Worry dolls

My mom had been trying for two years to get me to take the last of my stuff out of her house.  I resist because I’m renting and my rental is tiny.  (Crap. The last and best excuse is going to disappear in less than a month.)  But every so often she unloads something on me, usually without me knowing.  Like handing one of the boys an old toy or three.  Recently she gave Tornado E a small collection of worry dolls.

And Tornado E loved them, sticking them in his backpack and taking them to school.  When school let out, he gathered a large circle of his friends and pulled out the worry dolls with flourish.

Tornado E: HERE THEY ARE!  See these are worry dolls!  You tell them your worries, and they keep them for you!  Wanna try?!

The kids: YEAH!!! ME!!!! ME!!! ME!!!!

Hands stretched out, demanding for a doll.

Tornado E: HOLD ON!  I’ll go first.

The parents leaned in close.  I held my breath.  Finally a look into his little soul to see what I can do to help ease the transition, to help him heal, to make him better.

Tornado E: (took a breath) I worry that a hippo will run me over!


KJ: I worry a buffalo will eat me!

The Nice Girl: I worry we’ll hit a turtle!

Boy Twin: I worry a hippo will run me over!

Girl Twin: I worry an alligator will run me over!

K: I worry a deer will run me over!

RJ: I worry a deer will eat me!

I forgot.  Tornado E’s class is full of budding comedians, trying to one up each other.


Creating a little magic

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.  Sort of.  I wasn’t grumpy.  Just blah.  Everything had a negative outlook to it.

My head was filled with dark thoughts that I couldn’t shake.  Even after I meditated.  Even after I played my songs for just this kind of an emergency.  Even after a little bit of chocolate.  Just blah.

Then it took forever to get the boys dressed and ready to go.  And I couldn’t find my sunglasses.  And I had to threaten to get them in the car. And I forgot the coupons I needed.  And no, you may not have any juice.  We were done with one of the errands when I realized I didn’t have my receipt to pick up my pictures.  I drove back to the house.  Where is the damn receipt?  F-it.  And sure, there was no line at the bread store.  And sure, I did clean the bathrooms while waiting for the boys.  But I was blah.

Then I learned that I had waited too long to pick up my pictures, and they were gone.  And I wish I had someone to blame, but really I only had myself.  But we only found a shirt for Tornado E at the store, so we needed to go somewhere else for an Easter shirt for Tornado A.  And then the customer at the cash register was difficult with a difficult problem that took forever.  And then I had to take away our lunch plans because the boys weren’t listening.  And the boys were running around like mad.  We stopped at the fountain outside and threw coins to make wishes.  “Please give me one for the win column,” I whispered for I was feeling blah.

So the next store we found a shirt for Tornado A, and the boys sat next to the stroller like I ordered them.  We stood in a long line waiting to pay.  I noticed a tube of touchable bubbles for $2.  What the hell?  I needed something because I was feeling blah.

While we were rung up, the sweet cashier carried on a conversation with the boys.  They stood still and answered her.  She sent us a way with a smile and pocket full of change.

We returned to the fountain, and I divided the change between the boys.  I opened up the bubbles and started blowing.  Because they were the touchable type, they didn’t pop easily.  In just a few minutes the courtyard to the mall entrance was filled with bubbles.

My boys danced around, popping bubbles, laughing, dodging people.  Other children, walking with their families, stopped to pop a bubble or two and laugh.  People, coming from the parking lot, stopped and smiled before entering the mall.  Those coming out of the mall paused with surprise and amazement.  I kept filling the air with bubbles, laughing.  It was like magic.

One woman, arms full with bags, stopped and popped a bubble next to her before returning to her conversation with her friend.

A fast-walking man smiled down at the boys, when he had to dodge them as they chased their bubbles.

Tornado A squealed from his stroller, tiny hands reaching for the bubbles.

And I laughed to watch it all unfold as I kept filling the air with bubbles.

“They’re having lots of fun aren’t they.”

I turned to the voice.  A guy, dressed fashionably in goth, ear-buds hanging around his neck,  holding a smoking cigarette, smiled down at me.

“Yes, I am.  Yes, they are.”

“Would you mind if I gave them some coins for the fountains?”

“Uh, no.  Thank you.”

“Here, little dude.  Open your hand.”

He leaned down and poured coins into Tornado S’s hand.

“What do you say?” I prompted.

“Thank you.”

“Here you go, little dude.  No, open your hand.  There.”

He poured coins into Tornado E’s hand.

“What do you say?”

“Thank you.”

The guy smiled.

“Have a good day!”

“Thank you!  You too!”

He walked into the mall.

I finished off the bottle of bubbles.  Then we left, and the world seemed filled with magic and bubbles.

A liar out of me

We stayed longer at the school on Friday afternoon to celebrate Tornado A’s birthday.  As the kids played in the only stretch of lush grass on campus, the sprinklers turned on.  Kids being kids, they romped, screaming through the cold water.

The mothers and I shrugged and continued our conversation, stopping to shag the stray soccer ball.

I looked over to see Tornado E strip his shirt and swing it around and around his head as he galloped around his friends.  Not to be out done, K took off her shirt.  Her mother was horrified using all three K’s names and demanded K put on her shirt this very instant.

I was about to remark that such a thing was natural and ok and –

Tornado E: Boobies!  Boobies!  Boobies!

Me (In The Voice): Tornado E C L, you be quiet and come here NOW!

My instincts roared for me to either strangle him or lecture him within an inch of his life.


Me: Tornado E, that was not appropriate.  We do not chant boobies.  We do not make fun of people when they take off their clothes.  We do not talk that way about girls’ bodies.  Now apologize to K and Mrs. E RIGHT. NOW.

K had her shirt on and looked ashamed. Tornado E apologized.  I walked over to K’s mom.

Me: She was just copying Tornado E.  She was just being a kid.

K’s Mom: I know.  But if her father saw.  She’s already kissing boys, and now she’s stripping.  We talked about this.  (sigh)

Me: Well, contrary to the scene just now, I am trying to raise a gentleman and not some white trash frat boy. (sigh)

Kids.  As my grandma says, “They’ll make a liar out of you every time.”


I have hinted before that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer last November.  It has really shaken things up here.  Not only did it make a crappy year even crappier (stupid 2010), it has changed how often we see my parents as well as altered my babysitting help. It has darkened my mortality, but it has brought out the optimism and fighting nature of my mom.  Granted, it helped that she realized she needed back on antidepressants.  And yes, my dad and brother are grateful.

But with cancer-fighting comes chemo.  And with chemo comes the dramatic loss of hair.  As my mom struggled with the thought of being bald, my dad made the decision to finally shave his head, something my mom had wanted him to do for years.  It was a huge thing for my dad because he’s been bald for years, and the thought of loosing ALL of his hair nearly killed him.  Since my dad was doing it, my baby brother volunteered.  That was a huge deal because his widow’s peak gets more noticable by the month, and he prefers to hide it.

Since my dad and baby brother were shaving their heads, my mom asked me what I was planning to do.  For five agonizing minutes I thought.  “Mom.  (deep breath)  (another deep breath)  What about the Little Brother?”  Yeah, I couldn’t do it.  (And apparently, neither could he.  Wuss.)

But since my mom, my dad, the most favorite uncle – The Friendly Giant- were shaving their heads, Tornado E decided to do the same.  What could we say?  Sure, he doesn’t know exactly why everyone is doing it.  It’s not the same sacrifice.  But he did in solidarity too.

So we took him to get his head shaved.

After two passes with the razor, Tornado E turned to me and said, “Mommy, I’m done now.”

Um, no.

With just one more pass to go on the razor, Tornado E turned to me, “I like it like this.  Can we stop now?”

Um, hell, no.

When it was all shaved off, Tornado E looked at himself in the mirror, giggled, and whirled around the barber shop like the tornado he is.  He loved it.  We loved it.  My mom cried when she saw it.  Some of the moms at school cried when they saw it.

The next day, Tornado E jumped around the house in the middle of some daydream.  He looked up and called, “HEY, MOMMY!  You need to buy me a wig now that I’m bald!”

Um, no.

I’m thankful that I didn’t allow his head to get flat.

Match the reaction

  1. (Loud Crash) (giggle)  Mommy!  You’ve got to see this!
  2. (Loud Crash) Wha!
  3. (Loud Crash) CRAP!  I mean.  crap.
  4. (Loud Crash) Uh-oh!  MOMMMMMMMYYYYYY!

A. Fae

B. Tornado E

C. Tornado A

D. Tornado S

Aren’t you starting a little young?

Last year, Tornado E had a little girlfriend KJ.  She adored Tornado E talking about him all the time.  Tornado E adored her because she was energetic and loved playing tag.  KJ’s mom adored Tornado E because he was a sweet, bright kid.  I adored KJ because she was a whirlwind and a tomboy.  KJ’s dad was not in an adoring mood.  KJ’s attention has never wavered.  Tornado E’s has.

Tornado E: Daddy!  I have two girlfriends!

The Husband: From your lips to God’s ears, son.

I was less than amused at that comment, but we’re talking kindergartners here.  How much trouble could they get into?

A couple of days ago I had to gather up the boys right after school to go pay for Tornado E’s milk card.

Tornado E: K!  I have to go to the office!  We’ll be right back!

K came running in her bohemian outfit and boots.

K: That’s ok!  I’ll wait!

Then she kissed him on his cheek.

Tornado E pretended to faint.

K giggled and ran off.

Tornado E got back to his feet and beamed.

I cocked an eyebrow.

Me: My boy, you are melodramatic.

Tornado E: I’m not melodramatic!  I’m dramatic!

Oh, kid, I’m going to have to beat in gentlemanly behavior into you or you are going to lose your favorite appendage sooner rather than later.

Love is . . .

Over the weekend.

Tornado E: Mommy!  Our Bible verse this month is “Love is patient.  Love is kind.”

Me: “It does not boast.  It is not proud . . . ”  (I think you get the idea without me quoting the whole thing.  It’s always helpful to have a few biblical verses memorized in case of exorcisms.  And with the way Tornado E is acting lately, I might need one, but that is a different post.)

Tornado E: WOW!  Mommy!  That was neat!

Me: It’s important to know what love is, darling.

It’s kind of neat to hear your kid quote the Bible.  Neat, and slightly weird.


Tornado E: Mrs. S told us the whole thing you said!  “Love is patient.”

Me: Good.  Love is all kinds of things.

Tornado E: Like hugs and kisses.

Me: Yes.

Tornado S: Like “I love you Mommy.”

Me: Yes.

Tornado E: Like doing nice things.

Me: Yes.

Tornado S: Like Count Dooku and Anakin Skywalker.

Me: Um.

Tornado E: Like The New Weapon!

Tornado S: Like General Grievous!

May day.  May day.

Tornado E: Like blood and guts!

Tornado S: Like brains!

Yup.  Lost total control over this discussion.

Tornado E: Like worms and mud!

Tornado S: Like-

And I left the room.  I’m starting to suspect that Y chromosome is a more powerful than I gave it credit for.

We’ll see about that

Sometimes I get so excited about a brilliant idea that I forget about the inevitable consequences.  Like the first time I ate at Cold Stone, and I was warned not to get more than two mix-ins.  I think I ended up with six and a stomach ache.  Nice.  Or when I decided it was a great idea to introduce the boys to Lego Star Wars.

It made perfect sense.  In my head.  The boys love Legos.  They love video games.  They LOVE Star Wars.  What possible could go wrong?


The kind where every waking moment was consumed with the thought of Lego Star Wars.  They wanted to play it every minute they were home, and barring that, they played it in their minds.  They no longer played Star Wars.   They played Lego Star Wars.  They were actual Lego toys in the Lego land of Star Wars.  It was a sickness that descended on the house.

The worst parts were the side-effects.  The potty accidents because they would NOT hit pause.  The tantrums over “the game not working right.”  The tantrums because Tornado S wasn’t doing what Tornado E wanted him to do.  The tantrums when it was time to shut off the game.  The tantrums when they wanted to play the game.  Like I said, a sickness.

It all came to a head the other day.  Tornado E was upset that “the game wasn’t working right.”  As I made my way over to Tornado E to help calm him down, he threw the remote in anger.  That’s bad.  It hit Tornado A square in the back.  That’s even worse.

With a centering breath, I launched into action.  I told Tornado E to SIT while I checked Tornado A, who was unphased by the whole thing.  I marched Tornado E to the time out seat and plunked him down, reminding myself that even if it’s easier, spanking was not the answer.  I set the timer.  I turned off the Wii.  I sent Tornado S off to play outside.  I fumed as I worked on dinner.  The time went off, and I retrieved Tornado E from time out, kneeling to look directly into his eyes.

Me: Do you know why you’re in time-out?

Tornado E: Because I threw the remote.

Me: AND you hit Tornado A with it.  I want you to apologize to Tornado A and give me a hug.  And because you chose not to control yourself, you will not be able to play Lego Star Wars for the rest of the day and tomorrow.

Tornado E: Sorry, Tornado A.  That’s ok, Mommy.  You’re going to forget.

I raised an eyebrow in disbelief and stormed into the office, thinking Wanna f-ing bet?  I grabbed a sheet of paper out of the printer, stormed back into the great room, snatching a marker off the kids’ table.  I bit off the cap and spat it out.  I wrote in huge letters, “Tornado E doesn’t play Lego Star Wars.”  Then I taped it on the wall next to the TV.  You wanna test your Mama?  We’ll play.

Now where’s that marker cap?

Another crappy first

I had a first the other day.  And not a happy first like baby’s first tooth or the first time you saw a really great movie or a first kiss.  No, an unhappy one.  Like the first time you got a zit.  Or the first time you were pulled over.  Or the first time I washed my hands with bleach.  Like I did the other day.  Why?  A funny story, that.

In the midst of making dinner, in the midst of Tornado A’s witching hour when he NEEDS to be held NOW, in the midst of sending Tornado E to time out for wailing on Tornado S (though surprisingly Tornado S was fine), Tornado E went to the bathroom.  As he pulled off the toilet paper, the roll fell of the spindle and into the toilet.  The toilet with crap in it.

So I heard this:



I came running to find Tornado E standing there with his pants and underwear around his ankles.


And then I looked in the toilet.


For a moment, I reflected on the fact that I had lost my keys down a toilet a year and half ago, and if those keys could be flushed down a toilet, then surely this plastic tube could be too.  But the toilet that swallowed my tasty keys was a public restroom with a powerful, face-sucking flush.  This was a rental.


I grabbed the ever so small sliver sticking out of the water.  I let it drip.  I wrapped it in a tissue and ran for my bathroom, where I dropped in the sink.  I proceeded to scrub my hands.  Once.  Twice.  Thrice.  Four time.  Five.  Six.  Seven.  And where’s the bleach?

And then I washed my hands with bleach.  And then two more times with soap and water.  I let the spindle soak in bleach and water.  Ewwww.

And dinner – Crap.


It must be hard being younger than almost all your playmates.  After school every day, Tornado S joins the kindergartners in their games.  He’s younger, smaller, and still talks with a toddler accent.  But none of this stops him from hiding, running, chasing, light saber fighting.

The other day Tornado S came crying to me.  I got down on one knee, balancing Tornado A on the other and held my arm out for a hug.

Me: What’s wrong, Tornado S?

Tornado S: M-m-my friendssssssss w-w-w-won’t playwithme!

Me: I’m so sorry, sweetheart.  Let’s think of something else to play.

Tornado S: N-n-n-no!  I w-w-w-want tobeaJedi!

I gave him another hug and tried to think of something to say.  When S walked out of the classroom, he was being released to his dad.  He came walking over to Tornado S and I.

S: Tornado S.  What’s wrong?

Tornado S: M-m-my friendssssss w-w-w-won’t playwithme!

S: (patting Tornado S on the arm) I have to go with my dad right now, but tomorrow we’ll play Jedis, ok?  Will you play Jedis with me, Tornado S?

Tornado S: (sniffle, wipe away tears and {ewwww} snot)  OK!  That’ll be great!

S: So tomorrow we’ll play Jedi’s!  Bye, Tornado S.  Bye, Tornado E’s Mom!

S ran to his dad; Tornado S ran to play by himself; I was surprised at the empathy five-year-old boys had.

Yesterday as my sons tried to hitch a ride with S and his family (because our car and our house are not nearly as fun), I told S’s mom about the incident.  We awed together, and then I extracted my boys from her car.  As they drove away, S rolled down his window.


Tornado S: OK!!!!

Isn’t that just like a middle kid?  Already creating his own family.