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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It’s all better

The Husband was wrestling in our bed with the boys.  A favorite past time, that I willingly forgo.  A girl can only evade a broken nose for so long before she’s over the game.  I took the time to catch-up on the many blogs I missed last week.  (If I haven’t made it to you, I’m working on it.)

As I enjoyed my moments of peace, listening to the sounds of tigers fighting, Tornado S walked into the room.  He didn’t seem to notice me.  He put on a construction hat, pulled out the tools, and went to work on a boat.  He hammered; he drilled; he screwed; he had no idea what to do with the clamp.  All the while he sang.

“It’s all better.  It’s all better.  It’s all better.”

It dawned on me how fast he was growing.  How sweet he was growing.  How smart he was growing.  How creative he was growing.  He’s not a baby any more.

Well, he told me that last week out of the blue.

“Mommy!  I no baby!”

I know.  That’s why I got one on the way, big boy.

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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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Could it be the Binkie Fairy?

Last week something miraculous, magical, momentous happened at our household last week.  With all the hurrah with Sean’s birthday, I just forgot to write about it.  Or maybe I was just holding my breath because it didn’t seem real.

Last week Evan told us the Binkie Fairy was coming in three days to take his binkies to another baby boy who needed them.

We stared at him like he had grown a third head.  Then we jumped and said yes, you’re right.  The Binkie Fairy is coming!

Now let me admit my big mommy secret, my mommy mistake.  Evan turns four in July and up to last week he was still using his pacifier.  We had thought about taking it away time and again throughout his young life.  When he started to talk, we played dumb, not understanding what he was saying until he took out the pacifier to speak.  When he was two and half, I wouldn’t let him have it until he was going to sleep.  I had read somewhere that as long as the child only used it at sleeping times, the pacifier could be left to the last habit to break, after the bottle weaning, after potty training, and after we got the little sneak to sleep in his bed all night. 

Seeing that Evan had only recently started sleeping in his bed all night for the last week and half, I wasn’t going to push the pacifier issue for another month or two.  But then last week, he told us the Binkie Fairy was coming.  We jumped on it, encouraging it every day.

Who is the Binkie Fairy?  Why, she’s the cousin to the Tooth Fairy.  The Binkie Fairy comes and takes binkies from big girls and boys, who don’t need them any more, and gives them to little babies who need them.

I settled on this myth months ago, mentioning it every now and again to Evan.  I almost did it in December, but I reread that article about pacifier usage in older toddlers.  I didn’t like the idea of tying a pacifier to a balloon because I worried about the trash laying somewhere or some animal choking on the dead balloon.  The thought of letting Evan hand his spit-covered pacifier to someone at the toy store made me cringe for that unlucky cashier.  One friend told me she just cut the ends of the pacifiers and her daughter tossed the broken ones, but we have another little guy with pacifiers that Evan would just gravitate to.  Yup, it had to be partially Evan’s idea.

For three nights, we reminded Evan of the Binkie Fairy.  Evan was convinced was getting another robot to go with the one he got for sleeping all night in his bed.  He told us all about this robot and how he was a big boy now.

So on the big day, I rushed over to Toys ‘R’ Us and got him another robot.  I reminded him at naptime that it was the last time he would have his binkie.  That night I had Evan decorate a bag with stickers to put outside his room with his binkie.  When he was asleep, I threw out the binkies in the big trashcan and stuffed the bag with the robot toy and lots of shredded tissue paper.

The next morning, Evan woke up groggy and came out to watch cartoons with Sean and me.  I reminded Evan of the Binkie Fairy.  I grabbed my camera and hopped over the stumbling Evan.  I snapped pictures as Evan pulled out gobs and gobs of tissue paper.  Sean started to throw it around, but who cares when there’s magic in the air.  Then Evan found the robot and was overjoyed showing his equally groggy Daddy.  Hurray!

Then naptime came. And Evan did not sleep. Instead, he called for me every fifteen minute. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy! Mama! Moooommmmm-mmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyy! Until I came to find out why he was calling me. I need some water. I need some books. I need more books. I have too many books. Can I get out now? Can I be done now? Is naptime over? Where are my toys? SSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AAAAAAAAAhhhhhhhh! For two hours! Until Sean was awoken by the commotion. Until I was ready to pull my hair out!

Because Evan still needed the nap, around six o’clock, he became grumpy, difficult, a pain in the rear.  That night it took an hour to get him to sleep with much the same procedures as naptime, only he added hunger pains because he decided to go on a hunger strike.  Awesome.  If you would only eat!

Then the naptime and next bedtime were much the same.  By Saturday night, I was ready to kill something, anything.  I never knew how important their naptime was to my sanity.  I was at my wits end.  I think I even had a tick.

Sunday was the day of Sean’s birthday party, which was being thrown at my parents’ house because it is so much larger than the tiny hut we have now.  Since the party was in the afternoon and that I felt bad for throwing it at someone else’s house, I went early to help clean.  Because we were there early, the boys napped at my parents’ house.  Since the beloved Papi was there, Evan demanded story time from Papi.  Being that Papi has twenty-five more years of parenting experience than I do, he put Evan in a different room from Sean, placing a fan to blow into Evan’s face, forcing Evan’s eyes to close as Papi read him a story.  The Papi kissed him and told Evan that he needed to get some rest before the party.

“Ok, Papi.  I think I’ll dream about noodles,” Evan said before he slipped into sleep.

Since then peace has been restored.  And Evan does not talk about the binkie.  Now he talks about the Tooth Fairy coming next week.

Nothing like the smell of magic in the morning

Nothing like the smell of magic in the morning

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And the walls came down

She’s doing it again.

 

“You want to fold it like this.  If you hold it like this, it’ll go more smoothly.”

 

I CAN DO THIS.  I can do this WITHOUT your help.  WITHOUT your judging.  WITHOUT your criticisms.

 

And I remember. . . .

—–

 

She’s judging me again.  I can never remember seven times eight.  T always does, and he’s younger.  Now she’ll see I’m crying because I can’t remember and we went over this a hundred times.  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I don’t know.

 

—–

 

I know this.  I know this.  I know this.  C-O-N-S-I- That’s not right!  I can see it in her face.  I misspelled it AGAIN.  Why am I so stupid?  I’m tired.  I want to go to bed.  I don’t want to stand here and spell out the words AGAIN.  Stupid tears.  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I don’t know.

 

—–

 

Damnit.  Why does she have to judge me?  I did it right.  Sort of.  Why can’t she just let me do it my way?  I just want to finish it.  Stupid badge.  If she wasn’t the leader, it wouldn’t matter if it was perfect or not.  I’m listening.  Can’t you tell?  I thought I did it right.  I did it the way she told me to.  Don’t cry.  Don’t you dare cry.  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I don’t know.

 

—–

 

I’m trying!  I can’t get this.  I don’t care how I got the right answer.  I got it.  Stupid math.  I’m not like her.  I’m not good at math.  I’m not going to work during the school year like you.  I’ve got too much to do.  No, I don’t get it.  No, I don’t want to go to school early AGAIN because I need help.  Why do you care any way?  It’s late.  I’m tired.  I don’t get it.  It’s stupid.  Now, I need to wipe my eyes.  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I don’t know.

 

—–

 

I KNOW!!!  I went yesterday and today!  I don’t know why I can’t get a job!  There are no more openings. Why are you so mad?  I’m trying! I failed!  I know I did.  I know I can’t stay in school if I don’t get a job.  Yes.  I mean no I don’t want to come home.  Don’t you realize yet, woman, that I miss you and you’re wasting our twenty minutes yelling at me.  Yes, I called them twice.  I don’t know why I call.  I don’t know why I have to cry every time we talk.  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I don’t know.

 

—–

 

Before I got defensive, before I raised my walls, before I stopped listening, I noticed how my mom held the blanket I was trying to hem.  I listened to her voice.  I really listened and realized she wasn’t judging or criticizing.  She was trying to show me the best way.  I’m not a kid any more, so I swallowed my pride and laughed at my mistake.

 

“Thanks, Mom.  I think I got it now.”

 

 

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1.2.3.4. I declare sibling war.

It happened.  It finally happened.  Ok, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. 

 

Last weekend we were visiting some friends, and in their backyard was a swing set with a slide.  The boys were so excited to play with it.  Eventually Evan discovered a new game o0f rolling cars down the slide to Sean who laughed with glee, giving me the car to hand back to Evan to start the process all over again.   Evan kept in his other hand a purple Halloween flashlight that he found and wanted to carry around the house.  So after a dozen times of rolling down the car, Evan realized that the flashlight was round like wheels.  Let’s see what happens.

 

Success.  The flashlight rolled perfectly into Sean’s waiting hands, but rather than hand the flashlight to Mommy, Sean’s chubby hands closed around the flashlight.  Then Sean turned and started pumping those thick legs for all they were worthy.  Evan let out a cry and threw himself down the slide.  This is bad.

 

Since my legs are longer than the boys are tall, I shot past Evan with ease.  Sean had the element of surprise even though he still has that waddle run with his arms pumping side to side.  I caught up to him before he rounded the pool, shouting to Evan to let Mommy handle this.  I grabbed Sean and set him down, kneeling to look eye to eye. 

 

“Evan was playing with this.  This is Evan’s toy.  When he is done with it, you can play with it.  Now give it to Mommy.”

 

I know the only reason Sean wanted it was because Evan had it.  I pried the flashlight out of Sean’s fingers.  I handed it to Evan.  Sean’s hand shot out and grabbed the flashlight.  They tug-a-war-ed it.  I grabbed Sean, pulling him off the flashlight.  Sean wailed as though his puppy died.  Then I carried him inside and dumped him into my husband’s lap.

 

“What’s wrong, Sean,” asked my husband.

 

“He’s acting like a second born.”

 

***

I shouldn’t have been so surprised.  Maybe I should have been surprised over how long they were friends.  According to family legend my brother and I declared war much earlier on.

 

I was sitting, watching TV, holding my Teddy, sucking on my pacifier, minding my own business.  When my brother, my non-sucking pacifier brother, crawled over, he took the pacifier out of my mouth and crawled away.  When he was safely past arms length, he sat down, waved the pacifier in my direction to make sure I knew he had it, and stuck it in his mouth.  Are you kidding me?!  And I did what any toddler would do.  I started to cry.  And plot revenge.

 

And then it was a free for all after that.  Little moon-shape scars from fingernails.  Clumps of hair pulled from the root.  Barbie doll heads, hot wheel wheels, broken banks, broken toys.  Lies, blaming, tattling, arguments.  Wrestling matches that went on hours after the favorite TV show was over and unwatched.  A malignant hate that spread amongst the three of us in all consuming war that finally cumulated to the devastating head of-

 

Actually we eventually grew out of it in our late teens, early twenties, and we actually call one another and hang out.  It’s weird.  Of course, the minute the parents leave us alone with the TV and remote, we start arguing again.

 

***

 

So now whatever Evan has, Sean must have  it NOW.  If Evan is eating something, even if Sean has his own or already ate his own, he must have Evan’s NOW.  Not that Evan doesn’t just run by to hit, push, kick Sean whenever he gets the urge.  You can actually see it in Evan’s eyes when he’s decided to do something to Sean.

 

The other day, Sean bent down to examine something on the ground.  Evan took the opportunity to go behind Sean and start kicking him in the bum.  Sean was as unmoved as a rock.  I was horrified, and Evan spent sometime in the time out chair.

 

Or the day when Evan refused to nap and fell asleep on the couch watching football with his dad.  Out of nowhere, Sean came over and just started wailing on Evan, who slept through the whole thing.  We would scold Sean and distract him, but two minutes later he’s getting in his blows.  Hey, show some respect.  At least, do it when your parents aren’t watching!

 

So I’m knee deep in sibling rivalry.  Part of it’s my fault because I can’t seem to remember to buy two of everything.  Why the hell didn’t I buy two Wall*e’s.  And Bill Cosby may be right; eventually I won’t care about justice, just peace.

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Bye-bye, bra-bra

 

For many months now Sean has called Evan with great affection “ba-ba” or “bra-bra,” depending on if Sean could twist his tongue around the “r” sound.  Obviously Sean has been calling Evan “brother.”

 

But last week Sean has dropped his “ba-ba” (or “bra-bra”) and started using the most grown-up and appropriate term, “Evan.”

 

Now when Sean calls Evan, it’s “Evan,” not “bra-bra,” which Evan never answered to any ways.  Not that Evan answers to “Evan” either, but you do have a slightly better chance than calling him “hey you.”

 

Now when Sean sees a picture of Evan, he says “Evan” as he points, and the crowd went wild over this new development.  Instead of Mommy gleefully exclaiming, “You’re right; brother,” Papi and Grandma excitedly said, “You’re right; Evan.  Let’s try again, and give you a cookie.”

 

So now I mourn the thought of my baby growing up, wishing he could stay cuddly and young.  But of course, “no” can mean “yes” and “peease” can mean anything from juice to green beans to “pick me up” to “I want that toy that’s thirty feet over there.”

 

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The View of Siblings

Saturday night before the game, we tailgated.  While I tried to corral Sean and convince Evan to eat, my brother and a couple of his friends showed up to liberate us of some of the food.  Proving that he is growing up, my brother also brought some beer to share.  As Sean decided to play in the dirt, I stood talking with one of the friends who was a bit tipsy and always flamboyant.  In the middle of the conversation, ranging from his reading only Maxim and his business plan of opening up a baby proofing store, he told me how cool it was that my brother and I got along and how my brother always says the nicest things about me and how I’m the serious one, the one with goals.  Excuse me? 

 

If I didn’t know the friend better, I would have thought he was a recent addition to my brother’s circle.  But the friend in question has been hanging out with my brother since he graduated high school.  And like most of my brother’s friends, my parents know and like this kid.  My mom claimed, on Saturday night, that the friend was welcomed to come by even with out my brother.  (It should be noted that though they still don’t think things through thoroughly, my brother’s friends are a bunch of comedians.  Think the show Jackass but with a cute lovable little brother side.)

 

So that’s when it hit me.  We are truly different from what others see of us.

 

I.  The Serious One.  The One With Goals.  Ok, granted in high school, I put my head down and rushed through high school, determined to get to the other side, collage.  I worked my butt off to get good grades, doing my time in National Honor Society.  I lettered in swim team three times as well as drama.  I became straight edge and spent many a Saturday night babysitting to make money towards college.  I went away for college, working my ass off because I was paying for it and I loved it. 

 

But me serious?  I was doing run by knockings between reading Goethe.  After freshman year, I adopted the theory that if I didn’t know my stuff by finals, I was in deep sh- anyways, so why stress.  I told other students that I had a fake major, one that could be purchased for 500 bucks through a mail course.  I did pranks that would later put me on probation, and I ran a miniature theft ring, stealing plastic gems from Disneyland.  (All in the name that it was ridiculous to charge five bucks for a bag of plastic that cost pennies to make; not real sound logic and incredibly stupid and self- centered.)  Hell, my best friend and I stole the local Republican headquarters’ Bush/Cheney 2000 sign that was 3 by 6 feet and ran it the several blocks back to the car because we didn’t have a car.  Before kids, I believed a healthy lunch was a carton of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and I threw a Halloween party in March.  I can quote whole episodes of The Simpsons, and I break out in songs and dances.  I’m completely not serious.  And if I was good with my goals, I would have a published book by now like one of my college friends.

 

My brother, now he’s serious.  Ok, granted he went through an alcohol-consuming, pot-smoking, girl-chasing phase, but underneath it all was the calculating, logical, serious brother.  He has always had his eye on the prize, imagining what business venture would make him the cash he wanted.  He’s a math wiz, wanting to major in engineering.  He loves cars.  He went from engineering to biology to finally business as majors.  Business!  Does that sound as non-serious as a creative writing degree?  He’s getting a minor in Spanish.  How absolutely practical, which compares to my two semesters of Italian.  He has his goals lined up, and he knocks them down.  He may have spent a semester in Florida partying, but he spent a summer working for my husband while selling jewelry on the weekends. 

 

It’s just amazed me that we see each other so differently.  We are pretty different.  I was the creative writer, wishing to be an artist; he was the designer of cars.  (I swear he was the first one to think of a Hummer limo.)  He puts people at ease; while, I am completely tactless.  He was the cool one, refusing to acknowledge me at school unless he needed a ride, and I was the one hanging out with all the nerds with enough pull to keep people from beating up my brother when he stepped on the wrong toes.  School and athletics came easy to my brother; I struggled to figure out how to learn.  As we grew older, college fit me like a glove, and my brother tried to understand the new concept of college learning.  When I was debating on going and getting my PhD in women’s studies, my brother was contemplating a career in breast augmentation.  At one point, I swore there couldn’t be any more different siblings.

 

But at least it’s nice to hear my brother likes me.  I like him.  It took years for us to get to this point.  At one point we both wished the other would just fall off the end of the earth.  We fought viciously to my parents’ horror.  But now I call him every week or so, and sometimes he even answers.  Really, he’s a great guy.  I just can’t believe he thinks I’m serious.  I wear fairy shirts for crying out loud.