Monthly Archives: July 2012

This Vagabond Life (Day 31 and counting)

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It’s Day 31 of the month–and of our lives as vagabonds.

After packing up everything we own and sending it to storage, we departed our princely town on June 30, and we have been busy! We’ve spent weeks traveling the continent. We’ve stayed at country houses and city houses and hotels and motels and in our palatial tent (as palatial as tents come, anyway . . .) . We’ve been seeing mountains and fountains and lakes and moose and elk and bison and geysers and hot springs and canyons and tall towers and waterfalls and shopping meccas and bears and a Cubs game–

This fellow greeted me on my bleary-eyed amble to the bathroom for my morning ablutions. If you think I backed away slowly, pretended to be big and scary, or zapped him with bear spray, you overestimate my woods smarts. I ran for my life.

I probably should have moved Baby MoFo a little further away from this bit of wildlife rather than snapping pictures …

Too much damn traffic. It’s worse than NYC around here!

We’ve been going on magnificent hikes and boat rides and elevator rides and bike rides–

Is this freaking gorgeous or WHAT?

And we’ve been doing a heck of a lot of driving.

Pinch caught on camera

The driving is something of a challenge. Our home rule is 30 minutes of screen time a day (iPad, TV, computer, and Wii all count), but we tend to be laxer on the long drives. After all, although my friend Anna Oh believes kids can be kept entertained for hours on end with a roll of tin foil (think of the possibilities!), I see no evidence of such vast creativity in my kids. We play Geography and Brain Quest and word bingo; they color and write in their journals; they nap and snack and fight; and when they get bored of all that, they watch DVDs. It helps with everyone’s sanity.

The downside is this: whenever I ask them what their favorite thing has been thus far, they reply, hesitantly, because they know what answer I don’t want to hear: “Do you mean other than screen time?” And then they scramble to come up with a suitable answer (“Does eating ice cream count?”).

And when my friend asked them what their favorite activity has been–asked them, that is, when I wasn’t around–they told her frankly: “Playing Wii at our cousins’ house!!!!”

So you might wonder, as I wonder, if I am completely wasting my time taking them on adventures across the continent when clearly this–

Looking at the “grand” canyon below–

is less interesting to these boys than this:

Bliss

Bedtime Battle Royale

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Picture it: Two vagabond parents pack up everything they own and throw it all into storage, then they drag their kids from their (now empty) home, stick them in the car, drive for hours, and when they arrive at a little house in a wooded lake town in the mountains, they say, “OK, everyone, sleep tight. This will be your home for exactly two weeks. Then we move on again.”

And they expect the kids to crawl into their chosen beds, pull up the covers, and not be heard from again until morning, when they eagerly rise to find their clothes in new dressers, eat their breakfast in a new dining room, and start a day at a new camp or at a new beach, make new (albeit temporary) friends, and try out new activities. Oh–and some of this in a new language. They have crossed an international border during their long drive, you see, into a land where most people do not actually speak English (and if they do, they pretend not to).

No problem. And really, no problem!–for the big kids.

You see, the big kids are used to being schlepped hither and thither. LL has probably been to more countries than many adults–among them, Japan, France, England, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Mexico, Italy, Germany (twice)–and he’s been to most provinces in Canada and almost half the states in the U.S. And as for living, he started life in the Northeastern US, moved to Western Canada, then back(ish) . . . Schlepping? No problem.

But the youngest–it’s hard to say that Baby MoFo remembers anything before our life in our princely town, save a visit to Gramma and Saba in the sunny state over winter break. If you think he remembers the famous camping incident or even this very country house that we stayed at last summer, you would probably be mistaken.

And perhaps this confusion is what has contributed to the BEDTIME BATTLE ROYALE.

I say “contributed” because even before leaving the princely town, we were having our share of woes: Baby MoFo diving out of his crib 1, 2, 10, 26 times and being returned 1, 2, 10, 26 times until he finally fell asleep. But now these woes have been ratcheted up a notch.

Now, the out-of-beds are more rapid (no crib), easier (the doors don’t close properly), and more disruptive (the boys are all sharing a room here), and they go on for much, much longer (sunlight be gone!). And to make things worse, this sneaky child’s mama feels guilty because she’s the one who is schlepping him hither and thither and then telling him to just sleep tight.

The routine goes something like this: Baby MoFo is readied for bed (bathed or not, changed into PJs, read stories). He gets some milky in a sippy cup which he is likely to throw at my head (I will confess, at this inopportune moment, that I took away his bottle exactly 2 days ago–which my pediatrician will likely say is insane because I should have done it a year ago or more, and my mother tells me is insane because a time of life changes is not a time to add more life changes). He is tucked into bed. Then he comes out and is returned to his initial bed for hours. Then the other kids beg us to take him elsewhere (I can swear I heard Cool J shout SHUT THE FUCK UP while fast asleep) and he goes into my bed. Then his bubby’s bed. Then the couch in the foyer. And then we’re back to his bed and he comes out and I put him in and he comes out and I put him in and I sit beside the door of his room and eventually he either gives up his wakefulness right at that border–

Or maybe makes it all the way into the living room and onto the sofa to come sit beside a mama who is too exhausted to return him to bed one. more. time and gives up there–

Yes, eventually he falls asleep. On his terms.

Please oh please oh please readers–mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, pediatricians, people who have nothing to do with kids but like to dispense parenting advice nonetheless– do send me your brilliant insights and your deep wisdom, for which I would be so grateful — How, oh how, do I get this child to GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP?–in his bed, at bedtime.

[Here, my readers, is Cool J’s suggestion:

Cool J: “Hey, mama, look what you can do with this laundry hamper? BABY JAIL!!!!!!!”