Friday, March 20, 2009

Who does this?

I had heard that it happens when you least expect it. They lurk in the dark corners of strip malls and fast food joints, just waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting mother. You know what I am talking about, robomoms!!! These moms, who seem to have about enough human emotion to nurture a rock, are always on the hunt looking to compare their child to yours. I never really believed that they existed until this past week.
I was having a lovely day out shopping with my little family. The sun was shining, the kids were behaving, and I had somehow just convinced my husband that we needed to spend $400 on new curtains for the living room. I was feeling really good. Apparently that is when robomoms like to make their move!
A woman who I have never met, made her way into the store. She was pushing a cart with what appeared to be a sleeping baby. I was in the check out line, smiling from ear to ear as the clerk rang up my beautiful new curtains. My husband was looking a little pale as he watched the total continue to rise. I was talking to the little man about the Snuggie blanket he had noticed on sale and cooing at my baby.
The woman casually said, "Your baby is adorable," as she passed by.
"Thank you" I said.
I couldn't really say the same to her because her little package was covered almost completely with a blanket, despite the fact that it was fairly warm outside.
Her husband got in another line to make a return and she placed her cart and sleeping robobaby in between the two lines.
Then she asked how old my daughter was.
"Eight months," I said.
"Oh," she replied. "Mine is nine months."
Then she asked, "Is she saying any words?"
Um, does oooooo, gaaaa, ooo, baaaa, bleeeeeeh, count?
"No, she's not talking."
She's eight freaking months old, I thought to myself!
She just figured out that she can use her arms to turn herself over and that mommy really does not like it when she pulls the tabs loose on her diaper right after she's put them on. Do you really think she is going to be having conversations?
The woman beamed a proud smile at her sleeping infant and said, "My daughter says four words."
"Really?" I replied. She couldn't prove it. I had to take her at her word since her baby was in la-la land.
"Well. My son didn't say anything until he was almost eleven months so I'm sure she will be a late talker too, " I stuttered.
I wanted to tell her to not be so eager for the little thing to talk. I prayed for my son to speak every day until he turned two and then he started speaking in full sentences and now he never shuts up. He speaks so much he now knows that I often tune him out. After every monologue he asks me, "Now, what did I say?" I'm sure he learned this particular line from me.
"Does she have any teeth?" Robomom was talking at me again.
"No."
Now I was feeling more defensive.
"My son didn't get any teeth until he was ten months old and I believe that is hereditary so I am not expecting any for a while." So there.
"Robomom smiled at me this time, "My baby has six teeth already."
I wanted to roll my eyes and say, Wow! You better call up Harvard and get that girl enrolled!! They would be lucky to have her!
But I sheepishly said, "Oh."
Robomom, having satisfied her hunger for making other moms feel small, turned and pushed her cart over to where her husband stood in line.
I helped my very pale from just having paid the bill husband load up our purchases into the cart and we both sulked out to the car with the little man trailing behind.
This whole scene bothered me for hours and I really try not to let stuff like that get to me. I think it was the way she was so belligerent in her asking. She purposely asked me about my daughter first before she divulged anything about her own. I don't even know if she really had a daughter since I never saw it move. For all I know she was a loony with one of those Reborn dolls, out looking to harass sleep deprived mothers of real children.
I really don't care about time lines. I did with my son. He was late getting teeth, crawling, and talking. I wasted a lot of precious time worrying for nothing. He got four teeth between ten and eleven months, he crawled at ten months, walked at a year, and spoke with a huge vocabulary at two years. He might not have done everything at the same time as the other babies, but he did eventually do them. And I know the baby girl will too! In her own time.
Her lack of desire to crawl only means I can wait on baby proofing the house again, something I am not entirely looking forward to doing. And really, with all the talking going on between my son and me, she won't be able to get a word in for a long time to come.
And the next time I run into a Robomom I am going to beat her to the punch! "Yes, my daughter speaks," I will say. "In fact, she's reciting one of her poems on open mike night at Javawava this week. Come check it out."

Friday, March 6, 2009

And you are...?

I learned to swim when I was only a few years old. After my beginner class one day, I got out of the shallow end of the pool, walked directly to the deep end, climbed the ladder to the diving board, and did my best jump into the water. My parents stared in disbelief as I resurfaced from under the water and then proceeded to doggie paddle to the shallow end with a big smile on my face. In the years that followed, I would see that same look on their faces many times as I somersaulted on a balance beam, swung around the uneven parallel bars, and vaulted into a pile of foam. As a child, I was fearless.

Fast forward to last week. I casually mentioned to my son, who will be five in less than a month, that we would begin swim lessons this summer. Both his cousin and his grandparents have ponds. And the pond at his grandparents is large enough to use a boat for fishing in it. We spend many days there in the summer and I believe as he gets older he will be spending more time swimming at the pond with just his cousins. Not to mention that his dad and I just plain love to be in, on, or near water as often as possible. So the little guy needs to be able to be around water safely too.

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, the little man began to cry. Not one of those fake, I am tantrumming and I am here to make your life miserable kind of cries, but a wail really, complete with tears streaming down his face. After finally calming him down a good twenty minutes later, I was able to ascertain why he was crying. He is afraid of drowning. Or I should say, he believes the swim teacher is going to force his head under the water, which will then cause him to swallow massive amounts of it, and this in turn will make him drown. I explained that I would never take him to a place where they would allow that, because it would be much cheaper to do that myself, but the only way I could get him to stop crying was to promise that I would not make him take the lessons until he is ready.

When my son was younger I did see some signs that he had begun to have many fears. When most kids were scared of monsters in their closets the kid was saying that Jesus could not protect him from bad guys at night because he was only a guy and that I could not either since I didn't have a gun like dad. When we went to Disneyland he rode the Pirates of the Caribbean twice. When we asked if he wanted to ride it again the next day he said no. Was he scared of the creepy pirates and skeletons? No, he said. Those were not real. Was he scared because it got so dark during part of the ride? Darkness just meant we could not see the sun, he said. No, he was scared of the big wave that tossed over you in the dark. Wave? We tried to explain that it was just the boat going a little further down into the ride. But there was no convincing him. He felt the water on his face so that meant that a wave was towering over him. I don't understand why at one time he enjoyed the Rockets, Dumbo and Soaring Over California but he no longer does. All he can say is that they go high and he no longer wants to ride them. In fact, his new favorite ride at Disneyland is the carousel. That's right. The little wooden horses that go round and round and that he refused to ride alone until he was four years old. That, and the train.

He also has fears about learning to ride a bike, hanging from the monkey bars, skiing and flying in an airplane, to name a few. I believe the little guy might even have a fear of the number thirteen since he always skips it when he counts. We assumed he also had a fear of sledding since last year we had to bribe him to go with us. But then this year he sledded down the hill at his grandparents house and insisted on going alone. We thought he had been cured of this fear but turns out it was just a momentary lapse of good judgement. When it snowed at our house recently I tried to get him to sled on my lap and he would have none of it. So, I sledded alone. Hey no one's going to ruin my fearless fun. He can pass up on all the scary experiences he wants to pass up but I won't sit them out just because he chooses to do so.

I am not too worried about these new fears he has developed. It hasn't stopped him from participating in any activities with his friends, yet. I hold the hope that he will outgrow at least some of the more irrational ones. In the meantime, if he wants to wear a life jacket to swim until he's 10 and he has no issues with it, then neither do I. Bike riding, flying in a plane, and Disneyland can wait until he's older too. We don't even have a paved driveway for him to learn to ride a bike on anyway. The one thing that does occasionally bum me out is that he is really afraid of roller coasters. He's only ever been on a kiddie coaster but he has no desire to ever ride a big coaster. And his dad and I love them. We have even talked about traveling to other states just so we can try out some of the roller coasters we have seen on those travel shows. But if you even mention the word roller coaster the look of fear in his eyes is enough to break your heart.

I love my kids and I knew that becoming a parent would mean many sacrifices. I have seen parents at amusement parks practically forcing their children to ride roller coasters with them. Their kids are often in tears begging the parents to let them sit the ride out. But these parents will not have it. They tell the child that everyone else wants to ride so they will too. I don't really understand the logic but who am I to judge them? I just know I will never be one of those parents. My son has his own brand of fun and if that doesn't include riding coasters than so be it. My husband and I have no issue taking turns riding alone while one of us waits with the kids. It is actually a bit more exhilarating riding that way. And people seem to look at you with admiration. Who could be so brazen as to ride this spine tingling 82 miles per hour thrill ride with a 90 degree drop all by themselves? Like I said, no one's going to ruin my fun.