Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Size Matters


(Ellie and Tessa in the same 4th of July outfit.  Ellie is one. Tessa is two and a half.)

Two and a half.

25 pounds soaking wet.

A little tiny package bursting with laughter and joy and sunshine.

Our park district has an amazing indoor play area where we like to bring the kids to get their energy out.  It’s huge, with oodles of slides and soft-cushioned obstacles to climb through and around. They have an area that is just for little ones and it is there that we like to let Tessa roam free and explore.  Mostly because it is caged and keeps her out of trouble. 🙂 

There are, of course, other children in the play area and I am so often amused when I see her surrounded by infants.  The sheer size of her peers is so markedly different.  And inevitably, another mom will come over to make conversation, hoping to commiserate on the exhaustion of having an infant in the house.

I wait for the question.  I know it’s coming because it always does.

“She’s so cute,” they say, “how old is she?”

“She’s two and a half.”

Inside, I cringe and wait for the response.  They vary, but usually it involves an effort to restrain eyes bugging out of their head and an oddly confused smile.  “Oooh,” they say, their eyes darting back and forth between my child and theirs, sizing up the differences.  Mostly, the conversation kind of dies.

One time, a mom literally asked me if I was sure.  She shared that her daughter is that same age and asked when her birthday is.  She thought I had miscalculated my own child’s age.

That was awkward.

A small part of me just wants to lie when I get asked.  Would it be any easier to just tell them she is 15 months or 18 or whatever number I feel like throwing out?  Maybe I’ll really wow them and say that she is 10 months.  That could be fun!

I think, as parents, we might all be happier if we could just stop asking each other how old our children are.  It does nothing good – just feeds into this urge to compare.  And what good are comparisons anyway?  One is potty trained, one isn’t. One is reading, one isn’t.  One is sitting or walking or talking or whatever.  Some are not.  They are not less.  Different, perhaps, but not less.

But more than that, I’m sad for the conversations that die out.  Our experiences are probably a little different in parenting, there’s no denying that.  But we can still share.  We are parents in the same community.  Our children will grow up near each other.   Commiseration gets us through some days!!  And even if my little one is on the scenic route, she’s headed in the same direction as all the other little ones – up, up, up.  I’m just a mom.  She is just a kid.  So let’s talk!


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Guest Blogger Post – A Dad’s Perspective

Because it’s Father’s Day, I have invited my husband to write about our life from his perspective.  I took the liberty of adding in a few pictures… and a few commas.  🙂  Enjoy!

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Four days ago I was asked to be a “guest blogger” for a post about Fathers’ Day.  After some deliberation, I reluctantly accepted the invitation.  The blog is really Maggie’s thing and I have never had the desire to contribute in the slightest.  Needless to say I began this process by thinking I was doing her a favor by posting and now I realize she was doing me a favor by letting me think more deeply about what is so great about Father’s Day.  Let’s start from the beginning…

When I was growing up, I remember going to a hardware store with my dad.  As we walked into the store, I noted a bright orange sign that said “Buy one, get one FREE!”  Being young, I said to my dad, “Hey, Dad, look!  We can get something for free.” My dad knelt down, held both of my shoulders in his hands, and looking directly into my eyes, he responded with an even tone:

“Son, nothing is free.”

Of course, he was correct.  Everything in this world costs money.  It costs money to eat, it costs money to live, it even costs money to raise children.  But this weekend reminded me of what is truly important in life and it had nothing to do with cost.

Every year for Fathers’ Day, Maggie plans a quick vacation with our family.  We usually go to the Quad Cities, the area where Maggie and I attended college, to reminisce and walk the campus of Augustana.  This year our trip was scheduled for 24 hours.  We departed at 4 o’clock on Thursday afternoon and we arrived home on Friday at around the same time.

Two hours in the car felt like four.  Apparently Ellie likes to hear herself talk and Tessa is not to be outdone, so she growled the entire time.  When we arrived in the Quad Cities, we got Ellie some ice cream… which promptly ended up all over her clothes, face, and the ground.  I had to admit I felt good for letting Ellie make a mess.  Why not, right?  We are on vacation and if she wants to dump ice cream all over her shirt, more power to her.

It wasn’t long before we arrived at the hotel and Ellie tested both beds to see which one was more “springy.”  For a bit of extra fun, I took Ellie on a ride on the rolling luggage cart through the hotel.  Ellie thought every second of the ride was hysterical.  I enjoyed her laughter, but especially enjoyed all the strangers who walked past us and smiled.  It was clear we were having too much fun breaking the rules.

That same night Ellie refused to fall asleep until 10:30 at night. She relentlessly declared across the hotel room, “I am still awake you guys!” and we had to keep reminding her it was time to go to sleep.  Apparently she doesn’t care what I say (she is her mother’s child).  On the one hand, I was annoyed that my daughter would not be quiet, but on the other hand, she was having so much fun she didn’t want to go to bed.  She wasn’t rude, she was just excited… and I couldn’t keep a straight face when I scolded her for not going to sleep.

The next day we all went to the pool, the John Deere museum, a children’s museum, and lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in town.  Ellie spent the day swimming, pretending to drive a tractor, and playing with a million toys without having to clean up.

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If I had time, I could go through a million stories about each and every part of the day, but all I can tell you was that both of my daughters smiled for almost the entire twenty-four hour trip.  Not only did they smile for the entire trip, I couldn’t help but enjoy the company of my family and all of the fun things we enjoyed.  I laughed more times than I could remember and even though I was exhausted (which is the status quo), I just couldn’t bring myself to wimp out and not have fun with them.

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My dad was right that nothing is free in this world.  But that is the least of all the lessons he taught me.  He taught me to take the time to stop and enjoy life.  He taught me to not be concerned about meaningless trials and tribulations.  Most of all, he taught me the biggest payoff of being a father is the time we spend with our children.  Nothing is free in this world except for our time.  The time we have to spend with our families is totally free and can lead to some of the most amazing and fulfilling memories.

When I look around and see all of the other fathers I know and respect immensely, they all have one thing in common: they take the time, no matter how things are going, to enjoy their children.  I learned this because my dad put me first and it was rewarding for me, but now I see it was rewarding for him as well.

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Being a father is never easy.  Sometimes we wish our kids would give us a break.  Sometimes we wish we could just get away for awhile.  The reality is that we are not perfect and we don’t always focus on our kids the way we should.  But we also need to remind ourselves how much we can be filled up with love just by spending time with our family.  The sports on television don’t matter, the job doesn’t matter, the kind of car we drive doesn’t matter.  The only thing that matters is the effort we put in to loving our families. We will see the results in how we live and how our kids live.  This is not my advice, it is the advice of my dad, and for what it is worth, it has made all the difference in my life.  I wish all of you a wonderful Fathers’ Day and I hope your twenty-four hours is as fun as mine!

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Imagination

Ellie lives in her own little world and we are just characters in the game. Lord help you if you wake her up from her occasional nap and call her Dora on a day when she is actually Doc McStuffins. I found myself in that situation late this afternoon.

It wasn’t pretty.

With no TV to distract us these days and John working late coaching track, Tessa and I have been at the mercy of Ellie’s imaginary play. Today, we were Doc McStuffins. Or, to be more specific, Ellie was Doc, Tessa was Stuffy (a goofy blue dinosaur), and I was Hallie (a chubby purple hippo with a southern accent. Lucky me!).

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Tessa isn’t quite sure what just happened to her, but she’s glad it’s over. 🙂 (These last two pics were just too cute not to post!)

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