Category Archives: Otter

Buttons come and Buttons go

He didn’t notice I couldn’t play.

He didn’t see the effort it took to be there, with him, to be awake and present.

He simply said “I’m sorry you hurt” then went to his bed and brought over the little lap desk he uses for his computer.  He set it up on the bed, grabbed his backpack and favorite books and settled in, saying “Let’s do my homework mommy”.

We read first, because he likes to tackle the hard part first. He read Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons and we giggled. He made up a song for the chorus, and we sang it together. At the end he read, Buttons come and buttons go, but Pete just kept singing his song. Then he turned to me and said “Pete the cat is right mom.  Sometime stuff comes and sometimes it goes, but we should keep singing our song.”

After homework we put away the desk and backpack, pencils and books, and he got ready for bed.

He didn’t know how much of my day I spent feeling as though I was letting him down.  He doesn’t know how easily he showed me how not to.  His desire was to do his homework with me, and he built a way to do it, regardless of what limitations I had.

At bedtime he held my hand in his and I sat with him while he shifted from side to side, his poor little head still uncomfortable from his ear infection.  So I took an ultra soft pillow, laid his head on it in my arms and held him until he fell asleep. I held him while he settled in, began to breathe deeply, and drifted off.  His hand never let go of mine.

Buttons come and buttons go but my little guy just keeps singing his song.

Now I am invisible.

My family went to Yellowstone for Christmas two years ago.  My son, then four, went with me to get long underwear.  It can fall well below zero at Yellowstone in the winter and though we had down coats and solid shoes, I wanted long underwear for my little ones.

When we arrived at the store the only pair they had in his size were bright pink.  I turned to him.

Look at this happy color! Won’t these be nice?

I half expected there to be a problem or some scoffing comment about girl colors.  He had never been really particular about colors before, but like all children, he could be particular when it was the most inconvenient for you.  However, this time he was thrilled.

I love pink!! I can’t wait to wear these! He clutched the package to his chest and ran toward the register. Bemused, I followed.

That night he wanted to wear them. I told him he had to wait until we got to Yellowstone.  He kept peeking into the luggage to stroke the bright pink long johns.

We arrived in Jackson, WY and found our way to a hotel.  When we got to the room the very first question out of his mouth was Can I wear them yet?

Yes.  Giving in I unpacked them and handed them to a young man who was literally bouncing on the balls of his feet in excitement.  He ran into the bathroom to change.

A few minutes later he came out covered neck to ankle in bright pink.

I am all over pink! Now I am invisible! You cannot see me!! He chortled mightily as he ran around being invisible, greatly enjoying the laughter his enjoyment caused the family.

Pink, apparently, is the color of invisibility and pink long johns are the equivalent to an invisibility cloak.  He wore the heck out of those things, thoroughly convinced that he was invisible each and every time.

The last baby.

It’s a distinction he bears with pride.  It started when he told me he wanted a younger brother, so he could have a boy to play with.  My heart constricted in my chest and tears welled up in my eyes.

“I can’t have anymore babies my love, you are my last baby.”

“Your last baby? Why am I your last baby?” He asked, eyes widening as he tried to wrap his six year old mind around a very adult concept.

“Remember when mommy had the last surgery?”

“Yes. You couldn’t pick me up forever, and you cried.”

“Yes” I managed to whisper over the lump in my throat. “When I had that surgery, they took out the parts that let me have another baby. So that is why you are my last.”

He was silent as he absorbed this.  Maybe it was something in my tone of voice or the look on my face but he sat with my statement for a long time, treating it with more seriousness than I thought he could.

“That’s really sad mommy, that you can’t have another baby.” He threw his arm around my neck and snuggled into me, giving me a chance to breathe in the unique smell of his sweat and shampoo. “But I am a little glad I got to be your last  baby.” He kissed me on the cheek and snuggled in close, pulling me towards him with both of his little boy arms.

“I am glad too sweetheart” I murmured as I rested my chin upon his head and closed my eyes.

“And Mommy? Don’t worry, I will always be your baby.”

Flying hand syndrome…

Tonight I found myself thinking about how much better a mother I seem to be when I am not working 40+ hours a week.

I don’t mean I am a better mother because I am spending more time with my children. I think working mothers can absolutely spend enough quality time with their kids and quite often do a better job of focusing on that than I do when I am home all the time. I mean that I am more patient with my children when I am not thinking about three gazillion things waiting out in the other room for me to deal with.

I came to this realization tonight when I started to get impatient with my sweet baby boy at bedtime. He had developed the “flying hand syndrome”, that bedtime things kids do to stay awake when you finally get them to lie down and be quiet. Otter will lie still and tap his finger rhythmically on the pillow, or pull at his forelocks, or fly his hand slowly back and forth across the backdrop of his comforter. Monkey did it too, this litany of sleep preventatives invented by brilliant children with too much “letter of the law” in them to outright rebel at bedtime, thereby necessitating an arsenal of subversive sleep avoidance behaviors.

These behaviors drove me crazy when Monkey did them but hadn’t bothered me with Otter until very recently. Tonight I figured out why.

When Monkey went through her subversive sleep resistence phase I was in college and would wait until she had gone to bed to whip out my books and study for hours on end. Every time I put her to bed there was this looming list of “to do’s” waiting for me. Each tap of the finger, every rhythmic tick of the foot, each little hum drove me into a state of intense frustration as I analyzed exactly how much less time I had to get back to my school work.

With Otter I just giggled at his obvious attempts to stay awake. I found them charming and cute. I enjoyed them until I went back to work full-time and began depending on the post bedtime hours for my law practice. Then suddenly each baby hand flight path chopped off valuable time from my night’s billable hours. I began to get cranky and frustrated and unhappy with our normal bedtime routine. This impatience resulted in less quality time at bedtime. It resulted in a less comforting and comfortable mommy presence helping the little ones drift off to sleep.

To be completely honest with myself I should be cherishing these little moments. I should love each minute spent snuggled against a soft baby body awaiting the even uninterrupted ebb and flow of sleeping baby’s breath. I know how fleeting this time is. I am completely aware of how soon he will leap up and get too busy to snuggle his mom, I have already undergone that transition with my daughter.

In reality my days dealing with this problem are numbered. Time will march on and my baby will find new and creative ways to delay bedtime that don’t include soft snuggles. Why am I letting myself view these precious times as impositions? The soft dusky moments spent at bedtime are the times I have been working for. I should be viewing the things that take me away from them as the impositions.

So my goal is to let go of the sense of urgency and simply enjoy my time with little Otter as he tries all the weapons at his disposal to delay bedtime. I am lucky that most of them involve sloppy baby kisses, soft pats, and quiet giggles.