May 2008 Archives

Every summer before my kids' birthdays I perform what I call "the culling of the toys".  When the toy population becomes so unmanageable that the kids no longer have places to store all their toys and they no longer know what all they own, it is time to strategically depopulate the toy collection.

Now, call me cruel or call me crazy, but I would never, ever consider perform this maneuver in front of my children.  If you're a parent, you know the reason:

"Why are you getting rid of our toys?"
"I still play with that!"
"I don't want someone else to have this.  It was mine from when I was a baby!"

So this week, I performed the procedure while the children were at daycare and rounded up the toys in two big trash bag with all the efficiency of a hired hitman.  The deed was done, and the next question was, "what do I do with the body?"

I called my kids' daycare and asked if they were interested in the toys as a donation.  What luck!  They were.  The problem was I couldn't do the drop off while they were in daycare.  I'd wait for a Saturday.  In the mean time I'd have to keep the kids out of the basement.

You've probably seen enough of this movie cliche: A guilty party carries out a bag (duffle bag, garbage bag, etc.) and deposits it into the trunk of a car.  He or she then proceeds to drive, rather nervously to the dumping point.  The catch is the body won't stay hidden or quiet...

On my trip to the daycare, my car has a trash back of toys in the trunk and some in the driver's seat.  I am feeling guilty as sin: I have just murdered two childhoods and am about to dump the evidence.

The problem is the evidence won't shut the heck up: toys are singing, laughing, giggling.  I should have taken all the batteries out.  Is it the toys or my guilty conscious making all that racket?  Darn it, why can't these toys just stay dead!

I arrive at the daycare.  On Saturdays things are much quieter.  I bring each load into the front room.  Then as I am about to leave, I turn to on of my son's preschool teachers and say, "Just don't let one to my kids where these toys came from or I'll be in big trouble."  (Yeah, don't rat me out...)

I drive home in the quiet of my car, slightly less rattled, feeling as though I have gotten away with murder another year in a row...

Karenna stayed over at her grandmother's house.  After I talked to my mom on the phone, I confronted her with something she said to my mom, Judy, whom she calls "Judoo"...

Me: Karenna, did you call Judoo old?
Karenna (trying to explain that she was paying her grandmother a compliment): Yeah, but I told her her feet don't look that old though.

My parents and I were asking Jude about his birthday party.

Judoo (what Jude calls my mother, Judy): What kind of party are you having, Jude?
Jude: Um, a Darth Vader party.
Me: And who is coming to your party?
Jude: Indiana (pronounced "Nindinana") Jones.
Me: I mean, who is coming from your preschool?
Jude: Indy.

When we left off with Ailments and Altoids, Part I, Jude was in meltdown mode for the following reasons:

  • He had bruises.
  • He could not get Spiderman band-aids for them per the band-aid rule.
  • For some reason, Karenna's singing about numbers aggravated his ailment.

So Jude continued on his tirade, and I realized I had but three options:

  1. Put up with it.
  2. Break the band aid rule and suffer the consequences (namely, give in to the older sibling, Karenna, for every speck of an injury she could find as well).
  3. Think of something else...

The Placebo

Me: I can't give you a band-aid, Jude because band-aids are for broken skin.  What you need right now is a placebo.
Jude (still in meltdown): I want a pwacebo!
Karenna (on cue): I have a scab on my ankle.  I need a placebo too.

I went into the kitchen looking for anything I could find that looked vaguely medicinal, and found a can of wintergreen Altoids.

Both would surely recognize the candies by their shape and taste, so I cut one in half and grabbed two cups of water.  I told them they needed to drink lots of water with their placebos so they had to take a drink immediately after I put them in their mouths.  They did.

Karenna: Mine's not working yet.
Me: It takes about thirty minutes to start working. (By then she'll be at daycare and hopefully distracted, or...)  When you get to daycare, why don't you ask your teachers about placebos? (Oh, I am soooo terrible! Am I due for some righteous indignation when she gets home or what?!?)
Jude: Now my eye hurts.
Me: Placebos aren't without side effects.  Read the fine print, little buddy.  You can't have everything!

Jude wants more band-aids this time for a bruise, which goes against our rule.  He throws a fit and Karenna and I try to distract him:

Me: Tell me about your birthday party?
Karenna: Jude, how old are you?
Jude: No! I don't want to talk about it; my bruise hurts!
Karenna: Are you three yet?
Jude: Don't talk about me! It hurts my bruise!
Me: Okay, Karenna.  We should just stop.
Karenna (teasing him now by singing): 1, 2, 3... 1, 2, 3...

(Apparently Jude has some mysterious ailment that manifests itself in bruising and is aggravated by numbers.)

See Ailments and Altoids, Part II for the rest of this story...

Me: Karenna, only Ronald Reagan ever thought ketchup counts as a vegetable.  Eat your broccoli now!

Karenna had a cousin stay over last night.  Both little girls had dinner on the picnic table and then skipped out into the yard to enjoy some peaceful play without being terrorized without their brothers.  (Jude had been picked up for a playdate with another one of their cousins.)

They played in the sandbox, squealed at the ants and spider they found in it, but continued playing anyway.  I sat on the porch and talked to my husband as I watched them play.

After awhile, I noticed the girls where headed my way with old empty bubbles containers, carrying them proudly, as if they made something special out of them.  "Note to self," I thought, "Be very proud and excited about whatever they've made."

The cousin came first, a petite girl with big brown eyes and a tiny little voice.  My own blue-eyed, blonde daughter following, both too adorable for words.

"Nikki," the little voice said, "look what I made.  It has sand and some dirt and grass and rocks and ants and a lid. They'll die now!"

"Yeah!" My own little daughter chimed in with a devilish grin.

Jude (watching Raiders of the Lost Ark):  Hey, Indy talks like Don Wello (how he says Han Solo)!
Karenna (patting me on the back and reassuring me): Mommy, you're the best yeller!

My kids love band-aids.  They will beg and plead and find any minor scratch or slight discoloration or red marker on their skin on which to build their sorry little arguments.

So when Karenna was little I came up with this litmus test for band-aid use:

You must produce blood on a tissue in order to get a band-aid.

This rule effectively helps my little buddies exclude the following:

  • already-healed wounds,
  • bruises,
  • freckles,
  • marker, etc.
However, they do ask for quite a few tissues of late.  Anyone have a rule for tissue use?

Boy, did I take for granted the period when Karenna had no concept of the passage time.

Karenna: I never get to have stay-overs anymore.
Me: You just had your cousin stay over before the circus.
Karenna: Hello!  That was April--a month ago!

Walk into our bathroom these days and you will find all the toothpaste high upon the windowsill, all because of the day Chris walks by Jude in the bathroom...

Jude: Hi, Daddy. I drinked your toothpaste.

I put Jude to bed tonight.  I am amazed at how our conversations evolve.

Jude: Mommy, who made my blanket?
Me: Judoo did it.  (He knows my mother--"Judoo"--made this, but he likes like to quiz me.)
Jude: My Judoo blanket has green and blue and yellow.  Karenna's has pink and yellow and blue.
Me: Did you thank Judoo for making it.
Jude: No, but I will thank her the next time I see her.

He then hums "Duel of the Fates" (Star Wars, Episode I).  The song starts to trail off so I assume he falling asleep, but then he turns abruptly to say this...

Jude: We are not supposed to have guns in school.
Me: No.  I don't like guns either.
Jude: "Don Wello" has a gun.
Me: Who?  (I think for awhile.) Oh... Han Solo.  Well, he has a blaster.  It looks like a gun, but it's a blaster.

We then went through a list of his favorite characters who do not have guns:

  • Harry Potter has a wand. (Jude pointed out that he also has a book.)
  • Doctor Who has a sonic screwdriver.  (And he always gives everyone a chance.)
  • Matlida uses telekinesis.  (And brains.)
  • Anakin Skywalker has a lightsaber. (Jude's pick; not mine.)
  • Spiderman uses webs.
It all starts with sibling fighting in the back of the car after snow cones at the Blair County Arts Festival:

Karenna: Jude you're just a lobbyist.
Jude: I am not a lobbyist.
Me: Why are you calling Jude a lobbyist?
Karenna: What is a lobbyist? (Remember that she requests NPR every morning.)
Me: Someone who takes a lot of money from a group of people and then bugs your congress people to do what they want instead of what you voted for them to do.
Daddy: Well Jude did take a lot of money in snow cones and now he's bugging Karenna...

I've blogged before about how Chris explained to Karenna that commercials, cartoon characters, and product placement grocery stores are designed to make junk food more appealing to kids.

Well, today we were at my sister-in-law's bridal shower.  Of course when there are aunts around to spoil her (see Aunt Cathie), Karenna will run off and seek their guardianship.

Today was no different.  She went to the guest of honor, Aunt Steffie.  When I stopped to check on her, I noticed the plate she conned Aunt Steffie into getting her: crackers, cheesies, chips, and buried somewhere was an applie slice and another piece of fruit.  I then made sure that her plate included the main course and veggies as well.

When it was time for Steffie to open her gifts, Karenna started lurking by the junk food again.  While I don't mind a snack or two, especially on special occasions, Karenna had her fill.

"Karenna, if you're still hungry why don't you have fruit?" I suggested.  "Don't you remember Daddy telling you how bad those chips and things are for you?"

"Yes," she said, "but they tricked me."

Jude, to himself, while going potty (approximately 1 hour after changing himself into pajamas): Oh man! I forgot my underpants!
  1. The Sound of Children Singing in the Back of the Car
  2. The Sound of Children Laughing
  3. Infants Curling Up in a Turtle-like Position on My Chest to Sleep
  4. The Smell of Kids' Heads (Older Kids' Heads After a Bath or Babies' Heads Anytime)
  5. Kids' Conversations with Each Other
  6. Kids in Feet Pajamas
  7. Sharing Something from My Childhood with My Kids
Me: So what are we going to blog today, buddy?
Jude: Um, Spiderman!
Me: What about Spiderman?
Jude: Just press number 2.
Me: Okay... Here goes: 2
Jude: Okay, Now turn on the Spiderman.
Me: I'm typing Spiderman see: S-P-I-D-E-R-M-A-N.  See? Look.
Jude: No, that not Spiderman.  Just leave it alone.
Me: I don't think you understand how a blog works, Jude.  See a blog is like a story.  You and I are writing a story right now.  What happens next? Jude?
Jude: Press number 2.
Me: Ugh! I give up!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that:

  1. We don't have cable.
  2. Karenna is almost five and is a tiny social activist. (I'm sure this comes from her father and I.)

Take for example, her interest in Hannah Montana:
Karenna: Mommy, why don't you like Hannah Montana?
Me (After first trying to dismiss the nagging go by just saying I'm not a fan of Country music...):  Because I don't like the stereotypical characters.
Karenna: What's a stereotype?
Me: Well, uh. It's a wrong idea someone has about all types of people.  Like some people think all women are bad drivers even though that's not true.  Or somebody might think that all people with blonde hair aren't smart, but you know that's not true, because you're blonde and you are very, very smart...
Karenna (Getting very indignant!): Daddy! Mommy told me there's stereotypes and they think blondes aren't smart, but that's not true; I'm very smart; that's very mean!  And they said Mommy's a bad driver; that's not nice! Stereotypes are wrong!

Next came a trip to the grocery store where Jude tried to sneak Spiderman macaroni & cheese into the cart:
Karenna: Why do people buy food if it's not good for them?
Daddy: Because they don't always know it's not good for them.  The food people spend a lot of money to put commercials on TV to get people to buy their food or to put Spiderman on the food so that your brother will make Mommy & Daddy buy it.  Or to make the store put it on the low shelves so that Jude can see it and grab it himself  to put it in our cart.
Karenna: Why do they want my brother to eat bad food?  That's wrong to hurt my brother!

Finally, this morning Karenna told me about a run-in with her school's girl bully:
Karenna: ***** called me a boy yesterday.
Me: Why did she do that?
Karenna: Because I had black on.  She said that's a boy color.
Me: That's a silly reason.  There are no boy colors or girl colors.  What did you do?
Karenna: I know.  I told her she watches too much television.

Jude's got a new best buddy.

Pop-Pop got Karenna a stuffed animal before he was born, "Fat Cat", but Jude has claimed him for himself.  Jude takes him to bed and hides him in covers.  Fat Cat rides to preschool and waits for him in the car until he gets picked up every day.

One morning Fat Cat even got out of bed with Jude and followed him to the potty.  Jude made sure Fat Cat was turned to watch him go potty.

Chris asked, "Is Fat Cat your buddy?"

Jude answered, "Yes, I like him very much all the time."

One of Karenna's teachers stopped me when I picked her up from Pre-K yesterday.  She wanted to let me know before heard it secondhand that another little girl pushed Karenna and cursed at her.  She wanted to let me know that me the they talked to the girl's parents about it already.

"Where do these little girls learn these words?" she asked.

"Maybe from older siblings," I wondered, thinking my well-behaved child is so superior.  Karenna never uses these words.  (Though, come to think of it she has been asking lately how old she has to be before she is allowed to swear.  Well, I won't mention that...)

Karenna walked over to us and asked her teacher, "Are you telling my mommy what that girl said to me?"

"Yes," the teacher said.

"It was the word you said," she informed us. (Okay, so maybe once or twice I may have slipped one out in frustration and apologized for it. Oops.)

"Let's get your things Karenna."  (I ignored Karenna.  I hurried up and hoped the teacher didn't hear that.)

Karenna will be five soon; it's hard to believe.  Every now and then I look at her and realize she no longer looks like a baby, or a toddler; she's a little girl.

"Why do you want to be five?" I keep asking her.  "Why don't you be four forever?  Don't you want to stay my baby?"

Two nights ago, this is what she said in reply:

"Mommy, you always say that.  When I'm fifteen will you ask me why I want to be sixteen?  Did you ask me why I wanted to be four when I was three?"

Smart girl.  I can't keep her from growing up and getting smarter.  But I can enjoy as many of these little moments as I can.  And save them here.

The kids have finally reached that point in siblinghood where we have to draw that line in the sand, or, more literally, an imaginary line in the car which creates an invisible forcefield keeping one kid from entering the personal space of the other.

Yesterday, Karenna, the older of the two, must have figured out a way to deactivate our parenting forcefield, and was able to deploy some sort of stealth attach against her brother.

Jude was in red alert mode.  He was ready to bring out the big guns...

"Karenna Michelle Kauffman (note the use of the middle name, an ancient parenting weapon he's heard used on both of them in the past), I'm very mad at you!  I'm going to get the mean voice out and the 'why-why-why' words!"

(Note: He wasn't there for The-Angry-Lady-Who-Replaced-Your-Mommy, or I'm sure an Angry-Boy would have come out too.)

Yesterday the kids got me very upset.  Jude was in tantrum mode; Karenna was in nagging mode (about clothes).

"Mom?" Karenna asked. "Mom?"

I didn't answer.


"I'm not Mom," I answered. "I'm the angry lady who replaced your Mommy."

She thought for a minute, and then responded back, cleverly, "Hey, Angry-Lady-Who-Replaced-Mommy!  Why are you wearing my mom's clothes?  She's going to be mad at you."

"You shouldn't be wearing my mom's jewelry either.  Why don't you let me wear this outfit and I won't tell my mom if you won't?"

You may remember that Karenna adores her Aunt Cathie. You know the one who "borrows" the niece and nephews to play with them and then sends them away before she has to raise her voice?

She doesn't just want to make Aunt Cathie her guardian.  I think she wants to be her like Aunt Cathie too...

Me: Don't you ever want to be a Mommy?
Karenna: Well I don't want to be a Mommy because I would have to yell my voice out all the time.

After some thought...

Karenna: And what if I don't have a husband to cook me and my kids good dinners like Daddy does?
Me: Don't I cook too?

Anyone who has more than one child knows that the process for entering and exiting one's getting kids in and out of the house/car can be as complex as international travel:

Preparing to Travel

  • Have we packed extra clothes?
  • If the visit is near naptime, do we have pajamas?
  • Have we packed toys to distract them (for long restaurant meals, grocery store trips, etc.)?
  • Do we need snacks/treats?
  • Has everyone gone to the potty?

Going Through Security

  • Is anyone carrying an object (like an extendable lightsaber) that could be used as a weapon against the pilot or copilot?
  • Is anyone concealing something (used stickers, artwork, toys, jewelry, parents' possessions, etc.) in his/her pockets, shirt or jacket to smuggle it on board?  If so, commence patting down children...
  • Have the children been checked for appropriate attire (one of them—guess which-—likes to accessorize)?

Now Boarding

  • Are all passengers seated and buckled?
  • Are car seats and booster seats in an upright position?
  • Are windows and doors locked?

Return Trip/Kauffman Customs

  • Is anyone concealing something (insects, allergy-provoking vegetation, small animals, garbage, etc.) in his/her pockets, shirt or jacket to smuggle it back home?  If so, commence patting down children...
  • Have the children gone through a 10-day quarantine period to ensure they have not brought communicable illnesses into the domicile?  (Okay, so that one was just wishful thinking.)

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