Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Eye of the Artist

Tiny Pants loves art. He wants to be an artist some day. His artwork is not particularly exceptional for a six year old, but he spends a lot of time on it and it makes him happy. 

Not only is this a fine thing in and of itself, but it is much nicer for Mama to watch him draw in the kitchen than to watch him play sports outside in the cold, so it's really a win-win.

(He doesn't like art class at school. They are very restrictive in what he has to do and what colors he can use. I understand that they are trying to teach him theory, but he gets very sad and asks "Why won't they let me add a sunset to my picture? It needs a sunset.")

At home he can draw or paint whatever he wants.  The only problem is the mountain of drawings he piles on the table every night as gifts of love.  To solve this I asked him to make me bookmarks. I showed him the width of my roll of clear packing tape, and explained that I could easily laminate small pictures and use them everyday. 

He thought this was a grand idea, because he wants his art to be visible, useful, and valued. Even though he still mostly makes things on large pieces of paper, he occasionally brings me something small enough to use as a bookmark. 

I got this one this week:

It's a Yeti's legs, in case you couldn't tell.  Just his legs. That's all he needed. I think it's my favorite thing ever. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Concern for Dog's Allegedly Fragile Self-Esteem

Nothing noteworthy has happened in Dog's life of late.  His food hasn't changed, his dog bed has not been washed against his will and we did not get a new pet.  Life is exactly the same this week as last, just like the one before and the one before that.

For some reason, Dog has taken to chewing  things, not just predictable things like the garbage either.  He's gotten a taste for tubes of acrylic paint off the kids' art shelves, and most baffling, plastic grocery bags.

I know. They look irresistibly delicious, don't they?

Dog is an old dog, 11 years or so. His hearing is questionable. Or he uses his age as an excuse to pretend not to hear me.  (Which seems more likely.)  And I'm tired of no one in the house ever listening to me.  So I tend to scream genteelly  at the top of my lungs when I find one of his new disassemblage art projects. 

"Bad Dog!!"  

I'm not very creative when I'm forced to touch wet slobbed on bits of tissue off the bathroom floor. 

Tiny Pants confronted me on this yesterday.

"Mama, when Dog eats the garbage, you shouldn't call him a bad dog."

(I didn't say that when Tiny and his brother aren't home, I'm more likely to call Dog something with a hole at the end of it.)

"He's not a bad dog, Mama. He just does bad things sometimes."

Where is my child learning this positive self-esteem language thing?  And why is it that he spends less than 8 seconds paying attention to the dog all day, but will rise as his champion now, against Mama?

Sigh.  He's not a bad dog, he's a dog that sometimes does bad things.  But Stop being naughty and please desist in this negative attention seeking behavior is not very satisfying to yell.

I guess I'm stuck with No and Stop it when the kids are home. Perhaps I can just yell Bad!  and not personalize it with his name.  Or maybe I'll just dog proof the house and let the little bugger live out his final years in peace.  

You couldn't stay mad at this face, could you?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Hidden Benefit of Grownup Time

I don't go out very often when I have the kids, and when I do, the babysitter comes over after the kids are in bed and they don't even know I was out and back again.

Only a few times a year do I get a sitter to come over when they are awake and actually put them to bed.  It's mostly guilt - I only see them five days a week, not seven. They have two whole nights every week of no Mama.  The fact that those nights they are with Daddy and not a random sitter should be a mitigating factor, but it's not.  The fact that I do not work outside the home should also reduce my guilt, because they are no longer going to after school care. Five days of 24 hour Mama should count. But it doesn't. 

I hated when my parents went out. I hated babysitters. I totally and completely relate to my kids in this.  But I am relating to them from a place of childhood memory, with an immature gaze, not with the adult perspective I have gained in my forty plus years.

When I do go out when they are still awake, there's a lot of drama. The minute I tell them about my plans there are tears, lots of tears, complete with heart-broken  faces mourning the loss of Mama. By the time I actually leave the house I have yelled at least once about how I only go out a few times a year and I am entitled to attend grown up events every now and then without them giving me a lot of crap.  Of course I don't really say crap. 

By the time I leave, I'm so frazzled and irritated I've often lost the desire to go anywhere.  When you are paying a sitter by the hour to go out, it starts to feel like you need a large amount of fun to justify the trauma and the expense, and paying a sitter does not guarantee fun. 

So last night we went out. and all those things happened: the tears, the guilt, the irritation.  But because I don't go out that often, I had forgotten something even more important.


I came home to children that were asleep without me having to forcing the planets into alignment to make it happen, as I normally do.  I woke up to a quiet house and a happy heart.

"Does anyone want turkey bacon?"  I asked, surprising myself.  I cannot remember the last time I made the kids turkey bacon for breakfast.  I don't eat it and it's messy and more work than toast or cereal, but they love it. I also gave them candy for no reason what so ever. 

Wait, could going out at night have given me more patience with the kids, and even made me enjoy them more?  And those kids that need Mama, Mama, only Mama? There are blissfully ignoring me, eating bacon and watching TV. Happy Mama might actually make happy kids. 

Is there an added benefit to going out, that lasts longer than the break while I'm gone?  Who knew?  Apparently I should go out more often and feel less guilty.   

(Also, we won a trophy.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Say What?

I have a lot of almost-words.  These include words I write but can't pronounce, and also auto-correct words.

Auto-correct words are words that you know vaguely how to spell them or say them, so you get close enough that auto-correct figures out what word you are shooting for and fixes it for you.  It works very well when typing.  Not so well when speaking, because there is no auto-correct for conversation. 

This wasn't a problem for most of my life. Most people I knew didn't really know the real word either, and if I was close enough, they let it slide.  Or maybe they were polite.

It was only when I started dating someone who knew whole words, not just almost-words that I even realized how many I used in a given day.  Then I went back to school and met a lot of people who knew actual words, and suddenly I felt only quasi-educated.  Educated is different than intelligent, by the way. I try to remind myself that being less educated doesn't mean I'm less smart, it just means I failed to pay proper attention in class.  If you know me in real life, this will not surprise you.

My kids have decent vocabularies, which of course I credit myself for. I never dumbed down my conversation with them and give them definitions to words they don't know. I also restricted them to a lot of PBS programming when they were little. I have to admit that words like "symbiotic" and "metamorphosis" were taught by the television. But then I can always fall back on my good genes to keep my ego at full tilt.

Until last night, that is.  Last night I was hollering (hollering is kinder and less serious than yelling) at the kids to get ready for bed.  Because they can tell the difference between a holler and a true yell, they were ignoring me. 

Mama: I said, put your pajamas on!
Tiny Pants: I am!  I'm getting myself situated!

Wait - did he say situated

No, I was not filled with pride. That's not where I'm going with this.  I was cold hard busted.  Situated is one of my almost-words. I pronounce it "asituated" which is close, but not correct. I know that, but I've said it wrong for so many years that the wrong version sounds right. 

I had to accept that his vocabulary is not coming from me anymore. He's speaking real actual words that I struggle to say, so someone else's influence is winning out. yeah, that school place I send him is doing their job. 

But this means I have to step up my A game.  I have  to actually learn real words instead of almost-words, and be able to say them, not just write them using autocorrect.  I better do it quick, before he catches on.  

(Let's not even talk about diagraming sentences, which Big Pants is learning and I know nothing about.)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Privacy? Who needs privacy?

So I'm finally beyond the point of wanting or needing children in the bathroom with me when I pee.

They are no longer going to draw on the walls in the 15 seconds it takes me to do my business, but I'm still not used to the door always being closed when I'm in there. It's not that I want it open, it's just been so long that I no longer to remember to shut it.

Well, I was sitting down having a tinkle and I look up and realize I have a perfect view of the kitchen door. Which has a window. Because I am lazy and/or efficient, I order a lot of stuff on Amazon instead of dropping by Target to pick it up, lazy things like printer ink and sweat pants. Which means I get a lot of deliveries. And I pee a lot. 

Which means I have been basically peeing in front of the UPS driver for months.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Drum Sets Can be Neither Created Nor Destroyed. No, Wait, Both Things Happened Here

Tiny Pants wanted a play date with a new friend from school.  Tiny Pants is six, so a play date requires Mama intervention. Because he doesn’t want to be dropped off alone anywhere, it means I have to go sit and make small talk with some parent for a few hours when really, all both of us want to do is ignore our children and take a nap. But Tiny Pants doesn’t have a lot of friends, so I felt this was important. 

“Where do you want to have this play date?” I asked him. “Our house, his house, or a park?”
 “Our house. So he can see my new drum set,” he replied.  

This sounds logical. We just watched the movie School of Rock and Tiny Pants is all hyped up on music right now. Only one problem – we don’t own a drum set. I raised this valid point, but Tiny was not to be swayed. “We will have a drum set by this afternoon,” he told me confidently.

Let me tell you something about a six year old with a yearning and a vision. They know exactly what they want to create, and they have less than zero ability to make it happen. Building a drum set meant I will have to spend a lot of time on my hands and knees with a roll of tape while he gets bored and wanders off.  But not this time.  This time I was going to make him do the work.

 “So, what are we going to use for drums?”
 “Your mixing bowls. I need all of them.”

 Well, I know a little bit about kitchen utensils that vanish into the basement and are never seen again.  They go the way of socks in the laundry, and I like my mixing bowls. I even use them occasionally in the kitchen, to mix things.  I consider them mine in that non-sharing way we tell our children is selfish.  Six year olds often regress their parents into toddlers screaming “Mine! No touchy-touchy!”   It happens, even to some of us who think we know something about speaking in complete sentences and pride ourselves on our ability to reason and form compelling arguments. We settled on some unused plastic boxes.

 “How are we going to do this?” I asked, thinking we meant him and I.
 “Tape, Lots of tape.”  

Lots of tape in the hands of a six year old can get ugly, and has resulted in children becoming completely entangled with the cat in the past.  Fine, I’d do it. 

We taped, we, in this case, meaning Mama. I made him hold things together. We taped some more. We dismantled the hockey net to use its poles.  We taped symbols and bongos into an interesting contraption. We used rocks to hold the flimsy bases down. And it worked just fine. We wound up with a recognizable, reasonably functional drum set.  

Until his older brother took a turn, and hit it so hard he completely dismantled everything in one song.   “Mama, I need to fix my drum set before the play date…”  Sigh. Better buy more tape.   

Monday, July 21, 2014

Things I've learned after 5 days in the Woods with the Boys

1. Not all paddles float. 

2. The longer one debates if the paddle is worth being rescued when it is 60 degrees outside and the lake is cold, the less likely the rescue attempt will succeed. 

3. Diving into lake to rescue paddle 3 seconds too late is cold and futile. And wet. Did I mention cold? 

4. Goggles also do not float long enough to be rescued. 

5. (Some) Amish people have a decent sense of humor about having model rockets land on their roof. 

6. Alpacas have three stomachs. They chew, swallow, regurgitate, and chew more. You can watch the food go up and down their necks, making their necks looks like big fuzzy anacondas.  I'm now quite sure that alpacas are really big headed snakes with legs. 

7. Little boys occasionally sing odes to their penises when they think no one is listening. 

8.  When one has lost a rocket or two onto the roof of the Amish farm, you can make a rocket out of a stick, which is way more satisfying than using a pre-made rocket.  This causes one to become obsessed with what else they can launch.  Ugly shoe launching seems a worthwhile endeavor.   

9.   It only takes about five minutes for small boys to collect enough rocks in their pockets for their pants fall completely off.

10.  When using a tractor to pull a truck out of the mud, it is best when the truck is taken out of park before the tractor guns it.