Tuesday, February 26, 2008
A Day with Cave Troll and Ladybug
One of the things I've discovered I like about blogging, is how it serves as a time capsule for those days that might otherwise get lost in the busy-ness that is life in the mommy-lane, professional or otherwise. To that end, since my beloved beautifuls have done some very charming/irritating things in the last week, I thought I'd make an honest to goodness time-capsule post, a post that I can come back to during the tween-years, and say, "Oh yeah--they did that. They were adorable. They still are." (Although I like what Gemma's grandmother said about them too--"Children are so adorable that when they are little you want to eat them up. Then they get bigger and you wish you had.")
And so, to that end, I give you 'a day with Cave Troll and Ladybug'--the following day is sort of an amalgam of things they have done in the last week, but still...that's some week.
I wake up at six a.m.--the Cave Troll has climbed between Mate and I sometime during the night, and, if the Goddess is with us, our sheets are still clean. Again, with luck, I sneak out of bed, go potty, and wander into the kitchen to check my e-mail. During this time, Big T will invariably try to cheerfully talk to me, not having yet realized that I am sub-human until I have checked my e-mail and knocked my toothbrush into the sink. (We've been doing this routine for months, but this probably won't dawn on him until full adulthood.)
Then, having gotten sucked into the version of my current manuscript that I"m working on and sending to work, I realize I'm running late, dash into the bedroom, change quickly (I often go to work in jeans and a T-shirt, because, quite frankly, I don't care if I look like hell...unprofessional, but true) and then gather clothes for the two short people. "Cave Troll, Cave Troll--time to wake up and go watch Handy Manny...you want your time to watch Handy Manny, right?"
He literally leaps into my arms over the edge of the bed, and I haul Troll and troll clothes into the living room to be sat down in the big chair while I go get Ladybug.
She is always asleep face down, sometimes wearing shoes she put on last night, when the lights were out, and she was supposed to be settling down to sleep. She's particularly fond of these lightweight pseudo-crocs right now--because she can do the laces all by herself. She will not leave the bed without her favorite blanket--the glitch is, of course, that we don't know which blanket that is today until she sticks her thumb in her mouth and emits this high pitched buzz-whine until I grab the appropriate blanket from the pile that she was sleeping on when I got her.
Mom, kids, and blankets settle down for Handy Manny. At the beginning of Doodlebops, it's dressing time--sort of. The Cave Troll can dress himself, but Ladybug has been very partial to her pajamas lately. MOre than once we have thrown a pair of sweats under, and a sweater over, her monkey-nightie and sent her to the baby-sitters that way, because unclenching her elbows from her sides is just too much trauma for seven a.m. The baby-sitter thinks it's highly amusing, thank gods.
Sometimes we have breakfast--a bottle of milk--the Cave Troll likes it in the bottle instead of a cup. We humor him. He has the skills, he's just a cup-slacker. If we have toast or a bagel, it's because Ladybug wants to eat the creamcheese off the bagel or the butter off of the toast. If it's a bagel, she'll give it back to you, licked clean, so you can re-cheese her bagel. I'm usually so tired/late/dumb with shock that I do just this...I'm sure there's a bylaw out there in the mother's manual that says this is a BAD THING but until the parenting police come and arrest me for it, I'll keep doing it.
The trip to the sitters is fraught with various squabbles over bottles, toys, blankets, etc. Ladybug really doesn't give a ripe shit about these things, but the Cave Troll obsesses and she likes to yank his chain by stealing his bottle, his blanket, or his toy du jour. This morning, the Cave Troll wanted music and conversation for his morning commute. He remarked that the sun was up, and wanted a song. Thus followed "Here Comes the Sun", sung by Mom. Then he wanted a song about the moon--"Moon Shadow", by Cat Stevens, covered by the same artist, thank you very much, and thus with 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' and Joni Mitchell's 'Clouds'. For the record? My voice is reasonably pleasant, but I frequently fall out of key unless I sing bold. 'Clouds' sounds like a cat sliding down a chalkboard unless I start out strong and just belt out that puppy, but then, who else is in the car to object, right?
We get to the babysitters, and the Cave Troll gets out on his own--"Hug and Kiss, Mom," and then, after the hug and kiss, he has to drive. The only way I get him to let go of the steering wheel and walk to the door is by threatening to get to the doorbell, thereby depriving him of the chance to ring it. Ladybug sometimes comes quietly--sometimes even falling asleep on the way--but not today. Today, those same shoes she insisted on wearing as she slept have been foot-tossed to the very back of the car--it took me five minutes to find them, tick-tick-tick-please- let-me-not-be-late-thank-you-very-much! When I got her out of her car seat, she grinned up at me, gaps-in-the-teeth and all. "'ookie, mama, barefoot!" "Yes, sweetheart, lookie. Barefeet." Can you hear the Sahara Desert in my voice? I thought so.
And that's it...hug and kiss, hug and kiss for the Cave Troll...with Ladybug, it depends. Sometimes she waves to me with the same hand that has the thumb that's in her mouth. Sometimes she's done with me--she gives me a wave behind her back while she pretends the TV is more engaging. Sometimes, she's so busy running up the forbidden stairs that she forgets I"m leaving at all.
Sometimes she cries.
Either way, it sucks to go...
Picking them up is fun...usually, Ladybug is out the door before we can get to her--I used to panic about her running into the street, but I park in the driveway, and we've figured out her real motivation.
Mommies and Monkeys--the Cave Troll makes me sing it, loudly. In fact, he won't let me catch him unless I"m singing--it's required.
*All around the Minivan, the mommy chased the monkeys, the monkeys stop to tie up their shoes...MOMMY'S GOT THE MONKEYS!!!* And then I swoop and get them--Ladybug first, Cave Troll second...and if I make the game too short, the Ladybug cries. She loves her a good game of Mommies and Monkeys, yes she does.
Then we get in the car, and my trek of shame begins. "Choc'late milk, mom. And a toy." Whether they've eaten or not, it's always at least chocolate milk and a frickin' useless piece of plastic from McDonalds. They can set their watch by me, and all of the drive-thru tellers know me--some of them go to my high school, and they all like to know what I"m knitting. (When the Cave Troll was by his lonesome, this one lovely woman used to sneak me free happy-meal toys. She was pregnant when my day care provider moved--I hope she's happy, and eyeballs deep in toys and baby squeals as I write.)
This is one of the few purchases I can safely say comes completely out of guilt. When I get home, I want to check my g-mail (who knows--a publisher may have called while I was dragging 11th graders through the gram-mire during the day) and then I want to sit on the chair, holding my little ones while they watch a show, pet the cat and touch me to make sure I've never really deserted them. Sometimes this happens. Sometimes, the little ingrates fall asleep on their brother or sister, who are equally happy to have them home.
Sometimes I get a whole 1/2 an hour to sleep in the chair before someone has to be somewhere--karate or dance or indoor soccer-- or, (better yet!) I make dinner. (Of course, making dinner only comes if the older kids have done dishes--the younger kids have usually eaten, so if the older kids haven't done the dishes, we're all on our own. We eat a LOT of Hot Pockets in my house.)
And then it's the juggling--who's home, who's taking whom...and hopefully, the little ones get to stay in the house, playing, running around in their MOnster/kitty blankets, having jedi-fights with the two contrasting Jedi swords that big T keeps trying to get back from his little brother... whatever.
Last night, my nap was interrupted by a naked Cave Troll. He had decided that it was bath time early--this was actually okay. We bathed them early, fed them, early, got them to bed--well, mostly on time, and then mama had her walk. The going to bed part is fun...mama sings. Every one of my kids has had their own personal song...it usually starts out as a song I like, and then the kid picks his/her own as time goes on. With Big T, I used to have to call him up when he was home with a babysitter, and I'd sing Sarah MacLachlan's 'The Ice Cream Song' to him over the phone. For Chicken, because it couldn't be easy, it was 'Clouds'. For the Cave Troll, we started out with Ernie's 'I Don't Want to Live on the Moon' and one day, on a whim, I sang him John Denver's 'Sunshine on my Shoulder' and it has been that ever since. For Ladybug, so far it's Patsy Kline's 'Sweet Dreams'. I can not even fathom a guess as to which song she will choose for herself.
It's the 'after bed' that's the problem. Personally, I love it when Mate and I retire and laugh and giggle for hours after lights are out--it means we're enjoying each other's company.
The Preschoolers think highly of this situation as well, and it's a rare night I don't have to ask Mate to stick his head in and do the deep-voiced-dad thing, yelling at them to go to sleep.
They do--often, for Ladybug, after giggling through the process of putting on her shoes. For the Cave-Troll, there's a more furtive process.
First, he waits for Ladybug to fall asleep, and then, for the second, more intangible event. He waits for me to leave the computer (I usually write a page or two, or blog for an hour) before I sit down and knit. He loves that moment. He creeps out of his room and sits on my lap. I used to scream at him about this. "Back in your bed! The MANUAL FOR EFFECTIVE PARENTING says I must be firm!" But, since I've got piles of laundry in my room that haven't seen daylight since 2005, I figured THE MANUAL must have been lost there somewhere as well, and I can let him sneak onto my lap. He likes it when I knit. He puts his tender, longfingered hand on top of mine as I move it. (I am embarrassed of the times I smacked him with a knitting needle because I thought he was fidgeting.) It turns out, he just likes the rhythm of mama knitting or crocheting.
And that's it. He sits, he feels my hands move. After fifteen minutes, I remind him of what he's supposed to be doing, and he goes back to bed. "Hugs and Kiss, Mom. Hug and Kiss."
(*If you read this before there's pictures, please check back...I've posted from school and I don't have access to my pix!)