Friday, May 29, 2009

Young Love

Never mind that she is moving to a school less than 1 mile from our house.

Never mind that since he has fallen in love with her, he has quit interacting with her completely.

Never mind that he has been in love with a different girl every year since preschool.

Never mind that he is only 8 years old.

Jack thinks he is in love, his love is moving, and he is brokenhearted.

And as is typical when Jack has something on his mind, it came pouring out 10 minutes into his bedtime. Only this time instead of being a long, sad, profound conversation, it ended being more of a goofy, giggly talk because his younger brother was sleeping over in his room. And that's probably a good thing. Because I don't know how to explain to him that he's not in love. I don't know how to tell him that what he thinks he's feeling can't be real because he's too little to understand love. But maybe he does. Maybe he has found love in its most innocent, purest form. Who am I to tell him what he's feeling is not love?

So we talked about her, and how he could still see her because she won't be far. And I reminded him of his past loves and how he thought he would never be over them, only to fall in love each year with someone new. I reminded him of his Kindergarten love, and how he never thought he'd survive without her.

"But I was dumb about love then. D-U-M-B. Dumb. I asked her to kiss me. In Kindergarten. In front of everybody. When I looked at her, all my eyes could see was blackness."

I think he meant he was blinded by love.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Whole Year Braver and Wiser

There wasn't much of a difference between May 19 and May 20. Not much occurred between May 22 and May 23. But sometime in the night during those two spans, my 7 year old turned 8 and my 5 year old turn 6. When they woke up a whole year older, they looked the same. They talked the same. They hadn't grown over night.

But to them, that one night's sleep that allowed them to officially state their ages one whole digit higher than what they had the day before was humongous. They acted a little wiser, a little more mature (at least until the gifts were opened), a little braver.

Jack is legally allowed to ride in a car without a booster seat. He misses the accompanying cup holders and head rest that came with the booster, but would never revert back to a tool of a 7 year old.

Luke got his own Nintendo DS and went for his first sleep over at his cousins' house. He even made it until 8:30 before calling to come home.

Jack braved the Superman Tower of Power at Six Flags.

Luke went off the diving board at the swimming pool for the first time ever. He didn't ride any new rides at Six Flags since the last time we went, but he was an excellent cheerer.

Jack was worried about another kid in the house now owning a DS, but stated after giving it some thought and time, "I was worried that this wouldn't work out, but it is a success."

Luke stated after Jack wanted to sit around the fire listening to John tell stories with his dad and sister, "I've heard all of Dad's stories - they're not that good."

It's hard to believe I have a future third grader and a future first grader. Jack already won't let me kiss him when people are around and often chastises me for embarrassing me. Luke will be starting full-day school and we will see him less and less. But I don't take it personally. I know it is part of growing up. I just make sure that I know their friends, am in their lives as much as they allow me, and that they look out for each other.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Wild Weekend

We live in St. Louis, but in an area with a big lot near a creek not far from Grant's Farm. This location makes our yard a playground to various wildlife. We have an array of birds, squirrels, rabbits, frogs, toads, owls, bats, snakes, chipmunks, opossums, and raccoons that call our yard home, whether permanently or temporarily throughout the year.

Now that we have our recently turned 1 year old wild animal Indy, the animals have figured out the range of his electric fence and love to stay just outside of its boundary, taunting him and grating the neighbors' nerves with his bark.

A raccoon inadvertently wandered into Indy's realm and was promptly chased up a tree. He stayed in that tree for hours. We thought he might have rabies so watched him for awhile, but then figured he was just stuck up there. So, since my husband loves me and knows that I have a soft spot for animals, he put up a ladder for the raccoon. I would have loved to see that raccoon use the ladder. I can only assume he used it to get down because the next morning he was gone. Our genius dog Indy just assumed he was still up in the tree, though, and barked at the tree for about another 3 hours.

This year a pair of blue jays decided to make a nest and lay eggs in a tree in our yard. Their nest is close to the ground within Indy's domain. I don't think they knew this when they went to work on their building. Those poor parents must be exhausted guarding their babies. Indy doesn't realize that the nest exists, but gets great pleasure out of "playing" with the blue jays. He has figured out that if he approaches the tree, the blue jays swiftly come out of thin air to swoop at him, quickly pecking his butt or head, before they fly up to a wire where they sit and taunt him. When Indy gets bored or wants to play with them, our Pavlovian dog simply walks close to the tree. Instant playmates!

Poor, lonely puppy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day Brought...

Sleeping in until 9:00 am.

A giant, homemade card.

Promises of chores to come from Jack.

An "About My Mom" book from Luke calling me as pretty as a daisy, that I weigh 81 pounds, that I'm fun when I'm crazy but turn red when I'm mad.

A gift certificate for a pedicure.

A picnic at the park with my boys, mom and sister.

Games of ball, Cosmic Keepaway, a husband to hike through the creek and climb trees so I could lay on the blanket and drink a beer.


Love to fill my heart again and again.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Is This Progress?

Luke doesn’t generally talk to adults that talk to him if he doesn't know them well. He barely talks to the ones that he does know. Adult acquaintances of ours, waiters, people at the checkout counter, or just general strangers offering a friendly “Hi” usually send Luke into his alter ego NipNip the Snail. Their questions or compliments are met with squeals, grunts and growls. I find myself assuring them that he can talk like a normal boy.

So when we were at the toy store the other day and he willingly answered every one of the questions asked by the woman checking us out, even to the point of holding a casual if very brief conversation with her, I was stunned. What did she have that others didn’t? What was she doing right to get Luke to come out of his NipNip the Snail shell?

As we walked to the door but before we got out of the store, he said, “I hate people like that.”

Before I had a chance to admonish him, he clarified with, “I don’t hate them, I just hate it when they act like that.”

I was taken aback, since not 30 seconds earlier he was holding what seemed like a very lovely conversation with this woman. “Act like what?” I asked him as we walked across the parking lot to the car and I felt like we could talk about this woman without hurting her feelings.

“You know, all ….” then he plastered the biggest, widest, cheesiest smile I’d ever seen across his face, tilted his head, and crossed his eyes just a bit. It was a 5-year old’s way of expressing that the woman was just a bit too eager to please, a touch over the top.

“I thought she was very nice. How would you want her to act?”

“Like the other one. At the book store.” Oh. Like the guy that had checked us out earlier that was cool and aloof with just the right balance of interest and detachment and that paid no direct attention to Luke.

So what I mistook for Luke coming out of his shell and enjoying a conversation with an adult actually turned out to be him humoring her. I guess that’s still progress. I guess that shows some empathy in him, that he picked up on her need to communicate with him and he obliged. And he almost made it out of earshot before he started ridiculing her. We’ll have to work on that one.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Butler Agreement

Pokemon cards are an enigma to me. I'm sure I could figure out all of the names and symbols and powers and points if I sat down with an afternoon to spare and a bottle of wine to kill. But do I really want to? No.

Jack and Luke have started a collection of Pokemon cards. I think the cards are an enigma to them as well, although they won't admit it. They both pretend to know what is a worthy card and what is not. Maybe they really do know. From their actions, however, Jack judges a worthy card on any card he wants that he doesn't have but that Luke has, and Luke judges a worthy card on any card that Jack wants.

Take for instance the Ancient Mew card. Luke ended up with this card through the kind dissemination of a lifelong collection of Pokemon cards by my cousin Clayton. Jack claimed he wanted it and saw it first. Luke is apparently faster and grabbed it first. Thus began a week long obsession by Jack over the Ancient Mew card. He had to have it. I even went on line to prove to him that it wasn't that special. He didn't care. I said I'd by him one of the ones online. He said he didn't want a used one. I pointed out the obvious used nature of the current card, but he still wanted it. His brother had it, after all.

He pleaded with his brother. He cried. He threatened. He bargained. "I'll trade you all of Pokemon cards for that one card. I'll trade you my Nintendo DS for that one card." The bigger the offers got, the more Luke's power grew. Finally, Jack agreed to be Luke's servant. Jack got his card. Luke got a servant.

But Jack forgot to work out the terms before agreeing to the deal. Luke wanted a servant for a few months. He wanted to pick out Jack's clothes that Jack would wear everyday. And I realize this being Luke's mother but Jack did not when he struck this deal, Luke can have constant demands and requests, some of them quite unreasonable.

So when Jack got tired of the whole servant routine after about two hours, Luke snatched back his Ancient Mew card. The deal was called off and Jack went back to bargaining and obsessing.

I tried to explain to Jack in a way that would not allow him to outright manipulate his brother that the more he appeared to want something from Luke, the less likely Luke was to give it. "Ooohhhh," he said. The wheels were turning. I heard him talking to Luke. "You know, that card isn't so good. This one I have is way better. But I'll trade if you want." No deal. Too little, too late.

After about 5 more days, the card was forgotten. Luke left it on the table and it got ruined by the dripping condensation from a water cup. I don't think Jack cared so much about the wasted greatness as long as Luke didn't have the card either.