Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm Afraid We (The Parents) Might Have Peaked at 11...

Bubbles turned 11 last Wednesday. How in the HELL did THAT happen??? I swear she was 6 months old when I went to bed on Tuesday, and somehow I woke up to an 11 year old…

Speaking of which…Bubbles and I had a major fight a couple weeks ago. Major. Like Mean Mommy made a guest appearance (actually…she was had the starring role I’m afraid) and said some things I wish I could take back. In turn, Hormonal Bubbles decided to join in the conversation and push all of Mean Mommy’s buttons. It was not a pretty evening at the Drama House, and if Bear hadn’t been there to remind us both that we love each other, it could have been so much worse. Anyway, I felt horrible all evening long, and it just got worse after Bubbles went to bed. So, even though she had been asleep for over an hour, I decided to go up and try to make up with her. I climbed into her bed, snuggled up to her, and gently woke her up. Then we spent a good bit of time talking things out and making our respective apologies. Afterwards, I knew she needed to go back to sleep, but I just couldn’t leave her. It felt so good to just hold my baby again. I pulled her close to me, kissed her head, and asked her how she got to be so big. I said, “Weren’t you only 6 months old yesterday?” She giggled and said, “No Mommy, I’ve been big for a long time now.” I just hugged her all the tighter and thought…Nu-uh!

Anyway, Bubbles has always had a love of art, and she happens to have quite a bit of talent to go with that love. She is also learning how to bake. So this year for her birthday, we decided to step away from getting her more toys (something neither of my kids need!) and focus on those two interests.

Through a special school program, she was introduced to scrapbooking, and though the program ended up not following through on the idea, her interest was peaked. Scrapbooking isn’t something I have ever made time for, so I am kinda clueless on the subject. However, Totally Me happens to make a very nice kit to teach young girls how to get started. So that was on the top of my list of things to find.

We decided that if she was going to get into scrapbooking, she was going to need a way to get pictures. And rather than never knowing where she has hauled MY camera off to, we decided that at 11 she was ready for her own digital camera. This was the hardest gift to find. We didn’t want to spend too much in case she drops or loses it, but in the aftermath of Christmas, the stores hadn’t restocked yet and apparently the cheap cameras sold really well this year. It took trips to 4 stores before we were able to find one in the price range we were looking for.

Bubbles has many aspirations for her adult life, veterinarian and artist being the most often talked about. Recently, she has honed the artist idea into a specific field. She thinks that she would like to be a clothing designer. And if her sketches are any indication, she might have a really good future there! I found a clothing designer stencil set that I thought would be just perfect for her. They also had a makeup/hair design stencil set so I grabbed that too.

Lastly, we decided that since Bubbles is doing more and more baking these days, she might like her own tools of the trade. We got her several items…a mixing bowl, measuring cups, measuring spoons, etc. The highlight of this gift ended up being the whisk, rubber scraper, spoon set that we got her. The handles are shaped like human bodies with the tool part acting as the head. She was HIGHLY amused by the fact that they had little butts with “booty cracks” and all! LOL!

Normally, I wouldn’t go into so much detail about the presents we got the kids. Birthdays are about more than presents. They are about honoring one of the moments that made the family what it is…about honoring the existence of someone you hold dear.

However, this year, the present signified something very important to Bubbles. Something I don’t think Bear and I really realized we were doing until she pointed it out. This was the first year that we gave Bubble “grown up gifts” instead of toys and other trinkets of childhood. In her mind we acknowledged the end of her childhood and the start of a whole new chapter. And this meant more to her than anything else we could have done.

She must have thanked me for her gifts several dozen times before she finally found the words to express what those gifts meant to her. And though I am nowhere NEAR ready for her to stop being my little baby, I am so glad that we were able to show her that we will support her growth no matter how hard it is for us.

Her birthday slumber party was this past weekend (and the reason that I waited so long to post about her birthday), and with that we gave her another nod towards independence. For every slumber party before this one, I have stayed with the girls until they were asleep and then my sister has slept in the room with them. This year, my sister couldn’t make it, and I allowed (read: encouraged) them to kick me out well before they were ready to go to sleep. I figured it was time for her to experience a real slumber party where the girls could feel free to gossip about whatever they wanted without me listening in.

I know this is just the beginning of many changes in our lives as she maneuvers her way through the ‘tween and then (shudders) teen years. I only hope we can show her as much support throughout the rest of the ride.

And I have to admit I am a little worried about future birthdays…It’s gonna be TOUGH to top 11!

*As you can see, this picture was actually taken last April, but she hasn't changed THAT much, and it is one of my all time favorites!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm a Big Kid Now!

Milestones are important to most parents. First smile, first tooth, first step, etc. We often have differing opinions on which milestones are most significant, but we look for and document each one. They are proof that our babies are growing as they are supposed to. Proof that we are doing something right…that we aren’t completely failing at this parenting gig. Babies on the other hand, are too busy being babies and discovering the world to recognize these moments as anything other than something else they can do…more freedom!

By the time our babies become kids, we are focusing more on behavior and school and wondering what the hell happened to our little babies to pay much attention to the daily firsts, but they do still occur. First slumber party, first time getting to place a phone call on their own, first time on the internet, etc. Now it is the child’s turn to get excited about the milestones.

Animal turned 8 on Monday, and with his birthday he reached a new milestone. He no longer has to use a booster seat when riding in the car. This was THE BEST part of turning eight as far as he was concerned!

The funny thing is that we didn’t really expect it to be a big deal. When Bubbles was about 3 or 4, the laws changed when it came to booster seats. They decided that instead of stopping at 6, children needed to continue using them until they turned 8. This irritated many of my friends, and they chose to ignore the new laws and stick with the original age.

When Bubbles turned 6 and most of her friends were no longer using booster seats, she was very embarrassed to still have one. When we dropped her off at daycare, her friends would question her as to why she was still in a “baby seat”. She begged us to lose the seat, and we explained that it was the law and it was keeping her safe and she would live. By the time she turned 7, she had accepted her fate and when 8 came along and we told her she was done with car seats for good, she wasn’t really fazed. She said ok…helped us take the booster seats out…and carried on with her day.

Conversely, Animal never questioned his booster seat. He has never been overly concerned with what his peers (or anyone else for that matter) think about him. If anyone ever said anything to him, he never cared enough to tell us. So when he woke up on Monday morning and the first thing he said to me was, “Mommy, I am 8 today and I don’t have to use a car seat anymore!”, it took me by surprise. As soon as he was dressed for school, he started asking when we were taking the seats out of the cars. I unlocked the front door and both car doors and told him he could go get them if he wanted to. He ran outside and came back moments later lugging both booster seats along and beaming from ear to ear! When he got in the car to head to daycare, he was literally bouncing in his seat. I asked him what he was so excited about (expecting to hear about it being his birthday) and he shouted, “no more car seats, no more car seats!”

He had a wonderful birthday evening. We went to the restaurant of his choice for dinner, got ice cream AND doughnuts for dessert, and then went home for the great present unwrapping. He loved all of his presents, and he is very excited about the party that is planned for this weekend. But the real highlight of this turning 8 thing had to have been the loss of his car seats.

As he put it, “I’m really a big kid now, Mommy!”

And he really is…sigh.

**This picture is actually from Christmas with my family (Dec 26th)...I haven’t had a chance to load his birthday pics onto the computer yet.