Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hop on Pop

Caitlyn has a bit of a reputation for having the attention span of a marble (or maybe I just have the patience of a bad mom?). She also has a tendency to tune me out. Or it's probably more accurate to say she actively ignores me. I can say her name 15 times and get no response, but if I say the word "cookie" she's suddenly completely aware that she is being spoken to.

It made it hard to teach her things, but I was never particularly concerned. I spent a little time obsessing about it a few months before she turned one, but that was mostly because my niece, who is the same age, was so far advanced and so focused on absorbing absolutely everything around her, that it made me a little paranoid that Caitlyn was behind. She wasn't. Mostly I like to remind myself that every kid is different, and that my kid excels at physical things more so than a lot of kids her age because that is the kind of shit she wants to do, and when she wants to do something, she is absolutely capable of it.

Anyway, now that she has mastered the skills that are really important to her- you know, things like hanging on monkey bars and climbing rock walls at the playground and jumping off the coffee table and doing the Fresh Beat Band dances- she is much more inclined to sit still and pay attention when I'm trying to teach her something. Not that I need to teach her much. My babysitter is like the asshole-toddler whisperer and is fantastic at engaging her in ways I would never even think of. Still, I like to occasionally, you know, teach her shit.

Caitlyn has never had the patience for books. Where as my niece and nephew could quietly sit while being read to (even if not for a whole book- at least a few pages!) at a year or 18 months, Caitlyn decided at an early age that the purpose of books was to cut her teeth on the bindings. And you sort of expect that at a certain age. You expect that, at a year or so old, they may find a book on the floor or in their toy box and their immediate response is to put it in their mouth. I'm not even talking about that. I'm talking about every binding of every book she owns (and our babysitter owns!) being ripped out with her teeth. I'm talking about finding her chewing on cardboard at least once a day. I'm talking about hiding books from her because I knew she would only destroy them.

Finally, though, Caitlyn is interested in the story. She will bring me a book and ask me to read it to her. Whenever I tried to read a book to her in the past, it was met with screeching, squirming and ripping. It's so nice to be able to tell her the story inside the book. I love reading Dr. Seuss to her. I love that she follows along and throws out lines from the book when I prompt her. I love that, when I turn a page, she inevitably turns it back so she can enjoy her favorites parts of the story just a little longer.

Caitlyn's go-to bedtime story right now is Hop on Pop. Reading it with her is awesome and hilarious, because she ad-libs throughout the book. There's an orange dog that is on a lot of pages. He isn't necessarily part of the story on that page, but he's there. Absolutely every time she sees him, she points to him and says "ornage puppy" (and no, that wasn't a typo. She calls it ornage). It doesn't matter what else is happening on that page, she loves that damn ornage puppy. When we get to the page where Mr. Brown and Mr. Black are having a snack, she tells me they are eating sandwiches and drinking milk. She counts the apples and bananas. When we get to the actual "hop on pop" page, she notes that "Daddy is mad", because the pop looks pretty pissed at those two kids jumping on him (I'd venture a guess here and say they fucked his back up. I'm fairly sure of this because my own dad blames me for his back problems. From that time I jumped on his back. When I was 5).

My favorite part though, is the "father, mother, sister, brother" page. That is on the left page. On the right page shows another boy, a baby, with the words "that one is my other brother". For some reason, Caitlyn hates the other brother. She covers him up with her hand and tells me "I don't like another brother" and "no baby!". He's on the following page too, and she covers him then too. I asked her why she doesn't like the baby and she simply tells me "I like THIS one" and points to the other little boy. It's so arbitrary and hilarious. It makes me giggle every night. It also makes me feel a little less guilty about this whole I probably won't be able to give her a sibling thing.

Just in general, I'm finding Caitlyn is more structured and receptive to discipline, too. I think a big part of it is that we are falling into our own routines and not having anyone (coughherdumbdadcough) throw a monkey wrench into it by wanting to do things another way.

Also, seriously, she is fucking hilarious. Her comic timing is genius. Last night, she asked me to put something on TV for her. When I didn't immediately respond, she looked at me, completely straight-faced and said "come on, son". I was sure I misheard her, so I asked her what she had said and she said it again. She also cheerily told me that she had poop in her 'gina last night.

This kid. She is too much.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


In case you guys didn't hear, it was all windy and shit this week in Jersey. And by windy, obviously I mean OMGOMGWEAREALLGONNADIIIIIIIE.

Generally speaking, I'm the person who just assumes the weather reports are an exaggeration and rolls my eyes at the people buying 20 gallons of water at the grocery store. Or, more accurately, the people I assume are at the grocery store buying 20 gallons of water because I'm definitely not at the grocery store buying anything. Do you know how crowded the grocery store is before a big storm?

Anyway. Maybe it was the fact that I have another human being to think about besides myself. Or maybe it has to do with being really and truly on my own and not having Rodolfo to depend on to think of the shit I might forget about. In any case, I decided Friday night that I should probably have some sort of non-perishable food in my house besides fun-sized 3 Musketeers and M&Ms and I went grocery shopping.

It would seem that everyone else in the tri-state area had this thought at least a few days before I did. I ended up coming home with some cookies, pre-cooked rice cups, one gallon of water, capri suns and a 12 pack of Pepsi (you know, essentials). I can't even say I worried too much about it. I was honestly more concerned about making my way to the craft store so I could finish up Caitlyn's Halloween costume.

Saturday afternoon, I did make it to AC Moore and picked up some blue duct tape and hot pink felt, like any good mom preparing for a disaster. After I got the IMPORTANT stuff, I strolled over to the candle aisle, you know, just in case, and picked up a few candles too.

As an aside right here, I think it's important to reiterate that I'm recently separated, with a halved income but just as many bills as before. Rodolfo, who makes more money than me, decided that he couldn't afford our 1-bedroom apartment when I moved out and found some random woman who was looking for a roommate, and moved in with her. He won't tell me what he's paying in rent, but I'd venture a guess at about half what I'm paying for my apartment. None of this is particularly relevant right here, but it makes this next part REALLY fucking obnoxious:

Anyway. Saturday afternoon before my trip to the craft store, Rodolfo picked up Caitlyn. He had decided to rent a hotel room, simply for the novelty of using their pool, and took Caitlyn there. Several hours later, I met him there when he wouldn't stop texting me about how cranky she was being (me: it's been 4 hours, have you fed her? him: uh, no.). I got her to eat a little bit and then she told me she had to go to pee. Except instead of pee, she had explosive diarrhea.

We (and when I say "we", I mean myself and my awesome babysitter) have been working on potty training Caitlyn. She has been doing pretty well, and she's been mostly in underwear (with just a few accidents) for the last 2 weeks or so. With explosive diarrhea added to the mix, though, I felt like I should go to the store to pick up some diapers (we won't even get into the discussion I had with Rodolfo after that, when he told me he was keeping an entire box of diapers at his house "just in case") and pedialyte. Luckily, the store had been somewhat restocked, so I was also able to get bread, chips, crackers and a few other non-perishable snacky foods too.

I spent Sunday toiling away on a Halloween costume that wouldn't even be worn (at least not on actual Halloween) and feeling pretty sure that I wouldn't have work the next day. On Monday, the storm came through. I had power most of the day, but by late afternoon, I had a few instances of losing my power, either partially or for just a few minutes at a time. Then, around 6pm, all the power went out for good.

Caitlyn had been handling the power outage remarkably well. She was fascinated by the candles I'd lit- she bounced back and forth, room to room, first repeating my warning that candles are "VERY DANGEROUS!" and then declaring how much she loved candles as she stopped at each one- "another candle in the bathroom! Another candle in the living room! ANOTHER CANDLE IN THE KITCHEN!".

Then, she very suddenly stopped running. She stood at the coffee table in our living room and declared "I pooped, mommy" and started sobbing. It wasn't just that she pooped her pants. It was that she had one of those exploding, watery poops again. And in case you don't already know this, having your mom clean diarrhea out of the folds of your lady business by candlelight is possible the most horrific, embarrassing, traumatic experience a child can ever have.

After several smelly, screeching minutes, I felt I had made my absolute best effort in cleaning her up. I no longer had hot water, so I couldn't even throw her in the bathtub. I just had to resign myself to the fact there might be some poop in her vagina. I decided that a little poop in her vagina was better than the possibility of her describing this scene to her therapist 20 years down the road if I kept trying to pry her legs apart to clean her up. Her underwear went straight to the garbage and within 5 minutes, she went back to running around declaring her love for candles. And, as luck would have it, the shit monster did not return.

After a VERY long, boring night, we packed up in the morning and headed off to Grandma's house, where there was power, hot food, and a super fun playmate for Caitlyn. I managed to convince Rodolfo to stop in and feed/walk my dog (he did so begrudgingly, and felt the need to prove that fact by sending me a picture of the dog's shit), so I was able to stay until Wednesday afternoon. It was a relief. A big part of the decision to pick up and head off to Grandma's was the fact that I had not only no signal on my cell phone, but no service on my house phone either. The stress of the "what-if" was too much with a sicky little toddler, and so we took off for the day. Caitlyn played with her cousin all day, and my mom made us a yummy dinner. It was a huge help.

Yesterday we went home, and I was really hoping I would have my power back. I did not. I totally had a bunch of dog shit on my floor though (also fun to clean up by candlelight, in case you were wondering). I fed my pets and walked my dog and cleaned up the filth and grabbed some pillows so we could crash at April's house for the night. She was the only person in the area who had any power, and she and my brother-in-law were nice enough to open their home to everyone they knew in need of a place to stay (this included myself and Caitlyn, her best friend, bestie's boyfriend and her 4 year old daughter, as well as my 13 year old nephew- with my sister, her husband and their son, that was 5 adults, 3 toddlers and 1 teenaged boy all crammed into their 2 bedroom apartment.).

Today I had to drag my ass to work, but shortly after I arrived, I got word that my power was back on. We were lucky, I know we were. There were people who lost their homes and cars and loved ones. And then there were thousands more who simply survived without power or hot food or showers. Some of them even had toddlers, I bet. As much as it was scary, and a true inconvenience, I have family and friends that I know I can always count on . Even the ones who drive me fucking insane sometimes.

On days when I'm feeling stressed or annoyed or sorry for my shitty situation, I'll think of those who were on their own. I'll try to remember that, while my situation is admittedly stressful and difficult at times, I do truly have a great support system, and unfortuantely, that isn't something everyone can say for themselves.

Anyway. I hope everyone is doing well and that no one else had a literal shit storm like I did.