Mr. Dreamy, head of my kids’ school, has mentioned to parents that the folks at school will believe only half of what our children say occurs at home, if we believe only half of what the children claim happens at school.
Translation…50% of the time, our kids are big, fat liars.
One day last month, the Verb was eating the house down more so than usual.
Me: “Hey, Verby-Verb, you’d better slow down. You’re going to have a belly ache if you keep eating so much tonight.”
Verb: “A belly ache? Nah! Can I have some more rice, Mom?”
Rice is the devil himself at my dinner table. The cleanup makes me batty.
Me: Sighing, “Sure, Verb. Here’s some more rice.”
An hour later, after I’ve washed the dishes, bathed the younger guys, reminded Waldorf 16 times to start his homework, packed the next day’s snacks and lunches, and picked up 142 grains of rice from the floor, I am tucking the Verb into bed.
Me: Inhaling his 3 year old deliciousness, “Goodnight, my sweet angel boy. Mommy loves you.”
Verb: Words muffled by his thumb sucking, “G-Night, Mommy. I love you, Mommy.”
One down, 3 to go. Then, American Idol, I have a date with you. You and a very large glass of red wine.
Soon after, I tuck the Interrogator into bed, but the Verb is still awake.
Verb: Happily, “Mom, mine belly is too full from eating so much rice.”
The Verb holds the prestigious title of “2nd biggest inventor of bedtime stall tactics” under our roof. 1st prize goes to Waldorf.
Nice try, Verb. I handed you that line. Be more creative next time.
Me: “You’re fine. Your belly isn’t hurting you. You’re just tired. Lay down and go to sleep.”
Interrogator: Worried, “What? Is he gonna throw up? Ewww, I don’t like throw up. It’s stinky.”
Me: “No, Interrogator, he’s not going to throw up. He’s just teasing Mommy. Goodnight, boys. Please stay in your beds, close your eyes, close your mouths, and go to sleep.”
Interrogator: Still concerned, “Mom, what about the throw up, Mom?”
Me: Closing the door, “Goodnight, boys.”
Back downstairs with the older two, I am running out of fuel.
Me: “Guys, we can play one game of Uno or we can read quietly. Which would you like to do?”
Don’t say Uno. Please don’t say Uno. I am so tired, please let’s all just read quietly.
Kenyan & Waldorf: “UNO!”
OK. Beats Monopoly.
Mid-game, I hear the duet of voices that should be asleep beckoning me. I head upstairs to investigate.
Me: “This had better be an emergency, boys.”
Interrogator: “Mom, the Verb doesn’t feel good, Mom. He says his belly is too full from eating so much rice.”
Verb: Smiling and dancing from the waist up, “Yeah, Mom! Mine belly is too full.”
Me: Sternly, “Both of you listen to me. Lay down. Right now. And ZIP IT.”
For the love of Pete.
Waldorf, the Kenyan, and I finish our game of Uno soon after.
Me: “OK, Kenyan, please go upstairs, brush your teeth, and put on your pjs. And Waldorf, please go upstairs, put on your pjs, and brush your teeth. Notice the order of those directions, boys.”
It’s essential to separate them as much as possible as bedtime approaches. To reduce their participation in the game my parents have so appropriately labeled, “grab-ass”.
I assure you it is a metaphorical, not a literal, game. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true.
I am putting away the cards when the Kenyan flies back down the stairs.
Kenyan: Urgently, “Mommy! The Verb is sick! I heard a gagging noise coming from his room, so I opened the door and he was PUKING! It’s EVERYWHERE! And it smells DISGUSTING!”
Son of a bitch. He called my bluff.
Together, we run upstairs. The waft of vomit hits me at the top of the stairs. I enter the bedroom the Verb shares with the Interrogator. I find the Interrogator, holding his nose and dry heaving on the top bunk. And my sweet little Verb, on the bottom bunk, sitting upright in bed. He appears lost, and his face and hair are covered in vomit.
Verb: Matter-of-factly, “I throwed up on mine face, Mom.”
No wonder he’s B&B’s current favorite. I. Could. Eat. Him. When he isn’t covered in puke.
Me: Grabbing towels, “Oh, sweetheart, you did. I’m so sorry! My poor boy, let’s get you cleaned up. Waldorf, please start the bath for the Verb.”
On the top bunk, the Interrogator is clearing his throat every 4 seconds, occasionally mixing it up with the insertion of a dramatic dry heave. I look at him, pointing my finger.
Me: “Don’t even think about it. Pull the covers over your head, and close your eyes. You won’t smell it then. Kenyan, please open a window in here. Scratch that, open both windows. Waldorf? I don’t hear the water running! I need your help, buddy! Group effort here!”
Kenyan: “Um, Mommy, I don’t mean to blame you, but I did hear the Verb telling you that his belly was too full. More than once. So, I think it may actually be your fault that he puked. All over his covers. And his rug. And his hair. And his face.”
Verb: “And mine ears. I throwed up in mine ears, Mom.”
Me: “Kenyan, thank you for your unsolicited opinion. And for opening the windows. And for alerting me to the Verb’s unfortunate predicament. March yourself up to your room please. Your night is over. Waldorf! Why don’t I hear the water running?!”
I step into the hallway to find Waldorf, wearing a mask of guilt. And playing with the cat.
Life with boys=constant redirection on my part. Constant. Every waking minute. Redirecting one or more of them. That includes the adult male who resides with us as well. Who happens not to be home during the current vomit crisis.
I fill the tub, bathe the Verb, strip the sheets, make the bed, lay towels on the new sheets, place the trashcan next to his bed, and struggle to keep the impatience out of my voice while the Interrogator hits me with question after question about vomit. Finally, I tuck the barely conscious Verb into bed, for the 2nd time that night.
Me: Whispering, “I’m sorry, sweet angel. I’m sorry I didn’t believe you about your belly. Goodnight to the little boy who did not cry wolf.”
One would think that I had learned my lesson.
Of course I hadn’t….
So, recently, my Interrogator took a tumble on the playground. A little harder than usual. Typically, he can brush it off and get right back up there. But there were screams, tears, and a refusal to continue play after this fall.
Eh, the Verb’s been waking him up earlier than usual. I bet he’s tired. That’s why he’s crying. And, look, already he’s calming down.
That evening, I tell B&B that the Interrogator fell. And that he is favoring his right arm.
B&B: “Are you giving him attention? He probably likes the attention. I’m sure he’s OK.”
Me: “I don’t disagree with you. Sometimes an injury is the only way to get the floor in this house. But look at how he’s holding it. I think he may be hurt.”
B&B: “Come here, Interrogator. Let Daddy take a look at you.”
Interrogator: “My arm hurts, Dad.”
B&B: “Let’s get this shirt off and have a look.”
With a wince, a gasp, and a sharp intake of breath, we maneuver the Interrogator’s shirt over his head. I shoot concerned eyes at B&B. He mouths the word, “drama”.
Boys #2 and 3 tend to be more dramatic than the average male.
B&B: “Let your arms go limp like a puppet’s arms. I am going to lift them up. You let them drop when I let go. OK?”
The Interrogator glazes over. This is not uncommon. B&B proceeds gently to lift the Interrogator’s arms up. Just below shoulder height. He lets go of both arms, which remain, where he left them, exactly below shoulder height.
Interrogator: Dropping his arms to his sides, “Oh. See? I did it, Dad. My arm hurts, Dad.”
B&B: “No, no, no. Let’s try this again. I want your arms to be like Kermit the Frog’s arms. OK? You be Kermit, and I will work your arms. When I let them go, they should drop.”
I watch a repeat performance of what I’d just witnessed 30 seconds ago. The Interrogator doesn’t understand the concept.
Or he doesn’t trust B&B. This could also be the case.
Now, B&B is a bright guy. Sometimes with brilliance comes impatience. He is working very hard to keep the impatience out of his tone while speaking to the potentially wounded Interrogator. I know he’s working hard, because he increases the volume of his voice. Exponentially.
B&B: “NOW, INTERROGATOR, LISTEN TO ME VERY CLEARLY. I AM GOING TO RAISE YOUR ARMS UP. YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE LIMP ARMS. UNDERSTAND? LIMP. ARMS. WHEN I LET THEM GO, THEY SHOULD FALL TO YOUR SIDES.”
The Interrogator blinks excessively in what I gather is an attempt to reduce the volume of his father’s booming voice. I try it too. Because B&B is essentially screaming in an effort to appear patient.
A large bear enters the room. It is almost my height. I recognize it as the birthday present we gave to the Kenyan last year. The Kenyan peers around from behind the bear. He is waving the arm of the enormous bear.
Kenyan: Waving furiously, “Interrogator, watch how I make his arm move! Let Daddy move your arm like this!”
The Verb enters the room, sees the Interrogator shirtless, and immediately removes his own shirt. He leaves the room for an instant, returning with a smaller stuffed bear. He begins waving his bear’s arm at the Kenyan’s bear.
Me: “B&B, do you think this is really effective? What are you hoping to achieve?”
B&B delivers the death stare.
Waldorf walks in the back door. He has been outside playing.
Waldorf: “Why don’t the Interrogator and the Verb have their shirts on? It’s freezing. And why is Daddy yelling? I can hear him all the way outside. What’s with all of the bears? ”
B&B: “Waldorf. Come here. I need you to demonstrate something for me. Let your arms go loose like a puppet’s arms. I am going to lift them up, then let them go. When I let them go, they should fall on their own down to your sides. Ready?”
Waldorf nods. B&B raises his arms up slowly. At shoulder height, B&B releases Waldorf’s arms. Which remain at shoulder height.
Me: “I rest my case. Come on, Interrogator, let’s get your pj’s on.”
B&B is miffed. I watch him raise Waldorf’s arms up to shoulder height again. He will keep Waldorf there for the next hour until he gets it right.
Interrogator: “Mom, my arm hurts, Mom.”
Me: “I know, sweetheart. I gave you some medicine, and I bet you’ll feel much better by tomorrow morning.”
Interrogator: “OK, Mom. I love you, Mom.”
Me: “I love you too, sweet boy.”
The Interrogator favors his arm the entire next day, which he spends in school.
No fever, no vomiting, why keep him home? I e-mailed his teacher. The fact that he had a substitute that day is irrelevant. He told the sub about his arm. Numerous times. If there is one thing I know, it is this.
Two days later, when he is still holding it funny, I know it was time to have it looked at.
Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn’t have let him jump on the trampoline last night. That probably didn’t help much.
So, we hit the doctor. The diagnosis? Broken clavicle. Angulated fracture to be exact. I don’t know what that means. Except that it’s worse than B&B’s break was when he sledded into that twig last year.
So, maybe my kids aren’t big, fat liars.
Or, maybe I’m just a lousy Mom who dismisses her kids’ complaints too quickly.
But, I’ve only gotten it wrong with two of my kids. Don’t forget, I have two more kids. Which means I get it right 50% of the time.
Just like Mr. Dreamy predicted.