Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hopagator Eggs

This week I have had a lesson in fostering creativity in my children... no matter how weird it gets!

A few nights ago, my storytellin’ five year old began telling us a tale about the Hopagator:

“ In the Wilds of San Diego lives Jumpy the Hopagator. This amazing animal has a frog body and an alligator head.

Jumpy’s favorite food is mashed potatoes. He finds the potatoes growing in the forest and uses his powerful legs to mash them up. Jumpy the Hopagator also loves pizza. He has it delivered to his favorite lily pad, and uses his sharp teeth to cut it into the perfect slices…”

The story goes on and on. The adventures include hunts for the Hopagator by pirates and ninjas, and buried treasure protected by Jumpy himself. The tale has continued all week and I understand that our next family vacation is probably going to be a trip to San Diego to search the “Wilds” for the elusive Hopagator.

Anyway, I have fallen in love with the word “Hopagator.” I am using it for all my new passwords.

My older son is using it for his dueling name on an online computer game.

We even searched for him online and came up with the incredible picture above.

In the meantime, my older son discovered last night that one of our “real life pets” a corn snake named Ewok (who knew it was a girl) has just laid about seven or eight eggs.

Tonight, the whole gang (all four kids) is going with Daddy on a trip to the pet store to buy an incubator and set up for corn snake babies.

My five year old believes that maybe and probably one of those eggs will hatch a Hopagator…


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Still Searching

The day started out with a missing sandal. The sandal’s been located, in the backyard, under the wading pool, one strap chewed off by the dog.

I can’t find my keys. My husband calls. He took them to work; they’re in his pants pocket.

My Cell phone has disappeared. I’m folding laundry, instead of gabbing with my sister. I change the wet clothes into the dryer. The cell phone's been found and now it's really clean.

I’ve got purchases to return, if I ever get my keys. Kid’s clothes too small, a baby hat too big, and lipstick too red. The receipt is somewhere. Maybe in my purse, or on my dresser, or it’s still in the bag.

Some days I search… for my son’s sport jersey in time for the big game, the escaped dog, lost toys, and the checkbook.

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…

Monday, April 28, 2008

Don't Ask

As a parent, I have an idealized view of the rules and values that I’m handing down to my children. The "living in a dreamworld" goal is to help them grow up to be humanitarians and model citizens…

The other day, we picked up my son’s friend Nate to come over and play. His mother and I were standing outside their house visiting, and the boys were talking.

“Remember the most important rule at my house is DON'T ASK,” my son said.

Nate's mom and I started laughing.

This is not a spoken rule, and I have never heard my son talk about it before.

“It’s almost dinner time. No more snacks. Don’t ask,” and “You’ve already watched T.V. and played on the computer. Don’t ask, ” I hear myself saying way too frequently.

All mothers have their catch phrases. I didn’t realize this was mine until I heard my son explaining, “… this was the most important rule of the house.” Not the “GOLDEN RULE”, or “BE KIND TO YOUR FRIENDS”, or “RESPECT THE PLANET”, but “DON'T ASK.”

Later, Nate’s mom came to pick him up. The boys were playing in the backyard, and when I looked outside my son had snuck a second ice cream sandwich out to the play yard.

“He didn’t ask permission for that,” I said.

“He followed your most important rule,” Nate's mother said.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Where's the Baby?

Mother’s day is a time of mixed blessings, a day to celebrate being a mother, but it is also a day of renewal like New Year’s day. On this day, I pledge once again to be a better mother and not to lose the baby in the house…

I lost the baby in the house for a little while today. I wish I could say this was the first time.

I was at my desk completely absorbed in an article from CNN, the baby playing nearby on the floor. My friend from Peru called to say she had passed her citizenship test. I was jumping around and congratulating her. She was telling me how to make Peruvian yellow pepper sauce, and I started to unload the dishwasher. On the top rack, I saw the dog’s bowls and remembered they needed some food and water. I went out to the garage and filled both their dishes. While I was out there, I decided to check the mail. A neighbor drove by and stopped to say hello, commenting on the height of the Century plant in the front yard.

Back in the house, no crying anywhere, just the sounds of my other children playing in the backyard. Where’s the baby? I rush around to all the bathrooms. Maybe she is playing in toilet water, or worse she’s been swallowed up. I lift the closed lids. I check the pantry; she like’s to climb up on the bottom shelf.

I follow a trail of toys out of the office. Multicolored balls from her Playskool ball popper, a blue ring from her wooden stacker, and one of the twin dolls she likes to carry.

“Abbie, Abbie,” I call.

I remember other moments of forgetting the children. After our second son Michael was born I left him in the car. It was in the excitement of a real estate deal. We had put the house on the market and we had three offers in one day. I was still used to having only one child and afraid the deal might get away. I parked at the realtor’s office and ran in leaving the baby strapped in his car seat.

“Where’s your son,” the realtor asked.

“He’s at preschool,” I said.

“Don’t you have another son, a baby,” he said.

There are different ways for children to get lost. My daughter Madeline got lost in a maze of tunnels at a McDonald’s indoors playland. She’s up there somewhere on the higher levels, unable to find a way out.

“Mommy, mommy I can’t get down.”

I’m eight months pregnant, not sure I’ll fit. I burrow through the passages, my big belly dragging along the plastic walls.

“Mommy’s coming,” I yell.

But I’ve reached a dead end. I’m stuck squeezed in like an oversized sausage. A man is having lunch with his young son. He crawls up, dislodges me, and helps me turn around. A giant fat lady, I ride the slide down. I watch as a stranger sets my daughter to the ground.

After a few minutes of searching, I end up in the master bedroom. Abigail is fast asleep on the carpet, a little pink cell phone clutched in her tiny hand. She’s sleeping so peaceful, and I take a moment thankful the baby’s been found.

This Mother’s Day we will go out for brunch, the children will offer gifts, flowers, and freely given love. For the coming year, I will try to offer them a mother who is tuned in, more aware, and at the end of the day knows the whereabouts of all of her children.