Crayons.

Yesterday I had my [apparently] monthly hormonally charged breakdown wherein one slightly overwhelming thing happens while another slightly overwhelming thing is happening and then I cry like I just killed someone and then I feel a lot better (albeit bleary-eyed and exhausted like whoa.) I have little to no recollection of these outbursts after about a week has passed, but m* remembers them. They have even moved her to start tracking and marking the calendar so she can be prepared and well-equipped to talk me off the ledge, which she does remarkably well.

So, yesterday. Yesterday was an awesome day, beginning with a morning yoga class at the Y while The Who hung out in the KidZone. Then we took a swim together and came home for lunch. Watched a show on the iPad, played with the MagnaBlocks, and played house. We were stuck home waiting for the Orkin guy from 1-5 and we were trying to make the best of having to spend the remainder of the beautiful day indoors instead of walking into town to our weekly farmer’s market, which is what we both wanted to be doing. I proposed we work on “the crayon project,” which is that viral Pinterest idea about melting bits of broken crayons into silicone muffin molds, thereby creating new, swirly crayon cakes. We set about peeling crayons and sorting colors into the fishie and sea star silicone ice cube trays I had gotten at Ikea months ago, with this project in mind. The Who sand his nonsensical alphabet song as he worked and remarked that “we sure are working like great teamwork, right, Mama?”

And then. Then we put the trays into the toaster oven and then! Then the oven heated up and then! Then the crayons started melting and then! Then they started looking so pretty and we were so excited and then! And then. Then the trays started to melt. And the oven started to smoke. And all of a sudden, I had melting wax in a melting container and an eager three-year-old and actual fire (when the wax hit the bottom of the oven.) “This is an emergency, Who! There is actual fire! Don’t talk to me for a minute while I solve this problem!” (I have to congratulate myself here for keeping it together with him. Although moments later, I would find myself shouting, swearing, and crying on the phone with Orkin, with my child I was damn near peaceful.)

It’s ok, brand-new $200 toaster oven. You’ll be good as new in no time (even though you will continue to smell for days.)

So, as I moved the melty trays to the freezer (it is now a challenge to find a piece of ice not covered in red wax) and started to attempt the cleanup (which involved removing and blow-drying the oven tray and then sticking my hand inside a hot convection to wipe wax off the inside of the door) and as The Who continued to call my name in an effort to make sense of the chaos going on around him, the phone rang. Orkin.

Chaos.

On the phone, it was not my usual technician, who knows our particular issue and has been working on it for months with us. Instead, even though I’d scheduled this appointment specifically because it was when this tech was back from vacation, it was some random dude who’d never been here, calling to ask for directions to my house. And with the broom in mid-sweep of multiple shavings of colored crayons, I unleashed my fury on this poor guy. I know he didn’t deserve it, but it exploded out of me. I may or may not have exploded with the mother of the curse words (while my 3-year-old played a few feet away) And then I called the home office and demanded that my contract be cancelled and my last payment refunded. And I may or may not have cursed at her, too. And then I cried.

Because the craaaaaaayons! And Orrrrrrkin! And otherrrrr assorrrrrrted stresssssssful thiiiiiings! 

And then it was over. I explained to The Who that I was feeling SO FRUSTRATED! And then we ordered a pizza and called it a night. But not before drawing a family portrait with the misshapen hunks of crayon that The Who was totally delighted with, despite it all.

The End.

 

Stories.

I have two stories to tell about today. First, there is Story A: the one where my sweet little kid and I spent the day together, traipsing around the city — meeting friends at playgrounds, delighting in artisan popsicles (really!), and gathering fresh herbs from the local farmer’s market. But also, there is Story B: the one where my demanding, off-mood preschooler and I spent hours together, battling high frustration and low patience, continuously re-starting, having “time-ins,” and trying to get it right.

Story A: We finally got it together to make plans with our city pals — a favorite toddler and his new baby sister. We couldn’t have ordered up better weather. Dry, sunny, breezy. The playground was hoppin’ and there was lots of green space to run, dig with sticks, and basically love life. When The Who announced that he was hungry, it was easy to rally the troops and casually walk the few blocks to a charming neighborhood cafe.

Story B: A whole day’s worth of preschooler drama happened before 7:30am and it all stemmed from the wrong butter. Really. Unsalted stick butter for the toast when the expectation was the usual spreadable salted kind. After that insult, nothing was up to par. The crackers were broken. The milk wasn’t warm enough. I didn’t fast-forward through the show’s opening song with enough accuracy. I was frustrated and tired and The Who wanted me to play with him, which was low on my list of desires. Getting out the door was challenging and when we finally made it into the car with the aforementioned cup of milk to go, he told me: “Now it’s too hot!” Of course. Of course it is.

Story A: After lunch, where The Who and his pal played amicably together and the baby even smiled for a few quick snapshots, we parted ways, the boys giving each other charming, delightful hugs goodbye. The Who and I walked hand-in-hand back to the playground, spent a few minutes singing and playing, and then meandered back to the car. Before going back home, I decided to run us by the local gourmet popsicle shop that I knew had opened not long ago in the neighborhood. The Who chose “Chocolate with Salted Caramel Brownie” for his and I slurped on a Watermelon Mint one.We hung around the shop for a bit after as The Who and I cheerfully played “popsicle shop” with the charming little wooden pop stand they had set up in the corner.

Story A.

According to The Who, that one in the foreground is “Strawberry, Garlic, and Blueberry” flavored. Uh, yum?

Story B: At some point during lunch, the window/counter seats we were at started to become uncomfortable and sweaty as the afternoon sun beat down on us. At just about the same time, a comfy cool table for four opened and so my friend and I made the executive decision to move operations over there. Well. The Who was not amused by my show of authority and he let me know by loudly protesting and insisting that he and his plate AND a grown-up needed to stay with him. In hindsight, I should not have made this decision without either asking for his input and/or letting him know what my plan was before I up and moved us. The upshot: a scream and a cry inside the cafe that I had to take outside to address. He did calm down and join us at the table and I apologized for disregarding his preference so rudely.

Story A: After popsicles (and a quick visit to the taqueria next door for a take-out burrito and a potty visit) we headed to our farmer’s market, where we picked up homemade pickles, local heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and placed an order for an organic, free-range, small-farm turkey for Thanksgiving. We popped over to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few essentials to round out our groceries (namely fresh mozzarella to go with those stunning tomatoes and basil) and got home in enough time to relax a little with some lemonade and Little Einsteins before I cooked up a delicious dinner that we all ate together while we chatted about our days.

PopMouth.

Story B: As predicted, The Who beelined for the cupcake stall at the farmer’s market and, as predicted, he was allowed to choose one and eat it on the spot. He chose a heavy, dense blueberry cupcake with lemonade frosting. The cupcake lady apologized for not having any napkins today and I, obviously stupidly, moved to break a piece off of the cupcake so The Who could eat it more easily (and tidily.) He. Lost. His. Everloving. Shit. Right there in the middle of the farmer’s market in front of the sausage guy, to whom we had promised to return before we left. It was all “you broke my cupcake!” and “I need a new one!” I tried to smoosh it back together while apologizing and assuring him that he could have it all and I was just (obviously misguidedly) trying to help him, but he would have none of it. He wanted it to be whole and he wanted it to be new and he wanted to SCA-ream about it. Loudly. So, I did what I had already done once in this day: I took him by the hand and walked him out of the situation. We holed up in the car, which was parked across the street and he tried to calm himself while I held him on my lap, simultaneously expressing remorse for fucking with his cupcake and also letting him know that a screaming fit and demand for a new cupcake was not appropriate and wouldn’t be tolerated. Somehow, with some back-stroking and feeling-talking (“I felt so sad when you did that to my cupcake) he was able to calm down and take a few bites of the now-mushed and mangled cupcake. Turns out he didn’t like it anyway. (“It tastes like sugar and sour all mixed up together.”) Just before we got out of the car to go back to the farmer’s market, I said, “Now, let’s try to have no more screaming and be kind to one another,” and he said, “I was just going to say the same thing to you!”

The rest of the evening was neither here nor there. We were both pretty beat, I think, from all the sun and the walking and the emoting.

Thank God tomorrow’s a school day. I think I feel a migraine coming on.

Sniffle.

The Who’s a snot factory. Poor thing. It’s his classic allergy symptom, but he’s on the same allergy meds he’s been on for a while that had been working. I suppose it could be a cold, but he has no fever, no lethargy, and his appetite’s been just fine. He’s been ever so slightly more whiny and disagreeable these last two days, but other than that, no signs of sickness. I’m still pumping him with Claritin and Nasonex every night, per doctor’s orders and hoping that it’s what’s helping him sleep through, which he is, thankfully, doing. (I don’t know how, though. Seriously. When I am that stuffy, I am up every hour.)

Monday, I am taking him to be allergy tested. He doesn’t even know what’s coming. I remember getting allergy tested. It blew. Our pediatrician told us that this doctor is really gentle and his test really doesn’t hurt, but I know that it can’t be completely painless. Still, it has to be done. He’s clearly got something going on that we’re not hitting with these basic meds. (And this is just him at home. Sometimes when we stay other places, his eyes swell up like Rocky and he actually rubs them raw. Literally. Last time we were out of town, he rubbed his eyes so much that he created a little scabby wound.)

The allergist told us that we can’t give him any antihistamines for 72 hours before his appointment, which means tomorrow night is his last dose of meds until Monday morning. I really hope the stuffiness has cleared up by then, otherwise the weekend’s gonna be hell on all of us.

Glow.

This evening, our neighbor brought over an invitation to his birthday party, along with a little treat bag, which included a pack of glow bracelets like you would get at the 4th of July fireworks. The Who, naturally, was delighted and insisted that we crack into five of them at once. He happily found the darkest room in the house and put them on. When he went to bed, I hung them on his dresser drawer handles, “in case I need them,” he told me. We read ten books (yes, ten. It was a bargaining chip with a very tired boy) and then I made up my nightly story about his stuffed dog Bella (who, tonight, found herself pretending to be a superhero — Super Jumping Dog), sang his favorite bedtime song (“Hurry, Hurry” with his own invented verses) and told him I would check on him in a few minutes. “One minute,” he told me. “One, Mama. Not a few.” I closed his door and went to dry my hair and then as I came out of my room to head back down to him, I saw him standing there, in the dark hallway:

“Mama! Look at me!”

That nut. He just kills me dead with the cute.

Frustration.

One of my most favorite sounds in the world is that of my boy getting frustrated. It starts with a few grumbles and escalates into a high-pitched scream, sometimes accompanied by a “I can’t do it!” and is often followed by a full-out cry. And I just adore it.

I know this sounds sadistic and mean. What mother enjoys the sound of her kid’s cry? Aren’t we, as a species, hard-wired to have a visceral reaction when our kid is upset or needs our help?

The thing is, though, that I know that when The Who gets frustrated like that, he is learning an invaluable life skill that I am so committed to him mastering: frustration tolerance. Something I pretty much suck at.

So, yes. I love hearing him struggle with something. Hearing him reach the end of his rope, express it, and then gather the rope back up and try again. More than any other thing I may or may not be doing right as a parent, giving him the space to get frustrated and work it out feels like the rightest one.

thisnthat.

My baby boy’s all stuffed up in that allergy way that he used to be stuffed up, but isn’t usually anymore on account of all the Claritin and Nasonex we pump into him nightly. So why the nasal occlusion? (See what you can learn when you pay attention at the pediatrician’s office? Occlusion. I didn’t really know that word before.) (And see what you can do when you use the term ‘nasal occlusion’? You can gross out a handful of people who are eating tapioca pudding while watching the Olympics and reading your blog.)

Anyway. Stuffy. And apparently thinking it’s appropriate to wipe his nose on my pants when his arms and hands fail to be as absorbent as he’d like. Grody, dude. And he’s old enough to hear that now, so I told him. I said, “grody, dude.” He laughed maniacally.

This has been a good weekend and I am in a good mood. I don’t feel like I have gotten to say that very often in the past, oh, three years. But the weekend felt like vacation extension. Between our new toy and our [re]new YMCA membership, we found a really good mix of home-time and out-time and no one melted down.

Non-sequitor: Did Eric Idle get bleeped on the closing ceremonies?

I’ve been a little addicted to the Louis CK Pandora radio station lately. It’s become my habit to go upstairs a little earlier than usual, check on the child, and then climb into bed with my earbuds plugged into my phone and listen to some impossibly funny and relentlessly crass stand-up comedy before falling asleep. Maybe this is contributing to my good mood? Maybe that and bananas. The organic bananas have been really satisfying this week.

Ok, that’s all I got for you tonight. Well, all that and this one last thing:

The Who wanted to ride the trolley today, so we did. Waving at our house both times we chuffed past.

Motivation.

We slept until 8am today! That’s a whole hour past 7, people. That’s a whole two hours past 6, which was our standard vacation wakeup time (screw you, charming skylight in the bedroom.)  I felt damn near rested when I was finally pounced upon in my bed and that right there is a miracle. But then the gravity of the situation hit me: Today is Tea Party Day.

The Who has been talking about this tea party at school since he heard about it (and, ok, maybe I was fostering the excitement just a little because I think it’s such a cute idea) and today is the day. His new teacher, despite that whole pirate-themed beginning, which made my eye twitch, has some very cute ideas and this is one: a proper tea party to celebrate the London olympics. She made crustless cucumber sandwiches**, you guys. She is not fucking around.

So, for us to get up at 8 and get out of the house in enough time for him to be sitting at his snack table at school (a 10-minute drive away, at best) a mere hour later is a phenomenal feat. Because perhaps I’ve mentioned The Who’s rigid morning routine which includes toast with butter (that he butters himself) and chocolate milk (that he helps prepare) and “a show” (which is usually a half hour long.) But we did it and do you know why? Because the idea of missing this tea party was the greatest motivator that ever there was.

Maybe if I talk real sweet, I can get them to have a special morning event every day that The Who is in school.

——————————
** And not just cucumber sandwiches. Also, grape jam sandwiches, strawberry jam sandwiches, pasta salad, “biscuits” (Vienna Finger cookies) and brewed decaf tea. (Oh, and chocolate milk. Which The Who could not even take his eyes off of to say goodbye to me. He held up his hand for a high five without making eye contact because he was glued to bottle of chocolate syrup in his teacher’s hand.)

Camp.

I’d like to spend some time talking about camp. Oh my god, you guys. I hated camp. I honestly don’t recall a summer when I wasn’t forced to go to camp, with the exception maybe of those two years I got to go to College Academy instead.

My first camp memory is from when I was about three. (Was I three? I don’t remember the age exactly, but three seems about right.) It was a camp at the local synagogue and I remember nothing about the actual camp itself, only the one day I finally decided I had had enough of this bullshit and I quit on the spot. I was in a carpool, so someone else brought me there and when I got there, all sassy and gum-chewing (could I really have been three?) I told the driver lady to bring me home because screw this. I hate this. Compliantly, the driver lady brought me home and then my mother brought me back. I guess she had to get to the bottom of it or whatever. Make sure nothing terrible happened. I remember that the camp director tried to sweet-talk me by praising my bubble-blowing prowess, but I was not wooed. And that was that. I suspect I spent the rest of the summer at home, annoying the ever-loving crap out of my mother.

Then there was Yomechas, aka Hell. I’m pretty sure that it was this camp bus that I missed on purpose, hiding behind a shrub in the neighborhood. When I arrived back home and reported my failure to board, I figured I had scored a day away from the sweaty, buggy torture, but no. My mom loaded me in the car, followed the bus, and flagged it down several stops ahead so I could get on. My other two memories of this horrible camp are being forced to swim in the stinky, gross lake and seeing a kid fall down and then the horrible counselors laughing and stepping over him. (I’ll grant you that these are 30-year-old memories at best, so the details are sketchy and highly debatable, but still.)

Finally, there was Peter Pan (why Peter Pan? I don’t know. I didn’t know then and I still don’t.) This, all things considered, was not a horror show. It was still hot and sweaty and buggy and miserable, but in the most humane way it could have been.

Here I am, back center. Beaming gladly in my striped shirt and feathered bangs.

The counselors were nice and I actually enjoyed free swim. (Not lessons, mind you. Even though I was  good swimmer, I hated lessons. Maybe they also told me I was bad because I didn’t “flap my wings.” I don’t know. Thirty-year-old memories and all that.)

Far right, red polka dotted bathing suit. Does this look like someone who’s loving life at the pool? Notsomuch.

There was still a fair bit of “forcing” going on, though. Forced to play kickball in the blistering sun on the shadeless field. Forced to change out of a wet bathing suit in front of everyone in the dirty cabin. Forced to hike all the way across that same field at the end of the day with all our gear to the busses. But, this was the first and only camp where I also made some fond memories. Most notably, playing the Scarecrow in the camp’s production of The Wizard of Oz and gimp. (Gimp. It’s the only thing that keeps craft nerds coming back to camp. Well, gimp and god’s eyes.)

I never went to sleepover camp and I couldn’t ever fathom why anyone ever would. At least with my camp experiences, I could come home every day and escape it for a few blessed hours. People say they had great fun at sleepover camp, but I honestly can’t picture a scenario where that would be true for me. Unless if by “sleepover camp” you actually mean a week at a hotel, taking in Broadway shows. That I could probably get behind.

Which brings me to my current dilemma: do I send The Who to camp? I mean, it’s not really a current dilemma since I think I have a couple of years to really make a decision, but I just read a blog post about a kid who loves camp and I was all, “really?” You don’t know if you’re going to love it or hate it until you try it. And, even then, it might take a while of trying to really get a feel for it. Should my mother have found alternative summer things for me to do? (Eventually, she did. But not when I was littler. And were there alternative things to do back then? There seems to be an endless array of activities for kids now, but was that the case then?) Maybe The Who will love the outdoors. He doesn’t seem fazed by it now. Kid can come home with six thousand mosquito bites and still be cheerful. Maybe he won’t mind sweating. Maybe he’ll really dig it. Maybe he’ll even want to go to sleepover camp…

…nah, that’s just crazy talk.

Snacks.

There are two notable things about today’s drive home and they are both food-related, which anyone who has road-tripped with a kid will understand. It’s all about the snacks. In our case, we actually only made one stop (well, two, but one right after the other, just up the road) and that’s where all the action was.

Within the first hour, The Who was knocked out. Neither of us slept very well last night and I’m not sure if it was the anxiety of having to say goodbye or the humidity in the room or our allergies (maybe a combination of all three) but compared to all the nights in our house on the Cape, where I laid my head down and didn’t remember a thing until I was woken up in the morning, last night was sort of restless. And I know I heard The Who rustling around a lot, too. So, yeah. Not great sleep + droning highway driving = sleeping Who.

So, as he napped, I plotted. I remembered having seen the PEZ Visitor’s Center advertised on 95 on our way up last week, so I did a quick google, got the address, and pointed my gps directly at it. This gave The Who an hour and a half to sleep and when he woke up, I got to tell him that we were at a candy store. Win-win!

I want to have one of these PEZ benches in my house. Although, I think, first I need the kind of house in which a PEZ bench wouldn’t look crazy.

Wall of PEZ.

It was a little chaotic in there with all the kids and The Who so excited that he was like a pinball in a machine, so I didn’t get to really read all the history on the walls. But I did catch this. Did you know this?

This is a bunch of candy set in a window in the floor. There were a few of these in the room with different things in them. One was all different dispensers. One was PEZ candy packages.

Somehow I didn’t get a picture of the bank of PEZ tablets in bulk, with which you could fill a small bucket for $5. You’d be surprised how many PEZ fit in a small $5 bucket. (HINT: A LOT.) Immediately after that, you could choose a decorate-your-own dispenser. The Who chose a tractor-trailer to decorate. (Surprised? I wasn’t.)

He used his mad pattern-making skillz to fill it up.

And then he just gazed lovingly at it for a while.

And then there was lunch. I contemplated driving around and looking for an actual restaurant, but that would have taken too much time, so I hopped back on 95, expecting to just get off at some crappy rest stop and eat crappy rest stop food. Little did I know that the rest stops on 95 in Connecticut are awesome. Freals.

In a clean, well-lit building with super parking, sat this beacon of perfection. Freshly made, totally customizable, good-sized grilled cheese sandwiches. The Who was instantly sold.

The Who had a “classic” but I had this tomato/fresh basil gem. Road trip food is never good. But it was today.

And now we’re home.

The end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is the First Day.

We started our slow trek back home this morning with a ferry-boat ride back to reality, but I’ll get to that in a minute because there was a whole day’s worth of activities before we even stepped on the boat.

First: packing. Always the suckiest part of vacation because it is not only a chore, but it’s a chore that signifies the end. I pack up the same way I clean up: from the back of the house, forward. When I clean, I gather things and move them to other rooms, thereby always leaving a room spotless when I am done with it, even if I haven’t properly dealt with the things I moved. E.g. I will take a dirty mug and a piece of trash from the living room and move it to the kitchen counter to be dealt with when I reach the kitchen. I like to turn chaos into order and the feeling of leaving a whole room “done” is what motivates me. Packing is no different, so I started in the back bathroom, collecting all our stuff and moving it to my bed. Then folding up the stuff on my bed and moving it out to the living room, etc. It’s perhaps not the most efficient way to pack, but it gets the job done in a way I don’t loathe.

The plan, once I finished packing my stuff, was to take The Who into town for the dual purpose of allowing m* focused time to pack the rest of our stuff into the car and to procure The Who’s morning chocolate milk because we were all out of milk at the house. We found this place in town during the week that makes perfect chocolate milk — just like The Who likes it. Light and warm. They used slightly steamed milk and a squirt of their homemade chocolate sauce and made it all right into The Who’s sippy cup. Perfection. Plus, they happened to have the best breakfast sandwich in all of P-town, so it was a total win-win.

The Who totally indulged me by hugging this bear in front of the Purple Feather and letting me take a picture. He’s a real trooper about stuff like that generally.

Then, as we meandered toward the wharf, we were charmed by the face painter and The Who and I sat for a spell. He initially chose a full-face Spiderman face, but I gently dissuaded him because he’s an eye-rubber (especially with allergies and especially as we were about to get on a windy, sunny ferry ride.) So, he settled on a doggie on his cheek, which he happily wore all day until bath time.

Not just any doggie, though. Bella, The Who’s stuffed best friend. He described her to the face painter perfectly, right down to her little blue nose.

M* met us in town with the car (and our overnighter backpack) and took us down to the end of the wharf, where we were at the very front of the line for the ferry — and good thing, too, because you have to be among the first to procure the prize seats (outside, second-floor deck, facing forward), which is where we stayed planted until the last 15 minutes of the ride.

The beach and the ocean are great places to use the Photosynth app to stitch panoramic pictures. This is the Boston skyline as we approached it.

The wind on the top deck was not f*cking around. Notice my necklace blown all the way to the back of my neck. Try not to notice my ridiculous hat-hair, which I was forced to expose when the wind blew my hat right off my head.

The wind up at the top was way too much for my little Who, so we found him a safe spot, tucked under the overhang of the bow. He loved it under there and chilled casually until the boat slowed and I could pick him up to show him the harbor as we pulled in.

We arrived in Boston sweaty and salty and sticky and glad to be picked up by Grandma in the air conditioned car. Tonight we’re spending one last night here and then it’s on the road tomorrow morning to hopefully have a much shorter drive home than poor m*, who suffered today on her drive with pouring rain and traffic. We have our fingers crossed.

Back to the daily grind Tuesday. Grocery shopping, meal planning, and laundry await. And, believe it or not, I’ll be happy to get back to it.