Midsummer Efforts to Parent My Particular Children Without Making Them Cry and/or Scream at Me

Hello! What have you all been up to?

Hello! What have you all been up to? I’ve just been hanging out here, in my tank.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I made a point to take my kids to every fun thing that existed in Maryland? And how it made at least one kid cry every time? Well, July started, Jack started his month-long stint at Camp Awesome and time stopped moving. The crying didn’t stop, however.

It’s a lot harder to go do fun-slash-traumatic things when one of your people can’t go with you. Still, however, you don’t want to just sit home and play video games. Or you might want to, but your mean, mean mom won’t let you.

So, what is there to do?

Well. Sam found this chicken nugget that looks like a Hershey Kiss and made me take a photo of it.

It was the highlight of our day.

Honestly, it was the highlight of our day.

Hmmmm. What else? Oh, I signed Sam up for chess camp this week. It was supposed to start Monday. He’s been asking how long until chess camp since school let out. We showed up to find out that it had been canceled and no one had told us. So, that was great. Crying may or may not have occurred in the parking lot.

I came thiiiis close to having to play a game of consolation chess with him.

Ooooh! We did have the Fourth of July (just like everyone else), which at least meant that Alex was home for the day and we had an evening activity to keep us busy. Alex took the opportunity to bust out his new power washer to super clean our deck—or half of it at least. He also cleaned some other stuff:

The grill...his feet...the weird metal monkey who lives on our deck

The grill…his feet…the weird metal monkey who lives on our deck

...Quinn's ass.

…Quinn’s ass.

I consider the Fourth to be a little bit of a personal victory. You know, because of the glow sticks. I found three packs of them that we’d never used, because you have to remember to pull them out at the right time—early enough in the evening that you get your full use out of them, but not too early in the day, when their glowiness is wasted. I remembered ours at 8:30—just in time to take them to evening fireworks.

They made us very popular with the young folk.

Occasionally I get it right.

Occasionally I get it right.

That’s right, people. We had a no-tears Fourth.

There may even have been a smile or two.

There may even have been a smile or two.

Let’s see. We’ve done a lot of playing of the board game Sorry. This has actually also been a no-tears activity, but it has still been full of tension and recriminations and Sam and Quinn angrily battling each other as I quietly march on to victory. That has happened at least twice this week alone. So far no fist fights at least.

What else? Well, we’re also battling over conflicting auditory needs. Our car is like a war zone these days because either Quinn wants to listen to a song that Jack hates or Jack is singing to a song that makes Quinn shriek or I try to listen to NPR, which makes everyone yell at me or—the very worst possible thing—that Progressive auto insurance ad where Flo sings comes on and everyone cries.

It’s too bad that we only get to spend two hours in the car every day, driving Jack back and forth to camp. I’ve only had to pull the car over to the side of the road to yell once though. That’s kind of a victory, right?

The gerbils have had quite a week. I got the boys this new horizontal wheel, which I thought would be great for them. It is unfortunate that they don’t know how to use it correctly.

They never use anything right. It is extremely frustrating.

They never use anything right. It is extremely frustrating.

They either sit in the middle of it and scratch at it or stand outside of it and nibble on the edges. Once or twice they accidentally made it spin, but they learned pretty quickly to avoid that. Those goddamn gerballs make me so mad.

I noticed something else this week too.

How do you think Mouse got SO FAT just eating gerbil pellets? Does he eat five or six a day? What the hell is going on here?

How do you think Mouse got SO FAT? He’s like a big ol’ fuzzy softball.

All he eats are lab blocks, which are the food for the well-bred gerbil. He must be eating A LOT of them.

In other animal-related news, we’ve been borrowing a dog this week. My friend from down the street was all, “I need to ask a favor. I’m taking care of this toy poodle and—” and I was all, “YES, I’LL TAKE HIM.”

(I’m lying. This actually happened over email, so I wasn’t able to rudely interrupt her, but if I’d been in a position to cut her off and steal the dog, I would have.)

We’ve had Charlie the Toy Poodle over twice this week for a couple hours and we’re going to take him tomorrow afternoon as well. This poor dog. I don’t think he’s used to this much attention. Sam and Quinn spent our first day with him arguing with each other about which one of them he loved more. (Answer: It’s a trick question; he loves me most because I harass him the least.)

It looked for a little while like he was going to like Sam the most.

But then Sam didn't share his crackers, so Charlie lost interest.

But then Sam didn’t share his crackers, so Charlie lost interest.

The next photo is really a much better interpretation of how Charlie seems to feel about Sam:

I don't know Charlie well enough to know if that is really panic on his face or just confusion about where he's going next, but he looked slightly concerned most of the time he was at our house.

I don’t know Charlie well enough to know if that is really panic on his face or just confusion about where he’s going next, but he looked slightly concerned most of the time he was at our house.

I also don't know Charlie well enough to know if he's allowed on the furniture, but we worked hard to corrupt him.

I also don’t know Charlie well enough to know if he’s allowed on the furniture, but he seemed pretty comfortable up there.

I’ve never spent a lot of time around small dogs, so I found it endlessly amusing to watch him trip over twigs in our back yard. It was less fun when he wiggled through our fence, but I caught him, so no harm no foul, right?

I am such a good petsitter.

Quinn is even better though. Here he is playing Nintendogs + Cats while he ignores the actual dog sitting next to him.

It's not the first time this has happened.

It’s not the first time this has happened.

Quinn is spending an hour a day seeing an occupational therapist for a couple of weeks this summer. They’re hoping to push him to his vestibular threshold to help him with his proprioceptive blah blah blah. This involves a lot of spinning. Evidently there is some sort of neurological response that the eyes of typical people have after spinning ten times.

Quinn has gone 600 times without that response.

He fucking loves going there. I take him to an amusement park and he screams at me, but send him to occupational therapy and he wants to go all day every day.

I had my own little sad news sandwiched in this week. I won’t be writing White Knuckle Parenting for the Patch anymore. I had a really fun time writing that column. I’ll definitely miss it. But you should definitely still get your news from them because my editor over there is a rockstar young journalist who is going places.

I think the thing that has been the best for Team Stimey, however, is the same thing that was the best for Team Stimey last year and the year before: the Intex pool that kills 13 square feet of our lawn every summer.

This photo may be blurry, but damn if it doesn't catch the joy that my kiddos have in this pool.

This photo may be blurry, but damn if it doesn’t catch the joy that my kiddos have in this pool.

That pool is probably the very best purchase ever made.

All in all, we’ve actually done pretty well this past couple of weeks. I wouldn’t say we’ve had a productive July, but it’s been pretty chill and, frankly, I think that is pretty much what July calls for.

Don’t you worry about any lack of tears though. I’m taking all three kids (by myself) to Wolf Trap on Saturday to see Video Games Live. Rain is probable. Tears are almost guaranteed. It is going to be a fucking nightmare. I have no idea why I was so struck with optimism the day I bought the tickets to this thing.

So, my midsummer efforts to parent my particular children without making them cry and/or scream at me? Partially successful. I figure that all we need is more non-rain pool time, a couple more petsitting gigs, and for me to stop having dumb ideas that force my kids to go places they don’t want to go.

Also spinning. Definitely more spinning.

16 thoughts on “Midsummer Efforts to Parent My Particular Children Without Making Them Cry and/or Scream at Me

  1. I *love* those 4th of July photos! That is totally awesome.
    Ummmm, about Mouse. Are you really, really really, REALLY sure that (a) Mouse is fat, and (b) you got the sexes right?
    (ducks and runs away from thrown items).

    • I know. If his giant testicles were not on display every time he stood up, I’d wonder too. Although I actually did have a nightmare a couple of days ago that more babies showed up in the boy tank.

    • That was my first thought, too !
      Including the part about ducking.
      So happy you said it first.

  2. You so totally rock with those little dudes.

    Sam will be glad to know that Joey is super into chess right now, and can beat me in four moves. We should definitely get them together.

    And Andy is into Minecraft. So you know we have a playdate in our future.

    For our ride to the speech therapist on Fridays, we’ve taken to Audiobooks. The current favorite is Henry Huggins or Henry and Ribsy. I’ve also forced them to listen to some of the Hobbit and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and am hoping to sneak A Wrinkle In Time into their heads. This is all we’ll have time for, because audio processing issues means I have to play them several times before the guys understand the basics of characters and plotline. However, it apparently beats reading.

    So… if you aren’t writing for White Knuckle, does that mean we get more Stimeyland?

    • Audiobooks. Hmmm. I wonder how my kids would feel about that. Maybe I’ll try that. Great idea.

  3. Love this entire post!

    The eye movements are called nystagmus. Matt had zero when we started and now has the appropriate amount. Vestibular systems can be rehabilitated. =)

    I also loved that you dog sit for neighbors. I think the dog looked happy, excited, and curious for what was coming next! (Note to self: must consider moving near Stimey so the kids will watch Murphy)

    45 days until school starts back up again. Enjoy summer as much as you can! Make plans for coffees, lunches, and other Mom pampering the first week they are back. =)

    • We figure that if the nystagmus doesn’t show up, then he can just be a fighter pilot or something.

      We would totally watch Murphy. My kids are super into borrowed animals.

  4. What a great post! It sounds like you’re having a really nice summer, and the smiles vouch for that.
    As you already know, I’m a big advocate for OT. Though in my case, it was mostly physical therapy – OT just stopped by to make sure the apartment was set up properly. [My awesome brother came over to move furniture, get everything off the top shelves, etc.]
    Aren’t occupational and physical therapists the nicest people you’ve ever met? I think it’s in their job description.
    And finally, I didn’t realize there still are board games. Our family loved Scrabble.
    Happy summer!

    • I think maybe OTs are such nice people because they get to play for a living. At least the ones who work with kids.

      Alex and I used to play Scrabble every night but then it got too competitive and a little bit ugly so we had to stop. :)

  5. I hope I can manage to get amazing photos of our gerballs when they eventually arrive. Yours are so great!
    Also, one advantage of having an atypical vestibular system (according to our eldest) is being able to enjoy Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris while everybody else turns green and queasy.

    • I take more photos of gerbils than I care to admit in order to get the few good ones.

  6. Audiobooks! Kids either love them or hate them. You could try playing The Great Gatsby and see if your boys have the same reaction to it as Andy Kaufman’s audiences did — one of outraged dismay.
    If they hate it, you could use it as a threat in case they misbehave in the car,i.e., “Stop kicking your brother or I’ll put The Great Gatsby on.”

    • I love it! “I will punish you by forcing you to experience art!” It’s a win-win.

  7. Oh, I promise you Charlie always looks confused. That dog, though loveable, ain’t the smartest.

    I think Quinn and I will just have to stick with the cats.

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