Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ism of the Week

"Mommy, why are there bad words?"

"I don't know.  But the important thing is that you don't use them.  You're too little and too sweet for such yucky stuff to come out of your mouth."

"But I'm not too little for yucky burps to come out.  Or throw-up."

"Yeah, that is yucky.  But those are very different than bad words.  You can't help that."

"Sometimes I can't help it when I say naughty things.  Just like burps and throw-up, Mom."

He can rationalize with the best of them.

"And I think that-- wait, no Graham!  Don't take my dinosaur!  BURP YOU, Graham."


"I just couldn't help it, Mom."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Rescue 911

I'm getting a little tired of Facebook.  Don't get me wrong-- I still check it compulsively, lest I miss out on the news that a former high school classmate that I haven't seen since 1997 get an unattractive pedicure at a nail joint in Missouri, or that 74 of my "friends" really, REALLY want me to play Farmville.  It just seems as though, lately, my News Feed has been a little dry.

Because of that, I often seek out the news and video clips that my friends share, anticipating the excitement of watching a guy fall off a ladder, or a malfunctioning washing machine doing the Harlem Shake.

You know, the important things in life.

So when I saw the following clip that a friend had shared, I couldn't help but watch and pass it along myself.

For those of you that can't view the video, it is a clip sharing the story of a 5 year-old girl named Savannah who called 911 after her father collapsed with chest pains.  Not only was this girl calm and collected, answering the dispatchers questions with confidence and even pausing to encourage her Dad that help was on the way, but she did all of it with a sassy silliness that officially made this girl The Cutest Thing Ever.

After I'd watched the video and shared it on Facebook, I got thinking about how smart this man was to teach his daughter what to do in the event of an emergency.  I've considered having a similar discussion with Cael, who is definitely smart and tech-savvy enough to make a simple phone call, but the honest truth is that I think my boys would more likely take my collapse as an opportunity to beat me with their homemade swords than a sign that I need medical attention.

But just in case my potential demise took place when Cael was in a particularly charitable mood, I thought it wouldn't hurt to have a discussion about what to do in case Mommy was hurt.

"Hey Cael, I want to talk to you about something."

"--I didn't do it!  I saw the old diapers and Graham said it would be funny but I know I'm a big boy and I don't need--"

"--Cael, you're not in trouble.  I wanted to talk to you about something else.  What would you do if I got really sick or hurt and I needed help?"

"Oh.  I'd go get Daddy or Papa.  Or Amy."

"How would you get to them?  You know you can't drive."

"I don't know.  If I couldn't get them, I guess I'd jump on you to wake you up.  Or I'd use a bat or something."

Okay, it wasn't a sword, but I was pretty close.

"If I'm hurt, hitting me with something probably isn't a good idea.  But here is what you should do; you should find my cell phone, which I usually have with me, and put in three numbers: 911."

"Oh, yeah, we talked about that at school."

"That's right.  When you call that number, someone will answer the phone and ask you questions to find out what is wrong, and then they will send an ambulance."

"Okay, Mom."

"Now here's my phone.  I want to see if you know how to make a phone call.  You put in those numbers, but don't hit send, okay?"


I knew this part was risky, and the last thing I wanted was for my son to start a new obsession with dialing 911 to ask for hot dogs or dirty jokes, but I also didn't want my efforts to be wasted because he couldn't navigate my iPhone well enough to place an actual call. 

"Cael, what are you doing?!?"

"Playing Temple Run."

"What are you supposed to be doing?"

"Calling an ambulance."

"If I'm really hurt, Cael, you need to follow directions quickly and not stop to play games."

"But you're not."

"I know, but this is important, and I want you to pay attention."

"Okay, Mom.  See?  911.  Now I'm going to call '863'.  Or maybe '229'."

Obviously I will have to be pretty vigilant with my phone in the days to come, making sure he doesn't steal it and place unnecessary calls to information or overseas nations.  But I did feel a sense of relief knowing that if something were to happen, I had my very own sassy child present to call for help. 

I just wish that sense of relief had lasted longer.

"Wait, Cael.  What were you saying you did with those old diapers...?"

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ism of the Week

"Try again, Graham.  Cheerios."






"Cheerios.  Ch, ch, ch."

"Tree-ree-ohs.  Tr, tr, tr."

"I know you can do this.  Say Cheerios with a "ch" sound, just like cheetah, change or chilly."

"Tee-wee-ohs with a "t" sound.  Teetah, tange, tilly."

"We can keep working on it.  Maybe I'll have a candy treat for you or something when you get it right."

"Ooh, candy?  Okay, Mommy.  Cheerios.  Ch, ch, ch.. Cheerios."

Guess someone is a little cheater.  Err, teater.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

To Whom it May Concern

Dear Local School District,

I am writing today as a concerned parent and citizen of our community, and I would greatly appreciate your consideration of my thoughts.

In today's day and age, I understand that it is increasingly important for families to spend quality time together to combat the war on values that seems to be raging in our schools and homes.  Perhaps that was the major motivator for this year's annual Spring Break, an entire week of no school that allows for plenty of "quality" time with my five year-old son. 

This event may be steeped in tradition, but as a first time school parent, I am just now beginning to comprehend the consequences of this lapse in scholastic opportunities.  Not only is my son missing out on the continuing education that will hopefully prevent his future incarceration, but he is taking out his superfluous energy and frustration on my family and our home.

As he has missed out on the creativity and learning present in his art class, my son has taken to coloring the carpet and stamping the walls in protest. 

With no access to the library and its boundless reading material, I found my child huddled in the corner with a "free panty" advertisement from Victoria's Secret, clearly desperate for new words to master, like "cleavage" and "supple". 

And lastly, lacking the camaraderie of his school friends, my eldest chose to roughhouse with his younger brother, who is too young to handle his more aggressive style of play.

 At least that's what I thought.  The right hook and subsequent bloody nose he gave his older brother said otherwise. 

So in conclusion, school board members, please consider my thoughts as you construct next year's academic calendar.  While this vacation may be beneficial for teachers, please keep weary parents and our community's children in mind.  They are the future, you know.

Thank you,
Mary Foreman

Monday, March 11, 2013

Comedy Central

Several months ago I shared, with bizarre pride, the news that my sons had taken up comedy as a new pastime, memorizing their favorite Jim Gaffigan bit about buying toilet paper in bulk and repeating it ad nauseam.  Remember?

It was really cute at first.  It was still pretty cute at "second".  But after three consecutive weeks of "does that guy ever leave the bathroom?" following me around as I navigated church, the post office and the grocery store, I was nearly ready to trade in "comedic Cael" for the original, more troublesome model.

As it turns out, he never did give up on striving to be funny.  I guess it's in his blood, because Joel has always been a class clown, life-of-the-party type.  And while I'm not usually one to toot my own horn, I picked up on humor quickly in junior high and always worked hard to keep my friends laughing.

You do what you have to do when you look like this.

Mercifully, Cael's sense of humor wasn't borne from frizzy hair or six years of braces, but simply from an innate desire for attention.  So thus far in his life, he has been spared the torture of being laughed at in favor of laughing along.

In the last few days, however, Cael has grown more confident in his idea of "funny", and has begun creating his own material.  As his main audience, and someone who enjoys comedy, I first found his Seinfeld-esque observational humor to be somewhat funny.  He understood that by drawing parallels between otherwise unrelated things, he'd found his comedic niche and exploited that fact each time he opened his mouth.

"Mom, carrots are weird.  And guess what?  What do you call a carrot that's blue?"

"I don't know.  What?"

"A basket!"

Ba dum, chh...

I wasn't sure if he was attempting to tell jokes or alerting me to a possible medical problem that had gone thus far undiagnosed.  But as the next few moments and the next few bizarre jokes unfolded, his new calling was clear.

"What is an book that stinks?"


"A chicken!  And here's another one, Mommy!"

Great.  He's anything if not persistent, and my acting skills weren't good enough to feign amusement all day.

"What's a blue sofa with hair on it?"

"What is it?"

"A punk!"

That almost worked.  Maybe there was still hope.

"Okay, Cael.  Last one."

"Okay.  What do you call chips and salsa that's spicy?"

"You tell me, dude."

"Fire in your mouth.  Or fire in your underpants!!!"

Tickets go on sale next week, folks.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Aquatic Addictions

I've always felt that I have a bit of an addictive personality.  When I feel stress or pressure, I am quick to duck tail and cover, searching out whatever interests me as a distraction and absorbing as much of it as possible.  Sometimes that might be an activity or a friend or even a blasted television show, but I can list at almost any time which addiction will propel me through tough times.

Cael takes after me in this regard.  Not the overwhelming-susceptibility-to-stress part, but the obsessive part; his interests always being very one-dimensional and clear as day.  First it was trains.  Briefly it was tractors. Then it was dinosaurs, and even today superheroes captivate his attention like nothing else.

Graham is a completely different animal.  A weasel, perhaps.

Graham is eclectic in every sense of the word.  His taste in food or television spans multiple genres, and his collection of favorite toys reveals nothing about his personality or preferences.  But if there is one constant in my youngest son's life, it is his love of screwing around with water. 

When Graham was very little, he loved to take baths in the bathroom or kitchen sink, and he would splash and wriggle in the water until the floor was as wet as the inside of the basin.  When he grew a bit older, he discovered the magical properties of wet toilet paper and conducted daily experiments to discover how much tissue our home's plumbing could tolerate.  Just earlier this year, our foray into potty training, while successful in releasing us from the iron grip of diapers, reinvigorated Graham's interest in the wonder of the bathroom.

And that is why I find myself this morning, on my water-soaked knees, retrieving bits of water-logged construction paper light-sabers from the junction of the carpet and the vinyl flooring.  And while I could use the fantasy of his future marine biologist earnings as a stress-reliever, I think I'll stick to caffeine and a good book.

Hopefully the pages are still dry.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Sometimes literacy isn't all it's cracked up to be.

"If you want me to read another book, go grab one, Graham."

"We read them all."

"No, we have a ton of books; we didn't read all of them today."

"I don't want those books.  I know all of those books."

"Okay, well I'll make up a story, then.  I'll tell it to you, and then you can make up a story for me."

"Okay, Mommy." 

I briefly considered telling him a story about how Mommy is a painfully dedicated perfectionist, but I figured that Cael's valentine and the story I was about to share would convey that pretty clearly.

"Once upon a time, there was a fluffy puppy named Oscar.  Oscar was the leader of all of the dogs in Dogland because everyone loved him the most.  He was kind to everyone he met, and he never bit or hurt anyone.  One day, all of the dogs in Dogland decided that they wanted to steal all of the treats from the pet store.  They all squeezed into the dog house and came up with a brilliant plan.  They would send in Oscar, everyone's favorite white dog, to grab up all of the treats and run out of the store without paying.  They picked Oscar because he was so nice and the other dogs knew that no one would suspect Oscar of doing something so naughty.

When Oscar learned about the plan, he jumped up and down because he was so excited about dog treats.  But then he thought more and more about taking the treats from the store without paying, and he knew it was wrong.  He whined and whimpered like he needed to go potty until the other dogs asked him what was wrong.  'We can't steal the treats.  It's wrong, and we are better dogs than that.  We need to pay for the treats.' 

The other dogs didn't agree.  So they banded together and picked a new leader to go steal the treats from the pet store.  Oscar stayed in his dog house, worried about his friends, but knowing that he was doing the right thing.  Meanwhile, the other dogs sneaked into the pet store.  They crept around the corners and stayed very quiet.  But quickly, the store owner saw a big golden retriever with his cheeks stuffed full of beef-flavored dog treats and blew a loud whistle.


The store owner called the pound, and a man with a long beard showed up to take the naughty dogs away.  Oscar barked at his owners to help and that same afternoon, his friends were released from the pound. 

'Oscar, we are so sorry.  You were right about stealing the treats, and we shouldn't have done that.  We have learned our lesson, and we want you to be our leader again.  Please forgive us?'

Oscar, always a kind puppy, immediately forgave his friends.  'Of course I will forgive you.  But you need to promise me that you will always be nice to others and do the right thing.'

'We will, we will!', the other dogs barked. 

And that is how Oscar, the fluffy white puppy, became the world's greatest dog."

"Did you like that story?"

"Yes, I liked it but I wanted a story about dinosaurs."

"Well why don't you make your story about dinosaurs?"

"Okay, Mommy.  One time there was a dinosaur named Mommy.  And she was HUGE and MEAN and had huge teeth and she ate animals and trucks and stuff.  And she smelled AWFUL and nobody liked her.  The end."

"...Oh, and Mommy?"


"Dinosaur Mommy wouldn't read books, either."