This article is right on the money! Can’t tell you how many times these issues cropped up in my thirteen years of teaching. Coming soon – my next series of teacher-related posts. Title? ‘Apples and Trees.’
Category Archives: Parenting
It’s happened. To my kid. And it all hit the fan this morning. I guess I should be glad that it’s taken this long for us to hit this particular road block, but it still sucks. And I can officially claim the title of Worst Mom Ever.
What happened, you ask? Here’s the dirt. Minion 1 brings home a conduct card every Wednesday from school. I go to sign it this morning and see notes from both teachers about missing homework. TWO WEEKS OF MISSING HOMEWORK. I saw red. Seriously. That kid has been telling us for three weeks that he’s had no homework because of testing at school. Made sense to me, since that was the policy at the minions’ old school, and this one is in the same district.
That was stupid of me. I should have known. This school doesn’t mess around with homework. Ever. So why would I think that they would actually cancel homework because of testing? Stupid, stupid me. Basically my kid has been lying to me for almost three straight weeks and I had no clue. None. Zero. Zilch.
HOW STUPID CAN I BE?? I’ve had this conversation for years with parents of my students. Kids lie, they all do, and it’s just part of parenting, right? That’s what I’ve always said – every kid lies at some point to try and see what they can get away with. Doesn’t make them bad kids and doesn’t make parents bad parents.
So why in the heck do I feel like the Worst Mom Ever?
Because, that’s why. I tend to look in the mirror whenever there’s a problem, no matter what kind of problem it is. Raining today? What did I do to cause that? Part of it is my ego getting in the way (since everything MUST be all about me, right?) and part of it is my self esteem cracking the whip (you MUST have done something to screw this up somehow). And that’s a problem.
I was a stellar mom this morning. Take the homework issue in stride? Calmly talk it out? Right. Granted, I started out that way, but things escalated, I lost my temper, and completely blew the issue out of proportion. By the end of it I had unloaded all over the Spouse about how the real problem is my job and its long hours, and if I stayed home the minions would never turn in homework late, lie or fail to clean up their rooms when asked the first time.
That’s total crap. They’re kids. And boys. They’re going to screw up now and then, and it isn’t ALWAYS going to be my fault. But losing my temper IS my fault and that’s where I am feeling the guilt today. And where I also unloaded on the Spouse, saying that if it weren’t for my job I wouldn’t be so stinkin’ tired, nasty and crabby. Which may be partially true.
I’m dropping the ball all over the place. Parenting, work, spouse, home – it’s been a crapshoot this week. We haven’t gotten home before 8:00 yet. My grand weekend plan? Forget it – not this week. I’m doing good to remember to take out my contacts before I pass out in the bed, usually by 9.
Somebody throw me a bone here. Or a floatie. Because I feel like I’m drowning and the shore is nowhere in sight. Mayday!!
I have to give kudos to my friend Karen for the idea for this post. See, last week on Facebook she posted her frustration about trying to go to the bank and not being able to find it. Turns out she was a block away and finally wondered if it was early Alzheimer’s or just the Mom Brain. Thanks, lady! You’re my inspiration today!
The kicker? I used to have a pretty good memory. Really. Almost photographic. The Spouse has a freakishly accurate memory, so that always made disagreements more interesting. We should have sold ringside tickets. “You left the toilet seat up exactly seventeen times last month!” ‘No, actually it was fifteen, and the first three of those were actually the last day of last month.’ You think I’m kidding? I’ve said it before – I can’t make this stuff up. Really.
And now, ten years after minion #1 was born, the Mom Brain is getting worse. I could forget a conversation we had ten minutes ago. Why? Not because I wasn’t listening, but because my stinking’ brain is just so used to thinking about a million things a mile a minute that there’s not enough room in there. Something’s got to go. I really feel for my kids in about ten years. They’ll probably have to tattoo a map of the house on my arm so I can find the bathroom.
If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you may remember last week’s battle of the pants. Not Battle of the Planets. That was one of my all-time favorite cartoons as a kid. No, the Pants Situation was huge in our house. In fact, that post actually generated some interesting comments and almost started a debate on parenting in general. I’m pretty darn proud of that. But I’m realizing that the Pants Situation has spilled over into other areas of our family life.
And it’s not about pants. It’s about control. Who has it, who keeps it and who doesn’t.
One of our family things is our weekly Saturday night dinner. We don’t eat out during the week, so Saturday is our one time to head out for a meal. If you’re like me, you’re thinking – score! Diverse Big City equals unlimited dining options!
Wrong. That was before we had kids. Now, in an effort to be fair, we rotate each week on who gets to choose the restaurant. That plan has totally backfired. Why? Well, in a city where you can literally get anything from Colombian to Indian to Moroccan to Mongolian to Sardinian (all in a four-block radius), the picky-eating minions have sentenced us to The Cursed C’s.
Chili’s, Carinos and Chuy’s. Blegh. Mediocre chain restaurants on a good day. (Although I will go to Chuy’s just for the jalapeno ranch. Seriously, it’s that good. Try it.)
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. We opened that can of worms, we’re the adults and we created the monster. We should just put our feet down and put on the pants, right? Sure. And every Saturday night – scratch that, Saturday from noon on – would turn into a poutfest, whinorama, drama-king performance. No thanks. So on those occasions we turn over the pants to the minions with the (slim) hope that we can get them to at least try a few grains of fried rice, pho or kebab one of these days.
But speaking of pants, the control situation doesn’t end there. The Spouse and I had this debate early on in our relationship and again in the first weeks of our marriage. Bottom line – I grew up in a household where the Alpha Female wore the pants. Unequivocally. And, just to be clear, I was most definitely not the Alpha. I didn’t like it, but I decided early on that I wasn’t cut out to be the kind of wifey who never wore pants and hung on Hubby’s every word with bated breath for the next command. I saw that in action more than once. When a male friend sat down at the table to a fully cooked meal, then turned to his wife (who was trying to get the kid’s plate ready and fill a bottle for the baby at the same time) to say, ‘Babe, how am I supposed to eat this without a fork,’ I threw up in my mouth a little. Took all my self control not to scream ‘Dude, turn around, reach six inches to the drawer and get it yourself. She’s freaking busy right now!!’
I kept my filter on and didn’t say it. Luckily.
Now the Spouse’s take on this has always been that we should share the pants. As he says, it’s more fun that way. Haha. Insert innuendo here. And for the most part, that works out well, except in certain situations.
- If I try to comment on his driving. He actually hogged the pants one time and shot back that comments on his driving “would not be tolerated.” That’s a quote. I love you honey, but that one threw me for a loop.
- And on the flip side – if little things get left out around the house – I’ve been known to steal the pants and issue commands and ultimatums about cleaning up after yourself.
Either way, it works for us. But my question is – how are some people able to completely manipulate their kids/significant others/coworkers into just letting them wear the pants 24/7?? We’re talking major life and work decisions here. Things like ‘I refuse to work because I don’t want to, and you will support me in this,’ or ‘Starla and Magnus must go to the private school whose minimum tuition is $50K.’ Seriously. I’ve heard it. And, being exposed to the Stepford Wives’ club the way that I have, all of that and more happens.
WTHeck??! Like I said, sharing the pants works for us, but really? Part of me wonders what these others have that I don’t – if I even tried that level of manipulation the Spouse would just laugh and then school me on how miserable I would be if I got away with it.
Hmph. Guess I’ve got too much conscience for that.
DISCLAIMER: ALL REFERENCES TO ACTUAL PEOPLE AND/OR EVENTS IN THE LATTER PART OF THIS POST HAVE BEEN ALTERED AND FICTIONALIZED. SITUATIONS DESCRIBED ARE NOT ACTUAL EVENTS, BUT RATHER A MIX OF OBSERVATIONS OVER THE YEARS. THIS POST IS NOT DIRECTED AT ANY ONE PERSON OR INDIVIDUAL.
IF YOU FEEL YOUR UNDIES GETTING IN A TWIST, MAYBE YOUR PANTS ARE ON WRONG!! FIND WHAT FITS BEST FOR YOU!
Just a couple of things before moving on from yesterday’s post. I am all for tough love. I use it liberally and often. Especially with the pants issue. And I must say that, generally, the minions have learned that it does help to wear a jacket when it’s chilly outside. But the pants thing – well, two specific issues made me flex the mom muscle.
First, both minions get strep like clockwork – at least once a year. It hasn’t hit yet, so odds are it’s coming. Since the Spouse and I both work, it’s tricky if we have a sick minion. Not to mention the fact that strep is nasty, we try to avoid it, and if a kid is dressed appropriately that cuts down on the sickness factor.
Second, I really don’t want to get that call from the teacher. The one saying, ‘I’m sure you don’t realize that your child left the house this morning with shorts, a t-shirt and no jacket.’ Call me defensive – but knowing the school system as I do, a call like that can pretty much translate to ‘Negligent Parent.’ I don’t need that label, or even the hint of it right now – or ever. So it’s really a Catch-22. Let them freeze and get the school involved, or flex the mom muscle and back off of the tough love. Just this once – I’m flexing the muscle and backing off.
Moving on. I had a day off with the minions yesterday. Good times. Cleaning house, movie and roller rink. Then a nap. I needed a day to recharge and regroup after Friday’s work-related craziness.
What kind of craziness? I’ll gladly tell you. I jokingly say that my office is pretty much Mad Men without the constant smoking and martinis. It’s a bustling dynamic that is SO different from the elementary school vibe. I love it. Working around a bunch of sales guys is refreshing. Sorry, ladies, but men just don’t have the mood swings that we do. If they get mad, they get mad. Cuss a little, storm around, and it’s done. No grudges or smoldering afterwards. Awesomeness. I can totally handle that.
But last week I hit the wall. Seems like everyone decided to come back Thursday and Friday stressed and feeling behind on anything work related. Needs were urgent, immediate and all top priority. Which was fine. I’d much rather be too busy than bored on any given day. I thrive on it. For some reason, though, last week it was just too much. Along with my normal training classes to teach and marketing materials to revise and edit I was asked to give a presentation in a meeting. Pretty big deal, too. Showing a client all of the tech resources available to our guys on a daily basis.
After the meeting was rescheduled three times, I was definitely prepared. If nothing else, prepared to get it done. And then it happened.
The guy leading the meeting introduced me as ‘one of the office gals.’
Excuse me? What is this, 1958?That was my first thought, and then it hit me. I really do work in Mad Men.
I kept my filter on, and that’s pretty much all I’ll say about it here. Other than the fact that I was never asked to give my presentation. But I did get the pleasure of sitting through the entire two hour meeting. And that was only the beginning of my Friday. Ho hum.
And I know that I’m really working on thinking and saying things positively this month, so I can honestly say that…
I am positive that, today, if I hear about crafty mamas who ‘only’ have X hours to craft each day in the midst of keeping the house and minding the minions – I will scream. Or at least punch someone in the throat. I’m pretty sure that, however frustrated they may be, no one in their home refers to them as a ‘gal.’
So, I’m not exactly starting with the unachievable goal this month. If you read yesterday’s post, you read about my resolution of the month plan for this year. And here’s January’s goal:
Walk the Talk.
The art is courtesy of one of my favorite kids’ authors, Phil Bildner. I can’t take credit for it – but he’s the one who gave me this idea. Basically I’m going to work on practicing what I preach. I’m really good at snarking on people who annoy me. Those little (and sometimes not-so-little) things that people do that really tick me off. Nemeses included. I let it get to me, build up and eventually explode. And you know what? I’m sick of it. Not just sick of those things that people do that get to me, but I’m sick of my reaction. Hence Walk the Talk.
And that means:
- Making a point NOT to do the pet peeves I gritch about in other people: excessive humble bragging, grammatical errors, publicizing how smart I think I am, etc.
- Setting an example of my expectations with my kids.
- If I AM going to complain or call someone else to task about something, I need to make sure my own side of the street is clean first.
- Working as hard on my thinking as my actions.
The last one is going to be the hardest. I can already tell. Like I’ve said before, I’ve got a strong filter. So not saying negative snarky things is usually pretty easy for me. Until I reach my boiling point, that is. It’s the thinking that I really need to work on. Because, honestly, my head usually defaults to the negative. Sad to say, but it’s true. I remember reading about some kind of therapy a few months ago that involves wearing a rubber band around your wrist and snapping yourself with it if you catch yourself doing whatever it is that you shouldn’t be doing. Pretty good idea, huh?
I have a feeling I’m gonna need a BIG THICK rubber band! We’ll see if I end up with welts on my wrist before the week is out!
Now there’s a word you can’t just say normally. You have to use a gravelly voice and draw out the ‘s’ sound. Nemesisss.That’s better. And let me clear one thing up for any of you non-sci-fi peeps who happen to be reading today. If it’s not obvious from the pic, I’m a Trekker. Not a Trekkie. Yes, there is a difference. While I have nothing but the utmost respect for Spock, Chekov, Sulu and Kirk, I definitely prefer Jean-Luc Picard and crew. And speaking of Picard, this is his nemesisss – Praetor Shinzon. Creepy huh?
Back to the topic now. Sorry about the minor tangent, but I had to clear that up. Growing up in the ‘burbs and living there now, it seems that I’ve pretty much always had a nemesis of some sort – because being in and around the city so much has exposed me to all sorts of people with all sorts of talents. At least since middle school. It has to do with my competitive streak. See, I’m an only child, a perfectionist, and extremely competitive. Always have been. No matter what it was, I’ve always wanted to be at the top of the heap and have focused insane amounts of energy to get there. Which, for some reason, has always put me in a position of having a nemesis – real or imagined.
I know, I know. So many moms these days blog about their kids and how adorable they are. Mine are too. Of course. But there are times, being a boymom, where situations arise in which my loving spouse and I just look at each other and think WTH??! Honestly. It doesn’t help that, in addition to their stinkin’ cuteness, both of my guys are incredibly smart. Off the charts. Spouse and I realized this early on, also with the realization that – as they get older – we’re screwed. One of the reasons we stopped at two. Our usual response, when asked if we’d like to try again for a girl, is ‘Are you kidding??‘ Now I love my guys, but believe me when I say – lovingly – that we are blessed enough.
A few years ago, my mom (after she stopped laughing and wiped away the tears running down her face from the hilarity of the story I’d just told) commented that I should write a book. Because you just can’t make this stuff up. Well, I haven’t written that book – yet – because I figure that they haven’t produced their best material – yet. But I have started a list. And I thought today that I would share some of those stellar parenting moments with you.
Case 1: The Friday night the boys decided to save time and take one shower. Yeah, I know – that’s a loaded gun. But I caved. Until I heard the screaming laughter coming from the bathroom. I walked in on the middle of their contest – to see who could make the bigger butt print on the shower door. That’s my new Friday night, folks. I know you’re jealous.
Case 2: The Christmas both guys got toy light sabers (retractable, of course) and had a Jedi war in the living room. I went to my room to read a book. A few minutes later, the boys came in – with the light sabers hanging from the front of their pants – in the middle. Honestly, you have to get the mental picture. As I picked myself up off the floor laughing R said, “What? This is where Jedi keep their light sabers when they’re not using them.”
Case 3: The summer when the spouse and I were totally engrossed in reading The Deathly Hallows. Boys were playing in their rooms. It got quiet. Too quiet. We knew we should go check on them but had to finish the chapter. Upon entering V’s room we found – and I still cringe at this – that they had decided to create a snowstorm with baby powder. I’m still cleaning it out of the grooves in his laundry hamper – six years later.
Case 4: Last Sunday. Church. Boys rebelled against kids’ service and were sitting with us. They got a bit antsy so I used my mom’s trick of letting them draw on the church bulletin. Never again. R’s masterpiece was in the New Member photo insert – he’d added horns, fangs, a goatee and a cape to one poor young man. Back to kids’ service on Sunday.
Case 5: 4th grade science. The mealworm unit – which is why I never taught science. They’re like big maggoty grubs. At the end of the unit, R’s teacher ‘let’ every kid bring home their mealworm. Ours was named John. Little did I know that John would turn into a gross black beetle. And R loves him, so there’s no ‘cleaning’ and accidentally disposing of him.
Case 6: One of my all-time favorites, and the one I’m saving for rehearsal dinner stories someday. About five years ago. Driving. Smackdown ensued in the back seat – so loud and violent that I finally had enough. Turns out the boys were fighting over a book. I whipped the car over to the shoulder, jammed on the brakes, turned around, held out my hand and demanded, ‘Give it to me. NOW.‘ Yanked the book away from them, turned around, and looked down to see what on earth was causing so much violence.
The title of the book?
Sharing and Caring with Elmo. Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up.
And I thought my life would be boring once I had kids. Hmmm…
Where does the time go? It doesn’t seem possible that I have a second and a fourth grader! Somehow I wonder where those snuggly little bundles of mine went. Makes me sad for a minute, and then I remember the stuff I’ve blocked out: diapers for two, washing bottles, sippy cups, cleaning endless amounts of Cheerios out of the car…
And I’m loving the big little guys I have now. Way to rock the new school, Bells!
I must admit, being a mom does have its perks. Apart from the obvious, I mean. Especially having two boys. How else can an adult justify Saturday morning cartoons? Well, when the little guys invite me to sit down with my coffee, snuggle with them and hang out – it’s hard to refuse. Over the years I have endured countless hours of the Wiggles, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and (while gritting my teeth) Handy Manny ad infinitum. But now that they’re older, my guys’ interests have evolved into everything Star Wars and superheroes. I can freely indulge my secret hankering for science fiction and Spider Man, among others.
One of the boys’ first ‘big kid’ discoveries was Ben 10. As cool of a show as it is (in all its incarnations) for sheer superhero value, it was really awesome to find out that a friend of mine from UNT, Kristopher Carter, composes the music! Way cool! I remember doing some studio work for his early demo reels during undergrad days. Anyway – check it out if you haven’t seen it – even my loving spouse can appreciate Keven Levin’s tricked-out ride…
A recent discovery (by the boys of course) is Phineas and Ferb. At first I thought it was annoying. Just annoying. But there’s something for adults in every episode. References that true children of the 80’s will get. Sure, your kids will love the characters and their older sister who makes it her mission to bust them with the parents every chance she gets. But – trust me on this one – only you grownups will get the James Bond nods, Grease-esque music videos that permeate every episode, knocks on the Girl Scouts and song references. Where else would you catch song lyrics like ‘there’s a party in my pants’ without ever quoting a word? Way cool stuff. So yes, whenever my guys invite me for cartoon couch time I dive right in. Every time.
So whether you’re diving downtown or stuck in the suburbs like me, I challenge you to indulge your inner child. Check out the ‘toons. I don’t care how many things you have to do on a Saturday AM. You have a thousand things to do. I get it. But take some time, check them out, let out the kid in you and enjoy. There’s no shame! And you just might find yourself enjoying a good laugh – not to mention upping your coolness factor with the kiddoes. Trust me – it’s awesome!