2

Don’t Fart in a Restaurant

manners_cartoon

My kids need to learn about proper restaurant etiquette. I’m not talking about fork and knife placement, even though that is super important. Sort of. Well, I’m sure it might be important someday. Just not today. Today it’s more about teaching them the basics. Things that I THOUGHT were all pretty obvious and didn’t need to be taught. Things that other people’s kids seem to already know. I’m talking about the nitty-gritty, raw basics of human behavior…as it relates to restaurant conduct.

Let’s begin

  1. Your napkin is not a dew rag. Don’t tie it around your head and then pretend to be all gangsta. Just don’t. The napkin goes on your lap. If you can’t remember to put it there (because you are too busy kicking your brother under the table) then just leave it on the table. No dew rags. It also shouldn’t be tied around your face like you are a bank robber from the old west, as this can only lead to some poorly timed role-playing. Which can only lead to us getting kicked out of the restaurant. I get it. I do. If I had a napkin tied around my face I would also be compelled to try to tip the table over and hide behind it while I fake-gun battled the bad guys. Which is why I don’t tie napkins around my face. At least not in public.
  2. Your feet on the table is also something that is universally frowned upon. There is no restaurant, in any town, in any part of the world that accepts that atrocious act. Yes, I know you are just trying to show me that your second toe is taller than your big toe. But now is not the time, and the table is not the place. If you are going to make a huge scene then I will agree to, very discreetly, look at your freakish toes UNDER the table. But if anyone notices I’m going to have to pretend that we are not related and that you are just some strange kid I saw loitering outside the restaurant who needed a good meal. You cool with that? And to think, I was just about to teach you about keeping your elbows off the table. I can see that we are nowhere near ready for that lesson.
  3. You have an inside voice. Yes, I’m aware that you aren’t necessarily familiar with what that sounds like because we basically never use it at our house. BUT you have it. And if you dig waaaay deep down you can probably find it. It’s most likely tucked away between the “how we talk when we don’t want Mom to hear what we are saying” voice, and the “how we talk when we want to annoy each other” voice. Wedged right in that little space you will probably find the “how we talk in a restaurant so the table next to us can’t hear us talking about how we once ate our boogers” voice.
  4. A restaurant is a place where you go to eat so you can enjoy a meal that someone else cleans up. Well, at least that is how I describe it. You probably describe it as a place where someone cooks you food that you like, that you requested, and that is nice and warm. Either way, a restaurant is not your own personal comedy stage. It’s not open mic night at Bertucci’s. The other diner’s may not be as impressed with your particular brand of physical comedy. Pretending to walk into the table and then collapse to the floor in convulsions is NOT what we do at a restaurant. We sit there and pretend to be normal. You can have a fake seizure later in the car on the ride home. Where we can properly yell at you to cut the crap.
  5. Even though we aren’t talking about fork placement, or salad fork vs. dinner fork, I WOULD like to address the issue of the fork… in that I need you to use it. Mac and cheese is not finger food. Spaghetti is not to be eaten straight from the bowl like you are a dog. Your finger is not an appropriate way to get mashed potatoes from the plate to your mouth. You have a fork. Use it.
  6. But don’t use the knife. In fact, just give me all the knives the minute we sit down. The last thing I need is a “sword fight” breaking out and knocking over my glass of wine.
  7. You may visit the bathroom only once while we are out to dinner. ONCE. Not five times. Not one after the other. One time, as a group, walking quietly. And I’m only agreeing to take you that one time because you are holding yourself and starting to make a scene. You clearly have to go pretty badly so I’m willing to interrupt my meal to take you. That’s how I roll. But I gotta tell you, when we get to the loo you better run to the stall with the same urgency that you had while jumping up and down at the table. None of this leisurely walking all around the bathroom looking at the paper towel holder and exclaiming in delight over their choice of decor.
  8. Farting. Farting in a restaurant is right up there with shouting “fire” in a crowded theater. It’s not technically illegal, but it should be. Even if you forget everything else on this list, even if you break every single rule of restaurant etiquette, even if everything I’ve tried to teach you goes in one ear and out the other…I won’t care as long as you hold in your fart until after dinner. If you can do that, I will consider myself successful.
4

Let’s Fight

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I am happy to report that, after much careful (forced) observation this summer, I have come to the conclusion that there is not, and most likely never will be, any limit to the things that my kids will fight about. No limit. None. Phew, right?!  I mean, for a second you may have been thinking,  “What if they run out of things to argue about?” So you will sleep easy as you realize that their ability to bicker about anything and everything is limitless.

They will literally fight about anything.

Even a box of munchkins that I so lovingly bought for them as we were driving somewhere the other day. I can’t even remember where we were going, I’m so traumatized. But they all wanted munchkins so I bought a big box for them. (I know, awesome, right?) Then I told them to pass the box around, take the munchkins they wanted, and then pass the box back up. Easy. Except, not. I handed the box back into enemy territory, and immediately I realized my mistake. The one who got the box became the “one in charge of the box.” Pass it around? No chance. He was just going to hold onto the box and hand out the munchkins to each person with his (and I quote) dirty, disgusting hands. Oh, hell to the no. Chaos erupts. People start flinging themselves bodily over the back of seats in an attempt to pick their own munchkins out of the box (with their own dirty, disgusting hands). There’s screaming. There’s fighting. They are going for blood. When they FINALLY each have their own munchkins in their own hands, and they FINALLY are all sitting back in their seats, and they FINALLY have stopped threatening to lock each other out of the house when we get home… the 6-year-old discovers that in the scuffle somehow some powdered sugar has gotten on her glazed munchkin. I thought this would be cause for celebration (it is in my book) but it is only cause for a new, an quite impassioned, fight. Round 2 here we go.

The pet store can also cause an all out war. First, it should be noted that we don’t have a pet. We went to the pet store because some of the kids wanted to see the tarantulas. Cool. Whatevs. At this point in the summer I’m just trying to kill time anyways, so if you want to go to the pet store to see the tarantulas and the disgusting ferrets I’m all for it. What I’m not all for is when you get into a screaming match in the store because one of you says that she wants to get a tarantula as a pet someday. No, not just WANTS to get it, is GOING to get it. Somehow, and for some reason, in the mind of a 6-year-old when a 4-year-old says she is going to get a tarantula as a pet that makes it real. It’s really going to happen. Like, right now. And, as a 6-year-old, you have to stop this from happening in anyway possible. If that means going freaking nuts in the pet store, then so be it. And the 4-year-old, who loves a good challenge, is going to go right back at you to prove to you and the world that yes, she is, in fact, getting a tarantula as a pet. And soon.

The fights over Minecraft can get intense. My kids have set the computers up on the kitchen table like it is command central. Then they all log onto Minecraft and, I guess, can all go into the same world or something. I have no idea. All I know is that they build stuff. And they make levers and buttons, and there are cows and villagers, and once one of them made a roller coaster. Lots of times, they can co-exsist in these lands peacefully. But, apparently when you are in the same land together you can go into each others houses. And visit each others carefully built master pieces. And you can, if you are in the mood to drive your brother insane, knock each others stuff down. And steal each others treasures.  And, oh my GOD, now they are fighting virtually. Who knew that some day I would be standing in my kitchen screaming at them to “put the diamonds back into the chest that you stole them out of!” It’s completely absurd.

Its ALL completely absurd.

All of it.

Including, but not limited to:

  • Fights about who gets to open the door at Barnes & Nobles (the world’ heaviest doors)
  • Who gets sunscreen put on first when we get to the beach
  • Who stepped on your foot “by mistake”
  • Who gets to put the chocolate chips in the batter when you’re all making cookies
  • It’s also fun to fight about how someone kicked you in the head when they were climbing into the backseat (under duress, because it was NOT their turn to sit in the way back)
  • And about who gets to use the “good” cup (we have a good cup?) for their chocolate milk
  • The TV show to watch
  • The volume of said TV show
  • Who unplugged someone’s charger and plugged their own electronic into that outlet (because we only have one outlet in the house I guess)
  • Fights about someone sneezing on you (this is actually a valid fight)
  • Someone splashing water on you in the tub
  • Someone hogging the coveted goggles at the pool
  • Fights about who gets to use the only working xbox controller left in the house
  • Accusations about who drank the last of the milk
  • And who left the caps off the markers and dried them all up
  • Fights about anything and everything…and absolutely nothing at all.

Which is why I am in favor of year-round boarding school. Preferably far away. With no vacations.

2

Jumping the Shark

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Okay, it’s official. I’m calling it, right here, right now. The Summer of 2015 has officially jumped the shark.

I’m not the only one who is dying a slow death at this point in the summer…am I? Because it kind of seems, from looking at your Facebook pages, that many of you are actually still enjoying this endless hell. Some of you are still posting pictures of your spectacularly fun adventures. And, if my eyes don’t deceive me, there is actual photographic evidence of your children smiling and getting along. There aren’t ANY pictures of them bickering. None at all.  According to Facebook you’re having the time of your life. You’re all like, “hashtag lovin summah vacay,” and I’m all, “hashtag will this madness never end.”

I don’t know how you’re managing to do what you’re doing over there…But over here we have become the Fonz.

Fonzie.

Arthur freakin’ Fonzerelli.

This summer has turned into Fonzie, wearing a cool leather jacket, a weird yellow life preserver, and being pulled behind a boat on a pair of water skis…

…as he jumped the shark, and officially signaled the end of all that was good.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the July portion of summer was even all that great. It’s just that for those first few weeks of summer I was riding the emotional high of not having to pack lunches and usher hostile, fake-sick children out the door every morning.  I internally celebrated that freedom with such gusto that for an entire, oh I don’t know, seven days, I just basked in the delight of our new, lavish, unscheduled lifestyle. Around the end of the second week I started to come down from my high…and by the end of week three I had fully crashed. The days were long and endless. And hot. But still, you know, whatever. It was summer so it still sort of felt better than school.

And then it didn’t.

I’m not sure of the exact moment when we jumped the shark over here. To give you a general time frame, I would have to say that it was sometime AFTER my car started to smell like sour milk, but BEFORE my 4-year-old started singing the Fuck You Thunder Song from Ted. Somewhere right around there. A simple 4-year-old flip of the bird and time came screeching to a halt. And now I still have the entire rest of the MONTH to get through. Practically an entire month of “What are we doing today? I’m bored! What day is it? There’s no food in this house. What time is Dad going to be home? Hey, mom, watch me! What are we doing tomorrow? Can we have a sleep over?”

Suddenly making lunches, packing backpacks, signing permission slips, and fighting about homework doesn’t seem so bad. It it actually feels like it would be sort of dreamy. Sort of like that magical feeling when Fonzie kicks the side of the jukebox and a Pinkie Tuscadero song comes on. Like a little piece heaven.

So Summer 2015 and “sit on it.” I’m so over it.

Hashtag bring on the big yellow school bus.

fonz_approved

2

My Own Race to Escape

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We gotta get outta this place…if it’s the last thing we ever do…

So, there’s a new show out on the Science Channel. It’s called Race to Escape. It’s about these teams that are locked in a room and they need to solve different puzzles and challenges in order to escape the room and be free. Looked awesome, so I DVR’d it. And I watched it. And as I was watching it I thought, huh… I could do that. In fact, I DO do that. Everytime my husband and I get a babysitter and go out on a date I have to solve problems and beat challenges in order to get out of the house. It’s my very own little version of Race to Escape.

Observe:

Epic Challenge #1 ~ What to feed the kids for dinner. This is a doozy. Is it considered child endangerment if I give them pizza for dinner AGAIN? It might be. Plus, lately when I call the pizza place I don’t even have to give them my name, I just place my order and they say, “Is there anything else, Mrs. Butters?” Eeeeks. That’s a bad sign. Okay, pizza is out. Head to the freezer…why are there 3 different bags of chicken nuggets all with only 4 nuggets left in each bag? Do frozen nuggets go bad? I can’t tell the bags apart: which one is from last week and which one is from three weeks ago? I don’t know. Can’t risk it. Abort the chicken nugget for dinner plan. On to the cabinet. Why do we always plan to go out on the night before shopping day? There is literally nothing to eat in this house. Let’s see, I have a couple of half empty boxes of pasta…different types, all with different cook times. But if I can strategically put the rotini in first, followed by the bowties a minute later, followed by the elbow macaroni 2 minutes later I should be able to squeak out a scrumptious meal of random pasta with butter. Sweet! First challenge completed. One step closer to escape.

Epic Challenge #2 ~ The house is a mess. Like, trashed. Ugh, these damn kids! No time to read them the riot act, and certainly no time to get them to help pick up. Way faster to just do it myself and yell at them all tomorrow about being slobs. Now let’s see…what is going to make the biggest impact with the least amount of effort here? Dishes first, for sure. It’s amazing how quickly the dishes pile up when you don’t do them for two days. I don’t actually know how there could be so many dirty dishes in the sink seeing as how, like I said, the cupboards are bare and we’ve been eating pizza lately like our lives depend on it. Neither here nor there at this point. Dishes done. Time to start throwing random crap into a basket and shoving it in the corner to be dealt with tomorrow. Oddly there is already a basket full of junk in the corner from when we went out last week. Ooookay. Make a mental note to wake up early tomorrow to go through both baskets of crap and put things in their rightful spots. Time to vacuum. It’s important to note that not long ago my husband purchased a vacuum that you wear on your back. A wearable vacuum. Yup. So vacuuming isn’t just a matter of getting the Hoover out of the closet, it is a matter of strapping a jet pack onto my back and then walking around the house like I’m about to launch off into space. It’s just weird. Vacuuming done. Next, spray a little lemon Pledge around to give the illusion of a dusted house…and DONE! Challenge #2, was no match for me.

Epic Challenge #3 ~ I have nothing to wear. Nothing is clean. Well, scratch that…nothing of MINE is clean. How did I forget to do a load of my own clothes this morning? I meant to make that a priority! Oh wait, I remember now: last night one of them peed the bed so I had to work sheets and blankets into the laundry rotation this morning. Pee sheets trump dirty clothes in the laundry game. Damn it. Okay, don’t panic. I may not have clean clothes but I do have a bunch of dirty clothes. All I need to do is piece together an outfit using the LEAST dirty clothes, spot clean them, spray them with Febreze and launch them into the dryer. Voila! Crisis averted. Challenge #3 was hardly a challenge at all. BAM! One more challenge and I am outta here!

Epic Challenge #4 ~ And so it always comes down to this: the baby sitter will be here in 15 minutes and I haven’t even taken a shower yet. Crikey! Okay, in hindsight I probably should have showered before I did any of the other stuff. That way my hair could have been in a towel drying the whole time. Damn it! But I will not be beat. Oh, I will NOT be beat in this game of escape. It’s time to take the fastest shower of my life. If I can get in and out in 5 minutes that leaves me 5 minutes to dry my (thick) hair, and 5 minutes to get dressed. Ready…set…go! (cue William Tell overture) Shampoo, rinse, condition, soap up, shave the legs, shave the pits, rinse out the conditioner, ooh this water is so warm I don’t want to get out. But I have to. No time to luxuriate. Out of the shower, hair up in a towel and run to the other bathroom. Ignore screaming children. Dry my hair, dry my hair, dry my hair…why does my hair take so long to dry?! Finally done! Plug in straightening iron. Sprint back to bedroom to get dressed. Throw on “clean” clothes. Notice that my clothes have mysteriously shrunk. No time to rethink my less than healthy food choices as of late. Back to the bathroom to finish my hair. Straighten, straighten, straighten. Spray. Done. Unplug straightening iron and make sure that the hot part isn’t touching anything. Go find my shoes. Back to the bathroom to double check placement of cooling-off straightening iron. Is it too close to the hairspray? That’s flammable you know. Move the hairspray just in case. Shriek down the stairs that if anyone hears the doorbell they are to let in the babysitter!! Oh, what’s that? She’s already here? Change tone of voice to a more socially accepted pleasant voice: oh, helloooo! Be right down! Let’s see: clothes on, shoes on, hair done, I’ll do my make-up in the car. Challenge #4 complete!

And I’m out!! I’m free! That’s right, suckas! Now just give me my prize and I’ll be on my way.

Good-bye little house of horrors…hellooooo date night!!