I like to think of my parenting skills as rational and reasonable. I see myself as calm and caring and giving, even patient at times. And then there is the daily reality that has me screaming, “PUT YOUR SHOES ON!, GET IN THE CAR!, DID YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH?!, EAT!, SLEEP!, PEE! It is on these days that I visit the edge and dream of going over. I imagine myself falling slowly and steadily; hanging from the string of a pretty colored parachute that drops me in the middle of the La Costa Spa and Resort.  On the day that I arrive the exits are sealed, and my return to parentville will be indefinitely delayed.

THUD! That was the sound of me hitting the ground; in my backyard; no pretty colored parachute; no hot rock massage unless the one lodged in my left rib counts and, no endless fountain of margaritas. The dream is over. I open one eye and there before me, at the edge of my bed, stands a child who professes to be mine and he is hungry. From his stance I can tell that he also needs to pee and is refusing to give in to the urge. The reason behind his desire to hoard his urine like gold in a bad economy baffles me. Without opening the other eye I motion for him to find the toilet and set his precious metal free. Our next goal is to wrangle with a toothbrush that is designed to save teeth that are going to fall out anyway. The logic in this one defies me.

Downstairs we go, hand in hand, because monsters sometimes forget to go home when the sun comes up. The remote is uncovered, the television pings to life, and Disney XD delivers the day’s news. Frozen waffles and two gummie bear vitamins are on the menu – 365 days per year, for both of us. It does not occur to me, anymore, to stock my home with food fit for anyone over the age of 10. Then it happens, I view the clock and it is quarter til school. I know exactly how many minutes I have before the I become “mean as a snake” mommy…10/9/8/7/6/…..”Angelo, turn off the television and put your shoes on….” 5/4/3  ANGELO turn off the television and put your shoes on!!” 2/1 TURN THE TELEVISION OFF AND GET IN THE CAR!!!!!” Game – Set – Match…And, I am going straight to hell….I bet I see you there.

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“It’s time to go!” Nothing. “It’s time to GO!” Nothing. “IT’S TIME TO GOOOOO!” Nothing. This is how all family car travel adventures begin. The inability to turn off the television and put on some form of footwear incites the screaming which only comes after a long and arduous period of get away planning. The planning includes; finding a great place to go and making sure I get a grunt of agreement for the chosen location; next comes the choice of lodging for which I proffer a variety of options and, since there is no grunt, I make an executive decision; last comes the packing which always includes everything from an egg for making waffles to underwear and Chapstick or sunscreen. All of which are necessary and only one of which will break on the way to our destination. The other two will only have enough left for one application – for my child. I will come home sunburned and cracked; literally and figuratively.

However, if we are lucky enough to pull out of the driveway with all eligible traveling members in tow, I will feel hopeful. I will begin to believe that it will be possible for us to succeed in arriving at our destination without a missed turn, a flat tire, excessive traffic, or vomit on the backseat. The later is within my control and the drug is legal, the others are the equivalent of the luck of a slot machine in Vegas. After several hours in the car I realize that the anticipation of successful travel is dead. Now the only thing I can hope for is to arrive before someone wets their pants.

Arrival brings a sense of exhilaration and renewal! I tell myself that our time away starts now and I assume that everyone in our traveling party understands that this is the moment to begin anew, or do they?  The facilities are fabulous, except for the part that someone points out is not. The location is beautiful, expect for part that someone points out is not. The recreation is inviting and fun, except for the part that someone points out is not. The food is plentiful and delicious, except for the part that someone points out is not. The company is great, except for the part that someone points out is not.

And then, it is over. The room is scowered so that nothing is left behind. The car is packed. The seatbelts are buckled. The seatbelts are unbuckled because someone forgot to go to the bathroom. The seatbelts are buckled, again. The car is started and the course for home is set. It is now time for me to muse over the number of loads of laundry that I will need to do, the groceries that I will need to purchase for the upcoming week and, the fight that I will encounter over bedtime. These pressing issues take  my mind off of the traffic, the flat tire and, the vomit in the backseat. Sweet Success!

We have reached the end of January and unless you are exceptional your New Years resolutions are just about ready to be recycled and put on hold until next January.  After all, you hung on for a month, and it was an excellent try.  It is time to start eating sugar again, give up the gym, start yelling at your children and, forget the inherent goodness of your spouse. It is time to get back to normal. Everyone has suffered enough.

Remember acknowledging failure and resolving not to make the same mistake next year is a sign of growth and maturity. So, plan now for next year;   

RESOLVE TO……SUCCEED!!!
 
Keep those 10 pounds…
you ate the muffin, now embrace the muffin
 
Raise Your Voice…
your children need to hear what you have to say and so do your neighbors
 
Be Impatient…
people are stupid, they deserve your ranting
 
Over Schedule Yourself and Your Children…
it raises your blood pressure and makes you feel important
 
Stay Out Of The Gym…
it only brings pain and failure
 
Remain Sedentary…
someone has to watch Dumbest Stuff on Wheels
 
Be Kind and Caring and Loving…or Not…
it won’t really change the final outcome, you’ll still end up in Hell next to me
 
Stay Informed
according to my NYC sources the macaroon is the new cupcake
 

The holiday has come and gone…again.  And, as with every year, it is important not only to keep with tried and true traditions but, to attempt to start new traditions.  Though, maybe it is always best to stick with what we know and can actually successfully accomplish. But, if we did that, I would have nothing funny to write about.

A couple of Saturday’s before Christmas we got into our truck, strapped our child in the jump seat, and headed for the nearest tree farm to cut down a Christmas tree. Why, you ask, would anyone want to cut down their own Christmas tree when so many perfectly good trees have already been cut and sacrificed for the very same purpose? Well, that is a damn good question and the answer is …. I am an “experience” whore. I thought it would be important not to miss out on the opportunity of family bonding and team building which can only be gained by trekking through a tree farm in 85 degree weather and cutting down our own Christmas tree.

Next question; what did I learn?  I learned it is not necessary to partake in every experience available to us during the holidays. I learned it is best to do as your child says and “go to the “orange store” and pick one from the parking lot like everyone else.  I learned that a husband will always tell you that the tree you are sure would be perfect, is too small. I learned that by the time you settle on a tree there is a good reason why the man at the tree farm does not actually give you the ax and saw to cut it down yourself. Obviously, he has seen his share of loving families come and go both literally and figuratively.  I learned that when you finally get the tree home, it will not fit in the stand – not matter how big or small the tree or the stand is.  I learned that even if you send your spouse to the “orange store” for a new stand and, even if he comes home with two stands, one larger than the other, neither will actually work and the tree will still have to be tied to the door handle.  I learned that you can not decorate any tree, regardless of its size, in less than 3 hours and 48 minutes, especially when you are working alone. I learned that when the tree falls over it sounds like the bells those damn angels get when 1,257 of them are all getting their wings at the same time. And finally, I learned that a tree can look beautiful even if it appears to have been decorated by a passing tornado because it is always decorated with love.

As an infant my child could not express a single opinion about my actions or words.  Even though he could cry or whine,  he could not whittle me down to size with a look or a comment or an eyeball rolling marathon.  More importantly, he could not tell me that I was purposely making him unhappy, unpopular, or disturbing his delicate sence of balance between self-confidence and a future filled with insecurity and failure. It was my goddess phase.  I believed that I was a  female deity and that my reign had no expiration date.  

All of my assumptions were correct for the first 7 3/4 years of my child’s blessed existence. I said yes, I said no, and I said maybe with wild abandon; I could do no wrong. Then that fateful day came when I said, “NO!” and I was told, “You are so mean, you are totally ruining my life!” I looked up, stunned. I had achieved the pinnacle of parenthood success far sooner than the expected 15th or 16th year of my offsprings life. Since I was so early in attaining such tremendous success, I did not know how to respond. Should I shout to the heavens “my work here is done!”?  Or should I jump and whoop and skip and clap loudly and with unrestrained joy? Maybe I should pop a bottle of Dom Perignon – a bit pricey for our budget but this was an accomplishment on par with passing the Bar exam.

Instead, I remained silent for a moment. I realized that my next statement would set my child’s expectations of me for the rest of his life. I gathered my thoughts, looked down upon my little fellow with tears in my eyes, kissed his little face and said, “oh, my sweet baby boy, I shall do this to you again and again and again because I love you so much… so get used to it.” And then for the masterful cliché, I said, “One day you will thank me for this.”

The following week I recieved a certificate in the mail that said, “Congratulations, you have officially become your mother!” Obviously, someone was listening.

I was born in the generation that did not attend preschool. The mothers of my youth saw absolutely no value is paying someone to clean our hands subsequent to finger painting. If they wanted us to finger paint they sent us outside with paint and paper and directed us to the garden hose when our mission was accomplished. It was fun, it was cheap, it did not identify significant psychological issues that would require us to attend therapy and, it gave our mothers time to pee in peace.

Of course this path is completely unacceptable now.  Myself and my contemporaries send our children to preschool. My child came home with a lovely finger painted picture of a giraffe which cost me $345.00. I am not as smart as my mother.

My child is older now and I am legally required to send him to school. He has already completed kindergarten and the first grade, both of which went by uneventfully and did not point up any of my intellectual shortcomings. This year we started the second grade which has been both eventful and successful in showcasing my academic inadequacies.

In the past few months I have been told that I do not know how to count coin money, nor do I know how to properly add and subtract. I believe the exact words used were, “MOM! You do not know what you are doing!” And, he may have a point. The last I knew double-digit addition was done vertically and the 50 cent piece was bigger than the quarter. I cannot remember the last time I attempted to balance my checkbook by writing the numbers in a horizontal sequence and drawing little mountain peaks between the 10’s place and the 1’s place. Oddly enough, I also cannot recall the last time I needed to give change or make change with a half-dollar coin. Apparently, if I had to return to the second grade, I would fail…miserably.

                      When I was 22 I did not sleep on the ground,ever. As a matter of fact, when I was 34, 35, or 36, I did not sleep on the ground either. But now, at the ripe age of 47, I have started sleeping on the ground. This is what child centered parenting is all about…inconveniencing ourselves for the greater good of the child. The reward had better be spectacular.

                     With the purpose of developing greatness in our child, my husband and I do the following with minimal blood shed; pre-pack our truck to make sure everything fits – because there will be blood shed on the day of our departure if we have to leave 1/2 of our collection in the driveway; assemble the huge pile of the pre-packed items on the floor of the garage so as not to forget anything – things will surely be forgotten; make a shopping list and patronize 4 different supermarkets – leaving behind the maple syrup for the pancakes; buy enough ice to build an igloo – so that the cooler cannot be lifted into the back of the truck without significant sound effects; purchase a 6 man tent to attach to our 4 man tent to create a suite – kidding ourselves into thinking it is possible to be comfortable while sleeping on the ground; and lug wood secured from the local grocery store to the forest – this one defies explanation.