Monday, September 24, 2012


With Danny at school these past few months, I've been getting to know Fiona's habits and quirks. She and her brother couldn't be more different. She is the slow, observant, focused one. Danny is fast, oblivious and unfocused. I imagine Fiona trying to catch a fly with chopsticks (think Mr. Miyagi) while Danny uses a baseball bat.

Danny chews his gum for five minutes before claiming that the "flavor is out." Fiona chews a tiny piece of gum all afternoon, saving it on her plate for each meal and snack. Fiona quietly stirs up trouble and you may never know what happened. Danny is like a fireworks show. They do miss each other, though.


They ran up and slid down the slide together like this for about a half hour one afternoon.

With Danny home on break, though, Fiona isn't getting as much attention as she's used to. The other day she sat down next to me and wailed,

Mommy, I haven't been with you. Ouch.

Fiona is a hoot these days. She's chatty and bright and social. And she says the weirdest things.

What's this on my arm? Fiona asks. 
I don't know, honey.
It might be a tick. OR it might be ketchup, she says.

Whatcha making, Fi? I snuck up on her in the back yard.
Strawberry Tinkerbell soup, she says, cackling. Should I be frightened?

Slushies on the porch

I don't like celery. I don't like chicken. I don't like any of this. Fiona is our resident food critic.  
Oh, well. No dessert.
I like it. Oh, of course, NOW you like it.

I don't want to eat anymore, mom, Fiona says.
Well, no dessert. 
Ooooh. I want to eat. I'm pretty sure I'd mentioned this no dessert thing at least 10 times.

Unless you're here to poop or pee, get out of the bathroom, I tell the kids. 
Oooooh. I didn't get to see Danny's poop and Owen flushed it, Fiona wails. It's like the daily poop exhibit.

We can't go because that lady's car is in front of us, Fiona tells me.
Um, no honey, we can't go because the Volvo won't start.  We were stranded on the side of the road and a very nice woman and her daughter stayed with us until Jim could get there.

You ruined my kiss on my cheek, mommy, Fiona wailed. I'm not even sure how I did this, but I had to give her another night-night kiss.

Also, her secret is out. She does actually like us. For months, I would kiss her good night, tell her I love her and get this:

I love you, poop. Then she would cackle. Well, a few weeks ago, I started getting "I love you, mom." She's even said it first some nights.

Speaking of poop ...

I pooped on the powder, Owen informs me. Turns out he puked on a bottle of powder, which is slight better his initial assessment.

I'm peeing, Owen informs me. Oh, good. We're getting closer to potty training. (I love how everyone in this house informs me of their bodily functions.)

A few from the "I can't believe I have to say this" file: 

Stop swinging the poopy underwear around. In the kitchen, no less.

No penis twiddling while I'm reading, I tell Owen who is simultaneously twiddling his penis and sucking his thumb. It's like the equivalent of walking and chewing gum or rubbing your tummy and patting your head, only much, much creepier. His response? He grunted at me and shoved his member back into his diaper.

Get out of the bathroom. It's not a museum. 

Don't pick your nose with that carrot.

Boy, put that thing back in your pants. You want to get arrested? Jim tells Owen. That "thing" was his penis and we were at the park.

And from Captain Oblivious ...

I'm going outside.  
OK. Don't bother [the A/C repair guy].
I don't ever bother anyone. This is funny on so many levels.

Napkin, Danny, Jim says as he passes around napkins.
No. I never get dirty. Oh, okay.

MOM. MOM. It's 2 a.m. and Danny is screaming from his room.
Yes, dear?
I can't zip my sleeping bag, he whines indignantly. (Asshole.)

MOM. MOM. I trudged up the stairs.

What is it, dear?
My blanket. I can't reach it. Guess where it was? Within his reach if he had just SAT UP. (Asshole.)

Mom, Owen has an appointment and he won't come, Fiona wails. So now I'm supposed to mediate in the land of make believe, too?

I can hear it with my special ear, Danny squealed. He heard the train coming. How come his special ear doesn't hear his mother so well?

Oh, look, there it is. I can see it with my powerful eyes, Danny exclaims upon seeing the grist mill at the river. Now I just love his confidence, but I can't help but wonder why his powerful eyes don't see the trail of clothing he drops on the floor or the "lost" toy that is right under his nose.

Have a great week. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Anatomy of an epic tantrum

My son is pretty crafty. There are some days when he just knows how to ask only questions to which the answers will be no.

Can we watch another Wild Kratts? No, you've had enough TV today.

Can we have gum? No, you've had enough. (And the last piece you chewed wound up ground into the carpet.)

Can I do computer time? No, we're about to eat dinner.

Can you get my tracks down from the attic? No, we're going to eat dinner in 10 minutes. (And I have chicken juice all over my hands and a whining 2 year old cornering me in the kitchen.) 

Can I? Can I? Can I?  (I probably should correct him and say, "May I?" or "I don't know, can you?")

I feel the most panicked and overwhelmed between 4 and 6 pm every single day. And he knows it.

It's the last two hours before Daddy gets home. I have one more kid than I do all day. I have to get dinner together or wrapped up and simultaneously deny food to ravenous children so they'll eat that dinner.

Friday afternoon was no different. His father wouldn't be home until after dinner. The younger kids were happy to be kicked out into the backyard. Not Danny. His mission was to pester me until he got a yes.

And then I served up the no that made the 5 year old snap. Danny Boy didn't just snap, though; he went bat shit crazy on me.

I gave him choices: Go outside to play or play in the playroom. 

No deal. He began to scold me for daring to tell him no.

I told him: That is inappropriate. I will not talk to you when you are disrespectful. Go to your room. 
No deal. He plopped himself atop the trash can, gritted his teeth, and clenched his fists, frantically looking for some object to take out his anger on.

A freshly picked green pepper was within his reach. So he crushed it. (Insert confused, bemused look here.)

I repeated my request. Several times. Calmly. He repeated his refusal. Several times. Loudly.

I asked if he needed me to carry him up.

NO. I don't want to go upstairs.

Oooookay. I proceeded to pick him up off the trash can. He started grabbing onto whatever he could.

Then he ran from me into the dining room. I decided to go through the hall to meet him there. He poked his head into the hall, saw me and ran the other way.

I went to the kitchen door, he poked his head in, saw me and ran. We repeated this dance a few times.

Did I mention he was screaming, "I don't want to" at the top of his lungs the entire time?

(Now let me just point out right here that the parents who say things like "My child knows better than to do that" or "I would not tolerate that" really have no idea what this kind of intensity is like. My inability to shut him down immediately does not mean that I tolerate the tantrums. My child somehow does not know better and that is not my fault.)

At this point, panic sets in. My thoughts race.

Is this really happening? I can't chase him. Hell, I can't catch him. Oh my God, I can't catch him. OH MY GOD, I can't lose this battle. I bet so-and-so's kid would never do this to his mother. I wish I had a tranquilizer dart gun. (Seriously, this thought crossed my mind.)

After thanking Lucy (the crazy lady in my head) for her input, I told her to sit down and that I would be handling this. And instead of seeing that white hot flame of anger in my head, this time, I saw something different. I saw what was actually happening. It was utterly ridiculous. I laughed as quietly as I could and found some non-crazy thoughts roaming around my head. That's when I spied his beloved Hot Wheels loop track.

I reached for the track and began to talk calmly over his screams.

"Here's what's going to happen. I'm going to take your car loop and your pillow pet and put them back in the treasure chest until you can control yourself," I told him.

Well, that certainly got his attention. Or at least it got him to the stairs where I calmly repeated the go-to-your-room mantra and he screamed his I-don't-want-to mantra some more.

Another impasse. Great. Thank God the other two play so well together. At this point, I had no idea where they were. (My guess was the backyard since I heard running water from the spigot.)

I had no idea how to get him up the stairs as he was now clinging to and hanging from the railing. So I just started walking. He followed but continued to dig in his heels, refusing to go to his room. At least he'd stopped screaming at this point.

I stepped into his room, took a good look around and said, "What else do you want to lose today?"

I reached for Dennis the monkey. He freaked and ran into his room. Finally.

After about 20 minutes of screaming and wall kicking, he came to the top of the stairs and asked if he could come down. I told him, "Only if you can tell why you're up there."

And he did. The rest of the afternoon he played with train tracks in the playroom without incident.   

Mommy, 1. Danny, 0.

Sunday, September 09, 2012


Life has been busy lately. I barely blink in the morning and suddenly I'm creeping along in the carpool line to pick up the boy at school with an impatient 2 year old screaming "GO, GO, GO" and a 3 year old moaning, "It's a looooong time, mooooooommmmmyyyyy."

They play together very well. 
There's a different feel around here during the day when Danny is at school. With two non-ADHD kids, I can stay home all morning and not lose my mind. Owen and Fiona play remarkably well together and can leave me alone for long periods. I don't even mind that most of the time they are playing with hose water in the backyard and come in muddy from head to toe. (In my world, 20 uninterrupted minutes is a long time.) When Danny's home, it's like being poked 20 times an hour by a kid who gives me no time to respond. Here's a sample conversation:

Yes, Danny.
Worms don't have eyes. I'm sure this information will come in handy eventually.

I'm also getting to know Fiona better. One thing for sure is that this little girl is determined and focused and talkative.

Honey, you're arms are not long enough to reach that, I tell Fiona who is trying to reach for the second ring on the monkey bars at the park.
That's poop, she tells me with a determined look. Five minutes later, she reached the second ring. Basically, my daughter looked at me, said the preschooler equivalent of "bullshit," and did it.

Yet she can be rather indecisive. It's maddening.

Do you want grapes? 
No. Yes. And she usually says yes just as I'm turning back toward the fridge.  

Are you going to finish that? I ask. 
I don't like it. I do like it.
Oh, okay.
I like it. I don't like it, she repeats. Sigh. I hope she gets this one under control before she starts dating.

Mom, you have a boo boo on your chin. You need a Tinker Bell Band-Aid, Fiona tells me.

And THEN my pajamas were bleeding, Fiona says. She and Owen had a head on collision in the hallway. As she said, there was blood everywhere. 

Mommy, I'm singing about vicodin, Fiona says.
Um, what, honey?
VACUUMING. I'm singing about vacuuming. Oh, good.

Even though they are easier on me than Danny, Owen and sometimes even Fiona are adding exponentially to the list of no-nos that I never thought had to be verbalized.

Owen, get off the drawer. It is not a stool. He pulls out the bottom drawer in the kitchen and stands on it to watch me cook.

Owen, don't jump in the sink. He does this after I change his diaper. The changing table is on the bathroom counter.

Owen, is there poop in your bed?
I ask him.
Yes. Change my sheets again,
he says. Lovely. I change his sheets several times a week because he can't keep his hands out of his pants and winds up sleeping with his fire hose pointing up. 

Oh my God, are you licking all the clean spoons? STOP.

Oooohh, I spilled water, Fiona says. Next thing I know ... 
No, no, Fiona, here's a rag. Don't lick the floor. (I know that I don't own a mop anymore, but seriously?)

Are you going to take a nap today? I ask Owen.
Are you not going to take a nap today? (I was trying to trick him.)   

Yes, he replied. D'oh. Outsmarted by a 2 year old.

Sit down in that cart or I swear I will glue you to the seat,
I seethed at Owen and Fiona in Target.

Mom, can you get the gum off my foot? Want to see my poop? Danny asks, all in the same breath. Wow, where do I start?

Mom, I pooped and I didn't flush it. Want to come see it?
Danny says as soon as I get home. It's curly, he continues. When will they stop summoning me to inspect their poop?

I just had underpants on and now they're gone, Fiona wails with her pants around her ankles. I have no idea how that could happen.

Do you know how to stop, Fiona? Jim asks repeatedly as she bikes down a hill at the park. She randomly uses her breaks and her shoes.
No, I don't,
she called back. Wonder of wonders, she came down the hill AND managed to round a curve without falling.

Shit, Jim says as he fixes something with his little assistant, Owen.
Owen repeats.
No, no, I said shoot, Jim replies.
Shoot, Owen repeats.

What's that?
the kids asked when Jim turned the channel to a tennis match.
That's tennis. They play it on a ping pong table, Jim tells them. And, I kid you not, they all yelled at the TV: GET OFF THE TABLE.

Danny, did you hear the words coming out of my mouth?
I ask after he'd requested one too many repeats that day.
he replies. And his father snickered. It's the beginning of man's disease. I pity his future wife.

Have a great week!