A Mother’s Son

While staying at a friend’s place this weekend, I fell asleep with Tornado A and Tornado S, who was suppose to be reading us a story.  My friend tried to keep Tornado E occupied, instead of letting him wake us up.  So she asked him questions.  He told her about the book he was reading and his favorite animals and all about dragons.  A lot about dragons.  For an hour, he talked all about dragons like they were a real, scientific species.

She shook her head and whispered, “You are your mother’s son.”

When I woke up and joined them, she told me the whole story.

My friend: He is your son.

I smiled.

Tornado E: Of course, I am.  Why wouldn’t I be?

I love that kid.


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.

A New Game

Tornado A has always had insomnia.  It takes him an hour or more to fall asleep.  Then about once a week, he’s awake for 2 to 3 hours.  Now he can be lulled to stay in my bed listening to his favorite album.  Nothing quiet and soft either.  This summer he began sleeping on the floor with his brothers, and the insomnia stopped.  Until his father started taking custody.

The only nice thing is he plays a new game with me while he does his bedtime battle.

Tornado A: I need a hug.

I hugged him.

Tornado A: I need a kiss.

I kissed him.

Tornado A: I need a big hug.

I hugged him tighter and longer.

Tornado A: I need a big kiss.

I gave him a loud smacking kiss on his cheek.

Tornado A: I need a bigger hug.

I squeeze him tighter and longer.

Tornado A: I need a bigger kiss.

I gave him a louder smacking kiss on his cheek.

Tornado A: I need a little hug.

I hugged him quickly.

Tornado A: I need a little kiss.

I gave him a quick peck.

Tornado A: (whispering) I need a tiny hug.

I gave him a quick squeeze.

Tornado A: (whispering) I need a tiny kiss.

I gave him a gentle, quick peck.

Sometimes it goes on a little bit.  If he does it randomly during the day, I swing him around.

But how can I resist this game?  Even at bedtime?

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?

First Day of School

(How can it be Wednesday already?  Those dragons are taking it out of me.  All the more reason to write.  Moving on….)

Last week was Tornado A’s first day of school.  I was a nervous wreck.  Not because I thought he would cry and never let me go, but because I was sure he would run off without a backward glance.

The week before, the school held an open house for the children to meet each other and the teachers.  As soon as we were in the classroom, Tornado A let go of my hand and ran over to the toys.  He was quick to engage other children in play.  I just stood back and watched him.  I was amused by the other parents because many were first-timers.  I could tell because they hovered around their children, trying to play with their children, introducing their children to other children, trying to get their children to play with other children.

“He’s ready,” said the teacher.  A woman who had worked in the office for all the years I had brought my boys to this school.

“And I’m not,” I said with a sigh.

“You’ll be fine.”

“I know.  But that’s my baby.”

We watched Tornado A for a few minutes.

“He certainly is comfortable.”

“He’s bright too.  So good luck.”  I smiled at the teacher.  She gave me an uncertain smile before being pulled away by a first-timer.

So when the first day happened, Tornado A was ready.  He was more than ready.  He was waiting.  “I go to school?!”

“Yes, and you won’t see Mommy for a long time.  Won’t that be fun?  Not seeing Mommy?” said the oldest child.  I wanted to spray him with a water gun.

“It’s going to be your first day.  You’re going to have so much fun at school!” I answered, shooting a don’t-you-dare-mess-with-your-brother look at Tornado E.

And after we dropped off the older boys, staying for the assembly, Tornado A wanted to be off, begging me to leave so he could go to school.  Finally I relented.  So we were going to be ten minutes early.  No big deal, right?

Then as I was about to make my left turn into the school parking lot, Tornado A vomited and vomited and vomited.  So instead of making my left turn, I did a U-turn and raced for home, five minutes down the street.  As soon as I was parked and out of the car, I yanked Tornado A out and tore off his clothes, whispering reassurances as he kept repeated “I threw up!”  I raced him upstairs and ran a quick bubble bath.  As the water ran, I ran downstairs and yanked the car seat out, which was the only thing he tagged other than his clothes.  I plopped Tornado A into the bath.  I raced to get clothes for him.  I got him crackers and some juice.  I scrubbed him off.  I dried him off.  I dressed him and ran him downstairs.  I placed him in his brother’s seat and said a prayer.  Hell, it was what I had at his age, and my mom drove a tiny two-door.  I got him back to school five minutes late.

I sent him into the class, explaining to the assistant teacher.  I grabbed a quick kiss and nudged him into the room.  I did it.

And I returned to an empty house.  With vomit-filled clothes and car seat.  Awesome.

And when I picked Tornado A up a few hours later, he ran to me.  I picked him up.  I wanted to say, “Did you miss me?!”

But instead, I said, “How was your day?”

Tornado A smiled and said, “This school is awesome!”


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.


The other day I was checking out Facebook when I came across my friend’s post where she mentioned her son was “a little bad boy” who wouldn’t stay still for pictures and they had to leave but there where other “bad little children.”  I was horrified.  Who calls her kid or any children “bad?”  Lord knows that I’ve had my fill of crazy, chaotic behavior that has made me want to pull my hair and yank my child and punish him within an inch of his life, but I have never called him “bad.”

This is when on “The Daily Show” they would cue the montage of all that I’ve called my children.

Tornadoes, rebels, demons, possessed by demons, TWO, hoodlums, Tornado E-Tornado A- I mean TORNADO S!, Tornado A-Tornado S- I mean TORNADO E!, what ever kid you are!, “What is wrong with that kid?”  And let’s not forget three years ago when I threatened Tornado E with “I’m going to let wolves raise you.”  (Yeah, he and I were confused by that too.)

But I never called them “bad boys” to anyone.  I simply implied it.  And that, folks, is good parenting.  Because they haven’t linked calling your kids “tornadoes” regularly (whether to the child or to another person) as psychologically damaging.  It’s a grey area.

The M&M Caper

I have a bowl of M&Ms in the kitchen.  It seemed Tornado E and Tornado S collected candy from school, birthday parties, holidays, and poor Tornado A never had any.  Tornado E would ask for candy for dessert instead of the home-made goodie of the week, and poor Tornado A would want some too.  So I got a bowl of M&Ms.  They were dessert.  They were special treats.  They were awesome.

Friday as I talked to my mom on the phone, I walked into the kitchen and notice an M&M on the floor.  Huh.  Then I noticed another.  And then another.  A small trail of M&Ms.  I looked over at the counter, noticing the little child’s chair next to it.  On the back of the counter, nearly hidden by the bread-maker, there was an empty spot where the bowl of M&Ms should be.

Me: Oh dear.  The bowl of M&Ms is gone.  I have a trail, and then it stops.

My Mom: Really?  Which boy?

Me: Tornado A.  I heard him banging around the kitchen earlier.  (I was searching the kitchen and the connecting family room.)  I’m surprised he was able to reach out and snag it.

My mom: Ask him where it is.  I’m sure he’ll be excited to show you.

I went hunting for Tornado A who sat at the top of the stairs.

Me: TORNADO A!  Where’s the M&M bowl?  Show Mommy where the bowl is!

Tornado A smiled back at me, turned on his belly, and slid down the stairs.  He stood up at the bottom and grabbed my hand.

Tornado A: Way!

Tornado A toddled into the family room, dragging me along with him.  He went to the child-size recliner and pointed to the empty bowl.  He beamed up at me.

Tornado A: THERE!

Me: Um, Mom.  He ate almost a full bowl of M&Ms.

My mom: Oh really?  And where were you?

Me: In the shower.

I looked around.  I noticed an M&M.  Then I noticed another.  And another.  I finally collected 12 M&Ms.  I looked at Tornado A who was standing watching me.  He didn’t smell of chocolate.  He didn’t have chocolate or colored stuff on his face.  He didn’t have colors on his palms.  Huh.

I moved the recliner to see if any more where around.  It rattled.  I ran my hand between the edge of the cushion and the arm.  Several M&Ms fell to the floor.

Me: He put them in the green chair.

My mom: The child-size one?

I didn’t have any other green chairs.

Me: Yup.

My mom: Be thankful.  He didn’t eat it them.  He played with them.

Me: Thankful.  I’ve got to go and try to get M&Ms out of the chair.

My mom: Bye, sweetheart.  I love you.

Me: I love you too.  Talk to you later.

I hung up and set down the phone.  Tornado A was playing with cars.  I picked up and shook the chair, spilling M&Ms everywhere.

Tornado A: M’s!

Me: Tornado A.  Ask Mommy next time you want an M.

Tornado A: (holding up an M&M) M?

Me: (sigh) Yes.

Imagine how thankful I felt that night as I swept and mop the floor and every time I moved that damn chair more M&Ms fell out.

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.

Lucky Boy

Tornado S: I love you, Mommy!

Me: I love you, too.

Tornado S: I love you, three!

Me: I love you, four.

Tornado S: I love you, five!

Me: I love you, six.

Tornado S: I love you, SEVEN!

Ok, I think I should end this before we go up through a hundred.

Me: I love you, infinity!

And yes, Tornado S understands infinity.  Sort of.  Many things cost infinity dollars.

Tornado S: I love you, infinity plus one!

Me: Little, clever bot.

Tornado S: Wait!  I love you, INFINITY PLUS TEN!  That’s the highest number!  You can’t count any more!

Me: Wow!  I’m a lucky mommy to be loved that much.

Tornado S: I’m a lucky boy to love my mommy that much!