Derek called to tell me that he had just gotten back from lunch with our friend Laura. It seems that her nearly two-year-old has been giving them a run for their money, too.
I had been starting to believe that we were the only people with crazy children. I know it's not true, but sometimes it feels this way. In fact, Nathan just got dropped off from school yesterday with a comment that he had bitten another child in the class. There are only eight children in his class. He has bitten three of them. Which means 50% of the class since he clearly can't get in trouble for biting himself. When I asked him why he bit poor victim number 3, he yelled, "it was MINE, Mommy."
Um, no, it wasn't. It wasn't yours. I'm pretty sure of that since we don't take anything to school with us. I'm pretty sure it was the school's. Whatever it was. But back to our friend.
It appears that just before Christmas, Baby Girl hopped over not one but two gates around the Christmas tree and her mother only realized this as she heard her glass ornaments shatter against the wall. It seems that Baby Girl was throwing the ornaments because she liked the sound they made as they hit the wall. And then there were the heirloom fabric ornaments that she attempted to flush down the toilet a few days later after filling the bowl.
K: Tell me you didn't laugh.
D: It was funny.
K: No, it's not funny.
D: Oh, it's funny when it's not your kid who is doing it.
They had discussed failed nap times and nearly snapping and slowing feeling like you are losing your mind. I felt this conversation was wasted on my husband. He usually makes it until 20 minutes into bathtime before bed before he starts freaking out because the boys have started this really awesome game of sliding down the back of the tub at the same time to see how big a splash they can send into the far wall before the wave veers over onto the floor.
And I don't even do bathtime. I guess that's because by 7:15, I'm already rocking in a corner, babbling inconsolably. At least today I'm not the person who is mourning her Christmas ornaments. We may be a small band of parents of ill-behaved, mischievous children but we know how to stick together. Now would be a good time to tell me your best story of "spirited" behavior by your child. I could use the company. Go on.
For Christmas we got Ethan the game Chutes and Ladders. It was only when we broke the box out today that I remembered the whole concept of the game.
You spin the wheel. Sometimes you get lucky and end up at the bottom of a big ladder and sometimes you end up at the top of a long slide. I had forgotten how this game makes you feel. In case you had forgotten, it makes you feel lousy when you are playing with Mr. Lucky (Dad) and you are the kid that seems to continuously ending up at the top of that slide. Ethan and I watched as Derek made it to spot 89 while I hovered in the 50's and Ethan couldn't seem to make it past 30.
I'll admit it. I had an urge to cheat. When my spin came, I silently prayed that I would spin a 4 so I would drop below my son. His father did cheat. He rolled a 6, did a complicated counting maneuver and landed on the long slide down to the bottom.
D: See, Ethan. Sometimes you get lucky and go up a ladder and sometimes you have to go down a slide. The important thing is being a good sport.
He wasn't having any part of being the good sport. It wasn't fair and he wasn't even sure he knew why it wasn't fair. He was just annoyed at his bad luck.
We tried to hang in until the bitter end but we didn't quite make it. I know we have this whole movement now that says that all kids are winners and everyone is the same, but that isn't really true. There will always be someone who is faster than you or smarter than you or more winsome than you. You should learn how to be a good sport and be supportive of others when they are doing better than you. It's just a life lesson I'm not sure is easily taught to a three-year-old. Oh, heck. It's not going to get any easier as he gets older, is it? So I think for now we'll just put the game away. Maybe we need to find a game that is based on skill rather than luck. It seems slightly more honest. I just don't know.
How did that happen? Remember when you were a kid and it felt like you were spending your entire life waiting for the next big event (birthday? holiday? summer vacation?)? Your mother used to say, "just wait until you get older because time moves so fast." I thought my mother was lying (sorry, Mom), but now I am old and time sure flies.
I'm normally against the whole New Year's resolution thing but Jen had some great points about making resolutions that were do-able and not destined for failure. I, on the other hand, intend to make 2009 the year of doing the impossible. Having had such low expectations for myself for the last 10 years or so, it's the least I can do. So here they are.
1. Lose 50 pounds by my high school reunion. Don't get all panicky on me. I'm pregnant. Although those sites that tell you exactly how much everything weighs inside of you when you are pregnant is lying. I gave birth to an 8 lb., 8 oz. baby last time and only instantly lost 8 pounds. This weight loss goal might be interesting if a) I keep eating, b) I have a big ol' baby and c) someone sends me an invite on facebook telling me that the reunion is in the next 6 months. I mean, I am having a baby in three months but by golly, I'll just get J. Lo's trainer if need be. If God loves me, the reunion will be in August or September. If God has a sense of humor, I'll be buying a belly bandit for a May reunion.
2. Get a computer to actually function in my house that will allow me to post pictures. All those really horrible pictures I have been posting? They don't lie about the quality of the I-Phone's picture. But I have saved up my pennies and now I just might be able to download pictures onto a desktop that will not send the blue screen of death my way with every 5 MB picture. I'll let you know how this goes.
3. Run my children every single day. I know. Sounds like I am talking about a dog, but these kids of mine have more energy than a lab pup. When their father came home from work last night, he sat in stunned silence as the kids took turns climbing over him on the couch and trying to sit on his head. "Didn't you exercise them today?" Like they are horses. Multiple laps around the house will now be mandatory and I am still looking for a child's size hamster wheel that can be connected to a makeshift energy generator. I'll bet my kids could heat my house in the winter if we could harness that energy.
4. Clean the kitchen more than once a week. Don't look at me that way. I hate cleaning the kitchen. I might even go all crazy and do laundry too before my husband just resorts to buying underwear and socks from Target.
I am totally going to do these impossible things this year. You should set some impossible goals for yourself. If you aim low, you never get disappointed. If you aim high and succeed, you think you are the awesomest person in the world. That's gonna be me this year. Just pick one thing. You can do it.
And Santa did appear at our front door. At 5:35 p.m. Something about making sure that everyone had been good this year, that good behaviors lasted until bedtime, taking baths and that bedtime come soon so Santa could finally come down our chimney.
Sure he had forgotten his hat and The Boy noticed something funny about his beard.
E: Mom. What is up with Santa's hair on his face? Why does it look like that?
Um, because it's polyester? Flammable yet very soft?
There were questions about how Santa arrived, where the presents were, why he came early and why couldn't he just drop the presents off now. Little faces pressed up against the window as Mom tried in vain to explain that Santa's sleigh had disappeared in a flash and little voices asked how Santa's sleigh could be so fast and shouldn't we have heard him fly away. Discussions regarding our wood stove insert blocking the chimney.
I feared that perhaps Santa's 90 seconds had been a few too long but The Baby was rushing up the stairs, his fat little legs moving as fast as he could.
Nathan: Baff, Mommy. Baff.
K: Santa told you to get a bath?
Nathan: NOW, MOMMY. NOW. Ho, ho, ho.
Well, alrighty then. I can see now that I was throwing the Santa card/be-on-your-best-behavior/don't-make-me-call-him-because-I-have-his-cell-number on the wrong kid. There's no doubt this little one believes. I fear he has absolutely no idea what he believes in, but if a large man in a red suit shows up in your living room and tells you to get a bath, I guess you had better do it.
Here's to lots more years of rushed baths and hurried bedtime stories before Santa comes. And to all a good night.
We went to see Santa yesterday. I know. On December 21. Like he isn't busy enough already without having to add some last minute work on his plate that is sure to remove any and all hope of sleep for the elves between now and Thursday.
There were 75 people in line in front of us. HEY!!! Our Santa is the REAL Santa and he is worth the wait. In fact, there were intense negotiations this year and our Santa who has been at this location for supposedly 19 years parked his sled elsewhere due to salary issues. Introduce public outcry, petitions and angry phone calls to the mall and our Santa with carefully placed rosacea was back on his throne for the entire term of his reign, to the tune of 30 g's for 6 weeks work.
Don't knock it. Thanks to this Santa, the 9-year-old girl in front of us was in her 5th year at this mall and still believes. Bless her heart. I mean, I believe too, but I'm not in elementary school anymore. The world is a rough place full of disbelief.
The woman behind me was not so cheery. She lamented about being tortured by the commercialization of Christmas and being forced to do all those things she swore she would never do when she became a mother. They were taking the kids to Machu Picchu for vacations, for heaven's sake. If her kids wanted to go to see the mouse in Orlando, they could do so after they turned 18 and moved out of her house. Her husband had dragged her here and she was furious.
Her daughter was 1 1/2 and the cutest thing you have ever seen. Of course she had the typical experience and was frightened beyond belief. Let's be honest here. This year was the first year Ethan didn't cry and look at Santa like he was an alien. Of course this year he had also figured out the drill and was ready with his list ("atwowheeledscooterabirdhouseandarobot,Santa") and didn't waste his time with actually breathing while seated on Santa's lap.
I get what that mom was saying. I just think sometimes we live in a tough world and it's nice to have hope. Even for a little while. It's no Machu Picchu, but it'll do.
Last year Derek hit the sale rack at the hardware store after Christmas. I would normally freak out but he came home with boxes and boxes of Christmas lights for a dollar a piece. That was definitely thinking ahead. Fast forward to a few days ago when we decided to decorate the outside of our house for the holidays for the first time ever. It was nice to have those $7 worth of decorations.
To say that Ethan is in the Christmas spirit would be an understatement. So excited about the lights outside, he was jumping up and down when the last box was opened and he realized there were blue lights to go on a cypress bush.
Hold the phone. Blue lights?
He was delirious. I was devastated. BLUE LIGHTS???? His father came around the corner of the house.
Kristen: You bought blue lights. Blue lights. Blue lights?
Derek: They were a dollar?
Kristen: I don't care if they were free.
Derek: They aren't THAT bad.
Ethan: Mommommommommom. We are going to put the blue lights up now, right?
Derek started to laugh because he knew what would happen. How could I deny this cute face anyway?
If the colored lights made him happy, you should have seen his smile when the blue lights were fired up. And when I hung the red lights in his bedroom? Even better.
Even though he is a first born, I still love him. Check out my interview with Steve from the National Book Festival.
And you can find his DVD here. I'm not saying we are addicted over here. At all.
I'll admit that I am a slacker mom. At least once every other week I get that nice little note from the preschool teacher reminding me yet again that I should be sending a drink AND a washcloth in Nathan's bag. I don't mean to be all non-green but if you end up going to the dollar store and buying an 18-pack of washcloths that you sometimes remember to throw in the wash, it seems like a wet paper towel might not be such a bad alternative.
My latest parental question mark regarding preschool is the fact that the snack calendar gets filled up before I can even add Ethan's name to it. This would be fine if there wasn't a grand ceremony involving snack and the snack giver as supreme distributor of the snack to all his appreciative friends. I already have a kid that wants to serve his friends but now I seem to be thwarted on the official end of giving to friends.
E: Mom.mom.mom.mom.mom. Can I bring snack to school? CanIcanIcanIcanI?
I've been trying to beat the calendar. I hover. Then I am scheduled for pick up instead of drop off and in one morning the calendar is full. I apologize to my disheartened son another month. This month I got clever. I just asked the teacher to add his name before she even posted the calendar and tomorrow is our big day.
Or as Ethan told his teachers on Tuesday, tomorrow's tomorrow. The next big hurdle was getting authorization for making chocolate chip cookies. You know, that whole ban on wheat, dairy, gluten, sugar, nut, egg thing. We got the okay and I promptly forgot about snack until last night at 7:15.
Is there anything more heart-warming as a mom than having your child be insanely excited about making and taking cookies to his friends at school? I just love this kid. I can't help it.
I was gone this weekend but apparently the weekend was not without the drama. Marmie was in town so I guess Nathan decided that he wasn't going to take a nap on Sunday.
Have you ever noticed that it is really impossible to make your toddler take a nap if he thinks he might be missing something interesting? His father said that he left him in there for about an hour and a half.
K: He didn't want to take a nap but you left him in there for an hour and a half?
D: He was really, really tired.
K: What did he do?
D: He trashed the room.
K: What do you mean he trashed the room?
D: He up-ended all his crates of toys in the room.
K: And you left him in there?
D: He was TIRED.
My mom jumped in to say that he really was tired and that he eventually fell asleep if only for a little while. I laughed because I would never have hung in for the whole hour and a half. Especially if he was in a tornado mood. I mean, sometimes you just have to give up as a parent. No, wait. Maybe that's what you aren't supposed to do.
Don't mind me. I'll be upstairs cleaning up his room. The room in which he never napped.
It only took almost four years, but I think we finally have Ethan sleeping through the night. I know. What is wrong with those people that let their kids get up 700 times a night? He really just wants to sleep in between his mom and his dad. In fact, he says, "I just want to sleep in between my mom and my dad."
The trouble is, there is no room in a queen size bed for a grown man, a large pregnant woman and a boy who sleeps all over the place. Frankly, I would just like to not be awakened one or two times every single night. I don't think I have slept through the night in four years. And since sharing the bed with Ethan means Ethan shares MY half of the bed, I had to shut it down.
But what to do? I know people that lock their kids in their room and let them cry it out but my friend still sounds traumatized when she regales me with stories of being locked in her room. She is nearly 40.
We decided to lock our room instead. Wonder of wonders, it worked. After five minutes of hysteria outside our door, Ethan began negotiating.
E: Mom. Dad. If you promise to keep your door open and leave the light on in the bathroom, I'll stay in my bed.
It sounded too good to be true. I have no idea where the light thing came from but whatever. He was off to his room and is going on three weeks of staying in his bed. He does get up occasionally to check that our door is open and if it is not, he opens it.
I failed to do the math that an open door with a bathroom light on would be a bad combination for me.
Growing up, I shared a room with Jen a fair amount of the time. Jen liked to torment with a variety of things. First and foremost, she liked to set the alarm for two hours before she had to get up and then hit snooze every nine minutes until she got up. I, of course, woke up the first time the alarm went off and stayed awake. It made me a bitter girl.
The next big thing was that for my entire life, I have to have complete darkness when I sleep. So my sister would leave our room, go across the hall, turn on the bathroom light and then come back and crack my door. You know that light shined in my face.
Fastforward a few decades later. Wouldn't you know that light from the bathroom SHINES IN MY FACE. My husband just laughed when he realized what was happening. But a deal is a deal is a deal. Every night now I fall asleep to that light shining in my eyes. But I'm not waking up twice a night with my head in the stinky armpit of a three-year-old.
The things we do for our kids.