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

The News of the Day

So, I just finished up a story about a 19 year old accused of violently shaking his 2 month old daughter until she had a fractured skull, ribs and bleeding in the brain.

Gaskins

I’m still waiting to update the story on the 150 people killed in a plane crash in the French Alps.

french alps

Before I started that one, I wrapped up the arrest in the cold case murder of a 64 year old, unarmed hotel security guard who was shot twice in the back by a robber.

William Williams - Cold Case victim

In-between stories, I cried all over the desk after reading a friend’s blog about her friend’s 21 month old son who died unexpectedly last week.

Yesterday, I sobbed on the drive home after a stop at the vet’s office to get my dog’s medication. I saw a woman holding a little boy on her lap in the parking lot as they wept over a dead pet.

When I have a spare moment, I am overwhelmed by sadness over my mother’s struggle to care for my grandparents alone.

They have Alzheimer’s and dementia.

She works full-time in the news business too and comes home every night to soggy adult diapers stuffed in the dog food canister and profanity-laced tirades from my grandmother who is perpetually threatening to kill herself or escape. (When she’s not berating her husband, who has no memory of her insults just moments later.)

grandparents

Last night as I worked out, I sweat, cried and worried for a friend whose marriage is falling apart.

Along with the endless sorrows of this life, I had to fight off panic today when I realized I missed a phone call from the day care because Alma was screaming that her eyes were burning for some unknown reason.

Then, I cried because I feel like a shitty parent. For missing the call. For not being able to rush to the school to pick her up.

Then again for the mother I don’t even know who just had to bury her son.

I am worn thin from the misery, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I love hard, even though it means I hurt deeply.

I care for complete strangers and take pride in my empathy.

I hurt for my family and friends, but I also celebrate their joys like it’s my own private party.

And at the end of the day, when I put my daughter to bed, she will give me a real hug and a kiss on the cheek and tell me she loves me and it will be enough to prepare me for another day of tragedy and despair.

alma

My son will ask me to read him a book and rub my arm nonchalantly and lay his head on my shoulder and I will feel like I can walk around with the weight of the world on my shoulders forever.

huck

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Kids Are Creepy

So, you survived the endless pooping newborn months.

You managed to tackle toddlerhood without your child escaping diaper-clad from your home or flying down a flight of stairs.

Time to celebrate?

No way. Now, you’ve reached the creepy kid stage.

Children are basically small stalkers and perverts and they get a free pass.

Allow me to use my own as examples:

My kids constantly want to watch me bathe. I don’t have a clue what they find so fascinating about my personal bathing habits, but it’s not cool and locking the door is the ONLY option.

They also want to watch me use the potty. Again, my bodily functions don’t vary much from anyone else’s, so I don’t understand their obsession.

They’re also obsessed with their own bodily functions.

Each child, every time without fail, feels the need to share the number and size of their poops. “I did three! One big, two tiny!”

I’m like, ‘Uhhh, I don’t care. I just know I can’t wait until you can effectively wipe your own butt.”

Just about whenever I get my son undressed for his bath, he points to his chest and says, “What’s this?”

“Your nipple?”

“What’s this?”

“Also your nipple.”

“Do you have nipples?”

“Yes.”

“Does Alma have nipples?”… and so on and so forth. Bathtime is one long list of people who have nipples.

Last night, I bent over to pick him up off the couch and he reached into my shirt and said, “I want to touch! Squeeze! Squeeze!” Nothing like getting goosed on the boob by your kid.

They love to share their bodily functions. Alma sees nothing wrong with wiping her snot on my blanket. Occasionally she will drag her hand across my cheek, leaving behind a wet streak. I will ask her why her hand is wet. “I licked it.” (‘Cause that totally makes sense.)

Huck doesn’t mind that I use the bath towel to remove the shit-ton of wax from his ears, as long as I can show him what it looks like afterward so he can say, “Ewwwww.”

Children are also morbid.

The other day as we were walking through the park, I noticed a black snake writhing in the parking lot, it’s head squished by a van that had backed up over it. I tried to urge Alma to walk away and she started whining, “I want to see it! I want to see it!”

She also told me about a classmate who killed a lizard at school. She went into graphic detail about how he chopped off its head.

Then she told me that same story again… and again… and again.

Children are not only creepy, stalking, morbid, perverts. They also know how to REALLY bring the awkward.

Randomly the other day, Alma turned to me and said, “So, when I grow up will I have someone in my belly?”

It’s sweet that she already aspires to become a mother someday. It’s adorable that she’s planning her brood. It’s totally NOT a conversation I want to delve into with my FOUR year old.

In conclusion, you thought you were done with the yuckiest part of parenting? Nope, now they can just TALK about all the nasty stuff that comes with being human. Welcome to Kids Are Creepy.

I Don’t Even Want to Look at Your Face!

So, we’re at some family-neutral restaurant eating wings when Alma starts to act up.

She’s sliding around the booth like an eel, smacking her chin on the table, worming her way onto the filthy floor.

I threaten her with a “bathroom time-out.” Before she even blinks again, she’s grinning maniacally, slithering back under the table.

So, I drag her to the bathroom and go inside a stall with her. Instead of whimpering and apologizing, she’s grinning at me with hate in her eyes.

She’s in full-on batshit crazy mode.

So, I tell her I am going to leave her alone in the stall for her time-out.

I close the door, waiting for her to at least utter a half-assed ‘sorry’ when instead, she says “I don’t even want to look at your FACE right now!”

At which point, I drag her back out and my husband and I tell her she’s not going to attend her friend’s birthday party. That’s where we were heading next, so I drop off my husband and son at the party and drive Alma home.

She’s now raving like a lunatic, screaming, spit flying from her mouth, digging her hand into the back of her throat and gagging.

your face

I put her in her room for time-out, while she continues to shriek and flap her arms wildly in my general direction.

I tell her through tears that I wanted her to go to the birthday party, but her behavior is the reason why she can’t go.

She screams louder.

She screams for an hour.

When it turns to a shuddering hiccuping, I go back in and ask her if she knows why she got time-out.

“No.”

I said, “You were not listening, sliding around in the booth and then you told me you didn’t want to look at my face during time-out. You were mean to me. Do you want to be mean to me?”

“Yes.”

I said, “If you act badly, you can’t do fun things like to go to birthday parties.”

Alma: “I’ll just go to the next one.”

Seriously?

This was me sticking to my guns.

The most epic time-out of my parental history and she doesn’t give a shit.

If she’s this vicious and ungrateful now, will we be bailing her out of jail when she’s 13?

This weekend, we took the kids to the beach, to the park, out to lunch, bought them Big Hero 6.

alma beachalma park

We cooked for them, we bathed them, we cuddled on the couch suffering through episodes of My Little Pony and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

We do so much for them and so very, very little for ourselves.

I asked Alma if she had any fun this weekend at all.

Her response… “I didn’t go to the birthday party.”

She got another time-out at dinner for playing with her food. My husband threw her food in the trash.

I’m the mom who is secretly sneaking some leftover mac n’ cheese into the fridge, just in case she really is starving and apologizes or acts even remotely like a normal child.

I am the mom who cries as she’s tucking that tupperware into the fridge.

I am the mom who is tucking it right next to the rum I bought in order to make it to Monday.

I am the mom who is starting to feel like she’s losing as a parent.

My daughter can be so sweet, yet so evil.

So kind, yet soul-crushing.

I watched her at the park playing on the see-saw long after she was done so the other little girl could keep bouncing.

She will find a quarter in the mulch and look at me to see if she should put it back down, just in case it might be someone else’s.

She will rush to get me a band-aid if I have a hangnail.

Then, she transforms like Ed Norton in Primal Fear.

ed norton primal fear

Sticking with the Norton theme, she’s Tyler Durden from Fight Club, pouring lye on our hands.

tyler durden

Such a sweet face.

alma face

I know the devil inside.

It Takes a Village. Where’s the village?

My husband and I are drowning.

We’re being sucked under by a tidal wave of sick kids, pummeled by a tsunami of fake tears.

It’s a rip current of bad attitudes, wave upon wave of time-outs.

There are unexplainable belly aches.

belly ache

Cold weather crankiness.

cold weather cranky

Ear aches.

ear ache

Rainy days trapped indoors.

stuck indoors

Not to mention traffic jams caused by overturned trucks carrying baby formula and dogs with mysteriously enlarged spleens.

trafficsick frankie

This past weekend, we tried to make the best of what is becoming a bad life situation.

We took the kids to the horse track. (Trust me, it’s not about gambling. We look at horseys and pick our favorite. Alma always chooses the one with the pink number.)

There are no pictures, because I was too busy giving my kids a perpetual verbal beat down to snap a photo.

On the way there, my son keeps dropping stuff on the floor of the car and whining for me to pick it up.

My daughter whines that she wants her window rolled down. I have those old-timey hand-cranked windows, so I tell her no.

She says, “I can do it with my foot!” I say, “No, don’t roll the window down with your foot.” Seconds later, I can feel my hair start to whip around because… she… rolled it down with her foot.

My husband says, “That’s it, Alma. Time-out whenever we get back home.”

She responds snarkily, “5 minute time-out.”

My husband, “That just earned you 10.”

At the track, she whines that she wants to sit on the benches outside instead of indoors. (Even though it looks as though it might rain.)

She whines that she wants to go in the bouncy houses. (The ones that are surrounded by a moat of mud.)

My son whines that he wants juice, not lemonade.

He whines that he wants a different hot dog. (What the hell does that even mean? All hot dogs are created equal.)

He starts whacking his auditorium seat up and down, then standing on it.

She knocks over my water.

Huck gets angry at me for telling me he’s also getting time-out and smacks my arm.

This is when I threaten to smack him in the face. Loud enough for other people to hear. That is also when I start to cry silently.

I mean, I’m never gonna smack my kid in the face. I’ve never even popped him on the bum.

I am humiliated.

I feel ashamed.

I feel guilty.

I feel like the world’s worst parent and… I feel like drinking A LOT. (Which would ALSO make me feel like a bad parent.)

We ended up cutting the whole thing short and going home angry.

Both kids got time-outs so epic, they both took naps.

I took a nap too.

They woke up feeling rejuvenated.

I woke up feeling ill-prepared to handle another 4 hours with them before bedtime.

That evening proved to be everything I anticipated and MORE.

Frankie is on medication for his chunky spleen or injured spine or whatever they charged us $1,000 for and it causes excessive urination. So, it wasn’t a huge surprise when Alma pointed out the slow-moving puddle of dog piss in the kitchen. I was surprised by the sheer enormity of said puddle. It had to be about a gallon.

I was nearly done sopping it up when I ran out of paper towels.

It’s around the same time that Alma slips and falls while chasing her brother.

She’s scream-crying, her absolute favorite.

I tell them to stop running around.

I’m mopping up the rest of the dog pee with Santa Clause napkins when Huck slips and falls flat on his face. He has a bloody nose and is shrieking. I cradle him on my lap as he yells into my face.

At some point, it almost sounds like he’s trying to make words, but I can’t understand him through the screaming.

It turns out he was saying, “I have to go potty.”

It was too late.

He peed on my lap.

It made it to my undies.

There’s no way in hell I’m cooking after that. So, I rush to Target to get some Chicken nuggets and potato fries.

Huck takes one bite of one nugget and says, “I’m done.” (par for the course) He spends the rest of dinner smashing his food and getting intermittent time-outs.

Clearly, time-out is not working.

We have also removed almost all toys from their rooms. Next would be, what? Furniture? In a month, my kids will be living like orphans in the suburbs.

This is why it takes a village.

Mommy and Daddy are going to lose their ability to cope if they don’t get a goddamned date night.

But, my mom lives far away. His mom is recovering from surgery. My dad and his wife were booked this past weekend visiting my brother. (And frankly, they’re probably overwhelmed by the crush of grandchildren at this point.)

I had a friend invite us to hang out this past weekend with him, his daughter and his wife, even with our kids in tow.

How do I explain that it’s not possible because my children will suck every drop of fun out of whatever we do?

And how do I do that while still conveying just how much I adore my children?

I love them so much, so much that weekends like this past one just break my heart. Feel me?

A True Love Story

There was a girl who had grown increasingly disenchanted with love.

She was worn thin by the lies, the secret Facebook pages and popped collars.

She was exhausted by the perpetual showering of cheap ‘I love you’s’, the mind-boggling pro’s and cons lists and the overlooking of flaws.

In her sad state, she fled hedonistic, superficial Miami to Tampa with high hopes of finding new meaning in life.

There was a man in the new city, lured by her song, A Sunday Kind of Love.

Their eyes met, or his met her profile picture, her tush squeezed into tight capris.

He made the not-so-bold move and wrote the girl a message. It was no love letter, but it was articulate, humorous and a breath of fresh air.

She was already dating someone else, a “Go Gators” kind of guy, but the “conversations” with this mysterious man were too compelling to ignore.

When they finally met, she saw him across the patio of a crowded restaurant. The jazz music played as she spotted him, looking cool and serious. A Cuban James Dean with nothing to lose.

There was some awkward conversation, mostly carried by her as he stared disinterested at the bar behind her.

She thought the date was over when he turned to her and said, “I thought you said you were going to drag me to some dirty blues bar?”

She grabbed his arm and smiled and they rushed to the bar where the thrill grew and the fun began.

He tried to give her a fist bump and she had flash backs to jocks past. She said she’d rather be spanked as a salutation, so he did.

As they closed down the bar, they ended up having a chat with the dirty blues band singer, his Captain Ahab beard catching the ash from his cigarette.

The Captain said unsolicited, “You guys are gonna make cute babies.”

The mysterious man performed an impromptu Judo throw on the girl as she walked to her car and they kissed.

It was brief, but the spark was there.

As he drove off in the opposite direction, the girl felt the rush of excitement, the feeling of knowing, the visions of a future all laid out like a dream come true.

She saw herself living in his loft in Ybor, nights spent cooking together, drowsy mornings cuddling in the dappled sunlight.

ybor loft

Once that became a reality, it wasn’t long before she saw the wedding, their 1920’s bungalow and a baby.

wedding

Before she could hardly realize what had happened, she was married to the man who spanked her on a first date and they were raising two very cute babies together in yet another home in the suburbs.

It hasn’t always been easy. Those cute babies can be demons. Work paired with infants can be a major impediment to romance.

alma and huck

But, she still sometimes has to pinch herself when she realizes she has married that mysterious man, who can still surprise her with his wit.

Now, there are day care date nights, sneaking “quality time” in before commandeering the jukebox at the bar and catching up over dinner and sometimes… sometimes, they still laugh so hard in bed at night their cheeks hurt and fall asleep soundly with the heat of their bodies to keep each other warm.

rolando and I

When Parenting Just Sucks

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.”

fournager

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.

alma and huck

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.

unicorn

We refer to this as a “unicorn.” A magical, fleeting moment where they were playing without fighting.

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!

huck pouting

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.

huck earache

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.

adorable kids

I need… more… time.

Be a Kid Again, I Dare You

Dreams where you can fly and naptime aren’t the only things that melt into memories when you reach adulthood.

While you can’t get away with throwing fists-on-the-floor temper tantrums or a sea of stuffed animals on your bed, (unless you’re cool with being creepy) there are some things I feel we have every right to bring back from our youth.

1. Forts. When did it stop being cool to read underneath a blanket hooked from couch to coffee table? What could be more cozy than creating a blatant hiding spot in your own home?

blanket fort

2. Tiny boxes of cereal, especially the naughty kind. I’ve never stopped thinking Apple Jacks are amazing. It’s time to ditch the Kashi and go full-on Fruit Loops! (The tiny boxes will make you feel less guilty anyway.)

cereal

3. Trampolines. I know, I know, we’re all over the weight limit. We’ll bend the springs and break bones, but bouncing didn’t stop being a blast just because it comes with some jiggle now.

trmpoline

4. Slip N’ Slides. Avoid the jiggle of bouncing and just slide your way to full-blown embarrassment. You’re going to end up in the grass, but really, why is getting dirty such a big hairy deal now?

slip n slide

5. Fluffernutters. One simple mention of this gooey deliciousness had my brothers, mother and myself determined to buy a big jar of Fluff during the next trip to the grocery store. Feel guilty about ALL that sugar? It has a shelf life of like three million years, so just dip into it every once and awhile and know you’ll be set for the apocalypse.

fluffernutter

6. Dress-up. On Halloween, the vast majority of adult women dress like whores. I imagine part of the reason why is because they’ve been storing up the innate desire to play dress-up for decades and all they have left is the desperate desire to look hott. Why can’t we don a tutu in the middle of a week when we’re feeling girlie or a cape when we feel ambitious?

dressup

7. Exploring. I have been battling an urge to pull on my tall boots and go traipsing in the woods behind my house for a year now. There are coyotes and deer and rattlesnakes and rabbits and I WANT TO FIND THEM. (Okay, maybe not the rattlesnakes)

exploring

8. Painting. I suck at painting, but when you sit me down next to my 4 year old and we’re going head-to-head, I’m the frickin’ Vermeer of watercolor.

alma painting

9. Passing notes. Can you imagine how thrilled you’d be if someone at work had something hilariously naughty to say and chose to write it in a little note, folded up like a little origami, slipped sneakily onto your desk? If they included the check, “yes”, “no” or “maybe” they would instantly become the coolest co-worker ever.

origami notes

10. Roller skating. Google Computer Love by Zapp & Roger. Now, turn it up. Now, picture the disco ball, the sound of those skates on the wood and then feel the rumble of the tile as you head to get a soda and some churros. Tell me, you don’t want to be able to pull this off still.

roller rink