Last day of June, Tooth Fairy, and pains of getting older; Another rambling of sorts

Under this unusual circumstance of a pandemic, my kids tirelessly remind me that they’re bored. There’s not much I can do about it; I’m running out of ideas and stamina.

They exclaim they’re bored, literally, 2 seconds after they sit on the couch from playing. What?! Or they’re bored as they take off their shoes coming in from a walk. It’s baffling. After they say the 2 dreaded words, they already know my pre-recorded statement: “Being bored is not a bad thing. I want to be bored.”

With all their shenanigans and their endless boredom, I can visibly notice how much they’ve grown. A surprising change is their voluntary teeth brushing in the morning. It used to be an agonizing experience getting them to brush teeth twice a day…there would be tears, sighing, bribes, yelling (I’m not proud of this one), and dreadful stories of what happens to un-brushed teeth.

One morning this mid June, both of them began brushing without the usual whining. I assumed this is some fluke or kids buttering me up for something. But it’s been two weeks now; they’re brushing twice a day.

I’m not sure what inspired this change, but it might’ve been prompted by a lingering cavity tooth for Elliot. Since it is a baby tooth, the dentist told us to watch it so that the cavity doesn’t get worse. X-ray showed his new tooth growing in and the best thing would be for it to naturally fall out.

The tooth held up fine until mid May when he felt some pain around that tooth. We all panicked because the dentist office was closed. For days I had him gargle with salt water and told him, worse comes to worse, I will have to treat it myself as a non-professional dentist with “yankers” (a facetious term we picked up from a dinosaur show; I don’t have yankers, for real). Sorry kid, it’s the COVID time: the dentist office is closed.

Thankfully, we got an appointment the first week of the dentist reopening after the shelter-in-place. It was a hopeful car ride to the dentist as we prayed for the cavity to not get worse and that it truly was wiggly. Prognosis: it’s ready to fall out but in pieces. The tooth cracked but it didn’t cause pain or show any infection. BUT if it hurts, he’d need to get it extracted involving laughing gas.

A week later, part of that tooth with the cavity broke off and fell out. The other piece is hanging tight. Relief felt all around.

That night, a visit from the Tooth Fairy wrote encouraging notes for both kids, left Elliot’s tooth as a his souvenir as he requested in his letter, and hid small surprises for each under blankets. Usually she leaves it under the pillows, but this time the lumpy small Ninjago pod and Hatchimals Pet would be too obvious. Although Ellis didn’t lose a tooth, she has a tendency to remind you of her sadness frequently: she gets a small surprise for waiting patiently.

In the morning when he couldn’t feel the prize under his pillow, his eyes grew wide with nervousness. He’s matured because it wasn’t the old reaction of immediate crying. instead, he played it off like it was okay: maybe she doesn’t come for a cracked tooth or she’s sheltering-in-place because of COVID-19.

Dino chompers. Post-cleaning selfie

All those experiences may have motivated him to brush consistently. Ellis may be brushing for different reasons.

Ellis, 7, is still waiting to lose her first tooth. She has her eye on one of them but we’re not sure if it’s wiggly. Her teeth are small, like popcorn kernels. This has her jumping for joy that we’re going to the dentist this week. She’ll get the dentist’s authoritative word.

Then, she asked me if the Tooth Fairy would leave me a present if one of my tooth fell out. Do grown-ups get presents too? I replied, “Uhhhhh, that’s ok. I don’t want a gift from the Tooth Fairy. When you have grown-up teeth, you don’t want them falling out. It’s best to keep your teeth in your mouth instead of out.”

I shook my head in disbelief that I uttered those words. I felt like a dinosaur. Those are the kinds of things I heard from my parents or the older generation. There’s truth in it, but I was shocked to find myself saying the same thing.

It’s hard to get older and there’s a lot of regrets, wishes, and anxieties in facing the future. Changes are slow, sometimes dramatic, and seeing the difference/s from my young self to middle-aged self takes a toll on my self-image. It seems vain but the struggle is real. This will be a lesson of self-acceptance and thankfulness that with God’s help I get to see the faces of my 3 favorite peeps each day.

God created both youthfulness and aging. There are pros and cons to both, but I have to rekindle faith that God knows what he’s doing and that it’s a natural process of life. I was young once…now it’s transition time to a new stage.

p.s. Ellis got definitive word that bottom tooth is wiggly. She’s in high spirits!

Dino drama

Our house is inundated with dinosaur toys. Kids have been collecting them for years; they want each of every kind (and the variety is endless). When I store the dino toys away in the closet, they are adamant these ferocious looking animals stay in open view.

Baby-rex out for dessert with his pet dog. The geese background is from a wooden tray my neighbor made for me. She decoupaged and painted the sides and back an ocean blue color.
Baby rex reassuring pony that hedgehogs are not scary but friendly.
Ball toss at the beach!
Back and forth…

I like the dino figures made specifically for the toddler age group, which Ellis got as introduction to dinosaurs. She was frightened to play with her brother’s dino collection yet she wanted to have her own that was not to sharp and plastic-y. These toddler dinos have round features, friendly smiles, and soft bodies. Fast forward three years, and I’m the only one who still likes the toddler ones. I’m told: “it’s so baby looking.”

Ok, that was a long introduction to this post. Will not digress anymore. Kids decided to bring out boxes of dinosaurs into the living room and have created a beach setting for them. Walking from couch to kitchen requires special footwork and keen vision; one misstep creates a domino effect of the town collapsing and tearful children. Lately, setting up toys for pictures has been lots of fun. People on the internet have done some marvelous and creative things with toys looking like real people or characters doing everyday things.

I wanted to try. Here are some pics:

Kids say funny things: Part 7. Birds are chirping

With warmer weather and more sunshine trees are shaking off its winter slumber and birds are getting more vocal too.

On a stroll last weekend, kids and I walked near a tall tree with chirping sounds coming from above; but no sight of birds. This tree however kept its leaves and its sprawling branches made a ring of dark shadow on the ground. We peeked underneath carefully and quickly: wanted to avoid any bird dropping surprises.

A Eucalyptus tree from Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve. (Not a picture of the actual tree I’m referring to)

Me: “Can you guys see any of the birds?”

Kids: Looking up at the tree and its intertwined bare branches…They could hear varied chirping sounds from different tree spots but none were visible.

Me: “I guess they’re busy building nests.” I’m not sure of that statement’s accuracy, but in passing I learned that birds build nests and lay eggs in the spring when leaves start to grow on trees. Good time for baby birds to hatch and get stronger so they’re mature by summer.

Ellis: “They are singing loud.”

Silence. Everyone doing their own thing. Me: sipping coffee from my tumbler and checking out new flower buds. Elliot: hopping on lines of the sidewalk.

Ellis: “I think they’re practicing a song.”

Me: “What song?”

Ellis: In a low voice, she mumbles to herself. “Maybe they’re practicing the happy birthday song to sing for my birthday.”

Elliot: “What song?!” He asks loudly like he couldn’t believe what he heard.

Ellis: “To sing happy birthday for me for my birthday.” She shyly responds putting her hands in her jacket pocket.

Elliot: “Oh Ellis. I don’t think they know that song.”

I wish I could see the world where birds sing only for me and the same squirrel, named Fretz, pops up to say “hello” whenever we see a random one around town. If the squirrel looks different, it’s assumed to be Fretz’s girlfriend or uncle.

It’s part of my mom job to say “no” to my kids

My kids despise hearing me say “No” to them. They think it’s a personal attack on their being as though I had cursed them out or something to that degree.

I understand that it’s not the easiest word to hear or accept no matter the age. But how can you avoid not saying or hearing it?

I could use my softest voice, but it still gets them sad, mad, frustrated, or even teary eyed. It’s baffling. I tell them it’s my job as mom to say “no,” because I know what’s good for them and I have more life experience to make better decisions. (omg, I sound exactly like my parents!!)

It would be much easier to comply and say “yes” to all their demands, but that wouldn’t be in their best interest making me an irresponsible parent.

So I asked them to give me a thumbs up or down on me using different tones to say “no.” None got approved.

Usually, I don’t raise my voice, but according to them, I’m yelling while fuming smoke of my ears. So Elliot came up with a “brilliant” (his words, not mine) idea to wave a “no” sign instead.

Guess what? I made little signs for each of us to wave while we do school lessons. One side says “no” and the other says “yes.” This won’t last long; but for today, it diffused conflict, gave me something crafty to do, and generated some wild laughs.

“No is a complete sentence and so often we forget that.” – Susan Gregg

This conversation reminds me of how miffed I get towards God when I think he’s saying “no” to me. Raising kids makes me aware of how our parent/child relationship reflects our relationship with God. If I want good for my kids, how much more does our holy God have for us. I need to trust his promise when things aren’t going my way and interruptions drive me crazy! In retrospect, I’m so grateful that he said “no” to some of my prayer requests: I had no idea what I was asking or hoping for.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 12:11

Kids say funny things: Part 6, The agony of brushing teeth

Brushing teeth is the dreaded chore my kids want to avoid at all costs. Every time I ask, “did you brush your teeth?” my tone and decibel go up each time I repeat (or yell) this despised question. It seems a simple task but to them it means war.

Below is a snippet of our typical conversation:

Mommy: “Did you brush your teeth?”

Elliot: “No, not yet…(moping around)…do I HAVE to?”

Mommy: “Uh…yes. You have some grown-up teeth now and you need to take care of them. Do you want the dentist to yank out your tooth like he did mine? You want a fake tooth like me (referring to a long, expensive, and inconvenient implant process the kids witnessed)?”

Elliot: “I know…I know (Sounding exacerbated, perhaps with some eye rolling). But why does Ellis get to rinse her mouth instead of brushing her teeth?”

Ellis: looking guilty and darting her eyes back and forth from me to her brother. holding her blankie and sniffing it while brother and I heatedly discuss her teeth-brushing habits.

Mommy: “Because she may throw up again. You know she does some mornings. She’ll brush tonight, ok?”

Ellis looks satisfied with my response and nods in agreement with a serious face.

Elliot: “No she won’t! Ugh, why does grown-up teeth take so much CARE???” (Grumbling while getting his toothbrush ready)

Many more battles will come throughout day. Then, we do it all over again with nighttime brushing.

This conversation occurs almost everyday. By the time both sets of teeth are clean, I’m pooped out. This is just one battle to start the day.

Maybe when they start brushing by themselves I’ll miss these talks. I try to remember that so I don’t drive myself nuts. Situation has improved however in the past few years: they’ve stopped chomping my finger while I brushed their tiny teeth.