posts tagged with 'zion'

on poop

This post is about poop. It is only about poop. Not metaphorical poop, real actual poop that came out of someone's butt and spread all over my home and furniture. This post is about how my child pooped over twenty times last thursday, screaming and kicking and running away from me when I tried to clean him off. But I can't start at that part of the story, I have to go to the beginning. Let me back up.

Haha, get it? That was the first pooping joke.

From the beginning of his life, Zion was a baby who only POOPED every few days. But in between he would (poop) tiny little amounts all the time. Every wet diaper had a (poopy) smear, but no big as the POOP which sometimes emerged only with grunting and hiding in a corner. Still, up to age two the difficulty rarely bothered him, and berries seemed to make a healthy difference. I figured I was doing my best and the streaking would stop once he stopped wearing diapers.

Fast forward to potty training. This transition was difficult. Zion is stubborn and he doesn't like being told what to do. It wouldn't be a stretch to say he views his life in our family as some sort of perpetual fight club. So if I tell him to sit on the potty, he hits me. With Zion, the first rule of potty training is WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT POTTY TRAINING.

He decided he didn't like to poop in the potty, so although he was toilet trained for pee pretty early he waited until his overnight diaper to drop one. When we found out his diaper was dry all night (but filled with poop ten minutes into the morning) we stopped diapers all together. This was easier for me because I stopped getting punched in the morning when I said, "It's time to take off your diaper."

But on Zion it was considerably harder.

Harder, get it? That's another joke about poop. Let's laugh at the fact that my child is now constantly constipated.

The past few months have seen Zion saving his POOPS for once or twice a week, and then (pooping) in his undies all the frigging time. Sometimes he goes through five pairs of pants in one day. When I see some spot on my floor or furniture, I look at it sideways and think, "Is this dirt, chocolate, or poop?"

Kind of like a fun gameshow except ending with considerable more wet rags.

The kicker though, (in addition to Zion himself) is that Zion won't eat when he's all stopped up. So he doesn't eat, he's tired and grumpy, and at his last physical the doctor noted that he's dropped down to first percentile for weight.

I explained to the doctor about his POOP and (poops).

"Some kids do this for emotional reasons," the pediatrician said, "but I'd try giving him a stool softener and a laxative to get a clean start."

So last weekend I started the recommended stool softener once a day. One cap full of MiraLAX mixed in with chocolate milk. Unfortuantely, Zion wouldn't drink more than two sips of his chocolate milk, or anything for that matter, so I kept mixing more MiraLAX with more liquids in the hopes that Zion would consume some.

Two days went by with no POOP. On Monday morning Harvey called me into the bathroom.

"I don't feel sick," he started, "but I think I may be sick. Because my poop smells like it does when I'm sick."

"Is it all watery?" I asked.


"Then stop finishing Zion's chocolate milk for him."

On Tuesday I gave Zion a chocolate laxative chew. He didn't poop. On Wednesday I gave him another one.

I was starting to think that Zion had bowels of steel. That maybe he was really and truly holding the universe together with his anal sphincter.

Then the medicine caught up to him and the universe fell appart.

On Thursday Zion pooped his pants while we were out at the Museum of Science. Twice. Then we came home and he pooped his pants immediately upon entering the house. I bent down to take off his shoes and they were covered in poop. That was the first of something like twenty poop explosions. He'd fought me through three baths and countless other wipe-downs, sometimes screaming, sometimes running away, sometimes kicking water in my face like the dog I used to bathe before I had children. There was poop smeared on all the toilets and the floor and we used every single rag we own. Then we used towels. Meanwhile the baby was screaming because he wanted me, or he wanted more attention, or he wanted to put his hand in the toilet. Somehow we survived the night and got everyone into bed. In the quiet darkness Dan and I looked at each other like we'd just been through a war.

I hadn't known until this incident how much emotion Zion had been channeling through NOT POOPING. Not pooping is, I believe, the way he deals with all the tragedy of his current life situation. Not being the baby, not being the fastest, wanting to make his own decisions but needing to sublimate his will to that of his big brother. He loves his baby brother but he's jealous of him too. All that feeling he couldn't deal with he dealt with via not pooping. With the bonus of when he did make a mess Mama had to stop everything and clean it up.

So when the little dictator fell via coup d'exlax he started taking his emotions out on us in other ways. On Friday he pushed the baby down every time he passed him. He kicked each one of us when we tried to touch him, and tried to hit Elijah with the front door. When we got out of the car to go to lunch at the nursing home, instead of walking out to the median strip like normal, he ran ten feet away and hid behind a parked car. I climbed out of the car holding my purse and the baby and Zion was nowhere to be seen. I called, "Zion? Zion where's you?" with increasing levels of panic.

When I found him I was so glad he was alive I wanted to punch him in the face. Instead I yelled at him until I was sure he was crying for the right reasons.

He was too scared to poop in public after that, so we had a lovely lunch. But he shit his pants as soon as we got home. Literally, in the car, in the driveway.

We were having people over for dinner on Friday. I cleaned the bathrooms diligently. I took all the poopy laundry to the basement. Even so there was a lingering smell, and we served food out on the lawn.

While I was eating, Zion ran up to me and leapt onto my lap. Suddenly I felt poop running down my leg. At the same moment of our guests kneeled down to kiss his daughter and realized he had stuck his knee in a small pile of human excrement.

On Saturday Zion napped for four hours and when he woke up he was happier than I've seen him in weeks. Maybe he really did need a cleaning out, or maybe we should NEVER EVER GIVE HIM A LAXATIVE EVER AGAIN. I'm not sure how to interpret the situation.

In reality, I think the issue is bigger than digestion. Perhaps I cannot solve his pooping problem, because he does not just have a pooping problem. He has a LIFE problem. The problem is I straight up f-ed up his life by having a baby. He is mad and he doesn't know how to express himself. Given the opportunity, shitting on everything seems like a good start.


Zion's blue monkeys

When asked what he wanted for his birthday this year, Zion would pout and mutter, "Everything," or "Nothing." Sometimes he would just put his thumb in his mouth and scowl at me. To other people he announced that he was turning two, not four.

The pour child. He has some issues.

Despite his obstinant regression, I still wanted to make Zion a present to commemorate his birthday. I still love him, even if he's not the baby anymore. Even if he craps his pants four times a day and tries to kick me in the tits when I unbuckle his carseat, I still love that little gremlin. He had asked a while back for a sock monkey just like Harvey's, only BLUE, so I whipped up this striped lady.

blue because Zion likes blue

But that didn't seem to be enough, given the emotional intensity of the situation. So I sewed an additional component. Zion had a pair of wool socks he never wore. He is super particular about his socks; they have to be dark blue cotton with scratchy letters on the bottom. Indeed, he's said to me, "Even when I grow as big as you I'll still wear socks with scratchy letters." So in honor of Zion's definitiveness on this and every other subject I took his non-standard wool socks and turned them into a baby monkey.

baby because baby is an important concept in our emotional universe

Mama and baby monkeys both have velcro hands and feet, so that they can hug Zion or each other as he sees fit. It's my subtle way of saying to my stubborn child: You can't get rid of me that easy. Hit me, hate me, my love for you is like mother-f-ing velcro.

i love you Mama monkey

Zion is going to be okay in the long run. I's legitimately hard being four. It's hard not being the baby, being little, being bossed around by the person you love most in the whole world, your dominating older brother. Zion's anger is good and honest resistance to the difficulties he faces. As a resistor myself I want to tell him something like: Go on with your bad self. It's okay. Just come to me when you need a hug. You crazy little monkey.

i love you baby monkey.


Zion starts to turn four

the cake: white frosting with blue sugar and blueberries

blue cake

We had Zion's "friend party" today, kicking off at least three days of birthday extravaganza for our favorite middle child. Should be four days, now that I think about it. Since he's a little brother, the red candle in the cake pictured above is a hand-me-down, but the rest of the cake is blue to his specifications; those blodges on the top are meant to be flowers.

There were 15 kids kicking around at one time or another, but it felt like a pretty small, relaxed gathering. We started off with lunch: spaghetti, chicken nuggets, and quesadillas as requested, plus watermelon and chocolate milk. Ollie made sure to get a good seat for the feast.

Ollie enjoying lunch on a big lawn chair

concentrating on the food

Then we opened presents—we decided to do it before desert when we found Zion sitting on the stairs inside. "I'm lookin at my presents," he told us. From his friends he got bubbles and a golf set, a pirate puzzle, and a popgun that instantly captured his attention.

Zion shooting his new popgun, birthday guests in the background


I didn't have anything for him, but Mama more than made up for me with a pair of beautiful blue sock monkeys (I also expect she got some good pictures that she'll put up here soon!). Both of them are tucked in bed with the birthday boy now, along with the blue cow that Harvey sewed him last year.

I suppose my part in the celebration was the cake, and I had a great time making it with lots of help from Zion this morning. The frosting was a great frustration later, but I'm almost ready to let that go, and I'm grateful to Zion that he happily accepted my icing "flowers", never mind they don't look anything like the ones on the cakes at Market Basket that gave him the idea. I bet they were a lot tastier, though.

While he enjoyed the flowers and the top layer of blueberry cake, though, he saved most of his desert appetite for his true love.

Zion concentrating on his chocolate ice-cream cone

that's the stuff

Over the past couple weeks Zion's been showing some apprehension about his birthday, so we were glad to see him having fun. When I asked him at bedtime what was his favorite part of the day, he said, "my birthday party" (never mind that he could have picked a more specific moment out of the five hours of fun). He also said, earlier, that he didn't want his party to end. I had good news for him on that: there's lots more celebration to come!


more than one roof

I spent most of today in a first grade classroom, and one of the things I helped the kids with was developing a programmatic understanding of pluralization in English. You know, s after most words; when a word ends with consonant-y "drop the y and add ies"; and the rule for when you need to add es. The style in schools now is to teach things like that explicitly, which is fine—there was a penguin on the printed sheet to provide a minimal amount of fun, and I don't think anyone felt their time was too much wasted. But in real life, pluralization is pretty automatic (see "wug test"). We don't really need to remember that es follows x, s, or ch... it just seems to make sense.

Of course, we learn those patterns automatically as young people, and it's possible for language learners to overgeneralize. Zion does! And when I think about it, I totally agree with him. He hears "batches" and thinks, fine, how about "pathes"? And if th, why not f as well? I'm a big fan of "roofes" (pronounced roofiz), which I think is yards better than the current confusion. Is it "roofs"? "rooves"? Horses have "hooves", right? Hmm, what was that I said about automatic pluralization? I take it all back. Can I have some direct instruction please?


first snowy day

snow falling in our yard

morning snow

We finally got some noticeable snow around here, and the boys were desperately eager to go out in it as soon as they could.

Zion on his back making a snow angel, with snow falling on his face

snow angel

Snow angels have been on Zion's mind lately; he clearly wasn't satisfied by his ice angel and took the first available opportunity to make the real thing happen. It's wonderful to see him finally really enjoying the snow; I guess the problem before was just not being three. This winter he's wholeheartedly in favor: after putting in a couple snow angels he crawled around the ground for the next half-hour being a dog and eating snow.

Rascal running towards the camera in the snow

he gets excited too

The real dog ran considerably faster than puppy Zion—he also missed the snow overt the last month and a half. And Harvey climbed the ladder to the maple tree to eat the snow up there—maybe it tastes more rich and rare 15 feet above ground level. We also tried some flat-ground sledding, with me pulling the boys on the runner sled and flinging them forward. The snow was pretty sticky, but after we waxed the runners things ran well enough.

some food

steamy warm

When we got as wet as we could get we went inside and I made an appropriate snowy-day lunch: grilled cheese, tomato soup, and pickles. And hot chocolate, of course; and this time the whipped cream worked.

Later I took Rascal for a walk, and on my way home I was ashamed to notice that ours was just about the only house on the street without at least one gigantic snowman. Never mind that the boys wanted to finish the board game they were playing with Mama, I had to defend our honor. They came out a little later, in time to help me just the tiniest bit, play with their friend from next door, and get in on the commemorative photo.

Harvey, Zion, and their friend pose with my big snowman

big snowman, little kids

Then inside again for supper; for desert we had maple syrup poured over a bowlful of snow. What more could we ask for?


this moment

Zion lying on his back on the pond ice, making an ice angel

ice angel

A moment from the week.

this moment

Harvey and Zion in winter gear on the hammock

still hammocking

A moment from the week.

playing with his food

It's a classic correction to tell kids not to play with their food, so I laughed the other day when a friend of Zion's who was over for dinner tried it out on him. It was totally justified in that he was indeed playing with his food, making two pieces of his garlic bread walk around and talk with each other... pretty typical, actually.

I can see why parents might object to that sort of thing. Some kids have trouble eating enough healthy food, or even enough food at all. Zion might even be one of them: today for supper he had two bits of corn bread, for example. But with Harvey as our first child we never got into the habit of encouraging more eating, so it's easy for us to let that slide. Play at the table can also get noisy and disruptive to other diners, and in that case I certainly don't hesitate to shut it down. But mostly our boys know how to walk the line between charmingly silly (or at least ignorable) and oh-my-goodness out of control. Our version of the line, anyways.

And I even see a good side to how Zion plays with his food. Like his brother before him, the three-year-old Zion lives in a world of stories, where everything is playing something else and all the things have desires and motivations of their own. Yesterday his slice of cheese was being threatened with jail by, I believe, a fork. And with food, the characters are constantly being transformed by their author: the cheese had to change its story after Zion ate the piece he was using for its mouth. I won't attribute any great educational import to this sort of play, but I figure all this practice storytelling can't hurt, so I'll happily let it go. As long as it stays at indoor volumes, of course.


growing up too fast and not fast enough

Harvey lost his first tooth last night. This morning he asked me to help him sew a little bag to keep it with him always. (The tooth fairy is not a thing in our household because I believe in removing all the magic from childhood.) Harvey pressed the pedal of the sewing machine and guided the fabric himself. Here he is pressing the reverse button to make a knot.

those chubby hands atop my machine make me swoon

And here he is 15 minutes later with the finished project. His baby tooth is inside the bag and no longer at the bottom of his mouth.

Harvey smiling to show his missing tooth and holding the bag he made for it

triumphant big boy and seamster Harvey

Meanwhile, Zion is reliably potty trained within our house. He received a big plastic pirate ship as his present for using the potty. Both the ship and Zion's swift mastery of toileting are pretty epic.

no pants makes the whole process easier

In every way my babies are growing up so fast.

Well... maybe not all my babies. Elijah is still mostly doing the same stuff. Smiling, being carried around. Nursing.

happy as long as he being held

For several weeks I've been complaining that Elijah seems behind in his fine motor development. At six months both Harvey and Zion could sit up and play intentionally with a toy. They'd shake a rattle, bang it on something, and bring it to their mouthes. Elijah is able to hold a toy and gnaw it, but that's the extent. He doesn't seem to be able to get the "right" part in his mouth, and to my mind he's frustrated by his lack of coordination. Also he refuses to sit, though he's pretty happy about EVERYTHING ELSE. That could be the reason he's not progressed as quickly as his brothers. He's just so jolly content to be a baby, why would he try to do anything else?

I'm a cutie, love me.

I decided to get Elijah evaluated by Early Intervention to see if the experts agree with me that he's a month behind. Early Intervention is a government-mandated program that provides free specialist services to any child who falls below the 30th percentile in an area of development. Evaluation is paid for by insurance and completely free to end users. To qualify for services a child has to be significantly delayed in one specific area, either gross motor, fine motor, communication, or social. You can't have a child who's a little bit of a loser across the board... I mean you can but you won't get help for it.

The baby evaluation team came out to my house yesterday - a nurse, a nutritionist and an OT. They asked me a lot of questions and ran Elijah through a series of tests, all while filling in the little circles in a standardized test workbook. "SI A is a 2" the nutritionist would say to the nurse taking notes, and I would think to myself "Two is good? Which is to say, it's bad?"

At the end of an hour they tallied up all Elijah's scores. Vindication, he IS about a month behind in his fine motor development. His ability to grasp a toy and vaguely put it to his mouth (but not reach for a rasin or transfer one hand to the other) puts him squarely at a 5-month level. This is not enough to qualify him for services, however. He's in 35th percentile for fine motor which just isn't bad enough.

"But he did qualify for services," the nurse told me, "just not in any area you were worried about. He qualified for his communication."

Oh. Apparently my child is supposed to be making sounds or something.

Maybe I never noticed before because there's so much other noise in the house, but he's supposed to be linking consonants and vowels in a stream of babbel. Or at least copying the noises I make when I repeat his sounds back to him. He doesn't do any of that yet. Instead he's just smiles back happily, glad for the attention.

I never noticed it before; to me he communicates just fine. He silently whispers, "I'm the baby; love me." And I comply. What else is there to know?

The good news is that qualifying for Early Intervention in this area gives him access to all services for all the areas where he's behind. This means he'll get help for sitting and for playing, as well as the areas I was neglecting. Even though I feel like a bit of a boob, I'd call that a win all around.

Having three children is harder than having two, to say something stunningly obvious. I hate to admit that each of my children get less of me, because that's an argument against my decision making and religious family planning and everything else. But practically, it's true; each of my children gets a little less Mama because there are two others vying for my attention. I don't know what this means for the future. For the time being I'm just grateful for a little bit of extra help.


growing up, all of them

After months of productive prep-work and couter-productive passive agression, Zion finally decided he was ready to use the potty this week. Or more to the point, he was ready to reap the heaping pile of rewards we had layered one atop the other if he'd just pee, nay just sit, nay just TRY to go near the potty. Here he is yesterday sitting beneath his sticker chart (which earns him a visit to Chuck E Cheese), eating M&Ms (which he got just for sitting down), doing the deed that's about to earn him a "Jake and the Neverland Pirates Musical Bucky Pirate Ship," a plastic abomination that he saw at Target while we were shopping for camping gear and that I promised him could be his if he would just pee in the potty. I've promised him a lot of prizes over the past three months, but the pirate ship was the one his little brain held onto, the one that finally got him to say "I want to pee in the potty and then you order my pirate ship." Mama's no-disney, no-tv-tie-in, no-plastic-toys rules be damned.


Unfortunately, I now learn that the item in question is no longer sold at Target. I am waiting to see if I win an ebay auction for a used one before I fork over thirty five bucks for it new on Amazon. He's pooped in the potty three times so far, but still that's a rather steep cost per turd.

This great leap forward comes at a time when all my children seem to ge growing in bravery. Harvey tried a bike without training wheels for the second time today. He also let me cut his hair with the electric clippers for the first time. (The key was to pretend he was TinTin and I was a foreign barber, and say "Mr. TinTin" in a funny accent) Now his haircuts take half as long and he looks like a real big boy.

our first ride together with this setup. You can't see his haircut in this picture, but oh my word does he look grown up.

Elijah grows bigger every day. At nearly 6 months he's fitting into 12-month onesies. Until August he was way ahead in gross motor skills, even starting to inch forward on his stomach, but a month of near-constant illness set him back. Still, he did have one major change in the past month - he's able to prop himself up in the exercauser for a few minutes at a time. Since he can't hold himself up sitting yet, it's super fun to watch him lean forward in the saucer and play with some toys.

outside having fun

He reminds me of Zion who loooooved that thing.

Zion in his Exersaucer holding a spoon


And here's Harvey who never had an exercauser, but had to make do with a bjorn baby sitter and ikea play gym in front of it. With a constant input of personal attention, somehow he managed.

it's winter now; we have to wear hats even indoors

it's winter now; we have to wear hats even indoors

Dragging up these old images makes me reflect on my babies and how they just keep getting bigger. I don't want to say "They grow up so fast," I don't even believe that. Between those baby pictures and the current ones I remember A LOT of days I wished could have passed by quicker. No, it's that I look at Harvey and Zion in those pictures and I think, "I hardly knew you then!" I see the wry smile in Zion, the wild eyes in Harvey, and I think, "That was you, but not all the way you. I had no idea." Then I look at Elijah and I think: "Who are you, little man?"

But maybe that's unfair. Right now Elijah is a baby and I love baby him 100%. I love Zion 100% as a 3-year-old and Harvey 100% as a 5-year old even though I'm sure they'll change many times before they leave my care. Each of them holds a future that's full of surprises. Some surprises will amaze me and make me exclaim "I hardly knew!" Some may be plastic and even, gulp, Disney themed. I can only pray that I'll keep pace with the changes, to trust the process, and to trust my kids enough next time that I buy the stupid toy when it's actually on sale.