It seems my email won't give me my new messages. Either that or everyone who usually emails me by now on a week day has called in gay.
Anyway, not only will Mac Mail not download any new messages, my server says there aren't any. If you have tried to email me, can you give me any news of what happened? Did it seem to go through? Did it bounce back? If so, what did the bounce-back message say?
Anybody out there have this issue before? Any leads on how to solve it besides denial?
Here's one I've never really noticed in toddlers before and I've never read about it specifically, that I recall.
Selina is really exploding with language these days. I have lost track of the words she knows and she will repeat any word you tell her to repeat--usually quite accurately, in fact. But as she picks up language on her own, Cole and I have just noticed a pattern. She focuses on the end of words rather than the beginning like most kids seem to do. This explains "Bear Pooh." Because I usually say, "It's Pooh Bear!" then Selina says "bear!" and I say "Pooh!" So she picked it up "Bear Pooh."
Likewise, Selina calls herself "eena," calls babysitter J by the last 2 (of 3) syllables of his name, calls Cole-Mom "m-mom" and calls Mama Shannon "nyan-nyan."
My first thought was that maybe it was a hearing thing--maybe she doesn't notice someone is speaking at first and then once she realizes they are, she's catching the end of the word. But that doesn't jive with her very clear speech when she does speak.
So, anybody ever experience this with a kid before? Or read about it anywhere? Or do you suppose it's just an odd little quirk of Selina's?
I think this year's sentence will be "The family moved twice in three months and five days after the second move, hosted 17 people for Thanksgiving at which Shannon roasted 17 stuffed Cornish hens." But I never decide until the year is completely over. Because you never know, we could adopt triplets before Christmas.
Probably not, though.
The hens were a hit, and really, it was as stress-free as these things can realistically be. I made a little flow chart of the work involved in the meal and did everything ahead of time one step at a time over about 72 hours so that all I really had to do was pop the birds in the oven and braise the greens an hour before sit-down and we were good to go. I also had a couple of willing and charming sous-chefs along the way. No one makes a better sommelier than a gay godfather and we had two on hand. Unfortunately, Mama Fern had to work, but we're having a private do-over with her this Sunday.
The new place is fantabulous. Really. Words fall pathetically short of describing my joy at being here. Perfect location, perfect space, perfect neighbors, just plain lovely. The master bedroom is obscenely huge, so I have a plan for adding a fourth bedroom, should those triplets arrive on the doorstep.
Yes, I can't shake the idea that I want more babies, even as the babies I have are becoming more and more overwhelming in their demands. I suppose it comes of Selina being 18 months old this Saturday and not really my baby anymore. At this point in Nat's life, we had been on the waiting list for number two for six months or so already. And this time, our foster license has expired and our home study is returning to dust. I guess we're done unless Rose or Fern needs us again or until Selina is a good bit older and we start looking into toddler adoption. There's a big part of me that wants 3, or 4 or 5 kids. Other parts of me shake me, while screaming "have you lost your tiny mind???" and slap me to snap out of it.
You can't always get (everything) you want. Because there are also things I want that sort of require having fewer than three children--like some modicum of personal freedom before I'm fifty. Plus, I love this place we just moved to, as I have said, and there may be room for one more, but even that would be a squeeze. There's certainly not room for more than one more and I don't want to move again until Cole retires.
Meanwhile, Selina calls her Pooh Bear, "Bear Pooh." Or "Bear, Pooh." Or "Bear: Pooh." I'm not sure which it is, but it so cute it makes me break out in hives.
Cole has been going hither and yon to teach on the prairie and return to us for long weekends (though more recently she was here for the long holiday) and it is going pretty well. I have 5 days per week of afternoon baby sitting split between two marvelous sitters, both more or less overqualified to baby sit, but happy to do it nonetheless. One is C and one is J. C, among other accomplishments has Head Start teaching experience and an MSW, J has no degrees, but a year's nannying experience for a baby and a half-dozen younger siblings he was often responsible for. His life's aspiration is to be a SAHD and I have to say it would suit him perfectly.
I have been working in cafes which can be okay, as long as I don't end up spending whatever meager amount I've mede in three hours on tea and scones, which can be a challenge. I may work at home a bit more when the wireless is up and running, but over the winter the kids will be staying at home more for baby sitting and Nat is not of a mind to leave me alone if she knows I am in the building, so I will probably continue my hunt for the perfect Internet cafe as the weather worsens over the next few months. I tried a new place this week and it is a great candidate--cheap, laid-back, free wireless with no password required, not too busy so if I sit there for hours I don't feel like I'm taking the space of a paying customer. The only problem is that on my first (and so far, only) visit there, I set the toaster on fire. It was a toast-it-yourself bagel operation and the butter that dripped from my bagel was the camel's last straw in the bottom of a crumb-filled toaster oven and the flames leapt wildly. I unplugged the thing and called the sole worker's attention to it. She left some customers hanging at the counter, came over, opened the oven door and started blowing at the fire, which of course, only made it burn stronger. "Close the door and it'll burn itself out" I shouted, "but there's air in there!" she shouted back, as the smoke alarm began to wail. "Now there is" I thought to myself, as the flames finally slowed and stopped.
"Ah, there" said the cafe employee-of-all-work, "do you want a new bagel?" But it was just charred slightly on one side, so I said no thanks and went back to work.
I bet you ten dollars they have A) not replaced that toaster and B) not even cleaned that toaster and I'm afraid to go back, because I don't like raw bagels!
Tonight I was thinking "wow, I'm so glad we have Selina." I have to tell you, I've always been glad we have Selina but I haven't always been glad we have two kids--if it's possible to somehow speculate in a detached way from your own specific children.
Some of you may recall that only days before we brought Selina home, we had informed our agency that we wanted to be an only child family and to take us off the list. They ignored us and called us with Selina.
Obviously, they knew our ambivalence was deeper than we realized, because we jumped on the offer of this newborn baby. Next thing you know, all my predictions about how much having a toddler and a newborn would suck came true. So much of it sucked. It was soooooo hard. (I know, YOU have six kids, I admire you, I'm even jealous. For us, two was very hard.)
But almost immediately, all the good things about having siblings came true too, even though I had not expected them to for, oh, 30+ years or so. Nat adored baby sister, baby sister adored Nat. Any jealousy or frustrations Nat had, she took out on me, not Selina. Selina she cooed and sang and read to. That happy surprise helped pick me up in the midst of the sleepless misery of so much of the rest of it.
Then pretty soon, Selina developed this little personality that was so different from Nat's yet every bit as charming. She and I would exchange secret grins. She was overflowing with affection and completely easy-going. She bumps her head, she rubs it and moves on. She trips and falls, she giggles and gets up and moves on. Sister grabs a toy away, she cries. I make Nat apologize, but by the time she can say "sorry Selina," Selina has forgotten the problem and is just thrilled that Nat is talking to her.
The other day I realized that at some point recently, Nat turned a corner and became Selina's sister as much as Selina is Nat's sister. That is, Selina joined Nat in the family, but Nat had already established herself. Now, they've been together for so long that they both exist in relation to each other in the family. It isn't Nat and her baby sister, it's The Sisters. Nat's language reflects this. Instead of asking me for things for herself, about half the time at least she says "two girls need something to eat" or "two girls need to get down now and do some jumping" (and they did, as I'd had them at the table watching videos for a hour while I washed dishes and other things I didn't want them getting into). "Come on, sister!" Nat says when I tell Nat to go play in her room for awhile. And in the morning, if I have left a cup of milk and a sippy cup of formula in the fridge the night before, Nat will get them both, take them back to their room and they have their milk together before waking me up.
But most of all these days, I'm glad Selina is here, because she is just a little ball of sugarplum sweetness right now. Not only is that great in and of itself, but when three and a half-year old Nat is making me tear my hair out, I look at sweet, grinning Selina and remember that no so long ago, Nat was that compliant and easy-going and just plain cute and it reminds me to cut her some slack. She's still my sweet little baby, she's just growing up. Selina will do it too, and go through her own terrible threes (and I have no doubt they will be most terrible--she has a nasty temper when she shows it--it's just that she's still little enough that her tantrums are comical and cute instead of exasperating).
So as good as Nat is for Selina, Selina is doing Nat a big favor too. They are really well suited together and I can't imagine either of them without the other. I'm so glad we put up with the misery of that first year (and it did get increasingly better all year anyhow). It was so worth it!
(No word yet, on our speculations about adding a third. I still look at moms with three and feel a pang of jealousy, but that doesn't mean I'll do anything about it--necessarily!)
- We close on the new place, Friday and the movers come as soon as we get the key. Everybody is very excited. I told Nat she'd get her own (well, shared with Selina) bathroom in our new house and she said, "with soap?!" I told her, sure, she could have soap in her bathroom. Since then she's been telling people that in her new house, she will have soap. make of that what you will.
- A visit from my BFF and her nursing toddler made a HUGE impression on Nat. Now she carries her little stuffed dog around under her shirt, telling anyone who'll listen that she's feeding the dog milk from her body, which comes out of her nipples.
- Many human reproduction conversations before and following the nursing mom visit. We've been fleshing out a few more details of Nat's (and Selina's) birth and adoption stories. I picked up a copy of It's Not the Stork and brought it home for her. She read the cover thusly:
Nat: It's not the st--st--what's that?
Shannon: "stork" it's this white bird (pointing to picture on the cover)
Nat: Stork. A book about girls, boys, babies, b--b--babies?
Shannon: "bodies" see the o and the d? "bodies."
Nat: bodies. families, and friends
The thing is, I don't really ask Nat to read much, so I don't quite keep up with exactly what she can read and so every time she reads something like that, I get all shocked and impressed. Mostly, she'd still prefer to be read to, to recite a book from memory (a big favorite she knows perfectly by heart is The Gruffalo) or to pretend to read, by telling a story while turning pages. So I let her do whatever she wants in the reading department, seeing as I'd estimate that she is reading roughly at a mid-year kindergarten level at age 3.5 with no particular "pushing."
As for the contents of the book, so far the thing that interests her most is the picture of a little girl pulling another little girl's hair. She's very concerned about the whole scenario. Why did she pull her hair? Why did she say "yeow!?" Why did she say sorry? No doubt this is right out of a growing big sister psyche.
- Selina is blossoming intellectually herself. She is just as interested in letters as Nat was at her age. Nat reads books to Selina now and then and that makes more of an impression than anything else ever could. Selina is still Nat's biggest fan.
Selin'a hair is now officially as long as Nat's. Her curls are looser and softer. In four poofs it's comically adorable. Not sure what we'll end up doing with it in the long-run. I think I'm just going to have to comb it every day when she's older. Right now she HATES a comb touching her head under any and all circumstances. She tosses her head violently side-to-side, Snoopy-dance-style and screams at the top of her lungs if she just sees the comb in my hand. I have found that four braids will last about three days without looking horrible, so I've mostly been doing that to minimize hair styling time.
- Speaking of hair, here's a short answer to recent requests for tips on styling toddler/preschooler hair:
With Nat, she has become more and more willing to sit and let me work on her hair as she has gotten older. When she was Selina's age, I used to do her hair on the run, following her around as she tried to run away from me. I often made parts while walking and bending over her little head. They weren't perfect, but they were adequate. These days (since she was about 2 and a half) I plop her in her high chair (buckled in!) let her choose a video and sometimes a snack and get to work. She is usually reasonably cooperative for about 45 minutes. It usually takes about one hour to an hour and a half to get finished. When she causes me too much trouble--complaining, jerking er head around or whatever--I turn off the video, leave her view and ask her to let me know when she's ready to finish. When she's ready, I turn the video back on and get back to work.
This gets the job done and Nat's hair styles tend to last between 7-12 days, so we don't have to revisit it daily.
When we finish hair, I make a big, gushing deal out of how gorgeous it is and we visit the mirror together to admire it. Nat likes to put butterfly clips and things in her hair, and that helps encourage and bribe her during the process, but she also pulls the butterflies out and fiddles with them until they break, so I actually don't let her put them in very often.
When Nat was little, many Black mothers, grandmothers, aunties and baby sitters told me to do her hair while she was asleep. If you want to, go for it! I didn't want to waste precious nap time doing hair! But considering how much more violently Selina objects to hair care, I suppose there are kids out there whose hair just wouldn't get done any other way. And it does have to get done. That's non-negotiable. That's another aspect of teaching my kids to put up with it--the idea that it just has to be done, like we have to put on our seat belts in the car.
- Why I like white male baby sitters:
I like white male baby sitters, because there are no white males in our immediate family (though we've got uncles and grandfathers and all that) and I love that what my girls are learning about the species is that it is a species of caregiving, nurturing, child-centered kindness. That's not really the dominant idea of what white men are. But it's what I want my girls-and the women they grow into--to expect from the white men they meet in life. I want them to be shocked and horrified when they encounter anything less and to hold those people accountable to humane expectations.
It's going pretty well. Its nice to have this job, because it's an all new type of writing for me to learn and an all new audience (well, a mixed audience, some new, some I'm used to) to learn to write to. It's a good exercise in maintaining my own voice in different kinds of contexts. Here's what I think might interest my readers here the most lately:
Folks want to know what I think about the big media blame-game suggesting that Black and Latino voters are responsible for the anti-gay initiatives passing (esp. prop 8) on Tuesday. I am still too sick to write anything hugely coherent, but here's a list of points to keep in mind:
1. Race-baiting was a huge weapon in this campaign from the primaries to the general election. The media loves it and is looking to divide us into neat segments: the Blacks versus the Gays.
2. Anti-gay legislation passed by much wider margins in much higher numbers in the Bush elections. No record minority voter turn-out then, but no one said "it's the white people! they're all homophobic!"
3. Guess what? There are Black and Latino queers.
4. Gay rights are not the same thing as anti-racism. The movements have different contexts and different histories. White queers have not done their homework on the struggle for racial justice. They simply haven't and it has always turned my stomach when some ignorant middle-class white queer who knows nothing about the meaning of race in America compares marriage equality with the struggle for racial justice. There is loads of racism in the mainstream queer community and its flagship organizations. After years of shunting queers of color to the back of the bus, white queers should not expect to be understood and supported by minority voters. If we want minorities to take up our struggle, we sure as heck ought to have taken up theirs a long time ago. It ain't too late. Do some reading and educate yourselves and don't say one more time that not being allowed to marry is just like Jim Crow.
I am not saying that one group or the other is more oppressed. I'm saying the history of anti-racist struggle in this country deserves the respect of specificity. Co-opting its imagery is cheap and disrespectful. Not being allowed to marry is precisely that: not being allowed to marry. And that is stupid and sucks on its own without lazy knee-jerk comparisons. But I have to say that there are also worse injustices a person could suffer. And queers have and do suffer much worse. Usually though, these are not the middle and upper -class, privileged white queers who think that civil marriage is the key to liberation. And the people who've suffered the most as queers have been left in the cold by the mainstream movement too.
Saint Francis prayed "not to be understood but to understand" and that's what we white middle-class queers need to work on if we would ask other minority groups to support our concerns.
5. If you are a church-goer, pick up a Bible and read it. Learn as much as you can about it, so that you can educate fellow Christians about what it does and doesn't say. I have a few reading suggestions here. The best actual Bible to read is the Oxford Annotated New Revised Standard Version. Costs a pretty penny, but chock-full of scholarly notes. See also, this post from about this time last year.
Sorry not to be more eloquent ya'll. I have a nasty flu and a raging fever and must get back to bed.