Thursday, August 14, 2008

Toddler Culture Shock

We moved to Pennsylvania. We're here. (This post overlaps my other blog's post somewhat, just so y'know.)

We said bye-bye to home and Limelet's favorite "Auntie" babysitter/neighbor. I think he did understand that we were leaving for good. Poor little thing developed daily diarrhea during the week we were packing, and it's continued until now, though it's a little less bad now. He also stopped eating very much at all the week before we moved. He had a checkup and was in good shape physically--I think it's just been the anxiety of everyting changing and him not knowing what was going to happen next or influence it. The boxes completely filling that tiny, squalid apartment didn't help at all, nor did having stressed-out parents, I'm sure.

The train trip was 27 hours of hassle, but still not as bad as taking Limelet in the car would have been. At least he slept and ate. The really annoying part was that the first leg of the trip was changed from 4 hours of train to hours of bus--train--bus; this meant that I had to get off and on numerous conveyances wityh a toddler and all my luggage and drag it all around in the sweltering heat three times instead of just getting on a train and spreading out. I took as little as possible, but still with a small child you have to take a lot of stuff that may never get used, because you never know which thing will be necessary.

Lucky for both of us he likes buses and trains, and looking out the window and eating snack crackers was pretty entertaining for most of it. I'm so glad I had a couple of slings along, because then Limelet felt secure and I could drag my luggage and old tickets and whatnot. Oh, I also had a new collapsible Jeep stroller that someone left at the laundry "donation" area of our old place just a couple days before we left. That was incredibly helpful, too, because it's a stroller he actually likes being in (higher up, and can sit up straight and see things instead of being forced to recline). I like it because it's very maneuverable.

Also lucky is that I'm still nursing, given his reduced appetite and increased need for comfort and snuggulations lately. I bought a few (used) interesting toys for him to play with, but one unexpectedly came with a siren and I didn't get it out; the other one was a little Leapfrog music device that he loved at a neigbbor's, but turned out to be a lot less interested in on the train. Oh well.

People were mostly nice and often helpful, at least the passengers, especially the women. Most of the people who spontaneously helped me with my baggage were women. However, there were a surprising number of conductors who were less than understanding of a mother traveling alone with a toddler.

Limelet loves our "newome". He actually has space to walk around and play inside the house, as well as a fenced back yard with a Boston terrier nextdoor who is exceedingly accepting of Limelet's feeding him miniscule pieces of sticks. TheLimey made sure to install baby gates before he left, as Limelet is obsessed with our stairs and will not stay off them. For some reason he narrates stair-climbing (or -descending) by chanting "Oh-dee, oh-dee, oh-dee." This may stem from Go Dog Go in which dogs climb a ladder up a tree ("Up the tree, up the tree!"), but I'm not sure.

His language development grew completely weed-wild in the week or two before we moved. I think this was developmental rather than situational. I can actually have a conversation with him now, although I don't know that others would understand his responses. But it's clear that he understands what I'm saying to him. What's strange for us, his parents, was realizing that he can talk about a lot of things that occurred during the past year for which he didn't have language at the time, and that he remembers things a lot further back than we imagined.

His communicative leap has been helpful in being able to explain important things to him now, too, such as moving or going to the doctor. I always tell him when there's going to be something unpleasant so that it's not out of the blue, like when he got his recent shot. And I'm now able to tell him that we are or are not going to day care, because it got so that he would become pensive when we were driving anywhere. I figured out that it was because he was waiting for the day care shoe to drop, so now I tell him outright. He's always happy when I say "No day care. No, no. We're going to the store."

Limelet is accepted into the college-run day care, but not until they move to their new location on September 1. So he's in a chain day care place, and I don't feel very comfortable with it (day care in general and this one in particular). Not as many workers per child as the last place, which means that when he's upset, they don't have time to comfort him. And I hate making him have all these transitions. He was crying his heart out when I came in to pick him up last night, and he immediately burst into tears this morning when I dropped him off.

Everything is all changed or gone, Daddy's gone (Limelet doesn't really understand when he'll be back), day care (that he had just barely gotten used to anyway) has complete strangers in it, and he's spending longer days there. I want to get him into the new day care (which is nicer, and two blocks away from us instead of 5 miles), but it will mean yet another transition to strangers, when he's already so homesick. Poor little tyke. I just think it's unnatural and kind of wrong to do this to him. I hate, hate, hate dropping him off and leaving him crying.

Meanwhile, at home, I did set up the TV. No reception, but I picked up a couple of used videos at the thrift store. Limelet is enthralled with the Raffi ("Bwabbi") concert video and wants me to sing the songs in the car. He also loves our new bathtub (as do I) which is a lot bigger and swimmier. There is a playground down the block, so we still get to go do that when I'm not too dead to take him out.

posted by liz @ 10:05 AM


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