Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lessons Learned from an Overscheduled Weekend

Lesson No. 1: Don't ever do this to yourself again. Three birthday parties, a basketball game, a dinner meeting, a church meeting, and church is a lot to pack into one weekend. Too much. What on earth was I thinking? William the Extrovert loved it, but Mommy the (Much Older) Extrovert is getting too old for this kind of pace.

Lesson No. 2: Grandparents really do make the world go 'round. Without my parents and my in-laws, there is no way I could have gotten everyone to their appointed and respective events this weekend. Not unless I cloned myself or acquired a time machine (or ideally, both). Since David was down with the flu* this weekend, the grandparents were even more of a godsend. (*Apparently we needed another challenge.)

Lesson No. 3: Eggs are good. Everyone in my household ate eggs on Saturday, and we were all remarkably cheerful after that. I guess the protein gave us some much needed energy and fended off any hunger-related meltdowns. Note to self: if you forget Lesson No. 1, at least make sure to remember Lesson No. 3.

Lesson No. 4: Do as much as you can in advance. Make sure the car's gas tank is full. Buy birthday presents in advance, wrap them and have them ready to go in advance, pack changes-of-clothes and backpacks in advance. Store things in the car so you don't forget them. Don't plan on "picking anything up" along the way because there is just not going to be any time to do this. Okay, I actually already knew this lesson and had all the birthday gifts and cards ready to go, but sure enough, that proved to have been a Very Good Idea.

Lesson No. 5: It's okay if you have to yell. Sometimes you get frustrated. We're human, after all. This morning, I felt terrible after I screamed--literally screamed--at Andrew this morning when he shut the locked door in my face, leaving me in the garage and him in the kitchen. With the clock ticking and us becoming increasingly more likely to be late to church. I'm trying to yell less these days, and while that's a good and noble approach, sometimes someone does something that really necessitates a good honest-to-God yelling. I apologized for it afterward. For the screaming and yelling. Not for the being-frustrated part. I'm still trying to yell less, but the world didn't collapse when I did have a bad moment.

Lesson No. 6: It's good to have at least a few moments of downtime in between all the activities, if there's any possible way to swing it. I managed to take William to eat breakfast at Bread & Company after his crack-of-dawn basketball game on Saturday, and it was seriously the best part of my weekend. William and me and a plate of eggs. (See Lesson No. 3.) We really weren't there for that long but it was long enough for us to just relax and be together. We talked about the recent video made of the reclusive giant squid and all sorts of crazy stuff. Afterward, William asked if we could have another breakfast date again together soon. Heck yeah, I told him. It was awesome.

So we survived our hectic weekend, and we lived for me to tell the tale on my blog. Not too bad. David's on the mend, and no one had a meltdown all weekend long, save for my little garage yelling episode. But I'd say that we're all pretty glad that our busy busy busy weekend is behind us. to bed with me!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The tumbling tot

It's lousy to be the second kid. Or the third kid, if you have three, which I don't, but it's the same concept.

When William was a toddler, we did Gymboree and Kindermusik classes together. We went to the children's playrooms. We did storytimes at bookstores and libraries. We went to the zoo, to the botanical garden, the science museum. I earnestly took him anywhere that I could think of to entertain and enrich him.

Then I had another baby. Immediately, that baby, who will turn three next month, got dragged along to soccer games, and t-ball games, and swim lessons and church choir practice, and preschool performances and, yes, storytime and trips to the zoo or the farmer's market or Monkey's Treehouse. He went to birthday parties in the Baby Bjorn at five weeks of age, and he went to family camp out in the boonies of central Tennessee just a couple of weeks later. He got passed around at church dinners and Bible studies .

Our busy lives went on, and we just brought Andrew along with us.

Andrew will begin his very first activity today in about an hour. I signed Andrew up for a seven-week parent-and-child Tumble Tots class at the YMCA near our house.

I told him about it the other day. He couldn't quite believe it. "I go to Tumble Tots? You go to Tumble Tots with me?" he said, opening his eyes wide. "You be in class with me?"

Oh, yeah, that sound you just heard? That was guilt piercing my heart. This poor sweet child has gamely attended so many soccer practices and birthday parties for his brother's friends. But he's never gotten to do much of anything that was intended for him and him alone.

Well, I have done one thing. Back in the early autumn, I did start taking him to the downtown library's story hour-puppet show on Tuesday mornings. But unfortunately, the demands of my freelance writing career have sometimes taken precedence. We go often, but not all the time. I wish we could go every single time, as Andrew loves it. He may even love it more than William did at the same age. And William really loved it.

So David suggested that I look into a tumbling or gymnastics class for Andrew because he's always been pretty physically agile. And he adores doing his version of yoga whenever he overhears me talking about going to a yoga class at the Y. (He's got a nice downward dog. Tree pose could use a little refining.) It sounded like a good idea.

I had no idea how good an idea it really was. Oh, that face when he grasped that he's finally, finally getting to do a special activity--and not just a special activity, but one with Mommy and not also for or with his big brother. It was like he'd won a major award. Mom's still holding on letting him join a soccer team (I've seen teams of three-year-olds playing soccer, and while the humor value is off the charts, I don't think it's something we need to add to our already busy schedule just yet.) but she's letting him do Tumble Tots.

It doesn't matter if Andrew can tumble. It doesn't matter if he ever learns to tumble. It doesn't matter if he pays attention to the instructor or loves the class. It matters that he knows that he's getting to participate in an activity that was chosen just for him. With his mommy, no less.

Let's just hope that the instructor doesn't ask me to do any tumbling, though.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Sunday Morning in the Balcony

When William is gleefully and noisily slurp-slurp-slurping his little cup of grape juice during communion, I have to remind myself that God really does love him just the way he is.

Boy, though. If sitting through church with a squirmy six-year-old boy doesn't test one's ability to be calm and in control, I don't know what does.

Our church is beginning to have a conversation around what a family-friendly church looks like. What kind of services does it have or should it have? Do we need to make any changes to our services? If we did, what would they look like? Would it be worthwhile to make changes, though, if it alienates some people? What if it bothers the parents of those children who have deliberately chosen to attend our church the way that it is now because of the way that it is now (we presume)?

I think it's worth having the discussion, to be sure.

We attend a big Presbyterian church that has what you might call a "high church" bent to it. And I personally love that. I love High Church. I love the liturgy, the processional, the way that someone carries the big Bible into the church at the start of the service, the hymns, the hymnbook, the responsive recitations. I love the way that the words are worn smooth on the Lord's Prayer, and I love the thundering notes of the pipe organ that I can feel in the bottom of my stomach and in the marrow of my bones. I love it when the choir sings a complicated piece of music written by Haydn or Bach that makes me feel like I've just attended a professional choral concert. I love the way the children's choir members wear floppy white robes and line up on the front steps to sing like the little angels that they weren't behaving like just a few minutes earlier in the hallway.

I love that my child experiences these things each Sunday (or often enough). I love that he will grow up with this as his experience of church. I love the way that he can stand at front of the balcony and look down on the choir members as they process into the sanctuary. I love that he can page through the hymnal and find songs that I remember singing as a little girl, along with newer songs that I sang at Montreat youth conferences and much, much older songs that my grandparents sang in churches far away.  I love that he is participating in the life of a church that wants to nurture his faith by encouraging him to ask hard questions, examine his faith and ponder the possibilities.

But I know that I am not everyone.

And even I admit that it can get very tedious, sitting in the balcony with my child as he wiggles around during the Scripture readings. Our church doesn't have a children's time, so there's little opportunity for the kids to get up and move around during the service. I actually look forward to the times when they serve communion by intinction because we get to walk down the main aisle to receive the elements and then walk back up to our seats. Even better are the weeks with a baptism. William gets to go down front with his friends and see the babies up close. I don't even flinch when all the kids race back to their seats, with William and a few other children pounding up the balcony steps like they're doing wind sprints at a football stadium. They're burning a few calories and burning up some energy, and they're having a positive experience in church at the same time. That's a win-win, in my book.

Would it be good to have more of those interludes? Would other adults find it annoying? Does it matter if they find it annoying, since the children are every bit as important to the church as the adults are--and maybe more? Is there a way to make (almost) everybody happy? Or honestly, is happy not the point? Is the point more about making people of all ages feel included and welcome, and if there are some pounding feet in there, isn't that sort of, well, just fine? Wouldn't it be just fine with God, since He really does love all of us, just the way we are?

Even if our faces have juice stains and our patent Mary Janes are a little scuffed? Even if we're a little hard of hearing and have to use a cane to negotiate the walk from the parking lot to the pew? Even if we're flustered from shepherding a rowdy group of kids and just sort of want a few moments of peace to rest? Even if our kids are grown and we've had a good night's sleep and today we're looking forward to a soul-piercing sermon? Even if we're glad to be there but still have a hard time sitting still and being quiet for 75 minutes? Even if maybe we're not so glad to be there but Mom said we had to be there so what are we going to do about it?

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Gearing up for the Big Boy Bed

This morning, a giggling Andrew bounced up onto my bed and crawled under the covers with me. "Mommy," he announced. "I want a big boy bed. Like William's.

This is the second time in about four days that he has made this announcement. I think he's serious.

William never tried to climb out of his crib, so we kept him in the crib for an unusually long time. In fact, he got his big boy bed about a month before his third birthday. We actually kept the crib in his room for another nine months or so because we didn't want to get rid of it but didn't know where else to put it. But he got to sleep in a twin bed on the other side of the room. And oh, how he loved it.

Andrew doesn't exactly try to climb out of the crib, but he throws his leg over the rail so that William can easily tow him over and out. They started this little routine about a month or so ago. Mr. Social Butterfly gets up fairly early each morning, but apparently, he gets lonely. So he started venturing into his little brother's room and helping Andrew get down from his crib so he'd have someone to hang out with. Andrew now expects this.  David reported that this morning, Andrew wasn't messing around. He was issuing a royal demand, calling, "William! William Wyckoff! Come get me! William Wyckoff!"

I think the boy needs a big boy bed of his very own. I've notified him that he has to give up his nighttime binky once and for all when he moves into a big boy bed. I don't know if that's really sunk in. And I've told him that big boys also use the potty. I know that he knows that, but he is cheerfully content to stick to his own agenda on the potty-training front. Which is to say that he will do it on his own time. Whenever that may be. (Insert resigned eye-roll here.)

I'm totally fine with getting him a big boy bed, but there is a complicating factor at work now. When William gave up the crib, we knew we needed to hold onto the crib. We were planning to eventually have another baby. But Andrew is it for us. No more babies. We don't need to hang onto the crib anymore, but it's going to be very hard to get rid of it. It's a drop-side crib that we ordered from Albee Baby in early 2006. A few years ago, after William was finished with the crib, the Consumer Product Safety Commission began to ban drop-side cribs because of a series of infant deaths. Ours was never recalled. It was and is very sturdy. But the facts remain. We can't sell it or donate it. We basically just have to throw it away. And it's huge. How do you throw away something so large? (And also so nice. It really is a nice crib. I just hate to toss something that never gave us any trouble.) We investigated the possibility of getting a conversion kit, but apparently it's not so easy to procure that sort of thing seven years later. So, oh well. I wouldn't want someone to take a chance on it, obviously, so we will get rid of it.

So the plan is to haul my mother-in-law's second twin bed out of storage, try to polish it up a bit, and then buy a new mattress and linens for Andrew. And I guess we'll take apart the crib and find some way to get it to the junkyard.

Andrew wants sheets "like William's." William currently has Pottery Barn Kids sheets on his bed; he rotates between the National League baseball sheets, the American League baseball sheets, and the Star Wars sheets. Guess I'll take Andrew shopping sometime soon and let him pick out something.