Monthly Archives: October 2010

My Dog Ate My Homework and Other Tales of Woe

The afternoon began uneventfully enough. My motley crew leapt from the school bus like every other day and flung their backpacks into a crumpled heap at the curbside—a practice I’ve grown to tolerate over the years since it usually grants me a few delicious moments to myself. Moments during which my sole function on the planet is simply to watch them run circles around each other, screaming like a couple of banshees, weaving in and out of a grove of trees—ones that are routinely summoned to participate in their latest and greatest make-believe pirate or superhero drama. Indeed, it makes perfect sense to encourage said purging of the vat of pent up energy with which they seem to arrive home each day, and to be patient while they soak up every glee-filled ounce of childhood that is humanly possible. But on this particular day, it was all for naught.

Shortly after the beasts within were presumably tamed, the wheels flew off my Parenting Bus. Hubcaps and all. In perfect chorus, there were demands for snacks and demands for my attention, squabbles to settle and hostilities to halt, messes to manage and hurts to heal, slips to sign and studies to support. And all the while I tried to attend meaningfully to a conversation with a certain co-ed who decided to make landfall in this crazy place at this crazy hour—a hurried conversation about borrowing a sleeping bag due to the ridiculous prospect of driving hundreds of miles to a huge city where she’s never driven, to pitch a tent in Godknowswhatforest and CAMP IN THE FREEZING COLD with a bunch of like-minded bohemians she’s never met “…because it will be an adventure, Mom, and besides, I know at least one of them and I guess I’ll get to know the rest.”

Naturally, the toilet paper debate surfaced.

“You’ll need to pack some toilet paper, you know. And wool socks. Do you even have wool socks? How about long underwear? Have you thought about that?”

“No, Mom. I won’t need toilet paper. I have wool socks. And I won’t need long underwear in Virginia.”

“Yes you will.”

“No I won’t.”

And so the drama in our kitchen continued—until she had had enough of my former-resident-of-Virginia motherly advice and I had had enough of trying to deal with multiple crises of epic proportions. In retrospect, the crises themselves probably weren’t all that horrific or exceedingly unmanageable. But clustered together, into a consortium of tiny tragedies, they certainly felt genuinely oppressive—as if my world were collapsing all around me. Then the dog entered the fray (removing all doubt that my world had indeed collapsed), taking a sizeable chunk out of someone’s book—a book that belonged to the school—a book that I would ineptly try to resuscitate with massive quantities of tape and resourcefulness the next day. However, my resourcefulness met its match when I foolishly inquired as to where the rest of the gnawed upon morsels were.

“They’re in his belly, Mom. I was reading to him and then I went away and that’s when Jack decided to taste my book.” I only wish I had been present in school to witness the blow-by-blow explanation she surely offered her teacher, detailing the fate her hapless book had met. Clearly, any sentence that contains both the words dog and homework can’t hope to be well received by any teacher—even if those words happen to be delivered by a second grader with little or no expertise in the realm of conjuring lame excuses.

Unfortunately, the dog wasn’t alone in striving to complete his mission of destruction that afternoon. Apparently, my heathens were also bent on ruinous behavior. Case in point: while hurling their smallish bodies into oblivion (i.e. flinging themselves into an enormous leaf pile in the back yard again and again), not surprisingly, and horrendously, they collided. One cranium and one chin famously intersected in what appeared to be a valiant attempt to occupy the very same bit of earthly airspace. The laws of physics prevailed, however, resulting in equal and opposite reactions, largely manifested by an impressive-looking goose egg and a set of rattled teeth. After being smothered with kisses that were sure to cure all their ills, my sniveling combatants headed straight for the freezer to remedy their stupidity. Ice would be their companion for quite some time.

Even still as evening approached, said idiocy refused to leave our happy home. Our brood had settled nicely into what we assumed would be a civilized game of Jumpin’ Monkeys. But in a fit of rage, Thing One viciously stomped upon Thing Two’s brand spanking new glasses (that were lying on the floor AGAIN!)—twisting them hideously into a mangled mess, necessitating an immediate and gloriously lecture-filled trip to the eye doctor’s (read: our saving grace).

“She smooshed them, Mommy! On purpose! Just because I threw her stupid, stinking monkey!”

And so our tales of woe continued. Thankfully not every day is so abundantly eventful.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

 

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Filed under Bookish Stuff, Daily Chaos, Doggie Diamonds, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Rantings & Ravings, Smother May I?, The Woman-Child, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

And the Monster That is Mommy Reared her Ugly Head, Just in Time for Halloween

Seems like only yesterday when my charges were perfectly content to wear costumes that reeked of adorableness. Alas, that was eons ago…

If my kids were truly cognizant of the hideous nature of my most recent crime, they’d surely sell me on eBay. “One ROTTEN MOMMY for sale!” the blurb would read. “One ROTTEN MOMMY who did a BAD, BAD thing!” And I wouldn’t blame them one bit. Indeed, I have done something horrible. Something atrocious. Something downright wicked—even by my standards.

I picked out this year’s Halloween costumes (Gasp!) without so much as my children’s input, say-so or collective blessing. Yep. I did. And I am deeply ashamed of my deplorable conduct. As I should be. Needless to say, it pains me greatly even to admit to something so heinous—much like the time I rearranged the ABC magnets on the refrigerator door without first consulting the powers that be. Naturally, there was hell to pay for that little transgression.

Remarkably however, this time my charges weren’t nearly as outraged or distraught over my rash and brazen behavior. The fact that I made an executive decision in their absence barely made a blip on the radar screen amazingly enough. In large part, I attribute this stroke of good fortune to two things: Number 1: I can be exceedingly clever (read: conniving) on occasion. Number 2: My kids are exceedingly distractible (read: gullible), on most occasions.

“Honeys, look at what Mommy brought you! A ladybug with wings and spots and boingy little antenna things…a silly-looking monkey with a banana in his pocket and a squinky little tail…and a chicken suit! Yes, yes, a funny chicken suit with fluffy featherish stuff and big, floppy feet!! I know, I know, we only need two costumes for Halloween, but Mommy couldn’t resist GIVING YOU DEAR, DEAR CHILDREN A CHOICE!”

See. That’s where the cleverness sidled in. I totally and completely diverted their attention with all the bells and whistles I employed, spewing forth (in one giant breath) each and every wonderful feature of those ridiculous costumes I could think of, precluding so much as a hint of protest. Then I threw them the infamous you’ve-got-a-choice bone for good measure. Insert fiendish laugh here.

In all honesty though, I never ever meant to steal their joy or to crush their delicate spirits (and thankfully, I didn’t). Truthfully, I have no clue as to what made me do the unthinkable. I never intended to buy those silly suits; they just sort of fell off the rack and into my cart as my inner mommy voice soothingly cooed, “Hey, smart shopper, think of the time and trouble you’ll save—I mean, everyone will save—if you just pick out a couple of costumes right now, while you’re here, free from the endless swirl of chaos and the din of despair. Your kids won’t mind. Come on, you know you want to. They’ll love you for it and besides, if you let them choose… a) it will take for-EVER (because there are zebras and mice and kangaroos and a veritable ark load of choices!), b) you will be driven insane in the process as they weave deliriously in and out of the racks aplenty, drunk with joy over the momentous event and c) they’ll whine and carry on until you let them have those stupid pink poodle outfits. Do you honestly want your children to be seen wearing something so utterly HIDEOUS for Halloween?! Have you gone completely mad, woman?! They’ll look like a couple of ninnies!”

So I tossed the blasted things into my cart, unable to silence the voices in my head. Alas, I was weak. And the monster that is Mommy reared her ugly head, just in time for Halloween. Shame on me. Of course, I felt awful after the fact and I began questioning myself. I started thinking the poodles might not have been so bad (God knows they’re OBSESSED with dogs). The kangaroo (with a pouch for candy!) had potential, too. Egads! What had I done?!

Like I said, if they could only wrap their little minds around my egregious behavior, I’d be sold to the highest bidder. Or to pretty much any bidder for that matter. Let the flogging begin.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "G" is for Guilt, Daily Chaos, Holiday Hokum, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Is There a Doctor in the House? (Continuation of “Guilty as Sin”)

Doogie Houser, MD would have been proud. From the moment Seek and Destroy laid eyes on their beloved Ken doll, helplessly sprawled out on the living room floor, our resident whiz kids snapped into action—eager to render what assistance they could in the face of such a crippling tragedy. It was a sight to behold and the epitome of teamwork. For what seemed like forever that morning, our prodigious sensations delved into the guts and gore like fearless surgeons of the 4077th M.A.S.H. unit. They were miniature paramedics—a sippy-cup-toting trauma unit with a penchant for Teddy Grahams.

Ken needed a trauma unit. He was Code Blue—thanks to me. Never mind the fact that he was a plastic doll I had inadvertently maimed the night before. It was a life or death situation—sort of. Even the next of kin—the entire Barbie gaggle—had been immediately notified of his condition. This, of course, meant that the weeping and wailing might never end. What a maudlin crew. Bunch of sissies, anyway.

The official report: Ken’s perfectly sculpted (and impeccably tanned) synthetic leg had been completely severed from the hip down. A gaping hole in the pelvis region revealed even more damage—a broken plastic hinge thingy. Translation: Ken’s pelvic thrusting days were probably over. Jogging with Skipper was out of the question, too—unless he had a miracle up his surfer shorts. His prognosis couldn’t have been much worse—unless he had been run over by a freight train full of whining pre-menopausal Barbies. Needless to say, the outlook was grim.

Doctor kits, loaded with all sorts of important-looking (albeit worn and duct-taped) equipment, were hurriedly pried from toy boxes and rushed to the scene. Initial assessments were made, Hippocratic Oaths were uttered and the patient was gingerly transported to a makeshift operating table—an overstuffed footstool. Orders were barked to a team of imaginary nurses and various instruments were splayed out in preparation for the surgery that was sure to run into the night.

In the meantime, I ran for the video camera. To seize the opportunity, of course. I know real drama when I see it. Plus, such a pioneering moment in medical history begged to be recorded for the benefit of all posterity. It was my civic duty to film history in the making.

Truth be told, I was certain I wouldn’t be able to recreate the utter hilarity for anyone once it was over. It was simply too funny for words. I had to film it. So film it I did.

“Nurse, take his blood pressure! (Shoop, shoop, shoop….) Take his temperature! (Shake, shake, shake….) Give him a shot of this stuff! (Pffssssssshhhttt!) DOCTOR, WE NEED SOME GLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUE! Something to make his leg STICK BACK ON! Oh. My. Goodness. I left my glue at the other office. What will we do now!?”

“Well Doctor, I think we need to hammer this leg a little.” (Hammer, hammer, hammer…twist, yank, prod, crank, SNAP, CRACKLE, POP!!!) “And we need a cast thingy! Right away!”

All the while, stethoscopes, syringes and imaginary glue guns flew across the OR, passed from hand to hand in a desperate attempt to save poor old Ken’s plastic-coated soul. The tension was unbearable. The wait, nerve-racking. Thankfully in the end, Ken pulled through; but despite their undying efforts, the medical wonders were unable to successfully reattach his leg.

Not to worry. The celebrated masters of make-believe have since made the best of the situation—illustrating for the 327th time this week that even a nonfunctional and seemingly worthless item/toy (and I’d daresay a particularly gruesome one at that) can become purposeful once again—providing countless hours of enjoyment.

Or sheer bliss.

Apparently, the practice of terrorizing one another with said severed limb (which includes tearing through the house at warp speed, screaming like a couple of banshees) is nearly as fun as playing with good ol’ two-legged Kensey-poo and his estrogenized harem. Almost.

It’s macabre, I know. But delightfully so methinks.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2006 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Kid-Speak, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

It’s Almost Halloween, Do You Know Where Your Ghosts and Goblins Are?

The countdown to October 31st has officially begun, or so I’ve been informed by the ghoul-worshiping creatures with whom I reside. “Only TWENTY-SEVEN DAYS till Halloween, Mom! Isn’t that ENTIRELY KEWL?!” the crew reminds me again. And again.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Halloween, Schmalloween,” I grouse to no one, thinking of how consumed my brood will be with all-that-is-grisly-and-gruesome till the night of terror and celebrated harvest of sugary treats is finally over. Indeed, I’m troubled by the hype surrounding the event, nauseated by the deluge of candy corn spilling from checkout counters near and far and burdened unmercifully by the demands that have been placed upon me to produce two of the most obscenely wonderful costumes on the planet—“…because we HAVE to be the SCARIEST, Mom. It’s a RULE. No more baby stuff. We want to make people screeeeeeam! Can you make us some costumes, Mom?!”

“MAKE you some COSTUMES?!” I muttered to myself through clenched teeth. “Surely you jest, my dear, sweet children,” I chortled while marking the calendar with big, fat letters, “BUY COSTUMES,” all the while fighting the urge to add, “BLOW THE ENTIRE DAY IN PURSUIT OF THE PERFECT HALLOWEEN APPAREL.”

Oh, the PRESSURE! Oh, the HORROR! Oh, the GUILT associated with parenting smallish beings! That’s code for: I have serious issues with time management, I like crafts but I’m not especially crafty, and I can’t sew to save myself. I much preferred the chapters in life during which my charges were oblivious to my non-Susie Homemaker allegiance. Or when they were perfectly content to be disguised as plump-ish pumpkins or whiskered kittens (read: sinfully adorable garment-age conveniently plucked from store shelves or received as gifts). My husband and I then bundled them up and wheeled them around the neighborhood in a big, red wagon—pausing only to wipe noses, to sample the loot and to shift their lumpy bodies around like sacks of potatoes. Life was so much simpler then. Complexity now rules the land. There are voices to be heard, desires to satisfy and wallets to purge.

That said, a week ago Sunday all three of those matters were sufficiently addressed as it relates to the aforementioned holiday. Three stores, two giddified children and a ridiculous chunk of time later, we had spooktacular Halloween outfits. And all was right with the world—except the process itself was unbearably tedious if not downright maddening. There were rubbery rats to pet, hideous-looking masks to ogle and 67 varieties of wigs to try on. True to my paranoid self, I obsessed, “I do not like LICE in my HOUSE! It makes me CRINGE, it makes me GROUSE! Please, oh please, don’t let there be, anything LICE-ISH there for me!”

Needless to say, nothing even remotely “lice-ish” awaited me in this Mecca of Halloween wares; however a sea of costumes, a barrage of creepy sounds and an infinite array of gotta-have-it-or-I’ll-die accessories beckoned to my brood, rendering them incapable of making a decision. Never mind that solid commitments had already been made. “But Mom, we have to look at EVERYTHING FIRST; and we have to try on capes and hats and horns and tails and….”

Again with the demands. Ugh.

My only saving grace: stumbling into a tree that insulted me. Well, it wasn’t a whole tree, actually. It was just a knot, gnarled and twisted into an unspeakably ugly face, hanging from some sort of bogus tree, poised to share its cantankerous self with those simple-minded enough to encourage such banter. I qualified. And because I find such oddities mildly intriguing, I could not walk away. So we talked. The tree and I. In the middle of Neece Paper. And I felt like a fool, yet completely compelled to continue.

In the end, that craggy hunk of Wizard of Oz-inspired surliness served as the perfect diversion for my pain and suffering (i.e. it kept me from going berserk while fulfilling my duties as the official Appraiser of Halloween Hokum).

May you be so fortunate this Halloween.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (stockpiling candy corn, leafing through the pages of Crafty Mama in hopes I’ll glean something and contemplating the completely frivolous purchase of a trash-talking tree face).

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Holiday Hokum, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Kid-Speak, Rantings & Ravings, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Summer’s Educational Feast

A plethora of reputable entities, educational and otherwise, have spent a good chunk of time and money prattling on about the serious nature of academic regression and whatnot, convincing great masses of parents that “the summer slide” does, in fact, exist and should be feared above all else. All seriousness aside, I’m here to proclaim otherwise. There was no slide that I could discern during the glorious months of June, July and August. Moreover, I’d daresay the summer epitomized an educational feast for my brood, as a host of new and exciting information was thrust upon us virtually every minute of every day.

Indeed, we were enlightened thusly:

Matter can, in fact, be destroyed (or at least it can come frighteningly close to doing so) when lawn mower blades make impact with errantly placed Whiffle balls and flip-flops. Physicists should take note of such remarkable findings.

Considering the coefficient of friction and the gravitational pull of the Earth, Crocs are not ideally suited for tree climbing. Likewise, and in the true spirit of experimentation, cell phones can neither swim, nor float.

With respect to Venn diagrams, not all amusement park employees are amused to be there day in and day out, collecting tickets, helping kids climb onto rides and advising patrons to keep their “hands and feet inside at all times!” In fact, most of the joy-bringers we encountered this summer fell squarely into the category of cantankerous—only to be eclipsed by the group of dolts who were disturbingly stoic. Of course, I felt the urge to slap them senseless for failing to at least ACT THE PART of being cheery and pleasant “for the good of the children.” But that would have been redundant.

Concerning the topic of animal behavior, I discovered that cats, dogs and even guinea pigs can be taught to type on a computer. Needless to say, I was duly impressed having witnessed said groundbreaking research conducted in the field.

As far as mathematical correlations go, I learned that the later kids stay up at a sleepover party, the earlier they will rise—demanding pancakes and bacon. What’s more, the average third grader will catapult out of bed ten times faster for an unplanned and unmercifully early visit from a friend who wants to ride bikes than for the regularly scheduled arrival of a school bus.

Regarding the subject of psychology, I was reminded that children can and will defy all logic and understanding. Case in point: when they emphatically reveal that the best part of a fun-filled day at an amusement park (read: a marathon-inspired excursion involving an obscene number of rides and French fries) was purchasing a $3 inflatable elephant named Bob. Similarly, the most memorable thing from attending a week’s worth of basketball camp might just have been “…drinking a whole can of Orange Crush soda so I could burp really LOUD, Mom!”

Furthermore, while field testing a variety of hypotheses recently, I learned that it is possible to become more sodden while riding the Merry Mixer during a torrential downpour than it is to opt for the Sklooosh on a dry day. Additionally, I found that it takes roughly three days for sandals to dry out after said rain. None of this, mind you, is especially troubling to the husband or to the children who insist that we “…just go on more rides!”

Some related summertime observations I made: When playing miniature golf, the probability of visiting an emergency room (and/or the dentist’s office) increases exponentially as the number of eight-year-old participants increases. Further, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to ensure that moon roofs and windows are closed overnight. Rain happens. It’s also prudent to periodically check on youngsters who might do the unthinkable (i.e. blow up ants with a magnifying glass “…because they sizzle in the sun, Mom, and then they POP!” and/or hoist the dog into the top bunk “…so he can SEE stuff up there.”) Stupidity happens. Moreover, it’s wise to inspect the hot tub for curiously abandoned thongs upon returning from vacation. Audaciousness happens.

Some interesting facts I gathered these past few months: Kids are more likely to retain Pokemon-related information than the sight words from kindergarten. Kids could watch a continuous loop of Sponge Bob for an eternity—never once pausing to engage in meaningful conversation with a parent. Kids can get by with one bath a week if they frequent a chlorinated swimming pool. Kids positively DON’T CARE how fricking cold the water from the hose is when it’s connected to a Slip n’ Slide. Kids will eat S’Mores till they EXPLODE. Kids will kiss worms, frogs and taste the dog—just because.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (summing up the summer).

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction