Whisper Sweet Nothings to Me, Baby

Posted by Accidental Expert Friday, August 28, 2009 Comments

The other day I was putting my three-, almost four -year-old, to bed. Now, being the youngest of four, we've been somewhat neglectful on the whole bedtime routine thing. While my older children were in bed promptly at 7 pm at his age, he can still be seen wandering the house well past nine.

There are several reasons for this sad reality. First, we're just too damned busy. Between sports, activities, homework and the nightly drama of his older siblings, our little one gets a tad overlooked.

Also, did I mention he's our youngest? Our caboose. The Grand Finale. So everything he does is tempered with the knowledge that this will be the last time we see this stage. Even the terrible twos and tantrums looked a little sweeter this time around.

Last but not least is the not-so-gradual dissolve of our resolve. My husband and I were both over 40 when we had the Little Stinker, so we're tired, plain and simple. This has lead to us slipping up a bit in the discipline department. Admittedly, he gets away with way more than his older siblings -- a fact they remind me of on almost an hourly basis.

That's why, at the ripe old age of almost four, we still go through the nightly ritual of laying down with him until he falls asleep. None of the take a bath, read stories then say goodnight nonsense for us. We have to camp out with him, being absolutely sure he's well on his way to dreamland before we dare leave. If not, whining ensues and we're back at the drawing board.

So the other night, as I oh-so-gingerly attempted my exit, my son leaned over, his arm outstretched, eyes open slightly. Foiled again, I thought. But instead, he whispered in that voice that is easily recognizable to any mom out there. It was the I'm-so-vulnerable, I-depend-on-you, you-are-my-whole-life tone that can soften even the hardest of hearts.

"Mommy, don't go...." he said, his voice trailing off as he settled back into sleep. To this, I melted. Instead of stealing off to do the evening chores, I lay there relishing the moment, not wanting it to end.

But having older children, I know all too well that this phase is fleeting. Soon he will grow like his older siblings, and he won't need me at the level he does now. Friends will enter his life, his innocence will fade and he will become more and more independent.

So here I sit, typing away -- trying desperately to develop a snapshot in my mind -- to remember, to treasure. Even though I'm way too tired most of the time to recognize it, I know deep down these are the best years of my life. A time when the whisper of a child can move me in a way no others can.

Move Over Momma Loa

Posted by Accidental Expert Thursday, August 27, 2009 Comments

My kids sure know how to push my buttons. They take this perverse pleasure in testing just how far they can push me before the veins in my neck heave, my nostrils flare and my head spins round on my neck like a top.

This week, I think we hit speed records in this little experiment of theirs. You see, the relative tranquility of the school day only amplified the decibel level upon their respective returns from school. Just as I became acclimated to the calm, I was rudely jolted back into the wonderful of the world of insult hurling, food flinging and tears streaming -- yes, it always seems to end with tears streaming. Or maybe its door slamming, I forget.

But anyway, back to my point. The normal chain of events goes something like this. Kids yelling. Kids rough-housing. Kids breaking objects or each other. More yelling. Repeat.

During this cycle not one dares to heed my futile attempts at keeping the peace.

"Kids, keep it down."
"Don't do that."
"Someone's going to get hurt, you know."

That is until I make the following statement...usually in an extremely forced, carefully measured tone. "If you keep this up, Mom's gonna blow."

That's when they realize the lady means business. Maybe its the calm in my voice, the strength of my convictions, or maybe its the fact they've all seen me blow like a volcano and it ain't pretty. I like to think of it as Mauna Loa. You know the one. Mighty and fierce, the majestic crater need only send a hint of black smoke into the air, thus sending everyone shaking in fear. Hey, a woman can dream, can't she?

Well so went our week. Except for the fact that more than once I screamed the above statement at the top of my lungs. So much for cool and collected. Seems my top had already popped by the time the words left my lips.

When it happened yesterday, my oldest son started running around the house, hands waving in the air, "Duck and cover, mom's gonna blow. Duck and cover, she's gonna blow." Did I mention he was laughing hysterically?

Soon his sisters joined in, along with the toddler, the dogs and the cat (held against her will by the toddler). All forming a conga line from hell, now adding leg and arm movements as they wound around the house. Thankfully, the procession finally ended at the dining room table, where they curled up underneath, feigning fright and laughing uncontrollably.

It was at this very moment I realized I have lost all semblance of order and authority. Sad as it is to say, I am Momma Loa no more.

Wendy Gets a Promotion

Posted by Accidental Expert Sunday, August 23, 2009 2 comments

Our Little Stinker's new favorite show is Bob the Builder. He goes around singing the songs, knows who's who, and can recite the most minute detail of every episode with amazing accuracy.

Although this may border on the obsessive, I'm basically OK with his love of all things home improvement related. What I can't deal with are the questions.

"What does Scoop do?"

"Why does Dizzy spin around?"

"Where does Lofty take all the wood?"

Don't be fooled. These are not the innocent questions of an adorable toddler. They're part of a test -- and woe to the person who answers incorrectly. For any Monty Python fans out there, the moment you are presented with one of his queries you get the eerie feeling you've just been asked what you favorite color might be. Its gotten so bad that I've been known to bolt from the room when the little guy gears up for another round.

"Mommy, who helped Dizzy fix the road"

"Was it Bob?"

"NO Mommy!"



Finally, admitting defeat, I whimper, "I don't know bud."

"YES YOU DO. Tell me now!"

Inevitably, I just hang my head, too exhausted to go on. And that's when the Little Stinker swoops in for the kill.

"Mommy, what does Wendy do for Bob?"

Now if you've ever watched Bob and Wendy in action, you might have gotten the feeling that they're more than co-workers, so to speak. I've always thought there's probably a little something something going on behind the scenes. And I have a sneaking suspicion my youngest has figured this out on some level as well.

"Wendy works for Bob, right?"

"No Mommy, what does she do for him?"

"She helps him build things?"

"No Mommy. What does Wendy DO for Bob?"

Now I'm on the edge. I then suffer a momentary lapse of judgement brought on by mounting frustration. And before I can take the words back, I hear myself yell "Listen, kiddo, I'm not sure, but whatever it is, I'm sure she's getting a promotion!"

Welcome to my world of bad parenting moments. I guess its time for me to brush up on my home improvement episodes.

'Twas the Day that School Started...

Posted by Accidental Expert Wednesday, August 19, 2009 3 comments

Twas the day that school started, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
My gym clothes were placed by the door with care,
In hopes that some free time would soon be there;
The children all nestled in classes where they read,
While visions of peacefulness danced in my head;
And me in my sweats, ready for a lap,
Had first settled down for an overdue nap,
When out from the house there arose no clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away down the stairs I flew like a flash,
I tripped on the cat, and stepped on the trash.

The sun shedding light on the orderly show,
Gave the lustre of midday to the neat scene below:
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But the kitchen still clean, and a floor that was clear,
No toys on the counters, no arguments to fix,
I knew in a moment something must be amiss;
Then quickly I remembered, and smiling went to work,
And mastered the laundry; fixed every little quirk,
And putting make up on, sporting a pose,
I gave a quick nod, sad the day would soon close;
I got off my feet, to my dog gave a whistle,
And away the hours flew like the down of a thistle.
As I leave you today, there’s just one thing to say,


What Was I Thinking?

Posted by Accidental Expert Tuesday, August 18, 2009 Comments

It seems a few of you are curious as to how I ended up with four children at four different schools. Funny I keep asking myself the same question -- over and over and over again. What was I thinking?

I wasn't. This was not the grand plan I had in mind. Not even close. Just last year I had it all. My three older kids went to our neighborhood K-8 school (School #1). They even took the bus, so I didn't have to worry about that. There was just one slight problem. We loved the convenience, but we hated the school. So early last year we began our quest for a better option.

After many, many open houses, we decided on a charter school (School #2). Unfortunately we weren't the only family smitten with this particular institution, making it EXTREMELY hard to get into. Feeling lucky (this coming from the person who has never won a single thing in her life!), I took a chance and tried to enroll my kids anyway.

As it turned out, the twins got in, but my oldest daughter did not. However, she was 11th on the waiting list, so I still held out hope. Silly me. Here we are, on the second day of school and I'm still waiting. Hence, she remains at School #1.

In the meantime, another little issue cropped up. School #2 literally panicked when they found out my son, who has some special needs, was on an IEP. I don't know how it is in your neck of the woods, but here charter schools can deny entry if they feel they can't meet a child's needs. As for the schools in our district who said they could -- well, lets just say I'd rather stick needles in my eyes than place my child at one of them.

Luckily we found another charter school, this one specially geared towards kids who "learn differently." Its a great model and perfect for my Pond Boy, and that's how we ended up with School #3.

As for the Little Stinker, he's in preschool (School #4) and will be going to a program at a local church three times a week. I guess I could have kept him at home another year, but considering my youngest doesn't have any playmates under the age of 10 and currently roars at people he wants to meet, we figured the socialization would do him good.

So that's the long and short of how I got myself into this mess. If you were a compassionate bunch, you would just shoot me now and put me out of my misery. But since I don't think that will happen, I guess I'd better buck up, fill up and get driving.

The New School Year is Here!
The New School Year is Here!

Posted by Accidental Expert Sunday, August 16, 2009 2 comments

Did I mention I'm a bit excited? The moment I have been waiting for all summer is finally upon us and guess what? Its totally anticlimactic.

It could be the hundreds of dollars I just forked over for supplies, fees, planners, lunch boxes and backpacks. Or maybe my zeal took a hit when I saw how big a dent those new back-to-school clothes put in our checking account. Anyway, the event that basically gave me a glimmer of hope as I muddled my way through summer with four kids in tow, is now leaving me in a slightly sour mood.

I guess the grass is always greener, right? But from where I sit now, it just looks like I've exchanged one over-committed experience for another. While I dreamed of days free of distractions, time to catch up and, yes, getting my nails done, I'm now facing carpools from hell, endless school fundraisers and the dreaded after school shuffle.

At this particular moment you may be asking yourself, "It can't be that bad?" Well....my situation is a little different from most. You see, in all my infinite wisdom, I enrolled my four children in four different schools. How stupid is that? Its a long story, so we'll leave it for another post all together. But in the meantime, I'm left with four start times, four calendars and four sets of volunteer duties. This doesn't even include the logistics of getting my brood to and from four locations (on opposite ends of the universe, mind you) each day.

I'm just hoping the little cherubs are worth it, because right now I'm tempted to send them all off to military school. And tonight, as we pack our backpacks, make our lunches and ready ourselves for the grind, I find myself secretly pining away for those lazy days of summer.

Zen and the Art of Motherhood

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