The backseat brain

This post is not about my willingness to ruin various mealtimes with treats and is about how refreshing it is to hang out with children.  Somewhere along the lines here I mentioned a conversation that I had with my cousin about no longer saying “I can’t imagine” in every day conversation because it’s not really true and it’s so limiting in its scope. Hanging out with children only drives that point home, and it’s wildly humbling to realize how much I miss it. I think that I’m creative and then I watch Asher, or any other child, for  three minutes and realize that my brain is basically a barren prairie of creative prairie dog holes by comparison.


So the muffin. Asher was cruising along in the backseat the other day, working on a pumpkin muffin and within minutes I hear him saying, “We have to get our tools to dig that giant raisin out of the raisin cave that it’s stuck in!” and then he told me that his finger was the excavator and went to town making digger noises and digging out the giant raisin from its raisin cave. Once that job was done, he starting taking strategic bites until he had fashioned what looked to him like an airplane and proceeded to fly it into his own mouth. This lead to the demolition of the ‘wings’ (as you can imagine, the airplane shape was highly interpretive) and he announced that his muffin now looked like a boulder which lead to a conversation about how rocks can be shaped like anything. In the time that it took to eat a muffin, Asher did a little spelunking, visited a job site, flew through some clouds, and rolled down a hill, all coupled with a completely uninhibited narrative along the way.


The thing about living with kids is that we assume that they’re trying to find a place in our world when really, we’re the ones that are getting constantly invited into theirs. I think that my biggest shortcoming as a parent is my persistent desire to manipulate Asher’s day into the blueprint of mine, and without fail, I am reminded that if I just slow down a little, not only does the mind numbing back and forth quiet down, but I get to bear witness to the kind of life that I dream of leading. I would give almost anything to have a day in the imagination land of a three-year-old right now, to see airplane wings in my breakfast, to be able to use my voice to make as many interesting and funny sounds without fear of what anyone might think, to compulsively turn a slow minute into one filled with play. (And who am I kidding? To be forced to take a daily nap.) Where my brain is filled with what ifs and petty thoughts and numbers and self doubt, I can see so clearly in Asher’s eyes that his mind is only filled with absorbing the lights and colors and sounds around him and then using that information to entertain and discern and question.

This is why it’s such a delight to give children something new. It’s why I want to give him muffins and books and toys and sticks and big boxes filled with mailing popcorn, why we take him in the woods and wait patiently as he jumps into the pool again and again and again. Not just because we like seeing his eyes light up or because it’s easy to pacify him, but because I can hand him a rock and in turn he hands me an entirely new perspective…if I’m willing to see it. Lately I feel like I’ve been short on patience and long on the sound of my own voice, so I’m trying to follow his lead back to that place of wonder. Of course my record’s not going to be perfect, but as the far fetched parenting ideals go, I would like the idealism to go down as the majority.

We all know it, but for the record? Kids have it going on. Us tall types are the ones that need to turn our listening ears on.

Here’s to a weekend of play. Of quiet grown up mouths and little kid dreams.

Woking out.

Asher will be 2 in less than 3 weeks (what!?) and I have been delighting in the fact that when people start to talk about the Terrible Twos I’ve been able to say, “Well, Asher’s really more of a ‘yes’ man, and so far he’s been a dream”.

Smugness is a social crime, team, and I’m serving my time.

Here’s what our Sunday sounded like:

“YAY! Asher! That’s so good! You’re such a goo—ASHER! PLEASE do not get on the coffee table. That’s right, climb down. That’s very good baby, thank you for being a goo—ASHER! What did mama JUST say? NO sir, you may not—that’s right. Thank you sweet boy, than—ASHER! That is dangerous! Didn’t I just tell you to please NOT get on…”

And then it sounded like this:


And then I stepped on a toy train and said, “ah shoot! dang! durn! darn!” because I live with a parrot and my sailor days are slowly slipping away.  Durn?  Durn just does not cut the throbbing-foot-mustard, you know?

So it would seem that indeed the terribleness of the twos is the constant constant constant boundary pushing.  I say no, I calmly explain why (you’ll bonk your head, baby) I distract and divert and take a beat and ask myself WWMPD? (What would Mary Poppins Do) and at some point I yell a booming and terrifying NO, right after he bites my arm and smiles at me, and put him in his crib for time out–for both of us–and then when I pick him back up he pats my cheek and asks for the “twains? book? weed?” (Trains? Book? Read?) as if I didn’t just yell at him and close him in his room and I melt and feel like a major butt.

Terrible twos indeed.  The things is, some bigger picture part of me knows that this is par for the course and that Asher has to do all of this but…I don’t especially like looking at the clock and thinking, 45 minutes until bath time.  I know that every single parent out there has made that mental calculation, I know that I have a lot more of those moments in my future, and I completely get that part of parenting is providing boundaries and being the one to keep an eye on the prize as the full-speed-ahead ramming of those boundaries occurs.  But I also get why parenthood drives people to drinking.  You know that tired definition of insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time?  Well, I think it’s fair to say that toddlers are insane.  That insanity is mostly awesome when on a less intense scale it’s lovingly described as insatiable curiosity, but there is a fine line between being curious and just being difficult, and for the very first time (though certainly not the last!) I got to cruise that second gauntlet this weekend.

And of course the other completely cliche but nonetheless amazing thing about this whole scenario?  After all of the no-ing, the tears, the redirecting, the endless stream of parenting drivel that I hear myself saying all afternoon, after all of that, Asher will do 30 things exactly right with heart-melting conviction and sweetness and I see the gorgeous child and get all gooey and silly over him because he’s such an awesome kid and because he’s our kid.  He’s our kid that is determined to break his head open super-manning off the coffee table, but he’s also our kid that looked at me yesterday and spontaneously said, “Ashers yuves mama” (Asher loves mama) and told me that submarines swim in the water and birds and planes fly in the sky.  He’s the kid that’s not quite two that started asking to potty all on his own about 3 weeks ago.  And my favorite right now?  He’s the kid that wakes up in the middle of the night begging not for mama or papa, but to be woked, because it feels good to have someone you love slip in in the dark and rock you for a minute before going back to sleep.

How do you describe it as anything other than a roller coaster?   Highs and lows and then….HIGHS!!…and then…LOWS!!…and then…3 tiny seconds of normalcy and then…HIGHS!!…and then…

and I know that some part of me was smiling as I was hopping around holding my throbbing foot and saying, “didn’t I JUST ask you…” and watching the clock because this is my favorite job that I’ve ever had and even though my boss is a little demanding and disrespectful at times, I would sign up for this every single day of the year if asked to do it again.

But Asher, if it’s 2030 and you’re reading this right now?  I’m completely confident that I still enjoy massages and large vases of peonies.
You hear me, son?

Baby Steps.

Those guys.  They’re good ones.

A number of long distance friends and family have inquired about first steps, so I thought today we might chat about Long Legs McGoo, and his steps towards walking.  Asher still isn’t walking and tomorrow marks his 16th month on the planet.  I have found that if I say anything bordering on concern or complaint about the lack of biped activity going on, people are quick to point out that each child is on his or her own schedule, which I totally understand and have more or less embraced.  Ok, well most people are quick to say that.  One woman at the grocery told me that I needed to put him down more and just let him walk.  I wish I had thought of that!  She was a stranger and I did not like her.  Anyway, other than that, I get a lot of reassurance that he’ll walk when he’s good and ready.  But team?  This mama is good and ready.  The little budso is not that jazzed about being held when he’s out and about because there’s a whole big world out there and seeing it from your parent’s arms is just not that cool anymore.  However, it’s January, it’s freezing cold down there on the ground, and additionally people think it’s weird if you let your kid crawl on the aisles of the grocery store.  I know that I should think that’s weird too, but I’ve kind of hit the point where I would rather have a happy kid that has the whatever from the soles of 400 pairs of stranger’s shoes than have a crying squirming kid with germ-free hands that just. wants. to. get. down.  I don’t blame him one bit, I would totally hate it if my Mom insisted on carrying me everywhere we went.  My most recent assumption is that Asher has been secretly reading George Orwell after we put him to bed and has bought into the whole notion of four legs good, two legs bad.  (We all know how that turns out, though).  Or maybe he’s so enamored with the dogs, by far his favorite thing on earth, that he would like to maintain their ranks.  Or maybe he’s just a kid with long legs and a wobbly torso that would rather crawl than walk.  But I’m guessing it’s the George Orwell thing.  Probably.

Two legs good, team.  Two legs good.