He crawled into bed with me this morning because he had only seen me for five minutes here and there all weekend.
K: Good morning, Ethan. I missed you. How was your weekend?
Ethan: Great, Mom. Dad bought us crackers with sugar on them.
K: Technically that is high fructose sugar but I saw them. Did you like them?
Ethan: (sighing) It was so great, Mom.
K: I know. What else did you do?
Ethan: Mom. We did what you said when you called. We didn't burn the house or even have to get stitches.
K: That was great, Buddy. Thanks so much for doing that for me. Did you brush your teeth yesterday before you went to bed since you had those crackers?
Ethan: NO, Mom. I don't like to brush my teeth.
Derek does the bath/books/bed every night but the teeth brushing seems to elude him and I don't know why. I mean, every single night as the kids are playing in the bath, he flosses and brushes his teeth while he is in the bathroom with them. How complicated is it to lean over into the tub and scrub, scrub, scrub the teeth that they have? If you are brushing your own teeth, why not the teeth of the three children less than three feet away from you? I don't even expect you to use a different tooth brush.
I was fascinated when I saw Kate Gosselin in her kitchen with the 8 tooth brushes lined up on the counter (and don't try to tell me you never watched the show). She made some remark about how she knew people were going to mock her for brushing her children's teeth but at least she knew her kids had clean teeth. Personally I chose to mock her for using 8 different tooth brushes (you could probably get away with 3 or 4 and just throw them out every 6 weeks) and for brushing the teeth in the kitchen. There are a lot of things I will do in my kitchen but brushing my teeth or the teeth of the ones I love is not on that list.
Fast forward to the Highly Public Dental Checkup and Cleaning Episode and hygienist after hygienist "oooh"-ing and "aaah"-ing over the excellent condition of every child's mouth. Looks like you had the last laugh, Kate. Well played.
So now, I too brush my children's teeth. At night I trudge up the stairs and load up tooth brush after tooth brush with toothpaste. I lean past my husband and brush, brush, brush. But what about the spitting, you ask? Let's be honest. Two out of three children swallow the toothpaste so there are no worries there. Third? Here's my hand. Nasty, yes. Effective, yes. No toothpaste on the pajamas after, YES!!! When I am away? Crusty teeth. But back to the conversation.
K: Ethan, if you don't brush your teeth, you will get cavities.
Ethan: I know, Mom. But it's okay. I have TWO sets of teeth. These ones with cavities will just fall out and then I can get new ones. And if you get cavities, you just go to the dentist and get them fixed anyway.
I blame DORA, who in her infinite childish wisdom in attempting to keep kids from fearing the dentist in her going to the dentist book, successfully convinced children everywhere that getting cavities is FUN and when you get one fixed, you get a sticker. It's not the first time Dora has annoyed me and it won't be the last.
K: Ethan, if you don't learn to take care of your teeth now, your second set of teeth might fall out too and there are no more teeth after that.
Ethan: How about fake teeth? Wait. If my teeth fall out, then I can get FAKE TEETH??? I can get fake teeth. I CAN'T BELIEVE I CAN GET FAKE TEETH!!!
Along the way, something just got lost in the conversation and there was no way to get it back. I guess brushing your teeth is just something you have to do because the consequences angle is clearly missed by some kids. Or maybe it's just mine?
My children love music. When Ethan was born, I used to play Vanessa Carlton's White Houses in the car to calm him down when he would start to cry. I would sing it at the top of my lungs. He would instantly grow quiet. Maybe he was scared silent. I don't know. If it makes you feel better, I would sing quieter when I got to the part of the song where she lost her virtue. In my defense, it was the first song on the CD and I'm a lazy woman.
With Nate, it was the ABC/Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star combo. I didn't even know they were the exact same tune until I was 30 (I'm quick). When Nate was only three weeks old we discovered he was singing along. You say that and people look at you like you are crazy. My mother looked at me like I was crazy when I told her and she's normally on her grandchildren's side when it comes to important things like this. I didn't care because I had proof. We got into the car to go to the doctor's office and I began to sing the ABC song. I stopped mid song and there, in the backseat, Nate made grunting sounds to finish out the line. My mother sat in the front seat of the car and stared at him in disbelief. It was crazy and awesome.
Now there is Mason. It only took me a year to realize he sings along to everything. He sings along to the songs on the radio in the car, when I play music in the house and today I realized he was singing himself to sleep when there was no music. He dances all the time. And not surprisingly, he is a fan of Mr. Steve. Then again, aren't we all? I think with a family full of Mr. Steve love, we'll take advantage of his visit to our area this summer.
So it's really horrible that now I have to confess that I am terrible at cultivating this enjoyment by my children. It has only been in the last few months that I have the radio playing in the kitchen in the morning. The second I turn it on to my Mom Rock, the kids all come and dance with me. The kids were in preschool last fall but now they aren't. Gone is weekly music and movement class and the kid songs with hand motions that build small motor skills. I know there is a reason for the Itsy, Bitsy Spider, but I don't know what it is.
I need to find a way to cultivate this love of music. I mean, I could have my very own brother boy band on my hands. Wait, that isn't necessarily a good thing....
He walked past me with green sprinkles mashed to the sides of his mouth.
Ethan: Hi, Mom.
K: What's going on?
Ethan: Well, I was playing my game a few minutes ago.
K: Uh, huh. I have a question for you.
Ethan: Okay, Mom. What's your question?
K: Did you get into your brother's birthday cake?
K: Did you eat the cake? I told you we are going to eat it in an hour.
Ethan: Nate got into it.
I walked over to find no less than 4 finger holes in my buttercream frosting. The boys had decorated Mason's birthday cake with blueberries (Mason's favorite) and green sparkles. I decided to save the big fish for later and to start with the fish in the barrel. I yelled to Nate.
K: Did you get into this CAKE, NATE?!?!?!
Nate: Mom, you said 'no cake."
K: I KNOW. That's why I asked if you got into it. It has these holes in the frosting.
Nate: I don't know.
K: What do you mean, "I don't know?"
K: Let me smell your breath.
Nathan opened his mouth and sucked in in a manner that would have made every underage drinker proud who has ever gotten caught by a parent. And like I imagine every parent checking their errant child's breath for proof, intake of air makes no difference. I could smell the organic evaporated cane sugar on his breath.
Nathan: (laughing) I'm sorry, MOM.
I turned back to Ethan.
K: Did you get in the cake?
K: Eat. Let's just cut to the chase. You have green sprinkles on your face. I know you got in the cake.
Ethan: Mom. Nathan MADE me do it.
Ethan: HE made me.
K: Eat, how did he manage to make you get into the cake that is sitting over there in the middle of the table, away from everything.
Ethan: I was over there and I had my finger just like this (pointing) and then he pushed my finger in the cake. So then I had to eat it because I had frosting on my finger.
K: Normally I would be asking WHY you were up on the table, pointing at the cake so close that your brother was able to shove your finger in but I'm not going to do it.
Ethan: Really, Mom. It was like this (making pointing and poking motions in the air animatedly).
I sent them both to timeout and then made them hide their wicked ways with strategically placed blueberries.
After dinner when Derek was in the kitchen doing dishes, I found Nate perched on a chair with his head completely in the mixing bowl, licking buttercream off the side of the bowl. Derek and Nathan were standing so close together, they could have touched. I looked in complete disbelief.
D: I told him to ask your permission. He didn't?
K: He needed to ask my permission to stick his head in a bowl to eat a cup of sugar, a pound of butter and egg whites? Seriously?
D: So he didn't ask...
K: No. No, he didn't ask.
D: So I should stop him?
K: I don't think we could.
Nate's head popped out of the bowl and he grinned at me.
Happy Birthday, Mason. I'm so glad we have nearly 11 more months before we are making a cake with frosting again for any birthdays.
"Oh, look," she said, pointing to his bare feet. "That's how you know spring is coming. I can't wait until I'm not adjusting the car seats every single day from Jacket Straps to No Jacket Straps to Jacket Straps again." I gave my half-smile to the Good Mom Clerk at the supermarket and hurried away as quickly as possible.
The best thing about spring is that I am less inclined to receive the frightened looks from parents, grandparents, non-parents or pretty much anyone because The Baby never wears shoes.
This is the time of the year when we make those fatal errors associating sunlight with warmth. Just the other day I took the boys out for a walk and because the sun was out for the first time in seemingly weeks, I just handed them thin jackets. We were gone all of ten minutes when that fickle sun disappeared behind what appeared to be not just a cloud but an entire army of clouds as far as the eye could see.
Nate was cold. Nate is ALWAYS cold. Nate is also stubborn. He only wants to wear THIS jacket. "But you'll be cold," is my familiar (and somewhat useless) refrain. Sure I am the mom and sure I should just make him wear a heavy coat but I don't (cue the "then it's YOUR fault"). This time it was my fault. Just because the sun is out and the snow is finally melting does not mean that it is warm. Sure it is 50 degrees but 50 degrees is no 70 degrees.
It is moments like this that I often run into my older, responsible neighbor as I am on my way across the house carrying the baby who is wearing a onesie and a pair of sweats. My responsible neighbor is wearing a snorkel parka, a wool hat and I'm pretty sure her face is hidden back there behind that incredibly long scarf wrapped repeatedly around her head.
She didn't gasp but she did pull her coat closer to her chest. I didn't even remember the baby was wearing practically nothing because I had him strapped to my back. We were crossing the street. He'll be FINE.
"He is SO cute. Look at him."
The only part I can see of him when he is back there is his feet. His little bare feet. His feet that have no socks or shoes protecting him from this 50 degree weather. I stammered my excuse and The Baby started heckling her. I like to think it was because he wanted her to know he didn't want shoes but it was probably because she hadn't spoken directly to him yet.
I started with my long-winded explanation of how he rubs his feet together to get socks off but she doesn't seem to care. We comment about how lovely it is that spring is finally coming and isn't it great to see the sun again. I'm started to get a little cold because I was only planning on this being a 30 second run across the street and I begin to look longingly at her winter coat. My children run past me with red cheeks.
I tell myself yet again. "Just because the sun is out does NOT mean it is warm."
But spring is coming. And when winter goes, I'm hoping the chilly "you're a bad mother" looks go with them. We'll see.
The Olympics makes me crazy. Exactly how many winter sports exceed speeds of 75 miles an hour? I'm sure Cousin Ellen could tell me but I'm loathe to ask.
The Olympics makes me crazy because it opens my children's eyes to an entire new world of dangerous sports. Someone recorded a few nights of coverage and the boys began to watch them the way they obsess about a favorite cartoon. There was a ridiculous amount of half pipe snowboarding. At one point on Twitter I openly wondered if a practice foam half pipe was cheaper that a couple of college educations.
There were all manner of questions about the luge and then questions about the horrific crash of Nodar Kumaritashvili (thanks for no warning on that one, NBC and then for replaying it excessively and unexpectedly before children's bed times). You can only change the channel so many times before you just call it a day and send the kids to bed early.
Bobsledding was perhaps the trickiest.
Ethan: Mom (pointing to the bobsledding icon on the television). Is that bumper cars for snow?
K: Nope. It's called bobsledding.
K: A little bit like your sled except they go really, really fast.
Ethan: How fast?
K; 100 miles an hour. Faster than most cars.
He did a triple take. Literally. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen. The light bulb went on and he began to plot his own personal bobsledding adventures. For years I have had a dream to put a water slide in the ravine by my house but with all this snow, the kids instantly thought a bobsledding track would be a good idea. Luckily we sent them to bed before the succession of bobsleds flipped over and only the parents had to look on in horror as the helmeted heads bounced against the ice.
With that we move on to hockey and the kids crept down the stairs to watch from behind the wall, hoping we didn't notice. We busted them and they begged for hockey to be recorded. Then it's curling. Derek starts to explain curling to them in their hiding place and we all laugh because he doesn't know what he is talking about and clearly he never read wikipedia. He claims to have watched curling 20 years ago but I don't believe it. I tell the boys that they can take up curling ANY day. Oops, hockey is back up and there are long discussions about high sticks and fights.
We haven't slept in over two weeks and the only thing saving me is that we live in the mid-Atlantic and despite the winter of lots of snow, it will all be gone in a couple of days. Like the ending of the Winter Olympics, the dreams of traveling 100 miles an hour will be a distant memory. Or so a mom can hope.