Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Eyes of a Child

I've been noticing lately all of the things about which Jack gets excited - things that we adults take for granted or may not even notice.  Last Friday, I took him to the mall, a place we don't frequent, to buy some fall clothes for him.  He was fairly patient for a 2 1/2 year old while I sorted through racks of 2T's and 3T's, trying to find jeans to fit his skinny little body, but what he got really excited about was the escalators.  He loved riding up and down them, and a couple of times I coaxed him into "just one more store" by promising a titillating escalator ride afterward.  I mean, if you think about it, they're pretty cool - moving stairs!  You don't even have to walk, and the hand rail moves too!  If you'd never seen the like, you'd be pretty impressed.
There are all sorts of things Jack loves that we adults tend not to see.  Every time we go to my parents' house, we drive by a fire station.  He waits with baited breath to see if the garage doors are open and if the "big truck" and the "tiny truck" are out on the driveway.  If they are, we speculated about what the fire fighters are doing with them that day.  If the doors are closed, we talk about why that might be, too.  I'm not sure I'd even have noticed there was a fire station there if Jack weren't so interested.
Jack also jumps out of bed on trash day to watch the truck that picks up our lawn refuse bags - his favorite of all the trucks, because there's a guy on the back who gets off to chunk the bags into the truck.  If we're lucky, we even get to see them use the compactor to crush all the leaves and sticks.  Of course, the recycle truck and regular ol' trash truck are also cause to run out in the front yard, naked if necessary (Jack's naked, not me.)  If it were not for this kid, I'd not know so much about how our trash is collected.
One Sunday a couple of months ago, for a treat, Jason and I took Jack out for ice cream after dinner.  Jason had just had his wisdom teeth out, so it was a treat for him too.  When we announced our post-dinner excursion to Jack, he ran around the downstairs, jumping and cheering like he'd won the lottery.  Watching that was almost more fun than the ice cream itself.  That's the great thing about kids, though.  They don't need to win a bunch of money to get a thrill.  Two dollars worth of ice cream (or a free escalator ride) will do it.
I suppose there is some advantage to growing up and not responding to every stimulus with such enthusiasm.  It would be pretty pathetic after all, if I still cheered when I put all the pee-pee in the potty or managed to put on my own shoes.  But one of the great things about being around young children is their infectious enthusiasm.  Watching Jack run and play in the rain makes feel nostalgic for doing the same when I was a kid.  And his rapt attention to the world's less-noticed details reminds me how amazingly complex and fascinating our world really is.  I try to hold on to that for myself and for Jack, because I know that all too soon, Jack will be a jaded teenager, bored with the simple things that used to entertain him so thoroughly.  But if you can hold a snapshot of some of those things in your mind,  a bit of that sense of childlike fascination and wonder, maybe you'll be just a bit happier.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rockin' the Minivan

About a month ago, we bought a used, Toyota Sienna minivan.  I have been wanting one for a while, and now that we have one, I love it!!  I love the wide, automatic side doors.  I love that I don't have to bend over to strap Jack into his car seat.  I love that our dog can jump in the back instead of my having to strap her into the front seat.  I love the gas mileage - almost as good as my Altima - and the fact that it handles more like a car than a big ol' truck.  I can't see why anyone with kids and dogs wouldn't want one. 
I've gotten several knowing looks and ambiguous comments from friends:  "So you sold out and bought a minivan," or "Why wouldn't you just get an suv?"  Well, I'm not sure who I'm supposedly selling out to, for one thing.  And the reason I wouldn't get an suv is because I don't like the way they handle, due to their being built on truck chassis.  I don't like their low gas mileage, AND they don't have the awesome huge sliding doors my minivan has.  You do not know how fabulous those doors are until you've tried to cram a wiggly toddler into a car seat in the back of a subcompact and hit your head on the door frame as you try to back yourself out of the space.  I'm pretty sure they're going to save me big bucks in back therapy in the long run, especially now that we have kiddo number two on the way.
My mom asked me several years ago what my generation had against minivans, and I couldn't come up with anything substantive for her.  It's just a stigma:  the minivan-driving soccer mom who bakes fabulous zucchini bread and hasn't another thought in her brain besides the nagging underlying feeling that she's not really fulfilled and happy.  This is part of my generation's denegration of the stay-at-home mom - part of our idea that you cannot possibly be intellectually fulfilled if you stay home with children, and if you are, you are a simpleton.  While it's true it can be challenging to feel your needs for mental challenge are being met while you play "let's make Thomas the Train wreck and put him back together" for the eighty-ninth time, parenthood is not without it's intellectual challenges if you're really committed to doing a good job of it.  Any parent who has come up with yet another creative solution to getting her child to brush teeth, put on pajamas and get in bed without a fight certainly feels she's met a challenge.  And if you do feel you need more stimulus, you find intellectual pursuits in your "spare time" like write this blog.
At any rate, I'm glad I have the intellectual independence to eschew the negative stereotype of the minivan in favor of owning a vehicle that serves our family needs beautifully.  (Did I mention the huge sliding doors?)  The car industry has yet to come up with a better family vehicle, and the minivan is a vast improvement over the station wagon, with it's rear-facing rumble seat or the full-sized custom van that barely fits in a standard garage.  And maybe some day when Jack is older, he'll do like I did with my parents' minivan.  He and his high school friends will drive it to concerts so they can all ride together or take it on Spring Break trips where they can all hang out in the back and....  wait, I'm beginning to have second thoughts on this minivan thing. 

P.S.  I actually DO make fabulous zucchini bread.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's a bird, it's a plane...it's Super Chilled Momma!

I swore I was going to use my blog as a way to journal this pregnancy on a regular basis.  When I was pregnant with Jack, I wrote religiously in a paper journal once a week, recording how I felt physically and emotionally, how much I weighed, and such.  This time around, now that I'm feeling better, I tend to forget I'm pregnant at times.  I have kept up with some things.  I take pictures of my growing belly once a month, just like I did with Jack.  I don't want this baby look back at his or her baby memorabilia and feel slighted, but it is damned hard to be as psycho into pregnancy as I was the first time.  With Jack, I read more than a few books on pregnancy and child birth.  I read details on line every day about his growth in utero.  We took child birth classes and breast feeding classes.  I thought about being pregnant ALL THE TIME.  Now I'll periodically run into a friend of acquaintance who is bubbling over with congratulations for "my news," and it takes me a few seconds to figure out what they're talking about.
It's not that I'm any less excited about this baby.  I've started to feel some little movements now, and it always makes me smile and feel warm and fuzzy.  When I hear the baby's heartbeat at the doctor's office, as I did today, it still moves me to near tears. It's such a wonderful, life-filled, reassuring sound.  And I do like to look at my baby bump profile in the mirror.  It's just that I am a lot busier and a lot less nervous than I was the first time around.  I don't comb the internet to reassure myself that my symptoms are perfectly normal.  I don't worry that every little thing I put in my mouth is going to give the baby a second head.  We've been through the labor and delivery thing once before.  I know how it goes, and I know I have very little control over it.  And I'm a little busy answering all Jack's toddler questions - "What that, Momma?"  and "cuz why?" and playing "soccer ball" in the back yard - a game Jack invented that involves throwing his pint-sized soccer ball across the yard, running in circles and falling down.  Actually, when I think about it, this baby has the slight advantage over Jack in that it has a much more relaxed momma.  So, while I do want to be sure this one doesn't feel second fiddle, (I'll be sure to take the same ridiculous amount of photos when he/she is born)  I don't think I'll feel guilty about spending less time going nuts over this pregnancy.  It's kind of nice that it seems to be flying by, as opposed the slow creep of my pregnancy with Jack.  It's relaxing to refrain from cracking a book and reading about all the potentially horrible things that can go wrong during child birth - things I can't control and thus only serve to make me feel worried.  Jack got hyper-informed momma; this next one gets super chilled momma.  By the time they're two and five, I figure it ought to even out.

P.S.  On a side note, my doctor noted I've gained four pounds since my last visit three weeks ago.  He gently mentioned that I may want to watch my weight a bit, as the baby doesn't weigh very much at this point.  I nodded and smiled and fully intend to eat as many cupcakes as I want for my birthday on Saturday.  I love what pregnancy does for my weight attitude.