Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Creation, according to my five year-old

I love having children because though most of what they say takes the form of a whine or a demand or some inane description of a TV show or video game you couldn't  care less about, they do tend to come out with wildly interesting observations sometimes. Usually these observations are a result of them not assuming something I take for granted, and have taken for granted since time immemorial since I'm about five hundred haggard years old. Like, yesterday morning, Seconda woke up and skittered over to the couch with her tousled yellow head of hair and asked, "What is blood made of?"

I started to reply something vague and impressive-sounding (I hoped) about cells and platelets, etc, but then she clarified the question:

"How did Jesus make our blood?"

Wow. This was a much more complicated inquiry. And surprising, since i can count on one hand the number of times Sec or anybody has talked about Jesus in our house. We talk about God sometimes, and I enjoy these theological conversations: its just Jesus specifically doesn't come up very often. Of course, Primo is now preparing for his first communion in a few weeks, so there's been a lot of extra religious school and mass attendance and I guess all this has got my little one thinking. 

"I don't know," i answered honestly. 

"Oh I know!" she exclaimed, "I think he takes some kind of liquid and puts red food coloring in it and then THAT becomes our blood." 

"Wow," I replied, "Interesting."

"How does Jesus make our bones?" she asked. And before I could offer one of my evasive replies, she came out with: "Oh I know! He takes a piece of cardboard and puts white paint on it and rolls it up really really tight like a taco and that makes the bones!"

What I love about this is its exactly how my five year-old would create a human being if she was charged with that responsibility. Grab some cardboard, a little water, take out the tempura paints, a few watercolor trays and blammo! you've got yourself humanity. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Baby Nicknames

Now that I have a newborn in the house as well as two fully-fledged big kids, I've noticed a startling discrepancy. I no longer call my big kids by endearing little nicknames. That's not to say I don't have nicknames for them, some abbreviated, or in some cases, embellished forms of their name. And I employ plenty of the generic but nonetheless heartfelt "honey"s and "sweethearts." But now that I'm doing it all over again, I remembered that when Primo and Sec were teeny tiny babies, I had a whole slew of additional terms of endearment which I'd use, and -- here's the weird thing - they all are associated with food items. Yes, I think this is due to the fact that women, and in particular mothers, want to eat babies to some extent.

I've noticed these terms tend to start with the letter P:
Pumpernickel Seed.

Pumpkin Pie.

Or G:
Goober Pea.

And occasionally are things which don't exist but I bet would be tasty:
Baloney spumoni sausage pie

I told you it was weird.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Primo deconstructs Babydom

Everyone wants to know how the bid kids are adjusting to the addition of la bambina. And I am pleased to say, not bad. I mean, hey, anyone who's ever read Siblings Without Rivalry knows, this shit is complicated. Epic. Its no bed of roses when a family that's pretty set in its formation has to make room and recalibrate all its settings for a new member. But both Primo and Seconda find it a generally positive thing. They really love the baby.

Its a whole different ball game for Primo then when Sec was born. When Sec was born, he was only two years and four months old, a total babe in the woods himself. Diapers, bottles, incoherent and unintelligible baby talk. He woke all through the night. He didn't go to any real kind of school. And he did NOT enjoy the addition of a newer model baby in the house. I will never forget how, after about three weeks or so, he asked very casually, "When is the baby going to go back in your belly?"

And when I informed him that that wasn't happening, that the baby wouldn't be going anywhere. he nodded and then asked again, "When is she going back in your belly?" Every day for a few weeks, he repeated this question, holding out hope that his miserable fate might be reversed.

This time around, Primo is more or less exclusively delighted to have a new baby sister. He's already been through the process of adding one on to the family after all and the whole thing is much less of a big deal to him than it is to Sec, whose entire universe is irrevocably altered. At seven, Primo's world is much bigger now than it was when he was two. The kid has best friends, homework, slumber parties, video game obsessions, first holy communions, evil lunch ladies, favorite book series . . . in other words, he's got a life now. The baby's cool and whatever but its not everything.

Which is not to say he doesn't care about the baby or that he's not into her. He is super charmed by and enamored of her and it is possibly the cutest thing in the world to watch him watch her with delight. But its not not delight he approaches her with but total fascination. He's like a scientist, trying to uncover what kind of species this newborn is and what makes her tick.

When he came to see her in the hospital, he observed her for a while and then concluded, very matter of factly, "Yes, she's good. She's a good baby."

The next day, when he woke up, he walked over to her Moses basket and checked on her development, "Yes, she's better than yesterday. That's good."

Every day, he assesses where she is on the spectrum of cuteness and thankfully, its been an upward trajectory for Terza. He wants to know what she can see and what she can hear and what sorts of thoughts she is capable of thinking and how she knows how to breastfeed and why she wounds like an animal instead of a human being when she cries.

But my favorite question he's asked about her -- and it really got me thinking - was in her first few days.

"What makes her cute?"

"Don't you think she is cute?" I asked.

"Yes, of course," he replied, "But what makes her cute? She's not pretty but she's cute. Why?"

I explained its those big eyes in the big head and the recessed chin and all these little tweaks nature takes care of to make the little bundle of joy pleasing enough that parents don't just abandon the bawling, exhausting thing right off the bat. And its pretty effective too.

Deconstructing babydom.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Still Crazy, After All These Years

When Primo was a newborn, I would call the pediatrician about EVERYTHING. You know how people like doctors and teachers say there are no dumb questions. That was not true in my case. I asked almost exclusively dumb questions. I remember one day in Primo's first week calling the ped and saying, "Something must be wrong. Otherwise, why is the baby crying?"And the doc had to break the news to me that babies cry. A lot. For apparently no reason. Its just an occupational hazard. Every time Primo wailed, I wanted to bring him in for a check up. And I remember too that I was so embarrassed about pestering these nice medical professionals with what I knew were dumb questions and I'd apologize and the doctors would say, "Its your first so you're allowed. But you can't do it with number two."

And I don't think I did. After all, I'd just been through the baby thing a year or two before. It was still fresh.

But now that its been five long, memory-erasing years since I had a newborn, I've reverted to my natural state of being hyper neurotic. I asked the nurse at the hospital if it was normal to newborns to have stinky farts. I asked how you could tell the difference between snot caused by a cold and snot caused by amniotic fluid getting sneezed out. When the doc told me at Terza's first visit that I should call if she had a fever of more than 100.4, I had to ask how I would know if she had a fever of more than 100.4.

"You'll take her temperature," she replied.

"Yes, yes of course," I said, as if I hadn't just asked the dumbest question in the known universe, "But how will I know to take her temperature? At 100.4 she won't feel hot, will she? Should I just take her temperature regularly, a few times a day?"

"No," the doc said, "You should definitely NOT do that. She'll feel hot. She'll be cranky. Trust me, you'll notice."

When I brought her in for a weight check at day 7, I was worried she wouldn't have gained enough weight. And when the doctor said she'd gained a whopping 12 ounces in five days, I instantly began to worry shed gained TOO much weight, Did she had a slow metabolism?

I am a NUT. But at least this baby doesn't get short shrift in the neuroses department. There's that.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Newborn Daze

I have some observations about life with a newborn. Actually, let me amend that. I can't really
speak about life with a newborn, only about life with a newborn and two other rather big and imposing children. I had this idea when I was preggo that somehow I'd have a lot of time once she was born since I was taking off from work for a few weeks and since my big kids would be in school. I was sort of like, "Babies sleep all the time. Right? I mean, what is there to even DO?"

As usual, my optimism misled me. That's why I find solace in neuroses, because THEY never let me down. Yes, it is true newborn babies sleep a lot. During the day. At which time, you are so stinking exhausted from being up all night with the baby and then doing extreme parenting of the other two children, who are in various phases of a slow-burning nervous breakdown, that you will try to sleep too. I say "try" because sleeping on command while in charge of a tiny, fragile bundle of life that doesn't sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time, is not as easy as it sounds. Then there's the small matter of FEEDING the baby which is basically a full time job. I'd somehow forgotten you have to nurse the baby every hour or two and the nursing itself takes 30 - 45 minutes which means you only have a scant 30 minutes or so between feedings, Add in diaper changing and eating food yourself and you're booked. All day. Add in putting the house back together from where your manic children tore it apart in the morning rush off to school and you're over-booked. Add in scheduling play dates and extra curriculuars and summer camp and picking up the big kids and helping with homework and feeding them and god help us - putting them to bed and you are in super negative numbers of time available.

There is no time to do anything.

Which is how I don't understand the parents of a baby plus big kids who miraculously manage to send out baby announcements as soon as they baby's back from the hospital and who post on Facebook and carry on with life as if it ain't no thang. I find it incredible that I take a shower (almost) every day and haven't forgotten (yet) to pack the kids' lunch.

Of course this week is -- dun dun dun DUN - Spring Break which means I not only have the newbie but the big kids with me too. Which means the delicate balance has been, for lack of a better word, totally fucked. Which means, how the hell am I finding the time to write this blog?

And, as if on cue, the baby starts crying and I hear Seconda screaming and bawling and so I will bid you adieu, until I find another wrinkle in time.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Introducing . . .

Sound the trumpets! Cue the fanfare! My baby girl has arrived! Welcome, Terza!

I'm totally, recklessly in love. Can you blame me? Look at those lips! Those tiny, wrinkled fingers! And the newborn smell -- Lordy me, I'm high on it. All I need to do is carry that baby through the Ikea warehouse for a mind-blowing experience.

So, excuse the radio silence as I nest with my little chick. More details to follow. Good stuff too - like, did you know you can have a balloon stuck up your cervix to jumpstart labor? Yes, a balloon. Stay tuned.