FVB, as he has gotten older, has become A LOT more independent. This is a really great thing, especially considering that his brother is going to be here soon and will require the majority of my attention. Also, he has recently started dropping naps (GAHHHHHHHH, not ready for this milestone!!) so letting him play independently while I do other things is necessary for my sanity. I love that he can play and that I can (mostly) trust that he will be safe and keep himself entertained. He has a huge imagination and comes up with all sorts of scenarios using his toys. I love listening to him narrate his games from the other room (the kitchen, it’s always the kitchen…. seriously, how do I spend SO MUCH TIME in there?!) So far, he has been quite happy to keep himself occupied while I do other things, and we’ve only had a few “incidences” to speak of. I will share briefly, knowing that you won’t judge me. Before I share, just look at the picture below to understand the weather we’ve been having lately. Seriously. 3 feet of snow is magical to both a toddler AND an elderly dog.
OK, on to our incidences:
#1: I had a bunch of stuff out in the upstairs hallway that I was putting away, and he was playing nearby with a key that he had found. Next thing I know he’s sobbing, saying his hand hurts. I asked him what happened and he pointed to the electrical outlet and said “that thing hurt me.” UM…..DID YOU STICK THE KEY INTO IT?!? Yes, yes he did. Thankfully he wasn’t seriously injured. I sort of thought we were past the outlet cover stage. Guess not! Outlets were all quickly covered again and we had a very serious talk about how dangerous outlets can be. Fast forward to a week or so later. FVB is downstairs, Hubs is downstairs, I am upstairs. Hubs and I are both doing other things but are both “monitoring” him. I come downstairs and find him with a screw driver, just inches away from the electrical outlet. Guess that lesson didn’t really sink in!
#2: I’m in the kitchen, FVB is in the living room playing. It’s quiet for awhile, so I yell out “Hey, buddy, how’s it going?” to which he replies, “Fine, I peed in the dollhouse so I’m just cleaning it up!” I go in to investigate, and sure enough he has a large wad of toilet paper soaking up the puddle of pee that is INSIDE of the dollhouse. Hey, at least he was being resourceful and cleaning up after himself! In other news, potty training is really going well.
#3: FVB is outside, I am inside. Hubs and I are both periodically checking on him. I poke my head out of the door and ask him how it’s going and he replies, “Well, I’m pretty lonely out here…. and I fell down and cried and Mommy didn’t come…..and I have poop in my underwear.” In FVB’s words, this can be summed up as “pretty not good.” (And, again, potty training is going AWESOME!)
#4: I leave FVB downstairs BRIEFLY, just so that I can get dressed. Maybe 2 minutes later I hear a far away voice yelling “MOMMY! HELP!” I run downstairs and frantically start searching, but can’t find him. I realize that the sound is coming from behind the bathroom door, which I discover is locked. Awesome! I immediately panic, but keep my calm voice as I ask him if he can unlock the door. He replies that he can’t. So I spend a few minutes talking him through unlocking it, while in my head I am trying to figure out if my 8-month pregnant stomach can climb a ladder in the snow AND fit through the tiny bathroom window. Thankfully he was able to get it unlocked. Once open, he tells me that he fell into the big potty. I discover the seat up on the toilet, and he is, sure enough, a little bit wet. (So…..potty training?!?)
If it seems as though we spend a lot of time at home, it’s true. FVB loves being at home and can literally go DAYS without wanting to leave the house/yard. This is fine sometimes, especially during this cold/snow snap that we are having (is it technically a “snap” when it will last until spring?) but other times I get a little stir crazy and need to get out and enjoy the world. We live in a small town, and winter is setting in, so our options are limited. Also, we have found that many events in our area involve animal exploitation on SOME level, whether it be through the food they serve (pancake/sausage/bacon breakfast with Santa), or the entertainment that they provide (petting zoo for the kids at the pumpkin patch). It’s frustrating to not be able to participate in things, or to participate in things while having to witness the exploitation AND explain it to your toddler. Once you are attuned to animal exploitation, you start to see it everywhere, but it is much easier to avoid the zoo, aquarium, rodeo, etc when you don’t have a kid. Now that FVB is getting older, I know that this will become harder to avoid; in fact we have already experienced a few things that I would have rather avoided!
One example: we went to a pumpkin patch back in October, and of course they had animals penned up in various places throughout so that the kids could look at them/ pet them. They also only served non-vegan food (which I have come to expect from everywhere we go!). It was a really cool place, and FVB enjoyed jumping on the bounce house, riding the train, and looking for pumpkins. Would we have made the decision to go had we known about the animals that would be penned up there? I don’t know. I struggle with this because on one hand, I do want FVB to see these things and know that this type of use/abuse of animals is all around us. And I want him to be able to enjoy cool places that have train rides and bounce houses and giant pumpkins. On the other hand, I don’t like supporting places that use/abuse animals by giving them my money. It’s a struggle, and one that I know we will face regularly as FVB gets older.
While at the pumpkin patch, I took a bunch of pictures to illustrate the difference between their set up for the animals and the set up at our favorite rescue organization, Farm Sanctuary.
If you follow us on Facebook, you’ve probably seen our many posts from our various visits to the sanctuary throughout the year. It is only a 2 hour drive from us, and we are huge supporters of the work they do, so we love going as often as we can while they are open. Most recently we went to their event celebrating the turkeys, held the weekend before Thanksgiving.
The difference is, in one scenario, the animals are there FOR US. In the other scenario, we are there FOR THE ANIMALS. Did we enjoy watching the turkeys eat their feast, and the pigs eating the pumpkins? Of course! It was very entertaining. However, we were in a mutually beneficial scenario. The turkeys were in their comfortable, familiar environment and were enjoying delicious food. The staff was very good about maintaining distance between the turkeys and the guests, and brought people a few at a time to help feed the animals. And we were in and out of their area in under 30 minutes. Farm Sanctuary encourages interactions between people and animals, but with respect for the animals’ wants and needs, not the humans.’ THAT is what makes all of the difference.
Obviously it can be frustrating for us to miss out on things, and to feel like “that weird family” that doesn’t participate in many activities. It can also be frustrating to make a decision to go somewhere, and to be faced with animal use/abuse that you didn’t even know would be there. Over the winter we went to visit a maple syrup operation and were faced with baby cow and a baby lamb, penned up inside tiny veal crates and tied up. Supposedly they were “rejected” by their mothers and were being taken care of by the farm. Doubtful. Go here to see my original Facebook post about it, in case you missed it. We will continue to do our best to find cruelty-free entertainment around us, and to expose FVB to as little animal use/abuse as possible, but we know that it is everywhere. One thing that we will definitely keep doing is visiting sanctuaries so that FVB can see how animals SHOULD be treated. Since we do travel quite a bit, I like to check out this website, just in case there’s a sanctuary near where we will be visiting. It is organized by state, so it’s easy to find a sanctuary near you! One place we enjoyed visiting while traveling in Canada was Happily Ever Esther sanctuary. Definitely do some research and find places near you to visit; it’s a great chance to interact with farm animals and support the people who are working day in and day out to rescue and rehabilitate abused animals. If you live close enough to a sanctuary, you can also volunteer!
OK, that about wraps it up for me! Must go see what my toddler has been doing for the last half hour. Hmmm…… where is he, anyway?