Friday, June 24, 2011

When She Grows Up

If you ask Ella today what she wants to be when she grows up, she'll probably answer with Standard Little Girl Answer No. 1: a dancer. However, most adults can rarely make an occupational claim to their childhood fantasies. Were that the case for me, I'd be the "ballerina-pilot" I once aspired to in my elementary school days - taxiing down the runway in my tutu and celebrating safe landings with a swan-like bow. Of course, these days Delta would probably charge my passengers extra for the pirouettes and I'd eventually be out of a job.

Given that our early career plans are so often subject to change, I've been thinking about some alternate options for my almost seven-year old. One option I suppose could be "chef," since she's expressed interest in owning a restaurant someday. Of course, when I asked her what she wanted to serve, she replied, "Macaroni and cheese, pizza, and eggs." I admit that I haven't been able to serve much else to Miss Picky Palate, so I do have some - pardon the pun - reservations regarding this particular endeavor.

Another option could be meteorologist. Ella is fanatical about checking the weather on my phone every day. Which is a good thing, since I usually can't tell what the weather is going to be like until I stick my head outside. But Ella is quite confident in her meteorologic analysis. Once, while heading to a pool party in the middle of a monsoon, she announced to me that, "It won't be raining at the pool, Mommy. I checked the weather and it's going to be sunny and hot." The way I see it, Ella's just as good as our local weatherman, so I might just be able to get this kid a job without sending her to college!

Recently, I've also had to consider the possibility of opera singer - thanks to my dad, who showed Ella a YouTube video featuring Susan Boyle. The girl now sings in operatic style about everything: the color of her shoes, the state of her room, and the unfairness of life - specifically hers. It takes me to the days when, as a 6-month old baby, she had the power to shatter glass with her piercing screams. Back then, the pediatrician suggested I buy ear plugs. Guess who's getting the last laugh now, Doc. Someday, my little girl could be on stage reaching the octaves Mariah Carey only hits in her dreams!

My greatest fear, though, is that Ella will grow up to be a politician - because let me tell you, that little girl can LIE. Just tonight, I was questioning the kids about some stickers I found on the hallway banister. No big deal; I just wanted to remind everyone that we have stickers on nearly every surface in this house, and to please stop decorating my house with stickers. But it was quickly obvious to my husband and me that someone wasn't telling the truth. Fingers were pointing and eyes were welling up with tears, but we just weren't getting to the bottom of the situation - until I noticed Ella calmly eating her dinner and sipping on her water, looking as if she hadn't a care in the world. This is not standard issue behavior for my drama queen.

When asked "whodunit?" she calmly pointed a finger at Evie. When asked again, she pointed at Ty. After a few more minutes of prodding, she gave us the reliable Washington, "You know. I don't really remember if it was me or not," routine. Eventually, she was sent to her room and punished appropriately - not for the stickers, but for the lies.

Frankly, the whole evening weighs heavily on me. Ella is to me, by far, the most challenging of my children to parent, in part because she is the exact opposite of me. Not in the sin of lying (unfortunately, that is an area I CAN relate to) but in the way she carries her heart. I tend to be one who wallows in guilt and self-pity - the ugly stepsisters of a contrite spirit. But more often than not, Ella blames her bad choices on me, her sisters, or the imaginary "naughty bugs" in her room. Things are rarely, if ever, her fault.

Knowing this doesn't ever, for one fraction of a second, diminish the crazy, overwhelming love I have for my child. She is a treasure, and a gift from God - one that I wish came with an instruction manual I could study. But she didn't come with a manual. So the challenge for me, since Day 1 with this child, has been to study her. To explore her heart. To figure out her passions. To discover what speaks to her. Ultimately, my purpose as her mom is to show her the heart of God, and watch her revel in the crazy, overwhelming love of her Heavenly Dad.

Yes, my child lies. Yup, it's one of those Ten Commandments we're not supposed to break. Yes, I suppose if I'm being honest myself, it bothers me that the child I've worked so hard to "raise right" can be so flagrant in her sin. But motherhood isn't so much about me as it is the little girl I'm raising to adulthood. I don't know what she's going to be when she grows up, but if I study hard - if I get her heart - she'll have a growing relationship with the God Who loves her. And she won't be afraid to speak that truth to others.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Back to You, Al

As a mom, I spend the majority of my days focused on the following tasks: 1) keeping the children alive; 2) putting away all of their crap stuff; and 3) answering their tireless litany of questions. Unfortunately, there was something leaking out of Ty's ear this morning when I got him up, so Task #1 became the primary focus of my day. It took a major effort to herd my children to the Urgent Care down the street, but by 10:30 we were all checked in and parked in front of their wall-mounted flat screen - which was tuned to The Weather Channel. Clearly, the Urgent Care isn't used to herds of small children. Therefore, enter the litany of questions...

Why are we here?

How long do we have to wait for the doctor?

Why do they have a TV?

What are they doing on the TV?

Is that the weather man?

What's his name?

Why is he talking about the weather?

Is that a tornado?

What's a tornado?

What's a twister?

Why is a twister the same as a tornado?

Can a tornado pick up a person?

Can it pick up a car?

Can it pick up a house?

Is that tornado going to come to our house?

Where will we go if a tornado comes to our house?

But what if it does?

But what if it does?

Are you going to go in the closet, too?

Can we sleep in the closet?

Where is that tornado?

What is 'Braska?

OK, where is 'Braska?

Why did Grandma and Grandpa live in 'Braska?

Did they live in Mexico, too?

What is that red thing over Mexico?

What is a hurricane?

Is it like a tornado?

When can we go to Mexico?

Will the hurricane get us if we go to Mexico?

Why do they have rain on that map of Georigia if it's not raining now?

What day is today?

What day is tomorrow?

When is tomorrow?

So will it rain tomorrow?

What are we going to do tomorrow?

But what if it rains?

Will the rain make a flood?

What is a flood?

Did the ark really have all of the animals in it?

What about the dinosaurs?

Did the dinosaurs get on the ark?

Why not?

Were dinosaurs disgusting?

Did they stomp people flat?

Is God going to send another flood?

But why did He pick a rainbow?

Can I see a rainbow today?

Hey, who's that lady talking on the TV now?

Why is that her name?

Did her daddy give her that name?

Why is there a fire on the TV?

Are those helicopters?

If a fire comes to our house, will we get to see a helicopter?

But what if a fire does come to our house?

But what if one does?

But what if one does?

Oh, Mommy! That lady just said Ty's name! Are you coming?



Honestly, I'm still pretty focused on Task #1 thanks to Ty's monstrous ear infection. I'm just going to be kicking my other major tasks to the curb for the day. Unless my husband is willing to pick up the crap stuff and Al Roker's ready to field some questions...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Trials and Tribulations of Training Ty

I hate potty training. I hate, hate, HATE potty training. Ella - no joke - took 18 MONTHS to potty train thanks to an early, miscalculated battle of the wills. Don't ask - I'm totally scarred by the whole experience and still not ready to talk about it. Thankfully, Emily and Evie made up for that debacle by knocking their training out in a DAY. In the process, they also taught Ella where Numbers 1 and 2 belong.
Now it's time to take on Ty. Technically this is my third round with him, but I understand boys to be different (yes, in addition to the obvious), so I'm letting him take his time getting used to the whole idea. However, the boy has been changing his own diapers for a few weeks now. Should I take that as a sign that the window of opportunity is finally wide open???

Day 1


It's Round 3, so I've learned a few things. First of all, I'm going in armed with the following: a step stool on which he can stand (past experiences indicate a standing preference), Lysol wipes (because of the standing), a container of Cheerios (maybe I'll use fewer wipes if he has something to "aim" for?), and half a bag of M & M's to use as a reward for all successful, er, deposits.

I still haven't figured out how to refer to his boys parts, though. Peter? Snooper? Wiener? The anatomically correct term? Usually, I'm the kind of mom who goes for the latter. However, my children are famous for speaking inappropriately in the most public of places. Great for the blog and all, but I'm not really sure I want to arm him with that information just yet. Oh well, something to think about...

Day 2

I seem to have forgotten something in all of my preparations.

Big Boy Underwear.

The boy has it in his head that he can't go pee-pee on the potty if he's still sporting a diaper. I suppose that makes sense, so I dropped the girls off at VBS this morning and took Ty on a very special outing to his second-favorite store. ("Lobby Lobby" ranks number 1. I'm simultaneously delighted and horrified...) Wal-Mart seemed like my best bet for success, because Ty was very specific about asking for Cars 2 underwear. I wasn't sure anyone was making Cars 2 underwear, but silly me, the movie is being released in 18 days so of course the local Wal-Mart is stocking Cars 2 underwear. As well as original Cars underwear. And Thomas the Train underwear. It was an emotionally-charged 20-minute decision, but Ty finally went with his first choice. I have to applaud him, because usually your first instinct is right on, don't you think?

We went out to the van and cracked those bad boys open because 1) I might as well start now, right? and 2) Ty was going to scream for Cars 2 underwear all the way home if we didn't. Of course, we didn't go right home because I had to pick the girls up from VBS and - of course - they all wanted to play on the playground. I asked Ty if he needed to go potty. He responded with an emphatic "NO." Three minutes later, Ty was swinging in a swing when I noticed a trickle running down his leg and a rather large puddle beneath him.

If you frequent our pre-school playground, don't use the red swing until we've had a good rain.

If you don't live in Georgia, no worries.

Day 3

Nothing to report other than several more puddles and a handful of drowned Cheerios.

Day 4

See Day 3.
Day 5

See Day 3.

Day 6

See Day 3

Day 7

If drowning Cheerios was a crime, I'd get the chair. I'm pretty sure we've gone through half a box of our Honey Nut stash in the last week. Did you know that it takes approximately 1 hour for a Cheerio to completely disintegrate in toilet water? Of course, this isn't so much experiment as observation. But if the pre-school decides to do a science fair next year, I've got a fantastic idea.

Day 8

I will throw a ticker-tape parade for this kid if he puts one thing - ANY. THING. - in the potty. I will not, however, give him an M & M, as I have regretfully consumed one or two bagsseveral bags.

Also, on a completely different note, I will not be weighing in at Weight Watchers this week.

Day 9

Ty still hasn't made one single deposit in the potty... and it turns out that a 7-pack of Cars 2 underwear doesn't go as far as one might think. I've done 23 loads of laundry this week.

By the way, if you're over at my house anytime soon, stay away from the rug in the sun room. And the playroom. And the family room. Just a suggestion...

Day 10

This kid really has an affinity for rugs. I swear, it's like training a puppy. Would DeFACS frown on me for sticking Ty's face in the puddles and swatting his nose with a newspaper?

Ha ha, I'm just kidding! I haven't done that.


Day 11

Inspiration struck me while watching the news today. Ty's still making Number 1 on the rug, but I think I finally have an appropriate name for his boy parts. In light of recent Washington events, what do you think of "The Congressman?" I think it makes a real statement myself.

Day 12

Ty and the Congressman finally managed to make pee-pee on the potty.

No, he really did go... ON the potty.

Sure enough, Ty finished his "stand here with the Congressman in hand and try" routine, pulled up his pants, then closed the potty lid, stood on top of the potty, and relieved his bursting bladder - wait for it - ON TOP OF THE CLOSED POTTY. Of course when I heard him yell, "I went pee-pee on the potty, Mommy!" I went sprinting to the bathroom with the ticker tape ready, only to find him standing on the lid and soaked down to his shoes. And the puddle beneath him? Just like a homing pigeon, it was headed straight for - you guessed it - the rug.

Day 13

Ty is on a mission to christen every rug in the county. I'd like to offer specific apologies to my mom, the girls at the gym, and my chiropractor. And also to my daughters, who were in the bathtub when their little brother bi-passed the Cheerios and aimed for them instead.

That was NOT the shower Mommy had intended for you, girls.

Day 14

Congressman Weiner resigned today. So did I.
the whole bag
a bag of M & M's