Friday, June 22, 2012

One Week

In the past seven days I have pulled two hair ties, an orthodontic gum band, three leaves, dog food, and one staple out of the mouth of my nine-month old. 

I have talked one Monkey off the ledge and dragged another to the same ledge and threatened to throw her off.   
I have slathered sunscreen and shoveled cheerios.  I have explained the scientific principles of roller coasters and calmed 7 year old All Star nerves.  
I have chauffeured children and celebrated 8 years of marriage. 
I have run 14 miles and eaten my weight in poor food choices. 
I have refereed fights and run parental interference.  I have rescued “guys” and righted wrongs, both real and imagined. 
And I have reminded myself, more than once, that this...

 is why I didn’t get on the plane. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Four Monkeys and an Airplane

The clock on the wall read 12:35 AM.  We had been at it for hours.  Our words tumbling around and around like laundry in the dryer.  Should we go?  Could we go? 
The room was lit only by the bluish glow of the smartphone screen as I silently searched for travel insurance information.  We scoured for cancellation policy details but it was not necessary.  The answer was there.  Written all over our tear-stained faces.  Obvious in the lines of concern that creased our foreheads. 
It would be a moderately expensive mistake but one well worth it. 
We found out that we just aren’t’ those people.  We aren’t’ the people who can vacation without their kids. 
Now I could have told you this about the Monkey Maker.  No great shock there.  But me?  Never would have guessed it.
And yet there I was, six hours away from our time of departure, suggesting that we just stay home.  And meaning it.
The trip was lovely in theory, a wonderful opportunity. 
But there are lots of theories that don’t’ pan out…
After we agreed not to go we both breathed a sigh of relief.  We hugged for a long time and sent a text to my mother-in-law sleeping in the downstairs bedroom.  It read, “We aren’t going to go.”  The response, “I’m not at all surprisedJ
What can I say, the woman knows her kids.
In the morning, Monster Monkey was the first to rise.  He tore out of the back bedroom at 5:55 AM.
“Mom,” he nudged me on my makeshift bed on the floor, “You overslept! Did you miss your plane?” 
"Nope, we didn't miss the flight." I explained, "We just didn’t go, we couldnt' leave you guys."  He sheepishly buried his head in my chest and gave me a bear hug.  The relief was tangible and real. He had been so stoic the night before as the Monkeys went to bed, “holding it together” for the smaller kids who were more forthcoming about their devastation at the thought of our departure. 
His next question, however, was…less cute.  “Do we have to go home with you?”   His lower lip quivered as his beautiful features contorted into the “cry face” …you know the one I’m talking about.  
My in-laws, God bless them, had volunteered to watch the kids during our trip.   ALL FOUR OF THEM.  They had an itinerary planned for the week that would put Walt Disney to shame.  While we were in Key West, our children were going to be at amusement parks, museums, beaches, pools, aquariums….and that was just on the first day. 
So as I looked deeply into his beautiful blue eyes, giant wet tears hanging from his lashes and thought, "If we hurry, we can still make our flight."
But instead I assured him that he and his fellow Monkey's would most certainly get to have fun with Kimmie Jenny and Mom-Mom Pop-Pop. 
Monster Monkey later very graciously offered us to come along with them on their planned adventures and we gladly accepted the offer.  
In the end the trip turned out to be a wonderful opportunity even though we didn't go.  Instead we learned just how much we love our kids.  Just how much we enjoy being with them. 

All too often something terrible has to happen to make us appreciate how blessed we are.  We count ourselves lucky to learn this lesson for the bargain basement price of the cost of two tickets to paradise.   

And to this Momma, that was priceless. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right

It took two and a half years but last week the towel bar in our powder room fell out of the wall.  Poor installation?  Shotty workmanship on the part of the builder?


It was strudy enough to withstand even the heaviest of towels, but not the weight of a Monkey. 

Which Monkey, you ask? 

This Monkey...the Monkey in the Middle.

From the day he was born I could have told you he'd be the one to test the towel bar.  It's just his style.  Ingrained into the very molecular structure of his DNA.  He is "that kid."  

As a baby he didn't hand out smiles like the other Monkey's, you had to work for his affection.  He would stare at you stoically, dead pan look on his cherebic little face. 

If you could read his thoughts you would imagine them saying, "look at this clown...he thinks I'm gonna give him a smile. Not a chance, sucker."

But for me he would always smile.  Still does.  He is my snuggle-puppy, my little lovey-button. 

He looked at me with hazel eyes as big as dinner plates.  Fringed with long, dark lashes, a dusting of tiny freckles gently sprinkled across his the bridge of his nose.  "Do you think I'm going to get promoted?"  he asked me earnestly. 

Where he had heard such a big word with such a big meaning is beyond me.  For certain his big brother had never uttered those words - Monster Monkey never questioned for a moment that he would move on to the next grade, his only inquiry may have been, how fast?

But the Middle Monkey, he's a different breed of cat. 

He's the one who will try anything once.  And is likely to try it two or three times after that. 

Voted in our family most likely to be in an up-side-down position, he is perpetual motion with a side of laughter.  He hears everything but rarely listens.  He is too busy trying to keep up with the Monster. 
At five years old he was the lead off hitter for his baseball team.  At that age Monster was only toddling around the T-ball league.

We try to explain this to the Middle Monkey.  Explain that he isn't supposed to be as big, and fast as his older brother, but the sentiment is lost as he races to catch up. 

He doesn't understand, can't comprehend how amazing he really is.  He wants so badly to hit a homerun like his big brother, that he discounts how incredible it was that he hit a double.  

He hangs his head and his shoulders sag in defeat.  He sighs, "I wish I could  ___f_i_l_l_in the_b_l_a_n_k __ like Monster." 

I can feel his frustration.  I want him to know how wonderful I think he is. 

"We already have a Monster," I tell him, "we need you, to be you."

You, that will take any two inanimate objects and turn them into "fighting guys."  Pieces of fruit, pens, the two parts of a seatbelt.

You, that was in no hurry to learn to sit up on your own because things were just as entertainng from the horizontal position.  

You, that loves to sleep, any time, any where, as long as you have "Puppy."   You still put yourself to bed when you deem it is time. 

You, that make us laugh.

You, that make us proud. 

You, that made me sure that I was supposed to be a Mom. 

Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for my Monkey in the Middle.  I absolutely adore you, Middle Monkey.  I could not love you more.