Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Utter Breakdown

Saturday is the wedding day -- Ben's brother Zack and Beth are getting married.
We've had family in town for a week. And more will pour in tonight, tomorrow, and Friday.
A waterfall of family, really.

Silas and Eden are in cousin-heaven. We have all pledged our love to Disneyland. The rains predicted haven't come yet. The bride and groom have received some pans and towels.
Grandparents have doled out presents, sugar by the spoonfuls. It's vacation week, to say the least.

At noon, we had just come from the 99 cent store with the grandparents, cousins and Silas's very own dollar. I had watched his head spin with the decision making as he waffled between Lightning McQueen pens and scissors and a wall of candy. After some angst, he finally chose a bag of jelly beans. Then he, Eden and I went to the grocery store for detergent.

The collapse came when he spotted a box of cheerios with a toy car inside, and I told him we weren't going to get it.

Bright red face, alligator tears, hand-flapping hysteria, blood curdling screaming followed us through the store, down the aisles, through the check-out line (yes, there was a line). I felt my body temperature rise 10 degrees and started sweating. I made eye contact with every shopper and cashier who kept looking over with side glances laden with judgment and pity.

I bent down to reason with him a few times but the screaming only escalated. Eden stood by in a I've-disappeared daze. And FINALLY we paid. I grabbed Silas's wrist and he thrashed, still screaming, as I led him to the door. Eden stayed at the register. I managed my 4 bags and pulled his wrist until we were just outside (though with little relief because the doors were still open for all of the shoppers to hear us, and Eden was still wandering in a small circle inside the store).

I spoke sweetly. I spoke sternly. I tried sweetly again. I screamed. I roughly sat him on the ground. I went back and got little Eden out the door. The bags, Silas, and Eden were on the ground. Silas was half sitting and still screaming his head off. And Eden was standing by. A woman came over and asked if she could help. At her small kindness, tears sprang to my eyes, and I could only nod gratefully. She said she'd been in the same situation an hour ago in Target, which I didn't quite believe. She walked with us to the car and loaded my bags, while Silas screamed, Eden avoided eye contact and I fluctuated between near-laughter and near-sobbing.

The screaming didn't stop when the engine started. And didn't stop after a brief conversation of sanity. And didn't stop even as we got close to home. So finally I pulled over, feeling murderous with my own helplessness. I pulled Silas up front onto my lap, and he almost immediately calmed. We both breathed, a little. And then told each other and Eden we were sorry. I buckled him back in and handed him corn chips from the grocery bag each time I saw his lip start to quiver in the rear view mirror as he remembered the Cheerios car. And we made it home.

This afternoon, we snuggled up in Big Green Chair and finished reading Charlotte's Web. He was squirmy and had me pause a few times to show me how he could jump off the arm of the chair, but I could tell he loved nestling next to me and hearing my voice. A slow repair.

And then I read the second to last paragraph of the book, when Wilbur has grown older and wiser:

"Mr. Zuckerman took fine care of Wilbur all the rest of his days, and the pig was often visited by friends and admirers, for nobody ever forgot the year of his triumph and the miracle of the web. Life in the barn was very good -- night and day, winter and summer, spring and fall, dull days and bright days. It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur, this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure, and the glory of everything."

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I mentioned the emergence of "I not!" and for a little icing on the cake, Eden's also begun, "Mom."

Conversations with Eden these days go a lot like this:

Come on, Eden, let's hold hands.
I NOT, Mom (mom said in the low voice that suggests a roll of the eyes that you often hear 15 year old's use).


Let's put your shoes on, we have to go!
By self, Mom. I NOT.

Use your manners, Eden.
Please, Mom.

I have tried to remind her that she is only 20 months old. I have tried interjecting "mama" or "mommy" right after her declarative "mom." But all to no avail. In fact, I'm pretty sure she's saying Mom just to jib me.

The saving grace, though, comes in the middle of the night, when I hear a tiny high voice, too sleepy to remember herself softly calling, "i want my mommy" from the other room. Then everything slips back into place.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Not.

As you know, I haven't been quite at the top of my game this week. Today involved handfuls of impatience and leaving the house with both my pants (thankfully yoga pants -- if they were jeans, we'd know I'm really in trouble) and my fleece inside out. Eden's new phrase that kicked in mid-morning is "I not." As in, Eden, would you like an orange. I NOT. or Eden let's put your boots on. I NOT. or It's time for dinner, Eden. I NOT. or Let's hold hands as we cross the street. I NOT.

(Fortunately for her, she also walked around all day wearing green frog-face rain boots and -- in between "I not"'s -- smiling, saying in the tiniest high voice, "woooooook, I have boots").

I drove the kids 30 minutes south to a beach I never go to -- seemed important to change locations all together. A runoff spout cut a deep "river" through the beach and the seagulls settled and resettled in a cloud. The kids loved it. I tried to climb behind my sunglasses and journal to work out some kinks in the glaring sun, but Eden, of course, kept finding me to show that she was poking the sand with a stick or walking with a shovelful of sand.

I had brought one of Jane Kenyon's poetry books with me that I never read, and once we were resettled onto the playground, I opened it to the middle. This is the poem that met me, which was a good word spoken into the day:

Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks

I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years....

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper....

When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me....

I am the food on the prisoner's plate....

I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills...

I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden...

I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge...

I am the heart contracted by joy...
the longest hair, white
before the rest....

I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow....

I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit....

I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name....

Monday, February 08, 2010

Thank Heavens for a Florida Chicken

It's strange how you could live the exact same day twice in a row, and the first time it could be a breeze, and the second time could leave you ready to commit yourself. Today was the second time.

I'm not sure exactly what happened. Cheery Eden suddenly melted into a tantrum puddle at every turn. My new time solution of 6 hours of sleep a night caught up with me, and I carried around a knot of tension in my chest all day. I couldn't find any sippy cups for ms. frantic-screaming-pants. I packed snacks that were apparently so tiny that Silas had to scavenge in Eden's car seat for dropped peanuts and try to grab cheerios out of her fist. I dumped Eden into the back of a grocery cart nearly upside down after she jerked her hand away from mine and sat squarely in the busy parking lot again, and then pushed the cart with her like that, screaming, all the way across the parking lot. I left Silas and Eden in the bathtub just long enough for Eden to empty my entire bottle of soap in the water. Then I tried to rinse her in steps, ending with holding just her head over the tub (salon style?) to rinse out the shampoo. More screaming. On and on.

Not the best day.

Fortunately, there was one spark of grace around 5PM, which is a crucial time for grace. As we were driving home with plans for ham sandwiches for dinner if there was bread in the house, Silas, who can secretly draw magical people with toes and eyebrows but who will only draw "race tracks" (wavy lines) or "my imagination" (blotches of color) suddenly said "a CHICKEN!" and held up the magnet doodle board.

He proceeded to add the beak and legs (lines at the bottom) because even though it's sitting down, a chicken has legs. And the dot to the right is where the chicken's food comes from.
Is it a chicken on a farm, Silas?
No. It's a chicken in Florida.

So that made me feel a little bit better.
Though maybe only a little since it's 7:40 and I am in my pajamas, teeth brushed, face washed, ready to go to sleep. At least tomorrow morning will be a new day and we'll be seated at Denny's first thing eating free Grand Slams.

a few snow pictures

The day before we left DC, it snowed. I realized it was the first time Silas and Eden (or aware Silas and Eden) have seen snow fall. As the first flurry started, Silas kept looking and looking at it out the window saying, this is not what it looks like. I wish I could have seen the picture of falling snow he'd held in his mind before then.

Here are a few pictures of their discovery that morning:

Notice Eden in constant motion -- once she embraced eating snow, she didn't stop.

And though only about 1/2 an inch had fallen, Silas was hell-bent on sledding. Yes, there is a slight incline here, slight.
Quintessential winter from my parents' kitchen window:

Potty Learning Follow Up

After a couple of hours sitting on the floor with Eden reading books and stacking legos, I realized that this will be much easier in a few months. So for now, we are done.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Yesterday we bought a pink -- because the blue one is built differently for boys, lame -- musical potty and Tinkerbell underpants. Today it's 6:40 AM, and Eden has peed on the floor twice already. There is lot of day ahead of us.

When Silas and I tackled "potty learning" we sat in the bathroom morning til night practically. How do you do that with a second child?