Thursday, July 26, 2012

Heart in a Box

Y'all, the amount of kid stuff we have accumulated is giving me hives. I don't know what to do with it. And my son isn't even three years old.

I'm not sure that my problem is a problem that very many people have. I mean, we all know that typical American families with kids acquire a lot of stuff, much of it large and plastic and decked out in obnoxiously bright colors. I think we're doing better than most in that regard, actually, because we have very few large-ish toys, and we don't have any area of the house where toys and kid clutter have taken over.

But this isn't a post about clutter or organization. It's more about having perfectly useful and lovely outgrown baby and toddler items that we should either keep or give away, and I can't figure out which to do. I get the sense that most families either (1) keep having kids and therefore keep getting use out of all that kid stuff they've acquired, or, probably more commonly, (2) come to a decided-upon end point for having more children, at which time they divest themselves of the various child-rearing accoutrements.

So what happens to the folks who want more children, when the additional kids just aren't happening? What's a reasonable amount of time to wait before selling/donating/handing off that pricey baby swing, or the stack of bibs, or the mountains of outgrown clothing?

Right now we just keep on accumulating, boxing up the outgrown and praying we need it again. We've been able to lend big items like Nate's bassinet, swing, infant car seat, Bumbo seat, and the like. But, one by one, each item has found its way back into my garage. Those kids, man. They just insist on growing up so quickly.

Letting go of the baby stuff right now feels like giving up hope. Like admitting defeat. Which is ironic, because in most ways I feel far, far more at peace with our situation than I have in a long time.  Truly, I do. And I've jokingly said, more than once, that we'll probably hold onto this stuff for years, finally give up and give it away, and then end up with a surprise miracle pregnancy. Which would be great! We'll take a baby any time! And we'd laugh about God's sense of humor and sense of timing and would rest assured that we really didn't need all that stuff, anyway.

Because, in the end, it really is all just stuff. It's not as if God would withhold another child because we had the gall to sell the Jumperoo. My head knows that fact just fine. But my heart's hope still feels wrapped up in boxes of tiny clothes packed away in the basement.

I'm not ready to let them go just yet.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Oh, kid.

As we entered Nate's third year, there were two looming parenting tasks that I'd been positively dreading. The first was transitioning him from a crib--where he'd always been perfectly happy--to a bed, and the second was potty training. And suddenly I find myself having completed both of these tasks with essentially no drama at all. (Well, it's a huge overstatement to say that potty training is "complete," but aside from inevitable regressions, I'd say the worst is behind us.) I'm left sort of shaking my head and waiting for the other shoe to drop, because, seriously, that's it? But here we are.

We never had the baby-on-the-way pressure that forces many parents to move a kid out of a crib, and Nate had always been very happy in his. He did learn back in February how to climb out of a Pack-n-Play, which made our trip to Arwen's more eventful than I would have liked, but we handled it. (Also making the trip too eventful? Linus's many days in the hospital and Nate's overnight admission there. Boo.)

He'd never tried to climb out of his crib at home, even after he climbed out of the Pack-n-Play, until one day in May, he did. I promptly panicked, because what were we going to do?????, and we had one napless day and one rough night during which David slept with Nate on a double mattress on the floor beside the empty crib. The next morning, the crib came down, child-proof knob covers went over his bedroom and closet doors to keep him in his room and out of the closets at naptime and bedtime, and . . . that was kind of it. We started with the double mattress and box spring right on the floor, but put them up on a bed frame when it became clear that Nate wasn't a roller. And aside from some inevitable messes in his room when he's fighting sleep--I've replaced all of the books on his bookshelf more times than I'd care to count--it's been a total non-event. He just . . . started sleeping in a bed. Huh.

Ditching the diapers was something I figured had to be a challenge. Nate had used the toilet or a little Bjorn potty on occasion ever since we vacationed last August with some friends whose daughter had just potty trained. For months, he's been able to run around the house for hours naked or pants-less with his potty nearby, and always manage to avoid accidents. Put him in pants or underwear, though, and all that self-control went out the window.

I foresaw weeks or months of frustration and messes, and so while we occasionally let Nate wear underwear around the house as an exercise in hey-let's-see-how-this-goes, I had no real plan for making the switch full-time.

Last Saturday, though, he somehow figured out, on his own, how to pull down his shorts and underwear at the necessary time, and so David and I decided to just go with it. He's been in underwear all the time since then, except when he's in bed, and has had fewer accidents in seven days than I can count on one hand. And he's been out, too--to the National Mall, to multiple restaurants, to a museum, and to watch fireworks on July 4th.

Mostly, we've been watching him like a hawk when we're out and asking him ad infinitum whether he needed to go. Today, though, I took him out to lunch, and he told me when he needed to use the bathroom. What started as sort of a random experiment to see whether he could do okay, sometimes in underwear has--through practically no effort on my part--turned in to an essentially-potty-trained kid. 

And it's the "kid" part that's got me flabbergasted. Suddenly the last trappings of babyhood--the crib and the diapers--are basically gone, and there's no question that we're the parents of a full-fledged kid. An amazing, bright, funny, sweet, bouncing-off-the-walls kid.

It's pretty awesome.