Post-Holiday Haiku

I’m still in a coma from yesterday’s eating frenzy, and it’s been an incredibly exhausting day dealing with a six-year-old who got up way too early to find the elf on a shelf and spent the rest of the morning throwing tantrum after tantrum.  All I can come up with today are a few snarky haiku.

FOR MY SON

Yes you’re annoying.
I really do love you but
I’m too tired to smile.

FOR MY DAUGHTER

Do not think I’m blind
To the way you get me to
Yell at your brother.

FOR MY HUSBAND

When I’m mean to you
It’s only because I can’t
Pummel our children.

NaBloPoMo

Almost a year ago I heard about this whole NaBloPoMo thing, where bloggers complete a post a day for a month.  I put a reminder in my phone to think about doing it in November, the original NaBloPoMo month.  When my phone dinged this morning with the agenda item, I promptly deleted it.  I knew today was going to be a rough day with heavy rain keeping the four of us indoors, and the kids coming down from their Halloween high last night.  The kids cried when soccer was canceled, I burned my lips on a scalding hot cup of chai tea, and we had a family meltdown over a prized piece of Hershey’s candy corn white chocolate that mysteriously found it’s way out of our daughter’s plastic pumpkin into our son’s (in his defense, it is really good and upon inventory of his loot this morning he discovered he did not obtain the bounty like his sister had).  We made it through the day, suffering through a family game night that the kids are barely old enough to enjoy, and I found myself struggling to keep my eyes open at 7:30, telling myself what a waste of a daylight savings night this was since we’ll get to sleep an extra hour tonight.  Then I realized I wanted to commit to memory–in writing–a small happening that made my husband and me smile.

Lately, we’ve been letting our daughter enjoy her second grade glory and read for 20 minutes or so before bed.  We go through the normal routine: pajamas, teeth brushing, communal story, head scarf for our beautiful black girl’s hair.  Then we tuck the kids into bed, and give our daughter a time for lights out.  She read silently in her bed, sometimes on the old Kindle I gave her and sometimes in actual books, and when her Hello Kitty clock displays the specific time on which we’ve agreed, she clicks off her lamp and goes to sleep.  Her first grade brother has been begging for a similar treatment, but he lacks the time telling skills as well as the self-control to be given this kind of freedom.

Tonight though, since we are getting the extra hour of sleep, I offered to let his sister tell him when reading time was over.  My husband and I got the kids ready for bed, and I gave them about 30 minutes of reading time.  We said our goodnights, and the adults settled in front of the television to watch last week’s Scandal.  Precisely 30 minutes later, we hear a little scene play out through the baby monitor that is still set up in our son’s room.  His big sister has come in to tell him it’s time.  There’s no fighting, there’s no arguing, there’s barely anything more audible than a whisper.  And it’s done.

I head upstairs.  The lights are out and it’s quiet.  I knock on our daughter’s door, and gently ease it open.

“You were a great big sister tonight.”

“I was?”

“That’s what big sister’s do; they help their little brothers learn.”

“Thanks Daddy.”

“I’ll see you in the morning.”

“You mean you’ll see me forever.  Because we’re in the same family.”  She’s never said this before, and it’s one of those few times when her child’s logic stuns rather than frustrates.

“Right.  I’ll see you forever.  Good night.”

In the darkened room I can just make out her beaming smile, and I know this is something I need to hold on to tomorrow when it she’s smashing her brother’s skull with the new light saber she got for her Luke Skywalker costume last night.  They fight.  We fight.  But we’ll see each other forever.

Keeping Score

Not quite a Christmas present

We have a post office box that we use solely for the purpose of communication with our kids’ biological families.  It’s in another town that’s accessible for my husband on his drive to and from work.  Since there is rarely mail there, we don’t check it very often, usually once a month or so.  My husband checked in the week before Christmas, but didn’t find anything but junk mail.  Then he checked last week, and there were two items: a large package for our daughter from her birthgrandmother, and the holiday card we sent to our son’s birthmom marked “return to sender.”

Lately, our son has been having a hard time with his sister reaching the age of reason.  She’ll be seven in a few weeks, and we’ve noticed she’s reached a new level of maturity.  Our son has noticed it too, and he feels the divide widening.  The same thing happened when our daughter turned five and he was still three.  Every interaction was a operatic tragedy for him, and now that he’s got a five-year-old’s vocabulary, he bemoans the ways in which his life is unfair in comparison to his sister’s.  And his behavior has been correspondingly atrocious as he works through these feelings.  (In fact, we have our first teacher conference about his behavior next week.)

So when my husband brought home this big package for our daughter, we actually left it in the car for a day or two until we could find the right time to bring it in.  When we did bring it in the house and told the kids what it was, our daughter was excited and our son was deflated.  We dealt with the fallout and waited a few more days to actually open the package.  Tonight, our daughter was pleading to open the box, and we let her after dinner.  Inside, her grandmother had folded a few of those super soft fleece sweaters that our daughter absolutely adores.  Then underneath was the holy grail of all presents: a Dream Lite Unicorn.

The perfect gift for a granddaughter you’ve never met.

She’s been begging for one of these night-light-stuffed-animals for months, and when she saw it she just about lost her mind screaming.  She was so excited.  Our son on the other hand lost it in a different way.  My husband swiftly swooped in and kept him from totally going over the edge, and it was a tough conversation to navigate.  Our daughter, being nearly seven now, was extremely kind with her brother, showing him how the night light worked and inviting him into her room so they could turn it on in the dark.  Still, I could tell he was saddened by yet another tick in his sister’s life column and another empty space in his.

And so we’ll keep telling him how much his birthmom cares for him in spite of her absence, showering him with our praise for his social development, and helping him enumerate the people in his life will always be a part of his forever family.  With any luck, he’ll move out of this phase of keeping score, and maybe someday he’ll even fill that void created by his missing biological connection with the love that our family has for him.