Sunday, May 27, 2007

Nuts To Do


I've recently adopted a personal mantra which has literally changed my life. My mantra is this: Need to do, nice to do, nuts to do. I believe that every choice I make fits into one of these categories. For example:

I need to feed my kids lunch.
It would be nice to cut the crusts off the sandwiches.

It would be nuts to cut the sandwiches into stars and moons and then use fruits and vegetables to create the 8 planets of the solar system, with the sometimes planet, Pluto, represented as a cookie for dessert.

For me, it can sometimes be hard to stick to the "need to" and "nice to" and leave well enough alone with the "nuts to." Often, I don't realize I'm nuts until I'm too invested in a project to back out. And while my mantra has served me well, creating much more free time for me each day, I sometimes forget to use it and then I run into problems.

For example, the other day, Jonah asked for a cape. Specifically, he wanted a king cape. He then told me that all he wanted was a bath towel with a couple of ribbons or strings attached so he could tie it around his neck.

Well! I could do better than that! My sewing machine had just come back from a tune up and cleaning and was ready to go. Besides, a towel and a couple of strings did not make a proper cape. I told Jonah I would take him to the fabric store the next day where we would find a pattern and some fabric for a king cape.

I realized that it didn't take a PhD in costume design to make a cape. I probably could have designed something myself, or even found a free pattern on line. OK, I did find a few free patterns on line, but they just didn't meet my expectations. (My delusional, crazy, unrealistic and totally nuts expectations.)

So I went to the fabric store and came home with a bag full of stuff to make a king cape for Jonah and a superhero cape for Isaac. Unfortunately, I remembered my mantra just a little too late. Now as I look at the pile of supplies without the least desire to lift a pair of scissors, let alone put my foot to a sewing machine pedal, I can say with total certainty, "This is nuts!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Anatomy According to Jonah

The other day, Jonah had sticky hands that were desperately in need of a good washing. While he was cleaning up at the bathroom sink, he let out a frustrated cry. "I can't get the corner tips. They're still sticky!"

Had I heard him right? If not, it wouldn't be the first time I had no idea what my kids were saying. I joined him at the bathroom sink to offer my help. "Now, what's wrong?" I asked.

"I can't get the corner tips." Jonah demonstrated by interlacing his fingers and rubbing them back and forth under the water.

"What are corner tips Jonah?" I asked. Jonah pointed to the base of his fingers, right where one finger started becoming the next. Suddenly it became clear. Corner tips were the opposite of finger tips (see illustration above). Clever Jonah!


Monday, May 14, 2007

The Pet No. 4

When logic fails....

Jonah giggled, “That sounds like fun!” he said.

I’d gone too far. I’d made the giant’s capture sound like fun and I knew I was losing ground quickly. It was time to pull out my trump card.

“Jonah, get the bug out of the house right now,” I demanded.

“Why?” Jonah pleaded, “He’s my pet!”

I knew I was going to hate myself in the morning, so to speak, but I had to get the bug out of the house and was tired of trying to reason with a 4 year old. “Because I said so!” I said with as much authority as I could muster. I should have just said, because Grammy said so, which would definitely have been more convincing, but my mom was over 1000 miles and I was on my own.

“Mom!” Jonah protested.

“Just get it outside please,” and added “right now.”

“With a perfect four year old “huff,” Jonah resigned himself to his task and headed for the door. Even has I finally bid good-riddance to the bug, I understood that the next time, and there would be a next time, Jonah wouldn’t ask permission to bring a pet in the house, he’d just do it.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Pet No. 3

I'm serious...it's called woodlice! Check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodlouse (because Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information. Michael Scott, "The Office")

I knew that remaining calm worked best in these situations and even though I wanted to scream “get that thing out of here,” or drop kick it out the front door myself, I had to get Jonah on board with the idea that bugs belonged outside. In fact, the “bugs stay outside” lesson was probably one of the top 3 most important childhood lessons a mother should teach her son. It would rank somewhere just behind “don’t hide your dirty underwear under the bathroom sink” and “stuffing banana peels between the couch cushions doesn’t hide the fact that you were eating in the family room.”

“That bug likes to live under a rock and it eats little things in the dirt. It won’t be able to live inside the house.” I knew that logic was not likely to work with Jonah. He was my right-brained child and very emotional.

“I’ll just get a rock and some dirt and bring that in the house for the ball bug,” Jonah offered, “then it will be happy.”

“No, the bug won’t be happy,” I assured him. “How would you feel if some big giant came and picked you up and took you to his house and stuck you in the top drawer of his dresser? How would you feel if he put you in a box with a lid so you couldn’t get out and then shook it up so that you rolled around inside?” Surely Jonah could relate with this scene and would have a little compassion on his captive pet. Just to reinforce the idea, I grabbed Jonah playfully around the waist and galloped around the room bouncing him up and down. I swung him upside down and tossed him onto his bed.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Pet No. 2

OK, there's an unitentified bug in the house!

“Jonah, it doesn’t matter if it’s not a flying bug. Bugs need to stay outside.”

“It’s just a little ball bug.” Jonah continued. I knew the exact bug he was referring to. Also known as a potato bug, sow bug, pill bug, roll-y poll-y, and even the much too descriptive, wood lice, I knew my next task would have to be finding the bug and getting it back outside.

“Show me where the bug is right now.” I asked Jonah, and he led me to his bedroom. In his top dresser drawer was a way-too-large, clear, plastic container, the lid tightly affixed. He pulled it out and very proudly showed me his new pet, a tiny balled up thing which rolled around haphazardly in it’s plastic prison. Jonah tilted the plastic container back and forth as if he were playing some cheap game of skill, trying to drop the little ball of a bug into a non-existent hole. He looked up, certain he had successfully demonstrated all the wonderful qualities of keeping wood lice for a pet.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Moving on...The Pet

It's been a while since I've posted anything new. My little sister is here visiting for a week and we've been having fun catching up and doing sister things. Our kids are not having such a good time, however, finding any opportunity to fight, scream and cry over dramatically. Plan on me working through my pain and frustration in a creative writing kind of way. I'll be posting my thoughts on the clash of the cousins here in the coming weeks.

Here's a little something that I wrote, again about an experience with my son Jonah:


“Can I have a pet, “Jonah asked with a little too much hope and eagerness in his voice.

“What did you have in mind?” I asked. I’d been enjoying the last few chapters of a book I knew I had to finish in the next few hours not only so I could find out what happened but also so I could have a few productive days before starting the sequel.

“A bug,” Jonah said innocently enough, but I could tell it was a little more than a request.

“I don’t think we want a bug as a pet,” I tried to convince him. “Bugs do better outside where they can live with their family.” I had used the “family” argument before whenever one of my boys wanted to bring something in the house I thought should stay outside. I wasn’t proud of emotionally manipulating my boys in this way, but this argument had been successful in keeping not only pet worms and ants out of the house, but also mossy sticks and muddy rocks.

“It’s not a flying bug,” Jonah offered, as if it would make a bit of difference. I realized though, with this new information, that the bug was probably already somewhere in the house.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

And they lived happily ever after...