So this has nothing to do with the kids—well, perhaps it has something to do with childhood—but in any case, indulge me for a bit. I dealt with the fact that Pluto isn’t a planet anymore. I was disappointed, but not gutted, that the Brontosaurus was just a category error. But there’s no such thing as a Triceratops? Yes, yes, scientific conventions change, I know, I’ve read my Kuhn, but COME ON!
The kids are in the bath. Stella, as usual, jumped in and scooped all the Disney toys and is refusing to share. Oliver is making pathetic, reasoned attempts to get one or two.
O: Stella, please let me have Goofy and Minnie.
O: PLLLEEASSSEE. You have ALL the toys. I just want a few.
S: They are MINE. NO. You can’t have them Oh-yi-buh! They are ALL my favorites!
O: STELLA! This is not fair. Really. It’s just not. I’m only asking for two. You have so many.
Instead of demanding she hand them over, I decide to try a different approach, and play on her generosity.
K: Stella, why do we share?
S: We don’t.
K. Stella. C’mon. Why do we share?
O: Because we have to. Give them to me, Stella.
K: No, we don’t just share because we have to. We share because it is a nice thing to do. Because it is the generous thing to do. Because it makes the other person happy.
O: Yes, Stella. You should make me happy.
K: Stella, don’t you want your brother to be happy?
S: (shaking her head dramatically from side to side). Noooooooo.
K: Stella. That’s not nice. It would make Oliver very happy, and me very happy, if you would share a few of those toys.
S: No. Because it would make me MOST HAPPY if I keep them here. I have them. I want ME to be happy.
K: Hand over the toys, right now Stella, or you are going to bed with no stories. None.
Stella hands over the toys, thereby avoiding a nasty, brutish and short end to her evening. Laws matter.
Grandma Sue is visiting, and made frosted cupcakes with Oliver this morning. Then this:
Grandma Sue: Yes, they are lovely, and we can have them a tea time.
Oliver. Tea time? Tea time? What is tea time?
Grandma Sue: Well, it is later this afternoon and…
Oliver (interrupting): You mean there is another time we get to eat during the day? Why have I never had tea time before? WHY? WHY?
K reports: So I made Pad Thai. It is the tiniest bit spicy. Really. It is very mild. About five minutes in:
O: Mom! What is wrong with my mouth?
Me (Pretending this is not happening): Nothing.
O: It is! Something is very wrong! And I think my mouth is broken!
S: Owwwwwwwwww! Waaaahhh!!
Me: It is just a little spicy.
O: It is what? Spice-me?!?! I hate spytsee!! Why did you spytsme??
S: Oh no! Oh dear. It spyeee!!!
Me: Guys, it isn’t that bad. Drink some milk and it will make it not be so spicy.
They both drink about a gallon of milk. Then they start eating again. About five minutes later:
O: It is spiced-tea again!
S: My nose is runnin! It making my nose runnin! Oh no! It burning! My mouf burnin’ and my nose burnin’!! Wwaaaahhh!!!
O: Mom!! My mouth is burning! It is burning off my head!!
S: Waaaaahhhh!! I got snot on my spyceeee!! Now it tastes wooorrrssseee!!!
O: I cannot feel my tongue! My tongue is gone! It burned off!!!
S: Why you feed us this???? Whhhyyy??? Wwwwaahhhhh!!!
O: Now I can’t feel my whole head! These noodles broke my head!! It is so spytsee I can’t EVEN SEE!!
S: I gonna have a puke! I have snot and spyee!! Waaahhhh!!!
And so it went for 20 minutes. Our children are clearly not designed for adventurous travel.
K reports: Oliver and Stella are in the bath. Oliver puts up eight foam numbers on the wall, with the intention of “teaching” Stella her numerals.
O: Okay, Stella. Point to the number five!
Stella, who is making a pretend pie in a plastic bucket full of water, glances up at the numbers, decides she can’t be bothered, and randomly waves her hand at one of them.
O: Oops, Stella. That is WRONG. That is not a five. That is a two. Here, I will make it easier for you.
Oliver removes several of the numbers, so now there are only a few on the wall.
O: Stella, Stella! Look up here. Now, let’s see if you can do this. Please point to the number five!
Stella looks up from her pie. She’s very bored with this lesson. She waves her hand at a four.
O: Oh dear, Stella. That is not right either. That is a four. It is a number. Okay, Stella? Okay? The number four. Maybe there is a way to make this easier.
Oliver starts fishing around in the bathtub. I start washing their hair and am not paying attention. Suddenly, I hear Oliver.
O: (In a slow voice, clearly designed to indicate he believes he is speaking to a mental incompetent.) îOoookaaaay Steeeellllla. Let’s see if you can do it thiiiis time. Can…You…Point…To…The…Number…Five?
I look up at the wall. Oliver has put only fives on the wall. I have to duck my head so that they won’t see me laughing.
Stella looks at the wall. And, as she is in fact no dummy but rather lives to annoy her brother, refuses to make a choice.
Oliver: Stella! Stella! C’mon! You can’t even get it wrong! Choose one! It’s SO easy! I MADE IT so easy!
Stella finally waves at a number.
O: (sounding relieved.) That is right, Stella. Good job. You did it. That is a five. Maybe you are smart.
I think I saw Stella rolling her eyes.
From K: A list of where the kids want to visit in the world, in the order they listed:
S: Africa (Stella was unpersuaded by Oliver’s argument that was covered by Kenya)
O: California. But only to Disneyland
S: Teenia (Stella was unpersuaded by Oliver’s argument there was no such country)
O: Dehli (Oliver was unpersuaded by my argument that this was covered by India)
S: Hawaii (Stella was unpersuaded by Oliver that she’d already said that)
O: Buenos Aires (but only the one in, uh, Brazil)
S: Hawaii (Stella really wants to go to Hawaii)
O: Mexico, because “it is below Texas”
S: A place with a castle where Cinderella lives.
K: Oliver just undid a foil wrapper from a chocolate Easter egg. He then asked if I would throw it in the trash and said he was sorry for “littering.” Two minutes later he added: “I’m also sorry for loitering.”
O: How many people are in the world?
K: 5 billion or so
O: Wrong! Jess says 6 billion
Me: OK. Fine. 6 billion
O: Have I met them all yet?
Me: No. That would be hard. It would take more than your whole life.
O: Why? It would only take 6 billion minutes
Me: Six billion minutes is a long time. It is years.
O: How many years?
I try to use my blackberry calculator. It doesn’t go that high. I try to do it on paper. I fail and give up
Me: I can’t do it
O: You aren’t very good with numbers. Maybe you need to go to school with me. Here. Here is a test. What comes after five biliion 999 million 999 thousand 999?
Me: Six billion?
O: Good! That is right! Do you know what else is five biliion 999 million 999 thousand 999?
O: The number of people I still need to meet. And you still haven’t told me how many years it will take to do it. Maybe in 6 billion minutes you will have figured out the answer.
From K: A ladybug starts flying around the kitchen table light. Stella goes into her usual hysterics about “bugs,” wailing and crying. I get the bug.
O: (imperiously) Stella bugs can NOT hurt you, except bees which sting you all the time. Ladybugs are nice. Butterflies are nice. Ants are nice.
S: No, Oh-ber!!!! No!!! Ladybugs are very bad and dey sting me on duh ear!!!
O: Stella, laybugs do not sting and butterflies do not sting
S: NO OH-BER!!!! Duh butterflies are not nice and dey chew off my legs!!
Me: Stella, I don’t think any ladybugs will chew off your legs.
S: They dooooo Mom!!! At night!! When you is sleeping. They come in my room!!
Me: Stella that is not true.
S: It isss!!!! Mom!!! It is!! And the stinkbugs bad too. They eat my eyeballs!!
O: Mom!! Mom!! Will they eat my eyeballs??!! Mom!!! DID they eat my eyeballs and so this is why I have glasses??!!
S: Oh no!!! Oh dear!! I need glasses too!!?? Cuz stinkbugs??? I can’t see!!!
K says: I tell the kids that since Daddy is staying in town, they can (for once) sleep in Mommy’s bed. They are SO excited. We can barely eat dinner. We can barely make it through bath. After bath, Stella climbs into the bed and is so worried she might have to leave it that she initially refuses to let me put on her pajamas. We read stories. Then we get read for bed.
Me: Okay Oliver, you sleep on the outside here, Stella in the middle, and me over here.
O: Why? I want you to be in the middle
Me: I don’t want Stella to fall out of bed.
Me: Because it would hurt.
O: What about me? What if I fall out of bed? Don’t you care if I fall out of bed?
Me: Of course. But you are a big boy who already sleeps in a big boy bed, so know how to not fall out of it.
I turn out the light. My devious plan: They will be so happy to be in mommy’s bed, I will make them be quiet and they will fall asleep quickly. Then I can get up and watch TV until it is time for me to go to bed.
Twenty minutes later:
Me: Oliver, stop talking
Oliver: I’m not talking. I’m whispering. It isn’t the same thing.
Me: Stop whispering.
Me: It is time to go to sleep. Stop.
Silence for about twenty seconds
Oliver: Hey Mom! I stopped talking.
Me: You just talked.
Oliver: Oh, yeah.
Stella: Stop talking Oh-ber!! Can’t seep! Be quiet!
Oliver: Mom, Stella is talking too.
Forty minutes later:
Stella: Stop touching me, Oh-ber
Oliver: I’m not!
Stella: You ARE. Mommy, Oh-ber touching me. Can’t seep.
Oliver: This is why you need to be in the middle, Mom.
I get in the middle.
One hour later:
Oliver is giggling. Stella is giggling. They are poking each others bellybuttons. I inform the kids there is a change of plans. They will go to sleep in their own beds, and I will move them to mine when I come to sleep, so they can wake up with Mom in Mom’s bed. Promise. They are okay with this. they go to their beds and go to sleep. I watch TV. I come to bed and dutifully drag them, asleep, to mine. I turn out the lights.
Stella: Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all way!! Jingle bell, jingle bells. Hey!
Oliver: Snore. Loud snoring.
Me: Stella, go to sleep. No singing.
Stella put her finger up my nose. Giggles.
Me: Serious, Stella. If you don’t be quiet, I’m going to put you in your own room.
Me: You want to go to your room?
Stella: Yes! PLEASE!
Stella: Oh-ber is SNORING. Can’t SEEP. And you taking up WHOLE BED!!
I take Stella to her bed. She goes to sleep.
I wake up to huge Oliver face right above mine.
O: MOM!! MOM!! WE LOST STELLA!!! SHE IS NOT IN THE BED!! I LOOKED AND SHE IS NOT DOWN UNDER THE COVERS AND SHE IS NOT UNDER THE BED!! WE LOST HER!! OH DEAR! OH NO! DADDY WILL BE SO MAD! HE LIKES STELLA!