Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pick a Number, Any Number

My husband and I have two kids.

Snoodie and Crinkles, as depicted by smiley peas

As Crinkles approaches the 9-month mark, I am beginning to get THE QUESTION with alarming frequency. And THE QUESTION is:

"So, do you think you guys will have another one?"

Depending on the asker, THE QUESTION can have entirely different subtexts.

From some (like Grandparents, or baby-happy friends, for example) it translates roughly to,

"That Crinkles of yours is getting way too large. Please make us a smaller one immediately. And if it's not too much to ask we'd really like a girl this time..."

From others it's more like,

"Oh, God. You're not one of those crazy families that's going to have like 8 kids and drive around in a bus are you?"

But, regardless of subtext, my answer remains constant,

"Thank you for your kind inquiry regarding my uterus. My lifemate and I are currently engaged in high-level talks on the subject."

Having begun to reproduce at the age of 37, I can say with some assurance that 6 more children are definitely not in my future. But a third? I have to admit the idea has some appeal.

Maybe it's because I come from a large family. And I mean like '100 people at Thanksgiving last year' large. At a recent family wake, when my aunt noticed at a gathering of three dozen or so mourners in an adjacent room, she declared with undisguised contempt,

"We get more than that for a bad cold."

My grandmother was one of thirteen. My Dad is one of six. I have so many first cousins that my husband and I have the following conversation on a regular basis:

ME: Hey, my cousin is coming to town...
HUSBAND: The one who owns the restaurant?
ME: No.
HUSBAND: The handbag designer?
ME: No.
HUSBAND: One of the Mollys?
ME: No.
HUSBAND: The one who works for Fox?
ME: No.
HUSBAND: The one who drives the Shelby?
ME: No.
HUSBAND: The one who was in a coma for a while?
ME: Okay, if you don't stop guessing we are going to be here all night.

Coming as I do from such a sprawling mass of humanity, I think stopping after two children would just feel like an underperformance.

That being said, I recognize that, unlike my forebearers, who had family farms to tame and/or lax child labor laws to exploit with their expansive broods, I have no real NEED to have more kids. Nor, if I'm being honest, do I find myself at present with an extra quarter of a million dollars burning a hole in my pocket these days.

Still, I cling steadfast to what I feel is the most compelling argument for a three-child minimum.

And that is my theory of the "Valve Sibling".

The purpose of the Valve Sibling (sometimes known by its more common name, 'the third sibling') is to serve as a valve for when the relationship between Sibling Number One and Sibling Number Two becomes problematically pressurized.

Let me give you an example from my own life.

I have two sisters. They are both genuinely made of Grade-A sister stuff. Nonetheless, throughout our lifetimes I have engaged in some epic Cain-and-Abel-level conflict with each of them. And at such times, I count myself lucky to have a valve sibling to turn to.

Whenever my older sister and I get into it, at some point both of us will go to our corners, pick up our phones, and call our younger sister to chronicle for her the other's faults in minute detail. At that point younger sister, serving as the valve, listens politely, cools tempers and enforces calm.

And soon, my older sister and I have reconciled and all is right with the world. All because of the valve sibling.

Then, at times when my sisters are annoying each other, I'm their valve.  I tell you, the valve sibling is truly the gift that keeps on giving!  Whatever the downsides of a larger family may be, I'm not sure that having a valve sibling is something I can deny my own children.

So that's where we stand on the Kid #3 debate. One the one hand there's the force of family history and the unquestionable logic of the valve sibling. On the other hand, A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS, people.

Negotiations remain ongoing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You might the parent of a two-year-old if...

  • Your personal hygiene scale has been reset. You used to max out at "musty", but now you regularly find yourself sailing past "fetid" well on your way to "rancid" before managing to make it into the shower.
  • When you hear a piece of classical music you find yourself singing along to the version emitted by your child's favorite electronic toy (Everybody now to the tune of Mozart's 'Eine Kleine Nachtmusik'! One! Two, three! Four, five, six, seven, eight! Then, there's nine! Counting's really great!)
  • You understand that the phrase "Ai yike eee eye cweeem da mooste!" is a request for dessert.
  • You carefully planned out an area in your home for children's toys. Now you have Tonka trucks in your bed, duckies in your bathtub, three strollers on your front lawn, and a strangely shrieking robot roaming your kitchen. It begins to occur to you that your plan has failed.
  • Your spouse regularly comes upon you sobbing, but no longer bothers to ask what's wrong.
  • You find nothing disturbing about the phrase, "Time to powder those fat rolls!"
  • Laundry isn't a chore. It's a way of life.
  • You haven't seen a movie in the theater since, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
  • You've done some advance calculations and know exactly how far you can wander from the vehicle with your child inside before passersby are likely to contact child protective services. You are now regularly making it into the 7-11 for a cup of coffee while yelling, "That's my baby! I didn't forget him! I know he's there!"
  • You've experienced the following marital interaction: a beautiful baby has arrived and your OB advises you that you should refrain from sexual activity for six weeks. You attempt to cry out, "Only six weeks??!" but are drowned out my your husband's cry of: "You mean SIX WHOLE WEEKS??!"
...and finally, you might be the parent of a two-year-old if...
  • You no longer find it remarkable that you regularly discover another person's poop in your hair.
Feel free to add anything I've missed in the comments section...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Age of Reason

Snoodie, as I've mentioned, has started to talk.

And I must admit that even though I'd read enough of the literature to understand that such a development was likely, I nevertheless find the fact that he is actually talking to me continuously surprising. Like, imagine if one of your shoes starting talking to you:

Yeah, that's pretty much how I feel every day.

And the Snood talks ALL THE TIME. The guy's of a one-man monologue, as he issues forth on a random, yet seemingly limitless range of observations such as:










...and accompanied by a stern face and much finger wagging...


I admit that there have been moments (like, say, sometime around Snoodie's 8,000th recitation of the lyrics of the ill-conceived children's DVD ditty "Vinko the Dancing Bear") that I have longed slightly for those days before he ever acquired the power of speech. But those moments rarely last long.

In fact, of late I have begun to consider the potential upsides of all this talkin'. Like, for example, I thought maybe it could help me address the disaster that in our house is called..........NAP TIME.

For the past several months, Snoodie has gotten in the habit of regularly trashing his room during nap time. And I'm talking, like, the FULL Charlie Sheen. I'll put him in his room around one, and then instead of closing his eyes and settling down for some much needed slumber, he instead leaps from his bed to wage a massive and unrelenting campaign of merciless destruction.

This begins a multi-hour battle during which I come into his room repeatedly to grab him from his lofty perch atop the closet (where he's shimmied in order to more effectively hurl clothing, stored diapers, shoes, and the odd discarded toy onto the floor below) and coax him back to bed.

I'll do this approximately 45 times before finally conceding defeat and giving up on nap time all together.

But this week I thought to myself,

"Hey, what about all that talking the Snood's been doing?"

...and I decided it was time for old Speachey-Von-Snoodle and I to have a heart-to-heart.

I sat him down on the bed and looked deeply and lovingly into his little hazel eyes.

"Snoodie", I told him firmly, "Mommy does not like it when you make a big mess. At naptime, it is important that you get your rest instead of throwing your things all over the place! So today, I don't want you to wreck your room. Instead I want you to close your eyes and go to sleep. That would be the better choice."

Snoodie nodded solemnly and seemed deeply impressed by my words.

After a long pause, he took a deep breath and shouted at full volume,


...before dashing off to attack his closet with renewed vigor.

It wasn't exactly the, "What a good point, Mommy, I shall do as I'm told from this point forward!" I was hoping for.

No, for us, it seems, the age of reasoning with our offspring is still a ways off. For the time being we'll apparently have to content ourselves with the age of moving things to higher and higher shelves while listening to our offspring reciting,

"He's V! He's I! He's N-K-O! He's Vinko the Dancing Bear!"

And if those of you with older children are aware that, in fact, this magic age of reason never arrives... do me a favor and don't tell me. It's the only thing keeping me going at naptime.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Who's On First?

Crinkles recently turned 8-months-old, which means that at present my life is a constant and often losing attempt to chronicle each of his "FIRSTS".

Grandparents in other states wonder if Crinkles has cut his first tooth, friends ask if he's said his first word, and blank spaces in Crinkles' baby book demand documentation of a bizarre range of firsts including

I rolled over on __________________!

I smiled at mommy on _____________!

...and the decidedly random...

I first noticed my hands on __________!

All of which seems to confirm my theory that the prime purpose of Baby Books is to engender feelings of inadequacy in parents for failing to document their children's first year with the detailed eye of a seasoned journalist. For my part, the Baby Books of Snoodie and Crinkles glare down at me daily from the bookshelf, their spines glinting in condemnation. Sometimes, late at night, I hear them speak to me:

"You don't remember the precise date that your child's left lateral incisor came in, do you? DO YOU???"

At least with Snoodie's book I made a half-hearted effort. But alas, poor Crinkles. I picture us someday sitting together and reviewing the glaring omissions in his chronicle as I desperately try to explain:

"I'm sorry, sweetie! Mommy doesn't know exactly when you first noticed your hands. Maybe you did it on that day that your older brother got stuck in the oven and so I kind of missed it? Or maybe it was the day you two coated the playroom in ketchup? There was kind of a lot going on....

What do you say we make up for lost time and spend some quality mom and son time noticing our hands together right now?"

*cue angry Crinkles storming from the home*

And let's be real. Even if I did somehow have the sort of free mental bandwith that would allow me to monitor my children on a moment by moment basis, alert for any signs of potential hand noticing, I'm still not sure I would have an accurate accounting of each of their firsts.

Because as it turns out, firsts are surprisingly difficult to quantify.

Like, for example, last Tuesday Crinkles said his first word. We were sitting at the dining room table enjoying some delicious chicken soup when he paused between bites, looked at me thoughtfully, and clearly intoned,


Which, as we all know, is the Capital of Azerbaijan.

But could I rightly log the momentous moment into Crinkles' baby book? Did it really constitute a first word? While his pronunciation was perfect, I must admit there is nothing in my 8-month-old's background to suggest that he has any real familiarity with the Caucasus region of Eurasia in which Baku is located.

No, I decided, "Baku" could not be considered his first word.

And, for that matter, neither could the many other obscure national capitals that cropped up during his days of babbling. (Zagreb, anyone?) So, I decided I'm holding out for a traditional 'Mama' or 'Dada' (though I might settle for a 'Ba-Ba' should a bottle or, perhaps, a sheep be nearby at the time).

And when it does come all I can do is hope that I have the presence of mind to write it down.