Riddle Me This #7 and #8, But Really, Who’s Counting?

Where the heck have you been? Seriously, I’ve been looking for you. Busy summer, what can I say, but let’s get back in the saddle, shall we?

So, my fan (that would be singular, yes) approached me at school pickup yesterday and inquired about future posts. I suppose we could just cut to the chase and be pen pals since it’s likely just the two of us, but, just in case, I’ll throw this out there into the universe.

Riddle me this #7: If your child has grown enormously in every way since last year in an eerie Andre the Giant kind of way, yet is still insistently able to squish her monster feet into last year’s shoes, do you:

a. Let her do it. Kid’s shoes are expensive.

b. Let her do it. Serves her right for being stubborn.

c. Don’t let her do it. Foot binding is an orthopedically frowned-upon practice and might result in an unscheduled visit from child protective services.

d. Send your sister to the shoe store with her to secure an appropriate pair of school shoes, taking yourself out of the formula entirely.

And while I have your attention, please weigh in on #8.

If your cat has been sneezing and coughing and lunging around the house trying to hack out an elusive, imaginary bronchial hairball for the two weeks since you boarded him (at the vet!) (and he came home sick!) (ironic, no?) do you bring him back to the vet and pay $64 to have him looked at because you made the appointment already, even though his symptoms are already improving??

Don’t bother. I already know the answer.

Yes. He’s fine.

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Riddle Me This #6

What do you do when your sweet-faced six year old baby girl extends her chubby little finger and accurately reads aloud (and by that I just mean loud) the popular expletive carved into the seat back in front of her chair in the crowded, silent auditorium at the fourth grade orchestra concert?

Do you:

A. Slap your hand over her mouth and give her the cut it out now, I mean it look.

B. Tell her she’s such a great reader! This is the ironic downside to reading everything from gum wrappers to board books to the Wall Street Journal to her since birth. Okay, I never really read the Wall Street Journal to her, but her father probably has.

C. Glare at the family at the other end of your row with chagrin and pretend she belongs to them. But, too bad, they are already glaring at you in a pre-emptive strike, pretending their farting kid belongs to you.

D. Explain that it’s a swear word and tell her to stop because it’s never okay to say that (or at least wait until your parents and most of the neighborhood are out of earshot), and offer to give her a mani-pedi at home tomorrow to get her off the subject speedy quick.

Which one do you think ole Rack of Ribs chose? Be kind.

Riddle Me This #4

When one is motivated to blog on a semi-regular schedule, some parenting duties may fall to the wayside. Laundry, grocery shopping, pet care, making occasional eye contact while your sweet offspring are trying to share their innermost feelings and concerns with you. You know, the small things.

So as the TV program switched over from Kung Fu Panda Legends of Awesomeness to Spongebob Squarepants without my knowledge or consent and my three children sat transfixed while eating a dinner of macaroni and cheese and some lettuce, Mr. Snark entered the room and posed the following query, henceforth known as riddle #4:

“What is the opposite of helicopter parenting?”

Answered provided by middle child, MelloYello:

“Submarine parenting.”

You just can’t please some people.

Glub, glub.

Just Wait Until You Have Kids of Your Own

It is a commonly known fact that your kids will always be more polite, obedient and just plain nice when dealing with complete strangers than they will be with you. They will engage in casual banter with the UPS man and regale the McDonalds cashier with a humdinger about how they lost a tooth last Thursday and the tooth fairy forgot to leave a dollar under their pillow. When you ask them a simple question or make a small request, there is eye rolling, stomping, whining, and finger pointing followed by a series of false accusations, an angry swearing of a loathsome pox upon you and a finale of door slamming.

When you’re a teacher, the kids in your class can go either way with their allegiance and/or willingness to comply. At the beginning of the year, when their teacher is a stranger to them, they smile brightly, listen intently and put on a good show. There is a honeymoon type love-fest of cooperation and a desire to please. The students are bright-eyed sponges, willing to take pretty much anything you say at face value. Sure, they say, I’ll sign that class contract agreeing that I will always try my best and have an excellent sense of personal space and a sweet disposition. At about week two or three, you get a sense of who’s going to test the dark and murky waters down in the deep end of the pond. And they do. Put on your life jacket and flippers.  It’s a necessary evil of going to kindergarten. They test limits. They try patience. It’s in their job description. You are now a familiar, trusted adult. And they know they can try their best to make you very sorry you ever thought this teaching gig might be a good idea, but that you will love them and take care of them no matter what.

My kids, like (most of) yours, are great kids. We get plenty of positive feedback from acquaintances, peers’ parents, coaches, and elderly strangers in restaurants who say “Your kids are so well behaved.” But that last one was a long time coming. So I know this “evil twin” phenomenon holds true in our little family. But what of everyone else’s?

Last weekend there was a spectacular outdoor event at my kids’ school. It was a “Go Green” community-building extravaganza complete with all the kid friendly bells and whistles. I volunteered to work behind one of the many crafts tables, helping small children plant marigold seeds in little plastic flower pots. Between me and the two other moms facilitating this activity, we assisted hundreds of little gardeners as they followed the multi-step directions to put together the necessary elements of about 400 marigold plants. This is what I do on my day off from teaching.

Without exception, every child who came up to our table was polite, attentive, and able to interact with us (strangers to most of them) respectfully and appropriately. No one sprayed her brother with the water spray bottle. No one complained that they didn’t get enough fertilizer in their cup. They accepted help when necessary and followed steps independently when encouraged to do so. Everyone said thank you. And then they all went home and screeched like spider monkeys, threw themselves on the floor, and demanded pizza for dinner from their exhausted parents.

So it is clear to me now that everything my mom warned me about will eventually come to pass. Mom always said, “Don’t stand downwind from 200 pounds of pulverized potting soil on a gusty day unless you want to be the victim of sudden onset emphysema, AND just wait until you have kids of your own who act just like you did when you were their age.” Which is just a terrible thing to say. Because I was a real pain in the ass.

Yes, She’s Two. She’s Just a Little Big for Her Age.

Generally speaking, I am a very honest person. I am also easily offended by less honest people, and feel vaguely superior to them as I am confident my integrity will not be compromised and my character will not be questioned. Well maybe it has been or it will be and I just don’t know it, but I’m pretty secure in the fact that I’m not a big fat liar when the chips are down.

So, where do I draw the line on the whole children’s menu thing? So far, it’s not an issue.  My son, Red Bull, is now twelve and eats like your average twelve year old boy or farm animal. He does not order from the children’s menu anymore. He generally has expensive taste and is the first to ask, “Do they have lobster?” as he is lunging toward the bread basket and dropping butter on his pants. My ten year old daughter, MelloYello, is a tall, athletic machine who independently self monitors her portions and makes intelligent food choices. No idea where she learned that. When we go out, she enjoys a treat as much as the next guy and she usually goes for the grilled cheese sandwich or cheese quesadilla. She is still legally entitled to order from the kid’s menu, so it’s all good (and all cheese). Sprite is just six years old, so she always orders from the children’s menu, and no matter how delicate the glimmering panko crust on her succulent stack of chicken fingers, she will only eat the French fries and that’s just the way it is, please pass the ketchup and just back off already.

Now here’s the real question. Where do you draw the line on faking your kid’s age to get the children’s pricing? Is it a hard and fast rule or more of a general guideline? I never thought I’d fall victim to the children’s pricing cheat until I went to … yes, you know it’s coming. The Happiest Place on Earth.

Join me now on a family trip a few years ago. We are at the gates of Disney World. The children are dripping with anticipation and are already demanding stuffed toys, gimmicky accessories, and sugary beverages. All right now.  Calm down everyone. Let’s just get in this long line of families with crying babies, parents wielding cans of sunscreen spray like graffiti artists gone wild, grandparents who are suddenly having grave second thoughts, and me, who can’t quite read the pricing on that board over there. What does that say? No really. What does that say? Holy. Friggin. Mickey. Mouse. My. Ass.

Okay, Sprite. Quick. I know you’re a big three year old girl, but just get into this stroller that we rented primarily to haul around our overpriced Disney loot, and crouch down so you look small. No, smaller. Now stop talking. You can’t speak. Okay this is fun. We’re having fun. Yay.

Um, Hi. Yeah two seniors, one adult (Mr. Sprite gave us his blessing, or urging, to go without him while he was 1,000 miles away at work. So wise, that man is.) two children. One baby. Yeah. She’s two. No charge for babies. Really? That’s great! MMhmmm. Thanks. Do you take American Express? Or just the title on my house? Okay. Yes. We’ll definitely enjoy the Princesses on parade at midnight if we’re not already dead from exhaustion, sunstroke and diabetic shock. Okay, You too. Have a great day.

Shhh. Sprite. Okay sweetie. You can come out now. See the castle? No, It’s okay. Come out now. Mommy was just kidding before. You can talk as much as you want now. Do you want a lollipop and an ice cream?

So we poured the $84 (I know, right?) we saved into bribes to get her out of the damn stroller. And then she wouldn’t get out. Except for It’s a Small World which is just a ridiculous waste of time unless you are two (sort of) or 102. And then we eventually gave up and went back to the hotel to go swimming. For free.

I Lost My Memory But I Think I Just Figured Out Where it Went

My youngest child, Sprite, and I stood outside school the other day waiting for her big brother and sister to take their sweet time to rendezvous with us at our regular meeting spot. While we inevitably wait for Slow and Slower each afternoon, Sprite and I usually take a few minutes to have a chat about her day in kindergarten. Our discussion went something like this.

“Mommy, that lady over there is going to have a baby. Her belly is round like a ball.” Sprite paused and I could see the wheels turning. I was afraid of what might come next. “She’s looks just like Bernadette.”

I don’t know anyone named Bernadette. And Sprite has a penchant for making up names for dolls, stuffed toys, random strangers, breakfast cereal. But lately they are all named Lucy. The other day her doll Lucy was riding in her little stroller with a panda bear named Lucy. They were going to meet their friend Lucy at the park.

“Who’s Bernadette?”

“We saw Bernadette on that show. She was having a baby on TV.”

Ummmm. Still no clue. Though Sprite has incidentally seen lots of shows she shouldn’t have as she inconspicuously plays with Lucy the slinky in the periphery of the viewing area.

“I don’t remember that show.”

“Bernadette was in the hospital and she was with her husband Peter. He was wearing an Incredibles shirt. He was Mr. Incredible. Then they had a baby.”

Holy crap. This child has a mind like a steel trap. She watched an episode of A Baby Story with me and we saw Bernadette and Peter welcome their baby boy Owen into the world. I swear to God, I just called her into the room to ask her if it was a boy or girl and she told me it was a boy named Owen. I tried to confirm this online, but I’m really willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

The only detail I can independently remember from this whole shared viewing experience was the guy in the Incredibles shirt. It was two weeks ago. I can barely remember to call every single doll, root vegetable, and freshly inked scented marker portrait of any female whatsoever, Lucy. I can’t possibly be expected to remember Bernadette and Peter and Owen.

“Sprite, you have a really, really good memory. I can’t believe you remembered all those things from that TV show!”

“You have a good memory too Mommy.”

“Thanks sweetie.” Well, at least I’ll remember that.