The Friendly Giant and a Few Lyrics

Not too long ago, we were headed for dinner, and I was giving my baby brother a ride to the restaurant.  Why not?  I think of the environment and money always.  Besides he was the boys’ favorite person.

I could tell he itched to mess with my radio.  His taste in music is more eclectic than mine, finding good bands long before they hit the radio.  I blame it on the few years in radio; it changes a person.  I remember when I was the cool one.

Then “Some Nights” by fun. started playing.  The Friendly Giant reached over and turned it up.

Tornado E: Thanks, Uncle Friendly Giant!

Tornado S: I like this song!

I smiled.

Friendly Giant: Do you?  Has your mom bought the album for you yet?

Tornado E & Tornado S: NO!

Me: Hey, we own “We Are Young.”

Immediately I felt like a sell-out because everyone loves that song.  I hated being with the in-crowd.

A pause.

Tornado E: It is the same band!

I was trying to get him to listen and recognize voices.  Always handy when you are listening to music on the radio or being pranked phone called by your grandpa.

Because we were coming to an intersection, my attention switched to driving as The Friendly Giant entertained the boys.

Friendly Giant: Hold on, guys.  Fae, this part always makes me think of you and Tornado E.  I get a little teared up every time.

I only caught part of the lyrics.  “I look into my nephew’s eyes.”  I smiled at The Friendly Giant.

Later that I night I went online to get the lyrics.  Funny, that I hadn’t before.  I like lyrics.

“My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she called ‘love’
When I look into my nephew’s eyes…
Man, you wouldn’t believe the most amazing things that can come from…
Some terrible lies…ahhh…” (fun. “Some Nights”)


Then I felt my heart break a little.  I remembered a conversation over five years ago when I learned that my baby brother was not under my protection any more but that he wanted to protect me.  He cried because he couldn’t protect me.  No one could protect me from my own foolishness, even if they lived in the same city.  I cried as I told him I didn’t need protection, that I would find a way out, that I had a handle on this.  I didn’t.  I just couldn’t let my brother hurt any more.

But there’s the other part of the lyrics.  The nephew.  His nephews.  Sure, I walked through fire, got scarred up, and some wounds have yet to heal, and some battles are still needed to be fought.  But I have the boys.  Right now, they’re surrounded by men like The Friendly Giant who can protect them and teach them to be better men.  And my boys are pretty amazing.

I think it’s time for another movie night with The Friendly Giant.

Brotherly love

We’re in a bit of a struggle, the boys and I.  It’s about putting away toys. I’ll admit that I’ve been a little too lax about the whole thing.  Some days I let it slide.  Now with the worry of impending classes in the fall and a career on the far horizon, I realized I need help and I wasn’t doing the boys any favors by picking up their toys every other day or so.  Now I remember more often to stop play and get toys picked up.  You want to watch a DVD?  Toys have to be picked up. You want a story time tonight?  You better pick up those toys.  We’re going somewhere.  Pick up the toys.  Since it is my house and one of the little tornadoes isn’t able to pick up after himself quite yet, I pitch in and encourage and help organize the effort.

Last Sunday, getting the boys to pick up was like pulling teeth because we were on an agenda.  A thunderstorm was moving in and I had to get the boys in the pool long before it hit.  I reminded them of swimming and told each boy to collect a certain type of toy to put away.  Swords for Tornado E.  Star Wars figures for Tornado S.

Tornado E scurried around picking up toy after toy.  Tornado S moseyed around the room. Finally all that was left were random toys, and I told Tornado E to pick up five, which he did.  He ran to get ready, and Tornado S finally finished his chore.  I told him to pick up five more toys and then he was done. But instead he just sat on the couch.

Let the waiting begin.  And the encouragement.  And the warning of less swim time.  And the negotiating. Tornado S refused.

Tornado E became distraught.  He found a small pile of toys next to the toy organizer.

Tornado E: LOOK, TORNADO S!  Look!  Here are some here!  You can put them away!

Tornado S refused.  And refused.  And refused.

Then Tornado E picked the toys up and put them away.

Tornado E: Mommy, I picked up Tornado S’s toys for him!  Can we go now?  Please! Tornado S did his work because I did it for him!

Me: Tornado E, you did a great job!  Thank you!  We’ll go, but Tornado S will not be able to swim.  It is not fair for you to pick up Tornado S’s part of the mess.

Tornado E:  It’s ok, Mommy!  I did it for Tornado S!

Me: Thank you, Tornado E. Tornado S, we’re leaving, but you can’t go swimming because you didn’t pick up the last five toys.

Tornado S started to cry.

Tornado E: Don’t cry, Tornado S!  Look!  I found some toys!  Come here and pick them up.  (Tornado E stood by some toy trucks pointing to them.  Then he ran a few feet and pointed to under the train table.)  They go here, Tornado S!  Hurry!  You can do it!

Tornado S ran over to the trucks and then carried five of them and placed them under the table.

Tornado E:  See, Mommy?!  Tornado S did it!  Now he can go swimming with me!

Sometimes these kids are amazing.

Standing up and looking down

Exasperated.  I looked down at Tornado E in his shirt and underwear, lying on his back, playing with toys.

Me: Tornado E.  What toy did you put in your underwear?  Take it out.

Tornado E: (giggled) I don’t have a toy in my underwear.  It’s my penis!  It’s standing up!

If that wasn’t bad enough, a fully dressed Tornado S walked over and stood over Tornado E, looking down at him.

Tornado S: Hey, Tornado E!  My penis is looking down at you!

Oh, brother.  Help me.

The First Day of Summer

Nevermind that for the last several days, the boys have been sleeping in until 7 or later.  (Weird.)


Tornado S climbed into bed, wanting to snuggle at 6:15am.

6:15 am.

Then he said, “Mommy, I have gunk in my eyes.”

Instead of slipping into an already scheduled delightful fantasy in my head, far, far away from my responsibilities, I sprung up and pulled Tornado S off of my pillow and dragged him out of the bedroom.

Then I put him on the floor, holding him down as he screamed and flailed around as I put pink eye drops into his eyes.  Then I ran, turned on the hot water, got the crying Tornado A out of his crib, wet a washcloth, and returned to the great room.  I placed Tornado A on the ground, who immediately started to whine to be picked up again, and handed Tornado S the washcloth, instructing him to place it over his eyes.  Which he didn’t.  I had to.  Which he fought. So I gave up and scraped the crap of his eyelids.  While he screamed and flailed.

Then I dragged him to the bathroom to wash his hands.  Only I had forgotten that I had a pair of swim trunks soaking from the night before. Ewww.  So I dragged him to my bathroom, where he proceeded to tell me he couldn’t wash his hands because he didn’t have his step.  So I grabbed his step and forced him to wash his hands correctly.

Only I had forgotten he hadn’t had his morning pee.  And now he did.  Through his underwear and all over the step. UGH!  Rather than screaming or running away, I comforted Tornado S and then cleaned it all up.

It was now 6:30.

But it’s the first day of summer, and I have half a chocolate birthday cake.  So I served it up for breakfast to the now awake Tornado E and the recently scrubbed clean Tornado S.  Tornado A was upset that he had to have prunes and toast.  Sucks to be a baby.

Because we couldn’t start the tradition of pajama/underwear day on the first day of summer because I had errands to run, I had to nag everyone into their clothes.  God.  I hate nagging.  Did you pick out a shirt?  Where is your shirt?  Why are your pull-ups on?  Tornado A, don’t move.  Don’t roll!  Where’s your shirt?  Why are you naked still?  Where are your clothes?  Fine.  Start with your underwear.  Fine, if you don’t want to wear Mickey Mouse, go get a new pair.  Why are you still naked?!

Tornado A rolled off the couch.

So we left later than I wanted to.  I was planning on hitting Tornado E’s new school, the store, another store, the city hall, the teacher’s supply store, and then lunch.  But by the time we left, I would have been going there at the same time as parents’ dropping off their kids.  Uh, no.  I’ll have enough of that next year.

First the store.  Because “we” (as in “we” are both doing it, but “we” did not come up with the plan but was merely dragged along for the ride) are doing a little experiment on using just cash, I had to go get a money order for a bill.  Imagine the fun of dragging three young children in a store, where they only want to go get smoothies two doors down.  Or imagine the commands as I filled out the forms and mailed out the envelope.

Then off to the next store.  Again we paid a bill.  To lighten the mood, we dropped coins in collection jar, watching the coins twirl and twirl around.  Then I remembered I had to bring something to Tornado E’s end-of-the-year t-ball party.  So we shopped for a watermelon and cucumbers.  Add in the usual grocery shopping dialogue.

Once we were at the car, the boys scampered into the driver’s side to jump around in the front as I lashed Tornado A into his seat.


A what?

Sure enough, I saw a mildly bloody hole was where his tooth used to be with a tiny little tooth coming out of the gum.  For you folks at home, this is Tornado E’s third tooth.  This is also the third tooth we have lost and been unable to put under his pillow.

Me: Tornado E, do you know when you lost it?

Tornado E: I think in the store.

Well, I’m not going back to look for a tooth.

To city hall, where I paid the water bill, where Tornado A tried to overturn the garbage cans and where Tornado S threw a fit because he couldn’t press the button to open the door.  Wally, my best friend, called, and she managed to tell me about her yesterday that made my day look like a cake walk.

We walked over to the teaching supply store.  As I searched for workbooks for Tornado E and Tornado S, they were busy playing in the play area, then the toy area and then using pointers on each other.  The stroller wheel fell off again, and it took a while to fix it.  Tornado A did not understand why he had to be in the stupid stroller any ways.

By the time I made my purchase and got to the SUV, we were facing lunch.  So we picked up drive thru; while Tornado E and Tornado S took turns feeding Tornado A goldfish and juice.

Then it was to the new school to bring Tornado E’s birth certificate because the registration packet made no mention of any other items needed other than the registration forms.  It took almost a week to get back to school.

Back home, everyone ate.  Tornado A napped.  I established a new rule over picking up toys.  They had to do it.  Then there were the usual bickering and fighting with a few squirt gun fights to break up the monotony.  I joined in one.

Then Tornado A woke up.  With gunk in his eyes.  What are the odds that was random gunk and not pink eye like Tornado E had and Tornado S was having?  Now add a second child screaming and flailing every two hours as I put a drop in each eye.

Then Tornado E didn’t want to go to his party, so I had to make dinner.  With a cranky baby crying at my feet.  Just as I set down dinner on the table, I noticed Tornado S was dancing.  I told him to go potty as I placed Tornado A in his high chair with his food.  I turned to see Tornado S, with pants down, standing on the edge of the bathroom, peeing onto the tile.  Ah, crap.  He couldn’t make it to the toilet.  In his mind, it was the next best place.

I sat the boys down for dinner.  I cleaned up the urine. Tornado A was finished eating and wanted down.  I grabbed a quick bite after settling Tornado A with some toys.  I then explained why the boys had a choice between cupcakes and cake and not candy.  I’m a good baker.  What’s wrong with my cupcakes?

Tornado A climbed up the step in the bathroom, jumped around to see his reflection, and then fell off the step.

Then Tornado E wanted to go to his party and threw a temper tantrum because I wouldn’t take him.  I had already canceled.  I had two boys with pink eye.  We couldn’t go.

Tornado A needed his usual Mama-belongs-on-the-floor-with-me-while-I-do-other-things time.  Then I noticed Tornado E was gone.

Me: Tornado S, where’s Tornado E?

Tornado S: Sleeping?

What?  Yup, he was sound asleep on his bed.

Then Tornado A’s fingers were slammed by the toilet seat lid as he investigated the water.

Then I bathed him and put him down.

I played squirt guns with Tornado S for the last half hour before reading to him and putting him to bed.

I’m hoping the rest of the summer isn’t like this.

Though it did take me several hours to write this.  Sigh.

It’s a memory day

Once upon a time, this date meant the cumulation of 18 years of hard work.  Eight of those years geared specifically for this date.  Hours of thinking, reading, writing, researching, asking questions, bothering teachers.  Hours of babysitting, xeroxing, filing, answering phones, hauling boxes.  All so that I could make fun of the ceremony with a friend, shake the hand of my mentor after he correctly pronounced my name, and throw tortillas instead of a cap.  It was the most important day in my life.  For a while.

Then that date was eclipsed five years later.

Now, on May 18th, I don’t think about racing home, because I overslept at my boyfriend’s place, to beat my parents to my apartment.  I don’t think about the mad dash to get dressed and to the auditorium on time.  I don’t think of tripping over the word “Ecclesiastes” in front of hundreds of people.  I don’t think of my best friend looking right through me or winking at my mentor as I shook his hand or begging my friend to hide the tortillas because he was wearing pants and I was wearing a dress.

Instead I think of how I begged The Mother not to let me go into labor with four hours of sleep.  I remember withering in pain on the ground as we waited for the babysitter to arrive.  I think of crying at the thought of being too late to get epidural and the relief to get it.  I think of how the baby arrived only because I was too stubborn and willful for my own good.  I remember crying as I held Tornado S for the first time.  I remember how I wanted just to stare at him, how I felt awake and alive even though I was so very, very tired.

Four years have passed with laughter and tears, smiles and frowns, triumphs and disappointments.  Each day I marvel at this child that is mine who is so different from me and his father and his brother.  Every day I am grateful he is my boy.

Happy Birthday, Tornado S.

(If you’re bored, here’s Tornado S’s birth story.)

What did you want?


May 16, 2011

Tornado E asked for a gun.

What the hell?


We were driving home from my parents’ house, and Tornado E was investigating Tornado S’s new squirt gun from The Friendly Giant, aka the favorite uncle, for Tornado S’s birthday.

Tornado E: Mommy, I think you can give me a gun.

Me: Um, ok.

Tornado E: I want a gun.  A real one.  Because they’re easy to use.  You just put in the bullets and pull the trigger.  Can you get me one for my birthday?

What are they teaching you in that school?  First you want a cell phone, and now you want a gun.

 Um, hell no.

Hi! My name is . . .

While we were admiring a year’s worth of kindergarten art with other parents and grandparents, the kindergartners themselves and their siblings were taking turns hitting the snack tables or running around going berserk in the desert.  As I held Tornado A, admiring my son’s budding talent, I watched Tornado S go up to one of Tornado E’s teachers.

Tornado S: (Sticking out his hand)  Hi!  My name is Tornado S . . ny!

The teacher: (bending down to talk to Tornado S and shake his hand) Hi, Tornado S-ny. I’m Mrs. C.  But we’ve met before.  I see you ever morning.

Tornado S: (Looks at her funny) No, you don’t.  I have a brother.  His name is Tornado E.

The teacher: I know.  I teach Tornado E.  Which is why I see you every morning.

Tornado S: (shakes his head as in to say, “you,poor, sad, confused woman, I’m so sorry for your plight”) No, you don’t.

Tornado S walked away, shaking his head.  The teacher got up and made eye contact with me.

I shrugged, held up my plastic glass, and said, “Good juice.”

Life ain’t easy when you’re the third child

Being the third child is tough.  Just ask my baby brother.  He’ll tell you how he was left ALL THE TIME at school.  (Um, once.  And Mom has forgotten to pick up each individual child at least once.)  He’ll tell you how I was the favorite because Mom bought me all kinds of things.  (But I’ll tell you that he got to go out to eat more than I ever did.)  He’ll tell you how our other brother was the favorite because he got to do more.  (Usually because the other brother figured it was better to beg forgiveness than ask permission or just assume he had permission.)  Yup, life is rough on a third child.

Ask him about how he was left at a casino.

“I got up to go to the bathroom, and when I returned, they. Were. Gone.  The whole table!  I looked everywhere for them.  But they left me. They came back after like a half hour.  They were always doing that.”

In reality, he went to the bathroom and never came back.  We assume he didn’t go far enough into the restaurant to see us.  After ten minutes, Dad was dispatched to find my baby brother.  Dad returned to say my baby brother wasn’t there.  The other brother was to wait at the table.  My cousin and I were sent to go to the car and come back.  My parents, aunt, and uncle split up to search the place.  Someone found him after twenty minutes. 

If you heard the story from his own lips, he would say it with such sorrow that you would assume he was a small, impressionable child, scarred by the cruelty of unthoughtful parents.  He was twelve.  Hell, I wandered away when I was two in Vegas.  No emotional scars here.

But no matter, he was a good kid.  And a great guy.  Today he turns 27.

And two days ago was this conversation:

Mom: Your brother’s birthday is Wednesday.  You need to do something nice for him because your dad is out of town and I have chemo.

Me: No problem.

The other brother: Yeah, Fae.  I got the perfect gift if you want to split it.  He’s what turning 25?

Me: Um, crap, no.

Mom: He’s turning 27. 

Me: He can’t be that old.

The other brother: Really?  27?  Wait!  Hey, K (his wife), you’re not turning 27, are you?

Me: (sigh)

So Happy Birthday, baby brother.  (Even if you’ll never read this.)

(And I would insert a baby picture with his proud big sister holding him, except for this.  Oops)

Creating a little magic

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.  Sort of.  I wasn’t grumpy.  Just blah.  Everything had a negative outlook to it.

My head was filled with dark thoughts that I couldn’t shake.  Even after I meditated.  Even after I played my songs for just this kind of an emergency.  Even after a little bit of chocolate.  Just blah.

Then it took forever to get the boys dressed and ready to go.  And I couldn’t find my sunglasses.  And I had to threaten to get them in the car. And I forgot the coupons I needed.  And no, you may not have any juice.  We were done with one of the errands when I realized I didn’t have my receipt to pick up my pictures.  I drove back to the house.  Where is the damn receipt?  F-it.  And sure, there was no line at the bread store.  And sure, I did clean the bathrooms while waiting for the boys.  But I was blah.

Then I learned that I had waited too long to pick up my pictures, and they were gone.  And I wish I had someone to blame, but really I only had myself.  But we only found a shirt for Tornado E at the store, so we needed to go somewhere else for an Easter shirt for Tornado A.  And then the customer at the cash register was difficult with a difficult problem that took forever.  And then I had to take away our lunch plans because the boys weren’t listening.  And the boys were running around like mad.  We stopped at the fountain outside and threw coins to make wishes.  “Please give me one for the win column,” I whispered for I was feeling blah.

So the next store we found a shirt for Tornado A, and the boys sat next to the stroller like I ordered them.  We stood in a long line waiting to pay.  I noticed a tube of touchable bubbles for $2.  What the hell?  I needed something because I was feeling blah.

While we were rung up, the sweet cashier carried on a conversation with the boys.  They stood still and answered her.  She sent us a way with a smile and pocket full of change.

We returned to the fountain, and I divided the change between the boys.  I opened up the bubbles and started blowing.  Because they were the touchable type, they didn’t pop easily.  In just a few minutes the courtyard to the mall entrance was filled with bubbles.

My boys danced around, popping bubbles, laughing, dodging people.  Other children, walking with their families, stopped to pop a bubble or two and laugh.  People, coming from the parking lot, stopped and smiled before entering the mall.  Those coming out of the mall paused with surprise and amazement.  I kept filling the air with bubbles, laughing.  It was like magic.

One woman, arms full with bags, stopped and popped a bubble next to her before returning to her conversation with her friend.

A fast-walking man smiled down at the boys, when he had to dodge them as they chased their bubbles.

Tornado A squealed from his stroller, tiny hands reaching for the bubbles.

And I laughed to watch it all unfold as I kept filling the air with bubbles.

“They’re having lots of fun aren’t they.”

I turned to the voice.  A guy, dressed fashionably in goth, ear-buds hanging around his neck,  holding a smoking cigarette, smiled down at me.

“Yes, I am.  Yes, they are.”

“Would you mind if I gave them some coins for the fountains?”

“Uh, no.  Thank you.”

“Here, little dude.  Open your hand.”

He leaned down and poured coins into Tornado S’s hand.

“What do you say?” I prompted.

“Thank you.”

“Here you go, little dude.  No, open your hand.  There.”

He poured coins into Tornado E’s hand.

“What do you say?”

“Thank you.”

The guy smiled.

“Have a good day!”

“Thank you!  You too!”

He walked into the mall.

I finished off the bottle of bubbles.  Then we left, and the world seemed filled with magic and bubbles.

A typical Sunday

Where does the day start?

At 12:30 AM when I finally forced myself to bed?

At 1:20 to 3:30 Am when Tornado A was alternating screaming his head off and dozing?

At 6:15 when Tornado A was whining from his bed?

6:15 Get Tornado A out of the crib, feed him pain medication, feed him breakfast of bananas and toast that he will smear all over the high chair instead of eating.

6:25 Tornado S stumbles out.  Put out breakfast for the boys, milk and day old blueberry muffins.  Tell Tornado A to stop whining because you’ll be back.

6:30 Tornado E stumbles out.

6:45 Get Tornado A out of high chair, wipe him off.  Swallow a bowl of cereal.

7:15 Dress Tornado A.  Encourage older children to get dressed.

7:43 Save Tornado A from rocking chair.  Ask boys why they aren’t dressed.

8:00 Shower.  Dress.  Save Tornado A from mountain of stuffed animals.  Ask boys why they aren’t dressed.  Point out they can solve their own problems.

8:10 Try to bribe older boys to get dressed.

8:20 Morning nap for Aida.  Cartoons for boys.  Morning nap for me.

9:30 Tornado A is up.  So am I.  The older boys are still alive and relatively unharmed.

9:45 Make meringue cookies.  Start debating baking dessert for the week.  Ask Tornado S where his underwear is.

10:00 Save Tornado A from the rocks in the back yard.  Make him spit out the rock in his mouth.  Learn the boys have emptied the sand box and that it has water from the rain.

10:03 Strip beds.  Put sheets in the wash.

10:39 Tornado E learns to climb his bed without a ladder.

10:45 Save Tornado S from the top of his dresser.

10:46 Save Tornado A from mountain of stuffed animals.

11:00 Pizza nuked for the boys.  Cheese, raisins, hard-boiled yolks for Tornado A.

11:10 Put sheets in the dryer.  Debate doing my sheets.  Tornado A starts to whine.

11:30 Get Tornado A out of the high chair.

11:33 Remove slice of pizza from Tornado A’s hand.

11:34 Remind older boys that Tornado A will eat what they don’t.

11:45 Learn that the wagon is filled with water, sand, and mud.  And that Tornado A found it.

11:50 Learn that the older boys can survive 50s in only a shirt and underwear.

12:00 Tornado A starts loosing it.  Give Tornado A pain medication.

12:05 Tornado A’s afternoon nap.

12:15 Lunch for me.

12:30 Clean up kitchen.  Encourage boys to get dressed so they can help bake or do crafts.

12:40 Pretend I’m somewhere else.

12:45 Mess around online and look for new dessert recipes.  Older boys have a wet sand fight.

1:00 Find new recipe.

1:10 Start recipe only to hear Tornado A screaming.

1:10 Tornado A  will not be consoled.  Tornado A must be carried.

1:15 Agree to let the boys make a potion.  Obviously I was not thinking.

1:30 Bake while alternating holding Tornado A and placing him on the floor to scream.  Realize the boys are too quiet but don’t care at that moment.

2:03 Learn what making a potion really is.  Demand that boys clean up bathroom.

2:07 Try to make beds.  Hold Tornado A instead.

2:30 Take out cupcakes out of oven.  Console a screaming Tornado A.

2:45 Tornado A is content to play with a ball.  Tell boys that we’re leaving in 15 minutes.  Attempt to make beds, which makes Tornado A scream.

3:00 Tornado S is naked.  Tornado E has clothes on but no shoes.  Tornado A is screaming.

3:05 Pack up Tornado A.  Drag Tornado E to the car without shoes and tie.  Buckle him in.  Tornado S hands over underwear and pants.  Dress those clothes on Tornado S.  Buckle Tornado S in the car.

3:30 Grab rest of the clothes.  Go to parents’.

3:45 Carry Tornado S into parents’ house and hand him over.  Carry Tornado E into parents’ house and hand him over.  Carry Tornado A into parents’ house and hand him over.  Go back to car for stuff.  Debate fleeing to Mexico.

4:00 Feed Tornado A late.  Hand Tornado A back to my dad.

4:30 Read the paper.

5:15 Hand Tornado A to my mom.  Help with dinner.

5:45 Dinner.

6:25 Wonder if parents would realize if I left the boys with them.

6:45 Pack up boys.

7:00 Dress Tornado A.  Feed Tornado A.

7:15 Put Tornado A to bed.

7:20 Draw bath for boys.  Dump them in.

7:40  Bark orders to get the boys dressed for bed.

7:50 Read bedtime story, prayers, and lullaby. kisses.

8:00 Boys are officially in bed.

8:01 Crash on the couch.

9:30 Clean kitchen and great room.

10:30 Write menu, chores list, grocery list, rental list, email and bum around on the internet.

When would you say Monday starts?