Monday, April 30, 2012

Nothing but the truth. Unless you worship a lying sibling.

I teach Jack’s first-grade Sunday school class. It’s something I’ve done for one kid or the other since Caroline was in first grade. It’s not always a piece of cake, but I can usually count on my own kids to be well behaved and not veer off on a weird tangent. (Note that I said "usually.")

Yesterday I was talking to the kids about the importance of telling the truth. I was explaining that, if they don’t tell the truth about little things, no one will trust them about the big things. I used a (very realistic) example of me asking Caroline if she’s made her bed. Sometimes she says yes, whether or not it’s been done.

Jack raised his hand.

"Well, she lies because if she says she hasn’t made her bed, you’ll say she doesn’t have any more time and she’s had all morning and you’ll ask her why she moves like molasses."

Me: "Right, but she’s telling a lie. That’s wrong."

Jack: "No, actually, that’s right, because then she goes to school and you make the bed for her and you’ve forgotten about it by the time you pick her up and nobody yells at anyone else."

Me: "Okay, well, a) I don’t forget about it, I just choose a different battle at that time; and b) lying is wrong. Period. Let’s move on."

Jack raised his hand again.

"I lie."

Me, skeptical: "Really? I don’t think you do. What do you lie about?"

Jack: "Making my bed."

Me: "No, when you say you’ve made it, you’ve made it."

Fifteen little heads were snapping back and forth like they were watching a ping-pong match.

Jack: "No, it’s sometimes a lie. That’s the main thing I lie about. Making my bed."

Me: "But you don’t lie about that. I physically SEE that you make your bed every day."

Jack looked disappointed.


Me: "You want to know what you do lie about?"

He nodded, excited.

Me: "You lie about LYING. You’re telling a lie right now, when you say that you lie."

Jack, triumphantly: "See? I told you I lie, too."

Me: "You’re kidding me with this, right?"

Jack, pleased: "Nope."

Sometimes I think I’d pay a million dollars for normal siblings who hate each other. Instead, I’m stuck with this sordid solidarity.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The problem with being me

(No. This is not a veiled self-compliment, like "The problem with being me is that I get way too much unwanted attention from hot single men." This is an actual problem. As you will see.)

The problem with being me is that I have absolutely no filter between my brain and my mouth.

For example, one time I remarked to a fellow kindergarten mom that it was far too windy a day for me to be walking to school wearing thong underwear and a skirt. It’s not that I had to change the world with my remark, it’s that I thought it and simultaneously said it. It’s involuntary and usually mortifying.

Now, in that case, that mom ended up having an equally strange sense of humor, and we became good friends. In general, I try to surround myself with people who think my quirkiness is funny. One, I have to apologize less. Two, otherwise I’d be alone in a dark room, cackling to myself. Surrounded by cats. (I don’t know why, but when I picture myself eventually succumbing to mental illness and losing my marbles, I’m always surrounded by feral cats. Lots of them.)

I think writing helps, because I can get my husband to be my filter. I will often email him draft posts saying, "Do I offend anyone’s religion, race, gender, mental capacity, appearance, personal hygiene, location of a port wine birthmark or penchant for dead animals?" And, I’m proud to say, I’m mature enough to hit "delete" if the answer is yes.

Okay, so. This weekend, I walked by a neighbor’s house. The neighbor is a good friend and, thankfully, thinks I’m funny. Her husband does not think I’m funny. I wish I had remembered that.

Their yard is fenced. His dog was outside the fence, eating grass. He was inside the fence, lying on his back in the middle of the front yard. That’s all I had to go on.

I said, "Hi. You okay?"

He said, "Yeah, just playing with my dog."

And I said (and I cringe to repeat it), "No, your dog is over there. You’re actually just playing with yourself."

Ha ha?

He stared at me.

Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit.

I hurried on by.

Later, I told his wife what I said. She told me she thinks it was a funny joke. She also told me her husband thinks I’m strange.

Note to self: restrict inappropriate comments to this blog, where someone can choose not to read them, or to people who know you’re inappropriate and expect you to be offensive.

Other note to self: avoid that guy for a while.

Final note to self: walk by their house acting very normal at every given opportunity while ignoring him, so maybe he’ll think he made the whole thing up.

As I said, it's the problem with being me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


You know what’s really, really hard as a parent?

Deciding whether or not to tell your kid he or she sucks at something.

Really, like most parents, I think my kids are nearly perfect. But “nearly” is a broad spectrum, and smack in the middle of that “nearly” is Caroline’s singing voice. It’s a particular pitch that makes me think my brains are trying to escape from my skull.

Poor thing can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

And yet, she’s convinced she’s the Next. Big. Thing.

She’s. Not.

But. She sings all the time. She sings in a fake British accent and she sings in a breathy voice and she sings as though she’s got a gangsta for a music teacha. She sings opera and ad jingles and pop songs and television theme songs. She sings the way she hears songs, so she doesn’t necessarily complete all the sounds in words and it’s all one, long, run-on noise. She sings into a microphone and she sings in the shower and she downloads karaoke versions of songs on her iTouch so she can hear herself sing, rather than listening to that pesky Selena Gomez.

She sings loudly. She sings constantly.

It’s driving us completely crazy. We’ve thrown parenting rules out the window and finally implored her to shut up, though we said it in a very nice way. We’ve said “no singing at the dinner table” and “no singing while doing your homework” and “no singing when you’re awake.” Jack will nod and say wisely, “You’re not very good at it and it’s annoying.” She responds by asking if we think she’ll be chosen as a soloist for the spring choir performance.

Her class is performing the Pirates of Penzance this spring. It’s a musical. She tried out for all the big singing parts.

She came home very excited: “The teacher told me to stop singing after the first two lines. I was that good. I totally got a good singing part.”

Imagine her surprise when she was awarded the very non-singing role of the narrator.

“Well,” she rationalized. “I was Juliet in Romeo & Juliet. They probably needed to give me a small role this time.”

Right. That’s why.

(Yup. I’m a wimp. I’ll wait for her friends to tell her.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Jack’s assignment was to write about the character traits of someone. He had to answer a few questions:

What is the person’s name?


How does the person make you feel? Use two feeling words.

Protected. Safe.

What does the person do?

When I’m upset Caroline helps me. And gives me stuff.

Write two describing words that tell about the person.

Loveable. Cheerful.

I hope I die in the next thirty seconds because this is about as happy as a mommy can be.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What I’d Really Like to Say to my Kids

We got home l.a.t.e. last night. On the East Coast. From Colorado. So, after we had returned the rental car that got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere and after the TSA barely let my husband on the plane (a name thing, not a terrorist thing) and after our car battery had died in the airport parking lot and after I made fishsticks at midnight for my hungry children because that and mustard were the only edible things in the house, no one was tired yet.

And then Jack had baseball practice at 8:30 this morning. And he likes it, so we were all there, like idiots, blinking into the sun with sheer exhaustion written clearly on our faces.

It was, to say the least, a long day.

Then, tonight at dinner, just about when I was praying everyone would go to sleep so I could, too:

Jack: Think we’re too old for the Easter bunny to come?

Caroline: No way.

Jack: How do you know?

Caroline: Well, I’m ten. And besides, the leprechauns came. They all know each other – Santa, the leprechauns, the tooth fairies, the Easter bunny. One comes, they all come. It’s like a rule.

Jack: Yeah, I think you’re right. Good.

Caroline: Yeah, and remember he does that funny thing with the string? So I call getting to follow my string first in the morning.

Pushover Easygoing Jack: Deal.

"That funny thing with the string." Damn you, Family Fun magazine, which gave me so many cute ideas TEN YEARS AGO. Damn you, adorable idea to have the Easter bunny lead each child to his or her basket with colored yarn, under tables, through doors, inside, outside, around trees. Damn me, who has had to improve on the labyrinth year after year until the children practically have to ride twenty miles sitting backwards on a lame donkey to find their baskets, hidden somewhere near the Holy Grail.

I looked at my husband, silently imploring him to take over the Easter bunny duties. He looked at me, silently telling me to suck it up because normal people don’t create such a hell for themselves.

The kids ran upstairs. And, with every non-mommy cell in my body, I wanted to call them back downstairs. And this is what I wanted to say:

Children. Let’s be serious. Let’s just PRETEND there’s a giant bunny that magically knows who celebrates Easter. Okay? So there’s a giant, anti-Semitic bunny, and he sure can hop, because he hops all over the time zones finding those people and delivering candy that, oddly, is readily available at Target. And the drug store. And the grocery store. Because really, starting in February, your exact baskets are sitting in front of you every single time we go shopping.

So the bunny gets to our house. And somehow he bypasses our alarm system. And then, are you still with me? The giant bunny takes yarn and weaves it through our house? Seriously, do you really think he does that for everyone? How can he possibly have that much time? And how can he possibly know our house so well that he finds the really good hiding spots? How can he possibly have that much yarn? Where does he keep it? He doesn't have a sled, you know.

And really kids, I’ve been terrified of kidnappers since the day you were born. Do you really think the giant bunny could hop through the entire house and not trip the zillion motion sensors I have everywhere? Really?

And the dog, who chases the SCENT of a squirrel, just turns a blind eye to the giant bunny hopping through our house in the middle of the night?

And how does he lock the door behind him? You know I don’t give out keys.

Grow up, people.

For the love of God, Caroline, you just turned ten. Get with the program. Your friends are going to laugh at you.

And Jack? Dude. You’re bright. Give me a break. At this rate, you’ll never get out of first grade.

Not that I want you kids to grow up too fast. Not that I want to steal any of your innocent childhoods. Not that I won’t love that innocence in, oh, say a week, when I’m not so flippin' tired.

It's just that...well...can this Easter bunny catch a break, just once? Like this year? Like right now, so I can go to bed?


You and I both know that I didn’t say any of that.

You and I both know that I’m about to get in the car to go buy complementary yet unique and colorful balls of yarn.

You and I both know this post will self-destruct ten seconds after midnight so my children will never know that I was stunned by the naiveté that might just be hiding serious (and probably genetic, from the maternal side) mental disorders.

It’s gonna be a late night.

Does anyone have a corkscrew?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Better than stock options.

Once you’re a mom, traditional rewards disappear. You’re kind of unappreciated. No raises, no bonuses, no “atta girl!” slaps on the backs, no courtside seats or expense account dinners. No A+ report cards, no winning goals, no adoration or congratulations from anyone.

And before you write me off and sniff and say, “My children are reward enough,” I will say to you...give me a break. When you have two toddlers at home and one is barfing and the other is whining and you haven’t showered and the grocery store seems like The Most Impossible Journey Ever, they’re not enough. When you have a adorable little girl in an adorable little dress lying on the floor of a very nice restaurant screaming her brains out because you said she can’t have a third bowl of ice cream, they’re not enough. And when your husband comes home, after they’re fed and bathed and kissed and cuddled and put in bed, and after he has the dinner you lovingly saved for him to eat in your cleaned-up kitchen, and he does pat you on the back and say, “I don’t know how you do it but you do it well” -- THEY’RE. NOT. ENOUGH. Bring on the courtside seats. Bring on the A+. Moms need appreciation. Moms need BLING.

I write, and I feel appreciated. I love hearing that someone likes something I write. I run, and I like meeting or beating a goal. I like the medals at the end.

Yesterday I ran a race and I tried to do well. But I had to get up early, and I ran hard, so I was pooped when I walked through the door.

To this:

And this:

And this:

And suddenly I wasn’t pooped.

And suddenly I didn’t need courtside seats or a good report card.

Suddenly I had all the bling I ever wanted, colored on butcher paper and taped all over the house.

I had my kids.

And they’re more than enough.