Monday, November 30, 2015

Mac had a birthday today. Cinco did not handle it well.

We have a newish neighbor who replaced our dear Ms.Gail.  The new lady seems friendly enough. I don’t know her past friendly greetings and mutual yard compliments. I figure Christmas cookies will be appreciated. I might even ask her “what the heck lady?” As our very polite neighbor has a large doll collection. And by large I mean both extensive and tall. They are positioned such that a large assortment of them stares through her living room window and into ours. It’s disconcerting.

We are Pixar fans. And so the kids all saw the newest feature “Inside Out.” It made an impression on Cinco. She enjoys reenacting scenes from the movie and insists her siblings partake. It starts with her declaring Baba to be “Joy.” X-Man she decrees to be “Anger.” This results in X-Man bellowing “I’m not Anger! I’m Gigust!” His Disgust needs a bit more work, although he has perfected his scoff recently. Cinco continues divining up the rolls ending with her own character “I’m Sadness” complete with a face plant on the floor.

It’s not that Cinco is sad, well other than the fact we wouldn’t let her blow out Mac’s birthday candles. It’s just that Joy spent a large part of the movie dragging Sadness around by the leg. This is fine by Cinco. If one is slow on the uptake she’ll move closer with her face plant and even wave her leg about to get attention.

In the end, it tends to be X-Man dragging her around the house, with a disgusted look on his face. So I suppose she’s on to something.

Monday, November 23, 2015

It’s still Cinco’s birthday.  She is still looking for her purple “Let It Go” cake. Her birthday month cumulated in a trip to Target. Sort of.

It started with the fact that both Mac and X-Man take swimming lessons. Mac is a good swimmer who has slowly developed past “thrashing with style” to competing in his first swim meet. X-Man is still in the thrashing mode. Style is yet to develop, although the child is fearless in the water. His swim instructor tends to put not one, not two but three separate flotation devices on him. She’s a prudent gal…….

Cinco is nothing if not competitive. She “beat” the father figure in air hockey the other day. Ten to one. I know because she kept a running score announcement to share with the entire crowd. Part of 
Cinco’s competitive score keeping is seen is her insistence that anything X-Man does…..she gets to do. So, it didn’t surprise me much when she appeared in front of me in her swimming suit. Although I admit to being impressed that she was able to get it on over her clothing. She walked over to me and announced “I go swimming lessons.” Being the mom I am, I smiled and said “ah good for you.” I figured this was all occurring in the same world that had her Dalmatian puppy doubling as her baby. It wasn’t until she climbed into the closet to retrieve her shoes and coat that I realized she actually intended to go to swimming lessons. This posed a problem.

First of all, it was seven pm. And I was heading out the door to take Baba to soccer. Second of all, Cinco wasn’t actually enrolled in swimming lessons. Third of all, Cinco doesn’t handle disappointment well. Well actually, she’s an expert at it. From the rolling out of the bottom lip, to the huge tears that slip down her cheeks and the shudders that come from struggling to contain sobs, she gets both the father figure and me, fairly easily.

Eventually she accepted a shopping trip to Target in lieu of swimming lessons. Of course, there was a brownie involved as well. While Cinco still would wistfully talk about swimming lessons, she didn’t let it dampen her enthusiasm much. She babbled along, talking about everything and anything. That included her belting out “Happy Birthday”, complete with blowing out nonexistent candles. And older gentleman commented to me “Wow, she really doesn’t stop does she?

No, no she does not.

We continued on to another store, whose halls were very much decked for the upcoming Christmas season. This very much excited Cinco. “Christmas. Christmas everywhere!!!!” As we browsed the aisles, Cinco announced loudly “LOOK! IT’S MY HORSE!!!!!” Indeed, it was a beautiful wooden rocking horse. Cinco continued “Go, go mama! Go to my horse!” I tried to break it to her “I’m pretty sure that’s not your horse. That’s the store’s horse.

And with that, Cinco turned cocked her head to one side and looked at me with patience and understanding “I think Daddy wants to get me the horse.

That’s a new one folks.

And now I have to decide whether to tell the father figure this story……and end up with an absurdly expensive horse. Which is rather redundant I suppose. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

It’s dark and stormy here. Similar to the weather we so enjoyed on Halloween. Which was peachy. Baby and Baba were both off at their own Halloween parties. I suppose that’s the way things will be as they grow older. Mac was running along with his cousins trick or treating. That left the father figure with Cinco and Me with X-Man.

It was a study in contrasts. X-Man was very conscientious about directions. This is a new state of being for X-Man and one that I want to nurture as much as possible. He would stomp up in his rainboots and Hulk mask and ring the doorbell while announcing “Please have candy please.” This worked like a charm on the retired folks who would bestow handfuls of candy on him. He responded by digging back in his bucket and returning random handfuls while saying “One piece only please.” Like I said, the boy is intent on following directions. Mostly. He still refuses to wear pants around the house. I have yet to hear complaints from the school, so it seems to be a state of being around the house.

Cinco, on the other hand, rarely needs directions. She owns the world. She loitered behind the X-Man on a mission, chatting up each homeowner. Invariably she would be told “you’re so cute!” and she would respond “Yeth. I a purple ucorn. For Halloween.” The result would be more candy and more conversation. “Thankth. I like tandy. I like (rummage in bucket, pick a random piece) this one.” “I purple my yittle pony.” And of course the father figure would stand there, basking in her cuteness. 

Cinco moved on from the excitement of Halloween to assuming it’s her birthday. Every day for the last week she has walked up to me and emphatically announced “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!!!” And every day, I have to let her down gently, that no, actually her birthday is five months away. Well, the longer she sticks with it, the less gently I break it to her. So far she’s ordered a purple “let it go” cake for her birthday. And she wants us to sing her happy birthday regularly. She also has decided that she wants to wear a pretty dress for her birthday as well. At this point I’m just smiling and nodding.

As life goes on, my children become more and more behaved. Possibly even civilized. I guess it’s progress.  Or maybe they know that Santa is watching. Of course the whole universe is watching. That's why, less than twenty four hours after embarking on a large Christmas shopping trip, tree roots decided to announce that they had moved into the sewer pipe and really made themselves at home. It's like they knew I still had money from my paycheck left. So, it's been a FUN week so far. And yes, it's only Tuesday. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I’m not one for life hacks. It just makes things too complicated. I don’t remember where I left my cup of coffee. I’m not ever going to remember why I saved all those little twisty things on my bread bags.

Besides, who needs life hacks if they have X-Man?

X-Man was at the playground, cheerily playing in his own world, oblivious to the children around him. He was playing some game that involved him climbing up a slide. He would nearly reach the top, before sliding down in dramatic fashion accompanied by a “Oh NOOOOOO”. He continued on until a little girl sat herself at the top of the slide and yelled “MOVE! I’m coming down!”

X-Man was about halfway up the slide and considered his predicament. The little girl was uninterested in waiting. She yelled “NOW!” at X-Man. Now X-Man gets a look about him. It’s a look that his preschool teachers have already identified. It says, I have a plan…it is going to be awesome….and I will have to run away from mom as soon as I do it. X-Man had that look. Again.

Looking deliberately at the little girl, who was beginning to scoot down the slide, X-Man extended his bovine-like tongue and slid down the slide. Licking it the entire way down.

“EEEWWWW DAD!!!!!” shrieked the little girl and scrambled quickly off the slide and ran, traumatized to someone to fix the situation.  X-Man chuckled to himself and began his ascent again. 

Unflustered by his germs spread for the enjoyment of the entire county.

This new found power went straight to his head. X-Man attempted this bit on me….and my coffee cup. He figured if he licked my cup, I would surrender it to him immediately. He does not understand my relationship with coffee. He’s had to settle from drinking the Darth Vader creamer straight out of the bottle. He’d get away with it better is he didn’t yell “Yum. Coffee!” after every swig

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Several years ago, when Baby was very young, there was a large box in our living room. Baby snuggled herself up in the box, carefully closing the flaps and announced “I’m ready to be given to the gypsies.” All my energy went into not wondering why living with the gypsies was a preferred alternative to life with me.

Last week, Baba was clearly conspiring with X-Man. There was whispering and giggling and shenanigans. Sure enough, as I was herding the crew out the door and into the car for yet another go around of soccer and Costco. X-Man bolted to the end of the driveway and stopped. He stuck his thumb out and started hitchhiking.

Again X-Man introduced a first into my life. Again, I spend a lot of energy not thinking about why my four year old decided that jumping a car with a stranger beat riding in a car with me.

Baba collapsed with laughter. She admitted that she had been coaching X-Man on hitchhiking. Perhaps to encourage X-Man to go find those gypsies that his sister dreamed of living with.

But the whole plan began to backfire on X-Man. The random car that occasionally drives down our street managed to pass by right as X-Man jutted his thumb out. The car slowed down, and the young man driving made eye contact with X-Man. X-Man held his own…..for a second. And then took off running down the driveway.

I comfort myself that the house is a safer haven in the eyes of my son than a sketchy looking car with a shaggy man driving. It’s the little victories.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The father figure and I have a date tonight. We don’t do date nights all that often. That tends to happen when you have soccer seven nights a week. And, we don’t like to “waste” money like that. Movies are too expensive. Concerts are too expensive. Dinner out is too expensive. There are better things to waste our money on. Things like Disney’s Frozen on Ice.  Which is absurdly expensive but the father figure is bound and determined to take Cinco to. Possibly X-Man as well. But most certainly Cinco. As he has already taken his other two girls to some sort of Disney spectacle on ice. I dodged that bullet by being nine months pregnant with Mac. So I stayed home and painted a bathroom and watched football. I might not be that lucky this time. And so I get to sit down with the father figure and decide how much money we’re willing to spend in order to listen to “Let It Go” one more time.  I sold my kidney to pay for soccer. So it’s his turn.

Between soccer practices, I had to run to Target. Because of my love affair with Target, I keep forgetting they’re up to their eyeballs in Star Wars paraphernalia. Including gummy Star Wars shaped snacks. X-Man requests these snacks every time to cross the threshold. And so, again today I found the desired Darth Vader artificially flavored, gelatin squishy X-Wing fighter things. And X-Man was happy.

Cinco, seeing X-Man’s joy, wanted to partake. And so, I let her look at the snacks. All became very wrong in X-Man’s world. And he proclaimed so fiercely and loudly. In the middle of Target. I stopped in my tracks and firmly instructed X-Man to stop yelling. He did not. I repeated myself. He continued on his path of vocal defiance.

Well, I have been indulgent of X-Man’s tantrums in the past. I recognized that most of his outbursts stemmed from frustration at being unable to communicate his thoughts. But, in my efforts to be understanding and compassionate, I’ve also failed to come down on him as much as I probably should have. So says the father figure anyway.  I put X-Man in time out, which, when one is sitting in a shopping cart involves mom holding your hands and covering your mouth. It also involves you yelling “NO” every time mom asks “Are you done yelling?

So there I was, standing in the middle of the central aisle, bending over a cart—painfully aware of my muffin top announcing its existence to the entire county, because, let’s be honest, there was no way anyone in the store was unaware of our presence—calmly informing X-Man that if he didn’t get his act together “THIS INSTANT” that there would be no Star Wars snacks. Again. Ever. In the history of snacks.

I also got to observe a lady move slowly by the cart. I figured she was speed dialing CPS, trying to document my cruelty because clearly no child would ever protest this adamantly and persistently unless abused. I briefly considered moving my hand upwards to cover his nose as well. Passing out from oxygen deprivation was certainly a tempting option. But my animosity abated, at least towards the lady, when I saw that she was on crutches. Maybe her moving slowly had absolutely nothing to do with me.

Long, loud story short.  Target’s supply of Star Wars gummy snacks remained unchanged.  X-Man’s wailing continued.  Baby and Mac rolled their eyes. They had already explained to me that they were “STARVING!” Because “I didn’t like any of the food we had for lunch” and “I didn’t feel like eating meat.” And so there might have been some cookies in the cart as well. Cinco turned her attention towards the pastries. X-Man was lunging towards the snacks I had placed on a random shelf. He couldn’t reach them, so he settled for throwing a jar of wrinkle cream into cart instead, cutting me to the quick.

The cashier looked at me sympathetically and said “good luck” as we headed to the door. A convertible waited to let us cross the lot and then pulled up next to me. It was the slow moving lady from the store. She called out “Good job sticking to your guns mom!” and moved along.

So there was that. And, I made my limitedly verbal son say “I am sorry for yelling in the store” before he got a cookie. If that’s not winning……..well it’s surviving. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cinco do you want to go with Mom or do you want to stay with Nana?

ummm….” (head cocked to the side, eyes rolled skyward) “I think I’ll go with Nana.

No. Mama’s going. Nana’s staying to work with Baby. What do you want to do?

Ummmm….” (head still cocked to the side, now eyes slightly downward, hands expressively at shoulder level) “I think I’ll watch Barbie Dreamhouse.”

yeah, no. That’s not an option. You’re coming with me.

Kay.” Looks askance at the shoes held in my hand “I want to wear the kitty shoes.

Fine. We need to go.”                                                         

Enroute “MOOOM. You need to go fast.

We will go fast when it is not a red light.

You are not going fast.

It’s still a red light. Kicking the back of my chair will accomplish nothing but irritating me.” 

“Mom go fast and fix my hair.” Attempts to hand me the clips she has less than skillfully removed from her hair.

At the destination. “Unbuckle me now!
No, just Baba is going in. We’re going to sit here during her voice lesson.” 

Well, I think I am going in.” 

No. You’re not.” Head now cocked to the side, arms akimbo “I think that Baba wants me to go with her. “ 

No she doesn’t.

 “K. I have to go potty.

After barely using the facilities “I want to go to Starbucks.” 

So does mom.” 

You should go and get me a water with ice and a cookie.” 

No, you make too big a mess with cookies and I just cleaned out the car. And no ice. You eat it and make a mess.” 

Eyes roll upward “Yeah, but I like ice. And cookies.”

I have to wonder if X-Man doesn’t talk because Cinco doesn’t ever stop.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

It’s good that time travel isn’t a real thing. Otherwise I’d worry that he’d go back in time and construct a pre-nup solely to limit my trips to Target. But when there is one day that Halloween costumes are 40% off and your wife is spectacularly negative crafty……well Target wins!

I’d like to take this time to thank the brain trust at Fox Sports. They decided that Fight Song should be the anthem for the Women’s World Cup which inevitably led to every little girl on her way to a soccer tournament this summer blasting it in her car. This, in the case of this family, inevitably led to a toddler tyrant demanding Fight Song on a repeated loop until all other family members are irritated to homicidal levels.

I shouldn’t complain. At least it’s not Shake it Off. That is SO last season. But Cinco is less cute than she was last season. Or at least, she’s more insistent than she has been. For the sake of all others in the car, I announced that we would no longer listen to infinity Fight Song and allow each person in the car to choose a song. And by choose a song, apparently I meant “torture Cinco with the cruelest mean ever in the history of all the things.” Judging by her reaction.

Cinco tried to out wail the song that Baba selected. That was SUPER fun. For Baby’s selection, Cinco bellowed “No” repeatedly. She does not tire easily. When I asked Mac what he would like to listen to, Cinco just announced firmly “No only Cinco’s songs. Only Cinco!” That didn’t convince the rest of us. Which left her completely flummoxed.

How could we not drop everything and carter to her every desire? This is a continuing question in Cinco’s world. She has not handled X-Man’s enrollment in school well. She is convinced that we are taking him to the super-secret land of awesome. This led to X-Man lying on the stairs weeping because it was a school day, not a pool day, and Cinco weeping because it was a school day. So for the hours that X-Man is away, and I am trying to teach some very reticent learners, Cinco is busy putting on the “LOOK AT ME” show. It involves dancing on the coffee table, threatening to dump coffee on her head and sprawling across my lap as I try to teach Baba algebra. I am not a fan.

And me not being a fan is a surefire guarantee that Cinco will continue. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

I’m not dead. I’m actually functioning fairly well. But there is plenty on my plate. I have 100 students this year. And I went ahead and fully enrolled my three kids in their school. This, while they are still at home, means that they all have multiple assignments to turn into other teachers over the course of the school year. Yay accountability!

X-Man is attending preschool. He is terrified of School Buses. He gleefully heads into the classroom with his teacher and classmates and hyperventilates when it’s time to go. Until he sees me and remembers that no one is shuttling him up on the yellow bus of horror and death. Or whatever it is he thinks occurs on those buses. Gotta wonder about after school specials these days.

Happily, I suppose, school has not put a crimp in X-Man’s sensory experiences. We were sitting on the sidelines on a soccer game when a little boy wandered up. He looked like he emptied his water bottle on his head. He asked X-Man is he could play with his toys. See X-Man’s mom had it together enough to actually bring toys to this one game. Write it down on a calendar, because it might be the last time.

Anyway, the wet little boy asked to play with X-Man. X-Man looked at him skeptically, very very skeptically. He said “you need a towel.” The boy responded “That’s because I am wet.” Boys….their conversations don’t tend to get too deep. The little boy began to play with X-Man. X-Man continued on, but still skeptical. A few minutes later, X-Man leaned in slowly and very carefully and took a gentle bite of the boy’s shirt. Just his shirt. He leaned back and muttered to himself “Still wet.” The other boy said sternly “Don’t do that again” and X-Man nodded soberly. And did not do it again.

While he was playing, X-Man happened to look up and excitedly began to shout “BABA! It’s BABA! Mom look BABA playing soccer.” And apparently, for the first time, put it together as to why we run all over two states every weekend. The following day he made a similar realization while at Baby’s game.

Once the connection was made, X-Man put his newly acquired vocabulary skill to good use. Bellowing “Go Baba!!! Kick da ball! Go fast! AW MAN!!!!!!” There is nothing the boy does without enthusiasm.

Including wearing clean underpants. I finished up with students this morning and walked out of the office and into a wall of wailing. Constructed by the most indignant X-Man. The father figure explained that he put clean underpants on X-Man while getting him dressed for the morning. This was not actually the first time that X-Man introduced to the concept of fresh underpants every morning. It was, however, the first time he strenuously objected.

The father figure and I have differing parenting approaches, which is why we are complementary in our efforts. X-Man grabbed my hand to lead me upstairs. I assumed that the father figure had misunderstood what X-Man was trying to say and that I would solve everything. Being the competent mother I am, having remembered to bring toys to a soccer game once or twice. Clearly I would resolve this issue.

My hopes diminished when he led me into the bathroom. They disappeared completely when he actually fished out the dirty underwear handed them to me and tearily begged me to put them on him.

I’m really grateful that I have five children. Because it took to child number four to experience gnawing on stranger’s shirts while wearing yesterday’s underpants. And who would want to miss out on that?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I had to give a talk yesterday. It was entitled “Ordering Your Life.” I did not choose the title. My co-presenter did. We had never officially met, which explains why he thought this would be an acceptable topic.

While preparing my talk, about ordering life, I discovered every necklace I had was broken. They all hung under a mirror in my bedroom. They looked lovely there. And apparently they sang the song of Cinco’s people, because although they were all still hanging, each one had been carefully dissected. 
Or used as slingshots for small, stuffed animals.   

So there I was, observing that my outfit really required a necklace. And I did not have one. But Cinco solved my problem; she came up and grabbed a hold of me. With her yogurt covered hands.

I chose a clean shirt that was better accented with a scarf.

I left various children with various grandparents, because it being a day that ended in “y” there were activities to get to. I managed to find the location without being late and gave my talk. College grades indicate that I perform best with an off the cuff winging it approach and last night was no different.

The problem with doing things in tandem is that there’s always a second act. And you should pay attention to the second act. Which I would have, if the father figure hadn’t texted me. The father figure, who knew I was giving a presentation, texted me “call me as soon as you can.”  Clearly one or more children were in the emergency room.

Or, the refrigerator was threatening to go on strike.

This is totally something I could handle while in a different state. Quite literally. At least the different state part.

So there I was, clearly ignoring my co-speaker, reading the various messages from the father figure. He has the kids empty out the fridge into the outside one. And…..well that’s all you can do when your fridge is throwing a fit at 9pm at night. That and text your wife and stress her already genetically defective heart.  

Next talk I give will be entitled "Entropy in Your Life......How to Roll with It."

Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer is over. It’s funny, I always think summer will be restful and fun and relaxing. It isn’t. It never is. It just keeps getting worse and worse. I mean, I ended up in a mommy and me swimming class. Twelve years I managed to avoid that, but X-Man is good at maneuvering me into situations that are brand spanking new.

If I ran the world, I would not have preschool open houses two weeks before school actually begins. Of course, those who run the preschool  don’t have preschool aged children and so are unfamiliar with the wailing protestations that come from being told “No school hasn’t started yet.” X-Man is camped out in from of the front door, with his backpack, demanding that I take him to school or summon a bus to take him. He is certain that in my desire to be the world’s cruelest parent I am withholding school from him. Mac and Baby are certain that in my desire to be the world’s cruelest parent, I could withhold school from them, but am not. No one’s happy with my educational choices.

X-Man is my only summer birthday. In full keeping with X-Man’s approach to life, he chose to usurp my birthday. Which, as it was an early thirties birthday, I was fine to stop tracking. So X-Man turned four. He was exztremely pleased to have made it to this age. Partly as he has lived with me and occainsionally doubted that he would make that far.  I love the birthdays for little kids, who are just old enough to appreciate what is happening. X-Man was able to be very generous and understanding that he was receiving all the marvelous gifts and Cinco was not pleased with the situation. He gallantly tried to share his loot, but drew the line at Cinco grabbing them while yelling “MINE” and trying to hide them under her bed. Cinco was convinced that X-Man having a birthday while she did not, and no she did not accept the explanation that her birthday had already passed, determined that I was determined to be the world’s cruelest parent.  The fact that I removed her from the counter she had climbed on in an attempt to scrap frosting off of X-Man’s birthday cake only reinforced this notion.  

X-Man basked in the glory of his birth. His Nana gave him a birthday card that he was completely enamored with. He refused any attempts to read it to him. Rather he held it tightly and announced “Happy Birfday! FOUR!” So far he was right. He flipped open the card an proceeded to read it “letters letters letters letters” slammed it shut and proceeded to shred the paper off his gift.  He ended the day sleeping in his bed, on piles of duplos and legos.

Cinco emerged from her bedroom the next morning and bellowed “Happy birfday!!!! Mine birfday.” 

Monday, August 17, 2015

There was a study that made the news recently. It purported to show that having children saps your happiness.  A year after having children, mothers particularly, found themselves less happy than those who had divorced or even suffered the death of a close one. Basically, having children makes you miserable. This misery is considered to be partly behind the declining birth rate in European countries. Because children……who wants that kind of buzz kill?

Of course there were those who decried the study. They found it manipulative and subjective, flawed science based upon self-reporting.  It seemed to be pushing an agenda, distorting reality to advance a cause.

I found the study to be plausible. And I didn’t find it alarming or even disheartening. It actually made sense, after a few minutes of pondering. It’s not that being a parent is awful. It’s not that sleep deprivation makes us miserable, that the screaming, the pooping the vomiting ruins our lives.  It’s that we have grown, grown past ourselves. We are no longer content with successes in our own lives, no longer satisfied seeing ourselves grow and flourish. We want more, so much more. Not for ourselves, oh no, for people who are so much more important. People we want so much more for. People we love so much, we accept the poop, the vomit, the exhaustion.  Children don’t make parents miserable. But they do deepen the canal.

While listening to the report on the study, an image of a brook came to mind. Brooks are beautiful, clear and peaceful. They are a source of life, nurturing and enabling life to flourish. But if a brook flows into a river bed, it’s small and shallow and insufficient.  What was more than enough in its own circumstances is lacking in a different scenario.

It’s that way with our hearts as well.
What brought us joy before those tiny little monsters that run ruck shod over our lives, still does. But it’s not the same. Because we are yearning for a different joy, different success…..theirs. We aren’t satisfied in our own accomplishments, we want so much more. We want the world. Not for ourselves, but for our babies.  And, which a source of frustration, we aren’t in control of that which brings them happiness.

And so our life is filled with happiness, but also worries and stress. More happiness, but more worry. And the stakes are so much higher. Not just for their future, but also for us. We see so much more that we can do, that we can give, so much harder that we want to push ourselves. Parenthood challenges us to be better, to give more, to love as we didn’t know we could. It is exhilarating, but it is a heavy burden.

What filled us up, what satiated us, what enough before is no longer enough. We want more from ourselves, we want so much more for our children. Our heart, our lives have deepened. It’s not that we aren’t as happy or now sadder. It’s that we have turned the corner, seen how much more we can give, how much more we can be.

Do children make parents miserable? No. Not full time anyway. It’s not that children ruin lives simply by being born; it’s that they upend the world they are born into. Perspectives change. Priorities change. Everything changes. When your parameters shift so entirely, the standards by which you measured life don’t hold anymore. It’s part of the responsibility that we take on with parenthood.

Welcoming little people into our lives and into our hearts is no small matter.  Life isn’t easy raising children. It’s filled with worry and doubt and frustration. And the measure isn’t our own happiness, but rather the persons we raise our children to be. And those children bring with them something much more than happiness. Something deeper, life altering. They bring joy .

And that’s worth sacrificing for. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

The father figure gave the car a tune up this weekend.

It was good enough to get me thirty minutes away from home. It was not good enough to get me back home. And that's how I spent my afternoon, sitting out in ninety degree heat, realizing that over the course of my marriage I had learned to recognize the tell tale signs of a dead battery. And that I had developed the ability to call the father figure, when the car had ceased working, and remain calm.

And the father figure learned that if he gives a car a 100,000 mile tune up, he should probably go ahead and switch out the original battery. Because at 100, 100 the battery will die. Provided his wife is driving....and all five children are accompanying her. Because, if he doesn't, his wife will overpay for a battery that is delivered to her car. And not even care.

X-Man was fascinated by the battery replacement process. He narrated loudly "He fixing the tar mommy. It's fixing!" I shared his glee. Especially since Cinco's source of entertainment involved dumping her siblings drinks into the parking lot and attempting to skate on the ice cubes. The result was three very annoyed siblings and one utterly filthy baby. She managed to not just fall on the parking lot pavement, but also the surrounding bark dust. The bark dust in which X-Man stood observing the need for AAA in everyone's life. Between that and the general grime that is found inside a car engine, he wasn't representing the family about better than his sister. One look at the two of them and I made the executive decision that our path inside the house would require a detour through the kiddie pool.

Somehow this backfired and resulted in clothing strewn all over the backyard and my toddlers' naked, still dirty bodies, now also sporting dead grass. Which sticks rather tenaciously to a child's body unless it is the vicinity of a wood floor, then it simply attaches itself to the floor and replicates in a manner similar to rabbits.

It all seemed a fitting end to the weekend. Baba spent the weekend away at a soccer tournament. She returned downright bubbly, sporting a shiny gold medal. The father figure was working out of town and left the other four with grandma as I was in an entirely different state---which is generally referred to as confusion--attending meetings. The children ended up spending the weekend with grandma as when the father figure drives my car all sorts of warning light illuminate. So he spent the weekend discovering Detroit decided to hide spark plugs way in the back of that huge engine he so loved.

For whatever reason, Cinco decided that this all was my fault. Or something. She was clearly disgruntled with me when I returned home. She sat, pointedly, on the couch when I walked in the door, refusing to great me as her siblings did. When I tried to hug her, she leaned back into the cushions, while refusing to look at me. And when the father figure had to leave, she insisted on going with him. The father figure asked her if she wanted to stay home with mommy she wrapped her arms around his neck and loudly declared "NO!"

When they returned, Cinco ran up and clambered into my nap and snuggled deep into me. Apparently she was under the impression that it was her and the father figure against the world. Furthermore, she would have free reign within the duo. The father figure was not of the same mind and did indeed actually tell her "No." At least once. Disenchanted with that partnership, she deigned to acknowledge my existence. Any port in a storm.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It's day four of the Dodge Caravan Hostage crisis of 2013. And frankly I'm tired of getting things accomplished.

The father figure came home for lunch today. He was eating and I was reading the paper to him. It was an interesting article about traffic and then we discussed the coupons and various sales that were happening. We're old. I was a bit taken a back by how stereotypical we were, and slightly alarmed. But not enough to actually change my behavior.

As a hostage of the uncooperative car, I was able to set up the train table in the boys' room. It's similar to the tables that you might find at Barnes and Noble. I bought it for Mac's third birthday. It seemed like a reasonable purchase. He played with the tables at whatever stores had them and wailed something fierce as I pried his hands off. But rather than sit quietly and drive trains, like he typically did, Baby help him discover that the train tracks came apart and could be used as weapons. Also, you could color on them.

So the table went away. Shortly after we moved into our new house, X-Man began to talk a lot more. And one of his mostest favorite things is Thomas the Tank Engine. Or should I say, Homas the Hank Engine. It's the cutest thing ever. He's so happy when he shows you the Homas' in the book or his own Homas he got for his first birthday. He also likes to tell you the sound that Homas makes.

He truly appreciated the Homas table. He squealed as each piece can out and he had to run and show his siblings. It was very cute. And totally worth the effort to get the track together. And of course, as soon as it was set up, Mac and Baby and Baba all had to come play with it. Within minutes, it was spread all over the floor. I put it back together in time for X-Man's nap, not really sure why, but I did. And sure enough, I peeked in three hours later and there was X-Man, asleep on his intact table.

I loved talking to X-Man about Homas, mostly because it's so darn cute. And I was treasuring it until I over heard the father figure say "Hey X-Man, what's your favorite terrorist organization?" X-Man looked up from his train book and yelled "Homas!" And now that memory is ruined.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Another day, another call into poison control. Actually, it’s been close to a decade since I called them. Since Mac ate an entire lipstick on mine. Cinco tried to wash her hair with laundry detergent and was too busy spitting everywhere to explain to me if she had indeed ingested any.

New day, new blood on X-Man’s face. It’s a fairly common occurrence these days.  When I noticed, Mac immediately moved into total innocence mode. He was barely aware that X-Man had a face of any sort, let alone how any skin may have been removed from said fade. Cinco continued spinning around in circles. I’m pretty certain she’s the actual culprit. X-Man told me that an octopus scratched him. When Cinco flies into a fury it does seem like she has twice as many limbs.

Baby informed her aunt, during a pier side walk, that Cinco smells like sea life. Again an argument for the whole octopus description. And that’s all the thought I am giving that observation. Pretty sure that’s a trail I don’t want to wander down.  But could explain the attempted bath in laundry detergent. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

If you give a mouse a cookie, he will ask for a glass of milk. If you give a threenager a cookie, he will crumble it up, throw it in the air and shout “Look Mom, snow! Messy snow!!!!

He will also strongly object to the necessary shower and hair combing that the sudden snow shower requires.

X-Man has been carefully juggling a grape with his knees. He keeps telling me it’s a soccer ball. Guess he’s been watching the World Cup along with his sisters.

X-Man wandered into the office today, as I was trying to wrap up the school year. He dropped his trousers, bent over and grasped both cheeks of his hiney in order to spread himself wide and bellowed “ouch Ma! Kiss it.

Now I admit, I wondered if there was a master plan and he was about to pull and prank on me. But I am X-Man’s mom and when he asks for kisses I comply. At least somewhat. So I dubiously looked at my son, kissed my hand and patted his bare rear. This was not acceptable. He objected “No Mom! Ouch” and bent further over, pulling his cheeks even farther apart. I repeated my attempt to render first aid. He was most certainly not satisfied. Bending even further over, so that his head was resting on the floor (oh those were the days) he glared at me through his wide stance “MOM OUCHES!!!!” I was unmoved. And confused. Exasperated X-Man gave what can only be described as a teenage sigh,  straightened up, took my hand and said “Kiss it!” I complied. He then firmly smacked it on the other bare cheek and pulled his pants up and carried on with his day.