Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The potty was a passing fad

Looking back, I see I made a vague mention of Henry peeing on the toilet. But fortunately I failed to launch into a glowing, awe-struck exposition about how he was suddenly using the toilet five times a day, including every single poop.

That was all very exciting, and although I told everyone I had nothing to do with it, I secretly thought it might be a sign of very good parenting on my part. I wasn't sure what I had done, exactly, but clearly it was successful.

But now, less than two weeks later, the potty is already a thing of the past. Last weekend he came up to me and said, "Poop," and I said, "Great! Let's get to the toilet," and he yelled, "No! Poop in diaper!" and ran away.

I tried a few more times. I even bought him "Elmo's Potty Time" on DVD. He loves the show, but doesn't seem interested in emulating Elmo. I'm not pushing it. Not now, not with the baby coming.

Oh, here's something I forgot about late pregnancy: insomnia! I remember having trouble sleeping with Henry, but I thought it was due to really sore hips and really bad heartburn. There's a little heartburn with this one, and some discomfort lying down. Oh, and the restless leg syndrome, which is some sort of preview of hell. But mostly it's just that once I'm up--to pee, to change Henry's soaked diaper, to shove Simon over for snoring--I'm just up.

So I am exhausted.

On the bright side, I've been doing a lot of reading. Nothing like a good murder mystery at 4 a.m. I recommend anything by P.D. James.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bad mothers

I always swear to myself that I won't judge other parents. Parenting is a hard job, there's no right and wrong, every child is different.

But then today at McCaulou's, where I was buying big-boy underpants for Henry, I saw a mom a little older than me with a boy a little younger than Henry. As Henry played quietly with the toy train in the toddler section, this little boy was pulling clothes off the racks and laughing as they dropped to the floor.

This in itself did not spark my judgement. Frankly, if not for the train, Henry would have been right there with him.

The mother said cheerfully, "Thank you! Thank you for organizing these clothes! But they don't need you to organize the clothes, honey." Then, as she hung the little clothes back on the racks, "What a good boy you are!"

Of course, within minutes the boy was happily pulling more clothes off the racks. Wouldn't you? I'd probably loot a drugstore for gratitude and praise, I get it so seldom.

Again, the mom said, "What a good boy! But you don't have to organize these clothes."

Outwardly, I was perusing 2T-sized shirts for Henry. Inwardly I was rolling my eyes and snickering like I was in middle school. Nothing worse than misdirected praise, I thought. It's so sad when parents are so afraid to tell their kids no, I thought. Way to send your kid a mixed message, I thought.

For about four minutes I felt warm and peaceful in my superiority.

Then the young child wandered over to where my own sweet, well-mannered child was playing with the train set. As the child approached the table, Henry, easily a head taller than the child, swung around and shoved him.

The child teetered, but stayed upright. Until Henry shoved him again. That time he went down, whimpering.

"No pushing, big guy!" said the cheerful mother to Henry. She was less cheerful now. "No pushing!"

I was mortified. My son the bully.

"No pushing!" I said, sternly. Henry, unimpressed, turned back to the train set, but I took his arm and led him away. "You pushed that boy, so now you can't play with the train anymore."

Henry began wailing. Really almost screaming his dismay as two or three tear drops feel from each eye at a time.

"Can you say sorry?" I asked. I'm not sure he even heard me over his own shrieks. Even if he had, he was crying too hard to say anything.

So I said 'sorry' to the other child and his mother. I thought she looked disapproving, but that may have simply been me projecting, embarrassed as I was by my inability to control my own son who, to those who didn't know him, now appeared to be a bully and a brat.

Still holding his hand as he bawled, I felt completely incompetent. I've been trying for more than a month to get Henry past the pushing thing, and here he was shoving this little child harder than ever. But then his sobbing made me wonder if I was a tyrant for pulling him away from the train.

The truth: I have no business judging anyone. I have no idea what I'm doing myself. Let this be a lesson to me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Toddlers and husbands

I've been morbidly depressed lately, but today I'm feeling better. Why? God knows.

One day a week or two ago I suddenly realized that baby Henry was gone, and in his place was this almost-lanky child who talks and climbs and washes his own hands and destroys things I hadn't even thought of moving out of his reach.

Two days ago he peed in the toilet, because he wanted to. This is not something I've been pushing. The last thing I need is to be breastfeeding when Henry announces he has 30 seconds for someone to remove his pants and get him onto the Elmo seat.

But he's interested. So I applaud and I give him a high five and I realize that parenting is sort of like having only minimal steering control over a vehicle that someone else is working the pedals for. I can veer it in a general direction and try to avoid a major collision, but when we get there is up to someone else.

The other day he pulled his cousin Cece's hair to get her off the toy car they were sharing. I was shocked and mortified. "No no!" I shouted. "You hurt Cece. Now you can't play with the car anymore."

And he pouted and he cried, mostly about the car, but he's been talking about it since then. "Pull Cece hair," he'll say, dreamily.

I hope he's not a sociopath.

Three words about my marriage: I give up.

We've been in therapy for more than two years now. My major issue, in fact, the issue that keeps us going to counseling, is communication. Namely, that we don't have any.

Two nights ago he called from Philadelphia, where he's on a business trip. He was energetic and chatty, and I listened and responded happily while he talked about the fabulous hotel he was at, the guy he's been trying to set up a meeting with who turned out to be an old friend, the business deals he's lined up. He talked for at least 10 minutes. This was a great call from Simon! Then he asked, "What did you guys do today?"

I told him that we had gone to the park where Henry's friend had held his birthday party over the weekend, and after I warned Henry his friend and the party would not be there this time, we stumbled upon the same friend having another party for his park friends.

And there was silence.

OK, I know it's not gripping, but neither was his story about the guy he used to work with.

But I got nothing. I assumed his phone had gone dead, so I said, "Hello, hello?" to confirm.

He said, "What? Sorry. What did you say?"

So I had listened enthusiastically to him wax on for nearly 15 minutes about what a stellar salesman he is, and as soon as I opened my mouth he went back to checking emails.

I just said goodnight and hung up. He sent an email the next day about how sorry he was, and how he'll not read his emails while talking to me from now on.

From now on? That was the first promise he made in marriage therapy. It's what he promised two months ago when I said we're heading for divorce unless things change. But from now on things will change. Really.

It's stupid, isn't it? If it weren't such an ongoing issue it would be funny. It is sort of funny. My husband finds me so boring he can't pay attention for two minutes!