The Hike

Today I almost died.

Tornado E is a Boy Scout. For the hiking merit badge, he has to hike 5 10-mile hikes. So we need to start conditioning.

Today I took the boys up the mountain to hike in the forest on a modest trail of 3.4 miles. They are liars. According to my FitBit, we walked 5 miles.

Within the first 4,000 steps uphill, I thought I was going to die. Holy Crap, am I out of shape! I walk at least 11,000 steps every day. I’ve started working out a few times a week. But, nope. I was not ready for that hike.

The boys faired better. They wanted to turn back after the first mile and a half, but I insisted it was just a little further. Just a little further. Just a little further. Just a little further.

Tornado A was point, leading the way. Tornado E followed him, jobless because Tornado S called medic in the car. Tornado S does have his first aid pin from Webelos. He was medic because that’s how I convinced him to do his mandatory Webelo hike a few months ago. (Remind me to tell you that story.) I made Tornado E my second in command, but apparently that wasn’t cool enough. I was the leader and took rear guard.

The hikers we passed thought we were cute. The boys with their camo full-brim hiking hats and their backpacks with water. We passed two rangers, who stopped to talk to me, thanking me for equipping my children properly.

When I wasn’t focusing on dear-god-how-is-this-so-hard-and-exhausting, I mourned the forest that had not fully recovered from a devastating fire fifteen years ago. In my childhood, the forest was thick and full. Now we walked quite a bit in treeless landscape, under the warm open sky. We could glimpse down the mountain at our city, something I never could do when I was a child.

But the moments in the forest were magical. I pointed out different trees, having the boys listen to the different sounds the trees made in the wind. I pointed out the plants I knew and where raspberries would be ripe in a few months. The boys were giddy over the green. We had a picnic midway down the trail.

In the end, we made it. Exhausted. The boys were covered in sap and dirt. But we made it. I made them go swimming once we were home, so they were clean for when their father picked them up.

Little do they know, we’re going hiking again.

My brother, Face, wants to take Tornado E and I on a 6-mile hike. No way am I going until I am able to get through it without needing an oxygen mask.

Grocery Shopping

I picked up the boys early from their father’s because Tornado S had a doctor’s appointment. I brought worksheets, books, and tablets. But worksheets first. And they groaned.

Then they started acting like brothers, getting on each other’s nerves with sounds, touches, and whatever. In a tiny examination room.

The doctor and I had a long conversation about Tornado S. He just has all these weird little problems that feel like they should add up to something. He hates making eye-contact, but he loves giving hugs. He gets frustrated easily. He can’t tell that his shoes are on the wrong feet; he hates wearing shoes; he’ll kick off his shoes and walk on the back of them. He loses focus easily, but then he’ll really concentrate on math. He chews on his shirt when he’s stress. He’s behind in his fine motor skills. He has brilliant insights. His output is delayed. And a bunch more.

She said as long as he was being helped and making progress, then a diagnosis wasn’t needed, but she did put in a referral for a neuro-psych eval.

After the appointment, we headed to the grocery store to get a few things. The boys messed with each other in the car and in the parking lot and in the store. As I waited at the meat counter, I started looking for things to occupy them.

Tornado S: Why are we here, Mama?

Me: We need to get a pound of salmon.

Tornado S: Oh.

And back he went to antagonizing his brothers, who gave as good as they got.

Me: Tornado E, find me the deli turkey on sale please and bring me some. Tornado S, could you please find out how much blueberries are? Tornado A, hold my hand.

Tornado E and Tornado S ran off to do their errands and ran back.

Tornado S: (beaming) Two for four dollars!

Ok. Then the butcher was ready to help.

Butcher: Where are the boys? Oh, there you are. Little man, what can I get you?

Tornado S: Salmon!

Butcher: All right! I love that. How much?

Tornado S: One pound!

Butcher: Perfect! I’ll get that. Are you learning how to cook? Everyone needs to know how to cook. Good! I knew I would like you guys because you’re Star Wars fans.

Tornado S and Tornado A: ME TOO!

Butcher: I could tell! I saw your shirts! Is that good, ma’am? It’s a little over.

Me: That’s fine. Thank you.

Butcher: Now you boys are going to cook this, right? My son is a little older than you, and he makes the best salsa. You have to start early to cook well. Here, you go, ma’am. Anything else I can get you?

Me: Thank you. No, thank you. Just the salmon. Have a good day.

Butcher: You too, ma’am.

And for ten minutes, the boys were helpful, carrying my groceries to the register, waiting in line, going to the car. And then they started up again. Parenting.

 

I’m dying, Egypt, dying.

It’s like my favorite line from “Antony and Cleopatra” by William Shakespeare. I don’t know why. Probably because it’s so damn melodramatic. Christ, Antony, die with some dignity, man.

As for me, Friday I had to get a tooth pulled. Kids, this what you get for not going to dentist in years.  How many? That’s between my priest and me. But almost all of those years, I didn’t have dental insurance. Actually everyone was quite surprised how well my teeth held up, but because I didn’t have dental insurance, I was near-obsessive with my teeth cleaning. I got the tooth pulled none-too-soon as it turned out an abscess was forming at the root. No, I didn’t take a picture or bring it home because I would like my kids to get into hard sciences and they’re a little squeamish.

Saturday Tornado E had a swim check for Boy Scouts and a pool party. At the Scout Master’s insistence, I had a burger before rushing Tornado E to his party. Once I dropped him off, I met my family for lunch before rushing to make it to the bank before close. And then I felt a little sick. So I took a nap and woke to feeling more sick and running off to get Tornado E.

By dinner, I was sick. Was it the abscess draining into my stomach? Was it food poisoning? (I’ve had food poisoning a lot; each time makes you more susceptible to it, making me a target long before the rest of the folks.) Was it a bug? (Like my mom argues; why are we having this argument?) It doesn’t matter. The details aren’t pretty. But basically I couldn’t eat anything for well over 36 hours, and I slept nearly all day Sunday. When I wasn’t asleep, I was in a headache haze because now I was in the middle of caffeine withdrawals. Bastards.

The worst part was this was my weekend with my kids!

Oh, I understand the little envy of you parents with full custody or still happily married parents, but when you are forced to be without your kids for any amount of time on a regular basis, well, I want to spend the time I do have them with them. And seeing that during the school year I’m the hard-ass, forcing them to do everything at my house where they will get the help and push they need, I really, really love the summers where I can be the fun parent.

Don’t worry about the kids. They had a great day. They watched a Back to the Future marathon. My mom fried them homemade doughnuts for breakfast. My dad brought them home a pizza. My parents took them swimming. My dad grilled steak. My mom made funnel cakes. (Please keep in mind that I couldn’t eat any of this and my parents were aware of this fact. I am torn how to feel about this.)

Then last night Tornado E started vomiting. While I’m naturally not a very good night parent, after 13 hours of sleep (according to the FitBit), I was able to be up and helpful without any annoyance in my voice. So today Tornado E clung to his existence, not nearly as desperately as I had the day before. In fact, he was able to do his worksheets and antagonize his brothers; while, somewhere in the middle of the day, I shuddered in my caffeine withdrawals as I nursed my bland foods and clear liquids diet.

I miss my caffeine. Look how long of a post I can make over complaining about being sick.

I’m going to go nurse my headache and pray for mercy. Hopefully tomorrow I can happily resume my addiction without praying to the porcielain god. With any luck, I can get my boys back so I can take them to Wonder Woman. (Yeah, we haven’t even been able to go to the movies because this vicious micro-plague.)

The Argument

Wonder Woman is out this weekend. I wasn’t a big Wonder Woman fan as a kid; I felt her forced onto girls. I found other superhero girls to love. Red Sonja, She-Ra, Jean Grey. But in recent years, I’ve come to appreciate her much more, especially since I’ve been getting gifts with Wonder Woman on them.

And then I saw Batman v Superman, and I was like I want to see more Wonder Woman. I’ve been waiting months for this movie.

And so have the boys.

Since the first trailer, they’ve been begging to go see it. My MO has always been to watch the movie first and then let them see it. But opening weekend is on my weekend with the boys.

Please, Mama, we love superhero movies!

Please, Mama, it looks really good!

Please, Mama, we want to go with you!

Please, Mama, it looks really fun!

Please, Mama, we’ve seen all the Iron Man movies and Thor movies and Avengers movies.

Please, Mama, Daddy let us see The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings movies.

Please, Mama, it has a woman superhero, and don’t you want us to see movies with strong women in the lead and support gender equality. (Tornado E, everybody; that kid is too damn smart.)

And it didn’t help that my dad turned on Batman v Superman in the middle of the movie to get my goat because I hate starting movies in the middle, and I really hate when we start movies in the middle for the boys. But my dad started it right before Wonder Woman jumped on the screen to kick butt in the final battle scene. I called for the boys, and we watched it together.

Then the boys got me a Wonder Woman picture for Mother’s Day.

Please, Mama!

Fine! Fine! We’ll go. I’ll take you. I won’t sneak off without you to see it.

I Have a Question

Tornado A had his well-visit today. Luckily, my mother took the other children, so it was just Tornado A and me. He was on his best behavior, excited to pretend to be an only child.

The doctor came in and talked to Tornado A, explaining what she will do and why she would do it. Then she asked Tornado A if he had any questions. He shook his head.

Doctor: Do you have any questions?

Me: Ye-

Tornado A: I have a question!

Doctor: Oh? What is your question?

Tornado A: Am I going to get a shot?!

Doctor: (smiled and shook her head) No. You don’t get any shots today. You won’t until you’re 11.

Tornado A: My brother is 11! Is he going to get a shot?!

Doctor: At his next visit, yes.

Tornado A: Good!

Then he gave a nod to signal he was done and satisfied with the conversation.

Right.

It’s Only the First Day.

Go ahead and emphasize a different word in that sentence. And it totally describes moments of today.

The first day of summer. Ish. I guess Friday was, but I kept the boys busy, helping me clean up the classroom, watching The Simpsons, and painting.

Today we had a lot more down time. Because kids can entertain themselves.

Or fight with their sibling.

So when one of my boys gets bored, he picks on a sibling. Kicking, punching, name-calling, laying on him, leaning on him, touching him, making annoying noises, taking his favorite toy, making him mess up on whatever he’s doing. You know, sibling stuff.

It’s already driving me crazy.

It’s only been a day.

So I’ll go back to what works. Time outs for name calling. Punching the punching bag when it’s a physical assault. Picking up toys and doing chores for boredom. Putting in a jewel in our kindness jar when I catch them doing a kind deed.

I hope I can get this taken care of before I take them on vacation in a couple of weeks. The boys and I trapped in a hotel room with nowhere to go sounds like a nightmare.

 

Yup, That’s My Kid

Football is a thing in my family. My family are Dallas Cowboy fans. Football is a thing for my ex. He is a San Diego Chargers fan (or whatever they’ll be calling themselves when they move.) Football is not my thing because we are paying men to play a game. A game I never really cared to play in my athletic days. Football is not a thing for my boys because they pretty much hate all sports.

But they understand it is a thing for the rest of the family, especially their dad and uncles. They have grown up with the rivalries. And they understand that their dad’s second favorite team has a tie for whoever is playing against the Oakland Raiders and whoever is playing against the Dallas Cowboys. So naturally my father and brothers encourage the boys to root for the Cowboys, but no one condones rooting for the Raiders.

Tornado S: (sitting in a chair, blurts out) Mommy! I know what to get Daddy for Father’s Day!

Why, yes, I do take my boys shopping for their dad’s birthday and Father’s Day. Because I’m a good parent, damnit.

Me: What?

Tornado S: (grinning from ear to ear) A Raider’s helmet!

Me: (looking down at Tornado S, beaming with pride) The (insert my family name) is strong with this one.

 

Yeah, my kids do that a lot. Early Bloomer and Timing