Monday, June 8, 2009

Polar Opposites

My son took a shower this evening.

Frankly, he didn't need one; he had a bath less than 24 hours ago. He also lacked that briny smell that boys acquire from playing outside in the muggy Southern heat. To you, I'm sure it seems like an unremarkable event to blog about. Except my son is four-and-a-half, and he insisted on taking a shower. He pleaded as though he was asking to stay up past bedtime ; "Please may I take a shower Mommy? PleasePleasePleasePleasePLEEEEEZE!?!?!!?!"

The reason he wanted to take a shower? Well, his sister was taking one. Yet another item to check off my son's list of "Things To Do That The Big Kids Do."

So I explained to him how to enter a shower when it's on (so water doesn't go everywhere) and gave him liquid soap so he could wash himself. It was then that a knot caught in my chest as I placed the bottle within his reach, because the irony was not lost on me that what I was handing him was Baby Wash.

My son wants to grow up so fast. Too fast. And I'm not saying this just because he's my youngest, though I do notice that as he races past every kid-milestone, I realize it's one I won't see again until I'm blessed with grandchildren.

Yes, there may be a few more baths here and there, but I know my son. This phase is almost over. As I listen to the sound of two showers running simultaneously, I start to make a mental inventory of items that won't be needed by the end of the summer: fizzy bath color tablets, bubble bath, tub toys. I'm already mourning the loss. One more innocent piece of childhood gone...

Now don't get me wrong. I in no way miss the baby/toddler stages. As much as I can appreciate the wonder of those years, I would not trade a day of yesterday for today. It just saddens me that my son is in such a hurry to grow up. Slow down; this is not supposed to be a race.

I'm acutely aware of how fast this time passes because my daughter, who in my mind I gave birth to merely a handful of years ago, will be a teenager in a few months. Where the heck did that time go? And, excuse me, how did I get old enough to have one of those?

Although I have a son who wants to be a teenager, I have an almost thirteen-year-old daughter who, ironically, is in no hurry to grow up! And let me tell you, when you have a daughter whose physical developmental hormones have been Super-Sized, it is a blessing indeed!

From the beginning, she's never been in a hurry to grow up. Sometimes she's even resisted; as if she already knew what she was about to lose. I'm not sure why, but she's always been one to do things her own way; never concerned about conforming. I have a theory on why she's not in a hurry to cross the finish line in the race to adulthood; she has an innate understanding of adult life. My husband and I say she was born an old soul. Even in her preschool years, she grasped matters of life with which many adults I know still grapple. It's as though she has a crystal ball and can see mortgages and mammograms in her future. Like she's saying, "No thanks, I'll walk. Let the bullet-train pass."

So having been given these two totally different children, I sometimes can sit back and appreciate their differences, as well as the privilege of getting to parent two opposite people. And of course I have to smile. Because the one that's in a hurry to grow up, adamantly requesting styling-gel before his hair dries, is wearing Cars jammies and Spider-Man slippers, while the other that's in no hurry, having the shape of a college co-ed and verbally cursing her endowments, wants to hang out with her mom, not chat online with her BFF's or obsess about boys.

Tortoise and Hare. Who'll cross first? I just hope they both win.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Gotta Go Potty

Just a few quick errands to run before I pick up my daughter from school. Hit the grocery store, then get gas, because I won't make it to her school without a fill-up. Easy enough, right? Well, these stops are not solo endeavors. I have my son in tow, the boy I affectionately call "The Human Speed Bump." We maneuver through the store as quickly as possible, all thanks to the micro-cart at the store that glides across those well-buffed floors like a scooter. He won't sit in a full-size cart, because "that is for babies," but he'll hold onto the front of the micro-cart, with me pushing from behind. That way, Mommy can make it a game of going really fast, pretending we're going to crash into end-cap displays, all the while thinking, "Whew, were FINALLY making good time in the grocery store!" Even the candy aisle was no match for my swift-moving Chariot of Fire!

Finally, we're at the checkout aisle, making good time. My son and I make a game out of who can win the Check Out Game; us or the clerk. By the way, we won by getting the groceries on the counter faster than she could scan. Oh the pride. My son is back on the Chariot, groceries ready to quickly load into the back of the van, when...

"Mommy, I gotta go potty."
"What? No you don't. Do you Really?"
"What do you have to do? We gotta pick up your sister..."
"I hafta go pee."

Cool. That's an easy one. Except as we approach the bathrooms, I realize that I've already paid for my groceries, and I'm not comfortable leaving a cart (albeit micro) outside unattended.

Split-second mommy-decision time. I park our cart outside the restroom area. I bend down to make eye contact and say to my son, "You remember the urinal rules that you use with Daddy?"
"You never touch them," my son says emphatically. (We have had previous discussions about NOT touching the "round circle" in the urinal. Another post for another day.)
"That's really good remembering!" Whew, so proud, because I just KNOW he REALLY wants to pick that sucker up... "So I want you to go in there, pee in the urinal just like you do when you're with dad, then come right out, 'cuz we gotta go get your sister, and I have Squirt."

"Squirt" is our family's word for anti-bacterial lotion. Our daughter came up with that term years ago. So anyway, for those of you who don't know me, I'm just shy of being a complete neurotic germophobe. Touch a public door handle. Squirt. Handle a menu. Squirt. Use a public restroom. SQUIRT!!!!

Back to the conversation:
"Okay, Mommy." And I watch my young 4-year-old son trod off into the "Mens" Room. Okay, this is my first time letting him go alone into a public restroom, so naturally all kinds of mommythoughts are coursing through my brain.

So I wait.

Check watch.

Check clock on wall.

Count to sixty.

Okay, by now my son should have been able to squeeze out whatever his small little bladder can hold, yet, he's still a no-show. Again, mommythoughts.....

I engage the closest male store employee and say, "Would you mind going in there and telling the four-year-old boy that his mom is waiting for him?"

I get eye-contact, but also a sideways grin, because after I ask that, I realize he was already heading in there to take care of his own personal business.

So I wait.

And wait.

Okay, now it's approximately 200 Mississippi's, and neither my son nor the store employee have emerged.

Again, mommythoughts, but now mostly leaning toward, well, there must me a problem....

Finally, the store employee shows up, again with the sideways grin, but this time, not making eye contact...

"Everything's okay now. He was trying to....well....he said he had to poop, but he was sitting in the urinal. I picked him up and put him where he should be, so he should be okay now."

I swear I did not realize this could actually happen, but I honestly experienced temporary blindness. A fog encompassed me; I chuckled. I apologized. I overted my eyes in shame. What was I thinking sending a 4-year-old into the Men's Room alone. He said he had to PEE! Why is this so difficult?

After I let all this register, I scanned the store for the wonderfully-helpful employee. I already said "Thank You" and "I'm So Sorry" I don't know how many times, because obviously, I was experiencing deafness, too. Where did this kind gentleman go? Why is my son STILL in the Men's Room 10 minutes later? I can't go in....

Now I start to beat myself up as a parent. Negative self-talk, "What were you thinking allowing him to go in there alone?" "Do you really value $30 of groceries over the well-being of your son?"

Then the fog lifts. I see said helpful employee re-emerge from the Men's Room. In my parental shame, I did not notice that this kind gentleman went back inside to make sure my sweet boy, uhhh...completed the transaction with efficiency.

"He's almost done. He's washing his hands now."


I keep an eagle-eye on the door. We are SO late now picking up my daughter.

I watch as the door gently tugs open, little by little, until my son emerges from the Men's Room.

His hands are wet, smelling faintly
of soap, so I choke my germaphobe instinct to baptize him in Purell, smile, and say,

"Let's go get your sister!"