Thursday, October 28, 2010

A one liner to remember

Last night I was snuggling Manny and I said, with great emphasis, "Manny, I like you."

There was a pause and then Manny replied, "I like...Batman."

Monday, October 18, 2010

An Old Joke is Always New to Somebody

At dinner, Sam asked Manny if he loved cheese. Manny said yes. Sam said, "Then why don't you marry it?" and went over the top with a goofy laugh so that Manny would know what he was supposed to do next.

Manny totally ran with it. Everything Sam asked him about, Manny loved. And when Sam would say, "Then why don't you marry it?", Manny would erupt in gales of laughter.

"Again! Again!"

At this point, I was sort of regretting the whole thing and said, "Why doesn't Daddy tell you another joke?"

So Sam said, "Knock, knock."

Manny said, "Who's there?"

Sam said, "Orange."

Manny said, "No! The other joke!"

Eventually, Manny swapped roles with Sam. He started with a strong offering.

"Do you love playdoh?"

Sam said, "I love playdoh."

"Then why don't you marry it!!!!" (Screeching laughter!! This is the best joke ever!!)

"Do you love soup?" (We were eating soup.)

More punchline. More screeching laughter.

"Do you love applesauce?"

More. More! This just kept getting better and better in Manny's estimation.

There were too many questions to count, at which point, I could tell Sam was quite sorry he had ever introduced Manny to this ancient joke that human beings have been telling each other ever since there was some concept of legalized, committed relationship between two people.

So, to mix it up a bit, when Manny asked Sam for the second time, "Do you like Wall-E?" (as in the Pixar robot character), Sam said, "Oh, you're not going to get me this time!"

Manny burst into screaming sobs. He could not be consoled and all that we could make out was, "I WANTED YOU TO MARRY WALL-E!!"

We couldn't help it. For the first time, I laughed at my child until I shed tears. I was not laughing with him. I was laughing at him.

At bedtime, I asked Manny what he was thankful for. Silence. I said, "I'm thankful for you. Who are you thankful for?" Pause. "Dinosaurs," he said. Pause. Pause. "I'm thankful for the dinosaurs who aren't here anymore."

When I prayed, I said, "Thank you for Manny, for Daddy, for Glory and Elena, for Rona and for all of our friends and family. Manny said, "Don't forget the dinosaurs who aren't here anymore." "And for the dinosaurs who aren't here anymore," I promptly repeated.

Sam came in to say good night. I asked him to turn off the light, and in the bright hue of Manny's night light that he insists on having plugged in right next to the head of his bed, he asked Sam, "Do you like Mama?"

"I love Mama," Sam said.

"THEN why don't you MARRY HER?"

"I did!" Sam said.

Manny smiled.

Then Sam and I went back to our bedroom, totally exhausted. Sam had to go back to work for the entire evening so we laid down on the bed for a quick hug, right on top of Manny's new birthday rocket ship from Rona.

The deep, bellowing voice said, "3, 2, 1, BLAST OFF!" Then lots of sounds of blasting engines.

Sam tried to muffle it, but Manny came prancing down the hallway as though he had been paged.

So the second time, we put Manny AND the rocket to bed. Haven't heard a peep since. Which is good, because I'm guessing the jokes will resume first thing in the morning.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

As You Wish

A few things have changed in the last month. For one, Manny is not going to preschool anymore.

Some things haven't changed. Our bathroom sinks are still clogged and my ironing is still piled on the ancient ironing board next to our bed, which I accidentally bumped the other day and saw it is leaving rust marks on the floor, it has been there so long. And we are all still fighting remnants of colds we caught in the beginning of September.

Manny's was a double ear infection and it caused him to miss day 2, 3 and 4 of preschool. Actually, on day 4 I tried to take him, but when it was time to get dressed, he had a meltdown and then I had a big meltdown. It was my way of demonstrating to the children that they do not have the corner on expressing their dissatisfaction and despair over the smallest details.

You won't wear the clothes I picked out for you? I'll show you crying and screaming! I've been at it for 32 years! Stand back and admire my range! I can hit the low moan notes and the high-pitched wailing whines all in the time it takes you to outline the next item of your never-ending list of demands!

This was a really bad move on my part. And perhaps one that could not have been prevented. I was coming off of a sleepless night and Glory was wailing with fever and I really needed someone to pass the parenting baton to, but my giant stuffed raccoon from childhood who sits on the ridiculous toy washing machine that nobody plays with does not have thumbs, or even fingers for that matter and he kept dropping it. Silly raccoon.

So I took Manny to school and he stood in his classroom and cried. Cried the sad cries of a child who fears his mother is beyond help and is still wearing what looks like, but is not, some semblance of her pajamas in the hallway. The girls were buckled into their carseats in the van, but I had legitimate fear that Elena was going to crawl out and release the parking brake or shove a stray raisin up her nose and choke, so I really couldn't stand there and allow Manny or myself to suffer for too long. So I scooped him up and we never managed to get him to go again.

So now we are free of obligations, except to go to our dance class on Tuesday mornings. My friend Amy and I are taking all three kids to the Creative Dance Center where the kids warm up by climbing on my back at the same time and continuing the long-standing argument I like to call "My Mama!" But after they warm up, they have a grand time playing the musical instruments and finding their own creative way through the obstacle course and running under the magic parachute. At the end, they all gather around Anna the radiant teacher and she stamps their hands, their feet and their tummies. Manny never got a stamp on his tummy at preschool and it makes him really happy.

So this is the year of exploration.

Really, every year is. But it makes me feel good to spin it that way. When this whole preschool problem presented itself, it made me realize that all the children will go to school next year and so it will go until they are adults and I am almost 50. Gasp! So this is a special time and I am trying to be as engaged, loving and fun as I can be.

The week I took Manny out of preschool, I took the kids to Big Howe, the playground closest to our house, which I have avoided since the girls got really mobile because there are too many places the kids could hurt themselves and they all needed my close attention. Now, it's okay. Still a couple things to look out for, but much, much better.

The sun was shining and the warmth was radiating through our long-sleeved shirts. The kids were sharing in the sandbox and I was still reveling in the fact that we walked there without the assistance of our double stroller or baby carrier. I felt so light.

And then I noticed that Elena was rolling down the grassy hill behind me. Her delight was infectious, and suddenly, all my kids and a handful of others were rolling down the grassy hill. It wasn't smooth rolling. It was more like "AS....YOU....WIIIIISH!!" bumpy, messy, grunting rolling from The Princess Bride and my joy was only slightly diminished by my fear that they would roll over dog poop, develop a rash from the grass or get a bug lodged in their ear canal.

The other day Manny said to me emphatically, "The sky is blue and I want to watch a show." I love his ability to be direct without apology while still making space to revel in the natural beauty around and above us. As I seek to live into the opportunity for joy and discovery that is my every day, I will try to do the same, even if the only one listening is Racky the Raccoon. At least Racky doesn't have an opinion about my selection of socks when it's time to load into the car.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


To Sam while bathing with his sisters.

Manny (earnestly): Dad, why did God give me two sisters instead of just one?

Sam: Because God loves you so much.

To me, while snuggling in bed during naptime.

Manny: Mama, you have gentle eyes.

To our friend John after I realized Glory was touching John's puppy's penis.

Manny: I have a penis too! I'll show you!

Our days are full. Full of what you would expect and full of unexpected sweetness.