Something happened along the way and now I'm stuck in this crazy place. Three times in a row I promised my kids dessert if they ate all their dinner. Now they are saying crazy things like "can I have a popsicle?" After breakfast.
Um, no. You can't have a popsicle after breakfast. I realize it is summer but a mom has to have her limits. And a chocolate marshmallow ice cream in a waffle cone? Definitely not. Ok, maybe this once.
You are a slacker mom during the summer too, right?
You're eight years old today, and I have to say, being your mom over the last year has been one of the most delightful and hilarious experiences of my life. You discovered your sense of humor in a whole new way this year and entertained me for hours with some of the worst jokes I have ever, ever heard.
You faced some of your really big fears (riding a bike, learning how to swim, having a mom who travels) and you came out on the other side more sure of yourself, more confident and capable than I first imagined could be possible.
You also made big strides in sharing your emotions, solving problems, becoming more social and engaged with the people around you. There are at least ten people in your life who waited five years for you to talk to them, and still can't get over how happy they feel when you call them by name! You're a regular chatterbox.
Your sense of yourself and the world is truly remarkable to me. I love your openness, your honesty, your love of potty talk and inappropriate "boy" humor. You know how to be fair and how to be a friend, and you don't hide your feelings. For all these things and more, I am so delighted to have the privilege of watching you develop and grow.
Here's to more mother/son dates, bike rides, silly late night conversation and our shared love of cereal! I love you, buddy!
The weather has been a little crazy lately. We have had so much rain that when I hear Mr. Steve, one of my all-time-favorite people in the whole world, singing the Rain song, I contemplate throwing something at the television.
The kids have been cooped up inside too much. I know that we have reached this point when I walk into the living room and find the two of them on top of the armoire. The scary thing is that the box that was on top before was on the ground and I never heard it hit the ground. It's really heavy. I'm fairly certain they couldn't lower it to the ground themselves. I wish I had one of those motion sensors that would go off when the kids go higher than 3 feet in any given room.
This time I was feeding the baby in the family room and they were playing with cars on a track in the living room. In the old days (read three months ago), I always knew someone was getting into trouble by the silence. Now I have to pay attention because the safety in their talking is no longer effective.
They were having this long conversation about playing mom and dad and who was going to be forced to be "MOM" while the other person got the awesome role of dad. They were having the conversation as they were climbing. I happened to walk by as they were deep in discussion above my eye level. When they realized they were busted, the both began apologizing profusely. I just wanted them to get down and not get back up. I guess we'll have to add the living room furniture to the pile of chairs we recently moved to the basement. It's only a matter of time before they are giving each other a leg up.
Sun, please stay out so we can play in the much safer yard filled with ticks and mosquitoes.
I live in this fantasy world that the reason my children are so poorly behaved in public is because we are "old" parents. I tell myself and everyone else that will possibly listen that I'm sure I would be more strict if I had had kids in my 20's. I wouldn't be so tired. I wouldn't be so cranky. I would have more patience.
Guess what? Here it is. The honest to goodness truth. I imagine that I probably would have allowed my children to continuously throw each other over the side of the booth if I had them ten years ago.
Derek and I sat across from them on the 80 minute ferry ride. They did the best they could. We let them run around and around and around and around. Then we gave up because they have more energy in one pinky than we have in our entire bodies. So we sat inside at one of these booths and we watched in horror as they took turns shoving each other over the side of the booth. I looked around and no one in the Saturday crowd was even paying the slightest bit attention.
I was all geared up for my false apology for the behavior of my kids. My kids who were having the time of their lives. My kids who were doing no harm to anyone or anything.
And I just let them do it.
The kid only wants to eat junk. As a junk-food-junkie myself, I get it. As a mother, I just want to shove broccoli down his throat.
Ethan: I'd like marshmallows for dinner.
Nathan: Me want 'em too.
K: I don't think so.
Ethan: I think that is a GREAT dinner, Mom.
K: I don't think so. There is no nutritional value in marshmallows.
Ethan: But they are SO good.
Nathan: Good, Mama.
Ten minutes later I caught him sneaking into the marshmallows. He and his brother had at least three a piece before I found them. I got mad. Really mad. I threw them in the trash and put them in time out.
Time out being a time-honored tradition of useless discipline. Or maybe I'm doing it wrong.
While they were in time out, I dug the marshmallows out of the trash. I squirted a little Dawn Dishwashing Detergent in the bag and threw it back in the trash. I covered them up with more trash. Sure enough, three hours later I heard a hacking in the kitchen.
K: What's wrong?
Ethan: These marshmallows taste TERRIBLE.
K: Did you take them out of the trash?
Ethan: Um, yes?
K: You dug them out of the trash. You ate garbage.
Ethan: I didn't eat garbage. I ate marshmallows.
K: They were in the garbage.
Ethan: Why would anyone throw good marshmallows in the garbage?
K: Because people were TAKING them when they weren't allowed.
Ethan: They tasted horrible like soap.
K: How do you know they tasted like soap?
Ethan: MOM. I know what SOAP tastes like.
I don't know what disturbs me more. That fact that he ate marshmallows out of the trash or the fact that he correctly identified the soap taste in his mouth. Either way, here's hoping he won't dig food out of the trash again.
Why does a stop sign mean stop?
When I get old, how will I know how to drive?
What happens if I am driving and then I am on the sidewalk?
What's a "driver's manual?"
Why do you need a driver's book if everyone knows that a red light means stop? That's silly.
What are those shiny things on the mailbox?
If the water makes things go away, why do the lights stay?
What makes the lightning?
Why are you in this lane?
What is that restaurant?
Why do you call it a "fern bar?"
Is that a tweet, mom?
Why are there hospitals in the sky?
Why do these mailboxes glow in the dark?
Why doesn't our mailbox glow in the dark?
Why don't we have reflectors on our mailbox?
Why don't we have glowing mailboxes on our street?
Why don't our neighbors run over our mailbox if we don't have reflectors?
Am I doing too many tweets?
Where is that BINKY of Mason's?
Why does it say "no P?"
This is roughly 1/3 of the questions he asked on the 12 minute ride home. I don't think he even breathed between questions. You know what would be an awesome post? If I put the answers that I was thinking IN MY HEAD right in this post. However, this is a PG site and not a rated R site. At one point, we just started to laugh and couldn't stop because he didn't even wait for my answers before he started another question. No wonder I have lost my mind. This four-year-old never stops. This four-year-old is crazy. And it's making me crazy.
What kind of questions are your kids asking you? Do you remember when you used to drive in your car and have silence, because I don't even remember those days.
That's what you were thinking when you looked at this picture, right? I'll admit I was sort of thinking it too when it was happening. The only thing is, I couldn't really see how this kind of activity could make you end up in the emergency room. I guess falling short and putting a tooth through your cheek? Maybe? I didn't think about that then.
I suppose I should have a predisposition against this kind of activity since I had that incident when I was about 11 or 12 and the middle table between the beds jumped out at me while I was sleeping and left me with a gash which gives my nose the character it has. However, I was asleep and that was before the big litigation boom in the early '90's. My mother says now that we should have made them fix my nose but I kind of like it. I can say I got in a big fight and that's how it happened if I want to sound tough. But back to the bed jumping.
I wish I had a picture of Nate doing it. The "trainwreck," as I am now referring to him, could do it too. I'll admit I was shocked. That's quite a distance for his fat little two-year-old legs.
Part of me knew I was supposed to give them the speech about respecting furniture (especially furniture that is not ours) but the other part of me thought, "this is a one-night vacation, pared down from a week because that's all we can do these days. Jump away."
And so they did. Sometimes you just ditch the propriety in hopes of one day hearing, "and my mom and dad used to let us JUMP ON THE BEDS WHEN WE STAYED AT A HOTEL. THEY WERE SO COOL." It's a shot.
This life I am living is not familiar to me.
Growing up there were the four girls. When we fought, we yelled. Rumor on the street was that the two youngest may have actually exchanged blows but I can't believe that. We just yelled. And sulked. I did a LOT of sulking in my time.
Now I have three boys. Grant it, the baby isn't really doing anything just yet, but those older boys? They know how to rumble. The best part is that they aren't fighting. They are playing. It started last week when Derek mentioned to me that the boys were getting rougher and rougher. I was all "whatever" because I barely know my name these days let alone what craziness is going on around me.
Until today. Today the boys were climbing all over me when I was trying to nurse Mason. Mason doesn't seem to care that there are four people attempting to occupy the same space at the same time, but I have had all I can take of everyone on top of me. We need no distractions around here.
K: Why don't you boys wrestle?
Ethan: Okay, Mom. Nate, let's wrestle.
Nate proceeds to go over and lie down in the middle of the floor. Hello, submissive.
But two seconds later there is a rumble across my living room floor. It is all arms and all legs. I sat there in complete disbelief. Somehow we had crossed a line from a toddler and preschooler doing a little shoving to all out wrestling moves. I actually watched Nate drop his center of gravity and charge Ethan at his waist, sending him flying.
If there had been a fly in the room, he would have had complete access to the inside of my mouth. This went on for five minutes and they were laughing hysterically. I was wondering who was going to end up in the emergency room. In the end, no one got hurt and they just moved on to some other form of mischief.
I know I am supposed to encourage them to get their energy out and this turned out to be a relatively harmless activity, but I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown with all the body slamming. This isn't exactly how I envisioned raising boys. Am I the only one who is surprised by this motherhood thing?
I'm not sure if this is a defense move, but I like to call it Mason's Karate Kid pose. I notice he does it when Nathan comes in the room.
He has spent this weekend with his father and his brothers, just spending time with the boys while Mom is off at work. Derek told me that in the car today, Ethan kept laughing in the back seat. When Derek asked him why he was laughing, Ethan told him that every he laughed, Mason would smile. Mason's smile would then make Ethan laugh harder.
Derek described his boys as "delightful" today. The older tried to help the younger and the youngest was just happy to be with his brothers. It's days like this that make you think that you just might survive and the kids might turn out alright. I think these are the days that make motherhood seem a whole lot less tedious and a lot more joyful. But maybe that's just me.
Deciding to do something he's always wanted to do all by himself. That's it. And this spring that thing--at least for Carter--is learning how to ride a bike.
Now, I know many of you sisters out there have kids who've been bike riding since they were four. And there are some of you out there (cough cough Kristen) who have two year olds who can bike that trike forwards and backwards, downstairs and across the yard in the blink of an eye. But I swear all of your early bird bike riders have nothing on the bliss of a very scared seven year old who finally decided he had the courage to try to learn to ride his bike, practically by himself, one bright Saturday morning.
For the last couple years Carter has been happy to stand on the sidelines while the neighborhood kids tackled various childhood tasks with happiness and abandon. All the coaxing in the world couldn't convince Carter it was worth the risk to try anything new--an after school club, a green bean, a swimming class. And don't even think about insisting or laying down the law. If there was ever a kid to come completely unglued in the face of parental pressure, it's Carter.
But almost overnight it seemed, something changed. Maybe it was being seven and a half--those half year marks always seem to note big changes in both my kids--but Carter started talking about being sad that he was always missing out. He wanted to do stuff. He didn't want to be afraid anymore.
I spent more than a few crazy nights with Carter on my little kid-sized therapy couch, trying to help him get his confidence up, listening for signs that he was ready to take the leap.
Then one night at bedtime he announced he had two goals. One, learn how to ride his bike. And two, learn how to swim. After a few tentative tries, he was figuring out how to balance. Within a week he was flying across the parking lot. I've never seen him happier. Now with this new skill under his belt, he's warming up to what it will take to learn how to swim--actual swim lessons--though he reports the thought is still horrifying.
I'm still not sure if I did the right thing to let Carter decide it was time--at almost eight--to learn how to ride his bike, but this one thing is certain: there's a particular happiness that comes with deciding it's time to do something on your own, without any pressure, without anyone else deciding how you should learn and when. Carter may be a little bit late to the bike riding scene, at least for this neighborhood, but his joy in choosing his own timing is all his own and something about that is making us both very, very happy.
Read more about what to expect from your seven year old.