Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gender Bending

As I posted a few weeks ago, I painted Ben's toenails at his request. Only minutes after I finished he wistfully said, "I wish we could paint our fingernails, too." Since Uncle Todd and Aunt Sarah's wedding was the next day, and I wasn't sure how they'd like a ring bearer with red fingernails, I told Ben we could do it after the wedding. I wasn't sure he'd remember, but he did, so the next week I painted his fingernails red. A few days after that I was going through my jewelry box and found an anklet I'd forgotten I had, so I put it on. Ben saw that and asked for one, too. I found a bracelet that would fit around his ankle and there we were: Mother and son with painted nails and matching anklets.

This is something that would probably make a lot of people uncomfortable, but I'm actually having the opposite reaction. I'm giddy because my son is asking for things based on his interest and enjoyment. It's another one of those proud mothering moments, because it means that so far I've been able to stick to my morals and not restrict Ben's idea of gender. That's something that's very important to me, because I don't want my children to be restricted by what's between their legs. Sexism is bad for men as well as women, because it puts everyone into these little boxes that don't necessarily have anything to do with what we're really like as individuals. And I'll admit, with Ben's love of trains and cars and construction equipment I was kind of afraid I'd completely lost him to "stereotypical boy land." There's absolutely nothing wrong with those things, but I was concerned that I hadn't done enough to make it clear that he can play with or be whatever he wants. But apparently I was wrong.

It's not like he got his nails painted and suddenly only wanted to play tea party with dolls. No, he got his nails painted and then promptly got them all chipped up running around on the playground like a crazy person. He just wanted pretty nails while he did it. And I've been very pleased with the reactions he's gotten, which have either been positive or none at all. There's been only one negative reaction and that was from a girl in playgroup who said boys can't have painted nails. Ben reported that to me, but didn't seem phased by it and when she said it again in my presence I just simply said that anyone can have their nails painted.

I feel very hipster, liberal feminist for being so proud of this... But I always wonder if my boys are catching on to what's important to me, and it makes me happy to know that in this instance Ben has. That being said, he's not even four yet, so I've had it pretty easy. He's gone to one year of preschool, but it's a very nurturing school and his best friend at school ALSO paints his nails, so we haven't come up against much gender stereotyping yet. And maybe we won't. We live in a pretty liberal area (though in a conservative state), so I doubt too many people would make a stink about a boy's painted nails. We'll see. At this point pretty much all the polish has chipped off and he hasn't asked for more, so perhaps it was just a one-time thing. But at least he knows that if he wants some in the future he can ask.

Monday, June 25, 2012

He's discovered the question, "Why?"

Scene: Ben is getting dressed.

Ben: I'm wearing pants today.

Me: No, you need to wear shorts.

Ben: Why?

Me: Because it's hot out.

Ben: Why?

Me: Why what?

Ben: Why is it hot out?

Me: Because it's summer.

Ben: Why?

Me: Why is it summer?

Ben nods. I sigh.

Me: Because at this time of year our side of the planet is tilted toward the sun and the sun is very hot so it makes our area hot.

Ben: Ok.

Ben puts on shorts.

Friday, June 22, 2012

And now, the exciting conclusion...

Wednesday night we went to a picnic with some of our old classmates. About half the people have kids, so we met in a pavilion right by a playground. Ben was having a great time playing while we were catching up with old friends. Then he ran up and said he had to use the bathroom. I was very glad he did, because sometimes when he's running around with other kids he's too excited and just forgets until it's too late. I happily accompanied him to the bathroom, where he pooped and then we went back to the party.

About five minutes later he came back and said he had to poop again. I was a little frustrated, since I've been trying to express to him that he needs to get ALL the pee and poop out when he uses the toilet, so we don't do this back and forth dance for 20 minutes. However, he was listening to his body, so once again we trudged to the bathroom and once again he pooped.

Five minutes after THAT he was back again. This time I was very frustrated and I said I would take him, but I finished up a conversation before we went. By now I should know better, right? I do anything for my own pleasure at my own peril. And finishing up that conversation meant that BEN POOPED IN HIS PANTS.

WTF, internet? Seriously, WTF? My almost-four-year-old who has NEVER ONCE POOPED IN HIS PANTS in the year he's been potty trained POOPED IN HIS PANTS after having already gone twice in the last 15 minutes.

Am I getting too uppity? What's the lesson here? Why am I being tortured with poop?

So only three days after Sam's poop fireworks (see previous post) there I am, kneeling in a park restroom trying to wipe poop off Ben's underwear. Again I considered it for about two seconds before throwing the underwear away. I've NEVER thrown away clothes because of poop and then I did it twice in a matter of days.

Of course the kicker is that Ben, giddy from going commando in public, pulled down his pants to show another little girl that he didn't have any underwear. Awesome.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

He better get a 4.0

Sam's definitely an overachiever, for he has topped himself once again in the poop department.

Picture it: Father's Day, 9:00am. We're just sitting down to breakfast at a diner we like and Heath fishes Sam out of his carrier. As he picks Sam up I notice a telling stain dripping down his shorts. STEALTH POOPER STRIKES AGAIN! And even though usually on the weekends I make Heath take care of the poop, it was Father's Day so I threw myself on the grenade.

Wonderfully, the little diner we like so much doesn't have a changing table in the bathroom. *sigh* So I dragged Sam out to the car (holding him at arm's length the whole time) and set up shop in the trunk (thank goodness for SUV's).

The first thing I realized was that there was a lot of poop in his shorts and there was no way I was getting them off without smearing it EVERYWHERE. So I bit the bullet and pulled them off, coating his legs in his own excrement. And of course a 7 month old won't stop kicking his legs just because they're covered in feces, so it was really a lovely sight. I'm sure everyone in the packed parking lot appreciated it.

At this point in the story I want to take a moment to thank my grandmother. She had the foresight to give me a plastic bag dispenser for the car and it REALLY came in handy during this situation. Thanks, Grandma! :)

So, I opened up the diaper and discovered that somehow Sam had managed to poop directly OUT of the diaper. The middle of it wasn't even soiled. He's learned how to defy physics! This does not bode well for me.

I managed to subdue his kicking legs and clean him off. Luckily I'd just put a new package of wipes in the diaper bag, otherwise we'd have lost Russian roulette. I contemplated what to do with the shorts for about two seconds and then I chucked them in the trash. Not worth it.

I think this kid is trying to break my spirit. He's pooping 3-4 times a day and now there's no break. It's just poop all the time. That is what my life is right now. Cleaning up other people's poop (and cat vomit).

And now I think my children are ganging up on me. But that's a story for another day...

(Ooohh, cliff hanger!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Personality 101

I've talked a lot about Ben being an extrovert and it's because so much of what makes him happy and comfortable is exactly the opposite of what makes me happy and comfortable. I see an empty park and I sigh with relief. He sees an empty park and doesn't even want to play. It puts us at odds a lot, so it's something that's on my mind.

However, I'm guessing that in a lot of ways, parenting an extroverted child is easier. I never have to goad him to play with other kids. He was never uncomfortable going to school. We rarely have to deal with him being shy. I almost feel like I'm being "racist" against my own people saying that, but it's true.

It will be ironic if I get my wish and Sam is an introvert, because though I know how to be an introvert, I'm sure parenting one is a whole different thing. At least I'll understand when he just wants to sit and read on a bench while Ben's running wild at the playground. But now I also understand why my parents forced me to do a year of soccer and a year of softball and a year of dance. None of those activities really stuck, but they forced me out of my head for a little while.

However, the fact is, I'm not ready to make a call on Sam's introverted vs. extroverted personality. He's definitely calmer than I remember Ben being, and sometimes when he's a little fussy or squirmy he just wants to sit by himself. He plays well on his own for a while, but ultimately he wants to be with us most of the time. So who knows. It's going to be interesting to see what he's like as he gets older, and how he and Ben interact and bounce off each other.

Friday, June 8, 2012

It's not a mommy blog if I don't talk about poop once in a while, so fasten your seat belts folks...

My baby has a super power! Sam is... STEALTH POOPER! Able to defecate and disguise the smell until the diaper is opened! Seriously, I'd say 60% of the time I never know Sam's pooped until I start changing his diaper. Have you ever been surprised by poop? It's not fun, in ANY context.

It doesn't help that there's no rhyme or reason to his "schedule." At this age Ben reliably pooped once a day, usually in the morning. Sam won't poop for a week and then it's like the excrement carnival came to town. And it's always at the most inconvenient times. At the playground, in the middle of a movie, on a long walk. Basically any time we're NOT AT HOME. At home we have an almost unlimited number of wet wipes. But, no, Sam wants to play Russian roulette and see if my feeble pack of wipes runs out at the zoo.

The worst was a few weeks ago. We were at a friend's wedding and I took Sam out of his car seat to feed him. I set him on the crisp, white tablecloth and scooted him back a little so he wouldn't tumble off. I'm sure you can see where this is going. I noticed a peculiar stain coming from his butt and sure enough, his diaper had leaked and I'd proceeded to smear it all over the place. So, Heath took Sam to the bathroom while I tried to clean up the mess at the table. I wiped and wiped at it, but it wasn't very effective, so eventually I gave up and just put a plate over it. On a completely unrelated note, I'm suddenly realizing why people might decide not to invite children to their weddings.

UPDATE: That was the worst when I started writing this post yesterday, but Sam has topped himself! The boy is nothing if not ambitious. We went to the pool yesterday afternoon (I can already hear your groans). After swimming I took the boys into the bathroom so Ben could go and I could change Sam into a dry diaper. I neglected to grab the wipes from my bag because Sam had taken a giant poop before we left the house (occasionally he throws me a bone and poops at home), so he couldn't POSSIBLY poop again, right? Horribly, horribly wrong. Do you know what's worse than white-wedding-tablecloth poop? Watered-down-pool poop. So I'm frantically grabbing paper towels, hoping Sam doesn't roll off the changing table and listening to Ben whine at me to pull up his wet swim suit. It must not have been comfortable having his butt wiped with dry paper towels, but Sam just grinned up at me the whole time. I'm sure he was thinking: STEALTH POOPER STRIKES AGAIN!