Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Surprised, to the Max!

There is a well known fact in my tight little neighborhood community. Michael does not like Max.

Max is the youngest boy in the neighborhood and he also happens to be the younger brother of one of Michael's close friends. Any time the kids are outside playing, Max is there.

Max is a typical little boy. He was crawling at the beginning of the summer, and he loved to dump out the sidewalk chalk. In Michael's mind, this was completely unacceptable. Dumping chalk is against the rules. Max dumps chalk. Max is breaking the rules. Max should get in trouble.

The problem with this is that Max didn't get in trouble for dumping the chalk. 16 month olds dump chalk. It's just what they do. So, while we would discourage him from doing it, he never got in trouble for it. Even worse, we let him do it!

So, Michael took matters into his own hands. He constantly tried to hide the chalk from Max. When that didn't work, he'd take the chalk away from him. This went on all summer long with chalk and any other toy that Max showed any interest in. It only got worse once Max learned to walk, and started chasing after Michael trying to get the very thing Michael was trying to keep from him.

Max drove Michael crazy. It lead to many time outs for Michael because he constantly knocked Max over while trying to take things from him. We had a lot of discussions about setting a good example and not being mean to Max. We explained that what Max was doing is just part of growing up, and that Michael did the very same things. We even hauled his hiney into the house a few times because he was so rude to Max.

A perfect example of how Michael feels about Max occurred a few weeks ago at Max's 2nd birthday party. When we walked in, Max was so excited he ran over and gave Michael a hug. Michael just lifted his arms out of the way while Max squeezed him tight. The look of disgust on Michael's face cracked up the entire room of parents.

It's pretty clear. Michael hardly tolerates Max's existence.

So, imagine my surprise when Michael got home from school yesterday and pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. He often colors at J's house before school, and it's normally a picture for Andy or I. I unfolded the sheet of paper and there was a picture and a sentence written at the top. it was little kid spelling, but it clearly read "This paper is for Max". When I asked Michael about it he explained that the picture was a drawing of a new Batman and that he had drawn it for Max.

"Really? You drew it for Max?"

He assured me that he had, indeed, drawn the picture for Max. I had just seen Max go in the house, so I asked Michael if he'd like to go over and give it to Max. I expected him to say no, but he did. He took the picture back from me and headed outside where he gave Max's mom the picture and asked her to hang it up for Max.

I just about melted on the spot.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Tooth Fairy

While I always had reservations about the existence of Santa when I was little, and was a little concerned about carrying that tradition forward with Michael, I've always loved the myth of the tooth fairy.

It's a strange little myth if you think about it. You lose a tooth, stick it under your pillow, and a fairy comes along to collect it and give you money in exchange. Who was the first person to realize that you should stick your tooth under the pillow to begin with? I picture some kid looking at his lost tooth, scratching his head while contemplating the tooth. Then, the light bulb goes off and he thinks, Ah yes, under the pillow makes sense.

Also, why would a fairy collect teeth? What does she do with them all? Is that what fairy dust is made from, powdered teeth? Ewww!

It's just the kind of ridiculousness that I go for.

Michael's first tooth started to wiggle on a Friday. I tugged on it for him, but it wasn't budging. The next day, it was a little looser, so I gave it a tug again. Nothing. Same thing the next day and the next. I was so excited that he was about to lose his first tooth that I ended up joking around with him that "I WANT YOUR TOOTH!" Everyday. He'd collapse into giggles, but that stubborn little bugger would not fall out. By the next Friday it was so loose that I'm pretty sure it was being held in by magic.

Partly, I was excited to see Michael with that adorable little kid toothless grin. But, I was also excited because a lost tooth would mean I get to be the tooth fairy. How awesome is that?

So I started considering the logistics involved with being the tooth fairy. How do you slide a tooth out from under a sleeping child's head and replace it with money? How much money should the tooth fairy leave? What's the going rate in the neighborhood? I even did a little tooth fairy math, 20 teeth * X dollars = Y dollars plugging in different values for X. (Yes, the tooth fairy is a geek. What do expect from someone who collects human teeth?)

Saturday morning I checked Michael's tooth and there was no way that it wasn't coming out. I grabbed a tissue and gave a little tug and it popped right out. I was surprised at just how tiny it was. Did that itty, bitty little thing really cause all that trouble when it was coming in? How many hours of sleep did we lose over such a small thing?

We wrapped the tooth up and placed it in a jewelry box. Michael was so excited, he didn't even wait until bedtime to tuck it under his pillow. He grabbed the box from me and ran upstairs right away.

Throughout the day, we talked about what the tooth fairy was going to bring him. Michael assured me that she didn't necessarily have to leave money. Maybe she would bring a toy or something fun. "Oh really? I didn't know that". It was so much fun.

At bedtime I double checked to make sure the box was there. I told Michael it was just to make sure nothing had happened to it, but it was really so I would know exactly where it was. I was a little concerned about waking him up, so I let him sleep for several hours before sneaking in and making the tooth/money switch. Andy had grabbed one of Michael's stuffed animals, so I had that in my hand in case Michael woke up. Then, I'd have an excuse for being there. But I didn't need it. The tooth fairy pulled it off without a hitch.

The next morning, Michael was so excited to find $2 under his pillow. Once again, within the same weekend, he was touched by a little magic. He also noticed that the tooth next to the lost tooth was loose, so I suspect the tooth fairy will be paying us another visit soon.

While Michael and I were sitting on the sofa chatting about it, he told me that he had actually caught a glimpse of the tooth fairy.

"Really, what did she look like?" I asked.

"She had wings like a butterfly!" He replied. I just smiled. I'm pretty sure that the tooth fairy was wearing PJs and may have smelled like she had just had a glass of red wine, but I like the idea of having butterfly wings, so I'll go with it.

Now, the tooth fairy is wondering if maybe the next time she shouldn't leave behind a little fairy dust of her own.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Magic

For the most part, I'm not good with magic. I am, and have always been, a highly skeptical person. If something seems even a little unrealistic, I'm the one that's going to question it and try to figure out what's really going on.

This trait is very useful when I receive emails from Africa asking me to send money for some crazy scheme. It's not so useful when dealing with little kids who want to believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy. In fact, skeptical mommy equals magical buzz kill who RUINS CHRISTMAS!

I've been working on letting Michael have a little magic this year, and it seems to be working.

In past years, we have not had any luck with Santa visits. We managed to pull it off once when he was very little, but there were so many tears involved, that I'm not sure it was worth it. Last year, Michael considered it, but backed off before even getting into line.

Despite the failures, every year we ask Michael if he wants to sit on Santa's lap. When we asked this year, his response was, "The Santa in the mall is just a man in a costume". Yikes! My little skeptic is already debunking Santa?

While part of me was proud that he figured it out, I really didn't want to give up on the fantasy yet. So I asked him how he knew that. "Santa is way too busy to be at the mall." Phew. That was close.

We went to the mall on Friday evening and came upon a very good "Natural" Santa who also happened to have a very short line. So, we asked Michael if he wanted to give it a go. In typical Michael fashion, he needed to sit down and think about it for five minutes. Then, he asked us detailed questions about what he would do once he was sitting on Santa's lap. We explained the process and he considered it a little more and finally he decided to give it a try.

He was positively glowing when he was done. He was so excited that he got to sit on Santa's lap and talk to him. Seeing how happy he was, I'm glad that I hadn't confirm his suspicion that it was just a man in a costume. For that moment, I think Michael really beleived in the magic. It was sweet, and innocent, and I think I even noticed a few sprinkles of fairy dust floating around him. I know it was fairy dust because, when I saw his smile, I felt a little of the magic as well.

As we walked off with a final wave to Santa, we asked Michael about how it went. Did he have fun? What did he tell Santa he wanted? Did Santa ask if he's been naughty or nice?

Michael informed us, "No, he didn't ask."

"Don't worry. He knows. He always knows."