There should be a guide to surviving children’s television shows. I know I couldn’t write it. I get so sick of the characters asking me questions.
When we were children, Bugs Bunny didn’t grill us. “What’s up doc?” was rhetorical. Asking questions to your invisible audience doesn’t work, at least not on my kidlets. They both stare stone-faced when Mickey asks them a question. It could be, “What’s your name?” and I swear I can see drool drip from daughter’s chin during the 10 seconds of silence that follows.
In order to get by, my husband and I have employed a technique that’s sure to bite us in the ass someday when our kids overhear and start repeating it. We intentionally mishear song lyrics and catch phrases.
If you watch Super Why, you know they are constantly shouting enthusiastically, “To the book club!” Now, watch again and see if it actually sounds more like, “To the butt plug!”
On one episode of Tinga Tinga, there’s a Jamaican sounding turtle that says, almost clear as day, “Gimme that f&*ing gun!” Yeah, I know that’s not what he says but we can’t actually figure out what he’s really saying … so we just go with it.
You can also try to spot and/or point out the enormous failures of your kid’s favorite shows. My husband noted that Handy Manny only has four fingers on each hand. Not very handy.
Why are all of the animals on The Octonauts animals, except for Turnip. Why the hell is there a talking turnip on that submarine?
I’ll never understand Blue’s Clues. No matter how many times they change the host, he always seems like a serial killer.
The kids on Barney are terrifying. They’re like Stepford kids, all plastic and cheerful. Let’s not get started on the bad lip syncing on that show.
Even Sesame Street isn’t the same. I miss Barkley. I want more Grover. And Elmo is an annoying little shit. Even my daughter can’t determine if he’s a boy or a girl. She assumes girl, what with that heinous high-pitched voice.
But, the show that makes me want to turn to drink is Barbie. My daughter discovered “Barbie Shorts” on Netflix and it’s the most mind-sucking, brain-polluting garbage you’ve ever seen. Ken is clearly gay, which means we could be tight, but he’s definitely not feeling Barbie. Barbie manages to pull off complicated parties despite being a vacuous moron. And they decided to give Barbie an arch nemesis who is a slutty looking brunette who probably works nights at Mons Venus. (Because brunettes are obviously inferior and trashy in Barbie world)
Here’s the rub: Once your children graduate to movies where they can finally sit still and you’re super excited to watch incredible effects in Wall-E or get sucked into the storyline in Rango, you get to the end, feeling satisfied … until your toddler says, “LET’S WATCH IT AGAIN!”
Everybody knows that when you have children, they’re going to spend the vast majority of their youngest years infecting you with various germs and parasites. We’ve had several stomach viruses, the flu, RSV and of course lice. The day I had to put mayonnaise on my daughter’s hair and cover it with a shower cap was a goodie. We played together with our stinking Mayo heads and shower caps until her nap time. She woke up screaming when the warm mayo started to drip down her neck.
What nobody warns you about is the possibility your kid could give you a potentially deadly virus. My daughter came home from daycare with MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) on her arm. Then she came home with it on her butt … then it came back on her butt again and again and again.
Eventually, it cleared up with antibiotics. But, then I got it again on my thigh. Any working parent knows how this story goes: I ignore it because I can’t call out sick, because I already call out sick way too much and I don’t want to get canned, so it festers and grows and suddenly I am waking up in the middle of the night with a dangerous fever, chills and an infection that has spread from my groin to my knee cap.
I went to the ER, assuming I would be sent home that night. When the doctor pulled my dress up over the wounds, he was taken aback. I spent two days in the hospital alone.
They kept me in “quarantine” and used words like “decolonized” and “carrier.” They once neglected to bring me my dinner because the nurse didn’t want to come in because I was CONTAGIOUS. People at my work were freaked out. The boss had to hold a special meeting to alert everyone about an anonymous employee with MRSA. Like there was any doubt about which employee that was. For several days after I returned, people would joke around and tell me to stay away. It wasn’t Leprosy for God sake!
The best part should’ve been leaving the hospital, but it was sweltering outside. A young, inexperienced nurse was tasked with wheeling me all the way to my car. The older nurse told her emphatically not to let me get up and walk. Lil’ nurse got lost and ended up wheeling me around in the heat, sweating, with my hairy hospital legs exposed in the cut-off shorts my husband brought me to change into.
I finally just got up and told her, “I won’t tell if you don’t.”
I was supposed to be convalescing at home. Instead, I came home to about a week’s worth of laundry. If you have a family of four or more, then you know what that means. A pile of clothes so high, climbing it could make someone’s bucket list. No rest for the weary. No rest for a working parent, not even one with MRSA.
While my husband cooks dinner, I give the kids a bath. The next night, we swap. We’ve come to the realization that the only way to survive bath time is to give the kids what we call, “double bath.” Obviously, this means we bathe them both at the same time. Bathe one at a time and the other will walk up to the tub and throw something in like a remote control. Or you’ll hear that eerie silence which could only indicate your other child is digging in a light socket or has tumbled head first down the stairs, because he CAN.
Double bath it is. At least until they’re 15 or can wash themselves, whichever comes first.
This is no Bert and Ernie with a rubber ducky kind of situation. My son spends the whole time crying and trying to get as much water as possible out of the tub. My daughter has lately started trying to suck water out of all of the bath toys. Who made these things anyway? I know, let’s create a Petri dish that lives inside a rubber crab-shaped toy. “Fill it with water, leave it in the tub and see what grows!” The other day, I yelled at her again for sucking the water out, to which she responded, “I spit it back out, so it’s okay.” I then squeezed a rubber fishy and black crap came spewing out with the water. I tried to show her that it was dirty. Which elicited the endless stream of “why’s.”
I pride myself on trying to explain things fully to them, so I said, “Well, the water that just sits there in a closed space grows mold and mildew.”
“JUST STOP DRINKING IT!”
After the bath, my son cries because when he wants to run naked and wet through the house instead of being dry and in pajamas. My daughter cries because she’s cold and wants to “be carried like a baby.” Half the time I end up leaving them with wet crevices and disheveled hair, which leads to wet pajamas… which leads to more complaints about being cold. Anyone else end a ten-minute speed bath with the kids drenched in sweat? I do. Every time. Oh, and I always end up in MY pajamas after every bath because I am basically soaked and covered in filth water.
There isn’t time to smile sweetly at my shiny, clean children afterward… because then it’s time for dinner! Yay! I will save that for another post. Or maybe several.
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.
By all intents and purposes, I am living the American dream. I have a big house in the suburbs, a moderately successful career, a wonderful husband and two adorable, healthy and brilliant children.
But, the sounds emanating from my house probably have the neighbors phone in hand, poised to dial 911. Every day. All day long. You’ve probably seen people post pictures of their toddlers online with them bawling their eyes out. The caption reads, “My toddler is crying because… ” “Because there’s not enough milk in her cereal.” “Because he can’t wipe the booger onto the couch.” I could take pictures of my toddler all day and night with the caption, “My kid is crying ALL THE TIME because… ”
In the morning when my beautiful 3 year old wakes up, she cries because she wants to sleep in. Then she cries because she doesn’t like the clothes we picked out. Then she cries because she says her “feet hurt when she walks down stairs.” Then she cries because she wants me to braid her hair. (BEFORE I take the dogs out) The she cries in the car because she wants milk. Usually she stops crying just in time to walk into the school, at least saving us the embarrassment of other parents knowing our child is batshit crazy.
After a long day at work, I walk up to the door and before I even open it, I can hear the crying. Sometimes it’s just my daughter, but frequently my nearly two year old son chimes in. And then, there’s the dogs. Our Boston Terrier and French Bulldog let out ear-piercing squeals and howls every time the kids cry. In fact, they continue long after the kids have stopped crying.
Then, my daughter cries because she doesn’t want to take a bath. She’s crying because she wants to help me cook the dinner she will later refuse to eat. My son cries because I poured water on his head. (heaven forbid I wash his hair) Then, my daughter cries because she doesn’t want to go to bed, wants milk, wants water, wants a book, wants more TV, wants her “computer” (it’s a Leapfrog. Educational, right? At least that’s how we all justify plopping our kids down in front of what is really just a glorified video game system) and then she cries because I won’t let her strangle herself in her sleep with a scarf she has wrapped around her neck like a fuzzy, blue python.
My son cries when I change his diaper. He cries when I cut his nails, although I have NEVER accidentally cut his finger or cut them too short. (The same can’t be said for my daughter) He cries because he wants to go outside, which is all of the time. (Blame us for naming him “Huck”… the perfect choice for an outdoorsy type of dude) He cries for milk. He cries for a ball, any ball, is there even a ball in the room? Probably not.
My kids don’t whimper. They don’t whine. I don’t even think I can call it “crying.” They scream. My son’s screams are so ear-piercing sometimes it’s more like a dog whistle. (and we know they hear it from their incessant howling)
So, you can probably guess who else cries in our house. This guy. When I’ve tried “time outs” and answered ridiculous requests with a resounding, “NO,” when I’ve catered to their every whim and helped them with all bodily functions, fed them and watered them like little, irritating tropical plants… I cry. I’d like to scream, but the whole goddamned rest of the house has that covered. Wouldn’t want to be redundant. Wouldn’t want the cops to actually show up at the house. Because then I would have to explain, “Nope, this is what our household sounds like every single day. This is normal.”
We’re living the American scream, people.