Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pajama game

I just spent the last two hours dealing with unparalleled irrationality. I had the audacity to suggest to my son that he might wear short pajamas tonight instead of his usual fleece feety pajamas or his long sleeve/long pants combo with socks (never without socks). It is 85 degrees outside tonight. The sun has been down for two hours and the heat is still radiating. It is freaking hot by all accounts so why, in the name of GEORGE JESUS, does my son insist on wearing FLEECE PAJAMAS. I don't get it. It makes no sense. Most of what he does makes no sense but I have come to deal with most of it because most of his nonsense will not cause heat stroke. But when I go in there at night and he's literally roasting in his own sweat, I have to wonder if it's healthy to indulge this, yet another, completely irrational behavior.

So I put my foot down. I said, you want to wear longs, you have to put them on yourself. If you want to wear shorts, I'll put them on right now. So for the next hour he just cried and cried. I finally couldn't take it anymore so I went in there and slapped my fist down on the floor next to his head to scare him and growled, "you will wear these shorts!" Then I sat on him and put those red shorts on while he screamed and kicked. I turned off the light, closed the door and walked away. He continued to shriek.

Five minutes later he walks out wearing his long sleeve shirt tucked into his long pants. He actually did it himself. Then, through his snuffly tears, he asked me to sing him his songs for bedtime. So we went to my bed and we talked about what all had went down and I explained that I just want him to be cool at night. And I apologized for yelling at him. Then I sang him his song and after he said, "Mommy, I think I just want to sleep in my underwear on the bottom." Like it was his idea. Then five minutes later while I'm tucking him in, he says, "Mommy, I think I don't want to wear my shirt. I just want to sleep in my underwear."

WHY DOES HE HAVE TO FIGHT IT!?!? Please tell me there is some evolutionary benefit to him for going through this process. Because I'll tell you straight up I see no benefit for me. In fact, I see major detriment. It's a nightmare to deal with this stuff. And we do it EVERY NIGHT. Every single night there is some kind of mental breakdown over pajamas, or socks, or stories, or teeth or songs. I mean he is lying next to me with sweat pouring down his head and he's telling me he wants to wear his long pajamas. WHY? I don't get it. I guess it's not for me to get. Just for me to navigate. We'll see where we end up tomorrow. Who am I kidding? The minute I fall asleep tonight, he'll be in my room sobbing to have his fleece pajamas back on. And the space heater.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Second shift

As I was driving home from work today I was hatching a plan for the afternoon's activities. It's always around 4:00 as I'm getting in my car to pick up my kids that I start to assess the second shift. Is there food in the house? Is it hot out? Should we go to the park before we eat? Should we go to the park after we eat? Should we even bother with park? What about the blow up pool? Should I invite friends over? Should THEY bring dinner? Should I invite friends over to bring dinner and watch my kids while I go to the movies...?

I knew that today would be at least an order of magnitude less chaotic because Maria came this morning and cleaned the house. I just find it to be next to impossible to cook anything when the kitchen is a pit of disaster. So I called my friend and she met us at home with her son. And it was hot today so I decided to move forward with the blow-up pool idea. Dinner was still a question mark but I figured I'd wing something.

It's so hard to balance though because my kids have to eat something right when they get home. They're starving and unless I've prepared meals for the whole week ahead of time, it's likely they'll have to wait. Which is only my own fault so I give them snacks. But if they eat too many snacks then they don't eat dinner. Genius, I know. It only took me like two years to figure that one out with my son.

Meanwhile, back at the pool, the kids are stripped naked, the pool is five inches deep and I am loving it because they're happy and I have time to think about my next move. Then suddenly, without notice, all three kids abort the pool idea and come trampling in the house dripping wet including the baby who's carrying with her three liters of pool water in her swim diaper. So we switch gears. I hustle everyone outside again and bring out the blueberries. Then my kids sit on the porch naked for the next half hour eating blueberries. Meanwhile I've thrown chicken in the over, steamed some broccoli, and brought out the finger paints for the next round of inspired activities.

So we move on to sidewalk painting, also known as"paint your baby sister." And the chicken is still cooking so I break out the cherries and baby girl is now covered in green paint and red cherry dribble, just as happy as she can be, until finally some food is ready so we pile into the house and the kids eat dinner in their underwear.

And I am so tickled to see sun kissed kids eating broccoli in their underwear that I don't even mind the exhaustion. You wouldn't think it would be so hard to orchestrate just a regular drama-free afternoon. But it is. So when it works out, you somehow feel lifted. I mean, at this moment I can think of nothing better than my two babies sitting naked together on the porch eating blueberries. Except that my husband will be managing the second shift tomorrow.

Friday, June 13, 2008


When I was 22 I traveled in Chile for 5 months. I actually lived with a family for part of that time and every day at 4:00 pm we'd have once, as in Spanish for eleven. Except that eleven was actually at 4:00 and that was the time of day when we'd have mashed avocado on bread and coffee. It was awesome. I looked forward to it everyday. Then when I lived in Israel I discovered aruchat arba, which means 4:00 meal. The Israelis are obviously way more literal than the Chileans. I guess it's "tea time" elsewhere in the world. Where is she going with this? My point is that it appears everywhere in the world people need to drink some caffeinated beverage mid-afternoon because they are running on fumes and still have an evening of wrestling kids and making dinner and going to the park and brushing teeth and fighting over bedtime to look forward to. And so, like many parents before me, I am drinking my second cup right now, looking forward to the managed chaos that awaits.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dramedy of Errors

Last weekend during our camping trip to Point Reyes, friends of ours met us for a day hike near Tomales Bay. We hike with them a lot and their daughter is a week older than our son. The marriage has already been arranged and we have plenty of naked bathtub photos for the slide show during the reception.

It was nearing lunch time and we had decided on a one mile hike which would land us at the beach for a picnic. One mile is perfect for my son. At around two miles he starts to whine that,"this is too long for me..."

We start walking and about ten minutes into our journey, which I believe to be about the half way point, my son bends over to look at a giant caterpillar that is crossing the path. And as he's squatting there admiring the caterpillar, he suddenly looks up and says, "mommy, I'm making pee pee." But instead of jumping up to pull his pants down, I notice the now darkened spot on his jeans near his crotch slowly moving down his leg as he unloads a half gallon of urine all the while looking right at me.

Are you kidding me?

Him: I need to change my pants.
Me: I don't have any other pants with me.
Him: I want to go back to the car and change!
Me: We're already half way to the picnic. I don't want to walk all the way back to the car.

At this point he's starting to cry and I have to make a decision. Do we go back and essentially double our trip which will likely end in a tantrum? Or do I make him hike the next 15+ minutes in his wet pants which will likely turn into a tantrum? My friend offered her daughter's spare pants but my son would have nothing of that. He wanted his own clothes. And honestly, I usually have spares for him because even though he's been potty trained for a year, he still has accidents. But wouldn't you know the one friggin day I leave his spares in the car. And with a new crop of poison oak up to his head, there's no way he's hiking naked.

I decide we're moving forward. At first I try to keep my cool and convince him to wear his friend's pants. They were just a brown pair of pants from Target. He may actually have the same pair of pants. But he refused. And then sat down in the dirt sobbing. So I say I'm leaving and he can walk with Aba. More sobbing. I tell him I don't want to walk with him if he's sobbing. More sobbing. Finally after about twenty minutes of snotty heaving sobbing he finally stops crying. And then we're back to whining. Meanwhile, I'm thinking where the hell is this place? I thought you said a mile!?!?

I come to find out that midway through the journey our friend has taken a different path, a longer path, about two miles longer, to a different beach. So now I am SEETHING. Had I known this I would have made a different decision back when we were only ten minutes from the car. Now we were forty minutes from the car and presumably 15 minutes from the beach. I am almost about to burst into tears myself because now the poor kid probably has a rash between his legs, he's totally humiliated, he's exhausted from all the sobbing, I'm exhausted from hearing the sobbing, I hate our friends (friend, it was really the husband who made the covert trail redirect), I hate my husband for letting all of this happen, I hate myself for forgetting the spares and I hate that the return trip is uphill.

My son is now whimpering that it's too far for him. So I tell him that when we get to the beach he can take off his clothes and they'll get dry in the sun. And as we're walking I'm saying, don't worry honey, we're almost there. You're a really good hiker. You're doing a great job. Over and over, until I realize that I'm actually talking to myself. We're almost there. You can do this. You're a good hiker...

And when we do finally ch the beach, my son takes off his clothes as does his buddy and he is transformed back into a playful, cooperative, potty-trained three year old. After a few hours of relaxing we walked down the beach a short ways and took the original trail back which was, indeed, only one mile. And with pants and tears dried, it was an easy, drama-free trip back to the car.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Benefits Handbook

He was starting to show signs of growing out of his little obsessive world. He even declared to me last weekend that he no longer loved cell phones. He only cared about purses. Not cell phones or wallets any more. I considered this progress. But then, on Thursday, my son found the benefits handbook for my new job and this has become his latest fixation.

Now, to his credit, this is no ordinary handbok. In fact I took a job at Shutterfly and will be starting next Monday. So the benefits handbook is actually an 8x8 inch hardbound trademark photobook. Just looking at it makes me giddy. It's a lovely melon color with a hard bound laminate cover. Delicious. And inside are all kinds of charts and tables highlighting my medical and dental benefits for the foreseeable future. Did I mention the hardcover binding?

So he loves this book. Ever since I told him that I'm starting a new job he has been very anxious to come with me and help me with my new job. Apparently he and I are the only ones that work there. And now this book is somehow tied into his little fantasy where he and I spend every waking hour together, at home, at work, in the bathroom, everywhere.

On Friday I was making dinner and the house was oddly quiet. The baby was with me in the kitchen while I was cooking, rummaging around for scraps but my son was AWOL. I found him alone in his room "reading" my benefits book.

Look mommy, it makes a noise when I open it. And then it says where we work together. And I do this one and you do this page. And these are all of our benefits story. The end.

I thought his fascination with the ear thermometer was weird. This one really takes the cake. Maybe it's a transitional object to help ease him through my transition. Or maybe, like me, he is just completely enamored by the binding.