It’s just a book

Of all the things I want for gifts, the one I ask for, the one that means the most to me, is for someone to take my boys shopping for me. Show them we buy gifts for the people we love. Show them that we remember special days for the people we love. Show them how to think and empathize with people we love. Buying gifts is a skill. Remembering important days of your love one is love.

My mother likes to give practical gifts. My dad likes to give gifts that will make the person happy. He has been taking the lead gift giving with the boys the last couple of times. For Mother’s Day, the boys and my dad got me a cool Wonder Woman picture.

So my parents took the boys shopping form birthday. Tornado E found a Star Wars gift but abandoned that for a Star Wars movie. Tornado S decided to give me the Star Wars gift. Tornado A walked into the book aisle and brought my dad a book.

Tornado A: (Smiling from ear to ear) We should get Mama this book! (Holds up the book)

Papi: (looks at the book with Donald Trump on the cover) I don’t think your mama will like that book. She isn’t a big fan of Trump.

Tornado A smiled bigger and nodded.

Papi: No prank gifts.

Tornado A sighed and marched back to the aisle. He came running back with a Star Wars book.

Prank gift giving in second grade. That kid is mine.

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.

Belief, Lies, Turth, and My Dad

Friday my dad explained the park where the boys would be playing their soccer games at.  Though I grew up here, I didn’t explore the city much until now that I’m older with a family.  My dad was a police officer for 30 years.  He knows the city like the back of his hands.  As it so happens, the park was in one of his old beats.  He explained it would take me only 20 minutes to get there, but my dad has some super power of bending space and time because he can get anywhere in the city within 20 minutes.  It’s just not possible for ordinary humans.

My dad turned to Tornado E and rubbed his head.  “Sorry, little guy, but there isn’t a snack bar.”

Tornado E moaned.

We laughed


We finally made it to the park, just 5 minutes late.  God, I hate being late.

Tornado E: Mommy!  Can we get something at the snack bar?

Me: No.  You heard what Papi said.  They don’t have a snack bar here.

Tornado E: But you taught me never to believe Papi.

Uh.  Yes.  Yes, I did.  To help you learn that Papi jokes, teases, tells stories, lies all to catch you up.  It’s in his blood, like it is in ours, little dude.


Me: Yes.  I should amend that.  Believe Papi half the time.  When it comes to our city, believe him.

Maybe.  Sort of.  He’ll make up stories about places.

Me: When he’s giving your directions and describing the area, believe him.  He was a cop for 30 years.  He won’t steer you wrong on that stuff.

Other stuff?  Yes, most definitely.

Pool vs Bathroom

I had to get out of the pool.

Tornado S: Mommy!  Where are you going?!

Me: I have to go to the bathroom.

The boys just looked at me.

Me: Because I don’t pee in the pool.  Like some people.

Tornado E and Tornado S started giggling like the little mad men that they are.  Tornado A joined in.  Just as I thought.

Me: You shouldn’t pee in the pool.  It’s gross.  Very, very gross.

I spit that pool water out like a fountain.  (Last summer: Wally: God, are you like ten?  Me: {spitting again.}  Maybe.  It’s possible.  Wally: How do you do that?  Me: {spitting again} Practice.  Come on; you did water polo; you lived in California; you had to be the pool all the time.  Like me.  Wally: I didn’t learn to do that.  Me: {spitting again} That’s too bad.  {I did a somersault.}  Can you do this?  {I cupped water and shot it out of my hand.}  Wally: {in a jealous tone)}No!  Tornado E: Mommy is awesome!)

The boys kept giggling.  Tornado E had a devious look on his face.  Damn.  It must have been recently.

My Dad: Boys, you better be careful.  You pee in a pool too often, and your winky will turn purple.

Winky?  Winky?  Really?  Dad, come on.  Penis.  It’s a penis.

I raised an eyebrow.  My dad shot me a look.  I kept my mouth shut.

Tornado E and Tornado S: Really?

My Dad: (like a sage) Yes.

Tornado E: COOL!

Yeah.  That’s my boy.

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?

Toy of Destruction

I like buying toys for people.  Not just kids, but people.  I have a long-held belief that everyone loves toys and wish to have an excuse to play like they did as children.  Some people appreciate this; some think it’s pretty weird.  Obviously I buy more toys for the people who appreciate this unique belief of mine.  Like my dad.

Some time in high school, I started buying my dad police toys for Christmas.  Not every Christmas, just every other one.  I would find the most interesting, possibly loudest police toy I could find and present it to my dad.  He in return would take it to the obvious to annoy people when he needed a laugh.  It worked out well.

Until I had boys.

Until my dad retired.

Bringing home all those loud cop toys.

The first one was a motorcycle with lights and sound, even drove by itself, that my dad “accidentally” left at my house.  “But my grandsons enjoy it so much.”  Um, thanks.

Then yesterday my dad showed Tornado E a police car that activated with a clicker or any loud noise.  The thing would turn on its lights and siren and drive in some random direction.  If it was stuck on something when activated, it would just go backwards.  Another click or loud noise, the car shuts down.  Very clever little toy.  Except ANY loud noise activates it.

Any loud noise.  Like a clap.  A snap.  A stomp.  A yell.  A song.  Talking. TV.  A YELL.

And sometimes it doesn’t go off.  It just goes and goes and goes and goes.

I’ll tell you one thing.  It’s going back to Grandma and Papi’s.

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Role Models

I was scrambling eggs as Tornado E watched.

Tornado E: Mommy!  I want to be like Papi!  I’m going to grow as tall as Papi!  I’m going to have a big, fat tummy like Papi!  I’m going to like the same football team as Papi!  The Dallas Cowboys!

Ah teaching moment about obesity.

Me:  That’s wonderful Tornado E!  You can be whatever you want to be.  But it’s not good to be fat.

Tornado E: But Papi is!

Me: Well, yes.  But we want Papi to lose some weight because it’s not healthy for him.  We should play more sports with him.

Tornado E: So I’ll go on a diet with Papi.  Then we can have big, fat tummies together!

OK.  Not the best teaching moment.  Just let it go.

Two hours later I was telling the story to The Husband.

Tornado E: No, Mommy!  I want to be like Uncle M!  I’m going to grow as big as Uncle M!  Because I want to be big enough to get the lollipops down!  (When he visits our house, my brother likes to tease the boys by putting the lollipop container on a shelf that only he at 6’5” can reach.)  Then I can go to work and be able to buy anything my heart wants!

Me: That’s a good plan.

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Career Decision

The Husband: So, Tornado E, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Tornado E: A police officer!

The Husband: Why?

Tornado E: Because that’s what Papi did, and I want to be just like Papi!

The Husband: Do you know what Daddy does?

Really, you think working on the computer and talking on the phone all day is going to interest a four-year-old who has been in a police car and looked at the uniform?  Yeah.  Me neither.

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Pool Adventures

Stupid thing didn’t post and I swear I checked it!

I wish I had more pictures.  I wish Vista didn’t hold our picture program hostage.  I wish I had my laptop fixed, so I could show you.  Tornado E has a great impression of a hammerhead shark.  Swimming.  In water.

He holds one leg and uses his other leg and arm to swim underwater three yards.  It’s hilarious.  It’s amazing.

Tornado E started out the summer refusing to put his head into the water.  He believed he would be just fine hand crawling along the pool wall.  He wouldn’t hold his breath underwater.  He screamed if you tried to make him jump off the wall to you.  And I couldn’t get him into the city swim lessons.

As I’ve said before, I taught him to swim.  We went to my parents’ house every day, and I worked with him.

Tornado E and Papi also have an imitation of a great white, where my dad spins Tornado E under the water and then throws him out into the air.  Yup, my family loves swimming tricks.

Last week Tornado E followed Uncle M’s example and leaped from the diving board!

My son jumped off the diving board into the deep end and swam to the side.  We just stood there, staring, until we remembered to clap and cheer.  My dad has forbidden the term “deep end” because he believes Tornado E doesn’t really understand how deep the pool.

To emulate his uncle more, Tornado E takes a running start and does a “cannon ball.”  He has yet to understand or have the ability to grab his legs to make a ball, but he kneels.  All this while he shouts “cannon ball” from the top of his lungs.

Not to be out done, Tornado S too has his own cannon ball.  He climbs out of the pool at the steps.  He runs around the whole pool.  Then he shouts “cannon ball.”  He turns around and slowly climbs back into the pool, landing on the top step.

We’re winding down pool season here, or at least, we’re considering putting on the cover.  It’s in the mid to high 90s here, but the night is getting down to the high 60s, making for one chilly pool.

Yesterday I had resigned myself to failing at teaching Tornado S ANY swim safety.  Ok, he does blow bubbles, but that’s it.  After an hour of convincing Tornado E to pick up the Lincoln Logs he spilled all over my parents’ family room, Tornado E ran out to finally join his brother and Papi in the pool.  I walked out to have my dad show me what he was working on with Tornado S.

Tornado S can now crawl along the wall.  Only left to right, but it’s still progress.  Next year he’ll be swimming.

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At the Check Out

It was like every other Monday, packing the kids in the car to go grocery shopping. I reminded the boys that we couldn’t take the car cart because of the last time. They helped select fruit and bread. Tornado E danced among the aisles, and Tornado S took turns in the cart, in the seat, and out of the cart. They handled themselves pretty well, even though I though Tornado S was trying to knock over a jar of pasta sauce. I never want to experience the shame of telling costumer service about the mess my child made again.

We made it to the end. We were stuck behind two people with large baskets, but at least one was in the middle of checking out. I tend not to get anxious over waiting because I Always pick the wrong line. But a cashier took pity on me as I herded the boys away from the candy, the magazines, and the soda, asking me to follow her as she opened a lane. But the boys were ogling the soda in front of the cart; while three shoppers jumped at the new lane. I shrugged and told the woman behind me to go when she asked if I needed help. Now there was just one person in front in the middle of checking out. The woman behind me commented on how rude the cashier was not to make sure I got into the new lane. Oh, well.

I started to unpack the cart, using two hands, hoping to cram everything on quickly. The boys were still admiring the cold soda at the end cap. I was putting down the cheese and tortillas when a large man ran by, grabbing Tornado S.

My heart stopped. My eyes widened. I was a yard away from my baby. My momentum moved forward.

Then I realized neither Tornado E nor Tornado S screamed. I recognized that large back and those brown and grey curls.

“Hi, Dad. What are you doing here?”

“Your brother finally picked a type of cake for the reception on Saturday. Your mom was right behind me.”

“T. Stay with your daughter and help her watch the boys while I get the stuff I need. Fae, do you know if I’m out of milk?” my mom yelled as she strolled by us.

My heart had returned to normal. It’s not like kidnappers actually do a run-by-napping. They would lure the child away. But still. My baby was too far away from me to help. That’s frightening to me to think I won’t always be there to protect him, to shield him, to kick someone’s ass if needed. I’m not a superhero. But I wish I was.

Of course, I’ll never admit how scared I was to my dad. He’d only exploit that.  He’ll probably get me one of these signs.  You know: Caution, Kidnappers at Work.

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