Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lovin' our Baby Doll

At what point do I need to stop calling Gavin my Baby Doll? I know he's a boy and I know he is two years old, but he is still my baby doll when he needs snuggles, smooches, and love... when he's tired or sick or hungry or sad... when I kiss his head and smell the most familiar smell of... him. Kids heads don't generally smell good, but the smell of my baby's head still makes me close my eyes and inhale deeply, even though it smells to anyone else like every other little boy's head. It smells of winter, of dust, of the same hat he's been wearing for weeks, it smells of his bed, and sometimes of baby shampoo, but mostly it just smells like him. He's my baby doll. He cracks me up. He makes the craziest, funniest facial expressions. He raises his eyebrows and looks at me all sideways like, without turning his head toward me, grinning slightly.

...and sometimes he screams "no mommy" at me with a scowl on his face and pushes me out of his personal space, his bedroom, the bathroom, his play area, or wherever he happens to want me out of.

Sometimes he furrows his eyebrows and scrunches up his face and scolds "Ooo not mine fwend anymow, Mom"

...but he's still my baby doll. I tell him that I love him, that he's my favorite boy, that I think he is special and wonderful. I tell him that he's nice.

The other night he turned to his cousin Renee, who came over for dinner, and said to her. "Hi Nay, I'm gwad oeu heo. I wike oeu face" Awww, shucks! Who doesn't want to hear a boy say, "I'm glad you're here. I like your face"? Well, we could work on rephrasing the "I like your face" part. He means "You're pretty" ....I think... although, now he says "I wike oeu face and I wike oeu toes" What a compliment, huh? Well, sometimes he says "I wike oeu butt". Yeah, that's my fave. Especially with the dimpled white whale of a butt I seem to have these days. Yeah, he still likes it! Hey, he may be only 2, but I'll take the compliment either way!

He's my baby doll. Cliff and I don't always usually ever agree on parenting tactics. How can two people who ultimately want the same outcome go about trying to accomplish in such vastly different ways? We are in total and complete agreement that we want Gavin to feel and know that he is loved, to be a kind and generous person, to treat people with respect, to be intelligent and to exercise his mind, to find his own sense of self and celebrate it, and to know that he is special and loved by us and by God.

Even in all of that agreement, we are like polar opposites when it comes to the tactical aspect of parenting. I am the mushy lover who concentrates on the I love you's and you're special's. Cliff's the more level-headed one who concentrates on teaching Gavin what's right and what's wrong and ensuring that we (and Gavin) don't fall into habits or routines that will someday make things more difficult for us.     

This is completely hypothetical and not a realistic example, but in theory... Say, Gavin is crying because he's upset about a situation. Cliff is more the Dad that quickly assesses the situation and realizes there is no real pain or harm and says something like "You're fine, stop crying" or "That's just the way it is" and I am more the Mom who assesses the situation and although there is no real pain or harm, still realizes that sadness, fear, and frustration are very real feelings and crying sometimes helps you feel better, so I would say something like, "I know you're sad about this and it's okay to cry for a little bit. We'll try again later" or something like that.

Neither way is wrong. We struggle a little a lot with bedtime right now and really should be tackling bedtime one parent at a time. It seems we only get frustrated with eachother when we try to do it together because our styles are so utterly different. ...and yet, they both work most of the time, just not together. When Gavin gets out of bed at bedtime, Cliff sternly, but gently says "It's time for sleeping. I expect you to stay in your bed", which was actually SuperNanny's bedtime tactic that I had shared with Cliff a few weeks ago. She says to get right down to eye level with your child and say that once. Then each time after that when they come out of their room / bed, just put them back without saying anything. I tried it and it sort of worked, but he did cry and I don't want to be the cause of his crying. I soon went back to kissing him and snuggling him "one more time" and telling him that I love him.   ...and he knows that I'm the pushover! He still asks me to lay with him, snuggle him, give him one more kiss at night and he doesn't ask Cliff for all of that anymore. He knows I'll give in.

...but here's the thing. As much as I can admit that I'm being played, I sort of really believe in my heart that it's more important for me to show Gavin that I DO like to snuggle him and kiss him and lay with him and spend time with him than to ensure he knows who's in charge that I mean what I say and that when it's bedtime, it's bedtime.

I love this age that he is at and I love each and every little part of him, the soft, kissable, tangible parts and the thoughtful, playful, silly, emotional parts. I want to savor every minute I have with him. I don't ever want to wish these years back. I want to feel like I appreciated them and took advantage of the time I had with this loving and wonderful two-year old boy.

A fellow blogger, Kristen of Motherhood Uncensored, recently wrote something that pulled at my heart strings. She and I are different in many ways, but I sure can appreciate her uncensored accounts of her life. She says things that I would filter out, she shares things that I would hold secretive, she talks about things that are voo-doo in my world, but she is honest, out there, and open and I love that about her. My Catholic parents would not approve of the blog. So, Mom, you should read the post I'm referring to, but I wouldn't recommend reading much beyond that. She recently wrote about snuggling her 6-yr old  at bed time and deciding to just enjoy it because before she knows it, that 6-year old will be 14 and may be slamming doors and yelling "I hate you" and all that fun stuff. I hope that Gavin never utters those words and more importantly never questions my love for him. Whether that day comes or not, I still feel like my most important job as a parent is to love. Love this child as Jesus loves him. Love him as much and as well as I know how. Love him no matter what. So, if my baby doll needs one more snuggle, one more kiss, a little kiss and a big kiss (as we've been doing lately), or wants me to lay with him "one mo minute", I will. I will because all too soon he will not want all of that love. I have to squeeze it all in now. My baby doll is going to be a big boy soon, okay, so he already is a big boy, and I am a little afraid of that. I'm a little sad about that. He's two going on fourteen and I want to keep him sweet and little and loving.    

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