Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Through A Child's Eyes

I saw this quote on Facebook yesterday and let my eyes gloss over the words just as they typically do with everyone's on-again-off-again relationship status and less than subtle reminders that, yes, you drive a BMW.  You're so successful.

But as I moved on to more important sites, (ahem, Pinterest) I thought more about that quote.  Do my boys see the world as it ought to be?  That adage might be true for many children, but as time goes by, mine seem to be adapting to my sarcasm and sometimes dark wit. 

For example, yesterday's beautiful weather provided another opportunity to play outside in the sorely missed sun.  Graham frolicked in the grass while Cael, ever the pessimist, collapsed on the ground next to me.

"It's so hot, Mom."

"It's really not, honey, you're just hot because you've been running around.  If you take a break you'll feel better."

"No, I don't think so.  God just made it super hot for me so I'd be uncomfortable and you'd let me go inside and watch TV.  But don't worry, Mom-- God didn't make it too hot for the other boys.  They're fine to stay out here."

Not exactly how the world ought to be.

Graham is not immune, either, although his innate sweetness and youth limit damper his negativity.

"Mommy, remember that day when Cael was at school and it was just you and me and no one else?"

"Yeah, it was just last week."

"Yeah, that day.  That was good."

"I like to spend time with just you sometimes, too."

"No, not that.  I ate six pieces of candy when you were in the bathroom that day.  It was awesome."

Far from how things ought to be.

But if children see things in such an optimistic and wishful light, how do the boys see me?

"It's you, Mom."

"Thanks, Cael." 

"Mommy looks weird, Cael." 

"I know, Graham, but that's just how she looks."

What do kids know, anyway?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Full of Ship

I think that, during pregnancy, all mothers-to-be grow a "foreshadowing gene".  This gene allows us to predict upcoming disasters with startling accuracy, a gift that often seems to elude fathers and friends without children. 

For example, a mother knows that giving a child a hammer to help "build something" will inevitably lead to a bruised thumb or, quite possibly, a bruised brother.  A father probably look forward to the "quality time" he'll be spending with his son. 

Too bad it will be spent in the ER rather than the garage.  A mom knows this, however. 

My foreshadowing gene kicked in one night last week when Joel summoned me to watch a funny video he'd seen.  Not knowing what I'd be viewing, I curled up on the couch where he and my boys were perched and was taken aback by what I saw.

Technically, there's no swearing.  But as any mother knows, three and five year-old boys don't care about technicalities.  So when I heard the store patrons talk about "shipping their pants", my foreshadowing gene sounded a warning alarm. 

Trying to intercept this problem before it began, Joel and I quickly launched into an unnecessarily detailed explanation of shipping practices and methods.  But the damage was done, and Cael and Graham had already witnessed the laughter and shock on our faces. 

He may not have understood why, but he knew that we found this "ship" thing funny.  And if Cael is anything, he's funny.

"Mom, there's ship over here!  Come get this ship!  Graham, do you see the ship?"

How do I respond to that?  Am I looking for a small plastic boat, or a steaming pile of dog poop on the floor? 

"Ship that ball, Graham!  I just shipped these balls and now I'm going to ship the tub!"

I guess Kmart can call this marketing campaign a success.  Their commercial is modern, memorable, and controversial.

But its effect on my parenting skills?  Very convenient, my "asp".

Friday, April 26, 2013


"Thanks, Mom.  I promise we won't play in the mud."

 photo IMG_2912_zpsef98b503.jpg

"Things got a little crazy out there, Mom."

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ism of the Week

"When do I get an iPad, Mom?"

"You want an iPad, huh?"


"Well, they are super expensive, and not a toy for kids."

"They're a toy for grown-ups?"

"Yeah, I guess that's a good way to think about it."

"Okay, we can trade, then.  I'll give you one of my toys and you give me the iPad."

"Oh, you think I--"

"--Here's Captain America.  That ought to take care of it."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Donuts with Dad

Last Friday, Cael's preschool held an event for the fathers of students to attend.  Normally Joel's busy schedule wouldn't allow for his attendance at any events during the school day, but because we've neared the end of the year and his daily load has lightened somewhat, he was able to be there for Cael instead of sending someone in his place.

I suppose we could have told Cael that Joel would be there, but in my family's grand tradition of dragging out a surprise to painful lengths, we kept him wondering about who would attend.  Even as I forced Cael from my van that morning and his anxiety about the party reached public temper-tantrum level, I thought of Joel's plan to surprise Cael and ushered him into the building with the promise that someone-- someone would be there.

I left, patting myself on the back, knowing that I was setting Joel up to swoop in as the hero.  Cael would be ecstatic and Joel would sit on a pedestal for the rest of the day.

You've known us long enough to know that things never go that smoothly, though, right?

Joel came for the party and Cael was surprised.  But rather than that surprise manifesting as happiness, he was wary and suspicious, later asking me,

"Mommy, you told me that Daddy had to work.  But then he came to school anyway."

"Yeah, I know.  I was trying to surprise you."

"No, you were trying to trick me."

Pretty much.  But I wasn't too worried because I knew he'd still enjoyed his time at school with Daddy.  Daddy, on the other hand, got to experience a surprise or two of his own when Cael recited the bio he'd written about Joel. 

"My Dad's name is Joel.  He is taller than I can reach, and he is 14 years old." 
Fourteen?  I wasn't there to see it, but I'm guessing Joel was happier with that estimate than the actual number.  He did hit the big 3-0 last year, after all. 

"My Dad's favorite food is vegetables and candy."

If Cael wanted to make Joel (and in effect, the both of us) feel like poor excuses for parents, he could have made something up, like our raging alcohol problem or tendency to leave the kids alone for hours on end.  But instead, he decided to invent facts that, although also untrue, were just believable enough to pass as truth.

"I love my Dad because he does cool things with me.  We wrestle together.  And the best thing about my Dad is that he gives me money."

Wait, what?

Joel may have left the school on a pedestal in Cael's eyes, but we were both taken down a notch.  But I guess that's what you get when you trick surprise Cael Foreman.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Visual Arts

I've always thought of myself as a fairly artistic person, and anyone who knows me will vouch for the fact that my perfectionism often leads me to spend 20 - 30 minutes working on a picture of a train car on a restaurant placemat.  But over the last couple of years, I've gotten the sense that my boys didn't inherit that particular trait, opting instead to perfect their baseball swing like their Daddy, or their preference for bathroom humor.

They didn't get that from me either.  Just sayin'.

But in the last month, I've witnessed a resurgence of interest in art from Cael and Graham, and if the number of hung pictures and crayon nubs are any indication of his talent, I'd say he's a budding Van Gogh.

If I let the art speak for itself, however, I'd say he may have some issues.

Those must have come from Daddy, too.

"Who is this, Cael?"

"That's Muscle Guy.  Because he's got huge, big muscles.  And skinny legs."

"Okay.  And this person?"

"That's Nipple Man.  Look how many nipples he's got!"

"Why on earth would he need so many nipples, Cael?"

"Because he's awesomer that way!"

"And..."  Oh, my.  "Who is that?"

"That's Bob."

"Let's go practice baseball, Cael..."

Friday, April 19, 2013


Mother's Day is coming up soon, and I already know what I want.  I want Graham to pronounce the
letter "g" appropriately instead of the letter "d" and "c/k" instead of "t".  

"Mommy, I lite dat dood puppy song.  Now I'll do dah next part.  Otay?"

"Okay, Bubba.  Let's hear it."

"How much is dah titty in dah window?  Meow, meow!  Dah one wiff dah fluffy white tail.  How much is dah titty in dah window?  I do hope dat titty's for sale!"

Next time we'll stick to Old MacDonald...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ism of the Week

I've mentioned that we have a bit of a trash-talk epidemic at my house, and there seems to be no end in sight.

"Mom, can we have Spaghettios for dinner?"

"I don't have any Spaghettios.  I'm making chicken with green beans, and you can have either couscous or mashed potatoes."

"I want Spaghettios."

"I'm sorry, but that's not one of your options tonight."

"But that's what I want!"

"The answer is no, Cael."

"Whatever.  Your voice is just a potato!"

How do I argue with that?  After all, I yam what I yam.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Breaking News

Whenever something bad or scary happens in the world, it's always hard to decide whether to shelter my boys from that information, or do my best to explain it at their level.  Yesterday the decision was made for me when Cael caught me watching the news coverage of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

"Mom, what are you watching?"

"The news.  Something bad happened in a city a long way from here.  But we're safe, thankfully, so you don't have to worry." 

"What happened?"

I suppose I could have lied to him, a technique that has provided me with a number of parenting successes in the past, but I guessed that he'd seen a bit of the footage and would know I was lying.  (Although I was very tempted to tell him that all of the world's motorhomes had been stolen and crashed by five year-old boys who were now in solitary confinement, I decided to go with the truth.

"People were running a race and something happened that hurt a lot of them."

"Were they running with scissors?  You're not supposed to do that."

"I know, Cael.  But this wasn't about scissors.  Someone really naughty and obviously very sick in the head did it on purpose."

"Why would you want to watch that on TV?"

"I just want to know what's happening in the world.  And I'm hoping to hear that they have caught the person that did it."

"Iron Man could fight the bad guy."

I breathed a sigh of relief that he was no longer in question mode, because I didn't know how I could dance around the inevitable revelation that bombs were used as a weapon.  Instead, Cael's insight about the incident caught me off-guard just enough to keep me from calling up Boston police and having them hire my preschooler as a member of their team.

"Really, he could.  Iron Man and Captain America could fight him and catch him and then take him to the police.  And then when he's at the police station, the police officers should make him run a race with scissors.  And then he should have a time-out.  Like forever."

If only it were that easy.

Until then, I'll be hugging my boys tightly, with my ears on the television set and my heart with the people of Boston.

And one eye on the scissors.  Just in case.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Do you ever find that a particular word or phrase worms its way into your daily speech more often than any other?  Although it doesn't speak highly of my intelligence, I can remember (with clarity) the frequency with which I incorporated Cher's "as if" catchphrase from the movie "Clueless" into my vernacular.

Not my proudest moments.

If asked, I would have been hard-pressed to pinpoint a favorite phrase of my boys since the "bust your buffers" and "cinders and ashes" era of train dominated jargon.  I suppose one could refer to the near constant feed of potty talk and anatomical terms that pop up in our everyday conversations, but I much prefer to think of those as accidents and not an intentional effort to render me hairless before I'm thirty.

In the last week, however, Cael has taken to shouting "AWKWARD!" whenever the spirit moves him, and without a proper understanding of the meaning of the word, he tends to make the exclamation at inappropriate times.  Then again, if hearing my son mutter "awkward" while he's alone in the bathroom isn't awkward in and of itself, I'm not sure what is.

But what began as something funny and quirky has turned into bizarre and overused.

"Mom, what's for lunch?"

"How about pizza and veggies?"

"Pizza?  Awkward!"

"Graham, Iron Man is mine!  You can't play with him, you're too awkward."

"Dear God, thanks for baseball.  And thank you for superheroes and hot chocolate and keys and squirrels.  Amen.... awkward!"

There are always worse things, I suppose.  Cael could be swearing like a sailor in public or church, or he could spout vitriol toward his brother or other people I care about.  (Like Papa, maybe?)

For that matter, he could even regress back to the good ol' days of confronting strangers about their genitalia.  Because that wasn't awkward at all...

Friday, April 12, 2013

An Afternoon Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you for having Papa buy me a new Avengers coloring book.  It's different from my old Avengers coloring book because the pictures are different.  I'm gonna color them different, too, because they are different pictures.

Did I say thank you for my book?  I'll say thank you to Papa again next time.  Because my book is awesome.  And I'm an awesome colorer and I'll color the pictures so they look so awesome like the real Avengers.  I like Thor.  I can say "Thor", now, because I make a "th" sound with my mouth but before I could only say "For" like an "f" sound.  I can do it now because I'm awesome, too.  So is The Hulk.

I'm gonna color now.  I'm gonna color the different pictures.  Wait until you see how awesome I am.


Oh, God, thanks for crab rangoons, too.  Those are so awesome.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ism of the Week

"Mommy, when I am growed up, I'm going to have lots and lots and lots of money and I'll be so rich that I can buy any toys I want and I can buy nail polish for you."

"Oh, you're sweet, thank you!  But how are you going to get that much money?  Are you going to be a lawyer or a doctor?" 

"No, when I'm growed up I'm going to be a bank."

Now why didn't I think of that?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Modern Art

I'm so happy that Cael has inherited some artistic ability, and even happier that I have an excuse to color and doodle again.  But as I've recently learned, having a budding artist in the house involves much less art and much, much more interpretation. 

"Do you like my picture, Mom?"

"Yes, you're a very good artist."

"What's your favorite part?"

Quick, find something identifiable.  "Um, I really like how you wrote your name.  Your letters are so clear!" 

"But what part of the picture, Mom?"

"Well, let's see.  Is that a beak?  I like the beak on your... um, your chicken."

"IT'S NOT A CHICKEN!  Can't you tell what it is?"

This is always a lose-lose scenario.  If I give in and ask him what he's drawn, he will be offended that his vision wasn't clearly conveyed.  If I venture a guess (and guess wrong), he is not only offended, but convinced that I am stupid. 

"Well it's some kind of bird, because I see the beak and it looks like there's sky behind the bird.  So, is it a robin?" 

"Uh, no!"

"Okay, is it a hawk?"

"NO!  Come on, Mom.  Jeez."

With nothing else to lose, I took the chance and asked about my son's prized artwork.

"Okay, Cael.  You just tell me what it is.  I'm just not very good at guessing, it seems."

"Duh, Mom.  It's a black-yellow-red-brown tall tree leaf-bird.  And it's eating a brown, fuzzy tall tree-worm."

"Oh, I see.  I'm sorry."

"You really need to work on your guessing, Mommy..."

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Lasting Legacy

Do you ever think about what your legacy will be?  For example, years after you're gone when people consider your life and contribution to society, what will they think?  Will they remember you as a person who dedicated themselves to helping others?  Will they speak of your efforts to make the world a more beautiful place through art or music?  Will they remember you at all?

Cael will be remembered.  I'm sure of it.  Even if he goes on to accomplish nothing of value and simply skates through life with minimal effort, he will make his mark on history, and I know exactly what that mark will be.

Embarrassing his mother.

In the year 2150, long after Cael and I are gone, people will still speak of my ill-fated relationship with my son and the plethora of ways I continuously allowed myself to be humiliated.  Somehow I think Cael's blue eyes and soft curls will lead him to be remembered more favorably than he deserves.  Because that kid, for as much as I love him, can push my buttons with shocking accuracy.

That's nothing new, I know.  You've been there with me as Cael invaded the personal space of people in my own home, or nearly verbally accosted strangers in the supermarket.  But for as much as my son has targeted me with his antics, I hadn't seen it taken out on my loved ones.  Until last Friday.

While getting groceries a few days ago (a task that you'd think I'd avoid, thanks to the aforementioned incident), Papa and I strolled down the aisles at Walmart searching for peach-pineapple salsa.  When I spotted the item, I left the boys in the cart with my Dad so that I could weave between the other shoppers to retrieve the jar in question.  But when I got back to the cart, I cringed to hear the words coming from Cael's mouth.

"Papa, how did you get SO, so old?!"

I jumped on that, of course, in an effort to stop the line of questioning before it continued on to even more painful depths.  But my always understanding and congenial father was happy to answer Cael, and unknowingly opened the door for more embarrassment and a full-blown inquisition. 

"But why is your hair white?"

"Why do you have wrinkles?"

"Does everybody get that old?"

"Do I have to be that old?  I don't want to be that old!"

I knew one thing at that moment:  if Cael didn't stop berating Papa, he wouldn't need to worry about getting any older.

But for as much as my son's comments made me want to crawl under a proverbial rock, I considered that humiliation might just be Cael's forte-- his lasting legacy.  Who knows, maybe he'll tweak that trait into a successful career in comedy or perhaps he'll just stick that skill in his back pocket, only to come out at holidays and family gatherings.  And the supermarket, of course.

So many apologies to you, Papa.  We love you at any age. 

Now to go hide until the shame wears off...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cookie Entitlement

I hope you didn't miss me too much yesterday!  I will likely be taking one day off each week to preserve my sanity and, hopefully, the future of this blog.  Because as much as we all enjoy a good car wreck, I don't think it is anywhere near as much for you to watch me rip my own hair out, one shaking fistful at a time.

"Mommy, why did you make so many cookies?"

"These are all for Ethan's confirmation party, honey.  Not just for us."

"But I earned them!"

"Excuse me?  When did you earn them?  When you were all over the restaurant at lunch and I had to take you outside to have a chat?  Or was it when you called your brother a 'stinky footed butt-face'?"

"Oh.  Well, it was between those.  When I slammed Graham into the wall and said it was an accident."

"How does that earn you a cookie?  Did you even apologize?"

"No, but when I said it was an accident, Graham said it was okay.  So I guess you can give Graham a cookie, too."

"I'll give Graham one, but I don't think that earns you one.  You still need to apologize.  Slamming him into the one doesn't even earn you a sprinkle."

"Not even one?"


"Well that's okay.  I've still earned the cookies."

"And why is that?"

"Because I look like this."

Well played, little man.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easterism of the Week


"Yeah, Graham?"

"Am I still the handsomest?"

"What do you mean?"

"You said that Cael and I were the handsomest boys at church for Easter.  Are we still the handsomest?"

"Absolutely.  Even though you looked especially nice in your suits, you are always the best looking boys around, in my opinion."

"Do you think the Easter bunny liked my suit?"

"Oh, definitely.  And although you didn't see him, I'm sure he saw you." 

"When he was hiding eggs?"

"Yeah.  And when he was putting your Easter baskets by the fireplace."

"Did you see him, Mommy?"

"I saw him for just a second." 

"And was he handsome too?"

"Well, he looked very fluffy and soft.  But he was obviously busy, so I didn't get a good look at him.  He was definitely not as handsome as you." 

"Well I know that, Mom.  That's because he didn't have a bowtie.  Everyone looks better in a bowtie."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Foolish Games

"I'm tired of winter, Mom.  When's it going to be spring?"

"Actually, it already is spring-- April in fact.  April Fool's Day, even." 

"April Fool's Day?  Really?  Can I play a trick on you?"

I'm sick of winter, too, so sick in fact that the prospect of my son deliberately tricking me into believing that Graham was missing or that the motorhome had once again traversed our driveway into the neighbor's yard seemed more like fun than torture.

"Sure, you can trick me.  But since I know you're going to do it, it won't be much of a surprise.  What if we tricked Daddy instead?"

"Yeah, I want to trick Daddy!"

"Okay, what should we do?"

"I know, I know!  Let's steal and hide his iPad!  Or we could drop it in the toilet like your phone (yeah, you read that right) and then it won't work.  And Daddy will try to use it and it will be broken and we'll laugh!"

My son, everyone.  Putting the "fool" in April Fool's Day.

"Cael, an April Fool's Day joke is supposed to be silly, not mean.  Breaking and hiding Daddy's stuff is never an okay thing to do.  Let's think of something different."

Maybe the whole thing was a divine practical joke being played on me; from Cael's insistence on tricking me to his plethora of suggestions (including, but not limited to putting wet nail polish on the toilet seat, soaking all of Joel's boxers in milk and eating all of the peanut butter.  I'm not really sure how that last one is a trick on Joel, but the prankster himself assured me that it was.)

After 20 minutes of debating what to do and coming to no conclusions, I had to shut down the conversation with the promise of discussing it more later.  Daddy had a late night anyway, and there would be plenty of time to plot.

I shouldn't have been surprised, then, to hear Cael rummaging around in my bedroom, only to emerge with the following enthusiastic exclamation.

"It's DONE."

Aw, crap.

"What's done, Cael?"

"Daddy's trick.  I did it, and it's awesome."

"What did you do?" I asked, not sure if I really wanted to be face-to-face with milk-soaked underpants or peanut-buttery fingerprints on my television set.

"My trick is the best trick ever.  I didn't break anything and I didn't hide anything.  And he's going to think it's crazy and wild and silly and he'll laugh for so long and it's the best trick ever!"

"Okay, let's see it." 

"I took Daddy's shoes from here, by his shoe bag, and I put them here, on the floor close to his shoe bag.  They aren't missing, see?  But when he goes to take the shoes out of his shoe bag and they aren't in the shoe bag but instead they are on the floor in front of the shoe bag, he will laugh.  He will laugh so hard."

"That is a wonderful prank, Cael.  It's tricky and funny and perfect for Daddy."

And that might be the biggest joke of them all.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ode to Spring

I suppose I should begin this post with an overdue apology for dropping off of the metaphorical face of the earth last week.  While there were some forces out of my control (that I will share soon) keeping me from productivity, I still spent a great deal of time attempting to write the blog, worrying about not writing the blog, trying to think of subjects for the blog and, of course, determining which disastrous and epic events of our lives are even suitable to share on the blog.

But instead of accomplishing those tasks, I did nothing.  And it was glorious.

I'm back now, and feeling a bit more energetic and positive, undoubtedly due to the promise of spring in the air.  For the last couple of months, I've felt stressed, stretched thin and always teetering on the edge of packing up my children and mailing them any relative living outside my area code time zone.  When I confessed my anxiety in a blog post a few weeks ago, a very wise friend suggested that my emotional funk would probably dissipate along with the clouds and snow.  At the time, I scoffed at that comment, because I felt that my funk was as much a product of two hedonistic, defiant, persistently naughty germ-factories than it was due to the weather.

But then a funny thing happened.  Last Friday, the air was warm and the sun was shining, and, remembering that I have a fenced in backyard, I sent the boys out to play.

There was fresh air in my house for the first time in months.  I sat at the counter and did my nails.  I took my time making lunch and didn't worry that their meal of PB&J with applesauce didn't contain a proper vegetable.  I day-dreamed about bonfires and slip-n-slides and yes, even camping.  I saw that the boys' clothes and shoes were getting muddy and decided to let it go.  I drank in the peace and quiet of an unoccupied house and even the occasional yelp of one of my kids discovering a previously snow-covered pile of dog poop. 

And I realized that my friend was totally right.

Perhaps I've been suffering from winter-induced claustrophobia all along, and not a diagnosable urge to strap the kids to the roof of my van and drive through a thatch of trees with low branches.  After all, I wouldn't ever want them to get hurt, just taken down a notch, maybe, and I would certainly welcome the fresh scent of pine in my still-musty house.

So bring it on, Spring, and I'll try not to let my sarcasm and obvious cynicism squelch my new attitude like one of those unearthed piles of dog poop in my backyard. 

Oh, and thanks for the sunshine.