Category Archives: funny

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.  

 

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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.

The Road Trip, Part Two: Even Trippier

 

Previously, on the “Chick Writes Stuff” blog…

Parent 1: “Hey, let’s take a road trip in our tiny car with two small children and an aging dog!”

Parent 2: “Brilliant!”

Thirty seconds after leaving the driveway…

Parent 1: “This is awful.”

Parent 2: “This is the worst idea we’ve ever had.”

One hour later…

Parent 1: “JUST THROW MORE DORITOS AT THEM!”

Parent 2: “IT’S NOT WORKING! THEY’RE DODGING THEM! OH GOD, WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!”

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(Read Part One here)

One week later…

Hello, everyone. How are you? Good. Good. Glad to hear it. …Oh, me? I’m…fine. Everything’s fine. Just sitting here calmly at my computer, typing industriously away. Because everything is fine…now.

Plus the doctors say the constant twitching of my left eye should taper off any day now so there’s that.

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Of course, in hindsight, it wasn’t like our trip was ALL bad. There was a swimming pool at our hotel. That was fun. And I was smart enough to bring wine with us. That was REALLY fun. Yup. Really, really fun all the way until…bedtime.

Have you ever been unfortunate enough to sleep in the same bed as your child? What am I saying? Of course you have. You’re a parent. Which means that you already know that when children are small (and sometimes even the not-so-small ones), there is nothing they love more than sleeping with one foot up a parent’s nose and the other shoved in-between some parental ribs. They are also big fans of the game Musical Bed Positions. Because if they don’t move every three minutes while sleeping they die. At least that’s what I’m assuming based on the evidence.

And then there is the 2 a.m. stage whisper of “Momma! Is it morning yet?” Which wakes up their sibling, who also stage whispers “It’s morning! Can we get up? I need juice! And a cookie!” Which makes the other one go “I WANT A COOKIE TOO!” Which results in a dual meltdown after they are both informed by a gruff parent voice that NO ONE is getting a cookie and everyone needs to go back to sleep.

But it’s all worth it when you are forced awake again at 5 a.m. by your child’s creepy ghost face breathing heavily a mere half-inch from your face and then have to immediately deal with the fact they don’t understand live TV.

“Momma! Turn on the TV!”

(sleepily) mm-kay.”

“What is this?”

“A commercial.”

“Can you fast forward it?”

“No.”

“Can we watch a different episode?”

“No.”

“Can we watch a different show?”

“Only if you want to flip through 40 channels three times to find something else with no guarantee of finding something better.”

“Well, this isn’t fun.”

“You never would have survived the ‘80’s, kid.”

I really shouldn’t complain, though. The end result of all this was that we got to spend a wonderful week with my family in Ohio. Doing exotic things like napping while someone else kept our kids alive and eating homemade food someone else made and thoroughly enjoying those little moments where someone else yelled at our kids.

It was like a Norman Rockwell painting. But with more screaming and hitting.

Except I am going to complain. Because when it was all over…we had to come back.

I was determined though, DETERMINED, to make the best of it this time. Even with the awful snowstorm we drove through for three hours. And the windshield wipers that started malfunctioning. And the unsalted road before us that became a super fun slippery asphalt coil of death!

Hahahahaha! Road trips, man! Such a great American tradition! Right!? RIGHT!? They’re just the best! Hahahahaha!

The good news is that after what seemed like two hours past eternity, we finally arrived to our beloved home, with all our hearts and bladders full to bursting.

Only to find out that we did not currently have a toilet in said beloved home because the bathroom remodel the landlord scheduled while we were gone wasn’t finished yet.

But that, my dear friends, is a story I’m saving for my lawyer when I inevitably snap and start running naked through the streets laughing maniacally.

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Ways to unsuccessfully deal with insomnia

 

  1. Watch something. But not something too interesting. But also not so boring that it allows your mind to wander. Maybe something you’ve already seen but enjoyed. Preferably where at least one character has a British accent and is trying to solve a crime.
  2. Read something. Same rules apply.
  3. Eat something. Because, hey, it’s there and what else have you got to do?
  4. Count something. Sheep seem to be pretty popular, followed by minutes (“if I fall asleep now, I can still get 3.5 hours of sleep before the alarm goes off”).
  5. Argue something. In your head. Obsessively. Finally find a way to win that Facebook argument from 2015.
  6. Take something. Tylenol PM, perhaps? Or that melatonin that has never ever worked but yet you still keep a giant bottle of it by your bed? Does children’s benadryl work on adults?
  7. Rearrange something. Because you’ll definitely be able to sleep once all your bookshelves are ripped apart and then put back together in a slightly different organizational pattern.
  8. Worry about something. Like every single bad thing that could happen to your children.
  9. Eat something again. It’s now 3:30 a.m. Screw it.
  10. While you’re at it, watch something else. Maybe a 90’s sitcom will do it.
  11. Pray for something. Perhaps divine intervention from the deity of your choosing. Or an anvil to fall from the sky and onto your head, finally knocking you out. Or modern science to prove that sleep is unnecessary for survival.
  12. Scroll something. Sure, they say to avoid technology when you can’t sleep but you aren’t going to sleep anyway so may as well stalk that girl from seventh grade who used to bully you.
  13. Wake something. Like your husband. Who is peacefully sleeping right beside you in the most obnoxious manner possible. Misery does love company…
  14. How is he still sleeping? If you poke him any harder he’ll likely have internal bleeding.  
  15. Sigh.
  16. Clean something.
  17. Eh, never mind.
  18. Daydream something. Maybe cue up that one about marrying Chris Pratt (after your husband dies and you mourn the appropriate amount of time, of course).
  19. Plan something. May as well use all this time productively. Just a quick 36-point plan to improve every aspect of your life.
  20. Is there any cheese left?
  21. Research something. Like how insomnia causes premature aging. Then get up and slather more moisturizer on your decrepit face.
  22. Drink something? Warm milk? Ugh. Gross. No. Then maybe just a small glass of whiskey? Nah. It’s practically morning.
  23. Write something. Like, say, a list of all the futile ways you can try to combat insomnia.

I know how this ends.

Despite the fact that I’ve pretty much made a career out of complaining, I must confess that lately things have been going well. My preschooler is slowly realizing that preschool won’t kill him. My 2-year-old has yet to burn down the house or train the dog to do her nefarious bidding. My husband and I are going strong, united in love and mutual exhaustion.

Financially we started from the bottom and now we’re here, the stage where we can afford name brand mustard again. My self-esteem is at an all-time medium. And I’m even able to carve out time for my hobbies, like running and pretending to write while really just daydreaming about the speech I’ll make when I win a Pulitzer.

Yup, despite the natural stress that comes from working and trying to raise a family, life is pretty damn good currently.

Which is why, naturally, I keep waiting for something bad to happen.

Look, I know how this plays out. I’ve seen how this movie goes, how this TV episode is scripted. If an unhealthy amount of binge-watching TV has taught me anything, it is that happiness is suspect. Your life will ruined if you are too content. So, when I step outside myself and look down at my happy little family, doing our happy little thing, I can’t help but wait for the ominous music to start.

Observe, if you will, this montage of tender moments: The mom singing the baby to sleep. The older son giggling as he’s tossed into the air. A goofy dance party in pajamas. The parents throwing up a cheers with glasses of wine after the children have finally gone to bed.

You know who else sees this montage? The serial killer watching us menacingly from the window. And as I go into the kitchen to get more wine, HE SLASHES MY THROAT.

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Crazy, you say? Far-fetched? Eh, you’re probably right. It’s actually much more likely that I’m hanging out at the playground with my mom friends and suddenly there is a natural disaster. POSSIBLY FILLED WITH SHARKS.

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And then, on the slim chance that my kids and I are the main stars and thus the only ones to make it out alive from the shark tsunami, one of them is likely to get kidnapped on our walk home when I bend down to tie what is left of my shoe. And I know exactly who did it too. It was the quiet neighbor who lost her baby years ago and was driven mad by the loss and now wants TO RAISE MY CHILD AS HERS.

Or, you know, it could be a vampire.   

Although, to fair, it’s equally likely that I’ll be the one attacked by the vampire, seeing as how they can’t resist a lone female jogger.

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Sometimes I even look over at my husband suspiciously. He’s so loving. So patient. So forgiving of all my faults. Because, and here comes the shocking ending, HE WAS THE SERIAL KILLER LOOKING AT US FROM THE WINDOW ALL ALONG. Any day now I know I’m going to stumble upon his collection of severed heads in some long neglected corner of our house.

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(Although I’m pretty sure if he IS a serial killer, he is one of those serial killers who only kills other serial killers. So, like, we can probably still make this work).

(Unless he does slash my throat in the kitchen because it turns out I have a split personality and UNKNOWN TO ME, MY OTHER PERSONALITY IS A SERIAL KILLER.)

Ridiculous? Sure. I know it is. But I can’t help feeling I am somehow undeserving of all this happiness. Life doesn’t work this way. I am dangerously close to having it all. Who gets everything they ever wanted?

Murder victims on crime dramas, that’s who. They’re all perfectly happy until, you know, they’re dead.

Which is why I find myself looking lovingly down at my wedding ring and then I immediately look up, panicked, waiting for the inevitable phone call telling me my entire family has died in a suspicious car crash.

I guess I’ll just have to take solace in the fact that the tragedy is likely to turn me into a heroic vigilante, hellbent on avenging their deaths.

Or, you know, maybe I could turn the TV off every once in awhile and just enjoy my life.

 

I survived the first week of school (and all I got was this lousy blog)

I was ready for the tears. I knew they’d come. From him. And me. Oof, so many tears. So much ugly cry. An absurd amount of snot leaking from our faces.

I was ready for the fear and the anxiety. Again, on both our parts. This is a huge change. Since the day he was born we’ve been by each other’s sides and now…well, now the real world was wrenching us apart.

And I was ready for the guilt. The guilt of abandoning my precious first-born to the unfeeling ABC factory that is pre-K. I had already been torturing myself with this guilt for weeks beforehand. He’s so little! His backpack is bigger than he is! He’s not ready! This is going to scar him for life! No one loves him like I do! Who the hell are these teachers!? They could be serial killers for all I know! Or worse, people who legitimately like kale!

What I wasn’t ready for, however, was that we had to do it all over again the next day. And then again. And then again.

School is exhausting. For the parents.

No one really warns you about this. And maybe it’s not this way for every kid. But my kid is the kind of kid who doesn’t like things. Things like other people. Other kids. Anything that is even slightly new. He made up his mind at 8-months-old what he liked and he’s pretty much stuck with that list since then.

And it’s a very short list.

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So, before 8 a.m. alone, I have to be a cheerleader and a prison warden and a life coach all rolled into one.

“But school is so much fun, honey! All those cool new things you’re learning! You’re doing so amazing!”

“If you don’t march into this bathroom and brush your teeth in the next 30 seconds, I’m putting you in solitary.”

“Fear is just the body embracing change, sweetie. Or something. Look, your feelings are valid. OK? Never doubt that. But also, we’re late so can you feel them while also putting on your shoes?”

If I had to do a brief breakdown of our week, it’d look something like this:

Day One:

“Momma, I love you so much! Please don’t leave me!”

“Oh baby! I’m so sorry! I have to! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!”

*go home and sob in the fetal position while clutching his baby pictures*

Day Two:

“Please don’t leave me again! I love you!”

“Oh baby, I know you’re scared but you can do this. I’ll be back before you know it.”

*go home and Google home schooling options while sniffling*

Day Three:

“MOMMA! Stop leaving me! Please stay! PLEASE!”

“Yeah, I can’t. You’ll be fine though. Love you.”

*use crowbar to gently but firmly detach him from my leg*

Day Four:

“Mommy! I don’t want to keep doing this! Let me stay with you!”

“Nope. OK, bye.”

*already scrolling Yelp for nearby breakfast places*

Because as draining as starting the whole school routine can be, physically, mentally and emotionally, at a certain point you just have to get over it. This is the new normal for us. Life has to go on. We have 174 more days of this. Followed by 13 more years of this. And then probably college once we sell off some pretty major body parts in order to afford it.

Oh no. I started crying again.

Anyone know if liquor stores have back-to-school specials?

 

Apparently the Tooth Fairy got a tax break too

Considering my oldest child is only four, I admit I’m still fairly new to the parenting game. However, I’m not so new that I don’t already have unnecessarily strong opinions on how the rest of you are doing this wrong. (Oh, shut up, you know we all do. The second that baby came out of my body I was immediately critical of how the doctor was holding him.)

Now, let me clarify, I don’t care how you raise your children. I don’t care what you feed them. I don’t care what they watch or their “screen time” limits or if they do chores or how you discipline them. I don’t care what you name them or if they’re on a leash or free range or home schooled or fancy private schooled or even if they are buttheads (because, hey, my kids also have butthead tendencies).

I don’t care about any of that. You are the expert when it comes to your own kids.

But there are certain things that affect all of us parents. Certain things that we are all in together. And some of youse guys are completely ruining it for the rest of us.

Take the tooth fairy, for example. When I was a kid, the going rate was a quarter per tooth. So, you can imagine my surprise when I was scrolling through Facebook and discovered that some kid got an electric train set from the tooth fairy.

AN ELECTRIC TRAIN SET. For sitting there and letting a body part fall out of his head. And not even a useful body part that can be studied for science or something. Just a gross useless one covered with the ghost dust of a thousand dead Goldfish crackers.

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Even worse, I found out the current monetary rate for a baby tooth is now apparently $20.

Twenty American dollars.

Do you know how many teeth there are in those little heads? Well, me neither, but it’s a lot. Who are you people? Don’t you have bills? Student loans? Is Grandma footing this expenditure?

I mean, I could understand if this was like a limb fairy or something. I can see giving them $20 for an arm that falls off. They only have two of those.

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“Oh, but it’s my choice what I give my kid from the tooth fairy,” I hear you other parents haughtily declare as you spread diamond jelly on your artisan bread in front of your shrine to Gwyneth Paltrow in your newly renovated kitchen.

But it’s NOT your choice. Not this. Because do you know what happens when your adorable Sharpay gets an electric train set from the tooth fairy? She tells all the other kids and then they come home to us demanding to know why they only got a dollar. And let me tell you, answering “because the tooth fairy hates you” is NOT the correct response no matter how annoyed you are by their whining. In fact, there is no good response to that.

It’s the same thing with Christmas. You want to get little Luxx an iPhone for Christmas? Great. Fantastic. I don’t care. But don’t say it’s from Santa. Because not all “Santas” can afford iPhones and/or think a 6-year-old should have one. Take credit where credit is due and make the jolly fat man give them a ball or some stupid crap.

And then there’s Easter. Can someone please tell me at what point Easter became “Christmas: The Sequel”? For the past five years, I made a drinking game out of scrolling on social media and taking a shot every time someone posted a photo of the loot their kids scored from the Easter Bunny. We’re talking tricked-out bikes. Barbie Jeeps. Tickets for Disney World. And, again, iPhones because Apple must give massive discounts to mythological creatures.

Needless to say, I’m usually drunk within 12 minutes.

Just give them a basket of sugar and some gross eggs and call it a day, other parents. Come on.

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And yes, I do understand that we all have to somewhat keep up with inflation. I don’t even think they make buffalo nickles anymore or where you would find a ha’penny. But they’re kids. They have very little concept of modern economics. We can underpay them. They have no idea. And they are very unlikely to form a union considering most of them haven’t even fully mastered the spoon yet.

So let’s keep it simple. Kids shouldn’t be able to afford a semi-fancy bottle of wine because they lost a tooth. They should be able to buy gum. And not the good gum either. That crap that taste like fruit-flavored chalk.

Because childhood is already inherently magical. And because children actually like that disgusting cheap gum. And because it’s hard enough to parent without raising kids who expect high-end luxury goods for simply being kids.