You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand

I (sometimes) enjoy observing the social interaction between the boys. At 8 years old, Boy One is becoming old enough to understand the merits of bargaining, cooperation, extortion, and manipulation. Boy Two still sticks with his old standby of brute physical force.  It’s a constant battle of brains versus brawn and I just sit back and watch it play out.

A few days ago, Boy Two received a painting craft as a gift. Paint is something of an anomaly at our house, and you’ve probably read enough of my posts to understand why, so this was a big deal.  He talked about it nonstop for days as he waited for me to finally decide it was worth it to risk my carpet just to get him to shut up about the stupid paint. I figured Boy One would throw a fit over the injustice of only Boy Two receiving a painting craft, but he didn’t say a word. “I guess he’s just not that worried about it,” I thought, but I underestimated him. He had a plan.

When it was finally painting day, Boy Two excitedly laid out his paints and went right to work. A few minutes later, I looked in to see Boy One working diligently with the paints while Boy Two played Minecraft. Both seemed content so I didn’t get involved. When the painting was finished, Boy Two thanked his brother profusely for completing it for him.

With that success under his belt, Boy One moved on to his next conquest. Within minutes, he was “helping” Boy Two build a structure in Minecraft while Boy Two watched. He even suggested that Boy Two cover his eyes so he could be “surprised” at the end result when Boy Two tried to exercise a little too much creative control over the structure.

This is a risky game that Boy One is playing because Boy Two is significantly stronger than him and he knows it, but so far we’re at Brains – 2, Brawn – 0 for the evening.

Take it on the run, baby

Boy One has this specific wooden rocking chair, designed for a child half his size, that he uses to sit directly in front of the TV when he’s watching YouTube videos. He has to do this because the videos are so annoying that I won’t let him turn the volume above 5 because I care more about my sanity than his retinas.

Anyway, on the rare occasions that Boy One ventures out of this special chair, Boy Two swoops in and steals it just to be a jerk. A huge (usually physical) fight ensues which ends in one or both of them injured and/or crying.

Today, The Girl decided to see what all the fuss is about with this chair, especially since it was originally brought here for her. She pestered Boy One until he finally paused his video to get up and get her a pink plastic chair as a substitute. Just like she learned from Boy Two, she seized the opportunity and pounced into the prized rocking chair.

I braced myself for the usual shrieking and prepared to intervene before he took out his wrath on her the same as he would Boy Two. Then this happened:


I don’t really want to get her going. I just want to watch my show in peace. 

Very smart, son. You will make a good husband someday. A few minutes later, I look over and see this:


And you, my girl, will make a typical wife.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

So the main attraction at the Great Wolf Lodge resorts is supposed to be the huge, completely awesome, indoor water park. It’s actually a decent deal because your water park passes are included with your hotel stay, but they make their money off of people like us:

Boy One is the perfect combination of addictive personality and electronics junkie and he can not – CAN NOT – walk by an arcade without going inside. When he’s in the arcade, he is in his element, along with all of the other scrawny, pasty kids that look like their eyes haven’t left the screen or seen sunlight in about two years. He probably has the makings of a fairly serious gambling addiction. He enters the arcade like he is Rain Man (or Alan from The Hangover), coming down the escalator, ready to count some cards. I should probably discourage this behavior or preemptively send him to some Gambling Anonymous classes or something, but it’s actually kind of fun to watch him do his thing.

So anyway, I play the part of Charlie Babbitt and enter the arcade behind him. He pauses to get the lay of the floor and scope out the hot machines. He first goes for a claw game full of rolls of tickets. He expertly maneuvers the claw and nets 125 tickets in one grab.  Bam! Then he moves on to a wheel-spinning game and gains another 40. He’s on a streak and it continues for the 45 minutes that my $75 worth of tokens lasts. He ends up with about 700 tickets and he’s happy with his take. Then comes the fun part.

With the money I spent, which took me roughly half of a workday to earn, he can cash in his tickets for a small pillow shaped like a smiley face, a two-ounce bottle of disappearing ink, or a miscellaneous combination of single pieces of candy and slappy bracelets. Hey, at least he got 45 minutes worth of fun out of it though, right?

But he has his eye on this “Annoying Orange” talking plush toy, which is apparently the brand of some “You-Tuber” that he is a follower of. Most of these You-Tubers are incredibly annoying, and this one even has the word “annoying” in its name so you know it has to be one of the worst. He doesn’t have nearly enough tickets, so I’m trying to explain to him that he needs to pick something else when The Husband comes up to tell me he’s figured out how to beat the house. There is a Connect Four game – winner gets 50 tickets and loser gets 20 tickets, so we’re guaranteed 70 tickets each game. So, rather than teaching Boy One to live within his means and avoid excessive gambling, we spend another $15 on tokens and play each other on Connect Four while the tickets pour in and Boy One cheers us on. And yes, a portion of our drive home was spent calculating how many tokens we would have needed to buy to get the 20,000 tickets for the Xbox prize (about $600 worth) while listening to the Annoying Orange incessantly repeat its three annoying phrases until Boy Two thankfully managed to “accidentally” break it. $90 well spent.

We do what we can

So Mother’s Day is today, girls. That’s the day we get recognition for all of our special maternal achievements over the past year.  Don’t forget to also pat yourself on the back for all of the things you did over the past year just to get by. Give yourself a pat on the back for every time you:

  1. Sat your kids in front of a questionable video game so you could take a two-hour bubble bath.  Extra points if you made them share their bath water so you wouldn’t have to wait on hot water.
  2. Used your diaper bag to lug in the 1.5 liter bottle of cheap wine that you plan to drink over the next week – or two days.
  3. Drove around the block twice before pulling into your babysitter’s driveway so you could finish listening to that song that you can’t listen to with them in the car.
  4. Gave them the answers (or just straight up forged their handwriting) on a homework assignment because you couldn’t face the painstaking task of watching them complete it. (Hint: Use your left hand)
  5. Safely righted your vehicle after precarious swerving caused by flailing your right arm in the backseat hoping to swat someone (anyone) in a futile effort to make them stop fighting.
  6. Picked them up late because you had to run by the pharmacy to get that much-needed refill on your anti-anxiety, anti-depression, anti-psychotic, anti-whatever-it-takes meds.
  7. Had the following conversations:
    1. Did you use soap? Are you sure? Then let me smell you.
    2. Onions? Absolutely not. Those are just spices.
    3. Are you seriously pooping right now? Why now? You’ve had all morning! I don’t have time for this!
    4. If you don’t eat those pizza rolls, you’re not getting any chips.
    5. Yes, we do brush our teeth on Fridays.

I’m also patting myself on the back for having the foresight to take a vacation day tomorrow and, yes, I’m considering being that mom that still takes the baby to the babysitter even though she’s at home.  I’m thinking absurdly long bubble bath, fried food smorgasbord, day drinking and binge-watching Netflix, finished off with a nap.

Happy Mother’s Day to me and all moms.  We do what we can.