Friday, March 28, 2014

Big Brothers.

Every day, without fail, Colin wakes up from his nap with an enormous bulging diaper full of pee. And every day, Colin pats his bulging diaper and tells me, "Baby is in here!"

I have had this conversation with him many, many times. No matter how many times I tell him that the urine-soaked gel in his diaper isn't a baby, he gives me this look that says, "OH YOU. What do you know? Ha. Great joke. Is definitely a baby."

I've tried explaining to him that he's going to be a big brother, but the second those two words escape my lips Colin shouts, "Oliver! Oliver! Oliver!"

In Colin's mind, Oliver = Big Brother. There is only one. There can only be one. And that one is Oliver. End of discussion. Anything else would be considered blasphemy.

Colin is going through a stage right now where he is completely enamored with Oliver. Colin has taken it upon himself to be Oliver's constant laugh-track. If Oliver says or does anything that Colin thinks could in some way  be construed as a joke, Colin announces, "Ha! Is funny!" and then heartily fake laughs.

If Oliver laughs, Colin laughs.
If Oliver cries, Colin cries.
If Oliver eats yogurt, Colin will eat yogurt, whether he actually wants it or not.

Within the last month or so, Oliver started allowing Colin into his bedroom. Colin is now permitted to look at and sometimes even touch items that belong to Oliver's "treasure" collection. The first time I saw Colin carrying one of Oliver's beloved rocks I practically tackled Colin to rip it out of his fingers. I was 100% shocked when Oliver told me that he had given that rock to Colin. It was one of his "very specialest" rocks in his collection.

Later that day, I had a discussion with Oliver about sharing things. I told him that sometimes it's okay to really really like something and just keep it for yourself.  I told him he didn't have to give his specialest sparkly rock to Colin if he didn't want to.  I offered the rock back to Oliver, but he wouldn't take it. He said,

"Well, Colin really likes it too. Colin doesn't have any rocks, and I have a lot of rocks. And I want him to feel happy."

And then suddenly somebody in the room started chopping onions and my eyes started to water. Oh man, that got me. For all of the times I worried that I would have to keep the boys segregated throughout their whole childhoods, it was nice to see a sign of that brotherhood. No matter how many times in the day I have to break up their fights, they're still buds. It's the best thing in the world.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Chocolate chip cookies.

I asked Oliver if he'd like to make chocolate chip cookies with me tonight. He had two questions: 1. Can I measure the ingredients myself? and 2. Can I have a cookie when they're done?

I agreed to both demands and so we made cookies. When we were done with the mixer, Oliver asked to lick the dough off of the beater. I thought about all of the times I got to lick the beaters when I was young. Hell, I still lick the inside of the bowl if I am feeling particularly indulgent.

So, I told him to go for it.

"Don't tell me what to do! I can measure it by myself."

Colin is Oliver's constant shadow. Especially during such exciting times as these.

Licking the batter.

On Wednesdays I take an ECFE class with Colin. He really enjoys it, but sometimes the parent portion of the class drives me crazy. It's mostly filled with fretful mothers of just one child, so some of the questions they ask can border on obsessive worrying.

"If I don't give my son what he wants, he will go for 12 hours without eating!" (Big deal.)
"My daughter doesn't show interest in the finger plays! What do I do?" (Who cares.)
"Can I let my son sleep in a wet diaper or should I wake him up?" (Who would ever wake up a happily sleeping kid?!)

They clucked at me when I told them all that I took down the baby gate, but do you know what? Colin has fallen down the steps the least of all of us.  In fact, the one time (it was while we still had the gate up, even) Colin fell down the stairs, he laughed about it. But the other parents don't see it that way. They just see a big red "DANGER DANGER DANGER" sign and assume we should still have the gate up and the bumper pads on the furniture and video monitor capturing his every move. I just don't see it that way.

A couple of weeks ago, somebody gave their definition of parenthood as being the "protector of our children from all danger."

That might sound nice and all, but sometimes I think a little danger is good for a kid. Colin is the best climber in his class because I let him climb.  Not just on the rounded plastic preschool toys but on the playground and in trees and on rocks and other things that he finds. Colin can sometimes open his own packages because I carefully taught him how to use a pair of safety scissors. Oliver knows the basic concepts of cooking and measuring and using the mixer because I let him try those things out on his own. I let him taste the dough because who doesn't love raw cookie dough, even if it means gambling on the 1 in 30,000 odds of getting salmonella. I put plates of steaming food down in front of the kids and warn them, "It's hot! Don't touch." and so now they know not to touch. I let the kids play in their bedrooms together where I can hear but not see them, and now they can sometimes solve their own problems. It's made them co-conspirators.

All of those other parents wouldn't dream of letting their kids do these things, but so far it's worked really well for us. When I say something is dangerous, they know it's dangerous and not maybe-possibly-you-could-be-a-little-hurt. Both of my boys are independent and competent and happy. I'm happy that I don't have to worry so much. With this situation, everybody is winning.

(Except for those other poor mothers who must take up my share of worrying for me.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The only time I'll ever admit to watching Maury.

Today was the day for the big ultrasound. I showed up to the clinic and checked in like I normally do. Then they called me up to the counter and said, "Haha, we were just kidding, you can't have your ultrasound today! Even though we told you to schedule it for right now, we still can't do it for you for another 10 days. You're not pregnant enough! Come back next time!"

Then I showed them my fist and said, "Would you like a knuckle sandwich?" and they all started quaking in their boots and changed their minds and said I could have the ultrasound after all.

(Or maybe I just whined and pointed out that they told me to schedule my appointment for today and that it is really hard to get a babysitter for two small boys and then drive out to the middle of nowhere for an appointment over a long bumpy road with a full bladder. Also, Can't you just try so I don't have to go through this whole thing again?)

They took pity on me and let me have the scan done today, and guess what! It worked out just fine. Just like Google said it would.  Just like all of the baby books said. Just like I thought it would. They got all of their measurements and whatever else they needed more easily than they did with either of my other kids. For all of the stink they made, they really had no reason to complain in the end.

Now I'm the only one left with anything to complain about, because I have to save and organize 4,000 more boxes of boy clothes for the rest of my life.

Yeah. We're having another boy.

Although, if I had to guess from this picture I would have gone with a squirrel or something with claws.
 Ugh. I was so looking forward to getting rid of that stuff. I hate the sorting. I hate the boxing and unboxing. I hate playing the game of looking at stains and wondering, "Will this come out? Should I try to scrub this clean? Do I give up and throw this away?"

This morning while we were all getting ready, Jared quoted his favorite line from an old Maury episode we watched back in the days when we had no Netflix and only two broadcast channels.

"Those babies ain't mine; I can't make girls!"

The strung out guy on the TV show was right in the end: the baby girls weren't his. And I guess it turns out that Jared is in the same boat as that guy. Now he will forever joke that he "can't have girls."

Who can argue with the science and knowledge showcased on Maury Povich? Certainly not I.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Here comes the sun.

This morning when I picked up Oliver from school, he walked outside and said, "The whole world is melting!"

It is. People are outside shoveling waves of slush-water out of their driveways. Colin stepped in lake-sized puddles, soaking his shoes and jeans. A robin bathed in the middle of the road.  On the drive home, I sped through the water on the sides of the road for the fun of it, giant tsunamis soaring up past the kids' windows.

By the time we got to our driveway, Colin was having such a good time shouting "Splash! Splash! Oh no!" that I drove around the block once more. Just for fun.

I am finally starting to get things done around here. People aren't sick anymore.  There are no more medications to administer. No more piles of disgusting sick linens to wash. I still occasionally throw up and I still get dizzy when standing up and bending over, but I'm feeling pretty good. I've started making a few dinners here and there. We bought new furniture and got it set up in the living room. I designated some boxes of junk for Goodwill. I set up a list of things we have to buy for the new baby and/or transition to the boys sharing a bedroom. I ordered new plants to replace the dead/ugly specimens in the yard.

After two long years, we took down the baby gate at the top of the steps. It feels like our whole house suddenly opened up. I can carry a laundry basket up the stairs without fussing with the gate. I can walk in the front door with arms full of groceries and just walk right into the house. It seems so much more welcoming. I didn't even notice how oppressive that stupid baby gate felt, but by its absence I have been freed. Silly, isn't it? How liberating it can be to take down a baby gate?

But anyway. I guess my point is that if you want to come over now and enjoy our new couches, you can. Colin and Oliver sure are.