Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Last week I went to the Boo’s school open house, a lovely event where parents talk to teachers and learn more about what their kids have been up to. One of my favorite things about the evening is seeing the kids’ art, so I eagerly scanned the walls. This year, they’re doing self portraits. Here is the Boo’s:

As I saw it next to depictions of fully articulated hairdos and facial features, disappointment washed over me. We all stood around saying nice things about the drawings, and about the Boo’s, someone said, “Oh! Those are nostrils! That’s great!” So kind, really. I muttered something about my kid not being interested in drawing. Then one of the teachers said he’d been very willing to try. It was awkward, at least for me.

The morning after the open house, I asked the Boo a few open-ended questions about his self-portrait, and he answered them in a matter-of-fact way. Turns out that parent was right, those are nostrils. I sat there thinking about how nice it is that he’s cool with his drawing skills, and my mind wandered to the things he does well.

He can explain how an electric circuit works. He tells me (often) when I’ve skipped a word in a story he last heard a month ago. He is proficient with a screwdriver. He knows the French words for head, nose, eye and bottom, and most of the words to a Japanese children’s song.

And here’s the deal – I know that my child is mainly interested in drawing as it pertains to practical applications, like watching me sketch a diagram of a three-point turn:

Oh look, my little apple fell right next to the tree.

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We picked out a card we knew Daddy would enjoy — it referenced heavy metal and made lots of buzzy noise. He loved it. 

We went to take care of Grammie’s yard before it got too hot. You loved it. 

We went to the grocery store to pick up a few of daddy’s favorite treats, and you picked out his favorite juice. He loved that.

You woke Daddy up with a sweet “good mornin’ Daddy!” right after Mama asked you to quietly blow him a kiss. He loved it. 

You helped Mama make Besitos de Coco, and you stuck with it long past the point where you usually wander away (right after you taste all the sweet ingredients). Mama loved that, mostly. She’s a Virgo. She has issues with messes. She’s getting better. 

You filled up (and popped) a bunch of water balloons with Daddy. You loved it, Daddy loved it but got a bit overheated. 

You smashed your face into the only hard part of the couch during a game of “keep the balloon off the floor”. Nobody loved that. 

Your front left tooth (the same one that needed a root canal a few years ago, of course) was bloody and wiggly. Nobody loved that. 

Your dentist called Mama roughly three minutes after she left a message with his weekend service. She loved that. 

Your dentist said the tooth was probably okay but to call the office first thing Monday to schedule an X-ray. Nobody loved that. 

You decided you still wanted to help Mama make Daddy’s favorite cakes (yes, plural — warm caramel cakes) even though your tooth was bugging you and you were worried about the X-ray appointment. Mama loved that. 

Daddy didn’t realize we were making his favorite cakes until after his Father’s Day nap. We all loved that. 

Your dentist’s scheduler called Mama 15 minutes before the office opened on Monday, and said we could come in later that morning. Mama loved that. You did not love that, but felt better about it once Mama explained there would only be an X-ray and a quick exam.

Your hygienist told Mama you did great and kept asking what was next. She loved that, and told you there was nothing more for you to worry about. 

Your dentist told us your tooth is going to be just fine as long as you don’t chomp down on anything hard for about a week. We all loved that. 

Your dentist’s cashier told Mama that insurance will cover everything. Mama and Daddy loved that. 

You helped Mama with the weekly Target run, and she got you several treats (nothing sugary!) to celebrate the good news. You loved that. 

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The night before the Boo’s last day of school, as I was leaving the house for book/wine/kvetching club, the hubs asked me, “Why is the ice cream so soft?” In a rush and already mentally out the door, I said, “I don’t know, it’s been in there since this morning.”

By the next morning, it was clear that is was time to call Ye Olde Sears Repair Service. They gave us the first available appointment. For the next day. So I spent days throwing food in the trash. Food I had just bought, food I had forgotten about, food I wasn’t crazy about but had kept anyway because, get this, I hate throwing food away. It makes me feel like a wasteful, overprivileged bourgeoisie. 

I was in such a black hole of a mood I snapped at a friend who asked if we wanted to join her at a super fun play place. 

And then we dusted off the coolers and bought a few perishables and ice, none of which is my idea of fun. It was, however, the Boo’s idea of fun. Ice! Bags and bags of it with no end! Coolers to use as a personal fridge, as step stools, as fun new chairs. It helped, somewhat, seeing him so entertained.

It also helped to remember a saying a friend had taught me: A problem that can be solved with money is not a big problem. I tried to lean on that thought as we plunked down a shocking amount of money for a basic fridge. A fridge that would be delivered in a week, because there is apparently no such thing as next-day fridge delivery (note to big-box stores: GOLD MINE!).

Faced with the prospect of a week of daily ice runs and cooler-draining, I put an appeal for a dorm fridge on Facebook, not really expecting much. But several friends said we were welcome to borrow one. And one friend offered to bring hers over. SOLD! 

So now, hours away from the arrival of the new fridge, we are plotting happier things, like what kind of cookies to make as a thank-you to the friends who brought us their mini fridge-freezer. 

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A few times a month, the Boo is class leader. This involves perks such as ringing the bell for snack time and bringing a treasured object for show-n-share. He’s brought things like a book, a small fan, and an old cassette recorder. That last one got rave reviews from one teacher because the dual recording speed means you can play back at Chipmunk speed. 

I wasn’t sure the teachers would love what he selected for yesterday’s show-n-share, though. After some hemming and hawing shortly before we needed to walk out the door, he settled on this:

For the record, I am not the adult in the house who introduced him to this album. However, he LOVES it. I don’t know if it’s the strong beat or the guitar work, but he just can’t get enough of stuff like this (he also loves Rush). So my approach has been to balance it out with Prince and Aimee Mann, and be honest about the times I just can’t deal with the Young brothers. 

I was slightly nervous about how the CD would be received at school, but when I picked him up the extended day teachers (different from his usual set) told me they had played the CD for hours. And they were laughing about it. Hard.

That night, we got the Boo talking about show-n-share. The conversation took place while he was dancing wildly to Back in Black, so it was, um, fragmented. But as he hopped around wailing on his mini-broom-guitar, we were able to put together that they did play the CD, at least a few kids danced to it, and a kid who cranked it up was asked to turn it down. When I asked if it was his best show-n-share ever, he shouted “yes!” And then he went back to rocking out. 

The next day, I checked in with the Boo’s teachers to ask how the songs went over with the kids — and them. Thankfully, “So fun!” was a typical comment. A teacher from another class came by to rock out a bit, and I learned that one of the Boo’s teachers taught the kids some leg guitar moves. Meanwhile, my kid had demonstrated the proper arm wave and “rock on” hand sign for concert-goers. (I taught it to him that morning in the car pool drop-off line, and I was pleased that the quick lesson had stuck.)

There were a few parents on the playground when I was chatting with the teachers, and they seemed to have no beef with the CD. The word “cool” was uttered more than once. 


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  All parents have child care tasks they detest. Mine is brushing and flossing my kid’s teeth. I would seriously, honestly, rather wipe my kid’s butt ten times a day. And this week, I had an actual bona fide fight with my kid about the aformentioned and detested task.

The Boo has always been a bit silly about getting his teeth brushed, asking me to play the part of his dentist and demanding hugs when it’s my turn to brush. So I allow lots of time to get through the routine of letting him start, then hitting all the hidden spots before we take the same tack with flossing. It takes a while, but we get the job done and have a bit of fun along the way.

But this week was different. Maybe because he was home sick for two days, maybe because of the full moon, or maybe because he’s growing up a bit. Whatever the reason, he suddenly amped up the fake hug tactic, and it bugged me. I just wanted to get the job done and move on, but he wanted to make a never-ending story out of it. In frustration, I pushed him away mid-hug, and he pushed back. I made a speech in a loud voice, and he stuck his fingers in his ears. I yelled, and he yelled. Finally, I left the bathroom.

Eventually I got him to cooperate, but things were no better that night. After I blew him kisses and closed his door, words from a very wise parenting coach came back to me: You can’t have a tug of war if one person drops the rope.

The next morning, I dropped the rope – by telling him the truth.

Me: “Honey, can I tell you a secret?”

Boo, eyes wide: “Sure!”

Me: “I don’t like brushing your teeth. It’s not fun for me. I do it because it helps keep your teeth clean so you don’t have to get so much scraping done at the dentist. I don’t like the hugs you give me before I brush your teeth because they’re not real hugs. I prefer to have a real hug when we’re done.”

He was still listening, so I went on.

Me: “I’m done fighting with you about brushing your teeth. If you want me to help you, that’s great. But if you don’t want me to help you, that’s fine too. And that might mean more scraping and maybe a cavity.But it’s your choice. You get to decide.”

He thought about it, opened his mouth for flossing, and then started up the old games. I threw the flosser in the trash and walked out, saying I understood his choice. He protested and said he wanted me to floss, really, please floss.

I didn’t floss his teeth that morning. I reminded him of the choices again that night, and after reminding me that a cavity might be one of the consequences of not brushing, he opened his mouth like a baby bird. A baby bird that’s making his own choices.

And then the next day we were back to square one, or maybe square one and a half. So now I’m singing him a “mystery song” every time it’s my turn to brush or floss. It’s working, for now, and when it no longer works I’ll change my tactics again and cross my fingers. 

This, my friends, is life with a four-year-old. 

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imageDuring my years in the advertising industry (and yes it was exactly like Mad Men, suckers!) I picked up the phrase “pay yourself first.” I’ve adopted it as one of my Mama mantras, though in my world the payments are made in time and energy instead of money.

Case in point: I just quit one of the best bands I’ve ever been in. It was the perfect setup for me: someone else running it, two rehearsals or so a month, gigs 3 or 4 times a year. But even with that low level of involvement, I felt like I was scrambling to find the time to learn my parts. Shows were stressful because I never felt as prepared as I wanted to be. And since little kids don’t sleep in, I spent two days recovering from staying up past my bedtime.

So when the first “let’s rehearse” email of the year came through, I spent a few days pondering what to do. I loved rehearsing with the guys. All interesting, great musicians and lovely people. But that, I realized, was all I really loved about it. And meanwhile, projects I’ve been meaning to start have gone untouched. So I called the band leader, explained my reasons, and quit.

I pay myself first in small ways, too. One morning when the Boo woke me up at 5, I was feeling particularly harried. I set a ten-minute timer and told my kid I needed some privacy until the timer rang. And then I locked myself in the bathroom.

After my three-minute makeup routine, I set about filing my nails. Seriously, they were ragged. A couple of times, I heard him call for me from his room. I went on filing my nails. He came and knocked on the door, saying he needed me. I said I would be out soon. He went away, came back, knocked again. I repeated myself.

The timer went off soon after that, and it turns out my son had knocked because he wanted me to play a new, particularly silly game with him. So I did, wholeheartedly, which I wouldn’t have been able to do had I not paid myself first.

It’s impossible to say whether quitting the band will lead to me publishing my first book. But I know that taking even small bits of time for myself gives me the energy reserves I need to be a better mom. And obviously I can’t always pay myself first — no one can/that’s just life/suck it up.

But that’s why there are cartoons, darlings! And venting sessions with other parents! And wine!

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 Sunday morning, as most mornings since Christmas, you ask me, “Do you want to build a power circuit, Mama?” You mean you want to play with your Snap Circuit set, undoubtedly your most favorite toy ever, and the first plaything that has held your interest for long stretches. 

Naturally, I say yes. I would love to build a power circuit, which one do you want to build?

Sunday afternoon, as always, is prime bath time, but lately you’ve been resisting the whole getting clean in the tub thing. So I have a strategy in place. 

“Would you like to clean your bath toys?” 

You are excited about this idea because it involves a spray bottle. I fill it with Special Bath Toy Cleaning Liquid (water, a squirt of Dawn, plus the “magic ingredient” of a few shakes of salt). You quickly decide you should be naked for your task. Once that’s achieved you set to work, then shift to running experiments (you’ve been watching a lot of Bill Nye the Science Guy and listening to Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants pretty much nonstop.). 

Later you decide that you should  step out of the tub, put a towel over your head, and yell, “chemical reaction” over and over. Eventually, we wash your hair and body, and I still have to coax you away from your toy cleanin/science experiments over an hour after we started. 

Monday morning brings a big decision: what to bring for Show and Share. You had settled on your baby monitor because you wanted to see what would happen if you turned it on at school. At the last minute, you switch to a Lego-like vehicle you call “Katy” after the protagonist of Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton, your current favorite book. 

Afternoon snack time at home is a good time to slyly extract information about your school day. I inquire about Show and Share and you tell me your friends asked if Katy was a storm trooper. Then you tell me you said yes.

Tuesday morning school prep goes off without too much strife, though I have to turn off the giant piano you got for Christmas to get you to put your socks and boots on. I consider relocating the giant piano. 

We read The Lorax before your rest time. You love the part where the sludge from the Sneed factory goes into the pond. I decide not to press the point that this is a very bad development for the humming fish, because you love the book so much. 

You emerge from your afternoon rest time in a state I can only describe as highly emotional. You are whiny and want me to carry you everywhere and burst into tears when you have trouble selecting a cartoon. I am flummoxed. Grammie texts me about coming over early for book club and I say yes please, now would be great thank you.

As I prep to host what you call “the ladies” you hang out with Grammie and “help” me make brownies and spinach dip. When I change from loungewear into real pants and a more presentable Tshirt/sweater combo, you declare that I look great for the ladies. 

Daddy puts you to bed as the ladies arrive, but summons me when there is a crisis involving a crying jag. It turns out that Katy, the Lego-like toy you took to Show and Share, is missing a part. This is a crisis because you sleep with Katy and she has to have the right parts to protect her. You are also begging to come say goodnight to the ladies. I locate the part on the floor and fix her up for you. You beg again to come downstairs. I say no, again, knowing how a trip downstairs will rile you up, and promise that you can meet them another time. I give you bunches of kisses, and Katy blows kisses to me as Daddy starts reading the Katy book to you.

One of the ladies brings a play tent her kids have outgrown. I set it up in your play area after the ladies leave. In the morning you immediately crawl in and declare yourself to be the queen of the castle (maybe because it’s pink and purple?). Later you refer to yourself as the Prince of the Morning Pajamas. Then you take the tent poles apart and collapse it so you can “get into the attic.”

We have time before school to read the Lorax, which has knocked  Katy off the current favorite book pedestal. We pause for a discussion about why the brown Bar-ba-loots have crummies in their tummies and what it’s like to not have enough to eat. 24 hours after hearing the book for the first time, you listen to the pollution messages with a look of concern.

And that, my friends, is what life is like with the Boo. 


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  You had your third Christmas. 

You were introduced to the idea that you can ask Santa to bring you specific things. 

You once again gave Santa a wide berth at the mall, gripping Mama’s hand tightly and saying “I don’t want to look at him, Mama.”

You wrote Santa a letter (using Mama as a scribe) for the first time. You asked for a lava lamp and a water gun. You added a “please” after Mama suggested making it a polite request. 

You had a young house guest to play with. You got on beautifully together, which made the adults very happy. You did a lot of painting with her, vying for space and smearing a glue stick over her creations. Now that she’s gone, the easel is feeling neglected. 

You were sick for about half your holiday break, so you watched more cartoons than usual, introducing your houseguest to Totoro.

You spent tons of time playing with your cousins, disappearing with them into Grammie’s basement for long stretches. 

You did a great job taking turns opening presents with your cousins – it was the first year you had to do that.

You went on the Polar Express train ride with the whole family. You rejected the hot chocolate in favor of water, but you loved the cookie. You and Mama both found the music to be shockingly loud. But Mama was even more shocked that you peeled yourself away from her to get up and dance with your cousins.

You received a Snap Circuits set, which you were instantly and intensely fascinated with. It has taken up permanent residence on the dining room table. Even two weeks later, you still ask to build a “power circuit” almost every morning. 

You received Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants (CD and DVD set). It’s currently in heavy rotation in the car and DVD player. Your favorites so far are “Meet the Elements” and “Electric Car.”

You received several Junior Legos sets, which you are surprisingly adept at putting together. 

You mentioned missing a classmate (only one, your best buddy) exactly one time. 

You were delighted and amazed that Santa came through with the gifts you requested. 

You went to the science center as a gift from your uncle – and you’ve been asking to go back ever since.

You were not excited about the idea of returning to school. 

You had your third Christmas. It was your best one yet. 

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  It’s been amazingly/frighteningly warm for December, with rain instead of snow in the forecast. Nevertheless, I’ve been reading seasonally appropriate books to the Boo — The Snowy Day, Snowmen At Night, and Raymond Briggs’ classic The Snowman. 

For the unfamiliar, this lovely book has no words, just small soft-edged drawings with an impressive amount of nuance. A boy builds a snowman, goes to sleep, then wakes in the night and has an adventure with his creation. I was curious to see how the Boo would react to the lack of words (he didn’t) and the fanciful plot line (again, no comment on a snowman walking and flying).

What really got him going was what they did in the house. In one part that I found funny and charming, the snowman tries on the boy’s father’s clothes. 

“Mama! They shouldn’t be doing that, Mama!”

Also, the boy turns on the stove.

“Mama! He shouldn’t be doing that! Why is he doing that?”

And horror of horrors, the snowman climbs into the deep freeze.

“Why is he doing that! He shouldn’t be in there Mama!”

I explained that the boy wants to show the Snowman everything it was his first time in a house, but that didn’t make much of a dent in my kid’s unease that they were breaking the rules. Maybe I should have pointed out that the boy was dreaming and told him there are no rules in dreams.

Or maybe it’s time to introduce the concept of willing suspension of disbelief. 

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  We recently took the Boo to London, which might seem like a crazy thing to do with a three-and-a-half-year-old. But we took him to India over a year ago, so whatever. Herewith, the highlights.

You went to London for two weeks. 

You were an angel on the flights there and back despite not sleeping much/very well/at all. (Thanks, group of guys on the way to Vegas who started the party as soon as the seatbelt sign was turned off… You were truly awesome in your dedication to the loud enjoyment of free booze.)

You loved playing “light engineer” at the hotel where we stayed for the first few days. (Read: So many switches! So many lights! It’s Boo heaven!)

You were happy to ride in the stroller despite not having been it for about a year. Maybe that was because we kept plying you with potato chips and chocolate-covered digestive biscuits.

You loved riding the Tube and the buses, and got really good at listening for the station we needed. You are now the happy owner of a decommissioned Oyster card, which you use to play “riding the Tube.”

You asked to go back to the London Transport Museum almost as soon as we left it. Your favorite parts were the play train, model elevators, and real buses you could pretend to drive. We went twice, and you would have been thrilled to go every day. (That’s it in the photo above.)

You enjoyed the amazing Princess Diana Memorial Playground — most especially the pirate ship and the secluded winding pathways.

You discovered a love of shortbread, English-style pub chips and a fruit snack you named “mango snails.” Your aunt got you to try a bite of sausage, which was truly astonishing to your Mama.

You played with your older cousins quite a bit, and got into playing with Legos for the first time. 

You were captivated by the earthquake simulator at the Natural History Museum, and that night you were very concerned about whether there was an earthquake simulator under your bed. 

You were pretty good about sleeping on the floor at your cousins’ flat. There were several nights it took you ages to fall asleep, but we figured that was because you knew there were good times being had after your bedtime.

You dealt with jet lag in London better than in the U.S., where you woke up at 2 or 3 a.m. for the first few nights. And stayed up for hours and hours until Mama finally gave in and set you up with cartoons at 5 a.m., and let you watch whatever you wanted all day because that’s what cartoons are for.

You said, “I don’t know” when Mama asked “What was your favorite thing about London?” When pressed, you said, “it’s a secret,” which is also what you say when pressed about things that happen at school.

You went to London for two weeks, and you’re already asking when we can go back. 

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