Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What's In A Name?!

There seems to be a bit of confusion as to Alexander's name.  Lately, we've been having the same serious conversation with this kid over and over again, and, without fail, it goes like this.

"What's your name?"
"No, your name is Alex.  What's your name?"
"No, that's not right.  What's your name, Alex?"
"NO!  Is your name Alex?"
"Yeah... Andy!"

Like most things, I'd probably just ignore this incorrectly answered question and move on to asking other, more pertinent ones ("Where is the remote control?"  "Why does your FACE smell like PEE?"  "Do you have any blurred vision after falling on your head for the eighth time this week?"  "Did your or did you not lick that ice cube and then put it BACK in my drink?").  But the thing is, Alex is starting two year old preschool in a week, and I fear that his struggles with identifying himself may lead to one of four scenarios:

1. The teacher never being quite clear on who he is.

2. My suffering of parental shame when every other kid in his class is capable of announcing their own name.

3. The director pulling me aside and asking me to carefully recount all of Alex's head injuries for the past week.

4. My payment somehow getting misapplied.

And so I must try my best to drill the name ALEX into little Alex's adorable blond head.  Perhaps a rhyme might do the trick:

A is for Alex, that's super duper YOU!
L is for Lies, like saying you're Andrew!
E is for Empathy, you think this is a game-
X is X-tra candy- if you can say your NAME!


And yet, I wonder how the mix-up occurred in the first place.  Why does Alex think his name is Andy?  I can't quite shake the feeling that Alex believes that Andy is the name of the species to which he belongs.  Surely, Alex might be thinking, every little boy with stinky feet and a penchant for accepting bribes in exchange for barely decent behavior must be an Andy Sapien (which sounds a million times better than what I typed originally, ie., Homo Andy).  Alex doesn't think Andy is a name.  He thinks it's a being.  A creature.  A way of life.  And so, Alex is an Andy, naturally.

Or, Alex is hilariously and intelligently challenging how we perceive and react to the world and our roles within it.  Perhaps he has the soul of a modern day Shakespeare, doth protesting.  "What's in a name?  That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as... Andy."

Of course, "Andy" is the word that Alex happens to say the most.  This is because he is a thoughtful, loving younger sibling.  If I offer Alex anything, he immediately asks for another one for Andy.  If Andy walks out of the room, Alex calls after him, begging to join.  If Alex wakes up and doesn't initially see his big brother, he inquires for him.  If Alex stumbles across an object that belongs to Andy (such as Little Teddy or Daddy's wallet), he identifies Andy as the owner and quickly moves to give him the item in question.  All day long, it's Andy, Andy, Andy.  It is true that Andy is always on the top of Alex's mind.  It's likely true that Alex wants to be Andy.  So when we ask the question, "What is your name?",  maybe it does make a bit of sense that the first name that comes to mind is-


I could psychoanalyze Alex and his Andy-fixation all day.  But the fact remains that we have one week to preschool, and I may likely be resorting to Plan B- having Alex wear a T-shirt onto which I adorn the following phrase in Sharpie.

Hello!  My name is ALEX, and tell your billing department that ALEX'S account is current and up to date!

Now, seriously, Alex.  Did you or did you not lick the ice cube in my drink?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Movie Night!

The other night, when Chris had plans, I decided to let Andy and Alex stay up late.  I called it a "sleepover" and really hyped up the opportunity that I was presenting to them: a chance to come downstairs after bath time and watch a movie with Mommy instead of going to sleep.  They would be up past sundown for the first time since daylight savings began!  And yet they would probably still end up in their beds by the time other kids normally went down, as I know that my strict bedtime of seven-fifteen is probably, especially for Andy, a little ridiculous. But who are you to judge until you've spent all day with these hyper little monsters. I would, however, totally let Andy stay up later every night if not for the fact that Alex won't go to sleep without him.  And so, as history does dictate, the little, more annoying sibling ruins it once again for the older one.  Sorry, Andy.  I can't have that cannonball of a toddler bouncing around the house past seven fifteen.  I do have my sanity to maintain.

I gave Andy the choice of three movies I had found on Netflix streaming.

One:  "The Nut Job."  Animated.  Some squirrel steals nuts or something.  Eh.

Two:  "Free Birds."  Animated.  Time traveling turkeys.  As time traveling is my number one favorite fictional device, this seemed promising, except for the fact it looked incredibly lame.

Three:  "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids."  Please pick this one, Andy.  Non-animated, some CGI.  Haven't seen this one in over twenty years.  Come on, come on, come on, come on....

"Honey, I Bunk The Kids!"  Andy proclaimed after reviewing the three choices.

I was a little worried that "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids" would prove a difficult storyline to follow, but I guess I wasn't giving Andy enough credit and was perhaps giving Walt Disney, Rick Moranis, and friends too much credit.  Andy totally understood what was happening, shrieking out after Rick Moranis swept the shrunken kids into the trash bag and hauled them out TO THE VERY END OF THE YARD.  "How are they going to get back?" Andy demanded.  "Did you see this before when you were a little girl?  Tell me, WHAT HAPPENS?"

Andy remained very concerned the whole movie, his eyes glued to the screen while expressing serious concern over:

When would they get big again!?

Whether or not the kids would be sucked into the lawn mower and chopped to itty bitty pieces during that pivotal lawn mowing screen.

Which kid would get to eat the gigantic marshmallow creme cookie found in the yard.

When would they get big again!?

Could Andy and Alex one day sleep in a giant Lego?

Whether or not that ginormous ant is going to hurt them.

But seriously, when would these kids get big again!?

At the very end, Andy seriously proclaimed to me, "I don't EVER want Daddy to become an inventor."  As if Chris would invent a shrinking machine.  Chris is still working on his "Quesadillas By Mail" idea; this is clearly not the mind of someone who wants to shrink children.

I made popcorn for the kids for our sleepover, and we brought their blankets downstairs to the couch to create a "sleepover" like atmosphere.  Andy and I cuddled and Alex, after shoveling in as much popcorn as possible, decided to walk around throwing his ball, which was mostly fine.  By eight thirty, the movie was over, and the kids looked out the window and into the darkness, shocked by how late it was.  Meanwhile, I'm sure just about all of their friends were still probably awake.  But that's how other families roll.  Around here, we have rules.  Serious rules.  And a lot of wine that can't be responsibly consumed around wide awake children.

I tucked my boys in, and they were out in a matter of moments.  I marveled on how much I had truly enjoyed our evening.  It was something fun for the kids, but I had a great time, too. We will definitely do "sleepover" movie night again.  I vaguely remember a sequel to "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids."  Either that, or we can do my first favorite Rick Moranis movie of all time, "My Blue Heaven."  Andy is ready.  The kid has good taste in flicks.

He did, after all, pass over "Free Birds" and "The Nut Job" without a moment's hesitation.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Airplane Took My Freedom!

As Andy was to buses at this young age, Alex is to airplanes.  He's obsessed with them, calling out "Airplane!" gleefully during car rides when one is spotted.  He commands that I perform Google image searches of "airplane," and one of his first two word linked phrases was a stunned "yellow airplane?" when he spied one on page 15 of said Google image search.  He brings me a pen and paper to draw him pictures of airplanes, and when he saw the Caillou episode when they take their first airplane ride together, he crapped his pants.  The poop may or may not have already been in his pants before the episode started, but that's beside the point.

His fixation on airplanes has lately taken an interesting turn.  Now, when things go missing, he blames airplanes.  Hat Teddy's hat has disappeared, and when I ask Alex where the hat is, he shrugs, points upward, and then says, "Airplane."

"Oh, the airplane took Hat Teddy's hat?"

"Yeah.  Airplane."

"Okay.  Where did the airplane take the hat?"


Various toys have been taken by airplanes as of late, kidnapped into the great blue sky, and these fuzzy, unlikely scenarios have started to bother Andy.  Andy half -listens to Alex's airplane ramblings in the same fashion that Chris half listens to about half of what I say (which means 25% of my words are basically gone into the nether, the classic logic riddle of a tree falling and some husband on a computer not currently located in the woods).  One day, though, after Alex innocently blamed an airplane on a missing pair of socks, Andy burst out:

"Really, Alex?  You really think an airplane flew INTO THE HOUSE and took your SOCKS?  I don't think so!"

Andy then went on to detail all of the flaws in this half-cocked notion.  How did the airplane get in the house? Wouldn't we have heard it?  And for the love of Pete, what would an airplane want with some stinky socks anyway?

To which Alex replied, after Andy had completely exhausted his breath:  "Airplane.  Sky. Gone."


It seems that I have returned to the work force.  It is only a couple days a week, about fourteen hours a week, and this new little job holds the promise of paying a couple bills and allowing us to save up a little cash.  Although, I feel funny calling it a new job.  A long time ago, I worked for this company, which I will call Glen's.  Glen's was the job I took when I started college, and I worked there for a couple years after college as well.  It was a six year stint that ended ten years ago, and now I'm back, a decade older, a decade wiser, a decade older, a decade later, a decade older.  Did I mention a decade older?

Glen's was a fun job.  I mean, the industry itself isn't very fun, but I made a lot of great friends there back in the day, and when I think of my years there, I think of working until nine and then going out afterwards.  I think of all the ridiculous antics I had there and with the people from there, and now it seems strange and yet somehow fitting to return ten years later.  Now I'm the part time mom working there, observing all the young ones who were once me.  It's a juxtaposition that both bothers and delights me, although I honestly can't give you the percentages on those feelings.

I think I'm going to be happy working there.  I'm going to miss one weekend day and two bedtimes with my boys, but I know I am still oh so lucky to be able to spend most of my time with them.  And now when the store closes at eight (my current location has much better hours than my former one), I will be rushing home to peek in on my sons as opposed to rushing out to hang with my co-workers.  Although there may be some of that, too, who knows.  I remembered the moms who worked with us at Glen's back in the day (my day). And most of them were pretty cool.  Just like I'm pretty cool and not at all some old fogey who is astonished by all of the new technology.  Note to self.  Stop acting so astonished by the new technology.  And use the word "amazeballs," young people love that word.  Never mind, forget the amazeballs thing, you're old, not retarded.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions!

Andy and Alex know that I existed before they did.  They (or at least Andy) is clear on that much.  I have told them the stories of how they were born.  Mommy had a baby in her belly, and one day she went to the hospital, and the doctor took the baby out.  The baby cried and cried until Mommy got to hold the baby. Then the baby stopped crying, and Mommy looked down and said, "I love this baby soo much! I'm going to name this baby Andy/Alex."  A couple times, Andy has asked, "But how did the doctor get the baby out?"  To which I smartly replied, "I don't know, Andy.  You'll have to ask a doctor."

I anticipate more questions about my pre-parenthood life as the kids grow up. Just for fun, here are some answers that I've decided to pre-record.

How did you and Daddy meet?

Well, Andy and Alex, when a girl reaches the ripe old age of 22 and starts to get worried about her declining youth and fertility, she finds herself turning to the solace of the internet to find a mate.  First she buys a lamp on eBay, then she looks for a man.  She can keep the eBay window minimized while she surfs potential husbands.  Daddy and I met online.  I was looking at profiles, and I immediately liked Daddy's.  We had the same favorite movie, The Big Lebowski, and, if I'm being honest, that was a huge deciding factor.  We exchanged emails and eventually met for sushi.  I knew right away that we would fall in love.  Daddy had an excellent sense of humor.  Always date and marry people who can make you laugh.  Also, it helps if they're rich.  Daddy wasn't, but hopefully he's making excellent choices with his 401K.

What was your first job?

Oh my God, it was the worst first job.  I worked at the McDonald's Playplace as a Playplace Ranger.  That title doesn't even exist anymore because it was a stupid, pointless job.  That's 1996 for you, though- what a thriving economy.  They were giving the money away!  I supervised kids in the Playplace section of the McDonalds.  I occasionally cleaned up a little.  One time, something terrible happened in one of the tunnels, and I had to clean up pee, poop, AND vomit.  It was awful.  I eventually switched over to the McDonald's counter where I did a lot more work for the same pay but didn't have to deal with AS MANY bodily fluids.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer.  I always wanted to be a writer.  Not a blog writer, but a novelist.  I wanted to be a writer so bad it made my fingers twitch when I wasn't typing away on the cheap little word processor I had in my bedroom.  I used to write down names and places and ideas and potential titles.  Yes, I still want to be a writer, but I haven't written anything besides blog entries in over a decade.  It might be too late for me.  Oh, also, I thought forensics sounded cool.  And by the time I graduated college, I decided that a two year training program in something like X-Ray Technology probably would have been the smartest career path of all. Stupid, useless liberal arts degree.

Did you ever get an F in school?

I spectacularly failed Calculus.  I don't know why I just didn't drop the class, but I kept going and all I did was sleep and doodle in my notebook while trying to fake a "thoughtful" look.  I hated math.  They kept putting me in the advanced math classes, and I never felt like I had proper footing.  Finally, by the time I was a senior in high school, I gave up all pretenses.  So, yes, I did get an F.  But just that one.

This 17 year old girl is about to fail Calculus.

Did you always know you wanted kids?

Eh.  Not really.  I never really baby-sat as a teenager, and the couple times I did, I had to restrain myself from beating those little brats.  So, no, I did not have this overwhelming urge to procreate until very abruptly when I was twenty-nine.  My friend Gail recently put it best.  "Jackie is very good with her boys," she told her mother-in-law,  "Which I find surprising, because I never thought she'd have the patience for motherhood."  I LOVE being a mother.  It is the best, most wonderful thing I have done with my life.  But, yes, the unequivocal amount of joy it has given me has been slightly surprising.

What kind of extracurricular activities did you participate in as a child?

None.  Zero.  Zip.  I was in a play once because my friend Dan took pity on me and gave me a small part when he was student director.  I went to one yearbook meeting.  Not interested.  I wrote one article for the school paper.  Not so much interested in that, either.  I didn't like sports.  I never learned to play an instrument.  I think I did literary magazine in junior high, but that was more of an opportunity for me and my friend Chrissy to goof around and delay going home after school.  Oh, but I did take Driver's Ed.  That counts, right?  And, yes, as the IL DMV can attest, I am a superb driver! (Class D restrictions, 20/40 vision).