Hitting the open road

On a new pink bike, with tassels. And a basket on the front. And a dress, perfectly matched to the tassels. Because one must be lady-like and coordinated, even when riding as fast as the wind.

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Brilliant, or stupid. You decide.

We instituted a new concept into our house today, the concept of the TV token. I had gotten fed up with negotiating over TV/computer with the kids, and decided to put the “power” of when to watch into their hands. So we headed to Target and bought a set of cardboard coasters for a dollar at the dollar bin.

We decorated an old tissue box to deposit the tokens into, and I set a few lot of ground rules. TV tokens can only be redeemed when there is actually time to watch TV. As in, not five minutes before we left the house or ten minutes before bedtime. Each child gets one token per day, plus two extra tokens because I am nice like that. Each token is worth half-an-hour of TV or half-an-hour of computer. No more than four tokens can be redeemed in any given day. If anyone whines about an extra show, or the fact that they had used all their tokens and it was only Wednesday, too bad and they loose the extra tokens for the following week.

I gave each kid their tokens for the rest of the week at 3pm today. The first token was redeemed at 3:01pm, despite my comments that it was a gorgeous day and they already had sunblock on. The second token was redeemed at 3:31pm, and there are grand plans in the works to redeem another two tokens right after that.

We’ll see how this works. Personally, I’m betting on A figuring out how to hoard her tokens first as she has already tried to convince C to combine their tokens together to watch a movie. But I have a feeling the learning curve is going to be a bit steep for the first week or two…

This one is for Kate

This weekend the kids and I took a solo trip up to see my dad and his family.  On the way there we made record time with only one bathroom stop, and that was because I needed to go, not the kids.  There was limited whining and bickering on the trip, and both kids were able to snap themselves in and out of their booster seats with no assistance from me.   We listened to “grownup” music for at least 50% of the ride, and when I insisted on turning the traffic channel on, no one complained and even helpfully told me which bridge to take.  I really and truly felt like I had arrived.

But then last night, we had a family BBQ with my aunt and uncle.  The kids sat at the grownup table and even contributed to the conversation a few times.  They (for the most part) used their manners, and A ate everything served to her and declared it all “Yummm!”.  After dinner, the kids quickly bored of the adult conversation and “mood” candle lighting and took themselves off to the porch where they colored and played almost peacefully until it was close to two hours after their bedtime.  At which point I grudgingly decided that it was time to get up from the table and escort them to their room.

As I tucked them in, I realized that we had hit a new stage.  The stage in which I can actually have hope of taking my children someplace and actually enjoying myself.  Plus, if both kids will eat hamburger and pasta with red or white sauce, we can take them to almost any restaurant (with the exception of sushi) and be able to find them something to eat.

But the best is yet to come.  On the drive home, when I made a wrong turn someplace in Connecticut and ended up taking an extra hour onto my drive, instead of freaking out about how I would possibly manage the kids for that extra hour, my first reaction was “Damn, think of the extra gas this is costing me.”

Going Nutty

Today A had her annual allergy appointment, and it was the BIG DAY when she was scheduled to be skin pricked to see where she stood in regards to a nut/peanut allergy.  A has been hyped up, C has been hyped up, and our whole world for the last week or so has revolved around this day.

Upon our arrival, he allergist very quickly pricked A, and then after a suitable wait declared the test negative, which pleased me to no end as at least I didn’t have to worry about someone with peanut butter hands touching her and her breaking out in hives.  Then, in a surprise move, he instructed me to give her a cracker with peanut butter.  Right then and there.  I think my jaw hit the ground, and A’s eyes opened wide.  She shut her mouth and shook her head.  And even after I managed to shut my jaw and tried to convince her that the doctor said it was OK to have it, she refused.

So we went to plan B, the peanut-laden candy.  Which she had precisely two bites of and handed to me insisting that she was “all full.”  The allergist deemed it a satisfactory amount, and then we sat there, quiet as mice, waiting to see what happened.  And we waited.  And waited some more.  And then the allergist proclaimed her to be non-allergic, and wished us a very happy life filled with peanuts and peanut products.

As we rode home, A announced from the back seat “But I still have the hives.”  To which I responded, “Yes, but it is not because of peanuts.  And that’s a good thing.  Would you like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch?”  A thought for a minute, and then said “Perhaps tomorrow.  I think I am all done with peanuts for today.”

Tonight I tried to eat nuts for the first time in almost four years.  And like A, I was a bit overwhelmed by the experience and had to be talked down from a minor panic attack by a friend who is thankfully also a doctor and totally understood why this was such a huge deal.  Perhaps tomorrow A and I will start by standing in front of the peanut butter aisle and admiring the many different kinds of jars.  Baby steps.

The conversations that break your heart

A: “Mommy, Singing Ellie has the hives.  Lots of hives.”

Chichimama: “I am so sorry to hear that.  Is she doing OK?”

A: “Yeah, I took her to a doctor.  Not Dr. S, the hives doctor.  But not my hives doctor, a hives doctor who could make her hives all go away.”

Chichimama: “Well, I am glad she is feeling better, but hopefully tomorrow your doctor will be able to help us figure out why you get the hives too.”

A: “Maybe.  But Singing Ellie and I both wish we were like Quacky.  Because Quacky doesn’t get the hives.

The luckiest kid in town

In my entire life, I have never ever won a raffle item.  But every year one of the local preschools has a big basket raffle and every year we buy twelve tickets from a friend who attends that particular school.  Every year we spend a good hour standing in front of all the baskets trying to decide where to place our tickets, and every year C puts all his tickets in the “boy” basket bag and every year since she has been old enough, A tosses all her tickets into the “girl” basket bag.

When A was a baby, we won the baby toy basket.  C was too little to know any better, so all was good.  When A was one, we won the Wiggles loot.  Last year, we won the Dora basket and C started to get a bit miffed.  This year, after A put her tickets in the bag for the giant Barbie basket, she turned to me and said “When will they call us to come get the basket?”  I explained that we had been very lucky so far, but the was virtually no chance they were calling us to tell us we had won the Barbie basket this year and that it was some other child’s turn to win.  Regardless, A left the facility confident that the Barbie basket would arrive on our door step just in time for her birthday.

Last night at 10pm, my phone rang.  As we had just sent our new sitter home, I had visions of her calling to announce I had paid her wrong, or that her mom had said that since we stock a year’s worth of organic no-salt beans in our pantry, she could no longer sit for us.  But no, it was my friend, driving home from the auction.

“I have no idea how to tell you this,” she began.  “But in the back of my car is a large Barbie basket with your daughter’s name on it.  What do you want me to do?”  I briefly debated telling her to draw another name and pass the wealth onto someone else.  But really?  Who can turn down a giant Barbie basket on the eve of their daughter’s fourth birthday?  Especially when one has not been so prompt about purchasing the big girl bike promised to her for said birthday.  So when A wakes up, on our doorstep will be a basket full of Barbie paraphernalia.  And if C is smart, he will have A place his tickets in the bag of his basket of choice next year.

Overheard in the Kitchen

New babysitter during the kitchen tour: “You have a lot of beans in your pantry.” (the beans are stored above the goldfish crackers)

M: “Costco is her friend.”

Chichimama: “It isn’t Costco, it is Amazon Grocery.  Because they had the organic no-salt beans.”

M: “Excuse me?”

Chichimama: “Well, I don’t want anyone developing heart disease in the middle of an apocolypse…”

M: “Um, I think that would be a rather nice way to go if the world is ending.”

Chichimama: “Oh, no.  In my apocalypse, it only lasts about a year.”

M: “Ah. It is a preconceived apocalypse then.  Pardon me.”

The babysitter returns home and spreads word through the neighborhood that the Chez J-E family is a bit crazy, but good to know in an emergency, if one doesn’t want heart disease…

It is hard

C’s best friend at school has left and is not returning. It is a long and involved story which I can’t really go into because it is not my story to share. But what is mine to share is the impact this story has had on my child. The weeks leading up to this have been fraught with defiance, and tears, and limit testing. A refusal to discuss anything involving school. Several phone calls from the school nurse about psycho-somatic illnesses. A request to see our pediatrician because of a constant tummy ache. Tears for no reason except “because I am sad and I can’t explain why.” A frantic flurry of emails to the private schools in the area assessing our ability to gain access for next year (answer: yeah, in your dreams).

More tears (this time mine). A lengthy conversation in the middle of the street (yes, I know, I just slammed a similar situation) with another mother that explained so much and made me realize how much I have failed to be my child’s advocate. Even more tears. A realization that it was too late to do anything about the current year and then a decision not to pull my child and homeschool with five weeks to go. A conversation left for another time about a homeschooling coop in lieu of a private school acceptance.

An email written and deleted to the principal. An email written and sent to the teacher. A realization that I can’t control everything that happens to my children. A fervent hope that I can provide the foundation my children need to deal with the situations out of my control. A snuggle and a promise to always love and always listen.

And by the way, Happy Mother’s Day…

C: “Mom?”

Chichimama: “Yes C?”

C: “Did you notice I called you mom and not mommy?”

Chichimama: “No…”

C: “Well, I did.  I am calling you mom from now on, and daddy is going to be dad.”

Chichimama: “Really?”

C: “Yes.  Because now I am big.  Happy Mother’s Day!”

Chichimama: “I think I am going to cry.”

Five minutes later…

C: “Mommy!  Push me on the swing!  I need to go as high as the sky!”

Chichimama: “I thought you were calling me mom from now on.”

C: “Well, I think it made you sad so I decided to keep calling you mommy for a while longer.”

Chichimama: “Now I really think I am going to cry.”

A hidden message

M emailed this morning and told me to check out Ficlets.  So I clicked through, saw that a story he had written was on the “most recent” stories list, and off I went to read it.  What I got was this…

Paul stared out the window of his 27th floor office. What a fucking mess, he thought. He wasn’t sure how it came to this, but he knew that he was in deep. Too deep.

He stepped up on the A/C register and stared down at Lexington Avenue.

Fuck. How do I explain this to Carol?

He thought back to his kids and the time they were on the boat fishing and he fell in the water as he tried to gaff the Tuna on board. Nothing hurt but his pride and they all had a good laugh. No one’s laughing now.

He reached out to the handle that opened the window, turned it and pushed it opened. The sounds of the city below hit him like a jackhammer. Thank God for older buildings. He looked down at the street once more and got ready.

Hmmm.  Is he planning on jumping out a window?  Is he trying to kill off his best friend?  What can’t he explain to me????  So of course I panic and speed dial my husband, who seems a bit confused as to why I might be a tad concerned about his well being and the state of our marriage.  After a few promises that I wasn’t going to be the feature story on the 10 o’clock news, or the topic of an upcoming “Ripped from the headlines” Law and Order, and that he hadn’t lost all our money and wasn’t having an affair, I hung up the phone and began to expore the site a bit more.

As long as your husband isn’t trying to send you hidden messages through his “fictional” writing, it is a rather cool concept.  Go check it out.  And please, write me a happy ending, OK?