Saturday, June 25, 2005
Ever have one of those days, rough day or quiet day, and you look at another person and the both of you laugh? The good, emotion releasing, belly shaking, can’t catch a breath, kind of laugh? My husband and I indulged ourselves several times today over the silliest events and it felt wonderful.
First, my husband asked our son to run to Wal-Mart to buy a new pool filter. I chimed in, teasing, saying that I was positive he’d been upstairs anxiously wishing we’d ask him to drive to Wally World for us. Instead of laughing he looked puzzled and said, “Wally World? I thought you wanted me to go to Wal-Mart.” I looked at him to see if he was serious and then glanced at my husband. My husband did the same and then we both began to laugh. It took a couple minutes to get a grip and fill in the gap in his education that Wally World and Wal-Mart were one and the same. My son didn’t bat an eye at our hyginks, he’s used to our laughing fits.
A couple minutes later I was explaining to my husband that it has been hard for me to not give in and answer the kids when they ask the inevitable question over and over, “Where are you going?” As my husband grew up, his mother’s standard answer was, “To see a man about a horse. And if we’re lucky, he’ll let you ride him.” It’s kinda like the standard response to what does that taste like? At our house we all know to answer “Chicken”. Anyway, my kids grew up with these little funnies but my grandchildren have not, so I’ve tried to refrain from responding to four little voices asking where are we going with, “To see a man about a horse” because they wouldn’t understand and then I’d have to answer 75 more questions about where is the man with the horse. A couple minutes later we were all in the front yard and my son walked out, keys in hand, for his trip to Wal-Mart. “Where are you going,” four voices asked. “To see a man about a horse,” my son answered without missing a beat. Off again, we laughed until we cried. The younger kids gazed at us in puzzlement while we laughed ourselves silly. They never did remember to ask about the man with the horse.
Shortly thereafter, I decided to search out the staples needed for the power stapler so I could tack the Beware of Dog sign back on our gate. Found the stapler and staples with no problem, but couldn’t figure out how to put the staples in. I knew it was simple, I’ve even done it before, but my mind had a stapler glitch and I finally took the open stapler in to my husband who looked at me in disbelief and then mischief and put the staples in. I started to laugh, “I’m going to pay for this, aren’t I? You’re going to tell Morgan, aren’t you?” “You betcha,” he replied with glee. Forget mascara, I’d laughed it all off by then wiping the laughter tears away.
I could go on because the silliness lasted all day long. We must’ve needed to let loose from the high voltage life we are currently leading. Having the kids is a wonderful blessing but in addition, the stress level hits the roof regularly. They are learning an entirely new lifestyle with new people and we are still reeling over the change from parents of older children experiencing some well earned freedom to parents of our 2 children still at home and 4 younger children with zero freedom or free time. The silly laughter let us enjoy our time together even though we were surrounded by small bodies asking serious questions like “Where are we going?”
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Playing and lazing
Best prayer to date from my 3 year old grandson as he looked with resignation at the dreaded broccoli on his plate, “Dear God. Thank you for ketchup.”
As I grew up, I informed my mother more than once that I didn’t plan to get married but I would like to have 6 children. To be funny, I’d say, “I’ll keep them in my closet until I get older.” Now I have 6 children living in my house and I find myself sometimes looking up at God and muttering, “Not funny, God.” Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.
I am not usually a person who spends time discussing poop, but I’d like to mention that I suddenly find myself surrounded by it. In addition to daily messy diapers, regular discussion with my 3 year old grandson who is currently fascinated with what he emits from his body into the toilet, I clean the backyard of ongoing doggy diarrhea by scooping it up with my handy dandy pooper scooper and rinsing the area with the hose so the kids won’t step in the gross residue in the grass. Now the birds are after me. Cleaning the backyard I noticed that while the trampoline remains clean the bright blue cover over the trampoline springs seems to attract bird doo. They have the entire neighborhood in which to leave their deposits but I find myself scrubbing several white blotches off the blue tarp around the trampoline each day. Enough!
Sunday Evening (Aaaah, kids in bed and I turn into a living, thinking individual again.)
Four men dressed in black
A while ago I was selecting a CD to play and noticed these two sitting side by side. They each feature four men, sexy, masculine, handsome in their own ways, dressed in black but the messages they send are completely different. I enjoy both CD’s with their diverse kinds of music and marvel at their excellence. The Highwaymen was produced in 1994 and it lacks the polished voices and acoustics of Il Divo; however, the songs make me feel like they are supposed to - four musicians hanging out, singing songs that they love. I feel their enjoyment in the music and it sparks joy in me. Il Divo – polished, sophisticated, passionate – sing with such expression that the music pulls emotion out of me even though I don’t understand all the words. Four men dressed in black, exceedingly good at what they do. If I walked into a room and saw The Highwaymen at one table and Il Divo at another, which group would draw me first?
Out of curiosity, I took the CD’s to work and asked several people, “If you walked into a room and saw both groups of men, with which group would you want to sit and have a conversation?” Except for one person, each said they would sit with The Highwaymen because of their age, because they looked more accessible, because they would be more fun. The one exception answered immediately that she’d sit with Il Divo because the other guys looked like they were on drugs. We laughed and she admitted that she knew it wasn’t a fair assumption. My first thought sent me to The Highwaymen’s table because they look like they’d been rode hard, put up wet more than once and lived to tell the tale. In other words, they looked more likely to have good stories to tell. Il Divo, while exceedingly hot in the looks department, would be fun to dance with, but I don’t know about hanging out. Maybe it’s my age. I feel young, but experience counts in my book.
So what, you may be wondering, does this have to do with anything? Umm, it doesn’t. I was just curious what other people thought. If you walked into a room and saw The Highwaymen at one table and Il Divo at another, which group would draw you first? And why?
An open palm
On my computer desk I have a picture taped along the top of the hutch of Jesus’ open hand, laid against the cross with the nail about to be driven through. It’s a screen cap from the movie “The Passion of the Christ” that I had printed in picture form. His dirty, abused, open hand reaches inside me and connects each time I see it. I look at the picture and am awed that Jesus didn’t helplessly endure the pain inflicted upon him, he allowed it. During the movie, Jesus didn’t resist – not by word, deed, expression, posture or hint of body language. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the movie is how the body language of each person expressed the events taking place, from Jesus’ acceptance of his death on the cross, to the guards’ hostility, to the confusion felt by observers over what was happening. Jesus didn’t just lay his open palm out for the nails to be driven through, he allowed his entire life to be an open palm. How did he do that? Can I possibly attempt such a feat?
Have you ever thought about how often your fingers or the back of your hands receive the small cuts, scratches, scrapes, etc. during the course of daily living? A lot more than the palms of your hands, I bet. We automatically seem to protect the tender, insides of our hands. When I think about gestures and body language, an open palm expression is a rarity in everyday life. Hands up, either over our heads or held out in front of us mean surrender, helplessness, asking, entreating, offering, resignation, acceptance, prayer – not always easy, comfortable, everyday emotions.
I work at being a Christian (some days more successfully than others), but many closed off spaces exist inside of me. Friendly, yes. Caring, yes. Empathetic, sympathetic, yes. But open, no. I try hard, while my self-protecting insides insist on slamming doors and double bolting the locks. Think about any situation, person, or even words that make you uncomfortable or hit your anger buttons. There’s a closed door, a closed hand. Knowing about the locked doors or tightly closed fist helps, though sometimes it takes me years to unravel the locks and crack them open, to open up my hand and hold it palm up.
The different internal levels of emotional involvement between acquaintances, friends and good friends would take eons to discuss. Like most people very few folks are allowed far enough in to have the power to hurt me. So I really, really have to work at opening the internal doors because sometimes it hurts and it’s dang sure not comfortable. But then there’s that picture of Jesus’ hand that reminds me to work through the pain, open my hand, my insides, and refuse to accept the boundaries of my internal comfort zones. It’s an ongoing, lifetime self improvement project.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Digging in the dirt
Her little mind was twisting and turning as she watched the kids pretend to bake and eat cake out of the dirt they were raking with their play garden tools. She’d watch them and then look closely at the dirt in her hand. I knew she’d succumb to temptation and taste the dirt. The kids were saying one thing while her mind was telling her no way the grey sandy stuff in her hand was cake. Without interrupting, I watched her turn over the information in her mind. Distracted for a second, I admired Destini’s scraped elbow from riding her bike and Tryniti chose that moment to put her fistful of dirt into her mouth so the warning I’d planned to deliver at the appropriate moment never made it out of my mouth. Dirt mixed with spit and became mud all down her chin as she learned for herself that pretend cake does NOT taste nummy. Her expression said it all and the lesson was learned. I took her a cup of water and showed her how to rinse out her mouth.
Thursday, June 24, 2005
Bone to pick
One of those eyes is not like the other. One of those eyes isn’t the same. A unique form of pink eye swept through my house this week. It came in an innocent looking package called “Sequin Splendor” real make up for little girls. The two oldest girls looooooved the stuff and they covered their eyes, cheeks, lips, fingernails and toenails with pink goo. Tryniti, of course, itched to get her little hands on the make up wands and one pink eye is the result of her personal makeover.
All I have to say is that I better never find myself in the same room with the maker of this stuff because it could get ugly. Lifting my glass to the creators of children’s makeup, may your days be filled with waxy goo and your nights filled with the nightmare of cleaning the stuff up.
Not that I am harboring bad feelings or anything…….
Each night I crawl into bed
and do a mental inventory of who is sleeping where. It’s the last
conscious thought process I remember. If one of my children is spending
the night away or not home yet, I have to conquer the fission of tension
that coils in my gut. I like my chicks at home safe and sound though I
know I can’t wrap them up in cotton and never let them out. It’s not that
I don’t trust them (mostly I know what they are capable of handling) but I
definitely don’t trust the rest of the world. I not naïve, believing that
my children can do no wrong, how could I be with my oldest son walking on
the wild side of life, but I try to trust them to the extent that they
have shown me they can be trusted. Anyway, now I have a moment of panic
thinking that there are six breathing bodies that I am responsible for
hopefully, sleeping peacefully in their beds. Six souls and bodies sounds
so much bigger than the two I’ve been raising for so long. Big gulp,
breath deep, don’t panic!
Friday, June 24, 2005
Dipping my toes in reality
Nothing like a serving humiliation for brunch. My Aunt called and said she’d be over in an hour. No problem, the kids were up and fed, kitchen and living room clean. Two kids to dress and I really needed a shower. Since I’d been cleaning all morning, I was still in my pajamas (baggy Capri pants with a big t-shirt of my husband’s), hair hanging in my face. 25 minutes later, my Aunt knocked at my door looking summer fresh in her sandals, shorts and matching top to visit and meet the children. I felt like the cartoon version of the overwhelmed mom who can’t manage to dress herself. Of course, my Aunt understood and really, it wasn’t a big deal - just a little something to keep me humble. Maybe I’ll go by and visit her later because I look great now, a couple hours and a shower later.
Today I bought a lottery ticket and I know just what to do if I win. I am going to go hire my own super nanny to assist me and give me parenting pointers. Reality shows are not my thing. To me, they’re like a sleazy Geraldo talk show dressed up for prime time. That being said, the other night I was making dinner and the “Super Nanny” show came on. I found myself standing in front of the television watching her teach parents about the “timeout step”. Guess what? Her methods work better than mine. I’ve always used time outs and explained in a calm voice what behavior was unacceptable, but I never set a specific amount of time for the time out or followed through by making the child apologize for their bad behavior. So this week, timeouts include a time limit, I make sure to explain the wrong behavior and tell them what constitutes good behavior and if an apology is warranted they make one. Maybe next week she’ll address kicking, screaming temper tantrums which my 3 year old grandson tends to indulge in. Maybe next week I’ll be floating in millions and I can ask Super Nanny to come and show me more tips. But don’t expect to see me on TV while she’s here.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
The snafus of childhood
At least three times in the last couple days Marcus has bitten his own finger when he shoved food into his mouth refusing to use his fork. Each time he turns agonized, disbelieving eyes to me and lets loose with a howl of pain. Tonight, after the third finger bite, I walked over to him, put the fork in his hand and told him emphatically to use it without commenting on the smarting fingers. It was time for him to learn from the mistake.
Similarly, Tryniti loves to
twirl in circles until she tips over in dizziness. Naturally, unmonitored
tipping involves landing on items without any cush. Tears flow. Another
favorite activity, bouncing on the bed, results in me exasperatedly
ordering them to stop because, invariably, during a romping bed bounce one
or another hits the wall or floor with a tear producing thump and bump.
When will the lesson be learned that while the initial behavior is fun,
the consequences tend to hurt? At what point do I stop rushing to the
rescue? When do I stop reminding Marcus to “eat with your fork”, Tryniti
to “be careful, you’re going to fall” and all of them to “stop bouncing on
the bed, it’s bad for the bed and they could hurt themselves”? I guess
I’ll answer my own questions. I’ll remind them until they remember to use
the fork, to twirl in an open space, and stop bouncing on the beds.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Turning on a dime
Each morning this week we packed up and headed out of the house by 9 a.m. for 3-1/2 hours of vacation bible school at church. Three of the kids were enrolled with the youngest staying in the nursery and my daughter assisting in a class. I helped with the large kindergarten class (25 kids) and each morning I wondered what I was thinking to volunteer to help. I swear I need a keeper to monitor my impulses. I could have had 3-1/2 hours each morning to myself but no, I had to sign on and hang out with my crew. Actually, I enjoyed myself once I smacked myself around each morning.
The kids enjoyed themselves as long as I dropped them off and ran out of sight. Marcus, in particular, had a hard time. At 3 years old after being shipped from pillar to post with an ever changing series of caregivers almost since birth, he desperately clings to me. One moment he’s all boy running, tumbling and jumping and the next minute he’s clinging and skeered (his word). Dropping him at his VBS class the first day, he was happy, ready for adventure. The second day we had a couple tears. Wednesday he spotted me walking by in the hall halfway through the morning and proceeded to pitch a fit that prompted the teachers to walk him in the hall and find me to take him off their hands.
There was my choice. Should I force him to be brave and endure so that he’d learn that he would be fine or should I allow him to be the 3 year old child that he is with issues that can be resolved with time and a building of trust? Of course, I let him be the 3 year old. So what, if he’s clingy. Let him learn that I am in his life to stay. Let him learn (even if it means that he physically holds onto my shorts or my thigh) that the world isn’t quite as skeery when he’s got backup that he can count on. He stuck with me for the rest of the day while I assisted with the kindergarteners and went back to his class with little fuss the next day. I was very careful to keep my face away from the door of his classroom for the next two days. All was well until Friday when he learned that he was expected to stand in front of the church with a bunch of other kids he didn’t know and sing the songs they’d been learning. Even though he enjoyed the music, I could see in his face that no way was he going to stand in front and sing. He sat in the pew with my daughter and sang along, a happy little camper.
I don’t believe in traumatizing children. Life hands out enough unexpected drama without forcing a 3 year old into a situation that feels threatening. I love that his face lights up when he sees me and I’d like to keep that picture in my mind for later when he turns into a sullen teenager.
This morning I woke up and realized that I had to let go of my dream and I wouldn’t be hopping on a plane for the GH weekend. I told myself to step up and shut up because I knew I had to make sacrifices when we agreed to take the kids. My heart would break at not seeing my friends from EOS or talking to the GH actors, but I would deal. I could barely think about calling Katrina to tell her my decision. The thoughts hurt, and I don’t mean a little.
Life changed in an instant
when my husband called during the afternoon and out of the blue asked for
the dates of the GH weekend and said we have to figure out a way for me to
go. I am giddy with love for him for supporting my dreams and realizing
how much I count on the couple days away. At the GH weekend I am just
Kathy, a woman who happens to write for a cool website. Not wife or mommy
– just me. Things still are not set in stone, I haven’t purchased my
plane ticket and I am still working on what to do with the kids for those
couple days, but I am oh so buoyed up and enthusiastic. Somehow, with my
husband’s support, it will work out.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Turning the knife
She’s a 4 year old with an angelic face - easy going, amenable, mostly happy. Cyera is a kid an adult likes to have around because she plays on her own or with the others and she’s cheerful (unless she’s really, really tired and then the whines show up). She’s also a bulldog with a bone when it comes to making sure her brother and sisters understand how wonderful she is. “Marcus, I ate all my dinner so I get to have cake,” she informed her brother in a just-stating-the-facts voice. Still explaining, she asked her sister, “Are you having cake? I am having cake because I ate all my dinner but Marcus didn’t eat his dinner so he is not eating cake.” Turning back to Marcus again who was content, not particularly caring about dessert because he wasn’t hungry Cyera reiterated in the same reasonable voice, “Marcus you can’t have cake, but I am having cake.” After about the 4th statement, I called Cyera in while I was washing the dinner dishes and tried to explain that yes she was having cake but she shouldn’t keep telling her brother and sister because it would make them feel bad. She nodded solemnly and headed back into the living room where she proceeded to inform both of them again in a painfully sympathic voice this time that she would be having cake but they wouldn’t.
I called her back in and
fed her the darn cake so she would stop talking about it. What to do with
4 year old abuse of niceness?
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Before the kids arrived, my time was divided into reasonable increments like morning, afternoon, and evening or before work and after work. But now, the increments have been redefined. There are two parts to my day and I plan around them – BN or AN (Before Nap or After Nap).
“QF 477. QF 477 God’s
going to open up the door. God’s going to open up the door.” Those were
the numbers and words running through my mind in a confusing loop when I
awoke this morning. I may have finally gone roun’ the bend because I have
no idea where the letters and numbers came from. Maybe it was a week of
helping with the kindergarten class in Vacation Bible School; maybe it was
a mixture of exhaustion and overload fragmenting my mind; perhaps it was
the fumes. Around 3 a.m. my sleep was interrupted by a smell so bad it
could probably kill mold. My poor dog was having bowel problems and she’d
left several diarrhea deposits on my bedroom carpet. I have mentioned
that the dog is an 18 month Great Dane, right? I am not talking little
Pekinese size deposits here. Anyway, between the cleaning and fumigating
activities and fragmented dreaming, the numbers and words became a jumbled
litany like a note in bold letters tacked to the refrigerator in my
mind. “QF 477. God’s going to open up the door.” If I figure out what
it means, I’ll let you know. If I’m crazy, please don’t tell me, I might
like it better than sane.
Monday, June 20, 2005
My life as a sitcom comedy
This morning Marcus smelled bad because in the push to get my husband out the door last night, I forgot to put his diaper on him so he wet. Understandable, but he needed to be rinsed off in the tub. Putting Marcus in the tub, I went into his bedroom to grab his clothes. While I was in his room, Tryniti pulled off her messy diaper and proceeded to run through the upstairs dripping poo-poo all over the floor as she ran. Then she climbed up on my son’s computer chair and smeared her bottom over it thoroughly.
I pulled Marcus out of the tub and dumped in Tryniti, washed her off and wrestled her into her clothes. I threw the wet sheets into the washer and went downstairs to check on Destini and Cyera. Destini was fine but Cyera had taken the kid scissors out of the crayon box and cut her hair. Sigh. It was 10 a.m. and already I wanted a break from the world of Little Kidville. I keep telling myself that it will get better. They won’t all be this age of needing constant monitoring forever. …..will they?
One hour later…
In the fabric store, I wanted to purchase material scraps so the kids could use them for the doll houses we are making. Don’t get all admirable on me. I am not crafty willingly. At Wal-Mart I bought plastic boxes that sit on their sides and they will become the rooms to the house, cardboard will turn into furniture and the material will cover the furniture, windows (drawn in with washable marker), and make wallpaper and carpeting. If I cover the kitchen table with a plastic sheet and keep the scissors away from Cyera’s hair and the glue from Marcus’ mouth (he’s making a Spiderman house) then they should stay busy for a good long time. Oh wait, back to the fabric store where I lost my two youngest grandchildren in the excitement of selecting fabric scraps with the older two. Turns out they had found a little cubbyhole under the cutting table and were happily scrunched in entertaining themselves. I couldn’t even be mad at them for doing what kids love to do, but by that time, after a couple minutes of gut twisting fear when I realized they weren’t in my line of sight and weren’t answering when I called, I was wishing I was a drinker.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Torture and torment
I am convinced that there are only about five different episodes of the more popular cartoons that are aired over and over. It is my humble opinion that Sponge Bob Square Pants and Fairy God Parents (cartoons for those of you not hangin’ with the young crowd) were created not only to entertain children but to desensitize the older generation so we’ll watch all the other tripe that parades across the TV screen without complaining.
This afternoon my grandson colored his mouth orange. He was sitting at the table while I prepared dinner, content with a pencil and a paper. Too bad for me, I didn’t notice the orange marker which had been left on the table. Marcus picked it up and began using it on his paper. Somewhere in the process the marker ended up in his mouth where everything that touches his hand ends up and the color bled all over his lips and chin. The putting things in his mouth is becoming an issue because I am afraid that he will either choke or make himself sick on the plastic or quarter or pen cap, all of which he’s spit out into my hand. At least the marker washed off.
Wednesday, June 8, 2005
It’s important that my two children don’t feel that they’ve lost me. With that in mind, when my daughter asked me to jump on the trampoline with her, I accepted the invitation even though it was after 9 p.m. and tired didn’t begin to describe my mental and physical state. Is there a word that means exhausted but still moving forward through the numbness? Anyway, we jumped, talked, and generally acted silly for about 20 minutes. For the past couple nights I’ve tucked the little ones into bed and then KaCee and I have snuck out on a late night mother/daughter trampoline date.
My dog is also assisting in the quest to save my sanity. Each night we head out with me riding the bike, leash in hand, while she trots beside me. We meander slowly through the neighborhood for a couple miles and then head home. By the time we arrive home, the quiet, alone time has washed away the stress that builds on the inside. Prolific, clever paragraphs are written in my head in the dark streets. I could probably win a Pulitzer prize with the creative words in my head that seem to leak out in the time it takes to park the bike, hang up the leash and sit down at the computer.
The day before we drove to pick up the kids I started a new book. Normally, I’m a fast, avid reader, absorbing a book every day or two. It’s now been a week and a half and I am just now nearing the end of the book. Pretty soon the library people will be sending out a missing reader report on me. My face may show up in a little square on the back of a book cover. “MISSING – Have you seen this woman? She used to check out several books a week and abruptly stopped. Foul play or insanity are suspected.”
Today we had a WIC appointment. Getting to the appointment was a test because Sunday it took over two hours to eat, dress, brush teeth, wash faces, and brush hair, plus I had a full, take-my-time-in-the-bathroom shower. I am happy to report that we ate a quickie breakfast, dressed, washed, brushed teeth and headed out the door by 9:25. I was…get this…on time. Before my grandkids arrived, I knew that WIC existed but I never had a reason to deal with it. What a wonderful program. Now, we will have grocery help with milk, eggs, cereal, cheese, juice. The milk is especially important since we are drinking about a gallon a day. After refereeing in the small WIC office I took the kids to the Chinese Gardens so they could throw a couple slices of stale bread and old chips into the water to feed the huge turtles that live there. When I noticed that the two youngest were having a hard time throwing their chip pieces into the water and were instead stuffing them into their mouths, I decided that I’d better find a quickie drink and snack as we still had a couple stops to make. We drove to the soda store so I could indulge my Diet Coke fetish and buy some junk food. Imagine the guilt. I’d just left the WIC offices where I told them truthfully how healthy they were eating (because truly, the day before they ate healthy all day long) and then fed them junk food for a snack. Ah well, into every life a few Flaming Hot Cheetos and Sprite must come.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
A few moments of pissed off
It was huge, grand, ginormous in happy Mimi points. My daughter mentioned that at her friend’s house they put a sprinkler under the trampoline and jumped with the water spraying them. Sounded fun so I thought I’d try it. My two older grandchildren had gone to a program at the library with my neighbor’s daughter so I took the little ones out for some fun in the sun. And let me tell you, it was great! The sprinkler oscillated under the trampoline and pushed enough water through to pool a little at our feet and sprayed through gently about a foot high. We stomped on the water pretending the sharks were after us, they ran and slid like a slippy slide, they practiced somersaults in the water. For about half an hour they were in kid heaven and I was the best, most fun Mimi in the world. If you ever have a chance to jump on a trampoline with water spraying through, I high recommend it. Big points on the fun scale.
My friend sent me a link to a new artist called Bobby Yang. It’s not that I necessarily love all the bits of his music on his site, but man oh man do I admire his talent. www.bobbyyang.com I am hoping that his CD will show up at Wal-Mart so I can buy it. Right now, it’s only available on his site.
Not much angers me. Rarely do I spend time thinking and rethinking what someone said and what I should or should not have answered or complaining about imagined or perceived transgressions. I have better things to do and there are too many good things in my day. However, putting my grandchildren to bed after reading a story they began telling me about one time when their dad and mom had a fight involving blood and an arrest. These are the memories that they carry of their early childhood and they make me beyond angry at my son and his girlfriend. How dare they fight like that in front of the children? When we talk to the children we emphasize that their parents love them but they’ve made some bad choices which prevent them from taking care of their children. And each time I say it, in my head I hear an echo that whispers quietly back, “But they didn’t love them enough to make better choices.” Yep, pissed off just about describes it. If/when I find a better, more compassionate or understanding attitude, I’ll let you know.
Friday, June 10, 2005
The Grossness of kids
For two days my youngest granddaughter, Tryniti, 23 months, has walked around with her tongue sticking out of her mouth curled into a tube shape. My son, playing with her, showed her his curling tongue and she figured out how to curl hers. The fascination hasn’t worn off yet. She could barely eat because the lure of the tongue curl kept interrupting her chewing.
This afternoon I brought the two younger kids upstairs for their nap. Remembering that I’d washed the sheets and they were still in the dryer, I sent Marcus to go potty and began making up the beds. On a trip to my bedroom for a missing pillowcase, I walked by the bathroom where I heard giggling and water splashing. Both Marcus and Tryniti were standing on the little stool in front of the toilet playing in the toilet water. In a voice louder than my usual tone, I told them to “stop that right now.” In unison, before I could utter one more tiny peep, they jerked their hands out of the toilet, turned to me with their big-eyed oops-we-messed-up-now look, and inserted their wet toilet water fingers into their mouths. I don’t know if the toilet had been flushed and what did it matter because even if it had been sterilized moments before it probably still has as many germs lurking about as wet cow manure on a muggy, hot day. Modifying my tone but still stern I told them to never play in the toilet water because it was dirty water with germs that could hurt them. Then we washed hands with LOTS of soap and brushed teeth. They were fine, but I am still grossed out. *shudder*
Kids take naps so parents (and grandparents) can recharge, never mind their tired little bodies.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Living by example
Better watch what I am doing because any little habit or mannerism could circle around and bite me in the behind. The knowledge hit home today watching Tryniti play like she was talking on the telephone. She babbled her baby talk and walked about using emphatic hand motions to make her point and I wondered who she was imitating. It could have been me because I’m a hand-motion type talker. The hand motions didn’t worry me, but it sure made me realize, again, that the children see and learn from what I do and how I act in everyday situations. Quality time is a nice concept but I’m thinkin’ it’s all the time that counts in the long run.
Monday, June 13, 2005
They vs. Me
Disjointed thoughts about the kids run through my mind like, “I have to teach them to not interrupt” or “They are going to have to learn that the whole world does not revolve around them.” Usually, I start thinking these thoughts when I’ve made dinner and everyone is served at the table, filled cups with milk, said prayer, and I am trying to make my plate in between requests for ketchup, more milk please, so and so touched me, Mimi, you forgot to put macaroni on my plate, etc. I know that I should just sit down and give myself time to eat, but in the middle of the action, I tend to forget. Suddenly, they are asking for seconds and my plate is only partially made.
I was feeling a little resentful until I realized that in their world, life is all about them. It is the age in which they find themselves and it’s my job to teach them that I deserve consideration also. So I am trying hard to lose my role as Mimi the waitress and instead take a couple minutes to sit down with my plate and talk with all the kids while I eat. Yes, they can have more milk, meat, green beans, salad, cheese, apple, etc. but they can have it after I have time to eat too. Hopefully, they will learn patience and consideration and guess what? My resentment twinges have disappeared.
I don’t want a nanny for the children, I want a nanny for me. I’ll pick up the baby and kiss her hurt foot if my nanny can walk behind me and hand me the sippy cup. Bathing, dressing, teeth brushing don’t faze me; however, I lose details like preparing them for the day’s activity but forgetting the diaper bag. I only have two hands so crossing the street or a parking lot is challenging. A mommy nanny could grab those other two hands for me or remember where the heck I left my keys and did I put the dog in her crate or place the milk back in the refrigerator. Success often lies within the small tasks and I am terrible with the details.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Flirting with insanity
This evening I became the Mimi of the ridiculous statements. “Do not ask me anymore questions.” “No one may touch anyone for the rest of the evening.” “No yelling. You may only speak in a whisper.” In my defense, not even a smidgeon of down time could be found in my day. Add in one wide awake child after a long nap and three grouchy children who took no naps and the day turned into one loud, long, jarring, raggedy, jaggedy babblefest. It was rough.
So I put them to bed by 8:20 and called my husband knowing that I had about 10 minutes of thrashing about, requests, and tears. While talking to my husband I heard a voice screaming, “Mimiiiiii. Mimiiiiiii.” Not in fear, mind you, but in a I-don’t-want-to-sleep-and-I’ll-do-anything-to-stop-the-dreamtime voice. I ignored him and kept talking to my husband who sounded remarkably sane and reassuring after my day in the land of never ending toddlerville. More persistent “Mimi” screams. Finally, I excused myself for a moment from my husband, walked into the room and fiercely informed my loud grandson that he was not to yell at me again. I don’t respond to yells. “But I need a diiinnnnnnink,” he answered with big brown eyes brimming with crocodile tears.
“Lay down,” I responded in my most heartless voice and walked out. A couple minutes later, I heard in a hoarse whisper as loud as a whisper can possibly go, “Mimiiiiiiya. Mimiiiiiiya. I need a diiiiiinnnnnk.” I had to go hide in the bathroom to explain to my husband what he was doing so my grandson wouldn’t hear me cracking up. If he knew he’d made me laugh I’d lose valuable ground in the nightly go-to-sleep battle. Because he whispered, he won. Good behavior deserves a reward so I took him some water in a sippy cup where he proceeded to take 1 SIP and then laid down, content. Someone please reassure me that I am going to survive the next couple years.
SSssssssshhhhh. Don’t tell but I am in the house with only my 17 year old (who doesn’t want monitoring since his girlfriend is here hanging out with him). Silence is golden. After enduring 2 solid days of all children all the time at my house, they’ve finally branched out and are playing for a short time at some of the neighbors. Life is good. Life is quiet. It may only last 5 minutes but I plan to bask in the peace while it lasts.
An amazing thing happened today. My neighbor who hates us talked to me. A couple years ago they let their chow dog knock up their pit bull puppy who then bore a litter of ragamuffins. The puppies learned within a couple weeks that they could dig their way under the fence into our yard where they proceeded to chew everything in sight including my air conditioner wiring. We called. We fixed the fence. We called some more. Finally, after a month or so of constant puppysitting, we called animal control who knocked on their door (they wouldn’t answer) and then picked them up and carted them away. I felt bad but I couldn’t afford the damage the puppies were inflicting. Since that time they have refused to acknowledge our existence which didn’t bother me as I’d grown pretty disgusted with them also. On my side, the anger has long since passed but our habit of noninvolvement continued. Until today when the lady of the house next door drove up and as she climbed out of her vehicle she commented about the kids riding bikes in our driveway, “I bet they keep you busy.” After pulling my mouth closed, I replied, “They sure do.” I tried out a smile and she did also. It was a nice baby step towards a more neighborly relationship.
Tuesday, June 6, 2005
It hit home how my life has changed because the happiest words I heard yesterday were “Mimi, I peed in the toilet.” Yay for me, a couple less diapers to change in the course of a day.
For the first time in the 25 years I’ve been raising children, I worry about bruises. During the afternoon my neighbor came to the door. I stepped outside to talk to her and the kids piled out after me for a couple minutes of freedom. As we spoke in the space of seconds I heard *thump* *loud-really-hurt crying*. Cyera, 4, had walked out the door, walked to the back of my van parked in the driveway in front of us, climbed on the bumper and then fell off and hit her head on the concrete. She cried for a couple seconds, long enough to be held and kissed, and now sports a multi-colored bruise at the top of her forehead that didn’t impeded her for more than 10 seconds of play time. Their legs also carry miscellaneous bumps and scrapes from riding their bikes until they are ready to drop. To me, they are the bumps and bruises of happy, growing, learning kids. But I am ever so conscious that not only am I “Grandma”, I am also a foster placement which means that Big Brother called CPS will be checking on us. I know that the kids’ days have been filled with love, play, activity, and discipline that consists of time outs and talking but what if they come to check on their progress and ask about the bruises? It’s not like I can explain every little dark spot on a shin bone. My husband says not to worry that wrapping them in cotton and keeping them inside won’t be doing them any favors. My head agrees but I can’t seem to help the niggling what-if that prods me when one of them runs to me with their latest owie to be kissed. I’ve never had anyone looking over my shoulder while I parent.
I always thought I’d make a great private investigator. Kind of warm and downhome like “Matlock”, only female. Because of my averageness I figured I could slip in and out of places without being noticed. People seem to talk to me easily so asking pertinent questions wouldn’t be difficult. Twenty years ago when I worked through my fear of being laughed out of the room and first brought it up to my husband he didn’t take me seriously. Out of the blue a couple weeks ago, he told his sister who was visiting that he thought I would make a great P.I and that I’d always wanted to do that. Guess I can’t accuse him of not listening to me if he remembers something I brought up tentatively about 20 years ago. Good thing I was sitting at the time or I might have fallen over. Now he thinks I’d be good at it? Now he’d be supportive? Just when you think you know a guy, he shows that not only was he paying attention 20 years ago, he remembers what I said. There’s a picture in my head of me attempting to ask a person if they’ve seen a certain so and so with a child pulling on my leg and announcing, “Mimi, I peed in the toilet.”
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Cookie for your thoughts
It’s amazing how you can ask a child what they think and they’ll offer a blank look or a shoulder shrug in return, but if you give them a cookie and ask, “Did you like Sunday School?” and every little detail of Sunday School will spill out of their mouths.
Driving to church this morning, the thought crossed my mind that I am not sure I can do this. Four hungry minds, emotions, and mouths are overwhelming. I don’t feel successful and I like successful better than adequate. Yes, we made it to church. But 20 minutes late and I started brushing, dressing, and breakfasting an hour and a half before we were supposed to leave. How will I ever drive a bus in August if I can’t get out the door? So in my usual confront God way, I’m telling him in my mind that I’m really having doubts about raising 4 more children and God put a picture in my head of their broken hearts if we don’t raise them. I think I can’t do this. God says I can’t not do it.
For the first time today, I felt that we came out on top of the entertainment game. Several activities to choose from were available and it was a day overwhelmed with fun. My wonderful husband bought a trampoline and net Saturday afternoon and spent several hot hours yesterday afternoon and this morning in the backyard putting it together. Bike riding, bubbles, jumping on the trampoline, watching a move, Barbies – the list goes on of ways to spend the day. Ah, to be a kid. So many choices, so much fun to be had. It’s hard because by the age of the two oldest children (Destini 6 and Cyera 4), my children were a lot more independent. Probably Destini and Cyera would be willing to try independence but since they are just learning our boundaries and rules, I don’t feel comfortable not being outside with them every second. For instance, my kids knew they were not allowed in the road or past the second driveway from our house. No exceptions. My grandkids have heard me say it a couple times, but the law that is Mimi hasn’t worn any permanent grooves in their brains yet where I feel that I can trust them to be safe outside.
Monday, June 06, 2005
The cat is eating dog food. Maybe it’s the egg I mix into the dog’s food or maybe it’s the fact that the cat is named Kibbles and has been answering to a dog food name his entire life. Whatever the reason, the cat is suddenly refusing to eat cat food and choosing, instead, dry dog food. Do I need to worry about my cat’s mental state? Do cats have issues too?
OK, I’ll admit it. It’s fun playing with the kids – riding bikes, jumping on the trampoline, bubbles, tag, going for walks. I’m enjoying playing a lot more than potty training. This weekend I bought big boy Spiderman underpants for my just turned 3 Grandson to wear. Naturally, we’ve already had several accidents, but he’s so thrilled to be out of a diaper that I think the run-to-the-toilet habit will set in quickly. I’ll gladly do extra laundry everyday as we change underpants and shorts if it means that soon, I’ll only have one in diapers. Tryniti, the youngest, runs to sit on the potty too, but her sole purpose is to get her little hands on some toilet paper. So much joy to be had in the little paper squares. Life would be simple if all we had to worry about was how much toilet paper the kids were stuffing down the toilet.
Even the dog has a say
The dog is having issues. Suddenly little people hover around my legs and she has to tread carefully. What’s a coddled, 18 month, Great Dane to do? The first couple days were rough because she didn’t know what to do about the new small bodies all over the place. Usually, she follows me from room to room but I can tell she’s a bit anxious when she jumps up to see where I am going and I haven’t even taken a step yet. Poor thing.
My current personal issue involves showering and eating. If I were more organized I’d set my alarm for 6, jump up, exercise, shower and be ready to face the day. The problem lies in answering the call to rise. I’d much rather hit the button and go back to sleep and that’s just what I’ve done all this week. However, every day I find myself with children fed, dressed, washed and brushed, some housework accomplished and I look down at myself and realize that I haven’t brushed my teeth, showered or dressed. This sloppy woman is not the woman I know, love and live inside. It’s only been 5 days so I am allowing myself some time to hit my stride, but I hope it’s soon. I also hope I figure out when to eat. My diet has flown out the window and I find myself grazing from the kids’ plates. I’d like a meal please, a whole plate all for me with fresh, warm food.
Help! I am being tortured by Snazzy, Jazzy Coat. The kids brought a cassette tape with them with about 6 songs on it from church they attended with their foster parents. They are Jesus loves me type songs, how can I object? Except they LOVE this tape and once they begin playing it, they play it over and over and over. Yesterday, while I was cooking dinner 9 children gathered in my living room to sing, dance and do hand motions to Snazzy, Jazzy Coat. I was cool with it for the first 20 or so renditions but by the time we were reaching oooh say 30 times at louder and louder volume, I was done. Enough Snazzy, Jazzy Coat for now!
My Diet Coke habit is being seriously compromised. It’s not just the soda, drinking Diet Coke is a break in the day. Once a day, sometimes twice, I take my 64 oz cup, drive to what I call the soda store and fill it up. There’s something relaxing about the ice clinking and the fizz fizzing that satisfies my inner child. Since the kids arrived, I haven’t had withdrawal headaches because I’ve supplemented my craving with cans of Diet Coke, but I sure am missing the whole experience. I think it must be like smoking. It’s not just inhaling chemicals, it’s more the habits that go along with lighting up. I’ll deal with less Diet Coke in my day. But I don’t have to like it.
Wow, it just occurred to me that by this time next year I bet I’ll have a mondo record breaking pile of socks missing their mates. Cool.
Getting Started - June 3, 2005
A Cellular Affair
CHRISTMAS CHEERS AND JEERS
Ma'am, Is That A Salmon In Your Pocket?
Civilization 101 or 2 or 3
Finding My Senses
Wrestling, Garlic and Weddings
Treading through Emotional Quicksand