Friday, November 22, 2013

Just So Darn Cute!

I'm a worried mama. I worry about everything, even about whether I worry too much. It's a problem. And since we're two weeks in and preschool is still sucking the life out of Max you can imagine how my insides feel.

Yesterday at pick-up his teacher, Miss Becky, couldn't say enough about how smoothly his transition has gone. Phew! That's a load off my shoulders, let me tell you.

The only problem, for the last two afternoons he's fallen asleep during the car ride home. That's all of three minutes. And I don't mean he dozes off. This is log-worthy sleep. No manner of noise, jostling, light or disrobing breaks the trance. So what's the problem, you say? Well, this late afternoon snooze eliminates all hope of a successful bedtime. Last night, we finally won the battle around 9:30. The night before? 11:00. What?! That's right folks, my three-year-old wouldn't fall asleep until 11:00 pm, which made my 4:30 am wake-up so much fun.

But here's the kicker, he's just so darn cute when he sleeps...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Maximus the Sonambulist

Fancy word for sleepwalker, which Max isn't, actually (I don't think), but get this.

I don't like when Sean closes. He doesn't get home until almost 10:00 pm and if I haven't already gone to sleep I do shortly thereafter. He often closes several nights in a row which means we can go for days without seeing each other apart from the late night trips to the bathroom. It sucks. It really does, but the past two nights--lovely.

Max is exhausted. Preschool's tough, and it's right during nap time. Ugh. So for two days now he gets home at 3:45 ready to play and by 5:00 his eyes are drooping. He's not even that interested in dinner so I change him into his pj's. At 5:30 or so we take our places on the couch--me leaning up against the corner and Max between my legs, head resting on my chest. And we watch Ellen--some recently DVR'd episode. He starts out kinda interested, clapping with audience and laughing when Ellen does, but he quickly loses interest. It's not long before his eyes close and his breathing becomes slow and deep.

That's it. That's the moment that I love. My boy, lying peacefully against my body. I can feel his ribs expand as he fills his lungs with air. The binky he'd been sucking the life from just moments earlier dangles precariously from his lips. His trust in his mama is complete.

And then this happens:

Sean gets home last night around 10:00, as usual, and goes upstairs to change his clothes. He comes back down a minute or so later with a smirk on his face.

"Where's Max?"

"Huh?" I ask.

"Where's Max?"

"He's not in his room?" Sean's mouth spreads in a smile. "Is he in our room?"

"Go check for yourself."

I can tell he's enjoying this. He follows me upstairs and turns on the light as I open Max's door. No Max. I turn and scan the nursery. No Max. Can't be in the bathroom; I remember shutting the door. I move toward our room and notice the door is slightly ajar. I step inside and Sean flashes the light on like a strobe, and in that instant I see Max asleep on our bed with his legs dangling over the side. My heart simultaneously melts with love and drops with guilt.

Maximus the Escape Artist forced our hand recently and he is now learning to sleep in a toddler bed. Every morning he gets up and makes his way to our room, gently closes our door waking us just enough, and waits for Sean to hoist him up. He usually sleeps for another couple of hours.

Last night, it seems, Max woke up, and thinking it was morning he went to our room. Of course we weren't there. I wonder what he must have thought when Daddy didn't reach for him over the side. He clearly climbed up anyway.

Sean gently returned him to his bed, but at 5:00 am as I made myself presentable for work I heard a thud and a whimper. Then a muffled cry and a few foot stomps. The door almost hit him as I entered. He was sprawled on the floor quite a distance from his bed. I gathered him up and took him to Sean where he quickly nestled into Daddy's warmth.

Why was he just laying there? Did he remember not finding us the night before. Was he afraid to leave his room and not find us again? As I write this now I'm listening carefully for the sound of little feet. About 30 minutes ago I heard a thud and ran like a bolt of lightening up the stairs. He was face down on the floor next to his bed. I scooped him back up and laid him down again.

I didn't want to leave him there, not even for a moment. I want him to keep that trust that lets him fall asleep so willingly in our arms. I want him to know that we will always be here for him, looking out for him and waiting to catch him if he falls (as long as it's not from a toddler bed). I want him to know that we love him and need him and always want him around. I don't want him to be afraid. I want him to know that he is loved. Because he is so loved.

And because I don't have a picture of him sleepwalking, here' a recent one of him just walking. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rite of Passage

I missed Max's first day of school today. I mean, I wasn't there to take a picture of him in his school clothes and the new backpack with the front door as the backdrop. While Sean filled that role I was filling the minds of some reluctant teenagers with all kinds of trivia about the Spanish Civil War. Did you know the North American troops that joined the Spanish to combat the spread of fascism were called the Abraham Lincoln Brigade? Me neither. Not before today.

I arrived 10 minutes early for pick-up. Very eager mama. All of us eager mamas gathered at the front door in the unseasonably arctic air waiting for our little ones. I wished I'd worn a jacket, or at least a scarf, over my worn-out cardigan. True to my forever self-deprecating form I allowed myself to feel a little pang of discomfort as I noticed the trendy boots, the pricey jeans and the coiffed hair of some of the other moms. My utilitarian bun and yoga pants felt suddenly very sloppy.

And then one of those pretty mamas said, "Oh, look at that little one!" "He's mine," I said, chest puffed up and big grin on my face. Sloppy bun forgotten. Miss Becky was holding his hand as he exited the building. He looked tired, but not too tired to flash that smile that melts my heart. His first day a success despite a momentary meltdown at drop-off. And as we drove the 1.5 miles to our house my eyes teared. My little boy, Max, is now a big boy and it happened so fast.

It didn't really. It felt like it took a really long time. The thing with Down syndrome is that everything takes FOREVER. As a result, Sean and I enjoyed Max's infancy for months and months beyond what's typical. Max may have turned three yesterday, but he's barely a toddler. He learned to walk less than a year ago, doesn't run, doesn't jump, doesn't say a word, and only yesterday played with other children. I mean WITH other children, not alongside them. And now he's "My Schoolboy Max". Seems strange, that's all. Strange and exciting. I welcome the growth and only somewhat mourn the loss of my infant boy. 

So, here's a run-down of the days leading up to the commencement of this new chapter in our lives.

New Mickey pj's in anticipation of the next day's festivities,

preceded by some very real tears shed as his episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ended.

Then the big day: the Mickey-themed birthday party.

Yesterday, the actual birthday, outside in the autumn sun.

And every night for the past several, an exhausted boy falls asleep before his bedtime.