Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nahnah Mama

Since our son got tubes in his ears about two months ago, his speech development has been phenomenal. His articulation and vocabulary grow on such a steep crescendo that I feel like I'm watching his brain synapse with each new word.

In the last two weeks, he started linking words together famously, like, "Buh bye Dis (Sis)" or "Nahnah Dada (night night Dada)". His words and rudimentary sentences are like an infant symphony, still crude but powerful in its ability to swell and move.

Tonight I nuzzled his sweet-smelling neck in the last moments before I put him down in his crib.

I said, "Night night, Henry, I love you."

He said, "Nahnah Mama. Nahnah Mama."

This was the first time he ever uttered those words to me. I almost choked on my raw reaction to his beautiful, verbal sentiment. I left the room, listening to his sweet song, "Nahnah Mama." I whispered, "Night night, Henry" in reply.

"Nahnah Mama" he's still repeating as I type.

Goodnight, my sweet symphonic prince. I love you.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One Way Ticket to the Moon

Henry can feel the impending milestone of his second birthday. I know because he has been an absolute wretched stinker the last three days. He hits. He pulls. He throws. He screams NO whenever anything doesn't completely suit him (even my choice of clothing). And he is driving me and Abby and Brian nuts. Even Ruby is steering clear of him.

Yesterday morning he sat in timeout three times before 8:30 am. Today we realized a stark improvement with only one timeout before we left the house. At Abyy's dance studio, we had cupcakes because it was her last day of lessons. I offered Henry his "tuptake" but explained that I had to hold it for him. This yielded five solid minutes of tantrum. In the middle of the dance studio. Because he wanted to hold it. Tonight we had macaroni and cheese for dinner. Henry loves mac and cheese. He loves eating it out of a bowl and using a spoon. Tonight he dumped all the lovely macaronis onto his tray. Then he hurled his bowl, and then his spoon, at me. (On the bright side, the kid really has a good arm--he threw both a good six feet AND met his target, moi.)

I know that sweet Henry is still in there. He still delivers the best I-love-you-so-much hugs. And he still looks at me like I hung the moon. So, in order to make sure that I foster the spaces between us, and to ensure that Henry makes it to his second birthday, I've promised him a one-way ticket to the moon. I hope he likes the way I hung it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Let There Be Spaces Between You

During our wedding mass, our priest told us to imagine our new marriage as two seedling trees, newly planted next to each other. Together and close, but with enough space between them to grow healthfully and to their full potential. That one nugget has knocked around in my head many times since our wedding day. I consider it fabulous advice for newlyweds and parents alike.

My sweet daughter Abby has always been timid with new people and situations. She'll try new things and go new places but she doesn't like to talk much during these adventures. Hoping to raise Abby as a polite, interactive and socially comfortable child, I've always been her social fairy godmother, prompting her to say thank you after a compliment has been delivered, to return a friendly "Hello!" with an equally friendly, "Hi!" and to generally interact with others graciously.

As a parent, this is my job. I've taken it very seriously. As a parent, it is also my job to allow my child to be who SHE is at HER pace. I realized today that I haven't allowed enough space between her rapidly growing tender-leaved tree and my own solid, old tree.

Today we were at lunch and our server complimented Abby on her necklace. Abby smiled nervously at the woman and paused. I held my breath. The less-aware, less-evolved me (read: yesterday's Denise) would have quielty said to Abby, "What do you say, honey?". Today's me just sat and waited. Three long seconds later Abby looked the woman straight in the eye and responded to her compliment with a gracious, "Thank you."

Swooosh. I could feel the wind joyously dance in the space between us. I exhaled. Abby beamed. On this Mother's Day, I am reminded that yes, I am a teacher. But I am also a student, learning from this very wise, tender-hearted young tree.