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jannica merrit

humor. honesty. sometimes both.

Girl Time

My son spent the night at his Godmother’s last night and my youngest and I got some rare “girl time.”

I wonder what it is like for her, as she has never known being my only child, and being an “only” myself, I try to navigate my management if their sibling relationship as best I can, with no direct knowledge of either side of it.

At two and a half, she seems content, doesn’t ask about her brother, and is playing with me and our dogs as usual. She played in the sandbox yesterday afternoon, which she usually does solo these days, and doesn’t seem to miss him.

But I expect when big brother returns, full of “I am so cool after a night of being spoiled and being an only again” swagger, I imagine she will rush to greet him with excitement and joy.

They really seem to love and take pleasure in each other, while still maintaining firm grasps on property ownership (each toy amazingly belongs to both of them).

After a docile babyhood,  where she would smile and gurgle at him while he took away any toy that suited him, she has blossomed into a toddler from whom nothing is grabbed away from without a fight.  (I give her brother partial credit in her motivation to develop extreme bicep strength).

I am going to see if she wants to help me make brunch this morning, a task her older brother is loathe to share! “I am doing the eggs! I am doing the cheese!”  It is fuzzy already what he was doing at her age, and I have to challenge myself to make sure she doesn’t get a “free ride” on things because it is easier to get a five year old to pick up toys.

We cuddled last night, and slept in this morning and she had some coveted time watching YouTube kids videos on my phone without competition.

And, before long, we will return to our normal family dynamics…let the fighting and playing commence!

Mini Golf Lessons in Love

I am rule follower, with few exceptions. I have a bit of a lead foot, but still generally won’t go more than nine miles per hour over the posted speed limit.  I recycle, and force my kids and the people around me to do the same (as much as I am able).  I color between the lines.  There is the way you are supposed to do things, and that is how you do them.

And now I am a Mom…

We took the kids to mini golf last night.  At two and a half, my poor sleepy daughter was regulated into her umbrella stoller and only able to give coaching (“hit the ball!”) advice from there.  She took her restrictions fairly amicably for once, probably due to the help of all the sights and sounds on the course.

But my son, my beautiful, athletic, smart five and a half year old son, who had never played putt putt golf before in his life…

We stood at the first hole with him and demonstrated standing to the side of the ball, practicing a swing before hitting, and which direction to aim the bottom of the putter.  He did as directed, and we celebrated each other’s successful shots, and played without keeping score…when we were playing below Jack Nicholson levels, we looked the other way.

On the second hole, he stood to the side as we had showed him, but held the putter backwards. I gently corrected him.  And, at each hole, that putter was somehow always facing the wrong direction, and I corrected him each time.

By the fifth hole, he was standing diagonally to the ball, so his back leg would block an effective swing, holding the putter backwards.  We showed him proper stance and putter placement again.  And again.

But somewhere around the ninth hole, it hit me: he was having fun doing it his way.  Fun! Wasn’t that why we were there?  What difference really did it make if he did it “right”, especially after what was almost turning into nagging?  Who else (that I see in the mirror every day) does it her way even though sometimes it is slower or not the norm sometimes (as long as it doesn’t break too many rules!)?

I took a breath. The most important thing, loving and accepting my son and letting him do what comes naturally for him–have fun!  And, he did! He hit the ball with every imaginable club angle, from many creative positions, and we celebrated every time it eventually went in a hole (with or without our help).

Lessons in Mini Golf and loving my son just where he is…because he is my son.

Missing Genes

I am seriously thinking that my children are missing a gene, an odd DNA strand here and there that helps with learning certain behaviors.  It certainly isn’t missing from my genes; thus it must be some strange omission from the other side.

The following stand out as particularly absent:

First, the DNA that controls the ability to turn off a light when exiting a room.  I would give them credit if it was a momentary, ‘be-right-back, went-out-to-get-a-sip-of-water’ sort of thing…but, no, they are not intending to go back because “let there be light” (everywhere) seems to be their motto.

It’s more accurate than a trail of bread crumbs to tell me every step of where they have been.

I knew my son restocked juice bottles in the fridge because the light was on in the room I use for storage.  I know my son did his chore of feeding our dogs when I found the “trail of proof” light on in the laundry room, door open, light on in the garage, and a trail of dog food pieces leading into the house.

Second, where-oh-where is the DNA strand that would help them identify trash?  Especially, their trash, and help somehow propell their little hands and little feet to actually pick up their trash and place it in one of the many waste buckets I have conveniently placed all over the house.

My oft-used phrase, “Trash goes in the trash” seems brand new to them every time I utter it.

I have verifed that their cute little arms, legs, and hands are functional, but somehow they do not have the gene to identify a used food wrapper and place it where it goes.

The third missing gene that I have identified involves remembering that when clothing is removed, it isn’t immediately  picked up by the Clothes Cleaning Fairy (CCF).  My children seem to think that, just as some magical person must exist to turn off the lights and pick up their trash, there is also a wonderful CCF following them.  I would love to meet her, except sadly, we are one and the same, so in a way, I guess I already have.

Last, but not least, is not the structural configuration to allow my children to hear–they have that–but whatever brain program would allow them to not only listen, but also respond.

There is something so very frustrating about asking them something and being met with dead silence,  and then an annoyed,  “I know!” after I have repeated myself four or five times. I have tried the code word, “Acknowledge”, but thus far this also is met by a blank stare.

They are good kids, I “acknowledge” that, but goodness the missing genes get frustrating some days!  At least, I have their teen years to look forward to, when I hear room cleaning and listening peak! 😉

They Are My Sunshine

There is a song from the 1940s by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell that has been covered by numerous artists and part of the lyrics are:

“You are my sunshine,

My only sunshine

You make me happy

When skies are grey

You’ll never know dear,

How much I love you

Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

It was likely written regarding a romantic love interest, but it reminds me of my love for my beautiful children.

A hard day? I can bring a smile to my eyes thinking about hugging my daughter.

Tired? I perk up after work when I arrive at daycare and hear jubilant screams of, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” as my two and a half year old runs to me for a hug.

Tonight, when I arrived at my sitter’s, my son ran out singing his own version of “Mommy’s here!  Mommy’s here!  She’s here!  My Mommy’s here!” and running back and forth between her door and my parking space.  It showed not only his ever-lasting love but revealed the possibility he had conned her out of quite a bit of sugar.

My daughter has the cutest angry/pouty face when she has been sent to her room,  and stomps out in indignation.  It is all I can do not to smile where she can see it as she stomps away.  And, a few moments later, it is hard not to cave when she holds up a toy enticingly, and says, ” ‘Prise, Mommy!” (her copy of her older brother’s way of “buying” himself out of a time out by putting together a cute collection of his toys as a “surprise” for me.

My heart swells each morning to look at their cherubic faces as they sleep,  before I slip off to get a few chores done before they wake up and want to help.  Before long, my five-year-old will be able to really help me on some of them.  He is getting so big, but unfortunately  it takes almost as long to explain what I want him to do and ask him enough times that he gets started on it,  as it would to do it myself.

They are my sunshine!  They make me happy when life is grey!

They will never know fully how much I love them.

Please never take my sunshine away…(except, of course, when they are 21 and then I will be okay with them getting their own places).

The Plan?*

I came upon this book, its pages flapping sadly in the breeze as I waited for a stop light while driving us home.

It sat on the side of a corner where homeless people often stand with signs asking for donations or help. The title, A Plan for Salvation, seemed woefully out of place with its situation.

I wonder what circumstances brought it there. Was it given to a lost soul on the corner, in hopes of helping them, and then cast aside?  Or was someone hopeless of ever finding salvation?

It seemed every backstory I came up with was amazingly sad.  I could only say prayers for whoever lost it…

 

*A small diversion from my normal parenting blogs.

My Junior Groot

I recently watched Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 on Netflix.  I love the characters,  their in-fighting and their many flaws.  And, Chris Pratt is not hard to look at, either.

But one scene, amazingly, was very similar to my everyday life.  If you haven’t watched the movie, SPOILER ALERT!!!

 

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Baby Groot, the only one of their band who is free on a space ship full of outlaws, is the only hope to help Yondu & Rocket Raccoon escape.  They only need Groot to bring Yondu his prototype fin to replace his original fin, which was destroyed by the Ravagers.  They describe it in intricate detail, and Groot returns with a desk, a small live animal, a severed toe–even Yondu’s underwear–everything BUT the needed fin!

Asking my five-year-old son to bring me something is so much like this…

My two year old daughter had fallen asleep on my lap in my chair, or getting it myself would have been the least painful course of action.

“Honey, can you bring me my phone?”

No response; my young man didn’t even look up.

“Honey?”

“What, Mom?”

“Can you bring me my phone?” I asked again, pointing at it.  “It’s on the end table, by the couch.”

My son, turned in circles, looked right at the couch, not seeing it, and handed me a tissue.  I am Groot.

“No.  It’s on the far end table, baby.”

“What’s an ‘end table’?”  I am Groot.

“It’s–”

He reached down on the floor, found a toy car, and started to bring it to me.

“Honey, that’s not my phone.”

He shrugged and handed me the toy car.  I am Groot.

“Honey! Mommy really needs her phone!”

“Where is it?” he asked, trying to hand me a Parenting magazine.

“On the end table, by the couch.”

“What’s an ‘end table’?”

“The TABLE at the END of the couch.”

“What?” Turned and looked at couch, not seeing or comprehending the word “table.” I am Groot .

“The TABLES. At the END of the COUCH. There are two of them! See, two?” I shook my head at the proffered water bottle.

Blank look, twirling resumed,  “What?”  I am Groot.

“THE TABLES! AT THE END OF THE COUCH! DO YOU SEE THE COUCH?”

He nodded.

“AT EACH SIDE, LIKE THE END, THERE ARE TABLES. ONE IS FULL OF JUNK. LOOK AT THE OTHER ONE. NOT THAT ONE! THE EMPTY ONE!”

Deep breath. My daughter, used to a loud house, slept soundly during this exchange.

“Yes. That thing there. My phone is on it.”

He stopped twirling.

“Please bring me my phone.”

He skipped to the far end table, and brought me a Christmas card from my friend in Canada.

“Right place, wrong object. My phone?” So close.

He returned with my phone.  He is Groot!

Thankfully, he has never brought me a severed toe (no comments on underwear).

Was he playing me, or is five years akin to, “I am Groot”?  What do you think?

 

Five Year Old Musings

Here are a few cute and sweet random conversations from my son this week.  Five years is such a prescious time, on the cusp of being a little boy, but with an imagination that doesn’t stop.  This post was sparked by the following conversation:

“What are you doing, Mommy?”

“I am going to write my blog.”

“Oh, good!  Can I help?”

“Sure.”

“What is it going to be about?”

“How much I love you!”

“Aw, Mommy, I love you, too!”

“Look, I am going to write ‘Mommy’!”

So, I showed him how to type: Mommy

And he carefully considered what I have shown him, and typed: abb3322114455

Nailed it!

 

“I like you in my sight!” is my favorite new compliment.

“I like you in my sight, too!”

“Aw, thanks, Mom!” he answered.

 

I picked him up from daycare the other day, and informed me he had a girlfriend now.

“Tell me about her.”

“She wore pants.”

“What is her name?”

“I really don’t know that.”

Ah, true love!

 

“Mom, before I can go to bed, I have to feed my kittens.”

“Your kittens?”

“Yes, my kittens. There are five of them and they are invisible.”

“Okay, go feed your invisible kittens.”

“Thanks, Mom.” He comes back, “Uh, Mom…”

“Yes, baby?”

“One of them threw up.”

“Is it invisible?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“Okay, I will clean it up after you go to bed.”

 

After screams had subsided from the backseat while I was driving is home in heavy traffic: “Mom, sister isn’t my friend anymore. Maybe she can be some day, but not now!”

 

“Mom, I have something important to tell you.”

“Yes, baby?” I stopped what I was doing due to the seriousness of his tone.

“When Poppy asked Branch to share his food with everyone, he didn’t want to.”

“I know. Sharing is nice, but he was worried they would eat all his food.  What would you do?”

“I would make a magic wand so everyone could have food.”

I love this age, as I have loved him since he first kicked from inside.  Every day raising him is a true blessing to me, even when I am tired and he is on fully charged internal batteries. I hope we can always have such great conversations.

 

 

Top Ten Reasons Mommy Is Losing Her Mind

 

It’s Tuesday, and already it has been a super-long week.  Overtime hours at work and a house in worse than its usual state of disarray.  I fell asleep early on the couch, watching Transformers (my favorite!) on Netflix (not influenced at all by my five year old son). It started out rather okay. It started out…

I am pretty sure a break down is imminent.

Here is a Top Ten List of the reasons why:

  1. Waking up to puke on my floor
  2. Waking up to a puke covered toddler
  3. Waking up to puke on my couch
  4. Waking up to puke on my pants
  5. Waking up to puke on my t-shirt
  6. Waking up to puke in my hair
  7. Waking up to puke on my floor
  8. Trying not to puke myself at the smell
  9. Carefully taking off puke-covered toddler’s clothes
  10. Cleaning up puke from my toddler’s skin
  11. Cleaning up puke from my toddler’s hair
  12. New jammies and toddler to bed
  13. Cleaning up puke from my couch
  14. Cleaning puke off the remote control
  15. Dragging myself into my bedroom
  16. Finding another sick child in my bed
  17. Carefully taking off puke-covered preschooler’s clothes
  18. Cleaning puke off my preschooler
  19. New jammies and preschooler to bed
  20. Cleaning up puke from my comforter
  21. Cleaning up puke from my sheets
  22. Cleaning up puke from my mattress cover
  23. Washing puke from my pillows
  24. Washing puke off of my hair
  25. Washing puke off of my hands
  26. New sweatpants and t-shirt
  27. Smelling bleach cleaner all over my hands
  28. Washing couch cover, clothes, sheets, and towels at 2 am
  29. Wishing I had never bought raspberries

Wait, I think that is more than ten.  But, I am too frazzled to fix this. I am going to get some sleep before the kids wake me again.

 

The Great Alphabet Battle, Part One

My son likes to hit things with sticks.  My son likes to play video games on his tablet and “kill” bad guys.  My son likes to wear super hero costumes and run around with his friends.  My son likes to go to the park.  My son likes to eat lasagna and ice cream and pizza with only cheese on it.

My son, however, does NOT like to learn anything and is content to look at signs, and make up what he wants them to say, and “read” them to me.

It seemed we were on track at age two, when he learned the alphabet song and sang it over and over and watched Sesame Street.  (Even though when he sang, he said “x” twice and omitted “s”).

But cut forward three years…his two year old sister, a Super Why super fan, knows about two-thirds of her letters, and her brother at five, knows about three.  We were fortunate enough to get him accepted into a top notch school, and he will be evaluated in three months before kindergarten in August.

But, he doesn’t know his letters, and he doesn’t care.  I have tried so many things.  Rubber letter quizzes in the bathtub, where he shrugs his shoulders and says he does not know and his sister behind him will quietly and correctly say, “Q” . 

He refuses to watch Super Why or Sesame Street now.

A month ago, he fixated on a Nerf gun with a ton of accessories at Costco.  It was a bit expensive, but I bought it and told him he could have it when he learned his alphabet.  That darn gun has sat in its box in the living room ever since.  He has tried to trick me into giving it to me, his sister, my friend, and his Grandmother.  I made a Rewards Chart that showed making effort would get him his Nerf gun.

I have tried working with him by my putting the bath letters in order on  a table and singing the song and pointing to them, then working on which one is which.  He sang as fast as he could and laughed.  I made a set of flashcards with the alphabet to go with the bath letters, and asked him to match it to the corresponding card in the bath set.  He played it whole-heartedly two times, did well, and then decided before he could play, he had to stack all the bath letters in piles by colors, and refused to try to identify any.  I downloaded The Letter Factory from Leap Frog. 

I have had had it.

He has lost tablet and television privileges until he learns his alphabet.  And his Nerf gun is going back to Costco.  I am not playing anymore.  Because I won’t fight battles at this level with him for the next thirteen years over homework. 

Wish me luck…

 

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