This is Son #3 at the beginning of the summer, pre-bangs debacle. And yes, this is his real mad face. Boy does not mess around!
Super Cuts is exactly the place you want your child to have a meltdown. Not only is everyone there holding sharp, pointy objects but the walls are lined with bottles of expensive goo and the floor is coated in hair. Best case scenario (and by best I mean worst): your kid will knock said bottles off the shelf, continue his tantrum by rolling around on the floor, stand up looking like a multi-hued Yeti and then bolt out into the parking lot because everyone is laughing hysterically at the kid dumb enough to lick the floor of a budget hair salon.
Which is how I ended up with one leg flung across my 7-year-old’s lap, effectively pinning him to the seat, sweating while I did my best Cirque-du-Soleil back bend trying to explain to the stylist standing behind me (and as far away from my sobbing son as possible) what to do for his back-to-school haircut. I was just trying to avoid the Yeti situation! I’d hate to make a scene.
This afternoon I spent a harrowing hour biting my nails and waiting to hear the test results. No not another test on my heart or broken brain. In fact this test wasn’t even anything to do with me! I was waiting for my son to finish his placement test for what math class he’ll end up in next year. He’s already in the advanced math track so this test would simply determine whether he got into advanced-advanced math.
When he finally emerged from the testing center I was struck by two things: How tiny my 11-year-old still looks and how the expression on his face was exactly mirroring the expression on my own.
This test had everything to do with me.
“How did you do?” I asked a little too eagerly.
“I don’t know yet,” he answered with the same edge in his voice, “but the proctor said I did better than anyone else today.” And then he broke into a huge grin made even sweeter by his outsized teeth and smattering of freckles. “Aren’t you proud of me, mom?” He held up his hand for knuckles.
I dread the day when this sweet little girl looks in the mirror and sees anything but a gorgeous miracle.
There comes a day in every girl’s life when she realizes that she is not the prettiest princess in the room. I’m not sure exactly when that day was for me but I know I was very young. Having a daughter myself, I can tell you that every girl is born into this world knowing she is the most gorgeous, amazing creature ever. Every body part, including her tummy, is just a body part and something to be examined (and possibly colored on) with delight. Jelly Bean is 4 years old and watching her frolic after bath time tonight assures me that she has not yet lost that fairy magic. But while some of us keep that wonder a bit longer than others – I think having parents who adore every inch of you helps – somewhere between babyhood and girlhood, it’s gone. Extinguished like a candle under a cup. The candle is still there of course but it no longer lights our way.
Who are you?
The moment you first see your baby is supposed to be one of the most beautiful of your whole life. It’s supposed to make you forget all the pain you endured, be grateful for the sacrifice, make it all worth it. You’re supposed to fall in love, right there in that strange hospital room with all those strange people feeling all those strange feelings. But it didn’t work that way for me. Instead, as I held my little strangers, the first thought I had when I saw each one of my five babies for the first time was simply Who are you?
I think part of it was the pain. I had two-and-a-half births with an epidural and two-and-a-half births with no drugs (and of course it’s the two halves that tell a whole story) but all were excruciating. After Jelly Bean’s birth, which was a “natural” delivery, I turned to my husband and said, “We are never having any more children. But if by some freak chance we do, force me to take the epidural! In fact, just flat-out anesthetize me. I can’t do this again.” I was shaking so hard from the effort I could barely hold her. And I did not forget the pain. The next night I woke up screaming with some PTSD nightmare, thinking I was still in labor with its red-hot unstoppable pain. I still haven’t forgotten that pain and I don’t think I ever well.
Hello Kitty always helps answer the big questions – kind of amazing for a cat that doesn’t even have a mouth.
“Mom, are robbers tiny or big?” The other day I found 4-year-old Jelly Bean rolling around on her floor, looking at her fingers and and pondering that existential question. “Where does jail live?” she continued, when I asked her what she was doing.
“Well there’s a jail in every town, I suppose,” I answered her. “Why are you asking about robbers and jail?”
“My brother told me robbers are bad guys and they go to jail.”
“That’s true, usually,” I said, still not sure where this was going. Kids ask the strangest stuff. “Are you worried about robbers?”
“Yes,” she said with a little shiver. “I scared of robbers.” But before I could reassure her she added, “Are they sad?”
“Some of them, probably,” I answered.
“Is sad a bad word?” She twirled her fingers.
“No honey, sad is not bad. It’s okay to feel sad.” My heart jumped a little at the question.
“Why sadness?” Again. Kids. Questions. Oy.
Can you tell which one is the kid with the “hyperactivity issues”?
“I have to go potty!” Jelly Bean yelled.
Of course she does I grumbled to my husband. We were 10 hours into a 14-hour roadtrip, it was pitch dark, we were crawling through a white-out blizzard in nowheresville Kansas and we’d just passed the last rest stop 20 miles ago with nary another in sight for hours. Now I have to give Jelly Bean mad props: she’s an excellent squatter. Girl learned young from her brothers the benefit of being able to pee in the wild when the need arises. Sure she prefers a toilet but she can totally squat, pee, shake her tushie, stand back up and not even get her shoes wet. But this time it was -15 degrees outside and there was that whole blizzard thing going on.
This little guy in the middle would be me: Trying hard but getting it all mixed up – but still throwing some stellar JAZZ HANDS! Jazz hands make everything better.
“Aiieeee!” There was a shout and loud clatter as a woman nearby us in the parking lot of the hardware store watched all of her metal thingies (yes that’s the official name THINGIES) crash off of her giant orange shopping cart into the snow. My family and I were on our way into the store but I paused, Jelly Bean on my hip, to help her pick up her stuff. My boys jumped in too and within a minute we had her loaded back up and unstuck from the snow. It really was the smallest thing. Really. And yet as I turned to walk away, she touched my arm, “I’m just amazed. Your family is so nice! You guys just made my whole day!”
I waited until we got inside to round up my kids for a big hug. “Did you hear what she said? You guys just made her day! Just by helping her for 1 minute!” They beamed. “See? Helping people doesn’t have to be hard,” I started in on Mom Lecture #239. “You just have to be aware of the needs of people around you!”
My favorite boys!
(Backstory: One on the right just won a trophy for his Pikachu pinewood derby car and the one on the left is having a meltdown because he didn’t win anything. It’s tough being the second child. Of course the third kid, on the far left, cared about nothing but the cake.)
Controversy is Chris Brown’s middle name. The rapper is a master of taking a bad situation and spinning it to look even worse. (Everyone remember the time he beat the crap out of then-girlfriend Rihanna? And then got a tattoo of her battered face on his neck?? Okay, good.) To say I’m not a fan would be an understatement. But this past week he gave an interview that made my heart break for him. He told The Guardian that he “lost his virginity” when he was eight years old to a 14- or 15- year old girl. (Not even going to put the full quote here as it kinda makes me want to barf. Feel free to click through to read it though.)
Signed, a mom of four lego-loving cleaning-averse kids
People are so astonished when I tell them I have a 17-year-old sister that, I’ll admit it, I kind of like shocking them with that info. (Really I have so very few things I can use to shock people that if I have to rely on my mother’s atypical fecundity then so be it! It’s either that or haul out my extensive collection of creepy porcelain dolls. Don’t ask.) My mother was very young when she had me and I won’t say very old (just older?) when she had my sister K. She and I are 17.5 years apart. I watched her be born (which was seriously cool and not as weird as you’d think it would be) and was even the first to hold her as my dad was still hugging my mom. (That was the day I discovered newborns come out a very alien-esque purple with whiteish slime, not at all pink and cute like on the movies.)
Well this would solve my problem, I guess. Good thing they specified it’s the men’s toilet though – just as I was dreaming about standing and peeing…
The Zoo Incident started out innocently enough with my kids and I deciding to enjoy a beautiful Colorado day by checking out the new baby zebra at the Denver zoo last week. Like the good mom I (sometimes) am, I started off our adventure by trekking them all to the zoo restroom to ward off the evil sprites of My Brother Smells Like Poo, I Drank The Whole Water Bottle And Now I’m Sorry and – everyone’s fave – My Legs Are Wet And I Have No Idea How That Happened. With no family restroom available I sent the three boys (11-, 9-, and 7- years old) into the men’s as I hopped outside the door like a perv with a hand sanitizer fetish. (And let’s be honest, I kinda do. The only way I can ensure my kids have washed their hands is to make them hold them up so I can smell them. Such a fun little ritual for them to remember me by when I’m gone and they’re grown!)