Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Classic middle child.

B had a recommendation this morning...

We need to leave Z and T with my sister. Then, dh and I can take B on his own, custom-made, vacation to a cabin at the lake - by himself.

Wouldn't that be grand?

Does anyone else note any deep-rooted desire for parental attention?


I thought not.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sometimes, I don't do it on purpose.

I teach biology. I was talking about polydactyly (extra digits) in cats today as an example of genetic drift (I know, blah blah blah). Anyway, the point was that for random reasons, a male tomcat with extra toes sired a large number of offspring in Boston in the patriot days.

Thus, Boston has a disproportionately large number of polydactylous cats.

I pointed out that the success of the original male was just a chance process. There is nothing inherently cool about males with big feet.

Then, I said, it wasn't the big feet that made him sexy.

My college students started to chortle.

It beats hell over last year when I inadvertantly refered to a jellyfish's testicles...

(uh, I mean, uh... tentacles).

I think that I have been studying reproductive biology for too long. Well, if they don't learn anything... at least they are entertained.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Just so you know...

I refer to my oldest child here as "Z".

His name starts with a T. So does my youngest child's name.

So, I refer to the youngest as T and the oldest as Z.

Why? You might ask.

When I was pregnant with my oldest, we had, early on, selected an unusual trio of potential names. We were fairly certain, even, which of the three unusual names we would choose. We didn't want a lot of editorial comments on our choice.

So, when asked about our chosen name for our "yet to be named player" boy - I told them...
"Oh, we've chosen Zoltan"

Then, there was always a long pause.

(ha ha) I said to myself.

They would say "oh, how interesting", or "really?" or "gosh, how did you find that?".

We must be really odd, because they thought... maybe that was serious... better not make fun of it.

So, when said child "Z" was born, and we announced the highly unusual T name... all respondents chirped "Oh, what a lovely name", "He sounds wonderful", or some such.

This d0esn't mean we're not odd (we are), but the name kinda grows on you.

By the way, does Zoltan ring a bell with you?


It was the fortune-telling machine in the Tom Hanks' movie, Big.

So, who asked?

My piece of completely unsolicited advice for the day? We are talking marriage, people.

Not how to keep one going... just how to choose wisely.

Don't we all know the couple that is unhappy because - their spouses are exactly the same as the day they married them?

I tell my kids, when doling out snacks, Popsicles, or (well, anything really): "you get what you get, and you don't pitch a fit". I didn't coin the expression, the daycare did. We got lots of great gems there (including, for the record: "walk away", "that is not your work", and "that is not a safe choice").

In marriage, however, you do get to make a choice... a monumentally important, life-changing, happiness-defining choice. Do it wisely.

By wisely, I mean, don't choose someone because they have great potential. That is, if they changed this, or that, they would be perfect. You are making a Eiffel Tower-sized error if you think that you will be able to pick and choose which traits your spouse should keep. Besides, your spouse is just as perfect as you are.

I know a handful of couples at this very moment where one (or more likely both) spouse is unhappy because their spouse didn't change in the way they had planned. You get what you pay for, nothing more (sad to say).

One couple: the guy lied a bit when he said he would be OK with one child, he really didn't want any... thought he could put her off until it was too late. She lied a little when she said she'd be OK with just one. Yup, they have had major struggles.

Another couple: She said she'd be OK with his continuing most of his "guy" activities (being mostly a widow while he dashes about running, hashing, and hanging out with the guys). He said he'd want to spend a bit more time with her and back off a bit on the guy time. Struggling, as we speak (well, as I pontificate... and almost no one reads my ponderous crap).

I made this mistake the first time around. I thought... he's young... he'll grow up. Nope. Another case of arrested development.

This time around. My husband isn't perfect and neither am I. I knew that I married a frugal man that doesn't like (to give or receive) surprises, speaks as he thinks, and is organized to the edge of OCD. He knew and still married a woman that will never be organized, forgets anniversaries (we got married on New Year's Day, and I've still mucked it up!) and birthdays (his, last year... oops), and misplaces everything. He likes technical literature, I am a bookworm. But, it all works out... because we accepted our respective idiosyncrasies. I love dogs (and have a pain-in-the-ass golden retriever) and he thinks that dogs are outside toys.

I did know that I married: a phenomenal listener, a man with inhuman patience, a caring individual, a man that needs space and time to organize his thoughts (damn, the man takes a long time paying our bills - but, he balances his checkbook to the penny). I didn't even guess then that he would be the most awesome dad ever (knew he'd be good, but didn't know the extent). Even if he'll never really surprise me (I don't love surprises either), won't say things just to be nice, thinks spending money on frills (like curtains) is excessive, and sleeps through anything - I love him to death.

Maybe he will (maybe he won't) get a card from me on New Years' Day this year... but, he knows I love him.

You get exactly what you marry (sometimes more, but you don't get to choose which parts).

Friday, September 21, 2007

No, we didn't argue.

Geez, I am tired.

I slept terribly from 3:00 am until I climbed back into bed at 6:30. I am supposed to get up at about 6:30 - but, that didn't happen until nearly 7 (maybe even after 7, I was a bit fuzzy this morning). I still am a bit fuzzy, a cup of depth-charge coffee didn't do it, now I am working on some diet pepsi. I teach in 20 minutes, and I hope to (by then) know a little more than my students. Maybe not. Sadly, it is parent's weekend, and this brain-dead mom will have a few parents in class. They will wonder what they are spending their money on.

Bossy: If you read this, remember when you attend a class with your son next year during his parent's weekend that maybe the professor didn't sleep well the night before.

You see, T woke up shrieking for daddy at one a.m. I was too exhausted from soccer night, first grade homework, pre-K homework, grading quizzes, finding something (old and used clothes to choose from) for first grade photos today, and scraping dog poop off of the driveway to negotiate. So, I toted the little guy to our bed; shoved him toward dh and chirped "there's daddy". Then, I went back to sleep.

Then, I woke up at three because the little guy was screaming "NO, B, NO", and kicking me in the head. What was he yelling at? I tried to roll over to see what was going on... I couldn't quite stretch out. Hmmm... short sheeted? No. Um, sheets tangled? No. Um, hey, what is that? B? Why are you laying across the foot of our bed?

So, now B is awake too. "I need my tooty dog! Where is he?"

"I can't look for tooty dog at three am. Geez, quit kicking me in the head."

DH is blissfully sleeping through it all. It's a gift he has. I love him anyway.

So, pissing and moaning, I wander away... "I can't sleep with all of this."

B says "Mommy, are you getting tooty dog?"

"No... (mumble, mumble)".

For the first time in married life, one of us sleeps on the couch.

As it turns out... no shoes on the couch meant take your shoes off on the couch to someone and it is covered with playground sand. Oh, and the afghan is gone so I cover up with the throw pillows. I had crazy dreams for three hours until I heard dh start the shower.

I climbed back into dh's side of the bed at 6:30 (B was on my side, T was in the middle). T, half asleep, hits me in the head because I pulled the covers over his legs.

DH leans out of the shower and chirps, "where were you? Couldn't sleep?"

Grumble, grumble, (I hope that I got some sand on your side of the bed).

Good morning!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Aw man... who did that?

It was my turn to read to Z's first grade class this Tuesday.

But, I was in a meeting instead (see previous post).

So, my dh, J did the reading instead.

In the interest of having Z's dad read some really fun stuff, we found a theme to the books.

So, I bought "Walter, the Farting Dog", "Dog Breath: the Story of HalleyTosis", and "The Man Who Loved Cheese".

Yes, we really did bring up the level of sophistication in the classroom.

To make the cultural atmosphere just a little more elevated - I also purchased, with these book selections, a plush version of Walter.

Guess what?

That plush version of Walter... go on... give him a hug.

You guessed it.

Now, if you can believe it. B cried bloody murder for (seemingly) hours at bedtime last night because.... he had to sleep with tooty dog.

Isn't this charming?

What have I done?

Next, kids, work together to make a man out of pipe-cleaners*.

I had to go to a meeting yesterday morning. The topic was how to make our campus website interesting, compelling for prospective students, and more useful in general. You see, I control the web content for my department - what I am allowed to change .

When I walked through the door, I groaned inwardly. I think that my inward groan was loud enough to disrupt electromagnetic pulses the world around. Did you notice that little blip at 9:00 am EST yesterday?

Why did I groan? I groan at a lot of meetings. You see, I am a scientist. While this doesn't mean that I am a thoughtless, emotionally stilted automaton (well, I might be, but that isn't relevant here) - it does mean that I hate cutesy, touchy-feely crap in a meeting. If I want to chat and "share" with people, I'll do it on my own time (thankyouverymuch) and probably over a beer. I do not enjoy "sharing" random stuff with people I don't know when we have a perfectly good agenda to get through.

But, you say, you just walked through the door - how did you know that this meeting was worth that kind of groan?

It was the tables... they were covered with (ugh) boxes of colorful markers, and (gack) post-it notes, and (oh, man, this is gonna suck!) poster board.

The BIG surprise... we weren't asked to share our biggest life ambition, tell about the most random dream we have ever had, or play any other stupid "ice-breaker" game. And, the meeting was actually worthwhile and helpful.

Yes, it didn't really need to take 3 1/2 hours. But, it was (in general) a worthwhile use of my time and I didn't sit there resentful. I think that I will be able to make tangible improvements in our web design from his useful techniques.

I may be cynical - but, I'll count that as a win.

*Contrast that to GeeseAplenty

Monday, September 17, 2007

A few easy steps to quick car service.

Every once in a while, some other blogger describes in detail mentions that their disgusting offspring lovely child yacked. While I know that they are only mentioning this because they were completely grossed out in love and care for said offspring; I share the following because it was absolutely disgusting. And, in all honesty, what could possibly be more fun than someone else's misery, eh?

Imagine, if you will, about 2 1/2 years ago.

T was still in the oven. I need to point out that I am not a delicate flower that gets a little basketball to smuggle under my shirt when pregnant. I grow in disgusting proportions. I loved being pregnant. I did not love, however, that my belly prevented me from fitting in restaurant booths and that my ass got just as big. I didn't like that I not only couldn't do the bikini shave, I couldn't even see those parts. I didn't bounce around like a bouyant soon-to-be mom, I lumbered. I remember looking at my ankles and marveling - how the hell did I ever reach those to pull on socks before?

So, imagine my lumbering ass carting a 2 1/2 year old (35 pound) B around.

DH (who gets up earlier than I do and starts breakfast for the wrecking crew) told me when I lumbered in the latest tent maternity wear to the kitchen that B seemed a wee bit "off" that morning.

I thought, well, I am just getting the car serviced this morning, and won't get much work done today anyway. Hell, I'll just pull him from daycare. If he had a problem there, not only do they scold you, but you get the dreaded pink paper to sign saying that he can't come back until he shows complete intestinal integrity (meaning two days of lumbering, sweaty and huffing, after a two year old).

So, off we go, to service the car. I peed before I left the house, took the fifteen minute drive to the service station, peed once I got there, and sat down to chase a cranky toddler around the fancy, brand-spanking-new (carpeted, upholstered, painted) waiting room. I went to pee again (it had been at least 20 minutes).

The bathroom there was kind of large, no stalls. So, I took B in with me. He could reach the door (and was ready to open it). So, I dragged him over to the john, and tried to hold his hand while I was on the john. He wouldn't be contained that way (dragging, screaming, trying to flop to the floor). So, to pee in their bathroom, I had to hold B on my lap. Then, I held the door with my foot while I put myself back together. Back to play with their new train table in the waiting room.

Hmmmmm. B is starting to take on a green tinge. He doesn't seem quite as happy. Indeed, he seems almost frenetic. I took him out to the tiled lobby (where he tried climbing into all of the new showroom models). "No, not in the cars dear".

"Come on, dear, mommy needs to use the potty again".

So, in we went. B was really squirmy. So, up onto my lap he went while I peed. That is when things get interesting.

He gets that look, the about to erupt look (confused, grimacing, coughing, ut-oh). So, I lift him and start to hold him out in front of me. But, there isn't enough room in front of me. So, when he starts to throw up (projectile fashion) the puke starts on my chest and cascades (two whole yogurts, an orange juice, and an oatmeal - smells spoiled - oh, and chunky too) down my front and (given my belly at that time) globs of puke roll from my belly into my underwear. So, I start to readjust to avoid more puke in my underpants and it starts to drip down the back of my pants. I readjust, it drips down the front of my pants and down the front of B. I set him on the floor (but I had to hold his hand as he struggled to get away, crying and shrieking). He pukes again. He starts his pathetic crying.

I grab gobs of toilet paper and start wiping him off. He cries. He pukes more. The paper sticks to his face. It sticks to his shirt. I have to hold his hand hostage. The toilet is now full of puke-covered toilet paper - so, I flush. Don't you hate the feeling of flushing a toilet while you sit on it. It gets worse... it overflows. Puke, paper, and etc. start flowing all over the bathroom.

I start to try to get the gobs of puke out of my underpants and the inside (and outside) of my pants and off the front of my shirt as nuclear waste flows all over the floor. I took B over to the sink, but I had to carry him now because the he was in absolute panic and escape mode - the puking scared the little guy.

Finally, and imagine this, I will never (in my life) forget this feeling - I had to cut my losses and stand up and pull up my pants to leave the bathroom. Pull those wet, gobby puke filled underpants and pants with bits of paper in them over my monstrous thighs, over my pregnant belly, up until they would stay put.

On the other hand. You have never seen service personnel finish auto service faster. They had my car done and to the front of the shop in the time it took to gag everyone else in the shop (about a millisecond).

Now, you can just imagine how nice it felt to sit down in my freshly fixed car.

Friday, September 14, 2007

B, a man.

B and I had this long discussion in the car yesterday. T turned two earlier this week, so B wanted to know what he is now.

That is, T used to be a baby.

Then, he got mobile, started walking and messing with everyone's stuff, so we called him a toddler.

B wants to know what he is now. Well, he used to be a baby. (yup). Now he is a toddler (no, he was a toddler when he was one). Yeah, he still is a toddler (no, he was that last year). He still is.

You see, you start as a baby. Then you start toddling and you are a toddler. Then, you turn into a little boy. Then you are a big boy. Then you grow into a man. (that takes 21 days, says B - B has an unusual sense of time)

No, not 21 days. (how long then?).

Good question.

I have been struggling with this lately. Someone close to me (we'll call him H), is turning fifty. Isn't that a man?

Except, this very dear person hasn't ever really grown up. There is no sense of ownership and responsibility. H has never kept a long-term job ("the bastards fired me, for no reason", H is always gobsmacked when fired). H has never learned that sometimes even if you yacked during the night (or your pillow wasn't soft enough), you have to go to work. H has never learned that it is fair for a company to expect payment for services (even if the company is wealthy, or the salesperson was an asshole). It is not unfair that people have nicer things than you, it is because they have worked hard (and reliably) and saved. Even if they were just lucky and have wealthy parents (even if it they are complete shitheads), it isn't unfair, it is life - get over it and worry about yourself. H has never learned that you should focus your personal relationships on people that treat you with respect and love, rather than those that shit on you and lie. H has never learned (even with people that he loves and that love him back) to follow through; show up when you say you will and be there when people need you. Even though H is important in my life, I avoid making plans with H, because I can count on him either being late (best case scenario) or calling with a last minute (usually fabricated and transparently so) excuse.

So, when does a boy become a man? Some people never do.

I sure hope that I live to see all of my boys become men.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Random bits and pieces

First, with respect to B's pre-school class. I spoke with the director of the facility (he and I know each other through other avenues, so it was pretty comfortable). He was concerned, apparently, that this would be a problem - he has been watching her closely as he feels that transition is too rapid and her techniques too harsh (for lack of a better term). He will have a discussion with D. at her weekly curricular meeting with him. He also plans to speak with many of the children in the room to try to feel out more broadly what concerns they have. I love that every time I have had a concern at the center, he has been quick to respond. I also love that, in general (other than this one teacher) the staff are kind, loving, informed, and real teachers (not babysitters). My children have learned a lot about playing well together, making friends, and other social skills in addition to their numbers, letters, and how to stay in line. I am watching carefully, listening, and ready to act as needed; but am optimistic about the response.

Second, T had a fabulous birthday. Our house was absolute chaos with seven kids running around. We had a good time. Then, yesterday, my dad came over for a second party (with presents). The big boys spent their own money on presents for the first time ever, and I was thrilled to see them fight over when T would open their present and at the thoughtfulness of their selections. That said, the soccer ball that I bought for my dad to give to T was the big hit - he slept with it last night, waking up whenever the ball rolled off of his belly and out of his arms. How sweet.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Two years ago...

I had been in and out of labor for nine days. I knew that this was the real deal.
I was so eager to have a great birth experience. My first one had been horrendous (ending with a basically abusive OB forcing me to have a c-section). My second had been a good planned homebirth, but not fabulous. The third was going to be the charm.

No one had told T about my plan. He was quite happy where he was, thankyouverymuch, and didn't wish to be bothered.

He was fat and happy in there and this contraction nonsense was interfering with his quality time.

He arrived after a very challenging five hours of very hard pushing, moaning, swearing, climbing stairs, getting in and out of the tub, and doing everything but hang from the rafters. I muttered "shit" about 33,000 times that night (but, only dropped the F-bomb once).

My youngest prince arrived at 8:00 a.m. He made his way into the world forehead first (posterior), which, you ladies who've been there know - sucks. For those of you that don't - just imagine pulling on that really tight turtleneck sweater over your forehead first rather than the crown of your head, then imagine someone's elses backbone attached to the sweater, and now you know what my tailbone thought about this.

My little bouncing boy was surely happy where he'd been - he weighed a whopping 10 lbs, 12 oz. Or, as my father suggested, "hell, that's a really respectable bass - but, if your sister had weighed it - it woulda come in over 15". There he is with me while I call my siblings.

My, little guy, you've come a long way. We love you from here to the moon and back.

A tough week.

Last time, I indicated that B had completely melted down in the morning. I (justifiably) blamed myself for initiating that particular situation. However, B has melted down about a dozen dramatic more times since then. Notably, including me carrying him kicking and screaming across the parking lot at the pizza place, threatening to take him to school in his pajamas, and him shrieking unabated at bedtime until our house spontaneously combusted (is there insurance for this). He has been increasingly out of control and, when he gets that way, he simply shuts down and cannot speak. My little charmer sometimes has a "failure to communicate".

In a quiet moment while I was driving him to daycare this morning, I got a little glimpse of what rattled the poor boy. "Hey buddy, you are having a tough week, how is it going in your new classroom?" I was met with silence, which, with B, is not unusual. Then, he cautiously added that "Miss D scares me, I don't like her". A long pause... "I HATE pink house".

It turns out that his new daycare teacher frightens him. She comes from a military background, and other than making the kids do pushups when the misbehave, never letting them play, and yelling in their faces at line-up; she seems ok. Well, that explains everything. I said that it is ok not to like her, you don't have to like everyone, but you have to be polite. Focus on the two teachers in the room that you do like. Try to have the best day you can. Mommy and Daddy will discuss this and find some way for you to be more comfortable. I later find out that some other kids are having a difficult time adjusting as well. I want him to be happy, and I certainly don't want him to hate school before he gets there.

How to deal with this?

Do I talk to her and risk upsetting her and making it worse?
Do I talk to her co-workers for advice and run the risk of her hearing second-hand?
Do I quit my job, stay home, and protect him forever?
Do I switch him to a different daycare with a kinder, gentler preschool?

Tune in next week for the continuing saga of the guilty, working mom.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

setting the kind of example my children follow...

It is so important, as a parent, to note that your children follow your example.

If you are polite, they might say please as a matter of course. If you clear your place, they expect that to be part of dining. If you stay in your seat at the table, they may learn appropriate dining manners. If you brush your teeth and floss, they may learn good dental care. If you are a reader, your child might love books.

If you get frustrated, lose your temper and shout at random people in your house - they might learn to do that. Like I did - this morning.

Shortly afterwards, B got frustrated, started shouting, lost his temper, and kicked his brother (I didn't kick anyone). I set a total shit example and, clearly, my child was watching.

Just imagine this guy shouting in a shrill voice and lashing out at his adoring brother because he didn't want to pull on his underpants without help.

That pretty much sums it up. Don't I feel like the mother of the year.