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.
I think my daughter might be the “mean girl.”
Her “report card” last week included a note that suggested we speak to her about sharing and “being nice” to her friends.
She recently told me at dinner that she tries to tell her friends to chew with their mouths closed.
“Nobody listens to me. I tell them over and over and over!!”
This weekend I got to witness some of the judgmental nastiness first-hand.
We went to a birthday party for her classmate at a Jump Zone.
Alma says all the time, “I’m not afraid of anything!” She’s a liar.
She’s terrified of the car wash, haircuts and bouncy houses.
She refused to go anywhere near any of the bouncy houses, instead lurking nearby and occasionally talking smack about her classmates.
I suggested she say hello to Kendall. I figured they were besties considering Alma recently told she wished her name was “Kendall.”
Alma: “Kendall always talks like a baby.”
Kendall’s mom was standing… right… there.
Me: “Oh, well…er… remember… you’re the oldest girl in your class.” (Why did I have to give birth to her after September 1st, dangit!)
Later, she spots the birthday girl in a purple crown and says, “I want one of those purple crowns.”
Me: “Well, she is the birthday girl. The crown is just for her.”
Alma: “No, I can just get it from her.”
Me: “You can’t just take her crown, Alma.”
Alma: “No, I am going to ask her for it. She will give it to me.”
I have to grab her by the arm and stop her from racing over to a bounce house she won’t go inside where she plans to strong-arm the poor chick with the Elsa wig out of her birthday crown.
What a jerk.
Her brother is in heaven, climbing the steps like a little diaper-clad monkey, out-bouncing middle schoolers.
Alma grabs him and asks enthusiastically, “Want to play hide and seek?”
Before even seeing if he’s game, she’s squatting near a bounce house counting. She shouts, “Here I come!” She never even considered the possibility that Huck didn’t want to play.
She ran to find him, threw angry hands on her hips and said with massive attitude, “Where did he go?”
I told her he went back to play inside a bouncy house and she yelled, “I told him to play hide and seek!”
My daughter is a bully.
How did this happen?
Sharing is like the introductory course to being a Corsa.
In our family, skipping the word “please” means you will go without.
Forgetting “thank you” means there’s a chance we will snatch back whatever they just got.
“Can I have a turn, please?” is our mantra.
I don’t even know how to begin a conversation with her about this.
“Alma, you can’t be such a bitch or everyone will hate you.”
“You’re kind of a bossy dick.”
“You’re a few mutilated animals away from becoming a serial killer.”
I don’t want to believe that she is a mean girl and I certainly don’t want to think that I’m somehow the cause of her behavior.
I would like to be the one to put a stop to it, but how do you delicately tell a toddler that she’s basically a 35-pound version of the wicked witch terrorizing the munchkins of daycare Oz?
When she’s being mean to her brother, I occasionally say, “Alma, you’re mean.” Huck always comes to her defense, “Alma’s not mean. She’s nice!”
Is he right? Am I overreacting?
It’s totally my job to keep her in line, but how do I do that when her social interaction is limited to the several hours a day I am NOT around because I’m working?
This same little girl spontaneously hugs me, kisses me, tells me she loves me and even compliments my sandals, clothes and hair… and apparently rules her school with an iron fist.
I usually try to tie these posts in a pretty bow, but there ain’t no flowery way to wrap up a post about my daughter, the Castro of the Corsa clan.
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.
My kids don’t do anything half-assed.
If they’re going to fall, they will throw themselves to the ground with wild abandon and shriek as if they’re being pummeled by a giant.
If they get into a toddler scuffle, there’s likely to be eye-gouging and kidney shots.
My son came down with a severe case of the pukes last week. This was not a “poor baby has a tummy ache and let loose a little white vomit” situation.
This was gallons of putrid, spoiled milk projectile vomited across beds, couches and clothes. This was five loads of laundry, five baths and google searching for hazmat gear.
This was no sleep for the entire night and the stench trapped deep in my nostrils for the following day.
Like I said, they go all balls out, these kids.
Once the vomiting stops, there’s another two days of explosive diarrhea accompanied by a Gitmo-level hunger strike.
I got to use a vacation day in order to stay home with him because my husband was out of town.
Then on Saturday, I got to spend an entire day with both kids as my husband played golf “for business” in Naples. (I only use the quotes because I envy any job where playing a sport outdoors qualifies as work.)
I thought I was in the clear when I took the kids to the playground in our neighborhood. Alma rode her scooter. Huck rode his tricycle.
Huck was beaming as I pushed him higher and higher on the swing. I must not have realized that glowing grin was hiding the smirk of a secret shit.
I smelled it as soon as I pulled him out of the swing. I went to pull his shorts back to double check and lo-and-behold, there was shit all the way up his back to his hairline.
I found myself so overwhelmed by this bowel movement that I sat stunned for several seconds on the park bench.
Where do you begin? I have one more diaper. No, wait… it just got shit-coated during the diaper change. No change of clothes. What do I do? Thank God there is a trash can.
The end result: Huck riding home topless with a poop-crusted waist-band and undies.
We don’t just poop in this family. We EXPLODE!
We also don’t just get a cold. We get a stomach flu, that morphs into an ear ache. (That was Huck over the past several days.)
Alma avoids the bug and instead gets Fifth Disease. (Why name a relatively innocuous virus something that sounds like the plague?) She looks like she just got double bitch-slapped and it spread into a face rash. Got some very interesting looks while schlepping her around the Marshalls.
I catch the stomach flu and end up rushing home from work after being there for about an hour. (Monday)
Everyone is finally starting to recover, so Alma gets pink eye. (Today)
We don’t get sick, we nearly DIE. For DAYS.
As a random aside, I thoroughly enjoy reading a colleague mom’s blog about the Pros and Cons of a Disney cruise. (After writing a blog about the fact that a Disney trip is one long list of CONS.)
My kids don’t just ruin a vacation. They make you decide that you will NEVER VACATION AGAIN.
I try to see the silver lining. The kids really do give everything their all.
I asked Alma to draw me a lion and I got…
a liger! Score!
Every parent imagines the day they can make their child’s greatest dream come true.
It’s the last wish of dying children.
It’s the first thing quarterbacks do after the big Super Bowl win.
Commercials, cartoons and movies have been subversively, subconsciously training us our entire lives to put the annoying mouse with the pre-pubescent girl voice on a pedestal.
After our highly-anticipated trip to Disney this past week, I consider those hidden messages from the “happiest place on Earth” to be more evil than the secret satanic messages when a song is played backwards.
Over the past month, we used Disney as a way to threaten our son into trying to use the potty.
We used Disney to get our daughter to stop whining.
I drew Mickey Mouse hats on our family portrait on the kid’s white board.
Abuela bought them luggage with Elsa and Anna and Teenage Mutant Engine Turtles on it especially for the trip. (I meant to say “Engine.” It’s what the kids still call them.)
None of this adequately prepared me for one of the most hellish vacations of my life.
Let’s start with boarding a bus packed with pale, sweaty, overweight tourists. Standing room only, elbowing pot-bellies and stepping on the slippered toes of white trash girls wearing Elsa dresses and Koolaid stain smiles.
The driver got lost, so we were bumping and jerking along the winding roads near the Magic Kingdom for an extra 20 minutes.
We finally arrived, battered and already sweating.
We were able to see the welcome train roll in with all the famous Disney characters onboard. I was glowing with joy watching my son shout, “Goofy! Pluto!” (While secretly wondering how many of the “actors” are actually pedophiles and whether the princesses have coffee breath.)
We enjoyed the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.
The Jungle Cruise was tolerable, despite sitting next to the bellowing Broadway-voiced failed comedian “guide.”
My daughter plugged her ears for the duration of It’s a Small World and that should’ve been the first clue that things were about to go terribly awry.
Shortly after, as we were preparing to go on the Peter Pan ride she said, “I want to go home.”
After much badgering, prying and film noir interrogation, I figured out that she had to pee and didn’t want to use the public restroom.
It was about 10 a.m.
Oh hell no! After the amount of money we paid to go on this magical, cancer-kid dream trip, you’re going to throw a fit because you prefer the comfort of a familiar toilet?
I dragged her screaming to the bathroom, where she proceeded to humiliate me by shouting, “I don’t have to go pee pee! It’s not coming out!” (Which is a crock of shit, but makes me appear abusive to all of the parents in neighboring stalls.)
The real reason why she refuses to go is because, “The potty is too loud.” She’s always had an aversion to any noise above a reasonable “inside voice.” Fireworks, loud music, loud movies in the theater… but nothing is more traumatic than a growling, loud potty.
Cruise ships are out of the question.
Airplane potties, never gonna happen.
Those toilets could suck out your intestines with a flick of the flusher.
We spent the next hour and a half trying to convince her to use a bathroom, dragging her to different potties, her berating me and bawling. She’s screaming, “Is the potty loud? The potty is loud!!”
The only thing that eventually worked was promising to immediately buy her a toy upon urination.
The children survived going to the haunted house, but only because we called it the “Hotel Transylvania.” (They LOVE that movie)
Instead, Alma was terrified of going on the Buzz Lightyear ride. She also had some kind of irrational fear that the People Mover was going to transform into Space Mountain.
Breakfast and lunch, both kids were on hunger strike. I resisted the urge to shout, “This shitty mass produced meal cost us 10 bucks per kid! You WILL eat it.”
So, here we are sweating and grunting our way through Walt’s version of wonderland while our children barely crack a smile. My feet hurt, I’ve sweat through my underwear and there is NO BEER. Don’t they realize that without a little bit of liquid CALM, parents are highly likely to resort to homicidal violence?
At one point, some self-important , acne-pocked UCF student is telling us we need to relocate our stroller because we are in the “dancing zone” of the Incredibles. Seriously, we’re interfering with the bubble-muscled Mr. Freeze’s electric slide with our inconvenient children.
Time to buy another 5 dollar bottle of water and daydream it’s vodka!
While planning the trip, I had visions of the kids passing out after watching the parade and fireworks, sleeping with satisfied smiles in the stroller.
Instead, my daughter is plugging her ears and frowning while the characters perform outside Cinderella’s castle. (The one that she’s pissed off about because we can’t go inside.)
We’re hightailing it to the bus before sunset, back to the resort so we can go out to dinner at a normal place where the shitty food doesn’t cost a fortune.
At Olive Garden, it’s our son’s turn to be a complete D-bag. He’s whining for no apparent reason, border line crying for the ENTIRE TIME. I end up taking a bunch of food back to the hotel room only to realize there’s no microwave. (duh)
In a lame attempt to salvage the “vacation” we get up in the morning and watch the kids pick at their pricey breakfast and then rent a two-person bike. So, we shred our calves and drip sweat along a path around the resort so the kids can argue over who gets to ring the ridiculous bell.
We go to the Arcade with our card for free games only to learn it has a total of 100 points on it. Each game costs about 40 points or more. Air hockey? 100 points.
It’s cloudy, but we brave the pool anyway. The unheated-freezing from all of the rain-pool. The pool with the bar that’s not open.
Later, the bar opens! We grab a couple of drinks and shuttle the kids to the “kiddie pool.” My son promptly tries to drown himself, twice. In the mad dash to rescue him before CPR becomes necessary, my husband knocks over his entire alcoholic beverage. (You know, the one that costs more than a year of college tuition.)
We finally bail when the sweet New Orleans jazz music is being drowned out by some kid-friendly club shit. (Not to mention the chattering of my son’s teeth.)
We decide to take the kids to the Rainforest Cafe for another authentic theme park experience. My daughter is plugging her ears and cowering every time the fake gorillas start to scream. She is still on hunger strike. The meal is super expensive and I will be tasting the garlic for days.
I can’t catch a buzz.
We can’t catch a break.
We pack up and leave for Tampa. We had another full night booked at the resort.
Money flushed down the toilet. The very loud, evil toilet.