More Zoe

So there’s no new “Glee” this week. What should I write about instead?

Oh, I know! Zoe!

1. She was pretending to be me. I was supposed to be pretending to be her. She said to me, “I’m so lucky about you, sweetheart!” Am I a good mom or what?

2. The bad stuff, I feel, is important to write about, too, especially as I know a lot of moms, and it’s not only important for me to remember this, and even for Zoe to know this once she’s old and has her own children. So here it is. A month or so ago, we were having one of those days where the tantrums/hitting were out of control, for, like, three hours. And sitting here as a rational, 30-year-old woman, it strikes me as completely incomprehensible that I could have such a strong emotional response to a preschooler hitting me and screaming at me, but in those moments, sometimes I feel completely at a loss – frustrated, broken, barely more than a baby myself. And so angry. When I am in that state I try to put some distance between us – give both of us a time-out, if you will – but of course Zoe is an uncontrollable state of anger and fear and sadness, and she doesn’t want me to go away. She wants me to stay with her so she can hit me some more. The rational adult me knows that’s to reassure herself that no matter how ugly it gets – no matter how ugly her feelings are, no matter how ugly her behavior is – I’m still her mommy and I still love her. But the middle-0f-the-tantrum me just wants to get away from it. And that one day, I was so frustrated and furious, I put my hand through a door. I mean, not all the way through, just through one layer, and it’s a cheap-ass door, but still, there’s now a my-palm-sized hole in it. It was pretty frightening.

3. The love you have for your children is intense, no question, and everyone knows that. I don’t know that everyone knows is how deeply your child will love you. And it’s wonderful. But sometimes I see Zoe when she’s all blissed out because we’re dancing cheek-to-cheek or whatever, and I think, “Really, kid? Me? Boy, do you have lousy judgment.”

4. But back to the good stuff. We took out a book from the library for Zoe, which is the first time we’ve done that. I’d like to say it’s because I seriously considered that Zoe is now mature enough not to destroy books, but the truth was, I wanted to get out of the library and the fastest way out was to agree to let her take out the book. In any event, the book has been on my desk in the room in our house we call the library. Jason went to clean up the desk, including the book, when Zoe stopped him. “No! You can’t put that away! It’s a special book!” Jason said, “What do you mean I can’t put it away?” Zoe said, “It doesn’t belong to us! It belongs to the library! Don’t put it away!” What’s remarkable is not only that she understood that taking something home from the library is different from taking something home from the store, but that she made the connection that the book shouldn’t be shelved with ours because it needs to be returned. I didn’t really give her speeches on either of these topics. So I am impressed.

5. She continues to love running around the house singing at the top of her lungs. Everything is included – songs she learned at preschool, songs she heard on a CD my sister made for me. Her favorite of those is “Rock and Roll Queen” by the Subways.

6. She is also very into the soundtrack of The Wedding Singer: The Musical. Yes, there was a musical of The Wedding Singer. And you know what? It was pretty good. Not every song/moment was a winner but there was a lot of good about it. So then we showed her the movie The Wedding Singer. She likes that, too.

7. She continues to be very interested in people’s emotions. When she sees me smile at her, she says, “Are you happy?” She usually follows it up with, “Are you happy because you have a Zoe?” She also is concerned with how happy I am. If I am in fact having a bad day but am happy to be playing with her at the moment, I sometimes say, “I’m happy a little bit.” She has turned this into insistence that when I’m happy, I be happy “a big bit.”

8. She says that someone has brown hair/blue eyes/a pink shirt “just like me has.”

9. She is constantly asking for stuff, especially stuff her friends have. A Tinkerbell “berlella” like Abby has, a blue sparkly headband like Morgan has.

10. To stem the tide of this constant stuff-requesting, I have instituted a wish list for her. I keep a little notebook in the cabinet in the kitchen and whenever she says she wants something, instead of getting into a discussion of whether and when she can have this, I say, “Let’s put it on your wish list.” Then she watches me write it. Sometimes we go over letters and spelling when I do this. She’s very into it so far. I’m pretty sure I got this idea from Wendy Mogel.

11. Still super-snuggly. My favorite thing lately is, when we’re driving, when I come to a red light, I sometimes reach back to squeeze her knee or something, just to give her a little affection. Lately she will grab my hand and hold it, or press it to her leg or something, letting me know she really wants the affection.

12. When she really wants snuggles (and we’re not in the car) she pretends to be a baby. Her pretending to be a baby involves, yes, draping herself across my lap, or being carried like a baby (which I told her was a “fireman’s hold” but now she insists on calling it a “policeman’s hold.” And then I’m not even sure I’m correct. Is a fireman’s hold where you hold the person across both arms, one arm under their neck and the other under their knees, or is a fireman’s hold where you throw the person over your shoulder, facedown?), but she also scrunches up her face, speaks in a high(er)-pitched, stilted voice, and waves her hands around with delicate finger movements. All the of the kids she plays with, actually, do “baby” with the scrunched face and the voice. It’s sort of funny.

13. Sometimes she is also a kitty. One time she and her two buddies were all being kitties together, rolling around on their backs and mewing, and I wondered why the three small, cute children felt the need to pretend to be something also small and cute.

14. She’s still trying to walk like a cat on her hands and feet rather than her hands and knees, because it’s more accurate.

15. We watch “The Sing-Off”. Because, yes, we are that dorky. She loves one of the boys from the University of Rochester’s YellowJackets. (That’s how NBC’s website lists them. I have a hard time believing that a group founded in 1965 is not, in fact, Yellow Jackets, or Yellowjackets.) The tenor, Aaron. She requests that we watch their songs a lot and when he comes on, she says, “That’s the boy I love,” and she presses her hands over heart on the world “love.”

16. Her geek education continues. She loves Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

17. But because of the kind of kid she is, she has a hard time accepting the existence of “bad guys.” So, for instance, when we look at her Star Wars ABC book (yes, really), she points to the Stormtrooper and says in her cuddly cutie-pie voice, “Aw. He loves Darth Vader!”

18. She can buckle herself into her car seat! She won’t, always, but she can!

19. She’s totally fine at preschool now. Last Friday, Jason came with me to drop her off. (He had taken the day off of work because it was iPhone day. Okay, not really. But sort of.) He was sort of shocked that when we got to the door of her classroom, she just walked right in and sat next to her friend without a backward glance at us. No hug goodbye, no “See you later,” just gone.

20. She’s getting better at Hebrew School, too. She’s sort of willing to accept Kris as a companion and she LOVES playing with the kids. Last week she spent half the time in the other classroom because a third-grade girl had on a sweater she liked and she wanted to sit next to her and admire it. This week she got really into the game of Whiz-Bong I started with the kids (to prevent them from doing whatever violent-looking game they wanted to do, right near the elevator – I swear, Whiz-Bong is still the most useful thing I learned by going to a Jewish youth group) and even “stole” the invisible ball. She also really enjoyed the first week when my boss was tossing around a “matzah ball” with the kids as a mixer-activity, and every time she passes the site where we played, she goes, “This is where we played with the ball with Heidi last morning!”

21. Everything that happened in the past happened “last morning.”

22. She was really good at High Holiday services this year. Even when we went at my home temple in NJ for the regular services, she was appropriately behaved through the sermon. Twice! She mainly occupied herself by playing with my brother’s tie. But she also likes holding a prayer book and standing when we stand and everything. And when we were at the temple where I teach, she kept asking to see Heidi (my boss) and Todd (our music guy) on the bima.

23. She likes making predictions. Like, I’ll say, “Oh, Daddy will be home later,” and she’ll say, “When Daddy comes home, he will have a special treat for me,” or “When Daddy comes home, he will like my nighting gown. He will say, ‘Oh! It’s Tinkerbell nighting gown! I like Tinkerbell nighting gown.'” A lot of her predictions involve people responding positively to her clothing choices.

24. She is very, very, very invested in her fashion choices. She picks out her own clothes, both at the store and at home. My main function is to try to the best of my ability to keep her choices weather- and activity-appropriate.

25. In addition to the predictions, she’s into story-telling. One thing that was really interesting to me was, we were doing a Brain Quest thing, and one panel invited us to ask the child to tell a story in a book with three bears on the cover. Zoe said that the little girl bear was playing, and then she threw a temper tantrum. (And Zoe demonstrated the temper tantrum.) Then her mommy was mad. Then she said, “I’m sorry for throwing a temper tantrum.” And her mom hugged her. That’s . . . not a bad story, really. She also walks around all day recounting events both real and imagined. They’re not always as coherent as that but it’s still pretty cool.

26. We went to Jo-Ann with two purposes – to get fabric markers to decorate onesies for a baby shower we were hosting, and to get Zoe the scrap-booking stuff that her friends Ero and Lou have so she could do art projects. When we were in the fabric section of the store, she spotted a Little Mermaid appliqué and asked for it. I said she could hold it while we were in the store, but we would not be buying it. So we got our fabric markers, and we got her glue sticks and scissors, and we looked through all the cool papers and stickers and paper punches and debated them, and then we were ready to go pay for everything. She was helping me unload the cart when she spotted the Little Mermaid appliqué in the heap on the counter. She pulled it off, handed it to me, and said, “Mommy, we said we weren’t going to buy this.” Awesome!

27. So she can be fairly emotional, which is not unusual in a three-year-old. But she will also tell me how to help her feel better and she’ll tell me when she does. So, for instance, yesterday, we were at Hebrew school, having a cupcake before the kids came in. She started talking about a Dorothy costume for Halloween. Now, ordinarily, I would just say, “Let’s put it on your wish list,” but as Halloween approaches, I’m getting nervous. Jason bought her the expensive, sparkly Tangled dress and matching hair thingie, and he’s going to be pretty upset if she refuses to wear it come Halloween. So I said, “Remember, we’re wearing the Tangled dress for Halloween.” She burst out crying. But it was because I didn’t understand what she was saying; she was saying the store had the Dorothy costume (the store which she calls Gatherween. I have no idea what that means.). But even once I understood that, she was still upset. So she asked me to tell her about Dorothy. So I started telling her the story, and about a third of the way through, she said, “I’m calming down,” as she wiped tears from her face. Sometimes she likes to be held or rocked when she’s like this, or just have my hand on her cheek. Sometimes she leverages a moment of sadness to get candy or ice pops. But she always lets us know when she’s “calming down.”

28. Her pre-school teacher told me Zoe is “very independent.” I feel like in some ways that’s pre-school teacher talk for “She’s driving us crazy.” But I know my baby is the specialist, most wonderfulest baby and obviously her pre-school teachers adore her just as much as I do.

29. When she’s tired, she says to her father, “Will you snuggle me in the bed? I’m so tired.” Reason #256 that’s she’s still sleeping in our bed.

ETA: Ugh, this always happens. I start one of these things going, “What do I really have to say? Zoe is doing all the things Zoe always does.” Then I write 20-30 things. Then I post it. Then I think, “Oh, but I forgot all these other awesome things Zoe’s been doing.” Like wiggling her nak’dy butt in front of the mirror before she gets into the shower. Or pretending to be other people all the time. Or asking me to “tell her something.” (Or telling me she has to tell me something.) The other night when she was tired, she crawled into my arms and asked me to tell her something. So I told her all the things I love about her. Then I told her all the other people who love her, too. And the whole time I’m stroking her cheek and she’s looking into my eyes and it’s just the nicest thing ever.

And then there’s her throwing a temper tantrum earlier this week and then demanding to be left alone.


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