This morning Casey was a real pain. I didn't tell him I thought he was being a pain (though I'm sure he sensed my irritation in my tone)-- because lately when I tell him he's being a pain he says, "I not pain. You a pain, Mommy." And that makes me laugh. Which is not the proper response to your child when he's being a pain.
This morning he was being a pain because he wanted to wear his new Cars shirt. The one we bought yesterday at Target. The one that's so big, it hangs down to his knees because the smallest size they had was a boys' small. The one he wore all day yesterday. And sweated in. And rolled around in the dirt in. That one. I told him he couldn't wear it because it was dirty and stinky. And I promised he could wear it tomorrow-- that I'd wash it tonight. But he wasn't having it-- he wanted to wear that shirt. So he told me, "I not talking to you, Mommy. I going to ask Daddy." Now, Daddy was still asleep-- with an hour of sleep to go still remaining on our typical schedule. But far be it from me to keep a boy away from his dad, so off Casey stomped to talk to Jason.
Jason dutifully climbed out of bed-- albeit groggily-- and followed Casey back to Casey's room. Casey explained (as best he could) that he wanted to wear his new Cars shirt. And I added, "the dirty one," for more complete explanation. Jason told him he couldn't wear it, but that we'd wash it and he could wear it tomorrow-- to pick out something different. Casey seemed to accept this. He grabbed the dirty shirt off the floor and race out the door and into the laundry room. We heard the dryer open and close (I didn't even know he knew how to open it). And he came back and announced it was all ready to be washed. Then he opened his shirt drawer and without further complaint selected a (different) Cars shirt and put it on.
Jason and I later chuckled in the kitchen about how funny it was that Casey really thought one of us would undermine the other.
But then, on my drive to school this morning, I started thinking about how difficult Casey had been when he first awoke-- and that led me to thinking about how well-behaved he was yesterday-- and how much fun we had.
Now, I'm the first to admit that kids can sometimes be, well, for lack of a better term, burdensome. They are whiny. They are needy. They are expensive-- and I'm not talking about the cost of adoption, here. So why bother having kids at all? I mean, especially people like us-- people who have gone really far out of the way to have kids. No accidents here. Our family has definitely been planned. The answer is really simple. Kids really do enrich our lives.
And even when I'm irritated by Casey's insistence in not doing what I've asked, I'm equally impressed by his stick-to-it-ness. I'm impressed by his attempt at problem-solving by asking his dad for help. I'm impressed at him having and expressing opinions-- however much I may not like them.
But that's not all-- I remember how much pure joy Casey and Marcie bring to my small corner of the world. In an otherwise kind of dreary summer (as much as I love school, studying for the Bar really has been no picnic), yesterday was this bright ray of sunshine. . .
It started really quite normally. We left home around 8am with the stroller-- Casey racing ahead of us on the sidewalk, and Marcie strapped in. The sun was already out, sunscreen was appropriately applied, and it was starting to heat up as we made our way to the local Starbucks. We chit-chatted along the way, Casey mostly pointing out the crows-- though Marcie helping with her "caw caw" noises, too.
At Starbucks, we each enjoyed a beverage-- and we took our time. Marcie apparently knows both the words "Starbucks" and the word "coffee" (thanks, Mom), despite the fact that we frequent neither with any real sense of routine. Marcie had been carrying our miniature flag, and Casey wanted a turn, so we decided to stop into Target on the way home to see if they had any (they didn't). Outside the Target, Casey asked Jason what the flag was for. Thinking out loud (trying to come up with a response), Jason's said, "What is the flag for . . ." and before he could finish, Casey cried out, "In de pants!" Jason and I looked at each other in surprise. "What a great answer," Jason commented, and I of course agreed-- Independence!-- much better than what I could have come up with! And heck-- I didn't even know Casey knew any four syllable words!
Even though they didn't have a flag, it didn't stop us from contributing to the economy; we splurged on some pajamas for Marcie and a couple t-shirts-- this is where Casey picked out his new, favorite shirt. Marcie insisted on a shirt just like Casey's, so we got her one, too. And we trekked on home. By then, it was much hotter, and Casey was tired, so we took turns pushing the stroller and carrying Casey on our shoulders (even though it's a double stroller, he sometimes refuses to ride in it).
At home, we played a bit with the kids. Casey called his birth family and got to talk to his brother and his sister and his cousin. He was absolutely gleeful during the conversation. He is so excited that he has a big brother and big sister. Around 11am, Casey got lunch started for the kids. We told them I was going to study, I kissed them good-bye, and I disappeared into the study, in hopes they wouldn't look there for me (they didn't). I studied while they napped.
And after nap time, the real fun began. We played a little in the backyard-- mainly because Marcie discovered the water table full of water and began splashing about. Then we went to our local Fourth of July celebration. In our city, we have a 100 year old steam engine, and on 4th of July, when you ride it, there is an Old Fashioned, staged shoot-out. Casey was terrified of the gunfire. He lept out of my arms and into Jason's. Marcie, on the other hand, couldn't crane her neck far enough to enjoy the show. (Hmm. One daredevil. One not so much. Wonder which one will be riding the roller coasters with me . . .)
When we got home, some friends of ours were there waiting, with their 2 year old. A bit later another couple and their 13 month old arrived (now walking!). And the kids played. And played. Well, with the help of the dads. They got filthy. Filthy! Now this is totally my fault. Our backyard is just a dirt yard at the moment. The trampoline really needs to be washed down. So between kicking the soccer ball, sliding down the slide onto the hard, dirt ground, and rolling around during baseball playing, Casey (and Marcie) got a little grimy. And so did their friend Lucas.
Not to worry, though. After dinner, we tossed the boys into the bathtub, where they dumped water on each others heads and eliminated the grime. They were so dirty, it actually left a ring of dirt in the tub. While Marcie was getting her bath, we let Kate (the 1 year old) chase the naked boys around the living room and play area until they put on their pajamas. Then, once the kids were in their pajamas, we danced to Lollipop and Rockin Robin. Boy, their friend Lucas sure does know some cool dance moves. Three bed time stories later, it was time to say good bye to our friends and put Casey and Marcie down for the night. We had initially planned to go see fireworks, but we were just too tired.
I don't think I've laughed and smiled so much since I started studying for this test. Every once in a while, I wonder what it must be like to be preparing for this exam without a supportive spouse or partner and without children-- to just live alone, to be experiencing it alone. On the one hand, I guess it might be nice to have nothing and no one else to worry about. To not have to try and figure out which days you'll make it home in time for bedtime kisses or (gasp) even a family meal. To not be awoken multiple times throughout the night because someone is scared or thirsty or has to go potty. To not have to make four breakfasts and two lunches each morning before you can leave. To not have six loads of laundry each week (at least!). You know, to just worry about yourself.
But then, on the other hand, I cannot imagine my life without my fabulous children (and Jason, of course-- that goes without saying, really). Especially right now. Because as much as I know I need to spend time studying, I know that it's my family that helps provide me balance. I may have totally disengaged with friends and extended family during the past six weeks or so while I've been intensely focused on the preparing for this exam, but I haven't disengaged from my kids. Not emotionally. And not mentally. They really are such a bright spot in my otherwise kind of drab world-- I am so very lucky to have a family, to have my family-- my kids really have given me a life more enriched.