Posts Tagged "playtime"

You Made My Heart Feel So Happy

Posted by on Sep 28, 2010 | 0 comments

I think Jack has been possessed by an old soul.  An old, compassionate soul.  An old, compassionate soul who enjoys watersports.

In our old apartment, my children did not have a lot of freedoms.  We lived on Hollywood Boulevard, in a building obviously meant for roommates, not small mischevious boys.  We were on the second floor and had two balconies with no locks (and sliding door anchors were useless as even my cat could knock the screen door off its runners).  The galley kitchen wasn’t safe for adults, let alone children.  We lived in a complex maze of baby gates, locks and creative homemade child-deterrents, all in the name of keeping our kids alive.

Ok, that’s not entirely true.  I’ll admit it, I liked not having children in my kitchen.  Or my bedroom.  Or the bathroom.  I listened to my friends’ horror stories of toddlers in toilets with a knowing nod, secretly confident my children weren’t allowed anywhere near that sort of trouble.  I stashed all of my valuable breakables in my bedroom far out of reach of destructive hands.  I laid knives on the counter as I cooked with wild abandon.

Karma has a way of coming around, and this home is mine.  We have an open kitchen.  We have three, easily accessable bathrooms.  We have no baby gates.  Anywhere. 

I learned quickly after we moved in that the previous sheltering of our children might just come back to bite us in the proverbial hot seat.  The very first morning, Jack and Lennon were up at the crack of dawn, playing in the sprinklers in the backyard.

They had gone down three floors, out two doors, installed the sprinkler and turned it on all by themselves.  At four o’clock am.  They soon learned how to fill their little pool and flood the back yard by themselves, too.  In the warm weather, in the cold weather, in the rain and at night.

Jack’s fascination with the hose finally drove me to remove the handles to both outdoor faucets, bringing his watersports to an end.  Or so I thought.

I should have known the heart wants what it wants, and Jack’s heart wants to be wet.   He now wakes up in the wee hours of the morning to give his trucks and trains baths in the sink.  It takes him a half hour to “wash his hands” after going to the bathroom.  Showers, once a threat, are now an evening treat. 

We’ve had to establish some rules regarding water use in the house, and they don’t just apply to Jack.  Trivial little things like “you do not bathe your toys in the bathroom sink before 6am.”   “We do not flush toys down the toilet.”  And of course, “we do not flood our train table and melt the play-doh.” 

Jack doesn’t always understand when he’s stepped over the line.  The other day I told him he had spent enough time washing his hands, and he ran up and gave me a big hug.

“You made my heart feel so happy. You did, mama.”

 Why, because we moved to a new country?  Because we have a wonderful new home?  Because he now has unfettered access to the sink?

“Thank you, Jack, but please, honey, don’t use all of the brand new soft soap.”

“I love that you made my heart so super happy.”

This kid is good.  He’s soaked from head to toe, clearly violating several of our new rules, yet instead of getting mad, I’m wanting to give him a cookie.

“Oh, sweetie, that’s so nice.  But please, you can’t get all of your clothes wet every time you wash your hands.”

“What colour is your heart, mama? Mine is green. That’s a good colour for a heart.”

I give up.

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A Boys Life (typo intended)

Posted by on May 25, 2010 | 4 comments

I have three boys, ages 4 1/2, 3 and 17 months.  I could end this post right there and leave more than a few of you with knowing laughter.  I feel like I should include the general populace, though, so I’ll continue.

Life with three boys is not the life I had envisioned.  My entire life I dreamed of being a mother, and I always assumed I would have at least one girl.  Boy/s, too, but always a girl.  As it turns out, my younger brother got the girls.  Four of them.  And I have the boys. 

My older brother has two boys and a girl (now in their 20’s), and I can still recall the day he told me he had obviously been out of his mind to have two boys so close together.  Little did I know I’d have three children – boys, no less- spaced almost exactly the same as his.

I was thrilled when Jack was born.  I was tickled when Lennon was born.  When we found out we were expecting child number 3, I was once again overjoyed, but made a pact with myself:  if this child was a girl, then yay.  If this child, however, was another boy, then that would be it.  We would have an adventure with 3 boys.  No more babies, no “trying for that girl.”  And so it would be.  People still ask if we’re done, if we’re “really sure,” and I can say definitively yes.  We are on an adventure.  And boy, what a ride it is.

Girls have their own challenges.  They are particular.  They are advanced in a lot of ways, and they will break your heart into a million pieces in a million different ways.  They also require a lot of upkeep in the form of shoes and clothes and pretty pretty princess ponies or things of that ilk.  Yes, I’m generalizing, but you get the point. (And for the record, as a child I only needed the shoes and the ponies.  Ok, and the clothes.)

Boys, however, are a breed of their own.  Boys with sisters aren’t fully in their own element, but boys with brothers?  Stand back, it’s on.  And a family of all boys?  Well, let me tell you from my vast four and a half years of experience, it’s something to behold.  My boys are the sweetest children I’ve ever met.  They are also just a little evil.  Maybe it’s because they can melt my heart while simultaneously ruining my favorite Christmas ornaments.  Maybe it’s because they destroy everything I hold dear, including my ability to remain angry.  They constantly amaze me.   And they constantly remind me to expect the unexpected.

I see photos of my friends’ children’s bedrooms with pretty beds and little play tables and bookshelves and things hanging on the walls.  I come back to reality thinking of what my children would do to those rooms.  Currently my two older boys live in a bedroom furnished with two toddler mattresses on the floor, a paper lamp hanging from the ceiling (whose days are numbered), and a couple of pieces of Jack’s artwork that are hung just out of reach.  For now.  They have no curtains anymore.  They have no bookshelves.  They have no toy bins that can be stood on without collapsing (thank you, IKEA).  Their carpet bears the markings of what trouble two small boys can get into in the span of an hour of unsupervised “nap time” (their closet is the only storage in the apartment, and it is usually locked… unless someone forgets).  It is splattered with paint and crayon and organic substances that make me glad on a daily basis we don’t have to pay to replace the carpeting in this apartment.

I used to wonder if we were the only ones who had to move all of the toys into our cramped living room.  If we had the only children living in a barren cell with only their blankets and trains to soothe them at night.  If our walls, covered from floor to 4-year-old height (and a tall one, at that) with crayon and chalk murals, were the shame of the playground.  Of course, none of this is true.  Although late night viewings of Sh*t My Kids Ruined definitely soothes my soul. 

I also wonder how big a role autism plays in this scenario.  If Jack were a neurotypical child, would we be able to have bookshelves?  Would I be able to give them the bunk beds I’ve been dreaming of without the fear of them flying through the air from the highest point?  Would I not constantly live in fear of them breaking their bedroom window with a sippy cup (again)?

I’ll never know.  And yet, somehow I do know.  I had brothers.  My older brother is seven years my senior, so my main memories of him from childhood were stories my mother told me.  Stories about writing his name on things with bodily fluids.  I also get stories from him about my nephews, who while angelic, were also quite destructive.  I have witnessed for myself the holes in the walls, the broken bedroom doors, the tables sawed into with innocent “toy” saws. 

I witnessed my younger brother’s antics firsthand.  A room filled with creatures from the local pond (I vividly recall my cat chasing baby frogs down the hallway).  My dollhouse vandalized and my poor dolls defiled.  And yes, I watched him leap from his second-story bedroom window to the ground below.   He was fearless, and had a glint in his eye that said “stand back world, I’m here to conquer you.”  And he did.  He jumped any and everything with his bike, and later, his skateboard.  He set things on fire, usually in his bedroom.  And after he promised my mother he would not go skydiving, he did it anyway, and told her about it afterward.  He was, and is, all boy.  A boy who is now raising four girls.  Karma usually has the last laugh.

I see the same glint in each of my boys’ eyes in varying degrees.  Jack has it, but it is measured.  He needs to feel out his surroundings before he masters them.  He also has my innate ability to question authority.  His favorite new thing is to do something “bad” on purpose, then look me in the eye and ask, “are you sad?”  Hm. 

Jack figured it out

Lennon is all my younger brother, with my lack of grace.  He is my trailblazer, showing Jack the way.  He goes down the slides face first, scales the rock walls with ease.   He is often the one I catch literally flying off the couch.  He also falls down or trips or runs into things approximately 17 times a day.  I’m hoping he gains some focus before he joins the X-Games, as I’m certain he will. 

Lennon doing it his way

Kieran is still a wild card, but is already displaying a blend of Lennon’s adventurousness with Jack’s acumen.  Baby gates that still keep Lennon contained (albeit mentally more than physically) mean nothing to Kieran.  He scales every surface he can, and if he can’t, he pulls toys and chairs around to serve his purpose.  He plays on the dining room table regularly, because honestly, it’s just easier than spending my day pulling him off of it.  It’s just a matter of time before he surpasses his brothers in giving me heart palpatations, I’m sure.

Just a matter of time

 

I am a mother of three boys.  One has autism, which may or may not enhance the situation.  I’m guessing it would have been a wild ride anyway.

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Give Me A Second

Posted by on May 3, 2010 | 3 comments

We live in Southern California, so of course we hardly ever go to the beach.  There are a lot of beaches we never visit, all within an hour of us, some as close as 20 minutes.  However, when our friends from San Diego came up for a visit this weekend (where they also rarely go to the beach that is 5 miles from their home), we all decided the beach was just the ticket for an outing.  It was, after all, going to be nice and cool.  Which, in SoCal, means it’s going to start off nice and cool in the morning and get all hot by the time you get anywhere.

In the interest of having the house to himself for a few hours, my husband was extremely helpful getting the children ready for our adventure.  He dressed them (in long pants, because it was a cold day of course) and packed a lunch.  Which turned out to be three apples, a handful of goldfish crackers, a baggie of swiss cheese and approximately two and a half pieces of turkey.  For myself and three children.  I grabbed some shorts for everyone just in case, and headed down to Hermosa Beach to meet up with our friends.

We keep sand toys and kites in the back of our van just in case the mood strikes us to visit the beach, as it has exactly three times in four years, so we were prepared.  Our friends were already there and set up, their combined five children frolicking in the sand and surf.   Lennon ran and joined them, Jack set himself up safely away from even accidently seeing the water, let alone touching it. 

I pulled out the kites, knowing Jack wouldn’t go anywhere near the water.  He is a kite-flying fool.  Lennon, Kieran and I walked around the surf, collecting seashells and seaweed. 

I found an awesome shell and gave it to Jack, who promptly put it down and lost it in his kite-flying fervor.  Later, in the interest of finding another, he did it.  He followed me down to the water. 

Fingers shoved firmly in his ears, he pointed at shells with his elbows and had me pick them up to put in his pockets.

After watching the baby and Lennon laughing and darting away from the surging waves, Jack couldn’t resist it any longer.  He dipped his toes in and shrieked with delight.

“I did it!! I touched the water all by myself!!!”

Jack at the Beach 2

 

Jack at the Beach 1

Every victory deserves a reward, so I promised them ice cream cones when we got home.   After a long day of chasing children all over the beach in the hot sun (on a cool SoCal day) and driving almost an hour home, I needed a moment on the couch before embarking on the ice cream adventure (if you have a 4 1/2 year old, a 3 year old and a 17 month old, anything involving ice cream is an adventure).  Jack wasn’t having it.

“Could you get off the couch and get our cones?”

“Baby, I need to relax.  Just give me a second.”  Jack looked at me for a moment, then held out his hand.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s a second.  I’m giving it to you.  Could you get our ice cream cones now?”

Ice cream!!!

 

Absolutely, baby.  Absolutely.

 

 

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I Wonder

Posted by on Apr 24, 2010 | 2 comments

I wonder how many other families who attended the autism walk today brought home photos like this one:

aut walk 2010

 

Jack had fun, but of course, he was on sensory overload.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s just this side of hilarious that they planned a whole bunch of really loud entertainment at a walk attended by a crowd of autistic individuals? 

We had fun today, but didn’t stay long.  It was a lot to take in, and to be honest, I was on overload myself. 

Big props to Jack for enjoying the “big party with the bouncy houses and the airplane,” though.  That kid is amazing.

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I Believe…

Posted by on Apr 20, 2010 | 1 comment

I Believe…

… autism has turned out to be quite a good thing for our family.

… my children are constant reminders that I should never assume anything.

… going to playgrounds with my children is much more fun now than it was when I was just babysitting kids in high school.

… Target is the greatest store ever.  Ever.  Really.

… shopping Target clearance is as fun as anything else I could find to do with some free time.

… chocolate covered pretzel goldfish crackers are amazing.  Especially when I get them on clearance at Target.

… scrapbooking is a lot more exciting in theory.

… all natural candy is so wonderful my kids will never believe they’ve been deprived by not having the other stuff.

… someday my kids will experiment with non-natural candy and foods, and they’ll see why I’ve tried to keep them natural.  (I also believe they’ll make wise choices after that, but I could be very, very wrong.)

…my children were each sent to me for a different purpose:  Kieran, to be my mama’s boy;  Lennon, to teach me patience as he defies gravity in some way or another; and Jack, to help me realize that I have more strenth and compassion and love and humility than I ever thought possible.

… laughter is the greatest gift you can give your children after your undying and unconditional love.

… it’s probably a good thing they only make those chocolate covered pretzel goldfish at Christmas.

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Did you know you can find some awesome all-natural candies on Amazon?  Check out the AIT Amazon store on this site – I’ve put them all conveniently in one place!!

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