Late for Work: Kids versus no Kids

Remember those days before you had kids, when you’d show up late for work? Some days, you’d stroll in, bloodshot eyes, hair smelling vaguely of cigarette smoke and dirty bar. The smell of coffee walked the line between the scent of salvation and the rank of what might lead you to expose last night’s menu in your cubicle trash can. Other days, you were late solely because you were changing outfits 40 times, or putting the final touch on your hair or makeup. Or, and most likely, because you hit the snooze button a few too many times.

Flash forward – you have kids now. Yes, you still have an inappropriate relationship with your alarm clock. And the smell of coffee remains – your only hope for the long day ahead. When you show up late for work, your eyes may still be bloodshot, but your hair likely smells like spit up, or the urine that splashed upon you as you attempted to change your preschooler’s wet sheets, while not waking his big brother in the top bunk.

Indeed, I was late for work this morning because my four-year old had peed his bed in the middle of the night and I was there, changing his sheets at 6am. If it was just this, I could have made it in time. But, no. Despite the fact that I did laundry ALL weekend and last night, this same child had NO underwear. I’m not kidding. I went through his entire underwear drawer. Nada. Where does the underwear go? My first grader just had the same issue with pants. We did laundry and yet – nothing. Are the children wearing multiple pairs of pants and underwear out of the house and depositing them across the city? Or, are there evil laundry trolls sneaking into my house in the middle of the night and stealing all the clean laundry? Again – another no-kids versus kids problem. When you don’t have kids, chances are you’re not searching for size 4 Batman underwear to save the day. But, I digress.

When you stroll in, late for work as a single person, you’re sometimes met with smirks and the, “mmm hmmm” kind of look. When you stroll in, late for work as a mom, those looks and comments change to, “Oh, I remember once when my son… (insert parenting horror story here.)” That is, if your coworkers are parents. If not, see the prior reaction for single people being late.

Either way, there’s grace in knowing that some day – years from now – my kids will be late to work, thanks to their kids. That is, after their years of outfit changes and alarm clock issues. (Okay, fine. The alarm clock issue never does go away.) Until then, there’s always coffee.

No “Thank You?”

Have you ever had that moment of realization as a mom? That moment when you realize, without a doubt, what a dick you were to your parents as a kid? The first time I encountered this was when I was about 23 and had this moment of clarity that my parents might actually know something that I don’t. That wasn’t so much me feeling like a jerk, as much as a second of wonder and awe that I’d never caught on to their intelligence until then.

My most recent, jaw-dropping realization hit me more like a ton of bricks: I was an ungrateful beast!

This discovery came after an evening out with my daughter. I’d taken her and a friend for a real (expensive) treat: getting a pedicure (which somehow turned into a manicure, as well, without my prior permission.) By the end of it, I was out a chunk of change, but it felt worth it to do something extra special on a girls night. They were thrilled – with smiles from ear to ear. Then, we got in the car and they immediately started asking me what was next. “Are we going out for dinner?” “Lets go get ice cream.” “How about Starbucks?” Um, how about some gratitude?!

I understand, being a parent is a thankless job for the most part. But it really shouldn’t be! It’s our jobs to teach our children manners, respect and thankfulness and obviously I’m not doing the best job at that.

As I was sitting here, feeling sorry for myself about how ungrateful my kids were (especially after I made them banana splits and instead of saying “thank you,” they told me I’d gotten their order wrong…) I realized I had never truly thanked my parents. They raised me with proper manners, so I know I’d said the obligatory, “thank you” in the past. But, had I really meant it? 

At this point, I texted my mom. Yes, texted. Because had I called her, I probably would have been a complete mess, sobbing into the phone in such a way that only your mother can comprehend what you are saying. So yes, I texted her. I started with the “I’m sorry” and then moved into the “thank you” for everything I could think of all these years later: feeding me, clothing me, cleaning up my barf, comforting me after I’d barfed, etc. And she laughed. You see, she’d come to this same realization about her own mother years before. Apparently, it’s all very cyclical in nature: Daughter is a jerk to mom until years later her daughter is a jerk to her and she apologizes to her mother. And repeat.

So, 25 years. I guess that’s when I can expect my “thank you.” Until then, I’ll teach them all the manners and the times they should say it and pray that at some point they’ll really feel it and be truly thankful for those around them. And not just me. 

One last thing: my daughter did hug me and tell me, “thank you for today,” which was the sweetest thing I could have asked for. And, for the record, they do say it, just not all the time…

Two Times Two Equals Four

Four years old is an interesting age. It’s funny, scary, adorable, innocent, silly, frustrating, loving…. need I go on?

My four-year old has had a tumultuous last two 24 hours. He had his belated four-year old check up – which led to some interesting results. The two things he remembered most from that appointment?

“They gave me shots and it hurt and there was lots of blood!” (There really was. I’ve never seen an injection site bleed like that!!!)

AND

“Don’t look at ladies’ boobs. The doctor said they don’t like that.”

Yes, indeed. His pediatrician mentioned – to me – how I should stress to my son that he shouldn’t be checking out the lady parts (which he is prone to). I guess if the doctor says it, it must be true. He’s been pretty good about it today, although he did get sent home from school this morning. Not for cat calling… His legs hurt from all those shots!

You have to love the point-blank nature of the four-year old. My eight year old commented on this the other day – after his little brother was sent to his room, mid-tantrum. He said to me, “Why do they call them ‘Terrible Twos?’ Four is much worse! It’s two times two!” How true is that? I’m thinking of making up T-shirts…

What age have you found to be the most challenging  for kids?

 

 

 

Desperate Choices and Soap Flavored Discipline

My daughter has been reading this book in school about Nazis in Copenhagen. Before that it was a book about post-slavery times in the South. Yeah – it’s a whole load of fun in fifth grade…

Anyway, the book talks about a Jewish family that leaves their 10-year-old daughter with her best friend so she can be hidden safely from the Nazis. After reading that specific chapter last night, I asked my daughter if she understood what the situation was. We talked about Nazis and why certain people hated other people. Then, I explained the choice this character’s parents had to have made: run with their daughter, or hide her. I asked her to imagine Christians being persecuted and our family having to decide if we should take our kids and run away and face us all being murdered, or hide our children with friends to try to save them. She started to cry. It really hit her then. She asked if that really happened, like they said in the book. We talked about why some people think they are better than other people and the dangers of that kind of thinking. Then we talked about the importance of helping each other in this life – and spreading positivity and good will. Spreading God’s love.

After she went to bed, I started really thinking about the choice those parents made – as did so many others during those desperate times. I cannot imagine what that must have been like. Is it better to stay together as a family – no matter the consequence – or hide some members to try to save them? I’m not qualified to even pretend to know the answer to that one.

In order to not suffer from nightmares on this very topic all night long (which was too late because I had the WORST dreams about my kids after that) – I tried to focus on the brighter moments of my day. You know, like when my four-year old couldn’t get something to work and started stomping his foot and screaming, “Damn it!” Said – while smiling, of course. I took his hand and walked him to the bathroom, grabbed the soap and put the bar in his mouth. He did nothing. No reaction. Wait, I take that back. He smiled. Didn’t gag. Smiled. So.. yeah… we’re going to need to work on other ideas for foul-mouthed babes.

The Birds and the Bees – 10 Things We Should Really Include in “The Talk”

We’ve had “the talk” in our house. A few times. A few different ways. But, the other day a girlfriend and I were discussing how we really should have been more prepared in our youth for the tactics of pervy boys. We’d both been given “the talk” – but that can only prepare you for so much. Devious boys (and girls) can really throw you for a loop.

So, I found myself talking myself into yet another “talk” with my 11-year-old daughter:

“Do kids in your grade have boyfriends or girlfriends?” I inquired.

“Yeah, (insert name of friend from class) has a boyfriend.” She answered.

“Do they kiss?” I asked – attempting to play it cool.

“Yeah.” Uh oh – we’re entering the monosyllabic responses…

“What would you do if a boy tried to kiss you?” I implored.

“RUN.” She replied, without skipping a beat.

 

I went on to explain that one day, she’ll want to be kissed – and tried to delve deeper into that realm of conversation, before she changed directions and asked me to buy her ice cream.

Since the traditional talk leaves out quite a bit – what do you think – now that you are older – should be added?

Below are my ten items. Please, add your own. What do you wish you could have told your younger self? Also – please note, I have aimed these toward my daughter – but these can all apply in various forms toward boys.

 

Ten Things We Should Really Include in “The Talk”

10. Whatever you write in a text, note (kids don’t do that anymore, do they?) or email – be sure it’s proper enough that you could read it to your Grandpa.

9. Never take naked or suggestive pictures of yourself. Ever. Things live on the internet forever.

8. If you ever get that uncomfortable gut feeling that something is wrong, trust it.

7. Nothing good happens in a boy’s bedroom.

6. At some point – a boy will try to reach down your pants. “NO!” always means no. ALWAYS.

5. If you tell a date “NO!” – you need to say it firmly. Don’t giggle. Say no and mean it. If he doesn’t respect you – he doesn’t deserve you. Walk away.

4. If a date ever hits you or threatens to hit you, that’s it. No second chances offered in this category. You don’t need him. There are other, much more deserving, people out there. It may not feel like it and he will tell you that you are overreacting. You are not. Chances are, if he hits you once – he’ll do it again.

3. If a date ever calls you a name, the same rules apply from #4.

2. At some point – a boy will try to reach up your shirt. Slapping his hand away is perfectly acceptable. So is saying you want to go home.

1. You can always call me. No matter what. You get a judge-free card.

 

 

 

Cookies, Chaos and Camo Crosses

My girlfriends and I used to have this tradition. Every Christmas break, we’d get together and bake cookies. A lot of cookies. We’d bake them, package them and deliver them to clients, coworkers, family and friends. That, my friends, was several kids ago. The tradition died off for a few years – as more and more babies entered the picture.

This year, we decided to try the tradition again. Just her and me and our 11, 8, 8, 3, 3 and 1 year olds. What could go wrong?

A lot. A lot can go wrong when you bake attempt to bake cookies with children. At first, the two-three year olds and the one year old sat on the counter, watching. Then, they decided to help. It was with the “helping” that things began to go awry. We were adding ingredients by measured cup and tablespoon, a scene from a classic American tale. But, soon, the recipe became one that we all know – all too well, when we added the extra ingredient of distraction:

1 cup of sugar

“Wait, how many cups did you just add?”

Turning around to grab the cinnamon

1 teaspoon of….

“Whoa! Boys – wait – wait!”

Another cup of sugar

“Why does the batter look funny? How many cups of sugar did we put in? Better add another.”

Bake

Results: flat, cratered looking brownish white sugary tasty things.

 

Everything we made that day became something that only slightly resembled what we were trying to make. But, we still had fun.

Speaking of cookies: my youngest – one of the ones “helping” bake the cookies – lost his repeatedly all morning long. Lets hope “contagion” isn’t the gift our family will be giving this year.

Lastly, I wanted to offer this cautionary tale about asking your kids to be more detailed about their Christmas lists. My children wrote their letters to Santa, requesting items like:

a horse

a dog

dog food

every American Girl imaginable

a blue lava lamp

a blue pocket knife

 

So, when I asked my second grader what he really wanted for Christmas – in an attempt to get him to say something that Santa could actually provide – we have a no-live-animals policy – my son replied that he wanted a cross.

“What kind of cross?”

“A cross necklace.”

(At this point, I was not surprised – this is the same son, after all, that says he wants to be a Saint when he grows up.)

“Anything special about the necklace?” This is where I went horribly wrong. A cross necklace Santa can do. What he answered would prove to be a challenge.

“Yes. It has to be camo.”

As you might imagine, Santa and all his helpers have been in search for the requested item ever since. Santa found one online, but they wanted more in shipping than they did to for the item itself. Grr. Anyway, Santa has found something that may work. Here’s hoping.

Merry Christmas, my friends. Here’s to friends, family, Christmas cookies, and not losing yours.

God bless you all!

 

 

“I was SO embarrassed!” – aka, the mantra of all tween girls

Last night, in one single conversation, my daughter must have repeated the phrase, “I was so embarrassed” at least a handful of times. At first, she was recounting the events of watching a movie at school the Friday before. It came to a scary part and her little brother – who is eight – got a tad freaked out and came to sit with her. He sat on her lap. She consoled him. And then, in his words, “She screamed at me and told me to go away!” Why? Because she was “so embarrassed.” You see, she’s eleven and she was sitting with her friends at the time. Apparently, in fifth grade, having your second grade brother sit on your lap is uncool.

The same day she was telling me the tale of woe of her brother cuddling up with her at school, she was knocked in the face by that very same brother – while he was sledding. The sled came up and whacked her right in the cheek. It turned purple and was swollen. That night, she asked me to check it again. The swelling and discoloration had gone down, but apparently her anxiety over it had not. When I asked her why she was so worried, she said, she’d be “so embarrassed” if she went to school with a black eye.

And so it begins. We had a nice chat about how beauty is skin deep and that what really matters is on the inside. Yeah, try telling that to a tween girl. Is there a way to skip ahead to that level of maturity where you have self-confidence measured with humility? No? Okay then. Fine. Anyone have any tips on dealing with self-conscious girls?

 

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