Charlie saves the day

We had a play date today, me and the 2 youngest.

Jenna at any moment is usually carrying one or several pet dogs or horses, the stuffed variety. Today she insisted on bringing “Chip”, a beagle looking stuffed dog with her.

after 3 hours of playing, we left. All of us forgetting Chip behind.

The mom sends me a text, they found him…how do I want to arrange getting him back?

I made an executive decision, counting on Jenna to not remember that we forgot her baby behind. Just send him to school with her youngest on Monday, I’ll have Sammy bring him home.

Wouldn’t you know, Jenna sure did remember her dog…..

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She didn’t take too well to my plan of letting him stay away for a few days. Even promising to get him tomorrow didn’t stop the tears.

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I thought she’d taper off, go do something else, but she stayed focused on her misery. The only thing that slowed the tears was actually watching me take her photos…she would slow down enough to inspect each image. I pointed out tears and tried some filters to catch her anguish at its best advantage.

She is excellent at expressing her despair.

Finally, in desperation, I made a deal. I offered her the companionship of my own best stuffed friend, Charlie. With me since the age of 3, he is kept in a place away from grabbing hands where he can sit in peace and reflect on all the good years he’s shared with me.

I every so carefully brought him out and told Jenna she could take care of him until Chip comes back. She was taken with the idea of befriending my elderly raccoon.

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No, Chip is not forgotten….but for now she is content.

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And tomorrow….tomorrow that beagle is coming home.

 

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Little Miss Nasty

I'm a sassy girl :)

I’m a sassy girl 🙂

So Jenna is officially 2. I think the terrible two’s started about 6 months ago, but according to her dad, it’s closer to 2 years ago……

She’s hilarious. And she’s nasty. Really nasty. Oh, wait. Sassy…. she’s sassy. Sounds so much better, right?

Now, in her defense, I will say if people didn’t just assume she wanted them to talk to her, or touch her, things would go much better for everyone. I guess in her 2 year old mind, she may wonder why it’s ok for someone to just walk up and start pawing at her, when as adults, we would never tolerate that kind of behavior from someone.

So this is a typical scenario: We go somewhere, or someone comes over to visit. Jenna is freaking adorable as most 2 year olds are….. and people just can’t help coming to try talking to her, or touching one of her little pig tails jutting out from the top of her head.

“DON’T TOUCH ME!!!”

She shouts in her little smoker-voice. Her scowl is THE BEST. She is SO offended. So everyone laughs…….. and then someone else tries to see what happens.

“DON’T TOUCH MY HAIR!!”

Laughter all around. Permanent scowl on her face. A few more tries, with the same result from touching her arm, her shirt, her hair again. She doesn’t cry, she just yells at everyone. And swats. She will swat at you eventually if you keep trying to make contact.

Her most common one-liners include:

“It’s not funny!”

“Go away!”

“I want Paw Patrol!”

“You are a bad boy!” (of course, because it is not possible for girls to be bad)

The beginning of a scowl. You may wonder if she wants to cut you.....

The beginning of a scowl. You may wonder if she wants to cut you…..

Her father has given up. One look at her these days and she is telling him off. This is because he loves, LOVES to tease her. He will grab her, kiss her repeatedly, pick her up and swing her around. All the while she is screaming at him to stop, put her down, leave her alone!! Once away from him, she gives her best scathing glare, making sure he sees her doing it.

On the other hand, she is often beyond polite. She apologizes to you if you knock her down, “Oh, sorry!”. She asks so nicely for me to put Paw patrol on my kindle before she sits on the potty so she can watch it while waiting forever to pee. “Oh, thank you, Mommy!” She plays grocery store with me and always gives me the best deal on produce, I can use all the expired coupons I want, and she never remembers to swipe my credit card. She randomly expresses her love for me, and tells me she’s MY angel.

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She has the CUTEST smile.

I like my nasty baby. She’s amazingly smart, and I would like to say just very,very discerning with whom she associates. Like, it’s pretty much just me right now. I’m cool with that.

How to make your kids like each other???

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I got this text from my 17 year old yesterday.

Sooooo…. sometimes there is a bit of a, say, division, between the two age groups of children in the house.

We’ve got the teens on one side, and the toddler/preschooler on the other.

No one has to share a room with anyone, which has probably saved lives by this point.

But what do I do, as a mom of all these *ahem* angels…. to help foster relationships? Especially as the older ones seek more time away from home and family? Clearly, if the above text is any indication, there is room for improvement.

Well, the one thing I swore I would never do was FORCE the older ones to babysit the little ones. As in, no one is going to have to skip a practice or game, or have to cancel plans of their own to watch some children that they did not bring into this world. Children who are probably very grateful that they are not being forced into the care of a less than thrilled older sibling.

I know, because I was that older sibling who HATED babysitting for my mother. DESPISED the three demon children from hell that I seemed to get stuck with when she had to go to work and dad wasn’t home yet. I swore, with all the conviction a 15 year old can have, that I would NEVER be crazy enough to have something so horrible as a child of my own. Now, I wasn’t being forced to give up anything to babysit, I really had no life so I’m sure my parents didn’t see the problem. And there should NOT have been a problem, except I was a teenager so of course EVERYTHING was a problem.

Remembering how MEAN I was, or at least how mean I felt, is the biggest reason I haven’t ever pushed the envelope and insisted the older ones take a bigger role in helping with the little ones. I really, really don’t want them to be mean. I want them to love each other, not feel forced to spend time together.

And they do help me a lot by doing things with the younger ones when we are all home together. Just playing with them for 30 minutes while I am making dinner, or cleaning up is a HUGE help. And I have had them babysit for a quick run to the store. Oh, and my oldest actually watched the kids for me last week when my husband and I went out of a real date, the first alone together in probably a year…. but I cleared it with her in advance and made sure she had no plans, and was ok with it. This is my way of trying to ensure they like each other and don’t resent the younger ones at all.

But the age difference means that the little ones sometimes become annoying when they are in “play” mode, and the older kids are NOT. Sometimes they don’t want a little kid barging into their room, screaming and throwing stuffed animals at them. Sometimes they get sick of the repetitive games that toddlers seem to crave. Sometimes they want the little chatterbox next to them to just…..stop chattering.

And then my oldest comes to me, as she has several times lately, and asks if the baby is even going to remember her once she goes to college. “Is she even going to know who I am?”. I then remind her that college is not in outer space, and she will still be coming home for holidays, vacations, summer…. and we will be face timing like no tomorrow. I like that she is worried about this. I want them to be close, but I also know it will probably take a lot of years before they start to have things in common, and a desire to be friends and not just sisters.

We deal with issues still, like when the 13 year old feels slighted, and believes that I must love the younger ones more than him because of the time I spend with them. He of course doesn’t remember being their age and getting ALL my attention because there wasn’t an older brother around complaining about it. I try to explain that he should not be jealous of the time I spend wiping butts, giving baths, dressing, and feeding the kids….. because I really don’t think he’d still want me doing those things for him. I mean, hey, if that’s what I need to do to PROVE my love….but I just don’t think it would look very good…..

At the end of the day, I have hope. Because the daughters enjoy each others company now, and every day is another day of bonding and memory making. They painted toe nails together today. The two boys have a secret handshake/hug they do every night, and end it with one of them saying “Best Friends….” and the other finishes “….Forever.”

And because I catch them having moments like this all the time, proof that they love each other, even if they don’t always LIKE each other.

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Hey, I really liked my kids today!!

Today was a good day.

This morning, I wouldn’t have thought it was going to turn out this well. The 4 year old has had a fever since yesterday, and wanted his feet rubbed, back rubbed, and all spare moments dedicated to his comfort….as is expected for a sick little boy….or maybe any sick boy/man….??

The 13 year old had to perform in a concert at school but waited until the last possible moment to start worrying about what time he needed to be there, and what time he needed me to come bring him home. Not to mention the clothes I’d been asking about all week, “do you know where your dress pants are, are they clean???”  Of course, I found them in his closet today, clean and crumpled, and ironed them strictly to save my own reputation as a “good mom” with the other parents who would see him.

The 16 year old, who will be 17 in a matter of days, was full of attitude after waking up before 6am to play in two softball games. The two teens bickered like old women about who cleaned their bathroom last, and who should have to vacuum the basement for me.

16 month old was destined to be the favorite today. Even after painting herself with mandarin oranges and squishing them into her hair.

I was doing my usual weekend cleaning, yelling, cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, folding laundry, moving furniture, more cleaning and begging the oldest two to please stop insulting each other for the love of all things holy.

Then it happened.

It was like the stars suddenly aligned.

Somehow, we all ended up in each others company……not yelling, screaming, crying, fighting or causing damage of any kind.

They played together! Definitely, having the baby helped, as her amazing adorableness can soften the most jaded of teenage hearts. We laughed as Jen-Jen entertained us as only a toddler can, with her budding vocabulary and love of imitating everyone around her.

Dinner was enjoyable. What??!! How often do I get to say that? So often lately it’s broken up by the sports schedules of the two oldest, I end up cooking for the youngest two, and then hours later the others will wander in, dirty, tired and somehow not hungry for anything I’ve made. Lately, a meal with all kids together is rare. Even more rare is a meal with no arguments of any kind, no 4 year old turning his nose up at….EVERYTHING I make….. , and no baby deciding to chuck her cup, and often parts of her meal, at my head the moment she decides she’s full. No warning!

Tonight felt so special. Jenna didn’t spit anything out at me, bonus. Sammy was feeling better, and ate some sweet potato and fruit. the older two actually finished off all the grilled fish, and LIKED IT!! There was good natured talking at the table, no fighting, not even a little!

My oldest and her friend even went grocery shopping with me and the baby later, to TWO STORES!  Nary a sigh was heard. I’m sure the chocolate I bought them didn’t hurt. The girls even made dessert.

We laughed more later at the antics of the baby, crawling after a tiny ant in the kitchen, and blowing on her toes to imitate me after I’d painted them. My 13 year old made me two cups of iced tea. Count them, two…..and I didn’t even ask, well not for the second one. There was a point we were all laughing and joking in the kitchen together. I thought about how happy I was, how nice this felt, briefly wondered if we were somehow all high…quickly dismissed it….

It was a night just made to enjoy. One of those nights you don’t want to end, you just want to keep it going.

A perfect night to savor being a mom. I felt like all four kids liked me, at the same time. And I liked them all too! No one screaming for me to pick them up, no one tattling or arguing. I didn’t feel worn out, as I tend to do by the end of a long day…but instead energized, and grateful.

I have had a day with my four, and I felt loved, enjoyed, happy. I didn’t have to force any of them to share my company, I didn’t even have to battle wits or make empty threats for it happen.

Tomorrow we will celebrate our traditional mothers day, but it may not be magical.  I doubt the greatness of today can stretch that far, surely someone will remember how annoying everyone else is by then!

But these days, when they happen, are the most special. They remind me of what to tell people who want to know why on earth I chose to have all these kids. Because I don’t think anything comes close to the happiness these kids can bring. It reminds me on other, less perfect days….what our potential is. Even if we don’t quite reach it all the time. Just makes it all the more amazing when we do.

 

 

Why do we travel with Kids????

I am going to Vegas in a month.

With a 4 year old.

And a 1 year old.

The flight will be just over 4 hours, and I know I will be on the verge of dying the whole way.

As much as I am looking forward to being there, I dread the task of GETTING there. And that is the problem, because kids are smart, and like wild animals….they can smell fear.

It is a terrifying thing to know you are stuck on a plane with a kid who is about to have the mother of tantrums……and short of suffocating them, there is NOTHING you can do to make them stop. It might be the scariest thing ever. So of course I try to pack for every possible shift in humor, every potential desire, every whim that child may have.

I’ve done this pretty successfully with one young child. But this will be the first trip with two . And I hate myself as much as all other passengers are going to hate me as I walk past them to my seat, holding a toddler, a blanket, a 4 year old by the hand, and a huge backpack with a variety of toys and treats, guaranteed to hold their interest for a good 30-45 seconds.

I’ll be praying to be seated near other people with kids. Best case scenario, someone will have a HORRIBLE child who acts up the whole way, if they are bad enough they might just keep the interest of my kids who can just watch them instead of “Frozen”, which I will definitely be packing. As much as I would feel bad for that parent, I will also be silently thanking them for taking the pressure off of me and mine.

Is that wrong? I don’t think so.

I can’t convey the stress…..

The fact that I have been so LUCKY travelling with a little one in the past…does not bode well for me. My now 4 year old has really been great so far. He went with us to Florida once, Boston once, and Vegas twice before he was 3, and was a champ each time on the plane. I was so proud at the end of each trip, pretending I was somehow responsible for his behavior. Other passengers may have been fooled…..but parents know. They know my turn is coming.

I feel like this trip might just be the one.

The one to put me back in my place, and remind me that I have NO control at all. All the pipe cleaners, stickers, goldfish crackers and juice boxes can’t save me when that baby decides she wants to get off my damn lap and go find something she can put in her mouth and try to choke on. Or maybe she’ll want to grab the face of the guy in front of me, innocently smiling at her as though she’s harmless, and doesn’t plan to gouge his eyes out. Oh, it could get bad.

It could be the 4 year old too. He did recently throw himself onto the floor at drug mart because I wouldn’t buy him a plastic gun there. I had to drag him out of the store, all the while keeping a totally unaffected, even nonchalant look on my face for the other patrons. I don’t think I can pull that off for 4 hours.

My husband hates travelling with me like this, because I am literally so tense beforehand-I can barely speak. I pack so much in the carry-on, because this is life or death! If I can’t produce a spinny thing that lights up like right NOW, all hell is going to break loose people, I just KNOW it!!

So this is my warning to you.

We’re coming. There might be pee, there might be vomit…I just don’t know. Don’t get too close,and for gods sake….don’t make eye contact.