Thursday, October 30, 2008


Well, it finally happened. And it wasn't as bad as I feared it might be.

V is our one year-old pro at getting up and down the step by our back door. She turns and goes down backwards - smoothly, confidently. Not only this, but she has synthesized the information and can apply it to other scenarios. On the changing table, she turns around, slides a leg over and tries to make her escape mid-diaper change. On the bed, she insists that she dismount each morning, while I hold on to her to protect her from falling the distance that our too-tall bed offers her.

Unlike the other kids, she is a stealthy waker, and she wakes up raring to go. She literally pops up from a nap and crawls in whatever direction she is facing before she is fully aware of her surroundings. And she doesn't yell out or cry in fear when she is ready to wake. She just gets up and gets moving.

So, I listen carefully to every snort and sniffle on the baby monitor because I want to get there before she falls off the bed. Yes, this is the only downside I have discovered to living sans crib. But the fact is that since I never got any of my kids to nap in a crib anyway, the safety of such napping is purely academic in our family.

Back to my original declaration - it finally happened. I heard her wake, make a tiny peep and then the heavy breathing that means she is on the move. I ran up the stairs. As I was just outside the door to the room, I heard a thud. But no tears. I opened the door to see her stunned and sitting on her bum on the floor at the foot of the bed. Realizing her accomplishment, she grinned with delight.

"It's a good thing she landed on her bottom!" exclaimed D, who was on my heels to run up and receive her waking sister. "You got out of bed by yourself!" she cheered her on.

This is not going to teach her to be more cautious in the future.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hazards of Bedsharing

G woke up, looked at me bleary-eyed, and proclaimed, "I'm not sleeping here again! It's all wet," with an air of disapproval. Too sleepy still to realize that she caused the problem and it wasn't just a defect of my bed.

I vacillate between wishing that she would find sleeping in my bed (even on nights when she doesn't have a pee accident in the bed) to be undesirable....and enjoying the fleeting years of closeness that make her love me so completely that she wants to be with me day and night.

My sympathy for her and her sisters - who all want more nighttime parenting that anyone wants to give - comes from my memories of being alone and afraid at night when I was a kid. I remember the terror of a dark room, the processing of anxieties that poke at a person only in the quiet of night, and the stalling of bedtime to avoid the loneliness. So, who am I to argue that they should be shut into their own rooms alone all night?

I know that someday G will suffer through a nightmare at 4 a.m. without waking the whole family and crawling into my bed to help her feel safe. I know that someday she will probably quietly swallow her fears and maybe even lose sleep over things that worry or scare her. And I'll be sorry that she won't be able to find the complete solace that she now finds under my wing.

So, for now, I accept the musical beds, the pee accidents, the sleep disruptions, and the several small bodies cramming themselves into my bed. Because at least now I have the ability to make everyone feel safe at night.
Homeless man on bus,
I wish I could help, and that
You could take a bath.

Monday, October 13, 2008


G is working on preschool now. We haven’t spent a ton of time doing traditional academic things with her because she isn’t that interested in sitting and doing them. Instead, we focus on reading books together (and she will sit and listen to anything, including history texts and Shakespeare), physical activities (like dancing, pony riding, swimming, and hiking), and just playing together.

But lately I have felt the pressure to have her know her shapes, colors, letters, and numbers like all of the other preschool aged kids. Something about turning 4 this month makes me want to be more serious with her. I realize this is silly because it’s not like she needs to pass some test. She can learn these things just as easily at 5 or 6. But, I continue to bow to my self-imposed pressures to achieve things that culture expects.

The benefit to working on these things with her is that I also get to remember how fun it is to discover the world with a preschooler.

“Mommy, in the book about Froggy, why does his face turn….what is it…yellow?” she asked about the book where the frog forgets to put on his underwear.

“Red. His face turns red,” I explained. “When people are embarrassed, sometimes their face turns red. Froggy was embarrassed that he forgot his underwear.”

Skepticism on her face. “Faces don’t turn red when people are embarrassed. Is that just for frogs?”

Ah, the literal interpretations of a preschooler. True, faces don’t turn crayon red. And the collision of literal interpretation with imagination. It doesn’t even occur to her that frogs don’t wear underwear.

And like a clever preschooler, she is a good problem solver. In working on our shapes, she just cannot seem to remember the word “triangle” for some reason. Don’t ask me why. We have sung songs, cut shapes, drawn pictures, read books….that word just doesn’t want to stay in her brain yet. So, when asking her about shapes the other day, I asked her to identify a triangle.

“What shape is this?” I asked.

“Um….Rectangle?” she guessed.

“Rectangle has two short sides and two long sides, right? So, do you think this is a rectangle?”

She shook her head no but still couldn’t retrieve the word.

“Do you want a hint?”

She nodded her head yes.

“It starts with a T.”

“T-rectangle?!” she giggled.

At least she has a sense of humor. That passes whatever test we would want to apply this week.

Thursday, October 2, 2008