We spent the week at the beach. Little Seth survived this excursion with all remaining teeth intact. He has however developed a much greater vocabulary since the first vacation and is now able to say, “I fell on rock” when you ask, “where’s your tooth?”
It was a very nice week from which I walked away with a few insights.
- Some people say that they take their kids outside or to a playground or somewhere to let them run around for a couple hours and tire them out so that they sleep better. I realized that to tire out my boys, we have to spend 2 hours on the beach, 2 hours at the pool and hot tub, back for 1.5 hours on the beach and 2.5 hours in the pool/hot tub. Sunshine, sand castles and surf-boards definitely required. Then and only then will they fall asleep. (In fact, after 3 days of this schedule, Micah fell asleep at 5:12 pm one evening and slept through the night….until 5:30 the next morning!)
- My mother and sister are fantastic! They let me get out 3 mornings for a run – it was delightful to have a break from the boys (especially the morning that Micah decided to have a fit).
- In general, I have a rule of “no TV on vacation” – this rule, however, has a couple exceptions, such as “except when you’re really bothering me and I need some quiet” and “except when we’re staying in a small condo with glass furniture and you are really being a pest to the other boys,” and naturally “except when it’s a continuous rain day.”
- I spent one of my runs pondering names. I realized I have trouble while writing this blog remembering what the boys’ “fictional” names are, so I’ve decided to start using their real names:
- Little Guy is the tiny little two-year-old. He gets that name because he really is very small….in comparison to the rest of the boys around him. He probably looks quite huge, though, if you’re a long-haired teddy bear hamster.
- Mr. Ornery is the four-year-old, who is actually more impish (mischievous) than he is ornery (ill-tempered), but let’s face it – “Mr. Ornery” has a better ring than “Mr. Imp” so I plan to use it despite Merriam-Webster’s definitive definition. Mr. Ornery likes to run around in cahoots with my sister’s 3-year-old son, henceforth to be referred to as “The Rascal.” The Rascal is really a mix of Dennis the Menace, Curious George and Tansmanian Devil. He is brilliant and knows exactly what he should and shouldn’t do….and therefore does all the “shouldn’t do’s” in as rapid a sequence as possible. I have often said that The Rascal has a “two minute leash” – if you can’t see where he is and what he’s doing within 2 minutes, you better get off your bum and go find him. Of late, I’ve noted that Mr. Ornery and The Rascal have a “1 minute leash” whenever they disappear together. The Rascal has had 2 haircuts in the past 2 weeks by a Mr. Ornery who denies the very possibility even when the evidence is within his own hands.
- Super Tall Boy – this is my attempt to be edifying towards the 7-year-old, because I’m more likely to call him “The Grump” than any other descriptor….but that seems a bit judgmental. Actually, I have told Super Tall Boy several (and I mean MANY) times now, that I am going to officially change his name to “One.” Now that he knows my joke, he actually gets grumpy when I say it, but I do remind him that I can call him by his “real” name 4 or 5 times, but I never get a response. However, if I say “O-n-e” in just that tone, I get an immediate “what?” I used to consider this a joke until this afternoon, when The Rascal had disappeared for 117 seconds and I thought I better find him. I called his name 7 or 8 times as I walked around the house. Finally, I said “Rascal, I’m going to put you in time out if you don’t come out……One….” As soon as the word “one” left my mouth, ST Boy who was playing a video game in the other room said “What?!?” I laughed – deny it as much as you’d like, but your name is “One.”
- By an eagle’s flight, the beach is 10 hours from our house. It took us over 15 hours to get home yesterday. We reached our driveway around 1:20 am and I carried the younger two boys up to bed. This woke them up and they chattered and played for a few minutes until getting to sleep. Consequently, I have little alertness tonight and off to bed….hoping for more than 4 hours tonight. I am a night owl….I wish my boys weren’t morning birds!
At a late dinner tonight, I turned to my sister and asked, “So, did you sign up for any school lunches yet?” She said that’s one of her biggest disappointments so far in the new school the older boys will attend in two weeks – a lack of a real cafeteria to make hot lunches. I mentioned I really hated making school lunches as Micah has such a limited array in his diet (hmm, strawberry or grape in his jelly sandwich?). She agreed that it was good when the school provided lunches because it gave the boys exposure to foods they normally wouldn’t eat at all.
And then it hit me….
The absolutely incredible responsibility I have for how these boys turn out on so many different levels! (Well, this isn’t the first time it did, but it’s another time it did.) From the miniscule of what foods I offer to the boys….to the grandiose of what places we visit on vacation. From the school that they enter….to the music that they listen to. What I provide shapes so much of their life. Playing sports, appreciating art, learning an instrument. I mean, why would they ever eat a mushroom? I never serve any.
And part of what I do in shaping their scale of choices is such a function of my own experiences and likes. And I’m particularly conscious of the fact that although my boys are biracial (equally Caucasian and African American)….they are growing up “White” for that is what I know. So when a man passing us on the beach today remarks about Noah, “what a great tan he has,” I just smile and say “wouldn’t his skin be great?” …knowing that his beautiful coloring is more natural him than the sun’s effects.
I know that the boys have true rhythm within them, but I don’t dance. I know that I say Micah should play basketball rather than football when he grows up, and yet we all watch the Steelers together and rarely turn on a basketball game. My boys wear the clothes they wear because my sense of style fills their drawers. They eat what I generally eat (sometimes) because I put it on the table. They are learning my comfort level.
We are at the beach this week. It gives me a small bit of time to wane philosophic in the midst of stressing to make sure the head pops back up after the wave passes, balls remain an “outside toy” rather than fly through the “adult-focused” beach condo, and keeping a close eye out for any rocks or other hidden obstacles that might attempt to knock Seth’s other front tooth out!
My mothering bucket list:
- Travel into and/or through as many states as possible
- Visit the National Parks
- Make sure they learn piano no matter how much they hate it and how expensive the bribes become
- Model more reading for pleasure
- Camp in a tent for at least two nights in a row (sleeping in a friend’s backyard and sneaking into the house in the middle of the night doesn’t count, does it?!?)
Help me….what else needs to be on my bucket list?
I wasn’t trying to stare. But I kept stealing glances. Looks a lot like a stroller, but definitely a wheelchair. Somewhere around age 6 to 8. Large head. Thick glasses. Spastic stiff legs. The mother sat beside me. We were waiting for the eye doctor. Seth was back for a check-up about his left eye which tended to drift off and find its own interesting things to look at, but was now behaving and working as a team player with the other eye.
The doctor was running unusually late. We mentioned that to each other. Slowly we chatted a little more – she’s 5, 77 pounds, can’t walk, doesn’t sleep so the mother is up for two nights and sleeps two nights. “You going to be here for a few minutes?” (apparently!!) “Oh yes,” I responded and she went off to the bathroom. She was so thankful when she returned, saying that she never does that – leaving her daughter alone – but she just had to. I commiserated that she must spend a lot of time at appointments. I’m not sure I could do that.
My boys jump off couches (even the 2-foot-24-pound 2-year old), dive into pools, and climb trees…all today. They cut each others’ hair, spill milk on the carpet, and kick in glass windows. They irritate each other. They irritate me. They fuss, they whine, they yell (well, so do I). Yet, they are (generally) healthy and full of life. They are exhausting, but they are full of life.
We visited with a friend of mine at a new pool today. Micah and Noah ran in and out of the water (the lifeguard says “no running,” the Mommy says “no running,” the paint on the cement says “no running”)….Micah and Noah ran in and out of the water and up and down a little hill. Seth chased them except whenever they got close to the water and Mommy blocked his goal. As she left with her two small quiet children, my friend remarked, “wow, they are really active. I don’t know how you do it.”
I guess if I would pause to think of what an energy drain they are (as I am now), I would be totally and completely exhausted (as I am now). Throw the football. Throw the baseball. Hit the birdie. I think I have lateral epicondylitis (pain) in my right elbow tonight after a full day of throwing.
And sometimes I pause and wonder if I’m just being too carefree with them. Should I reign in some of that energy? Should I be more firm? Are they too rambunctious? These are questions that are probably too reflective, too serious for someone in my exhausted condition….
Overheard in the other room: “Look, I have painted fingernails….isn’t that awesome?”
“I love you this much, Noah.” “I love you to the sun.” “Oh, yeah, well I love you to Pluto, Noah.” (still wanting it to be a planet) “Yes, but I love you to New Jersey…that’s far isn’t it?”
“Mommy, when I grow up, I’m going to be Mr. Incredible. He’s stronger than the whole earth!”
“You had a really good day today, Micah.” “I know – I was only in time-out one time, or maybe two times. That’s good. That’s much better than 6 or 7 times.”