Preschool, week two

More weepy dropoffs. He wailed and shook his head and reached out for me and called for me. Every time, it feels like pieces of my heart are being scooped out with a melon baller.

BUT! Today I got to do a pickup. My first ever. I walked into the room and all the children were playing quietly, independently. Holden was on the floor, playing with blocks or something in a container. “Hi everyone!” I said, to get his attention since his back was turned to me. He looked up and said, “MAMA!” and then pointed to me and repeated, looking around at all his classmates, making sure they all know that I was his mama. He ran over to me and I scooped him up. He grabbed my face and nuzzled me tight, and kept saying, “That’s mama! That’s my mommy!” My melon ball-pockmarked heart could have exploded.

I had to work a half day to get that thirty seconds but it was so worth it.

School’s in for summer

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It’s hard to believe it but this kiddo starts preschool Monday. We’ve been so fortunate to have been able to have Ray stay home with him until now, but as he picks up more legal gigs, doing the childcare shuffle is becoming increasingly difficult. So it’s a good time. Plus, Holden is probably bored out of his mind at home and could use some stimulation from new scenery, new (read: cooler) toys, new faces, new stuff to learn.

Our school had an open house for parents and children yesterday. It went so well that I am feeling much better about this transition. His teacher seems like a sweetheart and he already has gotten acquainted with the other little boy in his class. (The rest of the class is girls! And none of them were there when we were.) He had a blast playing in the classroom and chucked big plastic balls at everyone’s heads. I hope the teacher has better luck than I’ve had getting him to understand that you can’t do that unless the person is looking at you and obviously ready to catch. He’s fast with his arm. And ruthless. (Come on, boy, remember your dear ol’ mama when you get into the big leagues.)

I was totally taken aback when he picked up a babydoll from the little crib and took it over to the chair and sat down to hold it. So sweet and gentle and loving. He’s not been around babies very much so that was very surprising to me. He’s run through with sweetness, this one.

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Monday morning will be tough, and I’ll probably blubber like an idiot in the car. Possibly in the hallway. But it helps knowing that he’s in good hands and that he’s going to have a great time once the tears dry.

As a mother of a boy, I remain terrified

Another tragedy, a massacre orchestrated by a young man who felt entitled and spurned. Another young man who thought women owed him their affection and their bodies by virtue of his wanting them, and who, by ignoring him, earned violence.

He was broken. I don’t know what broke him or when, but it was a snap loud enough to have repercussions far enough outside his sphere of existence that I am now writing about him, an entire country away.

There is a little boy in my care and it is my job to teach him how to live in this world. No small feat, considering I barely have a handle on that myself. It’s on me to teach him to respect boundaries, to understand that nothing is owed him, and that women are not a reward or something he is entitled to. That he is not merely an animal who cannot rise above his hormonal instincts and base impulses. That he cannot lash out and hurt just because he is hurting.

That last one is important because it is something I haven’t mastered in my thirty-two years on this big blue rock. The difference being, of course, that there is a canyon between lashing out with passive-aggressive verbal barbs and lashing out with bullets. A canyon, right? But the two actions arise from the same stupid little neuron firing, don’t they?

I wrote after Newtown about how terrifying it is to be the mother of a boy. To know that he might carry within him this need to lash out violently and take as many as he can down with him in a spectacular display of self-destruction. Or, more likely, that I will not be able to develop in him a full understanding of what it means that women have agency, that they are not merely receptacles for your hopes or dreams or pride or scorn or spit or sperm. So many seem to struggle with this concept. The whole world over, this is still up for debate. For all our progress, we’ve gone nowhere.

This YesAllWomen thing is interesting and feels necessary in the face of this insanity, but I find it exhausting and depressing. I guess that’s the point. The state of being female in this world is pretty exhausting and depressing, when looked at objectively. Somewhere out there right now someone is grumbling while reading that sentence and saying, “Sure, whatever — the state of being human in this world is pretty exhausting and depressing.” Without a hint of irony.

I remain at a loss.

This year, I did Mother’s Day wrong

I was settling in for a long-overdue nap when I got a text from a second team member calling out. I was unable to coax anyone into coming in for an OT shift so I got in the shower and went into the office myself. Then I got some news about the house in Memphis needing a major repair, for which I do not have the funds, so I contacted my mom to ask to borrow money.

So, in conclusion:

Next Mother’s Day, my goal is to not abandon my child to go to the office and to not call my mom and ask for money.

2.5

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Our sweet man,

How do we catch up?

You are two and a half years old now. You’ve dug in to the Terrible Twos lately in that you Just Cannot Handle It if your will is defied sometimes. You get really, really upset if we try to make you use the potty and you’re not in the mood or if we try to make you come inside or get in the car if you’re not ready. Cue meltdown. You really have taken to being a drama queen when the occasion arises.

And yet! You are such a sweet boy. You wake up happy every day and you want a cup of milk and a banana. Every morning. You want to sit on the couch with me and watch your Elmo potty DVD while I have my arm around you, holding your belly. If my hand is not on your belly, you will put it there. Grammy says you do this to her too. You love being held with a hand on your belly, and you a very good snuggler.

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You’re learning so much these days! We have so much fun talking about what the different animals say. Your favorite animal noise is “mooo” but you do adore a good bird tweet too. The kitties don’t live here anymore but you still ask about them and meow quite a bit. Your pig oink is hilarious. Some day I hope to sneak a video of it.

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You’re counting — you can make it to 10 on your own and even further if we count with you. You can identify some numbers on sight, which is CRAZY since we didn’t teach you how numbers look! (I have to credit this to Sesame Street, seriously.) Grammy had you out on the porch one day and she pointed to the house numbers and you told her what all four of them were! We were all so shocked and bewildered by that, but mostly impressed.

We’re working on our colors, too, and the alphabet. You love to sing the alphabet song followed by “Twinkle Twinkle,”which I catch you humming throughout the day.

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The past few months you’ve made big friends with your cousins Shannon and Levi. You see Levi every few weeks and you ask about him when you see his picture on the fridge. You guys get along like gangbusters, except when you have sharing issues.

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We’ve been trying to puzzle out this long-standing nighttime cough you’ve had for months. We think it’s probably allergies, and we’ve tried several remedies. Lately you’ve been better so maybe we have it figured out. Still, I hope you grow out of whatever is giving you trouble now. An allergy test showed you’re allergic to dogs, cats, mold, pollen, trees and grass. So … the world is going to be tough on you, kiddo.

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You are still very much into balls — footballs, tennis balls, basketballs, soccer balls. You like to talk about the moon (and when it might be up in the sky), and big trucks, big cars, and big planes flying overhead. Helium balloons make you BATSHIT CRAZY. You love being outside. You went through a shy spell but lately you’ve been delighting in other people. Just today you were swinging at the park and cracking up every time some other kid came to swing beside you. That is so fun to watch.

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You like to make us laugh and surprise us. You love to jump on the bed and turn flips. You love your Glowworm, which you call your “Woo woo.”

We found out recently that you were accepted to pre-school! That starts next month. We are so nervous and excited for you. You had to do a one-hour evaluation in a classroom and you were very reserved. I’m sure when you spend some time at school you’ll love it. There’s so much more to do there, and so much to learn. You’re going to make friends and really be a big boy, going to school every day. I almost can’t believe it.

Lunchtime selfie party Sad day. Taking the kitties to live with my parents. Holden's allergy test showed us they can't live with us anymore. Bummed. This guy is enjoying the V-Day balloon more than anything has ever been enjoyed before.

A little Saturday afternoon Egg huntin’

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We had our first proper egg hunt last weekend at Mom and Dad’s. Evan had a bunch of eggs — including some cruel camouflage ones! — and threw them out in the yard and Levi and Holden went for them. Levi had done an egg hunt before so he kind of had the idea but Holden wasn’t sure of the point until a few eggs in. He found an egg with a dollar in it and pitched it to the ground but pocketed the egg. My child, the hippie?

It was really fun and sweet to watch, but the best part is watching Holden and Levi play. There are times when they don’t share very well and they can get annoyed with each other, but for the most part they delight in each other and that is so great to watch.

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Sleep cry

It is early in the morning, the wee hours, and he is crying. It’s sudden, and so rare that it shocks us, this sound coming across the monitor. It’s a pitiful cry, a whimper and a wail. I sit up, my bones cracking, and stumble out of the bedroom and up the stairs to him. He is asleep but crying, and I imagine he’s been overtaken by sadness or worry in a bad dream. I reach into his crib and pat his back gently; sometimes my touch alone soothes him out of these rare spells. But he’s wailing now, eyes still closed, warm red cheek pressed against the sheets. I pick him up and without waking fully, he clings to me, arms tight around my neck and legs wrapped around my belly. It’s the most sincere hug I may have ever experienced. I sway back and forth, shushing him, rubbing his back, as his wails turn to sighs and then just soft breaths. He breathes me in, his nose in the crook of my neck just so that my hair grazes his own. We stand there, swaying, holding each other for five or so minutes, and I speak softly to him and tell him it’s okay, that mama is here and will always be here and he will be fine. He believes me, and when I lay him back down and stroke his face and tell him to go back to sleep, he does so without so much as a second thought.

It’s a tiny triumph, but the kind that sticks.

We have a 2-year-old!

This post is a month overdue, but that is what happens when you have a toddler. Madness and time travel.

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On Nov. 5, Holden turned two. His language skills are taking off like a weird little rocket, just zooming up and up each day. And even though half the time we are totally bewildered by what he is trying very emphatically to tell us, the other half of the time he’s being so suddenly crystal clear that it’s shocking.

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He will ask, “What is that?!” and wants us to name everything again and again, so he can commit it to memory. We play this game many times a day, pointing out our surroundings and body parts. He can repeat back a few things but he can point out damn near anything you can think of. He loves to show his belly. When I show him mine, he loves to cover it back up. Smart boy.

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He likes to call for things. His daddy, the kitty, his cup of milk if he can’t find it.

He has finally started saying “bye bye” when we leave, and he’s starting to purposefully say “mama” now. Not sure why he never picked up on those two phrases earlier, but it’s fun to hear them now.

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He loves books. So much. He will sit quietly and page through them, or bring one over and crawl up in my lap so that I will read to him. In particular he loves his Bill Cosby Little Detective book about the farmer’s market (because we pick out and name all the food) and his Grover book about animals (because we pick out and name all the animals).

Back in September, he took his first real extended overnight roadtrip, and was a real trooper, even though he’d been sick with some mystery virus. We had a great time exploring Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, and spent a long day at Dollywood, during which he was SO GOOD. He liked riding rides and watching people. We let him feed the ducks and he snuck some duck food but didn’t care for the taste too much.

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Holden had his first real Halloween this year, too. We didn’t really do much last year since he wasn’t walking yet, but this year we dressed him up as a lion and went out on the town. The weather was weird on Halloween night so we didn’t realize until several houses in that the Sylvan Park streets we were cruising (to stay close to my work, since I was still on the clock) had actually postponed their Halloween festivities until the following night. Ooops. So we took our five pieces of candy and headed to the Green Hills mall, where everyone else had apparently gone an hour earlier. We saw lots of kids in costume but it was sort of petering out by then. Our little lion enjoyed the people watching, and his first taste of Twix.

Inaugural trick-or-treating outing resulted in five or so houses visited before we realized Sylvan Park had postponed their fun until tomorrow. Then a trip to the mall, where the stores had run out of candy. Still, this guy was a trooper. Turnip Truckin'

One of Holden’s favorite things to do is hide and jump out to spook people, particularly his daddy. In the morning, we will be playing in the living room and he will hear his daddy stir in the bedroom or bathroom, and he’ll get this wide-eyed look and come running to me and begging to hide under a blanket or behind a pillow. Then, when his daddy walks into the room, he will pop out and we’ll yell, “SURPRISE!” Daddy plays along every time.

Another favorite thing is counting. We can go to five, although “four” and “five” sound a lot like “one” and “two.” Still, this guy gets really excited when he counts all five fingers.

And he loves to flip the light switches to turn the lights off and on.

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He weighs in at 24 pounds and is in the upper percentiles for height, so still long and lean. He’s got super strange taste in food, and really loves nuts and seeds and baked/dried veggies (peas and green beans mostly) more than anything. Not a big fan of meat in general unless it’s bacon or pureed and snuck into some vegetables. Can’t get enough of those fruit pouch things. Loves milk, water and juice.

This child loves pomegranate jewels and hates bubble baths.

Papertowelball from Lindsey Turner on Vimeo.

A few months ago he invented a game we call papertowelball. At first we tried to get him to stop throwing the ball up on the counter, but we realized he was trying to hit the paper towels. And a game was born. So we bought him a proper basketball goal, but he still preferred the paper towels, so we ended up having to hide them (since one of the downsides of papertowelball is that the ball will constantly get stuck up there or accidentally — or not so accidentally — get thrown into the sink). He is taking to his basketball goal pretty well and I hope to have him on Leno within six months.

He’s had a couple of pretty epic tantrums that have tested my patience (and I failed) but for the most part, when he’s feeling well, this guy is a lot of fun to be around. He likes to wrestle and play pretty rough, and he has a wacky sense of humor. He’s very sweet, though, and gives good hugs and kisses, and has the best laugh. We are having quite the adventure.