It was bound to happen. Anyone who takes a small child into a store knows the risk involved. We talk about paying for things and what honesty means, but deep down, I kind of knew my 2.5 year old just wasn’t there yet.
I remember the first time I stole something. I must have been about four. My mother and I were in some sort of fabric store and there was this really awesome patch that I had to have for my tiny jeans. I don’t remember asking for it and I don’t remember taking it. I do remember my mother marching me back in the store to return the contraband and to make sure the ladies behind the counter knew she was taking care of the situation.
When I saw the avocado my son had stealthily removed from the checker’s shelf, I had immediate flashbacks to my own brush with the law. I pictured blue lights surrounding our Honda Fit in the parking lot, “Put down the avocado and no one gets hurt!” I imagined my son’s face as they cuffed him and put him in the back of the paddy wagon with the other wayward toddlers.
To save him from what would obviously be a very slippery slope towards a life of crime, I simply went back in and paid for the avocado. We talked about what it means to steal and I told him I was sad he had done that. He seemed to be processing as he looked up at the ever-cloudy sky, the pensive look of a man who knows what he has done. He turned to me as I awaited the lightbulb moment, “Mama? Can I have gum now?”
And that, my friends, is what I continue to learn every day about having a toddler.
I have been thinking a lot about what I want to teach my son. I want to teach him to be a compassionate man who stands up for what he believes in, even if it is uncomfortable. Part of his education comes from exposure to different people and situations, so tonight, despite S and me being fairly exhausted, we packed up the kid and the crazy dog and headed downtown. We joined an estimated 10,000 other people to raise our voices in unison in opposition to the archaic laws being passed by North Carolina legislators in Raleigh. (http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/05/3083774/moral-monday-protests-heading.html , https://twitter.com/asheville/status/364517682424471552)
I used to be a lot more political. When I had a shaved head and wore really baggy jeans (so baggy, my college soccer coach and one of my teammates each got in a leg…at the same time), I would scream loud and pump my fist for whatever cause I was supporting. As my hair grew out and my pants shrank, I still showed-up, but was maybe not as loud as I once was. Now, half the time I don’t know what I am wearing or the state of my hair, I show-up and observe. I am not often holding a sign, or speaking out. I am just there.
Brining M to these events is sometimes
nerve-wracking. There were a LOT of people today. Dogs and strollers and big signs to dodge. Counter protestors to make the blood boil. It was hot and loud and…really important. M might not know exactly what is going on, but he sees all kind of people coming together to support and uplift and to inspire change. That is why we take him.
Part of the legacy I will leave for my son is the belief that people, together, can change the world. It has happened again and again. So, even when we are tired and grumpy and whatever else, we still show up for our neighbors and ourselves.
Posted in General Parenting
Tagged asheville moral monday, lesbian, lesbian parenting, lgbt, lgbt parenting, moral monday protests, non-bio, non-bio mom, non-gestational, political activism with kids, queer, queer parenting
My son is in love with his bunny. Baby Bunny Betsy, if you will. Today, for the first time in his life, he took a stuffed animal in the car and to the playground. He held on tight to her while they climbed and went down the twisty slide or while steering the car or whatever adventure was on tap. This is big for my boy as he has never really attached to one object.
The past four or five days, Bunny is where it is at. He will tell me that she is crying, then rush off to the rocking chair because rocking calms her. When he drinks water in bed while trying to fall asleep (which is often), he makes sure bunny has some too, “But not too much so she doesn’t pee in the bed.”
The best part of all of this was when he said this morning, “I’m a really great papa!” He said it over and over again, thrilled with the fact that he had made the connection between caring for something and being a parent. I was thrilled to see this blatant example of the empathic, nurturing boy we are raising. In that moment, I felt proud. One day, when he is holding his own child (way,way,way down the road), I will remind him of this early practice and of how he was meant for the role.
Posted in General Parenting, Raising Boys, Toddlerhood
Tagged lesbian, lesbian parenting, lgbt, lgbt parenting, non-gestational, non-gestational mother, nurture play, queer, queer parenting, sweet boys, toddlerhood
I made a decision the moment I looked into my son’s eyes to never lie to him. We talk about where meat comes from and what it means to die. We don’t do Santa Claus and won’t do the Tooth Fairy. I know that may sound harsh. That’s just the way it is. (Don’t worry: He finds magic in lots of other places!)
What I haven’t decided is if making-up stories counts as lying? I think not? Here is the situation: A few nights ago we three were deep into battle over flossing and brushing M’s teeth. He was yelping and covering his mouth with both hands anytime one of us came near. Exhausted, we watched as M darted for the door only to find S’s foot holding it closed. He didn’t notice her foot and just kept tugging at the door, getting frustrated and then, finally, giving up.
At that moment, it dawned on me (maybe on S…but let’s pretend it was me for the sake of the story): Here is a golden opportunity to change to game. So, I/we told him that the door had a magic spell on it and wouldn’t open until he flossed, brushed and said the magic words, ‘hocus, pocus, open the door-us’.
Can you guess what happened next? You are right! It fucking worked! Four nights running, we have not battled over his oral hygiene. There have been no battle of wills. If it looks like one is coming down the pike, we just invoke the magic spell and ta-da!
I realize that this story may have us crossing very close to lying territory. That part I am not so keen on. The lack of battles? Well, that I love.
Posted in General Parenting, Toddlerhood
Tagged lesbian, lesbian parenting, lgbt, lgbt parenting, non-bio, non-bio mom, non-gestational, queer, queer parenting, toddler boy, toddler teeth brushing battles, toddlerhood, toddlers
As my son was falling asleep tonight, green bouncy ball in one hand, he started whispering something to me. There was just enough light in the room for me to recognize the white of his teeth as he smiled. “jaja-jo” was what I heard. I asked him to repeat. It came across the same. “Once more?” I asked knowing I was now pulling him farther from sleep. “Cujo,” he said loudly with a bigger smile.
“That’s what you call our dog. Why do you call him that?”
“I’ll tell you when you are bigger.”
Their tiny brains are amazing. He sits there watching the light disappear outside his windows, running through the events of the day. Eyes wide open, his breathing deepens as he remembers walks or play dates or, perhaps, when I needed a few minutes alone and gently escorted him to his room for my ten kid-free minutes.
Despite this being my least favorite time of year (humidity+heat=VERY unhappy Betsy), we have been rather busy. New adventures, new friends. All of these new things and he thinks about ‘Cujo’ right before he falls asleep. While their brains are amazing, they are also quite strange.
Posted in Toddlerhood
Tagged lesbian, lesbian parenting, lgbt, lgbt parenting, non-bio, non-bio mom, non-gestational, non-gestational mother, queer, queer parenting, things toddlers say, toddler, toddlerhood, toddlers
As my son is going to sleep at night, he traces the lines of my face or pats my arm or touches my elbow. I love these moments. I know that they go against the ultimate goal of him sleeping, but I can’t help myself. His touch is so light and sweet, it melts me. I pretend to be asleep, but really I am so deeply in love with that boy that it is overwhelming in these moments. When the room is dark and he is touching my nose or my eyelids, there is no question about our biology or him wanting Ima more. There are no monsters in the closet or kids who say mean things. There are no teenagers being gunned down or people dying in wars. None of that exists. It is just me and him, the love between a parent and a child. I have needed that lately.
I was talking about the news with a friend earlier this week. She talked about how, a while back, she had to disconnect from the news in order to protect her sanity. Sometimes I think this is what I need to do also. I think the accessibility of information makes me a distracted parent. I might think about Trayvon Martin or Cory Montieth or whatever sad headline flashes across my screen when I should be focusing on my son.
So, when it is my night to put M to bed, the tracing reminds me to be fully present. No screens, no sounds. Just breathing and being together. Connected in a really special way.
Posted in Bonding with child, General Parenting, Toddlerhood
Tagged connecting with child, disconnecting from news, lesbian, lesbian parenting, lgbt, lgbt parenting, non-bio mom, non-gestational mother, queer, queer parenting, sweet toddler moments