Saturday, May 28, 2016

Firstborn Son

Wednesday night, we walked up the hill to Pete's school for his music night. It's nice that his school is right around the corner, but it is literally on the top of a steep uphill climb that had us all winded and hot by the time we got there. 

We arrived early and had a few minutes to wander the halls and see some of Pete's recent artwork. One is definitely a keeper, a painting of a cherry blossom tree. After we guided Peter to his classroom where he joined his peers prior to the performance, we found seats in the school cafeteria which had been set up as an impromptu auditorium. Pete told us to sit stage left, and as the kids filed in to take their places on the risers facing the audience, we discovered why. We were right in front of Pete's class.

The music teacher guided the classes through a few uninspired numbers. Honestly, nothing will compare to the time Pete dressed as a swan and danced to Korean hip-hop in Chennai. Though their rendition of "This Land is Your Land" was rousing and enthusiastic enough to bring a tear to my eye (which isn't saying much these days; I remember I was incredibly tired from a mostly sleepless Tueaday night and almost brought to tears by music on my earphones both coming to and going from work on the Metro).

We walked everyone back down the hill afterwards and hurried everyone through a quick dinner and showers. We've fallen into a routine--mostly out of necessity, partly out of me working nights some weeks--of only showering or bathing every other night. Usually only the sweatiness or dirtiest kid will get to shower. By the end of a long, hot day it's just one more battle neither Elise or I are willing to suit up for. 

Sometimes bedtimes can be short and sweet. Most times, it is a test of wills no gladiator or Spartan would be willing to take on. They insist their not tired in between gaping yawns. Elise insists the bedtime routine is smoother when I'm not home, that her adherence to regiment has them all in bed and asleep by 7:00. They know they're not going to get any concessions from her.

Me, on the other hand...I'm too much a softie. Elise accuses me of caving to all of their demands. No matter how ludicrous. From their beds, they whine that they are hungry, thirsty, can't sleep, and are bored. They want me to lay with them. I've gotten better. I tuck them in, sometimes say prayers, depending on how tired I am, kiss them goodnight, and get hem a sip of water. I know it sounds like a lot. But I've really cut back. 

Wednesday night, after Peter's performance and art show, where he was the center of attention for the night, Sam was feeling a little left out. I am the hardest on Sam and heap the most praise on Petey. I know I do it, and I try to treat them more equal. I believe it has a lot to do of my high expectations of Sam, a standard I don't hold Peter to, but I would never be able to explain that to them, so Wednesday night, I decided to lie in bed with Sam for a few minutes before he fell asleep. 

As he smuggled into my arms, I whispered in his ear, telling him that he would always be my firstborn son, that even if we had 12 more children, he would still be the firstborn and that made him special and it was something no one would ever be able to take away from him and something that would never change. He seemed to find great comfort in these words.

I remember my dad saying something similar to me once. I don't remember why or what the circumstances were that prompted him to tell me this, but I remember, too, finding great comfort in this sentiment. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rain Rain Go Away

Yes, it is still raining.

In fact, it rained all weekend. Pete's soccer game on Saturday was cancelled (again). We did get in some much needed down time and everyone took naps on Saturday, because--frankly--there was nothing else to do.

On Sunday, after a morning of building legos, we headed into town to meet the Looslis at the National Building Museum. The building itself is impressive (it's where they host the inaugural balls), but there aren't a lot of exhibitions, though there is a fun section with kids with building toys.

The best of the museum is that it has a enormous atrium where you can pretty much let the kids run wild which is exactly what they needed after a weekend (or month!) of being stuck inside.

Field Trip to Hard Bargain Farm

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tooth Fairy Lost

This story was actually told to me by Elise. When I get home late from closing shift, Elise and I sit on the couch and relate our evenings to one another. Her evening is usually much more interesting than mine.

I didn't expect Elise to wait up for me. She doesn't every night. Some nights I get done very late. One night this week, I didn't leave the office until 10:00 and wasn't at home and in bed until after 11:00. But some nights, I'll receive a text message from Elise in the early evening, after the kids are in bed. She's going to do yoga. On those nights, when I come home the door to her office is closed and I can smell incense. I quietly walk downstairs and change my clothes. Sometimes, I'll grab a beer. Last night, when I thought I messed up one of our principal's papers and after reading the most depressing story eve on Human of New York on pediatric cancer, I needed two. 

On the nights I'm not done too late and Elise has done yoga, we'll sit on the couch. If it's warm enough, the living room window will be open behind us. The breeze will move through the large trees around our house, and cars will pass--many times too fast--up and down our street, high school kids coming home from late practices or pizzas being delivered. I'll grab a beer, and Elise will grab a glass of wine in a small glass we saved from Brazil or India (I can't remember) that they sold tomato sauce in and Elise saved. Which is a good thing, since Peter accidentally broke our last Reidel wine glass. When he did, he immediately burst into tears. But I wasn't mad. How could I be? I'd personally broken at least four or five simply by trying to hand wash them. 

Some nights--many recently--it will be raining or the wind will be blowing more forcefully than usual. It's nice sitting with the windows open, regardless of how loud our neighbor gets sometimes at night, trucks backing up, endlessly beeping as though they were really going to back someone over or John, an ex-Marine, practicing the trumpet next door. Sitting with the windows open is something we couldn't do in India. For many reasons. Not the least of which were the stifling heat that India is again having to deal with this year or mosquitoes.

After school that day, she took the kids to the Starbucks by our house for an after school treat. Peter got a sausage and egg sandwich. He argued with his siblings who wanted a bite. He wanted the whole thing to himself. He took a bite, and Elise her him crunching on something. She initially thought it was a piece of gristle in the meat. She grabbed the bite of sausage out of his mouth with a napkin and threw it into the garbage.

Only after she did that, did she notice the small amount of blood in his mouth.

He had been chewing on his tooth.

When Elise told Peter that he lost his tooth, he burst into tears right in the middle of Starbucks. She took him to the bathroom (having to abandon Sam and Clementine. No doubt it's a felony offense to leave one's child unattended in Starbucks while you take another one of your children to the bathroom. As though they might get into the caffeinated drinks by themselves). She cleaned him up there, and he was mostly better.

Later, at the house, he would lament the loss of his tooth, again breaking down into tears. As you may recall Peter has not had his two front top teeth since Brazil. Now, he doesn't have his two front bottom teeth either. I honestly don't know how he chews anything. There's a black hole in his mouth that just sucks food and drink into its gravitational well.

He said something about not being able to defend himself (evidently, he also thinks of himself as a wolverine or other biting critter?) without teeth and his teeth being his soul. The boy feels deeply.

The tooth fairy forgot to come. We had to elaborate upon the myth by saying the tooth fairy only knows to look under pillows, so if there's no tooth (or no note), she doesn't know to leave money.
We're not being cheap! Honest. But when you establish lore, you have to follow through for the sake of consistency, lest the tale unravel.

Pete has yet to write a note, so I stay a few dollars richer in the interim. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Date Day

Many couples have date nights. When Uncle Bill and Aunt Jackie were in town, we did get to sneak away for a few hours for dinner at Hank's Oyster Bar in the city, but that was a rare occasion. 

We haven't very many date nights recently, so we've had to play catch up by having date days!

When I am on closing shift, I don't have to go into the office until 1:00 in the afternoon, so on Monday, Elise and I went for a (very slow!) three mile run, then to the grocery store. I know, it may not seem very romantic, but Elise and I haven't spent a lot of time during daylight hours without little ones nipping at our heels. Most times Elise tries to talk to me when the kids aren't sleeping, I find myself having to divide my attention between her and at least one or two kids. Now, we can have conversations about her work and collaborations without having to stop and get juice for someone or wipe a tizu!

Spring Family Fun Night

Tonight was Spring Family Fun Night at Clem's school. Unfortunately, I had the closing shift and couldn't go, but Elise sent me a few snapshots below.

The kids were encouraged to dress in farm wear. Elise knew going into it that was going to be a tall order. There was catered Chick Fil'A and--as you can see--the petting zoo was a big hit. 

Oh no....Clem and a pony.