Have a glass of wine and STFU

Somehow I completely missed the chatter, nay the outrage, the overblown sanctimomminess on this issue over the last few days. A glass of wine on a playdate is a sign of overstressed women who need healthier outlets? Are you out of your freaking minds? A three-cosmo playdate is a problem, yes, but heck, medicated playdates have been going on for generations. Didn't it used to be doctor-proscribed (some more valium, Mrs. Stepford)? But a glass of wine? Methinks that Melissa and Alice and Liz and the rest of blogland are right, this is about how much we as a culture distrust women, and especially moms, in a perfect storm with Americans' notorious Puritanical fear of alcohol. And my how the Europeans must be laughing again.


Two Years by the Numbers

MZ handled her two-year appointment like a champ, from the waiting room, where she watched television, captivated, for about two minutes before picking up a book and asking us to read it, to the shot, which she saw coming, and cried sharply for a minute, then stopped to direct the application of a bandaid to Puppy's paw, and announced, I'm okay. I'm not crying. My heart melted all over the floor.

She talked up a storm, so her pediatrician finally believes that she can. She asked questions and made pronouncements and thoroughly enjoyed instructing her regarding who should receive the stethoscope to the chest next, Mommy or Daddy.

And the numbers? About the same as ever, percentile-wise, although it's a bit of a surprise that she's still just 25 lbs. (just over 25th percentile) to her 34 inches (solid 50th), with an 80th percentile head.

P.S. I finally added the photos to the Twenty-four Months letter to MZ.


Relief: Postscript

Many, many people, upon hearing our Not a place for touching story, have asked urgently, But what about the part about "You broke your word." I understand their concern, on a matter this grave you want to be sure. So this should provide a little perspective:

When MZ and Bubbie came back from the park yesterday, I was at home. Our conversation went like this:
Me: Did you have fun at the park?
MZ: I had fun at the park.
Me: Did you go down the big slide?
MZ: I went down the big slide.
Me: Did you go down the tunnel slide?
MZ: I went down the tunnel slide.

Me: Did you climb the ladder?
MZ: I climb the yadder.
Bubbie, sotto voce: She didn't actually do any of those things.

Uh-huh. Two year-olds are fantastic mimics. Confirmed by her ped this afternoon.

So that doesn't answer the question of how to deal with suspected molestation if there were other contributing factors. But it might help explain why we can sleep at night right now.


Twenty-four Months: That's Two in Weasel Years!

Dear Miriam,

I'm having a hard time writing through my surprise that you've been in our lives for two years. Nothing beats the first year for crazy, mind-blowing change on an unheard-of scale, but the last year has been dramatic by any other measure. You've gone from a crawling baby who called everything that moves Cat! to a conversing, phone-talking, running, jumping, hollering, direction-giving, food-not-eating person.

In the last month, you've started answering questions more accurately and with less confusion, and verbally working through your experiences with a memory for detail that amazes us. The other day I asked Mana if she needed anything from the grocery store and you popped up with Cucumbers. This is your new favorite food and we had run out the day before, but this was the first time you made such a connection about shopping and the things you want. Your other new favorite food, by the way, is Ikura, which you call orange balls. Your face lights up if anyone so much as mentions sushi, and your Sushi board book is your new favorite.

Ikura was an accidental discovery. You were dining along side your buddy Prince H at our local sushi place. Prince H was eating happily, while you were talking nonstop about what you weren't eating, per usual. We'd ordered a roll that had ikura sprinkled across the top and you exclaimed "orange balls," so I gave you one. You demanded more, Prince H tried some, and we ended up ordering nigiri for you both, which you demolished. Given your love for smoked salmon, this shouldn't be so surprising, but I am impressed.

You say things you know are funny, like Ye-ah boy-ee when you fold your arms (with the head cocked), or Amaya! when you want me to join you from whatever I'm doing, and you seem to have consciously decided not to add our salty dialogue to your vocabulary. The other morning, after I dropped something and it broke, you walked around saying F$%&en f$%&en f$%&en for a while, till I said, No, I think you mean "Truckin'!" You looked at me knowingly, decided that was hilarious, and exclaimed Truckin'! between gales of laughter for a good five minutes.

You're getting more physical, too, conquering the big-kid slides and attempting the ladders at Library Park, and you mastered jumping! You've been working on it for weeks, one day you just decided it was time to jump and you've attacked it with an admirable single-mindedness. You were satisfied to jump holding our hands or to make the jump motion without your feet leaving the ground for the longest time. But the first few times both your feet left the floor, your smile was radiant enough to light the neighborhood, if only we'd known to hook you up.

You're all about helping these days, too, and your Daddy is much better than I about enlisting your assistance. In those touchy moments before dinner is served, he occupies you by having you place the forks and napkins on the table, or helping him unload the dishwasher. Mana has folded laundry with you (you do very well with the washcloths) and Bubbie has you putting your toys away regularly. I always seem to be in a rush to get out of the house and have to restrain myself from doing everything myself, but one task we do together is feeding the cats: You open the container, we scoop the kibble, and you carefully pour the food into their bowl, tell them to eat and then replace the scoop and close the container. You’re so proud of yourself when you accomplish these tasks, and we are blown away that we have come to this point so quickly.

On the other side of the coin, you are MZ the Destroyer. If I tarry a moment too long in my attention to household details, your fury is a thing to behold: you unpack drawers, dump blocks, unfold dishtowels and extract a full box of tissues before I can turn around. And when I do, you are stolid in your refusal to help pick up. Clearly I am to pay for my neglect.

It's not really your fault, though, because these days you're all about telling us what to do, and had I only been listening you never would have needed to tear apart the dining room. You are capable of giving the same direction over and over and over and over again, with mind-numbing consistency of tone: Read the book, Mommy, Get Puppy, Daddy, Move over, Bubbie, Stop talking to Daddy, please, Papa. You are full of directions.

Your birthday was a celebration of all your favorite things: bagels, smoked salmon and lox, sliced cucumbers, red peppers and cherry tomatoes, tuna salad, pork buns and the most amazingly delicious chocolate cake made by your AuntieS. She also made dozens of tiny cupcakes, which you proceeded to grab and lick the frosting from, one after another till we stopped you.

We had Enzo join us, too. You don’t seem to like surprises, and we told you he was coming for your birthday a week in advance, so you were convinced he was coming home with you after music class one day. But when he arrived, you took it in stride, telling Papa knowingly, He’s going to do another one, whenever a song ended. You laughed with glee to have him here, and asked for him for a few days afterwards.

These big celebrations must be so surreal for you, with all the to-do and ta-da, and then it’s over for another year. But you were such a sport through all of it, and it was such fun to make the day special for you. We worried about overkill, but realized that whether you remember it next year or not, we will never forget your unmitigated joy, which was truly a mirror on our own happiness at having you in our lives. Welcome to your third year, MZ, let it be another healthy, happy one.

All my love,
Your Mommy

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The relief is palpable

Today when I picked MZ up from daycare, she volunteered, I cried. This is unusual because she often asks for P. between visits, and is pretty cheerful on drop-off and pick-up, plus they had a birthday party for her, so what could be better? I asked P. about it and she said she was a little weepy, classic two-year old stuff. Since she’s been a little sensitive with us lately, I didn’t think much about it.

We took our usual stroll before we got in the car, talking about the rest of the afternoon, and the one errand we needed to run. Then, on the way to the store, she said, That place is not for touching.

I caught myself from whirling around in my seat to stare at her, and tried to be as nonchalant as possible when I asked, What place is not for touching, MZ? She’s two, so I think the next thing she said was something about Puppy, and I asked once more, as gently as I could, and let the conversation go.

Then, in the store while we were waiting in line, she wandered away from me a bit, turned around and looked at me and said what sounded like, You broke your word. Wha-at?! Trying not to completely freak out, I walked over, picked her up, hugged her and kissed her and asked her who broke their word? What word was broken? How did it break? … hoping to land on something that would kick her esoteric thought process into something recognizable.

All the while I’m thanking everything I can for this verbal child, because what would she do without words, and wouldn’t we be able to puzzle through this eventually? I tried to think of all the various contexts in which this could be said, and who might speak this way. Her daycare speaks primarily Spanish, so that’s probably not it, right? Right?

I brought it up a couple times before R. got home, during a diaper change and while we sat on the sofa reading a book. Is your body not for touching? Is there something not for touching? A place? I told her that she could always tell me anything, that I would always believe her first, that no one could tell her not to tell me something – it was up to her to decide. Does she understand any of this? I have no idea but it seemed worth saying.

When R. got home, I related all this, and watching him control his rising panic was like looking in a mirror. We were both jittery, trying to be calm as we worked with her to open the last of her birthday presents, occasionally pitching what we hoped was a softball question that would lead us where we needed to go.

She had what for her is a tantrum as we tried to get to the dinner table, refusing to help set the table, refusing to sit at the table, insisting on going downdairs, and ultimately dissolving into tears. When I tried to talk to her, she said clearly, Go away, Mommy, and I left her to her father.

Finally, she asked for blueberries and we got her to sit at the table and eat them. And R asked, What place is not for touching, MZ? And she said, clearly, The store.

And then she proceeded to devour everything in sight, scooping up enormous spoonfuls of hummus and Greek salad and pita.

Of course! That oddly formal phrase is from me! I said that last Friday as I prepped her for an errand to a wine shop – something that had to be done kid in tow, despite my better judgment, in preparation for her birthday party.

MZ internalizes all these directional phrases, I already know this. And she seems to background process everything, so of course when I said we had to go to a store, she processed through our last visit and relayed everything she could remember about going to a store: This place is not for touching. Of course.

R and I were practically giddy as we finished our meal, so extreme was our relief. I don’t think either of us truly believed that someone was molesting our daughter, but it was the first thing that occurred to both of us, and our fear had to be part of what triggered her tantrum. MZ has always sensed and reacted to tension. That, and that she was clearly hungry.

That still doesn't explain the You broke your word, but I think the I cried was simply an effort to verbalize her day, and really, I’m just so freaking grateful that there’s nothing more to say. Except thank you.


Art class!

MZ and I started taking an art class, and it occurs to me that it's the first organized class we've ever taken together out of a swimming pool. I take her to playgroups and places where she can do various activities all the time, but my preference has been for unstructured activities, since her grandparents are usually enrolled in art and music with her. But I am not crafty, and MZ seems to like to color and paint and such, and I thought an art class might help me figure out how to do some of these activities with her at home.

So here we are in class and I am blown away by my daughter. She's not shy! She may not be roll-you-over social, but in this small group setting, she piped up with answers, asserted opinions, interacted with the other kids and generally demonstrated total confidence. In a sea of primary colors, she asked for pink, and lo if the teacher didn't go mix up some for her with red and white. And she said Thank you with just a little coaching.

We've decided not to enroll MZ in preschool next year. We looked at the available programs for a 2.5 yr old versus what's open to an older child, and then looked at her week, and the time she spends with her grandparents, and decided there's no rush to get started. And then I considered how much she's come to love her daycare provider, and how sad it would be to yank her away after only one year, and well, the cost of preschool, and it felt like a good decision.

But of course I've second-guessed this, because I am the queen of
analysis paralysis. Am I shortchanging her? Am I stifling her development? Will this exacerbate her shyness?

Our art class experience as well as her foray into imaginary play, and recent visits to the park, where she's conquering the Big Kids slide and clambering up ladders, is reinforcing my original decision, but also reminding me that it's much too soon to try to define who MZ is -- or what we should be looking for in a preschool. Much too soon for labels like "shy" or "literal" or "not very physical." I realize she's got a lot more to show us about who she is, and her personality is only beginning to unfold. And wow! I am so totally enamored of this kid! I can't wait to see what else she has in store for us.

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Blogger sucks

How is it possible that the new version of Blogger sucks so much? How could they have switched this over to prime time before they worked out the bugs for people who have two gmail addresses? Not like it's unusual to blog under a pseudonym. $^&()()*%$$$##


So many changes, fast and furious

MZ is on a tear. It started a few weeks ago, and she's still screaming along developmentally. She answers questions now, not just What sound does a cow make, but also, How did you sleep? I slept well. and What are you doing? I'm drinking coffee (frothed milk out of an espresso cup while we sip our morning capuccinos). These are fairly ephemeral questions for a child who demonstrated a clear confusion with such conversations just two weeks ago.

She jumps now, too. After weeks of hard work, she can jump and both feet dependably leave the floor. No more holding on to stabilizing objects, she's jumping on her own!

Evidently she and her Bubbie were reading her Red is a Dragon book today when she decided that they should snack on the lychees and watermelon pictured. Tonight she ran around the table feeding everyone lychees! watermelon! Imaginary play, your time is nigh.

Yesterday morning, when we weren't paying much attention, busy as we were getting breakfast on the table, she went over to Baby (her new doll) and said, Hi Baby. Then she reached into her sparkly purple "diaper bag" and handed Baby her bottles, explaining that one is juice and the other milk. She set them at Baby's side in case she needed them. I suppose nurturing is truly learned and we should teach MZ not to pick up Baby by her neck.
P.S. Read down, I finally got that holiday post up...



I wrote a wonderful post last night about MZ's explosive growth and the amazingness of experiencing the holidays through her eyes. I composed it using the Blog This icon in Picasa because I wanted to include an edited photo. I do this all the time. I pressed Publish and it looked like everything went along as usual, but the post never appeared here. Where the hell did it go? How about the other three I tried to post as placeholders?

I'm assuming this has to do with Blogger's new version and the fact that I have two gmail accounts, but damned if I can find the admin options that will allow me to sync everything up. I'll make time for this at some point, but there's no time right now.



Come on in, 2007!

2006 had its share of ups and downs, but really, it was a fantastic year and I'm sorry to see it go. However, the best way to send it out was to witness MZ's captivation with the holidays -- all of them.

First she discovered her Chanukah books and started singing the Dreidel song well before the first night. She was all about the menorahs and the dreidels until she discovered the nutcrackers. Nutcrackers are da bomb. Snowmen are cool, Santas are kinda creepy, but Nutcrackers rock her world. Ironically, the only shop in the area that had a 5' tall lighted Menorah also had 9' tall Nutcrackers, flanking an equally large Mouse King. No contest.

At first that freaked me out a little bit. Did she think Christmas was better than Chanukah? How would we deal with that? Would it break her heart that Santa doesn't visit the Jewish kids? I had gone into the holiday season so blaise, she would get to "visit" Christmas with her maternal grandparents, it was part of her cultural heritage if not her religious tradition. What could be better? And then she got all Christmas-y on me, and I doubted. I feared.

Really, though, I've got to admit that nothing competes with the 10' inflatable Santa that jumps out of a chimney just down the street. What could appeal to a toddler more than a tree with sparkly things all over it? Chanukah is downright reserved in comparison, and it's not even a major holiday.

Over the course of the weeks I began to enjoy Christmas more than I ever had in my life. What a cool tradition our neighbors bring into our lives! How we admire the lights and trees and train sets and tiny towns that zip underneath! After years of agnostic ambivalence, I finally came to feel about Christmas the way I feel about Chinese New Year and Diwali: it's so cool that we live in a multicultural society and I want my daughter to be exposed to all of it. I want her to fully enjoy the traditions practiced by our family and friends and neighbors, and someday when she understands their meaning, to respect their beliefs.

But for now it was just a great time taking her to see those giant Nutcrackers a few times a week, to hang blue and white lights in our windows and witness her anticipation at dusk when they were about to come on, to light candles together each of the eight nights and hear her chant Nun Gimel Hay Shin and the lines from her books (Do you know the reason why? It's Hanukkah tonight!), and then to wake up on Christmas morning to her very own stocking, a blue and white number hand-knitted by her Mana.

And I learned that the best way to raise a Jewish kid is to raise her Jewish. This month she began to shade her eyes during the prayer over the Shabbat candles. It warmed me, possibly no less than it did her Daddy and her Bubbie, because I am the one who has religiously (is there any better term?) taken her to the Shabbat playgroup every Friday. She says L'Chaim and raises her glass when we say our prayer over the wine, and anytime we do cheers. She asks for candles and challah on any given night, she already knows Shabbat is a celebration and she looks forward to it. She asks for her dreidel books even today, a week after Chanukah, and still sings that dreidel song (although I'm not sure how I feel about her Daddy and her Papa putting her dreidels in her new toy oven so that they'll be "dry and ready").

2006 has been an adventure, culminating in my favorite holiday season to date. We keep saying this is her best phase, and then it just gets better, so come on in, 2007! We're glad to see you.

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