Monthly Archives: May 2011

Time to Eat!

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Apparently, I don’t feed my child enough. You know, between breakfast, lunch, and graham crackers at church, I had some other things going on. This was unacceptable to Robert Manna. He came down from his nap raring to go, making rounds of the downstairs, checking to see that everything was just as he left it.

I was making the filling for a pie while he did this, and Rob came into the kitchen and stopped for a few minutes. He looked at me and shook his head. Then, the child went to the kitchen drawer (we actually only have one), opened it, got out his fork, closed the drawer, walked over to me (fork held high), and proclaimed, “Eat!”

Well. Of course. When you put it that way, how can I say no? After wrangling a “please” from the cherub’s lips, I found the only kid-friendly thing left in the house. Peanut butter. And Rob happily walked away, licking it off his fork.

Family Time

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We were the epitome of class today. Justin and I took Robbie to Suffolk Downs. For those of you not familiar with the Downs, let me tell you it’s a cultural experience. Now, I come from Kentucky, and, until we moved to Boston, the only race track I’d been to was Keeneland.

Keeneland is everything racing should be. The place is always packed; the grounds and staff are impeccably kept. The horses are fast and the races intense. Standing at the fence as they come down the stretch at Keeneland is an experience everyone should have.

Suffolk Downs is the exact opposite. There wasn’t even anyone collecting admission when we got there, so we walked right in. I wheeled the stroller through the Keno machines and simulcast monitors, swerving around people who hadn’t showered in a few days and needed to get their racing fix. Outside, regulars had their own lawn chairs set up. Men wander around without shirts. The favorites always win at Suffolk Downs. They’re the horses that are just shy of looking emaciated.

So why do we go? Did you just read the paragraph above? We go for the culture. OK, OK. We actually needed to cash my ticket from the Derby (I won $109.50!) and figured we’d have a free day at the track. Plus, the planes landing at Logan come in right over the course, and, as Robbie is in a plane phase, that seemed like a good idea. Actually, it was just a convenient excuse.

There’s a playground and we thought it might keep Robbie occupied while we looked at the program. He liked it, but the whole thing terrified me. It. Was. A. Death. Trap. The slide looked like some sort of tongue, with no sides. I probably would have fallen off, never mind my 22-month-old son. Fortunately, all our efforts paid off. We left after cashing in on a trifecta. After being down $48, we walked away up $41.

From Suffolk Downs, we thought it best to continue with our family adventure by going to Chuck E. Cheese. I’m not even sure where to begin. The entire way there, Robbie told us he was hungry and wanted to eat. All we heard was, “Hungry. Hungry. Hoon-gree. Eat, please. Eat. Eat.” But, once he saw the games and lights and other kids, it was, pun intended, game over. He did not want to sit down and eat. He did not want to drink anything. He just wanted to run. This became problematic when our food actually did come, and I had to eat with a struggling toddler in my arms. We managed to survive the meal without much trouble.

At home, it was time for some yard work. Continuing with our classy streak, Robbie had to be stripped down before he was allowed to enter the house. He sat in mud puddles, shoveled mud in his mouth, and did his best to scrub down his toys. He picked up leaves and swept dirt. The only way to deal with the mess was to strip him down. He got to the door, naked, looked at me, and said, “Bath, Mama. Bath.” And took off up the stairs faster than I’ve seen him move in a while.

Yard Work

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Our yard is a disaster. Epically so. With rain nearly every day for a month, all the stupid helicopter seed pods are stuck to the ground. I figured a Thursday night would be a great time to try to uncover everything. For the first time this year, I was able to be in the yard with Robbie, the dog, and the cats without worrying that someone would slip through the broken gate and out into the street.

Although I did get some things done, Rob made progression extremely difficult. Every time I picked up the broom, he wanted to sweep. When I grabbed the rake? He wanted the same rake. Even though there was an identical rake right next to me. We went back and forth ten, eleven times before he figured out a more fun game.

Last year, a friend from work gave me two mini lawn chairs for Robbie to use. This afternoon, Rob uncovered them. He sat on both of them together. He moved them around the yard, changing from one to the other, lounging while he watched me pull weeds.

I’m starting to realize how different this summer will be than last. Robbie can play and entertain himself. He doesn’t just have to watch other kids have fun. I think that once the yard is picked up, we’re in for hours of fun. And I, for one, can’t wait!

Three Scares

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Every time we go somewhere, my stepdad tells us he gets three scares. Apparently, Robbie got the message from Pops loud and clear today. Fortunately, he only gave me two scares instead of three. I’m not sure I could have taken the third.

After we got home from the gym, Robbie, Barkley, and I started off for a walk around the block. We stopped to talk to our next-door-neighbor who was out doing yard work. Within minutes, Robbie had run down the street back towards our house. And then he was headed for the street. Now, we live right across the street from a grocery store, so things get pretty busy. I dropped the leash and my phone and dashed after him. I’m not sure what scared Robbie more – the fact that I was so upset he’d been out in the street or that a stranger was holding his dog’s leash.

We recovered from the event nicely, having dinner and bath time and reading some books. Then it was time for a little Elmo. It started off simply enough, but then Robbie reached for the cat who was jumping off the bed. And followed him. Even though he’s big enough that slipping off the bed isn’t a big deal, it’s still a decent way to the ground. I couldn’t tell you the last time I jumped off the bed that fast. He was up and cuddled in my arms in seconds. Within a minute, he popped his head off my shoulder, smiled at Justin and me, and said, “Ready, Mama. Watch. Elmo.”

Some days I think a girl would have been so much easier… But I’m a teacher. And I know how it gets once middle school hits. I think I’ll pay in advance with a rambunctious toddler. Remind me of this tomorrow.

Small Pleasures

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I get so busy that I forget how amazing the world can be. All it takes is one walk from the gym to the car with Robbie for me to remember that there’s magic all around us; I just have to slow down to see it.

Robbie burst out of the gym doors and ran down the sidewalk, muttering, “Running! Running! Running!” He loves it! Remember when running was fun and not something you did for an hour on the treadmill trying to undo the piece of chocolate you had at 2:00 in the afternoon? I didn’t – at least not until my kid thought it was hilarious. And, boy, does he. He laughs like a maniac, loving how his voice vibrates as his feet hit the pavement. He could run for hours.

Or, until he spies flowers. Robbie stopped, mid-run, and yelled, “Flowers!” And then he was off, running into the field next to the gym, hopping from one patch of dandelions to another. He finally found the perfect one, crouched down, and carefully picked it. Robbie recently learned about the magic of dandelions, and, as soon as the flower was in his grubby little hands, he started blowing. And blowing. And blowing. The poor little boy didn’t realize that the dandelion wasn’t “ready” yet. Undaunted, he continued blowing the dandelion the rest of the way to the car.

You know what? I thought about carrying Robbie to the car today, rushing to get home. But then I wondered why I was in such a hurry and let him have a little fun. I’m so glad I took the extra five minutes. It was worth getting to remember the magic of being almost two.

Daycare Drama

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Zhining hit me with the news on Friday afternoon. One of the girls from daycare wouldn’t be coming back, partially because of my son. The little girl stopped sleeping through the night when she started going to daycare. As the father was talking to Zhining about it, Robbie walked up to her, and smacked her in the face. I. Was. Horrified.

Zhining assured me that it was just what kids do, and I know she’s right. After all, I’ve watched Robbie’s best friend at daycare slam him into the side of a crib. I’ve watched Rob play with the boys – anything goes. But that doesn’t make it any better when I find out my kid’s doing it at daycare. To make matters worse, as Zhining and I were talking about what happened, Robbie walked up to the little girl, grabbed her face, and started squeezing. Then, after I managed to untangle his fingers from her face, he slammed his bag of snacks onto the top of her head.

I’ll be honest, this has happened at home. A lot. We’ve tried talking to him about it, but it doesn’t do any good. And I will not be the mother who sounds like a broken record saying, “No, Robbie. We don’t do that. No, Robbie. That’s not very nice.” So, we had a family meeting and explained the new procedure to Robbie. Any time he tries to bite, hit, or pinch, we will tell him no – once. After that, it’s time for a swat on the legs. When he does anything else, we’ll tell him no once and then it’s a time out. So far, we’re doing OK. Rob seems to have a grasp on consequences, and everyone’s been happy at home. And daycare.

Doing the Dishes

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Rob’s really growing up. Tonight after dinner, he walked around the dining room, gathering everyone’s dishes and stacking them nicely. He looked at Justin and myself, gave us a big grin, and took the dishes into the kitchen.

I was marveling at how impressed with Robbie’s manners I was when Justin started laughing. My darling child, in an attempt to help, was throwing the dishes in the trash. He then waltzed back into the dining room and proclaimed himself, “Helper!” Indeed, Rob. Indeed.

Disco Date Night

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We’ve gotten into a rut. Call a babysitter. Go to dinner at Tango. Come home. And, as nice as it is to have a favorite restaurant and time to actually go there, it was time for a change. So I trusted Justin’s judgment on date night selections, even though it was something I would never actually do. We went to The Donkey Show.

For those of you as uncultured as I, The Donkey Show is a gay-tacular, disco version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Can’t quite picture it? Neither could I.

After surviving the apocalypse and having dinner with friends to celebrate our pardon, Justin and I headed to the show. We lined up outside of the theatre-turned-night-club, complete with bouncers. The show started with an argument in the middle of Mass Ave., much to the dismay of all the motorists trying to make their way down the busy street into Harvard Square.

The first hour of the “show” was spent dancing in a night club with male dancers donning more glitter than I’ve ever seen in one place. Women flocked to the floating stages, being pulled up to dance. Now, if you know me, you probably know that I don’t dance. Ever. So this was not destined to be a fabulous date, especially because Justin opted for dance floor tickets instead of table tickets. There was no where to escape all the dancing people. However, after a few adult beverages, I started having a little more fun.

And then the real show started. Mis-matched lovers, potions, fairies (you know those dancers – they played the fairies), donkeys, sex. It was everything a Saturday night could need. And, despite my initial feelings of dread about our date, I can’t wait to go back again.

GTL

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Or at least gym, since Justin took care of the laundry and there was no sun in sight for tanning. I escaped the house for two beautiful hours today. I went running. By myself. I got caught up on The Biggest Loser. I got to stay at the gym as long as I wanted without worrying about anyone throwing a temper tantrum or clawing another child.

And, as nice as that was, it was a little lonely. I like my gym buddy. Rob actually makes going to the gym fun. I like watching him play and laugh. It’s a lot more fun than starting straight ahead on the treadmill.

Living

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It’s been forever since I blogged. I’ve thought about it. Really, I have. But I just haven’t done it. I’ve been too busy living my life to write about it. That sounds harsh, and that’s not how I intended it. For a week, though, it was really nice to be so wrapped up in everything I was doing to have time to stop and write about it.

Last weekend, I finally realized that I was jealous of Justin. He gets to travel occasionally for work, goes to the gym after work without a two-year-old, and ventures to Boston College twice a week for class. And my jealousy was killing me, making me angry and unfair. Once I realized this was what was going on, I was able to articulate my feelings to Justin. And you know what? He heard me.

I spent Saturday night at a movie – all by myself. Well, almost all by myself. I had a whole row of four seats to myself until five minutes before the movie started. Someone asked me if the two seats by the aisle were taken, and I said no. Then she plopped herself down right next to me. No buffer seat. No friend meeting her later. And she was an enthusiastic movie watcher – nearly jumping out of her seat every time something was funny, loudly commenting her disbelief. I wasn’t sure if I should be irritated or enjoy feeling like I was watching the movie with someone who was my friend, someone who so unabashedly enjoyed life. Or at least a movie. But, I was a little irritated.

More entries to follow on how I actually lived the past week.