Slope

Do you ever have a run of being relatively content and calm with life, and think, ‘This isn’t so bad. What was ever so bad about the bad moments? I can handle this.’ ?
… Perhaps it’s an anxiety thing.

Well, I’m going through a bad moment. It’s the culmination of many factors, and the kind of mood where I find myself attributing my current situation to the entirety of my life up to this point. I know things will improve.
Eventually.
But now… is not awesome.

Devin is not a part of the bad. Have I mentioned undies are now his butt-wear of choice? Yep. Most of the credit for that goes to Jene and Devin. I just crossed my arms and said, “I am SICK of buying nappies.”

A few days ago, with a bottle of juice in hand, he told me, “I love juice, Mummy. For all of my life.”

Today, as we were playing with Ruby (our dog), Devin said he could feel her heart beat. Then he said what I had told him, that Taz’s heart had stopped. I said yes, that’s right. He struggled for words for a moment, and eventually asked, “Maybe Taz’s heart will start beating again soon?”
Oh, I had to swallow a lump at that.
He also asked later, after his nap, if we could play in the backyard, “where Ruby is, and where Tazy is buried.” I’ve been fine about it for the last two weeks, but those two sentences today…

The hardest moments with him lately are the times he is being… well, opinionated, for want of a better word. I will tell him it’s time to get ready for bed, and he will look at me and say, “No.” I know the word is nothing new, but the way he says it is as if he has the final say on the matter. I told him today to not tip the cloud dough in to the sandpit (after he had done it), so of course, he scooped more up and dumped it in. It wasn’t that he was testing me or being deliberately defiant – he just wanted to do it. So he did.

He is also developing some not-so-subtle persuasion techniques. Phrases along the lines of the juice comment, for example, are often used when he wants something…
“Mummy, what you got on your toast?”
“Vegemite.”
“Hm. I like Vegemite, Mummy. I do.”

And he whispers questions that he thinks will receive an answer he doesn’t like…
Tan I have something?
“Pardon, Devy?”
“Tan I have something to eat?”
As if we will say yes because we can’t hear him?

That’s all for now, it’s later than I realised. I hope life is kind to you this week.

Parenting – Seriously, not for the squeamish.*

*In which I turn a small injury into a 666 word post.

My Thursday didn’t begin well. I was pissed at traffic, pissed at ridiculous 9am shopping crowds, and pissed at myself for seemingly not being able to contain anything in my grasp (I mean that in the literal coffee-spilling, key-dropping sense).

Considering the preceding events, I did what any sensible person would do and continued to work on the makeshift cardboard grocery store I was in the process of making for Devin. Yes, that does sound reasonable enough, doesn’t it?
Let’s run through the tools required for what I had panned to do –

  • Stanley knife (AKA utility knife AKA boxcutter)

Now let’s consider the fact that, while I’m not inherently clumsy, I do have a tendency to forget to be careful…

Oh dear.

Lesson One:

Lesson Two: Cut away, not towards.

Lesson Three: Keep body parts well away from the cutting path.

Lesson Four: Forget lessons one through three, you’re just going to do it anyway, aren’t you?

When I realised the blade had gone too far, my first thought was, “Holy crap, I’ve severed my thumb”. My second thought, as I glanced down and saw the cut before clamping my right hand over the top, was, “Ok, not that bad, but I think I just saw something that wasn’t skin and blood”. My following train of thought went something like, “Ok. What do I do? That probably needs stitches. I need help. I’ll get Jene. Wait, where’s Devin? Still in the sand pit, ok, bring him inside…” “Dev-!” “No, he’s fine there. I’ll get Jene. He is not going to handle this well. I’d better cover this with a tissue… All right, several tissues… All right, some paper towel…
Jene, to his credit, handled it quite well, just like he handled Devin’s birth. Though he’s somewhat, erm, adverse to medical maladies and general bodily things, he does seem to cope remarkably better when he’s actually faced with an urgent issue, and I have to say I’m glad. After trying a bandaid (haha!), a piece of kitchen cloth wound around my thumb and bound with tape provided a temporary solution – and I’m pretty sure Jene managed to avoid seeing the wound at all during his ministrations.

Throughout all of this, though, my number one worry was, what do I do now? Where do I go? Is this bad enough for hospital? Is it even bad enough for the medical centre? It was a prime example of my absurd anxiety – I was ten times more worried about where I’d have to go and who I’d have to speak to than I was about the deep gash in my hand.

Let’s cut this shorter – I went to the hospital, waited for a triage nurse to evaluate me (“Ah, Stanley knives – our bread and butter”), waited even longer for a doctor to become available, crossed and uncrossed my legs because I needed to pee, hoped that there wouldn’t be any serious emergencies, and spent about five minutes in a treatment room with a doctor who told me that it probably didn’t need stitches, thanks in part to the clean cut made by the sharp blade. He seemed amused when I told him what I’d been doing, and kept asking if I wanted to lie down because I was shaking. Then he closed the wound with some tape, and put a bandaid over the top.

Yes. I left the emergency room with a bandaid.

What, you can’t see it?

My one instruction was to keep it dry for five days – the doctor even gave me a handful of disposable gloves. But, uh, remember what I said about forgetting to be careful? I had both of my hands in a tub of water and laundry powder for ten minutes the following night before I realised what I was doing. Goodness me.

So that’s how a bad day actually felt a lot better after I almost cut off a thumb while making a toy for my child.

All I want for Christmas…

Recently, we had a little incident. It involved Devin’s teeth and his metal bed frame. And you’re already wincing, aren’t you?

As a reminder, this is what his teeth looked like before, in all their gappy glory –

And this is their current status –

His two front teeth were pushed upwards, back into the gum. Yes. Ouch, indeed.

A quick visit to the dentist revealed there wasn’t anything to be done – there shouldn’t be any lasting damage, and the teeth should move back down in their own time. It was, to say the very least, a relief. Obviously, I’m leaving out some details from the middle of the story.

And funnily enough, my youngest sister endured the same injury (to a worse extent) at a similar age, in the backyard on her tricycle. I remember seeing it happen, just that exact moment… But she has perfectly normal teeth now, and she doesn’t remember the event.

Parenting, man. It’s not for the squeamish.

Yes. No. Yes. No.

Do you ever look at the number of photos you have and think, ‘No. That’s ridiculous. It can’t be that many. Why do I have that many? I only want to see that number in my bank account.’

See, I’m a textbook Pisces. Whether that means anything or nothing to you doesn’t really matter – the sign of Pisces is two fish swimming in opposite directions, and that’s pretty much my personality. I can’t make decisions and I never really know what I think or how I feel, because I frequently feel many conflicting things at once.

So – I like things. I like buying things, I like things that are functional and things that just look pretty. If I had the means to furnish and decorate my own home in exactly the way I wanted, I suppose ‘cluttered but organised bohemian’ would be the best way to explain how I would do so.  (For example, I saw a royal purple velour lounge suite on clearance at Harvey Norman recently – I gasped when I saw it and said to Jene, “this is my couch!” Despite the fact that even discounted there was no way I could buy it, I kept thinking about it and feeling cranky that it would end up in someone else’s house.)
I derive great joy from material possessions, sure, but I also get it from other things – I’m not completely materialistic.

Even so, I am constantly wrestling with guilt about owning things. I say I like clutter, but more accurately, I like a home to feel full and complete. I like shelves to be heaving under the weight of many beautiful, quirky, meaningful things. I like feeling cosy and surrounded by stuff that I love. I dislike modern design and big, open spaces. I’m not a fan of open plan living. But, I don’t want my home to be stuffed, especially not with junk – I’m a tidy and aesthetically-driven person – and even when I love most things I own, I feel that tug in my stomach that says, ‘do you really need that, though?’ And I mean, this is just one example of the dichotomy of my silly head – I want things but I feel guilty when I have them.
Devin has quite a number of toys now. Most of them are things that Jene and I bought for him, and most of them are toys that I really like. It’s not an absurd amount, far less than many play rooms I see these days, but I’m reaching a point, as I do with any group of items, where the accumulation is making me uncomfortable. I’m becoming more and more aware of my consumption, and feeling bad about it. (Another thing to know about me – guilt is one of my biggest motivators.)
Additionally, a large collection of toys can become detrimental to a child – they don’t learn to fully appreciate and play with what they have, to explore all of the potential. They move from one thing to another because they can, because it’s all there.

And this is where I come back to the photos. I have a lot on my hard drive. No part of Devin’s life up until this point will be a mystery – it’s all documented in those photos.
Obviously the only space they take up is virtual. (Unless you happen to have several full photo albums, too. Ahem.) But I know they’re there. Just sitting there. Gigabytes of information, waiting and waiting… For what? The day that Devin wants to see his baby photos? The day that someone comes over and says, ‘so – fill me in on EVERY MONTH of your life from 2009 until now’? For me to get nostalgic and browse through the archive? I don’t need that many, no, and I don’t know why I keep them all. I don’t want to delete them, but I don’t know how I feel about the constant expansion of that folder.

I guess I am at least partially trying to grapple with the realities of life these days, and that includes things like instant gratification, information overload, rampant and disposable consumerism and incomprehensible amounts of digital data.

And because that sentence was a little heavier than I had hoped for the end of this post, here is a picture of Devin doing his Excited Happy Dance on the slide.

A toddler of few words.

As a person, I worry a lot. The things I worry about and the extent that I worry about them mean I would probably be officially diagnosed with anxiety.

But, as a parent, I am surprisingly easy-going. I don’t keep an eagle eye on milestones, I don’t really compare Devin to other kids, and I don’t fret if he happens to eat something off the floor. And generally, he hasn’t really given me much cause to worry – the only times my anxiety really switches on in regard to his development and well-being is when I read too much. I tend to be uptight about whatever it happens to be this time (eating more vegetables, reading more books, doing more puzzles, saying more words etc…) for a day or two, and then I realise that I’m not really helping and there was nothing wrong to ‘fix’ in the first place.

And now comes another but.

I am becoming more preoccupied with his speech. Or specifically, his rather small vocabulary, which currently consists of Dad, ice (eyesh), Poppy (puh-pah), Mum (mum or mem), apple (appah – and every fruit is an appah), and most recently, bye.
‘Bye’ was actually kind of funny – Devin was leaving with my mum and sister to go shopping, and after he waved and stepped out the door I heard a little voice say, “Bye!” I froze, looked at my sister who was still inside, and asked, “Was that Devin?!” Yep, sure was. I hadn’t heard him say any words so clearly before, let alone an attempt to say ‘bye’, so to hear it come from his mouth in perfect English was extremely surprising. I was so shocked that my heart was racing for a few minutes afterwards.
Now, everything and everyone gets a ‘bu-byyyye!’ when they leave his line of sight.

He seems to be trying to say ‘car’ and ‘truck’, too, though I can’t recall right now what it sounds like. It’s almost like he’s mashing the two together, or deciding that all cars and trucks are close enough to being the same thing that he can use one word for everything with wheels.

And, though he doesn’t say it in a way that is even remotely like English, he does say ‘thank you’ whenever he is given something. It sounds a bit silly to say that – ‘he says it, but he doesn’t say it’. But I know. Sometimes he takes a sip of a drink, for instance, before remembering that he hasn’t said ‘thank you’, so he quickly pulls the cup away, smiles at me and says it. And I always respond with, ‘you’re welcome.’ I’m really pleased that he’s doing this without being prompted, actually. Up until he started doing it himself, I’d hand him something while saying, ‘thank you, Mum’, then follow with ‘you’re welcome, Devy’ when it was in his hands. Also, Jene and I have always said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ often to each other. But, for whatever reason, I thought it would be a long time before Devin really picked up on it.

There are things that ease my mind. Devin babbles a lot, he makes noises when he’s playing, he knows animal noises and machine noises, he groans with imagined exertion whenever we say ‘heavy’, he recognises a lot of what we say, and he sings along to music. He’s also started to occasionally say, ‘naaah-oh’ (no) when he recognises that something isn’t quite right – like when we were lining up his little cars and he put an aeroplane in the line.

When I lay everything out like that, I feel more relaxed. It’s just a little hard not to wonder if something isn’t quite right when many 2 year olds have vocabularies up to 100 words (or more) and are stringing them together into basic sentences. It’s also hard to know when comparing is just causing undue worry, and when it might actually be helpful…