parenting

Parenting Win?

It’s Spring Break and we’re on a staycation. Kealoha has to work and the kids’ biodad is off in Sedona with his wife. Their step-siblings are off on a cruise with their dad and their friends have been whisked away by very wealthy parents to Disney World, California, Italy, and I’m pretty sure someone is flying in a private jet to an island somewhere. (This is what happens when your kids go to East Grand Rapids.) I told my kids if they want an island, build one out of Legos and take a bath. I’ve been trying to do fun things with the kids to pass the time. First, I gave them a ball of cheese and said that they could watch the mold grow on it. It would be hours of entertainment! HOURS! My daughter glared at me, popped the cheese ball in her mouth and made that idea disappear.

Cheese balls! Hours of entertainment!

Plan two. We took them to the Van Andel Museum to see the dinosaur and Lego exhibits. We leaned back in the planetarium and learned about constellations from a very sweet and energetic college-aged student.

Yesterday, I decided to take them to a hotel for the night. I figured if they fell asleep in the car, I’d tell them we were really in Florida. Alas, they didn’t fall asleep during the ten-minute drive, so I lost out on that. We got to the hotel, they put on their suits and spent the next four hours in the pool while I read The Maze Runner.

Kids seem to lack any sort of fear with other people. They see another kid, they walk up to them and start playing. They don’t even bother with names. They just move right on to insta-play. One of the kids swam over to me. Here is what she said while wearing goggles and bobbing in the water:

“That’s my sister over there. She’s being a real you-know-what and all pretending she doesn’t know me.”

“She’s talking to those boys?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“Well, that’s why. When they’re gone, you’ll be friends again.”

“I’m twelve and she’s seventeen.”

“That’s a big age difference. It’ll get better as you get older. You’ll probably like each other when you’re in your twenties.” (The girl seemed to need some comfort. I was trying.)

The girl continued: “We’re five years apart. My mom didn’t even know I was going to happen until she went to get her tubes tied and the doctor said that he wouldn’t do it because there was a baby in there and it was too late so she had to have me.”

I blinked a couple of times. Wiped the sweat from my brow. “Uhh…well…I guess that makes you pretty lucky then. To have, uhm, made…it…here.”

Luckily the kids started fighting then and I could go intervene.

That night, Kealoha joined us for dinner and we went for Mexican food. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a comic book store, where my son Franz immediately fell in love with a stuffed sperm. He thought it was hilarious. “I can have my very own pet sperm!” he cried, squeezing Spermy close to his heart.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 9.05.02 AM

Kealoha said: “Kid, you’ve already got plenty of pet sperm.”

Actually, I’m not sure he said that, but I sorta wish he did.

We compromised and Franz chose a friendly stuffed red blood cell.

Kealoha had to go home (work and all) and I shuffled with the kids back to the hotel for another two-hour swim. At night we snuggled in to watch TV. All we could find was Family Guy. I remember watching that and finding it really funny, so I gave them the thumbs up.

It ended up being an episode where the dad wins a golf excursion with OJ Simpson. I couldn’t stop the episode because, well, it was awfully funny, the kids were laughing, and I was just too tired to worry about if this was an appropriate thing to watch. There was a line where they called a woman a stupid beaver and I gasped. Then the camera panned to show an actual beaver who was very offended being called stupid. We all laughed and then high-fived.

 

Today it’s Meijer Gardens, walking outside, and me telling the kids to use their imagination or they’ll send me to the crazy house. I’m not quite sure if this staycation is a Parenting WIN but maybe it’s a Parenting GOOD-ENOUGH.

I’m okay with that.

Misadventures In Parenting: The Talent Show

The Sound of Music Our kids had the annual Breton’s Got Talent show, which meant we inhaled dinner and rushed to the school where we would sit for two hours as two hundred kids plodded through piano songs, four different dance versions of Katy Perry’s ROAR, two acts singing “Call Me Maybe” and making everyone uncomfortable, and boys playing basketball while wearing sunglasses and 1970s porn-style mustaches. We’re talking HIGH entertainment here.

Kealoha and I sat on the hard wooden bleachers waiting for the show to start. Moxie was singing “Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars and Franz was doing a dance number with his 3rd grade class. I’m pretty sure they were going to twerk and I felt mild chafing at the thought.

We watched the kids file in. Here is our brief conversation:

ME: Oh my gosh! They’re wearing lederhosen! You know what that means!

KEALOHA: God, no.

ME: The Sound of Music! Score! Which reminds me, I want you to record something. On December 5th there’s a live version of The Sound of Music and it’s either gonna be mildly entertaining or colossally bad. It stars Carrie Underwood and the dude from True Blood who impregnated the girl from The X-Men.

KEALOHA: I’ll record it but I’m not watching it with you.

ME: Aw, come on! Why not! It’s good for you.

KEALOHA: I’ve made it this far in my life without ever seeing The Sound Of Music and I don’t want to break that streak.

ME: I’ll sing you the Billy Goat song.

KEALOHA: No.

ME: Have I ever done my Julie Andrews impression for you?

KEALOHA: Yes.

ME: I did? Really?

KEALOHA: Yes.

ME: Was I drunk?

KEALOHA: No. You did it for the kids to annoy them.

ME: Oh! Okay. Then I haven’t done it for you PROPERLY.

KEALOHA: When I listen to The Sound Of Music, it’s the only time I actually root for the Nazis.

(PAUSE)

(PAUSE)

ME: If there is a hell, mister, you have a one-way-ticket.

Then the lights dimmed and we hunkered down to endure the off-key singing, the amazingly anti-rhythmic clapping of the audience, an array of hula-hoopers, and a dramatic sister-dance that included a long blue scarf and awkward twirling.

It was truly wonderful.

Moxie and the Case of the Missing Underwear

Magnifying-glassSometimes, as a mom, you have to become a detective, questioning your child boldly, using techniques that would rival any interrogation scene in Castle or Law & Order. Here is where I demonstrate those skills. July 30, 9:03PM

CHARACTERS:

Moxie: 7 year-old, blonde girl, wiggles a lot, loves fairies and animals, wants a hedgehog for a pet, hates pants.

Me: 40 year-old, multi-colored hair woman, too tired to wiggle, loves cooking and cats, has a stuffed buffalo next to her bed, hates pants.

SCENE: ME, in bed, about to fall asleep. Sound of footsteps. MOXIE approaches bed, wearing a nightgown with Jurassic-sized flowers on it.

MOXIE: Can I cuddle with you?

ME: Okay. Just for a little bit.

MOXIE: I just want to warn you, though, that I’m not wearing any underwear.

ME: Uh, okay. What happened?

MOXIE: They fell off.

ME: Your underwear fell off.

MOXIE: Yes.

ME: Wait. What? You mean, you were wearing underwear and they just randomly fell off?

MOXIE: Well, I was wiggling a lot.

ME: So what you’re saying here is that you took your underwear off.

MOXIE: Yes.

ME: That’s okay. I can deal with that. Come here and cuddle.

CASE CLOSED.

Adventures in Momming: The Beard Episode

The kids have been fighting a lot. I shouldn’t be surprised. They’re six and seven, girl and a boy, extrovert and introvert…and they’ve been stuck in the house together and with each other nearly every moment all summer long. So when Simone was crying on the swingset yesterday, I went outside to referee yet again. I was prepared with “Louis, stop touching/tasering/poking/teasing her.” I was not prepared for what I got.

Simone had big tears streaming down her face, and took deep cry-breaths. (She's very cute even crying.) She sat on the swing with her smirking brother next to her. I wanted to scoop her up and hug her, but it WAS possible that she’d kicked him first and then he called her something, so I had to investigate first, dole out some kind of punishment, and then comfort.

Me: Okay, what happened?

Simone: (cry cry choke gasp cry and then:) Louis is imagining me with a BEARD!

Simone then followed that little statement with HUGE crying while I…stood there, trying desperately not to laugh because all of a sudden I was imagining her with a beard. She’d look like a dwarf dressed up for Snow White. Her beard would be strawberry blonde and long. She’d HATE having a beard. She’d keep scratching it. Louis with a beard would probably look like Freud.

I TRIED to stop imagining it and be all Mom Dictator.

But, I mean, honestly, how are you supposed to chastise someone for 1) Using their imagination and 2) Imagining a beard on a cute 6-year-old girl? There’s a little bit of evil-brother-genius in that.

I instantly imagined me dealing with this:

ME: Louis, stop imagining your sister with a beard.

LOUIS: Fine.

SIMONE: He’s still imagining it!

LOUIS: Am not.

SIMONE: You are too!

LOUIS: So what.

ME: Louis, stop imagining a beard on your sister right now or I’ll imagine you without legs.

I mean, this could not happen.

So I did what any other parent with a strong sense of humor and appreciation for the surreal would do. I said “Stop It” and then quickly walked into the house where I told Kealoha all abut it, stopped myself from laughing, grabbed something to drink, and then glanced at the calendar. School for them starts in one week.

One more week. We can do this.

A Philosophical Discussion Between Me and the Blunder Kids

Usually, my mom-time is spent saying things like “Stop it! Do not touch each other! You now need to sit at least fifteen feet away from each other. What’s fifteen feet? It’s a lot. It’s like the size of a giant serpent. I will turn into a giant serpent if you two don’t stop touching each other and fighting. I’ve had enough. Enough. ENOUGH!” In fact, I think I said that exact thing yesterday after my daughter’s twelfth tantrum to which Louis (6) said: “Mom, so, I believe that everyone has good in them, even you do when you’re having a really bad day. Somewhere deep, deep inside you is something good.”

Uh…(That's almost a direct quote from something I told Louis earlier when he asked if I believed in God.)

It was hot yesterday and the kids took turns throwing gigantic meltdowns. First, I had to literally drag Louis to his summer camp at Meijer Gardens. I dragged him to the car, we were rear-ended on the way to Meijer Garden (no damage), then I dragged Louis across the parking lot to check him in, he took off running, I ran after him, he hit my cell phone as I tried to call his dad, it went flying in pieces, then I dragged him back to the check in and he cried for about an hour until I was able to leave.

That’s an example of tantrum number one. There were eleven more that followed throughout out the day. (I had one of them.)

On the way to swimming lessons, we had the following conversation:

 

LOUIS: So, Ma, do you believe in ghosts?

SIMONE: I don’t believe in ghosts. I do believe in fairies but NOT ghosts!

LOUIS: I’m asking Mom.

ME: Well, I don’t really believe in ghosts. But sometimes I pretend to believe in them because it makes ghost stories better.

LOUIS: What about aliens?

ME: Full stop. 100%. I totally believe in them. I mean, the universe is so huge that to think that there’s no other life forms out there is just ridiculous to me.

LOUIS: Yeah! Me too. My friend Beck and me? We’ve talked about this and we think that like thousands and thousands of years ago there was like these aliens? And then there was a bam! explosion and it blew them all up and turned them into meteors and the meteors hit everything and that’s why there’s spots on the moon.

MOM: Huh. I can see that.

SIMONE: Are there alien ghosts, Momma? Do you believe in alien ghosts?

MOM: No. That seems like stretching it a little bit.

SIMONE: I think so too.

 

Then the kids went back to poking each other and screaming and general blood-pressure-raising behavior.

I’m hoping that once all these tantrums are done, we can have more conversations like this. They haven’t yet asked me about my theory on sandwiches or my belief system in Sasquatches. I want to tell them that everything I believe in I learned from Leonard Nemoy’s “In Search Of”.