Tag Archives: Claire

Oh that’s right.

Claire loves to dance.  I’m not just talking about jumping up and down, or spining in circles like most normal two year olds. Nope.  Homegirl can plié with the best of them.  She turns on relevé with her arms above her head.  And she loves (and I mean LOVES) to arabesque.  There was an episode of Little Ensteins in which June was doing a “Sleepy Dance” to make some Nesting Doll Soldier fall asleep…or something.  Anyway, she sings the moves she’s doing: “Rocking sidetoside.” Saute UP and down.  Arrrr….a….besque.  Arrr….a….besque.  Now Claire walks around the house singing, “ArrrrABesque! ArrrABesque.”

Of course it sounds more like “Arrrr a Becs” but whateves.

Where was I?  Oh yes, dancing.  Since homeslice dances to EVERYTHING, I thought it might be a good time to try to teach her how to point her toe.

We were lying on the couch last night before bed, and I was showing her how to straighten her leg and point her toe.

“See, kid.  Feel how tight my thigh muscle is.  And see my pointed toe?  Good!  Good job.  Now try the other one.  Good job!  Yes, I feel your muscle.  Good.  Next we’ll learn about turn-out.  See how my leg is turned?  You want to turn you leg – from the hip- out.  And of course point your toe.  See Mommy?  See how Mommy’s leg is turned-out?”

I should have known she was a little too young to learn turn-out.  Instead of practicing her point and turn-out, she looked at me for a long time.

The she said, “I have two elbows.”

Oh that’s right.  I forgot you’re two.

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Unanswered questions

I was watching The View this morning (shut up, Claire was taking a nap and to my credit I was also switching back to The Price Is Right) and they were talking about Caroline Kennedy and her experience.  People have been giving her flack for her supposed lack of experience.  The ladies on The View were saying that people needed to look at her whole life’s experience, not just her professional experience.  They were saying that some women take different career paths than men; they’re not as linear as men’s.

They said that some women start their career when their kids are in school all day.  That’s an age when some men are trying to FINISH their career.

I wondered, will I be like that?  I’ve never had a “career.”  I’ve worked since I turned 16, except for the nine months I stayed home with Claire after she was born, and again now.  But I was never doing anything I truely loved.  I’m not even sure what I would do if I have the chance to do anything.  I like planning weddings, but I feel like I need to do that in an office.  I’m not good at working from home.

Will I start a career when Claire’s in school full time?  If so, what will it be?  When will I feel like my life is complete?

Big questions for a Tuesday morning.

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*exhale*

Ok.  So it’s been 4 days since the Day Of Reckoning, and things are a lot better.  Tuesday was spent at home, all day.  We didn’t do any chores, we didn’t run any errands, our main focus was to have fun. And we did.  We played with blocks, and balls.  After a small argument about the necessity of wearing a coat, we went outside and played with the dogs.  I think I handled that one pretty well, actually.  I asked Claire if she wanted to go outside and play.  She said yes, so I put on my coat and held her coat out to put it on her.  She shook her head, and walked away.  So, I said, “You have to wear a coat outside.  If you don’t want to wear it, we’ll stay in.”  Three tries, and she let me put it on and we had a great time.

That was the only hiccup the whole day.  Wednesday JR stayed home from work, so of course Claire was a little angel.  She got in her carseat without even a whimper (at one point while we were driving to get lunch, she was kissing her baby doll.  Making a liar out of me, she is) and we had a lovely lunch.  Thursday was much of the same.

Today’s been a little rough, but I think it has something to do with the fact that Granny watched her last night while JR and I went out to dinner, and when we got home (at 11), she was STILL AWAKE.  Granny said she tried to put her down, but that she wouldn’t sleep.

The one saving grace throughout this whole thing is her naps.  She still takes two, one at 9 or 10 (depending on when she gets up) and one around 4.  Both times I take her in her room, make sure she has her milk, pacifier, blanket and pillow, and she just lays down and falls asleep.  How long she sleeps is another story, but it’s been my one victory that she falls asleep so well.  Of course now that I say that, she’s going to cry and thrash about every time I try to put her down.

The next week is packed with holiday visitors.  My dad is coming in tomorrow afternoon, and staying until Monday.  My mom (assuming she can get off work – please let her get off work!) will be coming in Wednesday and staying until Sunday.  We have Christmas morning at my lovely sister-in-law’s, Boxing Day on the 26th and JR’s old theater troupe is having a reunion at our house on the 27th.

My Christmas shopping is done, save some stocking stuffers for JR and Claire.  I need to wrap everything and ship presents to JR’s dad, but I can do that tonight.

So, things are better.  Much better.  It might be her, but it might also be my attitude toward her.  I was so frustrated on Monday, and she could tell.  I’m not letting myself get frustrated like that anymore.  She’s beautiful and wonderful and yes, a little headstrong, but that’s ME and JR in her.  And I love her; I just have to show her more often.

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Stick a fork in me

I’m done.  I can’t handle staying home anymore.  If it’s not the never-ending, overflowing sink of dishes (seriously.  There are three of us in this house.  And one of our dishes are made entirely of plastic.  How in the WORLD do we have so many dirty coffee cups?!); or the toys in the living room that I swear I JUST put away; or our bedroom, which STILL isn’t unpacked, nevermind that we’ve lived in this house for almost 2 months, and is filled to the brim with dirty clothes (because my lovely husband REFUSES to put his D@MN dirty clothes in the hamper, then have the audacity to complain that he never has any clean clothes.  Dude, the only clothes that I can TELL are dirty are your effin’ socks, and that’s only because they smell like someone DIED in them)

All that? I could handle.  If Claire was being even remotely managable.

MrsMillerTime, you might want to skip this part.

Everything I say is met with either “No,” which I can sorta handle, or a full blown hissy fit, complete with a crumpled body falling dramatically to the floor, and screams that are no doubt making the neighbours think I’m murdering pigs in my free time.  It can be something as harmless as, “Claire, let’s put your shoes on.” You’d think I just asked her to kill a f@cking puppy or burn her eyes out with hot sticks (which, coincedently, I have the urge to do on a DAILY basis).

Eat? Forget it.  Why would I ask her to subject herself to something as terrible as FOOD?!

Get buckled in her carseat?  Might as well be driving her to her death.

Everything is a fight, from getting dressed (we’re becoming hermits because I refuse to let her leave the house without pants), to taking a bath (“What do you mean I can’t stand up in the tub? HOW DARE YOU?!”)

I can ignore the dramatic meltdowns for little things; I simply say “Claire, I’m going into the kitchen.  When you’re done, come find me.”  But for things like standing in the tub, or getting buckled, I can’t just let her go and walk away.

I found the end of my rope tonight.  After going to the gynocologist with her in the morning, and the resulting fight to get dressed, one 1 hour nap, and a fight every time I put her in the carset (sorry that we had to go to the store to get YOU milk.  I won’t do it again), we went to my niece’s dance recital where she proceeded to perfect the limp fall onto the floor when I wouldn’t let her spin in circles while the other kids were doing their recital.

It didn’t help that my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, his mom and sister, and my mother-in-law were all there and not one of them tried to help me.  In fact, after seeing both my niece and Claire (they’re the same age) get in a little fight over the kid’s chairs, my mother-in-law picked up my niece.  Even though Jane’s other grandma and other aunt were right there.

I lost it on my way home.  DH offered to take Claire for the night (um, duh) so I could get some coffee or a drink or something.  But I can’t think of a worse evening than to spend it alone after a terrible day.

So, I’m sitting in my garage, as far away from the Devil Incarnate as I can and trying to re-group.

I hate it here.

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Discipline

I was just rereading my last few posts and I noticed how negative I am about Claire’s behavior.  I would love to say, “It’s not that she’s bad, she’s just a bitch challenging.  She’s not stubborn, she’s strong-willed.”
But the truth is that she CAN be bitchy, and she is one of the most stubborn people I know.

Take last night, for example.  After finishing dinner, I started the bathwater, like I do almost every night.  She was pretty stoked for bathtime, and I got her out of her clothes and in the tub in record time.  It was about 15 minutes past the time that she usually takes a bath, but dinner lasted longer than I thought and I figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

Heh.

I had put her in the tub while the water was still running.  She continued to stand up until I turned the water off.  Fine.  I don’t like it that she does it, but I’m picking my battles (see: the necessity of wearing pants, and: eating only crackers all day).  The water turns off, she sits down.  I mean, that’s what supposed to happen.  But, last night, she didn’t sit down.

I asked her nicely.  “Claire, please sit down.”  Nothing.  “Claire, bottom on the ground.” That one usually works.  Still nothing.  At this point she’s not looking at me, she’s not really DOING anything, she’s just standing.  I remembered what I’d read over at Backpacking Dad’s place about discipline so I tried the Dog Voice.

“CLAIRE.  SIT. DOWN.”

She jumped a little bit and started crying.  I picked her up and placed her in the tub, bottom down.  She screamed and tried to get up.  I asked nicely again, “Claire, you need to put your bottom on the seat please.  I don’t want you to fall.”  Yeah, didn’t work.  So, I quickly washed her hair and body while she was standing up, screaming.

She stopped crying for a second when I dumped the water on her head to wash off the soap.  She looked at me and I asked her if she was finished.  She did the sign for all done, so I pulled her out of the tub, not 2 minutes after I put her in, and wrapped a towel around her.  She wouldn’t make eye contact.  I opened the door to the bathroom (the part of the bathroom with the tub and toilet is seperated from the sinks by a door), but she didn’t follow me.  I tried to pick her up, and her whole body went limp and she started screaming again.

“Fine.  I’d just wait out here until you’re finished throwing a fit.  I love you.” I told the little body sprawled on the floor.  I turned toward the mirrors to do a quick count to ten, and heard the door shut behind me.  I tried to open the door, but she was behind it, pushing it back closed, screaming the whole time.  I let her close it, and counted again, to twenty this time.  I opened the door, against her little will, and sat on the toilet.  She had both hands on the tub, facing away from me, muttering to herself.

I thought back to Backpacking Dad’s trio of disciplinary techniques.  Dog Voice, Outlast Mode was next.  The problem was that she wasn’t ASKING for anything.  She was just screaming.  Last in line was the Telepathic Staredown.  THIS would work.  I KNEW it.  I calmly held her arms and turned her toward me.  She kept her eyes down.  I lowered my body closer to the floor, trying to get her to make eye contact.  She still wasn’t looking.  I got lower, and lower, until I realized that I was practically laying on the ground.  This couldn’t be very intimidating.

So, I did what I always do when she gets like this.  I scooped her angry, writhing body up and put her on her changing table.  I wrestled with her to put her diaper and pajamas on, calmly saying “Claire, now we need to put your pj’s on.  I love you.  Claire, I love you so much.  I hope you have sweet dreams.  I’ll see you tomorrow (actually, probably later tonight, since you refuse to sleep through the night) and your daddy and I love you.”

She cried the whole time.  JR walked in, swept her up and put her to bed without so much as a whimper (from her, not him.  I on the other hand was whimpering and rocking in the corner the whole time).

It’s hard to know what to do when disciplining her.  I don’t think she understands cause and effect yet, but she needs to know that there are things she CAN’T do.  Like stand in the tub.  I’m getting good at ignoring the silly fits.  But it’s the serious ones, the ones I don’t want to ignore that are slowly erasing my will to live.

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Independence

I’m in a bad mood pretty much as soon as I wake up.  JR hadn’t cleaned the dishes he’d been promising all weekend to clean, it was 5:30 and I had only gotten about 4 hours of sleep since SOMEONE decided that 1 am was a perfect time for a baby party.  The house was a mess (and I’d be the one that had to clean it) and it was Monday.  The week loomed before me like a dark cloud.

I’m not going to lie.  I don’t like being a suburban stay-at-home mom.  There’s not enough to do during the day, and the Kid gets cranky.  I don’t blame her, it’s boring at home with just the two of us.  I try to DO things – indoor playgrounds, The Children’s Museum, Gymboree – but there’s only so many times one can crawl up rope netting and slide down slides before it gets mundane.

She’s not old enough to play on playgrounds by herself, plus she’s not quite independent enough.  She’s a confusing mix of not enough and too much.  At home, it’s “no. no. no.” all day.  She doesn’t want help putting on her shoes, or walking down the front steps.  She wants to drink out of a cup by herself, and play DVDs on her own.  But we get in public, where she can run and jump and climb, and she’s afraid.  She doesn’t climb up the netting alone; she wants my hand to help her over the plastic rims into the tunnel.  I know she could do it, but she doesn’t.

I’m in a bad mood, and she’s not helping.  She insists on being held when she eats.  She says she’s hungry, but doesn’t want any of the usual lunch time meals.  We end up with cranberry sauce, and she eats a few bites before she screams in her highchair; twisting and thrashing until I pick her up.  It takes me three tries before we finally are on the road; I left my cell phone inside, then I forgot that JR took the carseat out of the car this morning.  She fusses the whole way to The Stomping Grounds, and I find myself wishing I were sitting in a cubicle, having a conversation with someone in English, not the French my daughter seems to be speaking.

We arrive at the indoor playground that we’ve been to at least 30 times in the last month.  Our shoes come off, and I notice how many other mom’s are here.  They’re all in groups of 4 or 5, laughing, reprimanding, smiling.  They all look older than me, all in matching, high end clothes.  A sharp contrast to my grey corduroys and red Element t-shirt.

We walk to the big kids playground.  Claire wants nothing to do with the “Under 2” side of the park.  I help her up to the top level and we putz around a bit.  There’s a tunnel at the very top.  It’s made of interlocking strips of mesh, divided into 4 parts each separated by a slippery yellow piece of plastic.  We’ve never been through that tunnel; Claire’s feet slip through the holes and she thinks she can’t get them out by herself.  She always notices that tunnel, even lowering herself into the first section, before she gets discouraged and climbs back out to play somewhere safer.

There are about 10 kids running around today.  Some of the boys are as old as 6 or 7, but there’s a little girl who couldn’t have been more than 2.  She wasn’t much bigger than Claire, but she was noticably braver.  She climbed up the rope ladder, ran through the tunnels.  She was by herself, and very determined.  She never cracked a smile, and she noticed Claire right away.  Claire noticed her too.  Claire followed this little girl over the bridges that she knew, around the ball pit where she loved to sit.  Then the little girl went up the steps to the tunnel.

Claire followed her, cautiously.  I sat back and watched, reach to jump to her rescue should she get stuck.  She followed the little girl into the first part of the tunnel, carefully placing her feet in the cross sections of the mesh so as not to fall through.  The little girl flew through the first section, and jumped over the yellow plastic divider.  Then, she stopped and sat in the second section as Claire carefully put one leg over the plastic piece.  Claire reached one hand out and felt the rope on the side, and pulled herself over.  The little girl raced ahead, vaulting the second divider with ease.  Claire followed her, putting her hand where the little girl had, placing her feet carefully.  She climbed over the second divider where the little girl was waiting.  They continued on this path through the whole tunnel; the little girl going first and Claire following slowly behind.

They reached the last section when suddenly the little girl turned and went back the way they had just come.  Without blinking, Claire turned around and followed.

We had been to this playground at least 30 times in the last month.  Claire had never even tried to go through that tunnel until today.  She never tried, until a little girl, not much bigger than her, showed her the way.  When she came out the front again, and saw me waiting for her right where she left me, her face broke out into a huge grin.  I reached for her to give her a hug.  I wanted to hold her and tell her how proud I was of her, for figuring out something on her own.  I wanted to thank her for showing me how to face my own tunnel, with a quiet determination only kids can master.  I wanted to kiss her and tell her how glad I was that I was here to witness a huge step toward her independence.

But she pulled away before I could say anything, and went back over the bridge to sit in the ball pit, chit chattering in her own French the whole way.

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Newsletter: Month 18

photo5Dear Claire,

You are now 18 months old.  Oh yes, you are.  Your lovely Aunt Addie says the hardest part she’s found is 18 months to 3.  I’m sorry, wha?  If this month has been any indication, I kinda want to hurl myself off the cliff now, instead of waiting to see if it gets worse.  Not that I think it CAN get any worse, but you get my point.

I’m not sure if it’s the stress of the move, or the stress of Thanksgiving, or the stress of ME, but you are quite a handful these days.  You can’t believe I would have the audicity to make you wear pants, the HORROR, or that I would even consider asking you if you’d like a hotdog or turkey for lunch.  WHY WOULD I DO THAT TO YOU?!  So, until further notice, pants are optional in this house.  For me too.  Why should you have all the fun?  If this makes for interesting encounters with the FedEX man, so be it.  I’m picking my battles.

I’m staying home with you again, and in an attempt to keep busy so you don’t, you know, kill me in my sleep, we’ve been very busy.  We go to an indoor playground a lot, which you love.  What you don’t lophoto6ve is that there’s a smaller one for kids under two that I encourage you to play in.  I’m not sure how to tell you this, honey, but you ARE under two.  I like the smaller one because I don’t have to get up in there with you.  And if I don’t have to get up in there, the chances of me getting my fat ass stuck in one of the tiny crawl spaces (who do they make those things for, anyway?  KIDS?!) is reduced significantly.  Not that that has happened to me.  Or anything.  But you just don’t understand why I don’t jump at your every beck and call in that thing.  It’s because Mama is out of shape and can only take so many hours of crawling on her hands and knees through tunnels built for 8 year olds before she kinda snaps.  But you love it.  So we go.  I’m here to please you, ya know?  Plus, I think you’re kinda getting sick of the place, but we paid good money for a membership (after we had been there 4 days one week and realized that you might not be able to go to college if we keep this up), so you’re going to have to suck it up and have a good time, damnit.

These days you either make my heart fill with joy, or you make me want to rip out my overies with a dull knife to avoid having another kid.  Sometimes you do both in 10 minutes.  I’m trying here, but this is my first time parentiphoto2ng an 18 month old, so you’re going to have to work with me.  You have a funny little habit of standing with your hands clasped in front of you, just waiting until I get my shit together enough to either discipline you or just give up and hug you.  You’re getting enrolled in gymnastics and dance in January, and your lovely Aunt Addie said that the coaches teach you to stand with your hand behind your back, like little gymnasts.  You’ve got that down.

Now, let’s talk about your hair.  At this moment, it has mullet potential, but I refuse to cut it.  Your Nana wants to just trim the front so you have bangs, but I can’t do that yet.  I waited 18 months for your hair to grow, and I’m going to let it keep going.  I just got some barretts that MIGHT keep it back; the problem is that, and I am SO SORRY for this, you got your dad’s fine hair.  No clip or hair band is any match for it.  Plus you HATE IT when I put things in your hair.  I always wanted a kid who wore hats (you look so adorable in them) or liked pigtails (it’s like I’m ripping out your hair everytime I come near you with a rubber band), but you’re having none of it.  If I put something in there and distract you with something shiny or funny, sometimes I can get it to stay until you show me where your head is, or what the sign for hat is, and then you pull it back out.  And then you kill me with your eyes.

By the end of the day, I forget why I’m so frustrated with you.  Your daddy gets home, and you run over to him and pretend to love me (for his benefit, no doubt.  He thinks I overreact) and that’s nice.  Why you can’t do that all day, I’ll never know.  But I’ll never stop trying to find things that you like.  I’ll never stop taking you to the park and Gymboree, and muesums.  I’ll never stop trying to hug and kiss you in public, even though you’ve made it very clear that you can’t believe I would kiss you in public ZOMG.  You’re 18 months going on 13, honey, but I love you.  You’ve made me someone I never thought I could be, and I hope that I’m doing alright.  Not that you keep it to yourself if you think I’m not.  I love you, Claire. Happy 18 month birthday.

Love,

Mama

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