Bike Rider

Jane has been using a scoot bike for the last few years.

A scoot bike, for those of you who are not familiar, is a bike that has no pedals/gears/etc (some people call it a balance bike).  Kids can learn to balance and steer while they push themselves along on their feet Fred Flintstone-style. Jane was a master scoot biker but until this last week was completely unwilling to make the transition to *gasp* *shudder* *panic* …pedals.

But, this week, she, with help of a ridiculous purple Disney princess endowed bike (thank you Grandma Mary) was convinced to give the pedals a try – sans training wheels. There was panicking. There was whining. There was moaning. There were two really unconcerned and unhelpful parents because they had seen her navigate the downhill slope of our terribly rutted gravel driveway on her scoo

t bike and she was going to be fine as soon as she tried it.  Twenty min. later Jane was riding a real bike.

An hour later she called me out to watch.

Personally “Mom, watch me!” inspires feelings of dread and desperate wishes to have something, anything, else to do. But not this time. This time I was excited for her. She was riding a real bike.  With pedals. It’s a big milestone. I willingly went to the driveway to watch.

Foolish, foolish mother…

“Mom, count how many times I can go around the circle.”

(the circle being the small paved area in front of our two-car garage.)

“One!”

Foolish, foolish mother.

….

“Five!”

I was still proud of her.

“Twelve.”

I was still proud but the novelty had worn off.

“Twenty one.”

I sent Clara for a camera so I would have something to do.

“Thirty seven.”

“NO! You didn’t’ say thirty six, this is thirty six.”

“Oh, I just counted in my head.”

“That doesn’t count!”

“… thirty six….”

“forty five…”

Foolish, foolish mother.

“MOM ARE YOU STILL COUNTING?!?!”

“SIXTY EIGHT!”

“Aren’t I good at bike riding?!?!?”

“… seventy… three…. *yawn*”

I started daydreaming about setting time limits. As in, “Yay! You learned something new, I’ll be encouraging that new skill for the next five min and then I’m moving on. Ready… Go!”

“eighty eight”

This is right about when Clara, also bored out of her skull wanted to show off her bike riding skills too. Complete chaos ensued. Bike crashes, screaming, fighting, gravel needed to be brushed out of palms, the whole nine yards.

The dust settled, and there was Jane, still riding her bike and also demanding the entire driveway to herself.

“Fine. You can have the whole driveway but I’m not watching anymore after one hundred.”

My feelings of pride were lessening, the novelty was gone and my encouragement was getting mighty thin.

“ninty nine.”

“one hundred!!!”

Foolish, foolish mother.

“Aren’t you going to keep counting?”

 

Moral of the story: “Watch me” never, ever, ends well for the mother.

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A Dubious Purchase

I did something recently I’ve never done before. Something I would have never guessed I would have done. Something that I still can’t believe I did.

I bought a bag of makeup.

This might not sound so ridiculous to you so let me be more clear. I, whose makeup purchases in the last 10 years begins and ends with two identical tubes of mascara, bought a bag of totally random makeup. A bag of makeup that, I might add, didn’t even have single tube of mascara in it.

The woman selling it was very good, very sneaky saleswoman, she caught me at my most vulnerable, in the toy aisle of Walmart. You see it happened like this…

Ivy needed a birthday gift for a friend. I needed printer ink and tortellini. Walmart was the place to go. I met the girls in the driveway after school, so we could all go shopping together. This was mistake number one. The girls (well everyone really) are at their worst at 3:45 in the afternoon.

Everyone knows that at 3:45 you should either be taking a nap or just getting up from one. Not a single one of those girls is either sleeping or has just slept when they climb off the bus.  I, waiting in the truck, was also not sleeping, and I hadn’t taken a nap either. That was probably mistake number two.

After school is also the time when everyone is hungry. I’m sure this has something to do with the fact that Ivy keeps growing and is a bottomless pit, Jane eats slower than a snail in February and always has at least half of her lunch left and Clara, well Clara eats a snack at school at 2:30, I have no idea why she’s starving when she gets home but she is.

So I took those tired, hungry and therefore cranky children, who I knew would be tired, hungry and cranky and loaded them up in the truck anyway.  All the other mistakes pale in comparison to that decision and all things that came after this point were directly related to that decision.

Now, Walmart is the closest place for us to buy these three random things but it’s still just about a half an hour away. And remember how the kids are always hungry when they get home from school? Good, because I forgot. So Jane’s leftover lunch parts were fought over, Clara performed a random feat of magic and pulled half a bag of veggie chips from her backpack (I have no other explanation for it’s appearance) and then all the available food was declared boring and fighting erupted. The backseat food wars escalated until the truck pulled over and children were separated in such a way that no one could stay buckled up touch anyone else.

And you wonder why we drive such a big vehicle.

Now before you envision me as the wild haired frantic mother yelling “Don’t make me pull over,” I just want to say that, on this day, I handled everything with a remarkably calm and cool attitude- on the outside.

Approximately 23 grey hairs later we pulled into the park lot. Parking lots, if you don’t know, are triggers for kids to start begging for snacks. Me, evil monster mother of ridiculous expectations said, “No.”

Repeatedly.

There was crying, there was begging, there was the slowest putting on of shoes ever. And then we went into a Super Walmart.

Miraculously, and in a way that you may only understand if you also have young children, the girls all became angels. They held hands and stayed close and smiled and giggled with one another. They happily tried on super freaky looking giant animal heads. My mind reeled with the sudden change of attitude.  And then we hit the toy aisle.

Ivy was looking for a Smooshy, or a Mooshy or a Squishy or some sort of weird smash-able toy. And while they all maniacally ran up and down the aisle asking if they could get toys of their own, (No!) Ivy tried to educate me on the differences between Smooshys, and Mooshys, and Squishys and Smashies and Gooshies and… Under the guise of looking for a Mashy-Smooshy-Smush I threw one last “no” over my shoulder and snuck off toward the LEGO mini-figures.

That’s when she pounced.

Targeting moms in a Walmart toy aisle. It’s either the cruelest act ever or complete stroke of brilliance. Just wait until those mothers have said “no” so many times to their kids they don’t have any resistance left. Then use normal adult language without even a hint pouting while you show them your wonderful shimmer powder and bag of makeup that they can buy, right there between the LEGOS and the Barbies…

I didn’t even protest, I didn’t even fight, I just handed over some cold hard cash and walked away with a small bag of makeup products half of which I’ve never owned and had no idea what to do with.

When I got home I looked at what I had bought, saw that it included a pair of false eyelashes, panicked and did what every girl faced with a bad day and a pile of makeup does. I called my friends.  I had to let them know I was probably having some sort of traumatic crisis and I was in need of help, support, love and makeup tutorials.

 

Life Begins When The Kids Leave Home and the Dog Dies by Barb Taub

Barb Taub has another book out!

Though I must say this collection of essays is really more of a…. pick it up and hide in the closet with some chocolate and read it when the dog just threw up on the carpet again and the car died and your kids have gone on a hunger strike so you know that you aren’t alone in the wild world of parenting and family drama…. rather than a sit down and read it cover to cover with a nice hot cup of tea kinda book.

‘Cause when you laugh that tea is gonna come right out your nose, and it’s gonna hurt.

Would I recommend it? Of course!

The Missing Candy

I always knew that being a parent meant getting woken up in the middle of the night.

However, I was completely unprepared for the variety of things that would cause my children to think “Hey look, it’s 3:55 AM, I better go tell mom all about this – right now!”

Last night Jane showed up at the side of our bed at, you guessed it, 3:55 AM.

She was very upset.

This is not unusual. Most children who arrive in the middle of the night in the pitch black are upset. What was unusual was that she was upset about her candy.

That’s right, Jane woke me up just before 4 AM to tell me that her candy was missing.

Apparently, her secret stash of candy (which never should have been in her room in the first place) was missing, it was probably Goose’s fault and what was I going to do about it.

My intelligent response to this was, “Urgh. Murble. Rummppfff.”

Jane was unimpressed so she repeated her tale louder and more insistently which woke me up enough that I replied with an ever more intelligent, “How about you come snuggle with me.”

Which she did as she continued to talk about her candy. Finally after listening to her candy dilemma for six hours, (or maybe six seconds, it’s hard to tell…I’m not at my best at 3:55 AM)  I harshly yelled at her to be quiet because it was the middle of the night and why was she even talking about candy?!?

Then she cried, fell asleep, hogged the bed, messed up the covers and was a giant pain right smack dab in the middle of John and I for the rest of the night.

This morning the first thing she did was run to inspect her candy stash. Admittedly I rolled my eyes when she started in talking about it again.  I thought that this had all been a bad dream, maybe her dream, maybe mine, maybe we both had a bad dream but I didn’t think it was real because…

Who would inspect their secret candy stash at 3:55 AM?!?

But it was true. Her secret candy stash was missing and all she could find was a chewed on sucker stick with the wrapper still clinging to it.  She was crushed.

I told her to hurry up and put her clothes on before she was late for school.

Moral of the Story: Mom’s have no sympathy when breaking the rules backfires on you.

Other Moral of the Story: Never underestimate the power of children to disrupt your sleep. 

 

Mom Ears

I lost my mom ears.

You know, the super sonic hearing ears that let you know every time your child rolls over, coughs or calls out your name.

They broke.

It’s the best thing that’s happened to me in years. Now instead of me jumping out of bed when kids cry or make other random noises in the night, John does. I don’t hear a thing, he has to tell me about it in the morning.

It. Is. Amazing.

I think this is what he felt like all those nights I was up nursing kids and banishing boogey men. (And yes, I nursed those girls, we have YEARS to go before John is even close to catching up with late night waking hours.)

There is one problem though. Since I don’t hear the girls I don’t know they are coming until they show up next to the bed. John can attest from his years on the night shift that when I wake up with someone next to the bed, I scream. For years I woke up to John saying “It’s John! It’s John! It’s John!” until I turned my siren off.

Clara recently got a new blanket, a zebra blanket. It’s soft and fuzzy and has a “hood” on it with a stuffed zebra head she can pull over her own. She loves it. Clara wears it around the house while getting ready for school and sleeps with it every night. It is her new favorite thing.

This was not staged. This is just what she looked like when I went to check on her tonight!

So, when Clara came down to our bed in the middle of the night, I didn’t hear her coming. I didn’t notice her standing next to the bed. In fact I didn’t register her presence at all until a zebra was climbing into my bed and it’s big black zebra nose touched my face.

Facts.

1) I really hate it when things touch my face when I’m sleeping.

2) Zebras are more startling than small children.

3) Screaming in a panicked fashion in your child’s face does not make them feel better.

I lost my mom ears. It’s pretty amazing but I do feel a bit bad for the kids.

 

 

No Screens in the Car

John and I are mean spirited and old fashioned in our parenting and we are at our nastiest in the car where we won’t let the kids play on screens while we drive.

Clearly we are monsters.

We enforce this rule because we want the girls to grow up with the skill of being able to occupy themselves without a screen for more than five minutes without succumbing to a case of “I’m bored’s”. I do realize that this is probably a skill they will never need to use once they leave my house. That’s fine. My dad made me learn DOS, I’m just passing it on to the next generation as well as I can.

The other reason we are sticklers about this particular rule is that we are not shelling out the money to get them each some sort of handheld screened device and you know what would happen if there was only one to share…

Fighting. One screen does not divide among three girls. We know this. Oh do we know this.

Instead my poor, deprived, screen-less girls current favorite thing to do in the car is to “collect” all the edibles we drive by.

“I get this side!”

“I get this side”

“WHAT SIDE DO I GET?!?”

“I get the corn!”

“I get soybeans!”

“I get that wheat!”

“Yeah, well I get ALL the corn!”

“You can’t have ALL the corn!”

“I got those strawberry patches!”

“I DIDN’T SEE STRAWBERRIES, THAT’S NOT FAIR!”

“I got this corn too!”

“YOU HAVE TO SHARE THE CORN!”

Yes, that’s right. Currently my girls’ favorite thing to do in the car is to fight over the cornfields we drive by.

Proof that it doesn’t really matter what you do as a parent, when in the mood kids always know exactly how to push each others’ buttons.

On the bright side, it’s working – they aren’t bored.

 

Timeline to Happy

Jane and I had an accidental head bonking that spiraled out of control.

Perhaps if you haven’t bonked heads with a small overtired child that might not make sense. But let me explain, it goes a bit like this.

You are the mom. You accidentally bump head with your own child. Your child completely FREAKS out because clearly you are out to kill them, never mind that the head bump made your own eyes water, you are the mother and that is not important. Instead of accepting your heartfelt apology gracefully, or even reluctantly the child lashes out kicking and yelling. Which makes all the sense in the world because you were trying to maim them by clocking them with your own temple. Then you, the mother with the hurting head, yells back at the child who’s trying to beat you up with their tiny pokey fists and feet because even though you know it won’t actually help anything your head hurts and none of what happened since heads banged together makes sense anyway and besides by this time you have “HAD ENOUGH!”. The child then runs off crying because they hate everyone, in particular, you. 

After we retreated to separate corners for awhile, Jane came over and gave me this note.29

This is clearly a time line to happy. At 2 o’clock Jane is sad because we bonked heads and yelled at each other and she will slowly get happier until 5 o’clock when she is back to being extra happy.  I know this because she told me.

Luckily for all of us, Jane didn’t check the clock before making her time line and before long I was able to answer her constant inquires into the time with 4 o’clock! Sure enough, half a smile showed up right on schedule.

A while later I served cheese sticks.

“WHAT?!? MINE ARE HOT?! EVERY TIME YOU MAKE THINGS IN THE OVEN THEY ARE HOT AND YOU KNOW I HATE THAT!… I ONLY LIKE THINGS WARM!”

Thinking I could circumnavigate the ongoing disagreement we’ve been having over the last year that revolves around the necessity of heat to cook things, I checked the time.

“Jane! It’s 5:00! You can be all the way happy now!”

I thought that was a brilliant maneuver on my part – no such luck.

Suffice it to say we needed to start over with a new timeline.