Monthly Archives: September 2010

A fifth member of the family…

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“Mom, please, read this” the boy said as he placed a book down in front of me.  “No.  I refuse to read that and you know why”, I said in return.  “But, mom, you haven’t read to us in a really long time,” said the doll, applying more pressure.  “Go find another book.  You know I don’t like reading that chapter, I’m not going to do it” I said firmly.  “Mom, we have confidence in you….” the boy pressed.  Finally, after much cajoling by both kids I relented, and began to read aloud, “...Christopher Robin was going away.  Nobody knew why he was going.  Nobody knew where he was going; indeed, nobody even knew why he knew that Christopher Robin was going away”. So begins the final chapter (ten) in the Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh, by A.A. Milne.

Over the years Winnie-the-Pooh has become the fifth member of our family.  For a while he was the fourth, until the doll showed up and moved him down the placement ladder.  Pooh bear, as he’s commonly known around here, has been by son’s constant sleeping companion since he discovered him sitting on a shelf in his bedroom, just under the age of two.  Though we had decorated his room with Winnie-the-Pooh  borders, the bear didn’t quite become so ingrained until he and I watched “Cowboy Pooh”, a video my sister had loaned us.  From then on, the boy believed he was Christopher Robin; which was fitting, considering; he kinda looked like him too.

The boy used to call himself “Kitty Voman”.  The hubby and I had no clue what he meant.  Not really familiar with the wherewithal of the Winnie the Pooh stories, I just assumed there must have been a cat in the tales somewhere.  After a time, when his pronunciations became clearer, we realized he was in fact calling himself Christopher Robin.  This made perfect sense, as his imagination was just as active as the boy in the book.

“Mom, you’re doing fine, take deep breaths and read slowly, you’ll make it through”, the boy said.  I looked up from the book to see both kids looking intently at me, as if waiting for something to happen.  Fact of the matter is, I have a horrible time reading that last chapter without bringing tears to my eyes.  I’m not someone who ordinarily cries at Hallmark commercials or cards.  But reading the last chapter of this book always brings tears.  Taking a deep breath I continued, “What do you like best in the world, Pooh? “

The doll, though she understands Pooh bear belongs to her brother, is envious of their relationship. She has tried to, over the years become attached to “one” of her stuffed animals in the same manner, but has never quite found “one” to fill that void.  Instead she’ll sleep with ten small rodents; which she rotates out every week or so. “…Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.  And then he thought that being with Christopher Robin was a very good thing to do…”

Cue the waterworks.  “Aw Mom, it’s okay, you’re almost through the chapter” the doll offers.  She doesn’t understand what I’m reading.  The boy is enjoying watching me crumble as I read aloud.  Saying goodbye to my youth was hard enough.  In fact there are many times where I still have trouble letting go, however, reading this and thinking about my children, growing up and moving beyond the Hundred Acre Woods, is pardon the pun, unbearable. I know my kids will do well and the boy especially will look back at his bear with a great sense of love.  He had a constant companion who loved him no matter what goofy thing or homework assignment he missed.  Pooh bear accompanied him on every adventure he went on, that required an overnight stay.  He’s never been ashamed to show, Pooh bear as his best friend.

“…I like that too” said Christopher Robin, “but what I like doing best is Nothing”.  ‘How do you do Nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time.  “Well it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, What are you going to do, Christopher Robin and you say, Oh, nothing and then you go do it”  “Oh, I see,” said Pooh.  “This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing now”.  “Oh I see” said Pooh again.  “It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Now add heavy sighs.   The kids run off to bring me tissues so I can blow my nose and wipe my eyes.  They’ve accomplished their mission, mom is crying.  And still I read the saddest part of all, “….I’m not going to do Nothing anymore.”  “Never again?” “Well not so much.  They don’t let you..Pooh, when I’m –you know—when I’ m not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?  “Yes.  Will  you be here too?  “Yes Pooh, I will be, really.  I promise I will be, Pooh.”  Then a bit later he adds, “Promise you won’t forget about me, ever, not even when I’m a hundred.” And now, I can no longer speak.  As the tears flow and my mouth is filled with grief,  I hand the boy the book and ask him to finish for me.  Looking down he says, “No, that’s okay, the end will keep for another day.”

**excerpts taken from The Complete Tales of Winnie The Pooh, by A. A. Milne (1926)

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responsible…who knew?

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As I opened my eyes on the day, I looked at my alarm clock, as I do every morning to gage if I can hit the snooze alarm, or if I’ve missed that window of extra sleep possibility.  What I saw illuminated back to me was the time 9:30 am.  “Crap, I’ve over slept” I thought as I lay there in bed, trying to get my bearings.  Not hearing any activity coming from the downstairs, I got myself up and moving.  As I made my way to the stairs I noticed the rain beating hard against our roof, and thought, “Jeeze, their going to be late and wet, wonderful!”

When I made it down the steps, to the main floor, I looked around.  The television was turned off.  Wow, I thought, the kids slept this late?  That is not usual in the least.  The doll wakes up as her father leaves for work almost every day—light sleeper that she is.  Something’s up.  Turning toward their bedrooms, I entered each one, but there were no kids to be found.  Back into the living room, no back packs either.   Oh my God, did they actually get themselves out the door to school?

Investigating further, I noticed my niece’s ballet bag, which meant my sister in law had stopped by to drop it off.  Perhaps she got the kids off to school; I thought and put in a call to her.  “I thought you were sick, from the kid’s reaction”, she said.  “When I arrived, they were basically dressed, but didn’t have their shoes on, so I motivated them to finish dressing, told them to get their hooded jackets on then watched them leave for school.  The funny thing was the boy kept asking if I would stay here (at the house) to let you know, they had left for school.”

As I hung up the phone a startling thought crossed my mind, the kids were responsible enough to get themselves up and ready for school.  They only needed a little help to get out the door.  They did all of this without me.  Why didn’t they wake me up?  A few minutes later, the telephone rang and the doll was on the other end.  “Hi mom”, she said, “Doll, were you and the boy late for school today?”  “Nope, we made it before the last bell rang, but I…”  I interrupted her, “I’m very proud that you and the boy got yourselves up and ready for school without my nagging you.  Did you make yourself a lunch?”  “That’s why I’m calling you.  Lunchtime is at 11:15 am”.  “Okay doll, I’ll have something waiting for you”.  Before she hung up she said, “Oh and Mom, Mrs. Kremer shared her pretzels with me, so I don’t need a snack.  But I wanted to let you know, since I didn’t get a chance this morning to tell you, I love you”.

Awww….is she the best or what?

bedtime prayers

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Every night before bed, the kids and I say prayers together.  The doll gets very unhappy with me if I tell her “tonight say prayers by your selves”.  This is our last little gift to one another, which from time to time I have to remind myself to take the time to receive.  When the boy was little, when the time came for prayers, he had an unusual style of blessing those in his life.  “God bless Mom and Dad…” I would say.  His standard reply would be “no”.  No matter whose name I asked “God” to bless, the boy would always say “no”.  I figured since I was in such good company, the Lord would see his faux pas as I did—too cute to correct.

For first communion, the doll received a book of prayers from her Aunt Lisa.  Every night for two weeks after, we had to read one of the prayers from the book, before getting down to who we asked prayers for.  I found this particularly fun, considering most of the prayers will be ones she will learn in the next few years. The book reminded me of my catechesis lessons as a child, bringing back old prayers I’ve lost over the years.

Nowadays, the boy isn’t so thrilled with praying at all.  Typical eleven year old fashion, “I’m too old to say these silly prayers” he has said, when I asked him to lead a prayer or join in on the “Hail Mary” at the half way point.  But he will relent, especially if he has a special prayer for someone in his life.  When my mother was dying we began learning the Memorare (sp?), a prayer to the Virgin Mother my sisters learned when they were younger.  If I learned it back then, I had long since forgotten.  But since the prayer holds a strong tie to my Mom, the kids and I now say that prayer at least once a week.

The ways our prayers end are pretty typical.  We ask God to bless…  “Mom and Dad, brother boy, sister doll,  all our aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, grandparents, all the teachers at school, Sister Marie and Simon (her cat) and all those who are in most need of prayers.”  This is when we can add different people, we normally wouldn’t mention.  On occasion the boy has asked for prayers for the woman at the bowling alley—whose name he never remembers.  Last night the doll asked for special mention for whoever had the chimney fire down the street.

Once all the names have been added, we finish with “…That they all continue to have a happy, healthy, but above all, a safe tomorrow.” When the kids were younger they would never quite get “above all” instead they would say, “Happy. Healthy, loveable safe tomorrow or my personal favorite, “happy, healthy but in a bubble, safe tomorrow” At some point over the last few months, the doll has decided to take the lead on the ending prayers.  The boy mumbles at best, and while I’m trying to engage him, she ends up leading the prayers—even mentioning the ogre of a man who lives behind us.  “Mom, I’m gonna pray for him because maybe God will make him nicer then…”  We’ve been including him almost every night for the past year.  One day, hopefully the Lord will hear that prayer and answer her, but I’m not holding my breath any time soon.

brownies or friends…

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Saturdays during college football season, are usually spent walking from one house to another in my neighborhood, to enjoy the games, friends, conversations and food, not necessarily in that order.  Last weekend was no exception.   The boy, who doesn’t understand the social impact of football, instead found himself happily playing at Marg’s, house. The doll who was not invited over to play was unhappy she couldn’t work out a play date with her cousins, unfortunately was stuck with me.  “Mom, is it okay if we take my bike?  That way if I’m bored, I can ride it up and down the street”.  Seeing the wisdom in her thinking I agreed and then together we crossed the street to the Kelly’s where OSU football is the main course.

Arriving, the doll realized she was the only younger kid.  The Kelly’s daughter is 13, a social butterfly who no longer has time for eight year olds.  Not that I blame her; I remember clearly being 13 and wanting nothing to do with kids that were not my age. So the doll rode her bike back and forth up and down the street, until she ventured into their back yard, in tears to find me.  “What’s wrong?”  Through her tears she told me how some boy had approached her and introduced himself as Drew.  But because she didn’t know him, she just rode her bike as fast as she could to get away from him.  “Doll, was he a boy or a man?”  “A boy.”  “What did he want?”  “I don’t know, he just scared me so I rode my bike as fast as I could to get away from him, and then….as I pulled up into Mrs. Kelly’s driveway, some girl said, “What’s she doing here?”  Ah, now the crux of the problem has arisen.  “Doll, I don’t think she meant any harm.  She just doesn’t know you or know that I’m here.”  “It’s still not very nice to say that Mom.”

Mrs. Kelly smoothed things out by introducing the doll to all the kids, making them understand that the doll was very welcomed at her home.  This seemed to do the trick, as the doll wiped her tears and went back to her bike.  After a small time passed, we moved onto another party where once again, she was the only kid.  She however found the plate of brownies to be a nice substitute for a friend.  She also discovered the neat can crusher the family employed.  The doll kept roaming from person to person looking for empty beer cans to crush until it was time to leave.  As she rode her bike a few paces in front of me she stopped and waited for me to catch up.  “Mom that party was a little better than the Kelly’s, but I wish there had been kids around”.  “I hear ya darling, I’m sorry there weren’t any.”  “That’s okay, but next week can we find something else to do?”  As per usual, mom’s final words, “We’ll see, darlin’ we’ll, see.

after school specials…

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….”Mom, I got an infraction today.”The boy said, as he exited from school.  As we began walking home I asked,   “Why?”   “I thought one of the in class work and effort papers didn’t need to be turned in..”  Tapping him on the head I said, “Didn’t we already discuss this last week?  Every little piece of paper that teacher gives you to work on in class needs to be turned in…Even if she tells you otherwise…”  Alright, but I have some good news for you…” he said as he handed me a graded paper with a 100% marking the top.  “I’m well on my way to fixing the other classes I’ve messed up on….So, couldyoupleaseletmestillstayupandwatchDestinationTruthtonightat9 pm onSci-fichannel?”  He said .  I see clearly now.  He’s attempting to do the bad cop/good cop routine, except using his class grades.  As a result he received the standard Mom stock answer…”We’ll see”.

Yesterday I worked at a funeral luncheon and came home with some left over cupcakes, which I offered to the kids once they finished their homework.  A short time after the cupcakes were devoured, I was inundated with numerous questions.  “Aunt Marsha, could I have a Gogurt?” “Marsha could K-Man and I (AM) have some Gogurt too?” “Mrs. L. Could I have a cookie?”  “Mom, is it okay if we play a video game?”  “Um, doll’s mom, could I have some Apple Juice?”  On and on they continued asking for food.  One could think this was something out of the ordinary.  But, on the contrary, this occurs every single day following school.

smelling for clean hair…

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Is there a commonality found among school age children, or are my kids the only ones with an aversion toward taking a bath?  Of course when they were babies, this was a favorite time for them.  Then, they enjoyed splashing in the water, creating bubbles and playing with their different bath toys, while I washed off dead skin cells and dirt with soap. Every time I lifted them out of the water, into an awaiting towel, I would cover them up, turn and look into the bathroom mirror and in unison; we would both look at each other and say, “HI”.

At some point, they no longer wanted me in the bathroom while they were splashing around in the once hot now lukewarm water.  However, their father and I would make sure they washed with soap and shampoo; periodically looking in to check the lather on their skin and hair.  As they grew taller and conversely, the tub smaller, showers became the norm.  This too was fun.  The boy felt he was growing up, acting like his father.  The doll and I periodically would take showers together, me even pretending to “shave” her legs, so she didn’t feel out of place..  As she watched her older brother move away from baths, she too, decided showers were the way to go.  After all, there are no flies on this doll.

Then something changed.  The boy decided sitting in warm water was more preferable than allowing water to cascade down from a shower head.  In doing so, he also stopped using soap. Some of his excuses are as follows…. “Mom, I can’t get the lather off my skin, it just clings and I’ve tried”, “I prefer the au natural look” and my personal favorite, “Mom, I’d rather take bird bathes using just plain water.  I mean, it cleans just as well and besides, isn’t that was deodorant was made for?”   While his father and I scratch our heads wondering where he’s come up with these radically wrong ideas (cartoons?), we become the bad guys making him use soap and shampoo—even going so far as to smelling the top of his head, to insure he has washed with soap.

The doll is not exempt from this picture either.  While she still enjoys showers, she tests us, by using too much soap, especially on her hair.  There have been many times I’ve made her put her head under the tub faucet, just so I can remove the remaining suds.  On the days when I’ve failed to check her hair, I watch her as she wonders why her head itches so much.  “Maybe you didn’t get all the soap out of your hair doll”, I offer, which she always emphatically denies.

Since my kids have sensitive skin, we’ve settled into an every other day approach to taking showers.  But even then we are met with resistance…”Mom, I really didn’t sweat today…” the boy has said to me, contrary to the fact his face and body odor tell me otherwise.  “Why do I have to take a shower, I took one on Sunday?” the doll will say to me on Monday evening, after going on a three mile bike ride with her father.  I’m not sure if their aversion to taking a shower is because the chore of washing, or the perceived time spent away from watching television?

I know it’s only a matter of time until puberty hits and I’ll be complaining about all the time they are spending in the bathtub, or the many times that day the children have taken a shower, but right now, I just want them to be clean.  And by clean, I mean smell like “cleaned with soap” with no itchy scratchy heads.  Is this too much to ask?

candid conversations

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The doll’s cousin Elle had her tonsils removed last week which has all the afterschool kids thinking hard about what to do for her once she returns to school.  They decided to write and perform a play in my back yard, which casts K-man, AM, Mary and the doll in the starring roles.  AM is the chief writer, while all the kids are putting their two cents into the direction of the play.  As of yesterday, the only lines written in the play are as follows:  K-man, pretending to be a little boy asks, “Mommy, I want something to drink….:  Which the doll, acting as the 42 year old mother says, “Okay, let me get you some apple juice.”

While watching me snap green beans at the kitchen table yesterday afternoon, Mary and the doll began talking about the impending play and their parts.  “You know, AM has only written those two lines, she’s been too busy developing the characters…” Mary said.  “That’s just silly.  And how did I get to be a 42 year old MOM.  I never wanted to be the MOM” the doll said emphatically. “I don’t know, she said you were born in like 1966”.  “Well if your character was born in 1966”, I said, “That makes you older than 42”.  Both smiled and laughed.  “Well actually, Aunt Marsha, I’m wrong the date is 154.”  “I see so instead of being 44 years old she’s actually 1856 years old?”  “No, I mean, she’s just older.  The play is set in the past…”

A little later on the doll asked Mary again, “How did I get to be the Mom?  That’s just dumb.  Why can’t I be one of the kids?”  “Doll, someone has to be the Mom and since you are never done with your homework before us, you won that part.”  A bit frustrated, the doll retorted, “That’s just not fair.  Maybe AM can write me a better part”.  Looking at them I said, “Hey, what’s wrong with being the Mom?” “Oh nothing if you want to be boring and ugly…” she said quickly. Then realizing what she just said, the doll amended her statement, “Mom, in the play…not in real life.  You’re not boring or ugly….”  Whatever doll, whatever….