My Life as a Taxi Cab Driver

No, I’m not adding a new line to my resume – but I might as well!

My two oldest school aged children have joined sports teams. “Ah, how cute!” you say. “Add that to their college applications,” you suggest. Yeah – it’s great. Until you look at my new schedule on paper.

Next week, for example, my daughter has a game in one town at 3:30 and my son’s game is at 5, in another town, 45 minutes away. Did I mention I don’t get off work until 5 – in yet another town? GAH!

How are you supposed to make it all work?

My girlfriend and I were just discussing scheduling this morning. It seems there’s always something. Every night, an activity. And at some point, you have to fit in homework and other little things like eating and sleeping and actually interacting with your child in a more meaningful way than just barking out the commands, “Get in the car! We’re late!”

Has life always been this stressful for every generation? I swear, as a kid, I went to school, did my homework, did the chores, played Barbies and maybe – just maybe – watched a half hour of TV on one of the five available channels. When did things get so complicated?

What’s your solution to life in overload? How do you get around without changing your title to Taxi Cab Driver?

 

 

The Ick Factor

Okay, we’re parents. We’ve seen gross things. Barf. Poop. Barf and poop at the same time. Getting spit up on. Getting spit up in your own mouth. Yep, we’ve all been there. But, sometimes, the ick factor is really taken to its limits.

Enter my preschooler.

Today, he fell down on the playground. They said there was a lot of blood, but that the cut itself wasn’t too bad. They were more worried about getting the wound cleaned out – there were a lot of little rocks in there. So, we took him to the doctor. No stitches, but they were going to have to get to those rocks.

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They put the numbing cream on. (That’s the white stuff on his knee.) Then, we waited. He’d just about calmed down again when the doctor came back in the room and said the words my 4-year-old certainly didn’t want to hear, “We’re going to have to cut that flap of skin to get the rocks out.”

“Cut the flap? CUT THE FLAP?!” my 4-year-old repeated, alarmed.

It took two nurses and my ex husband to hold his legs while I held his hands so the doctor could cut. I tried my best to whisper positive things into my baby boy’s ear, while tears wet his cheeks. But, at some point, I realized I was no longer talking. Instead, I was praying it would be over quickly, all while realizing I was starting to feel a little light-headed.

No, I didn’t pass out. No, my little one didn’t pass out. In fact, he was good as new (except for the massive bandage) once he got a popsicle. But, I certainly felt that if I had to look into that patch of freshly cut flesh anymore, that I’d soon hit the ground.

So, my question to you seasoned veterans of parenting is, what’s your breaking point? When does the ick factor enter in for you?

The Girlfriend’s Guide to Back to School Shopping

I’ve done back to school shopping a few times. Several times. Okay – 10, to be exact – not including shopping for myself. 10 times makes me a seasoned expert, right? Let’s go with that.

My friend has a soon-to-be kindergartener on her hands. She’s feeling a tad overwhelmed by the whole prospect of school supply shopping. Sure, she’s shopped for preschool, but kindergarten? That’s the big leagues. They’re not just eating glue anymore. My friend will assuredly have this under control – but there are things we learn only from experience – knowledge I can impart on her as to what is a necessity and what is not.

First things first – the backpack. “Do you get the nice, sturdy kind that will last a few years or the fun one she wants?” my friend asked. “The fun one,” I replied instantly. Now, those who know me may be surprised by this response. Typically, I am much more in the camp of “function over fashion.” However, I’m also a mother of three kids under the age of 12 and I know when to pick my battles. A fun backpack serves dual purposes: it gets your kid off your back, because, believe you me, they will want every cool school supply on the planet – you know, the ones that cost at least 10 times more than the perfectly good plain one – and this is one big area you can let them make their own statement, and, despite the fact that the fun backpacks are typically pieces of junk you will end up having to replace mid-year (especially when your kids drag them across the freaking playground!) they serve as great memory keepers. Your kiddo will bring home dozens of pieces of cherished artwork and assignments and projects that he/she can’t ever part with. And you’ll need a place to store all those memories. Insert now-trashed well-loved backpack.  Fill it at the end of each school year. This will be your storing-house for all those mementos. Each year, you get a new backpack for a year’s worth of memories. It’s actually very sweet.

Next, we move onto the rest of the supplies. Here’s an average kindergarten supply list:

Kindergarten Class:

___ Pencil/school supply box for desk

___  Sharp, pointed school scissors

___ 6 – No. 2 pencils w/pink erasers

___ Crayons, 2 boxes of 8 basic colors (for math)

___ Crayons, 1 box for art

___ Wide point washable markers (8 basic colors, only)

___ Small 8-10 watercolor paint set with brush

___ Change of clothes

 

As I mentioned before, there will be varying levels of each item. Lets take the pencil box, for example. One year, on a shoestring budget, I found the $.33 version. It was yellow. Basic. Plastic. It worked. My daughter, however, found the $14 Hannah Montana version. It was essentially the same product, but with Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus (pre-twerking days) face plastered all over it, and an accompanying 42 times increase in price. Get the cheap yellow box. Or, get the fashionable one. But, this is where you need to take your stand. Let your child choose one fancy item and stick with that. Otherwise, what could be a $20 shopping trip will turn into an excursion equivalent to a car payment.

Scissors, pencils, erasers, watercolors – go cheap. Crayons/markers – look through your stuff at home. Did Grandma give you multiple boxes over the last few years? Take those. Save yourself some money, now. You have years of this ahead of you. The same applies for older kids. Make them take an inventory of the supplies they still have from last year before you do any shopping. And, keep in mind, if you find great stuff on sale – think of the kids that don’t have any supplies. There are always donation boxes at stores and churches.

Parents of school age kids – what other advice would you give to the first-timers?

 

 

 

 

Being Left Out Sucks

Waiting in line for a ride – and just as you reach the front, they put up the rope and tell you you’ll have to wait until next time.

The team captains are choosing players in kick ball and you’re the last person chosen out of the whole gym class.

They’re handing out Drumsticks and you’re the only one left not holding an ice cream cone.

Being left out sucks.

My kids are learning the hard way lately how being left out is lame. My 12-year-old daughter was crying the other night that (and stop me if you’ve heard this from a pre-teen before) “all my friends are going on field trips and I’m not and I feel really left out!” My 8-year-old son had a similar experience when his friends “fired him” from his club he and his buddies started at their day camp. And my 4-year-old complained about being the only kid not to get to have a friend over after school. Everyone is being left out one way or another.

All of us at some point have been left out. It sucks. And yet, it’s a lesson we all have to learn. Yeah, yeah, got that. But, how do you explain that to your kids? You just want to nuzzle them and hold them close and secretly call their so-called friends “jerks” in your head. But, how do you help your child through it?

What do you tell your children when they complain of being left out?

 

 

Lose 10 Pounds This Week

Okay, so the title of this post may be slightly deceiving. I have no idea how much weight you could actually lose – but based on the amount of sweat dripping from my body last night – it might be a lot!

The Mommy Exercise Plan

Step 1 – Agree to the many requests by your children to go to the park.

Step 2 – Dress in something that’s okay to get sweaty. And dirty. Dress your kids in helmets and gear.

Step 3 – Run after your kids as they bike to the park. Don’t worry – all those pauses and walking you do when they get off their bikes to look at an ant marching down the street or investigate the pile of dried up dog poop on the corner will be made up for in the all-out sprints you will perform when they get a little too close to the intersection.

Step 4 – Arrive at the park. Catch your breath. You’ll need it.

Step 5 – Proceed with an intense game of “Zombie Mommy.” Zombie Mommy – if you don’t know – is when the children run from you while giggling as you chase them from one piece of playground equipment to the next. Be prepared to stop on a dime as they suddenly claim, “NO, Mom! You DIDN’T tag me, because I’m on the swing and the swing is base! Duh!”

Step 6 – Pause briefly to catch your breath while random children approach you and ask you to play with them as well. And chase them. Make eye contact with said children’s parents to make sure they know you’re not some weirdo chasing their children around a playground while making growling Zombie sounds.

Step 7 – You’ve caught a child. Carefully throw the child to the ground – carefully, I said! Tickle the child and say in a friendly-Zombie-tone (yeah, you can do it) that you’re going to eat their brains. Release them. Repeat steps 5-7 for about half an hour.

Step 8 – It’s time to tell the kids – in your non-Zombie regular mom voice- that it’s time to go home. Threaten to not play Zombie Mommy again if they don’t listen.

Step 9 – Perform step 3 in reverse. Run after them all the way home.

Step 10 – Collapse into a sweaty pile on your couch.

 

Congratulations – you’ve just burned a million calories, played with your kids and tired them (and you) out for the evening. Give yourself 1.5 hours total for this exercise.

Oh – and it’s worth noting – despite the fact that you made eye contact with the other kids’ parents, you may still be perpetually labeled as the “crazy mom who chases kids at the park.”

 

 

 

The Waiting Game

My friend’s 5-year-old daughter (let’s call her “M”) has a loose tooth. For months, this child has been relentless, demanding her parents tell her when she would lose her first tooth. Now that it’s loose, well, now that’s a different matter.

As my friend explained this scenario to me, I couldn’t help but draw a comparison to when you first find out you’re pregnant. That growing child inside you consumes your every thought, “When will I start to show?” “When will the baby come?” And then, you’re 9 months pregnant. The realization that this baby has to come out somehow begins to dawn on you.

This sudden realization – that her long-awaited loose tooth must come out – has suddenly sunken in for “M.” Instead of the questions of, “When will I get a loose tooth?!” she’s now asking,

“How is it going to come out?”

“Will it bleed?”
“Will it hurt? What happens if it wiggles loose in my sleep and I breath in at the same time. MOM THEY DON”T dissolve in tummies like food! I DON”T WANT MY TOOTH TO GO IN THE POTTY! What does the tooth fairy REALLY look like? I believe she looks like the fairy on the front of my ‘Good Fairy Book.’ (Brian Froud)”

When my friend explained to her that there are really only two ways about it – patience or yanking it out – she had some very serious reservations about her options. To yank or not to yank is the question.

So, now, while we wait, “M” has become grumpily obsessed, much like an expectant pregnant woman, with when her day will come. Instead of eating basil and driving over railroad tracks, “M” may have a few days (or weeks) of apple eating and slamming doors with a string attached ahead of her.

At least when her day finally comes, she’ll only have a visit from the Tooth Fairy to look forward to and not hours of labor… And by the time her second tooth is loose, she’ll be an old pro. And much like a woman pregnant with her second child, she’ll foolishly think she’s prepared.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: She has since lost her tooth. Drama over. For now. Until next time…

It Strikes Again

I was in the shower, all soaped up, when I heard my youngest son screaming, followed by a thud and then silence. At this point, as I hurriedly washed the suds from my hair and body while simultaneously screaming, “What’s wrong?! Are you okay?! What happened?!” I was trying to decide whether I should be relieved or concerned that the screaming and crying had stopped.

When I got out of the shower, I found my sons playing nicely (and calmly) on the couch. I asked what had happened.

“I zipped my penis up in my pajamas. Again.” said my 4-year-old.

“What was the thud?” I asked.

“That was me getting down from my bed to run and check on him,” replied my 8-year-old. “I told him that happened to me before, too. I said he should hold his hand behind it. And wear underwear.”

Sage advice from one brother to another, I suppose. At least he’d stopped screaming. And yes, he did say, “again.” Just a week or so ago, he’d done the same thing. Same circumstances – no undies. Apparently, free balling it at night is worth the risk.

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