Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Gift that Keeps on Giving (Me a Headache)

There is always that one toy.

The toy that I should have bought 3 of or none of because all the children want to play with that one toy.

Right now, that one toy is a pink polka dot stroller.
Adorable softie doll custom-made by Dunlap Love!!
Yes, my 2 boys and little girl are all fighting over the dainty doll stroller.

I didn't see this coming.

Elise is shocked at this raucous behavior.

I grew up with all sisters, so boys are still somewhat of a mystery to me (must they wrestle ALL DAY LONG??) My husband only had a brother, which is probably why he is still can't wrap his brain around the difference between a curling iron and a flat iron, no matter how many times I try to explain it. (Yes, I need them both and no, they are not the same.)

All that to say, ever since we found out we were having a girl, we've wondered how our family dynamic might look different from how we each grew up.

Will our daughter be more rough and tumble from having brothers? Will the boys grow up with a better understanding of girls from having a sister? Will she like trains? Will he play with her dolls? Will they even have any interest in each other's toys?

Up until this Christmas our house has been mostly devoid of girly toys, mainly because after the first baby the house is so full of toys that there is no need to run out and buy new things for the next baby. Also, babies, no matter the gender, are equally excited over a car or doll or paper bag. Actually, they are probably most excited over the paper bag. So, Elise has spent most of her life contentedly playing with action figures and ninja swords and paper bags...until this Christmas.

After living in a house filled with boy toys for the past 21 months, Elise was thrilled to finally get some girly stuff of her own for Christmas. Actually, thrilled is probably an understatement. Her euphoria could be compared to someone who has found an oasis after wandering the desert for nearly 2 years...a pink oasis filled with Disney princesses, that is.

She spent Christmas morning joyfully taking every toy she owns on a walk around the house in her brand new pink polka dot stroller, her new purse hanging from one of the handles, fully stocked with baby bottles and play makeup.

After she ran out of toys she raided the pantry and took the goldfish crackers for a stroll.

It wasn't long before the boys took notice of these new pink playthings and decided to test them out for themselves.

Henry spent time wheeling his new dinosaurs around the house.

Jack decided to "be the Daddy" and helped Elise take her babies for a walk. At one point he answered her new Minnie Mouse cell phone like this: "What is it, Boss? I'm with my wife right now! We're busy with the kids! I'll come in to work this afternoon."

Maybe I should have bought the boys their own strollers a long time ago. Who knew a simple baby carriage would prompt them to be so nurturing? Maybe having a sister will inspire them to be more in touch with their feminine side! Maybe my son won't grow up and make the mistake of telling his wife to "take off her sensitivity jacket." A-HEM.

And then the game "Motorcycle Smash" was invented. Motorcycle Smash involves no actual motorcycles, but boy is there a lot of smashing. In the game of Motorcycle Smash, one brother furiously pushes the stroller while the other brother runs for his life, the object of the game being for the pusher to catch the runner and trample over him with the stroller/motorcycle until there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth. And then they switch.

I decided that one stroller will suffice for this family.

Now we are practicing patience as each child waits for his or her turn to take a baby for a walk or play a riveting game of Motorcycle Smash or participate in the newest game, "Stroller Stair Punch."

At first I thought Elise would be upset to see her precious stroller punched down the stairs.

She was not.

Families that are raising all boys or all girls certainly have their own distinctive dynamic. Growing up, my sisters and I were profoundly feminine. Our house was like a mecca for Cabbage Patch Kids, Popples and My Little Ponies. We choreographed multiple dance routines to the vocal stylings of Mariah Carey or Amy Grant and all of our Barbies were involved in a continuous soap opera that lasted for years. Our favorite color was glitter. I have never ever seen an episode of He-Man or Thundercats and I don't remember ever owning any sporting equipment besides rollerblades. Our home was a pink paradise. (Needless to say, 6 years ago my dad was ecstatic to find out he was getting a grandson.)

Still, even though I doubt I will ever watch my kids perform a glorious reenactment of The Little Mermaid at the pool, I am looking forward to the best of both worlds.

I am excited to see how the sugar and spice mixes with the snakes and snails to create our own unique family recipe. I'm not only talking about embracing the differences in boys and girls; boys and girls are different, but each child has his or her own individual personality too.

What I'm saying is they all want to play with the stroller for different reasons. Personally, I hope that they can learn from each other's games and be inspired by each other's ideas and use the stroller in ways they would have never thought of on their own.

Metaphorically speaking, of course. Cause right now they are mostly just fighting and arguing and yelling about the actual stroller. In fact, I had to put the stroller away for while for safety reasons, because if I had to endure one more game of Motorcycle Smash, I was going to be the one doing the smashing.

But don't worry, I'm sure they'll find something new to fight over in no time.

En garde!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Three is More Terrible Than Two

I want to know who came up with the phrase "terrible twos."

I want to know so I can show up on that guy's doorstep with my 3-year-old and say Ta-da! Now come up with a phrase for THIS!

Sure, half the time 3-year-olds are these cute little munchkins with constant crumbs around their mouths, who put their shoes on backwards and can't pronounce their r's, but then, at the slightest provocation, they transform into tiny snarling, wailing creatures and their poor parents are left completely bewildered as to what set them off. It's like living with a miniature Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Let me paint a picture with a scene that happened at my house yesterday:
Dr. Jekyll: I want a grill cheese sammich and a ba-lana for lunch, pleeeeese.

Mommy: Ok, Sweetie, here is a grilled cheese sandwich and banana just for you!


Of course, two-year-olds sometimes throw irrational tantrums as well, but two-year-olds will be over the whole incident in about 2 minutes, while three-year-olds make like elephants and NEVER FORGET.

A few hours after the horrific Grilled Cheese Incident my three-year-old was back to his normal, silly self and was happily rummaging through our costume collection with his five-year-old brother. They looked so adorable in their mismatched superhero ensembles, I whipped out my phone to take a picture.

Mommy: Say cheese!

5-year-old: Cheese!


On his third birthday. I believe he is flashing the 3-year-old gang sign in this picture.
In order to be initiated, members must find ways to make their mothers cry before 10am. 

Being a three-year-old is rough. Besides the unexpected cheese in one's grilled cheese sandwich, there are many other distressing grievances that arise each day in a three-year-old's life which may prompt an appearance from tiny Mr. Hyde.

For example, here are some extremely devastating things that happened to my 3-year-old today:
-His graham cracker broke
-Christmas was not today
-The leaves on the ground were too crunchy
-His banana broke
-Mommy tried to join in the song he was singing
-He didn't get to press the button on the blender
-He wanted the granola bar in the blue wrapper, not the green wrapper
-No, actually he wanted the granola bar with the little man on it that is on the shelf at the grocery store
-He had to settle for the granola bar in the blue wrapper
-It broke

There were no sharks in his book about butterflies. 

You see, the world can be a very cruel place to three-year-olds. And by world I mean Mommy. And by place I mean Mommy. Mommy can be a very cruel Mommy to 3-year-olds. All the injustices are the fault of Mommy. The three-year-old motto might as well be "When life hands you lemons, throw them at Mommy."

The difference between three-year-olds and younger toddlers basically boils down to this:
Two-year-olds color on the walls because PRETTY!
Three-year-olds color on the walls because REVENGE!!!! You had it coming, Mommy! I can't believe you let my granola bar break!!

When my oldest was three he locked me out of the house so he could eat an entire bag of gummy bears. He wolfed down handfuls of candy, glaring triumphantly at me as I angrily pounded on the window. It was only after the empty bag lay crumpled on the floor that he opened the door and said, "But Mommy, I was SO HUNGWY!" You see, I had just served him a "wusgusting" lunch of grapes and a crustless turkey sandwich, which he refused to even taste. Eating the bag of gummy bears was necessary to ward of impending starvation. And, bonus, it really ticked Mommy off.

But don't worry, fellow parents of "threenagers," there are some perks to having a three-year-old. For instance, they are a lot more independent.

They are now able to dress themselves. Unfortunately, they have very specific opinions about fashion and usually end up looking like an escaped mental patient.

Henry decided to go with an animal-themed outfit at the library. Mrs. Frizzle would be proud.
At three they are now potty-trained or in the process of being potty-trained. Or at least they are currently rejecting all attempts at potty training, no matter the amount of cajoling, threats or bribery from desperate parents (can you guess which camp we are in right now?). Anyway, potty-training is great because changing diapers is the worst. It's so much easier to constantly ask them every 15 minutes "do you have to pee-pee?" and they always say "no, I just dancing!" and then 2 minutes later there is a giant puddle soaking into the very expensive sofa. So great. And in case anyone is having difficulty interpreting my tone, allow me to NOTE MY SARCASM.

Three-year-olds also insist on doing everything themselves, from pouring their own cereal to zipping their own coats. This almost never takes an eternity or ends in disaster. ALSO SARCASM.

So, three-year-olds may be more independent, but you might never make it out of the house.

And just when you think you cannot take anymore of the meltdowns and the messes and the 30-minute coat zipping marathons, somehow they always find a way to remind us how much we love them. The little stinkers.

Tonight we went out to dinner and Henry took it upon himself to introduce the waitress to our family, "...and dis is my brudder Jack and dis is my sister Baby." Then he gestured to me. "And dis is my best friend Mommy."

Drip, drip. What is that sound? Oh, that would be my heart melting into giant puddle.

Ah well, I guess I'll let Henry Hyde stick around for a few more months.

But I'm hiding the granola bars until he turns 4.