3 Dec 2007

Where Did These Boys Come From?

This morning was a little stressful. Mike flew back to Canada for a couple of weeks, and thus woke the boys up slightly earlier than usual to say goodbye. True to form, B boy hardly budged from his curled up position, hidden from view by a massive blanket.

Christopher cried.

Christopher has a very difficult time saying goodbye. He will agonize over an upcoming farewell for weeks (which is why we rarely tell him in advance), and he'll fall apart as the moment finally arrives. There'll be tears and long hugs. It's hard and I know Mike hates saying goodbye to him. Benjamin, meanwhile, takes everything in stride. He'll give you a hug, and then he's off playing. Seemingly without a care in the world.

But the funny thing is -- once you're gone, Christopher is fine. Almost immediately, he's back to chattering about this and that, totally focused on everything around him, apparently oblivious to the fact that anyone's missing. He may mention it at bedtime, but only occasionally. And when you're back, while he's happy to see you, there's no big reunion hugs of affection. It's almost like you never left.

Benjamin, meanwhile, suffers pangs of loneliness if someone's missing from his little world. He'll recreate the moment of farewell - the one you thought he wasn't paying any attention to - and he'll agonize over the fact that he didn't tell you he loves you, or that he didn't hug or kiss you. He'll count the days until your return, the hours, and even the minutes. And once back, he's on you like a moth to a flame. Making up for all those hugs and kisses.

It amazes me that my two boys came from the same gene pool, the same womb. They barely have anything in common. Except for their incessant chattiness, I can only think of one trait they share:

A total lack of organizational skills.

I couldn't tell you how many mitts or hats B boy has lost over the years. Certainly enough to clothe of all Luxembourg's preschoolers. And maybe Iceland's too. Last year, he lost two pairs of snow pants within the first winter week, and by the end of the season, that number was in the double digits. I was just amazed that he managed to keep his jacket all season long.

Christopher isn't too bad when it comes to outerwear, but he's a mess with respect to his school books. To illustrate, allow me to recount our adventures just today...

This morning, while I was attaching his lunch bag to his bag, I noticed a piece of paper sticking out of the school bag's side pocket:

Me: Christopher, is this something you need?
C (taking the paper): Oh no, this is a song I need to memorize for Santa Lucia. We're doing the rehearsals today.
Me: When did you get this?
C: Last Wednesday.
Me (deep breaths - remember, child just said goodbye to father): Christopher, do you need to know this for today, or can it wait until the 13th?
C: The rehearsals are today, and we have to know it by today.
Me: Well, practice now then. Practice, practice, practice. That's all you can do. You have 30 minutes.

After school, Christopher always calls on his fancy-smancy cell phone on his loooong (4 minute) walk home:
C: Hi Mamma!
Me: Hi 'Stopher! Did you have a good day?
C: Yep.
Me: Do you have everything you need to do your homework?
C: Yes, I brought Norwegian and English today.
Me: Okay good, I'll see you soon then.

2 minutes later:

C (opening the door): Hi Mamma!
Me: Hi sweetie - how did it go with the rehearsals?
C: Fine, she just said I have to know the song by tomorrow. I didn't lose my part.
Me: That's great. Did you bring the sheet home to practice?
C (getting his books and his lunch out of his bag): Yes. But I didn't have time to eat my lunch today, so I'm going to eat it now.
Me (looking through his books):...mmm...okay. Where's your weekly homework plan?
C: I put it in my bag - it's the folded sheet.
Me (taking a deep breath, sensing what's coming next): The folded sheet is the song you need to practice. I can't see the homework plan.
C (now looking frantically in his bag): Oh...no...I thought it was the folded sheet.
Me (calm, lecturing voice): Next time maybe you could *look* at the sheet before you leave?
C (getting his jacket and toque on to go back to school, while being a bit emotional): I always have to go back to school!
Me: Christopher, you really have to learn to take responsibility for your things. It's like forgetting to practice that song this morning -- only you know what you need to do, so you have to organize and plan for it.
C (in a huff, not feeling like a lecture): OKAY. 'bye.

10 minutes later:

C (opening the door): Here's the sheet.
Me: Excellent! But...where's your toque?
C: I wasn't wearing a toque, was I?
Me (breathing deeply...again): Yes, you were, Christopher. Did you leave it at school?
C (getting emotional...again): Oh no...!
Muffled sound as he slams the door. I watch him walking dejectedly back up the road.

4 minutes later, phone rings:

C (happy now): It was in my pocket! I got to the classroom, and I realized that I'd taken off my toque because I was hot and I put it in my jacket pocket.
Me: All righty, then. I'll see you at home.

A short while later, at the house:

C (opening the front door again): OK, I have everything now, right?
Me (coming to the hall from the kitchen): I don't know, I assume you have all your books?
C: Yes, I do.
Me (waving the supposed homework plan he walked back to pick up from school): So this is the new format for the homework plan?
C (looking at the paper, groans): Oh no! I took the wrong sheet. This is the work plan for what I'm supposed to do at school. Not the homework plan.
Me: Bye, bye...

And as I watch him walk back to school for the third time that afternoon, I realize it is going to be a very long two weeks of solo parenting.

Bloggy friends -- make me feel better by telling me I'm not the only parent with this problem?


Beck said...

Oh, you're not alone. WE went to an open house recently at the kids' school and they had a table set up of all of the lost-and-found clothing from around the school. And half - NO WORD OF A LIE - HALF of this massive pile of clothing belonged to my kids. Der!

hokgardner said...

You are not the only one. I put my daughter's library book in her backpack and checked it twice before she left on Friday. She lost it somewhere between the house and school - a car ride of exactly 2 minutes. Our neighbor, who drove carpool that day, has checked the car for it but didn't find the book. All I can think is that the book fell out as she was unloading her backpack.

another good thing said...

You're lucky you live close. By the time my kids get off the bus, wander home, then realize they left something important at school- we'll drive back and be locked out- I had to bribe a janitor once, and lie to a teacher's assistant. Then I stopped helping them fix things- which is hard to step back from. I learned to say - Oh well, you should have been more careful. ( easier to do with the girl who takes it al in stride, hardeer with the boy who breaks down in tears and beats himself up mentally)

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

That sounds like our house too. Only, I'm so mean that I won't take my girls back to school to get forgotten stuff. If they forget their homework, they have to work it out with the teacher the next day.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Ha ha ha, I have to laugh because it sounds so similar to the talk I was having with my daughter this morning. She has a field trip today and I handed her the permission slip this morning. As we pull out of the driveway she panics because she can't find it. I ask, "is it in your special folder that we gave you just for these things???" Of course not, why would she use something that I suggested would make her life easier? We spent 10 minutes looking for it only to find it all folded up in a small zipper pocket of her book bag.

I love the differences you mention in your boys. I have often thought about the differences that show up in each child. I am one of 7 children and we are all so very different it is spooky.

Suzanne said...

Oh, my. I think my son will be like this when he gets beyond kindergarten.

Of course, sometimes I think I am also like this.

kim-d said...

Okay, Heidi, I'm gonna go ya one better and tell you that your poor kid sounds like me! Except I wander from room-to-room in my house trying to remember why I went there :)! It has always been said that as people age they can get more child-like--but I'm not THAT darn old!!! HAHAHA! Seriously, I think that kids these days have so, so much more to keep track of! When I was that age, in elementary school, we did not need backpacks. We didn't even need a school bag. And all of our work was done in school until about 5th grade. Now they have homework in kindergarten! I'm just sayin'...no wonder they can't keep up with it all! I think both sound like wonderful little boys!

kim-d said...

I AM HONORED TO BE ON YOUR BLOGROLL! AND IF I EVER GET ONE, YOU WILL SURELY BE ON IT! Hehehe. Considering how long it took me to figure out pictures...BUT, I have been thinking about blogrolls a lot lately, so that's a step in the right direction! I just think it is so cool that you're in Norway, and I am going back to the beginning of your blog to read the whole thing. I love everything about your blog!

Who She She said...

You are most definitely not the only parent with this problem. I'm impressed by your calm. By trip # 2, I think I'd be losing it.

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Thanks for wandering over to my blog and thanks for the comment on my boys!! I happen to think they are quie handsome! I really miss my 18 year old who is proudly serving in the Air Force - he has been gon3 for almost 4 months and I'm am VERY SLOWLY adjusting. He was my organized child.

Connor, on the other hand, my 14 year old, has been disorganized since he was born. Still is and he is now in High School. He is CONSTANTLY returnging to school to get something - heck, he is constantly retunring to the room he just walked out of to pick up something he forgot.

I think we just have to embrace them and love them for their quirkiness. I don't think they will change!!!

Steph said...

My kids aren't quite at this stage yet, but I could definitely see this happening with my younger daughter. (The older one is my organizer!)

At least he can walk back and forth and you don't have to drive him (or walk with him) that many times!!

painted maypole said...

at least he can walk back to school -it's a 20minute drive for us.

MQ collects jackets at school - it's always warmer whenshe leaves, and so she forgets them there.

Kathryn said...

Oh no!!! That poor kid. And poor you! He is a pretty good sport to keep walking back to school. What choice does he have, right? Oh man. I bet that is what I have to look forward to.

the dragonfly said...

Aww, saying goodbye is so hard! It doesn't affect the Little Mister yet, but I suspect that day isn't *too* far off.

Poor forgetful boy. You know, I was a bit like that when I was a kid. And, while I'm not Martha Stewart organized, I don't live in chaos. So...there is hope. :)

Jen M. said...

You've touched on something that I think about a lot - how our children are from the same physical environment and yet can be so very different...it's amazing.

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

Hee hee, not to laugh. My kids are JUST like that. And the differences? Night and day. If they didn't resemble either my husband or myself in some way, I'd wonder whose babies these were. So funny.

Barb said...

You are not alone. I have one who can't do transitions and never comes home with everything she needs to do her homework and one who loses everything every single day. We're moving to a climate where the kids will have to wear gloves and hats and mittens. I just hope I can find their coats before they lose those other things...

Julie Pippert said...

I'm sure you aren't the only one.

You had me all sentimental going awww, what sweet boys, and a sweet mom to understand them...and then you had me LOL about the organizational skills.

I don't know...I think it goes by personality.

At least you are teaching him!

Using My Words

Kellan said...

I always tell Little Billy that if he didn't have his head screwed on - it would fall off. You are not alone - see ya soon.

shay said...

you are NOT the only parent with this problem!

I think we all have one child like this. I am so glad son #2 only goes to classes one day a week (I homeschool). He has lost amazing amounts of stuff for the time he spends away from me.


Stepping Over the Junk said...

I'm a single mom. Welcome to my life. And yes, isnt it amazing to have two children from the same parents be SO different! Keeps ya on your toes!

Who' said...

This is like a glass mirror into my future. My poor three year old has to make 17 trips to his bedroom to get dressed. How one can forget underwear and the other sock is mind-boggling.

of course, this is said by the person that organized the junk drawer in our kitchen at the tender age of four. Clearly, he takes after his father and not his type-A momma.

At least you live in a place where he can quickly walk back. D's future neighborhood school is across a busy expressway.

BirdieRoark said...

ok, that last one was me. I was typing and the all of a sudden it posted....

Barrie said...

How organized do you think Einstein was? Probably not at all! Hang in there, Mom!

Professor J said...

I rather identify with Christopher. I'm a little spacey.

theotherbear said...

How does one lose a pair of snow pants, let alone 2. Wouldn't he have been wearing them?

Don't know how you keep your cool!

Kristen said...

Oh my! Sounds like a frustrating day! And no you are not alone. My kids are not even in school and they are just like that. I thought for a while it was because they were not used to having to keep track of all that stuff because they did not attend school every day. Guess not.

Ginaagain said...

Christopher is very lucky that school is close enough for him to be able to walk back and forth until he remembers everything. My kids learned in kindergarten that anything forgotten was not recoverable unti the next day because our schools lock up the minute the kids leave.

Your Benjamin reminds me of my Zane. When he was little he absolutely refused to say goodbye to anyone. Now he acts silly and is obnoxious until the goodbyes are over. He's driving me crazy right now because his best friend (and girlfriend) is leaving for Tunisia next week and won't be home until January.

Cathy said...

I'm predicting we WILL have this problem.

Right now, Daughter frequently forgets whatever stuffed animal she took to preK (for naptime) and there's much wailing when she realizes -- upon walking in the door -- that she left it at the school.

All I can say is -- You are SCARING me!!!

WorksForMom said...

You are definitely not alone. And at least your teaching him.

And I'm SO amazed too how the gene pool can produce such polar opposites time and time again!

Rima said...

I had pity for both of you reading this very endearing post. The visual of poor Christopher schlepping back and forth was very touching, and, well, kind of funny.

Lisa@Take90West said...

As the mom to a Christopher-type myself, I have absolutley no words of advice, other than to tell you that you are not alone.
I know how frustrating it is.

It's a good thing he's so cute, I'm sure he can charm his way out of any scrape his disorganization gets him in to!

The Hotfessional said...

No honey, you're not alone. Boys seems to be much worse about this than girls, but only having a boy, maybe I'm just assuming this.

Nah. I wasn't this bad. No one's daughters I know are this bad.

This is why I spend my weekends agonizing over a 16-year-olds homework. Because he forgets.

Take heart. You're starting in on them early. You still have a fighting chance!

katiez said...

I remember the day when I opened the drawer to set the table and there were no teaspoons. None. All 16 of them were missing.
I asked DS if he knew where they might be.
After some discussion we determined that he liked to eat a yogurt while waiting for the bus. He didn't want to take a 'dirty' spoon to school so he put it in a 'safe' place to pick up on the way home.
Sure enough, after extensive searching (it was winter) we found all of the 'safe' places and all of the spoons!

thirtysomething said...

Nope. You are definitely in the secret club. My nine year old son seems to just kind of plod along, occassionally realizing that yes, he was supposed to do something...but...what was it again?
Hey, the good thing is that you only live four minutes away from the school!
I have had to step back also and stop helping my oldest fix his problems. I tell him, they are his problems, created by his lack of attention to his responsibilities, and he must fix them.
Hang in there.

sandy shoes said...

Same with my girls... completely different reactions to the same situation. Personality is fascinating stuff.

The older one is uber-organized. Time will tell with her sister.

Who She She said...

You've been tagged!


Mrs. G. said...

Oh you are not the only one by a long shot. I'm not what this is about. I buy at least 3 pairs of gloves a year. Last summer, I put my foot down and said I wouldn't do laundry until my son and husband started safety pinning their socks together...the pile of lone socks in our basement was staggering. I am happy to report that this worked like a charm. Now I just have to start figuring out how to keep track of everything else!

ALM said...

I hardly ever lose stuff.. so started to freak out when Max lost three baseball gloves last year, and two lunch boxes within the first month of school! (Not to mention his not so cheap barn jacket, hoodie sweatshirt, countless hats, mittens...)

I was SO glad to read this and the comments to see that this was "normal" as I had nothing to compare it to!

Thank you for the wonderful public service your blog provides! :)

Karen MEG said...

Heidi, that sounds like me every morning with Liam. He flipped on Monday after he got home... "Mommy, we DID have poetry homework for the weekend! What did you do with it?" I said, well, it wasn't in your bag at week's end, didn't I ask you about it? He then says, yeah, but I must have done it and forgot to put it in the bag!. I'm like" huh? it never made it home!" He thinks about it, "oh, maybe it was in the other box at school". He's checking today, after spending 10 minute looking for the same hat and mitts he's been wearing daily for the last 30 days.
It's boys.
Good luck while Mike's away; I'll keep an eye out for him :)

Gina said...

Oh my, good luck for the upcoming weeks!

I've heard from many that they are suprised that their kids came from the same place because they are so different in temperament.

Don Mills Diva said...

My son isn't old enough to be disorganized but can I just say that your desciptions of how each boy handles goodbyes really made me feel as if I knew them. Dear sweet boys.

LoriD said...

It's a good thing you live so close to the school!

Amy Y said...

Don't worry ~ it'll be over before you know it... We're not quite there yet so I can't commiserate but hang in there, mama!

Victoria said...

You are obviously in good company with most of us...rather - your kid with our kids. *grin* My Boy is most forgetful about school commitments - notes, homework, extracurriculars, meetings. The Girl loses clothing and lunchboxes.

Sorry your guys had to say goodbye to dad. My two have dissimilar patterns like that too. When I travel for work - the Boy is nearly mad at me before I leave, and the Girl is very affectionate. It's almost the opposite when I return. Kids are odd little creatures, aren't they?

Missed you this weekend! =)

Sue said...

Oh dear. I'm sure this will be my daughter, when she is old enough that we're not triple checking everything she does. As it is, every morning, "Do you have your backpack?" "Yes." Two seconds later in the car, "Where is your backpack?" "Oh. Oops." She is her mother's daughter.

I hope your kids are feeling better about their dad's absence...

Valarie said...

Oh, you are definitely not alone. My daughter is like this, but I can't really blame her because the apple doesn't fall far from teh tree. hehe :)

Mac and Cheese said...

I'm kind of hoping that my anal retentiveness rubs of on my daughter and I can bypass this whole issue. It sure does help to live so close to school though.

carrie said...

These are the things left at school by my oldest this past week:

-Taekwondo test questions (very important and he had to test without them)
-Safety patrol December schedule (we need this to know when to get him to school early to do his "job")
-Copy of The Golden Compass (he was supposed to get this to Grandma so she could read it before the movie comes out)

All in ONE WEEK!

See, you're not alone friend! :)

Boys . . . sigh.

Stomper Girl said...

At least he's big enough to go back to school and rectify his mistakes ...

..but best of luck with the single-parenting!!!

gmcountrymama said...

I could ask my daughter 10 times if she is sure she has her homework in her bag. And I will still sometimes get a phone call from her asking if I would bring her homework in for her because she forgot it! UGH!

suburbancorrespondent said...

Good for you, making him go get the stuff. It'll sink in eventually. Or else he'll need a very patient wife!

Anonymous said...

I'm very impressed at how patient you were! I'm long past raising children, but I am pretty sure I would have been a little "testier" than you were.

Good for you, Mom. He'll learn.