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Story Time at 12

August 7, 2017

About three years ago, the kiddo stopped letting me read to him. “Want me to read you a story?” was met with an eye roll, a sigh, and “No, mom. I’m too old for story time.”

This marked what I thought was the end of one of my favorite parenting rituals. His first several weeks of life, I would read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s stone to him as he sat in his swing, mostly to keep myself sane. Then, we graduated to Dr. Seuss, Hairy MacLarey and Sandra Boynton. Chapter books followed in what seemed like a heartbeat – Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon, Harry Potter (for real, this time) and the Phantom Tollbooth. Stacks and stacks of library books every week would come home, and we would spend time every evening reading.

Now, the boy is 12. He is taller than I am, has a man-voice, and reads whatever he wants. Occasionally, I can talk him into reading at the same time I do, and we sit on the couch, share a bowl of fruit, and take turns yelling at the dog to stop barking. This time is cherished as well, but it isn’t the same.

Two nights ago, I was checking out Facebook’s “On this day” feature and an old blog popped up. I read it, laughing, because the story featured the kid, oh so many years ago.

“What’s funny, mom?”

“Oh just an old blog I was reading.”

“Yours? What’s it about”

(Laughing) “You – almost all of them are”

“Read it to me”

“Here, you can read it”

“No, read it TO me, please”

So I did. And continued to scroll through and regale him with little nuggets of his childhood. Until WAY too late at night, especially considering he had to be up at 7 am the next day. We strolled through the memories – things both of us had long forgotten, and with his newfound tween perspective, he was able to laugh at himself, and at me. He asked why I don’t blog anymore. I told him it was because he’s now older, and he and his friends are on the internet and I don’t want to embarrass him. He said I should do it anyway.

So here I am, starting again, mostly just recording memories so that perhaps, one summer night just before he leaves for college, we can take a trip down memory lane and find the forgotten things again.

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Picture Day

October 15, 2015

Ttirdyeoday is picture day at school. I have never been one to make the kid dress up for picture day, I figure if he wants to, great, if not, that’s OK, I’m gonna love him whether he’s in a suit or t-shirt, right? We’ve never really talked about it, I just ask him if there’s something special he wants to wear for picture day, he says no, and we get on with life. This is year six of picture day being a total non-issue at my house.

On the way to school, we pick up our carpool buddy, who looks *adorable* for picture day in her maxi skirt and pigtails. She looks at him, in his tie-dye t-shirt and shorts and here’s what follows:

Her: It’s PICTURE DAY! You FORGOT!

Him: No I didn’t.

Her: Then why are you wearing THAT? You’re supposed to dress up for picture day! It’s really important!

Him: I like it. And it’s not important, it’s just clothes.

Her: But this is the picture that will be in the yearbook! Everyone will remember you like this!

Him: Right… because this is how I always look. Why do I want people to remember me how I never looked?

Her: (sigh) You’re crazy.

Him: Yeah. I’m also comfortable. And I like what I’m wearing. You?

Her: My legs itch and my mom made me wear this. Plus my hair hurts.

Him: Sorry…

Her: Me too.

 

Steve’s Letter to Santa

December 4, 2014

Dear Santa,

IMG_0159 (2)The kid tells me you’re the guy to talk to about wishes. I don’t know a lot about Christmas because this is my first one. I don’t really get it – I’m not sure why they won’t let me eat those GIANT socks that are hanging up (LOOK at it – big and fuzzy and tasty!), or how a tree grew inside the living room (and what are those shiny things all over it, anyway?), but the kid says you can wish for things at Christmas, so here I am.

First of all, I hear there’s some kind of naughty/nice list. And I don’t know if you have one for dogs, but if you do, I *might* be on the naughty list… but I promise I can explain. See, even though I’m big, I’m really still just a puppy, which means there is so much stuff to learn. And a whole lotta “don’ts”.

“Don’t eat the socks, Steve.”

“Drop the Lego piece, Steve.”

“Your leash is not a chew toy, Steve.”

“Don’t take the cucumbers off the table, Steve.”

“Don’t jump up on people, even when you’re just crazy-happy to see them, Steve.”

See what I mean? How am I supposed to know these things? And they’re hard to remember. I mean, I know I’m not supposed to eat socks, or food off the table, but sometimes, my sniffer gets the better of me. So I’m thinking I should get a pass this year and still get a chance for a wish.

That’s where you come in, Santa. I would like to wish for someone of my own. I’m really not picky. Just someone who will give me food and water, let me live in their house, love me and play with me. Someone who will teach me how to follow all the rules, and use treats to do it. And maybe someone who wouldn’t mind so much if I sat on the couch.

I like having other dogs and/or a big kid to play with, but it’s not required. I really like walks when I remember that’s what the leash is for and not tug-of-war. I might even like to run or hike with someone if they can teach me how. I’m working really hard on this game the kid calls “fetch”, but sometimes it’s just so hard to give the ball back to the person, you know? I worry they won’t throw it again, and then I’ll be without the ball!

I know that lots of people wish for dogs, too, which is why I’m thinking you can help me out. But not everyone is the right person for me. For example,

“Dear Santa, please bring me a small, fluffy dog, that I can put in my purse and carry around.”

or…

 “Dear Santa, I would like a calm, laid back dog to be in his crate all day when I’m at work and then sit on the couch with me and watch TV when I come home.”

won’t work.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOOOOOOVE couch-sitting and TV-watching. But I also need to run around and play. And although I *could* sit in my crate all day, it would make me very unhappy because I would miss my people so much. The purse thing is an absolute no-go, though, unless someone wants to tote 55 lbs or so around.

Here’s what someone wishing for me might write:

“Dear Santa, I wish for a dog. One with a big heart. He should be a decent size, and love to run and play outside. He doesn’t have to be perfectly behaved yet, as long as he tries hard, I will work with him patiently to help him get there. I would like him to be young, but not a tiny puppy – 9 months to a year is perfect. I want a happy dog, one who greets me enthusiastically every time I come home, whether it’s been 4 hours or 5 minutes. My perfect dog will snuggle with me after we play, want to ride in the car with me, make me laugh, and never get tired of being with me.”

Here’s the other thing. If I get my own people for Christmas, the kid and his mom can help another dog get their wish of a foster family. A dog who might be all alone and cold on the street, or one who is scared in the shelter. It’s a good gig here – warm bed, good food, lots of play-time, and I love the kid and his mom, but I think I’m ready to help some other people now. I know there are lots of people who need to be loved, and snuggled, and walked and played with for the next 10-15 years – surely at least one of them has wished for a dog like me. Won’t you please help me find them?

Love,

Steve

Ice, Ice, Baby

January 30, 2014

Yesterday was a snow day.  The kid hopped out of bed at 7 am and spent most of the day doing this:

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He had a friend over, they played outside, we had hot chocolate, a fire in the fireplace, you know, all the “snow day” things.

Today, when he got up, he said, “Mom!  Look at all the cool icicles outside!” I glanced out the kitchen window, murmured, “Wow, neat” and went back to the business of consuming caffeine. An hour later, I looked out the window again, and thought to myself, “How odd, it’s raining! No, maybe that’s just snow melting and the wind is blowing it. No… wait…”

Not rain.

Not melting snow.

The water spigot attached to the hose.  Spraying EVERYWHERE.  And those “cool icicles” I completely ignored?

This:

071 And this:

080

And this:

079

Me: Hey, is there something you want to tell me about the hose outside?

Kid: Um… well… I turned it on yesterday to see if it would clear some snow, but nothing came out so I turned it off.

Me: If nothing came out, how do you know you turned it off?

Kid: I turned it all the way until it stopped.

Me: ON. YOU TURNED IT ALL THE WAY ON. There must have been ice in the hose, the pressure from it being on broke the seal where the hose was attached to the spigot and THE WATER HAS BEEN RUNNING ALL NIGHT LONG.

Kid: Oooooohhhhhh… um… sorry?

So you parents out there, on that list of things you tell your kids NEVER to touch without your permission, you know the one with matches, knives, ovens, guns, poison, medications, etc? Add the garden hose to that list.  Seriously, go do it now.

Rough Drafts

September 25, 2013

Pad of Paper & PenIt’s no secret that the kid hates writing. He is more than happy to tell anyone who will listen that the act of putting pen (or pencil) to paper with the goal of producing WORDS is one of his personal levels of hell.  OK, he doesn’t actually say that, but if he knew what it meant, believe me, he would.

Well, he’s in 3rd grade now.  The big time.  Standardized tests, independent reading and… LOTS of writing. (“LOTS of writing”, in his opinion, is anything more than “no writing”.)

He came home the other day muttering.  I could pick out the words “stupid”, “mean”, “terrible” and “writing”.

(please pause with me as I heave a big sigh, roll my eyes and put on my “good-mom” face.)

“Heeeyyyyy, Buddy!  What’s going on?” was greeted with a whole slew of words, many of them the ones I already mentioned, but boiling down to the fact that he had to write a rough draft for a story.

With my “good-mom” face on, I sat down with him and explained the merits and virtues of rough draft writing.  How it helps you plan out your ideas, see if your writing flows well and gives you an idea of how everything fits together.  Rough drafts are an important tool for exploring your writing and an avenue to test things that may or may not make it into the final product. They are beneficial and help create a more solid finished story.

He totally didn’t buy it.

Perhaps that’s because behind my “good-mom” face, he caught a glimpse of my “total-hypocrite” face.  What I didn’t tell him was this: In college, I failed music history… because I refused to do a rough draft. I turned in my final paper (which, incidentally, got an “A”) but never turned in a rough draft because I didn’t write one. The professor insisted I needed one to complete the assignment, and I argued that if I could turn in an “A” paper without it, I shouldn’t need to go BACK and write one. Obviously, she disagreed, I still refused out of principle, and was rewarded with an “Incomplete”, which later changed to an “F”.

So as he slouched off muttering some more with the addition of, “I don’t know why moms and teachers always have to be on the same side, especially when it’s the WRONG side,” I smiled, briefly considered calling him back to tell my story, then decided to write this blog instead. With no rough draft.

So, what happens then?

September 18, 2013

*Disclaimer: this is one of those blog posts that only really terrible mothers write.  you know, the posts that their kids would be mortified to discover was out there on the internet.  So I’m going to ask you to *not* tattle on me to kid-world.  Don’t tell my kid it’s here, and don’t share it with yours.  In exchange, I will graciously accept my “Worst Mother of the Year” award and allow you a glimpse into 8-year-old-boy-brain.

Pencil with "Y" Circled For Yes

Here’s the current household dilemma:  The kid has “a crush” (his words, not mine) on a girl.  That’s right. My baby likes a girl.  8-years-old.  Third grade. Like LIKE-likes a girl.  How did this happen?

He is trying to decide whether to tell her, and it is clearly causing great angst.  There is waffling, “What if”-ing and general drama.  I’m told there was even some getting in trouble for talking, “Because I was trying to talk to other people to get my mind off it.” There is talk of notes delivered by friends, discussion of people who may or may not give good advice (adults, incidentally are squarely in the “Not Helpful” category) and lists of pros and cons. On the way home from school yesterday (because the car is the best place for these kinds of conversations – no eye contact required), we had the following chat…

The kid: One friend said I should just tell her.

Me: That seems like sound advice

The kid: I was thinking I could write her a note on Friday, and another one of my friends says he thinks she might live in his neighborhood, and if she does, he could put it in her mailbox.

Me: That sounds like an awful lot of trouble for everyone involved.  And then what if it gets lost?  Or goes in the wrong mailbox?  Or she knows someone else with your name?

The kid: (SIGH) I knew adults wouldn’t be any help.  I asked my guy friends for advice.  They didn’t have any.  Maybe I’ll ask my cousins.

Me: That actually sounds like a very sensible idea.

The kid: Why?

Me: Because you have a cousin who is a GIRL and who is also 2 years older than you.

The kid: And?

Me: And… you’re looking for advice on GIRLS.  Who better to tell you about GIRLS than a GIRL?

The kid: (clearly, this line of reasoning had not occurred to him) Huh.  Yeah.  OK…

Me: So, let me ask you a question.  What happens next?

The kid: What do you mean?

Me: You know, you tell her you have a crush on her, and say she says she likes you too.  What happens then?

The kid: (5 full seconds of silence) I don’t know.  I didn’t think that far.

Man, it must be hard to be 8.

 

Here’s one way to spend a Thursday evening

September 5, 2013

hospitalWe just got back from the ER.  Diagnosis for the kid: VERY mild concussion. He’s fine, really, the doctor’s instructions are just to monitor him for symptoms for a couple of days.

How did we get here? It started with this conversation we had on the way home from school.

Kid: My head hurts.

Me: I’m sorry, do you need some medicine?

Kid: No, I think it’s just because I got hit in the head with three balls at recess.

Me: Wait, what?

Kid: Yep. Three times in a row. Hard. It really hurt. And everything went black on the last one, I couldn’t see for, like, 5 seconds.

Me: WHAT?? What did your teachers say?

Kid: Oh, they hugged me, and told the other kids to be more careful.  But I didn’t tell them my head hurt, or about not being able to see.

Me: sigh… Just for future reference, losing vision for any amount of time is ABSOLUTELY something you should tell an adult about.

(Just go ahead and insert your own version of the remainder of the conversation which mostly concerned the EXACT definition of “losing vision” mostly centered around the kid asking questions like, “I can’t see when I blink, should I tell an adult then?” and “What about sleeping?”)

We got home and called the pediatrician.  They called us back, “Take him to the ER.” Down to the children’s ER we go. 2 triage nurses, 3 room nurses, 2 interns, a child life specialist, a records person, an attending physician, an eye ultrasound, a neurological test and 3 hours later, we are released with the above diagnosis and the promise of an ER bill.  Yay.

Oh, and on the way home from the ER?

Kid: Going to the ER is awesome!  I didn’t have to clean the basement or do the dishes or have a bath AND I got to eat dinner out!  I’m going to thank those kids who hit me in the head tomorrow!

Way to look at the bright side, kid.  Glass half full.

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