Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Frenetic Blog-Hopping Crazy Stalker Has Arrived

It is almost midnight and I have been reading random blogs for over two hours. I started off just scanning the blogs of people I know, then the ones I kind of know or thought I might know if I saw their picture, but it turned psychotic when I began a furious rampage down the right side of each site accessing the "Blogs We Love" one by one, narcissistically wondering if the posts were funnier than mine or if their kids were cuter, etc. Then, I just went ahead and commented on a few as if anyone wants to actually know there are people out there they have not seen in years or have never even met reading all about their son's hernia surgery. (Summer, if you read this your commentary on the screaming epidural-less child serenading the third floor was just too dang funny to ignore.)

So would someone please answer me this... Is it creepy to read blogs of people you don't know? I mean, not like famous people who expect a lusting curiosity, but just everyday families who want to keep grandma updated on the soccer games and birthday parties? I sort of felt like a virtual snoop lurking around some body's living room without asking, while I shamelessly commented to myself about all of their private family events. Like, "oooh... I see you made deviled eggs for Easter lunch how delicious, the children look lovely in their new dresses..." and "Oh my goodness, four baskets in one game, you don't say, you must be so proud"...and "yes, that was a wonderful sounding trip to the lake house, I wish I could have come along." Oh wait, no I don't because you live in Seattle and I have never even heard of you or that stupid lake and all of the sudden I am feeling like a total weirdo. Which brings me to my senses and has me calling myself to a short blogging moratorium.

Not really. I'm still here. But so are you. Get out of here sicko.

Ha, no I'm kidding you can stay. I just want to add that some people's blogs are incredibly boring. But of course no one will be traversing their cyberspace unawares because even grandma has to feign interest. If I was that poor grandma, I would rise up in angst and demand a juicy tidbit or two to accompany the blah blah (picture of junior at summer camp) blah blah blah (family snapshot including dog) blah blah.

Also, I would like to point out how dirty it looked on Facebook when I changed my status from "going to see Thomas" to "had fun riding Thomas with boys". It took me approximately one nanosecond to realize the fun Matt Ferguson would have quoting me to the Youth staff at church in the morning so I revised it. But confound Facebook for documenting every single edit on the wall so there it is for all to see anyway. I just want to emphasize the train, Matt. Thomas the Train.

Well, I hadn't really planned on posting for a couple of days so... enjoy.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"My Eyes Was Broken" and Other Insights

Over the last year Toby has traveled from the land of shrieking tantrum throwing and erratic hand gesturing to the peaceful bliss of real language. (Okay, shrieking tantrums are still a part of life, but at least now we can ask him why) Although his vocabulary is extensive enough to provide hours of what Aunt Savanah calls, "an explosion of train information," there is a gaping chasm keeping me from accessing the things I actually want to know. While he is sublimely compliant when talking about items that interest him, any sort of perceived interrogation from me on other matters will have him clamming up like a government spy. Not to mention that a recount gleaned from him in this way is more than likely, dare I say... inaccurate. Getting factual particulars from a three year old is like retrieving the grains of wheat from a fully cooked lasagna noodle. After a long chain of arduous chemical breakdown processes you must piece together the tiny bits of matter so chemically altered they are practically irrelevant.

Of all the communication vortexes, preschool is the cat's pajamas. Because I am not present, I have no system of checks and balances to fill in the missing plot elements. I might be told that "so-and-so went to time-out for playing in his poop" or "someone-or-other hit me in chapel" but be left hanging for the logical circumstances surrounding these allegations. Some days a take-home report appears in his folder to guide me, a daily inventory that tallies the number of poopoos and peepees and how much of the PB&J was left in the sandwich bag after lunch. The focus of study for the morning appears under the heading "Ask Your Child About..." followed by an activity or nursery rhyme that was of particular importance (which curiously ends up being the one thing for which he has no recollection). The teachers are wonderfully forthcoming if I feel the need to pry (an act that requires my lingering in the doorway of the classroom, bouncing a very heavy seven month old on my hip and making idle chatter until every last whining and groggy child is collected by a parent), but even they are often baffled. Due to his array of imaginary friends and ability to recall insignificant events (e.g. seeing a dead fish floating in an aquarium at Wal-Mart, the engine that pulled the North Pole Express was named "Puffy"), I must determine what is fact and what most likely occurred on an episode of Calliou two weeks ago.

A post preschool conversation might happen like this:

Me: So how was your day at school? (My eyes burrow right into his buzzed little head hoping to read his mind and forgo the formalities.)

Toby: "My eyes was open at skewel. They was bro-ten."

Me: "Really. Was that during rest time?"

Toby: "Yes. Miss Julie say 'Toby, be steel.' Sometimes I not need be steel. Sometimes I need be a lil' bit widdly at skewel."

By utilizing the decoder ring from the bottom of the Frosted Flakes box I can now simply substitute all "t's" for "g's" or "k's"...or leave them as "t's" if it makes more sense. It is really a brilliant demonstration of algebra being useful in an everyday situation. Maybe it could be added as a story problem on the SAT.

As his linguistic skills evolve, I must also keep up with the improper usage of new words. Upon hearing an event happened "today" I know he clearly means today or yesterday or last year or next Easter, all of which are virtually interchangeable distinctions. For nearly six months he began every single sentence with either "probably" (sounding like prolly) or "maybe". It was the kind of habit that I found irritating until one day he woke up from nap bluntly asking for chocolate milk and I sort of missed the cuteness of those silly adverbs.

Toby's language is a sort of mysteriously morphing blob that is slowly shaping itself into something recognizable. But whose complaining? My son, with two of the darkest, deepest wonders of the whole earth, which are his delicious little eyes, surrounded by eyelashes as long as a peacock's feathers, looks up at me to ask out of nowhere, "Member dat mommy? Member when we wode on Puffy last night?" I do remember, Toby, I do. And even though I know that it was months ago, I get what you're saying because you had so much fun and you just wanted to tell me about it again. I'm listening.

Monday, March 24, 2008

An Unmemorable Day to Remember

The crock pot is still out on the counter from last night's roast, rinsed but not scrubbed. The kitchen rag has fallen into the sink and collected bits of uneaten food from our dirty plates. The dog is on the back porch barking to be let in the house. Folded clothes wait to be put away. They all beckon me, but I do not answer. I am laying on the living room carpet, still in my flannel pajamas, my elbows nestled deep into the plush fibers. My boys are playing trains. (Actually, Toby is playing trains, but Charlie is chewing on trains...) The sun is shining just right through the glass to pour over the whole floor and speckle the air with tiny bits of dust like snow. Toby watches a fleck drift his way and tries to capture it in his hand. He is still young enough that his knuckles are dimpled and his fingernails are slightly overgrown and dingy. I watch his face pause in curiosity as he uncurls his fist to reveal an empty palm. He gives it two more tries before conceding and returning to his train table. Charlie follows him with his half crawl, half scooch, a look of yearning on his face for stronger legs to jump and bounce like his big brother.

Has it already been three years since Toby himself was bound to his tummy, swimming around on the floor like a baby turtle? I realize that pages are flying off the calendar faster than I can catch. I want to pause time in this place, when I am an acceptable substitute for a jungle gym, and dinosaurs are the scariest thing imaginable, and wooden trains have faces and feelings and are real. Childhood is magical and consuming when you are in it, but infinitely more so as a mother.

Toby rearranges his tracks to create a trap for Gordon and the Express Coaches and hisses crashing noises as the cars tumble over. Charlie clambers up the side of a wooden bin nearby, his heavy breathing revealing the intensity of this feat, hoping for a better view of the action. "Mommy," Toby looks reflective, "I don't like apples." He pauses and spins the wheel of his train with his finger, "But I like juice boxes." Because I am his mom I know what he means and it makes sense. Apples are crunchy and fleshy and surrounded by thick peel that might be hiding something even worse. Juice boxes are made with apples, but only the sugary and smooth parts. And they have a bendy straw. I answer him with the best mom-lesson I can devise. "Juice boxes are good, buddy, but maybe you can like apples too someday."

I wish I could save this kind of morning: the dimply fingers, the timbre of their voices, the downiness of their hair -- the very essence of their smallness. I imagine snapping it safely into a Tupperware bin and throwing it in the attic with my old yearbooks to preserve for forever, but I know that I can't. And besides, to visit this place again after the dimples pull taught, and the fingernails are neat and trimmed because they can do it themselves, and hair is gelled and prickly, and their eyes no longer worship me, but are independent of me, that would break my heart into a million pieces.

So instead, this morning, I let the dishes get dusty where they lay. I turn away from the dog hair accumulating on the baseboards. I am busy. My kids need me to teach them how to somersault, and eat broccoli, and aim at the cheerio in the toilet bowl. The important stuff. Never before have I pursued a goal so foreign to my heart's true desire. All of my effort will be pointing to the day I dread most. A day when they put on big shoes that don't flash blinky lights with each step, not fastened with Velcro, but real laces, and walk out my door for the last time.

The sun shines vividly on one side of their faces, both engrossed in the moment's new discoveries. Pleasure and sadness mingle together, stinging my eyes, and I know I will mourn today's sunset.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Charlie Is Sooooooo Wiggly

Charlie makes even the most innocent task completely unsafe. He has barely been bathed in his short little life because he has a tendency to dive out of my arms even when he is not wet and soapy. I have given up on any snappy or buttony outfits because I can never do more than one before he flips over and lurches out of my grasp. He went without clothes for a while until our dog, Sadie, nuzzled his diaper open and was happily licking his bottom clean one afternoon while he played on the floor. I didn't know whether to scold her or to thank her for saving me the trouble. He has wiggled his way over the safety railing on Toby's bed, out of the Bumbo seat, underneath the exersaucer, and between the couch cushions. I can't leave him alone for a second which is why my back is aching every evening. On the bright side: my arms look really ripped just in time for summer!

Last Night

It was a calm and serene evening. Both boys were bathed, in their jammies, and surprisingly subdued. Toby was watching a little "Boz" and Charlie's eyes were drooping as he sucked down that last little bit of bottle before I layed him down for the night. Only thing left to do was change his diaper one more time to give him a fresh beginning to a hopefully long sleep.
Like any great mother would, I decided it too cumbersome to take him to the changing table and opted instead for the quick exchange on the ottomon. I barely let go of the bottle as I peeled back the velcro tabs on the old diaper and slid it off like a pro, eyeing the new diaper opened and ready next to us. In an unfortunate series of events it all came crashing sadly down. I laid the old diaper down, then screamed in horror as I discovered that, despite the large poo of an hour before, my son had stealthily filled his size three Huggie yet again. Barely any of the stuff traveled away with the diaper, but instead layed like a lump on his tummy and nestled between the creases of his thighs. I was completly unprepared ... where are the wipes? ...a changing pad? For the love of God someone hand me a kleenex or something. His legs flailed about, happily unaware of the danger, smearing doo doo on his socks and my shirt. Toby jumped off of the couch, a toy train in each hand, to see what peril had befallen me. "Mommy what happen'?" He asked helpfully as he began crawling up to us to gawk at his brother's handiwork. He had no sooner planted his first hand beside me when he began a whail of his own. "Mommy (sob) there is poop on Diesel Ten!" He held up his chubby little fist, dirty fingers grasping protectively around a yellow engine dipped in a brownish green mess of you-know-what. "Its Ok", I lied, "Let mommy take care of baby Charlie and then we can go wash Diesel Ten together." He obliged, but not before he instinctively gave Diesel Ten a quick wipe down across the chest of his blue pajamas. Of course. "Nobody Move!" I bellowed as I clung to Charlie's feet to prevent any further spread and wrapped him, poo and all, in a bath towel Greg tossed to me (from a safe distance). "Everyone to the bathroom!" I commanded. And that is how the Hawkins family along with Diesel Ten, ended our once beautiful evening, back where it began, in the bathtub, thirty minutes after bedtime, much stinkier, slightly grouchier, all except for baby Charlie who was feeling understandably delightful.