Monthly Archives: March 2012

Parenting Plan

Yeah, well the parenting plan with these last two went a little something like, “Hey, let’s run down to Guatemala and pick ‘em up, ok?”  That’s it.  That was the extent of the plan.  And somewhere in the whole grand scheme of the non-plan-plan something seems to have gone horribly, terribly awry.
I don’t mean it’s gone awry in the omg-my-kid-pulls-the-wings-off-butterflies way because that would be BAD, really bad.  It’s more of a holy-crap-why-isn’t-there-a-training-guide-out-there kind of awry, which isn’t so terribly bad so much as it is funny.  And I have to admit, it’s giving me a long list of possible items to present on future big occasions like graduations and weddings and such so that I can embarrass the ever-loving crap out of my kids.
Holy-Crap-Parenting-Moment #1
Whilst playing a rousing game of Angry Birds with the boys (the board game, not the video game), Jadon was preparing to launch his red bird through the air.  I have to stop here to give you a smidge of background information.  Angry Birds are known as ‘Bad Birds’ in our house.  I don’t know why, but that’s what the boys have chosen to call them, so for the context of this little anecdote, they will hereby be referred to as ‘Bad Birds.’
So we’re playing Bad Birds, and Jadon is looking all serious-like, aiming his catapult toward the structure I have carefully built on the table for him to knock down.  He pulls the bird back in the ready-to-launch position and ever-so-calmly, like he says it every single day of his sweet, innocent little life says, “Bad Birds, I’m gonna kick your ass.”
So after I finish choking on my pita chip, give myself the Heimlich maneuver over the kitchen chair, and force myself to refrain from laughing and/or scolding too harshly, I very calmly (yay, me) say, “Jadon, we don’t say that.”  (And by ‘we,’ clearly I mean HIM, because clearly SOMEONE says it, and it’s probably Mommy.  Ooops.  Damn.)
Holy-Crap-Parenting-Moment #2
So Jason is still out of town, and I’m considering voluntarily becoming an alcoholic, but for the sake of the children I’m trying to hold off just a while longer.  And the other night, in an effort to diminish the ever-growing mountain of laundry, I was in the laundry room stuffing yet another load into the washer when the two boys appear in the hallway outside the laundry room.
Why is it that my ‘parenting moment’ stories almost always seem to involve these two?  I’m starting to believe they are partners in crime, hell-bent on sending me to the crazy house before my time.  I mean, I know I’m headed to the crazy house, but seriously, there’s no need to rush the timeline.
So this story also needs a bit of background.  As you know, we fairly recently got THE DOG.  The lovely American EskiGoat that eats everything and growls and barks at everyone who does not belong in our house…and then proceeds to act like a giant marshmallow the second he is alone with us.  Yeah, that dog.  Well, the boys love him, and Jadon misses no chance to tell us how much he loves his dog.  Every day he says something to the effect of, “I wuv my wittle puppy dog,” as he squeezes it around the neck.
So recently, the boys have taken to playing puppy dog.  Jadon is always the master, and Jordan is the puppy.  Jadon will walk around the house and say things like, “Look at my puppy.  He can wag his tail!”  And Jordan will wag his butt.
Or, “Look, my puppy can sit.”  And Jordan will sit and pant like a good, obedient puppy.
So, the other night, outside the laundry room, they were once again playing puppy.  Except this time, it went terribly, terribly wrong.  I heard it before I saw it, and as soon as I heard it, I looked  skyward and said a little prayer that went something like, “Oh God, please don’t let it be what I think it is.”  But it was.  And oh, God.  Why am I always left home alone to deal with these things on my own?!  And why don’t I have a liquor cabinet?
Here is what I heard.
“Hey, Mom!  Look, my puppy is hunking just like Rudi!”
Now, for those of you who haven’t heard, Jadon has observed us yelling at Rudi to stop humping things—because he’s a bit of a humper.  But he thinks we’re saying ‘hunk.’  Thus the word ‘hunking.’
So after my quick prayer, I dropped the laundry on the floor, looked out into the hallway, and to my utter disbelief and mortification saw my youngest boy dog-humping the leg of the other boy.  Sweet Lord in Heaven!
I am a word nerd.  Everyone who knows me knows this.  But at this very moment in time, I could get nothing to come out.  Not a single syllable.  I swear at least 3 full seconds passed before I finally got out one single word.  “Inappropriate!”  I yelled.  And they stopped what they were doing.  They looked at me all innocent-like with their big brown eyes as if to say, “What?  We were just playing puppy.”
Crap.  Where the hell is the parenting manual?

Things Nanny Used to Say

(…That Still Come in Handy Today)
I called my great-grandma Nanny.  Nanny took care of me a lot.  She took care of me before and after school, and she took care of me a lot of the times in between, too, mostly because I wanted to go and hang out with her.  She was a really cool old person, and she spoiled me rotten.  But I learned a lot of really good stuff from her, too—stuff I still use today.  You know, wisdom-y stuff, and it’s only because I like y’all (and because I don’t want to forget it and also because I someday want my kids to inherit her wisdom) that I’ll share some of it here.
Nanny wasn’t the kind to mince words.  She pretty much said things how she saw them, and she didn’t hold back—if something was good or bad, she told you.  That was one of the funny things about her and also one of the outrageous things and probably one of the things that made people think she was senile when she got older.  (If I get senile, I sort of hope I get senile the way she did it, because man, that will be fun!)  She always looked so sweet and innocent in her double-knit pantsuit and sporting her tight little curly old-lady perm right before she belted out some cranky four-letter word followed by what would inevitably be words of wisdom I would remember for a lifetime.
For example, just yesterday, I told my husband, “Speak ass, mouth won’t.”  He looked at me like I was from another planet, but I’m telling you it makes complete sense to me.  I had heard that from Nanny all my life.  If something needs to be said, by golly, you’d better be saying it, or you were going to hear it from her.  Before I even thought twice about it, I spouted this out at him.  I think he might still be trying to figure out what it means.
My all-time favorite is a little lengthy, but I believe it is quite worthy of its status in my mind.  “I would rather put on a tin bill and pick shit with the chickens than….”  You fill in the blank.  You make this statement whenever there is something you really, really do NOT want to do.  For me, that’s usually apologizing or letting go of a grudge or speaking in public.  I would rather put on a tin bill and pick shit with the chickens than do most any of those things.
Lately, I’ve had more than my fair share of those tin-bill moments, and somehow I keep muddling through.  Something, though, made me think of my Nanny.  She’s been gone a long time, but man, that was one wise lady.  I still think I’ll save her bits of wisdom to share with my kids when they are a bit older though.

How to Have a Proper Midlife Crisis

First and foremost, you must declare loudly and emphatically to any and all who will listen that you will NOT, under any circumstances, be participating in any sort of mental breakdown upon reaching the ripe old age of forty.  You must scoff at such B.S. and brush it off as something left for only the weak-willed, pasty-skinned, limp-wristed babies of the world.  You are tougher than that, and you still have plenty of life to live.  You must shout this from the mountaintops!  (This part is important so that later, when you are sobbing into your cheese puffs and licking your orange-stained fingers, you will seem all the more pathetic for having fooled only yourself into believing in your supposed mental stability.)
Next, cheerfully celebrate the BIG day with your friends and loved ones.  They have no idea of the spontaneous mental combustion that is about to occur, so let them have their fun.  Eat cake, open the lovingly-wrapped packages of Depends undergarments and fiber tablets, and laugh along with everyone as you welcome the beginning of the end.
It’s important to remember that during any and all festivities, you should have a smile on your face that resembles one of those spooky clown smiles, you know, the kind that is so huge and not-even-lifelike that it just barely hides the neurotic shitstorm that is swirling beneath the surface.  You are going to look so damned happy it’s scary, and believe me, it’s about to get really, really scary.
Just about the time everyone is saying to themselves, “Wow, she handled that a lot better than I thought,” here’s what you do.
You flip your shit out.  No one will know what hit them.  At home you start to wail about so many different things that people don’t even know how to begin to help you make your life better.  For example, sentences, should be really incoherent and disjointed and full of wailing and snot and tears, like this:
“I don’t know what to do my ass is too big and my boobs are too big and I can’t get the laundry all done and the cat won’t behave and I have to walk the dog and no one will empty the trash and the car steering wheel always pulls to the right and no one cares and my headaches are worse and I don’t think I’m getting enough sleep and I want to spend more time with the kids and OH MY GOD what is WRONG with meeeeee????!!!!”
By the time you approach the end of this sentence, if you have done it correctly, your family will be crouched together in a safety formation in the corner, each one of them holding a lawn dart aimed at you in case they should have to practice any immediate self-defense maneuvers.
It’s also important to remember that if you are a professional, you will need to repeat these steps at work, lest anyone there be under the impression that you are—or ever were—totally sane.  It works well if you let several weeks pass after you reach the doomed age, once again letting co-workers and friends believe that you have very maturely and gracefully accepted your midlife status.
Once everyone has become comfortable with your “sanity,” that’s when you unzip the straightjacket and go all bat-shit-crazy on their asses.  Oh yes, and it helps if you can do this in the most public of places, preferably the cafeteria or coffee shop or whatever central watering hole you may have—you know, wherever the entire world can see you lose your shit.
You will need to cry, and if you can let snot run down your face while someone else is attempting to eat his or her lunch, all the better.  Run down a long list of your inadequacies, and you should also bring up irrelevant topics to your boss.  Let him know all about the pony you didn’t get for your tenth birthday and how that made you a crappy writer, and tell him about how you always burn corn muffins so of course you can’t write an effing merchandising message and doesn’t he even SEE how those things go hand in hand in the whole grand scheme of failures??!
Finally, go back to your desk and eat cheese puffs and chocolate and repeat to yourself, “Dammit, I am a professional and a good mom, and I am successful.”  (As you try to get the chocolate and cheese stains off of the work documents at your desk.)

Ok, so maybe I’ll have a little bit of a midlife crisis.  I’ll let you know when I’m done.