Sunday, August 25, 2013

Brotherly Love

I have so many stories in my head that I want to post.  There are so many updates on Asher that I want to share.  My goal is to blog at least once a week this fall.  Again, not just for my 4 readers, but for my own memory-keeping.  But there is one story that cannot wait.

For a vast majority of our current life as a family, Asher's attachment-related issues are very minor.  Most of his issues are "2 year old boy" related, ifyaknowwhatimean.  Peeing in inappropriate places, grabbing toys from his sister, spitting bath water all over the floor when mom goes to answer the phone...typical stuff.  However, every once in a while, we notice a regression of sorts concerning his anxiety of his loved ones being out of his sight.  Sometimes transitions are rough.  Saying goodbye to mommy still usually involved tears.  But, you know, Mommy is awesome, so I think someone should still cry over my absence.

Last month Trent and Carson went to a father/son overnight birthday party campout.  I told Asher they were gone for the night, but he must not have completely understood, because when he woke up in the morning and they weren't there, he was very upset.  He cried a lot, was extra naughty, and when he was reprimanded he cried harder.  He was clearly...unsettled.  I thought all was well when Carson and Daddy came back, but for the last few weeks, Asher has been VERY attached to Carson.  He is concerned at all times where Carson is, and if he is gone: how soon will he come back.

When he is going to sleep lately, Asher will often being sobbing, calling out for his brother, sometimes saying "Carcar no bye-bye!"  (He calls his bro Carcar.)  Fortunately, it's been summer, and big brother IS home.  When that happens, I call Carson in to the dark bedroom, and he sticks his almost-8-year-old hand through the slats in the crib and rubs his almost-3 year-old little brother's arm and speaks really soft, sweet words to him.  These words and this tone are not often heard from my loud, smart-alecky big boy.   I tell you what, it is enough to break this mama's heart in two.  There is an incredible bond between these two boys.  They look absolutely nothing alike, separated by five years and one day.  But they are true blue brothers.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mental Picture

At some point before my wedding, someone advised me to stop a few times and just...REMEMBER.  In essence, the suggestion was to take a mental picture of it all, to have a few moments that stand out from the rest that will surely be a blur.  (The phrase "mental picture" also reminds me of a hilarious FRIENDS episode with Alec Baldwin, and you can see a clip of that HERE. )  It sounds cheesy as heck, but I tell you what: it worked!  More than 12 years later, I still have three that stand out.  One was when my sweet mother blew off her plans to shuttle my bridesmaids and I to all get pedicures together the day before the wedding; one was when my dad and I stood in the lobby, looking at our bridal party getting ready to walk into the sanctuary; the third was when Trent and I were in the hallway outside our wedding reception, just looking at this handsome kid, knowing he was mine and we were about to walk in, be announced as husband and wife and dance the night away.

In fact, about three years ago, I blogged about a mental picture moment I had with my older two kiddos.  If you read it, I predict you will blow air our of your nose.

This last weekend, we had a moment.  I took a mental picture.  I'm pretty confident it's a "you had to be there" kind of story, and you will not appreciate it like I do, but I've learned that my blog is my best record-keeper, so I must put it in writing.

We were on our way back from a fun weekend visiting friends and going to the wildlife safari, and we stopped to eat at BJ's Pizza, which is my all-time favorite, so I was already in my happy place.  The kids had napped for at least an hour in the car, so they were in fairly good moods while we waited for our food.  Carson and I were thumb wrestling, and Asher wanted to try it.  At first he was just holding my hand and smiling, because he didn't understand.  So, I re-positioned our hands to the proper game stance, and told him he should smoosh my thumb down.  This kid is a BRUISER in all areas of life, and we are constantly telling him to be gentle, calm down, be gentle, gentle touch, be gentle with your whole body, slow down, BE GENTLE, etc.  This is the only time I can remember us giving him permission to "smoosh" anything, and sure enough, he immediately had my hand in a death grip.  Not only that, but he instantly slapped his other hand onto my thumb and hopped up onto his feet in the booth to give himself leverage to SMOOSH my thumb down with as much force as his body could offer.  All the while, his whole face was in an intense grimace and his body was shaking with the pressure being exerted onto my thumb.  Which, by the way, wasn't going anywhere.

The immediacy and intensity of his game play surprised and tickled us all, but mostly Carson, who was between Asher and me.  He fell into a fit of hysteria, literally rolling around in the circular booth.  He could NOT catch his breath!  Nothing makes Trent laugh harder than seeing Carson laugh hard, so soon Trent was having a hard time breathing because HE was laughing so hard.  His tell is that he hunches forward, his face turns red and he doesn't make a sound, until a high-pitched girly laugh sneaks out.  Of course being surrounded by this, Sydney and I were swept away ourselves, and soon our entire table was shaking, mostly from the laughter, but also from Asher who was STILL SMOOSHING MY THUMB!

People around us started looking over, wondering what the heck was going on, which almost made it funnier.  We're causing a scene! But we can't stop!  Of course it was the best kind of scene and no one seemed irritated.  It took us quite a while to calm Carson down and to get Asher off of my thumb.  But as I was trying not to pee my pants from this laugh-fest, you know what I did?  I took a mental picture.  I want to remember that thumb wrestling match in that booth at BJ's pizza for the rest of my life.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Re-post: Say what?!

I've fallen so far off the blogging wagon, you'd think I was giving up.  BUT I'M NOT!  This summer has just been uber-busy, and I had the opportunity to teach a class last week, and all my creative juices were flowing into preparing that lesson, not here.  Sidenote: the uber-busy summer was intentional.  Last summer, we were "cocooning" with Asher, purposely had no plans, made the choice to stay at home all the time and learn to be a new family of five, and I ALMOST LOST MY EVER-LOVING MIND.   (I hinted as much in THIS POST last fall.) This summer has been much better for many reasons, and I WILL write about that soon.

But today I have a fun cheating shortcut to writing.  I want to repost my own writing from a few years ago.  I found it because I was catching up a bit on THIS:
It's a brilliant gift that my friend Kristen gave me last year when Asher came home.  It's perfect for me because I love telling people and remembering how funny my kids are.  Like anything that requires work, time and memory, I don't keep us as much as I'd like, but it turns out blogs and f@cebook are great record keepers!  So last night I carved out 30 minutes and was looking back over social media to write down funny quotes, and I came across this old blog post.  It's from October of 2011, so almost 2 years old, but could have been written today, b/c we still have these thoughts and discussions. I was cracking myself up, and my son, as usual, was also cracking me up.  Enjoy:

I've always had a sarcastic reflex.  It's like a gag-reflex--it's taken years for me to realize that I do actually have some control over it, but still, it's a natural instinct.  In truth, I don't remember even realizing it might not be a barrel of laughs to everyone around me until my new husband (of about 6 months) was not laughing after I mocked him with some witty jab.  It could have been any number of times I told him that his stories of physical therapy class were "simply riveting!  Tell me more about the muscles of the lower leg, Dearest!"  Or the time I excitedly told him about this new invention called running water, and that he should see if it works to rinse off his dishes. And if really wanted to get crazy, I could introduce him to this newfangled contraption called the dishwasher.  He looked at me without a trace of amusement and told me to lay off the sarcasm.  Not that funny to him. Huh.  Interesting.

Reigning in my tongue is a lifelong learning process...I doubt I'll ever master it.  Sometimes, the target is just too easy--or maybe I'm just too easily annoyed.  People on reality shows...whether it be of the talent, island-survival or weight-loss genre--are often subject to my sarcastic criticism.  "Really, CHAZ?  Is it really LIFE or DEATH?  You mean this moment where you're going to sing a pop song--could mean you cease living?  Really? You wanna re-think that statement?"   "Wow, Chris, this really IS the most dramatic rose ceremony EVER!"

I thought for sure that I had been getting better at keeping my speech positive and uplifting, especially during the kids' waking hours. (Previously mentioned reality show rants always happen after hours.)  Carson does know what sarcasm is by name and calls me out on it.  Like when he says "Mom!  Sydney's lid came off and she spilled milk all over the floor!" and I say "Awesome."  He informs me that I don't really think it is awesome, but that I'm being sarcastic.  To which I reply: "Yes, you're a real genius."

But a few signs have crept up and subtlety hinted that maybe the smart-@$$ doesn't fall far from the tree. And by "subtlety hinted" I  mean shot up red flags that my oldest child is on the fast track to being a cynical character from a quick-talking teen dramedy on FOX who wears ironic vintage t-shirts.

Here's a few examples.  We were laying on his bed at night after a LONG day, and we usually read 3 books or one chapter in a longer book.  I was especially exhausted and just grabbed a few that were on the floor near the bed. He complained we had read them recently, and I said that he was welcome to go get more books, but I was tired and these were closeby.  He grew frustrated and said they were "close by" because I--mommy-- always just "throw his books on the floor" and he has to clean them up. (Not true.)  I calmly asked if he could think of a solution to our problem (my solution: you could get up and get some new books if you want them so bad) and he said, with full head-wag and eyebrows raised: "Uh, yeah, you could walk, like, FIVE FEET and put them away when you're done."

WHOA.  EXCUSE ME?!  We nipped that in the bud with some serious reality checks on how that is rude and disrespectful and also: HELLO!?!  Am I reading Curious George Goes Camping for my own benefit?  Is it my responsibility to keep the circulation up on the books? You think I wait all day to see what actually happens If You Give a Mouse a freaking Cookie?

Hmmmm. OK. That right there might be where he gets it.  I promise I didn't actually say all those things to him, but I wanted to.

Another moment was not directed at me, but was still disconcerting.  We were in the car and I was listening to a voicemail on speakerphone.  I'll admit, it was a rather long message.  To nobody in particular, Carson says: "Sheesh.  What are you gonna do?  TALK us to DEATH?!"  That one, since he didn't know the person leaving the message, took me a minute to reprimand, because I was chuckling to myself just a teensy bit.  But then I did manage to tell him that was disrespectful and that he should not ever speak that way.

These two in close proximity, followed the next day by his well-timed and expertly delivered "DUH!" (seriously--it was scary good.  I know 13 year old girls from 1991 who would have given him props) were enough to guilt me into my own reality check.  In theory, as an adult I have a better handle on when sarcasm and mockery are called for and when they are hurtful and/or completely inappropriate.  Hey--I said "in theory."  But this witty tool can also be a dangerous weapon, one that I don't want in the hands (or mouths) of my children!  It's ironic, because I'm actually very conscious of trying to make positive statements about people in Carson's life...from the guy pumping our gas to the kid in his class who doesn't listen to his little sister.  I specifically try to model graciousness to everyone we encounter--particularly in public.  However, I'm wondering if my guard is dropped when I'm with people I'm most comfortable with--the ones I love the most!  These little rude-awakening moments have been a good dose of my own medicine to help me regain focus on the goal of setting a good example with actions AND words.

And I feel confident that I'll be able to get a grip on that!  I mean, I've completely mastered all other areas of parenting.*

*Yes, that's sarcasm.  You're a real genius.