Tag Archives: Benjamin

Say what? Booty butt.

It all started with Benjamin, sometime last winter. One day, he brought home a fun new word from preschool: BOOTY.

Until that fateful day, booty had not been a standard word in our house. In fact, the rump isn’t something we discuss overly much. “Move your buns,” someone might say. Or “Sit on your bum! It’s dangerous to stand in the tub.”

This is how it all started: Benjamin, a born dancer, goes through phases where he loves to get his groove on. During other periods, you can’t get him to dance AT ALL, not so much as a stray head bob,  or even a finger snap. But recently, he was dancing all the time to the Fresh Beat Band (a kids’ TV show, for those of you not subjected to such things). It’s a little irritating, sure, but it allowed me to make dinner in peace. I’d put it on and he and Ellie would dance and dance, and that part was fun to watch, indeed, in large part because Ellie’s dancing is reminiscent of an injured Clydesdale on heavy narcotics.

So one day they’re dancing, and Benjamin says, “Mama, look at my booty! I’m doin’ the booty dance!” Ellie starts mimicking him, saying, “Booty, Mama, booty! Shakin’ booty! BOOTY BUTT!” Benjamin starts laughing at her, repeating, “Booty butt! Booty butt! I’m shakin’ my boooooty butt!” Soon they’re laughing so hard that they’ve collapsed on the floor, swept away by the kind of hysterics in which you can’t catch your breath, and your stomach muscles get all prickly and weak forcing you to roll on the floor and flail your limbs. (We should all do that more often, no?)

And then, because it was such a funny little scene, I made a big mistake: I laughed too.

Ellie loves nothing more than to make someone laugh. If you laugh at her for something she does or says, you can be sure that she will repeat it ad nauseam. Even at 2 1/2, she  understands that if she’s going to  continue to make someone laugh over the same thing, she needs to add a new twist every so often to make it novel.

The first thing she did was to start saying, “Oh no! I hurt my booty butt!” when she fell down.

When the laughs stopped coming for that, she changed it up. “Mama! I hurt my booty butt! And my booty knee. And look! My booty toe.”

Then: “I ate my booty dinner.”

“Read me this booty book?”

“Good night, Booty Mama!”

*sigh* All I could do was hope that particular nickname didn’t catch on.

Eventually, when the use of the word moved from occasional and funny to constant and irritating, we banned the use of it altogether. Anyone who said booty got an instant time out. It worked for a few days, maybe even a week. We were booty-free for some reasonable time period…and then suddenly it was back. And because it was unexpected when she finally did say it, I LAUGHED again. Because I am essentially immature and lacking in self-control.

In the end, we just gave in and now we all say it. It’s become something of a family joke, and as usually happens when you take the stigma away from something, it’s slowly fading away. “Do you want some booty soup?” I might ask, and she’ll reply, “Mama, it not booty soup. It just SOUP.”

Music to my booty ears.

I’m quite sure it’s not entirely over, though, especially when she finds a new audience. School, for example. I can just hear the conversation at our first teacher conference. “Elise is very bright and awfully funny, but…I have some concerns.”

And I’ll just nod sympathetically and say,  “I already know what you’re going to say, but try not to worry about it, Mrs. Booty Butt. It’s just a booty phase.  Any other relevant concerns, Booty Mama?”

Advertisements

If Walls Could Talk

In recent days, I have become a professional at packing, taping, and stacking boxes. I had been feeling really smug about my packing efficiency quotient (PEQ), but then I started packing up the kitchen. Dishes are a real pain, you guys. All the wrapping. And pots are no picnic either, mostly because of the handles. They’re so pointy and poke-y and unbendable.

It’s been hard, too, to pack with the kids around, so most of the packing has been taking place at night. Except when Benjamin got out a suitcase one busy morning last week and started stuffing his clothes into it.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Packing up my clothes so we can move to the new house, Mama!”

“Good job! Except we don’t need to pack up your clothes yet, because we’re not going for another week or so.”

“But I’m so excited to live there!”

“Me too, sweetie!”

“But…Mama? I think our old house is going to really miss us.”

“So you think that the house has feelings like we do, and it will feel sad when we’re not here anymore?”

“Yeah. I think it’s going to feel really, really sad.”

I know what he means. I was going to explain to him that houses aren’t living things with feelings, but I didn’t. Because when I was a little girl, I felt exactly the same way. I remember riding in the back of my parents’ car as they drove it to the dealership to trade it in, lying on the seat, tightly hugging the upholstery (this was, of course, before seat belt laws). As though I was bidding farewell to a dear loved one, tears streamed down my cheeks as I whispered, “We loved you, car. Thank you, car. I’ll miss you, car. You were a good, good car.”

Such a little drama queen! Now we know where Ellie gets it.

Anyway, I told him that story, and I added that even though I was sad to leave our old car, we got a nice new car that was great, and that the old car ended up taking care of another family. I said that our house was going to take care of some new people, too.

“So the house won’t be lonely,” I said, “because there will be new people here to keep it company. Does that make you feel better?”

“No, it doesn’t. Because it will still miss us.”

Again, I couldn’t argue, even though I’m a “grown-up” now and should “know better.” Sure, I could’ve explained that he was simply projecting his own feelings on the house as a convenient way to avoid difficult emotions, blah blah blah. But he’s five, and also, I’m not entirely convinced myself that the house won’t miss us.

So I said that we could do things like drive by the house and wave, and open the window and yell, “I miss you, house!” I said we could talk about the house any time, and that he could have some pictures of the house in his new room.

“Really? That would be great!” he said. “Then I won’t forget how it was here.”

I won’t forget how it was here, either. I won’t forget moving in with The Daddy, youthful and childless, thrilled to start a new life with a garage AND space for a guest room and home office. The elaborate Christmas Eve dinners I tried to cook in my miniscule kitchen to impress my new in-laws.  Laughing on the big back deck with my girlfriends. Renovating the bedroom 7 months pregnant. Kissing my newborns’ cheeks in the big chair in the family room. Avoiding the squeaky floorboard in the nursery in the middle of the night. The way I felt instantly comforted, walking through the door after a long day.

What Benjamin will eventually understand is that those feelings and memories have almost nothing to do with the house. Someday, maybe very soon, he’ll understand that home is wherever we all are – wherever we’re laughing, singing, playing, squabbling, cooking, sleeping, dreaming.

Regardless: We loved you, house. Thank you, house. We’ll miss you, house. You were a good, good house.

Five Is a Magic Number

On Thursday, my favorite Benjamin in the whole wide world turned five.

He’d been waiting impatiently for this day, counting down the months, the weeks, the days, the hours. I’m not sure what magical thing he thought would occur when he turned five, but whatever it was, it seemed very, very important to arrive at the day and revel in it.

The night before, he had told me how he’d like his day to go, and we followed as closely to his recommended schedule as we could:

6:00 a.m.: Begins the arduous chore of getting the rest of the family to vacate their beds. Family is reluctant.

6:30 a.m.: Enthusiastically opens presents with bleary-eyed family. Attempts to ride awesome new Transformer bike around tiny dining room. Amazingly, nothing ends up broken or damaged, other than Mama’s nerves.

6:45 a.m.: The Daddy struggles to free the Sentinel Prime transformer from his high-security packaging, valiantly battling tie-downs with dull kitchen shears. Benjamin declares that this is “the best birthday ever.”

7:00 a.m.: Ellie starts sobbing that she doesn’t have any princess presents for “her” birthday. Any and all attempts to explain that her birthday isn’t until December are met with pouty indignation and intermittent heaving sobs. Benjamin’s repeated reminders of the proprietary nature of the day do nothing to soothe her egocentric crisis.

8:00 a.m.: Breakfast at IHOP! Ellie spills coffee cream all over her and Mama. Ben eats his entire breakfast plus 30% of everyone else’s breakfast. The kids aren’t producing more than an average level of mayhem in the categories of volume or activity, so I ignore the foul looks from the elderly couple at a nearby table. Or maybe that’s just how their faces have frozen after years of sour moods? I make a mental note to perform hourly checks of my own facial expression status to avoid ending up this way.

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Time at Grandma’s to avoid boring parental errands.

2:15 p.m.: The Daddy takes Benjamin to see the new Transformers movie.
Mama attempts to renew plates at DMV, but is turned away due to statewide computer failure. Simultaneously thrilled and disappointed.

4:30: Mama and Benjamin pick up the cake!

5:30: First (outside) ride on bike. Benjamin is gleeful. Unfortunately the glee causes the listening section of the brain to shut down completely, resulting in an unfortunate crash.

5:45: Back on the bike.

6:30: BLTs for dinner (Benjamin’s favorite), followed by the SUPERDUPERAMAZING TRANSFORMERS CAKE!

MMMM...CAKE!

FYI, the blue and black frosting looked really cool, but tasted like battery acid mixed with rat poop. Not that I’ve ever tasted that combination, or even one of the components by itself, but you got the picture, right? HORRIBLE. But Benjamin loved it, and that’s the important thing.

The funniest things he said:

“So I’m five now. Why isn’t my voice lower?”

and

“When I blew out my candle, I wished for always having a loving family.”

“Oh, Benjamin, that’s so sweet! I love that wish. And you will always have that – we love you so much, and we always will.”

“AND THEN I wished for all the Transformers in the world!”

At least he knew which wish to tell me first. That’s a clear sign he’s developing the kind of emotional manipulation skills that he’ll need to survive in the world.

I couldn’t be more proud of my sweet, sweet five-year-old boy.

UNSTOPPABLE, JUST LIKE TIME AND OPTIMUS PRIME

Aftermath

“Mama, I miss Rex.”

“I know you do. I’m really sorry we couldn’t keep him.”

“But he was such a good dog!”

“He will eventually be a good dog.  But until he turned into a good dog, he was going to be too rough for our family, and we couldn’t get him to listen. Weren’t you a little scared when he knocked you down?”

“Well…I was very brave.”

“Yes, you were very, very brave. But not scared?”

“I was a little scared.”

“Yeah, I thought so.”

“But Mama, he listened to me and Daddy. And not you and Ellie. Because Daddy and me are boys, and you and Ellie are girls, and dogs don’t listen to you. Because you’re girls.”

Two thoughts:

1) I’m so glad I know the reason now! There are so many times that I think I am speaking out loud – I can hear myself talking, I can put my hand out in front of my mouth and feel air moving – but no adjacent ears are receiving the sound waves. It’s because I’m a girl.

2) My kid is turning into quite the little sexist. This + his recent pronouncement that BOYS ONLY will be invited to his 5th birthday party + his insistence that he not be subjected to “girl things” = a distinct potential for developing into a club-swinging, knuckle-dragging brute. Or he’s just a normal 5-year-old boy going through the gender identification process.

I’d talk to him about it, but unfortunately he CAN’T HEAR ME. *sigh*

Preschool Iron Man

“Mama, what does being strong mean?”

“It means that you are healthy and that your muscles can do a lot of work.”

“Am I strong?”

“I think you’re very strong for a boy your age. Why are you thinking about being strong?”

“I don’t know. If I can lift up the gime, does that make me strong?”

“What’s a gime?”

“You know, the gime, that people do for exercises.”

“No, I don’t know what a gime is.”

“How can boys get even stronger?”

“Well, you have to eat good foods, and get lots of sleep, and play a lot.”

“What are good foods?”

“You know…things like fruits and vegetables and all the stuff Mama always wants you to eat.”

“Oh. I like to eat chocolate. Is that a good food?”

“Not really. But you can have a little bit, as long as you eat your good stuff first.”

“Then I can lift up the gime?”

“I still don’t know what a gime is.”

“You spell it g-y-m, Mama. The gime.”

“OH! I think you mean gym.”

“No, I mean gime.”

(I think he actually means weights, but that’s an argument for a different day.)

“That’s not how you say it, buddy – it’s gym, like the name Jim, and if you could actually lift up a gym, then you really would be superduper strong.”

“I’m gonna say it gime.”

“Okay, but don’t be surprised if people tease you.”

“I WON’T!”

*sigh*

It occurred to me later that if he really did become superstrong, no one would tease him for saying gime. Would you bother to correct Mike Tyson if he told you he just got back from the gime?

Me neither.

The Forbidden Keychain of Mystery

Scene: Yesterday morning. I’m driving the car, the children are strapped in their car seats.

Background: Benjamin, 4, is holding a Transformer and a combination keychain/flashlight/photo frame that contains a picture of himself with The Daddy and Thomas the Tank Engine. Ellie, 2, is holding her doll and a pink metal princess purse. They are poster children for gender stereotypes.

(Yes, I did say metal princess purse – you read that right. Someone decided it would be a great idea to make metal purses with pretty beaded handles. The cacophony created by 5 crayons and a block in a metal purse really makes your brains curdle. Way to go, Disney Princess purse designers.)

Crisis: Ellie, suddenly realizing that Benjamin is holding the Forbidden Keychain of Mystery, decides she wants it RIGHTTHISINSTANT.

“Benjamin, I can hold the keythain?”

“No, Ellie! It’s MINE!”

“Pweeze?”

“No!”

“Mama, Benjamin not share wiff me!”

*repeat* *repeat* *repeat*

I’ve been trying to let them fight their own battles more often, watching from the sidelines like a frustrated referee. I drove along silently for some time, but as usual, the whining eventually got to me. I’m not proud to say that I tried a little guilt on Benjamin to see if he would let her look at it, however briefly.

“Ellie, I guess it’s as good a time as any to realize that sometimes people just won’t share things with their little sister, even when it’s the nicest, kindest thing to do.”

Benjamin replied, “Yeah, mama, that’s right – people like ME!”

Lessons Learned:

Benjamin: I feel validated. Mama really understands me and is okay with my possessive behavior.

Ellie: Benjamin is selfish, and Mama is ineffective. I should just pout some more.

Me: The four-year-old has outsmarted me once again. Passive aggressive discipline doesn’t work, at least on the boy. Do I have time to stop for coffee?

LOVE ALWAYS WINS