Clever Boy

We were watching Tornado E’s karate class, when Tornado A noticed the woman in front of him was playing some sort of Bejeweled game with a Frozen theme.

Tornado A: That’s a cool game, Mommy.

Me: Yes.

Tornado A: Can we get it?

Me: I don’t know.  We’ll see.

Tornado A: I can get it.  I’ll sneak and get it tonight.

Me: What?

Tornado A: Tonight I will sneak out.  You will be reading, so I will sneak out to the car.  And I will get it then.

Me: What will you do at the car?

Tornado A: I can drive it.

Me: Oh.  How will you get the game?

Tornado A: I will sneak out and get it.

Me: Oh.

Tornado A: Do you have a tablet?

Me: (Dear Lord.) No.  I don’t.

Tornado A: Then I will get it on your phone.  It will have to be smaller.

Me: I love you, kid.

Tornado A: I love you too, Mommy.

Note to self: Hide the credit cards and block the app store on the phone.


Another Pesky Language Problem

What the hell?

What the hell?

What the hell? said the 3 year-old.

And I thought, “Oh, that is f-ing awesome.”


Tornado A: What the hell?

Me: No.  What is that?


Tornado A: What the hell?

Me: No.  Why did you do that, Tornado E?


Tornado A: What the hell?

Me: No.  We don’t say that.  What’s that noise?


Tornado A: What the hell?

Me: No.  Tornado S, why did you take the toy?


Tornado A: What the hell, Mommy?

Me: No.  What are you doing, Mommy?


Insert a dozen more corrections.  I start to debate soap.  I start to question my approach.  Why did I just ignore it the first?  He’s too old.  I just didn’t realize he knew what it meant.  I thought he was playing with language.  Christ, he has school.  He goes to a Christian preschool.  Why did I sign him up for preschool?  Oh, right, practicums.  But still!

Tornado A: What the hell?

Me: Tornado A.  You say that again, and you will be going to time out.

Tornado A: No, time out, Mommy.

Me: Then do not say, “What the hell” again.  No more.  Or time out.

5 minutes later . . . .

Tornado A: What the hell?

Me: Time out!

Tornado A: No, Mommy!  No!

Me: You’re not allowed to say “what the hell.”  Time out time.

I set him in the chair.  He scowled.  I scowled back and then ignored him, concentrating on Twitter and Facebook and texting as the timer ran.

Tornado A: What the hell?  What the hell?  What the hell?  What the hell?  What the hell?  What the hell?  What the hell?  (for a full minute and a half.)

He hasn’t said it since, but I’m waiting.

What the hell is wrong with this kid?


Tornado A is swimming.  With a little help.  He’s still learning to try to breathe.

And he’s trying to dive.  His first attempt he almost had it.  He watched Tornado E dive. Then Tornado A got up, put his hands in a triangle above his head, and jumped out, arms first.  It was nearly a swimmer’s dive.

First we noticed Tornado A was swimming on the second step.  Enough water to swim but shallow enough to touch the bottom.  He would swim back and forth; while, I swam the length of the pool.  Each time there and back is just over 25 yards, so I’ve been working on hitting a couple hundred yards every day.

I love swimming.  I love the feel of the water.  I love the feel of moving through the water.  It’s like flying.  It’s like dancing.  It’s amazing.  It keeps me balanced and whole.  Naturally I’m excited to swim with the boys and share that love with them.

But today, Tornado A decided to swim laps too.  I said hi to him and pushed off the steps to do a lap.  I noticed he pushed off as well.  I stopped, ready to catch him.  Instead Tornado A swam to my dad.  I shrugged and took off again.  I flipped my turn and headed back, just as I reached my dad and Tornado A, he launched off my dad’s leg and started swimming with me.  I got to the step and pulled him up.

Tornado A said, “Let’s go, Mommy!”

He launched off again, and so did I.  He swam to my dad, and I swam to the wall to flip.  As I passed my dad, Tornado A launched himself again.  I made it to the wall first and pulled Tornado A to me.  He placed his feet on the second step.

Tornado A said, “Let’s go, Mommy!”

He launched off again, swimming for my dad as I launched off swimming for the wall.

We did this a dozen times.  On the last few laps, I asked if he wanted to stop.  “NO, MOMMY!  Let’s go!”

I’ve created a swimmer.

Not another penis rule

Tornado S: Mommy!  How many penises does a snowman have?

Me: Um, what?  What?!

Tornado S: TWO!  One to keep!  And one to throw at people!

Me: What?

Tornado S: Mommy!  How many penises does a monster have?!

Me: Tornado S, I don’t know if-

Tornado S: TWO!  One to pee with!  And one to throw at good guys!

Me: Tornado S, we need to talk.  About these jokes.  We don’t make jokes about penises.  And-

Tornado S: Mommy!  How many penises do I have?!

Me: Oh, dear God, no.

Tornado S: ONE!!!  I fooled you, Mommy!  You were going to say two!

Me: No.  I happen to know you only have one.

Tornado S: Mommy!

Me: Tornado S!  No more jokes about penises.

Tornado S: But they’re funny.

Me: No.  No, they’re not.  I’m sorry, but you have to know, as part of the clan, you have to work on your material.  It’s just the way it is in the family.  And no more penis jokes.

Tornado S: But-

Me: No.

Christ, I thought I had until Tornado E went to camp.  Does any one know how many penis rules I’m up to now?  Because I forgot.

Words from the boys

Tornado S: Mommy, can you buy me Lucky Charms?  They’re on my diet!

(Note: Their father discusses what’s on his diet.)


Tornado S: Mommy!  Did you you hear that big noise?  Do you know what that was?  That was me cleaning up my toys!

(Note: Without being asked!)


Tornado S: Mommy!  I have a big hug here!  Do you want it?!

Me: Of course.

(He had his arms clasped behind his back and threw his arms around me to give me a bear hug.)


Me: You’re one of my favorite boys.

Tornado E: I am?!

Me: Yup!  Do you know how many I have?

Tornado E: THREE!

Me: Yup!  I’m pretty lucky!

Tornado E: Why aren’t Uncle Face and Uncle Friendly Giant your favorite boys too?

Me: Um.

(I’m just glad he didn’t ask about his father.)


Tornado E: Can you buy me a night cap?

Me: I don’t think they make them anymore.

Tornado E: Ok.  I’ll just wear my pajama pants on my head.

(Your guess is as good as mine.)



(Ok, so it’s not clever.  But when he runs at me with his arms wide out and yelling that, it’s damn cute.)

(This post was written three times on three different topics/stories.  I blame the kid laying down, whining that he didn’t want me to read to him.)


When asked who are mother’s favorite is, my brothers and I respond different.  They say me.  I maintain its Face.  When she is in the room, we all say a different sibling.  Because it’s fun to irritate my mother.  But truly it’s Face.  “But he was in trouble the most!  I punished him the most!” my mother says.  True, but if I had done any of the things he had done, I would have been locked up in a convent until I was 18.

When we are asked about our dad’s favorite, we all look at each other and shrug.  I don’t know.


When talking to other moms, the discussion of favorites comes about.  Usually to deny favorites or secretly admit them.  I always boasted, “Tornado A’s my favorite!  He can’t run away or back talk!”

Guess what.  He can.  Which means I need a new catch phrase.

“It changes from minute to minute.”


Tornado E: You look like a zombie.

He was immediately demoted to below his brothers.  Since it was the *Very First* thing he said today, he was demoted beneath my books, chocolate, and hot showers.

Tornado S: Wow!  Mommy, you cleaned the whole house!

He was immediately my favorite because it was said without sarcasm and with enthusiasm.

Tornado A ran and hugged me.

He was immediately my favorite.

Tornado E: Mommy, you make the best breakfasts!

Tornado E was immediately my favorite.

Tornado E: Mommy, your tummy is bigger than daddy’s!  You have a fat tummy!  (Tornado E  was immediately demoted under his brothers.  Again.)

Tornado S: Mommy, you’re fat!  (Tornado S was immediately demoted with Tornado E.  If we had a pet, they would be beneath the pet.)

Tornado E: And you have a fat butt!  (Laughter from both boys)

Tornado S was demoted beneath books, chocolate, and hot showers.  Tornado E was demoted beneath books, movies, all desserts, hot showers, and Disneyland.

And in *my* defense, I am NOT bigger than the ex.  I do NOT have a bigger gut than the ex.  And my pajama pants make my butt look big.  AND all of this happened in the first hour of the day!

My Mom: Well, in their defense, Fae, you could stand to lose five to ten pounds.

My mom was now demoted beneath the boys, my father, my brothers, my sister-in-law, my friends, and my favorite grandma.

Tornado S: HUG!  (He wrapped me into a bear hug.)

He was now my favorite.

Tornado A hugged me.

He was now my favorite.

Tornado E waited until the boys are doing something else and hugged me.

Tornado E: I love you, Mommy.

Tornado E was my favorite.

Look at that.  Three favorites.

And my mom is still demoted.

Some days

She looked like she was just one temper tantrum short of having one herself.  She looked like she could nap while the kids watched tv, drinking chocolate milk and eating cookies.  She looked like she did the bedtime countdown in her head and realized lunch wasn’t even served.  She looked like she could use some time off, a hug, and some chocolate and a stiff drink.  She looked done.

And she never looked like that.  Sure, she was always in a rush.  She always had her hands full of a boy.  She always seemed to be juggling something, on her way to something.  Her voice sometimes had a pleading edge to it, but it worked, so who am I to judge?  She never looked perfectly put together, just perfectly managing mom.  She looked overwhelmed but dealing with it.  And I wanted to be her friend because I got her.  Just by looking at her.

But today.  She looked like she was going through hell, and we all can get that.

Our eyes met as she handed me the pencil to sign out Tornado S.

She: I’ve been here the whole time because of the price of gas.

I’m not sure what happened, but I knew they were down to one car for a few weeks.  It was so tight that her middle son couldn’t come to school because he didn’t have a ride.  I only knew this because I accidentally ease-dropped.  I also knew she just started driving this beast of a van that saw better days two decades ago.  I got that.  It reminded me of my childhood as my parents stretched a dollar into two.  And of my last few years.

Me: Oh, that sucks.  Well, now you can go home.  And put the little guy to bed.

I nodded my head in the directions of her third son who was in a staring contest with Tornado A.  She had boys the same ages of my boys.  Her boys loved Star Wars.  It’s amazing we haven’t gotten them together before now.

She: He’s been good.  But I’m so done.  So done. I-



She: Her Boy, she will call us.  We will set a date.  It’ll happen.

Me: Not today, Tornado S.  During Spring Break.

She: We need to go.  No.  We need to go now.  Her Boy.  NOW.  Get off the trike.  Get off the trike.  Get your brother.  No, don’t fight over the trike.  No one is riding the trike.  No one.  Stop it.  Boys!

Me: Tornado S, why don’t we walk Her Boy to the car?


Her Boys:  YEAH!  COME ON!

All four boys ran towards the parking lot.

She: Not the street!

Me: Give it a moment.  HOLD UP, BOYS!

The boys all stopped.  Even the toddlers.  I smiled at her.  She smiled back.  Weakly.

We walked the boys across the parking lot as she tried to maintain a grip on her toddler, trying to keep the trike out of his reach.  And then when she opened up the van, the toddler threw a massive temper tantrum.  She looked frazzled and embarrassed.

Me: Toddlers!  This is what they do.

She smiled.  Weakly.  She strapped the shrieking toddler in his car seat.  She looked at me.  I touched her arm.

Me: It’s ok.  Some days are just a count down to bedtime.  And right now, it’s nap time.  You’re a good mother, and today was just an annoying day.  Soldier on, warrior.

She smiled.

She: Thanks.  I just need to get home, and then I’ll feel better.

Me: I know.  Besides that’s where the duct tape is.

She laughed.

A Discussion with a Four Year Old

Tornado S: Where is the Emperor?

Me: What?

Tornado S: Where is the Emperor?

Me: I don’t know, sweetheart.

Tornado S: YOU do know!

Me: No.  I do not.  It’s not my toy.  Where did you have it last?

Tornado S: I don’t know.  YOU do!

Me: No.  I don’t.

Tornado S: It’s in the car!  Get it!

Me: No.  Hold on.  (pause) No.  It’s not in the car.  You took your lightsaber and blanky with you.  Not your Star Wars figures.

Tornado S: No!  I had the Emperor!

Me: No.  You had your lightsaber.  Remember?

Tornado S: Where is the Emperor?!  Get it!

Me: I don’t know where it is.

Tornado S: Yes, YOU do!

Me: (sigh. pause.  think.) You had it on your dresser while you dressed.  Did you move it?

Tornado S: You’re right!!!  It’s on my dresser.

Me: Well, then.  Now you know where it is.

Tornado S: Go get it!

I’m going to find some chocolate.

Things I learned at Pre-Kindergarten

1. If an animal is kind, sweet, and considerate, it *must* be a girl.  It doesn’t matter if she has a boy’s name.  Just ask any four-year-old girl.

2. We are not allowed to draw guns because they are “inappropriate at school.” (and yes, the four-year-old who used that word)

3. You have ten minutes at a project before they cannot contain the energy bottling up in their little bodies.

4. “Simon Says” is a great game to keep four-year-olds occupied.

5. Never let a four-year-old lead “Simon Says” if you want them to stay in one place, be somewhat quiet, or have the command take less than two minutes.

6. If they run, they race.

7. Some of those shoes those girls have, I want in adult sizes.

8. Nothing is cuter than Tornado S beaming and waving from his spot at circle time when I walk into the room.

That doesn’t make any sense

Tornado S has a new tactic in use of logic and reason to argue his way out of anything he doesn’t want to do.

Me: Tornado S, eat breakfast.  You don’t want to be late.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.

Me: If you don’t eat, then you don’t get dressed, then you don’t get to school on time.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.


Me: Tornado S!  Get dressed!

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.

Me: Yes, it does.  Do you want to go to school naked?

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.


Me: Tornado S!  Hurry!  We have to get you to school.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.

Me: You have to go to school.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.


Me: Tornado S, it’s time to practice writing your name.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.

Me: If you want to play anything, you have to do your name.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.


Me: Tornado S, it’s time to shut off the Wii and TV.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.

Me: It does because we have to go get Tornado E.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.


Me: Stop playing and go wash up for dinner.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.

Me: Yes, it does.  It’s dinner time.  You need to wash your hands.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.


Me: It’s time to pick up the toys.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.

Me: If you want to keep them from being broken, if you want to find them in the morning, if you don’t want to trip, it makes perfect sense.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.


Me: Hurry up!  It’s time to get out of the bath.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.

Me: (sigh)


Me: Ok.  It’s time for bed.

Tornado S: That doesn’t make any sense.

Me: ….


Tornado S: No.  You have to take the light saber out of him or he’ll die.  The light saber is in his chest.  We have to pull it out, and then he’ll live.

Me: That doesn’t make any sense.