Tag Archives: parenting humor

When life hands you spoiled milk, make bathtub gin

Ask any parent what their worst nightmare is and then immediately cancel any plans you had for the next three days. Because that’s how long they will take to answer you. Because parents are worried about everything.

For instance, among my top worst nightmare scenarios are:

A serial killer named Meatclaw kidnaps my children.

My daughter dies of scurvy because all she’ll eat is plain noodles. 

My son turns out to be awesome at soccer and all my weekend days have to be spent sober and pretending to like soccer.

My grandchildren will have to participate in The Hunger Games in the dystopian future, which they will lose because no one in my family knows how to shoot an arrow OR how to do a fancy side braid.

I get cancer and die. My husband, overwhelmed with grief, gets tricked into marrying my vapid, bimbo nurse Trixie after my funeral and she then raises my kids to be the kind of humans who genuinely enjoy keeping up with the Kardashians.

Prohibition comes back and I am arrested for Googling “how to make bathtub gin”.

And none of those things address the daily onslaught of new things we as parents are told to be afraid of, like haunted YouTube shows that possess children and studies that prove babies who didn’t learn Mandarin in utero will never get into college and that helicopter parenting is causing rebellious kindergartners to start snorting pure uncut sugar.

Of course, it’s not all death and delinquency and illicit moonshine runs. The mundane can be almost as terrifying when you have kids. For example, at some point on that mental list that every parent has, probably down around No. 37, is the nightmare of the missing sippy cup.

Oh god, the dreaded missing sippy cup. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s been on the back of your mind for awhile, the fact that you can’t remember the last time you saw it. And even though you’ve been known to struggle with anything above second grade math, you instantly do some fancy algebra in your head and deduce that there are two in the dishwasher, one in the cupboard, two they’re currently drinking out of and one being used as part of a load-bearing wall in the Fortress of Generic Blocks in the living room. 

Which leaves one completely unaccounted for. And after some more fancy mental calculations, you realize it’s been unaccounted for since Tuesday. And nope. Not that Tuesday. Last LAST Tuesday.

That’s not even the scariest part. The scariest part is that, unlike all of the tiny missing socks (which is about 1/3 of the total tiny sock population) and all those missing pens from the junk drawer, which I imagine are living blissfully together on some tropical island with all 12,000 of my missing bobby pins, sippy cups never stay lost. Oh no. They will mysteriously show up again. Right when their contents have ripened to their peak of nightmarish horror.

And despite the fact that when you asked your children to help you find this very same cup two weeks ago and they just did a series of figure-eights around your legs while repeatedly asking “where did it go? huh…”, it always, inevitably, reappears in their little hands when it makes its grand re-entrance, not yours.

Then, when that moment comes, that moment when one of your precious angels that you spent 36 hours bringing into this world on the sheer power of creative curse words alone runs up to you with a brightly painted cup of toxic sludge, a million more horrific questions run through your mind:

What unholy concoction is now in there? And has it gained sentience yet?

How much spoiled milk can a 30-pound body take before permanent damage occurs?

What strange alchemy must take place to turn apple juice that shade of green?

Or…wait…I think this used to be orange juice?

Does grape juice ferment into alcohol after so long? And if it does, how much prison kiddie wine did my child just drink before he alerted me that he found the missing cup?

How worried do I need to be about mold, because there are no less than 11 blog posts littering my Facebook feed at any given moment about the dangers of mold growing in sippy cups?

The good news is that there is hope. More than hope, actually. There is a foolproof method to never losing another sippy cup again. And that method is to only let your child drink water from here on out.

A sippy cup full of water has never, ever been lost in the whole, long, sordid history of parenthood.

 

I’ll see you all in the spring

I never really understood those people who claimed that time is relative. That time is not absolute and can speed up and slow down depending on where you are, or how fast you’re going, or other amorphous, discombobulating, big word science stuff. 

Then January happened. And kept happening. Wouldn’t stop happening. It was a January that lasted for seven years. It was a January aging in dog years. 

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But hey! We all survived! And before murdering anyone (I’m assuming)! It’s now the beginning of February. Winter is officially half over. Which I feel I would be much more excited about if my one child hadn’t been coughing since November and the other one didn’t currently have a low-grade fever and runny nose that is going to last until April. 

I look forward to seeing you all again in May. Possibly June. Most likely 2034 when these two apple-cheeked petri dishes move out of my house. 

Honestly, it wouldn’t be that bad if these perpetually sick children had the decency to come down with an illness that makes them want to lay on the couch all day watching TV. You know, like any decent sick person with morals would do. But nope. My kids only get the germs that prevent them from going to school or library story-time or eating normal food or doing any chores BUT leaves them with enough energy to destroy my home and my sanity and my immune system. 

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I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fighting to get all my oxygen needs through nostrils that were only 13 percent operational. I’ve been dealing with an endless line of noses running so hard they would likely qualify for the Boston Marathon. And I’ve been riding a mucus tsunami like Moana crossing the sea to return the heart of Te Fiti, which is a very apt comparison considering I have seen “Moana” 116 times in the past five weeks. 

“Mom, how come you’re not sick?” my son asked one day while casually handing me a distressingly soggy tissue. 

“Because I have mom immunity. And I drink whiskey for medicinal purposes. And also technically I’ve been sick since the day after Christmas but everything still needs to get done because life is cruel and unfair.”

“Oh. Is dad sick too?”

“Yup.”

“Where is he?”

“Army crawling to work. Y’all expensive and we need to keep our insurance.”

Everyone in this stupid house keeps breathing all the same stupid air making each other sick but we can’t leave because we’ll make other stupid people sick so we stay stupid inside trying not to stupid kill each other while our stupid germs have air orgies and make new germs that we breathe in that make us sick all over again. 

And even when we get better, we’re not really better. And if we are better we aren’t better for long. Every time my son comes home from his school filled with other walking pathogens disguised as children, I can practically see the germs gleefully jumping from his hand to his backpack and giddily lying in wait for the moment when he asks me to carry it home for him and I give in because I’ve had 42 fights with his toddler sister that afternoon alone and my spirit is broken. And then those germs jump onto my hand, supersonically shouting out their battle cries and hacking away at my white blood cells with their super tiny axes.

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Or, you know, however germs work. 

There’s been so much sickness lately, in fact, that it’s gotten to a point where I’m a bit insensitive about the whole thing. 

“What? You’re sick again?”

*child finishes puking* “Yeah.”

*sticks thermometer in ear* “I mean, you only have a temp of 102. Here’s some Tylenol and a shovel. The driveway needs to be cleared out.”

*child has devastating coughing fit* “…ok…Momma…”

“And then after we can watch ‘Moana’ again!” 

*child gives thumbs-up from fetal position on the floor*

So, like I said. I look forward to seeing you all again in the spring. When everyone is finally healthy but all our allergies have kicked back in and we spend the majority of our time sneezing in your face. 

 

Good thing I’m not one of those sentimental moms

I vowed long before I ever had children that I would never be one of those overly sentimental mothers. You know the kind. The ones that make keepsakes out of their children’s teeth and first baby curls, like some sort of socially acceptable child body part hoarder. The ones who ugly cry at their kid’s preschool graduation ceremony (like that’s actually a thing, an actual important event). The ones who “ohh” and “ahh” and frame little junior’s drawing of a green horse that looks, let’s be honest, like a terminally ill Jabba the Hutt.

But not me. Nope. I mean, come on. The whole POINT of having children is to raise them and then get rid of them. To turn them into fully functioning adults who can deal with their own boogers and climb off the couch in a manner that doesn’t resemble a skydiving incident gone horribly wrong. Yet these weepy parents want to keep their kids in some sort of infantile limbo, nostalgic for the days when their precious babies hollered from the bathroom “mom, come wipe my butt!”

Pfft. Pathetic.

And then…

And THEN…

You knew there was an “and then” coming, didn’t you? Of course you did. You’re not an idiot like I am.

And then I had children. 

My son, my eldest, needed a haircut. His first. Too many “stop chewing on your hair” reprimands and running into the wall boo-boos because his bangs were blocking 87 percent of his vision finally pushed my hand. Not that I was putting off his first haircut or anything.

That would be too sentimental.

I waited until the morning of the day he was going to have his pictures taken by my photographer cousin. Not that I was waiting until the last possible moment or anything.

That would also be too sentimental.

It just happened to work out that way. And don’t you dare think for one second that me scheduling the hair appointment to coincide with a trip to visit family in my hometown in Ohio (800 miles from my current home in Boston) just so my high school friend would be the one to cut Riker’s hair had anything to do with sentimentality. It didn’t, ok? 

It didn’t.

It was simply because I couldn’t stand the thought of some stranger’s dirty, disgusting hands pawing through my baby’s pristine ginger curls and heartlessly chopping them off like they DIDN’T EVEN MATTER. Like they weren’t made from the most precious stuff ON EARTH.

And yes, I’m sure that the fact that I asked Samantha if she could cut me off just ONE of his curls as a keepsake might look, from the outside, like a sentimental request. But I was just being practical. In case, you know, something, god forbid, ever happened to Riker and we needed a sample of his DNA to give to a mad scientist who would then use it to create Riker’s identical clone.

And sure, then asking her to cut off another keepsake curl might seem a bit ridiculous, but hey, you never know. Something could always happen to Riker’s clone and it’s always good to have a backup-backup plan.

And ok, fine. Perhaps asking for that third curl to also be cut and gingerly wrapped up in plastic was overkill. But what if, I don’t know, a fire destroyed the first curl and then a plague of hair-eating locusts destroys the second one? What then, huh? Am I still being overly sentimental? Or just incredibly reasonable and forward-thinking?

So, plainly, as you can see, I have kept to that vow I made long ago to never be one of those overly sentimental parents. Even now with Riker about to turn 6 and my youngest preparing to go to preschool next year and the fact that I can’t remember the last time she fell asleep on my chest and that he no longer gives me a hug and a kiss before walking into his classroom and tomorrow they will both be leaving for college and they’ll never call and then move across the country from me and I’ll never see them but maybe next year, Mom, and the cat’s in the cradle and some crap about a silver spoon or something…

…Sigh…

And all of that will be just fine by me. Just fine. 

I have my shrine of baby curls, a creepy pile of preserved baby teeth and that damned ugly Jabba horse drawing to keep me company.

 

Not until the holidays are over

It’s understandable, I suppose. If you look at a calendar, there is December, looking on the surface just like any other month. Row after row of days, each begging to be filled up with errands and tasks and to-do lists. So I get why some people treat it just like any other month. 

But let me make this as clear as possible. Nothing is getting accomplished until after the holidays. At least on my end. 

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See, once December starts, you might, MIGHT, get one week at the beginning where I kinda sorta pretend to care and half-heartedly “do” stuff. But we have now reached a point in the season where this is no longer real life. Nothing matters anymore except things that have a decidedly Yuletide bent to them. I am now living in a snow globe filled with eggnog. Go away. I’ll see you all again in January. 

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My dentist is harassing me about making an appointment. The vet is wondering when I’m bringing my dog in for a check-up. My toddler wants me to sign her up for dance classes. Our passports need renewed. Etc. Etc. 

Look, I have to watch “A Christmas Story” AT LEAST five more times. There are cookies I need to buy from the store and pass off as my own special recipe. Not to mention, I still have to figure out which festive liqueur I’m going to slip into my coffee on Christmas morning. I’m swamped. All this constant nagging about deadlines and paying bills and what are we going to do about the leak in the kitchen and the kids need to eat something besides candy canes is fa-la-la-la-la-laing on deaf ears. 

Not until the holidays are over. 

Oh, what’s that? Do I hear what you hear when the car starts? That awful grinding sound? No, sorry. I only hear what Whitney Houston hears. A song, a song, high above the trees, with a voice big enough to block you and the rest of reality out. 

Nothing. Until. The. Holidays. Are. Over. 

Sure I’ll still send my oldest kid to school (because I’m pretty sure legally I have to). But his hygiene and preparedness are a crapshoot this far along in the month. Was I aware I sent him to school wearing two different shoes? And only one sock? Where is his homework? And backpack? Why is he quoting “Die Hard?” 

All things I will definitely address. After the holidays are over. (Although please enjoy these definitely homemade cookies that are my own special recipe). 

We’re out of toothpaste? I’ll put it on your Christmas list. The laundry needs done? What’s a few more days in those pajamas you’ve been wearing all weekend? That gigantic tower of unread mail on my desk? I’ll get to it. I swear. Right now, however, I have to drive around and look at Christmas lights and then stop at a festively decorated craft brewery where my kids will eat french fries and I will drink a beer with 12 percent alcohol called “Yankee Swap.”

That book club I want to start? The writing group I’ve already promised to start? That Christmas party I was thinking of hosting?

All of them can wait. UNTIL AFTER THE HOLIDAYS. I mean, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” isn’t going to watch itself while eating three-fourths of a large pizza. 

And come January 2, you can come bug me about all the stuff I’ve been putting off. Or the 3rd, depending on how bad my New Year Eve’s hangover is. Just get in line behind everyone else and do your best to ignore my sobbing. 

So you’ve decided to argue with a child

Oh hello. I see that you’ve decided to argue with a child. Allow me to assure you that you’ve come to the right place. I have over five plus years of experience arguing with children. Most of which I’ve lost. 

But this abysmal track record has given me a wealth of insight into the minds of these adorable little psychopaths and I would love nothing more than to share my wisdom with you and do my part in taking down as many of these tiny despots as I possibly can. Solidarity, my fellow caretakers! 

First things first, before beginning any rigorous argument regimen, there are some steps you should take to ensure your safety and well-being (and the safety and well-being of any and all children in the vicinity). If you are a pointer or tend to lean toward gesturing, some light stretching might be in order. Some positive affirmations in the mirror couldn’t hurt as well. Remember, YOU are the grown-up! They have no power over you! They weigh 35 pounds and have poor hand-eye coordination!

I also highly recommend doing some verbal exercises ahead of time since chances are high you will be dealing with rapid fire questions of “why?” and “why not?” and “but why?” and “how come?”. Personally, I find a little alcohol beforehand helps. Not too much, mind you. You have to keep your wits about you. But just enough so that my head doesn’t explode from the absolute absurdity of what’s happening. 

Which brings us to Tip No. 1. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to use logic. Children are not rational beings. They’re not even irrational beings. They are walking impulses housed in tiny, sticky, meat suits that are hell-bent on destruction and chaos. Logic merely bounces off them and comes right back to hit you in your stupid rational face. 

Tip No. 2, show no fear. Children can smell weakness with the same alarming accuracy as they can hear a candy bar being opened from four rooms away. If there is even the slightest bit of hesitation on your part, they will pounce, sink their tiny little teeth into that hesitation and never, ever let go. To avoid this, I find it helps to have a ready-made mental list of responses. Let’s try an exercise that you can practice with an adult partner:

“Can I get a cell phone?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re five.”

“Jasper is five and she has a cell phone.”

“Jasper is not my kid.”

“But I want a cell phone.”

“I want to not have acne at 38 but we don’t always get what we want.”

“I need a cell phone!”

“No, you need oxygen. The rest is just a bonus.”

“If you were a nice mom you’d get me a cell phone.”

“If I were a nice mom, I wouldn’t be Mom, I’d be Grandma.”

“Will Grandma get me a cell phone?”

“No.”

“But why?”

“Because I’m her kid and if she even dares brings this up, I will ‘but why?’ her to death.”

Tip No. 3, do not be distracted by their insults. When children feel they are losing an argument, they typically resort to verbal assault. “You’re a Mr. Poopy Peepee Face.” “I stupid hate you, stupid Mommy.” Etc. Most of these are harmless but be ready for some to hurt. Kids are incredibly adept at homing in on what bothers you most. “Yeah, well, you’re a girl so then why do you have a mustache, Mom?” 

Tip No. 4, make sure there are no loopholes. Kids love jumping through loopholes and they never, ever get tired or run out of energy. Or want a nap. Just imagine that every time you give a vague answer or agree to something (under the guise of “compromise”) that you are not dealing with a child but rather a genie or a monkey’s paw or some other supernatural phenomenon that you have to be very, very, VERY specific with. For example, to a kid…

“Let me think about it” means “Yes.”

“I don’t know” means “Yes.”

“I don’t think so” means “Yes.”

“Maybe later” means “Yes” for eternity.

“No” means “ask again in seven minutes.”

Tip No. 5, do not remind them how good they have it. Kids don’t care. Because IT IS NOT GOOD RIGHT NOW AND WON’T EVER BE GOOD AGAIN UNLESS THEY CAN DO THE THING OR HAVE THE THING OR EAT THE THING. 

Tip No. 6, lie. Yes! It is ok to lie to children. In fact, lying is the only reason adults have managed to keep our tenuous hold on the upper hand. “Oh, but I would never lie to my child,” I hear a few of you more naive parents saying. But you will. Because in order for us to remain in power, all of us parents have to hold the line. So, the park is closing, the store completely ran out of ice cream and it is against the law for kids to be up past 8 p.m. on a school night. 

And lastly, do not assume you’ve won. Ever. Just wait. Somehow, some way, this will all come back to bite you in your ass. You merely won the battle, not the war. The war is not won until you get to watch your children argue with their own kids as you secretly hand your grandkids more sugar to add fuel to the fire. 

The best mom in the galaxy

My eyes pop open like blinds that have been pulled too hard. I heard one of the kids cry, I’m certain of it. I strain my ears over the snoring duet of the dog and the husband. Nothing. Whoever it was must have fallen back asleep. 

As I lay in bed, wide awake since parental panic is the most effective alarm clock on the market, I think about the day to come. It’s going to be a good day, I tell myself. Because today I’m going to be a good mom. A great mom. The best mom in the world.  

Mary. Friggin.’ Poppins. 

(wavy fantasy lines, wavy fantasy lines, wavy fantasy lines)

Today I will get up, refreshed, and gently wake my children, both of them sleepily smiling at me as I sing “good morning!” to them. We will do our morning routine like an adorable montage from a romantic comedy, complete with a fashion show by my 5-year-old as he gets ready. As we walk to school, we’ll joke and laugh and enjoy the late autumn weather. 

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Then the 3-year-old and I will head to the library for storytime and after I will surprise her with a trip to her favorite pizza place for lunch, where we make up silly songs and she tells me about her favorite animals. She then takes a nap and I’m able to actually write my newspaper column by deadline. 

We pick up her brother and I let them play on the playground while I successfully have a 20 minute! conversation with another adult. We head home for a snack and an impromptu dance party (all of us, of course, agreeing on the music we listen to). 

Then they help me make dinner, the two of them adorably drowning in aprons. Daddy comes home and we all sit down at the table, talking about our day and discussing our highs and lows. 

As the day winds down, we read five books and they obediently clean their rooms and brush their teeth. As I tuck them into bed, my son looks at me and says “you’re the best mom in the world.” And my daughter says “no, she’s the best mom in the galaxy.”

And I walk away with a huge smile, telling myself just how lucky I am that I get to do this every day.

(wavy fantasy lines, wavy fantasy lines, wavy fantasy lines)

In reality I groan as I get out of bed (because that just happens involuntarily now) and I make coffee, menacingly standing over the coffeemaker, threatening it to hurry up or else. The kids procrastinate getting ready until the last minute despite me reminding them every five minutes that we are leaving soon. He calls me stupid and mean for making him brush his teeth and she throws a tantrum because she can’t find her favorite kitty cat stuffie (you’d think the fact I found eight other kitty cat stuffies she can take would help but no, no it doesn’t). Finally I explode.

“If you guys aren’t ready to go and by the door in the next 30 seconds, I will set all your toys on fire, so help me,” I loudly growl, my inner Darth Vader holding my inner Julie Andrews hostage in a chokehold. 

The entire walk to school they complain. It’s too cold. They’re so tired. Carry me, Momma!

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A little while later, me and the toddler are leaving the library in disgrace because she started screaming at the top of her lungs for some reason that she refuses to divulge. Trying to turn the day around, I take her to her favorite pizza place, where she runs around the entire place singing songs about poop. She then refuses to take a nap, even though she needs one, and refuses to get off my lap, leaving me to try to type 800 words of my newspaper column one-handed. 

Later we pick up her brother and the three of us end up leaving the playground in disgrace, one of them tucked under my arm like luggage and the other being dragged behind me by the hood of his coat, all of us raving at each other like lunatics. 

As soon as we get home, they both immediately ask to watch TV. When I say no, they both end up in the corner because we do not hit mommy no matter how mad we are. I tell them to go play in their rooms, which lasts for almost 10 minutes before I have to pull them apart because they’re fighting like feral weasels. Let’s read a book! I suggest, hoping to distract them. They then end up back in the corner for beating each other up again because they can’t agree on which book we should read. 

They then make a giant mess in the kitchen under the guise of “helping me cook” and I age ten years in ten minutes trying to bite my tongue so I don’t scream out of frustration. I get a text that Daddy is running late again. 

The three of us sit down to dinner, which is gross and smells like vomit apparently. Before I even manage to take my first bite, I have to yell at them to sit down in their chairs and stop sniffing each other’s butts. 

Bedtime is an hour of complaining (on their part) and threats about setting everything on fire again (on my part). 

And as I sigh and tuck them into bed, exhausted, my son looks at me and says “you’re the best mom in the world.” And my daughter says “no, she’s the best mom in the galaxy.”

And I walk away with a huge smile, telling myself just how lucky I am that I get to do this every day.

 

We’re all just glorified end tables

I’m not sure when it happened exactly but at some point in my parenting career, I went from being Mom to Glorified End Table. Cause that’s pretty much all I do now. Just hold my children’s crap for them. Backpacks. Sippy cups. This cool leaf they found on the ground. 

All in all, it’s not a bad gig. Much better than when they used me as their Glorified Couch. Or when they were babies and I was merely a Portable Buffet Table. But there are some downsides. Such as how long I have to hold these items. Which is apparently forever. 

Did I ever think I’d wake up one day as furniture? No. Truthfully I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. But it’s hard to type when you’re holding three very important pine cones and a hoodie and a blueberry muffin with two bites taken out of it. A muffin they INSIST they will finish. Eventually. Probably before they go to college. 

So I’m doing my best to settle into this new role of mine. My dreams can wait. Especially since this used candy wrapper isn’t going to hold itself, now is it?

Plus, I mean, if I’m not going to do it, who will? The kids? Don’t be ridiculous. Why would THEY hold their OWN crap? 

I did try it once though. Making them hold their own belongings. Back when I was still Mom. And then we immediately turned around after getting home to go right back to the park and grab the mountain of stuff they left there. Oh, sorry. Correction: The mountain of stuff they left lying there in a mud puddle. 

It was soon after that that I metamorphosized into the end table. (Eat your heart out, Gregor Samsa). 

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Oh, I can’t tell you the sheer number of things I’ve had to hold for them. Half drank water bottles. Hats. Sunglasses. Baggies of Cheerios. Wet socks. What turned out to be a dead cricket. A water gun that they definitely stole from someone. Rocks. So many rocks. An entire menagerie of stuffed animals. Half eaten lollipops. Every single dandelion that grew in our neighborhood. 

Then there were the three dozen acorns they acquired when we went camping in New Hampshire. Each one as precious and unique as a diamond. And yes, they knew if I tried to nonchalantly drop a few to make it easier to carry. 

There were the shells from that time we went to the beach. Enough to decorate the bathroom of every single beach house on the east coast. 

And, my personal favorite, the giant bags of cotton candy they JUST. HAD. TO. HAVE. but (surprise!) didn’t eat so I carried them around a street fair in 90 degree temperatures for four hours. 

Of course, just like any reliable piece of furniture, there’s been some wear and tear. The rings alone. Mostly under my eyes. Plenty of dents and scratches. But it could be worse, I suppose. Daddy, for instance, woke up one day as Mobile Playground. 

Luckily, I have many parent friends who also double as Glorified End Tables and who are happy to help out and hold my stuff so I can hold my children’s stuff. Of course, then another parent/end table has to then hold THEIR stuff, which is mostly their children’s stuff, so they can hold my stuff so I can hold my children’s stuff and so on and so on in one giant Russian Roulette game of crap-holding. 

But that’s why they say it takes a village to raise a child. Although perhaps a more apt phrase at this point would be that it takes a furniture store. 

And so, in conclusion, that’s why parents are allowed to drink alcohol. Now, can someone get me a straw? My hands are full. 

 

Lisa Frank & the other loves of my life

I don’t have much proof. I’ll admit that right off the bat. But just hear me out. I’m starting to suspect that my son is not my child. 

I mean, sure, he acts just like me (NO WE’RE NOT DRAMATIC, HOW DARE YOU!) But he was born via C-section. I couldn’t see anything past that weird blue screen they put up, not even them pulling a human body out of my human body. Who knows what happened down there? And, yeah, ok, my husband claims to have witnessed it but he could be part of this whole conspiracy. So, really, who’s the crazy one here? 

Because the biggest piece of evidence is that my son (“allegedly”) starts kindergarten in a week. And he is not excited. At all. According to him, after one year of preschool, he’s all set education-wise.

“But Momma! I went to school last year, remember? I learned everything already.” 

And I know. I know what you’re thinking. Maybe he’s just scared. But that doesn’t seem to be the case either. Yesterday I sat him down and started going off on this whole heartfelt spiel about how I was terrified on my first day of kindergarten and, funny story, was actually sent to the corner on my first day of school (I was framed basically and that’s all I’ll say about it and Amy knows what she did). But he stopped me, while I was mid-monologue and teary-eyed, with a wave of his hand. 

“I’m not scared. I just don’t want to go.”

The boy isn’t even excited about getting new school supplies. SCHOOL SUPPLIES, guys. 

“Do you want to get a new backpack for this year?” I nonchalantly asked him last week.

“Nah. I’ll just use my old Paw Patrol one.”

“Well, we can buy you other things.”

“Nah.”

“But have you ever smelled a fresh notebook? Or lovingly held a new box of crayons? All sharp and unused and full of potential? Want me to buy you a Trapper Keeper?”

“What’s that?”

“The single coolest invention of all time.”

“Nah.”

WHO IS THIS CHILD? I’m not going to lie. A good 30 percent of the reason I had kids was so I’d have a legitimate reason to wander up and down the school supply aisles, creepily smelling notebook paper. But now the girl who was once too school for cool has a son who is too cool for school. It’s like a super messed up Dr. Seuss story. 

I loved school. I was that kid raising their hand going “ohohoh, pick me!” I was that kid who joined everything. T-ball, volleyball, basketball, track, one ill-advised year as a cheerleader, school plays, band, Spanish club, yearbook staff. And yes, I was probably that kid you hated and rolled your eyes at. 

Not that school was always great. It had the typical amount of suck. There was some hardcore psychological warfare going on in third grade among my clique of friends. And then again in fifth grade. And half of sixth. I spent grades four through nine in one long awkward phase. (Tenth grade I was also pretty awkward but had at least learned how to pluck my eyebrows so there were officially two). Once a boy asked me out as a joke. Twice I tripped in the cafeteria, spilling my food and dignity everywhere. And I can’t count the number of times I got busted for falling asleep in class (one, because I was asleep and two, because it was almost always in math class). 

Yet the good still outweighed the bad. And I earned a life-long love of learning. Of challenging myself. Which is what I was hoping for my own children. They don’t need to get straight A’s. Or get involved in sports. Or fake their way through Spanish well enough to become vice president of Spanish club (el gato esta en la microonda!). But I do want them to use this time to try it all, experience it all, learn it all. To discover who they are and what they can do. 

Alas, my son is not me. Nor is his younger sister. Which is something I’m trying to keep in mind as we step blindly into this new phase of their lives. I can’t make them love school. I can’t make them see with 20 years of hindsight what lies before them. 

What I can do, though, is be their cheerleader (albeit an admittedly bad and inflexible one, just like when I was in school). And I can be there for them when things get hard, and then they get easier, and then everything changes and it all gets hard again. And I can listen to them when they have a bad day, a bad teacher, a big bully. 

And most importantly, I can impart my hard-won wisdom onto them that these years are only a small window of time where they can carry around a Trapper Keeper without looking like a crazy person. 

 

Comic books didn’t prepare me for this

I’ll be honest. I never gave much thought to my lap. Which is sad really, considering it is the most powerful part of my body. 

Oh yes, that squishy fleshy chair I can make appear and disappear at will is literally the seat of my power. (Pun COMPLETELY intended). 

I don’t mean this from a muscular standpoint. Or politically. Or even aesthetically. No. I mean from a supernatural perspective. The second I even attempt to sit and form this lap, it mystically summons, from far and wide, small children.

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Small, bony, wiggly children. With their weaponized elbows and butts and knees. Who then must sit on my lap immediately and are willing to fight each other to the death for the privilege. (A fight to the death that happens, you guessed it, right there on my lap).

It doesn’t matter what I’m doing while in possession of this lap. Eating? Clearly the appearance of my lap at the dining room table meant I wanted to eat this taco while maneuvering around a toddler’s head. Working on my laptop? Obviously by sitting I was inviting my kindergartner to hop on up and “help” by maniacally pushing buttons and erasing everything I’ve written. Disabling a bomb? Pffft. Whoever heard of someone doing that WITHOUT a pile of children on top of them?

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Likewise, environmental factors matter little. A Fourth of July party in 101 degree temperatures with a humidity equivalent of one thousand swamps? Hey mom, seems like a perfect time to sit on you and sprawl out every inch of my 40-pound frame, unfolding like a sticky octopus. 

There is one very important rule, however. Whatever you do while sitting on my lap, the one thing you absolutely MUST NOT DO is sit still. Because that would be ridiculous. 

But it’s not just my lap. This is a latent superpower pretty much all moms discover they have, which is why you rarely see a mom sitting. We know that as soon as we do, our laps will be swarming with children. Most likely our own but it’s far from unusual to find someone else’s kid squatting there. Like a beacon, it calls to them. 

Small child No. 1: “Do you feel that? A mom in the close vicinity is getting ready to sit and relax.”

Small child No. 2: “Oh no, that won’t do at all. We can’t allow her to enjoy herself. Let’s go!”

*pitter-patter-pitter-patter-pitter-patter*

See, that’s the thing about laps. It’d be one thing if this was all based on love. If these children just wanted a good cuddle. Who doesn’t love a good cuddle? But that is not what the majority of lap sitting is. No. This is about ownership. Property rights. My kids sit on my lap to stake their claim. “This exhausted worn out husk that was formerly a person is my property!” their bony butt declares every time it plops down. And it’s always a plop. Never a gentle perch. Or even a moderate plonk. Although sometimes, when you least expect it, it’s a flying leap. 

And once they’re on there, very little can pry them off. Property is, after all, nine-tenths of the law. 

“GET OFF!” I’ll roar.

“Wiggle even harder!” they hear.  

“I have to pee!” I’ll plead.

“Let’s move this party into the bathroom!” they assume. 

“Can I just have five minutes to myself?” I’ll ask.

“Fine, fine, clearly what you need is for us to now migrate to your back and put you into a chokehold,” they reason. 

Every once in awhile though, just when I’m reaching my threshold and wondering if woman can live by standing alone, these kids legitimately need a lap. A nightmare scared them. A friend hurt their feelings. A day at the beach exhausted them. 

Or, the best possible reason, their love suddenly grew too big for their little bodies to contain and they had to release it by getting as close to me as humanly possible. 

Which is why we moms put up with all of it. Why we risk the bruises and the plops and the lack of any semblance of personal space. Why a mom’s lap is always open.

Because when words and band-aids and security blankets fail, a mom’s lap can tell them, instantly and in no uncertain terms, that they are loved. And they always will be. And it’s all going to be ok. 

And in the end, that’s a pretty amazing superpower to have. 

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Lord and Lady of the Flies

When I was in high school, I read “Lord of the Flies.” Good book, I thought, but totally unrealistic. Kids aren’t like that. 

And then…well, then I had a child. 

Worse yet, after having that child, I decided to have another child. Meaning I now had children. Plural. More than one. Creating, blindly, siblings. Because in my baby fever, I was so obsessed with if I could, I never stopped to think if I should. 

And now every day of my life is spent pulling apart two feral creatures who are trying to rip each other to shreds. Where literally nothing is off the table. Eye gouging. Throat punching. Collar bone biting. Oh yeah, collar bone biting. I mean, I love my kids but they’re barbarians. Of all the things I was woefully unprepared for as a parent (and there are a lot), the savage sibling fights is the one that perplexes me the most. 

Part of this might be because I spent most of my early life as an only child. My mom had me when she was young so it was only after 17 years that I finally got a sibling. By that point, I was more like the fun auntie than any kind of sister. My role was to roll out of bed, play with him for a little bit and then run off with my friends to hang out in a cornfield and definitely not illegally drink bad, warm beer.  

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So I never got the traditional sibling upbringing. Oh, sure, I grew up with a lot of cousins. No shortage of fighting there. But it was different. With cousins, there’s more of an involuntary manslaughter vibe. With siblings, it’s premeditated.  

Were they born mortal enemies? I do remember on the day my daughter was born, my son’s little toddler fingers immediately found the soft spot on her skull and he tried pushing it in. Looking back, that should have been a pretty big red flag of what was to come. On her end, she had a kung fu grip on his curly red hair starting as early as four months. By five months, she started in with the head butting. 

For awhile I comforted myself with the idea that it was all typical sibling rivalry. But it’s not like I favor one over the other. I ignore them both equally. Is it the age difference? Everyone told me, oh, two years apart is the perfect space between ages. I can only assume now they meant the perfect ages to inflict similar wounds on each other. 

And now they’re old enough to use tools for their nefarious purposes. They can turn anything into a weapon against the other. This one time my son nibbled on a Dorito until it became a neon orange shiv and then he stabbed his sister with it. She once threw a giant rock at his head, straight up Fezzik from “Princess Bride” style. He pushed her into a pool last summer. Last Thanksgiving, she jumped off the couch and landed directly on his face. While wearing skates. 

As for reasons why they fight? Well, breathing is a popular one. Her leg accidentally touched his. He got the purple sippy cup. They both got the EXACT same numbers of M&M’s. One day they both punched each other in the face because they got into an argument about goats. It was literally kids fighting kids over kids. 

I’ve seen barroom fights in dive bars that were more civilized than the clashes that break out at the dinner table night after night. 

Truly, we don’t give kids enough credit. We treat them with such gentle hands, talk about how innocent and loving they are. But I’m pretty convinced my kids would slaughter each other if only they could figure out how. Thank god they have awful hand-eye coordination and hardly any upper body strength because nothing stops these fights. I’ve tried intervening. I’ve tried bribery. I’ve tried distraction. I’ve tried “let’s sit down and talk about our tiny murderous feelings.” No matter what, five minutes later, one is chasing the other with a hammer (where the hell did she get a hammer?) because he called her stuffed kitty cat stupid. 

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It’s exhausting. Which is why I’m currently trying the benign neglect method of our ancestors, just pretending I don’t hear the screams of attempted bloody murder, but making sure I’m close enough should I need to rush anyone to the emergency room. 

Say what you will about the parenting methods of the 70’s and 80’s, but I now know why they always sent us outside. 

Plausible deniability.