Monthly Archives: March 2010

Buzz, the Talented Fly

Remembering when…we were foolish enough to go house hunting with our wily brood in tow. Ugh.

My husband used to buy GAP jeans without ever trying them on. Lo and behold, they fit. His plan was simple. He’d walk up to a shelf, find his size, take them to the register and pay the lady. It’s incomprehensible, I know. Said foolishness occurred long before we were married—long before I entered the fray, insisting that he try the silly things on before he plunked down any green.

It’s not because I’m a mean and horrible troll, but because I’m a kind and caring individual who’d hate to see him potentially waste a moment of his valuable time traipsing all the way back to the store to return a perfectly good pair of pants for the express purpose of obtaining another perfectly good pair of pants—that most assuredly fit. Eventually—I argued time and again—his plan would fall apart and he’d end up having to make that trip. Ergo, it makes absolutely no sense to buy without trying. And after 11+ years of marriage, I’ve finally convinced him of the inherent wisdom of my ways. Never mind that he did just fine without me.

Not surprisingly, it’s been less difficult to get my kids to adopt a similar policy—whether we’re talking about buying britches or bunk beds. For whatever reason, they understand and have applied my logic. I think it’s because they have observed that rational people, by and large, test stuff out and make sure that it fits or that it is completely and unequivocally adored before a commitment is made. So it stands to reason that they’d view house hunting in much the same manner. Only just this once, I wish it weren’t so. I’ll bet our agent wishes so, too.

On one of many tours of properties recently, our two little tester-outers carried the try-before-you-buy theory to a level heretofore unimagined, humiliating me beyond all comprehension in the process. Granted, it’s what they do best. For a time, my husband and I were able to keep their conduct and boundless enthusiasm in check (which is all but impossible during that horrendous after-school-and-before-dinnertime decompression phase I’ve grown to know and loathe). Ultimately, however, they seized the opportunity laid before them, knowing full well we wouldn’t beat them senseless for their many and varied transgressions—at least not in front of the real estate agent.

So with wild abandon, Seek and Destroy climbed into and out of bathtubs and showers (ad infinitum!), analyzing every curve and nuance contained within. They carefully evaluated banisters and stairwells for slipperiness and sliding potential, actually putting that darling little feature to the test across glistening hardwood floors. Apparently, the allure was simply too great to resist. “Mom, why don’t WE have slippery-ific floors like these?! They’re so COOL!” Likewise, they examined cupboards and closets, pantries and porticos, poring over them for what seemed an eternity, sampling firsthand their hidey-hole worthiness. 

As if that wasn’t enough to make us completely berserk, at a few of the places we visited they went outside and actually dug in the dirt. They examined drainage pipes on all fours, poked sticks in bunny nests, swung like idiots from tree limbs, gathered an embarrassment of rocks and twigs and other assorted foolishness “…to take home because it’s special, Mom.” What’s more, they raced (ran laps actually) through pristine foyers and grand hallways as if completely possessed—appraising them throughout the process for echo potential.

Fuck yes, echo potential!

Garages were similarly assessed.

At long last, my dear progenies shifted their attention. No longer were they bent on completing their frenzied mission to devour all-things-glorious-and-impossibly-fascinating-about-this-or-that-property. Instead, they became fixated on a hapless fly. One that was half dead by the time they stumbled upon him minding his own business in an upstairs bedroom. Of course, his presence could not be ignored.

He was special, after all, and thought to possess amazing and wonderful abilities.

Carefully, they placed him inside a Kleenex and brought him to where we stood, smack in the middle of the gourmet kitchen we longed to ogle. “This is Buzz! The talented fly!” they crowed with delight, proud to introduce their winged friend to us all.

“What exactly does he do,” I had to inquire, consummate fool that I am.

“Well, he can hop and twirl and run into walls and stuff! Especially when we touch his wings!” they explained—all the while demonstrating the particularly impressive twirling motion, complete with sound effects, “Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!”

“Wanna hear him buzz?!” my heathens had the audacity to ask of our agent. “That’s why we named him, Buzz, you know!” I’m quite sure this is the point at which I became thoroughly mortified—at a total loss for words to express how sorry I was that she must tolerate the weirdness of my children. The poor woman had endured so much already and was now forced to LISTEN to a wretched fly beat his sorry wings against a tissue to amuse a couple of six-year-olds. She did just that, of course—to appease this strange, strange family on a mission to try-before-they-buy.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Kid-Speak

Men in Tights

Just bought Easter dresses for my brood and couldn’t help but remember the year I foolishly asked my husband to shop for tights…

Men don’t belong in tights. Nor do they belong in stores that sell tights apparently. At least that’s what my husband thinks—after I sent him on an insufferable mission to obtain a couple pairs for our resident ballerinas/heathens-who-needed-suitable-Easter-attire on short notice. Of course, this ridiculously urgent need arose because I don’t plan particularly well. June Cleaver (as a mother of daughters) would have had a stash of snag-free tights at her fingertips, available in a rainbow of sizes and colors for all of her tight-wearing brood.

I’m no June Cleaver.

Me: “Hon, would you run to the store and pick up some white tights for the girls? They need them for church in a size 4-6. Oh, and they have to have feet. And they have to be stretchier (is that a word?) than the ones I got for Palm Sunday. Remember those wretched things? It was like they were meant for some squatty toddler with beefy thighs—not a gangly first grader. Remember how stinking irate I got when I tried yanking and pulling on them to get them up where they were supposed to be—and they just wouldn’t go? A squirrel could have lived in that crotch gap. Anyway, I threw the hideous things away. Did I mention that the tights have to be white—not off-white or cream, but white white? Otherwise, they won’t match the dresses I bought. Can you handle that, Hon? I knew you could.”

Dutiful Husband: “Alright already. I’ll do it (insert string of indecipherable griping). White tights. Not cream. Size 4-6. With feet. Stretchier than the last ones. Got it. But remember this—you owe me. This is NOT my idea of fun.”

Needless to say, when the man returned it was evident that the assigned task, which had indeed not been the least bit fun, proved to be a supreme challenge. I would owe him for an eternity. Maybe longer.

Me: “Thanks for getting the tights, but where are the feet? I believe I specifically stated that they needed feet. These are ‘capris,’ Hon. They have no feet.”

Dutiful Husband: “Wad-da-ya mean they DON’T HAVE FEET?! Why doesn’t it just SPELL THAT OUT IN ENGLISH on the stupid package for crying out loud?! And what the $#@* does ‘capri’ mean?!”

Me: “It means they have no feet.”

Dutiful Husband: “And a man should know this—why?!” (I assumed—correctly—that this was a rhetorical question).

The love of my life then proceeded to fish out the phone book and dial up another establishment that could potentially save the day. (No sense driving there when the impression of idiocy could be made over the phone just as handily). It saves everyone time and trouble.

Dutiful Husband: “Hello? Yes, I need two pairs of white leotards in size 4-6 WITH FEET. Do you have such an animal? No? Okay, thanks anyway. Bye.”

Me: “Did you just ask someone for leotards? We need tights, Hon, not leotards. White ones. With feet.”

Dutiful Husband: “Who do I look like?! Fricking Baryshnikov?!!! I’m a DAD—not a guy who buys stuff like…like this!” he shrieked, motioning emphatically at the soon-to-be-returned merchandise. “Leotards. Tights. Tights. Leotards. What’s the difference?! I don’t pretend to know the difference! I’m not supposed to—I’m a DAD, remember?!”

At that point I quietly and privately acknowledged how infinitely obtuse I had been to expect the man to deliver under the circumstances. It was an impossible mission and one I probably just should have carried out myself. Then again, I could have wound up with that home for wayward squirrels/embarrassment-of-a-crotch-gap disaster a second time and felt like a fool all over again. Either way, I lost.

Me: “I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have ever…”

Dutiful Husband (furiously punching numbers into the phone): “No, no. I’ll do it. I told you I’d do it and I will. Hello? Yes, it’s me again. APPARENTLY I don’t need leotards, I need tights,” he said through clenched teeth. “White ones. Size 4-6. With feet. Do you have ‘em? Good. I’ll be right there. Hold them for me and guard them with your life.”

This time he came back with four pairs of the silly things (just to be on the safe side). Lo and behold…THEY HAD FEET. And the crotch gap was at least tolerable. All things considered, I was comforted in the knowledge that he came through in the end. But I have to agree…men just don’t belong in tights.

Except maybe Baryshnikov. Somehow they suit him.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Captain Quirk, Holiday Hokum

My Dog Needs a Shrink

I remember well my dog’s early days–when (much to my amusement) he oscillated from feeling like the King of the World to the cowardly lion of his kingdom.

My dog, Jack, suffers from an identity crisis. And a profoundly amusing one at that. I know I shouldn’t make light of his pitiful situation. The poor thing probably needs therapy. Or at the very least, some “me time” and a generous stint at Club Med—so that he might find himself. Preferably sometime this century.

Deep within that fluffy little bichon frise head of his, lies a reservoir of confusion—the sort that fuels delusions of grandeur and fantasies beyond all canine imagining. In sum, the muttonhead fancies himself as a steroid-fed, beast-of-a-thing with anger management issues.

In reality, Jack is a creampuff. A stinking creampuff that barks at his own shadow, bobbing and weaving to and fro—thoroughly convinced that he can somehow fake it out or swallow it whole. Then again, he’s foolish enough to yap at dogs ten times his size. Dogs that could have him for lunch. Dogs that have cohunes the size of cantaloupes.

So it makes little or no sense for him to behave in such a manner—especially given the facts: He has but a veneer of courage coupled with a pervasive fear of all-things-meek-and-mild. The Caspar Milquetoast of the neighborhood. The cowardly lion of his kingdom.

That being said, my inane dog is unspeakably intimidated by a host of things for which he should possess no fear—like fire hydrants (Oh, the irony!), recycling bins and clusters of garbage cans huddled together as if trading secrets, wayward leaves that skitter like spiders across the pavement and tall, green grasses that swoosh and sway in the breeze. Even a vacuum cleaner, left for dead at the curbside one morning, apparently posed an imminent threat to my sissified little man—as did the seemingly hostile trees we encountered (i.e. the ones with “faces” cleverly tacked to their trunks). At least no apples were hurled in our direction. Nor did the trees verbally abuse us, a la Wizard of Oz.

Mind you, most of the aforementioned objects that spooked my silly dog were inanimate, as in: they were SILENT, STILL AND COMPLETELY DEVOID OF LIFE. Nevertheless, Jack still cowered in fear—and continues to cower in fear whenever we stumble upon something remotely unfamiliar. Inanimate or not. Go figure.

I suppose it could just be that Mr. Fuzzypants has an extraordinarily active imagination, allowing him to conjure up all sorts of nightmarish scenarios involving both the mean and horrible fire hydrant lurking across the street, and the forest of evildoers lining our path (read: the trash cans and trees we pass—each with a penchant for devouring little dogs that venture too near). It’s also entirely possible that that warped mind of his could have envisioned the reject-of-a-vacuum-cleaner (an Electrolux, I think) eerily coming to life, grotesquely sprouting legs enough to chase his sorry ass around the block.

In any event, I have been forced to do some utterly ludicrous things in order to allay his fears. Things that I had never imagined doing before I owned a dog—like talking to fire hydrants and discarded machinery, petting trash cans ever so gently and hugging tree trunks, all the while explaining to my dog that these seemingly horrific entities are actually his friends and that they would never, ever hurt him.

“See, Jack, he’s a gooooood fire hydrant…and this is a niiiiiiice garbage can…and this funny-looking tree (with a face, no less!) would never dream of snatching up a sweet little doggie like you. Wouldn’t you like to say ‘hello’ to Mr. Tree? See him smiling, Jack? I think he likes you!” Of course, under my breath I grumbled and groused, raising a multitude of valid objections—like how stupid I felt and what an exercise in absurdity this was, and “Why couldn’t he just lose the paranoia already?!” Then, of course, I prayed to God that no one was watching the idiocy unfold before them.

Not surprisingly, that would make people wonder what sort of crisis (identity or otherwise) I was experiencing.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel


Filed under Doggie Diamonds, Rantings & Ravings, Vat of Complete Irreverence

Spring Training’s Gone to the Dogs

Not so long ago, I attempted (and, for all intents and purposes, failed) to housetrain my dog. That said, it was an exasperating affair that caused me unspeakable grief and torment.

In disbelief I crane my neck to find the source, scanning the skies while the faint yet relentless honking and squawking of Canada geese filters to my ears from high above—a wayward trail of dots scattered across a brilliant blue canvas, inching ever northward as one. Each year the scenario is the same; I am awed by the magnificence of such an event. Inspired by its significance. Reminded, once again, of its meaning—that spring has finally arrived. That long-awaited season of growth and renewal is upon us at last, despite its fits and starts throughout the fickle month of March. It’s the elixir of life—bottled abundantly in the form of sunshine, green leafiness and the incessant twitter of songbirds.

Likewise, the advent of baseball season and its much-heralded prologue, Spring Training, remind me that we are on the cusp of something wonderful. I only wish it were so with respect to the “spring training” of my dog, Jack. That feels more like teetering on the edge of despair—as if I’m doomed to spend the rest of my days trying to get a persnickety pooch to piddle and poo in the right place. Preferably outdoors. Without adopting a colony of ticks and/or fleas in the process. Quite frankly, it’s been a challenge beyond almost any I have ever faced—which baffles me to no end. I potty-trained three kids, after all.

I just don’t get it. The task itself doesn’t look all that difficult. For years I’ve watched people take little jaunts with their dogs and thought, “That’s not so tough—a monkey could probably walk a dog and make him pee. Why don’t I get a dog? Then I’d get more exercise and fresh air and all that good stuff. Yeah, a dog would be nice.”

Little did I know, training said tail-wagger would be an exasperating affair—one that would cause me unspeakable grief and demand that I devour each and every syllable of the assertions I had so erroneously made.

Mostly, I think it’s because the dog in question isn’t particularly interested in seeing that I achieve my objective—getting him to relieve himself in a timely fashion in the appropriate location, with or without treats and an inordinate amount of cajoling. His objective, apparently, carries far more appeal—that which involves stumbling upon and inspecting (but hopefully, not eating) all-that-is-completely-deplorable-and-dreadfully-repulsive on the face of the earth. Stuff like deer droppings, cigarette butts, wads of chewing gum and discarded Band-Aids, snippets of carrion and, of course, dog dung—at all stages of decomposition deserve an untold degree of scrutiny. His fuzzy snout, it seems, is keenly drawn to every speck of foulness that lurks in our path. The ranker the entity, the better—in his beady little eyes.

My function: to plant myself there at the end of the leash like a dutiful dolt until he is completely satisfied with having sniffed-to-death whatever it was that piqued his interest in the first place, feigning both patience and understanding. Further, as his loyal companion I must tolerate his sinfully erratic movements and delusions of grandeur that center around an unwavering belief that he is a draft horse on a mission to haul me into a neighboring county. How an eight-pound ball of fluff can drag me anywhere is beyond me. But he does; and is happy to do so, huffing and puffing, his tongue flapping all the way—to the next bit of repulsiveness, that is. “Who knows,” I reason, “…maybe that will be the ‘bit of repulsiveness’ that makes him deposit his own ‘bit of repulsiveness!’”

So when we do finally decide to venture out into the world at large, I suppose it should be no surprise to me that the muttonhead acts like a deranged squirrel, skittering hither and yon in an absolute panic over the feast for the senses bestowed upon him. It’s the ultimate canine smorgasbord, featuring a whole host of odoriferous items that must be classified somewhere on that hideous Stench Scale. Needless to say, I hold on tight lest he yank my shoulder out of its socket.

As luck would have it, my charges often tag along for the festivities, scouring great patches of earth for evidence of poo. Shouts of, “Fresh poopie alert, Mom! Let Jack smell it quick!” can be heard far and wide.

Like the geese, I suppose it’s yet another harbinger of spring. Then again, I’ve been told I don’t know Jack.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Doggie Diamonds, Rantings & Ravings, Vat of Complete Irreverence

A Little Pregnant

Practically everyone, I’m sure, has heard of Kelly Bottom, the 32-year-old Harrodsburg, Kentucky woman who last month gave birth in her home not knowing she was pregnant. I repeat: NOT KNOWING SHE WAS PREGNANT. For the life of me, I cannot imagine her surprise. Nor can I wrap my mind around the absurdity of such a notion. Translation: I am incapable of envisioning any living creature—save a house plant—claiming to be genuinely unaware of the presence of a 19-inch, 6-pound 15-ounce writhing entity wedged anywhere within. Truly, how does one miss that kind of memo?

Admittedly, I have frequented the Land of Oblivion on numerous occasions, but apparently this woman receives her mail there. Looking back on both of my pregnancies and considering the great multitude of words I could choose to describe them, I’d have to say they were memorable if nothing else. Granted, my most recent one—having resulted in twins with a combined weight of nearly 10 pounds—was perhaps BEYOND MEMORABLE; however I very seriously doubt I could ever fail to notice I was expecting.

More specifically, from Day One every fiber of my being felt pregnant. From my nose to my toes, from my fickle mood to my muddled thoughts, something was decidedly different. Maybe it was my voracious appetite and the fact that I made impossible demands of my husband—for black raspberry milkshakes and filet mignon mostly. In addition, I devoured cottage cheese by the tubful and drove the poor man to distraction with my incessant (and sometimes hostile) pleas for the curdy wonder. “Pull the van over NOW!” I once insisted in a sleepy little town that thankfully had a mom and pop grocery store, wedged amid a cluster of row homes. “GET ME SOME COTTAGE CHEESE BEFORE I DIE!” I ordered. The weirdish cravings alone (and especially when they were coupled with bouts of belligerence) would have served as a little red flag regarding the very real possibility of pregnancy, methinks.

Another obvious sign had to have been my intolerably acute sense of smell which caused me to retch if I happened to breeze by anyone who had given up deodorant for Lent (read: pretty much anything off the Putrid Scale made me retch). Moreover, my body was a raging inferno day and night—even in the dead of winter. Furthermore, I spent an inordinate amount of time and energy dwelling on this fact, not to mention my aching feet, breasts and back—wishing like crazy said horribleness would leave me and instead torment some other wretched soul on the planet. Worse yet, I couldn’t sleep comfortably no matter how many pillows I jammed beneath my ever-expanding belly—the unwieldy mass of flesh I clutched and cradled with every toss and turn as if it were some sort of monstrous growth, separate from myself, that I had to hoist with my hands in order to move anywhere. Perhaps this was an even MORE apparent sign of impending parenthood.

Indeed, in the nothing-will-fit-me-but-a-circus-tent stage of my pregnancy, my enormity became difficult to ignore. It was as if I had swallowed the Dominican Republic whole, but only because the panhandle of Texas was unavailable. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t tie my own shoes nor could I see my feet, which I found profoundly disturbing and yet, strangely amusing. Then I happened upon the day (which will forever live in infamy) during which I couldn’t fasten my seatbelt had I been convinced that the fate of the entire world hinged upon my success. My belly was simply too large. As I recall, it was a moot point because I couldn’t reach the pedals anyway, having been forced to move the seat back in order to stuff my sorry self between the seat and the steering wheel. At that juncture in time, driving became something I used to do. Yet another sign, I’d surmise.

Apparently I wasn’t the only individual who took note of my newly adopted Behemoth-like qualities. It’s rumored there was a twisted little pool at work in which people bought chances on my final weigh-in, although I suspect that guessing my girth would have been more of a challenge. At any rate, it’s likely the pool-at-work thing would have led me to question thoughts I might have previously dismissed about unexplained weight gain and/or a sudden proclivity toward rotundness. Or at least I would hope so.

Another not-so-subtle indicator, for me anyway, would have been the impossible-to-ignore, round-the-clock, profusion of activity taking place within the swell of my belly. That said, waves of movement were evident throughout the latter part of my pregnancy, ranging from tiny flutters here and there to giant undulations rippling across my entire midsection. More specifically, when Thing One or Thing Two shifted position, it was as if the earth had moved. Of course, it was insanely fascinating to watch, too, and I recall parking myself on the couch so that the peanut gallery that had gathered could witness my freakish sideshow firsthand. Elbows distinctly flashed, as did knees and a flurry of tiny feet. “Kewl,” my oldest daughter mouthed again and again, struck by the wondrous stirrings within.

All things considered, I still struggle mightily with the Kentucky woman’s pregnancy-related oblivion. Translation: I’m beyond skeptical and fast approaching contemptuous.

A bit envious, too. There, I said it.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (remembering well the days of being as big as a house).

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Vat of Complete Irreverence

Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Spring

Thus far in the journey (i.e. the unmerciful season of sickness), my brood remains reasonably healthy; but I remember well LAST spring. Ugh.

There’s nothing quite like being plagued unmercifully with an illness while the splendor of spring dances outside, taunting and teasing and souring those who fall victim—a goodly chunk of their joy deemed stolen forever. I expect such pestilence to invade my happy home in the dead of winter, wending its way through my entire brood one-by-one, sparing no one but the damned dog and a couple of self-absorbed cats. I’m prepared for the onslaught of such maladies at that juncture, armed with vaporizers and Vicks, hot water bottles and hurling buckets, multi-symptom this and meltaway that and cases upon cases of that grape-ish, sickly-sweet tonic that promises to tame sniffles, sneezes, coughs, fevers, sore throats and whatever else might ail the masses.

However, I find it especially agonizing (okay, downright brutal) to endure feeling entirely rotten (and caring for those who feel entirely rotten) while on the cusp of something as wonderful as the vernal equinox. In my mind, it smacks of cruel and unusual punishment in a world already riddled with gross injustices—like being saddled with kids who refuse to sleep through the night till they’re in kindergarten, or getting stuck with a wayward grocery cart with at least one defective wheel and a penchant for careening into towers of produce. It’s all so completely unfair.

That said, with virtually every sickness comes the insufferable issue of medicine—more specifically, getting the wily urchins to consume it without calling in the cavalry at 3 am or threatening to make a trip to the ER “…where a mean and horrible troll will make you take it if you don’t take it for Mommy PRECISELY NOW.” Okay. It’s what I want to say upon drizzling 14 bazillion teaspoonfuls of whatevericillin across my countertops and watching gobs of the pasty stuff seep into my carpet as I wait for my less-than-cooperative progenies to slurp it down already. With a gallon of water and a Cheez-It chaser, of course, “…to make the icky-ness go away, Mom.”

What’s more, some of the lovely little medications our dear children are prescribed transform Sweet Suzie into Broomhilda the Beast—a highly disturbed, shriek-happy demon child who (when she snaps) devours Legos by the fistful, pummels hapless siblings at will and spins her head around and around as if possessed—especially when demands are not immediately met. Insane flailing of the arms and stomping of the feet are optional and left to the discretion of the unruly creature in question—all of which we must tolerate with a smile.

Likewise, (and without hesitation) we must happily convert our living rooms into makeshift sickbays, covering our couches with blankets, comfy pillows and beloved stuffed animals, lining our coffee tables with a vast array of whatever-said-sickly-child-might-desire-for-the-interminable-duration—to include a monstrous wad of tissues, soup that will be warmed roughly 300 times and will eventually become fused to the magazine smartly placed beneath it, a freshly sneezed-upon TV remote, a box of soon-to-become-contaminated crackers, a library of books and a new bicycle, puppy or pony for good measure.

Moreover, parents are often faced with the challenge of answering the unanswerable when illnesses strike, testing our resolve nearly every waking moment. “Mom, why do I always have to get so sick every spring? It’s entirely horrible,” Thing One recently lamented after nearly hurling in her bowl of Lucky Charms.

“I don’t know, Hon. Maybe it’s because it’s been really windy lately and the bad germs somehow get whirled and twirled around and then blown back inside where we breathe them.” Or maybe God hates us and we’re simply doomed to misery every year during March and April, said the optimist.

Thing Two of course chimed in with her impossible-to-field question, “Mom, why is it that March has to come in and go out like a lion or a lamb? Why couldn’t it just be a worm and a jaguar? Worms are gentle, you know. And jaguars bite people’s heads off.”

I had nothing for that. So (yet again) I failed to offer an explanation that was even remotely satisfying to her. Oh well. No one on the planet seems to agree on the lion/lamb thing anyway, because of course there are no clear-cut guidelines for determining what defines “coming in (or going out) like a lamb/lion” as it relates to weather. Hence, the barrage of inane questions from curious-minded second graders. Second graders remarkably adept at contracting (and sharing) a whole host of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad maladies.

Woe is me.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live with a bunch of sick-os. Visit me there at

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Rantings & Ravings, Sick-O Central

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Remembering when…I used to stress about how my kids might malign me at school as second graders (i.e. how they’d tell all regarding our gloriously dysfunctional family and household). I’ve since mellowed on the matter, which is good, methinks.

My kids send me into a panic for lots of reasons these days—like when they hurl their smallish bodies into oblivion, when they careen out of control on those sinfully precarious scooters, or when they giggle uncontrollably while stuffing their mouths as full as humanly possible with marshmallows or macaroni—as if imitating a ravenous chipmunk were the least bit amusing. But mostly, I live in fear of what my dandies will say in school as a matter of course—the telling bit of detail that will raise as many flags as eyebrows in the teacher’s lounge this year. More specifically, it’s the completely spontaneous and utterly uncensored snippets of speech that worry me to the point of distraction—The Full Monty regarding the glut of dysfunction present in our home.

And now that the let’s-get-to-know-our-classmates phase of school has begun in earnest, my trepidation has grown to a level roughly three times what it was just a few short months ago—when I stressed over what drivel Seek and Destroy might be inclined share with fellow camp-goers, instructors and swimming chums. At least in those venues, I could present my side of the story, if not defend my ineptitude as a parent.

Quite literally, I cringe when I think of the boundless opportunities for embarrassment and shame (mine, of course) that exist from the moment my charges make landfall in their classrooms till the moment they return home. During Show & Tell (if second-graders still enjoy such a glorious activity), my gals are likely to produce a fistful of worms or the petrified wad of chewing gum that together they harvested from the bleachers at Coach I’s basketball camp this past summer. A treasured memento for certain, along with the photo of a dashing, 20-something-ish coach they both vowed to marry “…when I get big, Mom.”

Likewise, I want to crawl under a rock when I imagine the pall that will undoubtedly be cast over their teachers upon learning that my dear children are more than just a little familiar with Jeff Dunham’s stand-up routine and the irreverent crew of puppet people he brings to life on stage. Or that I once laundered 74 pairs of underpants in one day (we counted). Or that all who reside under my roof believe that ketchup is an actual food group and Bruster’s ice cream, the nectar of the gods—qualifying as a legitimate meal in all 50 states. Or that my heathens pay homage each night to Walter, the Farting Dog, an inflatable replica of a beloved fictional character, now suspended from their bedroom ceiling, compliments of Betsy at Otto’s Bookstore. Or that I’ve fed my brood dinner in the bathtub more than once—to compensate for my less-than-stellar (read: abysmal) performance in the getting-to-bed-on-time arena.

I shudder also to think of the shock and horror my blithesome bunch might engender in the cafeteria should they inadvertently quote Dunham’s Peanut, Jose Jalapeno or (Heaven forbid!) WALTER if they suddenly felt the compelling desire to entertain the troops. Worse yet, they could repeat with remarkable accuracy each and every syllable of what I shouldn’t have said while shrieking at the dog who had just gnawed an entire leg off a plastic cow—and before that, a plastic dinosaur—and before that, a plastic pig.

What’s more, I envision stunned silence (followed by riotous laughter) when one or both shoot a hand in the air, eagerly volunteering the word “poop” as a perfect example of a palindrome. Or the circus which would ensue upon their use of the word “pathetic” in a sentence. “My mommy thinks President Bush is pathetic.” It’s only a matter of time before that gem of commentary bubbles to the surface, fueling all sorts of classroom discussions—both welcome and not-so-welcome. (Maybe I should just apologize now or forever hold my cynicism at the dinner table).

There’s no doubt about it; dysfunction flourishes here in this household. But perhaps it is decidedly relative. To borrow from my husband’s vat of uncannily accurate insights about the world at large, “Every house has the same discussion and every family’s weirdness is its own normalcy.”

There is some comfort in that, I suppose. Then again, the man thinks whistling for cats, as well as children, is normal.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Kid-Speak, School Schmool, Vat of Complete Irreverence