Put a fork in her, she’s done: “Kid Summer” fades to black

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s almost time for the little people to head back to school. As if the numerous back to school sales and advertisements weren’t enough, the naturally occurring signs of the season’s demise are all around us.  And for those previously mentioned little people, the Kid Version of Summer has definitely begun to show its age.  It’s gotten a little bit frayed, worn out, and ready to go in the hand-me-down pile.  I’ve taken a brief inventory of some of the indicators that Kid Summer is ready for retirement.

Top ten indicators that Kid Summer is finished:  

  1. There are no more complete sets of intact flip flops anywhere in the house.  They’ve either all broken, been chewed up by the dog, or disappeared in kicked-off glee.  Because I refuse to buy new ones, my people will shuffle through these last few days with mismatched flip flops held together with duct tape.  Classy.20170823_072823
  2. The list of “summer expectations” is no where to be found.  It was a noble effort, and for a month or so we were pretty good.  No electronics before X,Y,Z, keep up with personal hygiene, rudimentary chores.  About July the list was popsicle stained and rumpled on the front of the fridge.  When I checked today, it was simply gone, a mysterious smeared handprint in its wake.
  3. The sunscreens are all 5/7 empty and choked with sand.  They’re gross, I don’t want them in my bag, but there they are.
  4. The girls’ hair has achieved that “end-of-summer” crispness that only a ruthless trim will take care of.  They swam every day.  The personal hygiene got a little lax.  Instead of the special Swimmer’s Wellness shampoo, I’m pretty sure they were using Old Spice Body Wash on their hair the majority of the time.
  5. There are no areas of their arms and legs that haven’t sustained a mosquito bite or injury.  It’s hard to tell what their actual skin tone is.  Bronze tan, white healing scab, red bite, black dirt.  Did I mention the personal hygiene challenges?
  6. There are 12 incomplete projects ranging from half-done jigsaws to slime to living room forts slowly decaying in various corners of the house.  Any horizontal surface is occupied by a project that GOD FORBID I dismantle, despite all indications that they will never be finished.  And, because the little people are around all the time, I can’t launch my usual stealth dismantling attack.
  7. All of the sidewalk chalks are itty bitty nubs.  FYI, I hate chalk.  I hate how it feels, I refuse to pick it up, and I hate watching the kids draw with it.   But the danger of accidental fingernail scrapeage that these nubbins impart?  Shudder.  Time to close the driveway gallery for the season.20170823_072914
  8. We’ve gone through all of the “Outdoor Shenanigans.”  Every summer, Jimmy stocks up on stuff that makes him quite popular with the under 10 set.  We’ve reached that sad point when all of the glow bracelets, rubber band missiles, stomp rockets, and sparklers are gone.  All that’s left at the bottom of the Shenanigans bin are some of those lame snappers.
  9. Morning preparations seems to drag well into the afternoon.  To the little people, “get dressed and get ready for the day” has come to mean something very far from what I intend.  Lack of practice has lulled them into thinking that I mean “sit on the couch in your pajamas until noon, and by the way I was just kidding about getting yourself breakfast and I’m here to prepare lunch for you on an emergency basis whenever it suits you.”  Dear Lord, please return my routine to me.  I am incapable of holding it together during Kid Summer.
  10. They have, on occasion, looked just a liiiiiiiiiitle bit B-O-R-E-D.resized952017081995083544001002-1.jpg

 

Do you think that a review of these clues will be enough to truly convince them that it’s time to head back to school?

Disney Detox

I haven’t written for a bit.  That’s because a little over a week ago, we returned from a family trip to Disney World.  We were there for the World Dance Competition, which was simply amazing, but more on that later.  I want to discuss a radical proposal.  Now, I love me a Disney trip.  I am seduced by the attention to detail, the amazing customer service, and the familial joy.  Note, however, that I did not refer to said excursion as a “vacation.”

Family Vacation

“Family Vacation,” Normal Rockwell.  Yup, this is about right.

By the end of a Disney jaunt, I feel like a wrung out dishrag, and the faces of the parents at the Orlando departure gate would indicate that I’m not alone.  We all sat with a slightly glazed look while our children, high on sugary, sunburned energy buzzed around our aching feet.  Likewise, a number of the dance moms who’d gone on the trip posted celebratory couples only shots at Summerfest over the subsequent week, reveling in their alone time.  Please don’t get me wrong:  I realize how lucky my kids are to have gone to Disney more than once in their young lives.  Heck, my first trip there was in the fourth grade, via full-size van and involved running out of cash on the return trip and a drive straight-through back home.  I get that it’s a special treat.  But for the parental set, I’d like to suggest some modifications that will allow for the noun “Vacation” to apply.

A Radical Proposal:  Disney Re-Entry Experience, a.k.a. Disney Detox

This 1-2 day experience will be located well away from any tempting Disney-related attractions, lest you feel compelled to check off one more “most-do” item from the list.  I’m thinking a parking lot near the airport or a nondescript office park on the outskirts of Orlando.  It doesn’t have to be a glamorous location;  nobody will be going outside for any length of time during re-entry.  It just needs to be outside the sphere of Disney (and other theme park) influence.

I’ve drawn up some sample language for promotional literature.  Let me know what you think:

During the re-entry process, parents will be gently separated from their children.  We acknowledge that you love them, but during this re-entry period it is important for you to attend only to your own toileting / hunger / thirst / entertainment / impending meltdowns. Children will undergo their own re-entry experience in the care of qualified, boringly-dressed professionals who do not give out autographs or call anyone “princess.” Daily programming will include clearing one’s place at the table, unembellished sandwiches / cereal / casseroles for meals, being responsible for one’s own belongings, and long periods of boredom. Don’t worry, they’ll be fine without you for two days.  Besides, let’s be honest–they need a little time away from you as well, Ms. Sweaty Boob Crabby Pants.

book nook

The adults-only facility features muted color, dim lighting, soft music and staff without name tags.  The option for separate bedrooms is entirely up to you and your partner.  Trust me, we get it.  Daily programming consists of napping, reading, board games, spa time, TV watching, and yoga or light stretching.  You can go for a leisurely walk if you must.  There is no schedule, opening / closing times, or lockout period for any of these.  YOU CAN DO THINGS WHEN YOU WANT, THERE IS NO NEED FOR A FAST PASS.

In addition to our serene detox environment, we are proud to highlight the following:

 

  • An excess of bathrooms.  You will never have to hunt for them or pre-emptively empty your bladder in anticipation of a long line.
  • Set menus requiring no decisions and no discussion of allergens.
  • Common areas arranged kind of like study carrels in a library–cozy chairs arranged such that you can avoid eye contact and, as a result, forced chitchat with any other re-entry guests.  For those inexhaustible extroverts among us, there will be a dedicated chatting lounge.  It is in pristine shape as it has never been used.
  • A return to a cash economy.  You must be shaken awake from the ridiculous ease with you have moved to paying for things with your wrist.
  • Foot massages.
  • Evening sunset-viewing from our shaded deck with 2+ dedicated chairs for each guest to choose from.  There will be NO fireworks.
  • Did we mention the foot massages?
  • No ponchos.  Anywhere.

feet in bed

 

So who’s with me?  I figure all we need to do is line up a few investors, arrange for a drop off point for the Magical Express, garner the support of the legions of Disney Mom Bloggers, and we should be set!

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Anatomy: Part I

Lately when the moms get together, the conversation often veers to puberty and all of the super-fun conversations it entails.  My generation of moms came of age in an era when Our Bodies, Ourselves was easily available. Our girls have been armed with an array of pleasantly illustrated, affirmational books published by the behemoth that is American Girl. The conversations are still awkward and hilarious.

Fortunately, I’d laid the groundwork for the pre-teen drama with numerous well-timed, carefully paced conversations throughout childhood.  There was the summer when Natalie was six.  This was the year she’d learned to ride her bike.  She stopped dramatically one summer evening, made a big show of wiping her brow, and announced that she’d been riding all day, and “boy were her balls tired.”  

“Well, I imagine you’re sore, but girls’ potty parts aren’t called ‘balls,” mentally chastising myself for ever adopting the “potty parts” convention to begin with. “That’s the slang term for boys’ potty parts.  I guess that boys always like to talk about their balls, don’t they.  Did you hear it one the playground?

“Yeah, but I didn’t know…”

“Well, no big deal, but that’s why it’s always a good idea to test out new words that we learn on the playground with an adult first, OK?”

“OK,” zipping away for another lap around the cul de sac.

I felt pretty good about things, boy I’d handled that minefield with cool nonchalance, imparting valued wisdom to my daughter.  That mental gold star fell off a few hours later when she came home announcing that Gabe had to pee while they were playing in the woods, and he just went on a tree, and she’d seen his “ball.”  So close, my dear, so close.

 

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Extra for biologic

2012 March 001

First violin recital

When Natalie was five she started violin lessons.  It would be nice to say that this was due to her own innate desire to be a musical prodigy.  In reality Jimmy and I had something to do with it.  Having played the piano growing up, I knew that the only way to be passably good at an instrument eventually–short of the whole prodigy thing– was to start early and not be allowed to quit anytime during the first 3-4 years.  During those first few years the entire process is largely painful for all involved.  So, I wanted her to start early to have a chance to eventually be decent.  Jimmy just insisted because of the whole Asian thing.  

It’s a mostly spot-on stereotype that Korean American kids all play a string, and Jimmy was no exception.  Both of his older sisters were assigned to violin and, eventually, piano.  For some reason, at age 5 Jimmy began slogging away at a tiny cello and stuck with it and youth orchestra through high school.  His mom must have seen the cello as a more masculine instrument.  I think he liked playing the cello.  I know that his high school girlfriend was someone he picked up in youth orchestra, so I supposed that was an attraction, but I think that he genuinely enjoyed it on some level.  He never achieved prominence as a soloist due to his crippling fear of individual attention.  This manifests as a racing heartbeat and drenching sweat, neither of which are particularly helpful when playing a bowed instrument.  

When we were dating Jimmy would occasionally pull his cello out, seducing me with duets on my electronic keyboard and his cello, “The Swan” played for an audience of houseplants in my upper flat.  These duets all stopped abruptly almost 12 years ago;  he literally did not touch the instrument after we were married.  When we pulled it out on Natalie’s entree into the world of the string section, all of the bow hairs were snapped and matted after several moves back and forth between the disparate climates of Wisconsin and the Tucson desert.  If you were to ask him, he’d claim that he absolutely did NOT alter his behavior to secure my affections, but that jacked up cello would argue otherwise.

 

McIntosh-Goodrich_Mansion_May10-200x200

McIntosh-Goodrich Mansion, a.k.a., Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

 

 

Natalie’s violin lessons occurred at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, a refurbished mansion in downtown Milwaukee, inconveniently located a good half hour drive from our house.  The journey was stressful enough in itself–load a  toddler and a preschooler into the car in the waning afternoon hours, drive through the spaghetti-like confusion of the Marquette interchange that heralds downtown Milwaukee,  spend another 15 minutes trying to find street parking, before schlepping both children up three flights of stairs in the restored mansion for 30 minutes of lessons.   

 

marquette-interchange-1

Marquette Interchange–Milwaukee, WI

I generally enter the Marquette fairly white knuckled.  This isn’t due to any confusion on my part.  No, I blame all traffic challenges on the Illinois FIB’s (f–in Illinois bastards) just passing through on their way north to exploit Wisconsin’s wilderness as a respite from the soul-killing reality of living in Illinois.  They weave and dart through the interchange trying to hasten their escape and causing no small degree of chaos for the rest of us.  It was at one such crossroads that Natalie, from the back seat of the Accord, announced that she didn’t feel well.

 

The girl has never  been particularly good at gauging when she’s about to hurl.  She’s 10 and Jimmy still hasn’t agreed to replace her bedroom carpeting.  There’s still an odds-on chance that sometime in the next three months she’ll again forget to run to the bathroom and instead lean out of bed juuuuuust far enough to miss the trash can and splatter the carpeting instead.  Now, when I was growing up in the ramshackle farm house, mom employed a different system.  There were no bathrooms upstairs, for many years the sole one being downstairs adjacent to the kitchen.  The distance coupled with the treacherously steep stairs made nighttime bathroom trips a dangerous luxury in which we seldom indulged.  Unfortunately she passed three of her five pregnancies in that house, which probably has something to do with her still-shapely legs.  

Mom prepped us as well as she could to avoid needing to go downstairs EVER at night. On our bedside tables she’d place plastic cups that she’d lifted from the hospital at one of her stays with one of us.  Then, when she put us to bed she’d dump last night’s water into an empty plastic pitcher (also sourced from the hospital) and refilled them on her own trip up to bed.  

ice cream bucket

Gallon ice cream buckets were put to a variety of uses in our house, including under-the-bed puke buckets.

The mineral content of the well water left these plastic cups scaled with whitish deposits after enough years of use.  If any toddlers had to use the bathroom during the night, they were afforded the luxury of a potty chair parked at the top of this stairs;  this was emptied on a morning trip downstairs.  Kind of like a chamber pot.  Once we were over about 3, we were on our own.  We girls developed bladders of steel over the years, holding it fearfully overnight so as not to have to brave the pitch darkness of the rickety-windowed farmhouse, bathed only in the ambient light through a few east-facing windows from the dusk-to-dawn light.  The boys, at least during the warmer months, peed through the screen into the night air and the backyard.  To handle the occasional puking episode, we each had an empty Schoep’s gallon ice cream bucket under our bed and were expected to employ it should the need arise.  Mom would generally deign to get out of bed to handle a full puke bucket during the night.  She may not have been the most fastidious housekeeper, but even she had her standards.

 

My girls were not raised in such a hardened environment, and Natalie’s cushy upbringing left her without any good vomit-management techniques of note.   So there we were on that fateful occasion, in stop and go traffic, on a cold winter evening in the multi-leveled Marquette interchange on the way to downtown Milwaukee.  After the warning shot across the bow, “mom I don’t feel good,”  she let loose with a magnificent spray of vomit that arced gracefully from her mouth and traveled easily ACROSS THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE CAR, SPLATTERING THE CEILING, HER SISTER, AND THE INTERIOR OF THE WINDSHIELD.  What an awesome sight it must have been for the neighboring traffic–a veritable fountain of emesis within the warm confines of the Honda.

The beauty lasted for a few brief seconds before both children began howling.  I attempted to remain calm, steer the car, and clean off the  interior of the windshield with my sleeve all the while running through my mental address book to determine who I knew well enough in the downtown corridor to drop in on, Pulp Fiction-like, with a decimated car.  Having no such saint-like figures in my life, I decided that a U turn with a 30 minute ride back home was the only answer.  It quickly became clear that being cold was far superior to the stench that proper climate control yielded, for she’d manage to aim vomit directly into the front console heating vents as well.  We made our chilly journey back home.  The girls wept that they wanted to get out of the car, that they had puke in their hair, that it was pooling on the violin case.  I never felt so maternal as I did at that moment.  I dearly wanted to pull over and join them in their tantrum, but instead I drove on, clearing a few chunks off the steering wheel as best I could and calling Jimmy.

Jimmie Dimmick

I know no one like this guy.

He had been on his way to the gym when he answered.  “Meet me in the garage with a trash bag and two bath towels,” I said.  ‘Why? I was just going to–” “Just–meet me.”  Words could not do justice to the scene that awaited him when three tearful, vomit encrusted females pulled into the garage.  He opened the back door, a wall of stench and lamentation greeting him.  “You have two options,” I said, “the girls or the car.”  For obvious reasons, he chose the girls, who we stripped naked, discarding their clothes in the trash bag and wrapping them in bath towels.  Mr. Sensitive went back inside for some rubber gloves before extracting Evelyn from her carseat.  I suggested that any further dilly dallying on his part would not end well.  He carried them to their bath and lather-rinsed-repeated several times.

The details of cleaning the car do not bear repeating, save only to mention that a startling volume of school-aged vomit actually exists in a semi-solid, difficult to remove state.  I threw away anything removable, save the violin, whose fabric case I managed to remove and throw in the washing machine, the incident never to be mentioned to either teacher or violin rental store.  The next day we drove to a car detailing place, me driving the steaming heap of emesis and the Jimmy and the girls following behind, silently acknowledging that this would most assuredly be an all-day job, one that I wouldn’t be waiting around for.  I’m not sure what I expected from the guy at the shop.  As he stood there checking boxes on a form, shifting his toothpick between corners of his mouth and never truly even looking up, I realized that the trail of horror that rolls through a car wash must reveal a side of humanity to which I was thankfully not privy.  He looked up only once, glancing at me from under his cap as he announced that “You’ll have to pay an extra $35 for The Biologic.”  Hand to God, I still don’t know exactly what The Biologic fully entails, but if $35 more is all it takes to clean my daughter’s detritus from the legion interior cracks and crevices of a late-model Honda, I consider that the best $35 I’ve ever spent.

Hooray, hooray it’s the last day of May!

There are a lot of things I will miss about May:

  • First night sleeping with the windows open
  • First impromptu deck party with the neighbors
  • Daffodils, crocuses, and the tulips that weren’t eaten by deer and rabbits
  • Fresh rhubarb & asparagus
  • Return of Vitamin D to my system

This year, however, I am acutely aware of the ever-lengthening list of things I won’t miss about May.  In comparing harried notes with the other parents in my circle, it seems that I am not alone.  May is truly the most ridiculous month.  It surpasses even those months that require gift-buying, feast preparation, or costume-acqusition.  It is with a huge sigh of relief that I’ll turn over the calendar tonight.

Here’s some of the things I won’t miss about May:

  • The calendar.  There was literally NOT A SINGLE DAY WITH NOTHING WRITTEN ON IT.  The closest I came was this past Sunday which only had one thing:  “coffee hour at church.”  I phoned this one in and picked up a couple dozen donuts on the way in.  I was foiled by the fact that I had actually entered “coffee hour” in error and I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO DO IT.  May is so ridiculous that it actually seduces me into filling any void with imaginary tasks and appointments.  Every activity, every club, every class has an end-of-the-year celebration/performance/recital/picnic/cotillion.  They are all important in their own right, and if asked there’s no way I could choose any one to dispense with.  But taken en masse...it’s a form of water torture represented by single-folded programs dripped slowly into an accumulating mass in the bottom of my purse.
  • The cake.  Every one of these celebrations is accompanied by a sheet cake.   The kids haven’t eaten anything other than frosting with an occasional brownie thrown in the mix for the past 31 days.
  • The tease of summer nights.  It is next to impossible to convince the kids that they need to treat this halcyon evenings as school nights and GET INSIDE and SHOWER EVERY NIGHT.  It is next to impossible to manage the summer piles (grubby socks, miscellaneous neighborhood flip flops, outdoor toys, sidewalk chalk and strewn water bottles)  while simultaneously having to maintain focus on the school year piles (filthy backpacks, barely-held-together folders, lunch bags, instruments).
  • The wardrobe challenges.  The change of seasons is one of the things that I like about living in the midwest.  Sure it’s an added burden to have to turn over the closets and dresser drawers twice a year to accommodate the seasons.   Summer into fall is a treat, and I gladly pull out the boots and sweaters, luxuriating in the cable-knittedness of it all.  The shift from winter dressing into spring?  Not so much. The first time I slip on a pair of shorts in the spring is an exercise in mortification, my legs so white that they could be used to signal passing planes.  Everything is just so–EXPOSED.  Ugh.
  • The oh-so ironic fact that Mother’s Day is celebrated in May.  I move that we swap out to June, when we can truly breath a sigh of relief and enjoy our breakfast in bed without having to calculate how long it will take to right the residual mess in the kitchen before moving onto the next item on May’s agenda.  Who’s with me?  Let’s leave May to the Father’s and take over June.

 

 

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Better Understanding Through Musical Theater

When Natalie started dancing at age three,  I nurtured high hopes that she’d be the center-stage star that I never was.  She’s always been an interesting-looking, attractive child, so she had that going for her.  She loved putting on productions at home and has, by age 10, compiled hours of raw video footage of these various theatricals.  Heck, Jimmy even constructed a stage in the basement for her.  So when she showed an interest in dance, I was hooked.  

 

Early on she stood out as stronger in her class. She was quick to catch on to things, and I figured that whatever she might lack in natural ability we could easily make up for with focus and maternal time investment.   When she was asked, I encouraged her to join dance company, the competitive dance group,  and she did so, enjoying being challenged in classes and being part of a group that had to meet high expectations.  However, by the fifth grade it was clear to me that prima ballerina she would never be.  Don’t get me wrong–she’s made great progress and I love to watch her dance.  However, the very natural confidence that thrust her onto the stage to begin with seemed to thwart any efforts on my part to push her to get better in her free time at home.  All the girls who were advancing were doing so because of time spent stretching in front of the TV and taking extra gymnastics classes.  She had no interest and jealously guarded her playtime which was, interestingly, mostly spent putting on more productions.  At this stage she was at the dance studio 4-5 nights per week, happily.  I’d attempt to probe for any feelings of disappointment of generally being in the back row, not participating in any extra ensembles or solos, but none ever surfaced.  How, I wondered, could you be so dedicated to something and not desire to be The Best? I had a niggling notion that this question had more to do with my own neuroses.  So, I let my concerns ride and watched with increasing anxiety as she became more and more firmly ensconced as an ensemble player.  

 

Unsurprisingly, my concerns were laid to rest in the car.  One day we were driving somewhere and she asked,  “If you could play any part in “Wicked,” which would you choose?”    “Well, of course I’d want to be Elphaba!” I said,  “who would you want to be?”  I expected her to pick the comic lead, Glinda.  “Nessa,” she said.  “Nessa?” I asked,  “the secondary character in the wheelchair?  Well, why?” I practically sputtered.  “Well,” she said, “Nessa’s still an important part, she has a few lines and a few times when she’s most important, but the whole thing doesn’t depend on her, but she’s still a part of the show, which is really the funnest thing.”

Nessa

Asian Nessa, #goals.

Facepalm.  It took a musical theater metaphor for me to finally understand my daughter.  People were so busy likening her to me that I missed this vital way in which we are different.  So alike in our stream-of-consciousness flow of language, sarcastic wit, and appearance.  So different in our motivation.  She was doing dance because she liked IT, she liked being part of a group.  She was doing it to please herself.  She wasn’t doing it to get ahead or be The Best!  My god the child is in a mentally healthy place.  It’s taken years of therapy for me to even approach a similar mindset!

Better understanding through musical theater, and conversations from the back seat.

Baby vs. Puppy: Round II

Yesterday I started deconstructing the all-too-common “reassurance” that caring for a puppy is just like taking care of a baby!

Natalie - 1 week olds 088

If that face doesn’t say “man, this is pretty easy,” I’m not sure what does.  (Note baby facepalm).

In case it wasn’t obvious, my goal was to prove this assertion largely FALSE.  Those first two months of taking care of my first daughter were some of the most challenging of my life, made worse by the fact that she was born in Arizona in the mid-summer, rendering us essentially housebound.  That and the added bonus of postpartum depression kind of spoiled whatever magical experience I was supposed to have.  If this new puppy’s early days are going to mimic baby’s early days, I really need to restock the wine rack ASAP.

Please note that my baby observations are based on my experience with two relatively easy infants that are now almost 11 and 7 respectively.  The fogs of time may have dulled some of the more painful edges a bit.  The puppy observations are based on my now four-day stint as a puppy owner.

Sleep Quality:  Now sleeplessness is a topic on which I could expound for hours.  I was fortunate enough to complete my intern year as a pediatric resident in the “pre-80 hour workweek era.”  Like an old-timer waxing sentimental on hikes to school uphill both ways, my classmates and I can go on at length about how it used to be.  There were “days” that started at 5:00 a.m. and ended at 7:00 p.m.–the next day.  This could potentially happen every 4th day.  And WE LIKED IT, you young whippersnapper.  Post call days were an exercise in thwarting nature.  Every cell in your body screamed out for a nap.  I was generally freezing regardless of the temperature, because at about 24 hours no-sleep, I seemed to stop regulating my temperature.  I was generally mildly nauseated at all times, a condition made worse by the need for a steady drip of coffee.  I don’t remember hardly anything about the house we were living in during that intern year, I was generally only there to sleep.  I recall that it had excellent blackout shades in the bedroom.  All this is to say:  I know a thing or two about exhaustion.

BABY:  It’s the same, but you’re post-call every day.  I really don’t want to say anything more.  I don’t want to scare anyone too much.

Natalie - 1 week olds 018

The fabled sleeping baby in the wild.  Note heavy reliance on swaddle blanket.  Not pictured:  12 books on infant sleep that I studied with the devotion of a medieval monk.

Baby Sleep Quality Score:  0

PUPPY:  The first night that puppy was home, I slept poorly.  The breeder had reassured me that he and his littermates were only getting up once per night to “go potty,”  and he’d let me know.  (Aside–having never used the phrase “go potty” with either of my children, I now find myself saying it repeatedly in the backyard to the puppy).

sleeping-puppy.jpg

Spontaneous puppy sleep:  no assistance required!

I didn’t believe this, and therefore slept very lightly, if at all, and set an alarm for 1:00 to take him out in case he didn’t wake up himself.  That next day I was feeling pretty post-call. True, I’d gotten some sleep, but I’m no spring chicken any more.  Could everyone have been right?  Would I go through the next 2-3 months in a stupor?  The next few nights have proven very different.  I’ve allowed myself to sleep more soundly.  A puppy’s cry is just as effective as dragging me out of REM sleep as a human infant’s.  No need for hypervigilance and alarms.  For any concerned/hopeful readers, Jimmy does not awaken for a puppy’s cry either. So, I’ve been getting up once a night to take the puppy out, and allowing a little bit of crate-crying as he goes back to sleep.  Not once have I needed to spend hours rhythmically bouncing the puppy on one of those giant exercise balls, while QVC drones on about collectible presidential coins in the background for him to fall asleep.  So, is my sleep fabulous?  No, but I’m pretty sure that it never will be again regardless.

Puppy Sleep Quality Score: 7

Feelings of Accomplishment:  To me so far, it’s pretty obvious that  caring for a puppy, while comparable in many ways to infant care, pales in comparison.  The monopoly on my actual time, my sleep time, and my mental time just isn’t there like it was with my girls.  Maybe the balance is different for other people.  Maybe some new mothers aren’t as high stress as I was.  Maybe some puppies are a lot more difficult that this one has proven to be.  But some facts are immutable:

  • Babies are well and truly helpless for a long time
  • There’s so much societal pressure on how one “should” be doing motherhood
  • Babies don’t even so much as give you a smile until two months of age

All of this being said, I can’t imagine that I’ll ever feel the sense of pride and accomplishment around raising this puppy as I did around raising my girls.  I’m glad I had the babies, I’m glad I’m done with infancy, and I’m glad that puppy-rearing isn’t REALLY just like raising an infant at all.

Jimmy puppy

The two men of the house.

And Jimmy’s pretty glad too.