Dear Nicky’s Mom

Nov 22 2010

Dear Nicky’s Mom,

Thank you for sewing the tear in Aden’s stuffed leopard.

The tear I’d promised to fix.

Approximately 4 weeks ago.  Or maybe 5.  Or maybe 6.

Imagine my surprise when Aden rushed to me after school with a huge grin on her face and told me that her leopard was fixed.

“Oh,” I said neutrally.  “Did someone fix it for you?”

“Yes!” she responded. “Yay! Yay! Yay!”

“Who fixed it for you?” I asked.

“Nicky’s mom!” she said enthusiastically.

“Who’s Nicky’s mom?” I asked.

“Nicky’s in my class,” she responded.

“Did you ask Nicky’s mom to fix your leopard?”

“Yes!”

“I thought I was going to fix it.”

“Whoops.” Aden said.

So, from a mom who doesn’t meet work deadlines to fix torn leopards to a mom who spends her free time making little girls’ dreams come true… you have my appreciation and gratitude.  And a teeny, tiny bit of horrified embarrassment.

Sincerely,

Aden’s Mom

A Birthday, A Monster, and A Murder

Nov 21 2010

Today was my son Ian’s 11-year-old birthday party.

I made a terrible faux pas.

Ian’s birthday is close to Thanksgiving.  Like anyone with a child whose birthday is close to a holiday, I try to make his birthday special by not allowing the holiday to bleed all over his special day.  Ian’s birthday isn’t about turkey or pumpkin pie, cornucopias or fall leaf decorations.  This year, Ian’s birthday is about turning 11 and being a boy.  Being cool.  Blaring rock music and playing football with his friends.

That’s why I was so excited when I found a green monster cake at the grocery store.  Technically, I suppose it breaks my Separation of Holiday and Birthday Rule.  I mean, I have to admit that grabbing a premade cake is a holiday inspired shortcut to allow me more time during Thanksgiving prep.

And, granted, it’s not a three-tiered, homemade, fondant-covered masterpiece like my sister-in-law Kim made for my eldest daughter Abby on her 11th birthday.

But Ian’s a boy.

He was a zombie for Halloween this year.

Last year, he was the victim of a spider that was sucking the life out of him.

Which clearly made him feel joyful.

And the year before that, he was a vampire.

In short, polkadotted fondant’s going to be rather under-appreciated by him.

Which is why I didn’t spend a lot of time feeling bad about taking a Thanksgiving week shortcut with a store bought cake.

Especially a store bought monster cake.  Because monsters are cool and scary and awesome and perfect for 11-year-old boys who want to be zombies and spider victims and vampires.  Right?  Can I hear an “amen?”  Amen!

Imagine my horror when I arrived at home with my special find, transferred it to my cake plate (hey – it’s store-bought, but I can pretend I made it) and looked closely at it for the first time.

And discovered…

… that it was Oscar.

Of Grouch fame.

The green monster from Sesame Street.

The show for preschoolers.

Yes.  I bought my 11-year-old son a preschool cake for his birthday party.

Oh, the horror.  The way my heart fell.  The way I knew I’d failed my son.  But only for a split second.  Because we moms are resilient problem-solvers.

I did what any semi-creative mom would do in the same situation.

I slaughtered Oscar the Grouch.

I committed a grisly, premeditated Sesame Street murder.

Some drizzly red icing and a well-placed knife and I was back in business.

The boys?  They thought it was AWESOME.

Phew!

Delay Tactics

Nov 5 2010

Cai and Cael, age 4, are honing their “don’t let Mom leave” skills.  It’s a virtual rite of passage in childhood, employed most typically at bedtime.

Previous attempts have included the usual childhood gambits.  The desperate thirst for water.  The unbearable urge to pee.  The terror of the dark.

All of these worked for a while.  Mostly because I’m kind of a sucker as a parent.  I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering if my children really are terribly thirsty, parched like a veritable desert, wasting away from dehydration as their callous mother reclines negligently on her chaise sipping wine and eating cheese.

Inevitably, I get the kid water.

However, like the best circus dogs, I can be trained.  Eventually, I remember to get those wily kids a drink of water before they go to bed.  I know… clever, right?

So, kids being kids, they adjust.  They learn new skills and new techniques.  Privately, they draw up their strategic plans complete with objectives, action items and success indicators.

Their latest plan?

Conversational Sidetracking

It goes something like this:

Kiss.

Hug.

Sing the Nite Nite Song.

Me: “Nite nite, boys.  Mommy loves you, loves you.”

Now, of course I know there’s going to be a conversational breakout attempt here.  So I say this as I’m walking to the door to leave, trying to give myself a leg up on getting to the hall-side of their closed door.

It’s really more like: “Nite nite,” …walking to the door… “boys.” …standing in the doorway… “Mommy loves you,”…. scooching my rear out into the hall… “loves you.”… and, if I did it just right, I barely get my toes and lips out of the way of a closing door.

Sadly, the boys have caught on.  So right when I’m to the word “Mommy” they start in.

Cai: “Hey, Mom?  Um, um, um, …”

And this is my favorite part because I love to hear what comes next.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out from their perspective.

Like earlier this week when Cael said: “Hey, Mom?”

And I said: “Yes, Cael?”

And he said: “Your lips smell nice.”

And I laughed.  Funny, yes.  Sweet, definitely… I mean, I know enough to treasure comments about my lips from my little boy because I realize that when he’s 14 he’ll rather die than acknowledge that his mom even has lips.  But an actual success in the Delay Mommy column?  Not so much.

Me: “Thank you, Cael.  Good night.”  The door closes.

Nevertheless, sometimes they are successful.

Like last night.

Cai: “Hey, Mom?  Um, um, um, … your grandma died.  But, but, but, um, not my grandma because she’s regular.”

Target engaged!

You didn’t seriously expect me, the mom who falls repeatedly for “I’m thirsty,” to walk away from my child’s attempts to understand death, did you?

I walked back in the room and sat on the boys’ bed.  (I bet this is a success indicator on their strategic plan.)

Me:  “Yes, Cai Cai, my grandma died.  But not yours.  Do you have questions about that?”

Target locked.

Thus ensued a long conversation about death, particularly about when it happens (“we don’t know the timing, but we hope to live until we’re very, very old”) and to whom (“everyone will die someday, but hopefully not for a long time, so let’s try not to worry about that”).

At the end of our discussion, Cael summed it all up as follows:

  1. We die when we’re very, very old.  (So much for my “we don’t know the timing” explanation, but I do like his version better than mine.)
  2. Mommy’s grandma died because she was very, very old.  (Not really, but whatever.)
  3. Daddy’s grandma is still living because she’s only a little, tiny bit old. (She’ll be 90 next week, so again with the whatever).
  4. Cael’s and Cai’s grandma isn’t at all old.  (Congratulations, Judy!)  So she’s just regular.  (Regular apparently being the opposite of old).

Mission accomplished.

(And I loved every minute of it.  Shhhhh…)