Thursday, September 26, 2013

"I don't know where my father is!"

Peregrine has been saying this for months now. (Actually, it's "I no know my father is!" but it translates into the above.)

We have no idea what it means.

I have racked my brains to figure out what book or song or video he's quoting. I haven't figured it out.

The first couple of times he said it were out of the blue. Now he says it because he knows I (and everyone else) think it's funny.

But I've started answering him, because usually, there's a pretty straightforward answer. Like, you know, across the room or something like that.

We've even told him outright that Daddy is his father. It goes in one ear and out the other.

And while he says it now to be funny, his response to my answers is still completely spontaneous, hilarious, and mystifying. Like this one:

P: "I no know my father is!"
Me: "He's at work."
P, lighting up: "Oh! He with Daddy!"

He was so happy, too. Daddy and his father, buddying it up together at work.

Today, upon hearing the word father in some other context, Peregrine threw it out there again.

"I no know my father is!"

I told him his father was at work. To which he responded, in a tone that can only be described as theatrical exasperation:

"Daddy have him! Daddy give him back to Peregrine!"

I'm so confused.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Balancing. That's pretty much all I'm doing these days. All I'm learning how to do. They are so different sometimes, the two of them. It's tricky business, balancing.

His need for go go go do something go somewhere be stimulated be thrilled have a mission get out of the house!!! with her need for snuggle me stay at home stare out the window snuggle me again peace quiet calm introspect let's sit in this chair and just be one with the trees.

His 9:30 AM expiration date (!!!) with her unfortunate tendency to think the night lasts until about noon--or later.

His need for rough wrestle tumble drive cars with her need for gentle calm quiet stare into my eyes.

His need to "check on Sylvia" constantly (especially when she's asleep) with her need to just sleep, unmolested. For some odd reason, she doesn't exactly think my brother loves me when he's driving a car on her face. Baffling, I know.

His need for routine structure safety stability discipline predictability with her utter lack of knowledge that such things even exist.

Her need for just never put me down never ever snuggle me forever especially during Peregrine's naptime routine with his need for snuggle me sometimes I'm still your baby I don't need it always but I'd like to still be hugged especially during my naptime routine.

His need to still be a baby with the fact that she is undeniably a baby.

His need to talk do things spend time with Mommy with her need to constantly feed off Mommy.

Her very primal, basic, all-consuming needs with his complex, growing-person, emotional, intellectual needs. So different, but still so important.

His need to not be ignored, even if he is older and more capable. Her neediness, period.

The need to meet both their needs. And the reality that it's about more than just meeting their needs. The need to live in community, together. Where needs are met, but needs are also compromised, blended together.

Yep. That's my life these days. Thank God (not flippantly, but truly, truly, God be praised) for babywearing, YouTube, preschool and a Starbucks near said preschool, and a wonderful husband who is figuring out this balancing thing with me.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Playing Cars (I found this in my drafts, written pre-Sylvia!)

It's Peregrine's all-consuming obsession. He plays with other toys...occasionally. But usually, I hear "play cars!" all day long. It's the first thing he wants to do in the morning, and it's the thing he's so very sad to quit doing when he goes to bed at night.

Mostly he just drives them around on the few non-carpeted surfaces in our house, happily occupied in what seems to me a pretty boring operation. It never fails to amaze me that my incredibly short-attention-spanned, you-must-hold-me-all-the-time-so-I-can-see-new-things baby will just sit and drive cars around for half an hour without stopping. But, hey, whatever works. I do a lot less Peregrine entertaining now that the cars are in our lives.

Lately, though, he's taken to being more imaginative, and I find myself fascinated by watching him. The cars have purpose, they go places (usually Fred Meyer, where else?), and they experience life on the road as Peregrine sees it. He narrates their adventures, as he narrates everything.

"Cars go airport. Pick up somebody else."

"They waiting light turn green."

"They waiting ambulance go wee-ooo, wee-ooo!"

"They going back their home."

"Silver race car going super-fast airport!"

All this, of course, is garnered from his close observations during the car trips he insists on taking daily (and yes, I space out all my errands, and frequently invent trips, so we can "go car!" every single day). This is my baby who could scream for a solid forty-five minutes at a time from the agony of being in the car, the baby who hated the car so very terribly for the first eight or nine months of his life. Hard to believe, for sure.

First days

It's been awhile. A very long while, actually.

But I have a pretty good excuse.

This little person--Sylvia Gabrielle Nelson herself--arrived two and a half weeks ago, at 12:33 AM on Sunday, August 25th. Her labor was fast--so very, very fast--and her story will follow sometime soon. But I need to do it justice, and that requires writing it in detail first. I'm working on it, but it will be the official record, the one and I read and re-read just to make sure I never forget it. It's worth taking my time.

She is a lovely little person. So different from Peregrine, so very, very calm. I didn't expect that, honestly. She moved constantly inside me. Her position changed by the day, by the hour. She explored every nook and cranny of my womb and contorted herself into positions I couldn't figure out (some, my midwives couldn't figure out). I was expecting a little tornado. But she's not. She's a beautifully peaceful little thing, generally happy to just watch the world go by, to soak it in with her enormous eyes and round mouth, both of which have earned her the nickname "Owl Face."

She's not without her challenges (the main one being her decided disgust with the night for being dark and having nothing to look at). She's requiring some re-working of my baby paradigms (unlike her brother, she's easily overstimulated and overtired, and all my bouncing/rocking/swaying/sucking/distracting tricks tend to just irritate her). But she's really very easy overall. She's so calm. She lets me put her down (sometimes). She lets me gently rock her (in a rocking chair! sitting down!) when she's tired. She eats calmly and without gulping frantically. She loves being in carriers and actually scrunches up and bends her legs.

She's making me really glad I had Peregrine first.

Peregrine wasn't a difficult baby, per se, but he wasn't an easy one, either. He wanted so much out of life so early on. More rocking! More swinging! More things to see! And woe betide me if I ever stopped walking, sat down, or relinquished him to a bouncy seat or something. Mealtime was always a frantic and hurried affair, and involved swallowing a lot of air and crying when it took me five seconds to unbutton my shirt. And his little body was so tense. Seriously, I think it took the kid six months to learn to bend his legs.

If I'd had Sylvia first, Peregrine would have come as a shock. And I would have thought something was wrong with him. I would have been unnerved by his tension, his neediness, his anxiety, his zest for life. As it was, I took it in stride. I accepted it as part of him. I tempered his fierce with my calm, instead of adding my anxiety to his. I think he'd be a very different person if I'd treated his infancy as though something was wrong with him. A lot less happy, a lot less adaptable. I'm glad he was the baby I learned on.

Not that there's no learning with Sylvia. There's a lot of it. But there's a lot more with the first.

And speaking of Peregrine, he has taken her in stride. More than that, he's adopted her fully. He loves her, as much as a 2-year-old can. He laughs at her faces and constantly monitors her whereabouts. He's memorized the contents of her closet. He worries when she cries or spits up. He talks to her for me. She'll fuss and Peregrine will say, "It okay, baby, it okay, little sister, I nurse you again soon!" It melts my heart.

But it will be hard, parenting them together. Mostly because Peregrine's needs haven't really changed. He still wants more more more out of life. Go places, do things, have a routine, talk constantly. Boredom does him in. (It makes him destroy things, too). And yet, I'm so tired. It takes so much energy (and so, so much time!) to get both of them in the car. I can't carry them both at the same time. And Sylvia's needs are so primal. She needs to eat (a lot). She needs to be held. She needs to sleep, and needs help to get there. She's so little. Yes, she has to wait for him sometimes, but she can't really just scream for five minutes. Mostly because she has no concept of five minutes. She's so very, very new.

Peregrine's taking this like a champ. But I feel for him, still. I've been there. I've been the older one, the one shunted to the side because a baby is newer, and needier, and has no concept of five minutes. It has to happen. But it's hard, nonetheless.

We'll find our rhythm, though. I think I have to see the next season of my life--the next four, five, six months--as set aside for doing simply that. For learning what it means to be a family of four. If I think of that as my job, my mission, for this time in my life, that makes it seem easier, seem doable (and not just scrape-by-able, but really, truly doable). It will be messy, and I will be late to preschool, and some days the dishes won't get done, and some days I won't get to sit down. But that's the end goal--finding our rhythm and learning to be family. Someday, that will come.