"Mom, how does the Tooth Fairy fly through the air?"
"How do YOU think?"
"I think moms do it."
"But how can a Mom be a Tooth Fairy?"
"Good moms are lots of things, Princess."

Friday, March 25, 2011

All Because You're Eew

A conversation, on the way home from school:

Peanut: Mom? Did I ever get lost?
Me: No. Not when you were with me.
Peanut: I don't think I got lost with J., either.
Me: I don't know.
Peanut: I wish I was born with you instead of born with J. and you adopted me.
Me: You think it would have been easier to be born with me.
Peanut. Yeah. Mom? Did you want us?
Me: Very much.
Peanut: Because we were cute?
Me: No. Because you're you.
Peanut: We're eew?

Well. It was almost a poignant moment anyway.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

They Don't Let 30-ish-Year-Olds in the Science Fair

After Buddy's spring concert, there was an announcement. Regarding the third grade science fair.

"Yippee!!! I get to be in a science fair!!!!" I cried out.
Josh's head snapped toward me and his eyes narrowed.

"I mean Buddy. Buddy gets to be in a science fair. Buddy. Yeah."
Josh's eyes stayed narrowed.
I have a history.

Friday, a packet 18 inches thick was sent home with eight million rules and three papers to be signed by parents. The phrase "showcasing the child's work" was printed in bold on several pages.

However, a third-grader can't be left to the wolves entirely, so I started googling. Would you believe in the entire World Wide Web there are only two original science fair ideas? One was an experiment on which type of music most effectively calms cats. The project involved riling a series of cats up with a vacuum cleaner, playing music, and then timing how long it took the cat to stop pacing and meowing with it's hair on end, so it was quite promising. Unfortunately we do not have a series of cats, so it was out of the question. The other was, "which grows faster, hair or fur?" and required the shaving of a patch on the student's head and a patch on the student's Chihuahua. I decided not to pitch this idea to Buddy.

So I sighed and tried brainstorming. Sadly, I tried brainstorming with a nine-year-old whose friend and he did not stop laughing and passing gas until 11:00 the night before.

What do you mean, "po.op."
I want study which dog food makes the most po.op.
Your teacher will never approve it (notice the deft taking the blame off myself- now that's parenting).
Because we don't have a way to study po.op output without contracting a variety of viruses.
Pe.e, then.
Ok. What do you want to know about toilets?
(Thinking) Nothing.
Ok, so now what.
Toilet paper.
What about toilet paper?
Which kind is the thickest and sucks up the most pe.e.

Alright. Now we're getting somewhere. At this point, however, I did not realize Buddy had become serious. Several times over the weekend I tried to get him back engaged in brainstorming and several times he said, no, I'm going to do toilet paper.

How about geraniums? How they grow with and without light?
Mold? You could grow mold on bread.
Timing hamsters in a maze?
I can have hamsters!
Oh. Toilet paper.

And so another dream of parental greatness died.

At the dinner table I announced that Buddy had his science fair idea. Again with the narrowed eyes. Josh insisted Buddy recount verbally how he arrived at his idea.

"I said po.op and then pe.e and then urinals and then toilets. I didn't want to know anything about toilets, so I said toilet paper. So we're going to find out if the more expensive toilet paper is thicker and sucks up more pe.e. But don't worry. It'll just be yellow water."

I stuck out my tongue at Josh.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Life is Nothing if Not Ironic

I have often said, and I hold by it, that I would have been more than willing to go through another round of labor with each child (well, in the case of the girls, any labor at all), if what came out at the end was an individualized parenting manual. Would it be awkward? Certainly. Would the spiral binding be extremely uncomfortable? Without a doubt. But it would have been so useful in the quest to be four different sets of parents living under one roof.

Because that's what my children seem to need: four different sets of parents. That's how completely different each of them are.

Tuesday is dance and piano day. At least it was. I do not like dance and piano day. Every. Single dance and piano day, Princess has a tantrum to and from school, and Buddy has a whine fest at home as we pack up his piano book. Especially if he has not practiced that week. Learned that lesson the hard way. Anyway. In January I finally noticed that the after-school car rages defiantly had a pattern: every Tuesday. No other day. While it was a relief that they were down to one day a week, I felt it needed to be addressed, so I asked Princess what was bugging her about dance. She gave me a couple I don't knows and some shoulder shrugs and some nothings, and then came out with, "I don't like it that some people are better than me."

In reality, Princess is pretty on par with the girls in her class. But, you know, there's always The One. When you're an adult, The One usually has expensively highlighted hair, lots of time to spend on the treadmill, a handsome husband about whom you can find nothing to snipe, three kids, and two dogs. She has a bunco night, and all  her excellent desserts are from the new Ina Gar.ten  cookbook. There are kid The Ones, too though. The One in Princess's tap class is a charming little girl with tons of energy and charisma who always knows the answer and practices incessantly outside of class. And you just have to get used to The One, because not only is she always going to be there, but her hair is going to look exponentially better than yours as you age. Ahem. Not that I have issues.

So I tried to have a talk with Princess about finding joy in doing your personal best and improving through practice. I reminded her that car tantrums are not an acceptable way of venting one's anxiety, and I warned that we would need to make a decision about dance soon, as recital preparations were underway. She said she wanted to keep going to lessons and she would let me help her do breathing exercises on Tuesdays.

Only she didn't. She missed four lessons in a row because she either was unable to get dressed for lessons or unable to ride in the car safely (read: screaming, flailing, and throwing things). So this week I said, I'm sorry, but we're done. I'll keep helping you learn to manage your anxiety, and probably in another grade you'll be able to do it so well we can try dance again. She shook her head no several times, and a tear ran down her face. It was a struggle for me. I loved having her in dance. It was hard to say we're stopping.

AND, because life is like that, on the VERY SAME DAY I had this conversation with Buddy:

Me: You're going to piano.
Buddy: But I hate piano! Why do you keep making me do it? I hate it!
M: Because there are two things parents make their kids do no matter how much they hate it: school and   piano.
B: Why do you want to make me do something I haaaaaaaaaate?
M: Because everything is easy for you. It's good for you to practice working on something hard.
B: But whyyyyyyyyyyy?
M: I'll tell you why. Because adults who have had everything easy have big adult temper tantrums when they have to do something hard. And they are NOT pretty. And I don't want your wife to leave you. So get in the car.

Sometimes I get the sneaking suspicion I'm being laughed at on a cosmic level. But maybe I'm just paranoid.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

We Left. And Came Back

Two weeks ago, something happened.

Something so incredible that I'm still not convinced I didn't dream it. Because I do have very realistic dreams. Sometimes it takes me days to realize an incident didn't really happen. I'm still working on the one I had after watching an episode of V; the birth of my alien baby was very, very realistic, and I was so worried no one would accept her for who she was. Anyway.

Josh's aunt e-mailed saying that she had cruise tickets she wasn't going to use, and if we could get babysitting and swing the plane ticket, she'd see if she could get them transferred.

"There's no way," I said to Josh. "None. We have four kids. They are loud."
Josh said, "but don't you want to try?"
Sheesh. Yeah. I guess so.

I made some phone calls, and our former neighbor actually CALLED BACK and said that she suspected she might be certifiable, but she'd come stay with the kids for the week.

Really? Are you kidding me? Because that would be cruel.

So Josh e-mailed his aunt, and she replied that she couldn't get the tickets transferred, so she decided she'd go after all and she bought us tickets.

Um. See, the thing is, that stuff never happens in real life. That's the kind of stuff that happens to other people. Someone's third cousin's friend's sister.

So, without me truly believing it was happening, I found myself ALONE WITH MY HUSBAND on a plane, and then on a really freaking huge ship. In the ocean.

ALONE. For seven days. Seven. A week. ALONE.

So we did this:

(actually, that's Josh's aunt. But you can pretend it's me, because I overcame my irrational bird fear and did it too. I thought this picture was me, in fact, until I realized I hadn't worn shorts because I was terrified birds would peck my knee caps)

and this:

and a whole heck of an awful lot of this:

And it was wonderful. I even still have some residual relaxation left in my system.

However, one can only live without a purpose in life for so long. We came home. And that was wonderful, too. The kids obviously missed us, but weren't anxious or worried. Buddy knocked me down and sat on my head while Peanut and the Cuddle Bear squealed and tried to say everything at once. Peanut read me the letter she wrote us while we were gone,* and Princess even moved in signaling hug-wanting. It was nice to be missed.

But, as every Trauma Mama well knows, re-entry is a female dog for breeding purposes. I'm actually quite shocked at how little aftermath I've seen from Peanut. A LOT of talking. The first day. And that's it. Even Princess has been able to control a teensy bit of herself, which is h-uge. But, you know:

1. Us leaving. Trigger. Someone else in charge. Trigger.
2. Josh's birthday is today, less than a week after return. We no likey other people's birthdays. Because they are not ours. And Josh's birthday is a huge hairy deal because it's
3. Ten days before Princess's birthday. AAAAAAGH! AAAAAAGH! AAAAAAAAAAAGH! Princess's birthday is a mine field. Birthdays often are for these kids, but pair that with that her third birthday was right before she came to us; she didn't get to bring her presents with her, plus her fourth birthday was during reunification, both families were under extreme stress, and reunification efforts "ended" a week later; she didn't get to bring her presents with her, and you get BLAMO!!!! Good times. Good times.

There has been almost constant stick-poking this week. The other night she came out of the pantry three times claiming she "just didn't know what to have for a treat." When she disappeared the fourth time, I said to Josh,
"watch out. She's up to something."
"What do you mean?"
"She going on and on and ON about how she can't find a treat. It's going to blow."

And....sure enough. After asking for "help" from both of us and getting two separate, "you know, if it's so hard to find sugar to eat, perhaps you are not so interested in eating it," the scream-fest ensued. It was just an excuse. The anxiety is so high, and I'm sure screaming seems the best way to let it out.

We remind her that we know she is scared. We remind her that we are not leaving for good. We take deep breaths.

Because we are relaxed, after all. Ya mon.

*I Love You Mom and Dad. From Peanut to mom and Dad. we all mist you all varer much. We did when you wer gone we went to a frind's hose for a sleep over. we wennt to a nutr sleep over we had fun. We had riley fun at all the sleep over's at arer freinds hose. We love you verey much we mise you I love you. and how was youre vakin on the ship was it a litler skarey or fun I hope you had a nice day on the ship will you go on the ship agan if you do agan I will mis you verey much I love you evey time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011