Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wuhms

I taught my oldest to kill his own bugs last night. 

This is one of those mommy conundrums…teaching your kid things you’re both proud of and horrified at.  Like killing a living creature.

Proud, because he usually freaks out when there’s a bug and I have to high tail it from wherever I happen to be to “get it.” 

Horrified, because, well, it’s a living thing and deserves to live and all that. 

Truth be told, I’m not generally a bug freer.  If you’re in my house and I catch you, you’re bug guts in a tissue.  Happy trails down the toilet.

But, in teaching my children to respect life and respect the earth and all creatures are God’s creatures, I have tried to curtail my compulsions to destroy. all. bugs.  Besides, maybe I’ll decide I like to free them back into the wild. 

Probably not.  Ladybugs, maybe.  Silverfish and spiders and ants – die, suckahs!

We’re on our way to dinner last night when my daughter notices a package on the front stoop of our house.  Which never ceases to be a big deal or a majorly exciting event.  For me, or my children.  Who doesn’t love getting packages?

Little Meems being the one to spot said package, she got the honors of retrieving it and bringing it to the car for us to gleefully open.  It was an order of shirts I’d been waiting for, which wasn’t super exciting for the kids because it wasn’t something unexpected and wonderful, but was exciting for me because it’s for a big order that someone placed for our shirts for her store in Chile.  CHILE! 

kikibOnan is going international.  Hollah!

As it sat in the back between the Meemster and her brother W, worms started crawling out of it.  Well, let me backtrack.  I noticed, after handing the box back to my kids because there was no room for it up front, that a caterpillar was on my dress.  After a blood-curdling, murderous scream (my husband’s words, not mine – it wasn’t THAT bad) I made him stop the car and I set it free.  Yes.  I did.

So, back to the box in the back.  Suddenly, caterpillars were everywhere, and a chorus of shrieks began coming both in harmony and in stereo.  Which I get.  The kids are, essentially, tied down in a confined space while being tortured with worms crawling all over.  This, my friends, is the stuff nightmares are made of.  As I am in the front seat, and we are now at a busy intersection, I grabbed a napkin and began reaching for worms.  I couldn’t reach them all, so in the peak of the hysteria, I handed W a napkin and screamed “GET THEM.”  Which he did.  Bravely.  “What do I do with them?”

“Smoosh ‘em!”

After a brief pause (in which I’m certain he was trying to assess just how crazy his mother truly is), he then did what he had to do.  I mean, there was no way we could have saved them all.  Nor did I want to, but don’t tell him that.  My rationale is that Mother Nature is a mother too and when her children, like the worms, misbehave, they have to be punished.  Of course I would never smoosh my own children, but I’m speaking in metaphors.  I think.

So, that’s the story of the worms.  Wuhms, as little T calls them.  I never said anything, but I noticed a little change in W's demeanor over the course of the evening.  He was walking a little taller, was a little calmer, a little more mature at dinner…just a little more grown up all around.  As for the squishing thing – well, now he understands that sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do.  Consider your options, and make the best decision. 

And now, he knows he can handle it himself.  

Because of worms.  Wuhms.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

You Speak-eh My Language?

Little Meems has always loved a lullaby.  “Sleepy songs” as she calls them.  A couple songs, a light back scratching and WHOMP.  It’s like valium for that kid.  She’s a goner.

With life being so busy all the time, and me working so much (between my part-time job, my two freelance clients and my little business, kikibOnan shamelessplug) it’s how she and I, in particular, reconnect.  You know she’s a snuggler, and craves human touch.  Why, just the other day while we were hiking, she was beginning to get tired and cranky, so she grabbed my hand “because I just want to snuggle with you, we haven’t snuggled all day.”  After a few minutes, her battery was fully charged and off she went. 

But, there are days when, I admit, I’m just exhausted and frustrated and ready to get them all to bed.  As she’s the only one of the three who requests demands a bedtime ritual, there definitely is a temptation to sometimes forgo the songs and the scratching, because quite frankly, it can be difficult.  She can be very, very bossy.  The songs have to be a certain length, and the scratching has to be just the right blend of hard and soft and all the required parts of the back must be covered.  I know, exhausting, right? 

BUT.

Every once in a while, I’m reminded why it’s so important to her.  That it’s not merely a bedtime stall tactic. 

Last night, as I was singing to her and her eyes were beginning to roll back in her head, there was this:

“Mom, you should do American Idol.”

“What?  Why?” 

“Because you sing so beautiful.  And I love it so much.”

Drip. Drip. Drip…the sound of my heart melting. 

That girl.

And now MY battery is recharged again.  Because, while she speaks the love language of touch, my love language is affirmation.

Turns out, we speak each others’ language fluently.  Who knew?

Monday, April 18, 2011

They ARE Listening! Wait, They Are, Right?

My nine-year-old son just bought an electric guitar. On eBay.  With his own money.  And he found a great package deal that includes accessories!  He did this all on the iTouch Santa brought him for Christmas.

Some kids play games on theirs.  Some listen to music.  Mine shops.  That's how he found the tennis shoes he is currently wearing.  He stalked those Vans on every shoe website he knew of (how does he know about Zappos?  Or Endless?) and found the ones he wanted and where the best deal was.  Because they were expensive, he even offered to pay for them.  Truth is, I was so excited he'd given up on the ReeZigs (at $90 a pop) I was willing to buy him just about anything else.

All of this makes me feel emotional.  When did he grow up?  He used to buy silly bands, whoopie cushions (seriously, we have about 20, and they seemingly never lose their allure for him), fake dog poo, tattoos and gum.  I'd lecture him on the value of money and the rewards of saving up to buy something that you really want, and he'd remind me that it was his money.  We've tried to let our kids have some independence and some ownership.  If they want a toy in Target, they can save their money and buy it.  With all the activities and uniforms and lessons and orthodontia they're into, we just don't buy them that stuff, except on occasion.  But, wow, I'm just a little floored that those lessons seem to be paying off.  I'm NOT just talking to hear myself talk after all!  Somebody IS listening.  Somebody actually heard and understood me!  Suddenly, I don't feel so alone in the world anymore!

My baby is growing up.  Really, really fast.

Of course, as I'm writing this, I pause to collect my thoughts, look over at my son eating his breakfast, and he's got a whole waffle hanging from his mouth as he shakes it like a dog shakes his toy.  Making faces and trying to cross his eyes.  Just alone -- no one is there for him to entertain but himself.

Pop.  (That's the sound of my little my-son-is-so-amazing-and-mature-for-his-age proudness bubble.)

Sigh.  He left the syrup on the table, his napkin is unused (what are they for again?) and he had to change his shirt because of another syrup catastrophe....





  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Stubborn.

Uh-huh, that's right.  You KNOW who I'm talking about.

Little Meems is in trouble for taking her brother's ball away from him to "show you how to make a hook shot."  Translation: "to hear you squeal like a pig."

It's what she does best some days.  This week being one of them.

I told her to give the ball back, explaining that you can't just take the ball away from someone.

Bounce.  Bounce.

"Little Meems, give the ball back to your brother."

Bounce.  Bounce.

"Give.  the Ball.  BACK.  to. your BROther."

Bounce.  Bounce.  Bounce.

"NOOOOWWWWW!"

Bounce.  Bounce. Bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce.  "I just want to do this ONE thing."

"Enough.  You have until three...ONE."

Her running around faking her pretend opponent out.

"TWO."

Bounce.  "Watch me I can dribble."

"THREE."

"OK, let me just make this shot."
The ball is retrieved and returned to her brother.  True to her plan, her brother has been squealing like a pig.  I can't take it anymore.  She is informed that she will be in time out when she gets inside (which happens only after the threat of something more severe).  She huffs and puffs her way inside the door, slamming it and slamming it again, and parks herself on the bottom stair.

After 8 minutes, I calmly explain to her why she's there (because she has no idea!) and that she owes both me and her brother apologies, for disobeying and for stealing his ball.

"Nope."

And so I informed her that when she's ready to apologize, she can get up.  I'm no dummy, that's the REAL punishment.

That was 40 minutes ago.  She just informed me she's still not ready.  Completely umprompted.  It's her way of saying "The war is on."

Oh, it's on, alright.

It's always a battle of wills with her.  She never wins, but she never fails to try.

I guess I should admire her tenacity, her stick-to-it-iveness.  It will serve her well one day.

If she ever gets out of time out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

March Madness Indeed

My son W is WAAAY into sports these days.  Like his father, he has soaked up the NCAA tournament like a plant soaks the sun.  The bed time envelope has been pushed many, many times during the last few weeks, with pleas of "Mom, I just want to see who wins this game."

Before this whole thing started, my husband left town on yet another business trip with a directive for his family:  complete your brackets.  Come on, really?  I outgrew this when I was in my 20s and working at an agency.  BUT, the thought of doing this with my kids started to take on a shine, and I decided this would soon become a family tradition.

So we filled out our brackets.  This being our inaugural family excursion into this territory, it was an adventure.  My husband, being out of town, left me to guide the children in the task at hand.  The pressure was on.  W, taking this whole thing to heart, studied his brackets and listened diligently as I explained to him how it worked.  After shrugging off my offers of help, he sat at the kitchen table mulling things over for WAAAAY longer than I ever would have.

"Mom, is it better to pick these based on the teams' records or which team you want to win?"

"You can do either one or the other, or both.  Vote with your head, your heart OR your gut.  Or a combination of all three."  Kind of a good lesson for life.  I'm going to have to remember this one.

20 minutes later, he was done.  Like my husband, he took the scientific approach.

I did mine, based on a combination of family ties (my sister lives in Connecticut), history (come on Kentucky!) and allegiance to my home city (Richmond had not one, but TWO teams included - woot woot!).

W helped Little Meems choose hers.  He very eager for her to participate, her not wanting to stop brushing her American Girl  Doll's hair.

She chose all her teams without even LOOKING at him.  She never strayed from her task.  I haven't seen that kind of concentration in her in, well, ever.  Why now?

As I know her pretty well, I could tell she was choosing based on family geography, her allegiance to her home town, and names that sounded pretty.  As a result, she had both University of Richmond and VCU going to the Final Four, with Richmond topping VCU to play UConn.  With Richmond winning.

Now, let's be honest.  None of us saw Richmond schools doing as well as they did.  No matter how badly we wanted them to.  But she had a confidence in her selections.  And it bugged her brother to no end.  He couldn't BELIEVE she would choose two unproven teams to go so far.  He thought she was a fool.

Turns out, the joke was on him.  And me.  And her father (who came in dead last in our little competition).  W came in 3rd.  Mom came in 2nd.  And that Little Meeems...

The prize:  going out to dinner wherever she wanted.

And so, Chick-Fil-A hosted a champion this evening for dinner, and you know they had no idea.  She's not the type to lord her win over anyone, or to even be that affected by it whatsoever.  I love that about her.

Until next year...