Sunday, June 28, 2009

Nuestra Cama Familiar (Our Family Bed)

I am not totally sure that we ever planned to have a family bed. It seems like it just evolved that way. When my oldest was born, I found it odd and somewhat cruel to set this little creature that had been part of me for nine months off to his own little bed by himself. I thought he needed the comfort and touch of his mother. It was, after all, someone he was accustomed to being with--to be with the scent, touch, and sounds that meant warmth and safety to him. I myself was having difficulty letting go of the closeness we shared, so I nestled him along side me, and we spent many months breathing deeply in rhythm with each other, nursing, and sleeping.

The western custom of placing newborns in their own bed, and even in their own room has always been strange to me, if not impractical. I myself grew up in a household that practiced the art of sleep-sharing. Growing up in a small border town where temperatures frequently hit above 100 F, there was little choice than to cram everyone in the only room with air conditioning. Even when the heat subsided and the air grew cool, we all slept together on my parent's queen size bed--my sister in between my parents, I at the foot of the bed next to my mother, and my brother, the oldest, alongside the bed on the floor. Yes it was a bit cozy, and sometimes even uncomfortable, and I'm sure my mother probably wanted nothing more than to sleep by herself, but nonetheless, we all slept soundly--nestled in the feathers of our mother hen, and the mutual security we felt being so close to each other. As we grew older, we moved, and the situation of our family changed, the way in which we co-slept evolved as well in much the same way as it has evolved for our new family.

When we started sleep-sharing, the Dada and I were well-aware of the dangers of sleeping with a newborn, and had read many articles on the subject, but we decided to play it by ear, and we discovered that this just worked best for us. It started with the oldest sleeping in our bed full-time, and eventually being weaned into his own bed at about age three. This really meant that he'd start by sleeping part of the night in his bed, and as the night wore on, he'd tip-toe/run into the middle of our bed and slip under our covers. It all depended on whether there were monsters chasing him or not. Once he was potty trained, this also meant that I had to help him fight the monsters in the bathroom, and occasionally deal with wet bedsheets.

As our family has grown and changed, so has our sleep-sharing. When the Bee was born, Big Brother would at first attempt to squeeze into the middle of the bed right next to our newborn babe which I figured was not the safest thing. It meant that we had to coach the older boy to sleep in the middle at the foot of our bed, when he did bounce into our room during the middle of the night. The Bee enjoyed many months nestled next to me nursing and sleeping much the same way the older boy did; his parents fully aware of his presence in their bed.

Almost three years later since our last was born, we have established a bedtime routine that puts limits on their sleep-sharing. On good weeks, the older boy doesn't even participate, but lately there has been a rash of monsters in his room. Most nights, the boys get bathed by their daddy, teeth brushed, a book or two read in the bed of the older boy, followed by a ten minute snuggle form the participating adult until the older boy falls asleep. Sometimes this also puts the Bee to sleep, but most of the time it doesn't.

The Bee is a stubborn little lad that does not want to sleep. He sometimes requires rocking, and when this doesn't work, I usually give up, place him in his bed, and lie on the floor for a while until he falls asleep. And if this till doesn't work, I give up, run off leaving him awake in his bed. Sometimes he falls asleep at this point, and other times we play the you-run-out-of-your-room-and-I-throw-you-back-in game for many rounds. If his will happens to be stronger than mine that night, I give in and we sit on the couch while I pray the t.v. lulls him to sleep. Eventually, it does--this being midnight, and our actual sleep routine having started at around 9 pm. We have accepted the fact that our kids are just on another sleep schedule, but the Bee's resistance to sleep really drives us crazy. He can rival any kid his age in a no-sleep contest, and maybe even some adults.

Needless to say, It has been almost six years since I last had a good nights sleep. The boys usually show up in our bed around 3am or so, giving their parents some private time. The older boy sleeps at the foot of our bed, while the Bee cozies up next to me taking over my pillow, getting close enough to yank my hair or jab me a few times in the face while trying. On good nights, he will bestow these gestures on the Dada instead of me, and the I just get a few toe-nailed kicks to my side, which I prefer to the hair pulling. So boys, if you ever read this, know that you blessed your parents with many sleep-deprived, tortuous nights that often lead to one of the adults attempting to sleep in our queen-sized bed to relocate to another bed--usually the Dada, because your Mama knows that the Bee would just hunt her down once more. It has lead to what we call musical beds.

This post is neither for or against sleep-sharing; each family needs to make a choice that works best for them. We are ready to go without it now, but apparently our kids are not.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bee Happy and Learning!

This last week my youngest Bee got to go to his first day of school. He has been dyyyying to go to school this whole year. He'd beg his Dada to let him tag along to drop off the Older Boy at his co-op, and then the Bee would proceed to hold on to whatever object in the school looked securely bolted down or would simply runaway and attempt to hide. In the end, there would be some screaming and bargaining done, and the Bee would be ousted once more. "School, school, school," he'd repeat over and over and over again. He'd stamp his feet and protest, "I wanna go school, NOW." The dada would calmly try to tell him that his time would come, and he wasn't quite old enough to go just yet.

Last Monday must have been his happiest day ever in his short, but largely-lived life. He jumped out of bed at the mention of school, and before we knew it had drank his morning cup of chocolate milk (his idea of coffee), eaten his cereal, gotten dressed and hair brushed with a little help from the Mama, and brushed his teeth without a single complaint and a smile on his face. He just kept repeating, "I'm gonna go to school too-day." Every few minutes, he'd periodically stop to sing and dance his self-created little ditty--"now, now, now-now, now, now, now- now, now." This is always a sign that he is beyond overjoyed and excited.

His day started with a car ride and a big, cheesy grin that ended in much the same way. The Bee delighted in all the school had to offer: the snack table was visited often; a medal for sports day was decorated with copious amounts of glitter; a few laps around the school with several different trikes were taken; the dolls were all admired for their beauty as he lifted each against his chest and announced "beau-ti-ful"; the sand was used for digging, dust-bathing, and food preparation; the play structure became a safe haven from villains; and many balls were kicked or thrown.

He made new friends and even some temporary enemies-Miss A decided she did not want to befriend any boys and smacked him one. The next day, Miss A decided to make-up during circle time, and this time smacked a big juicy one on his cheek. Misguided love?Maybe? Thankfully, his older brother was there for support. In the end, all was perfect in his world, and I was able to be witness to another first. Had he started school in the fall, I would have missed it all--work beckons in August.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Schools Out for Summer..."

-So the chorus goes. We listened as the DJ played this in the background while the last bell of the year rung. We couldn't get these middles-schoolers off campus fast enough. All day we had been trying to keep them from skipping school, and now that they were free to go, they were having trouble letting go. "GO HOME!" we yelled." GO HOME...

Breathe. School is finally out. I am trying to enjoy every bit of the freedom, because I know that once school starts again, it will be like being whisked away on a tidal wave. Surviving this tidal wave will require that I learn to break free from its force and come up for air on occasion until it delivers me once again on land.

Now that I am on land, I am trying to go through the check list of items I kept putting off all year, like washing my car, fixing random broken items, finding a house to purchase, and sleep. Yet, all I want to do is to continue to put these obligations aside so that I may spend time with my wee ones.

They start summer school tomorrow, and I am excited about the prospect of finally being able to participate in their Co-op. All year, their dada had enjoyed this duty, and I am not saying that sarcastically either. He totally loved helping out at the school and getting to know all the other children and parents/grandparents. We DO love our co-op! I only wish they also had a continued elementary school for them. To public school the elder goes, while the young one enjoys the wonders that are a co-op preschool for two more years.

They get to do sooooo much more than most traditional preschools do because the parent involvement makes such a huge difference on what and how they can learn. This year, he road on the Amtrak train with his friends to a beautiful park in Palo Alto, visited a couple theaters to watch a children's play, took a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the planetarium, spent over two months at a beautiful county park, made a trip to the art museum, chased butterflies while flying with their own self-created wings, put on a circus complete with tight rope walkers and ring master, enchanted their parents with their interpretation of The Nutcracker, marched in a parade in celebration of Chinese New Year while wearing traditional costumes in red and gold, star gazed in the still early darkeness of spring, spent a night exploring their schools during a culminating overnight stay, and ...the list goes on. The world would be a different place if all students were taught by a community of loving, nurturing, and interested adults.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Things They Say (or Said)

Big Brother: What are you doing daddy?
Daddy: I'm cooking some chicken breasts.
Big Brother: You mean your cooking some chicken boobies!

The Bee: Watya doin?

Mama: What are you doing with all those cards.
Big Brother: I am making some cards for Santa and his elves.
Mama: But Christmas is still two months away.
Big Brother: I know, but I want Santa to know I want EVERYTHING.

The Bee: Watya doin?

This post was originally drafted in December of 2008 and continued in June 2009. Yes. I AM that behind.

The Bee: Watya doin? (He says this phrase about 100 times a day, so I thought I'd make a point of it.)

The Bee: I WANT SOME ROCK-A-RONI! (macaroni)

Big Brother while attempting to put on his shoes: Grandma can you check my shoes for spiders.
Grandma taking a peek in the shoe: Nope. No spiders in there.
Big Brother starting to put on his his shoe, but changing his mind: Grandmaaaaa! Check again!
Grandma: Why?
Big Brother while flinging shoe: Aaaaah! Because there may be spider eggs inside and they might hatch and crawl on my foot. (Dramatic and paranoid.)

Big Brother: Do you want me to kill myself. (He is beyond dramatic.)

Big Brother while trying to steal Super George from the Bee: George is dead. He's dead.
The Bee while running and flying Super George in the air: He not dead. He's Thuperman!

The Bee: I want mommy! (He is definitely a mama's boy.)


Funny words the Bee mispronounces, but I love to hear him say.

Dino-roar (dinosaur)

Lemolade (lemonade)

Funny words the older boy used to mispronounce that I loved to hear.

hella-chocolate (helicopter, but I guess he loves chocolate so much he has to insert it in everything.)

noonol (noodle)

The things these boys say seriously make us laugh!