I’ve been a BoyMom for over 4 years now and I’m still not sick of playing cars on the floor, Lego (disclaimer: I haven’t  stepped on yet barefoot yet, so talk to me after that happens), and all-things-Superhero.

Amy from BoyMom Designs sent me a shirt that reminds me of all the hours spent helping Jax determine which car is the fastest, rolling cars through each room of our house to see which floor surface is best for races, and choosing which car Jax might someday own from among the 50 or 60 cars he has collected so far (the purple one, of course).

boymomshirt

This was the best pic I could get today. We parents know how challenging it can sometimes be to get everyone to remain calm enough to snap a non-blurry pic!

My new BoyMom t-shirt features 5 rows of fast toy cars, from red to orange to yellow. The logo across the top made me smile and think of Jax. I threw a cardi over it, paired it with some skinny jeans & Uggs, and I’m referring to it as my “mom uniform” on this chilly & chill Saturday afternoon. There’s a turkey roasting in the oven and a Disney movie on the tv. No, it isn’t Cars, but good idea!

Amy & I are offering one of these cute cars t-shirts to one of you and a 20% discount code for the entire site to all of you. You can enter up to 3 times to win the cars t-shirt shown above:

  1. Follow @boymomdesigns on Twitter. Come back to this post & comment to let us know you’ve followed. Leave your twitter name.
  2. Like BOTH James & Jax and BoyMom on Facebook. Comment below to let us know you’ve done this.
  3. Tell us about any one of your favorite parenting moments in a comment below.

One winner will be selected at random on Monday, December 2. In the meantime, please head over to BoyMom to check out all Amy has to offer–her store isn’t just for moms of boys! While you’re there, read her story; she is an inspiration!

Yes, my boys can be dangerous, destructive, messy, exasperating, and smelly — but the good news is that they are only that way some of the time. The rest of the time they are superheroes in the making; respectful and honest do-gooders, defenders of the universe, and best of all always loving. The kind of boys that will grow up to be good men. Of all the jobs in the world, being a boymom might be the most challenging and the most fulfilling. ~ Amy

Don’t forget to use your 20% discount code: U9X5JC.

UPDATE: Angela, you’re the winner of the BoyMom Cars t-shirt! I’ll be in touch with you soon!

Yesterday was the first day of pre-K for Jax, and it went well–way better than I expected. He seemed a little nervous, but in that way only a mother can see. He didn’t cry or ask to not go. He stood in line with his classmates as everyone figured out where to go and waited for the day to begin, and I welled up with tears I tried to hide from him (and everyone else).

firstday

Two hours later, I picked him up and we walked home for a brief layover before he went to daycare and I went to work. I’d taken a half day so I could see him off in the morning and also pick him up when school let out. He told me he made a friend and that he would have made more but he couldn’t remember the other kids’ names! He was excited about his teacher, whom we’ll call Miss R on the blog, because she’d given each student a baggie of candy along with a cute poem about the first day of class and a juice box. On the very first day of school, his teacher already taught me an important lesson–Candy makes everything more bearable!

candybag

On the way to daycare, where he moved into the 4-year-old room earlier this week (we’ll call that teacher Miss M), he told me how much he doesn’t like his new room and how his bestie there isn’t coping well with the change either. Yet he went without too much fuss.

Today was a different story, though. Today was the first full day of pre-K (which is really only 3 hours) and my first day of spending my hour lunchbreak commuting to the school to pick him up and drive him over to the daycare in the next town (where he’s been going since before he turned 2) and then myself back to work. Until now, I’ve been spending my lunchbreaks–pretty much my only free time–by taking walks with my friends. Granting myself daily time for fresh air, sunlight, exercise, and socializing has been so good for my mental well-being. But now that Jax is in a half-day pre-K program, my only option is to give up my lunchbreaks in order to drive him from pre-K to daycare. Fortunately, I work 10-15 minutes away, so I assumed I could accomplish the pick-up and drop-off and get back to work within an hour, and I tested that hypothesist today.

The commute part of the hour went really well. It turns out that I’ll have 15 minutes to walk at the park nearby while I wait for Jax to be let out of school, as long as I don’t hit any weird traffic between work and school.

The pick up went well, too. Jax was happy to see me, and even happier when our neighbor, also in pre-K but in a different class, gave him a kiss when she saw him–his second one from her today!

The drop-off at daycare today didn’t go well at all. In fact, it went so NOT well that two teachers had to assist so I could escape from his clingy clutches and get back to work on time. The focus of the brief time we were together at daycare turned from a pleasant hello in the middle of the day into an attempt to escape as quickly as possible without risking damage to my outfit. I didn’t get to say goodbye with a kiss like always. When I turned back at the door to peek at him, he had his arm strewn across the lunch table, his head down on top of it.

It was pretty sad.

Someone please tell me it’s not going to be like this every school day until he starts full-day kindergarten? He’ll soon adjust to our weird new routine, right?

 

appleBack to school is upon us, and since this is our first time doing it, it’s been quite an adjustment, and I don’t mean just for Jax! Now that we’re in the midst of such a huge change, I realize how “easy” we’ve had it these past 4 years of tantrums, poor sleep, picky eating…. For nearly 4 years, Jax has spent every weekday being cared for in an environment I’ve selected myself, where I can visit on a whim or call or email and receive immediate feedback about how his day’s going. Now, I can’t help but feel like I’ll be kissing him goodbye in the morning and tossing him out into the big world to fend for himself.

I know that is far from the reality of pre-K. I just have to remind myself of this fact many times a day.

Today was pre-K orientation at the elementary school, and we got to see his new classroom and meet his teacher and her assistant. Both of the women seemed very nurturing and kind. I think Jax will thrive under their care; the orientation alleviated a little of my anxiety and probably much of Jackson’s, too. He was a rockstar and enjoyed the time we spent in his new classroom.

However, last night at bedtime he began to cry about all the changes happening at once. At his daycare, where he will continue to go half days until he starts Kindergarten next fall, he was moved to the 4-year-old class yesterday. Last night, he told me he doesn’t like his new room at daycare and he doesn’t want to grow up. He misses his previous teachers and misses the routine they cultivated and upheld daily over the past year. It doesn’t help that his best friends are moving on to other places, at least for part of the day. His worrying about daycare then turned into crying about not wanting to start pre-K at the elementary school.  And then just when I thought he was finally asleep, he cried again. This time, he said, “Mommy, I don’t want to die” and then “I’ll miss you when you die, Mom.”

For the past month since he overheard a conversation about death, Jax has been asking questions about it. It’s been one of his favorite topics of conversation at bedtime especially. He’s asked me if we’ll die together, if I’ll die first, why people die, what happens when people are dead… you name it.  I’ve tried my best to explain death to him calmly while also reassuring him that we’ll be around a very long time. I’m also trying to hide my own anxiety about death and illness.

Through all this, I’m getting a taste of what my mother must have gone through with me when I was an anxious child! It’s no exaggeration when I admit I spent a lot of my childhood constantly worrying about death—usually mine or my parents’—but I’m not sure how much of that I expressed outwardly. To see this beginning in Jax suddenly has been shocking and painful, not to mention difficult. What does one say to comfort a child who brings up the issue of death almost daily for a month? I feel like I’ve said all the right, comforting things, yet he’s still worried and I’m still floundering to make us both feel better.

I want to cling to him and never let him go. Neither one of us is ready for all this change. Yet here it is. And we’ll get through it, just like everyone else does. It’s just that seeing Jax worry about all this change reminds me so much of myself as a child. The last thing I want for Jax is a lifetime of anxiety about change. Change is constant, and anxiety is a beast. It’s taken me 35 years to get a handle on my own anxiety. I want better for Jax. I hope with all my heart that he doesn’t turn into the anxious child I was for so many years—until I turned into an anxious adult.

photo by: Micky**

Now seemed like a good time to introduce my almost-4-year-old to some of my and my husband’s favorite sports to play–soccer and tennis. We aren’t very good at either, but it’s fun enough to get outside and kick around or hit some balls (making complete idiots of our nonathletic selves). With all the sunshine and mild weather we’ve been fortunate to have the past few days (shhh, don’t jinx it), we decided to make an effort to get outside as much as possible this week. We decided to teach Jax how to play soccer and how to hit a tennis ball.

The other day, we grabbed a kid-sized soccer ball and spent an hour at our favorite park. After about 5 minutes, Jax was more interested in the pile of mulch towering over our heads a few feet away from the field. He made it his mission to find the perfect wood chip, despite our efforts to make soccer seem interesting and fun.

soccer attemptWhen we’re in our backyard, he’s a mini-soccer fan, seemingly drawn to goalkeeping in particular. However, when we place him in a new environment, he’s distracted and more interested in exploring than in playing soccer. In a way, his distraction and desire to explore is really cute. His daycare teachers call him “Nature Boy.”

With soccer crossed off the list, last night we ran to Dick’s to pick up a kid-sized tennis racquet and some balls. As soon as we walked in the door, Jax ran over to the teeball bats and excitedly picked one up. Within 30 seconds, the kid was outfitted in a helmet and glove as well! This drew laughter from several customers and employees–he was seriously adorable, and I wish I’d taken a photo! Maybe baseball will be his sport (if he plays anything)! We told him we’ll let him try teeball when the time comes.

We eventually left Dick’s with our gear and hit the park near our house, where there are tennis courts that are usually unoccupied. The husband explained to Jax how to hold a racquet correctly and I tried to teach him when to swing it to actually make contact. And he did–once!

Five minutes later, what do you think Jax was doing? Sitting on the edge of the court, playing with sticks and grass. He’d said, “I’s done” and walked off with his cute little yellow racquet.

tennis attemptMaybe he’s just not ready for sports yet. Or maybe he’ll take after his parents and be artistic instead of athletic. Time will tell.

Do your kids play sports? When did you introduce sports? Which did you play with them?

 

I’m SO thankful for parents who speak openly about their struggles as parents, in particular as parents of children ages 3 to 4. I wish more of us would share our horror stores of toddler parenting, so that fewer of us would feel like parental failures!

You cannot convince me there is any harder, more challenging age than this. At least, I hope you won’t even try, because I can’t bear to hear there is a harder age unless you first tell me there’s a decade of sheer bliss before it!

Age 3 has been…interesting. I read recently that between the ages of 3 and 4, a child’s vocabulary explodes from 500 words to 1200 words. That’s more than double, meaning they have a whole new vocabulary for expressing all the ways in which they’re displeased! You’d think this would mean the end of the tantrums that peak between ages 2 and 3, right?

Notsomuch. At least not for us.

The other day, Jax tantrummed because I wouldn’t let him bring a dead (crispy) worm into the house to keep as his pet. The next night, he tantrummed because I didn’t eat the ginger that came with my sushi.

Reading back on those sentences, I laugh a little at how absurd these scenarios sound. But if you have a toddler, you’re probably shaking your head and saying, “Yup, sounds about right.”

Living with a toddler is like living with an adorable but psychotic dictator. You just never know when the most trivial thing will set him off and what punishment they’ll dole out when they’re unhappy. You pray it will be quick and painless. It rarely is.

One minute, they’re playing happily on the swingset in the backyard, and then suddenly they’re charging you with their fists ready to flail, and you have no idea why. And then just as suddenly and dramatically as it began, it’s over.

Post-tantrum make-up session

Post-tantrum make-up session

That’s what some days are like. Other days are perfect—although I suspect my standard of “perfect” has dramatically decreased to mean any day that doesn’t end with me in tears, hiding in the bathroom, clutching my wine glass tightly while praying for an easy bedtime.

Like you, I adore my child beyond words. I can’t spend enough time with him! I think of him constantly when we aren’t together. Parenthood has been the wildest, most awesome ride of my entire life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and don’t regret my choice to become a parent for even a second. And I enjoy more moments than I don’t.

But that doesn’t make it any less challenging and crazy.  And when, during those moments, I vent to my friends about my lunatic child or I pour myself a second glass of wine, that doesn’t make me any less awesome a mother. It makes me normal.