This is what Sunday normal is…’round here

So here we were this morning.  The family (typically) fighting and snapping at one another—as is our usual and preferred custom on the Lord’s Day. What else would any family of six choose to do to prepare their hearts, souls and minds?  I can’t even imagine.  During which time, Husband reminded the children to remember the old adage (snazzed up with a new twist): “If you can’t say anything nice, keep your pie-hole shut.”

M.A.: “What’s a pie hole?”
Me: “Where you pie goes in.”

In other news…we are getting ready to go camping (because fighting in a camper is a whole lot more fun than fighting in a 2000 square foot home- so is negotiating sleeping arrangements: its way, WAY more fun to do in a cramped little camper). So we are going camping which means that everything I have stuffed into the camper over the last year now has to find a new home in Husband’s truck. Or elsewhere.  Which means school supplies, winter gear, a car seat, old shoes, a deflated birthday balloon.  All the important stuff I can’t bring myself to throw out, because who knows?  It might come in handy some day. 

I was reminded at church today that there are several pairs of my children’s skates, a suitcase, some books and who knows what else of mine stuffed into a Rubbermaid tote in a SUNDAY SCHOOL ROOM AT CHURCH.I was not even able to sneak out without it.  Fortunately, I found a new home for it in the back of my in-law’s van.  She doesn’t read this blog so she’ll never know it came from me.  Meanwhile, downstairs in the boxes and boxes of MORE STUFF, I was unable to even find a pair of sandals for Youngest to wear to church.  She ended up wearing a pair that fit her last year, which will work in a pinch.  Literally.

There is just TOO MUCH STUFF to keep track of.

As the children went through a phase this spring where they wore (ahem: their mother made them wear) winter touques underneath their bike helmets to protect their freshly washed hair to prevent them from getting a shed-like, skunk-like, raccoon-like smell, we are now also finding touques in the stow-away at the back-end of the camper. Husband found one that would fit a newborn preemie and stuck it on his head— to which Son asked: “Where did you get that hat, Dad?” and to which he answered back: “It’s not a hat—it’s a STATEMENT.”

I give up.

Son and Husband are now on their way to Camp Seggie. I had to change Son’s pillowcase as John Deere tractor pillow cases are apparently not cool enough for camp. I guess Son also got flack for the extra blanket I packed him on the overnight camping trip they took last week.  Someone called it a blankie, so Husband has been cracking jokes about Son taking a teddy bear along too ever since.  I still don’t know all the rules yet of having a teenager. When I ever get five minutes to myself to sit down and close my eyeballs, I might try thinking about what those rules might be.

Until then…Happy Sunday, everyone.

Why I Had Children…And How I Have Learned To Cope With Them

I am suppose to write a blog piece for the Huffington Post about motherhood (for their special upcoming  Mother’s Day issue in another week).  And I have no idea what to write.  I am a loss.  There are no pearls of wisdom, no gems of gold from which others can glean sage advice.  No nothing.  I am drawing a blank.  I think I have amnesia from all the late nights staying up writing funny stories about my day.  I can only think in terms of conversational narrative.

Me: “Kids, get in the tub, in the shower, off the i-pod, off the X-box.”

Kids: “In a minute.

Me:  “ARRRRGGGHHHHHH!”

Quite actually.  I need to read up on that very fine topic of motherhood and parenting for my own personal edification/inspiration/motivation.  And believe you me.  I just might do that.  Right now. (#facebookjunkie  #addictedtostatusupdates  #hasnosociallife)

One of the kids mentioned tonight something about wishing for a little brother.  You might be able to guess who.  I can’t remember what exactly was said.  But I know it was said in the context of wishing for a same sex sibling with which to share life and stuff.  Someone with whom to shoot the breeze.  Go down the road to the local fishing hole and do daring things like drink dirty creek water and stuff.  Things you might do if you weren’t gender outnumbered and all at home.

When this idea came up, Husband and I both looked at each other and laughed.  Hysterically.   As we always do when someone suggests we have another child.  Or adopt a puppy or buy a fish or something.  And I think the comment was made by someone, I won’t say by whom, that we might as well  “…put the chains around our neck and drag ourselves to the river” if this unexpected surprise were ever to transpire.  As in.  We’re done.  Game over.  The goose is cooked.  And we both ate it.

And it’s not that we don’t dearly love the offspring we already have.  Au contraire.  The fact that I have not run off to the Pacific Islands disguised as a belly dancer already speaks to my undying love.  And I do mean that with all my heart.   Rather.  It’s just that we two, Husband and I, know when the game is over and someone has already bought Boardwalk and Park Place.  Leaving you both- the hapless other players, penniless and bankrupt (read: hope we can afford cereal for the weekend as we go through a box in one setting.  Forget about date night.)  Folks, let’s get real.  We can’t afford any more little Gards around these parts anymore than we can afford weekly date nights to Summerside.   The four darling Ones we have a putting us in the poor house, not to mention the insane asylum.

One of my children suggested tonight, “Let’s make a date night for Mom and Dad!!!  We can plan a show for them!  Whoop, Whoop!”  This is the sad truth.  Our children have come to believe that Mom and Dad going on a date means they are invited.  And they can orchestrate the event.  Which was cute about five years ago, but now is just plain SAD.

So, if I had any suggestions to make for myself- because I need parenting advice probably more than the next guy, here is how it would go down.  They always tell you on the in-flight safety instructions to put your own gas mask on before you help the person next to you.  And the same advice applies to parenting.  Before you kill yourself being a parent, ask yourself this, “Have I brushed my own hair today?”

And add to this one last sentiment.   It’s okay to tell it like it is.  To be tough.  To be play the meanie.   Kids will suck you bare, right down to the marrow.  They will take you for all you are worth, they will bleed you dry.  They will ask and not re-pay.  They will grumble and not make apologies.  They will tell you that you are mean.  They will tell you that you do not measure up.  And they might even once in a while drop the h-a-t-e bomb.   So what I am learning in all of this mayhem is this: it is okay to be real right back at ‘em.  To tell it like it is.  To call them out.  To dish out a bit of their own medicine.  To give it right back from whence it came.

For instance.  I have always told my children exactly what I thought of their behavior- as it affects me or otherwise.  I stand unashamed in admitting that my kids have heard from my own lips that on occasion they could be labelled mean, inconsiderate, bold, rude, irresponsible, unkind, uncaring and the like.  It is okay to be tough.  Kids might as well hear it from you than have a stranger say it in the grocery store or a restaurant.  It is my job to hold my own children up to the standards I have set for them.  ‘Cause if I don’t, someone else will.

And in closing, find something funny every day from which to see the funny side of life.  If not for humor, I should die a miserable woman.  Being a mother is not that fun.  I am sorry.  Playing house with my dolls back in the day did not prepare me for this.  Those dolls did not talk back.  They did not complain about the two articles of clothing they wore day-in and day-out.  They ate air…literally.  THEY ATE NOTHING.  And they never.ever.complained.  They sat in a closet for ten plus hours at a time.  I never heard a peep out of them.  And not once did they EVER ask for money. They were the worst example EVER of what having kids would be like.

So then.  If not for the horrors of babysitting, I would have had absolutely NOTHING to base my parenting on.  Because babysitting taught me nothing if it did not teach me this: children are often quite dreadful.    But at the same time, they are unbelievably cute.  It is one of their few redeeming graces.  And above all, they are tremendously funny.  And they say things ever y day that help me remember why I had kids.  Because living in a house with another adult is not quite the same barrel of laughs that are a house full of quirky, creative kids.  Who say the darndest things to me and about me each and every day.  They make me laugh.  They make me cry.   They make me long for vacays in Florida.   And in doing so, they help me remember why I had ‘em.

Thank goodness for that.

Ode to Joy…

Ode to Joy.  Or as it is written in my daughter’s MYC piano book, “Ode to Spider Fingers.”  Which has gotten me wishing for a pair of sticky fingers instead so I could steal away to a deserted island somewhere in the Pacific and empty my mind into a lagoon of salty sea water.

If it only were so easy.

So first things first.  Just in case any of the four people who use to text/phone me are doing so at this very minute (shout out to my family- the ones with cell phones), Brian ran over it a few hours ago with the truck.   And it’s gone dark.  Literally, dark.  Actually, the screen has splintered into a million jagged pieces.  The kids were walking on egg shells after it happened, scared that mommy might pull a fast one on daddy and exercise her (limited) right to bear (licensed )arms, in return for his road rage.  But although it is partly his fault, I won’t hold it against him.  I accept half the blame.  I dropped it while borrowing Son’s bike to pick up the kids after work.

How does one pick up two school-aged children with a pre-teen’s mountain bike, you ask?  Good question.  I’m glad you asked.  I had originally planned to use the remainder of my half hour paid babysitting time after work on this lovely Friday to decompress and go for a walk.  STRESS RELIEF.  (We all know I could put THAT to good use.)  But, on the way out the door, I got a call from Hubby who had a few errands to run and wouldn’t be picking up the kiddos at the appointed time.  So, a compromise was arranged, and I worked out a plan whereby I would bike there to the sitters and he would arrive a short while later to pick up the kids and their back-packs.   And everyone would live happily ever after.  HA. Long story short, he asked me to take along my cell phone so he could call me to get an exact time for pick-up.  The rest is history.

Kay.  Anyone who knows me well knows I am terrible at using the cell phone.  I drop it everywhere, I forget it everywhere and I lose it every day (usually in the dark caverns of my purse).  But, I thought I might just follow his advice and stick it in my pocket for the ride.  Just in case.  So, that’s how it happened.  It fell out of my pocket while I was obliviously riding my son’s bike out the driveway.

Bye-bye cell phone, and “hello again” remaining two hundred dollars left in my contract.  I almost forgot about you while I was texting my husband. (#wishingIstillhadalandline)

OH THE JOYS.  There are too many to mention.  But here are a few more…

The joy of hitting my funny bone on the fridge door this evening and not being able to bend it upwards for the next three hours.  The joy of making baked apples with my kindergarten students and meticulously picking out and carefully washing my own distinctive apple to bake and then eat (snot-free, pee-free and dirt-free, as I try to limit the latter from lingering anywhere on my hands- cannot vouch for my sweet lil’ students and whether  or not they share my same sentiment).  Only to find that while I was passing out apples, one little guy had jumped the gun and was already chowing enthusiastically into my special apple.  Meanwhile, his (possibly) germy little apple sat waving at me on the table saying, “Eat me…I daaaarrrre you.”

Um, no thanks.  My little Kindergarten friend ended up with two baked apples.  One of which (the one meant for me) might or might not have been washed in hand sanitizer.  One cannot be too careful. (#whoyoucallingobsessivecompulsive)

The joy of hearing your name called three hundred times in one day, by pint-sized creatures that make you both want to cry and laugh simultaneously.  And after the 299th time, you feel like you could just turn around and scream, ‘WHAT.DO.YOU.WANT. ALREADY?’  because your name is now seemingly the most annoying two words in the English Language vernacular.

The joy of indoor detention at recess spent with your own flesh and blood who received a red card before the clock had even struck 10:00 a.m.  And one last joy…the joy of cooking supper to feed crying, hysterical children only to realize that same children will end up eating again at least three more times before bedtime.

The joy.  THE JOY!  Joy to the world, people.  You might as well laugh as cry.