Monday, October 29, 2012

Watching my kid sleep: New favorite pastime

I am acutely aware of the passing of time.

The days of answering the cartoon characters on TV are nearly over. The dimples on the back of the hand are nearly filled in. There will soon be no more babies in this house. Just two big boys.

I remember when the TV shows around here were limited to extra sweet themes: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Dora, Diego... Ben would sit there, transfixed, his big button-like eyes barely blinking, dutifully replying to Dora's bilingual questions, agreeing with Diego's animal-rescue plans, mimicking Mickey's dance moves. Now, we have to force him to change the channel on shows with character names like "Buttowski,"  involving lots of yelling, and lots of  "loser" and an occasional "jerk." But Aidan will still, every once in a while, answer the Little Einsteins when one of them asks "What's your favorite animal?" or "Will you help us on a mission?" or (my personal favorite) "Do you want to go on an animal safari with us?"

The innocence of it is almost painful.

I was never one of those moms who just looooved the baby stage. I did love stuffing my nose in their necks and inhaling that perfect baby smell. I did live for the moments when they would do something new: smile, say Mama, wave bye-bye for the first time. But the rest of the time, I was exhausted, frustrated, and stressed. By the time my oldest turned into a toddler, I realized I was the kind of mom who enjoyed the older stages much more. So I spent a lot of those early days wishing I could fast forward, wondering when they would grow up a little more, counting the days until they would be more self-sufficient.

And now, here we are, nearly there. My little one is in his last year of daycare/pre-k. Next year, he goes to "real school." That's it. To me, once they are in kindergarten, they have crossed over: no longer a baby. A kid. My last baby will be all grown up.

I have never been particularly sentimental about these sorts of things. I never felt this way about my first born. I've realized that we sorta missed out on this toddler-to-3-year-old-yummy stage with Ben. Ben turned 3 a month after Aidan arrived. And Aidan was a horrible baby. (Yes, I can say that. Trust me. He was.) I am not even exaggerating when I say that the kid cried--no, wailed--for the first four and a half months of his life. I'm serious. All the time. I remember driving around with the two boys in the backseat, Aidan squealing his completely hysterical red-faced shriek for no apparent reason, and Ben sitting with his hands over his ears, his face contorted in a look of pure hate as he stared at this little wailing ball of hysteria that was his new brother. That was the day I realized that it wasn't just Mommy and Daddy who were suffering with the latest addition to the family. And once the crying subsided, there were always new "issues." Aidan had a vomiting stage that lasted months (if you think I'm exaggerating, click on this blog's Labels actually has one called "Vomit.") He had a "I-refuse-to-sleep" stage. He just demanded a lot of our attention a lot of the time. Ben, on the other hand, was a very easy kid. We just didn't know it until Aidan came around.

So now, as I find myself walking into Aidan's room at night and watching him sleep, his arms up over his head in little relaxed fists, just like when he was a baby (on the rare occasion that he was actually sleeping peacefully, that is), I try to remember doing that with Ben. And I realized, recently, that I can barely recall Ben being this age at all. It dawned on me: of course, we were so busy with Aidan's first two years that we sorta passed by Ben's 3 and 4-year-old stages in a blur. We were just surviving then. There wasn't much time for sentimentality.

But now, here we are: Aidan is completely manageable and easy (except when he absolutely isn't), and Ben is like a whole little mini-adult. There are even days when we can send them both to shower and get dressed on their own, and (holy cow!) they do it! Some days they even manage to do it without any drama, screaming, fighting, or flooding of the bathroom.

So we have a little more time these make dinner, read a book, watch "Dancing with the Stars," sneak into their rooms at night to watch them sleep...and contemplate the passing of time and the filling in of those little hand dimples.


  1. I so understand what you are saying in this post, I'm really feeling this a lot at the moment too.

    My son is 7 but since my 11 year daughter moved to "big" school this past September and seems to be 11 going on 15 overnight (!)....I am realising just how quickly time passes & I'm aware that I am definitely trying to appreciate it all more.

    I've always tried to focus more on my son in that I've always been aware of him doing things and knowing that he was my last child, it would be the last time ever....I am totally sentimental!! BUT you are so right about being so lost & busy in a fog of just trying to cope, that suddenly you find a whole lot of stages have gone and suddenly there are certain child-related things that you just don't do anymore.

    My son is now able read to himself and although I still do read with and to him....sometimes I let him read and I'll disappear and do some chores. I'm kinda sad about it though!

    And I looked at him just yesterday and realised that his face is losing that baby-ness :(

    Okay, now I've made myself sad LOL!!

    I've just remembered that you made a comment on my Summer Reading List a few months ago and asked me about a book - would it have been "Life of Pi"?? I said it had been on my list for ages & I think you did too. Anyway, I finally read it....what a great read, so original, I really liked it. I hope it was that book, otherwise you'll think I'm nuts ;)

    Great post Liz XX

  2. I remember thinking the same thing about mine - after he's in kindergarten the baby is gone. But it's funny, the baby is still there. Well, you can still see glimpses of him at least until the fifth grade and that's when you will realize the baby is totally, totally gone.

    And as for The Life of Pi - if you haven't read it, it IS an excellent book.

  3. Aww, this resonates with future-me, because right now I have a 3.5 year old, and a 6 month old (both girls). And it is kind of disconcerting to think how much I've probably missed noticing in my older daughter these past 6 months. But what can you do?

    Nothing much, besides try to soak in the good stuff whenever you can, and get through the bad stuff not too much worse for wear.

    Thanks for a thought provoking and poignant post!


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