Monday, September 29, 2014

Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday.

At the end of kindergarten, Mary started talking about what kind of backpack she wanted for first grade. At which point I crushed her dreams of owning an overpriced Target princess special by reminding her that she had in her possession a very nice, very durable pink backpack from LL Bean that had practically cost an internal organ and had her name on it. 

I began to wonder if I was in the minority until a friend Facebook messaged me asking if I was planning on buying the kids new backpacks. My response was a swift “nope, she’s got a really good one.” My friend’s response was something like “thank you!” - because apparently her son was also vying for a new backpack, though probably not in a Sofia the First or My Little Pony theme.

Mary mentioned a new backpack a couple of more times, but I held firm in my resolve. When the backpacks went to $12 on clearance, I was momentarily swayed, but it wasn’t until I was in Target this weekend and saw  Miss Sofia, in all her purple, plastic, glittery, probably poorly made glory, beaming at me from a backpack reduced to $4 that I caved. I stuck it in my cart and was pleased to have gotten a jump on my Christmas shopping.

Of course I forgot to take the stupid thing out of the car and when I got Anna from preschool, I heard a joyful “hey! A Sofia the First backpack!” from the backseat. I had forgotten Anna’s love of searching the “way back” for cast off toys before buckling into her booster.

“Oh, that’s a Christmas present for Mary,” I said as I started the drive to Mary's school. “We can’t tell her about it, ok?”


I picked up Mary and the girls spent about a half an hour on the playground before we walked back to the car.

“Now Mary, don’t look in the back,” Anna said when we got to the car. 


“Why can’t I look in the back?” Mary asked, as I opened the back and deftly moved some things to cover up the gift. 

“Anna’s just being silly,” I said, and started buckling Lily into her seat.

“We don’t want you to see your new packpack,” Lily offered brightly.

“Silly Lily, Mary’s ‘packpack’ is in the front seat!” Mary was eying me skeptically.

“Lily you ruined the surprise!” Anna said indignantly. “Well at least she didn’t tell her who was on it.”
At this point I was seriously considering banging my head on the side of the car when I remembered that Mary’s birthday was in a few days. I hadn’t forgotten, exactly, but she wants to go see a musical instead of having a big party and because the tickets aren’t on her birthday…okay, I may have momentarily forgotten. I reached in the back and grabbed the backpack.

“Look what your sisters got you for your birthday!” I exclaimed. Mary beamed.

“Wow, thanks guys!” she squealed, examining it from every angle.

“You’re welcome Mary,” Lily said.

“I’m so glad you like it,” Anna added. “I picked it out myself. And I painted that picture on the front for you too.”

“Anna, stop it,” I said.

“Yeah, okay. Mommy painted it for you. Not me.”

“You did, Mommy?!” I should point out here that the front of the backpack is not even remotely painted looking.


“Well I love it!”

“I’m so glad, Mary. Happy early birthday.”

So the lessons I learned today are:

  1. You can’t half ass hiding the presents anymore.
  2. Anna is an awful secret keeper.
  3. Lily is worse.
  4. Anna is apparently really, really good at making up stories off the cuff and Mary is apparently really, really credulous. This does not bode well for their teen years. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Lord of the - well, you know.

As I may have mentioned once or a hundred times, I love summer for the simple fact that we can be outside, which is a lot less crazy making than all four (sometimes five, sometimes six) of us daytime house dwellers bouncing off the walls.

Unfortunately, all of my kids hate bugs. I mean haaaate bugs. Lily freaks out at the sight of ants, and points angrily at the sidewalk.

“The ants can be outside, Lily. They live here.”

“No. You make them go away.”

“Ants are fine, Lily.”

“Dey not gonna eat me?”


“I no yike them. I step on them.” Repeat as often as you see ants.

Today, though, all three girls suddenly ran past me in the front yard and into the house.

“Wasps!” Anna yelled as she slammed the screen door.

“What?” I looked around. I saw no wasps.

“They’re going to suck my blood!” she continued, while they all three ran dramatically around the living room. Five seconds in and I was pining for the great outdoors.

“Wasps are tiny and they suck my blood,” Anna informed me.

“Oh! Those are mosquitos!” I said, relieved that I was not going to have to hunt for a wasp nest any time soon. The one in our shed last summer was fairly exciting. (Protip - poison ivy killer will not kill wasps and that’s saying something. Poison ivy killer WILL kill poison ivy and grass and any other nearby plants like a BOSS.)

“Mosquitos!” Mary said, in an “I can’t believe I forgot this!” tone of voice. “Are they like flies?”

“Well no…not exactly.”

“Why do mosquito bites itch? Why do they drink blood? Do they only get a little at a time?” Mary continued. I attempted to answer the first, then moved on to “because it’s food for them” and concluded with “well, yes, but they’re tiny so they only need a little at a time.”

Mary nodded.

“So they’re pretending to be flies?” Anna asked.

“No, honey, they’re different insects.”

“But they fly and -”

“Yeah and they’re not smart like flies,” Mary added with finality, at which point they were done with the conversation and moved onto other pressing topics like the color of the stripe on Snow White’s dress. (It’s not yellow and Mommy clearly lacks brain cells for thinking so, in case you were wondering.)

Well, not all of us can be as smart as flies, I guess.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Another season, another post.

Welcome to summer 2014, where the kids are old enough to play in the fenced backyard without constant hovering supervision as long as the pool isn't inflated. It's glorious. I mean, I still have every single chore I had over the winter and spring, and then some (hello dirt and sunscreen residue on every available surface!) but NOW I can tackle those without three sets of feet running past me at warp speed. I can actually walk from one room to the other and return to find it not destroyed. It may be the Twilight Zone around here.

Of course with the summer, which has finally arrived after an exceptionally cold spring, comes the humidity and air you could cut with a knife. And that makes for cranky kids about 1 p.m., so I wasn't surprised when Lily came stomping in the living room where I was folding towels, hair plastered back from her face with sweat, little fists clenched, jaw set.

"I quit!" she announced upon seeing me. I blinked.

"You - quit?"

Angry nod.

"What? Why?"

"Because ANNA drank all the water!" she protested, motioning to one of the six million cups that float around this house in their own orbit. This one was empty. "Now I don't have any!"

Oh, the warped sense of justice you have when you're almost three. (Almost three. How did that happen?)

"Well, don't quit. I'll get you some more." I abandon the towels, pick up the cup and walk into the kitchen, grouchy preschooler hot on my heels, a skeptical look on her face. I filled the cup, put the top back on and handed it to Lily, who took a long drink and grinned up at me, all traces of angst gone.

"Fank you, Mama!" she said joyfully, then handed me the cup and went back outside to join her sisters, the screen door slamming loudly behind her.

Well at least she decided to stay.

Monday, March 31, 2014

On Easter and IQ

Putting my children to bed is a predictable, if extensive, process. There are water cups to provide, extra hugs, the inevitable second trip to the bathroom a mere three minutes after the "last call, oh my WORD just GO" trip, and prayers that "the white elf" doesn't come "hit" one of them in the middle of the night. (And an extra prayer for Mommy who still has no idea what that means and is a little scared herself.) And, like clockwork, Lily and Mary will conk out about 10 minutes after the last goodnight and Anna will sit on her bed for approximately seven hours talking to her toys before collapsing on top of them, not so much having fallen asleep as run out of steam.

So tonight when I heard Mary railing in her bed about the injustices of school, and how she never wants to go back, EVER!, I went in to see my normally enthusiastic kindergartener to ask what the issue was.


"Why? And don't say because "it's boring" or "it's dumb," because first of all it's not true and second of all, that's life and you have to go. So what's the problem?"


I paused. I bit my tongue. I rejected the first three thoughts that popped into my head.

"What happened, Mary?"

"Well, I don't want my sisters to hear, but you know, most of my class believes in the Easter bunny and I know he's not real and-" she started crying. I winced.

"Did you tell your class the Easter bunny wasn't real?"

Sobbing and nodding.

"MARY!" I scolded. "We tell you the truth when you ask because we trust you not to tell the other kids! You know that! You don't spoil the game for other people!"

"I know," she wailed, climbing into my arms. "I'm SORRY!"

"You told your whole class there was no Easter bunny? Go to SLEEP, Anna!" I called into the next room. Anna flopped down on her bed and pretended to snore, one hand inching towards the millions of stuffed toys surrounding her.

"No, I told my two friends and they said I was wrong and I said my daddy TOLD ME-" another cringe from the Mother of the Year - "AND THEN THEY TOLD THE ENTIRE CLASS THAT I DON'T BELIEVE IN ANYTHING EXCEPT HALLOWEEN AND THAT ISN'T TRUE!"

At this point my bewildered husband has put down his work and come to join in the conversation. I can see him holding back a smile, which is doing nothing for my ability to contain my laughter.

"Mary," he said, "We want to tell you the truth about things when you ask but the other kids get to find out the truth from their parents, too - when their parents think that's right. You don't get to do that."

"I know," she said. "I'm really sorry."

"I know you are," I said. "Tomorrow, you can go to school and you don't have to say you changed your mind. But you can tell your friends that people believe all kinds of different things and that's okay - and that the Easter bunny is a fun thing to believe in."

"They don't listen! They say I'm wrong and I'm not and-"

"Oh yeah," I added. "You aren't smarter than everyone in your class. There are people there who probably know more than you do and there are people who know less than you do and that doesn't make anyone bad or good, it's just how it is. And believing in the Easter bunny in kindergarten doesn't make you smart or du-"


At this point I was shaking and had to leave the room. Tim tucked Mary in and no more was said about imaginary holiday mascots or the perils of addition.

I went in the other room and called my mother.

"Is it too early to start drinking?" I began, as soon as she said hello.

"Of course it is, it's only Monday!"

"I was asking if 7:30 was too early..."

"Oh." There is silence from Connecticut. "So how was your evening?"

My evening was two Sam Adams' worth of parenting hurdles, and yours?