Tuesday, May 14, 2013

98 degrees.

We had frost warnings earlier this week. Today was 98 degrees.  We employed the preschool method of air conditioning.

Not the biggest fan of the sprinkler.

Biggest fan of the sprinkler.

Biggest fan of rocks and pieces of grass.

Fearing the water.

Embracing the water.

Swinging to avoid the sprinkler.

Swinging to air-dry.

About to eat a rock.
Since Oliver didn't much care for the sprinkler last year, I asked him why it was better this year. He said, "Because I know that rain is water and it helps the planet earth. So it is fun."

There you go. That almost makes sense.

Monday, May 13, 2013

What separates us from the apes.

Colin is suddenly gung-ho about the silverware and big people cups. He's actually pretty good for a one year old. I'd estimate about 35% of the food makes it to his mouth, with only 8% in his hair. The remainder gets dropped for the dog.

Do you think he's ready for the country club yet?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Family Park Night

We went to the park last weekend.

Hairstyle care of swinging.

Top of the tall tower.

Bottom of the long slide.

Big rock.


The freedom to run away!

I told Jared I wanted a photo of him with the kids, but instead he struck this pose.

Trusty stick.

Oliver shut himself inside the door.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This is water.

Why are mothers so mean to each other?

This morning when I picked Oliver up from preschool another mother asked me, in an obviously passive-aggressive manner, why Oliver wasn't wearing a hat.

"It's so cold, don't you worry about his head being cold? I would never let my daughter out without a hat," she said.

Oliver was of course standing right next to me, and he quickly ended the conversation when he spoke up.

"No. It's not cold. I don't want a hat. My coat has a hoodie, see?"

She couldn't really say much after that.  I smiled at her and walked away to my car, but I was so angry at her.

This woman always has her daughter bundled completely from head to toe. The kid looks like a little snow princess in her coordinating hat and boots and scarf and mittens. But you know what? She only has one child and she doesn't even dress her child herself. Her nanny drops off her daughter before school, and after school she has the teachers bundle her daughter and bring her out to the curb.  She never leaves her car.

I was angry because by insulting how my kids go to school, she was insulting me.

I dress both of the kids in the morning myself. I park the car and I walk them inside and I hug Oliver goodbye and I walk back out to the car with Colin. I come back to pick up Oliver on time and I park my car, haul Colin inside, and I help Oliver get dressed to go back out again.

I am the one doing all of that for my son. Not my son's teacher. Not my son's nanny. I. I do it.

I was angry because it is so easy for her to want a perfectly dressed child because she doesn't have to do any of the work. I was angry because I know I'm sitting here doing the best I can with my own two hands, while she is hiring out the dirty work to others.

The angrier I got, the more I started to personally tear her down in my head.

Her daughter isn't as good as my kids are. Her daughter's just a doll. She's pretty to look at, but there is nothing running through that girl's head. She can barely talk. She doesn't play with the other kids. She can't do anything for herself. She's a baby doll, and it's probably because her mother doesn't give her the time of day.

I was really thinking those ugly mean things about a 4 year old and her mother. I probably would have kept stewing in my anger except Oliver piped up from the backseat:

"Why aren't you asking how my day was, Mom?"
"I'm just kind of grumpy."
"Because that other lady made me grumpy."

And then I had to think a lot about what I said to Oliver, because at that point I realized that I was being mean and ugly and terrible to somebody I don't really know. I realized I was being meaner and uglier and more terrible to her than she was to me, even if only in my head. I had to think carefully about what I said to Oliver, because I know he watches what I do. I know he's there studying me and emulating me and I don't ever want him to think it's OK to be mean.

"She hurt my feelings a little."

And that was the truth. I was angry and I was thinking those mean hurtful things about her just because she hurt me a little bit. It was retaliation. It was retaliation over one stupid little thing she said to me that I should easily have been able to turn the other cheek towards.

I want so much for Oliver to grow up continue to be a compassionate person, and I know I have to model that for him. I want Oliver to be a shining example to the world that humans are good and wonderful and amazing, and I have to model that for him too. I want him to be that kind person who only has positive things to say about everyone else, and I'm trying to be that too but it is so so hard. It's an enormous responsibility.

In an effort to make up for all of the hurtful things, I thought about the reasons why that other mom felt like she had to make a snide remark.

 Maybe she truly was concerned about Oliver, and I took it the wrong way. Maybe she's jealous of the awesome relationship I have with my sons. Maybe she spilled her coffee this morning. Maybe she suffers from depression. Maybe she has years and years and years of hurt that she is struggling to deal with. Maybe she needs help because she's going through a terrible divorce. Maybe she needs help because her daughter is battling some unseen illness or disability. Maybe she needs help just because everybody needs help sometimes, and that's okay.

The truth is that I don't know and I probably won't know why she said what she said, and it doesn't matter. She had some reason, right or wrong, that made her say it.  "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle" is the quote that comes to mind. So I will try to be kind. And Oliver will see that. And he will be kind. And others will see that, and they too will be kind. And our tiny corner of the world will be more kind.

As hard as it is for me to be kind, Oliver already gets it.

"Oh. When we get home I will give you a big big BIG hug. Does that sound great?"

He gets it better than I do. If I can just shelter that kindness and let it grow, he will be 10x the person I am.

"Of course, Oliver. That sounds great."

*****Edited to add*****

I wrote this post a month ago, but I never published it. I didn't think it was communicating what I meant to say. I write a lot of posts that I never hit "publish" on. Sometimes they're too personal. Sometimes they're filled with feelings and ideas that I don't want to perpetuate. There are a lot of reasons why some things I write stay hidden.

Today I saw a video somebody put together using a graduation speech by David Foster Wallace, and I was reminded of this post. He says it better than I do. I decided to publish my post with the addition of his good words and a creative video:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, Colin.


Today you're a year old. I've been trying to think of how to start this letter for weeks now, and I still don't know how. There's something about you that is so difficult for me to capture in adjectives and nouns. To say you're inquisitive is an understatement. To say you're troublesome or naughty gives the wrong impression. Your character is so multidimensional that nothing short of seeing you in person can convey your personality. So, instead of trying to describe you, I offer you this story:

Earlier this week I was making your breakfast, and you somehow broke into your baby holy of holies - the bathroom. There is just so much in there that you need so very much to explore. You love sticking your hands into our often-disgusting toilet. You love throwing things into the bowl. You love unraveling and tasting entire rolls of toilet paper. Sometimes you fall face first into the tub with a thump before trying (unsuccessfully) to turn on the tap. You open the cupboards and pull out all of the clean towels. When the towels form a lumpy mountain behind you, you crawl inside the cupboard and refuse to come out.

For all of those reasons, we've learned to keep the bathroom door closed 24 hours a day. I don't know what happened, but last Monday you broke through our defenses and completed the pilgrimage to your baby mecca. I found you there, standing next to the toilet, happily eating a bite of the unnaturally blue toilet cleaner cake.

Understandably, this freaked me out. A bit. Maybe a lot. Your mouth smelled like "mountain clean" to an acutely disturbing degree. You were covered in sparkly blue shrapnel. The cleaner bar and its holder had telltale chomp marks all around it. I rinsed off your mouth and face, then set you down in the living room while I dialed poison control.

As I was reading the packaging to the lady on the phone, you took full advantage of my distracted state and made a beeline to the dog's water dish. Normally you just splash around in the bowl or knock it over, but today you must have really decided to go for the gold. When you're on a roll, you're on a roll. You carried that dog dish to the heating vent in the floor, and you poured it all down there.

But why stop there, right? I mean, where does that hole go? No sane baby would just leave it at that.  What treasures could lie in our ducts? Dog hair clumps? Cookie crumbs? Tetanus?! You had to pry the vent out of the floor and really investigate that hole.  I get it. An opportunity like that couldn't be ignored.

Meanwhile, I was being assured that a baby your size can eat an entire leave-in toilet bowl cleaning disk and suffer no ill effects. Your single large bite would give you nothing but a tummy ache, some potential diarrhea, and a mouth like Mr. Clean. Just as I hung up the phone, I looked over to see you fall into the uncovered vent hole, your leg swallowed up to your thigh by our floors.

And through all of this, do you know what I find to be truly telling of your personality? You were smiling. You laughed. You were having the time of your life! Do you know when you finally started crying?  When I took you away from your dog-water vent and covered it back up.

For the rest of the day I had to stop you over and over again from a repeat performance with that vent. You don't give up easily. You're a determined baby. You're completely driven to discover exactly why every thing off-limits is off-limits. You explore with gusto. I spend all of my day pulling you down from great heights and fishing things out of your mouth. I'm certain you will be our ER baby, but do you know what?  I don't really mind.

You're adventuring the only way a baby knows how, and I love you for that.

I say it time and time again, but we're meant to be a family of adventurers. You fit right in with the rest of us. You've adapted to this circus of our life, and you embrace it. You spur us on. You dare us to push the envelope more and more, and we have so many good things to show for it. You're one more cog in the machine driving us to such great heights.

We're all so glad you're here.

Even though you test my patience to the nth degree.
Even though you create massive laundry piles with your messy exploration.
Even though our doctor bills are sky high from your overzealous injuries.
Even though you destroy the house around us with your curiosity.

Even though life with you is a million times more challenging, we're all so glad to have you that we couldn't imagine it any other way.

Happy Birthday, Colin. We love you.