Here, Have a Meme or Two

This one is a favorite and, sadly, is all too true.

Parenting math: ("Pick up your socks" + "Take your bowl to the kitchen" + "Stop punching your brother") x ten billion = a one way ticket to the Funny Farm

Bonus meme! Because I give like that. It's what I do. I'm a giver.

I've never said this out loud. Yet.

Five Ways Toddlers are Better Than Tweens

I’m just about to have four tweens, and as I look back at their toddler and preschool years, I think that while they were a bigger challenge in some ways, there were some things that were much easier to manage when they were little.

Toddler tantrum caused by your refusal to let him “ice skate” on the hardwood floor using the potholders as skates. Duration:  three and a half minutes. Ended by distracting him by showing him how he could be Godzilla and knock over block towers.

Tween tantrum caused by your telling him his computer turn is over. Duration: five minutes of him telling you you’re the worst mother ever, followed by an hour and a half of sulking in his room with his ear buds jammed in his ears. Ended by his finally deigning to speak to you to demand that you to drive him to his friend’s house to hang out.

Spelling Things
A friend of ours was taking all four of the kids to the movies, and she wanted to know if she should get them pizza afterwards.  She spelled out the key word when she asked.

She said, “Should we stop for p-i-z-z-a on the way home?”

“Janey, they can all spell,” I told her.

Gone are the days of negotiating activities or treats via spelling out important concepts in conversation. It was a lot easier to plan when I could spell out the destination without raising hopes. My kids overhear my husband and me talking about going someplace, or possibly doing something, and they immediately spin up with excitement over it. Then as the conversation progresses, if it turns out that in fact the plan won’t work after all, they are disappointed. If I could still spell everything, they wouldn’t know what was happening until I chose to reveal it, and I’d be spared their whining when fun things didn’t work out.

I know there are mothers who think it’s a crime to lie to their children, and I think they’re missing out on a great coping strategy. When my kids were little, they’d bring me their (loud, obnoxious) battery powered toy saying it had stopped working.

“Oh gosh, “ I’d say, “I think the batteries are dead. Guess we’ll have to wait for Daddy to come home so he can change them!”

When they asked if I could do it, I would say I wasn’t sure where they went, or where the new batteries were. I’m quite sure that they got to a point where they thought I was a total moron because I couldn’t figure out how to change the batteries in  Chicken Dance Elmo, but I really didn’t care. Because by the time Daddy got home, they’d forgotten about said toy, and I’d bought another day of respite from listening to it.

Then came the fateful day that they figured out how to take the battery panel off the toy and change them for themselves. True, by that time they’d outgrown Chicken Dance Elmo, but they’d replaced him with something equally noisy and irritating.

I may be in the minority here, but I preferred toddler and preschool babble to tween babble. Even though it was hard to really get a coherent story out of them, and it was often endless unanswerable questions, it was adorable and charming. Now it’s about Minecraft and Boom Beach, or a million “what if” questions. The adorable and charming moments still happen, but they’re scattered between lectures about going OP, how much bigger his headquarters can be once he gets to level 11, or what if the world ends tomorrow. I try to care about the video games, really I do, because I understand it’s something they’re passionate about, but it’s hard to concentrate for fifteen minutes at a time. I guess it’s sort of the way they feel when I say things like, “Don’t leave your Go Gurt wrappers all over the couch—they go in the trash can!” So hard to pay attention through the whole thing.

I admit to being a complete germaphobe. Public restrooms gross me out beyond words, even though I’ve read all the studies about how the pen at the bank is more unsanitary than the toilet seat in the ladies room at the movie theater. Combine this with the fact that my children aren’t what you would call obsessive about washing their hands after they use a public restroom, and I’m over here basting myself with Purell just typing this.

I never had these problems when they were in diapers. Sure, I was wiping their shit covered asses, but at least I knew the level of sanitation of everyone involved. I would far rather change a diaper on a blanket in the back of my car, because I know just how clean (or not) my car is. Public restrooms are a total crap shoot (sorry) and give me the heebie-jeebies.  And when they were in diapers I had some control over when the change occurred. While I didn’t want to leave them in a wet diaper for long, if we had to go an extra ten minutes before we got to a rest area, we could. Now if they have to go, we need to find facilities fast, and of course they’re never synchronized in their needs.

I know better than to tell my friends with small children about any of these things. They would scoff and remind me of the constant chasing, the inability of small children to get their own damned Cheerios, and any number of other disadvantages to having people around who are under three feet tall and have the self-control and maturity level of Sean Penn and Justin Bieber combined and then halved. They would be right, of course, and it’s just nostalgia that makes me think any differently. Although it would be nice to still have children who didn’t roll their eyes every time I opened my mouth. But I guess that’s the price you pay for not having to wipe their asses for them anymore.

My Children's 238 Favorite Toys

In June I made a Christmas wreath out of my kids’ old toys. (Yes, in June. Shut up. Between homework and holidays there’s no way I can do anything that even remotely resembles a holiday craft after October first.) I bought a wreath form, wide red ribbon, and a tube of pretty strong adhesive at Michael’s and brought it all home. After wrapping the form in ribbon (if you try this, be warned—you will need a longer length of ribbon than you could ever conceive of, and Styrofoam sheds like a motherfucker, so wherever you’re working will end up looking like an outpost of Santaland at the Macy’s in Herald Square) I tripped down to the basement to check out the toy situation.

Like many families, we have relegated old toys to plastic storage boxes in the basement. Once upon a time my super-organized nanny printed out pictures of things like Matchbox cars, toy people, and Mr. Potato Head parts and stuck them on the front of the boxes so my children would know what toys they were supposed to put in the bins, assuming they actually put toys away when they were done playing with them, which HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Of course they don’t do that. So now I have all these plastic bins with pictures of what’s supposed to be in them, but what’s really in them is a huge mishmash of plastic toys from the past ten years of accumulating child-related shit.

I dragged three or four of the boxes upstairs with me, and began rooting through them. I found some very big toys to use as anchors, lots of medium and small toys to cover the majority of the surface area, and a bunch of small stuff like marbles and dice to fill the gaps. On the dining room table, I grouped them and started experimenting with positioning. Kids started drifting in, and asked what I was doing. I explained, and continued with my task. As my kids started poking at my piles, I got down to the business of attaching toys to the wreath form. I was interrupted by what sounded like the wail of a wounded wild animal whose favorite toy is about to be glued onto a Christmas wreath for all eternity.

"What? You're gluing that to the wreath? NO! I want to play with that! I want that!"

Um, no, that is a McDonald's Happy Meal toy that has been kicking around in a plastic storage bin in our basement for three years. You don't give a crap about it. You just see it now and think you want it. If I let you keep it, you will play with it for another twelve minutes before you abandon it in the living room, where it will stay for four days until I get sick of stepping over it, and pick it up and put it back in this bin. Then it will be returned to the storage area in the basement, where it will stay until your father goes on one of his quarterly cleaning jags and weeds out a bunch of stuff to sell at a yard sale, and makes up a few bags for Goodwill, which is where this will end up. To save us all time and effort, and contribute to our festive holiday spirit later this year, this is going on the wreath!

I mean, Jesus, AMIRITE? The only thing worse than “OMG I haven’t seen that toy in forever but it’s totally my favorite toy that I ever got and I will die if you get rid of it” is the one where it’s a completely undesirable toy that they have zero interest in until a sibling expresses an interest in it at which point it becomes the best toy ever which they must have or they will simply curl up and blow away from the unbearable devastation of their loss. After all, the best toy to have is a toy that someone else wants, and by preventing them from having it you are inflicting a sadistic and strangely pleasurable form of torture on them. Kids can be such assholes.

I managed to make the wreath without having them absorb any of those toys back into their orbit, although there were a couple that were highly coveted. The remaining toys are back in the basement, never given a second thought once they were out of sight again. Just as I predicted.

Parenting Network: Shows for Modern Moms and Dads

Tune into Parenting Network for a great new line up this season! Parenting Network offers a range of shows specifically for parents, covering timely topics such as whining, temper tantrums, and teenage angst. There’s something for everyone on the Parenting Network! The best thing is that we understand how real life moms and dads live—our format offers ninety seconds of programming followed by a four minute commercial break to give you the opportunity to referee fights, clean up cat puke, and change the laundry. Grab a bowl of goldfish crackers and a juice box and join us for the fun this Fall! Here's a sneak peek at some of what's coming your way!

Teen Clean
Parents pay the show’s team to completely clean out, repaint, and update the d├ęcor of their teen’s room while the teen is away for a weekend. On Sunday afternoon the parent reveals the refurbished space to their child, resulting in the teen having a complete breakdown over the invasion of their privacy, and the disposal of their precious “stuff,” crying that their parents just don’t “get” them.

Tween Jeopardy
Using the same format as the iconic original, Tween Jeopardy’s topics target the interests of modern tweens and teens (Minecraft, the Kardashians, proper eyebrow grooming). The twist? When contestants present their answer-in-the-form-of-a-question, the other participants and the host tell them they’re wrong, and argue with them. The show will be moderated by a different guest presenter each week, including pop idols Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, and Zendaya.

What’s For Dinner?
Three moms are challenged to make dinner with what they can find in the show’s pantry (consisting primarily of Cheetos, canned tomatoes, snack size boxes of raisins, and mayonnaise), in between helping three children to complete math and spelling homework, and finish a science fair project assigned three weeks ago, completely ignored at the time, and now due the next day. The winner is the parent not actively having a nervous breakdown at the end of the show.

School Countdown
Kids have twenty minutes to get ready for school—get dressed, brush their teeth, collect their backpacks, and get to the school bus. Every episode offers a special challenge such as
  •          I can’t find my homework. No, I swear I left it right here.
  •          I need a green pot holder, four plastic soda bottles, and a traffic cone for a project today or I get a zero.
  •          Have you seen my shoes?
Viewers will be on the edge of their seats to see if the kids make it to the bus on time!

Are You My Family?
Join in the hilarity as four families swap kids around, sending them to live with other parents! The children discover that all parents are mean, make their kids do homework, and refuse to let them have unlimited screen time. Parents learn that all kids are whiny assholes sometimes, which of course they already knew.

Easy Living Summer
Follow the summer vacations of three families. Watch the parents’ resolve slowly deteriorate until the kids are eating popcorn and American cheese slices for breakfast, watching television and playing computer games all day long, and staying up until midnight every night. Share their pain as the kids morph into unresponsive zombies, hell bent on unlearning every particle of information from the previous school year. Each show ends with the parents confessing the complete abandonment of their will to live. You’ll cry and plead for the sweet release of death along with them!

Holiday Weekend Placeholder

As we reach the "other end" of summer, like so many of you, I will be grilling things and eating pie and such. Here's a meme I made of a tweet I wrote about an experience I had. I hope everyone has a happy Labor Day weekend!