Thursday, November 16, 2017

First and Second Zoë haircuts (and other stories)

Since Alexander was born, Andrew's made an effort to stick around—at least for a few minutes—in the mornings to help get the kids up and ready for school. Quite often he's gone before they leave for school, but he'll usually have them all up and dressed and at the breakfast table by the time I get up, which really only gives me an extra fifteen minutes of sleep or so (but believe me, that fifteen minutes is so precious).

This morning, however, Andrew was in Michigan. That meant I was left to get all the kids moving on my own. And, because I'm a genius, I scheduled visiting teaching appointments this morning as well, which meant that in addition to getting the kids off to school on my own I also had to get Zoë, Alexander, and myself ready to leave the house. Smart, right?

So instead of getting an extra fifteen minutes of sleep, I woke up fifteen minutes before the kids got up so that I would (hopefully) have time to get everything done. And I did. I got all the kids out the door, I pumped, I fed the baby and changed his diaper (twice (for both the feeding and the diaper changing), I wrangled the wee ones into clothes, and I got out the door. And I was only, like, five minutes late to my first appointment. So...boom!

Here's Zoë saying good morning to Alexander:



And here she is dressed in a shirt that "is pants, too," which is her way of saying it has long sleeves. I was adamant that she wear pants today—it's getting cold out there!—so she did, but in return she insisted on wearing a big, floofy princess dress over her clothes. So I let her because I (sometimes) know how to pick my battles.

"Ama, ama, ama, ama!" Zoë is saying
I left her and Alexander inside while I helped the kids cross the busy street on their way to school. When I came back inside Zoë was reading to "her" baby. Although the book she's holding in this picture is not a "Llama Llama" book, the words she was saying were certainly "Llama Llama" words. We have four "Llama Llama" books and I think our whole family has them all committed to memory by now. We read through all of them multiple times every day.

And I may or may not have bribed her with more "Llama Llama" books if she'll sleep in her own bed for several consecutive nights. We have a chart of anything and she's been doing great! She really wants a new "Llama Llama" book, which is great because I really want a new one, too! Not because I particularly like all the books Ms. Dewdney wrote (formulaic books tend to get on my nerves after awhile, so while the original Llama Llama Red Pajama will always have a special place in my heart the many, many other titles in the series probably won't) but because it will be something else to throw into our "Llama Llama" rotation.

Anyway, here's cute little Alexander getting ready to go this morning:



He's such a sweetie:


The three of us were out all morning long. We went to the playground after visiting teaching because we only had a few minutes to kill and I didn't want to go home and get unready to go only to have to get ready to go again. Zoë did not want to play at the playground at all and kept crying about needing to get Benjamin (I think she felt like she was betraying him by playing there without him...or she was just in a really bad mood). When picking him up didn't cheer her up, we decided to just head home for lunch because we were all hungry.

Benjamin brought home a little Thanksgiving treat from his teacher. They talked about Squanto today and how he helped the pilgrims get a better crop by planting their corn with dead fish. She'd messaged me yesterday to say I'd be excited about what he'd be brining home today because yesterday we were reading his little take-home book from school, which just happened to be called Squanto. And in that book Squanto—guess what!—taught the pilgrims to use fish as fertilizer, but the text didn't explain this. Instead there was just a picture of Squanto putting a fish in a hole with the caption, "He helped them plant corn."

"Why is he putting a fish into that hole?" Benjamin asked.

"Good question!" I said. "We just read about this in one of the Horrible Harry books—the part about the Thanksgiving play. Thinking about that story, can you remember what the fish was used for?"

Clearly he could not because after hemming and hawing for a minute he said, "Because they didn't have seeds back then?"

I reminded him that the dead fish would decompose and make the soil richer, which in turn would yield a more robust corn plant. His innocent idea was just too cute, though. I think Moana may have inspired it a little (because Maui sings, "I killed an eel. I buried its guts, sprouted a tree now you've got coconuts!" so Benjamin must have thought that if you kill a fish and bury its guts, you get a corn plant—easy, peasy!).

Anyway, he brought home a little story about Squanto along with a little dixie cup, some crushed up cookie (for dirt), a goldfish cracker (for fish, obviously), and some candy corn (for the corn). He was so excited to plant his corn and fish together in his dirt.

Zoë was in a particularly nasty mood and was also excited about his little project. Luckily we had all the supplies on hand and she was also able to plant some fish and corn together in some cookie dirt.

It kind of sounds like a disgusting snack to me, but the two of them loved it.

After lunch they played with LEGO until they started fighting and then we had some story time together. Here's Benjamin reading his take-home book to all of us (my spot was right between Zoë and Benjamin but I got up to take a picture because it was a sweet moment):


And then I took one more from my view because (minus the mess in the background) it was such a beautiful sight:


And here's what Alexander might've seen:


After story time, Alexander was clearly ready for a nap so I decided to take one, too. I set the kids up with some Magic School Bus (because you can never get enough Lin Manuel Miranda in one day) and went to lie down. I don't think they even got through the episode before going down to bug Grandma, so instead of watching Magic School Bus they watched The Little Couple (Zoë calls it the "Zoë show" because their little girl's name is also Zoë), and that was fine because...sleep.

Benjamin was a little wild for the duration of the day, however. He just never managed to calm down. It's not like I didn't try to focus his energy. We had fun playing play-dough until the girls came home from school. Then Miriam wanted to decorate her turkey (she had to disguise a turkey...for homework (eye roll)) and the little ones decided they wanted to, too, so I printed off a couple of turkeys for Benjamin and Zoë to do with as they willed.

Crayons, scissors, and glue all came out.

Miriam helped her turkey hide in a pot of flowers.

Benjamin made a technicolour turkey for Baby Arwyn.

Zoë scribbled all over her turkey.

A fun time was had by all, I tell you. And then they left their mess behind and played downstairs for a while while I gave Rachel her piano lesson.

Reid made dinner while putting up with a head-butting Benjamin. And Benjamin was slightly obnoxious all during dinner, so we were all thrilled when he excused himself from the table so he could get his pyjamas on. He ended up putting them on in the living room downstairs (and leaving his dirty clothes in the middle of the floor, of course) before running upstairs to play some more before bed. Zoë ran after him while Rachel, Miriam, and I started on dish duty.

Many hands makes light work and soon I was out of the kitchen and was upstairs cracking the bedtime whip. Zoë went to the bathroom and called to me to come wipe for her so I walked into the bathroom and...totally lost my cool.

There were chunks of hair in the garbage can. Chunks of gloriously silky baby curls.

"Benjamin!" I bellowed.

"What?" he asked innocently.

"Did you cut Zoë's hair?" I asked, shaking a fistful of hair in his face.

"No," he said easily.

"Then who did?" I demanded.

"She did," he said.

"Zoë, did you cut your hair?" I asked (it was plausible).

"No, 'Enny tut mine hair," she pouted.

I wheeled back around to face him.

"Benjamin!"

"Well, she told me to!" he tried.

"I don't care!" I said. "You don't take orders from her. You take orders from me. Go to your room, now, and it had better be spotless by the time you come back out!"

He began blubbering apologies. I ranted some more. He asked if I really meant "spotless." I told him I was going to take away something special. "Not my LEGO," he pleaded. "Oh, yes! Your LEGO then!" I growled.

Clearly it was my highest parenting moment. My anger was heightened when I asked him when he had cut her hair and he answered, "Yesterday," because, you see, last night before I went to bed I cleaned off a big glob of dried toothpaste from the kids' tube and there was no hair in the garbage can. So the incident happened today. (Upon further questioning it was "while the scissors were down" and upon further further questioning it was after dinner).

Once I had him in his room, frantically working away because I'd convinced him that "spotless" really meant "spotless," I took Zoë downstairs for her second haircut of the day.

This poor little girl has had to work so hard to grow her hair. She was the baldest little baby and so it broke my heart a little to cut off the rest of her sweet baby hair. Truthfully, she was probably due for some evening up because her hair wasn't growing in even at all. But who cares about the truth when there's silky smooth baby hair on the line!

I couldn't even bring myself to completely even things up because Benjamin had cut his little fistful off so short.



I'm not a spectacular hairdresser, but at least things are a little more even now. While we cut her hair we talked about how it's okay for Mommy to cut hair, but that it's not okay for kids to cut hair. I said something like, "Benjamin shouldn't have cut your hair. We only use scissors on paper, not..."

"Zoës," she huffed, filling in the blank for me.

"That's right," I said. "We don't use scissors on Zoës."

"Only paper," she said.

"That's right. We only use scissors on paper."

Not that it matters because the scissors are now way, way out of reach. And I threw away all the markers yesterday because a certain little boy left the caps off all of them. And earlier this week that same little someone emptied the game closet all over the floor so our family spent a glorious hour sorting through game pieces.

This is fine.

He's not driving me crazy at all.

THIS. IS. FINE.

Zoë wasn't quite sure she was happy with her haircut and Alexander (who Rachel had been pacing the floor with) was in desperate need of some Mommy time, so Miriam offered to read some "Llama Llama" to help Zoë cheer up. (Thank goodness for my sweet helpers!)



Meanwhile, I changed Alexander's diaper and then, when the Llama Llama book had been read, helped Zoë into her pyjamas while Alexander waited not-so-patiently to nurse.



Once everyone (except Benjamin) was happy, I called Benjamin out of his room so we could talk.

"I'm really sorry!" he said.

"What were you thinking?!" I asked, even though I read an article about not shaming children just the other day (and asking "What were you thinking?!" was mentioned in the article as being akin to saying, "That was a really dumb thing to do!" —but it was kind of a dumb thing to do, so...).

"I was thinking," he said before switching to a high pitched 'internal-voice' register and saying, "'No! Don't do it!'" Then he returned to his regular voice and said, " I tried to take the scissors away from her hair before they closed but they just closed too quickly for me to stop them."

Yes, yes. I'm sure that's exactly what happened.

Passive voice, my dear, is so fun.*



Anyway, the evening ended...fine. Rachel and Miriam were feeling good about having been such good helpers through the chaos of screaming babies, fussy toddlers, and scissor-wielding kindergarteners. Benjamin was solemnly obedient and very remorseful, but I think he still knows that we all love him (I sang to him and rubbed his back before...taking away his iPod so he couldn't listen to lullabies this evening or play any games on it tomorrow...and tucking him into bed). Zoë decided she liked her haircut after all and Alexander finally managed to not puke up his entire meal after nursing and settled down to sleep for a while.


Really, as my friend Ann pointed out on Facebook, it's pretty remarkable that we made it through ten years of parenthood without something like this happening before (this is the first time a child has taken scissors to hair in our household).

And even though this made me really mad in the moment (and, as my friend Crystal pointed out on Facebook, it was probably good for me to make an impression on Benjamin so he doesn't try it again), I know it's not really a huge deal. Hair grows (even if it grows painfully slowly, like Zoë's).

And it's not like Zoë tried to give herself bangs three days before her big sister's wedding, in which she was to be the flower girl, or anything (Josie, I'm talking about you, circa 1997 (1998?)). Even that isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things, so I'm sure we'll get through this...but will we get through everything else that's coming down the pike?

I know it's not quite Christmas season yet but, Andrew, is it alright if I say, "Why did we have to have all these kids?!" just a few days early? I'm ready to get my "Christmas Words" on.**

* I had a linguistics (TESOL, technically) teacher who wrote a passive voice song—to the tune of Kumbaya:

Passive voice, my dear, is so fun.
Passive voice, my dear, is so fun.
Take the subject, my dear, take it away.
And put the object in its place.

Then there were multiple verses, such as:

I killed my brother. My brother was killed.
I killed my brother. My brother was killed.
Who killed my brother? Well, maybe me.
But I'm not telling you, you see.

And then you'd jump into the chorus again.

That verse was an actual verse from the song, by the way, and was in no way inspired by the events that transpired in our home this evening. There were several other equally ridiculous verses. And I will never be able to not sing this song in my head when I think about passive voice.

I cut my sister's hair. Her hair was cut.
I cut my sister's hair. Her hair was cut.
Who cut my sister's hair? Well, maybe me...

That's a more appropriate verse for this situation, I suppose.

** It's a Wonderful Life is the movie to watch on Christmas Eve when you're a Heiss. It uses the word "stupid" a few times. And I think "dumb" is in there as well. So we call those words Christmas Words.

PS. Andrew, if you're still reading this, please come home!

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