Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

Before our kids were born, or even when they were little babies, I liked to dream about all the wonderful qualities I hoped they'd have as children. Now that some of those wishes have come to fruition, I'm forced to consider that I maybe didn't think things through as thoroughly as I should have.

For instance, I hoped that our kids would love words; that they would love to read and to find out the meaning of words and would get as excited as their father does about where different words come from. I had not considered that this might mean that my children would have their own ideas about what books to like, and that I might have to suffer through hundreds of readings of our vast library of books on construction equipment, cars, farm animals, dinosaurs, princesses, and Disney fairies (let me just pause here to highly DISrecommend the tome The Fairy Berry Bake-Off).

I also must have forgotten about that joyous phase of every kid's life, where totally inappropriate or even slightly taboo words are the best ones EVER. This weekend, while riding in the car to the store with me, Daniel said, "Mom? You know what word I love?" Just as my pulse started to race at the thrill of my child having a favorite word, he concluded, "Butt." (pause of silence) "BUTT!" (only this time in that gooky voice that comes from talking through an emerging laugh). This is, unfortunately, the favorite word of both our children at this time, and the source of frequent entertainment and merriment in our home. Yesterday for Valentine's Day Kyle and I worked it into our good-morning conversation when we woke Daniel up for school, just to show him we love him.

I'd also hoped that our kids would be creative, which in Daniel's case seems to be playing itself out in the form of some outlandish storytelling. The other day when I picked him up from school, his teacher asked, "You don't actually have, like, 100 chickens on your property, do you?" When I reported that, no, we do not in fact raise chickens at all, she said she thought we didn't, but that Daniel had told her we were raising them in order to make lots of chicken pot pies. And while this particular story might have been a slightly altered version of the plot to Chicken Run, this is not the first time Daniel's teacher has had to seek a little reality-check at pickup time. In the imaginary pets department alone, I've previously corrected stories about us owning a rabbit and some chameleons.

Additionally, at lunch the other day we had some Bugles chips. I told the kids that they had to finish all their carrots before they could have chips, and this was no problem for Daniel. He did do this, of course:

...but who can blame him? I think this is a requisite childhood Bugle behavior.

The real winner in the creativity department this day, though, was Eva. She showed me a carrot-less plate, received and ate her Bugles, and then went down for a nap. Upon cleaning the kitchen, I started to dump out her nearly-empty milk cup and noticed two baby carrots, perfectly concealed under the last inch of milk. Drat! Outsmarted by a two-year old!

Finally, we are at last within sight of that blessed event: the end of diapers. I have been dreaming of the day when we can quit buying and changing diapers, and have been anxiously awaiting Eva's learning to use the toilet. Yesterday morning by 8:15, however, I noticed that we were on our seventh potty trip of the day already. It took me an hour to change sheets around our house, because I had to stop every two minutes to help with wiping and hand-washing and such. Similarly, I spent much of our trip to the library on Friday in the bathroom with Eva, and she's used potty breaks as her excuse to get out of bed twice during today's nap time. At this rate, I won't be able to finish this blog post and make our grocery list before nap time is finished.

So far, our grocery list only consists of our weekly 3 gallons of milk and 5-lb box of oranges. I guess that's what I get for wishing for kids who are healthy eaters.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Our Little Negotiator

When we were in St. Louis last month, several members of my family noticed that Daniel seems to have turned into a tiny lawyer overnight. He meets nearly every instruction given to him with, "How about this?" or "What if we do X and then do that?" Extra television, junk food, an extra few minutes before rest time; there is really nothing he won't try to negotiate.

Recently we were driving home from a late-evening event, and he'd had an early dinner. He asked if he could have a snack before bed, and I said I thought that sounded reasonable.
"How about some cookies?" he said.
"How about some fruit?" I replied.
"Okay, can I have an orange, then?" he asked.
"Can I have some milk with it?"
"Okay, so some milk, an orange, and cookies, then."

Seriously, this is how so many of our conversations go down. Being his parent requires constant vigilance against the onslaught of craftily-phrased demands. I wonder if this is what Monty Hall's parents felt like. Even when he doesn't get his way, he tries to work in a guilt trip, creating leverage to increase his chances of getting something else later. We're hoping one day that he'll be able to turn this skill into a profitable career as a realtor, union leader, or District Attorney.

On the way to tumbling Thursday, we stopped at the bank, where I turned down the teller's offer of a sucker for Daniel.
"Why did you tell her 'no thank you'?"
"Well, because you had a leftover Halloween sucker 30 minutes ago, and because we're on our way to tumbling, where suckers are not allowed."
"You know, Jesus lives in my heart."
"Sure, Buddy."
"You know, I was going to put that sucker in my belly button so that Jesus could hold it. So now Jesus isn't going to get a sucker."
"I'm sure Jesus will forgive me."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Teacher Benefits

As anyone who watches the news knows, we here in the Midwest had a massive snowstorm yesterday.

We managed to get Faisal back from visiting his uncle in Portland in the early morning hours Tuesday, just before the storm hit and the government closed I-70. We'll be tracking down his luggage for the next few days, I'm sure, but we're thankful we were able to scramble together a shuttle and a ride from his language program Director when his flight from St. Louis to Kirksville was canceled.

While there are surely some people without power, or city works employees weary from plowing all night, this has been a little vacation for us, only with more driveway shoveling. We have plenty of food and we haven't lost power, so no eating cold soup straight out of the can or anything. The snowplow has made a lane in our street, so as soon as I get stir-crazy enough to connect Kyle's driveway shoveling to the plowed lane we'll even be able to get the cars out. The kids are all hanging out in their pajamas, reading books and watching movies and playing whatever this game is here:

And so we arrive at one of the great, uncounted benefits of teaching... The Snow Day. Today marks our fourth one this year, which makes for a pretty easy semester so far. Sure, people in other professions might get higher pay and stuff, but while they are scraping the snow off their cars and driving to work at 10mph we are sleeping in, making pancakes for breakfast, and doing stuff like this:

And that's GOT to be worth something, right?