(As in: everything makes you want to, and your kids do nothing but)

Living it …

corsa kitchenUntil quite recently, I was a full-time television news producer, full-time mom and was losing my mind… full-time.

Ever been so frustrated with those precious little ones you tried so desperately to conceive that you wanted to scream loud enough to make yourself deaf, if only so you could stop hearing them whine, cry and insult you? Ever been so tired, you find yourself in a meeting at work nodding off like a heavy drug user? Ever get sick of people posting nothing but glowing, gloating anecdotes about their perfect lives and angelic children online?

Here’s the truth. Here’s my American dream.

Follow this blog, lovingly named Living The American Scream, for glimpses of life in our suburban Florida home — shared with two insane dogs and filled with regular visits from both the Cuban and Anglo halves of our family.   Throw in a husband with a new business that requires him to travel, leaving me alone with two kids and a computer, embarking on a new journey as a stay at home mom, who knows what tales this blog will tell …

Whether you’re a working mom, an insane suburbanite looking for common misery, or you just find glee in learning of the travails of others, you’re bound to find something in these posts that will catch your interest.  Or at least make you feel better about your life.

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The Land of Shitty Moms

I am starting a petition to rename my local children’s museum The Land of Shitty Moms.

A snit between me and some lousy parent nearly came to fisticuffs today.

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She may have been pregnant or just a regular at World of Beer. Either way, I know I would’ve won.

Yeah, she made me that mad.

The first problem: It’s the week where admission is free with your public library card. Apparently people who enjoy free books also believe in a style of parenting that fosters stealing, hitting and general mayhem.

There wasn’t a single toy my children played with that wasn’t snatched from their hands within seconds.

There wasn’t a span of 5 minutes where they weren’t shoved out of their position in a line.

Their requests for a turn with something, no matter how polite, were met with a child holding onto the coveted item with a death grip, flashing an evil grin that would’ve earned them a role in a teen vampire flick.

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But, no single instance of crappy kid-dom got my dander up like the following:

My kids were playing with giant soft blocks.

They are numbered, intended to be used to create an arch.

My kids are bringing me each number in order to stack them up.

As soon as we got three blocks high, some string-bean with a maniacal Joker grin would rush them like she was part of the defensive line.

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She did it once and I waited patiently for the demon seed’s mother to intervene.

The second time, I said, “No, honey we’re trying to build a tower for an arch.”

The third time, I am looking around like, “Where the f*&k is your parent?”

Now, I’m not a complete asshole.

The first time some kid tries to bulldoze mine or treat them like straight poop, I take a deep breath and assume the parent was busy sneezing or wrangling a second child.

But, when it happens over and over, I am damn sure gonna tell your kid to back the f&*k off. (Obviously, in the gentlest way possible.)

Now, this kid’s mom turned out to be just feet away, watching and doing nothing. (In other words, totally approving of her little shit’s behavior.)

In fact, a few seconds later I overheard her say to her tiny psychopath, “They can’t tell you not to play. The kids’ mom is right there. You go ahead and do what you want.”

‘Do what you want?’

Well, therein lies the problem.

Your kid can’t do what she wants. What she wants is to destroy something other kids were playing with. (In the way it was intended to be played with.)

Next, she’s going to “do what she wants” and smother your newborn to death. But, ‘Go ahead honey! Express yourself.’

Now, as for what I want to do when I hear something like this? Well, it could be misconstrued as a published threat against a potentially pregnant woman.

Now, let me be clear, I do not hold similar grudges against other parents of toy-snatching underage assholes.

There were plenty of babies who grabbed a toy from my kids and I simply smiled and gave the “friendly shrug” to their moms.

If your kid is so little, his main objective is to deep throat that phallic fake fruit or use a felt piece of lettuce to wipe away the evidence of a cold accumulating under his nose, no apology needed.

felt cucumber 010 (Yes, I noticed your son, the one with the gooey drainage traveling like a slow-motion river from nose to mouth and was offended. You took your sick kid to a freakin’ packed children’s museum during free week. Thanks a bunch! But, still… you’re not the mom I’m pissed at.)

As a parent, my job is to watch my child’s every move.

I have to make sure no pervert sneaks them off to a public restroom.

I have to make sure no mentally ill woman who miscarried 3 years ago tries to snatch my kid and pawn them off as her own.

But, mostly my job is to make sure my kids don’t act like dicks to yours. I do a damn good job.

All I ask is that you do the same, because if you don’t, I will take over the role.

Several times today I told a small child that wasn’t my own, “You need to take turns.” “You need to ask for a turn.” “You need to wait in line.”

My head was so hot today, all those moms are just lucky I didn’t throw a “f*&Kwad” at the end of those sentences.

Another brief example:

I was at a free music show event for kids at my local library the other day.

A herd of cackling moms sat in the back and talked the WHOLE time. (Great example ladies!)

Meanwhile, the poor guy performing had to yell at one of their kids over and over to sit down.

At one point, the kid pretty much slapped the guy in the face.

The kid’s mom was still laughing away at whatever-the-f&*k with her pals.

Yeah, you weren’t facing some dire circumstances and were looking for a shoulder to cry on and momentarily lost track of your son in a small room during a public performance.

Well, maybe your kid has special needs.

Wait… in which case, you REALLY should’ve been watching him to make sure he didn’t ruin an entire event for a few dozen kids and physically assault the musician.

Here’s what I’ve realized since deciding to make my full-time job raising two children:

I’ve done a darn good job with limited time for the first few years of their lives and a whole lot of other parents are failing miserably with loads of time and they don’t give a crap.

Welcome to life as a stay at home mom.

Welcome to the Land of Shitty Moms.

My New Life

My life post retirement at age 34:

I get a full night’s sleep.

I’m sure it won’t always be the case.

There will be earaches, nightmares and Alma launching herself head first from the bed like a circus stuntman.

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But, for now, I’m RESTED.

My children wake up slowly. No screaming, crying and face-smacking over which outfit I choose.

They eat real breakfast!! This morning we made blueberry pancakes and banana pancakes. It might seem like no biggie, but as a former working mom, I feel like a stay at home mom rock star!

We’ve read books together, colored together, gone to the library and flown airplanes.

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We’ve also taken the dogs to the vet, gone to the dentist and hit up the Super Target for batteries and dish soap. So glamorous!

I’m still adjusting to the nasty realities of daily life with petulant midgets, I mean small children.

I spend a shocking portion of my day wiping butts. I had no idea how frequently my kids still pooped. It goes in. It comes out. They have straight guts like unpotty trained puppies.

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I still feel my blood pressure skyrocket when my son cries for no good reason: He hates slip-on shoes, Alma got the yellow straw, he can’t find his Ninja Turtle ball.

I envision drop-kicking our dog like I’m going for a field goal when he barks incessantly during naptime.

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Living in Florida, any of our exercise time means sweating bullets, getting back into the car with sweaty pits, bum, upper lip, no more makeup, hair lookin’ like a swim cap.

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Not a good look. Now I know why some moms find it’s easiest to give up on looking cute. I left my cute in a puddle on a playground.

I can’t say I miss grownup conversation, because even that was rare at my former place of employment.

But, my chats with my son about how his member looks like a castle are not very gratifying.

Other mind-numbing topics include: Why we have nipples, how God made dogs, what veins are.

We have also not made it past the stage where it’s cool to count poop. “Mommy, I did two dem!”

So, fish sticks and temper tantrums.

Sweat stains and poo math.

But, I get to watch my son finally color inside the lines.

I watch my daughter kiss my son’s hand to wake him from his nap.

I get to see the countless tiny moments I’ve been missing for nearly five years.

So worth it.

The Death of a Dream, the Birth of Another

I was swallowed by a career and just survived getting shit back out.

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I think it’s safe to say most of us aspired to be something great at some point in our lives.

Career day in elementary school wasn’t a gathering of kids with big dreams of someday being underpaid, under-appreciated, mid-level employees facing brutal criticism and daily disappointment.

Upon graduating from high school, I thought I was making an incredibly sensible decision in abandoning the pipe dreams of being an actress to get a degree in Telecommunications.

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I had a healthy grasp of reality when I graduated from college.

Shit, I didn’t even walk.

I picked up my diploma from an office and started applying to jobs. Hundreds of jobs. Mostly radio jobs, where the salary offered wouldn’t have been enough to survive on without roommates and lots of Top Ramen.

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I had already won a Hearst award, AP Awards and SPJ’s while up against grown men working in radio in the state and I couldn’t even get a gig that paid a fraction of my college loans.

When nothing panned out, I moved in with my mother in Miami and starting working as a bookseller at Barnes and Noble.

Little did I know, that would become my favorite job to date. That’s despite having to wear a ridiculous witch hat on Harry Potter nights.

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Months later, I got my first job as a temporary writer at a station in Miami. I was ambitious. I was going to claw my way to the top, but without sacrificing my ethics.

No brown nosing.

I wasn’t giving up my sense of self either. Hoodies and jeans.

Deal with it.

Within a year, I was a full-time associate producer. Within 2 years, a regular producer.

I would sit at bars with co-workers and hash out the bullshit of the day, an alcoholic post-mortem always punctuated by my comments about how it would be “When I run shit someday.”

Four years later, I got sick of working overnight, paying my dues in sleepless nights, power naps that left a dent in my forehead from the edge of my desk.

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Daydrinking because it was normal.

Breakfast baked potato from the 24-hour Wendy’s in the ghetto.

I took a position in Tampa with every expectation I was on the fast track to becoming an Executive Producer.

I watched my mom go from Associate Producer to News Director in less than 6 years.
I had this on lock.

Not to mention that the News Director who hired me referred to my cover letter as “beautifully written.”

He called my resume impressive. Once I started, he said he thought there was no way they were going to get me to come on board.

I was too good for THEM.

I met my husband and had a couple of kids.

Along the way I went from weekend producer, to weekday 11, to weekday 6.

Then, suddenly 2 years ago, I was doing the Noon show.

Then, they told me they were moving me back to weekends.

After 9 years.

I gave my notice the same day.

I don’t have some awesome other job lined up. I am not just giving up a job, I am giving up a career that I once loved very much.

While I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to focus on being a better parent to my children, there is also some sadness over a dream that has died.

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But, as one of my very best friends said, “Defeated doesn’t suit you.”

It doesn’t.

Somehow I allowed this business, this job, to dig its hideous black talons into my spirit and squeeze out the very guts of who I am.

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I leave them now in a trail behind me as I walk out that door for the very last time.

Enjoy my entrails.

Consider them the breadcrumbs that lead to another world, one where I am free to aspire to be something greater than I am every day.

Chew on that.

My Mother’s Day

For Mother’s Day, we went with my in-laws to the beach.

My son is sick, so on the long drive there we enjoyed the soundtrack of incessant hacking punctuated by simultaneous shrieks of “Weeeeee” from both kids whenever we went over a “hill” on the highway.

When we arrived there, we began the Sisyphean task of unloading tents, umbrellas, beach toys, coolers and I began lathering the kids in sunscreen.

When I got to my son’s nose, maybe because he thought I was going to wipe the snot, he freaked out and started smacking me in the face.

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He got an epic car time-out, during which he cried out a bunch of the snot.

I finally got him to stop crying by distracting him by helping pigeons get some water at the shower by the parking lot.

Then halfway to the beach he starts screaming again because he sneezed out more snot.

At the beach, he perks up and has a great time, but my daughter is refusing to go into the water because there are waves.

Never been an issue before. She tells me she’ll go in the ocean when she’s five.

They drop cookies and cheese puffs in the sand, still trying to pick them back up to eat them. I question their common sense.

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We stay just long enough for it to make sense that we built a second G-D home on the beach before packing up and heading back to the car.

We decide to head to Chili’s with my in-laws, because every other restaurant is packed with mothers.

My son falls asleep just minutes before we arrive.

Lunch starts fine, with him sleeping on my husband’s lap. But, he wakes up moments after the food arrives and starts crying.

My mother-in-law assumes it’s because he’s sick, but NO. He ALWAYS wakes up like that.

So, I take him outside for a stroll, to watch cars whiz by and interrogate him.

“Do you want juice?” “Do you want chips?” “Do you need to go potty?” “Do you want corn on the cob?” “Do you want two-for-one margaritas?”

He goes with juice, so we head back inside where he refuses to leave my lap, so I cannot eat.

The juice (and my daughter’s chocolate milk) arrive just in time for us to leave. That earns the waiter instant dick status.

At home, you’d think my son would get back to that interrupted nap, but no way. He’s up for the long haul now. So, we take a bike ride.

During the bike ride, my daughter decides to ask me why we don’t live forever.

Last time she asked me, “Who made God?”

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Nothing like a relaxing bike ride with Alma.

When we get home, my husband and I trade off struggling through naps and watching the kids.

I want to shout Amen and dance with snakes when bedtime arrives.

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But, noooooo! Alma says her belly hurts because she’s still hungry.

I struggle between thinking she could possibly be going through a growth spurt and be legitimately hungry and assuming she’s just making up the typical excuses to stay up late. I also don’t want to set the precedent that eating in bed after brushing your teeth is okay.

I offer her “squeeze fruit.” (glorified applesauce) She says she only wants Goldfish.

I tell her she can eat Goldfish, but she has to sit on the floor because she’ll get crumbs in her bed.

I bring her the Goldfish and she starts crying because she says she wanted bread. (I was apparently supposed to deduce this telepathically.)

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I bring her the bread and leave. Moments later, she’s yelling at me from her room to come and throw away the crust she doesn’t want.

There’s a several minute fight.

“You have two working legs. Throw it away yourself!”

More crying. I find her crumpled on the floor of her room with a wad of crust in her hand. So, I drag her to the bathroom and make her throw it away.

Now, she’s wailing that the chunk of middle bread she wanted was in the pile in the trash. So, I pick it out and send her off.

I start to feel guilty.

I picture her someday telling her college boyfriend about her wretched mother who would send her starving to bed with a mashed up piece of bread plucked from the garbage.

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I go back to her room to talk it out and find her sound asleep, the chunk of bread uneaten inside her curled up little paw. I kiss her cheek and toss it out.

We pick our battles.

My husband I have talked about how incredibly sick we are of constantly telling the kids, “No.”

We do let some stuff slide. In the car ride back from the beach, we let Huck shove crackers from his Lunchable under his seat belt buckle, showering crumbs around my car. Alma was rubbing circles of ham on her thighs.

That’s cool.

Whatever.

I digress.

We finally have the freedom to have a couple of beers and watch some mindless crap on TV when… I hear Alma crying.

She has puked all over her bed, her pajamas, her hair.

It’s a mad dash to bathe her, brush her teeth, wash sheets. (Although my husband tends to just toss stuff in the trash. We lost two fluffy pink blankets last night.)

I threw out the bathmat. Once there are chunks in that thing, there’s no getting it clean.

I disinfect the tub twice over, because Lord knows if one kid gets a stomach bug, we’re all screwed.

She sleeps through the night and I feel like we’re in the clear.

Until I get a text message from my husband this morning that she crapped her undies overnight and several times since.

Now, I spend the entire day at work feeling pressure under my tongue like I’m going to puke.

The paranoia that could inevitably lead to me actually tossing my cookies.

So, that was Mother’s Day.

I did get some lovely earrings and a watch from the husband.

My Mother Is

My mother is Earl Grey tea with a little milk. She is cinnamon toast and yogurt with peaches. She is macaroni and tomato soup on a cold night.

She is the piano playing on a drowsy summer day. She is the soft hush after a nightmare. She is rocking me slowly, singing Carole King until the crying stops.

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She is my solo standing ovation, applauding my practice for an audition. She is the voice of reason following bullying and rejection. She is taking me on a shopping spree for clothes so I can fit in.

She is chocolate cake after a rough day.

She is wine and carbs after a bad breakup. She is cruise ships and suntans and Mexican food so spicy I get second-degree burns.

She is a late-night campfire and the deepest, safest sleep.

She is brushing my daughter’s hair, scratching her back. She is picking flowers with her, strolling through the garden.

She is Nana now.

But, she will always be cattails, Vanilla and willow ware, swinging brass pots and Chariots of Fire, cradling me and singing Hush Little Baby.

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For all she did for me that I understand now, I will forever be blessed.

Crying and Whining: The Sountrack to My life

I was under the misconception there would be less crying when my newborns became babies.

When my babies became toddlers.

Little did I know the crying would continue daily well into my children’s 3rd and 4th years of life.

My daughter cries in the morning when my husband leaves her to come downstairs because she isn’t cooperating while getting dressed.

She cries at night because her Hello Kitty hat fell out of the bed and she doesn’t want to get out of bed to retrieve it.

She cries louder when I threaten to shut her door if she doesn’t stop crying.

She whines when her brother touches her.

She whines when she can’t get her shirt over her giant melon head.

She whines when I break the devastating news that we will not be eating Ravioli every night.

My son whines because his blanket has slipped down to the bottom of the bed.

He whines because I tell him he needs to put his sippy cup on the counter when he’s done.

He whines and transforms into a tiny T-Rex, flopping his stumpy arms because I won’t put “Baymax” on a perpetual loop on the T.V.

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He cries if you even suggest he’s going to get time out.

He cries with shame if he hurts himself.

Last night, he cried at 2 a.m. for no apparent reason that we’ve been able to discern.

Most days begin with the sound of crying raining down from upstairs as I cook my breakfast and lunch for work.

Most days end with someone crying for some stupid reason before bed.

Most nights, sleep is interrupted by someone crying because they fell out of bed, had a nightmare, have an earache or in my son’s case… who the hell knows why?

Last night, I had a Come To Jesus talk with Alma about the crying.

A shut the door, sit down, look at me chat.

I told her that as she approaches age 5, it’s becoming increasingly ridiculous for her to whine and cry.

I told her she needs to start verbalizing her emotions, using words to describe how she feels. Say, “I’m sad.” Say, “I’m mad.” Say, “I’m an irritating a-hole and think you’re a shit mom.” (Okay, I didn’t say that.)

Her response was, “There’s a big kid at school who whines all the time.”

“Okay, he’s a dork.”

I said, “Do you hear me whining and crying all the time? No, cause I’m a big girl. I don’t go around saying, “I’m tired! Wahhh!” “I want to wear ripped jeans to work! Wahhh!” “I don’t wanna write about dead babies and riots and mass shootings! Wahhhh!” (Definitely didn’t say that.)

I made her paraphrase back to me what I was saying to be sure she understood.

Less than an hour later, she was in her room, screaming like a banshee, tears streaming down her face because she couldn’t find her Frozen lip gloss.

“Oh, the horror! The tragedy! How will you survive SLEEPING without lip gloss?”

These are the moments when I really start to feel a deep connection with parents arrested for duct taping their kids mouths shut.

I thought crying at this age was reserved for broken bones and stranger danger.

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I don’t take a lot of pictures of them when they’re crying. Pouting? I got that covered.

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My children have perfected the “orphan look.”

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Do my kids just suffer from weak constitutions?

Should I be prying their eyes open, forcing them to watch videos of real suffering like A Clockwork Orange for kids?

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Or maybe I am the only parent who feels their blood pressure rising with each meaningless wail.

The only one whose skin crawls when their child is shrieking needlessly.

The only one who sprouts spontaneous tears as soon as their child starts crying.

Damn.

I’m the one with the weak constitution.

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Why My Kids Will Never Sleepover (and your kids can’t either)

Ahhh, the sleepover.

A quintessential part of the American childhood.

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Just the word “sleepover” probably stirs up fond memories of late-night giggling, poorly painted toe-nails and itchy sleeping bags.

For me, it dredges up the crying jags and calls to come home in the middle of the night.

The panicky realization that I was actually expected to sleep at some point.

The horror of having to pretend to LIKE pizza and ignoring the aching pains that followed due to lactose intolerance.

My top 3 worst sleepover experiences, in no particular order:

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

Maybe it was the title of the movie that had the parents confused.

Sleeping, like a “sleepover.”

Maybe I had led a sheltered life, never having seen a movie that was rated R by the tender age of 8.

But, I could not hide my shock and dismay as we huddled onto our friend’s fluffy, pink twin bed and watched Julia Roberts being raped by Patrick Bergin.

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This face will forever haunt me.

The first sex scene I had ever seen and it was a portrait of a violently abusive marriage.

At this age, the mere mention of sex made my throat swell-up with anxiety.

As I’ve mentioned, I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family and just thinking about sex was likely to earn you a ticket straight to the fiery pits of hell. (At least in my prepubescent mind.)

At first, I tried to nonchalantly cover my eyes.

That wasn’t going to work.

There was audio.

Can’t cover your eyes and ears simultaneously.

So, I did what any other slightly hypochondriacal youngster would do.

I pretended to feel sick, rushed out of the room and spent a good portion of the evening engaging in calming banter with my friend’s mother. (No mention was made of their incredibly poor choice of films for the sleepover.)

(By the way, I adore that movie now. I guess it’s kind of like, ‘I can watch it now without wanting to die or praying for forgiveness! I win!’)

THE MANSION UTI

My father was a math teacher at a prep school for rich kids.

We didn’t have much money (understatement) and frequently found ourselves with incredibly wealthy friends.

One of those kids lived in a mansion with an olympic-size swimming pool, complete with high diving board and an ice cream parlor.

They were having a birthday party for her brother and I swear to God, they had the longest, most phenomenal Slip ‘N Slide I had ever seen. It ended in a pool that was way bigger than the above ground one we had in our backyard.

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Yes, that’s Slide the City. But, it was totally like that!

Needless to say, I was already intimidated by the home, the toys, the yard, the pool.

Just looking at my friend sitting with perfect posture while playing at her grand piano was enough to make me feel inferior for JUST BEING.

It was around midnight when I started to realize I was suffering from the world’s most wicked urinary tract infection. Dear God, the pain!

I wasn’t keen on being there, but I wanted to impress my rich pal, so I tried to suck it up, tough it out, biting into the provided pillow to try to keep from screaming.

I finally broke down and called my mom and whispered through tears that my private parts were en fuego.

THE PUKE

I’m sure you’re already thinking you can guess how this sleepover went. But, wait!

It was a sleepover at MY house and I was NOT the one who puked.

It was my neighborhood friend.

She ran for the bathroom.

She only made it to the hallway.

It was projectile.

It was shocking.

It was the look on my father’s face while he was sopping it up that I will never forget for as long as I live.

He looked like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.

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Or Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained.

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Or Samuel L. Jackson in any movie for that matter.

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These and also the glaring facts that some parents are also perverts, some guns are left unlocked and some alcohol is on the bottom shelf are the reasons why I will never (don’t hold me to it) let my kids sleepover.

And your (vomiting) kids can’t stay either.