Cowed by the Dog Days of Summer

Ah, summer!  Pool time, board games, leisurely walks and family meals.  It’s all part of our wondrous academic calendar that allows us to slowly tease the pleasure out of each day, one by one, during the hottest season.

summer dinner

But nothing is as wonderful as eating around the table with your children.  Oh, to break bread with the fruit of your loin!  The bickering, the dissatisfaction with the chef-parent, the utter senselessness of trying to converse with people who don’t even listen to NPR… yes, the endlessness of that doggone meal!

Not to mention the withering stare from your vegetarian child as you enjoy a wee bit of meat.  A look so direct that it would shame an expert surveyor, as she delineates the area of shame beginning at my mouth,  back to the plate with its victim-burger, and then to the blasted marsupial pouch I can’t seem to unload.

“Nice cow lunch, Mom.”

My son looks startled all of a sudden.  “Wait, burgers do come from cows?  Mom, you said that burgers were like tofu or something!”

“Hey, settle down.  I must have misunderstood your question….  And you, remember!  You have chosen not to eat meat.  That is your choice.  Our choice is to be omnivores.  So, cool it with the mean looks.”

“Right.  Your choice, my choice but who cared about the COW’s choice, Mom?”

“Maybe it was a volunteer?  OK, listen, it’s not my fault most animals are cute and delicious!”

“There is no excuse in today’s society to continue harming animals just because humans are greedy pigs, Mom!  Why do you eat the poor things?!  How do you explain yourself?!”

I use an extended pause for effect.  “Funny how you use ‘pig’ as an insult… and I love your leather bracelet.”

She delivers an epic eye roll, averts her gaze entirely, and adopts the ‘I’m going to ignore you for the rest of the day” stance.  Success!

All right, so the lie about the cow meat ferreted its way out into the light, making me look like an idiot.  I was only trying to allow my son to enjoy his food guilt-free.  Good intentions all the way!   But when confronted by a kid who wants answers- especially incriminating ones- what to do?  Well, as a card carrying member of the Spanish-speaking tribe, I say “no way, José!”  Build that wall around the truth- it’s all the rage!

Vegetarian skeleton

 

 

 

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When the Student Becomes the Master

Yep.  The day finally has come.  The one that tests your resolve and questions your life’s work as a parent.  Will you pass or fail?  Will you be fired?  If only!  Parenting is forever, people.  No Trump here to relieve you of your duties- although he may often make you relieve yourself….

No- I’m talking about middle school sex ed.  That course that “introduces” concepts that your sweet child should be spared until absolutely necessary.  Perhaps the wedding aisle, as I have suggested in a previous post?  Oh, back off, haters!

So, in a show of supreme courage and aplomb- which took me a few weeks to drum up- I approached my daughter about what she had learned.  It went something like this….

“So, ah, sex ed, huh?”

“As if you could handle it, Mom!”

“Easy there.  Give me some credit.  After all, I am willing to talk about it.”

“It was forever ago- and why do you look like you’re about to cry?  I don’t see what you are so upset about.  You got to get in vitro and never had to do It.”

“Hmm.  Too true, too true.  Well, I’m not actually interested in details.  I’m just curious how everyone handled it.  That poor nurse who had to teach it to you girls!  Egads!”

“Forget the nurse!  She’s fine but the rest of us are scarred for life!  Oh, Mommy, there was so much screaming!  Everyone was freaking out!  But there was one really savage girl who was so braSex edve she only flinched repeatedly without ever uttering a sound.”

“Wow- sounds like she was seizing.  Are you aware of her medical history?”

“What?  No… yikes- maybe.  I’ll ask her.  Anyway, that s-e-x stuff is gross.  I mean, ain’t nobody got time for that!”

“Ya nailed it!  Can you say that a little louder, though, sweetie?  Please?? Daddy’s in the other room and you have to speak up!”

“Huh?”

“Don’t worry- I’ll figure something out.  So, you’re good?  Need any- uh- ‘holes’ filled in?  Sorry- not the best metaphor.”

“No, Mom!  Ew!  Now you are freaking me out.  I mean, do you want the nurse to call you or email you her PowerPoint slides?  I gotta get out of this conversation!”

“Aw, no thanks.  I’m good.  Glad we had The Talk.”

“Yeah.  It was awesome.  Let’s never do this again!”  And off she stomped.

As I wiped away a tear, I knew I had done good.  Granted, she is unpolished, but her desire to avoid the truth, her natural instinct to spare me the horrid news, and her refusal to fully engage me despite my entreaties, filled me with pride.  She will make a fine parent someday.  The best gift I could ever receive on Mother’s Day!

So, to all you mothahs out there- have a happy, happy Hallmark holiday!  And keep up the lying!

When Children “Alternate Facts”

Yes, I have spent a lot of time encouraging us to lie responsibly to spare our children the many ugly truths out there.  And yet, I have not broached the topic of when they lie to us… and it’s never to protect poor maw and paw!  They’re out to save their own hides- every time.  And my demi-Hellenic children seem to be particularly crafty.  Such weavers of tales, they are truly descendants of the likes of Homer and Euripides!

Of course, some lyin’ in the old apple is likely the tree’s fault… but you cannot allow your kids to pull the wool over your eyes.  A ten year old who can successfully bamboozle his parents today, will at fifteen be cruising around in a Trojan horse while you sit there smiling like an idiot, thinking the Greeks should start an online gift registry.

So, take this innocent little fib one of my children tried to pull on me.

“Hey- what does homework look like for you tonight?”

“Oh… homework?” His hesitation is a dead give away.  The game is afoot.trojan-horse

“Yeah- you know, that exciting ritual we participate in every weeknight as a family?  Lots of screaming and tears involved-sometimes some learning?”

“Right, right!  Weird.  Don’t have any.” He shrugs innocently and continues to rub his thumbs all over his damnable smart machine, avoiding eye contact.

“Huh.  That’s weird because Mrs. Harpy always assigns homework.  The woman is relentless!  Ruins most happy hours around this place….”

“Mom, you know her name is ‘Harper!’ Sheesh!”

“Sure, whatever you say.  So let’s see that assignment pad.”

“That won’t help because I have already completed everything that’s on the list.”

“Show  it to me anyway, along with the ‘completed’ homework as evidence.” He shifts uncomfortably.

“Oh, thaaat homework!  Yeah, I’ll get it out.  I haven’t finished it yet.”

He hadn’t finished it yet.

You have to kick the Trojan horse’s tires a bit to see if it’s hollow.  Last thing you want is a houseful of Greeks.  And I oughta know.  My house is chock full o’nuts!

Happy, merry Noëlf!

Never is the desire to pop the Noël bubble stronger than at 3:32 a.m., when you awaken in a cold sweat because you have once again forgotten to move the bloody Xmas elf that your sweet son depends upon for his childhood’s survival.   Apparently, nothing is more devastating than waking up to that slovenly creature sitting in the same spot, unmoved, and unwilling to show signs of life.

My friends, it may seem like a quaint idea, but in truth, the elf turns December into a daily cat and mouse game in which your child runs down the stairs to see what new, inventive position the damnable homunculus will present… while you sweat it out at the top of the stairs hoping your spouse moved the slippery sprite because you sure as hell didn’t!  Will he be dangling from the chandelier in a jaunty stance?  Maybe the little coquette is peeking out from between the Christmas tree branches?  Oh, no, wait, he’s in the same flippin’ place as yesterday!  What was once cute and amusing a mere 24 hours before, now only serves to disappoint the expectant pixie-acolyte.

“Why didn’t he move, Mommy?”

“Because he’s a lazy, vindictive SOB, kid.”  OK, I have never said that, but I’ve wanted to.

“Mommy isn’t sure.” One remembers the drunken Saturday night haze with some level of remorse.  “Sometimes they are so tired from watching and reporting back telepathically to Santa that they lose the strength to move.  Plus he loves watching you at that angle, where he celf-2an see you all stretched out in your pajamas.  I guess?”  Gotta dial back the perv.

“Oh, well I love him watching me, too!”  The mind reels- hopefully not a sign of things to come.  “But if he doesn’t move again, do you think it means he’s lost his magic?”

“Impossible with your level of belief in him!  I mean our level of belief, ours!”

“OK, I just hope no one has touched him.  One wrong touch and it instantly makes him lose his magic.”  Yeah, I’ve had dates like that.  I get it, Elfie.

“No, certainly not!  He’ll move tonight.  I can feel it!”  Note to self….

Listen, I’m a Santa-and-all-things-enchanted advocate, but let me tell, you, that freakin’ elf blows.  He’s a high maintenance, all-take-and-no give sort of guy.  Avoid him like the plague!  Of course, if your kid asks for one, it’s tantamount to throwing down the gauntlet.  Plainly put: you’re screwed.  Off to the impromptu Christmas store set up in your local strip mall sometime in August to make sure you were good and sick and tired of the holidays by mid September.

Yes, it’s truly exhausting to come up with daily never-before-seen places and stances for this poorly articulated imp.  But we do it for the children!  We do it for love!  It adds to the mystery that is Christmas- or so I keep telling myself.  Anywho, I’m so well-versed at this point that I am currently writing a “kama sutra for dummies” on elf positions.  Relax, people, it’s clean!

Sheesh- and bah, humbug!

 

 

 

 

Lie to me, baby.

I know from my fan correspondence that there is some cockamamie concern that lying to your child will lead them to lie as well.  My first response is “duh- don’t get caught.”  Here is the good news: children have faith in their parents- they believe in us blindly!  So, how hard is it to exploit that?   Come on, now!  In matters of faith, truth is irrelevant.  Hell, it can be downright dangerous!  Adult up, stick to your guns and outsmart your children.

Anyway, lying can be a vague concept.  In the case of lying to our children to protect them from the unsavory, it’s more like a postponement of the truth.  By the time your children figure out what sex is, for example, they will be too horrified to talk to you about it.  And the potential element of pity is worth capitalizing upon- poor mom and dad!  They could have been spared the cost of in vitro if they had only known about s-e-x!   And it does explain mommy’s divorce from her first husband….

But seriously, you can deflect your way out of any potentially incriminating conversation.  Take the example below where I was able to slither easily out of a perilous exchange.  I was in the midst of my first encounter with a new doctor and he was reviewing my health history.

“So, Elsa, do we drink too much?

“I don’t know doctor.  I mean, I just met you- do you?”

“I meant you.”

“Ah!  You had me worried there.  I don’t do well with stranger’s confessions.  I’m still reeling from having to read St. Augustine in grad school- quite the windbag.”wine

“Right… so- do you drink too much?”

“I don’t think so.”

“I see.  A good gauge is if people around you think  you drink too much.”

“Wow- I would never hang around those kind of people!”

“OK, my point is, do you have one drink per day?  Two?  A dozen?”

“Sure!  But wait- what kind of glass am I using in this scenario?  Are we talking a full up red wine glass or those puny little sherry glasses?  Because that could entirely alter my response.”

“You know, let’s skip this and go straight to your family history.”

“Really?  Because I thought this was going quite well.”

“Nope.”

See?  You can squelch anyone’s attempt to worm any sort of supposed “truth” out of you.  For God’s sake, if I can deflect a highly educated adult who’s made it through med school, plus a strenuous, never-ending residency, surely we can pull the wool over our children’s eyes with ease!

Also, we eventually want them to learn to lie to our grandchildren. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to end a fun weekend at Gam-gams with an overexposed six year old grandchild wildly describing the birds and the bees, while I’m spooning out Metamucil realizing that the most exciting movement in my life is now intricately associated with my bowel.  I don’t think so!

Keep lying.  Can’t stop.  Won’t stop.

Stop Lame Ducking It!

Allow me to get realpolitik on you here: I hate talking politics.  That being said, I really hate talking politics- even with like-minded friends!  What could possibly be worse than having a disagreeable conversation with an adult?  Having said discussion with a child.  Let us adults please assert ourselves, and stop allowing the silent majority to make family meals into their own, private rubber chicken circuit.

Ah, the child with a political opinion is akin to a chimpanzee with a cigarette.*  Sure it’s kinda funny at first, but you just wait till that chimpanzee gets out of its depth with that tabackey and starts flinging excrement in a fit electoral-college-winner-button of nicotine-induced rage, and I tell you what!  Cute turns ugly right quick.

Nothing is more horrible than having to engage a child, who is not even aware of our tangled electoral college , blithering on and on about wall-building and leaked emails.  Those earnest wide-eyed ten year olds cannot put the “pun” in pundit for love nor money.   So, parents, please do not instruct your children in your cockamamie political ideas!  I don’t want to hear them from you, and especially not from your poorly informed, amygdala-happy spawn.   I had my kids convinced that if Trump won, we would have to climb over walls just to access our favorite Mexican restaurants.   People that gullible have no business discussing politics.  Mercifully they cannot vote!

baby-politicssSo, tonight, as the debate between Hilarity and Rump rages, keep your kids far from the idiot box.  Let them dream of sugarplums and baby bunnies, and not Benghazi and rampant misogyny .  There is no bleeding heart that will tolerate some child on the bully pulpit tomorrow filibustering the hell out of their morning.

I, for one, plan to avoid anyone under the age of 16 tomorrow to lower my chances of being trapped by some lunatic ‘tween on a whistle stop tour.  If I don’t, I  may have to go all ad hominem on someone’s @$$….

 

*I’m harkening back to my childhood memories in my beloved, suffering Venezuela.

Till Death Do Us Part: Pledge or Fervent Wish?

Ah, yes.  Why do mommy and daddy fight?  Why do birds fly south in the winter and why does spring cover the leaves with trees?  Marital feuding is not only natural, it’s a good example for children on how to deal with disagreements in a way that is respectful and dignified- or at least learn some good, solid passive-aggressive strategies.  But really, this notion of getting divorced once you have children is nonsense.  After procreating, you will never get rid of your spouse- never, ever, ever.  So, you might as well spare yourselves the expense and suck it up, stay married, and indulge in the occasional spousal homicide daydream- hey, it’s free and extremely satisfying!  Anyway, who gets married for happiness?  Amateurs!

As you can see, I am a very old-fashioned gal.  Plus, I do not want to be a two-time loser!  So now that I have already been conveniently divorced, I no longer believe in divorce.  See how that works?  Frankly, there are two main reasons I would never get divorced… again.   Nope, make that three: 1) my children, 2) my body, and 3) my body.  It has taken me almost twenty years to train my husband to accept its many flaws (after the bait and marrriage invitationswitch routine of getting together when I was thin and in shape).  I’m too embarrassed to put this thing back on the market and frankly, it wouldn’t sell.  I don’t suppose I could give it away, come to think of it.

So, when having a heated discussion with your spouse, remember to repeatedly state
positive mantras like “OK, you know I love you…” to be followed by the real point, “but you really have to curb your mother!”  Never use hateful language, and it is a good idea to come up with code language, or a “safe” word, during an argument that will alert your spouse that this tragic, marital mutation of foreplay has gone too far.  If you need to swear in exasperation, perhaps go for a made-up cuss word that both satisfies, like “geegernbuggle,” and also sends a message that you are at your wit’s end.  Nothing brings more pleasure than a fricative, by the by, and German is full of silly fricatives.  A well timed “Fahrvergnügen fliegen scheisse!” goes a long way.  Just never, ever leave your kids thinking that they need to fear for the union of the core family.  They can rest assured that their parents are shackled together in matrimony no matter how much they hate each other!  Hopefully you will find the exchange below edifying.

“Have you seen my car keys, honey?”

“Not after I found them for you last week, nope.”

“Thanks for the sarcasm, but I am already late for a meeting and need all the help I can get, sweetie.”

“But I’m in the bathroom.  And I hate it when you talk to me while I’m in the durn tootin’, flick flocking bathroom.  You know that!”

“Little ears, little ears….”

“But you know I love you!”

“Me, too!  OK, the kids’re in the kitchen now.  So… any thoughts on those keys?”

“Maybe they’re up your….”

“Ears, ears are back!”

“Up your ears, darling cakes!  That’s where the kinkerlinking keys must be!”

“Oops, wait!  They’re in my pocket.  Sorry, my bad!”

That conversation, albeit tinged with bitterness and resentment, is pretty tame.  Bottom line, you must always be aware of your children’s whereabouts, particularly when involved in a confrontation.  Yes, the fact that my husband has lost pretty much everything he has ever owned at least once, including one of our children at a museum, does drive me to distraction.  And it is true that there is no activity more violating than the interruption of one’s bathroom time.  Nonetheless, we must retain our dignity even when we lose our shnorfinkle cool a bit.

Anyhoo, pfyrshleeng marriage!  Am I right?

Just say “no!”

OK, I know what you’re thinking.  Is the title of this post the internal monologue of last Friday night, after boozing it up all night with your pals, and then your drunken and delusional spouse gives you the telltale threatening wink- or “the white man’s mating call?”  No.  Not at all.  In fact, I am harkening back to the Reagan years when Nancy- who had just said “no” to the offer of yet another meal- was encouraging us young folk to “Stop the Madness” and not engage in drug use.   A worthy pursuit!  Nancy Reagan

Now, the prevailing opinion on steering children away from drugs is to talk with them openly and frankly about the dangers and risks of narcotics.  Not on this blog, you don’t!  Sure, it sounds like a good plan, but at some point they will catch wind of the claim that wine is a drug!  I mean, come on now, some of my best friends are wine!  You do not want to end up sounding like a horrible hypocrite and propel your children toward revenge drugs!

So, avoid an actual talk altogether.  Instead, you would be wise to pepper commentary with words such as “damned narcotics at it again” or “shouldn’t have done drugs” or when watching a halftime show “can’t imagine hallucinogens weren’t involved in that wardrobe malfunction!”  You can get some major anti-drug traction  by chucking out any of those phrases while passing a homeless person, a Justin Bieber  poster or someone in yoga pants.  Above all, never let them hear the pairing of “drugs and alcohol.” That’ll put the kibosh on your weekends right quick!

So, on this festive day when we celebrate this great nation, let us go forth with our liquid bread and fermented grape and commune with family and friends- which does include Uber drivers- and remind our children that the Founding Fathers would never, ever have accomplished so much had they smoked the marijuana cigarette or gone for the kibbles and bits.  And, no, meth did not create Washington’s need for wooden teeth.  Show some respect!Bud light.png

And God bless America!

Objects in the Mirror Are Smaller Than They Appear- Honest!

OK, let’s tell it like it is.  We mothers must not complain about our weight in front of our kids.  No matter how much the girdle smarts or the muffin top droops.  Nope, nope, nope.  We cannot lead them  down the path of (m)anorexia or thinking that a human being’s value is attached to his or her waistline- which it is, but let’s recall that this is a guide for “responsible lying” and not some cockamamie feel-good blog for those of us who wonder how many calories we burned by choosing the oatmeal over the chocolate chip cookie.

So, allow me to recall a recent event that took place with my daughter and how I handled the potential psychological damage she might have suffered had I cowardly told the truth.  I shall paint the scene.  We were all hanging out on the couch, bonding and enjoying family movie night.  After a couple of pieces of pizza and some wine, I rearranged my body mass into a reclining position, and in an effort to look sultry for my husband, pulled up my pants a bit and discretely tucked in an unruly roll under the agonizingly uncomfortable size 12 slim-fit stretch jeans with flattening front panel.  Now these pants deliver, people, but I am certain that the significant amount of fat they hide is lurking painfully somewhere in the neighborhood of my ascending colon.  woman in mirror

At any rate, we must remember that the little people are always on the watch, picking up on our bad habits and reading into everything we do disfavorably.  You know, prepping for puberty when they can give us the old one-two sucker punch to the heart.  So, as I was going mano a mano with said paunch, I heard a snort coming from my left where my daughter was unsuccessfully trying to repress her giggles.

“What are you laughing at, pray tell?”

“What are you trying to do with your belly?”  Now, I love my first-born with all my heart and soul, but at that moment, I was not so keen on her, if you know what I mean.

“I am getting comfortable.”

“But you were trying to hide your belly.”

“No, no, no!  You are quite mistaken!  I am not in the least ashamed of my body!  I am not trying to hide anything!  I am very comfortable in my own skin.”  I had hit the trifecta of lies.

“So why are you trying to put your belly away?” Never has a participle been more passive aggressive.

“Because these pants are super comfortable and they help regulate my digestion.”

“Really?  How?”

“By creating a compact environment that aligns my internal organs in such a way that they facilitate food traction and bile secretion that then further breaks down nutrients that are absorbed by my intestines, which then allows vitamins to enter the bloodstream and feed my muscles, bones and organs, preventing disease and promoting overall health.  It’s a thing.”

“Wow!” She exclaimed admiring my pants’ front panel.

“Yeah, wow!”chimed in my husband.

So, as you can see, I not only skirted the dangerous all too prevalent negative-body-image syndrome, I also encouraged an awareness, however inaccurate, of  physical well-being.  Granted all this at the expense of my husband getting a glimpse into the mysterious world of body shaping outerwear.   I wonder if he continues to believe my claims that I still am a size 6, which I have never been…?

Anatomy 1-oh!-1

As I have mentioned earlier, and for damned good reasons, I have a strong opposition to children’s rampant use of anatomical terminology, as encouraged by today’s tell-all-parent.  This is not only inappropriate; it is painfully awkward for anyone outside of the childrearing years of thirty-five to forty.  No one should have to experience the equivalent of Cindy Lou Hoo discussing nipples, penises, or God-forbid, her special “button.”  I mean, come on!  After all, The Color Purple was a tragic tale, people, not a glossary for preschoolers!FreshPaint-5-2016.05.02-06.00.23

So, how to combat this revolting trend?  How to appropriately reference anatomy, especially if it is itchy, hurt on the monkey bars, or simply hanging out of a pair of pants?  Unless you were raised in a commune by irresponsible hippie-freaks, driveling non-stop about Walt Whitman’s body electric, we have to go no further than our own childhoods, where our uptight parents inspected our offending body parts through the lens of a well-filled martini glass.  Like them, we should use generic, inoffensive terms like “your privates.”  This term not only conveniently blurs the line between male and female (no, there is no sex!), but it can also give you quite a chuckle upon arriving at an army post.

Sometimes anatomy is even baptized with cute family names, such as “your bott-bott” or “rumpey-pumpey.”  There is no need to get too cute, of course, but you see what I am getting at.  The bottom line (snort, chuckle- there is a pun there!) is that in no way should these terms be sexual or even universally identifiable in the event of an unfortunate incident at the store, or worse, church.  The Lord’s Prayer should never be marred with comments about the child’s vagina in the pew behind you.  On a side note, the touching of the anatomy can be a problem: steer clear of Michael Jackson videos and encourage frequent trips to the bathroom.

For your edification, below is a chart of terms that I have found quite useful.  You’re welcome!

Lying guide- Anatomical terms chart