Tag Archives: parenting humor

Honey, what’s for dinner? Negotiations.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened. I have a feeling it was something like when you go broke: gradually, then all at once. But somehow our nightly family dinners have turned into one big negotiation session (occasionally escalating into a full-blown hostage situation).

It doesn’t matter what I make. It doesn’t matter how many options I give. It doesn’t matter that it’s Friday and it’s been a long week and I’m so over it and mentally checked out around 3 p.m.

My kids never want to eat the dinner I make them.

Ever.

Well, I take back that last part. My toddler does have a very specific list of things he’ll eat.

Yogurt.

Raisins.

Mac and cheese (but only the boxed, chemically-loaded kind…so help you if you give him a homemade cheesy pasta containing anything that resembles a nutrient).

End of list.

He’s cut out apples and crackers and spaghetti and sausage and eggs and corn and the actual chicken part of chicken tenders. All things I used to be able to get him to eat. He’s worse than when you invite your high maintenance friend over for a dinner party and she’s always on some ridiculous diet and acts like it’s YOUR fault that she can’t eat anything because pretty much all the food in your kitchen contains sugar, flour, gluten, fat, soy, chemicals and everything that makes life worth living.

And my 9-month-old is almost as bad as my toddler. I made the mistake of letting her try fruit and now she realizes what a sham vegetables are and spits out anything that is not fruit.

But I did not ruin my body, and my sanity, and my freedom, and that part of my brain that can remember if I’ve seen this TV episode before or not, keeping them alive and healthy for three years only to watch them starve to death because I dared to give them a well-balanced meal.

So, every night, it goes like this:

Toddler: Mommy, I’m all done.

Me: You haven’t eaten anything.

Toddler: Yeah. Cause I’m all done.

Baby: *sound of mashed peas being spit out*

Me: You need to take three bites of mashed potatoes.

Toddler: One bites?

Me: Three.

Toddler: Then I get Girl Scout Cookies?

Me: No. Someone ate all those while hiding and crying in the bathroom last week.

Toddler: Who?

Me: Don’t worry about it.

Baby: *sound of spoon hitting the ground because she whacked it out of my hand*

Toddler: I can’t, Mommy.

Me: Then you’ll just have to sit there while the rest of us eat.

Baby: *emits tiny Viking warrior princess yell because I shoved more peas in her gaping maw*

Toddler: Can I have raisins?

Me: No…(semi-worried he may actually starve to death)…ok, fine, you can have some raisins IF you eat three bites of mashed potatoes and one bite of meatloaf.

Toddler: Nah. I’ll just sit here then.

Me: (don’t give in, don’t give in, don’t give in) …ok, fine, two bites of mashed potatoes (damn it).

Toddler: One bites.

Me: Two.

Toddler: ONE! *starts crying*

Baby: *grabs jar of mashed peas and dumps it on her head*

Me: Sigh…

Toddler: Where you going, Mommy?

Me: To get raisins. I give up. And to get Mommy some of her Mommy grapes.

Toddler: Do you mean wine?

Me: Shut up and eat your raisins.

Call me weak if you must but feeding your children is a primal NEED. I NEED to feed their whiny little faces. Need it unlike anything I’ve ever needed before. Eat! I internally scream in my head pretty much on a daily basis. Or I’ll die! Eat anything! I don’t care anymore! Just. Eat.

And trust me, I did the hard ass routine. I’d make that kid sit in his chair until he ate all (then, ok fine, three, then two, then one, then how about you just lick it to see if you like it?) carrots. And every time it ended the same way: Three hours later, both of us angry and crying, and exactly zero carrots licked.

So, for all our mental health, I backed off. They both respond better to honey than vinegar (just don’t try to give them actual honey…or vinegar…or food).

Which is how we got here. Sitting around the dinner table. Making complicated and ridiculous mediations like a family of rich people in the midst of a strained but somewhat amicable divorce.

Two green beans for a fourth a cup of yogurt. One BIG bite of rice for the rest of Mommy’s cake. More milk if you finish the chicken part of the chicken nugget. I’ll take the beach house and you can have the Benz.

I hope someday it gets better. And I cling to this hope like it’s the last life jacket on the Titanic.

But just like the Titanic, I know deep down I’m doomed. That dinner will always be some version of this.

At least until they go to college and almost drown in the lukewarm waters of Ramen noodles made in a coffee maker.

Who hates Mommy’s lasagna now, suckers?

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Rollercoaster of Love (& Anger & Guilt & Exhaustion)

“So, how was your day?”

Has there ever been a more loaded question?

Yes. But for my purposes here, I need you to ignore that.

Because I get asked this on a daily basis. Sometimes multiple times during that daily basis. And it stumps me every single time.

How was my day? How was my whole, entire, day? Well, nothing is currently on fire. That’s how my day was.

Asking a parent how their day was is a futile exercise. Because no matter what they say— Good. Bad. Fantastic! I’m currently drinking rum mixed with Kool-Aid and expired Nyquil–the only true, honest answer is “I don’t know.”

Every day with children is one giant rollercoaster ride. All super highs and wicked lows. A roller coaster that is equal parts fun and horrifying. And is always breaking down. And needing to pee. Again. With bony elbows and knees coming out of nowhere to hit you when you least expect it.

rollercoaster1

It starts from the minute you hear those first rustlings coming from the baby monitor at some ungodly hour—click, click, click—and goes all day long—wheeeeeee! Oh god, I’m going to die!—until you put them down at night for the third, and final, and I MEAN IT, time that night.

He peed in the potty!

WHEEEEEEE!

rollercoaster2

He pooped in the corner!

AHHHHHHHH!

He’s napping in his bed!

YAAAAAAAAAY!

She finally fell asleep in her crib! …aaaaaaaand she’s screaming again.

NOOOOOOOO!

rollercoaster3

He actually ate his lunch!

YESSSSSSSSSS!

Oh. No, wait. That’s avocado on the ceiling, isn’t it?

God damn it

He listened to me when I calmly explained why we don’t bite people.

*smug smile*

He just bit me again.

SON OF A…

She’s feeding herself!

SQUEEEEEEAAAAAAL!

Oh god, she’s choking to death.

crap crap crap crap please don’t die crap crap crap

They’re both on my lap, peacefully listening to me read them a book!

Sigh! Life is perfect.

She just pulled his hair and he slapped her leg and everyone is crying and screaming and the dog is barking.

I’m in a hell of my own making.

They’re both quietly playing in the corner by themselves!

Pffft…and people say parenting is hard.

He pooped in the corner again? And got it on his shoes? And then dragged the poop all over the house? And his sister is now playing in it?

*sound of whiskey being poured*

Happiness. Frustration. Joy. Anger. Sadness. Bewilderment. Contentment. More anger. Guilt. More happiness but swiftly turning into anger because SO HELP ME, IF YOU DON’T PUT THAT DOWN, I WILL END YOU.

And those emotions were all felt in the past 30 seconds just while I was trying to type this sentence.

Is it any wonder we parents are braindead at the end of the day?

rollercoaster4

But there’s a reason people will stand in line for three hours at an amusement park for a single rollercoaster ride. It lets us know, in the most intense of terms, that we are alive.

Or, at least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I stop my son’s third bloody nose of the day because he won’t stop sticking his goddamn finger up there.

I’M ALIVE, BABY! WHEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Wolverine vs. The Really Hyper Bunnies

Here’s a million dollar idea for all you budding entrepreneurial wanna-be types: Invent a self-defense class for parents of small children.

Now, to be clear, I don’t mean for situations where you need to protect your children. Pretty much every parent I know is capable of murdering someone with a rattle if they catch that person even looking at their babies wrong, let alone trying to kidnap them. Not to mention, catch us on a bad day and we may just hand our kids over with the parting words “Good luck. Don’t you dare bring them back before 7.”

No, I mean a class that will teach me how to protect myself FROM my children.

Ha! Ha! Funny, right? Except I’m dead serious. Every day with these kids is like Thunderdome. Especially with the older one. So, I need a way to disarm and subdue my 3-year-old toddler attacker but without hurting him. (Because gouging his eyes out with my keys seems a bit of an overreaction, especially since I’ll be the one footing the bill for his eye reconstruction surgery anyway).

To give you an idea of what I’m dealing with, here’s a brief rundown of his most basic fighting moves:

The Piggy Back Strangle Hold: When the victim is sitting on the floor, jump on their back (making sure your bony knees hit BOTH of their kidneys), wrap your skinny arms around their neck and cut off all air to their windpipe while giggling adorably.

The No More Siblings Head Butt: Wait until the victim is holding another child or has both hands full (say, with a giant mug of hot coffee in one and an expensive electronic device in the other), and then run at them full-force, banging your head right into the very place you came out of.

The Mosh Pit: At the end of a very long day (although very first thing in the morning will also work), hurl your entire 34-pound body with all your might at their body while they’re sitting on the couch. Do this over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. When they ask you to stop, just do it harder. It’s part of the game!

The Ol’ Innocent Hug Switcheroo: Putting on your best big-eyed cherub face, ask for a hug. Wait for them to tear up and say “of course, baby” and then bite down on whatever flesh you can get your tiny honey badger teeth on as soon as they embrace you.

The Hot Wheels Fast Ball Grenade: Ask for juice. When denied said juice, throw a Hot Wheel (or any heavy-ish toy with hard edges will do) directly at their face. (This one is particularly effective since it’s so unexpected. Give this kid a ball and ask him to throw it and suddenly he forgets how arms work. Put a metal car in his hands and watch him whip it at your forehead with deadly accuracy faster than you can say “I swear to God, if you throw that…”).

I also could benefit from some gentle yet firm ninja moves to protect myself from my tiny but freakishly strong 8-month-old daughter. I’m not saying she’s ever hit me so hard I cried, but…I cried.

On the plus side, she’ll probably never get kidnapped. Any potential abductor would immediately be laid low by a one-two combination of unexpected face smack followed by dead-on nasal head-butt.

So, if anyone out there reading this can teach me how to fight like Wolverine, but on a micro-scale (like if Wolverine was fighting some really hyper bunnies), I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

 

At the murderous teddy bear picnic

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White lies I told my children this week*

*or possibly just today

The sun doesn’t like it when you wake up before he does.

Mommy can’t play cars with you until she drinks ALL her coffee. It’s the law.

I’ll come help you find the green car in five minutes.

No, it hasn’t been five minutes yet.

I still have three minutes.

Maybe I’ll let you go play in the snow after breakfast.

Nope, we’re all out of yogurt.

Oatmeal tastes just as good as yogurt.

Daddy ate the last piece of bacon.

What’s in my mouth? Green beans.

You can’t eat the crayons. Look, it says right here on the box, “toxic.”

You have to poop in the potty once you turn three. It’s the law.

I can only read this book three times. Then it has to rest to regain its strength.

If you sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” more than 10 times in a row, the spider dies. Horrifically.

Netflix is broken.

Hulu is broken.

Amazon is broken.

My phone is broken.

The banana from “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” is on vacation with his wife. He’ll be back next week.

The playground is closing. We have to go home or they’ll kick us out.

You have to go in the stroller. The sidewalk is closed to kids today. Only Mommies can walk on them.

We can’t listen to Christmas music when it’s not December because then Santa doesn’t get the royalties.

Fish is just sea chicken, baby.

Nope, we’re all out of chocolate.

Broccoli tastes just as good as chocolate.

Cookie Monster LOVES broccoli.

No, we can’t watch it. Everyone on “Sesame Street” is in a very important meeting right now.

Mommy ate all her broccoli while she was cooking in the kitchen.

I will pay for your entire college education if you try just one bite of broccoli.

Nope, we’re all out of crackers.

And applesauce.

And raisins.

Dessert is for closers and broccoli-eaters.

All the water has to stay in tub or the bathroom floor will start to melt.

No, you can’t have a sip of Mommy’s juice. It’s her medicine. The doctor wants her to drink all of it.

According to my watch, it’s bedtime in five minutes.

It’s been five minutes.

If you don’t pick up all your toys, you forfeit them and they are now legally the property of your baby sister. It’s the law.

Well of course you should always be honest, honey.

Night, night! Remember, it’s illegal to get out of bed after 8 o’clock!

But where’s my gold star?

The one thing I probably hear the most since having children? (Besides “whoa, you look tired”).

“You are so lucky you get to stay home with your kids.”

There are different versions of this, of course. All with fun varying degrees of passive-aggressiveness.

“I’d love to spend all day in my pajamas doing nothing.”

“I hope you appreciate it. I die a little inside when I drop my children off at daycare.”

“It must be nice not working a real job and having all that extra time for your little writing hobby.”

But what it all eventually boils down to is “you, lady, have it made and are not allowed to complain.”

It doesn’t seem to matter that it’s not actually luck. It’s a decision we made based on our economic reality. We are right in that not-so-sweet spot of middle class where my income would have been pretty much the exact price tag of a semi-reputable daycare facility (and trust me, we looked at all of them, including JoJo’s Discount Kid Farm).

And it doesn’t matter that it is actually just like a “real” job (albeit with a much less strict dress code). If it wasn’t a job, we wouldn’t pay other people to watch our kids when we can’t.

And it doesn’t seem to matter that in this country we treat stay-at-home moms with the same level of respect we treat line jumpers and broccoli pizza. Because Americans love nothing more than demanding a woman do something and then treating her with disdain when she does it.

Everyone still feels the need to inform me that I have somehow hit the life jackpot.

None of that really bothers me though. I spent many years as a journalist, which just did a terrific job of stomping my give-a-crap meter to death. Plus, I really do love that I’m able to stay home with my littles. They’re great fun to be around and super chill about when the microwave is dirty.

Still, there is one thing about my stay-at-home status that I do struggle with, one thing I can’t quite get over. Because the hard part is also the best part. I have no boss. No higher-ups. No co-workers or peers. No one to play witness to my day.

Which means I can be Super Mom all day. Racing cars on the floor, reading books over and over, handling potential meltdowns like a seasoned hostage negotiator. I’m goofy. I’m delightful. I’m gentle yet firm, like a white, female Morgan Freeman.

But then, about 20 minutes before my husband gets home, all hell breaks loose. Only this time, it’s the 17th time its broken loose. And…

I.

JUST.

CAN’T.

ANYMORE.

So I lose my temper. Which makes everything one thousand times worse. Meaning when he walks in the door, 4 out of 5 times, I am losing my mind and both kids are crying and the stupid dog won’t stop barking. (And that fifth time, everything is on fire and I’m calmly sitting on the living room floor drinking wine straight from the bottle).

And that’s his most common image of me. Screaming, yelling, crying, cursing, laughing manically, with macaroni in my hair and baby poop on my pants. But did he see the 147 times I didn’t go insane when it was completely warranted?

No.

No one did.

Because it’s not just with him. In public, when my toddler is walking with the speed of a sloth high on oxy, do I yell at him to hurry up? No. Even though he is slowly killing my soul because, seriously, how is it humanly possible to move this slow? No. Even though it’s 8 degrees out and my back is screaming because I’m carrying his sister, who is the world’s heaviest 15 pounds? No.

And when he asks me 33 times in a row if he can have a cookie when we’re done shopping, do I explode that 34th time? No. Or when he spills my expensive coffee even though I told him explicitly to knock it off before he spills my expensive coffee? No.

No one sees these things. What they do see, however, is when I finally do explode because he purposely hit his baby sister because I wouldn’t buy him some dumb toy he doesn’t even really want anyway. And all they see is the horrible mother holding a screaming baby and yelling at the adorable toddler who has perfected the giant crocodile tear.

It’s not fair, you guys.

No one sees the good stuff. No one sees Super Mom.

And yeah, yeah, even though no one saw it, I know it still counts and my kids will grow up to be great humans because I am a great mom when no one is looking and blah, blah, bibbity-blah. But this is 2017. If you go somewhere and don’t take a selfie, did you really go? If you walk somewhere and aren’t wearing a Fitbit, did it really count? If you prick me, do I not bleed? I do, but only because I tweeted about the random cray-cray who stabbed me. #anyonegotabandaid

I want credit, dammit. A gold star. Where are my stickers and lollipops for not biting my kid back when he bites me for the fourth time that day?

Sigh. Guess I’ll just have to settle for more wine and…ugh…an intrinsic sense of self-worth at a job (mostly) well done.

Oh crap. Am I a lazy mom?

You know those brief moments in time when, as a parent, you finally feel like you have it all together? All the balls are in the air and you feel oddly confident you can keep them there? Maybe even have a whole extra second to use one of your hands to gulp down a glass of wine because you are a parenting goddess and you’ve earned it, dammit.

This was me a few days ago. My youngest is finally sleeping(ish) through the night. My oldest is developing into just a terrific human being, if with a bit more smart-assery than I’d like (although, to be fair, he gets it honest). We have a good daily routine down and I haven’t had to hide in the basement stress-eating baking chocolate in at least a week.

Finally. Finally, I got this, I told myself. I can do this. I am doing this. What was I stressing about in the first place?

And this amazing feeling lasted for all of 30 seconds.

It was a beautiful 30 seconds.

Because, of course, then I logged online like an idiot. Where I was inundated with pictures of all my friends and their kids at preschool and in swim lessons and banging a drum at baby music class and wearing matching outfits while doing Mommy and Me yoga and hanging out at craft workshops and playing pint-sized soccer.

My kids are enrolled in zero classes. None. Zip. Worse yet, they go to zero organized playgroups. Ditto for unorganized casual play dates. Double ditto for anything with the word “team” in the title. Basically they are involved in nothing that even has a whiff of a nurturing learning environment.

And that’s when I started to panic. Oh god, am I a lazy mom?

I mean, I’m not a complete monster. I take them to storytime at the library. Occasionally. Or, to be more accurate, erratically. Three weeks in a row! Followed by a four-month hiatus! Cause Momma is going through a “pants are too complicated” phase!

I also take them on a fairly regular basis to one of the two playgrounds that are within walking distance from my house, where my toddler speaks gibberish to the other kids and they look confused and I make awkward jokes with the other parents and they look confused.

We also have casual friendships with a small smattering of other neighborhood parents. But getting together and syncing up nap/food/not sick/regularly scheduled meltdown times requires spreadsheets and that computer from “Jeopardy” and an abacus or two.

lazy-schedule

I always have good intentions. This past summer, I planned on signing up my toddler for swimming lessons. But since I was a billion months pregnant, our scheduled activities pretty much just consisted of going out for ice cream.

Every single day.

At 10 a.m.

(On the plus side, if he’s ever drowning in ice cream, I have the utmost confidence he’d survive).

lazy-ice-cream

Once my daughter was born, I’d casually Google local Mommy and Me things or whatever. And they looked great. And they looked fun. And they looked expensive.

The local school district also has a drop-in playgroup I’ve been meaning to look into. Which I’ll do soon. I promise. It’s just…pants, you know?

Sometimes (all the time) I worry that they’ll fall behind their peers, who can already speak Mandarin and know computer code and play on no less than four sport teams. I mean, he’s almost 3. She’s heading toward 7 months. And neither one has developed an app, let alone sold it for millions.

So, I torture myself daily with the question of whether I’m an underachieving slacker mother or everybody else is just an annoying overachiever.

In my rare saner moments, I remind myself that we read books daily. We have music dance parties. We do violent circles with crayons and/or chalk and call it “art.”

lazy-art

We go to parks and take long walks along the river by our house and do impressions of our favorite SNL characters and Skype with grandparents and do “pretend” math lessons (since my skill and my toddler’s skill are pretty much on par with each other). Our day is filled with activities. They just happen to be mostly activities you can do in your underwear and a ratty Miami University sweatshirt.

But most importantly, I remind myself in these moments that my kids are happy. They’ll spend the rest of their lives in classes and organized activities and casual gatherings and not casual meetings and…*shudder*…group work.

And I take a deep breath and calm my frazzled mind.

They’re fine. They’ll be fine.

And that good feeling lasts for all of 30 seconds.

Ah, but what a 30 seconds.