Raising Mommy: it takes a son to raise his mother

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The classic Teddy bear (Photo via Wikipedia)
The classic Teddy bear
(Photo via Wikipedia)

While my son doesn’t sleep with stuffed animals, he has a few choice favorites in the fuzzy friend category. Thumper, from the Disney film Bambi, laughingly spews unintelligible phrases that some poor voiceover actor was paid to say. Lambie (I had my own lambie when I was a baby, but mine was filthy and had no legs) is a wind up animal that played a goodnight song of some sort. I don’t remember which song it was, because I accidentally went ballistic one night and tried unwind while it was playing so I could maintain the level of quiet that is necessary for my son to fall asleep. Now it sings a horrifying loop of mechanical nonsense. I can’t win.

Dante still loves his lambie. He has also very fondly taken to his plush monkey since he discovered that I will make goofy primate sounds whenever he shoves it in my face. Still, he doesn’t fall asleep with any of his friends.

Last month, he destroyed his adorable, jungle-themed mobile just because I wasn’t right outside of his door when he woke up from a nap. He likes to nuzzle in blankets, but doesn’t have a favorite blankie. Most of the time, he wants me to skip the ceremonial bedtime book and song so he can drink his nightcap and fall asleep.

Curious George is a new kind of Jack-in-the-Box. (Photo provided by Virginia Petrucci)
Curious George is a new kind of Jack-in-the-Box.
(Photo provided by Virginia Petrucci)

All of this behavior is rather adult and self-assured. He needs comforting, of course, when he is upset or cranky. But he is a very confident and well-adjusted boy, and has behaved in an oddly un-baby like manner for much of his life.

On the other hand, I still have a blankie that has endured these twenty-six years of mine, and is actually a knotted lump of  “old blankie” and “new blankie” from my very early childhood. I think I’ve had the thing since I was younger than Dante. I slept with it through high school, took it with me to college, and still hold it as I fall asleep at night. Yeah, I know.

And I’ve taken to sleeping with one of Dante’s small belongings, because I’m so obsessed with him that I miss him during the eight to ten hours of sleep we strive for each night. A treasured sock, a benign and silent stuffed animal, a personalized blanket — most anything will do. He’ll probably be singing me to sleep by the time he’s five years old.

I’ve come to realize that one of the best parts of being a parent is getting to relive your own childhood as your baby discovers new books, toys, movies, and places. Or at least attempt to do so.

Playgrounds of today. (Photo via Wikipedia)
Playgrounds of today.
(Photo via Wikipedia)

My hometown is a six or seven hour drive from us. Even if it wasn’t, all of the sketchy wood and metal contraptions known as playgrounds have been replaced by sprawling plastic entities that promote learning for some stupid reason. What kid wants to look at a giant picture detailing various species of marine life when he can just fall off of the monkey bars and brag about it?

At least literature hasn’t betrayed me. Sure, there is a new crop of overly musical and socially sensitive children’s books. But old favorites such a Good Night Moon, Pat the Bunny, The Cat in the Hat, Corduroy, Harold and the Purple Crayon and The Snowy Day. For kids not living near snow, read with caution; they will be under the impression that snow is soft and friendly until they visit Lake Tahoe for the first time and narrowly eschew frost-bite. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and the very necessary Everyone Poops are still readily available. You can even purchase them in archaic paper book form if you are a Kindle deprived sap.

Playgrounds of tomorrow — in Japan. (Photo via Wikipedia)
Playgrounds of tomorrow — in Japan.
(Photo via Wikipedia)

Toys have become so advanced that I can’t figure out half of their functions. I purchased several nesting doll type sets for Dante, so as to encourage goal oriented opening and closing, shape-specific motor ability, and a hazardous addition to the mounting mess in the living room.

Two of these sets have given me an obnoxious amount of trouble when trying to put them back together. Once, as I sat rigidly trying to force a layered rainbow “ball” back into shape, Dante pushed one piece into another, threw me a disgusted look, and crawled off to finish his floor crumb duty.

The more I think about it, the more I notice the differences between my son’s generation and my own. He’s experiencing a very different time than the stinky late eighties and early nineties of my youth. By the time he’s in preschool, he’s going to be the only three year old without his own iPad. By the time he reaches kindergarten, he’s going to be the only six-year old on the block without his own cell phone. By the time he’s in fourth grade, he’s going to be the only boob without his own laptop, and won’t be able to check his Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/Blog via the Elementary School wifi.

Dante will have phone numbers memorized; he won't need a cell phone memory card. (Photo provided by Virginia Petrucci)
Dante will have phone numbers memorized; he won’t need a cell phone memory card.
(Photo provided by Virginia Petrucci)

By the time he’s in Junior High, he’ll be the only kid in his class who can memorize a phone number other than his own, and this will lead to peer admiration of the Olympic athlete variety. When he takes his date to prom, he’ll be the only one driving himself rather than being escorted by the latest Butler Bot. When he gets to college, he’ll be the only one able to navigate, cook, clean, shop, and socialize without the assistance of the universal nanny known as Siri.

Throughout the course of my son’s upbringing I will surely discover new and questionable trends. Still, I’m intent upon exposing him to the abundance of simple wonders from my childhood. Perhaps there is a selfish motive here, so I can momentarily return to the comfort and warmth of being young. Perhaps one’s maturation into true adulthood is only complete once we relinquish our longing for our own past so we can create a future for our children. In some ways, my son is raising me as much as I am raising him. It’s a Lion King worthy circle of life, sans the antelope slaughter.