Do You Want to Play Basketball?

“You guys wanna play basketball with me?”

He stood on the very edge of our lawn in his shorts and hoodie holding a small basketball.

The other bigger kids continued to chase each other and play.  One kid lingered on the edge of their lawn near to where Eddie was standing.

“Hey! Do you guys want to play basketball with me?!?” He asked louder.

Even though the one kid was hanging near, he still managed to effectively ignore my little guy.

Eddie looked down at his Little Tikes basketball. I couldn’t see his face from my place by the kitchen window, but I could guess at the questions going through his mind. Why won’t they answer me?  Why wouldn’t they want to play with  me?

“HEY! WANT TO PLAY BASKETBALL WITH ME?!?!”

I called Cort to see.  Eddie was obeying the rules and staying in our yard.  He even kept checking his feet to make sure they were not over the line.  I could tell he was antsy to go run and play tag.

Earlier that day we had heard him yelling outside in the front yard, when we peeked out the window, he was yelling down the street, “HEY!  GUYS!  COME HERE!  I WANNA TALK TO YOU!” to the kids playing down the road.

We live on a dead end where the neighbor kids like to spend time digging holes for no other reason than to dig holes.  Eddie likes to watch them.  They also cut into the woods from the dead end and trek back to the field behind our house.  There’s a creek back there and they like to catch crayfish and frogs.  This particular afternoon, Digger Boy (the boy who digs the holes, and yes, this is the name Eddie refers to him as) and his brothers had a bucket of fish and frogs and they came into our yard to show Eddie and Cort.  Eddie thought it was just wonderful.

So for the rest of the day, when he saw neighbor kids, he wanted so badly to play with them.

They are all at least five years older than Eddie is, and have no interest in playing with a three-year-old.

But Eddie doesn’t understand this, and so he stands on the edge of the yard, doing his best to make friends without breaking the rules of leaving the yard.

“I’m going to put on shorts and go play basketball with him for a bit,” Cort tells me as he rubs my back.  I have been watching him with tears in my eyes for a couple minutes.

“Thank you,” I tell him before I call out the window to Eddie asking him if Daddy can play with him.

“Daddy?  He wants to play basketball?  Yay!  I want to play too!”

As I got Charlie’s jammies on I heard lots of giggling and chasing going on around the house before Cort and Eddie burst in all smiles and exhaustion.

Eddie is so bold and makes friends so easily.  He is so much braver than I was at that age.  I am so proud when I see him feeling comfortable talking to other kids, but I feel those old fears of rejection that I clung too tightly to as a child.

Luckily for me, Cort reads my worry and nerves and jumps in before Eddie’s feelings can be hurt.

Besides, I think Eddie prefers to hang with his Dad rather than some dumb neighbor kids any day.

2013-04-27 13.36.23

Cort and Eddie build a fence.

Baby Giggles

boys2

Charlie doesn’t laugh much.

He smiles tons, and he always has a chuckle for us if he thinks we are funny, but belly laughs are few and far between unless provoked with tickle torture play.

Yesterday he was feeling under the weather and had been very clingy.  Smiles were hard to come by let alone any chuckles or giggles.  His nose constantly ran and the drool flowed.  (Please tell me he is not getting more teeth.  Home Sluice already has 12 and he’s not even 12 months yet!)

Nothing made him smile.

Until Eddie decided he was going to entertain him.

Eddie started dancing around with an empty paper towel roll.  He claimed it was a baton and tossed it in the air.  To both of our surprise, Charlie cracked up. As in giggling uncontrollably.

Eddie and I looked at each other and I told him to do it again, so Eddie tossed the “baton” and did a little dance.  Charlie giggled so hard he had to put his is chin to his chest as he stood next to his activity table.

That was all the encouragement Eddie needed.  He started to strut around like a band major and toss the “baton” and spin around doing dance moves.

Charlie laughed so hard, tears started to well in his eyes.

And suddenly, tears sprung to my eyes.

In front of me was Eddie saving Charlie from his yucky feeling…even if just for a few moments.  Eddie made Charlie forget that he was snotty and sleepy.  He made him forget to want to cling to me.  Charlie was completely memorized and taken with his big brother.

Just as Eddie was taking away his brother’s troubles, Charlie was feeding Eddie’s need for attention.  Eddie had been whiny and pouty all day because we wouldn’t let him play with screens nonstop.  Suddenly someone wasn’t just in the room with him, but was encouraging and loving his performance.

They are brothers.

After Charlie was born, I was so worried about Eddie.  I was worried that having Charlie would somehow take away from Eddie’s happiness.

I was so wrong.

Eddie is so much more complete with his little brother by his side.  And Charlie has no idea what it’s like to not have an older brother doing everything he can to make him smile.

I used to think Charlie was trying to say “daddy” when he would grin and say “dee dee dee,” but now I think he might be saying “Eddie”.

boys

 

 

 

Friday Funnies

Eddie has a certain pair of navy and red striped socks from Old Navy he got waaay back when that were always too big to wear with shoes.  He adopted them as socks he wears with jammies and named them his “Sleepy Socks.”

Recently the sleepy socks blew out holes in the toes and heels.

Other socks wouldn’t do and I had to go to Old Navy and hunt down more striped ones.  I could only find navy and yellow stripes.

He was legit disappointed, but gave the a shot.

They were on the floor after the second night.

Just not the same, I guess.

(I may have washed and stashed the original Sleepy Socks in a shoebox of keepsakes. What?)

*************

Charlie might turn out to be a class clown.

He likes to make us all laugh at dinner by making VERY odd noises and strange blowing/raspberry sounds.

He even pauses with a chill little grin on his face so we can all fall over ourselves laughing at him before he starts up again.

And with that little grin, his face says, “You are such fools.  Such easy-to-entertain fools.”

*************

The other night I was cuddling with Eddie at bedtime (more on the new bedtime routine in another post).

He was in that place between awake and sleeping when he rolled to his side.

I caught a whiff of stale milk smell.

“Eddie? Did you toot?

“Just sleep mom. Don’t worry ’bout it.”

O_o

Boys are gross.

I am sure girls are too, but my boys? Are gross.

*************

When Eddie was Charlie’s age, he used to have a Poop Spot–a place next to our bookcase that he liked to stand in (with the cupboard door open so it was like he was behind a little wall) while he did his “jobbies”.

Just recently, Charlie has been going to the same place to do his business.

I find it hilarious.

Cortney seems less amused.

*************

Eddie has recently learned that girls and boys do not have the same…um…equipment.

Although, he has no idea what girls actually have other than I told him the word, “vagina”.

Now, every time I go to the bathroom, I get interviewed:

“Mom? You are going to the bathroom?”

“Yup.”

“Poop?”

“Nope.  Just pee.”

“You are sitting though, right?”

“Yup.”

“Because you are a girl. You don’t have a penis. Right?”

“That’s right.”

I will admit that I never pictured myself telling my 3 year old son through a closed door that I was not, in fact, peeing out of my butt.

************

Charlie kisses stuffed animals.  It’s cute.

He also kisses his reflection in the window.  Again, super cute.

But he also has fights with the baby in the window.

Loud fights.

With pounding on the window.

And stink eye at me as if I had something to do with this idiot in the window who is copying all his moves.

It is both hilariously cute and a tad crazy.

************

Don’t forget about my giveaway to Baa and Boo over here.  Get something cute for a cutie in your life.

Raising WMAs

I was born to a middle-class, white, married couple in 1978 in a safe, conservative town in Michigan.  My parents are still married almost forty years later, and they still live in the home I grew up in, and they still have good jobs, and because they are smart with their money, they are comfortable.

I have never been afraid that we would lose our home.

I have never wondered if I would get food on any given day.

No one has ever assumed I was a less-worthy person or a scary person or a violent person based on my looks or my school or my background.

I have occasionally been told I can’t do something because I am female, but it’s never been a real barrier that I believed actually hindered me in achieving anything I really wanted to do.

Had I wanted to, I could have been just about anything I was talented enough to become.

I won the lottery by being born.

Why?

Why me?  Why did I get so lucky?

My sons were born to a middle-class, married couple in today’s society. We live in that same safe, conservative town that Cort and I grew up in.  We are both employed. We are trying to be smart with our money, and although we feel like things are tight, in the grand scheme of things, we are comfortable.

Our boys have never felt (and we hope they won’t) the anxiety of adult worries about shelter or food or clothing.  They are very comfortable.

Plus they are boys.  White boys.  Who will become White Men.  In America.

White Male Americans.

The Jackpot in this world.

They will not know what it feels like to be suspected of ill-intent because of the color of their skin.  They will not feel the assumption of failure because of their home life.  They will not be assumed guilty until proven innocent because they are “those people”.

They won the lottery by being born.

This bothers me.

Winning a lottery should feel good.  This does not.

I have friends, students, even family who I know have certain struggles solely because society views them differently than they view my boys.  Even if it’s subconsciously so.

Racism is alive and kicking in the United States and it hurts my heart when I read about friends’ sense of belonging questioned because of the color of their skin.  When their honesty is questioned because people have clumped them into “those people”.  You know how “those people” can be.

No. I don’t.  “Those people” are my friends…my family…and they would give you the clothes off their back if they knew you were in need.

Eddie and Charlie will automatically get a pass from cops on certain suspicions.  They will have a better chance of becoming President.

I am not saying people can’t work hard to beat the odds and make it happen.  Look at President Obama.  But he had odds to beat.  My sons don’t.

I’m also not saying my sons will have everything super easy.  They may not.  In fact, I am sure there will be things that are hard or challenges or obstacles they will have to overcome…or fall to.  But they are not built into the way our society thinks.

Instead of only celebrating this “lottery” we have won (because, yes, I am grateful), I find it an enormous responsibility.

As a woman, how many times in college did I whine about how everything we read was by dead white guys?  I longed for more female voices.  I also longed for diversity.

I couldn’t take a social studies class…or read the news today…without shaking my head at the messes that white men have made (yes, other people make/made messes too, but if you look at the US track record? White men outnumber all the other people in horrible things).

I don’t want my sons to turn into arrogant, self-centered white boys.

I don’t want my sons to be part of the mess, but rather part of the clean-up and resolution.

I read a post this week about talking with your children about race.  I thought about it.  Eddie and Charlie have black cousins.  They have a Hispanic aunt.  They have Cort’s cousins who are all different races.  They visit me at school and see the huge amount of diversity of the student body I work with.  Eddie knows Baby  (his doll) has beautiful brown skin like his cousins.   It means nothing to him.

He sees it, he appreciates it, and then he moves on because it doesn’t impact him.  He hasn’t gotten society’s views engrained in his mind yet.

When did I first think skin color meant someone could be different than I am?  Did someone bring it up?  Did I hear someone I trust and respect make an off-color joke?

I remember my grandpa having a black baby doll he found and referring to it as a N- baby and my parents getting very upset.  It’s the first memory I have of it being important not to call someone a name just because their skin is different than mine.  But I also didn’t have many people around me who were different.

Do I need to call my son’s attention to race to teach them about it?

They will someday be white men.  White men that Cort and I raised.

I don’t want them to be sensitive to race.  I don’t want race to be anything to them other than something on a family tree that shows where people come from.

But that would be a naive way to parent them.  Right?

They will have to know about the struggles and the challenges that their non-white brothers and sisters in humanity have to battle.

And I hope I can teach them to see the battle, and stand firmly beside their friends and family who are fighting and take a stand too. Until the battle is won.

He won the lottery by being born
Big hand slapped a white male American
Do no wrong, so clean cut…
Dirty his hands, it comes right off.*

 *Lyrics by Pearl Jam from the song “WMA”.

magnificent 7

Dear Charlie,

This weekend you passed the 7-month mark.

Daddy, Eddie, and I were supposed to be in Chicago on the day you turned 7 months, but instead we all were exhausted and fighting colds (you too), so we stayed home.  All of a sudden I looked at you and said, “hey! you’re 7 months old today, Bird!”

And you flashed me one of your brief, mega-smiles.

You are at the most unbelievably awesome age.

Around most people you are a quiet observer, but around family and those you know and love, you are full of smiles and coos and belly laughs.

Every day it amazes me how similar yet vastly different you as a baby are than what having Eddie as a baby was like.

I know I compare you guys all the time, but I was not prepared for what Eddie was as a baby (a tiny version of all my attitude and moodiness), so with you, I was prepared for fickle, crying, high emotion (no matter what the emotion, with Eddie it was turned up to 11…still is), and the excitement that is EVERYTHING.

While you resemble your brother, you have your own way.

I recognize the baby stages of teething, putting everything in your mouth, grasping, and so on.  But the way you go through them is just different.

You are quieter.  More observant.

But you want to grab EVERYTHING.

Eddie was content with whatever 2 or 3 toys we put in front of him.  Not you.  You want the whole basket of toys and you want to empty it yourself.

They you grunt until we fill it back up so you can do it all over again.

While you love to put all the things in your mouth, you definitely prefer soft things…like the leather ears on the wooden dog stacker thing or the tag on your puppy.

See those keys?  Eddie jammed them down his throat and choked himself repeatedly so we had to take them away.

You are obsessed with “figuring them out”. Oh you gum them, but it’s not a “see if you can fit all of them in your mouth at once” game. It’s a “huh. these are not all the same. why is that? eh, I’ll taste them” type of experience.

You are sitting completely unassisted.  Although you will get yourself back on your tummy or back because your mode of transportation involves rolling and flailing.

I know if you decided to you could get yourself from your tummy to sitting.  But you just don’t seem to care about that right now.  You are perfectly content to have us set you on your booty–criss cross applesauce–where you can watch your brother’s antics and smile at all of us and clap your hands in approval.

While getting you to look up from what you are doing to smile for the camera is impossible, I wish I could show you the cute smiles you give.  You have a million faces that you pull.

You have a flirty half-smile I see you give Renae and daycare.

You have the toothy grin you give me when you haven’t seen me all day…or for five minutes.

You have the giant smile paired with the happy “growl” you do when you see daddy because he tends to bury his face in your next and make growly noises.  It’s hilarious that you identify him by this sound.

You have your giggle smile when we tickle you…because you are SO ticklish!

You have concentration face where your face gets all squishy and your cheeks get droopy and you won’t look away from what you are “figuring out”.

You have the “bird lip” face where it seems that you are looking at us like we are all fools and you know better.

You have the eye twinkle with just a hint of a smirk that makes us believe that you may just become the “naughty” one.  Or the “smart” one.  Or both.

You really don’t cry much.  You yell at us in anger, frustration, hunger, and sleepiness, but you don’t cry much

Although if we take too long to respond to your anger?  You might cry.

But really, even your mad face is so adorable.

And while you can totally sit on your own, you are VERY into grabbing ALL THE THINGS.  And sometimes that means you reach just a tad too far.

But you know what?  We let you reach just beyond your grasp.  Even if it means you fall.

Oh we scoop you right up, but then we encourage you to go for that thing again.

And you do.

You are definitely strong-willed and determined.

I like that.

I know I will NOT like it a LOT while you are growing up, but those are incredible things to have as an adult.

You and Eddie share a fierce independent streak, but again, they manifest themselves so differently.

While Eddie is not a risk-taker and needs us to fall asleep (still!) and never wanted to hold his own bottle, you fall asleep when you’re tired and grab the bottle and get the job done on your own.

Eddie wants so badly to be a big boy.  He always has.  He wants to play with the big kids, go to school, and move it move it!  By seven months he was pulling up to his knees and getting ready to crawl.

You have zero interest in these things.  You seem to be enjoying babyhood.  Your now.

You let us snuggle you and play toys with you.  You’re not determined to do the next milestone, but instead laugh and play and enjoy the one you’re in.

Eddie needs us for 3 seconds to warm up to a situation and then any hint of shy leaves his body.  You are more reserved.  You are quiet longer.  You don’t just jump into smiling and babbling at just anyone.

I don’t keep track of your stats like I did with Eddie.

That was a new mom thing, I think.

It’s not that I am neglecting remembering you though.

With Eddie I had to cling to the stats because I was sick.  I wasn’t the mom I could have been.

With you, I don’t need the stats to remember you.  I soak up your baby-ness every day.  I breathe in your smell and smooch your baby fat.

I did these things with Eddie too…but because of being sick, it was hard to sort the good from the not as good. And I can’t remember them so well anymore because even the happy happened in a fog of ick.

With you, I am doing so much better.

I don’t know how much you weigh or how long you are.

But I do know that your fingers are short and stubby compared to Eddie’s long, delicate fingers he had.

I don’t really keep track of what solids I give you or if I am on “track” or whatever.

But I do know you enjoy food as much as your brother did, even if it took you longer to understand the weird new texture in your mouth.

I don’t know what percentile you’re in.

But I do know that your once delicate features have grown plump and round and so very nommable.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that your existing could make me a better mother all around.

I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough love.

I was afraid you would take away from Eddie in an irreparable way.

Oh it hasn’t all been rainbows and easy days around here since your arrival, but there have definitely been more sunny days than rainy days.

More smiles than tears.

My sickness is still there lurking, but I am doing much better at managing it.

You and your brother and your daddy pull me through and make me whole.

I can’t believe seven months have gone by so fast.

And at the same time, I can’t imagine you not being here.

Did that time really exist?

Somehow I think no.

You were always here with us.

In some way.

************

The monthly comparison….

at the same age…

current day comparison

you two are brothers indeed.

And I love you fiercely with ever fiber of my heart and soul and mind.

xxoo <3 Mommy

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