Category Archives: Funny Kid Stories

Five year old theology

We are driving home from dropping Jewel at ballet practice.

“Mama, I have something to say,” Jorie says.

“What is it?”

“I know a lot of things about God.”

“Oh, yeah? What do you know about God?”

“I know God loves everybody and that is most importantest thing of all the things I know.”

Oh, yes. Five year old theology is good enough for me.

The way these guidelines are going, Mama’s gonna need a carseat!

[NOTE: this post is not serious. I DO advocate car seat use. Please don't endanger your children's lives by taking my smart ass humor seriously. Thank you. Carry on.]

Has the whole car seat thing gotten a little out of control?

I mean, dude, the way these new guidelines are going, Mama’s gonna need a rear facing, five-point harnessed car seat. Latched. Into the back seat.

This gives a whole new meaning to the term: Back Seat Driver.

Look, I’m a little woman. In high heels? I’m like maybe 5’5.” Even my eleven year old is taller than me!

The only way I see myself staying out of a car seat is by getting fat (not an entirely bad idea: I’ve actually been SEARCHING for an excuse to take myself off my diet!).

Maybe I’m just stupid about physics (VERY LIKELY), but I’m just wondering how far these guidelines will keep going before they become entirely impractical.

As my friend Kat noted, “Toddlers are strapped into cars as if they’re blasting into outerspace.”

For reals.

Last week I told my kids that when I was their age? I rode in the open bed of a pickup truck down the freeway to the beach. My kids were shocked. SHOCKED! And scandalized. Like, MOM! OMG! YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN ARRESTED!

I know, I know. Those 80′s, man. They were some wild times.

Look, I’m ALL for safety (I will, begrudgingly, adapt to the guidelines). And yeah, if I saw a mom letting her kids ride in the open bed of a pickup truck, I’d get all upset and think she was being totally neglectful.

But. Still.

My opinion is? Car manufacturers need to GET.WITH.THE.PROGRAM. Like where, for example, are the cars with exterior air-bags? Because I see that solving lots of problems. Instead of car accidents, we could have fun little bumper-cars that go all marshmallow-y on each other. And then our kids would be like: wheeeeeeeeee!

OK, maybe I’m being unrealistic.

Am I being as unrealistic as these crazy-ass guidelines that pretty much require the strength of Hulk Hogan just to wrestle, wrench, tighten and strap these car seats into place?

For a petite woman like me, carrying my twins’ car seats around practically broke my back. They were so heavy! It was like moving heavy, industrial equipment. Without a dolly.

Ouch. Just writing about it makes my shoulder hurt.

Or maybe I’m mistaking that pain for the ache of nostalgia. Ah, for the good old days when my sister and I freely romped around the back seat, slept on the car floor, rolled over into the “way back” and made silly faces at other cars through the rear windows!

My children are so deprived.

[oh, look! comments are open! do say hello! it’s been so long! :)]

Earning her way…and her pointe shoes

I told her it wouldn’t be easy, that even when we love something passionately, we must still work hard for it.

And she agreed. She practiced at home, stretching and doing exercises on the floor and in the hallway, using the windowsill as a barre.

I told her she had to keep her grades up, prove to us that she could handle it.

And she agreed. She’s kept a nearly 4.0 GPA for the past 2 years.

And then, I told her that dancing lessons were expensive and that we’d have to work to earn her tuition.

At first, she was perplexed. “But none of the other girls have to work for their lessons,” she said.

“I know,” I answered. “But none of the other girls have five children in their family. The fact that we get to work for your lessons is actually a generous opportunity from the studio owner. We should be thankful.”

She nodded, quietly.

“There’s no shame in working for something you want,” I said, trying to coax a smile out of her. “In fact, it’s a noble thing, really. We get to work so you can dance five times a week!”

She nodded again.

It took several weeks before she settled into the work routine with a smile. Every Saturday we work in her dance studio scrubbing toilets, vacuuming floors, wiping down mirrors and windows.

I waited for her smile, hoping she would see the value in earning her way. One Saturday I was sick, but I still took her to the studio and we cleaned together.

“Mommy,” she said afterwards, “I’m sorry I had a bad attitude. I can’t believe you’re doing this for me…even when you’re sick!”

I smiled at her. Was she finally getting it?

“I’ll never complain again,” she promised. And she hasn’t.

Last week she earned her pointe shoes.

She’s been smiling ever since.

Wonderboobs

I have a complicated relationship with my boobs. For one thing, they arrived late and I’m nothing if not punctual. I detest, abhor, and refudiate being late: I am particularly persnickety about chronically late people, late planes, late checks and mostly, late boobs.

Life is too short to not have cleavage. I was in such a hurry to have boobs that when I was 8, I started jumping up and down in front of the bathroom mirror looking for signs of bounce. Zip. Zero. Nada.

When I was about 10, my mom got this book on puberty and I spent all kinds of time studying it, carefully watching my growth and then marking in the date when I’d achieved various stages on the boob growth chart. I was very proud of my progress. Also? I was an obsessive little kid with an emotional needle set on the highest frequency. Any little pang, any little soreness was met with unbridled triumph! YESSSS! I’M GROWWWWING!

And I’d go running into the bathroom, jump up and down, look for signs of Bounce with a capital B. All I got was lower-case bounce. Still, I waited. I hoped. I did the exercises: I must, I must, I must increase my bust.

Alas, I never reached the final stage on the boob growth chart. My boobs just quit growing. I’ve never felt so phenomenally cheated, so betrayed. The chart had promised me melons. MELONS! And instead?

My friends started calling me: “Grapes of Wrath.” It was a crushing humiliation.

My girlfriends comforted me with assurances that big boobs were not awesome. They’re uncomfortable! They’re heavy! They hurt my back! You can have my big boobs if I can have your flat stomach and little waist!

I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the underwire.

But wishing for big boobs was silly, really. What could I have done with them? I was a Super Modest fundamentalist. Which is short-hand for: We Strap Down Our Boobs With Duct Tape So We Don’t Stumble/Defraud/Cause-A-Man-To-Sin.

(Because, duh! It’s always the woman’s fault if a man lusts after her.) I remember this one time when we were discussing rape in our youth group and someone said: “Yeah, well. Was she dressed immodestly?” And that pretty much settled the problem of rape. If a woman dressed immodestly, it was her fault for getting raped. Obviously.

The point is, I was totally at war with myself. On the one hand, I wanted to be beautiful and womanly. On the other hand, I wanted to tamp down, duct tape and smother any sign of my feminine form. It was a recipe for psychosis, is what that was.

But finally, at long last, I received my wish. I got pregnant and my boobs? THEY MAGICALLY TRANSFORMED! Oh, the cleavage! Oh, the raw, primal, majestic booby-licious-ness! I felt so sexy, so womanly. This was SO much better than a tiny waist!

Best of all? They BOUNCED, yo. With a capital B!

I was the worst sort of cleavage-barer while I was pregnant. I was all: I’m sorry, did my HUGE MELONS just randomly fall out of my shirt? OOPSIES! You cannot believe how thrilled I was when I got pregnant with twins because seriously, there’s no way to cover up nursing twins. I would just plug ‘em in and walk around reveling in the freedom, the glory, the sheer awesomeness. (At home, peeps. Not in public. Sheesh.)

And then one day, it was all over. No more nursing. No more pregnancy. No more bounce.

Nowadays, it’s more like: flap, flap.

The good news: I totally don’t mind anymore. I love my stretch-marked, used up, flappy little boobs. These are my hard-earned battle scars. I’ve breastfed five human beings with these boobs. FIVE human beings are alive because of my Grapes of Wrath.

And that kind of super-power? Pretty much kicks cleavage’s butt.*

*although, I’m still saving for a boob job*
**for my next life, i mean. the one where AFTER i’ve ended poverty, brought about world peace and adopted all the children? then I’ll get my boob job**
***until then, you can call me Raisins of Wrath***

How being an at-home mom isn’t always the best for kids (or moms)

I am a stay-at-home mom. I used to think I made this choice because it was "best" for my children. I'm beginning to realize that even having the option to make this choice was nothing short of privilege.

Let's make this entirely clear: it's a luxury to be a stay-at-home mom. It simply means we make enough money to live on one income and don't have to choose between working to feed our children or staying home to raise them.

In other words, where I am today is largely the result of factors outside my control: my husband's good job and being born in an affluent area. It would be so easy to take the credit for all this, to say that I made these noble, virtuous mothering choices in the best interest of my precious children.

But that would be a lie.

The only reason I was able to make those choices in the first place was because I wasn't scrabbling for mere survival. Sure, I wanted to be an at-home mom. And as a young woman I made certain sober-minded choices that helped me achieve that goal. 

However, life could have easily handed me a different set of harsher circumstances. And I probably would have had to make different choices; ie. work outside the home.

Would that make me less of a mother? Would I love my children less because I had to work to feed them?

No.

Sometimes I think we lose sight of the fact that even having the option to choose what is "best" for our children is a luxury. Are our children really "best served" by being given the "best" of everything?

I have to be honest and say that in some ways I think being an at-home mom has actually placed my kids at a DISADVANTAGE. For one thing, they've started to take for granted that I'm always going to be here to wash their laundry, fix their meals, help them with homework and run their lunch to school if they forget it at home.

Don't get me wrong. I love tending their needs. But it's my job to raise responsible, independent adults–not molly-coddled leeches. Sometimes I wonder if they will lack the "street skills" (for lack of a better word) to fend for themselves, to solve problems on their own, to be independent without always needing Mommy's help.

In that regard, the child of working parents is building a skill set my kids don't have. Is that skill set qualitatively better? Maybe.

Let's just say I hope my kids don't fall apart in college because I'm not around to help them manage their lives.

Still, I don't regret my "decision" (insofar as it was a decision and not just a privileged option that happened to align with my beliefs and desires) to stay home with my children. It was awesome to be there for all their little "firsts."

But I also know that it was exhausting. And I couldn't have done it for much longer. As much as I feel guilty for saying it, the truth is that I'm a happier mother (and a happier person!) now that all my kids are in school everyday. Or maybe I'm just not chronically exhausted anymore and can actually feel again.

Either way, I feel better.

It's pretty cool to go pee without 5 kids barging in. And I can get dinner on the table every night now that I have time to prep it each morning.

CONFESSION: we ate TONS of takeout food when we had lotsa small children. I WAS TOO TIRED TO COOK! (and guess what? my kids ate the occasional mcnugget and the world didn't end)

Ultimately, I really enjoyed this recent article about motherhood in the Wall Street Journal: "Do the best you can. There are no rules."

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Make Snuggle Not War

I'm a snuggler. It calms my brain. Also, it keeps me warm. 

However, some people don't like snugglers. We snugglers are often misunderstood.

This is how you can identify an Anti-Snuggler: "It's hot! Get off of me!" or "Don't cross this line down the middle of the bed!" or "Ewwww! You snuggle?"

My sister was the first Anti-Snuggler in my life. She practically made me sign a notarized Non-Snuggling Agreement like every time I got scared at night and asked to share her bed. She had a codified, alphabetized list of 25 Rules & Regulations For Proper Sleeping Protocol. 

These included (but were not limited to): no touching, no snoring, no weird breathing, no movement of any kind. In other words, I was supposed to be like a robot and unplug myself before bed every night.

I used to lie awake until she was asleep and then I'd stealthily creep one little toe across The Sacred Line down the middle of the bed. HA! VICTORY!

If I was feeling especially brave, I'd walk two fingers across the Sacred Line and try to rest them on her arm without waking her up. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes I had to do her chores the next day for breaking my word.

She was a relentless enforcer of her Anti-Snuggling rules.

Of course, I thought it would all be different once I got married. That was before I read The Purpose Driven Snuggle and learned that for men, snuggling requires a purpose. A destination. A reward. AHEM.

Snuggling just for snuggling's sake? WASTE OF TIME.

Can you imagine my devastation? First I get rejected by Anti-Snugglers and then I get manipulated by Agendized-Snugglers! So unfair. 

It's enough to make a girl cry during that movie Field of Snuggles. Because it was SO TRUE. If you snuggle, they will…

…well, they'll give you babies, that's for sure.

And therein lies a snuggler's salvation. Oh, sweet, precious little babies who like to snuggle! Babies who love nothing more than to be hunkered up in your armpit all night long. Or carried around all day.

Best of all, babies totally don't mind if you take frequent sniffs of their dear, fuzzy little heads. I'm serious, the baby smell sends a straight blast of oxytocin to my brain. Mommy wikes.

Sometimes I wish my babies could stay little. I tried sniffing my son's head the other day and he reared back in disgust.

"Ewwwww!" he yelled. "Don't snuggle me!"

Oh, why must they grow up so fast?

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Phantom Baby

The other night I was jolted awake by Something Sinister breathing near my face. I sprang from the bed doing my best battle-ready, Kung Fu kick. HI-YA! What wanna-be axe murderers don't know is that I actually suck at Kung-Fu. But I figure I can throw 'em off with an eardrum-shattering war whoop.

Or, at the very least, I can scare my husband into action.

Anyway, the Something Sinister turned out to be nothing more than a blanket-draped toddler, standing in silent vigil next to my bed. Weirder still, my war yell did nothing to startle her. She remained so positively, absolutely still that statues everywhere turned green with envy.

"What's going on now?" my husband muttered, sitting up with his hair sticking out in 15 different directions. Note: he wasn't surprised. Around here, we have rollicking adventures just about every night. 

"Oh. It's just the Phantom Baby again," I answered.

The Phantom Baby, for her part, did nothing. I picked her up and hauled her back upstairs. She remained stiff and unmoving in my arms. I placed her back in her crib with dire warnings not to get up again. Like a good statue, she said nothing. Clearly, she's enjoying this.

The first time it happened, I was so freaked out when I discovered her empty crib that I went running through the house calling her name. No answer. 

And being that I always LEAP to the WORST conclusion, I was like: a.) she's been kidnapped or b.) she decided to meet-up with some other toddlers for apple juice cocktails which means that c.) CPS is gonna show up at my house and declare me an unfit mother.

My life is over.

I was just about to collapse sobbing on the floor when I spotted a blankie-draped toddler artfully wedged between the couch cushions. Silent. Unmoving. Hardly breathing.

I was so relieved that I burst into laughter, tossed her around and went dancing through the house with her singing: YOU'RE ALIVE! YOU'RE SO CUTE! YOU'RE SO FUNNY! YOU'RE SUCH A SILLY LITTLE ANGEL!

In hindsight, that was a bad, bad idea. Because now? Now Phantom Baby thinks she's gonna get a party every time she decides to silently glide out of her crib. 

Yeah, it's a full-blown game: Look at me hiding behind the toilet in the pitch dark! Look at me crouched up like a tiny ball on my sister's bed! Look at me breathing in your face at 2 a.m.!

She keeps the blankie over her head (like we can't see her just because she can't see us?) and is silent as a mime. It used to be funny in a creepy sort of way, this strange little child appearing randomly through out the house. Now it's just downright annoying.

Guess what Phantom Baby? Game Over.

Mommy's gonna buy one of those tent things to shackle over your crib. 

From now on, bed-time=prison.

If she still manages to escape, I'll stop calling her Wretch and start calling her Wraith.

ISN’T IT TIME FOR SCHOOL YET????

In retrospect, not packing my summer schedule with scheduled activities was my stupidest idea ever.

Not having scheduled activities means that I've had to come up with new ideas every fifteen minutes.

NEWSFLASH: I'm out of ideas.

Worse, I feel like strangling anyone who throws fun, educational ideas at me. No, I do NOT want to make a homemade slingshot using only Q-tips and peanut butter. No, I do NOT want to spend more time at the local library. No, I do NOT want to pack a picnic for a lovely afternoon at the park. WE HAVE DONE ALL THAT LIKE 18 MILLION TIMES!

All I want is to send these children back to school. Where they belong.

And I want to send myself to solitary confinement.

[I can't wait to see the flood of unsubscribe emails that come after I publish this post!]

Well, since school is still a month away, I've resorted to sending them off to do hard manual labor. The kids come ask me what they should do and I'm all: GO EMPTY THE DISHWASHER! SWEEP THE FLOOR! MEND MY SOCKS!

My goal is to make them so sick of summer vacation that they'll start pining for Ye Old School Days of Yore.

Mwah-ha-ha.

I've even considered buying a little whistle that I can use a la Captain Von Trapp to summon everyone. From now on, I'm parking myself on the couch and blowing on my whistle to boss everyone around.

Look, I don't know what I was expecting but this summer has been anything but a vacation for me. There's no sleeping in. There's no lazy, breezy summer afternoons.

My days still start with a bang at 5:45 am. I'm up cooking and cleaning and chasing naked toddlers before most people open their eyeballs. You know you're a mom of 8 million kids when starting lunch prep at 8:15 a.m. sounds perfectly reasonable. Unfortunately, starting my day so early means I'm a raving lunatic by 2pm.

My long-suffering sherpa/husband calls 2pm-5pm The Red-Zone. He has proof, too. The text messages I send him from 2pm-5pm read something like this: AAAUUUGH!! I'M DYING!!! I HATE EVERYTHING!! HELP! HELP!

Frankly, I don't know why people talk about solitary confinement like it's a punishment thing. That sounds like a vacation to me.

I got so desperate the other day that I hauled everyone out for 8:30 a.m. Mass. They were like: "Why are we going to church on a weekday?"

And I was all: BECAUSE IF MOMMY DOESN'T PRAY, THE WORLD IS GOING TO END!

They all behaved so well that afterwards I felt all apologetic and took everyone out for (overpriced) bagels. James was like: "Well, I guess since we just spent half an hour praying we don't even need to thank the Lord for our food."

Yes, friends. I'm doing a bang-up job of passing the faith on to the next generation.

When life hands you barf, make barfanade (oh, wait. no. that doesn’t work. ew.)

OK, fine. When life hands you barf, put on your kids' dress-up clothes and entertain the sickies by doing "I'm a Little Tea-Pot." As a rap.

IMG_0470
In fact, you can just call me Li'l Tea Pot. I am short and stout, yo.

Unfortunately, my clever little rap was not a hit. It was a tough crowd, peeps. 

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Not that I blame them. Poor babies. If I'd been barfing for 48 hours, the last thing I'd wanna see is some lady dancing around in a tutu and prairie bonnet, rapping a whack-a-loon-Tea-Pot-shtick. No diggity.

Well, I tried. And afterward I got back to scraping puke off the walls, floor, blankets, car-seats, sheets and jammies. 

Here's the best part: I only gagged once! HOLLA!

Or not.

IMG_0476
 

Binding up the bwoken hearted

IMG_4492It was a grisly crime scene. Clumps of butchered hair, amputated limbs and the weapon: a pair of kindergarten scissors, all stuffed under my son's bed.

It was a game that had seemed funny at first. My son and a neighbor boy were tossing the twins' favorite doll around. Somehow, in the ensuing hilarity–a pair of scissors seemed like a good idea.

And the silly haircut was a riot. But it didn't stop there. A moment later, it wasn't so funny anymore.

That's when the guilt set in. They tried to hide it.

But they couldn't hide their ashamed faces. Especially when Mama got down on hands and knees and peered under the bed.

The whole wretched story came tumbling out. There were tears and wringing of hands. Mama kept her cool (just barely).

The culprits were marched downstairs. The neighbor boy was sent home. And the trembling son wept into his hands.

Mama washed dishes until she felt herself cool down. Best not to talk in the heat of battle. Those dishes never sparkled so well.

"Mommy…are you…are you disappointed with me?" he asks, tugging at my shirt.

I wipe my hands on the towel and kneel in front of him.

"I'm disappointed that you didn't make the right choice," I say. "That's your baby sisters' favorite doll."

He hangs his head. Utter remorse. "I know," he sobs. "I'm so sorry."

"Why did you do it?" I ask, as calmly and quietly as I can.

He shrugs. "I don't know! I knew it was wrong! I don't know why I did it!"

I draw him to me and hug him close. He whispers the rest of the story in my ear and that's when I discover why he did it. He didn't want to make his beloved friend mad by saying no. I nod. I understand this.

It's a lesson I had to learn early, too: the courage to do the right thing even when it's not popular.

We exchange some quiet words. Apologies are spoken and amends are made.

And then we try to explain it to the twins.

"Baby is broken," I say. "Baby has owies."

Jasiel stares for a moment and then reaches for baby, holds her tight. "Ohhhhh, baby! Ohhhh, bwoken baby!"

IMG_0417 From that day on, Bwoken Baby is Jasiel's special treasure.

Bwoken Baby gets long walks in the stroller all bundled up in blankies because: "She's code! She's code!"

Bwoken Baby gets rocked in Mama's rocking chair. Bwoken Baby listens to Jasiel "read" Cat Inna Hat.

Every time I watch Jasiel coo and fuss over that hopelessly mangled baby doll, I feel a strange sort of heart ache.

My 2 year old is just learning to speak. Yet somehow, she teaches us what unconditional love looks like.

And in that love, my son understands he is forgiven.