Lasker Pool

Lasker Pool
Central Park, summer 2011

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wishful Thinking

Seth: "Kyle, come here! You've got to see this! I'm getting underarm hair!"
Kyle, examining Seth's hairless and pale underarms. "I don't see anything there."
Seth: "No, there's a hair! Really! It's awesome!"

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Shoe is on the Other Foot

I've spent years trying to get Kyle to get out of bed in the morning, get dressed and to school before the bell rings, and complete his homework in a timely manner. So I know all too well the stomach-churning stress of dealing with a practiced procrastinator.
Suddenly, Kyle's become oddly responsible. Hence, I suppose, his latest habit, which is bugging me endlessly to fill out trip forms, submit fund-raising money and check off his Scholastic book club choices the moment such requests come home in his backpack.
Since my schedule is a tad overfilled, I do these things when I can--generally before the deadline.
But Kyle, who has never before had any seeming awareness of time passing or of deadlines, doesn't find that acceptable.
After asking me three times last week if I submitted the orders yet for the fifth-grade gift wrap fundraiser (which is not actually due until early next month), he sighed and shook his head.
Then he turned into me: "Mom," he asked. "Why do you always put things off?"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Punishing the Unpunishable

I have no idea if most pairs of seven-year-old twins are as ungovernable as mine, but a story my sister Deb told me does make me feel better about my wild things.
A friend of Deb's, with adorable little boy twins, took everything out of their bedroom except for their beds, bedding and one dresser outfitted with kid-proof drawer locks. And the remaining heavy items--beds, dresser-- she nailed to the ground.
Otherwise, the little guys would simply go wild when left to their own devices, turning the room into a maelstrom of toys, clothes and, um, dresser drawers.
I remember those days, when my then-preschoolers would rip the mattresses from their toddler beds and turn them into bouncy slides, when they'd remove every item of clothing from their drawers, when they'd empty the contents of the big wooden toy box on the ground and then crawl into it. Sometimes in the morning I'd find a twin asleep inside the toy box, clutching a blanket.
One day, in a stunning example of teamwork, S and J pulled over a bookcase, spilling their board books everywhere and trapping a howling Jesse underneath.
Not our finest hour.
They're in second grade now and reasonably mature, at least in comparison to their preschool days. But there's something transformative, apparently, in being alone together in their bedroom at night that can, on more occasions than I'd like to admit, turn Seth and Jesse into screaming demons.
So, long after bedtime last night, when their fort-building, Nerf-wielding, stuffed-animal hurling energy was inexplicably not yet spent, my husband and I simply lost it.
After threatening the boys with: loss of Game-Boy time, loss of TV privileges,  and no dessert for three days, Mick resorted to the unthinkable: removal of all the stuffed animals from their beds.
That changed the tone immediately, setting off cascades of tears and deep, shuddering sobs. "No daddy, no! You can't take our stuffies away. We can't sleep without them! We'll be good! We promise!"
A few minutes later, with the boys flat on their backs and covered by blankets, we had a discussion. "You don't like to get yelled at our punished, right?" I asked.
Seth shook his head woefully. "No, mommy," he said.
Jesse shrugged. "I don't really care," he replied.
Doesn't care? What seven-year-old says he doesn't mind discipline?
"But it makes you sad and upset when Daddy yells or takes things away, right?" I pointed out. "You cry."
Jesse pondered this. "Well, when I lose TV or Game Boy, I get a little sad, but it's not a big deal," he explained. "I know I'll get it back. But when I lose them for a few days, I get more sad and then I cry. But I'm not a lot, lot sad. Plus, we're only bad at night, so we're good a lot."
"Not the point, Jess," I said. "But you guys were so bad tonight that you almost lost your stuffed animals. That seemed to make you sad."  By now, Seth was asleep.
Jesse shook his head and actually rolled his eyes a bit, as if to suggest that I was badly misreading the situation. "Taking my stuffies? Mom, that's just wrong."
I surrender.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hip Hop Hipster

Two things:
1) Seth does not wish to be called TJ anymore. What he actually meant to change his own lovely name to is DJ. Because he would like to be a DJ. As in, a hip-hop playing funkmaster who is moving to the groove. Those are his own words.
2) Seth says, and I quote "I'm so cool, I'll make you drool. Remember that, Mom!"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Growing Up?

Something very strange is going on with my ten-year-old.
Kyle might actually be maturing, just a bit.
The other morning, while I was scrambling to get the three boys fed, dressed, brushes and book-bagged, and then to school before late-pass time, he offered to TAKE THE GARBAGE OUT!
But wait, there's more (don't I sound like an infomercial?)
Then, when Jesse spilled his milk, Kyle said "I'LL CLEAN THAT UP."
He's been organizing his backpack the night before school, getting up with only three gentle reminders--instead of the bed-shaking, tickling and singing I used to do last year--and is, more often than not, the first one ready to go on school mornings.
I mean, shoes on, wearing his maroon sweatshirt, hair neatly combed ready to go.
Now, Kyle still wants to snuggle with mom, would prefer to sleep in our bed than his own and uses the phrase "No fair!" way too often.
But after approximately 10, 000 repetitions of "Clean your room, do your homework, get ready for bed" and my other favorite phrases, perhaps a few have sunk in.

Dog Hair

This morning, Seth informed me that when he is a grownup, he will not only have a dog ( notice the continuing dog theme in his conversations?), but he will give the pooch a  mohawk.
"And I'll have a mohawk too and we'll be walking around (Seth struts across the living room in his best seven-year-old approximation of a cool guy, elbows swinging and chin held high) going 'Yeah, we got mohawks! Yeah, how do you like that?'"
Just thought I'd share that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fear Factor

Just when you think your kids have figured out all the myriad ways they can push each other's buttons, a new strategy emerges. 
Usually from Jesse. 
Seth came out of his room last night at almost 10 pm, whimpering. 
"Jesse's scaring me," he moaned. "He says he saw my green dragon (a stuffie) move." 
I stroked his hair. "Your dragon is a stuffed animal," I explained. "And stuffed animals don't move." 
"But he saw it move! He said!" Seth insisted. "And he said he heard a noise--a huuuuuuuush," (Seth is whispering this in a low but spooky voice, a few tears trickling down his cheek).
"It's probably the washing machine," I said. "Jesse is only trying to scare you. Now, back to bed." 
Dutifully, Seth climbed back into his loft bed and I covered him with his striped blanket, hoping that would be the end of the fear-mongering. 
By 11, we'd had a few more visits from my fearful boy, culminating in a two-day electronics ban for his button-pressing brother. 
It brought back for me all the fears of childhood, the monsters under the bed, the branches scraping against the bedroom window, the creaking floors and doors that surely spelled doom. And none of it, of course, anything real. 
But the next morning, I found the green dragon in the bathtub. 
No idea how it got there. The power of the mind, perhaps?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Boy in Mourning

A word of caution: Skip this post if you're feeling sad. 

My mom died back in early July and since then, Jesse's been very vocal and verbal about his grief. He talks about his Nana almost daily, and cherishes a blue, shell-shaped bowl she made and a framed photo of her. 
His twin brother, Seth, has said little about Nana's death—but that seemed natural to us since Jesse is the family motor mouth and Seth usually deals with his feelings by crying about seemingly-unrelated issues or drawing.
But today, Seth fell off the stoic bandwagon. In the playground after school, instead of doing his usually galloping romp around with his buddies, he plopped down next to a tree and stared into the sky. 
For many, many minutes. Maybe 20 minutes.
A long time for a seven-year-old. 
When two mom-friends approached Sethie, wondering why he was sitting out playtime, he began weeping. "I miss my Nana," he sobbed. 
(Thank you mom-friends, for hugging my little guy). 
He wept all the way home (I know this second-hand, via our babysitter--so my stomach is currently knotted up with guilt because I'm still in work), asking some unanswerable questions of poor Juana: 
"Is this what life is?" 
"Mommy only has her two sisters now; will Mommy and Daddy die and then we'll only be the three brothers?" 
(I'm crying a bit just thinking about him trying to ponder such an unfathomable topic.)
In our building lobby, James, a neighbor's child, came up and spontaneously hugged Seth and asked him why he was so sad. 
He began crying anew. "It's my Nana, she died and I can't stop thinking about her. My heart hurts." 
Our nice neighbor mom scooped Seth up and brought him to her apartment for a playdate, which seemed the perfect antidote to his attack of grief. 
I can't leave work just yet, but my mind is with my boy, enfolding him in my arms and telling him it will all be just fine. 
But I can't alter the unalterable: Losing those you love is part of life, a lousy, crummy part—and I can't take my little boy's pain away. 
I can only help him walk through the emotional fire. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


With three boys and two working parents, along with activities, doctors' appointments, playdates and middle-school tours for our big guy, our family schedules are always sort of ragged.
Yesterday, Angie, our backup babysitter, was on duty with the little guys after school, while Mick took Kyle first to the doctor (yes, he's coughing, but his lungs are clear) and then to Tae Kwon Do. Our regular sitter, Juana, was in Rhode Island, overseeing the delivery of her new furniture with her fiancee.
"Did you tell Angie that Jesse has flag football this afternoon?" I asked my hub mid-morning. "And does she know exactly where it is in Central Park?"
"Don't worry. Jessie knows how to get there," Mick replied.
A little warning bell rang in my head, but I foolishly ignored it and dedicated myself to editing the article on my computer screen.
Later that afternoon, Angie called Juana in a bit of a panic. "Why didn't you tell me they had soccer? I thought it was football! Now we're going the wrong way and we're late and I'm lost!"
"Soccer? They don't have soccer. Put Jesse on the phone," Juana said.
"Jesse. You know you have football. Why did you tell Angie you have soccer?" Juana asked.
The little imp giggled. "Oh, yeah," he said. "I do have football!"
That night, he literally crowed in triumph.
Jesse punked the babysitter.

Doggie Talk

The moment I walked in the door from work last night, Seth was on me--literally and figuratively.
"Mom, is there any kind of dog you're not allergic to?"
"I don't know," I replied.
Then, the litany began.
"Are you allergic to hairy dogs?" he asked.
"Yes." I shook off my shoes and hung up my jacket,
"Are you allergic to skinny dogs? Like hot dog dogs?"
"Yes." I walked to the bedroom.
"Are you allergic to really little dogs? You know, those small ones that can sleep in your bed?"
"Yes." I picked up the ringing phone and shushed Seth.
He put his face less than an inch from mine.
"Mom," he whispered. "I know! What about smooth dogs?"
Persistent, isn't he?

Class Act

Nobody can say that we don't expose our kids to high culture. We spent Saturday playing Wii and slopping on scary makeup and participating in the Asbury Park Zombie Walk with about a thousand other people in similar makeup. Then, Mick took Kyle to the roller derby!