Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In Loving Memory

I’d like to take a moment to pay my respects to a dear couple of friends who met their demise this week.
After a least four years playing antics in our house, taking innumerable trips around the world, protecting Saylah when she was scared, and serving as great siblings to Saylah, I am sad to say “Ghost and Another Ghost” were outted yesterday, along with their co-horts; Wally Weeber and Pirate.

I can’t exactly remember what they looked like, though she described them to me several times, and I’m unclear of their ages because they seemed to have birthdays like every five days for a while. I do know though that they were great kids who apparently were very mature (for whatever age they were), frequently sick with some weird ailment, and able to float through glass doors. Ghost and Another Ghost, Wally Weeber and Pirate offered endless heart giggles to me and many in our family.

If you’ve not figured it out yet, G and AG, Wally Weeber and Pirate were Saylah’s imaginary friends.

Ghost joined our house when Saylah was around two, shortly after Audrey was born, if I recall correctly. Soon after observing me with my brothers during a family visit, Another Ghost joined the scene. Even though Say was a new sister, apparently she wanted brothers because she has held on to the stance that Ghost and Another Ghost were her brothers ever since that time. Beginning her trend of social non-compliance with typical family rules, such as having the same mom and dad, Saylah insisted Ghost and AG (who had different parents) were her brothers. (Not adopted btw, because I asked that too.)
When they first arrived on the scene, my mommy skills were immediately tested. It was funny how Saylah would be sitting nicely in her chair, but Ghost would throw food on the floor or tell a tall tale. Not to be out-witted just yet by a then-two-year-old, this Momma got quick, real quick, and immediately put Ghost in time out for breaking the rules. Funny thing, he quickly stopped breaking the rules. (There’s a tip for you parents out there should you be visited by any imaginary friends.) 

My mom was the one who noticed that Ghost and Another Ghost tended to show up whenever Say was nervous about something or in a non-familiar place. I’d get a tickle watching her in my review mirror on the way to somewhere and she’d be giggling and talking to her “brothers.” Often they would help her stick up to someone or lend her an ear to vent her woes.

I can only assume that since Ben and I played along so well, she was inspired to invite Wally Weeber into our home. However we didn’t hear much about him too frequently because Ben and I adopted a theme song for Mr. WW. It went to the tune of “Let’s go Cardinals, clap, clap, clap clap.” Sung like: “Wally Weeber, clap clap, clap clap.” She, nor Wally Weeber, were amused. I guess that’s why he didn’t come around as often. Let this be a lesson to you – imaginary friend teasing is NOT. Nice.

After the pirate craze took over in Central Florida, Pirate joined their crew. We didn’t hear a lot about him either actually, but the foursome traveled together a lot. 

Once Audrey claimed Ghost told her something, but Saylah of course was quick to let her know that she in fact did not hear anything from Ghost because he only talks to her. Poor Audrey, even her imaginary ghost brothers ganged up on her!

As the years went on the brother crew “showed up” less and less in our house. I’d occasionally ask her how they were doing and she’d reply, “Oh fine. They are spending the night at their mom’s house tonight.” Or, “They’re good, but Another Ghost was just sick. Ghost coughed on him and now he’s throwing up.” (Probably should have washed his hands more.) 

She is now seven and up until last night, she has sworn they were real. I never came out and directly asked her if they were or weren’t, but she would describe them in great detail, so I know she 100% believed in them. But last night during tuck in, after I asked how G and AG were doing, and after she said fine, she sheepishly leaned over to me and whispered, “Mom, Ghost and Another Ghost aren’t really real.” Then she looked a little nervous. I replied, in a whisper, “I know.” She giggled.

I’ve been wondering for years when her friends would disappear for good. I’m kinda sad to see their time complete. I’d like to give them a hug to say thanks for all the fun they brought to our home and all the comfort they brought to Saylah. Unfortunately, I can’t find their shoulders to do so. 


Monday, October 15, 2012

Green with Envy

Birthdays are a tricky nugget in a family’s dynamic. 

My parents (well, mostly my Dad I think) have always stood on the box of “if it is one kid’s bday then don’t buy a present for the other kid too.” My friend’s mom has a different belief all together and refuses to be the grandma who only brings a present for one child and no others. I’ve heard parents who believe it is paramount to encourage sharing of the new toys as soon as the bday giant opens them. And other parents who believe it's that kid’s new toy and he doesn’t have to share it.

Although we’ve tended to lean towards the, only give the birthday kid a present and she doesn’t have to share it immediately, but does have to share it at the latest, by the next day, I am aware that as they age, I'm often rethinking my own soap box on the subject.

We just celebrated Saylah’s birthday about a week ago. It was a blast for everyone … that is, well, except Audrey.

It all started off amazingly well. Grandma and Grandpa have created a tradition where they take the birthday kid to pick out her present and then go have a little treat together. So Saturday they take Saylah out for a shopping extravaganza! Audrey was soooo excited for her big sister. And I was rather proud of myself, because I had prepped Saylah how to respond to Audrey when she got home in order to share in her fun. So Saturday went off without a hitch. 

Sunday we had a little birthday party and again, Audrey was soooo excited to celebrate with her sister and see her get cool gifts. Second celebration day completed melt-down-free. Phew! 

Monday (Saylah’s ACTUAL birthday), Audrey woke up before Say and bounced in her room sooooo excited for her to see her decorations and celebrate her real day. She was thrilled about her special birthday dinner, loved singing her happy birthday and was pretty excited about Saylah's presents … until, well, about 2/3 of the way through the gift opening. That was when poor Audrey apparently reached capacity and simply … lost it.

I can’t blame the little thing. First, she’s four. Second, three days of birthday festivities for someone else is more than anyone should be expected to endure. And third, when your sister gets the presents you want, time and time and time again … that gets to be a might bit annoying I’d have to think.

So, Audrey turned from Saylah’s birthday cheerleader to what I can only describe as the birthday basher from hell. I imagine her behavior is probably what a child would look like if one parent favored another sibling over him all the time. She was into everything. She was mad about any little thing. I’m pretty sure she was making it her goal to get in trouble, just to get some sort of recognition. All this was frustrating and even a bit maddening to Ben and I as it was going on. But my heart truly hurt for her when I noticed she had given up and quietly retreated to simply “read” a book on the couch while the rest of the family played with Saylah’s new toys.

To me, it’s “funny” how these parenting things happen so quickly, before you are even able to pinpoint why your child is behaving the way she is. One minute we’re all hyped about presents, the next Audrey’s getting yelled at, the next she’s getting put in time out, the next she’s being corrected again and finally (three minutes later) you are realizing, “Hey wait.? She doesn’t typically act like this  … what IS going on?”  The parenting light bulb goes on and finally you are able to swing into action and try to curtail the impending train wreck that is going full-steam ahead.

And full-steam ahead it went. I did my best to encourage her to interact and changed my tone to help her work through it. But the best thing I did (not bragging, just glad I thought of it) was when I tucked her in. I let her melt down; in private, room door closed, and in my arms.

She wailed and cried. She was sad about the cool toys she didn’t get, wishing she had a big birthday party and wanting to go shopping for presents too. Three days of unrecognized angst needed to be vented. Sometimes we all need to vent don't we? And as parents, it is cool that sometimes we have the head about us to actually be able to listen and tolerate the vent as well.

She cried, we talked, I held her, we hugged and she went to bed with tear-stained cheeks highlighted by a beautiful smile and a sweet little giggle.

In the end, it probably makes little difference the soapbox you stand on about presents and such on birthdays. But I believe it certainly means a lot to take heed regarding how the little hearts in your family endure and accept your stances.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

And the Fun Keeps Coming ...

This is an addendum to the last post.

There is no sadder sight than seeing two parents lying in misery on the floor while a toddler bounces around the house, eating cheerios, playing blocks and watching Cars … all day long.
That’s right, the midnight creeper didn’t strike at midnight, but he struck about 6 a.m. and he struck the parents!

I’m sorry but it’s one thing for the kids to be sick. Your heart goes out to them and you really wish you could do something to make them feel better, you really do. But when the parents are sick … both of them for that matter … well, it’s down right pitiful.

This is one of those things no one tells you when you decide to be a parent. Um, there are NO sick days. That’s right. Oh and even though you feel bad for your little one … well, they aren’t emotionally mature enough to feel sympathy for you. So, you still have to function … at least somewhat.

I woke up on Tuesday and immediately knew I was sick. I stumbled out of bed, hunched over, NOT amused, and went to make sure the girls were up. Thankfully they’re already in the habit of getting up and getting themselves ready for school. And since Isaac was born, they’ve found it a treat whenever I let them make their own breakfast. So, I gave the “go” command and they were off. That gave me minutes to lay back down and feel sorry for myself.

Saying they have no sympathy isn’t entirely fair. Actually, Saylah made Isaac’s breakfast too. And once he was downstairs, and I was again lying on the floor, she put him in his booster seat and buckled him in.

Thankfully I had made lunches the night before, so no need to get myself near to any food – or food smells. Shoeless and still in jammies, I think, I herded the three kids into the car to get Say to her bus.
We returned home and my brain started focusing on how I was going to get Audrey to school and what on earth was I going to do with Isaac all day? If you’ve not been sick with a baby in your house, you are in for a treat should you ever have the experience. They don’t understand, don’t care, and quite frankly they seem on that particular day, like they have more energy than they’ve ever possessed.
Lucky for me I’ve got many options for help. So I set out to call in the reserves.

First on the save-me-list: my husband. Who, when he answers the phone sounds a lot like I feel. Uh oh. He informs me that he thinks he’s sick and contemplating coming home. Okay, strike one.

Second on the save-me-list: Mom. Grandma loves hanging with the kids and I just know her mom-instincts will kick in just as soon as she hears my pitiful plea.  Strike two.

Whereas she did feel bad for me, she had appointments all day. And, well, she even asked if she should come on her normal day (Wednesday) since she didn’t want the creeper either. So much for mom instincts. LOL To give her credit she IS coming on Thursday. She just wanted to give those creeper germs a day or so to die. Which really I don’t blame her.

Option three: neighbor. I saw her car at her house. If she could just take Isaac for a couple of hours I could sleep and then maybe, just maybe I could survive. Or, I could grab him and put him down for his nap and sleep some more. I. Just. Need. To. Survive. The. Day.

Strike three: it seems the midnight villain attacked her, her 19-month-old and her 3-year-old! Poor thing!

So I had really struck out on the help with Isaac thing.

I did however luck out on the taking Audrey to school thing. One friend offered to take her and another offered to bring her home. So, I could at least enjoy my misery in the comforts of my own house (with my really pretty hair, lovely sweats, and pale face).

Ben got home and we literally both laid on the couch or floor all day long, napping when we could sneak it in, letting Isaac walk around with food (something I NEVER do) and trying to entertain him from a horizontal position.

Our day ended early; we put all kids down by 7:15. I let Saylah read books and play blocks in her bed. Audrey had proven by the nuclear meltdown she decided to have that she needed to go to bed early anyway. And, well, Isaac, he pretty much got the shaft all day long. I hit the sack at 7:17 and slept until 7:05 this morning.
Today Ben and I are back in the game today. My house … well, that’s a different story. Did I mention I hate this time of year? 

Monday, October 1, 2012

'Tis the Season

A nightly invader has been creeping into our home and attacking the tummies of my children. In fact, this sinister monster has invaded the tummies of many of our school-aged friends around town as well.

Although we welcome the cute little monsters that appear in the form of spaghetti faces, muddy paws and even occasionally accept the crank-pot kind that show up after a day of fun and ultimate exhaustion, this little night creeper is not welcomed.

Rewind two weeks ago, time: 2 o’clock in the morning. A little voice comes into my room … “Mom, I threw up.” From a sleepy stupor I mumble in my pillow, “what?” Little voice (Saylah I later realized), “I threw ….” Yack all over my floor. “Shoot.” (Truth be told, the word was a little more forceful, but I’ll refrain out of respect for blogging etiquette.)

I immediately hopped out of bed (did I mention it was TWO a.m.?), realized it was Saylah, and started mom’ing the situation. Poor little thing had been sick several times (I’ll spare you the details) and would continue to be sick until about 4:30 in the morning.

It was so odd because she had no fever at all. In fact, she wasn’t even clammy. But for sure you could tell when the invader would strike because her breathing would quicken and she’d begin to whine. I tried everything to sooth her. I laid down next to her in bed, I gave her a heating pad, we even tried to watch a movie to distract her (btw, Barbie and Princess Charm School – equally annoying at 3 a.m.), and finally little one was able to catch some rest after a warm bath.

Aside from the early stages of pregnancy, I cannot recall a time when I have been as tired as I was the next day. Little miss however, was bouncing off the walls and ready to play. As were the other two who had slept very nicely that night. Like a good (aka desperate) mom would do, I put on a movie (Barbie again) and stuck a bowl of Cheerios in front of them and fell asleep on the couch in the next room.

That was strike one of the midnight creeper. 

Fast-forward to this weekend; exactly 7 days after the first attack. Isaac wakes us up at about 3 a.m. In my new, peach-colored jammies, I stumble into his room. His cry is evident of something wrong, but I’m not quite sure yet what it is. I feel his head, no fever. I check his mouth – yep the bink is still in it. (A typical cause of late night wakings). So I climb into his crib to cuddle him and help him sooth. No sooner do I pull him onto my lap, in the dark dark room than do I hear the telltale sign that my new jammies have been splattered! Again … shoot. ;)

Unlike a six-year-old, there’s no talking a baby into calming down and that being sick will be okay. Isaac was nearly as unhappy with the situation as I was. For several hours Isaac continued to sooth, then be sick, sooth, then be sick. We tried sleeping on the couch, the floor and finally succeeded (well he did) falling asleep while I rocked him. Me? The only parts of me that slept during that time were my arms and legs as I sat contorted in the glider.

The next day, the creeper had disappeared, thank Goodness! And of course, I was exhausted. Three hours and three jammie outfits later (me not Isaac) I can say that I was thankful Ben was home that day because I slept the greater part of it while little man and his sisters played it away (with no tummy woes). 

Note to Mr. Midnight Creeper going around Orlando. You need to go away now. You are not fun.