Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Price of Free Babysitting

Ciaran's first sleepover at Tony's parent's place went so well, (too well, actually), that my mother-in-law offered to take him on a regular basis. "Once or twice a week, if you want" were her exact words. Should have been music to my ears, but trust me - those words have severe consequences. 

My in-laws have been dying to keep Ciaran overnight - they've even got a kids room all set up, not to mention some 30-odd acres of farmland complete with sheep, chickens, wild turkeys and rabbits.

And tractors. Big, shiny red tractors that my machine-obsessed child goes apesh!t over. Those, and anything in the color red. So red tractors? Are da bomb as far as Ciaran is concerned.

But time and time again, when I'd ask if he'd like to have a sleepover at Noninna's, he'd nod but then quickly ask, "You're coming too, right Mommy?" Now, not to judge or slam my mother-in-law here - she is a wonderful, generous, woman. But she would totally tell him "Oh yes, Mommy is staying too." I, on the other hand, can't tell him those kinds of untruths.

Yeah, sure, I do still tell him The Man is coming if he doesn't stop playing with the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, (insert practically any mechanical object here). But I could never lie for the sake of making him stay overnight. I have some scruples. He had to want to do it on his own accord.

Then one day he mentioned that he wanted to sleep over at Noninna's - without insisting that I be there. Before he could change his mind, I packed his bag and called my mother-in-law to tell her what she'd been waiting 2 years to hear.

But, as anxious as I was to finally have a child-free night, albeit during the middle of the week (beggars really can not be choosers, y'all), it's hard watching him become more and more independent.

I worried that come nighttime, he'd realize I wasn't there to read him a story, scratch his back and do all our other little bedtime rituals. What if he freaked out in the middle of the night and wanted to come home, I asked Tony. He assured me he'd drive the 45 minutes north to go and pick him up.

We called after dinner and I pressed my ear to the phone, listening to him recount breathlessly how much fun he was having. The rest of the night I half-expected the phone to ring, telling us to bring him back home, but the call never came.

Excited to see my little monkey the next day, I imagined him running up the driveway, his arms spread open to greet me the way he often does when I fetch him from daycare.

Except that was so not how it went down. Instead? He started crying the instant he saw me, kicking and refusing to get out of my MIL's car. We finally pried him out of his car seat, MIL repeating over and over how he didn't want to come home, how he begged to stay there one more night, making me feel oh-so-peachy at that particularly stressful moment.

Inside, he proceeded to scream at the top of his lungs for 45 minutes. Straight. No break. I was seriously gonna lose my marbles. I walked away and washed my hair while he curled up on the sofa and kept wailing away.

Later that night when the demons finally retreated and I was tucking him into bed, I casually mentioned how he must have really enjoyed his sleepover. He got all quiet and I thought: Here it comes. That knife into my heart. He'll straight out disown me after one night of no rules and a ridiculously late bedtime, not having to eat his veggies and a huge bowl of chocolate ice cream...

Then he looked at me and said in the sweetest little voice ever, "It wasn't THAT fun, Mommy. I just really liked playing with the tractor."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - BDT - The Good, The Bad and The ...Scary!

Anyone who knows me knows about my obsession with this man:

I think we can call this "The Good", no?

I'm not a smoker, but how cool does he make it look?
A classic scene from "Traffic"

Not his most flattering look, but he was filming "Che"

Trying to kill Anthony Hopkins in "The Wolfman"

I recently found out I have competition. Yes, it seems The Empress over at Good Day, Regular People stalks loves Benicio Del Toro just as much as I do. Yup, we've been trading secret tweets about our Benny boy. And, just as Benicio has not so gracefully grown older, so have I. I can no longer be jealous of the other BDT lady fans.

You see, there was a time when I'd become fiercely envious of anyone who dared to even agree with me that he's the most sensual man on the planet. But it seems child rearing has worn me down; I'm much too old to fight over an imaginary boyfriend these days. So, Empress, I'm dedicating this post to you, honey - enjoy!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Birthday Get-together

The air hung heavy and thick as we sat on my sister-in-law's patio on Saturday evening. Too hot to move, we sat languidly in mismatched chairs while our host & hostess served us chilled rose wine. It took effort to breathe, let alone eat, but we managed to polish off some fine barbecued fare and sampled not one, but two different types of cake.

The only one not slowed down at all by the heat, was, of course, Ciaran. The boy does not quit. Right off the bat he ran to his older cousins' trampoline, demanding that I help him climb inside and watch as he bounced up and down, sweat dripping down his recently scrubbed face.

It was the annual family get-together/late birthday party for our niece and nephew. Their actual birthdays both fall in July, but since their parents made the excellent career decisions of being teachers, they travel each year until mid-August and host a get-together upon their return. I totally kick my arse every summer for having not listened to my mother about becoming a teacher. For that, and also for not marrying a millionaire like one of my aunts once told me. Kidding. Kind of.

Anyway, as we sat there tired and lazy and arguing over whose turn it was to chase after Ciaran, I was struck by a few different thoughts - the first of them being this: I am so flipping OLD!

At one time, my sister and brother-in-law's backyard was filled with kids running wild, playing catch or tag while the adults (well, me, at least) clung tightly to our wine glasses. Since the grandparents were always fussing over the youngsters, we had a break for a good couple of hours.

But this year there was a notable difference. My niece, now 14 and my nephew who turned 12, have become more like grown ups and less like the playful, mischievous kids they were not so long ago.

Talk turned, as it inevitably does, to how our nephew was born just weeks after Tony and I were married and how quickly our little 2 year old flower girl had grown up. Of course, only the adults got all sentimental over this, and when my niece casually mentioned that she still had the flouncy little pink and white dress from our wedding, well, I swear I felt a lump in my throat.

And it wasn't because that sweet-faced, tousle-headed little girl had turned into such a lovely young woman, no, that wasn't really it. It's because it hit me for the first time, how old I'm getting. Seriously - how did time creep up on me like that?

I tried not to think about Ciaran growing up that quickly, but then something else struck me:

It is way more freaking relaxing eating dinner with a 14 and 12 year old. They actually sit still during the meal; there's no food being thrown, or spilled all over the place. At no point did I feel little hands grabbing my legs from beneath the table.

Nor did they announce loudly during dinner that they had to go poop - RIGHT NOW! And even if they did, so what? They could get up and go themselves without anybody wiping their butts, or answering a thousand questions about where the poop goes and how toilets work in general.

And the conversation? Delightful! Imagine, a whole hour where I didn't have to raise my voice, threaten or sigh in constant exasperation. My husband was thrilled not to see me holding my head in my hands and muttering under my breath for once, I'm sure.

But, when Sunday morning rolled around, I came to another conclusion; I kind of like my sleepy four year old climbing into bed to snuggle next to me, a pink stuffed pig in one hand and a bright green birthday balloon in his other. Even if, shortly after, he kicks me in the ribs and tells me to make him some pancakes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - It's oh so quiet...

Ciaran is having his very first sleepover at my in-laws tonight.  This is the first time he's ever spent the night away from me. I miss him already.

But on the plus side it feels like the first time in years I can hear myself think.

And hubby and I are totally going to take advantage of this peace and quiet. Oh yes, we're going to have a nice, relaxing meal, maybe even light a candle or two. Just like the good old days B.C.- before Ciaran.

And after that? We're going upstairs to do something we haven't done in a long, long time. You know, the "S" word. And it's going to be amazing.

But wait - before you go thinking dirty thoughts, I'm not talking about THAT "S" word. God, no, I'm way too tired for that. I'm talking about the other "S" word. The one that I crave, can never get enough of, dream about during my waking hours.
Oh yeah, I'm talkin' about that elusive bastard also known as Sleep!

The rare sight of me kicking back & relaxing!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sometimes I'm a Pig

That's right, sometimes I am a pig. Not the kind that makes huge messes or overindulges in chocolate (ok, that's a blatant lie - I do overindulge in anything listing cocoa as an ingredient). But that's also not the kind of pig-ness I am referring to.

The metamorphosis almost always happens at night, usually when I'm tucking my son into bed. He hands me this pinkish stuffed farm animal and makes me "be" the pig. I'm sure all you parents know what I'm talking about. When you're forced to become an animal or other toy character and tell stories or answer questions in not-sounding-like-any-person-animal-or-character-anyone's-ever-heard-of voices. At least that's how we play in my house. Please tell me we're not the only ones?
Piggy - Ciaran's fave toy, for this month at least.
 I actually enjoy being Piggy, though. I fly though the air and have awesome parties where my toy friends and I jump into imaginary mud puddles the size of  Ciaran's room. Oh, and I can sing Down By the Bay in a rather amusing operatic style. Yes, I'm one wild and crazy, not to mention talented pig. 

But the best thing about becoming Piggy? I get to be privy to things I normally wouldn't be as plain old Mommy. Ciaran tells me Piggy things much more candidly during these times.

For instance, I learned that he wishes I would come pick him up from daycare earlier than I usually get there. It seems he's always one of the last kids to be picked up at night and, while I never realized it bothered him that much, apparently it does. Also, Noninna (my mother-in-law) gives him waaay too many treats when she's babysitting. (Mental note to talk to her about that!).

I'm not always resigned to just being a pig, I'll have you know. I've also done a pretty good characterization of the Buddha. Yes, Buddha. We have a wooden figurine of him that Ciaran took to playing with for a while. And once he stopped freaking out over Buddha's eyes being closed, he started handing the figurine to me, wanting me to speak for him.

I'm not gonna lie; that was a bit awkward at first. I wasn't sure how to "be" Buddha. I experimented with different personalities. Sometimes I was all reflective and wise, but Ciaran seemed to like "fun Buddha" better. And again, I could never get the voice quite right. Buddha always sounded like a slightly more refined Elvis impersonator.

Hmm, now that I think about it, maybe Elvis is Buddha. And, before you go thinking Well, she's really gone off the deep end now - I'm obviously not the only one who's thought about this:

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Blue Box - Part Deux

So, I decided to split my last post into 2 parts - it turned into a longer story than I'd anticipated and also I seem to have less and less free time, as my son keeps getting needier and needier. But that's a whole 'nother story!

Ok, now where was I? Oh, yeah, the part where hubby tells me there's a steering wheel from a 1950's crime scene in the pretty blue box I'd assumed was a gift for me.

Like many of you expressed, I too was like, WTF??

It's a project for his work, he tells me. And he had to take it home. For what reason, I have no idea, because I've stopped listening to him - my mind is still reeling from this bizarre tale. And the fact that the steering wheel of a convicted murderer is sitting in a fancy box on top of my bookshelf is really creeping me out.

Oh, but that's not the worst part of the story, no, it gets worse. As Tony grabs the box from the shelf to open it, he excitedly tells me the blood stains are still on the steering wheel - do I want to see it?

Hell no! I jump back as if the thing itself could attack me - I want nothing to do with that evil object. From the box he takes out a letter outlining some details of the crime, including the murderer's name, which becomes etched in my mind.

It turns out that this evidence has come from a police museum in Calgary where it is kept on display. Tony's company is redesigning the interior of the museum and making special display cases; hence the reason for the steering wheel's mysterious arrival.

I flirt with the idea of looking at it, but when I realize that it's staying in my house overnight (until Tony delivers it to a display vendor the next morning), I change my mind. My nightmares are made of stuff like this. I still get the heebie jeebies thinking about scary movies I've seen years ago. My mind wanders, things get blown out of proportion and suddenly I'm waking up in a cold sweat at three in the morning. Don't even mention the words The Shining to me. Or The Ring. Not even in broad daylight.

But I can't stop thinking about the damn thing in that blue box; I become obsessed with it. So, what do I do? I start researching the case. If this thing's going to be in my house, even just for one night, I need to know who's blood stains are on it. I feel connected to this crime now, I'm emotionally involved.

There's not much information on the Internet, but I manage to dig up a few facts: The murderer was a young married man - boy, really - but old enough to know right from wrong. There was a trial and he was given the death penalty for the rape and murder of a female. He was hung in Alberta in the summer of his twenty-third year.

But what I really want to know about is the woman. How old was she? Did she know her attacker? Was she a someone's wife or mother? Or was she a child herself? Other than her name and being listed as the victim of the crime against her, there's no other information about her. And it makes me sad.

Lately, I've been feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. I'm frustrated that I can't find enough time to blog, exercise, or do tons of other things as much as I'd like to. But I'm grateful that I have this platform to write and share things that make me upset, angry or overjoyed. And I like knowing that one day my son might want to look back and read about them.

I still wonder about that woman sometimes. And maybe it's because I'm a mother, but I imagine she had children. Yes, she had two children, I think. A boy and a girl. She read them bedtime stories and baked them gingerbread cookies and held their hands as she walked them to school. And she kept a diary of her life with them. And after she was gone, their loving, hard-working father gave them the diaries and they knew just how she felt about them. And they never, ever forgot her.
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