Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rainy Day and Addendum

First, the addendum.

In the previous post I went on and on about our little lipstick episode. Well, come to find out it wasn't lipstick after all. That's right. It was a stamp. A tiny little musical note stamp that my son was rubbing all over his lips before school each day.

Yet another piece of evidence that I'm such a great mom.

Now on with the new story...

Yesterday it was pouring when we came home from school, and the boys weren't even disappointed that they couldn't play baseball. Maybe because they decided they could play indoor baseball.

I watched with caution as they hauled catcher's gear, wiffle balls, and a plastic bat inside. But when the bases came inside, I decided it was time to say something. "You are not bringing those bases in the house," to be exact.

"Okay, Mom! We'll just use house bases. Do you know what those are? It's when you just find things that are already in the house and make bases out of them," Tucker offered. He listened without arguing and put the bases back in the garage. If you're thinking that was too easy, you're exactly right.

The next thing I knew there were white sheets of paper placed carefully in the living room to create a perfect baseball diamond. The tee was perched on home plate, and Tucker was taking some practice swings with a plastic bat.

"Tucker, you cannot bat in the house," I told him.

"It's okay, Mom. I brought in the plastic bat so the ball won't go very far," he explained.

"No. No batting in the house." I was firm on this point.

Minutes later I walked into the living room to see Tucker hit a homerun that bounced off the center field fence, or the back wall of the living room if you don't have much of an imagination. I demanded an explanation.

"It's okay, Mom. I decided to use the plastic bat and hit lefty. I can't hit very far when I bat lefty, so it's fine," Tucker explained again. I was starting to wonder if he really understood what "it's okay" means.

Being the mean ol' mom I am, I took the bat. It seemed to be the only way to stop the living room baseball game. Or so I thought.

I came back into the room to find them both in their underwear playing catch. Wait. Keaton was in his underwear because he was pitching. Tucker was playing catcher, so obviously he was wearing his underwear and full catcher's gear.

I would have taken a picture and posted it here, but I'd feel like a creeper publishing a picture of my six year old in his underwear. Instead you'll just have to live with the mental picture.

Luckily, I mean unfortunately, the catcher pegged the pitcher in his naked thigh with the ball, which caused the game to end.

All those baseball teams who have rainouts are just not creative enough.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pink is for Everyone

A friend mentioned today that my last couple of post have been "experimental." Hmmm... Well, there's no experimenting here today. Unless you count Keaton experimenting with lipstick.

Yep. I'm pretty sure I've let Keaton wear lipstick to school two days in a row.

My mind drifts back to the peaceful, quiet days of spring break. Keaton gets an allergy shot each week which is really no big deal to him, almost to the point where I worry about him having some terrible disease that causes him to not feel pain. His Mimi usually takes him, but during spring break I had the honors. As I sat there watching him roll up his sleeve and take it like a man, studying his face for even a tiny grimace indicating that he can, in fact, feel pain, I was again amazed at how grown up my baby can be.

After the shot he always gets to choose a prize from this fabulous drawer full of all the things kids love - bubbles, bracelets, slinkies, stickers, etc. So on this spring break day he rummaged through the drawer, deciding and changing his mind several times, until he finally chose the perfect prize - a tiny little tube of lipstick (the dress up kind).

Now, the fact that my three year old son chose lipstick is really less surprising than the fact that I let him keep it. I figured it probably didn't really work and that he'd probably lose it before we got to the car, so there was really no reason to make it an issue. And I was right.

Until yesterday morning. Keaton and I were driving to school, and he was singing songs partly in English but mostly in his new made-up language, and I turned to smile at my sweet, silly little boy. That's when I noticed the lipstick.

I don't know where or when or how, but he found it, and he was going to use it. Between the notes of his song he was lathering up his lips with that tiny pink tube, and they glistened in the bright morning sunlight.

Because I'm such a good mother, I realized that his dad would never know and it probably wasn't a big deal. It certainly wasn't a big enough deal to warrant the tremendous fight that would ensue if I forced that tiny tube from his determined three year old fingers. So I let him go on to school, lipstick and all.

The next morning, I turned to him in the back seat to see him not only lipstick-ing his lips, but also the pads of his fingers. "Look, Mom! My fingers are pink!" he said. That's when I decided to put my foot down.

Me: Keaton, did you know that's lipstick?

Keaton: No it isn't. It's chapstick.

Me: No. It's pink and has butterflies on the outside. It's lipstick and lipstick is for girls only.

Keaton: Pink is for everyone.

Me: Not that pink. It's for girls. It's make-up, and only girls wear make-up.

Keaton (matter-of-factly): You're wrong and I'm right. It's chapstick. It's for boys. And pink is for everyone.

And the conversation was over. He hopped out of the car with his pink lipstick and pink fingers, looking back at me as if he had taught me a thing or two on that short drive to school.

Now I've got to go find that lipstick and hide it in a place he can never find it. It's the only way to keep Trey from eventually killing me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Birthday Post.

Note: This is one of those random blog posts that likely has no entertainment value whatsoever. Perhaps I'm being reflective. That must be what happens when I take a day off from work!

I painted my toenails pink. Power Fuchsia to be exact.

This is surprising because of the simple fact that I am decidedly not pink. Pink implies some level of cute-ness that I simply do not possess. For this reason I usually bypass all polish shades anywhere near pink.

I have to point out that cute has nothing to do with looks, it's a personality. My personality is more like a dark green, black, or even (big surprise) maroon. Pink? No way.

Pink people are just as comfortable in flowy white skirts as they are in jeans. They can throw a headband on still-wet hair and look, well, cute. They say things like "bless your heart" and have tiny little sneezes. They tell dumb jokes knowing full well that they are dumb, but also knowing that people will laugh anyway because the joke-teller is absolutely adorable.

I love pink people. I used to try so hard to be cute, and I felt somehow inferior to the pinks. I guess sometimes I still do. But for the most part I've become quite comfortable being the sarcastically humored, often grouchy, over-analytical, non-girly girl that I am.

It is for this reason that I usually paint my toenails almost black. Actual black seems much too cliche, so I always choose a brown or purple so dark that people think it's black. Of course I always know the truth.

But today I took the day off. I swore to do only things I wanted to do, and that's exactly what I did. After the kids went to school, I crashed on the couch and slept until 10:40. I had lunch with Trey, then coffee and some computer work at It's a Grind all by myself. I stopped at CVS for nail polish remover, saw some pink polish and thought "What the hell. Why not?"
I'll be thirty-two on Saturday, and I couldn't care less about putting another year behind me. I am as happy and fulfilled and comfortable in my skin as I've been in my whole life. Sure, losing twenty pounds and getting a shot or two of botox wouldn't hurt, but I've come to love my status as a work in progress.
Am I pink? Absolutely not. I love jeans a half-size too big, I have hair that must be tamed before being seen by the outside world, and I pack a beast of a sneeze. But I also have dear friends, a wonderful husband, and happy kids.
I am proud to finally announce that even the dark green girls turn out pretty well. Bring on thirty-two.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

People Watching

I sat on an almost dry bench outside a coffee shop on the campus of UT today. As I watched the interesting people come and go, these are the stories I saw:

It’s been raining for days. Quite appropriate weather if you ask her.

“Why are you so delusional?” her anger shouts into the phone. That same anger doesn’t allow her to listen to the response on the other end. It only watches and judges.

Her thoughts scowl at the passersby. “These people. They probably think I’m screaming at some unfaithful lover or roommate without rent money. If they only knew...they would probably just pity me. But it's their ignorance that really deserves pity.”

She picks at her black stockings. She stares.

She’s already been sad. She even bought
into the whole “everything happens for a reason” perspective that her so-called friends spewed. At least with that she saw the sun for a day or two. But now…now…They were so wrong.

Her empty face turns to the looming clouds overhead.

He walks slowly toward the street, checking his map and trying to read the small-printed name on the building across the street. “It shouldn’t be like this now,” he tells himself. “I’ve been here seven months. I should already know where this is.”

The girl with him poses a question that he cannot hear but can clearly understand. The oncoming truck whizzes past him on the busy street, splashing dirty puddle water on his new shoes. He realizes he is lost and finally asks her, “Are we on the right street? This map is going to get me killed.”

She laughs and takes his hand, happy to be able to help him, this person whom she loves. She knows that he has no understanding of the way she really needs his help. How will she tell him? Will he be happy to help her in return?

He smokes. Not because he wants to but because he has to. It is the only thing he has left now. She’s gone, and it’s quite clear she isn’t coming back. He begged, he pleaded. He cried, for God’s sake. Nothing.

He supposes it’s his own fault for getting involved with someone so heartless. But his mind keeps wandering back to those moments. The glint of her half-smile. The knowing look she gave when he explained his plan. Knowing, he thought, that this was finally it. Knowing that together they could make it happen.

But now he is alone. And so he smokes.

“A surprise?” she squeals into the phone. “I love surprises.”

People notice her not because her phone conversation can be heard from across the plaza, but because she bears noticing. Contentment pours from her every step. People notice.

She drops her bag, and the passersby wrangle for the opportunity to pick it up. Perhaps they will gain something from her glance, her thank you. One lucky man, fresh from his morning run, finally finds the handle and returns it to her. Her smile is electrifying.

She never stopped walking. For her it was as if the bag never fell.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Laugh until you Puke

That's what happened at our house tonight.

Tucker had a baseball game, then we came home, gave the boys quick baths, and gathered around the dinner table to visit. After a while, Trey started doing the dishes while the boys and I quizzed each other on math problems (Tucker's idea, of course). After ten minutes or so of math, Trey grumbled about how he felt like he was at nerd camp and the math group adjourned.

While I was taking a quick bath, the boys kept yelling through the door, "Mommy, we have a surprise for you!" Then they would slide a jelly bean under the door and burst into laughter. It was a sweet gesture, but I know how long it's been since that bathroom floor was cleaned and there's no way I'm eating those jelly beans - surprise or not.

Trey and I visited for a while in the living room while the boys played. We had to break things up when we realized they were jumping from the top of my dresser onto a pile of blankets they'd made in the floor. It was bedtime anyway, so teeth brushing came next.

All in all it was a quiet, happy evening at the Hickman house. The boys were having fun being brothers, and I love seeing that.

At bedtime, we gathered to say prayers. While we waited for Keaton to finally get in bed, Tucker reached over and kissed me on the arm, only it felt like he licked me on the arm. Naturally, I said, "Did you just lick me?" which led to uncontrollable giggles and licking attempts for the next few minutes.

I should note that it was mostly Keaton attempting to lick. Did you know that if you put your hand on a three year old's head and keep him at arm's distance he physically cannot lick you? You can thank me later for that little piece of wisdom.

Prayers began, and we went in the usual order - first me, then Trey, then Keaton. Keaton had already been laughing about the licking, so I knew his prayer would be interesting. It went like this, "Dear God, thank you for our family and thank you for the day we had, and thank you for pee..."

At that, all four of us burst out into roaring laughter. I was trying to hide my laughter behind a very scolding face, but that never really works. Keaton was rolling. I'm sure you've heard me say before that he has the very best laugh ever, and it's completely true. His whole body was shaking and I'm sure his face had to hurt. Amidst his laughter one of those air-sucking croaks came out. You know what I mean? It kind of sounds like a burp, but it's more like a dry heave.

Being the good mother I am, I told the children that's what God does when you goof off during the prayer. He makes you throw up.
I was mostly kidding.

After a shocked look upon discovering this new sound, Keaton realized that if pee was funny, burps were even funnier! He kept laughing and continued to croak every time he could get enough air. We were all still giggling at this little entertainer when I put him off the bed and told him to go to the bathroom in case he really did throw up.

And he did. He puked and he laughed, and he puked and he laughed, and he puked and he laughed. It was wonderful and awful (and mostly in the toilet).

We changed his shirt, brushed his teeth again, and put him back in bed. The second time around he didn't thank God for pee. Tucker said his prayer, and then asked in a sweet voice, "Is that really what God does when you're silly in the prayer?"

I admitted to have only been teasing, but then Keaton giggled, "No. When you need to throw up, God helps you throw up so you feel better!"

And that, friends, is the happiest person on earth.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Keaton Pees.

More specifically, Keaton pees everywhere.

He was easily potty trained at the young age of 2, and for the next year and a half he had very few accidents. In fact, we were even able to let him sleep in underwear instead of a pull-up because he always woke up dry. He had mastered his bladder.

And then a few months ago he peed in the floor. I think he was playing and having fun and didn't want to stop to go to the bathroom. He got in a little trouble, but all in all it was just an accident. No big deal.

Then it kept happening. We began to recognize the familiar "Um...Mommy?" from a room away. We talked about big boys and how they pee in the potty. We spanked him. We put him in his room. We made him clean it up. Nothing mattered. He continued to just let it go where ever he stood. Mind you, this problem only occurs at home.

This weekend things got a little out of hand. First, he stood in the hallway and peed. When I heard his signature, "Um, Mommy..." I flew into action. I made him clean it up. I made him change his own clothes. I spanked him. I put him in the chair in his room and didn't let him move a muscle or even look at a toy for fifteen minutes. I tried everything I could think of all at once, and as I announced these severe punishments Keaton responded exasperatedly, "IIII knooowww." Rotten little kid.

The next day, I caught him peeing in a gift bag in the living room. That's right, he decided to branch out from just wetting his pants. Tucker had gone on an Easter egg hunt at a birthday party and used a little green gift bag to collect the eggs. Keaton saw an opportunity to pee in a gift bag and just couldn't pass it up. Tucker was laughing hysterically, of course.

Then tonight, at Tucker's baseball game, we just barely saved ourselves from an indecent exposure charge. There's a water fountain at the field that has a little drain in the ground for the water. I think you can see where this is going.

Keaton has made a new friend whose brother is also on Tucker's team. Keaton and friend had already been in trouble for playing in the water, and they were lurking a little too close to the water fountain. I turned toward them just in time to see Keaton attempting to pull out his own little water fountain. I screamed his name, and Trey jumped from the chair to tackle him before he could expose himself.

It's like he's found his superpower. He can pee anywhere at anytime in anything. Amazing!

It doesn't help that he doesn't care one bit about getting in trouble. He's that kid who knows full well that he earned his trouble and accepts it as just part of life. I am at my wits end. What can I possibly do to the little pee-er? If he were a dog, I'd kennel him. But I think that's probably frowned upon with children.

Friday, April 3, 2009

What a weekend!

Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to chaperon our school as they (we) participated in the Texas Association of Student Councils (TASC) convention in Arlington. We left on Saturday around 1:00 p.m. and returned home Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. It was exhausting and wonderful.

This year's convention was special because our student council chose to run for the office of secretary of TASC. This is a real-life board position, complete with parliamentary procedure, fiduciary responsibilities, and supporting and organizing the collaborative efforts of all student councils in the state of Texas. It's a big deal.

Our kids ran on the platform of CARE week, or Cancer: Awareness, Recognition, and Education. They invited schools all across the district to participate, and they had everything from Locks of Love and bracelets to t-shirts and videos. For weeks, I saw my dear friend Tiffany and her StuCo kids work like crazy to prepare for CARE week. As a result they involved every student in our 2600 member student body and raised thousands of dollars for students in our school who are fighting or have fought cancer (there are four). What started as a state campaign became a beautiful week of teenagers giving their time and creativity and effort to help others.

They also learned and shared lots of facts. I could recite for you way too many things about prostate cancer which I learned in Yearbook one day, but I'm trying to keep this G-rated.

I am a self-proclaimed "StuCo Groupie." The sponsor is my friend and many of the kids are in my classes, so I like to hang out with them when I'm procrastinating. When they needed another driver to go to state convention I was excited to volunteer.

I truly cannot express what I saw from those kids in four days. Not only did they work like I didn't know was possible, but they did it with a smile. There was never an argument or an uncomfortable moment. They were incredibly professional, but kids at the same time. For some reason I can't quite articulate what I saw, and I don't believe anyone could understand the gravity of it unless he saw it.

Watching the kids campaign was moving. They discussed scenarios for making friends with the strangers whose votes they wanted, they discussed the importance of learning each person's name and how ineffective it is to spout off facts to people, they constantly reminded each other that everyone has been touched by cancer in some way and they used that as a starting point for conversations. In the midst of the chaos of the campaign, they always remembered that their platform was about helping people. They wanted every school in Texas to hold a CARE week even more than they wanted to win. The level of maturity and global consciousness they displayed was unlike anything I have seen before.

As part of their campaign booth, they asked students to write the name of a cancer victim on a small circle, and then they placed that circle on their "Wall of Honor and Remembrance." Seeing that wall overflowing with names was a testament to the gravity of CARE week's mission. The act of writing Jack Comer and Elizabeth Hickman, names of my family members who have suffered with cancer, brought tears to my eyes. Knowing that these kids were working to help people like my grandfather really touched me.

Other parts of the weekend were awesome, too: the dance party in Joe's Crab Shack, the banana incident (either you know about it or you don't), the impromptu conga line before the last day's general session. Not only were these kids supporting cancer research and cancer victims, but they were having fun doing it. I kept thinking that I hope my kids can be like these kids. I hope they can find something meaningful to devote themselves to, and I hope they can have half as much fun as these kids have.

On the last day, the election results were announced. The preceding program seemed to drag on forever. I was shuffling in my seat, biting my nails, and trying to calm my racing heart. I wanted this for the kids, but I wanted it even more for their sponsor. Behind the scenes, with little recognition, she works for them without fail, and she wanted this for them because they had earned it. I sat there, the StuCo Groupie, knowing that this group deserved to win because of the hard work and heart they put into helping others.

And when the state secretary was announced, it was A&M Consolidated. Screaming, laughter, and tears erupted from our two rows. There's just something awesome about what happens when the good guy wins. When you see a group of people come together to change the world, and they are recognized for their efforts, an indescribable hope emerges.

I received a great gift last weekend, and all I did was show up.