I’m behind on my once a month goal! I know NONE of you care, but I made a commitment to myself, damnit.
I feel like I want to organize my post a bit more than usual, since I actually feel like I have a lot on my mind that I’ve been wanting to share here. Also, then you can skip the parts you aren’t as into!
Angus – Month 3
The Littlest Bear hit three months last week on November 9th. As of this morning, he weighs 10 lbs 1oz – finally into double digits! He’s edging out of his newborn sized clothing, which means we are finally getting into our stash of hand me downs (we gave most of Ansel’s NB stuff away to a friend) and we are also finally feeling solid about putting him in cloth diapers. We are waiting until after the holidays because of travel, etc. So 2018 – here comes the cloth booty!
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned, but Angus has been a much “harder” baby than Ansel was. He tends to get upset more easily and have a harder time settling. In the evenings, his scream is the decibel and pitch to drive a small wedge of anxiety into your brain, and just when you think you’ve unlocked the master combination of swaying-holding-shushing-pacifier holding, he’ll lose it all over again. This + toddler has made the last few months SUPER difficult.
But, like most babies, he’s starting to come out of this inconsolable haze. Part of that is just growing up and getting bigger (size and development.) Part of it is getting him on some medication for reflux (I know, I know . . .it’s over prescribed and whatever but I think it’s helping, really) and part of it is getting some tips from his physical therapist (he’s seeing her for torticollis) on how to help him regulate his little nervous system. Apparently, because he didn’t get the kind of womb squeeze that more average sized newborns get, he needs more of it now. So, we’re doing a lot of pressure holds and helping him regulate himself.
He has good long stretches of being wide awake and calm, and even better – long stretches of smiling and cooing at us. Ansel wasn’t a huge coo-er, but Angus makes the sweetest little gurgles and sighs. It’s so lovely. Maybe I forgot how great it is to have a tiny baby stare and smile at you for basically doing nothing – afterall, once they get bigger you have to work for it at least a little. I’m excited that he is entering the infant vs. newborn stage now, which I personally find much more rewarding. Plus, they aren’t mobile yet.
Ansel is full on into complex sentences now, and his pronounciation is starting to shore up as well, so I’m less worried than I was a few months ago. He still loves school, his intense romance with Minnie Mouse has gotten even more intense, and he continues to be joy filled, smiling, and so very charming.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with his physicality and how that fits with other kids his age. There are a few components to this.
- Ansel doesn’t really have the capacity to sit still, at least, not on his own. At school, this isn’t a huge deal. The teacher doesn’t believe it’s developmentally appropriate to expect them to sit and listen during circle time. So, they are encouraged, given space if they need to be walking or jumping or rolling or whatever, but they are asked to not play with other toys. Ansel really only sits during circle if I’m there as a working parent, or on occasion, when the teacher has him in her lap. But, we’ve also started taking him to various classes. In gymnastics, the kids are asked to do a LOT of sitting, paying attention, and waiting. It’s a parent-child class, and geared towards toddlers, so it feels a little weird that there is this level of focus needed from them. I spend about 60% of the class chasing after him or trying to keep him contained while the coach asks them to put their hands in their laps or drones on about how to do a somersault. I want him to keep going because I think he needs the physical interaction, but I don’t know if I can hang with all that’s being demanded.
What makes this harder is that Ansel seems to be in the minority around this. In school, there are 2-3 other kids (mostly boys) who also are up and busy most of the time. In gymnastics, he’s sometimes the only one. In both cases, he’s usually more apt to run off or run farther or faster or be less engaged. I feel judged, and I feel like HE is judged.
- Ansel also likes to touch other people. I have never seen him do it in an aggressive way, or even in anger. He likes to hug, or crash into folks, or occasionally push – but it’s basically in a playful way, a desire to engage. No matter the intent, I don’t want him to touch people without their consent (hello, the news these days is full of guys who could have benefited from learning about consent earlier in their lives!) and even though he’s being fun and playful, others don’t always see it that way. I don’t want kids or their parents to dislike or be afraid of Ansel because of his physicality. The flip side of this is that he is SO snuggly and sweet and affectionate with us, and lots of other people. So how do I encourage this kind of affection while also helping him understand he needs to have permission to touch, and that touching isn’t always appropriate.
Parenting is fucking haaard.
As I said, the Minnie love is full on and hard core. He did go as Minnie Mouse for Halloween (and his little face lit up everytime he put on that dress) and he asks daily to watch “Minnie Bow-Tique, please” on YouTube. He has also recently gotten into old school Minnie cartoons, as well as this gem from a 1980’s Disney special called “Totally Disney.” My kid loving Minnie +Elton John = My personal gay agenda achieved.
He has asked for a “Minnie car I drive” for Xmas which he is NOT getting because, hello – we don’t even have room for our actual vehicles in the garage. But, he will be having a very Minnie Mouse holiday, I am sure.
He’s also more generally into wearing princess dresses which has brought up some interesting responses from our families. So far, only raised eye brows or passive aggressive comments. But if anyone says anything more direct, I will not hesitate to fuck them up.
My sweet old dog Eliot is dying.
A few weeks ago, he and the little bulldog, Hilda, got in a little tiff. This is common and also, usually, NBD because bulldogs lack the basic anatomy to do much damage and Eliot is a sweet natured dude. But, on this occasion (of course, at 10pm) after their row, I noticed some blood coming from Eliot’s mouth. The only cause I could find was a strange piece of flesh in his mouth. Nervous he had some weird wound there, I took him to the emergency vet. We waited 2 hours to be seen, and when we were, the very nice vet (who was wearing a nice suit and vest at 10pm at an emergency vet?) told me there was no emergency issue, but that the lump of flesh in his mouth was a malignant melanoma. He also told me that melanomas in the mouth are incredibly aggressive, fast growing, and quickly spread. His recommendation was to see a Canine Oncologist, get the tumor excised and biopsied (a procedure that requires anesthesia) and then proceed with chemo therapy or radiation or some other cancer treatment. When I asked him to be honest and tell me what kind of prognosis my dog had, both with treatment and without, he told me that in either case I was looking at less than a year. With extensive treatment – maybe 6-9 months.
I left in tears. The next day, I talked to our regular vet who had by then seen the report from the emergency clinic. She told me she agreed with the diagnosis (though she hadn’t seen the actual tumor, based on the description as well as Eliot’s breed – he’s a spaniel – she felt fairly sure it was a malignant melanoma as well) and the prognosis. I talked through options with her again, and she agreed that even with extensive treatment, it was unlikely he had very long to live. She said that very often, by the time these tumors are even seen, it’s too late to do a whole lot.
I will not put my old, sweet dog through surgery and intensive cancer treatment to buy him (but really me) a few more months, even assuming I had the financial ability to do so. He is 13 years old and has lived a long and relatively pain free life. Right now, he continues to have energy, eat with gusto (indeed, his favorite pastime is stealing food from Ansel’s plate), and enjoy his life – though with more naps than he took when younger. If he starts to show signs of pain or distress or discomfort, we will reevaluate but, for now, we are doing nothing. Except, of course, loving him a little more, petting him a little longer, and letting him get away with stealing a few more goldfish crackers.
Folks who also follow Pot and Lid Make Kid may see a trend here . . .
Lately, I have seen a LOT of moms (particularly of the feminist/queer/lesbian variety) talking about their terror/disgust/fear of having and raising boy children. I have a lot of feelings about this, and they are very complex. First, I want to own the fact that when we were trying to get pregnant, I did feel a preference for a girl. But once we found out we were having a boy (for the record, when I say boy I mean a baby with XY chromosomes and a penis) I didn’t feel fear or disgust. I did feel a huge, looming responsibility, I did feel like I had even less room to fuck this thing called parenting up. But I also felt like the universe knows what its doing, giving boy children to queers and feminists, whether those boy children are actually trans feminine children who will need loving, supportive space to be themselves or if they grow up to be cisgender straight dudes who will need to not be dicks.
We are really trying to create space for either/both of these realities. Mostly, I want the same things for all kids, no matter their anatomy or identity. I want them to have access to things that give them comfort, to things that make their brains and hearts and souls happy. I want them to be healthy, and fed. To feel comfortable with their emotions and the emotions of other people. To feel ok being their truest self, whoever that is. And, I know that because we live in the world we do, my children will have different limitations imposed of those goals than would children with XX chromosomes and vaginas. I know that my kids need to learn to not touch without permission, to feel ok crying, to learn to manage their feelings without hurting other people. I know my kids will be told to be strong, to not have feelings, to take what they want because the world ‘owes’ them, and I want to throw a wrench in that.
But when feminists and queers fear boys, we are just reifying those things. When a person posts in a queer parenting group that they are afraid of gestating a boy child because of toxic masculinity and the behavior problems they see in boys, they will necessarily treat boys with those expectations, they will make those awful things real. I believe people behave the way we expect them to. And, I fear for how my boy children will be treated by people who profess to be feminist but who also expect them to be aggressive or harmful simply because of their anatomy. How in the world is this any less awful than when misogynists think women can’t govern because they menstruate?
Furthermore, I believe we can only know someone’s gender once they tell us. And that gender gets sticky and weird when married to biology. My kid likes a lot of boy things, he has “boy energy” (so I’m told, anyway), and is also adores Minnie Mouse and gets shakey-tearful excited when he sees himself in a poofy red dress and can’t handle doing preschool if he’s not in the blue ball gown. I don’t know his gender. I don’t think I’ll know it until he can articulate it. I call him a boy and use the pronouns I do because of the world we live in and the limitations of language. I also want him to have all the space in the world to define “boy” for himself, to be a boy in whatever ways he wants. I want for him and all boys for “boy” to include blue ball gowns and sensitivity and tenderness and glitter. I want for all children to have access to all things, and to define their identity not by what they like, or what they look like, but by what they feel inside to be true.
- You guys I’m not allowed to wear headphones in my tiny cubicle space anymore and I am dying so I am now in the process of trying to be allowed to use them again but WTactualF, really???
- Our BFF’s are coming for TGiving and I’m so psyched. I made iron ons for t-shirts today – aren’t they amazing? (Jabogusly is a combination of all of our last names, FYI) Our Seattle BFFs are also coming with their toddler for dinner on the actual tgiving day. It feels really nice to be hosting and feel like we have people here to do holidays with.
- Ansel is already excited about “Ristris Trees” and we decided to do an Elf thing (though not of the Big Brother Pan Opticon variety – our Elf will be encouraging Ansel to do kind things for others, give stuff away, or otherwise Be a Better Person © ) I’m working furiously on Angus’ Bucilla stocking (cause once one kid has one, they all have to, y’all) and thankful that we decided to get into Madame Secretary so I have something to binge watch while I do it.
- It’s raining now. And it’s dark, like, all the time. Accordingly, I am drinking insane amounts of coffee. (I’m sure the two kid sleep dep is contributing too)
- We took Ansel to see Kimya Dawson in Olympia and my early 20’s queer punk dreams came true.