Before I had children I had some pretty definite ideas about how I would raise them. My first reality slap came about twenty hours into parenthood. You see, my baby was not going to use a pacifier. I was dead set against it, though I could not begin to tell you why today. I soon changed my tune. Each time my baby uttered a cry my husband would suggest he was hungry. I had chosen to nurse so after becoming a human pacifier I was happy to give a couple rounds to my little plastic buddy.(I’m pretty sure this is also why I didn’t kill my husband before we even left the hospital.)
My most recent departure from “The Rules” can be found here: http://www.momsatwitsend.com/ourblogs/one-more-thing-i-said-id-never-do/ …..I wrote this first one a year ago and I feel I must confess. I did it again. Folks, I have to tell you, its escalated. This year is “The Penguin Project”. My son comes home and tells me there is going to be a penguin project at school. It would be made up of three parts: Written paper, class presentation and model. sounds pretty good. He says “I picked the Emperor Penguin” cool, it is the first one I picture. I’m already thinking coke bottle for the body, foam ball for the head, wrap it up voila! I’m feeling pretty good about his chances when he tells me “oh, it has to be life size”…ok, lets Google…Forty six inches tall!! that is taller than my four and a half year old! Ok, mom is going to have to think on this one…I consult an artist friend (The Abstract Bedouin on Facebook…she is brilliant) about how to approach this behemoth. She recommended a few materials to get started and we were off. I say “we” because he was present for at least seventy five percent of the time spent constructing it as an active participant. I rationalized that it was the smallest percentage of the overall grade for the project. The sheer size of it was not something he was ready to take on. I could go on but then it will sound like guilt…We made the frame out of wire and stuffed a grocery bag to shape the head. He found a stick that would make a good form for the beak, or bill or whatever it is called (he knows, he did the research and wrote the paper, I stuck to grunt work). I made paste and used strips of newspaper for paper mache. Luckily my couponing habit made my supply of newspaper plentiful and I was able to provide enough for my son’s project and his buddy’s as well. I thought about asking to have the class display a sponsorship banner for my integral part but figured, “let’s wait and see how they turn out.” We wrapped the sucker in paper and waited a day for it to dry before we wrapped it again. At my youngest son’s preschool drop off, I see the mom of my oldest’s friend and when I described our woes of “penguindom”. She proceeded to tell me that while it did have to be to scale, it did NOT have to be an adult. Well, that is a piece of information I would have loved days before…but I digress… One of our dogs had a taste for it and chewed a hole in the stomach so I had to do a patch job. Finally he was dry. I say “he” because he was fast becoming a family member. I left the spray painting to my husband after I hand made stencils for the white parts. Oh, that is right, I dragged him down with me. My son comes home to an all black penguin, with the exception of a little bit of white showing on the belly. (we hadn’t taken the stencils off yet) And, this is where I know we are doing something right, he looks at it and says “well, I think they usually have more white but it is still really awesome Mom.” Once we had him pull the stencils off he was visibly relieved that it did, in fact, look like an emperor penguin. I showed him how to dry brush the yellow parts (finally those ceramics classes pay off) and he is done! My son, a little hesitant to ask more of me, wonders aloud how he is going to take the thing on the bus. “I guess I could ask for him to have his own seat!” I volunteered to deliver him so he wouldn’t get messed up on the bus, again visibly relieved son.
I still don’t know if I did the wrong thing here but I came across the beginning of this blog from last year and had to laugh at the irony and of course share with everyone….Oh and “we” got a 91%!! I’m cool Penguin mom now!!
So it’s dinnertime on my unintentional, Indy-themed day, and it is easily one of my least favorite mommy activities. I’m an okay cook, mainly because I know my skill set…in other words I only make what I’m capable of making (so don’t come by my house expecting a Food Network-worthy dish)! When it was just Bruce & I, in those B.C. ( Before Children) days, cooking was pretty simple. Actually it was few and far between: We were both working, so we really didn’t have the time to cook anything when we did get home and had the money to afford to go out for dinner on a regular basis (oh, those wonderful, carefree days)! So when I did cook, it was because I wanted to, unlike now. And unlike in the past, I have the pickiest of consumers to cook for…not just based on their likes and dislikes, but their moods as well. After all, just because they love pizza isn’t enough…you gotta hope & pray that they “feel like” pizza that night, or you’re in for just as difficult a battle as if you served them creamed spinach!
But for my food-finicky kids, I just cook the basics. I’ve found that the more simple and straight-forward the meal is, the less prep I have to do for food that will probably not be entirely eaten, anyway. On this particular evening, I served lightly-seasoned grilled chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli & cheese. And just like that…OMG…enter the Indy reference! I placed the plates in front of them, and it was like I was serving them baby back beetles at the Pankot Palace! If you haven’t seen Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (and shame on you if you haven’t), this dinner scene is epic! From a first course of baby snakes (slithering right from their mommy-snake’s womb) to eyeball soup (YUMMERS), every plate served was positively revolting. I truly believe Fear Factor was born from this movie moment alone! So Indy’s companions (especially Kate Capshaw’s character, Willie) had nothing but horrified expressions on their faces as they saw what was indeed for dinner. And my kids were doing an Oscar-winning job reenacting this scene, frame-by-frame as each part of their plate was examined. I mean, seriously! You couldn’t even see the broccoli with the amount of cheese poured on, just to ensure it would be consumed. But to them, it was a God-awful veggie ruining a perfectly good cheese sauce, now unsalvageable! And the mashed potatoes (with slight salt & pepper seasoning)? Nope, those pepper flakes, as my son pointed out: “must be bugs or something!” And no matter how much ketchup I poured in a dipping cup to douse their chicken with, it was not nearly enough to tempt them to even touch the stuff!
So what possible lesson have I learned, comparing this Table of Doom moment to the movie version? Stop with simplicity! From now on, I will serve the most gross, disgusting dishes I can think of! Maybe if they see how bad dinner can really be, they’ll be begging for those former days of bug-shaped pepper flakes! Is it pretty drastic and a little over-the-top? Yes, but so are the Indy movies, and those are beloved by millions, right?! Of course, with this bold move, I doubt any of us will be dining for quite a while…hey, maybe we’ll even lose a little weight (BONUS)! Okay, it’s not much of a “lesson,” but it’s definitely a little food for thought (he, he…sorry, but I just couldn’t resist)!
So, on a side note, anyone know where I can get chilled monkey brains?
Up next…Part 3: Raiders of the Lost Art (of Vacuuming)
Ah, the first day of preschool: We are all officially kid free for two hours at least a couple days a week. This was a tough transition for both my Matthew and Lyn’s Eva. Matthew as we left the house decided he didn’t want to go to school. He has been going to the school since he was six days old (when his brother started pre K) and has always loved it. This was a first for me, my other two never looked back. He dropped to his knees and said “I not goin in mommy!” so I continued walking to his classroom. He followed me about halfway and stopped and leaned against the wall crying. I looked at his teacher and said “he’s not coming in” and she said “yes he is” and she picked him up and carried him as he went totally rigid and sobbed (the really sad kind of sob, with the snotty face and all)! I teared up and did as I was told and left the building.
As I met Lyn in the parking lot I learned she had a similar gut wrenching experience with Eva. But we continued with our past tradition, with Lyn getting Christy on the phone (rather than in person, since her move to Washington state) so we could have our last first day of preschool parking lot pow wow. We chatted for a while, Matthew’s teacher called me in the meantime to let me know he was fine. Once we got off the phone with Christy, we chat some more. Little did we realize that Eva’s class goes to play outside earlier than the older kids. The rest of this story should be imagined in slow motion: Eva’s teacher emerges from the building, I hear Lyn say “SHIIII…” and before I know it she is diving head first into the open sliding doors of her van. I run to the other side and she whispers “I have to close the doors!” frantically she pushes the buttons that close the doors and they are agonizingly slow. She is then praying that they stay closed and don’t automatically reopen as they often do. For that would leave her completely exposed to the two year old onslaught! (I mean really exposed, she was ducked down with her butt facing the door)! Mercifully they stay closed. I dash back to my vehicle and jump in, but wow, it is hot in here. Just as I begin to roll my window down I realize that Lyn is in the back of a van and can’t roll anything down! Oh My Lord she is gonna roast in there! I know this is true because Lyn is not the type to let her own discomfort ruin even the most ill conceived plan. I begin frantically texting her but no response until I hear my phone…I would like to say ring but it was actually a ringtone we created, inspired from the 2011 Oscars (“Twi Shirt Parody,” check us out at Zedge.com). She calls me using speakerphone, because apparently she is too contorted between booster seats and armrests to actually text. She asks me “How is Eva doing?” with what I am fairly certain is her second or third to last breath. I watch and report back that she seems great and hasn’t given the van even a passing glance. I then tell her The Exit Plan: She opens the door opposite the playground and scramble into the driver’s seat. I pull my big SUV beside her to block the view of her van from the playground (see, these big gas hogs still have great purpose in this world)! We then exit the parking lot together, side-by-side, maintaining my position-blocking line of sight. When I give her the signal she breaks to the front and I keep behind her still blocking any identifying stickers or decals from view. Then we stop at the road entrance and she gets out and yells to me “Which way are we going, anyway?” No plan is ever perfect and when you are laughing that hard at your own goofiness it’s not easy to think straight…not that it’s easier any other time! But seeing the way the preschool teachers on the playground were staring at us as we left the school, definitely made this first day of school a memorable, laugh-out-loud moment we will never forget:)
Mine and Lyn’s oldest kids both go to the same school. It’s a private church school, so you would expect the mothers to have at least a shred of kindness and decency…not so. I have experienced the ultimate, sorry theres no other word for her, preschool mom bitch. She’s a hateful woman who lives to make life more difficult for us kindergarten moms. I’ve grown to despise her as much as she despises me, but at least I have good reason. I had encountered this mom parking a little to close to where the kindergarten moms morning car lineup for drop off is in the past, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she thought she had left enough space for us to lineup and had just misjudged. It could happen to anyone, right? Wrong. One morning I was running a bit late, but kindergarten moms have from 8:45 to 9:00 to drop their kids off uunder the drive through awning. It was 8:53 as I pulled around to the ramp and pre-k mom had pulled up to the bottom of the ramp blocking my way up and flat refused to move. I sat there for a moment and when I finally realized she was intending to make me park and walk my child up to the school in the rain, I hastily threw the car in reverse, pulled up to the opposite end of the ramp and backed up into the awning right in front of her. If looks could have killed I would have been dead on the spot. Luckily she doesn’t have superpowers, just superbitchiness. That was about a month ago and I hadnt encountered her since then…until the other day. Preschool and kindergartners line up exactly the same way every day and we are nearing the end of the year so unless shes stupid and bitchy, she should totally know how this works. She got to school early and instead of pulling into a parking spot to wait for the kindergartners to filter through she pulled up two car lengths away from the ramp. There were only 2 cars in front of her already on the ramp and 8 more left to come. As the rest of the cars began to arrive, naturally they pulled up behind her. When the teacher opened the door and the first 2 cars pulled through and dropped off their kids we all just sat there waiting for the red mini van pre-k mom drives to move, but it didn’t. I was at the back of the line and started laying on my horn. Pre-k mom had the nerve to stick her hand out the window and motion for all 8 cars behind her, to go around her. Oh that was it. I was done. I flew out of line, but I didn’t anticipate who would beat me to her. Apparently super non confrontational Lyn had had a really bad morning. She rolled right passed me and threw up her finger in an “I got this” way. All I could think was, “Omigosh that lady is gonna die! Lyn is gonna eat her for breakfast!” Ultimately the woman ended up staying put and rolled up her window in Lyn’s face. Apparently she thought it was safe to roll it back down after Lyn went past. Not a bright idea considering I was eagerly awaiting my turn. She rolled up her window in my face too, though I continued to scream at her at top volume long after the window had reached the top of the window sill. It turns out that Grace and Andy’s teacher had also gotten a window rolled up in her face by this same mom. Apparently the director talked to her because she’s had model behavior since then. It can’t last forever though, and until that time Lyn and I will wait patiently and plan for ahead for her next move.
Why is it my dogs seem to listen to me better than my children do? If my dog gets in the trash and I catch him all I do is point and tell him to “go lay on your bed” and he walks, head drooping in the proper amount of shame, and silently does exactly what I said to do. I catch my children getting into sugar, flour, vaseline or whatever is messiest and I am immediately met with “I didn’t mean to” whined/screamed at me. When I say “go to your room” it is followed by wailing, sobbing and protest. The dog, an animal that eats kibble and whetever it finds in the litterbox, seems to understand and accept the consequences without so much as a glance. The child, once they finally drag themselves to their “cell” continues to try and mount their defense. Even the dog looks at me like “what the heck? Control your kid lady”. It seriously makes me want to take my kids to obedience classes. I wonder which would be more uncomfortable, the looks at a pet behavior class as I march my three children in or the looks I get when we walk into the grocery store at any given time. Pick your humiliation. Not to mention the looks we would get when anyone at said grocery store grabs a newspaper and my kids all immediately sit at attention. Guess I’ll have to rethink my position on discipline after all….
I awoke at 5:30 this morning to a sweet little voice calling out “Mommy! My pants are wet!”. It’s my littlest one, Matthew. I begrudgingly roll out of bed, my tempermental back screaming at me all the way. When I first walk in he insists that I pick him up. Knowing my spinal situation wasn’t going to let that happen, I decline. He gave me the look and I consider it, only for a second. His is the bottom of a set of bunkbeds. The look on his face is not enough to block out the vision of myself falling face first into soggy bed linens and then being unable to get up. Sorry little man, you are gonna haul yourself out just like mommy did. My oldest wakes (I think) long enough to ask me what is for dinner, and then he is back out. Now, to peeling off the wet pants and underwear. Again my back is protesting by taking my breath so when I try to speak it sounds as though I’m holding in smoke. My husband, hearing the struggle from our warm comfy bed, decides to “help” by talking to the child. From the bed. If only I had thought of that! As I walk wet things to the laundry room I hear Mary say “Mom, can I take a shower?”. Now, she is no morning person so I know what this means. At least I have a complete peepee load to wash now. Poor kids are both sad and upset and embarrassed. Luckily upon hearing of the second child’s plight Hubby had the good sense to drag up out of bed and help with accident victim number two. Such an awful way to wake up, especially when you consider we did not turn the heat on and the house was sixty-six degrees so wet=very cold. They are both shivering and I’m trying to get the shower running and warmed up at warp speed. I get the first one out and into footy pajamas and my bed. Since daddy has Mary under control I crawl into bed with my little guy and try to salvage just a little more sleep….
Ok, I figured it out. Apparently the key to making my children appreciate me and making myself not feel Caillou induced inadequacies is to have my children watch movies with women that make me look like mom of the year. Anne’s favorite movie for over a year now has been Annie. We were in the store the other day and saw the newer version with Kathy Bates and as Grace calls her, the cute Annie with the straight hair. Grace has long since lost interest in Annie but with the allure of the new one she has been drawn back in and she and Anne have watched it quite a few times. All week Grace has been pointing things out to me that make me feel like I’m doing a fantastic job. “Mommy, Miss Hannigan never cuddles with the kids like you cuddle with us.” “Mommy you never make us eat mush like Miss Hannigan.” “Mommy Miss Hannigan never reads the kids books or tucks them in like you do.” Woohoo! Victory! I am the awesomest mom ever!!! Next week on the agenda we’re watching Mommy Dearest. Oh I can hear the compliments now, “Mommy you never hide our dolls or lock us in the closet” “Mommy you never beat us with wire coat hangers”. Yes indeed, I totally rock!
Our house is going on the market in less than a week, so needless to say, I’ve been cleaning like a mad woman! Every mom knows how it is to clean with kids in the house though. Quite literally they go behind you and dump out what you’ve just picked up or mess up what you’ve straightened. Books are bad in particular. Any time I straighten up the girls book shelves, Anne usually has all the books off the shelves within the next hour. Are all kids this averse to neatness or is it just mine? I’m sure it’s most because often Lyn’s daughter helps Anne to litter the floor with books just as Jen’s son Matthew helps her cover the floor with train parts. The absolute worst thing for me is the carpet. It seems the more I clean it the more my entire family insists on helping to dirty it up. This very thing happened on Sunday. I cleaned the carpet Saturday night after the kids went to bed. It was really dirty, so it took longer than usual, but after more than an hour I finally stepped back to admire my masterpiece. The next morning I told everyone they could not eat or drink in the living room and everyone had to take off their shoes before walking on the carpet. It started with Eric. He had been working outside and walked in, tracking muddy footprints all over the carpet behind him. Within the next two hours Grace and Anne did the same thing. It seemed like as soon as I’d get one set of footprints cleaned up, the next set would show up. I was at my wits end, but the carpet trashing was not over yet! We had friends over that night to watch the football game, and our yellow lab Aspen gets very excited when people come over and often piddles on the floor. Even with all the preventative measures we took to keep this from happening, she peed on the floor, not once, but five times. I get it…no more carpet cleaning. I’ll leave at up to the new owners once they move in. Hopefully they’ll have better luck than me.
Anne’s favorite show is Caillou. I’m honestly so sick of it I could pull my hair out…of course, then I would look like Caillou and that’s definitely not my goal. Being like Caillou’s mom though, probably should be. I have to wonder as my kids are sitting there watching it, if they are thinking, “Wow! Caillou’s mom is awesome! She always wants to play with him and she never ever yells. Why isn’t my mom like that?”. Yes, the cartoon mom makes me feel inadequate. I mean, have you seen their house? Two kids and no messes…dangit, she is awesome. It’s not just his mom though, it’s all of the adults around him. His life is perfect. Oh to be that lucky. I guess my children are just going to have to deal with imperfect. I may not want to play with them all the time and I’m sure at times the neighbors can hear me yelling at them, but one thing I do have in abundant amounts is love for my kids, and isn’t that the most important thing? Caillou’s mom…bring it on!
MAWE Quotes We Love
Maybe one day we will live in a world without labels,…and if that world happens to have hunky, granite-hard immortals with hearts of gold and shirt-less, Quileute-licous hotties with killer six-packs…well, all the better! — , http://www.momsatwitsend.com/2011/03/09/twi-moms-they%E2%80%99re-everywhere%E2%80%A6including-this-blog-gasp/