Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Who needs "bling" when you've got string?

I have friends who have daughters....sweet, clean, relatively quiet daughters...who make their Mommies "love gifts" of necklaces and bracelets out of hand-picked colored beads....jewelry they actually resembles jewelry, you know? Jewelry that they can wear to work and show off to their friends as they beam with pride and love...

Yesterday, my little boys, feeling full of love and appreciation (an extremely RARE feeling, that last one), decided to make me necklaces "Cuz you have a cast on your leg, Mommy, and 'cuz you made us macaroni and cheese." (If only it was this easy to please everybody, eh?)

So, they asked me to leave the kitchen, and I promised not to "peek."

Here's what happened next:

"Shhhhhh.....Don't look, Mommy!" Giggle, giggle.

Sound of drawers opening and closing, as I crossed my fingers and hoped nothing was being broken.

Loud giggling. "Give me the scissors!" (Scissors?!!!)

Sound of scissors crashing to the ground. More giggling and whispering.

"Um....Are you guys OK out there? Are you being safe?"

"Oh yeah, Mommy." Louder giggling. "You're gonna LOVE this!"

"Mommmyyyy....Where are the rubber bands?"

"Behind the balloon bag in the junk drawer." (Oh, boy!)

More giggling...more crashing sounds....and then....

"OK, Mommy. You can look!"

"Come ON, Mommy. Come see what we made!"

So, I grabbed my crutches and walked into the kitchen to view their masterpieces...

Spence put "A REAL JEWEL, MOMMY!" (translation: a marble he found in the junk drawer) to personalize his necklace. Fos used a rubberband, "'Cuz you like colors, Mommy."

I wore them all morning.

I love my boys.


Friday, June 25, 2010

As a matter-of-fact, a 42-year old woman CAN throw a temper tantrum that rivals a 3-year-old's!

Yesterday, I had yet another one of my less-than-shining moments as a mother. I know, I know, it's hard to believe that one Mom can have so many screw-ups, but cut me some slack. I'm in my 4th week of being in a non-weight-bearing cast, with a minimum of 4 more weeks to go before I can transition to "the boot" and begin months of physical therapy. I haven't had a good night's sleep since surgery (Have you TRIED to sleep with your foot in a cast?), my armpits are sore from the crutches, my knee is swollen from the knee scooter, and I can't drive, because of the cast, so I'm trapped at home all summer with two little boys who give new meaning to the words "energetic" and "busy" and are driving me crazy, saying things like:

"Mommy? Why can't we go to the park? Come on! We want to go to the park. Pleeeeeaaaassseeee?????" (Me too, kids. Then, you could entertain yourselves on the play equipment while I semi-doze on the park bench instead of trying to find ways to occupy your time at home. All day. Every day. With only one working leg.)

"Mommy...Play soccer with us! Can't you take off your cast and play with us? Daddy plays soccer with us!" (Yep. Daddy is the king of the world. The "cool" parent. The two-legged parent. Trouble is, he's hardly ever here. So, deal with it. I have to.)

"Moooommmmmmmmyyyyyyyy.....I want to go somewhere! I don't want to ride bikes in the cul-de-sac anymore. How come you never take us anywhere???" (YOU want to go somewhere? Try being trapped in the house, in a cast, taking care of two little boys. Believe me, I know about wanting to go SOMEWHERE. Anywhere. Anywhere but here...)

"Mommy! We want some yogurt. Can we go to the store and get some yogurt? You can take us to Playland. Please? Pleeeeeaaaassseee?" (You need yogurt. I need an over-priced latte and 5 minutes to myself. We're both out of luck.)

"I wish Daddy was home from work. He takes us places! Daddy's fun like you used to be." (Ouch!)

Soooo...this brings me to yesterday's temper tantrum. Even though I usually manage to view life with an optimistic eye, I admit to the occasional "meltdown". However, this typically involves me dissolving into tears in the shower, where nobody can see or hear Mommy losing it and freak out.

Yesterday was another story. Yesterday was a full-on, crying, yelling, and, yes, even throwing-of-an-object temper tantrum. In the kitchen. Right in front of my boys. Sigh. Again, here I am earning the Mother-of-the-Year Award...Anyhoo, after cleaning a filthy bathroom on my knees, (a task which has been completely ignored by hubby -- the aforementioned soccer hero -- until it has become absolutely necessary), emptying the dishwasher (usually an easy task, but much harder when you can't just walk around the kitchen, putting dishes where they go), cooking spaghetti for my little guys (because they've been eating peanut butter and jelly night and day for the last week), and taking an overflowing bag of trash out back to the trash can (a journey which now involves my knee scooter, a wheelchair ramp, steering around two lazy dogs, fighting with a back gate, twisting my body around into a position never-before-seen by any yoga teacher to get the bag into the trashcan, and then turning around to make the trip back). Again, these are tasks that I used to be able to complete in no time at all, with very little effort. Now, those same "easy" tasks take me 5 times longer and usually end up with me sweating and exhausted, with my ankle throbbing and my toes swollen into unrecognizable sausages! So, I had completed all the stuff that had to be done, put the kids' plates down in front of them, and was starting on the task of cleaning up from the spaghetti prep., when I heard this:

"Spaghetti? I HATE spaghetti!" (Since when???)

"Me too. I hate spaghetti. I want peanut butter and jelly!" (!!!)

That was it. With sweat pouring down my face, my foot screaming at me "ELEVATE ME! ELEVATE ME!", and a half-washed pot in my hands, I glared at the little boys I love more than life itself, threw the pot into the sink, where it made a satisfyingly eardrum-shattering CRASH!!!, yelled at the top of my lungs, "MAYBE YOU COULD TRY SAYING 'THANKS FOR TAKING CARE OF US, MOMMY!' INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING ABOUT YOUR LUNCH!", sank off of the knee scooter onto the floor, and burst into loud, ugly, snot-running-down-the-face sobbing. Lovely parenting there, Beth. I'm so proud.

Anyway, after about ten minutes of Mommy crying and freaking out, the situation was resolved by lots of hugs and kisses, the kids getting to watch a movie while I took a nap, an early-afternoon glass of wine (hey, it was 5 o'clock somewhere in the world), and sidewalk chalk and bike-riding in the cul-de-sac until dinner time.

And, yes, we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"When Worlds Collide" OR "Small Boys vs. Exhausted Grandparents"

I'm baaaaaack... It's been almost 4 weeks since my ankle was taken apart and, mostly, put back together again. Most of this time was spent under the influence of narcotic pain medicine that left me in a significantly altered (and frequently puking) state. Hubby said it was like having a "Beth mannequin" in the house. I just remember it as a haze of pain and throwing up and being told over and over and over again just to lie in bed. Bedrest, for those of you who know me, is just about the worst thing you could do to me. Telling me, the woman who can't sit still, to lie in bed all day, every day, and not do anything. Complete torture! And, I was too drugged up to focus on a T.V. show or read a book, so it was doubly horrendous.

Lucky for us, my parents (who deserve to be sainted for this) drove 8 hours from their home in Walla Walla, leaving their beloved cat in the care of a neighbor, and moved into our teeny little guest room/office for the first 3 weeks post-surgery, so that my little boys wouldn't have to fend for themselves during Mommy's drug-addled recovery phase. My Mom and Dad: Two lovely people in their 70's, who have completely forgotten how normal 4 and 5 year old kids behave, let alone the amount of energy required to keep them occupied. Oh, my poor, poor, exhausted parents. And, there wasn't much I could do to help them. Every time I tried to get up to do anything helpful, my toes swelled up like hot dogs, I started sweating and shaking, and I had to go lie down again. As a result, while I lay in bed, my head spinning from the medication, I got to overhear lots of semi-whispered conversations that went something like this:

"Why are those boys always picking on each other? I don't remember our kids behaving like that!"

"I know. These two can't walk down the hallway without pushing each other or poking each other. Why do they fight over everything? Our kids NEVER did that!!! What these kids need is a good spanking!"

"Why do these boys fight about eating their vegetables? They should just eat the stuff they don't like first and get it over with, instead of saving it until last! Don't they understand that?"

"That's right. And, our kids always ate whatever we put on their plates!"

(Uh-huh. Sure. Whatever you say. THEY might not remember, but my siblings and I certainly do remember the battles we fought over every toy, every game, every neighborhood friend, every treat...Not to mention the everyday teasing, tricking, and picking at eachother that was a recurring theme of our childhood...Then, there are the countless incidences of my Dad hollering, "NO HORSEPLAY IN THE CAR! DON'T MAKE ME PULL OVER, OR YOU'LL BE SORRY!" This followed, of course, by us continuing our bad behavior, Dad pulling over, and the yelling that ensued. He just doesn't remember it...As for eating everything on our plates...Are you kidding me? I remember epic battles over the consumption of mushrooms, broccoli, and various other food items, as well as a certain incident involving buttermilk that resulted in actual vomiting. By the way, we were spanked, and it didn't make one bit of difference in the amount of time we spent mouthing off, as well as tormenting and competing with one another. Hmmmm....)

My Dad's coping strategy was to deliberately leave out his hearing aids, so he could have some peace and quiet and read the paper. Unfortunately, this left Grandma in charge, most of the time, as she was the only one who could hear my boys' high-pitched little voices asking for snacks or juice or stories or for somebody to come see the slugs in the backyard. Poor Grandma. What a trooper.

Anyway, my favorite overhead conversation from the last few weeks was between my Dad and my sons during bathtime. It was the perfect illustration of the developmental chasm that exists between my folks' generation and my little boys:

Grandsons: Squabble, squabble...
Grandpa: "Why are you getting so bent out of shape? Your brother's actions aren't impinging on you!"
Grandsons:  Total silence.

Forget, for a moment, that half the grown-ups I know don't even know the meaning of the term "impinging", let alone 4 and 5 year old boys. I was lying in bed envisioning my sons thinking, "Bent out of shape? What does he mean? We're not bent in some weird shape. All we did was smack each other! What is Grandpa talking about?!!" I wanted to yell something supportive, but, to be honest, I was giggling really hard and trying to do it quietly...

Ahhh, yes. It's been an interesting few weeks...And, even though I'm not in fighting form yet and could certainly still use all the help I can get, I think we were all ready for a little break from each other. A little return to normalcy (or as "normal" as it gets around here, anyway). Mom and Dad are back at home with their cat and their nice, orderly lives. The boys and I are figuring out how to navigate daily summer life with a Mommy on crutches. Hubby's discovering that there are a lot of things I used to do that I can't do when I'm in a cast and can't drive, so he's dealing with the shock and kicking into high gear. It's all working out...

And, with a little distance between us, come the good memories from our weeks together: Grandpa and the boys hunting for crabs under the rocks at the park...Grandma reading countless stories with a riveted grandson snuggled up on each side of her lap...The whole family celebrating Foster's "graduation" from preschool...Hubby and grandparents all hopping onto our bed with me to root for New Zealand in the World Cup...Drinking margaritas in the back yard on Father's Day...Sitting on the porch swing watching the boys ride their bikes around the cul-de-sac...Yep. Good times.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, from the bottom of my heart. You may not understand my little boys' behavior. You may not agree with our decision not to spank. You may think time-outs are silly, and that our house is completely chaotic and crazy. But, you love us all anyway, and you're always there when we need you. I love you, and I hope you're resting up for your next visit in August...