Archives for July 2007

You Can Call Him Al – Or, You Know, Whatever

Last week Alex started swimming lessons.

I know. It’s a little late in the summer. I have no excuse. I hang my head in shame.

The first day of lessons passed without incident. Alex seemed to love his teacher right away – she was oh-so-sweet, and the little man couldn’t wait to go back the next day.

On the second day of lessons, D. wanted to take the boy to the pool so he could check out A.’s mad swimming skillz, and aside from A. having a bit of resistance to a move they call “the spider,” everything went well.

We were understandably pleased.

On Wednesday I was delighted to take Alex to his lesson since, as we all know, I can’t get enough of SITTING OUTSIDE IN THE STIFLING HEAT. But when we got to the pool, the sweet teacher from the previous two days was nowhere to be found. Another teacher, Miss Emily, was there instead, and Alex, in his typically shy fashion, walked up to her and said, “Hey. My name is Alex.” After a few pleasantries, they hopped in the pool and got started with some kicking.

I was only halfway paying attention to what they were doing because I was making a to-do list in an effort to distract myself from the realization that THE HEAT, IT JUST MIGHT KILL ME, but you can imagine my surprise when, a few minutes later, I distinctly heard Miss Emily say, “Okay, Howard. Let’s work with the kickboard.”

Howard??

I sort of shrugged internally and decided that it had to be a one-time slip-up – after all, there’s no telling how many kids cross her path in a day. Plus, she had such a huge smile on her face that it was hard to fault her.

But then:

“Great job with the kickboard, Howard!”

Which led me to an all-but-certain conclusion:

My child’s swimming instructor believed that his name was Howard.

I mean, it’s a perfectly lovely name, but, you know, NOT HIS.

Being the good Southern girl that I am, I offered correction via the semi-passive-aggressive route: by offering a little parental encouragement from my lounge chair. I said, “Way to go, ALEX” as loud as I dared, but I didn’t want to go overboard, lest the other mamas get the impression that I am a woman who attends her child’s Mother’s Day Out programs and mouths the words to the Thanksgiving songs while simultaneously offering cues for the next round of hand motions. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

And since the next few laps were uneventful, I thought maybe the issue had resolved itself.

Until Miss Emily asked Howard if he wanted to swim to the deep end of the pool.

Clearly we had a misunderstanding.

At the end of the lesson, I really wanted to set the record straight. The only problem is that as a result of All The Southernness I have a very difficult time being assertive, because what if it makes the other person uncomfortable? What if the other person thinks I’m rude?

I know, internets. I KNOW.

So I walked up to the little man and his teacher and said, “ALEX, have you thanked Miss Emily for the lesson?”

“Oh yes ma’am, Mama,” he replied.

“Well, ALEX – let’s tell Miss Emily good-bye!”

The very picture of Southern parental subtlety, I was.

The next day D. took swimming lesson duty again so that I could take care of some bloggy business, and when he came home he gave me a re-cap of the lesson over lunch. He was almost finished with his chicken tenders dinner (oh, we eat fancy around here. REAL fancy.) when he said, “Hey – here’s something sort of strange. Do you know what I think I heard Alex’s swim teacher call him during his lesson?”

“Oh, no. HOWARD?”

“Yes!” he answered. “Where in the world did ‘Howard’ come from?”

At that point I told him the whole story with which I have already bored you.

Alex didn’t have a lesson on Friday, but several times over the weekend D. and I told him that if his teacher calls him ‘Howard’ when they’re in the pool and we’re not nearby to correct her, it is perfectly fine for him to say, “My name is not Howard. My name is Alex.”

When I gave Alex these instructions for the forty seventh time, he looked at me and said, “But Mama! My teacher calls me Howard ALL DAY LONG!”

So yesterday morning, D. took Alex to swimming so that I could try to get some writing done. When they got to the pool, the little man marched right up to his teacher and said, “My name is NOT HOWARD. My name is ALEX.”

Only he said it to the first teacher. The oh-so-sweet one. The one who has never had a second’s trouble remembering his name.

And praise the Lord, she was back at the pool today.

But tomorrow? If Miss Emily is his teacher again? I’m going to make Alex a big ole “NOT HOWARD” sign. Or maybe I’ll just draw a name tag on his chest with a Sharpie:

“HELLO, MY NAME IS NOT HOWARD.”

And in little tiny letters underneath:

“My mama is sitting over there in a lounge chair. And she’s hot. So I bet she’d really appreciate it if you called me ‘Alex.’ Because IT’S MY NAME.”

And then:

“Thanks a whole bunch, sweet thing. You have a super great day.”

Four And A Quarter

– “Mama? I want a SUPER BIG HUG!”

– “Mama, I love you all much.”

– “I DID IT! Because I CAN DO! ALL THINGS! THROUGH CHRIST! WHO STRENGTHUMS ME!”

– “Oh, I MISSED YOU when you went to the store and before you came back and I’m SO glad you’re home.”

– “Let’s dance.”

– “I love movies, Mama. They’re my favorite.”

– “I love bananas, Mama. They’re my favorite.”

– “I love quesadillas, Mama. They’re my favorite.”

– “I love milk, Mama. It’s my favorite.”

– “YES MA’AM, Your Highness!” (I promise I didn’t teach him the “your highness” thing. Promise.)

– “Well, we certainly CAN have a snack when we get home. That will be fun!”

– “Dear God. Thank you for Boo and BooAlex and Alex. Thank you for Mama and BooMama and S. Thank you for Daddy and BooDaddy and D.”

– “Mama? You’re my favorite girl in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD.”

And you know what? He’s my favorite boy.

Feel free to share your favorite young’un one-liners in the comments.

And then go give said young’un lots of sweet sugar. And a SUPER BIG HUG.

An Unsolicited Helpful Hint

If you have a Better Batter and a baseball glove, you can keep two four year-old boys happily occupied for the rest of your earthly days.

Or, at the very least, for several hours on a hot summer day.

Just in case you were wondering.

She’s My Kind Of Mama

If you’ve been reading here any length of time, you may have picked up on the fact that Big Mama and I are really close friends. We’ve never seen each other in person, mind you (yes, it is quite possible to make friends ON THE COMPUTER. THROUGH BLOGGING. THE WONDERS, THEY DO NOT CEASE.), but we email a whole bunch and talk on the phone when we can. The talking part can get complicated because of the preschoolers who reside in our homes, but over the last year we’ve learned each other’s schedules well enough to time the phone calling accordingly.

For example, lately it is difficult to get me on the phone before 8:30AM, and the reason for this is that I AM NOT AWAKE YET.

On the other hand, if someone were to call between 11:30PM and 1:30AM, I’m pretty much a sure conversational thing. What with the Nightowlism and all.

Anyway, Big Mama (sidenote: I don’t know if y’all know this or not, but that’s not her real name. It’s really not. And while I’m the business of dropping bombshells: BooMama isn’t my real name, either. HARD TO BELIEVE, ISN’T IT?) and I have figured out that we generally have a good shot at a phone conversation early in the afternoons. Caroline and Alex both have snack time and rest time then, and it’s proven to be a reliable window for Big Mama and me to discuss various and sundry Terribly Important Issues: Big 12 and SEC football, Chris Tomlin, make-up, marriage, Target, Gulley and Emma Kate, future plans for our hair, Jesus, motherhood – and that’s just the tip of the conversational iceberg.

However, there are several topics that the two of us probably won’t address, ever: foreign policy, heavy metal music, computer programming, and space exploration, just to name a few.

So one day last week we got on the phone right after we had administered our respective snacks to our respective preschoolers, and we were deep in discussion about Victoria Beckham or a Beth Moore Bible Study or cheese biscuits with strawberry butter or some combination of the three, and suddenly Caroline’s crying interrupted our conversation.

I could hear Big Mama asking Caroline if she was okay, murmuring words of comfort, telling her that “you’re going to be fine, baby. You’re going to be fine.”

“Such a sweet mama,” I was thinking.

And then Big Mama capped off her Caroline-comforting with a refrain that will make me laugh for the rest of my days: “Just keep eating, baby. Just keep eating.”

Now in fairness I should tell you that Caroline had a run-in with a Dorito that left her wondering if she wanted to finish her snack, and Big Mama was just trying to let Caroline know that she didn’t have to be afraid of the remaining Doritos, that she could continue snacking with no fear of Dorito-induced harm.

But when I overheard Big Mama’s reaction, I immediately died laughing – not because I thought Big Mama was trying to teach Caroline to use food as a crutch, oh heavens no – but because it’s such a Southern thing to encourage the eating process. We enjoy our food so much down here, and we want others to enjoy it, too. Doritos are no exception. I knew that Big Mama wanted Caroline to JUST KEEP EATING because what if she was left with permanent Dorito-scarring? What if she decided that she didn’t in fact like Doritos?

It was a quality of life issue as much as anything else. Because if Big Mama let Caroline gave up on the Doritos at three, what’s to say that Caroline wouldn’t want to give up on fajitas with homemade guacamole at fifteen? That would be completely unacceptable for a young Texas girl. Completely unacceptable.

So really, when you get right down to it, what I overheard that day on the phone was a Deeply Touching Life Lesson. That’s exactly what it was.

Even still, Big Mama’s assurance that EATING MORE FOOD WILL MAKE IT ALL BETTER left me more convinced than ever that we will be friends for the rest of our lives, even if the internet explodes and our blogs erupt into fiery orange balls of HTML code.

I’m also certain that a new bloggy tagline is in order for Mrs. Big Mama:

Just keep eating, internets. Just keep eating.

On second thought, maybe I should save that one for myself.

Psalm 42

Just Like The Church Bulletin, Only Not

There’s a post on the way (eventually. really. I promise.), but I had to get these links out of my system first.

– Janice and Susan at 5 Minutes for Mom are giving away a big ole flat screen TV courtesy of Best Buy.

Cindy is taking issue with the fact that I referred to Mandisa as my pretend-BFF. And it CRACKS ME UP.

Why Mommy was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer six weeks ago, and she has some important information for all of us (link courtesy of Janice).