Sacrificing Animals to the T-Rex

sawyer bech dinos.jpg
The other day I observed my five-year-old son gather all of his stuffed animals and take them by armload down the stairs. After his third trip, he stopped in front of me.  “You know what I’m doing, Mom?” he asked with excitement in his eyes.  “I’m getting animals for the T-Rex. He needs meat!”
 

Unsure of how to respond, I replied with a vague, “Oh.”

He put his small hand on my cheek as if to comfort me. “Not human meat, Mom. Animal meat. And, it’s just a baby T-Rex.”  And then he rushed off to sacrifice more of his animals to his T-Rex.

***

There has been a shift in pretend play lately.  A bit more violence and a bit more reality now creep into the games he plays. It leaves me feeling somewhat sad. My son is leaving the simple pretend games of animal parades and wooden trains, and immersing himself into the world of sword fights and dinosaur battles.  As he gets older and starts to realize more about the world around him, things like death …

To read more, please click the following link:  My Boy of Endless Questions.

I am so excited to have this essay on Her View From Home, and I would love if you left a comment … What kind of questions from your kids give you pause? What do you hate having to explain to your children? What moment made you realize your child was growing up?

Thanks for reading and have a fantastic day!

 

Advertisements

That Time My Son Was Covered in Poison Ivy

nature sawyerWriting was a struggle this week. With the start of summer, I completely said good-bye to any writing schedule I had previously established and lost a good bit of motivation. I’ve had a nasty cold that won’t leave me alone, and I’ve been so busy trying to cram fun into my kids’ summer that it is starting to become un-fun for everyone.

On top of that, my poor Sawyer-boy is miserable.  It appears that in my great push for outdoor exploring and letting the kids start to test their boundaries this summer, my son seems to have explored his way right into a patch of poison ivy.

The poor thing is covered – face, fingers, legs, stomach, and even his crotch – in a messy red rash of itchy scabs and blisters.  By viewing this trail of destruction on his skin, it is easy to tell what he did after encountering the poison ivy – wiped the sweat or bugs off of his face, pulled down his pants, and peed in the woods. Boys!

During the past few nights, he wakes in the middle of night and calls for me. Now, I could pretend this is an irregularity, but the truth is he often wakes in the middle of the night and tries to make his way into my bed.  However, these poison ivy induced middle of the night wake-ups have been different. Usually, I can lead him back to bed and pat his back for a couple of minutes until he quickly falls back asleep, but now his itchy, poison ivy covered body will not let him rest.  I cover him in calamine lotion, and then he scratches and wiggles and whines in his bed until he gives up on sleep.  My normal 3 a.m. this week involves discussion of who would win a dinosaur battle, Tyrannosaurus Rex or Carnotaurus.

sawyer mud

In the mornings, he is equally miserable and just wants to snuggle in bed or have me sit beside him and watch episodes of Dinosaur King. So, I do.  I slather him again in anti-itch cream, give him some Benadryl, call the doctor just in case, and then sink down onto the sofa with him.

I stare at the laundry I wanted to fold.  I look across the room at the kitchen counter still cluttered with empty yogurt containers, milk glasses, and a pile of uneaten strawberries. I see my computer open to a blank document, a story yet to be told. I see the dozens of tiny little Shopkins and Disney princess clip dolls strewn about on the floor, just begging to be stepped on.

But, instead of feeling frustrated for all that I could be doing, I turn my attention to my son. Not to Dinosaur King, definitely not to Dinosaur King.  (I much prefer when my daughter is sick and we can watch princess movies and not this weird time-traveling Pokémon want-to-be. But, it has dinosaurs, so my son is happy). I hold him close and look at those angry red marks on his skin and wish them away.

I feel guilty that he is covered in poison ivy, and I wonder if perhaps I have let him have a bit too much freedom in the woods. Maybe I should re-establish the boundaries of our yard and be more careful about where I allow him to explore, but he has so much fun in the woods – exploring and digging and making trails like his daddy.

Sawyer nature

It is hard, this gradual release of the strings that hold him tight to my side. Because with each bit of slack I give him, I know that missteps are inevitable. There will be scraped knees, stubbed toes, splinters … and poison ivy.

I want him to lead the kind of life where he appreciates and explores nature, just not the kind of life where he runs into poison ivy, or other things that make him miserable.   But as much as I don’t like to see my boy suffer, I also know that sometimes he needs to be able to let go of my hand and figure things out for himself.

As he snuggles onto my lap, I plan a future walk on our trails where we will practice identifying poison ivy. We will chant, “Leaves of three, let it be.” Maybe we will get on the computer, do a little research, and make a chart of what poison ivy leaves look like.

But right now, we just sit and cuddle. Soon enough, the Benadryl will wear off and he will beg to go outside in the yard with his sister. He will spend the day with a stick in hand, digging in the dirt, and building “secret hideouts” behind our shed. I will watch at a distance, giving him a chance to do things on his own but struggling with the question: How far is too far away from me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Invasion of the Little Toys

shopkins

I long for the one-year-old toys that used to clutter my floor. They were chunky, brightly colored, covered in drool, and usually ended up all over the house, but they could easily be collected into a toy box at night.  A quick walk through the room, and ta-da! the floor was clean.

I remember feeling a bit of annoyance along with pride as my kids started to crawl and then walk. As they became more adept at movement, the toys traveled with them farther and farther from the designated bins, corners, or rooms.  Of course, that is nothing compared to now.  At the ages of four and five, my children have so many toys with so many little pieces, it is nearly impossible to keep them contained or organized. Currently, these are the main culprits in my house:

LEGOS:  I used to keep them high on a shelf, but then my son started climbing and dragging chairs around, so that became pointless. Now, I leave them where he can reach them, and they end up EVERYWHERE.

dino1.jpg

He likes to make tiny dinosaur body parts and then feels a need to display them like fossils in a museum. They rest on the kitchen counter, the bathroom sink, or  my nightstand. There they must remain. As much as I try to make him clean up the stray pieces when he is done creating his masterpieces, there are always a few stragglers blending into the carpet of colorful, swirly flowers.  And, they hurt. They really, really hurt when you step on them.

SHOPKINS: I don’t even want to write about this.  I can’t believe they are even in my house. These are the most pointless, small toys ever, so of course my daughter is obsessed. It was cute when we had four of them. She kept track of her precious figures (Lipsy, Pamela Pancake, Cheese Louise, and Waffle Sue), and they mainly stayed in their little baskets.  However, for her birthday, a whole new supply of Shopkins arrived, and they now have become part of the daily landscape of my house.

She is currently obsessed with YouTube clips that show people opening plastic eggs or blind bags filled with tiny, plastic toys.  (If you don’t know what these are, simply search ‘egg surprise’ on YouTube and be amazed by the ridiculousness of it all!)

Shopkins are by far her favorite ones to open when she can talk me into buying her a blind bag, but some of her other favorites to watch are :  My Little Pony, Paw Patrol, Palace Pets, and anything Disney.  Watching these video clips, of course, creates wild, uncontrollable fits of temper in the aisles of Target when she demands that I purchase her these blind bags.

She has now learned to imitate these video clips to perfection.  She spends her days tucking small toys into socks, envelopes, or leftover plastic Easter eggs. Then, she hides them around the house, so she can unwrap them, narrate what she is doing, and pretend to be surprised by what’s inside. I am equally amused and concerned when she does this.

DINOSAURS:  My son is obsessed with dinosaurs and received a big bin of plastic dinosaurs for Christmas (Thanks, Dad!).  These dinosaurs like to hang out in his sister’s dollhouse, between sofa cushions, on the kitchen counter, or on the bathroom floor. Their migratory patterns are far and wide. Occasionally, he will create certain formations (Carnivores to the right! Herbivores to the left!) that remain in crooked lines down the center of his room for days.  I am impressed with his scientific reasoning, but do not enjoy stepping on the clubbed tail of an ankylosaurus every time I walk into his room.

He also likes to create “Dinosaur Stores” – a game in which he successfully messes up two rooms of the house at once.  This game basically consists of him displaying every dinosaur toy or book he owns. He places them on each piece of furniture in the living room, and then spreads out a deck of playing cards throughout the dining room; the cards are meant to be used as money to purchase the dinosaur books and toys. I am not allowed to move anything in the dinosaur store all day until my husband comes home from work to “shop.”

dinos

PALACE PETS: The figures themselves aren’t that bad, but all of the accessories! Each little pet comes with little combs and brushes and crowns. How in the world does anyone keep track of these? I find them under tables, in my car, and in my bed.

I mentioned something about this to one of the grandmothers at pre-school drop off a few weeks ago.  Her advice:  “That’s when you need to vacuum.” She mimicked the motion of vacuuming and went on, “Oops! There go the accessories!” Yes to this. Grandmothers are so smart. I was all worried about trying to keep Princess Tianna’s cat Lilly happy with her miniscule hair brush and cucumber facemask.  Not needed.

I try to fight it. I label bins, find bags, implement some sort of cleaning up rule.  At first, we are good about making sure each small toy and piece is returned to the correct spot. But then one day, my daughter will feel a need to fill a purse with one shoe of each one of her dolls or my son will arrange fifty plastic army guys into a figure eight and that’s the end of that.

What other little toys bother you?  What is your least favorite toy in your house?

Why I Can’t Wait to Take My Kids Camping Again

beachplaying

Last week, we spent some time camping in Black Moshannon State Park in Pennsylvania. This was a lovely destination surrounded by forests, bogs, a small beach, and plenty of sticks for the kids to wield like swords.

My husband and I enjoy camping, but we have not camped since the kids came along about six years ago. Due to my children’s wild bedtime antics and the general volume of their voices, I was convinced that camping would be a disaster. If not for us, for anyone else camping in a mile radius!  However, after a few successful hotel stays where the kids managed to sleep in the same room together without alerting hotel management, we decided to give it a go.  And, it was awesome.

camping

1. We existed without technology (including phones!) for over 24 hours. This is amazing. Probably more amazing that the adults did it, but I would like to see if we can accomplish this again!

2. It was fun – for everyone.  We often do things that the kids enjoy, but my husband and I find boring or tedious (bounce houses, carnivals, playgrounds, etc ). Or, we drag the kids to something that my husband and I like to do (eating at restaurants, going to museums, etc.), which the children find boring or tedious. This was a nice compromise! Some of our favorite parts of the camping experience included: canoeing on the lake, taking a walk through a bog that is home to carnivorous plants (!), eating s’mores, eating s’mores again for breakfast, hiking around the lake, and playing on the beach.

3. There was minimal complaining. It was hot and the kids had little sleep the night before.  We made them do things like hike up a mountain and canoe around a lake, but no one really complained. These types of activities are usually met with some sort of combination of the following:

  • “I’m hot.”
  •  “My legs are too tired to walk anymore.”
  •  “I need a snack.”
  •  “I have to go to the bathroom.”
  •  “This is boring.”
  •  “I want the Kindle/iPad/your phone.”

Although we live in the woods at home, the kids really loved exploring new woods and new trails, and we enjoyed watching them. I think they also realized there was only so much that complaining was going to get them when stuck in the middle of the lake.

4. We all worked together. We had the kids help set up camp, and when it was time to leave, they helped clean up as well. It was nice that they didn’t have a room to disappear to when I wanted them to get a chore done!

There were some mishaps along the way; believe me, the trip wasn’t perfect. There was a late night bloody nose after some horseplay in the tent, a forgotten grill, and a midnight rain storm to name a few, but these were just minor blips. No one seemed to be too bothered by much, and we all figured out how to make the best of it.

5. It was a learning experience. At home in our woods, the kids pretty much have free reign to explore; however, on this trip we really emphasized how it was important to stay on the designated trails and to not disturb the wildlife. Of course, this elicited a million questions, but it was fascinating to see them start to understand basic ideas of preserving natural habitats.

We also learned a ton about bogs since my son wanted me to read every single sign on the half mile boardwalk passage through the bog. I knew very little about bogs, but I was quite fascinated by the signs that told us how bogs can naturally mummify bodies!

holding hands

6. The kids are at the age where most things are amazing to them. They still cannot stop talking about sleeping in a tent – outside!  Every tree, rock, stick, or flower found on our hikes was something to be studied and investigated. Camping is a great way to explore new areas and to instill a permanent sense of natural wonder into your children.

IMG_1696

7. It creates such fun memories. I have so many memories of camping with my family as a child. One of my favorite memories is camping on Assateague Island in Maryland with my dad and having to eat my baked potato with a seashell because we forgot forks.

I just asked my son what he liked most about the trip, and he said, “Eating s’mores for breakfast!” My daughter replied, “The camping!” (She means the campfire.) I truly think they will retain many memories of their first camping trip. But, if not, that’s okay because I am already planning our next one.

 ***

Follow some of our other summer adventures on Instagram. I am trying to do one new thing a day with the kids this summer.  I’m already exhausted, but it’s been fun so far! Anyone doing anything interesting with their little ones? Give me some new ideas!