Tag Archives: Mommie Dearest

What Mom Really Wants

Mother’s Day is coming. One day and counting. I’ve marked the Almighty Calendar that hangs on our fridge with a big, fat sticker, proclaiming to one and all, “This day is IMPORTANT! Don’t you daaaaaare forget it!” And I’m sure no one will. My family loves me dearly and they’ll undoubtedly stumble over one another to shower me with adoration and gifts galore. Gifts to die for—like decadent chocolates, gorgeous, sweet-smelling bouquets of roses or something lily-ish, syrupy cards that remind me just how much I am loved and appreciated. To top it all off, they’ll probably treat me to a scrumptious meal at a fancy-schmancy restaurant—where all five of us will dine together.

Sadly, however, I’m afraid a degree of disappointment lurks just around the bend.

But don’t think for a moment that I would ever condemn my family’s attempts to make me feel extra special on Mother’s Day, because they do—and I do as a result. Each year they wow me in some remarkable way and I am eternally grateful for their well-meaning efforts. However, they often miss the mark when it comes to having a fine-tuned awareness of my innermost desires as a mom. Time and again, my motley crew fails to recognize my signals, let alone interpret them correctly. It’s sort of like watching archaeologists decipher hieroglyphics on a cave wall in order to learn what the skywriter above has written.

So I am left with but few options this Mother’s Day. I could attempt to convey my true wishes through telepathy, employing my standard-issue female mind powers to transmit messages to my brood. I could drop subtle hints by pasting colorful little notes everywhere from the dust-covered television screen to the empty milk jug, still sitting in the fridge. Or perhaps I could present my self-indulgent list of wants and needs here in a public venue, hopeful that it will be well-received and acted upon accordingly.

With any luck, the following suggestions will also be of value to other families who are eager to please Mom this Mother’s Day.

1)      For starters, let Mom take a real live NAP once in a while. Not one of those namby-pamby dozing sessions on the couch that lasts for 15 minutes, rife with interruptions of the non-urgent variety. Set some hard and fast ground rules, too. No one is to disturb Mom unless the sky is falling or someone’s hair is on fire.

2)      Pick up after each other. That’s what Mom does 24/7. Give her a break for Pete’s sake! That means no sneakers, underwear or sweat socks lying around for all to “enjoy,” no barbed toys lying in wait for her on the stairs and no decomposing apple cores on the coffee table or empty Cheetos bags stuffed under the sofa pillows. Muster the strength, somehow, to make it to the hamper, toy box and trash can. She manages to do it, even when she’s dead tired.

3)      Relinquish the remote control for a day. Just one day. Honestly, how tough can it be? Let her choose the programming for once and don’t have a cow if she sticks with one station for more than ten minutes. The world won’t stop revolving if one less viewer tunes in to primetime rubbish geared to teens and young adults. Even Donald Trump doesn’t wield that much power and influence.

4)      Remember to close things: The refrigerator door, the toilet seat and lid, the Wonder bread wrapper, the Jiff jar (‘cause your mom is a choosy mom), your dresser drawers, the back door and your mouth—to curb the spillage of all that less-than-endearing commentary that tends to flow like a river from time to time.

5)      Make a concerted effort to get along with your siblings. Mom is sick and tired of blowing the whistle on all of your shenanigans. Not to mention, her wardrobe has suffered greatly since the addition of referee stripes. At all costs, refrain from causing anyone to bleed—especially on the good carpeting.

When that special day finally arrives, strive to think of Mom above all else—putting her wants and needs above your own. Really tune in to what she holds dear and what would prove to be the most meaningful to her when all is said and done.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Holiday Hokum, Rantings & Ravings

Ten Mom Duties I’d Prefer to Outsource

For the record, this is National Scoop the Poop Week, which, I can only assume, commemorates the thankless post of those who gingerly sift and subsequently remove masses of repulsiveness from rectangular boxes in cellars everywhere. Moreover, I’m guessing the week is also reserved for the purpose of honoring the countless individuals who manage (i.e. harvest or fling) varying amounts and consistencies of dog dung from grassy temptations in parks and neighborhoods near and far. And while such recognition is indeed richly deserved, it makes me slightly resentful as a mom—especially as one who routinely engages in less-than-pleasant tasks without so much as a hint of formal acknowledgment. Hrumph.

Granted, we have Mother’s Day in May, Father’s Day in June and, of course, National Parents’ Day in July; but even considered collectively, they pale in comparison to THE SOLID WEEK OF VALIDATION the pooper scooper people receive. Such a tiny portion of the calendar hardly seems adequate given the myriad of responsibilities that encompass the bailiwick of most parents in this day and age. Nevertheless, I’d likely forego any and all public acknowledgment—including the conferral of a week-long, national holiday in celebration of parental duties—so that I might outsource said horribleness instead. Here is a list of ten I’d farm out immediately or sooner.

1)    Lord of the Loo. I cannot begin to express my displeasure as it relates to the aforementioned role, which includes but is not limited to the act of flushing and plunging toilets as necessary. Quite frankly, I’ve grown increasingly intolerant of my brood’s so-called inability to remember to push a stupid little lever and to refrain from using obscene quantities of toilet paper.

2)    Gatekeeper of Information/Entertainment Sources. Given the prevalence and accessibility of data and entertainment (which ranges from good to completely dreadful both online and off), I am fairly exasperated by the impossible nature of the task at hand. That said, I cannot police every keystroke or channel surfing venture my heathens engage in, nor can I place digital controls on the devices in question because, admittedly, I am a poor tool.

3)    Homework Nazi. Of all the hats I wear as a parent, that of academic taskmaster is my least favorite. Firstly, it gives my children yet another reason to loathe my existence. Secondly, I don’t possess the intellect required to grasp the “new math” and nothing would gladden my heart more than to watch it die a slow, horrible death. Thirdly, I fail to see the rationale behind inundating kids with reports and whatnot that are beyond the scope of their abilities. Translation: I am tired of making them jump through hoops when they ought to be climbing trees.

4)    Bedtime Enforcer. Need I say more?

5)    Explainer of That-Which-Is-Inexplicable. Think: Moammar Gadhafi, Charlie Sheen and pretty much any statement made by Donald Trump.

6)    Thank You Note Tyrant/Cheerleader. Of course, I am indescribably grateful to those who shower my progenies with gifts throughout the year, but I absolutely abhor the commission of motivating them to churn out notes of thanks that are abundantly specific, palpably thoughtful and convincingly genuine. Never mind legible. Clearly, this sort of undertaking lives on the fringe of impossibility, seeking to destroy my dream of mediocrity as a parent.

7)    Zenmaster of Closet Space. Confession: Each and every closet in my home is hideously disordered. And no one, it seems, is particularly interested in reversing the ill effects of our hoarding mentality—except me. To date, our dear closets house an embarrassment of clothing that no longer fits anyone, mismatched flip-flops, irreparably damaged umbrellas, lone mittens, sneakers in various stages of decomposition and hats from the early Paleozoic Era. Oy.

8)    Resident Grossinator. Otherwise known as the CEO of Household Biohazards—to include pinkeye encrustations (joy), toenail clippings (grok!), unflushed whateverness, phlegm (gak!), fecal matter and/or fermented food contained within the hamster cage that no one else will clean and let us not forget vomit—the bodily fluid that once (before children) repulsed us. Now (disturbingly, I might add) we attempt to catch it, so that we might spare our lovely couches and carpets from the horrors of an unmistakable and decidedly permanent odor.

9)    Laundry Lady. It’s not the washing that gets to me, especially. It’s the remembering what gets dried and what must hang-to-dry. And the folding. And the re-folding if the husband happened to have volunteered his services. And the stacking. And the picking up of the stacks that inevitably fall to the floor. And the taking care of the wretched piles I so despise—because it seems everyone else is physically incapable of doing so. Ugh.

10)  Conflict Captain and Finder of Lost Toys. I sometimes think if it weren’t for the time spent mediating disputes and searching the earth for someone’s beloved toy, I wouldn’t know how to quantify my worth as a parent. Obviously, I wear other hats, too (see #s 1-9), but somehow they don’t seem as noteworthy. Not in the eyes of my children, anyway. After peace has been restored to the land and/or someone’s irreplaceable stuffed animal has been found, I am reminded, once again, that my post might not be thankless after all.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (longing to subcontract certain aspects of parenthood).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Rantings & Ravings, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

Groundhog Day in the Trenches of Parentville

Over the years my kids have sung my praises for some of the strangest reasons on record. Stuff that I would never have pegged as especially impressive or particularly noteworthy has apparently contributed to my so-called “awesome factor.” In my children’s eyes I’ve been viewed as such anyway. No one could be more stunned by this news than I, having resigned myself to being viewed primarily as the resident taskmaster and bedtime enforcer.

Indeed, it has come to my attention that occasionally I wow Thing One and Thing Two with what I consider to be merely pedestrian deeds. Case in point: I can mimic the cries of a mourning dove, whistle on a blade of grass and wing a mean Frisbee on command.

Further, I’ve been known to skip stones ad infinitum, to crawl inside blanket forts with glee and to wile away the hours creating sidewalk chalk villages that, evidently, are to die for. What’s more, I allow a certain couple of sombodies to concoct vats of whateverness in the kitchen sink and to commission discarded fry pans as sleds—a small price to pay in the name of thwarting boredom, methinks.

Likewise, I fashioned a board game once (because, of course, it begged to be borne) and I made up perhaps the most ludicrous math fact activity in existence—involving, of all things, the severed head of a dilapidated and otherwise forsaken doll. Who knew my progenies would deem my peculiar “talents” as nuggets of parental wonderfulness?

“Not I,” said the oblivious one.

At any rate, I am pleased to have met with at least some measure of success in the trenches of Parentville (i.e. my kids actually like me some of the time and believe that I didn’t just crawl out from under the Stupid Rock, contrary to popular belief). Indeed, it’s those completely undeserved and unprompted “Mom, you’re awesome!” moments that I savor most, squeezing every drop of goodness from the wellspring of their minds.

There are other, seemingly interminable moments, however, that shove me to the brink of lunacy, compelling me to step into my Mommie Dearest shoes wherein I implode over the most asinine of child-related transgressions (i.e. the proverbial wire hanger scene). It is precisely then that I am filled not only with feelings of guilt and frustration, but also with an overwhelming sense of being misunderstood and unappreciated as a mom. As one who constantly picks up shoes, bath towels and sodden snow pants; empties backpacks, fills snack bags and remembers library books et al.; scrubs chunks of toothpaste from the sink, mates sweat socks galore and rids the world of hamster poo and massive quantities of decomposed fruit. Joy.

It’s not as if my charges are incapable of performing the abovementioned duties. Nor do they balk when I demand that said things be done. I guess it’s the repetitive nature of the task that gets my goat. The necessity of repeating: “Please carry your dishes to the sink…push in your chair…hang up your coat…rinse your retainer…turn off the light…shut the door…clean your room…and for the love of God flush the toilet!”

Sometimes it feels as if I’m trapped in a vicious cycle of parenthood, living the same hideous wedge of time over and over again—much like Groundhog Day, the 1993 comedic film starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Time and again, I go through the paces, having the same conversations, making the same idle threats, picking up the same slack. Needless to say, the natural consequences I’ve employed in the past for inaction have been, at best, pathetic attempts to change behavior. I’m the one who stubs her toe on the rogue chair, steps in the pool of slush now seeping into the carpet and trips over the stupid shoes in the hallway.

Like the flick, it seems, much of the frustration I feel can be traced to a groundhog named Phil. Indeed, I’m hoping that later today that celebrated rodent of yore will crawl back into the hole from whence he came (having viewed his shadow, or not), causing my day in the trenches to end and February 3rd to commence. Better still (i.e. if the gods of whistle pigs are smiling upon me), perhaps I’ll harvest something worthwhile from my failed attempts to motivate my brood, promising a better tomorrow for all.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (on Groundhog Day and every day).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Know Thyself, Hamster Mom

Several weeks ago, I made a solemn vow not to tread anywhere near the swirl of controversy surrounding Amy Chua and her latest contribution to the literary world, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Given the satirical flavor of my headline, however, it should be apparent to all that I fell short on that particular endeavor. Color me weak, yet again; having failed to resist said mother-of-all temptations (hangs head in shame).

For those unfamiliar with the highly publicized title and the wave of discontent it spawned among parents, journalists and bloggers virtually everywhere, Tiger Mom is a so-called memoir penned by a woman eager to share the secrets of raising hyper-successful children, warts and all. Children who weren’t allowed to attend sleepovers, to watch TV, to be in a school play, to get any grade less than an A, or to play any instrument other than the piano or violin. Children upon whom unreasonable—and some would argue, cruel—demands were placed relative to their studies and music lessons. Children reduced to nothingness during their formative years with hurtful words like “garbage,” “lazy” and “pathetic.” Children who have excelled beyond all imagining in the realm of academia and music because of, or perhaps, in spite of their harsh upbringing (i.e. At 11, Chua’s youngest daughter auditioned for the pre-college program at Juilliard School while at 14, her eldest daughter performed at Carnegie Hall).

Impressive, no?

Having read a fair number of slightly appalling excerpts from the book, various editorials and reviews (as well as Chua’s Wall Street Journal piece itself, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior), I’m not at all surprised by the uproar created in its wake. Who wouldn’t generate a frenzy of buzz with statements like “…Westerners seem perfectly content to let their children turn out badly,” and “…the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child.”

That said, Chua, a Yale law professor and mother of two, does not disappoint in the name of fueling the fires of dissent—nor does she fail to recognize that in the almighty book industry there is no such thing as “bad” buzz. No one said the woman was stupid—she just has a “different” parenting style, although I use the term “different” loosely here.

Given that I typify a “Western” parent, a term she claims to have used loosely to describe the lax methods that many Americans utilize in child rearing, I can’t help but dwell on how completely divergent our views are. It’s likely that my laissez-faire approach to raising a family would make her cringe—followed shortly thereafter by an overwhelming compulsion to light me on fire. Hypothetically speaking, if Tiger Mom herself were to step into my pathetic little corner of the world (which would never ever happen in reality because my ineptitude and proclivity toward namby-pamby-ism might then seep into her pores, rendering her tyrannical nature grossly and hopelessly impaired). But if she were to darken my door, I suppose I’d have to own up to who I am. To “KNOW THYSELF,” as the adage so boldly states.

Indeed, I’m no Tiger Mom. In actuality, I’m more of a Hamster Mom—fond of delicious wedges of sleep and given to cuddling (and likely coddling) my brood in lieu of demanding perfection from them 24/7. What’s more, I spend a large portion of my waking hours spinning my wheels and bouncing from task to task at a frenetic pace—never mind the often directionless and unproductive nature of such activities. Further, I’ve been known to shower my progenies with “feel-good” blurbages regarding both their extraordinary accomplishments and mediocre attempts to produce. And unlike Chua, I do concern myself with the nurturance of their psyches—when a certain someone’s clarinet squeaks and while another wrestles with long division. Perhaps, especially then.

Likewise, I let my children do a fair amount of that-which-is-deemed-enjoyable, to include climbing trees and whatnot (BEFORE) they complete their dreaded schoolwork. On occasion, I have even allowed them to skip (gasp!) portions of their homework because a) it was obscenely time-consuming b) my children were scheduled to participate in eleventy-seven other things that evening to include sporting events and play practices or c) the academic endeavor itself qualified as a bona fide project-from-hell and necessitated the summoning of a small team of marriage counselors in order to manage our collective frustration. What’s more, I permit my charges to attend sleepovers (with the very real possibility of encountering unmannerly children), to wile away the hours on Photo Booth (performing perfectly ridiculous skits), to become engrossed in the idiocy that is iCarly and Pokémon (even though I loathe both more than words can adequately express) and to play (oh, the horror!) kazoos.

It’s rumored I let them giggle, too.

No doubt, Tiger Lady would feel a niggling desire to rid me from the earth, likely branding me as a reprehensible creature that doesn’t deserve the opportunity to raise a child, let alone three.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (embracing my inner Hamster Mom).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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In the Eye of the Beholder

Contrary to what I’ve alluded to in the past, my kids are not monsters. And although I might have actually used that term on occasion to describe them, they’re not the unruly beasts I’ve made them out to be. They don’t howl at the moon, froth at the mouth or frantically paw the refrigerator when I forget to feed them.

Nor do they growl, unless provoked.

But apparently I know not of which I speak. Evidently some high and mighty prude who has seen my act begs to differ regarding the matter of my having or not having fiendish little children. Further, she’d likely argue the point if given the opportunity. Vehemently, I might add. All I’d have to do is invite Her Haughtiness to return to that happy place where she witnessed (i.e. heard, but could only imagine the scene that unfolded behind the flimsy partition that separated us) the mayhem with which I had to deal just four days before Christmas, crammed and jammed impossibly inside a restroom stall which was clearly ill-equipped to accommodate a mom and two cranky six-year-olds itching for Happy Meals.

I have no doubt the woman in question would be more than willing to sprinkle me with her wealth of sagacity, to dazzle me with her bells and whistles regarding behavior management and child rearing, to enlighten me with a report of everything I’ve done wrong as a parent thus far in my thankless journey—to spell it out for me on the terracotta tiles with French fries: YOUR PARENTING SKILLS SUCK AND YOU’D BE BETTER OFF RAISING CHICKENS, YOU DUMB CLUCK!

She might have a legitimate point. But probably not enough fries to say so.

Everyone knows that McDonald’s isn’t the ideal place to change clothes. Nor is it wise to instruct ungainly children to do so there—demanding from them a degree of perfection that is at best, unachievable. But there I was—parading my little waifs through the joint like some transient-sorry-excuse-for-a-mother, en route to the bathroom to supervise (oh-so-incompetently) the changing-out-of-pajamas-and-into-real-clothes gig. Make that abundantly muddied PJs. “I fell down on the playground today, but I didn’t get hurt, Mom—the mud was FUN!”

“Lovely. Just lovely,” I thought. “We now appear even MORE pathetic than I previously considered conceivable.”

Granted, it had been Pajama Day at school and it made perfect sense for my kids to be dressed as such (as well as still jacked from all the sugar they had consumed during the pre-holiday festivities). But no one else knew that. Most of the patrons I passed probably pegged me as someone who lives in squalor and who makes a habit of hauling her brood there to wash up and whatnot. In reality, however, we were simply using the loo as a staging area for a meltdown, which qualified as a performance of a lifetime as I recall. Prude Lady could testify to that at least.

Incessantly, it seemed, we bickered about who would get to stand where, who would go first, who would hold coats and bags and sneakers, who would get to flush (and when said flushing would take place), what did or didn’t happen during the Polar Express movie and whether or not a certain someone blew a kiss to a boy earlier in the day (“…because that’s not allowed, Mom; only hugs are okay!”).

Ostensibly, this meddlesome witch witnessed the entire routine, likely pressing her ear to the wall so as not to miss a single syllable. As expected, the debate continued within that tiny theater and escalated until it became a pushing and shoving match, spiraling out of control with each combatant furiously shrieking “YOU!!” while shoving a finger in the other’s face.

“She LICKED my finger, Mom!”

“She called me ‘YOU’ first!”

And so the battle raged. Throughout the ordeal, I was painfully aware of a disapproving audience hovering just inches away, and I felt the familiar sting of humiliation and frustration. All the while I snapped and snarled through clenched teeth, “Get your sleeve off the stinking floor!” “Don’t drop that into the toilet!” “Stop hitting your sister!” “Hurry up already with those pajamas and keep your socks ON YOUR FEET!” “Your father’s waiting, you know!”

How could I possibly explain myself, justify my children’s behavior or even show my face once I stepped outside the stall that had become my personal shield from the world? Miss Holier-Than-Thou would be waiting there for me, wagging her finger. Demanding answers. Chiding. Judging.

“Little monsters,” she’d also likely spit.

Oddly enough though, she had few (albeit barbed) words for me when I finally braved it. “GOOD LUCK!” she huffed condescendingly, as I hoisted my heathens to the sink to wash—their anger all but diffused and differences long since forgotten.

I couldn’t help but think she doesn’t get it. She only saw a tiny slice of my day and a mere shadow of the relationship I share with my children. She thinks my kids hate each other and that I must completely loathe my lot in life as their mom. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s important to take time to view the picture in its entirety. Snapshots don’t always tell the whole story.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "S" is for Shame, Holiday Hokum, Kid-Speak, Normal is Relative, Ode to Embarrassment, The Natives are Decidedly Restless, Vat of Complete Irreverence, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

Please believe me, oh great giver-of-gifts, I know you love my children dearly and that you’d do almost anything to make them happy this Christmas. You’re a kind and generous soul. And make no mistake about it; I’ve recognized (with the help of countless reminders) how hard my heathens have tried to be good and grateful and well-mannered these past 351 days. But in the interest of preserving what remains of my sanity, would you please give some consideration to the following bit of information?

1)    For the record, I don’t need any lizards or llamas, bats or birds, real live chicks or even eggs that will hatch. Nor do I have any desire whatsoever for an ant farm and an accompanying anteater (“…in case it breaks open and ants are crawling EVERYWHERE, Mom!”). Furthermore, I have absolutely no use for a potbellied pig or a goat for that matter. Are we perfectly clear on that? NO POTBELLIED PIG. NO GOAT. Period. Also, please ignore all future requests—maddeningly incessant as they might be—for another cat. Seriously. Perish the thought.

2)    Additionally, please take note: it is totally unnecessary to spoil my charges by spending $54 (EACH!) on flimsy pajamas that happen to match those worn by the very dolls they begged for last year. That’s simply ludicrous. Get a grip, Santa. Give Mrs. Claus a new nightie or something instead.

3)    Moreover, bear in mind that I have yet to summon the strength necessary to parent those who thirst for danger. More specifically, those who would willfully and gleefully ride a skateboard, a motorcycle or roller skates down an impossibly sheer slope. Blindfolded. On fire. During an earthquake. I have enough trouble tolerating the wretched scooters they so adore. Perhaps by next year I will have purged from memory my own horrific skateboarding disaster (i.e. the face plant I made one summer afternoon on a gravelly patch of pavement at an inordinately high rate of speed). But who could forget eight stitches? They were purple. And stubbly. And infinitely intriguing to all my friends who wanted to touch the freakish goatee I had seemingly sprouted from my chin. That being said, please refrain from delivering any of the aforementioned instruments of evil.

4)    Bratz, begone! I trust this emphatic petition is self-explanatory, oh Jolly One. Barbies, by contrast, are perfectly acceptable in this household. Besides, I find it largely disturbing that many among our sprawling Barbie community have lost heads and limbs for whatever reason. Intactness would be a welcome change.

5)    Also, if you must darken my door with all-that-makes-noise (I mean music), I beg of you that each sinful device (read: trumpet-kazoo-recorder-drum-keyboard-microphone-guitar-tambourine-maraca-like piece of idiocy) be suitably equipped with soundproofing, some sort of on/off switch or at the very least a volume control thingy. Thank you, in advance.

6)    Also, kindly be advised that my humble abode lacks the space necessary to house the grand and glorious, five-story kitty hotel that my kids have been whining about since the middle of summer. Honestly, it is outlandishly opulent, highly impractical and offensively massive. If you so much as think about bestowing such a monstrosity upon us, I will have no choice but to forego the cookies next year. You can count on broccoli instead, you silly little elfin man.

7)    What’s more, I would be immeasurably displeased to discover a pile of pretend dog poop in anyone’s stocking, never mind those repugnant Walter the Farting Dog creatures. Egads!

8)    Furthermore, Santa, read my lips: NO MORE SILLY@$$ ELECTRONIC GADGETRY. I am appallingly inept when it comes to programming any and all gizmos of a technological nature. I hereby resign from said post effective today.

9)    And for the love of God, NO MORE WATER BALLOONS, GLITTER GLUE OR BATHTUB TOYS. They are the bane of my existence. Enough said.

10) And sweet Jesus, please, please, please don’t bless us with another puppy this Christmas—at least not one that routinely gnaws on furniture, pees indiscriminately, consumes chew toys, destroys leashes (four and counting), eats holes in the carpet, nibbles on Frisbees, plastic Army men and Barbie stilettos, considers deer droppings a delicacy and is entirely bent on causing bodily harm during jaunts in the great outdoors—via our garrote-like tether coupled with a frenzied demeanor and the pirouette dance I have grown to know and loathe. I simply cannot handle another floppy-eared bundle of joy. Not now. Not ever.

11) I would, however, be thrilled to receive an indestructible dog leash dipped in Kevlar, perhaps, and maybe a ridiculously huge cardboard box. Empty, of course. The one you so graciously left for my brood three years ago was far and away the most fabulous item under the tree. It was the gift that kept on giving—till early spring, as I recall.

Sincerely,

Planet Mom

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Cat Chronicles, Doggie Diamonds, Holiday Hokum, Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Kid-Speak, Normal is Relative, Rantings & Ravings, The Natives are Decidedly Restless, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

On the Cusp of Christmas: 12 Days of Lunacy

It has certainly been said that normal is relative. Clichés aside, the only notion of which I am completely certain is that my family is relatively un-normal—especially during the maddening month of December. For whatever reason, being on the cusp of Christmas seems to make those with whom I reside even more deranged than usual. I am no exception.

Once the feathery flakes and the distinctive sound of sleigh bells fill the air (and the bitter cold makes me seriously entertain the notion of spooning the dog), I am smitten with holiday cheer. I make lists. I shop. I hang mistletoe here and a slew of stockings there. I heap great masses of fake pine boughs atop windows and door frames, twisting it unmercifully around banisters and idle children. I devise convoluted and exceedingly impracticable (read: destined-to-fail) plans for that-which-needs-to-be-done-before-Christmas. I begin squirreling away Scotch tape and shameful quantities of wrapping paper that beckon to me from afar. I formulate a cheesy State of the Union/holiday letter in my head, vowing to embellish twice as much as last year. I actually clean—because it is ENTIRELY WRONG to set a crèche full of camels, sheep, the wise guys et al upon a layer of dust so thick it would choke the sweet baby Jesus. Sprinkle me with a wealth of tacky ads aimed at my heart (yet cleverly striking my wallet and guilt-ridden, impulse-buying command center) and I’m well on my way to becoming profoundly immersed in the season of good cheer. Ho ho ho.

Yet it is clear the Yuletide frenzy thing plays no favorites in this household. Indeed, I watched it literally consume a seemingly lucid individual (aka Captain Quirk) as it drove him to hoist his entire body into the far recesses of our attic at an ungodly and completely frigid hour—so that he might haul wreaths, herds of electric deer and plastic whateverness to the lawn. He then hammered a multitude of tent stake thingies into the frozen ground (sans gloves)—so the hoofed creatures would, in theory, refrain from toppling over and making a mockery of his efforts. And let us not forget the colorful language that filled the air that night, the clothes that offered a mere suggestion of warmth and the ferreting-around-in-the-basement for a tangle of extension cords that were decidedly less-than-cooperative—especially when our heathens wove deliriously in and around said lawn luminaries. For a fleeting moment, he foolishly considered stringing lights, too, and hunting for a stupid screw to repair an apparent defect that made our antlered wonder violently jerk its head back and forth.

Thankfully, though, those little thoughts went away.

Of course, the circus-like hauling-of-Christmas-décor could have waited until the wind stopped howling. Or until sunrise. Or mid-damned-day for that matter. Sadly, the man’s thoughts and actions on that particular evening were not related to anything derived by logic. December lunacy had struck with a vengeance.

Later that week, in fact, it led us both to question the notion that we were fairly sensible parents—having succumbed to the irresistible allure of a last minute/late night sale in which we chose to drag our sorry brood through aisle after aisle of wonderfulness kid-tedium on a (gasp!) SCHOOL NIGHT so that we might snatch some good deals on Christmas gifts for friends and family. “Mom, don’t you know we’re THE ONLY KIDS in here?!”

Naturally, my husband and I blame our inexcusably imprudent behavior on the celebrated 12 Days of Lunacy.

Even our charges have been afflicted with this so-called malady, cleverly weaving coveted items into everyday conversations, leaving updated versions of wish lists seemingly everywhere, laying fliers from various toy stores in can’t-miss-it regions of our home and dog-earing favorite pages for our convenience. What’s more, Frick and Frack have been acting peculiar since the first of the month—remembering to flush toilets, to pick up their shoes and to abstain from bludgeoning one another with snow shovels and whatnot. That said, they’ve been minding their p’s and q’s almost to a sickening degree, obsessing over the very uncertain nature of being placed on Santa’s “Nice List” methinks.

A coincidence, no?

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (on the cusp of Christmas). Visit me there at www.melindawentzel.com.

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "G" is for Guilt, "S" is for Shame, Captain Quirk, Holiday Hokum, Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Normal is Relative, The Natives are Decidedly Restless, Vat of Complete Irreverence, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction