Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Curious Guy

So today we were walking in the parking garage. I was holding the baby and the bags and Joey and Guy were holding hands. Supposed to be holding hands. I was walking a few steps ahead of them and heard some scuffle happen between the two of them. (Something very traumatic I’m sure… Like Guy was holding onto Joey’s sleeve not his hand) And to demonstrate his unwillingness to participate in this gesture any longer Guy did the unthinkable.
He intentionally laid down on the parking garage floor on his stomach. To show the 'injustice' that he felt was upon him he literally rubbed his face back and forth on the ground while doing a “snow angel” motion with his arms. No screaming. No yelling. Just the greatest thing he could think of to get attention.
With my arms full of baby and bags I yelled at him to stand up.  That that was so gross. Get up! (I was also gagging.) I also think I stamped my foot. He started to obey and then-I watched as pure curiosity over took him and he did the other unthinkable. HE LICKED THE FLOOR. I’ll say it again for full effect. HE LICKED THE FLOOR OF THE PARKING GARAGE WITH HIS TONGUE!!!! And then he casually stood up and reached for his brother’s hand.
So I’m standing there. Arms full of baby and bags and gagging and yelling, and he does this grossest thing ever. But he is now standing. He is now holding Joey’s hand again. They both look at me… Joey with big wide open eyes, Guy’s eyes darting up then down. So then I did the unthinkable.
Fully caught off guard, and at a loss for a suitable reaction, I just turned around and said, “Come on boys! Let’s go!” and completely ignored it. I mean, licking the floor wasn’t really wrong. It was just disgusting.
 In hindsight I probably could have handled that better. I could have said something like, “DON”T LICK THE FLOOR EVER AGAIN!!” In a really loud voice. But you know, I don’t think he will.  He was now walking and holding hands, dirty but alive, and it was lunchtime.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Growing Big and Strong

As I was picking Joey up from Sunday School his teacher smiled and remarked, “You know, he shows us his muscles every week!”

I laughed, not surprised and responded, “Oh yes. Muscles are a big deal in our house!”

Two minutes later when walking away I replayed my sentence in my head and heard how it sounded. “WAIT!” I wanted to call back to her, “So is being kind!! So is sharing!!! Those are equally big deals!” But I realized that would make me the crazy yelling parent. So I held my tongue.

Actually, muscles are a big deal to my small boys in my house. Holding out their little arms they constantly show us how big and strong they are getting. I swear Guy still thinks ‘muscle’ means elbow as he points his elbows in our direction trying to be like his brother.

“Yes.” I say as they grunt and hold up their arms “You are getting big and strong. So big and strong.”

Their body is the only part of their being that they can see growing, as we tell them to eat good food and measure their height against the wall with little black marks. They watch their clothes fitting, then not, then being passed along. Their shoes grow tight and they wish to grow to be big like daddy. Their bodies are getting bigger, and they are getting bigger muscles.

They don’t see what is also growing. Their tiny little patiences, their innocent compassion, their self control, their bravery. A step back, then forward. And one day I hope they may recognize their strength of character to be of much greater importance. But not today. Today they are 2 and 3. And little squeaky muscles are a very big deal.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

If You Build it... You will think it is the greatest Fort ever.

Apparently today was “fort day” in our household. The boys spent hours building forts out of blankets, pillows, mattresses, cribs, tables, bins, etc. Our home was torn apart as the 2 and 3 year old ran frantic around gathering the best materials to build “castles” “towers” “tents” “houses” and “forts”.  Tonight I had my first request from Mr. 1st born to sleep in his fort. 
I told him when he was strong enough to lift a mattress by himself, then he would be old enough to sleep under one.
I felt like a real mom!

A first attempt
A different approach...

… Until a sister tried to join…

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I walked outside to let the dog out this morning, and the air felt like Colorado. At first I wasn’t sure. Maybe it was the way the snow had frozen over with a thin layer of ice on top and then gave way to soft powder when I stepped on it. Maybe it was the way the morning sun was hitting the icy trees just so.  - But I'm pretty sure it was because of the way the cold air slipped up the sleeves of my shirt and spun soft frost circles in my lungs. And I instantly looked around for mountains. I find that crazy. I only spent 2 years of my life in Colorado, and yet in one instant my senses can transport me back there.
 I found myself wondering if children have the same moments. Of course, reliable long term memories aren’t thought to be formed before the age of three. I reassure myself of this every  time I feel as Joey/Guy/Elena and I have a rough day. So maybe not long term… but what about short term? What about feelings and senses? Guy certainly remembers the scent of his blankie. If I try to convince him to switch to a near identical one so I can wash his beloved ‘night night’ he remembers and knows it is not the same. And one time, ONE TIME, I gave Joey and Guy a cookie for putting on their coats, (I know, I know, don’t bribe kids. Much less with food. Much less with cookies…) – ONE TIME I did, and every single time we put on coats now they ask for a cookie. Just fantastic when they did that in front of the pediatrician.
I wonder if Joey has (unreliable) memories of the RV trip that we took across the country when he was, well, 2 weeks to one year old? Does the sound of our dishwasher remind him of the Pacific Ocean? Does the taste of salsa spark a remnant of a memory of the farmer’s market in Las Cruces? I wonder if when I rock him (now a real boy) if he remembers when his head (then a baby) fit snuggly in the space between  my ear and the hollow of my shoulder- when I rocked him in the silence of the canyons in New Mexico. Does the sight of a school bus- reminding him of an RV make him nervous? Does the changing of the leaves make him antsy for an adventure- just like his father?
I have no idea. I’m sure some psychologist does- but I think I’d like to leave it as more of a mystery. Why the air feels like Colorado, and if children ‘feel remember’ what we think that they might not.

Green and Yellow

We have Packer Fever in our home. Yes. I’m aware that the Green Bay Packers season is over. Well aware. That doesn’t mean anything to the boys however.  After months of weekly Packer games, now anything with a football is the “packers.” Anything with the colors green and yellow is also “Packers.”  Our kitchen sponge happens to be these colors, so Joey refers to it as the “packer sponge.”
The other day I told Joey that Dad was out playing (flag) football.
 “Ohhhh” said Joey knowingly,  “For the Packers…..” … I couldn’t quite bring myself to correct him.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Tonight after all the kids were in bed, (No. Not asleep- in bed), I vacuumed our living room. It’s this habit of mine. I do this on a pretty regular basis.  It does not take very long. One of the assets of living in such a tiny place is that I can plug my vacuum into one outlet and reach the entire home. There are many reasons I do this in the evening- We do have a large very hairy dog- and a crawling toddler who puts EVERYTHING in her mouth. The boys do constantly wrestle and smush each other’s faces into the carpet. We do drop food, drinks, markers and everything else onto the carpet on a daily basis…
And although on some evenings I vacuum strictly to pick up the day’s dirt-- I think the real reason is because the best feeling I ever had as a little kid, was going to sleep while I heard the vacuum cleaner running downstairs. It was so safe this idea of being tightly packed in bed, stuffed animals all around, ready for dreams, feeling as if I was headed off to someplace, while knowing that someone was staying behind taking care of things. It was the same feeling as waking up to the noise of someone putzing around in the kitchen. As if the whole time I was gone someone had been waiting for me to return.  To say welcome back good morning. Eat this peanut butter toast with banana on it. You have a test today. Your brain needs food.  And here is your fork and here is my kiss. And here is your assurance of the stability of the universe. Please use your napkin. Please push in your chair.
And I don’t believe that my kids feel the exact same way that I did, but I can’t quite convince myself that they don’t at all. Forget about table manners -and I am under no illusion that I can offer them complete stability in life. But I do my best- So here is a goodnight kiss. And as you go to sleep- I am here outside your door. And when you wake up- here is a vacuumed living room floor.

Same Difference?

I knew that in Sunday school the boys were learning about the wedding feast where Jesus performed  his first miracle. When I picked them up I noticed their red mustaches and asked, "Oh- did you guys drink some red juice?" "No." said Joey. "Just wine. Lots and lots of wine."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

To Joey.

To Joey:
What I want you to know. Yesterday a big kid invited you outside to go play in his snow fort. I didn’t want to let you go. You didn’t really have the right clothes. I had left your snow pants at home. Your mittens were cloth, you only had your sneakers. I was not prepared for you to want to play in the snow that day. It was only a few inches this snowfall. But the boy stood there and asked- and you turned to me and asked and your face was so hopeful. Just three years old and your face wanted this like nothing I had ever seen you want- you had been staring at this snow fort out of the window for a long time… waiting to be asked. So you could ask me. I said you could go. (I didn’t want to say you could go). The street was very close you know. There was a tunnel. (Tunnels collapse all the time). You are very strong (You are also a bit short for your age). It wasn’t that I didn’t trust you. Or believe in you. I want you to know that. It was because I didn’t want you to be that old I think.
But you actually fell on the floor so excited when I said yes. Two too big boots were found and real big boy mittens. You called them monkey gloves. You felt so cool. We put on your hat and with tassels and your flannel coat. I know you only wanted to button one button like you always ask- because that’s how dad does it… but I made you button up the whole coat. I warned you that your jeans would get wet. You don’t like your clothes to get wet. But I told you not to let it bother you- they would dry. That’s what I told you when you spilled water on them that morning and wanted to change. I told you the air would dry them. That’s what the air does. And it did.
You boys started out and your brother stood and watched you go. You followed the big boy off the porch and down the steps and we stood inside. Your brother had his nose pressed against the window making little pictures with his breath. The big boy ran in front of you and you looked a little lonely walking on that path. It wasn’t very long. When you came to the tunnel the big boy went through quickly and popped out in the atrium of the fort. You stood there watching him build and every so often would glance up at me. You thought you were so cool. You laughed when the big boy threw snow. You helped him pack the outside of the fort. Someone was crying and I looked away for a moment and when I looked back out the window I only saw the back of your coat ducking into the tunnel.
I knew your pants would get wet. I waited and watched you disappear. And then just as quickly as you were gone you came out the other side. Snow dusted your hat and your coat. You brushed your hands together and wiped off your knees. And then. Then- with the baby crying on my hip- I saw you look back at me and you smiled. Your little smile that I have known all of your life. And I was so proud of you because you were so proud of you. I can’t even begin to tell you how much. I stood there inside with the baby and your brother and watched you. I loved your smile and I folded it up, very neatly, and tucked it into a small corner of my heart.