Tag Archives: two year old

I Miss the Brown Baby

Ever since Nora was born, I’ve been trying to give her a “lovey,” a blanket or bear or something for her to hold onto for comfort. Something that isn’t her thumb or my hair. My many attempts at choosing the comfort object have failed, however, and she prefers body parts to material objects in moments of discomfort.

Except at daycare.

At daycare she has a lovey – a “brown” baby. She gets in the car each morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to go and play with her friends and her doll. When I ask what she is going to do at school, she says, “play with the brown baby.” When I put her down on the floor of her classroom, she heads straight for the shelf where the brown baby resides overnight, picking her up and throwing her over her shoulder, where I imagine she spends the better part of the day. When we get back in the car in the afternoon, and I ask her what fun things she did that day while I was away teaching writing and literature, she says she played with her “brown baby.”

On Friday the brown baby took a trip to the washing machine. The teacher came and told Nora she was going to wash her and that she would be back on the shelf after nap time. When the teacher returned to the room after starting the laundry, Nora cuddled up close to her, “I miss the brown baby,” she said. Rubbing the teacher’s arm, Nora observed: “You’re brown.”

“Yes, I am,” said the teacher. And she sat there for a while to comfort Nora in the absence of her favorite baby.

When Miss R relayed this to me later in the afternoon, we both laughed. Nora is the kind of toddler who says what she thinks. She observed that Miss R and her daughter in Nora’s class are the the same color as her favorite baby.

As Miss R told me this story Friday afternoon, I began to wonder how Nora’s generation will “see” race. I grew up partly in a rather diverse city (and then in a completely homogeneous suburb), but I don’t remember it being as diverse as Nora’s world. I hope that a child who grows up with African-American teachers, an African-American doctor, African-American friends and a love for a special brown baby will not really even see race or color later on, that it will always be as simple and true as what she said innocently to Miss R on Friday. I hope that not only for Nora, but for all the toddlers who are growing up right now in an even more connected and tolerant age.

And because I don’t want Nora to miss her brown baby in two weeks when she isn’t at school each day, and because I am still on the quest to give Nora a comfort object at home, we went to Target today to buy our own brown baby. Nora carted her everywhere around the house and to my parents for dinner. She named her Big Sweetie.



Filed under daycare, routine with toddler

Mom, I Have Rocks In My Mouth

Playing with the new pool again tonight, Nora hobbled over, mouth crunched and crooked, eyes concerned and confused, “Mom, I have a rock in my mouth.” I had her open up, thinking that some of the gravel that had made its way into her plastic ocean had also made its way somehow into her mouth. I warily put my finger in to feel around since I couldn’t see anything. And I felt a rock too.

“It’s just your new tooth, Nora,” I said, feeling relief and joy and pain all at once as I stared at her two bulging bottom two-year-molars that have taken more than their sweet time entering her poor little mouth.

“Oh,” she said. “I don’t like these new teeth.”

I can’t blame her. When I looked at the “rocks” bugling from beneath her swollen gum tissue I wanted to yell out in pain for her. And there are FOUR of them. Four teeth larger than any other in her mouth, seemingly double the size of her one year molars. No wonder she’s been a bit of a pain lately. She’s in pain.

On Sunday night she woke up like a newborn, almost every two hours like clockwork until I broke down and brought her in our bed sometime in the early morning. On Monday night Ken suggested we give her some motrin. You see, I never think of medicine. I put off taking medicine of any kind for as long as I can. I’m not sure why I do this, but I always have, letting headaches bring me to tears and allergies ruin my days before I consider popping a pill to fix it. Ken, he takes cold medicine at the first sniffle and advil at the first muscle twinge. So it took him finally realizing that if he had these teething pains, he would want medicine before we remembered Nora might want it too.

Tuesday morning I worshiped the motrin gods as Nora slept without incidence. Why hadn’t I thought of that earlier?

I hate teething. It has been hard since tooth number one. I’m not sure if Nora’s extra sensitive or if teething just stinks for all babies, but when these four boulders finally make their final break, maybe I’ll throw us all a party.

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Some Days are More Two Than Others

Two weeks ago we took Nora to a friends’ house for dinner. Nestled in her backyard was a storybook house, miniature and perfect, just what Nora had always dreamed about, I’m sure. She played in the house, rocking in the chairs, building with her blocks we had brought. She didn’t eat much at dinner, but she didn’t fuss or complain, simply getting down from her chair and continuing to quietly construct towers with her blocks. She was an angel, perfectly behaved.

These are the moments that trick you into thinking that the “terrible two’s” are a myth, that you have the perfect child, are the perfect parent. And then nights like tonight happen to quickly bring you back down to earth. Because some days she is just more two than others.

By the time we left my parents from dinner tonight, Nora had stripped off all her clothes, momentarily running around naked until I caught her and told her she better not pee on Meme’s floor. She has recently discovered that she is capable of stripping off her clothes without assistance, which makes taking clothes off much more fun than putting clothes on these days. This nakedness ensued after repeatedly and purposefully spilled cheerios, regurgitated chicken, thrown rice and other lovely defiances. We took our almost naked daughter, put her in the carseat and headed home. She tricked me for a while by sitting quietly on my lap, reading her books. But bedtime didn’t go smoothly, perhaps because we’ve kept her up so much lately, perhaps because her molars are just white nubs under the thinnest surface of gum, perhaps just because she’s one of the bossiest two year old’s I’ve ever known.

Today being two meant all the stereotypes that go along with it. Let’s hope tomorrow she’ll trick me into thinking we’re all perfect again.

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On the list of my most traumatizing days as a parent, today has to be number one. And on the list of traumatized family members, Ken wins top spot, with me second and Nora – even though she was the one to whom the trauma occurred – ranks a distant third. And I guess that’s a good thing.

Despite having a relatively cranky morning and a different routine due to daycare closure for staff development, it seemed like a boring and normal Monday. That all changed when I got a text from Ken during a very serious meeting at school.

I could hear those capital letters screaming at me over the phone, so I ran into the hallway and called him.

“What is going on?” I asked, listening to Nora screaming in the background.

“Well, she just started choking, and then she was gasping for air. And then she coughed up some mucous and now she is screaming.”

“Is she breathing?”

“Yes. She’s not turning blue. I think she’s breathing.”

He sounded concerned. Ken’s a calm and patient person in almost every situation. If he was shaken by this I knew something had to be wrong.

I flashed back to last night when I had decided to skip a whole day of pulmicort treatments because it was already really late – way past her bedtime for the second night in a row. I immediately thought of asthma, feeling the immediate guilt for skipping that one precious dose. My lack of rational thinking in a moment of panic caused me to immediately conclude that this must be Nora’s first asthma attack.

“Give her albuterol and call the doctor,” I said. Storming back into the meeting I asked for someone to take me right home. Everyone jumped up, either eager to help me get to my needy child or to leave the meeting. I called Ken again and he said she was calming a bit, but I could still hear her, clearly unhappy, crying in the background. This time it was muffled by the albuterol misting out of the nebulizer.

My very calm colleague (who insisted he drive since other not-so-calm-colleagues may have landed me in a ditch in our desperation to reach Nora), talked me through the situation on the long 5 minute drive. We decided that if she was crying that loudly she must be getting enough air. We decided that the choking Ken described wasn’t really consistent with asthma symptoms. We decided that I couldn’t blame myself for the missed pulmicort dose.

About a minute from the house, my phone rang.

“How is she?” I immediately asked.

“Fine now that she coughed out the washer she apparently swallowed.”

No asthma, though maybe the albuterol (which makes Nora cough pretty violently) helped her cough out the nickel size washer that she had somehow swallowed.

I walked in (accompanied by my colleague who probably wanted to make sure everything was fine and that Nora really had recovered as quickly as it seemed and that Ken wasn’t going to spontaneously combust from the stress of the previous 15 minutes), and was relieved to see Nora on her changing table, telling me first off that she had a poop and secondly that she had a hurt throat. Ken wiped his brow of the accumulated sweat and handed her off to me so he could go and fold into the couch and try to recover.

Any parent who has had the same or similar trauma happen to them knows the what-if, could-have, should-have, why-me feelings that lurched in my stomach for the next couple of hours while Nora ran around finding roly polies and building with blocks and eating two cereal bars and a banana. She forgot her trauma quickly while Ken and I relived it numerous times. I had a pretty severe choking paranoia before, watching every bite Nora takes pretty closely, avoiding any food even on the outskirts of the choking hazard list. Now that paranoia apparently needs to focus more on foreign objects, not on the food on her plate.

We tried to explain to Nora that she can’t ever put things in her mouth, that her mouth is for food only. She can repeat that rule. She can tell us she will only eat food. But I’m not sure if she really understands what happened today. I’m not sure if she knows how lucky she is that it went in her food pipe, not her wind pipe, that she was able to cough it out, that she didn’t choose something just slightly larger.

As Ken and I were putting her to bed, we reminded her one last time. “Remember you can only eat food, Nora. Remember to never put anything but food in your mouth.”

“I scared you?” she asked.

“Yes. You really scared us.”

Maybe she understands, but probably she doesn’t. But she knew that she could call me back into her room three times tonight instead of the usual one; that she could get extra kisses and water and cuddles; that she could say “night-night Mama” and make me melt just a little more than I have in a while.

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Filed under fears, mom guilt, nebulizer, pulmicort, routine with toddler, toddler with asthma, worries

Back Seat Driver

Nora’s in a mom-only phase. Before I was a parent I thought these phases were cute, especially if you were the favored parent. But, really, they aren’t cute so much as emotionally and physically draining. These are the parts of being two that aren’t all that endearing – throwing a fit in the middle of the grocery store just because your father tried to hold you, or insisting that you sit on mom’s lap all through dinner just because you can, thus preventing her from having a hot dinner, or insisting that mom is the only one with talent enough to put on the velcro shoes you’ve chosen to wear that morning. I am waiting for a daddy only phase. I’m sure it will come, and my feelings will probably be hurt. But right now, in the throes of the mommy-only days, I feel like I need a little space.

So we went to the park. And on the way there she screamed at me to go because the light was green and I was sitting still waiting to turn. She’s old enough to know what the colors mean, but too young to see the speeding cars preventing me from going in her chosen direction. But, nonetheless, in this clingy phase, I am finding back seat driving a welcome respite from screaming for my attention. She honestly thinks she knows where we’re going and when I should stop and go. She’s my two-year-old back seat driver.

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Filed under manipulation, me time, routine with toddler

Call Backs

They sneak up on you, these little changes to the routine that suddenly become permanent. First it was reading two books, not one. Then it was singing three songs, not two. Then it was rotating parents, one night me and the next night Ken. Now it is call backs, and not the kind where you find out you have some really fantastic part in a play. No, these are the kind where you are screamed for in a loud but cute voice which, once you poke your head in the door, requests water or kisses.

Sometime last week Nora requested water before bed. She was either hiccuping or coughing, I can’t recall (I can’t honestly recall the start to most of her little routines). I was putting her to bed so Ken brought in some water for her to drink. The next morning, not only did she have the wettest diaper of her life, but she also recalled clearly that she had made this change, that she had exerted her toddler control on our finely tuned bedtime machine.

So the night after that it was water again. Then a few nights later it changed to a new cup since we had tried to just refill the old one. That’s when we realized it’s not really about the water. It was about seeing us again and controlling one more small aspect of her routine. After I had been gone for the weekend and there was no one to call back, she had to remember and adjust. She called Ken back in for more kisses. That’s a pretty good thing to be summoned for.

Tonight Ken tried unsuccessfully to head off the call back, asking Nora right up front, before I left the room for him to start reading, if she wanted water. She said she did and so I went to fetch it. As I was filling her blue sippy cup I heard, “MOM! I WANT WATER!” I brought it to her in her room.

“I called you back,” she said.

“Yes you did,” I agreed.

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Filed under bedtime routine, routine with toddler

My Two Year Old Is A Mean Girl

Nora really is full of sugar and spice and everything nice. That is, most of the time. This weekend (probably due to her new-found ability to say pretty much whatever she wants and the crankiness induced by still-yet-to-be-seen two year molars) her sugary self took a hiatus and her mean girl side emerged full force.

Nora isn’t exactly Miss Friendly when it comes to her classmates. I know she likes her “friends”; she talks about them at home and tells us of their many adventures, but when it comes to warming up to them in person, she’s not so into that. Each morning we arrive at daycare and a few of the toddlers yell, “Nora!” when she enters the room. They run over to her when I put her down, smiling and offering toys. She stands there, thumb in mouth, finger twirling her hair, head slightly cocked to one side. “Who me?” she seems to say, and walks away without even acknowledging them. It’s sometimes embarrassing if one of the other parents is there to witness her obvious snubbing.

So, from these morning encounters, I knew there was a mean girl somewhere inside her. At a daycare friend’s birthday party on Saturday, a father told me, after finding out that I’m a teacher, that he could see Nora as a teacher too. He commented that she likes to organize and show others how to do things. I think this was his nice way of saying that Nora can be bossy. Later, when Ken was trying to put her down for a nap and that wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, she snapped, “I want a new daddy!” Today when I was trying to put her down for a nap and, again, it wasn’t her idea of fun, she said, “Where’s my daddy? I love him.” When I asked if she loved me too she said no. Her mean streak even extended to her grandparents. When my mom suggested it was time for her and my dad to leave, Nora started saying goodbye and announcing their departure. It would have been rude if she wasn’t two. And, then, just to make sure we didn’t mistake her for her usual sweet and cuddly self, she announced to Papa on his way out, as she leaned in to kiss him, “Papa, you’re pink.” Which he is – a typical fair skinned former redhead. She did make sure, however, to not be all mean girl. She donned her sympathetic voice and told Papa, “You’ll be all better later.”

I guess I need to brace myself now for the teen years.

My favorite Mean Girls Quote:

Oh, I love seeing teachers outside of school. It’s like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs.

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Filed under drama queen, manipulation, naptime, refusing to nap in crib