Lasker Pool

Lasker Pool
Central Park, summer 2011

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Better Left Misspoken

You know how kids sometimes get phrases wrong? And how cute that is? Here are couple from my seven-year-olds:
*Seth: "Mom, can I have more spaghetti and neatballs?"
*Jesse: "When can we go to Toys Near Us?"
*Jesse: "Is Kyle going to Twai Kon Do (Tai Kwon Do) today?"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another Ploy Blown to Bits

Walking home tonight, Kyle said to me, "Mom, you don't really have eyes in the back of your head, do you?"
I smiled; telling me kids about my "other" eyes was a remarkably effective ploy for years, but I'd ditched it recently in favor of time-outs and other more punitive strategies (no Game Boy for a week! Or perhaps ever again!).
'What do you think?" I asked, as Kyle leaped and wiggled behind me, doing who knows what.
"Well, you can't see what I'm doing right now," my almost-10-year-old replied. "So I eyes back there."
"When did you figure out that I don't have eyes in the back of my head?" I asked.
Kyle shrugged. "About four years ago," he said.
I explained that people often say Moms have eyes in the back of their heads because they always know what their kids are doing. "Like I always know what you guys are doing," I said.
My fourth-grader flashed me a sly little grin. "But you don't know what we're doing in the cafeteria at lunch," Kyle said. Teaser.
You know, I keep my kids pretty close at hand. Living in New York City, where space is almost unbearably limited, makes it easy to keep tabs on your children.
But I guess the rope is getting stretched now. Because I don't know what they're doing at lunch, what they're talking about in the playground. And the three of them have secrets now, jokes they tell only to each other, games that don't include me or their dad.
But we'll always have time-outs.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Toddler Talk

From time to time, my kids ask for another sibling. With a pack-rat husband (hi honey!) and three boys already inhabiting our too-small New York City apartment already, the likelihood of another child joining the mix is about as great as the chance that Bernie Madoff will be lauded with a parade in Palm Beach.
Lately, they've been asking for a toddler, instead of a baby. I'm not sure why, but perhaps they're thinking that a toddler will be less trouble and more fun.
So, this morning, Seth cuddles up to me and whispers in my ear, "Mommy, I hope you're adopting a toddler soon because it will be so much fun to play with."
For the record, I have no idea where he learned about adoption, or got the idea that we'd be adopting anything other than a fish.
"What's a toddler?" I asked.
"I know," said Kyle, my almost-10-year-old, with great authority. "A three or four year-old."
"No way," said Seth. "Toddlers are three."
"Toddlers are babies, silly," retorted Jesse. Except he used a more objectionable word than "silly."
My hub patiently explained that toddlers are kids who have recently learned to walk and that they need a lot of care and attention.
"He can sleep in our room," Seth said. "You'll have to get a little bed."
"And little pillows and blankets," Jesse said.
"We'll give our toddler all our old clothes," Kyle added.
Before this toddler talk went any further, I felt like I had to put the kibosh on the bigger-family fantasy.
"Umm, yeah, there's not going to be a toddler, guys," I explained. "We just don't have the room. Just not going to happen."
The boys stared at me for a moment, silent. Then Jesse shrugged. "So can we get a pet lizard?" he asked.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Force is, Apparently, With Me

Mother's Day is pretty great when you have two seven-year-olds and a nine-year-old, uber-annoying daily kid squabbles aside.
Of course, my impulse-driven children can never wait until the actual day of Mother's Day to give me their handmade goodies. So, over the years, during the week before Mother's Day, I've gotten gifts like the giant bead necklace Kyle made in preschool, so heavy that it bent my neck forward; personalized note pads with my name spelled wrong; handmade Popsicle frames and this year, a sweet little bracelet composed of a rather attractive jumble of beads.
And, inexplicably, the letters "I," "M," and "A" in the middle. My name is Diane, so I have no idea where that choice arose, but I love the bracelet anyway.
My very favorite item this year, though, actually arrived on my pillow on Mother's Day itself.
It was a card, bearing the inscription "Mom, The Force is With You." in childish scrawl. Inside, was Seth's drawing of me, holding what I can only determine is a light saber and clearly beating Darth Vader to a pulp.
"Wow, Seth, cool drawing," I say, not sure how else to respond to my child's fantasy of me as a Star Wars character.
Seth beams. "Do you love it?" he asks as I draw him in for a hug and kiss.
"Of course," I answer, cradling his impossibly skinny little-boy body.
"Oh Mom," he sighs. "You ARE the Force."
And what could be better?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Going to Juvie

Just when I'm ready to toss out the board books, Duplos (those big Legos that take up scads of room) and other toys that the boys seem to have grown out of, the inevitable happens. 
Yup, you know it: they develop a new passion for their more babyish toys. 
We've had a pile of Cars (as in the movie The Cars from several years back in time and maturity) in Seth and Jesse's room for months while we ponder who to give them to or where to donate them. The boys haven't looked at this stuff, never mind played with it, in at least a year. 
Star Wars is far more compelling.
So last night, as I'm in the midst of trying to get Kyle to finish his reading homework, pack lunch for the next day and find out who's getting the boot from American Idol (I mean, catch up on CNN), I hear strange noises from the little guys' room. 
They're honking and beeping and chattering away in these oddly mechanical little voices. When I pop open their door, I am dismayed to see Cars toys and buildings strewn all over their briefly-not-a-complete-pigsty room. My annoyance with what looks like a miniature multi-car freeway pileup is all too clear to the pajama-clad munchkins. It's 9:30, on a school night for Pete's sake.
"But Mom, we made a whole town," Jesse tells me. "We had stores and everything." 
"Yeah," Seth piped up. "And Juvie." 
"You know, where the bad cars go," Jesse explains with exaggerated patience, as if the word "Juvie" was a regular part of our family vocabulary. "They have to stay there for as long as well tell them." 
I have absolutely no idea how to respond to this one. I mean, where the heck did they even hear the term Juvie? 
"Yeah, two of Jesse's cars are in Juvie," Seth adds. 
"Teen Juvie," Jesse says. 
"Mine are in Kid Juvie," Seth says. "That's the best Juvie of all. They get to go skiing." 
It's almost 10 pm at this point, and I'm in no mood to discuss Juvie any further. So I force a lightning round of cleanup on the guys, then hustle them into bed and threaten dire consequences for any further noise. 
We'll discuss this in the morning, I think, as I return to my next-day lunch prep work. 
But I'm bothered. Seth and Jesse seem so matter-of-fact about the notion of imprisoning their wayward vehicles, ski trips notwithstanding. Do my seven-year-olds somehow think they'll be sent to elementary school Juvie for mistakes on math homework or Nerf gun battles? Is there some deep, dark twistiness around their interest in this thing called Juvie? 
At 10, exhausted, I climb into bed. And start giggling as I think about my little guys and their strange game. After all, they built their little world together, in tandem, in harmony. Without adult intervention, supervision, or a tamping down on where their dreams and imaginations take them. 
And that, I think, more than the content of their play, is the essence of what brotherhood at its best can be.
Plus, I can now threaten them with Juvie when they misbehave. 
Score one for mom.