Saturday, February 14, 2015

There's a first time for everything

Some people think that, since I'm a mom of four, I'm an old pro at this whole mothering thing. The truth is, you are always, always a first-time-mom. Whether it's my Kindergartener, who is constantly taking me to new levels in parenting. Or my baby, who, it would seem, is out to prove that she is nothing like any of her other three siblings. Or my middle kids, who develop new ways to vie for mommy's attention. And let's not forget the dog--completely new territory there! But yes, aside from the fact that I forget so much about each age that everything they do seems new, there are still many firsts for this old mama!

I think she's trying to tell me something.
For instance, last week I woke up to my 18 month old standing outside my door. Yes, apparently she can now scale her crib and work her way to my bedroom. I had hoped it was just a random occurrence but this week our new morning routine has been Jocelyn shouting from her bed at 5:55am, followed by her throwing everything out of her crib, followed by her throwing everything she can reach off her bedstand--the lamp, baby monitor, whatever princess paraphernalia her older sister has left behind ... followed by Joci herself climbing over the side. Nope, there is no more hope for this mama who's previous modus operandi was to let the baby cry until she fell back to sleep. Once the stuffed animals start to hit the floor, I know Joci is coming for me!

We've reached the princess stage!

My constant view--the two velcro beings.
Or let's talk about the first time I had to drive Jack to school, which also happened to be the first time Jack missed the bus and, while we're at it, the first time the dog ran away.

So it was Jon's first day back to work and my first day alone with four kids and a new dog--a new dog that we're all adjusting to and who is adjusting to us. Jäger is an interesting fella. We kinda get the feeling he didn't spend a lot of time outdoors in his new home. We have a corkscrew and tether set up in the backyard so he can get some outdoor time, but he doesn't like it one bit. If we're out there with him, he won't leave our side (shaking the whole time.) And if we leave him out there alone, he stands frozen to one spot, barking until we come rescue him.

Now, Jäger on a leash is a different story. He apparently draws an insane amount of confidence when he's "tethered" to a human. Sidenote: Jack had a two-hour delay the other day because, apparently, the roads were icy. I thought it was a bit extreme until I tried to take the dog out for a potty break. He darted out the door, and I slid across our frozen deck behind him. Joci, who cannot bear to be too long separated from her mama, tried to come out after us and promptly ended up flat on her back. After that experience, I totally stand by the school's choice to delay school!

Another first, trying to play soccer with Jäger.

Anyway, back to the dog and his leash. He's okay in the backyard. He has a few places that he immediately heads to, does his business, and then he's happy to come back inside. But a walk is a different story. Walks are actually Jon's territory right now. I tried to take 3 kids and the dog for a walk once and it was a complete disaster. As it turns out, Jäger is a car chaser. Since he can't chase cars while on a leash, he'll stand up on two legs, lunge at whatever is passing by, and bark his head off. Meanwhile, my kids are left on their own while I use my entire body to keep him from taking off. Needless to say, that was my first and last walk with the dog.

So we're not really sure what this canine would do if we let him loose in the yard. We know he loves us and prefers to static cling to our legs, but should he happen to notice a car driving by? Yikes. All that to say, we have yet to let him off a leash.

Well, intentionally, I should say. So it was the first day Jon was at work. I was giving myself a pat on the back for not only taking care of the dog and getting Jack all ready for school, but also for having the other kids all fed and dressed early too. (A sheer act of God's grace now that I can look back.) Jack's bus is scheduled to arrive at 8:47am. At 8:45am, Jack decided he wanted to take one of his toys outside to see if it would be frozen by the time he got home from school. You know, boy stuff. So he did what any kid would do. Opened the back door and headed to the back deck.

This winter has been scant on snow but there has been plenty of ice!
Except, any kid with experience with a dog just wouldn't do that. Because, as I'm sure you've all guessed by now, that animal was out the back door faster than Jack could blink. I admit, I lost my temper a bit. It really wasn't Jack's fault. We're still entirely new to this dog thing. But one look at me coming out the door and Jäger was off like a flash. First he darted across two neighbors yards and then, when I just about had him cornered, he dodged to my right and streaked along the fence line. I must confess, for a second I was happy for him. Poor thing hadn't had a chance to run free in who knows how long, and he looked so happy to be running at full speed.

But then fear set in as a realized I had no idea how long this chase would go on, or how I'd get him back ... and then I heard the bus round the corner.

Thankfully, Jäger didn't hear the bus and just kept going on his merry way with me hopping over branches and bushes behind him. And while we're on the subject of "firsts," this was the first time I had ever wandered this far into our neighbor's yard. Little did I know there was a break in the fence line that takes you right over to a different neighborhood. Quite a pretty little jaunt, under different circumstances. (And this new knowledge will prove very useful the next time those kids behind us throw yet another ball in our backyard.)

Anyway, no thrilling ending to this story. Apparently Jäger grew tired of his ramblings and just stopped and waited for me to reach him. I grabbed his collar and the two of us ambled home together-me hunched over with one hand on his neck and him dragging me through the woods. We reached the backyard just as the bus pulled away.

I was hoping Jack was on said bus, but alas, when I entered the house, he was standing by the door still waiting for it to show up. So we moved on to the third first of the morning, driving him to school. Jäger, who is still very new at this point, was feeling guilty and easily headed to his room for isolation (this is typically not the case anymore!) Now, as I said before, we were all fed and dressed and clearly ready for an early adventure that morning. Funny thing is, I had no idea how to take a kid to school. This probably says a lot about my personality, but thankfully, I was talking to another mom of a Kindergartener this week who feels the same way.

It would seem that our school doesn't cater too well to new parents. We get the vaguest notices about upcoming events or classroom activities. Meanwhile, I'm over here craving some DETAILS, please! What I'm trying to say is, no one ever explained to us how to drop a kid off at school. Nor was there any information on the school's website or handbooks. Trust me, I have looked. And so, without this extremely important knowledge, I did exactly what someone with my personality (apparently) would do--I made darn sure my kid never missed the bus. We've been close on one or two occasions, but rather than try and figure out something new with four kids, I pull all the stops to make sure Jack is good and ready on time (or earlier!) Clearly, I was due for a get-out-of-your-box-Janine moment.

And, as I'm sure anyone out there with a personality NOT like mine knows, dropping a kid off at school is super easy. Like, really easy. I mean, there's a line of cars for heaven's sake. Just follow the line and do whatever the person in front of you does. And while I'm trying to rack my brain to remember if there's any sort of penalty for missing the bus, I realize that Jack reached the doors of his school at the exact same time as his fellow bus mates that morning. All that to say, dropping him off was kinda fun. I think we'll do it again sometime. And also, I could use a few more kick-in-the-pants type moments in my life.

You can't see it in this picture, but he's especially proud of the guy "changing his pants" behind that window.
Let's see--a few more firsts. I got to read a story to Jack's class yesterday. Not only do I adore seeing my Kindergartener in his classroom but I think I earned him enough cool points to get through to first grade. I brought a Valentines book to share but, if there was enough time left over, I also brought along The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak (yes, "The Office" BJ Novak.) This was a Christmas gift from Uncle Micah and Miss Carrie and the kids love it. So much so, that we've had to stop reading it at bedtime because their excitement gets them a little too riled up. Jack's class enjoyed it as well. I heard from Jack later that several of them kept repeating their favorite line: Boo Boo Butt, all throughout the day. Yes, parents, you can thank me later. In the meantime, I think Jack is officially son-of-the-coolest-mom-ever.

I pulled this out recently for a refresher ... if only it had pictures for this girl!
Or perhaps another first--when a neighbor knocked on my door and asked if the child she had found wandering down the street, and was now holding, was mine. She was. Thank goodness for kind neighbors and angels that guard our toddlers when they sneak out doors that older siblings leave open!

On your mark, get set, go!

Sadly, the Hello Kitty convertible can't hold a candle to the four-wheeler.
And yes, thank goodness for humbling moments that remind me that I'm so not in control. And that, despite raising babies four times over, I'm still a new mom. There will be many new firsts in the coming years, and I hope I'm able to welcome them with arms open a bit more wider. And to remember that I'm not the only mom afraid of what will happen when my kids misses the bus, and that there is usually a line of mamas in front of me that I can follow when I'm feeling a little lost. First time (and fourth time) mamas, you're not alone!

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