Smells Like First Communion

In a little over two weeks, I will be the mother of a child old enough to ingest the body and blood of Jesus Christ. I also like to call this the legal Catholic drinking age. First Communion is a BIG deal. Not only does it signify the point at which a child is finally able to  actively participate in all parts of the Mass, but it’s also the first of only two times a girl can wear a veil in public without people thinking she is a deranged lunatic. (Actually, Grace isn’t wearing a veil; she’s wearing a wreath of flowers. And it was totally her choice…because it was the only choice I mentioned to her. I was afraid that if she looked too much like a child bride, my husband would move up her nunnery induction date from the day she turns sixteen to, well,  tomorrow.)

We’ve had First Communion Fever at our house lately. I’ve been running around like a mad woman, prepping for the big day. Order wreath. Check. Send out invitations. Check. Plan food for the party. Check. Figure out the design for the cake. Check. Meet with seamstress about G’s dress. Check. Help G with her banner. Check. Meet with banner committee to put together the class banner for church. Check. Find shoes. Check…oh crap, too big. Uncheck.

Grace, on the other hand, has been doing the prep that really matters, as evidenced by the fact that she asked me to “play church” the other day. All I have to say is, I’d join her parish in a heartbeat.

Snuggie Priest
First of all, any church where the priest wears a leopard print Snuggie can COUNT ME IN. I bet it would be perfectly acceptable for me to wear my pajama jeans to Sunday Mass.

Mass began with the first reading from the Book of Mom’s Sleepy Time Tales of The Story of Three Billy Goats Gruff (cue the Church Lady: “Was it a troll, or could it be SATAN?”), followed by a second reading of a poem about band-aids. Then we were treated to a poem called “Chester” from the Gospel of Shel Silverstein, after which Grace gave her homily: “I have no idea what that’s about.” Honest, simple, and short. My kind of homily. Even Michael found himself entertained, which rarely happens with him at church.

sit 'n' spin
They should really think about replacing a few of the pews with a row of these at our church.

I was feeling so good about how quickly this whole thing was playing out that I didn’t even mind when Fr. Grace started passing around the collection basket…and expected me to fork over some real money. I gave her a quarter. Just consider me the poor woman who cast in all that she had, unlike the rich who only gave from their surplus. Or something like that.

the altar
I think there are some peeps who need to step up their contribution to the collection baskets. A plastic bowl full of stale bread hosts (that were put in the freezer “so they would be hard”), water with red food coloring, a bath poof for the holy water, a random scrap with what I think says Alleluia, and an altar stained with craft paint.

Next it was time for the Eucharist. When Grace informed me that she was “really good at turning water into blood and bread into body,” I made the mistake of assuming she was pretending to have those skills. When I stated what I thought we both knew was a fact, that  only a real priest can perform the Eucharist, church suddenly took a turn for the ugly. The poor thing was heartbroken, and she started crying at the realization that despite her little prayer, all that sat on the table was ordinary bread and red water. I blame her Catholic school. Hello?? Isn’t this what I’m paying you to teach her? I expect a deduction on my next tuition payment. Don’t laugh at me like you think I’m joking. I’m not. …Whatever.

I was finally able to get the “mass” back on track by agreeing with her that her prayer at the very least made the bread and water holy. It’s debatable, but I had other things to do. Let’s get the show on the road. So Michael and I processed up to receive Communion from the Snuggie-clad Grace. Then we sat down while she sprinkled us with holy water from a bath poof.

Are you ready to get wet?
Are you ready to get wet?

Fr. Grace was just about to offer the final blessing when Michael realized that Grace never got to take Communion. So he offered to be the priest. What a sweet and kind little brother, moved by the Holy Spirit no doubt. But as he put on the Snuggie, he let out an evil laugh and said, “I want de blood…he, he, he, he.” Typical. Then he took all the money OUT of the collection basket, handed me a quarter and said, “Body of Christ.”

Is this the face of a spiritual leader?
Is this the face of a spiritual leader?

I think Catholic school tuition will be well worth it for him.

Hallmark, Shmallmark. I Got Your Real Valentines Right Here

I just spent a mind-numbing half hour helping my son sign eighteen valentine cards for his classmates. Even he was getting bored, evident by his increasingly lax standards of how to make the letters in his name: “This is a different way to make a ‘C,’ Mom.” Looks good to me, buddy. No one is going to pay much attention to your valentine anyway since mom here went the cheap-o route this year and got the ones that don’t come with any candy.

kids valentine cards
The slow deterioration of good penmanship

who is the fifth guy in nsyncI don’t care much about Valentine’s Day. It’s not that I dislike it; I am just completely apathetic toward it. Valentine’s Day is like the fifth guy from *NSync in the world of holidays…you know, the one that’s not Justin Timberlake, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, or JC Chavez. You don’t mind that it’s there, but you also wouldn’t really notice if it wasn’t. (And since I spent a ridiculous amount of time deciding which holidays the other guys would be, please indulge this small tangent: Timberlake is totally the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s triplet threat. Fatone is Halloween; goofy, fun, and you know he has some mad skills for trading bad jokes for candy. Bass, he’s a firework who lets his colors burst like the Fourth of July. And just like the Easter Bunny tries to be as cool as Santa, Chavez ain’t no Timberlake. Now back to the point.)

I am not the only one in my house who feels this way about Valentine’s day. My husband has made a declaration that I never have to buy him a card as long as we live. He thinks they are a racket. In fact, he doesn’t want me to get him anything for Valentine’s day…well, anything that costs money. Wink, wink. (*eye roll*) But we always feel the need to help the kids put something together for one another. I have to be honest. Despite the fact that we know we all love each other, these little tokens of Cupid feel a little forced and trite. For example, my daughter informed me today that she was going to write a poem for everyone in our family: “Roses are red, Violets are blue, Happy Valentine’s Day, I love you.” (Members of our family, I am so sorry to ruin the surprise.) Forced. Trite.

What my kids don’t know is that they give me little valentines all year long. And this is what they look like in my head:

real valentines
AHA! They DO really love each other!
kids valentines
I adore the little notes Grace leaves for me all the time
kids valentines
True stories.
kids valentines
I die from cuteness.
kids valentines
I will mold her into my tiny clone. *maniacal laugh*
kids valentines
He also realized we don’t live in a barn and actually closed the door.
kids valentines
No words necessary

That means the pressure is off for Valentine’s Day. I already have everything I need; and I am pretty sure the rest of my family does, too. So we can instead enjoy the fun of Mardi Gras today and properly stuff our faces for Fat Tuesday. And then tomorrow on Ash Wednesday we can realize that all the crap we ate today might lead to that whole “to dust you shall return” thing happening just a wee bit sooner than later. But at least we won’t have to worry about last-minute Valentine gifts.

However,  maybe someone should send something to that fifth guy from *NSync. This is his holiday after all.

 

Like a Rolling Stone

It feels a little weird to be blogging. I mean, it has been exactly twenty-three days since I last posted something (not that I have been counting or anything). That is apparently long enough for the WordPress site to stop automatically logging me in, causing me to have to actually type in my username and password…which I almost couldn’t remember. It’s a good thing I am not entrusted with any classified information. I am pretty sure they don’t have a “remember me” box to check when logging into the nuclear launch codes. 

checking the fridge
Oh hey, Twitter. I forgot you were in here. (photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com)

I guess I can chalk up my lack of blogging to taking to heart the idea that “life grows sideways.”* I have been rolling with the punches. And the punches just haven’t seemed to be landing on blogging lately…or Facebook…or Twitter. (Actually, the punches NEVER land on Twitter. My Twitter account is pretty much like those leftovers you know you should throw out, but you put them in Tupperware anyway because you just MIGHT find a use for them. Like you just MIGHT become one of those people who researches creative ways to reinvent leftovers into a brand new meal. But you never do. But you are also one of those people who is not so good at cleaning out your fridge, so the leftovers just sit somewhere in the back next to the jar of barley malt you bought last year because you needed one tablespoon of it to make homemade bagels, which of course you have never made since. Are you sensing why I am not so good at capping my thoughts to 140 characters?)

What I HAVE been rolling with is basketball practices; indoor soccer games; tumbling classes; birthday parties; First Communion meetings; Brownie meetings; overseeing the selling of Girl Scout cookies; making Walmart my unfortunate second home; powder puff derbies (well, just one of those); sporadic workout schedules; ice skating; school volunteering; randomly deciding to reorganize the kitchen on a Monday afternoon; realizing that a freshly reorganized kitchen “needs” some pops of color by way of new utensil, flour, sugar, and tea cannisters; “sacrificing” my time to scour Pier One and T.J. Maxx for said sources of pops of color…you know, typical mom stuff. Because typical mom stuff is how I roll. Just consider my theme song “Roll With It” by Steve Winwood. That’s right. Winwood. Hey, that brassy 80’s tune worked for my grade school soccer team. Get it?…roll with it…like a ball. Uh huh. We even had a little sideline dance. Take that David Beckham.

I have also found myself, as always, rolling with the hilarity and awkwardness provided by my children. Here are just a few noteworthy moments:

– My son can be rather creative in his dress-up play. He is fearless when it comes to making bold and daring choices. Some of you may remember this ensemble from a previous post:DSCF8800

He has also proven to be unfazed by gender stereotypes, following in the footsteps of young male actors during the time of Shakespeare and stepping into a female role…or the role of a robot monster who also happens to be wearing a dress:DSCF7799

And then just today, he designed this outfit for “Wacky Wednesday” at school:774274_10152446747505532_1366605929_o

But the real beauty of his fashion choices are in his interpretations of what the dressing-up transforms him into. Last week, Michael came up to me in just his skivvies and asked me to tie a piece of crepe paper around his neck. It ended up looking like a bow tie. Let me just reinforce that picture for you…skivvies and bow tie. He said he was being a sea monster, which came as a huge relief to me. Because my first guess was Magic Mike.

chicken and rooster
“Hey, chickie. How ’bout you and me do a little egg fertilizing?” (photo source: Wikipedia)

– Just before Christmas, I mentioned that Grace’s advancing age is bringing on all kinds of questions I am not ready to answer. I also mentioned that I was more comfortable answering her questions about sex than I was about Santa. Well, I may have spoken too soon on that one. The questions I was referring to in the previous post were ones she was asking about anatomy, mostly female. No problem. Last night, however, my husband and I got the “big one.” And it all started with hard-boiled eggs. At dinner, Grace was proudly recounting how she had learned to hard boil an egg. Which led to this:

Grace: “What exactly is the yellow part of the egg? (a bit fearful) Is it the baby chicken?”

Kurt: “No, because the eggs we eat aren’t fertilized. It only becomes a chick if the egg is fertilized.”

Grace: (satisfied, but only for a millisecond) “Oh. What does fertilized mean?”

Me: “You know how human babies are made from part of a mom and part of a dad? Well, it is the same with chickens. The eggs we eat only have the mom part, not the dad part.”

Grace: “But how does the dad part get to the mom part?”

Me: (hoping desperately that she is talking about chicken parents) “Uh, I am not exactly sure how the dad part gets into the egg…” (can you feel my uneasiness?)

Grace: “No, not the chickens. Like people. How does the dad get his part into the mom?”

Me: (DAMN YOU CHICKENS AND YOUR UNFERTILIZED EGGS!!!!! DAMN ME FOR BUYING REAL EGGS INSTEAD OF EGG BEATERS THIS WEEK!!!!  DAMN, DAMN, DAMN!!!!)

Kurt: (Eating tomato bisque, just ignoring the whole conversation by this point, mostly because he loves my tomato bisque, and our chatter was ruining the moment between him and his soup spoon. And now that I think of it, I am really annoyed at his timely love affair with tomato bisque when he was the one who brought up fertilizing in the first place. Stupid enginerd.)

Me: “Well, I would love to tell you about that, but it is kind of grown-up stuff, and the dinner table isn’t really the place to discuss it.”

Grace: “Why not? We’re just sitting here, eating and talking. The food doesn’t care.”

Me: “But Michael isn’t quite old enough to know about that kind of stuff yet.”

Michael: “I hate eggs. Chickens have eyeballs. I hate this soup.”

Me: “Um…well,…you know maybe we…(trails off into undefinable mumblings)…HEY! You,  little miss, have not told me ONE thing about how school was today!

Grace: “Oh, it was really good! Our class got our 100th marble today for doing good stuff so we are going to have a movie day with popcorn.”

Me: “Wow! I want to hear ALL about these marbles…fascinating…”

Roll with it, baby. Ain’t that right, Winwood?

* quoted from The American Gene by Michael Nesmith

Leap of Faith: Michael v. Church, part 157

Oh, Michael.

Parents are sometimes told, “what goes around, comes around”…most often by their own parents who see the misbehavior of children as some kind of karmic payback for the grief they themselves caused growing up. I fully admit that Grace is giving me a taste of my own youthful willfulness and dramatics, but Michael? By default, the blame for Michael’s actions must lie with my husband. Which also means that many, many, many stories about his childhood were conveniently kept silent from me before I sired children with him. I hereby make the claim of false advertisement. But I guess it is too late to do anything about it. I will nobly soldier on, and tell you my latest story in the meantime.

jumping jesus
Does this mean Jesus is cool with a little hang time? (photo from http://knowyouaregod.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/a-good-friday-gnostic-midday-reading/)

Know this to be true: Michael and Church do not mix very well. They have had numerous battles during his short four years of life, mostly dealing with Church’s requirement of silence and Michael’s aversion to it. And there was that time he drank from the holy water font like a dog.

Well, at mass this past Sunday, our family was responsible for bringing up the Offertory gifts. I can almost hear a sympathetic “oh no” at the foreboding that statement instills in those of you who have read about Michael’s past exploits. Let me quickly assure you that neither the wine nor the Communion hosts ended up on the floor, thankfully. But that was only because the usher very wisely handed Michael the giant basket of the weekly collection to take up to the priest. And Michael likely accepted it without protest because it was the biggest item, therefore the best item. The procession up the aisle was actually incident-free, as was the hand-off of the goods. But while the rest of the family bowed in reverence toward the crucifix, Michael whipped around and took a running leap down all three of the altar steps, landing with the smacking sound of his “church shoes” against the marble floor. Awesome. 

After mass was over, one of the ushers came up and thanked me for volunteering to take up the gifts. “You got quite the little comedian there,” he teased. I guess I can be thankful that my embarrassment serves as a source of chuckles for others…and that I believe in a God who is truly forgiving.

Oprah Finally Leads Me to an “Aha! Moment”

I have decided to change my opinion of Oprah.

Oprah Winfrey
Yes, Oprah, you can finally come to my party.

If you have read my twenty-five random facts about myself that I posted on the “About This Girl” page, you may have seen that I have this hypothetical party to which I invite celebrities I’m infatuated with. To be clear, the “invitation” consists of me simply saying, “I like him/her. He/She can come to my party.” I have no intention of having said party or expecting any of the guests to show up. Anyway, on the guest list was “Oprah’s best friend Gayle (but not Oprah).” It’s not that I didn’t like Oprah; I’m sure she would be a very polite party guest, and I did for a split second think about hiring her to announce each celebrity as they came in (Jooooel McHAAAAAAAALLLLEEE!). But she always just struck me as a bit too much of a name-dropper (I get it, she’s your “good friend Maya Angelou”), and Gayle just always struck me as the kind of girl who would travel to St. Louis for the sole reason of trying some fried chicken at Sweetie Pie’s. I’m down with that.

However, my view of Oprah changed the other day while watching her special, “Oprah Builds a Network” on the OWN channel. We all know Oprah has done countless works of charity, changed people’s lives all over the world, given people cars…you name it, she’s done it. But on that television special, I saw her do something that immediately made me see that she can literally change a life with the simplest of gestures that come from a place of authenticity. And it was all in a few words she said. She had just arrived someplace and came across a little girl, probably around my daughter’s age. I wish I could remember her exact words, but she looked at the girl and said, completely unprompted, something like, “I didn’t know YOU were going to be here! I had no idea I was going to meet such a beautiful little girl with such beautiful freckles. You have just the perfect amount of freckles.”

Simply, it made me smile. All Oprah had to say to that little girl was “nice to meet you,” if even that. Instead, she seized that brief moment to build a little girl’s self-esteem, to let her know she is enough to impress even Oprah exactly the way she is. For the rest of her life, that girl can remember the day Oprah Winfrey told her she was beautiful and that she had the perfect amount of freckles. If that doesn’t warrant giving Oprah an invitation to my party, I don’t know what does. I have certainly invited others for much less…like Pee-Wee Herman for teaching me there is no basement in the Alamo.

Being that I have a young girl of my own who has already felt the sting of low self-esteem, I might be hyper-sensitive to this issue. And so are a lot of other people. The assault against the positive self images of girls is a hot button topic. But as much as I agree that something needs to be done, I am often left feeling that so many of these “true beauty” campaigns seem too contrived, too inauthentic, too commercialized. Are girls really going to start feeling better about themselves because a soap company tells them they are beautiful, buttering them up so they will buy their soap? Maybe instead of making a special point to say the average girl is beautiful like some public service announcement, it just needs to become part of our normal rhetoric. And maybe we should throw in some other even more important attributes, like strong, capable, creative, worthy, and intelligent. Then maybe we can continue to raise generations of girls who will feel empowered enough to pursue the roles they choose, and be confident and proud in the choices they make for themselves, whether they want to be a politician or a stay-at-home mom.

Verily magazine
A new promising fashion magazine for women

Eventually, hopefully, the media will catch up. There ARE media sources out there trying to make a change (check out a new magazine called Verily). And I’m not talking about magazines who use one plus-sized model and then make a big deal about how they are using a plus-sized model because they “want to represent real women.” I don’t get that phrase. Does that implicate the other models as unreal women just because they are skinny? And pointing out that you are doing it in the first place automatically implies an inferiority of the plus-sized model AND the women she represents. Like please make sure you realize we are doing this to make you feel better about yourself, otherwise, we wouldn’t likely be doing it. 

In the meantime, we can’t wait for the media. And we shouldn’t be letting the media raise our children anyway.  WE are responsible for making our daughters feel good about themselves, and teaching them to look inside to find their self-worth. Let’s all be a little more like Oprah, saying and doing things to make our daughters feel as though they are enough to impress us just as they are. That’s all Oprah really had to do to impress me.

But if she wants to give me a car too, I wouldn’t stop her.

Fashion-Forward? More Like Backward Fashion

Fact: My husband should never be allowed to dress our children.

Let me give you a few solid reasons why:

1. He once sported the follicle phenomenon known as “a tail.”

2. For an extremely short period of time, his ear was pierced (and still might be today if it were not for the good parenting skills of his mother who must have had the psychic foresight to know I would have never dated a 6’6 man who looked like he should be a member of Wham!)

3. In college, he almost got a tattoo of his fraternity letters on his ankle after having a few too many beers at a Pointfest concert. (His mom was not there this time, but thankfully I was and had the psychic foresight, and sober judgement, to know he would have cursed that tattoo every day of his life after turning thirty.)

4. He wears shirts with holes in the armpits, sweatshirts with shredded sleeves,  and thinks putting on something nice means wearing a shirt of the Hawaiian flavor. And most of the clothes he owns are in this condition because he has had them since college, sometimes high school.

Oh, and also because my kids look something like this when he’s in charge of the wardrobe situation (we call it “homeless orphan chic”, and yes, the dirt is usually an added accessory):

Try as I might to instill good fashion sense into Grace and Michael, I fear that my husband’s lack of the fashion gene might have been passed down, or at least severely suppresses any style conscientiousness they may have gotten from me. Especially in Michael’s case. He only ever wants to wear one of two things: what he calls “cool shorts” (which are gym shorts in any form) or his Spiderman costume. Winter, spring, summer and fall, he schleps around in a pair of over-sized yellow rubber boots I got for six dollars at a second-hand shop. And at some point each day, whatever he IS wearing becomes a moot point because he will inevitably end up running around in his underwear (I believe his skivvies made an appearance in an earlier blog post).

 

And then came the Michael haute couture moment…

The silver lining is that one day, I can use these photos against him as payback. Unless he  turns out to be more like his dad, in which case he will probably still be wearing the same stuff.

I will leave you with the most recent fashion creation of The House of G & M. I find the daring mix of fabrics and color to be both modern and progressive. This is a look for kids on the go, who are off trying to find Big Foot in the backyard while being ready to extinguish spontaneous pretend fires set by super villains, or who need to quickly transform for an elegant dinner out with friends at McDonald’s. Nina Garcia on Project Runway might find it a little too pedestrian, but I see a lot of potential here: 

Osmosis Boy’s Trip to the Grocery Store

At my recent conference with Michael’s preschool teacher, she told me something interesting. She said that she and his other teacher refer to him as “Osmosis Boy,” meaning that he never looks like he’s paying any attention, but somehow, everything seems to sink in. At first I thought this was probably a pretty accurate description of him. But the more I thought of it, I was not so sure.

Sometimes I think he is just NOT paying attention…at all. If indeed the osmosis process was occurring, I surely wouldn’t be beating my head against the wall multiple times a day over his behavior. You would think that saying, “Please don’t color on things that aren’t paper,” five million times would sink in. Or that setting parameters for behavior before we go someplace would take just ONE of these times. I remember when Grace was little, my husband and I took a Love and Logic parenting course that all but promised us that if we were consistent in our expectations, our kids would catch on. I guess they never said how long we needed to be consistent for. Apparently three-and-a-half years isn’t quite long enough.

Case in point: a recent visit to the grocery store.

Michael and I ran up to the grocery store the other day to pick up some flowers for my mom. She recently had a pretty bad accident where she passed out, fell, and fractured her neck, resulting in a contusion on her spinal cord. After fear that she was paralyzed, she thankfully began regaining feeling in her limbs. However, she still has a long road ahead of her to a full recovery. After having neck surgery last week, she is now focusing on intensive rehab to get her back on her feet. It has been a scary situation for my family, but we are counting our blessings as things could have been a lot worse.

So right after the accident occurred, we ran in to get some flowers on the way to the hospital. That is all we had a to get…flowers. A five-minute endeavor. I even explained to Michael that this would be a quick little trip, and that he could help me pick out which flowers to get for “Mimi.” He asked if he could get a cookie (our grocery store lets kids pick out one from the bakery for free), and I told him if he was a good helper, he could get one. Sounds good. Parameters set. Let’s get some flowers.

We were doomed from the moment we entered the store. Of course, like any red-blooded child, Michael wanted to ride in one of the baskets with the car attached to the front. I explained that we didn’t need a basket since we were only getting flowers, but we would use one next time. I really did not want to push that giant, awkward, impossibe-to-maneuver cart around if I didn’t have to. So that STARTED the tantrum. I almost gave in but told myself I needed to stick to my guns. Love and logic, Kelly…love and logic.

The tantrum continued into the florist section, where Michael refused to help me pick out flowers and instead began punching the mylar balloons that were attached to various arrangements. Awesome. Keep your cool, Kelly. The florist kindly asked me if I needed any help, to which I replied, “Yeah, you want to take my son?” She quickly and wisely said no, saying she has already been there, done that. At least I was getting some sympathy.

Then Michael had the audacity to demand we go and get that free cookie. Oh really?

“Only good helpers get cookies. I’m sorry to say you can’t get a cookie today.”

Well that did it. It was the three-and-a-half year old apocalypse. There was screaming. There was thrashing. And there was storming off…in the direction of the bakery. “That little…”

I grabbed some flowers and took off after my now sprinting son. I managed to head him off at the bakery, but not before he grabbed onto my legs and almost unintentionally tackled me to the ground. I’m pretty sure this was the most embarrassed I have ever been in public. I picked him up and carried him through the store, with him screaming at the top of his lungs. Unfortunately, it seemed to be “senior citizens who either never had children or forgot what it was like to have children” day at the grocery store, because the number of horrified stares and wrinkly, furrowed brows I caught a glimpse of was too many to count. Where were all the other moms who could at least give me that look of defeated solidarity so I didn’t feel like such a complete and utter failure? I probably should have abandoned the flowers altogether and just left, but by then I was determined that this child was not going to put me through this for nothing. So I fumbled through the self-checkout and walked out, with a wailing, angry shadow behind me.

So much for osmosis. My child just does NOT get it.

But then I think of the reason we were getting flowers in the first place. The night before, I told both my kids about my mom’s accident. As I was putting Michael to bed, we said a prayer for her, and I told him we would go visit her at the hospital the next day. He looked at me and asked, “Is Mimi sick?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Can we go get Mimi some flowers? I think she’ll like pink.”

“I think that would be a great idea, Buddy. We’ll go get her some flowers.”

Oh, the irony. But I guess maybe some things do sink in.

Dancing on Betsy Ross’ Grave

What a strange title for a blog post you say? Perhaps I am about to launch into a commentary on civil liberties in our country. Or possibly I am researching unusual burial rituals throughout history. Maybe it is just a clever ploy to attract readers.

Or maybe on our Spring Break trip to Philadelphia last week, my son did just that: danced on Betsy Ross’ grave. Aside from being utterly embarrassed and a little afraid he may have committed a federal offense, what else can I do but blog about it?

So, yes. While perusing the grounds outside of Betsy Ross’ Philadelphia home, reading various plaques extolling her act of bravery in facing charges of treason by creating the very first flag of our grand country and bearing the heartache of losing not one, not two, but three husbands, I look up to find my son has climbed up onto the little wall protecting the sacred ground and is hopping around on the cement marker of her final resting place.

I would say I was horrified, but that would be a lie. In order to be horrified, there must be some element of surprise. No surprise here, as unfortunate as that is to say. There was a split second I thought about slowly backing away and saying to no one in particular, “Where are that boy’s parents?” But then I quickly faced the truth that I must own him…and it would have been pretty crummy of me to let my husband take all the judgmental stares boring into him alone.

Sigh. Nobody knows the woes of the mother of a three-year-old boy…except for another mother of a three-year-old boy. Like I said, there was not one hint of surprise at the sight of my son doing a jig on the burial ground of a beloved historical figure. Because frankly, the boy is a destructor of just about anything, sanity included. The number of near catastrophes that would have landed us on the news as “the family who destroyed the [fill in the blank with your choice of historical Philadelphia buildings]” caused me to wonder how history ever survived thousands of years of three-year-old boys. I wouldn’t be surprised if the REAL culprit of the Liberty Bell crack was a small grubby-handed child of the male persuasion.

****BREAKING NEWS**** Right now, as if on cue, my husband just yelled down to me and asked if I was still working on “The Michael Blog.” Because apparently the kid just rinsed off his toothpaste-sudsy toothbrush in the hubby’s iced tea. Now, back to our program…

I know, as a reader, you will be disappointed to find I do not have a photo of my son dancing on Betsy Ross’ grave. For once I did the responsible thing and stopped my child from doing something outlandish instead of prolonging it so I could get a good picture…which I may have been known to do in the past.

So here are some of those other pictures (which also serve to illustrate why the above incident was not surprising in the least):

And then there’s the poop story. No one wants to see pictures of that.

There it is. My son, in a nutshell. It’s a good thing he is cute. Hopefully Betsy Ross thought so too and decided NOT to come back and do some vengeful haunting.

What I WAS Going to Write About

kid at the doctor
There HAS to be something wrong with him…right?

Last week I began formulating an idea for a blog post, born out of the frustration that comes with being the mother of a three-and-a-half year old. I have often said that the age of three should be declared a medical affliction. After all, there has been many a mother who has gone to the pediatrician with complete certainty that there will be a diagnosis of an ear infection, a sinus infection, an ANY infection to account for the increasingly whiny behavior of her child, only to have the pediatrician tell her he is completely healthy…he’s just three. True story. And if three is a medical affliction, then three-and-a-half is a chronic disease.

That WAS what I was going to write about in my post.

I WAS going to pepper the post with a slew of examples proving my hypothesis that the age of three-and-a-half is a chronic disease, examples from right under my own roof. Like last Saturday when Michael pouted that he didn’t want his dad to take him to the playground because he would rather sit in a gym with me and watch his sister’s basketball practice (yes, it is nice that he loves me so, but only a three-and-a-half year old could make going to the playground a bad thing). Or Monday when Michael noticed that I sprinkled just the tiniest dash of flaxseed in his mac ‘n’ cheese and would not eat it because it apparently smelled and tasted “ridiculous.” Or pretty much any time Grace has something worthy of being on video: every recording of her performances, recitals, or games has the sound of Michael whining in the background. And in the case of last year’s Christmas dance recital, he is actually physically IN the background. You can watch it here (listen for the cue around the 2:43 mark where I whisper “MICHAEL!” in horrified embarrassment at what I know is about to happen yet have no power to stop.)

I WAS going to post about all those things, until a series of good behaviors and heart-melting actions made me feel like a frigid mommy dearest for even thinking to disparage my sweet little boy. Like the fact that on Sunday we were in a church with no cry room for literally almost three straight hours (mass followed by a baptism) and he was a complete and total champ about it. Or the fact that on Tuesday, for pretty much the first time all school year, he walked right over and sat on the rug after hanging up his coat, instead of latching onto my leg and making the goodbye process a battle of wills. Or the fact that on any given day, at any given time, I can ask him for a snuggle and he happily obliges, usually throwing in a goofy little smile as he squashes my cheeks together with his little hands before planting a sticky kiss on my face.

So that is what I AM going to write this post about instead. About a little boy who pretends to be Santa and wraps up things around the house to give his sister. About a little boy who plays house with his four Batman figurines, designating a Dad Batman, a Mom Batman, a Brother Batman, and a Sister Batman who all throw a party in the Batcave for the “Terrible” Hulk so he will turn into the “Happy” Hulk. About a little boy who has me read Llama Llama Misses Mama over and over again because it helps him remember that his own mama might go away sometimes, but she also always comes back. About a little boy who, every day as soon as we drop Grace off at school, says “I miss sis.” About a little boy who calls the kitchen the “chicken,” thereby making it hysterical every time he scolds our dog by yelling, “Scout, get out of the chicken!” About a little boy who sounds like Forrest Gump when he says “ice cream,” and who makes us giddy by humoring us with the movie line we taught him to say for full effect: “Lieutenant Da-an…iiiiice cream!” About a little boy who still has the captivating sing-song voice of innocence, making me sometimes hang on even his jibberish ramblings just to listen to the way he says the words.

Yes, there is definitely a lot to complain about with a three-and-a-half year old. But fortunately, there really is so much more to love. And that is the best medicine for any chronic disease.

What I WAS Going to Write About: The Enigma of the Three Year Old

doctor pediatrician
“There has to be something wrong, right?” (photo modified from Flickr under CC by 2.0)

Last week I began formulating an idea for a blog post, born out of the frustration that comes with being the mother of a three-and-a-half year old. I have often said that the age of three should be declared a medical affliction. After all, there has been many a mother who has gone to the pediatrician with complete certainty that there will be a diagnosis of an ear infection, a sinus infection, an ANY infection to account for the increasingly whiny behavior of her child, only to have the pediatrician tell her he is completely healthy…he’s just a three year old. True story. And if three is a medical affliction, then three-and-a-half is a chronic disease.

That WAS what I was going to write about in my post.

I WAS going to pepper the post with a slew of examples proving my hypothesis that the age of three-and-a-half is a chronic disease, examples from right under my own roof. Like last Saturday when Michael pouted that he didn’t want his dad to take him to the playground because he would rather sit in a gym with me and watch his sister’s basketball practice (yes, it is nice that he loves me so, but only a three-and-a-half year old could make going to the playground a bad thing). Or Monday when Michael noticed that I sprinkled just the tiniest dash of flaxseed in his mac ‘n’ cheese and would not eat it because it apparently smelled and tasted “ridiculous.” Or pretty much any time Grace has something worthy of being on video: every recording of her performances, recitals, or games has the sound of Michael whining in the background. And in the case of last year’s Christmas dance recital, he is actually physically IN the background (listen for the cue around the 2:43 mark where I whisper “MICHAEL!” in horrified embarrassment at what I know is about to happen yet have no power to stop).

I WAS going to post about all those things, until a series of good behaviors and heart-melting actions made me feel like a frigid mommy dearest for even thinking to disparage my sweet little boy. Like the fact that on Sunday we were in a church with no cry room for literally almost three straight hours (mass followed by a baptism) and he was a complete and total champ about it. Or the fact that on Tuesday, for pretty much the first time all school year, he walked right over and sat on the rug after hanging up his coat, instead of latching onto my leg and making the goodbye process a battle of wills. Or the fact that on any given day, at any given time, I can ask him for a snuggle and he happily obliges, usually throwing in a goofy little smile as he squashes my cheeks together with his little hands before planting a sticky kiss on my face.

So that is what I AM going to write this post about instead. About a little boy who pretends to be Santa and wraps up things around the house to give his sister. About a little boy who plays house with his four Batman figurines, designating a Dad Batman, a Mom Batman, a Brother Batman, and a Sister Batman who all throw a party in the Batcave for the “Terrible” Hulk so he will turn into the “Happy” Hulk. About a little boy who has me read Llama Llama Misses Mama over and over again because it helps him remember that his own mama might go away sometimes, but she also always comes back. About a little boy who, every day as soon as we drop Grace off at school, says “I miss sis.” About a little boy who calls the kitchen the “chicken,” thereby making it hysterical every time he scolds our dog by yelling, “Scout, get out of the chicken!” About a little boy who sounds like Forrest Gump when he says “ice cream,” and who makes us giddy by humoring us with the movie line we taught him to say for full effect: “Lieutenant Da-an…iiiiice cream!” About a little boy who still has the captivating sing-song voice of innocence, making me sometimes hang on even his jibberish ramblings just to listen to the way he says the words.

Yes, there is definitely a lot to complain about with a three-and-a-half year old. But fortunately, there really is so much more to love. And that is the best medicine for any chronic disease.