Alex has "discovered" cartoons. The old ones. The real ones. His favorites? Hands down, it’s Tom and Jerry, and the Pink Panther.
I swear to you I have never heard him laugh SO HARD in his entire five and a half years as he does when Jerry gets the best of Tom in some evil, painful way…or when something blows up and that little large-nosed man who gets annoyed by the Panther is turned briefly to soot.
Today it’s Christmas all over for Alex – there’s a Tom & Jerry MARATHON on TV, and he is soaking in as much as he can. Every so often I hear this burst of helpless, happily horrified, chortling laughter burst out from the basement. Sometimes he’ll see the gag coming and let out a little "oooOOOHHHHHH!" before the guffaws take over.
And watching him – he can’t sit still. The mirth flows through his blood and makes his legs dance and his arms flail about in blissful delirium. If he’s on the floor, he’s jumping up and down. If he’s on the furniture, he’s either wiggling unstoppably or jumping up and down (until I catch him and tell him to cut it out).
This is enormously fun to watch. Alex, I mean. His blossoming appreciation for physical humor and cartoon violence….it’s a coming-of-age thing, kind of. And it’s priceless. That sound, his laughter. There is nothing better.
Julia watches too, and she laughs sometimes, but she’s not as enthralled as her brother.
The kids have been playing against Bill at some little memory card games – the kind where all the cards are face down, and you have to turn two over and if they match, you keep them, and if not, you turn them back over.
Bill has lost most, if not all, of the games they have played. And he’s not LETTING them win, either. Oh no. He’s not that kind of person AT ALL. So it’s particularly amusing when a five year old and a three year old beat him repeatedly. Alex tried to console him one day by offering to help him do better next time. "How bad is that when a five year old practically offers to let you win???" He was visibly upset. hahahahaha.
Last night they were playing and I was folding laundry – I was sort of around the corner in the basement and couldn’t see them, but I could hear. Julia had just won the most recent game. Alex had won the game before. And Bill had come in third both times. Alex helpfully pointed out what the problems might be. "Daddy probably doesn’t win because he’s not in school any more. Maybe they didn’t HAVE memory games when Daddy wasn’t in school!" on and on like that, until Bill actually cried out, anguished, "Alex, shut up!"
They play Go Fish also. I watched the end of a game when I was done with the folding. It’s pretty funny. The kids are finally learning to hold their cards up so the other players can’t see what they’ve got. But still, there are tactics they haven’t quite mastered. For example:
Julia: "Does anybody have any flowers?"
Bill: "Go fish!"
Julia: (as she leans over and everyone can see the cards in her hand. She picks up a card from the pile) "I have a turtle!"
Alex: (who has a turtle in his hand) "Does anybody have a turtle?"
Julia: "I do!" (she hands it over happily and says, laughing at the coincidence) "Alex wanted a turtle and I HAD a turtle! Wasn’t that funny!?" (and she does a Homer Simpson-like "doh!" kind of thing).
Bill: (says nothing. Just opens and closes his mouth a couple times and shakes his head.)
Alex, no surprise, won the game.
Julia had asked Santa for a baby doll for Christmas. She got four. One from each of Bill’s brothers, and two from Santa himself.
One is a "Baby Alive" that drinks and wets and came with only three spare diapers. The manufacturer apparently has never had a newborn for longer than an hour and does not realize that three diapers is not gonna cut it for long. That baby also makes sad noises when she’s hungry, happy noises when she is content (i.e. drinking her water) and then restless and fidgety when she’s wet. .
Baby number two is, I believe, the biggest baby of the crew, and she sounds frighteningly real. So much so that if she’s crying in another room, I have thought that it was Julia crying. The baby says "Ma-Ma, Ma-Ma" when you squeeze her cheeks, and I think she laughs when you tickle her feet. Interesingly enough, Bill dropped her on her head one day and she didn’t cry at all. After Julia had opened this one, she carried it around just like a real mommy would carry her real baby, offering the baby her bottle when she cried, and ferociously telling Bill to "Go Away!" when he came anywhere near the baby. She is already quite the mother tiger.
Baby number three is a Cabbage Patch newborn – her second, and a boy, and black. He’s very cute. The lone blue-clad baby in a sea of pinks. He gets along nicely with her other Cabbage Patch newborn. I don’t actually know what color her clothes are – they’re most likely pink or purple, but Julia strips her children naked early on and those clothes have long since disappeared. Baby Boy, so far, has not suffered this treatment. But he will. She just hasn’t gotten around to it yet.
Baby number four is all cloth and came with a little sling kind of thing to sleep in and a backpack so Julia can tote her around. She arrived with pink clothes, but she’s down to her skivvies (sewn on) now.
Julia also got a set of Princess baby accessories – a high chair, a stroller, and a playpen. The playpen can be disassembled and stored in a cylindrical fabric case that zips closed and has a fabric handle. A day or two after Christmas I saw Julia load one of the babies into that cylindrical case, zip it closed, and lug the child around like that for a while.
These four bring her baby total up to ten. I thought it was eleven, but apparently Dressy Bessy isn’t a baby, so she doesn’t qualify for inclusion.
One afternoon in order to break up a squabble in the making, I did my idiot-mother thing of gasping in surprise and delight, widening my eyes and announcing "I’ve got an idea!" They stare at me and forget about wanting to hit each other, and I will say something like "First, you guys have to get ALL the BABIES and bring them UPSTAIRS!" So they dash off on their scavenger hunt and this keeps them busy for a bit. Alex is still happy to play with the baby dolls sometimes, which is nice for Julia, until he gets tired of it and she gets mad at him. Kind of like practice for when they’re married to other people and have kids of their own….
Anyway, all the babies were rounded up and brought up to the bedroom. I’d been using the old changing table as a storage area for stuffed animals, but I cleared them off of the top two shelves and grabbed some baby blankets and made up two long beds. I called for the babies, and arranged them in two rows of five on their new bunk beds, then covered them with a couple more baby blankets. Ta-da! Mommy’s so clever.
Yesterday the kids were playing in the room and all the babies were lying on their bunkbeds but with no blankets covering them.
"That’s okay, Mommy," Alex told me, before I had even said a thing. "We put baby spray on them and that keeps them warm. They don’t need blankets."
Baby spray. hahahahahaha.
Don’t know if you remember, but several posts ago I mentioned that Julia is now being treated for Lyme disease. I mentioned the red splotchiness on the side of her face, between her red left ear and her left eye. That’s subsided, but last night a new symptom appeared. I was taking a bubble bath and Bill was bringing the kids to bed. Julia banged on the bathroom door "I wanna give you a KISS!" she hollered at me, so I wrapped up in a towel and opened the door. She stood there in her pink snowflake jammies looking coy, just half a grin on her smug little face. Or so I thought. Turns out she’s got a partial paralysis of her left cheek going on.
At first I thought maybe she had a canker sore and it hurt to move that side of her face, but no. I had her close her eyes, and sure enough, her right eye closed fine, but the left eye – well, the lower lid wouldn’t rise up to meet the upper lid, so I got the creepy experience of seeing the left eye roll up, leaving a bit of the white exposed. When she’s asleep, the eye closes completely and she looks fine. But if you just ask her to shut her eyes, you get that partially opened thing happening.
I looked it up and that’s actually one of the symptoms of Lyme disease in toddlers. It goes away, but at the moment, it’s a little disconcerting. I want her to have her whole smile back.
Sure, it’s a cute half-grin…
…but it’s not quite the same.