Here’s my riddle. I am in desperate need of something that flies without wings.
There’s a fine line between having a life that’s moderately difficult and a life that’s nearly unbearable.
The former can be greeted with an acerbic sense of humor. The latter cannot be greeted with anything other than a veritable sledgehammer of curse words, an inordinate amount of alcohol and a river of tears.
Lately, I have found it increasingly challenging to manage my life with shrugs, snickers and snarky comments.
I’ve read articles recently about the curse of having a “Threenager.”
I have a Fournager. See? It’s not even funny because there is no word for a child who has gone from being willful to unmanageable and is also four.
I am bombarded with comments about how her stubbornness and crappy attitude will someday allow her to become a powerful, confident woman. It is of little comfort when I am currently tossing her “powerful” butt in time-outs all day long, every bedtime is a battle of wills and we’ve been forced to swear off all public outings.
Don’t get me wrong, she still melts my heart by telling me I’m her best friend and randomly cuddling up to say, “I like you, mommy.”
But, lately, she’s destroying my life.
I can’t take a bath without the sound of her shrieking upon getting another time-out.
I can’t make it through dinner without her playing with her spoon, flicking her food to the dogs and shouting “Huck touched me!”
I can’t take the kids somewhere fun without her demanding a toy. Since when did it become a requirement to have a commemorative purchase when you go to a Jump Zone?
Huck is not absolved of all guilt.
The other day I heard them arguing about “who won” in the race to get upstairs. (They both say they won no matter who gets to the top first and then fight about it.) Moments later, I heard the loud smack of Huck’s hand across Alma’s face.
Even when he’s not pummeling her, she’s fake crying over something he did.
When he finds out I’m not the one putting him to bed at night, he slaps the air and grunts. If I am in close enough proximity, he slaps me too. Another time-out! Yay!
I am sure every parent has been there at some point, but it feels like the kids are conspiring against us right now.
They’re determined to suck the joy out of every single moment of the day and let me tell you, my days suck pretty hard long before I get home in the evening.
Not to mention all the fun times involved with cool stuff like earaches.
I have tried so many different methods of discipline and parenting (Without spanking, can’t bring myself to get there yet.) to no avail.
The only explanation I can come up with is that they have so little respect for us because we’re… just… not… there.
We’re paying a hodgepodge of day care workers to raise our kids for pretty much the entire day, five days a week.
I can only wonder if I would find better ways to get them to behave if I was actually able to monitor their behavior, their food and their naps every day.
Maybe they’re tired.
Maybe they’re eating too much sugary crap at school.
Maybe they’re harassed all day by whiny brats and no one is there to intervene, so they become whiny little brats when they get home.
Maybe they just don’t respect us because we’re just not there.
It’s a long shot, but Lord knows, I don’t blame the kids. If children behave badly, it’s invariably the parent’s fault, right?
So, now on top of the misery of long commutes and long days at work and long and repeated time-outs, I am wracked with the guilt of feeling like a failure as a parent.
So, if anybody wonders why lately I’m not a font of hysterical anecdotes and amusing quips about my adorable family, that’s why.
I need… more… time.
Lately, I can be seen shuffling around like a homeless schizophrenic, mumbling to myself over and over, “It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase.”
For the past few weeks, my daughter has transformed into the kind of girl nobody wants to hang out with.
She has pretty much ruined every holiday event or special occasion.
There was Christmas where I watched in horror as she shredded open gift after gift barely pausing between to assess the present. When she finished she whined, “I want more presents to unwrap.”
I tried to convince myself it was just some kind of OCD obsession with the thrill of unwrapping.
She practically cried when I offered her Cinnamon Buns for breakfast, then downed two of them within minutes, sending her off on a sugary high, shrieking and bouncing around the house like a crackhead kangaroo.
She spent hours in separate “time outs.”
I asked her what her favorite gift from Santa was. (Santa, you know, the “guy” who bought all the presents, wrapped all the presents, decorated the tree and stealthily stuffed stockings when “he’d” rather have been sleeping.) Her response: “The kitty, I guess, but it was the wrong color and I didn’t get the doll carriage I wanted.”
This sent me off on a tear-filled, mimosa-fueled afternoon followed by a splitting headache and sweaty nap.
On New Year’s Eve, we used the Netflix fakeout countdown for the kids during which my daughter whined that she wanted to watch Batman instead.
Afterward, we partook in the Cuban traditions.
We were each eating our 12 grapes when Alma proceeded to drop 2 of them, 1 of which was never located. A slimy grape is currently curled up in our carpet maliciously awaiting a middle of the night barefoot run for a glass of water.
She refused to put pants and shoes on with her pajamas, despite the fact that it was super cold outside, because she wanted to “be Tinkerbell.”
We walked around the house with our suitcases in order to ensure a 2015 filled with travel. Of course, our neighbor walks out in a vest and tie on his way to celebrate New Year’s the way normal adults do. I can only imagine how ridiculous we looked traipsing through wet grass and dog shit with our luggage, wearing pajamas.
We get back to the front door and Alma starts fake-crying because she was under the false impression we would be walking around the whole neighborhood.
We go to dump our bucket of water out the front door to wash away all the crap that’s happened in 2014. Alma is throwing a fit because she wants to do it herself even though the Popcorn bowl is so heavy, she would end up on the sidewalk in the puddle.
Last night, I managed to sneak out of work early because we had short newscasts on New Year’s Day. On the drive home, I am cheerful despite writing about sons decapitating their mothers and boyfriends nearly strangling their girlfriends to death. There is no traffic, it’s not too hot and I am arriving home before the sun sets.
So, we decide to take the kids out for pizza. After the 30 minute drive, we discover the restaurant is closed. Alma commences whining about how all she will eat is pizza, so we end up at chain Italian restaurant that shall remain unnamed.
I always planned to be the kind of parent that would NEVER let their children play on computers at the dinner table… until I ended up the kind of parent with kids that jostle me perpetually, ask “why” repeatedly and don’t allow me to eat a single bite of food without arguing with me about something.
So, I let Alma play with her Leapad. Instead of enjoying herself quietly, she’s demanding that I watch what she’s doing, take part in what she’s doing and talking over the Comicon, Dungeons and Dragons playing waitress who is trying to take our order.
Halfway through our overpriced, undercooked pasta, the little boy in the booth behind me stands up and projectile vomits spaghetti all over the floor.
The C-team staff starts to mop it up and then leaves little wet spaghetti pieces on the floor right next to me and the stinking mop and bucket right behind my husband.
My main resolution this year was just to detox, not for the entire year, but long enough to avoid feeling pickled post holidays.
January 1st and I’m making a Moscow Mule so I can suffer through putting my daughter to bed.
We’re coloring together and she’s wide-eyed and crazed, intentionally coloring hard and outside the lines.
She stays up too late on her computer. I take it away and tell her to sleep.
When it’s finally time for me and the husband to go to bed, he turns off the hallway light and I heard Alma yell, “MOM! MOM! Turn on the light! I can’t see!!!”
She says it like we’ve offended her sensibilities by turning out HER light when SHE is trying to stay up until midnight the day AFTER New Year’s Eve.
I cry myself to sleep while browsing Facebook, looking at people wearing their fun New Year’s Eve hats, drinking champagne, their children grinning and still joyously and gratefully playing with their Christmas loot.
It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase. Until… it’s not.
You might hate dressing up for Halloween.
You might prefer an event where your cup runneth over with booze.
You might want to spend your Saturday night cozying up with a good book.
But, you… had… children.
Now, it’s NOT ABOUT YOU.
We initially had plans to attend a neighbor’s adult Halloween party, a highly-anticipated event in our hood.
Instead, I traded Jello shots for rum and Coke Zero at my mother-in-law’s house.
I planned to be something cute for Halloween, but couldn’t squeeze into the beer girl costume, probably because of all of the beer I’ve consumed trying to cope with parenthood.
Instead, I wore an oversized Anna costume with a wig and felt like a chunky Disney princess with head lice.
Alma wore her Dolly meets Elsa wig and complained about it the entire time, but refused to take it off.
The kids consumed just enough candy to become raging assholes for bath time.
Sunday rolls around and Oktoberfest is just around the corner from our house at the horse track.
Instead we head to Cracker Barrel and a farm in the opposite direction so the kids can enjoy a DRY fall festival.
At the restaurant, a waitress named Cessie is regaling us with stories about how much children love her while mine sit and sulk, refusing to answer any of her questions. (There’s nothing more embarrassing than someone asking your child how their food is and watching them scowl and shovel pancakes into their mouth with complete disregard.)
Can I vent for a moment about the perilous journey in and out of the Cracker Barrel lobby with toddlers? You are fortunate if you make it through there without one of them demanding a toy, grabbing a toy, breaking a toy.. or worse, breaking some super fragile, expensive Christmas tchotchke.
We make it to the farm and remember why we were reticent about going.
We tried a few years ago when Alma was just a baby.
She could’ve cared less.
We spent a shitload of money in order to check out some miserable bunnies, cranky goats and comatose pigs.
We were offered a free hot-dog and soda, for which you only had to stand in line for about 45 minutes.
Upon arriving, we are greeted by sour-faced, wrinkle-tanned, apathetic volunteers in neon green tee-shirts.
They are haphazardly snatching up kids by their armpits to place them on zombie ponies. (Picture Santa’s Elves at the mall in A Christmas Story)
I overheard one little girl request a specific pony and a volunteer with rotting teeth said, “Honey, I want a Ferrari, but oh well.”
Alma rode her horse like a stunt man from Seabiscuit. I was so proud… and then depressed while calculating the cost of riding lessons.
The kids got to feed a sketchy llama who kept whipping his ears back in irritation. They probably caught the next Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Goat Flu in the petting zoo.
I went to get on a choo choo train with the kids because I saw other parents boarding and the volunteer said snarkily, “Only one parent per train car, I thought I made myself clear.”
Awesome. You just go ahead and speed off in that unregulated vehicle with my unbuckled children as you zoom around your horse-shit ridden farm packed with miserable caged animals that don’t belong.
There were lemurs.
On a farm.
And a Zorse.
The highlight for me was plucking individual grains of food out of the dirt for the poor, neglected donkeys who they had penned just outside the petting zoo.
Alma was obsessed with the hay stack.
Huxley got to throw balls at a pumpkin.
The kids has a great time.
I stared longingly at the city block-long line for food and drinks, even though there was no pot of beer at the end of that rainbow.
Back at home, I carved pumpkins with the kids.
All that really means is that my husband ran out for pizza while I carved pumpkins solo with the kids staring at me and repeatedly trying to grab the ridiculously sharp cutting tools.
I had to yell at my son every few minutes that he was about to amputate his own finger.
Let’s be honest, does anyone actually enjoy digging out pumpkin guts or that pumpkin fart smell that fills the room? Does anyone who doesn’t use a store bought pattern actually end up with a pumpkin they’re satisfied with?
They rode ponies, they played in hay, they watched someone else do all the hard work for Halloween and what did they get most excited about?
Daddy returning with pizza.
Then, it’s laundry, pre-cleaning for the cleaning lady and battling my daughter to get her to go to bed.
By the time it’s all over, all we want to do is watch a good scary movie on Netflix and even that is impossible.
We pick one… it’s foreign and dubbed over in English.
We choose another movie, it’s got subtitles.
I am too tired to try and read while watching a movie.
We end up watching a few minutes of something I don’t even remember and go to bed.
All so I can get up at the butt crack of dawn, brave rush hour traffic, get cut off by some douche in a Mustang, fall asleep during a meeting, drink too much crappy station coffee, get jittery and write about dead people.
Well, it’s not about me anymore.
At least they’re happy.
I attended a rave for kids over the weekend!
But, first let’s recount another epic restaurant failure.
We took the kids to Lee Roy Selmon’s for lunch.
Huck was asleep when we arrived. I wish he had stayed that way.
As soon as the food arrives, he wakes up pissed off and starts crying. My husband tells him to stop crying or he will get time out. So, he starts WAILING.
Then, my daughter starts crying because I told her she can’t have any birthday cake at my niece’s birthday party because she’s refusing to eat anything but Mac ‘N Cheese.
Can 3 year olds get scurvy? I bet mine can.
I have literally eaten a few bites of food before my husband is trying to hail down the waitress to get the check and I’m shuttling two screaming kids out of the restaurant.
Outside, in the blistering heat, I use distraction techniques to shut them up.
“Do you hear a plane?”
“Look, a lizard!”
It works until we get to the car, when my daughter starts being a giant Jackass. Every 2 seconds, she’s saying “mommy.”
“Mommy, get my Cinderella dress off the floor.”
“Mommy, I want juice.”
“Mommy, I’m being good now so I can have birthday cake.” (Oh, hell no you can’t.)
“Mommy, I want a snack.” (Go, F-yourself you little meatless, veggieless, fruitless monster.)
We took my food to go so I could eat it in the car, but my blood pressure is soaring and I know if I eat I am going to be trapped in a bathroom, destroying the toilet at the bowling alley for my niece’s party.
Which brings me to the rave.
We arrive earlier than anticipated since lunch was cut so short. We take them to the arcade area and try to show how them how to play Skee Ball.
We take a shot at air hockey.
Alma refuses to play.
Huck sits on the table and my husband accuses me of trying to injure our son because I hit the puck too hard.
We walk over to the party once it’s started. Seconds after the obligatory round of cheek-kissing, they shut off the lights.
I am blinded by neon and can no longer see my children.
The theme is candy.
Tweens are running around sucking on ring candy and I’m having a flashback to the time I ended up at a rave, sitting miserably against the wall with some douche bag spinning glow sticks in front of my face saying, “Are you rolling? You’re so rolling. Are you rolling?” (For the record, I was NOT.) (That same night I ended up in the women’s bathroom with some chick who asked if I was having fun. I told her, “Not at all.” She offered me cocaine.)
So, now I am desperately trying to herd my children around the table where I’m sitting on one of the most uncomfortable, perpetually swiveling chairs.
I am envisioning their melon heads being shattered by some pre-adolescent boy wildly swinging a bowling ball.
My daughter is repeatedly refusing to drink fruit punch because she wants juice. Abuela offers her the same drink and calls it juice. Alma drinks it and loves it. (Then snidely says, “Mommy, it’s not fruit punch. It’s juice, see?”)
I’m digging apart pieces of crappy, overpriced pizza for my son, the tomato sauce burning through my hangnail. (Pizza that I cannot eat because I am lactose intolerant.)
There’s some pizza-faced, “slow” girl who works for the bowling alley lurking around to make sure the correct number of adults are bowling at each lane. I resist the urge to trip her. I mean, it’s dark. No one will see, right?
I love bowling and I’m pretty darn good at it. Doing it basically blindfolded while trying to keep my toddlers from being abducted by potential pervs?
I buy a pitcher of shitty beer. It does not make me feel better.
My son has been given a little birthday balloon on a plastic stick. He proceeds to hit himself in the eyeball with the stick. (2 days later and it’s still red)
Awesome, now I’ve blinded my son for the sake of a little kid rave.
My daughter is hopped up on candy (Candy is not birthday cake, she has informed me.) and I am still STARVING.
In the car, my spoiled leftovers smell like cheesy, unclean, fat person butt. (Which surprisingly does not keep me from being HUNGRY.)
We have no food at home. I get groceries. I cook. I hate everything.
The next day, my husband needs to get some work done so I end up taking the kids to see the new Planes movie.
I’m down with talking dogs. I can even chill out with phallic-looking Muno and his genital warts.
They lose me at communicating planes, helicopter and tractors.
My son is demanding to “walk around” during the movie.
My daughter drops her smuggled banana bread onto the floor.
At one point, she’s sitting on the floor, sticky with God knows what and I DON’T CARE.
I come home to find my husband still working and I die a little inside.
We manage to wrest him away from the computer long enough to hit up the mall park.
It smells rancid, like hot, unwashed hair.
Big kids are trying to jump from a giant fake hotdog to a giant fake Coke cup, threatening to squash my tiny tots running in between. My husband yells at them to stop and other parents are looking at his NRA hat suspiciously.
My son poops and I take him to the family restroom and discover we don’t have any wipes in the diaper bag. I am wiping him with Starbucks napkins, hoping other parents don’t notice. Within minutes of being back inside the park, he poops again.
We have to leave because there are no more Starbucks napkins.
Now, Alma starts screaming because we didn’t take them on the cars outside the park. (The little motorized cars that we refuse to pay for so they can jiggle from side to side. I always tell them to just get inside and enjoy their Goddamned imaginations.)
At home, Alma wants to blow bubbles outside even though it’s blazing hot.
I suffer for ten minutes, drenched in sweat. Then, I take her to look at animals at the pet store and buy a coloring book at the craft store. We emerge into a torrential downpour.
My husband works through the entire night.
He’s going out of town this week.
I watch Ray Donovan alone after the kids are asleep and cry into a glass of wine.
Looking on the bright side, there’s half a bottle left.
I’ve been trying to determine the worst part of potty training and I am torn.
Before ever beginning potty training, I would’ve predicted it was having a child that was completely un-potty trained. It’s hard to imagine anything worse than a baby diaper blowout.
There’s the soak-through overnight diapers.
The, “Oh, crap, it’s crap and the wipes have dried out” moment.
Or, “I am driving and the foul odor of rancid diarrhea is wafting through my car but I am not in any kind of position to stop driving and even if I do, where in God’s name am I going to change the child?”
That was all pre-potty training though.
Now, I am an expert and I have narrowed down the disgusting reality of infant excretions to two top contenders:
The Partial Poo and The Surprise Plop.
My son is ready to be rocking undies solo any day now, but he still has too many accidents to confidently leave the house sans diapers.
The Surprise Plop: When Huck tells me, “I gotta go poo poo” and I get excited and start encouraging him, rushing him along to the toilet. I pull off his undies and surprise! Plop. Onto the floor drops the nug he already squeezed out.
The Partial Poo: When Huck tells me, “I gotta go poo poo” and I get all excited until I realize his face is already red, eyes watering because he has since started to push it out.
This means I will attempt to get him to finish on the pot and end up using toilet paper to try and wipe off the poop that has already squished all over his little, white tush.
That never works, so he will have to hobble awkwardly back to the bedroom where I can snag the wipes and effectively give him what all parents know as the “wipes bath.”
Not to mention that while we’re doing all of this “training” we’re also cramming both kids full of chocolate as bribes.
So, it’s like poop and chocolate, poop and chocolate. It’s enough to make you turn lent into a yearlong event to give up sweets.
The best part about potty training? We’re not there yet.
I still despise that every time my daughter has to go to the bathroom we have to be involved in the wiping process. Lord knows if we didn’t get the job done, she sure as hell wouldn’t.
So, the best part of potty training? Probably comes at around the same time they get their driver’s licenses.
By then, there will be a whole host of new complaints about a lack of cleanliness.
I’ve learned the dirty secret to potty training and parenting in general.
My daughter has an entire closet packed with My Little Ponies from her toilet training days. It wouldn’t surprise me if the mere mention of Rainbow Dash made her want to tinkle.
We just started trying to potty train my son and thankfully his vice is infinitely cheaper. Chocolate!
We just happen to have a lovely stash of leftover Easter candy (in a Halloween bucket) to inspire him to ditch the diapers.
My daughter is cheering him on because she knows she gets the consolation piece of chocolate whenever he pees on the pot.
Is it worth potentially spending several weeks with insane children hopped up on sugar in order to be done with diapers? Absolutely!
If I never have to change another blowout diaper, I will be a happy lady. My son’s dirty diapers smell like spicy thai food. It’s no joke.
I have to say, Huck has been taking the transition like a champ. He will squeeze out a couple of drops on cue if it means he gets a chocolate egg.
I do wonder if this means he will someday be 30 and using a restroom, bewildered by a sudden urge to eat something sweet.
It doesn’t hurt that he gets to rock Buzz Lightyear undies during the process. He looks ridiculously cute in them, with one exception.
The other night at dinner, my daughter growled in disgust and pointed at my son’s crotch and said, “His hoo ha is out!” (Hoo Ha being the best name I could come up with for her private parts)
Why in God’s name would they make underwear for toddlers with a hole in the front for their junk to peek out?
It was like, “Hey guys, what’s for dinner?”
We’ve been calling my son’s private part his “piton.” (pee-tone) I won’t say what it means, but porn stars have them… apparently Robin Thicke as well. It’s something most English speaking people won’t recognize as a “dirty word” and it doubles as a compliment.
There was an equally disturbing sight on Sunday while the kids were playing with the water table in the backyard and I noticed Huck’s piton popping out of the top of his swim trunks. I guess maybe he really does have a piton.
Back to bribery. It has become my go-to technique.
The other day Alma was having a major meltdown at Target. For the first time, she was scanning the aisles for anything she could potentially want and demanding I buy it. We ended up with a My Little Pony watch she can’t read, some new undies that sag off her skinny behind and a pink rubber lizard.
I had no idea that lizard would become a supreme being to her. It was from that weird little dollar section at the front of the store. You know, where they stock crap for kids that will break within a day.
Within an hour of getting back home, Alma is sobbing hysterically because she lost her pink lizard. Tears streaming down her face for that useless, lead-tainted, neon pink Chinese piece of rubber junk.
I spent forever hunting for it. So did my husband. So did Alma. (while hiccuping through tears)
The end result? Mommy heads back to Target to buy a one-dollar lizard. (and a bottle of Prosecco)
I get back home and instead of embracing me with gratitude she says with the attitude of a teenager, “Cut the tag off.”
I leave her watching My Little Pony with the evil lizard to start laundry and lo and behold, the original pink lizard was in the washing machine.
It’s now a slightly gooier, perpetually sticky version of it’s newly acquired sibling.
I guess it’s better than what I imagined to be the impending end result…. my dog shitting out a half-digested glob of neon pink.
What have I learned from all of this?
Don’t take the kids to Disney.
Don’t promise a day at a water park.
Hit the dollar section at Target and stock up on extra holiday candy. The cheap solution to parenting.
I have an Easter hangover and it has nothing to do with alcohol.
I’ve had the revelation that far too many holidays or special occasions involve parents not sleeping.
Christmas: Buying presents without the children knowing about it is nearly impossible unless you shop online. Then you open the boxes to discover damaged goods, wrong sizes etc. but it’s too late to send it back and get the right stuff on time.
You also have to hide the wrapping paper or you will end up concocting some bullshit story about Santa having the room for a bazillion gazillion presents, but needing the hookup on wrapping paper.
You spend all night stuffing stockings, putting presents under the tree so your kids can wake you up before dawn and destroy EVERYTHING you worked so hard on.
The Tooth Fairy: It’s the ultimate test of your parenting ninja skills. You have to be sure they’re soundly asleep and then sneak like a burglar into their room and steal something under their pillow. If THAT doesn’t wake them up, then you have another shot when you place the actual money under the pillow.
Easter: Again, waiting until the kids fall asleep so you can put candy in Easter eggs and hide them all over the house.
The kids literally have chocolate for breakfast. I caught my son sneaking chocolate eggs on his own several times before 9am. He had a chocolate clown face smile.
Then, it’s off to abuela’s house where she has jelly beans and cupcakes and ice cream. The kids are eating bunny shaped lollypops and skipping naptime.
Back at home that night, it’s a complete fiasco. They’re hopped up on sugar, bouncing off the walls, refusing to eat any real food or take a bath.
My husband actually started to time it during dinner. They could only go about 5 to 10 minutes between crying jags.
By the time they finally go to bed (kicking and screaming) I am starting to get a sore throat.
This morning, I wake up sick and am so tired at work my eyes are rolling back in my head like I’m possessed by a demon.
Three cups of crappy station coffee later and I feel like I’m having a panic attack. I’m pacing back and forth in the break room like a zoo animal held captive too long. My leg has Parkinson’s. It’s doing a solo Lindy Hop.
Last night I asked my husband, “Did they have fun?”
What I am really asking is, “Did they have fun, because I’m in holiday hell right now and if they DIDN’T have fun we are officially becoming Atheists so we don’t EVER have to celebrate a holiday again!!”
The first word out of my son’s mouth this morning, “Chocolate.” He can’t even pronounce his own name properly, but says “chocolate” with impeccable diction.
From now on we will only celebrate National Lazy Day. It involves not cooking, not cleaning, not consuming sugar, remaining horizontal and periodic naps. At this moment, I despise all of you childless bastards because you can have Lazy Day WHENEVER YOU WANT.