Holiday Gift Giving Guide for My Children

Christmas is bearing down on me like a massive herd of pissed off wildebeests. I haven’t had the courage or time away from my children to bake yet, my house looks like Christmas threw up all over it and I have a bare minimum of presents purchased. Am I shocked or surprised? Obviously not. Stress and hostility fuels my productivity. I hate this trait in me, and I make others suffer right along with my insanity. But after 45 years, I really don’t know if it’s possible to change.

Our family is extremely blessed with generous friends and family, and every year I get asked, “what would your kids like for Christmas?” I’m sure many of you get the same question and probably meet it with the same huge overwhelmed mental sigh that I do. My oldest would adore anything that is Star Wars or Harry Potter related. My 6 year old loves anything with a superhero on it.  And my youngest? Frankly you could wrap up her big brothers in a big box with a bow and she’d lose her mind in pure happiness. (Please don’t wrap them in the same box because they will kill each other and it will be messy…and guess who has to clean up that shit — Yeah. Yours truly.) Actually now that I think about it, just get them socks. Star Wars, Harry Potter, Superhero and sparkly socks. They won’t last long in my house, but it will get me through one more load of laundry with less profanity.

I’m guessing socks is not going to be a satisfactory answer for our blessed gift givers. So this year I’m approaching it from a different angle, and perhaps this may help you too when people ask you the same question. Here’s what NOT to get my kids if you love me at all:

 

Anything that pees, poops or cries — basically any bodily fluid: There are an alarming number of games on the market that involve farting, peeing, pooping, crying and other nonsense. I deal with this on a daily, if not hourly basis. By the time my youngest will be potty trained, I will have had a kid in diapers for the past ten years. TEN YEARS! Why do I need a pretend version of that, which you KNOW I’ll have to clean up after. No thank you.

 

baby aliveHave you seen this gem? This little shit cries tears, whines that it’s not feeling good, requires feeding and temperature taking and more. If this thing comes into my house, it’s getting punched.

And then Goliath games. WTF. This company seriously must have an R&D department run by a team of 8 year old boys. Everything they create involves pooping, farting, boogers and more. Okay. So I get that these topics are a real laugh riot to kids (and their dads) — but don’t I put up with enough of that every single fucking day? Come on!

doggie doogooey louiewho tooted

honestly think the powers that be at Goliath must really hate their respective moms and are taking their hostility out on mothers everywhere.

 

Science kits: I know these seem like a thoughtful, educational gift. “But it says, ‘STEAM’ on it. Isn’t that the big thing these days?” Well yes, to educators it stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.” To the assholes marketing these “science” kits, it really stands for “Shitty Torture Experiments Against Mothers.” Basically these kits include crude beakers that leak and other sketchy measuring devices, popsicle sticks, mysterious packets of powdered toxic waste and a vague instruction book full of “experiments” that require a trip to Costco to buy baking soda, vinegar and Q-Tips in bulk.

 

wks_stemvolcano4Then when you finally have everything you supposedly need to jump start your youngster’s love of science, the hell really begins. Before you’ve had a chance to even read the first line of the instruction book, your adorable Neutron Nelly has already torn open all the packets of toxic waste and is madly mixing random things together while his sibling is sprinkling baking soda all over the kitchen like fairy dust. A hole is being eaten through the table by said disaster and radioactive goo is getting all over the kitchen rug.

Once all of the raw materials have been squandered before one experiment has been completed, your budding scientist has completely lost interest and you’re left in a puddle of tears as you take in the mass destruction that has swept through your kitchen like a tornado hit a mad scientist’s dungeon.

So please. NO. This is why my children go to school so they can do this shit there. This is a good case of, “What happens at school ought to stay at school.”

 

Anything involving glitter or food coloring:  Absolutely not! Glitter is Satan’s sawdust and will make everything in my house look as if a gaggle of lap dancers came over for a rave. Glitter projects should be done at school and not brought home. Instead they should be sent directly to grandparents. I will provide pre-addressed stamped envelopes.

 

glitter

Anything that involves me using food coloring for any reason makes the vein in my forehead throb. This includes homemade play dough (the bane of any preschool parent’s existence,) science experiment kits (yet another reason they are a big NO in my book) and baking projects — need I remind you about my aversion to cut-out cookies?? Getting out the food colors at my house puts my children in mad scientist mode and colors get mixed in alarming quantities, things get spilled, profanity is spewed and the resulting food coloring stains have the half life of bismuth.

Mind you, these are just some general guidelines. Basically I kindly request that when shopping, please keep my mental health in mind. If your gift does not pass the Mommy Sanity Test (I’m working on a patent) — I will file this away in my memory of hateful behavior and use it against you when you are least expecting it. Moms may not be able to remember what the hell they came into the room for, but our memory of bad behavior is razor sharp. So… Grandparents: remember that we get to pick your nursing home. Aunts and uncles: your children will become fair game. Friends who don’t have kids: we will send ours over to your house armed with any non-compliant gifts for you to “enjoy” with our little angels.

You’ve been warned…with gratitude.

 

Badvent Calendar

I know I’m not alone when I say this: socks are the bane of my existence. Okay, maybe not my entire existence, but certainly when it comes to laundry. Why is it that I can put in 10 complete pairs of socks and only get 9 individual socks out…none of which match?! Where the hell do the others go?! I demand answers.

Is there some sort of sock eating parasite that eats them during each load? More likely I think washing machine manufacturers are colluding with sock companies and are installing some sort of secret sock disposal system so that we are forced to buy more socks. And then they try to sell us that Afresh stuff to get rid of the nasty mildew smell every month. No. That shit’s just to cover the stench of dead, undigested socks.

Another theory is that they are all going down the sewer, joining in the massive party of undissolved wipes, diapers, condoms, cooking grease, gangster corpses and piranhas. They’re a real thing — they’re called “fatbergs.” I bet if they dissected this putrid mass, they’d find enough socks to clothe half of China.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/12/550465000/behold-the-fatberg-london-s-130-ton-rock-solid-sewer-blockage

And next time you’re having a crappy day at work or with your kids, be grateful this isn’t your day job to deal with…although some days it really may seem like it.

So I’ve been collecting a huge basket of stray socks in the ridiculous hope that I will one day find matches.

IMG_20171203_193532634Matching socks makes me hostile on a regular basis. Every once in awhile I dump out my basket of hosiery hell and bribe my kids to try to find mates. They poke at the pile halfheartedly for a minute or two and then scurry away like cockroaches to avoid the drudgery. Not that I can blame them.

So after this weekend of holiday decorating (and we all know how that went) I decided to create my very own sanity saver …and better yet,  I don’t have to share with my kids. Voila! My one-of-a-kind “Mommy’s Bad-vent Calendar.”

IMG_20171203_180538367It’s environmentally friendly, as I used a piece of wood one of my kids tried to go Karate Kid on. (It did not end well for neither kid nor board.) To make it a bit more festive, I up-cycled some of the crappy Christmas decorations that my kids have ruined just for a bit of flair and festivity.

IMG_20171203_180730534And then the socks. Finally!! I have a use for these fuckers! The baby socks are the perfect size for mini liquors, kids socks can hold a beer perfectly and adult socks are just right for a bottle of wine (or full-on liquor if you’re having a particularly rough time.) You too can make a custom masterpiece like mine for yourself or your bestie.

IMG_20171203_175910082.jpgI used a variety of booze on mine just to give you some ideas, but the sky’s the limit! If alcohol isn’t your thing, I bet you could up-cycle some holey undies to hold bags of chips, boxes of chocolates…really anything. Go wild!

IMG_20171203_220125479.jpgSo even though it looks like Christmas became violently ill in my house after my kids “decorated” this weekend, this sweet Badvent Calendar fits right in. Tacky? Sure. Ridiculous? Of course! Did I waste a stupid amount of time building this thing? Hell yes! But who the fuck cares?! Not this mama!! And since my dear husband left for a week in China today, I may or may not play a bit of “catch-up” tonight after the inmates are asleep!

Cheers!

 

Lightning in a Bottle

Today I am not writing with my typical sarcastic, oddball style. Today I write with a heavy heart, but I needed to write nonetheless.

On Monday we received the unfathomable news that Rachel, the 11 year old daughter of our friends, was killed in a freak accident. She was swinging on a tree swing at their family’s farm, a place she adored, when the branch broke. I can’t even type the rest.

I haven’t stopped thinking about and mourning for this family since I heard the news that left me breathless and at a loss for words. It took the long car ride to the funeral this weekend to try to find them.

As humans, we are always seeking to find answers to help us make sense of the world. When I search for an answer of why this ever could have happened to such an amazing girl and her beautiful family, I come up empty. Frankly, I don’t think there ever could be an answer that would satisfy this heartbreaking question.

On our journey to southern Indiana, my husband and I listened to the audiobook of Bill Bryson’s, A Short History of Nearly Everything. In it he talks about the beginning of the universe, the atoms of which everything is made, evolution and the incomprehensible amount of time it took for us as humans to evolve to this point in history. As you take time to think about it and put it into perspective, it’s humbling to realize what a small flash our lives are in the history and space of the world.

But as I think about Rachel, and from listening to the beautiful, funny stories her parents shared at her funeral, I realized that she knew how to live life. She was full of adventure, tenacity, resilience, curiosity and so much love. She took on life full-tilt. My dad would have called her “‘lightning in a bottle” — infinite energy just waiting to escape and do amazing things. She was over-the-moon excited that the Boy Scouts were finally letting girls join, because Boy Scouts got to go on bigger, more exciting adventures than Girl Scouts.

Today I write not only to share the incredible soul our world has lost, but also the lessons I have learned and how we can continue Rachel’s legacy.

I have learned …

  1. I need to go on more adventures with my family. Rachel’s parents encouraged this in her and took Rachel and her brother on camping trips, hikes, new places and just let them explore. I need to do more of this by getting over my anxiety and hangups and just DO things. (Okay, maybe not roller skating again, but…)
  2. I need to let things go. So often I get wrapped up in the little things that I’m not enjoying the big picture. I need to put down my electronic devices, step away from the stupid stuff I get stuck in and just BE with my kids more often.
  3. I need to take more family pictures. As I looked at all the pictures displayed at the visitation, I realized we don’t have enough pictures of our kids and our family. Maybe if we actually went on more adventures, we could solve that problem. Maybe we don’t have enough pictures of memories because we haven’t been making enough of them.

Rachel’s aunt said something very important during the funeral. She knew that Rachel was going to be a woman who would make history, but that potential was taken far too soon. It is our job to make the difference in the world that Rachel won’t be able to. I’m not sure what that is at this very moment, but I’m going to try. I challenge you to do the same.

So as I grieve with our friends as they try to put together the pieces of their lives that have shattered and will never be whole again, I leave you with this reminder: hug your loved ones a little longer, read that extra story at bedtime, forgive more quickly, and live your life with purpose so that we can teach others to do the same. For maybe this will help Rachel’s light to shine on longer.

 

Parent/Teacher Conference Eve

teacherTomorrow is Parent/Teacher Conference Day at my sons’ schools. I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the dread most of the teachers must be feeling tonight. To these goddesses of education, I offer my sincere gratitude, sympathy, empathy and moral support…and I’ll bring a flask if you need it. Just give me a signal.

I’m sure these blessed teachers are trying not to think about the grueling day ahead of them tomorrow. But then again, maybe they’re looking forward to getting some questions answered. Like, “Oh. So THAT’S why your kid is such a moron/brat/diva/monster/angel/serial-killer-in-training,” when they finally get to really talk with the parents behind each particular inmate.

Sure, they got to meet families for two crazed minutes at supply drop off, but that’s not a true representation of who we really are now, is it? My kids’ school has this completely demonic tradition of supply drop-off being held for the entire school for ONE HOUR the day before school starts. It’s bedlam and I loathe it with the intensity of 10,000 burning suns. Frankly, I think the school does it just because it’s one last dig at the parents before they have to deal with busloads of backpack wielding nightmares. Let me set the scene for you just what this fresh hell is really like:

It’s usually about 95 degrees that day with 90% humidity outside. Inside it’s maybe a balmy 80 degrees with hundreds of hot, stressed-out bodies clamoring to find lockers and classrooms. There’s pushing and shoving and yelling…and that’s just the parents. The kids are usually the most subdued they’ve been in months, as the reality of the first day of school hits them with that first whiff of fresh floor wax. Moms and dads are barking out orders to their kids as they divvy up the supplies, “Put the paper towels in the bin by the sink! Put the 500 glue sticks in 100 gallon drum by the teacher’s desk! And fer crissake, STOP smelling your Sharpies!”

Then the teacher finally makes her way over to introduce herself. She’s calm, cool, collected and there may be an angelic glow coming from her (or maybe you’re seeing the weird lights that precede a migraine). Parents probably fall into one of three categories:

    1. The seething pot of hostility. Completely done with summer and children. The fights upon fights have finally done them in and they’re three heartbeats away from a stroke. A tight-lipped smile is about all they can muster as they count down the seconds until the bus comes tomorrow.
    2. The groveller. They practically kiss the teacher’s feet with gratitude because she will save them from their children in a few short hours. They apologize in advance for all the crappy things their kid will surely do during the year and promise generous Christmas gifts.
    3. The weepy sap. “Oh the summer went so fast, I can’t believe my darling perfect baby is going to be in X grade already!” (Clearly this parent is overly medicated, has been drunk all summer, or has not lived in the same house with their children.)

Perhaps they’re a combination of these. Needless to say, it’s not the true representation of who they really are. Their children have probably beaten that out of them over the past 3 months.

But the teachers know all of this already and over the past few months, they’ve gotten to know each kid and their particular brand of crazy. Parent/Teacher conferences are the perfect opportunity to see parents at their most vulnerable — when the teacher gets to present the facts, like a fortune teller turning over the tarot cards, as she goes over the grades, scores and behavior reports. How the parent reacts to these facts is very telling. Relieved? Outraged? Shocked? Demoralized? The teacher just stores it all away, along with the stressed-out/apologetic/demanding emails they’ve sent over the trimester, for storytelling in the teacher’s lounge like a brave warrior tells the hallowed details of a brutal battle.

So dear teachers…you saints of Common Core, classroom management and Jolly Phonics. I salute you and wish you luck tomorrow. You have one of the toughest jobs on the planet, and I thank God daily that I don’t have to homeschool because of goddesses like you

 P.S… My children have so far only had female classroom teachers, thus for the purposes of this post, I referred to teachers as she/goddess etc. That’s not to say I don’t sincerely thank all of the amazing teachers who are men. You gods of learning rock the world of education too! I’m sure you will suffer the wrath of my children soon enough. 

Mom Dating

No no no. Before you get your sensible undies in a bunch, I’m not talking about cheating on my wonderful husband. I’m talking about moms meeting other awesome eligible moms to hang out with. It’s hard, but here’s my experience.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for nearly 10 years now. Before that I worked in an office with real adults, most of whom were pretty cool and some are still dear friends. When you go from going into work every day, interacting with adults, getting to go to the bathroom by yourself and actually sitting down to eat your lunch of adult food (rather than standing at the kitchen island, yelling at your kids, “sit on your bottom and eat your lunch already” while you graze on their leftovers of PBJ, mac & cheez and whatever other hell they demanded)– to the craziness of stay-at-home motherhood, it’s a bit of a culture shock. At work, friendships just came naturally. By working along side people, suffering through hellish trade shows together or joining them for a Starbucks run when you just needed to get away — friendships were just an organic part of work life.

Once I left the (paid) workforce and started being a stay-at-home mom, I found myself feeling isolated — almost like being single again. Where do you go to meet other moms like you? This was new territory and I felt lost. Frankly I still feel lost most times. When you have a newborn, no one wants to be your friend because you are a hot mess of horror-mones, exhaustion, dirty laundry, baby poop/puke/pee and stench from not showering since…when did I last shower?

Then you finally get your shit together, your baby’s sleeping for more than 10 minutes at a time and you’ve managed to find an outfit with minimal spit-up on it, some mascara and concealer for the permanent bags under your eyes, and somehow got a brush through your hair (whatever’s left of it since most of it fell out the day after you gave birth.) Okay. Check the mirror — “Meh. It’ll do. Okay! Let’s find some new mommy friends!” But where do you start to look for these elusive creatures? “Target! I’ll go to Target! Moms are always at Target!”

So off you go, pray that your baby sleeps through the excursion and you find yourself lost in the wonder that is Target…”Why am I here?” And then you crash into another bleary-eyed mombie as you round the end cap. One of your babies wakes up, hungrier than a bear in spring time and just like that, it’s mission: failure. Boobs begin leaking, both babies are now screaming. Stick a fork in it. You’re done.

Fast forward a few more months and hooray! Your kid’s old enough so you can join a Mommy & Me class and you think, “Maybe today’s the day!” You look around, assess the pool of friend candidates and start categorizing:mommy & me

High Maintenance Barbie (HMB): She just got out of the salon blow-out look, perfectly coordinated (and clean) clothes, full make-up, has pre-baby body completely back, her child is in head-to-toe Gap with so-cute baby Uggs and NorthFace jacket. Nope. This is the adult version of the popular girls in high school who never talked to me. Why would she start now?! I mean look at me!

Nutty Crunchy: She’s cool and calm, sans make-up but still gorgeous, you know everything in her house is either organic or home-grown (I bet she composts!) A plastic Target bag has never touched her hand. Did she vaccinate??? I’m guessing not. Also her kid is blowing snot bubbles while he mouths every single toy that my kid wants. Nope. Keep your organic Typhoid Jimmy germs back on the farm, lady.

Turbo Hot Mess: She’s the one who came screeching in on two stroller wheels, 15 minutes late, her kid’s lost one shoe and has a bewildered yet happy look on his face, clinging to his SnackEEZ of Cheerios and milk for dear life. She’s bubbly and perky, apologizes profusely for her even being there. Don’t brush her off just yet. She has potential…and frankly, you’re probably a lot like her too.

THE ONE: And there she is. Quietly sitting there, taking it all in. She’s pulled together, but not pretentious like HMB. You see an open bag of non-organic, non-whole-wheat Gold Fish in her diaper bag and an empty Starbucks cup stashed in the bottle pocket. Excellent! Then Miss NC is telling the story of her amazing doula-assisted natural pond birth and how she framed the placenta for the nursery. And then you see it. TO rolls her eyes so far back in her head she can see herself think. BINGO! She is MY KIND OF MOM.

Okay. What do I do next?? I’m a mental hot mess with thoughts racing through my head, “Okay. Play it cool. Make eye contact…but not too much eye contact because then she’ll think you’re crazy/needy/stalkery…okay…but don’t look away too much because then she’ll think you’re snobby.” [Deep breaths]

You casually make your way over to sit by her after a rousing game of Ring Around the Rosey (I am sooo smooth!) You start chatting, she says something mildly snarky and funny, you say something funny and witty back, she laughs and just like that, you’re head-over-heels in love.

Okay. Make your move. You can do it. Ask her for her cell phone number and maybe you can meet up at the park — you’ll bring Starbucks! She enters her name and number into your phonebook and you send her a text with your digits. BOOM! You did it! Now you can hardly contain your excitement enough to make it through the Good-Bye Song because you’re dying to get home so you can Facebook stalk her and see if she’s the real deal.

And that, my friends, is how it’s done. You’re welcome.

There Are Some Things You Shouldn’t Do After 40

Note: The story you are about to read is 100% true and has not been embellished. I wish it had.

You know the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” It’s true.
This week, my oldest had accomplished a big goal he had, and we said that he could pick out a fun family activity as his reward for a job well done. Well, he chose roller skating. Yeah. I’ll wait to let that one sink in a minute for you.

Now, when I was little, I LIVED in roller skates. I mean I used to ride my bike with my roller skates on so that I could roller skate once I reached my destination. I was hard core. I remember the Christmas when I finally got super fancy roller skates, complete with orange wheels, orange toe stops and white boots like ice skates. I had arrived. I even made a variety of yarn pom poms to adorn them to complete that happening ‘70s look. 

In the winter, I roller skated for hours and hours in our basement to a 45 of America’s “Horse with No Name” — even now whenever I hear that song, I can still smell the combination of musty-ish basement and sawdust from my dad’s workshop; I can feel the breeze flowing through my feathered hair as I did spin after spin and practiced gracefully skating backwards. Life was good.

So when my son decided on this fun family activity, I thought, “Sure. I bet I still have a few moves left.” My husband was more realistic about his abilities. “I will fall. A lot. And I’ll break.” “Fine,” I said, “You can just stay home with Amazon Warrior Princess.” He took that deal faster than my kids can down a plate full of bacon. “Okay,” I confidently thought, “You got this. You’ll be the cool mom.” And off the boys and I went.

We arrived at the rink. It was classic old-school with skaters skating counter-clockwise, painted floors, dimmed lights, disco ball and  DJ booth in the corner. “Oh yeah. I am totally Mom of the Year.” My youngest and I laced up our rental skates, while the kid of honor donned his roller blades because he was way cooler. Off he went to get one of those ghetto walkers — you know, the little frames made of duct tape and PVC pipe on wheels for beginning skaters to hang on to for dear life — for his little brother, who was more realistic about his abilities. Boy wonder went zooming off on his roller blades, while my realist white-knuckled the PVC pipes and gingerly rolled his way to the rink floor.

I stood up and skittered around on my wheels a bit. “Hmmm…I don’t remember the wheels being this rolly. Toe stops. Remember to use your toe stops.” I followed my son who had managed to make it to the rink gate on his own and was trying to navigate the step up to the skating floor. “You got this buddy,” I said with confidence. Slowly we made our way to the center of the rink, where the beginner skaters were relegated, scooting around with their PCV frames, falling at alarming rates. But they always popped right up, unfazed and uninjured. We proceeded to slowly make a few laps until he wiped out for the first time. He went all grouchy-old-man, complaining his knee and butt hurt. I offered to kiss them in front of everyone and he laughed. And off we hobbled.

I was starting to regain my confidence, “I just needed to get my skating legs again. This is getting better.” I rounded the curve and then it happened. I fell. Hard. On my ass. I think I bounced a bit.

Now many of you may already know this, but after you’ve had three babies, your body changes. Certain muscles aren’t as strong as they used to be. Yes. I peed myself a little bit when I crashed. After I got over the shock, I plastered a smile on my face and carefully got up, fervently praying I hadn’t left a puddle or cracks in the concrete where I had fallen. My oldest zoomed up, “Are you alright, Mom?!?!?” I laughed and said, “I’m fine! I’m fine! It’s just been a while since I’ve skated.” And off he went, semi-reassured his mother did not need an ambulance.

I caught up to my younger son, who was head-down with his death-grip, diligently concentrating on making forward progress and unfazed by the near disaster of my crash. I said, “Hey bud, I’m going to the bathroom, you okay by yourself for a bit?” He nodded and shuffled off.

I finally made it to the bathroom to check out the damage. Luckily I was alone and could navigate the stall in solitary humiliation. “Why don’t they have handicap bars in these things???” I thought. I assessed the damage and it wasn’t too bad. “Okay. Brush yourself off and get back out there. You can do it!” I scooted out of the bathroom and made my way back toward the rink. Suddenly my feet were over my head, I was on my back and I saw my life flash before my eyes. I somehow managed to get up with a smile on my face and stood there wobbly legged. My son and another girl came flying up, “Are you OKAY?!? You got up smiling, but if that had happened to me, I would have been CRYING!” the darling girl said with deep concern. I assured her I was just fine and thanked her for checking on me.

You’re probably wondering why only people aged 10 and under showed any concern. Well, I have thoughts on this. One, the adults were too busy snarfing down the left over birthday cake and pizza left by their party-going kids to even notice my personal train-wreck. Or two, they were too stunned at the ridiculousness of my horror-show that they didn’t know what to do. I’m hoping for the former, but am going to check YouTube shortly to see if someone caught it on video and it’s gone viral.

Luckily the boys were ready for a break, and I admitted defeat and carefully made my way to turn in my skates before I went and bought them a snack. My youngest called it a day, mooched some quarters off me for video games and my oldest went off to skate some more. I sat at the table and texted my wonderful neighbor who is a nurse practitioner. “Uhh…how do you tell the difference between a sprained and a broken wrist? Umm…Asking for a friend.” She quickly responded that it was hard to tell, as they have a lot of the same symptoms and asked what had happened. I told her and she said, “Oh. Well, you’ll probably want to get that x-rayed.” Awesome. When I had fallen the second time, I landed hard on my wrist and palm to catch myself and it was still really hurting and was starting to swell. It was hard to touch my thumb to my finger tips and I was feeling a little nauseous. Luckily the boys were ready to go home at this point and we staggered out to the car. It was a quiet ride home, as I think they knew better than to poke the bear and start fighting.

Once home, I looked and it had started to bruise. I iced it and took some Alleve and plopped my sore body on the couch. After about 45 minutes, it wasn’t feeling much better, and I told my husband I was going to get it over with and go to the ER to get it checked out. “Hey. At least I’ll get out of doing bedtime, this way.” I thought.

Luckily the ER wasn’t very busy and I got checked right in. “Date of birth?” the guy behind the desk asked me. I told him. “Wait. What year??” he asked. “1972. Yeah. It’s been awhile.” This sent the person next to him into gales of laughter, and he sheepishly apologized and told me to go have a seat.

Once the nurse took me back to a room, he asked me how I had injured my hand. I sullenly responded, “I thought I’d be cool and take my kids roller skating.” He looked up from his typing, “Roller skating?” I figured he thought I was as big an idiot as I thought I was. “Do they even have roller rinks anymore?!” I assured him that oh, yes. They do.

The doctor soon came in and examined me, keeping his thoughts of my stupidity to himself. They took some x-rays and he finally came back. “The radiologist and I looked at it and it’s not broken. It’s just a bone bruise. I can wrap it for you and you can continue to ice it and take Ibuprofen.” Basically, “You have a boo boo, lady. Why don’t you grab a sucker on the way out?” So off I slunk back home. Worse yet, I didn’t even get out of doing bedtime.

So moral of the story: as you get old, know your limitations. Cockiness will screw you every time. And next time I see a commercial for Poise Pads, I think I’ll pay a little closer attention.

 

Imminent Doom

I know it’s coming. I’m trying really hard to pretend that it’s not and am hoping, “maybe this year they’ll forget.” In my heart of hearts, I know they won’t. So now I’m just waiting to hear, “Mom? When can we start decorating the house and baking Christmas cookies?”

[shudder]

Don’t get me wrong. I do like making our home beautiful for the season, filling the house with smells of cinnamon and yuletide deliciousness. But not with my kids. Yeah. I know. I’m supposed to love every minute of it because it’s supposed to go like this:

idead decorating

Scene: Beautifully lit tree set up, awaiting to be adorned with memory-filled ornaments. All of the regular every-day crap…err…decor…is neatly packed away so festive santas, stockings and miles of garland can be whimsically and tastefully displayed. A spotless kitchen awaits trays and trays of perfect cookies to be created. Festive Christmas music is playing in the background, while 5 cups of steaming hot cocoa are at the ready. The house is brimming with love, joy and good cheer.

 

Enter family: Dad happily carries up totes of neatly packed Christmas ornaments and decorations from the basement; children anxiously yet patiently await to begin the festivities; Mom finishes putting together a delightful tray of healthy pre-Christmas goodies to munch on whilst merry-making. Ornaments are lovingly unpacked and hung with care, while memories of when they were made or received are gleefully shared. Other decorations are carefully unpacked and beautifully displayed. Hanging the garland is the finishing touch on this scene of holiday perfection.

 

ideal baking

Commence Baking: Mom gets out the ingredients and bowls to create a wide variety of sweet treats and family favorites. Children diligently wash their hands and dutifully await instruction. Turns are taken, spills cleaned, laughter fills the kitchen. Soon the house smells like the essence of all things Christmas. After all the cookies are cooled and decorated, the kitchen cleaned, the family sits down with a tray of their delights and glasses of milk. The love of the forthcoming Christ child fills everyone’s hearts.

[Christmas music comes to screeching halt.]

Ummm. No. Never in a million years would this EVER happen in our house. Here’s the reality of how it will probably go:

Scene: Tree mostly set-up with a third of the lights working. Dad is on a crazed mission to get every. last. bulb. lit. supported by lots of muttering of profanity under his breath, with an occasional, “Santa can kiss my ass!” thrown in for good measure. Boys are taking it upon themselves to aggressively haul every single decoration up from the basement, loud crashes and dragging sounds emerge from below. Mom is yelling downstairs, “will you two just WAIT, please?!?!?!” More crashing sounds, but this time coming from daughter, who is trying to climb now half lit tree.

Boys have finally drug everything upstairs and begin to rummage through all the boxes, bubble wrap and organization be damned, and start “decorating” with blind enthusiasm until family room looks like it was attacked by drunken elves. Dad finally has tree lit, plops down in his chair, remote and electronic devices in hand, and tunes in first football game he can find. His job here is done, thank you very much. Kids have now found ornaments: boys are fighting over who made which one, oldest one relegating all younger’s “ugly” ones to the back of the tree so his can have center stage. Meanwhile dear daughter has found the extra fragile ones and is trying to see if they bounce. They do not. Mom starts yelling, Dad starts making up weird words to Christmas songs (none of which are complementary) and singing off key just to piss Mom off. It works.

Mom gives up and heads out to kitchen to throw her frustration into baking. Kids catch wind of this and follow hot on her heels, demanding they get to help. Loud, defeated sigh along with muttering of, “goddamnit!” escapes her lips. Fine. Arguing starts over which kind we’re making first, who gets to measure/crack eggs/stir/mix first. (The real goal here is to see who gets to make Mom completely lose her shit first.) “Where are the Hershey Kisses for the peanut butter cookies?” — pan over to daughter sitting in the corner, piles of colorful foil surround her, brown circle around mouth. Check that one off the list.

Then it happens. A chorus of, “Let’s make cut-out cookies!” is chanted by all three. Mom’s blood runs cold and defeated sigh escapes once again. “How could it get worse?” she thinks. Oh just you wait, Mommy dearest. Rolling pin duels, rolling butt massages and “log rolling” around the kitchen starts. Dear daughter has dumped entire bin of cookie cutters out in middle of floor and is practicing her cut-outs on the hardwood. Middle child declares, “you need to flour your work surface before you roll the dough.” Mom is amazingly swift and swoops in and grabs the flour canister before complete bedlam starts. Finally deformed snowmen, freakish santas and three-legged reindeer emerge, as if they’d been exposed to large amounts of radiation. Now begins the cookie decorating. Frosting dripping. Sprinkles flying, getting ground into every crevice of the floor.

messy baking

Mom staggers out of the kitchen to give Dad evil death glare, only to find him still watching game, this time with large plate of Snowball Cookies (his favorite) sitting next to him. “What?” he says, powder sugar escaping his mouth in a puff of white. Every swear word plus a few new ones are said by Mom as she stomps back into the kitchen, only to discover every cookie has a bite out of it or are ground into the garland, which has been strung all over as if it were toilet paper.

At this point, I don’t know what happens next, because I will probably have completely exploded into a million pieces, only to be ground into the floor along with the sprinkles.

So forgive me if I’m not super excited to involve my children in decorating and baking and merry-making. And if I see pictures on Facebook of children in aprons, beatifically smiling with trays of perfect Christmas cookies, captioned, “we had so much fun making cookies for the homeless today!” — whomever posted it is getting punched in the throat. You’ve been warned.