Ball Games

“Daddy, what is your favorite ball game? Like, baseball, football, you know.”

“Playing or watching? And if watching, on TV or in person?”

“Playing.”

“Let me think.”

Now, I knew the answer to this. Of course I did. Hockey uses a puck so that leaves soccer. I know my husband. We’ve been married for over half our lives. So why was it taking him so long to answer?

“Ok, well there’s several.” What?! “Which one I like best changes. But I’d say soccer, foosball, and bocce.”

“What’s bocce?”

“It’s a yard game. Oh, and I love me a mean game of bingo.”

I may know my husband better than anyone else does, but he still manages to surprise me. Then again, I should have known that he’d look beyond sports when asked about ball games. Anything to catch a person off guard.

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Boys in Tutus

When I arrived at the preschool to pick up Hal this afternoon, a dad in the hallway informed me that Hal was wearing a pink tutu. Perhaps he thought this would faze me. It did not. I have a long history of little boys in frilly dress-up.

When I reached the half-door of the classroom, it looked like there had been a fabric explosion. A little boy, not Hal, was strutting about the room in a long gauzy green dress. Another boy was struggling with a hot pink tutu. Yet another was in a blue number.

A little girl in a pale pink dress and a cow head approached me at the door. She explained that her mom (who was not present) had let her wear her Halloween costume and patted the soft horns on her head.

“Are you a cow princess?” I asked her. She nodded and beamed with delight.

I hadn’t yet found Hal. The teacher was sitting against the wall, looking slightly apprehensive. “We are playing dress-up and they can wear whatever they want. That’s what he chose to wear.”

I followed her gaze and found Hal on the floor in a fairly unremarkable dress, looking worried.

“Hal, you look absolutely stunning but we need to go to church. Can you take it off and get your shoes back on, please?”

He smiled broadly and proceeded to talk to me about all the various dress-up options. I noticed that the only children wearing the boring “boy” dress-up uniforms were… girls. And if all the boys weren’t wearing dresses, I’m pretty sure it’s just because there wasn’t enough to go around.

Hal doesn’t have a lot of experience with dress-up dresses. Daryl, on the other hand, lived in them for quite some time at around the same age. His sister had a chest full of them. He coveted them, hoarded them, tried to sleep in them. He thought dresses were the best thing in the world.

One memorable Sunday before he was potty trained, he quickly dressed himself for church. Unbeknownst to me, he had taken off his diaper and donned a pair of ballet pantyhose instead. When I came to pick him up from the nursery after the service, the lady explaining his accident to me was looking at me very strangely. Since most kids his age couldn’t dress themselves, particularly not in something as difficult as pantyhose, she had assumed I had done it. That was a rather awkward moment.

As Hal and I left the school today, he told me how much fun it was to try on dresses and how much he’d like to have some at home. I agreed that it was fun to dress up. I’m not worried about my son and I am grateful that his school does not enforce strict gender stereotypes when it comes to playtime. Donning a fluffy dress doesn’t make a little boy confused or gay. It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s secretly a girl inside. It simply means that, let’s face it, the fluffy dress is a lot more fun than the police uniform. Unless the uniform comes with a gun. Or maybe a sword. Daryl took the best of both worlds when he infamously ran around my brother’s house in a Disney princess dress with a plastic sword shoved down the front. I believe he called himself a “Ninja Princess”.

“Mommy,” Hal said as we approached the car, “I want you to wear some dress-up. I mean real play dress-up, but not little. Big. For you. Not a real dress, a dress-up one. I would like that.”

“Ok, Hal. We’ll have to see about that.”

The Continuing Saga of Jane and the Microwave

As I was preparing my breakfast plate for the microwave this morning, Jane jumped ahead of me and put a small apple-juice bottle full of ice in it. This is the bottle that she deliberately partially fills with water and places in the freezer so that she can have cold water at lunch.

“Why are you microwaving that?”

“Because I want to melt it.”

“Well you just prevented me from fixing my breakfast,” I said as I stopped the microwave, removed the ice bottle, and added my plate.

“And me too,” added her dad.

“Well, fine! I won’t melt it then.”

“Why would you want to melt it anyway? I thought the point was to let it thaw slowly so you’d have water at lunch?”

“Because I wanted it melted!”

“Then why did you freeze it?” asked her dad.

“Uggh! Because I wanted it frozen but now I don’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because I want to put apple juice in it.”

“No,” said her dad, “you can take the water. Besides, you don’t put a bottle like that in the microwave with the lid still on it. It’ll explode.”

“It will?”

It still amazes me how many fundamental microwave mistakes she makes. I don’t recall my mother having to teach me to use the microwave. I think I will write an instructional manual for the boys based on their sister’s mistakes. Here is what will be in it so far:

1) Ask a parent or another adult for a suggestion on how long to microwave your food. You do not yet possess the skills to make this estimation on your own. Three minutes is a long time for a single slice of pizza.

2) Do not reheat items in Ziploc or fold-over sandwich bags, especially if you haven’t opened the bag. You will most likely melt the plastic onto your food and it is never a good idea to eat plastic.

3) Do not place bottles or storage containers in the microwave without first removing or at least unsealing the lid. Failure to do so will likely cause an explosion. This may sound really cool and exciting to you. Just remember that you will have to clean up the resulting mess.

4) Never, ever attempt to microwave clothing to get it dry or warm. This will start a fire and destroy the microwave. Now that you have been warned, you will be required to purchase the replacement microwave if you do this.

5) If you are uncertain on how to proceed with the microwave, do not ask your sister. She is not to be trusted.

It all started with a couple of matching trucks

Sitting at a traffic light with Hal.

“Mommy! There’s two trucks! Do you see them?”

“Yes, honey, I do.”

“No! Those two trucks over there! They are the same color!”

“Yes, Hal, I see them. They are both gray. One is bigger than the other one. Do you think one is the big brother and the other one is his little brother?”

“Yes!”

About then, a large red truck pulls up beside them.

“Look, Mommy! Another truck! It’s a red one!”

“Mm-hm. Is that their sister?”

“No. That’s the daddy.”

“How do you know it’s the daddy and not the sister?”

“Because their sister is dead.”

“Oh.”

Our light has turned green. As we pass in front of them, we see a white truck behind the little gray one in the turn lane.

“And the big white truck is the grandpa. And that other one is the mommy.”

“Ok.”

“And all the little cars are the grandmas.”

I am trying to not draw too many parallels between our make-believe truck family and Hal’s desires for our real one. Surely he loves his sister. Surely he does.

Keeping Secrets

Where should your loyalties lie? If you have both a spouse and a child, who deserves your loyalty more if you must choose between the two? If you keep no secrets from your spouse yet your child takes you into their confidence and specifically asks you to not tell your spouse… what do you do?

My daughter wanted to tell me something but asked me not to tell her daddy.

“I’ve decided I like Amy,” she said sheepishly.

“What?”

“Amy Pond. I’ve decided I like her after all. But don’t tell Daddy!”

“Why do you not want Daddy to know that?”

“Because I said I didn’t like her and he said I would and I insisted I wouldn’t.”

“So you were wrong. What’s wrong with that?”

“Because I don’t want him to know!”

“Well, ok, but why did you decide you like her now?”

“I was reading a book about Doctor Who and I read about Amy Pond and decided I liked her.”

“Wait a minute. You didn’t like her until you read about her? Had you actually seen her before?”

“No, not really. I just saw her in that Christmas special, but she didn’t really have much of a part so I thought I didn’t like her but now I do.”

“Ok. I still don’t see why Daddy can’t know this.”

“I just don’t want him to.”

“Ok.”

Normally, I’d tell my husband anything. That’s what brought on the deep thoughts after such a trivial conversation. As Jane gets older, I start to see situations where she might want to maintain privacy. If not from her dad, then maybe from grandparents or my friends. It made me wonder what I would keep from him, if anything.

I still don’t think I’d keep anything big from him, no matter how much she wanted me to. But ultimately I decided that her character preferences in Doctor Who were worth building trust. So I kept her secret. But encouraged her to tell her dad, while he was within earshot. So she did. Not a big secret, not a big trust. But maybe this is how it starts. Maybe if I keep the little ones, then she’ll trust me enough to understand if I don’t keep a big one from him.

The Case of the Cursed Pajamas

I was in Hal’s room tonight as he got ready for bed. It is supposed to be very cold so I recommended he wear his fuzzy, footed monster pajamas. He agreed. Last night, he had worn a hand-me-down pair from his cousin but when I went in to wake him this morning, he had only been wearing his underwear.

“Where are your pajamas?” I had asked. “It’s way too cold to be sleeping without pajamas right now.”

He had shrugged me off, saying he felt like sleeping that way. All of my kids have strange notions on sleeping attire, so I thought nothing of it.

Back to this evening. As he struggled out of his shirt and I located his fuzzy, footed monster pajamas, he began to speak in a very nonchalant voice, as if what he had to say was of only middling importance to him.

“I am waiting for that pair of tajamas to dry. They have water on them.”

“What pair of pajamas? Why do they have water on them?”

I turned to where he pointed and saw the pajamas that he had been wearing the night before, tangled up with a pair of underwear, resting on a pile of books at the foot of his bed.

As I reached toward them, I could tell that they were not wet because of water.

“Hal! You peed in these pajamas! And you’ve let them sit on these books all day! Look,” I said as I lifted the top book, “This one is ruined. Come on, you need to carry these clothes. Let’s go.”

“NOOOOOoooo!!!! I don’t want to lose these tajamas! NOOOooo!” he cried.

Suddenly, everything fell into place. He thought we were headed to the trash can, not the washing machine. When he asked to wear the hand-me-downs the night before, I had said, jokingly, but maybe it was too subtle for a four year old, “Ok, but if you pee in them again, we are going to have to get rid of them because they are bad luck.”

I said that because he first wore them at Mimi’s house and had an accident that night. We washed them and as soon as they were folded, he wore them again. And peed in them again. Prior to last night, he had had two accidents in nearly a month and both times had been while wearing this cursed pair of hand-me-down pajamas.

Make that three accidents and no dry nights with these pajamas. I have become the opposite of a baseball player who refuses to change his “game winning” socks. I do not trust these pajamas. I think they may encounter an accident while they are in the washing machine. These things happen. Our washer has been known to eat things.

A Matter of Etiquette

Our bathroom, the never-ending remodeling project, does not have a mirror or a sink. This is why I found myself in the kids’ bathroom drying my hair while Jane brushed her teeth.

As she rinsed her toothbrush, she dropped it into the recently spit toothpaste at the bottom of the sink, just as she was turning off the water. She grimaced at me slightly and then turned to wipe it clean on the washcloth hanging on the towel rack behind us.

“Jane! You should have rinsed it off before you wiped it on a towel that other people might use to wipe their faces!”

“What? You mean the washcloth that I used to clean my shoes?”

With eyes wide in disbelief, I said, “If you used that to clean your shoes, you shouldn’t have hung it up on the towel rack where other people might use it.”

“Oh,” she replied, looking slightly abashed. She quickly pulled it off the rack. And then turned to the mirror and… wiped the toothpaste from the corners of her mouth with it. Grinning at me as she did so.

And all this time, I thought it was boys that were supposed to be disgusting.