Can I get Real For A Minute

Orlando. A city usually associated with mouse ears, minions and Harry Potter. A city that is a tourist beacon for the entire world. A place that has made its bread and butter off of people having fun and loving life. That city sits a little quieter now. That city sits wounded, in the wake of one of the most senseless tragedies in American history. What happened this past weekend in Orlando hit close to home for several reasons. My brother is gay, he used to live in Orlando and frequented Pulse often. He was supposed to be at a birthday celebration at Pulse on that very night. Orlando is not far from our town, and the town where that less than human stain on mankind lived is even closer. He attended the college I attend. My brother lost friends over the weekend. But more than that….parents lost children. Brother lost sister and vice versa. It also hits home because I have a child, and that child loves to go out into the world and enjoy it. And now, for a split second, I want to rescind that privilege. Because what if, she goes to the water park with her friends tomorrow and something awful and tragic happens? What if her uncle DID go to Pulse Saturday night? That is the definition of terrorism. When someone is willing to do something so drastic, so unthinkable, that it makes you question whether leaving your house is a good idea.

This isn’t about gun control, this isn’t about sexual orientation. It’s about the fact that, if we allow it, we will slowly become more and more hesitant to let our children experience the world. I actually had a moment of panic today at the thought of my child going a to water park with friends. Which is odd, because if something awful were to happen, she wouldn’t be any safer with us than she would her friends parents.

This will inevitably turn into a soapbox for Presidential candidates. Which it shouldn’t. They shouldn’t be allowed to exploit this tragic loss of life for their own agendas. This was meant as a way to further divide our already fractured country. It wasn’t just a loss of life. Pulse and its owner have done so much for Orlando and the LGBT community. To some it was a place a refuge in a world that can be unpredictable at best. And now that has been taken from them. It was mentioned that the sound of victims cell phones was deafening inside the nightclub as investigators were working. They will never be able to forget that sound. The sound of mothers and fathers desperately trying to reach their babies, praying to whichever God they choose that their loved ones might pick up. News outlets exploit distraught and devastated parents, who are clawing their way through police tape in an effort to locate their loved ones. And a news anchor grabs them and puts their suffering and tears on display for the world to see.

How do I explain this to my 7 year old? We had a conversation about it while playing catch Sunday night:

Me: “So some pretty bad things happened in Orlando last night.”

Her: “What happened?”

Me: “A man went into a nightclub with weapons and he shot a lot of people. There are a lot of people in the hospital right now and there are some people that didn’t survive.”

Her: “Why did he do that? What did those people do to him?”

Me: “They didn’t do anything to him. He didn’t agree with the way those people live their life and he thought his beliefs made him right.”

Her: “How were they living their lives?”

Me: “Well some boys like boys, some girls like girls. He didn’t like those kinds of people.”

Her: “But Uncle likes boys!”

Me: “Yes baby I know he does. And that is perfectly ok, because it makes him happy.”

Her: “I don’t want Uncle to get hurt! Why would anyone hurt people just because of who they like?”

Me: “Some people think that what they believe is more important than what other people believe. Some people believe in hate. Others believe in love. Some people think they have the right to tell other people how they should live.”

Her: “But it’s ok to believe in something, right?”

Me: “of course it is. What’s not ok is to force your beliefs on other people or for you to hurt people because of what you believe.”

Her: “What happened to the man who hurt the people?”

Me: (Throwing ball much harder than i meant to) “He was killed by police officers.”

Her: (thoughtful and quiet for a minute) “I could never hate anyone enough to hurt them.”

Me: heart grows 3 sizes from pride because in a world overflowing with hate, I’m clearly doing something right.

My belief is this: Beliefs and religion are like a penis. If you have and you love it, great! But the minute you start shoving it in my face or forcing it on me or the world…..we’re going to have a problem.

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Summergeddon Is Upon Us

It’s that joyous time of year. that wonderful time of year when we as parents suddenly realize how much we took our kids’ teachers for granted. We also realize that they are GROSSLY underpaid for what they endure, but that’s a topic for another post.

Suddenly we are faced with the impending doom of having to occupy our kids. Moms are frantically combing Pinterest for perfectly designed activities to stimulate their little brains while on summer vacation. STOP PINNING! RIGHT NOW. JUST STOP. I’m not knocking Pinterest. I love it. But seriously, Pinterest is ruining our kids childhoods. It is demolishing their creativity one Pin at a time. Remember what you did during the summer? I do. I went to camp. And if I wasn’t at camp, I was left to my own devices. I was lucky enough to have an older brother so sometimes he was left in charge, or so he thought. My parents were also in the unique position of running a business out of our home, so my mom was home for the better part of our childhoods. But she was also working. She basically was just on call in case one of us was on fire or had a stick in our eye.

We woke up, rolled out of bed, shoveled some breakfast into our wildling mouths and were on our way. No daily schedule. Tag, Hide n Seek, Manhunt, Swimming, hunting lizards(yeah that’s a thing in Florida), getting dropped off at the beach for the day. FOR THE DAY. like 6-8 hours. In the sun, with money to buy a sub at the best sub shop in town. I see these super cute (and totally useless) “Daily Themes” for kids during Summergeddon. “Make it Monday” “Take a Trip Tuesday”, etc. A more realistic version would probably be “Make a mess Monday” “Take a Trip to the ER Tuesday” “What the hell did you get into Wednesday” “Thinking About Boarding School Thursday” and “Frozen Drink Friday” Imagine that, for 8-12 weeks.

Now I’m sure some of you are thinking “OMG does this woman even spend time with her kid?” YES. YES I DO. But I also work, am finishing my Bachelor’s degree and I don’t really enjoy glitter or playing pretend. My kid could benefit greatly from a dose of reality when it comes to summer. For some reason she thinks it MY job to entertain her. She comes to me often asking “What can I do?” Um………go away. Find something. Let me just name a few of the things at her disposal: roller skates, a scooter, a bike, sporting goods, chalk, art supplies, a tablet, a dog, pools, the beach….shall I go on? My point is, she needs to suck it up. If I wanted to be responsible for someone’s entertainment, I would’ve become an actress. When did it become my responsibility to make sure my child was occupied every second of everyday?

I bet some of you are saying “I always play with my kid(s), this woman is awful.” Guess what? That’s great. I play with my kid often. And I’m by no means suggesting she run off into the distance without me having any idea of her whereabouts. She’s 7. She can’t yet go to the beach by herself. Hubs won’t even let her go around the corner to the playground with her friends; I’m working on him. The current state of the world has made it virtually impossible for our kids to become the “Kids of Summers Past”.

Seriously though…..step away from Pinterest. Kick your kid(s) outside with a cooler full of drinks and snacks.Let them survive on those shitty popsicles so they don’t get heat stroke because then they will be stuck inside with you. Tell them to come in when it gets dark. Listen for any obvious sounds of pain or eminent danger….and my advice? It’s not a emergency unless someone is on fire or has a stick in their eye….or both.

Terror threat level: Bright F*&%ing RED

And total melt down in 3, 2, 1.....

And total melt down in 3, 2, 1…..

So everyone knows that the US Government does not negotiate with terrorists. Do you know why? The official answer is that we have to remain firm in the face of irrational threats. The real reason…..they aren’t Moms. You send a mom into a cave in the middle of Afghanistan and she will drag them out by the ears and have them begging for forgiveness. Want to know how she could accomplish such an unbelievable feat? BECAUSE SHE DOES IT DAILY!!!! EVERY SINGLE GOD DAMN DAY! If you have a child capable of coherent speech, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Go ahead, tell me how your child never behaves in such a manner, how you are bringing them up to properly express themselves, blah blah blah. Tell me that to my face and I will call you a bold-faced liar to your face. Every child does this. and they do it for no more profound reason other than that they can. Actually I take that back. Bean has the full emotional range of a fully grown and mentally developed adult. The problem is her tiny body and the fact that she is still emotionally developing. She has nowhere for such intense energy to go other than out of her normally sweet mouth. Now that very rational explanation will easily get lost in the heat of the moment when your child(and mine) is screaming at such a pitch that dogs down the street are writhing in pain from the octaves your “well-behaved, properly expressive” child is hitting in the midst of their utter catastrophic collapse of order in their tiny lives.

Bingo! That’s the key right there. Children have a much smaller universe than we do. They have their toys, maybe some small chores, and their own adult to do things for them like wipe their ass, or get them yet another snack because in a moment of parenting genius you had the poor foresight to put the snacks out of reach in an effort to prevent over snacking(on a side-note, you’ll be moving those snacks soon, and the cereal, and whatever else your tiny tyrant wants just so it gives you 3 more minutes of sitting down uninterrupted). Children love to feel that their universe is in order and they have some control over it, just like we do. How do you feel when things start going wrong? It can get aggravating and at times it can even ruin your mood. Well that’s what happens, except for them its the fact that the dog chewed Twilight Sparkle Fancypants Mcgee, or that *gasp* you asked your kid to pick up their stuff. To your pint-sized opressor, shit just got real. And this is where your SWAT worthy negotiation skills suddenly kick in. Let me break it down for you.

1. Appeasement: you will try(to no avail) to appease said child. You will only attempt this tactic so many times before you realize why this is never successful in the movies, because the bad guys(and your child) just want to watch the world burn at this point. Think I’m exaggerating? Just wait……

2. Rational discussion of terms: yeah this step lasts all of 30 seconds………you will offer your terms, you will get an answer. Just not the one you want. It will more than likely be a scream in your face, or a 40 pound force of nature storming off, leaving a trail of destruction in her path(not that this has ever happened to me).

3. Irrational discussion of terms: This is one of the most defining moments in the dynamic between you and your child. If you make a threat, be prepared to follow through. And please, for the love of things holy to your sanity, do not threaten any punishment you yourself cannot live with. If you threaten to take away TV….remember, that’s time your child will expect you to fill in the gap. For teenagers, if you threaten to take away their car, be prepared to be a taxi again.

4. Duck & F*&%ing Cover: At this point the household pets are probably hiding and the neighbors think there is an exorcism going on. Your terms(threats) have been heard and you have probably received counter terms(threats) in the way of one or more of the following: “I hate you/I love {other parent} more; you’re a mean mommy!; Fine I don’t want said object(you know, the “treasured” object you are holding hostage like a Mexican drug lord in the hopes that your loving offspring will listen to reason) and other choice phrases of that nature.

5. Watching their resolve crumble like a Keebler cookie: Once you get the yelling, threats, speaking in tongues and whatever else it takes out of the way, watch them give in and grudgingly do what you asked to begin with, albeit glaring at you, and even making this annoying sound that you thought you wouldn’t have to deal with until puberty…..”Hhmpf”. Bean does this when she realizes she’s losing ground in her argument. You may think at this point you have won the war, and you smile to yourself, even high five your partner. Don’t get cocky yet, they have 1 more weapon in their arsenal and they are definitely not afraid to use it….

6. Kid Guilt: Please excuse the expletives here….Fuck this fucking shit!! Kid Guilt is awful! I’d rather be water-boarded or have my fingernails ripped off! After your kid has done what you asked and calmed down and had a few minutes to themselves to decompress, they will come to you, crawl up in your lap teary-eyed and distraught. Why? Because they say things in the heat of the moment just like we do and that because of their outburst they fear that their vice-grip hold on you will loosen. And while they are pleading your forgiveness for what they said,hitting you right in the Mommy-Feels,  they are also cementing their place in your heart for the next go around. Now as time goes on, you will become impervious to the things kids say out of spite or anger, but watch out for that kid guilt. Its the emotional equivalent of a box of fluffy puppies and in their eyes forgives
the recent transgressions. Did they mean whatever insult they threw at you? No, of course not. But they still feel bad for saying it. Kid guilt is also their way of expressing that what you said hurt their feelings and they are seeking an apology from you as well 🙂

When the smoke has cleared and the damage has been assessed, make sure your kid knows you love them and that feelings can be hurt by words as well as actions. And be prepared to repeat these steps over & over & over & over again well into their teenage years and if you’re lucky enough, even longer 😉

‘Til next time!

Hurry Up & Wait

I bet you know someone who does this. If you don’t, chances are you are the friend/family member that does this. If that is the case, you, my friend, are a jerk 🙂 This concept has become the norm in my home as far as a my husband is concerned. D loves to get our child ready for the day or a specific excursion and then make her wait to leave while he accomplishes the menial tasks he SHOULD have been doing while she was getting ready. Now there is something you have to understand. I am a “wash-n-go” kinda gal. I’m not into makeup and other than a ponytail or bun, I don’t do much with my hair. I can be ready to walk out the door with 20 minutes notice(30 if I can’t find my chap-stick).Then there’s D. Bean & I affectionately call him a peacock. Because that is what he does. He goes through several outfits before choosing(usually shorts & a T-shirt) and then has to spike his hair just right. Then he has to check and double-check with me to make sure he looks good. He has to flex in the mirror several times because he did 10 push-ups and wants to see the results. Now mind you, at this point both Bean and I are ready to go. Now I’m sure you’re asking “Well what on earth could he have been doing while you 2 girls were getting ready?” I’m also sure that you’re probably thinking it was something dire like solving world peace, or at least of significant importance like balancing the national budget……MADDEN. He’s playing Madden. Because he seems to be functioning under the misconception that we take a long time to get ready. Now once we are ready, and have waited on him to change and spike his hair perfectly and flex in an ever so manly fashion, you would think he would ready to get in the car and actually depart for our destination? NOPE. At this point we could at least be considered fashionably late. He still has to sit on the porch and smoke(i know, it grosses me out) and possibly use the potty(yes i said potty). All this time our darling child is glaring at him and growing increasingly more frustrated. at one point she has even been known to say “I’m not getting any younger!” It’s moments like those I am certain I took the right infant from the hospital.

How do i deal with all this you must be wondering? Well first off, I love D for all his quirks and Idiot-synchrosies(Yes I am aware I “misspelled” that word.) That being said, I grin and bear it. Marriage, like Motherhood, is a battlefield sometimes. I have had to learn the hard way to pick my battles, and this is just one I’m not willing to call in the cavalry for. Maybe send a drone, or a sniper, but definitely not the full on assault. Because at the end of the day, we got to where we were going, and we had fun when we got there. Sometimes it is frustrating to be reminded that I married a peacock, but when he flaunts his feathers….he sure is handsome 🙂