Off He Goes

Dear Eddie,

When you were  a tiny baby some of the best advice I was given was by your pediatrician. She said, “You can’t make a baby eat or sleep, and you can’t make a toddler potty train until he’s ready. Let him take the lead.”

I’ll admit it’s hard for me to let someone else take the lead. I like to be in charge. When we had you, we were no longer in charge…the little charge we thought we had. You ruled our days and nights. You chose when you would hit your milestones.

You cried and wouldn’t sleep.

You cried and cried and cried.

But when you were ready to sleep, you did.

You decided.

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You still require one of us to lay by you each night after we read with you. You say you an’t sleep without us there so you can feel safe. I’ll take that because I know that one day, you will tell me I can go upstairs. That you’re “good”.

But sleeping in a big boy bed took zero transition.  We brought home a mattress before Grandpa even had your bed made and you requested to take your nap there.  You never went back to your crib again.

You decided.

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It was the same way with your pacifier.

You held onto that thing even when it had holes in it and we refused to buy you new ones.  Then, your friend Evan told you about the paci fairy and you started to think that getting a big boy present in return for turning in your “pipey” was a good thing.

You decided.

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Then came potty training.

We thought for sure we could get you potty trained before Charlie arrived.  You showed interest right after you turned two, and you were doing your number 2′s on the toilet almost exclusively.  Then Charlie came and you stopped caring about underpants or sticker charts or anything.

Until Althea showed up to daycare in big girl panties.  And she is a full year younger than you are. You looked right at Renae and declared yourself done with diapers.

And that was that.

You decided.

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Now you are five. You’ve been riding a bike since you were two. Your grandma bought you a tiny one from a garage sale (ok, the garage sale we were hosting), and you hopped on and took to it like a fish in water.

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For your fourth birthday, we had to upgrade because  your legs grew about a mile from age three to age four.

In fact, we felt bad that you had to wait until almost the end of June because you were really just way too big for your old pal.

033This bike is a much better fit.

In fact, this bike quite easily takes you from our house up the hill to Kaydance and Carter’s house and back again.  It has taken you around the block with us as well.

You love your yellow bike.

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Early this summer, daddy asked you if you wanted to take your training wheels off.  You were a bit scared, but he helped you balance and learn to ride just through the grass.

But riding on the street seemed a little too scary. So daddy raised the wheels as far as they would go, and you kept riding. You weren’t even five yet, so we figured you would do it when you were ready, just like everything else.

Then one day, you came screaming down the hill at top speed on Carter’s bike.

Carter who is a whole year younger than you had his training wheels taken off a month ago.

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Carter came behind on your bike.

Out of breath, you ran up to daddy, “DID YOU SEE ME? NO TRAINING WHEELS!  Can you take mine off too?”

And then off you went.

You decided.

Daddy took them off, gave you a few quick reminders about safety, and off you went. I felt like I blinked and you went from a mushy baby to a kid riding a two-wheeler with the neighbor kids.

I stood there for a second watching you peddle off wondering how it all happened. Didn’t I get some sort of say about when you were ready for things? Isn’t that what part of parenting is?

You are teaching me so much about this parenting gig, Eddie.

You will do things on your own time, when you are ready, and I will always be there to cheer for you.

Love,

Mom

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Recently I was interviewed by Working Motherhood and my podcast is now live!  Go give me a listen!

On Turning Five

Dear Eddie,

Today you are five.

Daddy jokes that you are now a handful as he holds up all the fingers on one hand. You roll your eyes at him and say, “Daaad,” and then give me the look as if to say, “is he serious?” And I laugh because we ALL know you were a handful long before turning five.

You are such a kid now.

Tonight you went to bed in your new spiderman jammies looking less and less like a chubby baby boy and more and more like a lanky kid. Your last bedtime as a four-year-old.

It was bittersweet to hug you and muss up your hair on your way to bed.

I can’t help but think about five years ago–the night before your birth–I was in labor, but I thought it was cramps.  Your dad made me eat a turkey sandwich sometime around 8pm (when you were heading for bed tonight).  That was the last thing I would eat until your were born the next day at 4:51pm.

do you see my face? I just fell in love with you.

do you see my face? I just fell in love with you.

I have been looking through photos of you all weekend. You have changed and grown so much in five years, and yet…in every picture, you are still the same boy. I can see your heart and soul.

your first birthday. Eddie eyes.

your first birthday. Eddie eyes.

your second birthday...I can't believe you are the same age as Charlie in this picture!  You still lean on the table like this.

your second birthday…I can’t believe you are the same age as Charlie in this picture! You still lean on the table like this.

your third birthday. This is you all the way, just smaller.

your third birthday.your signature smile. I love how happy you are.

Your fourth birthday. My little boy.

Your fourth birthday. My little boy.

And now you are five. We had your birthday party this weekend and for the first time invited all your neighbor friends because you have neighbor friends now!  Not just friends that happen because Daddy and I are friends with their parents, but friends you found and love to play with.

my big kid! same eyes. same smile. same sweet, kind boy.

my big kid! same eyes. same smile. same sweet, kind boy.

Sometimes our journey is difficult. There is frustration and yelling and crying.  I hope that is not what you focus on when you reflect on your childhood someday.

I hope you remember the family and friends who love you and surround you on your birthday.

I hope you remember our tradition of going to Red Robin Yum for your birthday.

I hope you remember the birthday cakes that I made from scratch at your request–last year lemon, this year white with strawberry frosting.

I hope you remember how excited I am for each of your birthdays, not because of gifts and cake and balloons (although those are fun), but because it’s a celebration of YOU. Of Edward Steven Sluiter.

Of the day I became a mom, your dad became a dad, and of the day you made us a family.  Your birthday is huge.

It is a celebration of you and of us.

And now you are FIVE.

You can read some words, you like chapter books read to you at bedtime, you think super heroes and curious George are equally cool, and you can ride your bike without training wheels.

You are going to start Kindergarten this year and learn to read and spell and do math.

You are going to start soccer and make new friends.

Five is a big deal, Eddie Bear.

You are a big deal.

I love you so so much.

and never lose your awesome sense of humor. It is my favorite.

and never lose your awesome sense of humor. It is my favorite.

Love forever,

Mommy

thirteen more

Five years ago I took part in a graduation ceremony. I wasn’t a graduate, but the senior class adviser. Part of my job was to stand next to the assistant principal as he called the graduates by name before they walked across the stage to their future.

I was hugely pregnant.

From the belly down, it looked like I had tree trunks attached to bricks. My feet were exploding out of the flip flops that I had crammed them into because not wearing any footwear was not acceptable.

My normally billowy Masters robe was taut across my huge belly.  Students joked that they should rub it for good luck before going across the stage. I put a stop to that real quick.

I had a special set of keys in my pocket to get into the locker room bathrooms in case the hour or so ceremony was too long to go without peeing.

My principal at the time was sure I was going to go into labor in the gym in front of all the students and parents. I assured him I still had a month and then directed him to “chill out already.”

I was hot and uncomfortable, but I remember that when the band played Pomp and Circumstance, Eddie kicked when he felt the bass drum. As I watched my students cross the stage and shake the hands, my eyes welled up as I pushed Eddie’s butt out of my side. Some day that would be my boy.

My boy.

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Five years flew by so quickly.

All of a sudden I found myself sitting at a different kind of graduation.

This time I was in the audience and not on stage with the graduates.

Instead of mortar boards and gowns there were brightly colored polo shirts and pretty dresses.

preschool graduation

Instead of a gym, we were in a Music and Motion room.

Instead of a band playing “The Star Spangled Banner” there were small voices leading us in the “Pledge of Allegiance”.

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Instead of commencement addresses there were songs like “Buenas Tardes” and “Grandma’s Glasses” and “Tap Tap”.

Instead of cautionary words about the future from a superintendent, there were loving words of reflection from a teacher.

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Instead of a single name called, there was a name with a list of favorite things from the school year.

Instead of a diploma holder, there were “preschool certificates”.

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The common thread between this preschool graduation and the one five years ago is the emotional surge that welled up in my eyes and threatened to fall in front of everyone.

I kept telling myself, “it’s only preschool. It’s neat, but it’s not a huge deal.”

My heart disagrees.

Completing a stage in the academic process is a big deal.

Plus it was a big deal to Eddie.

He told me the night before that he was a little scared because so many people would be watching. Of course once he was up there he was probably the least affected by the eyes on him.

But he also told me he was sad to leave because he loves his teachers and he will miss them. His two best friends–whom he has been with for the past three years in daycare and now in preschool–will be going to different schools for Kindergarten, and Eddie will be done with daycare completely.

This graduation is the end of a big chapter of Eddie’s life.

Saying goodbye to preschool and his teachers is just the first step. Later this summer he will say goodbye to his daycare mom and his daycare friends, and in the fall, he will start a brand new chapter: elementary school.

We have thirteen more ends of school years ahead of us, but we are going to take the time we need to say goodbye to this very first one.

Then we will celebrate the start of Kindergarten, but until then? Summer Vacation!!

 

Always There

This weekend while digging through my purse for some aspirin for a teenager with a headache, I pulled a pipey (pacifier) out of my purse.

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We both laughed when she said to me, “I guess you can’t put being a mom on hold even for a couple days, huh Mrs Sluiter?”

I realized what she said was incredibly true; I am never really apart from my boys.

When we were in Chicago with just Eddie, each of us commented numerous times about things Charlie would like. Eddie even pointed out the fourth seat in all the restaurants adding, “if Charlie was here, that is where he would sit.”

On this trip, I caught myself smiling at things that Cortney would have commented on with an inside joke or one of his dry, witty comments. I saw places I wanted us to go to together.

I thought often of Eddie and how he would have either loved everything about the Rain Forest Cafe or he would have been terrified by all the loud noises. I imagined him seeing Navy Pier and going to the Children’s Museum and loving the BIG BOATS in the bay.

I smiled when I saw the stuffed lions at the Rain Forest Cafe and how Charlie’s immediate reaction would have been to ROAR at them. I said words the way my boys do, even though nobody really “got it” but me.

Before falling asleep I put a pillow on the side of the bed where Cortney would have been so I could roll over and put my butt on it the way I back up to him (he hates it, calls me a bed hog). I also imagined holding his hand as I fell asleep so I wouldn’t feel lonely in that bed alone.

When I woke the next morning my first thought was my three boys back home, and as if they knew that, a text came through with a picture from Cortney of the two little guys smiling over their breakfast plates with a “Good morning, Momma!” caption.

I had so much fun on the trip. While I wouldn’t call it relaxing because we were so busy, teenagers are less needy than little ones, so other than handing out aspirin from time to time, there wasn’t much “mothering” I had to do.  It was a break.

But I was so glad to get home to my favorite three dudes in the whole world.

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And I know they were happy to see me too…even if it was just for the stuffed animals and sombreros I brought home for them.

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You all have overwhelmed me with your gracious kindness that you are showing to me and my students. All the book donations that have come in so far have bumped my sad little classroom library from only 104 books to almost 320!! If you want to take a look at my wish list, you can find it here.

Also at the tail end of last week I found out that an article I co-authored will be published in the Language Arts Journal of Michigan.

And if those things weren’t awesome enough, I found yesterday (Monday) that I have been chosen as one of BlogHer’s 2014 Voices of the Year.

The good is very good.

Sometimes It’s Hard

I enjoy writing about the sweet moments of motherhood: the funny things Eddie says, the innocent questions, Charlie’s belly laugh and fearless nature.

But sometimes it’s not sweet.

Sometimes this motherhood thing sort of sucks, if I am being honest.

It’s an unpredictable, patience-trying grind of hard.

It’s Charlie’s refusal to listen when we say “no” or his adamant nonacceptance of sitting in timeout when he has made an egregious error like hitting his brother, slapping me, or throwing toy tubs at people.

It’s Eddie incessant whining when we say no to tablet time or candy or more chocolate milk.

It’s sassy mouths and scream-crying at bedtime.

It’s lollygagging and stalling when we are in a hurry.

It’s ignored requests and disobedience.

It’s 10 minutes of fighting after 10 seconds of playing nicely.

It’s all the water that ends up out of the tub and onto the floor, walls, toilet, and me.

It’s the high-pitched scream of “MINE!” from Charlie.

It’s Eddie’s long-drawn out “CHAAAAARRRLIE!” when his brother does so much as breathe wrong.

It’s the way Charlie planks his whole body when I try to buckle him into his car seat after daycare…and a long day of work.

It’s the way Eddie thrashes his whole body when he doesn’t get his way.

And then…

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Contrary to what some mothers will say, these sweet moments do NOT make it “all better” for me. They don’t wipe out the headache or the wound up feeling in my tummy. But they do soften the blow.

As much as this motherhood thing is lovely and miraculous and more love than I thought my heart could ever handle, it is really hard sometimes.

And sometimes I just need to admit that.

Adventures in Chicago

Since Charlie’s birth Cortney and I have been talking about taking Eddie away for an adventure with just us–free of his little brother. Every time we planned something, it fell through due to sickness.  Luckily, we were able to make it happen this year over spring break.

We planned a trip to Chicago.  Eddie knows about Chicago and he knows my best friend and her little family live there. We have a book called Goodnight, Chicago that we have read since he was very small, so he knows a lot of the major attractions that are there. The plan was that Charlie would go to daycare on Friday and get picked up by my mom for the weekend.  We would take Eddie on the road and not tell him where we were taking him.

But I really suck at keeping fun secrets, so I spilled the beans a couple days before the trip.

His reaction did not disappoint.

This was his calmed down excited face.

This was his calmed down excited face.

We talked and talked about it. He asked a million questions.

The last time he stayed in a hotel he was just a year old, so he didn’t remember. He wanted to know if he should bring his entire bed. He wanted to know if Chicago had roads and bathrooms. He wanted to know if we should pack our pans and bowls and forks.

This was going to be fun.

Friday Charlie went to daycare like planned (after I gave him a million hugs and kisses), and the rest of us headed for Chi Town. Eddie was an excellent rider. Cortney loaded up his tablet with a few movies, but Eddie was mostly happy listening to Kidz Bop and asking a million questions.  Plus he only needed to stop to pee twice in the almost three-hour drive.

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Since we couldn’t check into our hotel until 3pm, we drove straight to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Even though he was a good passenger and we all had some snacks on the drive, it was past our lunch time, so some of us had no interest in seeing animals first thing.

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So after taking a quick peek at the pink flamingos, we headed straight for lunch. Again, Eddie did a fantastic job of patiently waiting in line even though I knew he was totally hungry. And when I asked him if he wanted chips or an apple with his ham and cheese sandwich, he chose an apple. He’s a good kid.

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Everyone was much happier after sandwiches were in tummies, so we headed out to see the animals.

Eddie was not as impressed as I thought he would be. He would take a glance and then say, “can we move on?”

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He wasn’t all that impressed with the huge giraffes or hippos or rhinos.  Cortney and I could have stood and watched some of these animals for quite a while, but Eddie was mostly uninterested.  Even the camels who were wiggling their humps couldn’t grab his attention for more than a “cool”.

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The Ape House was one of the only places he really loved to sit and watch. The gorillas were amazing. It was feeding time and they all came so close to the window. There were even a couple tiny baby gorillas. Eddie sat in one of the windows to watch, but jumped a mile when the big daddy gorilla came too close for his liking.

We didn’t get to all the animals in the zoo because Eddie got a splinter and threw a minor fit, so we decided it was time to motor to the hotel. Eddie was excited to see what the hotel would be like anyway.

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After the zoo we were going to meet my bestie and her hubby and baby for dinner, but the baby wasn’t feeling too well, so the Sluiters did dinner on our own. We went to the Weber Grill which was only a block from our hotel. It was the first time we ever took Eddie to a restaurant where the napkins were actual linens.  He was very impressed, and said, “oops, they gave me two forks. I’ll share with you, mom.”

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They had a REALLY nice kid’s menu and Eddie dug right in. He was super impressed with the fruit, broccoli, and tots. He was less impressed with the mac n cheese…probably because it was deliciously homemade and not from a box. I was very pleased with Eddie’s restaurant behavior. He was super polite and did a great job eating up his dinner. He even got a chocolate chip cookie sundae at the end of the meal.

When we got back to the hotel Eddie was crawling up the walls with the desire to get in the pool.  So Cort suited up and the boys swam for a big hour before it was time to get ready for bed.

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Our room was a studio suite, so we had a kitchenette area, a living area with a pull-out couch for Eddie and a separate bedroom/bathroom for us. After that huge day, he tried to tell us at 9pm (which was 10pm our time, a full 2.5 hours after his normal bedtime), that he wasn’t tired. But the yawning started and sleep wasn’t too far after that.

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On Saturday morning, we had breakfast and headed to Shedd Aquarium. Because there is no good public transportation other than a taxi, we decided to drive our own car, park at Soldier Field and walk to the aquarium. The weather was perfect.

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The line was sort of long to get in, but as far as what I expected on a Saturday morning, it wasn’t too bad. The wind was really strong though and the radar showed storms north, so we were happy when we made it inside.

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Eddie was less interested in the aquarium than he was the zoo. I felt sort of bad, but I realized about 20 minutes in that he is more of a hands on DO-ER than a walk around and LOOK-ER. Anytime there were screens to scroll through the fish in a particular tank and look at their food/habitats, he found it and swiped through while Cort and I tried to get a look.

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Again he got pretty crabby and asked to leave a million times so he could swim in the hotel pool rather than walk around an aquarium. We had lunch and things got a bit better. He liked watching the dolphins and seeing the jelly fish and beluga whales and sharks. Ok he was actually sort of scared of the sharks.

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When it was time to leave he chose a tiger shark to take home, and then asked if we could get a beluga whale for Charlie.  It was very sweet. Everywhere we went that was set up for four (mostly in restaurants), he would comment on how the empty seat was for Charlie. I know he missed his brother and felt a little off without him.

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After the aquarium it was only just afternoon, so Eddie begged me to go swimming, and I did. Barely. I really don’t love to swim in hotel pools and so when Cort got back from a frappaccino run for me, he got in the pool with Eddie and I chatted with a nice couple from Indiana who have two little boys as well.

Around 4:30 Eddie said he was ready to be done and maybe get dinner. I asked him what he wanted and he said, “pizza and an apple.”  He can be pretty specific.

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While Eddie munched his apple, Cortney and I decided on some pizza joints to check out. Once Eddie was done and we ventured out, we nixed all our plans for Chicago Pizza since I don’t even like deep dish and the wait is like a million years or something.  Instead, we went to California Pizza Kitchen where Eddie could get a cheese and black olive pizza.

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And Cortney could try a new beer (Brooklyn Local 1)…

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And I could get a nice beverage too.  Eddie again was awesome–even chatting up our waiter–and earned himself yet another sundae.

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After dinner we decided to walk two blocks to a new/used book store Cort spotted from our hotel room. I took Eddie to the children’s books with the intention of buying him one with my saved money. Then I found out something awesome about Cort: if he drinks a REALLY big beer with his dinner, he will treat us ALL TO BOOKS!  So Eddie picked out The Diggingest Dog for himself and Little Gorilla for his brother. Cort found himself a Neil Young book and I got Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

We then walked the block back to our hotel.

Eddie was bummed that it was getting too late for more swimming, but we appeased him by popping some popcorn and watching Animal Planet’s “Too Cute” with him.

At 8pm I read him our chapter in Charlotte’s Web, but he fell asleep before I could finish.

Eddie had a great time on his adventure, though he says if we go again he would like more time in the pool…and maybe have his brother along.

That made me happy, because I missed The Bird like crazy.

But it was a good trip. It was good for us to hear everything Eddie had to say without a toddler stealing our attention. It was fun to make a weekend all about Eddie–we learned a lot about him, and were amazed all over again that less than six years ago it was just the two of us…and just five years ago we were on the verge of parenthood.

At one point I nodded to Eddie scarfing his sundae and smiled at Cort saying, “we made that.”

“Yeah. It’s pretty neat,” he replied.

filling space

I fell asleep on the couch Sunday afternoon after struggling with more GI bug issues. Apparently it’s a county-wide issue. I was blessed with it not once, but twice. Awesome.

Anyway, I fell asleep on the couch Sunday.

I always lie on my side with my legs bent at the knee.

Tucked in that space that my bent legs make, Eddie snuggles himself in and under my blanket to watch a movie quietly.

That is where he always fits, into the space I leave open.

If I am in the chair, he somehow finds his way up there too, even though he has long outgrown being two in that chair. But I can’t kick him out. This chair is where “we” began.

And so he fills any space that is left. His long legs sprawled over my lap, his head finding my shoulder.

When I put him to bed, we read a chapter book–right now it’s Winnie the Pooh. A chapter a night. Sometimes two if he asks really nice because I can’t say no to just one more chapter.

Once the light goes off, and our chatting stops, his breath becomes heavy and regular and he rolls into me, again filling the space.

When I am sitting on the couch, so is he…up against me so close there is no room for space. It’s instinctive to him to fill up any space between us.

When he was an infant, there was a lot of space between us, so much so that I sought help.

That was four years ago.

He was almost a year old.

I spent his whole first year putting distance between us because I was sick. But I didn’t have GI issues. Nope, I had brain issues.

Medication and therapy helped but it was a long road.

Now each time I noticed him right by my side, I smile because he doesn’t remember. He has no recollection of our hard start. What he knows is that his mom is his safe place–his protection from bears in his nightmares, as he says.

What he also doesn’t know is that he is my safe place too.

Every time I look at him I think of how far I have come and how I am so SO lucky to have him as my boy.

Sunday Drive: The Preschooler Questions it All

Mommy? Can boys have ponytails?

It was quiet other than the Kidz Bop version of “What Does the Fox Say” playing in my car and the soft sound of Eddie singing along. In the space between that song and the next, his question floated into the front seat.

It muted the sound on the CD player.

Yes. I mean, if their hair is long enough for one of course. Why do you ask?

Eddie has always been curious about what is for boys and what is for girls. Every time I think we do a good job of getting him to understand that you can like whatever you want regardless of your gender, he comes back with more questions. I know this is because society (and the kids he plays with) tells him a different message than Cortney and I do.

Because kids say only girls can have ponytails.

It seems like at least once a week he is questioning some sort of gender stereotype. While sometimes I feel frustrated that he seems sad that something he loves if for girls, I am glad he keeps asking.

Well that is not true!  Your uncle Chris had really long hair when he was a teenager and he wore it in a ponytail sometimes.  And LOTS of rock stars have long hair they wear in ponytails. 

Eddie likes quite a few things that other kids might deem “girl stuff.” He likes the color pink sometimes (his favorite color changes with the day). He likes princesses; in fact one of his favorite movies is Cinderella. He has a doll. He likes to choose “girl” temporary tattoos. He thinks ponytails are pretty (he gets that from his dad) and told me once that a girl in his class had the prettiest two ponytails “in the wide world”.

But not all rock stars, right? Some have short hair like me. Sometimes kids laugh at things I like and say it’s for babies or for girls.

Eddie has also been worried about kids laughing at him.

This breaks my heart, but I know it’s normal. He wants kids to like him and he is afraid if they are laughing at him (or his choices) they won’t like him.

Well that isn’t very nice of them. When did something like that happen?

At school N– said that my tattoo is because I like baby bears. Pink baby bears.

I don’t see how baby bears is a baby thing OR a girl thing. If you like it, it’s a YOU thing.

He was quiet for a while after that. I know he was just thinking.  For as much as he chatters on and on to me, I know he is thinking even more. Rolling things over in his mind trying to find meaning and peace.

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I changed the subject.

So what character do you want to be for Wednesday at school? Which book character are you going to dress up as?

He was quick to answer.

I said I want to be Leo Lionni.

I smiled. What four-year old has a favorite author rather than character? My four-year old, that’s who.

Right, Eddie, but you are supposed to dress up like someone from one of his books that he wrote. Did you still want to be one of the dots from that Blue and Yellow story you read at school?

There was a pause.

Will kids laugh at me?

My stomach fell all the way to my seat. Why did he worry about these things? Did kids really laugh at him?  His teacher said all the kids liked him and that he was a leader. Was he just mistaken? Did he not believe he was good enough? Good grief, did my four-year old have low self-esteem??

Honey, why would they laugh at you? It’s a very creative idea!

Kids just laugh sometimes. I don’t want to be laughed at.

Are you sure they aren’t just smiling because they LIKE you and your ideas? Sometimes kids laugh when they think things and people are really cool. 

And then he must have tired of the subject because he started talking about the game he is currently obsessed with on Cortney’s tablet. Something about a farm.

The next day I picked up green posterboard (he decided to be the Green Dot from Little Blue and Little Yellowand Cortney and I constructed a sandwich board green dot for Eddie.

leo lionni green dot

He was a hit! His teacher thought it was very clever and creative, and I loved it because it was the easiest costume ever.

And nobody laughed at my buddy.

This is how our Sunday drives home from church go. We drive separately because we have Sunday School, and somewhere between church and the Starbucks drive through, Eddie’s thoughts pour out.

He asks all the questions and gives his theory on all the things from how great it would be to have coffee/hot chocolate with just me INSIDE Starbucks, to how he wonders what people look like in heaven.

Sometimes his questions break my heart, but each day I pray that he always feels comfortable enough with me to ask.

And I hope he knows that I will never, ever laugh at him.

Excuse Me, But Your Pants Are On Fire

At four years and eight months, Eddie told a lie.

His first as far as we know.

He lied about finishing his chicken at dinner so he could be done and play Super Mario Bros.  He got up from the table, brought his plate to the counter next to the sink, and went to sit on the couch as we finished up.

Cortney saw it first because I was still sitting at the table so that Charlie wouldn’t be left alone.

“Ed, why is there still chicken on your plate?”

Eddie’s eyes got huge. His face dropped in extreme disappointment. He was caught. And he felt terrible.

He began to cry huge apologetic tears.

“I’m so sorry I lied to you!” he bellowed as he walked into the kitchen, took his plate from the counter, carried it back to his seat, sat down, and sadly ate every last piece of chicken. “I will never ever lie again! I am so sorry!”

We hadn’t said a word.

Later that night at bedtime, of course, he apologized again.  I never doubted his remorse.

And then today (Sunday) it happened again.

We were having lunch at Cortney’s sister and brother-in-law’s house to celebrate their youngest’s baptism. Eddie wanted another slice of cheese, but Cortney had told him he first needed to finish his piece of ham.

Eddie made big announcements that he had finished it and he could now have more cheese and would we please bring him more cheese.

Cortney brought him more cheese, just to find out Eddie had hid  his ham in his hands.

Tonight we had a discussion about truthfulness and honesty at dinner.  He told us that “bad guys tell lies,” so we asked him if he thought of himself as a bad guy.

“NO!” he said.

“We don’t think you’re a bad guy either, Eddie. You are our kind, helpful, Eddie.  And you’re a Sluiter.  Sluiters are honest.  Do you know why?”

“Why?”

“Because we love each other and we love others. Lying hurts people. We don’t want to hurt people.”

“Ok, mom.”

And we left it at that.

I know it’s a phase. I know it’s his way of feeling around for being independent–trying out being his own person.

We need him to do that. It’s important he learns the difference between honesty and lying. And it’s important that we get to be the ones to talk to him about it.

But oh my heart. I don’t feel like I am ready for this.

I’m just not ready for my Best Eddie to tell me untruths. I’m just not prepared for him to begin hurting my heart one hidden piece of ham at a time.

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Do you have experience with this? How do you talk about the importance of honesty with your kids?

Oh, and you have only ONE more day to throw your name in the hat for a FREE pair of Juil shoes!

 

A Date

A couple weeks before Christmas, Eddie and I had a shopping/lunch date.

He had been asking about choosing gifts for his daddy and brother, and had really wanted to get lunch in a restaurant, so I suggested a mommy/son outing. He was thrilled about the idea.

I have to admit, I was a little excited to get out of the house with a little buddy by my side to, yet I tried to be realistic about how much we could accomplish before he got sick of it all.

We decided to do our shopping first.

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We decided to look for something for Cort first, so I asked Eddie what he thought his daddy would like. That is when Eddie started talking and never really stopped.

He had no idea what to get for Cortney. He held everything in the Men’s department at Target. Hats and jammie pants and t-shirts and Christmas undies and superhero undies–complete with a cape. He just couldn’t decide.

“Mommy, whatever you like we can get for daddy.”

“Eddie, this is your gift to daddy. You get to choose.”

“Hmm. Maybe this Mutant Turtles shirt? I really really like this shirt, Mommy.”

“Um. Well. I mean, you like the shirt, but I’m not sure it’s daddy’s style.”

And we went on like that for a bit until Eddie saw a brown shirt with a bear on it, decided it was hilarious (it wasn’t), and that daddy needed it. So that was it.

Until we moved on to picking something out for his brother. Oh my goodness. He looked at every. single. item in the toy section of Target. It was so hard to think about his brother when there was just so much he  wanted.

Eventually Eddie found a Vtech airport that was about $10 over our spending limit. He wanted Bird to have it so badly that he grabbed my hand and said, “but mommy, I have so many tracks and cars and Birdy has NONE. Can we PLEASE get this for him? He will LOVE it!” Then he kissed my hand.

Call me a softy, but into the cart it went.

Then it was time for lunch.

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We went to Russ’, a local favorite that is very diner-ish.

This was the first time Eddie and I had ever gone to lunch just the two of us. Up until then, he always had someone sitting next to him in a booth; this time he had the whole side to himself and he LOVED it.

“Mommy, what should we talk about?  How about the weather or those cars out there?”

Our booth was right next to the window so we could see the swirling snow and the rushing traffic. Eddie had a comment for everything and discussed coloring and school and superheroes all while deciding what to have for lunch.

He eventually chose the hot dog with fries and a peach and ordered it all by himself.

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With his crazy hat hair and ketchupy smile, he told me about school and friends and his teachers and playing at daycare. He told me about his favorite things and what scares him when it’s dark in his room. He asked me for the millionth time about heaven and gave me his philosophy on how our family needs a baby sister.

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And we even ordered dessert–peppermint pie–because that is what you do when you are out with mommy by yourself for lunch.

The waitress was impressed with his manners and his friendliness.  I was impressed with how much he has grown up.

He’s four and a half.

I blinked at how quickly four and a half years flew by and left this opinionated, chatty boy across a booth table from me. Where once there was a colicky baby, there was now a goofy little boy.

There was a time when I refused to leave the house alone with Eddie. I just couldn’t do it. I was too afraid…too anxious…too weak. I resented him and his colic and his refusal to nap and just be a “good baby”.

That seems like a lifetime ago.

But it was just four and a half years.

Everyone was right…it didn’t last.

Sometimes I miss it.  Not the colic. Not the anxiety about the colic. Not the depression.  But all that time.

All that time when I could have made different choices, responded differently.

But then I shake my head and look in front of me at the huge smile of a little four and a half year old boy. One who looked at me no fewer than a dozen times during our shopping/lunch trip and said spontaneously, “I love you mommy.”

On our way out of the restaurants, an older gentleman stopped Eddie and said, “Hey there, young man. Did you take your mom out for lunch today?”

Eddie proudly answered, “Yup! I even got her dessert!”

I can’t help but smile when I am with him.

He makes my world so happy.

I think we have a new tradition.

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