Valentine’s Day is for Lovers

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to offer up the dating advice of my six-year-old. You are welcome.

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This may not be widely known, but there are four steps to falling in love.

Step 1:

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First pick someone you like.

Step 2:

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Next talk to them.

Step 3:

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Then get in touch with them.

Step 4:

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Last you got yourself a boyfriend.

Kate’s four-step process is simple to follow, although it may bring to mind a few questions. Like, why does the girl in this instructional have such a giant rack? (I don’t know. Kate likes boobs?) What are they talking about in each step? (Imaginary friends/animals. Naturally.) In step three, how are they getting in touch? (Texting with their iWatches. Again, naturally.) So what are you waiting for? With Kate’s four easy steps to falling in love and getting yourself a boyfriend, you won’t be spending this Valentine’s Day alone.

YOU ARE WELCOME.

 

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Throwback Thursday: It’s a Kate, Kate World: Second Edition

Happy Throwback Thursday friends! Todays #tbt is from October 2012 when Kate was a wee three year old. Y’all, I love reading these because it reminds me that Beckett isn’t some crazy alien threenager from Mars. No, he is just regular old three. Kate was there once. And for Beckett, this too will pass.

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When you have a three-year-old, it is nearly guaranteed that whatever comes out of their mouth will make you swoon, sigh, swear or cringe. With Kate, sometimes I do all four. At the same time. Here is a little second edition of things my daughter has said recently that makes me realize, once again, it’s a Kate, Kate world — we are all just living in it.

 
Kate (shouting from somewhere in the house): MOM!
Me: Yes honey?
Kate: I love you!!
Me: Aww. I love you too sweetie. Where are you?
*silence*

Kate: Going potty.
*silence*
 
Me: Hm. I guess we all think about different things in there…
—-
Me: Hey sweetie, you got an invitation to a classmate’s birthday party! Is Benjamin nice, do you play with him?
Kate: Ew, no! Benjamin is a boy. WE don’t like boys.
Me: Who, may I ask, is WE?
Kate: You know. Us.
*head slap*
 
Me: So, all the girls in your class have decided you don’t like boys?
Kate: Right.
Me: What about your brother? Don’t you like him? HE is a boy.
Kate: I like Beckett. I like one boy.
Me: What about Daddy? Do you like him? HE is a boy.
Kate (sounding exasperated): I like Daddy. I like TWO boys.
Me: What about Pops? Do you like him? HE is a boy.
 
*silence*
Me: Kate?
Kate: *SIGH* WHAT?
Me: *SIGH* Nevermind
—–
Kate: Look! Look Mom, I did it! I wrote my name!
*showing me some scribbles on a piece of paper at the sign-in counter at the gym*
Me: Very nice Kate.
Kate: You know Mom, I don’t know about about it, but I’m pretty sure I’m terrific at writing.
—–
As I pick Kate up from school:
Me: Here Kate, I brought you strawberries.
Kate: STRAWBERRIES?!?!?! MOM, you are the BEST MOM!!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!
Me: Soooo. Strawberries every day after school?
Kate: Or you could bring chocolate milk. That would be pretty cool too Mom.
—–

Kate walks into the kitchen with a dinosaur stuffed up her shirt.
Kate: “Daddy, do you like boobies?”
 
*Ben studiously ignores her while looking in the fridge*
 
Kate: Daddy? Do you like my BIG BOOBIES??
*Ben still looking in fridge and refusing to make eye contact with the three-year-old who is making him EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE*
 
Kate (parading around the kitchen): Daaaaaaaaaaddddddddyyyyyy.
Ben: KATE. Those are not boobies. That is a dinosaur. Take it out of your shirt.
Kate (pouting): When I grow up, I’m going to have boobies.
 
*awkward silence*
 
Kate: BIG boobies.
 
*Kate stomps out of kitchen. Ben rolls into the fetal position on the floor. I laugh so hard I nearly pee myself*

Good parenting

Man y’all. Parenting is hard. And I was having one of those days. You know, the days where you question if you are doing right by your kids. If your best is enough. And you fret and worry and spend hours with an aching heart because you just want to know that you are raising your kids right, that they are happy and healthy and going to grow up to be awesome, productive adults and not jerk faces.

And then your kid’s Daisy troop leader sends you a picture she took at the last meeting and you are all…

Parenting. Nailed it.

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This is Kate using oranges to give herself boobies. Clearly she is pleased with herself. Thanks to Tracy Lyle for the photo. And for confirming that I’m killing it in the parenting department.

The goose

Yesterday, when I picked Kate up from school, a group of kids were playing Duck, Duck, Goose outside. Kate ran over and jumped in the circle, as did a few other children. She sat perfectly still. Legs crossed. Small smile on her face. I wasn’t close enough to tell, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if she was holding her breath. I could read it all over her. Her eagerness. Everything about her said, “Pick me, pick me!” 

Several rounds passed and the children who started the game picked the kids they knew and were friends with to be the “GOOSE.” I saw Kate’s smile fading but she continued to sit perfectly still. Not really making eye contact with anyone. Just waiting. HOPING.

A few rounds after that, I saw some of the kids in the circle getting impatient. One raised his hand, “PICK ME!!” and of course, that time he was picked. A few other children who hadn’t had turns did the same. And they got their turns. But Kate continued to sit perfectly still. Only her face had changed. It had no joy. She was the only kid who had not been picked.

My heart ached for her. I wanted to scream, “SOMEONE JUST PICK HER!” I wanted to march over there and tell the other kids to give everyone a turn. I wanted HER to be brave and tell someone to “PICK ME” like the other children who weren’t being chosen. But she just sat there silently. And so did I.

Parents were ready to leave, and the game disbanded. But Kate didn’t move a muscle. There was no one left in the circle. And yet she just sat there. It was like she couldn’t believe she hadn’t gotten a turn. That surely, if she just stuck it out a little more, she would be given a chance. I finally walked over and crouched down next to her.

“It’s time to go home Katie.”

“Okay.”

“Kate, are you okay? Are your feelings hurt?”

“Yes. No one picked me. Why wouldn’t anyone pick me?”

“Well, honey, a lot of times people will pick their friends, so the same people get picked all the time. But you don’t have to be afraid to ask for something that you want. If you want a turn, you raise your hand and say that. You just say, “PICK ME!” and maybe it will happen.”

“Okay.”

“I’m sorry your feelings were hurt Kate. I love you.”

“I love you too Mommy. Let’s go.”

I still have that image in my mind. The one of her sitting. No one left in the circle. No joy on her face. She has probably forgotten it by now. To be honest, she probably forgot the sting of not being chosen about five minutes after we left the playground. But it has stuck in my mind.

It is stuck because it is a reminder of what is to come. Of hurt feelings and bruised egos and tears and sadness. Those things that we, as parents, pray our children won’t have to suffer, but really are simply a part of growing up.

I wanted to say something during the game. I wanted to intervene for Kate. Save her that tiny bit of pain. But I just watched. And waited. Because I’m not going to be there on the playground with her all the time. I’m not going to be able to make kids pick her, or play with her or be nice to her. I’m going to have to give her the tools to stand up for herself. To ask for what she wants. To treat others the way she wants to be treated. To be fair, and loving, and compassionate.

I knew parenting was hard. But I didn’t really realize how much it was going to hurt, too.

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That thin, thin line

Lately I’m walking a pretty thin line between keeping it all together, and completely, totally, losing my shit. It’s pretty super.

Just ask my kids.

While they are (mostly) innocent bystanders, my poor children are usually the tipping point that takes me from a stressed out, slightly depressed momma to a raging maniac. You know what I DON’T need when I’m deep in thoughts of how to describe illness and loss to your sister? I don’t need you TO BE A TWO YEAR OLD. That’s right. You heard me. STOP THAT RIGHT THERE. The stomping and arguing and yelling and learning to be INDEPENDENT. I don’t NEED THAT RIGHT NOW. I need you to be sweet and pliable and still prefer snuggles to running into the street pell mell, like you have a teeny tiny death wish. THAT CAR ISN’T SCARED OF YOU. You are not actually a T-Rex. You also can’t wear underpants if you are going to poop in them constantly. Oh, and P.S., we AREN’T out of juice, I was just tired of arguing with you about it SO I LIED.

A few weeks ago when I was knee deep in self-pity and worry, I was in the office writing and researching some fun old CANCER stuff when B wandered in. He had been watching a show with Kate, but since he has the attention span of a gnat, he decided to come and see what I was up to. I was up to CODE RED emotional state, nearing tears or a nervous breakdown. When I didn’t pay him enough attention, B sidled up next to me in a quick snuggle fake-out and then with a mighty ‘WHACK!’ he slammed his hand down on the computer, effectively erasing everything I had just written. I let out a mighty sound. I’m not sure what exactly how to put this sound in words. Part primal shriek, part groan, part exasperation and part anger. I put my head on the desk in my hands and squeezed my eyes shut and pretty much started to hyperventilate.

Beckett of course hit the ground sobbing. I was too wrapped up in my own emotions to comfort him. Because, you know, thin line. I kept my head down on the desk and tried to keep from lashing out, because I knew it wasn’t really what B did that I was angry about. Without lifting my head I told him, very sternly, “You need to leave. Now.” He literally crawled out of the room and I couldn’t raise up out of my emotions enough to care.

Not my finest moment.

My head was still on the desk when I heard some shuffling at the office door. I raised my head, ready to let loose with my anger. Make myself somehow feel better by making him, a poor, tiny toddler, feel worse. I just had so much inside me and he was the tipping point.

But when I looked up, it was Kate in the door. With a slightly terrified expression on her face. The look on her face struck me, and I lost my anger immediately. It drained away as quickly as it had come and all that was left was sadness, shame and that hollow feeling that sits in your stomach when you know you’ve done something you can’t take back.

Kate stared at me for a second and then said to me, “Um, Mom? I don’t like it when you scream at me, and I don’t think you should scream at Beckett either. I tried to wipe all his tears and snot off, and I got him to stop crying. You should probably say sorry.”

Wow. My first thought was to quibble a bit, because her words put me in such an ugly light. I mean, I didn’t SCREAM per say. I mean, lets call a spade a spade. It was more a reaction than a scream. I mean, sometimes I YELL. Maybe that was a YELL?

No. Lets call a spade a spade. I screamed. I took my anger, fear and sadness and balled it up into a tight wad of emotion and threw it at my two-year old. And it hurt him. As much as if it were a physical thing. And my daughter. My little warrior. She cared for him. She helped him. And then SHE CAME TO ME and stood up for her brother. Even though she was afraid I was going to… SCREAM… at her next.

Oh my heart.

A friend of mine who has been faced with an unexpected and terrible loss recently, wrote to me with these wise words. “What I have learned (the hard way this last year) is the constant challenge of trying to be present and emotionally available when you are so emotionally raw and stripped. It’s such a backwards situation. How is any human supposed to deal with very real adult emotionally heavy and suffocating concerns and still have the emotional fortitude to crawl on the floor with your littles, parent with patience and not be a blubbering mess.”

I could not have put it into better words. What it feels like to have such a heavy weight of pain and sadness within while you try to parent. Her advice to handling this was to be honest. Instead of trying to hold it all in where the only option is to lash out when it all becomes to much, she let her children see her heart. Her hurt. Her sadness. And it seems to me, that has to be the way. Because I would rather my children grow up knowing and understanding emotions and how to deal with them in a healthy manner, than seeing mommy fall off that thin line, causing damage to their little hearts and sweet souls in the process.

How blessed I am to have such wise friends. Now if I can just be a little more like them. I think we might just all make it through.

The long game

A week and a half into our school year and Kate is already pulling the, “I don’t want to go,” card. She seems to truly enjoy school now (thank you GOD), so I’m chalking it up to her not being a morning person. Like, at all. She takes a lot of time to get revved up. Usually a show or two, some milk, some cuddling with the dog, some books, maybe half a frozen waffle, a glass of water, a trip to the play room for some mindless entertainment and then a trip to the bathroom. And then, AND ONLY THEN, am I aloud to suggest, ever so sweetly, that it is time to get dressed for the day. If we are in a hurry, and she is not allowed to warm up in her very own way, be prepared for some hysterics. I could tell her we have to hustle because we are going to go to Disney World and MICKEY HIMSELF with all his angels princesses were coming over to the house to fly us there personally with MAGIC FREAKING PIXIE DUST and she would throw herself on the ground and scream, “BUT I HAVEN’T WATCHED WILD KRATTS YET!!!”

So THAT is what I’m working with. So far this year she has been pretty okay with the whole process of getting out the door, which I attribute to the newness of school. But apparently that wore off this morning.

When I told Kate to get dressed, she told me no. That she didn’t want to. That she hadn’t played yet. So I informed her that it was a school day, and that she had to get dressed and she would play at school. That’s when she brought out the BIG GUNS.

“I don’t want to go to school.”

“Why?”

“I just don’t.”

“Is something wrong?”

“No. I just don’t…. (searching for a reason…) I just don’t like that I have to lay down there.”

“Well, you have to do quiet time here, so just think of it as your quiet time there. I can talk to your teachers and see if you can read a book or something instead.”

“NO.”

“Kate, you have to go to school, so if you have a problem we should talk to your teachers.”

“MOM NO, Don’t talk to my teachers. I just don’t want to go.”

At this point, I am lost. I mean, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want me talking to her teachers because she doesn’t really have a problem with school, but for the life of me I’m not sure what to say next. Do I threaten? Force? Stuff her, leg by skinny little defiant leg into her clothes and strap her in the car? Do I bribe? Plead? Frankly, I haven’t had enough coffee for this. Ben overhears and comes in and picks up his little girl and sits on the bed. They put their heads together and start having a quiet little conversation and I throw my hands up and walk into the kitchen to feed the child that is currently NOT testing my patience today.

Not three minutes later, Kate comes, skipping out of the bedroom fully dressed and ready to eat breakfast. I stare, in pure wide-eyed amazement at my husband. He smiles and I mouth, “WHAT DID YOU SAY TO HER?!” He shrugs the modest shrug of a man who knows he has done something truly amazing but doesn’t want to let on that HE thinks he just performed a miracle. I make a mental note to buy him a beer and give him a good smooch the next chance I get.

We finish getting ready for school and get loaded up in the car and start down the road. It is quiet for a bit and then Kate says,

“Mom. Do you know what Daddy told me?”

“No, what?”

“He said that if I go to school every day, and then go to school every year, that someday I will get to go away to college. And then, after I go to college, I can have my own house. And when I have my own house, I can FINALLY get my kitten or a puppy.”

A lightbulb went off. Genius. My husband is a PARENTING GENIUS. He used bribery, but in the best possible way. He played the long game. He took preschool and packaged it with a lifetime of education and topped it off with the one thing she DESPERATELY wants but can NEVER have, as long as she lives under the same roof as my highly-allergic husband. A cat. He bribed her with the hope of a CAT in TWENTY YEARS. The man should belong to MENSA.

“But, I’m really going to miss you when I go away to college Mom.”

Ah. There it is. Out of the mouth of babes, a gentle reminder that I don’t have forever. While I struggle to make it through the here and now, sometimes I need to think like Ben, and focus on the long game. And try to find joy in every difficult, head strong moment as it happens.

Now you’ll have to excuse me. I’m going to buy my man a beer.

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Just when it can’t get worse, it gets better

Happy Throwback Thursday Friday friends! This week had been a whirlwind full of new schools, angst, bodily fluids and a little mania, so we got slightly off course. However, I have a #tbt that fits perfectly with my week, a gem from back in 2011 when Kate was potty training. Reading it made me feel slightly better about life, because whatever was happening in 2011,  Kate NEVER poops her pants now (uh, obviously). So even though sometimes it feels like I will be throwing away soiled underpants for a lifetime (seriously Beckett? At Chic-Fil-A?!?!?) let this serve as a reminder… THERE IS AN END. POTTY TRAINING DOESN’T LAST FOREVER. Enjoy, and happy Thursday Friday!

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Yesterday I was having a rough day. Not only was I coming down with a cold, but I had no energy and no patience. After ten plus days of 100+ degree weather, I was toast. All I wanted to do was lay in bed with the a/c turned down to “FREEZING”, while reading some senseless romance novel and rubbing lotion on my ever-expanding belly. Instead, I found myself rolling around on the floor of our play room, reading a book about Elmo’s first day of school for the 500th time and playing dolls while my two-year old literally used my aching, 35-week pregnant body as a jungle gym/barca lounger.I finally needed a break and hauled myself into Kate’s mini-chair (which I barely fit into). She followed me from across the room and handed me one of her dolls. “Say HI” she demanded for the millionth time. I burst into tears, tossed her doll across the room and sobbed “I don’t WANT to say “hi” Kate. Please, please for the sake of mommy’s sanity, please PLEASE play BY YOURSELF for just one tiny moment.”

Kate looked at me with VERY little pity for a moment, then wandered across the room to find where I had thrown her doll while I continued to boo-hoo. And in a case of perfect timing, Ben came home while I was still pulling myself together, so he got the full tattle-tale report from Kate who indignantly told him I threw her doll and cried. I gave her the stink eye, but apparently she is impervious to its power because I swear she just smirked at me over her dad’s shoulder and repeated “and then SHE CRIED daddy!”

Ben decided I needed to get out of the house so we packed up and headed to the mall to run some errands. He promised to be in charge of Kate and let me just wander around, leaking hormones and hopefully de-stressing. We walked into the mall and I mentioned, “By the way, keep an eye out for the closest bathroom everywhere we go. You want to be able to book it if she has to go.”

I don’t know if that comment jinxed my poor husband, or if this was all destiny, but not five minutes after I sat on a bench to do a little zen people watching, I saw Ben RUN out of a toy store with Kate in his arms. He ran down a hallway that I knew to be a dead end and then came running back out with panic on his face. I decided to take pity. “Bathroom?” I called. He nodded and I trailed him shouting directions to the closest toilet. He disappeared in the men’s room as I came huffing around the corner. I sat outside and waited to see if he needed any help.

Five minutes later, I heard Kate giggling and saying “OHHHH BUBBLES.” Another minute or two and Ben popped his head out of the bathroom to ask if we had any extra clothes. I had to tell him no, I had been a little too mental when we left the house to be my normal, prepared self. He popped back into the bathroom and then came out carrying Kate with paper towels wrapped around her bottom.

“Can you tell she is naked under there?” he asked me.

Not to get into too many details, but apparently Kate had some bowel troubles and Ben had to throw away her panties and wash out her pants. Which meant he had to carry her through the mall half-naked. With me trailing them, alternating between laughing out loud and then giggling to myself the whole way. Because, when it happened to me, yeah, it was pretty traumatic. But to see my daughter poop on my husband? That is some funny stuff right there.

We get to the car and use every wipe, sanitizing gel and napkin we can find to ensure both Kate and Ben are squeaky clean. And thanks to an extra set of Kate clothes in the car, we are able to head back into the mall to finish up our errands. The only real issue is the leftover poop stains on my husband’s long-sleeve work shirt. He rinsed and rolled up the sleeve to hide the offensive stain, but wasn’t sure if it was enough.

Ben: “Can you tell I’ve got crap on my sleeve?”

Me: “No, but you are wearing an undershirt, why don’t you just take your button-up off?”

Pause.

Ben: “Gross, no. I’m wearing a V-neck”

Pause.

Me: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA”

Have I mentioned how much I love my husband?