Gen Alpha

So my children are pretty typical children of millennials. Both could unlock a phone before they could talk, and my four-year-old is genuinely disconcerted when he encounters a screen that isn’t touch-activated. (As are the owners of that screen when they discover his grubby little fingerprints all over it.)

It’s also worth noting that this happened organically. Neither my husband nor I set out to teach our children about technology, and we don’t consider ourselves crazy-connected either.

However, I didn’t realize how much their generation suffered from mine until this weekend when we finally got cable TV.

(I can hear Buzz correcting me now. It’s not cable. It comes in via fiberoptics. Whatever. Mama gets HGTV.)

They watch tv. Don’t get me wrong. They watch a LOT of tv. But until this weekend they have only watched on platforms like Netflix and Hulu and apps. They literally have never seen a commercial.

Until this weekend.

When we turned on the crazy consumer bacchanalia that is Disney Jr. and their worlds were rocked.

Rocked I tell you.

As were our eardrums.

So if anyone is interested, we will be requesting a Hot Wheels car garage and a my little pony flying unicorn and a Mickey roadster racer and a…I don’t even know.

Image via pexels.com

Buddy

Dear Buddy,

Five years ago today I took what felt like the thousandth pregnancy test since I had gotten married (three months previously) and…it was negative. I felt crampy and I was mad that I felt crampy so I took like four Aleve and went about my day with your sister, not sure why God wasn’t JUST GIVING ME A BABY ALREADY. I mean seriously. Didn’t He understand?

Later that afternoon, because anxiety doesn’t make sense, I took another test. This one- this one, there was a tiny blue line.

I was so surprised I sank to my knees in the bathroom, that horrible bathroom I couldn’t stand (even though it was objectively beautiful.) “Our boy,” I thought. I knew right then that you were my Joey, and even though I spent the next nine months convinced you would die, I couldn’t imagine life without you.

And like I wrote to you on  your birthday this year, you have changed our lives (all of our lives) in ways we never thought possible, and we will forever be thankful to you for changing the story of our family to include hope.

One year ago tomorrow morning you had to have hernia surgery. You were fine- literally home by naptime and totally happy. Never even took ibuprofen afterwards. But you were still scared- you had to be wheeled away from me crying in anesthesia, and I had to wait while they cut you open. Afterwards while we were walked to recovery with a mother who knew way too much about how this hospital operated, Daddy and I were never more appreciative of the fact that we have healthy children and get to have so many moments with you and your sister that we don’t even appreciate.

Today we got one of those moments. Squeaks went with Aunt Colleen for a special girls day, and I took you with me for what I thought would be a normal day. But you wanted a Mommy Joey day. So we had one. We got a Happy Meal and took a cuddly nap and watched TV (“Movies are too scary,” you told me) while eating Halloween cookies and cuddling on the couch. You literally kept saying “Best day ever!”

I hope I never forget that stuff. How sweet you are, how much you love cuddling. How you want to be close to someone all the time. How much you love to be cozy under a blanket. How you’re scared of the most random stuff (movies) and love British TV shows.

I hope I never forget anything.

Love,

Mommy

Second Grade 

Dear Squeaks,

Today you start second grade. SECOND GRADE. I say this about every development you make but I’ll say it again, I can’t believe it. Second grade wasn’t…um…great for me, so there are no fuzzy memories like I usually have of you doing things that I did. But I know you’re going to have a great year.

You are so bright and questioning and you’ll get to learn so much this year. By the end of the year you’ll be doing division. I know. I can’t believe it either.

You get to do the most important thing in the world this year- receive your First Communion and receive God’s forgiving grace in the Sacrament of Reconciliarion. I am so excited and so blessed to be able to teach you all of the things you need to learn and watch you experience everything you get to experience. 

Things are better than last year, emotionally. At least I think they are. I think we’re both figuring out how to react better to each other and that’s helping.

More than any of this though, you’re here. You’re here and you’re healthy and that’s all Daddy and I care about. 

I love you so much, sweetheart. Thanks for letting me be your mommy. 

Love, 

Mommy


I am 49 inches tall and 62 pounds.

I write my name like this:

,

My best friend is: Joey and Mommy and Daddy of course. 

I like to play: Solitaire by myself and tag with friends.

My favorite color is: purple.

My favorite book is: the Puppy Place series.

My favorite TV show is: I have two- Rescue Bots and My Little Pony.

My favorite food is: pizza.

When I grow up I want to be: a mommy and an art teacher! But I think I’m just going to teach my kids. 

Something I don’t like: When Joey tricks me.

Something I like about myself: I have the longest hair!

Something I want to do this year: have a pool party!

A Library Scene

Scene: Midday, suburban library. Kathleen and Squeaks and Buddy enter, and go to the front desk.

Buddy: Excuse me. I am sorry for dis book.

Librarian: Pardon.

Buddy: Dis book. I ripped it. I am sorry.

Kathleen: We need to pay for a replacement for this book.

Librarian: Ah, I see. Well, we accept your apology. Sometimes things happen. (struggles to hold back a smile.)

Buddy: I very sorry. Thank you.

Librarian: Okay, let’s see here. I’m not sure how to…*asks other librarian* Do I mark it as lost?”

Other Librarian: Well, were they just damaged or were they ripped out?

Buddy: *pipes up* Dey were ripped out. I’m sorry.

Other Librarian: (also trying not to smile) OKay then, thank you for apologizing. Yeah, just mark it as lost and they can keep the item after paying.

Kathleen: Oh. Good. A $22 board book. At least we’ve all learned something here.

Buddy: I sorry.

END SCENE.

Things Buddy Wants To Be For Halloween.

I’m sorry, I don’t mean for this blog to become omg look at my son he is so cute drooooolzzzz, but kid is in a particularly hilarious stage lately. 

1.) A priest. (Awww! My heart! It is warmed! I am a good mother!)

2.) A ninja priest. (Say what?)

3.) A ghost priest. (Um…)

4.) A turtle.

5.) A baby turtle. (Well yeah, don’t leave cute points on the table.)

6.) Darth Vader. (I think this is just a ploy to get to wear his uncle’s cherished collectible mask.)

7.) A ghost. (Me: “Aww, like a cute ghost?” Buddy: “No. A ghost to scare people.” Oookay.)

8.) Sarah (of Sarah and Duck.)

9.) Duck (of Sarah and Duck.)

10.) A conductor. (Me: “Like on a train?” Buddy: *scoffs* “No. Like to teach people music.” Gosh, Mommy.)

Taking Your Four Year Old to the Dentist For the First Time In 15 Easy Steps

1.) Ignore recommendations by literally every single major child-health organization that they should definitely see a dentist before they’re four because pssh that’s ridiculous he’s your baby and if he’s not your baby anymore maybe you need to have another baby and ugh can’t deal with that right now how many teeth can he have, really?

All of them?

Oh. Okay.

2.) Make appointment for four-year-old and his big sister so that he can see how not scary it is. Also you can only have to skip one afternoon of napping. But mostly the emotional trauma. (Mostly the nap. Shhh.) Make appointment for their father’s summer vacation for maximum number of soothing hands/voices involved and a chance for him to get to see what your life of herding cats is really all about.

3.) Tell four-year-old repeatedly about the appointment. Beam in happiness as he gets genuinely excited about being a big boy and think with pride about how wonderful he’s going to do just waltzing in there for the first time.

4.) Arrive at dentist’s office, both kids excited for their appointments. Four-year-old begins telling office staff and other patients in the waiting area about how this is his first time and he is pretty excited. Feel smugly adorable.

5.) Go back with Big Sister for her appointment. Four-year-old seems to do really well. He stands next to you and calmly takes in the scene.

6.) Realize he’s not standing calmly so much as literally shaking.

7.) Assure four-year-old that it will be okay. Look at how well Big Sister is doing!

8.) Have four-year-old start whimpering and then full-on crying and clinging to your body like a spider monkey.

9.) Give up on having him be on his own in the chair and lay down underneath him, cradling his little shaking body and murmur soothingly to him whilst getting sprayed with grape toothpaste and gunk from between your kid’s never-professionally-cleaned teeth. Mmmm.

10.) Not really  mind because he picked you over Daddy.

11.) Have dentist tell you that his bottom teeth are cracked and ask if you know when that happened. Shrug and respond, “Frankly I’m surprised he still has teeth. This kid has no fear.”

12.) Walk out of room with four-year-old who is now all puffed up with bravery and saying things like, “Me pretty brave. Uh-huh.”

13.) Tell him you’re so proud of him and that you can’t wait to see him be brave again in six months when you come back.

14.) Watch as his face falls and his spider monkey tendencies come back. “NO ME COME BACK. I ALL DONE!!!! I BRAVE!!!”

15.) Figure out how many teeth he can actually exist with because ugh this is so much work, y’all.

Foodie

Buddy is a bad eater.

Like, really bad.

I remember sitting in the hospital bed trying to feed him the morning after he was born and he wouldn’t take the damn bottle for ANYTHING and thinking “I’m sure he’s just tired. This will get easier.”

It did not get easier.

It got worse.

At one point, he had five bottles a day. Each bottle took me an hour to get in him. A literal hour. I spent five hours a day bouncing and dancing and sitting quietly trying to get him to fall juuuuust enough asleep that he would take it but not enough asleep that he would choke and die because I’m lazy, not awful.

As a toddler he refused to eat real food and was on a steady diet of Gerber 1st foods until he was two and a half. TWO AND A HALF. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY LITTLE CONTAINERS OF OATMEAL A THIRTY POUND TWO AND A HALF YEAR OLD GOES THROUGH?

A LOT.

WE HAD TO REFINANCE OUR HOUSE PRACTICALLY.

I took him to ENT specialists and feeding specialists and whatever, turns out it was just Buddy.

We’ve been able to work out most of it, and he at least consents to eating some food sometimes now. But mostly, he subsists on a diet of wheat bread (sometimes toasted), frozen mini pancakes, and whatever cookies he can glean from his grandmas.

(Which explains why his full diapers are a once-a-week occurrence and smell like a tire fire.)

I mean, you all read the Super Why saga.

I still try though. Every night I force him to eat two or three bites of the dinner I make and then go back to whatever bread product I’ve shoved in front of him to make the screaming stop. There’s always yelling. Sometimes crying. Occasionally dumping the food onto my plate and demanding that I eat it because “IS NOT MINE MOMMY.”

You know, totally normal shit.

Tonight I made beef and broccoli over rice. I gritted my teeth and shoved a spoonful in front of his face.

He beamed.

And ate the whole bowl, barely stopping to chew.

And then he ate another bowl.

Even the broccoli.

Yeah. The kid for whom McDonald’s french fries are “too spicy” and who routinely rejects pasta that has been cooked in oil (Not served with oil. COOKED IN IT.) and toast with butter on it as being weird went to town on a crockpot Chinese dish.

I don’t even know but I’m super excited.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to put soy sauce on a bowl of that stupid fake Super Why cereal and see if we can’t get rid of a few boxes.


 

How to Attend a Baseball Game With Your Obnoxious Small Children


1.) Tell them eight thousand times that you’re going to the baseball game tonight. TONIGHT. THIS EVENING. THINGS WE NORMALLY DO AT HOME TONIGHT WILL NOT TAKE PLACE.

2.) Have them yell at you because “You never told me we were going?!?!?”

3.) Ram head into wall.


4.) Arrive late at the game because you can’t get your stuff together and need to run errands by yourself while the kids stay in the car with your poor husband. Who is starting to grouse about not actually getting to the game.

5.) Arrive at game. Walk six miles to get to stadium. Walk two miles to get to seat. Sit down. “Mommy? Can I have pizza?”

6.) Go on an eight thousand year odyssey to find pizza which used to be ALL OVER THE DAMN PLACE and is NOW NOT. It is in one corner on the first floor and you can only get whole pizzas and it takes 7-10 minutes.

7.) Get text from husband saying, “Squeaks doesn’t want pizza anymore. She wants cheese fries.” Reply, “Too bad.”

8.) Stop at bar to get your first cocktail. Give them a kidney for a thimblefull of sweet, sweet nectar.

9.) Return to seat. Watch five seconds of baseball.

10.) Leave on a five-thousand year journey to get dinner for yourself.

11.) Stop at bar to get second cocktail. Give them final kidney. Receive another long island.

12.) Return to seat to clamoring for ice cream or dippin dots or whatever. Say no, you are done walking around and if people want something they can go try to get it themselves yes I know you’re only seven see ya.

13.) Sit quietly by yourself and think about the games you attended when you were young and cute and thing and free. So many cute t-shirts. So much flirting. So much fun. So few pizza runs.

14.) So few tension veins running down your forehead.


15.) Decide life is really better now because your husband doesn’t mind if you scoop nachos out of your cleavage after dropping it.

16.) And your kids are pretty cute.

17.) But your shirts are less so.

18.) Arrive home three hours after bedtime.

19.) Suffer through two days of crankiness.

20.) Begin planning next time because it was actually pretty fun.

Four

Dear Buddy,

You turned four yesterday, and I cannot believe it.


Four is huge. Four is a big kid. If I had more confidence in the school system, you’d be starting kindergarten in the fall. That’s insane. Your big sister celebrated her fourth birthday while you were already here. (I think. I don’t really remember. Those are the dark times.)

I’m so proud of who you’ve become, Buddy. You are a kind, sweet, hilarious little guy. You love your sister and your cousins and me and Daddy with a sweetness and an intent that is yours alone. I am so blessed to be your mommy.


We had a rough start, you and me, Buddy. You were in trouble. I was in trouble. Neither of us were terribly happy to be where we were. But since the beginning, I have loved you so much I knew I would die for you. From the minute I sank to my knees when I saw the faintest blue line on the test I thought I was taking just to be crazy, I knew you were my little boy and Eva’s little brother and Daddy’s son and maybe even redemption for your grandparents.

And Buddy, you have been all of that, and more. Grandpa Joe wrote me a letter when you were brand new, and I still have it upstairs on the shelf in my bedroom. I read it when I want to remember where we were. I was struggling. A lot. He told me that he knew how much I loved you, but that I would end up enjoying you more than I ever thought possible.


He was totally right. When I get to see your smiling little overbite grin in the morning, and cuddle with you and have you try to sit on my head to get as close to me as possible because you love me, I enjoy you so much- so much more than I ever thought it was possible to enjoy another person. You and your sister are the biggest joys in my life and I can’t believe I am lucky enough to raise you.

I love you, Buddy. I can’t wait to spend this year with you watching you grow as a four-year-old.

Love,

Mommy

A Conversation with my Son

Buddy turns four next week, and my sister always makes this gorgeous photo book commemorating his year. I refuse to let her stop. I made her do it when she was seven months pregnant. I’m making her do it now that that pregnancy has turned into a honey badger who needs to be breastfed constantly. I’m sorry. They’re too good.

This year she interviewed him, and because she’s a reporter we have a transcript of it. Enjoy.

Aunt: How are you, Joey?

Buddy: I not feeling well.

A: Oh, you’re not?

B: I’m boring.

A: No, you’re not. You’re the most interesting little man I’ve ever met.

He was complaining of being bored. Along with not being able to entertain himself, he can’t figure out parts of speech. 

A: Okay. Well, Joey, I have a couple of questions for you. Do you have a few minutes to talk?

B: Yes.

A: Okay. These are very important questions, okay?

B: What the racecar say to the giraffe?

A: What did it say?

B: You chip your tooth?

(Laughter all around)

We are taking this very seriously. 

A: Okay, Joey, I have a question for you. What is your favorite TV show?

B: Pocoyo.

Shocker.

A: What is your favorite food?

B: Um. Super Why cereal.

I KNOW I BLOGGED IT OKAY.

A: What is a food that you don’t like?

B: Apple sauce.

When was the last time I even tried to make you eat apple sauce, kid?

A: What do you wear that makes you feel the most stylish?

B: My suit.

I’ll say. He introduced himself to our new priest as “Stylish Joey.” That’s a great parenting moment right there.

A: What is your favorite movie to watch on Netflix?

B: Racecars.

A: Would that be the one with Mater?

B: Yeah. And Lightning Stack Aqueen.

A: Who?

B: (shouting) LIGHTNING STACK AqQUEEN.

Mommy: Lightning McQueen.

Fool. 

A: What is your favorite musical instrument?

B: Bells.

Mommy: Bells?

B: Yeah, they’re so loud. Ding ding! Like that.

A: That’s such a good answer, Joey.

B: Thank you.

This is why I drink.

A: What is your favorite book to read?

B: When I go to sleep, I close my eyes and the memories take me home.

Mommy: The memories take you home?

Squeaks: (in background) it’s a song that he likes.

B: Yeah.

We are raising Gaelic Storm groupies.

A: What is your favorite song, Joey?

B: My lullaby.

A: The Go, Joey, Go one?

B: Yeah.

Oh my baby. 

A: What is your favorite thing to do with Mommy?

B: (long pause) Run around in the grass like a circle.

Funny, it’s Mommy’s least favorite thing to do. 

A: What do you like to do when Daddy is around?

B: My sister and I want to play with my mommy.

Score one for mommy.

Mommy: But what do you like to play with Daddy?

B: I like playing with Daddy with swing balls. You know dat? You kick da ball and you throw it to people on da nudder side. To two people.

A: Very fun.

B: Ask me questions.

We begin to enjoy fame.

A: Joey, what do you want to be when you grow up?

B: A rock star.

A: Joey, do you like going to church on Sundays?

B: No.

Mommy: (gasps) You love church!
A: I don’t think that’s true.

We try desperately to save the situation. 

B: (sounds of uncontrollable laughter)

He know he bad.

A: What do you like about church?

B: Playing with Nate outside.

Real presence? No? Just playing with our friends? Okay whatever. 

A: How old are you going to be?

B: Four.

A: That’s pretty old, right?

B: Yeah. Pre-tty old.

Almost ready for social security. 

A: One more question. What was your favorite thing that you did this year? Mommy can help you think of something.

B: My swimming lessons! I go underwater.

A: Did you meet anybody at swimming lessons?

B: I meet that girl.

A: There was a girl?

B: The girl. She so pretty.

Mommy: Tell us about the pretty girl.

B: She has two eyes.

A good place to start.