Stop. You’re missing Christmas.

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is right around the corner. Seems like it was only Halloween yesterday. Oh, but how I love this time of year. Everything is just better, just shinier, this time of year. Cozied up in pajamas under a blanket, drinking a mug of something hot, watching holiday specials. Happy sigh. It all begins now.

Although…I really should have started buying presents already. Like, in July. I always tell myself I’ll start early, buy a few every month, but I never do. Christmas falls on the same day every year and yet I never learn. How many paychecks until Christmas? One, two…Only that many?! Crap. I should check the bank account. Start making the dreaded “People To Buy For” list. So many people. Why do I like so many people? Why does my chest feel so tight?

Nope. Stop. Just stop. You’re missing it. You’re missing all the good parts. It’s Christmas! Stop stressing. You’ll figure it out.

Of course I will. You’re right. I always do. Oh, and don’t forget, it is finally seasonably appropriate to drink eggnog again. And to drink all your daily allotted calories in one single festive coffee drink. Whipped cream? You bet your sweet barista ass I want whip cream. Load me up. Calories don’t count in December.

Ugh. Look at this line though. Every store, every restaurant, every coffee place. They’re a nightmare during the holidays. And nobody’s smiling. Why is no one smiling? It’s Christmas, you jerks. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year and yet all these people out here acting like feral animals. Yes, lady, I see you trying to oh-so-nonchalantly butt in front of me in line. It’s people. The public. Without them, Christmas would be perfect. WHY HASN’T THIS LINE MOVED!?

No. Stop. What is wrong with you? You are quite literally acting like the very people you were just complaining about. Now slap a smile on your face and remember it’s Christmas! You love Christmas!

I do. I really do. This year will be so fun too. The kids are at that perfect age where everything is magical again. The lights, the candy canes, making snowmen. And Christmas morning! Are you kidding me? They’re going to lose it. I can’t wait to see his face when he opens his Darth Vader and her face when she sees that cardboard box that she’d much rather play with than whatever toy actually came in it. I’ll even let them have cookies for breakfast. ‘Tis the season, after all!

I do worry though that maybe we bought them too many gifts. Spoiled them. He’s not even four yet and she’s only 18 months. Do they really need that many material things? Are we creating monsters that will throw a tantrum in a few years because we got them the wrong iPhone? No, no. I tend to be a bit dramatic about these things. In fact, now that I think about it, we didn’t actually buy them that much. Oh god, what if we didn’t buy them enough? What if Christmas morning is a big disappointment!?

Seriously? You’re the worst. And, again, you’re missing everything while internally debating ridiculous things. Now sit your ass down and have some cocoa and cookies with your delightful children, you weirdly indecisive Grinch.

Yes, yes, you’re right. I should just relax. Christmas is always magical if you just step back and get out of its way. I mean, take a look at our house. All lit up. It’s beautiful. I’m going to have some eggnog and just sit here and look at the lights.

Ah. Now this is what contentment feels like.

Too bad the house will feel so empty and cold when we have to take all these decorations down. Is it possible to be depressed about Christmas being over before it’s even really started? Is there a name for that? The preemptive blues? Well, at least Preemptive Blues will make a great band name if I ever get out of this funk and start learning to play guitar. Be the opening act for the band January Sucks.  

And January IS going to suck. I’ll have to actually start doing all the things I’ve been putting off until “after the holidays.” No more whipped cream on my 2,000 calorie coffee. Just an endless string of months filled with awful weather and getting my life together and nothing else.

UGH. STOP. You’re like an emo Krampus. Ruining Christmas for everyone with your whining. YOU ARE MISSING IT. Right now. It’s happening right now. So knock it off and have some more eggnog and wrap some presents and make out with your husband while wearing a Santa hat and ENJOY THESE MOMENTS IN THE MOMENT, YOU HOLLY JOLLY IDIOT.

You know, you’re so right. I will have some more noggen. Whoops. Eggnog. Because yesh, Christmas can be stressfun stressful but only iffen you let it. But I will sat here and have more egnoog (in fact, may as weel polish off this bottle) and be IN THE MOOMENT. Like Buddha. Lick a festive drunk Buddha. Buddha on a shelf. Ha! Ha! Man, this noggen is dellious delishush dalishus damn good. Maw have overdoon it though. Ah, butt (heh) it’s Chrisstmas.

Fa la la la la…hiccup…la la la la

 

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The Great Grilled Cheese Meltdown of 2017

Maybe it was because my husband has been swamped with work lately. Or maybe it was because we couldn’t find a babysitter so I could join him at a company Christmas party for a few glorious kid-free hours. Or hell, maybe because it was Tuesday…I think it was Tuesday…but really it doesn’t matter if it WAS Tuesday because the demands of motherhood never, ever stop, making the very concept of time irrelevant. And the concept of death, for that matter, since I can guarantee the kids will only visit my tombstone to ask me to refill their sippy cups and can I help them find their Batman toy?

But regardless of the reason, I had a meltdown over a grilled cheese sandwich. A flip out over the flipping of a sandwich. An existential crisis over an extraordinarily mundane dinner.  

It was all the pan’s fault. That stupid non-stick sticky pan. I should have gotten rid of it ages ago. But who wants to go pan shopping? I get 45 seconds of free time every day. Like I’m going to use it to do something necessary and grown-up and boring. Pffft.

So, since I am selfish and immature and use my free time to do outlandish things like pee and write curse words on Facebook, the grilled cheese sandwich stuck to the pan. Which destroyed the flip. Which destroyed the sandwich. Because while “technically” it was still edible, I was making it for the world’s most discerning and acid-tongued food critic in the entire world…

A preschooler.

A preschooler, mind you, who considers potatoes too exotic and spicy.  

(And that is a direct quote).

The whole reason we were HAVING grilled cheese for dinner in the first place was because it was supposed to be easy. I was tired. I didn’t want to fight about how my meatloaf smells weird and the lasagna looks like dog food.

(Also direct quotes).

And then the kids started fighting in the living room and the dog started barking at the kids because he thinks the solution to every kid-related problem is to just be louder than them (which is also pretty much my parenting method) and it just seemed like too much effort to butter some more bread and throw cheese on it and so…

I lost it.

I dramatically threw the whole mess, ruined sandwich, stupid sticky pan, any semblance of remaining dignity, into the sink and dropped to my knees right there in the kitchen and let out a primal scream. And then I cried a little. Not really a real cry but one of those “I wish someone could see me so they could feel sorry for me” cries. But still, it did include real tears so if you HAD seen me, you’d probably feel a little sorry for me.

And then, as I knelt there on the floor and looked around, I realized, with the clarity that comes after the release of intense emotions, that the pan is just one of the thousand items in my house that have completely lost their usefulness and are skating along the thin ice of their former reputation. Because my whole life is out of control. Because children are tornadoes of pure love and pure chaos.

And that’s why there is a case of Stella Artois beer bottles sitting in an obscure corner of our kitchen that has been there so long I’m pretty sure it’s essential to the structural integrity of our house now. The beer that was bought because hey, let’s try something new. And the beer that was abandoned because, hey, it tastes like alcoholic boogers.

Or the tupperware full of used batteries that I can’t get rid of because I want to properly and responsibly dispose of them but I don’t know how to properly and responsibly dispose of them and also don’t want to bother looking up how to properly and responsibly dispose of them.

Or the ever growing pile of Swiffer sweepers in yet another corner, only one of which isn’t broken, which is also coincidentally the one I can never find.

I need to get rid of all this stuff. Gain control. Any control. And I try to. Especially every year at this time. Because while I can blissfully ignore it the rest of the year, the thought of Christmas coming up and all the shiny new things that will be lovingly piled on top of all our old crap makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a candy cane.

But Aprill, you might be thinking, couldn’t at least part of the solution to your problem be to just ask for a pan for Christmas? And, yes, you’re right. But no. Ew. Gross. Why should my Christmas be ruined with a practical gift when I can so easily just buy a new pan myself?

Which I will totally do.

Eventually.

Maybe after the Big Omelet Breakdown of 2018.

Or the Pancake Freakout of 2019.

Or the Even Greater Grilled Cheese Meltdown of 2025.

To be honest, I’m probably going to be buried with that stupid pan and that ancient case of Stella beer.

But hey, at least my ghostly essence will have something to refill my kids’ sippy cups with when they come visit the cemetery. I’ll even throw some used batteries at them for their stupid Batman toy.

 

Well, there’s always tomorrow

I have never wanted to star in a reality TV show. I have happily hate-watched enough of them to ever wish that kind of scrutiny on myself.

So, imagine my surprise, then, when I had kids and suddenly realized I was one.

Every day of my life now is pretty much the kids binge-watching their favorite reality show, “Keeping Up With Momma’s Sanity.” Followed by the spin-off, “Here Comes Vodka.”

Those adorable little sponges absorb every single little thing I do with their big eyes. And then repeat everything I say with their even bigger mouths (including curse words they “may” have overheard a “certain” parent say).

Which is why I want to be a good example for my children. I really do. I want to be the friggin’ best example of humanity that has ever existed for them. But since that will never happen (I once told my entire second grade class that Santa didn’t exist), I’ll settle for trying to be the best version of myself for my kids.

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Here’s who I want to be. I want to be the loving dog owner who is always patient and kind with her aging dog, Buffy. The kind of owner who never gets annoyed with his incessant, loud barking because she knows his eyesight and hearing is going and so every fast movement and loud sound is clearly a gang of pirates attacking the house, which can only be stopped by his heroic barking efforts.

I want to be the loving mother who keeps her cool at dinner when both kids are complaining about the home-cooked meal placed in front of them, even though they also complained about lunch. And breakfast. And every meal the day before. And the day before that. And everything I have placed in front of their mouth holes that wasn’t chocolate since the day they came into existence.  

I want to be the confident professional(ish) writer who works hard and leaves a beautiful published legacy for her family.

I want to be the loving wife who definitely doesn’t bury her husband under an angry verbal avalanche of “guess what YOUR children did today?” as soon as he walks in the door.

But here’s who I am.

I am the loving dog owner who patiently tolerates my aging dog Buffy’s panicked barking…up to a certain point. And then I will yell back “SHUT UP, BUFFY! SHUT UP! YOU’RE KILLING ME! YOU’RE *definitely not a curse word* KILLING ME!”

I am the loving mother who once snapped and threw both kids’ dinner plates out the window.

I am the professional(ish) writer who, when suffering from a bout of writer’s block, slams shut her computer and yells “WORDS ARE DUMB” and then hides in the kitchen to shove unhealthy amounts of cheese in her mouth.

I am the loving wife who also assaults her husbands with verbal tsunamis, verbal monsoons and, on one particularly bad day, a verbal tornado (when he was still in the driveway).  

Sigh.  

It’s enough to keep a girl up at night worrying about whether or not she’s ruining her kids.

But then I remind myself that, from time to time, I’m also the mom who will spend hours every day reading books to her children until they get sick of it (and they never do). And I am Darth Vader Momma, who will have light saber fights with Stormtrooper Riker with one hand while holding Baby Yoda Mae in the other, and even resists the urge to correct her 3-year-old on why this situation goes against “Star Wars” canon.

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I’m also the loving dog owner who carries her dog up and down the stairs when the temperature drops too low, kicking his arthritis into high gear. And then gives him all the mashed potatoes her daughter didn’t eat because him such a good wittle puppeh, isn’t him? And then quietly cleans up the vomit the next day because his aging system can no longer handle human food.  

I am the completely not confident writer barely scraping by who still writes and never stops writing because she loves it. And then fiercely hates it. And then loves it again.

And I am the loving wife who makes naughty stick figure drawings for her husband and hides them in his computer bag.

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I am a work in progress. And ultimately, perhaps that’s the best lesson of humanity I could teach my children. That no one is perfect but every day is another chance to be a better person.  

Eh…nah. It’d be much better if I was just a much better human overall. One who didn’t eat her kid’s last chicken nugget when they weren’t looking.

But still, every day is another chance to be a better person.

Stupider things

Here is the thing they never tell you about being a parent (or at least not in an official pamphlet form): Once you get to a certain point, past the “oh god, I just really need both of us to survive this” stage, you will spend the majority of your parenting time arguing.

Arguing about very stupid things.

For example, say you buy your small child a sprinkled donut. Because he INSISTS he wants a sprinkled donut. But then he hands it back to you and wants you to take off all the sprinkles. All the sprinkles off the sprinkled donut that he REALLY TRULY wanted. Because he apparently only likes the ghostly essence of sprinkles on a sprinkled donut.

Because 3-year-old logic.

Now, as a parent, you have several options here.

You could flat-out refuse, because it’s a ridiculous request. Which will likely lead to a stupid argument and end in a tantrum (yours or his).

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You could try to reason with him. Which will likely lead to a stupid argument and end in a tantrum (again, yours or his or, let’s be honest, both).

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And lastly, you could just shut up and do it. Which means every time you get donuts now, he will ask for a sprinkled donut and ask you to take off all the sprinkles. Which means, six months from now, you will likely have a mental breakdown as you are scraping sprinkles off the 27th donut, and while you are busy rocking back and forth in the corner, sucking your thumb and sobbing, your small child will turn to his father and ask HIM to take off the sprinkles. Which Daddy will likely refuse to do (because he’s not an idiot). Which will lead to an argument and a tantrum as they are driving you to the nearest asylum.

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Sigh. In case it wasn’t already clear, there are no winners in these kinds of scenarios. Only survivors.

And yes, I know. Hey, man, with kids, you have to pick your battles. But that’s the thing. I already am picking my battles. Which is how he won the stupid pizza argument.

What’s the stupid pizza argument? So glad you asked. The stupid pizza argument began because my 3-year-old claims to LOVE pizza. But what he really means is he loves pizza crust. And only the crust. If there is even the tiniest remnant of cheese or sauce or anything that actually makes a pizza a pizza, on that pizza crust, he will hand it back and ask you to remove it. It doesn’t matter if your big ‘ol dumb adult eyes can’t see this alleged speck of sauce. You are to remove it. All of it. And he will hand it back to you over and over again until not even one of those nerds on one of those CSI shows could find trace elements of sauce.

I know, I know. Ha! Ha! Kids, huh? They’re so funny with their weird quirks. But wait! There’s more! Because once the pizza crust has been professionally picked clean, he will then proceed to dip it into a small bowl of pizza sauce.

PIZZA. SAUCE.

No matter how much I explain the irony, my son doesn’t get it. So, do we go through this whole ritual every single time we have pizza? You bet your happy ass we do.

Because you have to pick your battles.

But you can’t always give in either. Because then they know that they own you, which, sure, doesn’t seem that bad now. But wait until they’re 17 and you’re having the stupid “being a dj is not a career” argument and they won’t listen to you because you decided when they were three that it was just easier to pick the sprinkles off the goddamn donut.

Which is why you simply can’t give in during the stupid “stop saying shut up” argument even though you know how stupid it is and even though everyone is staring at you because you are the crazy person yelling at your son to shut up about saying shut up because only grown ups can say shut up so knock it off and shut up because I am gradually going insane and so many brain cells are committing suicide right now.

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And so, in conclusion, alcohol is terrific.

Cheers.

 

Giving thanks for this dumpster fire of a year

I don’t know about you guys but, for me, this has been one doozy of a year. Trying to juggle two small children and marriage and jobs and deadlines and ever-rising bills and the tattered remains of my social life, all while being chronically sleep deprived and all while the outside world appears to be crumbling around us, has taken its toll.

I’m tired, ya’ll.

And disillusioned.

And anxious and overwhelmed and whatever emotion that googly-eyed emoji face is supposed to portray.

And yet, at the same time, I’m also blissfully happy in those in-between moments, when I turn off the TV and my phone, and remember to actually live my life and look my family in the face and kiss my husband and squeeze my little squishies until they giggle so hard they fart.

Welcome to 2017.

But that’s the great thing about Thanksgiving. No matter what kind of year you’ve had, you can always find something to be grateful for, even if it’s just the little things in those in-between moments.

Like tiny, little, giggle-induced, baby farts.

And with that I present what I am thankful for this year:

 

  1. That I have two beautiful, healthy children…who are napping right now.
  2. That I have a smoking hot husband…who is napping right now.
  3. That because everyone is napping right now, I can get the good, expensive chocolate out from its secret hiding place and eat it in the open.
  4. That my smoking hot husband will take care of our two beautiful, healthy and unreasonably energetic children while I drink wine in the kitchen cook the Thanksgiving dinner.
  5. That the chances are high I can convince that same husband to stick his hand up the giant turkey’s butt and take out the gross innards so I don’t have to.
  6. That we already bought all the food we need for Thursday and don’t have to get in a slap fight with an old lady at the grocery store over the last of the cream cheese.
  7. That no one in my family likes sweet potatoes so I don’t have to bother making sweet potatoes because sweet potatoes are garbage.
  8. That even though we can’t have a big Thanksgiving with all our family, since both mine and his live far away, this in turn means we can wear sweatpants to dinner.
  9. That I am healthy. Except for this weird rash on my neck. And that other weird bump on my wrist. And that thing where my legs randomly go numb. I’m sure it’s fine.
  10. On a related note, I’m grateful that we can still afford health insurance for the time being.
  11. On another related note, that I have never taken health or life advice from Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop.
  12. That even though we are living in the darkest of all possible timelines, coffee still exists.
  13. As does wine.
  14. And rum.
  15. That my son’s fall soccer league finally ended and I no longer have to pretend that soccer is awesome or fun.
  16. That my husband bought bathtub crayons for our kids, which we adults use to write dirty messages to each other in the shower.
  17. That I have wonderful, amazing friends. Who I rarely see. Or talk to. But when I do, also love to curse an obscene amount.
  18. That the season of letting my kids just wear footie pajamas all day is finally upon us.
  19. That now that I’m a grown-up I can just have mozzarella sticks for dinner but insist my children eat all of their green beans.
  20. That through it all, I’m still here, chugging along, still writing and still trying to find the humor where I can.

How to get your kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner

I have mentioned many times in this particular column of mine that I love Thanksgiving. The holiday that asks nothing of you besides gluttony and drunkenness. I don’t even mind that I’m now the one in charge of the cooking, because in the end it all leads to the gluttony and drunkenness. Plus, I found a recipe for deep-fried stuffing balls that has completely changed the entire Thanksgiving game, if not my entire life.

What I don’t love, however, is being the parent of small children at Thanksgiving. Because after spending eight hours cooking, the last thing I want to do is spend another eight hours negotiating with tiny picky dictators about trying the food I just lovingly poured my heart and soul into. Not even eating the food, mind you. Just trying one microscopic bite. A bite so small that technically it shouldn’t exist according to current laws of physics.

But no matter how delicious everything is, no matter how much it has been bathed in practically pornographic amounts of butter and lard, no matter how kid-friendly I attempt to make everything, my children will take one look at their plate and immediately start howling about the disgusting mush of dog poop and gravel I apparently just set in front of them.

True story. This is the conversation I had with my not quite 3-year-old last year:

“I can’t eat this, Mommy. It’s gross.”

“Which part is gross, baby?”

“All of it.”

Ah, music to an exhausted and slightly drunk Thanksgiving cook’s ears.

He doesn’t even like mashed potatoes, which I didn’t even know was humanly possible.  

And this year, his younger sister just learned how to shriek “No!” so it should be a beautiful dinnertime duet of denial this time around.

But I decided that after last year, which ended with a tantrum (and my toddler was crying too) and an exclamation of “oh, just eat a stupid roll,” that I would do things differently this year. I would come prepared this year. I would WIN this year.

Which is why since March I have been brainstorming ideas on how I can get my kids to eat my Thanksgiving food without tears and fighting and threats (or at the very least, only minimal threats). And I am here to share my wisdom. Because, according to my research, it’s not impossible to get even the pickiest of kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner; it just takes a little ingenuity.

So, here are your Aunty Aprill’s tips for tricking getting your kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner:

Mold the mashed potatoes into an elaborate statue of a Mickey Mouse.

Tell them sweet potatoes are potatoes made with candy.

This one is rather labor intensive, but if you can, puree some turkey and stuffing and then, using a syringe, stuff some M&M’s with the puree.

Hire a playground bully to stand menacingly in the corner and glare at them until they take three BIG bites of the three bean salad.

Tell them Christmas won’t come unless they eat everything on their plate.

Instead of a turkey, mold some mac and cheese into the shape of a turkey (but the GOOD kind from a box, none of that fancy, homemade, gourmet cheese sauce crap).

Don’t feed them for three days beforehand. Who’s brussel sprouts sauteed with butter and bacon are icky now, starving peasant child?

A less severe version of the above tip: Only feed them peas and water three days beforehand.

Tell them that Elmo made the cranberry sauce.

Pour melted chocolate over their entire plate.

Use sibling rivalry to your advantage. Whoever eats the most turkey gets the most Christmas presents.

Only serve rolls with butter. Or, if they’re really picky, only serve butter.

And, if all else fails, just drink wine until you don’t care what anyone eats.

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

Death (doesn’t) become her

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately.

Oh, sorry. That might be a bit too heavy of a sentence right off the bat. This is meant to be a “humor” column, after all. Let me start over.

Good morning! How are you? I’m fantastic. My toddler had a meltdown inside a store and I dropped a meatball on my baby’s face. But Starbucks is now selling their Peppermint Mocha Latte again so it all evened out.

Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. Not any particular death. Just in general. Like, what does it all mean? Is there an afterlife? Will the mortician doing the makeup on my dead face get my eyeliner right?

But mostly, I’ve been obsessing about how I definitely do not want to die. Like, ever.

You might think that something like that should go without saying, but then you are likely a well-adjusted person with a 401K and someone who didn’t spend the first 35 years of their life thinking okra was some kind of seafood.

Not that I ever wished for death (the Great Flu Vomitpalooza of 2015, which occurred right after the Great Chinese Buffet Overindulgence Shamefest of 2015, notwithstanding). I fully enjoy breathing and all that comes with it. It’s just that in past I was always fairly laid back regarding mortality.

This was especially true when I was young, because when you’re young, you are invincible. Death is merely theoretical. Like, yeah, everyone dies. Of course. I never will but sure, yeah, I get it. Everyone dies.

Except me.

Then I got older and started having to adult full-time. And while I now truly understood that, yes, I too will die someday, I was still somewhat ambivalent at this point because paying taxes and dating are just the worst. I didn’t want to die, per se. But, hey, if it meant not having to awkwardly break up with Craig via text and would end this epic hangover from hell, I wouldn’t, you know, rage against the dying of the light or anything.

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But then I had kids. And those adorable little jerks changed everything because the millisecond after looking into their tiny screaming faces for the very first time, I knew that I absolutely had to live forever. FOREVER. I can never, ever, ever, ever leave them. EVER. I’ve often heard people say “my children are my reason for living.” Well, my children are the reason I can no longer die.

EVER.

Seriously, the thought of leaving them reduces me to heaving sobs and the ugliest of ugly cries. I have so much more to teach them! So much more to show them! At least 80 more Thanksgiving dinners with them where I ruin the day with another Star Wars vs. Star Trek argument!

And then there are the million more days I need with them because they are simply the best human beings to have ever existed.   

Because that’s the thing about having kids. Even with the exhaustion and the fears and the tantrums and the mysterious smells emanating from under the couch, my kids make my life more. More colorful. More fun. More beautiful.

Every holiday is magical again. A walk through the woods is full of gnomes and fairies again. And love is back to its purest, simplest form again.

It’s life in Technicolor.

And there is no way I’m missing out on a single minute.

So, currently my plan is to live to 114, where I will be raising my great-grandchildren because my granddaughter June is a complete hot mess because she was too spoiled by her grandmother. And by then, when I finally do kick the bucket, the technology will exist to link up my consciousness with a computer, turning me into an awesome old lady robot who says completely inappropriate things in a cool robot voice.

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Or better yet, I will become a vampire. And when my children die, I will spend the rest of my immortality just chilling at their grave sites and going trick-or-treating with my great-great-great grandchildren and eating all the descendants of the people who bullied me when I was in elementary school.

Because the alternative is no longer acceptable. I simply cannot ever leave my kids.

I’m not just going to rage against the dying of the light.

I’m going to punch it in the throat and knee it in the balls.