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June 2011

Stranger, Danger.

I had a scare today. We were out playing with friends and Maximilien disappeared from my line of sight. He and I have an agreement that when we are playing outside that he must stay within my line of sight. If he can't see me that means I can't see him. This is a constant stress for me living in a city where we often are in the midst of large crowds.

This afternoon Maximilien was playing with a friend and he went around the corner of the building to chase after his paper airplane but then he did not re-appear right away. I waited three heart beats before going after him. I turned the corner and he wasn't there. Then I turned the next corner and there he was him talking to a stranger. A man who was crouched down near Max with his hand on his shoulder. I can't explain the feelings I felt in that moment before I knew I was yelling his name louder than I ever had. Everyone who happened to be around me within a 100 foot radius turned to look right at me. Maximilien ran over to me leaving the man behind.

The moment he reached me I was upset. Angry. Scared. We quickly packed up our things and left our friends to go home. On the way, we stopped and sat on a bench and talked about what happened. I asked Max if he understood why I was upset? He said it was because I couldn't see him. True in part and then I explained to him about talking to the stranger. I told him I was upset because I found him taking to a man that neither of us knew. A stranger. He asked me what I stranger was not knowing what this word was in English. I know that I didn't explain it very well. I told him that a stranger is someone that we don't know and that they could possibly hurt you. He is four and I wanted to keep it simple. In this case I used the example that a stranger can start talking to you and take you away from Mommy and Daddy so that he would never see us again. Saying this, he started to cry. It broke my heart. He collapsed into my arms and I held him why he cried. He pulled away from him and said in a tear filled voice that the man was nice and that he was just explaining that he was picking up the chewing gum off the boardwalk. And that it was actually he who approached the man and asked him what he was doing. Thinking back now to the moment now that I am calm I can see that he was some sort of janitor and I now see off to the side his cleaning buckets and broom. But still... janitors can be bad people too.

Maximilien is not afraid of strangers. He has always had a certain ease talking to anyone. And I admit that when he's with me we will strike up conversations with people on the bus or on the street if he's curious about something. This is with me. I am okay with this. But him alone, I am not ok with this.

I don't think I explained very well the whole stranger danger concept to Maximilien. Julien and I agree that he now has experienced the fear that strangers can cause. This is definitely something that Maximilien has never really experienced. This is not enough for him to really understand. I want to be able to talk to him openly about this but I am at a loss at how to tackle this subject.

Growing up in Olathe, Kansas, I feel like I never really encountered many strangers. Paris is so big and there are so many people. The walk from our apartment to Maximilien's school alone we pass many busy streets full of people. So many potential dangers but I don't want to fill my kids with utter fear of people in general.

Explaining what to do I understand but explaining the concept of strangers and the danger they can cause is what I am at a loss at. Even the fact that nice strangers, even janitors or the nice guy who lives on the first floor can be the most dangerous ones of all. How would you explain to your kids about strangers?

18 months in a blink of an eye

Alixe turned 18 months old yesterday. I can hardly believe it. I remember Maximilien turning 18 months old. I had just opened the tea house and was starting the wonderful adventure of owning my own business. But before I opened L'OisiveThé I was a stay at home mom. Everyday of my life was dedicated to Max. It seemed like ages between his first birthday and him turning 18 months old. With the birth of Alixe I was a full time working Mama. Juggling the tea house, Max, Alixe and everything else in-between I hardly have time to do anything else.

Alixe, this morning.

It's so hard not to have these feelings of missing out. I find that I fall into the same routine and before I know it it's weeks and weeks of the same 'ole same 'ole and my baby is no longer a baby but a toddler!

I look at baby photos of Alixe and luckily I remember so clearly those very early weeks.

My baby was all but two days old and now she's 18 months old!

Oldie but a goodie: Alixe 5 days old.

I took the time tonight to really pay attention to details while I put the babes to bed. Switched off auto-mama-pilot and cherished every second. It's a hard time going to bed these days. Alixe is wanting a big girl bed but she isn't really ready for one. She isn't disciplined enough to stay in bed once we put her there. Ideally, I'd love for both kids to sleep together. And I know neither Max nor Alixe would be against the idea. Unfortunately, they play more than sleep. It keeps them up way past their bedtime.

Tonight, I took Max's mattress off his mini loft and heaved it to the floor. Immediately Alixe and Max crawled into bed together. The next hour and half was less fun for me. I listened over the baby monitor as Alixe proceeded to get up,several times and try to open the door. Then she started emptying toy chests and turning chairs over. All the while her brother laughing infectiously which encouraged her more. A few more visits from Mama and stern commands to go to bed. Tears shed by both children as they both protested sleep all the while I can hear them yawning loudly over the baby monitor.

The evening ended with Alixe calling to me, "Mamamamamamamamamama". I gravitate to their room as the call of my youngest is the a sure bet to get me come in. Alixe is holding her arms to me as I open the door. She lays down and pats the bed telling me so clearly that she wants me there. I lay half off the twin mattress on the floor while both my kids cuddled close to me. Both of them touching me while they drifted off to sleep.

I lay there feeling so motherly. My presence alone was enough to comfort them. The importance of mother never ceases to amaze me.

Thinking that both of them had drifted to sleep, I slowly rose to leave. Max's little hand shoots out from under the blanket in his last half asleep attempt to keep me close. I smile weakly and lay back down. With his eyes closed he whispers, "calin, Mommy" and I fold him into my arms.

These everyday moments are the ones I treasure the most. There will come a time when they will nor longer need Mommy to fall asleep. I have long resolved with myself that time for Mama will come later. I don't want to miss these little moments like these because I am busy wishing I had more time to do other things. The time for me will come before I know it.

Got kids sharing a room? What are your tricks to getting them to bed together in a timely manner?