Snakes And Snails And Puppy Dog’s Tails

January 21, 2008

Wonderbaby is fiercely independent and extremely strong-willed. This will, no doubt, come as no surprise to anyone who has followed my stories about her exploits, but, oddly enough, it comes as a fresh daily surprise to me, the person who spends most time with her, that she has the will and demeanour of a hyperintelligent adolescent jacked up on Twinkies. Or a rabid anthropomorphic badger, the kind that a crack-addled Disney might imagination, the kind that has the determination and the ability to lift your keys and steal your car, if there happens to be something down the road that it wants. Take your pick. I’m never quite sure, myself, what life-form she most resembles. Toddler, I suppose.

Whatever it is, and for whatever reason, it’s a constant source of surprise to me. Why I keep waking up each morning expecting to find a child that can be defined in terms of sugar and spice and everything nice, I don’t know. But I do. And so I’m always taken just a little bit off guard when I get smacked by a puppy dog’s tail. Or by a diaper full of fresh toddler shit, removed by said toddler and not-so-neatly carted around until she can find something that looks like a trash-bucket in which to discard it (perhaps the laundry basket, or the oven-cupboard of her toy cook-stove/kitchen), so that she might go on the toilet – the real toilet, mind, and not the potty, which is FOR BABIES – and finish the job, ALONE. (MY DO IT! NO HELP, MOMMY! NO HELP!)

She is all movement and noise, starting the day at a brisk trot-and-bounce and finishing it at full-tilt run-and-leap, with no deceleration in-between. She will brook no quiet time, unless it is spent in some sort of moving vehicle, in which case she will holler, repeatedly, FASTER GO FASTER! LET’S GO HILL! UP! DOWN! FASTER! And if we do attempt to force some quiet time, either by buckling her into some sort of toddler containment facility or such whatnot, she will break free and – woe betide you if you are not hot on her trail – seize the opportunity for a fast game of public hide’n'seek or scaling walls or breaking into cupboards and stealing chocolate or busting into bathroom cabinets and finding potions to pour into the sink or, maybe, just going to the bathroom unsupervised where one can experiment with defecation and disposal techniques uninterrupted.


So although she is the darlingest thing, and is certainly as sweet as pie in most respects – she will always say please and thank you and excuse me, as she rushes past you to grab your handbag in her search for candy or car keys, and will always insist upon cleaning up the poo she has inexpertly deposited in exactly the wrong location (CLEAN UP! CLEAN UP!) - there is nothing sugar and spice about her.

What, then, am I supposed to do if I produce a male version of this child? What if her little brother is everything that she is, but with a urine-spraying penis-thingie, too? Won’t that be, like, Wonderbaby armed?

I’m so thrilled to be having a boy, I really, really am, but that thrilledness carries with it the distinct vibrations of fear. Real fear. Palpable fear. The fear, I think, that only a mother who has had the experience of feeling totally under siege by her children can know.

There are going to be two of them, soon, and one of them is going to have a built-in spray hose. I should just go ahead and wave the white flag right now, shouldn’t I?

For Julie, who will be under spray months before I am, and so who will, I hope, pass on some good sources of peenie umbrellas to me. (Part of the not-so-golden shower hosted by Kristen and Cathy)

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    { 44 comments }

    motherbumper January 21, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Someone once told me that toddlers can sense fear, which could be reworded to say: baby boys can sense targets, so duck. OK, it’s Monday, I’m not feeling witty but I’ll be damned, these beautiful boy babies that are cropping up means I just have to comment everywhere I go – regardless of how ridiculous my statements are.

    All that said, I’ll finish with: You are going to be a fantastic Momma of two – that I know for a fact.

    LD January 21, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I don’t know that you should worry that a boy will be worse. I think that we have the whole sugar and spice view of girls we’ve been brought up with, so when they don’t conform–because they’re really not supposed to–it seems odd. But sugar and spice is outdated and constructed. No one was really like that deep down– that’s why there were so many “hysterics” in the 19th c. You’ll be just fine with two– and boys are so much fun.

    em v January 21, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Don’t worry too much about the Spray Hose or possible even-more craziness. I have a son about two months older than Wonderbaby, and we’ve only ever had maybe two pee Incidents. In the young-baby stage, it’s the sudden exploding poo shrapnel during diaper changes you really have to worry about, and that’s not a male-female thing.

    And Sprout could could be the temperamental opposite of WB you know… my son is by no means “quiet” or “mild,” (no getting around the fact that he’s two) but I know more female two-year-olds who are super-firecrackers. My son has not even contemplated climbing out of his crib or removing his own clothes/diaper, he enjoys sitting in his stroller and carseat and discussing (at length) his observations, he likes to examine in detail and discuss how things and all their parts work (doors, roller blinds)… my friend’s son the same age can tell you (in two-year-old speak), how to disconnect, fix and re-install a ceiling fan.

    I guess there are fears either way: I’m about to have a girl (due date: today, in fact), and the things I’m worrying about (aside from having a Firecracker) are: is she going to be a girly-girl princess type (which I am not), do I really have to put pink clothes on her (I love clothes, but not pink clothes), and well, I tremble uncontrollably at the thought of the pre-teen/teen years and the evil forces of Facebook…

    Can you allay my fears of having a girl?

    ewe are here January 21, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Well, I have two boys and so far so good with the spray thing…

    Not sure that helps much, but there it is.

    Mimi January 21, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    I know boys. All I can say is: keep the blast zone covered. And point it DOWN!

    Otherwise, you are running an experimental gender characteristics centre. Your WB is not the sugar and spice kinda girl, which leads me to think that Sprout either a) will not be the snips and snails type, in keeping with current practice, or b) will be just like WB.

    Either way (calm kid, or WB the Second) you’ll be okay, either from experience or from relief.

    Phew.

    Maddy January 21, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    I remember having very similar thoughts myself. My daughter was stuck on hyperdrive and I’d never had boys before. As it turned out they were like night and day – she was still frenzied by my son was sleepy and mellow. I don’t think it’s a girl / boy thing, I think it’s just how the gene pool scatters.
    Best wishes

    Her Bad Mother January 21, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    LD – it’s not so much that I think that a boy will be ‘worse’ (not at all, actually), but that having *two* turbo-charged creatures that move at high-speeds will be overwhelming for me. That, and the penis. Am worried about the penis.

    Kelly January 21, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    The whole peeing thing is way over-rated with boys. I have two and they only ever did that if we left them exposed in a cold room – and only during the first few months, then. If you’re *really* worried just toss a diaper wipe over his penis while you change him – it’ll deflect anything downward.

    Not having had girls, I don’t know what they’re like as little’uns, but boys are crazy energetic and deaf. Or, at least, mine are.

    I also agree that they could be the polar opposites (yours) since mine are. #1 is very energetic and assertive and #2 is much MUCH more quiet and watchful and easy going.

    FWIW I’ve known that fear you have. I was terrified to have a boy when I first got pregnant because I’ve never wanted anything but girls and I *am* one so boys? STRANGER DANGER! But they’re loads of fun in a whole new way that I never would have expected.

    Cara January 21, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    May the force be with you!

    I have a Spitfire Toddler (boy) who is a lot like Wonderbaby. He only has one speed, full throttle. We are going to add to that another boy. I just hope that what I have been hearing is true, “the second child is the opposite of the first”.

    God help me if he is not. We will need more than the force! (I am seriously thinking of a harness at this point)

    The City Gal January 21, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    If my mom read this, she would tell you that she was in your shoes exactly about 26 years ago (tomorrow) when she gave birth to twin sons, while trying to figure out what to do with me, a curious toddler!

    1- You can tell WonderBaby that she is old enough to take care of her baby-broda! That gives her a sense of responsibility and superiority. My mom will you, that worked to her benefit a lot. I soon learned how to bottle-feed one, when the other was being breast-fed by my mom.

    2- However, my mom will you to watch for a toddler who likes to experiment with everything and everyone! Do not leave her with the baby too long.

    3- More importantly, watch out for a toddler that overnight loses the attention of the world, when baby-broda comes! She still needs to feel loved.

    If you are as lucky as my mom was, your son will be much more quiet (and easier to handle) that your daughter (our roles were comepletly reversed!).

    Other than that, you will be just fine.

    Anonymous January 21, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Two are WAY MORE than twice has hard as one, in ways that you cannot even imagine now.

    Start looking for playgrounds that are surrounded by fences & gates that WB cannot climb to escape while you have a newborn on your breast – that’s when the toddlers make a break for it.

    Godspeed.

    Mitzi Green January 21, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    as mother to #1, who is male, and will be almost 7 years old when #2 (also male) is born, i can agree with prior commenters that the penis-as-garden-hose theory is definitely overrated. they learn pretty quickly that penis-as-weapon is unacceptable. (and the more vivid your description of what will happen to said penis if used as weapon, the better.) i can, however, also commiserate with your fear of having 2 identical whirling dirvishes. i have harbored the same fear since finding out i’m having male #2. everyone insists #2 is NEVER like #1, and if they’re wrong, i’ll be taking some hostages.

    MommyTime January 21, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Well, “have penis will fire” IS true. I remember lying in bed watching Husband change 2 week old Son. Baby’s member starts to get a little erect, I — exhausted and still not fully mobile — see what is coming and try to shout out a warning. But all I manage, completely ineffectually, is “Oh…his penis…his penis!” Husband looks at me confused, and Son sprays down Husband, wall, and changing table. Very thoroughly. I almost fell out of bed laughing. Which was not nice. Which is why the same thing happened to me a week later, even though I knew to keep the little missile covered during changings. Moral: always keep a clean cloth diaper handy while changing newborn boys. This problem seems to disappear by the time they are a month or two old. PURPOSEFUL use as a firehose or whatnot will be YEARS in coming. And by then, WB will certainly be potty trained, etc.

    As for the two thing, I had Daughter when Son was just over two, and he was just like WB. Daughter is — if humanly possible — far braver than Son ever was about the climbing, etc. But now that she’s really old enough to do that (nearly two), his “mature” 4-year-old self has settled down a bit. Not in volume. Not in speed. Not in daring-do. But in judgment. Which is a major thing.

    Good luck. You’ll WILL figure it all out, and live to tell about it, even if #2 learns how to climb stairs at 12 mos.

    nomotherearth January 21, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Well, you could end up with something like the Boy – who is a non-aggressive non-Alpha male. Since you already have the Alpha personality in your house, I’m betting on the fact that Lil Sprout will learn quickly how to fit in to the family dynamic.

    Of course, I could be wrong..;-)

    Good luck!

    mothergoosemouse January 21, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    And that is why I know that if WB and CJ were ever to join forces, we’d be sunk.

    And also why it’s really only that extra appendage that’s the source of my trepidation. Because I’ve joked all along that CJ was as close to a boy as I could handle. Instead, I’m about to find out how much I can handle.

    I’ll keep you posted, my friend.

    Jaelithe January 21, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Ha! I bet you that just to spite his sister, Sprout will be timid and bookish. (It CAN happen with boys. My son is timid and bookish. Well, except for the occasional weird testosterone-related “Who’s the pack leader?” contests of will he occasionally has with his father. You’ll get to experience those first hand no matter what the boy’s personality, I think.)

    kittenpie January 21, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    I hear peepee teepees help…

    Good god. I live in fear of having a boy. I better have another girl. Because as un-PC as it is to say it, boys are quite a breed apart in general, though certainly not in every case. Still. Scary. I can only wait to read the tales!

    Dana J. Tuszke January 21, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Those boy parts can be scary. I agree! ;)

    Corey January 21, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I got sprayed/peed on more by my daughter than by my son. I’m not sure how that is but she had a talent for it. I thought we were done but at the beginning of potty training, if you were standing in front of her, she somehow got it to shoot forward and soak your leg. Craziness.

    Her Bad Mother January 21, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Ah, Jaelithe – timid and bookish? I so totally wish. SO WISH.

    Redneck Mommy January 21, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    It’s a right of honour to be peed on by a baby boy.

    Or so my husband said as I was wiping the pee off my face…

    Maggie January 21, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    “I’m never quite sure, myself, what life-form she most resembles. Toddler, I suppose.”

    Classic. And brilliant.

    Heather January 21, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    You know, I remember thinking some of those things about my daughter before my son was born. Turns out that she mellowed just as he got to be the handful. Wonderbaby will probably surprise you and be a great big sister and settle down a little as she gets older.

    Hopefully she’ll fall in love with her little brother like my daughter did.

    Anyway, you’ll be great. It will take some adjustment (I was also terrified of what to do with my boy once I brought him home) but soon you’ll wonder what you were worried about.

    Mary G January 21, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    At least velcro has removed the very real possibility of pinning little guy’s penis to his diaper.

    He may be mellow like his daddy and give you no trouble until he is old enough to make puns.

    My husband built me a mobile fence on wheels which we called ‘the rabbit pen’ and which saved my sanity. I will try and find a picture of it and post it.

    You sound so happy, tears and fears or not. Hope things continue to go well

    Mayberry January 21, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    I think you’ve earned that timid, bookish one.

    slouching mom January 21, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    Dunno. My Jack is about as far from hyper and on-the-go as they come. And last time I checked, he was male. ;)

    crazymumma January 22, 2008 at 12:22 am

    could go either way hon. flip of that coin ya know.

    loving the writing these days. not commenting much but the writing. mmm hm. good stuff.

    Mama Drama Jenny, the Bloggess January 22, 2008 at 7:19 am

    From what I hear, the white flag will be yellow with urine soon anyway.

    Surrender, Dorothy.

    Naomi (Urban Mummy) January 22, 2008 at 10:14 am

    I have two boys. I was, like you, petrified at the thought before I had them.

    Couple things. First and foremost, best piece of advice I got – If it’s pointing up, pee is coming. Other then that, I have to tell you, I rarely got peed upon, and only in the first few weeks. Just remember to point the penis down when diapering.

    Boys are intense in their love, intense in their play and bundles of energy. But oh can they cuddle!

    You’ll be fine!

    Miss Perfect January 22, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Hee hee – a built in spray hose. I have a son, and he does have one, though really, I promise, peeing on stuff is the least of our concerns.
    The penis issue is more about the fact that (at 3) he is soooo proud of it and likes to show people, whip it out, play with it etc.
    But other than that …
    I think it really is about the actual child more than the gender. I’ve got a super-hyper little boy, but there are tons of boys at the daycare who are calm.
    And yet my son has a little girl friend who is just as wild as he is.
    Anyway, I get your fear. I have 9 weeks to go, and I’m more than a little terrified.

    Anonymous January 22, 2008 at 11:22 am

    hi catherine,my son is the only quiet one in the bunch always has been….and i hear you about the white flag….my 3 daughters are each one different yet they all have some degree of stubborness…i am terrified of when the 3 year old will be a teenager as she already exhibits even more of a strong will than i have….and constantly outsmarts me some how.and before i get too her i have to survive my 7 year old who is quiet but fiercly determined….and i am besieged by my 15 year old daughter who like the tide ebbs and flows with hormonal moods that almost equal my menopausal ones LAVANDULA

    Hannah January 22, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    You know what I have experienced regarding the boy-penis. I’d like to tell you it will be fine. But I can’t.

    Get lots of cleaning supplies, wear a smock in the house, and kiss cleanliness goodbye.

    But there are so many hugs and kisses, not to mention the smell of little-boy hair that WILL NOT WASH OUT but is so delicious you just have to pin them down and smell them sometimes. It’ll be fun. I promise.

    Karen January 22, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    I’ve never met a toddler that hasn’t had his or her mother raising the white flag at some point. Just hold out as long as you can.

    pkzcass January 22, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    I’m guessing you’ll have a very mellow baby boy. My first son was/is a whirlpool of energy and I feared for my life that #2 would be the same way. But his is the exact opposite of his brother in many, many ways. The first noticeable one being the son #2 was mesmerized by TV at 5 months, while son #1 would sit still to watch anything till about 2-1/2 years. And that was only for 20-minute increments.

    I think that birth order or sex has nothing to do with it. I think it’s just the genetic makeup of your kids. I hope your baby boy is as calm and loveable as my second son is.

    As for the peeing, just make sure you put a cloth on the penis when changing the diaper, and you’ll be fine. If you get squirted, just remember, it’s baby pee and pretty harmless. It’s when they start holding it all night that it becomes toxic.

    Phoenix January 22, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    My oldest niece is alot like WB. (Although at six she has calmed down a bit.) However my younger niece is the exact oppisite. Challenging in her own ways of course, but a welcome change from her sister. You’ll be okay, I know it. Second kids tend to be easier in general. They have to be, because they’re siblings take up so much dam room. :)

    Mom101 January 22, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Maybe it’s selfish, but I’m all for more boys in the world being raised by strong, ed’cated, feminist, kick-ass mamas. I look forward to hearing only greatness about him.

    cheezewhizandmustard January 22, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Peepee Tipis. They work well when the boy is compliant with diaper changes. Then, when the wonderful age of rolling and limb flailing starts, the tipi can no longer help you.

    Wishful Mommy January 22, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Love your blog and had not commented in awhile. You are going to be a wonderful mother to two, regardless of what they are into.

    Found this that you might love!
    http://www.chasing-fireflies.com/prodinfo.asp?number=25137&top=

    Girl con Queso January 23, 2008 at 1:23 am

    Boys rule. You will love the blue thing. Especially since you’re already living with a hyperintelligent adolescent jacked up on Twinkies. The puppy dog tails will be a snap.

    LisaDuvall January 23, 2008 at 9:05 am

    I’m a mother of two armed with the penis. It’s hard. It’s wild. It’s loud. It’s messy. And it’s amazing. My boys are so much more lovey and snuggly then my daughter. They’re the ones who seem to need my kisses and hugs more. They’re also the ones who figured out how to move the kitchen chairs to the counter and a small toy box on top of the counter to reach the bag of marshmallows, but that’s how it goes I guess. You’ll be fine. You’ll just have to clean marshmallows out of the toilet.

    kgirl January 23, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I think you’re pretty much ready for anything, and don’t worry, if and when the time comes, siblings make for great, built-in sparring partners.

    Lady M January 24, 2008 at 4:20 am

    My sister (also expecting a boy) was given a “Weeblock” at her baby shower – basically a cup shaped sponge that you place on the little boy. We didn’t use one for Q, but it’s an entertaining concept:

    http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2574753

    Damselfly January 24, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Ah, I can relate. WonderBaby and Fly together in a room of terrorists would make the terrorists cry out for mercy, recanting.

    Whenever I have thought about having a second child, I just assumed the second one would have to be the sugar-and-spice kind. Because there has to be balance in the universe. And because two independent, high-strung children one right after the other would just be cruel (to me).

    ;)

    Jozet at Halushki January 25, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Heh…I just used the puppy dog tails line before reading this.

    Don’t be worried about any “boys-will-be-boys” craziness. My eldest gave me far more of a run for my money than most boys I’ve ever met, and there was a long while that she wasn’t allowed to play at certain boys houses because she played too rough. And these were rough boys. She settled down nicely.

    And The Boy is just the sweetest kid, best sleeper out of all three, and loves “helping” me do my chores – something I still can’t get out of his sisters.

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