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

I watch the Fox sitcom “Raising Hope”, although I’m not sure if I actually like it or not (there’s some funny bits, there’s some problematic stuff, does it balance out? Dunno yet.). In the Halloween episode, the grand dad reveals just how far he went when the main character (Jimmy) was a kid/young adult in order to get the type of strong, warm hugs Jimmy used to hand out. It was kind of a typical over the top, sort of schmaltzy, sitcom moment.

Except, seriously, Niko gives out the best hugs. He just comes running up and flings his arms wide and hugs tight and sometimes gives his goofy little dry “MWAH!” kisses (which sometimes, you know, just hit air or your arm or your hair or something and not your cheek, because apparently it’s the action of the kiss and the noise of the kiss that matters and not, like, actually making contact) and they make everything right with the world.

I read about some toddlers who stop giving hugs and I’m all NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO at the thought of not getting another big Niko hug complete with big sunny smile. It’s a little bit heart breaking.

His hugs almost make up for the nights he spends drumming his heels against my head.


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

We are still having nap/sleeping problems with Niko, problems that might well be sorted out if we can get a twin sized bed for him in his room etc etc etc let me beat this dead horse some more. I don’t think he’s feeling at the top of his game right now (he had a bit of a growth spurt and a recent flu shot) so he’s been extra clingy when it comes to sleep times.

Nap today was terrible. He was falling down tired, yet kept literally running away from the bed. Then he’d approach the bed as I lay in it, lean against the bed, drape his arms, chest, and head on the mattress, and doze off. Then he’d wake up if I touch him and run away from the bed again. At one point he was sitting on the bed while I sang to him, and he listed to one side, fell asleep, and toppled over gently. He woke up upon hitting the mattress, scrambled out of bed, and scampered over to the door.

I continued laying in bed, feigning sleep, just kind of chillaxing. He edged toward the bed, clambered in… and then climbed up me and draped himself over me. He scaled Mt Mama, and lay atop me. Then he fell asleep. On top of me. I am not a small person. Well. I’m a short person. I am also a fat person. And today I felt like The Mountain That Sleeps.

It was kind of cosy having Niko on top of me. He eventually slipped off and settled on the mattress, still sleeping. Him falling off of me did not wake himself up; any movement I made, however, did. I wound up sleeping and having weird, confusing dreams for almost four hours.

I woke up when Nesko came home. Niko woke up too, but I think he could have slept for another hour or so.

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Saturday, 6 November 2010 11:52
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko is slightly more outgoingly wordy than most kids his age, apparently, because people who have kids/are around kids who encounter him are surprised at his age and/or how much noise he makes and how much of his noise is recognizable as words. However, most of his communication is done in single words (not phrases), or gestures. I’m starting to regret not trying harder to teach him sign language, but we get by.

One of the things he does to let us know that he’s hungry is he’ll grab our board book “Good Night Moon,” and he’ll bring it to one of us. As we read it, he consistently points to the Bowl Full Of Mush and says “mmmm.” point, point, mmm. MMMMMM. mnyom nyom. MMMM. mmm. point. point point. MMMMMMM.

We get by.

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

Niko has pretty much always loved music, but he’s gone from a passive consumer to a dancing consumer to a producer of music. That’s right, he’s started humming– both to amuse himself and also, apparently, to request that we sing specific songs. But sometimes he hums and we think he’s requesting a sing along and start singing, and he shakes his head and says “neh… neh! neh.” and gives us a sad little smile like we’re just the dumbest fucks who ever rolled off a turnip truck. And then he goes back to singing for himself.

His favorite songs to hum are “Twinkle Twinkle/Baa Baa Black Sheep/the Alphabet Song” (and he sometimes requests the latter by singing “ah beh seh deh ma ma ma!”), “London Bridge,” “Hush Little Baby,” and a song I made up and that nobody else sings for him, which touches my curdled little soul deeply.

He also applauds wildly and says “yay!” when people finish singing something. Dawwwww.

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

There was some mix-up with scheduling appointments, so Niko’s designated check ups (12 month, 15 month, 18 month) were a little jumbled. We went to his 18 month checkup today (he’s 19 months old, that’s not too far off) only to find that he was up to date with his vaccines. Because I am the meanest person to ever have a child, he got a flu shot anyway. BWA HA HA.

He’s 33 inches tall and 28 lbs 11 oz, which surprised me because I thought he was 30 pounds by now. He’s in the 50th-75th percentile for height and weight, though, and is still tiny headed (48 cm) but it’s growing as it should.

His next check up is in March, where he’ll get his second dose of Hep A and, I believe, a TB test which is pretty important because we live in an area that has live TB.

The visit ran through what would have been the start of Niko’s nap time. While waiting for the nurse to come in and jab him, he stretched out and lay down on the exam table and looked pitiful and sleepy.

Note to self: Niko needs a second flu vax in 1 month. Bring toy cars for him to hold on to. That might help distract him.

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

Niko and I took the bus to the play ground that’s behind the building we lived in before this one, out in Edgewater. We had about half an hour to kill before the library opened, the bus that goes there was ready and waiting, off we went. Niko had a good time and climbed the big kid slides and slid down them (sometimes face first, which he’d never done before, thanks older kid for showing him that) and climbed them and slid down them etc. He started off nervous and hesitant but was soon confidant in his ability to CLIMB HIGHER THAN MY HEAD OH MY GOD I WAS SO NERVOUS and slide down down down safely. He had a good time, but when he started lying down and saying “shh” I figured it was time to go home and take a nap.

So we walked back to the bus, which we almost missed but the driver saw me waving and stopped driving and I muscled the stroller allllll the way up onto the bus because while he was willing to stop the bus he wasn’t willing to kneel the bus to make life easier so whatever. The bus was pretty empty, so I steered Niko and his stroller over to some empty forward-facing seats at the edge of the seats for persons with disabilities. A woman sitting on the inward seats directed me to pull up some of the disability sits so I could get “his cart” out of the aisle. Then she proceeded to scream at the people sitting in those seats to get up faster, one of whom snapped at her because she was, duh, disabled and cannot move fast. It is not possible for her to move fast. That is why she sits at the front of the bus, because she has mobility issues. I tried to explain that, no, I didn’t need any seats folded up, I was going to sit right here in vacant seats, look, I’m getting in the seat right now and the original woman yelled at me that I needed to get Niko’s “cart” out of the aisle.

His stroller is an umbrella stroller. It folds up. I slung him onto the seat, sat down, folded the stroller, got us all stowed away. It took less than a minute and would have taken even less time if I wasn’t trying to talk to a screaming person at the same time.

Nikow was crying as we boarded the bus and headed towards the seats because 1) it was past his nap time 2) I’d just taken him from the most fun place EVER (giant slides! bouncy ground! did I mention the slides?) like a huge and unreasonable asshole 3) some stranger was yelling. I picked him up and gave him a cuddle and got him settled a little more comfortably and she… yelled at me! For tending to my crying child!

Apparently, when children cry, you must ignore them. Because they learn that if they act obnoxious you’ll pay attention to them, and keep crying/screaming/whatever. And I, obviously, was too stupid to know when to pay attention to my child and when to ignore his petty demands for attention. He quieted down really quickly and sat calmly, because he is in general a very chill toddler. But that did not stop her from going on a diatribe about spoiled children and how children need to be treated harshly and not spoiled and OH MY GOD LOOK I KNOW HOW TO TAKE CARE OF MY CHILD OK?

Niko totally makes “I’m a huge asshole! Pay attention to me NOW!” noises, usually when I’m doing the dishes or something, where he’ll just stand there and look at me and whine/wail atonally. EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNN he says. EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN. It’s because he! wants! attention! noooowwwwwwwww! And graham crackers. Or goldfish. But mostly? Attention. And if I don’t want my kitchen to smell like somebody’s rotting ass, I need to stay on top of the dishes, which toddlers don’t understand because the world basically revolves around them which makes doing things like washing dishes or doing laundry or pooping extra challenging. But he also makes noises that mean “I’m scared!” or “I’m tired!” or “why is this woman screaming at people? wth? Is she screaming at me? Did I do something wrong?” or “my finger is stuck and it hurts please help me” or whatever. He doesn’t really have words and when he’s upset he forgets the words he does have, which is normal for his age. Sometimes, he needs my attention.

And it is super not helpful to have a stranger (or, hell, someone I know) lecture me on how to parent when I’m actually doing a good job and have a calm, chill toddler who needed some attention and got it and now he’s on the look out for dogs and balls and other things he enjoys.

For some unaccountable reason, there are people convinced that it is feminists who are anti-children and are all judgmental and slap down parents (where “parent” is “female parent” aka “mom”) who take their children out in public. In reality, it is judgmental assholes who are quick to yell insults about ones’ parenting, refuse basic courtesies like kneeling a bus so a lone parent can wrestle a toddler in a stroller aboard, etc. I guess if one sees “feminists” as the enemy (so shrill! so hairy legged! so humorless! so manhating!) it’s easy to ascribe all sins to them instead of recognizing that the world we live in is pretty shitty toward women in general and women with kids in particular. It’s like certain people see a woman with a child or children and they slap on their judging hats and go to town, and let me tell you internets, THAT IS NOT FUN TO DEAL WITH. And, perhaps the worst part, is that for a moment I forgot about all the totally awesome people who helped me with opening doors all day (because Chicago is NOT an accessible city, let me tell you, even at polling places which are supposed to be accessible) and waited for me and smiled at Niko. All the totally great and awesome reactions and extra help and moments of human kindness I’d gotten over the past 19 months were, for a brief moment, obliterated by one jackass who felt I needed to hear how crap I was as a parent. Which, ok, I really don’t need to hear that I TELL MYSELF THAT ENOUGH THANK YOU SHUT UP BRAIN.

The next time you’re out and about and you see a parent with a child or children, please smile at them. If they need a hand and you can help, please do. Be nice. Parents, especially female parents, really get treated like crap a lot in public and a little kindness really does go a long way. Now that I’m home again and have some space between me and that person, I’m able to weigh our experiences on a balance. And there are way more positive public experiences than negative, and I’m very grateful for that. But the negative experiences tend to be much more memorable because they are louder, more hate (or spite) filled, and more barbed.

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

Niko has a dancer in him. It’s probably a tiny dancer, as he’s fairly tiny himself. But it’s in him, and tries to bust out at every opportunity. He loves music and sings along to songs he’s familiar with (mostly “London Bridge” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep/Twinkle Twinkle Little Star/The Alphabet Song” and a few I’ve made up) and oh, he loves to dance.

One of his favorite songs to dance to is “What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor” (which I sometimes sing as “What do you do with a cranky baby” when warranted). I start singing it and he starts dancing and jumping and running in circles. Which is utterly hilarious. UTTERLY.

From 2010-10-08
From 2010-10-08

And here he is saying “shhh.”

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Thursday, 21 October 2010 07:59
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We were at Toys “R” Us the other day (and can I just say that after literally YEARS of seeing an online friend refer to “tru” and “bru” in her bog and assuming they were, like, special Florida stores (she lives in Florida) that we don’t have up here, I finally realized that “tru” is “Toys ‘R’ Us” and “bru” is “Babies ‘R’ Us.” I’m pretty quick, huh?) and Niko cringed— cringed– from a toy dinosaur. Like, pulled his hands up against his chest, made a Very Worried Face, and tilted his entire body as far away from it as he could. Then he made a small worried noise. He started crying when Nesko picked the dinosaur up and held it close to him. He repeated this cringing every time we came close to a dinosaur or lizard toy or picture.

We were reading I Love You Stinky Face (and this is apparently part of a series? Neat! Did not know that.) which is one of Niko’s favorite books, and when we got to the part where the “Terrible Meat Eating Dinosaur” appears, Niko made a distressed noise and cringed away from the book.


We decided to try and desensitize him to his fear, which involved demonstrating touching the dinosaur in the book and seeing that it didn’t hurt him to touch it, reading that book a lot, buying him (on sale or from thrift stores) clothing with dinosaurs/alligators/lizards/etc on it, buying him a book about dinosaurs (and oh, I hunted for WEEKS for the right book…My First Dinosaur Board Book fit the bill nicely), and obtaining a plastic T-Rex that walks when you wind it up. We sometimes watch (ugh) Dinosaur Train. One of Nesko’s Co-Workers loaned him a Disney movie about Dinosaurs (called, aptly enough, “Dinosaur”) and we watched it together.

We encouraged him to be close to these items, touch them, etc. For a while, he would pat the Terrible Meat Eating Dinosaur every time we read “Stinky Face.” We’d wind up the T-Rex and he’d watch wide-eyed, running away a few paces if it came close to him or was pointed in his general direction and putting toys/blocks/cars in its way.

And now he’s totally over his fear of dinosaurs, it seems. He runs around with the T-Rex, tries to wind it up, carries it in his hands and kisses it and pats its head. He likes reading the dinosaur book and points out mouths and eyes and other things he’s interested in.

My fear, now, is that he will develop a terrible fear of puppies or chocolate or something next. OH NO MAMA I MUST EAT THIS ENTIRE PACKAGE OF ROLLOS TO OVERCOME MY FEAR OF CHOCOLATE AND THINGS THAT TASTE GOOD. A friend of mine has started claiming that she’s extremely afraid of money and I need to help her work through this.

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

Argh, it’s been like a month between updates here. I am the worst blogger ever. Seriously.

I have some video and photos to upload but don’t feel like mucking about with it right now.

We bought a Step 2 brand plastic slide at Unique Thrift Store for Niko. It only cost $5.99 and half an hour of scrubbing spider sacks off of it. Niko is nuts for it. He tried climbing up the slide first, then he found the steps and started climbing up them the way he does stairs– using his knees for leverage. He figured out how to climb them like a ladder (ie, using his feet and not his knees) in no time. His first few dozen trips down the slide were hilarious because he’d go zooming down, land on his bottom, wallow around a bit laughing, then scamper over to do it all again. I almost fell over myself laughing so hard. Yes, I laugh when my child falls over. I am terrible. We have some video of this, most of it soundless because my camera is fairly awful.

In other Niko News, he would like you all to know that the cabinet doors and drawers in the kitchen no longer open easily. It’s like there’s some kind of force or something preventing him from opening them and rifling through the contents. Nesko and I don’t seem terribly concerned about this– we are fools, after all– and he’s hoping perhaps one of you could rectify the situation so he can get back to strewing mixing bowls, my 50 year old wire pastry blender, the timer, and our spoons all over the floor again. I mean, that’s where they all belong, right?

I was lying down with him tonight– why yes! He does still only fall asleep if he’s 1) in his car seat or 2) in someone’s arms!– and after a long period of silence he suddenly got chatty. “Shh. Shh.” I said to him. He repeated everything he’d just said in a whisper.

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