Don’t let me down

I break everything I touch – washers, vehicles, computers, vacuums. I break them all, and I can tell you why. It’s because I have three little kids, a house to clean, a full-time job, and I feel like I do the work of three women and I expect everything else around me to do the same.

Oh your recommended load is no more than 8 towels? Well I have 15, so let’s start there and see how you do.

You can’t sweep up an entire box of Cheerios? Let’s give it a go. I believe in you.

You’re not meant to grind enough food for an entire army? Right, if you were an ordinary garbage disposal, but you’re no ordinary garbage disposal.

You want me to rinse my plate for you before loading because you can’t digest the scraps? Then what do I need you for, Dishwasher? If I’m going to do all of that, I might as well wash the plate myself. Plus your buddy, the garbage disposal, is refusing to take these last few scraps so step up and do your part. 

I expect everything around me to do its personal best because that’s what I try to do, but appliances don’t give a damn about their job performance. They are lazy! Which is why I use and abuse every appliance that comes here. They mean nothing to me. When an appliance is purchased by the Swans, it knows it is going to live a brief and miserable life, full of toil and sadness. 

There are a lot of things The Husband hates about me, but I’m pretty sure this is near the top. Luckily, he’s really handy because I would have bankrupted us years ago if he weren’t. He follows me around fixing everything in my path of devastation. Our house is like a real-life version of Wreck-it Ralph. 

Me: I’m gonna wreck it!

And then along comes Fix-it Felix to cheerfully fix it with his magic hammer. 

The Husband: I can fix it!

Except in this version, Felix doesn’t have a magic hammer so every repair takes hours and is expensive. And Felix cusses at Ralph through the whole thing. And Ralph just sits and watches Felix make the repair while sipping a glass of wine. 

So I hate telling The Husband when I’ve broken something. Tonight, I tried to incorporate a little playful humor in my confession/maintenance request:

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Of course his answer was to stick my hand down the garbage disposal to remove the blockage. I’m not sure why I asked how to fix it because I have no intention of doing so. I guess this gives the illusion that I did plan to fix it so maybe it will mitigate his anger. In fact, maybe I’ll even tell him I did try to fix it, but just couldn’t get the job done. Because I’m but a mere woman and I need a big, strong man to save the day and get this garbage disposal fixed…..because it will be a cold day in Hell before I stick my hand in that disgusting water. Who knows what’s in there!? I cleaned out the entire fridge. The last things I remember putting in there were broccoli, spaghetti, chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, and rotten chocolate milk from a sippy cup I found under The Girl’s bed. I think it quit working somewhere abound the beginning of the chicken and noodles, but I had faith it was going to rally. No such luck. So yeah, it’s a pretty disgusting combination of leftovers that is filling the entire kitchen with a peculiar smell, so I’m avoiding the area altogether until he gets home. 

My mama told me, you better shop around

My mother-in-law has a compulsive shopping problem, and she has made it her life’s mission to clothe my children.  She has always randomly shown up with sacks of clothes for the boys, but things got really out of hand when I was pregnant with The Girl. That woman literally bought every single stitch of clothing The Girl wears. And it’s all beautiful clothing – brand new, fancy, lacy… My babysitter always complains because The Girl’s everyday attire is usually a beautiful gown with all the trimmings – bloomers, ruffled socks, matching hair ornamentation – and she is worried it will get ruined.

Satin bloomers? On a Tuesday? Really!?

 Anyway, the MIL is a compulsive shopper, but she does have a few rules for herself:

  1. Never buy anything at full price, and
  2. Never pass up a good deal.

I follow Rule #2 by never buying anything myself and capitalizing on the best deal of them all: 100% off, compliments of the MIL. I show my love for her by letting her buy me things because I know how much she enjoys it. When she’s feeling sad, she shops because it lifts her spirits.  When I’m feeling sad, she shops for me because it lifts her spirits.

Anyway, I don’t usually know when she will show up with a load of purchases, but there is one time every year that I know I can expect it: without fail, she buys the boys new tennis shoes for the start of school.  Sure enough, two weeks ago I got the text: What size shoes are the boys in? 

A few weeks later:

 

Pick two for each.

 I cross off the $50 I had budgeted for school shoes and thank God for her unhealthy shopping habits.  It wasn’t until I was telling The Husband about it later that I learned that the annual shoe purchase is so regular for a specific reason. His grandma, the MIL’s mother, had a tradition of taking him and his brothers to get their school shoes every year. She wasn’t a rich woman, but she made it a point to let them go into Spiece and pick out any pair of shoes they wanted.

I never met Grandma Shankle, but I’m told I would have liked her. From the stories I’ve heard, I’ve always thought that was probably true. Now that I know she’s the reason I save $50-$100 on school shoes every year, I know it’s true. So thank you, Grandma Shankle, for starting a tradition that now keeps my boys in new shoes. And thank you, MIL, for making sure my girl is always prepared to drop everything and head to a royal ball at a moment’s notice if necessary. If it weren’t for you, my kids would look like a group of pre-Daddy Warbucks extras from Annie.

Don’t hate the player

We were at the city pool today and I noticed that Boy Two was hanging pretty tight with one particular girl. She was an adorable little brown-eyed beauty with long brunette hair, approximately six inches taller than him.  He is one of the shortest seven-year-olds around, but what he lacks in height, he makes up for in blue eyes and personality. I don’t know how to explain it, but the kid has game. He’s the polar opposite of his brother, who spent his day at the pool sitting along the wall, slathering gallons of sunscreen on his pasty, skeletal body and wearing a towel on his head Arabian-sheikh style because he is absolutely terrified of getting sunburned, all while incessantly asking when we are leaving until I finally let him call Granddad to come rescue him from the torment of the pool.

Boy One is a dweeb, but Boy Two is a total playboy. He’s that perfect storm of playfulness, intelligence, sarcasm, humor, indifference, and confidence just short of arrogance that drives girls wild. I know this because he acts exactly like his father. While The Husband isn’t the most physically impressive specimen of a man, I was a young girl once and I know the capabilities of that personality. Been there, done that, and I know it when I see it.

So anyway, Boy Two and Flirty Girl are having a great time at the pool. He even brought her over to introduce herself.

Hi, I’m Flirty Girl. I went to Kindergarten with him.

Oh, nice to meet you, Flirty Girl. I’m his mother.

When I decided it was time to take the baby home, Flirty Girl saw me packing our things and she rushed over.

Are you leaving?

Yeah.

Does he have to leave?

No he can stay here with his Grammy, if he wants. 

She seemed happy that he got to stay longer, but it dissipated quickly when he said, “Ahh, I think I’ll just go home. It’s too hot.”

Good work, son. Leave them wanting more. She heads toward the exit with us and talks to me as we go.

I like a different guy, ya know.

Oh, really?

Yeah. I used to like your son, but not anymore. Now I like a different guy.

Boy Two holds his tongue until just as he’s walking in the boys’ locker room. Then he calls over his shoulder with a smirk, “Hey, Flirty Girl! Tell your sister I said hi.”

Flirty Girl should have stalked off with her dignity at that point, but girls will be girls and, well, he is very handsome.

Alright, well, see ya later, Boy Two!

I’m too fed up to come up with a catchy title

You know how people say, “Have a nice day”? I never have a “nice” day. When I wake up, I know I’m either going to have a fantastic day – a got a raise, found a surprise $20 in my coat pocket, made a new friend on a sunny day type of day – or I’m going to have this kind of a day:

My problems started when I left work (as they typically do). I had my heart set on going to the county fair. Fair week was always the highlight of my summer as a kid. That legacy has stuck with me into my adult years and I still look forward to the fair every year. And every year when I go, I can’t figure out why. The fair is pure misery and here are a few reasons why:

  1. It’s 1,457,535 degrees at the fair. I only sweat once per year and it’s at the fair.
  2. It’s dusty. And the dust gets in your eyes and sticks to your annual sweat.
  3. It’s expensive. The food is expensive, but that’s to be expected. The expense that really ticks me off is the parking. If you are on our fair board (or whatever entity sets the Wabash County Fair parking prices), shame on you.  It’s your fault my kids didn’t get an elephant ear because I was too cheap to buy one of those AND park my damn car.
  4. You have to take your kids to it so they can make great fair memories so that they too will continue to subject themselves to this torture long into their adult years. And at the fair kids get things like suckers and balloons which turn them into slobbering, sticky sweat monsters with an added appendage that relentlessly bops you on your sweaty, dusty face.

So the fair sucked, but if that had been the only bad part of my day, it would have been fine. I might have even classified it as the elusive “nice day.” But the fair was only the very beginning.

 

On the way home, my low tire light came on.  I figured it was just a slow leak, but when I started seeing smoke and smelling burnt rubber, I determined that was not the case so I pulled over 1.5 miles from home.  Now I don’t know what’s going on, but we’ve had an endless barrage of flat tires over the past year.  The Husband claims it’s my fault. It has something to do with the way I drive or the places I go or the fact that I’m a female or just simply the fact that I’m not him.  Anyway, every time I have to call him for a flat, I get the same lecture, so I don’t even want to call him. So I send him this text: :

I have a flat tire. No, it’s not a slow leak. Yes, the rim is ruined. No, I didn’t drive on it. No, I didn’t hit anything. I don’t even want to hear it. 

He comes to the rescue, but rather than picking me and the kids up and driving us the 1.5 miles home and coming back solo to fix it, he makes me (us) stay with him while he works on it. He does this to punish me for my propensity toward flat tires and I refuse to give him the satisfaction of acting like it bothers me. So I sit in the car and start writing this post. After a while, his conscience gets the best of him.

You can run the air if you want to….

No, thank you. I’m fine.

So he works for a while, then decides it’s going to be a more extensive repair than expected so he tells us to get in the truck and he’ll take us home. I start to get in his disgusting truck that is jammed to the hilt with trash and whatnot when Boy Two spills his can of pop all over the passenger seat. I’m hot, I’m tired, and I’m already covered in sticky sweat so does it really matter? No. It does not. I just want to get home so I plop down on the soggy passenger seat and my cheerful chauffeur gets ready to drive me home. Aaaaaand his truck won’t start. He drives an old beater farm truck with 250,000 miles on it (hence the reason he doesn’t care if it’s full of trash), but it’s usually pretty reliable. Not today. So we are now sitting along the side of the road with two kids and two disabled vehicles. I cant even make this crap up.

From high school gym class, I recall that I can walk a mile comfortably in about 12 minutes so that means I’m an 18-minute walk from home, add five minutes since I’ll be carrying a baby and my purse, which is, thankfully, loaded with a big bottle of cheap wine.  That’s still quicker than calling a family member to come out and get me. At this point, the objective is to get to my bathtub in the quickest way possible and walking seems to be it, so eyes on the prize, I get ready to go.  The only thing about walking that really makes me mad is the fact that I sat on the pop puddle for no reason. At just that moment, God threw us one crusty, old bone and the truck started. The Husband and I rode home in silence.

All of that would have been enough to consider this an awful day, but there had to be one last punch to the gut. Now that I had finally made it home, I only had two more hurdles to clear before putting an end to this day of horror: get the baby in bed and open my wine. I laid the baby down and reached for a diaper. The box is empty.  Are you freaking kidding me right now? I had picked up a box, but it’s in the back of my car 1.5 miles away. I remembered the bottle of wine, but forgot the diapers. I don’t actually feel bad about that. More specifically, it is in the ditch where The Husband threw it to open the compartment that holds the spare tire. As he drove me away toward home, I remember thinking, “Man, I hope no one steals that box of diapers. That’s $20.” Of course, The Girl had pooped because, why not? Again, God threw me one last bone and I managed to scare up a swimming diaper three sizes too small. Good enough.

If you were wondering, I did make it to the bathtub, which is where I’m finishing this post right now. I believe The Husband is still sweating along the side the road changing my tire. I’m sure we’re not speaking so, Dear, if you’re reading this, please don’t forget my box of diapers in the ditch.

Oh, and if any of you see me around, please don’t tell me to have a nice day because it isn’t going to happen. Tell me to have a fantastic day because anything short of that is destined to be…well…a day like this one.

 

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand

I (sometimes) enjoy observing the social interaction between the boys. At 8 years old, Boy One is becoming old enough to understand the merits of bargaining, cooperation, extortion, and manipulation. Boy Two still sticks with his old standby of brute physical force.  It’s a constant battle of brains versus brawn and I just sit back and watch it play out.

A few days ago, Boy Two received a painting craft as a gift. Paint is something of an anomaly at our house, and you’ve probably read enough of my posts to understand why, so this was a big deal.  He talked about it nonstop for days as he waited for me to finally decide it was worth it to risk my carpet just to get him to shut up about the stupid paint. I figured Boy One would throw a fit over the injustice of only Boy Two receiving a painting craft, but he didn’t say a word. “I guess he’s just not that worried about it,” I thought, but I underestimated him. He had a plan.

When it was finally painting day, Boy Two excitedly laid out his paints and went right to work. A few minutes later, I looked in to see Boy One working diligently with the paints while Boy Two played Minecraft. Both seemed content so I didn’t get involved. When the painting was finished, Boy Two thanked his brother profusely for completing it for him.

With that success under his belt, Boy One moved on to his next conquest. Within minutes, he was “helping” Boy Two build a structure in Minecraft while Boy Two watched. He even suggested that Boy Two cover his eyes so he could be “surprised” at the end result when Boy Two tried to exercise a little too much creative control over the structure.

This is a risky game that Boy One is playing because Boy Two is significantly stronger than him and he knows it, but so far we’re at Brains – 2, Brawn – 0 for the evening.

We should take this back to my place

Kids are like large breed dogs. They need room to run and be free. They aren’t meant to be contained inside an enclosure or a small yard. If it weren’t illegal to just have your kids live outside like cave men, that’s what I would do. Because that’s where they belong. How’s that for free-range parenting?

Anyway, I have mad respect for the town moms. How can a mom maintain sanity when her children must always be within a half-acre of her? Without the option of banishing my kids to a big yard where the wind can carry their grating, obnoxious, screeching, tattling screams far away, it is unlikely that I would survive this.

My mom is a town mom and, between my kids and other random kids, there is an average of six children at her house at any given point. Her house sounds like a troop of 20 howler monkeys crammed into a cat carrier. She can send them outside, but that opens a whole new set of issues. It’s impossible to keep them  contained in her small patch of yard, which inevitably causes problems with neighbors in such close proximity. You may remember my previous post about my boys painting her neighbor’s shed. And when they aren’t committing vandalism, they can usually be found out on the town, socializing with folks – begging for food or scrap metal like a couple of impoverished orphans.

Today, there were 7 kids at Mom’s house and I was in charge for a few hours. After the 762nd time of rounding them up and forcing them back inside, and the 763rd time of them tearing the house completely apart, I decided this wasn’t working for me, so we loaded up to head out to my house. It’s a 20 minute drive to my house and they progressively got louder as we went  to the point where I actually would have dumped them on the side of the road like an unplanned litter of kittens if I had a cardboard box big enough.

We finally made it to the house and I opened the doors.

Get out of the car and don’t go in the house.

They leapt out of the car like a herd of gazelles being reintegrated to the savanna. As their shrieks became quieter I thought, “Well isn’t that a beautiful sight?

Enjoy your afternoon, children. May the wind always be at your back and the sun upon your face. Always. Or at least long enough for me to finish this brief episode of day drinking.

The Girl that’s driving me mad

In 2015, between both sides of my family, we welcomed a whole crop of new babies. I was lucky enough to be one of the moms welcoming a new baby that year.

One baby turned out to be a sweet, quiet boy who rarely makes a peep unless he actually needs something.

Another baby is some kind of savant child that has been reciting her ABCs basically since birth.

Another says “shut up.” As in, that’s her response to everything.

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Do you want to get in your chair for dinner?

Shut up.

What does a dog say?

Shut up.

Mommy loves you!

Shut up.

I’ll let you guess which one is mine.