Thursday, April 22, 2010


We hop in the car after picking up playoff pizza, and Josh stops to take in that telltale cheesy smell.

"MMMmmmmmm. I love pizza," he croons as he climbs into his booster seat. "Pizza is my second favorite, and macaroni and cheese is my third favorite."

As I back the car out its parking space, I realize I have missed something. "What's your first favorite?"

"Mommy." Josh replies.

"Wow! You love me more than pizza AND macaroni and cheese?"

"Yeah!" Josh says, with a hint of "duh!" in his voice. "Mommy is my first favorite. Pizza is my second favorite. Macaroni and cheese is my third favorite. Pancakes are my fourth favorite...and...after that, it gets complicated."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Birthday buddies

We arrive at Luke’s house about five minutes early. Luke is Josh’s best boy buddy at school, and Josh has been anticipating his birthday party for weeks. We park a few houses away. While Josh and Luke play together every day at school, this is the first time we have been to Luke’s house. Josh is eager to get there. As soon as I open the door, he hops out and starts jogging ahead of me. I hurry along behind, losing ground as I struggle to balance the gift and my purse.

As we round the court, I see Luke on his front porch. He spots Josh and comes bounding out to meet us.

“Josh!” Luke calls as he nears the sidewalk.

“Luke!” Josh calls as he breaks into a sprint.

The boys meet at the edge of the driveway and come to a complete standstill about two feet apart.

“Hi!” Luke exclaims, smiling at Josh and giving him a brief wave.

“Hi! Josh shouts back enthusiastically.

For a split second, neither boy knows what to do next. But their excitement is clearly mutual.

Then Luke suddenly throws his arms around Josh’s neck and pulls him in for a hug. Josh beams as he grabs Luke, and their cheeks meet — their two smiling faces smashed together in picture perfect harmony.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

School blues

“What day is it today?” Josh asks as he stands by my bed in his fuzzy pjs.

“Uh, Wednesday,” I say slowly, before I can even pry my eyes open.

“Oh man, I don’t want to go to school today.” He laments as he buries his face in the sheets.

Now I’m awake. Josh never complains about going to school. He did occasionally last year when he was a bit younger. But we changed preschools this year, and until now, he has always been happy to go.

As I pull him up into bed with me for our morning snuggles, my mind races with potential reasons for this sudden turnaround. Has he been afraid to tell me he doesn’t like the new school? Is another child bullying him? Did he get in trouble on Monday? Did I make the wrong choice last summer when I decided to move him?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Grit and bear it

We played too long today. It was my fault really. As most things are. I tried to fit in too much. My plans were evidently too ambitious. And I didn't realize they weren't working until they really weren't working — and I had to carry a kicking and screaming five year old out of a local family fun place.

The day started out happy enough (albeit a little too early, which is of course my fault, too). Josh met his best buddy at their Thursday morning ceramics class where they made the cutest jellyfish on the planet. Afterward, I thought a trip to a nearby kid's gym would help both kids burn off some energy.

And all was going well, until Josh crashed into Sami at the bottom of the bouncy slide and later somehow knocked her down "accidentally" and was warned that the next infraction would be his last. So when he demanded to trade fire hats with Sami a half-hour later, I should have known trouble was brewing. But Sami sweetly traded, and all was calm on the Western front...until Josh immediately changed his mind and demanded to trade back. That's when I intervened. And that's when Josh hurled the small train car I didn't know he'd been holding onto the train table, which sent it careening perilously close to a group of innocent toddlers playing nearby.

That's when our playdate abruptly ended. The only thing left to do was strong-arm a willful, screeching, plea-bargaining preschooler down an elevator, through the main lobby past what seemed like hundreds of other sane families, and across the parking lot — and avoid eye contact all the way.

I knew immediately that it was my fault. I tried to squeeze in too many things today. After I kept him up too late last night, which caused him to wake up too early this morning. After I kept him too busy with so many other activities all week so I could tackle too many freelance deadlines at home. All week, I built a precarious tower of tiny decisions, stacking one after another on top of each other, until they all came tumbling down — with Josh howling and gasping and wailing and yelling all the way home.

Or maybe it was just a tantrum. An unpredictable outburst of anger and frustration from a young child who wanted to stay and play and possibly annoy his BFF a little longer. Perhaps he was just having a bad day for no particular reason other than that he's five. I guess I'll never know.

Tonight as I think about it, I am thankful that I had already been through that several times before. I'm thankful that I know all those other families in the lobby have been, too. While overstimulation may breed meltdowns, experience breeds grit. And boy did I need all the grit I could get today.
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