Stories from July 2011

Summer Sucks. Mom’s Had Enough.

Lisa Douglas

This mom is done, folks. If I hear, “I’m bored!” “There’s nothing to do!” “My friends can’t come outside!” “Why can’t we stay inside?” ONE.MORE.FREAKING.TIME, I am going to duct tape myself inside a box and mail myself to Siberia. Or overseas. Or some place that doesn’t recognize me as, “Mom” so that maybe, just maybe, I can have a smidgen of peace instead of the constant sibling bickering and kids bemoaning how their life sucks because they’re bored.

Bored? Are they SERIOUS?

Finally, I had to sit all the kids down for one of ‘those’ old geezer-y talks earlier. Y’know, the ones where you have to lecture the kids about the way it was when we were kids? “We used to walk to school both ways barefoot, uphill, in the snow!” (And stuff of this sort that makes you feel eleventy-billion years old, y’know?) My talk sort-of went like this:

“Kids, you have toys. You have bikes. You have skateboards. You have a trampoline. You have a train table. You have action figures. You have blocks. You have a sprinkler. You have costumes. YOU HAVE YOUR FREAKING IMAGINATIONS IN THOSE BRAINS OF YOURS! Why on earth do we have to hear ‘I’m bored’ from you guys eleventy-billion times a day until we invent something for you to do ourselves or finally get sick and tired of the whining and let you stay in? Do you know, when we were kids, we’d be outside as soon as we were up and only come inside for bathroom breaks, drinks, meals, and when the streetlight came on - that was it! We were NEVER, EVER, inside! We L-I-V-E-D outside, played games, tag, chased fireflies, went on bike-ride adventures, built forts, climbed trees.. video games and watching cartoons wasn’t a thought on our minds, and we ALL knew better than to tell our moms that we were ‘bored’ or she’d give us chores to do. DO YOU WANT ME TO GIVE YOU MY CHORES TO DO? DO YOU?”

And the kids, in their shocked, who-pissed-in-mom’s-cornflakes kind-of way, as though someone’d just farted in church, they looked at me with their “Holy crap!” faces and simply shook their heads side to side, mouth agape. They couldn’t speak, they were so floored by the actual IDEAS flying from my lips at them. (Read more…)

Drivin’ and Cryin’

Becca Sanders

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of taking some car trips with the kids. It brings back memories of those journeys of my youth, with my sister and I amusing ourselves in the back seat by (1) fighting and (2) sleeping, both of which drove my dad crazy. Of course he didn’t like the fighting, but the sleeping? – he didn’t like us to miss the scenery.

Sorry to tell you, Dad, but there are few kids under the age of eight who get a deep sense of pleasure from a beautiful view unless something dramatic is happening in it (say, a forest fire or a car wreck) or some animals are walking around in it (cows).

Dad died before the advent of the portable DVD player, but no doubt he would have scorned it — foolish man! For along with a box of baby wipes and some snacks, it is one of the essentials for any parent traveling with small kids.

Here’s another travel tip: feed your kids a large meal (ribs, mashed potatoes, cheesecake) just before leaving the house, because Mistress Sleep – enticed by the rhythm of the wheels and comforted by the fullness of the kids’ bellies – will soon descend and bestow her gifts upon them, while you (having eaten lightly, and fortified yourself with caffeine) get to listen to your own “adult” music complete with “language” up front.

And a warning: once the ribs wear off, and your children are awake and hungry once again, please do not give them cheese popcorn. Yes, it’s delicious, but the cheese coating forms a layer of day-glo orange spackle over your kids that no amount of baby wipes will remove. You’re welcome.

There’s one important facet of car travel I have yet to master, and that is navigating the use of public restrooms with both kids in tow. Our 8-year old autistic son can’t quite manage the bathroom alone, and our 3-year old daughter is, well, 3. So we all must pile into the same stall together.

That’s not that different from what happens at home, except that our home toilet does not sound like a 747 ascending the sky. I imagine a group of public-toilet engineers around a conference table, discussing all of the latest technological refinements, when one pipes up: “Yes, but how can we make it LOUDER?” Thanks to them, the following scene is played out at nearly every stop along the way: me, attending to business, my son, fiddling with the door lock (me: “Don’t unlock the door, H.! Not yet! Not yet!”), and 3-year old F. begging fearfully, “Don’t flush it, Mama! Don’t flush it!”

The worst bathroom incident yet occurred just a week ago. I’d forgotten to put F. in a pull-up before we left the house (amateur move). She’d fallen asleep immediately (yes!) but then soaked through her clothes (aw, sh**). Into the truck stop bathroom we went. While I’m peeling wet garments off of F., son H. goes to the automatic soap dispenser and is soon strewing bubbly pink goo up the mirror and over the walls. Then, my elbow sets off the incredibly loud automatic hand dryer (same engineers, same meeting) which terrifies both F. and the baby being changed on the table beside us, both of whom start screaming.

Another travel tip: don’t drink and drive, no matter how badly you want to.

And finally, make sure you have an emergency roadside service plan. If you don’t want to pay an ongoing annual fee for this, consider signing up for Allstate’s Good Hands(sm) Roadside Service. With this service, you’ll get access to the Allstate 24/7 Nationwide Roadside network, with no annual fee. In fact, you never pay a time unless you use it. And it’s open to everyone, not just Allstate customers. To sign up, use the widget below—and be sure to share with your friends.

Note: Momicillin was compensated by Allstate for this article, but the opinions and ideas in the post are our own.

The Lament of Summer Break

Karrie McAllister

In all my years of parenting,
Since those babes came out of my gut,
I never have been so exhausted.
Yes, summer is kicking my butt.

From the day they stepped off the school bus,
They instantly started to run.
How can they go all day without rest?
Summer is kicking my bum.

I go outside and they follow me
I come back in and they’re standing right here.
The air conditioning bill is enormous,
Summer is kicking my rear.

It seems each day is so beautiful
With blue skies and the sun so shiny,
Surely we have to go out and play.
Summer is kicking my hiney.

Off to the library, the zoo and the park,
“No, you cannot bring a friend!”
Sure, I’ll set up the sprinkler.

Summer is kicking my rear end.

Sunscreen all day, passing out snacks
The pile of dirty dishes is uncanny.
How do three kids go through forty-five cups?
Summer is kicking my fanny.

Bug spray at night while we run around,
“You’ve got to let those fireflies loose!”
How many jars of dead bugs have I dumped?
Summer is kicking my caboose.

But summer is fleeting like childhood
And flying by so fast are the weeks,
We’ll pack in the fun before school starts,
Even though summer is kicking my cheeks.

So I guzzle coffee all through the morning,
In the afternoon fill the wine glass.
And I’ll be in bed by a quarter past ten,
‘Cause summer is making me really tired.

Dancing Chocolate Cake

Linda Kennard

As I watched Jay grow from infancy to age seventeen, I expected (without realizing) that she would evolve into a version of me. That is not the case. Jay is Jay: unexpected, confident, wise, mature, funny, and surprisingly selfless.

Jay and I went to a Sheryl Crow concert recently. Jay went because she knows that I like Sheryl Crow, whose music makes Jay sick. Literally. For years running, I listened to Sheryl Crow on our annual road trip from wherever we were living to my extended family’s cabin in Montana. Since Jay frequently experiences motion sickness, she developed an association over the years. Play a few measures of “Soak up the Sun,” and Jay starts feeling queasy.

Before Sheryl Crow came striding across the stage looking beach-body perfect in her faded jeans and wavy hair, we listened to the much more understated Colbie Caillat, who looked uncomfortable in the high heels she had worn. Sometime after “Bubbly” and before “I Never Told You,” Colbie kicked off those heels and, Jay and I agreed, looked decidedly more comfortable singing in bare feet. For her closing song, Colbie performed Fleetwood Mac’s “You Can Go Your Own Way” and invited the audience to dance.

I stood in front of my chair next to the aisle, half-heartedly swaying to the music. Without alcohol, I don’t dance. I’m sorry this is true, but it is true nonetheless. When I glanced at Jay, I saw that she, like me, was only swaying. I worried then that my self-conscious hesitancy was contagious, that I had infected her with my awkward inability to lose myself in fun. I was stewing about this, wondering how I could tell Jay to please ignore me, to have fun despite me, to just dance, when she inched past me. (Read more…)

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This Weeks Tip

You would think at our age that we wouldn’t have to worry about these things. But, as Kate will attest, even at *ahem* 27, untimely breakouts can (and will) happen. What to do? Apply an ice cube for 30 second. Then soak a cotton ball in eye drops and press it to the “spot” for 3 minutes. The theory is that the ice and drop combination will cause blood vessels below the surface to contract—leaving you looking, well, a little less like Rudolph.