Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Adventures in Unplanned Parenthood

Archive for the tag “#Oscar”

The Seagull

DtEC fans, please meet my son the seagull:

gulls

Mac and I have had no idea why the switched flipped and our son transformed into Suboptimal Prime. He started the Terrible Two’s about 6 weeks ago and absolutely anything within reach of his adorable little fists is now “MINE!” There is no thought process to determine why it’s his or why he wants it; it’s just his. His favorite toy this week is an empty, rinsed 1/2 gallon milk jug. He fished it (see, Seagull! I told you so) out of recycling and now Milk Jug is a beloved companion. Milk Jug goes all over our house. It doesn’t come with us to Grandma’s because Son of Milk Jug resides with her.

May the good Lord protect and comfort you if you try to take away Milk Jug. Eddie immediately throws his head back, drops to the floor in protest and then screams “MIIIINE! MIIIIINE!” until Milk Jug or another distraction comes along.

The baffling part is where he got the word. It’s not like Mac and I roam around the house every day announcing possession of worldly goods. “My meatloaf! My panty liners! Our new water softener that cost $250 to install so don’t kick it!” Hell, I’m listening to Mac deal with our son right now. Outside our bedroom door he’s arguing that while he concedes that a bottle with a nipple on top could be, de facto, Eddie’s bottle, Eddie still can’t scream “MINE!” insofar as we won’t let him drink the rotten milk inside said bottle. We’re mean like that.

Our biggest struggle is the cat. Of course you knew this. It’s always the cat.

Oscar will tolerate a few seconds of Eddie’s hugs and petting, even kisses on the nose. But then it’s too much, and Oscar takes a swipe at him. Ordinarily I’d concede that Oscar is his own man (own cat? Own feline?) and, as such, has complete bodily autonomy. But.

Eddie looks so cute kissing him.

Sigh. Oscar is HIS!

 

 

If the door is closed, God opens a window. That you can’t reach.

Attention! Due to extenuating circumstances, the following MUST be kept closed to minimize the damage that can be done to, or done by, our toddler:

  1. Our bedroom door. Immediately as baby enters there are three shelves within his reach. Two of them are decorative corner units (warning! Sap alert!) Mac installed to my sight line for when I can’t sit up. They hold some of the things I find beautiful or special that remind me of traveling. Among other things it has a Russian lacquered bowl, a matrushka my nephew is quite fond of (don’t know why this particular thing, but I’m happy to share) and a couple of jewelery boxes. There’s also very pointy wooden Buddha from Thailand, a family picture from 15 years ago and the first dollar I ever earned as a published author. My son loves the little bowl, but it’s only a matter of time before he pokes out somebody’s eye with Pointy Thai Buddha and that’s not a level of metaphysical introspection I have time for.
  2. His bedroom. Eddie has learned pens and markers leave behind pretty, pretty colors. My husband keeps his work clothing in Eddie’s closet right now as Eddie’s sartorial needs are limited to “big spaghetti sauce stain but it’s technically clean vs. stainless, too small but everybody loves baby tummies.” Eddie wants to watch highlighters (we own 876, see also: professor) make pretty colors on Daddy’s dress shirts. The shirts for which Mac meticulously shops in higher-end, professional wear boutiques that tailor every piece as needed for him. The higher quality the fabric, the better they hold highlighter.
  3. Under the sink. Sure, we have the childproof magnetic locks and all that, but you have to figure in baby’s need to open the left cabinet. Why? It holds the cat treats. It is a guarantee Oscar will come rushing. I look under the sink, I see under a sink with some sponges I should give up already, and the feather duster next to cat supplies.gar kisses Eddie looks under the sink… and sees an opportunity to wield untold power over the cat. It’s all he ever wanted. Eddie screams “Gar! Gar! Whoa…Gar!” (Our new word is “whoa” and it gets used 89 times a day, plus whatever he says at daycare). My son follows his bliss. And then face plants himself into the soft, furry underbelly of the bliss.
  4. The bathroom. He saw the toilet flush once and got so stoked the water was vanishing he stuck his hand in there to feel it swirling away. This wasn’t a test flush, by the way. This was a fully operational toilet scenario, folks.
  5. The dishwasher. To be fair, Daddy loves it when Baby helps by getting out spoons and giving them to Daddy. So, the more engaged Baby is, the more Daddy will love this to the point of freaking the hell out, right? Baby is thinking “When did it become “wrong” to crawl up onto the door so I could find out how the green powder in the little rectangle-shaped dispenser tastes?”
  6. The stairway gate. The slots of the gate. Throwing toy, after toy, after toy, a green bean, the diaper he just wiggled out of (oh yeah, true story) and more toys..we’re learning so much about the sound of plastic on wood, wood on wood, crayon on wood, and, in its most colorful iteration, Daddy on baby metal fork at 2 am.
  7. The liquor cabinet so he can’t root around in there before bedtime.
    1. I should also make sure Baby doesn’t do that
  8. The entertainment system because good dowels gave their lives so that others might be safe. Never Forget.

The Scream

I don’t know what’s happened. This was sudden, it was unexpected, it’s completely off-the-charts, not to mention off of the timeline we thought we were following.

Baby is 16 months, and, I say this with love, he has become a total jerk.

Seriously! Not even two weeks ago we had a sunny little boy, who loved to pet the cat, take long naps, and have Daddy throw him the air while Mommy shouted “wheeeeee!” and tried to take pictures. Not that long ago he loved new food, scooting around and meeting people. It was the perfect time to enroll him in his new daycare. Uh, sorry. Learning Center…and they do insist that a child my son’s age is better off at a Learning Center, capital L and Capital C.  Then one day, the kid Mac brought home from the daycare Learning Center was, well, an asshole!

He shouts like the world is ending when you lay him down for a diaper change. He DOES NOT DO baby food anymore, even his old favorites like turkey and rice. Feeding him is not happening. Baby feeds himself or baby won’t be eating today, thanks. When he’s done, he violently pushes away or drops it all on the floor. If he doesn’t like what you gave him, floor. Less than two weeks ago I had the world’s least fussy eater! Where did THAT KID go?

Navigating entertainment is a nightmare. Wrong episode of The Wiggles? Lock Mommy in the Tower of London. At this very second, I’m listening to the baby scream a high-pitched whine because Daddy only read the football book twice, not three times. It’s almost comical when he wants to look out the living room window but I’m the only one home. I can’t hold him up there to see out well, but he can look at all the same stuff if I open his nursery blinds and he can stand in his crib. But that’s not the window he wants, Mommy, you incompetent piece of trash.

Again, I can hear him screaming at Mac right now. This time it’s because he can’t have a taste of whatever Mac is drinking; Glenfiddich, if Mac’s smart.

The Baby found a wooden rod that’s held to play a bodhran, a traditional Irish drum. Baby screamed for 20 minutes when he was not allowed to use the cat as a drum.

He kicks violently if he wants to do something dangerous, like fall down a flight of stairs, and you stop him.

He dropped our Roku remote in a glass of ice water.

He screams incessantly when put down for a nap, even if he is so tired he has drooped his little head to lay down on the living room rug.

Baby damned near broke Mac’s nose hurling himself at Daddy during a temper tantrum, then threw ANOTHER tantrum that while Daddy assessed the damage Baby wasn’t allowed to rip out the hearing aids Daddy desperately needs to avoid being dependent on mime and ASL.

He’s angry we won’t let him inhale and draw things with Sharpies. He screams when he throws something on the ground, it gets left there to discourage that, so he throws more at it in a misguided attempt to make things better.

Baby is angry The Wiggles only sent 78 episodes to the US with Simon in them. He freaks the hell out over Simon. If anybody happens to know Simon of the Wiggles, please tell him he’s welcome to come sleep with me, or Mac, or both of us if that’s his thing, if he will only keep my kid occupied until Baby’s 3rd birthday.

Is it ethical to give a 16 month old a little Benedryl to make him sleep? I’m asking for a friend.

Finally…where did my baby go? The little bundle who shook his whole body with glee when he heard the straps of my velcro; the sound that always meant Mommy’s here, and she’s going to pick you up and we’ll have great adventures together. Is he coming back? Even in a bigger format, I miss the baby who loved his father, his Oscar (“ar! Gar!” he’d squeal, gleefully sinking his face into the cat’s soft belly). PLEASE bring him back. Mac and I can only stand a baby behaving exactly as we must have for a little while longer.

Then it’s Glenfiddich and Benedryl time. For us.

Simon’s got the baby.

Can you PLEASE tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

El Niño has officially turned 16 months, and I’m nudging towards letting him watch more television. For one thing, as mentioned before, he really, sincerely loves The Wiggles. The Wiggles are family, as far as he’s concerned. They’re people we visit regularly, or he’s sad because they must have left forever. When he got back from Grandma’s after I dislodged the cold from hell (doctor says total recovery time will be another three-four weeks. WHAT!?) Baby’s priorities were as follows:

  1. Allow weird lady kiss on the cheek, she wants to hold me and cuddle me and never let go, something about mommy missed you so much, but I can’t be bothered because
  2. THE CAT!! Oscar still lives here! Ohmigod, Ohmigod, gotta pull on his tail. PLEASE let me pull on him!
  3. Oh, good. We still own a TV. Make the sign for The Wiggles.
  4. Lady, I’m not kidding, leave me alone. Simon’s on. He has the best voice, but I also like Emma’s bows.

So, I’m trying to get in more Sesame Street, because Mom swears that’s how I learned to read. I turned on HBO and got the thing titled Sesame Street. But…it’s not. Let’s start with the obvious: I never saw, and I was looking closely, (I’ll have you know I was once an undercover detective at Bloomingdale’s and they are a VERY big store)…I never once saw Bert and Ernie together. They sort of showed up to announce the number of the day, but you can’t fool me. That’s not new content. It gets recycled every time, and it only took me four episodes to catch on to that. SO. What gives, Sesame Street? Where did they go? Did they reveal the Count is money laundering and now they sleep with the fishes? “Count the cement blocks, 1, 2, 3, 4! FOUR cement blocks, ah ah aaah.”

There wasn’t any Oscar the Grouch. I barely saw Big Bird. I appreciate the store is still called Hooper’s but where are all the people? There used to be lots of people on Sesame Street. Now, the puppets may interact with one or two. Elmo is driving this thing. I can’t understand what the hell he’s saying. His voice is high, and he talks like he learned English from someone who was just screwing with him. I refuse to believe anything is willing to listen to that voice everyday. Dorothy the Goldfish, go glub glub twice if you’re being held involuntarily.

Who is the fairy thing? And why is she so superior to Telly? Telly may be a bit of a stick in the mud, but at least he’s not a smug little shit leaving glitter in his wake. I do appreciate they at least still HAVE Telly. I thought he’d gone the way of Snuffy and Kermit. Oh, and I hear Snuffy can be seen now, so kids aren’t worried to say something and not have an adult believe them. That’s nice. It is. But last week, using nothing but a frisbee, my 5 year old nephew declared he could see that he was Iron Man and Uncle Mac was Captain America. Originally, I was Cap, and that worked out great until I forgot to mention I’m pre-serum Steve and the Dude tried to tackle me to get the frisbee. Now, Aunt Sarah is Peggy Carter; good at strategy, not involved in combat. So, kids can say they see things, and believing them is important…but if you look at me and see an indestructible body topped with blond hair that belongs on a Ken doll, I’ll get you in to talk to my therapist right after I’m done with her this week.

I’m also going to add we have several former students who work on the Sesame Street Live show, and the live show is a whole other matter. It’s a spectacular show and really fun for kids. Baby’s too young this year but we think next year, maybe. My complaint is specifically TV oriented.

Sigh. Everything changes. Everything grows. I understand this; it’s how my tiny little 7 lb snizzlefritz got to the point where he likes to dance, try to sing, and pretend he can walk. “I walk with my hand on all the furniture and DO NOT help me mommy, I’m doing it all by myself, I just happen to have a hand on the furniture at all times because I’m comforting our furniture. It’s sad you don’t clean the furniture as often as they would like.”

So, Elmo. OK. And the fairy thing. All right. Seriously though, Bert and Ernie? That’s not growth.

That’s bullshit.

On the level

Experts say that when you speak to a child, you should get down to their eye level to talk to them. I have also read that the most efficient method of childproofing your home is to crawl around on your hands and knees to see the room the way your child does. After an extended effort to see his world through Baby’s eyes, I have learned this unavoidable truth: my 11 month old son is running rings around me and there is no way to stop him.

Baby and I spent an hour in our little living room, examining the landscape together. The following is a complete and unedited transcript of the event as it happened.

Me: Let’s start at our previously established weak point, the entertainment center. Now that it’s padlocked and braced with extra dowels inside, components are secured. TV is far enough back, the cabinet is screwed to the wall, and pushing the center at baby’s level reveals little to no wobbling/shaking. Excellent. Moving on…

Baby: Hey look! There’s a baby in there! What if I wave hi? HOMG he’s waving…wait. It’s me in there! How did I get in there? I need to pound on the glass to feel me in there! poundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpound

Me: Bookshelves flanking entertainment center: screwed into walls and we put the heaviest books on the bottom of the shelves. He can’t pull them out and all the chock- chotzkees-chochky dammit. Trinkets are out of reach.

Baby: poundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpoundooooh! Books! I love books! I’m gonna pull some out and suck on one. I like the big green one. Pull out and GAH! HEAVY! Sad. So sad. Too heavy to put in my mouth, so saaaaad and waaaaaaaaah.

Me: Hey! What’s wrong? Are you OK? Why are you–wait. Where are you going?

Baby: OSCAR! IFUCKINGLOVETHISCAT. Gotta follow the cat. Gotta follow the cat. Gotta follow the cat. NO! I wanna snack on the book! Noooo, follow the cat!

At this point baby executes a move where he buttscoots half way across the room only to do a 180 and come right back. We call this his Crazy Ivan move.

Me: Soft. Soft, baby. Soft! If you want to pet Oscar you have to be soooooft. Hey– Oscar fits under the couch. Could Baby fit under the couch? I’m going to see how big the opening is… ooof. Oh man. I think I’m stuck halfway under the couch. SOFT, BABY!

Baby: Mommy’s busy. I bet this is a good time to see if the stairs are free.

Me: No! No! Hey! Hey! Baby! Look! Come here! Don’t go over there, don’t go (sound of me dislocating shoulder from under couch) WAIT! What about the Christmas tree? That’s new! That’s shiny! That’s tantalizing and forbidden and just out of reach! Why don’t you head for that?

Baby: Yeah, I saw that go up. Honestly, it’s so obviously a trap I can’t be bothered.

Me: No really! It’s there all month! Lights, shiny ornaments, breakable things, this should be your Mardi Gras.

Baby: Mommy, put your shoulder joint back in then pick me up so we can discuss the entrapment bullshit. You don’t even let me have cereal puffs without supervision, now the holiday shrub is fair game?

Me: Nah, you’re right. As long as we’re talking candidly, anything else you see down here you could kill yourself on?

Baby: You know I can’t stay away from the slidy thingies on the outlets but newsflash; that’s not the clear and present danger. The real story here is your stupid glider footstool.

Me: Beg pardon?

Baby: That sucker is amazing. If I pull myself up on it, I’ll lose my balance, fall backwards and bonk my head which is 10 minutes of crying at a minimum. If I pitch forward my only tooth will get knocked out. Thirty minutes crying plus a frantic call to your dentist. Check out the bottom of the footstool. Pinch my fingers or get bonked in the forehead depending on direction and force I push/pull. If I escape all that, I’ll push myself up on it, then try to walk and I’ll take my first steps all alone and you’ll miss it because you’re stuck under the couch. You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?

Me: Oh, for crying out loud. Isn’t it time for you to go to to the middle of the room and do a Crazy Ivan or something?

Baby: Good talk, mom. Where’s Oscar?

 

 

Oscar: Wild

As you may have noticed, the Extenuating Circumstances often end on a lighthearted note concerning Oscar, our much beloved cat. I adopted Oscar in a fit of total, total insanity.

There was a week about three years ago where SEVEN of my friends on Facebook messaged me to tell me they were going public with the news of their pregnancies. I dutifully answered each message with a “thanks for the heads up, I appreciate it, we’re fine, congrats, blah blah blah.” The truth was more like “thanks for the heads up, I appreciate the warning so I can comment on one picture of you glowing with your newborn, I need to block you so I don’t end up in a pool of tears every single time one of your posts crosses my feed, we’re not fine but we act like we are because we’re the real-life equivalent of the Harry Potter Dementors if we’re honest, I need to block you so my neurosis doesn’t get me hospitalized or fired. Congrats. Now hand me some tissues and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked.”

The night of the seventh message, I calmly collected my materials, calmly drove to class, calmly delivered material on the role Michael Collins played in the Irish bid for Independence, then calmly walked to my car and had a complete nervous breakdown. I would have driven to the hospital or my house but I couldn’t remember where either one was located. My car drove itself to Pet Smart, which was a neat trick because at the time I drove a car so shitty that lemons were offended by the comparison.

The fact remains that I went to Pet Smart and picked out a small, cute orange cat. He was perfect. Then he ran away from me. So I picked up an old soggy thing that was shedding like it was his damn job. But he purred a little and was too lazy to run, so I adopted him instead.

That’s a lie. I forgot I had no money so my husband gave his credit card number over the phone. Mac had adopted and paid for a cat and didn’t even know it.

This is a testimony to the strength of my marriage. I brought this home:

340976_10150405000274544_1760985492_o

and all Mac asked was “should I buy a litter box? Thus began life with Oscar the Grouch, famous for being found in a trash can.

As you are now well aware, in the wee hours of December 2014 we did add the baby to our family. We didn’t consult Oscar, it just happened. I have to give Oscar credit. He tolerates the new obnoxious kitten better than I had feared. The new kitten tries to eat his fur, grab his face, squeeze his tail, poke his eyes, and run sticky fat fingers over his belly. Oscar treats the kitten like an adorable little peasant that is amusing for a time. Oscar also walks away rather than retaliating, most of the time. One swipe at the baby’s face concerned me but it turned out Oscar chose to not use his claws. That’s pretty good restraint for a cat that had mom and dad to himself for three years.

Oscar and baby were both brought in to complete a puzzle that was missing some pieces. I like to think Oscar knows that. I like to think Oscar gets that we need the baby, just like we needed him, to avoid meltdowns in my car at 9:00 at night. But mostly, I think of Oscar as a testament to the strength of a family that isn’t born together, it’s brought together. The Borden household is a place where we find our family, and then put that family on a credit card. But that’s a tale for the next installment.

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