Tornado S- So it begins

Tornado S got Angry Birds Star Wars Darth Vader’s Lightsaber Battle Game.

Tornado A fell in love with the stormtrooper pig and lost it within days.  I feel guilty because Tornado A was under my watch when he lost it at Walmart.


Me: Tornado S, do you want to go buy a new Angry Birds Star Wars game?

Tornado S: Nay.  How about you buy me a phone?

2:14 pm Arizona time

March 16, 2013

Tornado S asked for a smart phone.


The frightening part is Tornado E asked nearly at the same stage of kindergarten.

A Tornado S Story

We had Tornado S’s Parent-Teacher conference last week.  The teachers gushed over how sweet and loving and bright and funny and smart Tornado S was.  Of course, he’s Tornado S.  He’s one of the brightest in the class.  He’s tender-hearted and doesn’t compete.  He cries when he’s frustrated or when another friend is hurt.  He thinks outside the box, and his sense of humor is well-developed for his age.  The only downer is that his speech and fine motor skills are behind, and I have to try to get him into a program to help him or he will have to repeat kindergarten because he can’t move on without writing legibly.  We’ll work on it.

I love that boy.  I love these teachers.

Teacher: I have to tell you this.  If it was my child, I would want to know this.  (She turned to the other teachers.)  Do you mind?  I have to tell my Tornado S story.  (She called him Tornado S-y, like we do!)

The two other teachers: “Oh please do.”  “I love this story.” “He’s so cute.”  “This is really cute.”

Teacher: So the other day I was talking with the class.  And I said, “Oh, I couldn’t have 16 kindergarteners at my house.  That would be too many!  I used to have a kindergartener and a baby.  But that was a long time ago.  My kindergartener is now 15.”  And then Tornado S threw his hands in the air and yelled, “SO THAT’S WHY YOU LOOK SO OLD!”  It was like this ah-ha moment, this epiphany.  It was like he was trying to figure it out, and I finally gave him the key to do so.

We laughed.

Me: The boy doesn’t have much tact.

Teacher: No.  But he’s honest and sweet and oh-so-funny.

Me: That he is.


We were at my parents’ house eating lunch as I did laundry (because of my dead washing machine), and, just like during my childhood, the TV was on as we ate.  We were watching some sort of educational cartoon.

Tornado E: Mommy, I thought girls were tougher than boys.

Where do you go with that?  Yes.  No.  Why?  Boys and girls are the same but different.  Our society tells us boys are tougher.  Crap.

Me: Why do you think that?

Tornado E: Because you’re tough, and you’re a girl.

What do you say to that?

And when Tornado S plays with his toys, he often has me as a character.

Mommy aka Luminara Unduli

How many penis rules do we need?

jc: I’m totally surprised they aren’t coloring their penises. I KNOW you have a rule against that somewhere around here, and I’m sure you would have mentioned it.

Have you met jc?  She’s the world’s best commenter.  She’s smart, hilarious, and gives out stickers.  For some reason, I amuse her, which I think is an honor.

Then she wrote that on Friday’s blog.

Apparently jc is clairvoyant as well as smart and hilarious.

First off, I knew there was trouble because Tornado E walked out of the bathroom grinning.  Grinning.  Second, I knew there was trouble because he was holding a marker, coming from the bathroom.   Just reread that last sentence again.  Did you get the chills?  Third, I knew there was trouble because he had already drawn all over himself.

Tornado E: LOOK!  (He pulled down his underwear to expose himself.)  I painted on my penis!

His testes were orange.

So many thoughts entered my head.


Why?  Why, for the love of God, would you color your penis?

You’ll make some frat very proud one day.

I wonder what kind of girl will be amused by this.

Oh, God, he’s going to tattoo his penis.

By the time they learn to  be modest around me, I’ll have written a hundred page manual of The Penis Rules.

A typical Sunday

Where does the day start?

At 12:30 AM when I finally forced myself to bed?

At 1:20 to 3:30 Am when Tornado A was alternating screaming his head off and dozing?

At 6:15 when Tornado A was whining from his bed?

6:15 Get Tornado A out of the crib, feed him pain medication, feed him breakfast of bananas and toast that he will smear all over the high chair instead of eating.

6:25 Tornado S stumbles out.  Put out breakfast for the boys, milk and day old blueberry muffins.  Tell Tornado A to stop whining because you’ll be back.

6:30 Tornado E stumbles out.

6:45 Get Tornado A out of high chair, wipe him off.  Swallow a bowl of cereal.

7:15 Dress Tornado A.  Encourage older children to get dressed.

7:43 Save Tornado A from rocking chair.  Ask boys why they aren’t dressed.

8:00 Shower.  Dress.  Save Tornado A from mountain of stuffed animals.  Ask boys why they aren’t dressed.  Point out they can solve their own problems.

8:10 Try to bribe older boys to get dressed.

8:20 Morning nap for Aida.  Cartoons for boys.  Morning nap for me.

9:30 Tornado A is up.  So am I.  The older boys are still alive and relatively unharmed.

9:45 Make meringue cookies.  Start debating baking dessert for the week.  Ask Tornado S where his underwear is.

10:00 Save Tornado A from the rocks in the back yard.  Make him spit out the rock in his mouth.  Learn the boys have emptied the sand box and that it has water from the rain.

10:03 Strip beds.  Put sheets in the wash.

10:39 Tornado E learns to climb his bed without a ladder.

10:45 Save Tornado S from the top of his dresser.

10:46 Save Tornado A from mountain of stuffed animals.

11:00 Pizza nuked for the boys.  Cheese, raisins, hard-boiled yolks for Tornado A.

11:10 Put sheets in the dryer.  Debate doing my sheets.  Tornado A starts to whine.

11:30 Get Tornado A out of the high chair.

11:33 Remove slice of pizza from Tornado A’s hand.

11:34 Remind older boys that Tornado A will eat what they don’t.

11:45 Learn that the wagon is filled with water, sand, and mud.  And that Tornado A found it.

11:50 Learn that the older boys can survive 50s in only a shirt and underwear.

12:00 Tornado A starts loosing it.  Give Tornado A pain medication.

12:05 Tornado A’s afternoon nap.

12:15 Lunch for me.

12:30 Clean up kitchen.  Encourage boys to get dressed so they can help bake or do crafts.

12:40 Pretend I’m somewhere else.

12:45 Mess around online and look for new dessert recipes.  Older boys have a wet sand fight.

1:00 Find new recipe.

1:10 Start recipe only to hear Tornado A screaming.

1:10 Tornado A  will not be consoled.  Tornado A must be carried.

1:15 Agree to let the boys make a potion.  Obviously I was not thinking.

1:30 Bake while alternating holding Tornado A and placing him on the floor to scream.  Realize the boys are too quiet but don’t care at that moment.

2:03 Learn what making a potion really is.  Demand that boys clean up bathroom.

2:07 Try to make beds.  Hold Tornado A instead.

2:30 Take out cupcakes out of oven.  Console a screaming Tornado A.

2:45 Tornado A is content to play with a ball.  Tell boys that we’re leaving in 15 minutes.  Attempt to make beds, which makes Tornado A scream.

3:00 Tornado S is naked.  Tornado E has clothes on but no shoes.  Tornado A is screaming.

3:05 Pack up Tornado A.  Drag Tornado E to the car without shoes and tie.  Buckle him in.  Tornado S hands over underwear and pants.  Dress those clothes on Tornado S.  Buckle Tornado S in the car.

3:30 Grab rest of the clothes.  Go to parents’.

3:45 Carry Tornado S into parents’ house and hand him over.  Carry Tornado E into parents’ house and hand him over.  Carry Tornado A into parents’ house and hand him over.  Go back to car for stuff.  Debate fleeing to Mexico.

4:00 Feed Tornado A late.  Hand Tornado A back to my dad.

4:30 Read the paper.

5:15 Hand Tornado A to my mom.  Help with dinner.

5:45 Dinner.

6:25 Wonder if parents would realize if I left the boys with them.

6:45 Pack up boys.

7:00 Dress Tornado A.  Feed Tornado A.

7:15 Put Tornado A to bed.

7:20 Draw bath for boys.  Dump them in.

7:40  Bark orders to get the boys dressed for bed.

7:50 Read bedtime story, prayers, and lullaby. kisses.

8:00 Boys are officially in bed.

8:01 Crash on the couch.

9:30 Clean kitchen and great room.

10:30 Write menu, chores list, grocery list, rental list, email and bum around on the internet.

When would you say Monday starts?

Rocket man

Tornado E’s class is learning about space.  Sweet.  The kids were given an assignment to build a rocket.  Double sweet.  I was ecstatic.  I did a little dance.  I, of course, had all sorts of fun materials to build a rocket.

Me: TORNADO E!  We get to build a rocket!

Tornado E: I know!  I’m building it with Legos!

Me: Um, what?  Don’t you want to use other things?  We could find all sorts of neat things to build the rocket with.  (Insert Jedi Mind Trick: You want to build your rocket with stuff other than Legos.)

Tornado E: No, Mommy.  I’m sticking with Legos.  It’ll be neat!

I faked enthusiasm and consoled myself that surely my son would change his mind.

But he didn’t.

Last night he showed me his last revision of his rocket.

Tornado E:  Look, Mommy!  It’s done!  Isn’t it beautiful?  Look at my pattern!  A, B, C, D, A, B, C, B, A, D, C, B, A!

Me: That is one awesome rocket.

Tornado E:  I know!  When my friends see it, it’ll blow their minds!

Well, at least he got his vocabulary from me.

Explaining God

I overheard this conversation the other day.

Tornado E:  And God is great.   He is real! He lives in Heaven.  And He can control EVERYTHING.  He can control the weather.  He can shoot lightning from his hands.

Tornado S: Count Dooku is real!  He shoots lightning out of his hands!

Tornado E: Count Dooku is not real!  God is real!

Tornado S: God shoots lightning out of His hands!  And Count Dooku shoots lightning out of his hands!  They are both REAL!

Tornado E: No, Tornado S!  That’s not how it works!  (little wheels in the brain spinning, spinning, spinning)

Some mornings are like that

The main reason I began going to parenting class was for the free childcare.  In this third session of classes, there is no childcare.  I go because the teacher and the other parents are hilarious.  And every class I really do learn something like sarcasm doesn’t work with kids or how sponge-like kids are or that no matter how old and mature I get my mom will see me as beneath her and I don’t want to raise children that feel that way.

A couple of weeks back, a mom complained about how her son doesn’t get ready for school in the morning.  Every morning was the same.  Lots of yelling and threats as the child moped, whined, yelled, fought as he was forced to get ready for school.  It was an outright rebellion.  When it was time to go to school, everyone was miserable.

And I thought, “I have the chart!”  Tornado E loves doing the morning routines chart.  I rock.

The teacher told the mom to stop.  She said don’t even fight it.  Just give a warning of time and let the child make the decision.  When it’s time to go and the child isn’t ready, take the child to school any ways.  It was so simple and crazy that it might just work.

The next morning, I had full open rebellion.  No one cared about the chart.  Everyone wanted to play instead.  It was frustrating.

I took the teacher’s advice.  I was skeptical.  Tornado E loved to dress differently.  He had already gone to school several times in his pajamas for fun.  But I did the method, trusting it would work.  I gave warnings of the time and left it at that. The boys continued to play with their toys.  I got Tornado A dressed.  I got dressed and ready for the day.  I gave a five-minute cushion between saying we needed to leave and actually leaving.  When I told the boys it was time to go, Tornado E scampered into his clothes.  Tornado S begged me for help.    Everyone was ready on time.

It was amazing and annoying.  Why couldn’t they just get that life would be so much easier if they got dressed and then played?  But I remember Wally explaining to me about how the shoe story and how half the people put away their shoes right away and half don’t.  The ones who do think it’ll save time later when they look for their shoes.  The ones who don’t think it’ll save time at that moment because they aren’t wasting it putting away their shoes.  Basically, we look at the world differently.

Every day, I did the same trick.  And it worked.  Until today.

Instead of jumping up and getting dressed at the 10-minutes-to-go call, the boys jumped into Tornado S’s bed and hid under the covers.  Crap.  The 5-minute call found them the same way.  Crap.  I packed up clothes and shoes and threw them into the car.  I told them it was time to go, and they stayed giggling under the covers.  Crap.  Crap.  Crap.  I took a deep breath and put Tornado A in the car, strapping him into his seat.  I walked into the boys’ room, pulled off the covers, grabbed their hands, and marched them to the car.

Tornado S: I’m going to school naked!!!!


Tornado S was naked except for a sock.  Tornado E was in his shirt and socks from the day before and a pull up.  Awesome.

I strapped them in and drove to school in silence, wondering if I was too stubborn for my own good, if there was an exit strategy that wouldn’t undermine my authority, if those classes were full of sh*t.   By the time I parked at school, I had no answers.  I got out of the car, shut the door, and sat on the hood of my SUV.  I had made fantastic time, so the other cars were just starting to trickle into the parking lot.  I just thought.

Comedy is how my family deals with situations.  So I messaged an SOS to my adopted parenting sponsor.  I formulated a text to a friend, but before I could type it, one of my favorite moms asked what I was doing.  I explained the situation, giving a brief glance to the windshield.

The Mom: Ah, well, tell Tornado E that KJ wants to play with him.  And she was excited to see his car was already here.

Then she laughed.  And I laughed.  I opened the door to the car.

Tornado E: Mommy!  We need to go home so I can get dressed!

Me: It’s too late, buddy.  We leave now, we’ll be late for school.

Tornado E: But Mommy!

I went to the back of the truck and pulled out Tornado A’s stroller.  I got Tornado A out and strapped him into his stroller with a few toys.  I grabbed the bag of clothes.

Me: Get out, Tornado E.

Tornado E: But MOMMMY!  I’m NOT DRESSED!

Me: Well, that’s the choice you made when you decided to play instead of dressing.  Get out and stand by the stroller.  (Which I had parked on the sidewalk in front of the SUV and by a bench.)

I got Tornado S out of the car and led him to the bench.  I figured I better get Tornado S in underwear before my conservative friend showed up.  Tornado S was giddy.  Note to self: This doesn’t work on Tornado S.  Tornado E was crouched beside the stroller.  I helped the boys into their underwear.  Then I handed them clothes.  They dressed quickly.  Tornado E ran off as soon as he was dressed.

Perhaps, I handled it well after all.  Though, maybe I should have taken them into the bathroom to get dressed, but it was early so not many people were there and they would have seen more people walking to the bathroom than a quick dress on the sidewalk.  And I thought nothing of the whole thing, since I have on occasion dressed in public.  (Not in front of a crowd.  Jesus.  And I had on underwear.)

Hopefully they learned their lesson.  I did.

Crap.  Tornado E, where’s your lunchbox?  Crap.

The empire

Note: I wrote yesterday.  I swear.  But WordPress had some “issues.”  And it didn’t post.  And it didn’t save.  And then I just bit my thumb at the whole thing and thought “Fine.  Be that way.  I’ll post it tomorrow, stupid WordPress.” 

It was cold, windy with the smell of rain in the air.  Tornado E was whining about the cold and the boredom of being stuck in left field.  I ignored him.  I couldn’t ignore a very upset Tornado A, who, like his mama, hated the cold.

We signed Tornado E up for t-ball because he was really excited about it in the fall.  He didn’t like practicing with us, but he loved going to practice with his teammates.  Since Papi and The Friendly Giant knew little boys preferred to hit and run over throwing and catching, Tornado E liked practicing with them.

I only got to see 2/3 of the game because Tornado A demanded to get out of the cold, and before leaving for the car, I was only able to see a fraction of the game.  So Tornado E was excited to tell me all about it.

Tornado E: MOMMY!  Did you see me be the empire?

Me: Excuse me?

Tornado E: I was the empire!  I always wanted to be the empire!

Me: Oh. You want to be the umpire.

Tornado E: Yes, the empire.

Me: Sweetheart, you were the catcher.  Not the umpire.

Tornado E: NO!  I was the empire.  I had a mask and everything.

Rather than argue that point until I was blue in the face, I smiled and moved on.


I don’t carry Tornado E’s backpack and lunch box.  I don’t.  I have spent the last six years carrying a child in one way or another that I refuse to be a pack mule for those children.  I do not want to be one of those moms carrying several backpacks, bent under the strain of books, art projects, and homework as my children frolic along not listening to the instructions being shouted at them.

I am fine with leaving the backpack outside the school.  I have made my peace with the idea that we may never see that backpack again and that Tornado E will have to carry his lunch in a plastic grocery bag.

Lately Tornado E has been pulling out passive resistance when it is time to leave the school.  He just throws himself down by his stuff, claiming he’s too tired to move.  It’s annoying. I’ve even thrown him over my shoulder and stomped back to the car where the younger two boys were already buckled in.  While the other moms laughed, I knew I was out of ideas.  So I asked at parenting class.

The teacher told me to give the 5 minute warning (check) and then take the younger boys by hand, tell Tornado E we’ll meet him at the car, and wait at the car.  She told me to be ready for a long wait but promised he would follow even if it took an hour.  I can wait.  I have stubbornness issues.  I can wait.  And lo and behold, the damn trick worked.

So last week, I told Tornado E it was time to go, go get his backpack and lunch box, and we’ll meet him at the car.  Two minutes later as I buckled in Tornado S, Tornado E dragged himself into the car, but he was without his stuff.

Me: Tornado E. Go get your backpack and lunch box.

Tornado E: I’m toooooo tiiiiiiirrrrrrrred.


Me: Fine.  We’ll leave it there and hope that it’s there in the morning.

I began to buckle in Tornado E.

Tornado E: But. Mooooommmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyy.  I neeeeeeeeed it!

Me: Then go get it.

Tornado E: I’m tooooooo tiiiiiiiirrrrrred!


Then around the corner came running Sweet Girl, carrying Tornado E’s things.

Sweet Girl: TORNADO E!   Your stuff!  You can’t forget it!

Me: Thank you, Sweet Girl.  That was very nice of you.  I’m sure Tornado E appreciates this.  (I took the stuff.)  Tornado E, what do you say?


Sweet Girl: You’re welcome!

Sweet Girl’s mother came around the corner.  We exchanged sympathetic looks of understanding.


I turn. Tornado E was thrusting out a dollar bill out the car door.  His dollar bill that he was planning on using to buy something at the Dollar Store.

I walked over, took the bill, and handed it to Sweet Girl.

Sweet Girl: Gosh! Tornado E!  Thank you!

Sweet Girl’s Mother: I don’t know.  That’s Tornado E’s dollar.  We should give it back.

Me: No.  If Tornado E wants to give it to Sweet Girl, that’s fine.  She’s the one who brought his things.  He wants to thank her.  If he wants to give away his money, fine.

Sweet Girl danced around waving her dollar.

Sweet Girl’s Mother: Are you sure?

Tornado E: Do you like the five dollar bill?!

Me: Yes.  This is perfect.

Sweet Girl’s Mother: It’s a dollar, Tornado E.

Tornado E: Oh.  Sweet Girl!  Do you like the dollar?!

Me: Look at it this way.  Sweet Girl has supplied a need.  She’s started her own business.

Sweet Girl’s Mother: Thanks a lot, Fae.  Now I have to get her tax forms.

Me: Happy to help.