I’m a bit of an anxious person by nature. After my mom left, and I was alone with a newborn, my anxiety shot my imagination with a hefty dose of steroids. I was just fine with the baby. I was more worried about things like becoming violently ill, fainting, and drowning in the toilet or tripping on my way to stir the spaghetti and falling face-first into the pot of boiling water. I even refused to go to the mailbox for so long that the post office began holding my mail because I was afraid that I would slip on the ice and crack my head open, and then the dogs would become so hungry that they would eat the baby. Yes, I’m serious. (more…)
Posts by Lesley Bolton:
For the past two years, Story has woken up as a different animal every day. Each morning, I must drape part of myself over her covered form to pretend I am sitting on an egg. She twitches just slightly, but this is just her preparing to hatch. Apparently hatching from an egg is a rather drawn-out process. After some more twitching and wriggling, a hand or foot appears, and as the mama, I have to wait patiently as my little one struggles to release herself from the clutches of the eggshell.
Finally, she emerges, and I ooh and ahh over my most precious offspring. (Story whispers what creature she is for the day.) Hugs, kisses, and general celebration ensue for a respectable period of time, and then I must growl and snap at the zookeeper in order to escape the zoo with my baby.
Side note: For those of you wondering, yes, Story and I have had the conversation about which types of babies hatch from eggs and which do not. However, after having gone through what I’m guessing is every single type of hatchling, Story got bored and threw “magic mammals” into the mix—those capable of hatching from an egg.
This backstory is important for you to understand how seriously Story considers these transformations. She is whatever creature she has chosen for the day for a good period of time, whether at home, school, the grocery store, church, wherever. She once was placed in timeout because she refused to follow the teacher’s instruction to sit on her pockets. You see, snails don’t have pockets.
One day Story scratched at the back door. She had been playing outside as a troodon, I believe, this time. She let me know in troodon-speak that she was ready to come back inside because she had gone pee outside. Was she just playing, or had she really done her business outdoors for all the neighbors to see? I was afraid to ask. I didn’t have to; her smile told me the answer.
She gathered plastic food and “supplies” and headed back outdoors to explore the jungle. I watched her dart from bush to tree all over the yard, stopping occasionally to scavenge while keeping a sharp eye out for predators and making horrendous noises. From the window, I marveled at both her imagination and energy level. After a while, she scratched at the back door again. I opened the door for her and she proudly exclaimed, “I pooped outside!”
No, she didn’t. I stood my ground in disbelief. “No, you didn’t.”
“Oh yes I did! Troodons potty outside.” And I knew she did.
I quickly looked around. Had anyone witnessed this? Would Child Protective Services be knocking at my door? I ushered Story inside.
Story and I had a long discussion about the rules of the house for all creatures, whether in Story form or not. I still haven’t been able to bring myself to poop-scoop my daughter’s mess from the backyard. Something within me is abhorrently against it. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Lessons learned: When your daughter is an animal, DO NOT let her in the backyard without close, attached-at-the-hip supervision; be okay with calling your toilet the litterbox; and always expect the unexpected, no matter how disgusting.
If you read my “Nurturing Your Space” article, you know that I had a bit of an episode of temporary insanity that resulted in the removal of the carpet in my dining room. I was down to the subflooring without any immediate plan to re-floor the room. Ali and I decided to take advantage of this transition period and allow the Fey to let their inner artists go wild on the subflooring.
The date was set, the supplies were purchased, the girls were ecstatic, and then came the forecast. So much snow! Ali likely wouldn’t be able to make it. Ali and I worried about our well-being if the Fey were unable to Picasso the floor as they had so highly anticipated. Instead of taking that risk, we decided to have a sleepover. What resulted was the best snow day ever!
The girls were still giggling in Story’s room when I finally gave up and went to bed. I have no idea how much longer they lasted; I was just so grateful it was giggles instead of grumbles. Of course, at some point in the middle of the night, the girls got into bed with their respective mamas, but really, that was an unexpectedly great first sleepover night.
The next day held lots of memories for us all. We started the day off right with sugar: pancakes. We moved outside to play. Maddie had her first up-close-and-personal experience with snow. She seemed unimpressed. Riley and Story made the extra-slippery slide into a luge event, which ended in a snow bank. Snow angels, snowball fights, and snow tag were all favored games. Ali and I were more interested inbuilding a snowman. Riley and Story were interested in eating our snowman. Of course, I couldn’t allow this, so it became a game of the Fey sneaking up and stealing a bite of the poor snowman and my pushing them down into the snow.
Wet, cold, and happily exhausted, we headed indoors, but not before we stopped to collect snow for snow ice cream! My grandma made snow ice cream with the first snow fall every year, and I thought it was high time I introduced it to the Fey. See the recipe in Fey Food.
Finally, it was the moment they’d been waiting for: painting party! Story and Riley each got her own set of paints and brushes; Maddie got her own set of paint markers for little hands. All washable, of course. Don’t you just love the word washable? There was only one rule: You can only get paint on the floor. That lasted all of two seconds, and then we had to add another rule: You can only get paint on the floor and yourselves. Suddenly, the floor didn’t look so inviting.
I started to intervene, but Ali gave me that “let it go, Lesley” look. And I did. More paint ended up on their bodies than the floor—even the baby face-planted in the paint—but these faces made it all okay.
Lessons learned: Choose your words carefully; all instructions will be taken literally if they so suit the Fey; the best-laid plans of mamas and Fey often go astray; and the best days are often those unplanned.
“Mom, the baby likes it when I spit on her!” I could do little but inwardly sigh. We were on our first outing as “mom friends”; I didn’t know Ali very well, and I was just sure that after this trip I wouldn’t get the opportunity to get to know her better. After all, my child was spitting on her child. Granted, Story’s version of spitting was blowing raspberries, and Riley did, in fact, seem to like it. But still.
Cruising up highway 37, I kept a close watch on the speedometer. If I went over the speed limit, would Ali think I was endangering her child? I looked in the rearview mirror to check on Story’s behavior, praying she wasn’t she still spitting on the baby. But she wasn’t there! My heart stopped for the agonizing full second and a half it took to remember that I had moved her car seat from the middle to the side to make room for Riley’s car seat. Just as I had started to normalize, I heard a click and a roar. An alarm flashed on my dashboard. Story had opened her door. With visions of children being sucked from the backseat as though out of a plane, I pulled over to a too-quick stop on the shoulder. “Story!” I yelled. I’m not sure what else came out of my mouth, but I didn’t dare face Ali’s eyes, which I just knew had to be full of judgment. What she must have thought of me!
The girls were hungry. I won good-mom points this time: I had packed a snack. Of course, Ali had too. All was quiet for a minute or two, and then Riley made a little sound. She was gesturing for Story’s Goldfish. Story was quick to interpret: “Riley said she doesn’t want any of my Goldfish, and I can have them all.” Riley disagreed. Story refused to share. I spoke harshly. There was much grumbling. And then we were finally there: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
Trepidation overwhelmed me; this was a bad idea. And I was right to worry. Story ran away from me several times, refused to leave the Dinosphere, had a meltdown like I’d never witnessed, would not share toys (or space), and had no patience for the things Riley wanted to look at. What was worse was my attitude. I was so worried about what Ali would think, I acted like a different person, and the result was failure. I failed to experience the wonders with my daughter and share her joy; I failed to get to know Ali in any real way, and I failed to show Riley how much fun I can really be.
As we were leaving, Ali, seemingly oblivious to my utter shame, announced, “Well, that wasn’t so bad. We only had a few meltdowns!” I looked at her in disbelief, but she had a genuine smile. That’s when I knew that this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Lessons learned: Always bring more than one baggie of Goldfish. Always engage the child locks. Always anticipate a meltdown. And always, always stay true to yourself and your child.
Now, let’s hear from you! What are some of your mom friend stories?
I get some pretty interesting looks when I introduce my daughter. “Dory?” they say, trying to force a name that their brains can recognize as a name. “No. Story.” I smile and wait patiently as they, maybe not accept, but at least comprehend it. “Oh . . . How do you spell that?”
I took a risk with Story’s name. I put a lot of pressure on the poor kid. What if she grew up to be as dull as a dormouse? What if she had nothing at all to say? And what if she never learned to read and write a story? An illiterate Story.
I needn’t have worried. From the outset, I knew I had chosen correctly. Story was a very verbal baby. Not having been around many babies, I thought all her noises were the norm. Not so much. She didn’t cry; she negotiated. She didn’t sigh; she sang. She didn’t snore; she cooed. Constant sound. As any good mother would do, I quickly learned to tune most of it out. (Of course, I became immediately fearful if the sound stopped, but luckily that didn’t happen often.)
One day while shopping and trying to tune out my poor daughter so I could concentrate, I suddenly realized that there was a specific pattern to her noises. Story was alternating between a high-pitched babble with an inflection of fear and a deep, gruff, almost-roaring sound. As I listened and watched her most-expressive face, I realized she was telling a story. A little girl was being accosted by a monster.
It’s impossible for me to put these sounds into words, so have a listen. First, the little girl:
Now the monster:
Before I reveal the ending to my tale, let me tell you what Story’s middle name is. It is Fae. Fae is the root word for fairy, so Story Fae is my little fairy tale. All modern fairy tales have a happy ending, and every mom wants that for her child, right? Well, it seems that Story prefers the grim, oral versions of old.
The little girl’s voice grew softer and softer as her pleas died with a slump of Story’s shoulders. In the next moment, the monster RAWRed triumphantly and my precious cherub-faced little girl laughed wickedly.
Story is now five years old, and the sounds have turned into words. So many words. She has embraced her name with a fervor that I could only dream of applying to my life. Still she cannot write, but at least I know she can tell a story.