So, it happened. My child had a (very small) altercation with another child at a ‘Mommy & Me’ event and it’s turned into an issue.
We were at the home of a little girl whom the boy absolutely adores. They play really well together and he’s there quite often. Not that that makes a difference. We’ll call the other little girl (the girl in question), GIRL and her mom, MOM. Because, yeah, that’s how creative I’m feeling right about now.
So, all the kids (under 3, mind) are all running around and playing – not quite together, but you know. Well enough. Now, this little wild child of mine may be tall for his age and quite a sturdy boy, but he’s actually oddly protective of his own space and of being touched. This includes touching other children, which he doesn’t often do. So, pushing and hitting? Not so much an issue. Throwing toys that hit other kids? Yeah, if someone accused him of that, I’d believe it in a heartbeat. But pushing? Climbing on another child? Hasn’t ever happened.
So, there were a couple of incidents I noticed where the boy was trying to pass and this GIRL put up her hand in his face. She didn’t push him or physically harm him in any way, but her actions still felt aggressive to me, as his mom. He, of course, instantly ran up to me sort of half crying and I said something along the lines of: It’s okay, sweet boy. If someone does something you don’t like or pushes you, you say ‘No, thank you’ and walk away.
He ran off again happily. I didn’t say this because I thought she pushed him. I said it because it’s how he reacts to any child that comes near ‘his area’. I want him to learn to use his words to express what he needs from those around him. In his case, that’s his space. Though, I suppose, like I said, I do find her behavior in general, and specifically regarding this situation, to be aggressive, even though she didn’t push.
This had already happened twice when both of them shifted more towards the area where the MOM was sitting (I was in the living room and she was sitting at the dining room table – though it’s an open floor plan and we could see each other easily, she hadn’t been able to see the children in the corner of the room where they were before). Again, GIRL was attempting to push two baby strollers filled with stuff , which she was obviously struggling with (it was actually funny and cute) and she was taking up a lot of space. The boy again tried to go around her and she again turned on him and put her hand up right in his face. He ran back to me and I said the same thing. MOM came right over and said, ‘She wasn’t pushing. It’s what I taught her to do when boys climb all over her back. She doesn’t like that.’ I responded, which maybe I shouldn’t have done at all, saying that he wasn’t climbing on her, he was just trying to get by.
And that was that. Or so I thought. We went outside and everything was fine. I even helped GIRL up into the big trampoline and gave MOM her socks so they wouldn’t get wet. I thought everything was fine, though if I’m honest, I suppose I was still annoyed with the situation also. And I knew that MOM had some other issues with me that have to do with co organizing mommy events (and no one wants to hear about that).
GIRL continued to use this strategy with any and all children who did anything she didn’t like throughout the morning. One boy WAS sort of jumping on the other children on the trampoline, though not in an aggressive/mean way, but in a very excited ‘how much fun are WE having’ sort of way. My boy obviously hated it and, crying, asked to get off a few times. But this boy’s mom was right there, telling him to stop. Everything was fine. Until he did it to GIRL, who of course instantly put her hand straight in his face and started pushing until he fell down. MOM did nothing. My boy started crying and wanted out just being around that sort of thing and the other boy (who has a big sister and beyond yelling, didn’t seem phased too much) was taken out as well.
Now, do I think GIRL is some sort of horrible child? No. She’s almost 3. She’s young, she’s learning, she’s doing her best. Do I think her mom is the worst? No. She spoils her and doesn’t give her enough discipline, in my opinion. But she does her best and she loves her.
However, I’m pretty sure she thinks my sweet precious little boy is a monster. And granted, he is. But I think she thinks so in a bad way. She sent me an email saying that not only did he push her into a door handle so hard that she has a cut and a bruise under her eye (They were no where near any door), but that she’s seen him pushing before and I’ve done nothing about it.
Like I said, if she had accused him of throwing toys that accidentally hit kids – or even throwing toys AT other kids, I’d probably believe her (Though I DO discipline him for this and he’s gotten MUCH better – He just likes throwing.) but he’s not a pusher.
Beyond the fact that this incident sort of made me question myself as a mother, the worst thing was when they left. MOM instructed her daughter to say goodbye to the other two children there and turned around and left, leaving my sweet boy standing next to me, waving desperately and saying, “Bye, GIRL, bye!” to no response.
My little boy is now 26 1/2 months, though I usually do just say he’s “just turned 2” (Mostly because I can’t do math or figure out what month it is that quickly in my head, not because I’m not that annoying mom, because I am…). He’s of course growing so quickly and learning so much every day that I’m astounded. Literally. I find I don’t know what to do with him half the time. He’s somehow right at that point between baby and little boy where he can talk and understand what I’m saying, but not enough.
His favorite toys right now are cars and trains, which are slightly annoying only because that means setting up and dismantling tracks and car routes approximately a thousand times a day. He also likes to talk about cars on our walks, which means for ten minutes all I hear or think is: “blue car, red car, black car, big blue car, red car go, big black car…” as he points ecstatically from his stroller.
His favorite words are “big”, “muddy puddle”, “Dankeschöne”, “oops-a-nanny”, “poop” (usually in conjunction with big), “train”, “jump” and his own name.
His favorite film is A Bug’s Life, which he calls “The Anties” and his favorite scene is where they build the “big bird”. He acts out a good portion of the film, especially the part where the children put on a play for the warrior bugs, which ends with the last grasshopper dying: the ant falls over saying “die, die, die”. He acted this scene out on the train the other day, which left me praying that no one around us understood English.
He is also quite fond of Peppa Pig, which is part of where his love for “jumping big muddy puddles” comes from.
His favorite color is, of course, blue. While he’s gotten much better recently, for a while there, any time we asked the color of any object (regardless of its actual color), he would happily respond “blue”.
My favorite recent moment? Oddly enough, it involves a poop explosion. We were at our mommy & me meeting, which was held at a Kindercafé, and one of the other moms sort of grabbed him and yelled to me because he had poop coming up out of his pants. I, of course, ran right over, pausing only to grab a clean diaper and wipes out of my bag. The changing table at this particular establishment is out in the open right by the play area so he was standing on this, while I took off his pants and shirt and cleaned off his back and what not (Ah, the joys of children, right?). The other children (all more or less his age) were LOVING IT: pointing at him and saying poop over and over; everyone was totally enthralled. He was standing so very proudly, smiling down at them all and puffing out his chest, pointing to himself repeatedly saying, “Lucas big poop. Lucas big, stinky poop.” Boys.
Current struggles include: getting him to do anything he doesn’t want to do (most particularly getting dressed or taking off his pajamas, especially if they are his Thomas the Tank pjs), getting him to brush his teeth (which he used to love), getting him to stop when we say stop, finding something for him to do that doesn’t involve jumping off of EVERYTHING and perhaps most importantly, though not his fault at all, finding a new school for him. His school is closing in October (just before the baby comes – perfect) and all of the schools around us are full. It is one of those horrible constantly-at-the-back-of-your-mind stresses.
Current loves include: his eagerness to give kisses when saying goodbye, his desire to do things for himself and to help, his enthusiasm, his growing fondness for (or acceptance of) cuddles, when he wakes up in the middle of the night and comes into our room to sleep with us and cuddles right up next to my face on the pillow, stares intently into my eyes, smiles and then goes to sleep, his love of counting (which sometimes is very accurate and impressive and others is more just saying all the numbers in any order up to twelve and pointing at random things), his mischievous face (which his father says resembles mine) and his newfound delight in singing and dancing.
He’s pretty much the bestest.
1. If I walk past his shut door on my tiptoes in the evening or night, his little head will pop right up as he cries out, wanting to play or wanting me to sit beside him whilst he deliberately does NOT sleep. However, if I need him to wake in the morning, I can walk in his room loudly, open his blinds (which are really loud), take out his binkie, and talk to him and NOTHING. He barely stirs.
2. If I need to shower after the hubs leaves for work (which is often as I am also not a morning person), he will stay in the bathroom with me, like a good boy. However, he is adamant about me leaving the shower doors open, allowing all the heat to escape. As I quickly try and clean the oatmeal from my hair, he puts everything he can get his grubby little hands on into the shower with me: his step-stool, his potty, my towel (which was dry), various toys, anything he can manage to pull out of the cupboards (which are supposed to be child proofed)… And we have one of those teeny little ‘European’ showers, in which I would not be able to fit were I to gain five pounds.
3. He needs to have ALL doors and cupboards shut at all times. So, if I want to get in the fridge, for example, I have to be lightening quick and already know exactly where whatever it is I want to eat is, because I have about 1.2 seconds to get it out before he slams my poor hand inside the fridge, screaming at me for daring to disturb his well-ordered universe. It should be noted that usually when I’m getting something out of the fridge or cupboards, it’s because he’s yelling at me that he’s hungry.
To be continued…
My parents have been here visiting for the past two weeks. They literally arrived the morning I took my pregnancy test. My husband told me not to tell anyone. Ha! Has he met me? We decided only to tell our immediate families, with strict instructions for my mother, who happily told all and sundry last time. I believe she was just walking down the road proclaiming to the world that she is going to be a grandmother, though she claims that she only told close friends.
They were here for less than a minute before I said something. My mom brought me a bottle of GABA, which I had said I wanted to take to help me sleep but couldn’t because I was breastfeeding. She excitedly gave it to me, saying that now that I’d stopped breastfeeding, I could take it. I just stared at her, thinking of how to respond. She knew.
In the end, I would have had to say something regardless, even had we not decided to tell; it would have been obvious had I been that nauseated constantly without reason. Of course, the day they left, I started to feel better. Such is life, as my grandmother used to say (Note: anything my grandmother used to say needs to be imagined in the accent of a Jewish New Yorker).
What did we do during their visit? Everything. Correction: THEY did everything, I did absolutely nothing. It was amazing. My mother cleaned the house (repeatedly), took the boy to the park, put him to bed, changed his diapers, etc while my father built a sensory table (pictured above), fixed the bottom drawer of the boy’s dresser, and bought and put together a kitchen, table, chairs and bookshelf (including weather-proofing). He, of course, also took the boy to the park and ran around playing football with him. I watched My Kitchen Rules (all-time best cooking show ever), Lark Rise to Candleford (best BBC series), slept, ate and took a couple of baths. Best Vacation Ever. Oh, wait… It was supposed to be their vacation…
I’ve now just finished my first prenatal yoga session. I bought a double DVD (pre/postnatal yoga) when I first got pregnant with the boy and, of course, never even opened it. So, I’m already doing way better this time around. Go, me.
Or, as they call it in Germany, the Standesamt. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure that’s what they call it. I know that Standesamt is something, but I’ve also heard it called the Rathaus, the Bürgeramt and the Bürgerbüro. As far as I know, which is not much at all, they all have something to do with what we’d call City Hall. I believe one of them might be the Foreign Office. I have no idea and I should because I’ve had to spend far too much time there.
Today, we were going to get a paper stamped and signed for our Kindergeld, the money that we should be getting, and have yet to get, for our little man. Isn’t that amazing? Have a kid in Germany? Here’s some money. However, they fool you because to get it, one has to trudge through a mess of German bureaucracy. It has taken us over a year now to do. Mostly because we had no freaking clue what we needed to do.
Now, as anyone knows, if you want to really experience the worst (and at times the best) of any given culture, go to a government office. You want to really see that no one in California speaks English (and that we, as a state, are incredibly, amazingly multicultural) and that the state is bankrupt? You want to finally understand that absolutely no one wants to do ANY work in Barcelona and they will outright lie to you to get out of doing it? Go to the DMV or the Ajuntament.
So, what have I learned about the Germans today? For one, they are amazingly adverse to integrating other languages into their services. I had always wondered how it was possible that EVERYONE in Germany speaks English quite well until you step into City Hall, where they all just stare at you blankly, as if they’d never even heard the word Englisch. Especially in the Foreign Office, where you’d think at least someone would understand that they are dealing with foreigners and therefore, you know, foreign languages. Well, today I learned that they are actually not allowed to speak any language other than German, whether the person actually can speak it or not. At least I think that’s what I learned. I’m not sure because it was in German…
Secondly, they are the worst at queueing. You would think they’d be excellent. You think German, you think stiff and precise (ignoring the other stereotype of Heidi’s grandfather of course). However, not so. They are officially the worst. I thought that the Catalans were funny because upon entering a building, be it the Ajuntament or a bank, they would ask who the last person in line was and then sit or stand wherever they please. That way they don’t have to actually wait in line, but there is still an order involved. Until you get to an FC Barça game, then all bets are off and those little old ladies aren’t adverse to throwing elbows. Here, however, there is no order. It is entirely chaos.
We arrived at the Standesamt (or whatever the hell it’s called) at 8:00 in the morning. Because that is what time they open. Well… except Tuesdays, it turns out. They open at 9:30 on Tuesdays. Of course. So after 15 minutes of moaning about why we live in this country, my husband decided he couldn’t wait the hour and a half and so, went to work. I decided that it was worth me waiting and trying without him because I did not want to come again. The boy and I went and had breakfast (Quiche, which is the closest thing to “breakfast” I’ve been able to find anywhere. A post on that to follow.) and returned around 9:00. There were already about 15 people waiting around in the entry hall. Some were sitting on benches, some were standing ridiculously close to the door, waiting for it to open and some were standing and smoking in places I would bet money they were not allowed to smoke. I let the wild one out of his cage (stroller) and spent the next 15 minutes or so chasing after him whilst trying to drink my tea (which I almost spilled on his head. Twice.).
At that point, I figured we should get close to the door. I’m glad I did because there were then about 30 people all “queueing” at the door – meaning, they were bundled around the door and they sort of kept inching forward every few minutes, especially if they saw their neighbor moving even a millimeter in front of them. Now the child did not appreciate being put back in his cage (stroller) and was at this point, protesting. Not embarrassingly loudly, but to the point where I was starting to panic a little bit. Did that keep people from inching in front of me or actually physically moving the stroller so that they could make it known that they were before me (even if they had just appeared out of nowhere from behind)? No, it did not.
When the doors finally opened, after two full minutes of door-banging by two old ladies at the front, everyone moved. There was only one door, yet everyone seemed to fit through at once. No one thought to hold the door for the poor ladies with the Kinderwagen (there were 3 of us), so I had to sort of prop it open and push through, while bodies were slipping and sliding past on all sides. Once inside, I expected the lines to form. I mean, without direction, fair enough, but now inside, there were those line dividers made out of seatbelt material (I’m sure there’s a word for that, but having lived in foreign lands for 7 years, I can no longer be expected to speak English.). Line dividers = line. Right? Wrong.
They were STILL just inching forward and pushing me/my child out of the way. It was ridiculous. And as he got more and more fussy and actually began to cry, and as I got more and more sick of singing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (his current favorite), I expected someone to show mercy. People were looking at me with pity just oozing from their face; A man tried to fan the little one to keep him from crying; A woman kept looking over and making faces at him, trying to get him to laugh. You could tell they cared. Did that mean that man didn’t drop his fan and rush in front of me when the attendant called ‘next’ (or whatever it is she called) even though he very definitely arrived after me? No, it certainly did not.
Luckily, as I finally pulled to the front, the child was still crying and pulling hard against his restraints, trying to slide out of the cage so the woman took pity on me and signed and stamped my paper even though it was in my husband’s name and he had left, happily avoiding all of it. Now I have to take my stamped paper along with a different stamped paper to an entirely different government office tomorrow.
And so it continues.
It should be noted that this lovely woman also complimented me on my German, and though I know very well that she was lying, it made me feel better all the same.