Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lying About Our Age!

And so we have reached that magical, mystical time in my life as a parent in which I am actively, constantly lying about the ages of my children.  Perhaps you've heard this story before, but I cannot remember a time in my life in which I was more horrified than when my parents lied about my age to get in somewhere and said I was ELEVEN when I was actually FOURTEEN.  Obviously, there were plenty of more horrifying moments in my life, but that one really stuck with me.  Why don't you all just rub it in that I don't have any boobies? That I am not some super hot teenage girl and instead look like I should be playing with dolls?  Why don't we just knock down my self esteem another half dozen or so notches just to save two dollars on general admission?  I'm in high school and I look ELEVEN?  Really?  Why must you people ALWAYS DO THIS TO ME?

Of course, now here I am (almost thirty-four and ironically praying that I don't look a day over twenty-seven), and I'm obviously doing the same thing to my kids.  Of course, they are four and two, so I'm really only lying down to three and one, which is nary a difference at all.  But I am extremely underemployed.  I mean, I'm extremely OVERemployed, being a stay at home mom to these two little lunatics, but I am EXTREMELY UNDERPAID.  We are a one income family, and, hot dog, if I can save $3 by knocking my children down a year or two, then we all know what has to be done.

The problem is Andy, honest Andy, as honest as the day is long.  Honest Andy who's always sticking his nose in the business I try to conduct with other adults, Honest Andy who would call out my "he's three" lie in a hot second if given the chance, thus exposing me for the cheapskate liar I actually am.  And so, the other day, on the way to the pool, I decided my best bet was just to explain to Andy what I was about to do.

"Andy, when we get to the pool, I'm going to say you're three, even though you're four.  It's just because three years olds are FREE and four year olds cost money.  So when I say you're three, don't say anything. Okay?"

Andy mulled this over for a second before asking, "Why?  Are we running out of money?"

Yes, Andy, we are.  But aloud I said, "No, of course not.  But, if I SAVE some money by saying you're three, then maybe I can spend it on something else like ICE CREAM instead."

Andy thought about it for a little.  "Okay.  So we will pretend I'm three.  How old are you going to be?"


I was a little nervous about how admission was going to play out for me, and I could tell Andy was, too.  He whispered to me as we stood in line, "I'm not going to say I'm four!"  and acted a little jittery as he appeared to give himself a mental pep talk.  By trying to save three bucks, I'd actually probably cost myself three hundred in future counseling.  But, alas.  Every once in a while, you just have to roll the dice.

Andy did as instructed and didn't interrupt me as I lowered his age when it was time to pay.  And later, I stressed the importance of always being honest EXCEPT WHEN MOMMY SAYS IT'S OKAY BECAUSE THREE DOLLARS ARE ON THE LINE.

And so I await the day when Andy or Alex is overcome with shame because they've passed for a younger age when they really oh-so-badly want to be BIG.  I will always try to make my kids feel less shame as opposed to more.  Unless it's a really big amount of money we're talking about saving, such as ten bucks or so.

But also, Andy and Alex, just remember.  The teenager taking our money doesn't give a crap how old you are or look or how much I'm about to pay.  They're just ringing up on the register and counting down the moments until they can go home and eat ice cream.  Which reminds me. I think I owe you an ice cream. McDonalds is doing the forty-nine cent cones again.  And good news- the discounted price is for all ages! Even twenty-seven year olds.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

No More Crib!

Alex has been threatening to climb out of his crib for a while now.  Not so much in sentence format, but the threat has existed.  It was there when I watched him expertly climb up the rock wall on the big kids section of the park.  It was there when he started insisting on scrambling into his car seat on his own.  It hovered in the air as he started climbing up on the stools at our breakfast bar.  This kid can climb, I heard someone (God or perhaps a commercial) whisper into my ear.  You're on borrowed time with the crib.

It finally happened on Monday.  The boys went to bed, and then Chris heard Andy calling for him just a few minutes later.  "Daddy, something's happening in here!"  Andy yelled.  From my spot on the couch downstairs (as it was past seven and officially Wine & Vampire-Related-Movie-or-TV-Show time), I then heard Chris calling for me.  "Jackie, you're going to want to see this."

And I did want to see it, but I also didn't, as I was pretty sure what had happened.  Alex had, of course, launched himself out of the crib.  But then he had gone into the closet and dragged out his Crayola suit case. As Chris and I watched on from the doorway, he proceeded to walk purposefully around his room and toss in every last one of his toys.  The kid had escaped the clutches of the crib and was ready to move out and start a life on his own.  Perhaps his plan was to barter his McDonald Happy Meal toys for actual Happy Meals as to nourish himself out in the big, bad world.

We put him back in the crib and closed the door.  From the hallway, I could hear the groans of crib bars being scaled and then the eventual thud of a two year old hitting the carpet.  We opened the door, and there was Alex, just walking around.  Not even proudly.  Just... inevitably.  As if he owned the place.  And we all know he doesn't own anything, as everything around here truly belongs to me, Daddy, or Andy.  The second baby just tends to borrow, not own.

Last night, before bed time, Chris tackled the task of converting the crib into a toddler bed.  The crib converts from crib to toddler bed to twin bed to studio apartment.  You really get your money's worth on these things!  This was no easy job as the various components to the crib/toddler bed/ studio apartment were scattered in various sections of our house.  Chris asked a couple times, seemingly just to annoy me, "Where are the instructions to this thing?"  There are no instructions, Chris.  I threw them out.  Who keeps instructions?  Everything's online.  Just finish converting this damn thing so we can continue on with our sure to be painfully frustrating evening.  

The crib got converted, eventually, and then it was bed time. Andy got tucked in on his side of the room in his own bed, and we optimistically stuck Alex into his "new" toddler bed and covered him up.  "Night night," we told him.  "Don't get out of bed!"

I can't even begin to count how many times Alex got out of bed or calculate the level of noise that came out of their shared room last night.  How many times did we go into the bedroom to cajole/ reason/ punish that kid back into his bed?  Even Andy was irritated, poor kid.  The boys sharing a room has never really been a problem- in many ways, it's been a nice thing having them together- until last night when Alex was free to roam.  Finally, so frustrated and exhausted, Andy shook his head and proclaimed, "I don't think Alex is ready for a big boy bed.  Please put the crib back together."

Eventually, after Chris gave him a "time out" for being too damn rowdy, Alex settled down in his bed and fell asleep.  Around two o'clock in the morning, he fell out of the one little spot that didn't have a rail, landing directly on his head.  I scooped him up, stuck him back in the bed, and promised to return with a cup of milk to make him feel better.  Obviously, that was a lie, and I did not get him any milk and instead went back to sleep. In the morning, I was greeted with not one boy traipsing into my bedroom but TWO boys.  Two boys just out and about and perfectly capable of wandering around the house at whatever early morning time they deem okay.

It's a whole new ball game over here.  

And so, tonight will be Night Two.  Today's nap tactic in the new bed is (wait for it), NO NAP at all! Wow!  Yay!  I'm hoping Alex will be so tired by bed time that he won't feel the urge to get up, walk around, pack a suitcase, or jump on Andy's face.  I'm hoping tomorrow we can attempt a normal nap.  By normal, I of course mean horrible.  One day at a time.  One night at a time.  And then one more day at a time until we reach the next milestone, which I hope involves the boys doing some chores or something.

New Chicago Parent Post!

Chicago Mom Explains Benefit of Napping

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Andy's Four in Four Days!

Four years ago today, I was thinking, "Tomorrow is my due date, I am so unbelievably ready for this kid to come out."  Four years ago tomorrow, I had my last day of work before maternity leave and went home with slight contractions, thinking, "Okay, this is it.  He'll be here by tonight!"  I called the doctor, went in for a stress test, and it was nothing.  Chris and I went home, watched "Avatar," and I went to bed hoping that I'd wake up in the ever so gentle throes of labor.  Four years ago two days from now, we went to the library and out for breakfast as if it were any normal day.  I blinked back tears when the librarian said something about my books being "due," as I was starting to feel a little sensitive about that word.  Four years and three days from now, I took a long walk around the neighborhood feeling like maybe I could exercise the baby out.  Four years and four days from now, I finally went in for my induction and had my baby after what can only be described as the most excruciatingly awful experience of my life.  Excruciatingly awful, that is, until they finally gave me that little (8 lb, 5 oz) baby to hold.  That baby that immediately stopped crying in my arms and just gazed up at me with contentment.

And now that boy is turning four.  Four days from now.

Is anybody still with me, or did I lose you with all the numbers?  I know my head is spinning.

See that kid on the diving board?
And so Andrew Jacob is turning four on Saturday.  Today I watched him during his second day of swim lessons, or at least tried to while I alternated between cajoling Alex out of the men's locker room and hauling his wriggly little body away from the pool area that we were not supposed to be in.  I'm sorry, Alex, swim lessons are for when you get a little older.  Unless you keep bothering me, in which case I will skip the swim lessons in favor for something less exciting, such as tuba or knitting or knitting while playing the tuba.  No offense if you really enjoy playing the tuba or knitting; I tried the knitting briefly when I went through my scarf phase and I quickly realized that, for 2% of the effort, I could just go buy an already knit scarf that wasn't all lopsided and unraveled and didn't smell like red wine and swearing.  I never tried the tuba- too heavy.

Where was I?

Andy jumped off the diving board today, completely fearless and trusting in his ability to make it out alive one way or another- due to either his own swimming prowess or the competence of his teachers.  To me, this is a huge deal, and I was so proud of his bravery.  He did it a couple times, and as I watched the little boy who was once my little baby go splashing off the board into the deep end, my heart swelled with pride.

Lately, I've been so proud of Andy, in a more significant way than I was proud of him as a baby or toddler. I am watching him become a great kid.  Aside from being brave, he is smart and funny.  I mean, this kid is really smart and really funny.  He has a mind like a steel trap, and he uses logic and reasoning to come up with excellent questions and explanations.  And he cracks me up, and not on accident.  He knows how to be funny and very accurately points out things that ARE funny, deeply funny.  I think one day Andy will have a blog to end all blogs.  He will be the successful blogger in the family, in addition to all of the other extremely successful things he will likely do, such as climb a really big mountain and learn how to pause and play his own TV shows.

Smart, funny, handsome.  Kind, gentle, sympathetic.  Brave, independent, loves croutons. A good big brother and a good friend.  A little set in his routine, becoming upset if we skip Quiet Time for the day or stay out of the house too long.  But I can get on board with that.  I love the kind of kid that's content with playing cars alone or watching a semi-appropriate amount of TV while Alex naps and Mommy "works." Which is what I call it when I'm on the computer, but is clearly a lie since being online only tends to cost me money, not make any.  Damn you Ebates.

Andy, as you like to say, I love you as much as a crocodile in outer space.  That's what you say to me, and I think the comparison is meant to evoke feelings of BIGNESS.  Sometimes it's a rocket in outer space.  Or a forest in outer space.  I get it, though.  I love you as much as various animals/ objects in outer space too. Probably a little more.

Happy fourth birthday, big kid.  In four days.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mr. Independent!

As Alex is now the ripe old age of two, he has suddenly become extremely independent.  There are exceptions to this independence, of course, in which I'm mainly thinking of when I'm trying to prepare a meal, use the bathroom, or present myself with any type of dignity to the cashier at Home Depot whilst my Al Pal proceeds to roll six things of painters tape down the aisle as if they were little, four dollar bowling balls.

And yet, Alex is very independent, refusing my help to get in and out of the car and protesting "No!" when I try to assist him with basic tasks.  He bats away my hand when I help him to the next level of "Car Puzzles For Toddlers Lite!" on the iPad and does not want an ounce of assistance getting into his chair for dinner. He doesn't want to be held as we cross a parking lot; he cries out "Walk! Walk!" as if he is a prisoner who wants just the tiniest taste of freedom.  He refuses to sit in the stroller anymore, bucking his legs in rebellion until his toes practically touch his eyebrows.  He's pretty much done with being a baby, and, in an instant, I've found myself with two big boys who are perfectly capable of raising themselves.

The big boy on his scooter.
Of course, that's not entirely true.  Andy still requires me.  As he often declares whenever Chris tries to pitch in and help, "I want Mommy to do EVERYTHING."  And then he bends over so I can wipe him.

It's a joy to see Alex transition from baby to big kid, but it's happening fast, and my feelings are hurt when he refuses my attention.  Clearly, this is the way of things, and I've been through all of this with Andy, but I haven't been as ready for the streak of independence with Alex.  I'm supposed to help this kid out of his car seat.  I'm supposed to carry him safely through the parking lot into Aldi.  They are both supposed to sit in the cart adorably having a slap fight with one another while I contemplate between the 99 cent animal crackers and $1.19 graham crackers.  They are little!  Alex is a baby!

But he's not.  He wants to walk.  And so I hold his hand like I do Andy's, and suddenly I'm chaperoning two big boys into the store, Alex proudly tilting his head up and saying "Hi!" to every adult he sees.  Just like his big brother, Andy. Only Andy says a lot more than "Hi!" these days.  Andy explains that Mommy, Daddy, and Alex like bananas, but he doesn't.  He says how old everybody is.  He asks questions about what people are buying. He makes decisions on his own, abruptly declaring, "Tonight I want you to set up my tent so I can sleep in it and eat little chocolate cakes."

I'll never be prepared for the next stage with these two little guys of mine.  It breaks my heart in a beautiful way to see them grow up.  And it makes me laugh, and I want to remember always Alex's airplane. In which I mean, the way Alex randomly says "airplane" to fill the gap in conversations.  Airplanes are to Alex as buses were to Andy.  Alex thinks about airplanes constantly, looks in the skies for airplanes, and suddenly just mentions airplanes even if we are sitting in the living room with the blinds shut tight.  Airplane. Airplane! Mama. Airplane.

Yes, Alex.  I love airplanes, too.  One day we will go on one together.  You and Andy will be very big boys, I'm sure, and hopefully it will be your first trip to Disney.  You will buckle yourself in, you won't be carried to your seat, and you will order your own beverage with confidence.  But that's some years in the future, so until then, don't be such a big boy yet.  Okay?

Airplane.  Yes, Alex.  Airplane, too.