Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Three or Four

My youngest son is a sweet, sensitive, yet rambunctious three years old.  He loves to sing and make noises as he plays with his toys.  Sometimes, he will get rowdy while singing and begin to growl out the lyrics.  Other times, he will race through the house with zooming jet planes.  My husband and I are constantly picking up the same ten toys around the living room.  My husband and I can also be found kneeling on the floor beside our youngest child listening to his latest adventure.  Sometimes, we comment on the exciting things he tells us.  Sometimes, we ask him questions.

One sunny and wintry afternoon, I asked Son #2.  "How old are you?"

Son #2 stopped mid run through the kitchen and replied.  "I four."  He proudly held up four fingers to confirm his answer.

"Hmm."  I said and bent over to count the tiny fingers.  "One.  Two.  Three.  Four.  You're right.  That's four fingers but you're not four.  You're three."  I knelt down and held up three fingers as an example.

Son #2 eyed my fingers and then counted.  "One.  Two.  Free.  You wight, Mama!  You free."

"No no no.  I'm not three.  You're three."  I laughed as I helped him form his hand into three upright fingers.

Son #2 looked at his three fingers and giggled.  "I not free.  I four!"  With that exclamation, he promptly changed his hand to four upright fingers.

I chuckled in amusement.  "Nuh uh!"  I said in a playful voice.  "You're three!"  Again, I held up three fingers.

"No Mama!  I four!"  Son #2 squealed with delight.

We went on like this for quite a while.  Finally, I was able to convince my youngest son that he was three years old.  Also after a bit of practice, Son #2 successfully held up three fingers when announcing his age.  I was so proud of my little boy.  Quickly, I jumped up and said.  "Go tell Daddy how old you are!"

Son #2 ran to his dad's office as fast as his little legs would go.  From outside the office, I heard the following conversation.

"So, how old are you little son?"  My husband asked kindly.

"I four!"  Son #2 shouted out with a small touch of defiance.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Great Debate

As is our custom at bedtime, I had the boys bathe, dress in their pajamas, brush their teeth, and listen to a Bible story.  After our regular bedtime routine, the boys said their prayers and hopped into bed.  Then, I kissed them on their cheeks and crept out of their rooms.  From each room, I could hear their sweet little voices call out.

"Goodnight Mommy!" 

"I love you, Mommy!"

"Goodnight!"  I replied with a smile.  "I love you, too!"

I tiptoed to my room and turned on the computer.  There was a stack of papers that desperately needed organization.  As I sat in my chair to peruse the pile, a little boy peeked around the doorway.  "You need to go back to sleep."  I said as I eyed him from the corner of my eye.

"I need to go potty."  Son #2 whispered from around the dark corner.

"O.K."  I sighed.  "Let's go potty."

Son #2 pranced to the restroom.  He pulled down his pants and underwear.  Then, he sat on the toilet and proceeded to potty in the toilet.  He grinned at me proudly.  "I did it!  I did potty in the toilet!"  He cried.

"Good job!"  I cheered.  "Now, flush the toilet and I'll help you get dressed."

Son #2 obeyed quickly.  With the toilet flushed and my little boy clothed once more, we turned the water on at the sink to wash his hands.  Son #2 poured a huge glob of soap onto the palms of his hands.  He rubbed the soap across his fingers with delight and then watched the water from the faucet rinse the soap away.  When he was finished, my youngest son looked at me thoughtfully and said.  "I need to go potty."

"What?  You already went potty."  I countered.

"I need to go potty."  My youngest son insisted.

"Fine."  I rolled my eyes.  I knelt down to help my son onto the toilet again.  Once he was finished sitting on the toilet, we flushed, dressed, and washed his hands for a second time.  "Good job going potty again."  I said encouragingly.  "Now, let's go to bed."

"O.K."  Son #2 replied with a laugh.  As he crawled into bed, my youngest son whispered.  "I need to go potty."

A black cloud of irritation began to form over my head.  I wrinkled my nose and squinted my eyes at my little monkey sitting ever so innocently in his bed.  "You just went potty.  There is no more potty in your rear."  I argued.

"I need to go potty."  Son #2 responded with determination.

"Fine.  Let's go potty."  I said as I led Son #2 to the restroom for a third time.  This time as he sat on the toilet, my youngest son sang and played with his bath time toys.  I leaned against the sink waiting for him to use the restroom.  As time passed, I began to wonder if my little guy was constipated.  "Baby, is the poo poo stuck in your butt?"  I asked.

"No."  Son #2 smiled.

"Do you need to go potty?"  I asked again.

"No."  Son #2 continued to play.

"Then why are you sitting on the potty?"  I continued.

"Because I playing."  Son #2 said seriously.

"Alright."  I said in a no nonsense voice.  "Time to get off the potty and go to bed."  Son #2 hopped off the toilet.  We dressed, washed hands, and jumped back into bed.  "Goodnight."  I whispered as I kissed my youngest son's forehead.

"Goodnight, Mommy."  Son #2 said as he fidgeted with his stuffed animals.

I returned to my computer and began to sort through the unopened envelopes.  Soon, I was completely absorbed by the work laying on my desk.  Ten minutes passed uneventfully.  Then, I heard a pattering of little feet running across the house.  "Go back to bed!"  I called out from my room.

There was no answer.  The only noise I heard was a persistent scampering across the living room and kitchen floor.  I called out once more.  "Go back to bed!"

From around the corner of the door frame, Son #2 peeked into my room.  "I need to go potty."

"Again?"  I asked.  "Are you sure?"

"I need to go potty."  Son #2 insisted.

"O.K. Let's go potty."  I said as I got up to accompany Son #2 to the restroom.

For the fourth time, Son #2 sat on the toilet.  He asked to hold two of his duckies.  I complied as I wondered about my youngest son.  Was he getting sick?  Was he constipated?  Did he have some sort of infection?  I decided to let my little one sit for a while on the toilet just to see if that might help his situation.  While I waited for my youngest son to use the restroom, I washed a few dishes and put away a bit of clutter.  Then, I returned to the restroom to check on my youngest child.

There sat my child on the bathroom floor playing with his bath time toys.  Son #2 was making quacking noises for the ducks as they splashed about his imaginary pond.  I bit my lip before I asked.  "Do you need to go potty?"

"No."  Son #2 responded.

"Are you sure?"  I asked again.

"Yes."  Son #2 said politely.

"What are you doing?"  I asked a third time.

"I playing!"  Son #2 yelled cheerfully.

"It's not time to play."  I said firmly.  "It's time for bed."

"I not tired."  Son #2 replied.  "I playing."

"Get to bed!"  I commanded as I helped him dress and run to his room.

"I not tired!"  Son #2 yelled from under his comforter.

"Go to sleep!"  I responded with irritation.

"Fine!"  Son #2 muttered into his pillow.

I returned to my room to contemplate whether or not Son #2 was trying to manipulate me.  It seemed as though his master plan that night was to stay up as late as possible.  Hopefully, I had foiled his plans.  After a few minutes, I returned to my work.  Once again, I was completely engrossed in the task at hand when I heard little feet skittering across the kitchen floor.  This time, I did not stay in my room.  I immediately got out of the chair to investigate the kitchen.

When I turned the kitchen light on, a naked child streaked by my legs.  "Why are you naked?!"  I yelled.  "Get your clothes on and get back to bed!"

"No!"  Son #2 chugged.  "I racing!"

"You're naked!"  I called after him.

Son #2 giggled.  "I playing!  I racing!"

"Where are your clothes?"  I huffed as I chased my naked child across the house.  "You need to get your pajamas on again."

"No no no no no."  Son #2 chortled.  "No clothes.  I naked!"

Eventually, I found the missing pajamas and redressed my child.  As we walked hand in hand to bed, Son #2 tugged at my pant leg and whispered.  "I need to go potty."



Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Handwritten List

Son #1 and my husband were preparing to go to Lowe's.  There were several things in the house that needed to be fixed.  Before leaving the house, my husband sat at the kitchen table to write out his list for the shopping trip.  Son #1 jumped around as if he had ants in his pants.  He was thrilled to be going with his dad.  My husband muttered to himself quietly as he added more items.  "Hmm.  We need some 2x4s and some concrete."

Son #1 peered at the list as his dad wrote.  My husband continued to scrawl the items needed across the paper.  Son #1 wrinkled his nose and asked.  "What does that say?"

"Dirt."  My husband responded.

"Oh."  Son #1 mumbled. 

Son #1 continued to watch as his dad completed the list.  The wheels in his mind began to turn.  I wondered if he was mentally comparing his handwriting, the handwriting examples in his lessons, and his dad's handwriting.  Why can't I read my dad's handwriting?  Son #1 thought.  Why does the handwriting in the lesson look so neat?  Why is my dad's handwriting so messy?  Will my handwriting look that way when I grow up?

My husband frowned and furrowed his brow as he reviewed his list once more.  Then, he stood up and said.  "Alright Son, it's time to go.  Go get your jacket and meet me in the car."

Son #1's head bobbed up from the table.  However before he ran to retrieve his jacket, my oldest son gazed at the list and asked.  "How can you read your handwriting?"

My husband glanced down at his oldest son and laughed.  "I just can."

"I can't read it at all."  Son #1 continued.

"You can't?"  My husband said with mock surprise.

"No!"  Son #1 exclaimed.  "It's messy."

"Well."  My husband drawled.  "Don't worry.  Yours will look like this when you're my age."

"Nuh Uh."  Son #1 argued.

"Wanna make a bet?"  My husband chuckled.  "Go get your jacket and get in the car."

With that, Son #1 ran from the room to find his jacket.  Then, he hopped into the car eager to run errands with his dad.
 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Ants and the Worm

A few weekends ago, several of us packed up our tents and outdoor gear for a camping adventure at the lake.  It was a promising weekend with daytime temperatures in the high sixties and nighttime temperatures in the low thirties.  A strong wind blowing off the lake cooled the evenings down pretty quickly so we spent a lot of time by the campfire.  The boys loved every second of our camping trip.  They roasted marshmallows, chased each other around the campsite, explored the lake shore, and climbed everything in sight.  At night, they crawled into their sleeping bags exhausted.

One morning after breakfast, Son #1 and Son #2 hopped across the rocks by the parked cars.  After a while, Son #1 grew tired of their game.  He called out to his younger brother.  "I'm going over to the fire!"  Son #2 looked up for a brief second to acknowledge his older brother and then continued on with his game. 

Slowly, Son #1 meandered over to the enclosed picnic table and sat on the edge of the concrete slab.  He put his head in his hands and poked at the dirt with his toe.  His toe stirred up an ant pile underneath the concrete.  His toe also disturbed a tiny worm's hiding place just inches from the busy ants.  I leaned forward in my camping chair and suggested to my eldest son.  "You might want to move.  Those ants look mad.  I wouldn't want them to bite you."

Son #1 stood up and squatted a safe distance from the swarming ants.  He poked at them with a stick as I watched nonchalantly.  Then, I noticed the worm had wriggled into the path of several angry ants.  "Oh no!"  I shouted.  "The worm's getting attacked by the ants!"

Son #1 peered down with interest.  "No way, Mom!"  He called out with a touch of worry in his voice.

"Look!  I'm serious.  See the worm!  He's right in the middle of the ants."  I exclaimed.  "Go little worm!  Hurry!"

"Yeah!  Hurry worm!  You're going to get eaten!"  Son #1 yelled. 

We knelt down to get a better view of the drama.  The worm was deep into the heart of the ant colony's territory.  A group of well organized ants marched toward the worm.  Soon, the worm was fighting off the ants with all his might.  However, the ants were relentless in their attack.  They nipped at the worm and dug their mandibles into the worm's body.  My son and I were gripped by anxiety as we feared for the worm's life.  Incredibly, the worm fought off the small army of ants and escaped into the loose dirt.  My eldest son and I cheered.  We were so relieved.

Later that morning, Son #1 told the story of the ants and the worm to his dad, aunt, and uncle.  He pointed out the ant pile and described the worm's escape.  They were amazed by the little worm's grit and tenacity.  If you think about it for a second, the worm taught us a life lesson.  Even when things seem impossible, never give up.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Master Chef Son #1


Son #1 will be an amazing cook when he is an adult.  He has been interested in cooking since he was a toddler.  Every time I go into the kitchen to bake or make a meal, Son #1 is there beside me wanting to help.  Sometimes, I let him help me,  Sometimes, I'm in a hurry and I have to tell him that he can't help that day.  Son #1 is usually a little sad when he can't help.  However, he is always very excited when he can help.

One of Son #1's favorite shows on television is Master Chef Junior.  He studies the children as they chop, slice, blend, fry, saute, bake, and arrange an exquisite plate of food.  He usually cheers for the chefs that are around his age.  I think he identifies with them and hopes that they will find a way to win in spite of being the youngest kids on the television show.

After one particularly captivating show, Son #1 decided that he was going to make supper.  I was thrilled.  Son #1 opened the pantry door and began to inspect the food on the shelves.  He put his index finger to his chin and tapped it slightly as he pondered his choices.  Once a few minutes had passed, my oldest son reached up to a middle shelf.  He wrapped his fingers around two boxes and brought them to the kitchen counter.  Then, Son #1 announced.  "I'm going to make macaroni and cheese for supper tonight!"

"Mmm!  That sounds yummy!"  I said with a smile.

Son #1 grinned and started to read the directions.  He knelt down to search a cabinet for a large cooking pot.  Carefully, he filled it with water but he could not carry it to the stove.  "Mommy!"  Son #1 called.  "The pot's too heavy!  Can you help me?"

"No.  I wish I could help you.  I can't lift it because I just had surgery.  Let me get your dad."  I replied.  I peeked into my husband's office and said.  "Hey, Honey.  Son #1 needs you to carry a pot of  water to the stove.  I can't lift it because it's too heavy."

"Hang on."  My husband said absentmindedly.  Quickly, he wrapped up a few tasks on the computer and came out to the kitchen to help.

As soon as my husband entered the kitchen, Son #1 pleaded.  "Dad!  Help me get this pot to the stove.  I've tried and I've tried but it's too heavy."

"Sure!"  My husband said cheerfully.  Then, he watched curiously as Son #1 turned on the heat to the appropriate level.  My husband and I talked about our day as we waited for the water to boil.  Son #1 ran off to play in the living room.   Periodically, he popped into the kitchen to peer at the water in the pot.  Finally, the water boiled. 

As Son #1 added the noodles to the pot, my husband advised.  "You'll want to stir the noodles every few minutes so they won't stick together."  Son  #1 nodded his head seriously and began to search for a wooden spoon in the drawer beside the stove.  Once a wooden spoon was located, Son #1 climbed onto a chair and followed his dad's instructions.  When the noodles had softened, my husband helped our oldest son pour the noodles into a colander.  The hot water drained quickly from the noodles.  Then, the noodles were placed back into the pot. 

Son #1 looked at the cooked noodles in the pot and asked.  "What's next?"

I responded.  "Look at the instructions."

Son #1 picked up the macaroni and cheese box.  He read the instructions aloud.  "Add 4 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup of milk."

"Don't forget to double that."  My husband reminded.  Son #1 opened the refrigerator door.  My husband help our oldest son carry the ingredients to the counter.  Then, my husband helped our son measure out the proper amounts.  Slowly, Son #1 stirred the ingredients into the pot.  Finally, Son #1 added the cheese.  As soon as he finished mixing in the cheese, our oldest son announced.  "The food is ready!"

My husband, Son #1, Son #2, and I grabbed our plates.  We served ourselves a wonderful portion of rich, creamy, macaroni and cheese.  When we took a bite, we all agreed it was delicious.

Son #1 is completely inspired by these young chefs on Master Chef Junior.  At different times during this week, he has helped me make tacos, blueberry muffins, and rice.  I'm starting to get spoiled.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Racing with the Boxcar Children

One afternoon, Son #2 sat perched on the sofa watching a movie called The Boxcar Children.  This is a very sweet movie about four children that have been orphaned.  It delves into their adventures as they create a home in an abandoned boxcar in the woods.  My children love to watch this movie.  My oldest son is addicted to the book series and is now on his third Boxcar Children book.  The books and the movie are fantastic.

There is a scene in the movie that has a huge race.  The race is very exciting because the oldest brother of the Boxcar Children is competing in this race.  If he wins, he will receive a big cash prize.  The Boxcar children desperately need the money for food and other necessities.  Son #2 sensed the urgency in this scene and sat glued to the T.V.  My youngest son's eyes were wide with anticipation and his body was tense from the excitement.

All of a sudden the starting gun sounded and the race began.  The oldest of the Boxcar Children dashed ahead of the crowd.  Son #2 saw this and jumped with excitement.  Suddenly, my youngest son wanted to race as well.  He crouched in a corner of the living room and growled.  "On your mark.  Get set.  Go!" 

Son #2 sprinted in circles around the living room as the eldest of the Boxcar Children continued his race.  The music in the movie intensified.  Son #2 responded to the change and picked up his pace.  As he ran, Son #2 screamed in a garbled voice.  Round and round he went.  Past the sofa.  Around the lamp table.  Between the arms of the recliner and couch.  The oldest Boxcar Child rounded the corner and came into view of the finish line.  Son #2 took note of the latest event and began his final lap.  The oldest Boxcar Child neared the finish line.  People in the stands began to cheer.  Son #2 also neared the finish line.  He decided that he needed to cheer as well.  Finally, the oldest Boxcar Child crossed the finish line.  He had won the race!  Son #2 also crossed his finish line.  My youngest son had also won his race!  Son #2 stood in the middle of the living room with his hands raised above his head in a victory stance.  He yelled at the top of his lungs.  "I won!"

"Good job!"  I shouted in return.

Son #2 walked around the living room with his arms held high enjoying his accomplishment.  Then, he flopped onto the sofa in exhaustion.  The race around the living room had taken all his energy from him.  He watched the rest of the movie, cuddled up with his stuffed puppy dog and covered with his favorite blanket.

Monday, January 19, 2015

I Scared

It was a cold wintry day.  I bundled up for work in my thick, dressy coat.  I also accessorized with a matching scarf, ski head band, and a pair of neutral Isotoner gloves.  The biting wind had no chance of going through my clothes that day.  Opening the door carefully, I tiptoed out of the house to my car.  My husband and children were still asleep.  I wanted them to stay asleep as long as possible before facing the icy day.

When my work was complete, I threw on my winter apparel and headed out the door to find my car in the parking lot.  My car was miserably cold as I sat inside.  I could not wait to get to my warm home.  A short time later, I pulled into the driveway and turned off the engine.  I eased the car door open and then sprinted for the front door.  As I put the house key into the lock, I heard a little voice on the other side of the door.

"I open the door!"  The little voice shouted.

I sighed and closed my eyes.  "Hurry."  I called out.  "I'm cold."

Son #2 fiddled with the lock on the other side of the door.  He unlocked the bottom knob.  Then, he reached for the deadbolt.  I jumped up and down hoping to stay as warm as possible.  "Are you almost done?"  I asked trying to stay patient.

"No."  Came the little voice from the other side of the door.  "Hold on."  Son #2 stretched and pushed on the deadbolt.  Slowly ever so slowly, it unlocked.  Then, Son #2 began to twist the bottom knob.  He struggled to turn and pull the door open.  I tried to lightly turn the doorknob and help the little guy out.  From inside the house, my  youngest Son cried.  "Stop it, Mommy!  I do it!"

Patience.  

Breathe Deeply.  

"Let me help you."  I cajoled.

Son #2 caved.  "Alright, Mommy."

I helped him turn the doorknob and then I quickly stepped into the entryway.  It was blissfully warm inside the house.  Son #2 hugged my knees as I bent down to give him a kiss on the head.  "Hi Baby!"  I said cheerfully.  "How are you?"  Slowly, I knelt down and held my gloved hands out to give him a hug.  Son #2 started to run into my arms but suddenly stopped.  His eyes grew wide as he gazed at my hands.  My little baby backed away slightly shaking.

"What's wrong?"  I asked.

"I scared."  Son #2 replied pointing at my hands.

I looked at my hands in confusion.  There were gloves on them.  Could he be scared of the gloves?  It's not every day that I needed a pair of gloves to go outside.  I peered into his eyes and questioned my young child.  "Are you scared of the gloves?"

"Yes.  I scared."  Son #2 responded.  He still would not come near my hands.  Finally, I removed the gloves and put them in my purse.  I held out my hands so Son #2 could inspect them.

"See."  I assured him.  "There are no gloves on my hands."  Then, I held out my hands once more and asked for a hug.  Son #2 ran into my arms.  We snuggled and gave kisses.  My hands were not scary anymore.