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    Friday, March 27, 2009


    It’s fascinating to discover how your kids are like you, how they are like your husband, and how they are like the alien species populating your favorite sci-fi novels. That last category is useful to consider before screeching questions like, “On what planet would it be okay for you to PAINT your brother with peanut butter?”

    But unusual artistic endeavors aside, it really is fun watching physical characteristics, habits, and personality traits surface.

    My oldest, Monkey, has his dad’s math/science brain, adoration of logic, and musical talent. But he loves to hold his hand up to mine and say, “Look, Mom, we have the same fingers!”

    With his olive skin and dark hair, he looks much more like me than we expected he would when he arrived with vivid blue eyes. Those eyes have since turned an untraceable green. That’s probably the alien in him.

    Chunky, on the other hand, looks just like his daddy, but has a few more of my personality traits. Love of story pervades his little life, and it’s rare to pass five minutes without Chunky explaining that he is an astronaut cat on a dangerous mission, or his dinosaur must rescue a baby from a volcano, or the living room is a mess because it was hit by a meteor.

    He’s also inherited some of my domestic instincts, so I wasn’t surprised yesterday when he came to me and said, “Mommy, we need to bake cookies because it’s snowing outside.” I often feel the urge to bake when it snows, so I agreed.

    We had a gingerbread cookie mix, but we didn’t have any frosting. So I convinced him to make gingersnaps instead of gingerbread men. But rolling and flattening dough balls wasn’t creative enough for Chunky’s imaginative soul.

    And so, he made "gingersnakes." He happily rolled the dough into dumpy, worm-like shapes and plopped them onto the baking sheet. That’s when I started giggling. I called Kory into the kitchen because I couldn’t share the joke with my innocent (at least at this moment) four-year-old.

    Here is what had Kory and me in fits of laughter.

    If, like me, you’ve had more experience with diapers and potty training than any one person really needs, you’ll probably see the similarity my husband and I saw. Needless to say, we weren’t too keen on eating Chunky’s "gingersnakes." We cheerfully told him those were his, and he could eat them . . . all.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009


    You know that mythical parenting handbook everybody wishes came standard with a baby?

    Doctor: “Congratulations, Mrs. Denmark. It’s a boy. And here’s your handbook. I’m sorry, the one for boys is so much heavier than the one for girls.”

    Yeah, maybe it’s a good thing the handbooks don’t accompany the babies. But if they did, I’d be especially interested in the chapter on dealing with conflict. Ever notice how the old standbys only work in theory?

    Share. Take turns. Be nice. Don’t flush your brother’s Legos down the toilet. All these admonitions make sense, yet, for all intents and purposes, might as well be in Martian.

    If you’re a parent of multiple children, or of one child with grandiose ideas about the location of the center of the universe, you’re going to have to deal with conflict. It’s inescapable. No matter how strong your resemblance to an ostrich. Mine is striking, in case you’re wondering.

    God, with His infinite sense of humor, blessed me with Monkey the Immovable and Chunky the Irish-Tempered Bowling Ball. These two shake the earth when they get in a tizzy. I’ve learned that those old standbys must be modified if I’m going to have any hope of getting through to my boys.

    Share, or else. Take turns, or lose yours. Be nice, or so help me ... . Don’t flush your brother’s Legos down the toilet, or I’ll flush yours.

    It’s true I haven’t always been the best referee. That’s why I was surprised when I received an email from Monkey’s teacher saying he’d successfully mediated a girl fight on the playground. He negotiated apologies and arranged a play schedule both parties accepted.

    My husband and I were so pleased. We’ve long assumed that Monkey had a future as an interrogator because of his propensity to ask “Why” until the stars fade. We’ve joked that criminals will confess to things they didn’t do just to get him to stop. Now it seems we can add another career possibility. Ombudsman.

    We’re so proud.