The Awful Game of Bowling

I have probably mentioned before my dislike for bowling. I was forced to go bowling several times a week all summer long for most of my childhood. My mother is a bowler. And bowling was torturous. No bumpers. No granny rolls. We had to mind our hold, our steps, our releases. In short, I know how to bowl.

And my boys enjoying bowling. I blame my mother. She has grand schemes of bowling every week or every other week. She insisted that I sign the boys up for free bowling, which I did.

So a few days ago, we went bowling. While the boys have gone bowling with their dad several times, it became painfully obvious that no one has taught them to bowl. Then because they are my stubborn boys, they insisted they knew what they were doing and that they didn’t need any help. Sure, kid, whatever you say.

So this is the first time I have ever witnessed a ball being thrown in a way that it looks like an air hockey puck bouncing and rebouncing off the sides of bumpers. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a ball be thrown and it hit the bumpers to collapse the bumper and then slowly return to the bowler. I have never seen until that day a pin fly out 2 yards to get stuck in a bumper. I’ve never seen a pin land in a way that it shut down the lane. This was the first time I watched a ball spin half-way down a lane and then spin back to the player. I was highly perplexed.

It’s also the first time I got 3 strikes in a row.

Now my mom wants to go again.

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A Battle of Wills and Water

I grew up in a competitive family. My parents played sports. My brothers and I played sports. We played board games and video games. We compete. Games are meant to be won. In fact, I have never finished a game of Monopoly because things would get heated when someone embezzle from the bank.

Lately my mother has been trying to compete with me. First it was over Duolingo. Now it is over steps. I refuse to be sucked into this. I shudder as I remember listening to my mother, her sister, and their mother compete over how many pounds they lost over the week. (Shudder.)

Today my parents, my boys, and I were swimming. I was forcing the boys to go over strokes when Tornado E decided to rebel in the middle of the deep in.

My mom: (To Tornado E) I bet you can’t tread water longer than me.

Tornado E did not know what she meant, and I have obviously failed as a mother. So I quickly taught him.

My mom: I bet I can tread water longer than your mom.

My eyebrow shot up. I have been swimming longer than I could walk. I spent my summer days in water, having the skin cancer to prove it. I have 12 swim seasons under my belt.

Me: Oh, I don’t think so. I can tread water longer than both you and Tornado E.

Tornado E: No, you won’t.

So we treaded water. I wish we had thought to time it. But it was too late before I thought about it. We treaded until Tornado E grew bored and complained about the contest.

Me: Fine. Quite. But I bet you I can outlast you.

Tornado E: How much?

Me: Five bucks; you can’t afford twenty.

Tornado E: You’re on.

We treaded more water and more. I regaled Tornado E with stories of treading water for five minutes and ten minutes. I told him in high school we would have to tread water without our hands.

Tornado E grew bored again.

Tornado E: What if I stopped and dunked you?

My mom laughed.

Me: Do not make me lose to your grandmother.

Tornado E: What if I did?

Me: How many workbook pages do you want to do over vacation?

With that, Tornado E turned and tried to attack my mom. She held him at bay with a foot out.

My Mom: Tornado A come play with Mama!

Tornado A, who had been torturing his Papi, turned to us with a devilish grin.

Me: Do NOT make me lose to your grandma!\

Tornado S looked over from his play with Papi. Both boys started swimming towards us.

Ah crap.

They swam straight for my mom, who held them off for a while. Barely. Seeing that they could not get close, Tornado A switched tactics. He climbed out of the pool and jumped in as close as he could to his grandma. The other two boys followed.

Tornado S: Ok. Guys. We should come from all different sides.

Me: Aww, they’re working together. (Stage whisper) Do it quieter?

My mom: Why are they all after me and not you?

Me: Because you’re the fun grandma.

I looked at my boys, trying to help me.

Me: You know. I don’t need your help to beat her.

Then the boys all jumped in. Tornado S distracted my mom; while, Tornado E dunked her. Tornado A swam into my arms and kissed me.

So I won.

And I have my own little minions willing to fight for me.

One Fine Summer Day

Today my house was a mass of chaos as four boys ran through it. They played with Nerf guns and light sabers. They played with water balloons and squirt guns. They had ice cream. They swam. They had pretzels and lemonade. They ran yelling through the house, playing and laughing. And it felt right.

I miss the days when the boys had friends over. I always had a house filled with children and chaos. Few things were breakable. Few knickknacks were about. It was easy to clean. It was easy to make my home available.

Now living with my parents, I feel like I’m imposing. My mom wants our house to be a certain type of clean. She likes it clean for company; I like it clean for function. There is a difference. I worry if something breaks or if the boys forget to clean up.

But today was nice. I pulled the older boys away to let the younger two play by themselves. I had the boys stop whenever they changed games to clean up, and then I rewarded them with some sort of treat. While I didn’t get to swim (because I thought I could do a better job refereeing and lifeguarding from outside the pool), I did join in with the water balloon fight. I hope the boys can continue inviting their friends over.

Though Tornado A needs to work on his social skills.

I had a sweet little ending that I was writing in my head before I got to my room. Then I drank some water from my glass in the bathroom. And gagged because someone accidentally put soap in it again.

Yeah, we need our own house.

My Little Morning Larks

I have mentioned before that I am a night owl and my boys are morning larks. This is not an optimal arrangement. Especially in the summer. When the sun gets up early, so they must get up early.

No matter how late they go to bed, they are up early. But now they are sleep deprived. Exhausted, cranky, emotional, energetic tornadoes. It’s not an optimal situation.

Near the end of the school, Tornado A was getting up at 5:30 and getting me up at 5:30. Because the rule is you can’t get up until 6, he would come to me and snuggle like a moving heater that takes up the bed. It was not an optimal arrangement.

So my parents bought a black out shade. The blinds are closed; the shade is down. The room is dark. And they still get up between 6 and 6:30. But after a week of 5:30 wake up calls, I’ll take it.

Please, Not Another Penis Rule

I’m afraid to say it, but we need a new Penis Rule.

Honestly, how many of these rules do we need? Thank goodness that I haven’t engraved them on a tablet somewhere. I would’ve run out of room. Did anyone know boys were this complicated?

So it turns out Tornado E is in that special time in his life where he’s growing hair where there wasn’t hair before. No word on those special feelings yet; he seems particularly obtuse.

While obviously his age and the tiny pimples gracing his face would be a clue that Tornado E is in puberty, I know about the new hair development because of two annoying brothers, who separately, within minutes, barged in on Tornado E taking a shower. With him yelling out at his brother, the brother came running, excitedly over to me to yell, “Tornado E has hair on his penis!”

……..

“Well, everyone will grow pubic hair during their puberty. One day you will grow hair there.”

Insert comment about their dad that I really don’t want to revisit.

“That’s what happens when you’re an adult.”

Then repeat the scene all over again with the next brother.

Little brothers are annoying. I should know. I had two of them. So new rule: No more barging on siblings or parents while they are taking a shower.

There I said it. Finally.

And they respect that rule.

Unless they have to pee.

Or they want to play video games.

Or their brother has hit him.

Or he did not hit him.

Or yes, he did.

Or Papi is being mean.

Christ, when can I take a shower without being interrupted?

Only when the boys are asleep…..

Tornado A: The Self-Reported Genius

Me: How was your last day as a 2nd grader?

Tornado A: It was ok.

Me: Are you ready for 3rd grade?

Tornado A: 4th grade.

Me: What?

Tornado A: I think I need to go to 4th grade. Or 5th grade.

Right.

As I was cleaning out backpacks a few days later, I found that Tornado A’s teacher had the 2nd graders reflect and assess. Much like I do with my Freshmen.

Question 1: What was the most challenging subject this year? Why do you think it was challenging? What can you do to prepare for next year?

Tornado A’s answer: Nothing. It was too easy.

Right.

Then I got Tornado A’s report card. He failed to make straight A’s as he predicted. He got a B in spelling and B in language arts. Not bad.

And then there was this comment: Tornado A needs to slow down; he rushes his work and makes sloppy mistakes.

Right.

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.