Lunch. James Lunch.

So this morning the school calls and tells me that the Captain’s lunch is missing. I know it was there, because today was a special day in which parents were invited to a Meet The Teacher breakfast, so I personally dropped the Captain off at his classroom, hung his backpack on its hook, and saw his lunch bag in the backpack when I took out his water bottle.

I immediately guessed it was stolen. And you know, I had left his backpack a bit unzipped, and you could see the lunch bag poking out, and I actually thought to myself at the time, “I should zip that closed so no one takes his lunch,” and then I thought, “How stupid, who is going to take a kid’s lunch, and it’s not like zipping it all the way closed is some Fort Knox-style protective device, anyway.”

So I didn’t zip it.

And the lunch went missing.

Man, was I pissed off. Since the Captain can’t eat any of the backup food that the school keeps on site due to his allergies, I had to rush to make him another lunch. The whole time I was frantically making sandwiches and washing grapes and preparing chocolate rice milk I was stomping around and muttering under my breath about HOOLIGANS who STEAL LUNCHES and what the HELL is this world COMING TO, anyway. I paused occasionally to dash off angry emails to Sir Monkeypants and to protest loudly about the injustice of the universe on Twitter.

When the second lunch was ready, I packed up Little Miss Sunshine and dashed over to the school, and guess what I found in the Captain’s backpack?

HIS LUNCH BAG.

It turns out that my leaving his backpack a bit unzipped had caused it to fall onto the floor, where it apparently TURNED INVISIBLE. Seriously, Captain! The teacher asked him to do a “thorough search” of the hallway, floor, and his cubby area, and that blue thing? Sitting in plain view in the middle of the floor under his hook? The squarish thing filled with food? Was IN DISGUISE. Completely hidden by the wide expanse of WHITE FLOOR.

It’s the 007 of lunches, I guess.

It wasn’t that big a deal in the end, because I had to be there to pick up Gal Smiley anyway. I know I’ve vented quite a bit here about how dreadful it is having to walk back and forth to the school all the time, like, write me a novel and call it Turtlehead’s Progress, but here’s a little secret…

There are actually some good things about it. I know! It’s shocking!

The second best thing is that I can eat a cupcake every day after lunch now, and not gain any weight. Which is AWESOME.

The best thing, though, is that when I go to pick up Gal Smiley, both she and the Captain are having outdoor playtime, and I can watch them from the side of the school grounds. Usually they don’t notice I’m there right away, and I can see them interact with their friends completely candidly, and it’s so wonderful. I just love seeing them playing tag, or digging in the sand, or just chatting with their buddies, all grown-up and child-like and GORGEOUS. It’s a little window into their World Without Mommy, and I love being able to play Peeping Tom for a few minutes a day.

Gal Smiley has to play in the kindergarten area, which is fenced off from the rest of the playground, and the Captain’s class usually gathers in the area right outside the kindergarten fence. Often, the Captain and the Gal are on either side of the fence chatting with each other, which is so awesome it melts my heart right away. Yesterday, when I arrived at the school grounds, they were chatting at the fence when the bell rang, and the Captain gave the Gal a quick kiss on the cheek before running back into the school. It was my proudest moment to date as a Mommy.

I freakin’ LOVE those kids.

Anyway, due to the whole no lunch/lunch thing today, I got to watch them on the playground for an extra ten minutes. A whole extra ten minutes of watching the most beautiful kids in the world. Ten minutes of pure delight. Ten minutes of joy.

And then I came home to a pre-made lunch of sandwiches and grapes and chocolate rice milk.

So a happy ending, don’t you think?

Memories For Sale

There’s a children’s clothing consignment store near us, and for the past year, as Little Miss Sunshine grows out of stuff, I’ve been dropping off baby clothes to sell.

I took a big bag of spring and summer stuff over in December.

Today I stopped by to drop off a couple extra summer items, and while I was there I had a bit of a look around to see what deals were to be had.

There was another lady there shopping for her baby girl. She was buying at least six or seven of our things.

My baby’s things.

I didn’t want to cause an awkward moment so I didn’t say anything to her…just watched in a stalker-like fashion. When I got up to the cash, she was in front of me in line, chatting with the cashier. “I love this little skirt, it’s so cute,” she was saying.

I used to love it too.

“And this dress is so adorable.”

I always thought so.

“And this onesie that says, ‘I’m new here,’ how cute is that?”

Really cute. I have pictures to prove it.

I’m happy the clothes are going to someone who is going to love them and use them. But I have to admit I got a little choked up. I’m ready to move on, really I am. I’m ready to have older kids.

But I am getting a little sad about my babies growing up.

A couple of weeks ago, Little Miss Sunshine magically learned how to lower the side of her crib. She never tried to climb out of it or anything, but still we thought it was best to swap her crib for the other one we own — we have two because Captain Jelly Belly and Gal Smiley were in cribs at the same time.

The one the Little Miss had been using is the crib that all our kids slept in, the one we first had when we were new, green parents, the one that Sir Monkeypants’ sister’s kids also slept in. I think of that one as “our” crib.

When Sir Monkeypants was taking apart the original crib to swap it for our second crib, he asked me if I’d like to take a photo of it, so we could maybe sell it online.

He made it up nice, with a baby blanket and a few stuffed animals in there.

I took a picture but I think it was blurry.

(Or else I was a little misty-eyed.)

Then we took it apart and put it away and I thought about how my babies are getting to be not-babies anymore and I miss them already.

Carrot in the Nose

Last night we were sitting around the table, having a nice family dinner. Little Miss Sunshine was having some chopped, boiled carrots, because at 17 1/2 months, she STILL ONLY HAS TWO TEETH.

So anyway, the Little Miss is having her carrots, eating them quite happily, and then for no apparent reason she took one of them and shoved it up her nose.

We weren’t sure which was more horrifying — that she had a carrot in her nose, or that she seemed completely nonplussed at having a carrot in her nose. In fact, the only part that really bothered her was when we pinned her arms down so I could go in there and fish it out.

MyFriendJen is the oldest of four, and her mother always said that if her last child had been born first, there would have been only one. I’m starting to think that the Little Miss is on to that plan. Maybe I should tell her that we aren’t having any more kids, so she can cut it out with her terrorist activities aimed at preventing any more babies from taking her place.

In other kid-related news, I made my annual pilgrimage to the movies on Monday with LuckySevens and FameThrowa, and there were dozens and dozens of teenagers clogging the hallways and doorways. I just could not get over the teenaged fashions of today. What is it with boys and their need to wear their pants around their butt? If you’re going to show off your undies, at least invest in some Spiderman underoos or some Buzz Lightyear underpants so I have something to entertain me. It also seems to be a real fad these days, for both boys and girls, to wear their hair either spiked up or completely covering their lovely faces. I hated it.

I always thought I’d be a laid back parent when it came to personal appearance, because that’s something that is important to a kid and doesn’t really matter in the long run. As long as we could talk and my kid was responsible and kind, it wouldn’t matter if they had purple hair or liked to wear lime green fishnets. But seeing those kids at the movies totally brought out the old fogey in me.

I am SUCH a square. Sorry, my future teenagers!

Love The One You’re With

Last Friday I took the kids for a playdate with my two good friends, Andrea and Andrea. Andrea The Red has two boys and Andrea The Brown has three boys; neither one has any girls. Both of them were saying that they are often confronted by friends, family, or strangers alike who tell them that they simply MUST keep trying until they have a girl. Recently someone told Andrea The Red that if she grew old and never had a daughter, that she’d really regret it. Andrea The Brown confirmed that she gets comments like that all the time.

For the record, though, they are both quite finished with the baby having.

I didn’t say too much at the time but as a parent of both boys and girls, I must say, I emphatically disagree with these random people and their freaky attitudes. I do admit that being the parent of a girl is different than being a parent of a boy. But I think it’s being a parent, period, that is the beautiful, wonderful, crazy experience that changes you and makes you a family.

I can get that some people really feel like they want a boy or a girl because they envision the kind of activities they’ll do together, the kind of sharing they’ll do, the kind of bond they’ll have. But really, every child is their own person. If you have a baby and try to impose expectations on that relationship — we’ll play ball together! she’ll be an artist like me! he’ll be a doctor! when she grows up, we’ll bond over motherhood! — then you’re in for a heap of trouble. Maybe your son won’t like to play ball. Maybe your daughter won’t ever have children. Maybe they’ll call every day, or maybe they’ll move halfway around the world and you’ll only see them twice a year (sniff). Maybe you’ll be close with them, or maybe your personalities will clash and you’ll argue and he or she will spend their whole life making choices specifically designed to piss you off.

You never know.

So boy or girl, you just have to raise the kid you were given. Let them be the person they are going to be; get to know them and appreciate them for who they are. Build as close a relationship as you can and keep them close for as long as you can.

And love your boys or girls, and tell those other people to screw off.

Mrs. Jackson If You’re Nasty

The other day I was watching Don’t Forget The Lyrics (don’t judge me!) and one of the songs was I Want You Back by the Jackson Five. Totally awesome song; when I hear it, I MUST dance.

Warning: The following video is HIGHLY addictive.

Also, I must say, I totally kicked it when it came to completing the lyrics.

Afterwards I went to the computer and watched the YouTube video like, a thousand times, and I realized while watching the Jackson Five that I didn’t really know who else was in the group other than Michael — I mean, I know they were all his brothers but I couldn’t name any of them. So I went to the Wikipedia page for the Jackson family to learn about them.

And did you know that Katherine Esther Jackson, Michael Jackson’s mother, had TEN children? TEN. There was one set of twins (which, sadly, resulted in the stillbirth of one of the two twins), so just nine pregnancies.

NINE. PREGNANCIES.

Just in case that doesn’t impress you, she had her nine pregnancies over the span of just 16 years. The age gaps between her kids go like this: a couple of weeks short of one year; two years, five months; one year, two months; one year, five months; just over TEN MONTHS; one year, five months; three years, two months; and then four and a half years down to little baby sister Janet.

That is just SO crazy. Twice she had babies before her previous baby turned one year old. Most of the other times, her older baby was less than a year and a half. Gal Smiley and Captain Jelly Belly are almost exactly 18 months apart and I remember at the time everyone saying to me, “Oh, you’re going to be so busy! Two babies!”

I’m thinking Mrs. Jackson probably wouldn’t have had a lot of sympathy for me.

Seriously, I do not think I could have survived that kind of toll on my body. Granted, she was much younger and (presumably) more energetic — she had her first baby at age 20. But still. Spending basically a whole decade pregnant. It boggles the mind, does it not?

She’s kind of my hero. Just for having lived through it.

In case you were wondering, the Jackson Five were Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael. Later younger brother Randy replaced Jermaine in a complicated record company switcheroo.

Man, I hope those boys are taking GOOD care of their momma.

Open Your Eyes

Last week, the husband of a gal on my ultimate team had a massive, unexpected heart attack. After several days in hospital, he passed away. He leaves behind a toddler son and a baby girl that will be born about a month from now.

We all feel terribly for our friend, of course, and we are going to do all we can to help her. But from a more selfish standpoint, this event has really shocked us and our circle of friends.

We comment all the time about how we’re getting old. We’re mostly in our late-30s and early-40s and that means grey hair, receding hairlines, creaky joints, and sore backs. We’re not so quick to heal and we can’t stay up past midnight anymore. We can’t eat endless junk food without developing stomach cramps and we now understand that those ads for eye creams and retinol-A are aimed at us.

It was funny, before. Now it seems really, really, real.

Sure, we felt our age starting to catch up with us. But most of us have very young children, and we didn’t really feel old. We didn’t think things like heart attacks happened to the likes of us. That was for a whole generation older. Things like high blood pressure and age-induced diabetes and glaucoma were for our parents. Or even our grandparents.

In fact, at our age it’s pretty common to still have both parents living, and maybe some grandparents too. To have someone in our circle pass away due to health issues is a major earthquake.

I guess I don’t really have many insights on this issue…it’s just that we all have been confronted suddenly with our own mortality and it’s a scary thing to contemplate. Now that I’m a parent, my biggest wish in life is to be healthy long enough to see my kids grow up. I want to be there for them for all the big events in their life, giving them love and guidance and support for as long as I can. I want to meet the people that they are going to become. I want to share their joy as they discover what their own lives are all about.

I wish. I hope. I pray. Fingers crossed.

Summer Nights

This evening was just the perfect summer night. Warm with a gentle hint of breeze; clear and sunny and not too buggy. It felt really precious, seeing has how it’s been a really cold and rainy August and it feels like we never really got to have a summer this year.

We had barbecue for dinner and then played outside in the backyard. I blew bubbles for Gal Smiley to chase, Captain Jelly Belly used the patio chairs to build a ramp for his Hot Wheels, and Sir Monkeypants pushed Little Miss Sunshine on the baby swing. It was just perfect.

This afternoon we had been out shopping and I spotted a woman who was helping her daughter buy stuff for residence — the daughter obviously getting ready to head off to university. I suddenly felt really scared and sad for the day when we won’t be together every single evening. Sometimes being a parent can be really challenging and frustrating and I think I can’t wait for the day when the kids are more independent and doing things on their own so I can have some peace and quiet and private time again. But today I really noticed how wonderful it is that we are all, by assumption, together all the time. After dinner we’ll all just go outside or for a walk or for a bike ride and we’ll be together, playing and talking and just being madly in love with each other. No one will have hockey practice to get to, no one will beg to go off to the mall with their friends, no one will slink off to their room to text message their buddies. No one will live somewhere far away, making a new family out of roommates and co-workers.

I think I’ve been taking these young years for granted.

On the plus side, however, this evening I saw the family that lives across the street from us — they have two daughters, ages 12 and 10 — sitting together on their front porch, laughing together and chatting. Later another family who lives on our street — they have a daughter and a son, about 15 and 14 — walked by, a family with teenagers spending their evening much the same as we do most summer nights.

So that was encouraging — we still have a few years of bonding and sharing ahead of us. Next time I’m having a hard day with the kids, though, I’ll come back and read this post and remember that it won’t last forever…sadly.

Crisis Of Faith

Today was a rough one. I almost quit my job.

It was one of those days when the Little Miss skips her afternoon nap, and so is cranky and fussy and completely demanding of my time all day. Gal Cranky and Captain Fussy Belly were at each other all day long, fighting and shoving and unable to get along at all. We didn’t leave the house all day, due to the threat of thunderstorms and the fact that we just had the yard sprayed with bad stuff, preventing us from even playing outside on the swingset. No one wanted to eat the food I cooked for dinner; no one wanted to colour or PlayDoh; no one wanted to ride bikes in the basement. Everything was BORING.

By the end of the day, we were all pretty much ready to throttle each other.

Late in the afternoon there was some talk of going to the park, and one kid said yes while the other said no, which is just SO typical, and while we were “discussing” it, Gal Smiley had a bit of a meltdown and kicked me in the head. I was pretty pissed about it, let me tell you.

Then, at bedtime, the Captain was playing a game in which he likes to sneak up behind me and tap me on the back, then run away before I can turn around, only for some reason this time, he chose to jab me in the kidneys with a toy hacksaw instead of the customary light tap, and I did NOT take it very well.

I had this epiphany moment where I thought to myself, “What the hell am I doing here? Why am I staying at home with them? What is the point?”

It’s definitely the first time I’ve ever thought that since the Captain was born. There have been some bad days — there have been VERY bad days — but I’ve always had the strength to try again, the desire to get up the next morning and have a better day.

Not so, this evening. This evening I’m thinking, “It’s time I got out of here. It’s time I went back to work. I’ve been cooped up too long, they’ve been cooped up too long, and we’re at the point where I’m doing more damage than good.”

I keep thinking about how they begged to go to day camp. How they continue to whine about not being able to go to school.

I keep thinking about how they all like Sir Monkeypants better. Because he has more patience for them now. Because he still has energy and enthusiasm for them. Because he doesn’t freak out and want to abandon them just because he gets kicked in the head or jabbed in the kidneys the odd time.

I keep thinking about how my whole day, every day, is a string of “no” and “don’t” and “stop.” “Stop hitting your sister.” “No, you can’t have more Froot Loops, you have to eat your dinner.” “Don’t you DARE even think about squirting that water gun in here!” “No, I can’t do that with you right now, I’m cooking/changing a diaper/sweeping the floor/trying not to cry.”

When is the “yes” time?

I swear, being a stay at home mom used to be fun. I used to take the kids to new places, we’d do fun and exciting things, there would be so much to talk about at the end of the day. I used to teach them things. I used to play with them. We used to talk about things.

Now I just feel drained most of the time. Like an ineffective disciplinarian who is the most unpopular person in her household.

It just feels so thankless. I’m having trouble believing that I’m doing good here. I’ve lost the faith.

I’m sure I’ll feel better about it in the morning. It’s probably just PMS talking. But for tonight…I’m thinking of quitting this Mom job.

Sad but Lucky, Lucky but Sad

A while back I blogged about a friend of mine whose year-old son has liver cancer. Today, there’s been bad news. He had been responding well to treatment and everyone was full of hope, but new scan results show that the cancer is back, and is worse. His doctors have stopped chemo and they are “weighing their options,” which I think means that there aren’t too many options left.

It’s such a terrible, terrible thing. I can’t even think about it without crying. How is it possible we live in a world where a one-year-old has to go through this kind of pain, this kind of treatment? What kind of world is it when parents and a four-year-old sister have to deal with this kind of sadness?

My mom used to say about me that I was born with a horseshoe up my butt, because I’m so incredibly lucky. (In case this makes you think less of my mother, you should know that this is just about the crudest thing I’ve ever heard her say.) It’s so true. My life is beautiful and wonderful and I am so, so lucky in every way. I have a great family and three happy, beautiful kids. Despite the Captain’s issues with food, his health is manageable and we have no doubt that we’ll get to see him and his sisters grow up into happy, beautiful adults. My husband is a great dad and takes good care of us. We can afford to eat and live in a nice house. We drink safe water and we can choose from a myriad of products at the grocery store.

Lucky, lucky, lucky.

At times like this I feel like such a poser, blogging about my stupid little life issues, like when to wean the Little Miss and how to get the Gal to stop sucking her fingers. As if the disagreement I had with Sir Monkeypants this morning over whether or not to have some gravel delivered today or tomorrow is as important as someone’s child dying. We are so incredibly lucky, anything that I have to complain about seems insignificant, meaningless. There is so much joy here, so much to be thankful for, so little reason to whine and bitch.

I wish I could do something for my friend and her son. Unfortunately they live a plane ride away, so all of my concrete ideas for helping out at their house are impossible. Instead they will have to make do with my thoughts and prayers and all the love I can send them.

I just wish I could send them a little bit of my good luck, too.