Tags: Challenges, Children, Difference, Empathy, Growing Up, Kids, Kindness, Motherhood, Parenting, Perspectives
“Isn’t that kid weird, Mom?”
Giggles said it casually, as if commenting on the purple carpet or the way the air smelled like freshly pumped basketballs.
My heart stopped, but we kept walking. Past the dad with the green T-shirt and retro specs. Past the blond-haired little boy with his eye permanently shut and his cheek puffed out. Past the “Pediatric Craniofacial Specialists” sign where they waited, talking quietly, probably about something altogether ordinary like video games or burritos for lunch.
Giggles, Bun, and I walked inside our own pediatric specialist office and checked in. We updated paperwork, fought over the train in the basket of toys, waited, fought, and waited. We talked with the nurse, got new X-rays, talked with the doctor, got lollipops, and checked out. We bundled up. We unbundled for a potty break. We re-bundled, and walked to the elevator.
The boy and his dad weren’t in the hallway anymore, but I could still see them clearly. And us.
The dad, patient and strong; the boy, stooped and a little sad; me, holding coats, hats, crayons, and a grande Starbucks mocha; my boys, galloping like Adidas-clad rhinoceroses down an otherwise quiet hallway.
Quiet except for this, except for us: “Isn’t that kid weird, Mom?”
How many times had they heard that? How many times had it chinked right through the defenses of that sweet little boy? How many times had his dad held him close and wished he could be the one hurting, the one being examined by strangers and doctors alike?
And how many mothers had sat down with their own children and said the things I said a few hours later? About the difference between thinking things and saying them out loud.
About how our words make other people feel.
About imagining ourselves in someone else’s place.
About being kind next time.
About being kind above all.
What would you have done? How do you teach kids the power of their words in this complicated world? The power of empathy?
Tags: Children, Family, Holidays, Life, Motherhood, Parenting, Photography, Poetry, Trains
“here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”
— E. E. Cummings
What do you carry in your heart? Are you an E. E. Cummings fan? And is my little hobo adorable or what?
“H” is for heart and holiday ornaments and hobo. See more H at Jenny’s.
Tags: Birthday, Boys, Children, Curiosity, Growing Up, Motherhood, Poop, Relationships, Siblings
My Giggles is 5 this week.
He’s almost a kindergartner. With feet the size of a fourth-grader. And a cowlick that makes him taller than his sister.
He loves poop. Rather, he loves to talk about poop. When he forgets to listen, it’s because there was too much poop in his ears. When Lollipop irritates him, he threatens to dump poop in her room. When he and Bun are playing trains, one of the freight cars is more often than not hauling poop. (Thankfully, it’s the imaginary kind.)
He is strangely fascinated with batteries. (“How do they work? Why do they have chemicals? What kind of chemicals? Why can’t you see the chemicals? Why do they die? What do they get turned into when you recycle them? Why are they different sizes? Can I sleep with one under my pillow?”)
He will not touch broccoli. Or sweet potatoes. Or peas. Or green beans. Or spinach. Or smoothies. He will devour bananas. And cherry yogurt. And kolaches. And Tic Tacs.
He is in love with my blue electric pencil sharpener.
He helps his little brother put on his shoes. And feed the cat. And build a Lego tower. And get a bowl Cheerios. And sneak Tootsie Rolls.
He has an uncanny knack for finding money wherever he goes. In the dirt at the Y. On the curb at Schlotzsky’s. Under the Great Value soda machine at Wal-Mart.
He does not like me to clean his peanut-butter face with the time-tested spit-wash method.
He keeps his treasures in the tiny drawer next to his socks. Bits of leaves. Acorn tops. Starbucks sleeves. Bouncy balls. An empty toothpaste box. Chuck E. Cheese coins. A zebra magnet. A pizza-restaurant flyer. Two orange slinkies.
His entire day is an adventure just waiting to be narrated. Which he does. With plenty of “That was awesome!” thrown in.
He’s so big, and so little. When he heaves himself onto the pool ledge at swim lessons, I’m absolutely certain his lanky arms won’t support him. They bend and sway like a fawn teetering in the clover.
But those arms always hold. Even with that brick-red train track of a scar, they hold.
And because they hold, I do.
What’s in your child’s treasure drawer? Are vegetables his sworn enemy? Is there too much poop in your ears today??
Tags: Children, Fall, Family, Farm, Hay, Indian Summer, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Play
“How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.” — Vincent van Gogh
We celebrated the end of a week of sore throats on Sunday by emptying our pockets of cough-drop wrappers and hanging up our scarves. We headed for a farm about an hour outside of town and spent the afternoon wandering in a corn maze, playing in the sand, climbing hay bales, hula-hooping, and swinging from live oaks. The hours squinting, sweating, and laughing in the Indian-summer sun reminded me why I love this place I’ve called home for a decade. In other ways, I felt a keen yearning for Romania, with its billowing fields and village cottages surrounded by hand-baled haystacks. At the end, I was grateful for a few simple hours with my family, no matter where our dot blinked on the GPS.
Is it sun or scarves where you are? Have you ever navigated a corn maze? And how long can you hula-hoop?
See more yellow at Beth’s.
Tags: Balance, Blessings, Chaos, Children, Family, Mess, Motherhood, Parenting, Poetry, Thanksgiving
Haiku Friday: Bless My Hearts
I’m thankful for the
Runny noses and all the
Dog hair floating by.
I’m thankful for the
Goldfish under the couch and
Train tracks in the hall.
I’m thankful for the
Shoe we can’t find and the glue
Globs on my table.
I’m thankful for his
Bouncy ball collection and
Her Scotch tape fetish.
I’m thankful for truck
Jammies and bananas smooshed
On diapered bottoms.
I’m thankful for all
This chaos, even if we’re
Always out of milk.
What nontraditional things are you thankful for? What grocery item are you always out of? And what’s hiding under your couch?
Tags: Balance, Challenges, Kids, Motherhood, Multitasking, Parenting, Perspectives, Poetry, Relationships
Haiku Friday: The Fixer
They yell for me when
they need the scissors or that
Green train that’s missing.
Upstairs, downstairs, on
The phone, or elbow-deep in
An epic diaper:
I can fix it all,
Even though what I want is
To fold the towels.
But the illusion
Of my perfection will fade
Like last year’s swimsuits.
They’ll grow up, grow wise.
They’ll see me — the mom behind
The tab-topped curtain.
The one who craves calm
And sleep and a day off to
Plow through a good book.
What toys can only you find? When’s the last time you had an uninterrupted phone conversation? And what would you do with a day off from mothering (or fathering)?
Tags: Autumn, Children, Fall, Family, Halloween, Harvest, Nature, Photography, Pumpkins
“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.” — William Blake
We visited the neighborhood nursery earlier this week. It was 80-something degrees and so humid I could practically hear monkeys in our urban rainforest. Or maybe it was just my kiddos. They hopped and raced and hollered through the carving pumpkins, the pie pumpkins, the miniature pumpkins, the corn-cob bin, the mums, the petunias, and the rock samples. I hurried after them, clutching my camera strap and trying not to sweat on my lenses. After exactly 27 minutes, I was exhausted. I loaded up the van with my rosy-cheeked lovelies and our carefully chosen fruit — did you know pumpkins were berries? — and counted my blessings. Including air-conditioning.
What blessings are you counting this autumn? Have you made the annual pumpkin-patch pilgrimage yet? And are you still running the AC??
See more fruits and vegetables at Beth’s.
Tags: Children, Dogs, Fall, Growing Up, Halloween, Kids, Outdoors, Photography, Pumpkins, Smiles
“You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.” ― Charlie Chaplin
These pictures have only one thing in common: they all make me smile. They make my heart feel like a big gooey marshmallow sandwiched between king-size pieces of Hershey bar. And after Monday’s reflections, they are just the simple sweetness I needed.
What is making you smile this week? Have you carved your pumpkin yet? And s’mores: yea or nay?
See more smiles at Beth’s.
Tags: Art, Children, Creativity, Fun, Growing Up, Imagination, Kids, Perspectives, Play, Poetry
Haiku Friday: How He Rolls
“It’s my lucky day!”
He shouts, because the toilet
Paper roll ran out.
He jumps down the hall,
The cardboard tube carefully
Cradled to his chest.
He dreams up tunnels,
Giraffes, telescopes, trumpets,
His for the making.
I see one more thing
I need to buy, where he sees
The sum total of
What his brain and the craft drawer
Can concoct today.
What household items get your children excited? How would you define possibility as they experience it? And when do we lose that simple excitement about all an ordinary day can hold?
Tags: Balance, Challenges, Children, Chores, Kids, Motherhood, Parenting, Routine, School
We’ve been in kindergarten for six weeks now.
Some things have been firmly established. We buy lunch on spaghetti-with-meat-sauce day but not on corn-dog day. We return our library book every Thursday. And we play monsters with a boy named Michael at recess.
But other things? Like a routine? Are about as firm as the blue Jello in the cafeteria line.
I drag myself out of bed every morning at 6:35 a.m., which is the absolute latest time I can get up and not have a tardy daughter. I collapse — with sore feet and a sore brain — about 10:42 every night.
In between, there is elementary school drop-off. Preschool drop-off. Dogs to walk. Poop to scoop. Grocery trips. Laundry. Sticky babies. Pet hair. Dishes. Permission slips. Bananas forgotten in the trunk. More pet hair. Beds to make. More laundry. Freelance deadlines. Explosive diapers. Cat puke. More permission slips. Diet Coke shortages. Bouncy balls lost under the couch. More pet hair. Spilled spill-proof cups. Missing shoes. Missing keys. Missing permission slips. Preschool pick-up. Naps. No naps. Elementary school pick-up. Explosive diapers during elementary school pick-up. Homework. Mosquito spray. Sandbox tantrums. Burnt grilled cheeses. Ignored broccoli. Baths. Books. Songs. More laundry.
And sometimes? I shower.
My days are like that logic puzzle. The one about the farmer who has to get his chicken, corn, and fox across the river in one small boat. Except it’s about me, and I have to get to the grocery store.
If I go before Bun’s nap, he will get cranky and smash up the tortilla-chip aisle.
If I take both boys after preschool, jars of pickles will suspiciously explode near us.
If I go with all three kids … Let’s just stop there.
But if I don’t go, it will mean Cheerios and scrambled eggs for dinner. Except we’re out of milk, so scratch the Cheerios.
Every day is the same, yet every day is different. I just can’t get the riddle solved yet.
So every night I fall into bed. Thankful that I’m finally still. Finally in the dark. Finally prostrate. Then I remember that tomorrow is corn-dog day. I slip downstairs to make a jelly sandwich and fill the Sleeping Beauty water bottle. I scrub the pot soaking indefinitely in the sink. I add milk to the grocery list.
And I wonder why that damn farmer owned a fox in the first place.
What do you do when the pieces of your life just won’t fit? How many bouncy balls are under your couch? And is corn-dog day as unpopular at your house as it is at mine?