Charts and stars

When my mom sent me to pre-kindergarten, she was shocked at how much the teachers had the four-year-olds do.  It changed her philosophy.  No longer did she pick up our toys.  No longer did she dress us.  No longer did she helps on and off with our coats.  She was a liberated woman.

Since she’s a convert, she’s forever telling me what my boys should be doing.  But I, like so many other moms, find it easier to just do it because it’s faster.  Oh, Tornado E, take off the underwear off your head and give it to me.  Now step in.

Of course, it is high time Tornado E started doing things on his own.  No matter how much longer it takes.  Even if getting dressed is now a whole half an hour affair.  (Thank God, we couldn’t get him into the morning class.)  No, you can’t wear pants today; it’s a 102.  You know very well both legs are in the same whole.

I reorganized his chore chart and decided that it was time to make sure Tornado E did these things on his own instead of reminding me to brush Tornado E’s teeth.  (I know.  I’m a bad mom.)  I also made Tornado S one, so that I would remember to brush his teeth too.  (Yeah, I know.)

Now Tornado E will brush his teeth, wash his face, comb his hair, actually putting on his clothes, and making his bed without any help from me.  Ok, with some minor help.  He’s supposed to do this between breakfast and playing.  Once Mommy has declared it time to get ready for the day, no more playing until it’s done.  No leaving the bedroom until it’s done.  No kung fu fighting on the bed until it is done.  I don’t care if Ti Lung doesn’t wear a shirt you have to.

I started it last week with touch and go success, but they had enough stars for a treat, but I forgot all about it.  So today I showed Tornado E his new chart with the added bed making, since I forgot last week, and I told Tornado E if he completes all his chores and gets all his stars, I would take him out for ice cream.

Not only will my mornings begin to run smoother.  (Stop chuckling; it could happen.)  But now I get to go out for ice cream on Saturday.  Win-win.

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Tornado E insisted on dressing himself.  Which was a first.  While he feels perfectly capable of picking out his own clothes (like a blue and green striped shirt with camouflage shorts), he usually doesn’t try to dress himself.  I was a little surprised.

Me: Tornado E, how did you get so big?

Tornado E: I did it all by myself.  I growed and growed until I was all big.

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And this is suppose to be my day?

I woke up at a quarter to six on Sunday at the mere thought of Tornado S standing by the bed.  He wasn’t there.  But I figure I might as well get up because we had seven am mass to attend to as it was Mother’s Day, and my mom was obligated to go to her mother’s mass, and I was obligated, unlike my brothers, to go to church with my parents.  While I had one less child to wake up and get out of bed, it also meant I had once less pair of hands to get boys in and out of the car.

For some reason God smiled at this.  I was up, fed, and dressed by the time Tornado S decided he wanted to stop reading in bed.  I had Tornado S fed and dressed by the time Tornado E woke to all the ruckus.  Tornado E was dressed and not fed, watching TV by the time we had to go.  After watching Wubzy get out of another self-created jam, I jammed the boys into their car seats, leaving a minute late, which turned into five minutes late with the lights changing to allow ghosts cars through the intersection.  Miraculously I kept my cool, since my road rage must have been sleeping in that day.

I parked at the end of the parking lot, not wanting the hassle of dealing with older drivers, who are very careful, but painfully so.  I wiped faces with the wipes, handed Tornado E the corsage for my mom, picked up Tornado S who had his hands up, saying “help me. Up pease.”  We trudged up the parking lot, getting to the front door of the church.  But surely my mom would be sitting in the back where all good Catholics sit like my grandma.  So we hoofed it on the outside of the church.  Tornado S gained a pound with every step.  Why did I feel the need to bring seven religious-oriented books plus two sketch pads plus six fruit snack bags plus two pencils plus a container of goldfish plus a carton of crayons?  Wait.  Where’s the tithe?  On the table, of course.

Tornado S spotted the blue mustang my parents owned, recognizable by the wildcat and the hummingbird on the back window.  “Papi!  Papi!  Papi’s car!”  Tornado S squirmed in my arms.

We finally get to the back door to read the sign to go around to the other side.  With a hysterical laugh, I started around the church with the little twittering of a three-year-old following me.  “Where are we going? Can’t we use that door?  Why is it broken?  How’d it get broken?  I’ve never gone this way before.  What’s that?  This ramp is steep!  I can’t make it!  Throw me a rope!  Can we go down there?  What’s down there?  Why are all these people in robes?”  Because even though the bells rang two minutes ago, they’re waiting for us to sit.

I looked through the glass doors to note that my parents had decided to sit in their usual front of the church pew.  Are you KIDDING ME?  I haul open the door.  Excuse me, priests, deacon, alter servers.  Holy water.  In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit.  NameoftheFather,Son,HolySpirit.  NameoftheFather,Son,HolySpirit.  I waved at my grandma, my aunt, and uncle as I dragged Tornado E down the side aisle to the front.  Thank God I decided to start using the spare black diaper bag instead of the usual one that would be clunking key chains all down the church.  We went down one pew to come up the middle just behind my parents.

In a harsh whisper, I asked, “Is there a reason you’re up here and not with your mother?”

“Came in the back way, did ya?” my dad asked too merrily

“Why, Thank you, Tornado E!  We go in the front entrance now.  An orchid.  How beautiful,” my mom said.  The diaper bag crashed down.  “Here, I’ll take Tornado S.”

“NO!  MY MAMA!”  Tornado S buried his face into my shoulder.

“Do you know h-” The organ began playing, cutting off my pure sarcastic complaint/question.

Then Tornado S began to sing.  He just kept singing, “Ba, ba, ba, baaaaa.”  But it was the best singing in the church.  He sang every time the music started; he answered every rhetorical question.  He was awesome.  And all was right in the world.

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Sunday Morning

Me: Come on, Evan, you have to get dressed.


Evan: I don’t want to get dressed!  I want to be naked!


Me: Don’t take off your underwear.  Everyone has to wear underwear.  Now put your arms in.


Evan: (putting the shirt on) I don’t want to get dressed!


Me: You have to.  Now sit down, so we can get your pants on.


Evan: (sitting down cross legged) I don’t want to wear pants!  I want to wear shorts!


Me: We’re going to church; you can’t wear shorts to church.


Evan: I don’t want to go to church!


Me: (As I slide the pants up his legs) We’re going to Wally’s (nickname for my best friend) church.


Evan: I don’t want-  Wally’s church?  I like Wally’s church!  I can play with toys at Wally’s church!


Me: (As I stand Evan up and pull up his pants) Yes.


Evan: I like Wally!  Wally doesn’t live in a building!  Wally lives in a movie!


Me: Oh?


Evan: Yup, Wally lives in a movie with robots!  And there is a girl robot!  And her name is EVE!


So we drove the half an hour to my friend’s church passing our Catholic church on the way, and Evan kept babbling on about Wally, Wall*e, and the toys at Wally’s church.  Sean kept singing to the radio.

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