My Love Hate Relationship with May

"Scoot, children. Mama's on vacation. And this may or may not be iced tea in my cup."

“Scoot, children. Mama’s on vacation. And this may or may not be iced tea in my cup.”

 

Morning, readers! What’s going on, you ask? Not much, unless you count watching my dog nap while, not five feet away from him, a squirrel stuffs his pie-hole with birdseed. (Given that he’s a hunting dog, I suspect he may be broken. Pardon me while I shuffle through this pile of paperwork to see whether he’s still under warranty.)

My apologies for the total radio silence from the blog this past week. Something had to give, and unfortunately writing took a backseat to the ten thousand other things going on right now. Even when I did sit down to write, not much happened beyond my mind wandering to the logistics of the coming afternoon and evening , and contemplating how to clone myself into three different people to get three different children to three different places at the exact same time. Four if you count one to make everyone dinner. (Oh, hello frozen pizza and takeout. You are my new BFFs.)

Welcome to the chaos that is May.

May used to be my favorite month of the year. Who doesn’t love bright blue sky, cool mornings and  warm afternoon days, when everything is lush and green, and flowers are popping up everywhere? Sleep with the windows open! Hit the nursery for some annuals! Get the tomato plants in the ground! The gateway to my absolute most favorite season, summer, May was a delight to the senses. Pure perfection.

But then my kids started school. And suddenly May became the busiest time of the year, putting even December to shame. Yardwork goes undone, flowers go un-smelled. Between field trips, talent shows, Olympic Day, sports events, sports practices, rehearsals, and class picnics,  some days brushing my hair counts as miraculous.  And did I mention every single activity requires its own end of year potluck or picnic?  Yes, that too. Take the above and multiply it all by three.  Ugh.

“Come and play!” May whispers. “Remember when we used to have such fun together? It can be like that again!”

“No can do, May! Gotta drop one kid at practice, go pick another one up, come home and start dinner, then get another kid across town for rehearsal!” I shout as I run out of the house and leap feet-first into the window of my mini-van like Bo Duke, my mind already racing ahead  to calculate the best route to avoid rush hour traffic. I fire up the engine while slinging juice boxes and peanut butter crackers, and roar off up the street while May waves sadly from the porch.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t be one of those moms… the kind who overschedules her kids and then constantly complains how busy she is. So please forgive me for this one ranty post. My kids don’t have an overabundance of scheduled activities. They only do one sport per season. We shy away from any activity that would be too much of a time commitment.  But, by virtue of the fact that they exist, and attend school, the commitments stack up this time of year.

I don’t do it alone, thank goodness. Most days VP can get home in time to help with child-delivery or pick-up service, or be on hand to get dinner out of the oven.  I realize I’m blessed from that standpoint, because the days he can’t get home in time, or is out of town, are logistical nightmares.  The days that leave me praying for a torrential rain that will cancel at least one evening activity.

People ask me all the time if my kids do day camps in the summer. The answer is no. We take the summer completely off of scheduled activities, except for swim lessons. The kids sleep in, they play with the neighborhood kids, they have lemonade stands. They swim, they play in the sprinkler, they draw endlessly with sidewalk chalk. My role in the summer switches from chauffer/schedule coordinator  to distributor of snacks and sunscreen. I can finally enjoy the season with them, but we just have to get through this month first.

Because, May? I hate to say it, but you’ve changed. It’s like… I don’t even know you any more.

No Breakfast for You!

My girls Alice, Vera, and Flo would never have let this happen. Preach it Flo!

See, my girls Alice, Vera, and Flo would never have let this happen. Preach it, Flo!

 

Let me start by saying I haven’t yet used this blog as a forum to complain about lousy customer service. That ends now, people. Because today I’m ranting. Because I tried to go out to breakfast with my daughters, and it turned into a really bad, not funny episode of Seinfeld.

This weekend my daughters and I drove to Lexington Kentucky for the Taylor Swift concert.  Great show, the girls loved it. I loved it. Blah blah blah.  (Taylor, dear, if you happen to be reading this, I have one thing to say to you: Please eat something.  Right now. Child, you are way too thin. I suggest fried chicken and mashed potatoes.)

So, the plan was to stay overnight in a hotel, get up in the morning, grab breakfast, and then get on the road for home. Magpie had a soccer game in the afternoon that she didn’t want to miss. I figured with an hour and a half to drive home, we would be fine getting on the road by 11:30.

Did I do my homework and find an awesome breakfast spot, which served fresh locally sourced food, and got rave reviews? Of course I did. I am me, after all. I love a big breakfast, and a restaurant that specializes in breakfast, with a great menu? I’m all over it.

So we arrived at about 10:30 to see a lot of people waiting. I asked the hostess how long the wait would be for a table. “About twenty-five minutes”, she said, not smiling. So I gave her our name, and stepped about five feet away from the counter in the tiny, crowded waiting area to wait with my girls for our table.

We perused the chalkboard menu, practically salivating at the offerings. The girls were excited. I was excited.

And we waited. And waited some more. And got hungrier. Group after group was called, and the crowd began to thin. Finally, at about 11:10, since it had now been about 40 minutes, I stepped up to the counter to inquire where we were on the list, as I had seen a few other people do.   “I was just wondering where we are on the list for a table,” I asked politely, making sure to smile and be friendly because this poor girl was probably having a rough morning with this large of a crowd.

She looked at me for a beat. “What’s the name?” She asked. I told her, and she glanced down at her list.

“There are two people ahead of you,” she said flatly. Sensing a weird vibe, but telling myself I was being paranoid, I thanked her and stepped back to our waiting spot, my ears perked up to listen for our name. We would have to eat really fast to make it home for the game, but it was still doable.

A few minutes later, she called, “Robertson!” and they got their table. And then “Williams!” and they got their table. We should have been next. But no. That was followed by “Peterson!” and then “Brandenburg!” then “Reeves!”  And then some more names. Another twenty minutes went by, so I approached her again.

“Um, I was just checking again to see where we are on the list?” I said, again politely, thinking that maybe she was just waiting for a spot for three to open up.

So image my shock when she looked right at me and said, “I called you, you weren’t here.”

Now, folks, I was done being polite. And I was certainly no longer smiling.

“But, you never called our name. We have been standing here the whole time! We would have heard you!” I protested.

“Yes I did. I called your name twice inside, and then I even went outside and called your name twice. You weren’t here.”

“I don’t understand this! We have been waiting here for an hour. Right here.  Five feet from the desk. We never left! And you absolutely never called our name!”

She didn’t say anything, so I tried again. “Twenty minutes ago you told me there were two people ahead of us. I stood right here after that and listened for our name. We didn’t go anywhere. Please. We’ve been waiting for an hour.”

She shrugged her shoulders, and looked at me with a level gaze. A gaze that clearly said, “I win. You lose.” And I realized that she had no intention of giving us a table. At all. Ever. Perhaps she never did.

Despite my desire to stand there and pitch a fit, I had no choice but to grab my children and leave in frustration. It was 11:30, the time that we needed to be on the road home in order to make it back in time for the soccer game. My children were starving by this point, and we damn sure weren’t going to get served there. The sign I spotted over the counter said it all: “Be Nice or Leave.” I knew instantly that in that place, the power was given to the employees, and that arguing would be futile.

“Mom, she never called our name,” Lucy said sadly as we crossed the parking lot. “Why did she do that?”

“I don’t know, honey. I just don’t know,” I said quietly.

Did she accidently cross our name off, and not want to admit her mistake? Did the power of tapping her little wand and granting tables at one of the most popular restauranst in town go to her head? Did she cross our name off on purpose because she didn’t like my shoes? Or maybe she doesn’t like children? I don’t know. I’ll never know.

I get that being the hostess in a crowded breakfast place is a hard job. I get that there are probably a lot of jerks that come in there and misbehave. I get that “The Customer is Always Right” doesn’t need to apply when the customer is acting rude, and I certainly appreciate an employer who will back up his employees in those situations. I always think of that scene in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” when the guy got fired for refusing  to accomodate the rudest customer ever. But, you guys? We were none of those things. It appears that this hostess just took an arbitrary dislike to my little family of northerners. No soup for you!

The good news is we found a delightful bakery a few minutes away, called Spalding’s, with fantastic fresh yeast doughnuts hot out of the fryer, and the nicest man with twinkling blue eyes behind the cash register. The girls happily munched on their doughnuts as we sped north, putting Lexington and the rudest most dishonest hostess I have ever encountered far behind us.

I debated even saying the name of the restaurant in this post. Truly, I don’t want them to get the publicity that would come from mentioning their name. Should I? Should I not?

Oh, what the hell.

So, Doodles in Lexington? Hear me now. That was the worst, most humiliating customer service experience I have ever had in my life, and y’all, I’ve been to the DMV in Washington DC, so that’s saying something. Your hostess made me and my two young children wait an hour for breakfast, then blatantly lied to my face, and refused to seat us. Didn’t even apologize. I have never been treated that way at any restaurant in my entire life.

Your food may be just fine, I don’t know. I’ll never find out. I will never, ever, come back to your restaurant again. It’s just not worth the humiliation of feeling and looking helpless in front of my children. And, I have a blog, and twitter. And I will make sure to tell anyone I know who is heading to Lexington to stay far away from your restaurant.

Because hell hath no fury like a mother who can’t get breakfast for her kids.

 

Do Not Disturb

 

When Mom needs a nap

“Can’t you tell I’m annoyed with all of you? My eyebrows are all pointy.”

 

I just wanted to take a nap.

After a freezing cold early morning soccer game, allergies that are kicking my butt, and not a lot of sleep the night before, didn’t I deserve it? Yes. Yes I did. The children were occupied with neighborhood friends, so I closed my bedroom door, and crawled into bed, pulling the covers up tight around my ears. Blessed silence. I sighed in contentment.

Within two minutes:

Scrtch scccrrrtch.

The dog apparently felt it was unacceptable that the door was closed and he was on the other side of it.

With resignation, I got up to let him in. I then closed the door again, while he jumped up on the bed and made himself comfortable. If he could talk, he would have said, “Hey, a nap! I love naps! And so it is a good thing you let me in because now I can protect you while you nap!”

Fine. Whatever. I snuggled back under the blankets. Ah. Peace and quiet.

Then suddenly came a knock at the bedroom door. My dog flew off the bed in a frenzy of barking, determined to fell the intruder that was certainly there to do me harm.

It was Lucy. She  inched the door open a crack and stuck part of her face through.

“Mom?” she whispered.

“What?” I said as patiently as I could.

“I was gonna go on a bike ride but Dad said I had to ask you first.”

Okay, seriously? This required my input?

I answered her.  “Fine with me. Make sure you wear your bike helmet.”

“Thanks Mom. Love you!” She backed out and closed the door, but not before the dog snuck back out through the partly open door and ran downstairs.

I lay back down and closed my eyes. Within minutes, I again heard the telltale scrttch scccrrrtttchhh letting me know the dog was back upstairs and wanted to be let in again.

I sighed, and got up to let him in. “I never disturb your naps do I?” I grumbled. He thumped his tail and settled in at the end of the bed once again.

Then? The doorbell rang.

At which time the dog lost his mind. Again. He was now barking like Cujo on speed and trying to claw his way out, so I got up to let him out the door.  And he ran downstairs to protect us from whatever it was that now threatened our well-being.

This nap thing was not working. Now, before you ask me why I just didn’t keep the door open, I’ll tell you that our house is a beehive of activity. Our kids and kids from the neighborhood are in and out constantly. If there was a sped up movie of all of the comings and goings it would  be accompanied by Yakety Sax.  What I’m saying is our house is loud, and not conducive to napping with the door open. But our dog? Is not conducive to napping with the door closed. A closed door is the bane of his existence. (There is not one door or doorframe that isn’t scratched all to hell. It looks like the woodwork in our house was installed by Edward Scissorhands.)

But I had an idea. With the dog downstairs on Super High Alert Intruder Patrol, I quickly grabbed my pillow and snuck down the hallway to Magpie’s room. Her room at the end of the hall is clean, and quiet – Yes, her comfy double bed would do just fine. And the dog wouldn’t think to look for me in there, I was positive.

Gleefully I settled into the cozy flannel sheets. Bliss. Peace. I began to relax, anticipating at least an hour of delightful slumber.

Five minutes. Ten minutes. No dog. I was beginning to think this was going to work. Victory would be mine. Then? I heard the click of a turning doorknob.

In a flash I bolted upright and yelled, “What is going on?!” just as Lucy stepped into the room and the dog pushed past her.

Lucy jumped. “OMG, you scared the crap out of me!* I didn’t know you were in here!”

*Please note I am working on getting her to speak in a more ladylike manner. We’re starting with not using  the word “crap” quite so much. Baby steps.

“What. Are. You. Doing?” I said with clenched teeth. “You said you were going for a bike ride. Why haven’t you left yet?

“I just needed my grey sweatshirt. I think it’s in here,” she said, as the dog jumped up on the bed and curled up beside me, satisfied to have found me once again. I collapsed back onto the pillow in defeat as two more children thundered up the stairs. “Hi Mom! What’re you doing in here? Trying to take a nap? Can I bake cookies? Dad said to ask you.”  When the next child chimed in with, “Mom, she hit me!” I saw the last shred of hope I had for a nap disappear.

I stomped downstairs and into the kitchen. I’m not sure, but there might have been one of those cartoon black clouds hovering somewhere over my head.

“How was your nap?” VP said in a cheery tone.

I glared at him and he wisely backed out of the room.

But I haven’t yet given up on my quest for a good nap. In related news, if you drive my my house in the near future and see a tent in the backyard, I may be inside slumbering peacefully. Just don’t tell the dog where I am.

 

Spring Break by the Numbers

I-75 sign

Our 900 mile yellow brick road to warmth and sunshine.

 

The little cast of Notes from the Shallow End escaped frigid Ohio temperatures and  headed south  last week, just in the nick of time as we were all on the verge of turning into the Donner party. Great fun was had by all. Here’s a summary of our trip, by the numbers:

 

Number of Miles Traveled: 1800

Number of electronic devices brought on trip: 10

Number of DVDs brought: 12

Number of minutes the DVD player actually worked: 2

Number of times I was asked “Can I use your Nook?”: 56

Number of times phrase “How many more hours until we get there?” was uttered: 6,418

Number of sibling squabbles: 446

Number of times “He’s/She’s touching me!” was yelled: 209

Number of times Taylor Swift cd listened to: 6

Number of times VP thought it was okay to stop: 1

Number of actual stops: 9

Number of bags of snacks eaten: 10

Number of different hotels stayed in: 4

Number  of times my sandal-clad toes were stepped on by my children while waiting in line for rides at a theme park: 32

Number of tween girls at theme parks spotted wearing  t-shirts with inappropriate slogans: countless (These were t-shirts that said things like “I Got Crabs from Dirty Dick’s” and “It’s Not a Party Until the Sausage Comes Out”.  Um, darlings, did no one check to see that you were appropriately dressed before you left the house? I suppose not. See you on the cast of Teen Mom Season 9.)

Number of water slides I went on: 2

Approximate decibel level of my screams on said water slides: 125

Number of water slides I will go on in the future: 0

Number of times my son was told not to run around the pool: 5

Number of band-aids used on my son after he fell as a result of running around the pool: 5

 

Make no mistake,  in case you think I didn’t have a good time, I did. More importantly, my kids had a great time, and seeing their joy at going on  roller coasters, eating cotton candy, and playing in the ocean more than makes up for some of the minor headaches of traveling with children.  So in that vein I’d like to add…

Number of vacation days I was blessed to enjoy with my family: 10

And I’d do it again tomorrow if I could. Happy Spring, everyone!

 

The Bagel from Hell

 

It's a bagel, not quantum physics.

It’s a bagel, not quantum physics.

 

Scene: Hotel, spring break.  Continental breakfast bar. 8:00 a.m. I haven’t yet had coffee.  This fact is important.

Five: Can I have a bagel?

Me: Of course you can.

Five: I don’t know where the bagels are.

Me: I’ll come with you and help you find them.

I get up to search the breakfast bar.

Me: Oh, look, here they are.

Five: That has seeds all over it. I don’t want it.

Me: That’s the only kind they have. They’re just sesame seeds. If you want a bagel, that’s your only choice.

Five: Okay. I’ll have it.

Me: It’s really big. How about you just have half?

I glance around for a knife. Meanwhile, the line behind us grows longer. The person next in line offers his knife.

Using an elaborate system of tongs and butter knife, I attempt to remove half of the bagel without touching it so it doesn’t go to waste, while the line of impatient breakfast eaters behind grows even longer. Finally successful, I am unsure what to do with the guy’s knife. I attempt to hand it back to him but now he looks at the knife like it is carrying the Black Death  so I put it down.

Five carries the  bagel to the table. Sits down. And then…

Five: Can I get it toasted? I want it toasted, Mom.

Me: Yes, you can toast it.

Five: But, I don’t know where the toaster is!

I point out the toaster, and he goes off to toast his bagel.

A minute later, he is back, looking glum.

Five:  Mom, I don’t know how to use that toaster.

Husband gets up to help him toast the bagel. They come back in a few minutes. Victory! Oh, wait…

Five:Mom, I want butter on my bagel!

At this point I’m growing slightly impatient with the whole process of the bagel. This next bit may have been said with clenched teeth, but I’m not sure.)

Me: Then. Go. Get. Butter.

He goes to get butter, comes back. Attempts to put butter on bagel unsuccessfully.

Five: Mom, I can’t spread this butter!

I reach over and put the butter on the bagel. Kid settles in to eat buttered, toasted bagel. Happy, he swings his feet while he chews.

One minute and two bites later:

Five: Mom, I don’t want this anymore.

Aaaaand, scene.

 

Happy Spring Break, everyone! May your week be sunny, or at least less complicated than a kindergartener ordering breakfast.

Maybe He Was Waiting for the Throw Up Fairies

 

"Psst... so you know, when you get home from this business trip I'm leaving for Hawaii for two weeks."

“Psst… so you know, when you get home from this business trip I’m leaving for Hawaii for two weeks.”

Hi. You might want to finish whatever you’re eating before you read this. That looks delicious, by the way.

All set? Good. As a blogger, sometimes I am stuck for ideas in terms of what to write about. And sometimes, like last night? The posts practically write themselves.

The VP has been out of town on business, and by last night I felt wrung out. So to try to make things easier, instead of cooking I took the kids to a Chinese restaurant to get take-out. Because when he’s away, I am all about making my path easier. So far so good, right?

But… while I was paying, my five year old son came running up to me with tears streaming down his face. When I asked him what was wrong,  he said he had choked on a piece of candy.

Unbeknownst to me, he had grabbed a peppermint out of the dish while on his way over to look at the fish in the tank. He’s not supposed to eat hard candies, due to his horrific gag reflex that, on a regular basis,  makes me think he’s going to choke to death. One of my biggest fears, but I digress.

He was talking, which I knew meant he wasn’t in imminent danger, but he was still crying and saying “It’s still in there!” and was in a panic, and I didn’t really know what was going on. I tried to figure out how to help him while comforting him at the same time, because he was really upset, when all of a sudden, his eyes got wide and this happened:

Blaaaaaaaaaaarrrrgghhhhh!”

Yep. The kid upchucked all over the carpet.

Not a little bit. A lot. As in, the entire contents of his stomach. Oh, hello, gag reflex. Nice to see you too.

So now I was trying to comfort my son while apologizing to the manager for the copious pile of barf he had just deposited. And the unholy mess was right in front of the door to the restaurant. I was concerned for my son, and now I was dreadfully embarrassed. I of course offered to clean up the throw-up. As you do.

The manager said no. He was very polite about it. “No, no. That’s okay. Don’t worry about it”, he said, smiling.

My son was starting to feel better. The nice manager brought him some water.

And the vomit still sat in the entryway.

Again I offered to clean it up, and again the manager said no, and waved it off.

Surely if the manager wasn’t going to let me clean it up,  that meant he was planning on doing it, right? He was going to run get some of that sawdust stuff like they use in schools, or maybe some carpet cleaner? Some paper towels? Anything?

No. The vomit continued to sit right where my son left it. Was the guy waiting for fairies to come clean it up?

Customers came in, and I held my son with one arm while I weakly gestured toward the mess with the other, indicating that they should go around. I didn’t feel comfortable articulating it, though. I’m pretty sure no one wants to hear “Hey! Watch out for the vomit!” when they arrive at a restaurant for dinner.

Mmm. Who wants egg-drop soup?

My son was  feeling better, even giggling with his sister, and we should have been leaving, but I just couldn’t. There had to be something I could do, so I started surreptitiously checking the counter and our bag of take-out for napkins. But there was nothing.

The vomit was still in the entryway. At this point it had been almost ten minutes.

And the manager just continued to sit behind the desk, smiling beatifically.

I tried one more time. “Are you sure you don’t want me to take care of this? If you can just bring me a rag or some napkins, I can clean it up…”

And then the manager said this:

“No, no. You don’t have to clean it. They clean every night when we close.” And he smiled some more.

Um, what?

I pray that I am wrong, but it sounded to me like the vomit was going to stay in the entryway for the next four hours, until the cleaning crew took care of it.

In the end, we finally left, leaving an unfortunate pile of throw-up in the doorway during the dinner rush.

The good news is, my son is fine. He’s not allowed to eat peppermints until he’s 21, but he’s fine. And I still can’t figure out why the guy wouldn’t let me clean it up, or didn’t clean it up himself.

So to anyone who lives in our area and might have gone out for Chinese food last night:  my sincerest apologies. It was us. I hope it didn’t get on your shoes. And from now on I promise I’m keeping a roll of paper towels and a bottle of carpet cleaner in the car.

If you liked this post, please consider voting for me for Blogger Idol! Voting is now live, and runs through 10/31 at 12:00 am CST. I’m in the top 8, but I need your support if I am going to remain in the competition for another week. Thank you!

Notes from the Shallow End

 

She Blinded Me with Science

 

Wilifred glumly realized that her capacity for retaining scientific facts now approximated Swiss cheese.

Winifred glumly realized that her capacity for retaining scientific facts now approximated Swiss cheese.

 

Please indulge me while I go back in time and have a talk with the me from last week.

Hi, it’s me. I mean you. Or whatever. Just listen up for a sec. You’re about to get an e-mail asking for volunteers for a school event. Don’t be so quick to reply “yes”. You need to know what you’re getting into first. Because here’s the thing: it involves science. Not only does it involve science, it will require you to get up at the stinkin’ crack of dawn (“Stinkin’ crack”. Hehehe.) Where was I?

Right.  Science. Do you remember 7th grade science? No? That’s because you have blocked it out, my friend. Let me jog your memory just a bit: It involved a very mean hulking science teacher man who yelled, yelled, at little tiny 80 pound seventh grade girls because they couldn’t memorize the freaking periodic table.

You suck at science.

Here’s what’s going to happen. You are going to arrive at an ungodly hour (it will still be dark out) clutching a cup of coffee and stand there in a freezing cold gymnasium (hoping that someone will please shut the goddam double doors thankyouverymuch) with the other hapless volunteer parents.

You will expect that the science museum will have provided a knowledgeable staff to interact with the children, and to answer the children’s questions. Science-y questions. Because why?

I’ll say it again. You suck at science.

But you will assemble in front of  the one staff member that the science museum has sent, hereafter known as Perky Science Museum Lady, and she will begin leading you all around to the various displays.  She will explain in great detail how they work, the goal of the activity, and the scientific concepts the children are supposed to learn, along with Very Thoughtful Questions to ask the children as they are up to their little elbows in building a wind turbine or calculating gas mileage.  Unfortunately, all you will hear is this: Waah wah wah wah kinetic energy wah wah wah electrical current wah wah wah wah wah wah non-renewable resource blah blah blah etc.

It will begin to dawn on you that you may be in over your head. Because your mom brain is incapable of retaining any information of greater import than the name of Holly Madison’s new baby. (It’s Rainbow. Duh. No, you read that wrong. It’s not Rainbowduh. There was a period. But that would be hilarious, right?)

See what I mean? Your brain isn’t geared for science. Anyway, you will begin to panic a bit and consider faking a tiny stroke so you can leave.

You will be assigned a station. Then? You will be handed a binder, which contains all of the scientific information relevant to that station. Your station, complete with hand-cranked generator, will be geared toward espousing the virtues of those squiggly light bulbs that you hate because they give  your house a dim glow  more reminiscent of   “Cold War Soviet Union” than “House Beautiful”.  (Can I get an Amen for proper lighting please? Thank you.)

The children will file in and will beeline for your station, and you will gamely try to talk about “why this light bulb uses less energy than the other one” but then you will think, “Oh, wait, maybe it’s the same energy, but not as much power? Or the same power, but less energy? Or same power and energy, but more efficient?” and you will try to subtly check the binder because you remember seeing a formula in there somewhere.

And as you’re checking the binder and trying to make sure the kids take turns turning the crank to make the light bulb go on, you will sense a presence over your shoulder. It will be Perky Science Museum Lady, and she will be helpfully telling the children all sorts of smart-sounding information that was in the binder which you should have told them but which you have forgotten already. She is Science-Shaming you.  Because obviously you cannot be trusted with these young minds. And you will feel like you have disappointed Perky Science Museum Lady greatly.

Did I forget to mention that you will sign up to be a full-day volunteer? Rookie mistake.  Sign up for the half day, fool! You’ll be home by lunchtime!

All day the children will keep coming like pilgrims to Mecca, and by the way approximately 38% of them will be picking their noses. Like some sort of gross tic. And you will be praying that an errant booger doesn’t find its way onto anything you have to touch.

Eventually you will give up on trying to teach the children anything science related when you realize they aren’t actually listening to a single word you say. Because like you, most of them have the attention span of a sand flea and once they have turned the crank to see the light bulb go on, their eyes glaze over and they hear waah wah wah waah energy efficient waah wah wah. All they want to do is hightail it to the next activity.

So you will turn it into a game of “Let’s pretend the power is out all over the world and it’s up to you to turn this crank to keep the power on and unless you do everyone on the planet will perish!” Which the kids will love, but which will cause Perky Science Museum Lady to sidle by and give you the stink-eye.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know what you’re getting into before you say yes and hit “send”. You’ll survive, and at the very least, in the end you’ll have a general understanding of how light bulbs work.

I’m pretty sure the quadratic equation is involved somehow.

Love,

Me

Don’t Set Your Sitter’s Porch on Fire

 

"It's really quite simple. all you have to do is make them some mac & cheese and have them in bed by 9:00."

“It’s really quite simple.  All you have to do is make them some mac & cheese and have them in bed by 9:00.”

 

Oh, my friends, it’s almost that time of year again. Time for college acceptances to start rolling in, thus sweeping your favorite babysitters along in their thoughtless wake. That’s right, some of your sitters are seniors in high school, and a good number of them sadly will not be available any more come fall. You can’t stop it. Begging and pleading “Please don’t leeeeeave meeee!”  doesn’t help, nor will a lecture on how “Pre-Med is so passé, I heard child care is the hot career nowadays. Specifically care of my children.”

What can we do? On the day of the scheduled departure, do we plant ourselves in a  lawn chair behind their packed mini-van and refuse to move, in a sort of “Occupy Driveway” protest? Probably not. Unless, you know, you’re into that sort of thing. Besides, you probably  need her to babysit when she comes back for the summer. Best not to torch that bridge behind you, if you know what I mean.

But some very smart people a while back, I think it was Johnson & Johnson, or maybe Captain & Tenille, put together a very helpful list of the stages of grief that one goes through upon the departure of your best babysitter for college. I’m sharing them with you because I’m super helpful that way, and also because I kind of will need some sitters next fall, so if you happen know anyone… you know the drill.      

 

Stage 1: Denial

Disbelief and shock are common upon  learning of the impending departure of your best babysitter.  You may deny the reality of the loss of the babysitter at some level, in order to avoid pain. This may come in the form of saying to yourself, “There is no f*#&ing way she is a senior this year. It’s impossible! I… I mean *she*… can’t be that old! I’m positive she’s only a junior!”  Don’t worry, this is normal. What is not normal is sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting “la la la la I can’t hear you!” when she tries to tell you where she has been accepted to college.

Stage 2: Anger

Frustration and anger are two emotions very likely to come next when you learn your sitter is going away to college. After all, there are very lovely community colleges quite close by that would allow her to live at home while still making her available for babysitting saving her parents money. It is unwise to act on these emotions, however, as that could lead to unsavory acts such as stealing college acceptance letters out of her mailbox, lighting them on fire, and leaving them on her front porch with a note pinned to the door that says “Matriculate this, Miss Smartypants! While it is normal to want to release pent-up emotion, we suggest taking it out on your husband  a nice activity such as kickboxing.

Stage 3: Bargaining

Do any of these sound familiar? “I will never stay out past the time when I said I’d be home again if you just bring her back! Wait, I’ll pay her more! I’ll spring for the deluxe cable package! I’ll get a subscription to People Magazine just for her!” If so, this is called bargaining, a hopeless, desperate attempt to make a deal with a higher power to reverse the inevitable course of action. Spring for the deluxe cable package and People Magazine anyway, though – you’ll need entertainment at home because you’ll never go  anywhere ever again.

Stage 4: Depression

At this point, a long period of sadness, emptiness, and despair is likely. Well-meaning but sadly delusional people will try to be helpful. “It’s time to let go and move on!” they say. “You’ll find another babysitter!” they say. “Put the box of wine down and take a shower!” they say. This type of unwelcome encouragement  is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving. The only thing that is helpful? Is the name and number of another goddamn sitter thank you very much.

Stage 5: Acceptance

In the last stage of grief over the departure of your favorite babysitter, you will learn to accept your situation.  Given the agonizing loss you have experienced, you can never completely return to the you that existed before your favorite babysitter so selfishly left for college. You realize you  will find another babysitter soon. And although you will start to look ahead and actually plan a night out once in a while, you will unfortunately always be left with the knowledge that they all leave. Because, let’s face it. You want someone watching your kids that has smarts and ambition. The 42 year old still living in her parents’ basement who works part time at the Slushee-Freeze and lists her hobbies as “gaming and catfishing”  is not gonna cut it.

 

I hope this has been helpful to you as you process your loss. By the way, I was serious about needing the names of a couple of sitters. I’ll be waiting by the phone with a box of wine.

 

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: What’s Your Parenting Style?

 

Pauilne waited eagerly for the day when this would become the latest trend in parenting.

Pauline waited eagerly for the day when this would become the latest trend in parenting.

Well readers, another day, another parenting label. The latest to hit the lexicon? Apparently it’s “Snow Plow Parenting”. I hadn’t heard of it before yesterday – apparently it’s the kind of parenting where you remove obstacles from your child’s path to make things easier for them. So, Snow Plow parent,   Helicopter parent, Bulldozer parent… is this what we’re doing now? Giving parents labels based on modes of transportation? Because I can totally do that. Here are some others that haven’t quite caught on yet, but are certain, certain I tell you, to be the next big thing. Look for them  on a segment of the Today Show in the near future, featuring a very concerned looking Savannah Guthrie.

*note – the reason all of the following are references to moms is that any time a new parenting label comes out it never ever seems to reference dads. Dads have no labels. I don’t know why. Send all of your complaints to Savannah Guthrie.      

Sanitation Truck Parenting– Follows behind her child and cleans up messes, literally and figuratively.  Despite her better judgment, often seen in restaurants. She’s the one asking for paper towels or extra napkins.  At the park, she’s the mom whose kid just punched your kid or stole his shovel.  Distinctive characteristics include a harried expression,   and an apology always on her lips.

Acela Train Parenting – A type of parenting based on efficiency, organization, and a strict schedule. Seen in parking lots trailing many kids behind, hands linked. Half of them aren’t hers, but she damn sure has juice boxes and snacks for all of them.  Distinctive characteristics: a shame inducing fully stocked first aid kit from which she is able to produce the exact right size of Princess or Batman Band-Aid at a moment’s notice. You, however, will be lucky to produce a used Kleenex to staunch blood flow.

Flatbed Trailer Parenting – Often seen loaded down with all of her kids’ stuff. While her kids skip happily ahead, she struggles to balance the cooler, pool bag, floatie toys, and towels.  If you get behind her in line at the pool sign-in desk, you’re likely to help her pick her shit up that she drops while searching for her passes.  Distinctive characteristics:  Two different shoes.

Taxi Cab Parenting: This type of parenting is based entirely on dropping their kids off at other people’s houses. They will drop their kid off at your house on Friday afternoon, and won’t come back until you finally reach them sometime Sunday after dinner. Distinctive characteristics: Disappearing taillights, unanswered cell phones.

United Van Lines Parenting – A parenting style based on hauling her kids and their stuff all over the country. (Also known as Dance moms, Select sports moms, or Pageant moms) Distinctive characteristic: Mini-van loaded with stickers touting her kids’ activities, iPhone embedded into hand. Caution: May or may not have reality show cameras trailing behind.

Fed-Ex Parenting – A parenting style based entirely on delivering her children places on time. She is constantly overscheduled, especially around the holidays. Distinctive characteristics: A well-used minivan, an ever-present diet soda, and a tendency to never shut up about how busy she is.

Tandem Bicycle Parenting – Parenting style  based on arrangements with other parents. Without her co-mom to drive half of the carpool days, take her kids so she can get a manicure,  or watch her kids for the weekend so she can have some “me time”, her world will fall to pieces faster than dried out Play dough.  Unfortunately, this parenting style is often out of balance.  Distinctive characteristics:  one of the moms is pedaling way more than the other.

Carnival Cruise Ship Parenting – A parenting style based entirely on fun but without a plan or a regard to safety. (See “It’s always funny until Johnny loses an eye” for reference) Spending time with this parent starts off well, but is likely to end with someone crying, injured, or covered in throw-up. Distinctive characteristics include ATVs, rented bouncy castles, and margarita machines.

 Canoe Parenting – A precarious type of parenting based on “not rocking the boat”, but often one tantrum away from flipping over and sinking.  Also seen among parents of newborns whose parents haven’t moved a muscle in three hours because the baby is asleep on their chest and they don’t want to wake him up for god’s sake. Characteristics: Large, frightened eyes and a finger to the lips.

Clown Car Parenting – Often the result of suspected but undiagnosed ADD, this mom parents based on whatever shiny object attracts her. Life with this mom is unpredictable. You never know what will come next. Is she doing an art project? Is she letting her kids make cupcakes? Is she taking a nap? Is dinner at 5:30 or 7:30? You just never know.  Note: This type of mom is often a blogger. Distinctive characteristics:  A house full of kids. Oh, and yoga pants and wine, of course, what else?

 

 

Please Send Clorox

Darla was dismayed to learn her future would mostly  consist of many hours of bathroom cleaning.

Darla was dismayed to learn her future would  consist of many hours of bathroom cleaning.

 

I ran across an article this morning about the Texas woman who just gave birth to two sets of twin boys. You read that right. Not one, but two. For those of you who haven’t had enough coffee today, that’s four total. In addition to the newborns, she has a 2 year old at home. Again, I’ll be helpful and spell it out for you. That’s five boys ages two and under.

Now, I only have the one boy. He’s a great kid, don’t get me wrong. He’s cute as a button, keeps me on my toes and offers boatloads of blog material.  (What? I’m being honest. Anyway, I’d keep him around even if he didn’t. Probably.)

But, five? Like, mostly at once? That poor woman has no idea what she has in store for her.

And I’m not talking about noise, activity level, or general rambunctiousness. I’m talking about pee.

My advice to her: Delay potty training for a while.  Really, you have no idea how good you have it right now. Cause after the diapers come off? So much pee. Pee everywhere.

Seriously, I had no idea about the pee thing. Why didn’t someone tell me? I would have liked to be prepared. I had girls first, and they’re not nearly as messy. With the girls, we could call it “tinkle” or “piddle” and it was all cute and fine. I didn’t even use the word “pee” because, frankly, I thought of it as a vulgar word. But with the boy, all of the cuteness has left the building, people. No more adorable euphemisms. It’s. Just. Pee. And it’s kind of nasty.

Because it turns out boys can go just about anywhere. While this can be handy at certain times, such as on long car trips, other times? Not so much. Sometimes they revel in exercising that ability exactly where and when they shouldn’t.  Everywhere but in the neat and handy receptacle we call a toilet. And even when they do shoot for the toilet, they have an uncanny knack for  missing from a foot away.

It’s why when the VP heads out the door for Costco on a Saturday morning, it’s a rare occurence if I don’t tell him to pick up a multi-pack of disinfecting wipes and/or  toilet cleaner.  The wipes in the canister are my version of the “mother’s little helper”, to quote the Rolling Stones. And that tells you how far away from edgy my life is. “Didn’t I just buy those a couple of weeks ago?” VP asks.

“What are you, monitoring my Lysol usage?” I snap. “So you know, I can quite any time I WANT.  Now, be quick about it, and while you’re there pick up some Glade air freshener too. The six pack.”

You often hear about companies  donating diapers, baby equipment, etc. to parents of multiples. I get that, and I’m sure it’s very helpful. But might I seriously suggest that the Clorox or Lysol Company make a charitable donation to this family, in the form of hundreds of canisters of disinfecting wipes?  Because unless she wants her house to smell like Eau d’ Urine in a few years, she’s going to need lots and lots of them.

And the funniest part of the article, at least to me, was the quote by the husband saying they ”aren’t done”, because he “wants to try for a girl”. Dude, what? What are you going to do next week, surprise her with a puppy? I notice the woman who just gave birth to four boys wasn’t quoted as offering her opinion. Probably because “Are you out of your #%&*^* mind?!” followed by a bunch more swearing (and then a description of her throwing something at his head) does not make for an uplifting article.

In the meantime, while they work out what their reproductive future entails,  help the family out. Send them  as many wipes as you can. And while you’re at it, would you mind sending some my way too?  Thanks a bunch.