Monthly Archives: February 2013

My Pirate…

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This morning, Justin was up and out early to go skiing with my mom, leaving Robbie in my capable hands.  Around 8:00, Robbie got out of bed to use the bathroom.  I should have known it was too quiet, but I was so enjoying the few minutes of peace before it would be time to get ready for church.  And then, all too suddenly, it was over.

I rolled over as Robbie came back in the bedroom and sucked my breath in as I took in the sight before me.  Robbie’s face was covered in black marker.  Circles and circles around his face.  I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry – I tried to contain my desire to do both and wound up shaking so hard that the camera couldn’t get a clear picture.  I pulled him into the bathroom to try to figure out exactly what to do (this particular marker came from Chinese school, and we’ve had an experience like this before; the marker loves skin).  As I evaluated, I asked Robbie what he had been thinking as he decorated his face, assuming there had been no real plan.

“I’m a pirate, Mom.  See, here’s my ‘stache and my beard.  I look kinda like a pirate.”

“Ah, yes.  I see.  And what about the marker on your forehead.”

“Oh.  That’s my face mask.”

“Very thorough, Robbie.  And don’t you think you look a little ridiculous?”

“Oh, no.  I look like a pirate.  I look great!”

And so, all day, we went around with faded, smeared marker on Robbie’s face.  At one point, I said, “You look kind of like Captain Robert.”

As he skipped along the sidewalk beside me, Robbie proclaimed, “No, I’m not kinda like Captain Robert.  I AM Captain Robert.”

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Last weekend, Justin and I flew to Boston to visit our good friends Micah and Allie.  It was our first trip back since our move, and I wasn’t sure how Justin and I would feel about being back.  It was bizarre to fly into Boston but not be going home.  Instead, we made our way to the rental car and drove to Arlington.  As we drove, Justin and I reminisced about our first Boston driving experiences and the different events of our time in Boston.

Being there was strange…  I think because I expected to feel more of an emotional connection when we got back.  Justin and I spent seven years in Boston, almost six in Arlington.  It’s where our son was born.  And still, I was able to drive by our condo and feel very little.  Don’t get me wrong; I loved our time there.  I loved my job and my friends and our house.  And I miss the people I was close with every day.

But it was kind of like visiting an ex-boyfriend.  You’re glad to visit and catch up, but, ultimately, you know you made the right choice to move on.  I was worried about Justin, though.  He hadn’t wanted to leave Boston.  At all.  We talked about it some while we were up there, but Justin really hit it we were driving through downtown Lexington on our way home.  His father once told him, “Your soul knows where it needs to be.”  And, as Justin told me that night, our souls need to be here.

 

My Valentine

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I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day.  It is such a forced holiday, a veritable trap for my husband.  I went through the motions, getting Robbie ready for his pre-school party.  We made sugar cookies and Valentines.  After work, I stopped to pick through the leftover Valentine’s Day cards, hoping to find the perfect card for both Justin and Robbie.  It occurred to me in the aisles of Rite Aid that Valentine’s Day was different for me now; it was something special for Robbie, and I needed to take advantage of that.  So, while I was there, I bought a box of chocolates and a stuffed “love bug” for Robbie.

It’s silly, really.  But, somehow, Justin and Robbie have both become my love bug.  I’ll call out, “Hey, love bug!” and both of them will answer.  Every now and then, Robbie will get into an argument with Justin about which one of them actually is my real love bug.  So, this seemed like the perfect gift for me to pick up.

I came home, excited to give Robbie his presents (and Justin, too, but I knew he wouldn’t be as excited as Robbie).  I walked through the door, and Robbie came flying into the kitchen from the living room.  I gave him his presents  and then got the best Valentine surprise I may have ever had in my life.  Robbie spent two OT sessions working on my present – a little love bug from my own love bug.

And, with that, I suddenly had a new outlook on Valentine’s Day, all because of a sweet little boy who loves me more than I probably deserve.

Living the Rob Life

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When he was a baby, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Robbie much once he turned into a real person.  I love babies – the way they smell, the way they cuddle, the way they don’t talk back or hit or kick.  The prospect of a three-year-old just didn’t really do much for me.  Then I had one and was pretty certain that I was right; I was exhausted all the time and felt like every day was, for the most part, a losing battle.  Or, at the very best, just a battle.  But, all of a sudden, Rob turned into a real person.  And you know what?  I really like him.  Who wouldn’t like a day like this?

It started this morning with me trying to sneak Robbie into some Spider-Man underpants this morning.  It worked – for about ten minutes.  As he was walking down the hall, Robbie noticed something was amiss.  “Mom, am I wearing Underooses?”

“Yeah,” I replied, trying to be casual and throw him off the scent.  We were already late and still had to fix lunch and breakfast.

“I need to see them, then,” he replied, pulling down his pants.

I didn’t have the energy to watch all of this happen while I loaded wet sheets into the washing machine.  But I did hear the gasp of horror behind me as Robbie discovered that he was, indeed, not wearing Underoos.

“Mom.  These are underpants.  You know I don’t wear underpants.  I only wear Underooses.  Where.  Are.  They?” he demanded.

I had prepared for this; the Underoos were in my bathroom.  Chagrined, I headed back to get them.  Robbie followed me, hands on his hips, marching down the hallway.  “You know, Mom, this is very frustrating.  I’m very frustrated with you, Mom.”  No idea where he might have heard that before…

In the car, he informed Justin and his Aunt Hilary that he was angry with me for lying and that I’d been placed in time-out for the offense.

The afternoon was almost as eventful…  I picked Robbie up from pre-school.  When he saw me coming down the hall, he broke into a sprint headed straight toward me, huge grin plastered across his face.  He threw himself into my arms and gave me a big kiss.  All day, I’d been faced with angry middle schoolers, most of whom love to hate me.  But here was someone truly happy to see me.  Apparently, the Underoo issue was forgiven.

However, I was soon thrown back into the dog house when I insisted we go to the gym instead of heading straight home.  Robbie didn’t seem to realize that, although he is in excellent shape, I actually needed to work out.  Eventually, he acquiesced and went to play in the kids’ room.  I ran for an hour and went to collect him.  When I got there, the girls in the kids’ center told Robbie it was time to go.  Finally, after three minutes, he came to the door.  I figured he was finishing a game or something.  No.  Without prompting, my child was cleaning up the toys he had been playing with.

As we walked out of the gym, I stopped to tell Robbie how proud of him I was.  He said, “Thank you.  Yes, ma’am.  I have manners.  I’m trying.”  And what more could I ask for?

 

Manners

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For the past three years, I have been trying to infuse my child with some semblance of manners.  Reminding him to include “please” and “thank you” as necessary.  Correcting his “yeah” with “yes, ma’am”.  But it never clicked, unless to call my “sir” and get a reaction out of me.

Something changed today, though.  We were at the grocery store this morning, and I asked Robbie to carry a bag to car.  He said, “Yes, ma’am.  I’ll carry the bag.  Yes, ma’am.”  Thank goodness Robbie was holding the groceries; I would have dropped the bag otherwise.  And he just looked so pleased with himself, like he knew he’d completely made my day.

Tonight was the same.  Robbie seemed so tickled, replying, “Yes, ma’am” and “No, ma’am” every time I asked him a question tonight.  He even threw in the occasional, “No, thank you, ma’am.”  Between that and the sweet kisses he’s randomly been giving, I think we have a pretty sweet little boy on our hands.  Definitely a keeper.

Running Partner

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Whenever I go running, Robbie begs to go with me.  It doesn’t matter if I’m going to the gym to hit the treadmill or running outside in the rain.  He always wants to go.  Usually (always) I just want to get my run over with, and, in all honesty, I’m worried about improving my times a little (or at least staying consistent).  But yesterday morning, Robbie and I made a plan.  We were going running.  Together.

I got home late yesterday, and I expected Robbie to have found something else to do.  He hadn’t.  As soon as I got home, he climbed off Justin’s lap and told me he had to change into his running clothes.  Five minutes later, we were ready: Robbie, Barkley, and me.  Robbie decided he wanted to run up to the pond to see the ducks, half a mile away.  I just hoped we’d make it to the stop sign .2 miles down the street.

The run started out, well, fun.  We talked about Robbie’s day (there was something about a pirate and chasing his friend with a map).  Robbie encouraged Barkley (“Come on, Bark!  You’re doing great!”).  We made it just past the stop sign when Robbie wiped out – full-on crash into the sidewalk.  It was then that we discovered his shoes were on the wrong feet.  A quick switch of the shoes, and we were off.  We had just crossed the street when Robbie and I got tripped up on a branch in the middle of the sidewalk.  I managed to recover and not hit the ground.  Robbie didn’t fare quite as well.  He scraped up both hands, his lip, and possibly his belly.  But he carried on.

I gave Robbie the choice of running back home or running along the pond and back into the neighborhood.  He said, “We need to keep runnin’, Mom.  We’re really super fast runners.  We’re just runnin’ and runnin’.”  And we were.  He ran along the pond, up a major hill, around a circle, and back down the hill.  Eventually, we headed home.  We made it 1.4 miles before he asked to walk a little bit and 1.67 miles total.  Sure, I’d planned to run three.  But this was way better.

Our Ghost

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I put Robbie in bed tonight and waited patiently for him to go to sleep.  Eventually, the prospect of catching up on Dallas got the best of me.  I told Robbie that I was going to check the laundry and would be back to talk to him in a few minutes.  He promised me that he would stay in bed and go to sleep.  I figured I had ten minutes before he found us in the basement.

It took about fifteen.  I noticed movement by the steps and almost had to do a double-take.  There he was, peaking around the corner of the stairs.  And entirely covered in a beige blanket.  He stayed there for a few minutes, completely silent.  It was all Justin and I could do to maintain our composure.  Then, very slowly, the blanket boy started moving toward the family room, staying close to the wall and as out-of-sight as possible.  Eventually, he couldn’t control himself any longer and started laughing.

Perhaps better parents could have kept straight faces and gotten their children back to bed.  We could not.  Instead, Robbie hopped up on the couch next to me and discussed his plan.  Robbie figured that ghosts are invisible and can’t be seen.  Knowing that they wear white sheets, he found the next best thing – the blanket.  He figured that if he was hiding under the blanket, just like a ghost, it would be impossible for us to see him and know he was out of bed.  Makes sense to me…

Booster Seats

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Robbie has been clamoring for a booster seat for the past few weeks, with grandiose visions of what he wants.  First it was a shark booster seat.  Then a Buzz booster.  Today, Robbie told Justin he needed a Lightning McQueen booster seat from Target.  He is noting if not specific.

And what he got was something quite different, mostly because there weren’t a lot of options at Target.  Justin gave Robbie full reign on which two booster seats he would get – one for Justin’s car and one for mine.  That was more than I knew and walked through the door, nearly stumbling upon the ugliest booster seat I have ever seen.  It’s taken me three hours to define the color.  It can only be defined as Barney-esque.

When I got downstairs, Robbie started talking about my booster seat.  “Did you see it, Mom?  I got you a booster seat for your car.  I picked it out.  It’s pink for your car.”

And that’s when it hit me.  Robbie didn’t buy the booster seat he wanted.  He knew it was going in my car and wanted it to be something I would like.  Once again, he thought about someone else before himself.  All of a sudden, that hideous booster seat was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  It is a beautiful reminder of how much my little boy loves me – more than sharks and Buzz and Lightning McQueen combined.

It’s reassuring, you know?  Every time I turn on the TV or the computer, there is bad news.  Kidnappings, car wrecks, hostage situations, school shootings.  And I can’t help but wonder what their parents think.  Or if they are surprised.  And I can only hope that my child will never be a part of anything terrible.  I pray that he spends his life continuing to think of others and making people smile.  That he will make the world a better place, just like he’s done for me.

Underooses

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Saturday night, Aunt Hilary bought Robbie a present – Spider-Man Underoos.  The first thing he asked for Sunday morning was his new Underoos, and he put them on telling me he didn’t wear underpants anymore – only Underooses like his dad.  Throughout the day, Robbie took every opportunity to show off his new Underoos, stripping down twice at my mom’s house while he was over there playing.

I figured that was pretty well the end of the Underoos and worked on getting Robbie ready for bed.  However, he was quick to inform me that he would not be wearing jammies anymore.  He proudly exclaimed, “I’m not wearing jammies anymore.  I’m sleeping in my Underooses and undershirt like Daddy.”

Just to clarify, and a little perplexed because it was cold and Robbie is firmly devoted to his jammies, I said, “So, let me get this straight.  You are not sleeping in jammies tonight?’

“No.”

“You are sleeping in your underwear and t-shirt?”

“No,” Robbie replied, becoming exasperated by my obvious stupidity.  “I’m sleeping in my UNDEROOSES and UNDERshirt.”

Robbie went on to explain to me that he wouldn’t be wearing a diaper because “I don’t pee in my Underoos.”  While I admire Robbie’s determination to stay dry at night, I didn’t trust it.  After he fell asleep, I put a diaper on under the coveted Underoos.  This morning, he came bounding down stairs, exclaiming, “Mom!  I didn’t pee in my Underoos!”

I looked at him, a little confused.  Finally, I said, “Robbie, you know you’re wearing a diaper, right?”

“Oh,” he responded, looking down.  “No.  I didn’t know that.”

A Really Great Day

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Today was nothing like I expected.  When I found out today was a snow day, I planned to pick up the house, drop Robbie off at school after his two-hour delay, take the dog to get groomed, go to school to get organized, and see a movie by myself.  My plans were thwarted early on when, after dropping Barkley off to be groomed, I realized that school was canceled for Robbie.

We stopped to get coffee and a donut (for me) and a banana muffin (for Robbie) before heading over to my school.  Just yesterday, I told a colleague that I needed four uninterrupted hours to get my classroom organized.  I couldn’t waste a snow day not taking care of this.  When I told Robbie about our plans, I expected resistence.  Maybe even a little crying.  Instead, I heard, “I get to go to your school?  Will we see your friends?  I’m bigger and bigger and get to go to Mommy’s school!”

He was patient and wonderful for three hours.  Sure, he went “fishing” with my ball of twine, resulting in a web of string around all of the tables in my classroom.  And he made me a double dipper, something I acted excited to receive until I realized what it was: shredded Kleenex and gum wrappers in the half-full bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper we claimed from the vending machine with the five quarters, two dimes, and one nickel that were supposed to serve as his lunch money.  Robbie chased Milkshake (the class bunny) around the room and ran through the halls barefoot.  He helped me recycle papers, moved chairs across the room for me to stack them. and pushed heavy tables around to help me create a new seating arrangement.

His reward was Chik-fil-a — with a play space.  He played for an hour, stopping for brief gulps of juice and a hurried bite of chicken nugget.  At one point, he stopped while climbing to the top of the structure and looked out the little window, searching for me.  Our eyes met, and he lit up, holding his hand up with the “I love you” sign displayed.  I signed back, and he blew me a kiss and pretended to hug me from afar.  Then, with a big grin, he bolted up the next stair.  It stopped my world.  This little boy loves me enough to stop playing and tell me he loves me.  And I could have missed that if school had been in session.

We left the restaurant after an hour, heading to Target to buy a birthday present for a friend and a Valentine’s surprise for my favorite sister.  He spent much of the ride talking to himself (we had established earlier that he was just talking to himself, not to me).  I enjoyed just getting to listen to him.  He has a sweet voice, which I don’t always take the time to appreciate.  And then, in the midst of his babble, he whispered, “I’m having a really great day.”

We hadn’t done anything in particular.  In fact, the only really fun thing we’d done was the play place.  But then I thought about it.  He’d gotten to take his dog to get a bath and a hair cut.  He got to flirt with the ladies at The Daily Grind.  He went to a big kid school and talked to someone who knows his Nona.  He played on the computer and played with a bunny and met a new friend who was there with his father.  He succumbed to being tickled, howling with laughter.  He put quarters into a vending machine and got a drink out and pretended to fish.  He pushed and pulled heavy furniture around and ran barefoot through the halls.  He fed two turtles and got a lei and was able to get water out of one of those fancy water dispensers.  And then he went to lunch with a play place, where I did something I never do.  I let him play as long as he wanted — waiting to leave until he was actually finished with his fun, encouraged to go back and play a little more.

Our day continued to get better.  We surprised Aunt Hilary with candy and pencils and heart stickers.  Robbie got to offer candy to everyone in Hilary’s office.  He went to pick up his dog, who was thrilled to see him.  And Robbie got to help me make chocolate chip cookies.  It was a far  cry from everything I envisioned for today.  Perhaps I would have gotten more finished if Robbie had been in school (I found out tonight that closing school for the day was a tough call and almost didn’t happen).  But I wouldn’t have taken the time to really enjoy the person his is right now, the person who finds such joy in so many small things.  So, thank you, Tobie.  Thank you for giving me a day to fully appreciate the wonderful young man in my life.  I needed it more than I realized.