Tag Archives: tactless children

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

Church Mice. Not So Much.

I am a bad egg. My sorry soul is supposed to be parked in a pew currently, helping my dear husband manage our unruly brood during the Sunday service. So, of course, I am consumed with guilt. Not really, but I threw that in…on the off chance that I might be absolved of my sins.

That said, I am fairly certain that Thing One and Thing Two will be far more intrigued with the prospect of quietly tormenting each other (i.e. holding disturbingly intense stare offs and using those cussed little wooden pencils readily available to each and every parishioner as cattle prods or something equally heinous) than with attending to anything remotely related to the sermon. I’ve seen their act before.

And if, instead, they should refrain from pedestrian antics like stepping on one another’s fancy church shoes and colliding, ever-so-slightly, as they fall in line for communion, they’ll likely engage in behavior equally mortifying to a parent. This parent, anyway.

More specifically, their inordinately resourceful father will hand them each a 3-by-5 index card and an ink pen for doodling and whatnot, which, on the surface, seems perfectly wonderful to one and all. However, those clever wisps of mine routinely choose a less-than-virtuous topic about which to write (say…the fact that they are dreadfully un-enthused with the notion of attending church at all) and run with it.

Case in point: I glanced over at Thing One not long ago, to bask in what I had hoped would be parental glory, only to discover that she had literally FILLED every nook and cranny of white space on the card with the word B-O-R-E-D. Some words were decidedly plain, while others, indescribably ornate. Some had been artistically shaded and sketched, some were imbued with beloved fonts and a select few even contained (you guessed it) bubble letters. As one might expect, a couple of B-O-R-E-Ds were comparatively massive, while most were shockingly small.

Needless to say, the child’s efforts were indeed impressive and I had to quietly marvel at the diligence and determination required for such an undertaking.

That is not to say the act went unnoticed. Curious onlookers stole looks and raised eyebrows at the smallish being in question, hunched over her work, rebellion oozing from her pores. Naturally we passed the Masterpiece of Shame on to our friends sitting nearby, who had great difficulty containing their amusement. Translation: THE FRICKING PEW SHOOK. They would later ask for a copy of said opus to remember the occasion by and we, of course, would deliver.

Framed, no less.

Appallingly, and perhaps STUPIDLY, we also shared the specimen with none other than the man who delivered the sermon that day. Our pastor. Thankfully he found the kernel of humor in the whole ordeal…and within our flaws. Parental and otherwise.

That said, I ought to be grateful that my heathens aren’t among those routinely plugged into Game Boy and dropping Bakugan whateverness on the floor. There is a God.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (where the natives are often restless and the 3-by-5 cards are never in short supply).

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel


Filed under "G" is for Guilt, "S" is for Shame, Me Myself and I, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

Dining with Heathens (Continued)…

(Please recall, if you will, that my motley crew and I happened to be dining in a rather swank establishment, where I was appalled YET AGAIN by the uncouth nature of mealtime discussions). That said, shock value rules…

“Mom, Taylor needs you in the bathroom.”

“Whatdaya mean she needs me?”

“You know, Mom. She neeeeeeeeds you. Plus she said the toilet might overflow.”

Of course my mind played worst case scenario (as it does so capably), racing forward to the hideous spectacle we’d become should such a foul catastrophe actually occur. I pictured the crowd, agape and aghast, their satiny napkins clutched in horror, silverware and China clinking and clanking as patrons pushed and shoved to escape the river of repulsiveness snaking its way across the floor where we dined.

Fortunately, it wasn’t our day to be a spectacle. I mumbled a small prayer of thanks into the folds of my napkin upon my return from the restroom. Yet another crisis averted. But the boorish banter at the dinner table continued.

“Dad, Mom took us to see the coolest thing this morning before we got on the bus! It was a DEAD BIRD! A DEAD BABY BIRD! I wanted to touch it, but she wouldn’t let me so I just poked it with a piece of grass. I even blew it a kiss! I could see its little beak and grayish feathers and everything! It was SO cool! Jack tried to eat it, you know. Mom said he rolled around in it later—which is just plain gross. Why do dogs do that anyway?”

Of course, this handily surpassed another mealtime discussion we had had about dog poo in recent months. “Dad, Jack made a little sculpture with his poop today! I call it the Leaning Tower of Poop! I told my art teacher what he did and she laughed so hard she couldn’t breathe. It was SO funny! Mom should really take you to see it before it tips over. It’s like a real tower you know.”

Prior to that, the worm discourse had comfortably held the top spot. “Dad, I’m saving every little wormy I find outside,” one of my weirdish children announced with pride as she delved into a bowl of spaghetti. (Gag me!)

“They’re part of my special collection,” she added. “Just like my rocks (Lord, how could we forget her dear rocks?!). So I’ve started putting my wormies in a big bucket in the garage. It’s their worm bed, Dad.”

“And guess what,” her partner in weirdness chimed in. “One of those guys pooped in my hand and it was DIARRHEA! Ewwwww!”

Like I said, I’m often appalled by that which is deemed newsworthy at the dinner table. Indeed, shock value rules—now and forever.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Kid-Speak, Meat & Potatoes, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Dining with Heathens…

As a general rule, I am appalled by the uncouth nature of the discussions that waft over our dinner table each evening, filling our house with the familiar stench of gaucheness. Last Thursday was no exception. Mind you, my husband and I were dining at a rather swank establishment, living in abject fear that one or both of our heathens would say or do something that would mortify us beyond comprehension.

Not that we’d be surprised.

“Mom, these carrots taste like the inside of a shoe.” Oy! Thank God the waitress had already flitted back to her lair by the time that snippet of speech tumbled forth for the whole fricking world to hear. Out of earshot, as it were. Ostensibly, anyway. I surmised that Grandma and Grandpa, who were also present at said grand and glorious soiree, would then call into question what we had been teaching our dear charges for the past nine years, specifically with regard to table manners (or the lack thereof). But apparently, they remembered well what it was like to be embarrassed by a brood of tactless children—one of whom happened to be me.

“Honey, is that a nice thing to say?! How on earth would you know what the inside of a shoe tastes like anyway?” I scolded, swallowing a melon-sized chortle and glancing around to see if anyone had heard the carrot comment or, worse yet, had detected my shameful amusement with the whole affair.

“I licked Daddy’s shoe once and that’s EXACTLY what these carrots taste like,” she spat, unleashing her inner-food critic upon us all.

Needless to say, at this point in the discussion I fell silent—both stunned and disturbed by the information I had been supplied, as well as indescribably mortified by its implications. I mean, what do you say to a child who has admitted to having tasted a shoe?! Much less, the INSIDE of a shoe?!

I’ve got nothing for that. Zilch. Nada. No pat little responses exist in my repertoire of snappy parental comebacks for such an inane remark.

So we moved on—to the next set of things for which I was unprepared.

To be continued…

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Kid-Speak, Meat & Potatoes, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction