And (w)here's the other one

I love you too. Now, go jump on your dad.

What’s the plan, Momma?

on November 9, 2014

Before I became a parent (and even still to a certain extent), I would think about and tirelessly plan out all the things that I would do with my kids and all the grand memories that we would create together. Every event, big or small, was going to be some special thing they would remember forever. Whether it was going outside to explore nature or their first birthday, I wanted to create the perfect situation. I wanted to be an involved parent: a participating parent. I wanted to play and teach and create and cultivate their critical minds in a way no one else could. I would put all my thoughts and ideas into effect, expecting to have the most incredible experience with my boys: watching them learn and grow as every piece of my plans fell into place flawlessly. The only thing is, nothing, when you’re dealing with kids, ever goes according to plan. I would get my hopes so high, only to fall short on nearly all accounts. It was like lighting a mile long fuse and waiting for some huge explosion only to see a tiny spark. It could be really disheartening, to say the least.
For their first birthday, I wanted everything to be perfect, because of course they were going to remember every moment of the day for their entire lives. I, thanks to my aunt, was able to get two specialty cakes made for the twins (a robot for Oliver and a monster for Bennett) that also came with their very own smash cakes. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa, the room was decorated with banners and balloons and streamers. We had food and drinks and family and friends and I was running around with a fair amount of stress making sure that everything was going according to plan. In the end, they slept through the majority of the party, and when they woke up, they were pretty disinterested in most everything, especially the cakes. Their biggest enjoyment was the wrapping paper, but boy did that spark some real fun in their minds.
A few months back, I was looking online to find some of those puzzle piece floor mats with the alphabet on them to put in the boys’ room. I thought, “How cool. They’ll be able to play on something soft and easy to clean, and they can learn their letter at the same time.” Andrew found one on (plug party) for cheap so we got it. I was pretty excited to put it all together and show the boys the new addition to their room. They immediately sat down on it (all smiles) and began playing with some of their toys. That floor lasted all of about 16 ½ seconds before the entire thing was dismantles and multiple pieces became lost forever. All it took was Oliver seeing a small piece of the puzzle not completely locked in place, and he suddenly became a reverse engineer. The remaining letter and pieces (aside from the letter R, which resides in the backyard) are either under Bennett’s bed or behind their dresser for safe keeping.
I am always looking for something to do with the boys that is going to cause them to think but also going to be fun. I got bubbles for them. Bubble! Awesome. They could chase them as they floated and learn about wind and all sorts of really cool stuff. Nope. The first few times were a complete bust, with them really only wanting to run around in the sun and play with flowers. Their monster bowling. That was a gutter ball, to say the least. But Ollie sure can throw a ball.
This year was their second Halloween, and we were hoping that it was going to be better than their first (like their first birthday, they slept through their first night of trick or treating, despite all the effort that I put into making their double stroller into a tank). I really wanted to take them to the pumpkin patch. I wanted them to have that quintessential Halloween experience of stepping into a field of pumpkins and picking out the one pumpkin that was just for them. Andrew and I had it all planned. We were going to take the boys to the pumpkin patch on Herndon and Villa (the one that has been there for my entire life), and where we would pick out pumpkins and take picture and have the time of our lives. One little thing… There is no longer a pumpkin patch on Herndon and Villa. Nor is there one on Herndon and Fowler, where there had been one for the last several years. In fact, we drove around for over an hour trying to find something that even remotely resembled a pumpkin patch. We checked Google. Everything on there was a lie. Ultimately, we found one the next town over. But, apparently pumpkin patches are not only few and far in between these days, but they are also under huge circus tents and not in a field (either real or staged) at all. But, hey, it was a pumpkin patch, nonetheless.
Once parked, we had to wake the boys, because by this time, they were knocked out cold in the backseat. This was not fun.
After walking around the parking lot for a few minutes, we headed over to the big white tent to pick out our family pumpkins. Bennett was not at all impressed. He was grumpy and would only walk if he was holding Daddy’s hand. Oliver was a little more independent, walking ahead of us as he usually does, but was not terribly interested either way. We walked around for a bit, trying to grow their excitement, telling them all about pumpkins and hay and all the other cool things under the tent. We encouraged them to touch the pumpkins and feel the differences in their skin: the smooth ones, the ones with ridges, and even the ones covered in warts. We talked about colors and they began to get into it. Oliver, at one point, got really excited, pointing to something behind me with overwhelming enthusiasm, and I was beginning to feel really good about the fun he was starting to have, but when I turned to see what all the commotion was about, I realized there was a McDonalds across the street.
Bennett warmed up to the experience, finding a wagon, trying to fill it with every pumpkin he could lift. The both of them pushed and pulled that wagon around the whole lot, laughing and fighting and having a great time. We got our pictures and, ultimately, the outing was a success, even if totally not according to plan. We had picked out our three pumpkins and proceeded to the register to pay where I was nearly sent into cardiac arrest. $34.00! Three pumpkin. $34.00. Insanity. I could have gotten three pumpkin of the same size from work for $7.99. I guess you really do pay for the experience.
Carving the pumpkins was something that I was very much looking forward to. I wanted them to get in there and get their hand all up in the pumpkin guts, getting dirty and gross like little boys should. I wanted them to experiment and feel different textures. Did this happen according to plan? Nope. They would only touch to the guts with a stick or a fork (Bennett even took a bite, but immediately regretted that idea). They did however really like throwing the pumpkin lids on the ground. That seemed to be a lot of fun. We separated the pumpkin seed to be cooked later, which they dumped out countless times. They lost interest in the pumpkin rather quickly, leaving me to finish the carving alone.
After spending way too much time and money on pumpkins, I more than ever wanted to stick to our little tradition (if you can call it that if it’s only been one year) of making our Halloween costumes. I had come up with the idea to go as a Lego block to my work Halloween event, so I figures we could all be Legos. I worked really hard on making those five costumes (five because one was eaten by my in-laws’ dog. Thanks Bo). I cut and fit and painted. I wanted them to be perfect. It was also cheap and creative and I liked that. Spending $8.00 on four costumes was definitely a win. But getting the boys to actually wear them… not so much a win.
After a dramatic tantrum, we finally got Bennett to wear his blue block costume, and he really embraced it after a while. It was like a coat of armor. He was running around, laughing and strutting his stuff because he knew he was cute. Oliver on the other hand fought us tooth and nail about wearing that god forsaken orange box, throwing himself on the ground and screaming at the top of his lungs anytime we tried to put it on him. We walked around the neighborhood for a while just enjoying the evening weather and family time. We were a family of three Legos and dog walking (since Oliver’s only interest was walking Turbo, we decided that his new costume was just employed toddler). Everyone whom we passed loved the costumes and vowed to steal them from us next year. We had a really good time, and we didn’t even go trick or treating. We just walked.
In the back of my head, I knew from the beginning that the odds were definitely against us with regards to the costume idea. We actually didn’t expect either of them to wear it, but I made them anyway. I wanted them to have something fun for Halloween, and in the remote possibility that they actually remember this day later on in life, I want them to remember how much we really tried to make it something special. Nothing went according to plan at all, but that’s ok. They had fun. They laughed. They fell down and got back up. They saw things and people they never saw before. They used the Lego costumes as toy houses. They enjoyed the night just being with their family and friends and that’s all I could really ever ask for.
Do I still want to make things extra special for my boys? Absolutely. But my grandiose ideas of what is special isn’t the only way to make a positive impact on their lives. They are constantly watching and learning, they just do it in their own ways, which is awesome. They may not like getting cake or pumpkin on their hands but they’ll sure poke it with a stick to see what it does. It shows imagination and the ability to think critically. They may not really have the ability to play monster bowling or build things, but they sure can take things apart in a very methodical way. They are using their brains to answer their own question and everything is an experiment and I love that. I’m never going to stop trying to go that extra mile because I want to do everything that I can to help them grow and have an amazing childhood, but I’m also going to try and be a little easier on myself when things don’t work out just how I imagine. Every moment with my boys is special, even if I don’t see it as an explosion, it may very well be to them. As I sit hear writing this post, Bennett is cuddled up next to me, eating homemade pumpkin seeds and watching my every move as my finger move across the keyboard. This is that spark, and I don’t think that I could possibly be a happier or a better mommy than I am right now and none this was ever a part of the “plan.”


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