I am a horrible cook.
It has only taken me 34 years to figure that out. Over three decades and the straw that broke the camel’s back was dished up by my ungrateful children.
Last night, I made meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn. The meatloaf is my mama’s recipe which I tweaked with a little Paula Deen diced tomato action.
As always, I serve the family first, then dish myself up a colder, congealing version for myself.
As I am making my plate, I hear my daughter say (before taking a bite) “I don’t like this!”
My husband says, “Me neither.”
I walk over and give Huck a bite and ask if he likes it. He shakes his head no.
Meatloaf is easy, but it takes a long time to cook so it’s already after 7pm and my family is boycotting my food.
I speed down Hillsborough Avenue, tears streaming down my cheeks to buy a Hot ‘N Ready cheese pizza.
I return to cheers of, “Mommy’s back with pizza!!”
I guzzle red wine, hold back tears and choke down my food with resentment.
It was not bad meatloaf.
It had peppers and onions.
That was my great failure, the unholy insult to their digestive tracts.
I have made spaghetti with real homemade meat sauce, chicken quesadillas, pineapple teriyaki chicken, sweet and sour meatballs, fried rice with honey teriyaki chicken, pesto pasta and just about anything else I can think of that children and a carnivore husband will consume and they think it’s ALL CRAP.
The real burn?
I actually think the shit tastes good. Maybe my tastebuds are busted.
It’s not just that the kids are picky or my husband has a profound aversion to vegetables.
They adore HIS cooking. Ropa Vieja, black beans and rice, Picadillo, Bistec Empanizado, beef stew… I could keep going. It’s all Cuban and it’s all amazing to the kids.
I happen to have already OD’d on Cuban food and prefer the more bland white folk meals, preferably meatless.
I think casseroles are cool.
I think I’m DONE cooking.
Boston Market, baby! Fish sticks and Mac n’ cheese. Hot ‘N Ready and breakfast for dinner. (cereal, because it doesn’t require a frying pan)
So, you’re probably wondering why this is a topic that would make me cry like a little bitch and shrink down into invisibility, diving into a pit of black, sticky despair.
I have come to the realization that I am old.
I am not a skinny, hot young thang anymore. I am all grays, crows feet and stretched out waist bands.
I am Renee Zellweger’s after picture without the plastic surgery.
I am not a driven, dedicated Journalist.
I am the guy wearing jeans and plaid, guzzling caffeine and just trying to get there on time.
I am not a quirky, acerbic, offbeat, indie chick with great hair.
I am a MOM.
That is my great accomplishment.
Just cause you squeeze them out like a champ (I really was quite fantastic at pregnancy and childbirth) doesn’t mean that you are an ace at being a parent. That’s now apparent.
I can control my temper, I kick ass at storytime, I am the ultimate caregiver when it comes to boo boos, vomit and general malaise.
But, I grew up thinking that if you can’t cook, you don’t belong in the kitchen and if you don’t belong in the kitchen, you might want to consider choosing a career-driven life over procreation.
So, here I am. Welcome to my mid-life crisis. I am 34 and suck at everything.
Well, at least everything anyone would ever notice.
I’m a voracious reader, a real bibliophile. So, there’s that.
Good to know I truly excel at something that won’t ever put a dime in the bank or benefit anyone other than myself.
I’m starting a support group: Mom’s Who Can’t Cook, or Do Just About Anything Else Well.
(p.s. I threw away all of the leftover meatloaf, tupperware and all. It was all I could do to keep from burning it in the backyard.)
We jump through hoops to ensure our children believe a chubby dude in a red suit squeezes his fat-ass down the chimneys of homes worldwide giving out presents, but only to “good” kids.
We convince them Fairies with a dentin fetish will steal their teeth in exchange for cash WHILE THEY SLEEP.
There’s also the giant rabbit who brings eggs, candy and dollar store tchotchkes to celebrate Spring. Nobody ever explains how the hell he gets inside and why he doesn’t also leave monster droppings behind.
Some of us also want to make sure our children have a handle on the whole “higher power” thing. God, meting out punishments on sinful kids and watching their every move like an invisible stalker.
Angels watch over them too, ghosts of dead people who provide nebulous support in times of need.
It’s a lot to ask.
Then, Halloween arrives and we have to tell them that all things scary are totally fake. Ghosts, witches, trolls, ghouls and goblins.
You have to explain that they will encounter copious amounts of blood, but it’s not real.
Our neighborhood will appear to be bat-infested, populated by hoarders who have allowed spiderwebs to overwhelm their porches.
Children will be required to solicit candy by threatening to assault or insult the strangers who answer the door. Yay!
It’s a fine balance, getting your children to believe in intangible phenomenon and then turn around and be able to recognize other horrors as imaginary.
Fortunately, I hit the jackpot with my daughter.
Alma believes in angels and Santa, but understands that monsters don’t exist. She adores The Nightmare Before Christmas and has started telling us that there are ghosts everywhere.
She’ll tap her foot on the car door and proclaim, “It’s a ghost! There’s a ghost in the car!”
Unfortunately, my son has not mastered the delicate balance between enjoyable fear and downright terror. He starts shouting, “Ghost in the car?” “No like ghost in the car!”
Alma enjoys walking into a dark room, grinning and sneaking saying, “spooky!”
Huxley notices the lights are out, says “scary!” and scrambles onto my lap looking over his shoulder.
I am notorious for accidentally terrifying my children.
I get amped up during severe storms and yell “thunder!” I made the mistake of explaining to the kids the real potential danger of being hit by a bolt of lightning.
I stressed the important of buckling up by warning them that they could be seriously injured if we get into a car accident.
(Hey, I work in news. Car crashes and lightning are a very real danger in Tampa!)
I went to play “dollhouse” with Alma recently and had to think fast for a motivation for my squirrel family arriving at her mouse family’s house.
Without considering the repercussions, my squirrel mom was pounding urgently on the door because the house had burned down.
Yeah, that was the storyline I chose for my daughter whose one fear is the smoke detector.
Thankfully, she was cool with it, explaining that “If your house is on fire, you wait until it stops and the steam stops and the water dries up and then you can live there… or just build a new house.”
For my daughter’s sake, I want to go as a creepy vintage doll for Halloween.
For my son’s sake, I won’t.
For my daughter’s sake, we started to watch Triplets of Belleville.
For my son’s sake, we turned it off before getting to the part where some raggedy-ass old bitches subsist on frogs.
I guess it’s enough that they hear the hushed sounds of blood-curdling screams from the movies I watch after I put them to bed.
It’s only a matter of time before they stumble bleary-eyed into the living room and encounter a serial killer clown and are scarred for life.
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.
Everyone has regrets. If they say they don’t, it’s bullshit.
That one time you drank so much you threw up in some dude’s bathroom sink? If you don’t regret it, chances are good you’re still doing it.
I can’t tell you how many time I’ve heard someone say, “I don’t regret anything, because my mistakes made me who I am today.”
Well, who I am today has shitty eyebrows. Plucking the hell out of them starting at age 12? Yeah, I regret that. I can’t get that back.
I want Jennifer Connelly caterpillar brows and that ship has sailed.
I regret using baby oil in my effort to transform into another ethnicity when I was in high school. I was dark and mysterious, and growing secret sunspots deep underneath that glowing tan.
Like a dormant “I told you so”, they’ve arrived to tell me that being WHITE was okay.
I regret getting a Journalism degree. I remember when one of my mother’s big wig Time Warner bosses warned me to stay out of the biz. I burst into tears after dinner and told my mom, “It’s too late! I’m a Junior in college!”
Bwooohahahaha. Too late? If only I could go back and bitch slap my former self and choose public relations instead.
Even better, I would go back and tell 8 year old me to get over the math mental block and start to really excel at science and computers.
I am fortunate none of my regrets landed me in handcuffs or with something that causes periodic “outbreaks.”
But, the regrets continue even today.
I regret that I wore flip flops recently to work and bit it on the stairs.
I regret just about any outfit I choose in the morning halfway through the day.
I am currently regretting growing my hair out. I successfully made it through the Patrick Swayze stage and have now entered the wet dog phase.
Perfectly dry. Still looks like this:
I regret putting my son in undies at his request last night. I was sopping up pee pee and stuffing Despicable Me minions and soggy shark slippers into the washing machine.
Now to the mother of all regrets.
I adore my children. They are my reason for being. I literally could not live without them. I wouldn’t trade them for anyone else’s children. Mine are exceptional. They are sunshine and laughter and all that is right with this messed up world.
That does not stop me from having brief moments of regret. I mostly regret being ill-equipped to handle the little bastards.
As they both sob in the backseat of the car during a dueling temper tantrum or when a battle over some crappy 99 cent toy from Target escalates to toddler fisticuffs, I genuinely question my ability to be a good parent.
I regret not having them younger, so maybe I could better handle their perpetual insanity.
I regret not having them older, when perhaps I would be better at letting things go.
I sometimes regret having them so close together. Double the diapers. Double the wailing. Double the daycare cost. As they get older, definitely double the trouble.
I will never regret having my children. But, that didn’t stop me from saying to my husband the other day, “I don’t think I want kids. What do I do now?” (A joke, of course. Kind of. Seriously, a joke.)
Talk about “No Backsies.”
Can’t take a Mulligan on human beings.
No Safe Haven for the little boy you can’t seem to potty train.
No Indian giving with the little girl with the bad-ass, pre-teen attitude at 4 years old.
Thankfully, we waded through hell and high water to have these babies.
Otherwise, I might start to daydream about going all runaway bride the next time my daughter says, “I don’t like you anymore” because I told her she couldn’t wear her pink cupcake tutu to go to the park.
It’s not debatable.
I am not biased.
My daughter is incredibly smart.
But, I am starting to think perhaps I have told her this too often.
I know you’re not supposed to tell your little girls they are beautiful. I do anyway. I tell my son he’s beautiful too.
Pretty girl. Pretty boy.
But, I do try to emphasize their other more valuable accomplishments.
“You’re so fast!”
“You’re getting so good at singing!”
“You’re an artist!”
“You’re so smart!”
The other night Alma and I sat on her bed and had a legit conversation.
I asked her about how she felt about specific things and she answered me thoughtfully and began to expound.
We got on the subject of birthdays and she informed me that her cousin Solange’s birthday was next, then her birthday was shortly after. She then proceeded to tell me what she wore for her two previous birthdays, where we lived at the time, what we did and how old she would be for her next several birthdays.
I asked, “How do you remember all of that?”
Her response, “I know everything, maybe.”
While it made me chuckle, it also terrified me.
More and more lately, she has started using the tone of voice that implies she thinks I am mentally challenged.
The other night I was searching in her room for one of Huck’s misplaced teddy bears. She said without looking up for her computer, “Uhhhh, he took it to school in his backpack, Mom.”
Replace “Mom” with “dipshit.”
That’s how it sounded.
She has even occasionally says, “I know that because I am so smart.”
I don’t WANT to stop telling her she’s smart. But, I am fighting the urge to say, “If you’re so damned smart, why do you act so stupid all the time?”
“Yes, you can draw one heck of a giraffe. Now, why do you throw a hissy fit if your pants don’t cover your ankles?”
“It’s amazing that you can count to 25 and beyond. Now, can you stop calling me into your room every ten minutes to inform me of something I absolutely didn’t need to know?”
(My son is not exempt from that one. The other night, he called me for the umpteenth time to make sure I knew that he… farted.)
“You’re so smart, why can’t you wipe your own hoo hah?”
“You’re so smart, why can’t you take your own shirt off over your head without getting trapped inside?”
“You’re so smart, why can’t you color by yourself, play by yourself, play with your brother, leave me alone????”
My husband has taught her the easiest way to close a marker top with her weak, little stick arms. Clearly, I don’t need to press the marker against a hard surface to put the top on. Every time I just snap it on, she says, “No, mommy. You have to do it like THIS. Ugh. You always forget.”
I love having a smart child. I hate having a smart child. Inevitably “smart” ends up “smartass.”
Au Revoir husband!
I prepared my lunch for work the night before.
I woke up at 5:30 a.m.
I was ready to leave by 6 a.m.
The kids were ready to leave by 6:30 a.m.
All of this was the case, yet I still managed to arrive at work a whopping 45 minutes late!
Loading the kids into the car:
Alma demands to “squeeze through” her brother’s side to get to her carseat.
Huck starts whining and fighting me because I won’t let him buckle the belt by himself.
Alma is refusing to sit down so I can buckle her because she needs me to lay the bottom buckle FLAT before she can sit down.
On the way to daycare:
I hit an intersection near the high school where a cop is directing traffic. By directing traffic, I mean letting EVERYBODY but me go.
How is that more effective than an accurately timed light? Now, some of us get shafted and others arrive early and it’s all determined by one pudgy dude with a badge.
After sitting for maybe 15 minutes, he waves me through with a smile. (asshole)
Alma wants to take multiple sips of her Orange Juice before getting out of the car.
Huck is outraged because I won’t let him UNbuckle the belt.
He starts screaming as I drag him toward the building.
Alma starts screaming because I’m not holding her hand as we walk the four steps from my car to the sidewalk. (I couldn’t because I was carrying her backpack.)
I march them bawling, into a room full of perfectly well-behaved children. The daycare worker swings around and shoots me an evil glare as I run to put the kid’s backpacks on their hooks.
Then Huck’s crying becomes more plaintive. Apparently, HE is supposed to hang his backpack up.
Alma has tears streaming down her cheeks and is hiccuping air, incapable of even explaining why she’s so upset.
Back on the road:
4-way stops where no one has a clue whose turn it is to GO. School zones. School buses picking up kids. Uneven lanes and construction.
Voila! 45 minutes late.
It’s not like I have a job where EVERY single second LITERALLY counts. (I do. Google “backtiming.”)
I spill an entire cup of crappy office coffee on my desk. (and my purse)
I have to leave early to get to the daycare before they close and start charging PER MINUTE.
At least I get to see their shining smiles when I pick them up, until my son starts chanting “I want daddy!” at home.
One of the only upsides to a husband out of town is the chance to consume enough garlic to ward off vampires states away.
I made sure to buy garlic on my lunch break and came home to find the last onion is gone. I only needed ONE onion. There is no way I’m schlepping the kids in their pajamas to Target for a damn onion.
In the morning, I once again have to drag my sleeping children from their beds. Unless they’re tending to the crops, it seems so wrong to wake up toddlers before dawn.
I’m prying pj’s off kids practically in comas. I feel like a date rapist.
I’m hoisting their limp bodies up to the sink to brush their teeth like a scene from Weekend at Bernie’s.
They can’t hit a snooze button, so they tend to hit me.
The worst part? We spend all week setting their little internal alarm clocks so Saturday morning they inevitably wake up at the crack of dawn.
But, look how cute they are, RIGHT?
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.
1. There is no inappropriate place to have a picnic.
2. You don’t need a cape to feel like a superhero. (but it’s also incredibly simple to create one out of an old swaddling blanket)
3. Embrace your personal sense of style.
4. Never lose your sense of wonder.
6. But, give them a chance.
8. Never give up, no matter how much you suck.