tripping the life unbalanced

Sunday, February 26, 2006

these shoes were made for tapping

I was just about to write this whole entry about the latest exploits of the big girl in the big girl bed. Until she threw me the best one yet just now:

I put her to bed about 10 minutes ago - after no nap today, a hectic afternoon, a bath, and books, and warm milk yada yada yad, I thought she would be pooped. I figured I could get away with one quick bedtime song and she would be out in minutes. But then, just as I started writing this entry, I hear this tap-tap-tapping sound coming from her room. I went in to see what was up and all I find was a little girl giggling in her bed. I knew she had done something, but I couldn't figure out what. I started with the whole "listen Alice, I know that sometimes it's hard to go to sleep but really it's just that" and making myself vomit inside, when I heard the tap-tapping sound again - coming from beneath the covers. I threw back the covers to find the culprit - trampy little "princess" high heels we have unfortunately inherited. That she loves. She had them on the outside of her sleepers - with feet. What a look.

I burst out laughing, which of course wasn't the best thing to curb her growing hyperactivity. But I just couldn't help it.

Someone else put this child to sleep, pleaeeeeaassseee?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

what's that sound in the night?

So the big girl saga contines. Now that Alice has started to become a little more accustomed to the no-crib-bars thing, she has discovered how free she really is. Every night we have to tell her to get back to bed a million trillion times. And look people, I know this is not news to the more experienced parent out there, but this is my first time at it and GOOD LORD why does she keep getting out of her bed?

Last night, par example, we settled down to watch (a perfectly horrible movie) RED EYE (why oh why do I order this shit?). We had already done the whole "back to bed Alice" thing for about an hour. I thought she was more settled by the time we started our movie but of course I was wrong.

About 10 minutes into the movie, we heard a little voice call out "ummmm...Mommy? Something hurts in my eye?" Matt and I had a brief "your turn YOUR TURN" negotiation with me winning in the end. He grumbled up the stairs to her room and then suddenly I heard a gasp and a very loud "Alice! what did you do to your face?"

I ran up to her room to find my little one had snuck into the bathroom while we were downstairs, took out my mascara from the medicine cabinet (where all the FUCKING PILLS are of course) and proceeded to smear it all over her face. Mainly her eyes. We finally got her cleaned up (YOU try explaining waterproof mascara to a 2 year old while rubbing her face off) and back in bed. I think the whole experience tired her out and so she finally fell asleep at around 10PM.

I suppose it could have seemed really cute to anyone else - she was just trying to do something mommy does. But all I kept thinking "Christ Almighty! She can now sneak around without me hearing and get into god knows what!"

This is going to do wonders for my anxiety.

Monday, February 20, 2006

one little monkey jumping on the bed

Yesterday, we finally did something that we've been meaning to do for some time now. Yesterday, Alice became a big girl. Yesterday, we took down the crib and set up the single bed in Alice's room. Yesterday, my daughter and I experienced our first true fight as mother and daughter. Yesterday, my baby said goodbye to being a baby.

We figured now that Alice is ALMOST THREE, that maybe just maybe it was time for us to move her to a bigger bed. We have kept her in the crib for two main reasons 1) she hasn't really acted on a desire to climb out yet and 2) I was dreading the freedom she would have once out on her own. Mainly the reason was number 2) because I can selfish like that.

And so, yesterday morning we decided once and for all to change Alice's baby room into her big girl room. We already had the bed, we just had to make the change. She was more than ready, and we knew it was high time to let her roam free. The whole thing took no longer than an hour, and suddenly we had a very excited little girl jumping on her new bed. She took to it immediately. Closing the door, lying on her bed, reading books, and listening to music. (is she already 15?) She was very very happy that we had made this change, and was all ready to embrace it. Until naptime.

Now I was prepared for the naptime to be a little different. I knew that she wouldn't necessarily even sleep, but that it was important for her to try resting on the new bed at least. But it was like we poured acid all over an open wound. After about 10 minutes of reading quietly on her bed, she ventured out in the hall to my bedroom where I was also reading. "Go back to your bed please, Alice" I tried gently. She glared at me with the force of a angry 16 year old. "I don't like you anymore" she yelled at me and slammed her door. I was stunned, and then angry myself. What ensued in the next hour was a continuum of attempted conversation, to a screaming toddler, to a wagging finger, to a thrown dolly, to a screaming mommy. Whenever I opened the door to see if she was ready to talk, I would get a furrowed brow thrown my way and a strong "get out!" I was convinced she was possessed, and actually said to Matt at one point "I think she has turned psychotic on us."

Looking back on the whole experience, I wished I had dealt with it a little differently. I wished I had remained patient the entire time, instead of losing my cool. But it was like we were actually having a fight - like she understood exactly what she was doing and saying. Like she had grown up suddenly, and I was starting to realise how quickly we had reached the stereotypical but inevitable mother-daughter war.

In the end, I finally reached her by asking "why are you so upset?" She collapsed against me, crying, saying "I don't know how to go to sleep!" Oh god. I felt terrible. Here I was, responding to her as if she were an adult, and suddenly remembering that she was still a little girl who just had a huge change thrown at her. For three years now, she has fallen asleep either in her own crib or in our bed. Never once has she fallen asleep not surrounded by the crib bars or us on either side. What a mind fuck it must be to sleep with everything open around you. Like newborns when they first come into the world, and want to be swaddled to remind them of being in the womb. This was going to be like sleep training all over again.

In any case, there were apologies and tears on both our ends and I think that it actually was a good thing for our burgeoning mother-child relationship. Because the baby really is gone, and I have to accept the little girl who has replaced her. And it is our responsibility as parents to help her into this new world of hers.

Last night was a little better. It took her a few hours to fall asleep in the new bed, but we were both way more relaxed about it. At one point I went in to check on her and she held out her hand and said "hold my hand for a moment, mommy" I gladly agreed, and as she closed her eyes she said "we love each other."

No truer words were ever spoken.

Monday, February 13, 2006

start spreading the news...

I'm back from New York. I had a fantastic time there, almost cathartic if you will.

My anxiety was kept well under control while there, which leads me to believe that it isn't necessarily the place I am in which creates the problem. It is truly all me. I was in NYC, for gawd's sake - land of uber stimulation and constant noise. And I felt completely at home. I managed to quell my claustrophobia for a few hours and actually SHOPPED. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am the worst person to shop with - I get cranky really easily and frustrated that I can't find anything I like. I managed to somehow get beyond this, however, when I stepped into the land of discount fashion warehouses. I found a wicked lime green coat with a crazy collar that I totally fell in love with. I bought it at the start of my week there so I had the chance to walk around in it with new found attitude all week. I found myself reverting back to that confidant self I used to be - before the anxiety and panic. Amidst the the honking horns and every passerby yelling into cell phones, I finally felt at peace again.

How can it be that I had to go all the way to New York to find myself?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

#48 We Need To Talk About Kevin

Ok people. Now we are talking top-drawer kind of literature. The kind that makes me think much more than just 10 minutes. The kind that has me mulling over my thoughts and how to properly organize them for this blog entry. This book, seriously, is a work of art.

We Need To Talk About Kevin won the Orange Prize in the UK last year, and is an agonizing look at a complicated mother-son relationship. I had never read Lionel Shriver's work before, but after reading this I want to find her other stuff and devour it. The short summary is thus: a 16-year old boy (Kevin) has shot and killed his classmaters and teacher in a shocking pre-meditated murdering rampage. The book is made up of his mother's (Eva) letters to his father and her husband about the events that led up to the killings. Namely, the span of Kevin's life.

Kevin's seemingly innate evilness and Eva's distate for her son (from birth) are difficult to read at times. Difficult to understand, and difficult to absorb. Which is, of course, what makes this novel so great. Shriver plays with the prescriptions of motherhood and ideas of maternal instinct in this novel, and gives us instead a picture of the middle-class surburban hell hiding behind these prescriptions. Eva's egomania and self-loathing is mirrored in Kevin's insecurities and fury. And somewhere amidst this complicated mess of emotions there is a mother and son trying to find their way to each other. A relationship that never truly begins until they are faced with the unfathomable.

I wish I could better explain my feelings about this book. It is hard to fully explain the impact of this novel on me. Perhaps it is being a mother myself, or perhaps it was just the genius of Shriver. What I can say is this: few books have moved me so much that I continue to dream about them days after I have put them down.

Most definitely recommended.

#8 Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

Now this is more like it.

When I first saw Amy Krouse's Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
on the top of my library hold package, I was so very happy. Compulsively addictive (can I say that?), this books is made up of...well..encyclopedic references to Amy Krouse's life. So each entry is alphabetical, and contains something - whether it be mundane or of great importance - about Krouse.

Gawd I love lists.

This was one of those books that was a great "in between" read. You know those books that you want to leave on your nightstand and pick up in between other books? These in-between reads can also function like magazines - good for the bath or the small moment you might get while your toddler is actually busy for a change. Unless you decide you just want to stare at the wall and cry during those moments. 'Cause that's OK too.

#3 Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction

Ok. Remind me again why I wanted to put this book on my 50 Book Challenge list? Maybe it was a sentimental choice, as I remember Adrian from the early 80s and his "Secret Diary". Maybe I wanted something a little lighter on this list. An easy read.

Well. Easy it wasn't, as it was so damn boring. Yawn. Next.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

reason 10,996 that my brain has turned to mush

When I settle down to watch some brain-numbing, mindless escapist tv, and my first instinct is to turn it to channel 65. Which in Toronto, is Treehouse (preschool channel). Which to any adult means a special kind of hell.

slowly getting by

I've been a bit AWOL from this site the last little while. My household has been taken over by this nasty cold/flu thing that seems to have Toronto in its grip. Yuck. First it was Alice, then Matt, and now me. I had to cancel a business trip to Montreal today because of how terrible I was feeling.

Isn't it funny how, once you have kids, illness can turn a house upside down? For weeks? You seem to go into days and days of just coping. Your hours are spent timing the tempra doses with your own extra-strength advil doses, sharing the vaporizer, and negotiating between Treehouse TV and bad daytime tv. And meals? Forget about anything worthwhile. It's all about the Japanese take-out then, my friends.

So to add to my whine, I've also been trying to balance my growing work load with everyone being sick. Which gets tricky when you have a snotty-nosed toddler crying at your office door - "mommy, can't you come take care of me?" Be still my guilty heart. So off I go, to the couch to snuggle with my girl while also taking a conference call and french-braiding Barbie's hair at the same time. Now that is multi-tasking.