Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shopping for Cars with Boys

Yesterday I took the kids shopping.

S. has recently started a school without uniforms, so she’s building her wardrobe. She’s also a slender, four-foot, four-inch, eight-year-old girl who loves wearing skirts and has definite taste. Finding something that suits her, fits her, and covers enough leg can be a challenge.

Little A., having just discovered the power and purpose of money, wanted to go to Target to buy a toy with his allowance.

Guess which part of the shopping trip made me want to gauge my eyeballs out with a rusty cash register?

In fifteen minutes, S. and I found a skirt she loved that didn’t fit, then one she liked that did fit, and then a top that we both loved. Done!

In some indeterminate, excruciating amount of time (I think we got sucked into a wormhole?), Little A. looked at every single toy in five aisles at Super Target. We looked at cars, trucks, tracks, trucks and tracks for cars, robots, cars that turn into robots, Legos that make cars, Legos that make robots, Legos that make cars that turn into robots, and Angry Birds.

Now, mind you, my kids have been educated in the brainwashing techniques of store design since birth. They KNOW the expensive toys get shelved at eye-level for them. Little A. knew he needed to be shopping the “up high” toys with his budget. Did he? Of course not.

If he had, then Mommy wouldn’t have gotten to say—67 BILLION TIMES—“That IS really cool, but it’s $16. You can save up your money or put it on your birthday list.”

After it became apparent that this ordeal would continue until we all passed out from exhaustion or starved to death, S. decided to help. Now, the finer points of letting people down gently still escape her, as does the art of sticking to the point.

Her tactful responses to her brother’s desire for $40 racetracks involved screeching in a pitch that made dogs in a three-mile radius wince, saying, “NO! That’s too big! You should get this.”

Then she would point out a small—but still too expensive—toy. “Oh, COOL! Look what this does!” And both children totally lost focus while admiring something HE CAN’T BUY! And then (67 billion and one) I said, “That IS really cool, but it’s $8. You can save up your money or put it on your birthday list.”

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Finally, Big A. called to see if we still planned to meet him after work. I gave Little A. five minutes to get it done and lifted him up to see the “up high” toys.

Happy and proud, he checked out all by himself, paying $1.07 in change to take home a Hot Wheels snowmobile.

Exhausted and flattened, I debated the merits of checking myself into a rubber room or giving Happy Hour a whirl.

S. asked if we could have pasta for dinner.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Evil Un-Chores

I’m celebrating the children’s return to school by appreciating the shift in workload that the new season brings—more time in cars, less time managing divergent wants and needs. And a different set of Un-chores!

Let me begin by saying that I’m not a huge fan of chores. I could live with it if someone made our meals, did our dishes, cleaned our bathrooms, vacuumed our floors, did our laundry, and so on. I’d happily be Mrs. Brady if someone wanted to be Alice. BUT.

It’s the un-chores, the not-tasks, the in-between jobs that just do me in. Un-chores come between me and sitting down.

What do I mean by that? If you know the classic story of the married couple going to bed, you know what I’m talking about. And get your mind out of the gutter—it’s not that kind of going to bed.

At ten o’clock, both husband and wife decide to go to bed. At five minutes after ten, the husband’s snoring. At eleven, the wife finally finishes sorting socks, making lunches, signing permission slips, taking out the dog, bringing in the cat, etc. and then goes to bed. The Evil Un-chores kept her up.

Every additional individual in the house adds to the Un-chores geometrically. Think back—without kids, you look at the clock and say, “It’s time to go.” Maybe you pee or turn off the oven, but you’re out the door. With kids…well, I’d say that (by the time you’re experienced—I’m not talking your first newborn) you have to allow ten extra minutes before actual go-time. With two kids, allow fifteen. And always remember that tantrums trump schedules!

I work at home, so Un-chores, specifically “transition tasks,” are the bane of my existence. I normally work from 1-3pm and after 8pm. In order to start work by one, I have a series of un-tasks to do. Like this:
  • Apx. 12:15pm, Little A. and Big A. pull into the driveway
  • I open the door to gauge the mood and entice Little A. into the house*
  • Dad dashes in to make his lunch so he can get back to work
  • We take off Little A.’s shoes and socks, showering sand, pine needles and leaves everywhere*
  • Little A. runs into the laundry room to strip;* 
  • I dust-bust the dirt (or the dog will eat it—I know he’s weird.)
  • We have the “do you have to pee” conversation*
  • We have the “what play clothes would you like” conversation*
  • We have the “no, you really do need to wash hands” conversation*
  • I put the finishing touches on his lunch and call him*
  • We have the “I didn’t get time to play before lunch/You’ll get time to play after lunch” conversation*
  • Little A. eats.* I am grateful that he eats faster than his sister, who, at his age, would have taken two hours to eat lunch if we let her.
  • Little A. takes off for Quiet Time, aka time to build tons of tracks and towers in his room. He loves it.
  • I clean up lunch, go to the bathroom, make coffee, do all the little things that slid during the lunch rush, kiss hubby goodbye.
  • And then I sit down to work…

*Remember the whole tantrums-trump-schedules thing? All of the starred items require cooperation from the kid. Each of them represents a potential wild card, worth up to twenty minutes.

The internet doesn’t have enough memory for the stuff that has to fall into place for me to start work by 8pm each night! And if I start late, I work late, and I sleep less, and I don’t even have time to read a page of my latest attempt at leisure reading before I pass out…

Evil Un-chores!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Before the Dawn

I bet you’re thinking this is a blog about kids keeping you up all night. Or possibly an epic gush from a total Twihard.


Actually, I’m going with that old saying about how it’s always darkest before the dawn. (It is—sleep outside sometime. I don’t know why, but it is.) And, yes, I’m writing this the day before school starts. Hint, hint.

I adore my children. We have a blast together these days. They’re a riot. No, literally, they’re a riot. By the time they’ve been awake for a couple of hours, I’m in the body armor with the riot shield, wishing I had fire hoses behind me to wash the litter into the gutters, just like midnight at Mardi Gras.

I try to take comfort in that fact that their energy, persistence, and ingenuity mean they will run the world someday. Right now, they’re just running me over. I look like Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House—the part in the sidewalk. Remain calm. All is well. ALL IS WELL!

That would be one type of dark, and school would be its dawn. So, yes, I will be cheering as they start the new school year tomorrow. I have so much more energy to mother them when they go away for part of the day!

The other type of dark? (You knew that was coming.) That would be those lovely “phases” all kids go through. You know what I mean. You start to think, If that kid does that ONE. MORE. TIME. I will pull a Gauguin and move to Tahiti to paint natives! Or something to that effect.

This summer has vanished into the dark pre-dawn of several phases that I cannot wait to see the back of.

S. has become Apathy Girl. She goes around like a three-toed sloth sleepwalking, refuses to let herself smile, and answers everything I say with, “oh.”

Notice how I didn’t capitalize that? See, capitalizing would involve energy, commitment, putting something of yourself into the monosyllable. That’s not what Apathy Girl is all about.

Yet the winds of back-to-school are already sweeping through her doldrums. She’s been recently heard to say, “I can’t wait for tomorrow!” and “I love my classroom!” I have a feeling she won’t have room in her calendar for Apathy Girl much longer….

Then there’s The Demon Boy of Sarasota. A summer of…shall we say, expressing his emotions strongly culminated in a giant destructive spree a few days ago. He disassembled his room on Thursday, a mere eighteen hours before his Meet the Teacher gig on Friday. So Big A. and I moved all his toys to bins in the garage, firmly letting Little A. know that he could earn them back by taking care of his remaining possessions. Then I went to the back-to-school parent meeting and sat in the hard seat, half listening, trying not to cry. That was dark.

The next morning, Little A. cheerfully sprang from bed, got dressed, and ate breakfast. He happily got in the car to go to school, played nicely with all the toys there, spoke nicely to his teacher, and played nicely with his friend…until he started to tear up the racetrack they’d been building.

My heart froze. His friend asked if he would stop doing that. Little A. said, “Sorry!” and cheerfully put it back!

Angels sang, birds chirped, and bunnies frolicked. That was the dawn!

Honestly, he made it just fine through his sister’s Meet the Teacher afterward, and has had maybe one incident in three days. I believe in the healing power of school!

I also believe these phases end two seconds before they kill they parents. It’s an evolutionary thing—it has to be.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pooh on You

No, I’m not trying to be insulting, but we have a lot of Pooh around here. Both our children love their Pooh Bears (gifts from Grandma and Papa)…probably more than they love their parents. At least some days!

Little A., in particular, totes his Pooh around with him, much the way Christopher Robin did in the book. I’m sure if we had stairs, Pooh would go Bump! Bump! Bump! down them, because that’s the only way he knows.

Despite the fact that Little A. expresses his affection for Pooh by constantly chewing on his…um, derriere, shall we say?...normally Pooh and Little A. live in perfect harmony. In fact, they even sleep in concert.

The Face Flop

The Sprawl

No children OR animals were harmed in the taking of these pictures, and they abso-tively, posi-elutely were not posed.

So in the interests of general sanitation, health, and welfare—and never again hearing S. scream, “Get your wet, stinky Pooh off of me!!!”—I recently re-stuffed and repaired Pooh’s…um, derriere. Little A. came mock-sobbing into our room the next morning, saying, “I ca-an’t che-ew on Po-oh!”

Oh, darn. 

Pooh apparently realized he is now safe from retribution, because I found him doing this the other night:

Sneaky little bear, all stuffed with fluff.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Green Eggs and Summer Vacation

I am at home.
At home I am.

So are they
At home all day.

Would you take my kids somewhere?
Would you take them here or there?
I cannot take them anywhere.
I cannot make them “Stop!” or “Share!”

Would you take them to YOUR house?
Would you bribe them with a mouse?
Could you put them in a box?
Really, I don’t care about the fox.

Could you, would you in the car?
Take them someplace really far?
Or would you, could you on the train?
Deliver me from this migraine?

Will you, will you, gag my kids?
Or maybe tie them up a bit?
I cannot take them anymore, you see.
They will be the death of me.
I do not like their noise and mess.
Each day I like it less and less.

Wait! What’s that I see?
A back-to-school list came for me?
Oh! If these kids will let me be
I will buy it all, you’ll see.

Say! I can put them in the car
And go to school, it’s not so far.
I can leave them! Leave them there!
Take a walk, breathe fresh air!
I can make them leave my space.
I can enjoy a quiet place.

At home I’ll be.
At home, just me.

They’ll be away,
Away all day.

Then I can miss them lots all day
And hug them ‘cause they went away.
They drive me nuts right now, you know
But off they’ll go to grow and grow.
Then I won’t blink, no, not a whit.
That growing won’t stop, not one little bit.