Tag Archives: humor

How to survive a road trip with your family (Part One)

Spoiler alert: You don’t.

Sure, you’re still alive. Technically. But you come back changed. Different. Hardened. You are not the same person who optimistically climbed into that tiny Hyundai Accent with your husband and two kids and elderly dog, all bright-eyed with dreams of adventure and bonding and Instagram-worthy shots of the highway.

You are now a survivor. You have been to hell and back. And let me tell you, Dante had it easy. He never had to help a toddler with diarrhea in a dirty rest stop bathroom. I can still hear the screams. “DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING…NO. STOP. WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? DID YOU JUST STICK YOUR HAND IN THE TOILET? NOOOOOOOO…”

And the torture isn’t just limited to the road. In fact, it begins long before the traditional road trip opening ceremony of stomping from room to room looking for the lost car keys. (Because why would the car keys be where you left them? That would be silly. Then you would actually leave on time.).

No, see, for every road trip there is a person who is designated as the Carrier of the Mental Load for the group. This is the unfortunate soul who is responsible for remembering everything that everyone could possibly need for every single possible eventuality. Clothes for every weather scenario. Favorite toys and blankets. Second favorite toys and blankets in case the first ones get lost. Swimsuits for the hotel pool. Sippy cups. Extra wipes. Extra diapers. Tissues. The night-night book. Dramamine because last time the back seat looked like a scene from “The Exorcist.” Two coats, per person, because it is likely to be 70 degrees one day and a blizzard the next. AND DON’T FORGET THE CHARGERS. ALL THE CHARGERS. DID YOU PACK YOUR CHARGER? WELL, CHECK AGAIN. WE ARE NOT BUYING ONE FROM A GAS STATION. YOU HEAR ME?

Even the dog gets his own bag. Dog food. Dog treats. Rawhide bones. A bottle of water and an empty bowl. His favorite toy, Lobstah Killah. His second favorite toy, Mr. Disemboweled Stuffed Squirrel. His arthritis medication that you can never get him to take but bring with you so that you can more confidently lie to the vet at his next visit.

Do NOT mistake this as a position of honor. It is not. It is the quickest way to destroy your brain without the help of illegal drugs.

But take heart. If this position falls to you, just know that someone else (hint: your significant other) will be designated as the Master of Luggage Tetris. This is the person who has to take the various shapes and lumps that all your Very Vital Vacation items have been stuffed into and fit them into a tiny car trunk. This is also not a position of honor, which is why cursing is allowed.

(Please note that the same person can’t do both jobs without permanent brain damage. Don’t be a hero and take it all on yourself.).

Once you are finally in the car, the typical rules that regulate our lives no longer apply. For example, you can never have enough snacks. Let me repeat that. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH SNACKS. Buy ALL the snacks. It doesn’t matter if they don’t all get eaten. They won’t. You will waste so much money on these snacks that never get eaten. Hundreds of dollars. Thousands, possibly. But it doesn’t matter. You would pay double, TRIPLE, that amount for any object that can stop multiple children who all decide to have meltdowns at the exact same moment. They will eat three Doritos out of that family-sized bag and then dump the rest on the floor and you will still spend the rest of your life thanking the God of Doritos for his divine intervention. You will get to a point where you are hurling SnoBalls like grenades into the backseat just for one moment of peace. You’ll let them snort straight sugar through a straw on the back of their Dr. Seuss book. And at every stop you will buy more snacks. Because snacks are the dam holding back the raging river of your kids’ “BIG FEELINGS” that you do not want unleashed in that tiny tin can you call a vehicle.

Naturally, as a result of this, your car will eventually become one of the scarier episodes of “Hoarders.” Half empty coffee cups as far as the eye can see. Happy Meal cartons that are breeding like rabbits under the seats. Chips and half eaten snack cakes littering the floor ankle-deep. Let it go. Do not worry about it. If it gets too bad, just ditch the car in a river a few miles from your destination and call an Uber to take you the rest of the way.

Of course, snacks does not mean liquids. Do not, under any circumstance, give liquids to anyone in that car. If you do, no one will be on the same pee schedule.

Actually, scratch that. Even if you purposely dehydrate everyone, giving out one capful of bottled water every four hours like you are stranded on a desert island, you will still have to stop every 14 minutes. Yup, that’s right. They can’t even make it 15 minutes. The good news is that this gives you plenty of opportunity to buy an overpriced charger on your way out (that, it will turn out, doesn’t work with your phone).

Luckily, all of this will be forgotten when you reach your first destination, the hotel right off the Interstate. Because that’s when the real nightmare begins.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

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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.

That Old Dad Magic

My husband once told me that what I do is like magic. He came home from a long day of work, put his stuff down and suddenly noticed that the formerly gigantic haphazard pile of mail that had littered his desk was now in nice, neat, organized stacks. How did that happen? he wondered. For that matter, what happened to all those dirty dishes? And when did those formerly filthy street urchins living in our home become the squeaky clean von Trapp children?

Oh, he told me, it must be magic. Mommy magic. The thousand little things I do daily to keep this family ship from running aground.

It was one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. He truly saw what I did when no one was looking and sometimes, as a parent, that’s all you want at the end of yet another long day (besides a glass of wine the size of your face).

But dads have their own particular magic. And so, for this upcoming Father’s Day, I wanted to let him, and all the other dads out there, know that what you guys do each and every day is noticed and appreciated and loved.  

Like, for instance, how on any given family adventure, dads are the shoulder ride mules, the piggy back stallions and the sleeping toddler plowhorse, wrapped all into one.

They are the bad joke tellers. The world needs bad jokes and dads across this great nation of ours have heroically stepped up to the plate, never wavering in their devotion to that post-joke groan.

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You want grilled meat for dinner? Don’t worry. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these former cavemen from their appointed duty of artfully charring animal flesh. And they will be wearing some pretty snazzy cargo shorts while doing it. Yes, even in the winter.

They are the pool throwers. If there is a pool with children in it, nine times out of ten there is a dad in that pool who will spend the next 90 minutes hurling children down into the water with a giant splash. They do it to their own children, and your children, and all the random children who show up and get in line to also be thrown. No one knows who these kids are but it doesn’t matter. These dads never deny a kid a good throw. And these dads never complain. Even when their shoulders ache and their back is screaming.

They are always willing to do battle…with customer service. They will spend hours on hold, sometimes even holding two phones to their ears (a move my husband calls “insanity in stereo”) in order to finally talk loudly at another human being because, at this point, it’s really just the principle of the thing.

They are the mice hunters (and dead mice thrower-awayers). They are the spider smooshers and the snake beheaders. The “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT THING!?” investigators. And, in many cases, the “we are not getting a dog” nay-sayers who end up loving that ridiculous ball of fluff more than anyone.

They are the illicit snack giver, ruining tiny appetites before dinner because, hey, ya gotta let them babies live a little.

They are the turkey carvers and the toy assemblers and the resigned wearer of the Jabba the Hut suit in the family Star Wars Halloween costume.

They are the big, over-the-top, baritone finish at the end of every Happy Birthday song.

They are tall and short, thick and thin, tattooed and tie-wearing. They are the men who are gentle enough to cuddle with a newborn and brave enough to change a sick toddler’s diaper and strong enough to fix any boo-boo and loving enough to let their toenails be painted and wrestle on the floor no matter how exhausted they may be.

They are dads.

And we love them.

Thanks for all the magic, boys.

Important brain thoughts from an exhausted parent

I have a confession. I’m supposed to be writing right now. Which, yes, “technically” I am. I am “technically” stringing together letters into words and those words into sentences.  

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t really want to be writing right now. My brain is mush. Just a mushy, mushy, leaky puddle of its former self. This has been a particularly trying week and my children have sunk their adorable tiny little teeth into my skull and sucked out all the good bits. All that’s left is the part that instinctively knows when they are trying to climb up the unsecured bookcase and the part that knows the theme song to “Golden Girls.”

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In fact, I’m starting to suspect that part of the deal when you become a parent is that you help your children’s brains grow by sacrificing your own.

And so today, well, today I just don’t have it in me to write a coherent 800 words on some amusing and absurd aspect of life. I barely had it in me to brush my teeth this morning.

Which is why the bulk of this column is just going to be unrelated random musings because that’s all the poor, overworked, single brain cell left functioning in my head can handle right now.

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So…*drums nails on keyboard*…y’all want to talk about coffee? So good, right? I lost count but I’m on something like my seventh cup. I wonder who was the first person who looked at a coffee bean plant and said “How would it taste if we burned the crap out of this and poured hot water over it?” Whoever it is, they deserve a holiday and a fancy parade. Screw Columbus. Let’s have Coffee Inventor Day.

You know what else is awesome? “Jessica Jones” on Netflix.

I don’t have a follow-up to that. Just that it’s awesome.

How come you never see wild hamsters? Unrelated but equally important, what is nougat? I mean, it’s in candy bars, but what IS it?

Here are some important geographical observations:

Everyone in the Northeast eats a lot of ice cream in the winter.

There hasn’t been an official vote, but I’m pretty sure Mountain Dew is the official drink of my home state of Ohio.

If you want to start a fight in the South, try casually suggesting that sweet tea is gross. (And start running the second you see someone’s grandma taking off her earrings).

By my count, 80’s fashion has come back no less than four times since the actual 1980’s.

Does everyone hate the substitute meteorologist who occasionally fills in for the regular meteorologist on their morning TV news show or am I just being ridiculously unfair to Barry and his stupid face?

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The other day I overheard two young women talking. The one was telling the other “I, like, literally, and this wasn’t my choice at all, but I literally watched him play video games all night. And at one point he told me, ‘you seem bored.’ Like, yeah, I’m bored.” And it took every ounce of willpower I had not to whip out my best Tina Fey impression and yell “that’s a dealbreaker, ladies!”

Then, after I walked away, I almost turned around to do my best “he’s just not that into you” Miranda Hobbes impression but managed to stop myself again. Because I’m a grown-up.

God, I hope she doesn’t marry him.

And lastly, I recently found out that Madeleine L’Engle, the famous author of the “A Wrinkle in Time” series, had three kids, had her manuscript rejected 30 times before it was published and had almost given up writing on her 40th birthday because she was still not pulling her own weight financially even after all the hours she spent writing.  

So there is some tiny sliver of hope for all of us hardworking creative souls out there who are drowning in parenting responsibility but are desperately still pursuing our own passions while wading those choppy waters every day. It’s hard giving up nights, weekends, whatever meager free time we have. But we keep going. Even on the mushy brain weeks. For a very important reason.

That I can’t think of right now.

But probably because your heart is true and you’re a pal and confidant.

 

Beggars can be choosers

Do you have pearls on right now? If so, prepare to clutch them…

I no longer care what my kids eat.

Oh yeah. I said it. And I mean it. This nose ring and these tattoos aren’t just for show. I’m a rebel mom. (slowly pulls off motorcycle helmet and shakes out hair)

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I. Don’t. Care. You hear me, world? I DON’T CARE.

OK, OK, I do care. Of course I care. I’m a mom. (sets down motorcycle helmet and puts on cardigan) I’ll care about what my kids eat until the day I die. In fact, my last words will likely be “are you eating enough vegetables, honey?”

However, I did have an epiphany recently that means I will no longer fight with my kids over what they eat at dinner. (takes off cardigan and puts on cardigan decorated with skulls!)

I was 35 the first time I tried cream cheese on a bagel. My whole life, up until that fateful day, I had dutifully been spreading butter on my bagels. Like an idiot.

I have two college degrees, am a voracious reader, spent years working as a journalist, and literally thought cream cheese on a bagel was icky for no other reason than I decided it was icky one day as a small child despite having never tried it. And I held onto that belief for multiple decades despite the whole world telling me it was one of the most delicious combos ever dreamed up by humans.

And when I finally did try it (AT THE AGE OF 35), it was so amazing I literally stole the other half of the bagel from my 3-year-old son.

Worst of all is that this is just the latest in a series of foods I finally tried as an adult that I spent my whole life thinking were icky.

I was 21 before I tried coffee (and 27 when I tried it black for the first time).

I was 25 before I tried hummus.

I was 28 when I first tried guacamole.

And the first half of my 30’s has been busy trying and falling in love with crab rangoon, artichoke hearts, falafel, spinach dip, reuben sandwiches and all the cheeses outside of the “colby” range.

So, I no longer care what my kids choose to eat off their plates. Because, honestly, how can I expect them to have a more reasonable attitude toward food than I do? A grown woman who still has never tasted a mushroom (AT THE AGE OF 36) because the word fungus makes me cringe?

“But, Aprill!” I hear you yelling at the screen as you clutch those pearls. “You don’t want your kids to end up like you, do you!? Isn’t that all the more reason to force them to try stuff?”

And yes, you’re right. I don’t want my kids to be 35 and just realizing that cream cheese is the delicious glue that holds our entire society together. However, my mom once forced me to eat a tomato when I was six and we had a three hour standoff over it and it became a core memory and one that I tell everyone about and I still, to this day, hate tomatoes and refuse to eat them. So, that method isn’t always foolproof either.

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More importantly, I’d much rather my kids have a sane mother, a mother who is not angry and frustrated at every meal, than for them to have a diverse palate. I no longer want to be the mom who hijacks dinner over a bite of corn. Because that is what every meal was starting to feel like. A hostage situation. With exhausting and tedious negotiations. It got to the point that everyone was starting to dread meal time.

Which is why I’m taking dinner back. I want to sit around and talk about our day and laugh and joke and relax. I want breakfast to be a bonding experience and not a waterboarding experience. I want to hand them their lunch plates and when they say “I don’t want to eat that,” I simply respond “OK, just eat the other stuff” and BOOM. We move onto other things.

It’s a gamble, sure. My kids will likely end up with scurvy. But then again, pretty much all of parenthood is one giant gamble, isn’t it?

In the end, having a bowl of peas on the table that everyone ignores is a pretty small price to pay for wonderful memories sitting around the kitchen table with the people you love.

And besides, peas are icky.

 

Everything is cold & dead & stupid & I hate it

I’ve been sitting in this coffee shop for exactly 46 minutes now. And yes, I see you over there, Annoying Hovering Couple, with that dual stink eye you’ve been giving me for the last 17 of these 46 minutes in the hopes I might feel pressured to hurry up and finish my business here so you can have my table.

But the joke is on you. Because I can’t think of anything to write and so will probably die here at this table. So take that croissant you pronounced in the uppity French manner and shove it.

Ugh. Sorry. I’m just in a foul mood. Is there anything worse than January? Well, yes. I mean, torture is pretty high up there. Human trafficking. War. Extreme drought. Animal cruelty. That gross YouTube guy. Culottes. People who put raisins in chicken salad.

But January comes in at least a solid 770 on the list of Worst Things.

It’s cold. Everything is dead. There’s only one major holiday and you spend it hungover.

The bills are starting to roll in from Christmas. Nothing fits because of those ten (fine, 12) pounds you gained over the holidays. Everyone keeps bragging about how they’ve already done their taxes while you’re over here like, it’s not even May yet. And then they correct you and tell you they’re due in April but you don’t care because you got a mad case of Seasonal Affective Disorder and everything is stupid and dumb and ugly and stupid and I hate it.  

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And there are still two months of winter left to go.

Ugh.

I know. I know. First world problems and all that. I’m trying to see the bright side. I really am. I even flirted with the idea of giving that Danish idea of hygge a whirl. Because lighting a candle and wearing a big floofy sweater will solve everything. But then everyone on the Internet kept arguing about how to actually pronounce hygge and I got annoyed and started drinking copious amounts of wine while randomly yelling out “I’m doing Hoo-GAH!” until my husband made me go to bed.

Honestly, it wouldn’t be that bad if I could just curl up in bed with seven blankets and read a good book. Which I would read for all of five minutes until finally giving up the facade and just binge-watching all the seasons of “Arrested Development” for the third time on my laptop.   

But I can’t. Because I made the seemingly well-thought out decision to have children.  

Don’t get me wrong. Having children is great.

In the summer.

When you can go places and do things.

But in the winter? Before they’re old enough for school? Having children is inhumane.

Every morning, there they are, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and not caring that you got drunk practicing hygge the night before. Eager and ready to do things no matter how crappy it is outside. Happy and healthy and impatient for you to throw out a bunch of creative and imaginative and educational crap that their spongy little brains can soak up.

All of which I am happy to do.

In the summer.

And most of the early fall.

But all I want to do right now is hibernate in my blanket fort.

Sigh. Luckily, my love for my children is slightly stronger than my hatred of January. Which is why I took down the “No Kids Allowed” sign outside my fort. And why I will suck it up and smile and throw out a bunch of creative and imaginative and educational crap for their spongy little brains to soak up inside our fort.

Because I am a good mom.

And also because I’m trying to distract them from the fact that I am clinging to their tiny little furnace bodies for warmth.