Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's been a trying weekend for little brothers. Yesterday an exasperated Daniel asked me, "Why did Edward have to get born first?" "Well," I replied, "That's kind of just the way it happened."

"Well, whoever made Edward get born first," he said, "I don't like that 'born-er' anymore!"

This morning, while visiting a local church for its pancake breakfast, Edward elicited the usual, "Look at that beautiful red hair" comments from the senior set. When one varied the script and asked, "Where'd you get that red hair," Daniel quickly replied with a huff, "He's had it for a LONG time!"

Given how the world revolves around him, it's tough to imagine any sort of attention deprivation, but apparently he feels the need for a bit more personal focus. Luckily, today was the day for his school's annual fall festival so we all went to enjoy food, games, and a peek at Daniel's world. Now we're in a bit of a state though because the party was from 2-4 p.m. so we've had zero downtime for the whole day. Headed for early bedtime!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On Monday I had a late-afternoon meeting at work, so John picked up the kids from school. (School day is 8:30 am. to 3 p.m. and my usual work day is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) Later in the evening, he marveled, "Can you believe we didn't get home until 4 o'clock?!" Well, yes. Yes, I can. I've learned that kids' short legs have a dual impact on their walking speed. 1. Shorter stride means it takes more steps to cover the same distance as an adult; and 2. Short legs leave you much closer to the ground where there is no end of items in need of closer inspection. Acorns, crab apples, leaves, sticks, worms (wiggling or dried out), rocks, sidewalk cracks, etc.

So even though Edward's school is four blocks away and Daniel's is only another two blocks from there, the walk home is never expeditious and rarely direct. Sometimes we stop to play on the playground at one or both schools. Sometimes we stop for an impromptu picnic of whatever is left in their lunch bags. Sometimes we stop to pick up items of interest to add to the collection of pine cones, acorns, sticks, bark strips, et. al. on our front porch. Sometimes we stop to have meltdowns about brothers who won't let us be first.

Thus, we rarely make any plans for the after-school/before-dinner hours. With nowhere to go and beautiful fall afternoons that beckon us outside, we're wide open for bike riding, frisbee throwing or even the latest obsession, front porch pulley.
What? You mean your kids don't use their jump ropes to string your lawn chairs up to your porch ceiling?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We had a battle of the wills tonight at the Kenyon household, and I believe the readers of this blog are the ultimate winners.

When Mary asked the boys if they wanted baths or showers tonight, Daniel declared that he would be taking neither. He had been contrary all day. Tired of it, I offered a third option that involved him in our backyard and me with a bucket filled from the hose. I had hoped it would convince him that a warm shower sounded pretty nice; instead, he thought the backyard bucket wash sounded perfect.

As the evening drew to a close, I thought he had forgotten. But when he got undressed and went into the bathroom where Mary waited to give him a shower, he said, "I am not taking a shower, so you can turn that water off right now!"

My bluff called, I grabbed some soap and a towel, and followed my naked son down the stairs and out onto our screen porch. He stood on our (secluded) patio and waited while I filled the bucket. I let him feel the water coming from the hose, and while he agreed that it felt cold, he said he still wanted a bucket wash. Edward tried to warn him as well, but he would not be denied.

I poured a little on his head, and he giggled. I poured more and really soaked his head, then asked if he was done. Nope. So, I poured enough that it cascaded down his back. He let out a "whoah!" and shivered a bit (keep in mind that it was about 80 degrees at this point). I told him he needed to look up so I could pour water on his front to get the rest of him wet, but he would not do so. Finally, Mary asked if he was ready to go in and take a warm shower. "Yeah," he said, padding into the house wrapped in a warm towel.

He certainly held out longer than I expected, just another sign that we have a very strong-willed (and tough) little guy on our hands. The next few years should be very interesting.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The boys have been asking to go camping for a long while. I have been camping a lot – first with my folks when I was a kid, later in Boy Scouts and more recently with a handful of high school friends on annual canoe trips – so I have equipment and a general fondness for it. Mary, not so much, so any camping experience would involve me and the boys.

With the onset of cooler weather (and earlier darkness), I thought it might be a good time for a backyard campout. I located my tent and our sleeping bags and then, while Mary set the mood by helping them to make s’mores over the grill after we cooked some burgers for dinner, I got out my tent without comment and began setting it up.

“What is that, Dad?” Edward asked. I told him it was my old tent that I had found while cleaning the basement, and decided to set it up to air it out. He and Daniel were wide-eyed. I heard them ask Mary if they could sleep out in it. I feigned reluctance. “I don’t know. That’s a big thing to do…” I finally let them convince me and we began planning our campout.

Because it was only 7 p.m. and still very light out at this point, we headed back inside. They put on sleepers and then we watched some DVDs for the next hour or so to let them calm down (ha!) and let it get dark out. About 8:15, we headed out. We read a few books by the light of our battery-powered lantern (exciting in and of itself), then turned out the light to sleep.

Trip back inside #1: I forgot about Ed’s glasses, so I took them inside for safe keeping.
Trip back inside #2: Daniel had to go to the bathroom.
Trip back inside #3: They wanted their “guys:” stuffed animals they sleep with.

Safely back inside by 8:45, we then hunkered down for an hour of stories, songs and goofiness. This is where an actual campsite with a fire would have come in handy. Instead, we were shoulder-to-shoulder in my pup tent, too hot thanks to very well-insulated sleeping bags (and their sleepers) and completely wired with excitement. They finally calmed down shortly before 10 after I told them they had 5 more minutes to settle down before we’d go back inside.

Once they calmed down for good, they fell asleep instantly. Nothing woke them: the neighbor kid who decided to start practicing drums at 10 p.m., the same kid who gave that up after 5 minutes (short-lived thanks) before starting to play basketball outside for another 15, the concert wafting through the air from Regina High School a mile or so away.

They each work up a couple of times because of cold or because a brother’s leg was on them or simply because they didn’t remember that they had fallen asleep in a tent.

As the night progressed – along with the tension of the knot in my back – I checked my phone to see the time. 4:20. 5:40… at this point I got through by telling myself we’d go to the new donut shop in our neighborhood when we got up, then wondered how early they opened.

“Dad!” I awoke to a hint of light coming through the walls of the tent. I turned over to see Edward wide-eyed next to me. “Look! It’s morning!”

After willing morning to come for the past few hours, I now was in no hurry for it to arrive. I told Edward that the first hint of morning light didn’t mean we had to get up just yet, but a tickle fight between brothers quickly put an end to such foolish thoughts. So, at 6:34 a.m., the brave adventurers emerged from the tent to proudly stride across the backyard in their footie sleepers to head inside the house.

“Dad, if you could do it, we would do that every night,” Edward said as we walked inside.

I was thankful for that qualifier, knowing he knew this was a rare treat. Once inside, they were amped and wanted to play. The first thing they requested? The indoor tent that has been in storage in the basement for months. It seems they hadn’t quite had their fill.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

I know it's common for kids to have imaginary friends. But what should I think about Daniel's ever-evolving story about his pretend playdate with our crossing guard?

In the first week of school, we asked what the kids call him so they could call "Hi, Mr. Smith" or whatever as we walked past. Both of our kids, but especially Edward, are really into names. He seemed surprised and in fact at first said, "Well, nothing!" when asked what the kids call him. Then he regrouped and told the kids to call him Ben. Then he showed them his name tag and explained that he worked for the police department, even though he's not an officer. They liked that.

The next morning, after he let us cross the street, Daniel started telling me a long, detailed story about "One time? When I was at Ben's house for pretend?" He told me about the toys they played with (many trucks), the snack Ben made (eight different kinds of juice with crackers) and Ben's backyard (big for running.) I found it all very entertaining and kept pumping him for details. Eventually I went too far because he trotted out his new standby "I won't tell you any more. I will tell you tomorrow morning." (This is frequently his response when we ask him about school.)

I didn't bring it up again, but the next morning after Ben let us cross, Daniel started telling me a new installment. Every few days he thinks of something new to add, sometimes when we've just seen Ben, but sometimes out of the blue.

In the meantime, Ben is a very friendly, conscientious crossing guard who never fails to greet the boys with a cheerful, "Hi Edward! Hi Daniel." He admired Daniel's painting on Tuesday and Edward's cicada on Friday. This is the cicada Edward picked up at his school, carried to Daniel's school, showed to Daniel's friends and then carried all the way home, despite the fact that he realized about a block after he picked it up that it was a stink bomb. Or maybe because of the stink. When we got to Daniel, Edward held it out and said, "Here Daniel, smell my cicada." Daniel was quite revolted--nearly to tears, "Edward! Why did you make me smell that. It's P-U stink!"

I'll close this post with another Daniel gem. Yesterday I invited him to the basement to help me with the laundry (he considers this a treat, not a chore) but he informed me, "Dad and I already took stuff out of the 'wetter' and put it in the dryer."