Saturday, October 31, 2009

In the Name of All Things Fierce and Brave

Introducing... (drum roll, please)...

Superman Tucker

and Tyler the Dragon.
A most dynamic duo, I assure you.
These two left no candy uncollected, no doorbell untouched, and no neighbor without a proper thank you and a "Happy Halloween."
When we arrived next door at our neighbor's home, after they collected their candy and said their thank you's, Tyler said, "Oh, and when I go poop in the potty like a big boy, I'll wear Mickey Mouse underwear like Tucker and we'll go to Chuck E Cheese."
Who really expects to hear so much from the green dragon at the door? Well, there you go. And his little story earned him some extra candy, for the bonus details.
Across the street, I spotted a couple of darling princesses. "Oh, guys! Look at those Cinderellas!"
Tucker responded, "Yes, but they don't have penises."
(Indeed, they do not. I know that doesn't come with the costume.)
(And apparently even Halloween is not above such comparisons.)
And now the two heroes are tucked in bed with a stellar sugar high...
and I need to go see what chocolate remains for the only Cinderella in the house.

Happy Halloween, from the Fierce and the Brave.
And their Mom.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

On the Day You Were Born...

We just finished reading a not-so-spooky Halloween bedtime story about a monster who is looking for her mommy, and at the end of the story, she finds her in the broom closet and they can both stop roaming around at night, since they are finally together with a sweet, monster reunion of mother and child.

Tyler said, "She found her baby?"

"Yep. She found her baby. And who is my baby?"

"Me. I grew in your tummy," Tyler answered, from rote memorization.

Tucker chimed in, "And me too. I grew in your tummy, too."

I suddenly realized that I haven't told either of them about the day they were born, and it's certainly time to start instilling that story into their sweet little heads. Since Tyler was back to browsing the monster book, I chose to tell Tucker's story first.

"That's right, Tuck. You grew in my tummy, and when you were finally ready to come out, the doctor gave me a special medicine so it wouldn't hurt, and he cut a hole in my tummy to take you out."

"Why did he cut a hole?" he asked, and I silently thanked God for the easier explanation of childbirth: C-section.

"Because you were ready to be born, and the doctor had to help you come out. And you know what came out first? Your bottom!" (The whole reason for the C-section, Mr. Settle My Bottom Into Mommy's Pelvis, Instead of My Head.)

Giggle, giggle, giggle.

"Yep. Your bottom came out first, and then the doctor tugged on you until your legs popped up. Like springs. Boing!"


"And then the doctor kept tugging, and finally your arms and your head came out too. And the nurses very carefully carried you over to a special table with lights. They looked so closely at you, to make sure you had everything you needed, and Mommy listened and listened. I couldn't wait to hear you cry. And finally you did, and I cried too because I loved the sound of you."

He listened with rapt attention.

"And you know what? You peed all over everybody - even on Daddy!"

Oh, dear heavens, the giggles. Giggle, giggle, giggle.

"And the nurses wrapped you in a soft, warm blanket, and they handed you to Daddy. He carried you to me, and he said, 'Look, Mommy. It's Tucker!' And I cried and cried, because I was so, so, so happy that you were born."

Tucker smiled, snuggled into a hug, and together we basked in a great parenting moment.

And just before I kissed him good night, he said, "Mommy, can you tell me that story again? When I peed all over everybody?"

And that's his shining detail of it all.

Yes, I'll tell it again. Good thing I love that story... and the similar story that happened twenty months later. Healthy, active newborn kidneys and all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I love Hotel Rooms.

I love the novelty, the service, and the clean, crisp sheets. I love extra pillows and blankets. I love a continental breakfast, fresh towels, and someone else to do everything. I love the idea of a night away at a 'home away from home.'

What I do not especially love is putting two little boys to bed who are not accustomed to sharing one. I could not stop the craziness, so I decided to document it.

Finally, a hard-sought victory.
(And we'll stick with bunkbeds at home.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Room to Grow

"Mommy, Daddy called you my mother," Tuck said, incredulously.

"Well, that's because I am. I am your mother."

"No, you're not. You have to grow up a really lot to be a mother. You're still a mommy."

A fine distinction. I'm pretty sure he's the one who has to grow up 'a really lot' to think of me as his mother. I'm content with being a mommy for quite a long while, actually.

What's Your Name?

Tyler: "Mommy, is your name Tricia?"

Me: "Yes, and what is your name?"

Tyler: "Chris."


And he has hereby insisted that we call him by this alternative name. "No. Call me Chris."

(There is one very creative mind tucked in that two-year-old noggin.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Still We Grieve.

My aunt died last night. My dad's aunt, truly, but mine just the same. That may sound like a generational distance, something like a second cousin twice removed, but I assure you: she was my aunt, just the same.

She was diagnosed only two months ago, so the journey has been swift, brutal, and daily.

When I first learned that she was gone, I smiled. That was my first reaction. I pictured her reunion with her sister, the most inseparable friends you could possibly imagine. And that made every part of me smile.

And then I thought of her husband, so in love with her and waiting to see her.

And her dad.

And her mom.

And her nephew, my uncle.

And another grandmother of mine.

And then I thought of two of my children, who just met someone else who can tell them how desperately I loved and wanted them.

And the more I thought of those reunions, the less I smiled and the more I cried. Because although we do not grieve as those who have no hope, still we grieve. And though they are together, laughing and knowing and breathing and living, we are not with them.

It's an odd thing to feel happy and sad at the same time... but mostly, I feel sad.

She was a great, great lady. I miss her already.

Friday, October 16, 2009

When Words Collide

I love when Tucker signs to me. It doesn't happen often, but when it does... it's one of my favorite things. My sweet child, who once utilized 80-100 signs everyday to tell me what he wanted and needed, doesn't need sign language anymore. He found his words, and he uses them.

All the time.

But every once in a while, he emphasizes his spoken words with the perfect gesture he learned first. Like, I really want ice cream. Or, Mommy, that toy is broken.

For an instant, his signs match his voice, and two distinct worlds rub gently against one another: the season when he couldn't speak, and the season of his voice. The voice of a young, confident, smart preschooler.

I love those quick, passing moments. When two worlds... or words... collide.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Foam Art"

So... as if atmosphere, music, aesthetics, and most delightful company weren't entirely enough,
then they go and add this to the top of my mocha:

I mean, honestly. I'm hooked.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cookie Quotes

The boys and I made cookies this morning, and the following quotes floated through the air like cartoon balloons above our heads as we baked.

"Did you wash your hands? Go. Please. Now."
"Please stop eating butter."
"Oh, dear. How much butter have you eaten, exactly? You have no idea, do you?"
"A lot."
"Please stop licking the countertop."
"Happy helpers only, please."
"No more eating cookie dough, please."
"No screaming at brothers, please."
"Oh, whatever. Keep licking."
"Mommy, I think you just need to slow down a little bit. It will work better if you slow down."
"Oh, I made a mess. That's my fault, Mommy. Look. Mess."
"Everybody upstairs. Clean shirts for everyone."

No small task.

(But so much fun. And they're tasty, for the record.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mommy's Chair

At the end of the day,

after the playing, running, jumping, exploring, dirtying, fighting, blaming, crying, arguing, laughing, comforting, and being,

when they are into their jammies with damp hair smelling so, so good,

we get to my very favorite part.

I have a chair in our living room: Mommy's Chair. It quite comfortably fits two adults, or one Mommy and two little boys. One on each side. And that's where we finish our day. We read books or watch a movie, or they watch a movie and I read a book. But the best part is the sitting, all snuggled up together.

Tucker wraps my arm around him, and he squishes into the crook of my side. Tyler sits neatly beside me, alternating between full independence and full snuggle-in, but never, ever leaving his spot. Me and my buddies.

I love the contagious, overwhelming peace of being with them, in that place. It is equally mine and ours.

So beautiful to me.

I have calmed and quieted myself like a little weaned child with his mother;
I am a little child.
Psalm 131:2

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cursing my Name

We borrowed a book from the library. It tells the charming story of a little girl who hosts a dinner party with dozens of guests, all while her mother is chatting on the phone, thinking the little girl is getting ready for bed.

As more and more guests arrive, the little girl feels more and more overwhelmed, calling for help from her distracted, chatting mother. (I fear I have been this mom, on occasion.) As the guests, caterers, magician, and musicians arrive, she keeps calling, "Mommmmma!"

(I will not tell you how it ends, in case you'd like to check it out for yourself. Plus, it's not that much different from The Cat in the Hat.)

During the first bedtime I read the book, I threw myself into the characters, carefully portraying the little girl's dismay over hosting a party with no adult help. As she called for her Momma again and again, I let my voice grow more and more agitated. "Mommma!"

Except I didn't realize that I wasn't simply narrating... I was modeling.

And now Tyler has learned a new way to speak the name of his beloved mother, anytime he would like her attention. "Mommma! MOMMMMMAAA!"

I don't think so. This is not a fictional account of our lives, cute and clever boy. Try again.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blend of Stories

"Mommy, I can't wait for Christmas, when Santa comes with all his donkeys."


"Do you mean reindeer?"

"Oh. Yes. His reindeer."

(I fear he may also think that Mary and Joseph arrived on a sleigh with eight reindeer. Time to revisit and differentiate our Christmas stories.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

So... lucky.

So, apparently there's a legend somewhere that says one gleans luck by rubbing the head of someone who has red hair. More often than I can believe, people try to better their chances at life by encountering Tyler.

Today, a very friendly (and oddly strange) woman approached us. She looked at Tyler and said, "Oh, you're so very lucky with your red hair."

Then to me, she asked, "May I touch it? May I touch his hair?"

"Well, you can ask him."

"May I touch your hair?"

Lowering his chin and his gaze, my sweet boy said, "No, thank you." Way to go, kiddo. Personal boundaries. They're yours, too.

She touched his shoe instead, which he was minimally okay with. She went on to say that she had three redheads of her own, and she "always told them they were special. Actually, I told them they were mutants. Because redheads are nearly extinct you know." She slugged me in the arm and said, "So, you, you have more children."

Polite smile. (Are we finished?)

We parted ways, as she called out to us how lucky we were. And apparently partly mutant.

I carried Tyler out of the store, and I said, "Sorry, buddy. She was a little weird."

"Yeah, Mommy. Weird."

Legend or not, that's weird. Please, throw a penny in a fountain. Pick a four leaf clover. But don't ask to rub my son's head.

It weirds him out, just a bit.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Business is it of Yours?

On a stroll through the mall this morning...

Me: "Guys, let's look for a bathroom. Mommy needs to go."

Tuck: "Oh, Mommy, you have to poop?"

Me: "Well, I just need to use the bathroom."

And I'd rather not announce my intentions to all the fellow shoppers, thanks.

Tuck: "Right, but do you need to poop?"

Me: "Tuck, I just have to go to the bathroom."

Tuck: "Why? Do you have to pee? Or is it poop?"

Oh, for crying out loud. I do not wish to discuss this further, right here in the food court.

Me: "I'll just wait and see when we get there."

Tuck: "Right. I'll watch and see when you're done."

Not what I meant.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Shall Not Correct.

Tucker and Tyler refer to every thick book as "Mommy's Bible." Our home is seemingly full of them, with the books I collect and borrow from the library. All titled in their minds: Mommy's Bible.

And I do not correct them. Deceptive, I know. But it has a nice ring to it.

We're just so spiritual at our house. Mommy has so many Bibles. They're on every bookshelf. Oh, how she reads that Bible. In fact, it's the only book she reads.

Always, always.

(This may only come back to bite me when they point to a fiction novel in the Best Seller display at the grocery store and announce, "Look! It's Mommy's Bible!")

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Getting to Know You.

Sometimes, when I look at pictures of my baby boys...

(Tyler at six months)

(Tucker at six months)

... I think, my goodness, I barely knew you then.

I didn't know yet that Tucker would love his scooter as much as Tyler loves his books. Or that Tuck would dislike string cheese but make up for it with yogurt. Or that Tyler would make friends everywhere we went and take on kids twice his size at any park. Or that Tucker would be a peacemaker and Tyler would rock the boat. I didn't know what it would sound like for them to sing along in the car, or tell what they are thankful for, or who would request Little Einsteins and who would love Zoboomafoo. I had no idea. But now I do. Implicitly.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll look back at pictures of my preschooler and toddler and think that very same thing. My goodness, I barely knew you then.
There's so much more to learn.
What a gift, to know a couple of people that well, from the very beginning.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Blasted Free Will.

My kids' free will is a tough pill to swallow.

Tucker is in this new phase of experimenting with obedience. Okay, that in itself is not a new phase. But it's manifesting itself in a new way. He listens to directions and then carefully chooses which part he will ignore, just to await the response. A little cause and effect game, if you will.

I watch him with his preschool computer game. "Make the monkey jump to the left." But see, if the monkey jumps left, the game just continues with more left and right practice. But if he jumps the wrong way, he falls into the water with a big splash. And isn't that just more interesting?

In general, he has learned that games, tasks, and directions are far more interesting when he does it slightly the wrong way. He knows the right answer, and he's bored with that. What else ya' got?

He's toying with directions and consequences, and at home it ranges from merely annoying, clever and creative, or perhaps punishable, depending on the offense. But now he's trying it at speech therapy, which is a whole new ball game.

"Tucker, touch the green five." He touches the red four.

"Tucker, find your name on the table." He knows where it is, but he strolls around the room looking to see if Miss Jill perhaps meant another table that is always otherwise off limits.

Oh, Tucker, come on. It's one thing to be clever or even slightly annoying with this little game at home. But when your speech therapist now thinks you're regressing because you can't follow two-step directions? When your silly response gives her no choice but to conclude that you don't understand? It's one thing when it's an experiment with your computer game. It's another when it is a deceptive reflection of how smart you are, kiddo.

We have talked - and TALKED - about obeying the first time, listening well, following directions, and doing his best. But when it comes down to it, he's in charge of his decision in the moment, and I'm not there to say, "Tuck, straighten up. You know what you're supposed to do."

That dang-blasted free will.

And I know we're at the very beginning of the journey, since nearly all of his choices from here forward will belong to him, for better or for worse, and will thereby let others deduce what they choose by his behavior. And that's a hard pill to swallow . . . and a reminder that he is his own person. I am responsible - to a point. After that? Yours to choose, my Tucker Boy.

And in all of this mental parenting, I am reminded of my own choices as I was growing up.

Like, when I went through high school only halfway applying myself, because I was busying having fun and learning more about people than chemistry, algebra 2, and democracy. Sure, I could have been a 4.0, A+ student. I just didn't care to be.

And like, oh say, when I went to a slumber party the night before my ACT test. I stayed up too late, and I fell asleep during the science portion of the test.

Or, when I went away to college (I got accepted, despite the ACT mishap), and told my parents I felt fine with B's. "B's are good," I declared. Because I didn't want to put forth more than I had to.

I'm pretty sure I could list a few other choices I made, all of which were deceptive reflections of how smart I really am.

What goes around comes around. And I'm learning afresh the challenges of parenting with wisdom, of separating my identity from my child's, and of letting him be whom he chooses to be.

He's four. I'm pretty sure this is the first mile in a long, long path of the same lesson for years to come.