Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dylan, the Recovering Binkie-aholic

Dad, comforting Dylan by napping in the room (and risking getting malaria).
Dylan kicked Wilbur, the pig, out of his bed.

Dylan is a recovering binky-aholic. Here is his story.

About 100 days ago, on Christmas Eve, Dylan got into his pajamas and crawled under his covers. He had visions of sugar plums dancing in his head. He knew Santa would come if he fell asleep, so he kissed Mum and Dad good night, said ‘bonne nuit’ to Laird, and then…. for the last time in his life…. put his binky in his mouth.

What followed was a sound sleep, and a tearful 5 am start to Christmas Day, when he realised that Santa – that hulking, bearded man in the red suit – had taken away all of his binkies.

Every morning, around 5 am, Dylan often stirs as the Call to Prayer echoes throughout our neighborhood.  On this particular Christmas morning, Dylan stirred and looked for his beloved binkie to lull him back to sleep.  Mom and Dad were very strict about his beloved binkie; he was only allowed to use the pacifier at nap-time and bed-time in his bed.

'Biiiiiiiiiiinnnnkkkkiiiieeeeeee', we heard on the monitor.  Mom ran in quickly and consoled him.  Dylan was trying to be so brave and not cry as we reminded him of why Santa had taken his binkies.

The story we told was that Santa needed to redistribute the binkies to babies all around the world, and that, in exchange, he left behind a beautiful baby pig for Dylan to hug in his bed. (Laird, who had given up his binkies willingly a year-and-a-half earlier, got a fuzzy rabbit for supporting Dylan in this trying time.)  We thought it was a lovely way to embrace the season of giving.

At 5 am, Mom and Dad consoled Dylan repeatedly.  His lip quivered and his eyes were full of tears that he refused to let fall.  He was trying to be strong but he was in such pain inside.

'Dylan', Mom whispered, 'it's okay to cry if you feel sad.  Let it out my angel.'  As soon as Mom said that, Dylan let the tears free.  He sobbed for a good 15 minutes while laying on Mama's chest.  Mom and Dad too, shed tears along with him, as we both second guessed our decision to take his binkies away.

Dylan loved his pig, but he had trouble grasping the fact that his binkies were gone forever. It seemed so final. He also loved Santa, but had trouble understanding why he would take all his binkies and make him feel bad.

“Santa gives us presents at Christmas when we are good, but he also teaches us how to give. Your binkies are making millions of babies happy, all around the world,” Mum and Dad reminded Dylan.

It all hit home again at nap time. Dylan crawled under his covers. He hugged his pig, but had no binky. His face was the picture of sadness, but he held it together. He looked at Dad and said, “I want to give back the pig to Santa and have my binkies,” his voice cracking, the corners of his mouth turning down. His chin quivered.

Dad felt like his heart was being crushed. “It will be okay, Dylan. Your pig will take care of you. Your binkies are gone, but they are making babies happy, all around the world.” Dylan rolled over and then quietly, unable to hold it back, started to cry.

This was the low point. Dad napped in the room on the floor with Laird and Dylan, which made Dylan feel a little bit better. He eventually fell asleep. Mum and Dad worried that night that they had made a mistake – that they had ruined Dylan’s image of Santa and scarred him for life. Maybe they should have waited another month. And what’s the big problem with binkies anyway, if they make your child happy?

But the next day, it was less painful, and by New Year's, just 6 days and nights later, Dylan had stopped asking about his binkies. He still loved Santa, and he loved his pig. And hopefully, he seemed to feel good that millions of babies were happy, all over the world. More and more, Dylan seems to enjoy giving things to people, like rocks, or tiny pieces of his food.

A few days ago, while hanging out on the beach, Dylan asked Mum “What’s that thing, Momma?” He was pointing at a binky, planted firmly in the mouth of a little girl.

Monday, April 8, 2013

First Professional Haircuts

Jet-lagged Laird arrived at the salon in a deep sleep.
At 3 1/2 years old, Laird and Dylan got their first 'professional' haircuts.  For the past few years, Mom, who was self taught with youtube videos, always cut their hair.  Dakar does not have many hairsalons that specialize in cutting 'toubab' hair, not to mention a child-friendly place.

If you know Laird and Dylan at all, then you know they are very active and always on the go.  Cutting their hair often meant chasing them with scissors around the house.  Even the special treat of watching TV wouldn't keep them still.  (Mom admits trimming their hair while they slept.)

As you can imagine, Mom's skills were...well...lacking.  Their cuts looked fantastic in hot and humid Africa as their hair curled beautifully.  But during a recent visit to the cold and dry Northeast, Laird and Dylan's hair flattened out, and exhibited Mom's not so successful haircutting skills.  One word....mullet.

During that visit home, Laird and Dylan received their first haircuts at Envy hair salon in Portland.  Unlike their haircutting activity with Mom, they sat perfectly still for Yvonne who clearly had the magic touch.  In fact, they took quite a liking to her, as they asked if Yvonne could cut their hair again for several weeks after the cut.

Brave Dylan, had his haircut first while enjoying Sesame Street as Laird slept.


Jetlagged and Exhausted

When we fly South African Airways, we leave Dakar at midnight to head to the airport after only a few hours of sleep.  We wait 2 hours, then have a 8-9 hour flight to DC.  After going thru customs and getting to our next gate, it is usually around 730 am, or 1230 pm our time.  It has already been a 12 hour long day with little sleep, yet we have a 10 hour layover in DC until our 2 hour flight to Portland!

When you travel like this, you become desperate for even a few minutes of sleep, especially if you are travelling with 2 very active 3-year olds.  After we have breakfast, or in Kelly's case, her beloved buffalo wings and a local microbrew, we roam the airport for awhile, tiring the boys out and find a quiet nook to sleep for a few hours.  Absolute desperation, indeed.

Mom and Laird
Dylan, who fell running on the tarmac.

Sweet and Rare

With 2 busy toddlers that stopped napping midday months ago, moments like these are precious.

Snuggle Feet.