Lasker Pool

Lasker Pool
Central Park, summer 2011

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Trick or Treat

Our babysitter (hi Juana!) is planning on an extended visit back home, where the weather is warm and the shrieking children are not her problem.
So, like the responsible person she is, Juana has lined up a substitute. She seems lovely and sweet and I hope my kids don't send her off shrieking into the night.
Jesse is already taking control. The other day, the sub sitter (let's call her Brenda to protect the innocent) met the boys and brought Jesse and Kyle home, while Seth went off to art class with Juana.
Like any reasonable human being, Brenda asked the boys a question or two, like "What do you do when you get home from school?"
Kyle disappeared immediately into his room to work on one or another of the giant Lego creations that have taken over his space.
But Jesse? Oh, the little peanut was sooo helpful. He showed Brenda where the bagels, cream cheese and grapes were for after-school snack. He took out his homework and set it out on the table, in preparation for actually doing the work.
And then, he TURNED ON THE TV!
When Brenda expressed surprise, Jesse said "Oh, we always do our homework with the TV on. Every day."
A bold and bald-faced lie, of course.
Later, Brenda said to Juana, "I couldn't really keep Jesse focused on his homework. He kept getting distracted by the TV."
To which Juana replied "TV? What TV?"
"Oh, Jesse said you turn on the TV every day as soon as they come home from school."
Busted! At least it gave us all a good laugh. Jesse most of all.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Like Coals to Newcastle

While none of my children are quiet, Jesse is the main mouth in the house. The kid can talk endlessly.
I mean, all day, every day. From the moment he opens his eyes until waaaay past bedtime.
Question after question after question: "Who makes water?" ""But why do have to eat my peas? I'm strong without them." "How come Kyle stays up later than I do, when he's tired and I'm not?"
It doesn't actually matter whether we respond or not; the Peanut (one of his nicknames, along with Jesse Bear, J Bear, Baby J and DJ J Bear) natters on. Loooves to hear the sound of his own voice.
Jesse's often also asking to be signed up for this class or that: baseball, karate, chess. So this morning, while admiring himself in my bedroom mirror, he makes his pitch for yet another activity: "Hey Mom? Can you sign me up for speech class?" (He's actually referring to the fact that the school offers speech classes to kids with speech issues, language issues or the like)
Mick and I are rolling our eyes, of course. 'Cause the one thing this kid doesn't need is more opportunity to flap his gums.
I ask Jesse, "WWhat do you think you might do there?"
Jesse shrugs. "I don't know. Talk, I guess."
I can't wait to tell J's teacher of his latest request.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Year of Living Hideously

Sometimes I think back on our first year of twin life—with Seth and Jesse as skinny little infants and Kyle a wild child at not yet three years old—and I'm amazed that Mick and I still talk to each other with any civility, much less share a home.
We were positively psychotic from the stress, sleep deprivation and the constant crying (mostly mine).
I have absolutely hideous (favorite word alert!) memories of times when Seth and Jesse were squalling and Kyle was sobbing to climb onto my lap with the other two. Holding three wailing kids under three at once is not all it's cracked up to be, believe me. Especially when they launch into the arched-back version of baby tantrums.
I couldn't quite get a grasp on what would set the little ones off. Hunger, a poopy diaper, exhaustion—these I understood. But sometimes Seth and Jesse would get hysterical (in the bad way) when they just looked at each other.
I remember one of my rare forays into simultaneous twin breasteeding—rare because it was always such a hilarious and complete failure. But this time it worked. I sat proudly propped up by pillows, nursing my little munchkins, their eyes closed as they blissfully fed. It would only be minutes before they both sank into sleep, I hoped, so that I too could nap.
Suddenly, Jesse's eyes popped open and he realized that Seth was nursing only inches away from him. He shrieked like a banshee, Seth shrieked back and the baby screamfest was on. Feeding over, nap cancelled.
After Kyle's birth, I'd sip my herbal ice tea and eat lovely chicken salad sandwiches before nursing. I'd cook up veggie-laden stir fries for my husband. He'd make cheese and broccoli omelets for me in the morning, with lightly buttered whole-wheat toast.
But once two more were added to the mix, we ate more like starving animals, chowing down on whatever was in our reach. I recall once my mother gently suggesting that I consider a vegetable or piece of fruit as I was hurriedly wolfing down something unsatisfying and unhealthy in between diaper changes. I think my reply, with the profanity bleeped out, was something like "I don't have %$*&%$*&% time for produce!"
We yearned for order and we yearned for sleep. Craved both like drug addicts and got little of either. So many, many times we'd think we'd found success. All three children sleeping, we'd leap into bed and fall asleep within seconds, only to be yanked from blessed slumber ten blasted minutes later with that dreadful sound: "Wahh!" It was our very own horror movie and it never ended.
We found respite in brief showers, in cups of tea and even supermarket runs. And if you've ever shopped at Fairway on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where agruments routinely break out in the overcrowded aisles, you'll understand just how desperate we were for time alone, for a respite from the crying...for simply not having small, grubby hands pulling and tugging at us.
Somehow, neither of us ran away. Or lost our minds completely, though I have all the sympathy in the world for anyone who deals with a poor sleeper or a colicky baby.
And when I look through the photos of that time, we look like any happy family, smiling, hugging, content. But that year of living hideously? Never again.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bizarre Things Kids Say

Overheard a couple of days ago:
Jesse to Seth: "Wanna go out on a date? You look hot."
Seth to Jesse: "Eww. Gross."
Both collapse on floor, laughing.

Potty Mouth

We're experiencing an explosion in potty mouth in our house. It started last year, when Kyle was in third grade. He came home, giggling and whispering the four-letter word that he'd learned on the playground.
But really, he's not the major potty mouth in the family (I love that term, don't you?). He even cringed the other day when he heard the M-F word, saying "I never knew there was such a dirty word in the world. I shouldn't be hearing that."
It's my first-graders, Seth and Jesse, who have really embraced the profane.
"You're a dick" is one of their favorite expressions, followed only by "You're a dumb dick."
Nice, huh?
A couple of months ago, one of Jesse's friends, the angelic boy who lives down the block (you know who you are, little man!), taught Jesse the F word. They subsequently spent an all-too-long trip back from a birthday party repeating it ad nauseam.
Except, to be truthful, he already knew it.
In fact, Jesse dropped the F-bomb last year. Yup, as a kindergardener, he unloaded that lovely bit of language on Kyle's sweet and mannerly former teacher, Miss M. Not a clue where he got it from.
Some strategies we've used in a vain attempt to clean up the language:
1. Ignore. Doesn't work, because they have each other to giggle with or get annoyed at. "Mom! He called me a dick!" "But HE called me a dumb dick!"
2. Explain to them that only ignorant people without imaginations use this kind of language. "But Mom, Daddy said the damn word this morning!"
3. Punish. A time-out for every four-letter word. The result: Twelve time-outs in one day for Jesse (the main offender), which interfered with homework, bath and bed-time.
For now, we're trying a combo of all three strategies: ignore the first time, explain the second and move on to time-outs for the third. And it damn well better work.