I’ll Give You Something to Cry About

Those are the words that my parents spoke to me when I had the audacity to cry over something that they deemed ridiculous. Now, my definition of ridiculous and theirs varies greatly. When they told me that my cat ran away to get married, I cried. They consoled me that Squeaky was going to be just fine and would live happily ever after with his new family. Years later, I discovered that Squeaky did not run away to get married. More like my parents left a door open and Squeaky got hit by a car and was killed. Shedding tears after getting belted across the face (ahh, the good ole days) was NOT a reason to cry. That was deemed ridiculous and would lead to the ominous warning of “Knock your shit off or I’ll give you something to really cry about.” Luckily for me, I was a relatively good child. I did not push the limits to find out “what else can go wrong?” I tell myself that the beatings and warnings made me stronger. The truth is, it probably just totally destroyed my self-confidence and self-esteem (Thanks Mom & Dad!). However. As a parent, I now understand the meaning behind this threat. Drama Queen girls.

crying girl

Earlier today I heard the screams of pain and suffering. I run like the wind up the stairs. This is no easy feat as I am absolutely what I like to call The Big O. Old, Overweight, and Out of Shape. I push through the door at the top of the stairs, eyes clenched shut tightly (I hate blood), and yell “WHO IS HURT?” It is my 5 year old niece who I watch a couple of days per week. She is holding her hand, wrapped in an entire roll of paper towels. I yell “Did you lose a finger?” She is crying and sobbing and hiccuping so much that I can’t understand her. I take a deep breath and look. And see nothing. I peer closer. Finally, a drop of blood, the size of a pin needle, appears. “I got a paper cut and it is bleeding so much.” No it’s not. Not even remotely close. My inner Mom is now battling with my inner strong woman. I am trying to console her. I intend to say “It’s okay, baby. It’s going to be fine.” What actually comes out is “Really? You need to save your tears for real tragedies and this is not one. You are totally overreacting.” She stares at me and stops crying. I am now blotting her finger, the one not gushing blood, with a baby wipe. I am telling her “It’s nothing, you’re okay.” I attempt to peel that tiny bit of skin that always sticks up when you get a paper cut and you’d think I was telling her that I was about to amputate. She starts flailing and trying to hit me. Now, I’m not into hitting kids. I’m not actually into hitting anyone (other than very stupid customers). I take her by the wrist and say calmly “Auntie will never hurt you. I promise, I’ll never hurt you. We just need to remove this so we can put a Band-Aid on. She ain’t havin’ none o’ that. She assumes a karate position and is ready to fight me to the death. The crocodile tears start again. And at that moment, my mother popped out of my mouth. “Please stop crying or I will be forced to give you something to cry about.” She stops and says “What will it be?” Foiled by a 5 year old because I have absolutely no answer. I never pushed the limits so I don’t actually KNOW what comes next. I tell her “You don’t want to know. It’s sooooooooo bad.” She giggles at me. She knows I will not do anything drastic. She sits on my lap and says “Why I gotta be strong?” I had an answer for this one!

first aid kit

I told my niece “You have to be strong because women are responsible for many things in life. Lots of things hurt, like having a baby, but we do them. When a woman is sick she will still get out of bed and take care of her family. When one of her kids is hurt, she will put aside her own fears and show them that she is there for them, she won’t want anyone to see how afraid she is. Then there’s the kitchen. She will burn herself over and over on that darn stove but she has to feed her family so she will just keep cooking.” She looked at me and said “Women strong.” I said “Baby, you have no idea. Now, about that amputation…….” At that point my brother walked in to pick her up. I announced to him “The patient is in Room 2 and is NOT heavily sedated. You should do something about that.” LOL.

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The Value of a Dollar

Most of you know my true identity. It is far from being a breeder girl with a stable full of kids. I have 2 kids which are commonly referred to as Bonnie & Clyde or Hansel & Gretel. My husband and I have been very lucky to be able to give our kids pretty much everything that they’ve wanted. This comes with a far higher price than you would think, though. You think you’re doing the right thing only to realize that you’re raising a couple of kids who have absolutely NO idea about the value of money or hard work. I’m a worker bee, it’s what I do best. So, to have asked my 12 year old daughter what she wants to be when she grows up was a lesson in humility. This is an actual conversation that took place last night.

hansel-and-gretel

Me: Gretel, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Gretel: I was thinking about it and I want to be a vLogger. I can make a lot of money doing that.

Me: No, I mean, what do you want as a career?

Gretel: Mom, that’s what I want to do. I’m going to be a vLogger.

Me: And what do you consider “a lot of money?”

Gretel: I can make at least $20 a week.

And that is where a piece of my soul just curled up and died. You could hear the shriveling of my hopes & dreams for this child. I don’t want to be a dream killer but as a parent (I still can’t believe someone trusted me with this job) I had to do my part to instill some logic into this child. We then had a long conversation about a career where you make money and stability and savings, the importance of being frugal and not living bigger than your income, debt, and the fact that I will NOT SUPPORT YOU FOREVER! She is convinced that $20 a week is just fine. When I told her how much money our house payment was per month, she laughed and said “That’s why I live with you. I don’t have to pay for it.” Well, that and the fact that she’s 12 and there are laws that prevent me from tossing her sassy ass out. But, all night I was plagued with nightmares about her future. Which  brought me to a new plan of attack. I am going to teach her a very valuable lesson that will help her in the future. Many people may think that it’s cruel but I am positive that no one ever told me that life is fair. I pay taxes, I know unfair. I thought long and hard for hours about how to turn around what I’ve done wrong with her. My evil plan worked and it made her cry (Definitely not my plan, I hate when my babies are sad), but I’ll be damned if I raise a kid who wants to earn $20 a week.

My plan went something like this. Today was allowance day. It’s really on Sunday but I was tired and didn’t feel like paying them. So, today I gave them each $20 in assorted bills of 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s. They were both giggly with their allowances. Until I announced “Well, now that you’re both old enough to earn money, it’s time you go the full battle.” I asked each of them to put their $20 on the table. I then told them “Ok, you each owe me $5 for this week for your rent. Rent is what you pay when you live in a house and it’s a small price to pay.” They looked at each other and begrudgingly gave me back $5. I then said “Ok, now you both used the lights in your rooms and the central a/c. That’s $3 please.” They each hand over $3. I said “You both have iPads that use wifi. You now owe me $2 for the use of my wifi.” By now they’re reaaaaaaaaally unhappy. I then said “How was breakfast?” They mumble “Thanks, Mom, it was good.” I said excellent, you each owe me $4 for the food that you ate. Groceries aren’t free.” They practically throw it at my head. Then I mentioned that they each took a ride in my car this week, which means they have to contribute to the car payment & insurance, which was $2. At this point, they’re hyperventilating. My son yells “CAN WE GET GEICO AND SAVE 50%?” We have Geico, that’s WITH the discount, son. You watched my TV and that is the cable bill. So, you each owe me another $2.” By now, Gretel has crocodile tears running down her face. I smile and say “But Gretel, remember last night when you said $20 is plenty of money? How much do you have left?” They are both slumped in their chairs and say “We only have $2 left. We earned $20 in allowance money and now there’s only $2. What do we do with $2?” I replied “I’m so glad you asked. You always put 50% of your leftover money into savings. That’s $1.” So now, out of all of the money you earned, you paid your bills. That leaves you $1 for the whole week for things you need or want.

Piggy_on_Money1

I’m sure there are far better methods of teaching kids the value of money, but I like this one. They can see what they earn and see their financial responsibilities and hopefully want to have a greater earning potential. Make no mistake, neither of my kids will truly ever go without or be homeless. That would make me an epic failure as a parent. I will always be there to pick them up when they fall down. But, they don’t have to know that yet, right? It’s me and their dad’s little secret. No one ever taught me about money as a kid. Probably because we didn’t have any. Then I had the good fortune to have a strong work ethic and a desire for better. I like to call us “very low middle class.” We’d be doing a lot better had someone taught me when I was younger about money. And not to spend it like a drunken sailor when you finally get some..lol.

So, though I did not push Hansel & Gretel into the wood stove, they are pretty sure that they were robbed and abused today. Let’s see if next week they work to earn more money so they have more left over or if I’m going to need a 3rd job for when they’re all grown up.

Enough Guilt to Go Around

I, like so many millions of other people, spend a good portion of my day on Facebook. There is just something so alluring about reading people’s thoughts, seeing their clean living, watching them raise perfect kids, while enjoying time with their significant other who is obviously THE BEST PERSON EVER. Then there’s me. By the time summer vacation from school comes around, I can barely name my own kids, have sent them to school with the dog’s lunch and not their own, and probably even mumbled “Don’t bother getting up today, it’s not like you’re learning anything.” My dog is hefty, as so many people like to point out. More days than not, my husband and I are plotting on how to kill one another in our sleep, without leaving trace evidence. I blame Abby from NCIS for that. Before becoming a fan, I’d have taken my chances and rolled around in his blood for the sheer enjoyment of it. Now I try to figure out where to buy acid, with cash, while wearing gloves, and walking away. Such are the trials and tribulations. Dinner is usually ready when the smoke alarms go off. I tell myself that I’m a success because at least I’m showing up. I am a compulsive liar to myself. It helps keep my inner guilty person at bay. Sometimes.

Recently on Facebook there was an explosion about Cecil the lion who was brutally murdered. I cried for different reasons. First, the loss of a majestic animal is heartwrenching. Then there is the loss of compassion and humanity from humans. THEN I started seeing posts with starving children. With headlines like “You are outraged about a lion but not these kids.” My inner Catholic guilt kicked in and I was sad for the kids. I’d feed them all if I could, but I can’t. My kitchen isn’t that big, my wallet isn’t that fat, and I wouldn’t know what to cook for them. Within hours, there were more. There was “You all care about lions and starving kids but WHO IS CARING ABOUT PLANNED PARENTHOOD?” Well, I care about them, too. When I was young and broke, and needed female things, that’s where I went. I once had to cross a picket line to go inside to get birth control. The protesters were wonderful people. They threw things at us, shoved photos of aborted fetuses in our faces, and screamed obscenities. I was around 19. I remember thinking “All of this because I need the pill?” Ah, to be young and naive again. May I never return. I am still surprised that people think it’s okay that I don’t feel guilty enough. I don’t care about a wide range of topics. Do you think any of them ever asked me? Of course not. I care about a lot of things. However, I don’t like to announce all of them and ruin the mystery. For example, I am actively involved with English Bulldog rescue. I will beg for every nickel you have, without remorse, to help these babies. I do feel bad about Cecil, the deal with Iran, starving kids in other countries, abused women, and the fact that the cost of eggs has significantly risen, thus ruining my fave breakfast. I will happily sit with you and listen to you tell me every single cause you support. What I will not listen to is you telling me which ones I should support. Or, that I’m uncaring if I don’t support enough. There are plenty of martyrs in this world. I’m not one of them. Unless I’m blackmailing my kids into helping with laundry.

NO-GUILT

I am never going to be Mom of the Year, Wife of the Year, or Philanthropist of the Year. I will shed tears for many different things, many of which you’ll never know about. It’s not your business. You don’t get to tell me that I have to feel guilt for something. This includes my mother and my penchant for eating ice cream for dinner. Because I can. With so many billions of people in the world, you are guaranteed to have at least 1 person caring about an issue that you care about. And really, all it takes is one person to bring about change.

Kitchen Battles: Lost

I am not a good cook, although I do love it. I always feel so grown up when I am chopping fresh food to serve my family. Most of what I know I learned from a cookbook or Food Network. I am currently sitting here dreading the thought of making dinner. You may wonder why. The husband and kids decided they wanted lobster and shrimp tonight. I feel that I should mention that I do not eat any seafood at all. The closest I come to seafood is a tuna sandwich, slathered in mayo, every now and then. Now and then being slang for “once in a blue moon.” I have no one to blame but myself, though. I had to run to the grocery store to pick up a few hundred things and they tagged along. This means several things. First, my bill is going to triple, no questions asked. For a group of people who are pretty picky, they instantly decide they have outstanding taste and money is NO OBJECT. Mom is paying, go crazy. Dad is not much help, either. So, while I’m at the deli trying to decide on cheapo bologna or cheapo ham for lunches, they are at the seafood counter buying live lobsters and shrimp. I am also one of those crazy couponers. It’s nothing for me to buy $100 worth of stuff and pay only about $20. So, I usually begin hyperventilating while at the register when the crew tags along. As I see my total climbing like an overfed ivy plant, my heart is pounding and my hands get cold and tingly. My husband, who thinks my couponing is “cute” leans in and whispers “Breathe. Really. We NEEDED this stuff.” Sure, 6 different types of Ben and Jerry’s. Absolutely on a list of needs.

So, I get the checkout done and the car packed. Get home and unload the groceries. It’s then that it all begins to fall apart for me. My husband comes downstairs and says to me “Don’t worry, the lobster is in water.” I ask him “Do you mean you’re boiling it for me? I can’t kill something to eat. This is Boston, not the <expletive> Wild West. I do not hunt my food. As far as I know, there is a chicken tender tree that spits ’em out and packages them, and I buy them in the grocery store. He says “It’s much too early to boil it, it’s in water to keep it alive.” At this point, I start seeing stars. I start bleating like an angry animal “Why are you keeping it alive? Don’t you have to kill it? I am NOT going to boil something alive. I will go to hell. Can you get a towel and just smother it first or something? Give it a pill and make it sleepy and then use the couch cushions to kill it.” He looks at me as if I am deranged. He’s not too far off at this point. The thought of killing food is too much for me. lobster

He laughed at me and walked away. I am not going upstairs to the kitchen to find out that there’s a living lobster in my sink just splish splashing away, unaware that he’s about to die a painful death in a pot of boiling water so that someone can butter his ass up and call it a meal. I have placed 11 online Pizza Hut orders in the last hour. I have yet to hit Send on any of them. See, what I know about cooking from the Food Network is simple. You are supposed to be a chef. I’m not a chef, so I should not be cooking. I could cut myself or something. Pizza it is. It is far preferable to going upstairs and finding out there’s a lobster doing a backstroke in the kitchen.

The Unamusing Amusement Park

Kids. Darling, loving, bratty kids. I have 2 of them. One boy, one girl (sounds like a country song by Tim McGraw). They are currently 12 and 13 and I refer to them as Bonnie & Clyde. The truth is, they’re both actually really good kids. They have kind hearts, a desire to rescue English Bulldogs (we have one of our own), and to torment me on a daily basis. They outnumber me, 2 to 1, and enjoy outsmarting me.

This summer has been fun but not out of this world. We tried explaining to them that summer is their vacation, not ours. We still need to eat so we still need to work. They’re not buying it. “But if we own the company, can’t you make someone else do it?” I am 99% sure I am raising a tyrant. I wouldn’t work for my kids, they’d be rotten bosses. Luckily for them, we had the chance to take them to an amusement park last week. I am not sure who coined the term amusement park, simply because I am not amused to pay $180 just to get in the doors for 2 adults and 3 kids. Notice the extra kid? That’s my bonus kid. She is here every now and then to visit. She would be my 9 year old niece. So, back to whining about the cost to get into the park. $180. I squeaked “Is that dollars or pesos?” The window worker didn’t look amused. Again, who called this amusing? I pay the entry fee and mumble all of the way to the flume “2 weeks, 2 friggen weeks of groceries, that’s what I paid to get into this place and it is 11am and already 95 degrees out. This is just stupid.” I had not yet experienced stupid. I knew nothing of what I spoke at this point. So, they run for the flume. My darling husband asks “Are we going with them?” It’s 95 degrees but I don’t typically ride the rides any longer. You can usually find me at Ye Olde Country Store stuffing my pockets with hard-to-find penny candy. I say “If you want.” Of course he wants, it is 95 DEGREES OUT HERE.” We agreed I’d sit in the back because I have a few issues. Ok, more issues than Cosmo. They arrange you by height, though. So, shortest to tallest. Guess who is shortest? Of course that’s going to be me. Little did I know, when you get to the top of this horribly grinding, noisy, unstable ride, it takes one of those cutesy photos for you to take home as a memento. They then sucker you into paying $18 for the picture. So, my husband, who IS aware of the photo, sneaks over and buys ours and the one of the kids. He cannot control his laughing. Like, I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to throw myself on the ground and scream “WHAT IS SO FUNNY?” He finally takes the pics out and shows them to me. I stare. And stare. And even stare longer. I am horrified. I look like this. flume

No. Not the smiling pretty blonde. The kid who just wet his pants in the back seat. I beg him to throw it away. He won’t do it. I offer him anything he wants. ANYTHING. I mean, shit, a divorce is possible if that’s all he wants, just give me that damn picture. He’s saving it for a special holiday. Beneath my love for him, I hate him. He now owns a photo that I would never show the world. Mean bastard.

So, the kids ride each ride about 300 more times and it’s only 2pm. They each need a drink at $7 a piece. At 2pm they’re whining “We’re hungry and hot. Can we go home to the pool?” I said “We just got here.”  Cue the insta-whining. “But it’s hooooooooooot. We’re huuuuuuungry.” We pile them into the car and stop to get them lunch. While inside, spending another $45 to feed these terrors, my darling, sweet, insane and naive daughter, says “That was fun but I wasn’t done. Can we go back tomorrow?” Did I mention it was $180 to get in? It was a long silent ride home from the restaurant.

My daughter, who is absolutely my child, swaggers away. I hear her tell the others “Yeah, we’ll be going back soon. Mom’s head was exploding but Daddy knows it means a lot to me.” There’s a sucker born every minute and my husband drew the short straw. I can hardly wait for our next adventure. This weekend we’re going to the largest Folk Festival in the US. We go every year. Pray for rain.

Please Don’t Breed

You may be wondering where I came up with the title for my newest blog. Interesting story, really. You know how people see a headline from a news agency and it’s glaringly wrong or misleading? Well, lucky for me, I saw one today. I merely commented that the title was misleading. You would think that I just told a crowd of hungry wolves that dinner was going to be a little late. They turned…rabid..for lack of a better word. Backstory: A restaurant owner in Maine, fed up with a child who was screaming for 4 or 40 minutes (conflicting reports) and fed up with the parents ignoring the screams, walked over and slammed the table and screamed at the child. I said many times that the parents were wrong for allowing the other diners to be disturbed, that the child should have been taken outside or food boxed up to go, and that if you want to dine out and ignore  your kids, to visit a Chuck E. Cheese. I think that’s a fair assessment of the events. Which prompted one internet keyboard warrior to reply to me:Dean Gilvin 2

Now, at first I was caught off guard because…well..too late. I have two kids and have been “bred.” Then I realized several things. 1. I am offended that this is not easy to do (give birth) and has been reduced to something made to sound dirty and done by an animal in a pile of blankets out in a barn. 2. That this man, who has never met me or my children, has labeled me a bad parent, and 3. That I would be okay with a screaming child for an extended period of time. Hell, if I was there, and it’s not MY kid, I’d have walked over and given the child his or her pancake. Simple enough. Prior to having my own children, I’d have likely walked over and stuffed the pancake in the child’s mouth and poured the syrup over the mother’s head while shrieking “CONTROL YOUR CHILD.” Parenting has made me a bit more tolerant and patient. A bit, not a lot.

Let’s call this guy Dean. Mostly because his name is Dean. Dean doesn’t respect women, which I politely pointed out. I also asked him if he had reading comprehension issues, which most likely did not endear me to him. So unfortunate. You would think by now, failing to antagonize me, that he would let it go. But, Captain SmartyPants can’t. He has to keep at it. Someone has the audacity to call him a bully and he replies, much like that 2 year old, “I am not talking to youuuu.” Dean can’t help himself, he has to have the last word. dean 3

I am not quite sure who won this “fight.” I like to think I did by staying calm and not replying with what was REALLY going through my head. He kept throwing punches at my gender, my children, and my sense of entitlement (where do I buy one of those?). To tell a woman “Please don’t breed” seems to be the epitome of an insult. I would say he’s just jealous that he can’t breed, but I highly doubt he has the strength to handle it. He’s much too busy beating up women on the Internet who say it’s not a good business plan to scream at a customer’s 2 year old child. Hey, just my opinion. Seeing as how I own a business and I know that customer loyalty will waver in a New York minute if you do something they don’t approve of. Either this business owner will be laughing all of the way to the bank or crying when the foreclosure note shows up. Only time will tell!