Stories from December 2011

The Joy of Boys

Sarah Logan

In the past, I’ve spent a lot of time bemoaning the fates for sending me a boy. Boys are difficult. They don’t sit still. They’re hard to potty train. They like overly complicated toys that even my husband can’t figure out. They’re demanding, sometimes disgusting, and often dangerous.

But I swear, there is nothing cuter than a little boy.

You hear people talk about “boys and their mothers,” and until Caveman, I really didn’t know what they were talking about. As the oldest of four girls, it was obvious to me that boys were completely unnecessary, and that girls and their mothers are the “close” ones. Boys just come in and out of the house, demanding to be fed and stinking up the bathroom, right?

Well, yes, but still. As mothers, we fall in love with our boys in a way that is just as strong as, but completely different than, the way we fall in love with our daughters. With a daughter, it’s easy to project yourself onto her. At least in my case, she’s practically a little clone of me, and I work hard every day to let her be her own person. For whatever reason, it’s easier not to do this with boys, so you really get to relax and let them be who they are. Somewhere in that easy acceptance is the joy of boys.

Boys are enthusiastic. I have never seen anyone throw themselves into something with quite the same enthusiasm as Caveman and whatever it is he’s doing at any given moment. His play is complex and multi-layered, with characters from different worlds who suddenly morph into other characters, a wide range of emotions, and villains who first rescue only to zap you a few seconds later. It’s fascinating to watch, but impossible to understand.

Boys are funny. O.K., girls are funny too, but when boys say things, they are just so SURE that they speak the truth, which makes their misinterpretations of the world around them even more comical. And they say it with such serious looks on their faces. How could you not love them?

Maybe the sweetest thing, though, is that once in a while, they manage to stop climbing the walls and zapping aliens and come over and actually give you a hug, or a kiss, or say, “I love you, Mommy.” Because those moments are such a contrast to the usual tornado of activity that is a little boy, they are even more precious.

That, my friends, is the joy of boys. May you get more hugs and fewer tornadoes over the holidays!

Ten Things I Really Want for Christmas

Karrie McAllister
  1. I want to one-up the my-life-is-perfect Christmas card lady, the one who gets her cards out first, complete with staged photo of her hellion children and a one page, rhyming letter about how spectacular they all are.
  2. I want to make cookies that don’t look like powdered sugar and butter got together and threw up a bunch of sprinkles.
  3. I want to give my children the perfect gift so that they’ll be occupied for hours, all the while being educated.
  4. I want the aforementioned to not require me to cut 50,000 wires and require a battery supply equivalent to a year’s college tuition.
  5. I want my tree to look fancy, like one from a magazine with silver bows and white lights instead of the hokey colored lights and dozens of dough ornaments with buttons pushed in that I honestly love, but still, that fancy tree looks so fancy…
  6. I want to have the glory of saying, “I’m done with shopping” in early December.
  7. I want to rub the aforementioned into someone’s face, particularly someone like the person I morph into in mid-December, when the crunch is on and suddenly I’m buying As Seen On TV gifts for my in-laws at the drug store because in my holiday frazzled mind, it’s really a great product.
  8. I want to make seriously perfect holiday memories.  Handmade stockings, reading The Night Before Christmas by firelight, matching pajamas, the works.
  9. I want the world to travel to me (or not?) on Christmas day, so we don’t have to say to the kids, “Great!  New Toys!  Now put them away and go put on itchy clothes because we’re going to spend the rest of the day eating and riding in the car!  Yay!”
  10. I want to fall asleep in wrapping paper with perfectly frosted cookies smeared on my face and even a little bit on my matching pajamas.  And then I want to take a picture and put it on next year’s card.  That’s right.

The Ugly Tooth

Kate Chretien

We recently had a family photo session scheduled, and you know whenever you have something important like that, some kind of calamity is about to befall someone. Maybe it’s a snotty nose from a perfectly timed cold or a black eye from an errant Nerf ball or Jimmy accidentally cuts Maddie’s hair like Carrot Top or a 1-inch zit magically appears on your nose when you wake up that morning.  Some kind of calamity like that.

I wondered what it would be for us this year. Was baby Emile coming down with something? My pores looked unusually massive. But then, the calamity became self-evident. Elise lost one of her two wiggly front teeth. Leaving one wiggly front tooth.

It wasn’t the gap I took issue with. The gap was kind of cute, marking just this moment in time of 6-going-on-7. What was disturbing was that once that first front tooth fell, the second one became positively gruesome.

It was - now having lost its wiggly partner in crime – crooked and ominous, laying across the gateway to her mouth like a drunken linebacker trying to stay upright in his seat, but failing. Wasn’t this a baby tooth? It looked all crazy giant. It fluttered when Elise exhaled through her mouth, like whenever she spoke, flapping in the breeze. It was wiggly. And it was ugly.

All we could do was hope that that thing would fall out before 3 pm on Friday. In 24 hours.

Every so often during that 24 hours, we’d ask about the status of the Ugly Tooth. Did it fall out yet? Is it looser? Want an apple? Carrot stick? Corn on the cob?

When Luke and Elise started to play rowdy, I kind of just let it go…la la la la

But, no. The Ugly Tooth remained. She could push it 95% out with a gentle nudge from her tongue. I fantasized about the dental floss and doorknob days of my youth. And when 3 pm, Friday afternoon rolled around, the tooth hadn’t gotten the memo that he was supposed to be under a pillow somewhere waiting for The Fairy.

We had our pictures taken.

Not three hours later, Elise exclaims, “I lost my tooth!” She holds up her tooth, now looking so small and helpless in her triumphant hands and smiles a grin that was truly made for pictures.

Tooth 1. Family photos 0.

Bla Bla Bla

Linda Kennard

I confess: I don’t listen to every word my children say, and the reason is simple. They talk too much. And they talk about stuff I don’t care about.

For some kid-related topics, I can’t even muster up fake interest, like PC, Nintendo or PS3 games. When Jay was in her Pokemon phase (where C&T are still lingering), and she’d say, “Guess what? On my Gameboy, I caught this extremely rare Floatimon . . . ,” I’d stop her right there. With a shake of my head and the traffic-cop “STOP!” signal, I’d say, “Uh, sorry there darlin’! Don’t take this personally, but I hate your video games. I love you, of course, and am interested in anything you have to say about virtually anything other than your video games . . . school work, creative projects, philosophical musings, friend dilemmas—anything real.”

They’ve all heard variations on this speech many times. At this point, they police each other. Tanner will say, “So in Minecraft . . .” and off he’ll go, but only for a minute or two, before Clyde says, “Dude! Look who you’re talking to! Mom doesn’t care about Minecraft!”

And it’s true. I don’t. I care about their real lives . . . at least, theoretically, but I have to say that sometimes their real lives are boring too. There was a time last year when Tanner talked endlessly about his girlfriend. Clyde would walk through the door after school, Tanner trailing miserably behind, and mouth, “Oh my Gosh, he’s making me crazy!” I’d take over the role of listener to relieve Clyde, but after three months and thousands of hours listening to stories about who said what rude thing when, I begged him to give it a rest.

Overall though, I do care about their real lives . . . just not all the time. Sometimes they have exceptionally bad timing. Last night at 8:00, I was limping on an injured ankle carrying a cup of tea to nurse a cold in bed, when Tanner said, “Hey! You remember that bug story I told you about?” (Read more…)

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This Weeks Tip

You would think at our age that we wouldn’t have to worry about these things. But, as Kate will attest, even at *ahem* 27, untimely breakouts can (and will) happen. What to do? Apply an ice cube for 30 second. Then soak a cotton ball in eye drops and press it to the “spot” for 3 minutes. The theory is that the ice and drop combination will cause blood vessels below the surface to contract—leaving you looking, well, a little less like Rudolph.