Saturday, October 18, 2014

I guess he might be a ninja? Or maybe Superman?

What it is like when we go to Costco as a family: I carry my purse, all applicable coats, the coupons, the shopping list, check the nutrition labels and sale prices.  Push cart, manage all three children.  Owen has laid down in the middle of the aisle.  Sam leans heavily against the cart, hungry and unable to support his own weight.  Lilly just walked into someone.  Again.  We need to make it to the bread, so I heave the cart slowly down the aisle, trailing snot and whines behind me.  Have no idea where Chris is.  He left like a shadow in the night.  But I know that where he is, he is free and unencumbered.

What it is like to attend an elementary school fall festival as a family: I carry three pairs of shoes and most of three pairs of socks so the children can go on the bouncy house.  Sweatshirts for all - because cold outside, but like the third level of Hades in here.  Also unexpectedly hot when carrying an armload of extra fleece. A roll of tickets.  A wad of tissues.  Prizes.  A stack of books for literacy.  Books are, it turns out, quite heavy and also bulky.  I am dressed as a pack mule but must function as a cheetah.  Watch as all three kids scatter and hope that pedophiles and child murderers haven't figured out that children hang out in elementary schools.  Sam is hungry and wants to go to the food area, but I can only see Lilly and have no idea where Owen is.  Owen needs to go to the bathroom, but I can't find Sam.  A volunteer is kindly asking for a ticket because Lilly has joined the cake walk.  Don't know what a cake walk is, and I don't think Lilly does either. Have no way to reach tickets as hands are full.  Sweat is trickling down my neck.  Have no idea where Chris is - he vanished like a whisper on the wind - but wherever he is, he is free and unencumbered.

What it is like when we arrive at home after an outing:  We pull in the driveway.  I gather the travel coffee mugs, my own and Chris's.  The children's discarded water bottles.  My purse.  The snack bag.  Wrappers from what used to be in the snack bag.  The sweaters that were desperately needed earlier - now nobody else in the family can see any potential future use for, ever again.  They are done with these things - these wrappers and waters and sweaters - why must I dwell in the past?  I scoop them up.  Pick up garbage.  Lilly wants to be the one to open the door and get out first, but Owen climbed over her and now she is screaming.  I make Owen let Lilly out first.  It is rude to climb over people.  Lilly wants to be the one to get out last and close the door, but Sam is refusing to climb over her, as that would be rude.  I know where Chris is.  He got out of the car, pocketed his keys and walked into the house, free and unencumbered.

What it means when Chris leaves the house and says he will be back "in a few minutes," "soon," or " in a little bit": he has vague and well-meant intentions of returning.  You know, at some point.  Later.  We sit at home.  Poised for action should the father-figure return.  Waiting.  It could be now, or in 6 hours.  Like the memory of a dream in the cold light of morning, we cling to the idea of Chris for comfort.  You can't chain him, he lives like a wild thing - free and unencumbered.

When Chris leaves me (for, say, writing about him on the internet), I know exactly how he is going to do it.  There will be no note.  He will take nothing with him.  I'll just look around, and he won't be there.  He'll be walking off into the sunsets of New Mexico, free and unencumbered.

He will be cold, though, because New Mexico nights are chilly, and I will have his jacket.

Friday, October 17, 2014


"Owen, please go brush your teeth."

"MOM.  I have CLOTHES on.  WHY would I brush my teeth with CLOTHES ON?"

He can't EVEN with me sometimes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I'd give you anything. I'd give you Target.

I was putting Lilly to bed tonight.  We read that stupid book with the nut brown hares and the kid bunny loves the dad bunny to the moon, but the dad bunny loves the kid to the moon and BACK.



"I love you to Target and back."

Folder Wars

The boys have school folders, which Chris and I are supposed to review every night.  I know that because we have to initial them every night.  So that's how I know that Chris and I, as parents, are supposed to monitor the folders.  Also the school told us that.

But Chris thinks, "It's not my folder, I don't care if it's done."

I know he thinks this because it is the argument he used when I chastised him for not reviewing the folder.

It's compelling logic, but I feel there might be a flaw in there.

Anyhow, the folders.  They drive us bananas.  They are the worst things ever.

It's all a bunch of notes and papers and homework to be done and homework already done and schoolwork and blah blah blah.

And that is exactly how Owen feels about the whole mess.

Once, when Sam was in the first grade, I literally had to push him weeping out of the car because he had forgotten his homework and was going to get a task mark.

(I don't know, but it sounds bad, right?)

Sam cares deeply.

Owen lost his homework the other day, and I said he had to ask for a new packet and he said, "No, that's okay.  I'll just get a task mark."

(Owen has apparently figured out that task marks are simply the lack of a paw stamp and, not being a granola bar, meaningless.)

Last Sunday I was cleaning up (yes, it does happen around here occasionally) and I saw Owen's completed homework on the dining room floor.  I shouted for Owen to come get his homework and put it in his folder.  I mentally note, when he scoops it up, that he trollops back to the living room, which, oddly, is not where his folder is.   I know, because I can see it sitting, right there, on the dining room table.

A few minutes pass and Owen comes running in to the kitchen, laughing because he and Sam were having a sword fight and he was running way from Sam. He was holding his now quite mangled homework packet (no longer in packet form - loose leaf!) in his hands.

"Owen," I said calmly, "go put your . . . (this is the part where I managed not to say 'goddamned') homework in your . . . (ditto) folder."  Maybe it wasn't super-calmly.

He slinks off.  But, again, not anywhere in the direction of where I can still plainly see his folder.

I give it a minute and I walk to the playroom.

"Owen," I say, teeth the tiniest bit clenched, "come here."

At this point he looks at me, places his homework on the ground next to him, places a book on top of it, glances, places another book to make sure it is completely hidden, and gazes innocently into my eyes as he says, "What?"

I tried to yell at him, but he just stood there so gently, nodding his head in emphatic agreement, that I just kind of felt like an asshole.

I told him that if he didn't know where his folder was, he had to ask for help.  That if we asked him to do something, and he didn't know how, he couldn't just lie about it, he had to ask for help.

"I know, mom.  I know.  You're right.  Compwetwy.  I make myself crazy, too, mom."

And then later I found his homework stuffed in the couch cushions.

I'm going to need to check a few parenting books out of the library.  Last time I did that was for potty training.  I think I need a refresh.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ring a bell?

Lilly came to me, sobbing, last night.

"Mom!  I lost my ring someone gave to me today!"

So I bent down, and put my hand on her shoulder, and looked in her eyes, and said, "Lilly, I don't know what events in your young life could possible have led you to believe you have the capacity to keep track of anything, let alone a teeny little ring, but that belief is entirely inaccurate."

She looked at me for a second.

"Can you find it or not?"

"No, I cannot."



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Lilly and the Completely Reasonable Response

Lilly was getting dried off from her bath this afternoon.  She was in my room, and I went to her room to get some cozy warm clothes.  Because it is frickin' cold outside.

(pay attention to that, as it is central to this story)

She must have heard me banging around because she called out, "MOM?  I already made a selection and laid it out on the chair!  It is the red dress!"

So I look over and, yeah, there is a short sleeved dress on the bed.

"Lilly, you can't wear your summer dresses any more.  We packed those away.  You have to wear long sleeves."

So I pick up a long sleeved dress and bring it to her.

And she collapses to the ground.

"Moooooooom. That dress is sooo squirgily," she wails, and gesticulates in a squirgily fashion.

"Would you like a shirt and some pants?"

"NEVER!  I will NEVER wear a shirt and pants!"

"Lilly.  I don't want to fight about this any more.  It is COLD.  You cannot wear summer clothes anymore.  End of discussion."

Whine, whine, whine, whine.

"Lilly, I'm done talking about this.  Go to your room if you can't stop whining about wearing weather-appropriate clothing."

So she goes stomping off to her room, crying and slamming the door to her room.

Because, Evil Mom, obviously.

And then she opens her door, so I can hear her sobbing, "Nobody wants me!  They are breaking my heart! Nobody wants me!"

And they say girls are dramatic.