Out to Lunch

Today was the day of the uneaten lunch. Well, two uneaten lunches. Actually, six uneaten lunches. Anyway, let me tell you what happened.

So I was at a local establishment with my parents, who are in town visiting. The kids and I walked down from our house to meet them at their hotel, and we did a little shopping. We thought it would be nice to grab a bite to eat while we were in town. I get a little apprehensive about taking the children to restaurants these days because they’re in a phase where sitting still and being quiet are not in their quality world.

I figured I’d expedite the kids’ meals so that they wouldn’t lose their sh*t any earlier than necessary. After all, lunch time and nap time are synonymous. Our waitress happily put in their order first while the rest of us decided on our meals. Meanwhile, my good friend Julie came in with her mom and son, and they sat at a nearby table. The kids thought this was an incredible arrangement. The other patrons, not so much.

One couple entered, and noticed the kids. Then they noticed that Julie and I were taking up a conversation several tables apart from one another. They asked to be moved. Whatever. We’re very interesting individuals and if that couple didn’t see the luck they had landed when being seated in the same room as us, it’s their loss.

Then another couple entered, and sat down. It appeared as though they were going to stay for the long haul. Or lunch. I assumed they were staying for lunch.

Well, so, you know how it goes. Harrison had to use the bathroom. We went in to the ladies’ room, and he did his business. Somehow, and I don’t know how this happens, but he peed on his pants and underpants WHEN THEY WEREN’T EVEN ON. I don’t get it, but apparently this is one of the joys for raising someone with a penis. So, I threw away the underpants, and decided the shorts hadn’t seen too much damage that they too had to be sacrificed. Naturally, today was the first day since Harrison has been potty trained that I didn’t think to pack extra bottoms for him. So, there I was, back at the lunch table with a kid who wasn’t wearing underpants.

My commando-style son continued his time at the table racing around a new truck he had received for his birthday. Ella had decided to protest the existence of the high chair. Neither child could stay still to save his or her own life, but, since it was only our party, a friend of mine with her family, and one couple that seemed unfazed, I let it go.

Our meals came in good time, and Julie’s table was served as well. I started in on my veggie burger when I heard a yelp from Julie across the room. She screamed, “There’s a bug…crawling out of my salad!” Julie’s mom waved the server over (who was, at the time, taking the orders from the only other table brave enough to sit in that room), to alert her of the disaster. The couple was interrupted mid-order, and it was evident that they were startled by the server abruptly leaving them.

It then became clear to me that my veggie burger was actually a slightly charred hamburger. Now, before we all get in a tither, I am slowly phasing out meat, so this realization came without much alarm. But, when I notified the server that my order was misinterpreted, she blanched at the thought that she made an herbivorous customer consume meat. I let it go, and kind of wished I had a PETA shirt on or something. Anything for a bit of drama.

So there I was, eating lunch, (or rather waiting to do so) in the company of a child who wasn’t wearing underpants, and a friend who couldn’t swallow the thought of a bug in her meal. The one set of people we hoped would remain, quickly departed after the bug debacle, and we were left in the room alone again. Harrison and Ella decided they could not take one more moment in the confines of civilization, and so before my actual veggie burger came, I dismissed myself, along with my children, to walk home. It was a long walk, being nearly 1 pm and not having had lunch. Which brings me back to my first sentence: No lunch for Katie. No lunch for Julie. No lunch for couple who refused to sit near us, and no lunch for pair who didn’t want to eat bugs. I’m not sure that poor restaurant made any money today. 

Harrison’s 3rd

Yesterday was Harrison’s third birthday. For months, he looked at a picture we’d framed of him at his first birthday, which hung above the kitchen table, and asked when he’d get presents again. For months, we explained that his birthday would come, as would some presents. He’d stare longingly at that picture of himself, surrounded by gifts, and daydream about the next time that would happen.

Now, I’m not trying to raise a greedy, selfish kid. But he’s three, and presents matter. We talked about other things as well, like the people who would be there, and the things we would do, and the fun we would have. I just hoped he wouldn’t be disappointed when the day came.

Would he like his presents? Would he have a nice day? Would he be in a good mood? I even called my mother a few days before his big day to tell her how excited I was to plan a special day just for my boy-and how I was kind of surprised at how much fun I was having over the whole event. She said that was normal.

But what I didn’t tell her was that I was kind of scared too. Three year olds are a unique breed. They have really, REALLY strong opinions. They also change their minds like every twelve seconds. If he wasn’t happy with all the hard work I had done, it was going to break my heart.

Justin and I bought him a Thomas bicycle, and I was convinced that by the time he received it, he would have decided that he didn’t like trains anymore. I planned to take him to his favorite place, with one of his favorite friends. I was worried that by the time we went, he’d decide he didn’t like that place anymore, and he wouldn’t like his friend anymore. We planned to have pizza for dinner because that’s his favorite food, and I feared that he wouldn’t be in the mood for pizza that night. That he’d want grilled cheese instead.

Well, he DID like his bike. And he DID have fun at his favorite place with his favorite friend. And he DID eat his pizza. It was fine. It was perfect. He was happy, and that’s what matters. But do you know what he was most excited about?

The banner I made by hand with paper, string, and a sharpie.

The balloons his daddy brought him home after work.

The dollar store flag his Mimi brought him.

The extra wrapping paper his great Aunt Marylou let him play with all afternoon.

His family being there, all of whom he hugged and snuggled.

I write a LOT about how crazy my boy drives me. I cry a LOT about how crazy my boy drives me. But when I get to watch his happiness at life’s simplest pleasures, I realize that deep down, that kid is gonna be ok. His heart is big and strong. His love runs deep. He knows what’s important in life.

The Trek

I am writing to you now from the bathroom of my hotel room. Classy, I know. I just want to say that when hotel concierges see a family with two small children enter the building, they should immediately, before checking you in, offer a drink. Because, who knows what the car ride was like, and I’m telling you it probably wasn’t pleasant. And also, those parents are NOT going to sleep that night, no matter how comfortable the mattresses are. So, a nice complimentary welcome beverage would really start the stay off on the right foot.

We are on hotel two of our trip for the Trek Across Maine, which is a bike ride to support the American Lung Association. Bikers, such as my husband (hence my being here), ride across the state, stopping for the night at various locations. This is a three night, three day event. Justin’s job is to ride his bicycle 180 miles. My job is to tote the kids around to all the stops while he’s riding.

For the past two nights, we had the pleasure of staying at a lovely inn in Wilton, Maine, and we were lucky enough to have two separate bedrooms in the suite so that Harrison and Ella didn’t have to cohabitate. We thought this was the perfect solution, because we assumed Harrison would be a bit difficult to put down for naps and bedtime in a new place. We were right about one thing. He was difficult. I don’t think he could have screamed louder if I had pulled out each of his toenails one by one. And that was only for his nap. Don’t you worry though-it only took us four hours to settle him down, and then that sucker took quite a good rest. During the night he decided he must sleep with me and that would have been fine except he wanted to sleep in a 45 degree angle, so he’d be in the perfect position to kick me in the bladder every 20 minutes. We made it through though.

But then there was dinner time.

I can’t tell you much about the first night out to dinner because I had to take the two children back to the hotel before the appetizers even came. Ella has decided that 6pm is a completely acceptable bedtime, and although this is not a problem at home (she sleeps through the night, often waking later than Harrison in the morning), it is incredibly inconvenient when you want to do anything. Ever.

The second night was a little better. My little nuclear family comprised four out of our party of ten. At my end of the table, there were crayons and crackers all over the floor within fifteen minutes of our arrival. We had promised Harrison he could watch a show on my phone, but of course my internet wasn’t working there so that was a flop. He took the news well, but decided dancing around the table was a better option. Ella thought he needed a dance partner so she joined in. My nephew wouldn’t go to the bathroom without the “invincible magic bracelet” Justin made him wear, and thus, we all had to wear it when we needed to go pee. Just another day in paradise, my friends.

I turned around and noticed that behind me there were two very calm ladies sitting with two pleasant and well behaved girls. I considered moving my chair to their table, but I thought someone from my party might notice that I was gone. At one point I got to share some words with these ladies and it turns out that lots of kids go through these phases. I asked if my children would become normal, sweet, calm individuals who could sit quietly at a dinner table in public, and one woman assured me that, in time, they would. I’m holding her to it. As a matter of fact, she thought that my life looked so fun that she wanted to exchange numbers so we could have a playdate sometime. Some of you think I take a creative license when writing this blog, but now I can prove to you that complete strangers even find the natural state of my existence as a parent hilarious. So hilarious in fact, that I’m sure she just wants to hang out to see what else could possibly happen. Obviously, we’re going to hang out because it’s selfish not to share the fun.

Now that we have made it to night three of our adventure, I am a) exhausted, and b) thirsty. But you see, I’ll have to resort to wine, because just before I started writing this, I blew up my cup of Starbucks coffee in the hotel microwave. I haven’t had the chance to clean it up, because I’m waiting for Ella to fall asleep. That is, after all, why I’m in the bathroom. Being quiet. But of course, Justin and Harrison missed the memo about being quiet and came in RIGHT after she fell asleep the first time. “You got the stuff?” Justin asked. What am I, a drug dealer? Apparently I forgot to get together his and Harrison’s clothes while I single-handedly set up the pack and play, found a sheet for it (we’re now short on bath towels) and blew up my coffee in the microwave. So therefore it’s my fault that they woke her up, and if anyone’s keeping track, it’s always my fault.

I’m going to go find some wine now. And don’t worry, I won’t put it in the microwave.

Sam

I found out the news while going through my Facebook feed. My friends, Adam and Laura had just given birth to a baby boy. They knew that he had Trisomy 18 and the prognosis was not good. They were hoping for some time to hold him and love him before it was time to say goodbye.

The good news is that Adam and Laura and their children got to meet baby Sam and they had two glorious hours with him. The sad news is that they had to say goodbye quickly after meeting him.

I looked at the pictures. There was this gorgeous family with their new addition, pride filling their smiles. There was Laura, looking gorgeous and rested, although I am quite positive she has not had much sleep. There was Adam, whom I’ve been friends with since the seventh grade, holding this tiny baby in his hands, falling in love, sharing his dreams with his new little man.

Then the tears came. Harrison looked up at me and asked, “Momma, are you sad?” I told him I was, and so he climbed up on the couch, away from his bulldozer and his tractor and wrapped his little arms around my neck. He looked me in the eyes, which I later noticed were smeared with mascara, and kissed me. Shortly after, he climbed down and tried to resume play. But, he kept glancing at me, and to be honest, I just couldn’t stop crying. He climbed up again and curled himself in my lap and said, “Are you still sad, Mom?” I told him I was. He then announced that he needed his blanket. I wasn’t surprised, because he uses his blanket to cover any booboos that he has, and there seems to come an instant healing afterward. I knew he knew I was hurting, and he thought I might need some comfort. Once he retrieved it, he wrapped me in it, and said, “This will make you feel better.” To be honest, it did.  But then, he caught sight of my phone, where I was still scrolling through pictures of baby Sam and his family. He wanted to see. So I showed him.

I showed him Sam with his sisters. And Sam with his mom and dad. And Sam with his big brother. After that picture, he noted, “Mom, MY baby is bigger than that.” And I giggled because, of course she is. She’s 15 months old. But I looked in his eyes and noticed that he understood something I hadn’t mentioned. He didn’t know that Sam wasn’t here anymore. But he knew. He knew something. He knew there was something different between this baby and his baby. He searched my eyes for an answer, but didn’t ask any questions. I decided it wasn’t quite time to explain. But when it is time, I’ll tell him that Sam is in heaven with our kitty. And I’ll hope to God that that’s enough of an explanation for now, because in all truth, there’s no answer.

Temper Tantrums

photo

A friend of mine shared this link with me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mothersnotebook/photos/pcb.608929895874194/608927912541059/?type=1&theater

It’s hilarious because I live this life. And then I got to thinking. I wonder how many temper tantrums Harrison has had that could be put on this post. And then I made a list.

  1. He couldn’t find his dinosaur. It was on the floor.
  2. He wanted me to make his bed. He was in it.
  3. He didn’t want to eat breakfast. It was lunch time.
  4. He didn’t want me to turn off his tv show. He’d already seen that episode of Handy Manny 4 times.
  5. He didn’t want me to brush his teeth (by the way, sometimes it is easier to brush the teeth of a screaming kid because his mouth is already open. You’re welcome.)
  6. He didn’t want to be in bed anymore but wouldn’t get out.
  7. He couldn’t use a fork to eat his popcorn.
  8. He didn’t get any mail today.
  9. His sister exists.
  10. He didn’t want to take a bath.
  11.  He wanted to take a bath.
  12. The ice in his cup melted. (It happens to be 80 degrees)
  13.  His cup wasn’t working. (It was empty)

And so yeah. That was the last 24 hours of my life.

Unconditional.

I might lose my mind. I have been stranded in a torrent of temper tantrums from one kid and unintelligible demands from the other one. Harrison has been sick so everything is wrong, all the time. Ella has discovered that words get her what she wants, but she doesn’t know enough words to actually ask for anything. Therefore, she just yells, “Maaaammmeeee” at the top of her lungs and points to things. This leaves me feeling like I can do nothing right because I have two children screaming at two different octaves all.day.long.

I think the hardest part with Ella is that she can’t exactly HAVE everything she wants. It must be so frustrating to think you’re doing all the right things to ask for what you want, only to be told, “No”.
No, you may not have that glass full of water on the table.

No, you may not have a third bottle of milk.

No, you may not have Mommy’s necklace, right off of her neck.

No, you may not take your brother’s blanket.

No, you may not jump on the bed.

Harrison’s temper tantrums have escalated to new heights. As I heard the last one take off, I feared that either: A) Aliens had come to abduct him and take him to their mother ship, or B) He had become possessed and it was time to call the neighborhood exorcist. I honestly didn’t know how much more I could take.

And then I found out. It was nap time. It was waaay past nap time. He wanted me to lay down with him, but that wasn’t good enough. He wanted me to remake his bed. But then he unmade it. He wanted me to get him more water. But it wasn’t cold enough. And all the while, he was whining this obnoxious, intolerable whine that I have been listening to for SOO long now. And I snapped.
Right in his face, there in his little Lightning McQueen bed, I screamed in a voice I don’t recognize, “STOP IT. STOP THE WHINING. CUT IT OUT.” I could taste his breath. I could feel his skin. I was that close and I was that loud.

He didn’t stop. The whining continued. I tried to leave, but he kept going on and on. I was afraid he’d wake his sister, so I lay back down and told him he had one more chance before I left the room again.

I watched him then. I was overwhelmed with guilt at yelling at him. I watched him suck water from his sippy cup. I watched his extra long eyelashes slow their blinks. They reminded me of a duck’s beak, opening and closing, slower and slower, eventually satiated from their hunger. I looked at his doughy wrists, and his dimpled hands rubbing his security blanket. Tucked into my body was his knobby little shoulder, a little too scrawny after a week’s worth of sickness.

“I’m sorry for yelling at you, baby,” I whispered to him.

“That’s ok Mommy. But when did you yell at me? You didn’t yell at me.”

Had he forgotten? It had been but minutes before that I was at my wit’s end, screaming at him to stop screaming. Or did he just not remember? Or, did he just…not care?

As I watched his ice blue irises slip behind his inky eyelashes into a deep sleep, I saw it. I saw the attachment. I saw the love. I saw the infinite connection that my baby and I had to one another. I may get angry. He may cause me to lose my mind. But my boy taught me a lesson in his dismissive nature when I just couldn’t handle his irrationality any more. He barely recognized my falter. I was still there. I was still snuggling. I hadn’t left his side. And, apparently, that’s all he needed. For now.

I.Need.Coffee.

photo

I remember my sister in law, Casey, telling me about her mornings with her young son. They would have coffee and snuggles, she said. They would sit on the couch, and watch TV, and, well, just sit there. It sounded glorious. When I became a stay at home mom, I looked forward to these mornings, all of them lined neatly in a row on my calendar. No silly work days to interfere with those quiet, relaxing moments with my babies. No rushing around the house to get ready for day care. It would be just us and our pajamas.

I’d like to sue Casey for false advertising, but I don’t think I’d win in a court of law. My moments are the antithesis of what she described. This morning, for example:

Justin is “quietly” getting ready for work. I am dozing in and out, as I hear Harrison’s little voice coming from his room. I am in no hurry to get out of bed, as I was up with him several times in the night. Despite his sickness in the dark hours, he is now babbling happily, and full of energy.

Coming from Ella’s room, I hear bouncing springs, which means she is jumping on her bed. Justin floats in and picks her up out of her bed. Then he sets her down beside me, allowing her to cry that Mommy is not up and at ‘em. So, I swing my legs out of bed and my feet have not hit the floor when Harrison waltzes in asking for pancakes.

At this point, I am just dreaming of my coffee that has not yet been made. I pick up Ella and notice that she’s soaking wet. How did Justin not notice this? Then I realize that I’m sure he did but that sucker snuck out the door before I could notice. So, before I brush my teeth, and still very far away from my coffee, I change the little one, pajamas and all, and head to the bathroom.

But no, she is screaming at the top of her lungs for milk. Once I finally have that taken care of, and have gotten to brush my teeth, I head back into the kitchen for my coffee. My sweet, sweet coffee.

“Pancakes, mama! I want pancakes, please!”

So at this point I have managed to get the coffee pot turned on. Great progress.

While I prepare for pancakes, I notice that my dear and loving  husband has left some dishes in the sink, and it’s before 6 am. How did he even manage that? There’s remains of last night’s dinner in the drain. The dishwasher didn’t run for some reason. I’m stepping on crumbs. Whose job is it to keep this place clean, anyway? Oh, crap. It’s me.

As soon as I get the pan on the stove, Harrison has his first nervous break down of the day. This is not abnormal, but it is a little earlier than usual. Today’s crisis is that his blanket keeps slipping off of his chair. A total meltdown occurs over a slippery blanket, get this, slipping off of the chair. I fix the blanket, and put the kid on the blanket so it doesn’t slip anymore. I even convinced him that he couldn’t move a muscle or the whole operation would go under. And he believed me. I had a kid sitting still but I still didn’t have coffee.

The pancakes are now cooking on the pan, so I turn to make my coffee. I’ve forgotten to turn on the vent, so the smoke alarm starts going off. This happens every single time I do anything cooking related in the kitchen, so Ella grabs her blanket and starts waving it in the direction of the smoke alarm. Both kids know that we wave a towel in front of the alarm to quiet it once it goes off and they are fully trained. Once the noise quiets down, Ella and I look at each other with satisfaction, because, together, we have diverted a crisis.

It is now time to put my K-Cup in the Keurig, and all I have left to do is push the button. It’s at this time that I smell something stinky. I rush over to find out who the culprit is. As I said, Harrison has been sick, so this could be a major problem. After checking diapers and underpants, I realize that it was a false alarm. I can now push the button on my coffee maker, and the familiar, eye opening smell of coffee starts filling the room.

“Mom, I have to go stink.”

Off we rush to the bathroom so he can do his business. At this point, Ella decides it would be a fantastic time to empty out my make up drawer, so I am simultaneously throwing mascara and blush back in place while holding Harrison on the toilet. Even though I haven’t lost any makeup on this trip to the bathroom, Harrison is in a tither because he has pee on his leg. I’m in a tither because there is pee on the floor. Ella is in a tither because she doesn’t have any makeup to play with. We managed to leave the bathroom alive.

Finally, the pancakes are made. Coffee is in the cup. Kids are eating. Now, if I  can only take a sip…but guess who wants to snuggle??