Sancti-Mommies Can Suck It!

sanctimommy

I get it, you only give your kid organic, non-GMO, locally sourced, fair trade certified, antibiotic free, vegan…..water. He’s been able to read since he was 18 months old because you quit your job to stay home a be the best mother you can be. You never used formula, you parent like parents in Europe do because you read on a mom blog that it’s a better way to raise a child. Your kids only play “enriching games” and watch “educational shows”. Guess what? your kid still eats boogers and leaves skid marks in his underwear.

Sancti-mommies” are a bane on the existence of mothers everywhere. They suck. I’m sure we’ve all met one. We might even be friends with one. The thing that makes Sancti-mommies so awful isn’t the fact that they do these things with/to their children, it’s that they have to tell you in a way that makes what you’re doing seem like a feeble attempt to keep a rabid animal alive. They have to broadcast their mothering because it validates them. It makes them feel superior to the moms that are obviously doing the best they can with what they got.

Here’s the thing, as long as your kids are reasonably healthy, happy and safe then you are killing it in the mom game. You want to exclusively breastfeed? Awesome. You want to use formula? Fantastic. Working mom? You are a superhero. Stay at home mom? You also get superhero status. Moms need to stop competing and stop judging other moms. Everyone’s circumstances are different and we are all just trying to stay afloat in the Sea of Parenting. I believe it’s located right next to the Bermuda Triangle…..that’s where all the socks from the dryer go. I have held both roles of working mom and stay at home mom. I can Honestly say that Stay at Home mom was not for me. I am a better person when I am working. I have better time management. That makes me a better parent. I couldn’t breastfeed. at 10 days old, my little sweetling flat out refused to latch on. I even tried to wait her out, until almost a full 10 hours went by and we were both just cranky assholes. We switched to formula and never looked back. My pediatrician didn’t even make me feel bad about it. The doctors that do make you feel bad can also suck it!

I do my best to feed Bean a healthy diet. We pick and choose our battles when it comes to all the garbage that is out there food-wise. But it’s also my choice and I don’t feel the need to compare with the mom down the street who gives her kids something different. Maybe if healthy non processed food wasn’t so damn expensive more people would purchase it, but that’s a different post altogether. Bean knows that fruits and veggies are a priority. She knows that water is the best thing she can drink. She doesn’t care if her yogurt is organic. It makes me feel better to know that she has access to as much good stuff as possible, but I don’t feel the need to broadcast it or pass judgement on the mom who just shoved a Star Crunch in her kid’s face. Have you ever had a Star Crunch? Those little fuckers are delicious! I’ve been known to have them in the house. What’s the point of having kids if you can’t share your awesome childhood memories and snacks with them? Seriously, go to the store and buy a box of Star Crunches. I don’t care what they put in those little pieces of bliss….I don’t want to know.

Sancti-mommies are the Mean Girls of the mom world. They have perfected the art of simultaneously giving unsolicited advice and letting you know they are judging you all in one breath. They think their kid has better playground etiquette than yours, even though hers just threw a handful of sand at some toddlers while she wasn’t hovering over him. She took a break to make herself feel better by judging another mom and Junior saw his opportunity and took it. Because all kids, even hers, will eventually act like heathen monsters. That’s part of being a kid. Sancti-mommies will interfere in these instances and proceed to tell you how to discipline your toddler for instigating him and forcing him to throw dirt. What she needs to do is sit on the sidelines and wait until someone is A) bleeding….profusely, B) has a stick in their eye, C) something or someone is on fire, or D) there are teeth involved. Kids are trying to work out their own “food chain”. They have to learn to stand up for themselves because one day Sancti-mommy won’t be there and that poor kid isn’t going to know what to do. So really, sit it out and watch. Think of it as a playground cage match. Toddler Thunder Dome.

Maybe if Sancti-mommies used their powers for good, they wouldn’t be so annoying. Like dedicate all that energy to getting fresh produce available in your kids school instead of just sancti-judging the parents who don’t pack veggies in their kids’ lunches. Maybe instead of playing referee on the playground, you sit down, drink a pumpkin spice latte and really make a friend. The playground hierarchy is necessary. They have to learn it. They have to fight for their place in this world. The playground is their first taste of that. Don’t interfere unless severe bodily harm is going to be the result.

We are all in this together. Moms should be the most united front on the planet. Why are we so busy judging each other instead of helping each other. Instead of offering your unsolicited insight into why another mom’s kid is having a public meltdown, give her a reassuring smile or something. The last thing we as moms need is to feel like being a mom is a competition that we are losing. Instead of making it all about them and how they would do it, they need to realize that everyone is different and we are doing it our way. And as long as our kids aren’t in mortal danger we are all doing a good job.

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My Village is Full of Idiots

village

We’ve all heard that old adage “It takes a village to raise a child.” I always took that to mean that parents sometimes need help. That factors outside the home help in development and everyone has a part to play in the raising a highly functioning adult. So what do you do when your village is populated by idiots?

I don’t mean my immediate neighbors-my family and friends. I mean the rest of the village. The outlying huts, the outside influences, the neighboring “villages”. What’s a parent to do when the surrounding environment is overrun with idiots? Hope & pray? Never let my kid out of the house? Ban all social media? Think about it, how many times a day do you come across something someone said on Facebook  that is so painfully stupid you actually question Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? How many times do you hear a story about someone who is offended by something as simple as a T-shirt or a toy? These are the idiots I’m talking about. I came across a video on Facebook the other day made by a mother who was offended and upset that her son’s WORLD HISTORY book had a chapter dedicated to Islam civilization and it’s influence on the world early on. This chapter DID NOT touch on the Islamic Extremists or the bad apples that spoiled the bunch. This chapter talked about Islamic religion, the influence of Arabic numbers (the MOST COMMON symbolic representation of numbers in the world TODAY!!!) and other things that the early Islamic Civilization contributed to the world we know today. This mother went on a 15 minute rant about the fact that her son’s history textbook featured this chapter at all. She contacted the principal and wants the book removed from the curriculum. I’m guessing she also wants those pesky “I-rabic” numerals removed as well…….I’m also guessing she isn’t burdened with an overabundance of schooling herself. But that’s my point. This woman is clearly her village’s idiot. But what if she’s not? What if her trailer park village has an even bigger idiot? That kid is doomed to grow up thinking anyone who isn’t just like him is wrong.

Let’s talk about the teacher in Oklahoma (shocker) who forced a 4 year old to write with his right hand because the left hand was “evil”. She actually told her class of Pre-K children that the left hand is the bad hand and that they couldn’t use it to write. This woman was entrusted with the guidance and education of these very young impressionable minds. She was telling her students that parts of their body were evil. A teacher is vital in a village, I’m hoping this village is currently in the market for a new one, but at the time I’m typing this no action whatsoever has been taken against the teacher in question, not even a suspension or a stern talking to. Maybe that kid needs a new village.

Last month was the 9/11 anniversary. Bean learned about it in school, as much as you can safely teacher a 1st grader without offending parents. She came home and asked me questions about the Twin Towers and the men that committed that atrocious act. I explained to her that those men believed something so strongly that they felt it necessary to commit those acts. I also made sure to stress that those men are NOT a reflection of their chosen religion as a whole. Because it’s the truth. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Most are actually peaceful. They believe and value different things that Western Culture. We may have an opinion on the way they live their lives and we may think that their beliefs are archaic, but it doesn’t make them wrong. Fanatics can ruin anything. Westboro Baptist Church, Kim Davis, people who protest things they don’t fully understand or don’t realize that the thing they are protesting is actually legal.

My current favorite idiots are the people wanting gender labels removed from toy aisles at Target. Really? Because I have no problem buying Bean any toy she wants regardless of what the aisle may say. They are labeled like that because years of demographics have told companies that those genders are the primary purchasers of those toys. It by no means is meant to indicate that a girl can’t play with a army guys or Star Wars Legos. Or a boy can’t have an Easy Bake oven or a doll. The parents are the real problem and I’m ashamed to say it’s my generation causing a lot of these shenanigans. Why does it matter what the aisle is labeled as. Hotwheels, Barbies, Legos, Nerf…at the end of the day they are toys and that is all that matters. The parents create the problem when they attach the stigma of gender to any toy. A rose by any other name people…….

Kardashians, Be-liebers, twerking, gun violence, painfully stupid politicians, small-minded people, religious fanatics, people who get offended by toys or clothes…they should all be put on a village populated just by them. On an island. Far away from the rest of civilization. Those people are the reason this country has to put directions on shampoo bottles.

Blast From the Past

flash light

So last night our power went out. Thankfully we had just finished eating dinner, so there was no emergency there. It was about 6:30pm and Bean was getting ready to finish her homework. We went outside to make sure it wasn’t just our house and as it turned out it was the entire block. So in order to take advantage of the last dying light of day, all the kids in the neighborhood were outside trying to entertain themselves. They had all been uprooted from their tablets, laptops and TVs. I was forced to refrain from using my cell phone as much as possible for fear of a drained battery. To me, this was great. To the neighborhood kids….this was absolute TORTURE. I shit you not. One boy, about 8 years old, just couldn’t fathom the idea of not being able to use his laptop. he figured since it was on, the WiFi just sort of automatically came with it. The look of crushing disappointment was tangible. Bean said “It’s OK mommy, I can watch Netflix on the tablet”. I let her live out her fantasy just long enough to put 2 and 2 together.

It dawned on me that today’s kids are being robbed of a very integral part of their childhood; the chance to entertain themselves. As a child, it was my job to entertain myself. My parents worked, they couldn’t make sure we had endless amounts of projects and things to hold our attention. We had to handle that ourselves. They supplied with things to help; water guns, chalk, games, etc. But the responsibility to put those to good use rested with us. There was one rule in our house. If the sun was out, so were we. I am firm believer that kids do NOT belong inside if the weather is nice. We had Nintendos when we were kids, but those were for rainy days or sick days. We also had a swing set and a backyard. We caught all manner of animals. Even my own child is being robbed of this opportunity because of my tech addiction.

So last night one of the neighbors set up their basketball hoop and the kids played HORSE. Bean had played this on the Wii but never in real life *parent fail*. The first time she didn’t make a basket, she was fine. But by the 5th or 6th time, she became noticeably defeated. We kept encouraging her, telling her she couldn’t quit, and when she finally found her stride, she lit up like a Christmas tree. She didn’t want to stop playing after that. She didn’t realize that by not giving up, she learned that she enjoyed something new. The Wii can’t teach her that. Then all the kids were racing around on scooters and skateboards and it was great. If it wasn’t a school night we probably would’ve brought out the grills, coolers and tiki torches and had a block party. I noticed that all the kids blossomed more than I had seen all summer. Bean even made new friends.

Because the stuff in the freezer was warming up, all the kids got popsicles. It was great. All it took for this neighborhood bonding was a complete loss of all things electronic. We are all guilty of it. At what point did it become acceptable to let kids miss out on their childhoods? When did it become OK for Netflix and Minecraft to raise our kids? The answer is NEVER. It should never be OK for our kids to miss out on these activities that are a right of passage for all kids. Missing a basket in front of your friends. Sitting in the bed of a truck eating popsicles. Running around the neighborhood with flashlights playing tag. These are the things resourceful kids are made of. So I think I’ll be flipping the breakers in my house every so often and grabbing a flashlight. There’s nothing like flashlight tag to make you feel like a kid.

Until next time….Keep those toes in the sand and some flashlights handy

Hell Is a Car Pick Up Line

car pick up 2

It’s long, it’s boring and the end result is a child. It’s actually very similar to sex sometimes. The dreaded Car Pick Up Line. It is inevitable if you drive your child to school. You will sit in the Pick up line. The drop Off line is nothing. It takes mere minutes. The longest part of drop off is traversing the winding road leading up to the area where your little munchkin hops out of the car and you get a few minutes of blessed silence before you have to either go to work or begin your daily routine of chores and never-ending laundry. But Pick Up…..that’s a whole different monster entirely.

Mine is a special kind of Hell. you see Bean goes to a school in a more affluent part of town. The Beach side. It’s not uncommon for me to be surrounded by BMW’s, Mercedes, Audi’s and even a Porsche. Why someone would buy a 4 door Porsche sports car is beyond me, but hey…..whatever floats your yacht. I drive an American made SUV that is almost 8 years old. I’m slumming it compared to these other parents. And that’s just my car. Just wait.

The types of parents you will encounter in the Pick Up Line are a vast array of personalities. There’s;

“Tennis” mom. She looks adorable in her perfectly matched tennis skirt, tank top and coordinating sneakers. The thing is, her sneakers don’t have any scuff marks. Her makeup and is perfect and every hair is in place. This mom just wants you to think that she plays tennis in her free time. What she really does is sit at the tennis club (yes we have those here) and drink martinis at the Tiki Bar. Trust me, I know a bartender at one of those clubs. I know.

The Yoga mom. Now there are actually 2 subtypes of this category. There’s the pseudo-yoga mom, who really just wears yoga pants 99.9% of the time and hopes that people think she is holistic and calm and centered when actually she’s a hot mess because she basically runs a small country. I am part that yoga mom.

Then there’s legit Yoga Mom. She is slender and sinewy. She wears yoga pants like she was born in them. She only feeds her kids organic, non-GMO foods and she probably drives a hybrid, complete with a Namaste sticker on the back right next to the magnet for the school.  In fact she’s so enlightened you really want to shove a Twinkie down her throat while she’s in downward dog and watch her crumble. Her only flaw is the fact that she smells slightly like Patchouli no matter what. It lingers. You can smell it under her designer perfume. It’s always there. It wafts out of her vehicle and into yours.

The PTA mom. Ugh……the PTA mom. She knows when every school related event happens. She is able to rattle off every early release and school holiday. She has no problem walking down the Pick Up line selling T-shirts, raffle tickets and whatever else the school is peddling. It’s best to just put limousine tint on and don’t make eye contact when she gets near your vehicle.

The Clueless Father. Not all dads in the Pick Up Line are clueless. Usually the clueless ones are the dads who got called at the last minute because mom’s Hot Yoga class ran late and now the poor guy is sitting in the line like a deer in headlights. He’s clearly not even sure if he’s in the right place. Hopefully he picks up the right kid. Or the right amount of kids.

The Tech Mom. I personally hate this mom. She is either Facebooking, Instagramming or crushing candy while waiting for the line to move. Then once the line starts moving she’s in a bonus round and forgets she has people behind her waiting anxiously to pick up their beloved children and hear all about their day at school. Actually, why don’t you go ahead and finish that bonus round, I’m good waiting.

All these pale in comparison to when the line actually starts moving. The line at Bean’s school. is a double line that merges into a single line. This requires that people not be assholes. That is humanly impossible. For some reason people seem to be in a rush and forget common courtesy of alternating sides. It gets ugly. Like I’ve wanted to get out of my car and physically accost someone. It’s ridiculous the amount of rudeness and disregard that can occur in a rush to get to your child. Not that any of it matters because you still have to wait once you get to student area. You have to wait for the teachers to get your child’s attention. you have to wait for the car in front of you to finish loading all those kids….how many kids can fit in a Denali anyway?

And I dedicate hours a week to this. It basically equates to roughly 2 hours a week of sitting in this line, enduring this. I can think of several other things I’d rather spend 2 hours on, and most of them do not include my car, kids or other parents. a word to the wise…..Let your kid ride the bus.

Until next time, keep those toes in the sand and your windows up!

Introverted Motherhood

intro mom

I think sometimes Bean thinks I don’t love her, but nothing could be further from the truth. The problem is I’m an introvert. I like my space. I love my silence. I relish in being left to my own devices, free to read or do whatever I want. The point is, I’m OK with silence and being alone. This is a foreign concept to most children, especially mine. She doesn’t like to do anything alone. She doesn’t even like to sit in her room and play video games alone. It is a constant battle.

The Hubs will attest to the fact that I am not the most physically affectionate person. I love him. I find him incredibly sexy, but I am just not an overtly affectionate person. I don’t like to cuddle. I am quite content sitting in “my corner” of the couch when we watch movies. He gets upset sometimes because he equates PDA with proving love. I don’t. When I sleep, I don’t like to be touched. I don’t like to feel confined. He likes to spoon. I married my polar opposite. I gave birth to my polar opposite. Do you have any idea how hard that is to deal with?

Bean is a cuddler. When we read stories at bedtime she begs me to cuddle her. How do you explain to a child that cuddling causes you actual anxiety? That it makes you uncomfortable? Way to give your kid a complex! So I let her lay on my arm. That’s the most i can offer. I can’t envelope her in my arms like the Hubs does. I’ve tried, I just can’t do it. I know, this makes me sound like an awful mother. I hug her, pick her up and I comfort her when she is sad or hurt. But I am not a touchy-feely person. You know what I miss most about Pre-Motherhood? SILENCE!

I love silence. I love quiet. Not having to talk to people is my favorite thing. At this point, I’m sure you’re thinking “how does this woman have friends?” Well actually I have a core group of friends that know me and respect that. I was a bartender and server for a very long time. It was mentally exhausting to adopt a different personality for work. It was like putting on a show 4 nights a week. My friends and I can sit around and not talk and be totally fine. I love text messaging. I pocket dialed my friend the other day and she immediately knew it was an accident because I don’t actually talk on the phone. Bean is always talking to me. Always asking me to remember some tiny detail or something that happened over a year ago. The drive to school is torturous for me sometimes, because I feel like I’m on autopilot, just answering her barrage of questions even though I just want to listen to the morning show and enjoy the drive. I love my child with all my heart, but being a mother goes against my very nature sometimes.

I worry that I am giving her some warped concept of the dynamic between husband and wife and child and mother. She sees Hubs and I kiss and that, she knows that I am there for her no matter what, but I see her mimic some of my behavior, like her sitting in the opposite corner of the couch when we are watching TV together. And that makes my heart hurt. I can’t help the way that I am. And there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. There’s nothing wrong with being an extrovert. I just don’t ever want her to grow up thinking I don’t love her with all my heart. I just don’t want her to touch me sometimes.

Until next time, keep those toes in the sand…quietly

Summer Time Sadness

Well…summer is officially over in the Beach Bum Household. Bean has started school. This year she is a 1st grader. So now she is an experienced student….who still can’t sleep in her own bed. The summer went by surprisingly fast, and in all honesty, I feel as though I failed.

I had all these high hopes for Bean’s first official summer off from school. I finally quit bartending so I wouldn’t be so tired this summer. I had lined up Pinterest ideas and projects and outings. I compiled healthy yet yummy snacks and lots of things to keep my little monster stimulated and enriched while off from school for 3 months. Do you want to know what she did all summer? She played Minecraft. I failed. I epically failed. I went in guns blazing and I ran out of ammo like a week in to the summer. and I ran out of energy. Hubs works hellish hours, so majority of the child raising falls on my shoulders. And I am OK with that. Except for the fact that I get exhausted and then feel bad about complaining that I ‘m exhausted. And to be honest, I get a little tired of constantly having a shadow. Even this morning, as I was attempting to take a shower in the privacy of my own bathroom which is in my bedroom, I was interrupted twice because of a loose tooth. Within a span of 5 minutes. Now this isn’t her first loose tooth. It’s not even her second loose tooth. So really the urgency should have abated a little by now. But the way she came bursting into my bathroom twice, you would’ve thought that the house was on fire or there was a stick in someones eye. Nope, just a loose tooth.

I wanted this to be a summer that mimicked my own summers as a child. Lots of time outdoors, drinking from garden hoses and things of that nature. But I was confronted with a sad reality only a couple of days into the break. Kids today can’t think of adventures to have on their own. Not even my child, who is very inventive and creative. She was happy to play inside all day, bossing me around and building legos and playing pony universe. But the moment I kicked her little butt outside to play with her friends it was like her life was over. Play outside?! They’ve never heard of such a thing. So I’d help them out and point them in the right direction; I supplied them with chalk, sports equipment, water balloons, water guns. That lasted all of about 15 minutes. We live in Florida, which in the summer is a few degrees cooler than Satan’s anus, so I tried to be understanding. But I was also tired. I can’t believe my mother successfully ran a household and a business with 3 kids out of school at the same time. I can barely keep my kitchen clean. So I caved to her demands of television, tablets and too much sugar. I let her play (IMO) excessive amounts of video games. I accepted my failure as a parent.

I’ll probably try harder next summer. I am going to attempt to go in more prepared. I’m going to resign my self to the fact that even if I don’t want to go swimming, I’m going swimming with her. Even if I don’t want to pack a cooler and go to the beach, I’m going to do those things anyway. Why? Because it’s not my summer. It’s hers. when I was a kid, Summer was a magical time of fireflies, water wars and adventures. I was lucky in some respects. I have siblings, so I had ready-made playmates. I am Bean’s ready-made playmate. And I need to make peace with that. I’m going to have to buck up and make myself behave like a kid. Darn. 🙂

M.C.S

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M.C.S – Middle Child Syndrome

Gosh that makes it sound like some sort of ailment.I saw all these posts last week about it being “Middle Child Day” and the big punchline is that it gets overlooked just like Middle Children do. That isn’t true. Being a Middle didn’t make me invisible. It made me into something better. It’s basically my superpower. I am a middle child and I am proud of it. I have the extraordinary pleasure of being in between 2 brothers. We are each 3-4 years apart. And each one of us embody a completely different point on the personality spectrum, from the quiet and reserved (older) to the outspoken and flamboyant (younger). Ironically I fall right in the middle of that spectrum. Weird, right? Well I learned that being quiet all the time would get you overlooked when it matters, like making friends and being social. I also learned that being the center of attention made it more difficult to go about your business undisturbed. I am the physical embodiment of middle ground. I am the peacekeeper. The problem solver. The strategist. I can find a solution to just about any problem and I can do it quickly and easily under pressure.

The Older was doted on. He’s the first-born. The First EVERYTHING. The parental units probably went all out. Bought the best of everything. They probably gave him all of their attention. The poor kid probably never got to eat paste. And then I came came along. The second born. By then they had learned that I would be fine if I ate paste, because the older one had survived. I was given much more freedom to roam and explore. I was able to learn from an older example while finding my own spot in the world. My parents were usually busy with Older and his school and activities that I was able to develop an immense imagination and learn to become a extraordinary problem solver.

Then the Baby came along. The last born. The last time my mom would get those little chubby cheeks and all those other baby traits. She relished in them. So Older had school and activities. At this point I had school. Baby had Mom all to himself. I wasn’t ignored by any means. M parents went to my plays and soccer games. They never forgot me anywhere….that I’m aware of. But they were also busy enjoying the last baby moments they would have. First steps, first words, all those milestones. And I was able to explore the world around me, often with Older as my playmate.

You see, being in the middle prepared me for the adult world. Better than being the first born or the baby I think. I know when I should speak up, like when something is important or dire. And I know when to stand in the shadows and let someone else have the spotlight. I was able to use my imagination to no end, allowing my brain to work in ways that make me efficient and resourceful, because, let’s face it….when you’re the Middle, there are hand me downs and broken things. Being the Middle also taught me to work quickly, for fear of a sibling tantrum or a parental discovery if I was doing something bad, WHICH I WOULD NEVER DO!!! Being a Middle gave me a superpower. I am a watcher. When I enter new situations, I watch. I get a feel for the situation and the people around me. This is a trait of being a Middle. I want to know the people I’m surrounded by. The Baby, he just throws himself into the melee and hopes for the best. Older? He prefers to remain on the sidelines 99% of the time. Being a Middle taught me to assess situations and people. I am calculating, I am careful, but I still manage to have some fun! As a Middle, I have an extremely calm way of dealing with most problems, so stress isn’t really an issue for me. I don’t suffer from Identity Issues, like many people seem to think Middles do. I know exactly who I am.

Being a Middle also taught me survival. Every injury Bean gets is an emergency in her eyes. I’ve had broken bones and not even given a whimper. Being a Middle with 2 brothers taught me how to deal with pain. I am a girl who can throw an impressive right hook. I attribute that to Older. We were teenagers at the same time and forced to share a phone line back when phones plugged into the wall. It wasn’t pretty. But my reflexes are quick because of it, giving me the chance to prevent injuries to myself or Bean. I learned that not all of my problems were dire and most I could fix on my own. i learned to go to my parents with the really big problems. So when I did come to them, they knew it was a big deal.

When I was 5 and Older was 8 he walked me into my first day of school. And I wasn’t scared. If he could survive, I knew I would be just fine. And as our mom watched us walk away hand in hand(*tear-sniff-sniff) she noticed that I didn’t look back once. And she realized that I would be the child to venture furthest from the nest. I would be the brave child who would survive out in the world with ease. I was already a Middle by then. And she was right. I went to college at the other end of the state. I moved as far away as I could while remaining in the Lower 48. And I survived. I flourished even. I went through life experiences that might’ve sent others home to the nest, but i remained where I was and got myself back on my own 2 feet.

I’m proud to be a Middle. I’m lucky to be a Middle. People think that Middles get the short end of the stick, but what we really do is use our imaginations and make something really cool out of the stick. My parents did me a favor by making me a Middle