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Category Archives: Every Day Scoops

Meet Prince Charming

“I did not eat the chocolate!” My five year old insists, brown smudges decorating his face and hands.

“Are you sure?” I question, my eyes pointing at his conscience, trying to pierce his resolve.

His smile is wide; little white baby teeth dirty with his lie.

“I’m totally sure, mom. Totally!” He brings his face of evidence near mine and even though he smells delicious and looks delicious, I push him back a little. I don’t want chocolate on my shirt. It’s only 8am. I try to wait until at least 9am, once I am out of the house and in public to get stained.

His mouth is sticking to his story but his eyes, as always, twinkle with mischief. They speak the truth. He knows I know. If he knew how to wink, he would.

“So, how did you get all that chocolate on your face,” I ask.

“What chocolate, mommy?” He laughs. “There’s no chocolate on my face.”

“What about your hands.” I say. “What’s that?”

He looks down at the brown stains and jumps up and down with uncontrollable glee. “That’s dirt mommy. I’m very dirty.”

“Well that’s true at least.” I nod. “Now go take your dirty hands into the bathroom and wash them.”

He flashes a smile like Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise before he sleeps with Thelma and steals all her money, then skips away.

I know the smile well. His two older brothers share the same gift.

Charm.

In less than 10 seconds, he’s back. “Look, I washed my hands.” He says and shoves wet little fingers, still smudged with chocolate in front me to drip on my pants.

“Great.” I say, getting up to retrieve a paper towel. “I think you forgot to dry them.”

He stands in front of me waiting, a smile playing on his lips.

“Yes?” I ask, amused.

“I found something.”

Immediately my brow arches. “Really?”

He runs off, his voice trailing behind him, “And I didn’t take it from your bag.”

He returns with a dollar bill.

“Hmm. Where did you get that?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” He sings, “But I didn’t take it from your bag.”

“That’s good because if I check and see it’s missing, I might think you took it and then you’d be in big trouble.”

A furrow crosses his brow.

“I’ll be right back.” He says and runs off again.

I wash the dishes while I wait, and wonder what was in that stolen contraband he ate this morning.

“I’m hungry.” he says when he returns.

“Well, you didn’t have breakfast. Want cereal?”

“Nope.”

“Eggs.”

“Nope.”

“Pancakes?”

“I want these!” He produces two chocolates from his Halloween bag.

Of course.

“Pleaseeee! I’ll have them with pancakes, eggs and cereal, and then I totally won’t have any more snacks today.” He oversells his smile, his eyes glinting with delight. I can only shake my head, enchanted.

Watch out girls.

I can tell, he's got you already.

I can tell, he’s got you already.

Shut Up. Yep, that’s what I said.

I see the moment so clearly; all of us walking into the restaurant, my friend bickering back and forth with her snarky, then 11 year-old son, her, ultimately, telling him to shut up.

I remember how totally and completely horrified I was. I had babies at the time; sweet little yum yums. I could never imagine speaking to them that way, and I’m sure my judgment showed.

My friend shot me a stern look of reproach. “Just wait.” She warned. “You’ll do it too.”

I nodded, embarrassed for all of us, but I didn’t believe her. We were different, I told myself. I would never. And I didn’t, until the day I did.

I was past the point of frustration and on to exasperation when I snapped at my squabbling 8 and 10 year-old. It just came out. I don’t know how, and my hand quickly flew to my mouth in shame.

They looked at me, momentarily confused, all speech halted.

“Mommy, you said, shut up.” They both giggled.

“I know, I know. I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry.” Bad mommy. Bad, bad mommy.

“You always tell us never to say that.” More giggling.

It’s true. I think saying ‘shut up’ is worse than cursing. My kids regularly amuse themselves by dropping something and loudly exclaiming, “Damn it!” The expression of frustration doesn’t really bother me.  Of course, I don’t encourage it, but it’s those words and phrases with intention to hurt that make me cringe. Words like, “I don’t like you.” Or “You’re stupid.”

Or, “Shut up.”

How did I just say that?

Well, they were obviously driving me insane and I wanted them to shut up. Sigh.

Back at the beginning of my mommy career, I sat quietly on my horse with my perfect child, looking down at the moms of children running wild through the playground, or climbing on top of carts in the supermarket, or manipulating a second or third oreo. Tsk Tsk.

Until all of a sudden, I did things I swore I’d never do like: let my child sleep in my bed, reduce me to tears in Target, make me want to throw them out a window, bribe them with sugar and TV so I could talk on the phone, make three different meals each night, or just give up and give a bowl of cereal, hide in the bathroom, buy expensive gadgets or iPhones…

Well, ha ha ha on me. Because it’s easy to judge, when it’s not your life in the midst of mental meltdown.

While I do my best to exhibit respectful behavior and make the right choices, sometimes I don’t do as I intend, and I learned long ago, never to say never.

Telling them to shut up is certainly not on my highlight reel, but I guess, it happens. Or, it happened. Hopefully, it won’t again. But it might.

I can just hear my friend saying, I told you so. And while I’d like to tell her to shut up, I try not to say those kind of things.

Damn it.

Clearly not winning any parenting awards over here.

Clearly not winning any parenting awards over here.

 

 

 

 

Want Smiles?

After much debate, my husband and I decided that it was time to give up Smiles, our beloved, pet bearded dragon.

We brought Smiles into our family about a year and a half ago, after some exhausting pleading from our then, 10 year-old son.  When we took him home in his little plastic container, like the kind you get from takeout Chinese with air holes popped in the top, he was just a baby, no bigger than a green bean.

As we settled him into his new tank, finding a nice stick for him to perch on and a rock for him to laze, we fell in love. Or at least my husband and I did; unfortunately my son quickly tired of the huge responsibility of acknowledging him.  What? How did that happen? Weren’t you going to “die” without him?

Parents are such fools.

So day in and day out, I made his little salads and picked up crickets for some crunchy protein. My husband cleaned his tank when necessary, and took him out to wander our living room. But soon it became more of a job, neither of us wanted. Making sure the children stayed alive was responsibility enough.

So we decided to find a family to adopt him and I put a notice on the parent board for our community.

“Friendly bearded dragon looking for a good home. Free with tank and accessories for a family who will love him.”

Come on, you know you want me.

Come on, you know you want me.

I quickly received about five responses. I mean, really, who could resist that face?

One I discarded almost immediately. I didn’t like the presumptuous tone of the responder “We will take him. When can we pick him up?”

Apparently they didn’t realize this was an adoption. There was an interview process and papers to go over with the attorney, uh, my husband, the attorney.

Two other families also didn’t make the cut. I rejected one for crimes against the English language; for using the word ‘there’ instead of ‘they’re’. As in, “We think there so cute.”

We didn’t raise no illiterate lizard, so clearly they were out.

The other family asserted with strange pride that they already housed a turtle, dog, cat, hamster, fish and snake. Uh, if I wanted to give him to a pet store, I would have.

That left us with a nice sounding teacher with kids, and a family who  wanted to give Smiles to their 10 year-old son who had been pining for one, as a birthday present. Hmm did they say a 10 year-old?

We went with the teacher family because they responded first, and his email trail back and forth with his wife begging her, was extremely cute.  Oh yeah, I went in for the background check.

We set up a time, and as we waited for him to arrive, my husband and I skittered down memory lane with Smiles.

Remember when we lost him outside in the bushes?

Remember when he fell asleep next to the couch, his body flattened to the floor and we thought he was dead?

Remember when we bought that little leash and tried walking him?

Stop. No you stop. No you.

Stop it. No you stop. No, you.

Oh good times. So many smiles, Smiles.

When the teacher arrived to take him away, I saw by the alpha stance of my husband, chest out, dragon hanging, that he was ready to give him the third degree.

smiles bruce“So you’re leaving him in your classroom, and not your home?”

“He’s social, will he have opportunity to be taken out?”

“You’re going to leave him all weekend alone?”

The man stuttered and backpedaled and in the end, my husband deemed him unfit for adoption, and he cowered off empty handed.

Alone, my husband patted Smiles on the head and cooed, “I’m not going to let just anyone take you.”

You don’t mess with a man and his lizard.

No surprise, we’re still looking for the ‘right’ family.

Did I mention, he rocks at hide and seek?

Did I mention he rocks at hide and seek?

When do I get to have my tantrum?

He was 16 months when he stood with me in the kitchen, asking for an “Ookie.”

“No cookies now. After dinner. Okay?”  I said and away he toddled.

A moment later I found him on the floor in the hall, writhing and screaming. Immediately, I was alarmed. What was happening? Should I call a doctor? What was he doing?

I bent down. “Baby? What’s the matter? Are you okay? Baby?”

Still squirming like Linda Blair from the Exorcist, he wailed, “Wan ookie!!”

Huh? Was this a tantrum? It was my first. My older son had never had one. I watched with fascination.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. This was the same child who when I tried sleep training, absolutely trained me. I didn’t think a seven month old could cry that long and continuously. Ultimately, I spent the next two years sitting at the base of his crib every night until he fell asleep. Well trained, but not exactly what I was going for.

When we potty trained, it was the same business. Forget the stickers or M&M’s. No bribery, reason or compromise could make him go. Finally, I threw my hands in the air and gave up. The next day, he decided he was ready and went on his own.

Now eight years-old, he is my most charming, social and independent child. Yet he is still a spit fire, who has spent the last seven years mastering his button pushing technique. He no longer writhes on the floor, now his tantrums are much more manipulative and exhausting.

Yesterday, when we were about to leave, he decided that he didn’t want to go to his brother’s baseball game. While I understood, frankly, he had no choice.

I took a deep breath. “We are going. Please don’t make this difficult.”

Hands over the ears. “Lalalalala! I can’t hear you!”

I hate when he does that.

“Your friends will be there.” I said nicely, through gritted teeth.

“I’M NOT GOING!”

“I’m going to have to take away your iTouch.”

“Good! Take it! I don’t want it anyway!”

“Come on!” I practically begged.

He went to hide behind a chair. “NO! You can’t make me!”

That was it. I could make him and sadly, I showed him how, by dragging him by the arm into the car.

His little body felt even lighter than the fifty pounds it was. He screamed the whole time and embarrassingly, I screamed back.

Once in the car, I took deep breaths. I was so angry, I couldn’t speak. I was mad at him and at myself. He was making me a bad parent, I thought spitefully.

Why not blame the eight year-old?

“Baby,” I said calmly. “None of that was okay. I’m sorry I lost my temper.”

He just shrugged. “Okay, me too.” Now that he was in the car, the drama was over. “When do you think I can get my iTouch back?” he asked sweetly.

He can turn off as quick as he turns it on. I’ll give him that.

He has always been unbreakable, but every so often it would nice if he could just give me a break.

I know it's hard to believe.

I know it’s hard to believe.

I lost my edge, but kept my fingers.

When I got the email from a friend telling me she had given my name to this college girl who got credit for coming to my house to give a presentation, I thought I was doing someone a favor for school. So, even though it was annoying and it took up a bunch of time I didn’t have, I met with her.

As soon as she started her presentation, I realized I had been suckered. Or, I don’t read my emails carefully enough. Yes, she was a college student, but this was a job, selling high end cutlery door to door through recommendation. Think Avon lady with a knife.

I didn’t want to buy anything, but I could tell I was in trouble. First off, I’m a people pleaser. Second, I’m an idiot and third, I actually needed knives.

She started her schpeel and demo, cutting through a thick rope easily. Before she pulled out the aluminum can, I cut her off. “Listen, I know they’re good knives. Just tell me how much.”

Very smoothly, she rattled off numbers higher than my couch and dining room table combined. I maintained poker face. Oh yeah, I’d consider buying a set knives for a couple of grand. No problem. Was it the leftover cereal bowls and frozen pancakes on the table that gave you the impression I was a top chef?

Instead of showing her the door, I bought four knives for about $250. I know. What was wrong with me? Still, I justified that I needed knives, these were good ones and I’d never buy another knife as long as I lived.

Quickly, I realized how short that would be if I wasn’t careful.

The first time, I pulled a knife from its sheath to inspect it, I thought it looked pretty… dangerous. I turned it over in my hand, and when I looked down again my finger was oozing blood. What? I didn’t even feel anything. Crap.knives

The second time, I pulled out a knife, I just wanted to make a small tear in a plastic bag I was having trouble opening. This time, I felt it touch my finger, and knew without looking that the bag wasn’t the only thing with a tear. Yup. Gaping, gushing wound.

Bandaged on two fingers, I now assessed the knives skeptically. When my oldest asked for a sliced apple, I stared them down and walked on by. When my middle wanted his sandwich cut, again, I eyed my expensive cutlery but passed it up.

I was afraid of them.

My aunt was third to try a knife. Poor woman made the mistake of wanting a bagel. I said, “I have a serrated knife but it’s verrrrry sharp.”

“Don’t worry.” She said, a little too cavalierly.

“Seriously,” I warned. “Be careful.”

One minute later her finger was gushing. “The knife just touched me.” She said in disbelief.

The next day, I ran into a friend at the supermarket. “What happened to you?” She asked looking at my bandaged fingers.

“New knives.” I said sadly.

“Cutco?” She asked, naming the brand.

“OMG Yes! How did you know?”

She held up a hand with a finger bandaged. “Sliced the top right off. It’s just sort of growing back.”

Those knives were going back immediately.

I may have dull knives, but I am a sharp girl… who likes fingers.

Buh bye, instruments of death.

My children are perfect, and always will be.

My children are perfect.

Right now, one is stomping up the stairs in a fit of temper. I asked him to go to his room to cool off, but mid-way, he has decided not to give me that satisfaction.

“You want me to go to my room?” He huffs. “Then I think I’ll stay right here!”

So now he’s back, fuming. His big, green eyes bright with insult.

“So, stay right here.” I say agreeably, refusing to be drawn into his tantrum.

“Oh, you want me to stay here? Then I’m going to my room!” He yells and stomps back up the stairs.

I keep my smile on the inside, but little bits of it come out in the upturn of my mouth.

The minute he is gone from the room, my little one, five now, not really so little, jumps in front of me, pulling on my arm, dancing around me annoyingly. “Mama! I want you to play legos with me. Now! Can we play now?”

He’s biting the neckline of his shirt, exactly like I’ve asked him not to do a thousand times. I don’t want to play legos, but his little face is insistent. He is desperate to play, clenching the shirt tightly between his teeth, squinting his eyes real hard, hoping his wish will be answered, that I will not say, “wait” for the third time, that I will just play, which I do, but not without a heavy sigh. Did I mention I really don’t want to play?

My oldest son bounds in like a puppy. “Mommy? Can you get me a snack?” I should tell him to get it himself.

He’s eleven, but I’m all too happy to be released from lego prison. Besides, he may be my oldest but he’s my least responsible; more likely than my five year-old to spill his cup of water or rip open a bag of pretzels to drop right to the floor like pick-up sticks. Right now, I’m trying not to notice that his tee shirt is both inside out and backwards.

I come back to find him happily engaged with my youngest. They are soaring their creations around each other, complete with battle sound effects. I place the pretzels and drink down, and hear my middle son storming down the stairs. He pauses when we make eye contact, just long enough to growl at me.

These three boys, so different, physically, emotionally, developmentally; each with their strengths and weakness, yet, there are moments I am blown away by their absolute perfection; their eyes full of hope, their growing psyches, their innocence and their honesty, their flawless youth.

They are not tainted by the world, have not suffered crushing rejections and disappointment. They have not been stripped of their pride, had to learn real life lessons, had their dreams shattered around them. Their lives are open, their paths, a journey and an adventure. They are beautiful in their possibility and their promise.

They are as children should be. Perfect. Untainted. And I try not to get emotional, when I realize the inevitable; that they will grow, and become people. People with baggage. It breaks my heart a little, but then I remember, they will always be perfect, because they will always be my babies.

Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.  Poo. Poo. Poo.

Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.
Poo. Poo. Poo.

I go for a run. Or so I thought.

We had so many things going on that day, but I figured I’d squeeze in a couple of miles just to kick the day off right. When my husband gave the official eye roll of agreement, I grabbed my Ziploc bag with a cinnamon mint and my cell and was off and running.

phone in bag

Trot, trot, trot. I was cruising along, minding my own mind, trying to decide whether I should wear my navy and cream maxi dress or capris with this cutesy new top my mom just bought me – yes, deep thoughts, people – when my Runkeeper app announced in that warm, automated bank teller voice, “Five minutes, .5 miles with an average pace of 10 minutes 2 seconds per mile.”*

I wasn’t really paying attention because a 10 minute mile for today’s run was perfect. Until I turned the corner and almost collided with a woman I sort of know from either baseball or elementary school or possibly from the neighborhood. She could be a friend of a friend. I don’t know, but I knew her and she knew me and we said hello as she passed me by.

I followed her butt from a car length or so behind and started racing her in my head. I sped up a little, then worried that we’d have this awkward moment where we were running side by side. I’ll just cross the street if that happens, I told myself. I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable.

Congratulating myself on this brilliant idea, I realized that in the minutes that had passed I was no closer to catching her than I was before. Hmm. Might have to speed up a bit more. Now I’m panting, still waiting for that moment where – oh, ha ha, here we are together – but I had made zero progress.

WTF?! I did a self-confidence check. I’m in decent shape. I’m pretty competitive. I’m not a speed demon, but I’m no slack. She didn’t even look like she was running hard, while I imagine a photo of me would reveal someone who looked like they needed medical attention.

At that moment, Runkeeper announced, “15 minutes, 1.75 miles, with an average pace of 9 minutes 17 seconds per mile.*” Well, that’s certainly faster. Yet, I’m still at least a car length – if not two – behind her.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, she trips.

I watched her fall to the ground and do a kind of half roll. My mouth dropped open, and I am definitely not thinking that this is the moment I catch up to her. I am going to make sure she is okay. I get a little closer and yell, “Are you okay?” but before I reach her, she is back up and on the move again, brushing herself off as she goes.

She doesn’t even turn around, but gives me a little half wave in acknowledgment. Within two minutes, we are back at our regular spots, her striding ahead, me lagging behind.

I’m pissed – no biggie, just a pelvic wall thing from the babies – and I’m frustrated. All my dormant competitive instincts now come alive. Oh yeah, let’s take it up a notch.

I do gain a little ground, but quickly realize as I huff and puff that I am not going to blow this house down. Besides, I wonder, what would I do if I actually caught her? I could probably only match her pace for about a minute, before giving some ridiculous little wave of triumph and slowly falling back to my rightful place behind her.

No. I was humiliated enough. I slowed and followed her swaying short shorts until I hit my block and turned.  She, of course, continued on, forever in front of me, just out of reach.

When I got home, Runkeeper clocked my fastest mile at 8:27. Not bad. I probably should run with her more often.

photo (1)

*Numbers are approximately accurate, just in case you’re checking my math. 😉