My first born. The one who made me a mom. Who teaches me how to parent on a daily basis. The one who took my heart and put it outside my body. The one who made me feel things I didn’t know I could feel. The one that began it all.
Nick is 8-1/2 now, and I’ve got to say, the 8th year has been an interesting one. In the past two years, we’ve moved, split up our family and Nick has changed schools. He has had a lot to get through. Some things that we really still deal with regularly. Things that we will always deal with, no matter how much time has passed. When we are facing off, mixing like a pool of oil and water, I try and stop and remind myself that he’s had a lot thrown at him. And that he’s still a kid. Some days, it’s easier than others.
He loves his sister with an amazing capacity. They regularly resort to calling each other names and fussing and fighting, but beyond that, at the core, is a huge amount of love and compassion.
Yesterday, Nick gave me his “wish list” for books available for purchase at his school’s book fair this week. I have always had a soft spot for Scholastic Book Fairs. I will buy him any books he wants, without question. He had a list of 7 titles that he wanted. He doesn’t know it, but I always buy them all. When I come home, I give him one or two, and hide the rest. He complains bitterly, but then he starts to see the rest of them. After an exceptionally good report card or presentation. After a moment of love or compassion. Or just because.
When I looked over his book list last night, I noticed the second book on his list.
For his sister.
My heart immediately swelled. For all those moments when he challenges me on a daily basis, I know I’m doing right. I know I’m getting through. He thought of her, in a purely unselfish moment, and made sure she was included. On his own.
As she does for him. Yesterday, as we were in the drive-thru lane of the bank, she asked me to get her a lollipop. I did. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, I heard her yell from the back seat.
“Mom, we have to go back. Now.”
“Because we didn’t get Nick a lollipop too. He’ll be home soon. He needs one.”
Another heart swelling moment.
I didn’t go back, but we were going to the grocery store next, so I let her pick something out for him there instead.
Nick goes a mile a minute on most days. Jumping from one thing to the other. Both literally and figuratively. The trail of mess he leaves behind drives me crazy six ways to Sunday. I’m hoping to break him of that habit before he leaves me, so his future wife won’t have to deal with it down the line. Whether or not I can make it happen remains to be seen.
He is a whiz with technology. To the point of embarrassing me on more than one occasion, because I am many things, but a whiz with technology is not one of them. He hooked up the Wii, from the box, without reading the instructions, completely on his own. I have, ahem, friends who had to call in reinforcements to get theirs hooked up.
My car stopped reading the outside temperature sometime last year. I loved that little perk and missed it sorely. When it was with the mechanic for an oil change, I mentioned it to him. The mechanic couldn’t figure it out. Nick did. It took him all of thirteen seconds. I’m thinking of hiring him out to the mechanic.
I call him my mad scientist. Basic concepts elude him entirely, but complicated things? He has down pat.
When he comes home from school, I can follow the trail from the front door to the kitchen, as his skateboard sneakers come off, the hoodie next and then the backpack and water bottle. I’m in the middle of reading a book about parenting, and in the first chapter, it described this exact sequence. Nick to a t. Glad to hear that it’s normal. Now to correct it.
His room is a disaster. Always is unless I force the issue. Some days, I just close the door and don’t look, going with the “it’s his room, he can keep it the way he wants.” And I also know my mom will be the first to point out that my room when I was growing up always had a big black garbage bag in it, because I was always cleaning it up. Apparently, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
He loves our big, silly dog and desperately wants a second one. To the point where he made a sign, taped it onto a rake and wanted to go collect money from the neighborhood to buy a dog. His plan was to collect enough money to buy a dog, and then he was going to donate the extra money to an animal shelter. Another heart swelling moment. I have explained that it doesn’t matter if the dog is free, because I currently have my hands very full. A point that fell on deaf ears. I said when Eli is no longer with us, we will get another dog. Until then, I’m good. Nick, not so much. Apparently he and Maddie lie awake at night and talk about what kind of dog they’ll get, what they’ll name him and who will take care of him. Wonderful. Two against one.
He challenges me and pushes back on a regular basis, but at the very heart of this boy is someone who loves to love and be loved, and I couldn’t ask for a better kid to have by my side.
March 15, 2011, Photo #72
Yesterday was a sad day indeed. For as long as I can remember, I’ve looked forward to jelly bean season. Brach’s jelly beans are one of the few sweets I eat, and given my clean eating lifestyle, it’s a good thing they’re not available year ’round. I buy the bags and eat the pink, purple, white and red, and then pass them onto my Mom, who eats her favorite colors, and then my Dad gets them last. It works out perfectly. This year, the jelly beans are late, and I have, up until two days ago, only been able to find the mini size. They were doing quite nicely. Then earlier this week, Target finally stocked the regular size jelly beans, and I bought a few bags. Believe it or not, they are too sweet for me. Too much of a good thing. It’s something I’ve discovered over the past year or so. My palate and taste buds have completely reinvented themselves. Things that I thought tasted good before, don’t. And vice versa. In a roundabout way, this is, of course, excellent news. But in the meantime, a sobering development on the state of affairs in the O’Malley household.
March 16, 2011, Photo #73
Breakfast this morning. So good. Whole wheat breakfast burrito with egg whites, spinach, salsa and a few potato pieces. I heard that people who start their day with protein lost 50% more weight than people who didn’t. Got it covered.
Bonus shot for the night. I made a batch of double rainbow cupcakes for Madeline to take into school tomorrow. Nick helped me, which is the reason why my left both hands rival those of a Smurfette. The things we do for our kids.
Last, but not least, I wouldn’t be a good Irish woman if I didn’t leave you with a few solid recipes to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with tomorrow. We had our “main meal” celebration on Sunday already, but you still have time! You can’t go wrong with a good Colcannon … melted butter, sauteed cabbage, bacon and mashed potatoes? This brown bread recipe is crazy simple to make and the kids inhale it. And lastly, this is a good, basic recipe for Corned Beef, Cabbage and Vegetables. May the luck of the Irish be with you tomorrow and every day after!