brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

For those of you who’ve been following along for a while, Nikola has a baby doll named Baby who he dotes upon and loves. He “changes her diapoh” and “cleans her dirty BUTT” and tucks her in for a nap and feeds her and burps her and celebrates her 1st birthday about one a week, complete with “cake” and “wrapped presents” (random crap he drapes paper or t-shirts or tissues or something over) and a card that he makes for her.

Lately, Baby has been displaced in his affections by… Spider-Man.

Nesko’s parents had a mini-family reunion and I got to meet like 50 people who were total strangers to me and mostly didn’t speak English (I am monolingual) and that wasn’t terrifying or awkward for me AT ALL and I made lemon cheesecake and turtle bar cookies and rice krispy treats and they were all big hits so yaaay. But Nesko’s culture has this thing where it’s common for visiting adults to bring presents, candy, and/or money to the kids they visit. One of Niko’s scores was a pretty big Spider-Man toy with a Spider-Copter or something. Spider-Man is his New Love and he’s been taking Spider-Man to bed with him and cuddling him and toting him around.

DID YOU KNOW: Spider-Man likes bacon, and he likes sausage, but he hates ham. Steak is ok, but pancakes and eggs are right out. His favorite breakfast consists of a croissant, donut, banana, and potato (??). We went out for breakfast the other day and Niko ordered a pancake for himself and a plate of bacon for Spider-Man. Niko set Spider-Man on the seat next to him and fed him bites of bacon and afterward he requested two lollipops… one for him and one for Spider-Man. (Niko also scolded me for being rude and mean to the waitress, so I explained to him that I was ordering a BELGIAN waffle, not a BELCHING waffle.)

Let me tell you what kind of parent I am: knowing that he was making a bold grab for two dum-dum suckers for himself, at the cash register, I said yes.

In the car, driving to Home Depot, Niko crunched away on his sucker and then piped up “Since Spider-Man isn’t really REAL, can I just go ahead and eat HIS lollipop TOO?” I said yes, of course.

In other news, we’re repainting Niko’s room and it’s taking longer than expected. He’s sleeping in our room while we paint. I hope we get done soon. Really. Seriously. And that he transitions back to his own bed quickly and easily.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko’s been watching some Princess movies recently (“Tangled,” “Cinderella,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Brave,” etc) and also talking with a friend of his who is very keen on Princesses in general. He’s been practicing drawing Princesses for her because she’s more interested in that than in dinosaurs and he’s trying to branch out a bit, and also talking about Princesses… including describing a show that he wants to see. It is a show about Princess Dinosaur.

“Is she a princess who is a dinosaur, or is she a princess who rides on dinosaurs?” I asked.

“She isn’t either of those things,” he explained. “She is a princess who travels back in time to STUDY dinosaurs.”

Which, I mean, if “Dinosaur Train” can feature dinosaurs who travel through time to study other dinosaurs, certainly there’s a market for a PRINCESS, perhaps with a cuddly animal companion, who travels through time to study dinosaurs as well? I’ll press him for more details and share some drawings with you as I can.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We hauled the Christmas Bins up from the basement, where they’ve been stored, but haven’t started setting anything up yet. Niko’s been rummaging through the bins, though, and has pulled out his Christmas books (including “The Polar Express,” which we’ve been reading 3-8 times a day lately) and toys. His Christmas Toys include a snowman hand puppet, some finger puppets, and a bunch of stuffed animals I picked up when I worked at Fannie May right before they declared bankruptcy and were bought by Alpine Confections. He also dug out his Santa Claus Mr Potato Head.

As such, Santa Claus has been flying around the house delivering toys, which he keeps stored in his butt.

(Santa Claus also has his ears under his arms for some reason. “That’s just how Santa Claus Mr Potato Head does it,” says Nikola, and who am I to argue with that?)

While playing The Polar Express Breakdown Train At The North Pole Niko doubled down on the story that Santa Claus stores toys in his butt. “And he poops and pees out of the same place.” “What place is that,” I asked, because I am a sucker for off the wall kid stories. “Out of his pedis,” he said, both mispronouncing “penis” and also for some reason forsaking the Serbian word we usually use. “But you can’t poop and pee out of a penis. That would be a gross medical problem. If Santa Claus was pooping and peeing out of his penis he would need a doctor.” “Well, he used to poop and pee out of his butt like you do, but he has toys in his butt.” “I don’t poop and pee out of my butt,” I said, launching into yet another explanation of penises and vulvas and anuses and urethras. “Ya ya ya you have a pelvis I KNOW,” he retorted, continuing to say “pelvis” instead of “vulva,” which may well lead to serious confusion when he takes an Anatomy class. I tried to explain about butts and anuses and poop and bladders and urethras.

“Well SOME PEOPLE and SOME ANIMALS poop and pee out of the same place.”

“You mean like a cloaca? Like a chicken or some dinosaurs? How they poop and pee and lay eggs out of the same place?”

“YES YES MAMA YES” he said in the tone of voice (which comes more and more frequently) that manages to imply that I’m a barely functioning fool who is only dragging him down. People talk shit about teenagers but four year olds are just as bad while being too short to cook dinner or wash their own laundry. Worst of both worlds.

“So you…. are saying… that Santa Claus has a cloaca.”

“YES mama that is what I said. And he keeps it very clean and cleans it every day so it doesn’t get bugs.”

“He’s worried… about bugs… in his cloaca?”

“Yes, he doesn’t want bugs and mice getting in his cloaca and eating up the toys in his butt and eating all the wood in the toys.”

It all makes internal sense, I suppose, if you can simply accept that Santa Claus 1) stores toys in his butt and 2) has a cloaca. He is a concerned guy! He doesn’t want bugs eating up the toys! That are in his butt.

Later he revealed that Santa has many elves (which he just calls ells) and some are boys and have pedises and speak in English and some are Gworwuls (girls) and have pelvises (vulvas) and speak in a language nobody else understands but them. Which kind of sounds super sexist like whyyyyyy are you saying these women elves just spout gibberish? Is that what you think women do? That they don’t speak? That they don’t make sense? That they aren’t worth listening to? But then he clarified that they speak the same language as The Minions from “Despicable Me” and he loves those minions so much and has renamed all his stuffed animals after them and possibly this is how he’s trying to explain why there’s no female minions… they are all hanging out with Santa Claus at the north pole. (NB: there may be female minions I guess, but all the named ones have very male-typical names)

He’s a weird, creative kid who is not willing to let himself be bound by things like common sense or mammalian anatomy. I absolutely love that about him.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko’s been making a lot of art recently. We worked on one together, but the other is all him.

niko_garden_art_collage

He told me that he wanted to cut out some flowers and glue them to paper to make a garden. So we sat down together and I helped him cut out some blossoms. He tried cutting out stems but got frustrated so I did that. He glued some of them down before getting bored so I finished that up, then he helped me glue the grass down. He drew the sun and I drew some clouds. I wanted him to draw the sun on a piece of white paper, or cut out a piece of yellow paper for the sun, but he would have none of that.

I’d like to do this again on a piece of bristol board, using patterned paper and a better glue (spray on adhesive instead of glue stick) because I think that’d be a cool piece of art. Using decorative paper punches that made flower heads, leaves, etc would also be cool/fun and speed things up quite a bit.

niko_art_allosaur

Remember when I mentioned the white board and how much Niko liked it? He’s been drawing a lot of awesome dinosaurs on it. This is one of them, an allosaurus. On the left you can see its enormous head and massive teeth and on the right you can see its feathered tail. You can also see its hands and feet with fingers/toes. FUN FACT: in Serbian, prst means both “finger” and “toe.” “Digit,” says Nesko. “It means digit.” I did not help with this one at all.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko has seriously levelled up in some aspects of his problem solving/helpfulness skills and it’s both adorable and ARGH NO STOP PLEASE NO at the same time. For instance, pouring his own drinks leads to massive spills, wiping his own pooey bum leads to poo everywhere, and jumping up and using a tool to turn on a light switch is an awesome idea but when that tool is a crayon it leads to crayon on the lightswitch/walls. There’s also the frustrating fact that he is ABLE to fully dress himself but still insists on us “helping” him where “helping” is “doing almost everything.” However, I think that’s primarily him being a bit clingy because a lot of stuff is changing and changing fast (Nesko has a new job and isn’t home as much, school is starting soon, we’re talking about moving albeit not for at least a year, etc). But I look at my little baby who came into this world as a helpless squalling grub, and every day I get closer to seeing the adult who’s going to leave my house.

He spent most of Saturday with his Tetka (aunt), and didn’t get home until pretty late. He had a super great time with her (he always does, she’s great) and before he left she told him that LATER ON as in IN THE FUTURE he could come over again and “swim” in the pool (a little wading pool, nothing big/fancy… if it was a real pool you know I’d rudely move in and never leave). He interpreted this, as little kids do, as TOMORROW.

So instead of sleeping in on Sunday he bounded into our bedroom, bright and alert, at 5:00 a. m.

I’M AWAKE NOW! IT’S TIME TO BE AWAKE! HEY WHY ARE YOU GUYS STILL SLEEPING?!? IT’S TIME TO BE AWAKE NOW! I NEED YOU TO HELP ME PUT ON MY SWIMMING CLOTHES! I’M GOING SWIMMING WITH TETKA NAMEREDACTED! I NEED TO PUT ON MY SWIMMING PANTS! WHERE IS MY WATER SHIRT? I’M GOING TO GO PACK MY BAG!

Then he scampered off.

He came back a few minutes later wearing swim trunks (over underpants).

I’M ALL PACKED NOW! WHERE IS MY WATER SHIRT? WHEW IT’S GOING TO BE A HOT AND SUNNY DAY, I NEED MY SUNSCREEM. WHERE IS MY SUNSCREEM? WE CAN ALL PUT ON SUNSCREEM AND GO SWIMMING IN MY LITTLE POOL. IT’S SOOOOOO HUGE IT’S ENORMOUS! I PACKED MY BAG! HEY, WHY AREN’T YOU UP? I NEED TO EAT SOME CEREAL YOU GUYS! I HAVE TO EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST BEFORE I GO SWIMMING!

I dragged myself out of bed and helped him get a bowl of cereal (WITH MILK OK MAMA) and told him he had to not wear underpants with his swim suit, so he stripped down and redressed in just the trunks. He scarfed down two bowls of cereal and I checked his bag. He’d packed:

  • a full change of clothing including underpants and socks
  • a hat
  • sunglasses
  • his water bottle
  • appropriate snacks in little containers

This child does not need me anymore, except to get things off of high shelves. OBVIOUSLY.

Nesko called his sister who was all yeah no, I’m busy all day, I meant LATER and we broke the news gently to Niko. But not until he’d told me just how BIG and HUGE and ENORMOUS his swimming pool is. Internets, his swimming pool is SO BIG it is the size of my butt.

Apparently my bottom is now a unit of measure.

I told him that my butt is pretty small for a swimming pool and he said OH HM WAIT NO. MY SWIMMING POOL, he said, IS THE SIZE OF THAT THING YOU GOT UP THERE and he pointed at my shoulder which, I mean, that’s even smaller than my butt. Whaaat?

He’s decided that today is a good day to have a picnic so he’s spread a little blanket on the floor and consuming all food (breakfast, snack, lunch) right there. I can dig it.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko was fooling around on the bed the other day when he rolled right off, banged into the wall, and hit the floor hard. No harm done, he laughed and scrambled back onto the bed. I called him a doofus, which delighted him, and he spent several minutes fake rolling off the bed and demanding that I save him. I generally oblige him, and rolled him back onto the bed each time.

Later on, we were playing and cuddling in the bed before starting the rest of our bed time ritual (brush teeth, wash face, medication, jammies on, 2 stories from a book, 1 story “from my head,” 1 song, cuddles, kiss and hug, that’s it) (Nesko’s bedtime ritual involves sleeping with him, sucker) when he started pretending to fall out of bed again.

“Save me mama!” he called. “Saaaave me! Mama, save me from being a doofus!”

“Aw, baby boy,” I said. “Nobody can save you from being a doofus. You can only save yourself.”

He promptly fell out of bed.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko’s greatest love is dinosaurs.

After that, though, he loves mysteries. Also: trains, cars, My Little Pony, and Chicago’s architecture. But he’s really keen on mysteries and went through a phase where he was super into “The Great Mouse Detective” and “Busy Town Mysteries.” If someone is looking for something, his first question is ‘well, where is the last place you saw it?’ which is a pretty helpful question to ask.

He was helping me clean the dining room yesterday, running a microfiber cloth around the molding and windowsills and chair legs to dust them. Then he wandered off. I needed that cloth so I could dust the tops of some things, so I called him back into the dining room to ask him where it was.

“Hm,” he said, rubbing his chin. “Hm. It sounds like A MYSTERY.”

“Dude, just tell me where it is. Where did you put it?”

“I didn’t put it! It’s lost. It is… A MYSTERY.”

He walked over to his easel and flipped the paper out of the way, picked up a chunky piece of yellow chalk and tapped it against the chalk board.

“What did it look like?”

“What do you mean what did it look like? You just had it.”

He tapped the chalk board again.

“WHAT did it LOOK LIKE mama?”

“It was a yellow square of microfiber cloth.”

“Uh huh. Uh huh. AH HAH.”

He drew a close approximation of a square on the chalk board.

“A yellow square. OF CLOTH. Where is the last place you saw it?”

“You were dusting the window sill with it. Did you take it into the living room to play with?”

“I must LOOK FOR CLUES. You wait here.”

He ran off and came back with it.

“FOUND IT. I found it. SOMEBODY put it… IN THE LIVING ROOM. Another mystery solved!”

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

On the good news front, Nesko has a new job. It’s a Union gig, which means regular raises and health care and job protection and paid holidays and two days a week off, guaranteed, and overtime work is paid time and a half or double time (depending) and all kinds of fun stuff that for the most part doesn’t exist without Unions. (And before you butt in with stories of corporate jobs where this stuff is standard, it wasn’t before Unions came along.) He had Orientation on Friday, worked his last day at Previous Job on Saturday, and had Sunday off and Monday off as a paid holiday. He hasn’t had a paid holiday since, like, 2005… when he was working for a big retail company that frequently required him to work 12+ hour shifts. Anyway, his new company handed out company branded baseball caps and the Union handed out Union branded badges, and Nesko brought them both home to show off his new hat and talk about what he’d been told.

On Saturday, Niko dragged down that hat from its hook on the wall and put it on his head.

“Look at me,” he said, hat draped over his eyes. “I’m Tata.” He shoved his feet into Nesko’s house shoes and shuffled around in them. “I’m Tata and I’m wearing my hat and shoes. I’m going to go to work now. This is my car and I’m going to fix it and then I’m going to go to work.”

He waved a plastic wrench around his red Radio Flyer tricycle. “I’m fixing the brakes,” he said. “Because I’m Tata and I need to fix my car and go to work. I work hard because I’m Tata.”

He “drove” his “car” around, still wearing the hat, and banged into a book shelf. We use rechargeable batteries, and the battery recharger fell down and hit the floor pretty hard. The plastic cover fell off. Niko started freaking out, upset that he’d broken something, bewailing his fate and trying to cram the plastic cover back on. He stopped suddenly.

“Wait!” he said. “But I’m Tata. Why would I do something naughty?”

I called him over and fixed the battery recharger and he put it back on the shelf and returned to his exciting life of being Tata and driving his car around.

We’re all pretty excited about the new job. It sounds like it’s going to work out, and be a very positive thing.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I want you to imagine a helmet. A football helmet, maybe. Only without the face/mouth guard, so it just covers the head.

Now imagine that there’s hair all over that helmet, just shaggily covering it. You may have seen wigs like this, perhaps in the 1970s.

Now imagine that this thick helmet of shaggy hair has been licked in the back by a cow, so chunks of it are sticking up impervious to wettings and stern combings.

This is Niko’s head.

He is refusing all offers of hair cuts, and I could force him somehow I guess but that’s a violation of bodily autonomy I don’t want to engage in. Also, I don’t want to deal with a squirming, struggling four year old and a pair of scissors or clippers. That’s how you end up with a bald kid with only one eye, you know?

I’ve asked him about this and he proclaims loudly that he LIKES being a “chupo chupovee” (which is like… a hairy man of the forest? a yeti? some kind of forest priest? I don’t exactly know) and has told me that he LIKES “being a beast” and having “beast hair” because “I’m like a dinosaur with all my beast hair and this is how I’m like a dinosaur MAMA.” Like, duh, MAMA, don’t you know ANYTHING? And it’s not like I want to buzz his head, I just want to tidy up the back and around his ears. I’m secretly Wolverine’s long lost twin sister, short and hairy, so I know how tedious weekly haircuts can be. But darlings, this is not charming mussy toddler hair. This is an ill kempt pelt on his scalp and something has to change.

IN OTHER NEWS, we’ve been hitting up Wendy’s once a week prior to our grocery shopping trip. They have the BEST toys, stuff that’s not just plastic crap choking up the toybox/landfilf advertising some shitty kid’s movie/tv show/etc. They are currently offering a small Cranium game in 4 parts. The containers for the game fit together and make a multi-colored game, and each hold a different component of the game. We’ve got a word game with letter dice, an art game with clay and a crayon, and an activity game with a spinning top timer. There’s one more to get. Niko and I played with it this morning while Nesko slept in a bit and it was a lot of fun. Some stuff is too advanced for him, but it was easy to skip or modify those activities. Playing board games/game nights are a big part of our social life, so it’s really cool to have interactive kid games that are fun for adults too. Other faves of his are “don’t break the ice” (kind of boring for adults), block head (a stacking game that’s short and pretty fun), and topple (which he calls “topples” and which we don’t follow the rules for, we just goof around). While we were playing I used the little purple crayon to draw Niko’s face and shoulders on the big piece of paper we were using. He knew right away it was meant to be him, which would be really ego-stroking except like most 4 year olds he thinks he’s the center of the universe and thus all drawings are somehow of him or related to him. He requested I draw a troodon “biting on my head and eating my head and my hair” and I did so, drawing a cartoonish troodon attacking and biting his head and he cooed and awwwed the entire time commenting on how cute it all was. Because obvos dinosaurs taking big bites out of your skull is just ADORBS, am I right? BRB contacting Cute Overload.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

“Niko, did you finish your apple? Go take your plate to tata if you want bacon.”
“NO! I do NOT want… oooh! Yeah! I DO want bacon!”

“Mama, is this dinosaur a plant eater, or a meat eater?”
“Well, it’s got forward facing eyes and big sharp teeth. It looks like a meat eater.”
“No, I think it’s a plant eater.”
“But look, it’s a therapod. It’s got two feet with three toes on it, and a long tail for balance, and–”
“WELL MAMA, next time Elliot comes over I will ask HIM if it’s a plant eater or a meat eater.”
“And will you believe what he says?”
“I will if he says it’s a plant eater.”

“Ahhhh! Ahhh! Ahh! The living room is fulllll of dinosaur zombies!”
“Oh, huh.”
“DO YOU KNOW HOWWWWW to stop dinosaur zombies?”
“Do you…. I don’t know. How do you stop dinosaur zombies?”
“WITH FLOWER GUNS! pew pew pew pew pew.”

“I wanna watch that train show with that fox and that hound.”
“Oh… do you mean “The Fox And The Hound”?”
“Yes, it’s got a train in it.”

“Niko, no puppet show in the kitchen. No toys in the kitchen. You need to take that puppet show out of here.”
“TOO BAD it’s stuck to the floor TOO BAD I can’t move it OH WELL TOO BAD.”

“Hey, do you want to watch ‘Word World’?”
“Yes! They make words on that show, that word world show. Do they make the word dinosaur?”
“I don’t think so, that’s kind of a big word and they mostly spell little words.”
“What about Stegosaurus? That’s my favorite word.”
“Why is that your favorite word?”
“Because of all the S’es.”

We are ONCE AGAIN trying to transition Niko to sleep in his own little bed and not in our bed, kicking and punching us all night. The night before last he was up literally every hour, yowling and crying, resulting in three very tired people the next day. I had a headache LITERALLY ALL DAY from lack of sleep. Nesko slept in until almost 11:00, scuttling our plans to run errands in the morning. Niko was lobbying hard to go to the park that day and I told him that we’d planned to take him to the park in the morning but we were too tired to go because he’d kept us up all night. TOO BAD. He asked several times and I told him the same thing each time. Why can’t we go to the park? Why can’t we go outside? Why can’t tata play with him? Because he’s sleeping, because he’s tired, because he was up all night because Niko was being mean and unkind and not being quiet and not letting us sleep.

Last night went much better. He did wake us up with his crying once, but I think it was a legit nightmare. Nesko settled him and came back to bed. We both went to bed around 10:30 (although I had a hard time falling asleep) and woke up around 8:00 and my mood and energy levels are both vastly improved. I’ve still got a sleep deficit but am feeling a lot better. Niko and I had a talk today about his future allowance.

Basically, he gets 10 cents for each night he sleeps through the night without being a dick and if he makes it for a full week he gets an additional 30 cents, which makes a dollar. Also, if he helps us pick up all his toys and books before going to bed he gets 10 cents with a 30 cent bonus if he does it every night for a full week. This is another dollar. So he’s got the potential to earn $2.00 a week just by being a decent person and not an asshole. He wants to buy some more trans, so he’s got a goal to work toward. I’m going to make a chart so he can see how well he’s doing, including showing how well he’s working toward his goal. The train he wants costs $10.95 and I figure Nesko and I can handle the tax since he’s so young. When he’s 6 or so he can start figuring that out and accounting for it himself.

I know some people will object to “bribing” him for basic good behavior, but honestly, I want him in the habit of doing these things and I want to give him an allowance any way. Some people push for giving kids a base allowance that’s not dependent on behavior or chores. I think most people just do what their parents did, but neither Nesko nor I got an allowance so we don’t have that to fall back on.

How do you handle allowance in your household? Was it an easy decision, or hard? Is it what your parents did, or different? Is it dependent on chores, or not? What’s your pay scale? I’d love to hear more.

BTW, I wrote a post about diets, body size, and taking photos of yourself at my main blog. Please feel free to check it out.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko is super super SUPER obsessed with Dinosaurs right now and his driving goal is to get out to the Field Museum to see Sue, but it’s hella expensive and they don’t have a parking garage and it’d take us like 90+ minutes to take the train and bus out there, so we’re forcing him to wait until it’s warmer like the huge cruel abusive jackasses we are. THE HORROR. He’s been watching a lot of “Walking With Dinosaurs” which I’m not entirely sure is appropriate for him (there’s a lot of babies getting eaten on that show) but one upside is that the narrator is Kenneth Branagh and Niko has started narrating his play in Branagh’s voice. Some day when he’s an actor famous for his melodious voice, I’ll be there to take all credit. Yes, yes. He learned it from the teevee.

I was putzing around the kitchen the other day when Nesko walked into the living room and saw something he thought was ADORABLE. All of Niko’s dinosaur toys were lying on the floor on their sides, their heads gently resting on wooden blocks.

“Aww, Niko, are your dinosaurs asleep?”

“Yes, they are. I tucked them all in and read them two stories.”

“And their heads are on their pillows?”

“NO, tata, dinosaurs don’t HAVE pillows.”

“Oh, but they could use nice soft leaves and grasses.”

“No, they are using meat.”

“They… are using meat… for their pillows?”

“Yes.”

“That’s… pretty disgusting.”

“I know. But dinosaurs are pretty disgusting a lot of the time.”

Later he arranged all his dinosaurs in a conga line.

One of his favorite games to play with me is where I’m a Stegosaurus and he’s an Allosaurus and I’m eating ferns and he tries to menace me and I swing my “spiny tail” (my leg) at him to keep him away. He hops around growling for ten or fifteen minutes until he gets bored, and then he climbs on my back. YOU SEE, I am a mama stegosaurus motorcycle and he has to ride me. BRRM BRRRMMMM.

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Bedtime Questions

Wednesday, 13 March 2013 16:17
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We have a pretty simple bedtime routine. Around 7:00-7:30 (ideally, sometimes later) Nesko or I start herding Niko toward the back of the apartment. After brushing teeth, he gets his night time medication and then he changes into pyjamas OR opts to sleep in his clothing (a battle I am willing to surrender, who gives a fuck, seriously) and we make sure he has his lovey du jour and his water. Then he selects two stories and whoever’s putting him down cuddles up with him and reads two stories and then, if I’m the bed time parent, I sing him a special song which is as follows, sung to the tune of “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady:”

Nikola my Nikola, oh my sweet Nikola
Oh, my pretty baby.
Nikola oh Nikola, my funny Nikola,
joking, laughing baby.
Nikola my Nikola
arms and legs Nikola
growing bigger baby.
Nikola oh Nikola
I love you Nikola
Because you are my baby.
Na na na nana na
Na na na nana na
Na na nana nana
Na na na nana na
Na na na nana na
Na na nana nana

Sometimes I also sing him “twinkle twinkle little star” or “london bridge” or “wild rover” or “lord randall” or “greensleeves” or “crazy train” or something. Lately he’s been requesting “peanut butter jelly time.” WHATEVER, CHILD.

Then it’s snuggles time. Nesko usually falls asleep because he is a HUGE JERK who I am HUGELY JEALOUS OF, who can fall asleep pretty much anywhere in about five minutes LIKE A JERK. I, on the other hand, am very good friends with Insomnia. We play cards together nightly. Anyway, sometimes, to help Niko wind down, I ask him little questions like “what are 3 fun things that happened today” and “where are 3 places you’d like to go” and “if you could swap your tata for anything, what would it be?” (answer: a big fluffy bed. LOL WHAT.) (he would swap me for a pillow.) (he would swap baba for a big giant dump truck.) And we generally talk about his day, his week, what’s going on, etc.

Sometimes, while reading or afterwards, he asks ME questions.

The other night, we were reading “The Runaway Bunny” and he asked me a very important question.

Why Is Her Butt In A Pot?

“Mama,” he asked, “why is her butt in a pot?”

I started laughing, because seriously. That is a funny question and it tickled me that all these years we’d been reading the book he’d just assumed that the mother bunny was sitting in a pot or something in the middle of the river. I explained to him about really tall boots but I don’t think he believes me. In his personal head canon, that rabbit’s just fishing while sitting in a pot.

Insert pot to piss in joke here, I guess.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko bounced into our bedroom this morning, bright and early.

I’m awake! It’s time to be awake now! The sun is shining! The birds are singing! It’s time for every body to be awake! All the adults have to be awake and get up and get all the way out of bed!

And then he climbed around us pulling off blankets and turning on the light.

How did I give birth to a morning person? HOW?

It’s especially tough for me right now because I am in the middle of a shitty cold and was up until about 3:00 am coughing (which means, of course, I also kept waking Nesko up, but that fucker falls asleep in about five minutes LIKE A JERK so he always gets way more sleep than me) so I was tired. Tiiiiiiired. So tired I couldn’t say tired and could only say tarrrrrhd. As I lay like a lump in bed, I was vaguely aware that Niko didn’t sound great. Cheerful, yes. He sounded cheerful. And excruciatingly awake. But he also sounded stuffy.

“You sound congested,” said Nesko.

“Thanks!” said Niko.

I’ve been stuffing him full of vitamin C having things (orange juice, strawberries, red bell peppers, etc) for the past two weeks trying to stave off this cold, but he persists in doing shit like LICKING MY SNOTTY NOSE OH MY GOD WHY WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK etc so I’m not really surprised he sounds like he’s been eating cigarettes. However, I also predict that he’ll be fully recovered in about 3 days, whereas I’ll still be struggling to breathe by this time next month.

I’ve basically been laid up all week doing the most slack ass parenting possible (you want pretzels and gummy worms for lunch? HAVE AT IT) which super sucks because I had Big Plans to do a deep and thorough cleaning of the entire house so that this coming week I’d only have to do light maintenance cleaning in preparation for Niko’s birthday party on Saturday. But whatever I’m sick with is so awful that my joints all hurt. Back? Hurts. Knees? Hurts. Shoulders? Hurt. Neck? Stiff and hurts. Tiny joints in feet and toes? What the hell, why do you hurt? This makes it hard to clean stuff! Also: the vacuum cleaner broke. Uhm. And so did the washing machine.

It’s possible we have somehow angered the gods of domestic cleanliness, I don’t know.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.

William Makepeace Thackery said that but if you’re anything like me you might remember it better from “The Crow.”

Niko is still in that stage where he thinks I know everything and can do everything. If he asks me a question and I don’t have an answer, he thinks I am holding out on him and gets angry at me. I gave him some blueberries and didn’t pluck a dried bit of leaf off one of them, and he was offended. “Why would you even think I like this?” He asks me to draw an Ornitholestes and takes it personally if I draw it “wrong” (holding an egg/not holding an egg/too big/too small/too happy/not happy enough/dancing/not dancing/etc). He had a hilarious looking pratfall the other day out of NOWHERE (usually you know why a kid falls down. They slip on a piece of paper or step on a floppy sock or stumble over a toy or slide on that slippery patch of floor they’d rubbed butter into earlier or something. He just flew right down.) that ended up fairly serious, with a badly bitten lip. He clung to me, sobbing, upset that he was crying so much and unable to stop. Then he blamed me. “You should have SAVED ME. You should have CAUGHT me.” It was my fault he fell, you see. Because I should have intervened. Like lightning. Like god.

I can’t save him. I can’t read his mind and make him happy. I can’t make everything all better. He’s still grappling with the idea of mortality, of death; with the idea that some day he might not have a mama and a tata, that he’ll be alone. I can’t just make that better.

He has nightmares, and night terrors. Maybe this is the side effect of a medication he’s on, or maybe it’s just his age or his relation to me (I get nightmares frequently, as in several times a week… during times of high stress they can hit every single night multiple times a night. It’s… not restful.) He screams and cries and thrashes and he’s seriously upset, and it just kills me that I can’t make everything right. I hold him, I try to calm him down. One particularly bad one I tried to reassure him that he was in his own little bed and he was safe. “I’m not safe. I’m not! I’m not safe anywhere!” he wailed. It was like a knife through the heart. He didn’t remember it at all the next day.

“Why didn’t you save me? You should have saved me!”

I’m trying, kiddo. I’m trying.

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4 cheeks! CHEEKY!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013 16:57
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I was chasing Niko around his room the other day threatening to pinch his cheeks while he squealed and laughed. He flung himself onto his bed, covering his face with his hands, and I pinched his butt. He protested mightily!

Mama, those are not my cheeks! My cheeks are on my face! THAT IS MY BUTT BUTT.

LOL FOREVER AT BUTTBUTT, which he says solely to make me laugh.

I told him that the two slabs of flesh hanging off his cocyx were called his butt cheeks, and he did not believe me. OBVIOUSLY I was making shit up AGAIN and just calling body parts by random wrong names. I told him he could ask Tata when he was at home the next morning. He did not, however, question my use of the word “banonkers,” a portmanteau of “bananas” and “bonkers” which makes him laugh. Sure enough, he asked his Tata about butt cheeks and Nesko agreed with me and Niko was AMAZED that he has FOUR CHEEKS and I chased him around pinching various cheeks on his body while he laughed and squirmed.

A little bit later I was lying down in bed resting just a bit (I have a cold, it’s settling in my chest, I might cough myself to death). He joined me in there and was walking around on the bed. Then he said:

SOMETIMES my pants fall down…

and I heard a patting sound

And it shows my…

he gave a little bounce and I turned to look at him

BUTT CHEEKS!

He was standing there with his pants pulled down, slapping his ass. He laughed uproariously at the “punchline” (BUTT CHEEKS) and I laughed too because butts are HILARIOUS let’s face it. Then I called him banonkers and he laughed so hard he fell over and I laughed so hard I triggered an asthma attack and ALMOST DIED. AGAIN.

Butt cheeks.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko’s been having a hard time lately.

He’s been really wild and out of control, ignoring us quite a bit, temper tantrumming, insisting on sleeping with us, speaking in a baby voice/refusing to speak and just pointing at things, and having pants accidents. The kid who’s been potty trained for MONTHS is suddenly soiling himself. It was a pretty big, and worrisome, regression. He’s also been refusing to try to do things like look at letters, count, etc. This is the kind of stuff kids do when there’s something huge and new in their lives: when they move, when their parents divorce, when there’s a new baby, when zombies attack, etc. But nothing is going on!

Last night I sat with Niko as he sobbed and cried, after over an hour of walking him (or carrying him) and his pillow back to his own bed. I told him it was time to sleep. His brain needed sleep. His body needed sleep. He sobbed out that he didn’t WANT to grow up.

Well.

Let’s look at that, shall we?

I asked him some more questions. Why doesn’t he want to grow up? Is he afraid of growing up?

He told me that he didn’t want to grow up because that means I’d go away and he doesn’t want me to go away ever and leave him all alone.

Oh, sweet child.

So we cuddled and we talked about growing up and parents and how mamas and tatas always love their kids and we talked about how Nesko and I are still close to our parents. We love them and they love us. He calmed down and fell asleep and slept soundly in his bed all night.

This morning we had another talk about growing up and I reassured him that growing up is a gradual process. You don’t just wake up one day grown up, it takes a long time. We talked about how long it would take. He demanded to know an exact age when one is grown up and I told him 25. I promised him that I would always love him and would always be his mama. He said he didn’t want to have kids instead of a mama. I told him he could have kids AND have a mama, and I would be his kids’ baba, but that he didn’t have to have kids if he didn’t want to. He could choose not to have kids. He said he wanted to choose to have kids and also have a mama. He told me that he wanted to be a mama and have kids.

IF YOU ARE CURIOUS: the difference between a mama and a tata is tatas have DEEP VOICES and mamas have high voices. He demonstrated for me, including doing a pretty spot on impersonation of Nesko.

He’s been a little less clingy so far today, although the day is still young. We’ll see how he does tonight. I’m really tired of him joining us in bed. He pulls my hair and tries to push me out of bed. He jams his feet up under he and scrapes his toenails along my body. I hate it. I HATE IT. So hopefully he’ll sleep in his own little bed tonight.

IRONICALLY a few days ago he got super pissed and fired me, told me I wasn’t his mama anymore and I needed to go away and find a new home because a new mama was coming to our home. I told him I’d wait until his new mama got here. “NO DON’T DO THAT” he said. “YOU WILL BE HERE FOREVER. YOU WILL NEVER GO AWAY.” My firing offense? Not letting him eat candy for breakfast. WORST. MAMA. EVER. Later that day he forgave me and rehired me, though. And, yes, this current behavior regression predates this event.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Lately, I’ve been putting Niko down for a nap– or “a rest”– and he’s been highly resistant and not falling asleep until, like, 4:30. And then I wake him up at 5:00 and he’s groggy and out of it, and acts like a huge jerkass when it’s bed time and frequently doesn’t wind up falling asleep until after 10:00 pm (I like to get him into his jammies, teeth brushed, starting story time, by 7:30) and over two hours of screaming and escape attempts.

Lord.

So today, we’re totally skipping that nap.

Because maybe the inactivity and final late nap are just too much for him, and then he’s not tired at bed time.

And maybe this bedtime will be less horrific and I won’t be tempted to sell my child to wolves. Wolves are good caretakers, right? Nurturing, motivational? Human children wolves raise are well adjusted go-getters, yeah? They found cities and make something of themselves?

IN OTHER NEWS, Niko is playing with his trains and apparently they are full of bees! I DO NOT EVEN KNOW. I have no idea what’s happening here! Whew.

“Mama, this train is going so fast that I took a picture of him running away. And he ran out of bees! See? I took his picture.”

WHAT.

“But I buried him under the mountain before I took his picture. He’s deep in a mound.”

WHAT!!!

We’re going to be using our tax return to do some repair work in the kitchen, do a teensy bit of remodeling, and also to do a bit of work in Niko’s room. Ideally I’d like to gut his room down to the studs and put in new insulation (I don’t think there’s any at all) and new wallboard, but we might not be able to do that. We also want to make a bunch of built in looking (but not actually built in because it’s a very small room and the next people who live here might not want built in) shelves and cabinets to hold his toys and books. Again, might not be able to do that either. BUT!!! We ARE going to paint one of his walls and the inside of his door, at his request. He’s specified red and held tight to that choice for months now, and consistently picks a similar shade of red. I brought home a bunch of red paint samples and he’s settled on Behr S-H-190 “Antique Red.” We have a bunch of glow in the dark stars and some glow in the dark planets that you’re supposed to hang from the ceiling and I tried to talk him into painting the wall dark blue so we can make a night sky with glowing stars but he would have NONE OF THAT. It’s RED OR NOTHING. So I’m considering painting his ceiling (or part of his ceiling?) dark blue and putting planets and stars up there. I don’t know if that would work or if it’d be over whelming, with a dark red wall. Thoughts? Suggestions?

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PUPPIES!!!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013 18:27
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I was reading on the couch when Niko grunted and huffed and carried a big box over toward me. He set it carefully on the floor, draped it with a blanket, and arranged two short pieces of string in an X across the top.

“Mama, mama, do you know what’s in this box?”

“Uh, what?”

“It’s…” he threw off the string and blanket, dashed off the lid, and scooped up a double armful of beanie baby dogs “PUPPIES!!!” and tossed them joyfully in the air. Then he gathered them up and made them swarm all over me, “kissing” me.

Oh, be still my heart.

“The Great Mouse Detective” is vying with “The Aristocats” for ultimately place of love within his heart and he’s proclaimed many times that he wants to be a detective when he grows up and is big. We’ve talked about some of the different mysteries detectives solve, including fighting crime and doing police work, being a private detective, being a historian, being an anthropologist, and being a paleontologist. He’s decided he is going to solve the mystery of how dinosaurs lay their eggs and take care of their babies. Right after he takes his space ship to the alien planet Minnebonie, which is where aliens (also known as “slide bugs”) live. It’s a far away planet that nobody knows about yet and it’s where aliens live. DUH. Also he’s going to visit Mars.

He’s got a busy future ahead of him.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko was running back and forth through the house the other day, screaming and barking, while Nesko and I finished dinner. Then there was a big crash in the living room. We called him in to find out what he’d been doing.

“Well, Delilah–”

I’m going to break in for a moment here and explain something.

Delilah is a stuffed animal.

Delilah is a stuffed dog with curly fur and floppy ears.

“Well, Delilah was chasing me and barking and then I was chasing her and yelling and then she was chasing me and barking and then I was chasing her and yelling and then she ran into the living room and said she was going to dump my balls all over the floor and I said NO DELILAH DON’T DO THAT, THAT’S NAUGHTY and then she dumped all my balls on the floor and I stood there and I said HOLY CRAP–”

We interrupted him at this point, to laugh.

I tried to keep a straight face. I did! I swear. But then I saw Nesko trying to keep a straight face too and I lost it. I kept dissolving into snickers.

“And then I said NO DELILAH THAT WAS NAUGHTY and she chased me into the kitchen and what’s so funny?”

“No, nothing. Nothing’s funny.”

“Is it because I said HOLY CRAP?”

“Noooo… Tata told me a joke and I’m laughing at that.”

He insisted on hearing the joke, Nesko told him a knock knock joke, and then Niko resumed running through the house arguing with Delilah. Yes, arguing. Taking both sides.

Holy crap.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Are you familiar with Candle Cove, that brilliant bit of horror by Kris Straub? It’s a relatively short piece of fiction in the format of an internet forum dedicated to old tv shows. Some users reminisce about a horrific low budget kids show called “Candle Cove” that was pure nightmare fuel in the most literal sense possible. It’s atmospheric and creepy in the best possible way, the unease and horror build slowly.

Skyshale033
Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
Ugh mike, I got a chill reading that. Yes I remember. That’s what the ship always told Percy when there was a spooky place he had to go in, like a cave or a dark room where the treasure was. And the camera would push in on Laughingstock’s face with each pause. YOU HAVE… TO GO… INSIDE. With his two eyes askew and that flopping foam jaw and the fishing line that opened and closed it. Ugh. It just looked so cheap and awful.

You guys remember the villain? He had a face that was just a handlebar mustache above really tall, narrow teeth.

“YOU HAVE… TO GO… INSIDE.”

Niko frequently creeps me out. FOR INSTANCE, there was the time he stared solemnly up at the sky and then told me “there is a storm coming and we will never see the day again” or the time he informed me that he ate the sun and we would thus be in eternal night.

Today he stood in the middle of the living room and intoned in his spookiest voice “YOU HAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE… TO GO… INSIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE” while waving his arms ritually, a blank look on his face. He crawled under the coffee table. “YOU HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE… TO GO… INSIIIIIIIIDE… THE CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE.”

JESUS GOD.

And then he started talking about picking up a cargo load of coal and making chugging and puffing noise because he was a train.

I mean, talk about your Occam’s Razor moments, right? The most obvious solution is the correct one. He’s never heard of Candle Cove, but he HAS read/watched a lot of stories about trains going into dark, spooky caves. Also he seems to delight in fucking with me and being creepy on purpose. <3

I told Nesko about this and he said “Well, we’re going to have to leave the television on AT ALL TIMES NOW so he can’t find any static to watch.”

<3 <3 <3

What’s the creepiest thing YOUR kids do? What have you done that royally creeped out someone else, all unintentionally?

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