Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Alex Sucks At Swim Lessons!

Andy and Alex started swim lessons this week.  Andy is doing great.  There is no story about Andy and swim lessons other than how adorable he is scuttling off to the diving board to ensure that he gets to be first in line.  But, Alex, on the other hand.  Oh, Alex.

One of these boys is about to get banned
from the park district.
I was afraid that it would be hard to get three kids out of the house in time to make our 9:10 swim lesson each day, but turns out all I had to do was just set an alarm.  Boom.  We're on time.  It's not easy to wake up at 7:00 am when you've been up every three or four hours and the baby is still fast asleep when that clock starts buzzing, but kids need to swim, and so we do it.  I haul all three of them to the park district, and Andy runs off with his class, and then there's Alex in the preschool swim group.  And to my great chagrin, he is the worst kid in the class.

I'd like to think it's because he's bored, because he knows how to go under water and has advanced swimming skills already and so he finds pouring a cup of water on his head while singing "This is the way we wash our hair, wash our hair, wash our hair" completely asinine.  But I've always thought the "my kid is so smart he's bored" excuse to be pretty weak.  Sure, he's smart.  But is he POLITE?  Can he follow direction?  No.  Alex is not polite.  He refuses to give his swim instructor a high five because he says he doesn't like her.  And he certainly doesn't follow direction, staring critically at his teacher, unmoving, while the rest of the kids just pour the water on their heads like they're supposed to it.  I mean, just do it.  Just f-ing do it.

There's more to Alex's class than cups of water.  There's kickboards, fetching swim rings, kicking while holding on to the side of the pool, etc.  Alex is interested in practically none of it.  He gets out of the pool on his own, wanders off to do his own thing, and is an altogether embarrassment.  If not for obedient, eager Andy on the other side of the pool, I'd feel that Alex were bringing shame to the Berger name.  We are a family of GOOD LISTENERS, dammit. Of achievers!  I took AP Calculus in high school for Pete's sake!  Of course, I failed it.  Calculus is hard, yo!  Pretty sure Chris passed it, though, so the genes are definitely there.

Alex's swim class has three swim instructors for about eight or nine kids.  Alex, because he is so disobedient, essentially has one teacher assigned just to wrangling him.  To following him out of the pool when he decides he's too cold or that his swim trunks need to be readjusted or when he's ready to go find his brother.  "Andy!  Andy!  Here I am, Andy!"

Today, he seemed a little better.  I watched him shuffle reluctantly through the pool to find one of the swim rings, and when the teacher announced that today they were going to jump off the diving board, Alex's ears perked up, and he climbed out of the pool, ready and willing to dive to certain doom.  He ran to the diving board, feet pounding over the NO RUNNING words transcribed on the pavement. He got in and out of line at the diving board (calling out "Hi Andy!" over and over again to Andy who was already at the deep end.)  And then he got on the diving board, almost slipped right off, starting jumping in the middle of it, and eventually bumbled into a great big splash into the lifeguard's arms.  Or at least near them.

Success.  Kind of.

Alex was proud of himself for jumping off the diving board.  Andy was proud of Alex, which was even more important.  Emily was fast asleep in her stroller, blissfully unaware.  And I was wedged into tiny little short shorts that were baggy on me last summer, remarking to my friend that they were tight in all the wrong places and that I was finding it hard to focus.

After swim lessons, we hit the splash pad where Alex stole some kid's ball.  With a week or so of swim lessons left, I hope that Alex hits his stride and starts listening to his teachers a little better. And that he doesn't injure himself goofing off on the diving board.  If not, maybe I'll cop out and say that his bad behavior is because he's sooo bored.  Or I'll just admit that my second born son is a little shit that doesn't respect authority and can't follow simple direction. Although I won't actually call him a shit, as that would also be in poor taste.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Alex Is Turning Three!

Alex turns three tomorrow!  He was to be my last baby, and here we are three years later with Alex already firmly planted into his position as "middle child" and our new addition, the picture perfect definition of Little Sister.  Now, if for some reason, I am writing about Emily turning three in three years and there's ANOTHER baby in that role, then let me be the first to admit that something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.  But, in this case, things are horribly right.  I mean, wonderfully right.  And Alex, since the arrival of Emily, is suddenly back to his old self.  I would like to qualify that last statement by saying that that's a good thing.

Alex's behavior up until Emily's birth was awful.  Then something magical happened.  We brought home that little sister, and suddenly I feel like Alex is okay again.  He is back to being my good, sweet, albeit mischievous little boy.  Now, how does that make any sense?  Bringing home a new baby is supposed to instill chaos and disruption into the lives of young children.  And yet, Emily has calmed the chaos, and now Alex (and Andy) have seemingly stepped up their game.  They love their sister. For Andy, that's the understatement of the year.  Andy loves Emily so much, it borders on obsession. In fact, Andy is so concerned with Emily's well-being that he's now convinced himself that I, as the mother, am not good enough to take care of the new princess in the house.  "Put the brake on the stroller!" Andy yells if I step away from the stroller without engaging the brake.  "Where's her binky? I think she needs a bottle.  Keep your hand on her blanket, woman, IT'S GOING TO BLOW AWAY!"  Andy's conversations with Emily are rather entertaining as well.  The other day, Chris heard Andy explaining the family to Emily (that he was the biggest brother, etc).  There was a little bit of mumbling, and then Chris heard him continue, "And also Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars."  So he went from basic family hierarchy to astronomy.

Which brings me back to Alex, who listens more than we ever give him credit.  Last night, Andy brought up the planets again (obviously a huge topic around our house for some reason) and asked Chris if Pluto was a planet.  To which little Alex replied, almost under his breath, "No, because it's too little."  Nobody's ever explained the planets to Alex.  But the kid listens, and nothing is more entertaining than when he betrays an understanding to something that we had falsely assumed was way over his head.  This is something we probably do too much of- teaching Andy something while assuming Alex isn't old enough to understand.  But hey.  Children are born, mistakes are made.

Happy birthday to one of the cutest kids I know.
Alex is also an excellent older brother to the baby, singing to her (almost in a panic) if he hears her cry.  He begs to feed her bottles and also proudly introduces her to strangers.  (We are still working on the stranger danger thing, but sometimes it's true- a stranger's just a friend you haven't met!  Or someone who may want to kidnap you and sell you on the black market, but really, what are the odds of that happening?) Alex has been sweeter than usual lately, and I can honestly say there is zero jealousy factor. It works. For example, at night when we read our books, Emily curls in my lap, Andy sits to my left, and Alex cuddles under my right arm, just like always.  The adjustments thus far have been minor.

And so I wish Alex, the baby who is no longer the baby, the happiest of third birthdays.  Alex, you were a smiley infant, basically right from your first week at home.  You are still smiley.  You love to tell jokes and make us laugh with your ballet, which is essentially a very subtle butt wiggle that somehow kills it every time.  Your favorite movie is currently "Home Alone 2, Lost in New York," which we have watched no less than sixty times.  When we went to the zoo a couple weeks ago, we discovered that your favorite animal is the "little panda bear."  You're lucky, too, having won  $250 in Superbowl squares earlier this year and then a freaking bike in a raffle last month.  "I won one bike," you told people matter-of-factly.  Just one.  No more than one, and no less.  I, on the other hand, have never won a raffle in my entire life.  Not that I'm jealous of your one bike or anything, but I'd love to win some cash now and then.

I digress.  Alex, I am so proud of the boy you've become, and I'm glad you seem happy again.  I guess you just needed to see that Mommy wasn't gaining all that weight for nothing.  I know, I know, it made me upset, too.  Now I just need my abdomen muscles to reconnect and to be able to get my fat ass back into my old jeans and then we will ALL be happy.

I love you, kid.  I really hope you like your gift tomorrow morning.  Spoiler alert.  It's walkie talkies. Because a year ago, you hardly said anything at all, and now you know all about the planets and have a lot of information to spread, more than we assume, I'm sure.

Over and out.

Friday, June 5, 2015

She's Here!

And so it seems that the system starts to break down when the third child is ready to arrive.  The nurses basically leave you alone for your entire hospital stay, and not even the doctor seems to really take it seriously.  "I was in the shower when the nurse said you were ready," my own doctor said, strolling into my delivery room with wet hair. "Let's get this baby out before my conditioner needs to be rinsed."

Chris was unfazed by the entire ordeal as well.  At one point, the nurse had her whole arm up my birth canal while Chris stood less than three feet away casually mixing cream and sugar into his coffee.  When Dr. Straight-From-The-Shower showed up, he stood off to the side eating a granola bar and silently doing the math on how soon we could check out of the hospital if the baby was born in the next ten minutes.  Jackie could be home in time to cook us dinner tomorrow, I heard him think.

I had my elective induction.  I made it!  However, when we got to the hospital, it was discovered that I was actually already having contractions one minute apart.  One minute!  I wasn't even registering these contractions.  If I'd been home, I'd have gone grocery shopping.  This is just further evidence of the constant level of the stress in my life.  I'm basically always in some state of tensing and untensing, just trying to survive.

The boys and Baby Sister
Emily was born quickly.  She popped out into the world and then cried inconsolably for 90 minutes. She was so loud and screamy that I began to wonder if maybe I'd made a grave mistake.  Of course, as the day wore on and my rating on the pain scale shifted from three to four to three to four, I decided that no mistakes were made.  Emily is the most beautiful girl baby I have ever laid eyes on. Everything about her is fine and delicate, from her long little fingers to the gentleness of her dark eyes. She is sweet, loves to cuddle, and is exceptionally accepting of her clumsy, bear paw handed older brothers.  She is absolutely perfect, and I am in baby heaven for the third time.

Andy can't stop professing his love for her, and Alex has his own ways of showing that he cares, namely commanding that I sing "Rock a Bye Baby" to her every time she cries.  Alex calls her Baby Sister, Andy calls her Emily, Chris experimented with Em-n-Em, and I just call her The Perfect, No Longer Missing, Piece.  Also Emmy, Stinkface, and Buddy.  Sorry about the Buddy thing, I'm used to boys.  I will not apologize for Stinkface.