Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Day of School

End of the summer. Kids have been home for two and a half months. Nightly football games. Daily wrestling matches on the living room floor.

Now, all the kids are in bed--Richie and Johnny going to bed early voluntarily. Tomorrow they start school--fourth and second grade, and J.J., later in the month, kindergarten. They're listening to the iPod.

Seeing them, I think about how, when I babysat in grade school and high school, I imagined how my own family would be. And I think about how, now, my family is much different than I imagined.

I thought the pillows would remain on the couch at least 80 percent of the time.

I thought they'd curl up and read during the day.

I thought they'd fall in love with Walt Disney movies.

I thought they'd collect teddybears.

I thought I'd be the sweet mom at the grocery store.

Instead, they tear the pillows off the couch and block each other with them.

They spray the hose at each other during the day, chase each other around the house, and occassionally curl up with a good T.V. show.

They love sports movies. Rocky, Rudy, Hoosiers, and Cinderella Man are in our Netflix queue because we are having a bit of an underdog marathon.

They collect football cards and silly bands.

I grounded them from T.V. for two weeks today in the grocery store because for the past 10 years they've poked and pushed and even wrestled each other in the aisles. And at the end of two and half months, I'd had it with the roughhousing.

But during a quiet moment like this, I realize with a knot in my throat: This is nothing like I thought it would be because it is way better.

Today, Johnny said of a game they were playing in the neighborhood, "Richie is my go-to quarterback. He has a way better arm than I do."

Now, they're sharing the iPod earphones and listening to a lullaby they thought J.J. would like.

And I'm thinking, the craziness is part of it. It's a real family, and it's messy, but in the end, we're a good team.

I told the boys, "Other teams might come and go, but do you know the one team you'll always be on?"

"Us," they said.

"Yep. Your family," I said.

The boys looked at me like I was going to tell them I was dying or something.

Because I don't typically talk like this. I'm not the type who walks around saying, "I would rip out my right ventrical to make you feel my love." I know people like that, and that's not me.

So I said, "Who here hasn't brushed your teeth?" I knew one of them hadn't. I have a sixth sense about that type of thing. And I was right.

But I know now that I was wrong earlier this summer, when I thought, "I can't wait til school starts." Now I know that when I flash the photo of them in their blue slacks and red shirts--similar to the Catholic school uniforms I've been seeing on my friends' Facebook pages this week as other schools started, I'll feel the same pangs I always feel.

Gosh, what a sob story. Seriously, they'll be home at 12. It's a half day! And Lord knows they need something to do for three-fourths of the year! Best to change the subject. Who here hasn't brushed their teeth?

Friday, August 13, 2010

File Under: Kids Say the Darnedest


After I told the boys that a kid we know tried football but likes soccer better...
Johnny: Well, my favorite is football.
Richie: My favorite is baseball.
J.J.: My favorite is bouncy ball.



J.J.: Mom, when are you going to get married and have a baby?
Me: I already got married and had three babies. You're one of them.
J.J.: Well, you could marry daddy.
Me: Yep that's my husband.
What does he think the connection is between the five of us living in this house? College roomies?



J.J.: Mom, what do you want for your birthday?
Me: My dream gift would be an iphone or a new laptop.
J.J.: Or a Barbie doll?
Me: Yes, a Barbie doll would be great.
J.J.: Or a baby doll?
Me: Maybe I'll ask for a real baby...
J.J.: Maybe daddy could give you one.
Me: Um...yes.
J.J.: But doesn't God give babies?
Me: Yes, babies are gifts from God.
J.J., Johnny and Richie: Silence.
Me: (Big sigh of relief.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

We just got back from Boston for our annual trip to visit Justin's family and enjoy a town that has no end to the stuff there is to do. Here is what we did:

Caught up with friends and family at the annual party under the big white tent! The boys wrestled with friends and family at the same party.

Got tears in my eyes as we approached Gilette Stadium. I defy you to love football and not have this reaction. It is the Emerald City of football stadiums.

Saw a humpback whale and learned what "TAIL BREACH!" means. It's what the captain yells when a whale flips its tail a good way out of the water, and it's something I'm going to yell randomly from now on when something exciting happens in my life.

Watched Richie get seasick for the first time. Then immediately afterwords, heard the captain say, "I'm sure you all won't mind if we go six miles further--but the water's going to get rougher because there's a storm at sea." Richie was like, "Noooooooo!" And then a second later, we realized the Dramamine was in the bag I was holding and that Richie had just thrown up in.

Played T.V. tag with my nephew Brendan and J.J. Every time, they chose Dinosaur Train or Polar Express and the clue was, "trains." It was like stealing candy from a baby. To be fair, I chose Sesame Street every time.

Toured Paul Revere's house in the North End of Boston. Learned that when it was built, it was a mansion, but by the time the Reveres bought it, it was middle class. Keeping up with the Joneses is nothing new!

Ate pizza in the North End. Started to agonize over our restaurant decision before realizing you can't really go wrong with pizza in Boston.

Ate lobster rolls at the beach. Justin's mom's clam chowder at the party. Homemade blackberry bread in the morning. Boneless pork from a Chinese restaurant. And pretty much everything within a one-mile radius of my face. Tail breach!

Spent an evening at the beach and, as the sun set behind us, watched the water and sky become the same shade of gray until you couldn't tell where one ended and the other began. But I was too busy eating lobster rolls to notice until we walked to the car.

Watched the Red Sox at Fenway Park. So loud and so cool. A guy actually climbs a ladder to change the score on the Green Monster. Johnny's interpretation: They change the score from inside the Green Monster and the guy on the ladder paid for a special ticket. (The lawsuit waiting to happen ticket??) And then somebody hit a homerun over the green monster and it hit a car! Tail breach! Richie was sure that would be on the highlights of Sports Center.

Met a lady on the street in the North End and at the candlepin bowling alley who had three sons, too. I can't tell you how many times I meet mothers of three grown boys.

Found out Justin's brother Johnny and his wife Erin are having another boy! Justin's parents will still have all-boy grandkids!

Got a 73 at candlepin bowling--with bumpers! (Richie beat me with a 75.) I think it's a lot harder than "big ball bowling" as they call normal bowling in Boston. (Because there, candlepin, which has softball size balls and narrower pins, is more popular. As an aside, Justin was a child candlepin champion. Tail breach!) I love candlepin!

Made tie-dye shirts at a pool party and watched the big boys have a slam dunk contest off the diving board. Realized my oldest son is now one of the big boys...or almost. He was like, "I was doing dives and 360s; they were doing back flips and 460s."

Listened to the boys' uncle ask them, upon seeing that they were watch iCarly, "What are you, a bunch of cheerleadahs? Where are your pom poms?" I love how people in Boston talk.

Had a living room sleepover with all the Boston and Rhode Island cousins.

And that's only the half of it. J.J. cried his eyes out the night before we left. Johnny was like, "Could we move to Boston for one year?" I said that as soon as I made my first million, I was going to buy a summer place for us in the Back Bay. Well, my first 10 million.