Parenting Henri

this is about henri, and the parenting thereof

Snapshot 2012/07/31

I can’t seem to muster up the brainpower/ambition to write a real blog post about Henri, despite the fact that he continues to be the most amazing kid ever… However, I figure I can at least handle a bulleted list so we have some record of what he’s like during this critical “almost not an only child anymore” time period.  So, here goes:

HENRI at 4 years, 109 days, 6 hrs & 42 minutes

  • Physical Appearance.  Well, most notably, Henri currently has a shaved head.  A week or so ago, he took it upon himself to cut the front of his hair himself, the natural consequence of which was that we shaved his head that night.  (I’ve also hid the scissors for the time being.)  I can’t say that either Dada or I were very surprised; after all, I did the same thing when I was Henri’s age.  And I’m pretty sure Henri learned his lesson as he later stated, and I quote, “With my head shaved I look like an alien. Damn, I shouldn’t have shaved my head.”
  • Favorite Pastimes.  I’ve been working with Henri to play independently for most of the day (good transition for the coming days/years when my attention will no longer be solely focused on him), and I find that he {still} chooses cars & trucks 95.5% of the time.  However, he does love to dress up–yesterday, he was a character named “girly girl” who wore pink high heels, a turquoise beanie, and a raccoon sleep mask as a headband.  Very metro.  When he does have Dada’s help/attention, Legos are the favorite along with board games coming in a close second.
  • Bedtime Routine.  Another facet of independence (read: bone of contention) we’ve been working on is Henri getting himself ready for bed–pajamas, teeth & pottying.  At the beginning of the summer, I came up with the plan for us to help him with “one” task, while he did the other two.  This proved to be quite a challenge because–until very recently–he was scared to go in either the bathroom or his bedroom alone.  Well, we followed that plan for a while, which was like pulling out our own hair strand by strand.  But, magically, after being gone on vacay for a couple of weeks, we returned home and basically just started saying it was time for bed, he needed to get his p.j.’s, etc. and–he does it!  Most of the time.  Sometimes he does it without us telling him ten times or more, too!
  • Speaking of Pottying…  Henri still refuses to bear the responsibility of putting his pee “where it goes.”  Though he has a little more success with the pooping.  Emphasis on “little.”  Seeing as we’ve tried all known approaches to potty training this child, we’ve now resorted to literally not caring whether or not he’s successful in any way.  (Note: this is *almost* the polar opposite of pretending to not care” whether or not he’s successful, as–in that instance–you’re still in supercharged “I care more about this than my kid does” mode.)  Seriously, my only strategy at this point is reminding myself daily that I shouldn’t worry about something that will eventually take care of itself.  <–still one of the best pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever taken.  While this doesn’t make potty training go by any quicker (or at all), it does keep me at a safe distance from the issue, if not sane.  Worst case scenario, we will still be bargaining with Henri well into his teenage years when the stakes are much higher. *If you stay dry all day today, we’ll let you borrow the car!*
  • Wit & Intelligence.  I’ve backed off quite a bit on the workbooks and “learn something new each day” mantra, but–safe to say–Henri continues to be quite the smarty.  He can read & write about 15-20 sight words, and can sound out many more.  His concepts of time & money are coming right along, and he can count to a million thousand or higher.  More importantly, he comes up with the best knock-knock jokes and makes up songs that last for hours.  He loves to read books, both to learn and to fantasize.  Sure, he still has PTSD from having to–gasp!–leave the house to go to school 3 days a week this past year, but–hey–so do I. 😉
  • The Immediate Future.  With us buying a house in Boston, which we’ll be moving to shortly after Baby Wayne is born, Henri’s got quite a few changes coming up in his fifth year of life.  However, he seems to be taking it all in stride.  He’s excited about having a new room & playroom and living where it snows, though he continues to persist in his plan to take my mom’s dog, Roxy, with us when we go.  As for being a big brother, I decided Henri was ready to take on this role when he announced his new career goal: being a baby delivery guy.  You might think this means we have to start saving money for medical school, but, actually, I understand it to be more like a UPS truck driver who only works for  I was so proud when I heard this–for Henri, driving a truck is equatable to winning the megamillions for the rest of us, and him combining this with the smelliest part of his new baby brother seemed to indicate more than willingness on his part to be mommy’s helper.  Then I realized that, for a 4-year-old, this is probably just the way his brain works. Reality: baby brother’s coming; Fantasy: I’ll then be old enough to drive a truck.  Put those two together and you’ve got the perfect career: baby delivery guy.

Well, that’s all for now.  Though not as eloquent as I typically strive for, I think this list will at least serve as a reminder that the awesome Henri remains to be just that.  Awesome.


fisherman boots & bravery 2010/02/27

Yesterday afternoon, Henri & I had to get ready quickly to pick Dada up.  As anyone with a 2-year-old knows, getting ready “quickly,” is pretty much a rare and beautiful thing.  What ends up happening is either the parent rushing-rushing-rushing while the child ignores, resists or flat out defies you; or, the opposite–if a parent tries to coax their child into getting dressed quickly, well, we’ve got the Universal Healthcare “talks” (e.g. disaster) on our hands: tons of negotiation but no product.

So, you have to come up with a scheme.  The scheme must include something like an incentive (“if you hurry up, we might get to ___________”) and a theme.  For Henri, both of these things must include something that has a Very Big Motor that goes Vrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrroom.

After I’d grabbed his rainboots and stuffed them on his feet, I could see a scheme was going to be necessary.  Right away, he didn’t like the boots; in fact, he didn’t want to wear shoes at all.  Shoes are for the weak.

M: Hey!” (holds him up at just the right angle as to prevent the boots from being kicked off) Do you know what these boots are called!?!  They’re called galoshes! And they’re what fisherman wear!!

*all time stands still, for about 27 seconds*

H: And boats!

M: Yes, and fisherman drive boats!   Yay, yay, yay, yay, yay.  I’m such a clever mommy. Yay, yay, yay. Thank you, Jesus.  For boats.

H: My a fisherman!!

M: Yeah, you’re a fisherman.

By continuing the metaphor, I was able to convince Henri to put on an additional shirt since it was a sweater with a boat on it and get him to walk to the car on his own without melting into a pile of “But I’m Cold” tears by suggesting to him that Fisherman Don’t Get Cold.  They LIKE the cold, rainy weather because they get to wear BOOTS when it’s cold & rainy.

Of course, he kicked them off in the car, which means when he insists on getting out of the car for a few minutes at our first errand, we have to put them back on and go through the initial yuckiness of the boots before remembering that fisherman are cool once again.  But that’s ok.  I’ll take it.

Later at dinner, an increasingly sleepy (and now bootless) Henri displayed his fisherman readiness by eating fish, fries and pickled onion.  He also tried some authentic Irish horseradish stuff and, despite his screwed up face, said he liked it.  Then, I asked him if he wanted to eat some lemon.

H: (hesitates; sniffs)

M: It’s lemon! You like it!!

H: (takes a big bite of the rind)

M/D simultaneously: No!! Did he eat the rind? Henri! You’re not supposed to eat the rind.  Spit that out. Here, give that to me.  Just eat this part.

H: (takes another bite, this time off the top)

M: Good job!   Let’s put your boots on.  Didn’t you have a nice day today? Being a fisherman…?

H: Yeah!

M: You wore Boots.

H: My NOT cold.

M: Nope, you didn’t get cold. You’re a fisherman!

H: My brave.

M: (tears up, realizing how smart her son is, making the connection between boats & fisherman & water & bravery…all. on. his. own.) Yes, you are brave.  *sniff, sniff*

H: My brave–my ate a lemon!


mommy needs coffee 2009/11/21

h:  mommy needs coffee

m: yep

h: my* No drahnk coffee

m: Nooooooo. coffee is Yukkie!  (sips coffee loudly)

h: my Yes! DRAHNK coffee

*my = “I” in the henriland language

To Do (with Henri): Read “Important” Books 2009/10/19

I always wanted to read that list of the 100 most important books for a high school student, but never did.  Thus, I will live vicariously through Henri (in this, and in other ways, I’m sure…) by starting on the following list of the “Teacher’s Top 100.”  Actually, we’ve *already* started on it, unbeknownst to me or my future little reader  (see notations below).  We’re just that cool…

p.s. If you’re thinking about Henri’s upcoming birthday, this list might be of help to you!!!

9/2/2013 Update in ORANGE

Teacher’s Top 100 Books for Children

The following list was compiled from an online survey in 2007. Parents and teachers will find it useful in selecting quality literature for children.

  1. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White Def. read once, maybe twice. First chapter book!!!
  2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak Check
  3. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein Think so
  4. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (own, but haven’t read yet)
  5. Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown  (Check)
  6. I Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
  7. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  8. Oh! The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss (own?) check
  9. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
  10. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg Think so
  11. Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
  12. Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
  13. The Cat In The Hat by Dr. Seuss (own?) check
  14. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss check
  15. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
  16. The Mitten by Jan Brett I feel like we’ve read this…
  17. Crunching Carrots, Not Candy by Judy Slack
  18. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willlems (honestly, i’m not a big fan of this book; but we will read it just to check it off the list) Probably 
  19. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (NOT NO, BUT HELL NO. if henri ever wants to read this, he can do it on his own! i refuse!!!) Emma started reading this series to Henri the summer of 2013
  20. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  21. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  22. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman (Check, thanks to Olga!)
  23. Corduroy by Don Freeman Gift from Emma- have read many times!!!
  24. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
  25. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon check
  26. Tacky the Penquin by Helen Lester check
  27. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  28. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams I believe this was also a gift from Emma; either that, or a garage sale find. At any rate, we’ve read it.
  29. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. For sure
  30. Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin Yes, this is hilarious. henri loves it.
  31. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson Check – first read to him by KFrayz
  32. Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
  33. Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
  34. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  35. Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey Own & Check
  36. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  37. Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini
  38. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (Check)
  39. The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone Own & Check
  40. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (own, but not yet age-appropriate)
  41. A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
  42. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett Check
  43. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  44. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  45. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
  46. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann Check
  47. Olivia by Ian Falconer
  48. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  49. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
  50. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (own, but not yet age-appropriate)
  51. The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
  52. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle check
  53. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
  54. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (own, but not yet age-appropriate)
  55. Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
  56. Bunnicula by James Howe
  57. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl have read; second chapter book, I believe…
  58. Charlie the Caterpillar by Dom DeLuise
  59. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes yes?
  60. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
  61. Frederick by Leo Lionni check
  62. Frindle by Andrew Clements
  63. Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel Mark’s Uncle Lee read much of this chapter book to Henri one summer
  64. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney (check)
  65. Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen
  66. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion check
  67. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss probably…
  68. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  69. I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
  70. Is Your Mama A Llama? by Deborah Guarino check
  71. Jan Brett’s books Henri loves the ones about the hedgehog
  72. Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin Jr.
  73. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (own, but not yet age-appropriate)
  74. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton check – a definite favorite
  75. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
  76. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  77. My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss (check, thanks to K-Frayz!)
  78. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  79. No David! by David Shannon (check)
  80. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss (own, but i don’t think he’s read it yet?)
  81. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein yes, Dada & Henri went through the Shel Silverstein books many, many time while we lived in Florida.
  82. Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Munsch
  83. Swimmy by Leo Lionni
  84. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
  85. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Warner
  86. The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
  87. The Empty Pot by Demi
  88. The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop
  89. The Giver by Lois Lowr
  90. The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
  91. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien check! Upon finishing this, Henri said: “That was good. Can we read it again?” 🙂
  92. The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  93. The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements
  94. The Napping House by Audrey Wood
  95. The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
  96. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats check
  97. The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
  98. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
  99. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  100. The Wide-Mouthed Frog: A Pop-Up Book by Keith Faulkner

Once we get done with these, the NEA also has a list of 50 Multicultural Books and 50 State Booklist.  Oh man… I’m glad Henri likes to read!


born into it 2009/10/18

it’s official (as if it wasn’t already…): henri truly is my mini-me.

we went shoe shopping, which was (more) stressful (then it had to be) because i suggested henri “try out” each pair of shoes he tried on–ended up being like 12 or so–and he took that to mean he could run away from us in each pair of shoes he tried on.  whoop-ee!

he ended up getting, yes–you guessed it–Pink Tennis Shoes.  now, either this is God’s way of reaffirming my decision to have a kid in the first place, OR, more likely, henri doesn’t yet realize that pink is for “little ladies,” as this website so kindly points out, and just really really really really REALLY loves his mom-mom who really really really REALLY loves pink, therefore…well, you get the argument i’m making. right?



now, i know what you’re thinking: that i Encouraged him to get pink tennis shoes.  and i swear on the tattoo on my left wrist that i did no such thing.  however, i certainly showed them to him, kind of as a joke.*  the first pair of pink tennis shoes i showed him were not anywhere near as gender-neutral and he liked them but absolutely did not say he wanted to buy them like he did the converse ones.  (yes, he speaks in sentences and yes, gender-neutral is a term that applies to pink things, in my world).  i also know the other thing you’re thinking, mainly because i thought it, too, by which i mean, i said it out loud:  poor da-da.  as with all other things me & the h-man throw at mcknight, though, he took it just fine.  sure, he rolled his eyes.  but if any father can handle his 2-year-old running around in pink kicks, it’s this one.

to answer your other questions: yes, henri has been called a girl several times since this shoe-buying incident.  i have no words.  (he doesn’t even LOOK feminine!!!).  and yes, henri and mom-mom have had several well-meaning “older” women–at least 4-year-olds, if not older–explain to us that “pink” is for “girls.”  REALLY? i had no idea.  it’s not like i’ve never passed Victoria’s Secret or The Limited Too.  it’s not like i’ve tried to buy clothes for my son that aren’t blue.  it’s not like i started wearing pink the day my niece was born 9 years ago and haven’t stopped since.  i *know* pink is for girls, you little bitches/future sarah palin supporters!!!  but, guess what?  pink is also the color of Power.  in this case, the willpower not to introduce you to the powerful feeling of putting someone much smaller and much less experienced than you are in their rightful place: namely, on the ground.

but i digress.  the moral of the story is that  the first pair of tennis shoes henri picked out himself is pink.  we tried on adidas.  we ran around the store in new balance. we knocked over shoe salesman in elmo-light-up-blinky-blinky high traction/low impact etc.-etc. shoes.  i even forced his foot into a black & flame version of the very same shoe he ended up buying.  but, none of them got the elicited reaction, which went something like this.

mom-mom: (after picking up pink converse shoes that she in no way thought would ever be liked, let alone bought, by her son, who is a boy and not a “little lady”)  these are AWESOME.  don’t you LOVE them?????

da-da: rolls eyes.

henri: uh-huh.

mom-mom: (puts them on henri’s foot, despite his squirming and losing interest upon realizing they’re *very* hard shoes to put on) WOW. i LOVE them. don’t you LOVE them, buddy???

da-da: rolls eyes, begins to walk away.

henri: uh-huh.

mom-mom: are THESE the ones you want to BUY?????

henri: (after a very long hour to hour-and-a-half of trying on shoes, running around the store, and begging to ride in a tractor) Uh-Huh!

mom-mom: (says privately to da-da) wow–i can’t believe he wants pink shoes. that’s so cute. don’t you think that’s so cute? i didn’t force him into them. you saw it. he wanted them. he said he liked them.  right?

da-da: um…


*the reader will note that henri has been trying on my pink high-heeled shoes and prancing around the house in them, quite capably, for a few months now

it’s never too early to start planning a party 2009/09/01

as if i don’t have enough things to do, i’ve been staying up late at night planning what will, i hope, be the 3rd best party ever.  (wait–4th, if you count my 30th b-day bar crawl.  and i {kind of} do.)  first, there was the greatest baby shower of all (!) and, then, the 1st birthday party of all 1st birthday parties (theme? Henri!) and, now, there will be an alphabetilicious party, better than your most committed abecederian could plan.

okay. having looked that up. that word does NOT mean what i thought it meant. and it definitely doesn’t mean what most people today think it means, otherwise i never would’ve heard of it.

yes, that’s right.  your ears are not fooling you.  this year’s theme will be (of course!): The Alphabet.

invite new

you're invited!

believe it or not, this isn’t actually a radical idea for a toddler’s birthday party.  i’ve already found cake designs, meal plans, pre-school appropriate activities, AND about a billion color sheets.  um, no.  we will *not* be coloring.  this isn’t pre-school, goddamnit.  it’s a friggin’ party, for God’s sake!!!

so, get your game on.  practice your cursive letters.  and make sure you know which smalls go with which bigs.  because in less than 3 months, a showcase of the world’s smartest 2-year-old’s alphabet knowledge will be on display.  join us.  if you dare.

p.s. i {additionally} challenge you to bring an alphabet-inspired, if not outright intellectually stimulating, gift.  handmade is A-Okay.


Feeling Nostalgic for Vacation 2009/08/27

henri's first "truck" coaster

henri's first "truck" coaster



he's a natural

he's a natural