Whenever a new parent asks me for advice, I always tell them to expect the unexpected. The mere act of conceiving a baby might take two weeks or two years. And that’s just the beginning. With Dylan, I had preeclampsia and an unplanned c-section at 37 weeks. With Riley, I had premature labor at 31 weeks and a postpartum ventral hernia. And the surprises just keep coming. This week has been no exception.
Halloween. Last year, Dylan boycotted Halloween. It started with a refusal to wear a costume. This didn’t surprise me because he also won’t wear long sleeved shirts, shirts with collars, pajamas, pants, sweatshirts, hats or jackets. But his refusal to go trick or treating…that caught me off guard. In hindsight, the boycott probably had a lot to do with his general unhappiness about the arrival of his baby brother, Riley. To say that he experienced sibling jealousy is an understatement. I did whatever I could to change his mind, but in the end, he sat last year out.
I was prepared for another boycott this year, but I also bought some “non-costume” Halloween accessories (wings, tails, etc.) and armed myself with some basic craft supplies in case he followed through with his talk about being a bug, a car, a bug and a car together, a bug catcher or Lightning Speed McQueen. At least he was talking about costumes, right?
On the day before Halloween and just a few hours before we were heading out to a Halloween party, he said definitively that he wanted to be Speed McQueen and go trick or treating. He described to me exactly what he wanted his costume to look like, including where the wheels should be placed on his feet. Crafty Mama took over and I made him the cutest, homemade, “non-costume” Speed McQueen costume you’ve ever seen (well, I think so). Mike and I were so proud of him, and of course, we were also completely surprised.
In case you’re wondering, Riley wore a Bumble Bee costume, including the hood, and he loved every minute of Halloween except for when I said, “No more candy.”
The flu. On Monday, I woke up feeling nervous but didn’t know why. I went to yoga class and thought it was strange that some of the poses made me feel nauseous. By 2pm that afternoon, I was immobile. As it turned out, the nerves were aches and pains and the nausea was, well, nausea. I was so sick that Mike had to leave work to take care of the kids. I dragged myself to the doctor on Tuesday morning to be told I had the flu. Surprise! Ironically, “get flu shot” was at the top of my to do list this week. My doctor put me on Tamiflu and sent me home to rest.
We went into crisis mode at home. Mike took a personal day, the laundry and dishes piled up and I slept. Every few hours, Dylan would come in the bedroom and ask, “Mommy, are you feeling better?” or “Mommy, did you take your medicine?” Then Riley would come trotting in with toys and place them on the bed next to me like little offerings. It was sweet.
I woke up on Wednesday morning feeling a lot better and with enough energy to take the kids to and from school. I was even able to walk into the kitchen without heaving. I’m still recovering and eating a mostly soup diet, but I’m back among the living and putting the house back together.
Bathroom Checker. One thing I’ve learned about boys since having two of my own is that they are not chatty. When I ask Dylan what he does at school, he usually says, “I play.” “With what?” “Toys,” he says. “With whom?” “I don’t know,” he says. He’s in nursery school this year, and there’s a lot more structure and responsibility for the kids. For instance, each child is assigned a weekly job like flag holder, weather checker, snack helper, line leader, etc.
The only way I know what Dylan’s job is on a weekly basis is to (1) ask a mother of one of the girls in the class…the girls tell their mothers everything, (2) wait for the curriculum summary that comes home in his backpack on Fridays or (3) look on the job board in his classroom. I’ve considered it my personal parenting challenge every week to get Dylan to tell me what is job is before stooping to the above options, and it has never worked…until yesterday. Surprise!
I was on the phone in the kitchen when Dylan walked in and blurted out, “I’m the bathroom checker.” Normally I get annoyed when Dylan interrupts me on the telephone. Why is that my kids have nothing to say to me until the phone rings? But this time I was thrilled. I hammered him with questions. “What does the bathroom checker do? Do you clean the bathroom? Do you remind the kids to wash their hands after they pee? Do you tell the kids when it’s their turn to go?” He said nothing more. Apparently our chat was over. I’m tempted to check the job board to see if “bathroom checker” is even a real job, but I’m kind of enjoying the ambiguity of it right now. And besides, I’ll know for sure on Friday.
In life, and especially in parenthood, surprises lurk around every corner. Some are good (Halloween and bathroom checker) and some are not so good (the flu), but they make the journey an interesting one.