Wash your mouth out . . . with blueberry sauce

We are a family rife with loud voices, discontent, arguing and lots of moments where I am telling someone (most often the hubby), “That’s inappropriate!” I’d like to think, too, that we are a fun family, but when it all comes down to it the kids rarely have fun that isn’t overbore by Dad or myself.

Case in point – pretty much every single time the boys decide to placate me and put aside their differences and play together inside the house, one of the disembodied parental voices yells, “Knock it off!” or “No wrestling in the house. How many times do I have to tell you?” or “Take it outside.” Or “what are you doing? Pull your pants up!”

It doesn’t make much sense, I know. We tell them to get along and then the second they are, we’re telling them to stop the noise. Sometimes, I swear that the sound that ruffles me the most is the sound of their laughter. Why does it make me so annoyed/vexed/exhausted?

These poor kids can’t catch a break. I’m always thwarting their fun, whether it’s halting the jumping from one couch to the other, pulling out a kid hiding in the dryer or snatching a ten pound steel (steel? Aluminum? Iron?) sword from swordsmen fighting in the basement with Dad’s annoyingly ritzy display swords. Even during playtime, I’m constantly admonishing them for rough play or potty talk. I am annoying my own self with my harpy-ness, so I’ve been sneakily letting my kids get away with stuff. Liam’s been staying up late every night listening to music on his iPod. Connor has studied for his weekly spelling test only once a week for nearly a month (and has probably skipped a worksheet or three). I watched four-year-old Jack hanging out by the fence and discussing life, poop and all things boy with our neighbor kids. I saw him pretend to pull his pants down and pee on a tree, all the while grinning while the other boys hooted and howled with laughter. Should I have stepped in? Maybe, but then what? What would I have said? “Don’t pretend to pee?” I was thrilled that he kept his pants up and only pretended. Should I be suppressing that behavior and potty talk? I can understand putting a limit on it, a la not in public, but your own backyard is fine; but I really can’t see putting the kibosh on it altogether. It’s unreasonable for me, as a mom of three boys, to expect potty-less behavior out of them. Heck, even I indulge in a little bathroom humor every once in a while, especially when cooing to the baby I babysit for (“There! Your witto butt-ski is all clean!” “Lets do the poopy dance! Poo-pee, poo-pee, poo-pee!”). Yeah, I don’t think that’s beneath me, so why would I attempt to hold them up to standards that even I don’t reach (even with platforms)?

The other night, Liam’s 11th birthday, our family threw caution to the wind and indulged a little in some sweets and some swearing. After Liam blew out his candles on his delicious-looking blueberry cheesecake, we all sat around stuffing our faces and pondering how quickly another year flew by. Out of the blue, Connor solicited a free pass to say a swear word. “No,” I said through my third bite of cake. I didn’t even have to think about it.

“C’mon, please?”

And then I astonished my hubby and myself. “Okay, sure. You guys each get five seconds to say any swear word you want.” I paused for a second and considered imparting a ban on a word or two, but then thought, ‘balls to the walls, let’s do this right.’

Squeals of delight, and perhaps a gasp of disbelief, made me smile. I was going to take a step back and let these boys be boys, even if it meant quite possibly doing the wrong thing and being a less-than-stellar role model.

Connor immediately piped up with three words and when he paused to think, I may have done back handsprings in my mind when I realized he used the three most overused and overlooked swears there are (a$$, $h*t and d@m&). Life could be worse. If Connor used these, and he exhibited self-control, then there is no way any more are going to be said. I know my boys, and –

“A$$! $h*t! D@m&!” Peals of laughter encircled the table. Holy buns! Did my baby just say that? Of course he did. He’s the parrot of the group, always looking to Connor for comic relief and material to be used at a later date.

“Go ahead, Liam,” I sighed, smiling. “Your time is almost up.”

“Mom! I can’t say a swear! I’d be too embarrassed.” His face was already pinking as he grinned crazily through his purple mustache of blueberry sauce.

“Really. It’s okay. Your brothers did and they aren’t in trouble.”

“No! I, I can’t. I’m . . . too . . . embarrassed.”

“Okay then.” I turned to Dad and began to talk about some mundane aspect of my day.

Liam cleared his throat. He coughed. “I mean, it’s not every day a kid can say a bad word like fu^&!”

According to my husband, the sound I made at hearing the holy grail of swear words come out of my innocent birthday boy’s mouth was a little like a foghorn mixed with a squeal . . . and lasted for an entire count of six.


Liam’s face was deep red. He was smiling, but scared. Yes, it was a scared smile. “Mom, you said-”

“I know what I said! I just didn’t think you’d drop the f-bomb like that in front of your brothers! In front of dad! In front of meeeee!” Now my face was red. I shook my head and stared at him in horror/humor. Where did this kid come from? Is this puberty? A new kid every week? My sweet boy resurfaced a few times later that night. Every time he would see me, he’d say, “I’m just so ashamed of myself!” Looks like I may be raising that one right.

The picture of innocence will be shattered in 5, 4, 3 . . .

The picture of innocence will be shattered in 5, 4, 3 . . .

So, I tried my hand at stepping back and letting the kids have a little free fun and it wasn’t too bad. Do I think I’ll do less of it? Maybe. The kids won’t be swearing anytime soon, and pulling down pants and showing off peepees is a definite no-no still, but letting them play chicken on their bikes in the middle of the road sans helmets and spray each other with the Weed-B-Gone will still be allowed. As long as they’re having fun. And not making messes. And quiet. I have to pick my battles.


Fallible Friday

After perusing some other blog sites to see how I could better mine, I found that having a day during the week with the same theme every week is quite popular (and no, I am not too proud to admit that I scam others’ ideas  . . . but just the idea, mind you.  Not the actual word usage/theme/storyline).  Anywho, I’ve come up with two themes for the week: Mug Shot Mondays and Fallible Fridays, the latter of which we begin today.   Mug Shot Mondays will debut in a mere three days, so be prepared to see my kids’ dirty laundry aired . . . and no, that is not just a figure of speech.  I am certain that some dirty laundry will inevitably end up in their “mug shots” from the week prior – I promise to document anything stupid/silly/questionable I catch them doing . . . and Number One has a real winner from this morning.  Stay tuned!

So we begin with Fallible Fridays, where I will document the weeks’ transgressions, shortfalls, and utter failures.  Some weeks may have more than others as my moods fluctuate from stable to get-the-hell-out-of-my-way.  This week, however, is mild in terms of failure.

Huh.  Surprisingly, looking back on the week, there’s not much to complain about.  No big fails until Thursday/Friday.  Lookin’ good, Mama!

No matter how good the beginning of the week looked in terms of parenting/teaching my kids valuable life lessons, Thursday was a struggle.  It was a beautiful day, which was almost a thorn in my rose.  I stared out the window at a yard smothered in leaves and dreaded the foreseeable future, the one that found me raking all by my lonesome.  “Have the boys help you!” said my eternally optimistic neighbor.  Great idea, I agreed, until I thought about the ramifications of their “help” – bickering, complaining, whining, snacking, full out fighting, and the constant, never ending blabbering.  Sigh.  I was tired and hadn’t even picked up a rake, but I had made my first huge parenting mistake of the day by letting my kids off the hook because I didn’t have the patience to deal with them.  This is why I am still the only one (beside the other adult in the house) doing dishes, laundry, dusting, and picking up dirty undies from the bathroom floor.  Theirs, obviously.

It was near dark when I finally got a bee in my bonnet to start up the leaf blower (by myself, of course) and see if I could just blow the leaves into a pile (not exactly how that works, right?!).  Attempt number one to start the blower failed.  Attempt number two to start the blower failed, as did attempts numbered three and four.  I found myself kicking the blower, slamming the door and locking myself in the bathroom huffing and puffing and wiping tears of frustration out of my eyes.  As I got a hold of myself and left the bathroom, there was my former temper-tantrumming nine-year-old, eyes full of worry, asking me if I was okay.  How does one tell their kid they were just throwing a fit like the one their kid was put in timeout for?  Seriously, I need to know because I didn’t tell him anything of the sort.  I lied.  I told him I hurt myself trying to start the blower and not the truth (I threw a huge fit, kicked the blower, slammed the door and swore under my breath because of an inanimate object.  ‘Please do as I say and not as I do’ does not work for me.  But lying?  Yep, that’s something I can handle.).  I did end up getting that damn blower to start, but then it ran out of gas five minutes into the job.  And no, I did not know how to fill it back up.

Friday, Friday, fabulous Friday.  Seven am found one kid sick and one bouncing off the walls.  I had to turn that energy of his into something positive so we raked.

Hours of toiling over a yard smothered in leaves was surprisingly serene and beautiful.

Hours of toiling over a yard smothered in leaves was surprisingly serene and beautiful.

Well, I raked.  He de-raked, which wasn’t that big of a deal because let me tell you, exercise really is good for the soul.  I was loving the OCD-like methodology of dividing the yard into a quadrant of six . . .wait.  Wouldn’t that be a sextant? I guess not, but based on the mathematical (? Probably wrong there, too) fact that sex means six . . . anyway, it was smooth sailing for me.  My stress from the week was a meltin’ away.  I was even looking forward to mowing the whole yard after the leaves were gone, and wouldn’t you know it?  It was the mower that spoiled that fun for me.  That a-hole wouldn’t start.  All I wanted to do was mow the stinkin’ yard after the hours I spent raking all those leaves.  One would think that after the raking, my arm muscles would be bulging and pulling the mower rope would be a cinch, but sadly, no.  Hopefully none of my neighbors were within earshot of me muttering to the mower and myself, and thus doing my children no favors at all by my nonexistent approach to filtering myself and censoring my less-then-positive behaviors.

Soo, long story short, I’ll keep the griping and complaining to Fridays because we all know I’m going to do it anyway.  I might as well find the right outlet for it.

Love/Hate Top Five

As many stay-at-home mamas out there can agree, there is a definite love/hate relationship with the job that I think most women aspire to have.  While listening, once again, to my four-year-old’s incessant diarrhea of the mouth earlier today, I caught myself simultaneously hoping to stay home longer and hoping to get the heck out of Dodge asap.  I created a short pro/con list to assist me in my decision-making prowess.

The top five reasons I love my job:

1)   I get to hear everything my kids say. 

I really do love this – sometimes I overhear the older ones making plans about what game they are going to play outside and my heart melts a little at their collaborative kindness (“if we’re playing Hunger Games, no sissy fighting, okay?  Only real fighting.  Yeah, I know I made your nose bleed last time, but it’s not accurate if we don’t get hurt”).  Every once in a while I hear my four-year-old involved in playful chatting with his friends, the cat, or his toys . . . no matter who is on the other end of his soliloquy, he is full of vigor and passion for his topic.  Just this morning he was talking to the iPad about the game he was playing.  ‘Woohoo, I’m home.  It was cold out there.  Yay pirates.  It’s loading, that’s why I have to wait.  Oh, there you are.  I have a cold and I need a tuh-shoe.”  Who knew Siri was such a great listener?

2)   I do not have to be dressed well in order to do my job.

I can perform probably ninety percent of my job wearing pajamas.  Meh, scratch that. Ninety-five percent.  I technically could grocery shop in pajamas, though I try to be classier than that.  Oh, and I don’t grocery shop.  But I do wipe noses and butts, counters and toilets, floors and windows. Who wants to be wearing heels and a slimming cami while doing all that?

3) I perform nearly every aspect of my job when I want.

If I want to do laundry at ten pm, I do.  If I want to vacuum at seven am, I do.  If I want to wash dishes at midnight, I do. If I want to run to the post office while my kids eat dinner, shoeless and possibly shirtless in the backseat of the van, I do!  I wouldn’t suggest this, though, as the past few times it’s been attempted it has resulted in a messy van, crabby kids, and a closed post office. It’s a little exhilarating being able to freestyle like this.  My old boss wouldn’t let me behave this way.

4)   If I have a giant pimple, my kids are the only ones to see it. 

Need I say more about this, ladies?  We understand the importance of a little ignorance.

5)   If I have a sick day, I don’t have to be embarrassed to call in. 

If I’m sick, I can curl up in bed all day, not shower, blow my nose with no inhibitions . . . sleep when I need to . . .

The top five reasons I hate my job:

1)   I get to hear everything my kids say. 

Everything.  Every.  Thing.  The most disgusting things, like the little guy talking to Sissy tonight – “I have boogers.”  The most mundane – “And then Caden said hi and I walked down the hall and saw Merri at the library and she had a book . . . I can’t remember which one . . . wait Mom, I wasn’t done.  Then the teacher told us to get our books out and a pencil fell on the floor and I picked it up with the finger I slammed in the . . .” and I’m done.

2)   I do not have to be dressed well in order to do my job. 

Even in the middle of the day when a solicitor/FedEx delivery guy/neighbor knocks at the door.  How many times have I been caught in dirty pants (we’re talking food smears and cat hair all over), braless, and in a shirt with holes in it?  Too many I tell you!  I should probably try a little harder to be presentable at most working hours of the day.  It’s a bit damaging to my pride.

3)   I perform nearly every aspect of my job when I want. 

And in my world, that means if I don’t want to do it, then I don’t.  So most mornings I’m scrambling for clean pants with no holes for the big boys, or to make their lunches at the last minute, or doing four loads of laundry in one day.

4)   If I have a giant pimple, my kids are the only ones to see it. 

But while they are ignorant to many, many things, if they do end up noticing an imperfection, they don’t keep their comments to themselves as most adults do.

5)   If I have a sick day, I don’t have to be embarrassed to call in. 

Because I can’t call in.  That pretty little picture I painted about curling up in bed?  Yeah, that’ll never happen for longer than ten minutes, which is about the time frame in which the little one can go without a big orange juice or a snack.  And no, he can’t get it himself.  Unless I want to clean up another mess.

I’d say that after thinking it over, I’m still fifty percent sure I want a new job.

And fifty percent sure I don’t.

The secret to well-behaved kids

I just read an article about the secret to well-behaved kids.  Of course I read that article.  Probably every mom that came across that news link read that article, hoping to attain the secret.   Is it medication? Drugs?  Regular beatings?  A sugar-free diet?  Private school?  No.  It’s a real letdown of a secret: a regular bedtime. 

 Are you kidding me?!  My children (and yes, I know they probably aren’t the best example for this argument) go to bed at the same time every night. In an attempt to create a more harmonious household, I thought this year the kids should have a better bedtime routine; a la bedtime snacks at a set time, showers at a set time, tooth brushing at a set time, stories at a set time and bed at a set time.  With the implementation of this difficult-to-live-by-at-the-end-of-the-day-because-I-have-no-more-patience-left schedule, bedtime is now my favorite time of day (after they are sleeping, of course)!  I can’t stand when I (I mean the kids) miss a second of their sweet slumber.  Not because of their bad behavior the next day, but because that is MY time.  My time to paint my nails, watch hours of bad TV (and good TV, too, I’m an equal opportunity watcher), read, play laser tag with the cat, drink as many cups as I want of piping hot tea without the worry that someone will a) spill it on themselves or b) want to share . . . Seems I’m a bit of a loser. Huh.  It makes up for the hours during the day when I’m picking up a dish of half-chewed grapes from beneath the table, a bag of Goldfish crackers from the bathroom (god, boys are so gross), countless pairs of dirty socks (and when did their cute toddler feet turn into man feet?  I literally pinch the socks with the tips of my fingers and try not to touch too much of them with my bare skin), empty plastic cups from the yard, Band-Aid wrappers sprinkled from one room to another, candy corn smushed into the carpet, Pringles littering the garage floor, etc.  They need their sleep to rejuvenate themselves, and I need their sleep to rejuvenate me from their daily and nightly shenanigans.

 Case in point, yet again:  last night, the little guy rolled on the floor for ten minutes, screaming and kicking because I wasn’t going to let him have the iPad right before bed.  The cat got kicked (okay, accidentally, but still), the candle fell from the end table and the entire pile of folded laundry on the floor was knocked over.  My fault for letting it sit there since eleven am. 

 Anyway, he is no stranger to the bedtime routine.  Every night at 6:50 pm, I warn him that he has ten minutes until bed.  “How many books, one or two?”


 “A big milk or a little milk?”

 “Big milk!” Big as in one inch of milk in the bottom of the glass.  In my experience with multiple boys, one should not actually give a kid a literal “big milk” at bedtime.  Unless they have an expensive mattress protector.  One that actually works.

 I even go as far as to employ a special parenting philosophy I read about a while back (1-2-3 Magic) – if you give a kid choices that you already agree to, they feel that they are in charge and the power struggle one may expect will actually vanish.  It works, if you’re not me and use it correctly (meaning, say only the choices and nothing more.  Don’t go on and on and on, warning and bickering and changing your mind like me).

 Even though the choices went off without a hitch, he was still crying and fit throwing, begging for the iPad, which I knew would cause another fit when it was time to turn it off. 

 “Do you want to run up the stairs or walk up the stairs?”  I asked, hoping to turn the night around.

 “iPad poopy.”

 “Okay, my choice.  I choose that you walk up the stairs.”  Again, a little tidbit from a book.  When the kid doesn’t make a choice, you make it for him.  

 “Poop up the stairs.”

 Baaa!  At what point can I give up?  When can I have the hissy fit?!  Is all this really necessary?  Am I really expected to continue having a conversation with no one, essentially? 

 He was watching me with a defiant glint in his eye.  His foot was inching toward the base of the coffee table – one good thrust and the glass top would be the glass bottom.  “Poop.” One word and all I can think is: Is this what my life has become?  Must I be the hostage negotiator, hoping to get the coffee table out in one piece? 

 “Walk. Up. The. Stairs.”  I said, pointing.  What a joke.  How can one make a child walk?  Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of experience with trying and have some shin bruises and dents in the walls to show for it.

 In the end, as the youngest child is often the martyr, he was carried up the stairs, kicking and screaming and sobbing about his loss of reading time and unceremonious tuck-in.  The elder two watched in disappointment, as well they should have. There is not a chance in heck of them getting away with anything on a grab and carry night.  Sometimes you just gotta take matters into your own hands.  Literally. 

 This bedtime/behavior study has me flummoxed.  Are kids really better behaved with a regular bedtime?  If so, mine should be pretty good.  But . . . there’s always that trip to the store where two kids are physically fighting before we get inside, one runs off and hides in the racks, one is crying because they were counted down to no treat, one pushes the cart into my heels (three times in one trip.  And not accidental.), and yet another feels the need to take the opportunity in public to tell me of all my shortcomings as a mother. There’s aways the youngest locking his friends out of our house or the older two sneaking off to the neighbor’s and playing Minecraft on a school night.  

 Bedtimes here are sacred, but certainly not the path to enlightenment and perfect kids.  Sometimes I even think my kids would be better behaved in the mornings . . . while they are still asleep . . . so I wonder if I should allow them to stay up later?