Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What is that Smell?

My wife walked by the front door and remarked, "I smell something odd."
I couldn't confirm her suspicion.
She continued to hover, saying "It's like the smell of wet laundry. Yeah, only it got moldy having not dried out."
She looked around. I looked at the bottom of my shoes for suspects. Then she reached into my six year old daughter's school backpack, opening it up.
"Ohhh! This smells horrible! Did you finish your sandwich?!"
My daughter rolled her eyes up, trying to look around innocently. My wife pulled out incriminating evidence from the backpack. First a chocolate spread sandwich that was untouched and two days old. Then she revealed a tuna sandwich that had a bite, and was probably a week old.
"Do you guys even eat what I give you for lunch?" my wife asked, accusingly.
My ten year old stared to smirk, looking guilty as well. My wife pulled open the zipper on his backpack, quickly repulsed by a horrible smell. "Where do you put your sandwiches?"
"I have a few compartments on my backpack," my son answered, "there is the outer compartment for my bus money, another for my books, and final compartment for books and food."
My wife pulled out a half-eaten sandwich and dumped out some books. Then she found a sandwich bag that was filled with  a black-green substance, turning to liquid. "Look at this!" she declared.
We all collapsed in laughter, seeing how his backpack had turned into a fungal-bacteria research facility.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Long Run Home

D. went to a youth group event for the first time today on the other side of town. The kid that went with him said, "Don't worry, D. can come home with me. I'll take him home."

Saturday night, I hear frantic footsteps run up the stairs, and D. blasts through the front door, bursting into tears. "The kid just got in his father's car and went home. I went to to talk to the youth group counselor, and that was it. Everyone was gone!" D. said over frantically.

Seeing no other way home, D., a bookish 8 year old, took to the streets and ran as hard as he could go. He wasn't even sure if he was running in the right direction. He asked someone about the street he lived on, and saw them pointing where he was running. Along the way he saw a few familiar restaurants, and was re-assured that he was at least going in the right direction.

Despite the dismal ending, D. enjoyed his first day of youth group and wanted to go back. But next time he would wait until Daddy came to pick him up.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Ball

We were running late for school and had all gotten into the car. "Wait!" said D. "can I go up and get my ball."
"No," I said, "I'm sorry but we're running late. Next time."
D. went ballistic. As we pulled out of the parking lot, he started kicking the seats and screaming "Let me just go get the ball. It will only take a minute. Please!"
I didn't relent and we drove off to school. He called up along the way and got out of the car and went into school.
Later I told my wife about his reaction. "The ball has become his new ticket for socializing at recess," she explained, "when he brings the ball to school then he is the center of attention. He gets to organize the games that they play with the ball and he feels important socially. That's why it was so dear to him to bring the ball."
I made sure that he brought his ball every day after that.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sibling Rivalry Draws Swords

We recently had a baby. Great News!
During the first week, our daughter, our youngest, stayed home from school sick with a fever. She enjoyed being around the baby, touching him, kissing him, smiling at him and even singing to him. Yet people kept asking, "How is your daughter taking to the baby and not being the youngest anymore."

'Just great,' I said often. It was the truth, and the transition to bringing a baby into our family and now having four kids seemed to be going smoothly. My daughter got well and went back to school, who had written off her absence due to the birth of her baby brother.

Throwing Up
Then a few weeks later, she came into our baby early in the morning. I was so tired from having gotten up every two hours for feeding that I didn't even notice her, until I rolled over in the morning and saw her lying there. I fell back asleep. In my dream I was startled awake by the sound of retching.

I turned over and opened my eyes to find my daughter, coughing and ready to throw up. She turned over and vomited a bit on the blankets and sheets, and I grabbed her and took her to the bathroom to finish.

My wife and I cleaned up, and were left scratching our heads wondering about this out of the ordinary event with our daughter.

What's that Smell?
One night I went in to check on my daughter. Her room was filled with a revolting smell. I told my wife. "Oh she probably just farted."
Then a short while later, my daughter, S. got up and came into our room. She complained that she thought she dirtied her pants. My wife checked and she found that S. had pooped in her pants at night, really bad.

Release the Wrath
A week later, we let S. stay home from school, after she claimed to have a sore throat. After the boys get off school and she is the only one at one besides the baby, she wanted to play and watch shows on the computer. This was unacceptable. Either she was sick and needed to be bedridden or she should be in school.
She tore into a tantrum, getting angry and yelling "All you do is take care of the baby. You don't care about me. I just want to kill that baby!"
We kept her home from school and made sure to give her lots of attention.
Later in the day she turned to us and said, "I'm sorry. I just wanted to be with you." She gave the baby a kiss.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Keep it Dry

Took the kids to a movie (Smurfs 2). Went smoothly, then I took them to get a bit to eat in the mall after. They all wanted McDonalds (it's Kosher in Raaanana). At ordering, I got confused, and the kids all said they wanted the Happy Meals (instead of just an individual sandwich and sharing a large fries).

Barely balancing two trays of Happy Meals and drinks, I navigated past the other parents and got to the table. I took each chicken burger out and gave it to the kids.

D. unwrapped his and lifted up the bun.
"Lettuce!"  he declared, and started scraping the lettuce off.

"Uh Dad," said H. "this has lettuce...and ketchup!"
I looked at him, feeling as though a key support pillar in a building had collapsed. "Well could you just eat it this time?"
"Nope," he said, shaking his head side to side.
I examined the chicken burger, and the ketchup had been spread in good and deep so that I couldn't just scrape it off.
H. was looking up at me with those hungry eyes. I felt like more support pillars were falling and any moment that whole building would collapse. I took a deep breath.
"Ok, come with me," I said, "what do you get with Mom?"
"Mommy always orders it saying to Keep it Dry."
"Keep it dry?" I asked, "ok, no problem." (I can do this!)
We went back up to the counter. I ordered just the sandwich and told them to 'keep it dry'.
H. stood there and waited for them to serve him. I went back to our table and sat with the other kids to make sure they would finish eating.
H. came back over with his chicken burger sandwich with absolutely nothing on it, and sat down to eat.

Note to self: check with kids about condiments that may be put on sandwiches and burgers and confirm that each gets his sandwich the way they like it.

Until the next vacation.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Setting Boundaries

"Just 5 more minutes," my 10 year old son, H. said, "please can I stay and watch just 5 more minutes."
"No, I'm sorry," I said, "we're leaving now."
It was late on Saturday night, after 9:30 at night.
"Oh come on," my mother in law said, "let him just watch 5 more minutes of television."
I looked at her and gave her a stern look. "No, he doesn't know what 5 more minutes is, as far as he is concerned he would like to stay and watch television for another hour."
"But I just wanted him to leave happy," my mother in law said.
H. had stayed at his grandparents for the weekend. He packed up his stuff and we went home. After getting in the car, he had already forgotten about his request to stay another 5 minutes.

I asked my wife about the divergent approaches between the generations.
"Look when I grew up, we were free. We stayed up as late as we wanted to watch television and ate what we wanted. Now it's different. There are so many more enticements to lure our children, there is no end. I knew that after Dynasty that was it, no more shows and I went to sleep. Now it's shows on cable, the internet, YouTube - it's overwhelming."
"So it was Ok that I told your mother that we had to go?"
"Yes, it's just different points of view. Different generations."

The enticements that tempt are children are all around. Either they want to get on the computer, or have the tablet computer, or get in the car and go somewhere and be on the iPhone. There are no natural boundaries of television schedules or reception to confine these devices to a certain space and time.  We, the parents, need to be especially vigilant in maintaining boundaries so as to not overwhelm our children by all the attractions and entertainment of the world.

Brilliant Insight from an 8 Year Old

I was helping the kids get ready. My 8 year old, D. was up first and wanted to brush his teeth. I went into the bathroom and looked at the boys' toothbrushes - they were exactly the same!

I went back to D. with the toothbrushes, "Hey which one is yours?"
He rolled his eyes and looked at me, "Just put the toothpaste on both brushes, then I will pick mine."
"Oh!" I thought, "yeah, that could work too."
Why had I mad a task unnecessarily complicated, trying to cater to him? I could just do the simple thing, and rely on him to work out what to do.

D. went ahead and brushed his teeth.