Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Rememberlutions Jar I Won’t Be Making

By Jac

I just saw a great idea for a New Year’s Eve activity on someone’s Facebook Newsfeed. Basically, you take a jar and decorate it to make it personal—write your name in glitter glue, cover it with photographs, crochet a fancy cover—making it as simple or as complicated as you want to. And then, throughout 2015, whenever you achieve a goal or reach a significant milestone, you write your success on a slip of paper and put it into the jar. Then, next New Year’s Eve, you can read all the slips of paper and reflect on your accomplishments. The point is that instead of looking back at what you did wrong and should be resolving to change, you can look back on what you did well in the past year and focus on being proud of yourself. It’s perfect, too, because it’s a craft that adults and kids can all do together this year, and then an experience that they can all enjoy together before 2016 begins. Here’s a link to the Buzzfeed article about it.

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Isn’t this a great idea? You really should do it. I’m not going to, though, and there are several reasons why. Continue reading

Happy Holidays From The Two Fun Moms!

Merry Christmas, friends!

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This season we wish you:

health,

happiness,

at least one good glass of wine and one adult conversation (that is hopefully also good, but let’s not be too picky),

sweet children who will thank and hug their relatives without being constantly prompted to,

at least ONE decent picture of yourself and/or your family that you can use for next year’s Christmas Card (you know, one in which everyone is smiling and no one is attempting to look like a goober. Or at least one in which YOU look good, because that’s the only thing you really care about),

a few angelic photos of your children to help you remember this Christmas with fondness, and not just exasperation,

one hilarious story that you can tell at New Year’s Eve, hopefully involving someone sitting on someone else’s piece of pie that they left on a chair for some reason,

a large amount of sleep, at some point,

children who stay in their beds tonight so “Santa” doesn’t lapse into a coma before “he” gets the presents wrapped and under the tree,

one moment that fills your eyes with joy-tears,

one delicious coffee beverage that you can enjoy by the fire (or the heater),

and at least one huge hug from somebody (anybody) to tell you that you are great, and that you are doing a good job.

And, what the heck, a few more glasses of wine.

Lots o’ love,

Jac and Juli

I also want my kids to get along, and be adorable and hug each other, but not as much as I want that other stuff.

You are doing a good job.

 

 

What Were We Thinking? Picking a Christmas Tree With a Family of Six

I mean that title literally: here’s my best guess as to what everyone in my family was thinking while we walked through the U-Cut tree farm, picking our Christmas tree, just a few weeks ago.

Our thoughts …

One-year-old N: Put me down! I will wiggle and wriggle and lunge for the ground until you put me on the ground like the big kids. Now pick me up! Why am I so far away from you when it’s so cold out and I’m tired? I will cry and reach for you till you do it. Hey! Put me down! It’s boring up here and I want to see what’s down there. No! Pick me up! Continue reading

The Text that I Needed to Get

As stay-at-home parents, whether we are part-time stay home or full-time stay home, we are all familiar with the “witching hour.” It usually happens anytime between 2pm and 4pm, when you have that horrific realization that it will still be hours until your spouse gets home from work, and your kids have hit the fan, sometimes quite literally (and, if so, they broke that fan. So now it is just a giant metal paperweight). It’s like they are getting to the point where bedtime is again becoming necessary, but obviously it’s too soon to put them to bed, and you have to also feed them dinner first, which they are guaranteed to complain about eating.

They are also starting to fight more than usual with each other—it’s like they’re sick of seeing each others’ faces and so they have to start fights, following their all-important code of justice, which is essentially (from what I have been able to discern over the years): “I just noticed you playing with that toy that I didn’t care about two minutes ago, but it is MY toy, that I got from Grandma four years ago, and it is all of a sudden quite precious to me and my new favourite toy, so you need to give it to me right now … Give it … Give it … Give iiiiiiit!” And of course you should never try to reason with them, because they are too tired and hungry for reason. Conversation is pointless during the witching hour.

So you will end up doing several other possible things, in order to survive. You might text your spouse. It is important for him or her to know how miserable you are, but not enough that they will refuse to come home or think it’s an emergency and rush home to your aid—just enough that they will later bring you wine and rub your feet. You also might attempt to absorb your children’s fighting spirit by putting on a show. If I know you, you’ve spent the day reading stories, playing dolls, having ridiculous conversations, snuggling, having them cough in your face, cleaning, or doing none of those things, and so trust me, putting on a show IS JUST FINE. You deserve a BREAK, kid, especially during the witching hour. You know it, and I know it. But the thing is, sometimes you need someone else to tell you it. And so, I am telling you now.

The reason I know this is because I spent the other day in a veritable coma, thanks to the fact that both of my kids came down with the flu and I had to keep them home all day from their respective schools. And they were miserable, especially my oldest. Apparently having the flu when you’re seven gives you license to be super grumpy and irritable all day, and it is no fun for anyone around you, least of all the person who is supposed to be caring for you (in this case, me). The day progressed as quickly as a turtle with four broken legs, and I did my best, I really, REALLY did. Breakfast and the devastating decision to keep them home from school, done. Book time in bed, done. Snack in bed, fine. Movie? Sure, why not. Lunch, of course. Reading them books on the couch, check. And then came the witching hour: whines, complaints, putting their feet on each other, singing songs to annoy each other, you name it. So I started to gently text with my husband, being pitiful-but-not-too-pitiful, you know, so he wouldn’t decide to make a break for Mexico…

“Just asking … La la … When are you coming home, and I’m debating about putting on another show for the kids and what to do … Ha ha …”

And then he texted me back. And it was a text so revolutionary, so text-sational, that it quite figuratively blew my MIND. And all it said was this:

“You probably need some time to yourself.”

And with that, I suddenly felt new permission to put on another show, and possibly another and another! Because, yes, I do! I NEED time to myself! Of course. Genius. But even though I am a genius, I would never have thought of that. Because we DON’T, as parents. When everyone around us is so needy, day in and day out, we tend to forget our own needs, or forget to make them a priority, or factor them in to our routines at all. And all I needed was to be reminded of that need (and that it was not just a want, but a need), and to be invited to make it a priority. I shouldn’t have to be invited, but realistically, I often need to be.

And I think we all do. So this is for you: I see you—you’re exhausted. You’re probably coming down with something—at this time of year, most of us are, especially with all of that kid-coughing in our faces—but since you haven’t stopped to check, you’re living in a weird limbo of being sick and tired, and you’ll probably be there for a while. You NEED some time to yourself. You do! I don’t care how social you are, OR how capable you are of putting up with misery. In the immortal, mind-blowing words of my husband: “You probably need some time to yourself.”

So you should go take some time for yourself. And while you’re at it, you should also eat that leftover cake in the fridge—you deserve it. Just make sure you eat it quietly… and in the closet.

You should get into that closet with that cake before they beat you to it.

You should get into that closet with that cake before they beat you to it.

 

Baby N Does Timberline Ranch

Yesterday afternoon, we went to Country Christmas at Timberline Ranch, a local camp and convention centre. It’s a particularly special place for me as I went to summer camp there when I was a kid, and worked as a counsellor there for a few weeks each summer in my high-school years. They have done a great job of this well-organized Christmas event, and we all had a great time! Baby N wanted to tell you all about it, and show you the pictures of her favourite parts. Please especially check out the background of the pictures for crowds: there aren’t any. This was definitely a huge bonus: we never once thought, “This would be great if there were fewer people.” Instead, it was just great. Anyway, Baby N wrote a post once, and it was so successful I decided that she should tell you about our day yesterday! And show you, too, with lots of pictures. Here she is!

Hi Mommy’s blog! It’s good to be back. We went to a thing yesterday, and I was SO HAPPY there! So much to poke and point to, lay on and lick! There were even amazing home-made cookies to decorate, with icing and candy, and Mommy and Daddy let me lick them! No pictures of that, though. Mommy was a bit too busy carrying all of our coats and boots and mittens and socks.

This is me in that big room where I crawled on the floor and tried to push those trees over while my sisters went into another room to listen to a Christmas story, and then they made a really nice craft! I didn’t get to go because of all the eye-ball poking I wanted to do. I guess that makes sisters get mad and noisy (funny!) and then they can’t listen.

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This is my whole family! We are wearing costumes! My Daddy’s costume shirt is almost exactly like his regular shirt and Mommy thought that was hilarious. I did NOT want to wear a hat, no no no.

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This room was really fun because you were supposed to throw those snowballs at those targets, but if you wanted to, you could try to crawl under the fence instead and make your Mom pull you out of there over and over. So funny!

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Noisy sister and Jumpy sister rode that big neigh!

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I got to watch them. I liked to yell and scream as they went by. Mommy had to pick me up and take me away for some reason, and I did not want her to!

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Noisy Sister really liked this game. I liked to lay down on the dirt while she played it.

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There were animals I was allowed to touch! They wanted me to poke them in the eye, I think. I almost got that fence open, too! Darn you, Daddy, for stopping me.

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Pushy Sister did NOT want to sit beside me on the comfy hay.

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There was also a wagon ride! Mommy wouldn’t let me climb out of the wagon, or hit her repeatedly in the chest with my head, so I decided to thrash on the floor and yell. Mom did not seem to think this was fun, but she should have let me climb out of the wagon then!

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I’m not sure what this is, but it was my favourite part.

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Thanks Timberline Ranch! I had lots of fun even though Daddy didn’t let me play in the boys’ bathroom for as long as I wanted to!
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See you next Christmas!

It’s the Most Breakable Time of the Year

Jac: So, have you done any Christmas decorating? Do you decorate for Christmas?

Juli: Why, yes! Yes we do. And we have to make the decorating look GREAT, because it will be up until February. You?

Jac: Yes, and I was actually excited about it for once because we finally have a house that didn’t feel super cluttered already, before decorating. So we took our six decorations and we put them on shelves … Done! Here is an example of classic Jac Christmas prep: we made one of those paper-chain “Count-down to Christmas” thingys. We made it on, like, November 20. But then we threw it on top of the bookshelf “temporarily” while we tried to figure out where to hang it. It is still there.

How Jac's family decorates. By throwing a bunch of Christmas things on the top of the bookshelf.

How Jac’s family decorates. By throwing a bunch of Christmas things on the top of the bookshelf.

Juli: I love it! And when you find it again, it will be time to throw it out!

Jac: And just where am I supposed to hang it? Because G and E want to be able to reach it, but N and R must NOT reach it or they will rip it apart.

Juli: Well, the answer to that is obviously nowhere. You can hang it nowhere. And I should clarify. When I say our decorations have to be “great,” I mean great by our standards. This usually amounts to a wreath on the door, and a gentle sprinkling of Cheerios on the floor.

Jac: Of course you have a wreath on the door. How charming! Your cute little neighbourhood is probably full of door wreaths.

Juli: Our neighbourhood actually has a Christmas Decorations contest every year! We do not come close to winning. We have fun joking about how we will not win, though!

Jac: Of course it does. Is this about outdoor decorations? Like lights? We have definitely not hung our lights. We are SO LAME about lights. We do just enough to be able to say we have them. Because it’s always so cold out when we go to hang them up! Who has time to make them straight?

Juli: People in my neighbourhood, apparently, because yes, it’s outdoor decorations. We like to pretend that we leave our grass long on purpose, not giving it that last fall mow that it needs, because of Christmas! Because green is a Christmas colour! And we just have a few measly strings of lights up. It’s pitiful, really. But if Spence is reading this: looks great, honey!

Jac: Ha! Right. Anton does ours too. He KNOWS it looks bad. He doesn’t care if I tell him so, because we are a team. And that was last year, of course, because this year: nothing. But remember? We’re the ones who got literally zero trick-or-treaters. We don’t exactly have people to see the lights.

Juli: Do you guys do a real tree or a fake one?

Jac: REAL

Juli: It’s real? And spectacular?

Jac: We even went all together to pick one out this year! And cut it! With a SAW. The whole experience, including hot chocolate, took us 15 minutes. How about you guys?

Juli: Wow! What? I’m impressed. Ours is a fake tree that we got for free. And every year, Spence and the kids go up to the attic and bring it down, with great pomp and circumstance, as though they have just come from the woods with a newly chopped tree. And I stand in the kitchen and ooh and ahh. This is the ritual. And then…

Jac: And then you cheerfully decorate it together, listening to Christmas music, and drinking hot cocoa? And then the kids happily go to bed, and you and Spence sit by the fire in the light of the tree drinking hot toddies.

Juli: Oh, hell no. Our kids always fight over who gets to hang which decorations. And S likes to take out all of the ornaments and become attached to them. They become her “babies,” and then it becomes difficult to ask her to “hang” her babies on the tree, as you can imagine.

Jac: Classic S.

Here the Christmas minx is adopting all of those ornaments, giving them nonsensical names and making them her "babies." She would be at this for hours, if we let her.

Here the Christmas minx is adopting all of those ornaments, giving them nonsensical names and making them her “babies.” She would be at this for hours, if Juli let her.

Juli: This problem is better than the problem we had when she was eighteen months old, and took one of my great-grandma’s old teardrop-shaped glass ornaments out of the box, put it in her mouth and bit it.

Jac: NO WAY! That’s the worst!

Juli: And it shattered of course, and I spent the next half hour with a flashlight in her mouth taking out pieces of glass. Amazingly, she swallowed none of it. But, that was an adventure. You have a baby … How do you guys decorate your tree?

Jac: We just decorated it while she was sleeping. And then every day we periodically pick up the balls off the floor and put them in a basket.

Juli: Nice. A decorative basket o’ balls! Classy.

This was after two days of Christmas-tree ownership.

This was after two days of Christmas-tree ownership.

Jac: Right? And then we “put them back up” in the evening. We have yet to do that. The basket is full. Very full. We also have a picture frame someone gave us that plays “we wish you a merry christmas” when you spin the little snowman.

Juli: Oh dear.

Jac: The picture in it, which is the best I could do, is a picture of me and Anton and our three children. In the sunshine in our summer clothes. Baby N LOVES it. I wonder next year she’ll notice she’s missing from it?

Juli: Ha ha! Does it drive you crazy with it’s endless playing of that song?

Jac: You’d think it would. But N has been exceptionally whiney lately, so I much prefer the annoying song to her annoyingly following me around and crying, which is the other option.

Juli: Well, that is absolutely understandable. We have a few ornaments that I really hate, which I try to hide, but somehow the kids always find them and display them prominently on the tree.

Jac: Yes, they always like the uglies in the front.

Juli: Oh yes. The headless elves, the gaudy snowmen, the ornament that was a gift from a relative of Spence’s—for our first Christmas together. On it my name is spelled wrong. But at least they didn’t get the name totally wrong—like put an ex-girlfriend on there, or something.

Jac: Is it breakable? I mean, so you can drop it?

Juli: Oh no. If it was breakable, I would have “solved” that problem long ago.

Jac: Totally.

Juli: Well, I think we can probably agree on the very BEST thing about Christmas decorations: you never have to dust them, because they are temporary. Also because I never dust.

Jac: Right. Just shove those dusty things back into the box and put them in the attic till the next year! Merry not-Christmas-anymore to us!

Pardon my Postpartum: Part Two

In yesterday’s post I shared the struggles I had after my son was born, and how I came to the realization, some years later, that my symptoms and mental health state would have qualified for a diagnosis of Postpartum Depression. As I mentioned, what I took from this was a realization that it wasn’t just me; I wasn’t just strange, or different, or incompetent and, most importantly, I wasn’t alone in this. I have come to understand that lots of moms, first-time or otherwise, struggle with this. And it is a nightmare, a hard road to walk alone. However, knowing what I now know, I realize how treatable it is, and how much isolation and internal suffering I could have been spared if I had been able to ask for help. If I could go back in time I would likely choose to seek out some kind of support, probably a counsellor or some other mental health professional, to help me through it. I now understand how helpful this can be.

We made it!

We made it!

I managed, however, to come out on the other side, relatively unscathed. And as I have reflected on how it was that this was possible, it is these three things that come to mind. These are, in my opinion, what saved me:

1) I decided to join a “Mommy and Me” fitness class that met at the local community centre, near my home. My goal was fitness, not social interaction or to improve my mental health state, but these often come together, thankfully. My son and I could walk there, and all of the exercises were done with the baby strapped to you, or using the baby as a prop. It was fun, and helped me to get out of the house and meet other moms with young babies, but best of all, when I timidly asked some of these other moms if they wanted to go to Starbucks afterward, many of them responded with a resounding yes, and so this became a weekly ritual. We were not only able to engage in adorable exercise (our babies would laugh and squeal and make eyes at each other and us while we bounced around), but also a lovely walk, great conversation and good coffee. I don’t think any of those moms knew how much that time truly meant to me.
2) A married couple from our church had us and some other young families all over once a week, just to feed us soup and love on us and our kids. They called it “Soup Group.” It was once a week—one whole evening each week that I didn’t have to make dinner, and didn’t have to think about the horrors that awaited me at bedtime, and that I could simply be loved on. Another wonderful gift.
3) My in-laws would have us over for sleepovers at their home during this early, vulnerable time. This package deal would include that they, his loving grandparents, would put their weeks-old grandson to bed, AND get up with him in the night and bring him to me for nursing, then clean and change him before bundling him back into bed. On those nights I slept like a dream (between feedings, of course).

While not everyone has access to this type of “saving,” or is lucky enough to have people in their lives to seek them out and find them when they need to be found, my hope is that if you are there or have been there, or if you find yourself there someday soon, you will know you are not alone and that there is a lot of help out there, whatever form it takes for you. I think people are less likely to be open about the fact that they have, or had, postpartum depression, because they are so worried that no one will understand why sometimes they feel like they hate their baby, and feel like they are in a black hole, and don’t know what to do, when they “should” feel over the moon that they have a precious, new, perfect baby. The reality is this: you are not alone. Seek help; don’t be in this by yourself. Seek out someone who is trained to handle this—a mental health professional who can walk you through this dark time, and friends, family, community. Reach out and let someone grab you. Let someone make soup for you and love you. They don’t have to know the details, but they can just hold you when you are scared and feeling alone. And trust me, they really, really want to.

Pardon my Postpartum

My son just celebrated his seventh birthday a few weekends ago, which got me thinking again about how crazy it is that I have been a mother for seven years now, and that my first, tiny baby has now turned into a real “kid”-kid—all the baby chub has been replaced by an angular, lean body, that fine baby-soft hair has grown into a tousled, unruly head of “kid” hair, and his tiny, delicate, pink baby feet have been transformed into these large, increasingly stinky kid feet that are hard to keep in sneakers.

And we spent some time around his birthday telling him about himself as a baby—all the usual stuff: the story of his birth, how we fell in love with him the first time we saw him, how he “baptized” his Daddy’s hands with poop the very first time he changed his diaper, which also happened to be the first time Daddy had EVER changed a diaper, etc. It was delightful to share that with him, and he would laugh and light up while hearing these stories, enjoying those memories of being loved. The memories I have yet to share with him, however, are the really hard ones, the ones that also make up part of the story of his first few months in the world.

Oh, we’ve told him about the risky way he came into this world, and how he had to be in an incubator in the hospital for two weeks after he was born. We’ve told him that he was a real rascal who did not enjoy sleeping during the night, and just wanted to be in someone’s arms all day every day. What he doesn’t know is what was going on inside of me, his Mommy, during that time. That’s a story that I will likely wait to share with him—possibly until he, himself, has a fresh new baby that has just come into the world.

Because that time was actually a really hard time, and not just because of the risky stuff, the not knowing if he’d make it, and being in and out of the hospital for the first two weeks of his life. It was a really hard time even after I took him home, especially for the first six weeks, when I felt all alone trying to figure out how to manage my mental health state while lovingly caring for a squawking infant. Because I did love him—so, so much—but a part of me really hated him, also. This was a confusing thing for me because of the expectations I had had about what it would be like to have my own little baby, and how lovely and miraculous it would all be. Now of course I am not completely cluless—having grown up with four little brothers I was no stranger to babies and their constant neediness. I did not enter motherhood with rose-coloured glasses—brown-coloured ones, perhaps—but I fully anticipated it to be difficult. But what I didn’t anticipate was how much I, myself, would change.

For example: I wasn’t happy and in love with him all the time. He was beautiful, of course, but he had so many needs, and nursing was extremely painful for me at the beginning. Also, I was irrationally terrified. What if I accidentally kill him? What if I kill this very delicate baby who had a rough start and a team of doctors and nurses to care for him, but now it’s just up to me, day in and day out? Also, why won’t he just eat? Or sleep during the night? Or stop crying? Or let me change him? Or let me bathe him? Or sleep in his own bed? Or let me put him down for five seconds? And why am I not happy?

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I remember the nights with him being the absolute worst, because during the daytime, even though I was exhausted, the sun would cheer me up and the regularity of the daily routines would be comforting. But at night, there are no routines, because you are supposed to be sleeping. But my baby and I, we were not sleeping. And it was so dark and so cold, being the middle of December, and I remember thinking to myself: “This is what hell must be like.” And I was serious—I literally thought hell must be like vacillating between being up with a screaming baby who wouldn’t be comforted, and who struggled to nurse, and when he did successfully nurse my poor, raw nipples would be on fire with pain, and being racked with guilt over letting him sleep with me in our bed (for the brief pockets of sleep that we did get), because that was the only thing that kept him sleeping. People have many opinions about what one should or shouldn’t do in those first six weeks, one of which is that co-sleeping can be a hazardous and just plain bad habit to get into. But my baby, who had spent his first two weeks of life in an incubator, just craved touch and closeness with me, and would not sleep in his crib for more than five minutes at night. So for me to get any semblance of sleep, I would have to have him nestled beside me in our bed, and I was always racked with guilt and worry that I was somehow “ruining” him.

I also struggled to eat, simply because I never felt hungry. I lost all of my baby weight, and then some, in the first six weeks after he was born. This is not something to congratulate, unfortunately, because this is a really unhealthy and unpleasant way to lose your baby weight. At this time I really isolated myself as well. I’m not sure exactly why—perhaps because I believed that nobody would really “get” this, and that I would have to present a perfect picture of mother and child wherever I went, and that type of “perfection” was exhausting to execute, so I didn’t really want to bother. Perhaps I also thought I should be alone in my misery. This is all very unlike me; I am usually quite good at seeking out friends, and help, and comfort, and food!

It took me years to realize that there was actually something else at play, and that that “something” was postpartum depression, which, as I know now, is quite common. All of the signs and symptoms were there, but it wasn’t until after I started studying depression in all of its forms that it started to click for me that that is what it was.

And now here we are — that teeny little rascal is a lanky, stinky-footed seven-year-old kid now, and I’m just so grateful that we made it here. But I did not make it here alone; I think that’s important to acknowledge. I don’t believe anyone ever makes it to the other side of depression alone, which is part of why I share my journey with you. If you are here, or have been, or may be one day, you should know that are not alone in this, nor do you need to be alone in this. You can get through this, and you need to. Not just for your little baby, but for you, Mom. For you.

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I want to say more about how I, personally, made it through, but first I have a newly seven-year-old to go snuggle. So click here for part two, if you’re interested to know what brought me back from this.

A Private Conversation

Setting:  Standing at the kitchen counter while Mommy loads the dishwasher.
Context:  None. There was no context whatsoever.

E: Mommy, have you seen my privates?

Me: Your what?

E: My privates. Did you see them? I can’t find them.

Me:  … Your what?

E: My PRIVATES! They are supposed to go in the bathtub!

Me: E, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Are you saying “privates?”

E: Yes, our PRIVATES. They were right here, on the counter? We got them yesterday at the McDonald’s with Daddy because, remember Mommy, we got Happy Meals? And we got our privates in them.

Me: Okay…? What are they, exactly? You don’t mean your body’s private parts, right?

E (Looks at me like I’m a crazy person):  Mommy. No. From Penguins of Madagascar. Theres a private in it? And me and G got them in our boxes.

Me:  Ah. I see. I have not seen any new toys here on the counter.

G (Calling from the bathroom):  E! I found our privates! Daddy put them in the bathtub!

Well, it turns out that there is a character in the Penguins of Madagascar named “Private.” That’s his whole name! So, now E and G each have a bathtub toy figurine of this guy, and they quite casually refer to them as their “bathtub privates.”

Well, I never thought I'd post a picture of my daughters' privates online.

Well, I never thought I’d post a picture of my daughters’ privates online.

So, thanks, McDonald’s and The Penguins of Madagascar Movie for that confusing and terrible conversation. Thanks a bunch. And a hearty “you’re welcome!” to anyone who comes to our house for a visit in the next little while and gets to have a similar conversation. From now on, can we all agree that every Private needs a LAST NAME? Please? Thanks so much.

The Treat Seeker

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My greatest achievement…

Dawn. The subtle, cold light of the December morning creeping in through the window easily wakes me. My eyes open, and I survey my surroundings. Dog poster on the wall, Spider-man toy clutched in my hand, other toys still strewn about the bed from when I snuck them in last night when my parents thought I was sleeping. Sleep: one of my most persistent of foes. It had slowed me down for a while, but it can no longer hold me, keep me from my main objective. That objective, of course, is treats. My mission is simple: find the treats, and consume them; find more, and consume those. The thought of not accomplishing my mission is too painful to consider—I will push it from my mind. For now I have to get moving … for the treats… the treats. They will not find themselves.

I exit my room, still wearing my dinosaur jammies. The house is quiet. Mama and Daddy must still be upstairs, in bed. I consider my options. The advent calendars are on the counter, tantalizingly within reach of my small, adorable hands. Oh, advent calendars— how I long for those treasure troves, full to the brim of delicious chocolate treats nesting teasingly behind tiny, enticing doors. I know I could tear those flimsy things open and have immediate access to all the wondrous treats inside, but I also know the trouble that decision would inevitably bring. For it is the adults who are the keepers of the treats, and with them it has been my experience that a softer touch, like a single persistent whine, or continuously asking for treats in a repetitive and constant manner will inevitably result in a more steady supply of treats. In my position, of course, it is important to think long-term.

And so I bypass the advent calendars, and instead make my way upstairs. I find Mama and Daddy sleeping in their bed. This is always curious to me, how these people could so easily be eating treats, and yet they choose to sleep? I nudge the mama one. She groans, and turns over. I nudge her again. I’ve played it cool long enough—I decide to make an attempt.

“Mama?” I say, making my voice as sweet and engaging as possible. “Can I have some treats? I want a treat.”

She looks at me, groggily. “You, what? No. You can’t have a treat! It’s still dark outside—please. Go back to bed.”

She buries her head in the pillow. I weigh my options. I have had success with this mama one before, but I decide to try another angle. I gently, silently, like a silver fox stalking it’s prey, stroll over to the daddy’s side of the bed. He is asleep—I begin repeatedly poking at the exposed flesh of his back with my finger. I choose my words carefully, and prepare my eyes so that they are just moist enough, my brows furrowed ever-so slightly, so I look as pitiful as I possibly can, almost sickly. And then:

“Daddy,” I say, sweetly and sorrowfully, “I’m hungry. Can I just have a treat?”

I make sure my voice goes up slightly at the end, to indicate the hope it would provide to my desperate situation to be granted a treat, or two, or five. Daddy is not in a good mood, as it turns out.

“Go back to sleep. No treats, it’s sleeptime,” he grunts.

I weigh my options, yet again. I can keep going with this technique, though it may not be as effective as I might hope. Or I can loosen them up with another request—pave the way to a later treat. I go back around to the mama’s side.

“Mama? Mama? Can I play on the iPad?”

She grunts and hands me the iPad. Excellent. These adults … they’ll do anything for a few more minutes of sleep. It’s disgusting, really. I enjoy a few minutes on the iPad, until the mama’s alarm goes off, and she realizes how late it is. She flies out of bed and heads downstairs to get my brother ready for school. I decide it’s as good a time as any to ask for a treat.

“Mama! A treat? Can I have a Trrrreat?”

Busy throwing sandwiches together and matching socks from the dryer, she barely has time to look up at me and say: “Ah! Not right now!”

It’s what I’ve been waiting for.

“When Mama? Wheen? Whhhhhennnnnn? When can I have a treat?”
“You need to eat your BREAKFAST!”
“After I eat breakfast can I have a treat?? Please! Oh, pretty please with a cherry on top, mamaaaaa?!”
“We’ll see!”

Again, what I’ve been waiting for. I scarf down two bites of the Cheerios she has hastily thrust before me, and open my Cheerio-filled mouth to speak. The plan is working perfectly.

“I athe ma thhheeerios, can Ah hathve a treeat?”
“Finish your Cheerios!”
I scarf down two more bites.
“Now, mama!? Can I hathve my advent thchocolate?”
She has her head in the fridge. “Did you finish your Cheerios?”
“I don’t WAANT anymore. I’m full of Cheerios!” I muster.
She sighs. “Two more bites, and THEN you’re done.”

Perfect. I take two microscopic bites of cheerio dust and then set upon her, once again.

“I’m FINISHED! Now you said I could have my advent chocolate!”

She sighs, and looks up at the roof. I don’t know why she does that.

“FINE.” She says. “Have your advent chocolate. But that’s IT. NO MORE TREATS until at least after lunch! So, please, STOP ASKING!”

And with that, I know that the game is once again afoot. I wrestle the hard-won advent chocolate from its magic christmassy cardboard door, my thoughts churning all the while around the newest barrier between me and the treats—lunch. My strategy: continue to ask for them, before, after and during lunch. That’ll work.

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