Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Little Boy Pee

Little boy pee, anyone who is the mother of boys is familiar with this conundrum. It starts very young, from the very beginning of their existence. A mother must always be on guard during diaper changes, never leaving a naked son unattended. Little boy pee takes on new significance once the sons are potty trained. I don’t know how many times I have sat on a wet toilet seat; you’d think I’d learn.

I was complaining to a small group of friends and several confessed that that is why they require their sons to sit and never stand in the bathroom. This feels mean, like I’m stripping them of their masculinity. I keep thinking they’ll grow out of these splatter tendencies, but the frequency is increasing now that I have three boys using the potty.

Actually, I almost don’t mind anymore. I almost feel like it is my issue; I’m the one that needs to learn. I need to learn to look and wipe and then sit.
My friend Jen is the complete opposite of me in that she has three little blonde-haired girls, ages three, five, and seven. Her bathroom issues are quite different. She has the joy of drawers spilling over with hair ribbons. She has the joy of three little girls crowding around one bathroom mirror and three little girls frustrated that each other is taking their pretty little time in the facility. Her husband finds this quite annoying and confessed that he often uses the backyard…I bet he’s glad his mother never made him sit down to pee; standing can come in very handy.

Jen has also seemed to fair better in potty training endeavors, oh she equally hates it as much as me, but it just appears to come earlier and faster for her girls. Summertime does help and speeds along our boy potty training adventures. There is nothing like the great outdoors to encourage a little son that it is time for big boy underpants. My three are always excited when the weather warms and there are no limits to their bathroom choices: trees, bushes, gardens, rocks, forts, rivers, public parks…

The other day I was talking to a mother in the school parking lot and her boy pulled down his pants and squirted his mark on the school steps. She was horrified. I was not. I have been in that same predicament many times before. You scold. You shield. You chastise, but you always let the boy finish his business because you are secretly glad he didn’t have an accident and you didn’t have to stop your conversation to walk and find a proper bathroom. Boys can be very efficient.
In fact this skill set is something I am personally jealous of, at times. I don’t know how many times I’ve been hiking or camping and have wished I could stand and hide behind a Redwood tree or coastal rock wonder. We went camping with Jen’s family of three girls. I was not jealous of Jen, at all. She and her girls had to inspect and use each pit toilet and public rest stop. And yes, they sat in each one. Nasty! I was then very grateful that my sons could partake in that manly ritual of finding the perfect tree or precipice with Daddy while I went into the facility, solo. (I’m adding this one to my mental list of reasons I love being the mom of only boys. I love solo bathroom time.) I love not having to share my bathroom drawers with overflowing, pastel ribbons. I love that no one fights over the mirror space. I love that my boys can wear their hair so short that they don’t even need to own a comb. Sitting on the occasional little boy pee is a small price to pay for this ease that I get to experience and know. I think I’ll stop complaining now. I have it pretty good.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Year of Mild Torture

This year has been a form of torture for my middle son and me. I had all kinds of wonderful intentions for how we were going to use this extra year, but none of my good intentions have materialized. I refer to this year as extra because C’s a fall-birthday-baby, meaning that when all his preschool friends got to move on to kindergarten, he didn’t. This was a difficult concept to grasp. (You have to be five by September 1st.)

C didn’t see himself any differently. He was just as fast, as tall, as coordinated, as verbal, and as inquisitive. He was exhibiting all those school-ready-signs. I was so tempted to go through the necessary steps to see him enter this last fall as a kinder, but something inside of me was scared. What if this messed up his life? What if he was developmentally ready as a five-year-old, but when he turned 15 he was behind: the last to hit puberty. I didn’t want to completely screw up his entire adult life just because he was the last boy to have his voice drop or sprout a bit of mustache hair.

And then the words of a kindergarten teacher cautioned me, “Do you really want to cheat him of one more year of his childhood?” No! Never! I don’t want to do that. How horrible. I’m not a horrible mother. I won’t do that! And so September rolled around, and we stayed home. We took his older brother to school, we saw his friends tumble out of their cars in the carpool line. C rolled down his window and shouted excitedly, “Hi Jack! Hi Brandon! Hi Saydee!” Then he would look at me, “Those are my friends. I miss them. When I turn five, will I get to be with them again?” It was tricky explaining the concept of being five on September 1st. But eventually I was sure he got it.

However, two weeks later when he turned five, and invited all his “older” friends to his party, he didn’t understand why he wasn’t going to get to join them in the school drop off line the next day. It continues to perplex him. It feels unjust.

“Next year I’ll get to be in kindergarten, right mom?” Right! “And I’ll finally get to be in class with Jack and Wyatt?!” No. “What? Why do they get to be in 1st grade” It’s not fair!” And I have to agree with him, being a fall birthday myself. But I’m old enough to have been from the era when the cut-off was November 1st, so I got to be the young one in my class, and I loved it. I got to college when I was 17, and I was ready…I was very over high school by that point. I guess that is why this year hasn’t been some glorious extension of childhood, but rather a very long time-out.

Besides, like I hinted at earlier, I haven’t been the most stellar mom with these afternoons together. My middle son doesn’t play well by himself; he’s very social. And I am not the kind of mom who plays. I facilitate activities; I do not play with my children. This is why we had siblings and not only-children. So, my five-year-old has become very good at computer games and navigating our kid-friendly Netflix account. Bad mom, bad mom.

On the way to preschool, coming off of winter break, C yelled, “Goodbye Christmas Vacation, hello preschool!” I’m pretty sure his sentiments will be similar this fall when he shouts, “Goodbye Preschool, hello Kindergarten.” And I’ll be shouting right along with him. I just hope I haven’t made the wrong choice and instead of cheating him of his childhood, I’ve cheated him of being with his true friends. Nothing is worse than 12 years of knowing that you’ve been placed with the wrong group of peers.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Loving the New Toys!

I really am. I love the new toys my son got for his 3rd birthday! And I'm starting to think my evil plan of having a February baby is working...in the past I have hated February, this is when winter is getting a bit old for me and I wanted something to spice it up. And his birthday seems to be working: plan a party, have friends over, get some new toys to spice up the playtime etc. Also, I am getting better at spotting and suggesting new toys for birthdays. (It only took me three sons to get this down.)

My first happy toy is something called Constructables. A friend spotted this find because she knew how much A likes taking apart and putting things together. This toys is designed just for this. Maybe now he'll stop taking knobs off dressers? Probably not. But he can use these parts to build planes and cars and helicopters.

My second happy toy is a classic box of music and rhythm toys. Not sure why it took me more than seven years of parenting to finally buy this.

My third happy toy is a Stomp Rocket. I think the pictures are convincing enough.

My fourth happy toy is a Water Works Construction Set. All of my boys have loved this and it has cut down on the splashing in the bathtub. You can redesign the water flow system so it helps fuel problem solving and creativity. Remember, the best toys are 90% kid and 10% toy. (No judgement please on the tub. We have a lot of iron in our water.)

He got some other great things: Bigsby Books, Beyblades (Yes, and even girls like these.), backpack...we did good. If you have a little three-year-old boy to buy for you can't go wrong with any of these suggestions and they are all, happily, under 20 dollars.

Oh, and the interactive Thomas the Train card from Grammy was well loved.