MaMa

We got a call on Tuesday night that MaMa has passed away. We are forlorn. She was amazing and her connection with Calliope was awesome in the true sense of the word. I often think of it this way: As MaMa got older, and Calliope got older, they came to the same place in the mind that was extremely simple. They played together like two toddlers. Spurts and fits of activity with lots of hugs and animal noises. We are extremely grateful in our hearts that she is in a better place and that her suffering was not great. She will be sorely missed. And I can only hope that Calliope will remember her in her later years as I know that I remember very little from the age of three. And I hope she left me that mink coat that she liked to wear so much.

Not tonight, thank goodness

I’m writing tonight because it has been a good night. I dare not write when its a bad night, for its scary just to be here on those nights, much less relive it. Oh, its not all that serious, so settle down. We are just going through a phase. Its the “I want to do it myself” phase. Other parents will know exactly what I speak of… and some will come to know what I speak of later… and some will never know. And that is why I feel compelled to share.

When a parent describes this phase, it could be in any number of ways. I characterize it as the “I want to do it myself” phase because that is how it is expressed by Calliope. She wants to do everything herself and if not by herself, in the way that she deems it should be done. Don’t walk on that side of the hallway. Let her hold the toothbrush. She must be the one to remove the potty seat when we go to brush the teeth. Everything. Her way.

I’m fairly stubborn and I’ve had a lot of people walk all over me through the course of my life. In many ways, I think I’m too nice and I let them do so. I’m not so nice anymore. I’m older and wiser and my “nice” comes in carefully measured doses these days. Of course, when it comes to Calliope, I’m eager to give her all the nice I have been reserving. Unfortunately, she doesn’t give a rats ass about my nice when it comes to doing something her way! I laugh now, but in the moment, its unbearable. I want her to do it my way. Those of you who know me and have been around me know that I’m very specific with Calliope and I have certain expectations. And believe me, she has been an A student until recently. She used to listen well, follow directions. Now she considers everything said and decides to do exactly the opposite of what I say, whether it is a command or a plea or a suggestion. If I thought of it, she ain’t doing it.

What does she do when I insist that she does something you ask? She falls to the floor with uncontrollable crying. The kind that is immoral to ignore, no matter how good you are at seeing the truth for what it is. You’ve been had. And that is all there is to it. Time outs don’t work. Counting to three is a death sentence. If you want her to go to bed, you better pray. That is the best you can do. Even if you do everything that she has lead you to believe is the right thing to do, you will mess up somewhere along the line and get something wrong. Because she makes it up as she goes. You think you have it under control, that if you just do everything she asks and suggests, it will be fine. She will go along. Nope. Wrong. Horribly wrong. The next thing you know, 7pm is long gone. Its now time for you to go to bed and she is still going strong. What happened to the days when I could close the door when she cried and let her “cry it out”? Simple enough, she gets out of bed, all the time yelling, comes to the door and opens it and starts screaming “Daddy, Daddy Daddy… I want….” and there is nothing you can do. You can’t force her to stay in bed. Strapping a kid down is illegal. Isn’t it? I don’t know the answer to that, but I don’t think I could do it anyway. Plus, since we adopted, we are ever careful about being reported to the CPS (child protective services). I am a little worried right now about writing this down!

Bedtime is truly the real battle because we need her to go to bed and get rested for the next day’s activities. During the day, its a little easier to walk away from it and have her be distracted by something else. And of course, preschool is great too. I keep asking the teachers if she has thrown any tantrums etc… expecting the worst. Nothing. Apparently, she is a little angel.

This is about a month in. And unfortunately, bedtime has turned into a sad time for the whole family. We always start off happy and ready to go, but by the time we get to her room to put on pj’s, its all over. My thinking is that we have somehow made this a habit. Its now a part of her routine, so we have to stop it. And it might not be easy, but we have to get out of this rut. It kills me on so many levels. And for a while, I thought it was just me, but she is the same with Michael. So, we’re putting on our thinking caps and doing everything we have learned over the last thirty eight years we can to get a smooth nighttime ritual going again. We had no idea how lucky we were until this came along.

However, I do think it is a phase, and I am praying it doesn’t last much longer. I do feel a small letup from her this last week. I don’t know if its something we are doing or if she is just tired of crying all the time (please let this be the case) but she is definitely less defiant. Or, it could be that I am just getting used to it and learning to deal with it better. Who knows. All I do know is that twice this week we have been able to get her down without the huge hassle of late. And believe me when I say that is great!

The only real advice I have is for parents to go out and find that ever elusive patience pill. Then once you figure that part out, talk to your child. Explain the ins and outs of the situation. Take another pill, explain some more. I have found that the explanations sometimes work. Mostly as a distraction from her wants. Also, don’t focus too much on the thing that she wants, because she doesn’t know what she wants. She wants to be in control. She wants to understand. She wants to go to bed because she is so tired she can’t think straight. Oh wait, thats me. Or is it? She is definitely confused and is having a hard time understanding the ability to make decisions for herself. It haunts her and its so very hard to watch her go through the emotions. She doesn’t understand what she is doing or why. And its hard for her to emotionally deal with this confusion. I will say that this phase has lead to a lot of bruises and scrapes because she insists on doing something herself, and because I let her. She has fallen down the driveway more times than I have fingers. She doesn’t cry very often because she often understands that she fell because she wouldn’t let me help her. Its a very steep driveway, by the way. I think this has been helpful. She is starting to understand that the reason I tell her to do something, or not do something, is out of love and concern. But its taken a long time. And she is still fighting the good fight, determining which things I can “tell her” to do and those she can decide for herself. And of course, I’ve come a long way too. The important thing is to guide those choices carefully so that she comes to a place where she feels empowered to make decisions for herself but still understands the concept of authority (parental). Sure, I want her to be independent. But I also want her to do as I ask. Even if what I ask seems unrealistic. As with everything, its a fine line we walk.

Word of the day

Discipline. I don’t have a lot of it. Its the reason I have never been able to work out for longer than three weeks at a time with any consistency. Well, that and the fact that gyms make me extremely uncomfortable due to my own vanity. That and the fact that I am petrified some straight guy will see me stealing a glance at their perfectly shaped …. fill in the blank, I’m sure whatever you put in that spot will work just fine. Its not that I stare, but I’m male and like most males, gay or straight, I like to look. And it can be dangerous for little ol me… so I just don’t put myself in that position. Moving on… Michael has loads of discipline. When he puts his mind to it, he can start running on any given day, even if its been a year and half since he last ran. Then he is solid for years at a time. Its why he was able to participate in five (i think maybe six) Aids Rides from SF to LA. Wow, that is truly amazing. And I have no idea where he gets it from. I admire and envy it all in one fell swoop. I wonder if it has anything to do with his parents and how he was raised. Or even better yet, did they decide from the beginning to instill discipline into his core being? How do you do that? I would replicate it if I could. Sure, everyone needs love and support as a child from their parents growing up, but if you can instill discipline, you are doing them a great service. In this world today, its one of the things that will keep you going. And it makes me wonder if private schools with their uniforms and strict ways has this affect on kids. Dear Calliope, please learn discipline from your Dad. Thank you very much. Sincerely, Daddy.

Having said that, I do have my own way about the world which works. I don’t think it works so well as Michael’s discipline, but my hairbrained emotionally charged way of doing things works pretty well for me. I’ve done alright. I can’t complain. I just wished it were a smoother ride sometimes. Michael seems so calm and steady. From over here inside my head, it looks so lovely.

But when I have to and really put my mind to it, I can do just about anything too. What brings this line of thought? A desire to be healthier in my ways, to take care of myself. Exercise, regularly. Eat better. So that I feel better and can better take care of Calliope… and Michael too when necessary 🙂 Yes, sometimes he needs me to take care of him, in whatever way that might be.

This is me embarking on a new journey, a new way of thinking. Its about embracing a deeper love of myself. Realizing I’m not getting any younger. Knowing that only I can change my habits. You could even view it as a sort of new year resolution. This is all a bit heady me thinks. Just wish me luck as I hopefully start working out soon, exercising more and eating better 🙂 Send me some discipline!!!

Success!

Many times I have wanted to braid Calliope’s hair. Usually, she doesn’t sit still long enough for this to happen. But the other day I was exuding patience and made my first real attempt at a french braid. I already posted this on facebook, but I wanted to capture it again here. I can’t help feeling so proud. I’ve done a pony tail with a plain braid before, but never have I done a french braid on her or anyone else. I used to braid my little sister’s hair all the time when we were wee little ones, but again, not french braid. Here are a couple of pictures. It stayed in for a couple hours without getting too messy…

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Not a baby anymore

Yes, I know Calliope hasn’t been a baby in ages, but it hit me like a ton of bricks about a week ago. Michael was out of town on business and I had a bad movie night and some wine after Calliope went to bed. Just as I was heading to bed and setting up the baby monitor next to the bed, I realized she looked a bit funny in the monitor. She had her butt in the air and was not covered up at all. I had a parental moment of pure love and thought I should go and cover her up so that she was warm. I quietly slipped into her room and upon seeing her, realized there was no way she was comfortable in that position. I thought maybe if I just picked her up quickly and laid her back down, that would be easy and the right thing to do. Unfortunately, she is not a baby anymore and the quick readjustment I had imagined in my head turned into quite the ordeal. No screaming or crying, but I did wake her more than I intended because she was just too big to maneuver so easily. I did succeed, got her laid down on her back and covered up. She was back asleep by the time I was back in my room. But the realization that she is just that much bigger made me sit there for a moment in bed pondering infinity…

Sickiness Sucks

One of the reasons for my silence of late has been the crud. You’d think I would have had more time lying in bed as much as I did over the last couple of weeks to write something, anything, but I just didn’t have it in me.

And one of the reasons being sick is the worst is because of all the fun one misses. One Saturday in particular, Michael took Calliope to Fairyland with Matt, Rachel and Piper. (I know, how could they possibly go to Fairyland without the biggest fairy ever?!) But I am glad they went because Calliope loves herself some Piper. They are soul mates, or as much soul mates as one can be at this age.

When they got back, I checked my photo stream to see what I missed. I gave Michael specific instructions that coming back without photos was not an option 🙂 Here is one of the cutest pictures I have ever seen, two actually…

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Still amazed every day

Wow, has it really been that long since I wrote about Calliope, or anything else for that matter?? Time flies. Well, Calliope is my inspiration for getting back to WordPress. She is my inspiration for a great many of my endeavors. In particular, I remember a day about two weeks ago. It was morning, one of the mornings she doesn’t go to school. The plan was to stay inside and home for the day. School has been great for her, but she could do with a little extra rest here and there. I woke her up as usual, argued with her for several minutes about taking off her pj’s in order to get rid of her wet diaper, and then told her to pick out something to wear. Mind you, I have been hesitant to let her choose. What if she doesn’t match?! Oh my laundry, I couldn’t take it. Really, its an issue for me. But I am letting go, or at least practicing letting go. School is pushing me in that direction anyway. I have a lot less control over some major points in her life these days. Like naps, what and how much she eats, and of course appearance. So on my way out of her room, I say (as if it were the most normal thing in the world, and of little importance) “Make sure it matches! If the pants are pink, the shirt should be pink too.” I know that isn’t sufficient, but I figure its a good place to start. We can talk about plaids and stripes and polkadots later in life. Lets start with the basics. Solids. Of course, there are very few solids in her drawer, so here I am setting my own child up for failure. Probably not the first time, and likely not the last. I continue on and start making breakfast, very proud of myself for “letting go” a little.

She comes out ten minutes later dressed and I almost fall over with amazement. Did she match you ask?? More or less. The outfit consisted of gray pants and a shirt that had gray, pink and other colors in it, so it was ok. Not perfect. What was perfect was the smile on her face, the confidence, the pride in which she took having accomplished this feat. I actually didn’t notice what she was wearing (in regards to color) til later because I was so proud that she found the various items she needed, and put them on herself. We had a fabulous breakfast that morning.

I apologize, but I can’t seem to find the picture of said outfit. I’m sure I took one…