Archive for October, 2011

oh, the endless questions

Parents all complain about the “why” phase–you know, that part of the child’s normal development (and it is normal, it is, I swear, even if they’re asking things like “why is ham from a pig butt and not a horse butt?”).

I always felt a little smug about this, like I was way more enlightened and patient than average because I never resorted to saying “BECAUSE!” It wasn’t that annoying, after all. Just a bit repetitive.

And then I realized that Mary was just behind the curve.

She’s been asking “why?” for years, of course. But apparently for most children this behavior peaks around age 3. Not for Mary. She’s 5.

I had no idea–none–how annoying this could be. On the one hand, it’s awesome. She’s a sponge. She wants to learn everything. And she DOES learn everything. If I say it, or if she reads it, she remembers it.

On the other hand…oh my God. PLEASE STOP ASKING QUESTIONS BEFORE I HAVE TO GO TO A MENTAL INSTITUTION (and leave you to make your own sandwiches and take the lids off your own yogurt cups).

The dividing line between “Good question!” and “Huh?” is basically this: is it a question that anyone can answer? Because if it’s a question that no person on this earth can answer, it’s an annoying question.

And therein lies the problem: to a 5-year-old, most things are equally mysterious. For Mary, these questions all have the same likelihood of getting a rational response:

“Why are we turning left?”

“Why can’t I have a Popsicle?”

“Why is that guy’s car brown?”

“Why is Wesley only a little shorter than I am?”

“How old are you?”

“How old is thirty-one?”

“Why does my teacher like purple?”

“How long is a year?”

“What’s a month?”

“Why are TVs rectangles?”

“Why is a rectangle a rectangle?”

“Why is it called a rectangle?”

So I try to answer as many as I can. Sometimes I think I’m very clever, as when I tell her that “rectangle” comes from the Latin word for “right,” because the corners are all right angles.

Then she asks, “Why is that the word for ‘right’?”

And the thing is, while I know that she’s asking all of these questions because she’s trying to make sense of the enormous load of data that comes in from the whole world–there are also moments when I am 98% convinced that she’s just fucking with me.

smite your forehead

Wesley is a trifle delicate today–everything is a crisis.

For example, before naptime, he ate a cup of yogurt. He neglected to go rinse the cup and put his spoon in the sink (which is the rule).

Mary, who did not nap, did it for him.

When he woke up, he asked (already quivery-lipped), “Where’s my cup and spoon?”

I told him that Mary put it away for him, and added, “Wasn’t that nice of her?”

He opened his mouth and HOWLED. “I WANT MY YOGURT CUP! I WANNA WASH OUT MY YOGURT CUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!”

Mary walked by, sighed deeply, and said, “Wesley, stop. You’re stressing me out.”

The drama in this household is absurd.

car conversation

On the way to dance class, Mary picked up her lunch box and started snapping it open and closed toward Wesley, like a mouth. It swiftly degenerated into this…

Mary: Chomp!
Wesley [who was wearing bulldozer pajamas]: Eat my digger pants!
Mary: Chomp, chomp! Mmmm. Delicious!
Wesley: Have some brocky! [I thought this was a mispronunciation of “broccoli” but actually it was a made-up word.]
Mary: I don’t like brocky, I like people! Let me eat you! Chomp, chomp.
Wesley: Okay, but just a little. [Holds out foot.]
Mary: Okay, I had a little and I’m done.
Wesley: I’ll put the rest of me in the refrigerator for later.

Me: You know it’s not safe to go in the refrigerator, right?
Wesley: We’re just joking! I wouldn’t really let a monster eat my digger pants.

I’ve clearly failed somewhere.

So, after reading a book in which some ducks play hide and seek, I asked the kids if they wanted to play a round of hide and seek.

They did.

I explained the rules and the way it works. We read the book again to review.

I went to the kitchen and counted to ten out loud. They scampered off to hide.

When I got to ten and announced that I was coming to find them, I turned around and found Wesley. He was “hiding” by standing in the middle of the dining room, waiting expectantly. He was very excited that I found him.

Then we went upstairs. Mary was hiding by sitting in the middle of her bed.

I don’t think they quite get it. Is hide and seek an acquired skill, or what? I mean, it is called “hide and seek,” not “stand in plain view waiting and seek,” right?

don’t worry–he’s okay

So, Wesley has always gone to bed with a bottle of water. We decided it was time to end his attachment to his beloved bottle (is it wrong that part of my objection is that he has always refused to upgrade to the sippy cup?), especially because he is getting closer and closer to being housebroken and we figured that cutting out that last cup of water would help.

Conor talked to him about it today. Wesley agreed that he was a big kid and he didn’t need a bottle anymore. So when bedtime rolled around, I reminded him of this, and he said, “Okay.”

While I was reading stories, Wesley snuggled his bottle and petted it like it was a little dog. When we finished reading, he took it to the hallway and “tucked it in” under a towel. (Yes. It was the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen.) I put Wesley into the crib* and tucked him in. Then he popped up again, peered over the end of the crib into the hallway and said, “Can I just see my bottle?”

He had a look at the bottle, all tucked in, and then we tucked HIM back in, and he said, “I’m okay, Mama.” I said good night and came downstairs, and he’s jabbering and talking. I can hear him over the monitor, talking about all kinds of things–but every few minutes he keeps coming back to “I’m okay. I’m fine.” Just now, I heard him say to his little toy train, “It’s okay, Thomas. I’m fine. We’re okay.”

* Yes, I know–just now taking away his bottle; still sleeps in a crib. These really are by HIS choice, not because I have some twisted desire to keep him a baby forever. He tried the big-kid bed on the floor a few times but he didn’t seem to like it. And the sippy cup made him sink to the floor and weep great big Wesley tears.