Thursday, July 31, 2008

Child labour - take two

In an attempt to have everyone survive the summer, I've hired the nine year old from down the block. She comes to my house a couple of days every week for an hour or two and plays with my children: soccer, trains, tea parties, whatever... for this, I pay her $2 an hour. She's saving up for a new bike. She may get there by the end of the summer if my kids keep up the attitude.

However, the other day I was chatting with her mom about schedules and she mentioned how lovely it was to not have her daughter underfoot all day. So now I'm thinking - she should pay me $1 an hour to get her kid out of the house, and then I'll pay her $2 for playing with my kids. Sound fair?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Inspired by Ashley

I hadn't really thought of it as bad parenting, but I had a couple of proud moments recently which Ashley's post about whacking her child with a spoon reminded me of.

CleverMonkey was riding in the back of the double stroller after a long torturous death march through the park. Kicking his little brother. Repeatedly. After about three warnings, he did it again. So I kicked him in the back. He couldn't see it coming. Apparently, it hurt. And I am "very, very bad".

Then, less than ten minutes later, I'm warning the same darn child to keep his arms and legs inside the stroller at all times. "Why?" he asks. "Because you might get hit by something," I reply. So... the next time the head swung out the side of the stroller, I whapped him. Not hard. Just the two finger dog-correction whap. I found this somewhat poetic justice. As did my walking partner who was trying not to laugh. The child - was less amused.

What is Discipline?

I recently got my new Parents magazine. Why I still have this and continue to read this baffles me but, whatever. So, one of the articles I was reading was all about a new way to discipline children. This new way to instill discipline is to gloss over the bad stuff and overpraise the child when said child does the appropriate behavior. Hmmmm...even goes so far as to say that time outs and stern talking tos are not effective. Really? As I was reading this article I realized that I must be the worst parent ever as I recalled the disciplining I had just down the day before. I had my children sitting at the kitchen counter eating breakfast while I finished getting ready for work. Not usually the way things are done in the house but Dad had to leave super early and could not do his usual routine of getting the kids ready. So, as needs must, I let them eat while I am not in the kitchen with them (strike 1). Lots of laughing and giggling ensue. I calmly tell them to stop and eat, at least 10 times (no joke)...then yell at them to stop it and eat (strike 2). 5 minutes later the screaming and crying start. Oh dear. What now? Rushing out of the bathroom I sail into the kitchen with hastily tied robe, half done make-up and wild wet hair (quite a sight I'm sure...especially with the really angry look on my face). I ask WHAT is wrong now. The older (in tears) tells me that the little one hit him in the head with his spoon (you know, the one he is supposed to be eating his cereal with). At this point I think my mind went completely blank...I took the little one's spoon and donked him on the head (nowhere near as hard as he did to his brother), you know to show that it hurts and he should not hit his brother in the head with a spoon. (strike 3 and I am OUT!) According to the magazine article I did everything wrong. However, I have had no more spoon hitting head incidents....wonder if I should over praise them now?

Monday, July 28, 2008

John Valby Would Have Been Proud

Just spent 45 minutes blitzing the kids’ room. I hadn’t realized they emptied both baskets of clean clothes onto the floor, along with their stuffy bin and 325 Pokémon cards. Ordinarily, I’d have left it until tomorrow but I also found ANTS. A few here, a few there, some under this, a couple on that. Why??

A cracker. Someone ate a cracker in their bedroom and left a scatter of crumbs on the floor under the desk, crumbs which have no doubt been there since before we went on vacation two weeks ago.

After the blast of red cleared my vision, I issued a loud volley of curse words and began throwing all the stuff from the floor onto the beds. “Not on my bed, Mama! I need a place to sleep,” cried my children, but a slit-eyed glare silenced them both. When the floor was cleared, I suggested – through gritted teeth – that if they wanted a place to sleep, they might consider putting a few things away and stormed off to get the vacuum and
my favorite ant spray.

I returned a few minutes later to find my boys actually putting their clothes away. In drawers. They bickered a bit about what went in which drawer but they actually got their clothes put away on their own while I went to work on the ants and the crumbs. After their clothes were put away, they returned the stuffies to the bin and organized the Pokémon cards into a tin. My blood pressure had come down by then, so I reminded Ross pretty gently that it's Monday - the day on which he's meant to collect trash and take it to the bin in the yard. Ross started to complain about how late it was and how nobody had reminded him and ...but Lars stage-whispered, "Mama DID remind you! And Daddy said, too," which cut Ross off before the real whining kicked in and, shockingly, he went and did his chore.

When Ross had left the room, Lars observed aloud that I'd gone ballistic over Playroom a while back, too. He further observed aloud that since my fit, they've been pretty good about picking up in Playroom. Ross came back in. "Ross, we have to pick up our room now, just like Playroom. I don't like it when Mama yells," said Lars. As I tucked them in, I thought that perhaps it will be worth them knowing a few extra bad words if it means they'll keep their bedroom neat from now on.

Not a Good Sign

We keep a white board on the fridge for the kids to write down things we need from the store. I went grocery shopping today so I wiped the list clean. Then tonight, as I was going to bed, I saw two new items listed.
  1. Catfood (Please don't yell at me)
  2. Wine
(I would have taken a picture but I am just too tired.)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Don't let the bucket fool you

At first glance I thought, Lindsay's washing the floor. I have no idea what harmful chemical damaged my brain into thinking that.

No, my friends.

And let me preface this by saying I had spent literally all day Saturday cleaning while they were at my inlaws. I cleaned from 12:30-6:00 PM, took a break to go to Target for some necessities and then worked another hour. I had thought while I was out, I would go to see a movie, but the way I stood in an aisle and stared at catfood I knew I would just fall asleep as soon as I stopped moving.

That is baking soda.

That is an entire box of baking soda.

All over the floor.

All over the kid.

Baking soda.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No flies on Lauren

Lauren, after being yelled at for touching the door handle of the sedan driving 80 MPH on the highway on the way back from Newark, retorted, "When I grow up, I think I am not going to visit you very often."

"Really?" I said excitedly. "Can we put that in writing?"

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Thanks to Ashley, without whom I would be in a peck of trouble with the rental car company. Her post saved me from certain disaster on our trek from Trier to Rodenbach yesterday, then saved me again when the other kid had to go. I thought disaster was probably still mine when the first kid had to go AGAIN (German water bottles are teeny...) but then we crossed into Luxembourg where nobody knows us, so I emptied the bottle out the window (it was raining, we figured it would rinse the car off) and let the first kid have another go. While he was peeing, we crossed back into Germany and I had to have two glasses of wine before I could properly contemplate just how many laws (in two countries) I probably broke during one four-ounce pee.

Enough! Genug!

I have yelled at my children (and a couple of spares) in four countries and two languages this week and am currently ignoring six kids I ought to be helping watch in order to steal time on a found wireless connection to post this. Ooh - must run, dinner (made by someone else)!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Walk of shame

Remember that, girlfriends? I can't have been the only one riding the subway in the wee hours of the morning wearing Saturday night's musky frock, limping in the heels that looked so cute in the store, hose long since discarded...waaay hungover, perhaps a bit drunk? I mean what 20-something hasn't?

It occurred to me tonight that the Worst Mama equivalent of Walk of Shame is into a busy hotel, perhaps one with a convention or a night club so the lobby is quite crowded. You and your husband each have a sleeping kid slung over a shoulder. Your 2-year-old woke up just in time to start screaming hysterically, in a hoarse, tired voice so everyone is staring. It is 11 PM. People are shaking their heads at us. Tsk tsking under their breaths.

During the ride to our hotel room, Alec began chatting with another couple each clad in Braves shirts.

"Our kids are asleep. They are only 3 and 6, and wouldn't have made it through the game."

I held my head as high as I could, mostly to stay upwind of the screaming.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Most Recent Sin - Going to Work

Late, as is my usual ever since giving birth the first time, I breezed into the TV room where pajama-clad Kate sat eating cereal and watching Beauty & the Beast. "I've got to run off to work!" I said, swooping down to kiss her on the head.

Kate stopped eating, put her spoon down and looked at me, wide-eyed. "But..." she said sweetly "I thought you said you loved us!"

It is worth noting here that 2 nights ago I comforted a weeping Kate as she blubbered about not wanting to go to daycare the next morning. We've had a lot of visitors lately and have subsequently taken a lot of time off work. Kate and Sarah have both spent way more time than usual at home instead of at daycare. While Kate was crying and sitting on my lap, I rocked her in the rocking chair in her room and quietly assured her that I would much prefer to hang out with her and Sarah and daddy all the time, too, but that I had to go to work instead, which meant she would have to go to daycare. Then we talked about all the fun she has at daycare and how much she likes her friends and teachers, blah blah blah. She finally went to bed, all sweetness and hugs but apparently added my statement that I would rather stay home to her arsenal of guilt weaponry. I kind of admired her use of my words against me. But I was late.

"I do love you" I responded, "but not enough to stay here with you today" and just like that, I left.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Are Mondays Really Necessary?

It's been a bad day today. I am not sure what it is about Monday's in this house, but this was a doozy of one. All chaos and very little joy. Unless you count the thirty minutes during nap time where I went and hid in my bedroom with my book and a bag of Dove Chocolates w/Almonds. It's no wonder I can't loose weight. At one point I had all three younger kids crying at once and I shut them all in their rooms to try to listen to Brandon as he was talking to someone about a job. He didn't get it.

Anyway, as I was lecturing Allison on why, Yes, she was still grounded from the computer (for not obeying our strict boundaries on what sites she could go to) and Yes, she had to stop playing her DS right now and do her Saturday chores (Saturday was two days ago!) she started with her typical stomping around and blurted out "You hate me!"

And I had had it. She says this all the time and I have told her how ungrateful and insulting I find it. So taking a cue from Ginger I went over to the computer and typed a title.

(AKA Why it is TOTALLY INSULTING when I say she doesn't)

I told her I wanted a well thought out one page paper on this topic and she was grounded until it was done to my standards. As she was typing it she said "You better not post this paper on your blog."

Aw, ma-an.

"I won't" I said. "I would never do that"

Totally busted.

Beware Water Bottles with Yellow "Water"

Yesterday the family was on the way home from the Keys after an enjoyable 4th of July weekend. As anyone who has traveled out of the Keys on a holiday weekend knows the traffic is insanely horrendous and could double, even triple your travel time home. Being so prepared my husband and I have a united attitude that we are not stopping the car until we can safely say we are in the 4 lane territory of US 1. Of course my littlest boy begins whining that he has to pee. This is at least 20 mins before we were even thinking of stopping. After making the poor child wait 20 mins to pee we take pity, stop for lunch and let the little ones pee in the bathroom. All is good except for the hour we lose while we stop. Continuing on our adventure home we make another stop a little further up at some friends house to see their new arrival. Now we are 3 hours behind on our travel home time. We are in the realm of having to eat dinner out and not getting home prior to the kiddos bed time. Fabulous! No naps + lots of time in the car watching movies = two hyper active not wanting to go to sleep kiddos who will eventually not want to wake up at 6:30am the next day for pre-k. Outstanding! Taking all this in when my littlest starts whining again that he has to pee, this time 45 mins from our destination of home, I finish the water in my bottle, give the bottle to my husband and have not just my little one but my older son as well pee in the bottle. I think I deserve a little extra w.m.e here as well because the kiddos had to be unstrapped from the car seat, stood up in the middle of the back seat while I am driving on the interstate, while it is raining with their parts stuck in the bottle to go to the bathroom. I cannot honestly say what I would have done if I had girls instead of boys.

Whatever you do, don't drink the D4

We spent Saturday at my dad's annual 4th of July weekend barbecue. There were grilled Porterhouse steaks, lots of salads, and as Dad works for a liquor distributor (he calls it doing God's work), an impressive array of drinks like vodka mojitos and pomegranate martinis.

My daughters were scoping out the place, and were hanging out in the guest room. Lauren called Dad in and a few minutes later he emerged with a red bottle.

"I think mostly she just spilled it all over herself and the bed," he said, handing me the bottle. "But I'm not sure if she drank it."

I examined the 30-year-old bottle, which only said "Keep out of reach of children". No ingredient list.

"Did you drink it?" I asked Lindsay.

She nodded, round eyed.

Dad went on the Internet to see if he could determine the ingredients. Alec called Poison Control.

"Poison control said 'It is illegal to have solvents that don't have printed ingredient lists'."

"Who knows how old the bottle was?"

"It looks like bubble solution." Alec said. He stuck his tongue in the bottle and tasted it. "It doesn't taste like anything."

He handed me the bottle. "It doesn't even taste like soap."

"Alright, thanks." He said to the operator and hung up.

"What did they say?"

"They said, 'Go to the emergency room'."


"That it might contain isopropyl alcohol or acetone as an active ingredient."

"I think you'd be able to smell or taste one of those."


"I think we'll just keep an eye on her instead."

"Sounds like a plan."

Lindsay had no adverse effects, except some pretty foul diarrhea in the morning which could also be attributed to the quarter pound of Oreos she ate.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Queen Of The Last Minute

It's 11:33pm, the night before our town's Summer Playgrounds program begins and I've got the paperwork spread out before me, reading about how unprepared we are. We've got sunblock, water bottles, and closed-toe shoes covered. We can easily send the kids in without toys or games from home. After that, it kind of disintegrates.

There's a no peanut-butter-at-all mandate this year (last year, it was peanut-free zones), so lunches tomorrow will be yogurt, plums, and Doritoes. Ross will not eat the yogurt. Lars will not eat the plum. Chris is downstairs checking if we've got any crackers (we're leaving town for two weeks on Wednesday, so I've been letting the stores drop pretty radically).

The site for Ross' program has changed because the school we signed him up for is having some sort of renovation and I'm not sure where the new school is. Hello, Google Maps!

The schedule sent for Lars' program shows the location for LUNCH as BATHROOM/PLAYGROUND. Typo? Precaution? The only time the children will be allowed to wee? Chris and I decide that, for six hours of free care, we are willing to send Lars in to find out firsthand.

I have the feeling I should have read this stuff a week ago or something. If I leap into the car RIGHT NOW, I can make it to Wegmans before it closes and secure better lunch stuff. I'd get funny looks and possibly a citation for my clearance rack satin sleeping shorts with the hideous clown stripes and vertical runs from having a clawed kitten. We won't even discuss the clashing tank top I'm wearing (I'm saving my good PJ's for later in the week, when we'll have and/or be overnight guests). This is me, not leaping for the car.

So...Lars will eat his so-called lunch in the bathroom, while wearing sneakers and sunblock. Ross may or may not have anyone to play with, depending on if I can find the right school to drop him off. At least if he can have PB for lunch if he winds up back at home.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Admin post

Congrats to Round the Bend, winner of May/June! It looks like Karen and Paige have July off to a great start already...

Someone Else's Kid

Our immediate neighborhood posse is comprised of nine kids, aged kindergarten - 4th grade. They roam free between the backyards here, none of which are fenced in. The gang assembled just after lunch, when the parents had all decided it wasn't really going to rain and tossed the kids outside. My kids might have been tossed out in a thunderstorm - since when was showing up to lunch in nothing but your boxers ok?

About an hour after they'd all gone out, a neighbor boy who will be in Kindergarten next year appeared at my door. He'd been standing on the slide and he wasn't ready to get off the slide by another kid had gone down the slide and he had to jump off the slide and...

I held up a polite hand. "Is anyone hurt?" He shook his head and tried to start in again, but I cut him off. "Does your mom like it when you tattle at home?" His eyes gave the answer I expected. "You know your mom and I talk, right? So she'll hear about things you do over at my house?"

A wave of relief washed over him. "Well," he said smartly, "You talk at the bus stop and school is OVER."

I ducked into the house fast, so he wouldn't see me laugh, and returned with a Flav-or-ice. "Get off the slide faster next time," I said and sent him on his way. Sometimes, dealing with someone else's kid is SO much easier.

Breaking Strong to Start July

First, a confession: Zane still sleeps with me. There. I said it. I'll give you a couple of seconds to regain composure after the apoplexy. All better now? Okay, moving on.

Now the stellar bit of parenting: I let my son sleep in a puddle of his own wet last night. And when I say puddle of wet, I mean of sopping circle of pee with a diameter longer than my wee lad's body.

Zane and I entertained company for supper last night. One of my best girlfriends is going through a very rough time with her fiance. Something about a pre-nup negotiation going bad, and threats of leaving before the wedding even happens. On top of that, we both needed to vent about the new team of Junior Leaguers who seem determined to run our legacy into the ground. Plus, PG is on a 10-day movie shoot in LA and I've been feeling a lot lonely. When I added all those things in my head, I had a very good reason to throw an impromptu dinner party a deux, with all of our shared favorites: creamy tomato bisque soup; salad of baby lettuces with tarragon dressing; rosemary & parmesan cheese straws; a selection of Norman Love chocolates; and wine. Because, really, no girls' night is complete without at least one bottle of really good wine.

The little soiree went off beautifully. We laughed, we vented, we gossiped and, most of all, we drank a whole bottle of chardonnay. We said good night at 11:30pm, and I went straight to bed to snuggle with my little Z.

At 3:30am, Zane woke up crying. That is not typical for him; still, he settled back into sleep with a little cajoling from me. He awakened again at 4:00am, crying, but he settled back into sleep. Again for another 30 minutes. We repeated that routine until 5:30am when I picked him up to lay him on my chest. It was then that I discovered the puddle, and I remembered that I had not changed Z's diaper after feeding him at 10:00pm. Oooops! No wonder he had been crying. I'd cry, too, if my mama kept putting me back to sleep on a pee-soaked spot.

Not willing to sacrifice the possibility of two more hours sleep, and truly terrified of the boogeyman that inhabits the dark expanse between my locked bedroom and Z's nursery when PG is out of town, I pulled the wet PJs off my precious boy and changed his diaper from the stash I keep in the linen closet in my bathroom. I didn't have an extra set of PJs in the linen closet; and I couldn't be bothered to remember the stack of clean laundry on the cedar chest. I only wanted to get back into the bed and claim my two additional hours of sleep. Apparently, so did little Z. His half-naked little body went limp the instant we laid back down.

THREE hours later I was treated to smiles and giggles and coos - the puddle of wet a distant, repressed memory. Whew. That was close.