Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Children need sleep, people!

I am a sleep freak when it comes to my kids.  Everyone who knows me knows this.  I protect my kids' betimes like they're national secrets or something.  I will not mess with bedtime.  Exceptions do happen occasionally, you know, like for birthdays or Christmas.  But not for the mall.

Recently I enjoyed some shopping with a friend.  When I say I enjoyed shopping with a friend, you should know that it means my kids weren't with me.  Children belong on necessary errands, not "I really need a cute top for going out" shopping.  It's torture for all involved.  But even when you plan ahead and make arrangements to shop without the munchkins, someone else inevitably has their munchkins along.  This is part of living in a society, I realize, but it doesn't mean that I enjoy it.

So friend and I are shopping the sale racks and picking out items to try on, accompanied in the same aisle by two moms with their kids.  One of the kids simply never stopped crying.  I contend that any other child's voice is less grating and stressful than your own, but that was not the case here.  Constant crying calls for some kind of intervention on the part of the parent, I think.  Eye contact with the child, perhaps some physical comforting, or even a sippy cup, perhaps?  But nope - this mom was utterly unaffected by her child's dismay.  Or mine, for that matter.  Well, that isn't entirely true.  She did look away from her conversation with her friend to yell at the child with a loving and helpful "SHHH!" accompanied by a crusty glare or my personal favorite, "Shut up!"

The friend with whom I was shopping knows what I will inevitably say before I say it, but once the noisemaker family were out of earshot I said it anyway.  "It's almost 8:30.  Those kids should be in bed!"  To be clear, this rule applies to young children, not middle-school students.  Why I think it's appropriate to impose my early bedtime philosophy on others is as follows: I have rarely seen a happy tired child.  Every book I've read & my pediatrician tell me they need 12 hours of sleep.  Now maybe this lady is one of the lucky ones with a 10pm-10am schedule, but I think it's unlikely.  Not many people can pull that off and fill the requirements of their life.  Some kids don't sleep for 12 hours.  I get this.  But they'll sleep at least 8, probably 10, so they could at least be home getting prepped for bed during this scenario.

So I am a sleep freak, I judge other people (duh!), and if you want to keep your kid up til midnight, could you please do it out of earshot of me?  Super!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sorry, Disney, but Target is the Happiest Place on Earth

Errands usually suck with kids, but I am giddy when I run out of razor blades.  Why?  Because Target is like a free vacation!  Well, not free, exactly.  Only the few make it out of Target having spent less than $100, and they've really missed all the fun.  I'm not alone in this sentiment, either.  I see the women there, smiling away at their children, renewed by the options that reveal themselves with each new aisle.  Laundry detergent has never been so appealing!  Ooh, "Fresh Dewey Meadow" - I've never tried THAT scent of Tide.  Thrilling.  Is that a new tampon box design?  Two, please!

What is it about this weird & wonderful place that can bring such joy to the stay-at-home mom?  I suspect bribery is a big part of it.  "Okay, Ignatius, Mommy needs some deodorant.  If you're a good boy, you can have some candy!"  This is folly, of course, since you'll never get out of Target without shoving candy in the kid's face, but I'm not here to judge.  Usually I am, but that's not the point of this post (for a change.)  Some moms just need a change of scenery, and Target provides that with so many easy ways to claim the trip as a necessity.  "But, honey, we needed toilet paper...except the 1,000 rolls that remain from my last trip to Costco."  But Costco is a whole different post.

Target is at its best, by far, when there is a holiday coming.  And they are really good at coming up with holidays for which we didn't even know we needed preparation.  I am a sucker for Halloween.  Can't get enough of the decorations, the candy.  Well, I guess that's about it - decorations & candy.  I think the Halloween addiction stems from my formative years when I always had strep throat.  I'm not kidding.  By the time they finally removed my tonsils when I was 17, the doctor asked to keep them because he'd never seen tonsils so big & messed up.  So I was sick all the time with strep, and feel like I missed multiple Halloweens because of it.  I remember laying on the living room floor watching The Muppet Halloween special in my pj's, hating every kid who got to ring the doorbell.  Traumatic for a kid that thought trick-or-treating was the best thing ever.  This Halloween addiction reached a fever pitch when my younger son was born the day before Halloween.  I now must entertain for his birthday right before Halloween, so our house obviously needs to look like The Munsters just let us move in for the day.

While I am very adept at coming up with reasons I needed to go to Target, made that much easier when my Target got groceries, even I am running out of excuses to see what string of lights I may need to add to the railing or glow-in-the-dark spider webbing that I can add to a corner somewhere.  Plus they have now brilliantly added adorable Halloween attire for toddlers, kids & even pets. How do I resist the Frankenstein T-shirt & skeleton hoodie?  I don't, of course.  Halloween-themed pajamas?  How did I survive without them as a child?  It was practically neglect!  I have spider (2 kinds), skeleton & pumpkin lights.  Let's be honest - the purple LED lights are so cool!  Pretty soon I'll have the full-sized animatronic ghosts & witches on my front porch.  Dear God.  I openly admit my addiction, and am choosing to celebrate is as good parenting - making Halloween fun for the kids.

This is all well and good, but there is a new problem.  Now they're coming out with Thanksgiving lights.  Quick, I need to go check & see if we're out of paper towels - after all, I only have one light-up turkey... so far.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Luck Has Nothing To Do With It

I am getting really tired of hearing how lucky I am.  The first time I got ticked off by being called lucky was years ago when a friend commented on how lucky I was that I liked my job.  Lucky that I went through several crappy jobs to earn that one, lucky that I busted my butt in each of those crappy jobs to make sure I had a decent resume, or lucky that I went to graduate school two nights a week while working full time in order to qualify for that job?

Since then there have been many others.  I'm so lucky that I can stay home with my kids.  I am very happy that I get to do so.  But I really want to say to some of the people commenting on my luck, "Yes, and I'm also lucky that I don't have a new car, or a gym membership, or an awesome wardrobe, or assloads of jewelry, or a nanny like you do."  I spent my 10-year anniversary in the Wisconsin Dells with the kids, people, not on a luxury cruise.  It was actually really fun.  But is my being home really luck, or just budgeting, planning & opportunity?  Conversely, I don't think of my working counterparts as lucky when they go on a nice vacation or get new killer shoes.  They earned them with their commitment to and success in their jobs.

What got me all riled up this time?  I got the "you're one of those lucky women with a good metabolism" comment.  Yep, that's me.  Where were you the past 6 years when I looked like crap?  First it was the delightful year that I was injecting myself with fertility drugs to have my first son, which makes you thick, puffy & crazy.  That was followed by the always slimming pregnancy.  Then nursing & two years of being fat because, really, what was the point of working out if I was just going to get pregnant again?  Then another year of injecting myself with fertility drugs, another pregnancy & nursing period.  My lucky metabolism wasn't making me thin during that attractive time in my life.  But then something amazing happened.  I got off my sorry butt and worked out.  A lot.  I completely changed the way I ate and worked out 6 days a week.  So do I have a lucky metabolism, or just a changed lifestyle that has earned me this body?  I don't recall luck swinging kettlebells or jumping on the treadmill.  Nope, that was me.  I think luck may have been on the couch eating potato chips.

Will I be lucky on my upcoming trip to Vegas?  Statisticians would argue no, and I would agree.  I will win some & lose some.  Some of us will come home with more money than others.  The numbers will favor some of us more than others, and some of us will play with more skill than others.  But that's it.  Luck, it ain't.

I am not a big believer in luck. I believe Pierre Edward Trudeau got it right: "Be ready when opportunity comes... Luck is the time when preparation and opportunity meet."  I guess the Boy Scouts had it right all along: "Always Be Prepared."  And so I shall.  Luck can suck it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Playgrounds: Not That Fun

I spent more than my fair share of time at playgrounds this summer.  It was a nice summer, the kids wanted to go, easy.  Or that's how it should be.  By July I was looking for those parks that no one else seemed to know about because the social interaction between moms & their kids, moms & me,  and my kids & other kids was becoming more than I could bear.

It seems there are 3 kinds of moms at the park:

Mom 1: Fried
I can relate to this mom.  She has gone to the park as a last resort, since in a larger open space the kid's voices at least seem a little more faint.  This mom is not at the park to play with, relate to or even watch her kids.  The only real predicament she causes for me is whether I should touch her child when they are clearly in impending danger.  This mother also seems to have the most talkative kid at the park.  Since I am also typically fried by the time I get to the park, I don't really want Danny Prattlepants following me around telling me he smashed a frog with the very shoe he's wearing now. If I cannot feign interest in my own children's stories, I certainly can't feign interest in yours.

Mom 2: Helicopter
This is the most incongruous of the moms, because she is also typically dressed a little too cute and made up a little too much for the park at 10:30am.  I find this odd because if you must constantly be within arm's reach of your child, how do you iron your Bermuda shorts & apply makeup perfectly?  I swear these women tie their kids up at home, but I have no proof.  You learn this mom's kid's names first, because she is constantly saying them.   "Augustan, don't touch the mulch.  It's yucky!  Augustan, wait for Mommy! Augustan, no running!"  No, I didn't make that name up, and yes, these women use a lot of words like "yucky" & "icky," must buy Purell by the gallon, and have a designer satchel full of healthful snacks for their little offspring.  Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with being prepared or with feeding your kids healthful things.  It's the need to share how healthful these things are, in that lilting, cheerful, always audible voice.  "Okay, Augustan, do you want an organic carrot & apple squeezy or whole wheat crackers with low fat cheese?"  Neither.  He wants Oreos.  So I  have begun bringing snacks I don't otherwise let my kids eat to the park, partly because I think it's funny to watch the Helicopter's appalled faces as my kid gobbles down fruit snacks, but also because it makes her life hell because her kid, of course, wants some.  Diabolical, I know.  

Mom 3: Cliquer
These women are only at the park with other moms.  The same other moms.  At the same time of day each time, the same day each week.  She may break into a dead sweat should she be the first to arrive.  Kind of like the people who can't meet you at the bar because they don't know how to stand there & order a drink alone.  She has beady eyes, darting glances, and spends most of her time at the park speaking to her clique under her breath about (I presume) the other moms.  I can't be sure because she never leaves the safety of her same picnic table where they always meet.  If I cared just a little more I'd have made it a point to observe what day/time they were at a park and would  have parked my ass at their table, just to watch her go into a squirrel-like tizzy with all the mind-reeling change she was facing.  But, alas, I don't care enough to do that much planning.  

The interaction between these women is so fun to watch.  When a Fried's kid gets into it with a Helicopter's kid, there are exasperated glances from the Helicopter to the Fried because she's right there, hovering of course, and is the only one doing anything about it because Fried is staring off into space, inevitably pondering how she ended up here.  I assume the Helicopter's child will be awesome at handling conflict later, since he hasn't gone down a slide without holding her hand, much less actually having to solve a problem with another child, in all his 3-years of life.

When a Helicopter's kid gets into it with a Cliquer, that's the most fun for me.  The Cliquer rolls her eyes & talks to her friends, hoping the issue just goes away.  But Helicopters don't go away, ever.  Just ask their kids.  So the helicopter comes over to the Cliquer & her friends, and says something passive-aggressive like, "I'm not sure if you noticed, but your son pushed little Augustan here, and he hasn't apologized.  Augustan seems fine, but I'm sure you're not comfortable with your son pushing."  So the cliquer goes over and forces her son to apologize, and then spends the rest of the time at the playground talking about the Helicopter.

So, what kind of mom am I? Obviously the only normal one.  Just don't ask the other moms at the park.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Genetics are a Funny Thing

I love watching people's reactions when my dad says, "My goal is to have my funeral in a phone booth."  Most of them don't get it, I think, and the rest aren't quite sure how to react.  Typically it's an awkward chuckle.  The reason I love watching it is because he's serious.  He really hopes to not know anyone that would want to attend his funeral by the time he dies.  I am clearly his daughter.  Hubby really wishes I didn't have this blog.  He's pretty sure my toxic attitude may offend people.  I can't argue successfully against this point, but with my 9 - oh, wait, now 11! - followers, I'm pretty sure we're safe.  And since those followers are all people who know me, if I haven't pissed them off yet, this probably won't do it either.

And yet I didn't get my father's best feature - the ability to sit back & listen to a conversation, only to drop in the perfectly timed one-liner that cracks the place up.  While I can fling the occasional one-liner, people are less likely to notice it in the flurry of other words that are endlessly flowing out of my mouth.  Add vodka and it's exponentially worse.  I cannot shut up.  It is an illness.  But it is who I am, and while I try to fight it, it seems to be winning.  So poor hubby loses, since the words need to come out somewhere, and if I can put some here, I may be able to hold back once in a while.  Maybe.

What does this mean to my kiddos?  Little H believes that every person he meets is his friend.  If you don't have kids you may think this is a universal quality they share, what with their being too naive to see how much people suck, but it is not.  Yet H has this "quality" (lucky me), shouting "Mom, this is my new friend," awkward pause, while he asks the kid's name again, then "Amos!"  And by new friend, H means "this is the kid I've followed around the playground for 5 whole minutes!"  H is SO me.  Both the I can't shut up me and the I don't care who I piss off me.  He will relentlessly follow little Amos around the playground until Amos either begs his mother to leave or finally acknowledges (often against his will) that they are, indeed, FRIENDS!

And then there's JD.  This kid is my father and hubby, all wrapped in one.  Shy and not afraid who he pisses off.  This does not a friendly child make.  He is content, though, something for which neither Little H nor I are known.  With contentment comes contempt with JD, at least at the playground.  Here's the scene:  JD playing happily on his own, usually in the sand.  Over comes an unsuspecting friendly child who says, "Hi!"  This isn't exactly a strong political statement.  JD's reaction?  A death stare.  And this kid is committed.  He will stare right back at unsuspecting friendly child for several minutes until said child either skulks away (his preference), averts their eyes and decently stops talking to JD (acceptable), or cries (unacceptable!  too loud!).  When the crying happens JD will either throw something at the child (typically ineffective at stopping crying) or walk away to do something else where he may not have the horrific experience of being addressed, hopefully ever.

So there I sit, a comfortable distance away, watching these two creatures that are both mine, inevitably smirking or laughing, and once again pissing off the parents of either Amos or unsuspecting friendly child, and this time I'm not even trying.  C'mon people.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hockey Moms Created A Whole Different Category of Sucking

So I'm a hockey mom.  I live in MN, so it was pretty much inevitable.  The next person to tell me I'm crazy to have my kid in hockey may get punched in the throat.  It happens so often that I now have a prepared run-on sentence when talking to other parents about the activities in which my sons are engaged.  It goes, "H plays hockey-which-we-signed-him-up-for-because-it's-really-the-only-thing-he's-interested-in" (big breath).  These people fail to realize the self-control I must exercise when they then present what they consider to be acceptable activities as better alternatives.  Like soccer & T-ball.  Really?  A friend with whom I grew up posted a great quote on facebook recently: "It's no secret I don't like soccer.  It's like watching grass grow, but with a bunch of soccer players in the way."-Stephen Colbert.  Exactly.  And T-ball?  More power to you if you like watching your kids make sand castles out of infield grit, but I do not.  It's not as if I invite these people to watch my kid practice.  I'd deserve a shoot down if I uttered the words, "H is a brilliant & talented hockey player.  Do you want to watch his Monday or Wednesday practice next week?"  But this is not what I do.  I don't need anyone there observing just what a deplorable listener my son is, even when he loves what he's doing.  I just thank God I don't have a girl so no one suggests dance lessons.  I don't have enough space to go off on that one.

Anywho, I digress.  So my kid's in hockey, and while he's only five, in MN that means we have 17 camps to choose from in any season, on average.  The first half of summer H is in a twice a week camp that cost...let's just say it wasn't cheap.  Like I could have gotten two new pairs of Hudsons not cheap.  And yet this is what I overhear from one mom to another during the second session: "These drills seem a little advanced for 5-year-olds, don't they?"  Um, so you spent that kind of ching to watch your kid skate in circles?  WTF?  Also, have you noticed that they aren't too advanced for most of the kids?  I'm just sayin' it might not be your kid's age.  It might be the fact that he has you for a mom - totally drew the short genetic straw on that one!

Hockey, for those of you who are living in a cage and incredibly stupid, is played on ice.  That would mean that even if you have a super cute new pair of Vince Camuto strappys, you probably shouldn't wear them to your kid's hockey practice.  This is also true of low-rise jeans with a shirt that isn't pretty long.  Putting on skates requires squatting, so plan ahead.  Also please refrain from saying, "It's cold in here." Really?  That's as interesting as the people who never tire of putting pictures of their car thermometer or the gas pump price on facebook.  We're all living in the same world people.  We know.  Saying it more than once in one ice session should result in an immediate ass kicking.

Here are a few rules all hockey moms should follow to make my life easier:
1) Hockey practice is not a bar.  I don't need to see your cleavage.  Neither does your kid while you're strapping on their skates.  I mean, ew.
2) It is summer, but it's always winter in the arena.  If you want to wear sandals, shut the hell up about your feet being cold.  You're an adult-figure it out.
3) Shut up.  Always.  You're boring.
4) I don't care which kid is your darling boy.  Really.  And if you start the sentence with "See that kid skating really fast?" I not only don't care, but am now rooting for little Augustan to fall on his ass.
5) Don't gasp when a kid checks or hooks.  This is hockey.  It happens.
6) Don't stare at me when I pound on the boards to celebrate (or to shoot my kid a devil stare for screwing off).  Hockey is noisy.  Go back to the yoga studio if you can't handle it.

So I like hockey, I like watching my kid attempt to learn it, but as with everything else in my life, the other parents are ruining it.  Living in a society isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Enough with the Competitive Parenting!

I'd like to call a truce on competitive parenting.  I can't take it anymore.  The organic produce, the clothing, the birthday parties.  It's just too much.  Here's the deal, people.  I have two kids not yet in school.  I know, lots of people have more, but that's either because they're stupid or have twice the energy and ten times the patience I do.  I'm pretty much over-matched with two.

And I do other stuff.  I won't bore you with the details, but there are multiple volunteering gigs, working from home, etc.  Let's just say that when I have the chance to sit down, I don't use that time to plan out that week's perfectly balanced meal schedule, making sure to expose my kids to different ethnic flavors along the way.  I don't spend hours making sure my son, who turned 5 today, can write his full name in cursive, recite Tolstoy, order at a restaurant in a foreign tongue,  or whatever.  Then I see kids his age who have their phone number and address memorized and who can write their first and last name.  Hey, the grandparents seem perfectly content to have their cards signed with a scratchy, weird looking H.  No, I spend my spare time mixing a cocktail.

Plus it's pathetic when you over-coach your kid, because we all know it's so you can show off to other parents.  Yep, it's under the guise of getting them ready for kindergarten, but you're not fooling me.  I am old, but I remember a little about kindergarten, and it involved blocks, nose picking and the odd kid eating paste.  I recently overheard a 4-year-old say to another boy, "I'm (full name), and my phone number is (blank).  What is your number?  I'd like to play with you."  Um, yeah.  He's all ready for cocktail parties, but it seems a bit premature, don't you think? My son will introduce himself, but if the other kid responds with more than their name he wanders off because that's way beyond his repertoire.

So good for you that Suzie was the first in her kindergarten to read War and Peace in Mandarin!  You're an exceptional human being!  Yay for you that Bobby spends 4-hours a day shooting baskets so you can have the best shot on the team!  It's all about you.  Goody that you have basically taken dog training techniques and applied them to your young child to get that adulation that evaded you in high school.  Now your kid is really prepared for the rigors of kindergarten!  I had a mom tell me recently that kindergarten is much more challenging than when we were kids.  Even so, it still just means leaving your dress down and remembering to try not to say "poop" in front of other kids.

So proud mama and papa, just remember: There's still a chance that your kid will work for mine someday, even if he is still signing important legal documents with just a scratchy, weird H.  So suck it.