An open letter to the imaginary friend living in my house

Dear Coco,

When you first moved in to my house a while back, I thought you were cute.

Well, not literally cute.  I mean, I couldn’t see you, after all.  None of us could.

But Chip could.  And I thought it was adorable how you and he would have conversations together.  How you’d whisper secrets into his ear, that were relayed on to the rest of the family.  How he’d clutch you in his tiny little hand, and hold you close to my face so I could inspect your beautiful blue hair.

I admit that I initially frowned a bit at your blue hair.  “What kind of influence would you be on my children?” I thought.

But, still, I welcomed your arrival at first.   You encouraged my son to use his imagination.  You played nicely together.  And you were very, very quiet.

You were the perfect house guest.

Lately, however, things have changed with you.  Over the past few weeks, your ugly side has slowly emerged.  And I’m beginning to think you’re not the perfect angel you initially made yourself out to be.

First, there are the messes you keep making around the house.   Candy wrappers strewn haphazardly on my kitchen floor.  Matchbox cars lying in a heap beside the toy box.  Silly putty stuck to the living room carpet.

I’ve been told that you are the culprit for these messes.  What’s up with that?

And then there are the mealtime battles.  You see, we have a rule in this house.  You must take a “no, thank you” bite of everything on your plate.  But apparently, you missed that memo.

So when you refused to eat your pancakes this morning for breakfast, it caused quite a ruckus.  Apparently, if Coco ain’t eating it, neither is Chip.

Seriously.  Who doesn’t like pancakes?  I slaved over a hot microwave to nuke those pancakes, and you will at least take a “no, thank you” bite, mister.

I’m not liking what I’m seeing, Coco.  I’ve had enough of your shenanigans.  And I think it’s about time you packed your bags and moved out.

Or maybe that’s too harsh.  On second thought, maybe that makes me a bad hostess.  I’m willing to give you a second chance to shape up.

I just have one request.  Do you think you could start eating your breakfast?  Or, at the very least, pretend like you’re eating your breakfast?

That would be a big help.  And if you do that, I might let you stay after all.

As long as you pick up your toys.

Sincerely,
The Lady of the House

Gone

It’s gone.

And every time I peek through the doorway, I’m surprised that it’s not there.

It had been through a lot.  It had been urped-on, peed-on, and projectile-vomited-on.  It had been the launching pad for countless binkies, stuffed animals and sippy cups that were chucked out, trajectory style, by the little occupant within.  The thing had been plastered with stickers.  Heck, it had been used to cut teeth on.

But I hung onto it.  Because it was one of the last great markers of babyhood.

It reminded me of late night feedings.  Of stumbling into his room, my eyes halfway shut, to snuggle with a warm, hungry little infant.

It reminded me of a time, before he even arrived, that I lovingly decorated his nursery with little stars and cowboys.  When we redid his room, he decided he didn’t want no stinkin’ cowboys anymore.  “Big Boys like dinosaurs,” I was told.

It reminded me of walking into his room in the mornings, and seeing him beam and stand up, arms outstretched to greet me.

It reminded me of a time when I knew he was safe, secure and, most importantly, contained in one place in the house.  Now, he gets out of bed at will, roaming the house and stirring up mischief at ungodly hours.

When we packed it up, it reminded me that it was the last time it would ever be used.  At least by our family.

It reminded me that I could still pretend that he was my little guy.  A baby.  Now he’s a Big Boy, because he sleeps in a Big Boy Bed.

He was ready.  Even though I was not.

iPhone Photo Phun

Fuse beads: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

If your child has not yet discovered Fuse Beads, you’re in for a treat.  These colorful little plastic beads are a great way to keep your child busy on a rainy day.  And believe me, we have plenty of those around here.  Bobo is literally obsessed with the things right now.

But, as I’ve discovered, there is a downside to our newly-found craft project.  And, sometimes, there is a really, really big downside.

Before you venture into the world of Fuse Beads, be forewarned.  There is a good, a bad and an ugly to these little suckers.

The Good: Fuse beads will keep Child A quietly entertained for hours.  OK.  Maybe not hours.  But at least for a good 30 minutes while you attempt to make dinner.

The Bad: Once the fuse bead masterpiece has been completed, Child A will insist that her work of art be ironed.  Immediately.  Because the sky will fall if you don’t.   It makes no difference that you’re still in the middle of making dinner.  Fuse beads wait for no one.

The Good: You admit, as you iron the little piece, that fuse beads are an excellent way of encouraging counting, sorting and pattern-making with young children.  Your child may surprise you with their ability to create elaborate pieces of artwork.  And you might “ooh” and “aah” like it’s the best thing since sliced bread.  Because, of course, it is.

The Bad: Your “oohs” and “aahs” will pique the interest of Child B.  Whatever Child A does, Child B must also do.  And even though you try valiantly to work on patterns with him (“Can you do a blue and then a green?”), it’s far more fun for a two year-old to grab huge handfuls of the beads and mix the colors together.  Or try to sneak beads from his sister’s pile.

The Good: Both children are quietly occupied again (Child A making the beads, Child B attempting to steal beads from Child A).  You resume making dinner.

The Ugly: Child B starts coughing.  You rush over to where he is.

“What’s wrong,” you say?

“I gotta boogey up there,” Child B says, rubbing his nose.

But on closer inspection you realize that he didn’t say “boogey,” but rather, “bead.”    Apparently, he tried to create his own fuse bead masterpiece.  Up his nose.

The Good: Child B, distracted by a Disney movie, allows you to pin him down on the ground while you go fuse bead hunting with a pair of tweezers.

The Bad: After retrieving the first fuse bead (a green one!), you discover Child B has actually stuck multiple beads up his nose.

The Good: When asked, “How many beads did you stick up here???” Child B responds back quickly and gleefully, “OneTwoFree!”  You figure that at least we’re working on counting skills while we’re fishing them out.

The Ugly: You discover, after fishing out the third fuse bead, that Child B cannot actually count after all.  Or, that perhaps he just lost count after the third.  So much for child geniuses.  As you proceed to extract the fuse beads out from the depths of his little nose, you wonder how a nose so little could hold so many beads.  It’s kind of like the clowns coming out of the tiny car at the circus… how DO they all fit in there?

The Good: You discover, as you’re counting the line of snot-covered beads pulled from your little one’s nose, that he actually inserted them in a very specific order up his nose.

Green…

Brown…

Green…

Yellow…  No wait, that last one was a booger.

Brown…

It was a pattern!  He was listening to what you said after all.  Despite your distress over having to perform surgical extraction on your son, a small part of you beams with pride.  What a smart cookie.

And you begin to reconsider that maybe he is a child genius after all.

A child genius who just so happens to like to stick small colorful objects, in copious amounts, up his nose.

Goodnight, Daddy

Dear Daddy,

I hereby request that, going forward, you put me to bed every night.

I know momma may have objections with this request.  She loves the fact that I snuggle up in her arms and give her warm, tight hugs before bedtime.  She loves how I lay my fuzzy little head on her shoulder and say, “I love you, momma” as she’s closing the door to my room.

But I have some sound arguments for you putting me to bed each night.  They are as follows:

  1. You rub my back to help me fall asleep.  Mom just plops me in my crib and tells me it’s time to go to sleep.  Really, which would you prefer?
  2. You let me take hard, pointy toys into my crib.  Mom never lets me have this stuff in bed because she says it’s not safe.  “You can’t sleep with your triceratops because you’ll poke your eye out with the horns,” she says.  She’s such a worry wart.  Instead, she lets me sleep with things like my Nerf football.  The same one I bit into tiny little pieces the other day.
  3. You tell better bedtime stories than momma.  Sometimes, I see mom standing at the door to my room as you read me a story.  I think she knows that you read “Where the Wild Things Are” better than she does.
  4. You let me take stickers to bed.  And, obviously, that means that you want me to plaster my entire crib, pajamas and stuffed animals with said stickers.  Why else would you give them to me, right?

I don’t think mom was amused when she saw this this morning.  But, then again, she did start laughing and ran to grab the camera.  So, maybe she did think it was funny after all.

Anyway, clearly, good things happen when you put me to bed instead of momma.  I’m thinking we should make it a regular routine.

So, pretty please, could you talk to momma about my request?

Sincerely,
Your Son

Sometimes, it snows in June.

There is a snowball tree in our back yard.

Source

For 11 months of the year, it looks like your average deciduous shrub.  And in the winter, it’s pretty dang ugly: just a contortion of barren, dead-looking sticks.

But  in late spring, it explodes in a mass of beautiful, white petals.  For the two weeks that it blooms, you can barely see the greenery hidden underneath the display of flowers.

It’s pretty stunning.  I look forward to those two weeks out of the year where we have a little visual break from the dreary Northwest springs.

Alas, the same snowball tree caught my son’s eye when we were outside playing in the yard last weekend.

I was working in the garden while the kids were doodling with sidewalk chalk on the back porch.  They were busy and content.   Or, so I thought.

Because in the brief time I had my back turned, Chip had grown bored with the sidewalk chalk.  So he wandered a few steps away, where my beautiful snowball tree taunted and beckoned to him.

It was the giggling that made me turn around.  But it was the destruction that made me come running.

“Noooo!”  I shrieked, as I bolted towards him.

But apparently, I run really slowly.  Either that, or my son picks at lightning speed (seriously, I should put the kid to work picking weeds).  By the time I had made it across the yard, countless handfuls of the blooms had been viciously plucked from the bush.  They lay strewn across the lawn like little dismembered snowmen.

I was mad.  As in, really, really fuming.  And I was also out of breath from sprinting across the yard.

As I stood there, my son looked up at me.  He deliberately yanked one more bloom from the bush, and held it up to me.

“It’s snowing, momma!” he said, shaking the flower maniacally.

I don’t know why.  But immediately, my anger dissipated.  Maybe it was seeing how much hilarity he saw in such a simple thing.  Or maybe it was seeing the little white petals stick in his dark hair like snowflakes.  Or his little giggles of delight.

I changed my tactic.  I explained that we do not pull flowers off plants.  But that, sometimes, if momma or daddy were with us, it was okay to make it snow.

So we shook that plant like there was no tomorrow.  We wiggled the branches, and batted at the leaves wildly.   It resembled one of those famous pillow fight scenes.  Except, instead of feathers, we were caught in a blizzard of petals and leaves.

Screams of glee.

Clouds of pollen (which I’m pretty sure confirmed that my kids are not allergic to pollen).

Flurries of white snow.

By the time we were done, our lawn was pretty much covered in white.  And my beautiful snowball tree had been decimated.  At least from 3 feet down.

I guess I’ll have to wait until next June to see the snowball tree flower again.  But I learned something this year when it bloomed.

There are some things in life that are pretty to look at.

But there are some things in life that are beautiful when they’re properly played with.

Sometimes, you just need a two year-old to bring that to light.  And to make it snow in June.

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