Monday, September 24, 2012

Who Are You And What Have You Done With My Child?

Sometimes the smallest creatures make the loudest noises, you know? Bullfrogs and cicadas are two examples that come to mind, just off the top of my head. I'm sure if I spent two minutes on Google, I could come up with a list of at least ten to twelve more.

And I'm also pretty certain that Skye would be on that list.

Because she may be small, but the girl is LOUD.  And what is super awesome is that as she gets older, her little lungs just keep on developing and she gets louder and louder. And louder.

You see, there is a very good reason why I am sitting here, slumped over my laptop with a glass of wine in hand, my brain a bit hazy from the nonstop screaming that has been going on in our house since about...oh, 6:00a.m. and grateful for the miracle that is the fact that I managed to survive another day with that kid without locking myself in the closet and counting to one hundred.

I'm also cursing the genius who came up with the phrase Terrible Twos, because it is, in fact, a lie. Not that it's not true, because it is. But it is inaccurate in that it gives parents false hope that the terribleness of it all will somehow END- as if by magic- when your child turns three.

Anyone who has ever had a three-year-old in the history of the world will at this point start nodding their heads and chuckling, "Oh, yeah, I fell for that, too. FOR ABOUT A WEEK."

Because it doesn't get better, it gets worse. They should start referring to it not as the Terrible Twos, but as The Terrible Time Between The Ages Of Two And Four When Your Child Will Act As If They'd Been Left In The Woods To Raise Themselves Since Birth.

But I guess they can't call it that, or fewer people might sign on to this whole parenting thing. Better to have them believe that there will be one bad year, but the rest will be sunshine and butterflies.

However, parents who are on their second child know better. We've been through it before. Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice, shame on ME.

I know what to expect. I'm no stranger to this. Yet, somehow- SOMEHOW- it is still a surprise to me when I have to look down at my daughter on the floor, screaming, and say "Use your words, Skye, USE YOUR WORDS!" over and over about 10,000 times.

On a side note, before I had kids, there was no phrase that got on my nerves when I heard people say it to their kids more than "Use your words!", and now I find myself repeating it more times in a single day than I care to admit.

Well, except maybe for, "Thank you for being a good listener!", which I am also the queen of. I totally rock that saying. ROCK. IT.


In three weeks, Skye will be turning three years old. Three! Now, a lot of people get nostalgic when their kids turn three, and start ruminating on where the time went and how they grow up so fast and all that.

We tend to go in the opposite direction and silently think to ourselves, "Finally! Things will start to get easier soon! No more diapers! Full, coherent sentences that actually communicate needs and wants! And REAL VACATIONS!"  You all, we are really looking forward to going on better vacations. Or ANY vacations, really, since most of the time we just stay home because traveling with a two-year-old just isn't worth it.

Of course, we realize that in a few years we'll feel differently and every birthday will have the faint tune of "Sunrise, Sunset" wafting in the background, but for now, we relish the toddler birthdays.

Mostly because, let me tell you, two-year-old Skye ain't easy, and we can fully see that three-year-old Skye will be even worse. This is made obvious by the fact that the number of her daily tantrums have tripled- TRIPLED- and she seems to have periods of time when she loses all ability to communicate in anything but screams and shrieks.

However, anyone who reads this blog knows that for Skye, this is nothing new, really.

What IS new is her habit of throwing herself on the ground and doing a re-enactment of several scenes from "The Exorcist" at the very mention of the word "No". It's not even "No", really- the "N" sound will barely escape our palate when she goes down for the count before we can even get to that all-important "O" part.

She does not like that, she certainly does not.

What is also new is her total and absolute refusal to do ANYTHING when she is in a mood, as well as her habit of throwing toys and saying, "I don't WANT this!" and giving off threats such as, "I'm NOT going on the school bus!", even though it is seven o'clock at night.

I'm not sure why, but in her precious little toddler mind, the threat of not going on the school bus is just THE absolute worst that she can lay on us.

She is fun, that one.

I will give you an example from this morning. I'd gotten up at my usual time of five a.m. (yep, you read that right- FIVE A.M.) to make the kids' lunches and breakfast before getting into the shower to get myself ready for work.

Now, in order for our mornings to go smoothly, the kids need to get up by 6:15 at the LATEST, eat their breakfast somewhat quickly and be in the shower by 6:50 so that we can get out the door by 7:15 with enough time to feel relaxed enough to actually start our day peacefully.

So it should come as a surprise to nobody that at 6:35, I was still sitting next to a sobbing Skye, who was on the floor wailing because I told her that she couldn't use the iPad as soon as she opened her eyes this morning. I'd had the audacity to tell her that she had to- GASP!- play with her toys in the hour before her preschool bus came.

 Play! With her toys!

What kind of parents are we, anyway?

There were several back and forths that involved me firmly letting her know that this behavior wasn't acceptable and she would not get her way by displaying it, and she responding by screaming and throwing every toy that was within grabbing distance. Time-outs completely failed me and were utterly futile .

This went on. And on. And ON.

Finally, at about 7:05, I threw any notion of a shower or breakfast out the window and just tried my best to get her into her clothes and brush her teeth. You can imagine how well that went.


At exactly 7:12, she was sweetly sitting at the table, eating her eggs and telling me all about the things she was going to paint today in preschool.


There is really no truer sign of a parent of a toddler than when they walk into work at 7:30 a.m. and already have a look about them as if they'd done battle with the devil that morning, and lost. Not just lost, but lost SPECTACULARLY.

So I am looking forward to saying "Adios!" to the Terrible Twos and "Bring it on!" to the Thundering Threes, because as bad as I know they will be, they are followed by the Fabulous Fours, which I know from personal experience is when your kids resembling reasonable human beings, albeit with the newfound ability to argue every point that you make.

But at least the arguing takes the form of words and phrases, which I will take over screaming and shrieks any day.

What do YOU do about the Terrible Twos and Thundering Threes??

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I'm Baaaaa-aaaaaaack!

OK, well, I will be the first to admit that it has been too long. Way, way, way, way, WAY too long since I have decided to bore/annoy/delight/entertain anyone with my musings. But- BUT- there is a very good explanation for it- we moved countries!

 I don't know if you've ever moved countries before with a cat and two kids, but it is pretty much the equivalent of a black hole and vortex meeting, entwining, and then sucking every last second of free time and ounce of energy that might possibly exist in your newly chaotic world.

Now, that may not sound too pleasant to you, but believe me, it wasn't really so bad. How can that be? How can that possibly be? Because we moved to Singapore!


I don't know what your current knowledge of Singapore is (because, let's face it, before we moved to Southeast Asia, MY knowledge of Singapore was that there was a drink named after it and that they caned people. Yes, I know.  I KNOW.)

Anyway, I believe that I have made my feeling about Singapore known in the past, but now we live here, so life is closer to ideal than it has been in a while. I WILL miss you, Jakarta, sort of.

But let's get back to the art of moving, shall we?

Moving countries involves what I call The Mother of All To-Do Lists that starts about 5-6 months before you actually move. Now,  I LOVE me a good To-Do List or five,  but this one just about kicked my ass. Here are a FEW items that were on my Mother of All To-Do Lists:

1.) Contact several shipping companies. Have them come over to our house and look at everything that we MIGHT have wanted to take with us, then tell us that it would take a million boxes to fit it all and send us an insane estimate that was more than the cost of my first new car.

2.) Realize that at least half of our stuff won't fit into the size of condo that we will likely live in in Singapore, so decide which stuff stays and which goes. Involve children in this. Put things into "Give away" boxes, only to have crying children go back an hour later to retrieve them, because apparently they just CANNOT live without the talking frog that has sat, ignored, in a basket for the past two years.

3.) Sell, deliver and coordinate pick-ups of the half of the stuff that you did manage to give away.

4.) Contact pet relocators about 10-year-old cat who has moved countries with us three times so far. Receive estimate that cat will cost more than four rooms full of furniture to move, AND will be required to stay in quarantine in Singapore for a month.

5.) Secretly curse cat for being such a tolerant pet and putting up with the near-constant abuse of children and toddlers in the house over the years.

Such abuse includes- but is not limited to- being picked up and carried around, being laid upon, being kissed in the face far too long and far too many times, being woken at all times of sleep because some tiny human has decided that it was Snuggle Time, and having dry food mixed in the water dish because some unsteady child has decided that feeding the cat is HER job.

6.) Secretly curse the 2-year-old for loving the damn cat so much. Sigh and add astronomical price of shipping cat 90 minutes away to the already-way-too-huge Moving Budget.

7.) Take said cat to several vet appointments for shots and blood tests. Then have cat shippers tell you that the information which they provided you was, in fact, completely WRONG and that your cat will have to remain in Jakarta for 6 MONTHS before she is able to relocate to Singapore.

8.) Scramble to find friend who is willing to host and care for cat for an astoundingly inconvenient amount of time. Find one and be forever in their debt.

9.) Deal with the bureaucracy involved in leaving Jakarta. This is equivalent to banging your head against the wall for days at a time, until you wish you would just pass out already and be done with the misery.

10.) Have to fire nanny during the last week of school and therefore deal with 2-year-old at home during the two full days that the shippers spent packing and moving out all contents of the house.

 I don't know if you have ever sat on the floor in the corner of an empty room while simultaneously attempting to entertain a 2-year-old and answer questions from packers who don't speak English about what goes and what stays, but it just might push you over the edge.

Like I said, these are just a small sample of what was involved in packing up and leaving Jakarta. And then my head exploded.

No, not really. Well, maybe. Or at least it sure as hell felt like it.

However, survive it we did, and THEN began the next chapter of the summer: Settling in.

Settling in can be fun, but it can also involve 10,000 trips to Ikea and a constant re-evaluation of the budget because those 200 things that you didn't really know that you needed? Well, you need them. And you need them NOW.

It also involved living out of duffle bags for a few weeks, which might not seem like a big deal to normal people, but to people with small kids, it is like camping in the middle of Alaska with a pair of socks and a can of soup. In winter.

All that careful planning and packing that I'd done? Well, let's just say that if I HAD the energy to laugh, I would. The good news was that, since we were moving to Singapore, we could go out and buy whatever the kids were lacking, but that takes us back to the previous paragraph regarding the budget.

In addition, settling in was a time of exploring our new environment and appreciating its newness. Water from the tap! Sleeping all night without being woken by mosquitoes even ONCE! City buses! Public Libraries (AKA Free Books!)! Traffic rules...that are followed! Children's Theater! Wine in every grocery store -that one was pretty much just for me, but still!

It's all here, and we all just drank it in. However, we did miss many things about Jakarta: our school, our friends, our colleagues, so it wasn't ALL sunshine and roses. There were a few sighs, and some "When are we going home?" questions to deal with, but eventually we moved into our new condo and everyone adjusted.

So, there you go. The past 6 months in a nutshell. I didn't even go into the starting a new job and new schools, the action-packed visit from my parents, the week that I spent in Single Momdom while Jabiz went on a work trip to Ireland (I KNOW!), OR the fact that I was laptop-less during the summer and relied solely on my iPad, which is great, but on which I cannot type more than a few sentences without people suspecting that a drunk monkey somehow got hold of it and knocked out an incoherent paragraph.

BUT, things are sorted now, life is calming down in some ways, though also frantically picking up in others, and we are getting into a good rhythm.

I already have dozens of blog posts in my head, but needed to get this one out before any of the others can manifest themselves. Life in Singapore is a wild ride!