Parenthood: September 2008 Archives


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One evening as I was making dinner the boys were running and hollering all throughout the house. They raced into the living room and began jumping on the sofa; from the sofa to the ottoman; from the ottoman to the chair. They have been warned against doing this repeatedly; whenever they scoot the sofa off the rug it puts a scratch in the floor. Whenever they trounce on the cushions it breaks them down. Time outs, being grounded, standing in the corner, none of these punishments have penetrated through their hard heads to make a difference.


I felt the threat booming out of my mouth before I realized that it was my voice. Make it a threat you can cash! screamed the voice in my head.


"If you boys don't stop jumping on and destroying our furniture I'm going to jump on YOUR beds and show you what it's like!" I hollered as I stuck some rolls in the oven. The boys rolled their eyes and ignored me as though I were nothing more than a cigar store Indian.


Chris came home; I pushed him to correct them; he gave it a half-hearted "Boys! Listen to your mother!" They didn't stop. I'd had enough. I ripped off my apron and stomped upstairs, letting the force of my footfalls express my utter disdain for their behavior. I stomped into their room, right over to Liam's bed, climbed on top and jumped up and down as hard as I could. I upset the meticulous pile of stuffed animals lying on top and they flew everywhere. I BROUGHT THE RAIN. The bed creaked, the floor groaned, the house shook, the mattress flapped as though both ends were bird's wings.


"DANA!" Chris shouted from downstairs.


"I! TOLD! THEM!" I hollered back and put more effort into it. My head almost met my knees in mid-jump. I heard shrieks well up from first floor about the time I jumped across the room to Ewan's race car bed. The thick plastic didn't protest as much so I began losing interest.


"MOM'S CRAZY!" Liam shouted as he dashed up the stairs.


"MY MANIMALS!" Ewan cried.


"OH!" I said, standing triumphant at the head of the race car bed. "Oh - I see how it is. It's perfectly OK for you to disobey your parents and jump and climb all over every piece of furniture we have in this house, is it? But your stuff is off limits?"


"Yes!" They shouted.


"Sorry, that's not how it works. If you jump on mom and dad's furniture we get to jump on yours. And I can't tell you how much I love jumping on little boys' beds."


They looked at me as though I had lost it. I left the room so they could think about it and they went right to straightening their beds.

Something they never do unless nagged incessantly.


Have they jumped on our furniture since? No. Now they even put the quilts and blankets back properly after they use them. I am mentally high-fiving myself.  



In other news, I turn 3-Oh on Sunday. I'm hiding out until it passes. Le sigh.


(Also, please read the thing about the imposter if you haven't already. Thanks.)

I went to Target the other day to buy some fall clothes for the children. Apparently, when Chris and I sleep at night, the boys wake up, put on an outfit, go outside and drag themselves on the sidewalk. They must do this with every single outfit because there is no way that two soft, made-of-meat little boys are this hard on clothes and no - it is not the new LG washer and dryer we purchased when we bought this house, either. The LG washer and dryer don't really wash clothes; inside the drums are actual magical fairies that wave tiny little wands and make the dirt disappear like magic.If we ever had to sell the house I'd keep the washer and dryer and we'd live in them.


I went to Target because their clothes are cute and I think anyone who spends more than $25 dollars on a single piece of clothing (excluding coats, suits, Easter dresses, fancy crap, etc.) for a child that will grow out of it in two-three months is either a) rich or b) delusional. Target is not paying me to say that I think their clothes are well made, cute, and cheap. Target, for me, is fancy. I do not shop at Baby Gap; I cannot bring myself to drop $40 on a Macy's Ralph Lauren sweater, because while that sweater and an $8.99 sweater at Target were both made in some factory in the same third-world country, the Ralph Lauren factory workers took the extra ten minutes and used their machines to stitch RALPH LAUREN or some polo emblem into the fabric and BOOM, the price instantly jumps up $30 dollars.


(I try to buy American-made when I can, when-I-can meaning when I can physically see it and sadly, it isn't often.)


Liam needed new gym clothes, Ewan needed new pants because in addition to dragging his clothes on the sidewalks while we sleep at night Willy Wonka also visits and puts him in that stretch machine he once used on Mike Teevee. His little pants look like capris. I do not believe in the manpri so it was time for new clothes. Unfortunately, he did not inherit much from his big brother who wore predominately secondhand clothes because we were broker than jokes in those days, as compared to being mildly broke now. Liam's old clothes were either purchased entirely from Goodwill or inherited from people we knew. When it comes to furnishing a wardrobe, I can stretch a dollar to infinity.


While at Target I bought Ewan some pants, Liam his gym clothes, some long-sleeve t-shirts for both boys, a couple button-downs, and new hooded jackets. I unloaded the items at checkout and then severed a couple of limbs and handed them to the cashier because HOLY CHRISTMAS, the total. All the while Liam and Ewan complained about being hungry - even though they'd had a decent breakfast and it was nowhere near lunch - because they were eager to hurry up and already grow out of what I just bought them.


Liam was just excited that I'd bought them hoodies with skulls ("dead guy heads," Ewan calls them), which goes along with Ewan's whole fascination with death. Remind me Monday to show you what he has been dressing up as every single day for the past two weeks.

The days are getting shorter

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I've gone back and forth the past year about whether or not to create a "strictly-learning" space. When school started last year I transformed the third-floor playroom into a giant classroom, but it was too distracting for Liam to do his lessons there, I missed the French press in the kitchen on the first floor; plus I was too neurotic about paints and glue on the brand new Berber carpeting. A couple of months later and we somehow scooted all the way down the stairs to the first floor again, books, chalkboard and all, and took over the dining room. The playroom became a playroom once again. I was within steps of my French press. The boys could paint without me hovering over them. Liam was at the kitchen table instead of his small desk, where it was easier for Ewan to bother him and fiddle with his homework.

So every afternoon we hold court in the dining room and pretty much learn all over the house. We eat a simple breakfast and Liam practices his handwriting while I check email. We then power through phonics, spelling, history, math, and science. He does his reading and seatwork under how own will at points throughout the day. I don't nag him, except to remind him that his independent work is his responsibility and in order to get the mark it must be completed correctly by morning. I set his desk for him to work at in a far corner of our dining room where it's quiet and out of Ewan's sight.

All of his extra classes begin again in one week; Spanish, art, and gym. It's been a non-eventful summer for him - stressful and heinous for Chris and me - but the boys haven't noticed anything but summer afternoons full of games, tents outside, days in the sprinkler and nights catching fireflies. Summer is the only season that I can't stand to end. I always enter fall with what ifs and should haves. I don't linger on regrets though; I use them as motivation. Next summer maybe we'll get to take that ever elusive family vacation. We've never had one.

You know that summer you had as a kid, the summer where you took some big trip with your family or did something together that you will all talk and laugh about while sitting around the holiday table? Every kid has one. I feel as though I have to make every summer like that while I still have my chance.

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Dana asks: "Thanksgiving Traditions: Yours or Your Mother's?"