Winter time has me searching for places outside our hibernation cave to play with Carter. I found this new play place fifteen minutes from where we live.
Since I've been to a few of these pay-to-play places, I had an idea of what to expect. A giant room, most likely sectioned off with different themed moon bounces, balls, cars or tunnels. Usually never anything of real interest to Carter, he's a little afraid of moon bounces and gets bored easily with riding toys.
But this place was different. I was kinda surprised to walk in at 1 p.m. and find it completely vacant except for the woman who worked there. Behind her was a large room, fully stocked with tiny, carefully placed toys. There were puzzles purposely stacked - one row for boys, another for girls, - a tiny kitchen with dishes, plastic food and utensils sorted in the drawers and cabinets, shelves of hundreds of books (I bet you they were alphabetical) and doll houses staged as if they should never be disturbed. There were about ten giant buckets. Each bucket was filled with its own theme: matchbox cars, dinosaurs, monsters, musical instruments, farm animals, you name it, it had a bucket.
So the woman charged us $7.50 (I know, right?!) and through the gate Carter went. As soon as his eyes met the thousands of tiny toys, he set out to prove his ancient warrior name - Destroyer of all that is Organized.
And I let him. He pulled out everything from its little designated home, just so he could show it to me, get my Wow! of approval and then throw it on the floor. I didn't think anything of it; that's what the toys were there for, right? For play. Like most little boys, destroy is Carter's interpretation of play.
After ten minutes of this, Carter and I wandered off a few feet to explore a nearby mini basketball court. I glanced behind me, and strangely, that woman was there, picking up and perfectly reassembling every toy back exactly the way it belonged.
First I thought to myself, I wish she wouldn't do that, he's going to go right back and play over there again. But then I reasoned, She did charge $7.50 for a child that's not even 2 years old, I suppose I'm getting my money's worth. I felt guilty seeing someone clean up our mess, though.
Sure enough, we went to and from that area a few more times, each time pulling out everything she'd just put away. I ended up sacrificing playing with him to casually (but definitely not frantically) picking up after him here and there. But it started getting awkward. The woman eventually adopted a standing spot against the wall everywhere we went, watching us. Whenever we paused for too long with a group of toys, she was behind us, meticulously cleaning them up.
I'm thinking we're not going back to that place.
I'd considered Carter and I a team during the Destroyer vs. PsychoOrganizerLady battle, but on our way out, Carter was being all independent-like and no-no'd me when I offered to hold hands.
Carry on your way, lone Destroyer, carry on.
I've neglected my Top Baby Blogs campaign & need to refuel.
It's looking like Bumble's going to get knocked out of the top ten soon!
Will you please vote for us?
(click the logo above to vote)
My YouTube channel (didja know I have one?) attracts all kinds of honest people. Not that I mind, I love the honesty that's drenched into opinions, as long as it's not downright mean.
And I know you're dying to know the comment that actually triggered a blog post from me. But first, you should know that I absolutely don't consider this comment to be mean. Although I don't agree with it, the honesty is refreshing.
Someone wrote about Carter, He's going to need his ears pinned. He's cute though. (If you're not familiar with the surgical procedure of ear pinning, click here.)
You knew it was coming someday. Yes, she's going to write about the baby's big ears.
In my video footage and photos, you can see that Carter's ears stick out, but they aren't nearly as blatant through the eye of the internet as they are when you see him in person. Truly, all you see are ears. The big, blue round eyes come second into your line of vision. It's just the way his features work.
Strangers in public act taken back by how adorable he is. And I do believe they're marveling on the inside from the cuteness--the cuteness, that is, the ears.
And everyone wants to say it. I can feel them wanting to say it. It's in the air, but they don't dare grab the words --Gosh, his ears are so big and cute! But nobody says it. They pause, they let their wide eyes and silent air hang there, then they finally gush, He's sooo cute! Upon closer examination, some people make it further to, Woah, his eyes are amazing. The ears are always left completely untouched for the entire conversation.
And I stand there thinking, Why? Why don't you just say something about his ears? They're right here, hitting you in the face. He's swinging them over his shoulder like a continental soldier, and they're so stinking cute! At this point, even a simple, woah .. ears, would be acceptable.
Pretending not to notice them just makes everything awkward. The look on your face, awkward. You trying to keep your mouth from hanging open while you're staring, awkward. Commenting on his ears won't offend me. Any (rare, occasional) mention of his ears makes my heart beam with proudness and feel gratitude and admiration to the person who's not afraid to state the obvious. Because when you comment on his ears, that's when I know you mean it when you say he's cute.
My hunch is that people's hearts go out for me a little because I'm a mother with a big-eared baby. I remember a few years ago seeing a baby whose ears only slightly curved outward (and this was after I studied him kinda hard). The ears didn't make him unattractive by any means, but still, my reaction was to feel bad for his mother and hope that my own babies didn't have big ears. And I know this was my exact thought for myself because I also remember telling myself I was a horrible person for even thinking that thought. How ironic.
The irony takes another twist, and shows me about four years later in love with a pair of soft, beautiful, big ears. You would think I'm saying I love his ears as some sort of defense mechanism, but I don't even think his ears need defending. They're my absolute favorite feature on my baby.
If, in October 2009, I had gone through 21 hours of labor and ended up only pushing out 2 floppy, adorable ears, I would still be blissfully in love (confused, but in love). The ears make him Carter. They enhance his baby face to the extreme and give him an adorable, cartoon-ish, puppy look.
So, let's return to that honest YouTube comment and kinda what I wanted the point of this post to be. Pinning ears. Cosmetic surgery for children with features that will most likely cause them to be made fun of. Judging by the size and shape, he won't be growing into these ears. As a parent, can I really make a decision like this for my child when he comes home from school, possibly with tear streaks lining his face, and tells me kids make fun of him? Wasn't he given the ears so he can endure the bullying as a kid and grow up to be stronger and better than all those kids and kick their asses Donald Trump/FacebookDorkyGuy-style? I could leave the decision up to him, but who really knows what age a child is prepared enough to make that kind of permanent decision for his life? Kids switch from Superman to Batman to Ironman on a monthly basis.
In my childhood, I had to wear enormous, thick glasses (I had several other nerdy features to overcome, but I'm trying to keep this simple). I was made fun of throughout elementary school. I hated it, I would never relive it or wish for those years back. They are over, and they made me who I am now.
My mom will still tell you those glasses were cute.
If his ears are pinned, his future will be changed. He won't learn the same kind of strength, but it could also push him into a category that kids really long for while they're growing up - normalcy. Is our childhood more important than our adulthood?
Not to mention what a cosmetic surgery like that would do to my heart. I'd almost put it in the same category as seeing your child get a tattoo: messing with perfection. Messing with simplicity and the way your body was meant to be. I imagine myself feeling personally offended looking at a post-surgery, normal-eared Carter. The ears are part of the strings he and I have used to tie our bond.
It's a fact:
*Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.
*It's been interpreted that big ears predict survival. Men with smaller ears may die at younger ages because ear size may be a marker of biological process related to health.
Do you ever daydream about what your baby's going to grow up to be?
And I don't mean the regular stuff all parents hope for their kids - like college, marriage with their own families, a good job, success or happiness. Of course that's what I want. If he ends up accomplishing any of that, I'll be thrilled.
Because I've been thinking a lot about the scary stuff.
First, I try to get a picture of him in my head as an older, adult-ish tall person. His face is vague to me; I avoid picturing any type of acne and can't steer clear of a silhouette with floppy ears. So, what we're seeing here is a tall, skinny man - err - guy with some ears and a blurry, nice face. Trying to add in any other features - like profile, nose shape or lip size - blows my mind.
Then I get into what this skinny man - my actual son - is going to be doing. He's going to be doing what every other human on earth does.
Trying cigarettes. Maybe taking up smoking.
Drinking too much.
Avoiding his mom's phonecalls.
Getting made fun of.
Thinking dirty thoughts.
Getting in car accidents.
Falling in love.
Already I'm looking at older kids (like say, four year olds), and I'm thinking, There's something about that kid that makes him so not what I want Carter to be. The oldness, perhaps? The perpetual vanishing of cuteness?
Right now I have the luxury of watching his every move.
I think of his youth, complete with frog-filled, boyish adventure and so many accidents that could happen to him. Some scrapes and bruises, yes. But what if there's a spinal injury or disease? Brain damage? Obesity? Bullying? How can I ensure that he's never sad?
Having him in my life makes me feel like the world is so much more full of danger than good.
The little penis I've been trying to keep from getting an adhesion and whose pee-fountain I've been dodging is going to have sex one day. I think of girls, and my instinct wants them to leave my little Carter's heart alone.
Let's say he does go to college. On the very day I drop him off, he's going to go to some party and do ridiculous things. Smoking, drinking, jumping in dark ponds at night (what? no ponds at your college?), and probably some new raging dangerous technology having to do with the year 2030 that you and I will be oblivious to. Things are going to happen to him. There's going to be thousands of instances where the only way he can learn about life is by doing something wrong.
He may decide to ::gulp:: join the military and be sent off to war. My stomach just did a flip.
I know it's natural to worry about my son's future and his livelihood. I am, after all, his mother. Events are out of his control and may hurt him physically or spiritually, it happens to everyone.
But still, my daydream about what Carter will be feels unanswered ... I realize, there's so much I don't want for him, and I know, regardless, it's headed his way. But honestly, the only wish I truly and selfishly have for his life is that I don't want him to be anything or anyone more than what he is right now. I want him to be 15 months old, safe, innocent, cute and in love with me and his dad.
Protective. Yes, there's the word I've been trying not to use. Crazy, stupidly, understandably and overly protective.
Maybe that's how all of us survived our youth - through the divine intervention of our mothers' relentless, worrisome prayers.
So, here's my big announcement: Carter will be released from his home on his 30th birthday.
I l♥ved this day. Carter and I didn't squeeze a couple sporadic good hours into our chaos, we had an entire day of goodness.
Instead of his normal whine/point/get frustrated combo, he looked me in the eye, raised his little eyebrows and asked me for a kah-coo? (translation: cracker). Yes, it sounds like a fairly unimpressible deal, but I'm telling you, I almost fell on the floor. I suggest words to him all day, he's never chosen a real word on his own like that (besides the no-nos, pah-pulls (apples) and mamas).
On top of that, we played with trucks. He listened to me when I explained things and looked patiently at me until I told him, Ready, Set, Go! before he knocked down his Yo Gabba Gabba figurines over and over.
Things are changing. This little person is starting to focus less on his
obsession with apelike err survival instincts and more on listening, learning, copying and caring. It's awesome. And yeah, my eyes got a little teary while we were playing with one of his trucks.
I even got 2 whole kisses out of the blue without even asking for them. Beat that, people with clean houses!
I know. I don't know what any of that stuff is, either.
Have you ever heard of anyone who's happy to turn thirty?
I was fully set on not blogging about this birthday because I didn't want to glorify it in any way. For some silly reason or another, I always end up in tears on my birthdays, and I knew even considering the number this year would gear up some sobs. I mean, I'm officially closer to 40 than 20. My vanity-ridden tendencies translate the word thirty as unattractive. Yes, I fully expected to wake up suddenly and blatantly uglier than I was before I went to sleep.
So, I did what any setonstaying29 year old would do. I slept in super late and was prepared to ignore the giant "10" date staring at me on my iPhone calendar. Carter was at his grandma's and Matt had gone to work.
But my darn phone. I have facebook alerts set on my phone, so every ten seconds I got a wall post buzz in from someone reminding me I'm thirty.
Today I wasn't struck by any fabulous revelations about what I want for myself or how life's supposed to be by the time you hit this age. It's possible I was just avoiding the typicality of it all - the should be's and will do's just seem so overdone, probably because it's so close to the New Year. I know I have everything I've ever wanted; my husband loves me madly, and the baby I've longed for is learning love.
I still love sleeping like a teenager, throwing clothes on the floor, playing with my makeup and drinking Pepsi for breakfast. I spend silly amounts of money on candles, and I suck at returning phone calls. I don't moisturize, and I can't parallel park. I wear chipped purple nail polish and my hair's way too long. I am thirty. Thirty will not change me. At any rate, it looks like I'm the one changing thirty.
Thirty year olds are expected to act like responsible adults, but really, I think it's just something that happens to us over time and not something we should even consider working at. Maturity comes naturally as soon as you realize you want the best - not so much for yourself anymore - but for your husband, child, parents and siblings.
Instead of trying to act my age, I plan to shoot backwards. I want to always be able to relate to Carter while he's growing up and never let the perils of bills, grocery lists or disappointments age me.
Still, life pauses for none of us. I'm trusting memories of my youth and the innocence in Carter's eyes will continue to carry me into the years with grace.
I am not one to complain.
For three years I fought fertility issues, and quite frankly, if I were to read something along the lines of what I'm about to write, I would have scowled at my computer screen and given it the finger. And I never give the finger.
Because, in my book, mothers have no right to complain. They had everything I ever wanted - hell, I would have rolled around in a pile of poopy diapers and not slept for a hundred days straight if it meant I could just have a baby.
As the baby blog world rolls, so it seems we all come to some sort of collision or crash and burn when we smash into the toddler stage. Or at least I have. Everyone else seems to be happily blogging along.
And so here am I and my excuse for my blogging hiatus.
I haven't touched my computer or my camera since the Christmas-ish days a couple weeks ago. My baby perfected his walking, so he walks all over me, everything we own in this house and things we didn't even know we had. He points to his mouth, signing that he's hungry every 13 minutes, and yet he refuses to eat any snack/food/meal idea I contrive.
just about lost my mind.
Quite honestly, I'm tired of talking about babies and what they're doing and cheerios and the texture of poopy diapers. I know, quite a statement for a post on a would-be happily puttering along baby blog.
I want to sit on my couch, turn on the TV and indulge in something ridiculously girlie and grown up for three straight hours.
All I've heard since the day we brought Carter home is Don't worry, it'll get easier.
Well, answer me this, mister Getter of Easier - why has everything straight out of nowhere gotten so friggin' complicated and hard?
There are only two things I want for myself and this whole stay at home mom deal during the day - a clean house and a happy baby. I can't have either one.
When I shift my focus to cleaning, my baby clings to my leg, crying and whining. When I concentrate on just feeding and playing with him, the more
grimey unlivable my house becomes. We can't find toothbrushes, wipes, towels, shoes, pants. You name it, it's probably in a pile somewhere or on the kitchen floor. Laundry is clean but never folded. Things are spread everywhere; Carter tears things apart and they land in unrequited territories across the house.
My mom - my hero - is taking care of Carter this weekend. And although I do truly miss him, the pressure weighing on my chest that was holding back my tears has vanished. I can't remember having a freeing feeling like this since the day I finished high school or got my driver's license.