Saturday, May 29, 2010

Choo-choos are Boring

The truth is I don’t share Finny’s enthusiasm for choo-choos. I’m thrilled that he loves them and that they are entertaining to him, but I have slightly more enthusiasm for pushing a choo-choo around a track than I have for watching poker on TV with David. I can only pretend I’m interested for about a minute and a half before I start daydreaming about balancing my checkbook.

I feel the same way about sidewalk chalk and bubbles. The moment we pull into the driveway, my little companion in the backseat starts chanting, “Chalk! Bubbles! Chalk! Bubbles!” If I don’t have a trunk full of groceries or a stomach rumbling for lunch, I reluctantly oblige and then stand there bored as I watch Finny carry the bucket of chalk from here to there and occasionally draw a series of lines. With the bubbles, we basically turn on the bubble machine and shout “Bubbles!” with gusto as we watch them float away. Again, an activity that is only remotely engaging for about twenty seconds.

It’s not that I don’t like playing with my child, it’s just that well, if Finny and I could sit down and play Battleship from time to time, my mind might get a little more stimulation. Or even if we could create a story for the trains on the island of Sodor that involved Sir Topham Hat secretly investing in Rogaine and some kind of steamy affair between Emily and Gordon all under the watchful eyes of Diesel 10, well that might get my whistle wheeshing. But, as our game play stands right now, I’m not so into ripping the tracks off the table and running the choo-choos into the wall.  Just doesn't do much for me.

But alas, before I complain for too long about the mundane task of playing with my one-and-a-half-year-old, I should mention that even though I prefer pulling weeds to playing with sidewalk chalk, when Finny looks up at me and demands, “Hand!” and then he grabs my hand in his little, soft baby fingers and pulls me to our next play station, there’s something so gratifyingly satisfying about that one tiny moment that ultimately I don’t mind throwing on my poker face and pretending for just a little while that “Bubbles!” out of the bubble machine are truly the most miraculous occurrence this side of I-71.  Now if only we could get Glinda the Good Witch to float down in one with a game of Battleship tucked under her arm...well, a girl can dream.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bye, Bye, Bullstrode

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are, as soon as Finny learns your name, he’ll start sweeping you out the door, whether you’re ready to go or not. With his new social language confidence and his extraordinary singing ability, Finny is cheerfully inclined to sing goodbye to everyone and everything he meets these days.

When I pick him up from bed in the morning, and he knows it’s time to put his pacifier and blankie away, with his hair pointing this way and that, he immediately bursts into song. “Ba-bye, Tissa! Ba-Bye, Tissa! Ba-bye, Tissa! It’s time to say Ba-bye!” Then, insert “Bankie” and repeat. Going downstairs? Insert “Stairs” and repeat. Getting off the phone with Grandma or Grandpa? Insert “Gramma” or “Pop-pop” and repeat.

Recently we had our friends, Sara and Bob, and their kids, Sadie and Robert, over to play. It’s been a few weeks now since their visit and yet still randomly with a mouthful of cheese sandwich at lunch, he’ll start belting out, “Ba-bye, Sawah! Ba-bye Bobert! Ba-bye Sadie!”

Earlier this week, as I was brushing my teeth and Finny was busy reorganizing his books, he suddenly bolted into the bathroom for one of Thomas’s many friends from the island of Sodor, his toy bath boat, Bullstrode. When he promptly bolted back out into the hallway, and I suddenly heard a loud metal clang, followed by “Ba-bye, Bullstrode!” I knew that Bullstrode had taken his third boat trip down the laundry chute.

Occasionally, I’ll even hear him from the corner of the room saying some parting words to himself, “Ba-bye, Ninny! Ba-bye, Ninny!”

Sometimes if Finny is tired, he cries as he sings ba-bye, but more often than not, he just belts it out Mary Poppins style. They say parting is such sweet sorrow, but around here, Finny will willingly bid you adieu if he knows it’s something new for him to sing about. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up on the front stoop, rather than on a pile of towels with poor, plastic Bullstrode.

*To see Finny saying Goodbye to his milkshake after a bath, click on the link below.  Notice, he forgets who he is saying ba-bye to halfway through and starts to say goodbye to Tissa again!

Friday, May 14, 2010

No means no...or whatever

Around here, no means no. And sometimes yes. And sometimes I don’t care. And sometimes I don’t understand. And sometimes leave me alone. And sometimes, Ha-ha, the joke’s on you.

It seems in the world of Mommy-Finny communication, “No”, like a great Faulkner novel, is open to interpretation. Finny, though cute, seems to have developed the annoying habit of driving me nuts. I know it is natural for a one-and-a-half-year-old to start exploring every aspect of his world, but must he really pull down the dish towels every time he passes through the kitchen? Is it impossible for him to resist pulling up all of our floor rugs and stacking them in a pile for me to later discover as I’m tripping over them to my near death? And how many times will he put sand in his mouth before he realizes he doesn’t like it? How many times will he dive head first off the ottoman before it sinks in that it actually hurts when his head goes crashing into the floor?

And that’s where “No” comes in. Any time Finny acts on a behavior that I disapprove of or that could harm him or others in some way, like hanging on the oven door, I give him a firm “No!” and remove him from the situation. And what does he do with my firm “No!”? He runs as fast as his little legs can carry him right back to the scene of the crime giggling his little head off as he hangs on the oven door, shaking his head, muttering, “No! No!”

So, then I try a little swat on the bottom along with my NO, which is met with more hysterical laughter. And then I try a time-out, which is met with more playful giggling even though I’m giving him my sternest look, which would have shut up most of my high school sophomores. Sometimes I do exactly what most experts tell you not to do: I reason with him. “Finny, the oven door is not a toy. It’s hot. If you pull it open, it will hurt you or burn you. Do you understand?”

To which he responds with something along the lines of “Juice!” or “Choo-choo!”

So, what’s a mom to do? With my white flag in the air and a few frustrated, tired tears down my cheeks, I called my mommy, who told me it’s the age and it’ll pass.

She’s probably right, but I still want solutions. I can’t drop my voice a few octaves lower or furrow my eyebrows any further, and let’s be honest, my bottom swats are so gentle they’re practically hugs and I’m not sure that I have it in me to make them anything more than that. So, I checked out a book, 1, 2, 3 Magic by Thomas Phelan. It’s about discipline for 2-12 year olds and by the looks of it, I think it’s a classic. Finny is a few months away from qualifying, but maybe I can start laying the groundwork. He does, after all, know how to count to three. After three, he jumps to five and nine, just cause he likes the ring of it, but if we can work on 1, 2, 3, maybe at some point my stern voice will sound truly menacing, and maybe eventually “No” will mean what it is intended to mean with absolutely no room for interpretation.