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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Amish Universe

The weather this summer hasn't been what I would call, ideal for the pool.   We have been spending too much time inside (myself included.)  Who ever thinks teachers get the summer off is wrong. Don has had to do a workshop here, a room cleaning there etc. So that leaves me alone at home with the boys and not what I expected when I elected to take the summer off. Regardless, I'm determined to make it fun. The boys had been wanting to go to this place called Splash Universe for months. It is an indoor water park and I decided (without telling them) that we were going on Monday. I was kind of excited too.  Because of my debilitating motion sickness curse, I have been known to spoil any plans of going to amusement parks, Fairs, or kiddy lands at Disney World, but water parks are my secret ace card of not being as lame as people think.  When I was a kid my dad would take 6 or 8 weeks off ( I'm not sure because I was a kid and had no concept of time) and we would do all of our family traveling in the summer. They had an RV and had been known to travel from Canada to California to Florida. No need for a hotel because we bring our own! And we may even park it in front of your house.  One particular excursion landed us in Las Vegas in 1987. Nothing says Vegas like a family of Hoosiers with tube socks and matching Coca-a-Cola t-shirts.  Besides hitting the casino's where 3 of us are underage and the 2 that are of age (my parents) don't drink or gamble, (not for religious reasons but for the feeling of light headedness it gives them) we were able to have fun.  The final day of our trip my dad told us we were going to Wet N' Wild!  The biggest waterslide park in the country.  My siblings and I were so excited we even recorded a rap song about it on our jambox, our only electronic entertainment in our traveling home.  We arrived bright and early. My dad snorting to himself at the price per person, making some comment about how he could have bought 3  tanks of gas for an RV at this rate.  My heart was set on the giant slide in the center of the park. I traveled up 6 flights of stairs and reached the top, only to be told I needed to go back down because lightning had been spotted. I assured the lifeguard that I hand't seen any but that didn't seem to convince him to let me go down. I fought back tears long enough to find my dad who was standing in our meeting location at the center of the park.  He calmed us
(ok me) down and promised to let us come back the next day. We walked back to the front gate only to discover that there were no rain checks or refunds. My dad is a pretty laid back calm guy with two exceptions: traffic and money.  I seriously thought he was going to squeeze through that hole in the glass and ring the blasé attendants neck.  We left Vegas with a sour taste in our mouths...all of us except my brother, who thought it was pretty to cool to be propositioned by a prostitute.
This water park is inside so no need to worry about rain checks.  The placement of this establishment  is quite interesting. They put it right in the middle of Amish country.   I wonder what the logic is behind that. I can't even get a Whole Foods or Trader Joes to come to my town, but a city of people whose women can't even expose their ankles can get a water park.    We passed several horses and buggies. Women churning butter, men with beards plowing fields with horses and plow things.  Homemade dresses hanging to dry next to the chicken coop.  Finally we arrived. I felt reminiscent as I paid $27 per person to gain access, but we had come so far (45 min.)   It wasn't too busy. What I discovered as I sat in the toddler pool with Jack, water brings out the weird in people.  I tried to not get frustrated as I thought that we could have put up a baby pool in our back yard and Jack would have been doing the same thing but we would have saved $27.  Women in bikinis who shouldn't be. I don't say this to be mean, but if you are over a certain size or girth, it may be smart to opt for the one piece or a nice big cover up.  Most of the people there were moms trying not to get wet.  Within 10 minutes Parker came to me looking green. He said the slide made him feel sick. Sick? I couldn't understand what he was talking about. I instructed him to stay with Jack and Finegan and I went up the 4 flights of stairs to get to the top of the " vortex".  A properly named water slide for the midwest.  Finally after 24 years I was going to finally be able to go down the water slide that was robbed from me in Las Vegas.  I got on my tube and traveled down to the bottom. It may have been the longest 4.5 seconds of my life. I was being tossed from side to side in a dark airless tunnel to be shot out with a wedgie at the bottom. I felt as sick as I did in a boat in the middle of the ocean in Australia. I knew exactly why Parker felt like ass.  I decided to spend the rest of my time in the toddler pool or the lazy "river".  As the queasiness dissipated something made me feel equally as nauseous.  It was a couple in their mid 20's floating around intertwined like they were dry humping, but in the water.  I had to wonder, 1. why they were there when it is clearly a kids establishment where alcohol is not served and 2. Why pools make it acceptable for people to float around doing who knows what under the water.   After eating  a $30 lunch where I must have opened 15 little packets of ketchup with my teeth for their hotdogs, I decided it was time for us to go.  As we were walking to the parking lot I explained to Parker that unfortunately he has inherited my inability to have fun on rides that have any motion..which boils down to of all of them.   He said he knew exactly why he was the only one to have motion sickness out of his 3 other brothers. I knew what was coming before he announced it. He claimed it was because he came out of my vagina and the others didn't.  This seems to be the only thing that he sees remarkably unique from his brothers and he uses it as an excuse for many things. Maybe he wears glasses because he came out of my vagina. Maybe he doesn't like soccer because he came out of my vagina. Maybe he doesn't like math or school because he came out of my vagina. Who knows, maybe he is right, but I often regret sharing that fact so early in his life.
After 4 hours I was just happy to get in the car. I even planned on stopping at one of the amish businesses that offered homemade ice cream.  By the time I arrived at this place (after a brief wrong turn) the entire car had fallen asleep.  It was probably a good thing. As a kid my grandfather made a big deal about making ice cream and after what seemed like forever waiting for it as he churned a crank on a wooden barrel, it tasted like icy/salty/sour milk.  It was a hard sell for a girl raised on DQ.  I'll never forget my mom's face when I spit it out the 1/2 cup of ice crap we each got. Rather than wake the boys I decided to carry on our long journey home.   A good day which (hopefully) will leave a great memory of water parks for them and a new one for me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My love hate relationship with age 3

Jack is going to be four in July and its a bittersweet moment to see his third year come to a close.  I thought this as I woke him up this morning. I got down on our hardwood bedroom floor where he is sleeping with a small blanket, no pillow, his bunny and our dog next to a vent blowing cold air in his face.   We have tried to make our bedroom floor as uncomfortable as possible, but it still beacons little boys late at night.  I leaned down and kissed his face and his first words were " the pirates on the bus go arg arg arg"  Random, yes but not really, considering that his latest obsession is pirates.  He laughs and jumps up like he has just slept on a cloud.  A three year old's zest for life is contagious, and exhausting.  In a matter of minutes he has poured himself a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch ( without milk) * explanation to come, and is running downstairs to greet his older brothers who are watching cartoons in the basement. Jack yells " Good morning brothers! " only to have them retort with, "Jack you have a stinky butt", but that doesn't phase him, he begins to talk to them about Pirates and what role each family member plays in his pirate family, and for whatever reason, they listen.  I'm the only girl pirate and Don is the ship.  At the coaxing of his brothers he also decided to declare himself a butt pirate. They don't even know what that means, they can put the word butt in front of anything and think 1. that they came up with it and 2. that they are the next comic standing.  But...  it made me laugh so I made him repeat it. Hopefully he will keep that to himself at his pirate themed vacation bible school tonight.  Three year old's can go from asleep to a coke head in 60 seconds, they can also go from a coke head to a door nail in the same amount of time.  One minute they are bouncing on the couch and  the next minute they are asleep, face down in their refried beans at dinner.
They don't care what are who is popular. They play with whom ever they feel like and when they get tired of that kid they move on.. no hard feelings at all, maybe a toad distracted them.  They speak from a place of truth that gets filtered when they reach the ripe age of 5 or 6. This could be viewed as love and hate.  Yes, I know that the checkout woman at Walmart has a mustache, you don't need to say it out loud and when I ignore you, tell the person behind me or the women herself.  There are also times when I don't want to be asked if there is a baby in my tummy, especially when there isn't, and won't be, and right before I go out and was feeling pretty confident with my outfit.
A three year old loves with their entire being and they are not afraid to tell you. Just today Jack yelled across the pool at me. " I loovveee you mooommyyy!"  This was right before he asked for ice cream, but I would like to believe he was just struck with that overwhelming admiration.
Actually, every emotion is felt with extreme intensity.  Jack can get so angry at his brothers that he actually turns red and shakes like a rocket , yet he is quick to forgive.  When things don't go his way, the world is ending. In his short life I believe the world ended at least 24 times.
He is still young enough to be held, but walk when you need him to.  He craves independence yet still needs you to witness his accomplishments.
They have distinct tastes when it comes to food. A food that they love can be completely repulsive when mixed with something else * see above. Milk alone is only acceptable if Ovaltine is in it, if it is white, or with cereal you could have better luck getting a rabbi to eat a pig.
Their world is so small and they are still in the center of it. They truly believe that everyone at the ballpark cares that they need to poop or go potty. There are no limits to what they can do, they can climb a mountain to visit giants, they just need you to drive them there and provide snacks. Nothing is taboo and modesty has not presented itself. Having a conversation with their grandmother, a babysitter, a local politician, completely nude or in a full snow suit makes absolutely no difference to a 3 year old...or maybe that is just mine, I'm not sure.
My earliest memory was when I was three.  It is of my grandma making me a tweety bird cake. I don't think I had a fondness for tweety bird, but when she asked me what kind of cake I wanted it was the first thing that came to mind.  I remember watching her make every little yellow frosting feather.  I don't remember anything else about that age.  And to think, three of my most favorite years of Jack's life may only be remembered by him by photos or videos.  To go from sucking being his only talent to singing/composing and writing his own lyrics to songs, walking and wiping himself in only 3 short years is monumental.  I can't say I accomplished anything remotely as complex as that in the last 3 years.. I did learn to knit though.
So even if he doesn't remember me waking him up from our bedroom floor, maybe he will remember that he felt loved, and I guess I would be fine with that too.  Every year has its own   uniqueness, but I have to say three is the hardest most wonderful year yet.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

my iMovie

Don went over to a friends house tonight and I am alone this Saturday evening. I say this with no animosity whatsoever. I enjoy these quiet nights alone when I have my birds all in my nest and a glass of wine by my side. Tonight I was particularly restless. I had tried to rent a movie from Red box, but have found that they never have the one I want, and it also seems to be a place where people want to converse about movies, ever since Blockbuster closed. I don't and I don't want to help you select one either, cat woman, (she had cat hair all over her black sweatshirt, with two faded white cats on the front). Finally after selecting and reading the synopsis for each one,  she chose something and moved on. Its a dollar lady, if you pick a bad one its not going to break the bank.  I had Finegan with me and he was "patiently" waiting in the van. I finally was at the screen when I felt someone stab my back. It scared me for a brief second until I turned around. No I wasn't being held up, it was Fin showing me that he really could be a ninja.  On the ride from his baseball game he had decided that he was going to be a ninja when he grew up, he scared the crap out of me, maybe he really could be one. Do they even have ninjas anymore?  I think he is a little too stocky and a bit too chatty for that profession, but I will let a boy dream.  I decided that I couldn't waste an hour and a half on one more romantic comedy with Jennifer Anniston and went home.   It was a long, but good day and the boys were exhausted. They all went to bed without a fight, or at least a fight worth mentioning, and Don left. I was alone on the couch in a quiet house with a glass of merlot.  I swear my house looks different when there isn't a boy running through it, its actually kind of nice. It also sounds different. I hear things that are otherwise muffled by the boys dsi's or Jack's latest pirate song. Its almost as if the house finally takes a deep breath.  After changing the channel 400 times and deciding that I didn't want to watch Renovation Realities or a scripted reality show (again), I ventured into cyber space where I have a network of friends I may or may not recognize in the grocery store, heck the lady in line at Red Box could be the lady who likes all my statuses for all I know. I have been working really hard to not watch or listen to the news. I made this decision, well ok, I didn't make it, it was suggested to me by a therapist that I stop watching the news because it only stirs the pot of my worry and although Don has suggested this, this man is a professional and I will try it out.  The news never does follow up. In the past week, our local news has reported on child abduction attempts, children getting hit by cars , children being killed by accident or getting injured by lawn mowers or drowning. It must be their summer strategy. But 9 times out of 10 they don't tell you the story in its entirety.  The child abduction attempt was by her father or the kid who drowned in the back yard had a seizure. Its not that it makes it less tragic, but it gives me some hope that my child isn't going to drown in a puddle.  Obviously you can see I haven't done too well with not watching the news.  So rather than watch a poor lit shiny local newscaster I turned to our own home movies.   I decided to just skim through the last year.  What amazed me is that it was suspenseful.  I couldn't wait to see what happened next even though I was there.  I reluctantly watched the birth of Oscar, 14 months ago and watched him being cut out of that poor girl's stomach, (how can they stretch her skin so much?) Oh that's right it was me.  I was a bit moved when Don did a close up of my face as I held my breath until I heard his first cry.  When I saw my face it brought back the emotion clear as day.  But it was as if I was a third party looking in. I felt sorry for her because although nobody in the room could know, she was scared, and having a panic attack.  But even now watching it from an outsider's prospective there is no way to recognize that.  I was touched to see my mom's reaction when she first held him while I was in recovery. Again, I'm in the video, I had a front row seat, but it was as if I was watching it for the first time.  I watched the older boys first lay eyes on their baby brother and how they were overflowing with excitement.  In the back ground I could see a drugged, tired and worried woman, but it is hard to believe it is me.  It allowed me to go back in time and be a fly on the wall. I wonder how much of my life I'm missing by being caught up in my head and not fully present in the moment.  Its not even like I have a different perspective, because in order to have that you must have some sort of recollection of the event, which I seem to have misplaced in my subconscious.  Its no wonder that adults blame their problems on their childhood. They have snapshots in their brain of the painful things, but completely bury the simple happy times.   I feel like I'm in the movie Its a wonderful life and I'm looking through the window. And what I see is far from what I notice. I see the way the boys look at me when I'm not looking. I hear something that they say that I ignored and I see how beautiful being a mother can really look.
I get so caught up in worrying that I fail to feel what is going on, it isn't until I watch it on an iMovie that I notice the little, most important things.  And to think I spend all this time avoiding Don while he holds the camera because I feel bloated that day, or he is on my bad side. The truth is, I looked at myself, holding a baby  just one year ago and thought, wow, I really looked radiant, and young!  I see a life that I always wanted, that I have  and that I have  overlooked.   The year went by in a blink of an eye.  If I worry too much about the moments I missed since I met Don I will, once again be losing this very pleasant quiet minute that may hold something just as significant as a momentous event, but not recorded because it may not seem relevant.. at least not now.  So I'm going to take a hint from my house and take a deep breath.  Just as a type this I hear a groggy Jack coming down the stairs.  He is more than half asleep which reminds me to wake up and take a mental imovie of this, because when he is out of the house, I'm sure its what I will long for most.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A new kind of heart break

Today I experienced an emotion that I had never felt before, it was kind of mix of helplessness, rage and compassion.  It was the first time I was able to see Parker play baseball. I have seen him play T-ball, but now he is in the farm league and the difference is that they can strike out and they have a pitching machine..  The game was already an hour and a half, can you imagine what it would be like if an 8 year old pitched? I would have grandchildren by that time.
Parker certainly looks the part. He is a handsome little guy, sandy blond hair a medium build, a little taller than average but still right in the middle.  As he went up to bat I felt extremely nervous, almost like I was having to tell my boss I was pregnant (again.)  Once he was at bat, he stood there in a Shaggy stance. This is what I call someone who pushes their hips forward slouches and looks like Scooby- doo's companion.  The guy loading the machine actually calls what it is going to be. Here is a ball, here is a strike, to me that takes away an important learning opportunity to judge whether a ball is good enough to hit, but that may just be me. I regress.
There is Parker, looking more like a spectator than a player and we are on strike number 2. As the ball is propelling to Parker I say a little prayer. "Please God, let him hit the ball..please, please, please"  Of course, God has time for these prayers, what with earthquakes, genocide and war going on. STRIKE 3. Ugh. This is where a pain shoots through my gut.  Although Parker's shaggy stance would give the impression he was not ready, inside he really wanted to hit the ball. Watching him walk back to the dug out shameful and disappointed is truly heartbreaking. Especially for a mom. I go around to the dug out and tell him he made a good effort and was so close, but he isn't buying it, he looks at me through his eyes filling with tears and speaking through teeth and says.. " this is why I don't like baseball".  He is trying just as hard as I am to not cry. It may sound dramatic, but watching your child hurt and not being able to fix it, is torture.
I was a freakishly good athlete as a kid. Anything I tried I did well.  It came very easy to me, Tennis, softball, soccer, swimming, golf, basketball, you name it.  What I lacked in book smarts, I made up with field smarts.   That is why it does not make any sense to me why it hasn't presented itself in my boys....yet.   I guess I could blame Don, that seems like the easy thing to do, but even  he was a gifted athlete (not as good as me, but that is an argument Don and I will never resolve)
Once I had the chance, I called Don. In a low serious voice I asked him WTF is going on. He has been to all Parker's games and failed to mention his inability to hit the ball.  I wish I would have had some warning.  I told him he is neglecting his son and needs to take him to the batting cage stat. * and to think, Don thinks I over react?   He said he was planning on it, but that Parker had improved the last game.  Improvement from what? Was he facing the wrong way and now he is facing forward and there for, its an improvement?  He could sense my inner turmoil and his excuse was that my very presence was causing Parker to Babydown. That is his term ( made up by Don) which means that the boys revert to mama's boys when I am around.  Much to the same way I dumb it down for my boss. It works for me, and clearly it was working for Parker. When he didn't get a hit I run to his aid with encouragement and he gives me his big brown puppy dog eyes and I want to take him to my breast and nurse him. Just kidding, but I do want to hug him and let him know that I love him. But maybe Don is on to something. I decide no more Mama bear. Rather than standing right behind him sounding like Jack Handy while he bat, I will sit with all the other parents.  But before I do, I call him out of the dug out and show him the proper stance while he is at bat. Well, if he wasn't embarrassed before, he certainly was now.
I returned to my place on the bleachers and watched. He is great on the field, I actually enjoyed myself and wondered if anyone noticed I was only cheering for him. But I had to, his coached are deadbeat coaches.  Well, maybe not dead beat, but you would think between the 4 of them they could give better instruction other than, " come on now son, hit the ball!"  His head coach has a cigarette behind his ear, no joke.  Maybe that is what they need rather than a hovermom. That was until I heard one of them criticizing his own son in the outfield, and loud enough so everyone could hear. That is when it hit me.   I'm really just as bad as they are, but more on an emotional level.  What it comes down to is that you just want your kid to do well.  My self esteem was elevated as a child because I was the best at something.  But who is to say that it needs to be sports. Is it because he is a boy and I want him to fit in and be liked, and I liked athletic boys in school, so that must mean that only athletic boys are well liked?  Sounds dumb.  Most of the jocks I found attractive in high school can be found on the corner bar reliving the good old days, and that isn't attractive at all.
After the game Parker came running to me to give me a hug. I told him that I was proud of him and by the time we reached the snack stand, any disappointment in not getting a hit was comforted by a big box of popcorn.  Emotional eating, that is one thing I know he inherited from me, and let me tell you, he is damn good at it.