Tag Archives: parenting humor

How to Have a Proper Family Movie Night

Excitedly announce you are having A Family Movie Night! 

Wait for the cheers and applause that never come.  

Watch as everyone immediately starts to argue about what to watch. 

Browse Netflix. 

Calmly make a suggestion. 

Get greeted by groans and dramatic tears. 

Gently remind everyone this is supposed to be fun. 

Browse Disney+. 

Argue some more. 

Break up fist fight. 

Argue some more. 

Take weapon away from preschooler. 

Let out primal maternal scream. 

Make executive decision to watch a movie everyone has seen 576 times already.

Bring out snacks during opening credits. 

Listen to complaints that it’s the wrong brand of root beer, no one likes popcorn anymore and can we order a pizza?

It’s all we have, when did that happen, no.

Listen to more groans and dramatic, loud protestations. 

Get angry.

Start yelling back. 

Now everyone is yelling. 

Dog is barking. 

Everyone is yelling at dog to stop barking. 

Order stupid, dumb pizza.

Pause within first five minutes for Potty Break No. 1.

Answer first question about the basic plot of the movie they’ve seen 576 times already. 

Politely ask kid who keeps repeating every line to stop repeating every line. 

Start absentmindedly discussing the grocery list with partner. 

Get shushed by kids. 

Exchange look with partner and secretly do lewd gesture behind the children’s back. 

Answer 12th question about the basic plot of the movie they’ve seen 576 times already. 

Pause for Potty Break No. 3. 

Shoot down request for more candy. 

And more root beer. 

And the popcorn no one likes anymore but is somehow all gone. 

Remind kid who keeps repeating lines to stop, please. 

Tell shusher kid to stop shushing repeater kid.

Break up “I can’t hear, shut up” wrestling match on floor. 

Answer 33rd question about the basic plot of the movie they’ve seen 576 times already. 

Pause for Potty Break No. 7. 

Throw a pillow at the kid who won’t stop repeating every line and scream “knock it off!”

Pause movie so you can have family discussion on why that wasn’t actually child abuse. 

Pause for Potty Break No. 12. 

Sigh in relief that it’s finally over and you can stop stress eating pizza. 

Watch end credits until the very, very end to prevent preschooler meltdown. 

Practically hurl kids into their beds. 

Begin the unnecessarily violent movie the adults have been wanting to watch forever. 

Sigh contentedly. 

Immediately pause and escort an escaped child back to their bed. 

Resume movie. 

Jointly fall asleep 12 minutes in. 

Wake up on couch unable to turn neck for the next three days.

Forget whole horrifying ordeal by day four because you do not brain good anymore ever since the children systematically killed off all decent remaining brain cells. 

Repeat next week. 

Stickin’ it to the man (and everything else)

Hey, here’s something you might not know. According to historians it was the ancient Egyptians who invented stickers. Archaeologists have actually found remains of sticky paper plastered on Egyptian market walls that were used to display the price and description of goods.

Here’s another fun tidbit. Modern stickers got their start from a man going by the very fancy moniker of Sir Rowland Hill. He invented an adhesive paper in 1839, which eventually led to the first postage stamps. 

Oh, and, amusing little fact, another man with an excessively fancy name, R. Stanton Avery, is credited with inventing the first self adhesive label in 1935, leading the way for the sticker as we know it today.  

All of which is a very long way to say I don’t know why all these people listed above hate me and want to ruin my life. All I know is that they have been very successful in their endeavor. Because stickers are indeed destroying my life. And my home. And my wardrobe. And whatever little bit of my sanity that is still sticking around. (HA! GET IT! “STICKING”! HA! HA!). 

OK, fine. Maybe you’re right. Maybe all these people had no idea the destruction and havoc their invention would wreak on my small little world. But even so, just because you can invent something, doesn’t mean you should. So screw you, anonymous, innovative Egyptian merchant! I hope you drowned in quicksand or however ancient Egyptians typically died back then. 

They’re just everywhere. Stickers on the walls, the floors, on every stuffie, on at least half the books. Oh, and on me. All over me. My arms, my legs, my clothes, my shoes. One minute there is a child sweetly asking to sit on my lap and the next I am covered in stickers from head to toe. With everything else, they have the fine motor skills of a drunk baby panda, but give these kids a sheet of stickers and they suddenly have the dexterity and rapidity of a seasoned neurosurgeon. They could cover the entire world in stickers in roughly 45 minutes. 

I don’t even know where these stickers are coming from. How are my kids keeping their supply line going in the middle of a pandemic? They’re not even in school. We’ve been doing remote learning since September and the city has been on some level of lockdown since March. Is there a neighborhood black market for stickers that I am unaware of? Did they finally figure out my Amazon password? 

WHO KEEPS GIVING MY CHILDREN STICKERS?

That last question isn’t rhetorical. I want names. Addresses. Lists of weaknesses and biggest fears. I will have my revenge. 

You know, back in my day, we had respect for the sticker game. We played with them the way God intended, by moving them from the sticker sheet immediately to our sticker album. And there they would stay for all eternity. There was none of this free range sticker nonsense the youth believe in today, just putting stickers wherever they feel like whenever they feel like. 

And I hear you. I do. It could be worse, you’re saying. It could be the dreaded (*whispers*) glitter. But nope, I disagree. I would actually prefer glitter. Because while glitter never, ever goes away, the worse that will happen if it gets all over me is that I will look like either a stripper or a fairy and honestly, I’m fine with both. 

But stickers? I get covered in those bad boys and 1. when I rip them off it also rips off my body hair and 2. they always end up still stuck on my clothes after I put them in the wash, leaving their weird residue all over everything. And this may come as a shock to some of you, but I am not the type of mother who is going to Google “how to get sticker residue off of clothes” and then actually try to get the sticker residue off of the clothes. I am the kind of mother who gets angry and curses and then just walks around in clothes with permanent sticker residue on them because I am tired and lazy. 

I don’t really have an ending for this rant. Other than I WILL FIND YOU NEIGHBORHOOD BLACK MARKET STICKER DEALER. You can run and you can hide, but I will FIND YOU. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take a butterknife and try to scrape the stickers off our hardwood floors and the ceilings because the little one has discovered she can climb all the way up to the top of the unsecured bookcase now. 

Where’s My Coffee? A Remote Schooling Pop Quiz

Q: If I wake up at 7 a.m. and remote schooling starts at 8:30 a.m. for my first grader and 8:45 a.m. for my preschooler, at what time will I take my first sip of coffee? Please show your work.

A: 9:07 a.m. Because the children got up at 6:59 a.m. and began immediately fighting and demanding things and the dog pooped all over the only carpeted area in the house and everyone wanted something different for breakfast. Carry the one nerve I had left over.  

Q: If I am helping one child with a math assignment in the dining room and then the other one yells for my help during her small group live instruction in the bedroom, where will I eventually find my coffee after a frantic search?

A: On top of the bookshelf in the hallway.

Extra credit question: Will it still be hot?

A: Nope. 

Q: What is my favorite brand of coffee to make at home?

a. Starbucks

b. Dunkin

c. That fancy one I can’t pronounce 

d. Any that finally finds its way into my hands. 

Q: Where do I most often find my coffee?

A: In the microwave. Where I warmed it up 40 minutes ago.

True or False: Whoever finishes the pot of coffee has to make a new pot.

True. RYAN. 

Q: If my preschooler is having a meltdown because she can’t cut out her shapes perfectly and my first grader is going on another angry rant about how he hates school and he knows everything already so why does he even have to get on Zoom, will I slip out to the front porch or the back porch to enjoy five minutes of peace with my cup of coffee?

A: Trick question. They discovered that’s where I hide last week. The answer is now the basement. 

Q: During the afternoon, if I scour the entire house for 20 minutes for my coffee but still cannot find it, where is my coffee?

a. The coffee never existed in the first place because I am going insane. 

b. An interdimensional portal that opened up because it’s 2020.

c. Does it even matter? It’s just easier to get a new cup and find the old one six months later when it has grown fur and possibly consciousness. 

d. In the bathroom where I optimistically brought it an hour ago in the vain hope of finding two minutes to brush my teeth.

True or False: Some people don’t drink coffee. 

False. Probably. Who are these people? And what mystical elixir do they drink to prevent familial homicides? 

Q: If it’s a half day Wednesday and both kids have different schedules and extra long Zoom sessions, what will you find in my coffee mug?

A: Correct. The answer is indeed whiskey.

Q: What is an appropriate amount of coffee to drink in the year of our Lord 2020?

A: ALL OF IT. 

Essay Question: How is coffee made?

Little caffeine fairies collect the magic beans in the enchanted forest and give them to dragons, who roast them. They are then collected by really hip dressed baristas and distributed to the masses, who mix it with hot water to make that bewitching hot bean potion that keeps the world running with its life-giving and slightly addictive properties. 

Ode to the Mystery Bruise

Oh, Mystery Bruise

There you are, yet again

And there have you always been 

For at least as long as I can remember

Which, granted, isn’t that long

Ever since my memory was obliterated by the incessant demands

Of tiny, adorable humans 

They who sprung loudly from my loins

Ginger haired and exhausting

My mind now filled to capacity 

Each and every day

With tasks both mundane and material 

That are involved when raising juveniles not quite yet delinquent

Big. Purple. With a hint of bluish tint

Ringed by an unholy yellow 

You loudly announce your presence, oh, Mystery Bruise

With every disrobement 

With every bathroom trip

There was a time when my thigh was flawless

(Stubble notwithstanding)

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

Alas, now the top of that ham 

Is the heart and hearth of your home

Oh, Mystery Bruise 

Whenceforth you came? Why do you stay?

I have heard tale of your existence in others

On the side of the hip

Or the shinny shin shin

Enfolding the feminine forces in this world

Who already fight all kinds of unseen battles 

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

Yet your mystery grows, Mystery Bruise

Your origin a puzzle wrapped in an enigma

Smothered in a conundrum and sprinkled with mild violence  

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

Or when a preschooler made of all points

Used me as their amusement park?

Are you the result of that stupid end table

I keep running into?

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

With actual weapons? 

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

Or from all the screams I buried down deep

Each and every time they howled how they hated me

Because the grilled cheese had the wrong cheese?

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

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

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

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

And not just a mother

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

The point is, oh, most mystifying of contusions

You’ve always been there for me

Rarely changing

Just staring up at me every time I shower 

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

A reminder of some permanence in an ever shifting reality

Or maybe you are simply a visible representation

Of the bruises concealed in my heart

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

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

No matter the reason, nor the cause

I want to thank you, oh Mystery Bruise

For always being there

Which I believe I already mentioned

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

Of Remote Schooling

Of Life

Of 2020

And of simply being stretched too thin

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

A little (lot) drunk and singing your praises

Because you are here and yet need nothing from me

Oh, Mystery Bruise, your silence speaks volumes  

A van after my own heart

It’s been said that fortune favors the bold. Which, if true, would explain a lot about my life. At best, I can probably be described as casually feisty. And that’s only after an entire pot of coffee. 

So, fortune doesn’t so much favor me as ignore me most of the time and then suddenly remember I’m there, which is when she surprises me with either a slightly larger than normal tax return or a weird skin disease, depending on how she is feeling that day. 

It’s worked out fairly well so far, however. I love my life even though there is a shocking lack of money, jewels OR vast kingdoms in it. It’s also usually a pleasant surprise when things just happen to fall into my lap and work out. 

Take, for example, how my family and I recently found ourselves the proud owners of a van. A Honda Odyssey, to be more precise. From 2003, not to brag. Tan in color, in case you weren’t jealous enough. It’s a van totally suitable for a woman such as myself who firmly grabs life by the coattails and just hangs on for dear life.

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How we acquired this van is also very on brand with my lifestyle. It was already parked in our driveway. It was the van our landlord’s handyman’s right hand man, Jacob, used to haul right hand handyman stuff around in. He was all like, you guys want this? And we were like maybe? And he named a decent price. And we were like, I mean it’s already here everything.

That was big selling point No. 1. Because I personally would rather shove some butter knives slowly into my eyeballs than set foot on a car lot. 

Selling point No. 2 was that I have spent the last 16 years riding around in the car I got my last year of college. A car, may I humbly add, that now has two, count them two, working doors thanks to George and Mike down at Alewife Auto. I don’t know if any of you have ever had the pleasure of riding in a two-door 2004 Hyundai Accent but it’s basically one step above a clown car. There was barely room for me in there. Then I added a husband, a dog and two kids. Plus all our crap. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the pleasure of riding in any car with small children, but they need to take every single they own. And no less than 47 snacks. The breaking point though was our recent vacation to the middle of nowhere in upstate New York. We drove four hours each way and we were packed tighter than…well, then nothing else I can think of because nothing else in the world has been packed as tight as we were in that car in all of history. And while painfully unfurling myself from the pretzel position I had been sitting in upon arriving home, I said to myself “never again.”

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Then, what do you know, lo and behold, there was a van! Ours for the taking! Once the check clears (fingers crossed)! Fortune had briefly glanced my way again and shrugged her shoulders!

Her name is Brunhilda. Our van, that is. Because she’s going to be towing around a bunch of tiny ginger Vikings. (And yes, my friend Melissa and I came up with the name after drinking beer with a very high alcohol content). 

I haven’t driven her yet. But I did go sit inside. Y’all. Y’ALL. The sheer amount of SPACE in these things. It felt like it went on forever. Like that dolly zoom effect they do in movies where suddenly all perception is distorted. I probably could have done a cartwheel in there. If I wasn’t so scared that doing a cartwheel at my age would result in a permanent injury. 

Needless to say, I have big plans for our Big Lady. 

Road trips. 

Camping trips. 

Drive-in movie theater nights.

Carpooling somewhere, anywhere, with anyone, anytime.

Daytime mommy naps followed by daytime wine drinking. Followed by another mommy nap. 

My new writing office.

A podcast studio every Thursday. 

World’s smallest rave party. 

Live down by the river if things get worse.

The possibilities are endless. 

I’ll admit, it’s nice to be excited about something. This year, oof. This year. Well, you already know. It’s the kind of year that makes buying a 17-year-old van one of the lone bright spots. 

But hey, hasn’t it also been said that life is not about what you have, it’s about what you do with what you have? And what I have now is an old ass van named Brunhilda. And the name of a dude willing to paint a van mural of a mostly naked Viking woman riding a pink unicorn that is shooting flames out of its mouth. 

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The 5 stages of house cleaning with children

 

Stage One: Optimism(-ish)

Hey kids! Come here please. …Guys? Come on, I know you hear me. …BECAUSE I SAID SO. 

Don’t make me start counting. One! TWOOO…good choice. OK, now before you start groaning, hear me out. Today we’re going to clean the house! Yay! 

(Fifteen minute pause for loud whining and fake tantrums)

Wow, those are some really good points you guys made there. I’ve totally changed my mind. Of course I’m kidding. Now start cleaning. This entire house is a disaster. But hey, we can make it fun! We’ll blast some loud music and chug coffee while we do it, alright? Fine, root beer in your case. Trust me, there is nothing better than having a clean house. You’ll see. Now who wants to hear some Tupac? Ugh. Fine. Taylor Swift. 

Stage Two: Frustration

OK, let’s start with your rooms. I want you to put any toys you don’t want anymore in this bin and put any trash or broken toys in this bin. Dirty clothes in the hamper, books on the bookshelves, toys in the toy box. Yes, I know. It does sound like a lot of work. Because you guys have not cleaned anything since the last time we did this even though I tell you to clean your rooms daily. 

Look, watch how easy it is. Take this thing. Do you want to keep this? You do? This thing I have never seen you play with? It’s your favorite toy? Oh, your favorite toy of all time? That’s interesting because I’m pretty sure it’s actually half of a plastic hanger. OK, OK, OK, fine! You can keep it. But how about we put this marker that doesn’t work anymore in the bin. Oh, it’s also your favorite toy? You named it Mr. Marker? Yeah, no, sure. You have to let me get rid of this baby rattle, though. Really!? You will? Oh, good job, kiddo, I’m proud of you…Hey, why is this empty? WHO’S BEEN TAKING TOYS OUT OF THE “TOYS TO DONATE” BIN!?

Stage Three: Bargaining (Followed By Anger)

Look, guys, if we all work together we can get this done in an hour, tops. And maybe, if you kids do a good enough job, and stop with all the complaining, we can have ice cream when we’re done? I don’t know, whatever flavor is in that ancient tub in the back of the freezer. We’ll even throw some M&M’s on top. Yes, fine, marshmallows too. Just keep cleaning. 

Wait, why are you crying? Yes, you have to get rid of it. It’s one-third of a broken Mardi Gras beaded necklace. No, you do not love it. Oh stop it, it is not your best friend. You own 189 stuffies. Make one of them your best friend, alright? 

What the…is this a freakin’ SANDWICH IN YOUR LAUNDRY BASKET? 

Stage Four: Depression (Followed By More Anger)

I just wanted a clean home. Is that too much to ask? Other moms have clean homes. Probably. 

Oh, who am I kidding? What’s even the point? It’s just going to get messy again. Life is meaningless. 

No, just because I’m laying here on your floor in the fetal position does not mean you can stop. Just step around me. Well, someday when you have your own children you can lay in their filthy, gross rooms in a puddle of your own existential crisis while they pick up one single Lego at a time at the speed of molasses. 

Wait, is that…is that all the donation toys UNDER YOUR BED!? SON OF A …

Stage Five: Acceptance of Corner Cutting

Oh, just throw it under the bed. I don’t care! Let’s just get it done. No, of course we can’t just stop. What lesson would that be teaching you? Now go shove all these broken Transformers into your closet. 

(Opens bottle of wine, take giant swig straight from bottle)

Yeah, whatever, you can keep it. Go put it on top of the old washcloth pile. It’s next to the naked Barbie pile. Behind the generic Magna-Tiles pile! And when you’re done with that shove these half eaten baby board books haphazardly into your bookshelves. Well, shove harder then. 

Yup, alright. I’m calling it. We’re done. Everyone into the kitchen for some ancient freezer-burned-flavored ice cream. 

We’ve earned it.

 

Box Spring Hot Box

It was the title that came first. It floated up from the mysterious depths of my sleep deprived brain, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a terrible night. 

Or arose like a zombie. That wanted to eat my brain. Was eating my brain. Or something. 

I’m so tired. 

Anyway, the point is. What is the point? Oh, right. The point is I know what you’re thinking. What is up with that title? It’s a funny story actually. It was the title that came first. 

Wait, I already said that.

OK. Where was I? There I was, trapped for hours, trapped in a hell of my own making, when it came to me. 

Box Spring Hot Box.

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Heh. That’s really funny, I thought to myself. Although now that I’m writing this, it’s not quite as clever as it sounded at 3 a.m. It’s mildly amusing at best. But if I change it now then I have to rewrite the whole beginning and no one is really going to read this anyway except my mom so…moving on. 

What is a box spring hot box, you ask? Well, it started out fine. Sweet even. A tale as old as sleep. I was gently nudged out of a deep slumber by the horrifying sensation that a presence near me was breathing heavily. My eyelids fluttered open to behold an extra from Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn” staring at me. Confusingly, this tiny devil mumbled something about having a nightmare and so I resisted the urge to dropkick the creepy face long enough to wipe the sleep out of my eyes and realize the monster was my own child. 

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So I let him crawl into bed with us. Just for a minute, I said sternly, both of us knowing that I am a gigantic liar, lair, stained pajama pants on fire. 

So he hopped on up, laying on top of the covers and immediately taking up more real estate than was necessary for a 45-pound body. Meanwhile I scooched closer to my husband, who was blissfully snoring away on my other side, the covers wrapped around him like a tortilla. Meanwhile meanwhile, the dog, disturbed by all this commotion, sighed exasperatedly and scooched over as well, moving to lay at the bottom of my feet. 

It was nice at first. Cozy. For a moment I even started to think I understood why all those hippies insist the entire family sleep in the same bed. I was surrounded by love. 

And body heat. I was surrounded by all the body heat. Why was everyone giving off so much heat? Who decided 98.6 degrees is a reasonable number? It’s a ridiculous temperature for a human body. Why can’t we all be a balmy 77? 

It was hot. So bloody hot. And I was trapped under the covers. I tried squirming out but was blocked by the headboard. The dog was blocking the southern exit and there was also the irrational fear that I would get stuck midway and end up roasted to death, cooked by my very own family.  

Why didn’t I just wake one of them up, I hear you asking. Well, well, well, aren’t we just FULL of questions today. 

Sorry. I’m a bit cranky. I don’t know if you heard but I didn’t get much sleep last night. 

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Anyway, waking up either my son or husband so that I could crawl out would have been the logical thing to do. Hence the problem. You’re talking logic. Logic at an illogical time during an illogical year. And, let’s face it, with a ridiculous specimen of a woman. 

To my credit, I did briefly flirt with the idea of waking one of them up. Actually, I was so hot I downright seduced the idea of shoving them onto the floor full force just to feel fresh air on my body again. But then I looked over at my loud snoring burrito, who had been working round the clock from home for months. Stressed and exhausted. Then I turned my head to look at my very own Vitruvian Man, just splayed out in all his tiny glory, who has been struggling with a world that doesn’t make sense and nightmares of Mommy and Daddy getting sick. Even the hellhound at my feet, even if I was willing to crawl out that way, is about to turn 15. He’s been such a good boy, even though his hips hurt and we kept bringing babies home from the hospital without ever once consulting him. 

They all deserved sleep. Peaceful sleep. Or so it seemed in my muddled mind at 3 a.m. 

So I lay in my box spring hot box for the rest of the night. Alternating between analyzing my latest dream (playing basketball with Brad Pitt, where he kept making baskets by throwing the ball from behind his back all while discussing the writing of James Agee, whom I have never read) and replaying every embarrassing moment from junior high (which are numerous and still not funny to me yet). 

Then, like a rainbow after the storm, my husband grunted and farted and I knew the long night had ended. I would soon be free. He was a mere yawn and unselfconscious scratch away from being awake. 

And the point to all this is…

What is the point? There is a point. I came up with it somewhere around paragraph three. I need more coffee. Oh yes, the point is, I yelled at my kids today. For picking their noses and not cleaning their rooms like I asked. I was snippy with my husband, who made the mistake of standing there. I even had a very stern talking to with the dog who keeps aggressively shedding. 

And so the point is I wrote this to let them all know how much I love them. Even when I’m cranky and tired and yelling. Love comes out in many different and often strange ways. Ways like staying up half the night because you just want the ones you love to find as much peace as possible in this world. 

Although next time, I think I’ll just kick one of them to the floor and show them my love by getting a good night’s sleep myself. 

Impossible Girls

To my dearest daughter on the eve of your 4th birthday,

I will never forget the day you were born. Mostly because it’s hard to forget when someone slits your abdomen open and pulls a human being out of it. Then I heard your very first cry and tears welled up in my own eyes. You sounded like a dying pterodactyl. It was a screech so piercing it felt like an ice pick was stabbing my brain. And I’m not the only one. The nurses on the pediatric ward all agreed it was one of the most intense caterwauls they had ever heard. One of them actually twitched whenever you cried. 

Oh, but how perfect you were. When you were sleeping. 

It’s been an immense pleasure these past few years watching you grow up. I even had a front row seat because you were never not climbing all over me. Four years in and I’ve peed by myself twice. Then, just when I couldn’t take it anymore, you’d fall asleep on my chest and finally stay still long enough to let me smell the top of your head. Which smelled like sweat and macaroni and cheese and everything that is right with the world. 

It’s happening less and less now. The lazy afternoons listening to your soft breathing. On the plus side, you’ve taken to climbing things other than me. The unsecured bookcases. The door frames. The extremely large and heavy dresser. Which goes to show that you are a gal who won’t take no for an answer. No matter how many times your parents scream it at you. 

Then again, what else could one expect from the girl who invented a game called Fireball? If you are ever reading this in the future and are wondering how you play Fireball, I can’t help you. Four-year-old you won’t tell me. All I know is that you play it in your brother’s room and it often involves horrific crashing noises. One time you were playing it and you tore out of his room hollering “I’m going on the run!” Then you grabbed a handful of Cheerios from the table, shoved them in your mouth, and kept right on running full speed to the other side of the house. 

I’m pretty sure you won that day.

This other time you and your brother were sitting on the couch and you asked him if he wanted to play “The Floor is Lava.” He excitedly responded with “yes!” and you immediately pushed him off the couch with a spectacular bang. 

Speaking of loud noises, you have less of a pitter patter and more of a brigade of war drums. You make the grand entrance of tyrants three times your size. How something so small could make such a cacophony while dressed like a butterfly princess is an impressive achievement. So much so that I had to search for a word big enough to describe it and came across “cacophony.” 

You dance like you want everyone watching. You hug until it hurts. You sing often and loud and joyously and completely off-key. You scream “I hate you, Momma!” at least three times a day. You tell me you love me at least ten. You love books and dirt and puddles and cats and lipstick and Super Mario Bros. 

You have an annoying devotion to fairness. You want answers to all the questions. Even the hard ones. You get mad when it’s not what you want to hear.  

You are nothing like I’d thought you’d be. You’re better than anything I could have dreamed of.

You make me want to tear my hair out some days. You are utterly impossible some days. 

And thank god. 

You are growing up in an impossible world, baby girl. It is scary and unjust and exhausting and extreme. 

And an impossible world needs girls like you. Fearless, strong, loud. It needs people who love fiercely and aren’t afraid to fight. Who won’t take no for an answer. Who have war drums for feet. 

Which is why, on my worst days, the days where it all seems hopeless, I look at you and your wild, tangled hair. The dirt on your left cheek. The butterfly wings and the sword. You make me want to fight the impossible. 

You make me want to be an impossible girl too. 

 

Not all that glitters is marigold

I once was very mean to a marigold. It wasn’t anything personal. It was merely in the name of science.

Specifically, that name was the Fourth Grade Science Fair. The birthplace of so many childhood wrongs. Somehow I had convinced my teacher of the merit of the hypothetical question “Does Being Nice to Plants Help Them Grow?” A fantastic scientific query when you are both lazy but insecure about being lazy and want to make it kind of seem like you care while doing minimal work. 

So I planted two marigold seeds. Once I day I would sing to one and read it books and was on my best behavior. The “grandma is over for a visit and it’s her birthday” behavior. 

And to the other one I was verbally abusive in that unique, dark, unholy way that only a 10-year-old girl can be. 

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I don’t remember my official “results” or even my grade. The only conclusion I took away was the knowledge that the entirety of this one marigold’s life was having a freckled brat angrily try out new curse words on it when her mother wasn’t around. 

This lingering guilt likely explains my current awkward relationship to plants. Why I have never gardened. Why house plants stress me out. Why I prefer to let plants run wild and free in nature. I do not, under any circumstance, want to be responsible for them. As soon as they are in my care, I feel the crushing burden of having to keep them not only alive, but happy. And I don’t necessarily trust myself with the weight of this commitment considering I have seen the immoral results of my former mad scientist self. 

I killed a flower WITH WORDS.

I’m a monster. 

Which brings me to last week. There are always consequences when one tries to play God with Nature. Mine came in the form of my friend Melissa, who very sweetly and generously surprised my kids with their very own starter vegetable garden kit. Complete with 15 different seed pods. It was one of those enrichment activities I’d heard so much about but have never, ever done with my children. I wasn’t worried though. At least at first. I assumed like most other things that were good for us, my family and I would talk excitedly about it for 15 minutes and then forget about it completely. 

Oh, but then how their eyes lit up. For the first time in a long time. They were engaged. They were getting along. They were happy in a way I hadn’t seen since school shut down. 

Sigh. 

So we planted the tiny seeds in the tiny pods while the kids peppered me with one thousand questions. All of which I enthusiastically answered wrong because I know zero about gardening but still wanted to encourage their newfound passion.

“Momma! What are turnips!?”

“Sad onions!”

“How did turnips get their name!?”

“They were discovered by Joe Turnip of Indiana!”

“What do leeks taste like?”

“Like celery that is wearing a bow tie!” 

And from there things started to spin out of control. I casually asked my mom to help me find something to put all these seed pods in because she knows more about gardening than her marigold murdering daughter. Before I knew it, a large garden bed, a toolkit, adorable tiny gardening gloves and four giant bags of soil were making their way to my house. Because a Memaw who misses her grandchildren and who has an Amazon Prime account at her disposal is a dangerous creature. 

Then my husband started talking about how we’ll need a trellis for the tomato plants and maybe a tiny fence to keep out the bunnies and maybe we could plant some sunflowers too. 

And daisies, added my daughter.

And tulips, added my son. 

And, lo and behold, I am now the reluctant owner of a garden. Responsible for the health and happiness of dozens of tiny lives. Which means I’m obsessively watching them and constantly questioning if I’m over or under watering and following my husband around the house telling him about all the awful things I learned on Google today.

“Did you know some ancient religions thought plants had souls?”

“Did you know trees make cries for help? Like when they’re in danger or thirsty?”

“Did you know plants know when they’re being eaten? They send out defense mechanisms to try to stop it.”

Sigh. 

I guess the punishment fits the crime. As they say, the arc of history bends toward justice. 

But as they also say, you can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her like it. 

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Welcome to the Neighborhood!

(Based on only a slightly exaggerated true story…)

Oh hey, hi! Hi! You must be our new downstairs neighbors. So nice to finally meet you! We saw you moving your stuff in. Not that we were creeping on you from the windows or anything. OK, maybe just a little bit. Haha! Kidding. It was a lot. 

Sorry. Am I coming on too strong? I’ve been told that before. Although I’m sure that’s coming as no surprise to you. I mean, just look at me. Our very first meeting and I’m standing here on the porch holding two martinis and a stack of Captain Underpants books while wearing my jammie jams. My daughter and I were just getting ready to drop these off at the neighbor’s house down the street. You know, as one does. Ha! See, last week they dropped off some beer and some children’s books and now we’re just returning the favor. Kinda like a traveling children’s library bar thing. So it’s, you know, less weird than it looks. 

2020, amiright? 

Oh, speaking of which, this little imp beside me is my daughter Mae. She’s three. And I’m just now realizing she’s not wearing any pants. Sorry. At least I wrestled her into some shoes, eh? What’s that? Oh, that’s just a toy knife in her hand. It came from her brother’s kitchen set he got last Christmas. She’s named it Stabby. Takes it with her wherever she goes. It’s not sharp. So, no need to worry. Sweetie, say hi to the new neighbors. No growling, we talked about this. *whispers* She hasn’t really been handling social distancing well. 

So, you’re renting out the first floor, yeah? I know they’ve been doing renovations for months down there but didn’t realize they were HONEY, STOP YELLING FROM THE WINDOW. We’re talking to the new neighbors. THE NEW NEIGHBORS! Well, if you want to meet them get down here then! Oof. Kids, huh? I mean, you two don’t have kids…I’m assuming. Oh good. I mean, children are the greatest things on Earth and also simultaneously the worst. Speaking of which, here’s my other one. This is my son, Riker. Could not be more proud of him. He survived three months of kindergarten with a teacher that makes Miss Hannigan from “Annie” look maternal. In my defense, what is up with math these days? Hmm, what’s that? Oh ha! Yes, it is quite the outfit indeed. He loves that winter hat. We just can’t manage to get him to take it off even though it’s June. Although I think it goes well with the shorts and cowboy boots, all considered. 

And this here pair of eyeballs sticking out of that jungle of facial hair is my husband, Ryan. He’s been working from home since March and has only had one day off in, like, ten weeks so he’s a bit feral at the moment. At least he showered. Like, three days ago, tops. Right, sweetie? Yes, fine, you can go back inside. You did your 30 seconds of daily interaction. 

Men, amiright?

What’s that now? Oh yes, I know exactly what noise you’re talking about. That’s our dog, Buffy. Buffy the Male Dog. See, I didn’t know he was a boy when we got him. Actually I did but I really wanted a dog named Buffy because I thought it sounded hilarious and it kinda just made it funnier that he was a boy. ANYHOO, that loud hacking sound is just one of his old man noises. He’s almost 15 and has accumulated quite a lot of them. I know it sounds awful and like he’s dying but I assure you he is not. The devil himself is going to die before that old bag of bones does. 

Ha! H…a…

Sorry. I didn’t mean to start crying. I just love that stupid, smelly dog so much. I’ll die if I ever lose him. You know? Do you have pets? No? No pets and no kids. No wonder you look so…what’s the word? Not frumpy. Well rested. Happy. 

By the way, the red car with the gray hood and the duct taped window is ours. But we are happy to share our driveway with you if you ever need it. We don’t use the car much anymore anyway. See, this one time a storm blew a fridge into our car and it’s a long story but on the plus side, we did recently take it to the mechanic and both doors open now and there is no longer an exhaust leak inside slowly killing us all. 

So, anyway, I better drop these drinks off on our neighbor’s porch like the good little booze fairy I am. Huh. That didn’t sound very politically correct. Sorry. Gee, can you tell I haven’t been around too many people lately? Ha! Oof, I miss people so much. Hey! Do you guys happen to roller skate? Yeah, no, that’s ok, it was a long shot. I’ve been trying to learn so I can justify drunkenly buying a pair of professional grade ones so if you ever hear me screaming like a banshee at a high speed down the street, it’s just me learning my lesson. 

Oop, one last thing. If you hear our fire alarm, don’t worry. It just means dinner’s ready. 

OK, well, lovely to have finally met you and all. Sorry we are ridiculous people. And welcome to the neighborhood!