Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Contentment. And My Dad.

It's late.
My mind gets busy at night. Sometimes this proves to be not so great, as I worry and worry and worry. I get all spun up, orbiting around problems that don't really exist and will shrink with morning light.

Other times, late hours launch me into greater depth. I become reflective about things I wouldn't normally think on. Thoughts that deserve more of me... they get me at night, sometimes. It's usually the right combination of coffee, reading, and lighting. A careful formula. I struck it pretty well tonight. (Except for that part about the coffee... I think I botched that ingredient in tonight's formula... I am very, very much awake.)

And so this is where I am tonight. Thankfully. Because it is far more enjoyable to think deeply than it is to feel afraid.

I'm thinking of two major topics... Contentment and My Dad. They're not really related, although maybe they overlap in ways yet to be seen.

If you've been around the blog for any measure of time, you might know that I struggle - just a wee bit - with a measure of contentment. I am an extroverted girl of spontaneity, but I am living a life daily routines, board books, laundry, and naptimes. Some days, that gets the best of me. I love every single thing about the two little men who fill my every moment, but some days, well, there are just some days.

But here's the thing: I have been overcome with contentment. I have been renewed with joy in their discoveries, their loves, their learning, and their laughter. I love that Tucker can use scissors. I love that he is learning to talk on the telephone, and so he loves to have pretend conversations with me on his 'phone' all day long. I love that I'm the one who takes those calls. I love, "Mommy, want to play with me??" I love the freckles that have just shown up across the bridge of his nose.
I love that Tyler can spy every single ladybug or a butterfly that crosses his path. I love that he is still talking about the visit to the zoo two weeks ago, and multiple times everyday he spouts off his list of all the animals he saw on that most favorite day. I love his sweet little feet. I love that he intertwines my hair in his fingers when I carry him around the house. I love, "Mommy, up."
I love collecting the scissored scraps and counting the spotted ladybugs. On any given day, this is where I want to be.

And if you have prayed this way for me, thank you. It is a joyful way to live, in a place where I want to be... and it is relatively new. If I had known I would spend so much of the last week in a confined space with little to do but give in to it all, I think I may have fallen to bits right in front of the one who delivered the prediction. But I did all those stay-at-home days... and I loved it.

I know those ragged days will still come... but we have had a few good ones in a row. And I'm feeling, of all things, content.

I love you, sweet boys.

And the next topic, consuming my thinking: my dad.

My dad was very sick last week. Like, very sick. I will spare you the details, but it wasn't pretty... and it was unidentifiable for a bit too long. He was in the hospital for five days, with lots of tests, questions, poking, prodding, and worrying on my part. He is home now, and easing back into his routine, which is a welcome gift.

This past February, I was exactly the age my mom was when her dad died. 29. Too young for such a journey. I didn't expect to lose my dad in all those days of worrying, but I was aware that someday things will change irrevocably. When my mom was my age, she knew that journey all too well.

So, I'm thinking of him tonight. I'm hoping he's not eating strawberry seeds or popcorn, which will bring symptoms unwelcome.
But even greater, I'm just thankful for him. My dad has loved me every single day of my life, without fail, without question, without keeping score. My whole life, my dad's face has lit up over the idea of me. My dad has loved me in deep, tangible, everyday ways that make it easy for me to imagine God's delight in me.
It's not hard to picture... it's in fact very real.
I love you, Dad.
And so, these are not bad thoughts to carry me to sleep tonight. (If I ever get there... the coffee sure seemed like a good idea at the time.)

Sick Boys and Snow Days

Tuck got sick first.

That's never a great scene at our house, when Tucker comes down with something. Everything hits him hard; it's rarely just a sniffle. And this was no exception. Two doctor visits and a chest x-ray later, he was on five meds (allergy, cough, asthma, steroid, and antibiotic), but not a wheeze in sight. He stayed out of the hospital.

(Way to go, Tuck.)

(And way to go, Mommy and Daddy, for faithfully maintaining preventive meds to keep those lungs strong for the fight.)

So, we spent several days doing lots of this... and this.

My world gets very small when my children are sick. But that's how it goes when your role is part of the cure.

In the meantime, Tyler was healthy. He ran circles around Tuck, he enjoyed all the movies and books, and he especially liked playing and playing without anyone to thwart his intentions, while Tucker rested and rested. There should be some perks to staying healthy while big brother is down for the count. So, one afternoon while Tucker napped longer than Tyler (a rarity of grand proportions), I taught Tyler the art of Rice Krispie Treats.

What a helper.

And I taught him the joy of the baker's snacking privileges.
(Notice the sprinkled ingredients all over the place.)

We ate half the pan, just the two of us.

And then, two days later, Tuck was on the upturn but it was Tyler's turn with the chest cold and yuckiness. I almost didn't know what to do with a sick Tyler... he just handles things differently than Tucker, as a general rule. In his 23 months, I couldn't really remember when he had been the sick one. But, believe me, he got his turn with the snuggles and cuddles and books and movies.
And then, a snowstorm hit.
Sick boys + Snow Days = Get Creative. Fast.
We watched movies and read books, until we had gone through them all. We baked cookies, made snacks, and munched on them all. We played Uno. Chutes and Ladders. Stack the Blocks and Knock 'em Down. We stayed busy, between doses of meds and good, long naps.
And then, in a stroke of genius, I broke out the little jobbers that you immerse in water and they grow to six times their size. What a perfect adventure for this crew, who so badly needed an adventure.
We immersed.

We watched.With runny noses, puffy eyes, and raspy coughs, we watched.

And sure enough, they grew.
And now, I no longer have to worry about any small people swallowing those little candy-looking beauties and thereby ingesting that which will simultaneously dissolve and grow into an intestinal obstruction.

Spongy little vehicles, anyone?
So that is the story. Now, the snow is gone and expected to return, and their coughs are improving... but also likely to return. Robb is taking his turn with the community germs, and I've gone through my share of tissues as well.
And so it goes.
Today, I am thankful for good books, good movies, sunshine, reasons to leave the house, a husband who was blessedly home when illness struck, and good-tasting medicine that leaves my children standing in line asking for their turn.
Oh. And the chance to love them up close and really well, through the day and all night long, in their slimy, snotty glory.
Because I'm the one they need.

Nothing Worse

Robb and I have enjoyed a series of fun dates recently to our new favorite coffee shop. We are not opposed to the Starbucks variety, but since they don't appear to be struggling with the downturn of the financial climate, we sometimes choose to buy our two cups of coffee from an independent shop who is especially thankful we came their way.

Plus, this one has live entertainment on Saturday nights.

(Insert here: Many thanks to my parents who recognize the value of date nights and encourage us to let our children play at their house so we can invest in the lifelong partnership that is ours.)

So, our pattern as of late is to go to dinner at a favorite spot (we are somewhat creatures of habit and predictable routine, so although the restaurant choice changes, my menu item doesn't really... Robb would say if you name the restaurant, he'll tell you what his wife will order. I say, why risk changing what I love? But I digress.), and then we head to our coffee shop, settle in with our mochas, two decks of cards, and an evening of each other. (With some ridiculous competition sprinkled here and there. Of which I am usually slightly embarassed about after the fact.)

This past weekend, the so-so-great coffee environment was further enhanced by a live jazz trio... my new favorite experience. I was nearly entranced by the atmosphere. I just loved it.

I leaned over to Robb and said, "Oh, this place. I love it. I could stay here for hours. It makes me want to sit in a chair and read, read, read, and then write for just as long. I love it."

He smiled. He paused. He absorbed the serenity of my description. Then he leaned close to me to whisper his response. I was ready for something so charming and endearing, to show me how much he loves me and everything I love.

Instead, he whispered, "And I would rather have my fingernails ripped off than to have to read or write right now."

And he leaned back in his chair, quite pleased with his comparison. Such is his disdain for all things in print. I laughed out loud. I did not see that one coming at all.

But you know what? Fair enough. I shall never ask him to bring a book or a journal on our date nights. And he shall never ask me to rip off my fingernails... because I honestly cannot think of anything I would hate more than that.

We are quite a pair. At least we both like coffee. And jazz.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Just Not Today.

Someday, I will write again.

Today, and for many days now, I have sick children. Tucker is on five medications, and Tyler follows closely with two of his own.

Writing can wait. Sick boys cannot.

(But when I do write again, by george, I will have stories to tell.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

False Promises

Tyler woke up this morning, wishing to go to church.

Ty: Go to church today?

Me: No, not today, buddy. It's Wednesday.

Ty: Go to church?

Me: Nope. Not today.

Ty: Go to church. Tyler go to church.

And so it went. We dialogued back and forth, until he finally either believed me or changed the subject. No more discussion of church today. Until he saw his brother at the breakfast table.

Ty: Hi, Tuck! Go to church today?

Tuck: Maybe, Tozz. Maybe we will.

And our dialogue began again. This time, Tyler was insistent. Leave it to the big brother to stir things up again, with promises of things uncertain.

"You just never know, Tyler. Better ask her again."

We have entered the Super Hero Stage.

My children have each found a love for Superman, even though they have never seen a picture of Clark Kent or his alter ego. It's fairly instinctive, along with their fascination with bodily fluids and their new ability to point their fingers and make machine gun noises.

(Not exactly what we practice at home.)

Mostly, they love the action scenes. They each love donning one of Tyler's baby blankets around their necks, and then they run around the house, leap off the coffee table, and jump from the third step.

Tucker yells, "I'm Superman!"

Tyler, who has no idea really, yells, "I'm Soccer Man!"

Yesterday, The Superman of the two insisted on interviewing everyone in the house, to learn their real names.

"Mommy, what's your name?"

"My name is Tricia."

And with a flip of his cape, he shouted, "She's Tricia, and I'm Superman!"

Followed shortly by the red-headed copycat, "And I'm Soccer Man!"

Never a dull moment.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stay-cation Favorites

Who says you have to leave town?

Lock Up Your Daughters.


"So many believe that it is love that grows, but it is the knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it. Love is just the skin of knowing."
~William P. Young
The Shack

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Careful Balance

Parenting is a delicate recipe, a careful balance of this and that.

A careful balance of
TV and creative play,
Fast food and fresh fruits,
Firm boundaries and parental grace,
Routines and spontaneity,
Milk and juice,
Working inside and playing outside,
Play dates and stay-at-home days,
Trying new things and enjoying old favorites,
Encouraging courage but keeping him safe,
Loving his free spirit but protecting his heart,
Learning to share and claiming a turn,
Teaching and learning,
Honoring nature and nurture,
Being gentle and firm,
"I'm always here when you need me.." but "You don't always need me."

Some days feel a little lop-sided.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm just happy.

I am smiling.

We are on day #4 of our Family Staycation, and everyday presents something fun for all of us. (More on this later.) Today, we went to the zoo. I love the zoo. I love the peacocks, the hippos, the lions, the monkeys, the elephants, and my children's impersonations of each.

In the car, Tyler relaxed with his favorite book. And from across the aisle, Tucker asked, "Hey, Tozz, whatcha readin' about?" There is just so much I love about that sweet little dialogue.

And, we had a family lunch date at McDonald's. Happy Meal toys notwithstanding.

And, since it is nearly seventy degrees outside today, I foraged through my drawers to find my favorite capris from last summer. And they fit. I thought they would, but when clothes have been tucked away for a year, you never know what you might find. It's like having coffee with an old friend... you might fall right into old routines and easy familiarity, but you don't know if too much time has passed and maybe it's not quite as comfortable as it once was. Maybe you have each changed just a bit, and it will take more than one coffee date to find your groove in this relationship again. But to my delight, they fit just like last summer. We were glad to find each other again. So comfy.

And, now I am at the library with my laptop and a mocha, immersing myself in various forms of words.

If you were looking for more depth, perhaps you should visit someone else's blog.

Today, I'm just happy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Q & A

Upon suggestion from a friend, I have been busily teaching the boys a list of questions and responses that they must know in order for survival in our family.

Q: Who made you?

A: God!


Q: Who loves you?

A: God!

Q: And?

A: Mommy!

Q: And?

A: Daddy!

(This one goes on and on sometimes, since the list of those who love my children is seemingly endless. I love that.)


Q: Who's a great kid?

A: I'm a great kid!


Q: Who is beautiful?

Intended faithful answer: Mommy!

Realistic, unpredictable answer: Daddy! Tucker! Tyler! God! Me!

They haven't gotten this one quite memorized yet. C'mon, guys. Let's start again.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Also Known As

You know what's funny?

It is the population of white, middle-aged men in my life who feel free to shorten my name to Trish. They do so as soon as they meet me.

"Hi, my name is Tricia."

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Trish."

And so it goes. I'm pretty sure it's my charm. Or maybe theirs.

I don't mind. It's just funny.

And predictable.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Robb: "Hey, boys! Who wants to be a fart smeller?!"

Tucker and Tyler, simultaneously and with great enthusiasm: "Me! I do!"

I am definitely the only girl in this house. Gross.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Beyond Words

Yesterday, I picked Tucker up from speech therapy, and his teacher gave me her routine 30-second update on his progress during that hour. Usually she tells me how well he obeyed, what a helper he was, and what sounds they practiced. But yesterday's report... I don't think I will ever forget.

Beaming, she said, "Tricia, he is doing so well! In fact, I think he has lost his speech delay. He only needs help with articulation now, but he has all the words he needs."

My son's speech delay is gone.

My son's speech delay is gone.

I have rejoiced over this, again and again. I cannot tell you.

I have thought of the many months when I wondered if I would ever hear his voice.

I thought of the days when others asked how old he was, when he couldn't answer their questions.

I thought of the time when we visited a new church and I needed to alert them to his special needs. At their request, I wrote 'Speech Delay' underneath his name on his nametag. And I was startled to see that I had written his needs as largely as his name, as if they are equally who he is. And I never, ever wrote it that way again. In fact, I never wrote it on his nametag again. Some things are best as a conversation, not a label.

I thought of how hard we worked, him and me.

I thought of the many, many (countless, really) signs we used, in a language all our own.

I thought of how Robb and I knew without doubt that our son was smart, and how we wished we could help him find the words to show us all what he knew.

I thought of the day he was 'diagnosed,' and how I felt so affirmed that I had been right all along. And so discouraged by the road ahead.

I thought of the verse I claimed for our journey: "Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves" (Prov. 31:8).

I thought of the times when I felt I was missing out, missing the season of preschool conversations that are memories of their own.

I thought of the therapy, the practice, the games, the sounds, the books, and the evaluations.

I thought of how I have loved the people who loved my son enough to learn his language.

I thought of the prayers and tears that only God has known.

I thought of the song a friend wrote just for him... I thought of the words I have sung over him, cried over him, prayed over him...

Speak baby, speak.
Mama's begging please...
Don't worry baby,
Mama's waiting
For the silence to sleep...
Speak baby, speak.
I thought of the day when it started to come together, when he counted to ten at the breakfast table.

I thought of the first time it occurred to me that a little silence in the backseat would be refreshing.

I thought about the time we still have, two full years before kindergarten, when he could overcome this entirely.

He has words. He speaks. He can say anything he needs to.

Guess what, world: My son's speech delay is gone.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go kiss his face. And hear what he has to say.
Thank you, Lord.
You are gracious, good, and faithful.
And my son is fearfully and wonderfully made.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Potty Whisperer

I have the bladder of a teacher (seemingly boundless capacity), and I have some issues with public restrooms. So I don't usually go, if I can avoid it.

Tucker, my sweet son and prince of potty training success, is quite enamored with the process and the opportunity to make multiple visits to the restroom inside every restaurant, grocery store, and home we visit.

But he has given me a new experience every time we visit one. He has a special awareness for each potty: he believes they have feelings. (I'm not kidding.)

Without exception, he peeks into the toilet bowl and immediately declares how that potty is feeling today. (Seriously.)

If the toilet has recently been flushed, and water is still streaming down the insie of the bowl, he says, "Oh, he is sad. He needs his mommy."

But he also judges the emotions based on the shape of the opening at the bottom of the bowl. For example, this potty is angry.

Tucker took one look, literally leapt backwards, and said, "Oh! Mad!" He growled.

And according to Tucker, this potty is surprised. Can't you tell?

Of all the lessons I anticipated learning from my children, I did not foresee the knowledge of potty empathy.

(He is one funny boy.)

Mommy, do you have a...

(Warning. This post involves graphic discussions of anatomy.)

Tuck: Mommy, do you have a penis?

M: Nope.

T: Does Tyler?

M: Yes.

T: Does Caillou? (a current favorite cartoon character)

M: Well, Caillou is a boy. So, yes.

T: Does the book have a penis?

M: No.

T: But there's a boy in the book.

M: Then yes. He has one. But the book does not have one.

T: But you don't have one?

M: Nope.

Tuck: Oh, poor Mommy.

(He is oh-so-proud of his. And oh-so-sure I'm wishing I had one. It starts early.)

Shouts of Affirmation

(from downstairs)

tuck: Mommy? Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!

me: Yes, Tucker. Yes, yes, yes?

tuck: You're so cute!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Well, that won't work.

Tucker's current favorite on my iPod is his collection of Silly Songs. He can't quite get enough of Ticklish Reuben, Bananaphone, and the Belly Button song.

Today, in the shuffle, up popped The Name Game. (You know the one: Tony-Tony-Bo-Bony-Banana-Fanna-Fo-Fony...)

And that's when I discovered that we cannot use Tucker's name for that song.

(I'm sorry I just made you say that word in your head.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Robb: "Tyler, is mommy pretty or handsome?"

Tyler: "Mommy is a sheep."

Power of a Melody

Last night, I escaped to my favorite book shop to work on an editing assignment. Since I work best with a little melody around me (and since it's better for those around me if I rely on my iTunes collection rather than to create a melody of my own), I popped in the earphones and settled in.

But which playlist? So many to choose from.

I wanted something that could fill my auditory need... without music, I listen to conversations. (It's the writer in me. Every nearby conversation could be a writing exercise on dialogue.) Conversations keep me from working, hence that need for music again.

I wanted something that's engaging, but without lyrics that will pull me in. (I am notorious for getting lost in a great lyric.) There is a time and a place to get lost in the work of a lyrical genius, but not when a deadline is looming.

Clearly, I needed to choose carefully. Big decision.

I chose Lullabies.

Soothing, sweet, a few potent lyrics now and then to keep my mind sharp, and nothing too distracting from my work. These songs put my children to sleep, but I was confident that they could lull me into the state of mind that editing, polishing, and proofreading requires.

Click. Done.

But here's the thing: I wasn't anticipating the memories.

I rocked my babies to these songs. I kissed this one's neck, that one's eyelids, all of their toes. I sang to them. I studied them. I breathed them. And in those moments, I couldn't imagine wanting to escape, wishing for more, longing for quiet, losing my cool, or regretting my words.

Suddenly, I missed them. That which was to keep me focused had taken me severaly off task... but in the very best way. I was hungry for them. And when I found them again, I couldn't get enough. An escape will do that... and so will a great song.

Or a great playlist.

Monday, March 9, 2009


When Robb travels (which is, you know, often), one of our marital lifelines is to pray for one another each day. So, I have set the alarm on my phone to ring at 10:10 every morning, and the boys know that sound.

Tucker will stop what he is doing, wherever he is, to shout, "Mommy! Pray for Daddy!"

Sometimes, when my phone is in another part of the house, I let the alarm play itself out... and then ten minutes later it sounds again. And Tucker shouts, "Mommy! Pray for Daddy - AGAIN!"

Today, I happened to be right beside him, with my camera phone in hand.

"Please, God. Daddy in the airplane. Safe. Please. Aaaay-men."

When these two boys were born into our family, I didn't yet envision the joy and humility of them praying for us.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New Phrase... New Uses.

Tucker has learned the phrase, "It's my favorite."

(It's possible he got this from me.)

But he has not quite mastered its proper usage yet.


He carried a box of Lincoln Logs to my dad, and said, "Poppa, please open."

Dad said, "Are you sure you want to play with these?"

Tuck said, "Oh, I'm sure. It's my favorite."

That phrase worked just fine.


As we marched into the bathroom, I wanted to know what kind of business Tucker needed to take care of, so I could anticipate the stand/sit option.

"Tuck, what do you need to do in here?"

"Just pee. It's my favorite."

So, maybe not so much a perfect use in this case. Or at least I hope not.

So Lucky.

As I was carrying Tucker to bed tonight, he started smattering my face with kisses.

Kiss, kiss, kiss.

I said, "Oh, Tucker! I love all these kisses! I am so lucky!"

He stopped, leaned back to look at me, and said, "No, Mommy. You're not yucky. They're kisses."

"No, I'm lucky. Lucky."

He became more insistent. "No. Not yucky. You're not yucky."

"Lucky, Tucker. I'm LLLLLucky."

"No. No, Mommy, you're not. Not yucky."

And that's where I stopped. Since he doesn't understand the words blessed or fortunate, and since he really believed I was declaring my disgust with myself, I let it go.

(But I sure loved those kisses.)

Saturday, March 7, 2009


“Motherhood is messy in so many more ways than I expected. A chaos of emotions and laundry. A life without boundaries, splitting at the seams and spilling over everywhere.”

~ Stephanie Kallos
Sing Them Home

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bag of Tricks

I cleaned out the diaper bag this morning.

It held fifteen toys.

Wait. Make that sixteen.

It is the culmination of at least a month's worth of kids' meal toys from McDonald's, Wendy's, and Chick-fil-A.

Perhaps it's time to purge. A few. But as soon as I do, they'll want to know what happened to Ronald McDonald's bike. And the whole restaurant will fall apart around us because that's the one I threw away.

Still, I'm willing to risk it. It's time to travel a bit lighter.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Today, I'm Feeling..."

I was the volunteer mom in Tucker's speech therapy today. It is the first time I have had the privilege of staying the entire hour, of watching closely, seeing my boy interact with his peers, and watching this world that is wholly his.

(It was very reminiscent of my teaching days. In all the best ways.)

As part of their conversational routine, Miss Jill has posted a Feelings Chart. The children each put a magnet on the feeling that best describes their mood of the day, and then they tell why they chose this one. The choices are happy, sad, tired, and angry.

The first boy chose happy. But he couldn't tell us why. He was just happy. (Hard to know if his lack of explanation was due to reasoning or speech inhibitions. Still, it was his choice.)

The next boy chose sad. Why? Because the sad face is blue, and blue is his favorite color. In his words, "I like blue." (So then it sounds to me that he is happy because he likes blue, but that's beside the point.)

The third boy chose tired. Why? No answer. (He was probably too tired to tell us.)

And then it was Tucker's turn. Tucker promptly, without question, chose angry.

Miss Jill said, "Tuck, are you angry today?"

"Yes. I'm very mad."

"Really? Why?"

"I'm mad at mommy."

(Oh, this is just great. I'm sitting right beside him. Of all the children to have an explanation for his mood of the day, my son chooses this moment to elaborate. Beautiful. Bring it.)

"Mad at mommy? Why?" (She winked at me. She was probing for more language, not family secrets. I'm just sure of it.)

"Mommy said, 'No, No, Tucker! Timeout! NOW!'" (He was yelling. And he continued.) "I'm mad at mommy for yelling at me."

Jill smiled at me, trying hard to sustain her laughter. I'm pretty sure she thought I was mortified by his honesty. Instead, I just said, "It's entirely possible, Jill. Entirely possible."

(It turns out, Jill later explained, Tucker always chooses angry. Usually he tells a reason why he is so angry with Tyler, for hitting or pushing or taking. And then he shrugs off his anger when it's time to move on to the next event of the hour.)

Great. At least he's honest. And verbal. Albeit angry.

Sacred Ground

Tyler has a diaper rash. (The church nursery was very full tonight, and his little bottom went unnoticed.) As I got him ready for bed, I tended to his soreness, and he cried and cried.

Tucker got his little stool, planted himself next to Tyler's head, stroked his hair, and whispered consoling words. "It's okay, Tozzer. It will feel better. It's okay, buddy. Don't be sad."

I suggested that maybe Tucker could sing to him to help him feel better.

But instead of singing, Tucker folded his sweet little hands, pulled them to his forehead, and prayed for his brother.

"Dear, God, please take care of Tozzer. Bottom hurts. Please, sir, please help Tozzer. Amen."

That is one sacred conversation to listen in on. It is sacred and holy, when my son talks to God.

(And it's very sweet that he calls God, sir.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Perils of a Teacher in the Family

My poor husband. He hates to read. He is not illiterate. He is nonliterate. He is capable; he chooses not to.

Sadly for him, he married a girl who can't get enough. I have a different book in my hands every time he returns home from the current business trip, and I have them stacked up on my bookshelf: my personal lineup for an endless literary feast.

When we were newlyweds, I read to him before we fell asleep at night. And then I would quiz him the next day, with comprehension questions to make sure he was listening and not dozing off at the sound of my voice. Isn't that such a Teacher thing to do? Listen carefully, young student. There will be a quiz. And not tonight, but in the morning. I'm looking for retention here, mister.

(There are many things about this paragraph that are clearly unique to early marriage. The greatest of all is the fact that he participated at all. He still loves me, even more so than our early days, but he doesn't feel quite so compelled to follow my every whim and great idea.)

Poor guy.

My brother can relate. I forced him to play school even before he was old enough to attend, even before he had formulated his own opinions about the routines of the classroom. His strong opinions consisted of three words: No Thank You.

And now, my children fall prey to my love for teaching. But for them, there is no way out. They can neither outgrow me nor shut me down, for a very long time. They're stuck.

They got a teacher for a mommy. And a mommy for a teacher.

(It could be worse, little men of mine.)


At every chance he gets, Tyler loves to escape to the backseat of the van and explore. Instead of climbing into his carseat, he loves to creep back there, climb, thrash, and flop all around, while I practice all my best Love and Logic techniques to get him back into his carseat.

Often, after warnings and choices and threats of timeouts, I end up in the backseat with him, physically bringing him back to reality and obedience.

But today, oh today, he obeyed me. He climbed into the backseat to retrieve a toy, and then he climbed right up into his carseat. You can bet I praised, I cheered, and I rewarded with my favor.

Meanwhile, from his seat across the aisle, Tucker said, "Oh, Mommy. Thank you for not yelling at Tyler today."

Thank you for not yelling at Tyler.

Apparently I did everyone a favor by minding my tongue. I embraced this teachable opportunity to remind them both that I do not need to yell at children who obey, and they would hear my kind voice even more if they obeyed it even more.

(Never mind the fact that I wish I did not yell in general. But don't we all?)

You're welcome, Tucker.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Public Enemy #1

I think I am this said enemy. Everyone in my house dislikes me deeply tonight, and they are fairly confident that they could do well just fine without me. (I am hopeful that Robb would still be fond of me if he were in town.)

It's been a day. You know... one of those.

I took the boys to get haircuts today. Tucker was a total pro, as he so often is in that setting. Promise my son candy, and he's golden. With a lollipop in hand, he sat tall in his swivel chair, tilted his head in all the requested directions, and thanked the hair dresser every single time she turned the clippers off long enough for him to get a word in edgewise. Charmer.

Tyler? Not so much. He is still relatively new to this routine, so he's not quite sure he will survive. Based on his squirmy reaction, you would think the woman is trying to cut off his neck, one hair at a time. He fights the whole thing, squirming his little body in every direction. I sat in the chair, he sat in my lap, and I enticed him as well with a promised lollipop, if he would please just sit still long enough for her to cut a straight line along the base of his neck or the tops of his ears.

Tucker had to perform for his lollipop, but Tyler negotiated his before he would sit in the chair. (And so it goes with second born.) He sucked and sucked on the dum-dum, with drool pouring down his face, chin, neck, and lovely little cape from Fantastic Sam's... and thereby onto my arms and lap. Collectively, we were one very sticky mess.

He became so tense in the process that he bit right through the stick. Suddenly, he had a broken stick in his hand and a large piece of candy (with remaining stick) floating around in his mouth. Okay, stop the clippers. I need to perform a search and rescue mission before this choking hazard gets too far out of control.

I gave him a new lollipop, because the haircut was only half finished, and he would have no more of it without the distraction of sugar on a stick. Done.

We finally had to stop the haircut, even though there was more to be done. I'm not sure which concerned the hairdresser more: the risk of cutting his face with scissors as her moving target dodged all about, or the risk to her business with a little boy trotting around town with an incomplete haircut that she gave the stamp of approval.

I promised: I'll fix it. But he's done. And so am I.

I had to confiscate the second lollipop, when he chomped through that stick as well. But Tyler had no intention of relinquishing the prize, and my authority launched him into a full blown temper tantrum. Look out: screaming toddler in the building. Screaming. It was an Oscar winning performance.

But I will not be controlled by such behavior. I kept my cool, gave him a makeshift bath with wet wipes, and traipsed my crew home for lunch.

Honestly, the day continued in this fashion. The list is just one discouraging item after another, in all of which I am the mean mommy.

At naptime, Tucker was angry because I wouldn't let him jump on the bed. Simultaneously, Tyler was irate because he couldn't wear his shoes to bed.

At dinner, Tyler was angry because he didn't want me to cut his spaghetti noodles. But he doesn't know how to eat them otherwise. So he was also angry because he was hungry. During the same meal, Tucker was just angry. I don't really know why; it's hard to keep track.

After dinner, Tucker earned himself great consequences when he stood on the coffee table, ran from one end to the other and took a flying leap into my chair. Nope. Sorry. You'll have to do your Olympic training elsewhere.

I later actually said to Tyler, "You know, I just really don't like you very much right now."

My wise mom coached me through that one. "It's okay," she said. "He doesn't understand yet. You'll want to change that sentence by the time he's five. For now, it bounces right off. My own mother used to say she was going to give me back to the Indians." It's all relative.

They have scowled. They have growled. In every way they know how, they have wagged their fingers, shouted toddler obscenities, and yelled, "No, Mommy!"

It's been a delightful day.

They are in bed now, although I can still hear Tucker making that silly clicking sound in his throat which he has just discovered and is abundantly proud of. They will both fall to sleep soon...

and they will be sadly disappointed when they wake in the morning to learn that I still live here.

(Little do they know that I love nothing more than them. They are as big as I love.)

Self Serve Snacks

Tucker ate all the grapes today. All of them.

I was getting Tyler dressed to start his day, and Tucker helped himself into the refrigerator, into the Tupperware, and into the grapes.

All of them.

When it was too quiet, I called, "Tuck, what are you doing?"

"What? Me? Oh, I'm just eating strawberries."

No. You're eating grapes. All of them.

(This is perhaps not a big deal. I can't decide if I will make a rule about snacking independently. But big deal or not, it's a new degree of independence that I didn't invite this morning. And I'm all out of grapes.)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Fulltime Ministry?

We had the privilege of a passing conversation with a pastor, who is also a fulltime seminary professor. Tuck was feeling especially agreeable in that moment, which is always refreshing and especially welcome in such a conversation. While Scott talked to Tucker, he put his hand on Tucker's little arm. But Tuck maneuvered his arm so that he could hold Scott's hand instead.

Touched by Tucker's gesture, Scott said, "Tucker, you are just so loving. You're going to make a wonderful pastor someday."

Without missing a single beat, Tucker jovially shouted, "Nope!"

Fulltime ministry? Nope! No way! Not for me!! But have a blessed day, Pastor Scott!

(At least he has the gift of honesty, if not the gift of ministry.)