The Secret to Being a Good Mother: Cake and Tiger Bites

From the time she was born, I have had moments of feeling like I don’t know how to be a good mother to my daughter. Those moments seem to be happening more and more often these days.

The irony of the situation is not lost on me: that she is so much like me, yet at times I seem incapable of parenting her in a way that doesn’t end up with frustration and tears across the board. I should know her better. I should know myself better. Continue reading “The Secret to Being a Good Mother: Cake and Tiger Bites”

“Bad Catholic”

Sometimes I feel like a bad Catholic. Sometimes I don’t. But either way, I always delight in both Almond Joy and Mounds. I feel pretty sure that God put chocolate on this earth for me to eat without discrimination.

I haven’t really blogged much about my religion, other than to talk about why we chose Catholic school for our children, my son’s ongoing battle with church etiquette, and the time I witnessed my kids taking liberties with the sacrament of First Communion. Even then, I didn’t delve into my own deep-seeded beliefs…because they are MY beliefs. I don’t feel a driving desire to always tell others how I live out my faith, and I find spiritual life to be an intensely personal thing. I guess you could say I Continue reading ““Bad Catholic””

The Myth Is Over, But The Magic Remains

This is it, I thought to myself. I just had this feeling the moment was upon me. But I never would have guessed Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to be the impetus for the conversation.

On the television screen was a warehouse full of mall Santas in various costumed states, running an underground knockoff toy ring. Jim Belushi was trying to con Schwarzenegger, the desperately gift-less father, into buying a cheap replica of Turbo Man for his son.

So many Santas. So many obviously fake Santas. I could sense my daughter recognized the perfect moment of opportunity. Continue reading “The Myth Is Over, But The Magic Remains”

Someone Needs To Stick Up for White Picket Fences

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles written by stay-at-home moms and “mommy bloggers,” exploring what it is to be those things. Struggling with what it is to be those things. Not liking how the world views what it is to be those things. And defending what it is to be those things. I guess since many of us now find ourselves with our children comfortably back in school, that insane need to answer the loaded question “what do you do all day?” has made some of us feel the need to champion for ourselves. Continue reading “Someone Needs To Stick Up for White Picket Fences”

I Am Afraid I May Have Wished It All Away

I wish he would start sleeping through the night…I wish she would hold her bottle on her own…I wish he would learn to sit up…I wish she could tell me exactly what she wanted…I wish he would figure out potty-training…I wish she could pour herself some milk…I wish he would watch something besides “Thomas the Tank Engine”…I wish she went to school for longer than two-and-a-half hours… Continue reading “I Am Afraid I May Have Wished It All Away”

A Tale of Two Kindergarteners

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Michael started Kindergarten four days ago. It hasn’t been good. There has been crying. And pleading. And death grips. I know this is not out of the ordinary. I know starting Kindergarten can be overwhelming for a lot of kids. I know riding the bus can be downright scary for a little person who still needs me to wipe his rear after #2. I know. I just didn’t want it to Continue reading “A Tale of Two Kindergarteners”

Why It’s Time for My Kids to Go Back to School

I have a history of loving Summer. I loved Summer as a kid because, well, duh. Then, after eighteen years of schooling, I decided to stay in school and teach. I loved Summer as a teacher because, well, duh. And the whole Summer deal was sweetened by the fact that my birthday occurs during it.

But then I stopped teaching and became a parent. Suddenly, summer wasn’t what it used to be. Before my kids were school aged, a Summer day was simply like any other of Continue reading “Why It’s Time for My Kids to Go Back to School”

What Would My Blog Self Do?

vbiI have been thinking about my VBI lately. You know, my Visual Business Identity. Okay, so technically, I’m not a business. But this little blogging thing I do has become a job of sorts, and I find myself at the point of wondering if this whole thing is going anywhere. And if it is, where? And why? And how? And am I a “mommy blog“? A humor blog? A write-whatever-random-thoughts-come-into-my-head-blog?  An anti-Chuck E. Cheese blog? A blog where every post would be about The Monkees if I didn’t think it would drive away 98.4% of Continue reading “What Would My Blog Self Do?”

Fact: Everyone On the Road Goes Under the Speed Limit When You’re Driving Your Kid to the ER

It’s really true. Everyone does. It’s not even like it was this whole mind game where it just seemed like each and every driver was putzing along at a snail’s pace. I literally did not breach the speed limit once on my way to the emergency room. And I couldn’t even vent my frustration by calling them all jacklegs because I was too busy singing “Beautiful Boy” to try to calm down my screaming son. Knowing your child is in pain and not being able to do anything about it, or not being able to get Continue reading “Fact: Everyone On the Road Goes Under the Speed Limit When You’re Driving Your Kid to the ER”

The Littlest Misanthrope

When I was a teacher, one of my favorite pieces of literature I had my students read was The Misanthrope by Moliere. For those of you who may not be familiar, it is a 17th century comedic play, written entirely in rhyming verse, that pokes fun at the hypocrisies of the French aristocracy. Moliere accomplishes this primarily through his main character, Alceste, the misanthrope, who very simply hates humankind. Alceste easily sees through insincere words and is quick to point out the despicable behavior so prevalent in aristocratic society. The piece is quite witty, and the rhyming verse makes it as fun to read as a good children’s book. Only it makes you feel all smart and sophisticated since it’s French…and old.

I bring up The Misanthrope not because it would be a smashing addition to your summer reading list (though it would), but because God must have mistaken my admiration and love for the play as a prayer for a misanthrope of my own. Because he gave me Michael, the littlest misanthrope.

I. hate. everything.
I. hate. everything.

Not only does Michael hate humankind, Michael hates just about everything. I know this because regardless of what I bring up to him, his response is often that he hates whatever it is. Michael, it’s time to go to school. I hate school. Michael, we’re having chicken for dinner. I hate chickenMichael, why don’t you go see if those kids by the sandbox want to play. I hate those kids. Michael, did you see that huge possum just cross the street? I hate possums. I think I might head to Target this afternoon. I hate TargetSCREEEECH! Okay, I won’t let that one slide. Saying “I hate Target” is pretty much the supreme profanity in my house…the house that Target built…well, that Target decorated, and made cleaner, and populated with candles, and filled closets with cute, affordable clothes and shoes. WE don’t hate Target. That is not how I raise my children.

So my kid hates everything. Well, almost everything. The only things he seems pretty adamant about liking are sugar and, for some unknown reason that makes me laugh and weep all at the same time, Justin Bieber. On more than one occasion he has named the Biebs his #1 favorite musician, despite never having heard an actual Justin Bieber song. Well, I actually like Justin Bieber. I just do. Fact: I am more worried about my child being a Belieber than a misanthrope.

Hey, stinky winky poopy little horses. Do you know how funny I am? Really funny.
Hey, stinky winky poopy little horses. Do you know how funny I am? Really funny.

For a time I thought maybe Michael might be outgrowing his misanthropic phase (and hopefully his Belieber phase along with it). Instead of hating everything, he started wanting everything to be a joke. Usually that  just means he adds the word pee/poop/butt/eyeball/diaper (or some compound combination) somewhere into his statement. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the dirty diaper eyeball station! If I ask him what he wants for lunch, I might get an answer along the lines of a poop sandwich…with celery. Sometimes his humor comes in the form of bodily noises or other sounds that only other kids think are funny. Once, after I told him that his preschool teacher commented that he was doing really well in school, he was not surprised. He knew exactly why he received that compliment:

Well, I’m funny. I’m so funny. I’m the funniest one in the class. When I took my tortilla to the trash, I was an elephant with my arm and everyone laughed. I also know how to snort now. *SNORT*!!” (Side note: He was likely taking his tortilla to the trash because, you guessed it, he hates tortillas. )

While so far, his brand of humor hasn’t tickled my funny bone, I do prefer this demeanor over that of the littlest misanthrope. Fingers crossed that I could end up with the littlest Will Ferrell. I could get behind that.

So?
So?

Only it looks as though Michael may be adding yet another facet to his personality. Recently he almost seems to have found a certain meaninglessness in things. Michael, “Team Umizoomi” is on television. So? Michael, you get to go to Mimi and Papa’s house today. So? Michael, it’s time to pick up your sister from school. So? Michael, world peace has broken out and the Hershey’s company has decided to now make their chocolate bars in our backyard. So? I’m just playing with my Transformers right now. 

Great. Now I have the littlest Existentialist on my hands. I hear they are beasts to discipline with that whole I’m-an-individual-who-creates-my-own-values-and-true-essence-so-stop-trying-to-thrust-the-absurd-and-meaningless-outside-world-onto-me-lest-I-cast-myself-into-the-pit-of-despair-or-at-the-very-least-become-anxious-that-I-even-have-the-possibility-of-casting-myself-into-the-pit-of-despair. I need to nip this thing in the bud right now because the last thing I need is a teenage Existentialist.

Did Dr. Spock have any suggestions for parenting through this? Because I’m pretty sure neither Kierkegaard nor Camus ever wrote any parenting books. And the only parenting advice I could find from Will Ferrell was this quote from Parade Magazine“Don’t let them play in old abandoned refrigerators. Let’s see, what else? If you’re flying with your children, it’s better to book them on the same flight as you and not on a separate one just so they can have more leg room or something. Travel as a family.” I mean, it’s good advice. It just doesn’t help me with my particular situation.

Man, maybe Alceste was right. Human nature can be a real pain in the eyeball-poop-butt sometimes.

*Nerd Notes: If you are interested in reading The Misanthrope by Moliere, I recommend the version translated by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Wilbur, which is superior to all others. If you are thinking that what your summer beach experience needs is an Existentialist page-turner, you can’t go wrong with The Stranger by Albert Camus. Cool pop culture fact: The song “Killing an Arab” by The Cure was inspired by and based on The Stranger, and not a song with racist overtones as the title suggests. 

 

Customers who like this blog also follow me on Facebook, Twitter (@RYouFinishedYet), and Pinterest.