Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The kids, these days.

What on earth am I going to do when Neva starts talking and I have THREE sources of cute things said? How will I ever document even the half of it?

Let's start with Neva. Last night I pushed that girl around in the stroller, facing me, and I swear she smiled at me the entire time. Her Auntie Heather says she would like to nickname her "Baby Sunny," and I think it's a fitting title. She is light and sweetness and all things pleasant. I like to tell her that holding her restores my soul.

She is still exclusively nursing. She doesn't seem to find food all that compelling yet. She makes a face and spits it out. So, nursing it is. Lately she does her best to look around while nursing, while at the SAME time grabbing her own toes and using the hold to extend her leg straight out. We look like a circus act. She's rocking on all fours and likes rising on hands and feet as well. She's fat and soft and smells amazing. And she LOVES her brothers. They make her laugh most heartily, and she is quite tolerant of their wild behavior. She's had a toy to the face many times as a result of their impulsive affection ("I gave Neva a toy!") and yesterday I heard Barrett say to her, "Neva, Neva, Neva," very soothingly, and then heard her start to cry. I ran out of the closet to see his upper half hugging her, laying on top of her, smooshing her to the floor as he murmured, "Neva, Neva," to comfort her. "Barrett, no!"


Barrett is enchanting. And naughty. I am enraptured by his cuteness. Sometimes he talks to me and I just smile and gaze at him. And sometimes he defies me to my face and I freak out. But we're working on the naughtiness.

Lately, he hears something and he asks, "What's dat sound-noise?"

He also asks, "Why not?" And it never makes sense in context.

"Mom, where William?"
"He's downstairs."
"Why not?"

"Mom, dis apple?"
"Yep, that's an apple, bud."
"Why not?"

He says, "Oh, GWEAT," when something doesn't work out the way he wants it to. He LOVES to cuddle and be held.

The other night, stalling bedtime, he said, "Mom, I never... I never..." he waved his hands expressively. "I never... I never... I never..." I knew what he was trying to do; he was trying to imitate Will, who often says, "Mom, I never colored my Paw Patrol picture! Mom, I never watched Murray and Ovajita!" Barrett continued, "I never... I never..." He must have repeated himself twenty times as I waited there patiently. Finally, he said, "Mom, I never... Will funny."

The other day, having tried unsuccessfully to poop, he popped off the toilet and chirped, "S'not workin'!" He's a master at doing things himself, including jumping off the potty after he's gone. William still sits and hollers for my assistance, but Barrett just runs around commando until I see him and say, "Barrett, are you done going to the bathroom?!"

He likes to find tiny things and identify them as "wormies," whether they're rocks, ears of baby corn, or little dinosaurs. And he calls Bo, "Boey."


He's such a boy, now. Such a big helper and pleasant fellow. The other night, as I was hustling them into bed, he impulsively threw his arms around me and sighed, "Mom, you're the best mom in the world."

As I kissed him good night, he said solemnly, "Mom, I was really good today. But if I feel poop in my butt, I will scream for you on the top of my lungs."

Last night, as I was frying some ham for dinner, he walked into the kitchen and said (for the first time ever, this picky kid), "That smells SO GOOD!" He hates bugs, hates to be dirty. At dinner the other night, he kept irritably banging his fist on the table. "What's the deal, Will?" I finally asked him.

"My room is all messy," he replied with a scowl.

Brian and I each wasted no time in offering a rejoinder. We nearly (verbally) tripped over each other explaining that the state of his room was his responsibility, and no one else's, and he had no place to be angry if it was messy.

[Truthfully, their room is fairly sparse and never really messy. There's a bookcase with board books, a barn with some animals, a bin of "stuffed pets," a small bin of alphabet blocks, and a few large trains and a wooden dump truck. If cluttered, it cleans up quickly.]

Toward the end of the meal, he did it again. Bang went his fist. "My room is messy, Mom." "Fine," I replied shortly. "Go clean it. Right now. Get all the toys and animals off the floor. Pick up everything on the floor and make your bed. Make Barrett's bed, too." (The beds, usually made, had gotten messed up again during naptime.) He looked at me blankly and his shoulders slumped. "I mean it, Will," I said. "If your room is messy, go clean it. And when you're done, I am going to inspect your work."

He climbed down from his chair and walked upstairs, surprisingly amenable. (Usually he likes to have Barrett for company if he has to travel to the second floor all by himself.) We heard him on the monitor, moving things around. After seven minutes or so he began the trek downstairs. "Mom, come inspect my work!"

"Did you make your bed and Barrett's bed?"

"Ope! No, I forgot!" Back he went for several more minutes, and then again, "Mom, I'm done, come inspect my work!"

I ran upstairs to find him standing proudly in a tidy room. He had done a great job, even picking up the Bible story book (that doesn't belong there) and putting it nice and straight on top of one of the clothing bins I had out to sort. I was so pleased to tell him that he had done a fabulous job. "That's called 'initiative,' buddy. Good work. Let's go tell daddy."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Will the Engineer

"Mom," Will said to me from the backseat as we set off on a morning of errands. "Mom, I wish we could go back to the museum and drive the train, and you and me could drive it!"

"You mean ride in the locomotive again?"

"Yeah! You and me and Barrett could drive it!"

"Will, when we sat in the locomotive we were only riding it. But did you know that there really are people who drive trains? Maybe you will be one of them someday!" We proceeded to discuss the smoke of a train. William was under the assumption that the smoke was what made the bell go ding, ding and the whistle go woo hoo. "Nope," I said. "The smoke doesn't do that. Who makes the bell and the whistle sound?" When he didn't know, I said, "It's the engineer! The engineer sounds the whistle and the bell."

"Mom, maybe I'll be an engineer and drive the train!"

Barrett piped in, "I ride it! And Yoo-cas, and Eye-ya, and Yinden, and Yake!"

"Yeah!" I rejoined. "Lucas, Isla, Linden, Imogen, and Lake and Sage can ride too. And all our friends."

"Mom," said Will, "I hope all our friends can ride the train, and I can drive it, and I hope Grandma can be in my coal car with me."

The Tragedy

We were about to take Bo for a walk. The boys had exited into the garage and were waiting for me to get my shoes on. When I came out, Will excitedly cried, "Mom, look at this cute little mouse!" They were standing not six inches from, sure enough, a cute little mouse, sitting on the carpet and looking like it was eating something grasped tightly in its paws.

"Don't touch it," I warned immediately. "Usually mice run away from people, so there's a reason that it's not. It's probably sick, so don't touch it."

"Oh, mom, he's so cute," repeated Will. "He's just sitting there and eating his cheese."

From the second I'd seen it, I'd known with a sinking feeling that we had poisoned this mouse. But unlike the other mice we'd poisoned, who had courteously died deep in the wood pile, this mouse had ventured out to make a spectacle of himself in front of my adoring children. I felt SO bad, mostly for the mouse.

(Later, Brian told me that I should have put him out of his misery. "HOW would I have done THAT?" I'd asked incredulously. "With a shovel," he'd replied. I couldn't imagine how traumatizing that would have been to the kids, who already have to endure seeing adorable little chipmunks shot with a pellet gun on a regular basis because they tunnel under our house and patio. "You could have put them inside and come out and done it," asserted my husband, who has the gift of clear and decisive thinking without the complexity of concern for the emotions of small children regarding furry creatures. Alas, I suppose I did let the poor mouse suffer, and for that, Mr. Mouse, I really am sorry.)

I warned the kids that he was probably dying. Again, I explained that mice usually run away from people, and since this mouse wasn't running away, that meant he was sick and probably dying. I assumed he was dying at that moment, and I advised us all to get moving on our walk and leave him in peace to pass.

When we returned, Barrett checked on him immediately. "He a-yive!" The mouse had moved a couple feet, off the carpet and onto the concrete, and Barrett was overjoyed. The creature's little sides were still quivering with his breath. We watched him for quite a while, but while the boys enjoyed the novelty, I just felt sad with the knowledge that I was slowly killing this creature, and that if my sons knew I was his murderer, what would they think of me?

Will was full of ideas to save the creature. "Mom, let's put him in the grass." "Mom, let's put him in some water to make him better." "Mom, I think he needs some cheese."

Barrett wasn't worried when I warned him it would likely die. "Ok, we'll get ano'er one."

Will, who is lately full of nonsense if/then statements (his logic skills still developing), formulated his thoughts. "Mom, if he dies... Mom, if he doesn't die... Mom, if he needs to eat some cheese, then we will go for our walk and... Mom, if he doesn't die, then he will get better and we will give him some cheese."

Bo sniffed the little guy gently, inhaling the rare scent of a living animal that didn't flee from him. He didn't know what to do with this strange mouse, who sat undaunted by his big, wet nose pressed against his fur. Bo cocked his head from side to side, looking at the mouse out of one eye, then the other. "Come on, guys," I finally pleaded, unable to face the guilt of the mouse's slow demise. "Let's leave him alone and give him some peace." It was time to go water the garden.

William watered my front plants while I did the vegetables and the deck flowers. He's such a big help to me lately, his little psyche learning the pleasure of completing a job to the success of the team. Barrett did all he could to hinder the work, first impeding Will's progress, trying to take the hose away, shutting off the water, and generally being a thorn in Will's side. When I finally called him away to be with me, he contented himself with picking loose pieces of concrete out from between the patio flagstones, dropping them into the rainwater collected in the baby pool until he had quite a collection (which is when I discovered what he was doing and promptly instructed him to stop!).

We finished the job and the boys were rewarded with popsicles. Barrett inhaled his in record time, while Will slowly whittled his away with tiny licks until it was dripping down his fingers and onto the porch, and yet he still preferred not to bite it. Barrett asked for another one; upon hearing the word NO he commenced wailing. He was THIS CLOSE to being disciplined when Will offered him his own popsicle. How could I stifle his generous gesture? Barrett had eeked his way out of that one for sure. His eyes dried instantly, and under my instruction shared a few bites with his brother as a thank-you.

We were outside for a while, Neva having decided to take a really long nap. It was time to go back into the house. We had almost forgotten about the mouse, but there he was, having traveled all the way across the floor to where the Honda was parked! The boys were thrilled by his progress, but he looked no better to me, and I kept reminded them that he was dying (or at least very sick, in which case we did not want to touch him). They boys were very obedient and didn't even attempt it.

It was three hours later, and Brian was on his way home, when Barrett followed me into the garage for the watermelon. I heard him shriek. "The 'quirrel!" he cried, mixing up his animals. The "squirrel" was dead, all right, lying stiffly on its side. "Oh, buddy, he's dead," I murmured, SO relieved and thankful that he has finally passed.

Barrett was crestfallen. "Call peace-man!" he cried.

"Oh, honey, no. A policeman can't help him."

"Get ano'er one."

"I can't, Barrett. All the other mice are hiding from us."

Like he does when he's trying not to cry, he shrugged one shoulder up to his ear.

"I'm sorry, Barrett," I said.

Suddenly Barrett realized that he was now the bearer of some exciting news, and ran to tell Will. "William!" he yelled as he burst into the house. "The 'quirrel! I 'membered dat!" The rest of his his enthusiasm was unintelligible and I translated for him. "William, the mouse died."

"YEAH!" confirmed Barrett. "Da mouse died!"

"Oh no!" Will ran out to the garage, and then ran back in. "Mom, let's put him in some water to make him better."

"That won't help him, honey. We need to go put him in the woods."

"No!" he yelped. "Then he might really, REALLY die!"

"Buddy, he's really, really dead already."

After much discussion, I finally persuaded to boys to let me find "a soft bed of leaves," upon which we could gently "rest" the mouse in case he decided to make a full (though unlikely, Will finally conceded) recovery. I scooped the mouse onto a dustpan. Will stayed back in the garage, his grief not strong enough to risk walking on the driveway gravel in bare feet, but Barrett, more heavily invested in the mouse's wellbeing, followed me to ensure that the bed of leaves was indeed soft enough for his friend. I had hoped to fling the creature as far away as possible, but Barrett stood there supervising, and I had to content myself with reaching out into the brush and gently dumping him out. "Say 'bye, Mr. Mouse,'" I told Barrett.

"Bye," he said.

Back in the house, we reminisced. "Mom," said Will, "when we were in the garage Barrett said to me, 'I like him,' and I didn't know what he was talkin' 'bout, and then when I went over, I saw him! I saw the mouse."

"Oh, so Barrett found him?"

"Yeah and he was eating his cheese. Mom, if we - if we - Mom, if we can find a new mouse, then we can, and if he dies, then - Mom, if he dies, then we can get a new mouse, and if we can't, then we can find another one. Okay?"

How can you say no to that?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sweet Little Will

Two nights ago, Will had a rare pee accident. There's no phrase more dreaded in the middle of the night than a tearful, "I peed" - and nothing guaranteed more to wake you from your haze of slumber. I was already sleeping in the upstairs guest bed because Neva was stuffy and getting up to nurse a couple times a night, and it was easier to get to her that way. After I stripped him, showered him, tucked him into the guest bed to sleep with me, and then stripped his bed and put everything into the wash, I fell into bed next to him and conked out.

Not long after, Neva's sad little wail alerted me that, once again, she was having trouble breathing through her nose and needed some tender loving care. Will was still awake as I sat up and crawled back out of bed. "Mom," he asked, "after you nurse Neva, will you come back to me?"

"Yes, buddy, I'll be right back."

I changed her and nursed her in the rocking chair. She nursed and nursed, unusually wakeful. Every time I thought she was sleeping and attempted to put her on my shoulder to burp, she cried. Eventually, eventually, she rested in her crib. I fell back into the guest bed, flat on my stomach, and felt Will snuggle up next to me. I slept like the dead until my alarm woke me at 5:30.

That morning, I spent time downstairs with Neva, then went back upstairs to get the kids ready for the day when I heard them waking up. Will lay smiling at me from the guest bed. "Mom, I was rubbing your back," he said proudly. "I was rubbing your back and playing with your hair."