Category Archives: Children
A Girl, A Guy, and a New Guy and a Different Girl
When our daughter, Dimples, was about three, she inexplicably started saying, “the guy” at random moments. Sometimes she would point at her dad, sometimes at baseball caps. We could not figure out what she was trying to tell us.
Then we took her back to SeaWorld for the second time. We sat down at the “Viva” show, which had mesmerized her the first time we went. The show was filled with leaping dolphins, graceful beluga whales, and amazing feats of gymnastics and diving. Despite all of that, it stunned me that she didn’t fidget the entire program. She never clapped or smiled, just watched with wide-eyed wonder.
Determined to repeat that experience, we brought her again about 3 weeks later, carefully arriving about 15 minutes before the beginning of the show so we could be sure to have the same seats as the first time. When you find something that works well with a toddler, you don’t mess with perfection.
We sat down, and suddenly Dimples started saying, “The Guy! The Guy! The Guy!” with great excitement.
And then I saw who she meant. Before the show started, a man entertained the crowd with goofy antics in the audience, pretending to try to “fix” a leak, and splashing water everywhere. He wore a cap. And last time, I had pointed him out to Dimples by saying, “See the guy over there? See what the guy is doing? Isn’t the guy funny?”
From then on, whenever we went to SeaWorld, it was required for us to attend the Viva show to see The Guy.
And if there was a substitute Guy? Dimples was not happy.
This week, Dimples and I went back to the show. It’s been 7 years since “The Guy” appeared in her life. Since then, the show has morphed into a new one, “Azul”, but it’s always had pretty much the same theme.
And it still has “The Guy.” And he still fills a baseball cap with water and puts it on the head of a very surprised member of the audience.
“But it’s a different guy,” Dimples noted with disappointment this week. I felt myself preparing for her inevitable announcement of a Day Ruined. But it didn’t come.
Because now we go to the show to see someone else. Now, Dimples is a synchronized swimmer, and her coach is performing in the Viva show. Now, Dimples is on her way to the Nationals, and her mind is on holding her breath, standing during her lift, and pointing her toes. Now, she is noticing technique and stamina, not the silly man who does pratfalls into the water.
Will I sit in that stadium seven more years from now and be watching Dimples performing with the dolphins?
I don’t know. But I will always associate that open-air theater with a little girl watching her idol with bright eyes of adoration.
And my frantic mental telepathic warnings to The Guy that he Better. Not Come. Anywhere Near Me. With that Cap Full of Water.
I Was Going to Include a Different Picture But I Was Afraid to Google It
Yesterday I had to fend off a wild beast with an artificial vagina.
Okay, the beast was not so wild. But she was extremely forward. Apparently, the father of my daughter’s swim coach feeds her from his hand, so she expects the same treatment from anyone else who visits the back yard. Her name is Rhonda.
Oh, and, as you probably suspected, I did not use an artificial vagina. I used my cell phone. And I didn’t really beat her with it. She backed off when she realized it wasn’t food.
These are the kinds of adventures I have in suburban San Antonio.
They aren’t very newsworthy, I’m afraid.
James Herriot, on the other hand, the British country vet who wrote a series of books about his life, really did, apparently, get to repel an angry bull by beating it on the face with an artificial vagina. The bull, not surprisingly, was a bit upset at this man who kept interfering with things each time he tried to “service” a cow.
Comedy gold. This kind of thing never happens to me.
Instead, I find myself in the enviable position of reading the chapter about it out loud to my 10 year old daughter, and explaining the concept of artificial insemination to her. Because I:
a.) have absolutely no memory of reading that particular chapter when I read the book at her age – or even when I read it again a few years ago
2.) am too lazy to read ahead to see if this might be a chapter best skipped
III.) have not enough imagination to “wing it” and make something completely different up when encountered with the sentence, “All you did was wait till the bull started to mount, then you directed the protruded penis into the A.V.”
Quatro.) was so relieved that this chapter did not include the death of any animals that I figured I might as well keep on going.
For her part, my daughter seemed to take the entire thing completely in stride as she folded her clothes while I was reading – although we both lost it completely when the bull slipped during his millionth attempt to mount the cow and avoid the vet trying to grab his penis, and “slid clean under the cow.”
I thought that I had no use for an artificial vagina. Actually, I never thought about an artificial vagina, period. But now that I have seen its potential, I am thinking of looking for one on eBay.
I think it could come in useful as a conversation starter. Plus, our houseguests could use it to fight off our bulldog, Wonderbutt, when he tries to hump their legs.
I’m going to get a story out of this somehow.
When You Have a Dog Called Wonderbutt, All Other Names Pale in Comparison
I work at my daughter’s school. At least, I did until today. (Don’t worry. I still work there. It’s just not her school anymore, as she just finished 5th grade.)
One morning, a couple of days ago, we were walking into the school. To the delight of many other students who were on their way in, a chihuahua who had obviously not read the “No pets on campus” signs clearly posted everywhere, was dashing around the entrance of the school.
“I recognize that dog,” my daughter said. “It’s the one that lives across the street from Gabby’s house. That’s Rex!”
“Hmm,” I said, noting the huge pink color adorning the neck of the chihuahua. “Uh, are you sure its name is Rex?” And, yes, I am well aware that is sexist. And somewhat unimaginative. I mean, it could be, “R.E.X.” for “Resist Extraterrestrial X-Rays.” Or, maybe, it was spelled, “Wrecks” as in “She Wrecks Every Piece of Furniture We Own.” Perhaps that’s what we should have named our dog…
“Oh, yeah, that’s Rex,” my daughter confidently responded, nodding her head with assurance.
“Because uh, it’s got a pink collar,” I pointed out.
“It’s Rex!” she said, mildly perturbed that I would doubt her canine identification skills.
“O-kay!” I said, not willing to begin the day with a war over the moniker of an animal.
“Or Steve,” she conceded, as I opened the school door. “It could be Steve.”
We Tried to Make You a Gift, But Hobby Lobby Screwed it Up
You know how you try to save yourself money on a gift, but you tell yourself that it would be more meaningful to make something than buy something and then you proceed to spend more money than you ever would have spent on a store-bought gift as you attempt to make something that turns out crappy and you try to fix it and it turns out crappier and then you think, “Who needs friends who are going to criticize your gifts anway? I’m just going to sit at home and watch The Big Bang Theory by myself for the rest of my life,” and you can’t even find a garbage bag big enough to fit the Giant Pinterest-Inspired Disaster that cost you $200?
So, it’s the end of the school year. Teacher gift time. Only this year is my daughter’s last year in elementary school, so she has decided to bestow 9 gifts upon the various people who have enriched her life. And, reeling from a Pinterest induced stupor, I suggested a project.
I spent my entire Sunday trying to find the supplies for this project, which included chalkboard contact paper.
There was no chalkboard contact paper to be found. I went to 5 stores.
I would like to take this opportunity to give Home Depot, Walmart, Michael’s, and Target the following advice – if you stocked your stores based on Pinterest boards you would make so much more money. And your employees would not look at me like I’m on crack when I ask for chalkboard contact paper.
The only reason I didn’t go to 6 stores is because Hobby Lobby is closed on Sundays. So, I improvised. It turns out that my craft improvisations are just as successful as my recipe ad-libs.
I directed my daughter to use her chalk on the black shelf paper I had purchased. It looked great. Only problem? It smeared like crazy.
“Oh, I know what to do about this,” I said, and went to the bathroom.
To get hairspray.
I sprayed the hairspray on a swathe of chalk designs. They faded into black.
I tried 3 different hairsprays. My daughter was getting a bit panicked as I systematically set about destroying her nine masterpieces.
“Okay, that’s not working.”
The next day, I borrowed some super fancy spray for chalk drawings from the art teacher.
“You’re not going to spray that in the house?” Cap’n Firepants asked.
“I’m just checking to see if it works,” I said as I asphyxiated the two of us.
I told the art teacher, who then recommended chalk markers, which will apparently not smear, but can be removed easily with water. ( I didn’t really pay attention to the water removal option, as I figured, why would anyone want to remove my daughter’s beautiful artwork?)
“Where can I find this miraculous product?”
“Oh, Hobby Lobby should have it.”
So, Dimples and I trekked to Hobby Lobby. Which was open. Because it was not Sunday. We found the chalk markers. Right next to the chalkboard contact paper.
Dimples did not want to re-cover every notebook with chalkboard contact paper, so we opted for the markers. But I bought the paper anyway. For the inevitable next time I will need it. I also threw in some chalkboard paint. You can never have too many chalkboarding options.
She redecorated every notebook using the markers.
She put them on the floor to dry.
I think you can see from the pictures what happened next.
Poor Wonderbutt had no idea why I blew a gasket when all he was doing was chewing on his ball.
But I don’t blame Wonderbutt. I blame Hobby Lobby. FOR NOT BEING OPEN ON A SUNDAY WHICH IS THE ONLY DAY THAT I HAVE TIME TO DO PROJECTS THAT I FOUND AT THE LAST MINUTE ON PINTEREST.
I’m going to buy gift cards tomorrow.
And they won’t be for Hobby Lobby.
Your Summer Challenge: To Figure Out How to Inflict Mind-Numbing Boredom Without Getting Caught in the Cross-Fire
My latest project has been to try and figure out how to make my daughter’s summer miserable. You have to do this, you know, so it makes life easier in the fall when it’s time to go back to school. If you’ve planned the summer right, your child will be begging you to take her shopping for school supplies by the end of June. In July, she will spontaneously volunteer to write a report on every country in the world, alphabetically. And when the postcard announcing “Meet the Teacher Night” arrives in the mail in August, she will exclaim, “Finally! Thank God! If you don’t drive me there right now, I’m going to start walking.”
Or, so I’ve heard. So far, I have never been able to achieve this Summer Nirvana. As an adult. As a child, I hit these milestones annually. So, I’ve been racking my brain to figure out what my mother did right and I’m doing wrong.
I remember the one summer that she decided I was going to summarize every book I read on little index cards and put them in a file. I don’t remember the purpose she expressed for this assignment, but in my head I heard, “Since you like to read so much, I thought I would completely stifle your love of books by requiring you to write something every time you finish one.” Maybe she was trying to make sure I was eager for school to start again – or maybe she was tired of filling her trunk with books every time we went to the library. Most likely, she was tired of looking for the books that we had filled the trunk with 2 weeks before whenever it was time to return to the library.
By the end of the summer, I hadn’t completed any books – just started 103 and read until the 2nd to last chapter. In my spare time, I participated in a weekly scavenger hunt for lost books, and started my own school in the basement for stuffed animals. One of the subjects I taught my extremely well-behaved class was Handwriting, which obligated me to pretend to write in 15 various styles every day so I could “grade” their writing. The irony is not lost on me that I filled about 1500 pages with the writing of my stuffed animals while simultaneously avoiding to set a pen down to the index cards that remained blank for 2.5 months.
Now that I’m a mom, I’ve tried to carry on the tradition of mind-numbingly boring summers for my own daughter, but I seem to be failing in this area. I call our summers, “Mom Camp”, and the provided activities have consisted of: Closet Cleaning, Drawer Depuration, Find Something to Do Besides Playing on your iPod or Watching T.V., and For God’s Sake, Run Around in the Backyard with the Dog Because You’re Both Driving Me Crazy (I Don’t Care if It’s a Hundred Degrees and There are Giant Mosquitoes Out There).
But every August, my daughter becomes increasingly depressed as the first day of school approaches.
Obviously, I need to change the program of “Mom Camp”. The challenge is to do this without ruining my summer. I mean, I think we can all predict the response to me saying, “Here’s some index cards. Every time you play an app during the next 8 weeks, you need to summarize it in complete sentences. Oh, and teach your Build-a-Bear how to write, for crying out loud. That thank-you card he sent me for the blue tropical swim trunks looks like chicken scratch.”
Of course, making her increasingly question my sanity could be my new strategy…
Son, I’ve Made My Life Out of Readin’ People’s Faces, and You Don’t Know What the Heck I’m Talking About
To this day, probably the scariest two words you can say to me are, “Talent Show.”
“Hey Mom, guess what? I’m going to be in the 5th Grade Talent Show,” my daughter announced the other day.
“Really? Um, have I mentioned what happened when I was in my 5th grade talent show?” I asked.
Because it’s all about me.
“Well, I was with two other girls, and we were going to sing The Gambler, and I promised I would learn all of the words but I didn’t. And I stood there like an idiot, making up words to everything but the chorus, and completely embarrassed myself. In front of the biggest crush I ever had.”
“So, what are you doing for the show?”
“A Taylor Swift song.”
“Do you know the words?”
“Just the chorus.”
“That’s exactly how much I knew of The Gambler,” I said with a raised eyebrow.
I was pretty sure where this was leading, and I thought maybe nurture (or lack of it) could bypass nature, but a feeling of doom settled in my stomach.
This was going to be The Gambler all over again. The Circle of Humiliation following its inevitable path.
But it turned out that she changed her mind. She is now doing a skit with her friends. Which could still lead to embarrassment – but it will not be a musical one at least.
That, of course, is not the end of the story.
After school yesterday I ran across one of my students sobbing uncontrollably.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“It’s Lyric Check Day for the talent show, and I forgot to bring my song,” he sobbed.
“Well that shouldn’t be a problem,” I said. “Tell me the song, and we can go print it out real quick.”
“The Gambler,” he choked.
Wow. It really is all about me, I thought in amazement.
“Are. You. Kidding?!!!” I exclaimed. Probably not the best way to calm down a hysterical kid.
“I sang that when I was your age!” He looked at me doubtfully.
I decided not to relate the whole mortification in front of my possible future husband portion of the story.
“Let’s go get that printed out,” I said.
I realized what was going on. This was my chance. To redeem myself, to console this poor boy, to make a difference, to be a hero. TO BREAK THE CYCLE. We went to to the computer lab, and I pulled up the song.
He peered at the screen through his tears.
“That’s not it,” he said, somewhat hesitantly.
“Are you sure? You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to run,” I belted out. “By Kenny Rogers?”
“Who’s that? What are you talking about?” The tears had dried up. My singing has that effect on people.
“What are you talking about? Who do you think sings The Gambler?”
So, sure. That’s who sings it. And why he looked at me so doubtfully when I announced I sang it at my talent show. Before “Fun” was even born.
And the Humiliation comes full Circle.
Forget Being the Norm. I Would Much Rather Be the Carla. Or the Woody. Maybe Not the Woody…
I was reading the Sunday paper and came across this quote in an article about the recent spate of parenting books written by inept moms, “There wasn’t this acceptance about being this sort of less-than-perfect mother, but all of a sudden it feels like that is becoming the norm, rather than the exception.” This was spoken by Jill Smokler of scarymommy.com.
Well, that explains what I’ve been doing wrong. I need to stop talking about what I’m doing wrong, and start talking about what I’m doing right because there are far too many other people who are talking about what they are doing wrong, and they are doing it far better than I am. The wrong, I mean. Well, and the talking.
So, from now on I pledge to stand out from the pack and tell you all of the things that I am doing right as a mom. Starting today.
1.) My daughter has eaten hamburgers three days in a row.
Why is this right? Well, I am so glad you asked. Even though I would think it should be obvious. It’s right because my daughter has eaten three days in a row. Duh. Plus, she loves lettuce and cheese on her hamburger. So, there you have it – all 10 food groups in one meal. Three times. Two more and I will have Food Bingo.
2.) I bought my daughter a dress for her 5th grade graduation while we were shopping for clothes for me on Mother’s Day.
Why is this right? This is another no-brainer. We made one trip to the mall, and now I don’t have to make another trip to the mall until August. Possibly even September if I can find a post on Pinterest on how to transform a yellow lacy dress into a backpack.
3.) Oh. My. God. That is the best idea. Ever. I am going to quit my job and support my daughter by making Graduation Dress Backpacks.
Why is this right? Because my daughter will see how important it is to pursue your passion in life instead of saving up for retirement.
And then, she will be happy to support me in my twilight years (although I may have to explain that this is a different kind of “Twilight”) as she pursues her lifelong passion to teach bulldogs synchronized swimming.
And then we will bond even more.
Just Don’t Mix Up What Goes in Your Eyes and What Goes in Your Hair and What You Plan to Drink with Breakfast Tomorrow Morning
Okay, raise your hand if you knew that pineapple juice is good for getting Knox gelatin out of your hair. Now, raise your other hand if you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about. Okay, put both hands down because you look kind of funny. Not as funny as I looked with Knox on my hair a couple of nights ago, but still kind of goofy.
Now, you’re probably tempted to Google everything in my first paragraph, and you will probably find confirmation for the milk thing, maybe in the goofy thing, too. Because the internet will confirm everything you want it to. But, if you think the internet is the best place to learn things, then you obviously have not attended a synchronized swimming tournament. You will get all kinds of information that you never knew you needed to know if you stick around a natatorium for three days with a bunch of experienced synchro families.
For example, if your eyes start burning from the chlorine in the pool, put milk in your eye. Yep, you read that right. Grab a pint from the corner store, tip your head over backwards, and douse yourself with the stuff. Of course, it helps if you can keep the eyes open while you do this – which might explain why that home remedy didn’t work for my poor daughter. To be fair to the milk, none of the more conventional eye drops purchased from the pharmacy helped, either. So, I guess we can’t say that we debunked that myth, just that my daughter claims that it helped, even though she still held her eyes tightly shut for the next two hours and spurned the sun like a real vampire (not like those contemporary pseudo vampires who can apparently go wherever they want.)
You can imagine my skepticism about the whole pineapple juice thing. A bunch of the moms mentioned their daughters had tried it, and that it really helped to get the Knox out of their hair faster. But I have a tendency to disbelieve completely subjective statements. If someone will conduct a scientific experiment in which everything is the same except the pineapple juice variable, and I mean everything – including the amount of Knox that was on there in the first place, then I might just give it a whirl. Maybe.
In my Knoxing internet searches, I found a thread about using Elmer’s Glue to make your mohawk spikier. (It’s amazing how quickly an internet search can devolve into something completely not what you were looking for.) And I thought it might be fun to surreptitiously spread the word throughout the synchro circles that I’d heard you should mix glue with the gelatin to make the perfect shiny hair helmet. Just to see how fast it would get sprinkled all over the internet and back to me.
But no one would be dumb enough to believe that.
Thank Goodness Mother’s Day is Right Around the Corner
So, I Knoxed my hair tonight; what have you done for your daughter lately?
Here was our conversation in the car today:
“The coach says we need to be at the pool by 7:15 am. Knoxed.”
“Hmm. I guess I’m going to have to Knox your hair then.”
“But you’ve never done it before!!!!” Complete panic.
“We’ll, I’ve got to learn some time.”
“But not now!”
“What’s wrong? Don’t you trust me?”
Full confession, My daughter has been involved in synchronized swimming for three years, and I have never Knoxed her hair. Oh, it’s been Knoxed – just not by me. And if you don’t know what I mean by “Knoxing”, it’s the wonderful secret of waterproof synchronized swimming hair. Mix hot water with Knox gelatin (unflavored, though we’ve all secretly been yearning to experiment with cherry because it could taste good and give your hair a nice tint) and paint it on wet. Then it hardens into a nice plastic helmet.
Ask 100 Synchro moms about their Knoxing technique, and they will tell you a hundred different ways to do it. The variables aren’t just the water and the unflavored gelatin packets. You can do the hair several ways, and use a variety of utensils to do the mixing and painting – including, but not limited to, a paint brush or a basting brush.
I didn’t want to fight with my daughter at 5:30 in the morning, so I thought I better settle the issue tonight. I decided to prove to her that I could mix the concoction to the right consistency since she seemed pretty doubtful that I could even do this, much less paint it on her hair. (She is right to doubt me. My sister, Crash, once tried to make Jello. It sat in the fridge for a week and never jelloed. I used to tease her relentlessly about this, and I have a feeling there is such a thing as Knoxing Karma.)
As I was mixing, it suddenly occurred to me that I should paint it on my own hair to put everyone’s doubt to rest. (I have a feeling that it is no coincidence that my medication usually wears off about the exact time of night that I had that genius idea.)
It worked, though. My daughter couldn’t believe I was doing it.
“I bet no one else’s mom can say she’s done that,” she said, proudly.
Okay, I said it. But she agreed with me.
The only problem with this great plan was that I then had to get in the shower to wash it off. That is when I realized that my daughter is not exaggerating when she complains about what a pain it is to get that glop out of her hair. I rinsed 5 times, got out to dry my hair, and realized there was still an entire section over my ear to which the goop had stubbornly clung.
So, tomorrow, if you see a 40 year old woman with hair sticking straight out of her head over her left ear, don’t point and laugh. Bend over to your child’s ear and reverently whisper, “Now there goes a great mom!”
My hair; don’t worry, I got better on the other half of my head.
Never Discount the Power of a Wicked Sense of Vitreous Humor
There is nothing like a weekend spent out of town with my 10-year-old daughter at a synchronized swimming tournament to re-affirm my complete ineptitude as a mother.
Once again, I was faced with the fact that I am unable to do the following: brush my daughter’s hair, put it in a ponytail, make a bun, mix Knox gelatin with warm water to the right consistency, paint the Knox gelatin on my daughter’s hair without burning her scalp, attach a headpiece to the plasticized hair without skewering her with a bobby pin, apply garish eye makeup, make the judges give her first place in everything, be the cool mom that lets her stay up late with her friends the night before she has to be at the pool at 7 a.m., bring her parka to keep her warm despite the fact that she told me in no uncertain terms that she would not need it, take pictures that don’t look like I was having an epileptic seizure that lasted the entire 48 hours.
But I did remember her swim bag this time.
I am not Swim Mom. I am Teach Her How to Program a Robot Mom. I am Sure, I’ll Ice Skate with you Since Your Friends Won’t Leave the Wall Mom. I am Let’s Ride the Roller Coaster and Get Scared Out of Our Wits Again Mom. I am Thank God You’re Finally Old Enough to go Ziplining with Me Mom.
And I thought that was enough. But a weekend spent confronting my own shortcomings in the Swim Mom department was a bit defeating. Particularly as I listened to my daughter’s pained yelps every time I attempted to do anything that might involve her scalp.
By the time we returned to school on Monday, I was feeling like one of the most incompetent mothers in history, rivaled only by the leathery mom who gave her daughter a sunburn in the tanning bed.
I halfheartedly invited Dimples to assist me in a “practice eye dissection” after school, and she agreed, “because then I don’t have to go to after-school care.” She hates after-school care. Another failing on my part.
When I pulled the sheep eyeballs out of the jar, the other adult assisting me had to “take a moment” before we started cutting in. But Dimples surprisingly seemed untroubled by holding a detached organ in her gloved hands. She approached the task of slicing the eye with great gusto that, quite frankly, had me a bit concerned about her own detachment.
Her favorite part was the inside section called “the vitreous humor”, and she plopped it up and down zealously, fascinated with the consistency. I had a vague impression that I had seen this substance before, and finally realized where – it looked exactly like the unflavored, dissolved Knox gelatin that had been painted on her hair all weekend.
“Gross, Mom,” she groaned when I pointed this out. But she grinned.
And I thought, “How many other daughters get to hang out with their own mother dissecting a sheep eyeball?”
You may bond with your daughter by teaching her the art of the perfect ponytail, but my daughter and I will always have our successful hunt for the optic nerve that brought us closer together.