Monday, May 21, 2007

We have a problem.

And the problem is that our kids don't like to sleep. Actually, I guess that wouldn't be a problem if I didn't like to sleep, myself, so maybe I'm the one with the problem. It would probably be easier for me to stop needing sleep than to get both children to sleep well.

Nate is asleep in his room right now. He naps OK in his crib during the day, you see. But around 6/7:00 at night he develops a sleepiness allergy. He begins to squeal and scream and shriek as if being murdered. For reals. And once he is (finally) nursed/patted/walked/bounced into unconsciousness, he will wake up instantly if placed in his crib. So he has to stay on one of us to sleep. Fun times.

It's a lot like how his sister used to be, not coincidentally. Her sleep problem has matured into a willful refusal to go to bed. Naptime is relatively OK, but nighttime is a horror show, and it has been for a long, long time. We do our nightly pre-bedtime routine, tuck her in, turn down the lights, kiss her good-night, and shut her door. Within a few minutes she's out and in the living room, asking for one stuffed animal or another, or for a drink of water, or to have her blanket placed upon her just so. If we have convinced her to stay in her bed (through a variety of threats/bribes/cajolings) she will scream out for us, sobbing: "Mommmmmeeeeeee! Dadddddeeeeeeee! Somebody come sit with me!!!!!" And if we give in, through our own weakness or pity or shame or exhaustion, and come in and sit next to her, in the dark, while she falls asleep? Well: she will try very hard to get us to talk to her. She will ask questions that are so random and charming that you will be tricked into answering them. "What color pants are you wearing, Mommy?" "Where's Daddy?" "What are you having for dinner?" "Tell me a story about shy dogs!" "What should I dream about, Mommy?"

And if you successfully ignore her questions and you can stop her singing to herself (and even the quietest singing counts, yes even humming) and you just stay there in the quiet darkness, with her all snuggled up under the covers with all the appropriate stuffed animals and sippy cups nearby, well, sleep must surely follow, right? No. Perhaps you will stay there for 10 minutes. Perhaps 30. Maybe even longer. Then her breathing will be regular and deep and you will try to leave, and as soon as you stand up she will murmur "don't go!" and if you tell her good-night and continue to leave she will begin to scream and howl just like she did BEFORE you sat with her. So what, exactly, was the point?

Eventually she does fall asleep, but it's due to some mysterious alchemy, some ever-changing specific combo of moves and tones of voice and words and timing. And after all that, more often than not, she will wake up during the night crying, again, needing more attention.

Add up the Lula and Nate bedtime situations and you have a complete and absolute nightmare. Obviously it requires both parents to devote their evenings to the children's sleeping projects. Once we get Lula down Scott and I have about an hour before our own bedtimes, and we spend that hour sharing baby duty. It. Just. Sucks.

I was going to make this post funny, somehow, but our sad daily reality is so bleak that I just can't. Here's what I am hoping: that Nate will grow out of this, and one day I'll put him down to sleep at night and he'll actually stay asleep. And then Lula will see him sleeping in his own bed and not getting extra attention from Mommy, and she'll decide that this nightly struggle isn't worth it. If anyone out there has some helpful and loving advice, I'd like to hear it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Where's My Mommy? Where's My Mommy?

Object pairs (one large, one small) that have been anthropomorphized into Mother/Baby dyads during pretend play with my daughter Tallulah:
• French Fries
• Forks
• Spoons
• L-brackets
Woody figures (as in "Mommy Woody" and "Baby Woody")
• Binder Clips
• Twigs

Scott would like it noted that there is never a "Father" object.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Perceptive Infant

Yesterday was Nate's third visit to NYU's Infant Perception Lab. While I was recovering from labor at NYU Medical Center I was asked to volunteer my child for these experiments, and I said Yes! For what we need more of is Science! This time, as with the other times, Nate sat on my lap and was shown various objects on a computer screen while his reactions/looking times were recorded. The theory behind all of this is that babies will look longer at objects that are new and interesting, and thus the researchers can see, for example, if babies can tell that a 3-D object is impossible (a la Escher). But the twist this time was that they wouldn't let me look at the screen, lest I subconsciously effect Nate's reactions with my jostling/holding/shushing him. Afterwards it was revealed that it was a test of gender differences in spatial acuity. Hello! It turns out that boys perform better on spacial tests than girls, and they're trying to figure out how early this starts, and thus whether it's due to nature or nurture or some combo of the two.

The test showed Nate a complex 3-D shape (like a couple of 3-D Tetris pieces stuck together) rotating back and forth. Once he was bored with that, he was shown the reverse side of the 3-D shape alternated with a MIRROR IMAGE of the 3-D shape. I personally couldn't tell the difference, but Nate could! He looked longer at (thus was more interested in) the mirror image shape, because it was "new" to him! Pretty incredible. Though I'm hoping he was better at this not because I am a lady and he is a boy but because I was only shown the shapes for a second or two and he had a couple of minutes to study them. But still: 3 months old, and he can notice these things. See what Science has already taught us?

Afterwards I took a bus over to the Giant Robot store(s) and bought me some more Japanese capsule toys. I am such a sucker for the Asian toy design. I bought another Wan Room toy and some more Rice Ball toys (image seemingly unavailable on the entire WWW.) In more adult news, I have also now bought a total of six pieces of art from the Giant Robot New York gallery, including four different prints from the current show, which is about to close but which you can browse here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Day for the Mothers.

For Mother's Day I received a drawing of myself on fire (from Tallulah) and my son's first laugh (from Nathaniel.) Scott got him chuckling by taking his feet and touching them to his nose. The feet and the nose both belonged to Nate, in that situation there.

Lula's been trying to figure out what makes something funny. I've been teaching her different jokes and she then riffs on the jokes, substituting various nouns and verbs so that the resulting new joke is completely meaningless.

Original Joke: Why did the girl throw the butter out the window? Because she wanted to see a butterfly!
Lula Version: Why did the butter throw the cream cheese out the window? Because she wanted to see a chair!
So basically she doesn't understand the original joke to begin with, is what I'm sensing.

She also goes off on these Guess What benders, with each "joke" followed by her loud fake laughter. Guess what? Chicken butt! Guess what? Mommy butt! Guess what? Chair butt! Guess what? Toilet! Guess what? Car!

It is true that the adults around her are constantly giggling at Lula even when she isn't making jokes. We laugh in delight at her cuteness. We laugh because she has a precocious vocabulary and a very adorable voice. We laugh because She Thinks She's People. We adults are not helping her figure out what is actually humorous and what is merely delightful. She is also only 3 years old.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

New attraction at the Mollusk House

Scott: Tell me a story about the clam and the oyster.
Lula: One day there was a clam walking through the forest. And the hunter trapped him and took him to a zoo. And he put him in a wall -- a unicorn wall. The unicorn made a tunnel wall but the clam was stuck there. The clam stayed there and no one could help him. The End.
Me: Wait! I want to hear the rest!
Lula: I can't.
Me: But that's sad, that the clam is stuck in the zoo and no one can help him.
Lula: The End.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Heart like a sieve

Finally took Nate to a pediatric cardiologist yesterday to check up on the heart murmur he was diagnosed with at birth. The doc was at Brooklyn Hospital which is located a good 15 minutes' walk from the nearest bus stop. That's the Achille's heel of Ft. Greene, if you ask me. But anyway. The nurses there weighed him (17.5 lb.! f'n heavy!) and measured him (26.75 in.! huge!) and checked the oxygen saturation of his blood (100! apparently that's adequate!) Then they stuck stickers all over his naked little torso and attached alligator-clamped wires to the stickers, thus turning him into one of those pod-babies whose energy is destined to be harvested by The Machines. Except cuter; you can see the cell-phone pic here.

The take-away is that he's fine. He still has a couple of pin-sized holes in his ventricular septum, but they'll probably heal up over time, and even if they don't, nothing could or should be done about them. The doc referred to the defects as "squeakers" because they sound like a tiny "squeak" during the heartbeat, instead of a big whoosh of a more serious heart murmur.

The saddest tidbit (that's the title of my new children's book, BTW: The Saddest Tidbit) is that the doc and nurses kept remarking on Nate's great size and robustness. Not because he's a fat baby (which he is) but because the babies they usually see are seriously premature and thus very weak and tiny. To his credit Nate was happy and smiling throughout the procedure, even when his mom was on the verge of starting to maybe freak out a little.

In closing I thought I'd throw out here a Thing I Never Thought I'd Have To Say:
"Stop rubbing cheese on your feet."

Sunday, May 6, 2007

I fixed a lamp!

I fixed a lamp today. The switch part no longer switched, so I bought a new one and replaced the old one with it. I figured out how to do it just by taking apart the old, broken one and re-doing that with the new one. I did have to learn the Underwriter's Knot, though.

Today was Nate's first time at Quaker Meeting. He slept on me (in the Bjorn) the entire time, and snored on and off. He is generally a noisy baby.

After we returned from meeting (a bus ride away) Lula was stumble-drunkily tired. She tripped while trying to walk in front of the sofa and decided to just get comfy and fall asleep where she lay. It was pathetic. She hadn't eaten lunch yet, so when I carried her to her bed, she kept saying "I'm not hungry, OK? I just want to sleep, OK?" Like, yes, normally I would hold your eyelids open and force-feed you some pizza bites, but in this case I'll make a special exception. Sheesh.

BTW, I originally typed "it's a bed rude away" in the previous paragraph, there.

Lula made up a joke today:
Knock Knock!
(who's there?)
(Toilet who?)
Toilet the real toilet!

I don't get it either.

Time to crawl into my bed rude and collapse where I fall. G'night, folks!