Life returned to normal this week. At least our kind of normal. It's been about a week since Katie and I shook the effects of the stomach bug that bit us. Before Elliott came into our lives, I went almost 20 years without a stomach flu, the kind where the digestive system takes it upon itself to cleanse you of every morsel of food you've eaten the week prior to the illness and quite possibly remnants of meals that date back years. Post Elliott's arrival, we're good for one such attack a year. Wouldn't trade him for anything, but kids do come with challenges.
Grandma and grandpa battled the same flu or strain of whatever it was. But we were fortunate, they put up a brave front and kept Ian while we recovered. He requires the most attention and in turn would be subjected to the most neglect while we set up camp in the bathroom.
Elliott, well he simply took over the house. He was King for a night; the sofa his throne. I think he caught on when he asked if he could have juice and I filled up the biggest cup I could find clear to the top. It begged for an "accident" on the spot. And when he finished with that I offered him Gatorade. Then M&Ms. A bag of them. One of those big bags you use to hand out candy at Halloween - to the entire neighborhood. We try to limit his television, but this night he was parked in front of that thing from the time he came home from school until the time he went to bed. And I'm not sure what time he decided to actually go to bed, my guess is shortly after watching The Terminator or Pulp Fiction. All the while, he wore this look that wondered where his parents went and begged them to stay there all at once.
You see, the more content Elliott was on that couch, the more content I was laying on my bed. Probably not a parenting display that will win me any awards, but this night was about survival, not trophies.
Elliott doesn't need many of these tidbits of good fortune handed to him; he gets better every day at creating his own. Before I explain, I need to give you some background information. Lately, when I want to involve Elliott in things I'm doing, or more, things I need him to do, like cleaning up his toys for example, I sell him on the idea of us doing it as "partners." Working together. Teamwork. Then, I sit back and tip my hat to my brilliance as he joyfully completes the chore.
Well the other morning I was drinking a glass of orange juice. Elliott looks at the glass and asks "what's in your glass daddy?"
It is never a good sign when someone asks you a question you are absolutely certain they know the answer to. I hesitated, but played the game. He's only three. What could he possibly be up to.
"It's orange juice," I told him.
"Is it good?"
That's when I knew it. I was in the middle of a con, and there was probably no escape. Elliott loves all things juice. If it ends in juice, he can't wait to drink it. In fact, he spruces up some things he's not as fond of drinking by simply applying the word ending juice. It's not uncommon for him to ask for milk juice.
"Yes, Elliott, it's very good." I told him, making no effort to hide my suspicions.
"Hey," he says, determined to see his plot through to the end, "maybe I could have some in a glass and we could drink orange juice like partners."
Reminder to self: They are watching. They are learning. Everything you say and do will eventually be used against you.
I have also noticed the older they get the more they focus on our actions that are less noble, like manipulating the use of "partnership." Baby Ian, on the other hand, who is fully engaged in the mocking phase, tends to copy our more glorious moments, comparatively speaking.
For instance, when we say our blessing at dinner, Ian proudly folds his hands together. Smiling, keeping his little fingers locked together until everyone at the table has taken note of his spiritual side.
When you hand Ian anything, he blurts out two syllables of babble that sound just like "thank you". It's sounds just like our enthusiastic praise for him whenever he brings us anything.
When I kiss everyone good-bye in the morning before heading to work, you'll often hear Ian's tiny lips smacking in the background. When you look at him, he's puckered up so hard his cheeks are nearly sucked inside out.
All in all, Ian seems more delighted in copying our more redeeming qualities. There are exceptions. Like the video below where Ian is attempting to ride a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese. That trick, I assure you, he did not learn from me or anyone else in our house. Although in truth, I'm not sure what mama is doing with the boys when I'm not around. Makes me wonder.