The juice

As kids, my older brother and I had nothing in common. We were connected by a house, a set of parents, and a couple of little brothers – nothing more. But somehow as we’ve grown, we’ve aligned. Now we’re often on the same page, in the things we find funny, the memories that stand out, what we want for and expect from our kids.

Yesterday, my brother and his family came over for brunch at our place. The usual plan-confirming text conversation went something like this:

– The girls’ swimming lessons are over at 10, and we’ll come over right after that.

– Sounds good.

– What can we bring? Don’t say nothing.

– Maybe some juice?

– Like, oj?

– Sure, thanks.

And he brought o.j.

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My brother will go pretty far for a laugh. It’s a safe bet that if he thinks it’s funny, so will I. (O.J.-covered O.J. included.) So why is this? Has our shared childhood experience finally found us through the years of distance? Or is it in our genes? Maybe we’re genetically predisposed to think a poor-quality print of O.J. Simpson taped to an orange juice carton is funny. Whatever it is, I appreciate my family more now as an adult than I ever did when I was young.

Thanks for The Juice, big brother.

What-my-kid-said Wednesday: keeping a record

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“I hope you’re writing this all down somewhere.”

My husband’s aunt said this to me this weekend at the last of the never-ending family Christmas gatherings, after listening to Bean say something particularly hilarious. I nodded, then realized that an unexpected impact of not writing so much over the past couple of months has been that I haven’t remembered to jot down the strange and wonderful things that come out of my son’s mouth.

I’ve never been a good keeper of records. And I have a terrible memory. Hopefully, when I’m old and creaky and sentimental and Bean and Monkey are grown, I’ll be able to look back at these Wednesday posts and remember a little bit of what my kids were like when they were tiny. So this one’s for future-me – not a specific conversation or anecdote, but a collection of common Bean-isms from this moment in time.

“I’m so incited!!” He says “incited” instead of “excited,” and I can’t bring myself to correct him.

“Tell me a pirate story…” Once upon a time I sat on the edge of the tub and told Bean a story about a pirate as he pooped. Now he asks for a pirate story every time he has some business to take care of on the toilet.

“Tomato down!” When something falls on the ground. I don’t know where this comes from.

“Everyone!” to get our attention.

“Hey guys!” to get our attention.

“I’m just a little sad.” Pronounced “yittle saaa-yaaad,” this one comes out every time he hears the word no, or is hungry, or bored.

“Oh man. Oh maaa-yaaan!” Said while crying, through his tears. This is his expression of real emotional anguish. You know, like if I said he couldn’t have a cookie, or something equally earth-shattering.

Tiny sleepers

My best friend is expecting her first baby, a boy, next month. I spent this evening sorting through the mountain of clothes that Monkey has outgrown, pulling out the unstained and less worn items to offer for the new baby.

It got sentimental.

I found the sleeper that both Bean and Monkey came home from the hospital in. How is it possible that they were ever so tiny? How is it possible that they are no longer so tiny?

To aid in my lonely late-night journey down memory lane, I crept into my boys’ rooms as they slept to dig out sleepers that fit them now. From the left, we have the newborn sleeper, then Monkey’s at nine months, then Bean’s at almost three.

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So much change in three short years, and in nine short months.

I’m still here.

Blog-wise, December was not the greatest month. After the blogging extravaganza that was November and NaBloPoMo, I posted four times in December. Four. And I read very little as well. I could blame it on the holidays and all the go-there, do-that, make-this, visit-here, eat-that (and that, and that). I could blame it on a fit of last-minute crafting that had me knitting scarves and making Christmas cards instead of writing at night after the boys went to bed. But maybe I’ll just forget the blame and resolve to do better. It is the season for trying harder, right?

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions – every time I start to think of one, there are so many things I’d like to change that my list grows longer and longer, until I might as well cross everything off of it and just resolve to be perfect.

So this year, instead of making specific resolutions, I’m going to make a list of somewhat vague intentions to set the tone for 2015.

Presence. Kindness and forgiveness, to myself and others. Face time over screen time; outside over inside. Gratitude. Simplicity. Inspiration. Action.

Happy 2015, everyone. What are your intentions for this year?

My Monkey

Monkey

There is something sweet and slightly painful about the babyhood of my second child. Maybe it’s that my memory of my first baby is slightly foggy and coloured by my knowledge of him as a toddler; maybe it’s that Monkey will likely be our last baby. I don’t remember the same sense of mine with Bean as I have with Monkey. Maybe it’s that I’ve learned to savour it, because as he grows he will not be just mine anymore. Maybe it’s that I’m beginning to know firsthand what all the elderly ladies who stop me in the grocery store say – it goes by so fast.

Monkey’s smiles are still mostly for me. He looks into my eyes and his face lights up. I imitate his sounds and he chuckles. I enter the room and he looks for me. I sit down on the floor and he crawls over to me. At 8 months old, he is still mine. And I am selfish. I don’t want to share him, yet.

His older brother is a part of the world. He has friends. He smiles and laughs and talks to other people. Bean is his own little person, and it is wonderful and beautiful to see him developing relationships and friendships and opinions and independence. But Monkey is still mine. I am his world. He is my baby. He fits on my hip; he belongs under my chin. His little body was so recently a part of mine, and our bond is still physical.

What is it that changes this bond? It loosens and stretches without us being conscious of it, exactly. As our babies grow up and grow in independence, they grow away from us, bit by bit. Bean still needs me, and will always need me in some way, I hope. We will always be bonded, but nothing is the same as the elemental, physical bond of a mother and baby.

As I gaze into my Monkey’s sweet, smiling face and open, trusting eyes, I am struck by the gift that babyhood is. I am privileged to hold and nurture and protect a life that is pure and innocent. There is nothing dishonest in a baby – his smiles mean happiness, and his cries mean sadness, discomfort, or need. There is no guile, only instinct. And this baby stage is so fleeting.

So I will hold onto my Monkey for as long as I can. One day I will have to share him, I know. As his small world expands day by day, I will explore it with him. Gradually my tight hold will loosen, and one day I will let him go. But not just yet. For now, he is still mine.

Confessions, again

confessions

It feels good to get things off your chest, doesn’t it? Well, my online friends, it’s time for me to unburden my parenting shame onto you. To follow up on my last confessions post, here’s another collection of my bad parenting moments and habits. Enjoy!

1. At a solemn Remembrance Day ceremony with my boys, my mother, and my brother’s family, I was standing next to my three year-old niece. She sweetly put her hand in mine. I looked around, realizing that it would be easy for strangers to assume that she was my child, and that wild, loud Bean was my brother’s. I discreetly edged myself and my niece away from my brother and Bean and muttered “some people’s kids” while looking disapprovingly at them.

2. My kid eats frozen peas. Frozen. And I think he swallows them whole.

3. I’m starting to look forward to going back to work in March, because it’s easier than being a full-time mum at home.

4. I can’t remember what Bean’s first word was.

5. I sort of wish I didn’t have to get Monkey any Christmas presents. We don’t need any more toys. He has all the clothes he needs. He wouldn’t know the difference. But Bean would.

6. If you looked in my Google search history (please don’t), you would see the phrase “boarding school for toddlers.”

7. When D is home, I sometimes pretend I can’t hear Monkey crying, or Bean calling, because if he hears them first, he has to go deal with them. I call this game “good parent chicken.”

8. I really, really love it when kids who are usually well behaved are bad.

9. I swept dirt under the rug. Literally. My in-laws were coming over and instead of bothering with the dustpan I lifted up a corner of the entrance mat and swept all the debris under it. And it’s still there.

Your turn! What’s your confession?