What we learn from children’s books

Every night Grey has not been direly disobedient, we read him three books. His favorite books are the Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer and this terrible ’70s era book of nursery rhymes that neither Skarps nor I can stand. Lately, though, he’s been branching out.

Last night, he asked me to read “Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Henkes to him. The eponymous young mouse in question is doted upon and adored by her parents, who think her name is absolutely perfect, just like her. Then she goes to school where Rita and Jo and Victoria make fun of her because her name is soooo long and flowers live in the dirt! And Chrysanthemum “wilts”. Every night she comes home depressed to her mom and dad and they give her her favorite foods and play parcheesi and apply hugs and reinforcement and tell her they love her (while reading child psychology books in the background).

This is not actually a story for the kids. This is a story for the parents doing the reading. This is about sending your child to school, and having other kids be mean to your child. This is about the limits of what parental love can make all better.

Man, is that a hard lesson to hear. You want to think that your child will never want for love or affection because you have SO MUCH love for them that it will clearly meet all the needs they might ever have for love or affection. But no. Starting about now, Grey wants friends to like him too. Someday, he will care very very much for friends. And then it will be lovers. Some day he will want someone to love him in a way his parents cannot. And some very distant day he will take a partner and their bond will be greater than our bond.

Ouch. All this from a book about a mouse named Chrysanthemum.

This morning the time came to go to daycare. This used to be a very un-fraught transaction, but lately he hasn’t wanted to go to daycare. I worried that it was about the particular daycare. But the latter part of this week he’s going to his backup daycare, and has had the same reaction. This morning he was weeping BITTER TEARS about having to go to daycare (well, and because I turned off the tv). I asked him why he didn’t want to go to daycare.

“No friends.”

That sound you just heard? That was my heart breaking. Because you know what? There’s nothing I can do about it when Grey is the outsider, and other kids don’t want to play with him. He’s so friendly and outgoing. But he’s 2 still, and his social skills still involve pretending to be a kitty cat. And sometimes other kids don’t want to play with him. And that is life.

I moved a lot when I was a girl. I was in 6 different schools by the time I was 9. I spent a lot of time not having friends, even though I was also pretty outgoing and friendly. I was weird. I was an outsider. I read too much and used big words. They already had friends. I think I am a happy adult, but there were some very bitter moments of loneliness in my childhood. And my parents loved me with all the love it was possible to give, and supported me. I think that’s how I got to happy adult anyway. But oh! My son. How sad it is to realize that so very soon, the vast depths of my love for you will not be able to make everything ok.

This is what happens every night while dinner is being made
This is what happens every night while dinner is being made

I’m TRYING to sleep

I am entering the stage of life where half my conversation topics revolve around cute things my child has said recently. (Seeing as I’m pregnant, the other half are currently unmentionable bodily functions.) Grey’s language is really starting to develop and flower. He keeps surprising me with the words he knows and the concepts he expresses. He’s moving beyond the basic communication of needs and wants and into the realms of ideas. It is unutterably thrilling to hear your child communicate a thought that came from his own fresh and fruitful perspective.

So on to the anecdote. Monday nights are our game night. Grey stays up for dinner, maybe rolls a few dice with us, and then gets put to bed. Sometimes he even stays there. Anyway, last night held true to form and I put Grey to bed. It was a warm and muggy night last night, so the windows were open on both floors, and Grey’s room is right above the dining room. Our games happen to include rather significant amounts of, well, laughter and joking. About 20 minutes after he’d been put to bed, Grey came to the top of the stairs and yelled down at us that we were being too noisy. A. went upstairs to close the windows so Grey wouldn’t be disturbed. He came back, laughing.

Apparently my son, who doesn’t usually object to goofing off after bedtime, put his hands on his hips and firmly told his father, “Stop laughing. It not funny. I trying  to sleep!”

To the child’s credit, he did then go to sleep, and stayed that way until 7:30 this morning. Ah, blessed sleep!

This morning was our second morning in the “Big Boy” carseat. I wanted to take a picture of the car while it was, you know, clean. This seems worth preserving for posterity. Grey said, “Hi Grandma!” right before this picture was taken, and wanted to know why Grandma didn’t say hi back. Given the crossover between cell phones and digital cameras, he might have had a reasonable expectation. Anyway, “Hi grandma!”

Hi Grandma!
"Hi Grandma!"

Status Change

I am 25, and have been married (very happily) for four years.

Today, I changed statuses. Two (2) of my dearest friends asked me when we were going to have a baby.

There have been other signs. My brother didn’t check his email, and when informed by my parents that he needed to talk to his sister because she had *news*… he thought it was me. The kids in my Sunday School class keep bugging me to have kids. It’s unanimous. The rest of the world has decided we should procreate.

I guess I should be glad for the four year hiatus. But it’s kind of weird.