Thursday, February 28, 2013

Top 6 Stupidist Things I've Had to Say This Week

6. You want me to zip my sweatshirt before I close the door? Um, ok.

5: Put Daddy's circular saw back. Daddy's tools do not need to go anywhere.

4: Why is the mail in the dishwasher?

3. OF COURSE I've looked in his closet!

2. So you want me to go back out the door, close it, open it again, come in again, and close the door behind me? Um, ok.

1. The toilet brush does not belong in the desk drawer.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Snow Week part 3: questions about babies

I think most kids start asking where babies come from as preschoolers; we have not yet reached that point. Ryan's questions about babies are far more interesting.

During snow week, Ryan watched a cartoon that seemed to really get him thinking. On Jungle Junction, Ellyvan (a blue elephant who is a van, voiced by Billy West) accidentally touches a special bush that makes him shrink and shrink until he is in danger of "disappearing forever." Fortunately, the other characters find the antidote and Ellyvan is restored to his regular size.

This world is seriously trippy.

This prompted Ryan to ask, in his own tortured sentence structure that I won't even try to replicate, when you shrink do you turn back into a baby?

Stu and I were stunned. This was the first time Ryan had let us in on his thought process. 

We explained that real people don't shrink - that the cartoon world is just fantasy - and that kids just grow bigger until they're all grown up.

He seemed unconvinced, and perhaps in the interest of preparedness he wanted to know what babies can do and what they can not do. I said that babies are essentially boring: eat, sleep, mess up a diaper, cry, repeat.

Then, most astonishingly, he asked to see pictures of himself as a baby. I happily delayed bedtime and broke out a photo album. We noted how small he was, and how little hair he had, and his complete lack of teeth.

That made laundry day convenient while it lasted.
Sometimes Ryan will ask if he can "be a baby" - this seems to mean curling himself up in a blanket. I tried to get him to tell me if what he really was looking for was a reduction in big-kid responsibilities, but he's not ready to have that type of conversation.

Snow Week, part 2: OCD edition

Being cooped up inside for a while sometimes prompts people to develop new hobbies. Ryan's snow-week-inspired activities include a variety of obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Near as I can tell, Ryan's new house rules are as follows:

1) All doors must be closed at all times. Doorways that do not have doors in them are defective and a cause for screaming. Doors that are already closed must occasionally be opened and closed again to make sure they really are shut.

2) All toilets must be closed. Toilets may require multiple inspections and re-closings to make sure they are properly shut.

3) All holes must be sealed. A "hole" shall be defined as any space between two solid objects; notable example include the space between the toilet and the lid and the slats of the heating vents. "Sealing" shall be defined as blocking a hole from sight; methods may include closing a heating vent, draping a towel over the closed toilet, or blocking an open air vent with a box/chair/flammable toy.

4) Certain household objects should not be displayed openly and must be either hidden in random drawers or thrown down the basement stairs; items may be stashed in Ryan's closet but only if they did not originate in Ryan's room. Objectionable items include soap dispensers, hand towels, remote controls, reading glasses, outgoing mail, mops, coasters, phones, and anything normally kept on top of a desk. Toys, on the other hand, are acceptable on all household surfaces and floors.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Snow Week, part 1

We're wrapping up The Great Snow Week of 2013. Apparently my town was ill-prepared for the 38 inches of snow Nemo dumped on us, so schools have been closed for over a week. To compensate for all these snow days, the school district has canceled February break and half of spring break.

Ryan and I have spent a solid week alone together; the first half of that week we were snowed in, unable to leave our property. Seriously, not only did it take three days for a snow plow to hit our street, but when Ryan tried going out to play in our backyard, his boots got stuck in the snow and we had to carry him inside barefoot and then dig for over half an hour to find them.

I have a week's worth of stories piled up in my head.

This is the view of my deck, before we actually tried going out that door.

The first thing you need to know is that Ryan is highly social in his own way. He may not know what to do with other kids, but he desperately wants to be near them.

Ryan didn't express interest in sledding until a full week after the initial snow fall; I think the whole losing-his-boots affair turned him off the idea of playing in 3-foot-deep snow. I had offered to take him sledding several times, but he shut himself in the boiler room with some old blocks (more on that another day).

On Friday morning I finally got him to agree to go to the big sledding hill behind the local elementary school. He was appropriately enthusiastic the whole ride there.

And then we arrived. And we were the only ones there.

Ryan sobbed. "Aaagh, where is everybody? Where are all the friends?" He pressed his face against the brick wall of the school and cried like he had just lost his puppy. Mercifully, while I was failing to convince Ryan that we could still go sledding while we waited for other folks to show up, a family of four kids arrived with their well-prepared father (dad brought a freaking folding chair...). Ryan sighed with relief and happily galloped off to get his sled.

It was quite a while before Ryan attempted any sort of interaction with the other kids. He seemed perfectly content to play in their presence.

At some point he decided he wanted to challenge everyone else to a race. I explained to him that he would have to ask someone to race, and then would have to wait for a response, and then would have to start at the same time as the other racer. The other kids clearly had no idea what to make of Ryan and had no interest in figuring him out. They weren't mean, they just had their own activities going on and didn't understand why Ryan didn't recognize that.

But no matter, Ryan attempted to engage the other sledders. He was under the impression that he had raced another boy, even though the other kid was paying zero attention to him. He had a wonderful time spending way too much time lying at the bottom of the hill and getting in everyone's way, and then decided it was time to go home for hot chocolate.

On Saturday afternoon, Ryan asked if we could go sledding again. The three of us got to the sledding hill around 3pm, and much to Ryan's dismay, we were alone. Again, Ryan cried, devastated that "everyone" was not there, begging us to "find everybody" and asking when "everybody" would be there. For a while, we convinced him that we could have fun sledding on our own, just the three of us, but soon we just weren't enough for him. Stu and I suggested we go grocery shopping and then come back and see if there were any more people on the hill. Ryan agreed to this plan.

By a stroke of brilliant luck, there was one family of three kids sledding when we returned from the supermarket. Ryan was as social as I've ever seen him, sledding WITH the other children, even if they showed no interest in his presence. He talked to them the whole time, undeterred by their consistent lack of response. He tried to be the ring leader, despite being the youngest child around. He was blissfully happy, and we had to drag him away as the sun was setting.

He did everything he could to make friends, and he seemed truly happy with his results. It may be a blessing that Ryan doesn't understand that his advances were not being reciprocated.

At all.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Magic of Editing

I try to stay positive. I really do. But it seems that for every brilliant moment, there's a Saturday. For every promising attempt at conversation, there are two days of constant screaming and whining. Every time I start feeling confident and am foolish enough to admit to it out loud, some senseless crap comes and smacks me in the head.

We have just come out of one of the toughest weekends I can remember. Meltdown after meltdown. That torturous shrieking sound that would make men confess to war crimes just to make it stop.

I don't know what's been bothering my baby lately, but it seems to have something to do with wanting to move back to our old apartment and/or with fear of our solar system. Between screaming jags, Ryan has revealed tantalizing clues about his distress.

Through the wonder of editing, I will now bring you the entirety of the positive part of the last few days without subjecting you to the Gitmo tactics:

On Wednesday, out of the blue, Ryan started begging, "Can I go back to the old house? Can I live in my old room in Mount Verminon?" [for anyone who's been to Mount Vernon, NY, you know that's not inappropriate]

I asked him, "Why, what's wrong with your room?"

As expected, no response to the open question, I refined it: "Is your room nice or yucky?"

"It is yucky."

"What's yucky about it?"

As expected, no answer.

* * *

On Friday, Ryan was playing happily in his room when he turned to me and asked, "Can I have scissors?"

What do you want scissors for?

The shockingly clear answer: "I got to cut down the planets on my ceiling."

Ryan's favorite gift this past Christmas was a set of glow-in-the-dark planets and stars that he had excitedly instructed us to hang all over his bedroom. At his request, I removed the planets and stars. He seemed content, perhaps even relieved.

* * *

That night at bedtime, Ryan stared out his window and calmly cried, "Go away, Night! Go away, creepy Night!" The window shade has been stuck on a diagonal, too broken to fully open or close. I cut the strings on the broken shade so we could pull it all the way down and cover the dark. Ryan smiled happily.

I asked him, "Is your room nice or yucky?"

And he answered, "It is not yucky anymore because the stars are in the sky with the moon but I can't see them."

Normally, this is where I would frame this conversation with some sort of silver-lining spin, but there was an awful lot of gray cloud this weekend, so I'm just going to go back to rocking in the corner to relieve my shell shock.