Yesterday we went pumpkin picking. OK, so we are a little late but it is still five days until Halloween.
Everyone else in the family got a boring ol' orange pumpkin. I waited patiently while Ethan searched for his perfect pumpkin.
This was his pumpkin.
Another little boy in the patch mocked his choice. He said that everyone KNOWS you are supposed to pick the pumpkin just like all the rest of the pumpkins. Ethan didn't care. At the end of the day, he has his very own all-original pumpkin. For all my tough days with this child of mine, I find it refreshing that he has thoughts of his very own. That he does not fear being different yet. That he can actually think for himself. That he knows what he wants. That he happily carried his weird pumpkin right out of that patch. That I felt pride in my son for making his own choices, not parroting mine. I imagine it's only a short time before he falls victim to feeling the need to be like everyone else and pick the pumpkin that everyone else tells him is the pumpkin he should choose.
I wish I could keep this pumpkin and this boy just like this forever.
Have you met me or my sisters? I don't think anyone needs to worry about us drinking the Kool-Aid over here and sounding like an infomercial.
Or so I thought.
My life is a PBS commercial and I would love to blame my children but it's my own fault. I opened up my children to Sid the Science Kid. Heaven help me. That show is killing me. KILLING ME.
K: Ethan. Why are all six of these bananas cut into little pieces?
E: Mom.mom.mom.mom. You have to cut the banana in pieces for the ice pops.
K: WHAT??? What ice pops?
E: Mom. You need bananas for the ice pops like the ones Sid made. We just need juice. OK, let me tell you the other ingredients.
K: Ethan. It is 7:00 a.m. We don't have any juice. And now we have 6 cut up bananas. Would you like bananas for breakfast?
First it was applesauce. Now it's ice pops. I'm sure the Sid people would like their show to be watched for the science-type things but it's feeling a little like Food Network for Preschoolers.
The next day I heard my husband in the kitchen grilling Ethan about cut up bananas. Again. He did it again. Let's ignore the fact that that a three-year-old was brandishing a knife. I'm sure he was very careful. But I had some plans for those bananas. Not to be confused with the plans I had for the bananas from two days ago.
Today? Someone found a magnifying glass and a baseball hat with a school bus on it. Ethan and Nathan began "investigating" things. It would have been fine except there was only ONE magnifying glass and what the heck was the purpose of the yellow school bus hat? They investigated (and fought over the hat) for two hours. It was only a matter of time before they remembered the ice pops. Forget that it was 50 degrees outside.
Don't get me wrong. It beats them pretending to chase purple unicorns or "catch stars." It's just that this show appears to require slightly more parental interaction than I intended. Or would that be parental intervention?
Today I went to a birthday party for Ethan's best friend Harrison. It was a soccer party at a sports complex complete with a sixteen-year-old referee named Marshall and red punch and pizza. I dragged my husband along and he stood in the middle of the indoor field with Ethan while Ethan cried about trying to kick the ball but missing. It was awesome.
I got lucky. 20-month-old Nathan was invited to come but the rules of the complex said he couldn't play. There were lots of halls to run down so it wasn't like he would be forced to watch while strapped into a stroller or something. Luckily Marshall didn't seem overly concerned about either his job security or legal ramifications because he let the baby play on the field. Me? I sat on the sidelines on the ground with the rest of the parents and gossiped about absolutely nothing interesting. In the party department, I was lucky.
Just a few days ago my friend Devan was telling me she had to take her daughter to a birthday party. Her daughter is four, so I guess that technically she is supposed to stay with her during the party. But siblings aren't necessarily invited and her husband will be working. Actually, Devan hadn't even contemplated if the two-year-old was invited to the party too. Devan said that if the younger one couldn't stay, she would just leave with her.
I could tell that Devan was new to this whole thing. Clearly she hadn't heard the stories of a birthday boy's mother chasing another mother out to the car to tell her she couldn't leave her four-year-old but could she keep the two-year-old in the dining room away from the party? Or the mom who walked into the party with her baby only to find that all the other parents had hired babysitters for their extraneous children.
At Harrison's party, it was clear that siblings were invited. In Devan's case, it's not very clear. No one wants to be the person going against whatever is intended, but it seems like the lines have gotten fuzzy and there is no rulebook. Parties these days can cost a lot of money and sometimes a parent doesn't want to foot the bill for every family of four. And if you fall into that trap of inviting the whole preschool class of fourteen, now you are talking a very big party. But your child is only four. And isn't it just a party? What's your party policy at your house? Or even better, what's your party horror story?
It has come to my attention recently that perhaps I allow my children to engage in endeavors that may be construed to some as "slightly" or even "egregiously dangerous." I know that boys will be boys but my father-in-law did bring to my attention that the dimple on my son's cheek was most likely caused by his jump from the top of the futon onto the floor by way of the edge of the speaker.
I maintain that he was born with that dimple but that it got lost somewhere along the way and has recently decided to turn up again. OK, maybe not. I mean, he did have that bruise on his cheek for two whole weeks and when it went away, there was still that mark on his face. What can I say? I tell them not to jump from the furniture but every once in a while someone initiates some game while I have to get all crazy and take a bathroom break. I can honestly say that before kids, I never realized how much could go on in two minutes. These kids can toss a room, release huge bottles of paint back into the wild, cut expensive throw rugs in half with craft scissors or color in Sharpie on the computer monitor. You think I would learn and just stop going to the bathroom when I am left unattended in my home with my children.
Then there was that time when we had to take The Boy to the hospital for stitches on his face. I feared for his fear and pain but the thought never crossed my mind that he would be "scarred for life." Hmm.
I have to ask. Would I act differently if I had girls? All of you out there, let me have it.
Wow, Kristen. You are a fun mom, taking your kids to all of these fall festivals.
Nah, I have been working the fall festivals. My family drops me (along with around twelve crates of tees) off on a local main street somewhere at 7:00 a.m. and then they come back for me at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. What goes on between those hours between my three men is only relayed to me in unintended code spoken by three-year-old's, 20-month-old's and probably intentional codes by fathers who know better.
I was virtually dead on my feet yesterday when they showed up early to check out the festival before it was time to help me pack up. I was on day FOURTEEN of my sinus infection and feeling not so great (and I have yet to meet that new SUPERSISTER niece of mine). I had started out my day throwing up and I was ready to go home and put my feet up.
It turns out my children's day involved splitting wood and axes and I don't know what else. I know better than to ask. Either way, it didn't matter by the time they showed up because it appeared that their last 20 minutes had been busy. The boys were dragging along all manner of swag found at fall festivals. Ice scrapers emblazoned with real estate agent's info, wooden rulers from painting companies, balloon animals, some snappy balloon thing that is really a weapon and the biggest bag of kettle corn you have ever seen. Apparently the trek from the truck was a long one.
My husband was clearly trying to get on my good side to show up with that bag of popcorn. To say I love kettle corn would be a slight understatement. It only took a few minutes for the boys to find the twist tie at the top of the bag. Minutes later they had fistfuls of popcorn and they were shoving it into their little mouths as fast as possible. The twist tie mysteriously disappeared and then Ethan was swinging the bag over his head. His brother started running around him, trying to grab the bag. I did what every good mother does.
I yelled at them to stop. They ignored me. And then the top of the bag started to open a little. Popcorn started flying out of the top of the bag. This was awesome for The Baby because he was trying to get popcorn. He bent down and started eating the popcorn off the sidewalk. I hesitated for a second. Five second rule? Ten second rule? He seemed happy. I like it when he is happy.
Except I didn't realize that the popcorn had landed in a large pile of cigarette butts outside of this office door. I had to drag him away screaming. His older brother started to dutifully pick up the popcorn and put it back in the bag. We don't litter. Now I'm trying to keep The Baby from eating cigarette butts and keep The Boy from putting grossified popcorn and butts back in the bag.
No popcorn for me yesterday. What are you gonna do? A mom has to have her limits, right?
It's my favorite time of year. The air is getting crisp(er), the leaves are starting to change and the humidity seems to finally be gone. Having spent the better number of my years in a climate void of autumn, I find myself going a little overboard. Maybe everyone in the family isn't interested in taking that 3 hour drive to see the fall foliage, but no one will be complaining when we finally get there. Here are some other ideas for fall fun.
So what do you do to get into the autumn feeling?
The phenomenon is being seen across the board with all my friends with preschoolers. Maybe it's just developmentally appropriate or maybe I have a right to blame Word World. My life has become a spelling bee. All day long I am forced to spell. It was starting to get out of hand with words like "firefighter" and "sidewalk" so I had to utilize that age old trick of redirection.
Kristen: How about "dog?" Duh O Gug.
Or something like that.
Ethan: D. O. G.
Ethan: How about cow?
Kristen: Cuh O wah.
I think I could have done better than that. Especially for a Hooked on Phonics graduate (hello, decade of the 70s).
Kristen: Well, no. Actually it's C.
Ethan: But MOM. It sounds like your letter.
Kristen: I know. It's complicated.
Two minutes later we were at it with "cat."
Ethan: K. A. T.
Kristen: Actually it's C.
Ethan: BUT MOM! Mom. Mom.
Kristen: New policy. Just defer to C.
Ethan: But YOUR name starts with a K.
Kristen: My name is like one of the only names that start with K.
My husband looked at me.
Kristen: I mean, other than kite, kangaroo and kitchen.
My husband continued to look at me.
Kristen: Just guess C. I promise you'll do better.
Isn't this the computer generation anyway? Spell check will be messing up his "there" and "their" options before long. I would just like a good solid non-kat every once in a while.
Yesterday we happened upon the open house at our local volunteer fire house. It's interesting how the words "Open House" coupled with "Free Ice Cream" will just direct your car into the parking lot to a destination not on your list of things to do for the day. Not that we aren't big fans of all things related to
fires firefighting, but I was in a rush to get home to get stuff done.
This post was supposed to be about how great it is to be part of a community that is so incredibly giving and caring. The firefighters even got out the hose and let the kids hose down some bottles. I don't know how else Derek would have figured out how to get his hands on the fire hose if he didn't have The Baby as an excuse. It's not like a toddler can hold a fire hose all by himself.
No, this post is not about being a part of a community. It's now about that little girl in line in front of us for the free face painting. You know that little child. The one who is always providing the unsolicited advice. I have one of those children too, so normally it doesn't bother me. But it did this time.
Ethan was looking over all his options for face painting. This woman could paint anything. There must have been a hundred different options (to include one of my favorites--car tracks. Doesn't every kid want tread marks across his face for fun?). As he discussed his options with me, he happened up the rainbow with "Theresa" emblazoned across it.
Ethan: Mom. I think I want THIS one.
Kristen: Um, okay.
Little Girl: He can't have THAT. That's for girls.
I decided to remain aloof, non-confrontational and non-defensive. Borderline disinterested. This election season has made me a MASTER of this technique.
Kristen: You think so? (to the little girl) I don't think it's just for girls.
Little Girl's Mom: It's not just for girls. It's not like it's pink.
Hmm. It's not like it's pink. I'm guessing she is the same mom who apologizes for her daughter's choice in clothing for the morning. For all you parents out there, we KNOW when a child has dressed herself. Trust me. We don't think you picked those gingham checked pants to go with that flower top. It's okay. I think it's cool. I love me some purple patent leather pumps with a pink and yellow outfit. The kids are only young for such a short time. Kids are kids. They like what they like. It's not like I'm letting Ethan wear a tiara and leg warmers to the third grade. He's 3.
I looked down at Ethan. He was looking up at me. Expecting something. I don't know what.
Kristen: You know what, Buddy? That isn't just for girls. You can have ANYTHING you want. It's about what YOU like.
He turned to me with a smile and said, "Then I want THIS," pointing to a picture of a girl with a Goth face. Completely white. With black daggers coming out of her eyes. I took a breath and before I could stop myself, it was there.
Kristen: You can have anything you want. Except that. Mom changed her mind.
Five minutes later, I had myself the cutest little spider man you have ever seen. I could have tolerated the pink and purple unicorn. But I'll admit I'm a little glad it didn't go down that way.
My friend Marelle has one of those precocious children. She was practically talking when she came out of the womb, and frankly, hasn't stopped since. A wise first grader now, I remember calling the house when she was just three and she would answer the phone.
We would have long conversations in which she would describe her day or one of her pieces of artwork. After a while, I would ask to talk to her mother. Faith would yell, "GOODBYE" and hang up quickly. Every single time. I don't think I talked to Marelle for three months. When I finally did, the truth came out. Faith wasn't ALLOWED to answer the phone. She wasn't allowed to answer the phone because 1) her mother was making an attempt to never talk to anyone on the phone and 2) Faith never actually told her mother that anyone had called.
I thought it was the most hilarious thing ever. Until The Boy discovered the phone this week. Ever since I have gotten pregnant, I have been feeling less-than-stellar. There is very little mercy in the world for the nauseous woman who never vomits. So when I'm not in the basement trying to get some order out, I have spent the better part of the last three months on the couch. I lost all four of the cordless phones but I occasionally know where my cell is. The home phone in the kitchen continues to ring. Hopes of sleeping though it are now a distant memory.
Ethan: Hello. (pause) Who's this? (pause) Hi, Wendy. (pause) She's upstairs sleeping. (pause) I'm watching my show. (pause) No, I can't wake her. She's SLEEPING. (pause) Nate's sleeping too. (pause) I'm being good. (pause) OK, bye.
Sometimes I'm asleep on the couch and I just can't get to the phone. I beg him not to answer. He ignores me. The conversation is normally about the same, with the variation of "she's sleeping on the couch" or "she's watching her show." Sometimes it's the Cake Lady, calling from the grocery store because she realizes I haven't gone in four months and my family can't live on rice forever. He shouts out questions about grocery shopping that are clearly being fed to him. There will be dinner tonight. I feel the guilt that comes with having been caught trying to not answer a phone and having the person on the other end trying to serve me. It's just that once your three-year-old has disclosed all the current events in the house, it's frowned upon to just blow off the yet-to-be-identified caller who now knows everything.
I'd try unplugging the phone, but I'm actually on the mend. When you call today, I promise to answer.