Monday, December 5, 2011


A three-year-old mind is a hard thing to grasp. Or maybe I should say that a three-year-old mind has a hard time grasping. The dink's a mess lately trying to get several important concepts straight:

1. Birthdays are for celebrating when you came OUT of Mommy's tummy, a place to which you never, ever return. Leading up to D's birthday, he kept telling me with concern in his eyes and fear in his voice, "I don't want to go back in Mommy's tummy," as if I were threatening to whisk him away from his home and family at any given point and absorb him back into my abdominal prison. I kept reassuring him that I would never, ever do that. And I guess he finally believed me because weeks later, following his party, he started at it again, but this time with a different request and a much jollier tune: "I want to go back in Mommy's tummy! Because then the doctor can pull me out and I can grow and grow and grow and have another birthday!!!" Sigh.

2. We don't eat our poo-poo. Gross, right? And it's not like he's ever tried, but the subject came up one day while the dink was sitting on Mommy and Daddy's potty (his favorite place to poop) and thinking deep thoughts. He has a habit of making these random statements to me, with a slight lift in his voice at the end of the sentence, not like he's asking a full-blown question, but like he's attempting to state a fact and gauging my acceptance of it as true or false. This time it was "Mom, sometimes we eat our poo-poo." Of course my reply was at peak shriek and decibel level. "Declan, we never ever ever eat our poo-poo! That would make us very sick. And it's really, really yucky." It's possible that I even spit on the floor in disgust. And as usual when he makes an absurd statement like that, I asked him who told him that we eat our poo-poo. His response was matter-of-fact: Daddy. Oh really, I asked him. Yes, he confirmed. Declan, I said, I think I might give Dad a call at work right now to ask him about that. The response this time was less bold: tears. He then begged me not to call Dad, but still never clarified who had told him such a thing. Takeaways from the incident: The dink is clearly capable of lying and blaming things on other people in their absence, even his poor dad. But on a brighter note, he most certainly will never discuss the possibility of eating one's poo-poo again.

3. Not everything that one desires can be easily gotten by Mom "at the store." I realize that this three-year-old misgiving is mostly my own fault. He asks for something we don't have (bubblebath), and it's inexpensive and innocuous enough that I tell him I'll have to pick up some at the store. Usually it's a food item that we're simply out of--apples, goldfish, Cheerios--and when it reappears in the pantry or fridge, he always confirms with me: "Mom, you got more Cheerios at the store?" Lately the concept has expanded, though. He's asking me to go to the store to get him things like a shirt with a car on it, a Transformer that turns on, and a never-ending treat supply of ice cream, fruit snacks, and "orange Coke." The madness must stop! So now we're having these awkward discussions about the fact that even though most things he wants can be purchased at the store, Mom is not going to go to the store to buy them. Luckily, he hasn't started asking "why?" at the punctuation of each statement I make, so he's still taking my word as gospel.

4. For reasons that are very difficult to explain, we do not play the banana-fana game with Jesus's name. We just don't. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I experienced a parenting low last week. I keep telling myself that it could have happened to anyone, but as Jon put it so astutely after coming home and seeing the damage: “I cannot fathom how you possibly managed to do that…” It was possibly a unique event.

The gas light came on as I was driving to work in the morning. I could have gotten gas on my lunch break, but I didn’t because I couldn’t find a gas station that honored fuelperks. See, I just signed up for fuelperks at Winn Dixie, with a renewed enthusiasm to start shopping there again, and managed to rack up $0.50 a gallon in two weeks (we needed every single item, I promise). So I decided to wait to get gas on my way to daycare, where I knew I passed a fuelperks station…but turns out that one is on the wrong side of the road in the middle of private school traffic (all cars, no buses—one really long line on the street), so I made the executive decision that I could handle stopping for gas with the dink and baby K in the car on the way home.

Stay-at-home moms are probably appalled at my lack of ability to manage two children while performing a mindless routine task such as gas pumping. So let me first declare that I do actually accomplish many things (outside of childrearing) while solely supervising the duo. But this is the thing: when you’re away from your little ones all morning, the first hour you’re together in the afternoon is super-charged. They’re excited, needy, whiny, hungry, and both energetic after taking a nap (D) and deliriously wired after not taking a nap (K). In general, Keane cries the whole way home from daycare because he’s offended that I’m not holding him while traveling, and continues with the frustration, hanging on my leg, while I rush inside, get my breast milk in the fridge, fix Declan some juice, change clothes, go to the bathroom, get Declan his snack of the day, change 1-2 poopy diapers that happened while I was changing clothes, turn on Sesame Street, and…finally sit on the couch and let Keane nurse awhile until we’re all finally relaxed, comfortable, at home, together again. Aah.

But back to the gas station. Even though K was crying in the car, I pulled into the station advertising fuelperks near our house. Got out, frantically trying to read signage at the pump about how to claim your fuelperks. The dink immediately becomes impatient, begging me to get out of the car and “help,” and when I tell him no, he begins howling at peak decibel levels. I can’t figure out the stupid fuelperks thing, become incensed that the dink is acting so ridiculously, decide to abandon the situation completely, throw a hope into the universe that we won’t run out of gas on the way home, and jump back in the car, slam the door, as start scolding D about his behavior as I pull away from the pump…into one of those stupid, short, concrete little poles. But the noise level is so high in the car that I don’t hear it at first, scraping alongside my driver door. By the time the crunching noise registers in my head, the pole has moved on to the dink’s door.

Yes, I eventually realize that I am single-handedly inflicting $4,000 worth of damage on my vehicle with an immobile object. And in my frenzied attempt to drive away from the gosh-darn pole, I manage to reintroduce the object into the side of my car, moving back, then forward, then back…until finally three men come to rescue me from my absurdity. Two physically push the car away from the pole while the third hovers over me at the wheel, making sure I “Cut it hard, hard!” And alas, I was free.

My “Aah” moment was much delayed that day, needless to say. But the all-time low I experienced in the aftermath of the incident was really not about the car, it was more about my state of mind when dealing with the boys. It’s one thing for me to sometimes pull into the parking lot at work at 7 a.m. and not remember driving there only moments before, but it’s another thing all together for me to let my frustration at their cries render me blind to ordinary driving obstacles, when they’re right there in the car with me. A scary realization, and a lesson learned: fuelperks is not worth it. Damn you, Winn Dixie.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


 I know I've said before that the Dink is a sensitive one, but lately this aspect of his personality has really bloomed. Especially about his mommy (can't help but smile). He's getting more cuddly and like a real person in his affections (less like a busy toddler who finds things like hugs overly restraining). When he wakes up in the morning, he grabs his doggy lovey and heads straight for either my bed where he can get in and snuggle with dad, or for the couch, where he can cover himself with a blanket and lay his head on pillows while enjoying his juice and Cheerios. Of course, ten minutes later, he's usually on the floor doing the hot-dog dance with Mickey Mouse. But there's at least that initial period of morning snuggles that is so good.

The mommy thing is nearing extreme, though. It's usually inspired by seeing pairs of animals, cartoon characters, inanimate objects, you name it, where the dink can use his imagination to distinguish one as a child and one as a mommy. Upon inspiration, he uses this kind of whiny, isn't-that-so-cute, so-sweet-i-wanna-cry tone of voice and says "Aww, he's got his mommy." And he drags out the word mommy into two or three syllables. Many times, he'll hug me spontaneously and while patting my shoulder say, "I got my mommmmmmy." To which I'm supposed to respond "I've got my (insert kitty, Bob the Builder, lion...whatever I'm instructed by the dink to call him that day)". His favorite time to do this is after his bath. I use all of my body strength to pick him up out of the tub, towel ready on my chest, and wrap him up and dry him off as he hugs my neck and practically wipes a tear from his eye as he squeaks "I got my mommy!"

The other night, after a weekend full of play outside in the backyard, J discovered 2-3 splinters in the dink's hand. Naturally, this discovery took place while I was in the shower, and J couldn't wait until I got out to take a needle to the dink's poor little hand and pry them out. I was toweling off in the bedroom when the dink walks in, completely red, wet-faced and shaking, looking for a hug. J tells me that, though he was brave, the dink cried hysterically throughout the process, repeating "I want my mommy!" the whole time. So I gave him a good hug, and he got a Mickey Mouse band-aid, and was feeling better quickly, though still a little shaky. I offered to read him his bed-time books, which included a favorite, Are You My Mother? I snuggled close to the dink on the couch, with our pillows and blankets, and read slowly. When we get to the part where the baby bird starts crying and yells "I want my mother!", the dink stops me from turning the page, puts his finger on the baby bird's scrunched up face, his tears from earlier starting to pour again as he looks at me and says "He...wants...his...mommmmmmmmmy."

Oh, dink. I love you, too.        

Monday, October 17, 2011


The dink made his first joke recently. Admittedly, it was a little blasphemous, but J and I cracked up for a good 4-5 minutes anyway.

Dink's at that age where he repeats, and even more scary, remembers just about everything you say. And even if he doesn't quite get all the syllables right in your choice phrase, no matter, because he can somehow pick up the exact context of when to use the phrase, so when he repeats it in public at just the right awkward moment, you can be sure everyone will know what he meant to say. Not that I'm trash talking around him. But having him around repeating my every exasperated expression lately is making me realize that there is always room to improve...
 Anyway, we were in the car, on the way home from mass one Sunday, when something prompted the dink to exclaim "Oh my gosh!" Which prompted me to suggest to the dink that instead of saying that entire expression, how about we just say "Oh my!" and leave it at that. Which prompted J to suggest another alternative expression, slightly more off-color than the original: "Hey D, how about you say Holy Cow!"? And of course the dink cracked up at that. So J took it further: what about Holy Mackerel!? The dink laughed even harder. And then, reaching deep into his short-term memory for inspiration, he delivered his first punchline: "Holy Ketchup!" 

J and I just kept giggling, looking at each other with wild, surprised eyes that our little baby boy was capable of such sophisticated thinking. Daddy, who loves delivering his own original, self-crafted punchlines more than just about anything in life, was proudest. I had stop laughing a moment early, though, to reflect on my failed attempt to instill a higher moral standard in the language of my family. But oh well; it was pretty damn funny.

Friday, September 23, 2011


People are constantly telling me how much the dink and baby K look alike, especially the people who knew the dink as an infant, like daycare workers and friends. I've always agreed in their lookalikeness. Right after K was born, I told my family that when I looked at him for the first time, I had the strange sensation that I'd had the same baby twice. But that soon changed. After time, after you've stared at your child intently for so long that you've memorized every single aspect of its face, you start to only look at the eyes. You scan over the blueberry stains on their lips and peanut butter in their hair and ever-present bruises on their legs and focus on reading into what each and every look of theirs is communicating. And that's where my two boys differ.

They're both sensitive, I'll give them that. But for D, his sensitivity is almost tactile. When you fuss at him, it doesn't just hurt his feelings, it physically hurts his ears. He responds to almost all of my admonitions with a pitiful "Don't yell at me, Mommy!" And his eyes, pained. Deep down, or maybe not that deep but beyond the surface for sure (i.e. not always in line with his actions) he just wants to be perfect--to do the right thing, have the right answer, to please and to respond in a way that meets or exceeds everyone's expectations. I supposed he's a "classic" first born.

But K isn't as concerned with what people think. (This is the kid who cried for four months straight, after all.) The other day, a nice lady in Sam's was trying to make K smile, and after 8-9 attempts, just when I thought (prayed) that he was finally on the verge of giving this poor lady at least a grin, he started crying right in her face. Even though he had been giggling his head off at my antics only moments earlier. K is quite selective in the people he wants to please. But still sensitive. He loves to be caressed and cuddled like nobody's business. Early on in daycare, two of his teachers told me in their own ways that they had discovered that baby K went to sleep easier when he was snuggled up super, super close, and even allowed to place his hand in someone's cleavage. And he's not growing out of it. When we were at the beach recently, I realized that his eyes would roll back in his head in pleasure every time I gently rubbed the sunscreen into his face and scalp.

And at the tender age of 8 months, he's learned what it means when Mommy says "no"; his eyes are so tender at the sound of my firm voice. I remember taking D to his 9 month doc appointment, and Dr. W. asking me his series of questions to gauge the dink's developmental milestones. One question was "Does he understand when you tell him no?" And I laughed to myself at the time. What in the world would I have to tell him no about? He didn't get into the trash (Keane), didn't put random objects his mouth (Keane), and didn't crawl up the shower curtain and pull it back to let water spray all over the bathroom every time I took a shower (Keane). At the time, I truly couldn't fathom ever fussing at baby dink. But poor K--he's been hearing no for months now. And finally responding. Not only does he stop what he's doing in his tracks, but he startles, looks at me with his intense blue eyes not like he's hurt that I would fuss at him, but like he can't believe he got caught. I have to admit, my hands feel pretty full right now. I hesitate a bit for when my cup runneth over...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Two boys

It's becoming more obvious as the weeks and months go by just how different the dink and his little brother are. As Baby K's personality, like his physical development, is exploding at the seams, facets of the Dink's personality are simultaneously revealing themselves. In some ways, I'm realizing that you can't get to know your first child's personality traits fully when they are your only. Because unless you've had the occasion to know many other babies intimately in your life, you have nothing to compare your baby to. So when the second one comes along, you start reflecting on the way number one was as it relates to how number two is. And so it is with me and my boys.

Dink was consistently behind on most of his milestones--sitting up, crawling, getting teeth, saying his first word, etc. But K--I can't keep up with him. He just turned 8 months a couple days ago, and already he is crawling like lightning across a room, can clap his hands, wave back at someone, say "hey" and "yay" and even "mama", most recently! He has even already pulled up a few times. It's so strange to me because in my mind, I still regard him as an infant, tensing up each night as I go to bed, wondering what the night will bring. But although it's true that he has only slept through the night twice in his entire life, his daytime behavior is far from infant-like. While my heart is rejoicing that the fussy days are finally gone, it is clenching to see him blowing through babyhood at such a pace. I just wish that I could steal my favorite moments at this age--like the biggest grins and gasps of excitement he gets just from seeing me, and that insanely precious way his nose wrinkles when he is grinning at me on the verge of laughter, and save that for when I have time to truly appreciate it and enjoy it to its fullest...I hate thinking about losing the memory of how amazing those moments feel.

The other night J was putting the dink to bed, and he mistakenly closed the door to the dink's bedroom as the dink was blowing him a kiss goodnight...which promptly ended with the dink bursting into genuine tears, not just hysterics, brokenhearted that daddy would ignore his kiss. It took J a few minutes when he went back in the dink's room to even understand what he was so upset about, but when he did, he of course blew the dink a big fat kiss goodnight. Then he came out, told me the story, and said that the whole experience "made him feel so amazing."

It's the stuff like that that I can't get enough of, and am so scared will go away before I even realize it and then I'll be dying to just remember what those moments were like. And maybe K will give us totally different experiences to cherish (or endure). Like I said in the beginning, they are definitely two different kids. Point in case: this past weekend, dink was playing with a fire truck or Legos or something, and Baby K sidled up to him, swatting at the toy in his hand. As usual, dink half screamed, half roared at K to scare him away--a tactic which has worked quite well for a couple months. Usually, K ends up scared and crying, and I end up interfering. But this time, at 8 months and 1 day old, K lunged at the dink and let out a scream/roar twice as big as the dink had proffered. And guess what? Dink ended up crying. Papa was there to witness Baby K's first attempt to stand up for himself and laughed all day about it. Aaaahh, can't wait to see what these two do next.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I think "terrible twos" hit around 2.5 years old for the dink, so we're just now really getting in the trenches. Example: yesterday.

I picked up D and K from daycare at the normal time, and as we were walking to the car, the same SUV that I've been picking them up in every day since we bought it four months ago, the dink starts asking me in this panicky, tearful voice: "Mommy's little black car? Mommy, you got your little black car back??" To which I tell him no, as usual, Daddy has Mommy's little black car now, and he's at work. To which he responds by bursting into tears. Okay.

Then to the car. After I check his seatbelt (he has to fasten it himself of course), I lean in for a kiss. But today he doesn't want a kiss and turns his head. I ask him again for a kiss, but: "I don't want to kiss Mommy today!" so I shut his car door and jump in the driver's seat. At which point he begins howling. What's wrong, dink? Tears streaming, sweat pouring. Have I mentioned that it's 102 degrees outside and I haven't even started the car? And in heels, of course. Somehow that makes everything more difficult. "I want to kiss Mommy!!!" Okay, dink. Let's kiss.

Then in the car. I say "Whew, it's hot! We need to turn on the air!" But apparently I was wrong. Because the dink starts in: No mommy! We not turn on the air! We not turn on the aaaaiiirrrr!" Wow. But this time, we turned on the air.

It pretty much continued like that until we got home. He got upset when I said it was getting cloudy, and when I stopped at the stop signs. But later told me that he "had a good day" and yelled "we're home!" when we got there like he actually wanted to reside with me. I just have to believe that this, too, shall pass, and that it's not true what people say--that 3 years old is now the new 2.

On a brighter note, there is K in that pic being cute as can be playing in my coupons. And today on the way home, D told me "I like Mommy's hair," and that was kind of nice.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


I haven't spent enough time writing about Baby K since he was born, already six months ago. I'd say the process of integrating a second child into your life, your every thought, your future plans, and even correspondence with others is gradual, or has been for me at least. I don't know if this is universal. I've heard plenty people say that, while pregnant, though you can't comprehend the ability to love a second child as much as you love your first, when the child is born, you find a whole nother heart's worth of love and affection for that second baby that equals the first. And I believe that it happens that way for many people. But for me, it really just took time.

K was born as precious as they come, complete with a triangle head and smushed nose, and skin so red that the pediatrician checked his blood count at one week old to make sure he was normal. And I rejoiced in holding him against me most of our entire stay in the hospital, so happy that he was finally on the outside and that I wasn't pregnant anymore and could pat his little booty and smell his milk breath. And all of that was normal and wonderful and lasted until I got home and saw the burden it was for the dink to not have my full attention almost ever, and as soon as I quit taking painkillers for my stitches, Baby K's complete monopolization of my person increased tenfold. He cried the entire day long, from 2 weeks old until 10 weeks or so, at which point his misery only slightly diminished. His daytime naps lasted only 15 minutes, unless he was attached to my breast, and his nighttime sleep consisted of 2-3 hour naps, which ended at 4 a.m. when the night's repeated nursings culminated in gas and reflux too unbearable to be settled by patting, swinging, swaying, singing, dancing, jumping, praying, or even more nursing. Needless to say, J and I were both exhausted, and D somewhat neglected. But the biggest problem then was that when K would cry, it didn't kill me like it should have. Maybe because I heard it so much. Maybe because D managed to cry louder, when I had been holding K in my arms from the time he got home from daycare until J arrived--about 4 hours. Or maybe because I was crying along with him half the time, wondering why I couldn't have a baby who could be set down long enough for me to make breakfast, or why he couldn't be held contentedly on my lap sitting down instead of needing to be bounced around all the time just to distract him from the misery of being awake, or being alive, I sometimes felt.

I can write this today without feeling like the worst mother in world only because K at six months is not the same baby I begrudgingly bounced at six weeks. And I am not the same mother. When K was 9.5 weeks, on Ash Wednesday, I went on an extreme elimination diet to try to resolve K's apparent gastrointestinal misery. And it worked...slowly. By 16 weeks or so, he finally started to take on human-like qualities, quit with the horrific gas and diarrhea, and even started smiling when I walked into the room. And so did I. And for the past two months, I have finally experienced the process that most new mothers go through in the first month of their baby's life--the obsessive, all-encompassing, uncontrollable love and compassion and every other good feeling in the world for that baby. To make him smile by doing something silly and then repeat it 50 times tirelessly, enjoying just the reward of that grin or laugh. To want to smell every inch of him and memorize it, making a mental catalog of tummy, breath, hair. To worry that he'll quit breathing at least once a night, if not a dozen. To sigh contentedly along with him as he falls asleep in your arms. To well up with tears at the slightest suggestion that harm could come his way. I just love that baby like crazy now. And I expect the dink to love his brother, in spite of taking away from his attention, because I need K to be happy just as much as I need D.

Today, it's like everyone told me before. You always have room to love one more. Once they're there, you won't remember life without them. God knows what he's doing, and there is no gift greater than life. Though well worth the wait to finally experience these feelings, it has been a process. But now I can finally say that we're healed, and it feels so good.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


The dink had his first big trip away from us--an entire week spent at Nana and Pop's house three hours away. It wasn't something I was particularly excited about--actually, the impending week caused me more stress than I'd like to admit throughout the entire month of May--but I packed him up with his loveys and little blue pillow and his swim diapers and Go Dog Go! and sent him on his way for seven long days and nights (long for me, that is--the dink still can't tell time).

One of the dink's best qualities is his enthusiasm. He's by far the most enthusiastic person I've ever met in my entire life, rivaled only by one of my best friends, Colleen. (And though Colleen's enthusiasm has remained remarkable into adulthood, knowing her as a teen allowed me to understand that sometimes maintaining that level of hype takes work. But for the dink, at 2.5 years's still effortless.) He gets excited about his cheerios in the morning, or seeing Mickey Mouse on tv. He's thrilled about eating cheese and crackers or getting a cup of juice, or playing Playdoh, or going to the grocery store with Mommy (super excited on that one), or even just putting on his clothes sometimes ("Mommy, I get dressed!!"). I wish I could understand where that motivation comes from at such a young age, to keep a happy face in midst of mundanity, or even fear, or while learning to share me so sweetly with his baby brother. When he was a baby, people used to comment on what a happy little guy he was as if it was something remarkable, and I would think, he's a baby, what does he have to be sad about? But as he gets older, the more remarkable it really does seem. Don't all parents think some quality about their child is noteworthy? I think this is the dink's best feature. I try not to bore people with the "listen to how smart my child is" stories, or suppose that he will one day play professional sports every time he dribbles a soccer ball across the yard, or hurls some other object over the backyard fence...but now when someone comments on what a happy boy I have, I do indulge in a quiet smile to myself, envision a high-five to J, and take a little credit for that...even though I truly don't understand how he does it.

When the dink returned from Nana and Pop's after his long séjour, he carried an armful of lovies and stuffed snakes and his little blue pillow to his room to put back in his bed. I turned on the light, and the rejoicing commenced. "Mommy, my room! My trucks, mommy! My clothes! My little car! My booookkksss!!!" And I just stood there, grinning, silently rejoicing with him. My child! My child! My child!!!

Though D was nothing less than ecstatic about getting to see his "friends" again at daycare that first week after coming back, he couldn't quite yell "bye!" with his usual gusto when I left for work one morning. He followed me to the door to watch me get in the car, and I tried to make him laugh by telling him "Bye, sugar. Bye, honey." which is part of a game we usually play in the car. And he just stood there looking through the screen door at me, trying so hard to smile at me, but the little corners of his mouth kept turning down, and his eyes were all sadness. But even as his tears were forming, he was still trying to make himself smile. Oh, dink. Now witnessing that sweet effort can definitely make you late for work. But it only took a few hugs and kisses and a brief pep talk to get him back on his feet. And though I felt like a jerk all morning long for being a working mom at all, I was still glad to know that I was missed. I imagine that one benefit to having a clingy child would be knowing that child always needs you. And the downside of having a confident, independent child is wondering if he even needs you at all. I think with the dink, we got the best of both worlds.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Aptly-timed with Easter fast approaching, Jesus has been a hot topic for the dink lately. One thing I love about his daycare is that it's run by a church, so Jesus-themed arts and crafts and weekly jam sessions with the "chapel ladies" are institutions. Since singing and dancing are probably the dink's favorite two activities (he is his father's son after all), it's no surprise that he can recite all the words to Jesus Loves Me, and that he can't hear me sing He's Got the Whole World in His Hands without performing the requisite hand motions. But at this age, I can only imagine that Jesus to him has similar meaning to Elmo and Handy Manny--other beloved characters in his life that he's never met outside of books, play figures, and tv.

What has always amazed me is how the dink accepts, and expects, to see these figures at any given moment, in any given setting. Elmo could literally show up on food items at the grocery store, on stickers at the doctor's office, on his shoes, his socks, his diapers, his lunch bag...I'm certainly not saying that the dink has so many Elmo-themed items, but that it's reasonable for him to see Elmo anywhere. And so it is with Handy Manny, and with Jesus. I was playing videos of garbage trucks on YouTube for him recently when one of the truck drivers had a beard and mustache. The dink starting whining "Jeee-sus...Mommy, see Jeee-sus" in the same exact tone of voice he uses when asking me for fruit snacks. I had to scurry to find a Jesus-themed children's video as fast as possible. Another time, he got away with making me agree to "one more book" before bedtime because he picked up The Easter Story and begged me to "Read Jesus, Mommy." At least that time the character was in the right setting.

The dink's "friends" are big characters in his life as well. That's how they refer to all of the other children at daycare. He's been reciting "Be nice to your friends" for quite awhile, but has recently upgraded that instruction to "It's not nice to make your friends sad." I'm not sure how the Jesus character fits into these lessons at school, but I'm thinking I need to find a bridge. I had a college roommate who loved to contribute to conversations with "something (can't remember) and lies make the baby Jesus cry." I think I'll hold off on that one, though, and perhaps try praying instead that maybe, just maybe, Jesus will come to life this Easter in places that none of his character friends have yet to transcend.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Deuce is three months old now, which means that he is finally starting to act like a person, as opposed to the howling animal he's been mimicing for so many weeks. And along with his acquirement of people skills like smiling, laughing, making eye contact, and using his voice in a conversational manner, he's also acquired a new friend...

Dink was watching Sesame Steet the other day, and the segment was about friends. Now, the dink knows all about being "nice to your friends," a lesson that's apparently repeated daily at "school" (daycare). And I've been told for months that he is attached at the hip to a little troublemaker named Rylan in his class who frequently gets put in timeout (of course my dink never has to go to timeout, but he's definitely developed a healthy fear of it from watching his friends suffer). On Sunday nights, when I'm telling the dink that the next day is a school day, he tells me "go see your friends," and Rylan is usually at the top of the list of friends he'll see. (Randomly, though, it's a little girl named Gia that shows up among our list of family that we "God Bless..." in our prayers.) Anyway, after watching Sesame Street, I quizzed Declan on the friend situation. The conversation went like this:

ME: Who was Big Bird's best friend?

DINK: Teddy bear.

ME: Who was Ernie's best friend?

DINK: Bert.

ME: Who is your best friend? (I was anticipating Rylan. Instead I got the sweetest surprise...)

DINK: Baby Keane.

So both Dink and Deuce, and the whole Womack family scored big on that one. Deuce finally gained acceptance, and a friend that he'll treasure for life. Dink melted Mommy's heart with his sweetness and sincerity. And the Womack family unit as a whole breathed a sigh of relief that maybe it won't crumble after all from a permanent rift in its infrastructure.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mardi Gras

The dink, as usual, continues to amuse, amaze, and ambush me with his limitless enthusiasm, joy, and insatiability for the smallest details of his little life. His daycare teacher left me a note the other day that when she announced to the class that it was time to read a book and sing songs (everyday occurrence), the dink yelled "Oh boy!" and shrieked with excitement. That's just classic dink for ya.

He's also known to reach peak excitement over things like eating strawberries, going to the grocery store, watching Toy Story 3, and hearing Daddy come home. I wonder if this is simply a personality trait of the dink that he's inherited from his dad (I could see J acting like this as a kid--me, I haven't reached peak excitement since I got my hands on the Babysitter's Club Super Special #5 Winter Vacation book in the fourth grade), or if this is how all kids act when their worlds are so small that getting a pirate sticker for teeteeing on the potty is somewhat equivalent to me getting a 20% pay raise. I guess only time will tell.

I remember when the dink was a baby, only cooing and crying for communication, and I would think that I couldn't wait until he was talking because I was so curious to know what he'd say. Now we're definitely at that stage where he says cute and funny things all the time, but we're only just now getting a peek at how his little brain works. Sometimes I think he's genius, and sometimes that he hasn't got a clue, but I'm never in doubt of his charm, his sensitivity, or his humor. Again, traits from his dad. I'm pretty sure all he inherited from me is fat cheeks, short legs, and long eyelashes.

Some of the dink's recent highlights:

  • Getting really good at using possessives, and assigning ownership to everything he sees. "That's daddy's tools, not mommy's", etc. But when it belongs to him: "That's my's!" I don't know how he hasn't figured out such a classic 2-year-old expression, but I enjoy it too much to correct him.
  • I asked him to throw away a grocery bag full of trash into the big trashcan in the kitchen. Turns out the big trashcan was already full. So D pulls out the milk carton on the top of the trash to make room for his bag, smashes down the trash in the can, presses his bag down into it, and replaces the milk carton--end result was that the trash can was less full than when he had begun. This is something his Papa would be so proud of.
  • Saying "Mommy, hold you" and "Mommy, help you" when he needs hugs and help.
  • Showing affection for the strangest objects, like drawings of cats in his books, or 3-inch figurines of Elmo and a trashman. He makes sort of a pouty face, draws his eyebrows together, and pulls the book/inanimate object to his shoulder, with his head pressed down, and gives it a "hug." He's very serious about it to, this hugging of books.
  • Taking Mardi Gras by storm. I mean, this kid was scooping those beads off the ground and throwing them around his neck like he'd been doing it for years. Every time another float came, he'd say, "Mommy, it's a [insert color] one!" Total sensory overload. And of course he could never get enough, even after we took him to the Bogalusa parade in the pouring rain. He's still asking me for more beads, and more parades.
  • Skipping that whole "Mommy, I want..." phase and going straight to "Mommy, I need..." And the list never ends. In an afternoon, he'll typically declare that at the very least he needs juice, milk, a kite, a dog, a treat, to watch Toy Story, and cake.
  • Getting good at telling stories. Really cute ones. Today I asked him what he did at school today, and he told me that he played on the playground, he jumped, and he bumped heads with the sky. Does it get any better than that???

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Well, it's been a long time since I've taken a moment to write about what the dink's been experiencing, been learning, been teaching me...but it doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it. Since baby #2, "deuce", arrived three weeks ago, the dink has been constantly on my mind.

I guess we didn't do due diligence in preparing the dink for the arrival of his baby brother. Sure, we added "baby brother" to the prayer list at night, and we taught him how to point to mommy's belly (and consequently daddy's belly and his own belly) when asked the question "Where's the baby?", but I didn't delve into books on today's theories about how to welcome a second child into a single-child situation where, by all obvious perceptions, #1 appears to be 100% content with his uniqueness. And I'm sort of regretting it now.

I've seen a new side of the dink since deuce arrived--a side of him I would have been happy to go my whole life never seeing. My mom says he's acting like a typical two-year-old. But what I see is a confused little boy who vacillates between two approaches to handling the new baby situation: 1) trying to put on a happy face, saying "hi, baby k!" when he sees his little brother, sharing his doggy lovey with him when he's fussing, and trying to climb into my lap when I'm holding him so he can ask me to say "my two boys!"...this is the approach that melts my heart and makes me proud of his glass-half-full view of the world and his ability to smile even when he's hurting. But then there's 2) exerting every ounce of control over me that he's spent the past two years building (I'll admit to being only partially aware of this), using whining, crying, and screaming frequently as primary forms of communication, and generally expressing his anger at me if not the whole world through those handy 2-year-old vehicles of temper tantrums, refusal to comply with very basic requests (getting dressed, taking a bath, etc), and frequent use of the words no, mine, do it!, and gguuuunnnmmmm--a multi-functional sound of extreme displeasure. This is the dink that infuriates me, saddens me, and drives me to question why we think we're qualified to raise a second child when the results of the first one are less than admirable... So I'm just praying that this, too, is another "phase" that will pass as quickly as the newborn baby struggles of fussing-all-day and up-all-night.

When my sister was a teenager, she was a door slammer. It used to drive my parents crazy, especially when she slammed her bedroom door upstairs. My dad claimed it shook the whole house. I remember one time, after a heated shouting match with my dad, my sister slammed her bedroom door for final punctuation. When my dad came upstairs soon after to tell me goodnight, I promised him that I would never fight with him the way that my sister did. Of course, that turned out to be a lie. Yet here I am, staring desperately into deuce's blue bug eyes and pleading with him already to not act like the dink when he is two years old, or any other time. But I can see, as I sway him right and left ever so gently, careful to rock him to sleep with the most agreeable rhythm, that he's already exerting his power over me, and I have no will to fight him. So here we are, and here we go again.