Funny Girl

How cool as a kid
To make your dad sincerely,
Genuinely, laugh.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I fancy myself funny at times. Not always, but many times I am able to get giggles from people.

Therefore, I take special pride in (and way too much credit for) the fact that my 9-year-old daughter, AP, is getting a good sense of humor.

Case in point. Tonight started our end-of-school-year search for the library books that never got returned. Each year about this time, we get a nasty-gram from the librarian about some book that everyone is sure was returned but for some reason wasn’t. AP complained that the book in question was lost because  “Dad threw it off the bed when he came to sleep with me the night I was scared”.

Frank, with some skepticism in his voice, said “When I threw it, did it enter another dimension?”

AP dead-panned: “Yes, yes it did.”

Later she went upstairs to make yet another pass at looking for the book. In my house when something is missing and the searcher does a pathetic job looking for the object and neither looks under or behind things, we call this ” ‘looking’ like a man”, a slam against most men who refuse to do more than peer helplessly about them in hopes the missing item will jump into their field of vision unaided.  I must admit that in my house, the women folk are worse about ” ‘looking’ like a man” than the men folk are, so keeping this in mind…   A few minutes later AP returned to the dinner table and declared she still couldn’t find the book.  Frank, again skeptically given her history of inept searches, said “You know what will happen when I go upstairs to look for the book, don’t you?” And AP, without missing a beat, said “Yes… it will magically appear from the other dimension.”

I couldn’t stop laughing.  That’s my girl.  Not only was her comedic timing perfect (which the retelling here really doesn’t do justice to), but it so beautifully explained all the other searchers where she came up short but Frank was successful. He has special access to another dimension giving him powers we women folk don’t have.

I must use this excuse myself…

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Grandma’s Rock – Caption Contest

Mothers who are grand
spread special love, wet kisses
secrets and treasure.

===========================

We lived for 3 years in England, so often I pretend to have insider knowledge of the English. Clearly, I don’t. But I do love keeping up with the Royal Family, especially as Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 60 years on the throne. I once saw her in Windsor Castle — about 100 yards away behind a large, iron fence… she was wearing a lime green suit on her way to the races as Ascot. I felt special, knowing we made a connection. (Actually I jumped up and down and pointed like a typical American.) At another event, she walked by 10 feet from my husband, who snapped a great picture of her. It sits proudly on our mantle, again, demonstrating that we are dorks.

With that background, I present to you my new favorite picture, found on abcnews.com.

princeharry_wideweb__470x360,0

Queen Elizabeth II smiles at Prince Harry as she inspects soldiers during Sovereign’s Parade at Sandhurst Military Academy April 12, 2006 in Surrey, England. (Tim Graham/Getty Images)

I have two reactions to the picture, beyond the fact that it is a new favorite.

One is that no matter who you are and what you do, your grandma is your grandma, and you better smile at her. The pride in her face is universal…and the embarrassed whimsy in Harry’s is priceless.  To find it captured so perfectly is amazing – one second either side of the moment, and you wouldn’t get half the meaning, have the impact.  I guess that’s what makes it such a great picture.

My second reaction centers on what was being said: what did grandma say to Harry at this moment? And even more fun, what did his friends, lined up and decidedly not smiling, say to him afterwards. That is the subject of today’s CAPTION CONTEST.

A: What did Queen Elizabeth II say right before this picture was taken?

B: What did Harry’s mates say later back in the barracks?

I can only come up with one:

Grandma Q: Your fly is open.

I’ll leave the rest to you all. Please contribute. No prizes, just fun reading…

Resilience Blooming (or Why My Daughter Rocks!)

Give her the freedom
To roam, fall, pick herself up
And watch strength blossom.
………………………………..
Today I dropped my 9-year-old daughter, AP, off early for a day trip through school. They were taking a bus up to the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus. She was beside herself… kept going on and on about the fancy bus with the plush seats, TV and bathroom. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the bathroom would have a smell unlike any other and really should be avoided or that she would discover that the nauseating bus fumes somehow clung inside your nose for days… She was just too excited at the prospects and the sheer adventure of it all — I didn’t want to spoil it.

Lately I’ve been sitting back watching AP blossom. I haven’t done many posts about my girl – somehow her 5-year-old brother with his public displays of boy part interest and dino obsessions make for more entertaining posts. But I am equally in awe of her.  There is something remarkable about witnessing her little moments of graceful resilience or the spurts of insightful humor that have taken me by surprise lately. I can hardly believe I’m managing to raise such a creature.

My favorite recent example centered on bike riding, an event I did not witness but heard about.  AP hasn’t taken to bike riding on two wheels. Although she accomplished this briefly 2+ years ago, she was almost immediately discouraged by an unexpected and somewhat scary fall (nothing major technically speaking, but emotionally shattering). Since then, she has made a few feeble attempts but her heart hasn’t been in it.

So a few weeks ago, when I got home, imagine my surprise when both kids rushed to meet me, overflowing with stories of 2-wheel triumph.  With dinner cooling on the table, they quickly helmet-ed up and demonstrated.  There were choruses of woo-hoos and fists pumps.  It was a glorious close of day for all.

And then I got the whole story.  Seems that earlier that afternoon, my boy insisted Frank take his training wheels off. A few wobbly pushes later and he had all but mastered two wheels, breezily peddling down our long driveway, dismounting, and waiting to be pushed off again. When AP realized her little brother had done it, succeeded where she had not yet, she was in fits of tears. “Really torn up,” according to her dad. But then she pulled it together, got on her bike, and made it work. Before I knew about her getting upset, I commented how impressed I was that she didn’t let his success bother her, which led her to confess that it did.  “I was really upset and cried a lot.  But then I got on the bike and just kept chanting to myself ‘if my stupid little brother can do this, so can I… if my stupid little brother can do this, so can I.’ And so I did. ” I laughed out loud. Grace under pressure. Resilience defined. I beamed at her.

I want her to be successful in all that she does – what parent doesn’t? But I’m realizing more and more how important the losses are.  That’s where she learns to shine. I’m as proud she learned how to channel her “pissed-off-ness” into some much-needed self-butt-kicking as I would be if she had easily mastered this years ago. Maybe a little more proud, because with age comes the self-awareness of defeat and the pinch of shame, both of which stop many of us cold more often than we care to admit. The sooner she learns how to work her way through that, relying on her own self, the more successful she will be.

So here’s to resilience. Here’s to using humor and stupid little brothers to motivate in times of need. And here’s to little girls blooming, teaching their moms by example, everyday.

Oh, Great… New Guilt (flavored with Gratitude)

(the following haiku must be spoken in your best wrestling announcer voice…)

It’s a G word fight!!
Guilt v. gratitude… cage match!
The victor? Stay tuned…
………………………………………………….

I work full-time and my husband stays at home with the kids (one in school full days, one in half days). He manages the household – laundry, cooking, grocery, a little cleaning, home and car repair. I bring home the bacon, manage the finances, do some yard work and also clean house when I’m sufficiently motivated (e.g. when company is coming).

This set up has been working for us for about 7 years. In those seven years, I’ve become thoroughly experienced in a variety of guilt:

– how much I like my job
– 7am conference calls that mean I don’t see the kids in the morning
– 8pm conference calls that mean I tuck the kids in at bedtime
– That between 7am and 8pm conference calls, I don’t give Frank as much attention as he deserves and I want
– How I don’t contribute very much to the non-financial aspects of this family
– That I can’t recall the last time I made it to a dentist appointment for the kids
– That the kids more or less like him as much as me now
– That he doesn’t get much time with people over 4 feet tall
– That when I get home from work sometimes all I want to do is hide under the bed and not talk to anyone or do anything, which means he never gets a break.
– Working out since I’m already not seeing the kids much

Well, friends, I have something new to feel guilty about, and it is an interesting role reversal guilt: Frank has gotten a job.

We’ve always known this would happen. Long ago we decided that once our youngest started full-time school, Frank would return to work. We need the income to support some choices we’ve made (namely private school). And it would be nice to take a vacation to someplace other than my parents’ house. And our savings account is quite dusty… You get the idea.

But now the time has come. He job hunted, found his engineering skills still very marketable, and has a great new job starting in a month. The kids know that he is going back to work. Here is just a sampling of what I’ve heard them say over the last few weeks:

–         But who is going to take care of us (because clearly we are now going to just leave them home alone…)
–         But I’ll miss daddy
–         But daddy has always been the mom
–         But I don’t want him to go back to work

So now on top of all the other guilt that I’m experienced in, I now get to add the “I don’t make enough money to fully support us and now the kids are sad because dad has to work” guilt. Wow, that’s a fun one. Now, no one is making me feel this way. Frank hasn’t overtly said: hey, would you please make more money?  But would he rather not have to get a job that makes $XYZ and instead do something that makes some ill-defined amount of money and is super flexible? Sure he would.  And the funny thing is, I would too. These last few weeks, as we’ve managed kid and adult sickness, job interviews, extra yard work, new spring activities for the kids, doctor appointments, etc etc., it has become very clear to me how much I’ve come to rely on his flexibility and the work he does around the house.

I’m also feeling a wee bit guilty about the nugget of resentment I’m realizing I have because him going back to work is going to mean more “work” for me, too. (that has to be the most bizarre sentence structure ever) I’ve truly benefited from him handling the daily stuff and now I’ll have to handle some of it too.  Laundry, picking up around the house, grocery shopping, post office visits, and on and on.  (Again, I’ve always “known” how much he handles at an intellectual level, but the last two weeks I’ve felt it “real time”.)  The concept of taking what little discretionary time I have in the evenings and dividing it up across more chores is not a thought I enjoy lingering on.

Part of me keeps snarking at myself: you have a great job that you love, your kids are healthy, your husband is a saint; boo hoo hoo, you have to work around the house some more so you can have your private school/vacation cake and eat it too; cry me a river.  I get that. I respect that. All good points.

That’s why I’m pleased the majority of me has been realizing how much gratitude I feel for Frank.  He graciously, and with almost no debate, pulled himself from the workforce to do right by the kids and our life during the last 7 years.  He doesn’t complain unreasonably. When I’m beat and want to hide under the bed when I get home, he diverts the kids’ attention so I can do just that. He reminds me that we are a team… I have my role and he has his, and together is how it all gets done. And now that he is the one having to change it up (again!) he’s been totally cool.

So I think it is time to end the G word versus G word battle raging in my head these last few weeks, and remind myself what my friend Lynette told me many years ago – guilt is a useless emotion. (I’ve also really enjoyed reading Becky and Susan’s posts over at Working Moms Against Guilt about their recent transitions – very inspiring; so nice to know I’m not alone.) Instead, I will keep gratitude high in my awareness and enjoy watching this family explore new routines and responsibilities (the kids have no idea that they are going to get tapped to do more around here… announcing that should be fun…). We’ll figure it out.

A New Definition of Normal (Not for the Squeamish)

First the dog threw up…
on the kid…. and then the kid
threw up… on the dog.*

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When work gets a little nutso, I tend to call my husband. His voice just seems to lower my blood pressure and remind me what really matters. Today was like that: I called him as I was heading to a meeting and told him “I just need a little normal”. He laughed, wondering how bad it must be if the happenings at our home seemed normal, but proceeded to tell me about his morning, AB’s morning, etc. And then he told me about our “normal” dog.

Seems Lily the wonder poodle went out to poop this morning, very normal indeed, but then she pooped two or three more times while in the yard. That’s not normal. When she finally came back in, Frank noticed that she still had poop hanging out of her bottom. Again, not at all normal; in fact, a little alarming since this has happened a few times in the last few days.  Then he shared the best part of all: as he was pulling the poop off her bottom, he pulled a paper towel out of her ass.

Half sheet.

Totally intact.

And after he did this, he proceeded to pull a second half sheet paper towel out of her ass. It appears that just like a canister of wet wipes, when you remove one, the next one pops up, waiting to be extracted.

Oh my god. I don’t think normal will ever be the same again.

We then had a great time with the puns. It is no longer “select a sheet” but “select a shit”.  Plus, the new selling line is the “quicker pooper-upper”. This went on for several minutes and I encourage you to add your own thoughts in the comments section.  He then threatened to rinse them out and lie them side by side with other slightly used paper towels to see if I could tell the difference. The call ended soon thereafter.

(For those of you wondering why I feed my dog paper towels… we caught her red-handed on Sunday licking the “breakfast-bacon-draining-paper-towels” which she had fished out of the garbage; had no clue she had already scarfed down two.)

Anyway, before I ended the call, I proclaimed my continuing appreciation for my husband and his willingness to deal with these types of situations. (I would have collapsed immediately upon noticing the fluffy end sticking out; he doesn’t rattle near as easily.) I returned to spread sheets and conference calls, but kept reflecting on the visual image of him, with the kids mesmerized by his side,  pulling out the paper towels like a magician fishing scarves from inside his clenched fist. I’m sure people wondered why I kept smiling.

(Note: Thanks to Frank for the wet wipes and magician metaphors! Stolen with his full knowledge.)

(*by the way, only the first 8 syllables are truth; the rest is just funny to visualize)

Shift Eating

The sound of the whine
Drills into my brain, turns left,
Rappels down my spine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I like to make a nice meal for Sunday dinner. It was something my mom always did (still does), and as often as I have the energy and inclination, I try to do the same. Today I had a special treat in mind – leg of lamb. The kids will eat lamb, so we make it every so often. Tonight it was paired with home made mashed potatoes, pan gravy and some vegetables. I was having fun being domestic.

And then my little boy, AB, aged 5, started. “Mom, I’m hungrrrrryyyyyy,” went the whine. I offered several snack options but none seem to meet his desires (shocking). For 45 minutes he kept on me but I stayed firm: “You can have more fruit, but that’s it… no, that includes no hot dogs, I’m making a nice dinner.”

And at 6:45 I pulled the lamb from the simmering oven where it was setting up, cut its little string bag open and discovered it was half raw. Now, I like rare lamb, but there is a distinct difference between rare and raw; this was still very much on the raw side of that line.

So a decision was made: we’ll eat the potatoes and veg now, give everyone a bath, and then come back for meat and dessert. (Meat and dessert, now there’s a restaurant idea…)

And the whining continued. “I don’t want any meat… I just want dessert”… “Do I have to take a bath?”…  “But I’m fuuullllllll!”  Even my 9 year old girl joined the whine fest.

And it hit me: Now I know why people feed their kids at 6pm, put them to bed and then have a civilized meal without children. I’ve always known about such practices, but just had never fully appreciated the benefits of such tactics. (As usual, I judged them just a wee bit as inferior parents who don’t really like their children.) Now I felt a reluctant kinship with these people. Here I was in the middle of an awkward meal mishap. Why in god’s name didn’t I shove chicken nuggets down their gullets at 6pm and save myself the pain and frustration of a two shift meal with reluctant diners.

We’ll see what happens… Frank has the kids upstairs bathing them. I’m tending the roast and making cookies, armed now with my meat thermometer and a few bites of raw cookie dough, hoping that once the roast sets up the temp will rise. They better damn well eat at least a bite of the blasted lamb.

Post script: Lamb was perfect and yummy. Kids enjoyed it. They are now in bed… ahhh, the silence.

Dad, Now I Understand

My parent’s wisdom:
fits better with age, although
acknowledged too late.

………………………………………………………..

The title of this posting is one of the hardest to see in writing. Who wants to admit their parent may actually have a valid point? Granted, it is far easier to acknowledge in my 40’s than in 20’s, but still, it ain’t easy. This one especially…

me and dad - no stress here! I love you dad!

One of my least favorite memories as a child (and there are very few of these) was when my dad, completely frustrated by the fact that I wasn’t ready for school yet and we were very late, left without me. My recall of this event centers on me trying hard to get ready, but being foiled by my inability to fasten my sandals: the strap was the type with the holes in it, and you had to push the floppy pin into it and thread the end of the strap through the buckle. Know which I mean?  The single most complicated system for children who are struggling with fine motor skills, the inventor of which was a complete dick? Anyway, I was really having a hard time, almost in tears because I couldn’t make it work, and he walked out the door.

(Before you scream child abuse, my grandmother lived with us… I wasn’t alone or in danger.)

Again, my recall of this event, which is shadowy and tortured because, well, I was 6, is a little dodgy. I believe (but am not sure) I walked to school, which was 3 blocks away through residential neighborhoods; I had to cross two streets (again, not complicated or dangerous). I was exceptionally responsible, even back then — even if I couldn’t get my shoe on, I knew that not going to school wasn’t an option, so I made it happen. And in that moment, my little 6-year-old brain vowed to never, ever leave my kid like dad did.

Flash forward several decades to the early years with my first-born, AP. I recall being at the mall and hearing other moms bribe their children into attentiveness with the phrase “I’m going to leave without you, Stephen! Get over here now!!”. I would stand there, judging these moms, disdainfully thinking to myself how horrible they were for promising abandonment. I told myself that I would only ever threaten that which I would actually do, and I would never, ever leave my child.

Flash forward again to the present and this first-born is now 9 years old. She is a highly capable young person. She has 2 arms and 2 legs. She seems to do well in school or has learned how to bribe her teachers into saying so (either of which indicates a fairly high level of thinking/problem solving skills). She is potty trained and regularly feeds herself. And yet, she seems incapable of getting her god damned shoes and socks on without being told one thousand, two hundred and sixty-six times each effing morning.

You know what’s coming… I almost left her the other day. I was beside myself pissed off. We live 2 minutes from school – and my husband can easily take the kids on mornings I’m not able to – but when I plan on it, and she is huckity-pucking around petting the dog or counting the rice crispies that fell on the floor during breakfast… well, let’s just say my patience runs a wee bit thin.

That morning, in a seething fit of “through my teeth” talking (would.you.get.your.blasted.shoes.on.now!), I realized with a pang of horror and remorse that I, gulp, now fully and completely understood why my father had left on that day so many years ago. I now believe that had he not left he would have done or said something horrid. Something that I was fully prepared to say at that very moment.

In the end, I took a ragged breath and stood up straight (I had assumed a hunched monkey position, so that I could look her in the eye with that “don’t eff with mommy today” look). I slowly turned, walked out the back door and went to the car. “Walk out and she will come, walk out and she will come,” I thought to myself. And you know what? She did.

And then she left again because she had forgotten something.

I let out an anguished scream as she bolted for the house; lucky for her she was back in a flash (the car was already in reverse).  And after my little “in the rear view mirror so you only see my narrowed eyes and furrowed brow” speech about her responsibility-each-morning-old-enough-to-handle-this-without-being-told-a-million-times, we came to an understanding. So far, so good — or I should say, so far the required number of shoes and socks reminders hasn’t exceeded the low double digits.

I still have a hard time with the “do this or I’ll leave you” approach to child behavior management as it really pangs me to think about it from the kid’s perspective. But I now have far more compassion for my dad’s actions in that moment than I have had for the last 38 years.

My 7 1/2 Minute Lesson

For how much longer
will his little hand seek mine,
earnestly, in love?
”””””””””””””””””””””’
At work today there was a celebration – a “thank you” for everyone for their hard work. One feature was free chair massages, and I happened into the room where they were set up just as a cancellation came in. Bonus! I got my massage straight away.

It was a very good one. She instantly found the knot in my shoulder-blade that keeps lighting off every time I lift my arm. She had a firm but gentle touch. I could hardly believe I was at work.

And then I started to worry… how long had she been at this…were my 15 minutes up yet… wait, was that a “wrap up” move… she’s working on my hands, that must mean she is almost done…damn, I wish this could go longer… 15 minutes is so short…I wonder if I can have another appointment…

And that’s how I ruined the chair massage. I spent half the time in my head asking myself all these questions and worrying about the next moment. I wasn’t enjoying the massage itself or how relaxed I was able to get. I was thinking and thinking and thinking.

In a flash of insight, I realized a terrible parallel and asked myself a question I didn’t want to answer: How much of my life do I spend not in the moment, enjoying the sensations, but “in the worry”, anticipating what’s next? The answer? A lot. And I’m not ruining chair massages with this worry, I’m missing the small, intimate moments with those I cherish most. I have worked a lot harder the last 3-4 months to be more present with my husband and kids. To not work through my “to do” list mentally while with them. To actually just hang out and watch TV and not also feel compelled to dust or straighten up at the same time.  To not ask about what’s next while in the middle of what’s now. It has been hard.  I’m not used to that level of intensity and focus (or, for that matter, self forgiveness for things not completed). I am the product of our times, addicted to moving from one thing to the next, not penetrating (with attention or action) any one thing very long. Or worse, I’m a guilt-ridden working mom trying to do a little of everything to seem like I’m able to handle it all.

But my 15 minutes in the chair helped me understand the tragedy of this. Here I was at a physical level, feeling the difference between a massage where I was present and one where I was worried — and the difference was astounding.  I grew sad that I never fully recognized how diminished my mental, emotional and/or spiritual engagement was in other situations where I was sacrificing my present focus.

I know I’ve been doing better, being more present, and yet I still have capacity for more.   I’ve decided I’m done ruining the metaphorical chair massages of every day life.

Am I being replaced?

Sitting here jealous
of homework and puppy walks.
I don’t wanna work.

”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

The change has been quite subtle… My daughter would run to Dad as much as me when she hurt herself and needed comfort. And then the kids would call me Dad (granted, they would call him Mom).  But a few weeks ago was the hardest blow… my stay-at-home-dad-husband did a very mom thing. He was thoughtful. As in “full of thought”. He thought ahead, planned and did something for one of the kids that officially granted him entry into mom-hood.

I was devastated.

I’m ok being called Dad. Hell, I go through a rolodex of names when I talk to my kids too. But I always saw myself as occupying unique space as “The Mom”. I thought ahead enough to buy the birthday gift before day of the party.  I realized that my girl was sad and needed comfort before the tears arrived.  I was sensitive, I was interpreting what was important and I was acting to avoid a problem. And dammit if he didn’t do just that.

If I were honest with myself, I’d admit that I was hoping this would happen. It can be exhausting being the only one who thought this way and I often bemoan (in my own petty little head) that he “just doesn’t get it”. But I’d be lying if I didn’t take some martyr like satisfaction from thinking no one could do this job but me; that no matter what, I am mom and therefore better. And slowly now I’ve had to get used to sharing the spot light.

When we both worked, no matter what, I was still the chief parent.  We only had the one kid then, and she preferred me; I made a lot of the rules; I made a lot of the kid decisions (yes, some exaggeration, but not a lot…I’m not a wench, it just mostly works out that way when you’re the mom, right?).  And then, he became chief parent, he was in charge most of the time – and I tumbled in stature.  It was very hard for me to get used to.  Still, I lived off the fact that both kids would prefer to hang out with me rather than with dad if given the choice.  And I was sure I still had a unique skill set that the Y chromosome was incapable of duplicating.

Snf snf. I was wrong. I’ll get over it.  Statistically speaking he was bound to do something like that at some point, and it hasn’t happened again since then so there’s still hope. But there’s no going back.  Right now, and likely for a while, this is the right choice for our family, all things considered. My life is blessed and I’m more settled right now then I’ve been in a while, much in part to how wonderfully this set up is working.  It’s just that the view is different from this position and I’m not sure I’ll ever be totally ok with that…

Puppy Pirates – the Art of Conversation with a 5 year old (Part 2)

There are no pit stops
On McTalker’s race track: just
Go fast and turn left.

———————————————————

Thanks for coming back to read part 2 of Puppy Pirates.  First, how have tactics one and two been working for you?  The Last Noun Volley and Big Muscle Maneuver can be quite helpful so I hope you give them a try.  And since it is fairly obvious from those first two tips that I’m not up for Mother of the Year again this year, I’ll continue with my final tactics, 3 and 4.

Tactic #3 – Character Acting

Pretty straight forward, this one is:  talk through the toys. AB got several Imaginext Dinos for Christmas (pause for a review – they are wonderful! Highly recommend). The velociraptor’s mouth opens and closes – the only one which does that. So when AB wants to talk and play and play and talk (and all I want to do is veg out, but realize I haven’t spent any time with the little guy), I grab this velociraptor and use him like a puppet.  Moving his mouth and talking at the same time can be highly entertaining.  I get to be someone else – kind of cranky and dino-like (sooo unlike my normal character) – and I get to amuse myself being witty. (Pathetic, I know…)

These types of conversations are never as funny or interesting in the retelling as in the moment itself, so instead, let me capture the critical elements:

image from Fisher-Price website

  1. Repeat to your kid something annoying they always say to you, in character. “No, I won’t wanna do that; I wanna do this! Stop touching me! Mine!”
  2. Build in an inside joke with your husband as you speak through the toys… engages the “trying to be clever-er than you” part of your brain, which likely needs some exercise anyway.   You can also try some double entendre (wow, what that hard to spell) with him, unbeknownst to the kids, and double the fun.
  3. Let your shadow side peek out. My velociraptor is part Eeyore.  He complains a lot. Doesn’t want to participate. Goes off in a huff sometimes.  Watching my son employ all the same approaches I try with him when he’s in a mood is great affirmation that he’s at least paying some attention.

I forgot to mention that tactic #3 is actually fun – way more so than just picking up a dino and moving it around… Taking over the character requires more adult brain, plus I get to mess with my kid, which is never bad.

Tactic #4 – Silent Treatment/Change the Subject

As the mothers of boys reading this know, our angels can sometimes be a little gruesome. The other day while in the drugstore (that place brings out the best in him), AB was singing about Frosty the Snowman… “with a button nose and two eyes made out of blood”. I’m not kidding. Where in the hell does he get this? I asked, and he said someone at school said it. (Yeah right, I’m thinking…). Anyway, after a polite request to not say that because it is gross, I was rewarded with higher volume during the next chorus.

Employ tactic #4: the silent treatment. Ignore him. We all know this, but I too often forget that this is such an easy way to move the conversation forward. Only takes about 30 seconds. And then you pop up enthusiastically about another topic: So, when are you going to play puppy pirates again?

And he’s off again…. Flapping and fluttering at 75 mph.  Truth be told, I’m happy to be along for the ride, even if it is exhausting.

A few last points.  If you are the mother of girls, you are probably frightened by all this. I’m sorry. I was too as my first is a girl and I was totally unprepared for mothering a boy. I promise you I will do my best to raise a wonderful man, but you have to get through the high energy, sometimes-gross boy to get there. Leave it to me…   Also, don’t tell anyone, but some of these same tactics (especially number one) work beautifully with the self-centered friend who always calls you to see how you are and then hogs the entire conversation.  Wait for the breath, repeat the last noun, and she’ll be off again, no worries; you can get back to the crossword.  And lastly a caution: I’ve also tried this same tactic with my husband (see this post) with less success because frankly he’s usually looking straight at me and able to read the visual clues, thus figuring out that I’m totally not engaged. Oh well, worth a try.

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