I’m a loser, baby

The Girl no longer wants to sit in her high chair for meals, but I still want her to sit in it. If I’ve learned one thing from the boys, it’s that I have to stick to my guns, so I put her bowl of leftover macaroni on her tray and sit her in the chair. She politely declines and initiates an escape attempt. I sit her back down a few times then move to Phase II: placing her on the floor and saying, in a firm voice, If you won’t eat in the chair, you won’t eat. You’re not carrying your dinner around the house. Just like I learned on Super Nanny.

She looks at me in disgust and then does the only thing that would have bothered me, the exact opposite of the response I was trying to illicit: She turns around and walks away. She goes on with her evening on an empty stomach as if to say I don’t need you or your crappy day-old macaroni.

I’m not going to give in because if I do, she will think that she never has to listen to me and she will become a defiant child that turns into an even more defiant teenager, with the end result being a depressed and unproductive adult that lives in my basement. I know this because I’ve already made it to step 2 of this progression with two other children, so she has to sit in the chair because I really don’t want three adult children living in my basement. My max is two.

I also move on with my evening, trying not to think about the fact that she hasn’t eaten which means she probably won’t sleep through the night. I clean up the kitchen which includes throwing away her untouched macaroni. As soon as it hits the trash can, she saunters over, glares at me, and holds up her arms to be returned to her chair for dinner. She’s apparently had a change of heart. I put her in the chair and start looking for another dinner option. Choices are slim. As I said, “A” line was recycled macaroni. I offer her a sandwich or some oatmeal but she just keeps pointing at the empty pink bowl that held her discarded macaroni. Like an idiot, I try to offer her a rational argument:

Well, you didn’t want to sit in your chair during dinner so I threw away your macaroni because I have OCD and I couldn’t stand to leave it sitting on the counter while you roamed the house. Plus it was already semi-rotten, soooo….it’s gone.

Then I remember she’s 1 so I just hand her a cup of chocolate pudding. Surely that will satisfy her. It doesn’t. Eating pudding in the chair was not part of the deal,  only macaroni, so I sit her back on the floor. I try the whole “sticking to my guns” thing again and refuse to give her the pudding once she’s out of the chair – for about 30 seconds while she screams like a crazy fool. Then I give up and just hand her the stupid pudding. I don’t even care anymore. You win. But winning isn’t enough for her. She now thinks that perhaps she would prefer to enjoy this pudding outside on the deck in the fresh evening air so she points at the door.

Side. Let’s go.

Whatever. I’ve already been defeated. Does it really matter how badly I lose? So I follow her outside and sit with her on the deck while she finishes her pudding dinner. She even demands that I feed her some of it even though she’s more than capable of feeding herself. As I sit there, feeding her and furtively trying to swat flies before they touch her because it upsets her when they tickle her skin (which she could have avoided by eating inside, in her chair), I realize that I’ve been played. I’m pretty sure that after I took her out of the chair the first time, she just stood by, watching and waiting for me to throw away the macaroni so she could watch me scramble around to prepare a more delicious dinner served in a more appealing setting as punishment for my ignorance. What started out as me laying down the law ended in me feeding this master manipulator chocolate pudding by moonlight. Well played, Punkie.

Hungry like the Wolf

So I don’t do church. It’s not that I don’t believe in God; I just don’t do the organized religion thing. I could go into the messy back story of how a church scarred me as a child and ruined my whole entire life, but that is outside the scope of this blog – plus, it would be difficult to spin it into a funny story.

So anyway, I don’t go to church, but the kids do. Mom is very involved with her church and it was important to her that her grandchildren experience church so they go with her every week. This means that every week I can count on two hours to enjoy any activity of my choosing. I’ve used this time in different ways over the years. When Boy One was a newborn and I was still trying to come to terms with the fact that I would never sleep again, I used it for sleeping. When I was taking classes, I used it for homework. I went through a long phase where it was used for a weekly angry cleaning ritual. During the Breaking Bad madness, it was used for binge watching TV. When we were trying to save money for our house and The Husband was working tons of overtime, I used it to “visit” with him. Some were noble causes – others were a little more shameful – but I can generally gauge the quality of my life at different points by how my Sunday mornings were used at that time.

The phase I’m in now is probably one of the most disgraceful. I currently spend my Sunday mornings devouring a huge, delicious meal alone.

One of the things I hate most about being a mom is that the kids are always begging for food from my plate. As soon as I  sit down, it’s a feeding frenzy. They swarm me and beg for whatever is on my plate, even if I just served them the same thing 15 minutes earlier. I’m OK with hiding in the pantry to enjoy a piece of chocolate or a cupcake. I understand a kid wanting to go after something like that, but my kids go after every single thing I try to eat. I could be eating a sauteed rotten frog brain and they would be all over it. You hear about how prisoners eat quickly with their arms on the table surrounding their plate to protect their meal from the other prisoners, but even the best form of prisoner stance is no match for my kids.

The scavenging particularly bothers me because I like spicy food so when a kid comes begging for food from my plate, it’s most likely covered in red pepper, jalapenos, hot sauce, etc.

Can I have a bite of yours?

No, it’s hot.

I don’t care.

Fine, eat it then.

They take a bite and then run off, eyes watering, scraping their tongue with their fingernails, and crying.

MOM!!! IT’S HOT!!

You don’t say?

I don’t feel bad because they had their warning, but the problem is The Girl. I can’t, in good conscience, feed a baby something that I know is going to cause her pain. Especially when I’m the one that has to figure out how to quiet her after it happens. So, during the week, I wait until she goes to bed and then grab something quick before bed and I’m OK with that because I know that Sunday morning is just around the corner.

I drop them off at church at 9 a.m. and then, Hallelujah!, it’s chow time. By 9:45, I’m sitting down to a five-course meal. This week it was pasta, garlic bread, salad, ice cream and (not) wine (ok, maybe wine but only one small glass). Yes, that’s what I had at 9:45 a.m. I ate at my own pace, in complete silence, without fear of being forced to share. It was heavenly. In a roundabout way, it’s kind of like I am getting a little religion because enjoying that meal confirms for me that there is a god.

I would have never guessed that mothering would degrade my quality of life to the point where simply enjoying a meal alone is such an event, but it has. Someday, when my kids are grown and I’m sitting in my empty nest, whining about how lonely I am, I’m going to go back and read this post and then treat myself to a huge delicious meal at an odd hour for old times’ sake. I’m sure, when that time comes, I’ll probably feel sad that there is no little mouth there to scorch with my jalapeno pasta.

Going under

We have a frog problem. A major frog problem. Like Second Egyptian Plague status. So the boys had a friend over this weekend and they captured a good number of frogs. The plan was to relocate them to the pond, where frogs belong. Because, you know, just letting them die in the aquarium would be inhumane. So the kids spent all day herding frogs and then we headed down to the pond for the release. We throw the first frog in and it just floats there. I don’t think it kicked its legs or anything like you would expect, but I didn’t have much time to observe it before a big fish came out of nowhere and swallowed it in one bite. I thought the boys would be upset, but they were cool with it so we threw in another frog. Again, no movement. It just floated there helplessly until it was eaten. I thought that was odd, but I rationalized it:

Well, if it doesn’t have anywhere it wants to go, why would it start swimming when we throw it in? 

The frogs must just be lazy. The grand finale was the biggest frog which was clearly a different species. It had different markings and was 20 times larger than the others. We threw it in and it started swimming exactly like I expected of all of the frogs. Hmm…

So I texted The Husband.

This may be a stupid question, but can these small frogs swim? It kind of seems like they are drowning when we throw them in the pond.

He responds.

No. For the millionth time, they are not water frogs.

I guess we’ve had this conversation before and I have no recollection. My failure to listen to The Husband and his dumb stories apparently cost 20 frogs their lives today.

Don’t be cruel

I want The Girl to be one of those super nice girls, one of those girls that you can just tell would never say a mean word about anyone. I want her to be that girl that is so nice that she makes you feel bad about yourself because you are, well, less nice. That’s the kind of daughter that I want. I don’t think that’s the kind of daughter I have.

She has started this new thing where every time one of the boys throws a fit and starts crying (yes, my boys still cry at 7 and 8 years old. Does that ever end?) she laughs. It’s not her normal laugh as in, “Oh you just hid your face behind a paper then took it away and it’s hilarious even though I knew where you were all along because I’m not stupid.” It’s more of a shrill Wicked Witch of the West-ish cackle that sounds like she’s truly, from the bottom of her soul, delighting in their plight. So she does that and then follows it up with a new phrase she just learned: He crying! She alternates that laugh and phrase over and over until the boy that is the object of her ridicule gets mad and storms off.

I know that laughing along with her is not helping to create that super nice girl, but I can’t help it. As the third child with two crazy older brothers, I expected her to be laid back and quiet and to just go with the flow. Instead, I got this stubborn, opinionated, bossy girl that showed up and just started running the show. She reminds me of someone I know.

Be careful, Punky. Today you’re stubborn, opinionated, and bossy. Tomorrow you’re domineering and arrogant and you have a god complex, but I’ll still be your best friend.

Row row row your boat

So today is Father’s Day so I wanted to write a heartfelt post about The Husband because I’m so thankful that he made all of these beautiful children for me to love and care for. I wanted to thank him….even though I’m the one that had to carry them for nine months, ruin my body, go through the absolute terror of labor, and then do most of their day-to-day care….but yeah, I wanted to thank him for, you know, going through all of that trouble of spending five minutes doing something he seems to enjoy so that we could get all of these kids.  I wanted to illustrate my post with a photo of him with all three kids, exhibiting all of his stellar paternal attributes, but I couldn’t find such a photo because it doesn’t exist. Soooooo I decided to scrap all of that and write a post about something he truly loves: fishing.

The Husband doesn’t get to go fishing often because he has a job and a family and he enjoys fishing but not enough to get fired or divorced. But he does love it on those rare occasions when he gets to go. A few years ago, I decided to go for the Wife of the Year Award and I bought a fishing boat for his Valentine’s Day present. He thought it was pretty cool until he realized that I had financed it and he now had to work overtime for the next two years to make the payments. Happy Valentine’s Day, dear.

Anyway, he hasn’t gotten to use it much for the reasons I listed above (unemployment, divorce, mandatory overtime). I refuse to go on it because the one time I did,  it ended in him yelling at me while I helplessly drifted out on the lake because he failed to teach me how to drive it before he left me in it alone to go retrieve the truck and trailer.

So this weekend, he decided to go out for a fishing outing. I knew this was a recipe for disaster because he was just coming off of a twelve-hour night shift and he gets weird when he hasn’t had enough sleep (migraines, puking, talking crazy, stumbling around etc.). Despite my concerns, he and his buddy headed out to the reservoir. I don’t know much about boats, but from what I understand, this is what happened next:

Once they got the boat unloaded, the main motor wouldn’t work. They decided to use the “trolling motor” but then the wind picked up and it wasn’t strong enough to get them to where they were going. They then spent quite some time rowing (by hand) the motorized fishing boat across the 12,000 acre Salamonie Reservoir. Keep in mind The Husband hasn’t slept in about 26 hours at this point.  Once they got to their destination, The Husband spent some time trying to determine why the main motor wasn’t working – checking the spark plugs, etc. This went on for quite a while before they finally figured out the problem.  The boat has a kill switch that is supposed to be attached to the driver to shut off the boat in the event the driver is thrown from the vessel. This switch apparently has the added benefit of making the boat too difficult to operate for stupid people and/or people who have not slept in the last 26 hours. After quite some time of rowing and maintenance, The Husband flipped this switch, the motor started right up, and they were able to drive the boat right back to the dock without manual rowing.

So, The Husband celebrated Father’s Day weekend with 36 hours of work, two hours of rowing, and maybe ten hours of intermittent sleep if he’s lucky finished off with a to-do list a mile long to fill his days off. Happy Father’s Day!

Can’t buy me love

Boy One is the most money-hungry child I’ve ever encountered. Everything in his life has a price. This is cool because you can buy his love. He would totally flourish in a situation with a rich step-dad trying to win him over. In fact, maybe I’ll try to work out something like that for him. Anyway, his love can be bought, but not by me because kids are freaking expensive and after funding everything needed to meet their basic needs, I have no money left to buy their love. So I just go without.

I would have a problem with Boy One’s prodigious greed, but I don’t say much because he has the work ethic to back it up. He will do any chore to earn a quick buck. This year, he decided to have a rummage sale. He packed up all of the toys he wanted to get rid of and instructed Boy 2 to do the same.

I’m having a rummage sale. You need to put all of your toys in this basket and I’ll tag them.

There was no agreement about who would receive the proceeds from the sale of Boy Two’s items. I’m pretty sure it was some sort of eminent domain situation. Anyway, it seemed like he was doing a pretty good job of managing his rummage sale empire until I started checking his prices: broken plastic John Deere tractor toy – $25 new, $60 at Boy One’s sale; Johnny Jump-up – $20 new, $40 at Boy One’s sale. I suggested perhaps his prices were a little out of line with the current rummage sale pricing index, but he didn’t care. For that reason, I decided to discourage the rummage sale idea and he moved on to his next venture…

Granddad taught him that he can make money off of scrap metal and now he is constantly scavenging for it. I don’t really have a problem with it, but I did have to draw the line when he started eyeing the trampoline poles.

You can only scrap things that we don’t really need or use. We need the trampoline poles if you want to be able to jump on the trampoline.

He said he understood, but that didn’t deter him from staying on the lookout for potentially unneeded metal. This is why, if you were at the public pool today, you saw my son rifling through the trash. It’s not because I haven’t fed him. He’s just looking for empty  pop cans, which is apparently more fun than swimming or going down the slide. With that level of dedication, I’d say this boy has a bright future as an entrepreneur. Or perhaps just the town junkie that scavenges for scrap metal….

 

 

Paint it Black

Sometimes I worry that I started this blog too late. The boys are 8 and nearly 7 and the craziest years are probably behind us. Sure, I have lots of old stories I can tell (poop in the jacuzzi, popcorn butter on The Husband’s face while he sleeps, blue paint covering the entire Walmart), but it seems like cheating to circle back and rehash ancient history. But what if they are past the point of doing ridiculous crap?

Alright, alright. Settle down, veteran parents that made it through the teen years. I can hear you laughing at me. And I know you’re right because this just happened last week:

IMG_0352

which helped to remind me that there will be plenty of material forthcoming although it’s not always as funny when it involves actually criminal behavior. 

Yes, that is my mom’s neighbor’s shed. Not my shed. Not even my mom’s shed, but my mom’s neighbor’s shed. This happened while the boys were on Auntie’s watch. Here is the story, as I understand it:

They hatch a plan to do some spray painting. Like any well-meaning child, Boy Two asks Auntie for permission. He doesn’t get the answer he wants, but that’s easy to fix:

Boy Two (to Boy One): Yeah, she said it’s fine.

I’m just glad they only decorated the shed with messages of love rather than phallic symbols and cuss words. It could have been much worse. 

I got the call from Auntie at work. 

*crying* You won’t believe what your freaking kids did. *more crying* They freaking spray painted the neighbor’s shed.  *crying*

I hang up and call my mom to complain that Auntie let this happen. I know it’s not her fault my kids are unruly criminals, but it helps if you know Auntie. She’s 10 years younger than me. She’s smart (a sophomore in Purdue’s nursing program), beautiful, and always well put-together. She goes the extra mile to make sure her outfit, hair, and makeup are on point, which is what she was doing while this vandalism occurred. And while they dug up Mom’s backyard with their Power Wheels excavator. And while they shoved my cat down a vent in my house causing it to fall three stories and forcing The Husband to leave work to come home and dismantle the heating system to save its life. So yeah, I’m not saying it’s her fault because it’s not. I’m sure the same thing would have happened on my watch. All I’m saying is: I can’t wait until she has kids. 

Sure, I can watch them! No problem! I’ll be right over. No, you don’t need to bring them, I can come to your house. I’ll be right over.