From a recent trip to Chicago...
This was a good day.
A six-year-old should probably be gearing up towards being off the training wheels, but well, let's just say he doesn't get an opportunity to practice often - unless he's with us. So, Joel bought him a brand new bike since his other bike stays at his mom's house. We outfitted him with a helmet, and then we went for a nice long bike ride. I think I counted five crashes, but it was more overconfidence and fast turns rather than balancing on the bike.
His little khaki pants just kill me.
Scene: we're all grooving to Lady Gaga's Bad Romance in the car.
Gaga: "I want your psycho, your vertigo stick..."
Little Guy (LG): "What does psycho mean?"
Me: "It means crazy."
LG: "So she means, "I want your crazy?""
Me: "Um, yes."
LG: "Okay. I will give her my craziness, but I won't give her my madness or sadness. But since she wants my crazy, I will give it to her."
So, hello life! I forget what you are like sometimes in graduate school!
Where did October go, seriously?
I worked hard on my pre-dissertation paper and submitted it to my committee, and prepared for the Halloween party (o! glorious halloween party!).
Then, all of a sudden, November is here. Cold days, warm days, cold days, Florida, grant writing for my dissertation, and then suddenly it is the day before Thanksgiving!
HOW THE HECK DID THIS HAPPEN?
Where does time go? It disappears so quickly!
So, a quote from LG some time ago, just in time for yummy Thanksgiving!
LG: "I want to go to Grandma's house and shoot her. And then have roasted chicken."
Me: "LG! That's kinda mean, don't you think? Also, if you shoot her, how would she cook the roasted chicken?"
LG: "Well, Grandma's going to be the roasted chicken."
I think he may be well on the way to writing scripts like The Shining and The Sixth Sense. Holy cow!
This afternoon we took Little Guy to spend some time at his grandparents' house. Lo and behold, grandma bought LG an adorable pair of...wait, can you handle it?
Wait for it.
Wait for it.
Blue, SpongeBob SquarePants (who lives in a pineapple under the sea) adorned, CROCS.
I'll let you absorb that one for a little while.
I was going to take a picture, but my camera grabbed its little neck and started gasping for air and then flopped over on the couch. Who knew my camera could self-asphyxiate?
post today about her kids ending arguments with, "Well, you're a big, old, fat eyeball!" reminded me about Little Guy's comeback for the past six months.
Upon entering into any exchange with him for the past HALF OF A YEAR we have known that LG's ending statement will be, "On your head!" Except it's more pronounced, like, "On your HEAD
!" As in, conversations will go something like this, "LG, it's time to take a bath." "I'll take a bath...on your HEAD
After saying this, he erupts into fits of giggles despite the fact that no one else is laughing with him.
We just don't get it. I'm not sure what's so funny about it. And sometimes it won't even make as much sense as that. Here are some examples:
"Would you like some water?"
"Yes...on your HEAD
"Come on, let's put some sunscreen on."
"On your HEAD
"And which Transformer is that?"
"The one that is yellow and black and he's a bumblebee and on your HEAD
"Well, it's about 20 more miles, so maybe about another 15 minutes."
"On your HEAD
Actually, just thinking about it makes me realize it is...kinda...funny. Except it's not funny, for example, when the server is standing at your table, the restaurant is busy, and the query for either chicken fingers or a hamburger ends with, "On your HEAD
!" Obviously then the waitstaff just cocks their head, confused, and we have to say, "We don't know either. He'll have the chicken fingers," and a little voice will pipe up, "On your HEAD
Little Guy has been dealing with a traumatic event every day at daycare this summer: naptime. He detests naptime, and apparently hasn't taken naps since he was a year old. So, when the teachers turn out all the lights and have the kids lay down, he is active and ready to go on with his day. He has trouble being still and quiet, and he actively wants to play. Hence, naptime is not a good time for him because the teachers get onto him about keeping the other kids up. This is what makes the following a very funny conversation:
LG: "What are you looking at?"
Joel: "I'm looking at your college savings statement. We're putting away money for you so that you can go to college someday and learn a lot of things."
LG: "What's college?"
Joel: "That's where you go after you are done with regular school so you can become knowledgeable, rich and successful."
LG: "That sounds good, but are there naps in college?"
Joel: "No, there's no naps in college."
LG: "Oh. That's good. Okay, I'll go."
We were all outside yesterday evening in the front yard playing around with the dogs. Cosette was putting up with LG's feeble attempts at retrieving with her. He managed to throw the toy about ten feet, to which she'd gamely go and retrieve and bring it back obediently. At one point she walked up to him, and he noticed her tongue panting fiercely in the warm summer air. He held his hand up to her mouth in front of her tongue, spun around to me and exclaimed excitedly, "Her breath is hot! It's the opposite of air conditioning! It's like hotditioning!"
I laughed, and told him to explain it to his Daddy. Daddy was very confused for a minuted until I pronounced the made-up word for him. LG went on to explain, "It's like you could use it to heat a house up with! Hotditioning!"
Me: "You mean a heater?"
LG, eyes glowing brightly, "Yeah!! Hotditioning!"
“Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
On Friday evening, Joel had Little Guy for the evening so we decided to go to Disney Pixar’s “Up.” The premiere of the movie was so crowded that by the time we arrived and went to find our seats, the only seats for three available were up at the front. Considering we were watching Up in 3D, we didn’t want to sit that close to the screen. I motioned to two seats on a row further back, and one empty seat next to the aisle one row back from the two. Joel escorted five year old LG to the seats, and I took my place on the edge by the aisle. The movie began, and I don’t want to leak any spoilers here, but there are several heart-wrenching moments in the movie. Every adult in the theatre was wiping their eyes, and Joel and I kept turning to look and smile at each other in our goofy 3D glasses. One of the subplot lines in the movie involves a little boy who wishes he could earn one more badge to complete his adventurer training. He hopes that by earning his last badge, he will entice his distant father to be at the award ceremony.
I haven’t given this topic much attention on this site, mainly because it hasn’t needed mention. LG is not my son; he is Joel’s son from a previous marriage. Currently, Joel shares equal custody of LG with his ex-wife, and the past year that has meant he has shared equal time between parents. LG’s primary residence will remain at his mother’s, in accord with the divorce agreement. For the most part, LG has dealt with the separation very well, only experiencing minimal frustration as he adjusts from one lifestyle to the other and has had no problems at school.
This summer is the first summer LG will experience a two week gap in between seeing the other parent; normally his schedule is set up for T/TH and every other weekend with his dad. Now, he will be spending two weeks on and off with us through the summer.
Joel has arranged for LG to visit once a week for an overnight visit, and it has become increasingly difficult as LG struggles with the interruption in routine. It is clear he misses his Dad. Joel is struggling with the knowledge that even this minimal schedule will be broken by this time next year, as he will be graduating out of this doctoral program (at the same time I will) and we plan to move out of the area, though it’s unclear how far away. It’s heartbreaking to watch, as I feel as if I can’t do anything to ease anyone’s pain. I can only stand back and watch as the remnants of what was left of their previous life experience further change. It isn’t always as dramatic as I’m making it sound, as we do become caught up in the everyday hustle, and mostly time flies right on by as if we are only passengers on this train called life.
But sometimes, sometimes that train comes to a halt, and the bare emotions that lay before us take our breath away with the sharpness that accompanies them. I’ve been slow in wanting to gain LG’s true trust and genuine love. He loves me, just like he loves everyone, as he is an equal opportunity lover. He’s the kind of kid that has no qualms about hugging strangers and making sure everyone gets a chance to play. He listens to me and responds to me and we both enjoy the time we have with each other. Occasionally, though, and it seems to be right when we are both first together, we tend annoy the other. I’m pretty sure it’s mainly my issue, as I’ve come to discover that I like daily activities to play out a certain way, and as to roughly quote something I read recently, “There is nothing that prepares you for the whirlwind that is a child.” This interruption in how I’ve planned for things to go (call it a control issue, if you will) is often jarring and sets me on edge. Once I get over that initial adjustment and add in the little whirlwind, I’m much better and I become the loving patient person that I know I am capable of being most of the time. I do have the feeling sometimes of the velveteen rabbit, learning how to become real, how to deal with the real, raw emotions a child is so capable of eliciting. It hurts, sometimes, but I’m coming to learn that I don’t mind being hurt.
After the movie, we continued on to a local pizza joint that we affectionately call “LG’s Garden,” stemming from LG’s explanation to our waitress one evening about what the purpose of the back patio garden was for. “Everyone should come here and write their names on the bricks when they eat here,” he excitedly continued, eyebrows raised, “and that way it can be everyone’s garden!” Ever since, we’ve called it his garden, and it’s a nice place to take a five-year old. They rarely have more than 5 customers at any one time, and so our favorite thing to do is to sit out on the back patio/garden all alone, listening to the music and eating good pizza and pasta. This particular night, it was much more crowded that normal, but we still managed to score a table in the garden patio. We placed our order, and LG became uncharacteristically quiet. He wouldn’t answer any questions and had this very faraway look in his eyes. He then climbed into his Daddy’s lap and snuggled against his neck. Although I couldn’t hear what he was whispering, I knew exactly what he was talking about from the look on Joel’s face. Joel comforted him, and explained that he missed him too, and he was very sorry that he also couldn’t be there all the time, and that he couldn’t move back in, but that LG had two sets of families that loved him very much. LG didn’t move, only stayed pressed against Joel’s chest, his knees digging into Joel’s thighs. His little fingers pulled down on the collar of Joel’s t-shirt and he snuggled in closer. From where I was sitting, the fading light and the soft glow of the little lights in the tree behind them framed them both. The image they were creating was crushing and heartbreaking, and my heart was aching as Joel’s eyes filled with tears. I felt so apart from them at that moment, and decided to let them spend it alone, father and child.
Our waitress arrived with our pizza and pasta, and we all quietly recovered for a few minutes as we started to eat. LG broke the silence by enthusiastically noting, “This is the goodest pizza I have ever had!” and as he looked straight at me and grinned, my little velveteen rabbit heart swelled in my chest and I smiled back at him.
We are lying down, relishing the lazy Sunday morning. LG volunteered to massage my back, so he asks me to lift my tank top up towards my shoulders. He gives a few quick strokes and then starts paddling a plastic sword against my back. He grows bored and holds still. "You're hot," he observes. "I am?"
"Yes," he says, and wiggles out of his shirt off and folds himself against my back. "I like laying against people who are warm." I grin at Joel and say, "Well, me too." He flips over on his back and says, "Now we are laying back to back. I want to lay belly to belly." He lifts his 5-year-old self off of me and tries to move my shoulders. "Turn over! I want to put my belly on yours." I grin but oblige, and flip over onto my back. I pull my tank top up a little so my belly is exposed. He lifts my tank top up higher and tries to lift it off of me. "No, I want to keep my shirt on." He frowns and says, "But I want to lay boobies to boobies."
I start laughing and say, "But you don't have boobies!" He points to his little nipples and says, "I have little ones! But you have big ones." Surprised at his recent fascination with breasts, I try to change the subject and pull my shirt down tight. He instead just lays down on me, resting his belly against my clothed belly and putting his head on my chest. "I like it here," he says, lazily closing his eyes.
I look over at Joel and he mouths, "I like it there, too."