Look, Matt and I would never claim to be parenting experts, or even people who should be giving advice. Nearly two years in, we still make mistakes on a daily basis and I don’t see that changing any time in the future. I’m not sure ANYONE is qualified to give parenting advice. The whole racket is complex and ever-changing and impossible to master.
However, Dexter is a pretty great kid, so far, and although I’m convinced it’s about 90% luck, I’d like to think we had a little something to do with the other 10%.
New parents get a flood of parenting advice, and thousands of conflicting opinions can be yours with just a quick Google search, so we did (and still do) put some effort into deciding how we wanted to try to do things and what kind of parents we’d like to be.
It’s been a few months since my original “Toddlers Are Weird” post, but never fear, everyone: Dexter is still really weird.
First of all, on a scale of one to face transplant, how concerned should I be that last week, when we spotted a fox at least twice Dexter’s size in a parking lot, my child’s immediate reaction was to run after the wild animal and attempt to tickle it?
Does Dexter have a British accent yet?
He does not, but Dex does say exactly ONE word with an accent. We go to organized activities for 1-2 hours, 2-3 times a week but he’s still primarily immersed, language-wise, with Matt and me and our boring ol’ American accents. He probably won’t pick anything up until we send him to nursery or school.
But like I said, he does say one word with an accent: “Locks.” That’s because we frequently ride the “Locksbottom” bus line and the nice automated announcer woman repeats, “Locksbottom,” over and over and it has stuck, but three syllables are a bit much for him so he stops at “Locks.”
Another interesting tidbit is while we were at a friend’s the other day, she noted that the other kids listen carefully to him, because she thinks they realize he sounds a little different. I had not picked up on that.
This is it, gang. As long as everything continues to truck along normally, tonight was our final ultrasound. And it’s a good thing Matt thought to snap a quick cell phone photo of the screen because we just now realized we cannot find the single printed photo they gave us. That’s right. Through this entire pregnancy, we have received precisely two printed ultrasound photos and we lost one of them. The best we can figure out is that Matt handed me my discharge paperwork with the photo inside, I didn’t realize the photo was there, and it slid out.
I’M SORRY, CRICKET. When you ask me why there are 4,345 ultrasound photos of your brother and one of you, I’m totally blaming the NHS. (Sorry, England.)
My scan was set for 1700 so we decided to make a night of it. Matt left work a little early, we woke Dexter from his nap together and all bundled up to brave the cold. A bus and a train trip later, we were tucked in a dark room, watching Cricket squirm on a big screen.
Well, Matt and I were. Dexter was busy eating an apple, climbing on all the furniture, and playing with an rubber glove inflated to create a chubby hand balloon.
A morning at the London Sea Life Aquarium – the second-largest aquarium in Europe! – is a bite-size, half-day outing. Which is perfect for us right now, because I can’t haul this big ol’ belly around for much more than a few hours, anyway.
The Aquarium’s location is great. We took the public transportation trifecta to get there – bus, train, tube – and then walked across the Westminster Bridge. Dexter got to see and hear Big Ben, we eyeballed the London Eye, and we all peered at the Thames, admiring the boats jetting around despite the wet, grey day.
Dex, Matt and I are hanging out in the living room, me on the sofa and the dudes playing on the floor. Matt says something teasing to me – I can’t remember what – and without thinking, I say, “Dexter, go kick Daddy in the stomach.”
Dex immediately moves toward Matt.
At this point, I should interject to say that we’re pretty serious about not teaching Dexter that any kind of violence, even play hitting or biting, is funny or fun, because we know how that stuff can escalate and we’d like him to be able to engage in society.
But in that moment, Dex is making a move and it’s crystal clear that Matt and I are both too curious about what would happen next to pull back.
And what happens next is Dexter gently kicks Matt in the stomach. Several times.
Matt: “He kicked me! I can’t believe he kicked me!”
Me: “I kind of can’t believe it, either.”
Matt: “You are a bad mommy!”
Me: “No. I’m a good mommy – my son did exactly what I asked! I’m a bad WIFE.”
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it is safe to say we’re officially entering the boring part of our expat adventure. We knew it was coming – you have to slow down and sleep while you can before a baby comes or you’ll hate yourself once he gets here – but it doesn’t make for very interesting blog content. We obviously are not traveling for a while, and even local explorations are low-key or paused either because I’m sore and knackered, or because it’s been grey and rainy and when it’s like that, it’s more fun to snuggle up with Dex and enjoy these last few weeks together before Cricket invades.
This morning, I microwaved NOTHING. I don’t mean I put in an empty bowl or mug, oh ho ho, isn’t that funny? I closed the empty microwave, pressed the buttons to start it, and walked away, apparently expecting a warmed breakfast to appear out of thin air, like magic.
I read a story about a couple whose baby was born at 23 weeks, and died a few hours later. I fully knew what the post was going to be about, and clicked the link and read that sucker anyway. I am now re-hydrating to replenish vital moisture lost to copious tears.
I introduced myself to someone, and she said, “Jamie? THAT is an interesting name!” This threw me off so much I just stared at her for probably a full five seconds before blurting out, “IS IT?!” No response.
I had Dexter when we lived in the U.S., while enjoying the top notch benefits provided by video game companies. (Seriously. They’re great. Billing people would gape at me all the time, in disbelief over what was covered.)
From second trimester on, my pregnancy with Cricket is under the care of the U.K.’s National Health Service, aka NHS England. Matt still works for a video game company and therefore receives private health insurance, but after some research, we discovered that NHS care would be comparable and in some (boring) ways, better for us and our situation.
For the uninitiated, the U.S. has no national health service. All of my care was provided in private practice, via employer-provided insurance, paid for by us in the form of a paycheck deduction. The NHS in the UK is most similar to a single-payer plan, but does not truly fall under that definition because in addition to being paid for via our taxes, there are trusts involved and as mentioned, private insurance is in the mix.