4

The Lawnmower

About a year ago, we were in the market for a new lawn mower. Our old lawn mower was fine. Nothing wrong with it. Just, you know, my husband felt that we needed a new one. I was actually happy that we were getting a new lawn mower…because the current lawn mower was gigantic and ridiculous and impossible for me to use. It looked like this:

tractor-stander-front-left

For real.

Look at that crazy thing! You don’t push it OR sit on it…you stand on the back and just sort of whir around the yard. It’s insane. You can see why I was happy to hear that we were getting a new one. (Or as happy as I could possibly be about something as boring as getting a new lawn mower.)

While my husband spent every single spare moment researching lawn mowers, I ever-so-helpfully told him that if he would just get a lawn mower that I could handle, I would be happy to mow the lawn while he was at work. I envisioned something like this:

good lawn mower

With the following features:

  1. Cup holder for my iced coffee.
  2. Comfy seat
  3. Steering wheel
  4. Four normal-looking tires

I pictured myself riding around the yard on that thing with my trusty iced coffee by my side. I was pretty sure that I could find something on Pinterest that would teach me how to make patterns in the lawn…maybe even a quick little tutorial on how to trim the bushes around the house into fun little animal shapes… I was super psyched thinking about it. (No need to tell me how lucky my husband is that he landed such a fab helpful wife. Hashtag: he hit the wife lottery.)

Oddly enough, my husband wasn’t all that keen on the idea of me taking over the lawn care. How do I know? Because he came home one day with our new lawn mower…that looks like this:

big lawn mower

What you see before you is a commercial-grade, 48″, nary a cup-holder in sight, super-colossal enormous lawn mower. Your eyes do not deceive you. This monster boasts the following features:

  1. Some sort of steering device. If you push the right handle, you go left. If you push the left handle, you go right. If you were in some sort of lawnmower emergency situation I can’t imagine your natural instinct to be anything other than to immediately push BOTH handles at the same time and go down a ditch into the woods.
  2. A rather comfortable-looking seat. With arm rests. This is the only positive thing I will say about this thing.
  3. A roll bar. Did you hear me? A. Roll. Bar. The manufacturer obviously KNOWS of the high probability of a lawnmower freak out, (as mentioned in feature #1.) The manufacturer KNOWS that there is a fairly good chance that you are going to launch yourself into the woods by mistake and flip over.
  4. An empty space where the cup holder should be.
  5. A giant set of tires.
  6. A little grouping of tiny tires that seem to serve no purpose because they float about the ground.
  7. Another set of average-sized tires that clearly have NO traction what-so-ever.

If this lawnmower doesn’t scream “Don’t touch my lawn!” I don’t know what does.

And yet…

When I told my husband that I couldn’t help him with the lawn now because the lawn mower was stupidly gigantic, he looked at me like I was crazy. He told me that I could definitely handle the lawnmower. He said that he would put me through a training session for a month, and that I could practice mowing the lawn without the blades down. (No, for real, he said that.)

As if I have an actual interest in learning how to operate this machine.

I have no such interest.

I just wanted to “help” because I thought it would be fun to drive around the yard wearing a cute hat. I don’t actually care about the lawn.

Plus, I’m fairly certain that any attempt on my part to operate this monster would just end with me being med-flighted somewhere.

Thanks, but no thanks. When it comes to caring for our lawn, I’m tapping out.

dog on mower

2

The “Present Plan”

present plan pic

 

Has anyone else signed up for the “Present Plan” at their pediatric dentist’s office? Anyone? No? No one? That makes sense, since the “Present Plan” doesn’t actually exist. Unless you ask my 7-year-old. She thinks it exists because we told her exists. We told her of a special dentist’s office where they give you an actual, wrapped gift at the end of your appointment. We told her this….and by “we” I mean my husband. Not me…him. I never would have told her something so foolish because it is ridiculous. And because I want her to be able to be okay going to the dentist without the promise of a gift. But mostly because it is ridiculous.

She is terrified of the dentist. I don’t really know why, since she hasn’t ever had a bad experience, but she is just absolutely beside herself at the thought of the going to the dentist.

My husband was all, “I can get her to go to the dentist. I can make it so she is excited to go.” And I was all like, “Yea, right. Not possible.” But sure enough, he goes to have a little chat with her and 10 minutes later she is skipping around the house talking about how excited she is to go to the dentist. And he is all smug like he has just found the answer to world peace…which he kind of has.

But I am totally dumbfounded. How has he done it? How is this possible? How different could our approaches to this situation have been that the outcome is so drastically different?

My approach: Sit down with her, put my arm around her and snuggle her close. Tell her how much I love her and how I believe in her. Explain that it is okay to be nervous, but it is important to push through that fear and do what needs to be done. Point out her strength. Talk about good oral hygiene and the future of her teeth. Explain that I would never take her anywhere that was not a safe place. Listen to her talk and validate all her feelings. Sit with her awhile, as she is now a quivering emotional mess.

My husband’s approach: Sit down with her. Tell her that we have found a special kid dentist that gives a wrapped gift to each patient after their appointment. An actual wrapped-up present with a bow on top that will be waiting for her at the front desk. Assure her that he is telling the truth. Talk about how he has heard of kids getting new purses as their wrapped gift. Listen to her talk about how excited she is about the possibility that SHE will get a new purse as her gift. Validate this excitement by telling her that it is possible that she will. Walk away, as she is now skipping throughout the house with joy.

WHAT?!

I want no part of this lie! This doesn’t feel right! This goes against what I believe in. And, yet, she isn’t afraid anymore. She is actually genuinely excited to go. Oh God. Alright, I’ll go along with it. I mean, really, what is the worst that could happen?

The worst that could happen: I forgot to buy the gift.

But why was it my job to buy the gift anyways? This whole “we found a dentist who gives presents” was his thing, not mine. He should have been the one to buy the gift, wrap the gift, and hide the gift in my car so that I could be the one to sneak it into the dentist’s office. Oh, and also, he should have been the one to have to listen to the other kids in the house grumble about how THEY wanted to go to this new dentist that gives gifts. But none of that happened and I had to somehow get a gift and wrap it up before the dentist appointment…all while she was right by my side the whole time. Impossible. Luckily my friend said that she happened to have a few brand-new Beanie Boo stuffed animals at her house and did I want her to stick one into a gift bag for me? Yay! She’ll get it to me at preschool drop off. Yay! Except that she isn’t doing drop off this morning, her husband is. So she is going to put the Beanie Boo in a gift bag with some tissue paper, give it to her husband, explain to him that he needs to give it to me…but that he has to be sort of sly about it, and then I can sneak it into my car. Where my daughter is sitting. Okay, no problem. What needs to be done is what needs to be done (and all this needs to be done to continue the “we found a dentist who gives presents” story.)

But obviously, my daughter saw the gift hiding in the front seat, because she is 7 and there was basically no way I could totally hide it.

So, I had to come up with a story to support the first absurd story: The dentist has us buy the actual gift and bring it with us. That way they know the present it something that she wants. They just deduct it from our bill at the end. (I added the part about the bill. I thought it made it more believable.) She understood. She thought it was smart of them.

Then once we got to the dentist’s office, and I was shoving the gift into my purse, I realized that she might talk about it to any other kid who was in the dentist’s waiting room.

So, I had to come up with another story to support the previous foolish stories: Don’t talk about the present to any other kids who might be in the waiting area. We signed up for the “Present Plan,” but their parents may not have. It cost extra to sign up for that plan. Their parents may have decided not to do it. We don’t want the other kids to be mad at their parents because they are not part of the “Present Plan.” She understood. She thought it was a good idea to keep quiet.

The “Present Plan”?!?! Who am I that I am trying to pitch this idiotic story to my daughter? I never wanted to get involved in this lie to begin with. Even though it worked liked a charm.

I feel like they greeted me at the dentist’s office like this:

Miss Liar

By the way, she LOVED her Beanie Boo present. She named it after the new dentist, who she also loved. She can’t wait to go back to see him. And to get another present.

Dr Bob

2

That Time That We All Tried to Get Passports…

All of my kids are going to be late to school today.

All of them.

My husband is going to be late for work, too. And I’m going to be late getting my peace and quiet, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t even care.

We are all going to be late because we are going to the post office at 9 am to hand in our passport applications. Have you ever applied for a passport? Have you ever applied for a passport for your kids? You all have to be there. Everyone. And both parents have to be there if you’re getting a passport for your kid who is under 16. Everyone needs their birth certificate. And their ugly 2”x2” passport photo (in which you are not allowed to smile.) You need a separate check for EACH person. And then another separate check for the fee to the post office.  Each person needs a separate application filled out (in black ink, with no mistakes.) It doesn’t really sound like that big of a deal…but it is. Because with me are five kids who need passports, and one husband who we thought just needed a renewal, but actually needs to apply for a whole new passport. So that is a total of 6. Six applications (written in black ink with no mistakes). Six separate checks. Plus that one for the fees. Five birth certificates. 6 ugly pictures. PLUS, everyone has to be there.

I didn’t set out for my whole family to do the passport application process at a time that would interfere with school. In fact, we went yesterday AFTER school. My husband luckily had to do a work related thing in the area so he was able to scoot over to the post office to meet us. It was planned perfectly. I had the checks. I had the birth certificates. I had the applications (except the one that I messed up on and had to re-fill out when we were in there). I had it planned out like Ocean’s Eleven. Nothing could go wrong.

Until I picked my kids up from school.

It is a shit show right from the beginning. No one is on-board. There is only one team player in the car. Just one. Well, two, if you include me. Six people in the car, and only two team players. Everyone is complaining. Everyone HAS TO pee. No one wants to go to the stupid post office, to get their stupid passports. They all start getting mad at me, like I am the one who invented the detailed and annoying passport application process. And then… then… one, by one…they start turning on each other. Next thing I know…THEY. START. FIGHTING.

In my car.

On the way to the post office.

To get the passports.

With no warning, an (OPEN) can of iced tea goes whizzing from one side of the car to the other. A retaliatory open can goes whizzing back. There is iced tea EVERYWHERE. People are diving for cover. I’m flailing my arm behind me trying to whack somebody. People are climbing over seats demanding justice. There is talk of revenge. They’ve gone mad.

It’s like Animals Gone Wild…In. My. Car.

We get to the post office and everyone tumbles out of the car (literally tumbles). My shoulder has iced tea on it. Thankfully my husband is already there, and he is now being used as a human shield. And all I can think is, “I don’t give a rat’s fat fanny what is happening right now. We are going into that damn post office, and we are getting these damn passport applications turned in TODAY.”

So, in we go.

I’m filling out the new application for the one that I had messed up. At the same time as I’m demanding that this child apologize to that child. And that that child apologize back. At the same time as I’m telling another child to stop doing cartwheels. At the same time as I’m telling another child that, yes, she can keep the elastic band that she just found on the ground. At the same time as I’m telling another child that, no, I don’t know what we are doing for dinner and could we please talk about it later.

With the application filled out, me and my iced tea soaked shoulder gather my 5 unruly children, 7 checks, 6 applications (written in black ink with no mistakes), 5 birth certificates, 1 expired passport, and 1 husband and head to the line at the counter.

Where there is a sign that reads: “Passports Monday-Friday 9-2.

It’s 3:45.

Three. Forty. Five.

We wait in the line anyways. When we get to the front I ask the person behind the desk (a young fella) if there is any way that the sign might be a joke. Or if it’s, like, totally for real.

It’s totes for real.

I want to ask him if he has kids.

I want to ask him if he knows what just went down in my car.

I want to ask him if he has any tips for getting sticky, sugary, iced tea out of all of the nooks and crannies of my car.

But I don’t. Because I don’t want to scare him.

Instead, I pack away my 7 checks, 6 applications (written in black ink with no mistakes), 5 birth certificates, 5 ugly passport photos, and 1 expired passport. I let the nice man behind the counter know that we will all be back at 9:00am sharp the next morning.

And THAT is why my 5 children will be late for school this morning. And my amazingly patient husband will be late for work. And I will be late getting to my peace and quiet.passport

7

I Don’t Know What to Make for Dinner

I would just like to start by saying that I fully  and completely understand that figuring out what to make for dinner every night shouldn’t be so difficult. I get that it is just a matter of planning and prepping. How hard is that really, when you think about it. And yet…

It. Is. So. Hard.

Why though? Why is it so hard? Why is it that I literally can NEVER think of ANYTHING to make? My sister and I talk about this all the time, and we both agree that on paper it seems easy. On paper it looks like this: On Monday we’ll have such and such, on Tuesday we’ll have whatever… And then you just figure out the ingredients that you need for each meal, and you shop accordingly, and voila! Easy. Peasy. Lemon. Squeezy.

Except it’s not.

It’s like this:
Monday ~ Meatballs. Awesome. Meatball Monday. I’m going to make that a thing. From now on, I declare Monday to be Meatball Monday. Done.

Tuesday ~ Taco Tuesday, naturally. Wait, except that then we are having ground beef two days in a row. That can’t be good. Monday should be a chicken dish. Gross. I hate touching raw chicken. But, whatever. For the good of the family, Monday is now some sort of chicken dish.

Monday ~ Some sort of chicken dish. But what? Roast chicken? No. I can’t even bear the thought of pulling that slimy bag of innards out. Chicken cutlets? That’s always a big seller at my house…but then I have to dunk the stupid chicken in egg, and dredge it in bread crumbs, and fry it on the stove. So. Much. Work. I can’t even go there. My mind is whirring! What the heck are we going to have on Mondays?

Wednesday ~ Ummm…sandwiches? No! Hot dogs. Hot dogs, or sandwiches. Or macaroni and cheese. Wednesday can be choice night, and those can be the three stellar choices. Sandwich, hot dog, mac and cheese, or starve. Wait, that is four good choices! Four! They are so lucky to have me as their mom.

Thursday ~ You have GOT to be kidding. I have to think of ANOTHER thing to make?! Okay, fine! I’ll make American Chop Suey. My husband’s favorite. Yes, another meal of ground beef. This just feels wrong somehow. Not to mention the fact that up until I met my husband I always thought American Chop Suey was some sort of chinese dish. Whatever. The problem is, this is how American Chop Suey usually goes down in my house:

Kid: “What’s for dinner?”

Me: “I’m making American Chop Suey”

Kid: “What is that?”

Me: “You know, that thing I make with the hamburger in the spaghetti sauce over pasta? Dad’s favorite dinner? Remember?”

Kid: “Oh, yea. I hate that.”

Me: “Well, then, don’t eat it.”

Kid: “Can I just have the meat after it’s cooked, but before you put it in the spaghetti sauce?”

Me: “Sure”

Other Kid: “Can I have just the meat and the spaghetti sauce but not over the pasta?”

Me: “Sure”

Another Kid: “Can I have pasta with nothing but butter and salt?”

Me: “Sure”

And Another Kid: “Can I have the pasta with the spaghetti sauce without any hamburger in it?”

Me: “Sure”

And yet Another Kid: “Can I have a peanut butter sandwich?”

Mental note, American Chop Suey is coming off the menu.

Friday ~ Pizza Friday. I love Fridays. Pizza and wine. Two great tastes that taste great together.

Saturday/Sunday ~ It’s the weekend. I feel justified in insisting that everyone fend for themselves until Monday.

And then it starts all over again.

It’s never ending! And how did I become the family chef, anyways?! Are there people out there who actually like the planning and the cooking? Do their kids eat what they make? Would they be willing to adopt me so that I, too, can eat a satisfying meal cooked with love every night?

Are there any support groups out there for clueless dinner makers like myself? If not, there should be.

“Hello, my name is Debbie, and I don’t know what to make for dinner tonight.”

 

0

This is Why We Aren’t Making Slime at My House Anymore

We had a snow day on Monday, so the kids and I decided to make slime. And we were all like:

Yea, baby!

We could only find the yellow food coloring, but we didn’t care because most of us felt strongly that slime is fun no matter what color it is. So we were all:

Yellow slime, baby!

Then we found a whole jar of purple glitter and we were all definitely like:

“Hooray for glitter!” (Because, secretly, we all felt that it was a bummer to be stuck with plain old boring yellow slime.)

So we made our slime. And it was awesome.

It looked like this:

looked-like

 

And was slimy and oozey like this:

oozed-like

 

And it was all sparkly and yellow like this:

sparkles

 

And everything was fine, until the next morning when I woke up and I was bopping around the house picking up all the random crap that was left scattered about from the night before, and I saw this:

saw-this-with-arrow

One of the bowls of glittery, yellow-y, sparkly slime.

Upside down.

On the rug.

And when I picked up the bowl, it all sort of sploshed out like this:

under-bowl2

 

So I tried to pick it up like this:

stuck-to-rug2

 

And then like this:

pull-off

 

And I even scraped at it like this:

pick-it-up

 

But it was so sticky and slimy and stuck to the rug like this (look at the all glitter embedded in the rug! Help!):

embedded-in-rug

 

And then I noticed that the yellow food coloring had dyed the rug like this.

yellow-rug

So I cleaned it up the best I could.

But my rug will never be the same.

And that is the story of  why we’re not making slime at my house anymore.

0

Childhood Roots of a Barterer

 

When I tell you that my kid is driving me crazy, and you respond by assuring me that this particularly aggravating personality trait of his “may be annoying now, but it will serve him well in the future,” it baffles me. I don’t get it. I know that at the heart of it, you are just basically trying to keep me becoming a day drinker. I know that your intentions are good. But your lie about a personality trait morphing into a fabulously coveted attribute seems to be somewhat far-fetched.

Because I ask you this: in what magical future land do you see that sauntering around, with absolutely no sense of urgency, will become a trait that is sure to be the secret to his success? HOW is it that you think I’m going to believe that when my son strolls into the office, late for the morning meeting, and then just sort of nods at his superiors like they are the dumbest most annoying fools whose presence he has ever graced, that the HR department is going to be having celebratory drinks that they were the ones who hired such a gem? Is it unrealistic to think that his explanation of “I couldn’t get my hair to come out right” and “I had nothing to wear” (even though they KNOW for a fact that he has a drawer FULL of expensive clothes that he refuses to wear) isn’t going to cut the mustard when he is an adult?

Or maybe that wasn’t the personality trait to which you were referring. Maybe you were talking about the badgering.

The badgering is going to be the death of me.

“Why? Why? Why can’t I go? But why? But why did you say no? I know you said no, but why? What is the reason? Buy why? Why? Why?”

Unless he grows up to be Tom Cruise and inexplicably finds himself in a situation where he has to badger Jack Nicolson until Jack finally admits that he did, indeed, order the Code Red on Santiago (“You’re goddamn right I did!”) …well, I just don’t see how this particularly grating personality trait will come in handy.

So, what exactly are you talking about? As far as I can see, we have confirmed that it is not his sloth-like movements that are going to be his ticket to success. And it isn’t his badgering (with the one obvious exception that I mentioned.) Certainly, you can’t be talking about his stubbornness. Certainly, you don’t expect me to believe that a child who won’t put on his coat in 20-degree weather, for no other reason than the fact that he was told to put it on, is going to transform that pain-in-the-ass stubbornness into a lucrative career. I want to see the career that lists that trait as one that is necessary for the job. “Candidate must be so stubborn that he would bite off his own nose to spite his face.”

I’ll have you know that I was just about call you out on your filthy lies. I was “this close” to telling you that you must take me for some kind of fool…when I realized which personality trait you were referring to. How I could have overlooked it is a mystery to me.

It is his bartering skills that are going to be the secret to his success. That’s what you were talking about, right?

And why not? He practices it all the time. Even just now, I yelled in to him, “You should be ready to go in ½ and hour!” and he immediately yelled back, “One hour!”

“You need to be home at 6:00.” “7:00!”

“You can watch one more show.” “Two more shows!”

“You can have one friend sleep over.” “Two friends!” “Okay, two friends, but they have to be gone by 10:00 in the morning.” “Three friends, 11:00, and it’s a deal!”

He’s going to be a barterer. A slow-moving, badger-you-to-death, stubborn-as-an-ox, extremely successful barterer.

You called it.

Nice.