrees are designed for children ages 12 and under. So we can suppose that there are 10- and 11-year-olds out there eating the same amount of food as my two-year-old.

That's right. My toddler is about to outgrow the children's menu. My parents have always been amazed by how much William eats, and my dad started saying during our last visit to Natchez (after watching his grandson pack away the food) that William eats as much as some adults eat. And of course I like to joke that he eats more than his father already. But you's kinda true!

At this rate, how are we going to be able to feed this kid when he's (gulp) a big hungry teenager?

Friday, June 27, 2008

I fell in pool

How to Induce a Heart Attack in Three Easy Steps:

1. Take toddler to swimming pool.
2. Glance away.
3. Turn back around to see toddler tumbling, head-first, into said pool.

Don't worry. William's okay.

But I'm sure you want to hear the story, or else you wouldn't be here, right?

Karen and I took our three children to the Traceside pool this morning, after a mean old park ranger told her that we couldn't participate in a local nature program because we hadn't made advance reservations. Grumble grumble. Anyway, the kids were ready to frolic outside, so we just moved the frolicking to the swimming pool.

William so loves the baby pool that he rarely, if ever, tries to run off. He never wants to do anything to endanger his chances of getting to come back. So he behaved nicely, played happily with Colin and Olivia, and didn't put up too much of a fuss when we decided the kids had had enough sand and surf for the day.

So while Karen and I were gathering up all our stuff, William was still engrossed with crouching at the edge of the baby pool and playing with a few of the pool toys that someone else had brought. He was so engrossed that he leaned over too far and...sploosh! He dropped like the top-heavy toddler that he is, but quickly started to roll over and surface. And thank God for Karen, because she darted right there and pulled him out. The water's not deep at all, and he was already coming up out of it, but still, I'm glad she was right there.

William, poor little guy, sputtered through all the water streaming down this face and through his eyelashes and stuck out that lower lip. He cried a few freaked-out tears, but he recovered pretty quickly, considering how shocked he must have been that he had just completely and unintentionally submerged himself, head-first, in the pool. I tried to carry him back into the pool with me, sort of a "get right back up on the horse" type of thing. I don't know if it worked or not, but it was just my instinct, once I knew he was okay.

All afternoon, William kept opening his eyes very wide and saying, "I fell in pool," like it was a big piece of news that only he was privileged enough to disclose. Sort of like when he threw up last week and then kept announcing, in a hilariously serious voice, "Food came out my mouth!" It's all in the delivery, I guess. "I fell in pool, Daddy," he told David when David got home from work this evening. Luckily, David, who'd already heard the story, was savvy enough to not overreact to this little nugget. He said something very mild and non-overreacty* like, "Oh you did, did you?" And he asked William if he breathed in any water when he fell in, and William shook his head, seriously and definitively, as if he were the specialist called in to consult with the primary doctor and had All the Answers, "Noooo."

Hmmm. I wonder how long he'll remember that he fell in the pool? Will he be telling all the ladies at church and his teachers at school how he fell in the pool, and will everyone then wonder if they should call child protective services? Is a social worker (other than Diane, I mean) going to show up at my door and conduct an evaluation? Do we need to go on the lam, or will that make things worse? (Where exactly is the lam, anyway, and how does one go on it?) He's fine, everyone, really! He ate about a hundred pretzels this afternoon and corrected my singing of the ABC song. He requested peach after peach after peach at dinnertime, and he ran his typical joyful naked laps before bathtime with absolutely no problems whatsoever.

Anyway, I've mostly recovered, too. I don't think I will need any long-term therapy to fully recover, but I will not rule out the possibilty of a stray nightmare or two. Or a hundred.

*Yes, I just made that word up. But you knew what it meant, didn't you? Uh huh.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


William gets clean and practices his letters all at the same time.

He's such a good multi-tasker.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Picking out produce

Diane and I took William downtown to the Nashville Farmers' Market this morning. I'd never been before, but I love a good farmers' market, so off we went.

Unsurprisingly, it was great! These sorts of places totally bring out the gatherer tendencies buried in my DNA. We loaded up on some early tomatoes, some peaches, a couple of watermelons, some squash and zucchini. I don't know how it came to be that I apparently don't know anyone who is actually growing zucchini and would therefore be willing to foist some off on me for free (hint, hint, if you are such a person), but that's okay. I also bought a small jar of local honey, and Diane bought a gorgeous terra cotta planter. We debated about picking up a small matching planter full of herbs, but we didn't, and now I am starting to wish we had. Oh well.

I also very nearly walked out of there with a blueberry bush...or three...since I love blueberries more than just about any food other than tomatoes. But I resisted. For one thing, I'm not sure I could have fit all three of us, plus our produce, plus a bush in the car. I'm thinking that it might have been sort of mean to cram my son and a big bush together in the back seat of a hot car and expect them to play nicely together on the drive home.

William was a champ. He rode nicely in his stroller and didn't complain. One farmer even gave him a banana as a treat, so he beamed his thanks and proceeded to stuff his face. Later, another man from the same booth gave him two more bananas to take home. That's William's kind of place: free bananas and lots of 'em. Also, he loved looking at everything. Diane gave him a huge sweet potato to hold, and he was fascinated by some of the large zucchini that were as big as his legs. I feel pretty confident in writing, too, that I think he'll enjoy the stuff that we brought home, once he gets a taste of it.

It was a nice way to spend a hot summer morning. It reminded me a little of when I was little, and I'd accompany my mom down to the farmers' market to pick up all the veggies for the co-op she was a member of. It seems like those trips resulted in a lot of purple hull peas, but my memory may be faulty. I have good memories of those trips, but I haven't been tempted to eat purple hull peas in a long, long time. I think I'll stick with my tomatoes and zucchini.

So tonight, we'll be having roasted summer vegetables and sliced tomatoes. And after dinner, we may be total southern cliches and take off our shoes and sit out on the back porch and eat watermelon. Sounds pretty good to me, anyway.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A hug does make it better

The instinctive urge to protect your child from seeing unpleasant things sometimes bumps right up against the unavoidable.

I had a headache today that may have developed from not drinking enough water or from waiting too long to eat lunch. The headache made me nauseated, which got worse as the afternoon wore on. I picked up William from school and after a very fast trip to Publix, we came home so I could collapse on the sofa. I felt terrible because I had promised him a trip to the swimming pool, but I just couldn't face the pool today--actually, I couldn't face the long walk uphill to the pool, let alone the pool itself.

So I plunked my impressionable young son down in front of the TV and proceeded to play three back-to-back episodes of "Sesame Street" for him while I lay on the sofa and felt queasy. Finally, the inevitable occurred. Unfortunately, my inquisitive little son toddled into the bathroom after me. Poor little guy was worried about his mama, but I was,um, otherwise engaged, I suppose, and I just sort of waved him frantically back and hunched over the toilet. But he came back right up to me a few seconds later and said, "I sorry mama sick" and then "I want mama feel better soon."

And then he bent over and dropped his little arms around me hugged me. Because he knew that's what I do to make it all better. And he wanted to make it all better for his mama.

If that's not a glint of the sublime amidst the sordid, well, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If You Give a Toddler a Novel...

I used to eagerly look forward to the latest release by my favorite authors. The new Ann Patchett. The new Jhumpa Lahiri. Even the new Marian Keyes. Well, I still do eagerly anticipate the latest novel or collection of essays or short stories by my favorite's just that my stable of favorites has grown to include some new names.

Tonight I was surfing for an item to add to my order to get the free super saver shipping, and I clicked on the "we have recommendations for you" button. Lo and behold, one of the books was recommended to me is a yet-to-be-published addition to the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" series by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond. It will be released this fall and is titled "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake." And I let out a little squeal of delight.

And not only that, "If You Give a Bear a Brownie" is scheduled for a winter release. Two new books in one of our favorite series! And that really is exciting because not only does William adore them, but I actually really do like those books. They're short, they're funny, and the illustrations are clever.

Sometimes, William gets hooked on a book that doesn't excite me as much. He'll demand that we read it over and over, and yet all I can think of is ways to hide the book until he forgets about it. Primo examples are a couple of the books we received free from the state this year--it's a great program, and I wholeheartedly endorse it, but oh my, could someone not have found a better book than "Big Brother, Little Brother"?

Or he'll get really into a book that takes forever to read. That's not so bad if you can convince him to let you only read a portion of the book. I love "Frog and Toad Together" more than many (most) children's books, but sometimes I just don't want to read all five chapters of it before naptime. Reaching a two-or-three-story truce is much better. A friend of mine once picked up a new children's book at a bookstore and eyeballed it for about five seconds before intoning, "Too many words." I feel like a terrible person and mother for saying this, but yeah, sometimes William's books have too many words. I've buried the otherwise delightful "Strega Nona" deep within the books in William's room because I don't have the energy to read the whole thing in one sitting. Please don't take away my English degree.

So when he gets really into a book that I like and isn't super-long, I rejoice. We may get a little weary of reading "If You Give a Pig a Party" for the four thousandth time (but who wouldn't?) but at least it's short and cute. Hallelujah!

Happy Late Father's Day

I'm embarrassed to be this late about doing it, but I want to wish all the daddies in my life a happy Father's Day. That includes my own daddy, my father-in-law, my grandfathers, my friends who are fathers, and last but definitely not least, my husband.

William with his daddy and his daddy's daddy on Father's Day:

We had a relatively quiet Father's Day, with a family supper here at the house. I made spaghetti, and Diane made strawberry cake. William pronounced the cake "delicious," which cracked everyone up because it's such an adult-sounding word, and it just sounded so funny coming out of his mouth! But well, the cake WAS delicious, so what else could he really have said, you know?

But just so you know, just because I am late in formally wishing everyone a happy father's day, it does not mean that I do not appreciate all the fathering that you all do.

Random father anecdote: David showed William our DVD of "Finding Nemo" for the first time recently. I'd forgotten...or maybe I never really scary parts of the movie can be. But it's not the sharks that scare me's the prospect of losing your child. Gah! Perhaps nervous parents like me shouldn't watch this movie after all. William loved it, however. But David mentioned that he does have an all-new perspective on it--and newfound sympathy for the father clownfish--now that he's a father, too.

Someone should make a list: Things You Should (or Should Not) Revisit Now That You're a Parent. And it should come with warnings, like "Do Not Watch This if You're Prone to Anxiety" or "This Will Make You All Sniffly Now." And it should definitely include big red flags for anything that might set off the Dead Baby Alarm.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Since it was raining (hurrah!) this morning, William met up with his buddy Leland at the Monkey's Treehouse. Leland immediately plunged right into the big sandbox right in the middle of the room. William, however, was not so convinced that he wanted to play in the sand.

At first, he was ready to charge right in there, too. Then he actually felt the sand on the bottom of his toes, and he hesitated.

"Uh oh," I whispered to Mary Clare and Chris. "David was afraid of the sand when he was William's age. He didn't like the way it felt on his feet. I wonder if that's a Wyckoff trait that's been passed down."

We all cheered William on, but it didn't work. He ran off.

But he came back a little later, ready to be challenged. I unbuckled his sandals and he determinedly walked back up to the edge of the sandbox. He finally took a few tentative steps, and moments later, it was if he'd been playing barefoot in sand his whole life.

I thought that was a good thing. Until he flung a big cupful of sand over the top of his head. We brushed and wiped and brushed, but his scalp remained stubbornly coated in a fine layer of sand. When we were outside and a beam of sunlight shone on William, you could see a layer of dusty gold sand, shining through his hair.

Four shampoos. That's how many it took to get the sand out of his hair tonight. At least, we think the sand is out of his hair now...

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's not my child

I had a wonderful moment today at the bookstore.

I had a moment when I was not that mother. I was not the mother of that kid. Yeah, it's probably not very compassionate of me to be relieved that it wasn't my son who threw the extremely heavy bead maze at another small boy, but that's how I felt. Relieved.

The mother sitting across the train table from me whispered, "I've been in that exact position, too." She, too, was relieved that it wasn't her child.

I felt bad, of course, for both the mother of the little boy who heaved the big wooden mass across the room and for the mother of the little boy who blocked it with his tummy and arm. Both boys started wailing--one because he got hit by a big heavy block of wood studded with beads, and the other because he got scolded for throwing it and removed from the play area.

For about three minutes, the air was completely filled with the loud, urgent cries of small boys who were incensed about their lot in life. And my child was not one of them!

Instead, William was sitting complacently in my lap, urging me to read more of "Duck for President." He looked a little alarmed by the wailing at first, but he quickly grew bored and squirmed in my lap, demanding that I keep reading.

And so I did. And the other kids kept playing. And almost every single mother in there either shook her head in sympathy for those two moms because after all, haven't we all been there?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wyckoff Look-alike Meter

Look what I did!

MyHeritage: Look-alike Meter - Geneology - Family search

I saw this on my friend Jenn Fenenoz's blog, and I just had to make one of my own. However I think this one is a joke. Anyone who has seen William knows that he looks far more like David than me. He looks more like his daddy, but I think his temperament is more like mine, God help us all. When I was a little girl, I used to say "cheese!" for a camera and screw up my face into this huge squinty-eyed grin. Guess who's started doing that recently. Uh huh.

Actually, I should make a new chart that has Grandaddy Aaron's picture as an option, since that's who William really resembles!

Anyway, this was fun.

Monday, June 09, 2008

First sighting of the water table

How do you know it's summer at last?

Why, it's the first sighting of the water table, of course!

Released from its umnatural winter habitat (the garage), the domestic water table, or as it is known by its Latin name, the mensa fontis, unfolds its plumage and shakes off the dust in early summer. It then takes up temporary residence in a grassy backyard, typically becoming most active on sunny days and early summer evenings.

The water table's bright colors and water-soaking ability tend to attract small children. Although the water table does not have its own significant call, you can typically deduce that one is in the vicinity by the high-pitched shouts and squeals emanating from its following of the aforementioned small children.

Yes, we dragged the water table out of the garage after dinner, rinsed it out and encouraged William to splash to his little heart's content.

However, he was enthralled by his daddy watering the trees. So he figured, I've got this whole water table's worth of water and a watering can...let me help, too. And so he did. He wanted to make sure the trees all got a nice cool drink of water on a warm summer evening. He's a thoughtful little guy, William is.

We're having an early heat wave here, and frankly, I haven't wanted to take him outside during the day that much. But last night, around 7 p.m., it cooled down enough to feel pleasant outside. We doused the little prince in bug spray and set him loose. I foresee many more evenings like this ahead of us this summer, and that's just fine with me.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Making connections

Every once in awhile, I experience one of those unsettling moments where I realize that my child is paying attention to everything. And he's remembering it all, too.

It's amazing to me how a child's brain develops and evolves. Does anyone here remember how I fretted in the early months of William's life? I worried, "How is he ever going to learn anything if he's just got me to teach him? How do I teach him things? How will he ever learn?" Remember how I methodically read stacks of books to him and tried to explain complicated scenarios to him, back when he couldn't even hold his own head up? Remember how I even tried to explain the 2000 presidential election to him at one point?

The weight of the responsibility staggered me, perhaps even more than just being responsible for his general health and welfare. How was I going to raise a productive citizen who could talk and read and be a benefit to society? Heck, forget all that high-mindedness: how was I even going to teach my child how to tie his shoes and ride a bike?

Today, in the car on the way home from my summer book study at church, William and I were discussing his love of his Babybug magazine. It comes in the mail each month, and William lives for the days when he gets his own item in the mailbox. (And yes, we were actually having a conversation. William's got definite opinions on things these days, and he's not afraid to express them. He must have inherited that trait from his father.) And I said something about how when he's old enough to read, we'll subscribe to another magazine.

William replied, "I can't read yet." But he said it in a tone that conveyed that he both understood what that meant and that he didn't expect it to be a permanent condition. He can't read yet. But he knows that he will read eventually.

And I realized, I worried for months that he wouldn't roll over. Or crawl. Or walk. Or get teeth. Or say words. Or say lots and lots of words. And he's done all those things. And I didn't even really do anything to facilitate it. But he's been paying attention, all these months, and he's put it all together. I've never coached him on grammar or pronouns or things like that, and yet, he's coming out with his very own sentences--real sentences--now. Because he's listened to me and his father and his grandparents and his teachers, and he's started making connections. He remembers words and concepts, and he puts them together.

And for an instant, sitting in the driver's seat, I was almost stunned with the feeling that that is really a small miracle.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

Just so nobody thinks we're dead, I just wanted to say that we arrived safely back in Nashville on Monday night. Yesterday, we ran around like crazy, and today, I took Mom to the airport to fly back to SoMiss.


Can I just say how nice it is to finally sleep down the hall from William again? Not that he isn't totally charming when he's reaching out to touch my face while crooning "Good Monning, Mama! Hewwo! I wuv you! Wake up, Mama!" Oh, my, the "I wuv you" is an absolute killer. It's actually worth it to be woken up at the crack of dawn to hear his little cheerful voice saying that, but the thrice-nightly blanket calls were completely wearing me out. That's even with Mom taking William duty for an extra hour or so each morning to let me sleep in a little.

So it's good to be back in our own separate rooms. I've been conferring with other parents of toddlers, and the sentiment is universal. Separate rooms when traveling are all good. Bunking together in one room is pretty much all bad. But temporary. And it was worth it to spend some time in Natchez.

We do miss Mama Judi and Grandaddy Johnny, though. They were very nice to put up with us and our ocean of Thomas the Tank Engines, Knuffle Bunny books and shoes for almost two weeks. We left waves of toys, books, sippy cups, and raisins in our wake, and they didn't complain.

It was also very meaningful for me to attend my Mama Lou's 90th birthday celebration. I was unable to make it to my Grandaddy Bill's 90th party back in December, so it was especially important to me to make it to this one. Mom organized a big birthday luncheon at the historic Eola Hotel last Saturday, and we had about20 relatives attend. Mama Lou even got a little bit choked up when we asked her to blow out her birthday candles; it's not often we can pull together all of her living relatives, so I know it must have been special for her.

Me and Mama Lou:

And Mama Lou and her great grandson:

Mama Lou and Grandaddy Bill, who are my father's parents, are very special people, and I've been lucky to have them in my life for so long. Not many women in their 30s can say they have three living grandparents, but I can. And I wanted William to be there, too. He won't remember, but I will. And I can tell him about it, just like my parents always tell me about my visits with my great-grandparents. My parents have a fading photograph of me sitting on a giant pumpkin in the lobby of the assisted living facility where my great-grandmother lived. I don't know if I really remember visiting her, or if I've just seen the photo and heard the story enough times to incorporate them into my own memories. Either way, I'm glad that the memory, wherever it came from, exists for me.

William and the Larson men:

Me and William (couldn't leave those out, could I?)