Dragon Love

Yesterday afternoon my husband and I were trying to have a fairly serious and relevant-to-our-life conversation.  During the attempted ten minutes of meaningful dialog, one or both children interrupted each of us approximately every fifteen seconds.

Frustrated, my husband asked, Why is it impossible for your mother and I to have a conversation without being interrupted every freakin’ minute?

Our oldest son thought for a moment before responding, Because we’re always around? 

Tell him what he wins, friends.

It was one of those more or less typical Saturdays except that it opened with a 9:30 am birthday party at a jumping castle place outside of the city. I brought both boys and appreciated their ability to jump, slide and climb gigantic inflatables for an hour before juice and cake were consumed well before noon. My husband “took the morning off” from all of us while we were out of the house.

Later, my kids stomped around in the backyard for an hour or so while I warned them not to step in poop. It’s been a drizzly week or so and we haven’t tracked our dog’s comings and goings very closely.

Then I took them to the movies (wow, this is a really scintillating post).

This time it wasn’t The Lego Movie. There was no popcorn, a fact that would surface afterward as a negative. We attended a free filming of Khumba, a South African family film in which a deeply insecure half-striped zebra sets out to find a magical water hole in order to find his missing stripes. The movie was part of the 24th Cascade Festival of African Films and took place at the community college down the road. This very sweet Lion King-ish tale was well attended and received. While our oldest son totally got it, our youngest sort of understood the story but really, mostly liked it when I slid him a lollipop an hour into the film. He wasn’t heavy enough to make the folding movie seat sit down so he sat in my lap for the entire duration of the film.

Then we went home.

Yesterday our youngest said something that I swore to myself I’d remember — it had to do with love and turtles — but I can’t remember now. It was very sweet, though, trust me.

This is important because I tried to remember that he had been very sweet every time he crossed me after the movie… his “NO” echoing loudly when I asked him do something… anything… and then I decided to take an hour or so “off” from the family. Fortunately his father was home at the time.

Our conversations with the boys have been varied and entertaining, a saving grace for when I’ve had it up to HERE with one or both of them lately. Our oldest was very excited when an image of Nelson Mandela came across the screen prior the movie. Mr. Mandela came up in conversation later, rather unexpectedly.

Me: You know, Miles, your eyes are very pretty. You have very long eyelashes.

M: Do people ever cut their eyelashes?

Me: No, I don’t believe so. 

M:  No one? 

Me: No, it’s nice to have long eyelashes, actually.

M: Not even Nelson Mandela? Nelson Mandela didn’t cut his eyelashes?

And later:

(riding bikes today) Me: M, you know before you were born your dad and I used to go for a bike ride and we called it a “love ride”. 

M: Really? Can you and I have a love ride? 

Me: Sure.

M: Right now? Like this can be a love ride? 

Me: Ok. 

M: Ok, watch out for this tricky part. I’m super fast. I have a lot of breath in my body, too.

We proceeded to love ride around the park several times. He’s getting so big, and I’m glad for it. I don’t miss the baby days. If I’d been blogging back then I can’t imagine the posts would have been coherent. I do have a special place in my heart for parents of babes, though, babes in arms that humble and adore you 24 hours a day. I remember the way in which my husband could hold our babies, football-style, their big bright eyes calmly looking around the room while resting in his arms. I know well the aches of nursing or sleeping in a particularly uncomfortable position because that’s what made the child eat or sleep, and it was worth it. I no longer research the “best stroller” or “best carseat” or “best baby carrier”… we have moved onto soccer cleats and bicycles and backpacks. I read once about the so-called “latency” period of parenting… ages six through eleven… past unsleeping baby/terrible toddler land and yet not into teenage drama. I get that… we’re in it, at least with one… it’s rather wonderful and funny and definitely keeps me on my toes.

Later, the big guy spent a good hour drawing dragons in a plain old notebook he’d found somewhere.

M: Mom!

Silence.

M: Mom!

Me: Yes? 

M: Come here! Do you want to see Whispering Death? 

Me: What?

M: Whispering Death!

I had no idea what he was talking about, but it seemed like I had no other option but to go see. Turns out that Whispering Death is a dragon. Here he is.

whisperingdeath

I also examined this guy:

nightfury

Discussing, spelling and drawing dragons was a pretty neat way to spend a few minutes,  in a focused way that perhaps only a six-year-going-on-seven-year-old can do. As we wrap up our more or less normal weekend, I look forward to the week ahead, and perhaps another love ride or two.

Snow Day

Real live snowflakes landed in our backyard gingerly at first, feathery, light. We all watched as they began to swirl, creating a blanket of white before our eyes. Over the weekend the boys and I built a very small snowman, a sad thing really. They learned to roll snowballs and had no trouble pelting each other (below the waist, I pleaded) again and again as the sun fell over the past two nights.  

Youngest child: I’m Hiccup! Battling the Night Fury! No! I’m Toothless! Where is my Daddy? I’m Good! This is the Dark Side! I’m Kai! You’re a Ninja! No, I’m a Ninja! I need a helicopter! and a race car!

Back inside, the older one closed his eyes, sitting criss-cross applesauce, and meditated for approximately 20 seconds.

Youngest child: You are the gun guy! 

Me: She is not a gun guy. This is an Olympic event called the biathlon. Children observed the television. 

Oldest child: How can I get one of those shooters? I need one, Mom. Is that like archery? Awesome.

We discussed the athletes from Sweden and Russia and Italy and the United States. Flags and snow and language and speed. We braved the cold to take public transit to the movies yesterday. Go see The Lego Movie! It was a perfect foil to a morning spent out in the weather. This morning the ice crunched, brittle beneath our boots. Our little snow man stood humbly, rather melancholy and refusing to melt. 

We sang “Everything is Awesome” until the boys started fighting and we made them take turns jumping on a mini trampoline. I taught my oldest to do a plank and made him agree to write Valentine’s for the girls in his first grade classroom — VERY grudgingly, he did so. They are shark Valentines. We’ve worn pajamas and snow gear and little else since Friday morning. The youngest was super happy to wear the tiniest boxer shorts ever made all day. Cold feet don’t bother me, he explained as I asked him to wear socks in our drafty house for the fourth time. 

The snow began to transform into freezing slush on the third day. Icicles are drip-drip-dripping from the eaves. Determined neighbors trudged along the sidewalk carrying grocery bags and six-packs of local brew. One woman cross-country skied down our sidewalk pulling a not-that-small child in a bright red sled. She did not look like she was having fun. We drank hot cocoa and ate too many homemade cookies that I pretended were healthy because of Oatmeal. The oldest begged for more I-pad time, but we managed to keep it to a minimum without too much fuss. He practiced tying his shoes, a skill has turned out to be incredibly challenging for him to master. 

It has been a good weekend. I wasn’t supposed to be in town, but the weather won and I stayed home. Now I just hope that school is open tomorrow!

Image

Did we kill our furnace?

I wish I could blame it on the Polar Vortex, but we’re not a part of the latest big weather phenom. I’m upstairs waiting for the repair guy to call up and confirm that we’ve killed our furnace.

Brrr.

I’m home with one kid on sick day # 3 watching Toy Story 2 for the second time. I’ve made grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch and monitored its intake while noting doses of Tylenol and Ibuprofen given according to the tiny lettering on the bottles. He prefers cherry to orange. Teaspoons of straight up honey for the cough are well received. Interestingly, the sick kid’s big brother called home from the principal’s office claiming that he had a stomach ache mid-morning. He didn’t have a fever, though, so he was sent back to class and I haven’t received another call.

My fingers are crossed for both capital-H Health and capital-H Heat.

Our boys are healthy kids. The eldest in particular rarely goes down for the count, and he hasn’t missed a single day of school this year. I honestly can’t remember the last time he felt ill. The youngest, hit hard this time, is actually easier to handle sick than well. He’s noticeably subdued physically and emotionally. Last night, he fell asleep at 6:00 pm on the sofa. After brief wake up calls for water at 6 am, he’s slept until 9 am for the past two days, and I wonder if this is what it’s like to have a teenager (the sleeping in, I mean).

During the morning he gave pretend shots to Angry Birds on the floor because they were sick, too. When his fever finally dropped to 99 a few hours ago, he sang a quiet song.

99, 99, 99….I am 99…

Then it spiked again, and he grudgingly took some more Tylenol before settling down with Buzz and Woody.

The repair guy had been here for over two hours when I peeked in the furnace room. I’m way out of my element here. I don’t understand the language of forced air and breakers and venting and duct work and atomizing burners.  More than lack of understanding, I don’t even like it. I resent not understanding HVAC terminology, and it’s even more humbling given my husband’s cold sober expertise in energy efficiency.

I nodded solemnly as the guys explained to me what’s wrong with our furnace. He used words like Sludge, Old, and Dirty. I felt guilty. Why did we buy this old house anyway? The guy shook his head as he bent beneath the industrial light and stopped talking.

The whole situation made me mad. He was clearly frustrated with my limited filter inspection and cleaning skills, but hello? This is his job. We are paying him to do this. A lot. I don’t know how much of our check he takes home, but it’s not like I wanted our furnace to overwork itself into nonfunction. Some of us are too busy unintentionally doing that to ourselves.

A few years ago I facilitated a small group talk on overwork, overuse and burnout. We were speaking metaphorically, and within an office environment. But I understand now that overwork and burnout are possible in every area of our lives if we’re not careful.

Careful = full of care. I frequently tell my boys to be careful as they spring and sprint in circles around the playground. They call out yes, Mom! and then proceed to throw themselves down a hill. I instruct my husband to be careful as he leaves to go run errands in the car or on his bike. He always says, I will, and I feel better.

Today I am less worried about crashing and collision than I was several years ago. I know that jumping and running sometimes causes falling and tumbling. I’ve seen my boys bruise and bleed, mend and heal, and tended them with Band-Aids and kisses. But I do try to prevent their burning out on me, melting down in tears in that final hour before bed. If they do so, I understand they’ve done too much, absorbed too much, and need a long quiet break before they do it all over again the next day.

God knows I tend to my kids better than I’ve tended to (very important) things like a furnace. I felt just the teeniest bit irresponsible as I ensured the repair guy that we will schedule annual maintenance from now on (we just missed one year, for heaven’s sake), and he didn’t charge me for overtime. But the visit ended on a positive note when our dog scrambled downstairs to meet him on the way out. Turns out that the repair guy has two large dogs – a Lab-Rottweiler mix and a German Shepard – that collectively weigh over 200 lbs. Our Lab made friends, turned the repair guy’s mood right around, and we all parted amicably.

Sigh. This repair visit went WAY better than the one that resulted in a two thousand dollar toilet. But that’s another story.

Now to tend to my little one, who’s fighting that fever again.

20131123_105822

A book and a spade

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero was a Roman philosopher and writer who lived about one hundred years before the birth of Christ. I came across his words quite by accident and found they were exactly what I needed today. My boys spent time digging in the empty garden beds this afternoon, turning the soil, unknowingly preparing the beds under a bright sun and beneath a gentle breeze. We are several weeks away from putting anything into the earth, but the faux-spring day gave way to dreams of fragile pea shoots, tiny tomato plants and snips of fragile green stretching toward the sun. 

Our past several garden projects have provided the complement to most summer meals rather than grounded them. Perhaps this year we’ll change that by designing the meals to highlight the fruits and vegetables of our labor. While I’m not a naturally adept gardener, the climate here is magic in its capacity to bring seeds to life with minimal effort. Also, I like this: 

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. 

~ May Sarton

Ms. Sarton was speaking of gardening through grief. 

When Cicero was 61 years old, his daughter died shortly after giving birth to his grandson. He wrote, 

I have lost the one thing that bound me to life.

Later, he claimed to have read everything that Greek philosophers had written about overcoming grief, and decided that his sorrow defeats all consolation.

This man, who lived so long ago, knew what one continues to learn through the journey of grief today – that one doesn’t typically overcome grief; instead our heart is modified so that unwelcome loss is tucked inside its strong and hollow fist of muscle. 

As for a library, our house seems rather bare since we tucked hundreds of books into boxes a few months ago in preparation for our non-move. I’ve recreated two shelves of children’s books in the boys’ room, ordering them by age and interest.. superheroes, Dr. Seuss, fairy tales, sea creatures, and ninja tales. 

This week we’ve been reading Max’s Dragon by Kate Banks and Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen. Both are finds from our local library. Our youngest likes reading about a “different Max” and is tickled by the images of the naked child floating dreamlike through a magical kitchen in which great cakes are mixed and baked. We are big fans of Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, and In the Night Kitchen has quickly become a favorite with its strange words and make believe images. I learned recently that this particular book was ranked 25th on the American Library Association’s 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000.

This makes me like it even more. 

I am never without a book. I read the good stuff and the not so good. It may not be scholarly literature, and it may occasionally qualify as trash, but even trash has a story. I also believe that writing has healing powers. I write here, and on scraps of paper I find at the bottom of my purse. Sometimes I text myself ideas before I fall asleep. Words, mainly, or a simple phrase. I do this to help me remember. Sometime it works but more often I am puzzled by the piece of a mysterious puzzle. I dream, but I struggle to remember my own version of the Night Kitchen… me, wandering nonsensically through time and space, not quite understanding where or why.

So… a library and a garden. I am in continual awe of the variety and richness of Portland gardens. Created in backyards, strips of earth along the side of homes, and in between the house and the road, they are tangles of green and gold, gifting us with their vivid hues of orange and red. Ripe tomatoes hang ruby-like and full, best tasted warm, unwashed, dirt brushed off by expectant fingers.

Right now our beds sit empty, void of life and yet in my children’s focused turning of the soil today there is something of a future there… we will have our garden.

I have my library.

Sometimes there is so much life in my life.

 Image

For a long time I’ve avoided using words like Grace and Mercy and Blessed.

They are Big Words. In my experience, Big Words can be misused, intimidating, and plain out scary.

Big Words also bring to mind God and Prayer and Things Above or Around That Are Vague and Confusing and (sometimes) Fake or Threatening.

But stuff happens. Like when I went to pick my big boy up from an after-school jumble of backpacks and cold hallways and moms whom I’ve met and greeted before, and one said hi, and this made me feel good, and the rest either completely ignored or didn’t see me – hard to tell – and I left the building feeling a bit defeated.

We are seventeen days into the New Year. A dear friend celebrates Chinese New Year, which begins on the 31st of January, and I look forward to quietly raising a glass with her from a distance. My understanding of the holiday is limited, but I’ve learned that in many Chinese homes they clean in order to “sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck.”

I think this is a brilliant idea and so… I will clean. On the 30th. In thirteen more days. Of course I’ll clean before then, but a good old house-kitchen-bathroom cleaning on the 30th will make everything better.

On the subject of stuff happening however, one thing that is happening is that I completely by accident discovered a community of women (and a few guys) about a mile down the road that comes together once-twice-three-times-or-daily to jump, run, stumble, stretch, lift, move and otherwise work their behinds off in a common space and …and…and… well, I can’t speak for anyone else but for the first time in a very long time I’m finding myself somewhat changed in the process.

I’ve been a runner – albeit a slow one – since I was fourteen years old. But I haven’t been brought – literally – to my knees to do planks, push-ups, and more – since high school. Joining a group of like-minded and searching-of-better-maybe-best men and women has been illuminating.

I can’t go to the gym every day because if I left the boys at home alone I’d probably get in trouble. But this group – these classes – has provided me with the momentum to seek and discover something within me that I thought was long gone.

So.

My Big Words today are Work. Promise. Deliver.

Someday I’ll cry Mercy – but I’m definitely not there yet.

Someday I’d like to understand Grace – but as defined as an elegance of movement and/or something bestowed as a blessing from God- I’m not holding my breath.

Someday I may – in my more open moments – engage in feeling Blessed. Becoming holy, spiritually redeemed… this isn’t a priority for me, and I realize this may strike a chord among my believing readers… but truly… what? If I am there, I am there. If I am not, I am not. I’d rather strive for a life well-lived here and today and tomorrow than one known and unknown tomorrow….

Enjoy the day, readers. And thank you for reading.

inspire

Grace, Mercy and Burpees

Peter Pan doesn’t wear underwear

Before we left for our walk this afternoon,  I asked our youngest son to put on some pants. We recently acquired a new dresser for the purpose of containing his clothes, and it’s been quite refreshing not to have them tossed all over the bedroom, stuffed into his brother’s drawers or hidden on the floor of the closet. He quickly learned exactly where pants, shorts, t-shirts, undies, and long-sleeved shirts belong. Since he frequently changes clothes (we’re talking three or more times per day), it’s come in quite handy that he knows where his clothes should be placed when not on his body.

When he marched out of his room in long pants, I said something like, Great job, Max, hmmm. No undies?

With the smug look of a fat worm rolling across the sidewalk in a downpour, he replied, Mom. Peter Pan doesn’t wear underwear. 

Ah.

Okay. Well, I don’t care if he wears undies or not, so we got on with securing shoes and coat before heading out into the day. The sun was shining and the streets were filled with holiday ghosts… a sparkly tiara caught  in a corner drain, a damp spiral of ribbon, empty Scotch tape rolls neglected by garbage collection.

Don’t touch! I scolded even before his little hands reached out to gather and investigate.

After my parents left this morning, I asked my boys how they were feeling about their departure. Unsurprisingly, the sensitive big brother teared up and declared he would write them a letter and would one day become big enough to spend “a hundred weeks” at their home in Virginia. The youngest, however, shook his head and said, no, he didn’t miss them, because he would see them soon “at their house!”, and moved on to immediate distractions.

(Because my parents are probably reading, let me be clear that you may invite our children to spend a hundred weeks at your place any time).

A few days ago, we took the boys to a live performance of Peter Pan at the Northwest Children’s Theatre. They loved it. The acting was wonderful and we had third row, picture perfect seats. Captain Hook was especially convincing, the tick-tocking crocodile was hilarious and sixteen-year-old Wendy’s voice brought tears to my eyes. The play was a highlight of our winter break, which, by the way, ends on Monday morning. Seventeen days of lie-ins and lack-of-routine have nearly passed, and we will soon greet earlier morns and regular afternoons spent at the playground or swim lessons or reading books before the fleeting hours spent in dinner-bath-go-to-bed! It has been mostly a lovely time off, and I look forward to a more or less normal week of school and work.  As the New Year has commenced, so have we in our family routine and togetherness and squabbles and love. I am grateful for the time our boys spent with their grandparents, and despite their endless fighting over a singular and spectacular Lego Ninjago guy, I appreciate they spent the past two weeks together.

When I became pregnant with our oldest, I knew immediately I desired a second. The potential and influence of a sibling relationship, its battles and competition and unconditional protective love, is something like nothing else. I knew no brothers growing up and now find myself raising two of them. Not always knowing what to do, I try – often unsuccessfully – to rely on their dad and teachers and friends to help me figure out how best to raise them.

Tonight, our youngest came out of the bedroom moments after tucking them in for a few minutes of quiet play before rest. They each have a headlamp that illuminates a book or two, a toy (or ten), and keeps them content in those moments before sleep takes them under.

Miles says my head lamp is a GIRL’s headlamp!

Really? Well, you know what? (after 8’clock, my temper is short). I’M a GIRL. So Girls are Awesome. Ok?

He just looked at me. Back to bed, we marched.

Did you say that your brother’s headlamp is a GIRL’s headlamp?

No! I said it was a BRIGHT headlamp.

(Yeah right).

Well, I’m not sure if that’s what he understood, but let’s say it together to be clear. Girls are Awesome. So Girls’ Headlamps must also be awesome, even though there’s really no such thing as a Girl or a Boy Headlamp.

Ok?

Head low, our oldest murmured something like okay and goodnight.

Because all I wanted to do was go and read my latest YA novel on my Kindle, I left it at that, and let them go to sleep.

But really. The Girl vs Boy thing is interesting. I’ve written before on this forum that I believe we are all born across a gender spectrum of masculinity and femininity and that eventually, sometimes painfully, we figure out how to be (or not be) comfortable and confident in owning whatever place into which we fall during our journeys across the map.

Gender is all around us. It is taught to us constantly, from the time in which we are born and dressed and announced to the world.

This morning our youngest pointed out a little boy wearing a princess dress at a birthday party and questioned his choice loudly. I felt uncomfortable. I explained that it was okay to wear all sorts of different costumes – including princess – no matter if you are a boy or a girl – and he said no more about it. But it clearly made me recognize that as the younger brother of a lively, sometimes loud, and definitely boy child, he is learning what is “normal” for a boy and what is not. He craves acknowledgement from his older brother, whether that means running as fast as he does (he can’t), building as intricate a Lego structure as he does (he cannot) or dressing himself in tough guy outfits: cowboy, police officer, fireman, pirate.

Our oldest, on the other hand, went to daycare and preschool with boys and girls who wore princess dresses and pirate costumes interchangeably, and to this day does not question choices of gender that may not conform to the mainstream. Although I can take no credit for his observations, I confess I’ve been very proud of his neutral outlook on his friends’ gender inspired choices because I believe that pushing gender identity on young children isn’t a good idea. Rather, from what I’ve observed in my kids and my kids’ friends and classmates, gender fluidity is pretty normal as kids explore different roles and spaces in their daily lives.

I’m dying to go into statistics here to discuss the percentage of female fire fighters, police officers, and others in traditional male professions, but I won’t. It doesn’t escape me that we still more commonly refer to firefighters as firemen or animal herders as cowboys.

I’ll just end by saying…. geez. I hope I’m raising these boys right.

And girls are awesome.

cheese

Do sharks cry?

I haven’t been writing as often as I had intended to this month, and I blame all the good stuff there is out there to read. Books, essays, blog posts, newspapers. There are so many compelling words that other people write that fill me up and bring me to tears. The tears always surprise me, because after my sister died I cried daily for about five years straight and then completely stopped. The tears dried up and I could suddenly think, speak, act, breathe, and work normally in the presence of her absence.

I still felt wretched much of the time, but figured I was permanently all cried out.

Today I think the “feeling” part of my brain just needed a major rest.

I’ve also come to the understanding that grief is supposed to hurt. It’s not a gentle pat on your shoulder or a hug or a promise that things will get better one day. The pain means that grief is doing its thing, and the magic of the grieving journey is that one day you’re not crying every single night and then you actually laugh. You laugh at something someone said, or something on the radio, or even at yourself. And then you startle, because you haven’t laughed in so long that it feels uncomfortable and itchy and wrong. But then something happens, like when my mom mentioned making a donation to my sister’s scholarship fund before the end of the calendar year in order to write it off for taxes, and I thought, that is so… so…. practical.

I could just hear my sister making some smart remark about her being gone and we’re worrying about taxes? Liz was so darn practical when it came to money that I pictured her smiling at my mom while checking her bank account.

Then I remembered her hopping off a city bus in Manhattan because she spied a discount department store where she ended up buying her bridesmaid dress for my wedding for $14.99.

Anytime someone complimented her on the dress, she was all smiles as she announced that it cost fifteen dollars!

And I laughed.

Last weekend we took the boys to see Frozen, and since that day we’ve watched Elsa sing “Let It Go” a half dozen times on YouTube. If you haven’t yet seen it, the story is that this gorgeous (of course) princess is born with the power to transform everything she touches into ice. It’s a creative version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, a fairy tale published in 1845. And every single time we’ve watched Elsa sing I’ve had to bite my lip and take a deep breath in order not to cry. I’m not sure if it’s the music or the message that makes me feel, but either way it brings me to tears. 

Then it’s over and I’m fine and my youngest is fussing for one more time.  I have no inclination to sink back into the land of tears (this is a post that I wrote one year ago. It’s fascinating that what I was feeling last year is so close to what I’m feeling this year, and yet different – more on that later). It’s much more entertaining to take notes on my kids then to focus on what’s going on within me, not when what’s going on within me this week mostly equals extreme soreness due to fun boot camp and lower back distress and physical therapy and desire for real pain drugs that remain sadly unprescribed

Booooooring. 

During last night’s dinner gratitudes our eldest said he was thankful “for today, the whole day, yesterday, and tomorrow.” 

Just as I was absorbing his sweet message, he managed to turn gratitudes into a detailed explanation of the Gila Monster. I had asked him to take a bigger bite of the nutritious soup I had prepared instead of just eating bread. He took a small sip, then informed me that the Gila Monster swallows eggs and small prey whole without teeth. Additionally, the Gila monster dislikes the heat, though he lives in the dessert. Who knew?

It’s amazing to me how much a six-year-old can absorb from a video, book or a lesson. He retains scientific trivia like it’s a competitive sport. His demeanor during dinner resembled a very small professor of entomology. Or maybe it’s herpetology. Perhaps one day… both.

On the other hand, he can exasperate his younger brother to no end simply by ignoring his tricks. Instead of falling apart in a full-on tantrum, however, our youngest instead called out these words after dinner:

Annie always says we include our friends! And he’s not including me! Annie says we gotta include everybody!!!!!

His teacher, Annie, taught him that we must, or should, include all of our friends in our play. Big brother (B.B.) was content playing alone, and younger brother (Y.B.) desperately wanted to engage him. What to do?

In this situation I generally let Y.B. know that B.B. is playing alone right now and needs some space. But Y.B. had used his words so beautifully that I took his side, and insisted that they attempt to play nicely together.

Nothing went really wrong with this scenario, and yet nothing was overwhelmingly right, either. I am trying to step back as referee in order to let them resolve their own problems. It’s not easy to stay in the background.

Later, I posed a question to B.B.

Do sharks cry?

He shook his head. A definite no.

Why not?

Because they are the most powerful creatures in the sea and cannot be hurt.

What about if a mama shark lost her baby shark?

Well, baby sharks and grown up sharks have special rememberies. They just know how to get back. 

I have special rememberies, too, I think.

What about other animals? Do they cry?

No.

What about dogs?

Um, well, they make like (whimper, whimper) sounds when they are sad. 

Then we were interrupted by L.B. when a bunch of Legos came crashing out of a box, and chaos resumed in our pretty Christmas lit home. And I laughed.

Image