Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The Naughty Mommy Chronicles — Part One
We occasionally do things we never think we'll do, depending on circumstances. A couple of years ago, I never thought there'd be a kid in my life, and here I am – with some painful and also beautiful twists and turns — with a kid in my life; so that's a big shift in philosophy for me, itself. Once we committed to parenthood, we certainly discussed ideas, goals, priorities, hopes, and dreams, but never made a list of all the specific items we'd deny my child, or what we, as parents would never do. It never occurred to me, prior to this very active stage of development for Matthew, for instance, that I'd let him eat White Castle cheeseburgers, or play with glass bottles. I'm not confessing to those crimes, necessarily, I'm just saying
I never gave it any thought before circumstances were afoot. I'm just asking that you don't get all high and mighty on me, or worse, call DYFS, because you've probably peed in the shower, or stolen office supplies, or failed to disclose an STD, or kept a book you borrowed from a friend, or seen Kenny Loggins in concert, or SOMETHING you hadn't planned to do until the circumstances were right there.
I was running a fever, and had a throbbing headache, and my hair hurt. But, I decided to do the dishes, even though I would have preferred to go back to bed. Matthew, now almost 11 months, is The Decider of Who Sleeps And Who Does Not And When, and since he was, at that time, fully awake, and chasing the animals in his walker, my not-quite-25 pound master would not permit a nap.
I lamented the pressure in my head, and trudged through the dishes. As I neared completion, I noticed Matthew had almost figured how to escape his walker. This pre-walking stage is terrifying, because it seems like everything is interesting to my kid, and we will never be child-proof enough. And my sinus headache day was a particularly curious day for my boy; he had pushed himself most of the way up and out of his walker, by climbing on the support bar. Matthew likes to climb, and he's fast as hell, too. We are ambivalent about his climbing aptitude, but at the same time, are amazed at his adroitness, and are delighted that he's so alive and healthy. However, he can never, not for a second, be left alone, or he will figure how to climb as high as he can, with what he has in front of him for tools. Sigh. So, Matthew was leaning over the little food tray in his walker, and most of his upper body was in the gigantic bag of Steve's dog biscuits, next to the refrigerator.
I didn't bother drying my hands. I simply separated the boy from the bones. But as I reseated the child, within Matthew's hand was a red dog bone, and he showed it to me with his heart-melting, beaming happy face. He held it up so I could see his handiwork, and said, "ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya!!"
I smiled and congratulated him on his skills, and proceeded to remove the small red bone from his clutch. Whoever implied that it was easy to take candy from a baby was a dope. Taking a dog treat from a baby was no small task, either.
So, like that, Matthew went from sweet, adorable baby to a tyrannical monster. He protested in his strongest terms. I'm not such a pushover that I'd be bothered by my baby's wail over a dog biscuit he should not have, but I'm also not so uptight to be horrified by a baby holding a dog biscuit, either. There are bigger concerns these days. Maybe you're horrified by the baby-with-dog-bone-scene, and that's fine, but that day, as Matthew fought me for control over the natural bacon flavored (but artificially colored) dog biscuit, it felt like a knife entered my eye socket, due to that fever I mentioned earlier. At least it wasn't one of the brown, liver flavored bones.
So, I let him hold on to the dog biscuit. Often Matthew just likes to visually assess what he has in his hands, and I hoped that would be the case.
We walked out back with Steve, and i sat down in my patio chair with Matthew on my lap, while Steve defended the perimeter of our yard from the stray cats, and William, the same neighbor he sees about 18 times a day. The barking rattled my brain, inside my stuffy skull case, and I said, defeatedly, "Steve. Shut up. For the love of God."
Sensing my weakened state, Steve, ever the opportunist, did not immediately shut up. And, alas, after a few minutes, Matthew's assessment of the bone moved on to his mouth.
I pulled the bone away from Matthew's mouth, and again, he voiced his disapproval with all his might. We were outside, mind you, and I am sensitive to the amount of racket my kid makes because a) I don't like to hear other kids bitching and moaning, and b) I don't want people to think I'm abusing my kid.
Matthew shares an unfortunate trait with his father I call, depending on my ability at that particular moment to find sympathy, either "Canadian Rage," or "World of Pain." The fact my kid inherited this does not please me one bit. He has my eyes, fingers, earlobes, and toes, and Glen's mood swings. Seeing this characteristic in his son does not make Glen happy either; no one likes seeing their worst traits in their offspring, right? So, as Matthew freaked the hell out over my attempt to take his bacon flavored Milk Bone, the knife in my eye socket turned. I wasn't up for the fight: the bone WAS edible (and promotes healthy teeth), after all. So, terrible mother that I am, I allowed my boy to gnaw on it.
After a minute, Matthew pulled it away from his 4-toothed piehole, and allowed his bone hand to dangle at his side, where my sometimes-lieutenant, Steve, stepped in and snatched the bone from the baby, and with economy of thought and action, swiftly buried it among my purple coneflowers, which are just spectacular this year, by the way.
Matthew thought the exchange with Steve, and subsequent ritualistic burial, was a total hoot. It's a little known fact that Steve, despite his outgoing nature and seemingly endless optimism, has a dark side. My exuberant, young canine friend likes to prepare for the worst, and as a result, we often find kibble and bones and items the baby has launched off his tray (carrots, and bits of waffles and bread primarily), carefully tucked into the cushions of the chairs and sofas. I now know to look for this, so I can convince Steve, as he's trotting toward the living room with a bit of bagel in his mouth, to live in the moment, and to enjoy the spoils of Baby Cast Off. Periodically, I fail, and discover Steve crunching on a 3-day-old bit o' waffle, or find a bit of crust poking me in the back, when I plop down on the couch. The plus side here is that Steve will not save any meat (save for kibble or dog bones) in his couch-pantry, but the situation is still wrong, at least from where I sit now. I may have a different take on things in another couple of weeks.
Perhaps if the economy tanks and food is rationed, I'll wish we had some shriveled carrots and waffles and Dog Chow to help us through our rainy days. I don't want to seem unappreciative of Steve's Disaster Preparedness, but I check the couch cushions daily now for these treasures because it's a matter of time before Matty finds some day-old kibble and bits and gets pissy with me for taking it away from him.
The sinus infection is gone now, at least, so I'm in good shape to battle a demanding baby, if necessary. And the bag of dog bones, for the record, is now out of reach of my boy.