Always Prepared

All three of my boys have small hiking backpacks. Because, of course, they do. We’re a Boy Scout/Cub Scout family.

Tornado A has been wearing his around the house lately. It jangles. It full or partially full. You can hear him coming. And I didn’t think anything of it because I was one of those kids that always had a bag of toys at the ready.

The other night Tornado A ran across the family room, jangling all the way.

Papi: Son, what do you have in there?

Tornado A: (stops at the door, turns, smiles) Nothing. (Then out of the house like a shot, jangling.)

Papi: (turns to me) What do you think he has in there?

Me: I don’t know, Dad. Apparently, nothing.

Papi: Nothing does not sound like that.

Me: Toys. Legos. Star wars toys. Who knows?

The next day Tornado A was wearing his backpack. He put a whistle in his mouth.

Me: Not in the house!

Tornado A shrugged and ran out of the house, jangling. He had a great time blowing the whistle outside. I won’t let him do that when we’re camping or hiking.

Today Tornado A asked if I would buy him the single serve packets to add to bottle water. It was a dollar for a pack. I was already buying several boxes for teacher appreciation week. So I did.

Later that day Tornado A came to me.

Tornado A: Mama, may I make a juice with the packets?

Me: I don’t know if we have enough bottle water, baby. I need to send bottles with you and your brothers for your teachers.

Tornado A: I have water in my backpack.

Me: What?

Tornado A: I have bottles of water in my backpack.

Me: How many?

Tornado A: Three.

Me: What else?

Tornado A: Snacks. And a survival book. And a zombie apocalypse survival book.

Huh. I happen to have my own bug-out bag. Only because I needed somewhere to stash my hiking gear. It too has survival books in it. It too has a zombie apocalypse survival book. Because why not.

Huh.

I smiled. I rubbed his hair.

Me: That’s pretty smart. Where’s your backpack?

Tornado A: In the car.

Me: Let’s go get it.

Man, that kid is so my kid.

A Lecture Series: In One Car Ride

A Parenting Discussion

Starts with

Why my Parents and Brother are Wrong about Minimum Wage: Don’t Listen to Them.

Then moves to

What Is Minimum Wage and How Does It Work: How Studies on the Economy Can Shape Law or Not.

Then turns into

Bias: What Is It, Why We Have It, and What We Do About It: With Examples. (Slide Show Not Included.)

Then changes to

The Last Impeachment Trial: Kids, Politics and Adults are Weird.

Which means an explanation on

What is Impeachment and Why Was President Clinton Impeached: Welcome to History your Mama Remembers

Which leads to

Blowjob: What is It and What the Words Suck and Blow Actually Mean.

Which ends with

Why Would Anyone Do THAT? It’s So Gross.

Yeah, kids, I thought the same thing at your age. I think I vomited a little in my mouth too.

In conclusion, parenting is weird. Discussions with your kids are weird. And I cannot stay on topic.

 

The Illness

The boys were all struck down by illness almost two weeks ago. It got bad. I didn’t get a full night’s sleep. So after a week, I was really drained.

Yawning as I put the boys to bed.

Me: I am one tired mama.

Tornado A: Who has three tired babies.

Yes. Yes, I did.

Thank goodness they are on the mends now.

Easter Church Adventures

What my mother doesn’t understand is that they really do like us at church. Well, maybe not that woman who muttered “Jesus Christ” when she saw me yank Tornado A back from crawling on the pew to pass his brother to get in line for communion. But she was in another row, took God’s name in vain, and left right after communion. So the moral high ground is mine! Mwhahaha!

Yeah, but other than her, they like us. The ushers always are glad to see the boys and talk to them. The deacon is charmed by them. Several of the congregation make it a point to talk to them or me. The priest finds them amusing as they blurt out the homily for a treat or ring the gong. (Yeah, my Catholic church has a gong.) Even the traveling priests are amused by my boys. On a few occasions, one of the traveling priest has included my boys into his homily.

Any ways. I had nothing to worry about getting a seat for Sunrise Mass. The ushers would find us a seat. But we went early with my parents, bringing our own chairs, sitting on the edge, watching the sunrise.

When Tornado A complained (loudly) that he wasn’t blessed with holy water, the deacon came by and drenched Tornado A and me. As though our priest didn’t drench us thoroughly Palm Sunday. (4 times!)

During Giving Peace and after people received communion, a few people walked by to whisper how nice the boys looked. The oldest in their three piece suits with ties. Tornado A in a bow tie and suspenders. (I rock suspenders!)

After services, I sent Tornado A to gather song sheets and the older two to help collect and stack chairs. Tornado S and Tornado E both moaned, dragging a chair or two. I ended up having to hand over my purse to Tornado A to help pick up stacks of three chairs while eyeing my older two.

As we were leaving, an older gentleman came over to me.

Older Guy: Ma’am, I had to laugh when I saw your boys. My brothers and I had to get the same summer haircut.

I looked over at my three boys running through the courtyard. Their heads recently shaved, their preferred haircut.

Me: Yeah, they like it. Less work.

Older Guy: (chuckles) That it is. Happy Easter.

Me: Happy Easter.

I walked away and heard the last part of his conversation.

Older Guy: (to his female companion) Those boys have a lot of personality.

Older Woman: I can tell. Their mother must be a saint.

Oh, they do. I just happen to be a saint with a lot of personality to.

Suit

Me: Ok. Try it on.

Damn.

Too small.

Fine.

Let’s go.

Because my boys want to wear suits to church. Because they want to wear suits to formal events. Because my boys like suits.

So Friday, two days before Easter, I took Tornado S shopping for a new suit. He was thrilled. I was less so.

I’m not a big fan of shopping. I’m not really good at it. And if you ask any one with boys or have boys yourself, you know that buying clothes other than playwear is a bit difficult. Most stores have a handful of nice button-up shirts and maybe a couple of tie and shirt combinations. Or maybe just 4 dress shirts. Four. Which means, many, many stores if your boys either don’t look good in those or you or they don’t like them. I personally despise sweater and shirt combinations.

Luckily I have a store. Tornado S and I left right after breakfast, which isn’t really impressive because I made breakfast cookies. Like 5 dozen of them.

We walked into the store and walk straight to the back to the boys’ clothes area. Tornado S nearly skipping at the enjoyment of having a Mama Day.

Me: We’re looking for size 12.

Tornado S: Ok!

He made a bee line to the clearance rack and started sifting through them. Huh. Expensive as it was, I knew what I was getting in to. So I started going through the regular price size 12 suits.

After a few moments, I had found a navy, a pin-striped, and a grey. I knew Tornado E would throw a fit if someone else got a pin-striped suit.

Tornado S: Mama. I found a suit. (I looked over.) But it’s blue.

He held it up. It was blue. Not crayon blue but like a bright navy blue.

Me: Ok.

Tornado S: I. I don’t really like blue, Mama.

He looked pathetic. And adorable. I nearly laughed.

Me: Thank you for looking in clearance, but I’m not going to buy you a suit you don’t like. What do you think of this grey one?

He beamed and ran over.

Tornado S: I like it, Mama!

Me: Let’s try on the jacket. Oh good. Perfect. Let’s go buy it.

 

At Easter Mass, I stood between Tornado S in his grey suit and Tornado E in his pin-striped suit. I looked down at Tornado E’s arm. Ah. Damn.

Me: (Whispering) You’re going to need a new suit.

My Dad: (Whispering) I noticed that last week.

Really? You didn’t think to mention that when I said I had to take Tornado S to get a suit.

So guess what we’re doing next weekend.

Trampoline

Mama, come play on the trampoline with me.

So rarely do I actually play with the boys. I monitor their homework and help them with their studies. We work together to brainstorm, research, and write. We have tickle attacks and kiss attacks. We read together. I read to them. We watch movies. We go on adventures, both mundane and extraordinary. But rarely do we play together any more.

Mama, come play on the trampoline with me.

We bike ride or hike. In the summer, we swim. About once a week, we play tag where I run as little as I can, relying on stealth to do my job. But when was the last time I play toys with them? When was the last time I played video games with them?

Mama, come play on the trampoline with me.

I’m a little fatter than I want to be. I’m not as young as I want to be. I’m pulling random muscles doing stupid, ordinary things. And giving birth three times has made playing on the trampoline…. interesting.

Mama, come play on the trampoline with me.

It’s their father’s weekend. When will I get to talk to them again or see them again? At worst, Tuesday after work. We only have twenty minutes because he never picks them up on time.

Mama, come play on the trampoline with me.

Ok, Baby!

Not believing his luck, Tornado A grabbed my hand and dragged me outside. We removed our shoes, but once I was inside the mesh, he announced, “I’m getting brothers!” He grabbed one of my shoes to keep me from leaving and ran back to the back door to yell, “Brothers, Mama’s on the trampoline!”

Just like that, three boys were jumping on the trampoline with me. Have you ever played tag on a trampoline? God, I had to stop several times to catch my breath from laughing so hard.

I’m glad I played because I love my three wild tornadoes.

 

Just a Gown

Tornado S needed an MRI, so on the first day of spring break, we went to the clinic to get it done. He was suspicious because last time we were at the clinic, he was forced to give blood. The kid hates getting his finger nails cut. It’s like torture. Imagine trying to get a needle into this kid.

Tornado S has been diagnosed with a developmental delay disorder. Mild, general, physical. But his hand writing is getting worse, so the doctor wanted to make sure Tornado S was not regressing.

The nurse was quick to set Tornado S at ease. She was efficient and cheery. But upon handing me the medical gown, she frowned, looking at Tornado S.

Nurse: See if it will fit him.

It barely made it past his butt.

Nurse: Let me see if I can find a bigger one. (In a moment, she returned and handed me a new gown.) This might be a little big, but it’s the best we got.

Tornado S stripped, and I helped him into the gown. It hit the floor. I giggled to see my boy in a gown.

Tornado S: How do you walk in this thing?

Me: (Thinking back to all the princess dresses I wore as a girl, never missing an opportunity to dress like royalty) You can lift it up like this. Or you can kick-step. Kick-step. Like this. Kick-step. Kick-step.

Tornado S kick-stepped.

Then I remembered this was Tornado S. Uncoordinated Tornado S.

Me: Nevermind. Just pick it up like this.

Tornado S mimicked my gesture and picked up the gown and walked a few steps.

Tornado S: This is annoying. How does anyone do anything in one of these?

Me: Oh, sweetheart, millions of women have been doing everything in dresses like that for thousands of years.

He looked up at me and wrinkled his nose. Yeah, many of them would probably agree with you, kid.

 

P.S. Everything is fine. He’s just lazy on his handwriting, and yes, I do have pictures of Tornado S in his floor-length gown, smiling up at the camera.

Ancient Parenting Techniques

So it was dinner time and I went outside to call in Tornado A and Tornado S. Who were wrestling on the trampoline. Wearing only shorts. With newly shaved head.

Me: Spartans! Dinner!

You know it fits. Last summer the boys somehow learned about Leonidas yelling “This is Sparta!” and kicking someone in a pit. They practiced this move all last summer, using the pool as their pit. They also taught themselves some rudimentary stage fighting techniques.

This is my family. Apparently, I’m raising Spartan men.

Existential Crisis

Tornado S did not want to go to religious class. But I made him. He whined. He cried. He begged. Video games were not going to be in his future.

When we arrived, Tornado A jumped out of the car. I told him to go ahead and go without us; we’ll catch up. I opened up Tornado S’s car door.

Me: Come on, Tornado S. Time to go.

Tornado S: (crying) But why are we here?

Me: Because I am raising you Catholic, so you have to come to classes.

Tornado S: But why?

Me: Because this will give you a place to start. A place to start questioning and searching and trying to understand the world.

Tornado S: But why here?

Me: Because this church has a lot to offer, and it agrees with a lot of what I believe.

Tornado S: (still crying) But why are we here?

Me: (sigh) Because you have to go to class.

Tornado S: No. Why are we here?

Me: What?

Tornado S: Why are we here? Why do we exist? Why do we live?

Wait. What?

Me: You want to know why we are here on earth, living this life?

Tornado S: (sobbing) YES!

Me: Well. I think we’re here to learn. To experience. To love.

Tornado S: But why is life so horrible?

Kid, you ain’t seen nothing yet. But then this is the kid who cried watching a Save the Children Fund commercial.

Me: I don’t know, baby. A lot of people have tried to find out why. Listen. Let’s go home. You can rest. You don’t have to go to class. When you’re ready, we’ll talk more about this. Let me just let your teacher know.

So I walked into the building to find that Tornado S’s teacher wasn’t there. In his place was the director of children’s ministry.

Director: Hey. You don’t look like Tornado S. But I see a resemblance. (Yeah, we’ve been in the program for a few years now.)

Me: It’s the nose and the cheeks. Yeah, Tornado S is having an existential crisis in the car. So I think I need to take him home.

Director: A what?

Me: He wants to know why we’re here. Not here for class, but here as in our lives.

Director: OH! Wow. Ok. Yeah. Tell him I wonder that myself. It’s fine. He’s a good kid. He told us all about the homily the other day.

I stopped making eye contact as I watched Tornado S walk past the windows to the door. He came into the room.

Tornado S: Hi, Mama! I figured it out!

Me: Um, ok.

Tornado S: We’re here to have fun!

Um.

Tornado S: I’ll stay for class.

Director: Tornado S. I won’t make you do any work today. Just listen. Ok, bud?

Tornado S: Ok. Can I go get a snack first?

Director: Sure, go ahead.

Me: Um. Ok. Well, then. See you in 50 minutes.

What the hell?

Studying

I should have put up a sign. Sorry, grading.

Last week was midterms. I actually said to my kids, “Sorry. All laundry services have been suspended until midterms are graded.”

But all midterms were graded. I magnanimously graded late work. All grades were in on time.

Instead of collapsing into a nap/read/gorge-on-salads-and-fruits to regain my strength and sanity, I had to study for a test. A test that I need to be an official teacher, not a temporary-we’ll-see-if-you’ll-make-it teacher. And I misjudged my expiration date. Because I left time to retake the test if need be. Nope. It’s a one shot. From the free throw line. No pressure.

But I’ve done my share of free-throws. And I know how to study. 15 minute increments with 5 minute break. A little every day. Don’t stress. Except the two weeks of intense grading consuming my every waking minute. So I was a little nervous.

During the afternoon, on our first official day off, I sat down to study since no one wanted to go to the movies with me. Thanks, boys.

Me: Tornado E! Here take this. Help me study!

I got a teenage look of boredom and are-you-kidding-me.

Tornado A: I’ll help, Mama!

He grabbed the answers for the study guide.

Me: I’m going to take this test and tell you the answers, and you’re going to tell me if I got it right.

Tornado A: Ok, Mama!

I started to read the long, intricate problem.

Tornado A: You can do it, Mama! This one’s easy!

I glanced up before returning to the problem I was reading.

Me: A!

Tornado A: Yea, Mama! That’s right! Now what’s number 2?

Me: Hold on. I have to read it.

I started reading the problem.

Tornado A: This one is easy, Mama!

Me: Thanks.

I kept reading.

Tornado A: It’s an easy one, Mama!

Me: D!

Tornado A: Good one, Mama! Now 3! It’s easy too!

Me: Baby, you only have the letter answers. I’ve the test.

Tornado A: I know, Mama! But this one is easy!

And so it continued through out the practice test. Except when I got it wrong. Then Tornado A would console me and encourage me to do it again.

He makes a heck of a cheerleader.

 

 

 

Oh, and I did pass my test.