Archive for March, 2009

That kid found my Rubik’s Cube in the tree over there and then his brother tried to convince me it was his.

March 24, 2009

I can solve the Rubik’s Cube in 2 minutes. I have done it for years and still appreciate the stress relief of lining up like colors, twisting them in their spot, removing them for a moment while their neighbor moves in position, and then replacing them to their rightful position. I’ve probably solved the cube a thousand times, and while I cut time in the beginning, it has been several years since I have gotten any faster at it. 2 minutes is great as a party trick. But speed-cube competitions are settled in less than 30 seconds. Most recently a teenager solved the cube in something like 11 seconds.

Riley was 2 years old when he was speaking full-sentences and negotiating like a lawyer. You could reason with the kid when he was a toddler and he seemed to have advanced logic and problem solving skills that were complemented by his vocabulary. He sure got these skills young, but now at 7, his vocabulary isn’t above the curve. He’s no more able to solve problems or use logic than his peers. We expect these skills from a 7 year old. But at 2 we thought he was a whiz kid. Hey, it didn’t hurt that he was adorable with that curly red hair either. While I label our skills above as “talents” I don’t see people lining up at the Ms./Mr. Utah pageant to watch me solve the Rubik’s Cube or listen to Riley convince the daycare teacher that it, in fact, is NOT time for a nap. To add to the list of talents this family possesses, I’ve honed in on Casey’s latest. He’s an egg finder.

Casey will turn 3 in a couple of weeks. And he has a very advanced skill for a child his age. He can find hidden eggs with ease. With much greater ease than his brother. We discovered this skill a year ago at the annual Moab Easter Egg Hunt. Easter was in March last year, so Casey wasn’t even 2 years old yet. He was competing with other 1 and 2 year olds. Most of these kids wandered into the field holding a parent’s hand and were coaxed into picking up eggs lying in the grass in plain sight. Over and over I heard the sing-song Motherese voices, “Look kiddo, you found an egg.” Casey wasn’t going to stand for that. At first mention that the eggs had candy in them, Casey must have launched his plan. First of all, he refused to hold my hand. When the whistle blew, he ran as fast as he could, past the eggs in plain sights, to the far corner of the field, to a tree and an out building, and he looked high and low – not just at eye level. He picked up those colored eggs with delight, passing up the pink and purple ones to claim only the yellow and blue ones. He has standards you know. He got dozens of eggs. Riley didn’t get any. Casey was even nice enough to allow me to steal an egg and drop it next to a tree so Riley could find one egg for his lonely basket.

Casey’s supreme ability was proven again last weekend. We joined Chicory from An Accident of Hope and a group of pagans from her church (I know pagans and church don’t always go well together, but in her church there doesn’t seem to be anything amiss) in their annual Ostara egg hunt. A nice quiet reminder that Ostara actually once meant something before a narcissist named Jesus came and stole the holiday. In all fairness, I guess I ought to blame his followers not Jesus himself, but still, THIS HOLIDAY IS ABOUT FECUNDITY, and spring and procreating like BUNNIES! It is simply not about DYING ON A CROSS. And what’s that? That’s right, appearing again. “Before Houdini there was Jesus folks. Step right up and see for yourself.” Apologies. I’ve digressed. I only mentioned Ostara to illustrate again, what a dominant force in the sport of egg finding, Casey still is.

If only he jumped up to a piano and started thumping out a melody. If only he twisted his body in backbends and did flips off of the couch. If only he picked up his pencil and sketched out a masterpiece. See, those kinds of talents are able to be nurtured. What does a parent do with the ability to find eggs filled with candy? Especially when that ability doesn’t transcend into finding the stuffed lamb you put underwear on and then stuck in your bottom drawer.

When left to their own devices

March 21, 2009

This was a long week for the family.  I had several late nights at work because of an event on Thursday.  Kim had long nights at home with the boys.  But the weather was amazing.  The boys got to take evening walks with Kim.  They played at the park.  And the pulled out the scooters and bicycles from last year.  Spring has sprung.  And to prove it, we’re going to an Ostara celebration complete with egg hunt this afternoon.  The boys reserved their best behavior for this week so everything ran smoothly.  We even had parents-teacher-student conference this week and we heard nothing but how much Riley is progressing – academically – maturity level-ability to manage his own body – activity level – mathematic ability.  It was amazing.  And while we sat with the teacher and learned all about Riley’s progress, Casey sat on the floor and played quietly with puzzles and blocks.  The teacher has no concept of how chaotic our house really is.  And we like it that way.  

Speaking of how chaotic our house really is.  Let me give you just a little glimpse into my morning so far.  It is now 9:20 AM.  And this is what our morning was like.

Because the boys were so helpful this week, we decided to treat them to a little surprise.  We pitched an 8 ft by 8 ft tent in Riley’s room and was able to put Riley’s mattress and Casey’s mat in it.  When we got home last night, the boys ran downstairs to see their surprise and were so excited.  “We get to go camping tonight.”  Granted it is in the bedroom not outside.  Granted there is running hot water and no wildlife, dirt, wind, or rain.  It may not REALLY be camping, but its what they’re going to get.  So they crawled inside their tents with the evening snack and we put a movie on their portable TV.  This freed up the evening for Kim and I to spend some time together.  So I promptly fell asleep and Kim watched a TV show by herself.  

We were awakened this morning to peals of laughter coming from the tent.  Their imaginations were running wild.  They were camping.  In the tent. With no adults anywhere.  Throwing Lammie back and forth to each other.  Apparently this was so fun and hilarious that they never got out of the tent.  After listening to about 15 minutes of their chatter and giggles, Kim decided to remind them that they had better get up to pee before resuming their play.  At this point tickling was involved, and an empty bladder seemed a reasonable request.

Kim brought them both upstairs and while Casey was do-de-do-ing (dawdling/ dilly-dallying), Riley crawled up on the potty.  We have 2 bathrooms in our house.  This shouldn’t have been a problem, but suddenly Casey shouted that he had to GO right that SECOND.  Riley was already sitting down – already utilizing the facilities shall I say.  So Riley scooted his butt all the way to the back of the seat and Casey stood at the front of the seat.  Riley announced, “Go ahead Casey.  We can both go at the same time.”   (Sharing, under some circumstances should really be encouraged.  In others, well….NOT SO MUCH.)  Anyone who had 6 ounces of sense (coffee) in them would see that this would end badly, but I was still waking up, and absolutely no help to Kim who was still trying to put her eyeballs in.  Casey, who really has only been potty-trained for a few months pushed up to the seat and promptly peed all over himself, the potty, and Riley who was such an easy target all pushed back against the back of the toilet, realizing his error, but too late, and he had nowhere to go.  

Obviously the next step was a bath.  Kim started the coffee and the bath, and I got down on all fours with bleach wipes and paper towels.  

They are both bathed now.  Laundry is done.  Casey is playing trains.  Riley is playing yo-yo.  And at 9:27 AM, I am just sitting down with a cup of coffee.

How do you change a disposition?

March 11, 2009

Yesterday Casey came home from school with an incident report.

He was the incident.

He threw a scooter at another child and it hit the other child upside the head.

Casey smiled as he retold the story.  “Casey naughty.” He said.  “Casey very naughty.  Casey make bad choices at school today.”

And he says it like he’s PROUD.

He likes being naughty.

He loses snack.  He loses TV.  He loses benefits and privileges until there’s nothing left.  HE STILL LOVES BEING NAUGHTY.

Today Casey came home from school having been naughty again.  “I no listen to the teachers.”  He smiles.  He likes being naughty.

We are trying to help him understand sympathy and empathy and trying to get him to be a bit more sensitive.  Or at least kind.  Riley seemed to come by these human connections more naturally.  

Last week while driving on the interstate Kim hit a goose.  She did all she could to miss the poor thing but I think it had already been hit and couldn’t get its bearings.  The darn thing hit right above the front tire and dented our car.  As we drove on by Riley looked back to see if the bird would be okay.  I’m not sure if it would have been or not, but either way, the semi truck behind us made sure that it wouldn’t.  Riley immediately began wailing.  He felt so bad for the goose.  He was even a bit frustrated at Kim, wanting to know why she couldn’t have missed the goose.  Kim explained how she couldn’t swerve on the interstate and how she had to keep us safe first.  Riley cried, “I know.  I just feel so bad for the goose.  And his friend who saw him get killed.”

Casey kept repeating, “Mommy hit a goose.  With the car.  Mommy hit a goose.”  Everybody we saw that weekend he made sure to announce that “Mommy hit a goose. ”  It wasn’t sadness.  It wasn’t boasting.  But he kept repeating it, even thought (or especially because) it immediately brought Riley back to tears.

So, how does one change a disposition?  Or maybe more accurately, how do we nurture this naughtiness into a socially acceptable non violent non compliant productivity?  Now, that’s our challenge.

The humor…The honesty

March 10, 2009

Riley is going through a riddle and joke phase.  He thinks it is hilarious to tell (and re-tell) the same jokes and riddles over and over.

Will Will come to dinner?  Will will come to dinner?   (He could say that over and over for 20 minutes.)

What’s red, white, and blue with red spots?  

(Uncle Sam with measles)

Why is six afraid of seven?

(because seven ate nine)

Can you poke your head through this hole?  (he holds up his fingers in a very small hole.)  

   No.

   I can.  (He uses his other hand to poke himself in the head right smack through the tiny hole.)

Are you smart? (yes.)  Then spell it.  (S. m.a.r.t.)  Nope – (i.t.)

Look down your shirt and spell attic.  

(A titty I see.)

The other day we picked up Casey from school.  Casey went on and on about his teacher – Ms. Nana.  She’s an older overweight grandma-type.  He told us how Ms. Nana left work late and she had to run to the bus stop in order to catch the bus.

Riley’s response, “I don’t think she ran very fast.”

We laughed.  (First mistake).  Riley wasn’t trying to be mean.  He was just being funny.  His humor though is hit and miss.  

Riley then spent about 10 minutes asking all the reasons that what he said was funny.  Then he made several attempts to apply his new knowledge. 

Why is Mommy tired all the time?  

(Because she’s lazy.)

No kid.  That’s not funny.

Why not.

Because I said so.