Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Sweeter Side of Sisterhood

My previous post might make it look like my kids always argue, but they don't.  

Being Thankful

Every night before we say prayers we talk as a family about what we are grateful for.

Me: Pops, what are you grateful for today?

P: Jesus and Santa Claus.

Me:  Good ones!  I'm thankful for them, too!

Chris: How about you, Juj?  What are you thankful for?

J: Spoons!

P: Good one, Juj!

Me:  ...Spoons?

J: Yeah.  Spoons and Popeye!

P: Thanks, Juj!

J: You're welcome, Pops!


I'm telling you, we had a rough time getting ready for bed the other night.  After an hour of reading books and cuddling and singing songs and cuddling and re-brushing our teeth, and getting drinks and going to the bathroom and singing more songs (you get it) I had had enough.  I left the girls in their room with Juj crying because she still did not want to go to bed.  After a minute or so the crying stopped and I sat outside their door and listened to them talk to each other.

P:  I'm sorry Mom is mean, Juj.  Want me to tell you a story?

J: (Sniffle) Yes.

P: Once upon a time there was a girl and she had sugar bugs on his teeth!  The bugs were big and they came alive and killed all of the roosters.  Really.  All of the roosters were dead.  Then monsters came but they were not like Sully and Mike.  They were bad sugar bug monsters and they killed everybody unless they just hided and everybody was all dead from the sugar bugs for the rest of their lives.  The end. (Pause) There.  Do you feel better, Juj?

J: Yes, Popeye.  Thank you.

And then they just went to sleep!  I had a difficult time sleeping because that was the most horrifying bedtime story I've ever heard.  I can't wait to thank my dentist for teaching the girls about sugar bugs.

(On a slightly related note, P woke up that night crying because she had a nightmare.  I asked her what happened in her nightmare.  She said that in her dream Juj used her bathroom and didn't wash her hands.  P wanted to wake up Juj and make her wash her hands.  At 2 a.m.  I talked her out of it and we said a prayer, instead.  Monsters don't scare her but the idea that there are people walking around without washing their hands after using the bathroom is absolutely frightening to her.  There is so much this kid gets from her dad, but every once in a while she does something like this and I think, "Wow, she does have some of me in her.  Poor kid.")

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It is hard to be a sister.

I grew up with several sisters.  Now, my sisters are my favorite people, my closest friends, and some of my biggest cheerleaders.  It hasn't always been this way, though.  We used to fight a lot.  I often have a difficult time remembering those days because my sisters and I have been so close for the last....8ish years.  Occasionally, though, I watch my girls interact with one another and I laugh.  When I see them argue I can remember the days when fighting and bickering with my sisters was a regular occurance.  I hope that this fighting is something they look back on one day and laugh.  If they are lucky, they will grow to appreciate each other as much as I appreciate my sisters!

The Closet

I saw Popeye looming around the living room, behaving suspiciously.  Then I heard thumps and cries coming from the closet.  I was a little frustrated because I have talked to the girls 100 times about why we shouldn't lock people in the closet.  Juj was frantically begging to be freed.  The door doesn't open from the inside.

Me: Popeye, I told you not to lock your sister in the closet.

P: I know....but why?

Me: Because it is dark in there and is scares Juju!

P: Ugh.  Okay.  (Opens door) I release the Kraken!

Juj proceeded to run out of the closet and into my arms.  Through tears I could make out the words, "Popeye not choosing the right! She was not listening to me!"  It took a while to calm her down, but before long she and Pops were off playing again.

It wasn't more than an hour later when I heard the familiar pounding coming from the living room closet.  Popeye was standing guard outside the closet door, giving gentle reassurances to her sister.  "It's okay, Juj Bee!  See if it is fun in there!"

I was so angry!  Popeye saw me and seemed to read my mind.  She quickly said, "Mom, I'm not in trouble because I gave her a flashlight this time!  It isn't dark in there anymore!"

Well, she had tried to implement a change.  How could I be mad?  I still insisted that we free Juj from the closet.  Popeye opened the door reluctantly.  Juj came flying out....with a nightlight in her hand.  Once again she ran into my arms, traumatized.  Once again she communicated through tears and sobs, "Mom, Popeye is bothering me!  Make her go away from me!"

The Disagreement

The girls always find a way to pass the time when they are stuck in the van on our way to and from errands.  Generally, they read, sing, or sleep.  Oftentimes, though, Juj likes to stir the pot and start arguments. 

P:  Hey Juj, what do you think we should name our new baby?  (Frequent topic of discussion)

J: Yellow.

P: Yellow!?  No!  That's a terrible name!  I think we should name the baby Baby Caroline.

J: (Smile) Yellow.

P: No!  Don't say "Yellow" to me!  We have to name our sister Caroline.

J: (Calmly, with a smile) How 'bout Blue?

P: (Uncontrollably furious) NO!  NO!  Why do you say that, Juj!?  We can't name our baby that!  It isn't our baby's fault that it is just a tiny little baby that can't talk and it going to explode out of Mom's belly!  We can't name her a bad name!  She has to be Caroline! 

Juj had no reply and Peyton seemed content that she had made her point.  She calmed down.  We rode in silence for a short time.  Then Juj looked at Popeye.  Juj knew that she had the duties of a little sister and she knew she could not neglect those duties.  

With a smile on her face, Juj broke the silence and said, "Yellow!"

Another Squabble

P: Juj, it is almost my birthday!

J: It's my birthday, too!

P: No, Juj.  You had a birthday Saturday.  It is my turn to have a birthday.

J: Me, too!

P: (Crying) But Juj!  It isn't fair!

J:  Don't say "fair" to me!

P:  FINE, Juj!  You can't marry me!  And you are not my sister anymore.  Ever!  And you can't play with my toys!  And no more games!  No more spinning in circles!  No more tickling!  No more exercising!  No more cuddling with my Sully!  No more reading stories or sharing my treats or helping you!  AND I'M GIVING ALL YOUR STUFF TO THE D.I.!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Birthday Party Blues-A Call for Help

Guys, here's the thing.  I'm not creative.  At all.  Never have been.

I suspected this might be the case when I was in kindergarten, and my suspicions were confirmed in first grade.  This is causing me grief now, but let me give you some background on the extent of the problem.

Kindergarten Thanksgiving
In kindergarten my class celebrated Thanksgiving by learning about the pilgrims.  The class was divided into 2 groups: Native Americans and Pilgrims.  We had a little program and we spent class time making costumes for our respective roles.  I was in the Native American group. The kids who were Native Americans made feather headdresses and outfits made of paper bags (I don't think this happens anymore...).  We also made necklaces.  There was a station set up where we could choose from a variety of colorful noodles of various shapes, fruit loops, and buckeyes with holes drilled through the center.  I busied myself making my necklace, not paying attention to the other kids.  My teacher approached me, concerned about my necklace.  I had chosen to only use buckeyes to make my necklace.  I disliked my teacher's condescending suggestion that I add noodles or fruit loops.  I knew that the Native Americans would never wear necklaces made of pasta or cereal.  Pasta, no matter how colorful, could never be a bead.  The idea was absurd.  Clearly, if I wanted an authentic-looking Native American necklace my only available bead option was the buckeye.  I remember being embarrassed for the other kids during our program as they wore there colorful food necklaces.  I honestly remember thinking, "I hope these adults don't think I'm one of these kids...."

First Grade Coloring Contest
In first grade as Halloween was approaching our teachers announced there would be a coloring contest.    We were supposed to color this print out of a scarecrow.  Easy.  I had just assembled a scarecrow a few weeks earlier and I knew what one looked like.  This was before I became too competitive.  I didn't really care about the coloring contest but as I saw the progress of the other children's pages, I knew I had this one in the bag.  They were coloring their scarecrows all wrong.  Heh.  Kids. They don't even know which colors to use.

I colored my scarecrow the right way.  The straw was a careful blend of yellowish-brown.  The bibs were blue.  The shirt was red and the patch on the knee was also red (to match, of course).  The posts were brown.  The sky was blue.  The grass was green.  The crows were black.  Easy.

When the results on the contest were posted I was so upset.  I wasn't upset that I didn't win, I was upset that the winner did everything wrong.  They colored the straw purple.  The bibs were swirls of color.  The crows were yellow.  The posts were blue.  What kind of madness is this!?  There is no such thing as purple straw!  Everybody knows crows are not blue!  Who has ever seen multi-colored overalls!?  Frankly, I though it was irresponsible for the judges to encourage that type of naive thinking.  It wasn't just the winner, either.  The halls were lined with pictures colored similarly.  Mine was the only one colored realistically.

That is when I realized that I don't have an imagination.  As a kid, I was pretty okay with it and considered it a strength of sorts.  Now I see that lack of creativity should be a legitimate disability.

My Point
You might be wondering why I am telling you this.  Here's the thing, guys.  Popeye's birthday is next month.  Before, birthdays were pretty low-key.  We had cake and a gift but not really a party.  The kids didn't know any better and they were totally fine with it.

Now things are different.  Popeye is older.  She has been anxiously anticipating her 4th birthday since Christmas.  She has  expectations.  She knows people have parties.  With themes.  Oh, guys.  This is a lot of pressure.  I don't know anything about planning birthday parties.  Here is what Popeye is thinking:

P: Mom, is it my birthday yet?
Me: Almost!  What do you want for your birthday, anyway?  (I was seriously thinking she would ask for paint or a batman cape or a pirate costume).
P: I want to wear a beautiful gown and dance with a handsome boy...or a frog who is really a prince.

I looked at her to see if she was serious.  She was dead serious.  She saw nothing peculiar about her request.  Continuing...

P: There will be cake and pretty lights and balloons and music.  Maybe fairies.
Me: ....Hmm....wouldn't you rather have a new toy?  Or movie?  Or book?  Or all three, even?
P: Course not.  It's my birthday.

Later that evening as we sat at the dinner table:

Me: P, tell your dad what you want for your birthday.
P: To dance with a handsome boy and magical stuff.
Chris: (Looks up, panicked and concerned)
P: I don't want to kiss him, though.  I don't think my dad will like that.
Chris: (Smiles, proud and relieved) That's right.
P: So I'll just have to wait to kiss him until I'm older.
Chris: Like until you are 31?
P: No, like for two hours.
Chris: (Hangs head in defeat)

I suppose you didn't need to know that last part to understand my dilemma.  I just added it because I thought it was funny.

So now you guys understand my predicament.  She is expecting something big.  I have no access to handsome, young, dancing boys.  I also don't know any fairies.  I don't know anything.  I don't know what to do to give this kid the great birthday party that I really want her to have.

That is why I need your help.  Yes.  You.  Don't act confused.  I've seen those pictures you shamelessly post about the flawless parties you throw for your children.  I've seen those posts and I have wept.  I need a party.  I need a party that she will appreciate and that will be wonderful.  And don't say that she will just appreciate any effort I put into a party, either.

Give me ideas.  Concrete ideas.  Ideas that I cannot ruin (don't give me ideas you saw on Pinterest that require creativity or skill.  I don't have either of those and I will mess it up).  Ideas that I can carry out that won't cost a bajillion dollars.  Carrie.  Melissa.  I am talking to you guys.  I really need help.  Ready?  Go.