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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Halloween Tale: The Mommy and the Sneaky, Creepy, Evil Ego Monster

 Once upon a time, a Mommy had a little Baby Boy. For his very first Halloween, the Baby was too little to choose a costume for himself, because he had not cultivated any personal interests beyond eating, sleeping, and producing organic "gifts" for his parents. So the Mommy dressed the Baby Boy in a generic frog costume, said he was "Frogger", and made him crawl across a five-lane highway and a log-strewn river to get his candy that year. 


"Hurry up, Sunshine... Mommy hasn't got all night."

The next year, the Baby grew and developed a few interests of his own (namely walking), but making costume choices and clearly vocalizing them to the adults in his life was not one of them. So the Mommy put the Baby Boy in a generic tiger costume, said he was Tony the Tiger, gave him a box of Frosted Flakes, and skipped the trick-or-treating thing altogether, because really, why bother?

The year after that, the Baby Boy was no longer a baby; he was now a Little Boy of two-and-a-half, and he had discovered the world of Cars and Lightning McQueen. And the Mommy was delighted, for now she knew what the Little Boy liked, and that gave her direction for a Halloween costume!

She asked the Little Boy, "What would you like to be for Halloween, Honey?"

The Little Boy looked up from his toys uncomprehendingly. For a boy who was about to go on his first real excursion of scamming the neighbors out of their sugar-laden goodies, he was disappointingly clueless about the whole concept of Halloween, let alone the importance of choosing a costume. 


So the Mommy prompted, "Would you like to be Lightning McQueen?"

"M'Queen! Light'ing M'Queen!" the boy responded like a litany. (And it was in fact a litany for him, for the Little Boy was a devoted member of the Church of the Holy Pixar, and attended services via DVD telecast almost daily. He knew the Sacred Hymns of Randy Newman by heart, he was part of the Dramatic Racing Re-enactment Team for every performance of Cars, and always responded with "...and Beyond!" when the leader did the "To Infinity" prayer. It bordered on cultish, but it made him happy and gave the Mommy about 90 minutes of quiet.)



The crucifix of St. Buzz of Beyond
(C'mon, it looks like a crucifix and you know it!)

So the Mommy immediately resumed the work she had begun on the Little Boy's Lightning McQueen car costume a week earlier. She had already assembled two cardboard boxes together into the rough shape of a racecar, and had begun to sketch the outlines of Lightning's various features. 

But as the car was coming together, something else was coming together... inside the Mommy.
Something sneeeeaky.
Something creeeeepy.

It was so quiet and so sneaky and so creepy that the Mommy didn't even know it was there:


The Ego Monster!

The Ego Monster started out very small. In fact, when it started out, it wasn't a monster at all. See, when a Feeling Of Satisfaction In Your Work and a Feeling Of Excitement love each other very much, they come together and a Little Feeling of Pride is born. And there's nothing wrong with a Little Feeling of Pride; that's not a monster.

But sometimes that Little Feeling of Pride starts to grow. And grow. And grow some more.


And thus what began as a small feeling of "Wow, this is starting to look pretty cool! I think the Little Boy will really like this!" grew bigger as the Mommy saw how good the car costume looked, until it became:

"LOOK AT THIS PERFECT AND PINTEREST-WORTHY CREATION I HAVE BIRTHED! MY OFFSPRING HAD DAMN WELL BETTER APPRECIATE THE HOURS OF PAINSTAKING DETAIL I PUT INTO THIS!!!"


"BEHOLD THE DETAILED PAINT JOB AND THE WHEELS THAT ACTUALLY SPIN!"
"MARVEL AT THE HOOD WHICH OPENS TO HOLD THE HALLOWEEN CANDY!"
"KNEEL IN AWE AT THE SECRET TRAP DOOR WHICH KEEPS THE CANDY FROM FALLING OUT!"
"AND LET US NOT FORGET THESE NEAT-LOOKING STRAPS WITH WHICH THIS MIND-BLOWING MASTERPIECE WILL HANG FROM MY LUCKY CHILD'S SHOULDERS!"

(The Evil Ego Monster speaks only in capital letters, you see.)

The Mommy had never in her life seen a child as excited as the Little Boy was when he saw the Lightning McQueen car. 

(And inside the Mommy, the Sneaky, Creepy, Ego Monster grew several sizes bigger.)

The Mommy asked the Little Boy if he wanted to try on his new costume. Through the incoherent vocal torrent that came forth from the child, the Mommy decided that he said, "Yes please, Mother. I am very eagerly awaiting the moment with which you will bestow upon me this awesome object of cardboard, craft paint, and masking tape, of which I am surely not worthy." 

 (And the Sneaky, Creepy Ego Monster grew some more.)

The Mommy lowered the car over the Little Boy's shoulders... and the Little Boy panicked and began to flail his arms wildly as he felt the box surround him.

(And the Sneaky, Creepy Ego Monster began to get angry.)

The Mommy tried to calm the Little Boy, telling him that it's just Lightning McQueen --you want to be Lightning McQueen, don't you?-- just hold still for a second and let me get this on you, will you stop pushing it, you're going to break it!
And the Little Boy began to cry as he became more scared of the box that he felt was closing him in, and he fought harder to push the car away, anything to get it off of him... 

(And the Sneaky, Creepy Ego Monster also began to panic at the thought that this Creation would be completely torn to pieces before everyone could see how wonderful She [um, I mean the car, of course] was, and as it panicked, the Monster became even more angry.)


The Mommy finally managed to get the car off the Little Boy. She held the him closely and rocked him and whispered to him soothingly, drying his tears and trying to calm him down.

Inside the Mommy, the Ego Monster screamed: "ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?! ALL THAT TIME I PUT INTO MAKING THIS CAR FOR YOU, AND YOU WON'T EVEN WEAR IT! C'MON IT'S JUST A CARDBOARD BOX, WHY ARE YOU SCARED OF IT? YOU'VE GOT TO WEAR THIS!"

So after a few minutes, the Mommy again tried to put the Lightning McQueen car on the Little Boy; again he panicked and flailed and yelled and cried; again the car was removed and set aside; again the Mommy held the Little Boy.
And then she knew that he would never wear the Lightning McQueen car she'd worked so hard to make, not for Halloween, and not ever. The Little Boy was genuinely terrified of feeling enclosed by that little cardboard car. The Mommy hadn't known that he was scared of such things. 


But she was still upset, and the Ego Monster screamed again: "YOU UNGRATEFUL LITTLE TWERP! DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD I WORKED TO MAKE THIS PERFECT FOR YOU? YOU'RE DAMN WELL GOING TO WEAR THIS ONE WAY OR ANOTHER!!!"

The Mommy heard the Ego Monster's yelling so loudly in her head, wanting to come out her  mouth. But she didn't say anything, because she knew the truth: she knew that the Little Boy wasn't being ungrateful. She knew that although the Ego Monster kept saying she'd made the car for the Little Boy, she'd mostly made it for herself.

And she knew that the real reason she was upset was because she wanted the Little Boy to show off something cool she made so she could feel good about herself. 

Pictured: your child.
Not your trophy.  Not your walking art display. Not your Ego Feeder.

As she sat quietly holding the Little Boy and thinking, the Ego Monster slowly began to shrink. The Mommy finally sighed, set the Little Boy down on the floor, and got a pair of scissors. Slowly, she cut the straps off the car. Then she turned to the Little Boy and quietly asked, "Would you like to play with Lightning McQueen?" 

The Little Boy's eyes lit up and he said, "Yeah!" He knelt beside the car and began pushing it across the floor. His face beamed a huge smile as he made enthusiastic engine noises and quoted numerous passages from the Gospel According to Mater. 

As the Mommy watched him play happily, she began to realize that deep down, even before the Ego Monster existed, what she ultimately wanted was for the Little Boy to be happy. Even though he would never wear the car, he was extremely happy playing with it. And really, that was all that mattered. 





 *******************************************

EPILOGUE


Although one's "Ego Monsters" never truly go away, my Halloween Ego Monster has been continually beaten down over the last 2 years, to the point where I don't think it can recover for at least several years.

That Halloween, since Lightning McQueen was a no-go, I ended up borrowing a costume from a friend, and V.2.1 dressed up as St. Buzz of Beyond (sans crucifix). However, he thought that the purpose of trick-or-treating was to actually go into people's houses and visit with them, instead of getting candy at the door. He cried each time I thwarted his attempts to enter every single house we went to. Needless to say, the evening ended very early.


St. Buzz is greatly aggrieved.
The following Halloween, he wanted to be a firefighter, so I made a firefighter outfit out of an old shirt, duct tape, and a 2-liter bottle. (Hey, it was cheaper than a store-bought costume and plus... duct tape! Hel-LO!) The boy put on the jacket, said he liked it, took it off, dropped it on the floor, and never wore it again. 

To top it off, he cried AGAIN when he was taken out trick-or-treating (instead of a firefighter, he went dressed up as a 3-year-old boy). He only settled down when he went back home to help give out candy to the other kids. 

This Halloween, I made him a costume, but I have NO expectation of him wearing it. If he does, fine; if not, it's something he can still play with. And if (like the firefighter jacket) he never plays with it, I'll pass it on to someone else. 

And who knows, maybe we'll skip the trick-or-treating altogether and just hide candy around the apartment and have both boys go on a free-for-all candy hunt.

As long as we all have fun, that's really all that matters.


P.S.  And true to form, last week made his Halloween Costume Strike record 3-for-3. He wanted to be a train engineer, so I made a cardboard train for him, and gave it to him a few weeks early so he could play with it and get used to it. But when it came time to wear it on Halloween, it was a no-go. Thankfully he already had on his striped shirt, bandanna, and engineer's cap, and he had a blast with that. And the train is being played with by both boys, so it's still a win in my book.



image credits: gamesdbase.com; amazon.com; freedesignfile.com;

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Parentateuch: In Which the Light Is Taken Away


Note: the term "Parentateuch" (pronounced "pa-RENT-a-took") is a series of humorous stories told from a parent's perspective in a style similar to the King James Bible. The term is a spoof of the Pentateuch (a.k.a. the Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible).


After the time in which the children were fed and changed and put in bed, the Mommy beheld the peace and quiet and saw that it was good. And at the eighth hour, the Mommy rested and watched her astrophysics show. 

Yes, I watch this to relax. Don't judge me.


And when the children saw that the Mommy was no longer there, they said to one another, "Behold, Mommy has left us! Let us turn on the light and make mischief, for surely she will not know!" And they did turn on the light and play, and this went on for some time. 

And thus it came to pass that when the Mommy heard Suspicious Noises coming forth from the room, she came and found the children cavorting. 

A standard ceremony in the Ritual of Nightly Childhood Cavorting.




And so, in fulfillment of the earlier prophecy she had told the children, the Mommy took away the Special Nightlight Which Shined Stars Upon The Ceiling. And she also removed the Lightbulb from the socket above, so the children could no longer turn on the light. And the children cried and begged her to restore the Lightbulb unto the socket above, but the Mommy did not heed their cries. 


"In return for the restoration of the light bulb, I demand a sacrifice:
COMPLETE F*CKING SILENCE for the rest of the night!!!"


And she tucked the children in and said, "I say to you, I had better not hear you playing again, or else I shall return, and --though I know not yet what I will do-- I am sure I shall think of something. And truly I say to you... it shall not be good."
And thus the Mommy departed from them, and went and took a hot bath and read a book in peace and quiet. 


--Maternal Lamentations 4:20







Image credits: amazon.com; geeknative.com; amazon.com



Monday, July 8, 2013

Nerdy Mommy's Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day

In college, when my roommate was having a crappy day, she would pull out her copy of one of her favorite children's books: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; she would then sit at her desk and proceed to read the book aloud (whether or not anyone was in the room). When she was done, she would put the book back and finish whatever she was doing; simply reading the book aloud helped relieve her frustration enough to at least complete her current assignment.

In honor of that fine tradition, I wrote my own version after having a crappy day of my own...


 ---------------------------------------------------------------------

 
I went to bed and forgot to do the dishes, so this morning there's dirty dishes all over the countertops. When I got out of bed I stepped on a Hot Wheels car, then I spilled coffee on my new X-Men t-shirt. 
"Oh no, NOT my new X-Men shirt!!!!"

I could tell it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

At breakfast, the toddler got mashed bananas in his mohawk, and the preschooler spilled yogurt down his shirt. 


I didn't even remember to eat breakfast.

I think I'll go away with The Doctor in the TARDIS. 

Because Weeping Angels are easier to handle than after-meal kid cleanup.

In the car, the preschooler kept saying he was hungry, and the toddler kept fussing for a toy. 
I said, "Here's a snack! Here's a toy!" 
Neither one even answered; they just kept complaining.

I could tell it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

On Facebook, people liked my friend's photo of her newly renovated kitchen more than my picture of a funny Star Trek meme. 
The cupcakes I'm making for the bake sale are too lopsided and glumpy and don't look anything like the nice ones in the pictures online. Who cares about Pinterest anyway?

A few (million) more things to be insecure about.

I could tell it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

I could tell because a family member told me I ought to be more strict with my kids, while another one told me I needed to loosen up. Someone else told me how I should incorporate more hands-on integrative techniques to enhance my children's overall development. 

They don't even have kids.

"I hope lots of complete strangers lecture you when you have kids of your own," I thought to myself. "I hope you spend tons of money getting lots of overpriced books and videos and toys specially designed to 'enhance your child's intellectual and physical development,' and I hope your kid ignores every single bit of it and plays with a stick instead."

Screw Baby Einstein; this can transform a kid into Gandalf or Harry Potter!


When it came time to make lunch, there was plenty of peanut butter and jelly in the pantry, and lots of cheese and lunchmeat in the fridge... but no bread and only half a cup of milk. 

Guess who forgot to go the grocery store the other day?

It was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

It definitely was, because for once I was on time to the pediatrician's office for the toddler's checkup. The receptionist told me that my appointment was for tomorrow, not today. 
"You'll have to come back at the same time tomorrow," she said.

"Tomorrow," I said, "I'm transferring to the USS Enterprise."

Because nobody on the show has to schedule an appointment to see the doctor. Ever.

On the way from the doctor's office I got stuck in traffic. Our air conditioner doesn't work and it was really hot and the preschooler dropped his toy under my seat where I couldn't get it and the toddler kept crying because the sun was in his eyes and I started yelling at them both, "We're only five minutes away, I promise, so would you guys PLEASE JUST STOP CRYING ALREADY!!!"

On Facebook I updated my status: "I am having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." 

No one even commented.

"First the picture, now this. Do my friends even know I exist?!"

So then we went to the grocery store to get the stuff I forgot to get before. 
The preschooler wanted to get a cookie. The toddler tried to grab everything in arm's reach. I tried to get some chicken because it was on sale, but the manager said they were all sold out. I got a box of pasta and a jar of spaghetti sauce for dinner instead. If the kids don't like it, they don't have to eat it. 

When we got home, I told the preschooler to go to the bathroom, but he got distracted and had an accident. 
I told the toddler to stay away from the DVDs on the shelf; he didn't touch the DVDs at all, but instead grabbed a basket of my old NES games and dumped them all over the floor. 
I told the preschooler not to mess with the computer, but I think he bought tickets to ComicCon. 

I said: "That's it... I don't want to be the Mommy any more."


I'd rather be kicking ass in an awesome black PVC outfit. Can I please do that instead?

It was a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.

There was whining at dinner time and I hate whining.
There was fighting over a toy and I hate fighting.

At bathtime, the kids splashed water all over me and all over the floor, and the toddler ate some soap. 
I accidentally dropped a towel in the water when I was trying to get the kids out of the tub, and the preschooler asked me to read The Little Engine That Could

I hate The Little Engine That Could.


Pictured: torture

When it was bedtime, the preschooler couldn't find his favorite toy that he absolutely HAD to have to sleep with. The toddler wanted his special blanket, and I stubbed my toe trying to find that freaking blanket in the dark.

After I finally got everyone in bed, I went and poured myself a glass of wine. 

It had been a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.



Then I remembered the Daleks and Moriarty and Voldemort and Bowser and zombies and Magneto and the Borg and the Lannisters and I remembered that everyone has bad days.


Even in my favorite books, video games, and tv shows.






Photo credits: memebase.com; http://wikipedia.org; pintrest.com; hebanongames.com; wikipedia.org; memebase.com; theatlanticnerd.com; us.penguingroup.com


Monday, May 13, 2013

Writings from the Sacred Book of the Parentateuch



And it came to pass that the Mommy needed to go to the bathroom. So she gave unto her children several of their favorite toys, and she also placed their favorite show on the television before them, so that they would be amused and occupied in her absence. And she quietly withdrew from their presence and sneaked off to lock herself in the Hiding Place, for she had not had a moment's peace all day.

Location: Maternal Sanctuary
Successful Concealment Rate:
lights off- 90%; lights on- <5%

And as soon as the Mommy had locked the door, the children looked up and realized that the Mommy was no longer there. "Behold!" the children said. "The Mommy has departed from us!" And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, for the children had made a sacred vow among themselves to always follow the Mommy wherever she went. 

And in fulfillment of their sacred vow, the children cried out and began to seek after the Mommy, calling her name and pleading with her to return to her people. And lo, the children discovered the secret Hiding Place of the Mommy, and while she was seated upon her throne, the children did bang upon the door, and beg her to return unto them and save them from themselves (and could she please also give them some crackers and juice, for assuredly they were dying of hunger.) 

And when the Mommy ignored the cries of her children in the vain hope that they would go away, some of the children did stick their hands under the door of the Hiding Place and waggle their fingers in order to gain the favorable attention of the Mommy. But the Mommy gave no heed to their gestures of adoration and supplication.

 
But wiggling THIS finger under the door will assuredly get the Mommy's attention...
though not the way you want.

 
*And when the children grew tired of the Mommy ignoring their cries, they said to themselves, "Behold, perhaps the Mommy has fallen asleep or gone on a journey far away! Come, let us go explore and get into all of those things which the Mommy has forbidden, for surely she is not here to stop us!" So the children ceased their entreaties and departed from the entrance to the Hiding Place.
And when the Mommy heard that the wailing of the children had been replaced with Prolonged Silence, she immediately came forth from the Hiding Place, and found that the children had been Investigating and making Mischief in her absence.*

And when the Mommy saw the destruction wrought by the children, she was full of anger and exiled the children to their rooms until supper. And though the children were grieved at their banishment, they rejoiced in their hearts, for they had held true to their sacred vow to follow the Mommy all the hours of the day. And though the Mommy was upset at the mess that needed to be cleaned up, she rejoiced in her heart, for the children were finally out of her way and she had peace at last.


-First SomeAntics 2:23-35

 
 
*- some manuscripts of the text have an alternate version of this section:
"But being undeterred from their sacred vow, the children did raise their voices louder unto the Heavens and began to fight amongst themselves, each striving to be heard over the other, so that the Mommy did finally emerge from the Secret Place and come forth again to her children."



Image credits: thebasicbathroom.com; salon.com

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Necessity of Maintaining Kid-Free Friendships

Moms are a lot like soldiers: besides the obvious parallels of fighting battles on a variety of fronts, there is a camaraderie of having shared experiences. If you've ever sat around and listened to a couple of soldiers swapping stories, it's pretty much the same kind of thing with moms, except the topics include teething, feeding schedules, childhood sicknesses, potty-training woes, struggles at school, and pre-teen moodiness.

"Oh God, I'm feeling another 'Nam flashback coming on!"
This Fraternity (or rather Maternity) of Mothers can be a very good thing; it reminds us that we're not alone, and we're not as insane as we think we are. When a woman has a kid, she becomes a part of this "Maternity Fraternity", and gains a whole new circle of friends. And for a mom, that's a good and necessary thing; we can support each other, share helpful suggestions and advice, laugh, and swap stories together. 

"Wherever two or more mothers are gathered together, the topic of children shall appear in the midst of them. 
 And yea verily, tales of poo and snotty noses doth follow soon behind."
--Maternations 1:23-4, from
the sacred book of the Parentateuch

However, in joining this new social circle, "pre-kid" friendships often deteriorate, especially if those friends don't have kids of their own. It's easy to see why it happens: as a new parent, you are overwhelmed with all the responsibilities of caring for someone that's completely dependent on you for absolutely everything. When the dust from your social calendar finally starts to settle (anywhere from 3-9 months later), you've had all the upheaval of starting a new job combined with the drama of entering new relationship... which is pretty much what happens when you have a kid. And what happens when you start a new job or begin a new relationship? 

 
Well... yes. But in this case, no. Definitely no.

 
You talk about it with your girlfriends.

But after such a HUGE change in your life, it's very easy to unwittingly dominate nearly every conversation with mommy and/or baby stuff. Not only that, but you've entered into territory that your kid-free friends can't relate to. And while they listen and do their best to empathize, the truth is that they're not part of the "Maternity Fraternity". It's easy for a mom to think that those friends can't offer much in the way of support; likewise, I think a lot of those friends are at a loss as to what they can do to help a close friend who's had a kid.

So, as a mom, what exactly CAN your kid-free friends offer you?

One of the best things my friends did for me was to give me a kid-free zone, a place where I could talk about anything but kids. And that was SO liberating! Here was a place where I could have adult conversation and talk about books, movies, video games, world events, science-y things... all the things we used to talk about before I had kids.  
Specifically because those friends didn't have kids, there was no danger that the conversation would devolve into talk of diapers, spit-up, or sleeping schedules. Spending time with those friends was a vital and necessary reminder that, although things had changed and I was now a parent, I was still the same weird, outgoing, nerdy, off-color person I'd been before. 
Pictured: weird, outgoing, nerdy, and very off-color. But definitely not me.
(Although I do have a Nintendo controller belt buckle.*)

But of course, part of this is that I had to check myself so I didn't dominate the conversation by talking about my kid(s). Yeah sure, I would always have a few funny stories to share, but I was always sure to steer clear of topics that were TMI or gross. (Some things that are perfectly normal topics in the Maternity Fraternity are not acceptable topics for general conversation.) 
No joke, when I was pregnant with V.2.1, I specifically told all my kid-free friends that if I ever got to the point where I wouldn't stop talking about baby stuff, they could give me one warning, and if I still didn't stop, they had my permission to slap me. 



The other thing I had to try to remember when I was hanging out with my friends was to ask them what was going on in THEIR lives. It may sound dumb that I had to make a conscious effort to remember that, but a major life change can easily dominate your perspective; there were times when I would think, "Okay, how long have I been talking about my kid? They don't seem to mind, but I've been talking about me or my kid for 20 minutes. Have I asked So-and-so what she's been up to? I don't think so. I should probably do that now..."

Friendship is a two-way street, and just because you become a mom does not mean that your pre-kid or kid-free friendships will fade away. Quite the contrary, they become even MORE necessary, because they can offer support that's just as essential as that offered by other mothers; yeah, it's a different kind of support, but it's no less important. So don't forget to contact those friends and ask to get together; yeah, you may not be able to hang out as often as you did before, but don't let those friendships die, because they still can have a lot to offer.





Extra big thanks to Jess, Tom, Monna, Chris, and SJ for being those friends for me; you guys were (and still are) awesome!




*- no joke, I really do have the same buckle Howard wears in some episodes. Fortunately, I never wear it with skinny jeans and a turtleneck.

image credits: multiplemayhemmomma.com; theincredibleandy.deviantart.com; narconon.org; thebigbangtheoryfansite.com


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sleep Deprivation: Be Honest, It's 25% Kids, 75% ME

So, I had the brilliant idea to have a sleepover last night. It wasn't necessarily a bad idea, as it was just two siblings who are a few months older than my two kids; the kids all get along well together and we've had them over before, so it wasn't as bad as it could've been, considering I was dealing with two preschoolers and two toddlers all by myself. (My husband works 3rd shift.)

When you went to sleepovers, camp-outs, or lock-ins, did you ever have that one kid who would always try to stay awake long after everyone else had already gone to sleep? Yeah, well, I was that kid... and my boys are following in my footsteps. I did everything I could to tire out four little boys, including pulling all the cushions and pillows off the couch so I could introduce the Younglings to the wonderful game of "The Floor Is Burning Lava". 

At about 10:15pm the Guest Children were asleep. My kids, like ADD meerkats on a sugar binge, stayed awake until sometime between midnight and 1... only to wake up again around 4am. It is currently 6:50am as I type this, and my oldest is STILL. AWAKE. (Follow-up: he didn't go to sleep until after 10:00am.) 

As I lay in my bed in the wee hours of this morning (sometime approximately between WTF-o'clock and FML:30) hoping in vain that the unsuccessfully-furtive sounds I heard via the baby monitor would eventually stop, I did the usual "I miss those days when I actually got sleep... you know, before I had kids" grumbling that sleep-deprived parents always say when their kids won't go the hell to sleep. 


"Ask me for another glass of water! Ask me again! I DARE you! I double-dog dare you, muthafuggah!"
Then I suddenly realized... my bitching was complete bullshit. The truth was that I used to keep myself awake just as much --if not more-- long before the kids came along: 

- "Aw darn, it's almost midnight; I need to get to bed so I can get up for work in the morning. I better do this last quest so I can level up my Wood Elf character in Morrowind before I finish." Forty-five minutes later: "Oh, now that I've leveled up, I can get that enchanted Daedric sword! But first, I need to sell a bunch of loot before I can buy it..."

- "Just one more episode of Dr. Who/Dexter/Entourage/Star Trek TNG!"

- "I'll put down this Game of Thrones book as soon as I finish this chapter." Thirty minutes later: "I can't stop NOW! I've got to find out what happens next!"













  

Spoiler: lots of people die, then there's a dozen pages describing food at a feast...

-  "Let's see what my friends are doing on Facebook." 

- "This blog post will just take a few minutes..."


Okay, thirty minutes, TOPS.
As easy as it is for parents to blame sleep deprivation on our kids, it's a lot like blaming a bad fart on your pet: yeah, sometimes the dog really is to blame, but most of the time, you really shouldn't have had Taco Bell before bed. Taking care of kids takes a HUGE amount of time, and so to compensate for it, we binge-watch Netflix, or mindlessly wander around Reddit or FB for hours, or go on a video game bender. 

Why do we do those things when we could be sleeping (especially since we usually do this while the kids are actually sleeping)? Because we want to zone out or have our "adult" time when we can do what WE want in peace and quiet. When V.2.1 was born, just about every other parent said, "Be sure you sleep when the baby does, otherwise you won't get any sleep at all!" While that's great in theory, the reality is that when the baby was asleep, half the time I wanted to sit and watch a few shows on Netflix or play Xbox or whatever. 

Sleep vs. video games/tv/books/Internet? It's a toss-up, even when you DON'T have kids.


And then when you have kids, Murphy's Law kicks in with a vengeance. Say you make dumb decisions Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, and stay up late wasting time. You don't get as much sleep as you should, but you can function okay. Then Thursday night you go to bed early... only to have your kid decide to stay up until 2am.
"U mad, Mom?"

So whose fault is it when you can barely get through Friday without an intravenous coffee drip? Yeah, the kid kept you up last night, but your body's feeling the cumulative effects of three nights of YOUR bad judgement. And all too often, we (and by that I mean ME*) end up taking our fatigued frustration out on the kids and blame them for the fact that we can't (or more likely won't) go to bed at an intelligent time. 

I'll be honest and call a spade a shovel: I have no right to get upset at my kids for waking me up after I had 2 hours of sleep last night, because the truth is I'm the dumbass who stayed up til 2am wasting time on stupid stuff. 


I'm also the dumbass who needs to stop writing on her blog and go to bed, considering the kids are FINALLY asleep.  





*- or I, for the Proper Grammar Patrol out there

Image credits:http://media.avclub.com; underthebutton.com; sunsetstation.sclv.com





Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Interrogation Dining Room

A table with two chairs sits in the middle of a sparse room; a single light above illuminates a small circle of light directly in the center of the table. A young man enters the room and sits in a chair. A tall figure enters and stands across the table from him; the figure is mostly hidden in the shadow outside the circle of light, and has an imposing, slightly menacing air about them.

With a smooth motion, the Tall One pushes a plastic bowl into the middle of the table. "Time for supper!" a female voice says, sounding upbeat.

The young man pushes the bowl away. "No."

"But it's pasta!" the woman replies encouragingly. "You like pasta!"

"No. It's yucky. I don't like it."

The woman leans into the circle of light, putting her hands on the table, and says in a low voice, "How do you know it's yucky if you haven't even tasted it yet?"



"I've happily eaten pasta every other time you've made it, therefore it's now yucky and I hate it. DUH!"
 
Evading the logic of his opponent, the young man retorts, "I don't want it. I want a sandwich."

"We've been through this already. I made you a sandwich yesterday, and you pulled this exact same stunt. So, no. No sandwich."


The young man crosses his arms and leans back in the chair, indicating the unsavory dish with a toss of his chin. "You can't make me eat this; I know my rights. I want dessert."

The woman laughs and steps back, circling the table. "Oh no, that's not how this works. First you eat your supper, then you get dessert."

"I want dessert!"


"Supper."

In a burst of anger, the young man slams his hands on the table. "You can't do this to me! I'm hungry! I have rights, you know!"


"And getting dessert whenever you want it is not one of them." 

My mental image of a dinnertime show-down with my kid. I'm Batman, of course. I'm always Batman.

The young man's eyes narrow and his jaw sets in resolve. "I'm not going to give in to your demands. I don't have to eat this." He pushes his chair back. "I'm finished here."

The woman raises an eyebrow, then shrugs. "Fine, have it your way." She removes the bowl from the table.

There's a brief pause, then the young man says quietly, "May I please be excused?" 

The woman nods, and flicks a switch on the wall. Lights come on, revealing the surrounding dining room. Gesturing to the open doorway, she says simply, "Go." 

The young man quickly leaves, a triumphant smile on his face at having successfully escaped a potentially harrowing ordeal.

With a smirk, the woman enters the kitchen, unperturbed, because she knows he will eat it eventually. She puts a plastic lid on the bowl, writes the word Breakfast on it, and places the dish in the refrigerator.

He always eats it in the end. 





Image credits: thefeedingdoctor.com; rottentomatoes.com

Monday, March 18, 2013

Compromises: My F*cking Language

I'll say it now: I like cussing. I saw a bumper sticker that said "Everything is funnier with the word 'fuck' in it", and I'm inclined to agree with that statement. Many words are improved with the addition of some slang fornication thrown in there. (And as Mythbusters showed, cussing an be a helpful stress reliever!)

But when you have little kids, having a recreational cussing habit becomes as problematic as a roomful of over-caffeinated parrots with Tourette's: they loudly and continually repeat everything they hear, and they have absolutely NO discretion.

"Hey. Hey! HEEEYYYY! Guess what?! Mommy got stuck in traffic and I learned a BUNCH of new words!"

So when I first found out I was pregnant with v.2.1, I immediately began working on editing my  very adult vocabulary, and began creating "substitute words" to take the place of my preferred verbiage. Nowadays, around my kids, my frustrated outbursts consist of exclamations of "son of a birch!", "fudgeballs", "criminey", "geez louise", and "aw, shi-- I mean... oh nuts!". (I never got around to coming up with a good substitute for "shit"; someone suggested "sugar", but my brain never quite gets it to my mouth fast enough.)

Yeah, they're stupid. They're cheesy. They sound like something a bunch of goody-two-shoes kids at a Bible camp would say, instead of an adult with an affinity for George Carlin's humor. And when the preschooler deliberately wakes up the soundly sleeping baby from a nap (again), I have to exercise some massive self-control and refrain from bursting into the room and yelling, "Dude, what the FUCK?!"

Why is it such a big deal to me to watch my language around my kids? It's not because I think cuss words are "bad". In truth, cuss words aren't bad in and of themselves, they are merely words, and words are neutral things. It's how you put them together in a certain context that can make them good or bad. 

What it really comes down to is respect for other people. As an adult, I know who I can and can't cuss around, and when it is and isn't appropriate. Unfortunately, my little caffeinated-Tourette-parrots are too young to understand either of those; as a parent, it's my responsibility to teach that to them.


Example: NOT okay to cuss around (but if Granny hits the bourbon, you'll probably learn some new words.) 

Simply saying, "Don't say that!" doesn't teach them anything except "say those words when Mom and Dad aren't around". But if I explain what words mean (their definitions, connotations, and implications) then my kids will have something more powerful... a real understanding of the power of words. 
Some of the most hurtful things don't involve a single word of cussing, blasphemy, profanity, or swearing; rather, it's usually when normally-innocuous individual words are combined to make hurtful sentences spoken in anger or pain: You're fat. You're ugly. I wish you'd never been born. I don't love you. You're stupid. 

See? No cussing! But still hurtful.

I want to teach my children that words themselves are incredibly powerful, and that certain categories of words (in this case, cuss words) need to be used more responsibly out of respect for other people, because they're more inflammatory. I'm willing to compromise by NOT cussing around my kids for the next several years, if it means that I can use that time to teach them a.) words have meaning, and b.) you need to try to be respectful of other people when you talk.

So, that means for now --while my impressionable little Tourette-parrots are young-- I'll have to keep saying "Boogers!" when I stub my toe, or yell "Watch where you're going, you stupid politician*!" when someone cuts me off in traffic. But I know there will come a time when my kids will be old enough to be allowed to cuss around me, and I'll be free to cuss around them.

And when that time comes, I'll be so fucking happy!


*- my brothers and I developed an elaborate set of insults when we were kids. We considered "stupidhead" and "butt monkey" to be too juvenile, so we resorted to calling each other: lawyer, politician, news reporter, Barney the Purple Dinosaur (if you really wanted to get personal), chemistry teacher, used car salesman, etc.





Image credits: parrot (everywhere on the Internet); karinintex.blogspot.com; coolcostume.com; jamieonline.wordpress.com

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sometimes It Skips a Generation (or just comes out of nowhere)

Although I've considered myself more of a biker (I could do some pretty decent tricks on my bike as a kid, especially considering it was a pink-and-purple rainbow girl's bike with round handlebars and a banana seat [I took the pink pompoms off the handlebars as soon as I could, because they were obnoxious and kept interfering with my grip]), I really dig skateboarding. While I liked watching other kids skate, I didn't really any skaters in our suburban/semi-rural neighborhoods, so beyond the occasional skating video or showcases on ESPN, I didn't have a ton of exposure to it. And although it was not something I ever learned how to do, skateboarding was something I enjoyed vicariously for most of my adolescence and college years.

Now, it's resurfaced. 

I think it started about two months ago, when I took V.2.1 to the park; it's one of the bigger parks in town, and has a good-sized skate park in it. Although he'd been there once or twice already, something about the skatepark there called to him. After playing on the playground for about 10 minutes, he wandered over to the low chain-link fence around the skating area, and watched transfixed as kids, teens, and adults whizzed by on these strange-yet-entrancing boards with wheels on the bottom.

At first, he asked to hold a kid's board. Then another time, he tried to walk off with someone's board. (He's only 3, so the skaters are nice and don't have a problem letting a cute little kid hold their board. More fools they!) He's since repeated this little stunt every time he sees skaters, so we've learned to watch him like a hawk and make sure he doesn't get more than 3 feet away from the owner. 


At home a few weeks ago, out of the blue, he asked for a skateboard. I told him we could add it to his Birthday Wishlist. A few days after THAT, he asked to watch skateboarding on TV. He sat and watched 30 minutes of ESPN's coverage of X-Games 17 Street Board Competition on YouTube. 

a.k.a. "Intro to Physics 101, Lesson 1: How to Defy Gravity."

Tonight at the mall, he asked to see the skateboards. How the hell did he even KNOW there was a skate shop in the mall?! I took him in, and he checked out all the equipment; he looked at the boards and the wheels and the trucks. I mean really looked at them, not just "oh look, bright colored stuff!". He examined the items like a neophyte looking at the Shroud of Turin: he didn't know exactly what they were, but he knew they were an important part of this much-sought-after Skateboard. 

"These objects are the holy relics of St. Spitfire,
patron saint of wheels."
"And these canvas items are an offering to St. Vans,
overpriced guardian of the feet."
















He even asked to handle some of the boards that were on display (which the guy was nice enough to let him do... considering they were each over $100!) He was very gentle with each one, rolling it back and forth carefully, studying it intently. When I told him it was time to leave, he  cried... hard. I actually had to call my husband at work so V.2.1 could ask him "May I please have skateboard for on my Birthday List, please?" [direct quote]. My husband said he'd think about it. 

Our son's 4th birthday is in about 3 weeks. 

We ordered him a skateboard set (complete with a helmet, pads, and guards) earlier this week; it arrived in the mail this afternoon.

I cannot WAIT to see his face on his birthday! :D


Image credits: rittenhoused.com; cosmicrocks.com (Spitfire and Vans)