Friday, January 31, 2014

A**Hole in One: Afternoon A**Hole

The next installment in the A**Hole in One series was submitted by my friend, S (she asked that I refer to her and her daughter by their initials), after a particularly trying afternoon pick up at daycare with her three year old daughter, N. Anyone who has ever tried carrying a sack of screaming, squirming piglets over their shoulder while wearing dress shoes in the middle of an ice slicked, snow burdened winter will appreciate the following anecdote.

N hates to leave daycare. Emphasis on the HATES. Yesterday was especially horrific. Here is how it went.

Me: (Arriving at her classroom door) Hi sweetie! It's time to go.
N: (Seriously pissed off face alternating with near tears face) Go get my brother first.
Me: No.
N: Please Mommy.
Me:  No.
N: Can I have a few more minutes? (Now with  teenage-level snottiness).
Me: OK. I'll be back in a few minutes, so finish up what you are playing with.
Ten minutes later I return with baby bundled in tow. N sees me at the door. She GLARES at me as if I've just stolen the last French fry off her plate.
What followed was 7 minutes of foot stomping and hair tossing, alternating with crying on the floor in the fetal position.
I finally get her out of the classroom by leaving. She walks out, taking the world’s smallest steps, and meets me at her cubby.
What happened next was 20 minutes of shouting, crying, flailing, refusal to get coat, boots and other winter apparel on. All the while throwing her body around in such a way that other happy, accommodating children cannot access their belongings. I should mention that her shouting usually includes "Ouch mommy! Stop Mommy! Don't hurt me!" (I don't need to mention that I'm not even touching her, right?)
I am now sweating and fuming. A sympathetic parent tries holding the door open to no avail as we are barely moving.

In the end, we left with her over my shoulder (no boots, hat or mittens, coat unzipped) while I also balanced the baby in the infant carrier through the snow to the car.

For more information about how you can contribute to A**Hole in One, please click here. What's  the good in enduring our own crappy experiences if we can't share them later with others in their similar times of affliction? 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Words Not to Live By

First Born Son has a pair of lounge/ athletic type pants that he bought with his own money. They were costly. They are an off shade of maroon with an impressively sturdy construction- melding an easeful cotton woven blanket quality and the ruggedness of kernmantle rope. They are his favorite pants. He has had them for a while. They have never been washed.  I call them his 'stand up pants' because they have so much of his DNA on them they have nearly grown legs to stand up on their own.

I try to spend as little time as possible in his tenement of a bedroom. I drop off his clean and folded laundry in the few places unoccupied by garbage and soiled garments. And I scurry out with dust mice (and possibly real mice) chasing at my heals. But the other day, after not finding a suitable surface on which  to place his clean laundry- I decided to tidy up. This entailed sniffing every single sock and pair of boxers in a game of Clean VS Stank sorting. I picked up the favorite pants and before I lifted them to my nose- chucked them in the Stank pile. When I finished, all the dirty clothes were placed in the hamper for First Born Son to bring to the basement for a deep clean. And the fresh clothes were tucked safely in their drawers.

The next day, First Born Son came bounding down the stairs wearing The Pants. I felt myself panic a little in their presence.

'I put those in the dirty hamper! They need to be washed!'

'No they don't. They're fine.' He scoffed, flopping on the couch, embedding  slag and feculence into the cushions.

'Have you smelled them? I can smell them from here!' And then he spoke the words which rattled me more than the fetor of The Pants.

'Just because something smells bad, doesn't mean it's dirty.'

I realized that these were not just mere words.  Of all the words, these are THE words he has been living by.

Clearly my work with him is not yet done.

On Friday, I'll have another installment of A**Hole in One.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


It is fitting that on her 4th birthday we are insulated in our house as the ground is blanketed in snow and the air's bitter sting is unforgiving today. She came into the world in the middle of a snow storm. Her urgency to be present rivaled the blast of the gales which pressed down on us en route to the hospital.  She was born under a full moon. And she has grown to be both the tempest - a flurry of drumbeats and song- and also the warmth and safety of the hearth- a tiny healer laying her empathetic hands on the sick and doleful. It seems like only yesterday that we unexpectedly found ourselves expecting her- worrying over how another child would impact the family dynamic. And now as we celebrate the 4th year of the 4th child it doesn't seem like it is possible that there was ever life before her.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A**Hole in One: Great Balls of Fire

This is the first installment in our A**Hole in One series. This one comes via text message-courtesy of my younger sister, Bug who has been battling with the perpetual orneriness and mischievousness of my dear nephews ages 5 and 3. Currently, 3 year old Lu is the reigning champion of the A**hole Games in their home. My sister is pregnant with her third baby. Lord, help her!

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, ' A child is a curly, dimpled lunatic.' Oh, Mr. Emerson, I think you were being too polite.

Can you top this ass-oholic moment?  I'm sure you can. For more information about how you can contribute to A**Hole in One, please click here. Where's the good in enduring our own crappy experiences if we can't share them later with others in their similar times of affliction? 

Friday, January 17, 2014

a new series on the blog

When others use words like industrious, creative, independent, resourceful, determined to describe your child in moments of “challenging” behavior, do other less flowery characterizations run through your brain? There’s no question that you love your kid. But are there moments, days even (okay weeks) when you find yourself asking, Why is my kid such an a**hole? Does your child’s behavior leave you feeling alone- stranded on an island under siege by someone who isn’t tall enough to ride the big rides at the amusement park?  Do you find yourself  Googling Why are three year olds (or whatever age afflicts you) such a**holes and then subsequently, shamefully enjoying momentary validation when your search returns articles which are actually titled, Why 3 (or whatever age) Year Olds are A**holes?
This is Princess Commando at 3 years old.  She was being an A**hole that day.  I don't remember what she was so pissed about but she was saying something like, "You'll be sorry!"  

On Monday, I am launching a new series on the blog titled, A-hole in One. But I need your help.  I want you to share your anecdotes and your epic tales of the moments- the weeks- when you questioned whether or not your child* was an a**hole. And I will illustrate your stories. Please share the ugliest, most frustrating, most challenging, most OMFG, why isn’t there a PPS (Parent Protective Services)?! stories (it helps to make us all feel better about our own little a**holes).

If you have pictures- especially of the highlighted moment- please feel free to send those along too. If not, I will use one of my kids to stand in for your child (chances are one out of the four will be fulfilling the role that day). I will change names, when requested.

Please, send your stories to  And please feel free to repost and share.

Remember- those things that make them challenging will make them great people one day. Until then, rest assured you are not alone.

*By child, I mean under 18 years old. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bread! Milk! Toilet Paper!

We had a blizzard last week. The city shut down. But before the blizzard, there was an extreme weather warning which streamed in red banners for days across our TV screens and blew up social media. The balmy 30 degree air was filled with anticipation. Temperatures were going to drop into the negative numbers mixing with violent wind gusts and unrelenting snow. We haven’t had a blizzard in Buffalo since before the dawn of Facebook.  Before the first finespun flakes descended, social media outlets stoked flames of mass hysteria about bread, milk and toilet paper shortages as a real time galleries of barren store shelves were curated by community members. Even the lactose intolerant suddenly scrambled to the corner store. Milk! We must have milk! We can’t drink it; but, we  can’t survive the storm without it!

We had already done our grocery shopping for the week. With the 6 of us, every time we shop, it looks like we are shopping for a cataclysm. 

It wasn’t just hype. On Monday afternoon, the snow moved in steadily.  The delicate powder turned into a wall of white. My charitable contribution for the day was to pick up the boys after school so that they wouldn’t have to wait for public transportation in the storm.

The conversation on the slow crawl home went something like this: 
Henry: Do you think they will close school tomorrow?
First Born Son: They’d better. It’s not fair to make us go out in this weather.
Me (in my head): Wah, wah wah. Babies.
First Born Son (spotting the blurred figure of his classmate): Hey look, it’s Dougie waiting for the bus. You can hardly see him because of the whiteout. He looks like giant snowball.
Me: Should I give him a ride?
First Born Son: Nah, he’ll be fine.

As I prepared dinner, the kids were glued to the TV- calling out the names of each district that had closed school for the following day. Each update that did not include the Buffalo Public Schools was followed by groans: Aww, c’mon! It’s not fair! They can’t make us go out in this weather! We’d better not have school tomorrow- that’s child abuse! I’m not dying of  hypothermia just because our district does not care about us!

At 6:00 PM, the call came. The angels rejoiced Hallelujah, Buffalo Public Schools will be closed tomorrow! And, First Born Son bolted into the room.
'It is for real? Are schools really closed tomorrow?’ His eyes were sparkling like disco balls.
'Yes,’ I confirmed.
Then, I’ll be right back,’
Where are you going?’ He was pulling on his sneakers and I suspected it wasn’t to do something helpful like shovel the walkway.
To the store. I’ve got to load up on supplies.’ (Supplies=Candy)
It’s awful out there! You don’t even have a coat on. Or boots!’
 He paused in the open  doorway letting in a shock of arctic air, assessing the neighborhood which had been swallowed in the veil of white,wryly smiling, 'Aw, it’s not that bad.’

Friday, January 3, 2014

yes, before you know it...

My last goal for 2013 was to keep my eyes open until midnight. Accomplished- but barely. We were all knit together on the couch- the kids, the dogs. Us.  We counted down from ten, the ball dropped and Princess Commando gave me a celebratory squeeze. It’s not that it was a bad year, it was just good to let go of 2013. 2014 feels more than ever like a year for embracing the opportunity for opportunities.

A few days before Christmas, a large envelope arrived in the mail for First Born Son from Buffalo State College (his first choice and my Alma mater).  I don’t know what I expected it to be- but, I did not expect it to be the affirmation of 17 years of planning, guidance, accomplishment. 

I unfolded the glossy tri-fold and pulled out the letter tucked neatly inside the pocket:

Dear Max,
On behalf of our faculty, staff and students, I congratulate you on your admission to the Pre-Business Administration program at Buffalo State College…

Hot damn! It's a Major Award! Happy Christmas to us!

This is one of those moments seasoned parents caution new, googly-eyed parents about.  Before you know it, he’ll be in college. Yes, before you know it....

When we were beginners standing at the starting line of long and winding path dotted with milestone markers, we sighed at the sprawling stretch of time billowing ahead-confident that there would, in fact, be time ahead of us. Through the bliss and through the battles, we developed a recurrent verse- We just have to get him to college. We imagined what the world would look like- what type of person our son would be- who we would be in the context of it all. I imagined myself to feel much wiser when the acceptance letters landed in our mailbox. But now that we have arrived at Before you know it, he’ll be in college, I don't feel all that more enlightened.  

There are three others for whom in times of achievement and times of agony, we mumble- We've just got to get them to college. I'm still contemplating the rise and fall in the path ahead but with less confidence that time will, in fact, keep surging onward-forever-for us. The difference now is that I now have the authority to exhale sentiments which will drift carelessly about the tender heads of new mothers- ‘Relish these moments.Take it all in and don’t blink. These moments will be gone before you know it.’