Every Day is Mother’s Day

face paint

My son peed on my head yesterday. He was on the swings, and I gave him an underdog. Just as I came out from under him, I watched an arc of water go cascading over the playground, splashing across me. Poor kid got so excited he just couldn’t hold it in.

This was several hours after the shoes fiasco. If you want to lose control of your life completely, tell a toddler to go put his shoes on. You may never leave the house again.

Picture this: I’m standing in the bathroom, watching him walk into his room for his shoes. He walks out with a birthday present for the neighbor. “Go get your shoes,” I remind him. He walks the other way to get the shoes. Hustles past with a butterfly  net. “Shoes!” Walks past with something in the net (not a shoe.) “SHOES!!”

Five minutes later, I’m standing in my room holding a butterfly net full of train blocks, unsure of how I got there. My son has brought one sandal into the room and is spinning in circles trying to find the other one, which I am repeatedly telling him is in the living room.

If you’re reading this, call your mother. Thank her. You survived to adulthood somehow, despite all those times you peed on her head, smeared food on her clothes, barfed down her cleavage, and spent forty minutes “putting on your shoes.” And that means your mother is a saint. ♥

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Too Crazy in the Bookstore

I took Jonathan to Pioneer Book the other day, mostly to work on the summer bingo sheet they gave me. I mean, to let him look at the books and say hi to Dad, of course. That’s what I meant.

He helped Dad scan books for a while, but soon Ethan told me I had to take him. He was getting too crazy. So I took John with me to the children’s section. No sooner had we gotten there, than he smacked the globe in the corner, knocking it off the track and down into the wooden framework.

I fixed the globe, then hauled him out of the store to go to bed early. “You’re in trouble,” I said. “You broke the globe, so now you have to go to bed early.” I dragged him out the back exit and toward the car.

On the way to the car I listened to him muttering, “I have to go to bed early. I have to go to bed early because I was so crazy I broke the world in half.” Yup. Close enough, kid. ♦

Being a Sunbeam is Hard.

We’ve spent the past year complaining a little sad that John would have to spend another year in nursery. His birthday is January 1, which means that since Sunday School is organized by calendar year, he’s always going to be the oldest in his class. And he has to wait all the way until his birthday before he gets to move on. I mean, nursery’s great and all—but he’s been one of the oldest kids in there, and all his friends (some of whom are just a few weeks older than he is) get to move on to Primary.

Well, not anymore! For all our complaining, our neighbor finally checked the handbook. A Primary kid gets to leave nursery and join the Sunbeams class when he’s 3. And they determine the age on January 1. As in, if he is 3 on January 1, he gets to go to Sunbeams. He made it by 1 day.

We’re so excited! John gets to go to Primary with his friends. (And John now gets confused and thinks he’s 4, since I kept telling him he got to go to Primary when he was 4. Explaining that Mom can be wrong is harder than I thought it would be.)

So we went to Primary with John yesterday. First he was sad that he wasn’t going to nursery. He loves nursery. Then he was rattled that he had new teachers. He loves his nursery teachers. And then he had to sit. still. in a row. with about 8 other kids. All of whom were also new to this experience. At one point I looked down the row to see one of the kids lying tummy-down on the floor, hands to his sides, with a glazed look on his poor, tired, chubby face. Sitting still is really boring when you’re used to snacks and toys.

Then, since John had a birthday recently, they did a spotlight and talked about him. His favorite color is (apparently) yellow, and he likes strawberry yogurt. And (since they asked me to tell them exactly how he answered the questions,) he knows he’s a child of God because his bike is big, and when he wants to help someone, he shouts, “Help! I’m lost!”

John, of course, was uneasy and cried through most of this. They gave him a birthday pencil, though, which helped. It’s nice to be appreciated. About halfway through Sharing Time, the teacher asked John to pick an object out of a bag. It was an object lesson, of course, but John found a lemon in there and wanted to eat it. Then he started asking for various foods, and we realized that since church starts at 11 this year, we were trying all these new experiences smack-dab in the middle of a lunch that John wasn’t eating. The poor kid acted like he was going to starve to death.

In class, his teachers asked him what things he was grateful for. “What do you like, John?”

(Sniff.) “I like…” (more sniffles.) “I like… a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…” (that shuddering, half-crying sniffle) “…and some veggie straws?” his voice went up toward the end, because he had started crying again at the thought of food he wasn’t eating.

So yeah. We have some progress to make here. We ended up spending most of Primary out in the hall, eating veggie straws we kaifed from the snack closet. And then we came home and he ate an entire bratwurst. I promise we feed the kid.

He’ll get better at it. And I don’t really have any obligations during Primary hour, so if he needs back-up, I can come in. And we discovered today at the doctor’s office that his Primary birthday pencil changes colors when you rub it—which was cool enough to get us happily through a doctor’s appointment—so if we really emphasize how great that pencil is, maybe the word “Primary” can still be a positive thing for the rest of the week. ♥

Still Ripping Library Books

I took the library books back on Saturday, primarily because the Provo library was having their annual “get these things out of our used bookstore” sale. And by “sale,” I actually mean free books.

I should have known better, first of all. By the time I got there in the evening, the books had been picked over so well that the only ones left were romance titles like “Santa Slept Over!” So I abandoned the book sale and decided to just return the children’s books we had checked out.

Then I remembered that John had ripped another book. He’s been experimenting with ripping his own books, and occasionally the library books as well. I’m at the point where I’ve been thinking of just leaving the library alone. I don’t want my kid to be responsible for damaging the entire children’s section.

I apologized, embarrassed, and showed the librarian the two shredded pages. “What would you like me to do?” I asked.

“Just leave it here,” she said, “and we’ll send it to Damages. They’ll figure out whether they can fix it, and if they can’t, they’ll charge you for the book.” Surprisingly, she was still smiling. I was expecting a stern lecture or a disapproving glare. Something to make me feel bad for letting me little boy treat their books with such disrespect, at any rate.

“I’m so sorry,” I said again.

“It’s worth it!” She said cheerfully. “Your son is becoming literate!” That’s the first time I’d ever thought of it that way. I mean, I’m willing to be a little more lenient when it’s a book we own. Especially if it was cheap, from the used book store. But I’ve always assumed the librarians were in charge of keeping unruly kids in order. This lady wasn’t babysitting; she was providing teaching materials. And of course that means something’s going to get broken.

So I’m trying to be a little easier on my toddler. He still needs to learn to take care of his books, but he also needs to learn to read, and that means there are going to be casualties.

Fixing Books

Today, my son finally ripped a library book. I’ve been expecting this for the past year or so (as long as I’ve been getting him library books), but he’s been surprisingly respectful so far. Today, however, he got bored waiting for me to read G is for Gzonk (which I was hoping not to have to read at all), and he experimentally ripped a few inches of the page.

So I gave him a time out (which he loves), then considered making him return all the library books without checking any out (which would be torture for me, because I would have to read the same old books we have), and at my husband’s suggestion, settled on making him “pay” for the damages.

And by that, I mean I made him do some extra chores and paid him small change for them. Then we took a little plastic container (filled with his glorious 40 cents) to the librarian.

“Will you tell the librarian what happened?” I asked.

The librarian patiently waited while I prodded a “I ripped a book” out of him.

She started to tell him it was no big deal, but I gave her a look and whispered, “I know, but I’m trying to teach him a lesson.”

She nodded knowingly, then wiped the smile off her face and said thoughtfully to my son, “Well, thank you for telling me. We’ll fix it with some tape.”

“Give her the money,” I said.

She started to protest again, and I whispered, “It’s just 40 cents. Just take it.”

She nodded again and took the money, thanking John for his responsibility. John actually looked really concerned about the book, and I gave him a hug and thanked him for fixing the problem. And then we went about our normal library activities of checking out about a bazillion books. ♦

This Is Why It’s Called “Fall.”

We went to a fall carnival last night, thinking it would be a great experience for all of us—especially our two-year-old. It was cold and a little rainy, but we came equipped with jackets, and fall is still going to be new and novel for a few weeks until we get used to summer being over. We were excited.

On the way in, we saw the train ride, which looked perfect for Jonathan’s age. It was one of those “trains” made up of a go-kart or tiny tractor or what-have you, followed by a bunch of hollowed-out oil barrels on wheels. The most promising part was seeing that the driver was actually excited about it. Most of the time when you see a train ride at one of these things, they’ve got some old, boring guy driving the thing in slow, loopy ovals. This chick was driving fast, snaky zig-zags. Perfect beginner’s carnival ride.

We bought some tickets and I ushered John away from the ring toss game, thinking we should make sure to start on a fun note. We waited in line, and the attendant asked if I was going to get on the ride with him. I said no, because it was the first answer that came to my mind, and I figured it was a pretty easy ride. He’d be fine. So the lady gladly lifted John into the train just behind an older boy, and they took off.

Halfway down the parking lot (I mean “train track,”) I turned to Ethan and said, “I really hope he doesn’t try to get out.” Up till then, I had only assumed he might scream. It didn’t really occur to me he might stand up or something. The train was nearing the end of the line, and we realized that was exactly what he was doing. Ethan took off running, but the train was too far away. John was standing and very carefully trying to climb out.

To his credit, he was handling it all very calmly. He wasn’t screaming or crying. He had just decided it was too scary, and he wanted to get off. Unfortunately, he decided this while the train was going full-speed, and turning around. So his brilliant idea to step out was disrupted. (Of course, the train was as tall as he was, so it’s not like it was going to go beautifully anyway.) He fell out of the train, landed face-first on the asphalt, and then got run over by the car behind him.

Spoiler alert: he’s fine. My child is alive.

But he wasn’t very happy about it. His head had a bunch of bloody scrapes and one really nasty-looking bruise full of broken blood vessels. As we cleaned him up in the nurse’s office, he slowly stopped screaming and moved more toward just crying and sniffling. The woman cleaning him up was very good with him, and offered him far more band-aids than he could possibly need. (This is when we found the tread-marks on his leg; that’s how we knew he got run over.)

So the kid is fine. He’s got a great story about “that one time when he jumped out of the carnival train and got run over,” but he’s fine. His poor cousin just broke his elbow (same day, I believe) falling on the playground, so now the family is debating whether the injury or the story is the more important bragging point.

I’m starting to forgive myself for letting him ride the train alone. And we’re emphasizing the importance of asking for help instead of jumping out of moving vehicles. And who knows? Maybe this will give him some context next time we emphasize checking for cars before crossing the street, now that he has some idea what it’s like to be run over. Right? This could be good, right?

Poor kid. ♦

Unfortunately, I Still Don’t Have the Picture, So You Don’t Get to See It.

The other day, I went to see my grandma. It’s been a while, for some reason; she lives close enough for this to be inexcusable, but I guess I just haven’t gotten around to stopping by. Anyways, this past weekend, I finally got me and my 2yo son up to Bountiful, and hung out with my mom and grandma for a while.

As I was looking around Grandma’s apartment, I started looking over the family pictures hanging up. There were some old pictures of my aunts I’d never seen (looking young and smoking hot, of course.) There were some more recent pictures of some relatives I haven’t seen in a while. I moved to the other side of the bulletin board.

This side had more pictures of people I didn’t recognize; neighbors, friends, and maybe relatives I hadn’t met. I found a really cute picture of an eight-month-old baby named Jonathan, presumably from the other side of the family. I noticed it because the kid was super cute, and also because he shared my son’s name.

Then I looked a little closer, because this kid really looked like mine. I was trying to figure out if he was more closely related than I’d thought. Then I recognized the shirt the baby was wearing. This was my kid. I did not take this picture. This was a posed, studio print. You don’t accidentally snap a shot of your kid at the Target picture studio, leaning out of a wooden crate.

I turned around, looking puzzled, and realized why my mom had gone silent. She was waiting, tensed up, with the “I’m in trouble” face.

“This is John!” I said.

“Yeah…”

“When did you do this?!” Mom fessed up. Apparently, she went and had the portraits taken while she watched Jonathan for a weekend so Ethan and I could spend some time together on our anniversary. She didn’t ask permission, because she didn’t want me to say no.

“Okay—but John’s two! Why didn’t you tell me since then?”

“I didn’t want you to get mad at me.”

We laughed about it. And I forgave her. And then I was embarrassed. And I’m still a little embarrassed about it. I’m embarrassed because I’ve been so uptight that my mom already knew I was going to say no, just because I didn’t personally want any pictures taken. I’ve also been so uptight that she was afraid to tell me after the pictures were taken. And then she was a little worried about giving them to me for a Christmas present.

To be fair, I still don’t like posed pictures. And they were cute, because my son is cute. But I still probably wouldn’t hang them proudly on my fridge—first, because they’re outdated now. Second, because my son doesn’t stand still for that long anymore, and I want a more true-to-life picture. I prefer candid shots. But lately, I’ve been realizing that I’ve been wound pretty tight, and I’ve gotten controlling. And I don’t want to be like that.

This is not a confession, nor is it a blank check for my mom to go spend thousands of dollars on my kid. But it was a pretty good reality check for me, and I need to chill out. I need to let my parents be grandparents. I need to let my neighbors be neighbors. I need to let my husband be my husband—and let him be Dad, too.

So here’s my resolution to calm down and let people show love the way they want to. ♥