On Being a Minister’s Kid

My dad was a minister. Yeah. I’m a Preacher’s Kid (or a Theologian’s Offspring if you want to be all snooty.) It explains a lot about me, doesn’t it?

When I was little, I remember asking my mom, “Why does Dad dress up on Sunday and pretend to be Jesus?” I couldn’t figure out why all these people came to see him play dress-up and imagination every week, especially since I thought he wasn’t very good at it and was pretty boring. When she explained to me what he was really doing, I was relieved to know that my dad was not in fact insane.

It’s a strange life sometimes having a minister for a dad. Why is it that the kids of a doctor, a lawyer or a plumber are never expected to know everything about their parent’s trade? Yet having a dad who was a minister, other kids would turn to me and ask me questions about the Bible and religion. Seriously. I never thought to ask them if something looked infected, how to sue someone or how to install a faucet. Yet somehow by birth I was omniscient about God? Adults often expected me to be extra well-behaved because, well…God was watching me more closely or something. I think I was better behaved because I always got “the look” from my mom if I got restless in church and she would cover my hands with hers in my lap. I knew there would be trouble later if I didn’t knock it off. I think it was the other adults who were watching me more closely and Mom knew it.

When I was in middle school, I was talking with a new friend and she refused to believe me that my dad was a minister. “But you don’t wear white all the time.” Uhh, okay. I think that was when I started to wear black a lot and started cursing more. It’s all her fault.

I vividly remember when I learned about death. I was about 4 or 5 at the time and some days I would go to church with my dad while he worked. Lots of times I would go and hang out with his secretary and she would put me to “work” stapling things or using the guillotine-like paper cutter (probably not a wise choice, but we didn’t wear bike helmets back then either, so…) Other times she’d have me fold bulletins for Sunday. I always loved the heady smell of the mimeograph as the pages ker-chunked out into the tray.

When Mrs. Biertzer had enough of me and my dad was busy, I would have free run of the church. I played in the nursery, zig zagged through the pews and ran laps up and down the aisle. Sometimes I played Sunday school teacher or pretended to pass the offering plate.

One day I was in the sanctuary and up in front was an elderly lady sleeping in a fancy box that was half open. I stood in front of it for awhile, admiring the satin lining and pillow, how neatly she slept with her hands clasped on her chest, and how pretty she looked with her hair nicely curled and make up done up. I thought about waking her, but I was afraid I’d startle her and make her scream like my mom did when I went woke her up in the middle of the night. (It always scared the crap out of me and made me think twice about waking her.)

After I decided to let the lady sleep there in the front of the church, I went downstairs to the kitchen where the Ladies Aid was busily preparing the meal for after the funeral. I casually told them about the lady sleeping in the box upstairs. All activity abruptly stopped, pearls were clutched and immediately a ham sandwich and a cookie were shoved in front of me to distract me so I wouldn’t ask questions. I was then quickly shuffled off to go find my dad.

I found him in his office and said, “Dad? There’s a lady sleeping in a box in the front of the church. I went downstairs to ask the ladies about it and they acted all weird when I told them about it.”

He calmly and matter-of-factly answered, “She’s dead.”

“Dead dead?” I asked. “Oh.”

He then went on to tell me about the funeral they were going to have for her that afternoon and answered my questions. As I look back on this, I give my dad a lot of credit for being honest with me and giving me a straight-forward answer instead of trying to spare my questions and avoiding my fear. If he didn’t answer the way he did, I probably would have been scared. I need to remember this more when my kids ask me those tough questions.

I guess I’m thinking about my dad a lot lately because this week will be the two year anniversary of his death. I miss my favorite feeling in the world of how it felt when he enveloped me in a big hug after church as he shook hands with the congregants. He would still be wearing his robe, the one with with the big sleeves and velvet stole with gold crosses embroidered on it.  It was pure heaven and all was right in the world in those moments. Life wasn’t scary and I was the most special girl in the world. Now his robe is tucked away in its carrying case up in my closet. Maybe I’ll get the courage to get it out this week and let the kids admire it with me while we share some good memories of him.

 

 

Stress Baking & Bonfires

img_20180628_114949136.jpgI’ve been doing a lot of stress baking lately. There is something zen about baking for me. Perhaps it’s because it’s an activity that engages all of the senses: hearing the whir of my 6 quart KitchenAid stand mixer, the smell of my favorite Penzey’s vanilla and the aromas coming from the oven, the feel of a perfect dough, the sight of a cookie just kissed with golden brown…and of course taste. I think what clinches it for me is when I can deliver a surprise treat to a friend and it makes their day just a little better. After baking off a double batch of cookies, my blood pressure seems to return to normal. (And the fact that I can bribe my kids for good behavior with said baked goods is a bonus.)
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“So why all this stress baking?” you ask. We’re into week 3 of summer vacation and hell has hit. Already.

Right now the drama between First Born Male Child and Young Son has been over F’ing Pokemon cards. Yes. Pokemon cards. The number of screaming, ranting cage match fights I’ve had to break up ought to earn me a ref’s jersey and whistle. (But I’d have to immediately hide the whistle because those assholes would go crazy and try to shatter each other’s ear drums with it or drown out the other’s voice whenever he spoke….that last one’s not a bad idea, actually….)

Anyway. The fighting usually starts over trades. FBMC gets YS to trade a good card. A little while later YS realizes he’s been bamboozled, the trader’s remorse hits and that’s when the real shit hits the fan. It has gotten to the point where if I hear one word about Pokemon attacks/energy/evolvement/health and other crap, my lip curls back and I start growling and cursing.

What makes all of this crap even worse, is my husband supports this behind my back. He has taken the boys to stores to buy these Statan’s calling cards…multiple times! Then when I lose my shit over the betrayal, he says, “But I made a new rule that all trades need to be approved by me first.” Well, that’s all good, Mr. Boss Man. But considering that all of the back alley trading goes on while you’re at work or out fishing, I’m left to deal with the resulting wreckage and carnage. Thanks for nothing, traitor.

So here’s how I’m dealing with this. I’m going all batshit crazy Mean Mommy Monster. You see, for Father’s Day I got my husband a portable fire pit under the premise of making s’mores and memories. In reality, I plan on using it for Pokemon cards. Anytime the boys fight, I threaten to use their cards for kindling. I’m hoping to get to the point where all I have to do get out the fire starter whenever I need their behavior to do a 180.

So neighbors: if you see smoke coming from my backyard, grab a lawn chair, a skewer for toasting marshmallows and come on over. I’ll supply the stuff for s’mores and will most likely have plenty of baked goods and booze. Oh. Feel free to bring your personal hell and toss it in the fire if you want. We can make a video and post it on YouTube for other moms to use an example to their inmates. Guaranteed to go viral, I say! This may just become my new zen activity…

And for those of you who actually like Pokemon cards, here’s the most powerful, rarest one yet!

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Bracing Myself for Summer

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. I guess I’ve been feeling in a bit of a slump. Or maybe I’ve been overwhelmed by all of the end-of-the-year craziness of band concerts, recitals, everyone suffering through spring fever and just being done with the school year.
I keep reading how moms everywhere are so anxious for summer to come so they can do all sorts of fun stuff with their kids and relax. So here’s what I wonder: Am I living on the same planet? What kind of medication are they taking or giving to their children? How can I be doing things SO wrong? Or are they just lying their fool heads off in some mass mommy shaming conspiracy — or are gaslighting themselves??

Don’t get me wrong. We all need a break from the infinite demands of the school year — kids, parents and especially teachers. I get it. I’m looking forward to a little less structure for awhile.

June is great — everyone is reveling in the end of school, playing outside in the beautiful weather as much as they want and just taking a break from the hustle, bustle and responsibility of the school year. But then July hits like a hot steamy freight train. Playing outside is no longer fun, friends start hating on each other and the “I’m boooooored!” complaints come flying full-force. By August everyone is stabby and homicidal. I’m supposed to love spending all this quality time with my kids. They just make it really, really hard in the summer.

And do I need to even mention the messes that will be created 24/7? Oh yes, now not only do I have to nag them about cleaning their rooms, picking up their toys and the playroom inside, now that hell has expanded to the outdoors. Every bike, scooter, water toy, and piece of sports equipment will be drug out from the garage and basement and left outside…Every. Damned. Day. Then they will decide outside is too boring or too hot and will want to come inside with their friends to trash the inside of the house, eat their body weight in snacks and suggest elaborate picnics that I could make for them. God forbid they would actually clean up after themselves without me having to hound them 20,000 times. Maybe there’s a way I could get Alexa to nag for me. I know my kids think I enjoy being a raging lunatic by the end of the day, but no. Not so much.

I see article after article about creating “bucket lists” to accomplish over the summer. Or the conflicting articles saying we should just let our kids play and have fun (“The 70s summer”)… or we should structure our summers full of activities and educational experiences to keep away the boredom. Ugh. Which is it?!?

What it all really comes down to for me is the Mom Guilt. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Have I made them read and do math flash cards enough so they don’t lose their hard earned skills over the summer months? Do all kids fight as much as mine? Do other moms yell as much as I do? Do they fight because I yell, or do I yell because they fight? Maybe I have been poisoning them with the copious amounts of sunscreen I make them wear. Where are the matches so I can set my hair on fire?

Oh. If one more person tells me that I need to get a pool pass and live there all summer, I will be setting their hair on fire. In case you haven’t noticed, I have a lot of anxiety and very little patience. Keeping 3 children from drowning themselves or other kids in opposite ends of the pool is not my idea of a super relaxing time. I’m not even going to go into how much courage it takes me to don a swimming suit and strut around with my pasty white, hail-damaged thighs and arms all exposed. I’d rather jump out of a plane from 30,000 feet. I can’t be responsible for all of the emotional damage I will inflict from people having to see that.

So friends, I will be trying to keep a good attitude about summer break, but I can’t guarantee anything. If you see me wandering aimlessly around Target late at night (because that is the only time I will not have children with me for the next 3 months) — either avoid me completely if you’re not up for hearing an epic rant…or come give me a hug, a Starbucks and tell me I’m pretty.

PS — I need some blog topic ideas. If you have any, post them in the comments!

Easter Bunny Karma

Happy Easter!

I was so excited that April Fool’s Day also happened to fall on Easter this year. That meant I really had to up my game with Easter Bunny antics to torment my children. Oh, game on.

Young Son woke up bright and early this morning to see what EB had left for him. I heard him sneak downstairs to look for his loot, and soon he came running into my room, “Mom! The Easter Bunny came, but he left us healthy treats. There’s like carrots and stuff. What in the high heck?!” I feigned incredulity. “What?! That’s crazy business! Let’s go check it out!” I rousted my husband out of bed — this was going to be good.

Here is what we found:

The letter read:

Happy Easter!

This year I thought it was important to keep all the kids I visit healthy.

In your baskets you will find an assortment of delicious, yet healthy treats that will keep your bodies growing and cavities away. (I think you’ll find that you won’t even miss chocolate, jelly beans, peanut butter eggs and Peeps.)

I also know you are big fans of poopTherefore, I have left plenty for you. Try it. I think you’ll find it quite tasty.

Love from your friend,

The Easter Bunny       

PS: April Fool’s! Now go find the real treats I left for you!

img_20180401_0945170051595521598.jpgYoung Son started cracking open eggs only to find more carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. But wait! One rattled, but it was stuck! He handed it over to Dear Husband for help. I guess he underestimated his great strength because the contents went flying all over the place when he cracked it open. Young Son snatched up the loot, “JELLY BEANS!” and promptly popped one in his mouth. “YYUUCCKK!!! Black Licorice!!!” and he immediately spit it out and started wiping his tongue to get rid of the nasty taste. “I do NOT like black licorice!!!”

A minute later he frantically says, “MOM! I think I’m going to throw up! I need a bowl!!!” I sprinted over with one, but was too late. He projectile vomited all over the hardwood floor. (Hey, at least I didn’t have to shampoo the carpet.) I looked over at my husband. He smugly mouthed, “KARMA.” Asshole.

I glared at him, “You COULD help, you know — since you always seem to be absent whenever there’s puke to be cleaned up!” I mean didn’t I just have to clean up scene from the Exorcist the other night?!?

He looked like he was going to gag. “I’m not going anywhere near bad Easter Bunny Karma. You’re on your own.” I threw my rage into cleaning up the floor and tried not to hurl in the meantime.

Meanwhile, Amazon Warrior Princess came downstairs to see what was up. Young Son immediately filled her in on the 411 and she took a carrot and casually started munching. “Do NOT eat the jelly beans! They’re poisonous!!! And LOOK! The Easter Bunny pooped all over the place!!!” (In case you didn’t know, the Easter Bunny poops Milk Duds.)

I sent them up stairs to get First Born Male Child out of bed. He’d want in on this. He came down and stared dubiously, taking it all in. “What the heck!” He greedily grabbed all the foil-wrapped eggs he could find, opened one and threw it down. “It’s a GRAPE! Come ON!” Then he read the note aloud and popped some “poop” into his mouth. YS screamed, “YOU ATE EASTER BUNNY POOP!!!!” AWP scurried over and hid her face in my robe in horror. (Why is it that my boys have this crazy love and fascination with all things poop and poop emoji? It’s out of hand really.)

He finally read the last line of the Easter Bunny’s note: “PS: April Fool’s! Now go find the real treats I left for you!” He looked up at my husband and me with a knowing look and nodded. They went off in search of their baskets and were happy to find the real loot.

A little later FBMC came over and whispered, “Thank you!” I was pretty proud of him for going along with the gag to keep up the fun for his little brother and sister.

And then FBMC and YS started fighting over candy and other nonsense. Well, it was good while it lasted.

So Happy Easter, everyone. May your day be filled with GOOD Easter Karma, good food and the joy of the Resurrection.

Off to make some ham now….

 

Spinning Plates

It’s been a rough couple of days for this mama, and frankly I’m pretty proud of myself that I haven’t curled up in a corner to ugly cry for an hour or drink heavily.

We spent the weekend in Iowa visiting my brother-in-law and his family. Aside from the 5+ hour car ride each way, it’s always a lot of fun for the kids and adults alike. The only time I nearly lost all of my shit this weekend was when I actually had to tell my son, “There is no way you can ‘accidentally’ bite someone’s butt!!” A weekend with minimal fighting (except for accidental butt bites) was actually pretty refreshing. Maybe my 3 nephews, 2 dogs, a basement arsenal of Nerf guns and all the sports equipment one could ask for are the key.

But coming home after a weekend of fun, late nights and long car rides, getting back into “real” life is as much fun as a case of The Gout. (More on that later.) Monday hit back… hard. I had one of those “spinning 12 plates at once” kinda mornings. It didn’t end well, as you will see.

spinning plates

I made my way to First Born Male Child’s (FBMC) room. I didn’t smell sulfur, so I went in. He was out cold, but after a calling his name a half dozen times, he stirred and muttered that he was up. Then he rolled over and went back to sleep. *sigh* I’d rattle his cage a little later. [Spins plate.]

Young Son (YS) was slightly easier to wake up after digging him out of his nest of covers and getting some of his better ticklish spots. [Spins plate.]

I stumbled downstairs and started the coffee, the blessed elixir of the morning. Amazon Warrior Princess (AWP) hurled herself out of her room, crazed hair and all, ready to attack the morning. YS sauntered downstairs bleary eyed and declared it to be a cold lunch day. Crap. Usually the rule is that hot vs. cold lunch has to be decided the day before. I didn’t feel like fighting and told him to start getting the stuff ready. [Spins plate.]

Now to wake up FBMC. I called upstairs. No answer. I called again, this time with an edge to my voice. Nada. I bellowed up, this time with nostrils flaring. It elicited a feeble, “what?” from him. “OHMYGAAWWWDDDD!!!! GET UUUUPPPP!!!” I heard muttering and shuffling around and hoped for the best. [Spins plate.]

AWP patiently hands me her pancake wrapped sausage on a stick she has gotten out so I could nuke it for her. “You got it sister. Way to be on the ball!” [Her plate was spinning just fine.]

Meanwhile, YS is assembling his lunch. “What do you want for breakfast, pal?” He huffs back, “I don’t KNOW! What IS there?” Because you know, breakfast food is such a freakin’ mystery! Every. Single. Day. “How ’bout PB&J?” I asked. He was down with that, so I doubled up the ingredients for my sandwich making. [Spins plate]

I realized I hadn’t heard anything from upstairs recently, so I called up, “Are you dressed???” I heard stumbling around, “no…” The vein on my forehead started to throb, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!! GET DRESSED!!!!!” I heard mumbling related to my lack of patience and overall parenting skills. [Angrily spins plate.]

coffee f bomb

Dear Husband (DH) finally comes downstairs. He was going to be leaving for 9 days in China in a little while, so he was oblivious to the building chaos since he was deep in Travel Mode. My surliness spiked as I contemplated the 9 days of being the only adult in our house. *sigh* I refilled my coffee and poured him a cup. [Spins plate.]

FBMC finally emerged from his room, still wearing his T-shirt he had worn to bed and pants he’d probably had on the day before. I didn’t want to know about the underwear. It pained me, but this time I let it go. I asked him if he’d fed his fish. He trotted back up, fed his fish and then proceeded to go back up and downstairs about a half dozen more times to get other “important” things he’d forgotten, like his favorite eraser. By this time, my blood pressure in the yellow zone and going higher. [Plates were starting to get wobbly.]

“Please get yourself some breakfast. You don’t have a lot of time!” This was answered by the same, “What IS there??” I got from his brother. (Why are my children trying to kill me by a million paper cuts???) YS cheerfully chimes in, “You could have eggs from IIIOOOWWWAAAAHHH!!!” Oh yes. Iowa eggs. My brother-in-law has 4 free-range chickens,

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and he’d sent some eggs home with us. FBMC had seen how they were collected and how non-pristinely clean they are when not purchased in a cardboard box from the store. “CHICKENS POOP EGGS! I’m NEVER eating anything with eggs again!!!” Once we reminded him that most of his favorite desserts had eggs in them (his whole reason for living,) he had to go think about that for awhile and reconsider his position on the matter. So when YS evilly suggested Iowa eggs as a breakfast option to see if he could make his brother explode, I may have given him my best “stop now or you will never touch an electronic device for as long as I’m alive” look. It must have worked, since he hunkered down and started shoving his PB&J in his mouth. Wise choice, young man. [More plates were looking wobbly.]

I don’t even know what FBMC ate for breakfast, since that was when the woman who cleans our house twice a month decided to walk in…a half an hour EARLY. (Yeah, I know…first world problems.) Normally she’s a welcome sight, but on a day like this one, she was the last thing I needed. The first of the plates started crashing as all momentum I had built came to a halt as she hauled her supplies inside. She started cleaning around the chaos and rearranging things I hadn’t had a chance to put away yet. (Why is it I spend more time cleaning for the cleaning person than any other time??) I started seeing stars and felt a small stroke coming on. [Crash! Crash!]

At that point, I looked at the clock: 3 MINUTES UNTIL THE BUS!!! SHIT!!!!! Shoes and socks were not on, coats and backpacks had walked off and hidden. I went into full-throttle yelling maniac drill sergeant mode. YS managed to pull things together while I ran outside and gave the bus driver the signal to wait a second. I went back inside only to find FBMC freaking out because his shoes were still WET from whatever hell he had gotten into while we were in Iowa! WHAT?!? Where were his other shoes?!! DH sprang into action and ran upstairs to find some while I shoved YS out the door to get on the bus. FBMC was going to miss it. Goddamnit! [Crash! Crash! Crash! SHATTER!]

The cleaning person had gone off to hide in a bathroom and clean. I figured she was in her own private hell, since let’s face it. YS couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn when he pees since he uses the “freestyle” method.

My stress level hit critical mass and I lost my shit. I think I may have sucked out all the air out of the room. FBMC finally got the hint that he needed to hustle and pulled himself together. We ran out to the garage only to find the Mom Mobile had been parked in. Okay. Where are the keys to DH’s car??? We roared down the driveway while I was giving FBMC an epic ass chewing for messing around and whatever other rants that came to mind.

I reached the entrance to the subdivision and finally got myself calmed down. This was not worth it. Really. Why am I such a freak? A couple miles down the road I apologized for being a lunatic and told him I loved him. Let’s try to do better tomorrow. He agreed and apologized as well. [Cue swelling feel-good music.]

This healing moment was short lived as I turned on the left turn signal, which started blinking rapidly. Fanfuckingtastic. Guess I’ll have to get that fixed too while DH is away. A few blocks later I nearly got t-boned by an irate woman who couldn’t see my dysfunctional turn signal. Excellent.

By the time I arrived back home, DH was working away in his office maximizing his time with WiFi before the car came to take him to the airport. I went upstairs to check the kids’ rooms to strip beds and re-clean what they hadn’t so the cleaning person could do actual real cleaning. (It’s madness.) I found a flashlight hidden under FBMC’s bed. BINGO! I KNEW he was staying up reading! Well, at least that answered one question.

I went back downstairs to say good-bye to DH. As we hugged, he must have been thinking that his 14 hour flight was looking pretty luxurious and peaceful compared to this morning’s private hell. I would agree. Off he went and I felt further deflated.

I’d like to say the day got better. I guess it sort of did since I had a clean house for all of 3 hours until the boys came home. I tucked AWP in her room with the iPad and let her have at it. This mama needed a nap. After the boys got home the rest of the evening was the regular crap of homework, dinner, and bedtime routine. Sweet freedom. I lived through the day. Tomorrow would be better. I went to bed early.

Well, not so much. 12:30 AM: “MOOOMMMM!!!!” I go into YS’s room and was hit with a giant wave of barf smell. I turned on the light. It looked like the morning after a frat party. [Cue dry heaves.] I got him washed up, every piece of bedding off and in the washing machine, re-made his bed and put him back to sleep with a bowl.

I crawled back into my own bed, only to have insomnia for the next 2 hours. I tracked DH’s flight. He was still over northern China and hadn’t landed yet. I’m sure at that point the plane smelled only slightly better than YS’s room had. At least we were both suffering, albeit hemispheres apart. Misery loves company.

I know we all have days where everything goes off the rails, sometimes more epically than others. But it’s those days where I find myself filled with the most self-doubt and self-loathing. Why can’t I hold my shit together longer like a normal person? I need to revisit my “3 Gs” of the new year: Gratitude, Grace and Goodness. I need to be grateful for what I have, give others more grace to be human and make mistakes and really notice the goodness around me. What if my mother witnessed my days like this? Surely I would get the saddest, most disappointed head-shaking look imaginable. I wouldn’t blame her.

Tomorrow is another day. Gratitude. Grace. Goodness. I can do it.

Oh yeah. So “The Gout.” My brother-in-law has been suffering with a case of The Gout. Now please note, it’s not “gout” — it’s “The Gout.” Sorta like “The Plague” is it’s own official thing. It brought back memories of my grandpa. I don’t have a ton of them about him, but I do remember this: he religiously took his “gout pills” every day. He would shuffle over to the cabinet by the stove, get down this big old-school amber glass apothecary jar

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and take his daily gout pill. “I don’t ever want to get The Gout again!” (In case you don’t know what “The Gout” is, it’s a form of acute arthritis that is caused by uric acid crystals building up, usually in your big toe. It’s excruciatingly painful and your foot feels like it’s on fire.) After he took his pill, he would shuffle over to his favorite chair, unlace his dress boots that he wore every day (along with suspenders and a long-sleeved dress shirt) and read the paper.

redman

That or he’d head out to the garage through the squeaky screen door and have a chew of Red Man chewing tobacco, of which he always had a not-so-secret stash of in the backseat of his car that forever had a not altogether unpleasant molasses-y smell. Over 30 years later and I still remember.

Maybe that will be my 4th G. Don’t get The Gout.

Child Car Seats are from Hell

Recently I had to take the mom mobile into the dealer to have some work done on it. Normally, I try to suck it up and wait if it’s not too long, but this was supposed to take 4 hours. Waiting to have work done on your car is about as fun as getting work done at the dentist. Add a 3 year old to that scene, and it’s like getting that dental work done sans Novocain. So that meant I had to get a ride home and back again from the dealer, which included wrestling with with Amazon Warrior Princess’ car seat. Multiple times. [Insert whimpering here.]

Since I was going to have to take her car seat out of the car anyway, I had the brilliant idea that I could take this opportunity to move her into a bigger car seat. I had one stored in the basement from when my youngest son was her age, and I couldn’t remember why I never liked it. But I lugged it upstairs anyway.

carseatNow I know others will back me up on this, but I’m beginning to think there’s some plot that car seat and automobile manufacturers are colluding to see if they can send parents over the edge when it comes to car seat installation. If you look at the online videos of how to properly install a car seat, it looks as easy as making a simple cup of coffee. The perfectly made up mom, deftly plops the car seat in, click, click, click, tug, tug, tug, wiggle, wiggle and voila! Away she goes, not a hair out of place.

When I presented her with the new seat-of-honor, AWP squealed with delight. This snazzy model had a cup holder — only the cool kids get their own cupholder. She immediately plopped herself in and tried to buckle herself up. Problem was, the straps were set for someone half her height. Ah ha! NOW I remembered why I hated this thing: adjusting all the straps required an advance mechanical engineering degree and the hand strength of a professional milkmaid, both of which I lacked. After referencing online manuals, employing the use of a pliers and plenty of cursing and sweating while fending off an impatient preschooler, 30 minutes later I had conquered the beast. AWP got herself a juice box for the cupholder, took her place upon her new throne in the middle of the kitchen and was content. Have at it, sister.

 

Now when I was a kid, child safety seats weren’t really a thing. I had one when I was really little, but it was this big, black vinyl behemoth that I could climb out of and was rarely used. In fact, it wasn’t until I was learning how to drive that anyone really used seat belts in our car (except when we were on long car rides on the highway, the logic being bad accidents only happened at higher speeds.) Heck — when I was in kindergarten, my dad even built a wooden box “booster” covered in carpeting so I could sit in the middle of the bench seat up front and could see over the dashboard of our Oldsmobile 88. This was also before airbags, and I’m guessing I wasn’t buckled up then either. They should have just put a cape and go-go boots on me — hello projectile kid.

Luckily safety in general has come along way since I was little. Kids wear sunscreen in the summer, helmets when they bike or rollerblade and are buckled into an age-appropriate car seat or booster in the car. But did you know that according to the NHTSA, on average 46% of those car seats are installed incorrectly??!! Honestly, it’s not for lack of trying either. As parents we can only do the best that we can with the information available to us. And sometimes that gets overwhelming, confusing and nearly impossible.

So by the time I dropped my car off at the dealer, wrestled the old car seat into the porter’s hamster-powered car after moderate cursing and struggling, I was pretty much a wreck. The poor porter, who I think started shaving last week, looked pretty worried. He kept his hands white-knuckled at 10 and 2 and silently prayed that the crazed woman next to him wouldn’t go completely feral. As the landscape on the ride to our house turned somewhat rural, I think I heard him whimper, as I think he was listening for the sounds of banjos playing or something. We finally made it home, and I wrestled the car seat out of the back once again, leaving a trail of crushed goldfish crackers, fossilized french fries and God knows what else behind on the seat. I’ve never seen someone so relieved to pull out of our driveway. I’m guessing that was a really high-stakes game of Rock-Paper-Scissors back at the shop when the porters had to decide who was going to pick me up again the next day.

I guess the moral of this meandering story is that we can only try our best as parents to keep our kids safe and secure. We somehow managed to survive our own childhoods with our parents who were doing the best that they could. Our kids will too with a little luck, YouTube how-to videos and a screwdriver (the tool and the cocktail.)

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On This Issue I Can No Longer Keep Silent: Gun Control. Now.

I know normally I write about how relieved I am when the bus whisks my kids away, because they’ve been busy being jerks. Today was different.

My older son stayed home from school today while he gets over the flu, and it was actually a relief. You see, as my younger son got on the bus, I had tears in my eyes and an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I thought of all the parents who have sent their kids off to school on days like yesterday, unknowing that it would be the last day they would see their child alive. It used to be unimaginable that someone would ever come into a school and open hellfire upon children and their teachers. Or at night clubs and concerts. Or anywhere.

When I was a kid, we practiced fire and tornado drills, and that was the extent of what we needed to learn to keep ourselves safe in an emergency at school. Now teachers must practice going through hard lock downs with our children — to teach them what to do to save their lives if someone comes into the school to try to kill them. We are constantly requiring more and more of our teachers to educate our children. But isn’t it too much to require them to basically be soldiers to defend and protect our children from a murderer?

I normally don’t like to discuss politics. I loathe debate in general and when I have been daring enough to share my political beliefs, it’s taken its toll on a few friendships. But on this I can’t remain silent any longer. When are our lawmakers going to say enough is enough? I cannot for the life of me understand why it’s okay for people to be able to own semi-automatic assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

“But our 2nd Amendment Rights!!!” Well, you know what? When our founding fathers wrote that, AK-15s were something they hadn’t even imagined. The weapons people had then could be fired 2-3 times per minute by skilled soldiers. An average shooter today can effortlessly shoot a semi-automatic weapon about 2 times per second.

I don’t have a problem with responsible people owning guns for hunting or sport — I grew up in a home with shotguns and rifles, and I was even a pretty proficient trap shooter. My dad and brothers hunted as well. Before I ever shot a gun, I went through a gun safety course through the DNR. Guns in our home were kept locked up and the ammunition locked separately on a different floor of the house. Guns weren’t something you took lightly.

Some people feel the need to own a handgun to protect themselves in their homes. While that’s not something I’m comfortable with, especially when children could potentially have access to them, handgun owners aren’t out to commit mass killings. If someone feels the need to own an assault weapon for “sport,” I suggest they find another hobby. The only purpose of an assault weapon with high capacity magazines is for rapid, mass catastrophic devastation and murder. Plain and simple.

There is blame to go around the world 10 times. How about instead of spending our time blaming, let’s start doing something about this. This is not an all-or-nothing issue. Let’s start with semi-automatic weapons, high capacity magazines, background checks…and getting help for those who would not pass that check. Can we start there please? I am going to send these thoughts to my congressional representatives today. Let’s make our voices heard.