Tag Archive | parenting

Conversations I Never Thought I’d Have: Part I

Justin

He can’t wait to punch something that won’t get him in trouble.

Conversations in a household populated with four boys can be interesting, to say the least. And the most ridiculous part is when I try to respond. I start off perplexed, and end up being totally vested in it.

Justin: “Mom, what’s worse? Getting stabbed with a knife or a scissors?”
Me: “I don’t know. I suppose it would depend on where you’re stabbed.”
Justin: “But which is worse?”
Me: “Neither of them would be good.”
Justin: “But which one is WORSE?”
Me: “A knife.”
Justin: “How about a chainsaw, or, um…a pitchfork?”
Me: “Definitely a chainsaw.”
Justin: “A machete or one of those…like what do you call those ninja knives?”
Me: “You mean throwing stars?”
Justin: “No.”
Me: “A samurai sword?”
Justin: “No, like just a knife with a curve. Like this.” (Draws a swoosh in the air with his fingers.)
Me: “I don’t know. Probably a machete.”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2014

Heaven’s Feisty New Angel

Katherine (Younker) Schmidt was raised on a farm in Ellis County, Kansas. Born in 1922, she endured the dust bowl, an alcoholic husband, being a single mom, and too many orthopedic surgeries to count. She came from Volga German immigrants, grew up speaking German, and only had an 8th grade education, yet by the time she retired she was probably better off financially than most of today’s educated suburbanites. She got up at 5:00 every morning to go to work as a cleaning lady for a college dorm, and when finished went to her second job as a seamstress at a custom drapery shop. She never wasted a penny, but also never missed sending a birthday card with a $10 bill slipped inside.

Grandma shutting the place down at my sister's wedding only six years ago.

Only six years ago my grandma was shutting the place down  at my sister’s wedding dance.

My birthday is May 12. Hers was May 11, and we both epitomize the stereotypical bull-headed, stubborn Taurus. My mom says any artistic talent I have came from her. She was a wizard with a sewing machine and designed and made most of her own clothes. She wasn’t an affectionate, saccharine sweet grandma, but there was no doubt she loved all of her grandkids and was proud of every one of us. She had a great sense of humor, spoke her mind, was a good Catholic, though not overtly religious, and always had some cans of Old Milwaukee in the fridge. It will be hard to say goodbye, but the last year has been a difficult one for her. She got by on sheer tenacity, and I’m glad she can finally get some rest. Here are a few random memories that will always make me smile.

  • Grandma was forever buying things and then taking them back. She once returned a coat to JCPenney two years after she bought it. It was never used, had tags, receipt, and all, but my Aunt Betty was mortified. “People in this town KNOW me, and know she’s my mother, and she goes and does stuff like that.”
  • We lived two hours away, but my family never missed a holiday at her house. So many Easters, Thanksgivings, and Christmases. Everyone packed in around her kitchen table, eating in shifts. Turkey and out-of-this world dressing. This marshmallow cranberry frozen salad. I remember drinking a fuzzy navel for the first time at her house when I was probably in 9th grade and feeling like one of the adults.
  • Once she was babysitting me along with my older cousins, Vern and Tammy. Those two fought like cats and dogs. I don’t remember what Vern did to Tammy, but the next thing I knew Grandma sat his ass outside on the porch, and he didn’t get to come back in for a very long time. She and Vern were talkers, and he called her all the time, just to shoot the breeze, right up to the end.
  • It took many years before I realized that her favorite expression of exasperation, “YAY-zuss Gott,” was German for “Jesus Christ!”
  • When I was maybe 12, we were out Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving. I found this set of New York Times crossword puzzle books that my mom liked and weren’t easy to find. I was a few dollars short, and asked her to lend me the extra. And she did without question. I didn’t appreciate it then, but knowing now just how frugal she was with money, I realize what a big deal it was.
  • We always had well-stocked Easter baskets waiting for us after Mass, including a big chocolate bunny. When I was about 10, she changed it up, and gave us white chocolate bunnies. Being 10, I ate the whole damn thing. Then threw the whole damn thing back up. I’ve never gone near white chocolate since.
  • Putting things away in her kitchen was slightly overwhelming. She was into the whole reduce, recycle, reuse thing before it ever became the creed of tree huggers everywhere. Obviously the lessons of the Great Depression sunk in, and there was never a bread bag, margarine container, jelly jar, or paper sack that ever went unused. There comes a point in time when you can only use so many Cool Whip containers.
  • I’ll miss her crazy stories and gossip about people from town and bingo and work. I had no clue who any of them were, but listening to her describe how Rosie this-or-that cheated at bingo, or that Mary so-and-so said something about Helen whats-her-face was entertaining beyond words. Her stories about some woman they knew who had the mouth of a sailor literally brought me to tears.
  • When Barry and I were dating and he first met her, she thought his name was Perry. They hit it off right away.
  • She started collecting Santa Claus decorations about 25 years ago. When my mom and her sisters cleaned out her apartment before she moved into assisted living, she had boxes and boxes of them. Most of them were all richly designed, detailed, embroidered, made from velvet, satin, or brocade fabric. She let me pick out two of them last Christmas, and I got one more huge tall one this Christmas. They’ll always remind me of her.
  • Grandma had a closet full of all kinds of fabric, catalogs, wallpaper books, magazines, and clothes. I first discovered Cosmopolitan magazine, and cleavage, snooping through all the stuff in there.
  • My Uncle Guy, my dad’s younger brother, who knew my grandma before my parents were even married because he ran around with my Aunt Gerri, gave her endless shit. And she loved every minute of it. Though it’s hard to find super funny without context, some of his antics included photoshopping a large picture of her to look like she was giving the finger, writing a ridiculous letter to the editor that he read at her 90th birthday party, and captioning pictures of her saying all kind of outrageous and inappropriate things.
  • My grandma drove like Dale Junior. She had a gold Chevy Nova, and I remember driving home from bingo one snowy night with my cousin when I thought we might not make it back in one piece.
  • We took many a summer road trip with Grandma. My Aunt Gerri lived in Utah and my Aunt Pat lived in Minnesota, and we made at least two cross-country journeys to each place, six travelers of various combinations of my cousin, aunt, or my brother and sister packed into a big ol’ Buick. One trip with her car to Salt Lake City was rife with car trouble, squabbles, and mountain driving. And there was never a time when we filled gas that she didn’t have to note the number on the odometer, and calculate the gas mileage, and then discuss it. Every. Single. Fill.
  • She was always known to me as Grandma Schmidt. Of course I knew her first name was Katherine, but would have never called her that. One day I answered her phone, and the person on the line asked, “Is Katie there?” I told her she had the wrong number, and hung up. Then she called back again. “No, there’s no Katie here,” I said, and then someone took the phone, explaining to me that Grandma was Katie.
  • Grandma was always ready to party. She had an epic riverboat casino party in Kansas City for her 75th birthday, and a blowout for her 90th that I think half the town showed up for. She had a regular weekly card game, and was well-known at every smoky bingo joint in Hays, Kansas. The Elks, the Legion, the VFW, church basements…if there were little balls rolling around in a cylinder, she was there. I spent many an awesome Saturday night as a grade schooler sucking in copious amounts of second-hand smoke, playing my cards with Grandma. She’d warn me which ones to stay away from, either because they were “bad” cards, or because some of the other possessive cutthroat oldsters would have my head if I took one of “their” cards. Once I won a $12 pot, and had to split it like three ways. Bought a Kit Kat at the concession stand with part of my winnings. Best. Night. Ever.
  • My son, David stayed with my parents for a week when he was seven. My grandma, mom, Betty, and Gerri drove with him from Kansas to Iowa where I picked him up, and then went on to visit Pat in South Dakota. Grandma was a talker, but she has nothing on David, who can run on for days on any given subject. He sat in the back between her and Gerri, and entertained her the whole trip. But at one point she asked my mom, “Does he EVER stop talking?”
  • My grandma’s house was small. Two bedrooms with a basement apartment that she rented out to college students. When we’d stay with her over holiday weekends, my parents would be in the guest bedroom, I’d get the couch, and Chad and Kim had a foam mattress on the floor (sucks to be the youngest – ha). Grandma would get up at zero dark hundred to go to work in the morning, or actually even if she had the day off, and she did not give one single shit if anyone else was sleeping or what time it was. Clang, bang, rattle, whoosh, whirrrrr, clank. Coffee percolating, pots and pans noisily being put away. Better chance staying asleep on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. Holy shit, she could have woken up the dead from their graves.

I’m sure there is more, and I’m sure she’ll have a hell of a wake where some stories will be told, but right now I’m feeling tired, a little lonely, and a lot older. Bye Grandma. It was fun while it lasted. Tell Aunt Pat we miss her. And try not to be too demanding of the wait staff up there.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2014

Polar Vortex, You Have Five Seconds

At the risk of being a terrible Minnesota cliché, I’m going to spend some time on this post complaining about the weather. Specifically that the forecast for tomorrow morning is -20º F. Throw in a 10 mph wind, and we’re talking about a climate that is less habitable than the inside of a fucking meat locker on the frozen planet Hoth.

So since your face can freeze off in like a minute, and limbs will turn to cord wood, and your tears of pain instantly turn into ice cubes before hitting the ground like that little penguin who tries to hitch along with Bugs Bunny in those old Warner Brothers cartoons, the local schools are cancelled again tomorrow. For the fourth day since returning from winter break. Not counting MLK Day. For those of you who do not know what it’s like to be trapped inside of a closed structure with children who’ve played the same video games, read the same books, watched the same movies, and hung out with the same friends for weeks on end, let me tell you a little bit about it. I realize most of these are very privileged problems to have, but I’m not gunning for sainthood, so I don’t really care.

The day starts out with someone giving you “five seconds” to help him out of bed or he’ll “explode.” Then you go through a hundred breakfast options, none of which are acceptable to any of them, but that’s okay because they can have a nice hot bowl of jack squat instead. Two minutes after stepping into the shower, there is pounding on the bathroom door with a warning that you have “five seconds” to stop his brother from making fun of him. Pretty soon another one is up, and he’s left a trail of drawing paper, pajama pants, socks, basketball cards, and Go-Gurt wrappers in his wake. Next someone wants to take a bath and “accidentally” floods the bathroom floor. A friendly board game breaks out, and lasts approximately five minutes before accusations of cheating and gamesmanship fly, and it ends in someone quitting in anger. Inevitably a war will be waged over control of the TV when they can’t agree on whether to watch SportsCenter, Spongebob, or a movie only one of them is interested in, and I hear that I have “five seconds” to make them give him the remote. Someone will decide to eat lunch at 10:00, and leave a trail of bread, peanut butter, knives, plates, and napkins all over my kitchen. Soon begins the first of five daily debates about whose turn it is to let the dog out. Chores are assigned, and are done, half-assed, only after an hour of nagging. Lunchtime means you’re a short order cook because one person wants fish sticks, another wants scrambled eggs, and someone else makes his own macaroni and cheese, leaving you to chisel dried residue off the pan after it’s been sitting on the counter for an hour. One of the main instigators has the genius idea of playing basketball downstairs, with a real basketball, dribbling, and shooting, but before that hot mess gets underway, he requires everyone to be properly outfitted in NBA attire, which means ransacking dressers to find the right jerseys and wrist bands. And because they all seem to have some rare disease that prevents them from closing any cabinet door, drawer, desk, or cereal box, all the dresser drawers are left open, resulting in great instability and frantic cries from the non-baller left behind in his room when it nearly tips over on him. You’re interrupted every two minutes like clockwork for some request, from resetting passwords to pouring orange juice to attending to phantom injuries. Just when you think they’ve settled into doing something productive, like making a video with iMovie, one of them decides to ruin every take by either farting, coughing, laughing, or diving into the shot. After begging, threatening, and pleading with him to stop acting like an idiot, to no avail, desperation sets in and, against your better judgement, you take out a contract on the perpetrator by texting his older brother to come take care of the problem. Of course excessive force is used, and now not just two people are unhappy, but all four of them, yelling at each other in four-part harmony like the world’s most dysfunctional barbershop quartet. The power cord gets pulled out of the wall awkwardly, severing it in half. Making dinner is a production because every time you are elbow deep in deboning a chicken, or have just chopped up an onion, someone needs your hands for something, and the dog tries to score a taste while you’re distracted. And then you turn around to see 25 sheets of paper strewn across the kitchen table because Picasso can’t get his drawing to look just right, and has to start over every single time, and you’re given another “five seconds” to draw the outline, but ONLY the outline for him. Out comes the rainbow loom, and frustration ensues when the right color rubber band can’t be located, or someone wants to make a “fishtail” design, but can’t get it to work, and you want to tell him that kids in Pakistan are weaving their own fucking magic carpets by the time they’re three years old, so figure it out for yourself. Now you have to drive a kid to his friend’s house, and you’re jealous that the lucky bastard gets to escape this loony bin, and make him aware that he owes you at least $30 in babysitting, which you are goddamnwell cashing in on tomorrow. When you return, your entryway looks like a Goodwill donation center, and you wonder why the coats, gloves, hats, boots, and shoes seem to increase exponentially with each passing week.

And tomorrow it happens all again.

“Okay campers, rise and shine! And don’t forget your booties because it’s cooooold out there today.”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2014

Argument Starters

Do you ever find yourself looking for an argument, but you just don’t know how to go about getting one started? Well look no further, because for a limited time, I’ll provide you with ten FREE statements guaranteed to engage and enrage someone close to you. When my sons use these tried and true words, the fireworks begin. These opening salvos are what you need right now to start a meaningful and heated debate with the potential to escalate violently. And if you ACT NOW, I’ll provide you five MORE at absolutely NO COST. That’s right, a total of 15 bona fide pointless and incendiary comments to aggravate someone for no reason other than to provoke a never-ending dialogue that will result in no winner, only heartache.

  1. “Those are really stupid socks.”
  2. “Let’s snuggle with the dog. I get her head.”
  3. “You’ve never hit a triple.”
  4. “I was sitting there!”
  5. “I had it first.”
  6. “A second grader can beat you up.”
  7. “Popcorn smells way better than brownies.”
  8. “You can’t read my mind.”
  9. “You haven’t even seen Step Brothers.”
  10. “I would be a so much better pilot than you.”
  11. “Penny loves me the most.”
  12. “My injuries have been worse than yours.”
  13. “At least I have friends.”
  14. “This show is terrible.”
  15. “Go away.”

BONUS BONUS BONUS!!!
“A bank and an ATM aren’t the same thing.”
“In the NBA All-Star game you have bench players.”
“You had the Kindle charger.”
“You’re cheating.”
“Mom, he said a swear word.”

DISCLAIMER: The writer assumes no responsibility for damage, intentional or otherwise resulting from the usage of the aforementioned verbiage. Effectiveness is not guaranteed, especially on individuals who are mature, rational, and operate with a sense of reason and empathy for others. The user takes full responsibility for consequences that ensue from usage of this material.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2014

Today’s Menu

Me: “Good morning, sir. What will you be whining about today?”
Justin: “I haven’t decided. What would you recommend?”
Me: “Today we have a wonderful selection of items you won’t want for breakfast, also a list of YouTube Bible videos that won’t interest you because there is only one story about Adam and Eve. If you’re looking for something exotic and new, we have a succulent paper fortune teller that you won’t be able to make, which comes with a side of verbal abuse. And as always, we have our house favorites of sock seams and missing toys.”
Alex: “I will whine about not being able to find a satisfactory Adam and Eve video.”
Me: “Excellent choice, sir. The portions are quite large enough that you will have leftovers for later in the day.”
Justin: “Can I add freaking out over not being able to find an appropriate piece of paper to the fortune teller special?”
Me: “Yes, but that is extra and comes with waking up your older brother.”
Justin: “That’s fine.”
Me: “Just to be sure, waking your older brother is prepared with habañero and extreme exaggeration, so if your palate isn’t accustomed to David telling you that you are never satisfied with anything, and that you will end up getting fired from your job and living in a cardboard box, I would choose something milder.”
Justin: “No, that’s fine, the spicier the better.”
Me: “Great, I’ll be back in a little bit so you can drive me insane and make me wish it were bedtime.”
Alex: “Thank you.”
Justin: “Thanks.”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2013

Fun For The Whole Family

The PTO at my kids’ school is ruining my life. I have three kids in elementary school, 5th, 2nd, and 1st grades. Just filling out registration paperwork in triplicate took nearly an entire afternoon. Top that off with rooting through backpacks, making lunches, volunteering, doing nightly reading, spelling, and math homework, and I’m almost happy I’m not employed full-time, because dealing with it all would be next to impossible. The school isn’t making my job any easier. Here are a few of my grievances.

  • Annual fall fund-raiser. Every September I look forward to my children being pimped out to sell gift wrap, trinkets, magazines, chocolates, and frozen food. They come home with glossy sheets covered with potential prizes they can win. Karaoke machines, tablet computers, iPods, 3D glasses! Sell only 1,500 items and they can be yours! Just tell your parents to send blast messages to their Facebook friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors! Go door to door (but be safe), even though every kid in your neighborhood is selling the same bullshit. I ordered one thing from each kid, resulting in thorough disappointment yesterday when we picked up orders, and Justin and Alex found out that the only prize they qualified for was a bottle of “disappearing” ink. And they forgot to include one prize, meaning one kid had to go without. You know how well that went over.
  • Family Fun Night – More begging for money. Their indoctrination of kids to push their parents into participating is one part Stepford Wives and one part Joseph Goebbels. Food! Music! Games! Prizes! Dancing! FUN! This never fails to remind me of one of Jerry Seinfeld’s best lines: “There is no such thing as fun for the whole family.” So with three kids, $10 a wristband, $5 for food, and I’m soaked for $45 before even walking in the door. And then the fun really begins, walking through the school like a zombie with 300 screaming kids. Tonight is the night the kids have been talking about for weeks. My husband and I are literally arguing over who “has” to go to Family Fun Night and who “gets” to go to the wake of a friend’s mother.
  • Themes – As I write this I realize what a hater I’ve become, but when kids are promised a prize for dressing up in whatever theme one of these fund-raisers has, it puts that much more pressure on me. I’m all for a good party, but not when I’m digging through boxes of hand-me-downs at 7:00 in the morning to find three tie-dyed shirts so everyone is sufficiently outfitted for the Groovy Get-together.
  • Raffle Tickets – In conjunction with Family Fun Night, donors provide items for a raffle drawing. And the school sends home 20 tickets for each kid to sell. And of course the kids are the ones who want to buy them because they’ve been staring at that brand new iPod Touch or signed Adrian Peterson poster that has been on display at school all month. 20 tickets x 3 kids = $60. No fucking way. And as I mentioned before, there’s no pool to sell to because every family in the ‘hood has a kid going to that school, and no one else gives a shit about a raffle for random prizes they can’t even see. But the tickets come home anyway, and my kids go to town filling them out, and pretty soon there are tickets all over the kitchen table, mixed up, torn apart, and I have to explain that I don’t want to spend $60 on raffle tickets, and they get all sad and disappointed, and then notes come home from school because they need the unsold raffle tickets back per Minnesota state law, and write a check for the ones that are still intact, and I gather the rest of them all up into one Ziploc bag, give them to my oldest to deal with, and send a bitchy email to their teachers saying that I really don’t have time to tally up and account for five dozen tickets, and that they may or may not all be there.
  • Healthy Snacks – Last time I checked my children were pretty well fed, if not overfed. When I was young, I don’t recall bringing snacks to get me through the day at school. Even infants can go three hours without being fed, yet we’re encouraged to send along a healthy snack because they get soooooooo hungry. Of course maybe they are hungry since Michelle Obama got hold of the school lunch program, and now the kids are given two mini-corn dogs, some applesauce, and a carrot to subsist on for lunch. But inevitably it results in wars at home over what snack to bring because “Johnny brings candy and chips,” so why can’t they? And if I keep tons of snacks around, my four boys and their friends devour it all up after school so there isn’t anything left to bring, resulting in me keeping the local grocery stores profit line healthy.

Ok. Rant over. I’m going to do some Family Fun Night prepping by making myself a Cape Codder. Or two.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2013

Close Call

You know how when two airliners come within a hair of colliding in mid-air? Even if nothing really happens, no one gets hurt, and everyone continues on their merry way, it’s still a major screw up, right? Someone, the air traffic controller, one of the pilots, both of the pilots, the ground crew, someone fucked up big time.

That’s kind of how I feel about this morning. Our day went on after the critical error, but I think some sort of review board needs to convene later today to discuss the incident, and talk about strategies to prevent future emergencies.

My husband is a fitness fanatic. He gets up at zero dark hundred every morning to work out downstairs. That’s what he does while I deal with the three-ring circus of waking kids up, getting them breakfast, brushing teeth, clothing drama, making sure homework is in backpacks, making lunch, and inevitably trying to fend off some ridiculous meltdown.

Today’s crisis involved a misunderstanding that happened when Alex crawled into bed with me at 6:00 in the morning. He excitedly asked, “Is Halloween tomorrow?” I said yes, we talked about what his friends were dressing up as for Halloween, and he fell back asleep for like ten minutes. Then he got up and told David, who was getting ready to leave, “Happy Halloween!” Then he woke up Justin, and said, “Happy Halloween!” As we were getting dressed, he said, “I’m so excited today is Halloween!”

“Tomorrow is Halloween,” I corrected.

Fire up the seismograph because the earthquake rumblings are starting, and by the time all is said and done, this thing is going to register at least a 7 on the Richter scale. “YOU TOLD ME TODAY WAS HALLOWEEN!!!!”

“No, I said it was tomorrow.”

“You said tomorrow was today!!!”

“What? How can tomorrow be today? It’s ok, Halloween is tomorrow, just one more day. When you wake up it will be Halloween,” I said, realizing that nothing I say at this point will contain what is happening.

“I already woke up. YOU TRICKED ME!!! You’re a horrible parent, you can’t trick me and say it’s Halloween when it’s not. I want Halloween to be TODAY!!!!”

This went on for some time. Things were thrown. Alex proclaimed that he wasn’t going to school. Justin got caught in the crossfire, which resulted in retaliation from both sides. Poor Penny was sitting on the bed, hoping to go back to sleep for a while, looking at us like we were all crazy. Again. Finally, after a good fifteen minutes of drama, I managed to calm Alex down by giving him a hug, and explaining that I was sorry that he misunderstood what I said, but everything would be all right. He relented, let me help him get dressed, and was ready to go brush his teeth.

At this point, Barry came upstairs.

“Good morning, guys!” he said cheerfully.

“Tomorrow is Halloween!!!”

I froze, shivers going up my spine, hoping Alex had truly come to terms with the fact that Halloween was indeed tomorrow. No visible reaction from him. Crisis averted, but that plane came about 15 feet from shearing off our wing, and protocols need to be put into place before a tragedy occurs. Next time we won’t be so lucky.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2013

Twenty (Thousand) Questions

A couple of weekends ago I got to spend some time with my devastatingly handsome nephew, Gavyn. Gavyn is three. And he is in the question stage. I vaguely recall this from my children’s own development, though it’s more or less a blur because I was usually too exhausted to appreciate it. I do remember it vividly with my cousin, Nicole, when she was that age, and I was a childless college student. One Christmas she backed me into a corner with a relentless interrogation about the Tooth Fairy. I’m pretty sure I ended up telling her that the Tooth Fairy takes kids’ teeth and gives them to babies, in case anyone ever questions you about what she does with all those collected teeth.

Gavyn probes a topic until he has run it completely into the ground. My brother takes it in stride, but it’s funny to hear him relate the typical kinds of conversations he has with him on the daily commute to daycare.

He wants answers.

He wants answers.

“Why there barrels in the road?”
“Because they’re doing road construction.”
“Why they doing road construction?”
“Because the road needs to be fixed.”
“Why the road need to be fixed?”
“Because the pavement was worn out.”
“What’s the pavement?”
“It’s the part of the road you drive on.”
“Why you drive on it?”
“Because you need to drive on something flat.”
“What’s flat?”
“It means there aren’t any bumps on the road.”
“Why there not bumps on the road?”
“Because the road needs to be flat to drive on.”
“Why the road need to be flat?”
“Because if it’s not flat, the tires will be ruined.”
“What’s tires?”
“Those are the wheels on the car.”
“Why there wheels?”
“To drive on the road.”
“Why you drive on the road?”
“Because it’s flat.”
“Why it flat?”

“Your honor, I object. Asked and answered.” The conversation has started to circle. It’s that kind of endless loop from which there is no escape if you are in a confined space with him. And it’s best not to deviate from the norm, ever. For example taking a 100-yard drive without wearing a seatbelt.

“Why Sissy not wear her seat belt?”
“Because we were only going a block.”
“What’s a block?”

Not answering the questions is not an option as his vocal demands for an answer simply grow louder. And a plea for quiet goes nowhere.

“Gavyn, how ’bout we just listen to the radio.”
“Why we listen to the radio?”
“Because it’s cool music.”
“What’s cool music?”
“Music we like to listen to.”
“Why we listen to music?”
“Because it’s relaxing.”
“What’s relaxing?”

The only person who was effective in shutting him down was Alex. He’s six, and can either relate, or just doesn’t have a vested interest in preserving the relationship with his cousin at the cost of being annoyed. Though when his parents employ a similar tactic, it creates only a few seconds of peace while he takes the time to momentarily regroup, and look around for something to come at from a new angle.

“Alex, why David bigger than Justin?”
“Because he’s older.”
“What’s older?”
“He was born first.”
“Why he born first?”
“I don’t know.”

Funny as it is for me, no longer a parent of a three-year-old, to watch and chuckle about this, the weekend didn’t come without implications for my own household. Because it gave Justin a new idea for aggravating his younger brother by doing a spot-on imitation of Gavyn’s voice.

“Alex, why you reading a book?”
“Because I like this book.”
“Why you like this book?”
“Shut up, Justin.”
“Why you say shut up?”
“GO AWAY!”
“Why you say go away?”
“You’re stupid!”
“What’s stupid?”
“Stop it, JUSTIN!!!”
“What’s Justin?”
“MOMMMMM!!!! Justin’s repeating me!!!”
“What’s repeating?”
“STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“Why you say stop it?”
(Untranslatable scream and kick to the shin.)
“Why you say ahhhhhheeeeeehhhhhhiiieee???”

Maybe I’ll take the question phase back.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2013

Are You Going To Nap All Day?

This is me trying to take a lazy Sunday afternoon nap.

1:00 – Justin hits Alex in the nose, prompting a tearful Alex to lament that his nose, which is already stuffed up, is broken, and he goes in my room to snuggle up with his blanket and to seek protection from me.

1:02 – I sense that this could be an opportunity to get him to take a nap.

1:03 – He’s completely relaxed and lying quietly. Very rare.

1:05 – I make the decision that we are going to have the most epic nap ever.

1:07 – Justin comes in, asking to go to Target to get baseball cards. Request declined.

1:10 – David comes in to get the Kindle.

1:11 – Alex wants the TV turned on.

1:12 – My phone chimes to notify me that it’s my turn on Words with Friends.

1:15 – Penny scratches the door to come in.

1:20 – Alex wants to watch Peppa Pig instead of Spongebob.

1:24 – Penny hears a noise and wants to go out.

1:28 – Justin comes in. He’s decided that he wants to go to Lifetime, tries to go through my purse to find my pass.

1:30 – I hear Cameron go outside.

1:32 – Barry loudly complains that, once again, no one replaced the empty toilet paper roll.

1:34 – Alex wants to watch Spongebob instead of Peppa Pig.

1:35 – Alex’s thumb hurts. I need to get him “medicine” to put on it.

1:39 – Justin wants me to get something from the top of his closet.

1:42 – I hear Cameron come back inside.

1:45 – Penny scratches on the door because she wants back in my room.

1:47 – Alex wants a drink of water.

1:50 – Alex wants to know if I’m going to be a grandma someday.

1:52 – Alex is back up, messing around, and I can tell the window for the nap has sadly passed.

1:55 – I close my eyes.

1:57 – Penny leaves again.

2:00 – Alex leaves, David and Cameron are watching baseball with the volume up as loud as possible.

Meanwhile, Barry is downstairs in his recliner, napping. I’m going to shut my door and make a second attempt. $100 says he’ll come up and make a sarcastic comment asking if I’m “ever” going to get up.

2:20 – Justin comes in, wants apples with peanut butter. And so it begins.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2013