Reasons I know I’m raising a son

I’ve had to say thing like this, out loud.

“Hey, get your penis off the table.”
“Keep your penis in your pants.”
“Yes, Oliver, those are balls.”
“Why are you pinching that?”

Every morning when he wakes up and then comes in to get me out of bed by removing all my blankets and getting in my face with his morning breath – he says “HI MORNING!!” and then smiles. I see his dimples, curse his alarm clock likeness and wait for the very next words out of his mouth.

“I hungy.”
“Mommy, I hungy.”
“Hungy, MOMMY!”

So far this morning I’ve made him 3 eggs, sausage, and a bowl of cereal for breakfast and we’re not done. That was all before 8 am.

I now understand the statement “He’ll eat us out of house and home” because it’s true.

I approach his curiosity towards my chest a little differently than I do of my daughters. She just wants to know when she gets them, he wants to grab them and yell BOOOOOBIES! Then giggle.

And he’s stealth. All of a sudden I’m putting him to bed and the next thing I know there is an invasive little hand traveling down the neck of my shirt. Like a ninja.

And no, Son, mommy’s penis didn’t fall off and I don’t need a tampon to make it all better, but thank you for offering … every single day.

keeping secrets

I can’t sleep and have been shocked at what I’m finding in the early hours of a Wednesday.

Sadness shrouded in joy. And other things, too.

I just read this and think you should too. Leah is amazing and I never knew any of this about her – I only knew that she was part of this, behind it when a friend nudged me to submit something … and so I did.

This is not what I submitted – it’s something I tried to write but couldn’t figure out how to make it work and now, after reading her story and re reading my rejected one … I’m ready to tell you.

I wrote this April 30, 2010

On May 5th we will be celebrating my son’s second birthday. It’s hard to imagine our life before he was with us but I know my daughter, now 5 1/2, remembers me being pregnant. She remembers how special it was to be the only one and now knows how special it is to be one of two. I have guilt about having more kids, more than her, more than them. Right now life is so wonderful and easy yet difficult and tiring and so unwilling to bend. She sees me love him while I’m scolding her, she sees me hold him while I can’t touch her at all. I wonder if she sees me loving her, too.

To Jessica:

People suspect this, I’m sure, but 6 years later how about we let out this little secret? The one I told you while tucking you in not long after Oliver was born. When you were feeling down and I was feeling unconnected to you and wanted nothing more than to hold your heart ever so gently so you wouldn’t be hurt any more. We told everyone that your sex, as a newborn, was a surprise on the day you were born but it wasn’t. We were preparing for a girl all along, we were preparing for you. Your name changed in the delivery room and I’m so glad we did that, you’re every part a Jessica Ranae and not at all an Onalee. You’re fierce in every way. Dramatic and theatrical. You are magnificent.

I painted a window to put in your nursery before you were born and on it said “Sweet Baby, You are a breath of Heaven” and I would whisper that to you in my belly and then in your ear while you nursed and before you went to bed every night when your dad and I would fight over who got to hold you just one more time.

Jessica, I see through your ploys to get attention. I know how unfair it is be the oldest although I, myself, am a youngest. How difficult we can be as parents, how easy you really are as a child. I’m so sorry you feel the need to quit or be smaller than you really are to get us to notice you. I haven’t done a very good job of yelling from the top of my lungs that you are noticed. You are loved. God, how you are loved. We really are alike even though I lay awake at night worrying that you’re going to grow up resenting me, hating me. I hope you don’t do the same. This past week I witnessed a live birth that resulted in an adoption and the emotions in that delivery room were nothing short of a marathon from ecstasy straight to hell.

Tonight, I’ll hold you a little longer. I’ll play with you a little longer. We’ll ride bikes past bedtime and go on walks instead of naps and I’ll give up breathing just so you know how much I love you. It’s true, I push you, but Jessica, you keep me going.

Love,
Mom

We’re going to kindergarten!

I think I worry more now about my kids than I did when they were infants and it was expected of me to worry about them.

Mostly my daughter, actually. We have a relationship that I can literally feel pain when she bleeds but to touch her is like sand paper on her skin and she recoils. I always want more, she always wants less.

If there were leashes it would be very small with her choking on the length but panting from the short distance freedom.

She’s ready for more in life, more trust. More adventure. More of something other than this and it’s been a real struggle this past few months to occupy her mind.

The caveat is always trust, she (at age 5) has yet to show us that trusting her beyond her current parameters in our lives is a good decision. So we continue to hold steady right where are – all the while looking at each other with burdened eyes because we’re so damn tired from pulling on 750 pounds of Want forcing it’s way past our threshold.

Jessica riding

This morning we had her Kindergarten Readiness test done at the school she’ll be attending in the fall and I will not lie, I was having a small panic attack that she would get in the class room and FAHREAK OUT – which means running and jumping and, think of it this way … it’s like watching someone have electromagnetic therapy – strapped to a bed, biting on a rubber strap – only her eyes don’t go in the back of her head. She kind of foils at the mouth some times, but it’s never bad. It’s just always a little uncontrollable.

At which point in my panic attack I envision the teacher walking out of the classroom to tell me, dead on, that this must be a joke? To bring her here thinking she can attend SCHOOL?!?! I must be out of my mind.

Don’t you worry. I was frightened for naught. She did GREAT! Better than great! We have nothing to worry about! She’ll go to kindergarten! NEXT YEAR!

This feels like such a proclamation because we tried to get her into Kindergarten last year but was told the above … with less horror and more seriousness as to why we thought our child was smart enough to be in Kindergarten yet? She only missed the age requirement by 6 weeks. And she is fucking intelligent. So yes. I thought kindergarten would be fabulous. The folks down at the Other school? Not so much.

So we went another round of preschool, in a different preschool, and the past few months we’ve seen some regression in her attitude and her willingness to listen.

TURNS OUT SHE IS BORED OUT OF HER MIND.

Thank you Jesus! She’s just bored! She’s not trying to taunt us or be awful. She’s NOT awful. I’m not doing it all wrong. It’s a waste to worry! I’m STEALING JOY!

Outside play

We got in the car after her test this morning and she asked politely for her brother to share something with her. ohmygodohmygodohmygod. She sang songs on the way home and skipped instead of walked, but still stayed close enough not to require a reminder from me.

Which is when it dawned on me, right there, driving home and listening the joyful noise of a child who finally has something else to look forward to, that she can deal with the next few months of water-play and gluing scrap pieces of paper together if it means that she gets to GO TO SCHOOL and LEARN when she’s done.

Sometimes my worries scare me, I think to myself, is this ok to worry about? Am I doing it right? Should I lighten up here or crack down there? Should I, would I, may I?

And then I get a moment like I had today, where I realize that it’s all working out. It is tiring and worrisome and stressful, but fulfilling and life giving and awesome.

So we’re strapping our boots on for the last leg of this ride. The one where I cry and thrash my way about it but know full well that when it’s done, I’ll want to do it again … and so will she.

bottoms up

Riding Lessons, 2010

Meet Ali, short for Alfred.

Not long ago our daughter made a wish. Then it came true. Then it came true some more.

Riding Lessons, 2010

We live right across the road from some stables so I called the barn and asked about lessons, turns out they offer them. What I like the most about the lessons is all the work involved in caring for the horse to get him ridable.

You brush him, then brush him some more, and one more time for good measure. Then the hooves and all the gear and FINALLY! OH MY WORD! CAN WE RIDE HIM YET?

Riding Lessons, 2010

Riding Lessons, 2010

Riding Lessons, 2010

She thought brushing him was fun for about 5 minutes and then couldn’t stop asking when it was GOING TO BE OVER so she could gallop on the horse. She just wanted to go fast.

That’s my girl.

Turns out that riding a horse is only half the fun though and I am so very glad that lessons incorporate all of this. I used to ride, my horses name was Quincy. I loved that horse and knew how to brush and clean and saddle him, but it only lasted for a couple summers and then we sold the horse, not because I wanted to though.

MOTHER.

Which is besides the point, but I’m just happy that not everything she’s interested in is so wrapped around the instant gratification of today. Sure, she thinks she’ll show up and magically know how to ride a horse, talk to him, respect him and get to run through fields of wheat all afternoon while the wind is blowing through her hair and Prince Eric is waiting for her by the bay. I have heard this story so many times, people. The girl has an imagination. But she has to learn. The right way. At the beginning.

Riding Lessons, 2010

Riding Lessons, 2010

Riding Lessons, 2010

And it paid off.

My Menace

He’ll be two in one month.

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He doesn’t like to wear shoes. And wants to do everything his sister does. Right now. No waiting. No worrying. No fear.

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No help.

He climbs on everything, no obstacle is too large.

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When he sees something he wants, he goes for it. No matter there’s a plastic protective covering.

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And he’s the messiest thing I’ve ever encountered.

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But he never stops smiling.

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Or making us laugh or giggle. He woke up this morning talking about how funny he is. How funny Daddy is. Mommy. Duck. Monkey. All SO FUNNY! FUNNY!!

People who know me and see me out generally make remarks about how tired I must be or they wonder if my kids ever stop. They make silly faces and some times empathetic ones to let me know they understand, but only sort of.

That’s ok. I get it. Actually I don’t. I know nothing else. This manic chase of life and laughter. This wonderful marathon of mess, crumbs and spills. Of water every where and dirt on top of it. Of cleaning your entire house and turning around to see nothing has even changed – your shadow was undoing everything you started?

It literally is all I know. I didn’t get calm children. But I got happy ones.