A few years ago, my son, Snugs McNugget (yes, that’s his real name), walked in on me while I was using the bathroom. He was about four at the time and immediately upon seeing me on the toilet, he inquired, “Are you dropping a deuce?”
When I informed him that I was peeing, he began laughing as though I was a complete imbecile.
Snugs: You pee standing up. You poop sitting down!
Me: Honey, Mommy is a girl. Girls pee sitting down.
Snugs: Where is your penis?
Me: Mommy, doesn’t have a penis. I have a vagina.
Snugs, laughing hysterically: A bagina! What’s a bagina?
Thankfully, he lost interest shortly thereafter and I was spared the need to provide any additional detail.
Now my son is six and a Kindergartner and he’s become interested in understanding where babies come from and the anatomical differences between males and females.
Earlier in the school year, he came home from school and informed me that one of his classmates, Jacob, had seen his sisters “wagenda.”
Me: Her what?
Snugs: Her wagenda. You know, her wagenda (points to his crotch).
Me: Oh…her wagenda. I see.
Snugs: Can I see yours?
Me: No. That would be inappropriate. You should never ask a woman if you can see her wagenda. It’s a private part and remember, it’s important to respect a person’s privacy.
Snugs: I just really want to see one. Jacob said it looks like a butt. Does it look like a butt? Do girls have two butts? Wait, do you pee out of your butt?
I haven’t the slightest idea how to have these conversations.
For the most part, nobody talked to me about this stuff when I was a kid. When I asked my great-grandpa where babies came from, he told me he found me in the yard one afternoon, sitting in a buttercup. And I believed it….for years.
Later, I picked up the general basics from movies and from walking in on my mother having sex with a guy named Ron she met in rehab.
The only other bit of education I got was when my mother said, “Do you want your cooter to smell like a fish stick? No? Then keep your pants on.”
I’m fairly certain the fear of smelling like a Gordon’s fisherman was the reason I preserved my virginity far longer than most of my peers.
So, what amount of information is too much information?
What if my son goes to school and shares his knowledge with other kids, who tell their parents, who then call me and are all like, WTF!?
Honestly, it’s moments like these I feel woefully ill-equipped as a parent and a little bitter about the lack of accurate information I was given as a child.
In most situations, when I don’t know the exact right answer, I say, “We’ll find a book on the subject.”
A quick internet search proved that there are apparently a million choices. Does anyone out there have a recommendation?
Something by Dr. Seuss perhaps….There’s a Wagenda on the Agenda!
Actually, that sounds more like something Mike Pence would write and so no. Just no.
I don’t want my son to grow-up misinformed (except for the whole wagenda thing, I’m going to let that one go for a while), or embarrassed to ask questions he might have about sex. I’d prefer he ask his dad, but whatever.
I’ve convinced him that I know everything and so heavy is the head that wears the crown. I need to deliver. But first, I need book suggestions….
“To be honest, I’m just winging it. Life, motherhood, my eyeliner. Everything.” ~Unknown
Along with just about every other suburban mom, I worship regularly at the church of Target.
My Target recently went through a small renovation to make way for the implementation of even more self-checkout aisles.
Personally, I hate self-checkout. If I have to go into the store, do all the shopping and then do all the work of scanning and bagging my purchases, I feel like I should be rewarded with a discount for having saved the business the cost of an hourly associate.
But today, I needed to make an expedited Target run for three specific things. For me, an expedited run means that I quickly grab the things I need and then swing by Bullseye’s Playground. Because c’mon….I don’t have that much self-control.
The section had been largely picked through and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find anything to add to my basket, so I headed toward the check-out, feeling a little disappointed, but then deciding that my cost savings justified a stop at Starbucks on the way out the door. YES!
My Target has something like 127 check-out lanes, but rarely do they open more than two. Most of the time, I don’t care, because there is ample reading material and a wide snack and beverage selection to keep me occupied while I wait.
But today, I just didn’t have the time. I decided I would have to proceed with self-checkout. I approached the register and began following the instructions on the screen. Then, my eyes shifted upward and I caught sight of something so horrifying, I almost dropped dead.
It took me a second to realize that the swamp monster staring back at me, was MYSELF; reflected back at me through the over-sized security monitor Target found necessary to perch above each register in self-checkout.
I get it Target, it’s a crime prevention thing. I know that when I pull into the parking lot at this particular Target and spot a KIA parked among the Volvo’s, luxury SUV’s and mini-vans, I hold my purse a little tighter and sometimes jog into the store.
And I read the police blotter for this area. I know what kind of community we live in. All those damned by-law violators and that kid who keeps having pizza’s delivered to his neighbor as a prank….total degenerates.
So, I get it. I really do.
However, why is it necessary for me to have to see myself, on a screen the size of a small TV, and without some kind of selfie filter to soften the blow?
Do you not know your target audience, Target? What mom wants to see the enormous bags under her eyes, in HD?
And I swear, my hair looked far less greasy when I left the house this morning, than it looked on your shiny screen, so do you think you could tone down the brightness a tad?
Also, according to my mirror at home, I look a lot slimmer in the “I Love Twinkies” t-shirt I’m wearing today. Which, by the way, I purchased at your store back in 2005 if that gives you any indication as to how deeply my loyalties lie….so, please, consider adjusting the camera to a more flattering angle.
Thanks to your cruelty, I felt like I had to return the Cadbury Cream Egg I planned to eat for lunch. Now I’ll just go hungry and you lost a sale. And good-luck finding that egg, because I most definitely didn’t put it back where I found it.
Lastly, do you know what always makes a person look better? A black and white image. I don’t think you need to be able to see the exact shade of my freckles (fine….age spots) in so much vibrant color.
Honestly, Target, I’m not happy. But, we both know I can’t quit you.
I’ll be back….probably later today, because I saw you were switching out the seasonal items in Bullseye’s Playground, but this is officially your first strike.
5,999,999,999 more and I’ll start shopping Walmart.
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ~Charles M. Shulz
So, my son is now a first grade and I’ve learned that a lot has changed since I made my way through the public school system.
I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s when people didn’t care all that much about your feelings, so this whole, everybody get’s a Valentine thing is new to me.
When I was in elementary school, I loved Valentine’s Day. I spent days preparing my tacky Valentine’s box with construction paper hearts, feathers, stickers and paper doilies.
On Valentine’s Day, we placed our boxes on our desks and walked around our classroom depositing Valentines and treats into the boxes of our friends and our enemies? Well, they could go right on ahead and choke on a box of those chalky conversation hearts for all we cared.
Personally, I never gave a Valentine to a kid named Olin who had a harelip. Not because of the harelip, but because he cut a chunk out of my hair in Kindergarten and I never let go of a grudge.
I also refused to deposit a Valentine into the box of a kid named Bobby, who used to pick his nose and wipe it on all the girls. To this day, anyone with the name Bobby makes me want to vomit.
I spent years campaigning to blacklist a girl named Roberta, who beat me up, EVERY DAY, on the playground in second grade. That is, until I told my gramma, who arrived at the school one afternoon during dismissal and confronted Roberta using a variety of clever obscenities none of us really understood, but delighted in repeating whenever possible.
Example: “If you ever lay a finger on my granddaughter again you hussy, I will kick your ass so far up around your neck, you’ll have to spread your butt cheeks to sneeze!”
Not only could we exclude our classmates, but because nobody actually looked at the Valentine’s we were passing out, we were free to send hate mail too.
I got a few and I gave a few.
In middle school, we gave up the Valentine boxes and instead we got to purchase candy heart lollipops for fifty-cents in the cafeteria, to be delivered, with a note, to anyone we chose.
Throughout the week of Valentine’s Day, our classes would be disrupted by a knock at the door and the candy courier would walk in and announce who the lucky recipient was. Which of course made the rest of us feel like ugly, unlovable ducklings.
My friends and I sent candy hearts to one another, but mostly I sent them to myself and claimed they were from a secret admirer. I wanted the candy and I wanted to make the other girls jealous.
I also sent one to my seventh grade science teacher, because he was smokin’ hot for a middle-aged science teacher and I hoped to woo him away from his wife and kids, apparently.
In high school, candy hearts were replaced with single stem roses. The concept played out the same way. The roses were purchased for a dollar and delivered throughout the school day. Tables were set up before school, in the hallways between classes and during lunch, allowing ample opportunity for rose purchases.
Girls with boyfriends ended the school day with a dozen roses by final bell. Girls without boyfriends told everyone it was because those girls put out….because it was really the only way to save face when walking through the dismissal crowd without a single rose.
Honestly, all of it sucked. There were years in elementary school when my friends and I got into huge fights over Barbies and who got to be the teacher when we played school. We teamed up against one another and if Valentine’s Day happened to fall during a rumble, things could get ugly.
“Nobody give a Valentine to Laura….she’s bossy and she’s got a knock off Cabbage Patch.”
In middle school and high school, the number of candy heart lollipops and roses you received were symbols of how popular and well liked you were compared to others. Clearly, there was something wrong with you if NOBODY thought you worthy of fifty-cents or a dollar.
So, I think it’s better that kids these days are expected to spread kindness equally on Valentine’s Day.
They’ll have plenty of time as adults to be biter and cynical when the day ends without a bouquet and takeout for one.
“I would rather die than let my kid eat Cup-a-Soup.” ~Gwyneth Paltrow
I admit it.
Before I had a kid, I was 100% one of those judgey, know-it-all jerks who made grand proclamations about all the things I’d never do when I became a parent.
Which was pretty bold considering that, for years, I’d known nothing about raising children. Like, literally nothing.
Was it acceptable to put Kool-Aid into a baby bottle?
Did you wait to change a child’s diaper until it had reached maximum capacity? I mean, diapers are expensive and if you can make a 24 pack last 24 days, that’s practicing good economics….no?
And, it’s not that big a deal to leave a toddler in the car if you’re just running into K-Mart for ONE thing, right? So long as the kid is strapped down somewhere and unable to reach the lit cigarette resting in the cars ashtray?
What can I say? I didn’t have the best maternal example.
It wasn’t until books and television taught me that I was basically a degenerate, that I began to form loftier opinions about things.
The police never showed up at the Seaver residence because Maggie was in the backyard with an ax hacking up the lawn furniture after a fight with Dr. Seaver.
Mrs. Walsh, of Beverly Hills 90210 never hissed at Brenda, “I am going to kick your ass so far up around your neck, you’ll have to spread your butt cheeks to sneeze!”
And not one of those chick’s from the Babysitter’s Club, had to take their earnings and immediately spend it all on candy at a sports bar/grocery store called Smokies before their mother could steal their wages.
So, it’s really thanks to the likes of the Tanners, the Camden’s, The Huxtables, Mr. Belvedere and Beverly Clearly, that I became self-righteous AF.
10 Things I Swore I Would Never Do When I Became A Parent
1. Let my kid eat a hot dog
Fast forward six years:
Me: Hey Snugs, want to have a hot dog and mac & cheese for dinner?
Snugs: I had that yesterday!
Me: I know, but it’s your favorite!
2. Leave the house in my pajama’s
Post Kids: Ok, I’ll never leave the house in my PJ’s without a bra.
A few more years post kids: Well, if I’m staying in the car and just going through the teacher assist drop-off line, it’s not like anyone will notice I’m not wearing a bra.
3. Let my kid buy school lunch
Me….Every Day: Oooh, buddy! French toast sticks are on the menu at school today and tomorrow, it’s nachos!
4. Allow screen time
A hot minute after giving birth: Get ready! To Wiggle!
5. Forego my personal hygiene
Post Parenthood Google Search History:
How many days in a row can you use dry shampoo?
How many days in a row can a person go without showering before the smell is too great to mask.
Is Listerine an acceptable alternative to teeth brushing?
6. Give-up my corporate career for family
My employer (a year ago): You haven’t made a career move in five years and we’re going to eliminate your current position. You’ll need to either move up, or move out.
Me: Cool, should I go ahead and start packing now?
I know I’m supposed to be leaning-in and pulling up a seat the table and bursting through the glass ceiling and blah, blah, blah, but I was over my career. OVER IT.
I didn’t want to spend my time traveling all the over the place, working insane hours, while someone else raised my kid, all for the privilege of helping to stuff the already bulky pockets of the executives and shareholders of corporate America.
I decided I didn’t want to pull up a seat their table. I decided to build my own table. I’m sorry if this isn’t the choice I was supposed to make.
Actually, no. I’m not sorry.
7. Participate in the Elf on the Shelf
Before my son was born, I considered the tradition to be an unnecessarily stressful addition to parenting and the holiday season.
Actually, I think I was just really jealous that I hadn’t thought of that bajillion-dollar idea myself.
After my son was born, I jumped right onto the Elf on the Shelf bandwagon and I’m not getting off anytime soon.
Quite frankly, I participate in the tradition for one person and one person only….and that person is me.
My childhood had all the magic of life at Spahn Ranch with the Manson family, so it makes me feel good to sprinkle my son’s youth with wonderment.
Also, that little Sprite gives me a whole month off from parenting….and I’m not going to lie, I can use the break….especially during the holiday season.
8. Formula Feed
To be clear, it never crossed my mind to judge another mother for the way she chose to feed her kid. If it hadn’t been for Hamburger Helper, Chef-Boyardee and Tang, I might not have survived my own infancy.
So, fed is best, as far as I’m concerned.
But I had a lot of guilt about being diagnosed with cancer while I was pregnant and so I felt like if I couldn’t breastfeed, I would essentially be a worse mother than Susan Smith.
Mom guilt. Am I right?
I wanted to breastfeed, but I couldn’t.
To make a long story short, my son was born premature, I had to finish chemotherapy and it wasn’t safe for my son to breastfeed while I was pumped full of R-CHOP.
I tried to “pump and dump,” but my body was all, “F-You. I’m not cooperating.”
Since starvation is, in fact, the worst of all options, I decided that what was best for my son, was formula. And what was best for me, was to stop torturing myself.
PS….to that lady from the online La Leche support group I reached out to for advice on stimulating my milk supply, the lady who told me I should really consider stopping cancer treatment because, Breast is Best!
I still know who you are. My social media stalking skills are on point and oh honey….time has not been good to you.
9. Subscribe to a parenting philosophy
Me, today: I’m the I Don’t Give a F*ck Mom.
The IDGAF mom is the one who can’t even commit to the long term implications of a bumper sticker, let alone a parenting philosophy.
She’s the one who sometimes feels like she’s got her shit together and other times, get’s stuck in her sports bra.
The mom who roots for other mom’s, (except that bitch from the La Leche support group….I never let go of a valid grudge), because she knows that parenting isn’t actually a competition.
We’re all just doing the best we can to roll with the punches of parenting and life and in the end, we all want the same thing. Nice kids who are healthy and happy and who go on to be productive and kind members of society. That’s the only trophy we’re going to get.
10. Allow my kid to throw a tantrum in public
I really thought I would have this one down. I assumed that I was the adult, the one in charge. I thought my firm, but loving approach to child rearing would be thing that would separate me from the mom with the toddler sprawled out and screaming on the floor at Target.
I thought that right up until the time my son was about three and I told him it was time to leave Chuck E. Cheese and he looked at me and said, “Over my dead body.”
Ok, so he didn’t actually say that, but trust me, his wails and feet stamping and fist pounding on the Skee Ball machine made it clear that I could suck it.
So, now I just like to tell myself that he’s strong willed and that strong willed children become adults who change the world. I high five myself and hope that he’s at least a good dictator someday.
Then, I take another helping of humble pie with a side of crow, pull up my yoga pants and tell myself that, at the very least, I’m still way better than that La Leche lady.
“Opinions are like butt-holes. Everybody has one.” ~Unknown, but I wish it was me
As a mother, I’ve grown accustomed to being on the receiving end of unsolicited parenting advice.
Just the other day, while in the toothpaste aisle at Target, I was accosted by a woman who approached and said, “You shouldn’t choose a toothpaste that contains aluminum. Unless you want your kid to have Alzheimers.”
How do you even respond to that?
When I was pregnant, I was diagnosed with cancer at twenty-two weeks. Once, while shopping, a woman approached and asked, “Don’t you think you should have been more responsible?”
Throughout my entire illness, I never had a problem sharing my story with curious strangers. I spent many minutes in check-out aisles and at my doctor’s appointments, chatting it up with random, but kind, strangers, about my diagnosis and how it all came to be.
But this woman?
She was a twat-waffle.
So, I didn’t feel bad when I suggested that she should hop into her douche canoe and row, row, row the boat far away from me….before I did actually make an irresponsible decision.
After I gave birth, I wasn’t able to breast-feed. My son was born one week before my last chemo cycle. Although the medications were unable to cross through the placenta while my son was safe and snug inside my womb, they could pass through my breast milk and that wasn’t safe for him.
In the beginning, I tried to “pump and dump,” which I would need to do for a minimum of six weeks after my last chemo cycle, in order to flush out all the poisons.
I tried. I really, really did.
I followed every bit of advice from the hospitals lactation consultants. But nothing worked.
My body had been through a lot and it seemed to draw the line at producing breast milk. I was never able to produce more than about a teaspoons worth, which, admittedly, made me feel like a horrible mother.
As a last ditch effort, I reached out to a La Leche Group I found online. Now, I’m sure that if you are a regular woman, who is struggling to breast feed and looking for advice, that these groups are helpful. In my case, not so much.
I explained my situation and for the most part, I got back the same advice the lactation consultants had given me. In a few cases, some of the women essentially said, “I’ve got nothing, I’m sorry.”
But then, one woman decided to offer me this piece of sage advice. “You should stop your treatments so you can breastfeed. It’s really the most important thing you can do for your baby.”
“Um….like, more important than being alive? Bitch.”
That’s all said. I might have added in a GFU.
Ok, I did definitely add it in, because who says that!?
And honestly, my experiences with breast-feeding shame didn’t end there. I found a super expensive, organic formula that made me feel a little bit better about my inability to feed my baby from my own body and I’m not even kidding, but nine times out of ten, when I was at the store purchasing his food, a woman would tell me that breast milk was best.
And you know what? I agree! It is THE BEST. I get it.
But, we can’t all do it and for some, we don’t all want to do it and that’s OK too. It really is. Because you know what’s second best to breast? Fed.
A few years ago, while my son played at an indoor playground, a man asked me, “Aren’t you afraid that letting your son wear a pink shirt will make him gay?”
He asked, as though being gay was a bad thing.
As if I would be all bent out of shape at the prospect of being the number one woman in my son’s life….forever.
As if a child’s preference in color, is indicative of his sexuality.
But, I suppose when you can still recall the smell of the air from the bough of the Mayflower, you can sort of be forgiven for your ignorance.
I am by no means a perfect parent. There are days I think I’m nailing it and there are days when I wish that life allowed a control z function, so that I could have a do-over….or five.
I appreciate and even love, all those Parenting Blogs that talk honestly about the trials and tribulations of raising children. It’s nice to find a community of like-minded parents. But the second they hop on a sponsored soap box and start using words like “should” and “never.” They’ve lost me.
Because, I’m sorry, Karen, you don’t know squat….unless you have a PH.D in child-rearing, in which case, what you know is still debatable. Parenting, like everything else, is constantly evolving.
My generation is the first to raise children in the age of social media. And I think a byproduct of that, is that we’ve lost a bit of our self-confidence and our willingness to trust our gut and our instincts as parents.
It’s so easy to compare ourselves to what other families are doing. All we have to do, is open up our computers, or our phones and we are immediately transported into the lives of families all over the world, which brings a whole new meaning to the term, “Keeping up with the Joneses.”
But the truth is, we are all just winging it and hoping we get it right.
Personally, I vaccinate, because Polio seems like a real bitch.
I don’t spank my child, because I got my ass kicked as a kid and from that, I learned only one thing. That I don’t want to hit my child.
Depending on the circumstances, I’m a helicopter parent. Other times, I’m that mom, sitting in the corner, reading a book.
Some days, I make homemade, from scratch, wholly organic meals and other days we go through the drive-thru at McDonald’s.
I allow screen time, almost every day. Some days, it’s no more than hour. Other days, whatever.
I am at times, authoritative and strict and other times, weak and super permissive. Most of the time, I’m weak and super permissive.
I’m a big believer in the importance of self-care; for moms and dads. And sometimes, I prioritize myself over everyone else. And no, I don’t feel guilty about it.
My house is obsessively clean and organized. Because my brain needs it to be that way and I have no problem doing all the work. In fact, I LIKE it.
I have been a corporate career having mom and a stay-at-home mom. Both are hard.
Sometimes, I let my son win and other times, I wipe the floor with him.
And I don’t care what kind of mom the internet, or the media tells me I should be.
I can’t force him into a specific parenting philosophy. I know this, because I have actually tried. But I don’t think he came out of the womb a blank slate. He was already a person. Predisposed, I guess, to certain personality traits and needs that would and do influence his interests.
So I only care about being the kind of parent my child needs me to be. And I’m sure I don’t always get it right, but I trust myself to get it mostly right. Because no one knows him and loves him like I do and nobody ever could.
“It has stars in its eyes and loose teeth in its mouth.” ~A First Grade Class, Author Unknown
Over the weekend, my son, Snugs McNugget (yes, that’s his real name), lost his first tooth.
It had been wiggly for weeks, but Snugs had been hoping it would remain in his mouth until at least next year.
He’s a bit squeamish when it comes to things like blood and squished grapes on the floor of the grocery store, so he’d convinced himself that if he could just get one more year of life under his belt, he’d be ready for the loss of a tooth.
But it was not to be. The tooth came out while he was brushing his teeth before bed. Fortunately, there was very little blood and the only thing dramatic about the event was me, crying myself to sleep over it.
This isn’t about my inability to let go of my baby though. It’s about the tooth fairy, who, if you think about it, is shady AF.
After Snugs’ tiny tooth had been salvaged from the sink, his thoughts went immediately to the tooth fairy.
“Do we just put the tooth right under my pillow for her?” Snugs asked, without the slightest bit of trepidation. “Or, do we have to put it in something?”
“I think we can just set it here, on the nightstand for her.” I told him.
“But it’s supposed to go under my pillow” he said, clearly worried that by not following protocol, the tooth fairy might not come.
In that moment, it sort of dawned on me how creepy the whole tooth fairy thing is.
Here was my son, six-years old, afraid of monsters who could be lurking in his closet, but he had no qualms, ZERO, about leaving a tooth under his pillow, for a strange fairy who would be coming into our house in the middle of the night to take it away.
A few months ago, while playing with one of his cousins, I found out that Snugs had watched an episode of Walk the Prank, a show on Disney XD, in which a group of kids pull pranks on random strangers. The episode he saw included a skit called The Pig Man.
Here’s the quick synopsis: An unsuspecting babysitter is reading a fictitious bedtime story called, IT Hides Under the Bed, about the legend of the Pig Man, to her young charge.
As she progresses through the book, they begin to hear some scary noises, the radio turns on unexpectedly and eventually, the Pig Man makes his entrance from underneath the bed.
The babysitter bolts from the room like her ass is on fire, leaving the kid to fend for himself, which is 100% what I would have done too.
For weeks after seeing the show, my son was terrified that the Pig Man was lurking underneath his bed. We had to check and recheck at bedtime and the slightest nighttime noise would send him flying from his bed and into ours.
But a fairy, who flits into bedrooms and slides her hand underneath the pillows of sleeping children in order to purchase their teeth? Well, that’s just fine and dandy.
My son is a really smart kid. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my kid. For a six-year-old, he asks incredibly relevant and probing questions about politics, religion, history, books, music and people. He’s a learner and an observer.
And yet, not once did he ask,“What will the tooth fairy do with my teeth? Why would anyone want a collection of human baby teeth?”
He also had no interest in knowing what she might look like. He knows what Santa and the Easter Bunny look like and neither of them are coming into his bedroom in the middle the night. So I thought, surely he will want to know what a tooth scavenging fairy looks like.
I wasn’t really prepared with a description anyway.
But of course, I was a kid once too. When I learned that my teeth could be exchanged for cash, which back then, jingled instead of folded, I couldn’t yank my teeth out fast enough and I didn’t give a flying molar about any of the details either.
Later, when I discovered mine and my siblings old teeth in one of my mother’s dresser drawers, I was horrified, but I didn’t immediately suspect her as the tooth fairy. I just wondered what had happened with the rest of the body.
In the end, I convinced Snugs his tooth would be just fine on his nightstand where it could be easily plucked up. “I think the tooth fairy will appreciate the courtesy,” I told him.
Snugs awoke the next morning, $10 richer (the tooth fairy didn’t have any change) and still not remotely concerned, or curious about the stranger who had left it for him.
Maybe, despite it all, it’s that special brand of believing, reserved only for children, that restricts their minds to the whimsy of it all. How sweet it is to be little.