Playing Tooth Fairy

Well, the triplets have reached that age.

No, not the age were we can send them off into the world to fend for themselves, tempting as that may be, that is not the age I am talking about.

The triplets have reached the age where they are loosing teeth. Dropping those little pearly whites like we have never brushed their teeth, taken them to the dentist and fed them sugar since birth.

Ok, maybe not dropping them that fast and so far only Jake and Quinn have lost teeth but I know more are coming. The dam is about to break and soon I may need mash up all their food since they won’t have any teeth left in their heads.

Every day one of them will tell me, “Mom, this tooth is loose or this tooth hurts.” I’m preparing myself to see a lot of toothless grins.

What does reaching this right of passage mean, besides the fact that the next time I blink my three babies will be asking for the keys to the car? Well, it means that Jeff and I get to play tooth fairy.

Childhood is grand for it’s innocence and the belief in magic. I’m all for keeping it that was as long as possible. It’s just that having to play tooth fairy or more honestly, remembering to play the tooth fairy is hard.

You would think that since it’s happening more and more often around this house it would get easier but no, it’s not.

I mean poor Quinn, the second tooth he lost the tooth fairy forgot to come for two nights in a row. How are she do that to him. Poor kid was crushed. And my mommy guilt was at an all time high so much so I begged Jeff to give me lashes with a wet noodle.

I don’t mean to forget and neither does Jeff but for some reason, slipping into their rooms and exchanging that tooth for a golden dollar is one of the most difficult things in the world. I think it would be easier to get Kim Kardashian’s stop being a reality TV star.

We’ve tried all kinds of ways to remember, setting alerts, writing notes, even asking the cat to remind us. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

boy with a lost tooth

This time it was Jake’s turn to loose a tooth. Actually, I pulled it out during our family movie night movie because I was kind of sick of seeing it dandle by a thread. It was his first loose tooth, the first one he lost and judging but the loose ones next to it, it won’t be long until another one can be yanked from his head.

As we tucked the kids in and said prayers, he put that tooth under his pillow and talked non-stop about how the tooth fairy would come. Jeff and I gave each other ‘the look’ and as soon as the kids were all in bed, Jeff retrieved a golden dollar from the hiding spot.

“What are you doing?” I ask as Jeff started up the stairs again.

“Going to make the exchange,” he said.

“Um… they just went to bed. We kinda have to wait until he’s asleep.” I said.

“Oh, yeah” Jeff answered as he walked back down. “Where should I put this so that we will remember to do it later?”

I stopped for a moment, that was the million dollar question.

“Just set it on the counter, then we’ll see it when we head to bed,” I said.

Jeff walked over to the counter and set the golden dollar down but then paused. “The only thing that setting his coin here will mean is that Jake will find it here and not under his pillow in the morning.”

I laughed, he had an excellent point.

“Do you have a better idea?” I asked.

He shrugged and I turned my attention to my phone that was beeping with some twitter love.

The night progressed as planned with Jeff and I settling in to watch a movie together which meant that soon all tooth fairy duties were forgotten.

We were mid movie when I needed a bathroom break.

“Pause it, please” I said as I jumped up and ran into our bedroom and to the bathroom.

I flipped the light on in the room and something on the bed made me stop. I walked over to investigate.

A baking pan?!

At first I was confused, why was there a baking pan on the bed? I almost gathered it up to put it away but then I saw the golden dollar and smiled. Jeff had placed the baking pan on the bed with the golden dollar in it so that he couldn’t get into bed without dealing with the pan and remembering to play tooth fairy.

Sometimes that husband of mine is completely brilliant.

I think I’ll keep him.

 

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Let’s Get You Home

I woke up that morning with a big smile on my face. I didn’t toss and turn and avoid getting up and I only hit snooze button once instead of the usual five times.

Today was gonna be a good day, today my baby was coming home.

It didn’t really hit me that he was gone until we had returned home from dropping him off. As we walked in the house and the triplets scattered, I instantly felt a pain in my heart. Someone was missing.

And that’s when gates opened and I crumbled into a mess of sobs.

My oldest son away from home at camp for one week.

He was so excited to go, couldn’t wait for the day when he could go to overnight camp. I was so proud of him. Seven days away from home, not knowing a soul at camp and not even blinking an eye when we all said good bye.

But as the week progressed, my need for him increased. I couldn’t help but worry… Was he eating enough? Was he sleeping? Was he wearing sunscreen? Was he drinking enough water? Were the kids being nice to him? Was he changing his underwear? Was he having fun? Was he missing me?

I can’t tell you how many times I wished that I could just call and check on him. Every day, I would excitedly check the mail for a letter, a quick note, a random art project of feathers, something that would connect me to him but nothing came.

I told myself that this was a good thing. He was too busy to miss home, miss the family, miss… me. That’s how it should be after all.

But that still stings.

When we arrived at camp, I was giddy. I couldn’t help but smile. We had about 20 minutes to wait until the end of camp program started and it took all my self control to not run through camp like a lunatic yelling and shouting his name. Being in the same location as him but not being near him was killing me.

I just wanted him.

We decided to walk to the seating area and suddenly there he was. He popped up in the window of the dining hall. He was surrounded by friends and all smiles.

boy at summer camp

The triplets ran to him and he acted cool. He nodded at me and his dad, said something about needing to eat his toast and then was gone from sight.

I sighed.

There he was. I had laid eyes on him. He was wearing pajamas and a straw sombrero, his face was smudged with jelly and dirty but he was in one piece. He looked happy.

It was then I released the breath I didn’t know I was holding.

As the campers walked into the seating area and took the stage, I was flooded with memories of my time at summer camp. The freedom to be a kid. No parents nagging, no real rules to follow, just good times. I felt goose bumps prickle my arms as the kids sang some of their camp songs and I knew this would be a time he would never forget.

I watched my son pick at his hat, toss his shoe in the air and do anything but sing the songs. I smiled to myself, being away for a week really didn’t change him. He was still the same kid.

The ache in my arms grew stronger. I wanted him. I needed him. It was long past time.

All the campers filed out and were supposed to head back to their cabins and that’s where families would be reunited but I couldn’t wait.

The sombrero made him easy to find and from the way he was trying to play is cool but also wondering around looking, I knew he wanted me too.

“Hayden!” I called.

He didn’t hear me.

“HAYDEN!” I called again, louder but still he didn’t hear me.

“Hey,” I said this time close enough to touch his arm.

He turned to face me and literally fell into my arms and that’s when the tears began to fall as he tried to press his little but big body into mine trying to erase all the distance between us.

At first I was worried he was hurt but then I knew… he just missed me.

I held him. I held him as we stood together in the middle of a crowd of people. I held him as tight as I could.

And he held me back.

Finally, I pulled him off of me to get a good look at him.

Before me was my oldest son who, even though was only gone a week, looked older… more mature, more independent. He was also dirty. Probably the dirtiest kid I had ever seen.

He wiped the tears from his face making the dirt smudges worse, he said to me, “Mom, I ran out of underwear so my weenie is just dangling in my shorts.”

A spry smile spread across his face and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Come on,” I said pulling him close and kissing his forehead, “let’s get you home.”

mom and summer camp boy

Six Year Old Sex Ed

Sex-Ed

“Mommy, what’s that circle thingy under my penis where the pee comes from?” Jake asked from the top of the stairs.

It was just after bath time. The kids were getting pj’s on and I was finishing cleaning up dinner. I set the dish down that I was washing, grabbed a towel and walked over to him,  “What?” I said, very confused.

“That circle thingy under my penis has all the lines on it, what is that?” he asked again, not really clearing things up any.

I just looked at him, for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what in the world he was talking about. Circle thing?

“Jake, that is your pee sack,” Quinn jumped in and clarified. “It holds all your pee.”

Finally the light bulb went off and I understood what he was talking about. Jake was asking about his scrotum.

Now, I kinda think that because I don’t have a penis, I shouldn’t have to teach the boys about theirs. I will talk vagina all day long with Claire but I am not the penis expert in the house. I wanted to call for Jeff to field this line of questioning. He has a penis he should answer the questions but I am a nurse for goodness sake, I can handle this. It is just anatomy.

“Boys,” I began, “that is not your ‘pee sack’ or where pee comes from, it is called your scrotum and it holds your testicles.”

They just looked at me and immediately both their hands went south and began to fondle.

“What’s testmacles?” Quinn asked.

Oh man. I totally opened that door. Now how was I supposed to explain what testicles were for without going giving a full sex ed lesson. I was walking a very fine line.

I decided being honest and scientific was the only way. Let the questions come, I am good at dancing around things and confusing them with science and big words if needed.

“You need your testicles because they make something that you will need to make a baby. Then you will need a mommy and a daddy to make a baby.” I said.

“How does that work?” Quinn asked, being ever curious about the way things work.

Oh shit. Deep breathes. I can do this.

But before I could figure out an appropriate answer to Quinn’s question, Jake asked, “Well are they, um… bone or metal? Because I really think I should have some medal in my body.”

Say what?

I tried to process what Jake was asking and stop from self from laugh so hard that I would need to change my underwear as Claire busted from her room, naked as the day she was born.

“I HAVE A VAGINA!” she screamed while running.

Both boys giggled at Claire and I knew that I loosing hold of this little anatomy lesson.

“Testicles are not medal or bone. They are organs and squishy,” I tried to explain but Claire doing her version of naked aerobics was more interesting, then listening to me.

“Claire.” I said, “Will you put your vagina away.”

As the words spilled from my mouth, I shook my head. Oh the things I have to say as a mother. Also, if I ever have to say that again, especially during those teen years, it will be too soon.

I took a deep breath. I wanted to continue teaching them about their bodies. This was good stuff to know. But  now all three kids were giggling and jumping around naked. Body parts were going every where.

I sighed, my lesson was done.

And as the three started scooting their naked butt on the carpet like dogs  I yelled… “ALRIGHT!  PLEASE PUT YOUR PENISES AND VAGINA AWAY!”

Yup, subject closed.

Letting Go

He walked up beside me and slipped in hand in mine.

I can still wrap my whole hand around it but it’s getting bigger, soon he will be the one holding my hand instead of me holding his.

I give it a squeeze and bring it to my lips. The kiss makes him smile and giggle.

We walk like this, hand in hand, for a while.

The side walk is crowded, there are bikers and walkers and strollers. People have come out for the night’s festivities.

I used to not really like fireworks. I didn’t ever really want to stay up that late. I’ve reach that point in my life where more sleep is the thing that I cave. Also, I lack the right equipment (aka I don’t have a penis) to get really excited about fireworks.

But this year was different. This year, I was excited.

I think it was because the kids are finally old enough for it to be an enjoyable experience. They remember the fireworks from last year and can’t wait to watch them again.

fireworks and a lantern

As we walked back to the grassy lawn where we would watch the show from getting a treat of slushies from the gas station, I watched people.

I watched a young family struggle with a stroller and a overly tired baby in a back pack.

I watched an older couple walk hand in hand, one with a limp from the passing of time.

I watched a group of teen boys flirt with some girls, trying to score a phone number.

I watched two tweens zoom by us on scooters.

“You know,” I said look down and the scruffy head of blond hair next to me, “Some day you are going to want to come to these fireworks without me and dad.”

He didn’t say anything and just kept walking.

“You are going to think it will be so lame to be seen with your parents. We will become so uncool.” I continued giving him a playful little nudge.

He looked at me, with almost tears in his eyes.

“No, mommy. No” he said. “I am always going to want to be with you.”

He grabbed onto my side and then began to hug me like he was trying to climb back into my uterus. It was like he was trying to stop all distance between us, stop time from moving on.

I held him and tousled his blond mop of hair.

“It’s ok, buddy.” I said with a little giggle at his over reaction which he totally comes by naturally, “That is what you are supposed to do.”

“No. I don’t want too.” he said holding on a bit more, not ever wanting to let go.

“Parents are supposed to become uncool,” Jeff said joining the conversation, “You will have friends that you will want to be with more than us.”

“It’s not going to happen tonight or even tomorrow,” I said loosening his grip so that we could begin walking again, “but it will happen. It’s suppose to happen.”

We walked in silence for a moment. Both of us making peace with letting go.

“But I will always come back,” he said taking my hand in his again, “always.”

I squeezed his little but big hand and said, “Promise?”

Before he could answer, he spotted a friend of his, waved feverishly and his hand slipped from mine.

I didn’t try to hold on even though there is a part of me that wanted too. Truth be told, I want him to have friends, I want him to go after them. I want him to learn to stand on his own two feet. I want him to have fun.

So I did the only thing I could, I opened my hand and let go.

Crying over Sippy Cups

There is a drawer in my kitchen that holds nothing but sippy cups.

It used to be completely full with cups trying to make an escape when the drawer was opened but now there is only a handful left. That is because somewhere in the house, van or back yard there lies partially filled cups with old fermenting apple juice and chocolate milk cheese.

sippy cups

I don’t know exactly where these sippy cups go to but I do know that I will never see them again. They have gone the way of the missing socks from the dryer and that one flip flop that has been missing for about a year.

There is a part of me that wants to refill that drawer, go on a sippy cup shopping spree… get that drawer so full that we can’t close it.

But that isn’t right.

The truth is, there really shouldn’t be sippy cups in our house.

The kids have long out grown the need for them. They are totally capable of drinking out of a regular cup and have been for sometime. In fact, when they are home with their dad while I am working, the sippy cups don’t really make an appearance.

They are still around because of me. I am the one who just can’t part with those danm cups.

I just don’t think I could bare to pull open that drawer and not see sippy cups in there. The kitchen would sound so quiet without the rolling and rattling of those cups in that drawer. Some of those cups we have had since the days when Hayden was a baby. In fact, I still have and use the very first sippy cup, I bought for him.

Those sippy cups are the last remnants and reminders of the past. They are the last of the baby thing in the house (expect for the random pacifier I found in the back of the bathroom cupboard last week).  Long ago, we purged all the baby bottles, cribs, bedding and clothes. All the baby proofing, electrical coverings and safety gates are gone, in fact our house could be considered quiet hazardous to a baby.

There is not a thing about our house that looks like there used to be babies here beside those sippy cups.

Truth be told, the sippy cups annoy me. I hate the search that needs to be done to find them because God forbid, the kids remember where they set them. I hate taking the plastic inserts out to clean them. I hate opening one only to be hit with the horrid smell of rotten milk making me want to vomit.

I really don’t like those cups but I can’t bare to get rid of them. The kids don’t need those cups and honestly, look a bit silly drinking from them.

It’s just that, I love to see them drinking from them. It reminds me of when they were small, when they could still fit in my lap without arms and legs and other body parts spilling all over. It reminds me of when I used to be able to pick them up with ease where now I have to grunt and end up saying, “Oh my back” afterwards.

But it’s time. It’s time to say good bye to the past.

toddler triplets with sippy cups

Jake, Quinn and Claire turned 6 this past week. It’s a big deal going from 5 to 6. That means they are leaving all the things preschool and kindergarten behind. They are now grade schoolers… 1st graders.

So in the next few days, maybe weeks, I will get rid of those sippy cups. I might save one or four. I will probably shed a tear as I put them all in the bin to be recycled.

It has to be done. I’ve known this for a while.

And I will do it but only after I cover the entire house in plastic because even though they are getting older, they are still my children which means spilling is in their genes.

Yes, There Can be Joy in Making Dinner

I hate the time of day when I have to figure out what to make for dinner.

This time of day always seems to sneak up of me, even though it happens like every day. I am happily going about my day and then suddenly I am staring down four starving kids who want dinner and not just any dinner but dinner with no green things, preferably something fried and if it could include cookies and cake, that’d be awesome.

It’s not the actual cooking part that I don’t like, it’s the coming up with what to cook that I hate. If someone put me in a fully loaded kitchen and said make this that and that other thing, I would happily go to town.

Strange as it sounds, I find the process of cooking oddly soothing and therapeutic. It’s the planning that makes me want to run like a chipmunk being chase by a badger.

I have tried the whole month menu planning thing and making a list of recipes to make each week and it does work for a couple of days but soon, I get bored and I don’t want to make what is on the list.  I want to make something ‘good’.

So I stand in front of my freezer hoping that inspiration will hit me but instead a rock hard ball of mystery meat slides out and lands on my toe.

I slam the door shut, cradle my hurt toe and mumble words that would make a sailor blush.  All the commotion, of course,  has attracted the attention of the children and they run to see what is going on. I can say their names until I am blue in the face and not get a response but they hear one mumbled curse word and they are on me like white on rice.

Once they see that I am fine and the boys are convinced that my toe is not going to fall off and be something gnarly, they scatter. Well all but one scatter, she stays.

“Mommy, can I watch you?” she asks.

She asks this question almost every day. It’s like a little buzzer goes off in her head when she notices me begin to rummage through the freezer and pantry.

I used to try and push her away. My stress was enough figuring out this dinner plan, I didn’t want someone small under my feet. Then I realized she had ideas about what to eat for dinner, “How about tacos or breakfast, mommy” she adds licking her lips.

I let her stay. How else is she supposed to learn the how to cook and win the battle against dried out chicken?

She needs to watch me. She needs to learn from me. She needs to see that having the Pizza boy’s phone number on speed dial is the smartest phone setting to make.

She will push over a stool and climb up. She is interested in all the things I have put out on the counter that I am hoping to make into something nutritious and eatable. She asks me questions about each thing, she wants to taste them and before I know it, the stress of ‘what to make’ begins to melt away and is now taking shape into ‘shit I threw in a pan’ aka dinner.

As I cook and she helps me, our talking about dinner switches to just talking.

She tells me about how one boy in her class is super naughty and had to go to the principles office.

She tells me about music class and sings part of the song she is learning, she shows me how she can count and spells a ‘slight word’ for me.

She tells me about how Landon D. asked her to be his girlfriend and I find out that means that she is a girl and his friend.

I can’t help but smile as she talks about him more and then shows me the piece of crumpled up paper he gave her. She tells me that she must keep it forever. I encourage her to keep it safe in her desk drawer up in her room.

Soon dinner is in the oven and she runs off to play or find her brothers to see what they are up too.

I find myself wishing that dinner prep took longer and even looking forward to it tomorrow.

“Oh and mommy,” she said appearing suddenly, “Landon D asked me to marry him and I said yes.”

Yes, I am definitely looking forward to tomorrow night’s dinner prep. Apparently, she and I have a lot of things to discuss.

The Dinner Table

Spaghetti night.

A kid friendly dinner that will keep the ‘how many more bites to do I need take’ questions at bay.

Plates are emptied of food and bellies are getting full.

It makes me happy to know that they are enjoying the meal.

There is talking and laughter and the occasional ‘poop’ joke added by one of the kids.

Then something happens that makes me stop.

It was a simple act but I was frozen in my chair watching it occur.

The conversation was centered on what kind of ice cream everyone would have for dessert, when he pushed his chair back from the table.

Glass in hand, he walked into the kitchen.

In one switf motion, he opened the fridge and pulled out the gallon of milk.

He twisted off the orange cap, set it on the counter and positioned the glass just so.

I wanted to jump up and do this for him.

“Carefully, honey… that is too heavy for you,” I screamed but the words got caught in my throat.

My small son was not old enough to pour himself his own glass of milk.

In my head I had this round, bouncing toddler trying to open and maneuver the gallon all well sending milk spilling all over the kitchen.

For a moment my eyes met Jeff’s and as if he knew my thoughts, they told me to be still and sit.

How could I sit?

How could I be still?

My baby needed some milk.

I watched the milk flow from the gallon into the cup and suddenly I saw my baby for what he was… a boy.

He was a boy, capable of pouring his own milk.

Hayden took a sip as if to test it  and then placed the cap back on the milk gallon, satisfied.

My mouth hung open, he just poured his own glass of milk.

In a blink of an eye, he went from needing  me to fill a sippy cup for him to being able to pour his own glass of milk.

This whole episode just struck me.

I kind of wanted to cry.

Someday our dinner table would sit empty while each person went this way and that way busy with sports, school events and friends.

Family dinner would be forgotten.

Like, hell.

In that moment, I make a vow.

Family dinner would be kept sacred in this house. We would all come together to eat, sharing our days and each other’s company.

I will fight this battle.

And a warning to my angsty teens… I will win.

Hayden walked back to the table, milk cup in hand… smiling at me.

I smiled too.

He poured his own glass of milk.

I was proud of him, almost as much as the day he learned to wipe his own ass.

But then I saw it.

“Hayden, you forgot to put the milk away and close the fridge door,” I said.

He shrugged and said, “Opps, I forgot.”

I guess my mothering services are still needed.