All moms should be divas...this one just happens to be in Jersey!

Monday, June 28, 2010

AXE Body Wash- The tear gas of our times

One of the bittersweet things about your children aging is that while you are moving out of one stage for good, you are entering a new phase with new experiences, new chances to foster the adult they will be, and, you pray, less whining. My 12 yr old is in that tween phase where he is just on the verge of teen years. He wants so badly to be a teen he has psychosomatic puberty. He's asked me to get him Proactive, yet he has no blemishes. He has convinced himself he "had one hair" under his arm, and that he has something, anything, growing above his lip. It all sounds cute enough. But, physiologically, his body is also harboring the gag-inducing locker room smell. And just when I thought that was bad enough, along came the bane of my existence: AXE Body Wash.

How gross does it have to smell that the sweaty teen, after 3 hours of lacrosse, smells better BEFORE the shower? Parents of pre-teens & teens have smelled it-- most likely from 50 feet away. I can not imagine how middle & high school teachers deal with it when trapped behind closed doors immersed in the toxic fumes of a dozen or more boys. I'm sure records will indicate a soaring number of disability and workmens' comp claims since its original sale date. If you say I'm being melodramatic, I will counter you must have girls only and they must have no suitors aged 12-20 ... or you have lost your sense of smell. Perhaps from this nerve agent, and you never even knew the cause.

I think Saddam Hussein was plotting chemical warfare. They never found the weapons stores because he had instructed that it all be packaged in 12 ounce bottles with names like Chocolate, Phoenix, Dark Temptation. Tempted? Tempted to do what, self-induce asphyxia? "Tempted" to give to young female joggers in lieu of mace? or pepper spray? Its noxious fumes should be used to scatter protesters and break up hostage situations. Clearly, the next host country of a World Bank session should arm their police forces with this substance.

I've had to start a new migraine medicine in the past 6 weeks, right around the time the aptly named Silver Bullet came into my home. Disparate events? Oh, I truly think not. It is circumstantial only, but I have evidence that this is part of a vast corporate conspiracy designed to penetrate our nervous systems. It is a product of Unilever, the same company that brings you SlimFast. They try to convince us one stupid shake fills us for hours. They sell a product that actually makes us lose our appetites so we wouldn't notice the shake failed. Coincidence, or genius co-marketing? You decide.

There have always been certain fragrances that wooed young consumers. We'll call them gateway drugs fragrances. Sold in drug stores and supermarkets, they are accessible. I remember when I was young(er), there were all these cute perfumes to make us seem "grown up." Love's Baby Soft was the Chanel No5 of my set. Love's Lemon Soft, admittedly, jumped the scented shark. But they were sweet, powdery, and cute.

Then crafty marketers realized there was the whole guy/ emerging guy market. Boys had their own gateway fragrances, modelled mainly on what they were told Dad wore. You had your Aqua Velva, your Brut. Now these AXE toxins have muscled them all out with their horrid fumes. I think I just saw the poor Old Spice Guy drop is aisle 4. It comes into your home like contraband. I stroll the aisles for alternative, less gag-reflex-inducing brands, and yet, it appears. DO NOT be fooled by sample sizes. It's kind of like wasabi: A little goes further than you'd ever imagine.

There's a part of me that is a little misty at the thought of my sons growing up. As girls have entered the mix, I know I will be a nightmare for my sons' girlfriends. I'll want everything but DNA samples before they enter my home. Maybe there is a purpose to these fragrance force fields after all. It doesn't seem to bother him, but young girls must have much more delicate nasal passages, right? Well then, to my son, who douses himself in this toxic cloud to woo the chicas, I guess I will say I've changed my mind. "Go ahead, Honey. Lather up."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Physics of Sibling Sucker Punches

I remember when I was but a Junior Jersey Diva, my older brother and I fought incessantly. In-cess-ant-ly. Bickering wasn't enough. Fisticuffs were often involved. In a move I'll never understand, we were armed with those inflatable things you put on your hands to whale on each other. It amazes me we made it to adulthood. My younger sister and brother were no better. Several years behind my older bro & I, they were two years apart in age and haunted each other. My sister was merciless until the day my little brother realized he wasn't very little anymore and snapped. One insult too many, and he had her head locked and forced into the dog's crate. Oh relax, she was fine. We had a pretty big dog. She had ample room.

Knowing how sibling rivalry can sometimes get physical, I was well aware two boys may be even more rambunctious. Rambunctious doesn't really scratch the surface of my two. Yes they can get out of hand. I expect that. I'm not that delusional. What I did not expect and marvel at each passing day is the lengths they will go to drive one another insane. Every day boasts the soliliqouy  "Leave him alone- get away from him- why are you hitting him- get off the floor- get away from the window- get away from the stairs- get off the dog- let your brother off the double yellow line."

Brushing teeth leaves one exposed to hip checking. "Get in the shower and then bed," always includes a detour by one son into the other's room. Bear in mind one room is in the opposite direction from the bathroom. The one who has a legitimate reason to pass the other's room can not help but detour in (and "happen" to go up to the loft bed) for a quick bitch slap.

It doesn't matter how large a house we have. There is not enough space to keep them parted. They can not stay away from each other. Ever. For a minute. Grand Canyon? They'd race mules from opposing sides to fight. Pacific Ocean? They'd swim to each other, then strangle/wrestle the other under water. Sharks wouldn't eat them, because they'd be so annoyed by the ruckus.

When in full form, the boys are like sharp-clawed lion cubs. I don't know if baby animals in the wild suffer from ADHD like my barely domesticated beasts. It would help explain why those lions in nature films on the Serengeti all look so frazzled. Here I thought it was chasing wildabeasts in 110° heat. Or the friggin' cackling hyenas. NO- It's hot and their kids are bored and tumbling all over each other rolling into mud. Those poor creatures have to deal with summer vacation everyday. I'm donating to the World Wildlife Fund as soon as I'm off this keyboard.

Can someone, anyone, explain to me the chemistry of developing testosterone? How powerful must it be to overcome basic physics? It can defy gravity, because I've watched the motion of one child moving up slides to tackle his brother at the top. It halts momentum, because a quick sucker punch instantly ceases the movement of a 90lb human in full sprint. And torque? Doesn't stand a chance when the arc of movement involved in tossing a backpack over the shoulder is squashed when the 10 year old is squashed. Acceleration, force, and mass can in fact work in reverse as a 10 yr old child can accelerate enough to generate force to result in a crippled 12 year old mass.

There are two general physics laws I have seen in action that hold true. They occur in a slow-mo blur before my eyes each day:

1) In order for the motion of the object to change, a force must act upon it.
It's true. Inertia is very real. Ask any unsuspecting 10 year old in socks on hardwood floors.

2) Any time a force acts from one object to another, there is an equal force acting back upon the original object.
This too is true. If one is struck by a TV remote, the TV remote suddenly reacts against the initial thrower.

Kudos, Sir Isaac, kudos.

People always say that kids should come with manuals. That would be an utter waste of paper. What they should each ship with is a first aid kit, tasers, a membership in the Merlot of the Month Club, and book on physics. I really do wish now I paid more attention in high school. What's that sound in the distance? Why, that sounds like my sons are running an experiment, testing gravity at the top of my stairs.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Seriously, underwear never occurred to me?

This weekend we went down the Shore for a night. To any outside NJ, we went to the beach. The Jersey Shore is not that skanky place on MTV. It's family friendly, so down to our house we went. My StepD and her husband are year 'round tenants so we're lucky we don't have to do the summer-weekend-stock-up each time. We keep the basics there which helps the departure chaos a lot. Early in the season, though, there's not much down there except the "I'd never wear these at home but they're OK to leave here just in case" clothes. Early in the season, however, stockpiles are thin so packing must be done. I've yet to figure out why that never seems to end well.

You know you'll pack for a baby. Preschoolers and young school aged kids will need intervention. It's incredibly disheartening that my 12yr old son may never be able to pack two shirts and two shorts that stand a chance of matching. Until his recent infatuation with boxers, underwear never hit his packing radar. If he weren't wearing shoes in the car he'd be barefoot every trip. He does remember his PSP cell phone, and nuclear-strength-fragranced AXE body wash. Only parents of tween/teen boys or HS teachers can appreciate my sheer delight that he packs AXE. All. The. Time. I don't even know where he gets it.

My 10 year old is pretty decent in this regard which helps me focus on me come packing time. Flip flops may be forgotten at times, but he can match clothes and recall you need a swimsuit to swim. He remembers that he doesn't go commando each day, and even thinks through pajamas for strolling around a crowded house. My on-the-verge-of-pubescent son can't grasp that boxer briefs are not appropriate attire in and of themselves. I give him a list, or have him write what I dictate, but no results. This all sets in motion the downward spiral of confusion.

Despite the best intentions, I always seem to be racing through the house glomming up my own stuff like a crazy person after unpacking/repacking the boys' bags. I'm such a hardass, I don't let him pack six sleeves of gum, 4 bags of chips, a PSP and AXE for a long weekend. Well, I should say I won't let them ONLY pack that. I'm a real bitch right? Every time, we have madness and drama heading out to excursions. Shore house, Williamsburg, Florida-- always chaos. I can pack six days ahead with three lists, and STILL something is left out.

The disheartening pattern is what gets omitted, whose things. In the asylum that is our house, MY things are the things I keep forgetting. In a race to get them taken care of, I'm but a frazzled woman with a half done list and husband starting the car before my hair is even done. It's gotten to the point that any trip secretly includes a Google search ahead to see where the closest Walgreens is. I can tell you every Target within 20 miles of the hotel we stayed at in Florida. I've lost track of how many makeup bags, bathing suits, and contact lens cases I have had to buy at quadruple resort town rates. I can swipe my husband's T-shirts for sleeping, but he gets really peeved when he finds his awesome razor in the shower. I've asked if he prefers the alternative to a wife with smooth legs, and he promptly hits the sundries shop for me.

Moms always are putting others first. Airlines remind us to have the basic sense to provide oxygen for ourselves to enable us to save others. I guess packing should be no different. I'm so preoccupied that they may not have socks that I get completely derailed. Thank God they have belts so their pants will stay up. That will come in handy when I drag them into CVS for deodorant.

Right now, my mind is wandering for tomorrow. It's wandering because even though we only needed to pack for two beach sessions and an overnight, once again I ran amok. One night going from our home to a house an hour and a half away, and they've done it to me again. (Yes, I'm pinning it on them.)  Son1 has his cell phone charger. Son2 has his Nintendo DS and toothpaste to last a month. I, however, came back from the beach to realize in my "just get in the @*#&$ car!" mind I lost sight that I had some things already at the shore house, but not some, how shall I say-- "key essentials." How crazed was I chasing their stuff that I forgot my own underwear? Really?

Gotta run to go GoogleMap Victoria's Secret.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Assault with a Deadly Soccer Ball

I always pictured myself being one of the sporty moms. Were I a Spice Girl, in my mind's eye, I surely would have been Sporty Spice. Granted, with a tank or something over the jog bra. I looked forward to the days I’d take them skiing, toss a football, kick the soccer ball around. Things do not always go as planned. My skiing gave way to them swooshing on snowboards. Football gave way to tossing lacrosse balls. This was good actually because lacrosse is much less prone to Marcia Brady oh-my-nose moments. When all else fails- just hold the stick in front of your face. But soccer- YES- they have each taken to soccer! So off we went to the field last weekend, World Cup matches fresh in our minds. What followed was less than idyllic, and involved co-pay review.

We were at the field passing, shooting, laughing in unison like families in commercials. If our dogs could have pounced along with us the tableau would have been complete. Of course, just ten minutes in, it all started to unravel. Son1 (12 year old) starts hot-dogging it. Son2 (10 year old) fired up to bicker. And so, it began. 

You're doing it wrong. DON'T use your toe! Mom- he's stopping it and kicking it with his toe like this! 

If he does it, he'll see control & distance aren't as good. He'll learn.

NO MOMMY! He's going to break his toe!

Oh, right. I thought of that.
To further weaken the mother-son moment, we then move in to a dozen rounds of "shut up-  you're not the boss of me-  you don't know  -oh now you're a soccer coach- etc." The first "I'm hot" was soon followed by "I'm thirsty." We were now maybe at the 15 minute mark. "Guys," I said "we're 200 yards from the kitchen door- just run home and grab a drink." But no, that would leave no opportunity to whine. What was I thinking? Since Son1 is a bit of drama king, he starts acting like David Beckham, were David stranded in the Mojave Desert. He was soooooo parched, yet so stylin' with the moves. Despite working on heat exhaustion himself (at just the 20 minute mark), Son2 goes back to yelling about his brother's poor form and injury in the making. He was seriously getting worked up about Son1’s potential injury. It was partially heartwarming, partially nails on a blackboard.

And then, it happened. An errant kick, a courageous move to stop it (when really no heroics were actually called for), a just-in-time shot and BAM - Son1 goes down like a shot. I am a horrible mom for admitting I did not rush right over. It didn't look that bad, and he's worse than the boy who cried wolf. He's the PR rep for the boy who cried wolf. He does this all the time and it is always nothing. Nothing.  So he's squirming on the ground, coming around to that fact that we're not calling 911, and Son2 starts ratcheting up with how hot it is, how humid it is, how he's running out of steam. I wasn't putting them through boot camp. At worst a quick jog to the ball. My kids are in excellent shape. "Get up," I shout over to Son1. "We'll head home soon," I assured Son2. All I wanted to do is go kick a soccer ball around. The neighbors were surely calling Child Protective Services. 

At about 25 minutes I threw in the towel, after I approached Son1 (now happy to have an audience) and saw not only was his shoe off, but the toe is indeed was a problem. Not to make you squirm but it involved what would happen to your big toe’s nail if you stubbed it on, say, a hard soccer ball. Really badly. Sensing sympathy going to his brother, Son2 actually started swaying because he is thirsty. Knowing this was not working out well, and certain I saw a neighbor's curtain move while she was on cell phone, I bagged it.  

There's really no joy in telling your kids "I told you so." You have to admit though, there is a rather sick joy in seeing it dawn on their little faces that you actually MAY know something. There’s that cagey look when they recognize you're right but are trying to turn away so as not to have their faces betray them. Like Phantom of the Opera without his mask. In this case, I just wanted to get back home to save the “Didn’t I tell you…” for a day without Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevate. In we walked to my husband looking all the worse for wear. As I reached for an adult beverage, he asked Son2 what happened to Son1 and to him. “Well, Mommy whaled the ball at us and nearly broke his toe because he didn’t listen. Then I ran out of steam. Mommy’s fine. She’s 40. She’s got plenty of steam. I can’t wait until I’m 40 to have as much steam.”

So at the end of the day, the score would be 40 somethings 1; whining kids nil.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Explosive Soda and The Idiots Who Clean It

I tend to watch a lot of TV. Calling it watching probably isn’t right. I always have it on, like white noise for the most part, with intermittent spurts of attention. Because of the shows I choose, I am graced to be in an ad demographic of people who like the finer things. There are men’s suit retailers, paving stones for 2 acre outdoor kitchens and pools, and two German automakers. I find that last one ironic because the History Channel runs many shows about German war crimes in World War II, but we’ll take an uneasy pass on that. On certain occasions, like sick days, snow days and day-camp free days, I’m home midday with TV playing. It is then that I get a look inside the dumbest person on the planet: the vapid, apparently valium-induced, stereotyped, suburban housewife.

This smiling jackass apparently adores when her impish children shoot explosive soda bottles all over the kitchen. She’s actually dumb enough to buy bright red and orange soda in two liter bottles to equip them. Why doesn’t she just give them flamethrowers? She always lets her dog outside when it’s muddy, right after the floor is cleaned. Oddly though, the kitchen is brightly lit because it is always sunny. What are the kids running golden retrievers down Slip & Slides at a construction site? Maybe I should be impressed that her dog returns when let out unlike mine. Her floors are always bright white. It apparently never clicks in her pea-brain that she is raising reckless slobs, so she continues to buy white carpets and install white tile and grout.

Once the spill, mud, or downed-tree in the kitchen is realized, she takes just one paper towel and wipes away the hazmat incident with a sly smile and gentle sigh. A peak inside those always-clean double ovens would surely reveal a vat of Xanax. Those towels must be strong enough to clean the Gulf oil spill if just one can wipe up two liters of Hawaiian Punch. Of course, I’m forgetting she has the aid of one spray of whatever cleaner is in the bottle. Because we all just shoot one spray, and use one towel when a box of cherry Jell-O mix gets on the counter. If the now super-cut looking Mr. Clean is making her that happy, there’s more to her afternoon delight than the Magic Eraser.

Then, there’s the omnipresent idiot spouse. If these women are so smart and smug, why did they marry such morons? They couldn’t have picked a better choice for life and parenting partner? This one really gets to me because I have sons who will one day be husbands. I cringe that they may be so clueless. They are slobs now, but I am hoping they follow my husband’s lead. He cleans any slight mess ASAP, using ½ a roll of paper towels in one grab and ½ a liter of bleach cleanser. His approach is to scrub the slightest mess into oblivion. My poor dogs must have Kevlar paws to walk those floors. It is obvious I do not buy the indestructible paper towels. Self hand slap: Bad wife. Bad Mom.

As a last comment of critique, I have also noted that these women all live in the suburbs. To my city dwelling friends, kudos on not being subject to such stereotypes and whirling blenders whipping up strawberry smoothies with no lids on them. You must be bright enough to avoid these messes, or maybe you scream like banshees and therefore would not make good fodder as a calm-mom cleaning jackass.

I can not imagine how ad after ad is pitched AND green-lighted with these farces of moms at the helm. The ONLY believable part is that the kids just stand there. Mine could shatter a window and just stand there. If they spill sticky orange juice, they walk four rooms to tell me it’s spilled, as opposed to using the cleaning products they just passed.

Well, just a few more hours before I head home from the office. I’ll get home and try a preemptive strike in which I’ll make sure any product with food coloring is locked in a secure position, and an old towel is by the back door for dirty paws. I’ll leave the TV off until all single-paper-towel-wielding-idiot commercials are off the air. (They appear to end at 8pm, so the Stepford wife demographic must get tons of rest.) Then I’ll move through the house to accidents heretofore undetected, and a night of less than happy reactions to these domestic toxic adventures.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pint-Sized F Bombs

Every parent has cute little stories about words their children couldn’t quite get the hang of. At times, it’s an adorable mispronunciation. Other times it’s the wrong word inserted. There are even times kids make up their own hybrid words. Many of these are born out of developing speech skills. If you, however, fear that your children will be in decades of speech therapy, just toss out some choice R-rated words and watch those lisps and word reversals fly right out the window. F’s are apparently particularly easy for little mouths running on adrenaline. The bright spot is your child can learn to speak words clearly, and use them in proper contexts. It displays language comprehension skills too. For what these interventions cost a school district, I can NOT believe the principal does not embrace this speech therapy breakthrough. Just a little.

For five years now, my sons have gone to a school with the word “sacred” in the name. From his first year of preschool through second grade, my younger one could not help but say “secret heart.” Each Fall he would go “pickin punkins;” and I wouldn’t even know how to type his version of “popcorn.” Of course, when at age six he was scolded by his normally fun loving uncle, suddenly, my cherubic toe-head could muster F’s and K’s with crystal clarity. When my brother first heard it, he thought he misheard it. It was at the third one that he said he was certain it was the F bomb when he noticed it was in the “proper context.” You can tell he didn’t have kids to take three times to accept the scene. And, Mike, what exactly is the “proper context” for one’s six year old nephew to let the F’s drop?

My older son has had some challenges with R’s and L’s from the get go. The “Sh” combo was particularly tricky. If only he’d nail it we’d hope repeatedly. Until the day he did nailed – loudly - followed by “it” at his soccer game. Pesky S’s were tackled by practicing them in conjunction with “-uck” or “pi—.” The R issue skillfully overcome at 10, in a perfectly executed, maternally slanted, “mother-f-----r.” Special needs parents will understand my bittersweet combo of feelings of horror, and yet accomplishment that he didn’t Elmer-Fudd the first R. One afternoon listening to me desperately search for car keys with zero time left to get to my office, and suddenly he could cough out “supercalifragilisticexpealidoshis,” the director’s cut.

There are times I walk through my home convinced I’m having some out of body experience in which I’m talking but no one can hear me. It took one, maybe ten, rather uncomfortable phone calls from the school searching for some silver lining in the profanity-laced cloud. For starters, there was relief my kids could pass a hearing test. If you have real concern over your child’s hearing and articulation, hold off on the audiologist and the speech therapist. Stroll around your home like you’re reading “Goodfellas” dialogue, then send little Johnnie scurrying in to school. It’s an absolutely flawless developmental test. I can’t understand why more pediatricians don’t try this instead of that light in the ear thing.

Given that I’m the one with the more severe drunken-sailor mouth, I can’t really conveniently blame anyone else for their vocabulary. Over time, my husband has begun adopting my lingo with greater frequency, so I do try to roll him under the bus when possible. I try to stymie the mouth, yielding a kind of Yosemite Sam sound. But the damage is done. The f’ing cat is out of the f’ing bag as it were. I know this for sure because as fate would have it, this afternoon’s school phone call indicated that some, how shall I say, “inappropriate” words were used in the school library today. But, wait a second and look at the context. Wouldn’t you be pretty f’ing pi—ed if YOUR copy of FreckleJuice was just swiped from the "god-damn" shelf? Just a little?

Monday, June 7, 2010

No, Really, You're Making Mommy Crazy

As a public service to readers, I seek to dispell as many parenting myths and expose as many well-kept dangers as possible. For those of you without children of your own, this is an awareness measure, so you may prove understanding and less judgmental. To that end, I'm blowing the doors off a disturbing pattern: parenting causes mental illness. It has been shown time and again to lead to disassociative behavior.  Freshly-minted parents, please heed my warning. In the weeks to come, you will act like a crazy person. And like all insanity, to the person him/herself, it always seems perfectly normal.

I was at a client meeting last week, and heard this highly intelligent woman say in to the phone, "Yes, me too. Mommy loves you." I knew she was on the phone with her child. HER child. Yet not saying, "I love you." (whaaatt? confused-Labrador head tilt) This pillar of strength, integrity and good taste (I mean, she hired me) had succumbed to what strikes us all at some point. She had detached from her current persona, and became a third party observer- to her own life.

Among the many changes that happen to our psyches due to the responsibility of parenting, my wish-it-were-but-not-really scientific study of women here in the Garden State indicates that sheer psychosis will set in. Please bear in mind, it is not triggered by the birth process. I adopted, yet suffer its disturbing effects. Men may be afflicted too, and not just that pregnant man in People Magazine who was formerly a woman. I'm seeking funding to roll this out to other states. It can't just be NJ's "enriched" ground water causing this.

You will not only begin to answer to fabricated names, such as "Mrs. Andrew's mom," you will actually self-fracture your identity. Perhaps it is the stress of trying to remain calm when you really want to scream bloody murder or punch a clown. We all know that children seem to listen better to other people, like teachers or coaches. Maybe we think this out of body reference to ourselves giving the directive will help compliance oodles. But they are short and wise, much like Yoda, and so children see through this mental device.

Under most circumstances, you're considered certifiable if you speak about yourself as if you're not right there, speaking. What if I bumped in to you at Costco and said, "HEY! How are you?... Oh, Leigh? Leigh's fine." But, imagine me in the same oversized-cart-crammed Costco saying to my son, "Mommy said to put that down." See now that doesn't make me seem completely disassociative and insane, does it?

When I'm at my office, I do not need to say to one of my employees, "Leigh would really like you to come in earlier," which would more or less convey, "well I would NEVER say this, but you know that b*tch Leigh wants your sorry ass here at 7." Then again, I do not walk into the office kitchen chasing them with, "did you brush your teeth, did you brush your teeth." "Leigh said please change the toner," when spoken by Leigh/me, is a little too imperialistic, a little to Cybillesque. "I need you to change the toner." Back to normal.

At night, I would not pawn the dog walking duty off on my husband with, "Honey, Leigh really does not feel like going out in the rain." No, it would be, "Honey (sad blue eyes) I really don't want to go out in the cold, cold rain." There ya go. No szichophrenia. Manipulation, perhaps. But exploration of our health plan's mental health benefits? No.

So the next time you find yourself grasping at the final shreds of sanity, mind your speech. If you are walking past some poor, frazzled, self-referencing parent, have pity. Avoid 911. Whether self-inflicted disorder, or ill-conceived coping mechanism, the good news is that we grow out of it. Or maybe we'll just finally give it up because we see it's not working. When was the last time you saw a mom telling a 16yr old in American Eagle, "Mommy really needs you to be quiet and stop whining." Oh she's thinking it- but the psychosis has waned and better coping tools, like corkscrews, have been identified. So there is hope that this too shall pass.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tattling vs. Non sequiturs

No one enjoys catching you in a mistake more than your children. Parents may bite their tongues from saying, “I told you so.” My husband and I get few cheap thrills seeing the other one make an error. My employees are polite enough to say things like, “no, there’s NO way you could have known…” But children live for these moments. The best way to prove a child actually heard you is to break the rules you’ve given them. Suddenly, they become whistleblower, judge and jury.

Now a bigger person would gladly look at her children and admit to a mistake. When called out in front of another loved one, like a spouse, a bigger person would come clean with a big mea culpa, and accept her fate. I’m just not that person. Sure, I’ll admit to a mistake, but I’ve learned it’s a never ending process on the kids’ part to play town crier. They don’t keep it between us. They blab. We all try to be careful, but there are little everyday things that pop up that kids would YouTube in heartbeat if they could.

I’ll be honest. I tend to drive a little fast. So let’s just say I’ve gotten pulled over with the boys in the car one, two, maybe five times. In all but one case, through kind consideration of law enforcement, I have been warned and sent on my way. But God forbid it was just dropped. Not only does my son tell my husband the second he sees him, but he tells him again and again and again. We tell the kids all the time to close the door gently, and be sure it’s secure so the dog doesn’t get out. So of course the time I slam it, BAM, the truth-police make mental notes of what fell from the wall near the door. Chasing the loose dog is teamed with the, “ooh wait ‘till Dad hears about this.” Thanks, thanks ever so much for actually helping me. It’s not like you’ve contributed to the manic pace. Heavens no.

I began to add this to my checklist of things they do that drive me nuts (it’s none of your business why I keep such a list) and while flipping pages- right there under #362-  I saw it, “blurting out random things that have NOTHING to do with the conversation.” There was my strategy. (Muttley laugh) Tattle, and I’d fling the most random thing in the world to them right out there. I could exploit the anarchy of an all-boy household AND use a page from their own playbook to emerge unscathed by shame. (imagine Vincent Price in “Thriller” laugh)

Randomly redirecting attention completely throws the tattler off guard. There’s your shock. Now, add enough confusion, steering toward my own agenda, and things like the second seventh traffic stop are swept away. Their young little minds can’t process that fast. There's your awe. Who are they, with stashes of candy wrappers under the bed and six weeks of forgotten homework, to judge me? I want to go on record that I am NOT advocating hiding things between spouses. I’ll tell hubs when I’m good and ready. What I don’t need is a 10 year old blabbing while I’m schlepping groceries into the house. You want their disclosure to STOP since it’s the least convenient time for you, and you’ve not been given enough time to work out plausible excuses.

The best way to explain it is using some of these purely hypothetical examples:

• Mom got stopped AGAIN for speeding/
HA! Driving-Why is your lacrosse gear in the driveway?!

 • Mommy forgot to close the garage door and since it was open all day people could have stolen our stuff!
Why is this backpack on the floor? How am I supposed to move through here with stuff all over the place?!

• Mommy spilled coffee all over your car seat, Daddy!
Did you leave your wrappers all over the floor in Daddy’s car like you do to mine. Are those Sour Patch Kids still ground in to my seats?!

• Mommy was late getting me to soccer and she was using the F word.
Yeah- what IS with the F in Science?

It’s so simple, and yet so effective. Give it a go. I highly recommend this technique. I will advise that to be most successful, you need to muster the perfect amount of righteous indignation. It won’t work if you’re week of heart or conviction. I’ve seen this in action, and it blunts more awkward announcements than you can imagine. I’m truly at peace with the way this works. They’re kids. I’m teaching them to think on their feet by modeling such behavior. Really, as a parent, I see it as a key life skill I’m passing down.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What the Hell is it about mornings?

Tonight is a school night. True, it is a “work night” then for husband and I, but we’re business owners so there’s no real “not a work night.” Well, Except for Christmas Eve and Super Bowl Sunday Eve. But that’s not really where I’m heading now. It’s a school night, which means tomorrow is a school morning, which means I’m heading into battle.

A few years ago, we came up with a plan. We would wake, make coffee and walk the dogs. This would leave us a span of fifteen minutes to enjoy our elixir. Fortified by one cup of coffee, with second cup in hand, my husband would go upstairs, and wake the cherubim. He would see that they were dressed in their school uniforms, and descending the stairs as chipper as the Von Trapp children- after they started wearing those dorky flocked-velvet drape/clothes. I would remain downstairs and get breakfast ready. I would prepare the most important meal of the day for my two strapping young lads, and see they had healthy snacks and lunches in hand. We would gently tousle their hair, receive their adoration, and send them on their merry way down the street. We would breathlessly chuckle, and then prepare for our work days.

Now, please, be seated if you are not already. What I am about to say will stun you, STUN you. Our plan has not yielded the anticipated results.

I’ll readily admit that the first major flaw in the plan was me. The very reason my husband was volunteering for hazard/wake up duty was because of my track record. I used to get them out of bed, attempt to get them dressed, and then drag them out of bed again a second time when they crawled back in. A better parent would understand they were sleepy little imps who needed to be gently coaxed. Whatever. I tried to remain calm, but it was a toss up of, “do my kids hear me screech, or do I let them see me toss back a shot of vodka at 7 a.m.?”

You can imagine just how bad it got to cause my husband to voluntarily and unilaterally assume Operation Rise & Shine. His suggestion to have me downstairs making breakfast was a calculated way to get me as far as I could be from their bedrooms during the start of the chaos. If he could get them up and dressed, everything else was optional. We wouldn’t want them to leave without breakfast, but they COULDN’T leave naked. Well played, husband. But they are not quite so easy to contain, are they?

I am SO grateful to have a husband who tries everything within his power and healthy blood pressure range to help. Instead of remaining the calm one, he has been sucked in. When he travels, I miss his support, love, and tactical skills. We are a good partnership in that regard. Deep down, I know he is in awe of my tooth-brushing-enforcement skills.

Each morning is mayhem, and I don’t know why. I should save myself the hassle, record myself and put it on IPods for them to listen to: Eat your food eat your food leave the dog alone leave both dogs alone tie your shoes brush your teeth why aren’t your shoes tied yet you didn’t even touch your food have some of your milk ok now brush your teeth NO I’m not signing a permission slip now leave the dog ALONE get away from your brother tie your shoes-no-not together get your backpack get your backpack get your backpack I said stop hitting your brother goodbye I love you good luck on your math test stop hitting your brother no you can’t have $10 to buy lunch just go and remember focus for your math test I love you bye.

And so, as I reflect on his trip tomorrow which will take him away through week’s end, I can only sigh. I will be flying solo, like Snoopy vs. two Red Barons. I will assure myself that if I can handle the 30-40 minutes of anarchy, I can get into work, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the blissful white noise of blaring office air conditioning. Wish me luck. I’m going in.