Category Archives: Writing

Bye Aprill Brandon

I didn’t realize it at first. It dawned slowly as I stared unblinking at it. Three little words but they were all mine. They were all I had ever wanted. My name. An actual byline. In print. 

That was 20 years ago. Since then I’ve seen it in newsprint, glossy magazine pages, slick media websites and my own shoddily constructed blog site, Chick Writes Stuff. All these years later, I still feel a bit of a thrill when I see it. 

But this is my last one. I’m ending my humor column. 

No one is more surprised than I am. I planned to write my last column on my deathbed. Laughing defiantly until the end.

But as the old saying goes, humor is tragedy plus time. And there is no time anymore. It’s all just one tragedy piled on top of another piled on top of another. There doesn’t even seem time to take a breath let alone process the broken world that won’t stop fracturing. 

Which is funny because that’s how all this got started. As a preteen I was overwhelmed by everything. Every day felt like the world was ending. I’d lay awake at night, trying to think of all the awful things that could happen because I believed if I thought of it first it couldn’t happen in real life. Because I was an 11-year-old girl and the only power I had was superstition. 

And then, like a deus ex machina by way of Florida, I discovered Dave Barry. I devoured every column of his I could get my eyes on. It was remarkable. Possibly even witchcraft. He taught me that if you could make fun of something, if you could laugh at it, it lost some of its power. 

This was doubly true when you could find a way to laugh at yourself. Laughter seemed to quiet the inner demons. 

I wanted to wield that magic like he did and make the world a slightly less awful place. To be a tiny flicker of levity, no matter how inconsequential, in the crushing darkness. 

But I can no longer write my way out of this darkness. I’ve tried. I’ve sat down before my computer every day for months. Whatever does manage to come out is forced. I am too angry. Bitter. Sad. I didn’t realize how much faith in humanity I had until I lost most of it. 

And without hope I can’t find the humor anymore. 

I wish I had a better exit than this. I mean, 20 years. Half of my life. This dream job of mine deserves a proper eulogy. 

But honestly I just want to get this last one over with. It hurts too much to linger. 

And so, let me end this ending by saying it has been my immense privilege writing for you, whoever you are out there reading this. I was never hugely popular, only ever with a small following (and even then that is stretching that concept to its limit) as I moved across this country over the years. But I loved it, all of it, none more so than when someone told me I made them laugh. I cannot thank you enough for reading so I won’t even try. 

And to my editors, I still can’t quite believe I found actual live human beings to publish my words. Thank you all for letting me live out my fantasy. Especially to Editor Bob, my Bobbert, Bob Robinson, the man who gave me my very first column when I was 20. And especially to my editors over the years at the Victoria Advocate, who will be publishing my last as I am on the cusp of 40. You took a chance on me. You believed in me. Every writer deserves editors like you. Every person deserves people like you in their corner. 

I hope one day to write again. To laugh again. To type something immeasurably witty about the Grim Reaper right before he takes me. 

But for now I just…

…don’t know how to end that sentence anymore. 

Welcome to my dog’s Irish wake

Attention! Attention, everyone! *tings whiskey glass*

First, let me just say thank you all for coming. As I’m sure you know, we’re here to celebrate the life of my beloved and dearly departed Buffy. To toast to his memory and give him a proper sendoff. 

Now, there are many myths and legends surrounding that ridiculous old mutt. All of them true, I can assure you. His was a very Dickensian beginning. A small orphaned puppy found shivering in a snowy field. Abandoned. Dirty. Hungry. The only thing missing was a tiny tattered newsboy cap. How could we say no? Even if he did smell like dumpster fire. 

Right away we knew we were in trouble. That first night, we made a makeshift kennel for him. He immediately escaped. We added reinforcements. He immediately escaped. We added more. This time it took him five whole minutes to escape. After that he slept in our bed. 

And every single night thereafter. 

That outsized personality only grew bigger as he grew older. I mean, I live in a house swarming with screaming redheaded children and yet, without him, it seems empty now. Everywhere I look has a Buffy-sized hole in it. And there are crumbs now. I haven’t seen crumbs in 15 years…

Oof. Sorry. Got a bit misty-eyed there. Where was I? Ah, yes, clearly Ryan and I were far from model dog owners but Buffy, to his credit, did do his best to train us. In fact, it only took him about three months to teach us to never let the bottom of the food bowl show and that if he was straining on the leash we needed to speed up, not the other way around. 

That was the thing about Buffy. He was smart. Much, much smarter than us. And stubborn. So stubborn. When I dared to buy him a fluffy new dog bed this winter, he would stare defiantly at me as he walked toward it and then plopped painfully down beside it on the cold, hardwood floor. That dog was so stubborn that when he showed the first signs of decline on Christmas Eve, my husband cuddled with him on the floor and asked him to try to hold on through the holidays. For the family. 

He made it until January 14th.

Oh wow. Sorry. No tears. No tears today. Today we celebrate his life. Speaking of which, I’d like to give a shout out to my mom here, who taught me that you love a dog for his entire life. Beginning to end. From soup to nuts, if you will. Which is funny because Buffy lost his pretty early on. I finally apologized to him for that, by the way. The last time I saw him. He was laying on a blanket at the animal hospital, my own body wrapped around him, his eyes in so much pain I’m not even sure he recognized me. 

It all happened so fast. 

He probably would have made beautiful puppies. 

Ah. Again. With the crying. Sorry. This is all just so…Hey! Did I ever tell you guys how Buffy ended up with his name? It’s a great story. Ryan and I were just getting to know each other and joking about how any future dog we get should be named after the show that helped bring us together. It was only a few weeks later that he held up a smelly, wet, filthy ball of fur with giant brown eyes and said “can we keep him?” And I replied “only under one condition.”

You know, no one ever really deserves a dog. And yet, they still walk beside us every step of the way.

I never asked to be loved like that. I don’t even know how it was possible. He consistently saw me at my worst. My most flawed and human self. He saw that, day after day, for 15 years, and still loved me. 

And then he had the nerve to die. 

You can’t love someone unconditionally like that and then just leave them. How dare he! What do I do now? Just live without him by my side? I don’t know how to do that anymore. 

I mean, what kind of ridiculous creature let’s you cry into his fur when you’re sad and yell at him when he doesn’t deserve it because you’re mad about something else and forgives you every single time you walk out that door and he has no idea when you’ll be back, and through it all is never, ever not happy to see you? 

A stupid dog, that’s who. A creature so damned wonderful that I needed to write up a fictional wake for him after his death to help me process the devastating loss I just experienced…

Oof. Again, I apologize. Sobbing tends to make people uncomfortable. *chugs fictional whiskey* Besides, a wake, even a fictional one, is about celebration. And when it comes down to it, Buffy had a long and incredible life. One that deserves to be honored and remembered. 

He deserves better than this. But let it be known I tried. 

And so, everyone, if we could, let’s all raise a glass and take a drink to help send that gorgeous little puppy of mine on his way over the rainbow bridge. May you all be fortunate enough to find a best friend like him someday. 

To Buffy! 

Sláinte! 

20 Things To Be Thankful For in 2020

I’ve been reading a lot of pretty mom blogs lately. You know, those blogs written by moms with shiny hair and actual fruit bowls on their tables? (Filled with fruit they actually eat.) The moms who have probably never told their preschooler “oh, bite me” as a rebuttal during an argument. (She won, by the way.) The moms who actually earn money from their writing? (Dirty accusing glare to all the people not reading this.) 

And right now, all the pretty mom blogs are doing a “what I’m thankful for” post. All of which have some version of this sentence: “This year, perhaps more than any other year, it’s important to focus on what matters most in life and remember that we should be thankful for these things, not just on Thanksgiving day, but every day.” 

Pfft. LAME. 

However, they’re not wrong. This has been a rough year for all of us. So maybe it couldn’t hurt to focus on what really matters, even though it goes against the very most basic core of my entire personality. 

And thus, I present, the 20 things I’m thankful for in 2020.

  1. My health. Which is good. Despite my body being composed mostly of coffee and whiskey.
  2. My husband and our two wonderful children. They mean everything to me. It’s so nice to have everyone home all the time, working and learning remotely. And I mean, all the time. All the time. ALL. THE. TIME. And even though the little one threatened to kill me the other day (it was veiled but it was definitely a death threat) we couldn’t be closer. So close. All the close. 
  3. A roof over my head. And it doesn’t even leak. And below that roof are walls and floors. Filled with mice. City mice. Who will never leave because nothing scares them and they are much, much smarter than we are. Although I haven’t ruled out making them chip in for rent.
  4. My dog, Buffy. Who at 15 is alive and healthy(-ish) and still loves to go on walks. I know you’re expecting me to say something snarky here about him but honestly, what kind of monster makes fun of a beloved elderly dog that has been a constant companion and who has farts so rancid they make rotten eggs smell appetizing. 
  5. Nature. Majestic, beautiful nature. So majestic and beautiful that I don’t even mind the mountains of Claritin I have to snort like cocaine every morning in order to step outside.
  6. Technology. For all it has done, especially during this pandemic, but mostly because it has allowed me to lock myself in the attic and have happy hour over Zoom with my friends while my children wail and bang on the door. 
  7. Speaking of which, my friends, both near and far. All of whom don’t bat an eye when my humor goes to a dark, dark place. 
  8. The sound of my children’s laughter. 
  9. The sound of my children sleeping.
  10. The sound of my husband yelling at my children because they won’t listen to me.  
  11. Wine.
  12. Did I say coffee yet?
  13. Food. Because it’s good. I don’t know. I’m losing steam. Twenty is a big number. 
  14. Oh! Peace. That’s a thing that’s always on these lists, right?
  15. Deep fried stuffing balls. They are the best thing I’ve ever created in my life (my kids coming in at a really close second though). 
  16. Alton Brown’s Thanksgiving turkey recipe. 
  17. Alton Brown.
  18. Oceans. They’re super cool. 
  19. That 2020 is slowly marching toward its death. 
  20. All y’all. The ones who read these ridiculous things week after week. And on purpose, no less. Thank you, truly, from the bottom of the pit where my heart should be. 

Ode to the Mystery Bruise

Oh, Mystery Bruise

There you are, yet again

And there have you always been 

For at least as long as I can remember

Which, granted, isn’t that long

Ever since my memory was obliterated by the incessant demands

Of tiny, adorable humans 

They who sprung loudly from my loins

Ginger haired and exhausting

My mind now filled to capacity 

Each and every day

With tasks both mundane and material 

That are involved when raising juveniles not quite yet delinquent

Big. Purple. With a hint of bluish tint

Ringed by an unholy yellow 

You loudly announce your presence, oh, Mystery Bruise

With every disrobement 

With every bathroom trip

There was a time when my thigh was flawless

(Stubble notwithstanding)

Oh, twas a sight, ye youthful femur o’ mine

Alas, now the top of that ham 

Is the heart and hearth of your home

Oh, Mystery Bruise 

Whenceforth you came? Why do you stay?

I have heard tale of your existence in others

On the side of the hip

Or the shinny shin shin

Enfolding the feminine forces in this world

Who already fight all kinds of unseen battles 

Every day, and every sleepless night, and every in-between

Yet your mystery grows, Mystery Bruise

Your origin a puzzle wrapped in an enigma

Smothered in a conundrum and sprinkled with mild violence  

Did it happen when a toddler used my body as a trampoline?

Or when a preschooler made of all points

Used me as their amusement park?

Are you the result of that stupid end table

I keep running into?

Or perhaps from that time I bumped into the steps while running to stop the children from hitting each other

With actual weapons? 

Is it all the bile rising up to the surface from all the curse words I swallowed?

Or from all the screams I buried down deep

Each and every time they howled how they hated me

Because the grilled cheese had the wrong cheese?

(As if any cheese any time any place could ever be wrong)

Is it the homeless ink from every lost chapter I never wrote

Because as soon as they see the laptop they lay across me like pampered cats?

Or mayhap you are just a reminder that I am human, Mystery Bruise

And not just a mother

That I am not merely put on this Earth for their every whim and desire

The point is, oh, most mystifying of contusions

You’ve always been there for me

Rarely changing

Just staring up at me every time I shower 

A constant and only slightly concerning presence in a chaos-filled world 

A reminder of some permanence in an ever shifting reality

Or maybe you are simply a visible representation

Of the bruises concealed in my heart

Your mottled surface itself an ode to the mysteries of the soul

An ever-present monument of why we love and fight so hard  

No matter the reason, nor the cause

I want to thank you, oh Mystery Bruise

For always being there

Which I believe I already mentioned

But you’ll have to forgive me, for it has been a rough week

Of Remote Schooling

Of Life

Of 2020

And of simply being stretched too thin

Which is why I am hiding in the bathtub with my computer

A little (lot) drunk and singing your praises

Because you are here and yet need nothing from me

Oh, Mystery Bruise, your silence speaks volumes  

Readin’ & Writin’ & Ah Whoopsie Daisy

This past summer, my children became obsessed with a little book series called “Captain Underpants.” It’s a bunch of illustrated children’s novels that takes potty humor to the next level. Which meant I was giggling right alongside my children because I’m really just two 6-year-old’s standing on each other’s shoulders in a fashionable trench coat pretending to be an irresponsible adult.

Oh, how cute, I’d think to myself every time I’d see my 6-year-old with his nose buried inside one of the 100-plus page books. He’s pretending to read them. Like a Big People! He even went so far as to occasionally ask me what a word was. 

“What’s this word say, Momma?”

“Diarrhea, sweetie.”

So. Adorable. Until the day I realized he was ACTUALLY reading these books. We were getting ready for our nightly storytime and I turned to chapter four, where we had left off the evening before. 

“Oh no, Momma. We’re passed that,” he said as he grabbed the book and started flipping toward the back. “We’re here.”

Here being chapter 20. 

20! 

“No, love. We only read the first three chapters last night,” I patiently replied as the wise and worldly mother than I am. Kids are so enchantingly dumb, am I right?

Then my tiny human, who was a baby only yesterday, summarized chapters four through nineteen.   

“Wait, you can really read?” I asked in a voice so incredulous that even a recently graduated kindergartner could pick up on it. 

“Yeah. Duh.”

I was floored. Then elated. Reading has always been more than a hobby to me. It is life itself. It has shaped who I am and what I do. In my humble opinion, there is nothing better than sitting down, grabbing a book and spending hours hallucinating stories on the dead souls of trees. And to think that my son is now setting forth on this same incredible journ…

AND OMG OH CRAP DAMMIT CRAP. 

My son can read. And apparently pretty well already. He’s probably going to be reading big words any day now. Big words like “butthead.” As in that one column I wrote where I called him a butthead. Or that one when I was pregnant with him and I called him a swamp demon. (And that was the nicest thing I called him during pregnancy).

He’s going to read about how I always stole his chicken nuggets when he was a toddler and then gaslighted (gaslit?) him into believing he ate them all. And he’s now going to know I don’t know the correct past tense of gaslight. 

There was the column that explains how I violated child labor laws and the one that mocks him for not learning how to crawl sooner. He’s going to know just how lazy of a mother I really am. And how much I actually drink. AND THE SECRET LOCATION OF MY EMERGENCY CHOCOLATE.

And now his sister is now in preschool. Where they will also likely teach her how to read with absolutely no regard for how it affects me.

Oof. I can picture it now. When my children realize the full implications of having a humor columnist for a mother. 

Them: What made you think you could write about us?

Me: Thirty-six hours of labor? A jacked up bladder? The fact you gave me a mystery bruise on my thigh when you were a toddler and it still hasn’t gone away?

Them: Well, did you at least make a lot of money by exploiting your children?

Me: *super awkward pause*

Them: YOU’RE NOT EVEN RICH AND FAMOUS!?

Me: I am rich…in love. Wait! No, come back. Come on. Kids? KIDS?

Not to mention that now that they know, they’re probably going to catch onto my methods pretty quickly.

*during big family fight while having Thanksgiving dinner*

“Mom! Are you taking notes right now?”

*me, peeking from behind my laptop* 

“Nooooooo…”

*while having THE TALK with them*

“MOM! Are you live tweeting this!?”

*me, peeking from behind my cell phone* 

“Noooooo…”

*dad falls off ladder & needs an ambulance*

“Mom, call 911!”

“Already on it, honey! …now listen, Sharon, did you say your name was? I’m going to need a full transcript of this call. Just want to make sure I get all the details correct later. Right, so, first of all, the sound he made, like the yell Goofy does when he falls from distant heights. You know. A-Hoo-Hoo-Hoo. Freaking hysterical!”

“MOTHER!” 

In the end, I think I’ll just explain it to them this way: No matter how much you love your children, every parent occasionally thinks and says ridiculous things about their own offspring. But only a select few of us are dumb enough to write it all down and put it on the Internet. And unfortunately, your mother is just that dumb. And while what you post on the Internet theoretically lasts forever, thus potentially ruining your lives, what if– and just hear me out here, kids– I make it up to you with a selection from my emergency chocolate collection? 

An evening with Stephen King

When it comes to long-term relationships, it’s important to surprise each other every once in a while. If you’ve been together long enough, this can be done as easily as accidentally listening to your partner when they’re talking. Which is how I heard the following last night. 

“If you weren’t so scared of spiders, I’d take you down into the sewers by my mom’s house.” 

An actual sentence uttered by my husband of ten years. I haven’t listened to a damn thing the man’s said in at least three years (the “Hamilton” soundtrack just blaring in my mind every time he opens his mouth), and yet, somehow, this is the one thing that got through. Blame it on the pandemic and our isolation, but so help me, I heard it and I couldn’t unhear it, which meant I was about to get to know my husband better whether I wanted to or not.

“Say what now?” I replied, as the sound of a record scratch reverberated through my head.

“Yeah…have I never told you about when I used to hang out in the sewers?”

“You have not,” I responded, while looking around futilely for anyone else who could corroborate that this was happening. 

“Yeah, you know the drainage ditch across from my parents house? If you follow that down to Farmington Avenue, there are these two concrete tunnels, side by side. You know the kind I mean?”

“I do not. I did not play in the sewer as a child,” I said, unable to hide my smile. “But by all means, continue.”

“Well, one was big enough you could crawl through and after about hundred yards, you came to a room down there. It was a roughly seven square foot concrete room, with a bunch of drainage pipes. My buddies and I, we’d go down there with flashlights and hang out.”

You think you know someone. You think you know all their stories. Only to find out that their childhood was apparently written by Stephen King. 

“What is your life, dude?” I asked after a long pause. 

“Oh, that’s nothing. We once made a hideout out of an abandoned foundation for a house.”

HOO BOY. 

“Hang on,” I said. “I’m going to need another beer.”

I grabbed two. If Stephen King has taught me anything, it’s that stories that begin with children in sewers tend to be long.  

“It was about three feet down, with steps built in and a dirt floor. We made a roof out of broken down tree limbs so it was hidden from view. We’d steal cigarettes from the Circle K and go down there after school,” said the man I formerly knew as my mild-mannered husband. “We had a little radio we’d play. Our one buddy, he had a rough home life, he’d go there when he needed to get away. It was great for about three years and then some high school kids discovered it and kicked us out.”

“Please tell me at some point you guys poked a dead body with a stick.”

“No.”

“Did you pull a gun on the high school punks? Because they tried to steal your dead body?”

“No.”

He let out a long and well earned irritated sigh. 

“But we did build a treehouse one summer,” he added. 

“Of course you did.”

“Well, what was your childhood like?” he asked.

“Normal. Not some combination of ‘IT’ and ‘Stand By Me.’” 

“Like I already said, there was never a dead body. Seriously, what did you do in the summers?”

Oh, because apparently we were getting to know me now. I took another sip of my beer. 

“You know,” I said, “running around feral in the woods and cornfields. Minimal adult supervision.”

“So you were ‘Children of the Corn’?” 

I laughed hard. Which might also have been because I was now on my third beer. 

“I was also prom queen,” I snorted.

We both started laughing. We laughed so hard, in fact, that we woke up our young son. He shuffled out of his room in that terrifying way small children have late at night. 

“‘The Shining!’” we both shouted while pointing at him.

“What are you guys doing?” he asked, rubbing his eyes.

“Nothing,” said his father.

“Redrum,” said his immature mother.  

He very wisely turned around and went back to bed. 

And so, the point of all this is that, one, the world was a Stephen King novel long before 2020. And two, I think I’m going to start listening to my husband more. Especially while we are living through this diet version of “The Stand.” 

Turns out getting to know your family is worth it. They have lives worthy of books. 

 

Excuse me, is this thing on?

Q: What has a twitchy eye, a whiskey in each hand and a brain that is slowly melting?

A: A mother who is stuck in quarantine with little kids who just discovered jokes. 

Want to hear another one?

Q: What do you call a Memaw who sends her grandchildren a book called “200 Silly Jokes for Kids”?

A: Estranged. 

Perhaps you think I’m being too dramatic. Well, let me ask you this. Why are teddy bears never hungry? Because they’re always stuffed. 

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Prior to now, my children thought the entirety of humor was centered around physical comedy and its subgenre of curse word outbursts. Fall down after getting hit in the privates and scream something with four letters and my kids would worship you as a comedy god. But now they know jokes exist. They know jokes exist and they are the best thing on the planet and they must know all of them immediately. 

If you’re wondering if children’s jokes have changed since you were a child, I can assure you they have not. I happen to be an expert in this field. I just heard 200 of them. 

Why do fish live in salt water? Because pepper makes them sneeze.

What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho cheese. 

Why did the rabbit go to the barber? He needed a hare-cut. 

Then we got to the Knock Knock chapter. 

“Knock knock…”

*blank stares*

“Knock knock…now you say ‘who’s there?’” 

“Who’s there!?”

“Boo.”

*hysterical giggles*

“No, now you say ‘boo who’.”

“Boo who?”

“Why are you crying?”

“We’re not.”

I tried to tell another one only to have my daughter inform me very seriously that she already answered the door. 

Then we came to the inevitable part where they stopped asking me to read them jokes from the book and instead wanted to tell me their own jokes. They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. Imagine how painful it is to be there for hour one. Luckily their act came at dinnertime and included half a large pizza minimum. 

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“Hey, mom! Why did the rainbow not have blue?” my 6-year-old son excitedly asked. “Because it was too tired to make blue!”  

That was his best one. And I only consider it his best one because I’m hoping he was making a profound statement on depression that went over my head. 

At least my 3-year-old already has a distinct comedic style, which is impressive considering her age. 

“Why did the cat fart on the unicorn? Because she had to poop!”

“Why did the chicken go on the road? Because he’s a poopoo peepee head!”

“Why did the poopie poop on the diarrhea pee? Because farts!”

Perhaps I’m being too hard on them. Humor is my terrain afterall. I should be more understanding of how hard it is to master. Not to mention its appeal, especially in hard times. The reason I myself became a humor writer is because I was having panic attacks at age 12 and the only thing that could calm me down was reading Dave Barry’s column. I couldn’t breathe, the world was ending, but oh, look, boogers and an exploding whale carcass! It was how I learned that if you can laugh, the world becomes a little less scary. If you can poke fun at something, it loses some of its power. 

These kids haven’t seen a playground in months. They haven’t been able to hug friends or family. There’s no school, no vacations, no spontaneous “let’s get some ice cream!” Just a scary illness and a world that has forever changed before they even really got a chance to know it. 

So, I will laugh heartily to as many poop punchlines as they need. No matter how many whiskeys and large pizzas it takes on my end. Because if laughter is the best medicine, then we need all the jokes we can get right now. 

Which is why I asked my kids if they each wanted to give me a joke to end this particular column of mine.

“What do you mumble mumble giggle poop mumble? A chicken with a lamp on an egg!” –Mae, age 3

“What is a walkie-talkie with no one talking to you? There’s peanut butter in it!” –Riker, age 6

I wish you could see how hard they’re laughing right now. 

 

St. Momma’s Academy for Wayward Children

Greetings and salutations new students! I am pleased to welcome you as the inaugural class of St. Momma’s Academy For Wayward Children. I’m looking forward to a most maddening semester with all of your beautiful, perfect faces.  

Just a few details and tidbits to go over before I hand out the MAE, I SAID STOP LICKING YOUR BROTHER syllabus. Firstly, we have a unique schedule here at the academy. Classes start promptly at Whenever Momma Has The Energy and ends exactly at Momma Is About To Use The Big Curse Words. 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner will all be served whenever I get around to it and the menu will always be macaroni and cheese because I have given up already and so help me if you keep rolling your eyes at me, Riker, I will make you write a 1,000 word essay on how pretty I am. Now, at St. Momma’s Academy, you are allowed to go to the bathroom whenever you need, however, this does include the caveat that you cannot go at exactly the same time as Momma. 

Alright, well, once I pass out these syllabuses (syllabi?) I feel we have put in a good day’s work for today already and I’ll see you all tomorrow. Now take this packet and go away. Farther. No, farther. FARTHER. 

Music 

Introduction to the Quiet Game

This semester we will explore why silence is sometimes just as important as musical instruments. 

Art 

Stick Figure Technique and Design

I can only teach what I know, tiny scholars. 

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Science

ARE WE ALL GOING TO DIE!?: An Exploration of Modern Pandemics

This course will explain all the scary things you are hearing on the news and will mostly consist of reassurances that mommy and daddy and your grandparents and everyone you know and love will most likely not die any time soon. 

Math 

Fantastic Fractions

We’re just making a crap ton of cookies and I’ll let you guys hold the measuring cups and hope you learn fractions via osmosis. 

Physical Education

The FUNdamentals of Squirrel Chasing

First kid to catch one wins $20 and a cookie. GO! 

Reading

Accio Phonics!

We will be reading all the Harry Potter books together. No! Stop whining. I said, WE WILL BE READING ALL THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS TOGETHER. 

Home Economics

Advanced Beverage Science

The morning class will focus on how to operate the coffee maker while the afternoon class will learn basic cocktail recipes. Lab work will be evaluated daily. 

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Writing Economics

Exposure Don’t Pay The Bills

This intensive course will explore why Momma makes little to no money as a writer. Extra credit given to any student who offers hugs when the professor inevitably breaks down in tears of rage. 

History 

The ‘90’s Were A Hell Of A Time, Kids. 

We’re just going to look through Momma’s old photo albums while I drink whiskey and you guys drink apple juice in fancy glasses. 

Media Studies

History of 1980’s Cinema

This mandatory elective will be M-F afternoons until possibly bedtime. Homework assignments include multiple viewings of “The Goonies,” “The Princess Bride,” “Labyrinth,” “The Dark Crystal” and “Willow,” among others. Any complaining results in automatic failure.  

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Quarantine Letters from the Home Front

March 12, 2020

My Dearest Husband, 

It feels like yesterday I held you in my arms, only for us to be ripped apart by this cursed virus that is sweeping across the country. What I wouldn’t give to see your face again. Alas, I know you must do your duty, though it is a most difficult one, and figure out how to turn our diminutive bedroom into a viable home office. 

Though only a door separates us, it may as well be an ocean. For you are a world away, valiantly battling the Zoom app with its broken video link and internally struggling with the weighty decision of whether you care if your boss sees you in your pajamas, whilst I stay on this side, taking care of hearth and home in my yoga pants. We are walking an unknown road together yet apart, my love. But never doubt where my heart lies. 

The children send you their deepest affection and this drawing of a pirate ninja unicorn. 

With All My Love, 

Your Devoted Wife

 

March 13, 2020

My Darling Husband, 

I thought perhaps I saw a glimpse of your unshaven face shuffling around in your robe early this morn and my heart leapt at the sight of it. But by the time I called out, this specter had already refilled his coffee mug and disappeared back into the murky depths of the bedroom. Oh, my beloved, when will the world return to normal? I fear we will not come out of this as the same people we once were. 

To distract myself, I am helping our eldest learn to read. His teacher has been most accommodating, sending numerous worksheets to be printed out at home and link after link after link of educational things we ought to be doing. I admit it is most overwhelming but I find courage within myself by imagining how burdensome it is for families across this nation of ours and knowing I must do my part as well. 

Eternally Yours,

Your Faithful Bride

 

March 16, 2020

Dearest Love, 

I am trying, somewhat in vain, to remember how hard all this must be on our children. The world has gone mad and if their mother cannot make much sense of it, what chance have their young minds?

Yet, I still do not feel that is a reasonable excuse to steal all my lipsticks and paint the dog in various vibrant and long-lasting hues. Oh yes, that is indeed what your children just did. The little one also blew a raspberry in my face when I divulged to her that there would be no cookies for breakfast. 

Well, as you can imagine, it took everything I had to spare any and all rods. But as it says in the scriptures, children are a gift and a reward. Although if I do recall correctly, Jesus never had any children of his own and God stopped after one. 

I feel my delicate constitution cannot take much more of this, dearest. Which is why I drank all your beer. 

Love,

Your Temporarily Jovial Spouse

 

March 17, 2020

Dear Husband, 

As I write this, it is late morning. A dreary, rainy morning sure to turn into a dreary, rainy afternoon. Already the children have broken a chair and the hound has vomited on the rug before deciding to poop in the only room that has carpet. ‘Tis not quite the auspicious day I was hoping it would be. 

But I strive to take heart in the small things, such as it being the Day of Saint Patrick. I felt it only appropriate to participate in the festivities, if but alone. And early. 

Relatedly, we are out of wine. Also the vodka from the freezer is gone. 

P.S. Did you eat my leftovers? They were clearly labeled with my name, darling. If you wanted eggrolls, you should have ordered some for yourself when I asked what you wanted from Golden Dragon yesterday. 

Signed,

Your Hangry Wife

 

March 18, 2020

Husband,

Supplies are low and morale is flagging. I had to squash a coup d’etat when word got out that there were no more fish sticks. I know it is a fraught journey to the grocery store in these awful and uncertain times but seeing as how I am hungover (you know my delicate constitution) I feel it is essential that you go. 

I will miss you, oh husband of mine, as you embark on this treacherous voyage. But how lucky am I to have such a considerate partner who leaves behind dirty socks all over the house as a constant reminder of his presence in our life during these troublesome days. 

Regards,

Wife

 

March 20, 2020

To Whom It May Concern,

I’m going for a walk. I threw an entire box of Cheerios on the floor so the urchins should be occupied for awhile. I am uncertain of when I shall return. 

P.S. The children set the kitchen on fire.

 

My very particular set of skills is finally needed

Being a stay-at-home parent is an underappreciated job. Luckily, it’s also a job which results in a lot of expertise that has very little value outside your immediate family and involves absolutely no social standing.

Which is fine. We don’t do it for the glory. We do it because childcare costs in this country are ridiculous and out of control. (And, like, for love or whatever). 

All of which is to say that society places little worth on the ability to spend all your time with your family without murdering them, not even once. 

And then came the coronavirus. In times of great uncertainty, in times of dire need, leaders can emerge from the most unlikeliest of places. Which is why, as this pandemic is sweeping across the country and everything is closing and everyone is realizing they will be forced to spend all their time in very close proximity to their own families, with no escape, nowhere to run, me and my fellow brethren are finding that our skills are finally in demand.

Fellow caregivers! It’s our time to shine, baby! *ties hair up in messy bun and straightens sweatpants*

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Alright, now one of the most important things to remember is don’t panic. They’re just your family. You will survive this. Probably. I’ll be honest, I don’t know your family. But I’ve been stuck at home with mine for six years now and other than an extremely bloated wine budget and premature aging, I’m only mildly psychologically damaged. 

First things first though, what are you doing? Putting on real pants? Aw, that’s cute. I mean, if it makes you feel good go on ahead but, honestly, you’re probably going to regret it. Real pants just remind you that there is a real world out there, a real world that you are no longer a part of. You need something with stretch, with elastic; something that won’t judge you when you are stress-eating leftover chicken wings above the sink. 

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Of course, one of the biggest adjustments you’ll have to make is that within these walls during the day, time will cease to have meaning. Mornings will fly and the afternoon will be frozen. Minutes can feel like hours and hours can feel like regretting the decision to ever have children in the first place. For example, it should be mathematically impossible to watch “Frozen II” 43 times in one day and yet there it is, still playing in the background, for the 44th time. 

At least now with all this extra time we can sit down to a nice, big, family breakfast, I hear you thinking. But nope. You’ll try, of course. At first. But your eggs taste like poopy butt and you did the hashbrowns wrong (there’s brown on them!) and she just wants CHEERIOS and he wants butter with a side of bagel. NO! UNTOASTED! NOW IT’S RUINED!   

Time to start your workday. When I’m not getting yelled at for my poopy butt eggs, I moonlight as a writer so allow me to share what I’ve learned about working from home with children. Prepare for your productivity to go down immensely. Possibly to zero. Even if you have a home office with a door. Doors don’t stop children. Nothing stops them. Also, children can sense when you need to concentrate and/or are on an important call. This is when the little one will crawl on your laptop like a cat and the older one will burst in naked and fart on you while giggling manically. 

Hey, remember back in your former life when you had the autonomy to go to the bathroom whenever you needed to? Yeah, that’s gone. Even if you ask every single person in that household if they have to go to the bathroom before you go in there, and everyone says “no,” someone will still bang on the door within eleven seconds demanding to be let in because IT’S AN EMERGENCY and THEY DIDN’T HAVE TO GO THEN. 

If you want a snack, you either get real good at slipping in and out of the kitchen unseen or you make snacks for everyone. 

Sound? What sound? Oh, that? That’s just the 3 p.m. sibling screaming match. Right on schedule. Now, wait for it…hang on…in just a moment…yup, the elderly dog’s fevered barking in response. There’s an encore of this performance at 4 as well. And 5:15. Sometimes 7. 

Oh, don’t look so disheartened. Look, you will want to kill them at some point. Likely multiple points. This is totally normal. I mean, don’t. Kill them and whatnot. It will reflect very poorly on your parenting. But it’s completely valid to feel like you want to.

Here you go. You’ve earned this. I call it a martini but it’s just straight vodka in a martini glass.

And just think, only five more hours until bedtime. 

Tissue?