Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book on the Roof

A couple of Sundays ago, Alex left for the Army JAG School in Charlotsville, Virginia.   We had been there together several years ago, when Jake was a baby and Alex had a military course.  It is a lovely area with great restaurants and beautiful scenery.   As the days got closer, I felt myself getting more stressed about holding down the fort on my own.  Knowing I wasn't going to have an easy week ahead, Alex gave up his usual Sunday morning to sleep in.  Those two days in a row of sleeping in, almost felt like a mini-spa vacation weekend, especially, since during the following week, I barely slept.   Still, I was anxious about the week that was coming right up, but more refreshed than usual, thanks to my thoughtful guy - a true mensch.

Max, remembering that his dad's last trip was to Alaska, would say throughout the week "Dad, I wanna go wiyou Awaska."  Alex would correct him and tell him that he's not leaving yet, and that he's going to Virginia this time.  "You go Ginia Dad?" Max would question.  "How about the next time Dad goes to Alaska, I take you with me?" to which I quickly added, "make sure you mention, not on business, because you could feasibly get sent there again."   So at some point down the road, Max will be looking forward to a trip to snowman's land, because a child mostly hears what he wants to hear, of course. 

Alex was gone by 9:45 AM that Sunday morning.  As the clouds came into alignment at high noon, little disasters start brewing and stewing, revving up their engines; contemplating what to throw my way, and in which order.  It was only a matter of time before I get hit with the first one.   Like clockwork, there are always potty accidents when dad goes out of town.   It didn't happen just yet, but I was anticipating it - trying to get into a defensive mode of play.   The Wonder Woman costume was proverbially coming out of the closet, and as an emblem, getting thrown on.  The invisible jet hovers over the house in preparation for the first indication of trouble.   Low and behold, it came from the least likely source, later that afternoon.

Mistake #1 - Why did I bother trying to get the twins down for a nap today?
I hand Jake his IPad after lunch and proceed to get the twins down for a nap.  Before I know it, I am in there for a whole hour.  This already leaves me slightly agitated so I decide to leave them in there, to see if they quiet down and go to sleep on their own.  I know that this was probably wishful thinking.  It has happened on occasion though, and I needed the break.  I then take Jake outside to play.

Mistake #2 - Why did I let Jake take his book outside?
Over the past couple of weeks, Jake has been trying to take his toys out into the yard.  Big hit items include books, stuffed animals, and anything else that he can get his hands on; throwing it up in the air to see what happens.  That sounds like a good enough plan.  From past experience, I've learned to block him from taking his stuffed animals outside, as they often end up getting thrown into the neighbor's yard.  I can fully appreciate the thrill factor for him.  The book, well, he mostly wants to hold it while he's on the swing or the slide.  So what's the worse that could happen, right? 

Wrong!  At that point I remember that I ought to go in to check on the twins, as they are not yet quieting down.  I open the door and witness the twins in the process of busily moving Miriam's bed across the room; Max simultaneously informs me that he needs to go potty.  We take care of this matter, and I order the troops to get back to bed, as I shift gears into my tough authoritative tone; letting them know that I'm not playing around this time.  Out I go into the back yard, and see that Jake clearly appears to be very irritated.  "Book, book, I want book."  I realize that his book is missing.  I start looking all over the yard for it, asking him what he did with his book, and why did he take his book out there?  I then turn around to face the house, giving into the notion of a possible ridiculous scenario.  I slowly lift my head to look up.  The book is on the roof! Oy!  Threatening to take the book away if he does this again, I resort to that (mostly) authoritative tone; realizing that yes, I shouldn't have let him take the book out there in the first place.

The book on the roof

Now what? My kid is upset, and his book is on the roof!  It's not the kind of thing that you'd expect to see at someone's house on any given day, but there we were.  If there were only a fiddler up there to ask for help (I chuckle on the inside).  In past scenarios, I've gotten Puppy (his favorite stuffed animal) off the roof when it was close to the edge, but I wasn't sure that I could reach the book.   Thinking on my feet, I go to the laundry room to get the step ladder and kitchen broom.  I march back outside, feeling less then thrilled, proceeding to climb up the ladder with my fuzzy slippers and polka-dotted bathrobe.  Moments later, I triumphantly rescue the book off the roof.  Returning it to Jake, I remind him that throwing the book on the roof again, will result in its confiscation.   I then should have had Jake go back inside.  The day was still young however, and I didn't want him to be inside for too long, fearing he would get restless.   That is our most encountered issue during the weekends.  Before I am able to make the right call, I get distracted with noise coming from the twins' room.  I go back inside to have the cute sleepy-eyed energizer bunnies come out and play in the family room. 

Mistake #3 - Why did I leave the twins to "nap" in their room after I checked in on them for the second time?  The third time I return to their room, I see that their room has been basically flipped upside down - the stuffed animals are all over Max's bed, and books are scattered all over the floor.  I hurriedly start cleaning up, fearing that I am probably nearing the next strike of disaster, and remember that I ought to check up on Jake.  I go outside.  It's like Groundhog Day: "Book, book, I want book,"  my son exclaims.  This time, Book is farther up the roof.  I shout "Jake, I told you not to throw the book up there again!"  Followed by "This time Mommy can't get it down!"  I figure that the book would probably just get blown off at the next wind storm, or eventually disintegrate in the rain.  In any case, it was a job that was not going to get completed on this day, by this one mom.  We came back into the house and I return to my unfinished cleaning project.

As I putt items away in the twin's room, I notice that Max's bed is covered in gold glitter.  I couldn't figure out how the glitter got there, but now there was the additional task of shaking out the sheet and remaking the bed.  One task leads to another, and another task, followed by yet another, in a string of miscellaneous tasks; a glorious taskophony!  When was it going to end?!  Max's voice interrupts my cluttered thoughts with "Miriam peed!" Okay, I thought, I will take care of it when I'm done cleaning up (reassured that she's in a pull-up).  A minute later, I hear him say the same thing, and then Miriam comes to inform me of the unpleasant news, in an unhappy tone.  I go to check, and think oh, no big deal, as I see the pull-up.  Two seconds later, I quickly do a double take.  I realize that it's not a pull-up; she had put herself into underwear all by herself, for the first time!  It had to be on the weekend I was on my own, of course.  As I go to change her, she starts to lose her balance, hits my face with such a force that you wouldn't expect to come from the hand of a three year old, right onto my glasses.  "Ouch!" I respond loudly.  This causes her to cry, adding to the unfortunate stringed series of ridiculous events.  I have to stop everything to take the necessary time out to comfort her, before anything else.  To make a long story short, we got through it.  Everything and everyone (eventually) got cleaned up.

It was just about time again for the brewing of the next disaster.

I take the kids to play in the back yard and within a couple of minutes, I notice that Jake is holding Book again.  But how??  I slowly look up at the roof, and there is no book up there.  How did this happen? It wasn't windy outside for the book to blow off the roof.  It wasn't even breezy, for that matter.   Maybe it was the invisible jet, or perhaps it was the fiddler on the roof?  Why not?  I came up with all sorts of ideas just to lighten up my deteriorated mood.  I needed a good laugh, but I had absolutely no practical answer to this dilemma.

My little Fiddler lost his violin bow in San Antonio

The following day I was playing with Jake outside, and he said "book!" again.   He got up on one of the lawn chairs and motioned up to the roof.  Much to my dismay, there it was - after all the trouble yesterday.  That little book was up there on the roof, again.  It wasn't however situated at the same spot from yesterday, but several feet away at the crease of the roof, and several feet higher.  I chalked it up to not having seeing it there yesterday, possibly due to the way the light hit the roof.  I still couldn't figure out however, how the book had moved several feet over from it's original location.  Even so, my child wanted his book, and I had no idea how to get it.

After I returned home from picking up the twins, later that evening, Jake's ABA tutor told me that Jake did something very clever.  When they were playing/working outside he said "book" to her and climbed on the lawn chair to motion for it, as he had done so with me.  She looked up, saw the book, and most assuredly said to herself, holy cow, there's a book on the roof! - "how do we get it down?" she asked Jake (not anticipating a response, but just talking out loud), to which he actually answered with an unprompted reply, "throw the ball!"  Thrilled to have him verbalize this, she texted me as I was driving, disclosing that something exciting had happened back home, but didn't give away the surprise.  She did as Jake suggested.  She threw the ball up at the roof several times, finally hitting the book.  Sure enough, down came Book.  

#1 smart thing that I did all day?
I hired a babysitter from 4-8PM and went to see a movie and have dinner with a friend.  Ironically, the movie was Silver Lining.  By the time that 4PM rolled around, I needed the break from all the mishigas (chaos, in Yiddish).  This felt like I was intelligently able to plan ahead for some down time, and I was pretty pleased with myself for concocting up this wicked little plan.   Later that evening, it initially took me half an hour to get Jake to sleep.  After talking with Alex that night on the phone, I heard noise coming from Jake's room and saw that his light was on.  I realized that this wasn't going to be a quick fix, as nothing was that day.  It took me an additional hour to get him back to sleep.  This was day #1 of Alex's week away.  I felt reassured that it would be the most eventful one here.  The rest should be easier coasting.  As the school week begins, I would have some time during the day to pace and recharge myself for the kids.  

After Alex returned home from his trip and previewed this current post, he said "so that's how the book got off the roof  - Jake had thrown the ball up there all by himself and knocked the book down that way."  Now, why didn't I think of that? Apparently, I did not give my son enough credit for his clever problem solving skills, although, I had always said that he was a good problem solver, hum!

So what do I take away from this experience?  How do I try to be more prepared for the next time that Alex goes out of town? What is the moral of this story anyway?  I came up with the following:

Trying to have a "normal" day when your co-captain-teammate is out of town, 
is like thinking that you can escape to the roof to read a book;
It doesn't happen very often.  
So get through it as best as you can.
Don't worry about being graceful or being judged,
and laugh about it later over a glass of wine.

We are a team, Alex and I.  We do the best that we can.  We both make a big effort on our individual side.  I do more with the kids when he's gone, and he has to endure being away from the family and the comforts of home.  We make mistakes.  We try to learn something from them.  We move on to the next thing.

To other military moms out there, who endure similar scenarios when a spouse is away;  I salute all that you do.  Be brave holding down the fort, and may the power be with you!

What are some of your tips for making this kind of scenario work in your home?  Do special needs or other a-typical aspects play into your family equation?  I'd love to know if you have any suggestions or funny bits to share.  Feel free to post your ideas in my comment section bellow.

Lily and the Roses


  1. Silver linings indeed! Love the "moral."

    1. Thanks Catherine - glad you enjoyed it, and thank you for sharing as well. Happy Valentine's Day. xx

  2. Wonderful post honey, I'm sorry I couldn't have been in two places at once to help you out more.

  3. Wow! WHAT A DAY!!!!'re not allowed to leave town anymore!

  4. This is hilarious!!! I sooooooo can see my Jake-y doing this and the smile he gets when he thinks he just did something magnificient!!! Unfortunately, the tossing of items is a generalized skill, the "yellow tickles" (feather duster) hung from the ceiling in our room for a few days! Jake somehow managed to toss it up just hard enough to where a few strands of it caught between the ceiling tiles!! I absolutely love him and my job!!

  5. Elisabeth - That comes as no surprise. In my Road Trip Lessons Learned post, there was a picture of his puppy stuck on a sprinkler head in the hotel room. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  6. Elizabeth,
    I concur with your sentiments about Alex leaving town ;)

  7. Elisabeth,
    Jake is lucky to have a teacher like you - we are very fortunate and blessed to have a teacher as yourself work in such a devoted way with him. I'm glad that you are able to laugh at those kind of incidents too.

  8. Awww, thanks!! He is a sweet little boy for sure and he is very determined as well. He knows I love him and I only want him to be the best that he can possibly be. He is doing well, and thank you for being devoted parents and accepting the strategies I use with him!