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.


Bad to the third power

My littlest guy and I sat outside in the warm October sun this afternoon.  He cuddled on my lap for no good reason for a good fifteen minutes before the ants in his pants took over.  He bumped the table and spilled hot tea, he knocked my brand spankin’ new book to the ground (Follow me on Goodreads!) and he missed stepping on the same sugar-fiending wasp by millimeters about twenty times.  As I was stressing about the impending sting and wondering if we should just go inside, I ruminated on the old saying, “bad things happen in threes.”

 My most memorable taste of the physical destruction of boys happened when my second monkey was nearly two.  He was jump-jump-jumping on the bed and just when I told him to stop, he fell off and cracked his eyebrow on the corner of the dresser.  I saw red – literally.  Blood was running everywhere, he was screaming and I was sweating it – a trip to the ER with a hyper and hurt toddler was going to be anything but fun.  Surprisingly, as rambunctious as this boy normally was, he was calm and still for the entire episode of the show I was watching – “Stitch: The Big Owie”.  It was mere months after that that the same boy ran head first into a corner, creating a gash (no stitches this time!) and a h-u-g-e goose egg right on the middle of his forehead.  As if that wasn’t enough pain for him, a few days later he backed into a roaring woodstove, sans diaper, and burnt his little baby butt cheek.  I have a picture of this, but isn’t it unsavory to post a picture of a little boy’s bare booty on the internet?

 It seemed that my life was going to follow the saying and I was given a reprieve for a few years until both my older boys suffered from Lyme disease.  Yeah, what are the chances that these bacteria would infect both boys at the same time?  Imagine my surprise when they woke with crazy bull’s-eye rashes all over their bodies and suffered debilitating body aches and fevers . . . lo and behold, Lyme disease was the culprit for both (don’t tell my dad that, though.  Although three blood tests came back positive, one for each boy and one for the naysayer himself, he still claims it hogwash). 

 It was another year of a peaceful owie break before all hell broke loose.  For real.  Looking back, I don’t know how I stayed in one mental piece.  In the course of one week, I was in the ER twice with two different children and could very well have been in three times had I not been more embarrassed than certain that my child needed emergency medical care. 

 Day One:  Aforementioned middle monkey doubles over in pain hours after eating an entire tin of chewable mints (but I didn’t know that little factoid until it was unnecessary), screaming that he is going to “blow up”.  A CAT scan, four wasted hours and a few thousand dollars later the kid is giggling and grinning as he is blasting gas out of his nether regions at a rate even the surgeon couldn’t believe – though that didn’t stop that classy guy from making jokes about my monkey’s talent.  Imagine my embarrassment.  Here I was thinking his appendix had ruptured and all he had was gas.

 Day Four: Baby is running through the dining room like the madman he was when BAM!  Smack into yet another corner of yet another wall with yet another goose egg.  It must run in the family.  Trip number two to the ER results in another few hundred dollars long gone and three stitches – not to mention the discomfort and poor confidence in my parenting skills when the same doctor from the last visit enters the room and recognizes me, a la, “Hey, I know you.” Puzzled glance at the chart.  “This isn’t the same kid . . .” Puzzled glance at me. 

 Day Five: Same baby launches himself off the table and bites through his lip.  Listen to my phone conversation: “You need to get home now.  Baby’s bleeding again and someone else has to take him to the ER.  I can’t see the same doctor three times in one week!”  I was borderline hysterical.  After dad arrived, we determined that he probably didn’t need a trip to the doctor just yet.  Or, to be brutally honest, we determined that neither one of us wanted to go back a third time and possibly suffer the shame of inattentive parenting.

 Day Six: Again, the same little guy (at this point, the reader ought to know that he was almost two, which should explain everything to those who have had two-year-old boys) climbs onto a fire hydrant and tries unsuccessfully to jump off.  End result? Two big scrapes on his thighs.

 Day Seven: (Need I even mention who this is about?)  Yes, the baby fell and bit through the almost healed part of his lip.  I probably could have laughed that part off (oh, haha, another owie for the toddler! What next?!), but then he opened a drawer in the bathroom while I was wringing out the bloody washcloth for his mouth, found the tiniest vial of sample perfume and sprayed that sucker directly into both of his eyes. I sat in the corner and cried . . . after washing out his eyes for what seemed like an eternity. Trust me, that was no small feat and deserved the tears shed by the both of us.  Mothering can be a thankless job.

 In the tentative end of all the commotion of destruction, as we’ve been pretty lucky for the past few months, I smile about the comment the doctor made after she handed the littlest monkey a sucker after taking out his stitches.  “Just don’t fall and split it open again!”  Are you serious?!  If she knew what had gone on since those stitches came out, she’s be prescribing me Xanax like candy and offering the kids ten pound bags of pixie sticks because after all, the same way the sucker was a peace offering, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down – or in our house, dulls the pain – in the most delightful way!  And with three boys, I’m potentially looking at nine bad things happening at a time.  Now where’s my Xanax prescription?