Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday

In addition to it being National Gorilla Suit Day, the Pro Bowl (you know, that football game that nobody cares about because it's a lot like watching flag football in full pads) is being played in Miami (and why they moved the game from Hawaii I will never understand) today (a week before the Superbowl, so any players from New Orleans or Indianapolis that were selected won't be participating). Oh, and it is also my husband's (that guy that isn't in very many pictures) birthday.

He hates having a birthday, which is why I'm going to force him to have fun by showering him with gifts and making one of his favorite dinners (pancakes) and red velvet cupcakes from scratch. I figure it's the least I can do, considering all that he does for me.
  1. He lets me be an almost-a-control freak and isn't afraid to make fun of my anal retentiveness.
  2. He has an unbelievable sense of humor and has made me laugh so hard I peed my pants. Granted, it was one day after giving birth, so I was bound to pee my pants anyway, but what he said was really, really funny.
  3. He's an amazing writer, and he works his ass off, which is why I've never had to deal with daycare.
  4. He has great taste in books and movies, and even though we don't have the same taste, he never makes me feel like a moron.
  5. He's not only willing to play board games with the kids, but he actually enjoys it, and intentionally loses sometimes.
  6. He never points out when my hair looks like I've been attacked by a bat and I have a giant zit on my chin.
  7. He's more than happy to point out when I'm drinking too slow by calling me a wuss.
  8. He laughs at my boring, often stupid, stories.
  9. He cares about his waist size, which is still the same size as when I met him 20 years ago. Bastard.
  10. He's nice to me.

Happy birthday Doug. Now eat your damn cupcake and open your presents.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gay Is Good, Unless It's Bad

As far as I know, the word gay can mean several things:
  1. Lighthearted and carefree, as in "We had a gay old time."
  2. Brightly colored, or showy, like "A gay display of pink roses."
  3. Several of my guy friends that have a much better sense of style than I do, have a great sense of humor and, like me, prefer men.
  4. My mom's middle name.
  5. When used as a pejorative, it means stupid or undesirable.
What it doesn't describe is a boy who wants to get A's (smart), voluntarily plays the piano (talented), sings in a choir ensemble (not tone-deaf), and chooses to play tennis instead of football (athletic, dislikes pain). This boy doesn't have a girlfriend at the moment because he thinks that "All eighth-grade girls are pretty much insane (again, smart)," but he is hoping that at some point in his life they become a little less insane (cautiously optimistic).

No one has ever said, "Man, Zach, you're gay because you play the piano," but some of the things he participates in have been called gay. Fortunately, Zach is completely confident with the choices he has made, and could care less what other people think. I, on the other hand, get a little pissed off.

Having a teenager can get on your nerves and they're often annoying, but dealing with everyone else's kids, and reliving junior high, is much worse.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Stuffed Doggy Style

After a lot of work and more than a few deep papercuts, I am proud to say that I am no longer the owner of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, The Wobbler, four sets of stacking blocks, a Spiderman board game, and dozens of other random toys that my kids have outgrown, or I am sick of looking at, or both. What I do still have possession of, though, is too many stuffed animals to count.

The actual number is probably an underestimate, due to the fact that they are (ready for this?), shockingly enough, organized. Zoe has a gigantic plastic box under her bed that is full of Beanie Babies, and there is a wooden bin for the bigger animals, which are sorted into categories like aquatic creatures, African Sahara, farm friends/ eventually-headed-to-the-butcher-shop, Disney characters, and domestic pets.

I know that I will have to get rid of these creatures at some point, but the truth is that since they are usually put away and she only gets a few out at a time, I kind of like them. They encourage her to be creative (like when she was trying to potty train the pig), serve as a great stand-in when she is playing doctor and I am sick of being poked and stabbed with her plastic syringe, and since none of them are the crappily constructed styrofoam-filled carnival animals, they're all kind of cute.

Occasionally, things get out of hand and it seems like I can't take three steps without tripping over a giraffe or dolphin. This is when I question whether my organizational system is failing, or if maybe the animals are reproducing.

Yeah, that's what I thought, too.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Excitement Is Not Contagious

Yesterday, I spent most of the day emptying, rearranging, and then reorganizing the playroom. Even though I now have to make another trip to Goodwill, the results are worth it. When I go to bed, knowing that there is a clean, organized, functional playroom two floors beneath me is the equivalent of taking a double dose of Ambien.

When Charlie got home from school, I was kind of excited to show him the results, because not only was everything hyper-organized, but the furniture had been rearranged so that there was now a ton of room to play Wii without hitting anyone in the face.

As he walked into the playroom with his eyes closed, he had a smile on his face and was obviously excited. When he opened them, the smile disappeared and he said: "Oh. Man, I was hoping that maybe we had a new ping pong table or something. This is what you're showing me?"

Yes, it is. But that's not all! In addition to this clean playroom, you get a smack on the head!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

While reorganizing the playroom, my analness got out of hand and I'm getting rid of every single crayon in our house that doesn't have a sharp point, resulting in a shoe box full of colored wax. Since throwing them away didn't seem very "green," I tried to find a way to recycle them. I heard somewhere that if you have a small mountain of broken, worn-down, sad looking crayons, you can:
  1. Peel the papers off all of the crayons.
  2. Break the crayons into small chunks.
  3. Put 5-10 chunks in each space of a muffin tin.
  4. Put the muffin tin in a 250 degree oven until the crayons melt.
  5. Let the crayons cool overnight.
  6. Remove them the next day and enjoy!
If you have even more time to kill and plenty of Band-Aids, you can let the kids use a cheese grater or vegetable peeler to make crayon shavings to put into the muffin tin, which will end up melted into a giant hunk. Or, if you have serious issues, you can use sucker molds in the shape of your child's favorite character and, using a fine brush, you can "paint" facial details onto the chunk of wax that will eventually end up rubbed down to the shape of a chicken nugget.

Since spending time in the kitchen making something that isn't even edible (or drinkable) is pretty much my idea of hell, I will not be making homemade crayons. I will, however, find time to head to the post office to ship the box o' wax to this crayon recycler:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Borscht, Anyone?

When it comes to eating, I will never complain about my boys. Unlike Zoe, they will eat just about anything, including most vegetables, seafood, any meat typically found at a butcher store, and will even tolerate a small amount of spice. But does this make me love cooking three meals a day for them? No. I would be happier just having to cook for Zoe all the time, because all that requires is boiling noodles and hacking up some fruit.

During the school year, I typically make them eat whatever is on the cafeteria menu. For one thing, not having to keep track of when and who needs a lunch makes my morning a little bit easier. Plus, if the food at school tastes crappy it will make whatever I made for dinner seem that much more spectacular and appreciated.

Occasionally, I am more than happy to send a lunch without complaining. I will admit that it's kind of gratifying, knowing that Charlie is sitting at the lunch table eating a turkey hoagie, orange wedges, kettle chips and a chocolate chip cookie while his friends chew on their stale PB&J and glare at him with envy. I know they are probably capable of making their own lunches in the morning, but... ah, who the hell am I kidding. Of course they're not capable of it, and if they did attempt to make their own sandwiches they would leave mayo smears and bread crumbs all over the counter, which would create one more thing for me to do in the morning anyway.

I try to check the menu periodically to make sure there isn't something that's completely hideous coming up, like the day that the school was celebrating Cultural Awareness Day, of Russia. Seriously, what kid is going to eat the school's gray stroganoff and borscht for lunch? The kind that is going to get beat up on the playground later, that's who. Needless to say, Charlie got a home lunch on borscht day.

Over the weekend, he happened to take a glance at the menu and noticed that there was an evil item being served up on Tuesday: fish on a bun and steamed green beans.

"I need a home lunch on Tuesday. It's fish. Disgusting." I was a little distracted with something (like making a drink) when he made this request, and didn't really feel like talking about an upcoming responsibility when I was trying to get drunk.

"That does sound gross. Put your lunch box on the counter on Tuesday morning so I don't forget." Because chances are, considering the fact that I just gave a good, firm squeeze to my third lime wedge, I'll forget.

Sure enough, Tuesday arrived and amidst all of the usual morning commotion, the lunchbox never made an appearance. While he was getting his shoes on, Charlie saw the menu hanging on the door and gasped.

"My lunch! It's gross fish day! You forgot!"

With the look he was giving me, I could have easily let a little guilt start creeping in, so it's a good thing I'm stronger than that.

"Excuse me? I don't think I'm the only one that forgot. If you wanted me to make you something, you were supposed to put your lunchbox on the kitchen counter as a reminder, and I see no lunchbox."

For dramatic effect, I stomped back to the kitchen and looked around to see what I could scrounge up and call lunch. A few slices of salami, string cheese, a sleeve of Ritz, and a banana. Yummy!

As I was jamming the crap into a bag, I heard Charlie say, "Oh, never mind. The alternate is a chicken patty. I'll just eat that."

This was a huge relief, since I was sure my quickly assembled lunch wasn't going to impress anybody, except for maybe the kid that didn't bring anything and has a mom that keeps forgetting to put money in his lunch account. Plus, now I knew that the ribs I was planning on making for dinner would taste that much better, because even if they turned out dry, they would still kick a chicken patty's ass.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mittens Are For Wusses

I have lived in Minnesota forever, so the fact that it gets cold in the winter doesn't come as a shock to me. Trying to get the kids to realize that it's cold outside, and not warming up anytime soon, is a different story.

It is now the end of January, and there has been snow on the ground for two months. It has been cold since November, and even though we have a thermostat by the back door, there are still mornings when Charlie and Zoe will ask me, "Do we need to wear mittens and a hat to school?" Zach, however, doesn't ask me this question, because since he is in junior high, it would be stupid to wear something that keeps your hands warm.

A couple months ago when the wind chill was below zero, he walked in the house from the bus stop and immediately put his frozen hands under warm running water. I casually asked why he didn't have his mittens with him because, you know, mittens have been known to keep hands warm when it's windy and snowing.

"I have them, in my backpack. I just didn't feel like putting them on." Is there really any mystery as to why I rarely have sympathy for these kids?

Since then, I haven't bothered to bring up the fact that he should be zipping his coat, wearing mittens, or maybe even (gasp!) putting a hat on. I am, however, pathetic and nice enough to give him a ride to the bus stop on the mornings that it's 0 degrees or colder, because believe it or not, it's actually easier for me to drive him two blocks then it is to see him walk out the door with an unzipped coat.

Last week, as he was headed out the door, I had a moment of weakness and mentioned that he might want to pull some mittens on because not only was it cold, but it was also icy, and if he fell then he would end up sticking his bare hands in a snowbank.

"I don't need mittens because I have these things on my coat called pockets." Oh, how I love dealing with a smart ass first thing in the morning.

"Yes, I see that, but if your hands are in those pockets when you fall, you will end up with your teeth embedded in the sidewalk. Can't you just put the mittens on?"

"No, because I'm not planning on falling."

I was going to say something like, "No one ever plans on falling," but then I realized that would make me sound like one of those old people that annoyed me when I was a kid. The clueless, boring person that says things like "kids these days" and "you'll catch a cold if you're not careful!" If I'm not careful, before I know what hit me I'll be eating an early bird special of chicken fried steak wearing one of my mint green pantsuits. Even though I occasionally yank a gray hair out of my head, still text "you" instead of "u," and am known as a nag, I don't want to be thought of as an old nag.

When my kids were little and driving me crazy, well-meaning old people, when they weren't talking about the weather, always told me "pick your battles." So since we live in Minnesota, not Antarctica, and I know that standing in the cold for two minutes without mittens won't cause permanent damage (and I have made the wise decision to just shut up about it), I'm happy to say that the mitten battle is officially over. Besides, if his hands get cold enough, he can just put them in his pockets.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect

While looking at the calendar this weekend, I realized that it is the last week of January, which means that there are only about four months of school left, which made me say, "Holy shit."

Since there isn't much time, I figured now would be a good time to make a list of things that my kids could start working on if they want me to stay sane this summer, because after all; practice makes perfect. I wouldn't go so far as to call this a list of demands, since it's more like "suggestions that they should strongly consider if they want to experience summer vacation living in a house where mom isn't screaming all the time and threatening to run away."
  1. When taking your socks off, if you notice a hole in one of them, it's okay to throw it away instead of putting it in the laundry basket. I really don't need to wash the sock before it ends up in the garbage.
  2. When you see something on the floor that isn't yours, but you know where it belongs, instead of just stepping over it, please inconvenience yourself for eight seconds by picking the item up and putting it away. I promise, you won't burst into flames.
  3. It's a cell phone, not a magical teleporting device. If you need a ride home, a little bit of advance notice would be helpful. As shocking as this might be, I don't pass the time while you're gone by standing next to the door with my shoes on, keys in hand, waiting to leap into action.
  4. Like the phone, the car is also not a teleporting device. If you need to be somewhere at 2:00, and that somewhere is a place other than the end of our driveway, we will need to leave before 2:00.
  5. While I don't expect to hear, "Thank you for driving me around this afternoon, and I heard everything you just said to me and won't forget any of it," hearing "Um, yeah, what?" is more than a little bit irritating.
  6. Stop abusing the rewind feature of DVR, and start paying attention.
  7. I don't answer your absurd requests with a "No" just so that I can hear you say, "Why?" If you think I'll say no, then don't ask.
  8. There is a bag inside the kitchen recycling bin, and despite appearances, even when it's full, it's not very heavy and it's removable. And for your information, full is defined as: Nothing else, no matter how much you smash and shove, will fit.
  9. When you're getting dressed in the morning, if you think the shirt and pants/shorts don't match, go with that thought.
  10. Stop having a "let's see who can make the most annoying sound in the world" contest, because believe me, you're all winners.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Phrases That Make Me Go "GAAHHH!"

The conversations change as soon as the pee hits the stick and the blue plus sign appears in the viewing window. From that point on, it seems that never again can anything be discussed that doesn't include "the baby." I know that kid-related topics are going to come up once in a while, and obviously there are priorities that have to shift, but sometimes when I'm with adults, I just want to talk about movies, or stupid shit, or make fun of people, or maybe just talk about what kind of drink to order next. There are some people that were really fun pre-kids and would be more than capable of being a little bit fun post-kids, but now instead of "Enough of this shit, do you want to meet for a fucking beer? Or five?" it's "Let's meet for coffee and talk about the redesigned Diaper Genie."

Over the past few years, my tolerance for these conversations has been gradually diminishing to the point of nonexistence. And while I've become pretty good at escaping meaningless chit chat about potty training or bedtimes (a benefit of hating all moms clubs), there are some phrases that I can't always avoid, and they will always make me gag a little bit whenever I hear them.
  • I'm preggers. Actually, I think what you're trying to say is I'm pregnant.
  • We're pregnant, and we're due on March 8. Honestly, we all know it takes two to make a baby, but the last time I checked it was the woman that gets knocked up and gets to push the duffel bag through the keyhole, which most likely won't happen on March 8, and yes, she will probably want drugs.
  • Is there a quiet room available for me to use so that I can breast feed my child? Nursing is free, convenient, and it makes your boobs look fantastic. But not everyone at the party wants to know exactly what it is you're doing behind Door #1, hear about your lactation schedule, or know that little Petunia is latching on like a pro. Just quietly find a couch/chair/spare bedroom/fitting room and knock yourself out.
  • No, I can't use that blanket because it isn't made with organic cotton. Unless the blanket is woven from the ass hairs of a rabid skunk or was just used to wipe up a gasoline spill, just say "thank you" and take the stupid blanket.
  • I'm sorry ma'am, but we don't have Ketel One. Seriously, what kind of bar doesn't have Ketel One?
  • Is the birthday cake made with all organic ingredients and whole wheat flour? It's a cake, and kids generally like their cake to taste good. Just assume that the cake is made with normal sugar, non-organic butter and white flour, and it might have even come from a magical place called "Costco." If it's really that important to you, don't ask, and then don't have a piece. Questioning the sub-par eco-friendliness of a child's birthday cake and expecting the party host to recite the ingredient list is kind of mean and a little bit pretentious.
  • I know he broke the lamp, but boys will be boys. Accidents happen, but shit does not get broken just because they're boys. Offer to replace the lamp, stop blaming the kid's lack of coordination on gender, and make the kid apologize.
  • Will you childproof before we come for a visit? No. But I won't have dishes of bleach or mousetraps lying around, either.
  • I would get so bored being a stay-at-home mom. What do you do all day? Sit on my ass, eat crappy food, and dream of ways to inflict pain on clueless, inconsiderate people that have the balls to ask stupid questions.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Get Me A Beer, And Then Shut Up

Unlike some women, I don't love malls. Actually, I don't even really like malls. If it weren't for the existence of Auntie Anne's Pretzels, I would probably never be seen in a mall. All those rude sales associates, bitchy teenage girls testing every possible fragrance at Bath & Body Works, The Piercing Pagoda, blind women pushing strollers, and the fact that I can never find one piece of apparel that doesn't suck all add up to me hating malls.

Unfortunately, I needed to go to the Apple Store to drop off my laptop, which meant I had to go to a mall. I figured a Thursday mid-afternoon would be a great, uncrowded time to go, and as an added bonus it would give me something to do while Zach was at his tennis lesson.

After I dropped off my computer and let Zoe test out every iPhone on display ("Where are all the games? What about 'Monkey Pee?'") I still had almost two hours to kill. I considered just grabbing a pretzel and coffee, putting my ass on a bench and letting Zoe run back and forth from Macy's to Caribou, but I didn't want to risk her getting run over by any crazy stroller pushers. So we went to The Gap (is it even possible to go to a mall and not go to The Gap?), and while I was waiting in line, Zoe kept herself occupied by trying on sunglasses and rocking some major dance moves in front of a full length mirror. After that we wandered around aimlessly, laughed at the ugly shirts in Gymboree, and tried on hideous pieces of costume jewelry.

After half-an-hour went by, we were both bored, and she was hungry. Since it wasn't even 5:00 yet, I didn't want to eat anything but was definitely willing to have a beer in silence while Zoe ate. We went to Macaroni Grill and sat at the people-less bar, and that's when I realized that not only do I hate malls, but I hate bars, and the bartenders at the bars, in malls even more.

While Zoe was busy slurping up buttered spaghetti noodles, I tried to look busy by keeping my upper lip constantly submerged in my beer glass and my eyes focused on a TV. The bartender just stood there, asking me how my shopping was ("Fine"), where I lived ("Not by here") and how old my daughter was ("Ask her yourself"). Then he asked if I was going on vacation anywhere ("Not that I know of"), and it was at this point that I wanted to cut my head off. He proceeded to not only tell me about his upcoming vacation, but who he was going with, why he was traveling with this person, how his grandma died, his sister is sick, he just got in touch with an old friend on Facebook, his uncle gave him some money, he likes to drink beer, blah blah blah. The whole time I just sat there saying "Mmm. Mmm hmm. Wow. That's neat. Sorry to hear that. Oh. Okay." I instantly regretted not just grabbing Zoe a pretzel and getting the hell out of the mall to do something more fun, like crashing the car into the ditch.

Eventually, a couple more customers wandered in, and while I wanted to warn them and tell them to make a run for it, I also hoped that maybe then he would quit talking to me. No such luck. He quickly took their orders, poured the stupid olive oil on a plate, and then returned to where I was sitting, and that's when my expression must have changed to "Shut the fuck up."

I guess he got the point because not only did he walk away and start washing glasses, but he kept looking toward me with a "You're a huge bitch" look on his face. I wanted to say: "Listen, asshole! I'm just trying to sit here and enjoy a beer in some peace and quiet while my daughter has an early dinner! I never asked you to keep me company! Just because I don't want to hear about all your crap doesn't make me a bitch!"

One thing he mentioned was that his upcoming vacation was in the Dominican Republic. As Zoe and I were getting ready to leave, it occurred to me that I don't know one person, including my husband, that has managed to go to the Dominican Republic without getting sick, specifically from poultry. I wanted to tell him: "Hey! When you're on vacation, be sure and eat chicken. Lots and lots of chicken. Yum, gotta love that Dominican Republic chicken!" But sure enough, now that we were leaving, he was nowhere to be found.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mom = Personal Slave

Since this is my 100th post, I figured I'd honor the occasion by trying something new: I'll try to put a positive, maybe even humorous spin on a situation that would otherwise make me contemplate trading in my oldest kid for a llama.

Although there are times when Zach is mature, intelligent, and funny, there are some days when I think that he has undergone a brainectomy, leaving him deaf, forgetful, unable to use common sense, and causing him to say things to me that are the absolute opposite of funny.

This week, instead of going to tennis on Friday, the boys were going on Monday. But since Zach had a science project to finish, he wanted to go on Thursday (my schedule sucks). Being the pathetic accommodating person that I am, I of course said: "Sure, I'll make that work. But I will need to pick you up after school on Thursday, so don't take the bus home. And you'll need to have all of your tennis junk ready in the morning. Don't forget." This conversation occurred on Monday.

On Wednesday morning, Zach came down from his ten-minute shower wearing a t-shirt and tennis pants. I calmly said: "You don't have tennis today. Wouldn't it make more sense to wear that shirt tomorrow so you don't have to change in the car?"

While digging for the sports section, he muttered, "I'll wear a different tennis t-shirt tomorrow. I'm not going to change."

"Okay, but don't forget your shirt and bag tomorrow. Also, do not take the bus home, either, because I'm picking you up. And if you don't like cold breakfast, please shave a couple minutes off of your shower time."

"Got it! Stop reminding me!"

Side Note: Wednesday night, I watched Marcos Baghdatis suffer from severe leg cramps and still manage to win a five-set match at the Australian Open. While the win was amazing, what impressed me most was that after he shook hands with the chair umpire, he managed to gather up all of his racquets and other belongings and put them in his tennis bag, all by himself. I scanned the faces in the stands behind him, looking to see if maybe his mom was visible, saying: "Marcos! Put those racquets in your bag! And don't forget your water bottle! It is not my job to pack your bag!" While I don't dream of the day that my boys will play at the Australian Open, I do dream of the day that they manage to remember things and be responsible.

On Thursday morning, after a twelve minute shower, Zach finally appeared and seemed to be a little less than thrilled with his no-longer-piping-hot breakfast of eggs and toast, and I noticed that he wasn't wearing a tennis t-shirt.

"So, are you going to go change, or put a shirt in the tennis bag that you still have to pack?" I figured these were fair questions.

"I'm going to wear the shirt I already have on, since I forgot. I'll put a shirt in my bag." Again, he looked for the sports section, that from now on will be left in the newspaper box until after he leaves for school.

"Also, remember that I'm picking you up. I will be the angriest person you have ever met if you forget and take the bus home." I know I was acquiring Queen Nag status, but I didn't care. It has been proven time and time again that if I say something only once or twice, I might as well not say it at all. Repetition and nagging is the only way to get my point across.

Instead of responding, he continued to read the paper, and then eventually went back upstairs to brush his teeth, and grab a shirt, so I thought.

When he was finally getting his shoes and coat on (but no mittens, and don't even get me started on this topic), he asked me: "So, are you going to bring me a shirt then? Cuz I didn't bring one down. I forgot, but oh well."

And here is where I can't even recall what I actually said to him. I do know that the conversation included the words "personal slave" and "irresponsibiity" and maybe even "lazy." I also pointed out the fact that there wasn't a water bottle in his tennis bag, and his court shoes were still sitting in the closet. But hey, at least he knew that the Timberwolves lost by two points and that, unlike me, Favre performs well in tense situations.

He just stood there, looking at me like I was insane, and then finally said, "Oh gee. Sorry I made you have to go all the way upstairs to get me a shirt." and since he didn't want to go to school with an imprint of my foot on his ass, he walked out the door.

I'm thinking about maybe accidentally bringing him one of his little brother's shirts, or maybe I'll have a pink one custom made that says: "I bitched at my mom and treated her like crap, and instead of facial bruising, all I got was this stupid shirt."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Competitive Bedtime

When Zach was little, his bedtime was an elaborate production that included a bath, three stories read in exactly the same order using the exact same tone of voice, a bizarre script of "bye I love you night night" chanted in a well-rehearsed tempo, and placing a certain stuffed animal by the door. If any of this ridiculous routine was done incorrectly, all hell would break loose and we'd have to start the entire process over again. Needless to say, not many people jumped at the opportunity to get this kid to sleep.

Charlie, on the other hand, loved his bed and we never had the need to do a nightly bath or bedtime routine. He never made a single request for a glass of water or one more story, and would happily collapse into his bed and read Spiderman comic books. There were quite a few times when I snuck into his room after he was asleep to turn off his light and peel the comic book off of his sweaty face, leaving a faint outline of The Green Goblin on his forehead.

Zoe's bedtime usually goes fine, but since she knows that everyone else is still awake and having fun after she's in bed, she sometimes tries to stall. Since she is our third kid and I usually have other things to do after 8pm, I refuse to allot more than ten minutes from when the phrase "It's bedtime" is uttered to when I shut her door. Considering the fact that I've just spent most of the day with her and really need her to just go to bed, quite a few nights involve some raised voices. In fact, sometimes I even yell.

Since she is so competitive, I've decided to incorporate her hatred of losing into bedtime. All it takes is for me to say: "Hey, I bet you can't get your teeth brushed, go to the bathroom, get pajamas on, and get in bed without yelling or whining. I'll bet you end up being naughty at some point before I shut your door. And when you do, I'm going to be the winner. And I love to win."

"No way! I'm going to win! There's no way I'm going to be naughty!" The first night she said this, I thought I was a genius. Why hadn't I been doing this all along?

Sure enough, she let me chisel the hunks of Sour Patch Kids off of her teeth without objecting. She used the bathroom without me having to ask her four times. She put her pajamas on while singing a Lady GaGa song. When she was under the covers, she looked at me and said: "Ha. I win, you lose. Told ya so. Good night."

"Yep, you beat me. I lost. But tomorrow night I'm going to win." Six minutes, start to finish.

This continued for a few nights, and it started feeling a little too rehearsed. I decided to give the whole competition angle a break, and wanted to see if maybe she'd been conditioned into just behaving for the sake of being good, rather than just to win. When we got to the bathroom, she picked up her toothbrush, looked at me and said: "It's fine. You can win. I've already won a whole lot of times. Oh, and GIVE ME THE TOOTHPASTE I CAN DO IT MYSELF!"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

But On The Bright Side...

I woke up on Monday morning wondering what I was going to do with all my free time since the kids didn't have school. I originally thought that maybe I could take them out to lunch, or even have Zach babysit so I could get a pedicure. And then I realized that those thoughts were delusional. Zach had a science project to finish and a test to study for, there was a piano lesson and a tennis lesson to get to, and I was hoping to get to the grocery store. Though this was busier than what I would have wanted for a day off from school, I was hoping that with a little bit of advance planning, I could find the time to do something fun. By 9am, I realized those hopes were as fictional as my pedicure.

Good News: No school, so I didn't have to do school drop-off.
Bad News: No school, so the kids are home.

Bad News: The error message "Remove packing material, clear carriage jam" popped up on our two-month-new printer, even though the packing material was removed two months ago.
Good News: After recovering from the shock of talking to an HP customer service rep that was actually knowledgeable, helpful, and understanding, I was told that the printer was a piece of shit, but under warranty, and would be replaced free of charge.
Bad News: The new printer would take five to seven business days to arrive.
More Bad News: Zach had a science project that needed to be printed.
Good News: Somehow managed to get old printer working, but only in black, so hopefully colorful pie charts aren't an integral component of Zach's science project.

Good News: Managed to get to the grocery store during the piano lesson.
Bad News: Forgot bananas.
Random News: In an attempt to be "helpful," Zoe put the hamburger buns on the conveyor belt, after she pulled them through one of the leg holes on the cart. Now they look more like hot dog buns.

Good News: Decided to stop at Target to pick up a prescription and bananas on my way to tennis lessons. Figured I'd better call and make sure that my "take once a day at the same time every day so I don't get knocked up again" drugs had been refilled.
Bad News: Was told that the prescription wouldn't be ready. So, after I dropped Charlie off at tennis, I stopped at grocery store #2 to pick up bananas.
Of-Course-It-Is News: After I got home, I received an automated phone call from Target telling me that "my prescription has automatically been refilled, and is now available for pickup."

Bad News: After dinner, Zach printed his colorless science project report, which also ended up being blackless due to a lack of toner in the backup printer.
Good News: After saving the report on his flash drive, my best friend/ kindred spirit/fellow vodka lover/Mac owner said, "Come on over and print it at my house."
Bad News: Best friend's printer is out of magenta toner, which shouldn't make a difference since we're only printing in black, but printer doesn't understand logic.
Funny News: Best friend shared a disgusting "you won't believe what my dog ate" story. The feminine hygiene item that the dog ate is really, really gross, which is why it made me laugh.
Worst News: This story wasn't told over a couple martinis.
Not Surprising News: I got home, without a printed science project, to find that the 11-year-old had suddenly lost the ability to tell time and doesn't realize it's past his bedtime.

Good News: Zach tells me that he can print the project at school.
Bad News: I will have to bring Zach to school early on Tuesday morning.
Good News: Wave of energy and overwhelming motivation to avoid driving kid to school at 7am hits me, and I decide to get back in the car and go pick up toner, along with my prescription.
Bad News: What the hell am I thinking? The pharmacy is closed. I might as well go to WalMart, which is closer.
Icky News: I went to WalMart. But at least I picked up my friend's magenta toner while I was there.
About Fucking Time News: Science project printed, and the stapler didn't break.

Annoying News: I don't have house plants because I never water them, and sometimes the dog's water dish is empty, but the yellow light on the piano humidifier started flashing, which silently tells me: "THE PIANO NEEDS WATER! THE PIANO NEEDS WATER! THE DAMN PIANO NEEDS WATER!"
Good News: I ignore it until the morning. After all, I'll have time since I don't have to drive Zach to school at 7am.

Good News: After completing his project and studying for a test, Zach went to bed at 10:30. Finally, all the kids are in bed!
Bad News: His door opened 12 seconds later so that he could tell me that the lightbulb in his reading lamp just burned out.
Good News: I have a lightbulb.
Best News: I know that my prescription has been refilled.

Bad News: I discovered I was out of tequila.
Great News: I always have vodka.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Child Labor

At some point in the future, I would like to think that my boys will eventually move out and be able to survive for more than a couple days by themselves. Judging by their current lack of self-sufficiency, though, it's difficult for me to imagine anything besides them wandering around aimlessly, wondering what to do about the dirty laundry that is piling up, the scum on the toilet, and the sensation of hunger that just doesn't seem to go away no matter how many times they think about food.

I will be the first to admit that my almost-a-control freak personality, lack of patience, and high expectations don't help the situation. I know that there are simple chores that they should be expected to do without me having to ask, but for me, having to watch someone else do a crappy job cleaning a bathroom or washing a pan in a weird way is a painful, anxiety-inducing experience.

They're good about cleaning up their own dishes and keeping their rooms clean, but I figured it was time to start expecting more. So, after I pulled a load of towels out of the dryer, I plopped the basket on the floor and asked Charlie to fold them. This seemed like the perfect job because since they're just towels, I could have cared less how they were folded. Really. It doesn't matter. Just fold them any old way. After all, no one is going to come bursting through the door to check how the towels are folded, so who cares how they're folded? Not me, that's for sure.

Okay, the truth is that all of the towels in this particular load just get hung up on hooks anyway, so they don't even need to be folded. I am actually really picky about how the towels are folded before they go on shelves, but there's no way in hell I'd expect my kid to understand why this is important to me. After all, I don't even understand.

Charlie was watching football and perfecting his half-sitting/half-laying down posture on the couch, and when I asked him to fold the towels he looked at me like I had obviously been smoking something. He eventually managed to rise from the couch, approach the basket, and then attempted to fold the towels while using body language that said, "I regret having the use of my arms."

Meanwhile, I sat on the couch and tried to ignore the beads of sweat that were forming along my hairline. It wasn't the fact that a blind person using only his feet would have done a better job, it was the way he was acting. It was like I said: "Hey Charlie. Do me a favor and walk two miles to the chicken coop, grab a chicken, hack off its head, pull out the feathers, take out the guts, and make me some soup. And while the soup is simmering, fold these towels."

After I watched him for a minute or so I couldn't stand it, so I started laughing. I had to laugh, otherwise I would have looked like a crazy person having a fit of anger over towels. I ended up just folding the things myself before I hauled them upstairs and hung them on the hooks where they belonged. Yes, I could have just done this to begin with and avoided this whole confrontation, but then Charlie would have missed out on learning the valuable lesson of: If I do a crappy job and complain enough, then mom will just laugh at me for a little while and eventually just do the job herself, and probably never ask me to do that job ever again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Star Of The Week

A few years ago, when Zach was a fifth grader and Charlie was in third, I allowed myself to drink a couple extra back-to-school celebratory cocktails because it meant that after five years of assembling Star Of The Week (SOTW) posters, I was beginning my three-year reprieve.

In kindergarten, SOTW means that the kid gets to wear a star necklace, spend five days sharing fun facts about themselves, sit on a star rug, and be a line leader. The teachers like to think that it helps build respect and understanding for one another, and build a stronger classroom community. I, on the other hand, am pretty sure that the other kids mutter a G-rated version of "Stupid stuck up bitch" when the SOTW is wearing her necklace and sitting on the star rug.

Now that Zoe is in school, I'm back to having to celebrate SOTW, and the school has made a few changes to the program. Apparently they realized that the posters had become yet another way for moms to one-up each other, trying to see who could spend the most money at Archivers or JoAnn in an attempt to make the other children feel even more inferior. "Look, my mom used swirlybobs, rose embellishments, and butterfllies, and decoupaged my curvy cut picture on a piece of vellum, which is attached to foam core using flower eyelets, and then she used glimmer mist spray to add a special touch of shine."

Now the teachers send home a booklet that has been pre-printed with questions on plain white copy paper, and I'm supposed to add pictures and "help" Zoe fill in the blanks. I may have to revise our answers a little bit, since the space provided in the booklet is kind of small.

My full name is: Zoe Joy Adkins, but for some reason people sometimes call me "Stinker Face, Fart Queen," or "What Were You Thinking." I prefer to be called Zoe.

The best thing about me is: Well, everything, duh. If someone doesn't agree with me, then that means they're stupid.

My family pet is a ___, and it's name is: We have a dog. At least, I think it's a dog. Do dogs smell bad and sometimes poop on the floor? Yes? Okay, then yes, we have a dog. His name is Cosmo, he's really super old, and he smells bad and sometimes poops on the floor.

I have lost ___ baby teeth: Zero, okay? Go ahead, rub it in. Stupid Tooth Fairy, who needs her?

The color of my hair is: Brown. But in the summer I get these really cool highlights without even trying, and it seems to irritate my mom, because whenever she brushes my hair I hear her mutter, "It's not fair. It's just not fair. I pay for my color and it never looks this great."

I am ___ years old, and my birthday is on: I'm five and a half. Don't forget the half or I'll have to hurt you. Sometimes that extra half year comes back to bite me in the butt, because if I'm screaming about something that's not going my way, my mom will say, "Zoe, five-and-a-half-year-olds do not act like that, only five-year-olds do." So sometimes, getting older really sucks. Oh, my birthday is on June 2. It's an awesome day to have a birthday.

My favorite food is: Pears, strawberries, noodles, bacon, apples, cheese pizza, grapes, ham sandwiches with lettuce, pasta, raw carrots, red peppers, macaroni, and noodles.

Please do not feed me: Noodles with more than a tablespoon of sauce, cheese other than muenster, onions, broccoli, cooked carrots, anything spicier than air, blemished fruit, mashed potatoes, olives, or baked beans unless you want me to gag.

I really like to: Swim. Swimming is fun. But I also really like to play video games, run around pretending to be a dog, sing, dance, win, shake my butt, color, hog attention, yell at Charlie, and play Uno. Oh, and I'm an awesome tennis player.

When I grow up I want to be a: Doctor. I'm really good at putting Band-Aids on, but I have a tendency to burst into tears when I see that someone has a bloody ow, so who knows.

A few more pieces of critical information: My favorite number is 100, I like to play with my Playmobil camper, Halloween is the funnest holiday ever, I like things that are pink (but not ugly pink), I can't wait for Spring, I will never get sick of reading "The Monster At The End Of This Book" or watching "Spongebob," Sundays are fun, and is there any animal cooler than a zebra? I didn't think so.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Basic Amenities

I am trying to schedule a vacation. Though the end result will (hopefully) be a relaxing week at a non-sucky resort without any major illnesses or catastrophes, the process of getting to that point is a little tricky. Because of Zach's upcoming tennis season, and in order to avoid missed school days and/or paying absurdly high rates, we aren't going anywhere until June. But it's never too early to start planning.

When Doug and I took vacations pre-kids, all we really cared about was whether there was an on-site bar, and a TV and king size bed in our room. Now that three kids are included, and I don't really enjoy spending a week with my family sharing one bathroom and being crammed into a space the size of my bedroom at home, I have definitely figured out what additional amenities are nice to have, and what is absolutely-can't-live-without-it necessary.

Really, Really Nice to Have:
  • Three bedrooms
  • At least two bathrooms, with double sinks
  • Full size refrigerator in a full size kitchen
  • On-site crack dealer
  • Microwave
  • In room washer & dryer
  • No one else staying at the resort
  • Room service
  • Twice-a-day housekeeping
  • Several heated pools
Absolutely Necessary:
  • Two bug-free bedrooms
  • Two bathrooms, with toilets that don't run continuously
  • Mini fridge that isn't already stocked with $10 miniature bottles of booze
  • On-site washer & dryer
  • Balcony, so when I smoke a joint it doesn't stink up the room
  • A pool that's warmer than 70 degrees
  • Neighbors that don't fly a Confederate flag.
  • Housekeeping that shows up and doesn't leave dirty rags on the floor
  • The little sign on the back of my pool chair that says "Need Drink. NOW!"
Before the days of checked baggage fees, I could bring tons of clothes and always thought that doing laundry while on vacation was a sign of insanity. It's only a week, right? But now that the kids are bigger, and sweatier, the thought of having dirty clothes sit untouched for an entire week gives me seizures.

On-site coin operated laundry is fine, but having an in-room washer and dryer is a luxury that I will never, ever take for granted. To be able to throw in a load of tennis clothes, sandy swimsuits, or a shirt that I might have dribbled a drink on pushes my vacation brain into a new level of relaxation. Keeping this in mind, I'm trying to figure out how I voluntarily booked a week in Tucson last year, at a resort that doesn't have any laundry facilities anywhere on-site.

Not wanting to waste vacation time sitting at a laundromat, I instead washed out sweaty tennis clothes, swimsuits, and workout clothes in the bathtub. Since the air was so dry outside, I could hang the washed clothes on the balcony and they would be dry in about 12 minutes. No, it wasn't glamorous, but I saved a lot of quarters and justified a lot of extra cocktails.

This year, I informed Zach that I am, without a doubt, checking us all into a resort that has a washer and dryer in the room. He seemed bewildered by my excitement, and pointed out the fact that even though we didn't have a washer and dryer in Tucson, he always had clean tennis clothes.

"You had clean clothes because I washed them in the bathtub every evening." Why was I shocked that he didn't realize this?

"Really? You did that? Wow, that must have been a huge pain. I just thought they, well, I don't really know what I thought. Well, thanks. That's cool that you did that."

I think I actually wiped a tear from my eye, and am still in shock.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Distracted Driving

Considering the number of distractions that I deal with every time I drive somewhere with Zoe perched in her booster seat, the fact that I never crash into anything is a complete miracle. I am constantly telling her, on a daily basis, that: "No, I cannot look at the funny dance/face/hand gesture you are making. Yes, I'm sure you are really thirsty/hungry/hot/scratchy, but I can't help you right now, because I am driving."

If I were to be more honest, I would tell her that we are on the freeway, I am maneuvering a ginormous blue minivan traveling at approximately 70 mph, and would like to avoid careening into slow-moving Buicks and a bunch of assholes that think their phone conversations are more important than their driving skills. So unless she wants her booster seat to be fastened to the roof rack, her hyena-like shrieks, top-of-the-lung singing, banshee screams, and spontaneous wails are strongly discouraged.

If Doug is in the car, which is usually just on the weekends, she seems to magically acquire self-control because the yelling is definitely less frequent and at a lower volume. On Thursday afternoon, though, she was kind of caught off guard, because instead of enjoying the peace and quiet of his office, he was in the car with us.

We were headed to tennis, and within three minutes she let out a completely unexpected, high decibel, man-my-life-is-great "Whooooyeaaaahhwoooo!"

"Zoe. That is about 800 times too loud. Please don't yell again." I said this in my low-decibel boring mom voice, because I didn't think Doug would appreciate me screaming "Oh my holy crap! Why are you shrieking? Don't do that again!" while he was in the passenger seat.

Sure enough, she didn't listen to me, and let out another "Whooooo-hoooo!"

At this point, Doug said, "Um, Zoe, knock it off. That's way too loud. You can't yell like that while mom is trying to drive. It's pretty distracting."

"Oh. Sorry. Sorry mom. Are you mad? Huh? Are you? Are you mad? I'm sorry. Are you mad?" She couldn't stop chanting, and I visualized loose springs bouncing around in her brain.

"No. I'm not mad. But I am trying to drive. So sit quietly." Nothing like smooth sailing through the first five minutes of a 20-minute car trip.

Two miles later, she started sniffing. And snorting. And snotting. And rubbing her nose with enough force that I thought she was going to shove it out the back of her head. I finally suggested that maybe Zach could get her a kleenex, to which she replied: "No. You can get it mom. Get me a kleenex!"

"She's driving, Zoe. I'll get it!" Zach said, as he fetched a kleenex from one of the 18 storage compartments in my van.

After he handed it to her, she proceeded to blow. And blow. And blow some more. And sniff. And blow. And snort. Through this snot shower, I tried to focus on the road instead of thinking about the boogers that were potentially landing in the back of my hair.

When she finally finished the sinus irrigation, I heard her say, "Okay, I'm done. Here mom." and I could peripherally see her reaching forward in an attempt to hand me her snot-filled kleenex.

"Uh, gross Zoe. She is not going to grab that. Just put it in your cup holder," Zach said, obviously not wanting me to become distracted by sticking my finger in a glob of snot, sending the van careening off of an overpass.

"Oh, that's a good idea! I might need it again later." Zoe said, while tucking the kleenex that was now 20 times its original weight into her cup holder.

Maybe it's because she had kleenex residue in her mouth, but three miles later she decided that she absolutely, definitely needed a piece of gum. Zach looked in storage compartment number two and found a pack of Trident that must have been put there by a caveman. The wrappers were cemented on, and I had no recollection of when I'd even purchased a pack of Trident. After she struggled and complained about the "stupid wrapper," I managed to avoid a complete meltdown by fetching a different pack from storage compartment number three, but unfortunately there was only one piece left.

Zach, always the nice big brother, chewed on a piece of Trident/wrapper and let her have the other piece. As I continued to navigate rush hour traffic, she then started saying: "Here mom! Here's the empty pack of gum! Can you grab it? Here it is! I'm handing it to you!"

Turning around for the 12th time within as many miles, Doug said, "What the heck, Zoe! Just put the pack in your cup holder next to the snot kleenex! You cannot be this distracting while mom is trying to drive! Stop being so naughty!"

"Oh, sorry. Sorry mom. Are you mad? Are you? I'm sorry."

And that's when I pulled into a parking spot, switched off the ignition, hopped out of the car, and flipped the mental switch that allows me to be aware of the fact that I do, in fact, have a talk box/distraction queen/daughter named Zoe.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Just Take The Damn Thing!

I have spent the last few days attacking every closet, drawer and storage room in our house. My OCD/anal/manic personality traits are in overdrive and, judging by the fact that the kids are afraid to put down their most prized possessions, I'm pretty sure my family is scared. It's safe to say that I will never end up being featured on "Hoarders" or "Clean House," and unless they make a reality show about control freaks that need to keep things lined up at 90-degree angles, I'll be able to continue to live my life in well organized, labeled privacy, surrounded by color-coded bins.

As a result of all this cleaning and purging, and because I refuse to hold onto the unwanted crap while I wait for the perfect weekend to waste several hours of my time hosting a garage sale, I have made a couple trips to Goodwill. Since I don't want to drop off random, unorganized items, I have grouped the donations into categories: Tuesday was housewares, Wednesday was clothing and books, and yesterday was toys.

Included in the toy drop-off was a Sit & Spin and a small ride on car that can also be pushed. Yes, I was excited to get these two space hogs out of our playroom, but I also knew that some other little kid was going to be happy when these toys arrived in his house.

I pulled into the Goodwill drop-off area, and as soon I opened the back of my van I heard the Donation Dictator say: "Nope. We can't take those big junky plastic items. No large kid toys are accepted because they're just too dangerous."

"It's a non-junky Sit & Spin and a car. There aren't any knives or rabid animals included." Was this guy for real? He just accepted the horrible throw pillows and dusty floral arrangement from the lady in front of me, so why would he turn down perfectly clean, fun, never-thrown-up-on toys?

"I see that, miss. But those things are just too darn dangerous. What if a kid falls off and hits his head? We can't be exposing kids to those kinds of risks." He was serious, and was looking at me like I was the most irresponsible parent in the world for not only owning such a hazard, but for trying to pawn it off at Goodwill.

I was ticked. First of all, now what was I supposed to do with this shit? It was already out of my organized house, so there was no way in hell it was coming back in. Second, aren't kids putting themselves at risk of falling and hitting their heads when they're walking? And excuse me, Mr. Contradiction, but Charlie's old Hulk Hands are in the box that you just accepted for donation. You'll take the toy that yells out "HULK SMASH!" when it punches another kid in the face, but you won't take a ride on car?

Rather than pick a fight with someone that probably lives in a house lined with foam and makes his children wear protective headwear whenever they leave the safety of the foam house, I shut the car door and went to Target.

While I was leaving the store, I noticed a woman walking through the parking lot with a two-year-old kid. Remembering that the Sit & Spin and car were still in the back of my van, I was tempted to ask her if she wanted a couple danger-free, super fun toys for her little girl. That's when it occurred to me that my bat shit crazy motivation to get rid of the crap was clouding my judgment, so I quickly got in the car and left.

Now there's a Sit & Spin and a plastic car in my garage. Any takers?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dear Mr. Science(Art) Teacher

Dear Mr. 8th Grade Science Teacher,

I know that you take pride in your job, and I'm impressed by the fact that you have endless amounts of energy and seem to enjoy spending time with 13 and 14-year-olds. It's obvious that you are motivated to educate kids by using creativity, and like to force their brains to view the material in a new way. But please, enough with the fucking science projects.

Creating a brochure that promotes the tourism industry of another planet seems more like art class than science. Not only did you require this brochure to be informative and factual, but you also wanted it to incorporate extensive creativity, color, materials that aren't normally found in a typical household, and a pop-up feature. To watch an intelligent, motivated, responsible kid put several weekend hours into designing this brochure/art project, only to get a crappy grade because, even though it included an abundance of information, you didn't think he put enough effort into the pop-ups, is deflating. This would be like giving a low grade to a painting of a fruit bowl in art class because it didn't include a picture of the periodic table.

While you emphasized the use of creativity, design and eye appeal, you also decided to deduct 50% of the possible points if the student's first and last name wasn't clearly visible. Even if, in an attempt to adhere to your specifications, a student discreetly wrote only their first name on the brochure, he or she was deducted. Since my kid managed to include his full name, he was spared these points. This is a good thing, since this deduction on top of what was already taken off for his lack of pop-ups effort would have left him with pretty much nothing.

Throughout the first trimester, your projects included a diorama, pop can constellation model, group projects, skits, a place mat, a couple Powerpoint presentations, the construction of a UFO, and occasionally having to sing a song about the galaxy (which, by the way, would be more appropriate for choir). Now that it is the second trimester, the kids are in the middle of yet another group project, which means I'll probably be running out to buy supplies before the week is over. I just wish that a kid could get a decent grade by turning in a project that contains the information you required and shows student effort, instead of just parent participation/bank account/JoAnn Crafts effort.

I've also noticed that in addition to docking points for what you consider a lack of creativity (which, if this was English class, would be called "subjective"), you also deduct points when you do a spur of the moment "assignment planner check." I understand that you're only trying to encourage the kids to be responsible, and prove to them that if they write down their assignments in each class, every day, the number of missing assignments will drop dramatically. I agree that if there is nothing written in the planner, then a few points should definitely be taken off. But if a kid writes "SS test Th - study S Amer countries" in their planner, instead of "I have a social studies test on Thursday. I need to spend time studying the countries of South America," should you, their science teacher, be able to deduct half of the possible points because you don't like what they wrote? No. They are using the planner in a way that makes sense to them, and probably didn't have the time, or need, to write a complete sentence.

I am happy about the fact that my kid has a passionate, hard working, enthusiastic teacher. I just wish that you could also understand that the kids in your science class aren't all lazy, looking for the easy way out, and are actually putting in a lot of effort. These kids have other classes to worry about, not to mention sports, music lessons, and maybe even a little bit of free time now and then. If they turn in an assignment 30 seconds late or don't get started on a project within two minutes of you assigning it, please try to remember that kids are human, and they're learning, and, unlike this letter, their forgetfulness is not an attack on you personally.


The Mean Mom

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Listening Skills Required

At some point during the month of January, I sit down and schedule doctor, eye, and dentist appointments for everyone. And judging by the lack of listening skills being demonstrated by Zach lately, I should probably schedule an appointment for him with a hearing specialist as well.

On Monday night, while we were in the car, I decided to fill the boys in on the schedule for the rest of the week. Zach was in the front seat, as usual, so I knew he'd be able to hear me without much difficulty. Actually listening? Well, that's another matter.

"Hey, Zach." I wanted to make sure I had his attention before I started talking about anything too specific.

"Hey, what?"

"You need to come to tennis on Thursday because we're having dinner with grandpa after Charlie's lesson. Okay?"

"Oh. What? Did you say something? All I heard was 'Zach.'" How moronic of me to assume that just because his eyes were open and he said "Hey," that he was actually conscious.

After letting out a long sigh and deciding not to reach over and whack him in the forehead because, after all, the safest way to drive is with both hands on the steering wheel and not beating your child, I managed to exasperatedly repeat myself, to which he replied: "Okay, jeez."

A few minutes later, Charlie told us that one of his friends saw Avatar 3D and thought it was so cool, and maybe they could go see it, too.

Zach said: "Some of my friends saw it too. We should definitely go."

At the beginning of Christmas break, Doug asked the boys if they wanted to see Avatar. Charlie said, "Oh, that's the movie with the blue people." Zach didn't really say much of anything, and didn't seem very interested. So, Doug interpreted their overwhelming enthusiasm as "No." This was fine with me, since it saved us $50.00.

"Really? So now you want to see it?" I asked.

"What do you mean now? When would we have seen it before?" Did he really have no memory of Doug mentioning this movie?

"Uh, maybe over Christmas break? Your dad said, 'Hey, does anyone want to go see Avatar 3D?' and you didn't respond or show any interest."

"He asked us that? I don't remember that at all. When did the movie come out? Are you sure he asked us about Avatar and not some other movie?"

I didn't even bother replying. What the hell else other movie would he have been asking them about -- Alvin and The Chipmunks? Princess And The Frog? Retarded 3D?

After a few minutes of silence, I changed the topic to sports.

"Hey. Remember when Mark McGwire said that he never did steroids? Well, it turns out he was lying. Shocking news, I know. He just admitted today that he is, in fact, guilty of steroid use."

"Oh. That's cool." I could tell by the tone of his response that his brain was busy processing the different colors of the Best Buy sign that we were driving by.

Sure enough, while reading the sports section on Tuesday morning, he tells me: "Hey mom! Check this out! Mark McGwire is admitting to steroid use after all! What a liar!"

Now, instead of taking the opportunity to bring up the fact that I had already shared this tidbit of information with him yesterday, I simply said, "Oh, wow." and let him continue reading the article. I could have started lecturing him about how he doesn't listen to me, and how he only listens to what he thinks is important, but he wouldn't have heard me anyway, and then I would have been mad about that, and would have complained to him about how he doesn't listen to me when I'm mad, and he wouldn't have heard me anyway.