All over the place

Last week was another crazy one. The Princess had been sick, mostly with fever, but also she was listless and had no appetite. I took her to the doctor, since strep is going around her class (and pretty much everywhere else), but she didn’t have strep. Her liver seemed a little inflamed though, the doc said, and because of that, suggested we test her for mono. So great…no worries there…turned out she didn’t have mono, which was a relief, just a lingering virus, that made her especially cranky. The virus seems to be gone…now we’re still working on the cranky.

Friday, Edison started teaching himself to play the Super Mario Bros. theme on the piano. I went out to dinner with a friend, and when I came home, he was still banging on those keys. First thing Saturday morning, he was at it again.

Before I had even finished my coffee, fantasies of opening the oven door and leaving the gas on were dancing in my mind. By Sunday afternoon, Manfrengensen claimed to have been checking out flights to Japan on, with plans to hunt down the man who wrote the song and torture him, mostly just by following him around and singing the song.

Saturday night we were in church, and the kids were so good there. Not like the other time I told you about. Clooney was actually following along in the missal and even singing the songs. When the mass was over, I gave him kudos for his behavior, and he shrugged and said, “Well, yeah, it’s not like I’m here for nothing. What do you think, I just come here for all the standing and kneeling?” which I kind of thought was a funny thing for a nine-year-old to say.

Earlier in the day, I took Clooney and Edison to audition for a local commercial. I’m not a stage mom or anything, but I kind of know the guy who’s making the commercial. I asked the boys if they wanted to try, thinking it would be kind of fun, and they both agreed. Edison is more of a performer than Clooney is. Clooney’s a comedian, but he’s really dry, and he doesn’t really look for attention (unless someone has given him lemonade — that’s like feeding a Gremlin after midnight — watch out!)

Edison has done a couple of school plays, plus his toddler years were spent imitating Steve from Blues Clues, so he has a certain element of the musical-theatrical about him.

We went to the place where they were holding the auditions, and Edison went first. I could tell Clooney was nervous, so I pulled him into a hug to keep him still and whispered in his ear that there was nothing to be nervous about. “Just go in and be yourself,” I said.

“No,” he smiled, “I’m going to go in and be Billy.” Billy was the name of the character in the script. So obviously, he’s more of a method-kind of actor, comes from the Strasberg school (or the Strasberg preschool). Like he’s freakin’ Christian Bale or something. Go be the part, Clooney. Inhabit the role.

Anyway, afterward, they were both excited, it had been a fun experience, and I started to worry that one or both of them would be disappointed if he didn’t get the role. I said, you know, you both did well, (the director had said so) and if one of you didn’t get it, no big deal, they could just be looking for something else, someone younger or older or lighter or darker. It’s all luck sometimes. And then when we were in the car, I reminded them again, they could go with someone else entirely. The important thing was that we had fun today.

The boys agreed, and then Clooney whispered from the third row of the car, “Even though it’s going to be me.”

Well, this morning, we got word of the callback…and it was for Edison. The director stressed again that Clooney had done well, but he just wasn’t quite what they are looking for. I felt very proud of Edison, and I was kind of hoping Clooney wouldn’t be too sad about it. But he was. He cried. He cried! So I told him that these kind of endeavors are really just a crapshoot, and you can’t take any kind of setback too hard. I told him about all the rejection letters I had gotten for my children’s book a couple of years ago, and told him that even though no one bought it, I am still proud of it. And some day, maybe someone will want it, or something else I write. You can’t let it make you stop trying.

And I think he got that. He was cool after a while. He’ll try again. And we’ll see how Edison’s call back goes. You never know, because every day is a new adventure, right?

Yeah, we’re that family.

Did I say kids were awesome?

The kids have been at each other’s throats for days. They’ve been arguing about EVERYTHING. I swear, if one of them says it’s cloudy today, the other one will point out that the percentage of blue sky to clouds negates the other’s declaration. And with three of them, this kind of thing is always happening between two. There is never a moment of peace. Plus, Manfrengensen has been working 6-day weeks, so when Sunday comes, I just want the day off.

Last night, I took the kids to seen Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules, which they liked. It had some funny moments, but also made me uncomfortable in some parts, but it’s just a movie, so I try not to take it too seriously. Edison came away with this idea of “Mom Bucks” where he and his siblings would earn play money from me for doing chores and things, that they would later exchange for real cash. That’s cool and all, but not really what I want to get with. I mean, first of all, they get allowances, and there’s really nothing that they want for. In addition to all that, I take them to the movies, and I also buy them things. Like yesterday, we went to this big community garage sale, and I got Edison a nice bike, almost new, for $20. After that, I took Clooney out to get him a Spooner Board, which you might think is overindulgence on my part, but it’s really just selfish. You see, by buying him this toy, I’m buying time for myself with kids outside. It’s win-win, as I see it. I don’t do it often, but I do it. To tell you the truth though, right from the start, I’m not too comfortable with this Mom Bucks thing because, and maybe I am being too idealistic here, but shouldn’t the motivation to help around the house and be kind to your siblings be intrinsic? Is that naive on my part?

Now, Edison is an early riser, and he rises every day with some kind of bee in his bonnet, some idea that he has, thing he wants to do, grand scheme he needs to execute. He’s off and running, sometimes without even remembering to brush his teeth. (Ew, I know, right?) Today’s idea: MOM BUCKS. So that when I come down, at Church-Time-minus-30, and no coffee yet made, he’s got every version of Monopoly we own spread out on the family room floor, and he has devised an ELABORATE set of parameters as to how each Mom Buck shall be earned.

I had to tell him to park it. Pistons were not firing yet, you know?

And this after I had gone into Clooney’s room (where The Princess sleeps on a fold-out chair on the weekends) to find them already locking their devilish horns. Clooney, I guess, had begun the day by declaring that this was The Princess’s last night in his room. I just backed away slowly, closed the door and pretended not to have witnessed.

Got to Mass just as the priest was getting ready to head up the center aisle. It wasn’t too crowded, I guess some people took off today, or maybe they are going to other masses because there’s no Sunday school this week. Manfrengenson trailed behind me and the boys with the Princess. We got good seats right up front. I really like our pastor. He gives an awesome homily, really knows how to tie the Gospel into what we’re dealing with in our 21st Century lives. He’s funny, comfortable with the flock, a very human kind of guy. When the homilies are over, I often want to hold up my phone and wave it in the air for an encore. “Woo-hoo! You rock, Dude!” Father Dave is like my spiritual Justin Beiber.

Today, however, I was distracted. The kids were jostling for space near me. The Princess, who’s usually in Sunday school during the 9:00 was insisting on sitting on my lap, while Clooney kept brushing his face against my arm like a cat trying to get its whiskers clean. The kicker was Communion. Before it started, the Princess, who is almost 6, and not at all a small 5, was insisting on being carried to the Priest while I went. I refused, and she refused to let it drop, whining in my ear during the entire Consecration. Communion time comes, and I pushed her out into the aisle. She’s still hanging onto my right arm and whining, while Clooney follows us, and takes hold of my left. They ‘re both hanging on me the whole time I accept the Eucharist and back to the pew, where Clooney immediately starts complaining that there’s a stain on his knee. For Pete’s sake, can’t I have a few minutes to pray? Just a minute to talk to God and ask him for the patience I need to deal with these people??

So, Clooney’s still kvetching, I haven’t knelt down yet, but as I turn to look at the problem, I notice that The Princess’s sippy cup has leaked milk all over the pew. Must be a whole pint there on the seat, so I reach into my purse for a wad of Kleenex, start mopping, the whole time, Clooney’s trying to sway my attention to the stain, I just want to pray…I’m kneeling while I’m cleaning (the rest of the congregation’s still going up for Communion) and as I straighten my leg to stand, the knee of my pants sticks to the kneeler. What’s on Clooney’s pants, what’s now on my pants, are the crushed raisins that The Princess has carelessly dropped during Mass.

These are the days that try moms souls…