Benjamin: A baby's view of his summer and life in general


OK, folks. It's my turn to share a bit about what its like to grow up overseas (not terribly traumatic) and be the baby brother to two older, high-powered sisters (terribly traumatic), here after referred to as the dynamic duo. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, the following may make my case a bit clearer...

Exhibit A: My mom outsources her work...

OK, I'll give you that they are cute. I'll also give you the fact that they are very crazy about me. But I ask you, can't a guy get a meal in without these two interfering! My mom, the picture taker, is always delighted when they offer for this duty. As I am quite the eater, I take what I can get, but under protest.

Exhibit B: I take matters into my own hands...

I suppose being last has its advantages. However, one of the definite downsides of being the littlest and not have any words other than Baaa (what am I, a sheep?) or Daaa (that'll get her...saying his name before hers!) is that it is sometimes difficult to make my needs known. I think my parents think it is character building to make me wait sometimes. But when a guy's hungry, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. On this day, I decided I could do as good a job as the dynamic duo and tried to feed myself. No one told me it might have been easier to start with cheerios rather than oatmeal.

Exhibit C: Character building

OK, I'll admit to being a bit on the lazy side. But tell me the truth, if you had two loving sisters and an abundance of other adults (even my parents, I might add) willing to lift you, sit you, pull you, and entertain you, you would be a bit lazy too. Our apartment rooms have this strange feature to them in that each one is on a slightly different level than the other...maybe varying a inch or two. For sometime this nasty little architectural element kept me adequately fenced in until one of the dynamic duo would come along and "rescue me". I admit to chanting in my brain, "please let it be the big one, please let it be the big one, please let it be the big one" ...Annie is certainly well-meaning, but has all the finesse and gentleness of a bulldozer. Anyway, eventually I conquered all of these doorways but one. This last frontier was a gold mine of baby thrills: computer consoles, clothespins, and, the mother lode: Sophie's leggos (more specifically her already-built leggo houses that my hands were just itching to, Godzilla-like, destroy.) As you will see pictured, I could get my legs swung up over the entry, but then I found myself stuck,...

ASIDE: I can't really crawl yet. At least not in a traditional sense. I am really more of a scooter. My mom calls me Apollo after Apollo Anton Ono...No I do not show promise as a future contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" (look at my gene pool...dancing isn't likely to be in my future with my rhythmically challenged parents), but my scooting style is reminiscent of the Olympian's speed skating style. I lean to the left and scoot, in a self-propelling, swinging motion not unlike a speed skater. In truth it could probably also be compared to the movement of the hunchback of Notre Dame. But Mom tends to look for the best in people. END OF ASIDE

...stuck with two capable adults and the dynamic duo staring right back at me. Did they move a muscle? Did they budge an inch (other than to grab the camera)? Then, the final blow, they all began to applaud and cheer, "you can do it!" What I think they don't quite get is I DON'T WANT TO DO IT! I WANT THEM TO DO IT! Sheesh. You would think that basic fact would be obvious. And so, broken by my limited communication abilities, I resorted to the "cry-your-guts-out-and-look-really-offended" ploy. As I recall it worked...The bigger half of the dynamic duo pulled me over the hump...but not before she put her lovely little red, blue, yellow, and green brick house up and out of reach. Foiled again. Those firstborns (see birth order book, mentioned below) are way too attentive to detail.

Exhibit D: Under the category of "Scarred for life".

Granted, in the picture I look happy enough At that point I don't think I was hungry, tired, or bored, so why wouldn't I be smiling? However, I know that these kinds of pictures are what every young man's nightmares are made of...being dressed up in girls' clothing. I mean, not just girls' clothing but PURPLE girls clothing strewn with horses and stars in a gown the shoulder, at that. The shame of it. The blackmail potential of it. I'm sorry. I can't go on. You get the picture.

Exhibit E: Cave man

This happened when my mom and dad took a trip with our friends and I had to eat in places most people only dream (or have nightmares) about. In this particular picture, my stomach's demands were met in a roadside cave in the middle of nowhere. Did I eat it "all gone"? You betcha! All I can say about that trip is I am glad I am still in diapers...if this was the dining area, you don't want to even imagine, the, um, other...

Exhibit F: The myth about boys liking to get dirty

I'll admit to looking fairly happy in this picture. But let me give you a bit of context. I had been riding on hot dusty roads for about 4 hours, IN A CARSEAT (the injustice of it--I hadn't ridden in a car seat since I was like, 3 months old in Canada), without the dynamic duo (who were no doubt sitting comfortably somewhere in air conditioning, sipping apple juice, and watching MY Bob the Builder DVDs), and at this point I had just been freed from the above mentioned prison. Besides, (in spite of what the name "mud volcanoes" might make one think) this mud was cool. One point I would like to make, is that getting and being dirty really isn't that much fun when someone else (i.e. the adult in charge) encourages and even helps one at it. There is something untrustworthy about that. However, when one discovers a truly dirty, sticky mess of one's own (see Exhibit G), well, that is bliss.

Exhibit G: The human glue stick, also known as Benjamin's revenge

Now this picture may seem a bit of a mystery. And its purpose may seem a bit puzzling, where, after all is moi? This is part of the sweetness of revenge...Mom was so mad at this that she couldn't take a picture of me in the midst of it, somehow she thought that might only encourage me more! Instead she took a picture of my "tracks". Being the scooter (Apollo) that I am, and also being the door frame hurdler that I am (character building) I found some unattended (for all of about 10 seconds) glue that a handy man happened to leave unopened. In the time it could take you to say, "Elmer's Glue doesn't taste at all like my banana yogurt" I was in the room, had tipped the bottle over, proceeded to slather myself in it and then scooted my way along, in Apollo-the-Human-Glue-Stick fashion until being apprehended by three adults...2 minutes start to finish. Not bad for a scooter.

In Conclusion:

My mom has been reading this book on birth order ("The Birth Order Book: why you the way you are" clever title, huh?). Apparently us last-borns have this real need for either attention or revenge. From the above you can see, I am getting my share of both!

Unfortunately, she has also read in the above mentioned book that mothers tend to A.) spoil their only boys, and B.) over identify with their equal in birth order (Mom is the baby of her family, too) both of which can often result in spoiling. My mom being the equal opportunity parent that she is, I think I can see a change a-comin'...probably more character building!

Annie's turn: the journey to preschool


Annie is now 3 1/2 and as we have previously described, our social butterfly. She has been begging to go to school with Sophie since Sophie began kindergarten last year. As a new preschool option became available here, we decided to send Annie 2 days a week, Wednesday and Friday. She was delighted and it seemed to her that the day would NEVER come when she, too, would get to venture out to school. She did have a couple of disillusionments when she found out A.) she wasn't going to school with Sophie and the other 6 year-olds (a.k.a. Annie's BEST friends...have we mentioned she thinks SHE is 6?) and B.) that Mommy and Ben weren't going with her either! She then informed me that she was going to be shy there. Due to a nasty GI bug she missed her first day (not the best way to start out the school year...infecting 20 other children and their families with a virus!)

...A funny aside for those who don't mind hearing about childhood illness...Annie is mid-hurl leaning over her bucket (time check: 3:30 AM) and Sophie is sitting beside her and says, "I feel so bad"...not "I feel so bad for you, Annie", not "I feel so bad (sick) myself", but simply, "I feel so bad for myself that Annie is sick." Ahhh, the egocentricity of a child...

OK, back to Annie and school. Below you will find some pictures that will help give you a glimpse of what is involved to simply get Annie to school in the mornings...and then you will see why we only do it two days a week!

Taxi Trip

8:00 - 8:30 AM

We are out the door by 8 AM to catch a ride with our regular taxi driver up the hill (about 7 minutes drive) to our friends' and teammates' apartment. When Sophie is going to school the other days of the week we leave her with the Douglas kids (Krystal & David) for the rest of the trip to school. We leave the Douglas place by 8:15 AM...The twist, this taxi, like about 99.5% of taxis here have no seat belts, let alone booster seats. Every trip to school (or anywhere) is a venture of faith!

8:30-8:50 AM

Once we arrive at the school , we get to fun of seeing Sophie off to her classroom. Annie gets to see all of her "best friends" and then we usually visit the kindergarten class, too. School hasn't started by this point and since it is such a small school (less than 60 students grades K-9) it has a real family atmosphere. Most of the kids and parents know Annie by name and greet her accordingly...unknowingly making her day.

8:50 - 9:00 AM

From here we await one of two different families depending on the day. These two gracious families, with vehicles of their own, have agreed to shuttle us on to the preschool along with their own second-born girls (the older two being students with Sophie), pictured below.

Out of the van and ready to go! (note Annie's choice of clothing: her "princess" dress...on her way to the ball, no doubt!)

9:00 - 9:10 AM

Once we arrive near enough to the preschool, we park and walk the last block or so to the school. As you will see below, the last stretch of the road is a bit hard on any vehicle...besides the little extra walk helps the girls burn off a bit of the bubbling over excitement. The school, like Sophie's, is actually a house located in a neighborhood. It has the advantage over our apartment of having a nice little yard to play in.

Ready to face another tough day at preschool...the three musketeers!

9:10 AM - 2:30 PM

Upon arrival at the school, the children are greeted by the rest of their buddies and their lovely teachers, who help them change into their indoor shoes and get them settled in the general play room, while they await the rest of the gang. The next 5 hours will be full of healthy snacks, singing, games, new concepts (ABCs 123s), lunch time followed by a rest and (knowing these kids) lots of giggling!

School, at last!

2:30 - 3:30 PM

I'll spare you the details of the return journey. If you just do everything in reverse, you'll get the general idea!

Coming Soon: Life from Benjamin's point of view