Lost in Translation

There’s a lot involved in raising children. We are responsible for teaching them social skills, personal hygiene, ABCs, colours, what not to lick and that you should not vacuum your brother. I thought we were doing a pretty good job getting all the basics covered with our fourth son, but somehow we’ve dropped the ball with communication.

No matter how we explain it, how often we repeat it, how we model its use in correct context, Little does not seem to know what “I’m hungry” means.

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Little, please put your cars away.

No, I hungry.

We’re not having gum right now.

Why won't you give me back my marble when clearly I am wasting away here?
Why won’t you give me back my marble when clearly I am wasting away here?

But I hungry.

Please leave your bib on.

I hungry.

You can watch a show later.

Please?! I hungry.

Don’t sit on your brother.

I hungry. Please.

We’re all done drinking pop.

But I hungry. 

Do you need to use the potty?

I hungry.

We can do play doh in a minute.

But I hungry.

You can go get your own water bottle. It’s upstairs.

I huuuungry.

This is Mommy’s coffee. Hot. No touch.

I so hungry.

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We’re at the point now where I’m going to give up and just hope for the best. Maybe he’s on to something. This might be a genius tactic for getting out of undesirable things. Actually, I think I might try it.

Mommy, someone peed on the floor.

Sorry, I hungry.

Space, Schmace

Having four boys means I have no real personal space. I’ve accepted that (mostly). We recently installed locks on our bedroom and bathroom doors which has given me the illusion of privacy. But no.

I’ve tried to claim the master bath as my territory only to have one of the boys politely ask me, “Could you please wash your hair over the sink because you leave so much in the tub that I have to rinse it out before I can take a bath.”  “OK, deal – when you guys stop leaving poo deposits in there. That was not a Milk Dud I found on the ledge.”

This means YOU.
This means YOU.

The boys will be playing happily together upstairs which is my cue to leave them alone. I busy myself with checking Twitter cleaning the kitchen until the noise level reaches maximum volume. When they start coming down wearing my clothes, playtime is over. “Look, I’m a mom”, says the son wearing my bra overtop my favourite sweater as he clomps around the kitchen in my snazzy pair of flats. “Hey, I’ve been looking for those sunglasses!”

I have learned over the past years of the Boy Invasion to hide my Peanut Butter cups in a rotating locations so they never get suspicious. I’ve also learned how to eat M&Ms and convince them I’m snacking on some raisins. Those are mommy treats and I’m not sharing.

Even my purse is subject to their prying eyes and hands. “You’ve got gum? Can I have some?” “Hey where did you get this candy?”

I would like to use the laptop without little eyes peering over my shoulder. “Why are you laughing? Can I see? CanIcanIcanIcanI?”

This lack of boundaries became abundantly clear not long ago as I was gathering up materials and resources before I went to work to prepare for the new school year.

“Hey! Cheese strings! Cheese Strings?! Guys! Mommy has cheese strings. Mommy, why do you keep cheese strings in this pocket?”

Those are not cheese strings. Stop going through my backpack. SOME STUFF IS JUST FOR ME.”

See? No boundaries.

Editor’s note: They were not cheese strings and I was not prepared to launch into the “talk” just then.

Alone time – how do you make it happen?

No, YOU Go Fish

Two year olds do not know how to play Go Fish.

That will not stop a two year old from wanting to play Go Fish or insisting on playing Go Fish.

You will agree to it because a) he’s cute and b) you’re a good parent.

To play Go Fish with a two year old you will need the following:

– cards

– ibuprophen

– wine

– a whistle

– tissues

– bandaids

Once you’ve gathered up your supplies, it’s time to deal the cards. Five, seven, four, it doesn’t matter how many because you are playing against a toddler. The other opponent might care, so do make an effort to pretend to count them out.

Let the game begin!

Little, ask Big if has an eight. No? Ok, then go fish. Pick up a card. Yes, you. Just one card. One. ONE. The top one. Now hold it with your cards. In your hand. You don’t need to pile them, keep them in your hand. Hold them, hold them. HOLD THEM.

I might have an Ace. Let me check.
I might have an Ace. Let me check.

Mommy’s turn.

Little, do you have a four? Yes, you do. It’s right there. I can see it. You need to give it to Mommy. Yes. Yes. Yessss. It’s okay, you’ll get another card. No, not yet, your next turn. Just wait. Wait. Big gets to go now.

Big’s turn.

Mommy, do you have a three? Thanks.

Round Two.

Little, you have a pair. They match. Put them together. Yes, together on the floor. You make a pile. Oh, look! See? They are the same. Yes, they are. No, you don’t hold them now, they go there. Right there. Right. There.

Okay, Big does have them same card, but that’s his match. They stay in his pile. Yes, they do. No, not Little’s. You have your own, see? Those are Big’s. He keeps them.

Keep the bandaids within arm's reach.
Keep the bandaids within arm’s reach.

Round Three.

There is no round three.

——

Ever try to play games with young, ego-centric children? How did that go? Was it a glass or a whole bottle of wine experience?

Katherine’s Five Rules

Katherine and I met recently through twitter and discovered that in addition to both having four children, we’re kindred spirits on many levels. This is her first post on my blog (hopefully not the last) and also the first in a new regular feature: My 5 Rules.  This is a lady who loves to laugh and share the crazy in her day – be sure to follow her and her crew on twitter @grass_stains .

Five Rules I Never Knew I Needed To Establish

1. Don’t climb the walls. And if you do, stop climbing after you make the first hole.

It's just a small hole, Mom.
It’s just a small hole, Mom.

2. Close doors after you open them. Yes, that one. Yes, that one too. AND THAT ONE.

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3. Piggyback rides are limited to one rider.

Hold on tight!
Hold on tight!

4. Do not drop your 2-year-old sister from a height of four feet.

5. DO NOT teach your 2-year-old sister to trust-fall. BUT IF YOU DO, do it on a bed.

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Go forth and check out Katherine and all her internet wonderfulness.

Pesto? No.

I can’t seem to convince our family to enjoy curry (aside from our second born), but we do have a varied and mildly adventurous menu. Our boys enjoy shrimp and seafood, olives, and I do not shy away from adding a little extra heat to the main dish. We regularly try new recipes, and some have become favourites. Gnocchi with pesto is always popular with our crew.

A few years ago our toddler was quietly finishing his lunch, content in his highchair. He was always a jolly little guy, so when I heard a small voice say, “Uh, oh” I turned quickly  to see what was wrong. He held up a chubby little hand and repeated, “Uh, oh.”

Poor little guy. He got pesto on his hand.

I grabbed a cloth and wiped his hands and fingers. Then I carried on with folding laundry and he continued his lunch. Or so I thought.

A moment later, “Uh, oh,” and the chubby pesto-covered hand. I wiped it off again.

Sheesh, he’s really make a mess of it today.

Laundry-folding and lunch-eating ensued again.

Two seconds later he held up his hand and beckoned for help.

Where is all this pesto coming from? Poor little guy keeps getting in on himse–wait a minute. I didn’t serve him pesto today. Where is all this pesto coming from? It’s not pesto. IT IS NOT PESTO.

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When was burning a wash cloth your only real option?

Because I’m Four

Join me as we take a peek into a typical day of the average four year old kindergartener.

_________

Ah, good morning! I know it’s morning because everyone is still asleep except me. Rise and shine, family!

Seems like no one has heard my beckoning so I’ll need to go with Plan B: walk stealthily to my parents’ bedroom and stare at them silently until they sense my presence. I know they are ready to start the day when Mommy finally opens her eyes and seems surprised to see me. I have to remember to ask her what “serial killer” means.

Once the mundane task of choosing my clothes is done (no, not that shirt, no, no, maybe, okay that one, wait, let me see the first one again) we move on to breakfast. I prefer my cereal with just a splash of milk. Not too much or the whole experience is ruined. Daddy seems to have that mastered, but I don’t put much faith in Mommy.

And now we’re off to kindergarten!  Oh, wait, Daddy is insisting I put on a coat. Fine. I can do the zipper myself. I got it. WHY ISN’T HE HELPING ME?!

And now we’re off to kinder —- my hood! my hood is interfering with the comfort of my body! I cannot walk to school under these conditions.

And now we’re off to kindergarten. We seem to be walking fast today and Daddy is muttering something about being late. Guess he shouldn’t have overslept.IMG_1487

I love going to school, but I think Daddy misses me, so I like to make a bit of a fuss about lining up, just to make him feel better. He pretends he does not want me to cling to his legs, but I know he secretly likes it. I line up and then make one or two return dashes for one final hug before the bell. You have to invest in relationships.

I wonder what we’ll do at school today? I hope the teacher got new glue sticks because the ones that were out yesterday tasted awful. I think I see some fresh play-doh, that’s good because I may or may not have sneezed on the last batch.

We finally all get our coats and shoes put away and now it’s Carpet Time. I’m not sure what “criss cross applesauce” means exactly, but if you tuck all your body parts in, you’re good. We check that everyone is present, I like to help the teacher by telling her if someone is at school or not, by calling out “not here” at random intervals. Her voice says “stop it” but her eyes are saying “thank you”.

Uh oh, I feel a booger in my left nostril. This cannot wait. As long as I don’t make eye contact with my teacher, I can extract it undetected. Almost….almost….got it! Quick and easy disposal in my mouth, mission accomplished. No, I wasn’t picking my nose, it was just itchy way high up.

Centre time! Where should I start? Sand? Paint? Blocks? Maybe the Discovery Table? No, I saw Jason lick all the pine cones yesterday. Paint it is! I create a fantastic piece using mostly swirls. It’s definitely fridge-worthy.

I think I’ll head over to the blocks. My buddy and I build an elaborate garage for the cars. It is great until Jason thoughtlessly knocks it over. The maker is the breaker, Jason.

The rest of my day passes in a bit of fun-filled blur. I spend some time writing about my snack (it is an apple and a Wagon Wheel – delicious). I rebuild my garage and put pylons around it to keep Jason at bay. Change my book at the library (yes, I’m a bit winded, but that doesn’t mean I was running in the hall). I help at tidy up time and show off my sweet dance moves. We play outside until someone pees against a tree. My teacher and I read together and now I can find the words “is”, “mom” and “me” all by myself.

The next thing I know, it’s Home Time. The day went by so fast. I get all my stuff shoved into my backpack and I’m all set. Oh, wait, forgot to change my shoes. All set! Oh, yeah, that’s my lunch bag you’re holding up, just give me a second to pack that. All set!

And there’s Daddy, waiting for me. He’s always early because he misses me so much. He gives me a big hug and rubs my head. I grab his hand and we head home.

As we avoid all the goose poop on the pathways Daddy asks me, “What did you do at school today, bud?”

I give him my standard reply.

“Nothing.”

Playing “Terry Fox”

Today our second oldest and his two neighbour friends started playing a new game: Terry Fox.

One boy would run down the sidewalk with his foot rigged up in a skipping rope to simulate Terry’s prosthetic leg.

Resourceful and creative
Don’t pull too hard, we’re going for authenticity

When he got close to our house “Terry” would call out, “I’m in Thunder Bay, ohhhhhh” and do a slow collapse to the ground.

The second boy would act as his support crew and call for an ambulance. Now it was time for the third boy to jump into action. He zoomed down the street on the kettle car, frantically peddling in the interest of saving Terry. He would jump out and rush to the scene asking, “who are you?” at which point the main character groaned and replied, “Terry Fox.”

Together, they loaded “Terry” onto the makeshift ambulance and brought him back to home. Roles were swapped, and the game began again, with a new “Terry”.

Don't worry, we'll take good care of you, Terry.
Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of you, Terry.

At first I was little bit horrified. I stopped myself from interfering and decided to watch how it all played out and I’m glad I did.

These boys were acting out a piece of Canadian history. It is a story that is familiar to most of us, but they are experiencing and beginning to understand it for the first time. I chose not to say anything, but rather stood back and took it all in. However, I wondered about some of the liberties they took with their reenactment – I doubt Terry drove his own ambulance.

Terry Fox is a Canadian icon. He is a real life hero. I’m actually glad they were playacting someone who inspired and encouraged so many people with his Marathon of Hope. They weren’t mocking Mr. Fox, they were putting him up on a pedestal, among the ranks of Transformers, Superman, and Batman. This is what parents long for and I almost shut it down.

As we honour and commemorate Terry Fox this September with the run in his name, it was good to see things through the eyes of some six year olds. My oldest sister went through a very similar battle with cancer just after Terry passed away, but survived. She is a hero, too.

“Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me.”

-Terry Fox

Thank you, boys.

Thank you, Terry.