Pushback

How is it possible to trash talk during a FAMILY DICE GAME?  As Mad Dog will tell you, he is gifted at a lot of things and trash talking is one of them.  For him, it’s a subtle balance of talking up his legendary gaming status and pushing buttons whenever one of his opponents shows any glimpse of weakness.  Not surprisingly, a recent game of Farkle pushed T.Puzzle to frustrated tears.  He cannot stand to lose, but to lose to Mad Dog is anathema.

Then there’s me.  I actually encourage family games.  I have this deluded notion that I can spark a positive connection between my family members (ha!).  Most of the time it is fun, even the trash talking part.   The crazy things Mad Dog says are classic and lead to laughter.  Laughter is where all the magic happens.  Then, there are the times when the laughter turns sour.  The game goes so far off the rails, you can’t turn back.

I also am not sure why I’m the only one in my family that truly appreciates the outdoors.  To get all three of my guys to do something outside takes monumental persistence and strength.  The pushback is incredible.  If they were left to their own devices, I’m guessing they would just be attached to said devices (i.e.-smartphones, laptops, gaming systems).

Why do I insist on family games and outings?  I like making the three of them step out of their comfort zone.  I like that they are forced to interact with each other.  This is how we learn and grow.  This is how we bond.

I have days where I lose motivation due to the enormous amount of resistance I encounter.  I asked Mad Dog why he always has to drag his feet on my ideas for family time.  His theory is that he is trying to maintain the illusion that he is still the alpha of the house.  Even though part of him knows what I’m suggesting is good for him and ultimately he will comply (mostly), he can only do so in his own complicated way.  I appreciated his honesty.  I didn’t fall in love with him because he always agrees with everything I say as soon as I say it.  I like that he challenges me.

That’s the whole point of loving someone.  You love them for exactly who they are, not who you think they should be.

I knew full well when I walked down the aisle towards Mad Dog on our wedding day, he was a trash talker of epic proportions.  I kept walking anyway because there was so much awesome in him that it made everything ok.  I knew my life would never be boring and it would be full of amazing adventures (see also Wrigley Rising).

I happened to get two bonus awesomes out the deal, too.

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So Long, Farewell! Part Two

The Super Bowl is over so football is over. This means baseball is almost here!

Woo-hoo!

I was sharing my baseball glee with the boys over dinner.

“Guess what?  Spring training games begin FEBRUARY 25TH!!!  Aren’t you both excited?”

T.Puzzle looked crestfallen at his impending loss of tv viewing control.  Full Speed was more diplomatic.  He graciously updated me on the recent team acquisitions and trades.  He turns to T.Puzzle, “Are you ready to never watch one of your shows until baseball is over?”

T.Puzzle replied (with shoulders slumped defeatedly no less), “How many games are in a season?”

I don’t know why he was being so dramatic, it’s ONLY 162 (not counting post-season, fingers crossed!).

“Guys, remember I said that I will be open to letting you watch an occasional show if it is really important to you.  If we can’t come to a compromise, you are always welcome to go upstairs and watch your show there (there’s a nifty loft space with a tv where they play video games so trust me, they are not being banished to a dark place of doom).”

T.Puzzle says, “But Full Speed will never want to watch a show, he will always want to watch baseball and I know I can’t watch certain shows without him.”  Again, his tone was absolutely pitiful.

I could almost read verbatim the words in Full Speed’s thought bubble that were forming over his head.  Yes, he loves his mom and enjoys baseball up to a certain point, BUT, some days he’s fine to watch something else.  However, he was very scared to voice this last part so as not to hurt my feelings (very sweet).  As I relayed my theory about what he was thinking, his body relaxed visibly in the knowledge he didn’t have to tell his (famous) World Series Champion mother, that he may not want to watch baseball every single day of his life.

“Seriously, Full Speed.  It’s fine.  I understand there are going to be days you won’t want to watch a game with me.  It doesn’t even matter that whoever does watch the game with me will get a bigger inheritance.  There’s no pressure.”

Full Speed’s face cracks into a giant grin.

#PayForYourOwnCollege

#GoCubs

#WSchampion

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Lost, and Most Likely Never Found

In my household there is a strange phenomenon.  I am the only person that can find things.  If Mad Dog, Full Speed and/or T.Puzzle locate something, and usually with insanely detailed directions from me, it is a miracle to be celebrated.  Seriously… a MIRACLE.

Keeping this in mind, T.Puzzle asked me to sign his school planner today.  As he handed me his notebook, the page I needed to sign floated onto my lap as soon as I turned to it.  To easily problem solve this, I asked him to bring me a paper clip.  Ha!  I said easily!  Normally to save us all from ourselves, if something needs to be found I am the one to do so.  However, my dog was so super-snugly and napping sweetly on my lap, I was highly unmotivated.  Therefore, it was up to T.Puzzle to save himself.

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T.Puzzle with the Snuggle Captain of the Universe

He walks over to the desk and in about two seconds flat announces, “I can’t find it!  There aren’t any paper clips here!”

Weird that I’d store paper clips in a desk of all things, right?

“Trust me, T.Puzzle, they are in there.  First, locate the middle drawer.  This is the one that is narrow and very long.”  He did.

“Nope! No paper clips!”

“Hang with me T.Puzzle.  Look at the upper left-hand quadrant of the open drawer (my boys are mathematically minded so it sounds odd, but this type of description is helpful, well, at least mildly so) and there should be a pack of paper clips.  It’s fine if you can’t open the pack, just bring them to me.”

He’s quiet so I take that as a good sign.  As he approaches me, I absentmindedly extend my hand to receive the clip.  He delicately places a used staple in my hand.

A USED STAPLE!

I have no words.  But, I do have paper clips.  Loads of them in fact because T.Puzzle still hasn’t used any.

 

 

1, 2, 3 Strikes You’re Out

I want to give you fair warning.  This post is going to be pretty emotional.  You are going to get a sense of how deeply connected T.Puzzle is to me, his overarching love of school and lastly, Full Speed’s brotherly commitment to look out for T.Puzzle.  It’s all there…enjoy.

In recent months we have been noticing a theme in T.Puzzle’s life.  And that theme is…video games.  He is rather obsessed and talks about gaming constantly.  Even when we have a round of ‘family questions’ at the dinner table, rather miraculously he can loop it back to video games.

Here are some examples:

If you could be anyone in the world for a day, who would you be?

“Someone allowed to play video games all day and night long.”

If you saw your friend steal something, would you turn them in?

“That depends on what it is.  If it’s a cool video game, probably not.  I’d want to play it with him.”

You get the idea.

A couple years back, T.Puzzle was given the task at school to make me a Mother’s Day card.  Here’s the final result, and get those tissues ready… the tears are going to fall…

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I told you it was emotional.  I’ll give you a minute while you collect yourself.

Better?  Good.

Since it’s clear that T.Puzzle loves video games above all else, what’s a mom to do with this sort of intel?  About two weeks ago I put T.Puzzle on an incentive program.  His manners and attitude still often leave much to be desired.  If he happens to forget his manners, roll his eyes at me or give me lip when asked to do a chore, he gets a strike.  If he gets three strikes in a seven day period, he loses gaming privileges for the weekend (the only time he is allowed to play them during the school year).  Naturally, it’s working pretty well.  Except for this past week, he was feeling particularly ornery with his brother and had already used two strikes.  We were on the edge of our seats…would he make it the final stretch without a strike?  He did ok on the last night, but he still had to make it through the morning (the seven day strike period runs Friday after school through Friday morning the following week).   As he trounced into the kitchen this morning I asked, “Do you think you can make it until you go to school without getting another strike?”

“Sure!  But I better leave now!  Gotta go.  Can’t wait to get there!”  This all coming from a kid who is currently appalled that he has perfect attendance.

Of course, this made me laugh.  He is self-aware enough to know that his inabilty to control impulses could land him in third strike territory.

We managed to get through breakfast and the rest of our morning without incident.

T.Puzzle was first out of the garage with his bike as usual.  I turned to Full Speed and said, “Can you believe he actually made it without a third strike?”

“Mom!  He didn’t say goodbye to you!  That’s an automatic strike!”

“Nice try, kid.”

“I’m serious, Mom!  He rode his bike DANGEROUSLY FAST down the driveway.  He’s gotta get a strike for that.”

“Full Speed, it just warms my heart how much you look out for your brother.”

Wonder if he loves him as much as video games?

So Long, Farewell!

As we were finishing up some giant breakfast cinnamon rolls at a newly opened breakfast eatery, T.Puzzle shared a thought.  It was baseball related because part of the charm of this eatery is they ask you random, unique questions to help label your order.  Our particular question was, ‘what are you looking forward to in the New Year?’ and Mad Dog had replied, “Another Cubs’ World Series win.”

Nice.

Anyway, T.Puzzle knows that baseball season is coming.  He understands that I have been patiently biding my time until I can yet again, watch the Cubs play every day of my life (off days and rare excpections excluded).

Again, nice.

“I do like baseball, Mom, but sometimes I wish that there were nights that I could watch one of my shows instead of watching the Cubs.”

“T.Puzzle, that is so great of you to share, but unfortunately, you are going to have to move.  I will even help you pack your bags,” I reply.

“Do we really have to watch every game all the time?” he laments.

“Seriously, I hear you, but where exactly do you want me to forward your mail?”

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