For those of you who are not infested with cicadas, I must tell you, you’re missing out on a priceless parenting tool. No, I’m not talking about a science lesson about their life cycles and boring crap like that. While that’s admirable and all that, it’s not as valuable as what I have been using the cicadas for.
Let me preface this by saying my daughter is a whole new breed from my son. With him, you could take a toy away or threaten no TV, no baseball or no allowance and actually get somewhere. At a certain point, you just had to give him the evil eye and he would obey. Of course, the sarcasm he would add was a bonus but, he was, and still is, petrified of “losing” a privilege.
The “princess” however, is completely unruffled by the prospect of punishment. We tell her she’s going to her room, she scoffs at us and tells us, “no I’m not.” Four hours of arguing later, guess what? She was right. She’s been to the top of the stairs, bottom of the stairs, the kitchen counter and the front lawn throwing her little tantrum of defiance, but yet, she’s managed NOT to go to her room.
If we threaten to withhold her allowance, she shrugs and says, “go ahead.” She is still under the impression that coins are better than paper money, anyway, so money really means nothing to her. (We figured this out when we found out the older one was trading her his “valuable coins” for her paper money).
When I threaten to throw away her toys, she remarks, “I was done playing with those old things anyway.” If we say, “no TV” she knows there will be a TV on somewhere in the house at some point in time. And if she’s VERY quiet and cunning, she can watch TV after all.
“Go to bed early,” just results in two hours of arguing and she ends up actually staying up later than she would have to begin with. In short, we are weak and worn down by our head strong and independent child. But not anymore….
With the dawning of the cicada era in our neighborhood, I’ve stumbled upon a miraculous discovery. The princess is afraid of the cicadas. Not that she’s a screechy girlie girl…believe me, she eats dirt and pokes earthworms. This discovery was highly unexpected and uncharacteristic. But something about the ugly bodies and shrieking noise they make have her crapping her pants at the prospect of touching one. Or rather, one touching her. I, on the other hand, am not afraid of the creepy little things. Which leaves me a whole new bargaining chip.
Case in point, I tell my darling child, “please finish your homework.” She ignores me and continues watching some stupid show about a dog who types on a computer. I smile tightly and ask her again. She leisurely bounces her foot as she lounges on my chair (which I never seem to get to sit in) and still ignores me. I march over to the TV and turn it off and I am met by a wail.
“Mommmmmmmmmmeeeeeeee! Why did you do that???”
“Because I asked you to do something and you did not do it.”
“But I don’t wannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnt toooooooo,” she continues to moan.
“I don’t care,” I tell her. “Get your little butt in that chair,” I point to the dining room chair in front of the spot where she has spread all of her homework, all of her half eaten pencils and crumbles of what used to be erasers. “And finish your homework.”
She gives me one of her scathing stares as she crosses her arms across her chest. “No,” she replies defiantly, her eyes challenging my authority.
And that’s when the brilliant idea comes to me. It was kind of like the light bulb above the cartoon character’s head. I smile smugly as I walk out the back door, head to the garage and pluck a nice fresh cicada off the side. I march inside with it and find my princess reclining in the same chair, TV back on. Apparently she thought the discussion was over.
I beg to differ as I dangle the insect above her, causing a blood curdling screech to arise from her. “What is THAT?????” She asks, inching away.
“It’s a cicada. And it’ll be in your bed to tonight if you don’t get off your tush and do your homework, NOW.”
Needless to say, the homework was done in five minutes flat. So until those little buggies burrow back into the ground in a few weeks, I have a way to get the Princess of “No” to actually behave. Don’t roll your eyes at me…admit it, it’s brilliant. And if you weren’t afraid of them, you’d do it too.
Parenting truly is the hardest job we will ever have in our lives. It starts in pregnancy when each thing you subject your body to or put in your mouth has the potential to alter your future child’s life. It continues after they’re born, everything you say or do could shape them and their personalities. It’s a fine line to walk every single day. We second guess ourselves constantly and we don’t need other people to make us feel worse than we already do.
Yet, I realize that moms can be extremely judgmental and nit picking of other mothers. I try not to be that way for the most part, after all, as long as you’re not being abusive to your child you know best. To each his own. Right?
Of course, the snarky side of me just cannot resist commenting on some questionable parenting comments as I am sure you have realized from my blogs. One of my biggest pet peeves is parents who think little Johnny or Suzy can do no wrong. They could never make the mistakes…they could never be the bully, they could never be the one who put the tack on the teacher’s chair, and if they do make a mistake, it is never their fault. Some force of nature MUST be personally working against them. Basically, their sh*t don’t stink.
Time and time again I hear it…”not MY child”. Or “so and so would NEVER do something like that!” When they make an error in judgment ( as we all do from time to time), there is an excuse. “Oh she’s overtired” or “he’s just getting over an injury”. Seriously. We we all mistakes…teach your kids to own up to them at a young age and they will be gracious losers when they lose a game and own up to their short comings when they don’t know how to do something. If you constantly make excuses for their behavior or their school progress or their sports performance, they will not only not develop skills to be a likable adult, they’ll realize they can get a lot by you because you’ll never suspect them of anything less than perfection. Think about it. If you go away and leave your flawless teenager in charge of the house and you come home to a trashed residence, you’re more likely to believe his concocted story about the burglars who tied him up and then threw a party for their fellow criminals. Can you say ” naive”?
I’m not saying be harsh, rip them to shreds and never praise them. Quite the contrary. Tell them when they’ve made you proud…make sure they know when they’ve disappointed you. And be realistic. If your child’s teacher tell you that they ate their classmate’s pencil, don’t immediately accuse the teacher of lying. Realize it PROBABLY happened and your little darling either has a vitamin deficiency or they were being a pain in the a$$ nudge. ( the second is FAR more likely).
If your daughter misses a foul shot in her basketball game and hits the fans in the bleachers, don’t turn to everyone and announce she has a knot in her neck from sleeping wrong and that’s why her aim is off. When your middle schooler comes home with his first D, don’t say the teacher has it in for him. Find out what the problem is…maybe he needs help. Or maybe he’s staying up way too late playing Call of Duty. When your 18 year old gets in an accident, don’t blame the unicorn that ran across the road. Because the bottom line is…you are doing your child a disservice if you don’t accept the fact that he or she is human. I think people assume that they look bad if their child isn’t the star. Your kid isn’t going to be the star of everything. If they sound like a cat being pecked to death by hens when they sing, don’t tell them their singing voice is beautiful. If they trip over their own two feet, soccer probably isn’t their forte. Everyone needs to discover what they are good at. And even when they figure that out, you have to realize, they won’t always be the best. Someone will always be better.
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Sometimes things just tick me off and I need to vent. Hey, I didn’t say it would always be funny, but I did say it would always be true. If you’d like to help me out in my quest to leave you LOL, feel free to leave me suggestions about what topics you’d like me to blog about for next time.
I was talking to an acquaintance the other day about getting my kids ready for school in the morning. Now mind you, this woman has two daughters in high school, a freshman and a junior. As I’m recounting my tale of my particularly harrowing morning, she turns to me and says,”Oh I know. It’s so hard getting everything ready for them in the morning.”
Knowing her children’s ages, I was perplexed. “What do you mean?” I inquired, my curiosity peaked.
“Oh you know…making them breakfast, getting their lunch together, doing their hair,” she replies, roling her eyes. “They’re such pains in the morning.”
Now my mouth is hanging open. WHAT???? You mean to tell me that a 15 year old and 17 year old can’t get themselves ready in the morning???? They can’t pour a bowl of cereal, slap PB & J on bread and comb their hair? Does she need to get in the shower with them and wash them, too? Does she brush their teeth for them, making sure she times the process? I was that mom who let her kids shower by themselves when I trusted they wouldn’t break their necks in the tub and prayed they got all the shampoo out of their hair.
If teenaged children need a parent’s help with basic feeding and hygiene needs, then I REALLY must be a bad mommy. This morning my daughter asked me to get her a bowl for her cereal and my reply was “Are your arms broken?” In the interest of saving time and avoiding cleaning up spills, I WILL help her pour milk and juice. But she is on her own with getting her bowl and spoon and stuff like that. She can even toast a waffle. After all, her arms are NOT broken.
And unless it’s his birthday or something, my 11 year old is MORE than capable of pouring his own cereal, putting an English muffin in the toaster or even scrambling eggs. I won’t let the little one use knives, the stove or plug anything in yet, but you bet your a$$ that when she’s a FRESHMAN in high school, I certainly will not be making her breakfast. In fact, I expect HER to make ME breakfast.
You were warned…I AM mean.
Last year when I announced to my then 5th grader that I was no longer making his lunch for him, he responded with the usual retort, “But everybody else’s mother makes their lunch.” And I countered with the equally obvious answer, “I’m not everybody else’s mother.”
I HIGHLY doubt that every other 10 or 11 year old on the planet has a mother who makes their lunches. If they do, that is pathetic. (Also pathetic are the grown men who have lunch made for them by their mothers. But I don’t know ANYBODY like that…*cough, cough*.) Children need to learn how to take care of themsleves and fend for themselves. Otherwise, we’re going to be stuck with a bunch of incapable nincompoops that polish their participation trophies, running the country in a few years. Like the girl in high school whose mother makes her lunch and breakfast. She’s a junior, so in two years, how’s she going to take care of herself when she’s in college? Call mommy and ask her for a care package? Or maybe, mommy will move in with her! Oh but then the younger one will have to learn to take care of herself. Hmmm, decisions, decisions.
I brought up this perplexing dilemma to the mother, who stared at me indignantly when I suggested maybe the children could prepare their own meals. “That’s my JOB as their mother,” she huffed, boring holes into my face that clearly indicated that she felt I was remiss in MY child rearing duties.
Not only am I not going to hoover and suffocate my kids for their own good, I’m not hooving for MY own good. Hello, if it comes down between making my kids breakfast and showering, I’m opting for the shower. If it comes down to braiding my daughter’s hair or going to the gym…you better bet I’m going to the gym. Because the bottom line is, they don’t need me for everything. Afterall, eventually, I won’t even be there anymore. There’s a point in time where you have to step back and say, “This is on you.” Even if you don’t think they’re 100% ready. They will be 100% ready after practice. I mean, it makes me wonder…at what point did these “Hover Moms” stop wiping their kids’ butts???
So I just heard, for the umpteenth time today, what a mean mother I am. This time, it escaped the lips of my older child when I had the audacity to ask him to empty the dishwasher. The mean mother comment followed the indignant huffing (I interrupted his Playstation game) and eye rolling.
Emptying the dishwasher is his new chore and he loathes it. He doesn’t feel that emptying the dishwasher is a job he wants to continue with. After slamming the dishes into the cabinets and stomping around the kitchen, he asked if he could quit. I responded with a flat out “no”. Then, he tried to recruit his little sister to help him. She laughed at him. He then proceeded to tell me that “it feels like my life revolves around emptying the dishwasher”. After I stop laughing for ten minutes straight, I tell him that yeah, I know what that feels like.
It feels like my life revolves around FILLING said dishwasher, doing piles of laundry that never end, vacuuming up the dog hair that seems to regenerate before I can even put the vacuum away, dusting the furniture so the pollen that blows in doesn’t make everyone’s eyes red, changing the sheets that the little one pees on almost every night, mopping up the spills of apple juice that no one tells me about until I am stuck to the floor, picking up the toys that escape from their owner’s rooms and endlessly cleaning the windows that are perpetually smudged.
After this litany, I was met by another eye roll and I resisted the overwhelming urge to smack him across the mouth. I then proceed to lecture him on the fact that he should be happy because I am doing this for “his own good”. Oh my God, when did I turn into my mother? Well, actually, I can’t be my mother because if I were, he’d have a hell of a lot more chores and I wouldn’t have resisted the urge to smack him.
If that weren’t enough, I proceed to say that he should be grateful that all he has to do is empty the dishwasher because when I was his age we didn’t have a dishwasher and I had to wash AND dry the dishes in addition to a million other chores. I ask how he would like it if his entire weekend revolved around doing chores rather than going to his baseball games? Great, now I’ve moved on from sounding like my mother and I sound like my father.
My son whines that this is “slave labor”. My husband points out “slaves don’t get paid”. He receives a generous salary for emptying the dishwasher and taking out the garbage, which he forgets half the time and blames us for not reminding him. It must be rough being 11 and having to remember how to defeat all those games. He has no room in his head to remember Monday is garbage night. He is also supposed to clean the dog poop in the backyard but it’s a cold day in hell when actually does that. I have to be mentally ready with a tall glass of sangria or wine on the days I remind him to clean up the dog poop. It literally takes hours of crying and carrying on to get it done. He hates doing it because the poop “smells”. Yeah, kid, I know all about smelly poop. Your diaper wasn’t full of a bouquet of roses, you know.
But seriously. I don’t give them chores for my sake. I really am trying to teach them to be responsible and learn how to actually DO these things that are necessary to survive on their own. My 37 year old husband has never made his bed or done laundry so I am desperately trying to break that cycle. His mother literally cleaned his room till he was 21. I really don’t want my future kids in law to curse me under their breath as they follow my kids around picking up their underwear.
Trust me…it would be a heck of a lot easier to just empty the damn dishwasher myself instead of revolving my dish washing around my son’s game playing schedule. It would be so much less aggravating for me to just put their clothes away myself instead of asking them to do it. Their drawers barely close and the socks are in the shirt drawers and the shirts are in the pajama drawers. It would be a piece of cake to throw out everything in my daughter’s room instead of begging her to pick everything up. The dog poop though…yeah that’s got to be all them. I’d rather hire one of those dog poop people to come clean up the yard before I do that one.
I feel like I am constantly nagging someone to do some chore and my requests are consistently met by the 3 most cringe worthy words a mother ever has to hear. “In a minute!”
EVERYTHING is “in a minute.” And “in a minute” loosely translates into “maybe sometime this week if you’re lucky”. “In a minute” is a cousin of “I don’t know” and “not me”.
Maybe I should employ the same tactic. For example, “Mommy, is my uniform ready?” My answer could be “in a minute” even though I haven’t even put it in the washer yet. “Who’s taking me to my game?” My answer? “Not me!”
“What’s for dinner?” “I don’t know!”
But heaven forbid I answer them that way! Apparently they are under the impression that I was put on this Earth to be at their beck and call 24/7. I’ve got news for them…I’m not their servant. Oh yeah…I’m THAT mom. The one that doesn’t believe every last thing in my life should revolve around my kids. I am not “Robot Mommy” who loses herself completely when she has kids, appalled by moms like me who refuse to wait on their kids hand and foot. Don’t get me wrong…my schedule completely revolves around them. But my LIFE is not all about them. Don’t be shocked…I warned you I am selfish. Join me for my next blog when I tell you just how selfish I can be.
Any parent that has more than one child realizes that one will always be the easier child while the other one will be the “oh my God why didn’t we use birth control” child. My older child is the easier child and that’s good for both of my children because if my daughter was born first, he wouldn’t exist. My son has his moments, don’t get me wrong. Between the ages of 3 and 5 I considered heavy medication for the temper tantrums. For me, not him. But then, my sweet normal child that I previously knew came back and all was right with the world.
So needless to say, when my darling princess started acting up straight out of the womb, I held my breath, certain that when she turned 5, a normal child would emerge. She’ll be 8 in two months and I’m still waiting.
I know you’re thinking I’m harsh but you don’t live with her. So please, let me regale you with a tale of morning madness. Due to my husband’s work schedule, I am fortunate enough to have him at home four mornings a week to get the child ready to go to school. That fifth morning is a bitch. Now it’s not the older child. He would drive himself to school if he could. It’s that little one that kills me every single time.
How hard could it possibly be to get one nearly 8 year old girl out the door by 8:15 am? you may be thinking. Obviously, you don’t have an 8 year old “oh my God” child.
I start around 7:15 by kissing her forehead. I whisper good morning in her ear and stroke her hair while I encourage her to get up. I am usually met with a guttural like growling from underneath the covers. I then cheerily talk to her while I pull open the drawers, asking her what she wants to wear. This usually evokes a screech from the general direction of the comforter. Still smiling, I tell her that her clothes are on the dresser and ask her what she wants for breakfast. It is at this point that she usually dramatically flips the covers off her head and wails, “I don’t know what there is! ” Happily, I recite the entire breakfast menu. She then flops back down on the bed and sighs forlornly. “I wish I could have scrambled eggs this morning.” Despite the fact that I won’t have time to properly do my hair if I make her scrambled eggs, I would do anything to get her butt out of bed so I agree to scrambled eggs.
After I have created the requested breakfast, I call the princess to the kitchen. I get no response. Assuming she is getting dressed, I go about getting myself ready until I realize that she has crawled back under the covers. Dragging her out of bed, I literally carrying her to the kitchen table while she fakes snoring. (She learned that from her father). Once at the table, she opens her eyes and recoils in horror. “Those are scrambled eggs! I don’t want scrambled eggs!”
“But, but, but…” I stammer. Am I going crazy? Didn’t she just tell me scrambled eggs?
Pouting, she cries, “I want oatmeal!” Glancing at the clock, I see that time is ticking away. I guess I won’t make my lunch today either. Well, I needed to drop a few pounds anyway. Grumbling, I proceed to make the oatmeal while I send her back upstairs to get dressed.
After the oatmeal is made, I call up the stairs. I get no response. I climb the stairs to find my daughter naked on her bed with markers and paper. “What the hell are you doing?” I scream, unable to contain my frustration any longer.
She smiles at me as she waves the picture. “I want to color my teacher a picture.”
“No you don’t,” I tell her. “You want to get dressed. Now.”
This is the point at which I quickly begin to unravel. She folds her arms defiantly across her chest and tells me no, it is her teacher’s birthday and she wants to draw her a picture. I respond with a very colorful, “I don’t give a bleep if it’s bleeping Christmas. We don’t have time for this bleeping bleep this morning.
She now begins bawling hysterically which leads to hyperventilation. I frantically look to the clock to see it is now 7:40 and we are, as usual, down to the wire. Since I am not dressed yet, I shout at her to get her bleeping bleep dressed before I am dressed or there will be hell to pay. She blissfully ignores me as I race out of the room to throw my own clothes on.
When I return, the coloring is over, but she is still naked. “Why aren’t you dressed?” I inquire, determined not to lose my temper after a little pep talk I gave myself in the bedroom.
“I don’t like the clothes you picked out,” she tells me.
“Okayyyyyy,” I mutter. “I don’t care what you wear, just put something on.” It is now 7:50 and the older child is pacing and soon to be hyperventilating. I am convinced he may spontaneously combust if he is late for school even once in his lifetime. He has no patience or tolerance for his sister’s antics which he begins to voice loudly.
“Come ON, already! Jesus she’s so slow!”
“Don’t say Jesus,” I admonish half heartedly as I tug on my boots.
“But she’s a pain in the ass,” he insists.
“I agree. Could you help me out and pack her book bag so that we can get out of here?”
“That’s not fair,” he grumbles at the injustice but it is still more important to him to be on time so he grabs her book bag and starts throwing her homework and lunch bag in there. He will be admonished by his younger sibling after school for his “messy” packing job.
“Wait!” I haven’t packed her lunch yet. “What do you want for lunch?” I call up to the demon seed.
“I don’t know….” she whines.
“Throw a yogurt and an apple in there,” I instruct the older one. Inevitably she will change her mind about what she wants to eat between now and lunch time anyway and I will get a tearful phone from her that she is so hungry and the food is sooooo icky.
“Are you ready?” I call up the stairs impatiently. My daughter now comes down the stairs in a tutu like skirt and a tee shirt that she has chewed around the collar. Her hair is sticking up from all the hairspray she she has sprayed in it. “Dear Lord, what are you wearing?”
“I want to wear this!” she defends her clothing choice. She stomps over to the closet and retrieves sparkly boots.
“Absolutely not. It’s 37 degrees out. You need leggings under that.”
“No! I hate leggings!” she screeches as she bounds back up the steps and flings herself on the bed. She pulls the covers over her head.
“See what you did?” the older one wails. “Now we’re gonna be late and I’m gonna get detention and then I’m going end up in a biker gang…” He is frantically twiddling his hair.
“No, no, no!” I cry as fly up the stairs. “Get out of bed! We have to go!” It is now 8:00. I’m pretty sure the older one is having a coronary at this point.
“Oh my God she’s so stupid!” he yells. “She makes us late everyday!”
Suddenly, the princess shoots out of bed as if shot from a cannon. She darts down the hall and launches herself from the top of the steps with the speed and agility of an Olympic gymnast. She lands square on her brother and begins pummeling him. His nose begin to bleed as he flips her over and his fists start flying. The dogs are barking and dancing around, eager to join the melee. Taking my life in my hands I attempt to separate the children and get kicked in the head.
“Get off of each other!” I screech. I am ignored. I pull the little one into the kitchen and throw her down on the chair. “Eat your bleeping oatmeal NOW,” I growl. I turn to reprimand the older one, but he is already outside, tissue shoved up his nose, pacing next to the car. It is 8:10. I am sweating and have heart palpitations at this point. But we just might make it. “Quickly! Eat!” I cannot fathom sending my princess to school on an empty stomach. I am certain her teacher would think I was a bad mommy if I did.
Slowly and deliberately she climbs down from the chair and retrieves a box of cereal. “I think I’d rather have cereal,” she tells me sweetly.