Things that don’t belong in noses…

This week my husband and I leveled up in parenting. Cricket snagged an apple from the fruit bowl Sunday night for a pre-dinner snack. I heard her give a little cough and glanced over to make sure she hadn’t started to choke. She stood there beside the table with her eyes wide and her arms stiff at her side.

“Honey, are you okay? Did you get some down the wrong pipe?”

“Is in my nose.”

“You got some apple up your nose?”

“No, da ticker.”

My brain kicked into overdrive for a few seconds trying to figure out what a ticker is.  “You’ve got a sticker in your nose? What sticker?”

“Da Apple ticker.”

“You rolled the apple sticker up and stuck it in your nose? Does it hurt?”

She nodded. I rubbed my face with my hands and tried not to panic. Visions of emergency room doctors with probes danced in my mind. I reminded myself that nose-stashing was bound to happen at some point. Thankfully, the sticker was shallow enough in her nasal cavity that I could see it with the flashlight.

Her dad trundled downstairs with the tweezers, and a moment later he had removed the offending label from her orifice. She grinned, did a little jig, and went back to eating her apple, leaving us to ponder what it is that makes a preschooler think that sticking and apple sticker up the nose would be a good idea.

Now according to the nifty book our pediatrician gave us when our first daughter was born, you’re not supposed to try to use tweezers to pull out objects from children’s noses. That can actually push the objects deeper. You’re supposed to have them gently blow it out.  But Cricket still doesn’t quite understand the difference between blowing and sniffing and the possibility that she would actually hork it back into the dark recesses of her sinuses were pretty high.  So we went with the tweezer route.

With a preschooler, there truly is never a dull moment.  They are just all id all the time with no reason whatsoever for most of the things they do.  It’s a wonder any of us make it past our 10th birthdays.  I hope this is the end of our nasal adventures, but I wonder what she has in store for us next.

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Books in her Voice

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When the Grasshopper reads, I wonder what she hears.

When I read, I used to hear the words in my head as if I was speaking with the voices of the characters, as if they were telling the story to me in my own voice.  I would carefully pronounce strange names in my mind and almost whisper the dialogue.  By middle school, I lost that.  Too many books, too fast, and my reading pace increased from a clip to a run.  Now, I don’t hear voices at all when I read.  A cousin of mine in Japan talked about reading Kanji, how it is like an instant data dump of information into your mind.  For me, so is reading English.  I don’t have time to hear the words or the voices.  The book simply connects with my brain and we sync our data.  I like the intimacy of this.  The words disappear and instead of letters and punctuation, I see colors and hills and people living their lives.  I step into an alternate reality like Neil Stephenson’s Metaverse.

Still, looking over at my daughter reading, her lips whispering the words, I wonder.  Does she hear the words in her head yet?  Do the characters speak to her in her own voice?

 

Dear Other Mother: Little Boys and Gender Roles

Dear Mom I Saw in the Baby Store a Few Weeks Ago,

I saw you and your son on the way out the door as my daughter and I were choosing finger nail polish, and the two of you have been on my mind ever since. Your son was rocking a Princess Anna dress and I could tell by the smile on his face and the bounce in his step that he was feeling amazing. I want to thank you Other Mother. There are so many ways to be a boy, and you were letting your son shine in his own way. I have an older daughter that has taught me that there are lots of ways to be a girl, too. I wanted to say something to you, but you were on your way out and I know that you have to take advantage of the toddler momentum when you find it. Also, I was a little choked up. I said to my own toddler what an awesome mommy you were for letting your son be who he is, and I hope you heard me. You caught my eye and smiled at me, so I think you did. Thank you for letting your son be just exactly who he is.

I wish you both well,
Me.

I posted this letter in my local mom’s group hoping this mom would see it, but I don’t think she ever did.

Why was it so important to me to reach out to this woman who I had never met? Because I imagine other people are reaching out to her, and my guess is that they aren’t doing so in a positive way.

There is often a great deal of pressure for little boys to grow up quickly.  “Little man” is a nickname many boys earn straight from the time they leave the womb.  “Girl” has become an insult thrown at little boys who aren’t acting tough (or sometimes violent) enough.  While there is a well-meaning word for little girls who enjoy traditionally masculine pursuits, “tomboy” (more on that one later), the words for little boys who are interested in traditionally feminine activities go from rude (“sissy”) to bigoted (“f*****”) in short order.  Parents feel the need to spend hundreds of dollars to replace cribs, car seats, bedding, toys, and high chairs upon the addition of a boy to the family lest he come in contact with something pink or purple.

With so much pressure for boys to avoid femininity and softness at all cost, is it any wonder that I was so surprised to see that sweet little boy in a dress?

 

Little children play.  They play dolls, heroes, blocks, pretend, and dress up.  This is universal.  Wearing a dress to a shop won’t change the way this little boy was born, and it certainly won’t affect him in later life.

Except that it will.

He will grow up knowing his mother loved him completely and unconditionally, and that knowledge is the most powerful thing we can instill in our children.

Being a Working Mom and Missing Milestones

Working full time and being a mommy is so difficult.  I feel like I am constantly missing out on the Grasshopper and Cricket’s lives.  A few weeks ago, their teacher, who is also a dear friend of mine, texted me:

Cricket just rolled over!!!!

I knew it was on its way.  She was so close to doing it the night before.  My husband, the Grasshopper, and I were all watching her so carefully so that none of us would miss it when she finally did roll.  But she rolled over for the first time at school.  And I missed it.

I was so sad.  I sat at my desk and cried.  I couldn’t believe I missed it.  I felt so sorry for myself.  Why?  Why do I have to work?  It’s not fair.

It’s so hard being away from my girls.  In the beginning, it was intensely painful.  Walking away from Cricket on that first day back was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  It felt wrong to me.  I was her mother.  I was supposed to be with her all the time.  I had spent nine months holding her in my womb and then three more months holding her in my arms.  It hurt so much to give her to someone else and let the door close behind me.

I grieved in those first few weeks.  Every instinct in my body was telling me to be with my baby and I couldn’t do it.  I cried so much.  I felt angry and sad and lost.  Looking back, I can see that I was going through the stages of grief.  Recognizing that made me feel even more angry.  A mother shouldn’t have to grieve.  A mother shouldn’t have to feel that sense of loss.  A mother shouldn’t have to leave her children to go to work before she’s ready.

In this country, we do not support mothers enough.  We do not provide adequate maternity leave.  Mothers suffer what I have gone through (twice!) every single day.

I have a dear friend who is working on changing that.  She’s at the front of a revolution.  Please read her blog to find out what we can all do to be a part of this revolution:  Mother Revolution.

They are also doing great things at MomsRising.org.  They do a great job of keeping an eye on upcoming legislation and providing concrete ways to get involved.

This past weekend, I was so blessed.  Little Miss Cricket had a developmental explosion!  She started rolling front to back, she started babbling, she found her toes, and on the train back from San Diego she popped out a brand new tooth!  I felt so thankful that I got to share those moments with her.

But a part of me is still raging inside.  That’s not something one should have to feel grateful about.  A mother should be able to be with her baby if she wants to.

Please join the revolution.