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L demonstrated his lack of a firm grasp on numbers when he explained how he’ll always be older than S:

L: She’s only 2. I’m 4 now but soon I’ll be 5:30.

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Grandma recently took L to visit his great-uncle in a nursing home. It was time for weekly services, and L seemed puzzled by the congregation’s prayers:

L: What are they doing?

Grandma: They’re praying.

L: [Looks totally bewildered]

Grandma: L, do you know what praying is?

L: Yes, lions prey and jaguars prey….

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How boys play:

L: Here, S, take this magic wand.

S: ‘tay.

L: And this one is mine.

S: ‘tay.

L: And now… FIGHT TO THE DEATH!

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New mantra that I will share with L when he has a 4-year-old son (assuming we both live to see the day, and that my mantra is true enough for some woman to have kids with him):

He does not have a permanent personality disorder; he’s just 4. He does not have a permanent personality disorder; he’s just 4….

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WTF Tapas

Lately L wants to know not only what animal he is eating, but what part of that animal. He became upset yesterday over ham. Not because he was sad that he was eating pig, but because he was sad that the pig’s face had been removed.

Along these lines, when he asks what animal he’s eating, he checks to make sure he understands by doing an impression of the animal.

“What aminal is this from?”

“That’s chicken.”

“As in bok-bok chicken?”

“Yes, as in bok-bok chicken.”

These conversations have permeated S’s consciousness and now whenever she eats anything, she says “bok-bok” and does spastic chicken flapping with her arms.

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One of S’s favorite songs is Wheel’s on the Bus. Her favorite part is the horn going “toot, toot, toot” complete with horn honking motions. In our house, toots, and tooting have a whole ‘nother meaning. (Can you see where this is going?) Whenever S passes gas, she excitedly acts out honking a bus horn and shouts out “toot, toot, toot!” It’s so cute, it makes me just want to feed the kid beans.

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I’ve mentioned before that S has nothing interesting to say, and yet she talks constantly. I’ve tried explaining to her what ought to be said aloud, and what is not interesting enough to say. For example, while driving in the car in the afternoon, it is not necessary to observe, “Me no see moon.” One need not list all the things one does not see at a given time. I answered, “Me no see elephant.” She is not learning.

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Conversation with T at 6 AM this morning (we aren’t the happiest people at 6AM):

me: I ordered S her own clock so she can know when it’s morning.

T: What? Why?

me: What do you mean why?

T: Can’t we just rig one?

me: Rig one? With paperclips, weights and rubber bands? WTF are you talking about?

T: No, I meant with a lightbulb and a timer.

me: OMG, you’re a crazy man. She can have her own clock. She’s her own whole person.

S: Ya! Me me own person! Me me own person! Daddy, me me own person! Me me own person! Me me own person! Daddy! Daddy, me me own person…

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me to T: Maybe you could take L to the market with you and he might S-L-E-E-P in the car.

L (extremely excited): Does that spell “guns in the car”?

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There are days that I just don’t want to be The Mommy. I’m tired. I don’t want today to be all about the kids. Feeding the kids. Dressing the kids. Hearing the constant whines of discontent. Can’t there be a day when they are not discontented? Can’t they go from full to hungry without whining about it? Can they be bored without whining? Cold without whining? Hot without whining? Considering the tone of this paragraph by their mother, the answer is probably not.

This past week of displacement, poor sleep, missing my regular life and schedule has taken its toll on me. Yesterday we were all so happy to be home. S took an extra long nap in her own crib. T and L busied themselves trying to clear the yard of our fallen trees. Home itself was a novelty, so we all self-entertained. It seems that the novelty has worn off by this morning.

The living room that was tremendously clean yesterday is now covered in couch cushions, books, toys and food debris. The kitchen table has remnants of several breakfasts and snacks. Bags have not been properly unpacked and instead overflow their innards in the entry way and each bedroom. The restless, nervous anxiety of what are we going to do with the rest of the day??? has set in.

On our own, T and I would just do whatever. It was so easy. But with kids, it seems like something has to happen. We have to go somewhere, do something, plan something entertaining, enriching, exhausting. We can’t just hang out around the house, maybe run a couple of errands, take a nap, etc. A Sunday just isn’t what it used to be. Without the entertainment, enrichment and exhaustion, the kids just circle us like hungry hyenas. Each taking a turn at pouncing with a complaint or tantrum. On tired days like today, they’re more like vultures. They know I’m near my end, and they’ll wait. Creeping ever closer, attentive. I cannot shoo them away to play on their own.

I know that there are kids out there who can entertain themselves. Who can play together for more than 3 minutes without blood shed or tears. There are kids who can sit for hours doing crafts. So why didn’t I have a couple of those kids? The only thing that can occupy my kids for any length of time is destruction of my house. Purposeful destruction with the end goal of getting a parent angry and involved.

They’re outside now with T. Soon they’ll be in demanding hot cocoa and T will hand the unwanted parenting baton to me.

Kids, it’s Sunday for goodness sake! A day off. You are my job every other day, so today I get to rest from you. Get your own food. Find your own freaking socks! Figure out a way to put your own underpants back on after peeing, or just skip them altogether. I don’t care! Also, if you are strong enough to get the cushions off the couch, I know you are strong enough to put them back on. Don’t give me that bs. No, you are not hungry, just bored. Go play. You are a child. Outside are a couple of acres of fallen leaves, snow patches, woods, swings, bikes, scooters, balls and so much more! Figure it out already and leave me alone!

OK. I can feel the outdoor activity coming to an end. Someone is crying. My time here is done. Regardless of how much I don’t want to, I will not put on my own coat and boots and join the family out there. Sundays just aren’t Sundays anymore.

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S has memorized the How To Be An Annoying Younger Sibling Handbook. Hell, she may have revised the thing, adding new chapters such as “Sitting on Big Brother’s Head – Appropriate Situations to Employ This Most Dangerous Tactic,” and “When Hurting Yourself is Worth it in the Spririt of Getting Big Brother in Trouble,” and “Let’s Make Sure Mom Drinks Tonight.” My sweet little girl pulls hair, claws eyeballs and puts her own fingers into L’s mouth for him to bite. In her defense, she only does this stuff when she’s bored. And she will handle a whole minute of boredom before resorting to these measures.

She’s most bored when L watches TV. This is problematic for me because I plug L into the TV when I have something to do. Like cook dinner, make a phone call, or not kill him. So while I’m super busy cooking, talking on the phone, or not killing, S is in the other room stirring things up. She’s instigating a monster, and she knows it. She will sit on his head, (keep in mind, she’s usually not wearing anything on her bottom half,) pull his hair and claw at his eyes until he retaliates. In his defense, he has a HUGE tolerance for this type of crap. I have seen him watch an entire Wild Kratts with his sister on his head. When he does retaliate though, he does so with gusto. A swift twist, push and throwing maneuver and S is thrown from the couch altogether. He may leave it at that, or he may leap down after her and then the two are a blur of legs and arms as they wrestle it out on the floor.

L weighs 45 lbs. S weighs 23. Fighting is in L’s DNA. S doesn’t stand a chance.

This morning, L is plugged into a movie while I try to pack up all of our stuff as we can finally head home after a week of living with my parents. We have our electricity back and I can’t wait to get back to our normal lives. S does not want to watch a movie. So, naturally, she grabs a handful of eyeball. Like a pitbull, once she’s latched on, nothing can get her off. L is screaming and I’m yanking on S but she’s glued onto that eyeball. I finally free L from her clutches and put S into a time out. She does not stay in time outs so I am re-putting her in the corner again and again and then something strange happened.

A man came in and scooped her up. He gave her a hug and asked her if she will promise to be good. Through pathetic fake tears, she promises. He then releases her back into her freedom. WTF? Who is this man? He looks like my dad, but can’t be.

When I was growing up, my dad was the scary one. When we were naughty we quickly asked our mother, “Please don’t tell dad??” I think he still doesn’t know about the brand new ski jacket I lost in the 5th grade. (Sorry, Dad.) So who’s this softy letting my daughter out of her time out? I could have used this guy 30 years ago.

I guess the moral here is that we all have to wait about 30 years. Then when our terrible children have terrible children of their own, we can do whatever the eff we want. We can be the nice guy if we used to be the mean guy. We can give them Sugar Puff Honey Crack O’s for breakfast and then give them back to their parents. We can babysit and keep them up way past bedtime. All this is to say, that one day, we will have our revenge. Good things come to those who wait.

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Conversation over dinner the day after I came home from my spa weekend, proof that T watched hours Food TV with the kids while I was away:

L: Mommy, this is so good!

me: Thanks, L, glad you like it.

L: The pasta is cooked perfectly. And I love how the sauce is sweet and peppery at the same time. It tastes really good in my mouth. (This is all said with utmost seriousness, like a bona-fide food critic.)

me: Wow, thanks, L. That’s a really nice complement.

L: Yes. The sauce is very complemented.

On another night:

“All this flavorment is so great and awesome! I love the flavors and the, like, YUM.”

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S is fully potty trained. Yay! She now drops trou wherever and whenever she needs to pee. I have to keep a steady eye on this. Middle of the playground? In the library? Supermarket? Some places are better than others for this. Also, she is very independent and doesn’t always tell me when she’s going to go. I was outside with both kids and naturally paying attention only to my iPhone. I look up and S is running around with pants around her ankles. Soaking wet pants around her ankles. She’s not good at aiming, or pulling pants up apparently, but she’s perfectly willing to pee on the grass. Atta girl!

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Conversation in the car:

L: Mommy, did you know that peregrine falcons eat their own poop?

me: Really? Is that true? Did you learn that on Wild Kratts?

L: Yep. They eat it because they don’t have any other food.

me: Huh.

L: I mean, they have food. But they don’t have any money.

me: Peregrine falcons don’t have any money?

L: In their whole country there’s not enough money to buy a car to get the food home from the store.

me: And that’s why they eat their own poop?

L: It’s to survive.

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The fact that S blows kisses to me when she says goodbye has lost a little bit of its meaning ever since I saw her saying “bye-bye pee-pee” and blowing kisses towards the toilet as she flushed.

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I’ve mentioned before L’s favoring T over me. Nothing has changed on this front. On a recent Friday night L said to me at bedtime, “Daddy’s getting me up tomorrow. Can you please sleep or just stay in your room for a long long time?”

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S is proudly showing L all of her “artwork.” Instead of ignoring her and paying attention to the movie he’s watching. He hops off the couch and sits down in front of S. With each piece she displays, he exclaims, “It’s wonderful! That’s so beautiful! You made that?”

Heart melts. In moments like these I can almost (almost) forgive him for teaching S to say “Mommy is a stupid idiot.”
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Here’s a problem I have: I like to be expressive, really expressive. In the English language there are few words or phrases with more oomph than “fuck” and “Jesus Christ.” So, naturally, I say these and some other unsavory words a lot.

I realize that people might find these words offensive. Sorry. I don’t mean any offense. They’re just words to me.

I realize that some people might think I lack creativity if I can’t express myself without resorting to these. Maybe I do. But I like these words, and choose them on purpose.

My frequent swearing hasn’t been a huge problem for me since I was a kid myself. Back then, I got in trouble a lot, and there was not a single authority figure who was at all interested in my defense of, “But they’re just words!” At the ripe old age of 35, I’ve gone many years where the biggest repercussion I’ve suffered from my language is that I’ve probably repelled some people and made some lousy first impressions. Not terrific, but not a big deal.

Suddenly though, these very words are coming from the mouth of my 4-year-old. He is a frequent user of “damn” and “Jesus Christ;” thankfully, he’s backed off on his use of the f-word. For the first time I’m hearing these words in a different way. They’re fine coming from me to add some extra punch or humor, but from my preschooler? They sound so so wrong.

I could probably kick the habit, in front of the kids at least, if only I could avoid being aggravated, angry, frustrated and physically hurt. Considering who my 4-year-old is, avoiding these things is just not in the cards. So, do I teach him to do as I say not as I do? That would have bugged the hell out of me when I was a kid, so no. Do I stop saying them even when I step on a Lego after finding L stealing gum from my purse? I just don’t see that happening, so no. Do I teach him that there’s a time and a place for different kinds of language use? This is what makes the most sense to me, and it’s what I actually believe, but is there a time and place for a young kid to swear? Probably not.

I think I’ll just have to add this to my growing list of parenting fails. Unless he stops swearing, L will see the inside of many principal offices, just like his mother did. For his sake, I hope he quickly accepts that certain language is just not acceptable in certain situations. I hope that he does not take his mother’s childhood position of: I will continue to say these words to express myself until all the people around me realize they are just words, so they can lose their ridiculous, artificial power.

Hmm, I wonder where he gets his stubborn streak and his penchant to disobey authority?
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I want you all to know that I read every comment I get here and on my FB page and every single email. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the feedback, support, advice and points of view. There are too many awesome points for me to respond to each one, so I’m writing this as a general response:

  • Yes, I am still going to go forward with having L evaluated by someone who is not that douche-bag doctor we saw the other day. My objective is to find out what makes L tick, so I can help him tick in a way that will not piss me off is more socially acceptable.
  • You’re right, all kids behave worse at home. I should be happy and proud that L can behave so well at school. It does mean, at the very least, that he’s not a psychopath, sociopath, or any other kind of terrible-path. And it also shows that he trusts me enough to never really sell him on eBay.
  • I will try to look at L’s ransacking the baking/junkfood cabinet and the freezer at dawn today as a step towards his becoming an independent, self-reliant man. (Damn, some of you are very glass-half-full people!)
  • I had an aha moment today when I read this comment:

….I’ve found my kids doing the exact same things. They ignore rules they’ve known for years, make messes just for the sake of being messy, and misbehave for me while acting the angel for everyone else. I’ve also come to realize that every time they act this way, it’s because they know they can get away with it. I realize I’ve fallen into the parent trap of frustrated speech, not following through, and trying to plead with them to do what I told them. When I follow through with discipline and kind words, all goes back to normal…

Dean is totally right on. Things were bad with L a year ago, I got really strict and mean, things got better. Things were so good that I thought I was out of the woods. I let my guard down. I let small things slide. Small things snowballed into an avalanche of bad, and now I’m here. Time to bring back mean mommy. This will not be fun, but will probably provide blog-fodder.

So, watch out, L! Mean-Mommy is back. And Daddy’s going to bring back Hammer-T. I will try very, very, very hard not to react emotionally. I will suppress my inner combustible self. I will be nonplussed, calm, and mean.

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