Monthly Archives: January 2019

Jon Snow isn’t the only one who knows nothing

My oldest child is about to turn 5-years-old.

But don’t worry. This isn’t going to be “that” article. You know, the one where the parent is shocked, absolutely SHOCKED, to discover their child continues to age according to the rules of linear time.

I have to be honest. I’ve never experienced that phenomenon where I blinked and my baby suddenly wasn’t a baby anymore. The only thing that happens when I blink is my eyeballs get moistened so that I can more clearly see my children standing in front of me loudly demanding a hundred different things.

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So no, this birthday is not coming as a surprise to me. My son looks like he’s five. He talks like he’s five. And he acts ALL kinds of five.

“Momma, can I have a cookie for breakfast?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Cookies are unhealthy. Now eat this equally unhealthy Pop-Tart slathered in icing and hush.”

“But I want a cookie. Why can’t I have a cookie?”

(repeat for 45 minutes or until I start hurling Pop-Tarts like ninja stars at everyone in the family)

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This lack of surprise at the aging process could also be because I am the lucky (or cursed, depending on your view of children) parent who stays at home with my kids. So I get a front row seat to their growth on a daily basis. Both the giant leaps forward (the first day he left the house without his beloved security blanket, Woobie) and the tiny baby steps toward independence (the first day he buttered his own toast with approximately half a tub of butter). In fact, if anything, I am too present for my children considering that at any given moment I can give you detailed descriptions of both of their most recent bowel movements. (Oh, how them babies love showing me their poopies.)

Not that his upcoming birthday is completely free of angst, of course. As it just so happens, his birthday coincides with the fifth anniversary of my becoming a parent. Which leads us to the very puzzling question of: How is it possible I’ve been doing this for five years…and I still know nothing?

I mean, sure, both my kids are still alive. I have at least mastered the bare minimum parental requirements. But motherhood is continually throwing me curveballs and not only do I not know how to hit them, I can’t even find the friggin’ bat because it is likely buried under my kids’ ever-growing militia of stuffed animals.

My daughter’s hair is ALWAYS tangled. Half the time my house is out of soap and band-aids. My son is obsessed with zombies because I gave him a very vivid description one tired night when he asked me what they were. And there is never anything in the house they are willing to eat because they forgot to tell me they now hate all their favorite foods.

Even the positive moments have a caveat. Just the other day my son told me that when he grows up he wants to be strong like his Momma. Aww. Sweet, right? Except then he added “Yeah, and when I’m all grown up like you then I can drink Diet Coke and wine.”

Positive role modeling. Nailed it.  

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Shouldn’t I be better at this by now?

Take the whole purse thing. I know plenty of those moms who always have whatever you could possibly need inside their purse. And whenever I marvel at the fact that they had an extra set of gloves, cough drops, a healthy snack AND portable Merlot in there, they always respond, “well, I’m a mom.”

Yeah, well, I’m a mom too and yesterday we were outside and my son’s nose started dripping snot and he asked me for a tissue and I had absolutely nothing resembling a tissue on my person and so I shoved my sleeve in his face and said “use this.”

Plus, I NEVER remember to bring my flask to school functions. Like some kind of noob.

Sigh.  

Then again, I’m holding out hope that most of us parents are faking it. Right? Guys? None of us know what we are doing? Anyone? No? Hello?

Eh.

Regardless, on my son’s birthday, when we are busy celebrating his existence, I’m going to take a little moment to also celebrate that despite it all, my children seem happy. And that no matter how many times I mess up, they still somehow love me.

And that, God willing, I will have many, many, many more birthdays to celebrate with them even though I forgot to pick up the stupid cake from the bakery.

 

           

 

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Cover your mouths, you animals

It’s been a long, hard winter. A long, hard winter that is barely a third of the way over. And yet, if I’m doing my math correctly, my family has already been sick 1,376 times since November.

I’ve seen things, man. Things not even a mom should have to see. Every shade of vomit. Every consistency of mucus. Pure liquid evil coming out tiny terrified tushies. All of which I cleaned up while dealing with my own vomit, mucus and terrified tushie.

An experience like that changes a person. It hardens you. These illnesses have taken away my family’s health and sanity and our entire NyQuil budget for the whole year already.

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But no more. I’m not letting them take anything else.

Which is why I have a message for all the people out there who have passed their germs onto my family…

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I also don’t have are skills, particular or otherwise. Unless you count writing as a skill and even then, these skills I have acquired over a very long career are still mediocre at best. Still, I will find a way to make myself a nightmare for people like you. I will look for you. I will find you. And I will kill you.

Ok, Ok, I won’t kill you. That’s pretty illegal, I think. But I will tie you up and waterboard you with Purell until you’ve learned your lesson.

So you, yeah you, on the subway. The one hacking into his hands and then TOUCHING THE POLE. I’m coming for you. And I will hurl cough drops at your face until you learn how to do the vampire cough, you animal. You know, where you cough into the crook of your elbow so your germs don’t INVADE EVERYONE ELSE WITHIN A 20 FOOT RADIUS OF YOUR DISEASED FACE.  

And to all you parents and nannies and caretakers coming to library storytime with your leaky charges, I get it. I do. You need out of the house. You need to entertain the kid. You need basic human interaction. However, if your child puked that morning but now “feels, like, so much better!” that doesn’t mean they are, like, magically healed. They are still contagious. Go home before I dump buckets of bleach mixed with Emergen-C over both your heads.

Also, to literally everyone who works in my husband’s office…dammit, guys. Come on. I don’t know if there is an office pool or something for who can bring in the most devastating domestic illness but we are done participating. Don’t make me come there and spray you all down with a Nerf gun I filled with Lysol.

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Oh, and Sophia P.? I know the cold that I just got over was from when you coughed in my mouth at preschool. Which is particularly egregious since we are not even related. You seemed so innocent. Your tiny hand tapping my arm, to gain my attention, only for me to bend down and then have you immediately cough directly into my face hole. I never saw it coming. A weapon of individual destruction. But still, I’mma give you a free pass, sweetheart. Even I draw the line at harming 4-year-olds. (But like, just barely. The line is drawn in a pale shade of pastel chalk. So watch yourself.)

There’s still a lot of winter left. Technically two more months, calendar-wise. Reality-wise, however, we have two more months followed by a month of just pure sleet, and then a surprise snowstorm and then a week of beautiful weather and then three more weeks of sleet before BOOM, it’s 90 degrees.

So, let’s all work together to try and keep ourselves and, by extension, everyone else, as healthy as we can for the remainder of the season.

Besides, I think all my other solutions might be in a murky gray area of legality and jail will just mean a whole new slew of germs I have to battle.

 

Maybe technology is cyclical

There are a lot of theories out there about the best way to raise children. These mostly come from people without kids, but a shocking amount of parents manage to form strong opinions about this subject too. Which they must do in-between chugging Merlot and crying in the shower, I imagine.

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I’ll admit I used to be one of those parents. With lofty ideals about proper nutrition and preschool STEM activities and basic human hygiene.

Pffft.

But that was before. Before the machine. Before…THE GAME.

Now none of it matters. Nothing matters. Nothing except…THE GAME.

Well, I mean, and my children and my husband and our collective health and world peace and our extended families and our beloved dog and protecting the environment and Jeff Goldblum because he’s a national treasure and all our friends.

But NOTHING ELSE.

It started innocently enough, like most of these scenarios that end up spiraling into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I bought my husband one of those Nintendo Classic consoles for Christmas. You know, the ones with all the games from our childhood? PacMan. Donkey Kong. Super Mario Bros., ONE, TWO AND THREE.

And it quickly became clear once we turned it on that my family is unlikely to do anything for the next 15 years other than play Nintendo.

Like moths to a super pixelated light, my husband and I pressed our noses to the screen, that oh-so-unforgettable music filling our ears. The music of the angels, if angels sported mullets and Jordache jeans and oversized, unflattering eyeglasses.

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It was all so familiar, and yet somehow new, considering it had been close to three decades since either one of us had felt those comforting buttons beneath our fingers. Almost immediately we fell into that old trance, eyes glazed and fingers moving like lightning, murdering everything in our path with glee.

Our children, curious as to why we were refusing to feed them or take them for walks or generally acknowledging their existence in any form, eventually wandered over and were also immediately dragged under the spell of the Nintendo. All too soon, requests of “can I play next?” started pouring forth from their lips, eventually escalating into shouts of “IT’S MY TURN NOW!” Which, as their parents, we very maturely responded back “NO, IT’S STILL MY TURN!”

We haven’t cleaned in weeks. Empty pizza boxes are stacked like fortresses around our living room, with discarded juice boxes and wine bottles acting as moats around them. All of our hair has started to resemble the characters on those TV shows about Vikings.

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Sometimes, in those brief moments where I blink and remember there is a life outside of rescuing the princess, I wonder if I should be worried about what kind of damage this is doing to us. Especially the kids. Everyone is always yelling about the importance of limiting screen time and how video games are bad for developing brains and that Cheetos apparently don’t contain all the nutrients a body needs.  

But then, happily, it’s my turn again and those silly thoughts shoot right out of my head with the speed of a jumped-upon turtle shell in Super Mario Bros.

Besides, I choose to think of this whole thing as more like how families of yore used to sit around the fireplace, reading classic literature out loud to each other and bonding or whatever. Only instead of a fire we have a magic box that makes little Italian men run and jump and squish evil mushrooms sporting heavy eyebrows. And is there truly any more of a bonding experience than witnessing your 2-year-old finally learning how to run AND jump at the same time as opposed to just walking into a wall for eight minutes straight? I mean…

There is only one thing truly missing from my life right now. So if someone could just leave Doritos and Jolt Cola on my front porch, I’d really appreciate it.  

 

No one told me there’d be a quiz

I had big plans this winter, guys. BIG PLANS. I was finally going to give in and jump on the hygge bandwagon. That Norwegian…or is it Danish?…Swedish? practice of making everything super cozy and charming. And you know what, it doesn’t even matter the origin because I planned on practicing a super-Americanized version of it where I spend the next three months in stained thermal leggings under three dog-fur covered blankets, dutifully ignoring my children and ordering calzones from Grubhub whilst binge-watching “Elementary” on Hulu.

Oh, and, of course, a lit candle. Because the candle is the fine line that makes the whole thing cozy and charming and not a symptom of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  

But then…sigh. Then two words ruined everything.

Kindergarten. Registration.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to register a child for school. Or what is required for school registration where you live. But I barely survived getting my oldest into preschool last year because, where I live, registration requires 132 copies of random documents that you haven’t the foggiest of how to get your hands on. Oh, you mean don’t have a notarized copy of your rent agreement signed by your son’s pediatrician and your electric company? Well, ma’am, we really need those before he can attend. And also receipts from every time you bought diapers for your child. In triplicate.

Then there were the 27 forms just for emergency contacts. Everyone I know is now my son’s emergency contact. Even you. Yeah, you, reading this right now. You are an emergency contact.

And that was just preschool. The JV squad. It doesn’t even count. Kindergarten is the big leagues.

That’s the thing no one warns you about when you’re thinking about having kids. You will spend approximately 40 percent of your post-children life filling out forms. All the forms. There are so many forms. You cannot escape the forms.

Because it’s not just these endless school forms. Take my daughter’s first visit to the dentist. We walk in. We exchange smiles and chit-chat. And then they hand me a blank novella attached to a large clipboard with the friendly instruction to “fill it out.” Forty minutes and one cramped hand later, I realized I didn’t know anyone this well. Not even myself. Not to mention, the girl only had two teeth inside her head. She hadn’t even been alive long enough to warrant that many questions about her life.

My favorite is when they ask me for my kids’ social security number. Like, are you joking? Look buddy, no one knows their SSN until they go to college. It’s pretty much the only thing you do learn in college. And as for the actual physical copies, hahahahahaha…they’re probably in the back pocket of the maternity pants I was wearing when I gave birth. Which I burned in a ceremonial fire after deciding that two kids is enough and I’ll have more over my dead body.

Perhaps worst of all, though, is the oral form of the form. You know, when those well-meaning medical professionals verbally throw difficult questions right at your face, like “what is their date of birth?” I don’t know, man. You asked me too quick. I knew it thirty seconds ago. It was one of the cold months. Obama was still president. I mean, do you know how many things have happened between their birth and this present moment? You’re lucky I remembered to bring them with me.

No one ever wants to know the important information about my kids. Like that my son will refuse to eat reheated mac and cheese. And trust me, he KNOWS. You cannot hide the fact you reheated it. He is the Sherlock Holmes of boxed pasta. Or that my daughter will eat hamburger but only if you call it sausage, and that when she starts acting drunk you have exactly ten minutes to get her to sleep before a tantrum erupts from her body, volcano-style.

Sigh. And that, in a not-so-tiny nutshell, is why my winter is ruined. I will now be spending these forthcoming long dark nights gathering ridiculous amounts of paperwork and signing up unsuspecting friends and family as emergency contacts in order to register my child for kindergarten.

But at least I’ll still have my lit candle. Which should make my ensuing mental breakdown much more charming and cozy.