Category Archives: Legos

The Couch (Or Blame) (Or Hands)

I fell asleep on the couch on Wednesday night.  I love falling asleep on the couch while watching television.  It’s as comforting to me as the scent of my mom’s perfume or the taste of her matzo ball soup.  Of course, I missed the last ten minutes of “Franklin and Bash,” which drives Mike crazy, because I always wake up when a show is over and ask him how it ended.  He doesn’t understand how I can stay awake until the last scene of a show and then fall asleep.  He doesn’t understand how much I love falling asleep on the couch!  On Wednesday night, when he tried to wake me and send me to bed, I kept saying in my sleep, “It’s not my fault.”  He thought it was strange.  I didn’t.

After my molar pregnancy, I blamed myself (and my body) for not being able to make a baby properly.  Eventually, with the passage of time (and a lot of therapy), I figured out that it wasn’t my fault, but that early and tragic brush with motherhood was where I learned the art of blame.

On Wednesday afternoon, I sat at my kitchen table with a $158 per hour behavioral therapist who spent the better part of two hours convincing Dylan to consume a piece of turkey the size of an ant, and I thought, How did we get here?

Of course I blame myself for his sensory processing disorder.  He is made up of half of my DNA.  Maybe it’s from the chemotherapy I had after the molar pregnancy or the preeclampsia that forced me to deliver him early at 37 weeks.  Maybe it was the c-section.  Maybe it was the store bought baby food or the bottles riddled with BPA.  Maybe it’s because I had no idea what I was doing as a first time mom that his habits and behaviors, especially with food, got so bad.

What’s worse is that sometimes I blame him.  Why can’t he listen, eat, dress, or behave like his peers?  Ugh.  Those are the really bad, regrettable thoughts. (The strike-through makes me feel a little bit less hideous.)  Then the blame shifts and I wonder what evil part of my soul is capable of being so selfish, impatient, and incapable of accepting my son for the perfectly imperfect person he is.   And then It shifts again and I wonder if he blames me for not understanding, for doing too much, for not doing enough, or for doing it all too late.

At times like this, I look for a lesson and a truth.  The truth is that it’s not my fault.  Deep down I know this, but blame has remarkable power.  The lesson is that I have power, too.  When my children’s flaws are exposed, so are mine.  It’s what I do with the vulnerability that counts.  Every day I spend as Dylan and Riley’s Mama makes me a better parent and person.  All of the self-doubt, mistakes (perceived or real), questioning, crying, and couch sleeping makes me stronger and smarter.  I can’t wait to look back at this chapter in our lives someday and be insanely proud of how we conquered this beast of a problem as a family.  Until then, we keep on our journey.

Today, Grandma Barbara and I took the boys to an art exhibit, Nathan Sawaya: The Art of the Brick, at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood.  (Local readers: The exhibit is here until August 19th, so it’s not too late to check it out.)  This guy builds the most beautiful and thought-provoking sculptures with Legos.  It was just what I needed to get out of my head…

“Think!”

…and into his.

This was Dylan’s favorite:

This was Riley’s:

These were mine:

“The Writer”

“Despair”

“Yellow”

“Kiss”

This one was my absolute favorite:

“Hands”

I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.  He wanted to grasp something, but he was incapable.  He wanted to repair something, but the task was overwhelming. There were so many broken pieces.  Where would he begin?  How would he ever take hold of it if he couldn’t reach it?  I thought, How did he get there? 

It made me lose my breath, but it also gave me great comfort.

What brings you comfort during challenging times?  Have you been to any good art exhibits recently?

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Filed under blame, food issues, Legos, molar pregnancy, motherhood, sensory processing disorder

The Lion

A lion sleeps in the heart of every brave man.

This nugget of wisdom is a Turkish Proverb I found on the Internet.  I looked it up because of an incident that took place at Legoland involving Riley and Mean Boy.

Sometimes Riley acts exactly the way a three-year-old should act – stubborn, silly, irrational, and selfish with his emotions.  Like yesterday morning when he absolutely refused to wear a shirt to camp no matter how much I pleaded, and, in the end, went to camp with no shirt on.  (A Smart Mama knows when she’s fighting a losing battle with a toddler.)  Other times, Riley displays emotional maturity and wisdom far beyond his three years.

On our second afternoon at Legoland, we settled into a restaurant for some much needed lunch, water, and air conditioning.  The facility had a huge Lego play zone visible from almost every table so kids could play while parents ate in peace.

This feature is one of the things I liked the best about Legoland.  (That and the nice service and spotless bathrooms.)

So here’s what happened.  A young boy, probably about five or six years old, started pilfering Legos from Riley’s bucket.  Mean Boy alert!  I saw it happen but didn’t intervene right away.  This is partly because I was hot and exhausted, but mostly because I wanted to see how Riley and Dylan, who was playing next to Riley, would handle the situation on their own.  I saw Mean Boy’s mother walk over and yell, “Hey, don’t take Legos away from little kids!”

A few seconds later, Riley came running over to me with tears in his eyes and said, “Mommy, that boy called me a liar.  I…I…I didn’t lie.  I…I…I…I…I’m not a liar.”  (Sometimes Riley stutters when he has a lot to say.)

According to Dylan, the conversation went something like this:

Mean Boy’s Mama: “Don’t take Legos away from little kids!”

Mean Boy: “I didn’t!”

Riley: “Yes, you did.”

Mean Boy: “You’re a liar!”

Mean Boy called Riley a liar.

“Of course you’re not a liar,” I told Riley.  Then I got up and went back over to the play zone with both kids.  At that point, Mean Boy’s mother was gone and Mean Boy was quietly building with the Legos he stole from Riley.  “What’s going on here?” I asked.  No answer.  He ignored me.  I wanted to throw a Lego at Mean Boy’s head, but instead I put some distance between him and my kids.  I set the kids up to play at the opposite side of the play zone.

“Just play here,” I told them, but Riley had other righteous plans. He wanted Mean Boy to say he was sorry for calling him a liar.  I followed him.  Riley said, “I’m…I’m…I’m not a liar,” to which Mean Boy responded, “What are you talking about?  I didn’t call you a liar.  I called you a lion.”

Warning: Remainder of Post Contains Explicit Language

Editor’s Note A:  That Little Shit!  How dare he steal, lie, call Riley a liar, and think he could get away with suggesting it was a misunderstanding!  I kept my mouth shut, but I also wished for him to get a nasty case of pinkeye and a painful sunburn before the day was through.

After the lion comment, I took a deep breath and flat out told Dylan and Riley to stay away from Little Shit Mean Boy, but Riley wouldn’t have it.  He wasn’t a liar, Little Shit Mean Boy didn’t call him a lion, and Riley wanted justice.  I told Riley I knew he wasn’t a liar and that he was right and Little Shit Mean Boy was wrong, but as much as he deserved an apology, he wouldn’t get the response he wanted.  I asked him again to stay away from Little Shit Mean Boy.

What a hard lesson to have to teach a three year old child – that no matter how fair, moral, and honest you strive to be, there are people in this world who are not fair, moral, and honest and who will only ever strive to serve themselves.  What happened next made me a Proud Mama.  Riley pointed to our table and said, “Go back over there, Mommy, okay?  Go back to the table.”   He wanted me to leave so I couldn’t stop him from trying again (and again and again) to defend his honor.  By the time I finally gave in (I’m still working on picking my battles), Little Shit Mean Boy was gone.  Good riddance.

Riley is a lion.  A fearless, courageous lion with a big, beautiful, brave lion heart.

Roar.

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Filed under Legoland, Legos, Proud Mama, Smart Mama, toddlers