Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

One More Thing December 17, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — The B Side @ 9:59 am
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I was feeling quite proud of myself.  After all, I didn’t have to do any last minute Christmas shopping this year.  With over a week to go, all the presents were bought and wrapped and placed under the tree.

That is, until I heard Jay asking Ace if Christmas was on 25.  (Meaning December 25th)  “Why yes it is” Ace confirmed.  Then Jay asked how many more days there were until 25.  “9 more days” Ace replied.  They both ran over to the calendar and counted down the days together.  There was a certain sweetness in both their voices that I don’t hear often.  I’m used to the loudness and the angst and the urgency that accompanies most of the things they say.  This exchange was different.  I lingered in the bathroom – out of sight – taking it all in.  They were having a real life back and forth conversation.  There was an air of peaceful excitement as they moved from the calendar to the tree.

That’s when Jay said “We get to open presents on 25 (?)”.  It was a little difficult to tell if he was asking a question or just making a statement.  But Ace told him yes and reminded him that there were only 9 days to go.  I finally emerged from my hiding spot and Jay pointed to the tree and said “Mom, little Thomas is there.”

Ahm … *thinking really hard about what he could mean* … “What baby?”

He said it again, quite unphased by my lack of understanding, “On 25, little Thomas is there.”

Ace pulled me aside and whispers to me, “Oh Mom, I know what he’s talking about.”  Ace told me all about the toy catalogs that the kids have been browsing through since before Halloween and about how every time they look through them Jay points to a small Thomas The Tank Engine toy and says he wants that for Christmas.  I couldn’t believe it.  The boys haven’t been into Thomas for some time now.  Years actually.  Unlike previous years, there were NO train toys under the tree this year.  There are animal things and Power Ranger things but no train things.

But I can’t let my boy down.  Not when I have waited so long for him to be able to tell me what he wants and not when he’s doing such a great job of patiently waiting for “25” so he can get it (over 2 months) and not when it’s clear that Ace so badly wants his brother to have his wish.  He even wants to be the one to wrap it for his brother.  He actually feels badly because he knew all along that Jay wanted that toy and he forgot to ask Santa for it on his behalf.

The good thing is that I can pick up a Thomas toy pretty much anywhere and there’s no need to go to the mall and battle with people over parking spots or the last of the popular toy on the shelf the week before Christmas.  There will definitely be a little Thomas under the tree for Jay on 25.

 

Minty Delights December 8, 2014

There was 1 little hiccup while we were putting up our Christmas decorations.

 

No, it wasn’t when I first took out the tubs of stuff.

 

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That was great.  The boys were excited and both announced that they wanted to help and they DID.  I kept having to ask them to move a little more slowly because they were taking things out at a much faster pace than I was putting them up/together/in order.  It was great seeing them pull out item after item that they hadn’t seen in almost a year.  Memories flooded back from previous years.   Jay piling strings of silver beads on his head and driving Thomas trains on the tree branches.  Ace singing Jingle Bells and writing up cards for his classmates.  The cat climbing the tree and knocking it over; actually breaking it.

 

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We also didn’t have any issues with the stringing of the lights.  No problems with the lifting of the TV to put the red tablecloth underneath.  It was no sweat hanging the decorations onto the tree.  Jay was happy to hang the ones that come with a built-in hanger-upper-thingy.  Ace was happy to hang the ones that needed hooks attached.  They didn’t fight over who should put the star on top or which tree skirt we should use.

 

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They (mostly Ace) were happy to pose for pictures and Jay, who is not usually very far away from his iPad, drew us a picture.

 

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I don’t know why I look like I go to the same tanning place as the Grinch and Shrek.

 

Nope all that was fun.  We ran into trouble at the very end.  When it was time for the candy canes.

Look at these things.  Don’t they look innocent?

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They’re so pretty and yummy and festive.  We even have candy cane covers to make them even MORE fun.

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Except that this year Jay didn’t want to use the cute candy cane covers.  He REALLY wanted the candy canes to be naked.  Which would have been fine had Ace not REALLY wanted to use the covers.

Que the yelling.

Candy Cane Covers.

That’s what put a wrench in our Christmas decorating wheel.  If I wasn’t in the thick of it – getting pulled in 2 different directions – I’d almost think it was funny.

 

Jay wasn’t 100% happy about it but we managed to find a compromise and get past that snafu.  Also now, whenever Jay gets to eat a candy cane from the tree (about one a day) he discreetly chooses one that has a cover and leaves the cover “hidden” behind our TV stand.  Ace hasn’t noticed as yet.  Well played Jay, well played.   Ace doesn’t like candy canes so he doesn’t get to pay Jay back by eating the naked candy canes.  We’ll see how it goes the next time I buy a new pack of the minty delights.

 

The Brotherhood June 3, 2014

Lord have mercy on me they fight. They fight over the dumbest things. Whose turn is it to put the strawberry powder in the milk. Whose turn is it to feed the cat or the fish or the turtle. How long will I let one play with the others ones toy before I return it to the rightful owner. Who should get which blanket. Who should get into the car first. Who should hold the Cheetos. Who cleaned up more than whom. The blue bean bag or the green been bag. The list is endless. ENDLESS!!!

 

It wears me down and I find myself doing that angry whisper several times a day. The one where you want to yell but you are trying really hard not to. Sometimes I give them time to sort it out themselves but they never do. It always escalates and turns into pushing and hitting and kicking. Then I have no choice but to intervene.

 

People tell me this is normal. People who either have brothers of their own or who have multiple sons. I have no clue. I grew up as an only child. I had my own everything. My friends and neighbours and cousins were girls. We didn’t fight. We played with My Little Pony and we climbed trees and we swung and we made fake pies out of mud and ketchup. We re-enacted Michael Jackson music videos. We formed a neighbourhood club that raised money for community service projects and we made pom poms out of plastic bags. We were those kinds of kids. We didn’t play games called “kill brother” and we didn’t try to throw each other off furniture or down the stairs.

 

And then …

 

Then they play. And they hug. And they love.

 

It is my favourite thing ever. To see them together laughing and coming up with plans and sharing and cooperating. It happens everywhere. At the pool, at the park, on the couch, in bed … It’s superb. Sometimes Ace leads the activity and Jay follows. Sometimes Jay is the one taking charge and Ace lets him. They build forts and they play tag and they dive for goggles and they script TV show and movie lines. It’s so much fun for me to see and hear them. I’m always trying to catch it on video or camera. Sometimes I feel guilty because it feels like I’m spying on a sacred  bond and special moment in their lives. Something I will never understand. I try not to intrude and break their spell but it’s like a drug to me. I can’t keep away.

Sometimes when we are out Ace gets a little bossy but it’s his way of protecting his brother. Even though I am there, Ace will tell Jay what he can and cannot do. It’s so cute. Ace also translates for Jay. It’s like he thinks he’s the only one who speaks Jays language. I have to tell him that I get it. There’s no need for him to translate for me. But it makes me smile.

Jay is definitely not a follower.  As a general rule, he does his own thing and makes up his own mind but he looks up to and trusts Ace. That in and of itself is big and I hope that as Ace gets older, he realizes that it’s not to be taken lightly.  While Ace will jump into new things head first, Jay is more cautious and likes to wait and see and make sure first. I have noticed though that if Ace tells Jay that something is ok, he believes him. He wouldn’t choose it, but if Ace wants to go on what looks like a big, scary roller coaster, Jay will try it too. If Ace wants to jump into the deep end, Jay will jump too. If Ace wants to climb on rocks or roll down a grassy hill or walk barefoot, well, Jay’s climbing and rolling and walking right along with him. For no other reason than he trusts his big brothers judgment and he wants to do what his big brother is doing. Even though it looks a little intimidating, if Ace says it’s fun to go under the mushroom water fall then it must be. The only thing Jay sticks to his cautious ways with is trying new foods. He’s not eating a hot dog no matter how good Ace says it tastes.

 

I wish they would be the happy, playing, getting-along brothers all the time and there would be no fighting ever but until that day comes, I will keep playing my role of peace-maker and chief-toy-negotiator and injury-preventer. I will also keep taking pictures and videos like a creepy stalker.

 

Oh and if anyone wants a turtle, just say the word. You can have ours for free. No-one will fight you over that.

 

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A Kind Of Sleepover May 14, 2014

My sons share a bedroom and in that bedroom they sleep in bunk beds. Ace on the top and Jay on the bottom.

 

I was lounging in bed watching TV and writing a post about a hard day at the store when I heard a loud crash. It didn’t sound like a kid had fallen of a bed and there’s really nothing on a dresser or wall that could have fallen but something had fallen from somewhere and it was loud.

 

I ran to the kids room where I saw a big plastic hot-wheels cars case on the floor where it had not been a few minutes earlier.

Ace’s head popped up when I entered the room and he launched into:

Hi Mom, I’m sorry I dropped it but I was making room for Jay. I asked him if he wanted to come and sleep in my bed with me kind of like a sleep over and he said yes.”

 

Sure enough, there Jay was … In Ace’s bed, under a bundle of blankets and pillows. His head peeked out and he was wearing a smile.

I climbed up on the ladder, kissed each one on his head and went back to my own room.

They both stayed in that top bunk and slept all night.

 

It’s never easy to write about the meltdowns, but it was made easier that night because I knew I had this post waiting in the wings.

The “sleep over” that the boys had was just what I needed in that moment to feel better about the relationship that they have.

 

When An Innocent Mistake On My Part Yields Something Good For Me October 30, 2013

Ace’s school hosted a Halloween fun night.  They had a Haunted House, Arts and Crafts, a Story Room and a Movie Room.

When we got there, wouldn’tcha know, all the kids were dressed in costume.  All the kids, except mine.

It hadn’t even crossed my mind to whip out the Captain America and Ninja Turtle costumes so I had dressed my 2 in “going out” clothes.

 

Since we don’t dress up very often and since I’m always trying to get a nice picture of my sons together, which has turned out to be as difficult to get as a picture of the Lochness monster, I asked them to pose for me before we headed out the door.

Which they did.

Then, Ace volunteered to take a picture of me and Jay.

Then Jay said “my turn” and took the camera from Ace’s hands.  (That was a first)

 

On their behalf, I’m really quite sorry that the kids missed an opportunity to wear their costumes but for myself, I’m really quite pleased with the pictures that I got as a result.

 

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Happy Torn June 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — The B Side @ 12:20 pm
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It was a gorgeous Sunday and the boys had just gotten hair cuts. The next step was to go to the grocery store but our plans made a left turn and we ended up at the neighbourhood pool.

I wasn’t at all sure how Jay would like it. He’s been tentative about water play so far this summer and it took him a long time to even let the sprinklers at the park wet him.

Last year at the pool, Jay refused to take his shirt off. He also refused to take his shoes off and spent most of the time chasing butterflies and eating snacks. I would’ve been OK if he did that again this year. As long as he’s safe I’m OK with whatever makes my boy happy. I no longer put my own expectations on him. *How far I’ve come*

 

Once we got to the pool, Ace found some friends of his from the Boys & Girls Club so he was off and splashing. Jay, following Ace’s lead, took off his shirt and shoes.  My eyes got wide but I try not to make a big deal about him doing new things so I just acted like this was all normal.  I don’t want him to be self conscious about me taking in Every.Little.Thing.He.Does.  He then walked gingerly into the pool. He quite happily got his legs and arms wet but didn’t seem keen on getting his torso wet. He did get splashed by other kids and although he looked annoyed by it, he didn’t cry or leave the area.  (Later in the day he got fully wet.  That could be a post by itself.)

All was going well … But then … Something happened.

Something amazing that tore me in 2.

 

Jay wanted to play with Ace. He tried so hard to follow Ace around and do the things that Ace was doing. But Ace was busy with his friends and didn’t want to be slowed down by or tethered to his little brother.  He didn’t want to have to stay in the shallow section when he is tall enough to go to the 3 ½ Ft area. I asked him once to spend a little time playing with Jay in the shallow part, but he really didn’t want to and I felt bad asking him to, so I told him it was OK, he didn’t have to.  So off he dove to re-join his friends.

 

It’s so great to see Jay WANT to play with Ace.  We spend so much time working on social interraction and cooperative play that I love seeing it translated this way.  I want to encourage Jay to keep opening up like this.  I want him to reap the rewards of his hard work and not get ignored when he tries.

But it’s not fair to ask Ace to sacrifice his time with his friends.

 

Eventually both boys found a way to have their own fun and when it was time to leave, neither of them were ready so that’s a good sign.  Usually we leave a place because one of the kids has begun to get fussy.  There was none of that at the pool.  Just total happiness.

 

When we got home, my 2 sons played together for the entire rest of the evening and I loved seeing that.

 

More and more Jay is looking up to and is wanting to be like his older brother. But as that is happening, Ace is making his own friends and forging his own way through life. It’s clear that Ace loves his brother but I know he can’t live for his brother.

 

I am torn between feeling happy that Jay is reaching out … and enjoying seeing Ace grow up … and wanting to give Jay whatever he wants since I know it hasn’t come easy for him … but knowing I can’t put that job on Ace’s shoulders.

 

Sibling Lovalry August 9, 2012

CC spends a lot more alone time with the kids during the day than I do.  I often come home to find him at the end of his rope.

 

It’s difficult for me to blog about what it’s like most days because I only have 2nd hand information.  I’d ask CC to do a guest blog post, but I think he’d rather eat popcorn than blog.  (He’ll eat pigs feet but hates popcorn.  Weird, I know.)

 

What I have noticed in the evenings and on weekends with the kids though is that they BOTH love and want lots of attention.  We used to say that Ace was destined to be a politician or an actor or a lawyer. Maybe even the ring master at a circus.  Something that allowed him to have an audience.  Jay, we used to say, would have preferred to be an only child and would probably make an excellent agent for Ace.  Jay wouldn’t be a people pleaser and would be excellent at getting people to do what he wanted them to do.

 

Lately though, Jay seems to be loving the limelight too.  Maybe Ace rubbed off on him or maybe he was just biding his time.  Either way, we now figure he’s going to be a King (or cult leader) somewhere.  That way he will have people fawning all over him and where he will be ridiculously spoiled and he’ll have people around him willing to do whatever he wants.

 

No longer does Jay stay in the back ground and let Ace get his way.  This change in Jay’s personality has really had an effect on us all.  Although, if I’m being honest, it’s affected CC and Ace more than me.

 

If Ace is playing with something, Jay wants it too.   The exact same thing.  He will cry for it or he will pull CC or I to take it from Ace and give it to him.  He may even physically attack Ace.  *Not good*

If I’m playing with Ace, he wants in on the action.  Everyone plays or no-one plays.  Long gone are the days where I would have Ace on my back running around while Jay sat quietly on the bed playing i-pad.  Now I have 2 children jostling for a good position on my body.
If Ace is jumping on the bed … well, I don’t have to tell you where Jay will be.  Inevitably they crash and one of them ends up crying.

If Ace is watching Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 on TV, Jay wants Scooby Doo.   Cue fight.
In the bath, they fight over who gets to sit by the water pipe and who gets soaped and rinsed first but if we try to give them separate baths, it’s a problem.
Despite all the competing, they WANT to be together.

 

When we’ve had enough of the fighting and send them to bed to cool off, we’re guaranteed to find them on the same bed a few minutes later.

In the car, if Ace sits in the 3rd row, you better believe Jay will climb back there with him.

Sometimes Ace (who has a penchant for tattling) will come and start to tell us about something bad that Jay did and then he will stop himself and say “never mind” because he’s afraid we will come and break them up.

If Jay gets 2 Star Bursts (one of his favourite candies), he will give one to Ace.

Ace will specifically ask for things that he thinks Jay would like since he knows Jay can’t usually ask for himself.

 

It’s constant.  Beautiful brotherly love and then ugly brotherly fighting.  Back and forth all day.  Non-stop.  A few minutes of fun followed by tears and yelling.

One minute we hear “Come on Jay, lets run” (or whatever) and the next minute it’s “Jay NO. Stop it. That’s mine.

One minute there’s peaceful silence as they play on train tracks.  The next there’s a blood curdling scream only to find out that one of them decided to play with some silly thing they dug out of the bottom of the toy tub and the other just HAD to have it too.

 

It’s exhausting.

It’s no wonder that CC is ready to put them in bed, turn out the lights, close the door and have a drink (or 2) by 5pm.

Maybe my boys are extreme.  I wouldn’t know.  I grew up as an only child.  CC on the other hand grew up with 3 siblings.

Maybe this is normal and CC owes his Mom a hug and a Hallmark card.

 

 

 

Playing The Same Game February 23, 2012

Yesterday evening I caught a glimpse.

A glimpse into the life I thought I was going to have.

Wanna know a secret? … I loved it.

I hope that doesn’t make me sound ungrateful for what I do have.

I certainly don’t want it to sound like I don’t appreciate the love and happiness and joy that so often (way more than not) fills my home.

But it was nice to see my 2 boys yesterday playing with each other in the way I always imagined they would.

We were in a cell phone store (ugh) and we told the boys to sit and wait till we were done.

Ace promised us he would keep an eye on Jay. Ya know … not let him disappear outside or anything.

He’s good like that.  Very protective.

(Believe me, we kept our eyes on both of them)

The next thing we knew there were giggles on top of giggles coming from their little corner.

Ace told Jay that he (Ace) is a Power Ranger and he (Jay) is the bad guy.

Then Jay stood up and “attacked” Ace.  When Ace “attacked” him back, he fell over and lay still on the floor.

Ace danced around over him saying “yeah, I killed the bad guy

Then while still laying on the floor, Jay held his hand up for Ace to help him up … which he did.

They repeated this over and over again.

Both boys were smiling and laughing and giggling.

Both parents were smiling and watching and enjoying.

 

My boys play together all the time.  Usually when they “play”, the game that one thinks they are playing is completely different from the game the other one thinks they are playing.  Or, they are just running around chasing each other with no ultimate aim.  Or Ace is doing something silly which Jay finds funny so Ace acts as Jay’s entertainer. It’s always very one-sided and it feels (to me) like Ace is doing most of the work and Jay is just kind of tagging along for the ride or peeping in from the outskirts.

This was different.  Better.

The difference here was that they were both on the same page.

This game of Bad Guy vs Power Ranger is what I imagine typical 4 and 5 year old brothers would do.

This is how Ace plays with other boys and I know he very badly wants his brother to play with him like this on a regular basis.

This was what I dreamt about from the minute I knew I was pregnant with a 2nd son.

These are the building blocks for a friendship/brotherhood/bond that I hope will continue to grow and will last a lifetime.