Thursday, October 25, 2012

Keep it clean

My kids love bath time, especially Mary and Anna. They like that I put a little of the baby's bedtime bath soap into the running water so their tub smells like lavender. They like pouring water out of the rinse cups, playing with bath toys, making hats out of the washcloths and "swimming like mermaids" because their hair fans out in the water.

As a parent, I do not herald bathtime with the same glee my children exhibit. For me (or Tim) it's another task to tack onto bedtime every other night, something that takes up time and keeps Lily awake as the voices of exuberant preschoolers echos off the tiles in the room that is directly across from the nursery. But for them, I try. Or, I try to pawn bathtime off onto Tim as often as possible.

"I'm with them all day," I rationalize to the man who has just walked in from twelve hours out of the house, when you factor in train time. Yes, he works and works hard, but I've just put in a full tour of duty at Camp Crazy and am ready for my day pass. "They want to spend time with you."

And he sighs and at least pretends to buy my stupid excuse and relieves me of bathtime duty. Usually he tries to save time and give them a shower instead. They protest the lack of bath but then they get over it.

Earlier this week I decided to put on my big girl pants and tackle bath time. Tim had had an especially long day and I had just bathed Lily in the sink and was therefore already drenched. I ran a bath and helped two excited little girls hop in.

I washed hair. Mary reminded me no less than 17 times to use conditioner. Anna flipped out because she's convinced the tear free shampoo still hurts, somehow. They splashed. I got a washcloth ready and scrubbed Mary down, then handed it over to her so she could "do it myself." Anna was pretending to be a frog in the tub next to her sister.

"Okay Anna, your turn," I said. "Do you want to do it yourself first, or let Mommy go first?"

"I peed," she said simply.

"You what? You peed? In the tub? Just now??"

"Yes," she said, as though I had asked her if it was dark out. "I peed. I peed IN THE TUB."

At this point I am frantically draining the tub, standing girls up and rinsing them with water from the faucet. Anna got the fastest scrub down in history.

"Where's my bath going?" she said as the water drained.

"You can't have a bath when you pee in the water!" I snapped. "You know better, Anna, that's gross. WE! PEE! IN! THE! POTTY!"

And from the dining room, my husband chimed in.

"Don't yell at her," he said.


" should probably yell at me," he said. I paused.


A pause.

"I...may have told her she could pee in the shower," he said meekly.

"THAT'S GROSS!" I said, mentally recalculating how much more often I needed to start cleaning the shower.

"It's not that bad," he said.

"THAT IS SO BAD," I said. "WE NEVER PEE IN THE TUB," I added for the girls' benefit, casting an extra long glare at my husband's back.

Tonight was bath, or rather, shower, night again. I made doubly sure they had used the potty before things got going.

"Hey, it's raining," Anna announced, looking up, clearly missing the concept of indoor plumbing.

I suppose as long as she doesn't think it's an outhouse, we're all good.

Monday, October 22, 2012

This is Halloween

Autumn is my favorite season. I love the leaves, the way the light looks golden, the crisp mornings. I have fond memories of being a little kid and tromping around the neighborhood with Mom or Dad on Halloween night, in a costume Mom usually made (except the year I begged to be B-list cartoon star Lady Lovelylocks and they caved, shelling out probably far too much for a plastic tie-over-your-clothes bib dress and garish mask that somehow didn't scare the crap out of my little brother), getting far too much candy and talking to the neighbors.

Needless to say, having little kids has brought out the Halloween excitement in me. I have three girls who can all walk, and my mind was running rampant with various "theme" costume ideas. Two years ago Mary and Anna were Glinda and Dorothy and they were so cute. This year my ideas ranged from the funny (rock, paper, scissors) to the uber-nerdy (five of us, five original alien races from Stargate!) to the adorable (Busytown Mysteries featuring Lily as Lowly!).  Then I remembered I had this cute plush chicken costume that Mary wore when she was Lily's age, and started planning a farm theme. I had visions of Mary as a cute little farm girl riding her bike "tractor" around the block, Anna as a cute pink pig or a pony.

I approached the kids.

"So Halloween is coming," I started.

"I'm going to be a PINK FAIRY!" Mary yelled excitedly.

"I wanna be a blue puppy with floppy ears," Anna said. Lily started, mute.

"Really?" I said. "What about-"

"And my fairy will have GLITTERY WINGS, and SHOES, and-"

"My puppy will be soft," Anna smiled.

I gave up. I enlisted some costuming help from my mother in law and consoled myself with the idea that there's always next year, since Lily probably won't be awake for trick or treating anyway this time around.

Weeks passed and the girls started reading Trick or Treat and Halloween themed books in their respective schools. Mary reminded me of the importance of bringing a flashlight and only visiting houses we knew. Anna reminded me about candy. A lot.

Tim and I were sitting on the couch, fall scented candles burning, when I realized that only one of us could take the girls. Someone had to be home to pass out candy. And I knew which job both of us wanted.

"Girls," I said, "who is going to go with you trick or treating?"

"Mary," said Anna.

"Anna and Lily," said Mary.

"No, I mean, Mommy or Daddy?"

"Daddy!" said Mary.

"Mommy," said Anna. Across the couch I saw Tim's gaze drop in disappointment. I knew he'd give in. I also knew his childhood featured fond memories of the neighborhood fathers bringing scads of kids up and down the street (and can neither confirm nor deny that beer may have been involved on the parental side).

"Which do you want?" he asked me.

"You take them," I said. "I'll hand out the candy." He brightened.

"Okay, Daddy," Anna said.

"Yay!" Mary exclaimed. Then she sobered up.

"Daddy," she said very seriously, "I know it's your first day. But don't worry. I'll help you know what to do."

I certainly hope he's up to it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

And your little dog, too

We were driving out of the neighborhood to take Mary to preschool when Anna piped up in the backseat.

"Can we see the witch?"

"What witch?" I asked. It was October but to my knowledge none of the neighbors had done much in the way of Halloween decorations yet, save a large inflatable pumpkin structure and a couple of signs. (I need one that says "Trick or Treaters welcome, stay the hell away, politicians and Jehovah's Witnesses.")

"The witch," she said simply, and I assumed I had just missed it.

"Honey, I have no idea what you're talking about," I said.

"It's a scary witch," she elaborated.

"Mary, do you know what she's talking about?"

"She saw a witch at someone's house," she said, which didn't really help.

"I want to see the witch," Anna insisted as we neared the preschool.

"Anna, I have no idea where it is," I said. "When we drive back home, point it out to me so I know what you're talking about."

"Okay," she said.

That agreement lasted through Mary's drop off and until we were in the car, now heading merrily towards Dunkin Donuts for a coffee (me) and munchkin (Anna).

"Where's the witch, Mommy? I want to see the witch!"


"Drive by it and I'll show you," she offered.

"Is it near our house?" I tried in vain.

"I don't know," she said. "It's just a witch, that's all."

I scanned the street. I saw nothing that remotely resembled a witch. She had just spent the day with my mother in law that prior weekend, maybe she knew. I called her. No answer.

"Mommy, I want to see the witch!"

We obtained coffee and drove away, Anna still asking about "the witch." I called my husband.

"Hon," I said. "Anna is going on and on about a witch. Do you have any idea what she's talking about?"

"Yeah," he said, and I nearly drove off the road in surprise.

"Thank God," I said. "Where the hell and what the hell is she talking about?"

"It's a scary, scary, scary witch!" said Guess Who.

"It's on the way home from the train station," Tim said. "We saw it after you dropped the girls off to me yesterday and I drove them home." (For explanation, we've been doing the "passing in the night" routine as I have been doing run crew for a production that just went up this weekend. I'd drop the girls off to Tim as he got off the train and take his car to make call.)

"Great," I said. "Where?"

"Um..." he said. "Maybe near the high school? Or near-" and here he named a landmark that is a good five miles away from the high school.

"That doesn't help," I said. I had been so close.

"Mommy, what about the witch?" Anna insisted.

"The witch is asleep!" I said.

"Nice cover," Tim put in.

"Well, you're no help," I said.


"Yep," I said. "She's asleep right now. Daddy will take you by her on the way home from the train tonight!"

"Why do you hate me?" Tim asked, probably wishing he'd never answered his phone to begin with.

"Don't worry," I said, "It's somewhere between High School, Random Landmark and home. You'll be fine."

We got through the day with Anna only asking about the witch every time we drove in the car, or saw the car from the front window, or saw another car pass by. Finally it was five o'clock and time to get Tim off the train, and we headed out the door, drove down the road, and eventually passed Random Landmark, next to which was a home, a home we had passed earlier but at which someone had evidently come home since, as a hideous, large, inflatable lawn structure now hovered by the street.

"Anna, quick, look out your window!" I said. "IS THAT THE WITCH?"

"YES!" she said. "It's scary!"

"But that's the witch? You've seen it?"

"Yes, that's the witch! She's awake!"

"Um...yes," I said, continuing on to make the train.

"Can we drive by it again?"


Not five minutes went by.

"Mommy? I want to see that scary, scary witch again. Can we drive by it?"

That was last Wednesday. I have heard about this witch every time we get into the car, or someone else gets into the car, or an errand is mentioned. Sometimes we drive by the house and it's not inflated, which prompts requests to go back later and "check."

I don't know what I'm going to say when Halloween is over. Let's hope for a garish, inflatable Santa to keep peace on earth this holiday season.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


"Anna, it's my birthday!"

That was how I woke up yesterday. Mary was five years old and thrilled about it. In a rare moment of good parenting, I got out of bed, sang her "Happy Birthday" and offered to make her scrambled eggs for breakfast.

"Can I help stir them? Since it's my birthday?" she asked.

"Sure," I said.

"It's my BIRTHDAY!"

"We need party hats," Anna said, reaching into the cabinet and producing a colander and large sauce pan.

"You do not need hats," I said, attempting to take back the sauce pan and colander. She managed to slip away with the other colander while I wasn't looking.

This year, Mary requested she be allowed to have her ears pierced in lieu of a big party, since I told her ear piercing was expensive. Before I had kids I had big stances on cosmetic procedures for kids, now that I'm in the thick of it I find I really don't care anymore. She's old enough to not yank them out and old enough to let me take care of them so we're going with it, assuming I can find an actual piercing place to do her ears. (My issues with malls and guns have not lightened up.)

"Can we get donuts on the way to drop Anna off? Can I get a pink one? Since it's my birthday?"

Are you sensing the refrain of the day? Mary was delighted it was her birthday, looking forward to her family party on Sunday, and was thrilled to find out the dress up dresses she had worn exactly one day before still fit "even though I'm five now."

J came by to drop off Baby G around 11.

"Do you have a present for me, Auntie?" Mary asked.

Along with not magically outgrowing dress ups, new five year olds do not magically download etiquette tutorials, it would appear.

"Mary, we don't ask that," I said.

"Sorry, Auntie," she answered. "I'M FIVE TODAY."

Really? I'd forgotten.

The day continued with calls from her daddy (who left before she woke up), grandparents, Uncle Brian. She got Facebook messages. (No, my daughter does NOT have her own Facebook page.) She was queen for the day and she knew it.

As the day stretched into afternoon, I asked Mary what she'd like for her birthday dinner.

"Mac and Cheese!" she said. "The orange kind!"

"The orange kind," in case you are wondering, refers to the Kraft blue box spectacular, as opposed to my homemade variety with freshly grated cheese and a homemade butter crumb topping. The one that my husband adored and my kids poked at as the adults attempted to not eat the whole pan.

"Really?" Tim asked when he called. "She doesn't want, say, pizza...?"

"No," I said firmly, "she wants mac and cheese."

Resigned, he ended the call.

"Mommy, when is it going to be Sunday? That's when I get presents, right?" At this point I was halfway kicking myself for raising what appeared to be a rather entitled little girl and halfway kicking myself for not having anything for her to open on her actual birthday.

"Right," I said. "Friday, we're going to try and get you earrings. Sunday is your cake. And Monday, you are going to lunch with Daddy. You get a birthday week, kind of!"

"Is it Sunday yet?"

Other facts about new five year olds: Cake > all.

"Soon, Mary. Want to help with dinner?"

"Yes. Oh, and you can just call me Birthday Girl."

You got it, Birthday Girl.