It’s snot an emergency

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Binker stuck a Lego up his nose (#becauseboys #because5 ūüėź). 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.

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Alien scarves

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I have a theory that infinity scarves are, in fact, alien creatures here to slowly take over the Earth in a calculated manner. (Stay with me. It’s winter in Michigan and I’m under stress, so I get weird, ok?) I resisted the things for a while because I’m not really a scarf person (except for when it’s below zero and screw that I’m wearing 17 scarves on top of 8 coats). I was gifted a homemade infinity scarf two years ago and I held it up like it was an alien creature.

“I love it! ¬†What is it?”

“It’s an infinity scarf.”

“Ohhhh.”

That was about it–the extent to which I thought deeply about the thing (except for how nice it was that my cousin made it for me! ¬†How awesome is that?)–and it hung on a hook for two years with my other pretty scarves I didn’t wear. ¬†I don’t know what to do with those things… I’d have to watch youtube tutorials on how to wear a scarf, and then I just feel stupid because I’d have to watch youtube tutorials on how to wear a scarf, so they all just hang together on a hook.

Over the last couple of years I have noticed a trickle of infinity-scarf-consciousness seeping into the masses. ¬†It probably started with the fashion industry, which I know nothing about (obviously–youtube…); and then flowed into the media and everyday people and stuff. ¬†The first instance that sparked my theory (forgive me, science people. ¬†I don’t know if I should be saying “hypothesis” or “theory” here, so I’m just going with “theory”.)(Sorry, I’m taking a science class right now so I’m all paranoid about sounding like I’m not sciency.) ¬†Anyway, the first instance was the movie Inside Out¬†at the part where Riley is new in her class and Disgust says “We want to be friends with her, look at her she’s wearing an infinity scarf.” ¬†My first thought was “Oookayyy, I guess it’s good that Disgust said that, because we don’t want kids thinking superficially like that”. ¬†My second thought was, “infinity scarf?” Again, no deeper than that.

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And then the hollow space developed that would soon house my theory.

I sit in classes with mostly young women, some guys, and a sprinkle of older students like me. ¬†As I looked around my classes–every single one–I saw infinity scarves on at least half of the women, and even on a couple of guys on campus. Today, it was as if they had multiplied and spread across the population. ¬†Now, I get their appeal–they are easy to wear and super soft and cute too…mostly.

It’s just that they are starting to get bigger, and looking more like abnormal growths than fashionably warm accessories. ¬†They aren’t just keeping necks toasty anymore, they are attaching themselves to chests and bulging unnaturally. ¬†I swear I saw one writhing on a girl’s chest and around her neck today! ¬†She had no idea!! I was about to yell out a warning like “Hey lady! Your infinity scarf! ¬†It’s trying to EAT you!!” but then it went back to sleep. I didn’t see any limbs or a face, but I wonder if those features are still dormant… And these things are getting bigger! ¬†I couldn’t even see one girl’s shirt or half of her arms because this infinity growth creature was smothering her! It was huge! Everywhere I turned I saw these alien-looking infinity scarves attempting to strangle and smother my fellow students. I was spinning on the spot and they were closing in on me like a horror movie. One girl was forced to only look up because her infinity scarf had crawled halfway up her face.¬†They keep getting larger and people just keep wrapping them around and around more and more and more times until they can’t stop and get lost in the endless enveloping snare of the infinity alien creature’s infinite hollow space.

All I’m saying is, be careful people. ¬†Watch what you’re wrapping around you, because they’re coming to get us. ¬†If you find yourself drawn to an irresistible fabric loop that spans longer than your height, please take a breath and put the thing down very quickly. ¬†If you get it near your head it will be too late and you will be sucked into the infinite void and lost in the land of wrapping and wrapping and wrapping and wrapping around and around and then you will be gone. Gone. There will only be an infinity scarf in your place. Eventually they will wrap around the planet if we are not on high alert. These things are alien–not of the Earth. ¬†Be careful, people. ¬†Watch your winter wear very very very warily.

Many long thoughts on why I should and shouldn’t shut up.

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I am grateful to have been raised with a healthy understanding of humility and grace. Today I have learned that I have only begun to understand what it means.

My church holds a summer Peace Camp every year, and this year both Tuna and Binker went.  Binker became friends with a boy his age, and on the last day I was talking to his mom and another friend. We were saying that we should get them together. This boy is an only child.

I was observing the attention she was able to give him, the calm he emitted, the calm she emitted, and feeling nostalgic from when I only had Tuna. ¬†He was an only child for four and a half years before Binker came along. ¬†I was able to dote on him, give him all of my attention, and he….uh, never emitted calm….but, I guess maybe I did. ¬†I did not yet know the more scattered feeling of having two, or three. ¬†(Although, that’s a whole other topic, because actually having two or three seems to create more¬†calm ¬†in some ways. I mean, if one-child-me could see the way life is now, she’d FREAK OUT! Whereas three-child-me is like eh, whatever, if you’re not bleeding or broken you’re fine. ¬†And then there’s the whole floor food thing…)

Annnywayyy,

So I was wondering how that dynamic would work on a play date–Binker as the middle, his new friend as the only. They played nicely together, so it really shouldn’t matter. My mind was letting that go, ready to exchange numbers, when her son walked up and talked to her about something. She was able to stop, talk to him with her full attention, hug, and he trotted away. Now don’t get me wrong, I talk to my boys and hug and kiss and give them what they need. The difference I noticed was in her. In not needing to then immediately switch to what another kid was doing or saying or needing.

Me, being all blabbity before the thinkity a lot of the time, said “Awe, I remember that, only having one.”

I was smiling, reminiscing, and then I felt my heart hurt when I saw her attempt to smile at my remark (I do that–feel people. It can be helpful, but it sucks a lot too.) ¬†I didn’t understand why, but the energy shifted, and I realized that that was NOT the thing to say. She seemed uncomfortable, then I was uncomfortable, and I changed the subject.

Flip to months later. We never did set up a play date. We became facebook friends. She posted an awareness meme about baby loss–stillborn, infant death, miscarriage.

Oh.

Cue the tears, and the feeling that I never really will know anything, and that I probably should never talk ever again. And, the desire to tell her that I had a miscarriage, and how in the great Universe could I be so heartless to assume that someone has one child by choice.  One little seemingly innocent comment unearthed great grief.

I don’t know her story, but I know the pain of loss. ¬†I don’t know anyone’s story, and I know the importance of NEVER ASSUMING ANYTHING EVER. ¬†There is a saying: Always be kind, we don’t know what another person is going through. I can extend this with “always think and think again before you speak”.

All children are amazing miraculous blessings. ¬†The families with six children–the ones we say are crazy–are blessed. ¬†We don’t know why they had six children. ¬†We can never assume to know. The families with one child–where we wonder why they were never given a sibling and will they be ok in life without one–are blessed. ¬†We can never assume to know why they had one child.

It’s not a topic we discuss. ¬†We whisper “I lost one too”, and that’s the extent of it. ¬†I remember that I decided I wouldn’t do that–be quiet about it after it happened–and then I forgot I said that. Until two things happened: ¬†Tuna and I had a conversation, and the next day I saw the meme.

“Mommy, is a baby growing inside a mom alive?” (you know, every day conversation with a 9-year-old. I have no idea where this came from.)

“Well, it develops a heart beat, and it is a big debate on whether or not a fetus is alive. ¬†Some people believe anything with a heartbeat is alive. ¬†Some people believe that they have to be able to breathe on their own. ¬†Some people have other beliefs. It’s a grey area.¬†Sometimes babies are born prematurely and they can’t breathe on their own. ¬†Sometimes doctors can save them, sometimes they can’t. ¬†Sometimes it’s not up to us.”

He looked really sad.

I told him I had a baby growing in me before I had him, and I lost it. He was surprised and asked his or her name. I had never given it a name, didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl, never really thought about that, and once again was blown away by the depth of conversation I have with my boy.

“So I might have had a sister.”

“Yes, maybe that was my girl. ¬†But now I have a niece, and maybe one of you boys will have a girl and I’ll have a grand daughter.”

“You’re going to be an awesome grandma, mommy!”

“Thanks buddy.”

Since then I’ve been thinking of what I should name the baby that I miscarried. Then the meme showed up. I think I will choose a name to honor all lost babies, worthy of being honored and talked about, not to be ashamed of, not to be embarrassed about. A name to honor everyone’s choice to have 10, not have any, adopt, not name, talk, not talk about it, grieve. ¬†how can there be such a name?

With Unity. We as grieving mothers and fathers can find peace in Unity. Unity is where we come from, and it is where we go after this.  Coming from One, returning to One. My comment may be forgiven with Unity. We all can understand it on some level.

My lost baby is named Unity, in honor of all of us. She is joined in Unity with all lost babies, and their parents are joined in Unity through their grief and healing.

As Albus Dumbeldore said, “Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” I was afraid to name her, and now that I have, the fear of the sadness is gone. I hope her name resonates with one of you as well.

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 I¬†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_125422ÔŅľWe 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

This is the shit I know. It’s not you, it’s me.

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Alllrighty, I posted this picture on facebook and here is the caption:

Last night I spent 45 minutes cleaning up legos in the boys’ room and lecturing on keeping them off the floor. ¬†Today I kneeled in my room to fold laundry. ¬†They’re everywhere, man. #outtogetme #becauseboys

lego foot

I then received the comment that broke the blegher’s back, stating that girls play with legos and they are also messy. I have received similar comments in previous posts, and from very dear friends. ¬†Here are the reasons I do not call this blog, or anything I’ve written so far, “because kids”:

To be clear, I do not doubt the fact that girls play with legos and make messes and noise etc. any less than boys. ¬†I happen to have three boys. My blog, called “because boys”, is about my life with three boys, and I often use the hash tag #becauseboys.¬† In no way am I comparing boys to girls. In fact, I don’t even mention girls in my writing. To any friends who read my shit: my experience is with boys and so that’s what I write. “Write what you know” and all that. Girls rock and I realize that they’re messy, loud, etc etc… I love girls. I am crazy about each and every one of my friends’ girls. I am a girl. I wanted a girl. (very happy and content with boys, before anyone starts harumphing at me). I invite my girl moms to write all about raising them, and I will LOVE LOVE LOVE reading it! How awesome is it that you have girls who play with legos?! You rock too, raising girls who make messes and play with legos. ¬†My point is that there is no need to be defensive. ¬†I am not anti-girl. ¬†I am simply immersed in boy. Sure, they’re all kids.

And, aren’t you lucky that yours don’t pee all over your walls?

Nothing but Flowers

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Tuna and I were chatting today, and he told me that the 10-year-old neighbor boy has his ears pierced. ¬†My reaction was surprise, a little shock, and sadly judgmental. ¬†He said, “well, so-and-so has her ears pierced and she’s way younger”. ¬†I said, “yeah but she’s a girl. ¬†Well, I guess I was eight when I had my ears pierced, but I’m a girl.”

And I stopped myself.  I realized what I was saying, and how I had reacted with sexism at the forefront of my mind.  Tuna just looked at me and watched me analyze myself, all the while grinning because he knew this all along.

Such humility, and how far I still have to go. ¬†I wonder what other prejudiced, sexist, racist, classist, _______-ist behaviors and thoughts have cemented themselves in my subconscious… Those isms are sneaky, sliding into our inauthentic selves, stifling and hardening over the truths of what really IS.

Rather than holding onto the shame I feel from this, I am choosing to realize that It’s gonna take some more jack-hammering lessons from the kiddos in my life to clear out those isms, and the simple truths underneath these isms may have room to grow and flourish again. ¬†The Talking Heads song “Nothing But Flowers” sums it up: ¬†“This was a shopping mall, now it’s all covered with flowers.”

We don’t need to believe that only girls can pierce their ears any more than we need that shopping mall. ¬†Once we keep only what matters, and allow those isms to fall away, nature will prevail and we’ll all be covered with flowers, boys and girls alike.