But don’t worry daddy, we took care of the problem

I hear you need a plumber

I hear you need a plumber

It had been a long day. Not that there was any one thing that I could point at to say this is why I needed a break, it had just been a long day. So when my sister-in-law left for the store and I was left responsible for my nephew and my two boys I took the opportunity to grab some alone time. Grabbing a change of clothes I headed into our one bathroom for a long hot shower. Knowing how the boys see shower time as the best chance to catch up on the days events while peppering me with questions I removed the door knob from the bathroom door. We didn’t have a lock at the time so to keep someone out you had to resort to more drastic measures. Simple turn of the screw and the knob was off, the door shut, and the hot water turned on.

It really was a great shower if I’m honest. Those movie scene type showers with my head hung under a stream of scalding water as the windows and mirror fogs over. I could feel the stress rise off of me carried up and away by the steam to pool in some other corner. There were faint voices outside the door, something about how daddy does this some time when he needs space. I was grateful for the way that they knew me and enjoyed the luxurious peace. After resource wasting long time I turned the shower off, and took my time to dry, dress, and fuss over things before returning the know to the door and exiting the bathroom with a whoosh as two different weather patterns collided in the hall. The boys were jumping on my bed together, happy and free.

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“I pooped my pants uncle James!”

“But Don’t worry daddy, we took care of the problem!”

Wait are you kidding, are you making a joke?

“No I pooped my pants”  ”It’s OK daddy, we took care of the problem”

Over three separate explanations the story started to become clear. My nephew, who is four, started the tale off:

“I felt like I had to fart and I kept playing, then I when I farted I pooped my pants”

They tried to get into the bathroom to clean up but there was no knob on the door because some idiot took it off for his own selfish reasons. The boys sprung into action. Primo had his cousin pull down his pants so he could see what he was dealing with. They decided to bring this party out to the back yard by way of the front yard. So our little soiler waddled out the front door with his pant around his ankles and tried to navigate the step and slopped sidewalk to the side of the house. This is when our neighbor Libby looked over from her porch. “uhhh …. what are you guys doing?”

“My cousin pooped his pants and daddy won’t let us use the bathroom, he took the door knob off, but it’s ok we’re taking care of the problem”

“Sure that makes sense” and on they went. In the back yard there was the issue of removing the poo from the chonies which Segundo solved with a wiffle bat. When I asked where the poop ended up they excitedly told me it was behind the wood pile. I couldn’t imagine how they got it there and even after their explanation of using the wiffle bat to hit it away from them I am still baffled. Did they smack it golf style while my nephew stood there, did one of them pitch it while the other swung for the fences? They told me that they took his chonies off and held them up while the other one hit the poo out T-ball style. Like the worst piñata ever created i guess.

After the home run shot the boys told me they threw the dirty chonies into the laundry. This translated to throwing them half way down the basement stairs towards the washing machine. Arguing semantics at this point seemed silly so we moved on. They then got some paper towels and cleaned the little man and his littler man off, pulled his pants back up, and proceeded to have a celebratory jump on the bed.

Problem solvers, these two boys

Problem solvers, these two boys

Now I know that I come off as a pretty terrible parent in this story but I think that reading misses the point. A better view sees the problem solving and outside the box thinking these kids of mine displayed. Should I have removed the knob of the bathroom door, who’s to say for sure. But were they able to asses their situation, come up with a great plan, and execute that plan with the tools and wiffle bats available.YES they were, they indeed took care of the problem.

Where have we been indeed

A before and after of our new house

A before and after of our new house

Some time has passed, you may or may not have noticed. We have moved into a new house, well an old house that is new to us, but a move none the less. The boys are great, we are busy but happy, there is a lot of work to do but we enjoy it. You are all caught up now. Hey let’s try to get together more often from here on out, what do you say?

Once more into the breach

Let the routine spinOn the eve of the end of the our vacation I feel like I’m staring at a merry-go-round that’s spinning a little more quickly than I’m comfortable with and I have to jump back into the swirling vortex. It isn’t like the time off of our regular routine was restful or stress free, quite the contrary. But some how diving back into the work, school, community schedule feels daunting. I feel like some of the balls I was trying to keep in the air are no longer spinning, wait those are the plates aren’t they. The balls have rolled down the hill and into the creek that I am now up. See I can’t even get my metaphors straight enough to make sense of these feelings, how am I going to get this schedule back on track.

I think the boys feel the same way they just don’t know it yet. While I’m easing my hand into the spinning bars of the merry-go-round they are still happily playing with the slides. Soon we will fling ourselves into the mix and hold on for dear life. The transition will be rough but it’s a short week. The weekend will be here again and we can get the timing down, learning from our jarring plunge back into the great spin. Routine will be good for all of us, once we find it again, it’s just the finding that I am worrying about this eve.

Adventures in Public Transit

Primo does not like being picked up late

Segundo wanted to go on an adventure. “Let’s take the bus daddy, when we go pick up Primo let’s take the bus!” He was excited and it was raining so why not. We could ride the bike and he could sit in his warm trailer dry and happy as a clam while I pedaled into the blustery mist of swirling seas, or something like that. No taking the bus sounded great so I checked in with the trip planner and found our best route. A simple matter of taking the 4 bus to the train and the train to the school, we can do this.

Step one, get on the right number bus going in the wrong direction. At first I was mad that Tri-met’s trip planner lead me astray but after thinking about it for a bit I realized my error. Getting on the bus that was going in the wrong direction from where I wanted to go should have been my first clue but I just thought it looped around.

Step two, Choose another bus that will get you there on time. The 75 bus would still get us where we needed to go and might even get us to the train on time. The bus was early picking us up but the driver waited at the next stop for 2 minutes because she was ahead of schedule. We made it to the train just as the max was pulling away. That train would have put us right in front of the school just as Primo was done but instead we waited another 15 minutes for the next train.

Step Three, get off the train one stop too early. Flustered and a little wet I thought we were at the school but we weren’t. We had to walk 8 more blocks to get to the stop we should have gotten off at and at this point we were 20 minutes late picking up the boy. He was not happy but at least I wasn’t the last parent there. His teacher had a good laugh at my retelling of the story and Primo soon warmed to the idea of a trip back home on the bus. We stopped for some lunch and by the time we were walking the last bit to our house we were all soaked but enjoying the adventure we had originally set out on.

Mr. Manners, paging Mr. Manners

This weekend we were up by the sound in Gig Harbor visiting Beautiful’s parents as they visit their first grand-daughter courtesy of their eldest daughter and her husband. After five boys, girls finally got on the board in the McGrail clan and she is a cutie. Their two boys and our two boys love being together but the sheer force of the four boys together keeps us on our toes. I find myself trying to mediate silly skirmishes over which of our boys sits next to their cousin, or who had the giant green ball first. The other big issue I run into is the vanishing of manners when my boys get together with other playmates.

“PLEASE!” I shout at Segundo when he cries for the same juice his cousin got, or when he demands the toy his brother is playing with. “What do you say?” is another big one as Primo gets more grapes at lunch and ignores his aunt. Teaching the kids to have manners is important to us so the repetition is just part of the process but I realized something this weekend as we were all together: I don’t have very good manners in communicating with them.

Maybe it’s the stress I feel having all the boys together, or maybe it’s a response to their powerful presence but either way I find myself barking commands at the boys instead of communicating with manners. I know that modeling behavior is much more effective than shouting orders but for some reason I forget that in their situations. It reminds of me of that great 80’s PSA about the dad who finds his teenage sons weed and yells “Where did you learn to do this?” “I learned it from watching you dad!” For some reason this PSA always makes me laugh but it’s true. They do what I do and conversely I can’t expect them to do what I’m not doing.

I know that the boys are inherently selfish and won’t just mimic manners because I use them but that doesn’t mean that I am not part of the equation. Modeling along with communicating our expectation with the boys still requires near constant reinforcement for the boys to learn good manners. Lately I feel like I am skipping the first step and I need to fix that before trying to hold my boys to higher standard then I hold myself.