Alone with the Mario-man


Maria spent the weekend with her cousin, Alana and her Grandma Ionno and Papa Ionno.  Grandma Ionno (Patty) is a powerhouse of a lady – able to take these grandkids for days at a time.  Her energy amazes everyone along with her positive attitude and dedication to family.  She takes Mario for days at a time: a three-year old “spazo” kid who wants to wrestle and fight and play b-ball, and she handles him for five days straight.  Incredible.  She weighs all of 100 pounds wet and still has that cheerleader smile and pep to her from high school.  She has been dealing with the “Bickerson Twins” as she calls Maria and Alana when they are together.  They tend to whine and bicker often when they are together (with me, too) and Patty simply tells them that they will head home if they don’t shape up.  They shape up – because who would want to leave Grandma Ionno’s house? 

Mario ready to play b-ball on his 2nd b-day!

Meanwhile, Jon and I are dealing with only one child.  We recalled when we had only Maria and we would complain about how hard it was and how we wished we had more alone time.  Then Mario came and we thought “man, we had it easy with one – what were we complaining about?”  Mario played basketball a good part of the day.  he woke up this morning begging to play but we made him wait until it got in the 40s.  He went on errands with Jon (got donuts) and then came home to play b-ball.  He played for almost  an hour and a half before Blake, the neighborhood boy (age 6) called from his yard over to Mario “Do you want to play soccer with me?”  At first Mario declined because he wanted to continue playing b-ball with his cool mom but then Blake asked again.  Mario looked at me and chirped “Mom, Blake wants to have a playdate with me!”   His dialogue with Blake was precious “Blake, do you want me to bring my basketball” and “you can come to my house for a playdate, too.”  He walked back home a half hour later with Blake holding his one hand and a chocolate milk in his other. Mario ready to play b-ball on his second b-day!”Mom, I had a fun playdate with Blake. Can he come to our house for a play date sometime?” 

Precious. 

We took a walk later.  Since the stroller has been out of commission, we tried the backpack.  We have not used the backpack in at least four months.  However, as soon as I slipped it on with him snug on my back, I remembered all of the rides we took when he was an infant and a toddler.  His perfectly shaped head resting on the mid of my back as I walked gently throughout the neighborhood so I would not jar him.  Holding his tiny feel in my hands as I walked down the streets with him.  Feeding him raisins as we looked for birds and squirrels.  It all came back to me as soon as I swung him on my back. 

We headed up to the second-hand store to try to find some “basketball pants” for him.  He liked jeans for one day over the last four months – sweats are just where it is for him at this stage of his life.  But all of his sweats are way too short for him (he thinks they look cool though because you can see his socks well).  I told him that we would get him some basketball sweats like the ones the college players wear and that was all it took.  He was game.  We stopped at DQ and got an ice cream cone to eat along the way.  When we got to the second-hand store, Mario helped me find four pairs of b-ball sweats – two with stripes down the side and one with snaps at the bottom.  He also picked out a basketball hat and a new black belt which he promptly clasped around his middle (with sweatpants on!). 

Mario in his backpack

We started home together and I found myself yawning and exhausted.  Mario’s head cold had finally gotten me.  So, I made up a story about an elephant named George who loved to go to the park.  I asked Mario to continue the story and he added that George had a man as a friend names Steve Sign.  A monster came to the park one day and killed George and Steve Sign.  Ok, my turn.  I added Henrietta, the best friend of George, who loved him dearly and cried a river when she found out he died.  I turned it over to Mario.  Mario added the following: 

“The river turned out to have sharks in it.  The sharks found Henrietta and ate her.”

Exasperated with constant death, I added “Henrietta’s parents came and saw the sharks hurting her and…”

I waited to hear Mario say that they got killed, too but instead he said the following:

“And Henrietta’s dad fought with the sharks and Henrietta and her mom became alive.” 

Alright!  No death; fighting still, but no death.  That is a start. 

Maria, Alana and Mario posing at Polaris

We woke up this morning to 35 degrees.  Within five minutes of rubbing my eyes awake, Mario begged to go outside to play b-ball.  I made him eat a fiber bar before we went out (a new bribe – eat something good for breakfast and we’ll play b-ball).  The boy could play b-ball for hours.  We were out there 45 minutes before dad made us come inside because it was so cold.  We traveled up to Polaris Mall at noon to meet Grandma and Grandpa Ionno and Maria and Alana.  They played at the play land for a while.  Alana and Mario ran after each other and tackled each other.  Maria felt left out.  She sulked over in the corner.  I told her to go and play with them but she didn’t feel like it.  My girl – she has a lot of loner in her (is that a Menkedick trait?) so I told her to do her own thing.  She walked around and climbed some animals in a sort of melancholy fashion but with quiet purpose.  After a while, Alana ran up to her and hugged her and that got her in the mood to play again. 

We came home after Polaris and Mario and Alana played while Maria got escorted to Zanesville to go to the farm.  Mario and I headed to the library after Alana left and got some Hulk book and Superman books.  On the way home, I saw his eyes getting heavy.  I knew I was in trouble since it was 4:15 and we had to leave for the hockey game at 5.  By the time we hit the house, he was knocked out cold.  When I take him out of the stroller, he usually always wakes up (when we want him to sleep).  Today, he was limp and out.  I put him on the couch.  Jon and I made noise, Cy barked, but he would not wake up.  At 5 pm, I finally jostled him awake and asked if he wanted to go to the game.  At first he tossed around pissed at the world but then he realized it was the hockey game and he agreed to go.  We got there a little late and it took him a while to open up to the people in the suite but after the first quarter, he came alive (probably from the 3 chocolate chip cookies he devoured).  He acted goofy, ran around, gave hugs, flirted with a “cute girl” and loved the hockey game.  He watched it intently commentating on the players, the refs and the ice.  He loved the experience.  When we left, he asked me when we could go to a basketball game.

Maria and Pee-paw scoping out the farm before the house was built!

We got home and watched his new favorite show: Power Rangers.  He stood up and aped what the actors did in the show.  He reminds me of my little brother when he does that; Jackson used to not only mimic what they did physically but he used to have killer sound effects that he added.  I called Maria to see how she was doing at the farm, and she was being her silly self on the phone – happy to be off of school for Spring Break and with Mama Meg and Pee-paw.

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