Friday, July 25, 2014

Agreement isn't necessary. Understanding is.

I don't know why, but I always feel like I need/want to explain myself about why it's important to us to send our kids to private school.

Maybe it's because we're friends with such liberal, pro-public-school people, so we don't want to be seen as "those people" -- the pretentious private school people who think they're better and whose kids are preppy assholes. Also, we're going to be flat broke for the next 20 years, so we know people think we're crazy and wonder why the hell we would do that to ourselves. :-)

It also might have something to do with the fact that, even within our own families, there's still a tension between "bettering oneself or one's own family" and so-called "acting" or "wanting to be" white. (And yes, this is a real thing, despite people who want to believe it's not.)

Navigating both dynamics -- friends who don't understand your choices and family members who fear you're judging and abandoning them -- is trying, to say the least.

I always seem to become very inarticulate when I try to make our reasons known.
But this article, even though it's old, really gets to the large and small of it. 

Here's the link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=114327591

Most of you know my family background, and Lester's. So perhaps you can see how it is that we see ourselves in some of the imagery here.
No reason to read or listen to this right now, of course, but if we're close (you know who you are), I do want you to give it your attention, if you have the time and the inclination.

We know that private school is not "the answer." We know there are pitfalls and peer pressures wherever they go. In fact, there's a whole slew of new worries we're taking on by sending our children to a school where they'll be surrounded by privilege, potentially isolated, and exposed to vices we likely can't even imagine. And who knows how we'll feel once they actually get there. We could be singing an entirely different tune in a year or five.

But for us, right now, moving out of our neighborhood and sending the kids to private school seems like the best choice for our family.

I know we don't have to explain ourselves to anyone. And maybe you still won't agree with us, even after reading/listening to this. That's really OK. We don't have to agree.

But it would mean a lot for the people I like and love to at least understand.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bubbles + cousins + Baltimore Harbor = winning

This weekend, my sister Tahira and her husband had to go to a wedding, so we watched Russy and Matty.

We'd already planned to take our kids to the Science Center for Bubble Days, because Clair's absolute favorite thing (besides screeching at people and being irascible) is bubbles. So we just took all the kids with us. All five of 'em.

We ended up spending the entire day at the Science Center and the Inner Harbor (for lunch, ice cream, pirate-boat-watching and dancing). They got thoroughly soaked, playing in bubble solution for hours, and then we dragged the kids to Artscape for a little bit, where the boys made some spin art and mostly ran through a huge mist-er getting even more soaked, and Clair fell asleep in her stroller.

We were all BEAT at the end of the day, but it was  super fun and the kids loved hanging with their cousins (as usual).

See for yourselves:


What could be more fun than playing in a huge pool of sudsy bubbles?

"It's on my feet! It's on my hands! I need a towel!"
Hey Cary, check out your cool bubble pirate hat! Never mind that. Boohoohoo. Matty got suds on my glasses! (Sheesh. I can't with this kid.)
Russy tried to show Dean how to do this, but Dean knows EVERYTHING (in case you didn't know) so there was lots of tugging and minimal bubbling.
Mommy, Russy's bubble was THIS big!
As you can tell, they had so much fun with bubbles outside, they barely wanted to go inside the building!
Eating their ice cream on a sculpture at the Inner Harbor. And check out the dancing that ensued (below):
  video

Poor Matty was so tired, he missed the ice cream. We bought him a cone, though, just in case he woke up while we were all eating ours. But he slept like a hibernating bear. So Lester ate Matty's. And his.
By the time we got to Artscape, we were all super tired and wished we could get pushed around in a stroller while we slept, like Matty and Clair did.

But at least the next morning, the kids slept until after 8:30 a.m. - and took nice looooong afternoon naps.

Bubbles + cousins = WINNING.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Happy birthday, Kadija!

Yesterday was my sister Kadija's 33rd birthday.

Happy birthday, Kiz. I love you!
I was 8 when she was born, and I'd been a very happy only child, content to suck up all my parents' attention and love.

But I fell in love with her from the minute she came home from the hospital. She was crazy and cheeky and full of mischief. She gave my parents fits -- and kept us all in stitches.

My other three siblings came in rapid succession after her, and they were like a band of thieves, running together, keeping each other's secrets, the four of them against everyone else. I was so much older, "everyone else" even included me.

But somehow, Kadija and I maintained a special bond. Aside from a love of books, we are absolutely nothing alike. Tahira and I often joke that we think the two of us must have been adopted, because the other three siblings are so utterly and fundamentally different (I am patting myself on the back for my diplomacy with that statement). Despite our oil and water ways, Kadija and I have a closeness -- one of those inexplicable ones that isn't measured by how much we talk on the phone (not much), how much we hang out together (hardly ever), or how much we have in common (not a darn thing).

Mostly, it comes from the fact that I don't agree with many of her choices -- but I try very hard not to judge her. I give her my opinion, oh yes I do, but I love her unconditionally and I would do anything for her -- and she knows it. Similarly, Kadija thinks I'm a bit of a square, with a lame-o life and rigid, Puritan views. And yet, I know this will sound completely contrary, but she is the least judgmental person I know. She accepts me and loves me and is the very definition of what a good friend should be. She is loyal to a fault. Her heart is huge.

Here's a story I'll always remember:

I came home from Kansas City for a holiday vacation. I was still reeling from a break-up from nearly  a YEAR before. I'm not sure where we were going, but the two of us were in the backseat of my parents' car, and I stared glumly out the window. She asked me what was wrong and I shared with her that I had been depressed for almost a year because of this break-up, and the fact that I couldn't shake the depression was making me more depressed.

Kadija is not a mushy person, not in the least. When things are uncomfortable, she often turns to humor. My 18-year-old sister took my hand and said to me, "I've been depressed my whole life."

We laughed, and she held my hand the whole ride -- this girl who eschews affection. And I felt comforted, safe, and understood.

Her comment was funny, but also sad, because I knew it was true. She lives a hard life, my sister does. And now her kids do, too. Much of it is of her own doing, but it's still hard to watch. I know that most of her bad decisions have at their roots profound unhappiness, self-esteem issues and unchecked depression. I wish I could change those things for her. I know that I can't.

She is and always will be my march-to-the-beat-of-her-own-drum, tell it like it is, crack us up, worry us to death, genuine and sincere, devil-may-care sister. She's my very first sibling -- the first person I learned how to unconditionally love.

Now matter how old we get, or how our roads diverge, in my heart, the two of us are always holding hands, staring out of the car windows, as life whooshes too quickly by.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"...but the years are short."

I have quite a few friends who have recently had babies.

They are exhilarated by their newest loves. They are also exhausted. Some, I can tell, are wondering how they will make it through the long nights and the topsy-turvy days.

I remember the feeling, oh so well. Keenly, I can remember my eyes burning from sobbing and sleep-deprivation. I remember my body's soreness, my fuse's quickness. And that out-of-body, nerves all a-fire, slightly manic feeling of being mother to a new human being -- a feeling that dissipates at moments, but never seems to fully disappear.

Or so it seems.

The fact is, my friends, you will get back to a semblance of normal. Not the old one, but a new normal, and the you you used to be will slowly return. You will get through these upturned days and bleary-eyed nights.You will flourish actually. You're doing so much better than you think you are.

If you can remember to in the midst, drink it all in.

Because one day, before you have time to really register that it has happened, this:


...will have turned into this:


Right before your very eyes.

And you'll think back on those nights of holding your baby close, while you were all she needed.

And your eyes will burn again - a warm and bittersweet sting. Because it's true, what they all told you.

The days are long. But the years are so, so short. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dates and turtles and pools, oh my!

"We had a busy weekend" has become such a broken record in our family that I will not even preamble this post with a big ole paragraph, but instead I'll just launch right into the photos.

Friday night, Lester and I went out on a double date with our friends Antwyne and Mari. We had a great time eating up all the food at Fork &Wrench (and drinking a cocktail made just for me by the amazing bartender, Jay. It's called a "Squishy." Ask for it next time you go there. He puts it through the carbonater, so it's really fun watching him make it! Also it is GOOD.) And then we ended up having a few more drinks at Wit and Wisdom, which is Antwyne's fave spot.


Saturday morning, we dragggggggged ourselves out of bed and took the kids to Masonville Cove for Science Alive, where they learned all about turtles.

Here, they're watching a turtle race. I thought it was hilarious that Dean waited to see which turtle looked like he was going to win, and then declared, "That one is mine!" So when that turtle did indeed cross the finish line, he yelled, "Yaaay! My turtle won!" Hahahaa!

The turtle race was actually more thrilling than watching some of the World Cup games. IJS.

Here, all the kids are pretending to be turtles inside their paper-plate shells. Except for my child, Cary, who on his own decided that he was going to be an eagle instead, and scare all the turtles. He even tried to eat poor turtle Dean. All the parents were laughing at Cary's impromptu decision not to follow the crowd, but Lester and I already know all about that kid. For better or for worse, he does his own thing.

Flapping his wings and cawing, just to be rebellious.
The kids also made their own turtles. As usual Clair took her time coloring hers.


After Science Alive, Lester went to run our weekend errands (grocery store, Target run) and I took the kids to go hang out with my girl Kelly and her daughter Naomi at the Cheverly pool.

They loved this little wading pool but quickly decided they wanted bigger and riskier adventures. Who are these little thrillseekers?
At first, the kids played happily in the wading pool, but they eventually ventured over into the bigger kiddie pool, and wandered out into the water much farther than they ever have before. I was so impressed. Clair, especially, was fearless -- jumping off the wall into the pool (it was only a foot tall, so she still didn't get her head submerged), crawling around on her hands "like a fish" with her legs floating out behind her (which meant she had to hold her head up out of the water like a pro) and wading out until the water was up to her neck! I was so proud of her. I was proud of all my kids, actually -- they all did great, unlike at swim lessons, which were a bit of a bust, in my opinion.  We were there for four hours of non-stop splashing and fear-conquering, and it made me realize that if we just went to the pool more often, they might get over their fear of the water a lot faster. So we need to make a point of figuring out how to do that next summer.

There were two casualties - Dean slipped while running ("no running at the pool" now actually means something to him) and scraped his chest and Cary toppled over while sitting and conked his head. After the head-conking, it was time to go. The kids were sun-baked, thirsty, hungry and cranky, and exhausted from no naps and hours of pool fun.

So this happened about 15 minutes into our long drive home, which as you know is a RARITY with my three.

All three asleep at the same time! Praise the good Lord in heaven.
This meant I got to turn off the kids' CD, roll the windows down and drive the rest of the way home in SILENCE. 45 minutes of golden, delicious, breeze flowing through the windows silence.

Halleluiah for pool time!

Sunday we went to church, came home and napped, while Lester drove to D.C. to pick up a few remaining personal items from his house (we go to settlement on Tuesday - yay!) And after the kids went to bed, we spent almost 90 minutes watching old iPhone videos of Clair as a baby, and then the boys when they were just crawling, and going "Awwwww." So yeah, basically, we're complete and total suckers for these little crazies. We can't deny it.

Despite my nap, I'm still tired today from all that hanging out on Friday and sitting in the sun on Saturday and running around with kids and cooking dinner on Sunday.

But this is the best kind of tired, don't you think? The very, very best.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

4 year old check-up (and a confession)

C and D had their 4-year-old physicals today. Here are the stats:

Cary
Weight: 32 lbs.
Height: 39''
BP: 94/61

Dean
Weight: 37 lbs.
Height: 41.5"
BP: 100/62

You read that right - they took their blood pressure this time and also did an eye exam and checked their ears, like big boys! We've come a long way from me bringing two blankets in to the doctor's office to swaddle them in because I was afraid their little preemie bodies wouldn't handle the cold air.

Health-wise, they're both just fine. We are slightly concerned about the way Cary pronounces certain words, and Dr. Bodnar had no explanation for it, so he suggested we seek out a speech therapy program at one of the local colleges. I think we might just do that. Other than that, no real issues.

This visit, however, was extremely trying. (Here comes my confession.)

Both boys acted pure FOOLS and I don't like either one of them very much right now. Cary especially is on my list.

He was SO naughty and obstinate and, it has to be said...assholish ... during the entire visit, I was really quite embarrassed. He wouldn't talk to Dr. Bodnar when he asked him questions, and instead made rude noises or sat with a smirk on his face, while flipping pages of a book or touching any and everything in the exam room. He grunted and pouted instead of using words. He rolled around the room on Dr. Bodnar's wheeled seat. He ran out the door in his underwear. He interrupted me or Dr. Bodnar over and over and over and over. He was such a royal brat, I was stunned.

Honestly, Cary generally has a problem with listening and doing what he's told, and he acts like an ass to people all the time. But I promise you he took it up a few notches today at the doctor. He was THAT kid -- you know the one. The one you see out in public and talk smack about his parents when you leave. The kid you swear your child will never turn out like.

Dean, on the other hand, was lovely and personable until it came time to get his immunizations.
Cary got his shots first, because he's the oldest, and he whimpered a little but didn't cry. It was over in a flash.

Then the nurse turned her needles on Dean and this child SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS, SHRIEKED AND CLAWED AND CRIED LIKE SOMEONE WAS PULLING HIS FINGERNAILS OUT WITH PLIERS!!!

He performed so bad and screeched so loudly for such an extended period of time that my eardrums were ringing (longtime readers might remember that Dean has a VERY high-pitched wail. That has only strengthened over time. Believe me. He could shatter glass.)
When we were walking out, a mother with her two daughters said to me, "Were they in with Dr. Bodnar?" I said yes. She replied, "Oh good, I'm so glad to see they're alive. They sounded like they were DYING."

Please note that Dean screamed so much, so loud and so long, she thought there were two children causing such a horror show ruckus.

His theatrics were a bit embarrassing, and I was a little disappointed in how straight crazy he acted, but I know that fear is irrational, and shots do hurt, so I am not nearly as put out with him as I am his brother.

Folks, I am so over Cary's obnoxia. (I just made that word up.) It's bad at home, worse in public, and never as bad as I saw it today. I honestly want to stay at work now and come home after he's asleep just so I don't have to see him anymore today. It's that bad, people.

I put all this out here on the Interwebs, where there is sure to be judgment and side-eye-slinging, because I need for all of you parents of newborns and toddlers who think -- like I did -- that there's nothing your sweet, adorable, cuddly little child could EVER do to make it so that you could stay mad at them --- I need you to know that you are WRONG!

The day is coming, my dears. Oh, the day is coming.

Thank God tomorrow is another day.

Monday, July 7, 2014

4th of July - summer's bittersweet midpoint

It's sad to say it, but summer is pretty much halfway over. Pretty soon, there will be back-to-school sales, crispness in the air and orange leaves. Before you know it, it's Christmas.

Geeez.

But as much as I bemoan the 4th of July as the peak of summer season (all downhill from here, people), I can't really hate on it too much, because there ain't too much cuter than little kids in Americana-themed clothing. And I do love me some cookout food!

This particular 4th was perfection: hot but not too humid; a parade and fireworks in Annapolis; three cookouts and one crab-feast; two sets of red-white-and-blue outfits; baby pools, water tables, cousins, cupcakes - and lots and lots of sparklers.


Waiting for the 4th of July parade in historic downtown Annapolis. My kids now are obsessed with parades, because they got handfuls of candy thrown at them during this one.
Cheeeeeeeese.
Coincidentally, Tahira and I both brought our families to Annapolis this Fourth! It was really fun to hang out with family unexpectedly.
That's Russy on Reggie's shoulders. Guess whose kids didn't cry about the fireworks this year? That's right. My big kids!
At a cookout at my friend David's house, he handed out sparklers and the kids loved them! Clair called hers a "wand."
Our friends Kelly and Mark had a crab feast and pulled out the baby pool. Lots of splashing with Naomi and baby Jason and then, of course: "I'm cooooooold!!" When cold, must eat popsicles. You didn't know?
We finally got to taste the tomatoes the kids grew in their own little pots at Jason and Kelly's house. "They taste GOOD!" the kids exclaimed. Pay Dean's tart-face no attention. He loved them. Thanks, Farmer Jason!

At a cookout at my Mom and Dad's house, I got to chat with this guy, Tyren, who I used to play with when I was like 9 years old. I haven't seen him in a thousand years! He came from Texas with his parents (my Dad's good friends), his wife and three gorgeous daughters, who are 14, 11 and 9. I felt so old! LOL.
After four nights out of the house until at least 11 p.m., so much running around in the sun, lots of walking, and fireworks, sweet treats, splashing, friends, cousins and hot dogs, my kids did what they almost NEVER do: They conked OUT in the car. It was blissful. (P.S. Dean is wearing my sunglasses. Isn't he the most adorable?)
Lester and I did a lot of talking this holiday about what it means to be both an American and a black person in America. It's an interesting dual perspective to carry around, living in a country that is so awesomely wonderful in so many ways, and also still so intolerant of -- and sometimes downright hateful to -- people who look like us.

We know people who find it hard to embrace the Fourth because of that dichotomy. Some were posting photos on Facebook of slaves picking cotton, with text that said, "This is what my ancestors were doing in 1776." And it's true. American freedom means different things depending on who you are in this country. That was true in 1776, and though things are exponentially better now, it is still true today.

But I am still really proud to be an American. And I am still certain that there are few places on this planet where so many people of all different stars and stripes could have so much opportunity. I look at my beautiful children -- the descendants of people who toiled and bled and died so that they could wave sparklers and eat hot dogs like everyone else -- and I am truly optimistic that our country will one day get to where it needs to be. If any country can do it, we can. 

 "And crown thy good with brotherhood...from sea to shining sea."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Is it bad that I am re-capping the weekend on Thursday?

I just can't get it together folks. It's Thursday and I'm just getting around to re-capping LAST weekend.

But better late than never, right? (If ever a motto was written by a procrastinator, that one is it.)

Last weekend, like most weekends, we had 50,000 things to do. Here are the highlights:

We went to Abby and Maya's 4th Birthday Party, which was held at the Mayfield playground, just around the corner from us. It was the perfect place for a party -- close by, shady and cool, with familiar equipment for the kids to play on. And Abby and Maya were the cutest!

When I pointed my camera at them and asked the birthday girls to hug, this is what they did. Awwww! After this, I learned to say, "Hug EACH OTHER."
They love this little playground. Look at my sweet pea!
Clair was the only one who wanted to keep her party hat on. And I had one on too. Me and my little girl -- always dressed for the occasion.
After the birthday party, we met up with our new friends the Stewarts, and their two little girls, at the Maryland Science Center for "Make-a-Mess Day."

This one LOVED making a mess.
They have no idea what they're doing with this touch-screen thing because they. can't. read.
Dean and Lester enjoyed a little show about electricity. Clair kept saying, "I don't LIKE that show!" And Cary just wanted to play with the touch screens nearby, even though ...see above photo.
Afterward, Lester went to a housewarming/networking event (with some big names in attendance!) while I took the boys to baseball and played with Clair. After that, Stephanie and Tom (my boss/friends) stopped by unexpectedly, which was really nice. And then Antwyne and Mari dropped off Antony unexpectedly, so we had an extra 4-year-old for dinner and bathtime, which was also really nice. The boys love Antony and the three of them get along famously, laughing and giggling and being super silly together. Too bad I didn't get to see too much of that silliness, because I peaced Lester out and went to Holly's 40th birthday party on her and Jessica's awesome rooftop deck, drank margaritas and ate Mediterranean food until I almost popped.
Check out the view of South Baltimore from their rooftop. Nice, right? Their rooftop deck is nicer than my entire house. Not even joking.
Sunday, Lester took the kids to church and I stayed home and cooked a huge Southern breakfast, because my parents came over for brunch -- and brought my little brother Rashad! (Oh, my heart!)
I wish I'd thought to take a real photo of my brother with the kids, but instead all I did was snap this spur of the moment photo, when all three of the kids were jumping and playing on my Dad, and laughing hysterically. I stood in the doorframe and saw three men whom I love so much, playing with my three babies, whom I love so much. And I may or may not have gotten a little teary.
 
It's almost hard to believe that's my baby brother over there in the corner, just hanging out at my house after stuffing himself with grits and sausage and cinnamon apples. God is so good! When I think about those first few weeks when he was in the hospital...I don't even know how to put into words how I feel.
And then after my family left (waaaah!), Antywne and Mari came back to get Antony's lovey, which he left behind the night before. They stayed for a nice, long time while I fixed dinner and the boys played again with Antony so well that I almost felt like they'd read my earlier post and thought, "We'll show her that she knows NOTHING!"

Seriously - they were like three peas in a goofy pod. Cary and Dean still don't always know to appropriately play with friends (Cary especially), but it was heartening to see that they can laugh and pal around sometimes, when they want to.

Thanks to those of you who commented or sent me notes about twin-closeness and friendships. You don't know how much it helps to be able to put your concerns/anxieties out into the world and have people take you seriously, even if you might just be being a little bit crazy (all the time). Thank you all! I definitely intend to try some of the things you suggested.

Happy 4th! Will post photos of red-white-and-blue-themed children next week!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Can twin closeness be a bad thing?

This week, I was getting Lester's laptop out of his work bag and discovered two little progress reports from C and D's last day of school.

Putting aside for a moment the fact that my dear husband forgot to even mention these to me -- the last day of school was MAY 28th -- I was a little sad when I read them over.

There were no real surprises; the boys are doing well in almost all areas. But under "interacts with one or more children," Dean and Cary both got an "N" for "not consistently demonstrating;" they both got "Ps" --  progressing -- in "participates in the group life of the class" -- and Cary got a string of flashing neon Ps in "interacts with familiar adults," "shows empathy and caring for others," "follows simple classroom rules and routines," and pretty much the whole section called "Personal and Social Development."

Beth posted a lovely piece today on Facebook called  "My Kids Aren't Perfect and That's OK." The gist was that it was OK if kids weren't acing every single subject in school, or if they weren't remembering to do all their chores without being nagged. Kids "stumble and fall and make lots of mistakes and messes," the post says, but what matters is that they are "good, kind and caring [people.]"

eing a good, kind, caring person.
being a good, kind, caring person.
Well, ahem, judging from the progress reports, being good, kind and caring -- the things that are the hallmark of a socially normal person -- are pretty much the only things my children are lacking!

Cary is a special case, because he is a little aloof, in general, and not very consistent about behaving in a socially appropriate way, especially around new people. It's his personality. Dean is more extroverted and a people-person, so he's a little bit better in this area.

But mostly, I blame this OBVIOUS social stuntedness on my boys being twins.

Check out what the teachers had to say about Cary and Dean (after they went through the obligatory "Child is bright, enjoys the sand table..." BS).

About Cary:
Cary sometimes needs assistance expressing himself and depends on his brother Dean to speak for him.

About Dean:
Dean needs daily reminders to remember to let Cary speak for himself. He only does this because he loves Cary so much and is very concerned about his well-being.

Hmmm. #co-dependent much?

I have noticed that my boys never seem to really play with other children when we're out -- even with familiar children. They don't have friends, really, other than the ones we adults call their friends, either because we like to hang with their parents (Antony, Abby, Maya, Hugo, Naomi, Spirit), or because we see them so much everywhere (Marcus).

I always thought it was a good thing that the boys had each other. It certainly made the entry into school a lot easier than it has been for poor Clair (God help that child to stop being so fearful and tearful every day!) But now I look around and notice that other kids their age are starting to form adorable little friendships, or at the very least, they have a semblance of what it means to be the kind of person people would want to be friends with.

But when I mention to Cary, for instance, that he shouldn't SCREAM in people's faces when he's just met them because people won't want to be friends with people who aren't kind, he simply shrugs. After all, why does he need other people to be his friends? He has Dean.

And when I ask them about other kids, they honestly don't know what to say about them, because they don't pay other kids any attention! They live in their own little twin-world and they're just fine there.

I think Dean will eventually find himself some buddies. For Cary -- well, it might take a while for that to happen.

But I do wonder how long it will take them to want outside friendships -- and if a delay in developing that desire will mean an accompanying delay in knowing how to make friends.

In other words, will my twin boys be socially awkward? I know I shouldn't worry about this kind of thing, but as a social person who has always found making friends to be easy, and intimate friendships with people truly rewarding, I DO WORRY.

I know how hard childhood and adolescence can be for those who find friend-making difficult. I don't want that for my boys. 

Parents of twins, what have you found in this area? Is this more because they're 4, or is this a real twins-thing throughout childhood? Am I just being neurotic (as usual).


Former womb-mates. Forever friends.

P.S. I think it is kinda funny that the boys' only other "Ns" were in "participates in group music experiences" and "participates in creative movement, dance and drama." Guess I won't be seeing them on Broadway. Hahahaa!

Monday, June 23, 2014

I've got 99 problems and my kids are 3 of them

Sometimes all my kids are going along swimmingly, being insane but normally so, nothing special to report. Same ole, same ole. Another day another diaper.

But these days, I have issues with each one of them. Issues I honestly am not sure how to handle.

Let's start with the oldest, shall we?

Cary: He wore his glasses for two days without problems. Then, all of a sudden, when people are around, he refuses to wear them. At my mother's house, he donned a Batman mask to avoid having to put on his specs. At church, he wouldn't go into his classroom with them on - just flat out refused. And today, when I made him put them on, he took them off and flung them to the floor.
I know part of the problem is that we made a huge tactical error by making a big deal out of the glasses and how cool they were in the beginning. My Dad came by and oohed and aahed; we even asked the hostess at Gertrude's to tell him how handsome he was in his new glasses, which she was happy to do (because he DOES look cute in them!) Turns out, Cary doesn't love all the attention his glasses bring. He told me, "I don't want people to say things about them!" But why he doesn't want to wear them even at home all of sudden, I have no idea. And I don't know what to do to convince him that he has to wear them. I don't want to turn the idea of his glasses into a sore spot, but I keep finding myself threatening him with timeout if he doesn't put them on. The doctor was adamant that he has to wear them full-time or else his vision could get worse. So what else can I do?
Color me stumped.

See? Here he is lying in the bed "reading" a book WITHOUT his glasses.
Dean: Did I post here before about the time Dean stashed a lollipop under his pillow, to eat, I suppose, after the rest of us had gone to bed? I can't remember if I told you all that story. But nevermind that because guess who did it again? This time with a STOLEN piece of candy from Target? Yes, you guessed it. My middle child. While I was in North Carolina for my friend Laurie's 50th birthday, Lester had to take all three kids to Target. At the checkout counter, apparently, Dean spied a piece of candy he wanted, tucked it into his pocket, carried it all the way home, put the candy under his pillow, got undressed, put his pajamas on, and said not. a. word. the whole time about his contraband. Lester only discovered it because the child who has the sophistication to swipe candy, stash it away, DELAY GRATIFICATION (helloooo!) and keep a poker face the entire time is still only 4 and too young to realize that he had to pick up his pillow (hey dumb-dumb, move your hiding place next time, eh?) to get in the bed after our nighttime prayers. Of course, after Lester found the candy, there was a long conversation about stealing and what that means and about honesty, etc. Lester told me later he was "crestfallen" about it. And I am too. I know that Dean doesn't really understand what "stealing" is, but the fact that he is capable of that kind of planned-out deceit is ...unnerving. Not totally surprising -- he's always been the child who looks for things to get into to. But still, it's alarming. Even if he is only 4.
Color me flummoxed.

No cavities at this last check-up, but I don't know what will happen if he keeps stashing candy under his pillow at night. Also, how can I get him to use his powers for good?!?!
Clair:  The first day of summer camp went OK. The next day, not as well, but still OK. By Day 3, she was in tears from the time we started getting her dressed until after Lester dropped the kids off at school. She cries great big, sad tears, and pleads with us with her eyes not to send her to school. "I don't want to go to camp!" she wails. "I want to stay here with Mommy and MiMi!" It breaks my heart. And now, I guess because she's so freaked out by being left at summer camp, she also has reverted back to acting the fool at children's church. Yesterday, for the first time in forever, they flashed us on the screen during service to come get her from her class. Some of it has to do with the fact that yesterday was the day they moved all the pre-school kids up a level, so the boys went from the 3s to the 4s and Clair went from the 18-24mos. class to the 2-year-olds class. So the change wigged her out, I know. But she was crying at home before we even left for church, once she ascertained where we were going. She refused to put her shoes on, thinking that would prevent us from taking her. And at one point, she even started climbing, barefoot and resolute, up the stairs, saying, "I want to stay here - by myself." It rips my heart out the way she cries, and it also affects my mood for a good part of the day. She's just so highly-anxious! I also really worry now about what will happen when we (hopefully/prayerfully) find a new person to take care of the kids afterschool. She LOVES Michelle and will likely flip the funk out when her time with us is up.
Church, camp, school in the fall, a new caregiver -- I just think this whole transition is going to suck suck suck. 
Color me defeated.

How can you be so cute and independent and fearless sometimes and so fearful and anxious and maddening other times? Quit breaking Momma's heart, girl!