Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Boy, Oh Boy

As one of three sisters and a mother of three girls, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what makes girls tick. And I'm pretty sure it's hormones. But two years ago we added a son to the mix, and I think I'm discovering what makes boys tick. And I'm pretty sure it's hormones. One hormone, really.

My mom - who actually has time to read books like Dobson's Bringing Up Boys - was recently describing to me the "testosterone bath" that my boy's brain is apparently swimming in. Supposedly all this testosterone causes my son to come up with spectacularly insane ideas, but blocks the concept of consequences. Hence, the problem I've encountered lately with "dangling."

The first time Ty dangled was shortly after his 2nd birthday. Ella came running inside from the backyard yelling, "Mommy! Hurry! Ty can't get down!" I dashed outside to find my son dangling from the monkey bars of our outdoor play set. They're roughly 7-feet off the ground and Ty was hanging on for dear life. As I ran up to catch him, he looked over at me and whimpered, "Stuck."

"Yep, you're stuck alright, kiddo. Let's not do that again."

" 'K, Mommy."

One week later I walked into the twins' room and saw this same child dangling from the top bunk of the bunk beds. His little legs were swinging around, his feet looking for purchase. He looked around as I gasped and said, "Mommy. Stuck."

Since then, I've found him dangling from several precarious spots - the bunk beds again, countless play sets, and in one heart-stopping instance, the top of the pantry shelves. Each time he sums up his experience: "Stuck." Unfortunately though, dangling is not the worst of my problems.

A few weeks ago I was upstairs folding laundry in my bathrobe. The kids were hanging out downstairs watching "Max and Ruby" and essentially enjoying a sick day when the doorbell rang. I don't usually answer the door in that particular state of undress, but curiosity got the better of me. I opened the door to a woman I'd never met before holding Ty in her arms.

"Um, is this your son?"

She gathered from my ghost-white face and my inability to speak that she had, indeed, found the boy's mother. As it turns out, Ella had been inspired a few minutes before to put some of her artwork in our mailbox. During her foray into the front yard, Ty slipped out the door and started up the street towards a friend's house. A woman happened to be driving by at the time, and correctly assumed that I was not wise to the child's absence. She watched him make his way past a few houses, and then intervened.

The next person to bring Ty home was the Orkin Man - who really is the hero those commercials make him out to be. This time, I have no idea how Ty got out. I'm just thankful that our exterminator recognized him.

After that escape - which siphoned about 10 years off my life expectancy - I made an emergency call to my dad, who came over the next day with every locking device under the sun. Now every cabinet, closet, and door is equipped with child-proof locks. This solution may be short-lived, however, since my two-year old boy appears to be the master of escape. I thought that reversing the lock on his door would keep him in his room at night, but using a stool and his trusty plastic screwdriver, he managed to pop the lock three nights in a row. After that, I added a slide lock up at the top. Ty discovered through trial and error that by kicking the door, he can eventually get the lock to slip. Then he pops the second lock with his screwdriver and is out the door.

I won't lie. I am terrified of what this boy will eventually be able to accomplish. How long will his brain will be sitting in that bath of testoterone? It almost makes me anxious for my girls' estrogen-soaked teen years.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Because Self-Esteem is Overrated

In an effort to help Ella make new friends, I recently arranged a play date for her and a little girl from school. Ella really seems to like her, but the jury is still out for me, thanks to the following conversation:

Ella's new "friend" asked me, "Did you know your ceiling has a big crack in it?"

"Um... yes."

"Why does it have a crack?"

"Well, as houses get older and settle they sometimes get cracks." Ever the consummate teacher, I continued, "You know how people get wrinkles when they get older? Houses are the same way." (In this case the consummate teacher needed to shut up. Don't worry. You'll see why.)

"I don't have wrinkles."

"That's because you're still young."

"But you have a LOT of wrinkles."

I didn't have the time, or the words, to reply before she went on.

"Ella, should we take our shoes off?"

"Only if we're careful not to step in the dirt."

"Ewwww! You have dirt in your house?!"

"Oh yes, lots of it. Just look at the floor!"

The jury may still be out as far as I'm concerned, but something tells me these two are going to be fast friends. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to make a quick call to my therapist. And Merry Maids.