Category Archives: kids

“sss-fear”

Tap, tap, tap… tap, tap, tap…

Hey, is this thing working?  Can anybody hear me?

This little old blog of mine is like a favorite hangout of my youth, one I haven’t visited in ages.  I’ve been away so long, and now, upon my return, I find it dreadfully neglected.  It needs some dusting, perhaps some weeding, definitely needs a broom taken to it to clear out the cobwebs.

I’ll try and get on that.

Where have I been? You may wonder.  Or maybe you don’t.  As the lyrics to that Tom Petty song go, maybe you don’t come around here no more, either.  I wouldn’t blame you. I realize it’s not much fun to hang around an old place like this, one where the proprietor can’t even be bothered with its upkeep.

I’ve just been doing other things.  Nothing exciting, nothing worth writing about or believe me, you’d have heard about them. Mostly, work. And reading books (hey, I bought myself a Kindle!), and running.  Lots and lots of running.  But not with the Kindle in my hand.  It seems a little delicate.  I JUST bought it, I don’t want to drop it.

And then, well, Snags is growing up.  And growing up means there just isn’t as much to share. 

There is this, though….

The other morning at breakfast Snags was telling me about the world and how in some parts of the world, because the world is a “sss-fear” (that’s sphere but he can’t pronounce it correctly) people are walking upside down.

“Mom,” Snags asked.  “Do you know why that is? Do you know WHY they can walk upside down and not fall off the planet?”

I was happy. I felt like it was the Final Jeopardy question and guess what?  I knew the answer! (Which is totally opposite of how I feel when he quizzes me about Star Wars, by the way).

“Um… gravity?” I replied.  (You see, I added the “um” before I said gravity so I wouldn’t sound too smug.  I’m a nice mom like that).

“No!” Snags replied.

“Not gravity?” I asked, stunned.

“Nope.  It has to do with the way the earth spins around and the angle it tilts and all that.”

Folks, I was a geography major in college.  I learned a little about the earth and how it spins and its tilt and “all that”.  The kid has mixed up gravity with the seasons.

But I let it go, because here, where we live, we’re in the middle of the snowiest winter on record, and schools have been closed for over a week and the roadways are one lane wide, and snow piles hide stop signs and swallow turn lanes.  It’s pretty grave, for sure.  I can see how Snags would confuse gravity and the seasons.

Now if I can only get him to say “sphere” instead of “sss-fear”.  I’ll try and get on that too. 

And oh, yeah… I’ll be back.

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Filed under blogging, geography, kids, seasons, Snags, snow, Star Wars

Baby Wants An Answer. And Wants It Now.

Last night, I sat near my seven year old son as he drifted off to sleep.  The lights were off, the room was quite, and I was about to leave when he rolled over and suddenly said, “Tell me a telling story, tell me about something funny I did when I was a baby.” 

“Okay,” I said.  “But only a short story.  It’s already past your bedtime. Let me think for a moment.”

But before I could begin to think of which baby story to tell, he interrupted my thoughts with, “How do babies get born anyway?  How do they come out?  Like how did I get out of YOU?”

My mind reeled.  I was frantically searching for answers.  For lies.  For anything I could use on this curious child to change to the subject and get him to go to sleep.  I’d already used “Shhhh! Be quiet and watch the movie!” when he’d asked that question during one of the opening scenes of Narnia: Prince Caspain the previous weekend.  Having already been used, that option was out.  Besides, we weren’t watching a movie at this particular time.

“Uh, uh, um…” was spiraling through my head. Not very helpful, I might add.

“Look!  Monsters!” I could have screamed.  Even, “Shhh… I hear something.  Did you hear that howling?”  I thought to ask.  “It sounded like a werewolf, don’t you think?” 

I contemplated any number of his fears, something to steer his mind in another direction entirely: fires, burglars, tornados, earthquakes… but he’d gotten SPECIFIC.  “How did I get out of YOU?” He’d asked.  And then also, I kind of wanted to get some sleep myself.  Scaring the shit out of him right before bedtime wasn’t really in my best interest.

In my desperation I considered this reply:  “You know, I don’t really remember, that was SEVEN years ago. Now go to sleep.” But even I knew that was lame. In fact, at the exact moment I thought of it, I could hear in my mind his likely response, “Mom! You remember. Tell me!”

And so I went with the only thing I could think of and tried to tell the truth as much as I could to my seven year old son.  And as I did so, I related things to a prayer, to squeezing muscles and to water balloons, and my son laughed wide eyed and wondered about poop.

“Well,” I said.  “You know, babies don’t really grow inside a mommy’s tummy.  At least not in the same place the food goes when the mom eats.  The mom has something inside her called a uterus.  It’s also called a womb… like in the Hail Mary prayer, the part where you say “…of thy womb, Jesus”  The womb is the uterus where the baby grows and it’s small and empty inside the mom’s body at first but as the baby grows inside the uterus, it stretches.” 

“Like a water balloon,”  I added.  “It’s small when it’s empty but when you add water it stretches out.”

“Okay,” my son said.  “But how does the baby get OUT?”  “Well…” I said, stalling to gather my thoughts.  “When the baby has been growing in the mommy for 9 months and is ready to come out, the body’s muscles squeeze really tight and push the baby out.”

“Like a water balloon,” I added again.  “If you fill the balloon with water but don’t tie the end of it, the water shoots back out again.” 

“Like POOP?!” He giggled wild eyed and nearly manic. 

“Well… uh… um… sort of like that, but the baby doesn’t come out in the same place that poop comes out.”  He was still giggling and, I could tell, slightly mortified at the thought of a baby coming out covered in poop. I imagined he was thinking about the woman on TV who swallowed her engagement ring whole after her boyfriend hid it inside a milkshake.  She had to retrieve the diamond ring days later, after it had made its way thought her digestive system.  She had to clean her own poop off the ring before she could wear it.

“What do boys have?”  I asked.  And he eyed me suspiciously and said with some alarm, probably imagining a baby emerging from one, “A PENIS?!” 

“Right,” I said. “BOYS have a penis. But girls don’t.  What do girls have?”

“A vagina!” He said. 

“Right!” I said.  “The mother’s body pushes the baby out of the uterus and it comes down a little tunnel and out the vagina.”

“Babies are small but they are kind of big.  So how do they FIT?” He wanted to know next.  So I explained again how the tunnel stretches just enough to fit the baby through and then once the baby is out, the uterus and the vagina shrink back to normal. Like an empty water balloon.

(A special thank you to whomever invented water balloons, by the way.)

“Oh, okay.”  He said, sounding bored now that he knew the baby didn’t come out the poop hole.  “Good night, mom.”  And just like that he rolled over and went to sleep.  This morning, thankfully, his questions were all about polygons.  Not babies.  

But just in case, I think I’d better go to the library and look for some age appropriate books.  Ones that hopefully will have some better explanations than I was able to come up with.   And the liquor store.  I think I’d better buy something to make myself a stiff drink.  I may need it when his classmates’ parents start calling tonight demanding to know what I told my son and why he’s repeating it to their innocent seven year olds who all know the stork delivers the baby.

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Filed under babies, children, kids, life, motherhood

Sunday School, Weenie Sabers, and The Sign of the Cross

I confess:  I miss the lazy Sunday mornings, the mornings where I could stay in bed, or if not in bed, at least in my pajamas, until almost noon, reading a book while Snags watched cartoons.  If we went to church, it was to the last mass of the day, but mostly we didn’t go at all. 

Now though, Snags is enrolled in Sunday school.  Our neighbor is his teacher. Her son is Snags’ friend. Two more of his friends from first grade are in his Sunday school class as well.  He enjoys it, and I’m glad.  Some weeks my neighbor drives him to Sunday School and my husband and I pick him up at the end and we all go to Mass together.  Other weeks we drop him off ourselves and go to mass while he’s in class.  Snags has decided we should alternate this.  One week he’ll go to church, the next he won’t.  I think he wants to ease back into it.

Most recently, Snags learned how to make the Sign of the Cross.  Last Sunday he happily reported: “Mom!  I earned a gold star for doing the Sign of the Cross right today!  I only had to do it twice to get it right!” 

“Wow,” I say in response.  “That’s great!”  I think back just a few weeks prior to this when he held up both hands and made an X with his forefingers.  “Isn’t THIS the Sign of the Cross?” he asked.  “No,” I said, “That’s more like the sign against vampires.”

Snags goes on to explain that it was difficult to make the Sign of the Cross in front of his Sunday school class because he was facing the class and because he holds the Wii nunchuck in his left hand… And no, I don’t have any idea what the Wii gaming system has to do with making the sign of the cross.  We have Wii Sports and We Ski, Star Wars the Force Unleashed, and Star Wars Legos, the Complete Saga.  Nowhere in that mix have I happened upon Wii Catholic Church, the Sign of the Cross (nunchuck required).  Go figure.

Next up in Sunday school learning, if you’re in First Grade and want to earn another gold star, is memorizing The Our Father.  “We can’t read it,” Snags informs me.  “We have to memorize it.”  I worry that he’ll mix it up with the rules of Tae Kwan Do he has to memorize.  Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, I’ll always finish what I start, sir!”

I didn’t realize that I was supposed to be teaching the rules of Tae Kwan Do to Snags.  I’d read them myself, of course, but when I got to number two, “I will always be a good brother or sister, sir!” I put the book away figuring that didn’t apply to Snags, as he’s an only child.  A week or two later his instructor corrected me, put it into perspective, and said to think about it in the biblical sense.

Which brings us back to Sunday school.  As Snags was going on about having to learn the Our Father, I thought to warn him that the Hail Mary is HAIL Mary, and not Hell Mary, as I once thought.  But before I could even form the sentence completely in my head, Snags took another breath and said, “And then we have to learn the Hell Mary!”

Hail Mary,” I said, trying to suppress a laugh.  It’s “Hail Mary.”  There isn’t a cuss word in the prayer.  Snags started to get upset, he hadn’t meant to say a bad word.  I tried to reassure him, told him how I also thought it was Hell Mary when I was a kid, but that it’s not.  The apple, they say, doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Or is it, Great Minds Think Alike?

I keep meaning to tell my neighbor, the Sunday school teacher, about the Hell Mary.  That maybe she ought to explain to the children the difference between Hail and Hell, Fire and Brimstone, whatever.  But then her son was playing in my yard the other day, playing with plastic light sabers, fighting a battle against evil.  He took the light saber, stuck it between his legs, and deemed it a Weenie Saber. 

I’d mention this to my neighbor, but then Snags has been going around and using his favorite tag blanket as a whip. We recently let him watch the first Indiana Jones movie, the one where Indie goes in search of the Ark of the Covenant, the container that held the tablets of stone that the Ten Commandments were written on.  Only Snags doesn’t call it the Ark of the Covenant, he calls it the Ten Commandments Box. 

I wonder if it’s big enough to hold a Weenie Saber?

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Filed under boys, church, humor, kids, life, parenting, Snags, Star Wars

Back to Normal

Strange things have been happening around here lately.  Strange things with my son.  Or should I say, strange things with this stranger who looks like my son, and sounds like my son, but is… strange.  A stranger.  And it’s all of a sudden, and while I should be happy, at least about some of it, I’m not, not so much.

This is the kid who for 6 ½ years could not hold a pencil correctly.  He started out, naturally enough, using a fist grip, eventually moving on to some mangled version of a half fist grip.  When he was 3, and then 4, and then 5, daycare told us they would correct that.  Their main “goal” every year, was to teach him how to hold a pencil correctly.

They failed.

At a parent-teacher conference last year I discussed Snags’ odd pencil gripping ways with his teacher.  I expressed my concern that while yes, his hand writing was very legible, perhaps there was something we should still do? Some way to teach the kid to hold a pencil correctly? Because everything I’d tried had failed.  She suggested rubber pencil grips and where to buy them, then confessed that she had never learned to hold a pencil correctly herself. Then she proceeded to prove this sad point by writing a note on a pad of paper with a nearly identical half-fist grip.

And so.  Snags started first grade with the same bad pencil holding form.  And mostly I didn’t care.  He could write clearly.  But still. When Snags’ first grade teacher sent home a form where parents could write down any concerns they had, I made a quick note about the way Snags holds a pencil.  I turned in the note and didn’t give it another thought.  If six and half years had taught me anything, it was that this pencil thing just wasn’t that important.  Or Snags was very stubborn.

But then.  Snags came home from school this week and said he had a surprise for me.  He smiled as he showed me the new way he was holding a pencil.  The new PROPER way to hold a pencil!  And then… he wrote his name, holding the pencil in the new and proper way!  I fainted.

Okay, I didn’t really faint.  Instead I asked, “Who ARE you and what have you done with my son?”  I was laughed at in return.

But this pencil thing?  It’s the tip of the iceberg of strangeness around here.

Suddenly, Snags, the child who can’t be bothered to put away his LEGOs, wants to clean.  He wants to FOLD LAUNDRY.  He WANTS to MAKE HIS BED every morning. He wants to WASH WINDOWS.

This morning?  He asked if he could shake out some area rugs and then he got a broom and swept the kitchen floor.  He wanted me to hold a trash bag open so he could dump the dust pan into it.  And I was all “Look, this is really nice of you to want to clean up but OH MY GOD it’s only 6:30 in the morning and all I really want to do is relax a bit and eat my breakfast.  Can’t you do this LATER? Tomorrow? After school?”  Tonight he wants to vacuum.

In an effort to have a few moments of fading morning quiet in the midst of a million repititons of “I’m bored, what can I do, PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE?”, I agreed to let him “wash” the windows.  He pulled out a bottle of Windex, ripped off a single paper towel.  He spayed and wiped haphazardly over the inside of the glass door in the kitchen, quietly humming to himself before stepping outside into the dawn to clean the outside of the glass.  He worked away at a few spots, singing.  

He picked up the bottle of Windex again, holding it at eye level, working hard to pump the top and spray the door.  Except he had the nozzle turned the wrong way.  He sprayed himself directly in the eye.

He’s fine, now.  I watched as it happened from inside the glass.  The spray bottle dropped to the ground.  Snags, temporarily blinded in one eye, staggered inside.  “I sprayed myself in the eye!  Will I be able to see again?” He asked, alarmed, with the Windexed eye squinched shut.

I led him to the bathroom, where I flushed his eye with water, assuring him he would be fine, and sent him on his way.

When I came downstairs, I fully expected him to be cleaning the glass again.  But the dropped bottle of Windex was gone, the lone paper towel had been thrown away. Snags’ urge to clean had, apparently, been wiped clean by one shot to the eye.

I found him, like in days of old, like last week, before he learned how to properly hold a pencil, before he turned into Mr. Clean, on the floor of the library, in the middle of a large pile of LEGOs.  He looked up as I walked by, he asked a single question:

Aren’t you going to PAY ME for cleaning the windows?

I think about this for a moment, and tell him maybe.  Maybe later.  I don’t have any cash on hand at the moment.  And also, I think to myself, I didn’t ASK him to clean the windows.

But I might pay him later.  A few dollars for his ambitious in thought, if not in deed, effort.  And then I think I’ll bill him back for the medical care I had to administer.  Eye flushing is mighty expensive these days.  And accidents are preventable if you know which way to aim the nozzle.

And that Windex?  It’s pretty good stuff.  It brought my child back. I can finish the rest of my breakfast in peace, without some crazed Mr. Clean running around me in circles with a bottle of cleaner and a paper towel, begging me to plug in the vacuum.  Instead, I get to listen to him whine that he can’t find a particular LEGO piece amidst the hundreds and hundreds of LEGOs he’s spilled all over the floor. And I know, life is back to normal. A new and improved normal - one in which Snags can hold a pencil correctly.

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Filed under cleaning, kids, LEGOs, Snags

My Fault

Last Thursday night my husband and I returned from Back-to-School Night to find Snags and the babysitter relaxing on the sofa as they raptly watched Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase.  Actually, I think the babysitter was probably itching to leave and go home already, but Snags begged her to stay until the very end and so she sat, for the remaining 20 minutes of the movie, and did exactly as Snags instructed: “Watch this!  Watch!  Watch this part!  Watch!”

When we finally let her make her escape, Snags announced that he had a sore throat.  My husband gave him Children’s Tylenol and sent him to bed where all was well…  Until 2:30 in the morning, when Snags woke up felling very ill, and vomited.  “I feel better now!” he said, somewhat jubilantly, as he stepped back to flush the toilet. 

Friday morning dawned, and Snags, while not feeling entirely up to snuff, was able to eat a slice of toast and drink some water.  Since he kept that sustenance where it belonged, in his stomach, and he had no fever, just the same sore throat as the night before, I decided that he should go to school.  Because that vomiting?  Maybe it was just a fluke.  Maybe the Tylenol didn’t agree with him. And also?  It was only the second week of school.  You can’t start raking up absences in the second week of school.  Because the school?  They’re keeping score

It was also show and tell day.  Snag’s first grade teacher was bringing in a snake skin that her dog had sniffed out in her yard.  I mean, how cool would that be?  A kid with just a sore throat wouldn’t want to miss that, right?  Plus, said kid with sore throat had his own cool item for show and tell: a hornet’s nest knocked down from our roof (don’t worry, we sprayed it with killer bug spray and stuck it in a ziplock bag).

And so Snags got dressed and set off for school.  I kind of expected a call from the nurse that day, but it never came.  Snags soldiered on and stayed in school all day.  That afternoon I even took him, with his sore throat, to get his hair cut.

Saturday dawned dark and gray and the skies opened and rained upon us.  But it didn’t matter.  Snags was still fighting that sore throat so we stayed home where it was warm and dry and we could watch TV and play board games.  But by evening, Snags was decidedly miserable.  His throat still hurt, and he had a slight fever.  He was so miserable that he decided it was all MY fault.  As if I’d opened a box a sick and poured him a big bowlful of it for breakfast.  Here, eat this.  It will make your throat sore and you’ll get really grumpy and mean and blame me for your illness.  Good stuff.  He blamed me because I’m not.a.doctor.

“This is the WORST virus EVER!” he cried, over and over as he shot piercing accusatory glances in my direction. 

I tried to make him feel better.  I told him how I bet a bunch of kids in his class at school had sore throats too.  Because that always happens when school starts back up in the fall.  Kids get sick.  Viruses go around.  Snags, I said, could rest assured that he wasn’t the ONLY one feeling under the weather. It was just a virus, he’d fell better in the morning, I was sure.

And the thing about a bunch of kids in his class having sore throats too?  Ahem…cough… cough…  It’s probably true, NOW.  Because this morning we took Snags to one of those health clinics that’s open on Sundays with the hope that they’d do something to stop his whining and complaining and blaming… and they did!  They gave him an antibiotic for his STREP THROAT.  His STREP THROAT that I unwittingly sent him to school with on Friday.  His STREP THROAT that he started complaining about on Thursday night.  When the babysitter was here.

And so I’d just like to remind the babysitter, that I paid her very well, and she should think of anything else that she may have received on top of the cash I handed her as she walked out the door, as a special kind of bonus!

Mea culpa.  But then again, Snags was right.  I’m not.a.doctor.

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Filed under illness, kids, life, parenting, Snags

Perfect Insanity

There are certain things that drive me to the brink of insanity and they are these:
The sound of the dog licking her paws at night when I am trying to fall asleep.
The sound of cellophane crackling.
The sound of Snags playing Perfection in his bedroom at five o’clock in the morning.

That last one?  Heard it this morning.

The rule is, the kid is supposed to stay IN BED, and preferably in bed ASLEEP, until 7:30 a.m.   And that is the sole reason why I bought him a digital alarm clock.  So there could be no mistake on the hour. 

When I decided I’d heard enough, heard enough plastic pieces rattling around, heard enough small explosions as the timer ran out and the Perfection pieces flew into the air, I shakily climbed out of bed and opened his bedroom door. All the while repeating to myself, “it’s just a noise, don’t kill him.  It’s just a noise, don’t kill him…” 

GO.BACK.TO.BED! I nearly barked. 

He looked at me mildly, said, “But Mom, I’m just playing Perfection.”

GO.BACK.TO.BED!” I said again, perhaps a bit louder this time. “You don’t play perfection in the middle of the damn night,” I added as I turned out his bedroom light and yanked the door shut behind me.

“It’s not the DAMN NIGHT!” he cried back at me from behind his closed door. 

He’s been crying a lot lately, this child of mine.  I’m not sure but I think it’s the stress of first grade. Summer is over and now he can’t spend endless hours playing video games or building starships out of LEGOs.  In first grade, unlike kindergarten, there are no naps.  The kids have to be up and alert like the rest of us, for a full six hours straight. That kind of paying attention can wear you out, wear you down.

Snags comes home from school in the afternoons and lies upon the sofa.  He watches whatever cartoon he can find on Nickolodeon, his eyes glazed over.  He denies being tired even as he yawns, even as he “rests” his eyes.

And little things are getting to him.  Little things are setting him off.  Like yesterday, when I made him set the frog free. Snags caught a frog, or maybe it was really a small toad.  I don’t know.  I’m calling it a frog.  He brought it home and made a home for it inside an old aquarium that he set out on our front porch.  He put in some water, and some rocks and the frog.  And then he more or less left him there, in the aquarium, all alone.  He played with the frog sometimes, but he didn’t feed him.  He dropped the frog at least half a dozen times on its head, on the pavement.  I’m sure the frog, if he had the ability to think, must have wondered if he’d been captured and sent to Gitmo.  There was the small room where he was kept, Snags the guard who occasionally tortured him by manhandling him and dropping him on his head, and there was the isolation. Left all alone in the aquarium, in the bright sunlight, for days on end.  Five days to be exact.  And then there was the starvation. I’m not sure what frogs eat but I assume they eat bugs.  And no bugs were flying into the aquarium.  And the frog wasn’t let out to hunt on his own.  By yesterday I’d had enough and told Snags he had to set the frog free.

He went out to do so, but reluctantly.  I followed him out to make sure he did as I had instructed. He told me that he’d opened the frog’s mouth and looked inside.

 “HOW?”  I asked. 

“Want me to show you?” He said. 

“Yeah,” I said, curious now. 

But Snags wasn’t having any luck.  The frog’s mouth wasn’t opening.  In fact, the harder Snags tried to open the frog’s mouth, the harder he pressed upon the frog’s… chin? neck?, the more I feared he was going to rip open the flesh of the frog’s throat. I couldn’t bear it and so I asked Snags to stop.  I yelled at Snags to STOP.  Let the frog go NOW.

And Snags got upset.  “YOU NEVER LIKED FROGGY!”  He screamed, tears streaming down his face. “YOU DIDN’T LIKE HIM FROM THE MOMENT I GOT HIM,” he cried.  His face was red, contorted in anger.  His eyes bulged. Except for the tears I think he was a perfect picture of me, the way I felt when I heard him playing Perfection in the middle of the damn night. In the blink of an eye, the leap is made from peaceful calm to perfect insanity. Over a noise. Over Perfection.  Over a frog.   

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Filed under anger, boys, frogs, kids, life, parenting, Snags

A Beer by Any Other Name…

I was fixing lunch for my six year old son, Snags, the other day when he asked me, “Mom, how did you and Dad name me?”

“How did we decide to name you Snags?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said.  “Where did you get my name?”

I thought this was an interesting question.  I wasn’t sure what prompted his interest, but I figured he deserved an answer. 

The larger truth is, we just liked the name Snags.  The details behind that larger truth are what I explained to Snags.  But maybe I shouldn’t have.

“Well,” I said to him, “When your Daddy and I were in graduate school together, we knew a man with your name, and he was a really nice guy, just like you are.  So right away we kind of liked the name.”

“And then one day,” I went on, “You’re Daddy and I went out to lunch at a restaurant in the city.  This restaurant made their very own brand of beer called Snags Ale.  They even had coasters they served your drinks on.  They’d bring your glass of iced tea or soda or beer, or whatever you ordered to drink, and put it on a coaster that said Snags Ale.  Ale, by the way, is a kind of beer.  Anyway, when we saw the coaster it reminded us again how much we liked the name Snags.  And I even took one of those coasters home with me!”

“And now,” I said, “We even have these glasses, like the one you are drinking out of that we bought from that very same restaurant, and the glass as you can see, says Snags Ale on it.  So you have drinking glasses with your name on it!”

That is when Snags interrupted.  “So let me get this straight,” he said.  “You named me after a BEER?!”

“Well, uh… not really,” I stammered.  “Remember, your Daddy and I liked the name Snags.  There was that nice man at graduate school.  And OH! also there is a character in a movie with your name, and it’s a good movie too, and so when we saw the coaster with the name of the beer on it, it just reminded us that we liked the name Snags.  So you see, we didn’t really name you after a beer.”

“Actually,” Snags said, “You kind of did.”

I guess now that the truth is out I have nothing left to do besides wait for the day that Snags is given a homework assignment to research his name.  I can see his classmates standing up to report that “I am named after my grandmother, Mary…” or “I am named after my great uncle Paul.” 

So now I’m thinking, that to avoid the inevitable meeting with the principal when Snags stands up to report that his parents named him after a beer, I am going to teach him to recite this: 

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Snags.
What’s Snags? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a beer. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a beer
By any other name would taste as good;
So Snags would, were he not Snags call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title…

Or maybe I ought to just leave well enough alone.

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Filed under beer, humor, kids, life, parenting, Snags

Stuck in a Pile of Baby Parts

I don’t know how it happens that I am always the one that gets caught, like a deer in the headlights, with the hard questions.  With questions like, “Mom, tell me everything you know about babies!”

My first thought, when Snags asked me this two nights ago was, as always: “Where the hell is your father now?”  Followed by, “Why don’t you go ask him?”  But once again, I held fast.  I sat there, rooted to the spot by my panic, and trying to stall.

“Um… what do you mean, exactly?” I asked Snags.  “I don’t know what you are asking.  Tell me specifically what it is that you want to know,” I added, desperately hoping for some clarification.  Because I know a lot about babies.  I know they pee and poop, cost a fortune in diapers, and cry and cry and cry and keep new parents awake ALL.NIGHT.LONG, but I had a feeling that wasn’t what Snags was asking.

I was right.  It wasn’t.

“Tell me,” he said, “like how babies are made and where they come from and all that.”

And ALL THAT?

I don’t know if Snags heard the little part of my brain that up and died a screeching death as it wailed in horror, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not THAT!” I think the sound was so high pitched that only dogs could really hear it. When it happened, I didn’t hear anything myself, but I felt it, and a few seconds later I heard some dogs barking outside.  I went blind soon after that.

My eyesight slowly returned as I thought to myself, “No, this is not REALLY happening, is it?” But there sat Snags with an look of eager anticipation on his face that would surely have landed him a spot in a Heinz commercial if they had come knocking at that particular moment.

Only they didn’t.

So I asked Snags for a bit more clarification and he said: “Well, I mean does God build the babies by putting two halves of them together, like the left side and the right side?  Or does he build them by taking all the parts, like the legs, and attaching them to the stomach, and then does he screw on the head like this?” (pantomimes screwing a head on to a baby – note it had a LOT of threading, because he had to turn and turn and turn that invisible head onto the invisible baby).

“Ah,” I said, nearly crying with relief and understanding.  This was less about HOW babies were made than it was about how babies were MADE.   I almost laughed out loud.

“Well,” I said cautiously, “I think that babies actually grow, kind of like a plant, from a seed.  I guess God gives a seed to a mom and a dad when they really love each other and then it grows into a baby.”

Snags seemed happy enough with that explanation.  He didn’t ask how the seed gets into the mother.  When he does ask that question I am going with one of two answers: “Go ask your father!” or “She eats it.”

Still, Snags had one more question. 

“Well then,” he said, “The thing I don’t understand is, if babies grow from a seed, how come they have this line down here?” (pointing to towards his perineum).

“Hmmm…I don’t really know,” I said.  “Maybe that’s just how the seed grows into a baby.”

“Or maybe,” Snags said, “Maybe that’s the medicine hole.  If a baby is in its mommy’s tummy and needs medicine but closes its mouth, maybe there is a hole there and they could still get medicine to the baby that way and then it closes up when the baby comes out or however it gets out.”

I pretended to ignore his comment about how babies “get out”. 

Instead I said, “You might be right.” And I pondered two things: a misplaced umbilical cord, and the pillow I made in Home Economics in 7th grade.  The pillow was made by sewing three quarters of the way around on the reverse side of the fabric.  Then the pillow was turned inside-out (or right-side out as the case may be) and stuffed with pillow stuffing. The small opening was then stitched shut by hand, leaving a bit of a seam.  Not unlike the perineum, I suppose.

Lucky for me, it was bedtime at that point, and Snags didn’t ask anymore questions as he settled down to sleep.

I however, had a question.  Actually, two: Where the hell WAS his father?  And why, once again, was I the one stuck with the baby questions? 

Okay, I admit, there was a third question:  If God really did screw our heads on, why can’t we turn them all the way around, like an owl?

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Filed under babies, humor, kids, life, parenting, questions, Snags, where do babies come from

Field Day

Field Day.  Did you have this when you were in school?  A day, or maybe only half of a day, dedicated to being outside, on the playing fields around the school, participating in track and field events?

God, how I hated field day when I was a kid.  I remember elementary school and the annual field day.  It would be blistering hot outside and we were forced to participate in competitive sports: relay races, the 50-meter dash, the long jump, broad jump, an obstacle course, and then for fun, a tug-o-war.  But the teachers kept score.  They had stop watches and clip boards. The fastest runners, the best jumpers, they won medals and the praise of the teachers around them.  The rest of us?  Me?  The loser(s).  I wasn’t fast enough to win a race, couldn’t jump far enough to win a medal.  So I’d trudge from event to event in the hot, hot sun with the added burn of shame on my shoulders, not good enough, not good enough.  No medal.  Not a winner.  Not good enough.

And then, like to rub it in, I got to stand there as they built the teams for tug-o-war.  Not fat, but somewhat chubby. Chubby enough to wait and wait and wait until they were running out of students and were looking for the anchors of the team.  Here’s a hint.  Just because a girl can pinch an inch, doesn’t mean she’s a hulk.  It doesn’t mean she can pull your entire team of skinny high jumping fast kids from the brink of the mud puddle.  So you shouldn’t all turn on her when she doesn’t whip out bionic arm powers and fling you all across the fields to the parking lot, away from the puddle.  Get over it already.

No, I haven’t.

That was 1976… perhaps. 

And now, it’s 2008.  And my son’s elementary school does field day.  “Oh, no!” I think.  Not that. Anything, but that.  All the old feelings of inadequacy come storming back.  I don’t want my son to feel that way.  I don’t want field day to be a bad memory for him too.  I keep my mouth shut, but I shudder at the thought.

Parents are invited to watch the field day events.  If participating in them isn’t bad enough, I think watching from the sidelines will be even worse. I can feel like a loser all over again even when I’m merely a spectator.

But I go anyway. 

And who knew there were 20 different ways to hold a relay race?  Field Day.  It would be more apt to call it 20 Ways to Relay Day.  There is the 911 Frog Relay where you pick up a large rubber frog wrapped in white bandages, and you run across the grass to drop him inside the hula hoop with the red tape in the shape of a hospital cross. And the Hamburger Relay where you run over to a desk masquerading as a grill, pick up a spatula, and slip over bean bags pretending to be hamburgers before you run back and tag your team mate.  Then there is the Water Relay where you dip an overturned Frisbee into a bucket of water to fill it up like a platter, move as quickly as you can across an expanse of grass (with minimal spillage) to an empty bucket where you dump the Frisbee full of water.  The team with the most water in the bucket wins, uh, nothing.  But the kids get wet and they have fun anyway.  Nobody is keeping score.  Not the teachers. Not the 5th graders manning the stations. Not at the beach relay or the water sprinkler relay or the obstacle course.  Not the kids who are covered in mud and don’t care.  And not me.  I’m just watching.  And not feeling like a loser.

I catch the gym teacher and casually mention how much better this is than when I was a kid.  “Competition,” she says, “Who needs it?  This is just for fun.” 

“Besides,” another teacher chimes in.  “These kids,” she says, tilting her head at the running kindergarteners, “They can’t really follow rules.  They cheat.  It wouldn’t do any good to keep score.  This is just for fun.”

Just for fun.

For fun.

FUN! 

Later in the evening, when my son is home and the mud from the field has been washed off, we’re talking.

“Mom,” he says.  “There is a game called Dodge Ball.”

“Yes,” I say.  “I know.  We used to play that in gym class when I was a kid.  Why?  Is your class playing Dodge Ball?”

“No,” He says, sounding relieved.

“Do you know how to play it?” I ask.

“I think people throw things at your head!” he says, alarmed.

“Well, they throw balls at you, but they aren’t supposed to throw them at your head,” I say. “Maybe at your chest or your legs.  Definitely not at your head,” I say, and he audibly sighs.

He sounds relieved.

But then he offers a new twist on the old game: “I know what would be fun,” he says. “Dodge Cinderblocks!”

My eyes widen in alarm.

“You,” I say, pointing at him for emphasis, “Will NEVER be in charge of field day!”

And that, I think, is one game I won’t ever play.  Even if it is for fun.

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Filed under humor, kids, Kindergarten, life, parenting, Snags

3 A.M. I Hate You

Why is it that kids always get sick in the middle of the night?  What is it about 3 a.m., anyway? 

3 a.m. is the time of night morning I tend to wake up for no discernable reason at all, and then struggle to get back to sleep as my mind makes up lists of things to do and stuff to worry about and just generally races around like someone on speed until the sun peeks over the horizon in the morning.  At that point, right after Snags wakes up and bounces into my room demanding breakfast?  That’s the point that my mind settles and says “Okay, I’m done thinking.  Why don’t you go ahead and drift back off to sleep now…” Only Snags is standing at my bedside announcing each passing minute of my digital alarm clock…

Mom, it’s 5:56.  5:57, 5:58, 5:59…

I’ve taken to telling him that nobody is allowed to get up before 7:00 am, but to no avail.  He’s up and he’s not willing or able to go back to sleep for another hour.  And my brain is so exhausted from the 3 a.m. thought fest that even 7:00 is too early.  I need to sleep until 10:00. 

But there is school and work and 10:00 is just not possible.  If I’m lucky, Snags will wander downstairs and watch cartoons until 7:00 when he comes back up the stairs and demands breakfast.  Which he could get himself.  It’s not like I cook the kid a hot meal every day.  But you know how it goes, Rice Crispies taste better when poured into the bowl by mom…

Three a.m. this past Monday wasn’t so different.  Except for the vomiting.  Yes, that woke me up.  Snags ran into our bedroom and announced that he thought he was going to be sick.  I told him to run to the bathroom.  He did, where he proceeded to vomit, once, a small amount, into the toilet.  As he should.  But then, for some inexplicable reason, he argued with me about needing a towel and when I didn’t give him one, he decided to vomit again, a lot more, right there on the bathroom floor, NEXT to the toilet.  Apparently turning his head was too much effort.  Or the vomit in the toilet bowl was too gross to look at.  Like road kill.

That’s when the screaming commenced.  My screaming.  At poor, not feeling so well, Snags.  For vomiting on the floor then crawling through it and spreading it around when really, all he had to do was turn his head slightly to the right and aim into the toilet bowl, and for God’s sake, stay STILL.  I swear to you, if I had done that when I was a kid my mother would have beaten my backside with one of my dad’s belts.  Think you don’t feel good now?  Stay right there until I come back.  Now get UP and bend over!  Smack…

Instead I just stood there and yelled.  Then I cleaned up the vomit and took the offending clothes and towels to the basement where I scrubbed them out in the deep sink and threw them into the washing machine.  To run twice.

Then I took a can of Lysol and sprayed down every door knob and faucet and light switch in the house.  At half past 3 a.m.

Snags went back to sleep after that, and I lay awake in bed wondering what on earth compels a child to vomit on the floor next to the toilet instead of in the toilet he is kneeling in front of.  And I felt bad for the yelling.

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Filed under kids, life, parenting, Snags