Its been a year…

Its been just over a year since I left the house.
When making life decisions, do you ask yourself “how will I look back on this decision in a year… in five?”

I asked myself that question in deciding to leave.

Well, I certainly have regrets about the details but overall, I am certainly glad I did it. No, I am not happy that my kids are hurting but I know in the end, it is better for everyone.

A year later and the big house is sold, going to closing soon. The new house for the ex and the girls is in contract and will close soon. My finances after that will improve significantly which represents the last important part of my transformation.

Divorce? Mediation? While certainly on the list to get done, life is better when I can actually afford my life.

I am obsessed with money you see. Not because I am greedy or want material things but because without it, we can’t survive. I can’t work on other things until its done. Its like the ‘security’ aspect of ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’. Once security is met you can work on other things on the path to ‘full-actualization’ (whatever that really means).

I often think I shouldn’t have worried so much about money. After all, what it really did was create more stress for me and for my ex. I am hoping that it at least reduce the amount of spending. At the end of the day, we had enough equity in the first house to pay off debt and get the new house with a reasonable mortgage. If I didn’t stress about money, would the new house be possible? Who knows.

Anyway… things are slowly getting better and I am hopeful. That in itself is reason to celebrate.

Be well.

You Are NOT Your Job…

Damn… I wish that were true.

Let me back up.
I am (mosty)proud of ¬†what I have done professionally in my career. Back in June I was ‘downsized’ out of my job at a decent sized company. Not for what I had done, it was ‘just an unfortunate circumstance’ as a division I was working on was dissolved. I got a package that enabled me to survive while I got a job.

I certainly went crazy looking for a new gig and found one 10 weeks after. The only problem is that it was certainly a step or two lower than what I was doing. The interesting part is that it is essentially the same money (which is why I took it).

I figured that I would work my ass off and impress people in getting things done and I would quickly get promoted… Good idea? maybe in theory.

My new employer moves painfully slow. I am not even sure they are moving forward. Do you remember that scene from Risky Business when Tom Cruise is stilling in his high school classroom waiting for it to end and the second hand on the clock actually moved backwards? That’s how it seems sometimes.

The problem is that I keep getting assigned these crazy archaic spreadsheets to ‘update’ that not only will never be really looked at but can be easily obtained though the web tools we pay for. In addition, as I have suggestions on how to improve things that are ‘industry best practices’ or I find things that prove one of our agencies are ripping us off, nothing happens.

These things destroy me… apparently. I am so incapacitated sometimes I can’t focus. I have to walk away (as proof, I am writing this post on my lunch break because I just can’t deal).

But your not supposed to be your job? I LOVE what I do… Im a 24/7 guy and I don’t call it work (most of the time). The problem is that I am undervalued and when I try to show my value I get shot down. When I try to bring value, its ignored.

I need to be valued… thats for me.

I need to be valued… because I also need to get promoted and make more money… thats for myself and my kids

I should just disconnect. Do what I am told and get paid while looking for something else. Like someone told me… do your job and keep your head down.

I do it well sometimes but sometimes, like right now? I really just want to walk.
I can’t. I won’t. It just really sucks.

I feel like shit doing these meaningless tasks assigned by my bosses boss who has no idea what ‘digital’ is and has no interest in doing things different in order to be better. He is just content with doing things they way they did it last year. Does that work for anyone?

I am not my work… I am not my job. I gotta keep saying some sort of stupid mantra like that so I stay sane. We both know that is not going to work.

I gotta focus on doing my job, looking for something better, and consulting in the meantime. Know anyone that needs a ‘experienced results driven digital marketer’? lol.

Time to go… gotta go update my resume. ūüôā

4-4-14-Update… For the most part, I am numb to the BS that happens at work. I’m still looking for a new opportunity and actually have 2 phone interviews next week. The real question is, this keeps happening to me or at least it seems that way. Is it me? Is it the type of work environment I choose? Maybe corporate america is not what I need? Maybe I always end up being the ‘agent of change’ and maybe I just need to be with people with a similar skill set so I can stop fighting and get to the next level instead…. if I am not too late.

 

 

Fast and Furious – How His Vocabulary Grows

After more than a year and a half of over-analyzing and agonizing over James’ reluctance to speak, I quickly learned that James had been studying language very carefully for quite some time. When he finally broke his silence it became quite apparent that he was a clever wordsmith, carefully stringing together groups of words to form entire sentences; and he was funny.

“James, did you do that on purpose?” I would ask.

“No,” he would reply, “I did it by my stink.”

“Um, what?”

“By my stink. I did not mean it. By my stink.”

“By your stink? What does that mean, James?”

“It stinks I did it wrong on accident.”

Can’t argue with that reasoning. I also couldn’t correct him because it was ridiculously cute.

Three-year-old James used to love to watch Monster Truck racing on television with his dad. One of his favorite trucks was named Maximum Destruction. James preferred to call him “Maxi-Home Destruction.”

“Why is he called Maxi-Home Destruction, James?” I would ask.

“He would crush our home if he tried to park in the driveway.”

Fair enough.

James is also quite competitive.

One day I was gardening in the back yard and my husband was testing the new sprinkler system he had just installed. Just as the water stream shut off I looked up from pulling weeds to see James’ bare bottom across the yard.

Upon closer inspection I noticed that James had pulled down his pants and was peeing into my herb garden, so I shouted, “What are you doing, James?”

James shouted back, “I’m winning!”

“Winning what?” I asked.

“The sprinkler peed on me so I am peeing back and I am winning!”

When I stopped laughing I instructed my husband to run the sprinklers in the herb garden for a few extra minutes that evening.

Journal entry: Three year olds are a constant source of entertainment. James “sprinkled” in the garden today to teach the sprinkler a lesson. You can’t make this stuff up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not an illusion…

I have a marriage therapist. I see him once a week. He tells me I’m challenging, in a good way somehow.

I perceverate on the fact that paying the bills is my responsibility. I also need to advance at work to make more money. Ultimately most of who I am are tied to my job and my financial responsibilities

He thinks I need to look at it differently. While I understand why, I don’t get how that is going to change reality. I need to pay the bills. I need to make more money. How does my perspective change that?

If my kids can’t eat… If I can’t pay the mortgage… Am I supposed to blow that off? How is that acceptable?

Shit, gotta go… Gotta work

The Last One To Know…

Its from a song… “The Last One To Know…. Is The Last One To Cry…”
What’s missing is what should be obvious… she might be crying now but I did plenty of crying (ok im not really the crying type though I get emotional) for YEARS.

Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely wish she was not crying but honestly? Its her turn, I had mine. ¬†Denial is a powerful thing and she has been living it for years… let me explain.

Let me use another song quote to start off… this one is from (slightly embarrassed) the country singer Tanya Tucker.
“If it don’t come easy, you gotta let it go”.

My wife and I spent most of our relationship waiting for something to happen. When that event happened, ‘we’ would be better.

‘Once the semester is over, we will be better’

‘Once the sale of the house closes, we will be better’

‘When I get less stressful job, we will be better’

It does not work like that… yes, things would be better because there is less stress but there is always going to be stress. If you are not getting along NOW and it is a consist thing? talk to Tanya Tucker.

DRAFT

35 More Minutes…

That’s how long I have before I leave to see the kids. They are both in a play at school tonight and I asked my ‘x’ if I could come over early to spend some time with them. Things are different lately/now. The ‘x’ wants to keep her distance as she realizes that I am not coming back. She is looking to protect herself and I understand… and feel bad.

What little time I have with the kids is ¬†a bit stressed. Though they have had daily 30 minute time limits on their various Apple devices, I think that’s out the window cause I can’t get them away from them. Its hard to talk to them, its hard to get quality time. I try to get these devices from them without looking like the bad guy… its a skill I am working on. For now I look to distract them with whatever activity I can engage them with.

So I sit here waiting for what is now 30 minutes before I leave. I am stressed out about seeing them. I immediately get stressed when I see a call or text from them. ¬†I am not sure why. I want to see them, they want to see me. My 10 year old is coming over for a slumber party tomorrow night, my younger one wants to stay home with mom. That’s ok, it will get better in time.

Logically I understand. This is still new, they are upset and frustrated that I am not in the house anymore and they want things back to the way they were. Luckily (sarcasm) this is not a logical thing, its emotional. Its gonna take time…. just got to keep my eye on the ball… hopefully time heals.

15 minutes left and I just have to put on a energetic, positive vibe and get going.

Wish me luck. It might be a long night.

It’s a Fight

Maybe it’s not a fight but everyday at home (before I left) was a struggle to be happy instead of depressed.

I was walking in the mall today (so not me) and walked by this couple. As I approached, though I only glanced, I could actually feel the tension. As I got to the closest point as I passed them he lashed out at her. Of course it was something petty to me and even petty to him (im guessing) but the tension and aggrevation is what was all too familiar.

It was, I am happy to say, a reminder of what was… What used to be me. Don’t get me wrong, I almost never yelled and certainly not at my wife or in public but I have a good idea of those feelings.

Leaving my house is a process, ups and down, mostly downs as it relates to my kids and its really hard on many levels. That couple in the mall reminded me about why the process is necessary.

While I wish they didn’t have it, I thank them for the reminder. Life is too short, fight the fights that are worth fighting. When you can’t fix it, despite best efforts… consider real change.

I left May 28th. It’s been just over two months now.

Sweet Relief – After 27 Months of Waiting, James Speaks

I have daydreamed about this moment since the very first time I heard James shriek. Mere moments out of the womb and I knew this child had an amazing set of lungs! Ear-piecing cries filled the operating room. He was whisked away to get cleaned up, weighed and measured and rated on the apgar score. All the while he continued to screech I kept thinking, “I am going to have my hands full with this one!”

The moment the nurse put that tiny little swaddled baby boy on my chest, I was in love and that was the moment I had waited 9 months to enjoy. Now, was the beginning of a new waiting game; waiting for all his “firsts.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every moment of motherhood with my newborn (with the exception of some very tiresome sleepless nights). Becoming James’ mom was the most fulfilling experience of my life. I did not want to rush through all the amazing milestones, but the one thing I knew I wanted more than anything was to hear this sweet, handsome, adorable baby boy call me, “Mom.” I knew his first words were many, many months away, but I anticipated them with an absurd expectation that I would somehow feel “complete” or “fulfilled” upon hearing him call me “Mom.”

I dreamed about it. I needed it. I yearned for it. I have my theories as to why it was so important to me, but I believe I felt the need to replace something precious that was lost. When I was 10 weeks pregnant, I lost my mother suddenly and unexpectedly to a heart attack. That horrible, black day is etched into my memory. It was the last time I would speak to my mom. The last time I would get a chance to say “I love you” to a remarkable woman, a role model and a best friend. I am grateful that I have no regrets about my relationship with my mom. Okay, one regret – I wish I had more time with her to hear her laugh, to knowingly wink at inside jokes, to enjoy her sharp witted humor, to taste her home cooked meals made with love. I wish I could go back in time and then slow down the hands of time and sit once again at her dining room table surrounded by friends and family who gathered to be near her and feel her warmth and enjoy her generosity. I wish I had just a few more moments to tell her how much I appreciate everything she did for me, and that all she silently sacrificed did not go unnoticed.

That dark day was supposed to be a day of joy and celebration and hope. I was scheduled for my first sonogram and Mom was going to join me to see the very first glimpse of her newest grandchild. She was going to be delighted by the sound of the heartbeat of my tiny little miracle. We were going to share this amazing experience together. Sadly, we never made it to that appointment. Instead I stood beside a gurney in a hospital and said my final goodbye. I whispered, “I love you Mom,” as I held her lifeless hand. I put Mom’s hand on my belly and promised that I would pass on her traditions to my unborn child. I promised that I would show this child as much love as Mom had shown me and to help set a good example with kindness, empathy and generosity.

That was a huge promise to make. My mom had the most amazing spirit and zest for life. She gave me guidance when I needed it and encouraged me to spread my wings. She often stood by silently and allowed me to fail, teaching me that I needed to pick myself up and try again. She nursed my wounds and soothed my broken heart more times than I care to remember. She was my greatest cheerleader and my voice of reason when I needed a reality check.

I stood there in that cold, lonely hospital room clutching her hand and understanding that I would spend the rest of my life trying to make her proud. I understood that I would make mistakes. I understood that I would falter. Most of all, I understood that I would teach my child to take chances and reach for things and I would be there to help pick him or her up. I understood that the one thing Mom would want for me and for my child would be for each of us to embrace life and love without regret.

And, so 27 months had passed since James came into this world, kicking and screaming and leaving his indelible footprints on my heart. Twenty-seven excruciatingly long months of agonizing, waiting to hear his first word. Okay, so I only agonized over his lack of speech for the last 18 months or so, but you get it.

It was a warm July afternoon and James and I were playing in his sandbox. My husband was removing the “baby” swing from the play set in the backyard, replacing it with a “big boy” swing for James and his little friends. The dog was resting in a shady spot near my husband.

Let me set the scene: sickeningly sweet suburban back yard snapshot – Mom, Dad, Baby and adorable black dog. It was the kind of afternoon that makes me appreciate our idyllic little life. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. The roses were blooming. The air was warm and dry with a gentle breeze. It was the kind of moment you wish you had on video. If I could go back and do one thing differently about James’ early years, it would be to have a video camera trained on him 24/7 to capture the magic, the humor and sweet moments of joy that only babies can create. But, I digress. This is about James’ first word.

After all the worry, all the guessing, all the research into what was “wrong” with James and why he didn’t speak, at long last, he opened his mouth and uttered his very first words.

“Dada, more juice.”

James stood in front of my husband, holding up a red plastic cup.

I stopped raking the sand in the sandbox and looked up at my husband. My husband stopped twisting the bolt on the swing set and looked at me. In my memory, even the dog looked up in amazement, though I am sure this did not happen.

The world seemed to stop at that very moment. Everything went completely silent and still and we both turned to stare at James in disbelief. Neither one of us knew what to do or how to respond so we stood there, mouths hanging open and waited for James to do something.

After a few short moments James did do something. He repeated, “Dada, more juice?”

This time is was a question, as into ask, “Dada, did you hear me?”

Granted his pronunciation wasn’t perfect. He actually said, “Dada, mo zhoos,” but you get the idea.

I raised my eyebrows and looked at my husband who was just as bewildered as I.

After a few more silent moments my husband reached out to take the cup.

“Do you want me to get you more juice, Buddy?” my husband asked.

“Yesh,” was James’ reply.

I sat there next to the sandbox and started crying. My body heaved with uncontrollable sobs, giant salty tears streaked down my cheeks. I was elated. I was proud. I was relieved.

My husband took the cup from James and started to make his way across the yard toward the house. Smiling and virtually skipping as he glanced over his shoulder at me, he gave me a thumbs up.

James simply walked back to the sand box and picked up a dump truck.

I sat there, staring at him, wondering if he understood what just happened. I wondered what to do. Should I ask him to repeat himself? Should I ignore it? Should I jump up and grab him, squeeze him and tell him how proud I am that he spoke? I opted for no reaction at all, worried that making a big deal about it would cause James to go silent again.

After a few moments of silence, James looked up from the dump truck and sand. I stared at his beautiful little face and looked into his gorgeous eyes. He has my mom’s eyes; their grey-green irises are mesmerizing and beautiful. James looked back at me and handed me the dump truck. He took his tiny little hand and patted the tears on my cheek. He smiled. I smiled. Did he understand why I was crying? James patted the dump truck and then patted the sand, instructing me to play. James and I played side by side in silence.

My husband returned a few minutes later and handed James the cup full of juice.

“Here you go, Buddy.”

James eagerly grabbed the cup and took a long sip.

“Ahhhh. Zhoos,” he said and handed the cup back to my husband.

At long last I was able to relax just a little. The weight was lifted off my shoulders and the worry was alleviated – at least temporarily. Any parent can relate to the constant barrage of things to worry about, especially when you are a new parent. Journal Entry: Okay, so it was ‘Dada’ but it was so much more than that. It was a complete sentence. It was James showing us that he understands, that he is brilliant and that he is amazing. And, he has the cutest little voice! Fingers crossed that the silence is now broken permanently.

And when did James finally say, “mama?”

The following evening we were cuddling on the floor in James’ room for our nightly ritual of bedtime stories. After reading our beloved “Chugga Chugga Choo Choo,” as I closed the book James tapped my hand and said, “Mom.”

He turned to look at my face and I am sure I was grinning from ear to ear, then he stroked my cheek and repeated, “Mom.” He then nonchalantly got up and retrieved “Good Night, Moon” from his bookshelf.

James handed me the book, sat upon my lap and eagerly opened the cover.

“Read,” he instructed.

I was too choked up to read aloud so I simply hugged him. I squeezed him and kissed the back of his neck and he giggled. ¬†I tickled him and made him wriggle and laugh uncontrollably until I could regain my composure. After I calmed down, I read “Good Night, Moon” while James turned the pages in his usual fashion. I gave him a huge hug and lifted him up and over the rail placing him into the crib. He touched my face gently and again said, “Mom.” This time I wept openly and stroked his cheek and said, “Mommy loves you, James. Good night.”

I kissed him on his cheek and he giggled then laid himself down and softly repeated “Mom, mom, mom,” before pushing the button on his musical night light.

I closed his bedroom door and melted into a heap of joyful tears. I glanced at the portrait of my mom and smiled. I knew she would adore this child. I was sad for all the love James was missing out on because of Mom’s absence. Oh, how she would have spoiled this child. Journal Entry: Tonight I heard the sweetest voice say the sweetest word I have ever heard. James called me “Mom.” I am bursting with pride and also heartbroken because I want to call Mom to tell her that her grandson is a genius.¬†

 

 

Yearning for Yellow

The mastery of the overreaction – this is a skill that toddlers seem to spend countless hours honing. Their repetitive exercise seems to be designed for one purpose alone: to make grown ups miserable. What is this obsessive need to control the tiniest details? Anyone who has ever had to deal with a screaming, ranting, crying, inconsolable, unreasonable toddler understands my pain.

If you have ever secretly opened and then carefully resealed a bag of M&Ms to make sure that the number of green M&Ms does not outnumber the yellow M&Ms, you understand my pain. If you have ever found yourself “pasting” an Oreo back together to avoid the inevitable temper tantrum, you understand my pain. Have you ever tried to reason with a little one who will not accept the fact that sometimes the raisins that pour forth from the tiny red box are not all uniform in size? If so, you understand my pain.

I think I noticed James’ preference for yellow when he was a toddler and he sought out the yellow hula hoop at tumbling class or insisted that he receive the yellow smiley sticker at the pediatrician’s office. I am not quite sure when his attachment to all things yellow became an obsession. I tend to think that I helped feed into his enthusiasm by indulging him whenever possible. At the toy store, if he wanted the yellow kickball, I would fish through that giant basket of balls relentlessly until I got the yellow one and proudly handed it to James.

I now wonder if feeding him his meals on the yellow Snoopy plate had something to do with his obsessive need to have everything yellow. I allowed a 2-year-old James to pick the paint color for his play room. He chose a bright yellow Disney color called “Get Goofy.” Was James predisposed to like yellow, or did he learn to like it because I unwittingly encouraged him?

When James was a toddler I tended to dress him in bright colors intentionally, especially if we were going to a crowded public place. James’ closet was full of orange and day-glo yellow and lime green shirts and jackets. I fretted over the idea that if we were to get separated I could see him from a distance, even in a large crowd. Did this have any bearing on the obsession?

Yellow became a problem for us as a still non-verbal James started attending classes, participating in sports and getting invited to birthday parties. At soccer tots, if James was not given a yellow jersey, he refused to play. He would sit in the middle of the field, arms crossed and pouting. He would not move, even as the other children were tripping over him and kicking him and aiming the ball at him. At gymnastics class if he was not instructed to stand on the yellow dot, he would attempt to obtain a yellow dot by pushing another child off it. When the dental hygienist would apologize for not having a yellow toothbrush, James would throw the green one back in the drawer and shake his head, opting for no toothbrush at all if yellow was not an option. If birthday party goodie bags came in rainbow colors, he needed to have the yellow one. If I total up the amount of time I spent bartering with other children and parents to ensure that James would have the yellow (insert literally any object here) at the camp, party, class, etc. I have probably lost 6 months of my life.

The yellow obsession became a major problem one winter when James refused to put on his lime-green ski jacket. Every morning I would struggle to get him into the jacket as he ran away. James would show me the sign for yellow and shake his head, saying “no, no no.” He would wait until I strapped him into the car seat to try to wriggle out of the jacket. At preschool on afternoon, he hid the jacket beneath the teacher’s coat on the rack. When we finally discovered the jacket, James realized he would need to take drastic measures. He threw the coat in the garbage later that week. ¬†Once he took it off on the playground and attempted to bury it beneath the wood chips.

After weeks of wrestling every time we prepared to leave the house, James came up with his own solution. He would anticipate our departure time and go into his room, take the yellow rain slicker off the hook on the wall and slip into it before I could attack him with the lime green jacket.

I took to haggling with him and bartering with him to get the yellow rain slicker off and the lime green jacket on and zipped.

“James, if you put this jacket on now, after work tonight we can go to the mall and look for a yellow jacket in your size.” He looked at me with utter confusion then shook his head “no.”

“James, if you put this jacket on now, you can have an all-yellow dinner this evening. Wax beans, yellow rice and lemon chicken.” He looked at me with disdain and shook his head “no.”

“James, if you put this jacket on now, Saturday we can take a trip to the toy store for a Thomas the Tank engine car.” This momentarily got his attention, then he came to his senses and shook his head “no.”

After begging and pleading and giving him a few minutes to calm down eventually, although reluctantly and tearfully, James would allow me to remove the rain slicker and slip him into the lime green jacket. Some days were easier than others. Some days he just flat out refused to put it on, signing “yellow” and running away. These mornings I would warp him as best as I could in a yellow fleece blanket and strap him into the car seat.

I exhausted every possible avenue to locate a yellow jacket. Try as I might, I could not find a yellow winter jacket in his size or even a size or two larger anywhere. I checked ebay, amazon, and every possible search engine imaginable to track down a yellow winter coat. I was getting desperate. I considered having a seamstress make a yellow ski jacket for us. I started a new search for the water-repellant fabric I would need in a bright, cheerful shade of yellow. No one had this fabric either. In desperation, I combed through the girls department of every store, hoping I could find yellow and somehow remove the feminine characteristics of the coat should I actually find one. I had no luck.

During my travels, if I drove by a discount department store I felt the need to stop in and browse through the racks in search of this elusive yellow winter coat. I found myself browsing at high-end boutiques. These shops certainly would not have an item I could afford, but if it meant finding a coat, I was willing to sell some blood or skip some meals to pay for it. I combed through local thrift stores, though I bristled at the idea of giving my son a stranger’s worn jacket. I had my own obsessive problems – I worried about bed bugs and countless other “cooties” that may be lurking in cast-off clothing and fabric items.

One particularly harried morning, James and I managed to come up with a compromise. I promised James that he could wear the yellow rain slicker if he agreed to wear a fleece-lined hoodie beneath it. It did not matter that the fleece-lined hoodie was orange. James did not fight me at all, just as long as the yellow slicker covered it up. He did not even complain when the sleeves got caught up in the lining and bunched up inside the sleeves of the slicker. He was okay as long as the yellow slicker was on and snapped. It was a bit snug and looked uncomfortable, but he seemed content.

Then by chance one very brisk December day, I crammed James into the slicker/hoodie combo and trekked over to my friend Dee’s house for lunch. Dee had been holding onto a large bag of ¬†hand-me-down clothing that she had earmarked for James. Dee’s son is 2 years older than James and they are often the recipients of extravagant gifts as Dee’s employer also employs some very affluent physicians. Frequently she has bags of unworn high-end clothing as a result of the generous nature of her work associates. After lunch, I rummaged through the bag excitedly discovering brand new clothing with the tags still attached while Dee and I chatted and the boys happily played with cars and blocks.

As I reached into the bottom of the bag to pull out what I thought may be a small blue sleeping bag, I squealed with delight! Could it be true? Could it be so? I had in my hot little hands one blue and yellow Nike winter jacket! No, not just any jacket, a reversible blue and yellow winter jacket with the tags still attached – size 3T! One side was navy blue with a bright yellow stripe. The reverse was yellow with a blue stripe. Jackpot!

James looked over at us to see what all the commotion was about. His face lit up when he saw the jacket. He dropped the blocks he had been playing with and made a beeline for the jacket. James placed his hand on his chest and then on the jacket. He was signing “mine.”

Excitedly he grabbed the jacket from my hands and hugged it to his chest. He bounced up and down and hugged the jacket.

“James, would you like to try it on?” I asked.

I gently took the coat from him and helped him pull his arms into the sleeves then zipped it up. His face was priceless. He kept looking at the jacket then hugging himself. At long last, we had found the elusive yellow jacket. Thank you, Nike! Thank you, Dee!

James refused to take that jacket off the rest of the day. I managed to get him out of it long enough for dinner and then again for bath time. I had to agree to let him take it to bed with him that night. I managed to slip it out of the crib while he slept, afraid he’d get too hot or scratch his face on the zipper or Velcro closure.

I worried that the new obsession would be wearing this jacket 24 hours a day, but thankfully, that concern did not come to fruition. Better still, no more arguments about the jacket. Each morning he  put it on before we headed out the door. Occasionally I caught him looking at himself in the bathroom mirror wearing his beloved yellow jacket. He would smile and hug himself, then trot out to the foyer and wait for me to take him to the car happily wearing his yellow jacket.

When James finally began to speak, he once asked me my favorite color which I happily shared with him. As most toddlers are inclined to do, “why?” James asked. ¬†I gave him my answer and he seemed satisfied, so I asked his favorite color, though I already knew the answer.

“Yellow, Silly.” He smiled.

“Why?” I asked and I was genuinely curious.

“Because it is so happy. So very, very happy. The happy bees are yellow. The happy face is yellow. ¬†Everything happy is yellow.”

Journal entry: So glad to know my boy chooses to be happy. Happy yellow. Smiley face yellow. Happy bees yellow. Happy James. Happy Mom. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smarty Pants

If there was a toddler equivalent to an “eye-roll” 2-year-old James would be the master of this mannerism.

Because James was basically non-verbal until well after his second birthday, he devised other ways to communicate with the world.  His favorite game, one which he invented, required the undivided attention of a second participant. James would hold up an object, or point to an object and then wait for eye contact with the second party to be certain they understood he was asking a question.

For instance James would pick up a red ball and then hold it up for me to observe. I would then have to use descriptive words to talk about the ball until James got the answer for which he was searching. Ordinarily the guessing game took just moments per object and would play out like this:

“James, that is a red ball you are holding. The ball is plastic and its shape is spherical. It is a sphere. That is a ball from your ball pit and it is not heavy. It is light and fits nicely in the palm of your hand.”

James would then grab another ball from the ball pit and hold it up for me.

“James, that is a yellow ball you are holding. The ball is plastic and its shape is spherical. It is a sphere.¬†That is a ball from your ball pit and it is not heavy. It is light and fits nicely in the palm of your hand.”

Most of the time when I hit on the description James was looking for, he would simply walk away, seemingly satisfied. We played this game numerous times a day and James would always initiate the interaction.

One day we were at “Mommy and Me” and during free play I was engrossed in conversation with another mom, so I was a bit distracted. James walked over with something in his hand and held it up for me.

“James, I can’t see what’s in your hand, Honey. Can you show me?”

James responded by opening his fist and balancing a pastel piece of chalk on his palm.

“Oh, that’s chalk, Sweetie.”

James stood there holding the chalk and waited for more descriptors.

“Pink chalk, James. The color is pink.”

Still he stood there.

“The chalk is a cylinder James. The shape is cylindrical. The chalk is used to write or draw on the chalkboard. ¬†A teacher uses chalk to write lessons on the board for her students.”

Still he stood there.

“Chalk can be used on paper to draw. Artists sometimes use chalk to make beautiful pictures. You can use it on the sidewalk to draw hopscotch boards and make art on the driveway.”

Still he stood there.

“James, Sweetie, I am out of words and ways to describe that chalk to you.”

James looked at the chalk. He switched it from hand to hand and held it up for me to take another look.

“James, that chalk is pink and it appears to be broken. The cylinder is imperfect because the edge is broken at an angle.”

James sighed. He held the chalk up higher, as if to give me a better view of what I was so obviously missing.

Trying to hide my frustration I kneeled down to him and took the chalk from his hand gently. I then stood up and walked over to the chalkboard. James followed. I showed James how the chalk could be used. I then handed it back to him and walked away so I could resume my conversation with my friend.

A few moments later James was back. He held up the piece of chalk again.

This time my frustration was clearly evident.

“I am so sorry, Buddy. I honestly don’t know what word you are looking for because I am out of ideas.”

James held up his right hand and I said, “You are holding pink chalk in your hand.”

At that moment James held up his left hand. He was holding a second piece of chalk.

“James, that is also pink chalk.”

James looked at both pieces of chalk carefully then held up both hands with a piece of chalk balanced in each palm. That is when I realized my mistake.

“Oh, yes, Honey. This is pink chalk,” I said as I pointed to the chalk in James’ left hand. “And this is lavender chalk,” I said as I pointed to the chalk in his right hand. “You’re right James. The first one was lavender or purple and this one is pink. My mistake.”

And with that, James gave me a satisfied nod, then turned and walked away.

I looked at my friend Michelle and said, “I think James just called me dense.”

Michelle laughed and said, “I think you’re right.”

This was the first, but certainly not that last time James would give me his toddler version of rolling his eyes at my ineptness.

Journal entry: The non-verbal two-year-old called me “stupid” today. Thank you James for the lesson in humility.

 

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