The Awful Game of Bowling

I have probably mentioned before my dislike for bowling. I was forced to go bowling several times a week all summer long for most of my childhood. My mother is a bowler. And bowling was torturous. No bumpers. No granny rolls. We had to mind our hold, our steps, our releases. In short, I know how to bowl.

And my boys enjoying bowling. I blame my mother. She has grand schemes of bowling every week or every other week. She insisted that I sign the boys up for free bowling, which I did.

So a few days ago, we went bowling. While the boys have gone bowling with their dad several times, it became painfully obvious that no one has taught them to bowl. Then because they are my stubborn boys, they insisted they knew what they were doing and that they didn’t need any help. Sure, kid, whatever you say.

So this is the first time I have ever witnessed a ball being thrown in a way that it looks like an air hockey puck bouncing and rebouncing off the sides of bumpers. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a ball be thrown and it hit the bumpers to collapse the bumper and then slowly return to the bowler. I have never seen until that day a pin fly out 2 yards to get stuck in a bumper. I’ve never seen a pin land in a way that it shut down the lane. This was the first time I watched a ball spin half-way down a lane and then spin back to the player. I was highly perplexed.

It’s also the first time I got 3 strikes in a row.

Now my mom wants to go again.

A Battle of Wills and Water

I grew up in a competitive family. My parents played sports. My brothers and I played sports. We played board games and video games. We compete. Games are meant to be won. In fact, I have never finished a game of Monopoly because things would get heated when someone embezzle from the bank.

Lately my mother has been trying to compete with me. First it was over Duolingo. Now it is over steps. I refuse to be sucked into this. I shudder as I remember listening to my mother, her sister, and their mother compete over how many pounds they lost over the week. (Shudder.)

Today my parents, my boys, and I were swimming. I was forcing the boys to go over strokes when Tornado E decided to rebel in the middle of the deep in.

My mom: (To Tornado E) I bet you can’t tread water longer than me.

Tornado E did not know what she meant, and I have obviously failed as a mother. So I quickly taught him.

My mom: I bet I can tread water longer than your mom.

My eyebrow shot up. I have been swimming longer than I could walk. I spent my summer days in water, having the skin cancer to prove it. I have 12 swim seasons under my belt.

Me: Oh, I don’t think so. I can tread water longer than both you and Tornado E.

Tornado E: No, you won’t.

So we treaded water. I wish we had thought to time it. But it was too late before I thought about it. We treaded until Tornado E grew bored and complained about the contest.

Me: Fine. Quite. But I bet you I can outlast you.

Tornado E: How much?

Me: Five bucks; you can’t afford twenty.

Tornado E: You’re on.

We treaded more water and more. I regaled Tornado E with stories of treading water for five minutes and ten minutes. I told him in high school we would have to tread water without our hands.

Tornado E grew bored again.

Tornado E: What if I stopped and dunked you?

My mom laughed.

Me: Do not make me lose to your grandmother.

Tornado E: What if I did?

Me: How many workbook pages do you want to do over vacation?

With that, Tornado E turned and tried to attack my mom. She held him at bay with a foot out.

My Mom: Tornado A come play with Mama!

Tornado A, who had been torturing his Papi, turned to us with a devilish grin.

Me: Do NOT make me lose to your grandma!\

Tornado S looked over from his play with Papi. Both boys started swimming towards us.

Ah crap.

They swam straight for my mom, who held them off for a while. Barely. Seeing that they could not get close, Tornado A switched tactics. He climbed out of the pool and jumped in as close as he could to his grandma. The other two boys followed.

Tornado S: Ok. Guys. We should come from all different sides.

Me: Aww, they’re working together. (Stage whisper) Do it quieter?

My mom: Why are they all after me and not you?

Me: Because you’re the fun grandma.

I looked at my boys, trying to help me.

Me: You know. I don’t need your help to beat her.

Then the boys all jumped in. Tornado S distracted my mom; while, Tornado E dunked her. Tornado A swam into my arms and kissed me.

So I won.

And I have my own little minions willing to fight for me.

Timing

My father’s family is legendary for their jokes, pranks, stories. Their timing is spot on. Their ability to find a person’s flaws and insecurities is the stuff of legend. These are dominant traits, passed through the genes. The oldest of the family like my grandfather has the strongest sense of this Comedy Force. The oldest passing it to the oldest while teaching it to all the children. Until it came to me. I am teaching my sons. The boys’ senses of timing are amazing.

This morning Tornado E had a question about Boaty McBoatface that I answered with the Internet is a strange place that allows people to voice whatever is in their heads. (Please pause for a moment to let that sink in; author points up at the title of the blog. Right, moving on.) As an example of this phenomenon, I told Tornado E and my mom about the Death Star petition to the White House and President Obama’s perfect answer.

My mom looks at me, blinks.

My mom: I don’t even know what a Death Star is.

Before I could open her mouth a remind her that I was born the night after they saw The Empire Strikes Back or that now she has to watch the Star Wars marathon the boys are dying to do with the all the movies and Clone Wars episodes or that she is a part of a Star Wars family whether she likes it or not.

Tornado S: (causally walking though the kitchen) Wow. Just wow.

I point down the hall after him and mouth “That’s my kid” to my mom.

My mom: (calling after Tornado S) We can’t be experts at everything.

Meanest Grandma in the Whole World

People, I’m the meanest mom in the whole world. Just ask my tornadoes.

It’s true.

Well, sometimes. Sometimes I’m the coolest mom in the whole world.

Sometimes my mom is the meanest grandma in the whole world. You know, because she makes my tornadoes do their homework in their nicest handwriting, makes them pick up every toy, and makes them ask to turn on the TV or the Wii every time. So mean. Seriously, I don’t know if I could compete. Some days I only make them pick up most of the toys. But I totally am harder on how they speak to each other and having a taste of each food on their plate. And I don’t let them play video games or watch TV any time they want or how long they want.  I am so mean.

Naturally after one of these you’re-the-meanest-grandma-in-the-world, I had to ask.

Me: Who’s meaner? Mommy or Grandma?

Tornado E: Grandma!

Tornado S: Grandma!

Tornado A: Nana!

I gave her my oh-that’s-right-you-heard-it-here-first-I-rock face. She just gave a they’re-angry-right-now-but-just-wait-I’m-the-grandma-you’re-the-mom. And she’s right. She can trump my mom card any day. I have to be mean. She can spoil them if she chooses.

But I will not be brought down in my victory by mere facts and accurate guesses.

I’m cooler than my mom. I’m a cooler mom than their grandma.

So I had to brag to my dad and tell him the whole story when he got home. As it happens, I told him in front of the boys.

Papi: Who would be Darth Vader? Grandma, your mommy, or me?

Tornado E: Grandma!

Tornado S: Grandma!

Tornado A: Nana!

My dad and I exchanged smug looks. My mom rolled her eyes.

Papi: Ok. Who would be Luke Skywalker? Your mommy or me?

Tornado E: Mommy!

Tornado S: Papi!

Tornado A: Mommy!

My dad and I exchanged looks.

Papi: Ok. Who would be Han Solo? Your mommy or me?

Tornado E: Papi!

Tornado S: Mommy!

Tornado A: Papi!

Me: (to my dad) I really don’t know what to make of that. But at least I’m not a Sith Lord.

It’s all about love

On the phone.

Me: So I’m running a few errands, going to some stores.  Do you want to come?

My Mom: No.  I think I’ll stay home.

See, I have reason to believe my Mom is depressed.  She hates being at home all day.  She likes going out. but not alone.  Sometimes it takes her days to work up the energy to go anywhere alone.  I do everything alone with the boys because if I didn’t, it wouldn’t get done.  So I always invite my Mom.

My Mom: If you want, you can leave the boys here.

Me: If you would like me to.

As many of us have learned, kids slow you down by half when running errands.  But we had spent all day at her house yesterday as I did laundry because I still don’t have a washing machine.

My Mom: Ask the boys.

Me: They will say yes.  They love you.

They will.  They do.

Me: Tornado S, do you want to go shopping with Mommy or stay with Grandma?

Tornado S: Stay with Grandma!  I stay with Grandma, and Tornado E stays with Grandma!

Me: Tornado E, do you want to stay with Grandma or go shopping with me?

Tornado E: Stay with Grandma!  AND I love her!

Tornado S: I love her more than you do, Tornado E!

Tornado E: (pause) Well, I love her more than Mommy does!

Me: (into the phone) Are you sure you want them?

Picking a favorite relative

Tornado E: Mommy, when you were a little girl, you didn’t have me.  You had to get older and become a grown up first.  Then you had Tornado S and me and Tornado A.

Me: That’s right.

Tornado E: And Grandma is older than you?

Me: Yes.

Tornado E: Is Grandma S older than Grandma?

Me: Yes, she is.

Tornado E: Is Grandma S older than Papi?

Me: Yes, she is.

Tornado E: Is Grandma S older than Papa?

Me: Um, I don’t think so.

Tornado E: Is Papa older than Grandma?

Me: Yes.

Tornado E: Is Papa older than Papi?

Me: Yes.

Tornado E: Is Papa older than Grandma-Great?

Me: No.

Tornado E: Oh.  Grandma-Great is older than Papi and Grandma?

Me: Yes, she is.

Tornado E: Is Grandma-Great older than Grandma S?

Me: Yes.

Tornado E: Ok.  Grandma-Great is my favorite!  Do you know why?

Me: No.

Tornado E: Because she’s the oldest!

Well, I guess that’s one way to pick your favorite relative.  Grandma-Great, please come by and pick up your prize; you get to enjoy the company of your great-grandchildren at no extra charge. Don’t you want to spend time with the people who dubbed you the favorite?

Jokes Go Awry

Lately the boys have tried to go on strike.  They don’t want to go swimming.  It’s 103 out there, and my boys don’t want to go swimming.  That is unacceptable in my household or, more to the point, in my parents’ household.  If I go swimming, they have to too because I’m not watching them.

Luckily now that my mom is a grandmother and closer to the end, she believes in bribery.  “Who wants a popsicle?  Ok, well, let’s get in our swimsuits so they don’t drip on our pirate clothes.  Ok, let’s go outside and put our feet in the pool while we eat.  Won’t that be fun?”

Yeah, I know.  It’s were I get my evil genius from.  Ok, my dad can be pretty evil too.

Grandma, Tornado S, and Tornado E sat on the edge of the pool eating Popsicles with their feet resting on the first step.  It didn’t take long before both boys were sitting on the top step, enjoying their Popsicles.  Eventually Tornado E finished his and was playing in the pool with me.  Papi teased Tornado S trying to nab a bite of Popsicle like a walrus trying to get a piece of fish from a trainer.  (Hmm, that was quite an applicable description.  Not to self: must tell Mom.)

Fearing for the safety of his Popsicle, Tornado S hid it behind his back.  Being an evil genius himself, it dawned on Tornado S that he could just hide it in the water.  He popped it out of the water to wave it in Papi’s face.  Tornado S was shocked to find the Popsicle had shrunk.  Papi and I laughed.

Tornado S laughed with us and stuck the Popsicle back into the water.  He pulled it out to wave it at Papi.

We became distracted by Tornado E running and jumping into the pool.  We looked back to see Tornado S had hid his Popsicle under the water again.

He pulled it out and went to take a bite.  His eyes grew big as he looked at just a stick.  He looked at us with his eyes saying, WTF, Mommy?  Where’d it go?

If we wanted to risk drowning, we would have been rolling with laughter.  Instead, Papi and I held on to the sides of the pool, wiping our tears away.

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Learning new words

I’m going to be called in to the principal’s office later this year.  I know it.

I recently found out that Tornado E was calling his Papi “jerk” as a term of endearment.  Apparently, Tornado E heard his grandma calling Papi that and automatically assumed it was a pet name.  That it is for my mom is not the issue.  The fact is my son has learned the word jerk.

Ms. Principal, I would like to introduce my mother, who is responsible for Tornado E’s language.

To make matters worse, I caught Tornado E saying the f-word.  He was upset, and it popped out of his mouth.  The world went silent as my brain try to understand what exactly happened.

When I finally recovered my wits, I took Tornado E aside and explained how that was a bad word, that we have so many good words to use that we didn’t need to say it, and how we should never use words we don’t know what they mean.

Last weekend, Tornado E told us that his daddy wasn’t nice.

The Husband was hurt by this and wanted to know why.  I can list off a whole list of broken promises, refusals on childish demands, the rare spankings.

Tornado E told us in his quietest voice that Daddy wasn’t nice because he said f-.

While my husband sat there astonished by the turn of events, I was ecstatic.  Tornado E understood that using that word was a poor choice.

Then Tornado E used it yesterday.

Ms. Principal, I would like to introduce the boy’s father, who is responsible for Tornado E’s colorful language.

Last weekend we were at an adult party, which we stopped in for an hour with the kids because we had no babysitter in CA.  The boys amused the adults with songs, conversations, and games.

As I talked to another woman, Tornado S pointed to a dog figurine and said “A damn dog!”

Crap.

I tried to ignore it, hoping that he spoke in toddler-speak.

Instead, the woman looked at me and asked, “Did he just say what I thought he said?”

I nodded.

She, being a mother as well, nodded and said, “The Husband.”

Not ten minutes later, Tornado E said, “Where’s the damn ball?”

Double crap.

Another discussion of bad words versus good words.

Maybe I should just send The Husband to explain the language problem.

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A Few Choice Tornado E Stories

Tornado E is no longer concerned with the day I lost my keys down the toilet. Here are his NEW favorite stories.

Tornado E: Remember when we were swimming with Papi. And Papi yelled “Bee on you! Bee on you! Bee on you!” And Grandma jumped in the water. Why did she do that?

Me: Because she didn’t want to get stung. She didn’t know where the bee was.

Tornado E: Oh.

Tornado E: Remember when we were at the McDonald’s without the slide. And Papi took me to go potty. And I went pee. And Papi said, “Boy, you pee a lot.” Why did he say that?

Me: Because you do pee a lot.

Tornado E: No, I think he was teasing.

Tornado E: Remember when I threw up on Daddy the other day. It was a lot of throw up. It got all over us. And Daddy was yelling, “Mommy! Mommy!” (Pause, reflecting on the name Daddy actually used.) “Faemom! Faemom! Faemom!” He was funny. Why’d he say that?

Me: Because that’s my name and Daddy needed help.

Tornado E: No. You’re Mommy.

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Tornado E’s ABC’s

During naptime, my mom and I made petit fours for the bridal shower for my soon-to-be sister-in-law.  We left a few pieces of pound cake out for the boys, who were quite content to nibble on them with juice.  Until . . . .

Tornado E: Grandma!  Look!  What are these?!  (Notice he went for the easy sale.)

My mom: Those are petit fours.  They-

Tornado E: Grandma!  Can I have one?! Please?!

My mom: No, Tornado E.  They’re for Aunt K’s party tomorrow.

Tornado E: But I want one!  Please?!

My mom: We’ll try save you one for after the party.

Tornado E: How about I have one now and save the rest for the party?

My mom: (Counts the petit fours.  To me) There is one extra.  (Tornado E puts on his sweetest look. To me)  We have an extra yellow one.

Tornado E: Grandma!  I love the color yellow!  It’s my favorite!  It’s the color of fire!  (I’m quite sure his favorite color is red for the same reason.)

Grandma: (Handing Tornado E a yellow petit four) That’s the only one you get.

My boy knows and uses his ABC’s.  Always Be Closing.

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