Salt & pepper shake

Keaton’s fun and imaginary play these days is centred on his new kitchen. I’m very glad that we decided to invest in this kitchen, because it gives him something to do these long, cold winter days, that doesn’t have to do with him watching “meh meh” or TV shows. It’s also very rewarding to see him exercising his imagination and engaging in pretend play. While his nose is a running faucet these days — momma here is sick with an unforgiving cold, too — he’s content with his kitchen.

The cutest moment is when the three of us are playing together and he serves up food for us. He loves adding salt and pepper to his dishes; he’ll even make the “chhh chhh” sound when he shakes them. The microwave is his favourite, though, and he’ll ask me to put oven mitts on him (actually his winter mitts). He’ll also make the “beep beep beep” sound. I’ve noticed that he finds it more enticing when daddy makes kitchen sounds and serves up food; he’ll try to emulate it. It makes all the sense in the world because he’s always observing what his daddy does in day-to-day life!

Building blocks!

Our little guy is highly energetic and easily distracted — I know most toddlers are — but Keaton has always been extraordinary in his extremes. He’s very aware, loving, gentle, perceptive, and kind; but he’s also very demanding and strong-willed. He’s always been a difficult baby — very high needs and hyperactive. I find myself defeated and beaten down most days, and not knowing how to entertain him. While I take him to the park, sometimes twice a day, even in the coldest of winters — we’re always the only crazy ones there — it’s always been challenging to entertain him at home. He’s never been interested in his toys or painting or crafts, or in the activities that I actively set up for him (I appreciate all the online tools that parents have put out there).

One day, as he was napping, I searched online for some DIY toddler activities and stumbled upon poking spaghetti or pipe cleaners in a colander and “pom pom whisk,” two of which are great fine motor skill activities for a toddler. But instead of pulling out the pom poms one by one or threading the spaghetti or pipe cleaners into the colander individually, he took the smart and easy way out: he continuously banged the whisk against the floor and table, which prompted all the pom poms to fly out faster and more efficiently, and he turned the colander right side up and just deposited the whole batch of spaghetti in it, rather than threading them into the holes. I was at a loss for words and just laughed. Clearly, my child wasn’t one to waste time; he had smarts and a will of his own nature.

But another day, I had this crazy idea to buy him blocks — shoutout to Dollarama for a well-spent $4 — and lo and behold, it’s become one of his new favourite activities. My husband has been raving about what a great idea it was. That’s when I know I’m beat tired: little obvious details surpassed me completely. How could I have not thought of blocks before? It’s a fantastic toy for him, of course, because he always loves stacking and organizing objects; and now, seeing him so concentrated makes my heart elated. He’s thinking, he’s analyzing, he’s focusing, he’s learning. Win! It warms my heart to see him sit and build blocks; he looks like a little boy.

Today, I tried teaching him the alphabet and lined the letters with their respective cards. Instead of being interested in the colourful line of alphabet letters that I set up for him, his imagination instructed him otherwise: it was to be used as a trail for his vehicles! Momma here laughed out loud. Again, my son is a contrarian and always has his own agenda. Frankly, I respect that. I love his independent and stubborn streak. He’s a visionary, and I admire that about him very much.

Our Christmas tree is very dynamic, if I may say, because it’s constantly changing appearances and identities. That’s what happens when a toddler is constantly removing ornaments and stealing candy canes!

I’m sad to say that Christmas is only a few days away, and there are so many activities that I hadn’t had the time and opportunity to experience. In fact, days scurried on by so fast that it’s hard to believe that while it’s my favourite time of the year, it hardly feels like it. This year is the saddest holiday season thus far for me, and I’m sure many people out there share this sentiment. For me, it’s the financial strain; it’s the lack of time and resources, and the constant exhaustion; it’s missing family and social connections; it’s the stress of not being able to feel free and in control in my own living environment. Oh, and hey Omicron, you raging, sexy beast. I’m giving you a shoutout, too!

Yet my husband and I take full responsibility for where we are now in our lives, and the current circumstances that encase us. There are certain moments when we feel like we’ve failed our son — when we wish we could’ve done better. It’s an uncomfortable experience, and we don’t shy away from the realities of our shortcomings. But what I’m proud of — and I say this loud and clear — is that in the midst of all the tidal waves, we’ve still created a home and safe space for our son. We make do with what we have, and in the best ways possible. Our Christmas tree is a symbolic representation of our lives: there’s beauty, there’s hope, and there’s love and joy.

When I quickly assess our apartment, of course I’m reminded of the constant discomfort and anxiety. There’s the structural inadequacies of the unit and the building at large, the neighbours downstairs whose noise levels prohibit us from even hearing our own thoughts, and the inconsiderate maskless folks who believe that the Sun revolves around their sorry asses. Yet, my heart is full and grateful. We have what we need and we’re cozy. My husband’s proud that I’ve transformed our abode into a warm, fun, and inviting place. I love Keaton’s play space most of all. Seeing his Nana’s paintings on the wall, his house and the stickers that adorn it, and his kitchen and food truck — they all make me feel happy and blessed. And I know that Keaton feels this way, too.

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