Being the younger brother

As an oldest child, I didn’t have older siblings to teach me things. Naturally, I set a sterling example for MY brother and sister, but obviously that is not always the case. Lately Alex has picked up things that…well, let’s just say it didn’t take much work to figure out where he’d learned it from.

For one thing, he has been running around with a toy sword, pointing it at people and saying, “pew pew!” Pretty sure he didn’t learn that from Sara and me. He also is prone to sobbing “No fair!” when he doesn’t get his way (okay, that one he *might* have gotten from me).

On the other hand, being the youngest might have advantages. Alex certainly was the easiest of our children to potty train, and I don’t know if that’s because of something about his personality, or if he just has a whole lot of examples to model himself after (and a whole lot of extra people to sit with him and read Little Critter and/or Clifford books over, and over, and over while he’s on the potty…)

It certainly could just be him personally. All of our kids are whip smart. It’s hard for me to remember precisely how smart they were at 20 months, and I remember being impressed by them, but Alex’s language and memory both seem to be well off the charts.

What if he’s the smartest of the three of them? I have to say…the prospect is a little frightening.


They grow up so fast

So most of you probably saw this video from over a week ago now, but I’m saving it here for posterity:

With all the new stuff that Alex is getting up to, it’s easy to forget that the other kids are growing up too!

Ollie in particular just suddenly seems so old all of a sudden. I went to get him out of class early one day for a doctors appointment and I just had to laugh. He’s in real school now! They were doing math, and then when I got there he took care of his math notebook and I was just like, “Wow, he’s like a real kid!”

In fact, Evelyn had some multiplication flash cards the other day, and Ollie was pretty dang good at them.

He has gotten so good at reading all of a sudden. I remember this with Evelyn too, but it’s like he just got to that point where he realized that there’s writing everywhere, and he can read it. He’s reading billboards, the backs of cereal boxes, and addresses on Christmas cards. It’s like a whole new world! It’s so much fun to listen to him read an Elephant and Piggie book.

He’s also a very detailed artist. He can sit and draw for HOURS, and he draws these really elaborate scenes. He loves to explain to you all the little nuances and hidden things he’s added to his drawings, and he gets very clever with them.

And if that wasn’t enough, Ollie started taking piano lessons! It seems absolutely crazy to me, but there it is. He is so excited about it! I can tell he feels grown up too; he’s very proud. And even songs like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” seem so impressive when this little boy is playing them!

Not too long now before he starts writing his own blog!

The boy with two mothers

Evelyn has always been the “mothering kind” so the story I’m about to tell you should surprise exactly no one.

Yesterday evening, Ollie was complaining about his ear hurting, which wasn’t a huge surprise since they’ve both been sick and Evelyn is just getting over an ear infection. Ollie is not a big complainer, so we’ve learned to listen to him when he says something is wrong (because he won’t mention it unless it’s really, really wrong!) So we gave him some ibuprofen, lots of love and kisses, and tucked him into bed.

This morning Evelyn came skipping upstairs. “Boy I’m tired,” she said. “Ollie kept waking up crying all night long and I had to go in and check on him.”

“What do you mean? Why didn’t you come and get us?” I said.

“Oh, it was okay,” said our little ENT. “He had an ear infection, so I looked in his ear, and then we made a plan: I gave him his dinosaur and told him every time his ear hurt he should hug his dinosaur. Then I gave him a kiss and tucked him back into bed.”

Sure enough, when I went downstairs to wake him up I found him clinging to his dinosaur.

We tried to impress upon them that they really should get a grownup in situations like this (who, at the very least, could administer medicine)(NO CHILDREN ADMINISTERING MEDICINE), but…he was happy, she was happy…what are you gonna do, you know?

These kids, I tell you what.

(I especially like that she looked in his ear. How would she even know what to look for?)


Ollie’s Darth Vader Drawing: A Critical Perspective

Ollie drew this picture of Darth Vader the other day, and I have to share it with you:


So, here we have Darth Vader, beset on all sides by light sabers (the red and blue things coming in from the sides; “light savers” as Ollie calls them). Kiiind of a lot of light sabers for the historical period in which Darth Vader would have been wearing his mask, but I’ll allow it. Things look grim for our hero.

You can see the red ball down in the right corner is actually a blaster bolt coming from Han Solo’s gun. I appreciate this detail, because it does feel like Han is one of the few “main” characters who 1) is involved in a lot of combat, and 2) is not a jedi. I like it.

Even better is that one of the light sabers is being blocked by a lightning bolt out of what is depicted as a clear blue sky; an obvious reference to the powers of the dark side.

Unfortunately, Darth is clearly holding Kylo Ren’s light saber, which is historically inaccurate, and completely unforgivable.

F double minus.

Ready for Kindergarten, at least from a sneakiness perspective

Ollie is having trouble letting go of summer. Every day we tell him to wear pants or a long sleeved shirt, and he resists. “It’s too hot!” he says. “No it’s not, it’s 60 degrees outside right now!” we say (to deaf ears). He swears he will die of heat stroke if we make him wear long sleeves, and he swears he’s never cold.

Now that Oliver is in kindergarten, we have been trying to give him a little more autonomy. Or maybe I should say, trying to force him to take a little more autonomy, because he in no way is asking for it! He would rather do pretty much anything else. Every morning when he wakes up it takes 5 or 6 reminders before he actually gets dressed.

So when he does get dressed by himself, it is a bit of a surprise. On this particular morning, he did just that, telling us not to come into his room and then suddenly coming out fully dressed. “Okay,” I thought, “if he wants to ‘surprise’ us, fine. Whatever it takes for him to get dressed.” We noticed that he was wearing a short sleeve shirt under his long sleeve shirt, but this is not exactly an unusual fashion choice for Ollie. As long as he is presentable enough to leave the house, I couldn’t care less (see also, persistently wearing his shoes on the wrong feet every day for the last 3 years).

Until I got this message from Sara:

“i am sure that he got dressed quickly in his room this morning, wearing the long sleeve shirt like i asked, because he planned to take it off and switch to the short sleeve shirt as soon as he got to school!  it’s in all the pictures!  what a stinker!  maybe he is more ready for kindergarten than i give him credit for!”

Unfortunately for Ollie, this is 2015, and teachers like to send pictures throughout the day. Sure enough, as soon as he was out from under our watchful eye, he switched to the short sleeves, and he had planned it all along, which is why he was acting weird and secretive when we saw the undershirt.

This does strike me as a particularly “kindergarten” thing to do. Sometimes he seems so young, but then he reminds me he’s not anymore. What’s next, sneaking out of the house at night?

Fast forward to this morning. I had forgotten all about the incident above, and I was double checking his tooth brushing skills when I noticed something blue poking up from his waistband…sure enough, he had a short sleeve shirt tucked down the front of his pants!!

I stressed to him that he should not try to hide things from us, and that if he wanted to take a short sleeve shirt in case he got hot, he should put it in his backpack, not down the front of his pants. In fact, he should probably not put anything down the front of his pants.

Sometimes I think the only reason we have any control whatsoever as parents is that kids are so terrible at fooling us…

Good Fairies

You may remember that I blogged about the “mischievous fairies” game a few years ago (wow, has it really been 3 years?). More recently, Ollie and Evie have been keeping the game alive and well, attempting to sneak out at night and smother us whilst we slept perpetrate low-grade mischief.

The mischief has been increasingly mischievous, bordering on downright naughtiness. I think Evelyn, at least, has picked up on the fact that we have not been very pleased to wake up to a huge mess, even if it is accompanied by cute little notes.

Lately, however, there has been a new twist on the old game. Saturday and Sunday morning we were visited by GOOD fairies:


Rather than causing trouble, the good fairies are helpful. They clean up their rooms. They put away all the laundry. They even did the dishes.

It is very sweet, and MUCH nicer than the mischievous fairies. However, Sara and I mostly just quake in our beds wondering what in the world all the racket is, and how long it will take us to recover from all the “help”.

The good fairies are *very* well intentioned. See? They even put away dishes:


The Shadow Man

The other night, Ollie was crying before bed.

“What’s the matter, buddy?” I asked him.
“I’m scared to go to sleep.”
“Every night a man comes into my room while I’m sleeping. He picks me up and he dumps me on the floor.”
“A man dumps you on the floor?”
“Yes. The Shadow Man. He’s hard to see in the dark, but his legs are as tall as my room. He lives in a cave behind my bookshelf. When it’s night he goes through a tunnel to the shelf above my bed. He uses his tools and he opens up the star [that hangs on the wall above my head]. That’s how he comes into my room. He picks me up in the air and drops me onto the floor. It hurts and I don’t want him to drop me anymore.”

Kids have such an amazing, vivid imagination. They tell you with utmost sincerity these crazy things that they imagine, and they have so many details, so much texture, that you can’t help but believe them, just a little bit. I’ll tell you, lots of writers can’t manage to paint a picture the way Ollie does about the Shadow Man. The more he talked about the Shadow Man, the more the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Imagine how terrifying that would be, if you truly believed it (and he definitely does).

“Ollie, the Shadow Man’s not real. It’s just a bad dream.”
“It’s not just a bad dream! Sometimes I wake up on the floor!”

Well, it’s hard to argue with that logic, although a nebulous Shadow Man who lives in the wall is a long way to go to explain waking up on the floor. I mean, there’s a decidedly more straightforward explanation…

Regardless, I couldn’t shake him on the idea. If he slept, a 12 foot tall man made out of shadows would creep into his room and toss him from his bed. I finally got him to go to sleep by insisting that all daddies had magic songs they sang to weave an invisible blanket of protection over their children from the time they were babies. When it comes to making up stories, two can play at that game!

“Ollie, what if we turned you around so that your head was at the other end of the bed?”
“Yeah, that might work. The Shadow Man would try to pick me up and just get my feet. So he’d probably get frustrated and go away.”

Makes sense.

He got by the next few nights by sleeping clutching a flashlight (I mean, hey, imagine how deadly a flashlight would be to a dude made out of shadows!), but I got tired of sneaking in and turning it off after he was asleep. So finally I put a nightlight in his room.

Now, so far this is pretty straightforward fare. I mean, lord knows how terrified of the dark I was, and Evie as well, so I didn’t exactly see the next turn coming.

“Ollie, how is the nightlight working? Are you sleeping better now.”
“I don’t like it.”
“No? Are you still not sleeping well? Is it not bright enough?”
“No, I’m not waking up at all…I’m lonely. It’s too bright. The Shadow Man isn’t coming anymore.”
“Wait, you want him to come? You…miss the Shadow Man?”
“It just gets lonely at night without him.”

Parenting is confusing.