I have a couple of ‘real’ posts I want to write- hopefully soon- two about closing perspectives from our trip, and two more about coming back home again, but I’ve been up since 1:30 a.m. for the second day in a row, and my brain is mush. Poor E.’s tummy has gone from bad to worse, and we’ll be taking him to see a doctor on Monday if it doesn’t get significantly better over the weekend. He is still bright and eating and drinking- it’s just that everything he eats or drinks immediately goes straight through him. He ate a pancake and a half at breakfast this morning, but needed three diaper changes to get through the meal. Poor little guy. He also suddenly looks incredibly thin- he has been a lightweight for a while now: he weighed 11.5 kg at his two year appointment in late April, and he was still 11.5 kg when we weighed him just before we left our flat in mid-August (to see if we could no longer rear face the U.K. carseat since it only rear-faced to 13 kg). But he’s looked healthy- long and lean, yes, but clearly well and happy and thriving, with muscles on his little legs, and bright, engaging eyes.
Right now he just looks sick. He has huge bags under his eyes, and the tummy bug has meant he’s dropped weight quickly, so his ribs and his shoulder blades and his sternum are all much more prominent than they should be. He’s clumsy and unsure on his feet because of the jet lag. We went to the park yesterday afternoon, and E. just wanted to sit on the swing and have me give him a blast-off every three minutes or so, and the rest of the time he just sat there, while the swing gradually wound down, basically comatose. He was ZONKED. One of the other mothers commented on how calm he was, and I felt I had to explain why because, to my eyes, he really did not look normal. Certainly not normal if you know E., but I think any parent would have looked at him yesterday and wondered what was going on. He did love being at the park and it was important to get some sunshine and fresh air to help with the jet lag. And while last night still had its moments once he first popped up crying at 1:30 a.m., he stayed in his room the entire time, and I did get him back to sleep by 5 a.m. He slept until 7, so we’re getting there. The old saying “It takes a day per hour of time change” proved (much to our distress) to be very accurate when we came back from Oz last summer, so hopefully we’ll be pretty much sorted by Monday given we’re only having to adjust by five hours rather than fourteen.
He’s clearly having a bit of trouble adjusting to being back in the big city too. Yesterday, so many of the things that used to be his favourites caused him grief. I put on laundry (our washing machine and dryer are in our kitchen on the main floor, so you can’t escape them): “Washing machina no go to moon!” (he hates the sound of the spin cycle). It was garbage day: “Garbage trucks too yowd (loud)!” We went for a walk in our neighbourhood: “Car coming! Another car coming! Mummy on street! Stay on sidewalk!” About the only things I can say have been unqualified successes are the garbage truck he was given as a birthday present by one of his little friends, the cats, and the stroller. Given he’s been so out of it and unwell, we’ve been using the stroller to go to the park, but it’s clearly a distance he can walk now, so I’ve already started to explain to him how the stroller will be going away for trips to the park. I’m undecided about what to do with it generally- we don’t own a car, and I can’t expect him to walk 2 km in each direction if I’m running errands (not to mention it would take about a billion years for him to walk that distance), but at the same time, it feels so ponderous and bulky after a summer using only the Ergo, and he looks somehow wrong, like he shouldn’t be in it. I think if we had a 2.0 now, and we had one of those little ride-on steps that attaches to the stroller that he could stand on when he got tired, that would be ideal. But the stroller itself, even though he loves it, just seems a bit too young. I noticed at the park this morning that the twins in our neighbourhood who are about six months older than E. are no longer in a stroller but walk to the park with their nanny (and twins with a nanny is really indicative of our neighbourhood). I need to think about it, and see what Q. thinks. We’ve already agreed that E. will be walking to and from nursery school once he starts, as that really is a distance he can manage quite easily.
It’s been interesting coming back to the house. I feel like we have SO MUCH STUFF. Our flat was pretty minimalistic, and while that was annoying at points (mainly when trying to use the kitchen), it also had some benefits. It was much smaller, so easier to keep clean. It was all on one level, so no stairs to worry about. It had easy access to an enclosed little garden so E. could run in and out (and in, and out) all day long.
Right now I’m a bit overwhelmed by our house. Our house/cat-sitter did a good job looking after everything, but you can tell that the house hasn’t had a deep clean in a while. And E. had a birthday party
right before the day I left, and Q. and my Dad didn’t really try to organize his toys, so there is a LOT of stuff in the living room. Probably not a lot of stuff by many people’s standards, but before we went away I was rotating E’s toys regularly, and he would have one ride-on toy, his container of Megabloks, his wooden farm, and then a selection of different toys (vehicles, musical instruments, puzzles, blocks, etc.) on his set of low shelves, as well as three shelves of books on one of our narrow Billy bookcases. And that was it. Right now there’s just too much out- too many little cars and trucks, too many toys that probably aren’t all that developmentally appropriate anymore, etc. I want to get back to rotating things around, but I need to have a bit more of a think about how I’ll do this, since he now has an exceptional memory. Case in point- yesterday morning he put his toy trolley car in the loft of his farm, and then just before dinner became exceptionally concerned that he didn’t know where it was. He’d been playing with all his other vehicles all day, but he knew that one was missing. Maybe it’s not too cluttered if all the little vehicles are in one basket on his shelf, and all his Schleich animals are in another, but I don’t want him to have so much out that he gets overwhelmed and isn’t sure what to play with.
My study is a disaster. We’ve unpacked, and I’ve sorted the mail, but everything work-related I just put in the study to deal with later, so now I can’t see my desk. Plus the cats’ litter boxes were in there for the last four months and the litter we use seems so much more dustier than it used to be, so everything has dust on it.
We just seem to have STUFF everywhere. Books stacked on other books on the shelves. Kitchen cupboards crammed full. I wanted to clean out the two storage closets in our basement last winter but we never managed it. We’re going to have to get them done this fall- one of my sisters is moving back to our city, so I’m hoping to lean on her to amuse E. for a morning while Q. and I tackle them. I’m hoping seeing the house through new eyes will help us streamline things a bit better, and living without things for four months will make it easier to judge whether we really need them at all. I’m even considering trying to pare down my book collection which, if you know me, is completely out of character.
I’m very aware that this need for order and this desire to clean and streamline is another method I’m using to cope with my anxiety over the fall. I know I think I will feel better facing the chaos and stress that is coming if our house is clean and well organized. But to some extent Q. feels the same way- he commented that the house just looks a bit crowded and dirty, and had suggestions for putting some deep cleaning into our regular routine (as we are normally very good at the surface requirements and not as good at making time for the other details).
It is fun to step back and assess our house now that E. is almost two and a half, rather than not-quite two. I realized this morning that we no longer needed to store a large number of our DVDs on top of the bookcase because E. would rip apart their cardboard covers. And then I realized that E. probably wouldn’t even take them off the shelves anymore, which used to be one of his all-time favourite things to do every morning starting from when he first was able to crawl at eight and a half months.
So I gleefully put all the DVDs back on the shelves while E. was eating his way through his pancakes.
And then I (even more gleefully) sorted them according to genre. The categories basically boiled down to: Science Fiction and Fantasy (heavy emphasis on LOTR and Star Trek); British Comedy; Adaptations of Jane Austen, Richard Curtis films, and other British Rom-Coms; Family and Animated; Heist Films; Horse Films; and various TV shows, along with a few other bits and pieces.
Q. just shook his head when I bounced into the kitchen to tell him what I’d just done (hey- I’d been awake since 1:30 a.m.- it didn’t take much to excite me). But I was thrilled. Order restored.
We’ve made a number of changes that we probably would have made at some point over the summer, but being away has made it so much more obvious that things were set up for a much younger child.
We’re going to get down the large paintings that used to hang on our dining room wall and have been put away since E. could crawl since he would have been able to pull them down on himself.
We’re keeping the stair gates (we have seriously scary stairs) but are leaving the bottom one open.
We’ve put away the high chair and the drop sheets we used to put under it at every meal to try to protect the carpet (WHO puts carpet in a dining room??!!).
I’ve moved all of E’s plates and bowls and cups to a low shelf so he can choose for himself what he wants to use at every meal, and have done the same with his shorts and his t-shirts in the dresser in his room.
I need to buy stepstools so E. can reach the sink easily.
We have a little boy in this house now, not a baby, not even a toddler anymore.
And there are some definite freedoms that come with that.