Such is life

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I made a new friend in one of my classes.  She’s around my age, and we have some things in common, so I did the “hey, let’s connect on social media” thing.  We walked out of class, talked for a few minutes, and then got to talking about having coffee after class one day.  But I had to get going because Latefordinner had to take Tuna to one of his things.  I had to hurry home to be home with the littles. She asked me if I had ever been to this place in town, or this other place…she had to go shopping there, and go eat over there.  Shopping?  At a little place?  You mean somewhere other than Costco or Target?  Wouldn’t that other place be Amazon?

You see, this new friend who is around my age and also in college, doesn’t have children.

She said, “You’ve never been there?!”

“No, I have no life”, I said with a smile.

We laughed, and I found myself floating away from this new friend in front of me. We do actually have things in common–we feed off of each other in class discussions, and we both lean toward holistic practices, plus there’s the age thing.  Age…it really is nothing.  Her laughter was coming from a very different place of understanding, in which someone my age actually did have a “life”, and was not a mother.  I wonder why she laughed, actually.  Probably just because I did. Politeness.  She’s nice, so I’m sure she didn’t actually think anything of it.  But of course I did.

We separated, and I had that unsettled feeling, hearing the echo of myself saying “I have no life” in my head.

It was such a quick realization this time.  No pondering the depths, just hearing the echo come back saying:

“You have SUCH A LIFE!”Echo-Canyon-2.jpg

And it’s true!  My life is FULL, and RICH.  Not with the freedom to shop in little shops, or eat out all the time; but with my full, rich family.  My family gives me SUCH a life.  My life is enriching and busy and chaotic and messy and scary and exciting and boring and breathtaking.  My life is a roller coaster of exhilaration and fear and love and boys and marriage and school.  My life is PACKED with NEWNESS every day, jammed with sameness, overflowing with opportunities to grow and thrive and teach and learn.  Every. Single. Day. of my life is SUCH A DAY. 

Psh, no life.  Why did I even say that? What a thing to say. I don’t have time to have no life. That is the stuff of midlife crises. There is no crisis when every age is SUCH an age. Every life we live within this one is exactly what it should be.  There is no need to call motherhood  and marriage and college less than life, because it is exactly what completes me now. Accepting SUCH a life is crisis-prevention.

Try it: Tell yourself you have no life.  If you don’t hear that echo back, YELL IT BACK. Every one of you has SUCH a life.

No life my ass.

Zen Cheerios

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I wonder, if someone filmed me throughout my day, would it look like other mothers’ days? I wish I could SHOW you what it’s like.  I know we aren’t totally normal, but are we that different?

This morning, I managed to get everyone to the van with enough time to squeeze them to school mostly on time. I sent them all out to the van, came out, and of course no one was actually in the van.  That would be too simple. They were all wandering around outside.  Before I could say anything about why the eff they weren’t buckled in and ready to roll, Tuna announced that Binker had to poop.  Me: “Then why aren’t you inside pooping??!!”

So he slowwwwly walks to the door, Tuna asks where Binker’s backpack is (because that’s relevant at that moment), and Binker rambles up the steps to the house.  I tell him to “HURRRRYYYY UUUUP!!!” Seriously, how does it take three minutes to walk inside and sit on the toilet?

So the rest of us are waiting in the driveway….waiting….waiting….I check on him a couple of times…………..He is the world’s slowest pooper. He took at least 87 minutes just wiping. And we’re officially late.  We pull out of the driveway at 8:20–exactly when we should be arriving at school. I should start recording the number of times we’ve been late because of poop.

Before all of that, my house wasn’t the vision of three angel children getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, putting on shoes, and going to the van. That’s ALL THEY HAVE TO DO.  Those simple steps.  That’s IT.  I have seven million things to do.  They have FIVE things to do.  Why in God’s great Universe do they not understand, after years of school mornings, this simplicity?! I have charts, timers for when it’s time to get shoes on, timers for when it’s time to go out the door, I even remind them every step of the way while I’m doing my stuff (making lunches, sucking down coffee, putting out fires…). They can’t find the right socks, they are fighting with each other, they are playing with Legos still with bare feet…and this morning Binker was constantly whining about how he didn’t feel well enough to go to school–over and over and over he whined at me while I was trying to think!  Whined at me while I sprayed him with Mucinex and shoved Tylenol down him–You’re going. to. school. damnit! (He was totally fine.)  It’s SO hard to just THINK when three little boys need a million things–things that they don’t even need–right NOW.

The hardest part is keeping my cool.  I have challenged myself to keep it cool for four days in a row.  So far this week (it’s Tuesday) I’ve reset my challenge twice.  So much for that.  How about three?

Then Squishy and I have our day doing this and that (Today. Other days are crazier), going here and there, accomplishing things, playing…and then it’s time for pick-up. Armor on. Enter whiny tired Squishy after the day and the playground, talky talky talky Binker, grumpy hangry Tuna…all talking and whining and fighting with each other over the stupidest shit in the Universe, all at the same time.  It’s great fun. Not headache-inducing at all.  We get home and Squishy has a three hour long meltdown about Angry Birds, Binker gets emotional about his old bed that we sold, and Tuna is about to pass out because he couldn’t sleep last night. I really don’t know how I managed to feed and bathe them (help from Latefordinner).  Falling asleep didn’t take long, thank all of the Gods of this great Universe for that.

So, with three angels slumbering,  I sat down at my computer to do my homework, and realized that this blegh post was in order.  Seriously. Because there has to be another parent out there who deals with the intensity, who deals with the morning rush, who is late because of poop. It’s a major challenge for me–to keep my cool when poop makes us late.  To keep my cool when Binker is on the top bunk with Legos when he should be putting shoes on.  To keep my cool when the cat gets on the table and eats Squishy’s cereal. To keep my cool when Tuna wants to discuss the meaning of life before coffee–every single day.

Your lessons will continue to present themselves until you learn them.  These effed up days are not about my kids learning how to get ready on time (well, they sort of are, but not completely).  These days are about ME learning how to find that center of the cyclone while lateness and distractions and poop are happening around me daily before coffee. I have three days left this week to rise to my own challenge of keeping my cool.  I really hope I don’t have to reset again tomorrow.  This is a tough one, because I think that these smart boys should just get it.

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I have memories of sitting on the heater vent in the winter mornings, my mom throwing my clothes at me, telling me very nicely to get dressed. Man, I don’t remember her yelling at me like I do at my boys. I remember watching the last remaining cheerios in my bowl move toward each other, making shapes out of three or four circles together. I would make a ripple in the milk, and they’d re-form into new shapes–faces, animals, boats…  It was like cloud-watching in a bowl.  I wasn’t thinking about the clock. I had no concept of time or school bells. I was cold first, then having a warmer zen moment with my cheerios. I am constantly disrupting my kids’ zen moments with these stupid deadlines.  I tell them “I didn’t invent the clock.  We all just have to follow it if we want to succeed in this world.”  How does a little dreamer child even come to understand that?  The kids need to learn, yes, and the adults need to REMEMBER. We are all born dreamers, the clock is man-made. Maybe I’ll meet them in the middle–they will learn the clock, and I will re-learn zen cheerios.  I should at least try, and probably harder than they do.

Maybe each household’s morning looks different, but these kids are probably pretty similar. If you struggle with your routine, I hope you can try with me, to not be quite so normal. I hope that some of us can remember that what some consider “different”, is actually closer to where we began–little cloud-watchers outside of time.

Man, I hope I remember that tomorrow morning when I have to get them out the door again.  We can look at clouds on the way.

!@#$%^&*()

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tuna code picture

I came out from putting the littles to bed to find Tuna running out of my room looking guilty. He said he left something for me to solve. Uhhh, anyone? Runes? Gah, my kid is smarter than I am.

Me: “I don’t know this code.  Runes?”

Tuna shakes his head, smacks his forehead, “You don’t know your history, do you?”

Me: “I know quite a bit of history, just not this code.” (little punk)

Tuna: “Ok, here’s another hint: think Free Masons. You need to look it up and learn it.  Then we can leave each other notes.

Wtf?  Because it’s too easy to just write notes in English?  And why/where is he learning codes from the Free Masons?  I mean, I agree that they’re fascinating (in fact, we had a conversation a while ago about them); but seriously? Can’t we just do something relatively normal around here? (Stupid question, duh!)  This kid…

He came back in a while later ( he’s supposed to be in his freaking bed), and asked if I solved it. NO!  No, I haven’t solved it. I had said I’d put it on hold.  I have homework (and now a blegh post) to do.  GO TO BED.

I know I did stuff like this as a kid.  I absolutely love it that he is interested in stuff like this (he is obsessed with history, especially ancient Egypt). I will learn the darn code and write him maybe one reply, and then we can do the cute note thing with actual words. I get it, he doesn’t want Binker reading our notes.  But maybe cursive will do for a while??

I love that kid.  And, wtf?  And, what the hell does pig pen have to do with the Free Masons?

And he’s the one smacking his forehead.

*Apparently there is a code called a pigpen cipher. Apparently other people know this. Apparently I didn’t.

Whatever.

Emojis and Blue Phallic Jellyfish

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Yesterday, the girl at the drive through said “hi” to Binker as if he were 2 years old. He’s actually like 18 in his mind, so he just stared at her and said “Hi” back in a monotone voice. She asked what grade he’s in (This is not the typical “here’s your happy meal” interaction, right?), and I said kindergarten. In a singsong voice she said “Oh, I’m a junior in high school! You have to catch up to mee! Hehe, I’m just kidding, bye bye!” Binker and I drove away, and I swear he was also thinking “WHAT was THAT?” I said something like “Well, she was friendly”, but he wasn’t buying it. And ironically, his stuffed emoji in his happy meal was the “Whatever” face. whatever emoji

Later on, a discussion in one of my facebook groups got me thinking about the interactions we have with strangers. Why do we ask “how are you today?”  Is it because we really want to know, or just because it’s polite?  Most of the time it’s “I’m fine, thanks”, and you move on with your business.  Sometimes (too often with me) it’s “nice to meet your problemsImeanyou”.  I must have “tell me all about your kids/divorce/illness/random problem” on my forehead, and our conversation turns into a psychology session.  So, maybe that’s why I am wary of talking to strangers…and sometimes actually looking at them…and sometimes going out into public at all… 

I find that sometimes these random personal conversations do hold some meaning, and it’s a significant exchange.  I live with the belief that there’s meaning in everything. So, I could take away from that interaction a reminder that my Binker is unique, and that we in our family thrive on mindful discussion.  I’m not sure how many five-year-olds would look at that girl as anything other than friendly.  So, I guess we have to acknowledge that these boring, unintelligent, and seemingly meaningless interactions are always there to show us something. (That’s why I made sure to say that the girl was nice.) We just have to consciously remember to think this way, you know, to avoid the slip into existential dread.

Binker is totally allowed to think “whatever” though!  I mean really, she might as well have hovered a squeaky toy above his head.

In honor of mindfulness, and finding the sunny side and all that, I will now show you my mother’s day gift.  It was chosen by Tuna and Binker, and I have given it a place of honor on my sunny back porch.  I did such a good job of  NOT LAUGHING when I opened it! They went to one of my favorite stores, walked all over the store, and chose this phallic blue jellyfish just for me.  I was the best actress!  I do like it, and HAHAHAHAHA it’s a four-tailed chiming glass sperm!!!!!  Look at its sparkling magnificence in the sun! Thanks, boys.  This made my optimistic day.  Happy Mother’s day, and may all of you find the joy and humor in your seemingly meaningless moments.  

blue jellyfish

It’s snot an emergency

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Binker stuck a Lego up his nose (#becauseboys #because5 😐). I freaked and told him not to MOVE and don’t BREATHE  and DON’T DO ANYTHING!  I ran to him with tweezers and a flashlight. I couldn’t see it! Then, Tuna walks up and says “Binker, plug your left nostril and blow hard.” He did, and the lego hand plus wads of snot flew onto my arm and leg.(EW!)
That was some logical thinking from my absent-minded professor, who hardly keeps a cool head! And I’ve always called Binker my steady guy.

I  imagine what Latefordinner and I must have looked like to them, running around like whack jobs, headless chickens looking for tweezers and yelling “somebody hold the light!!  I can’t see it! Bawk Bawk bawk!” This scenario sums up why teenagers think their parents are idiots. “Wtf is wrong with you, parents? It’s a Lego hand. It’s funny. Just pretend it’s snot, Binker.”

I remember looking at my parents and wondering why everything was such an emergency, and now I see the other side. This is another center of the cyclone lesson–relax,  and know that this snot too will pass. I’m super proud of Tuna, a little disturbed by Binker’s choice, and amused at these two headless chickens. Don’t rush to the tweezers, yo. You have the power in you. And if you don’t, your kid does.

Dominoes and Discipline

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old fashioned dominoes

Tuna is in his room with no computer.  Binker is in his room crying with no computer tomorrow.  Squishy is being watched for a head injury (so far so good) and watching Mater’s Tall Tales.

I’m sitting here wondering what the hell just happened.

Let’s see…

First, I kicked them off of their screens and fed them lunch, forewarning them that they would be going outside after lunch. Next, I forced them to go outside on this gorgeous summer day. The sun is shining, it’s not too hot, and there’s a slight breeze.  Perfect! Only Squishy went happily. Tuna tried to go back inside, Binker tried to go back inside, and Squishy…well, he just rode his tricycle. I had to sit in front of the door telling them to “play like regular kids”.  I told the tale of long ago when the cold winds blew and all the children in the land could not go outside; when those poor cold children looked out their windows longing for summer.  The little shits still wanted to go in.

I made suggestions: bounce on your bouncy ball, ride your stinking bikes, play basketball–I’ll play with you!, draw with your stupid chalk, blow some freaking bubbles, just PLAY OUTSIDE AND LIKE IT!

Did they do any of these things?  Of course not!  Tuna and Binker started balancing on the cement ledge that borders a small cliff hill into the neighbor’s side yard.  Then Binker (in an admittedly funny fashion) pointed up and said “Tuna, look up there!” and pushed him off the ledge.  Now, these boys hurl themselves off of this ledge on purpose all the time. Sometimes on bikes, sometimes on scooters, sometimes on foot, sometimes on sleds, but always fast and dangerously.  But Tuna was pissed that Binker pushed him.

Instead of just telling him he didn’t like it, he went after him violently and angrily.  It was like Binker shot Tuna with a water gun and Tuna came back with a freaking bazooka.  He was grabbing him, shoving him, trying to push him off the ledge.  And he did push him.  Neither boy was hurt, but Tuna was way out of line.  Then Binker punched him, and I don’t blame him.  I had to drag Tuna into the house and shove him in his room, and while I was doing that, I heard Squishy start to cry REALLY HARD outside.  Like that no-breathing crying where he cries a second and then doesn’t breathe for like ten minutes because he can’t even cry hard enough.

I raced outside and found Squishy on the ground at the bottom of the cliff ledge thing, and Binker looking very guilty. I really should just wear roller skates all the time.  That way I can get to each emergency faster, and possibly roll over some small toes on purpose. A spy camera and lie detector wouldn’t hurt either. Ooh! and collapsing stairs so I can just roll down and out the door!  So he told me he pushed him.  WTF?  Why?  So picking Squishy up I then dragged Binker to his room and sat down to check out the damage.  The baby landed on his head, and seemed dazed.  I had this terrible scenario flash through my head of resenting Binker for permanently damaging his brother etc, snapped out of it, and made Squishy do all the eye-following things you do for head injuries. He is fine.

So the domino effect is twofold in this scenario.  Even though Binker pushed first, Tuna really did start it by being the grumpy “I don’t want to be outside” example, and then they all fell down.  Poor little Squishy was the last one to fall in the succession.

The other domino effect happens in the discipline.  That first domino has to withstand the most force, and the fact is that Tuna is first and gets the hardest push.  “Why am in trouble, but Binker isn’t?”  “Because you’re the oldest and you know better.  Binker is still learning.  Down you go!” *flick* Of course Binker gets in trouble too, but he gets the 5-year-old version.

Is it fair that Tuna gets the hardest push?  He’s older, he knows better, but he is still learning too.  It’s just that fighting with a 5-year-old makes him act 5.  He has more responsibility because he can understand it, and all that developmental blabbity stuff.  (#becausedevelopmental).   And, Binker has dominoes falling on him on both sides.  He comes out punching and kicking in all directions.  So his lesson is not to take his stuff with Tuna out on Squishy.  Tuna’s lesson is to learn to be the bigger person.  Whew!  This growing up thing is HARD!

I think it is fair.  The birth order thing is tough, because so much is inevitable.  I can’t change their statuses, ever.  I think that right now it’s appropriate to give Tuna the hardest push, but once they’re grown, they’ll all be first in line.

But right now, they’re in their rooms crying and thinking about how unfair life is, with no idea what just happened except that they still want to push each other over the ledge.  Ya know, sometimes when they fight I tell them to fight.  They just stop and stare.

“Fight! Fight with each other.  Go on, fight!”

And then they laugh and play fight and it’s over.  Would that work with cliff-pushing? Hmmm, maybe I’ll try that tactic next time.  With helmets.

Another penis post, and hangin’ with friends

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IMG_20150720_125422We have some new friends who keep inviting us back to hang out with them.  It’s so amazing to meet people who actually relate to our level of madness!  These friends have a pool, and they seem to like having us over to swim, because we’ve been invited BACK!  Now, I’m not downplaying our coolness or anything, but the level of energy that we bring as an entire family unit is a little overwhelming to most “normal” families.  It’s a bit much to handle, so small doses or infrequent visits are the norm. It’s ok, we are totally cool with it.  We accept our awesomeness and intensity as being too much for most.  Our new friends have the same level of awesomeness and attractiveness (Kung Fu Panda reference there), and it is really refreshing.

So one day we were swimming at their house.  They have three kids as well–two girls who are similar ages to Tuna and Binker, and a boy Squishy’s age. Swimming was fun. I got to (sort of) talk to my friend while we got a work out catching our fearless toddlers as they leapt into the pool whether we were ready to catch them or not. Super relaxing.  I hear there is a place we will someday come to with happy little swimmers who do not need us to have repetitive mild heart attacks.  I envision margaritas, large floating chairs, and occasional rainbows.  Perhaps even people to bring me the margaritas… ahhhhh.  What? hmph.

It could happen.

On this fun day, my friend and I had many “Oh, I SO love your family because we are all just as WEIRD as you are!!  Yay weird!” moments.  Among all of the WTF moments from the things our kids said and did, there are two in particular that gave me warm Kindred Spirit fuzzies. (I could write a book solely on Binker-isms.)  When I finally wrangled all of the boys inside to change, my friend told me that her oldest (who is like a Girl Tuna) had just come down the stairs completely naked asking where he clothes were.  She had to shoo her back upstairs because there were boys there!  But before this could happen, there had to be a discussion about why. Girl Tuna had no idea why this was even an issue.

So my Tuna then came in, unaware of this incident, and went into the main floor bathroom to change.  I gave him everything he needed to do the job: towel, dry clothes, instructions to wrap his suit in the towel. Simple, right?

Wrong.

“Mommmmmyyyy!  I can’t use this soap to wash my hands because it has shea butter in it!” (he has nut allergies)

“Tuna, we’ve been over this, there is dish soap in that bottle”

“oh yeah”

“Mommmmyyyy! Where are my clothes?”

“Look right in front of you.”

“Where?”

Silence.  Meaningful/understanding/humorous look exchange with my friend.

“Oh, now I see them, haha.”

“Mommmmyyy!”

“WHAT.”

“It’s hard to change when I’m wet.”

I swear, this boy just says things to say things.

“Mommmy!”  Now he opens the door and comes out completely naked, with his goggles still on.

“Tuna!  Close the door and get your clothes on!”

“Oh. Yeah.”  Closes the door.

“Mommy?  Why does it matter if I’m naked or not?  Why is my penis private?  Why are private parts private?”

All of the girls were within earshot and THANK GOD my friend was doubled over laughing and not horrified!!  I LOVE her!

“Tuna, we have discussed this (we’ve had “the talk”.), and it’s not appropriate to discuss with younger kids here, remember?”

“Oh, yeah. But I still don’t understand why my penis is private, I mean, it’s just part of my body!  There is nothing wrong with all of the parts of our bodies!  It’s how we were made!”  Then he starts singing happily.

“Ok Tuna, are you dressed yet?”

“No.”

Facepalm.

“Mommmyyy?  Where are my glasses?”  He opens the door, this time in his underwear.

“CLOTHES!”

“Oh, right.  But look, I did wrap my bathing suit in the towel!”

“Way to go, dude.”

Sometimes the BIG THOUGHTS in life are more important than putting clothes on.  And, finding people who will laugh along with you is so so very very important.  We have slowly been finding our tribe, and it feels great.  A few years ago, we would talk about having family friends we could easily hang with, and our talk eventually invited those friends.  Your thoughts create your reality, ya know.  So, when you find the people who keep inviting you back BECAUSE of your weirdness, rather than DESPITE it, you have found your tribe.IMG_20150720_130504