Monday, April 28, 2008

Treading water

Lauren has made friends with a couple of the first graders who live in our neighborhood. Most of our neighbors are either faculty or alumni of the state university, and so they have privileges at the six or so pools on campus. Lauren's friend Kitty was having a Luau Pool Party, and since Lauren is Kitty's ride-to-school buddy (Alice is her ride-home buddy), she was invited. I thought briefly about declining, since all of the neighborhood kids take swimming lessons and Lauren doesn't. But Lauren was really excited about the party.

When I went to drop her off, I entered through an open door to the pool itself. The birthday girl and another girl were already swimming in the pool. Kitty's mom showed me to the locker room to stow Lauren's stuff. Since she had told Alec that it was a drop-off only party, I had not planned to stay.

"Have you been here before?"

"No. It's very nice. What a great place for a party!"

"Does Lauren swim?"

"No." I replied, omitting that she doesn't take swimming lessons because she's actually terrified of water.

Kitty's mom had the staff raise the bottom of the pool a few inches so that Lauren would be able to stand comfortably. "It's fine. Some of the other kids probably don't know how to swim either." She said easily. "You're welcome to stay if you'd like..."

I looked around. No other parents were there. I'd be the sole parent of the only kindergartener. "No," I replied. "Lauren will be fine," with more confidence than I had.

Since the pool had no stairs, I helped Lauren negotiate sliding into the pool from the edge. She looked nervous.

"It's alright, honey. When you get in, the water is only going to be up to your chest and it's really warm like a bath."

She slid in, and grinned when she realized that her arms were above the water level. "Cool." As I left, I saw Kitty toss Lauren off her knee. Expecting a barrage of tears when she was submerged, I hesitated, but Lauren popped back up grinning.

As a parenthetical, here is where I called Karen and asked if she thought Lauren would drown in 2 feet of water. She assured me that was highly unlikely.

I brought Alec and Lindsay back with me to pick up Lauren. We went through the same pool door. There were no children to be seen. I walked into the locker room. Lauren's stuff was no longer in the locker where we'd placed it.

At this point, my dear husband lost his patience. He had not wanted to leave our warm house and his ballgame to retrieve Lauren, and became convinced that I had not read the invitation correctly and/or perhaps our neighbors had absconded with our child. The invitation was in the car, so that part of the myth was dispelled, but still Lauren was no where to be seen.

It occurred to me that there was an entrance to the building on the other side of it, so we drove around it, and there were our neighbors and their children. Alec retrieved Lauren. We were about 10 minutes late to the pick up, and Kitty's mom was about to drive Lauren home.

"Oh, I didn't realize that she didn't know that was the wrong door," said Kitty's mom. "Everyone else came in through the front."

ETA Lauren declared this the best birthday party EVER and asked if she could have her own swimming party.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

April is so mine now.

Ben has a T-ball game every Saturday morning at 8:20. This information came as a very unpleasant surprise to The Man, whose typical bedtime is between 2:00 and 3:00AM. He even went as far as to say that they should have put a disclaimer with this information on the registration form.

Because of the early hour and Clara's less than accommodating to game-watching personality The Man and I have been alternating taking Ben to his games. I love the early games myself, the sneaking out of the house at 7:30 before the rest of the house awakens, and the one-on-one time with Ben. Clara usually wakes up around 8:00AM and it is of utmost importance that we don't wake her getting out the door or chaos ensues. We just leave the monitor on for The Man and make a break for it. It's amazing how just having one child with me can feel so liberating.

Yesterday was my morning and we made it out the door in peace and attended the game. Three-year-olds playing any organized sport is a lesson in comedy and this time was no different. Ben and I chatted it up on the way home about his wonderful t-ball playing skills (he managed to run the actual bases this time instead of just randomly around the infield) and he decided he wanted to forgo our regular stop for coffee & muffins. His aunt had brought him a movie he was itching to get home and watch. I was really disappointed. Sitting across the table from my boy, listening to him prattle on and marveling at how he can seem so big and still so small, is my favorite part. I figured, however, it would lose some of it's charm if he was whining the whole time, we headed home.

When we walked in the door, I knew there was a problem. The house was dark and no, "Hi Mama!" greeted me from the living room. In fact, no one was IN the living room. I walked into the bedroom and found Shane snoozing away in bed, and my heart sank. I must have turned the monitor off when I woke up that morning out of habit. It was 9:45AM. Clara had probably been screaming her head off for nearly two hours. I ran to her room and heard nothing. I went in and found her, red-faced and tear-stained and passed-out. She must have eventually cried herself back to sleep. It's been bothering me all weekend, thinking of how confused and mad (the girl has a temper) she must have been. And I have been feeling, uncharacteristically, guilty. And thankful that we didn't stop for muffins.

And even more thankful that she is never going to remember this particular screw-up.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from Karen

This morning, I asked Samuel to pick up his pajamas off the floor and to make his bed, then we could go eat breakfast. House rule. He didn't want to. He whined. He complained. He fussed. I left. Ten minutes later, he was still sitting on his floor, pj's at his side, bed unmade, whining, complaining, and fussing.

"If you had picked up your pajamas and made your bed when I asked you to, you would be downstairs eating breakfast already," says I.

I go downstairs again, but my ears cannot ignore the sounds emerging from Samuel's bedroom.

He's still sitting on the floor, but I notice that the poster on his bedroom door (with his picture in the middle, his name at the top, and various things he's good at written around it) has an addition: "Mommy doesn't love me." I go berserk. We've had this discussion a million times. I've tried reason ("Of course I love you."), I've tried guilt ("I CARRIED YOU IN MY BELLY FOR NINE MONTHS, YOU INGRATE!"--ok, I didn't say the ingrate part), I've tried hugs and kisses. But whenever I discipline him, he goes for the same old line: Mommy doesn't love me.

So after I get a stack of paper and a pencil, I tell him to write lines: My Mommy loves me very much.

I think we've finally reached an understanding.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

1.4 Miles

Ross wanted to wear scrubby shorts to school this morning, something neither Chris nor I thought was a good idea. Ross pitched an impressive fit for that early in the morning. I'm not much for anything before my coffee, though, so he got a rather lukewarm reception from me (I try to care about things before I've had my coffee but it's really, really hard to do) and a distracted reception from Chris who was trying to get lunches ready and really didn't have time for such snottiness. I told Ross that he'd have to walk to school if he missed the bus.

A few minutes before the bus, fit still in progress, Chris decided he'd drive the boys to school. They had hockey tryouts last night and skated hard (both made their teams!) so Chris was willing to afford them (ok, Lars, at least) a bit of grace.

Twenty minutes later, fit still in progress, Chris loaded Lars into the car and took him to school. I'd had some coffee by then, and took my freshly defrosted verbal skills upstairs. I calmly told Ross that he was not going to wear shorts to school today and that I would be taking him to school as soon as I'd put my shoes on. He whined about not wanting to wear pants, so I told him he didn't have to wear pants if he didn't want to. He couldn't wear shorts but if he wanted to go without pants I guessed that was among his rights to activate.

Shoes on, I picked up my wallet and sunglasses and headed to the car. I was fully prepared to return and carry a squirming child to the car but Ross actually came out of the house wearing pants! He was stomping ferociously but he was wearing a parent-approved set of clothes (I can't call and orange shirt with red pants an 'outfit'). As we pulled out of the driveway, I reminded Ross that he'd be walking to school. Still, he seemed totally shocked when we got to the top of the ridge and I pulled over!

244.7 (triptych) Ross ejected onto the first sidewalk between us and the school. I tuned in NPR, turned on my hazards, and started leap-frogging him.

244.8 Amazingly, Ross was actually walking toward the school at a steady pace without any sort of resistance.

244.9 Cross-street. I waited on the near corner for Ross to check both ways and start to cross then drove slowly through the intersection myself, sort of blocking him.

245.0 Ross caught up to the car, leaned in an handed me a freshly picked, long stemmed dandelion. He was smiling shyly.

245.1 Ross caught up to the car again and leaned in with, "Mama, thank you for taking me to school." He looked and sounded sincere.

245.2 Sidewalk ran out; I told Ross to get in the car. He buckled in and we proceeded slowly along the road. I asked if we're going to have more mornings like this one and, without hesitation, he replied, "That depends on whether you and Daddy will let me wear shorts."

245.3 More sidewalk; Ross ejected again.

245.5 I had the car at the bottom of a wide stretch of hill, the farthest ahead I'd been of Ross because I have a clear rear view of him and there were no intersecting roads. About halfway down the hill, he dodged around a tree and started to sprint, calling out gleefully, "I caught up to you!" as he flew past the car and slowed again to a walk. I thought it was probably good for him to run - maybe it would render him too tired to torment his teacher and class?

245.7 No sidewalk again. Ross got in the car. I asked if we're going to have more mornings like this one and, without hesitation, he replied, "That depends on whether you and Daddy will let me wear shorts." My kids are nothing like me, remember?

245.9 Sidewalk again. Ejected again. This time, I parked and walked with Ross since I couldn't drive the car through the back walk-in entry to the school grounds and was unwilling to give him the luxury of a ride around to the front. We chatted along the way, Ross about Avatar and me about respect. It's great when the lines of communication between generations are so open, you know?

246.1 I confronted the school's late sign-in register, which wanted a reason for the tardy arrival. What should I put? Insolence? Costume malfunction? I decided to crib another parent's lame answer and wrote "drop-off" in the box. It wasn't really a reason for the tardiness but I left the pen laying over that part of the page and figured I could make it out of the school before they read the log.

3:25pm Ross changes into play clothes - without being asked - before going outside to play. The war is far from over but I'm considering this battle a win for the parents.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A heads up...READ ME NOW.

I am not an author at Haiku Gesundheit so I couldn't post this there, but since this site contains several contributors AND other crafty writers, I wanted to let you know that Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer is hosting a Mother's Day Haiku Contest TODAY ONLY where the prize is $1000!! So hurry over there and knock their socks off already.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dinner Time

Dinner time, at our house, is a family affair. A meal is made and we all sit down to eat it together. It's not a novel concept, although we are often enough viewed as strange for not having a children's dinner separate (food or time) from an adult dinner that I worry for the future of our kind. So maybe it is a little strange to make one meal and expect everyone in the house to come and eat it together...but it's our way.

Lars has, of late, not been eating dinner. He's been sliding down the slope of not eating for a few months now, taking up most of our dinner time talking, then slowly lumbering through a few bites of food while the rest of us are pushing the last bites around our plates or clearing up. He's missed dessert on occasion, as we've served while he still had his dinner before him. Today, though, things came to a head. I'd made grilled cheese & turkey sandwiches, served with chips & dip and celery sticks. All things everyone likes and not a meal we have very often. Potato chips are especially rare - they only happen three or four times a year. I figured everyone would be excited but Lars looked at the table and burst into tears. He sobbed, "WHY DID YOU PUT MEAT IN MY SANDWICH," and threw himself at the floor. Did I miss a memo about his becoming a vegetarian?

Chris and I looked at each other, looked at Ross, and began to eat. Lars figured out pretty quickly that he wasn't getting any attention, so he sobbed freshly and ran upstairs. Ross made a move as if to go after him but Chris broke the No Speaking With Your Mouth Full rule to mumble, "Sit," at Ross and the three of us finished dinner.

After dinner, Ross went downstairs to get street pads together for a little shooting practice in the driveway while Chris cleared up. Lars appeared in the hall, peeking furtively around the wall into the dining room. Startled by the clean table, he demanded to know where his dinner was! "Dinner's over," I said, just as Chris zipped the uneaten sandwich into a baggie. "Maybe you'll eat with us tomorrow?"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A sincere apology

So, it's called "naptime" with the implication that some quiet lying down should happen.

But apparently the Thomas trains were too appealing, and so there was some quiet playing with trains. Fine. Not worth the argument. But apparently - the bridge *really* needed a river to go under it.

So about six bottles of water were carefully carried from the bathroom and poured onto the hardwood floors. Which I noticed when water started pouring out of the chandelier in the dining room. There was harpie-like shrieking. There were tears. And everything to do with Thomas the f-ing Tank Engine was removed from his room while he watched.

As he watched he yelled "Why are you doing this to me?"

"Because you don't seem to understand how serious this is. You haven't even said that you're sorry yet."

"But I am, Mommy, I am!"

" I'm sorry you're taking all my stuff away!!!!"

I lost it at that point. But did not begin laughing until I was safely locked in the bathroom.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Double whammy

Lauren has some indoor allergies. One of them happens to be dust mites. When she was 3, we did two rounds of allergy testing to find this out, and her allergist prescribed Zyrtec, which at the time was non-formulary on my insurance and cost about $30 per bottle. She only reacts if she gets bitten by a mite. Since it had been probably about a year and a half since this happened, I had forgotten all about it. I'd forgotten about it to the extent that we don't have any Zyrtec or even Benedryl in the house. I'd nipped at the Benedryl when my OB suggested it was better than not sleeping when I was pregnant, and must've finished the bottle.

This morning, Lauren complained of being itchy. She was wearing her nightie backwards and her undies sideways, so I figured it was clothing related and suggested she take a quick shower before Alec took his. When Alec helped her with her nightie, he found her trunk covered in hives. I ran around the house frantically looking for an antihistamine and found we only had Claritin. No good for hives. Ugh.

After breakfast, we drove to the supermarket and I bought a bottle of Zyrtec. Alec gave her a teaspoon, so that she'd have about 10 minutes or so for it to start working before I dropped her off at school, knowing that it's usually about a half hour after the antihistamine that the hives resolve. I parked a little ways away from the school and we walked, so it was actually closer to about 15 minutes after her dose when I dropped her.

I gave her a kiss goodbye on the forehead and was met with a single, angry hive staring me down. I fully expected to get a call from the nurse demanding a pick up. At around noon, I began to breathe easier.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Warm Days/Cold Nights

It's trying to be spring here and though I'm happy about it, I could do without having two or three distinctly different weathers in a day. Dewy but cold mornings call for a heavy coat, which I wear but then feel annoyed about having to lug around in 65° sunny afternoons. I'm glad of the coat again in the frosty evenings, though.

Yesterday, as we left the house in search of dinner out, I suggested to a windbreaker-clad Ross that he bring a heavier coat; it would be cold later. He waved me off, saying he was fine.

Hours later as we piled into the car to come home, a shivering Ross asked if he could have MY jacket! I gently asked if he remembered what I'd said to him as we left the house and he repeated the conversation verbatim, his words slowing as he realized what he was saying and how it pertained to the situation at present. When he finished, I let the silence sink in for a moment then said, "I'm nice and toasty now...maybe next time you'll bring a heavier jacket, too!"

Friday, April 4, 2008


I feel I should first say every time I look at my friend's son who just turned three, all I can think is I can't wait until Lindsay is 3! Am I going to spend the next 14 months doing this? I can't remember when the horrible of the uncommunicative tantrum slinks out the door as it crept in. Every time she has a tantrum and I have an inkling what it's about, whether it's because the socks aren't yellow, or none of THESE shoes, or wanting food we're currently out of, I tried to put words to that for her. As a result, she's experienced a recent boost in language, but it hasn't managed to reduce the number of tantrums.

This morning, I was sitting on a stool in the kitchen and Alec handed me a cup of coffee. Since I was at Lindsay level, it was perfectly reasonable that she thought this was cool and wanted to sit on my lap, more so after Alec opened the refrigerator door into her forehead as she ran at the refrigerator while he tried to meet her request for "More milky right now, peas." I managed to place the coffee on the counter and not spill the entire cup on her head, but a few drips dropped into her hair.

"Ooh, sorry, Lindsay." I said.

She sprung off my lap and dashed for her daddy's safe arms. "Lindsay is coffeehead!"

Thursday, April 3, 2008

An ugly conversation

Brandon's sitting at the table writing sentences. "I will tell the truth" 200 times. Because honestly I am at a loss for how to punish a teenager who is already grounded all the time. We have been at each other's throats all afternoon and are in the middle of a kind of silent battle. He is determined to get under my skin.

Brandon - You know that every time I write this it's another lie.

*&$^&#@%!!!!! I grit my teeth and say nothing but wonder how hard I could hit him without it actually leaving a mark. He tries again.

Brandon - What would you do if I told you I was an atheist?

Me - (Big sigh) Nothing Brandon. I wouldn't do anything. Pray, I guess. Try to explain why I believe what I believe if you wanted to listen.

Brandon - Would I still have to go to church?

Me - Yes, Brandon. We go to church as a family. Once you are on your own you can decide if you want to continue.

He continues, apparently disturbed not to have received a bigger reaction.

Brandon - What would you do if I got a tattoo?

Me - (Even bigger sigh) I don't know Brandon. Make you work off your laser tattoo removal treatments?

Brandon - Ha. Ha. (not impressed with my wittiness he sits quiet for a minute) What would you do if I ran away?

Me - What, and deprive us of your cheery personality? I'd help you pack. (and then as an afterthought) But you can't bring anything with you that we paid for, so you won't need a very big bag.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I Think I Must Be Crazy

Maybe it's not as bad as "crazy," but there is certainly something very wrong with me.

I recently learned the good news that a dear friend is engaged to be married. The date of her wedding is December 13, 2008, and the fabulous soiree will be held in a town very, very far away from Fort Myers. As I shared the news with Peegie, I lamented that the wedding date is a bummer because it falls on a weekend that he is always busy with work. I hopefully added "maybe you could get a pass this year, and not have to work that weekend so we can go to the wedding."

Peegie looked at me with that Matt Laurer-glib stare, as if to say, "really, are you kidding me?" and he said, "well, actually, sweetie, I was thinking it would be problematic because the wedding is the day after Zane's first birthday, and we might want to throw him a party or something?" He said it just like that, with a question mark at the end, clearly trying to will my mommy-brain to sputter to life again. He also noted that he is the "Best.Pop.Ever."

March's Winner is...

Karen! Congrats!