Thursday, June 16, 2016

The One Armed Boy Is Turning Four!

Alex is turning four in less than a week!  He will accomplish this task with the use of only one arm and hand as he has broken his left elbow and will need to spend the first half of the summer in a heavy blue cast.

Of course it's Alex who is the first to break a bone.  This is the kid who is perpetually covered in bumps, scabs, and band-aids, the only one to ever be rushed to the ER due to a bleeding head wound, and the only one to ever undergo surgery (granted, the anal fistula wasn't really his fault- or was it?). It is Alex, the one Chris and I are constantly telling to "Stop bumbling around!"  He is so clumsy, so stupidly fearless, so full of tangible mischief that manifests into injury and/or broken items.

I hate that I have issued a warning to these boys for the past three years that has now come true.  "Stop fooling around because if you break your arm you'll have the worst summer ever!  No swimming, no bike riding, no JOY."  And now we are living that prophecy, and I fear part of it might be my own self-fulfilling fault.

Actually, no.  It's Alex's fault.  How did he break his arm you ask?  Let me relay this conversation that he had with a girl at Andy's baseball game.

Ava:  How did you break your arm?

Alex:  Well, I did a super jump off a chair and I fell and I broke my arm.

Ava:  That's what happened to my grandma!

Alex:  Your grandma did a super jump?

Ava:  No, she didn't do the super jump.  But she fell and broke her arm.

No more super jumps are allowed in this house, ever.  Of course, Chris and I weren't around for the super jump, and I have the firm belief that the idiotic exuberance that went into this showy super jump would not have occurred had the baby-sitter not been here.  The boys were excited that she was here, showing off for her while Chris and I were away and- whoops.  Broken elbow.

Chris had to take Alex to the ER (along with Andy and Emily) when he got home from work.  I was at my own part-part-part time job, and when Chris finally called me (after an admittedly long stretch of hemming and hawing and packing the diaper bag and figuring out the car seat situation in his car that does not actually accommodate all of our children and then waiting out a freight train on the way to the ER), there was calm resignation to his voice.  Still, it was not a good call to get at work.  "We are on our way to the emergency room."  Ugh.

Is it wrong that my first reaction to the news was undeniably anger?  God dammit, Alex.  If you guys weren't constantly screwing around, this would never have happened.  What the hell is wrong with you?  You are not allowed to jump off of furniture!  You have ruined the summer.  Why aren't you capable of just SITTING STILL?

That reaction softened considerably when I finally got home and looked down at the face of my youngest son, which was so defeated and miserable.  It was the saddest I had ever seen Alex.  He was in pain and he understood the horrible consequences.  I never want to see that look again.  Alex is usually so full of happiness and laughter- it killed me a little to see him so downtrodden and sorrowful.

Chris seems to think that Alex, upon hearing the doctor pronounce his arm broken, truly believed that he was being told his arm was permanently broken- that it would never work again.  That it was like that remote control car that I tossed into the trash after deeming it beyond repair.  Yep, this is your arm.  It's broken now.  We're tripling up on your screen time since that's basically all you can do now, for the rest of your life.

I have, actually, underestimated how little Alex can do beyond the basic fun, playing stuff.  The other night, I handed him a fun size Snickers bar for dessert and walked away.  After about three minutes of silence, he finally whimpered, "Mommy?  Can you unwrap my candy bar?"  Oops.  Yeah, sure can.  I have two working hands, let me do that for you.  Yesterday, he wanted to work on an art project.  I watched him drag out some paper one-handed and then try to shake the glue stick hard enough to pop off the cap.  Oh, Alex.  Let me help.  Or turn on the TV.  Your choice.

He can't dress himself, use the bathroom alone, and do any number of other tasks.  Bathing is another issue.  After triple bagging his arm, rubber banding the top, and screaming at him not to pour water on it, I've come to the conclusion that Alex is simply getting wiped with a wet wash cloth for the next three to four weeks.  I'm not about to deal with what to do if his cast gets wet.  The doctor told me I can try to dry it with a blow-dryer should he get water in it, but I am certainly not qualified to be reshaping a cast on my own.  Just check out the shoddily patched walls in my bathroom.  I am not a DIYer.

Oh, Alex.  I am sorry that you are in a cast as you approach your fourth birthday.  I am sorry that your birthday present is Batman legos that you will not really be able to play with.  But I want you to know how much I love you, how much you make me smile and laugh, how incredibly unique and lovable you are.  Sure, you infuriate me.  Let's just get that out there.  Sure, I wanted to shake you when I heard about the super jump.  But Alex, you are an amazing kid, and you're so very special. But if I ever see you gear up to do another super jump- we're going to have a problem.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Andy the Baseball Player!

I was in softball when I was a kid.  It didn't go well.  I am sure this memory isn't accurate- at least I hope this memory isn't accurate- but when the coach (ie, unqualified parent volunteer) handed out awards at the end of the season (six random weeks), I strongly recall my award saying "Nice Try."  Like, at least you showed up.  Congratulations for not being late to the games.  You suck, though. Seriously.  Don't darken this field with your clumsy hands again.

There's some mumbling about Chris having played baseball as a kid.  I think he may have hated it.  Or loved it but wasn't good.  Or was really good but got atomic wedgies while waiting for his at bat.  Something about his baseball career wasn't illustrious, I just can't remember what.  But baseball (or softball), it's just one of those rites of passage in the childhood tunnel to early adulthood.  It's between getting told there are starving children in Africa and going on a ferris wheel.

Andy is almost done with his first season (eight random weeks) of baseball.  The whole thing is quite adorable.  There are three innings.  Every child bats and runs to first base, and nobody wins or loses. The coach throws about five pitches and then they bring out a tee if needed. They play on a miniature field and get to be on teams with a color in its name.  Blue Lake Monsters! Tan Tigers!  Red Knee Scabs!  Green With Envy!  You know, that sort of thing.  I have to bring up the color because so much of our first week was wondering if we'd received the right color uniform on pick-up day.  In fact, much of my own parental stress has been related to the uniform.  Andy kept losing his hat.  I wondered aloud why so many kids were wearing their uniforms to practice.  And then when Andy wore his uniform to practice and nobody else did, I wondered the reverse aloud.  I had to google what "cleats" were.  And I asked Chris, "Do you think he needs a... cup?"  I asked this while making a cupping motion with my right hand, classy-like.

While I've been obsessed with uniform issues, Andy's mostly concerned about the food aspect. Being introduced to Gatorade has changed his life.  Alex's too, really.  They are obsessed with it, with the colors that are available and just how damn delicious it is.  I personally didn't realize Gatorade was a "sports" drink, I always thought it was just a "stomach flu" drink.  Again, back to the Nice Try world of sporting activity.  I overhear Andy on the bench discussing what color/flavor of Gatorade everyone has today.  I nervously watch Alex, who hangs around nearby (not in cleats, a uniform, or any kind of cup) as he glugs his weight in red liquid.  It's a big thing, this Gatorade stuff.  But then, at the end of the game- there's a SNACK.  It's not nutritious.  In fact, one day it was Laffy Taffy. LAFFY TAFFY! As a snack!  After a sport!  Who are these slacking mothers?  When it was my turn to bring snack, I brought protein bars and orange slices!  Oh wait, no I didn't.  It was cookies.  I gave in, I got cookies.

The best thing about snack is Alex, who is not on the team but has the uncanny ability to hear a parent crinkling open a bag of snacks from about thirty yards away.  Alex comes running as fast as he can at the first notion of snack, sneaking his way into line and getting himself a free, undeserved snack every single time.  I would make more of an effort to stop him if I didn't already feel bad for him.  Andy gets to be in baseball.  Alex gets to just stand around.  

So how is Andy at baseball?  Well, I'll be honest.  I think he might be up for the Nice Try award.  The problem is that his little heart just doesn't seem to be in it.  He always looks on the brink of tears when he's up to bat.  I think the pressure might be getting to him, even though the pressure is zero to none.  He is much better out in the field, where he will dash clear across the field to try and catch the ball, all but tackling the other children for the chance just to touch it.  So, he's a hustler.  Chris and I ask him to practice batting at home, but his interests lie elsewhere.  As in, anywhere but there.  One day I gave him the choice between practicing batting for ten minutes or doing fifteen minutes of math.  Cut to the next scene, where he's hunched over two pages of subtraction problems.  He does not like to practice ball.  Part of him (perhaps most of him) has already written this whole thing off.

But I haven't.  I think we should stay the course.  He should proudly see it through this season and hopefully sign up next season, when cups might actually be required.  I make this commitment even though the league made us buy candy bars and sell them, which infuriated me beyond belief.  I do not like the thought of my children being little salesmen.  I don't like duping friends and family for cash. This is why we just paid for the bars and then spent the month of May slowly eating them all. Chris gained ten pounds.  I still look fabulous.

Play ball, Andy.  Play ball, and have fun. Put a smile on your face. And, yes, I will get some yellow Gatorade tomorrow before the game.