Category Archives: boys

Ode to my sons

IM from my son Friday:

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Never mind the heart pounding I experienced considering the damage his ignorance could inflict on my beloved washer,

Never mind that (as I was later to discover) he had loaded the machine with his socks, only his socks and not one other item sharing the hamper with his socks,

Never mind that he went from brazen challenger to quitter in one sentence,

Never mind that, at 12 years of age, Sarcastic Willy Wonka is his chosen avatar…

Never mind.

None of that matters because,

My son knows we have a washing machine and he knows what it is for!

Mommy win.

And it got me thinking. I don’t take time often enough to thank my boys for all the joy they bring me.

So, without further ado (too late)

Here it is:

 

Ode to my sons, a thank you

 

A computer breaks, an engine won’t start,

You come to me and it warms my heart.

Your wreckage arrives,  as there’s “nothing mom can’t do!”

And so I do, and do, and do and do and do.

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I love you but if everyone could stop breaking things, that’d be great.

 

I like to be outside, this you know,

So without complaint we go, go, go!

But when life ties us down and we’re unable to roam,

You bring the lovely outdoors right into our home!

Seriously. There’s dirt everywhere. I’m freaking Cinderella, cleaning, cleaning…

 

I strive to be fit, to keep up with you,

Your energy, speed, our active milieu!

And you, my sweet darlings, help me on my way,

By making me run stairs a dozen times a day!

The next time I have to walk up and down stairs just to tell a kid  his food is cooked someone is losing an eye…

 

I love you, my cherubs, more than is possible to tell,

But there is one thing I love almost as well.

So thank you, for you and your fantastic freak show,

And flooding me with reasons to drink more Merlot!

Cabernet, Pinot Noir, sometimes even a nice Riesling…I’m not picky…

 

I love you boys. Never change.

Except, shower – do that. And wear clean underwear… maybe get a job one day…. 

 

Hunting, what really happened

My boys went hunting last weekend and, because I wanted to aid in the successful stuffing of our freezer for the winter (without having to actually do anything), I decided to help them pack.

My job was food. As I wish to see them happy, I asked what they wanted.

They said:

“Shredded beef, roast beef, turkey, ham…”

“Hamburgers, hot dogs…”

“Steak…”

“That’s it? You aren’t forgetting anything”

“Oh right. And cheese. Thanks Mom”

“What are you going to eat for breakfast?”

“Can we have Poptarts?”

I have not been so happy to not be on a camping trip in a while. Think about it. The lot of them in an 11 x 12 foot camper on a diet of protein and sugar.

good times
good times

Anyway, I packed what they asked for and, because I love them, included condiments, a loaf of bread, and a selection from the popular food groups “chips” and “dips”.

I’m just caring like that.

(I also tossed in some food from the lesser known – more nutrient dense and life sustaining – groups, but that was only so I could unpack those same foods, untouched, a few days later.)

(I’m just ridiculous like that.)

Then, I sent them on their merry way and for the next 72 hours wallowed in the misery of my empty home pining for their return…

Kidding.

I sent them on their merry way and for the next 72 hours I did whatever the hell I felt like.

(I won’t go into wild details but suffice it to say Wine and Pinterest were involved.)

(It was awesome)

And then it was over. Waaaaaay too soon. My beloved family returned a day early.

Rained out, they said and wet they were.

But…funny thing…

I cooked vegetarian that night and, for the first time ever, guess what was missing.

Complaints and leftovers.

Win.

For those wondering, the weekend wasn’t a total bust. They came back with a grouse.

And ate it. Wrapped in bacon.

 

Chaos Theory

arrows

My fourth child would have been a time traveler.

If I’d had him.

No, I’m pretty certain this is a valid assumption. You see, my other three children are polar opposites. That’s right, three opposites. Three points of a triangle. Pick an example any example, apply it to my children and this is what you get:

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I am mother to:

An omnivore

An herbivore

And a carb-ivor (He only eats carbs. It’s a thing)

Also:

A son who could not lie to save his life

A son who weighs his options at every venture

And a son who does wrong simply because it’s there

Oh and don’t forget my:

Son who loves flying machines

Son who love wheeled machines

and their brother, the guy who gets motion sick on a slide.

arrow

The logical fourth dynamic of this paradigm is time.

Ergo, my unborn fourth child, the temporal pilgrim.

It’s algebra.

Sometimes I’m sorry we never had baby Z.

(What else do you name a child with extra dimensional powers? Bob?)

I’m sorry because I believe Zee might have been quite a handy guy to have around.

I’d probably never lose my phone. Or if I did, I’d never know it because Zee would just bounce back in time and tell me where I set it down. I’d also not have to worry about a shopping list with Zee at my side. He’d bounce into the future and let me know what we were going to be out of, what would break next week, when to expect a growth spurt…

Maybe, just maybe Zee might even make his way back to the day we decided to start our family and say…

“Hey Mom look! Wine!”

Ah Zee, my son.

He’s my favorite.    

 

 

Fun with art

 

When you’ve had a long day holding up the fountain and looking stoic for tourists…this buds for you.

Share?
Now there’s an idea.   

 

I spent a good deal of last year trying (and failing) to get my son into humorous statue posing. 

Because it amuses me.

Because I’m 8. 

He appreciates the concept and is, for the most part, willing but we get stonewalled by creative differences.

He’s conservative, and I’m ridiculous. That’s the gist anyway.

Take yesterday, for example. We crossed paths with a raging metal bull statue that screamed for comedic intervention,

and we left him wanting.

Me: stand by his rump and act like he just farted.

Son: I should ride him. 

Me: No really, scrunch up your face like you’ve never smelt anything so bad.

Son: Or I could just ride him. 

Me: Trust me, this will be good, make like you’ll be sick.

Son: Yeah, I’m gonna just ride him.

Me: when did you get old?

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He won. He usually does. But tell me my idea wasn’t gold. Look at that stance! That bull looks in pain. 

Oh well. Sometimes he throws me a bone. He did approve this shot.

Why is stone nose picking so amusing?
Why is stone nose picking so amusing?

 

So I’m not throwing the towel in yet. 

 

 

Space Time and Teenagers

sloth

Last night I had my least favorite recurring dream, the missed flight dream.

Are you familiar with this nightmare? You’re supposed to take a trip but you’re running hopelessly late. In mine I’m miles from the airport, have not packed, have not even dressed and my airplane is leaving in 30 minutes. Every single time.

I hate every moment and still, it keeps coming back to me.

Yesterday, I finally realized why.

I have this dream because I have sloths.

SONS! I mean, I have sons.

I have three wonderful sons whose range of speed goes something like this:

Slow

Slower

Impossibly Slower than That

and

Not Moving at All.

 

My everyday existence is a miss-flight-mare, no matter what is on our agenda.

Me: “The movie starts in a half an hour.”

Son speed: turtle.

Me: “If we leave now, we can go to the game store before it closes.”

Son speed: turtle with a broken leg.

Me: “There is a man outside giving away tickets to Disneyland for anyone who can get to him in 5 minutes.”

Son speed: turtle with a broken leg riding on the back of a dead snail.

Yes these are teenagers, yes they have boundless energy, yes it makes no sense, and yes I am not exaggerating.

Yesterday I told my son (still in bed and pajamas even though I’d spent the last 2 hours telling him to get ready) that we were leaving in 10 minutes. When I checked on him five minutes later the only advancement he had made was to take his shirt off.

When I asked him if he was ready know what he said?

“Almost”

Almost?

“In what universe?” I cried. “By what stretch of the imagination are you “almost” ready to go? A blind fish on tranquilizers could get out of this house faster than you!”

Kidding. I didn’t say any of that.

Telling a teen to hurry is like honking at someone because you want their parking spot.

You think it will speed things, the opposite happens.

Anyway he was moving, we hadn’t hit full stop yet. And besides it is far more important that he understands no matter what, I love wine…

HIM! I mean, No matter what I love him…

Stop laughing Wine. That was totally believable! Hey I had that dream again, are you free later?

 

 

 

Toddler-escence

 

When my kids were little HALT (the “are you Hungry Angry Lonely Tired?” behavior tool) was all the rage in progressive parenting. An effective method for identifying when an unmet core need is triggering undesirable conduct, HALT (funny enough) was originally designed to keep addicts from relapsing. (Which probably isn’t funny at all and should definitely tell you something about what it is like living with toddlers)

Anyway, it was so effective for the tremulous 2s and 3s that lately I’ve begun to wonder if it might be useful for life’s other arduous growing period; adolescence.

Specifically, (because this is my circus at the moment) with adolescent boys.   

After a few months of careful research, here’s what I’ve discovered:

Tired.

Well, tired really isn’t an issue any more because they sleep. They sleep, and sleep and sleep and sleep…They sleep so much I check for signs of life, A LOT. In adolescence it seems the only time tired leads to unsavory behavior is when something disrupts the teens sleep autonomy. Things like school, family functions, emergencies, Christmas (true story there), events that happen on a schedule that your average day sleeper isn’t likely to conform to. And honestly, outside of emergencies perhaps, these things are avoidable.

Stand-napping master 2016.

Lonely.

Yep lonely is still a thing and now that we (parents) are often the enemy tackling this problem is tricky (especially if your teen can’t be bothered to wake up and attend functions involving other similarly minded individuals) But all is not lost for there is the internet.

God save us if that fails.

Hungry and Angry (Together here because hungry and angry have fused).

Yes the once independent disturbances now simultaneously fuel each other in a state commonly referred to as “hangry”.

Remember the adage about the way to a man’s heart? Well it’s true. It’s through his stomach. Coincidentally this is also the way to his reason, sanity and composure. Forget about scorned women, hell hath no fury like a man unfed. And there is no time when that is more clear than in adolescence.

Don’t believe me? Find a teen boy, pick a fight with him then a second before it blows into world war 3, hand him a pizza.

*poof* crisis averted. 

With a house full of mini men in ever expanding bodies, Mowgli and I now fight a daily battle against the hangry. Everything has changed. Even the way we greet them.

Before adolescence:

Hello! How are you?

Now:

Hi! Here’s a sandwich!

He-llo, we learned the hard way, left them without the promise of food one syllable too long. It won’t surprise me if next month we cull further to:

Sandwich!

What?  Doesn’t seem a reasonable salutation to you? Then I ask you to imaging a land where in lieu of polite verbosity passersby simply yell Wine! and thrust a glass in your hand.  

I would quite like that I think. 

 

Well its back to the trenches for me, but before I go, here’s something I spotted in a questionable (possibly nonexistent) dictionary recently:

 Armageddon (n) the state of affairs when the internet fails before lunch is consumed.    

Hope all is well.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting it out there

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Though marriage and kids were never a certainty for me, one thing was: if I did go that route I would be as open as possible with my children. My family would talk about everything. Our house would be a temple of discussion and my children would not for one second think that any subject was taboo.

Then, reality. I married a quiet man who gave me three quiet boys. Faster than you can say bob-is-your-uncle (not that anyone in my house was ever saying that or anything else for that matter) my dream evaporated. Instead of a house of congress, ours was a monastery (sans the singing) and instead of stimulating banter, our days were filled with hours and hours of mom-ologue.

Well, I pacified myself, it worked for Hamlet.

(I forgot, of course, that Hamlet’s audience paid to hear him babble on.)

“Mom, stop talking” wasn’t any of my son’s first words but it was definitely in the top ten. Once it hit the airwaves it became a popular tune too, losing favor only when my offspring figured out they had Olympic sized tuning-out skills.  

Still, I was undaunted believing it my parental duty to pave the path between us with sensitive subject matter. Over and over and over again.

If only I’d remembered about puberty.

Welcome back to hormone hour on adolescent radio! Up next, “Mom you’re so embarrassing.” by The Tween’s, “Talk to the hand” by Attitude City and everybody’s favorite “Watch me slam the door” by Bob Rocker and the Parents Are Lame singers!

OK, OK, I was a teenager once. I know how important privacy is. I was hip to their desire that I shut-my-pie-hole and I would give them space. But there was still stuff they needed to learn and it was still my job to make sure they learnt it.

So I downloaded one of “those” books (you know the kind I’m talking about) and, in a modern day equivalent to wrapping it in a brown paper bag, I discretely delivered it to their online devices.

Later, in darkness, I waited.

“Hey.” I whispered, starting at my shoes, the sky, the inside of my eyelid, anywhere but at my son because the only way to talk to a teen is with ambiguity.

Conversation? What conversation? I’m just standing here…breathing loudly… To the casual onlooker this wasn’t a mother and son talk this was a drug deal – far safer territory.

I spat out what I’d done adding quickly, “If you read it I promise to never bring up this subject again.” Then I held my breath.

 “Alright.” He replied.

Was that sarcasm? Did I see an eye roll? Was it possible we were good? Since I’d just sworn to never bring it up with him again, would I ever know?

“Mom stop.” He said, turning to leave. “I said I’d read it, let it go. And quit talking to yourself. It’s embarrassing.”

Only time will tell, but I’m calling it a win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pick your battles

Oh the possibilities!
Oh the possibilities!

I don’t do clutter. No offense to those who do, but it is not my way.

I am an anti hoarder, a master purger. I keep no item beyond its usefulness and quite a few not even that long. Tidy makes me happy.

And this is something I should have considered before deciding to share my life with four other humans.

Guess what? My men do not love my organized minimalism, can you believe it?

Not at all. In fact they have been waging a covert war on it for over a decade.  

A war I fear, they are winning.

 

In 2001 LEGOs entered our life.

Four years later we had a house of master builders and…

Nearly every LEGO ever manufactured.

 

In 2009 we got a used ATV.

Four years later we’d filled the boys with mechanical know how and…

The garage with wheels, spare parts and half a million “useful looking items”.

 

In 2010 our kids took an interest in birds.

Four years later we live with three ornithologists and…

Enough feathered friend paraphernalia to start a museum.

 

But all that was good, I thought. These were necessary evils on the road to a greater good – the growth of mind and imagination – and would one day no longer be needed.

 

Then (with alarming frequency) conversations like this began popping up:

 

Son: Mom, what are you doing with that (empty box, tin can, milk bottle, piece of string)?

Me: I’m throwing it out.

Son: Can I have it instead?

Me: What for?

Son: I’m starting a “creativity box”. It’s a place I’ll store stuff that later I can build with and…

 

I caved. Every time I caved and now I can’t cross a room without sweeping piles of trash (treasure!) out of my way.

Good intentions are born to bite you in the ass, didn’t you know?

It would be one thing if this new fascination was edging out one of the others, but it’s not.

It’s just more stuff.

They’re winning. I know. I’d raise the white flag and give in but I can’t find it in all the chaos.

No doubt that too is part of their plan…guess I should have seen that coming.

 

 

The perfect storm

A public sibling row.

The equipment:

2 brothers. Dangerously close in age and interest.

Very good friends but hello, BIOLOGY. If they were any other species one would have eaten the other well before adolescence. The fact that they get along “most of the time” is testament to man’s benevolent nature.

1 parent.

The other parent away for a duration slightly longer than the family without him is able to hold it together. (You could hear the clock ticking)

A board game.

That one brother is just a little bit better a winning, all the time.

The setting:

Indoors.

A not so large room waiting (impatiently) for an event (that isn’t starting) to start.

Thanksgiving day.

A lesser known American holiday that no one around you is celebrating. You’ve convinced yourself you are OK with that but behind everyone’s sunny exterior a little homesick and lonely hides waiting to blow.

Now, enhance for maximum impact:

Incorporate passion.

Make the game the brothers will soon fight over involve a thing they are equally crazy about (for us that would be Birds)

Add an audience.

Surround the boys by 15 or so people who do not know them all that well and who are probably pretty unfamiliar with the brother’s code:

“If there’s no blood, we’re doing it wrong”.  

 And finally, seconds before the bomb goes off, remove the one parent:

I went for tea.

It was a selfish moment of extreme self-selfishness that I’ll never forgive myself for, but I did it. Just then I was literally the only person in the country able to tell when a fight was on the horizon and how to keep it from landing and I left.

BOOM

Incredibly there was no physical damage.

FYI in brother land that’s a win.

Reflection

The boys were over it faster than they were in it because that’s part of the code.

“The death I wished upon you 3 seconds ago is…Squirrel!”

Me, I’m an elephant. A female elephant. I’ll never recover or forget.

Sometime in the future, after a couple glasses of wine, I’ll phone my daughter-in-law at 2am and whisper “Whatever you do, don’t go for tea. Trust me. It isn’t worth it.”

 

 

You are making it very hard for me to be the parent I thought I would be.

 

When my kids were little I had one rule: no day would pass without some fun.

And I was pretty good at it. I’m not saying the entertainment was always appropriate but it did the job. The mood was light and everyday had some part worth remembering.

I had that Mom of the century thing nailed. Yep. Nothing could stop me. Not even the dreaded

Teen years…

HERE'S JOHNNY!
HERE’S JOHNNY!

Well guess what…?

They’re here. 

Four months and two weeks ago I became the parent of a teen.

And I have to take back everything I ever said about mom of the century.

However, while not entirely pleasant, the last four and a half months haven’t been a total waste. In fact they have been quite educational. There were so many things I did not know about myself! Now, thanks to the raw hormones of a certain thirteen year old, my eyes have been opened.  

I never knew it but,

I am not fun. For 12 years and 364 day my good time ace-in-the-hole was to put on Madonna’s “Don’t cry for me Argentina” and, together with my son, sing and dance. Those days are OVER. No, more than over, they have been erased from the annals of history. They never happened. I’m not allowed to even say “Evita” inside the walls of our home anymore. I probably will catch hell for typing it just now.

Not only that,

I can’t cook (but I better keep trying). My life is a vicious cycle of, “what’s for dinner”, “I hate that” and “What do you mean it’s all gone??”

I can’t win, but that’s no surprise considering,  

I am totally unreasonable. Would you believe I had the gall to ask my thirteen year old to eat food, not out of the carton, but in a secondary vessel designed specifically for food consumption? I know, ridiculous! Welcome to Stalag Mom.

And another thing…

I would never make it as a lawyer. Possession is 9/10 of the law don’t I know that? It doesn’t matter if I paid for the computer. He uses it, ergo it belongs to him. Get out and close the door.

Speaking of closed doors…

I am the commanding officer of Camp Sleep Deprivation. Seriously, the only thing I ever do is wake people up. It’s my favorite thing. Dear Guantanamo, you want me on your team. Just ask my kid.

Ah, parenthood, and my journey is barely getting started because…

A few years ago Mowgli and I had a bit too much to drink and thought, you know what would be awesome? More kids. Yeah, we should have more kids…