Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I think it's so funny that there are so many blogs out there by parents with one child. Totally frustrated with their lives. Often unable to cope with the stress of having a child.
I mean, there is sometimes some good writing, and they're not always talking about being stressed by their offspring - sometimes it's something political regarding raising children, or help for stressed parents or it's just fantastically funny and so we don't care what it's about since we get to laugh about shit we experience every other day as parents.
But I can't help but think, SHIT, wait until you've got another ankle biter (or two, or three, simultaneously or otherwise)...biting. Let me see how crappy you think your life is THEN.
Indescribably, probably. That's why no one writes about it.
Just kidding. It's not that no one writes about it. Of course people write about it. At 11:20pm, desperately hoping that their 2+ kids are going to sleep through the night, or at least until 5am.
It's a tragic life.
Really, though, the other bloggers are right about at least one thing: we should stick together. Burgeoning writers, all of us, we need to support others in the same position. Use our popularity to draw attention to others who need same.
So, in my off time, I'm going to look for said parenting blogs, read them (and not just the most current post!) and give them a link on my unread blog page.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Diary of a Night

It's just a dream.

8:30pm. Those first two hours were fantastic. We sat on the couch. He caught up on his work e-mails on his work computer. I caught up on my Facebook. We watched Flashdance in German.
Maybe "fantastic" is an exaggeration. But at least we didn't have to worry about any children screaming, spilling on the couch or beating each other with a mini broom. Plus alone time with the spouse.

10:30pm. He went to bed. I wasn't tired so I watched the last episode of True Blood. And fell asleep. Because I WAS tired.

Midnight-10minutes. Chloé woke up. I told her to go to bed with Daddy.

Midnight. I went to bed. I spent the next three hours fighting for my place and pillow. I think Chloé just wanted to cuddle, but her cuddling was ... invasive.

3:30am? Mia came in the room whimpering. Crawled in beside Daddy (there was absolutely no room on either side of me, anyway). A few minutes later, Aidyn arrived. He wanted space beside me, but, as you know, there was none. I tried to comfort him but ended up passing him over the other two towards Daddy. He was having none of that. Daddy got up to get milk for the newcomers.

4am. After Aidyn expressed his discontent at having no room in the bed, I went with him to Chloé's bed. To no avail. He just cried and tried to escape. So we went to his room. Same. So I decided to give up and go into the living room and wait for him to get re-tired. A few minutes later we were joined by Mia and Daddy. Milk was doled out again. We were shortly joined by our first born. I sent Daddy to bed, since I knew that's what he wanted, and I'm better at having less sleep. I'm also more likely to kill the children in the night, but I thought we'd just have to risk it. Shortly after Chloé joined him.

4:45am or so. I took the annoying small people to Chloé's room. After at least 15 minutes of intense hair kneading and invasive cuddling (again), we all fell asleep. I proceeded to dream of a large bed with only me in it. It will apparently remain a dream for a long, long time.

7:40am. We are drawn out of the room by the light of day and threat of spouse to leave the house soon.

7:50am. Mia wants something and starts crying. Aidyn cries out of sympathy or because he wants the same thing and both feel the injustice of the world. Or at least the injustice of their parents. The day has begun. 

The Moment

This afternoon I was coloring mandalas with Chloé. Miraculously we were left alone by Mia and Aidyn for most of the time; apparently quality time spent with their sister is acceptable time away from me. Until they got hungry, then something else had to be done.

We colored to Cecilia and Colorful, Daddy I'm Fine and Drops of Jupiter. Phil Collins wrapped it up just before we had to cut pear and serve up some yogurt as a snack for colorers and pre-colorers alike.

I was thinking while coloring with all of these different pencils and crayons what a leap of faith it is to color a small space with a fat pencil or crayon. You put the utensil approximately where you think it should go and do your best to stay in the lines, only hoping where its bulk blocks your vision. And then when you do go outside the lines because the pencil was too fat or you were too impatient, you have to forgive yourself and find the beauty and uniqueness in the mistake. Faith in your own particular artistic genius.

It was a moment. Now it's over and they're screaming and crying in terror, I don't know why, maybe Aidyn is sitting on Mia's head, or maybe Chloé has forced Aidyn into the chair to have tea with her. Or maybe they're just frustrated and we'd better get the hell out of the house before we all implode and take the whole neighborhood with us.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Little Girls Lost

Once we lost Chloé. One Saturday in Ikea. It wasn't really surprising: we'd been so remiss about keeping an eye on her for so long and she'd never disappeared, it was inevitable that at some point we would lose track of each other.

I used to get lost regularly in Ikea. Only recently have I memorized the flow: sofas, tables, shelves, dining, beds, desks, wait, is it beds then desks, or desks then beds? Well, anyway I can follow the arrows. And I stay away from the shortcuts.

We were looking at something for the kitchen. Maybe she didn't see us and thought we had moved on. So she moved on. When we finally looked around to check on her, she was gone. Not standing next to us, not in the next aisle. Not in the next section. I started to panic.

Luckily a couple in the mattress section (two over from the kitchen) wondered about the little girl wandering alone and asked her her name so they could announce it over the speaker. This I heard and ran to the mattresses to find my first lost child.

Yesterday we lost Mia. But not in Ikea. In Stuttgart. At our favorite restaurant with a closed (haha but not completely!) courtyard where the kids can run around a bit and play in the sand ("Strandbar") and parents can enjoy their lunch.

I was talking to a friend and her husband while Gaetan was off with Aidyn somewhere. Chloé was climbing around on my lap and on the bench. When Gaetan came back, I realized we hadn't seen Mia for a few minutes. "Where's Mia?" I asked. "I don't know," he responded. That's the kind of parents we are. We care, but, based on personal experience, sometimes we don't know.

Now our experience has changed.

We looked in the sand.

We looked on the stairs. On the other stairs. Under the tables.

We looked in the bathrooms and inside the restaurant. I started calling her. "MIA!"

I went out of the courtyard towards the street and subway entrance. "MIA! MIA!" Around the corner. My mind filed the fact that there were no police cars, ambulances or fire trucks marking an accident involving a very small person crushed or thrown by a car.

I ran back into the courtyard. "She's gone," Gaetan said. Cool. Calm. I wanted to scream, "WHAT!? WHAT DO YOU MEAN "she's gone"?! SHE'S NOT A BUCKET THAT'S GONE MISSING FROM THE SANDBOX, SHE'S OUR DAUGHTER!!!" but instead I walked through the courtyard to the other side, the square with the antique market. Nothing.

I walked back in to the restaurant calling her name. I swear I heard her whimpering at some point but it must have been an other kid because she wasn't there.

I ran back around the other side of the building, constantly calling her name. Into the subway station. Out of the subway station. A couple asked me if we were looking for our daughter. I said yes and she was very small and wearing a purple shirt.

I went back through the courtyard to the other side. "MIA!" I cried to the antique market. "MIA!" I heard called back. Heh? Some kid joking around? "MIA!" I called again. "MIA!" I heard again.

"MIA!" I screamed and looked in the direction of the returning call. "HERE!" yelled a woman waving her arm. SHIT, I thought, she was yelling "here!" not "mia!" and please please please let that be her.

I ran over, leaping over any obstacle that got in my way and there was my mini Mia. Not crying, not even looking worried, just standing there, holding this woman's hand. I grabbed her and fell on the ground with her and kissed her and held her and told her I loved her.

And meanwhile the woman who found her was telling me how good she (Mia) was and how I did a good job and I wish I had asked her what the hell she was talking about because either Mia was good because she trusted a total stranger or I was good because I let my child wander away. I don't know. I just wanted to take her back to the rest of the family and be on our way so I did and we were.

I suppose the morals of the story are:
A courtyard isn't closed unless it's closed.
You can't talk to friends when you have almost-two-year-old kids.
If your child tries to escape the playground, they'll try to escape a Biergarten. Or they may just be trying to pet a dog. Either way, they're gone.
My children definitely have at least one and possibly twelve guardian angels. But I don't know how reliable their charity is.