Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bowling night

Wii time is usually monopolized by my seven year old.  He is all about getting to a certain world on Mario, ascending a certain level on Batman, or beating his record score on Scooby Doo.  We were excited to finally take advantage of the rainy weather to play a family Wii game, and we decided on bowling.  
To be fair, we decided to forgo (btw I cannot use this word without thinking of ‘The Bachelor’) individual play for teams.  My husband and I are about the same skill level, and we knew we could carry-or at least even out-the kids scores.  We remind them about good sportsmanship, and tell them that it’s ok if they don’t get a great score every time, that there will be 10 frames, and that each one is like getting a do-over.  We explain that not everyone can be a winner, but the important thing is to have fun.  The kids each give us their token nods of acknowledgement, and we get ready to begin. 
My 4 year old immediately starts crying once she realizes she is my partner, throwing herself to the ground, saying, “Oh NO!  Not MOM! Now I’ll never win”!  I eventually convince her that I am a bowling champion and she’s back on her feet, doing a pre-victory dance: “Oh yeah, Oh yeah, uh-huh, uh-huh-- we are gonna wi-i-i-i-n”.  
My son isn’t buying it:  “Mom stinks.  Dad is the best”.  
The game is on, and it’s my turn first.  My son runs interference, chanting, “BOOOO, mom!  Lose mom! Don’t get a strike mom, don’t get a strike, don’t get a strike...”  I concentrate and go into strategy mode.  I use all the virtual tools at my disposal.  I zoom in to check position.  I click the turn mode to optimal direction. I narrow my eyes and focus on the virtual arrows, aiming just between the center arrow and the arrow to the right of it- and I end up hitting a few pins right down the middle, leaving pins on both sides.  I turn around to see my daughter crossing her arms and smirking at me. 
I hand her the controller and encourage her to get the spare (even though it’s next to impossible).  I cheer, “C’mon , you can do it”!  She tells us all confidently, “Watch....and learn, my friends”.  
She turns toward the game, starts a bizarre sideways approach with her hip jutted out to the side.  With a crooked, drunken stance and an even more crooked elbow, she takes a few steps and whips the controller all crazy-like, with no apparent regard for a specific destination, managing to hit both the couch and the table before her release-- and ends up getting the split, and the spare.  She gives me the ‘that’s how it’s done’ look and proudly reclaims her spot on the couch. 
Now it’s my husband’s turn- my son screams, “Yeah dad!  GO Dad”!!
My daughter joins in, “Go DAD!!! Get a STRIKE, DAD”!!  
I remind my daughter that she is on my team, and she lowers her voice and explains with a concerned tone, “Mom.... I do love you, but I can’t just love you all the time.  I love dad, too.  Dad is fun.  Sometimes you are boring. But some days you are fun.  Some days I love you the best-but today-I just have to love dad better”.
My husband takes his turn, and, like me, tries to use the advantage of technology to optimize his chances.  His ball ends up spinning sharply to the right and he hits 2 pins.  My daughter quickly changes her tune. Clinching her fist and thrusting her elbow toward the floor, she yells,  “YESSSS!  Mom is THE BEST”!  My son takes his turn and effortlessly gets the spare. 
The rest of the game continues like this, with the kids having to clean up the pins after their parents’ pathetic first attempts.  At one point my son says, “Dad, you are terrible.  Just give me the remote and I’ll get us the strikes”.  My daughter gets bored and eventually takes her turn by half-heartedly giving the remote a little push while simultaneously working on a princess drawing (and clears almost all of the pins).
My son eventually checks out of the game as well.  He starts to build a tunnel using a gymnastics mat and pillows, and decides he can just take his turn from there.  From across the room, he haphazardly sticks his hand holding the controller up out of the pillows, gives it a random flip, and ends up with a strike.  “BOO-yah!  In your FACE”, he yells, at no one in particular--from underneath the tunnel.
On my final turn, I decide to change up my game, putting the kids’ proven “technique” into practice.  Without glancing at the screen, I quickly and randomly give the controller a quick flip--and end up with a gutter ball.  
My son yells out from his newly built Lego town in the hallway, “MOM! Come ON!  Are you even taking this seriously” ?!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Inside Story

This morning I was complaining a bit about having to take the kids to school during a thunderstorm, and my husband- who was scrambling to get ready for a business meeting- was also not thrilled about driving to work in the storm.  He half-jokingly muttered, "yeah, well try my life".

My son chimed in, saying, "Yeah mom, dad's life is WAY harder than yours".  He continued, "His life is so hard.  If you got inside him-- if you knew his inside story-- it would totally beat yours.  You would not want to be him." He paused for a moment, pointed to my husband, and added, "There is a LOT of quicksand in there".

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

1st grade crush

My 7 year old told me about a “totally embarrassing” situation at school where his classmate was teasing him, and telling everyone that he was “in love” with a girl in their class.  He sighed, put his head in his hands, shook it back and forth and said, “and you know what mom?  I am.  I am in love with her”.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Nature Calls

Our family spent the week in Vermont.  Although we were there for a sad occasion (a memorial service for my husband’s grandmother), it was wonderful to see family from around the country and catch up with their lives. The youngest generation of cousins had a blast playing together, and even the weather cooperated (which can be touch and go in Vermont this time of year).

The memorial service took place where my husband’s grandmother had raised her family, up in the picturesque Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.  It is a long drive back to the Burlington area where we were staying at my in-laws home.  About halfway into the trip, my son needed to use the bathroom. Given there weren’t many options, we pulled over to the side of a field.  My daughter was quite impressed with my son’s ability to be able to go wherever, but she announced that she would much rather wait for a bathroom “that has a door for pwivacy”.   My husband, recalling his Native American ancestry, said to her, “Oh, if you were a true little Indian princess living back in the day, you wouldn't worry about that.  You could just go right there in the grass”.  My daughter laughed and told him he was being "silly". 

After a few more miles of driving, my daughter fell asleep.  About fifteen miles from her grandma and grandpa’s (Papa and Dee-Dee) house, she woke up, yelling,  “I have to go potty! Now. Right. NOW”!  My husband and I told her we would pull over as soon as possible, and I nervously scanned both sides of the road for any sign of a place with a restroom.  She was screaming "Hurry UP!  I am going to pee my pants!  I-need-to-go-to-the-POTTY"!  I reassured her that we were looking and tried distracting her with the various interesting scenery and animals we passed.  She quieted down, and by the time we were approaching a gas station, she had fallen back asleep.  We were about 10 miles from home, and since the place was pretty questionable regarding cleanliness, we decided not to wake her and continued the trip home.

We were a couple of minutes from the house when she awoke again, screaming desperately to use the bathroom.  "WHAT is the MATTER with you!  I said have to use the POTTY! Do you want me to pee my pants"?  My husband sped up while I encouraged her to wait, giving her minute-by-minute updates, “only a couple more minutes”--which turned to seconds-- "Count with me, 10......9.......8.....7....." which only seemed to make her more and more miserable.  We finally pulled into the driveway, and I jumped out of the car, hurried to open her door, and she tumbled out in complete hysterics.

 I went to grab her hand and she started kicking me away, trying to climb back in the car, saying, “No! NO!  I didn't want to potty here! I don’t want to pee at Dee-Dee’s house!  NOOOOOOOO!  I want to go in the GWASS!  In the gwass!  Not in the toiwet!  I-want-to-pee-in-the- GWAAAAAAASSSSSS”!  She collapsed on the front lawn, kicking her little legs and pounding her fists into the ground.  After several minutes of struggle, I managed to get her into the house, but when she saw the nice, modern, clean bathroom awaiting her, she burst into tears again.  “I want to be an Indian pwincess and pee on the gwaaaaassssssssssssssss”....... it was then I noticed a note on the table from my husband’s parents saying they went for some groceries and would be back later. 

I looked at my husband, then back at my inconsolable daughter.  I shrugged my shoulders and said, “hurry up and take her in the backyard”.  She looked up at me, immediately stopped crying, smiled, and proudly walked with her dad to pee in the grass.  She strode to the middle of the lawn, squatted low and made a valiant effort--but try as she might-- no luck.  She looked up at my husband and choked out the words, “I-- I just can’t do it”.  She slowly and somberly walked past me, defeated.  She dragged her feet to the bathroom and slammed the door. 

Heartbroken, she later told me, “mom, it is not easy to pee in the gwass.  Boys are lucky.  That is not fair.”  

So true. 

We are making a drive from Illinois to Vermont in July.  I just hope there will be enough places to pee in the grass along the way.