Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Got milk?

The Future of Fatherhood
(as envisioned by Leo Carter)

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Good Night

Our going-to-bed ritual began like many often do (particularly on nights when Jeff is working): Aidan and Leo chased each other around their bedroom and into the hallway, laughing loudly, being rambunctious and mischievous and playful and happy. Although I much prefer this to the meaner, taunting chases that sometimes ensue, none of this behavior is appropriate nor respectful to the little brother who just wants to go to sleep in peace. Evenings like this can be exhausting and leave me feeling weary. I feel so... outnumbered. I just want this to be a good night, I thought to myself as I read Pax his stories...

I sighed heavily, went back outside Pax's room, and tried one more time to coax Aidan and Leo into converting their energy into something that more closely resembled "getting ready for sleep." I made my request, closed the door before a protest or argument could errupt, and retreated back into the room to nurse their tired and puny brother...

I savor the moments I spend nursing Pax. Nursing has always been one of my most favorite parts of the day. I get to put my tired feet up, rock back and forth in our comfy, well-worn glider, and watch my child be nourished by my milk and my love. I smooth his fine hair, stroke his plump cheek, and marvel at the sheer beauty of this child. Nursing my babes are among my most private and cherished times with each of them, and now, more than ever, I cling to these moments. While I don't have plans to wean him any time soon, I know that this is not forever.

Because of my attention of being "in the moment" with Pax, I was somewhat startled to realize, on my quiet exit from his room, that all was calm. At that moment, I heard Aidan's voice -
..."We need a goodnight kiss," said the little dragons. And they lifted their scaly little cheeks. "This is going too far," said the Good Knight.
But he was a good knight.
So he bent and kissed each scaly little cheek....

Quietly, ever so quietly, I opened the door to the room to discover the two of them perched side by side on Leo's bed, heads bent low over the book that Aidan was reading aloud. Aidan was reading fluently, easily, and with great prosody (prosody = fancy word for "with great expression") to his younger brother, both of them deeply engrossed in the endearing story, Good Night, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas. As I remained undetected in the doorway, Aidan finished the story and they both lingered over the last picture in the book. Finally Aidan asked, "Now Leo, would you like me to read you another?"

These are the "paybacks." These are the moments I relish and savor. These are the times I collect and store and invest and commit to my long-term memory, because tonight was a Good Night. Oh how I love my Good Knights.

Monday, October 11, 2010

You're Never Fully Dressed...

Leo cannot get enough of costumes and the dress up box. His favorite from the trunk in the basement is a fierce green dinosaur head and feet, complete with a programmed "RAAAR" in the paw of the foot. (Paw? Did dinos have paws? I guess I mean in the foot of the foot... hmm.) Fittingly, his lion (his leo) costume from last year's Halloween is another favorite. Some days, he chooses to be a superhero, or a nurse, or a police officer. Other days, he mixes it all up and becomes a mythical creature - Superhero-Lion-Firefighting-Dinosaur - able to take on Minotaur, Basilisk, or Ent. The richness of imagination at age 3 1/2 is, in some ways, at its finest. He is unself-conscious and lost in the fantasies of his own mind; he has no inhibition about wearing his alternative wardrobe to the grocery store or the hardware store; he uses his imagination to boost his happy moods and sometimes, to work through his unhappiness as well. Each day, I look forward to seeing what he'll decide to be, and I love that in his mind, nothing is beyond his limits or capabilities.

However - his love of dress up poses a unique challenge for committing to ONE Halloween costume this year. So far, Leo has declared his desire to be
a ghost
a mouse
a bat
candy corn
a witch
a lion (again)
a Which-What-Who (this was Aidan's suggestion, a combination of all the things he might be, and a reference to this bedtime favorite)

...until one night at dinner, when we were trying to decide on what Pax might be for Halloween. Leo said,
"I don't want to dress up for Halloween. I just want to be Leo."
Me: "Um... I don't know if people would really understand that you were dressing up as just Leo."
Leo: "Oh. Okay. Then I want to be a walrus."
Me: "A Walrus??"
Leo: "Yes. A walrus with two legs."

...I just looked at him, not without a smile.

Who's line is it, anyway?

Endlessly entertaining. If there's one phrase I would choose to describe life with young children, it would be just that - they are endlessly entertaining. I love to hear the funny things that they say, and of course, those are easy to record and remember. But equally amusing to me, yet harder to record, are the unique ways in which they play, or how they climb the stairs, or the faces they make at themselves while brushing their teeth - when they think no one is looking...

The weather has been gorgeous these early fall days, and we've had the windows open as much as possible. After school one afternoon, the big boys were playing outside in the front yard while Pax and I put away clothes in the rooms upstairs. I was was intrigued by the game that was unfolding outside; Aidan and Leo each had their baby dolls with them, as well as the doll-sized stroller. At first, I was confused and slightly alarmed at what I saw - one of them would snatch the baby from the other's arms, shove the doll into the stroller, then race across the grass and push him straight into the bushes, a formidable tree, or the bumper of the car. What on earth? I thought. I'm always so proud of my boys for playing with dolls, but now I wasn't so sure - the game looked awfully.... violent. At least from the poor doll baby's perspective. The longer I watched, though, the more clear it became that this was a carefully orchestrated, detailed, almost scripted kind of play, with definite roles and rules. Finally, I couldn't resist not knowing. I went outside and asked them about their game. "It's called Kidnappers!" Aidan exclaimed. "We are taking turns protecting our babies from the Bad Men who have tried to kidnap them!" "Yeah!" piped up Leo. "We are saving them!" he explained, dangling his beloved doll baby from one foot before dropping him on his head. "Oops."