Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Somedays you are up, somedays you are in a hell of your own making

Dear Sava,

We're experiencing an interesting salty-sweet time this summer. This is a little bit of a rant because I'm just about out of patience.

Since losing my job at Rosetta Stone, I've been home taking care of you and trying to give you the best summer of your life. We arranged a summer camp with 4 other families to allow you to spend every day with friends; we signed you up for climbing camp because you love to climb; we've traveled a ton (California camping on the river and at the cabin, monthly trips to southern Colorado for camping and hot springs, and daily excursions into the wilderness on hikes, swimming trips, rock finding trips...); and we've done a lot of local exploring.

Most days you are incredibly shiny and excited for life. You sometimes help us with cleaning the house, you have really taken to making art with your mommy, and you love to sing songs, esp. Magnetic Fields tunes. I find myself often overwhelmed by love for you and I can't help squeezing you and kissing your beautiful little face with my scratchy beard.

But goddamn if there isn't another side I wish we could leave behind. Sometimes you never stop asking for things. You need all eyes on you every single moment of the day, without which you spiral out into repeating yourself endlessly. You want to show us your trick swinging a string. You want me to give you juice. You want ice cream. You really want a puppy. You want the windows up/down. You want your song on the radio. You want me to hand you your stuffed kitty. You want me to watch you twirl. You want a playdate with a friend. You want to swim, play, watch a movie, eat, build something, catch butterflies.... Basically, you've discovered life and all of its glory and you want to be totally immersed and present.

Yes! Great! Life!

But no. No no no. Without these things you are not pleasant to be around. Let me give you an example. I drove you and your mommy all the way to the goat farm 3 hours from home so she could meet the baby goats you absolutely could not stop talking about. We got in on a tour that allowed you to actually milk a goat, and we got goat cheese ice cream, which you love. But when you realized you couldn't take a goat home with you (not sure how you got that idea) you were a tyrant, trying to hit your mother and wailing at the top of your lungs, screaming and crying while we forced you into the car to get ourselves far away from the farm. If there is even a hint about something special, such as a little treat, you'll talk about it without stopping for hours and hours and hours, begging and whining until we are forced to throw the thing away.

Somehow you got it into your head you could eat nothing but sweets, you could buy anything in any store we walk into, you are allowed to pester us endlessly for whatever happens to pass through your mind, and we are simply here to ensure you are, at every moment, to be 110% entertained by us. You refuse to eat lunch--you now have a very limited range of food you'll actually eat since giving up on bread, meat, vegetables, and just about anything else I place in front of you--and then scream and cry and writhe on the ground in hysterics 30 minutes later because you are hungry. You ask for gum a good 75 times a day. And, if I give you gum, you get it stuck in your hair or drop it into the car seats. You are careless and destructive. You cry and cry and cry asking for balloons, stuffed animals, stickers, rocks, whatever. If we give you what you want, you will destroy it almost immediately. You rip books, tear up drawings, break games and devices, pull apart necklaces, crack stones, dunk feathers in milk...there is almost no end to your destructive side.

Often you destroy without even knowing you were going to do so, and it's this quality that often has me on edge. You insist on being in control. For instance, you want to carry your own drink - even though it almost always ends in disaster. You can pester me all morning for ice cream, for instance, and decide you will help out around the house in order to get your prize, but once you have the ice cream cone in hand, it could take 4 seconds for you to drop it or, more likely, say something snotty--"This is MY ice cream and I'm not sharing with anybody!"--and turn away only to fall on your face. Today, after I asked you not to run outside the restaurant, you ran and fell hard, bloodying your knees badly and screaming and wailing in front of the restaurant so that we had no choice but get everything packed up while I apologized to others trying to eat, and load you into the car where you reverted to sucking your thumb again.

Regression. Seriously. The moment we get beyond one issue like sucking your thumb it springs back with several friends. Once it was sucking your thumb, now it's drooling on yourself, blowing spit bubbles, sucking your thumb, licking your hands, eating gum off the bus floor...

I hate to say it, but put it all together and it doesn't paint the most rosy picture. A 5 year old beautiful, beautiful girl with such an incredibly complex mind acting snotty, destroying whatever it was she only just received while simultaneously whining for something intangible (like a horse or a puppy), refusing to eat and crying you are hungry, lashing out at us for something you yourself probably caused (like throwing something you wanted out the window of the car only to have it blow off a cliff), and, often during those times of extreme snottiness in which you plug your ears with your fingers to not listen to our advice, falling on your face because you refused to heed the warning, then using this as a reason for reverting to thumb sucking.

If I were to look at all of this I would say you were obviously living under a great deal of stress, but our life is anything but. There is stress, but 90% of it you cause yourself. Typically, we wake to a beautiful day, eat breakfast, go for a hike, visit the creek, swim in our saltwater swimming pool, play with your lovies, watch movies, and read lots of books.

We are hoping--as are other parents we know--that kindergarten and a baby brother will help straighten things out a little. I am griping right now, but I believe you have the capacity to pull through. You are incredible, kindergarten will show you the way and help us all in the process.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Mind the Gap

Dear Sava,

There are so many good things to say about you and your growth over these past two years, but it's hard to find the time to sit down and enter it all since you have become a little firecracker of a child.

First: You love doggies. This is for certain. You love acting like dogs, you love petting every dog that passes you on the street, you love talking about dogs, and you have upwards of 25 stuffed "lovies" that are dogs. (Some are debatably bears, but you insist they are dogs.) Some of their names: Blacka, Snow, Bagel, Rose, Slobber, Poodle, BrownWhitea, Yellow, ... I lose track, but you have a name for each of them.

Second: You love being a girl. Everything you play with is a girl. You only wear dresses, you flat out refuse to wear shorts, pants or t-shirts, and if your shoes are not pristine and beautiful, you flip your lid. Of course, since you also love me, you've decided wearing flip flops for special walks and hikes is pretty okay.

You can hike to the tops of all the local mountains, you love playing in water (hot springs, rivers, lakes), you adore bugs (catching, holding, entrapping, squishing), especially moths, and you have more energy and creativity than any child could.

But, all this beautiful and creative energy is sometimes misplaced and you can become a very difficult person as well. Here is a little hint of that side of yourself from an email I sent to your mother just a few moments ago.


She's been awake for 40 minutes and already I'm at the end of my tolerance. I made hersausage n eggs + apple slices and waffle breakfast. She spit the apples everywhere. She ate the waffle and refused to eat the eggs. I had to coax her into taking a couple bites by allowing her to kill a bee. She put her dishes in the sink, all but three bites of the eggs, and started asking for sweets.

I asked her to get dressed in order to take Nico on a walk in the mountains. No. I got her clothes and laid them out. She won't get dressed. I asked if I needed to start giving her little spankings to remind her to listen to me. She had an all out temper tantrum freakout session, cry-shouting for you out the windows as if she were being murdered in our house. I closed the door. Now she's laying on her closet floor naked, wailing and refusing to stand up, get dressed or come with me.

I swear, some days I just want to quit.

Ugh. "

While I'm writing this you came down, sat in my lap, asked me to read what I was writing, and kissed my face 30 times.

It's been quite a ride. I think a little brother is going to do you well.

Love Daddy

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April showers bring May flowers...we hope


Each morning you climb into bed with with us, snuggle under the covers and begin lightly kicking our backs and whispering your needs "Mommy, I need milk. Daddy, I need water and eggs and cheese and crackers. Mommy, I want watch movie. Daddy, wake up. Wake up, Daddy. Wake up. I need to pee. I want cheese and balloons...."

While there has grown a backlog of all the wonderful times, the funny quotes and situations, what seems to keep rising to the top is your utter intensity. I love you more than I've loved anything or anyone, but there are times when I want to throw you down a flight of stairs.

Today, for instance. If I were describing the simple skeleton of the day it would look something like this: breakfast, the gym, home for lunch, a nap, a housewarming party, a visit to the store, a visit to a cafe, home. Seems kind enough. But you just totally and completely worked me today. I mean, you demolished my spirits, you crushed my nerves, trampled over the carcass of my emotions and stood victorious on my whithered remains.

I don't know how to explain exactly what it is you do, but I need to begin watching the progress. For starters you never stop. There is never any downtime. You want this, you want that. You pick things up and deposit them elsewhere. You throw your stuffed animals, fight with Nico for her stuffed animal. You demand foods, cry when you receive them. You demand water once everyone is sitting, then spill it immediately. You put your hands in your food and throw it on the floor. While we're cleaning it up you demand milk. We deny the request and you throw a tantrum, during which you knock over your food. I clean it up and you get hungry again, but this time you want daddy's or mommy's food and you won't take no for an answer. You want vitamins. We give them to you, but now you want more. Etc. etc. We finally clean you up to leave the house and now you're playing hide and go seek and running when we get close with shoes, pants, your jacket. At the gym you're an angel. We get to the housewarming party and it's all about grabbing hand fulls of the common food. Chewing it, spitting it back. Climbing the stairs. Peeing on the floor. Pouring juice on your dress. Screaming and crying and kicking me until I have to remove you. At the store you run and won't come back. You try eating clothing. You cry and scream NOOOOOOO at me when I try to pick you up. I take you to a restaurant to eat, but you insist on climbing on the table and holding my keys, which you lose. You don't want to stay, you don't want to leave. I eventually carry you out and decide to pick up something to eat and go home to watch a movie with you to see if that helps. But while picking up dinner you're laughing hysterically and insist on pulling everything off the counter. You scream NO to me when I ask if you want a hug or if there is anything I can get you. Then you jump into the air and begin to run, tripping and falling onto the floor. Then it's a rage of tears and screaming and crying. Then you're demanding unreasonable things, asking to go home. But at home you're nothing short of an absolute tyrant. On and on and on.

Later I find myself drinking a lot of beers and reading websites about emotionally intense children. The thing is, I know you will change, you always do, but there is nothing I can do to keep myself from wanting to cry from the exhaustion or simply stop doing so much to please you. I feel that might be the answer, to simply not pay so much attention to you and your whims, but I don't know how to cut myself off from you because I love you so much.

It's a balancing act, and one I'm sure most parents have been through. But it's all new to me and while I've wanted to post here so many of the good and the funny things you do so that later you can reflect on them, I guess this was more important right now.

It's 10:30 and you finally went to sleep. I had to take all of the furniture out of your room and put it all into the hallway. The only things I left were your bed, your nightstand and a small chair. When I checked on you a few minutes ago I found everything dragged away from the walls and you in your bed with the chair on top of you instead of the blankets, which were on the floor.

Yes, I thought, standing there looking at you snoring away with a chair on top of you, this is my baby.

God, if there is a god, save my soul, if I have a soul.

Love one exhausted and defeated Daddy

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March: assorted notes

March 16th
In the bath. You have been playing for awhile while I do the dishes. I come in to check on you and grab a plastic fish to say hi to your plastic whale swimming under the water. "Hi whale."
"Hi fish. I working."
"Oh really? What you working on?"
"I working on, a painting. See?" And we both point our submerged plastic noses at the porcelain walls of the bath.
"Oh wow. What is it a painting of?
"A boy. See it? See it, fishy?"

March 13th,
Warm Sunday. After a fun, sweet walk around the neighborhood, lying in the grass in the sun and feeding crab apples to Charlie Brown, we end up at the local creek, where Nico is happily splashing around and hunting for fish. You want to join her, very badly. After a few requests are shot down, you decide to try a different tactic. You are at the edge of the water, after throwing a bunch of rocks into the creek (plop) for Nico to catch.
"Mommy, you go home now. I stay here in, with, Diko. play in water. you go home."
"Fat chance, Sava. Nice try"  I reply.
But the sun is so warm and the water does look like so much fun to play in. If I were you, that's what i would be wanting to do too. You don't know about pollution yet. It's not your fault that you live in a dirty world. In my mind I am calculating the harm, imaging the quick bath I could draw back at home. You are in a dress with socks and shoes on, big girl underwear.  The shoes are already soaked from stomping in the mud puddles of the grass alley. You slyly look back at me, gauge the seriousness of my rebuttal, decide that I am bluffing and so you hoist your dress and inch in....'it's okay' you whisper to yourself after a grinning minute of wading in the water, dress hiked up at the waist and knees treading the glittering cool surface... "Mommy's at home right now..."

....Later that day...   Running away from me down the sidewalk in your dress after the bath, shoes and underwear discarded. I finally catch up to you, three blocks down. I am winded. I am getting over pneumonia and i am out of breath. You look up at me and you are protesting your capture, laughing..."I wanna take walk with.. my feet .....and my giny!"

-strangely, potty training is coinciding with.... late onset thumb sucking.

Saturday March 12th.. a triumphant day at the indoor pool (every saturday morning we have a date where we go to the farmers market and then the gym and after i work out and you play in the daycare, we go swimming together). You are wearing your new pink polka dot bathing suit which you picked out yourself- you are the most adorable creature that has ever been invented and you walk around to everybody pointing to your suit "Look, i picked it out..by MYSELF!!  We are swimming around and you are showing Nemo, Nemo's dad, and Dory (three floatie fishies with buggy eyes that live in the toybox at the pool) how well you can hold your nose and put your face under the water. They are so proud and astonished they splutter water everywhere and just squeal with excitement. They are really just goading you on, and you eat it up. Later, I ask, "Hey Sava, you are doing SUCH a good job putting your head under water. Do you want to jump into the water and go all the way under? I will catch you and bring you back up!" You think this is a fantastic idea and grab a hold of your nose and fearlessly plop in. I stick my arms underwater and pull you up and you are spluttering and grinning, wiping the water from your eyes. "DO that AGAIN!" (which we do, like twenty more times)

-when we play the game where we are pretending to eat you all up, chomp chomp chomp, you squiggle and laugh and then demand that we spit it out, whatever part of you we ate: her your ear, your cheek....."Spit it OUT!" and you demonstrate for us, "Spphtht".

talking to little plastic horsies, to puppets, to snapdragons. Sometimes refusing to talk to me or daddy but demanding that we hold up the thing so that she can have long conversations with it. She is in that short precious window of time where she really believes that they are alive and animated.  

march 11 Sava and I walked by a little girl downtown tonight. Sava said, "That's a little girl. She's my daughter, and I love her so much right now." Where does she get this stuff?- daddy

march 9th Sava made up the name Bug Wallace this morning for a beetle she found in the house. I was reminded of Inch Connecticut. The rest, well, I'm not sure where that came from, (Bug Wallace drinks eyelid tea and sleeps for a blink by the Salton Sea) but I like the idea of it. -daddy

March 10 I hear a thud and come into the room. You had fallen off the end of your bed and you were crying your fake cry. I comfort you for a moment, hold you and kiss you, and then you tell me to "Hold horsey, mommy."  I pick horsey up and bring it up to your face.
"Hi, horsey. Hi. Horsey. I ,  I... fell."
"awww" says horsey. "I'm sorry. How did you do it?"
"I, I climbed up, like dis" (re-enacting the perilous clamber up the wooden rails of the foot of your bed) "and, I .. fell. Hurt, my leg. Der. Kiss it?"
(horsey kisses the knee)
"Ohh, tank you, horsey. Feel, much better now!" (sniff) "Give me, kiss?"
(you bend down to kiss it on the lips)
"Hold my hand? Ohhh, tank you, horsey"
(holding the tip of its forelegs in your little pinched fingers, you give me a sentimental, smeary smile) 

March 8th Sava just awakened from a bad dream intermittently sobbing and singing Old MacDonald.

She loves yelling orders for food down the stairs while lounging around on the bed in mommy and daddy's room. "MOMMY!!!! GIVE ME. BRING ME CHICKEN AND ICE CREAM AND MILK AND WATER AND JUICE AND PEANUT BUTTER AND TOAST AND CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM AND..... NANA ICE CREAM AND .....QUESADILLA! OKAY????"

March 7th "You were in the CITY? You fly in airplane up in the sky? You come home see me? Oh. Miss you, daddy. Thank you coming home. Miss you so much."

-While Jamba was gone to SF for a week, we initiated POTTY TRAINING. which has been going surprisingly well. I am shamelessly, flat-out bribing you. I am so damn sick of buying diapers I can't even tell you.  So every time you poop or pee on big girl toilet, you get a piece of candy cane.  And the other day we went to target to buy 8 pairs of big girl underwear, which you carry around everywhere in a green metal pail.

-at the Chop House, on a date with your daddy. Daddy says, "Sava, i am going to go to the bathroom now, okay?"
"Oh? Daddy have a (high pitched squeal) PENIS???"

-Sassy sava likes to boss, but sassy Sava is getting better ... whenever mommy is ordered to do something, like "give me water!" she is asked.. "Sava, how do we ask nicely for things? "Please?" "Start from the beginning., Sava" "Please, mudder, can i have some water?".
I am actually really proud of how polite you are getting. Although it is hilarious to have it turned on us... like this morning. "Sava," asked daddy "Would you like to take a shower with me?" "No tank you" you replied sweetly, grinning a chesire grin as you lay comfortably against my chest.

-Everybody is pregnant, and you are convinced that you have a little baby in your belly. "see it?" you squeak, pointing to your belly? "shhhhh, my baby is sleeping."

Feb: assorted notes

Feb 28 In the last week you started talking with a strong virginia accent, which is the insertion of at least two extra syllables into a single syllable word. "it's over deeaaar" "yeeeaaauuh" and so on. you think it is hilarious... cuz it gets us so riled up and because we always have to repeat it, like a tic, so that now we are starting to unconsciously adopt it ourselves.

-Hamming it up:  "mama" hiccup, sigh.  "i sad" and your face scrunches up and lips pouty. "i misss daddeee." "Oh sweetie, i know. i miss him too. Where is daddy right now? "Donknow.. at work!"

Girls have giny's and boys have PEANUTS.  Many conversations about who has what. "Mommy have a giny?" "Yes." "Oh." "Elliot have a PEANUT?" "Oh." "Christy have a giny?" "Oh."  "Peter have a giny? "Oh."
Sometimes, Papa has a giny and sometimes he has a peanut. It just depends.

feb 22nd.  Ice Storm. Tot-time is cancelled because schools are cancelled, so we go Glen's Fair Price store to buy fabric and costumes for the costume box ... pirate booty, queen's sceptre and crown, kitty and bunny noses... but much of it is lost on you. you impatiently tear off anything i ever try to put on your head. you only want to dress up like a little girl in pretty skirts, or have me paint a kitty nose and whiskers on your face and then you will crawl around on the floor meowing and looking for a kitty nest. I put a kitty tail on you and you want to be walked around the house by your tail. I say, "Sava, we don't walk animals around by their tails. Tails are not like leashes.. Do you walk Nico around by her tail? (expecting a no) "YES! I.... do!!!" (proudly). I make a mental note to supervise your playtime with Nico a little more carefully.  When dad comes home and divse into the costume box, you two have a fun time trading off being monsters and chasing each other around the upstairs. dad wrapped black sheer fabric around his head and put a pirate's eye patch on his nose and a roll of toilet paper stuck to the side of his cheek.
that was a weird costume
Feb 21 i gave a footrub to sava this morning and she seemed to really enjoy it. Later, on the way to daycare, her bee puppet (which has temporarily replaced Horsey as the favored conversational companion) asked her what it felt like, and she closed her eyes and thought about it, then said "Chocolate!!"- mommy
feb 17 sava was sitting for a moment after breakfast with a blank look on her face, and I said "Hello, is there anybody in there?" and then leaned up close to her head and whispered "hello, hello, hello, hello...." and the echo came back so tiny... well, she thought that was just the greatest thing ever, and suggested while pointing helpfully to the side of her head "Open the door?!"- mommy
feb 17 Sava received an ad for a platinum Visa. It came with a fake credit card. She promised us that she was going to buy us some money with it. She carried it everywhere, put it into her purse, and then promised to take us out for chocolate, water, cheese, chicken, ice, quesadillas, hamburgers, and milk. We arrived at the restaurant to find she'd inadvertently chewed her card into a mush of platinum fiber.- daddy
feb 15th "I pretended to be the voice of a small plastic horse while playing with Sava and she bought it. Not just bought it--she was astonished! She told pony how old she is, what her name is, who her mommy is, and that she lives in a house. She then led pony to her room where she introduce it to her other stuffed animals."- jamba.   
-Erin : "Ah yes, the horse is good. This morning, horse was so excited to go to the gym to meet all the plastic dinosaurs he had been hearing so much about, that Sava was dressed (she dressed herself) and ready in 1/100th the time that it usually takes to cajole her out the door. She just couldn't wait to show him around. Horse is very curious about how the world works...like, what a house is (Sava was pointing to these things out the window) and Sava was very patient explaining to him that dogs and kitties live in houses but cows DON'T!
 feb 12th  Sava slumped in the movie theater seat, miniature 3D glasses on face, stuffing her face with popcorn while watching Gnomeo and Juliet. "I'm a human being," she told me later while staring at herself in the bathroom mirror. "You a daddy," she pointed to my reflection, "I'm a, I'm a human being." 
"Look! I did it, by.. MYSELF!!!! "
feb 9th 7am Sava runs into our room, "I had DWEEEM!" "Really? What did you dream?" "I dweem dweems spinning wround and wround and poop way up on the ceiling."
Savalogic: Kitties have tails. Nico has a tail. Therefore Nico is a (secret) kitty.
whenever asked a question you respond by saying "donknow."..and then you exclaim with the answer.

back from mexico: we are now 'mamia, dadyia'

oooh, look at the (squeaking) tinneee, little babeee (pinching your fingers and thumb together)

you can say elephant now. no more allalalalalal. sadness.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sava in Mexico

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Your first exhibit

chalk on slate.

"Bird walking under rainbow"
chalk on slate.

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