Kids or Self-Esteem: You Can Only Choose One

“What’s this?”

“That’s my eyebrow, Squid.”

“What’s this?”

“What?  You’re three now.  You know what those are.”

“No, you tell me.  Please?”

“Fine.  Those are lips.”

“What’s this?”

“Cheekbones.”

“What’s this?”

“That’s my neck.”

“What’s this?”

“Clavicle.”

“What’s this, Ma?”

“Squid, you know that one.  Chin.”

“What’s this?”

“…. Uh, that’s my chin.”

“No, this your chin.  What’s this?”

“Uh… my neck?”

“No, Ma.  This your neck.  What’s THIS?”

“Uh….”

“Ma, tell me.  What’s this?  WHAT’S THIS?”

“….. that’s my double chin.  Go away.  I’m done playing.”

Singing

I love singing.

I mean, don’t get me wrong – I’m not great at it.  I’m just kind of okay.  I can mostly stay on key, I don’t normally sound like nails on a chalkboard, and if you hold a single note for 5 or 6 seconds straight, I can even find harmony. Sort of.

For the record, in my next life I’m going to have a voice like Julie London, or maybe Ella Fitzgerald, or Etta James – all smoky and sultry, and come-hithery.

In fact, since the majority of you will never actually hear me sing.. can you just imagine I sound like them? Please?  And in this imaginary daydream, can I be wearing some kind of evening gown, and I’m all draping myself over the back of my couch, crooning some jazzy thing, and I’m holding a drink in my hand, and it’s not sloshing over the side, because that’s just how cool I am?

Thanks.

Anyways, back to singing.  I love to sing, and one of the things I was most looking forward to was singing to my boys as they got older.

I could just see it – I’d sing them soft little lullabies, and eventually they’d get old enough to sing along with me, and we’d just totally bond….

I just remembered right now I’ve already written a blog post about what happens when I try to sing with my kids.

That video?  It’s still like that.  I’ll start bursting out into song – REAL song, not loud, goofy Rickrolling –  and my beloved offspring will do everything they can to make me stop.  “Mama?  No singing.  Please.  STOP.  STOP.  NO SINGING.  NO, I NOT WANT TO SING WITH YOU.  NO, I DON’T WANT YOU TO SING.  NO SINGING, PLEASE.”

I’d be insulted, but they think Carly Rae Jepsen is better than Etta James, so I don’t really trust their musical taste.

Anyways, this brings me back to this afternoon.  The boys went down for a nap, and The Bean was studying for the last section of his CPA exam (woot!  You’re gonna do great, babe!), so I snuck down to the barn for a little quiet time with Caspian.

The truth is, I don’t get much quiet time with Caspian.  I know this is going to come as a shock, but it’s actually not very relaxing, trying to clean and care for a horse while chasing after two hyperactive little boys.  It’s better than the alternative of not owning a horse, but still.  Trips to the barn aren’t quite as soothing to my soul as they used to be.

To throw another log on the fire, up until a couple of weeks ago, I was really having problems bonding with Caspian.  Oh, that doesn’t mean I don’t really enjoy my time with him, and he’s an awesome horse – but he’s no goofy, puppy-dog gelding.

(Spoiler:  Last month we had an unbelievably awesome breakthrough that I’m planning on blogging about later.)

He’s an awesome horse, gorgeous to look at, wonderful to ride, sound, steady, sane… but for the most part, while he’ll stand for you to hold him, or love on him, or even hug his head, his heart really isn’t in it.

Except….

After our ride today I had him in the cross ties in the barn aisle way so I could untack him and brush him down.  He’s starting to shed, and it’s actually been kind of amusing watching him try to remain stoic and “manly” when I scratch his itchy spots (another spoiler:  He totally can’t.  I win every time.)

I’d finished everything and was getting ready to put his lead rope back on to lead him to the stall, when I felt him lean in towards me.

The thing is, with Caspian, his friendship offerings are very quiet.  If you aren’t desperate for them, like I have been, you’d probably miss it – but the barn was quiet, and I was moving slow and quiet, and I felt it.

He’s so good – so very good, with the boys, with their craziness, with my fumblings, with everything – that I’ve been trying to respect his desire to not be pawed on.  I mean, I want to hang all over my horse, and scratch under his chin, and play with his lips, and kiss him on the soft part of his nose….. but he would prefer that I don’t.  He’ll let me – but that’s just it.  He’ll let me, because he’s nice, not because he likes it.  And since he gives me everything I ask for, and more… it seems like the least I can do is not force my neediness on him.

The thing is, ever since I made that decision and quit trying to force him to be something he’s not, he’s been relaxing more and more.  And this afternoon, as he leaned towards me that infinitesimal amount, it felt like such a gift.

I stood there beside him, leaning my forehead on his strong neck, right behind his head.  With Jubilee, I used to lean in the hollow of his withers, but with Caspian, it’s the dip where his neck meets his head.  And I leaned there, ignoring the way his shedding hairs were starting to stick to my chapstick, and I felt him enjoy me being there.

We both just stood there, motionless for awhile, while I reached under his jaw with my free hand so I could cup the other side of his face and scratch his cheek.  And then, I’m not really sure why, I started to sing.

I was singing very, very softly, mostly because for all that I felt alone, I knew that someone could come into the barn aisle at any moment, and it felt like such a personal moment that I didn’t want to share it – I wanted to be able to hide it if they did see, and just pretend I was grooming him, or something.

But the thing is – when I started to sing… Caspian leaned into me heavier.  His head dropped, and his neck curled slightly around me… and as I stood there, with the rain pouring hard on the tin roof of the barn, and my finger curling through the bristly hair of his cheek, I felt my horse listening to my song.

His head dropped even further, and his breathing became very soft, and I watched, amazed, as his eyelid fluttered lower and lower, until finally, it closed.

And that, my dear blog friends, is why I’m selling my children so I can spend more time with my horse.  Because he lets me sing him to sleep.

And, also, because he’s better looking than they are. Hopefully by the time they get old enough to search the internet, this post where I admit that will be so far buried that they’ll never find it.

Can I eat my kids yet?

“DON’T GO PEE OUT THERE NAKED.  Squid, you don’t go pee naked.  Everyone see you.  what you were thinking ’bout, peeing in the front yard?”

“Nuthin’. I just pee. DragonMonkey, Let me in.”

**************
 “Boys, your mom is out running errands.  I’ll be watching you while she’s gone.  You can play with any of my sons’ toys that you want, but all I ask is that you pick them up when you’re done.  Understand, Dragonmonkey?

“Yes, Mrs. D.”

“Squid?”

“Yes, Mrs. D.”

“Okay have fun.”

“Boys – I need you to clean this up.  You’ve scattered toys all over the hall, and in the living room.  Come put them away.”

“Yes, Mrs. D.”

“Yes, Mrs. D.”

“DragonMonkey, Squid, both of you come here, right now.  Look what you did – when I said you needed to put the toys away, I meant you needed to actually put them away, not just throw them in my son’s room and shut the door.  Do you understand?”

“Yes.  I sowwy, Mrs. D.”

“That’s fine, Squid.  Thank you for apologizing.  Just clean them up and you’ll be fine…. DragonMonkey?”

“…….”

“DragonMonkey?”

“…….”

“DragonMonkey, you can either answer me and go clean up those toys, or you can go on the timeout chair.”

“Awww, shit.  SHIT.  Fine, Mrs. D.”

*****

At five and three years old, they’re probably too big to eat, right?