The Mom-I’m-Hungry Games

As punishment for past rebellion against their steadfast belief that mothers are an inherently divided and adversarial lot, the current governing body – The Institute for Motherhood Evaluation, or TIME, established The Mom-I’m-Hungry Games.

The Games are a brutal contest that pits mother against mother in a fight to the death. TIME established these Games as a reminder to all that revolution against motherly division will not be tolerated. And each year, TIME chooses one working mother and one stay-at-home mother from each of their Markets and sends them to the Arena where only one will walk away with the ultimate prize: The glory of being the version of motherhood that reigns supreme – at least until TIME’s next edition of The Games.

After the contestants are chosen and taken to the Arena (a replica of Suburban, USA), each mother is given 2.5 children, a home, and a pet – dog, cat, ferret, or fish. The lucky ones get the fish. The commencement of the Games is signaled by the shrill sound of a crying baby at 4:45am. Upon this signal, each mother has the option to either head for the Cornucopia, a vast cache of supplies including a minivan, Velcro shoes, Lunchables, and an entire set of Baby Einstein DVDs – or they can retreat to their homes to begin working on Phase One. Phase One is a trial of mental and physical fortitude that tests the mettle of the Workies and Homers, alike. They must each follow a Daily Schedule, customized by TIME’s Game maker.

Phase One Elimination Criteria is as follows (Note: Criteria is same for Workies and Homers.)

  • Failure to provide hormone-free, preservative-free, sugar-free, trans-fat free, and nitrate-free nutrition (5x per day for Homers; and 3x for Workies) will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to keep home clean will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to keep pantry and refrigerator stocked will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to perform adequately at job (for Workies) will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to pay bills on time will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to amuse the children will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to put away laundry sitting in basket for more than 24 hours will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to keep up personal appearance will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to use at least one SAT word during each 24 period will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to provide adequate stimulation for the children’s brains will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to shower daily will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to have children, beginning at age 3, in at least two extracurricular activities (preferably one sports-related and one Arts-related) will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to laugh at all knock-knock jokes told by boss, children, or both, will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to decorate home seasonally will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to learn the words to all songs by Taylor Swift, One Direction, Just Bieber, and Selena Gomez will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to remain within one standard deviation (10lbs) of high school weight will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to switch children to whole-wheat pasta and bread will result in immediate death.
  • Failure to keep a smile on face at least 90% of the day (even while sleeping) will result in immediate death.

Most contestants, sadly, do not make it past Phase One.

Those that do are moved on to Phase Two. Phase Two is genius in its brutality. Each contestant is given a sick child, a backed-up toilet, a bad hair day, a sick pet (again, you want the fish), a plumber due sometime between the hours of 10am and 2pm, and her period. Additionally, Workies are given a critical presentation they must complete at their place of business; Homers are expected to bring in homemade sugar cookies decorated to look like Jack-o-lanterns for a class of 37 children, one of whom has a gluten and red dye allergy.

The Workie and the Homer must successfully complete all tasks assigned to them, keep their appearance and attitude in check, avoid a child meltdown, and be prepared to do it all over again the next day. The process repeats until one mother fails at any of these tasks – which, of course results in immediate death.

There are some out there in the Markets who have started to quietly question TIME’s administration of the Games. Mothers who have wondered what the world would be like if things were different. They wonder what would happen if the Workies and the Homers decided they were not going to be TIME’s pawns – what if instead they worked together and shared information and supported each others struggles? It is audacious dream, indeed. A world where women are free to mother in any way they choose, free from judgment and manipulation. Is such a thing even possible?

Perhaps only TIME will tell…


The Heir & the Spare In a State of Disrepair

 

Sibling rivalry. This term gets tossed around like it’s no big deal -just another one of life’s rites of passage, like puberty or being forced to wear a hideous bridesmaid dress. And maybe the experience can be reduced to that kind of banal platitude for the siblings involved– but let’s consider sibling rivalry from the perspective of its real victims: The parents of the rivals.

There are days when my house is like the arena in The Hunger Games. My two competitors stalk each other in a kill-or-be-killed, all-out battle to the death – usually spurred on by some unconscionable sin like the taking of the last Slim Jim. (Seriously, my kids love those things.) So one kid hits/kicks/punches/scratches/bites/trips/pinches/flicks/smashes/swats/socks/karate chops/whammies/belts/tags or otherwise hurts the other kid… and the games begin!

Clearly, I didn’t see who hit whom first. I never see who hit whom first. I was in the other room checking Facebook working my fingers to the bone when the offense occurred, so I have no idea who is to blame. So now, I am left with Sophie’s Choice.  Obviously I must respond in some way, lest I give up my scepter that grants me power as the reigning overlord (which, FYI, they will have to pry from my dead, cold hands).  The choice before me is which of my darling children I will throw under the bus and make pay for the crime I am not even sure s/he committed. I am not proud to say, I have one kid I usually pick over the other.

Let me be clear: I do not have a favorite child. What I do have, however, is one child who tends to hit/kick/punch/scratch/bite/trip/pinch/flick/smash/swat/sock/karate chop/ whammy/belt/tag or otherwise hurt my other child just a bit more frequently. So, this is the kid I usually end up punishing, even when I have no idea whose fault it actually was.

The problem here is not the unfair punishment (frankly, it’s probably a well-need change from all the incessant compliments they get) but rather, that I think my method may actually be contributing to the rivalry itself, pitting my children against each other and creating an environment where when one kid misbehaves, the other kid wins.

But what are we to do as parents? If we opt out of the role of judge/jury/executioner and take a passive stance, Darwinian law would kick in and the strongest kid would always prevail. That doesn’t seem fair. But if we intervene, we end up singling out one of our children (fairly or unfairly) for “being bad,” thus ratcheting up the very conflict we seek to dispatch.

It really is a lose-lose situation for parents. Perhaps the solution is to blame both/all of the kids whenever there is any conflict at all. Any and all transgressions resulting in violence or extreme rudeness will result in swift and severe punishment of each involved party.  Maybe that would deter conflict and result in things being All Quiet on The Western Front.

Or maybe it’d just end with both my little cherubs turning into Monsters, Inc.

And leave me Dazed and Confused.

 

*Thanks to The Flying Chalupa for inspiring me with her post you can read here. Seriously, she is hilarious.


Temper Tantrum? Buh-bye!

On yesterday’s Today Show, I watched a segment about the family who was thrown off of a JetBlue flight because their two year-old daughter was throwing a tantrum.  Apparently, shortly before takeoff, their two year-old daughter threw a humdinger of a fit because she didn’t want to be buckled into her seat. Crew members reported to the pilot that the family could not get their child seated, and the pilot made the decision to turn the plane around and have the family removed. However, in the time it took for the pilot to make that decision (about five minutes) the tantrum was over and the little girl was seated and buckled properly.

But the family was still thrown off the plane–even though the situation had been resolved – the crew telling this family that “the decision has been made.” Since the flight was the last of the day from Turks & Caicos to Boston, the family had to spend the night in a hotel and were re-routed, costing them over $2,000. That’s a pretty expensive tantrum.

As I watched this Today Show story, (and ignored my own daughter’s Where is my hairbrush? tantrum) I was stunned. Kicked off of a flight because your kid threw a fit? Does this seem reasonable? Apparently, to 71% of people who fill out surveys on the Today Show’s website, it does. Yes, that’s right. Seven out of 10 people who responded to a poll online, said they sided with Jet Blue. Of course, if you have time to respond to online polls at 7 o’clock in the morning, chances are you don’t have young kids and are perhaps a bit less sympathetic than those of us who do.

But still, I was shocked that so many people thought this was a reasonable course of action for the airline to take. JetBlue airline said in a statement, “Flight 850 had customers that did not comply with crew member instructions for a prolonged time period. The Captain elected to remove the customers involved for the safety of all customers and crew members on board.” As a fairly nervous flier, I am the first person to stand up for airline safety. I happily wait in mile long security lines, I put my lip gloss and hand sanitizer in little plastic bags without being prompted, and don’t even mind walking through those x-ray vision scanner that can tell what brand of underwear I have on. If it makes flying safer – I’m all for it.

But a tantrum from a twenty-five pound little girl hardly seems a safety risk to me. Annoying? Yes. Loud and unpleasant? You bet. But a threat to customers and crew members safety? I don’t think so. The little girl in question wasn’t smuggling a shiv in her tiny little Stride Rites, nor was she hiding hazardous chemicals in her sippy cup. She was tired. She was hungry. She was hot. She was irritated because she didn’t want to be strapped down into a seat. Basically, she was two. If the airlines want to be certain to avoid tantrums all together then might I suggest they don’t sell tickets to kids under the age of five. Or rock stars. Or certain Emmy award-winning actors.

The little girl’s mom, Dr. Colette Vieau, a pediatrician, said on the Today Show, “We weren’t belligerent, drunk, angry, screaming … We’re having a hard time struggling with our children. A little bit of humanity in the situation was really all I was looking for and apparently that doesn’t exist.”

I sympathize with the parents on this one. I’d love to know what you think…

 


Naïveté and Hypocrisy: The Building Blocks of Parenthood

Ah, innocence. I remember it well. Those glorious days of old when the air smelled sweeter (because there was no rotting food hidden under the couch cushions), the birds chirped louder and the sun shone brighter (but it was 7am and you were still asleep so you didn’t care). I’m talking about the days before you became a parent. The days when you didn’t walk around in a sleep-deprived fog and you still knew all the bands on Saturday Night Live. The days when you thought you had a clue.

If you have been parenting for any length of time, you now know that you don’t, in fact, have a clue at all. And you were a pretentious fop for ever thinking that you knew what you were getting into when you signed on to shepherd another life through this crazy world of global warming, online predators, and Ann Coulter. I’ll admit that I was one such pretentious fop. In fact, I was the worst kind. I actually tried to plan for it.

I remember when my husband and I were debating whether or not we were ready to have kids, I actually asked a guy who I worked with – who had kids – how sticky they were. I didn’t know many kids, but it seemed to me that all the ones I knew were always sticky and/or messy and/or dirty and/or had noses full of boogars. This was unpleasant to me.

What I didn’t realize at the time, was how little I would come to care about a snot-caked nose, and how it paled in comparison to your child, say, projectile vomiting. On an airplane. While simultaneously soiling themselves. And screaming bloody murder. At the exact moment when the plane has landed and everyone is waiting to be let out. After a 10 hour flight from Hawaii. This happened to me. Boogars look pretty good after something like that, let me tell you. (Believe.)

This is just one example of me thinking I had a clue. Sadly, there are many others. Below is a list of some of the things I said I would never, ever do when I became a parent.

1. I said I would never use TV as a babysitter.

Awwwww, wasn’t I cute?

2. I said I would never yell.

I had no idea that children who are watching TV, playing a video game, or eating a snack, literally CANNOT hear you unless you yell. I’ve tested this theory a thousand different times and it’s true. You can ask them 47 times to please hang up their coat, but until you raise your voice with something like, “HANG UP YOUR COAT THIS MINUTE OR ELSE!” it’s just white noise to them. Nobody sets out wanting to yell. They make us do it.

3. I said I’d never let my kid sleep in my bed on a regular basis.

My daughter wakes up at least 5 mornings a week in my bed with her feet pressed into my spine, an elbow in my gut, and 98% of the blankets covering 150% of her body.

4. I said I wouldn’t use baby talk.

I am a 38-year-old woman who in the past week alone has announced she has to “go potty,” has had a “tummy ache,” and who got a “boo-boo” on her foot. Enough said.

5. I said I would never care about how my kids wear their hair.

Let me be clear about this one: I don’t care about their hair being perfectly brushed, styled, geled, moussed, sprayed, or really even being that clean. But when the nice man at the grocery store asked me if “the little lady” would like a cookie while pointing to my ten-year old son, you better believe I drove us to the nearest SuperCuts, post-haste. I know long hair worked for The Biebs, but until Fletcher starts bringing home the million dollar paychecks – I want his eyes, ears, and shoulders hair-free. At least while I have any influence.

6. I said I’d never have a kid with snot caked inside her nose at all times.

As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t realize how little I would come to care about this. I’m not even sure why I don’t care about this. I should. It’s disgusting. But who has the energy for Kleenexes and the endless tutorials on how to blow one’s nose? It’s exhausting.

7. I said I’d never allow my kids to whine.

I actually thought if I had a “No Whining” policy and told my kids, “If you whine, I can’t hear you” that they would eventually learn not to whine. Hilarious.

8. I said I’d never ignore my kids while on the phone.

In my defense, I had my first kid in 2001. They didn’t even have smart phones back then.

9. I said I’d never lie to my kids.

We all know how that one turned out.

10. I said I would never use food as a reward.

This is basically my entire parenting strategy right here. Without food bribes, I got nothing.

Now, who wants a chocolate chip cookie for reading this whole article?

Disclaimer: I feel I should say that even given all of the cynical ramblings above, I wouldn’t trade a minute of my time as a parent. Even the minutes I was covered in bodily fluids or my throat hurt from yelling so loud. But it’s just not that funny to write an article about how much you love your kids. It’s like writing an article about how much you love being carded when you’re in your thirties. It is – in the vernacular of my lovely children – “Like, Duh!”


Dear Car Companies:

Dear Car Companies:

I know the past couple of years have been tough on you. On behalf of Moms, the consumer group responsible for over 80% of household spending, I’m here to let you know we want to help. We really do. But you’ve got to help us help you.

It is a well-documented fact, that Moms spend over half our waking hours (and a fair portion of our sleeping hours) in our cars. And let’s be honest, the current choices for “mom cars” just aren’t getting the job done. (The Ford Focus Station Wagon? Really?) Many of our needs have been woefully overlooked.  We want a car that simplifies our lives, lends a helping hand, and last but certainly not least, a car that is not the automobile equivalent of Mom Jeans. (I’m talking to you, minivan makers.) We are still women, after all, and our desire to be practical should not have to come at the expense of our desire to look cool.

So here is a list of suggested features you should incorporate into cars if you want to pull yourself out of your slump and really start selling some cars:

  1. Fold down Makeup Mirror on front visor with LED light, replacing currently used Itty-Bitty Book light bulbs that makes us all look jaundiced. Upgrade option: automated programmable make-up artist who advises driver when she has lipstick on her teeth.
  2. Automated schedule control. A feature that allows her to input her daily schedule and will give her an itinerary and timeline of when she has to leave A to get to B in time to get C to D. Upgrade option: automated voice will yell at her kids to ‘hurry up and get buckled’ for her when she is in danger of being late.
  3. Hidden, pop-up coffee maker complete with settings for cappuccino, frappuccino, mochas, and macchiato. Eliminates need for pesky coffee shop stops that make her late, but still address her need for caffeine. Upgrade option: Offer scones, low-fat muffins, and fruit-n-yogurt parfait with auto-spoon feeding feature.
  4. GPS tracking link for pizza deliveries for dinner on the go. This feature allows delivery guy to find her while she is en-route and throw the pizza, frisbee-like, into her moving vehicle, cutting out the need to stop or even slow down.
  5.  A central vac should be standard. Upgrade: tiny robots that clean the car overnight in the garage.
  6. A retractable divider shield, like they have in limousines, between the front seats and the rest of the car. This feature would be controllable only by the driver for those times when the kids are sleeping and she needs to make a call; when Radio Disney is threatening to make her head explode; or when she simply can’t bear to intervene in one more argument about who touched who first.
  7. A push button “Cool-Car” hologram feature. With a discreet push of a button, this would project the image of a cool car for others to see while she is driving. This feature will come in handy during those moments when she is stopped at a light next to a car full of young, stylish, unfettered people reminiscent of who she used to be. (This feature should come standard on all minivans.)
  8. Auto-sleep/Save Her Sanity feature. This will gently rock, soothe, and sing lullabies to crying or overtired passengers in order to get them to fall asleep. Upgrade: option to continue this feature even after the car is turned off so kids don’t wake up immediately upon returning home.
  9. Robotic snack dispenser and conveyor belt to pass out snacks, without Mom even having to take her eyes off the road.
  10. Extra loud automated message that comes on and says, “Don’t even think about it!” when a child unbuckles while the car is in motion.
  11. Pre-stain coating. This option would eliminate the “new car jitters” that result in a lot of yelling and ultimately, guilt and shame when the kids inevitably color all over the interior with a blue sharpie, drop their strawberry smoothie, and/or vomit in the vehicle.
  12. Validation of Life Choice Feature: An computerized voice (similar to the lady on GPS but without the condescending quasi-British accent) who tells her she looks beautiful, that her jokes are funny, and that she did the right thing by choosing to sacrifice her body, her sleep, and often, her education in order to basically become an unpaid chauffeur, chef, nurse, maid, and therapist.

We appreciate you taking the time to consider adding these features to your vehicles. Should you choose to implement even just a few of these ideas, I am confident that word will spread quickly through our super-secret Mom network, and we will take you out of the current economic time-out you’ve been in.

Sincerely,

The Moms


And The Award For Best Dramatic Performance by an Abandoned 8 year-old Girl Goes to…

Today the Oscar nominations were announced. It was pretty much a roundup of the usual suspects: Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Woody Allen, etc. An impressive and deserving lot. But every year certain people get overlooked. I’ve recently seen a performance that would rival any of those that were nominated today. It was a performance so penetrating, so nuanced, so expert – that I can hardly believe it wasn’t in contention for the industry’s top honor. And it was carried out by my own flesh and blood, the fruit of my loins, the apple of my eye… my daughter Ellie, 8.  She wrote, directed and starred in this performance of a young girl’s struggle after being cruelly abandoned by her parents. For 7 days.

I know it’s tacky when parents take credit for their kids success, but in this case I believe we truly were her inspiration. You see, each year my husband and I go on a week’s vacation sans kids. And it was this event that proved the catalyst for her performance, so wounded was she by the betrayal.

It is a tale as old as time: Parents go away for a little R&R, kids are sad, parents come back, kids are happy. But to a dramatic genius (as she is being called by some industry insiders), this tired plotline was elevated and imbued with new life! Armed with nothing more than an iPod Touch and a free text messaging app, the young Miss Orr delivered a visceral, haunting portrait of a girl left behind by her parents with nothing but the love of her grandparents, her house, all her clothes & toys, more than enough food to eat, at least one shopping trip to Toys r Us, and more than one outing to McDonald’s. It’s a wonder she survived.

Here is a look (actual transcript):

i am crying i miss u. when I hear your voice it makes me eve sadder i am crying in bed and nobody knows it i am crying and i don’t want anybody to know and i am under my covers I really miss u and wish u would come back soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo badly. i am so upset i could scream out Loud in tears. and its not funny. fletcher is not showering and papa says its ok. i am not having a good time. i having a horrible terrible time and i will the whole week. i wish you never left.

And that was not even the highlight of the performance. Realizing her pleas were not having the desired effect of us hoping on the next flight home, she dug down deeper to produce an even more compelling portrait of a girl slowly unraveling:

Nobody knows i am crying but tears are dripping down my face and i feel soooooooo sad i love you ☹ ☹ ☹ My hair is wet from tears i’m so sad. WHY DID YOU LEVE. What time is it? sniff. It is 9:24 here. Bye i will cry to fall asleep Oh i wish you were here. i can’t fall asleep. Me and flootch are both crying waaaaaaaaaa. Wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwyyyyyyyyyyyy????????????? Still sad…… u said u would call us No Please Answer the phone i am waiting for u to call. Ddaad. i am so sad your having a good time and we are having a horrid time

And my favorite part, was toward the end of the performance, when – spurred on by our claims that maybe talking to us on the phone was making things worse, her desperation reaches frenzied heights and she responds with:

i am as sad as a hippo that stayed awake for 70 years. can you answer your face time. Please. i am calling you. i am in your bed and i don’t smell anything that smells like you and. i’m sooooooo sad . can’t you just come back

i miss u so much

i am balling

It is poring

Now if that isn’t an Oscar worthy performance, I don’t know what is…


Fitted Sheets & The Human Genome Project

My parents raised me to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to. As it turns out, however, this is not true. In reality, there are lots of things I can’t do. A few that spring to mind are: the splits (Chinese or regular); making out the hidden image embedded in one of those 3-D art posters; and properly folding a fitted sheet. Since I am neither a member of Cirque-du-Soleil nor a collector of 1990’s mall art, the first two don’t cause me much consternation. But as the keeper-of-linens in my house, it really chaps my ass that I can’t fold a fitted sheet no matter how hard I try. And believe me, I’ve tried.

In an effort to shield my delicate ego from this particular failing, I have developed a hypothesis that allows me to absolve myself of any responsibility for it. I have concluded that the ability to fold a fitted sheet is a genetic – something as out of my control as the color of my eyes or being able to roll my tongue into a hot dog. One can either do it, or not. No amount of practicing is going to help. Have you ever seen someone who doesn’t have the gene try to hot-dog their tongue? It’s just sad (and by sad, I mean hilarious). It’s the same with fitted sheets.

As with so many of my shortcomings, it is comforting when I can deflect responsibility and blame my inferior genetic wellspring (and by inferior genetic wellspring, I mean my Mom and Dad). My mother, who theoretically is responsible for at least half of my genetic material, can force a fitted sheet into a crisp, perfect rectangle just by giving it a stern look. She is the Darth Vader of folding fitted sheets.  So obviously my problem can’t be her fault. My defect must come from my father who, as far as I know, has never even attempted fold a sheet -fitted or otherwise. This scientifically (and by scientifically, I mean arbitrarily) proves my hypothesis that the FFS (folding fitted sheet) gene must be recessive, passed down through the father’s side. Kind of like baldness is on the mother’s side.

If you have been genetically blessed with the FFS gene, you are probably thinking that I just haven’t tried hard enough. Or that I’ve just never had someone teach me how to do it. But I assure you this is not the case. I’ve been given at least a dozen lessons by my mother, plus I’ve watched countless helpful women on YouTube (and by helpful women on You Tube, I mean pretentious ninnies) who make me feel bad about myself by suggesting ‘it’s so simple everyone can do it!’ in their upbeat voices as they swish, flatten, and press their fitted sheets into folded perfection. Dutifully, I follow each step. But in the end, my sheet looks like something I’m using to smuggle contraband into the linen closet (and by contraband, I mean my pride).

But now I don’t have to feel bad about myself anymore. Knowing (and by knowing, I mean blinding believing) that properly folding a fitted sheet is a genetic trait, takes away all the guilt and shame that I’ve felt for years. And now when I open the door to my linen closet and it looks like a three-fingered pirate wrapped his booty in old sheets and stored it in there for safe-keeping, I am comforted by the fact that it isn’t my fault. After all, I am only a collection cells encoded with pre-determined genetic material. In other words, I am only human (and by human, I mean a superior being capable of rationalization). (And by a superior being capable of rationalization, I mean a person willing to believe my own bullshit.)


Holiday Shopping Advice For People Who Hate Shopping.

There are approximately 487 things on my current to-do list – all of which need to be done by Dec. 25th. My list is like a sea cucumber, which is neither as salty nor refreshing as its name suggests. My list is sea cucumber-like in that if you were to cut it up into a million tiny pieces, it would regenerate itself into a million tiny lists – each with 487 separate action items waiting to be checked off. It is formidable and daunting and I’ll admit, completely self-induced. But it’s December and this is the rigor we put ourselves through in the pursuit of Happy Holidays.

So because the Happy Holidays are beating down our doors with a flail, I’m gonna make this post short. I will not take up your precious time with rants or angry outbursts about how the holiday season turns people into crazed, stressed-out, lunatics who will bite your head off if you appear in any way to be interested in the same retail item that they are interested in. I won’t go on about complacent and hostile sales associates (I’m talking to you, Wal-Mart), or how every year the holidays seem bigger and more encompassing than the year before, especially when you celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas. Instead, I will tell you a story. A shopping story – filled with some of the best, if not most practical, holiday shopping advice I’ve ever heard.

It was Black Friday so many years ago that I don’t think the term Black Friday had been coined yet.  I was shopping in downtown Chicago with my Dad and sister. Our tradition was to go to Water Tower Place and my Dad, being the mench that he is, would buy us each a present for no other reason than going with him to brave the crowds and because no one appreciates a good bargain like my Dad.

On this particular Black Friday, we were making our way through a jam-packed Marshall Fields. The store was so busy that in certain places we were forced to walk single file. I think it was snowing outside, which drew inside all the tourists usually content to stroll down Michigan Ave and sight-see. Tired, cranky shoppers wore, or worse held, their heavy winter jackets as they shimmied their way through narrow aisles packed with merchandise, much of it breakable. The store was hot as hell and people were mad and impatient and filled with bargain-hunting induced rage.

My Dad, sister, and I were on our way out of the store after successfully finding our just-because gift of the day. We shuffled single file through the Women’s Accessories department on the first floor filled with gloves, hats, earmuffs, and other baubles, following the tide downstream toward the exit. In the crowd coming upstream opposite us was a Mom with her son, who was probably about nine years old. The Mom looked tired but focused and was carrying at least five shopping bags. The boy looked positively shellacked with boredom. His posture, the all too familiar slumped-shoulders-jutted-out-chin combo, told us they’d been at it for a long time. As we came up upon this duo, I heard the boy asking his mom over and over, “Can we leave now?” “Can we just go?” “Pleeeeeeease, Mom, can we go home now?” The Mom was mostly ignoring him and reciting the things on her list she had yet to check off.

Just as we passed the boy, I saw him surreptitiously glance at one of the delicate looking trinkets displayed on the hip-height round table we were scooting past. He lightly touched his fingers upon the top of the nearest ceramic pretty and with a Mr. Burns-like expression on his face, muttered under his breath, “I should just break something, so they’ll throw us out of here…”

Probably no one in the entire store except the three of us heard him. And this observant-yet-sardonic nugget of wisdom made our entire experience worth the hassle. We laughed and laughed as we flowed along with the sea of shoppers out onto Michigan Ave and walked home, our spirits buoyed by the hilarious, jaded-misery of one nine-year old boy.

To this day, I cannot shop in a crowded store without thinking of that boy. His words of wisdom like an escape valve, always giving me hope that if things ever get to be too much, I could always just tip over the display of glass ornaments and end my holiday shopping agony. I haven’t done it yet, but then again there are still 5 shopping days left till Christmas and 486 things on my to-do list. (Write Blog is now crossed off.)

Happy Hanukkah and  Merry Christmas to all my fabulous readers out there! May this holiday season NOT make you want to get thrown out of anywhere. 🙂

 


Things I Sometimes* Wish I Never Taught My Kids

  1. To talk.
  2. To crack the eggs into the batter. (Pancakes are not supposed to be crunchy.)
  3. Sarcasm. I just love it when the kids do as I do, not as I say…
  4. To play games on my cell phone.
  5. To read. (If you’ve ever seen a billboard in the state of Missouri, you’re with me on this one.)
  6. To say please. (See When Good Words Go Bad.)
  7. To expect that meals will be prepared for them. Everyday.
  8. The words ‘mine,’ ‘no,’ ‘jiggly,’ and ‘bottom.’
  9. To tell knock-knock jokes. (And expect me to laugh.)
  10. To spell.  (It’s total b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t that my husband I no longer have a covert means of communication.)
  11. To listen to the radio. (Thankyouverymuch, Katy Perry, for teaching my seven-year old what a menage-a-trois is.)
  12. How to tell time. (I sometimes* ache for the days I could say “It’s bedtime!” at 5:30.)
  13. To use the word ‘really’ as a question.
  14. To use the DVR. (I now have approximately 97 hours of Phineas & Ferb available for my viewing pleasure.)
  15. That there is no such thing as a stupid question. (As it turns out, there is.)
* Varies by hormonal levels, how much chocolate I’m depriving myself of, and hours of sleep logged in any given 24 hour period.
Author’s Note: I apologize for the abundance of parenthesis in today’s post. (I guess I was just in a parenthetical sort of mood.)

 


Beyond Helicopter Parenting… How About Rickshaw, Limousine, and Ice Cream Truck Parenting?

We all know a Helicopter Parent when we see one. They’re the Moms and Dads obsessively bug spraying, sun-blocking, or hat-n-gloving their kids while shouting at them not to climb too high, swim too far out, or touch anything in the bathroom. However much we may judge these parents, (even when we see them in the mirror) we feel a sense of satisfaction being able to put a name to their neurosis. They are Helicopter Parents and we know this because a doctor and a parenting guru (Foster W. Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay) coined this useful term in 1990. Since then, the expression has been firmly entrenched in our vocabulary.

As far as I’m concerned, Helicopter Parenting is the best kind of term – descriptive, memorable, fitting, and kind of funny. But it’s limited. It only describes one parenting style. And since most of us employ multiple parenting methods throughout the years, perhaps even throughout the day, I feel the list of parenting metaphors can and should be expanded. So, though I am neither a doctor nor a parenting guru, I’ve taken a crack at it myself.

See if you can identify your parenting style in the list below. Or tell me if you know of one I missed. I’d love to hear which kind of parent you are because hearing about other parents not being perfect makes me feel better about being so alarmingly far from it myself. Plus, I love comments on my blog. Plus, I’m just generally nosy.

So, Are You a…

Tandem Bicycle Parent: These parents attempt to get their children involved in the parenting process with questions like, “What do you think your punishment should be?” and “How much do you think you should get for allowance?” Much like the tandem bicycle itself, this kind of parenting sounds like it would be fun, but isn’t. If you choose to parent this way, keep in mind that although the tandem bike may have two sets of pedals, only one person can steer it.

Carnival Cruise Parent: These parents want to have fun! They either can’t find a babysitter or feel too guilty to leave the kids at home, so they bring them along wherever they go. The parents continue to behave exactly as they would if their children were not there, stopping occasionally to feed and briefly converse with their offspring – usually uttering the words, “Not now,” and “When I’m ready to go.”

Rickshaw Parent (also known as Field Plow and Dog Sled Parents): These parents like to take it easy. They are perfectly comfortable to sit back and direct their children from afar. They tell their kids to take out the trash, rake the leaves, and make dinner – all from the comfort of the couch. This kind of parenting works best under a fear-based regime and only until the children grow weary and stage the inevitable coup.

Express Train Parent: These parents are in a big hurry all the time. Their constant refrain is, “Let’s go! C’mon! Let’s go!” They get things done. Lots of things.  They never sit still. They never chill out. They are always in forward motion. Their children often resort to lollygagging in a passive-aggressive form of protest, often causing the Express Train Parent to go “off the rails.”

Ice Cream Truck Parent: Almost everyone is guilty of being one of these parents at least once in a while. Ice Cream Truck parents get their child to do what they want them to do by promising them a sweet treat if they comply. Effective. To be used sparingly. (Admission: My daughter will do almost anything for a Hershey’s Kiss, so in my house this technique is grossly overused.)

Limousine Parent: These parents want to make sure their kids arrive in style. They want it known that their children are special and deserve to stand out. Limousine parents needn’t know the direction they are going, because they’ve hired someone to know for them. They only need to pony up the dough and sit back and enjoy the ride. Be aware: Kids parented in this way may become driven by a lavish lifestyle, but not know how to get there on their own.

Motorcycle Side Car Parent: These parents have a wild side. They like their adrenaline rush and want their kids to like it too. They travel in the fast lane and take the kids along as they bob and weave their way on down the road. These parents love high speeds and high drama. Note: This can also work in reverse, where the child drives and the parent goes along for the ride. Either way, best to buckle up. It’s usually a bumpy ride.

Southwest Airlines Parent: These parents are on a budget and know how to have a good time. So what if they’re not super-organized? Who cares if occasionally they take off without all of their passengers? They are fun! They are wild. They compose funny raps and make wry, witty puns about safety and cleanliness. They may not be the most refined parents around, but they get the job done and do it with a smile.

VW Bug Parenting: These parents don’t believe personal space; they like to be super-close to their kids.

EuroRail Parent (aka, Tour Bus Parent): These parents want their kids to see it all, do it all, and experience it all. They take their children from museums to galleries to monuments (whether they like it or not). These parents have a constant talk-track going about what they are seeing and why it will improve their kids lives. Note: Kids generally absorb only 5 – 7% of this information. Even less when they have access to an iPhone or a Nintendo DS.

Bulldozer Parenting: These parents know where they want their children to go in life and they will flatten anyone who gets in their way (including the children themselves). Best to get out of the way when you see a Bulldozer parent if at all possible.

Slow-Boat-to-China Parents (aka, River Boat and Barge Parenting): These parents believe that kids grow up too darn fast these days. In many ways, they are the opposite of the Express Train parents. They believe that all good things come to those who wait and that homemade fun is the best kind of fun. Their children don’t watch TV, eat microwave meals, or play with electronic/tech based toys.

Private Jet Parents (aka, Maybach Parenting): These parents want their kid to know that they have a lot of money and that they aren’t afraid to spend it.

Four-Wheeler Parents: These parents are looking to recreate the kind of fun they remember having when they were kids. Often times, they are remembering things from when they were an older child. But in their zeal, Four Wheeler parents will forget this and attempt to relive all their childhood memories when junior is about five years too young. You see them with their one year olds at DoraLive! Or off for a hunting trip before the kid can even read. Or with their American Girl whose face has been colored on with a sharpie. (Note: A mutation of this kind of parent is the GoKart Parent, which is the deep-fried version of the Four Wheel Parent. They function the same way, but are frequently drawn to guns, roadside fireworks, and yes, GoKarts.)

Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet Parents: The worst kind of parents. These people have kids, but no one ever actually sees them parenting anybody.