Monday, June 8, 2015

11 Things My Kids Do That Make My Heart Happy*

*and turn me into a big, cliché-dropping sap

My kids drive me plantains (bigger, tougher, and a little more complicated to prepare than your run o’ the mill bananas). They’re toddlers. It’s kind of in their job description. But they also counterbalance the deeply-rooted desire to rip my hair out by—well, the roots—when they do things that fill me with all da warm and fuzzies.

There are tons of things the minions do on a daily basis that make me melt faster than Frosty the Snowman sunbathing in Texas. Here are 11* of them:

*Why 11, you ask? Why not stop at 10 like the legendary—now retired—David Letterman? Well, I kind of like the symmetry of the number. As well as the fact that it's comprised of parallel lines. Nonparallel lines freak me out. They lead to collisions. And options. And options lead to making decisions, which I suck at. Hey, Mr. Frost, if two roads never diverge, you never have to deal with the anxiety of choosing one. 

Also, it consists of two “1”s, which is symbolic of my kids (they are both my #1 buds).

Orrrrrr…there actually are 10, but my motherhood-reduced-IQ caused me to somehow skip #5 altogether, so the list is mis-numbered, and I'm too tired and lazy to change it.

1. Imitate me. They say that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”* When my kids imitate me, of course I’m flattered. They want to be like me! They do love me! I must be getting at least some of this “motherhood” stuff right!

*Who is this “they” I speak of? “They” are the Google gods, and their response pops up when I offer the phrase “imitation flattery saying” on their shrine—commonly known as the “search bar”—because I can’t remember the exact wording of the quote I want to use.

Granted, this doesn’t always work out in my favor. Trystan has begun saying “Big feek mess!” whenever he spills something (for those of you not well-versed in Trystan lingo, that’s “Big FREAKIN mess”—I don’t drop the actual F-bomb around my kids). And Lord help me if they ever bust open the bathroom door while I’m putting in a tampon. While that might reduce the number of shitty diapers I have to change throughout the course of the day, they probably shouldn’t be running around plugged up like that.

However, when I catch them dancing in a horrifically awkward way or reaching for the pull-up bar*, it makes me feel like I’ve downed a pint of Butterbeer. Seeing them aspire to be like me is the greatest compliment they could give me.

*Yes, they actually ask to do pull-ups. 

Pull-ups: No longer just for potty training

2. Hug my legs. It’s pretty much as high as they can reach when I’m standing, but the warmth of those little squeezes somehow makes it all the way up to my heart. On that note:

3. Hug me like they’re never going to see me again. I wish we could all remember to do this with the people we love. Every hug—like every moment—should matter.

4. Eat.*

*When they actually do it. I’m not referring to the “eating” known as “throwing all our food on the floor and laughing hysterically about it."

I love watching my boys eat. Maybe it’s because it took me so long to actually appreciate and enjoy food, but there is something beautiful in the way they fervently shove whole strawberries in their mouths, devour turkey bacon*, and meticulously lick the icing off of a cupcake.

I can vividly recall the first time I realized just how much fun it is to watch them eat. We were on a long car trip, and I’d made the boys a PBJ for lunch. It was nothing special. In fact, it was pretty subpar compared to their usual homemade fare: two slightly stale pieces of bread, and the peanut butter and jelly that comes in those tiny single-serving packets, all slapped together at a Holiday Inn’s continental breakfast bar earlier that morning. But the way Ollie was eating it, you’d think it was the inspiration for the famous dancing banana song (which, coincidentally, we danced to all the time when they were babies). He kept biting it, pulling it back to study the little impressions his crooked teeth had made in the bread, and then grinning broadly—his teeth stained purple from the jelly—before going back for more.

Kids can find the utmost joy in the most mundane places. And it’s awesome to see. 

*Trystan thinks turkey bacon was delivered to this Earth by God himself.

"And on the 7th day, God rested. After frying up a 
pan of delicious turkey bacon for Sunday Brunch."

6. Say “Cuddle Mama” or “Sit Mama.” Is there any better feeling in the world than that of being needed?

7. Actually, just the way they say Mama in general. I love the way it pops out of their lips like a bubblegum bubble that just can’t stand the pressure of another breath. Every time they say it, it reminds me that they’ve given me the greatest gift in the world—the opportunity to be a Mama. And not just any Mama, but their Mama. 

8. Laugh hysterically together. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more beautiful sound than the carefree harmonization of my kids’ laughter—of Trystan’s maniacal, high-pitched squeals offsetting Oliver’s surprisingly low chortles. If Joy were a movie, their laughter would be its soundtrack.*

*Shit, what do you mean, it IS a movie? Why haven't we been contacted? My boys could be in the recording studio now, beefing up their college savings funds.

9. Say “Bye, Jesus!” when we say “Amen,” while pointing to the sky. For them—at least for now—the subjects of God, religion, and the afterlife are not hot topics of debate or big questions waiting to be answered. To them, it really is this simple: We talk to Jesus during prayers. Jesus is in Heaven. Heaven is in the sky.*

If only that sort of absolute, undoubting faith were as easy for the rest of us.

*I have had to clarify—on occasion—that “No, that airplane is not Jesus. And no, he's not riding in it either.”

10. Ask me to read the same story over and over and over again. Do I sometimes get tired of reading If You Give a Cat a Cupcake? Sure. But the monotony is far outweighed by the 60 cumulative pounds of cuddly toddler in my lap, and the joy of watching them proudly point out the pictures, telling me what’s going to happen before I even have a chance to turn the page.

Plus, I love that I’m raising a couple of bibliophiles (refer back to #1).

11. Smile. It means they’re happy, which means I’m doing something right. Plus, their smiles are infectious.*

(Yes, Oliver is part vampire.)

*Are you smiling yet?**

**Are you sick of asterisks yet?

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