A day at the park

Friday was the last day of summer vacation around here. Kids start back to school tomorrow. So Friday, Nina and I loaded up all the young ones, packed snack bags and juice boxes and headed to the park. Yeah. It takes two vehicles. Five car seats.

But anyway, so we get to the park and unload everyone and the fun begins. Actually it wasn’t that bad with the older ones (Landon, his friend Tyler, Emma, Ava, Paisley) because they don’t need someone to push them on the swings. And even Aiden and Ivy played super well together. No fights. No pouting. A lot of “Iby! Ballo me!” from Aiden and “A – come hera naw!” We’re pretty sure Ivy gets that Cajun accent from her PawPaw David who spent part of his childhood in Cajun country. Of course David doesn’t speak with a Cajun accent and Ivy doesn’t watch Swamp People so who knows.

At one point Aiden grabs my hand and excitedly tells me to come watch. He leads me to the BIG slide. You know the one three stories high encased in a bending, twisting tube? Yeah, that one. Of course my natural thought is that he’s going to slide and I’m going to have a heart attack. But noooo. He climbs up on the end of it and climbs up the slide like a monkey, disappearing inside the tube thingy and then popping out at the top. Yeah. I might have clapped. I’m not sure. You lose thought processing ability after holding your breath so long.

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Fun for All playground at Hagan Stone Park

So, this playground is massive and steel grid-like walkways connect one play station to another. Of course because of the angle of the slides, the walkways angle upwards—slightly. Our poor little Ireland must have thought it was something like 180 degree angle because she was terrified to walk on them. She held onto the handrail until her pudgy little knuckles were white. Bright white. While holding on to the handrail with a death grip, she shuffled her little feet along at a pace similar to a snail’s. Only slower. She was, however, very happy grounded so her day at the park wasn’t a total traumatizing event.

Back to the grid-like walkways. Remember, this playground is massive. There are three walkways that intersect and the center actually forms a triangle. You’re not supposed to play in the triangle. I mean, I didn’t see a sign or anything saying “Stay Out” and apparently neither did Casey.

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Yes. You are seeing right. Casey going where no man has gone before.

So I’m trying to inch Ireland along on the walkway and look over and Casey’s in the center of the triangle. And won’t come out. Nina’s on the side trying to coax him over to the side where she can grab him. He’s having fun running in circles. Nina’s running alongside the outside yelling for him to come to her. He’s running around having fun. I think, I’m not sure, Nina may have dropped to her hands and knees and tried wedging herself under the walkway like her son did. I’m kinda laughing. Okay, I’m about to pee in my hands. And then…I think Nina and I spotted it at the same time…the empty, shriveled up CapriSun on the ground. With the straw sticking out. With random germs  all over it.

Imagine those old slow motion videos where people move at about the same pace as Ireland on an elevated walkway. The outstretched hand, mouth slowly opening shouting “NOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooo”

Casey had his mouth washed out with soap before he can even talk.

 

Lost in translation

Grandson Aiden, or on those days I can’t remember all their names he’s affectionately known as Grand 6, is growing up. He’s approaching the big three years old. Our two biggest goals for the summer are 1) that cool underwear vs. diaper thing, and 2) improving language skills.

Gotta hand it to the kid. He’s really giving the communication thing his all. You can actually see him concentrating to get the words out in proper order – meaning – he’s putting a couple words together to form sentences. Don’t get me wrong, we still have our fair share of one or two word expressions. He’s a master at the word “No.” Says it so clear, makes you want to hug him. Or pop his bottom when it’s his answer to a directive like, “Let’s clean up toys!”

Well, leave it to a kid to put an adult in their I’m-the-grown up-know-it-all place. I think it was Dora that was on at the time. Might have been Team Umizumi. Let’s just say it was on Nickelodeon. I was busy changing one of the twin’s diapers. Aiden was all over the t.v., pointing and shouting, “Eight! MawMaw, eight!” I’m wiping poop off a toddler’s bottom who picks that moment to impersonate Chubby Checker and The Twist, so I glance up at the t.v. for just a second and  and say “Uh-huh, eight.”

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Aiden, aka Grand 6

Aiden looks at me kind of weird and says again, “Eight, MawMaw, eight.”

With the toxic diaper out of the way, a clean diaper somewhat attached, I pay more attention to Aiden’s excitement over the number eight. The only problem was, they weren’t counting to eight, they were only counting to six. My first thought was WOW, Aiden can count to eight. I have contributed something to his day-times other than forced naps when grandma gets tired! Yeah me! Then I wondered what happened to the number seven?

So we go back and forth a few times with me counting to eight, with seven included, and him saying “No MawMaw, eight!”

Then I watched whatever show was leading my little Grand 6 astray and realized what he was seeing. Eight wasn’t eight at all – it was ATE. As in the elephant ATE the apple. Aiden demonstrated ATE by putting his hands to his mouth and pretending to gobble up something.

I don’t know how I’m going to explain there, their, and they’re.

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Sometimes things aren’t what they seem

The things they hear

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King of his castle, “NO” Casey Jones

Nina and Allen were showing a little concern over Casey’s hearing. Sometimes he responds when his name is called, sometimes he doesn’t. But this week I discovered there’s nothing at all wrong with the little guy’s hearing. Nina and Allen are simply calling him by the wrong name. You can call “Casey,” until you’re blue in the face with little response. But when you say, “NO Casey!” kid responds like a charm. He thinks his name is NO Casey.

So now I’m wondering what the other Grands really do hear on a daily basis. Hourly basis? Maybe half-hourly basis would be more fitting. Imagine it goes something like this:

3:00pm to 3:30pm, on the playground

Me (Said not all in one breath. There are pauses): Landon, let the girls play. Aiden, why are you crying? Emma – there is no such thing as the Hatchet Man. Landon – why did you tell her that? I’m positive, Emma. There is no one living in the woods with a hatchet. Landon – he’s not living next door either. Stop scaring her. Casey, no. NO Casey! Can someone help me get Casey? Aiden, do you want to swing? You’re swinging high enough, Ivy. No more high. We’ll have snack when we go in. Where’d Ireland get that cup of water?No, Ireland! Landon, can you run go get a towel? Paisley! Ava, Emma – why are you going inside? I promise there’s no one in the woods. Ok, who locked Casey in the castle? Good job, Aiden! No, don’t throw the mulch. Where’s Ireland? Paisley, you’re swinging high enough. Don’t go any higher. Ava – what are you doing in the tree? Ireland, don’t eat the mulch. Casey’s coming down the slide, head first, someone help him! Never mind. Is he bleeding?

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Ava, sitting pretty

And that’s how we roll in the trenches. Er, playground.

Single Mom Guilt

Went to Landon’s baseball game yesterday then swung by Walmart to pick up a few things. Nina and Landon were stalking me so every time I turned around in the store, I ran into them. Somehow we ended up in the Sporting Goods section and Landon was looking at the bats. He test swung a couple and told Nina he liked this one or that one. Nina told him to put them all back, that he needed to wait until his dad was with him to help him choose.

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My son Garey getting his son Aiden ready for T-ball.

I honestly don’t know why – maybe it was the over exposure of watching horrible things unfold on the news this week – but I found myself unusually emotional. At that moment, when Nina told him his dad would help him, it was all I could do to hold back the tears. I really did not want to cry in Walmart surrounded by youth-sized jock straps and the cooler of redworms (yeah, we live in Randleman). All I could think of was my son’s dad never helped him pick out a bat.

Garey played t-ball and youth baseball and basketball and even soccer. His dad and I divorced before Garey was six and for whatever reason, his dad sort of took a leave of absence and decided to pursue other interests (like his own, but that’s a whole ‘nother story). So it was pretty much up to me to raise a son and his little sister alone.

I didn’t know what size bat he needed. Or what type of glove or how to condition a new glove. But I learned. I learned by asking his coaches and the dads of his teammates. I made sure he never missed a practice even if it meant leaving work a few minutes early and eating a bowl of cereal for supper afterward. I learned the rules of the game so I wouldn’t be the mom screaming at the umpire on a fair call.

I took him fishing and had to learn how to bait a hook myself so I could teach him. Ask Nina how well he can bait a hook. He was maybe seven, she was three, and I took the both of them down to the community lake. Garey put an entire nightcrawler worm (about three inches worth) on his hook, rared back to cast and hooked Nina’s cute little yellow and pink sunsuit right at the top button. Nina is hysterical. There’s a three-inch worm attached to her outfit, writhing right under her nose. The hook was firmly embedded in the fabric so the only way to safely remove it and not risk impaling Nina was to take off the  outfit. She’s still hysterical, I’m trying to get her clothes off, Garey’s trying to control the fishing rod still attached to his screaming little sister…okay…I’m over my own guilt trip now. That memory has me laughing so hard I can hardly see to type.

I don’t know why I carry any guilt in the first place. It was my ex who chose to not be part of our kids’ lives until they were adults. My kids turned out just fine. They’re both kindhearted, super decent adults who turned into super great parents themselves. Garey’s even brave enough to take his little ones fishing. Of course there is the story from last summer when the giant fish jerked little Paisley’s Barbie rod and reel right out of her hands and daddy had to jump in the water to get it back. I think it involved some hand to hand combat with the man-eating fish. This according to Emma and Paisley. Their daddy. My son. Our hero. Yeah. I have nothing to feel guilty about.

Emma and her giant catch. Bet daddy baited her hook.
Emma and her giant catch. Bet daddy baited her hook.

 

Casey’s Big Adventure

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Casey and Ireland, off to see Santa

We don’t get out much. Well, let me rephrase that. Nina’s family doesn’t get out much. With one-year old twins plus a two-year old, not to mention the other two under ten, transporting (3 car seats and a booster needed) can be an issue. There’s also the need for the double stroller and an additional person (at least) with stout arms to carry Ivy (the 2-year old). Moving a platoon of soldiers may be easier.

Don’t get me wrong. The twins have been to the grocery store, the doctor’s office, grandparents’ houses, Nana’s, Uncle Garey and Aunt Ellen’s house, the park, and…(insert drumroll)…the mall. Not only the mall, but they’ve been to the mall to see Santa!

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Landon, Ava, and Ivy’s picture with Santa. If you look close, you can see Santa to the right, with some random kid on his lap.

Yeah, well, that didn’t go over so well. No pictures allowed. Unless you bought the nifty package. And for two dollars more, you can get two 5x7s! Either the hefty price tag that went along with the picture package or the pain in the patootie of getting the twins out of the stroller was enough to make daddy (Allen) say no thanks. So Landon, Ava, and Ivy sat on Santa’s knee and told him what they wanted. Ivy looked like a cat about to be dunked in water. Ava read her wishes from a list. Landon was too cool to act like he enjoyed it. And the twins watched from a few feet away. Their first visit to Santa and they were sentenced to the stroller. Judging from the look on Ireland’s face, that was fine with her. Only child I’ve ever seen that can arch an eyebrow.

So after we visit with Santa, we decide to brave the masses and actually walk around the mall. Wasn’t really crowded (it’s not a very big mall) so it was a nice experience seeing the babies’ excitement over seeing new things. Like a drink machine. While the caravan was stopped to window shop, from his stroller seat, Casey was checking out a drink machine the stroller was parked beside. I mean he was checking it out. Like it was the strangest thing he had ever seen! He even put his tiny little hand up to it and gently touched it. Then touched it again. Then slowly moved in to lick it and Allen jerked the stroller away. Allen’s a germ-a-phob and Casey has developed this habit of licking stuff. I think in his one-year old mind he’s trying to “give kisses” but hasn’t mastered the physical motions yet. He’s got a couple years to master that skill. If they ever let him out of the house.