Monday, June 02, 2008

Thirty-Three Months: My Letter to Little Man

I never knew that having a toddler meant that I would end up in deep existential conversations. One night, when it was just you and me at home, you suddenly said "just Mama and Little Man." And I said, "yup, just the two of us." "Just you (pointing to me) and me (pointing to yourself)." "Uh-huh, just me and you," I stupidly responded. That's when you shook your finger at me, something that I get at least five times a day these days, and you said "no, no, I'm me and you're you! You're not me and I'm not you!"

Uhm... Right. So I stupidly continued "Yeah, but to me, I'm me and you're you." You became very agitated at that point, like you couldn't even understand how I could get it so wrong and be so clueless. After five minutes of back and forth, I finally gave up and agreed that I was not, in fact, me, a throwback to my days as a teenager when I tried to act like I was actually not a geek who once challenged herself to read the dictionary cover to cover.

You also somehow landed a job with the Department of Motor Vehicles this month, because it's the only explanation I can think of for you bizarre attitude when I'm driving. No longer am I allowed to take a hand on the steering wheel ever. The second I do, you scream "TWO HANDS ON WHEEL, MAMA!" like you're going to write me a ticket if I don't comply.

No excuses are acceptable for the removal of hands from the steering wheel, whether I have something in my eye that is about to make me steer us into oncoming traffic, even if I'm sitting at a red light and want to change radio stations. I'm certain that if my shirt spontaneously combusted into flames, I wouldn't be allowed to beat the fire out, if I hadn't pulled over, turned the engine off and stepped out of the vehicle. You also like to remind me that I need to watch for other cars. Which is very helpful advice and better than my previous way of thinking, which was take out as many of the morons around us as possible.

You developed a deep love of band aids this past month, and I'm pretty sure that band aid's parent company is watching their demand go through the roof and are wondering why they can't keep Texas shelves stocked fast enough. I've put band aids on cuts and knicks and bumps and bruises. But I also put a band aid once on your hand because you had dried hot sauce on it. It seemed like a lot less work to just agree with you that you had a boo boo, rather than fight with you for 10 minutes. The next morning, when you woke up, the band aid had fallen off your hand, and you asked me, confused "where'd my band aid go?" And then you looked down at your hand, and the dried hot sauce had come off your hand overnight or been washed away by a hand washing and, stupefied, you said "where'd my boo boo go?" I think that incident only further convinced you of the magical powers of band aids.

You've grown by leaps and bounds this month it seems. I'm not sure if it's the potty training or some other factor, but you seem like such a big boy to me these days. And yet, you're still very much a toddler, one who begs me for popsicles for breakfast and donuts for dinner. Although this morning, you decided to throw me a curve ball when you demanded "fruits and vegebles" for breakfast. I was so confused, that I almost blurted out "you don't want a popsicle?" but luckily, I caught myself in time, figuring this was probably some toddler reverse psychology trick that one of your buddies taught you.

We had your first ever parent-teacher conference this month and I wasn't sure what to expect. I mean, it's not like I was worried or anything. I know that you're smart and bright and that you listen very well. And you're the best-looking kid in your class, so really, there's not much bad that could come out of this. But I worry about you. I worry that you don't have friends, or that you're too quiet, or that maybe you cry when I'm not there. And I was scared that your teacher would say something to me about those things that she would blame on my incompetency as a mother. When I was growing up, I never understood why my parents would get so upset when they got a negative report from a teacher about me (in my case, it was always that I talked too much, go figure!). "What's the big deal?," I'd wonder. But now that I'm a parent myself, I can understand it better, and someday, should you have kids, maybe you'll understand it yourself. Your kids are a reflection of you. Sure, they are their own personality and there's only so much control you can have. But when your child does well, the parents are congratulated as much as the child is. But when a child misbehaves or isn't acting in a way society expects it will, the parents feel like the disapproving look isn't just for their child, it's for them too.

But all my worries were for nothing. The teacher assured us that you were smart and helped her kick other kids' hineys in gear. That you helped others with their work. That you had friends, particularly a very quiet boy who spends all of his outside time digging dirt with a stick, an activity that you have begun to partake in with him so that he wouldn't be alone. She said that you were compassionate and sweet and funny, all things that parents dream of hearing that their child are when they're not around.

And then she said something about you that will forever change us. She said that you were the best cleaner upper in the entire classroom. I think this is the part your father and I fell out of those tiny toddler-sized chairs. We told her to check her files, that she was confusing you with some other child, because the Little Man we live with, takes out every single toy from his toy box and rolls his eyes at you when you even hint at him putting something away.

She smiled at us and assured us that nope, this was true, that you were living a double life as a neat child at school and a slob at home.

So now we're on to you. There were a couple of rough days there, where you chose to go to time alone six times in a row, rather than put away your stuff. Finally, you determined that I was serious and that there would be no getting out of this cleaning up crap.

And even though you're not as perfect as you are at school, you know what? Neither am I. And that's ok.

The fact that when you go somewhere with you Daddy, when you walk out the door you say to me "bye Mama! I love you!" in that sweet melodic toddler voice of yours. Well, I can deal with any mess because of that.

I love you, my Little Man,



Wonderful World of Weiners said...

I think I love your Little Man too!

Enjoy all his wonderful toddler goodness while it lasts.

It is simply an awesome time.


Becca said...

Isn't this a sweet little age? (when you aren't wanting to kill them, that is)

the planet of janet said...

so sweet! i love this age (except when i don't)

Kathryn said...

What a precious, precious little man.
Boy, is he gonna love the letters when he gets older. So sweet!

random_mommy said...

as usual, great letter!


Haphazardkat said...

isnt it amazing how they are different creatures out of our line of sight?!!

Anonymous said...

I love you, too, Little Man :)

It's odd to me that I can love this age so much and yet hate it so much all in the blink of an eye.


Marmarbug said...

Yay for the good report Little man! he is such a cutie patootie!!!
It is almost bittersweet to watch them at this age and rememeber that not long ago they were just little babies.

Rachel said...

What a sweet letter. LM is so lucky to have a mama that loves him so much.

Colleen said...

what a handsome little man he is!