Monthly Archives: October 2015

Why parents really go through their kid’s Halloween candy

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The trick-or-treater always rings twice

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it was dark and sprinkling a little bit. But that annoying kind of sprinkle that gets your clothes all soggy.

It was quiet inside the house. Perhaps a bit too quiet. Well, not really too quiet. I mean, the TV was on. And for some reason the fridge always emitted a high-pitch squeal that could be heard throughout the rest of the house. (But everyone always ignored that sound because it probably meant the fridge was on its last legs and honestly, no one really wanted to deal with it).

On the couch sat two nervous creatures. One wide-eyed and tense because she knew what was coming. The other wide-eyed and tense because he didn’t know what was coming but since she was acting weird, he felt there was no time like the present to also act weird. So while she absent-mindedly picked at her nail polish and cast furtive glances in his direction, he awkwardly climbed on her lap, not really sitting and not really standing, but nonetheless blocking the TV from her view anyway.

They sat this way as agonizing minutes ticked by.

Tick.

Tick.

High pitch squeal from fridge.

Tick.

And then, just when she thought they might have lucked out this year, thought that maybe by some miracle the porch light burned out, it happened. The very thing she had been dreading.

“Ding-dong!”

And that’s when all hell broke loose. Before she could stop him, he launched his (freakishly strong, by the way) 32-pound body like a rocket off her lap, hitting the floor mid-stride and doing a Scooby-Doo scramble around the corner of the coffee table until he reached the door at the top of the stairs of their second-story apartment, barking and howling the entire time like the neighborhood feral cats had finally gotten organized and were attacking the house en masse.

She, meanwhile, started calmly yelling at him to “shut up!” and “knock it the hell off!” while simultaneously trying to pull him back from the door by his collar so she could squeeze her frame through without letting him through (which, since she didn’t weigh 32 pounds, was no mean feat). This was followed by trying to close said door as he repeatedly launched his entire (freakishly strong) body at any and all openings. After finally getting the door shut and ignoring the desperate sounds of him howling and trying to dig his way under the closed door, she made her way as quick as she could down the stairs to the front door, which she threw open to some very startled trick-or-treaters and tried to breathlessly yell “Happy Halloween!” over the clamor of what probably sounded to a small child like a dog getting murdered.

Luckily, the little kids who didn’t burst into tears at the sight and sound of a crazed dog and even more crazed and out-of-breath woman, got their candy (name brand, of course, because said woman felt bad for putting them through all that trauma just for a bite-sized knock-off Twix) and went on their merry way, no more worse for the wear.

And then she slowly went back up the stairs, back to him, he who had finally stopped barking and was enthusiastically wagging his tail like “gee, wasn’t THAT fun!?”. They sat back down on the couch together, he once again not quite sitting, not quite standing on her lap, she once again not able to see the TV.

And they both breathed a sigh of relief.

Which was quickly followed by another “Ding-dong!”

Repeat 27 more times.

The moral of this story, kids? Appreciate your Halloween candy. Treasure it. And try to remember through the fog of your sugar-induced mania the sacrifices some of us dog-owning adults had to go through to ensure that the candy got into your little hands.

Thermodynamics, according to babies

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The most magical place on earth

There are really only two things you can count on in this world.

  1. There will always be a line at Starbucks.
  2. Everything changes (except there always being a line at Starbucks).

Yes, change truly is the one constant in this world. Time marches on and on, dragging with it decay and dust and the dying careers of B-list actors.

But there is one place, one magical place, where time has stood still. A place that, just like the great white shark, has never had to evolve. Someday the pyramids will fall and nature will reclaim our concrete cities and the voodoo spell currently keeping Keith Richards alive will end. Yet, this magical place will still be standing, its murky fluorescent lights still flickering and buzzing, beckoning us in away from the cold, cruel hands of a relentless Father Time.

This magical place I’m talking about, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, is Kmart.

Oh yes. Kmart. That retail giant we all grew up with and that provided generations of children with the embarrassingly hideous clothes that were required on school picture day. Much to my surprise, and possibly yours, these magical places still exist today. And magical they are, kids. Because you can walk into any Kmart anywhere in the world and it is perpetually 1983 in there.

I know this because I’ve gotten on pretty intimate terms with the Kmart store that is within walking distance of my house ever since I had a baby. See, babies are a unique creature that are always requiring things. And not just any things. Things they need RIGHT NOW. Things like diapers and wipes and milk and a right shoe because they somehow lost their right shoe and only their right shoe but since none of their other shoes currently fit because they just had a growth spurt 15 minutes ago, they require a whole new pair.

So, like every other exhausted parent, I spend half my life in whatever the closest store is to buy my kid all the stupid crap they require on a constant basis.

Time moves at a different pace inside Kmart. You walk in from the blinding summer sunlight through those doors to pick up some infant Tylenol and processed cheese and when you walk back out, suddenly it’s dusk.

In the middle of winter.

Three years from now.

This is mainly because Kmart is built like a labyrinth where nothing is where it logically should be, but also because this never-ending maze is littered with all kinds of booby traps, like unsupervised feral toddlers and abandoned carts piled high with men’s khaki pants blocking pathways.

This time vortex pulls you even deeper in once you finally make it to the checkout. Because of the three lanes open (and there will always only be three lanes open, ALWAYS, unless there are only two lanes open), no matter which one you choose, you will end up behind the person who has to, for some unfathomable reason, purchase her giant pile of stuff using two separate transactions. (And don’t even THINK of switching lanes because if you do you will inevitably end up behind someone worse…like someone who needs a price check AND has coupons AND answers a phone call from her sister, who she’s fighting with, mid-transaction).

Now why this aforementioned person needs to purchase the shampoo and out-of-season Christmas sweater with cash and the candles, coloring books, dust buster and crock pot with a credit card is a mystery that not even Nancy Drew partnered up with the Hardy Boys can figure out. And yet, it happens.

Every.

Single.

Time.

But time is not the only magical thing about Kmart.

Take, for instance, how every single cashier that works in the store is magically only on their third day of the job and doesn’t know how anything works, like the cash register or basic capitalism. So, just to be safe, they scan your items with the speed of Han Solo trapped in carbonite.

Kmart is also full of people who have never shopped before. Or so you would reasonably assume, once you see how they react after being handed their receipt. These people proceed to stare at this piece of paper as though they have never seen such a thing before in their life.

“A list of the goods I just purchased 18 seconds ago? What witchery is this!? I had better stand here and inspect this devil paper in excruciating detail, the next person in line be damned! Now, this first item here, dear merchant, I see it says the puzzle of the ducks on the water was $5.99. That’s interesting, indeed. Oh yes, I knew it was $5.99. I just find it interesting. Now as for line two…”

But mock though I do, dear Kmart, the fact remains I need you, at least until my kid can wipe his own butt. And even I must admit that entering through your magical, time-warp doors is always an adventure.

I’d tell you to never change, but there’s no need.

A mom by any other name

My baby just said his first sentence.

But let’s completely ignore that for a minute. Yes, yes, I know. What a milestone! Ooh! Ah! What did he say!? Blah, blah, blah. We’ll get to all that sentimental crap.

But first, we need to discuss what didn’t come before this milestone. Because this is important. Because I’m important. Or at least I should be. I mean, not only did I give the kid LIFE by turning my lady parts into a luxury apartment but I also fed him using my own body and was the one to introduce him to ‘90’s hip hop. If it weren’t for me, that kid would still be jamming to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” like some kind of doofus.

And what thanks do I get?

In the 20 months my son has been on earth, he has only called me “Momma” three times.

THREE TIMES.

And I’m pretty sure one of those times he was actually trying to say “nom-nom” because he was hungry.

Now before you get all “well, some kids take longer than others to talk,” let me point out he already says “daddy.” And “alright.” And “hot.” And “balloon.” And “ball.” And something that sounds suspiciously like “crap.” Hell, the kid can clearly pronounce “blueberry.”

He even recognizes 11 letters of the alphabet already, including “M,” “O,” and “A,” meaning that he is technically even able to spell “Momma.”

And yet, nothing. Nada. Zilch. I don’t even get an adorable gibberish nickname. In fact, the closest thing I get to a personal moniker is a loud “AH!” whenever I dare to pay attention to something other than him, such as peeing without his direct supervision.

So when he said “that’s not cheese” at lunch a few days ago in regard to a poorly made mozzarella stick, my elation was also mixed with a tinge of bittersweetness.

(Although as first sentences go, “that’s not cheese” is pretty baller. You gotta love a tiny human who craps his pants but is still sophisticated enough to appreciate a fine Gouda).

I tried not to take it personally but I couldn’t help feeling like I had earned that title. I mean, I EARNED IT. Not just because I gave birth to him but because I’m the one willing to listen to Taylor Swift on repeat when he’s sick because for some reason the music of Tay-Tay, as he calls her, (oh yes, that red-lipped lollipop head got a name before I did) is the only thing that soothes him.

And he is the only person on this planet thus far that gets to call me “Mom.” So the fact that he refuses to is pretty much the equivalent of my husband introducing me as “his good buddy.”

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I had pretty much given up all hope and was just cautiously optimistic that maybe by the time he went to college, I’d be bumped up to “aunt who is always telling me I’m too skinny” status. But then, dear reader, I went to visit my family in Ohio. And it was like a light switch went on. He suddenly started calling me Momma left and right. (Well, technically Mom Mom but hell, I’ll take it. I would have accepted Moose Face or any other “M” sound at that point).

And that’s when I finally got it. I finally understood.

He never called me Momma because he never had to before. I’m always there. Every morning. Every night. And pretty much every moment in-between. There’s my big dumb face all up in his personal space. I’m the primary caretaker. And when I am away, Daddy takes over because we have no other family members close by. And since Daddy already has a name, when I return, it’s less “Mommy’s home!” and more “oh good, my meat suit is back.”

Our relationship is essentially that of Master Blaster from “Mad Max.” I’m pretty much just an extension of his body. He rides around on me demanding unreasonable things while I grunt monosyllabic responses and do it, no questions asked, because I’m too tired to ask why he wants to carry the Destin cream and a Tupperwear lid into every room of the house.

But once we got around my large family, where there are roughly 17 moms in any given room at any given time, it finally dawned on him that we are, in fact, two separate people and as such, I deserve a name of my own.

Or some crap like that. Who can follow the logic of toddlers? These are creatures who see rocks and think “yum, I’m going to try to eat this and then stuff it in my dirty diaper for safe keeping.”

The point is, I am Mom Mom. Finally. And there’s no one else I’d rather be.*

*Other than Batman, obviously.