Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Scream (Mother of Boys Edition)

My sister, bless her, came and stayed with the boys this evening so Paul and I could go on a date. (We went to Lowe’s and Chipotle. I know. We’re so glamorous we can’t stand ourselves.)

We got home with bedtime in full swing, so there was a lot of arguing and trying to get away with a brushing of the teeth that lasted five seconds and implementation of delaying tactics and punching (because it’s never a bad time to punch your brother in the head, amirite?), but when the whirlwind abated, I got to hear about suppertime.

They ate well, but in a turn of events that will surprise no one at this point, they were singing the Trick or Treat song (smell my feet version) over and over and over and over. Probably because it mentions underwear. Originally employing the let-them-get-it-out-of-their-system strategy, Auntie snapped on about repetition eleven and said,”ENOUGH! Stop. No more. Nothing. EAT.”

And Levi said, “Mom sometimes screams right in the middle of lunch!”

scream

“Well,” she said, after taking a long moment to arrange her face into an appropriately disapproving expression, “I can’t imagine why.”

Teeth Again

This? This is the face of a young man filled with excitement and pride. Excitement over a milestone – losing a tooth is a big deal when you’re 6 3/4 years old. (Losing a tooth at 40 would be a big deal, too. Though not quite in the same way.) Pride because he gathered all his courage in his little hands and pulled it himself. So you can understand the anticipation with which he placed the little incisor under his monkey pillow. 

Unfortunately, we have the worst tooth fairy in the world at our house. THE WORST. 

The tooth fairy forgot. It’s not even the first time. This is his third tooth and the tooth fairy is averaging .333 which is great if you’re playing pro baseball but dismal if you’re tooth-fairying. I think she might have cavities in her brain. 

So this morning started with heartbreak and recrimination and the tooth fairy didn’t even have a good excuse, blast her. She should have set an alarm on her phone. Heaven knows that’s the only way she ever really remembers anything. 

She’d better not forget tonight, and she’d better come up with a pretty good letter of explanation. 

Let me know if you have any idea what might have happened. She clearly needs all the help she can get. 

Pinky the Pig

We have these friends Craig and Tricia who have three girls. Girl One is a tween (let’s all pause in prayer for their future sanity, shall we?) and the twins are in the first grade.

There is a lot about parenting that is not gender-specific. I don’t care whether you have boys or girls or a mix, there’s a certain amount of puking and whining and don’t-make-me-tell-you-again that can’t be avoided. There are differences, though. I’ve never yet found a naked Barbie on the floor in my own house. No one has ever spilled nail polish on the carpet. (Not even me, which is saying something.) So while I despair of ever, ever, ever in my life teaching my little darlings to take some care in the bathroom and not spray like roving tomcats, a lot of things are easier, like clothes.

This will undoubtedly change at some point, but currently my children care very little about their clothes. They would prefer if possible never to wear any, and the fact that they’ve had almost no new clothing since they grew out of the stuff we got at the baby shower (I love hand-me-downs so much we’re thinking of running away to Vegas together) … well, they haven’t even noticed.

And so it is that while Tricia and I both consider the shopping mall one of Dante’s circles of hell, only she has to pass through the gates of the doomed to go shopping for Easter dresses every year. A couple of years ago, the twins’ preschool teachers thought it would be hilarious to make sure this was even harder by sending Pinky the Pig home with one of the twins that week*. Pinky, see, was the classroom stuffed pig, and she got to spend a week at home with each member of the class. During that week, the kid in question is charged with creating a photo documentary of Pinky’s adventures and bringing a scrapbook page back to school.

You may have cottoned on to the fact that I am not a Pinterest Mom. I am terrible at cute projects. Terrible. I hosted a stuffed Minion in my home for several days recently under circumstances similar to those of Pinky, and I mostly just tried to keep the boys from actually removing the stuffing. (Success!) Tricia – and this may be a factor in our friendship – is much the same. Pinky did not visit a model of the Eiffel Tower while wearing a jaunty beret. She did not pose in a chef’s hat while making child-shaped cut out cookies. Pinky went Easter dress shopping. Because that’s what was happening anyway. Get with the program, Pinky. Off they all went, Tricia and her mother-in-law and three girls and the pig, to the torture chamber mall.

Pinky was causing some problems. It’s rough with twins sometimes, because maybe even more than other siblings, they want everything to be faaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiir. And like other siblings, fair is subjective and mostly unrelated to historical fact. So time with the pig was an issue. And, as it turns out, it is not okay to leave a stuffed pig in the car. (I couldn’t find a statute on the books for this, and I’m not convinced one exists, but the girls seemed pretty sure at the time, I guess.)

Tricia, like any mother who has ever ending up carrying all the stuff everybody else dragged along, did not want the pig to come in, but was worn down by the opposition. “FINE!” she said, “Whatever. But YOU are carrying Pinky, and YOU are responsible for her.”

Clothes shopping with kids went the way clothes shopping with kids goes, which is to say something between waterboarding and a root canal. You can’t be hungry, we just had lunch. PUT THAT DOWN! Not that one, your father would have a stroke. No, I don’t have any snacks. Stop swinging the pig; you’re going to hit someone. I know you think the neck will itch, but just try it on. I’m begging you. Oh, for Pete’s sake, we ate half an hour ago! Stop swinging the pig, I said!!

So there was definitely a headache brewing but things were survivable. Then they went back into the dressing room to try on another dress, and the girl currently holding the pig took one more big forbidden swing, and accidentally let go.

And Pinky disappeared.

Poof. Gone. She rose up, up, up, in an arc toward the ceiling, and never came down.

After a short, stunned silence, panic set in. This was not just a toy, my friends, this was Pinky the Pig. All the hopes and dreams and joys of a classroom full of preschool scholars was riding on this pig. And the Keeper of the Pig sat down on the floor and cried her little heart out, because it was all her fault.

At this point, there are a number of things vying for space in any parent’s head.

  • It. Is. Just. A. Toy. Pull yourself together, child.
  • Poor kid. What if she has to go back to school and say she lost the pig?
  • I really do not need this right now.
  • How does a pig DISAPPEAR?
  • Really, really don’t need this.
  • WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT SWINGING THE $&#*# PIG?
  • Seriously, what on earth? It can’t actually be gone.

So they looked everywhere in that little dressing room. They looked in the dressing rooms on either side. They looked in the hall. They looked on the ceiling. They may have tried to take the mirror off the wall and check behind it; I’m not sure. Luckily, they were the only ones in the dressing room, but it wasn’t long before a saleswoman walked back and said, hesitantly, “Ehrm … can I help you with anything, ladies?”

And that is how it came about that my friend was standing in the dressing room at Dillard’s explaining that they were fine but a pig had disappeared, and hoping that the saleswoman wasn’t going to ask if she’d like to be fitted for a nice comfortable straitjacket in a spring color.

She didn’t mention straitjackets, fortunately. Moved by experience with children or compassion for the heartbroken little waif on the floor or just really excellent customer service training, she joined the search. No pig. She pulled in a coworker to help. No pig.

So she called maintenance. And again, parental brain space was torn between competing thoughts:

  • Why is this happening to me? Why am I here? Why did I want these children?
  • They are being really nice. Now we have to get the dresses here.
  • Pinky the Pig can go to the devil.

After some time, the maintenance man strolled up and asked what the problem was. “I bet I know what happened,” he said. It turns out that the tops of those walls in dressing rooms aren’t solid. So it would be possible to throw something up in the air and have it come down between the walls of the dressing rooms. Things were not looking good for Pinky, and an atmosphere of gloom descended.

But the maintenance man went and got a ladder and hauled himself up there. And laughed.

The open-top construction of the walls included places where the rods crossed each other. And in a corner forming a triangle, there was Pinky, perched on top, in a hidden corner behind the wall.

The hero of the day got hugs from little girls and a nutty story to tell his dinner companions. The saleswoman got the business. Pinky got a stand-out page in her photo documentary. Tricia got a very large margarita**.

Best of all, the next time we were together, we all got a retelling of the adventures of Pinky the Pig that took us to what my friend Steph has identified as the perfect point of laughter. Right where you can’t stop laughing, have trouble breathing, have to wipe your eyes, and you go right to the edge (but not over) of literally wetting your pants.

Oh, Pinky. If you’re still circulating, I hope you get to go shopping again soon.

*Yes, I know it wasn’t on purpose. It just seemed that way. We love you, teachers. We do.
** I made that last one up. I have no idea if she got a margarita. It just sounded good there.

Insecurities

We had a little drama this morning. Elias participated in the Nursery Rhyme Olympics at preschool this morning, so my work day was going to be all messed up. In an effort to stay ahead of things, I got up earlier than usual this morning and locked myself in my office before the boys got out of bed.

Elias, when he got out of bed, said hello to his papa and then trotted on through the kitchen, intent on giving me the standard good morning hug in our bed. I wasn’t there. So he checked the garage. My car was there, so I should have been in the house. He turned to his papa with the beginnings of alarm, and said, “Where is Mama?”

Paul, trying as instructed to keep the boys out of my hair for half an hour, replied, “I don’t know, buddy.”

And Elias immediately sobbed, “Did she DIE?!?!?”

Yikes.

Even Paul couldn’t find it in his heart to tease him after that.  He unlocked the office right away and Elias got enough hugs and pats to stop crying and get ready for school.

The boys have left off the constant questions about people dying and what happens afterward and whether they come back and when we can visit. I guess I’d been thinking they were done, not with grief and memories, but with the anxiety. Obviously not.

Life has been pretty normal, whatever that means, at this house for some time now, and still that question was just under the surface. Even at not-quite-five, he knows that something awful could happen right out of the clear blue sky. He’s scared.

And, I confess … me too.

I feel like I should be just fine. Things are fine. We have the usual stuff, like the morning rush out the door being consistently and comprehensively hideous, but there is really nothing bad happening right now. So naturally, I am inventing terrible troubles right around the corner. If it’s close to evening and I hear a siren, I am instantly sure that Paul was in a fatal traffic accident. If the hospital calls to remind me of an appointment, I see the phone number and decide that they have found a report from a recent throat culture and Levi is culturing some really awful bacteria that requires an inpatient visit. (I think I may have mentioned before that my relationship with logic suffers periodic estrangements.)

So I’m behaving pretty much the same way as my preschooler. Super.

Martin Luther allegedly said that while we can’t stop the birds from flying over our heads, we can keep them from building nests in our hair. He was referring to temptation, but I think it works for anxiety, too. Until they develop a safe and effective procedure for personality transplants, I am not going to stop being a neurotic worrywart. But, I think, I don’t have to let it run me.

I’m finding as I stumble along in parenting that I often really don’t want to raise my children to behave like I do. I would like them to be much better at life than I am. And so I have to learn lessons to figure out how to impart them. I expect that I will fail at this more often than not, and pass on a lot of my own issues to the next generation. (Sorry, kids. Love ya!)

When Elias encounters the unexpected, I’d like him to be able to be flexible and curious (and possibly cautious, depending on the situation) instead of panicked. That probably means I need to do that myself. I’ll let you know how it goes.