I usually joke that Otter is almost 3 going on 13. And it might more true than I want to believe. In the last few weeks, I've been progressively getting previews of what's to come some ten years in the future, or now - whichever comes sooner.
It started innocently enough - being told to come back when she wasn't quite ready to get up in the morning. Then came the day I was sent away while she was playing train ride with Bree. Last week, when I accidentally nudged her with the door, she ran off, sobbing and burying her head in the guest room bed. She screamed, "Go away!" while I vainly tried to apologize. Eventually I had to retreat, only enticing her out by loudly telling the rubber duckies how sorry and sad I was, and reading them the bedtime story meant for SB.
And today the beginning of the end...well, began. After 2 nights of being late - an event that usually requires extra attention - I came home early enough for someone to go to the grocery store. But when she heard that Bree was heading out, she freaked. And when I asked her if she wanted her Papa to stay and put her down (again) while I left, she quickly, and happily, agreed. And why shouldn't she? Papa plays Elevator, Train Ride, Airplane Ride, and Picnic better than I ever will.
My place in the sun is temporarily (or permanently?) eclipsed.
And it's weird, and surprising, and a little liberating. Good luck, Papa!
Our little girl is growing up. Faster than we may have bargained for.
As I worked late the other night, Bree was manning bedtime, and specifically, the requisite pre-bedtime picnic. It is a complicated game, with ever-changing rules that are as hard to follow as they are ephemeral. Mainly, it involves the stuffed animals (known collectively as "all the guys") to ride around in the toy F-150, then be deposited on the kitchen floor (along with the rubber duckies and the 'nest' of plastic eggs), wait for the elevator, when it's too hard to take the stairs, and possibly eat and drink.
And so, I received the following message from Bree:
Good job mama. Guess what the animals are drinking at the picnic?
Yep. They have two big glasses that they're sharing.
Now, there are several ways to interpret such news about your not-quite-3-year-old. And here is what I choose to go with:
1) All things being equal, some wine guzzling teddy bears aren't as bad as it could be. Hell, they can be taking shots, smoking cigarettes, or engaging in risky behaviors. Not to imply that that goes on in our house.
2) To make wine taboo is to nearly ensure a future in sneaking drinks.
3) Let's not forget - the animals were sharing. And sharing is a good thing.
This development was met with unadulterated horror on my part. She's not even quite 3 - should this be happening? Will she be getting enough rest? Will she be melting down by day's end? More importantly, will I? How does one survive one's own child for an uninterrupted 14 hours without going mad or developing a serious Valium addiction?
Sure I say I relish every fleeting weekend moment with my kid. Those charming impromptu picnics on the bed, digging in the backyard dirt, pretend train rides in her crib - but this is all contingent on a 2-3 hour span where she's tucked far away in dreamland, while I get to be a grown up. Dragging my kid through the mall because she wouldn't nap so I took her to go shoe shopping and now I'm peeling her off the mannequin in the Lucky Store display and talking her out of splashing in the fountain after she refused to even try the ice cream she begged me to buy doesn't quite inspire parental bliss. The only thing that gets me through those days is the knowledge that once she hits the pillow at 9, within 15 minutes (at most) I will be free to pursue the illusion of being an untoddlered adult.
On the other hand, the days she does nap we pay the price at bedtime. After putting SB down diligently at 9, we spend the next hour to hour and a half returning to her room at intervals for hugs, kisses, sips of water, the occasional diaper change, blanket adjustments, resetting the music, resetting the night light (which times out at after a length of time the makers deemed sufficient for your average child to fall asleep). This rinse and repeat process is maddening - my dinner, work time or (if I'm feeling really crazy) reading constantly interrupted by plaintive bleats of "Moooommmy, " emanating from the baby monitor. Ignoring the summons is of no use - as they gain volume and urgency with each passing moment. You'd think she was dying of thirst. Eventually, worn down by hours of making me run to her, she thankfully falls asleep, leaving me to enjoy and 11 o'clock dinner.
Which leads to the Catch-22 - which madness do you choose?
"It sometimes happens, even in the best families, that a baby is born. This is not necessarily cause for alarm. The important thing is to keep your wits about you and borrow some money." - Elinor Goulding Smith