Thursday, March 26, 2009

Summer Sun

The last couple of days have been rainy, thankfully, giving the city a nice respite from summer's scorching heat. Little A has been spending his days playing outside, swimming with his father and discovering the little balcony off his room. 

Meanwhile, I have been going through his photos from birth to the present, burning files on CD for backup purposes, a task that should have been done ages ago. It's amazing to see how much he's changed from chubby smiley baby to independent toddler all in the space of just 21 months.

Tomorrow, we go to a play centre to celebrate the first birthday of Little A's youngest cousin. He hasn't been to this play centre since he was barely walking, so it will be nice to see if he enjoys it, and if so we will consider letting him attend their summer programme. These are the types of events he prefers, where the children are allowed to run around freely and play or climb as they see fit with a minimum of supervision. 

The last birthday party we attended was a disaster as it was a typical Filipino first birthday celebration with a loud master of ceremonies calling out the games, blaring music and plenty of boisterous kids. Add to that the fact that we arrived at what was usually Little A's naptime, and we were left with an inconsolable boy who refused to enter the restaurant where the party was being held. He sat outside in the blazing heat in his stroller until my husband put him in the car and drove around with the airconditioner on full blast until Little A fell asleep. We went home early, needless to say.

Playground and swim time this summer should give my son plenty of opportunity for interaction with other children. My hope is that his social skills develop further and that he starts talking in time for his second birthday in July. Stay tuned for how things unfold.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Becoming a Domestic Goddess

Now that my son is a little older and, more importantly, has a part-time nanny, one would think I could resume the "normal" (ie - pre-baby) activities people with lives have such as paid work, trips to the salon or secondhand bookshop and lunches with friends. However, I have realized (as all mothers do) that once the umbilical cord is severed after a child is pulled out of your body, it is replaced by an invisible yet much stronger bond that can never be ignored. 

For those who are still childless, you've read the books and seen the films - working mother has to rush home or to school because her child is sick or hurt or in trouble. School plays, end-of-term awards days and visits to the doctor mean mothers need more time away from their desks. Children come first, as soon as they come.  

For fathers in a two-parent family, life goes on much as normal. Golf games, business trips, happy hour with the boys and constant tv-watching when at home all happen as usual. I will not deny that my husband loves our son probably more than he loves me, but perhaps because he didn't carry the child in his womb for 40 1/2 weeks or nourish it with his breasts for 1.5 years and counting, he doesn't seem as attached to Little A as I am.

Even my dreams of becoming a domestic goddess need to be put on hold. Despite my stay-at-home status and the presence of the nanny, I feel like I should spend as much time as I can with my son while he still allows me to. Baking a batch of brownies while he naps or cooking a quick dinner is fine, but I can't bring myself to spend more time in the kitchen than I need to while he sits in front of the television. 

Last night, for the first time, my son pushed me away as he tried to fall asleep on his own. Where he used to hug me tightly around the neck, he now wants his own space. He is growing up, and will eventually be less affectionate, so I need to take what love I can get while I still can.

He has left his mark though. For a while, he would bite in frustration or when he was sleepy. My husband and I bear the marks of our vampire boy's teeth. I will wear the scars proudly for the rest of my life.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dogs' Tails

My son is 20 months old now. Just the other day, while getting him ready for bed, it struck me that he was no longer a baby. Maybe it was the long limbs, maybe it was the way he helped me by taking his shirt off; whatever it was, it hit home that he is really a little boy now.

This little boy is discovering more of his world every day, and more about the people in it. When someone kisses the top of his head, he looks up to see who it is instead of just carrying on with whatever he's doing. Lately, he has also been studying our faces - mine, my husband's and the au pair's. He is no longer afraid of the big slide at the playground, though he does go down carefully, on his tummy, feet first. And where he used to largely ignore the other kids around him, he is starting to notice them and sometimes attempts interaction now.

He is a true toddler, but in many ways still our baby boy. He babbles constantly but has yet to form real words. He is fully aware of his bodily functions, but refuses to use the toilet. He can sleep in his car seat and stroller but will not go down for the night unless I am next to him on the bed.

In month and a half since the au pair's arrival, my husband and I have managed a half-dozen or so dinners out with friends. We usually come home between 1030 and midnight, and each time our son is waiting patiently for us, very tired and very sleepy. 

Yesterday, he had an unusually short nap. My husband and I had dinner with friends who lived half an hour away so we thought this would be the night our son went to sleep on his own. At 1045 pm, the au pair called. Little A had fallen asleep in his stroller, but woke up half an hour later and was furious that we weren't there. He cried and cried until he threw up everything he'd eaten for dinner two hours earlier. We rushed home.

I walked through the door and saw my son with tears in his eyes, clutching a framed photograph of himself, my husband and me taken on his first birthday. As soon as he saw me, he ran to the door, looked at me closely, then ran back to his corner. His stroller was upside-down on the floor where he had thrown it in anger. When my husband came in after parking the car, Little A did the same thing, looking at him closely, but approaching neither of us, perhaps because he felt betrayed.

According to the au pair and the day girl, while crying, Little A searched the flat for us, looking in the bathrooms and opening and shutting all the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen. He then indicated that he wanted the photograph, which was hanging on the wall, and when they gave it to him he kissed it, went to look for us, and failing to find us threw the photo on the floor. He picked it up again, kissed it, and went on another hunt, with no success.

I quickly popped him into a warm bath to clean up and then he went to sleep immediately by my side. Early this morning, half asleep, he sat up in bed and felt for me to be sure I was still there. Later in the morning, while playing, he looked up from his toys and studied my face for a long time. 

I have a trip to Hong Kong scheduled next month for work, and was hoping to leave Little A with his dad and the au pair for the two nights I will be gone. After last night, I may have to rethink leaving him behind. But there's a month to go. Who knows, by then he may be able to fall asleep on his own. When that time comes, he will have realized he no longer needs me, but chooses to spend time with me because he wants to. I wonder how I will feel.