Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hickory Dickory

Another week, another...what? I don't know. The days seem so similar. I know that routine is good for toddlers, but man, it's kinda dull for me! Yeah, yeah, I know: "It's not about you anymore."

Yesterday Jarrah and I attended our first toddler "Let's Make Music!" class. Of course, we got behind schedule, got stuck behind an accident, and then I made a wrong turn. All the while, Jarrah was snoring in her car seat, and I dreaded waking her up when we finally got there. Sure enough, she seemed to find everyone in the room, especially me, certifiably insane. Why were all these ladies and babies clapping their hands and chanting in that unnecessary way?

But I get ahead of myself. When we walked in, they were just getting started, it being the first day and all. There were about eight moms and kids, one who seemed to be about Jarrah's age, the rest slightly older. It also looked like a Benetton ad in there--kids of every race, and I was not the only non-matching mother. Well, that was a relief anyway. The two nice teacher-ladies had us seated in a circle with babies on our laps, and I was just starting to relax when they started clapping their hands and knees and chanting "Mu-ther Goose, Mu-ther Goose..." and something in my head went "Bing!" That sound was the alarm bell that the part of parenthood where I feel like an ass in public has begun. I'm not sure why I felt so ridiculous, except maybe that Jarrah looked dumbfounded by this display as well, and I had to choke back the giggles.

Then I really had to laugh when we were instructed to pick up our child and dance around in a circle to a song called "The Ping-Pong Samba," complete with little kicks like Elaine Benes doing her "full-body dry heave." The reason it was so funny is that Jarrah was sleepy-head deadweight in my arms, and I was staggering, literally staggering, because motherhood has made me throw my back out--just on the left side--and I can barely tie my shoes, let alone samba. I was so stiff and so achey when I woke up yesterday that I consulted David to see if he thought I had one of those "I'm old now" back conditions like a "slipped disc" or a "fused vertebrae" or one of those other horrific-sounding ailments that I used to hear grownups talking about when I was young and supple. David, being Australian and, well, DAVID, waved away my spinal deformities, suggesting I had some muscle strain from always lifting a 26-pound-baby on the same side. I suppose he's right, but...harumph. I feel wrecked.

Anyway, back to the class. Jarrah could not be persuaded to bang on drums or shake maracas for ANYTHING, and part of my amusement was recognizing at this point how much of this has to do with her bleariness after being awakened. At home, she happily beats on her drum and bangs her xylophone, but dammit, now she was TIRED and these people were all up in her FACE. ;) Between that and my crippled inability to lift my own baby, Jarrah and I were the star under-performers of the morning.

Towards the end, she started becoming more alert, but that just meant she wanted to wander around and point out each picture on the wall with great urgency, as if there was a danger of my not noticing them. In general, she is a very emphatic pointer: when the mouse puppet joined us, she didn't want to pet it, but she was insistent on pointing and proclaiming "Deh!" about 87 times. I told David it always seems like she fears dire consequences for all of us should I be so frivolous as to ignore her warnings: an unidentified stuffed animal is in our midst! Let your guard down at your peril!

On the subject of feeling like an ass: none of the other moms seemed affected by it. They dutifully kicked and clapped and chanted and "wee wee wee'ed" like they were born to do it. Maybe it's the novelty of this kind of behavior that makes me self-conscious. Check back with me in a few weeks: I might be putting the mouse in the armpit "house" with the best of them.

Jarrah isn't saying any words in English yet, but I have noticed some changes in her activities in the past week. She has started waving to people a lot, and can be persuaded to wave "bye-bye" if you ask her like five times. Her wave looks like a clam shell opening and closing. She received a pinwheel at Anton's birthday party a couple weeks ago, and occasionally I see her when she doesn't know I'm looking attempting to imitate us blowing on it. The way she blows involves pursing her lips like a grouper and then emitting a whisper that sounds like "Pooh." Feel free to try this at home; it's pretty freakin' hilarious. ;)

At the park, she's over her fear of grass, sand and transitional edges (as in grass/blacktop, blacktop/sand, etc.) and gallivants everywhere, frequently pitching over and hauling herself up. On a more alarming note, she is fearless about stairs and ladders, and heaves herself to dizzying heights from which she thinks nothing of hurling herself back down. At the park yesterday, we had no fewer than THREE incidents where she fell head-first from a piece of equipment in a split second of my inattention, one of which was a full face-plant resulting in an exfoliating mask of sand granules evenly coating her features. I was scrubbing sand out of her hairline well into the evening. She also threw herself down the slide before I could grab her, and not quite grasping the part about sitting, fell right onto her head at the bottom. Seriously, how do children live past the age of two? And, a little less urgently, how do moms restrain themselves from very loud epithets of a profane nature each time an incident occurs? I'm starting to fear that Jarrah's first word would invoke the 5-second delay on network television.

Okay, here's my last question: will you write to me? A lot of people e-mail me and call me and say "I read your blog religiously!" and I am so pleased to hear that! So let me hear from you! I do have my faithful posters (you know who you are--smooches to all of you!) but I want to know who else is lurking in the blogosphere. David suggested I tempt everyone with something irresistible like "your name will be entered in a drawing for an autographed photo of Jarrah if you post." How about that?

If you feel shy about just introducing yourself, you can answer this pressing question:

What should I do with Jarrah between 4-6 p.m. when she won't take a second nap (believe me, I've tried tossing her in her crib) but she spends all of that time wailing either to be picked up or put down and is basically undistractable when I wish I could either make dinner or have two minutes of peace?

Oh, and don't be afraid of the window that asks you to re-type the letters in order to post. I promise you're not agreeing to donate one of your kidneys or anything like that. It's just a feature David installed so that I can't be spammed. Yes, even blogs get posts like "Your blog is awesome! Would you like to buy some steroids?" Nothing bad will happen to you and I can feel secure that my innermost thoughts don't get responses like "Cool blog--and your life will get even better once you're free from erectile dysfunction."


Anonymous said...

Please send my free Jarrah picture soon, as I am the winner of said contest.

Sorry I have become so lax about posting. I do count myself as a faithful reader.

And, just what do you have against Elaine Benes' dancing skills? ;) (That was a great episode!)

What are you waiting for? Get my picture to me tout de suite!

Anonymous said...

I'll take my free Jarrah picture too! Who could resist such a cutie pie?

Having no kids yet... I too often wonder how kids survive past two. Your park descriptions are funny but terrify me when I have kids that age who want to explore everything.

4-6 PM... try a dancing contest with fun music or a Wiggles Video or Oy Baby DVD

Looking foward to reading more adventures of Jarrah Rose!

Anonymous said...

Be reassured Sam, as devoted grandparents we check every day to read the latest on our darling granddaughter.

Today I attended my regular coffee morning and showed off the photo of a beaming little girl in her pretty pink party dress and white tights. All my friends are enchanted by Jarrah.

John and I often laugh at your dramas and traumas and remember our own parenting experiences. Do you recall that I told you how difficult David was as a small boy (and of course we now regard him as perfect!!). I think you might have thought we lacked parenting skills when I described his temper tantrums at 2-3 years of age. Just you wait!!
This still lies ahead for you.

Keep up the correspondence --we eagerly await the next installment (plus photos).

Love J and J

Anonymous said...

I really would LOVE to see David have a temper tantrum! It seem so entirely out of character for him now!

Sage has figured out how to climb to the second step on our staircase, and THAT is making me crazy. I don't know how you endured three playground falls, Sam! Oh boy, I'm in for it, I guess.

So maybe you can pillage the kiddie dancing and singing hour for NIA material? Just a thought! ;-)

Miss you,
Miss J

Anonymous said...

Hello there,
We met thru resolve and I found your blog thru Amy's. Love reading about Jarrah's antics and your adjustments and honesty; particularly since Nathan is almost the same age.

When I need to make dinner or have a moment to myself in the 4-6pm range, i set nathan up in his highchair near me with either a snack or various toys. See-thru plastic containers with a small toy inside and a wooden spoon has been a good one lately. He either tries to get inside the container or bangs on it like a drum. I also have a drawer in the kitchen that is "his" i change out the toys in there to try to keep him interested in it.

I likely missed it, but I'm curious about the origin of Jarrah's name and the correct pronunciation. What are NIA classes?

Anonymous said...

Sammie, Your wish is my command -- here I am writing (once again) how much I enjoy my regular dose of the "Adventures." Wish I could drop by and visit! :) Liz

Anonymous said...

Caught! I'm one of those anonymous lurkers, well, perhaps cyber-stalker is a more accurate term. I'm the mom of a Kindergartener in Mary's class -- I think you met my daughter at Kindercamp last summer ;)-- and while following her blogs during her trip to China I went to the link for your blog. I look forward to your next blog like the next chapter of a good book, as I've admitted to Mary. We who lurk and read your blog feel like we know you, kind of what the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond must have gone through in public. I really enjoy your stories, insights, and interpretations of life with a little one. I used to have a life too (I was a lawyer complete with smart suits and a cool briefcase) before devoting myself to full-time pursuits involving sweatpants and toting bags of gear to places I never imagined I'd be going. Anyway, thanks for the great blogs, and, by the way, the 4-6 hour is for Chardonnay or Cabernet.

Jenny said...

I have been a lurker for sometime.
My friends who have children do movies or outside activites between 4-6. Also, lets get dinner ready or an errand. I guess the same thing you do during the day, just later.

I enjoy you blog and just think Jarrah is super cute.

Kim said...

I know you weren't talking to me, as I comment to darn much as it is, but heck if I am going to let someone else win the autographed photo!

...would write more, but someone just woke up from their nap... ah, motherhood!


Anonymous said...

Hi Sam!

Ugggh! 4 to 6pm are what we call the witching hours. Nothing seems to satisfy, and I am usually too exhausted to come up with anything creative. I like Cheri's idea about the chardonnay and cabernet!

As I am sitting here writing, it is 4:01pm: the fearful start of the witching hours. Anton is watching an Elmo video, and I am feeling completely inadequate as a mother because I am not engaging him in some creative, intellectual, and physically challenging activity.

Supernanny, take me away!!!!!

Love, Lisa :-)---faithful blog reader, and now chardonnay drinker :-D

Anonymous said...

We're here too! We still check at least twice a day for the latest installment. :)
Love seeing the pics and hearing about life with Jarrah!
Laura and Mike

Anonymous said...

Just reading your blog and comments (including my own random thoughts) and realized clarification might be in order. What I meant about what "the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond" must deal with is that one of these days I'm going to run into you at Trader Joe's (or similar) and say, "Oh, Sam and Jarrah, it's you . . ." And you'll have no idea who I am. :)

Mary said...

Hi Sam!!!

I love your blog and it always makes me laugh!! I love it for lots of reasons. I identify with so many of the things you write about (of course!) and I love that many of the stories include Joy. I bet someday they will have their own blogs about their crazy mothers!

Joy does that thing too, about pictures on the wall and especially about birds, she is a bird lunatic!!

Amy said...

I continue to be a faithful reader as well. My biggest challenge from 4-6 is just getting both girls fed (first solids then liquid - they still can't hold their own bottles yet so it is like me doing four feedings), bathed, changed, read to/played with (usually most of which must get done before Daddy gets home.) So I am not yet in a position to fit in anything but the essentials. But I will certainly be referring to the others' good ideas in a year or so.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam - somehow your blog has made it's way into my favorites list. I really don't remember exactly how it got there but I love reading it. I adopted my daughter from China three years ago and had a rough beginning very similar to yours. Not in the actual details but in terms of there being no "instant love". I would literally count the hours - and when close enough the minutes-till bedtime. For the longest time I felt like an actress caught in a never-ending very exhausting role. Every one of your posts has brought back memories for me. Today the memory is of those music classes. I think I only signed up so that I could have something to fill the time. "Round and round the garden goes the little mouse....." Is there any way to erase that stuff from your brain?

Alleen said...

I see the guilt trip worked!!! But, I have posted quite a few times before!! Just not lately... I don't have any parenting advice other than to keep saying it all sounds like stuff I've heard before so I don't think you're doing a thing wrong!!

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog, the excitements and feelings all come from every little things you described in great details in your blog, it gave me a whole new prospective. Thank you for sharing your journey in such a honest way. there are so many fun loving moments and so many cute pictures. I truly admire your free spirit, your courage and your talent.


Anonymous said...

Sam, et al... Darn. Busted. I guess i have to 'fess up to being one of your cyber-lurkers. (I bet there are lot's more of us.)
I am the mother of one of Mary's Kindies and found you through their blog when you were all off in China. I have to admit, I am absolutely hooked and have added you to my Favorites. I check and read it religiously and have discussed your blog with many others (who shall remain nameless) - and we all think this blog deserves to be an actual book. (Do I need to get a life?)

Here's how deeply I am hooked....My son is in a movie being released soon (The Pacific and Eddy) that is being edited or produced by someone that had done the 48 hour...mortician, pencil sharpener (I forget now) thingy. One night when I followed the other links on your blog, I saw that David had done it too. I was discussing this coincidence at a cocktail party with the director of The Pacific and Eddy's mom ....when a lady (who I don't know and who overheard my conversation) came up to me and asked if i was talking about Sam and David who were adopting a baby from China ,... Huh? It turns out that she is an infertility accupuncturist in Carmel Valley who sort of knew your story. She is probably a lurker too :-) but don't worry she had not treated you and did not discuss any of your personal details... I was however, gobsmacked at the coincidence and really have enjoyed the 6 degrees of separation theory even more since. My interest in your blog also comes from loving (your) writing, loving China, being a mom who sometimes wonders how I am gonna make it through all these face plants and tears, and being an adoptee too.

I will continue to read your blog, feel your pain and revel in your successes. I don't even know you, but I am happy that I can check in on you now and then... OK every night. I sure hope you don't mind.

Trish W.

Anonymous said...

Yup, the routine is awful, until you turn around and she's a young girl going out of the door.

Keep writing, please!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm come out of lurkdom, too. I found your blog through a friend and I keep reading it because I just love how darn honest you always seem to be. It's refreshing, but more importantly it's useful since my husband and I are just starting to think about international adoption.

I have no clue what you can do with Jarrah in the late afternoon, but I'll be very happy to read about it when you post :)

Christy from Virginia

Anonymous said...

Hi! I live in Chongqing (foreign teacher) and I stumbled across your blog. What an incredible journey! You have a beautiful daughter. Although I think of myself as being quite a few years away from seriously considering motherhood, it's still very moving to hear your story. Now I know what all of the foreign couples are doing buying all of the strollers in the nice supermarkets!
Do you know if the orphanages accept volunteers?