Friday, September 12, 2008

Uh.....Not Quite Harriet Nelson

Right now I am sitting at a great little kid's place. I'm not going to divulge the secret name here, because thank God it's only sparsely populated. I mean to each their own, but raging, eardrum shattering children's indoor play spaces are...just not my thing. This is perfect, a gaggle of young kids, enough to find a playmate in, but not utter chaos. Similar to Jungle Java, in that they have a large, indoor playscape and a healthy Kid's Cafe, but different because they also have three wonderfully themed playrooms, one with trains, trucks and construction. Perfect! There are also ride-on toys for zooming around, and for me......Wi-Fi !!!!!! Free Wi-Fi and lots of squishy lounge chairs for parents! I can semi-relax and even blog or read for a bit. Of course I keep a steady eye on Noah, but thankfully this place is truly fenced in, no child can leave through the locked front lobby gate without their parent signing out.
I've since moved around this place, so far, so good. Noah has surprisingly agreed to take a bite of his peanut butter and Jelly sandwich, and he's eaten the applesauce and spilled the milk, ALL.OVER. Oh well, at least we're having fun. In fact Noah has just made a new friend, an adorable, long haired blond boy. I'm sitting here, with the remnants of Noah's lunch, waiting for another bite-and-run on the sandwich, and a Mom has just come up to me to rat out this new friend of his. A Mother of two, she quietly walked up and said through the side of her mouth ; "I just wanted you to know that you should keep and eye on your son, that boy he's playing with, that kid is a real brute!" She goes on; "He just walked up and hit my son for no reason!" I just smiled and thanked her and said that I'm not too worried. What I didn't tell her was that actually tattle Mom, what you didn't see, is an hour ago, when we walked in and started playing in the train room, your son marched up to Noah, yelled at him, and grabbed up all of the trains. I re-directed Noah to the trucks where this little boy again followed and grabbed up those toys too.

While unpleasant, the hitting and hording and arguing are normal three-year-old characteristics in many children. What I really wanted to say to this Mother was that you shouldn't go around bad talking three-year-olds that don't belong to you , especially if you're blind to your own "little angel's " behavior.
Double ugh.
I continually put myself in places where I'm the odd woman out. I put myself in these situations where I just feel uncomfortable. I am not a big time breeder. I only have one child and truthfully, everyone in this place has two or three and I think there is a party of five sitting next to me. There are numerous pregnant women here and a bunch of babies. It's not paranoia. It isn't. I really do get looks at these places as I walk in sometimes. Maybe it's because I just have one child and no infant in tow. Maybe it's because Noah looks about two and a half, but speaks so loudly, and babbles on as we enter with his mouth of a five year old. Maybe it's that I look weird, I'm dorky and sometimes dress not so...not so mommy uniform-ish. Whatever it is, we do get the stare down, like today.

The upside is, most times, really always, after the stares, people are very nice and friendly. I like to talk and meet everyone too, so it always works out. It's just uncomfortable at first. I've never fit in, my whole life.
Everybody around me is having babies. In fact, Sarah just had a beautiful baby girl named Sadie this week! I've blogged about it before, about being seemingly the only Mother around with a single child, as one by one last year, all of Noah's classmates and friends had additions to their brood.
Once again, I inadvertently had a way of not following the flock. It's not so bad, as a little girl I prided myself on being, well, myself! It is the constant..CONSTANT..."when are you having another?" questions that gets to me. Yesterday it was the maintenance woman at Noah's nursery school that asked me out of the blue. I don't even, really know her! So when she asked if I was going to have more, I just looked her in the eye and said quite dead-pan.."Probably not." It was...uncomfortable.
Internet, I've said all of this before, and there are so so many reasons why we just have Noah right now, it's quite complicated. Who knows, one day adoption might be in our cards, but then again its a big might.

The things is, I oscillate between very short, very hysterical weeks of wanting another baby, and then months of thanking my stars that I only have one to care for and raise and focus on. What is with me!? I mean, it seems that everybody else that I know, they got that "itch". The, "my kid is 18 months to two years old and I want another" itch. It's supposed to be this standard thing in the western world.

I really doubt myself, I question myself. Am I the only one without that itch?
You are now hearing from The 2008, Dolphin School's * four year old classroom's , class representative. Ah yes, a woman of power and respect, along with one other mighty classroom mother, our task of world importance, to be the ombudsmens in the triangle of Teacher-Parent-School. Hey, I am not one to shrink at a PTA task. This year, in addition to being a classroom representative, I am also nerdily part of both of Noah's nursery school's Parent Teacher committees. It's lots of fun, you get to meet everybody and it helps out the schools.

Let me tread lightly on this as some of you may know, Noah started a new school this year. I will just call it "The Dolphin School"* here. Because of several issues he had at his old/other current school, it lead us to lots of testing and appointments where it came about that he was just bright and bored and intense and emotional. The developmental therapist, his pediatrician and teacher from last year all recommend the Dolphin School* which caters to gifted kids and their needs. I know, that term...I know. I'll try not to use it anymore.

Anyway, it dawned on me Wednesday that my gosh, probably half of Noah's class at The Dolphin School* are only children! That's unheard of in the four year old crowd. And then, then, after our first parent's committee meeting, this super friendly Mom came up and offered to give me a walking tour of the library and the Kindergarten through first grade building. I gladly took her up and we got to talking. It turns out we both have sons, both are onlys and we both had that same sound of exhausted frustration in our voice.

Sharon, my new friend assured me that there is a rash of young, intelligent boys with a "set of characteristics" that lead many parents to stick with only having one child at this school. I said; "Let me guess, your son was born and he never slept like other babies..." Sharon said yes! And then she guessed that Noah was an intense infant who was often frustrated and never wanted to be snuggled or held. It went back and forth, describing to a tee, the energetic, exasperating and exhausting kids we had. We also mentioned "wonderful and entertaining" of course though.

FINALLY I felt validated, hallelujah! I wasn't just lazy or wimpy or easily overwhelmed, you can have a child that takes extra parenting energy. You can have a kid that is a little bit "more", a little bit more draining, a little bit more high maintenance, a little bit more confusing. It wasn't all in my head.

And the more I thought, the more new families that came to mind here at the school. Their stories, the ones that sounded just like ours... they had to put forth some extra attention and energy and guidance to keep things calm, and they haven't had much surplus left for kid #2 so far.

So this week, after meeting Sharon and having a long mental discussion with myself, I was back on track with the whole, "being ok with one thing". I'm really happy that I've finally found a place that I don't stick out like a sore thumb in. I'm so happy, and in another post, I would like to tell you exactly why I love Noah's new school, but that's for next time.
After befriending the blond little boy, Noah went on to play for two and a half more hours. Run, run, run, and soon came a friendship with two more little guys. I began to talk with the two new boy's mothers. One looked quite pregnant and the other looked not quite as pregnant. The Mom who ratted on the blond kid earlier also stopped by to chat, and she was surprisingly nice. Seemingly in a good mood due to her three month old napping for the past two hours.
Our conversation centered around all things nursery school and our children and two of the mother's excitement over their new babies. It turns out these three are old regulars in this place. I couldn't help but wonder what they thought of me, the newcomer. Did they pity me for not having another infant to hold? Did they envy me and wonder how I got off so easy? Or, did they just take me at face value, not figuring that I was odd somehow, and just enjoyed our conversation. I really hope it was the last one.
* Not the real name.


Jeremy said...

RE: Having more kids.

Listen, when you don't have kids, people ask you when you're going to have a kid.

When you finally do have a kid, people then ask you when you're going to have another one.

When you eventually have another one, people ask you if there are going to be any more kids in the future.

See, people are never happy - apparently, the only reason people get married is to pump out a bunch of kids and then die with uteruses (uteri?) that are stretched and blown out to infinity.

People are hounding us CONSTANTLY on when we're going to have a THIRD child. Uhm, yeah, no thank you. I too, get tired of people asking us this question.

Frankly, I think people should mind their own business. I mean come on, I have two kids - are you not going to be happy until I have enough kids to play a side in soccer?

I believe that whatever number of children you have that makes you happy is all that you need and screw whatever anybody else has to say about that.

Lauren said...

OMG.......the uteri.

Thank you jeremy, that was a very thoughtful comment, and you know, you're right! I've never really thought about the fact that people ask these questions every step of the way. I have a hard time because I think married people with no children and parents of only children, there really is a social stigma, the questioning is quite forceful. My feeling is, for most men, a career is the place in their lives where they find daily self-worth and identity, and for women that chose to stay home, raising their children, they're "career", is where they find daily self-worth and identity. I can't seem to shake that internal feeling that if I stop at one child, I've failed my challenge as woman, like I'm not good enough.

*(I should interject that I am fully aware that there are many men who find self-worth in their parenting role and working Moms who get the same out of parenting also. I was just using a very broad analogy. Personally, the only "career" that I have on the horizon and the one that I want at this point, is being a Mom. So I need to work this out on my own and not let the daily comment re-surface these irrational doubts.

Thanks so much again Jeremy, you always have good insight and ALWAYS make me laugh out loud!

Lauren said...

Sorry, typo.

Their and )

Brianne said...

I have so much to say on this topic. Firstly, from my perspective, when I see a Mom walk in; I usually don't notice how many kids she has. The things that I am judgey about are as follows:
Is her kid's face clean?
Is her kid a whiney whinerson?
Is she a mother who is going to drop her kid off at the playtable and go on a mental vacation complete with the absent "yeah honey, mmmhmm" while her kid tries to incorporate a train into my kids' beautiful mug? Those are just my standards because with three kids, it makes me happy that my kids have clean faces, are shut down when they whine, and I supervise their play so that they learn how to play with other people's feelings in mind. If I have done that then I am satisfied.
And that is the end of my story. I don't notice how many kids she has unless she has fifty of them and they are all screaming. If I notice she has just one, I make zero assumptions. If anything, I would be apt to be kind of jealous she doesn't have to devide her focus between three. There are times when I am out with Aidy alone and I think about how freaking PEACEFUL it is.
And Jeremy is so right. I will NEVER hear the end of "Are you going to try for a girl?" I can't understand people's need, no, obsession with me having a child with a vagina. Truly, when asked whether I wanted a boy or a girl, I really meant it when I said I didn't care. No, I don't need to shop for tiny pink hair bows to feel complete. Uh, I think you CAN find really cute boy clothes. I am happy that I won't ever have to pay for ballet classes and purple leotards or endless supplies of eyeshadow for anyone other than myself. I don't have to explain, or deal with ANYONE else's period.
So, really, what I am trying to say, is stop feeling guilty for just having one and embrace all of the advantages you have over someone who is in a different situation. If I had two I would be happy to fit in a regular booth at resturants. If I had one I would be happy for portability's sake. It would be financially exciting to only have to shop for one kid at the holidays. If I had five, well, maybe they could all take care of each other like those freak Duggars. If I had all girls, well, think of the hairstyles.
Part of you being you is that you are freaking YOU! Yay for that, right? When someone asks me if we are going to try for a girl I have armed myself with a selection of snarky remarks, including but not limited to: "Well, that would be tempting fate, wouldn't it?" and No, I am done, done, done!" (said of course, in a sing-song, self-rightous voice.
Be happy to be a mom of a singleton. And when someone asks you if your going to have another ask "Why, are you buying?"

Heidi said...

First, I'm an only child and LOVE LOVE LOVED it. There are text book "only child characteristics" that are almost always there, but they're good ones. And, even though I already have Max and Sam, yes -- people ask if we're going to "try" for a girl, or a number three. I now try to think that people are just trying to make small talk (I've been told I'm not easily approachable, which I'm OK with), so maybe it's just an easy in? You and I hit it off right away the time we met ... But typically I keep to myself at the playground or wherever. Maybe try to not think about being judged, and think that maybe that person wants to get to know you? I don't know ... Maybe I'm being too much of an idealist. How odd.

Second, Sam has the exact same eye issue, and after one year and three pairs of glasses, we are noticing a huge difference. No patch or surgery needed (fingers crossed).

Third, you have to eventually tell me where this new kid place is. Cold, winter months are coming ... I need options ...

Take care!

Lauren said...

Hi Heidi!

Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. You have good insight and it is much appreciated. Sure, I'd love to tell you about the "secret place". :) The best thing about the place is that it's not crowded, that's why I didn't post the name here. Can you please send me I note to our blog email, and I will write you right back...I don't think I have your email address.

I noticed a while back that the boy's sites went private, so I didn't want to intrude by asking to be added. I just tried to sign-in, so that I could comment there about the kid's place, but I keep getting and error...

I hope everyone is doing really well, and maybe we could all meet up some time soon, that would be fun!

Thanks so much again and take care.
Talk soon.
Lauren :)