Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And the rain it hammered down...

All last week storms blew in and across the Midwest leaving bulging creeeks, overflowing rivers and flooded streets. Most of the real disaster stayed to the SW of here, but we were left with many cool, dark, rainy, indoor days. Juj’s soccer camp was moved indoors halfway across town and the kid verses the parents baseball game was rained out. Petunia and I spent far too long in the car, getting Juj to camp and back and searching for things to do on the other side of town. We ended up shopping, hanging out at a coffee shop, riding the escalator at the mall (like Corduroy) and bumming around at the craft store. Not a lot of fun for a toddler who wanted nothing else but to feed the gulls that took roost on the soggy soccer fields and go to the park: "want da park, want da park, want da park..." she repeated getting more and more distressed as we drove through little neighborhoods in the rain.

Today Juj and a few friends are mucking about in the spidy man pool outside while the Pet naps after a long morning of swinging, snake cake, (chocolate cake with gummy worms), coloring and train playing. Now my tomatoes are fat and sweet, and the sun is shining brightly and hotly and I am trying to find some way to say goodbye to our summer days. We hung the laundry out to dry, went for bike rides, visited the favorite outdoor café, even hiked in the rain with friends. But I know that won't be enough.

Petunia’s transition into daycare is going well for the most part; she likes the teachers, the kids and activities, but not the goodbyes. Having been through this before, I thought it would be easier, but the Pet and I are still glued together, so it has taken a while to feel better about leaving her. The reward is upon coming back, where she says, relieved "mama come back! (I) sad, cry. (I) cry when Anna (teacher) go. Sit down. Play!" and she happily bops around the room laughing, playing and smiling. So sweet she is and so hard it is to leave at first, my heart heavy and sad and anxious... but at least this time I know it will get better, eventually and slowly.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In The Time of Recalls

With all this hullabaloo about lead in children's toys, I figured I'd better check the Consumer Product Safety Commission's web site and see what the fuss was all about. The word "recall" has seeped into my brain as I walked down the isles of Target seeing familiar toys with warning signs on them, as I skim through the paper past pictures of Barbie, Elmo and Dora and even before bed as shows like Nightline investigate the effects of lead paint on children's brains. It's enough to make one sick, paranoid and or pine for the days when all you had were a stack of plain wooden blocks and your imagination.

Nonetheless, I spent some time on the SPSC's web site and was shocked to see so many familiar products that had been recalled due to strangulation, choking, aspiration, lead poisoning, laceration, burn and entrapment hazards. Thomas the Tank Engine we may all know about, but how about excess lead in chalk sold at Toys R Us, or the rings/straps of the Maya wrap and other baby carriers detaching. These are the everyday items of life with kids: pacifiers, sippy cups, teethers, high chairs, bouncy seats, books, bike seats and clothing. And it is not just the dollar trees and walmarts of the world selling no name products, it is the well known companies like Matell, Fischer Price, Pottery Barn, Graco, Brio, Playtex, Little Tikes, Stride-Rite, Gymboree, Schwinn, Kelty, Gerber, Evenflo, Playskool, Peg Perego and the like.

In the last two months I have returned two products that were recalled due to choking hazards, a Battat cell phone and a Little Tree imagination wooden cart. Certainly lead paint is inexcusable, as are poorly made products, but really, how far does the manufacturers responsibility go? What really gets me is that after any recall (remember the Easy Bake Oven and Avent Bottles?) the goodwills and secondhand stores are full of them. What kind of sense it that... pass on a dangerous product to someone of lesser income?

With so many products on the market there is no doubt that some will fail and cause injury. Companies need to be held accountable and we the damned consumer need to know what the heck were buying. And as I type this, the sounds of a Melissa and Doug battery sounds wooden puzzle are going off randomly (a frog croaking late into the night, the annoying bark, bark, bark of some generic, mechanical dog), and I know these are the signs of our consumer culture gone bat tat taty.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Sister and Brother

Little Petunia will soon be 21 months, on Juj’s 11th birthday to be exact. We are starting to feel more balanced as a family as the boat has been tilted towards the "baby" for close to two years. Petunia now chats and plays with Juj and despite their age difference there is still a lot of the both of them shrieking "mine!" They enjoy watching Charlie and Lola together, eating Juj’s homemade Popsicles, making sour faces together, teasing each other and hogging the couch. They play together, Juj building houses with hallways and windows, Petunia jamming as many animals in and knocking it down. Juj has taught her a number of words lately and she seems to be at a stage where she will try to say anything. "Say enzyme," says Juj sweetly, "say small intestines, say stinky toes." And she does, at least she tries.

Her favorites phrases these days are:
"Read now!" Juj taught her this one...
"Sit down... "da play!" A very strong suggestion...
"Park... mine" That’s my park and we’d better stop now!
"Hi da mama!" Oh hi, you're still here, nice!
"No, not!" Applies to diaper changes, yucky foods, leaving grandma’s, going inside, etc.

As July was a month of non-stop socializing and trying to cram every summer activity in before the short season ends, it is my hope that August will be slower and more mellow as we prepare for fall classes, daycare and sixth grade. Juj I’m sure won’t agree with me and is spending long days and nights at fairs, water parks, beaches, bike races, outdoor music fests, backyard BBQ’s and the like. Petunia and I have been visiting the daycare and working up to longer and longer separations. It feels right to me to start her at the center a few days a week this fall and that is a relief. I feel as if we’ve reached a milestone, as if I am ready to release her in some small way into the world to learn to trust others, to get along with people who are different, to begin to deal with small groups of kids in small doses and continue to learn to communicate. Plus they have water tables, lofts, slides, swings, fish, a pretend kitchen and art hanging from tall ceilings! So, here is to the toddler and pre-teen years, and me continuing that slow process of letting go...