one sad, one funny

Two stories for you.

1. The Sad.

When I picked up Catie at daycare yesterday, she ran to me sort of whimpering and buried her face in my legs. Normally she’s happy to see me, so this was unusual. I raised an eyebrow at her teacher, and she kind of whispered to me, “Clara hit her.”

Here’s the thing. Clara is a very sweet little girl with a pretty major developmental delay. I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with her. She doesn’t have Down’s Syndrome but it’s something on par with that. She’s older than the rest of the kids in her class (she’s already 4), but she’s still in diapers and just learning “bye-bye” and basic vocabulary stuff. She goes to a special-ed school during the day, so she’s only at the daycare for an hour or so in the afternoons until her parents get off work and pick her up.

The thing is, Clara can be very rough without meaning to be. None of it is ill-intentioned, she’s a really sweet-natured kid. But, like, today for example, while I was there, I saw a little girl with cute little blonde ringlet curls, and Clara ran over and yanked on the little girl’s hair. Which made her cry. But Clara wasn’t being mean, it’s like she was trying to pet the little girl or treat her like a baby doll. She doesn’t realize that she can hurt the other kids. So how do you discipline a child when she honestly has no concept that she’s done anything wrong?

The problem on this occasion, though? Was that Clara hit Catie in the face.

When we got home, Catie mentioned that her mouth hurt where Clara hit her. I looked inside her mouth and saw that she had a cut on the inside of her lip where her tooth dug into it. So obviously Clara hit Catie in the face pretty damn hard.

I didn’t know how to react to that. I wanted to cry. On the one hand, somebody hurt my baby, and that brings out the whole mama bear instinct. On the other hand, my heart breaks for this little girl who’s got an entire lifetime of obstacles and challenges ahead of her. I try to imagine myself in her parents’ place, and… oof. I cannot even begin to imagine what their day-to-day life is like.

Catie’s way of processing things is to talk about it over and over again. So we talked about it several times, and I told her that while it wasn’t nice that Clara hit her, that Clara has a hard time understanding right and wrong, so we can’t be mad at her because she didn’t know what she was doing. I said that if Clara gets too rough again, she needs to tell her to stop, and if she doesn’t stop, then she needs to tell her teacher. I absolutely don’t want to tell my daughter to avoid the special-needs kid in her class, because I think that sets an unhealthy precedent. I’m not sure how else to handle the situation. This is all completely foreign territory for me.

Later that night, Catie and I were practicing drawing her letters. I helped her get started, then I went to wash dishes. She called me and said she had something to show me. I walked over, and saw that she had flipped to a new piece of paper, and she had drawn a perfect tear-drop shape. She said, “That’s the tears I cried when Clara hit me.” I wanted to lie down on the floor and sob. I just don’t know how to explain this on a level that a 3 year-old can understand.

I talked to both the daycare director and Catie’s teacher about it today, since they had no idea that the hit was so hard that it cut her lip. (It was a small cut, it probably didn’t bleed much or a very noticeable amount.) I didn’t ask them to do anything about it, I don’t want to cause any problems for Clara’s family, I just wanted them to be aware of the situation in case it happens more frequently and becomes a problem later on down the road. I didn’t know what else to do, really.

So, yeah. Anybody out there have any experiences like this? Words of wisdom? I’ll take whatever I can get.

2. Now for the funny (which is needed after all that).

I almost had the most awkward conversation with a grocery store cashier, ever.

The cashier guy rang up all my stuff and was starting to put it all in bags. Among my purchases was an econo-size HUGE box of tampons. (Don’t judge me. I buy in bulk. It saves money.) I was already self-conscious about that, because you know, it’s a dude ringing me up and apparently I’m still 13 and this whole menstruation thing is all new to me.

(Seriously, self. It’s been going on for over 20 years now. Time to get used to it.)

In an effort to make conversation, the guy says, “So, big fans of the Crimson Tide, huh?”

I was putting my wallet back in my purse when he said this, but my jaw dropped and I whipped my head around and I was about to say, “I’m sorry, WHAT?!?!!” Because OMG, how offensive can you possibly get, right?

Then I realized he was pointing at Catie’s big stuffed elephant that she was carrying with her. And I remembered that Alabama’s mascot is the elephant. And their football team is called the Crimson Tide.

I mumbled, “Oh. Uh. Not really, she just likes elephants.”

And then I died of embarrassment. The End.

the birthday party circuit

So, besides my girl deciding that she’s half-fish this weekend, we also had not one but TWO birthday parties to attend. This makes three birthday parties in less than a month. It’s pretty sad when you realize that your 3 year-old has a more active social calendar than either of her parents.

On Friday evening, we went to a birthday party at the Jump Zone for Catie’s daycare friend Cole. I tried out the iPhone’s video camera and got this (warning: turn down your volume, the Jump Zone is LOUD).
That’s 34 seconds of a tiny blonde blur right there. And it’s pretty much all I saw for the entire two hours we were there.

Finally, we managed to round up the kids and go have pizza and cake. The private room for birthday parties had a big inflatable throne, which I assume is for the birthday boy/girl to sit on, but all the kids took turns climbing on it.

Ava, Catie & Caitlin
(If you look closely, you can see evidence of the Thomas the Tank Engine cake. That blue frosting stuff requires soap and water to wash off, it won’t be contained by mere napkins alone.)

On Sunday, we went to a birthday party for Catie’s friend Ava at a local playground.

Catie at the playground

Of course, it was all fun and games until it was time to get the kids together for a group picture, at which point Catie crossed her arms and pouted. (She wanted to keep playing.)

Group pose time!

It’s a great park, and the party was a lot of fun, but I don’t know if there are adequate words to express how miserably hot it was. Ninety degrees, humid, and not a single breeze to be found. It was about as sweaty as you can get. Not that the kids seemed too terribly bothered by it.

Catie & Matthew

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this child more sweaty in her life. Before we left, I dragged her into the ladies’ room to splash some cold water on her face to try to help her cool off.

Roman and Catie
(If any of y’all remember the boy that Catie was caught kissing? That’s him. He’s a very sweet kid. And apparently he’s told his parents that when he grows up, he’s going to drive a mini-van just like his dad, and Catie will ride beside him. I think that’s the 3 year-old version of saying he’s going to marry her. I’m taking notes of all this for when they end up going to prom together in 15 years.)

The party was great, and I love that most of the other daycare parents seem friendly and nice. But it would’ve been a lot more fun in maybe a month or so when it’s 10-15 degrees cooler outside!

On the upside, though, spending all that time out in the heat made the pool feel extra-awesome on Sunday afternoon. So there’s that.

Catie's Feelings

Catie made a “book” at daycare last week, and this is too good not to share. So, I give you….

Catie’s Feelings

Catie's Feelings

The cover is a picture of her and a little boy in her class named David. They were playing basketball together. Do you see the hoop in between them that’s at their shoulder height? Aww yeah, my kid can slam dunk.

So, apparently the idea was to pick a few emotions, and the teacher asked them to draw it. Then she said, “So when were you happy/sad/whatever?” and she wrote on the page what the picture was supposed to illustrate.

Important to note: Catie’s drawing skills are, uh, less than stellar. She has a hard time pressing down the crayon hard enough to even make a visible scribble. We’re working on that.

"Catie is sad when Mommy said I didn't get a treat"
“Catie is sad when Mommy said I didn’t get a treat.”

See the misery and woe in those sad scribbles? That’s all because I didn’t let her have a York peppermint patty five minutes before dinner. Yep. Worst mother ever, that’s me.

"Catie was happy at the beach with Mommy and Daddy"
“Catie was happy at the beach with Mommy and Daddy.”

I love this one, not only because the sentiment is so sweet (aww, she remembers our fun trip to the beach!), but also because her drawing almost makes sense. Those scribbles actually look like wave lines in the ocean, right? Kinda? Maybe?

Whatever, *I* can see it.

And now, for our big finale (seriously, this is the last page of the book)…

"Catie was lonely on the playground"
“Catie was lonely on the playground.”

WTF? I have to be honest, I laughed when I saw this because it just doesn’t seem like her at all. I’ve never seen Catie lonely on the playground. This is a child who runs up to stranger-kids and says, “Hi, kid! Wanna play wif’ me?” So… uh… when exactly did she go all emo-kid on me?

I showed her the picture and said, “Sweetie, when were you lonely on the playground?”

She said, “Because, a mosquito landed on me, and it bit me, and it HURT!”

I said, “Well, baby girl, that means you were upset. Lonely means that you were sad and all by yourself. Have you ever felt like that?”

Her: “No, that’s silly!”

Right. That’s what I thought.

There you have it. Catie’s Feelings. Or something that she thinks means the same thing. Close enough.

random stories about my kid

I’m writing this down for future reference. I forget a lot of these little moments, and these are a few I want to remember.

File under “It Was Bound to Happen Sooner or Later”: About two weeks ago, Catie decided that she was done with Pull-Ups at bedtime. She wanted to wear her big-girl panties all the time. She always woke up dry, so I didn’t worry much about ditching the Pull-Ups.

Sometimes, though, she worries me because she refuses to pee before bedtime. I try insisting that she needs to use the potty, but she screams and cries in protest and I finally give up.

Last night happened to be one of those nights. Flash-forward to 4 a.m. when I’m awakened by hysterical shrieking. I hop out of bed and bolt down to her room. She was crying so hard I could barely understand her, but she was screaming, “I peed my paaaaaaanties!!!” Poor kid was totally distraught. So off we went to the bathroom so she could finish her business, then new pj’s were obtained, and sheets were changed. (I can’t even remember the last time I had to change her sheets in the middle of the night. I think it was when she had a diaper malfunction as a tiny baby.)

The good news is that I made it a Learning Moment, and said, “See, this is why we always need to pee before bedtime, so this won’t ever happen again.” I’m hoping that she won’t fight me so much about it next time.

Catie’s in a phase of hating my camera right now, so I haven’t been taking too many pictures. When I try, either she turns her head or covers her eyes, or I end up with pictures like this.

who, me?

Lovely, right? Hopefully she’ll get over it fast.
One of Catie’s favorite jokes right now: she goes to her play kitchen, gets a plastic lemon and a teacup. She puts the lemon in the cup and then says, “Hey, want some lemonade?” Then she cracks up.

Another potty-related anecdote: Catie has now decided that she wants privacy when she poops. She needs one of us to go into the bathroom with her, to turn on the light and help her get her pants down, then it’s “Mommy, you go ‘way.” I leave the room and she yells for me when she’s done. I think that’s hilarious. Also, how nice for her that she gets privacy when she poops, but nobody else gets the same courtesy from her!

The other night Dave gave Catie her bath and got her into her PJ’s. Later that night, she and I were in her room and we noticed a spot of blood on the carpet. I knew immediately that it must be Dave’s; he’s covered in mosquito bites and he picks at them, so I was sure that’s what it was. I told Catie this, and she ran out of the room and screamed down the stairs, “Daddy! You left a blood in my bedroom!”

I know, it’s kind of gross, but I laughed.
I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but I really love Catie’s daycare. I love that the teachers are nice and that Catie adores them, I love that they “get” her, and that they’re getting her to try all kinds of cool new things. They do so much cool stuff there. The kids are learning sign language and Spanish. She has a weekly music class, a soccer class (called Sweet Feet, which is so adorable I could die), and a gymnastics class (called Tumblin’ Tots). And I love that Catie has several friends in her class, both boys and girls. I really couldn’t have asked for a better set up.

Also? I love the projects that she brings home. She brings home little art creations all the time. For Mother’s Day, I got a whole little basket full of crafty things she had made, and I’ve seen a preview of what they’re making for Father’s Day, and it’s pretty awesome. Apparently this is part of it, but it’s not so much a surprise because it’s on the bulletin board outside their classroom:

Catie's star

Each kid has their own star. I love it. (I especially love how they cut out the picture around her pigtails.) And hey, at least she’ll smile for the daycare teacher’s camera, right?

This is what happens when you have a girl

Catie has this issue with her hair. Specifically: she doesn’t want to do anything with it. Occasionally she’ll indulge me and let me put in some barrettes to hold it back out of her face, but most of the time, she wants nothing to do with it. She likes to wear her hair down, and she doesn’t want any accessories. I usually have to grab her and sit her on my lap just to brush it, then she’s off and running.

Because you aren't really a princess unless your crown has maribou feathers on it
Exhibit A: Just-brushed hair. This is about as good as it gets.

Which, you know, it’s fine. Sure, her hair usually has a slightly-messy thing going on, but she’s only three, so who cares?

One day she came home from daycare and had barrettes in her hair that weren’t ours. I knew she didn’t have anything in her hair when she left for daycare. The next day, I asked the teacher about it, she said that they have a little bowl full of ponytail holders and barrettes so they can get the hair out of the kids’ faces if it becomes a problem while they’re eating or working on an art project or what-have-you. Huh. Ok then.

Earlier this week, Dave picked Catie up from daycare, and when they walked in the door, her hair was in pigtails. This was amazing because she never lets me put her hair up in a ponytail or pigtails at all. And is there anything cuter than a little girl in pigtails?

studying constellations on the iPad
Exhibit B: I rest my case. Also: it totally freaks me out that she figured out her way around the iPad’s interface in two days, but we’ll leave that topic for another time.

I know that the only reason Catie allowed the pigtails is because the daycare teacher suggested it, not me. And that’s fine. But the next day, I asked her, “Hey, do you want Mommy to put your hair up like Ms. Sandy did yesterday?” She said, “Yeah!” So I did.

showing me the game she was playing on Dave's iPhone
Exhibit C: More cuteness. And yeah, she knows how to work the iPhone too. My Microsoft-y heart weeps, but she is a pretty devoted Mac girl already.

She let me put her hair up in pigtails again today. It’s weird how this is making all of my “someday I’ll have a little girl and I’ll play with her hair all day” fantasies surface. I freaking love putting her hair up for her. It’s kind of strange.

Also: exposed toddler neck. Cannot stop kissing. Don’t judge me.

in which the Internet will judge me for listening to the pop radio station with my toddler

This morning started off like most of our weekdays. Out of bed, get Catie a sippy cup of milk, start to get dressed, pause for a toddler tantrum over some tiny injustice (in this case, it was because she wanted a piece of the candy that my mom sent home from New Orleans with her, and I told her she couldn’t have it until after breakfast, because I am a cruel & horrible tyrant), try to finish getting dressed, get Catie’s daycare bag together, out the door and off to daycare in a reasonable time frame. It’s like a daily marathon.

Today, before we left, we talked about how tomorrow, her daycare will be closed (for Good Friday), but Mommy and Daddy still need to work, so would she like to go to drop-in daycare instead? Her response: “Yeah, that’d be awesome!” Note to self: need to watch the valley girl slang in front of the toddler. I don’t know if her daycare teachers are amused or annoyed when she calls them “Dude.”

We finally set off for daycare, and listened to the radio in the car and talked; she was confused by the lyrics to “Telephone” by Lady Gaga.
Catie: “Why she can’t* want to talk anymore?”
Me: “Because she just wants to dance, sweetie, she doesn’t want to talk on the phone.”
Catie: “Yeah, I can’t want to talk on the phone while I dancing.”
Me: “Nope, me neither.”

* Random: Catie’s been doing this for a while now, but I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it. She never says, “I don’t want X,” it’s always “can’t.” Like, “I can’t want to take a bath,” “I can’t like eggs,” etc. I don’t know where that comes from, but it always cracks me up.

So, you know, pretty much a typical morning for us. Then we turned onto the street where her daycare is located.

Catie: “I can’t want to go to daycare class.”
Me: (stomach sinking and thinking I confused her by mentioning drop-in daycare earlier and oh lord, she’s going to have a meltdown and this is going to suuuuck) “What do you mean, babe?”
Catie: “I can’t want to go to daycare class anymore. I go to preschool class with da big kids.”
Me: “Oh. Um. Well, let’s ask and see, ok?”

We walked in, and I spotted the director of the center. I asked her if it was ok for Catie to go into the preschool class today. She said, “Oh yeah, she spent most of the day in there yesterday, I think she’s ready to transition over to that class now.”

We headed into the new classroom, and all the kids were like, “Hey, Catie is here!” It was like the 3 year-old equivalent of Cheers. (“NORM!!!”) She gave me a kiss good-bye, and bounced off to play with her new “big kid” friends.

Catie on the stairs

And so it goes. Another milestone, another tiny piece of my heart. I am so, so proud of my girl.

learning curve

Our previous baby-sitter, Nicole, emailed me over the weekend to ask if Catie could come play in the morning one day this week. Catie was good friends with Nicole’s daughter Kiersten, and I know they’ve missed each other these past couple of months, so I thought sure, why not. We decided that Catie could go play on Wednesday morning, since that worked for both Nicole’s and my schedules.

On Tuesday, when I picked Catie up from daycare, the director stopped me and asked if I had five minutes to talk. I said ok, and my stomach immediately knotted up. Why is that? It was like some residual “getting called into the principal’s office” fear that came out of nowhere. The woman is only a few years older than me. Why am I intimidated? Bizarre.

She wanted to know what I thought about moving Catie up to the preschool class. The class Catie’s in now is called the “Upper Twos,” which means it’s kids that range from 2 1/2 years old to kids that just recently turned 3. The preschool class is all 3 year-olds. I thought that being fully potty-trained was a prerequisite for the preschool class, but the director said no, there are a few kids in that room who are still in Pull-Ups. (For the record, Catie has probably a 90-95% success rate with peeing in the potty. It’s just the poop. I cannot get her to poop in the potty to save my freaking life.) The main difference between the rooms is the curriculum. She had noticed that Catie knows all of her letters and the sounds they make (which I take absolutely no credit for, it was totally because of this) and she can count to 20, so she’s probably getting bored by the Upper Twos class, since they’re still working on that stuff there.

So we were talking about my Special Little Snowflake and how brilliant she is (naturally), and I was thinking about Catie’s upcoming playdate at Nicole’s house and how much it threw me when Nicole suspected that Catie had SPD, and the thing I wrote yesterday about her going down the slide… And I just blurted out and asked her if she had noticed if Catie ever displayed any signs of Sensory Processing Disorder. She looked a bit surprised, but she said that she’d spent quite a bit of time in that classroom (filling in when one of the other teachers was out sick), and that she’d never noticed anything remotely abnormal about her.

I said, “Well, you know, she is scared of swings and she only recently decided that the slide was ok, but she still hates her tricycle…”

She said, “Yeah. But, she’s THREE. It’s not the same as it would be if she was scared of those things at 5 or 6 years old.”

I admit it, I sort of breathed a sigh of relief. (And no, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with kids who have SPD, or that it’s bad, or whatever. Some random person showed up the last time I wrote about it and completely took what I was saying out of context & was offended, so I’d like to just state that up front. I am not blasting your kid. I’m just talking about my own.)

Of course, when I talked about changing classes with Catie herself, she was dead set against it. They’re going to ease her in and let her spend a couple of hours in the preschool class here and there, and let her gradually make the shift. I think it’ll be really good for her.

And for the record, the playdate at Nicole’s house this morning was fine. She and Kiersten hugged both when we first got there, and again when it was time to leave. I love that it seems easy for her to make friends. I already knew she adored her cousin. It’s nice to see those friendships develop with non-family members too.

I picked her up from Nicole’s house around 11, and she got upset when I said that I was going to take her to daycare. My gut instinct knew that she wanted to spend time with me, not just get shuttled from one place to the other. So I decided that work could wait for a little while, and I took my favorite girl out for lunch.

Lunch break with Mommy

Mommy Time FTW! The chicken nuggets and french fries didn’t hurt either.