Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Ottoman

Decades ago, a hole began to form inside of my heart.  It started small, and it just got bigger and bigger and bigger.  I tried to fill it with things that I shouldn't have.  Things everyone but me knew wouldn't work.

Almost 4 years ago, I met a man in a bar, at a Halloween costume party.  I hadn't been out in a while.  I had been spending some time alone, recovering from all of the heart fillers I'd been trying.  I felt nervous stepping back into the bar.  I wasn't sure I was ready.

It started with "I like your costume."  I agreed to a chat.  Then a dance.  Then a phone call, an IM conversation...eventually a "nondate".  I'm not ready to date, yet.  We can go out and have a good time, but just friends.  It's not a date.

The first nondate had us doing homework at my favorite coffee shop, followed by public humiliation via Dance, Dance, Revolution at the arcade, and ending at Blockbuster, where I promised him a movie he would never forget, Death to Smoochy.  Our coffee nondate had lasted 8 hours.

It didn't take long for that hole to feel like it was closing.  I was being completed.  A small fraction at a time, little by little.  With each nondate, the hole got smaller.  I'd come over after his sons were in bed, and we'd watch some bizarre movie I'd chosen, and I'd head home around 11.  My heart was becoming whole again, via popcorn and Jason Statham films.

One night, in the middle of an action film a couple of months into nondating, a small cry came out of the bedroom.
"The little man is awake.  Would you like to meet the baby?"
"Sure."  I wasn't sure.  What if the baby hated me?

The baby didn't hate me.  He came out in his father's arms crying and wanting soothed.  Eric introduced us, and Little Man smiled.  "Beeebaaaaaa".  Eric sat with him on the ottoman, creating a human rocking chair, and rocked the baby back to sleep.

My heart became a little more complete.

That same ottoman is where the hole in my heart completely closed.  I was sitting on it. 

"The ottoman is for feet."

These were the first words ever spoken to me by the Big Man, when he was the tender age of 3.

In 58 days, I will be married into this perfect little family.  The family that made me a person again.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I've got a bagel...

I've got a bagel...I've got a bagel, hey, hey, HEY, HEY!

That's not really how the song goes, but I DO WHAT I WANT!

I'm supposed to be studying for an exam about terrorism.  How's that working out for me?  It's not.  I'm running on about 3 hours of sleep, and the Panera is noisy this morning.  I'm just reading the study guide questions over and over again and cannot figure out how to answer them.  Luckily, I can get as low as a 70 on this exam and still get an A in this course.  Suck it, grades.  One more year of school.  Seven classes.  Seven more A's to earn.  If I do that, I think that makes me valedictorian.  I don't really want to give a speech,  I don't know.  I'll probably just stand up there and say, "San Dimas high school football rules!!!"  And then I will go down a list of other things that rule.  Like O'Doyle.

Oh!  Here's a little story about currency!  Fun, right?  Yeah, yeah?  NO!!!  The kids have been super fighty mcfightersons lately.  It's becoming a SERIOUS problem.  Our technique of discipline for this is not working.  What is that technique, you ask?  It goes like this:
Dudes:  *fight fight fight* GIVE IT BACK! HE TOOK MY TOY!  NOOOOOOO!!! STTTTOOOOP IIIIIITTTT!!! *shrriiiiek fight fight shriiiiek*
Adults:  *takes toy, puts it in top of closet in unreachable location*
Dudes:  NOOOO! WAAAAAAAAH!!! *goes to pick up another of their 34967 toys* *fight fight fight* GIVE IT BACK!!!1 HE TOOK MY TOY!! NOOOOOOO! STTTOOOOP IIIIITTTT!!! *shrriiiieeek fight fight shriiiieek*
Adults:  *takes toy, puts it in top of closet in unreachable location*

Can you see what we did there?  Yeah, nothing effective.  We've been treating fighting over toys like this for years.  It hasn't worked for years.  What is the problem?  I'm glad you asked.  The problem is currency.  These particular toys aren't it.  They have a gazillion toys, so losing one is no big deal,  They have back ups to fight over.

Eric decided to do something different (and effing brilliant, if you ask me) the other day.  He was at his breaking point with the fighting.  He had to run two errands.  The places he had to go were next door to one another, and they were 3 minutes away.  It was a very short trip.  Both boys begged to go.  They'd been annoying one another all day, and Eric was apprehensive.  He only wanted to take one kid and give himself some well-deserved peace and quiet.  But, the dudes PROMISED they would be good, and he let them both go.  They fought the ENTIRE.TIME in the back seat of the car.  Then, to make matters worse, when he got angry and told them that the behavior would not be tolerated, they did that INFURIATING thing that little kids do.  They smiled and laughed as though he was joking.  And then they continued to fight.  "So what if he's mad," they thought.  "We're just gonna lose a stupid toy," they thought.  "Misbehaving isn't that important.  Besides, look how funny Daddy looks when he's mad," they thought.

He got home, and told them 50% of their toys were gone.  Sort them into two piles.  Every toy goes in a pile.  Half in one, half in the other.  They thought this punishment was hilarious.  They were having a good old time placing junk toys out in the hallway to be hauled off to storage.  Laughing about how they don't play with these anyway, and this and that is broken, and "It's okay, brother, it's just a few baby toys.  It's no big deal."

Imagine their surprise when it turned out that was their "keep" pile.  A bunch of broken blocks, Duplo Legos and parts of toys they'd broken long ago.  They had to watch us pack up all of the toys they actually care about and haul them off to storage.  It sucked.  There was much screaming and gnashing of teeth from two little dudes.  I'm pretty sure Big Man hyperventilated.  His life's blood went to storage along with his awesome construction truck that makes noise and plays rock and roll.

Does your misbehavior matter now?  Do we mean what we say now, dudes?  I believe it worked.  Big Man cleaned the laundry room the next morning without even being asked.  I'm sure he'll earn those toys back in no time.  Then again, they also have the option of losing all of the crappy toys, too.  There was much shrieking of, "Noooo!!! I NEEEEEEED that!"  There may come a time very soon where I implement a "needs week".  No luxuries.  Food, water, shelter, safety.  Needs.  No wants.  If the fighting persists.  Maybe even if it doesn't.

I've been dreading summer vacation.  Spring break nearly killed me with all of this fighting.  I'm already trying to think of activities.  They mostly involve volunteering.  We'll be cleaning up our neighborhood on walks and bike rides, etc.  I'm trying to find other age-appropriate volunteering opportunities.  It's time for the dudes to learn how fortunate they are to have things they want along with things they need.  Big Man, especially.  He's turning 7 in a couple of weeks, and he will be old enough to understand.  Just telling him isn't working.  He's at a stage in life where nothing is good enough for him.  When he got his chocolate bunny for Easter this year, he complained that it wasn't as big as last year's.  I bought him some new shoes, he said he doesn't like the color.  He complained this morning that I gave him a peanut butter sandwich for lunch instead of the ham that he wanted.  Nearly every time he's given something, he tells you what is wrong with it.  I'm hoping that volunteering for people that may have everything they need, but nothing they want, will show him that he should be grateful.

I am, however, concerned about this agenda with Little Man.  I don't think, at age 5, he is going to get it.  I think he's going to embarrass me, actually, by acting awful when we are trying to help others.  I think he's going to throw himself on the ground and scream to go home, no matter what we do.  I need to find a way to make sure it is fun for him as well as good for others.  Maybe make it a race of some sort as to who can pick up the most trash or dig up the most weeds, etc.  We have a TON of ferns in our back yard.  Eric and his ex-wife planted a few of them five or six years ago, and they've now taken over the yard.  They've grown out of the mulched flower bed and are springing up in the grass.  They need transplanted.  Perhaps the dudes and I could take a few around the neighborhood and see if anyone wants them and transplant them into neighbor's yards.  I don't know.

Why isn't this blog post funny?  I felt funny earlier.  Now I just want a nap.