Category Archives: Baby

Inspired by a Book

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From his second day of life, Ben has loved his pacifier. Loved it with all of his tiny being. Husband and I started calling it his “button” (short for mute button) on a whim and it stuck. For nearly two years, the button has been a part of him. At the hand-offs, caretakers always ask, “Do you have the button?” For nearly two years, he was his button and his button was him. Until today.

Baby Ben on his way home from the hospital with his first button.

Baby Ben on his way home from the hospital with his first button.

Generally, when I think of being inspired by a book, I think of great literature and people over the age of 10. Today, Ben was inspired by a surprisingly graphic and sad Swedish-translated-to-English book called Benny and the Binky. I picked up the book yesterday when we went to the library and I saw the title and thought it had something to do with giving up your pacifier. Seeing as Ben is sneaking up on two at a rapid pace, I thought I might get it and read it a couple of times to get him used to the idea of giving up his button.

I didn’t pre-read the book to ensure it for quality, but I thought I’d give it a go anyway. It was horrifying. The book, as a whole, isn’t about getting rid of your pacifier, it’s more about growing up once you have a new sibling (no new siblings for Ben for a long time!).  This poor little pig gets a new brother, watches the brother get a binky, feels jealous, then takes the brother outside and steals the binky before going on a tour of town. On this tour of town, he gets mocked by a daycare saying that he is “too old” for a binky and then he gets punched in the nose by three bullies for having said binky. Then, when the pig (Benny), gets home, he gives the binky back to his brother and grows-up into not needing it. Horrifying. To make matters worse, in the course of the first reading, I changed the names to “Ben” and “button” to give the real Ben the message. Sadly (or, not so sadly), he got it.

This is a devastating book. The Swedes do NOT mess around with getting rid of pacifiers.

This is a devastating book. The Swedes do NOT mess around with getting rid of pacifiers.

When we got to the last page, his little face crumpled into the saddest expression you have ever seen and said, “It’s gone.” On the spur of the moment, I decided to go with it and said, “Yes, honey. Button is gone.” He was devastated and wailed. For the rest of the day, he has asked for his button a couple of times and I have informed him, “It’s gone.” His expression changes to sadness and he repeats, “It’s gone.” After a few minutes or so, he resigns himself to his fate and moves on. It’s both sad and heartening to see how resilient a kid can be.

So far, this has been one of the most devastating things I’ve had to do as a parent. I’ve had to take away something that he loves in order to help him grow-up. It has been one of those days that feels both like a triumph and a defeat. I’m helping him become a kid, but erasing some of the vestiges of babyhood that I held so dear. Being a parent is both beautiful and terrible. In loving someone, you have to do things to make them sad (at least temporary) and it breaks your heart to do it, but you know that when he’s seven and no longer using a pacifier, he’ll silently thank you.

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To Run or Not to Run

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T0 run or not to run? That is always the question when my little alarm clock buzzes at 4:03 a.m. (Yes, I’m weird and my alarm goes off at odd times). This morning, I chose “Not to run.” Usually, this is not the right choice. As a psych teacher, I like to think of my inner-conflicts as a Freudian battle between my id and my superego. I am a giant nerd. Whatever. Anyway, the internal conversations usually start with the id saying, “This bed is soooo cozy and warm. Do you really want to leave it?” The ego thinks, “That is a valid point. Being snuggly and warm is always a good thing.” The superego counters with, “You are going to be such a better person if you go for this run. Remember endorphins? You love endorphins. The people around you love you when you have endorphins.” To which, the id counters, “Is it really worth going for a run if it’s going to be cold and gross? You really hate cold and gross.”All valid points.

This inner conflict was raging when I got downstairs to my awaiting coffee (God bless you, coffee timer). I told myself that if the windchill was in the 40s, I’d go for a run. That way, I wouldn’t have to deal with layers and cold gear. In May, ain’t nobody got time for that. I looked at both weather services on my phone. Thirty-seven degrees. It’s May 14. On principle, I’m not running this morning. The id was triumphant. However, to appease that nagging superego, I did Pilates and planned to run this afternoon.

Most people would go back to bed. But, the dog was awake and giving me the, “I missed you so much! Please feed me.” face, so I had to oblige. The coffee was ready, and I’m at the end of a great book, so I stayed up. As I sat reading and drinking my coffee, a small boy started stirring upstairs. He wasn’t angry, he was just awake. Then, he let his inner songbird loose and began singing. There were snippets of “Old MacDonald”, but mostly it was his own compositions. Had I gone for a run, I would have missed the adorable concert. Unfortunately, the adorableness of 4:30 a.m. is going to turn into a ragebeast come 5:30 p.m., which is why I need to run after school to get the endorphins to manage said rage. See? It all works out! (Over-justification!)

Holophrases: Out of the mouths of babes

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Chatting with Ben is…interesting. In the development/language acquisition circles, he’s big into “holophrases”, or single words that stand for whole sentences. Unfortunately, holophrases are often misinterpreted, especially when you’re not using the right word for the phrase you would like to express. Here is an example of tonight’s bedtime convo:

Scene: A small bedroom in a Mid-Atlantic home. A mother is preparing her young son for bed.

Ben: (Holding out lotion) ‘Sage?

Me: No massage tonight.

Ben: Daddy?

Me: No, Daddy’s still at work.

Ben: Shirt?

Me: Let’s put your shirt on and go to bed.

Ben: (Something in Parseltongue)

Me: Would you like to read a book?

Ben: Book?!

Me: Yes. Which book would you like?

Ben: Truck! (Meaning The Little Blue Truck, which is one of our favorites)

Me: Ok, come sit by Mommy and we’ll read Truck.

Ben: No! (flings milk) Oh no! Milk!

Me: It’s ok. We’ll clean it up.

Ben: Oh no! Oh no!

Me: Ben, it’s ok. We have more milk.

Ben: Milk?!

Me: Yes, milk.

Ben: No! (Small temper tantrum and uncertainty about whether he wanted to sit on my lap while reading the book, on his rocking chair, or on the floor while reading the book)

Me: Ben, do you just want to go to bed?

Ben: (While pointing at the bed.) Monkey. (His favorite stuffed animal) Bed.

Me: Let’s go to bed.

Ben: (Nods.) Bed.

End scene

Holophrases, while useful in expressing some needs, can be challenging when you know there are words to express your needs, you just don’t have them.

The Scariest Things You Never Knew Were Scary

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Having a one-year old, you figure out that there are some really scary things in this world. Here are some of the most terrifying things in the world, according to Ben.

  1. Cows. As adults, we think of cows as some of the most placid animals around. All they do is sit around and chew on their cud. No biggie. For Ben, cows are both thrilling and scary. They are thrilling because they are like giant dogs and you get to pet them. They are terrifying when they moo. Sure, “moo” is one of the quintessential animal sounds that every toddler must know. Live action “moos” are a different story. Terrifying.
  2. Vacuum cleaners. Vacuum cleaners are a perennial fear for small children and animals everywhere. What’s not to be afraid of? They make loud noises and suck up those Cheerios that you hid in the corner for later. Terrifying.
  3. Hand mixers/blenders/food processors. Like cows, hand-held, noisy small kitchen appliances are fascinating and frightening. They are fascinating in that they mix things up and make things different. They are frightening in the evil sounds that they make. However, holding the Spatula of Power makes everything a little better. The devil is in those machines. Terrifying.
  4. Showers. Ben loves baths and swimming pools. Put him in the shower, he is a screaming ball of shaking one-year old. I tried to show him that the shower head was like the faucet and that he could wash in the shower. No dice. It is an evil contraption in league with the hand mixer. SUPER terrifying.
  5. Goats. Goats are shifty. I don’t blame him for that fear.

The Best of Ben

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Sometimes Ben does too many cute things to count. On days when I’m at school, sometimes it helps to think about the adorable-ness. Here are some of my current favorites.

  1. He brings books to you when he wants you to read to him. Sometimes he goes over to his little library, selects a book, and walks over all business-like. He puts the book into your lap and doesn’t necessarily crawl into your lap, but stands there expectantly like, “Hey. You know the code, code-breaker. Do your magic and tell me what it says.”
  2. He avoids saying “m” words. Much to my dismay, he doesn’t like to say “m” words or words with “m” in them. I think he has a hard time with the sound, but it’s sad for me because he only says “Mommy” if I make him say it.
  3. He pretends that he doesn’t know English when I try to get him to put his bath toys away. On nights when we don’t have to do a bath at lightspeed because he is in full-on meltdown mode, Ben loves the bath. On occasion, he loves the bath so much that he doesn’t want to get out. As a result, he pretends to not understand me when I say, “Put the lobster away.” Other nights, he knows full well what “put the lobster away” means. Sneaky.
  4. When he’s tired, he’ll sit up when we’re reading our good night story and point at his crib. If you ask him, “Do you want to go to bed?” He’ll respond, “Yeah.” Gotta love the guy.
  5. He does a happy dance when I ask if he wants to go out for pancakes.
  6. He likes to dance to Blues music. Last night as I was making ice cream, I turned on a Blues Rock Pandora channel and the little guy was busting a move on his step stool while watching me mix the ice cream.
  7. He and Jack like the same movies. I turned on White Fang yesterday. This was heaven for both of them. Boy loves his dogs.
  8. He gets really, intensely excited about washing dishes. Whenever I put things in the sink or he comes near a sink he yells, “Wash?! Wash?!” I hope this lasts into later childhood.
  9. Instead of “bye-bye” he says, “Buh-bye” like on that Saturday Night Live skit.
  10. [Classical] music has charms to soothe a savage breast. When there are dark times, Debussy is usually the answer. Although, last night he listened to some Puccini as sung by Jackie Evancho and some Phantom of the Opera. He sat quietly on my lap for a half-an-hour listening to classical music. Sitting still for that long is unheard of in toddlers.

Green Foods

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Green Foods

One of my friends is one of my stay-at-home-mom heroes. She comes up with some of the most creative ideas to keep herself and her two young children entertained. For example, one week this fall she came up with “Rainbow Week”. During Rainbow Week, she, her daughter, and her son dressed in each of the seven colors of the rainbow (well, indigo got nixed because indigo is really hard to distinguish from violet) and they had activities and food around that color. Tonight, while Husband had to stay late at work, Ben and I had our mini-Rainbow Night with green foods that shouldn’t be green.

What do I mean about green foods that shouldn’t be green? Well, I’ll tell you. Ben has been a little bit of a finicky eater lately. Like karma getting me sick, karma got me back for having a baby who would eat anything. Thus, I tried to bring back that eating anything in a clever, sneaky, Mommy-you-so-smart kind of way. I made Spinach and Banana Waffles. Spinach and banana waffles? Ugh. That sounds foul, Sam-I-Am! I will not eat Green Waffles for dinner! That recipe is not a winner! However, you are a Doubting Thomas. This was a really good and toddler approved way of sneaking something green into a delightful package. Who doesn’t love waffles? Communists. That’s who.

Spinach and Banana Waffles

Makes 2 Belgian Waffles

1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and all excess water squeezed out

1/2 banana, sliced thin

1 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Baking Mix

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup water

1 egg

1 Tb oil

 1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp sugar

  • Turn on waffle maker to your desired crispness level.
  • Combine all of the ingredients into a blender. Pulse slightly to allow to catch, then blend until smooth. You don’t want to go too smooth, otherwise the waffles will not be fluffy.
You put the spinach in the blender and you mix it all up.

You put the spinach in the blender and you mix it all up.

Not a Shamrock Shake

Not a Shamrock Shake

  • Spray the heck out of your waffle iron with non-stick spray. I say this because my waffle iron has been acting temperamental lately, as seen by the slight tearing of the waffle.
Mommy is soooo sneaky sticking spinach into the waffle.

Mommy is soooo sneaky sticking spinach into the waffle.

  • Enjoy! You can use maple syrup on these, or it might be really tasty with a sweetened ricotta or marscapone spread. Bon appetit!

To finish up Green Foods that Shouldn’t be Green Night, Ben and I read Les oeufs verts au jambon (Green Eggs and Ham) before bed. It was quite the night!

The Running Oracle

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Ben may, in fact, be the Oracle of Marathon. How so? This morning I got up early (4:00 a.m.) to run before the icy weather from Winter Storm Luna came through (total sidebar, but I love how they name winter storms now). After getting through some of Les Mis, I was off to get bundled up for the run. As I was just about to put on my shoes, Ben began to wail. Husband and I let him go for a minute, but I finally caved and went to get him. He clung to me like a baby koala bear instead of thrashing irrationally, so I knew that he had had a bad dream. I put him in bed with Husband and went downstairs to head out. Then, the freezing rain started and I knew that running was a terrible idea. The Oracle of Marathon had struck again. His bad dream was telling me not to run. Sigh.

This would have been fine, but then 10 minutes later, I got a text from the school district saying that there was a delayed opening for school. Again, normally, this would have been fine. So, I went back to bed thinking that I might be able to get a few more winks of sleep. Sadly, Ben has a tendency to act like a baby velociraptor when he doesn’t want to sleep. He makes this horrible sound that is part screech-part cry and thrashes with nails like tiny razor blades (really need to cut those…). Now I have a scratch on my nose (granted, it’s partially my fault). Sleep was a no-go, so I decided to watch last night’s Downton Abbey. That was a terrible and depressing idea. All-in-all, not a great morning and a wasted late arrival, but I suppose the week can only get better?