Category Archives: kids

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

Defective Parts

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to request an exchange on my son’s olfactory parts.  It seems that when you supplied all the parts for this child of mine, you accidentally inserted a vulture’s sense of smell into him in lieu of a human’s sense of smell.

I submit the following as evidence:

Most human beings like the smell of such things as:
Flowers
Chocolate
Perfume
The ocean
A good steak

My son likes the smells of such things as:
Anything burning
Gasoline
Used model rocket engines
Boxes in the freezers at the grocery store
Farts

Used model rocket engines smell very much like sulphur, which smells like rotten eggs.  And rotten eggs smell like something dead.  And vultures like the smell of dead things.  And my son, as I indicated above, likes the smell of used model rocket engines.

Thus, the following equation must be true:
My son’s nose =  vulture nose

A vulture, as you know, is a bird.  My son is, for all other intents and purposes, human.

So I respectfully request an exchange of parts.

I understand my request may be outside the limits of your normal service agreement, as my child is approaching the age of seven.  However, it took this long for me to really notice the problem.  Yes, I suspected something was off when he was three and would open the freezers at the grocery store and deeply sniff the frozen pizza boxes.  I thought it strange as well when he asked me to leave the car door open while I filled up the car’s gas tank  because he liked the fumes emitted from the pump.  But honestly, it wasn’t until he said he was going to start collecting used model rocket engines because they “smelled so good” (with deep sniffing inhale) that I really became suspicious.

When some toast burnt recently, he was very excited when he asked “What smells so GOOD?” 

And the clincher, what prompted me to write, was the day he was home from school because he was sick and he proudly announced “my farts smell like burnt rocket engines! Doesn’t that smell GREAT?!”

If you would kindly mail the replacement olfactory parts to me I will insert them myself.

Thank you,
Belle

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Filed under boys, death, humor, kids, life, parenting, rotten food, sick, Snags, steak, things kids do

Rochambeau

It started off as a game of “rock-paper-scissors”, otherwise known as “rochambeau” for you fancy types.  It ended as a spa retreat with messily painted nails, globs of hair gel on my head, and enough perfume sprayed on me to supply a French Whorehouse for a lifetime.  But the story’s in the in-between.

Snags was bored and wanted to play rock-paper-scissors.  It was easy enough, so I obliged him.  One turn into the game and he stopped to get a piece of paper so he could keep score.  “You have to win eight first,” he said as he drew a dividing line down the page and wrote “Snags” on one side, and Mom Belle, on the other.

The game continued only after I swore I’d stop playing if he didn’t stop cheating.  He was slow on the throw down, waiting to see what I did with my own fist before deciding which way to put his hand.

“Stop cheating!” I demanded.

Eventually he got into the game correctly and soon enough, he won.

The score card looked something like:

Snags
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Belle
1, 2, 3, 5, 4

According to Snags, the winner got to choose between a special luncheon or a spa treatment.  Only, it turns out the winner was actually the giver of the special luncheon or the spa treatment.  The loser was the recipient of said prize. Having been to Snags’ “spa” before, once where he took scissors to my hair when my eyes were closed, I chose the luncheon.

“Um, you might not want to choose the luncheon,” he helpfully advised.  “You don’t get to choose the menu,” he warned.

Feeling trapped, I reluctantly chose the spa treatment. I vowed to keep my eyes open no matter what.

I was ordered to remove my nail polish and my shirt. I obliged on the nail polish, but I refused on the shirt.  “Shirt stays on,” I intoned with my most “this is not up for negotiating” voice.

Snags filled the bath tub with water.  He kneeled in the tub and instructed me to sit on the edge of the toilet and soak my feet in the tub.  He should have said “burn your feet in the tub” because that is how hot he had the water. 

“Snags! This is HOT!  It’s burning my feet.  Isn’t it burning your knees?” I cried.

He swore he was fine as his knees turned bright red and he washed my feet and sprayed me with a plant mister from the dollar store.

Next he polished my nails.  Just so you know, little boys polish nails from left to right and back again.  Or in a circular pattern.  Nails and finger tips alike receive this treatment.  It’s quite a different look from what you’d normally expect. Good thing this treatment was free.

After the polish dried on my fingers and toes I had to soak my feet again while he sprayed my hair with the plant mister, followed by squirts of perfume to my face, my neck, my hair, my shirt, my arms, my ears, well, in short, everywhere.  I could hardly breath for the smell.  And because I was afraid that Snags scissors-hands would make an appearance, I kept my eyes open.  Perfume burns your retinas…

Snags put globs of hair gel in my hair and sprayed me with hairspray.  “Wow, you have a lot of tangles,” he marveled as he yanked a comb through the globby mess he’d wrought. 

“Oh look!” he said. “One of your hairs, came out.  It’s very nice.  I think I’ll keep this,” he said as he stuck the lone hair into a Dixie cup on his bathroom counter.

I shuddered and thought about Hannibal Lector.  Was this how he started off?  Giving his mom a spa treatment and keeping hairs he ripped from her head?  I vowed to read Silence of the Lambs again to find out.  Disturbing tendencies, these.

Next, Snags lathered lotion on my face and arms.  He sprayed on more perfume before leading me to the basement for a “massage”. 

Note: The term massage is used here in the loosest sense of all.  Unless you enjoy having little hands pinch you and pound on your back, that is.  Luckily, the massage was short.  Thirty seconds of pinching and pounding and it was finished.

“All done!” Snags, announced, satisfied.

“Oh, is that it, then?” I asked, relieved.

He confirmed we were done.  Then he went upstairs to watch Nickelodean.  I went upstairs to wash the mess out of my hair and the perfume off of the rest of me.  Including my eyes.

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Filed under humor, kids, life, parenting, Snags

Just This Side of Believing. Or Not.

Dear Tooth Fairy,

I thought I should warn you.  I think your days are numbered.  My six year old son, Snags, doesn’t seem to believe in you anymore.  I don’t know why the sudden turn of events.  Perhaps you didn’t leave him enough money last week when he lost his fourth tooth?

Or maybe it’s not really a turn of events at all.  For a good year or two before he ever lost his first tooth he would argue with me, claiming there was no such thing as a tooth fairy.  I wanted him to be a kid and benefit from the lie that there is such a thing, so I insisted he was wrong, that there was a tooth fairy.  His dentist backed me up.  She’s into lies like that.  But looking back, maybe I should have caved then, admitted the truth, and saved myself some money.

Witness this conversation a few nights ago:

Snags: Mom, tell me the truth.  Is there really a tooth fairy?

Me: (Indignant tone) Of course there is! (thinking, SHIT!  Where is your father, now?) Why would you ask that?

Snags: Well, I think it’s really you and dad leaving me money.

Me: (Bewildered tone) Why would we do that?

Snags: Because you want to give me money? I think you get up in the middle of the night and give me money.

Me: Snags! Think about it.  I don’t like to get up in the MORNING.  I’m certainly not going to get up in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT to give you money!

Snags: Maybe dad does it.

Me: No, I’m sure he doesn’t.  And besides, your friends Zane and Nicholas and Megan all lost teeth recently and they said the tooth fairy left them money too.

Snags: Maybe it was their parents leaving the money.

Me: (trying to confuse the issue) Well I certainly wouldn’t get up in the middle of the night to let their parents into our house!

Snags: I know there isn’t a tooth fairy because Mrs. V. told us when the tooth fairy leaves you money it’s really your parents doing it.

Me: (thinking “his Kindergarten teacher said WHAT?!”) Why would she say that?  She LIED to you.

Snags: Well… she didn’t say that.  I just said that to get you to admit there isn’t a tooth fairy.  That’s okay.  I believe in the tooth fairy anyway.

So anyway, as you can see, Snags is just on this side of belief.  Or disbelief.  I’m not sure.  But it’s a knife-edge, and he’s wobbling.  He wants the money, that much is obvious.  But it’s also obvious that he doesn’t care who gives it to him.  So long as he gets it. 

 

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Filed under childhood, humor, kids, Kindergarten, life, loose tooth, lost tooth, parenting, Snags, teeth, The Tooth Fairy

Beware the Kid Scissors

So, just when you thought it was safe to leave your six year old alone with his art supplies, you find out you were wrong.  Waaaay wrong.

Snags came downstairs a few nights ago after taking his bath and wanted to know if he could have one of my hair barrettes.  He said his bangs were “getting in his nerves,” only I thought he said “in his nose,” and that was odd because it couldn’t have possibly been true.  His bangs were still up on his forehead.  At that time anyway…

He got mad at me when I said he couldn’t wear my hair barrette to school to keep his bangs pushed off his face.  “You look like a girl,” I told him.

He cried.  He argued with me.  “Well, I think it looks good and I think it makes me look older!” he said.

“Yes,” I agreed.  “Like an older girl.”

“If you want your bangs to be shorter,” I offered, “then let’s go tomorrow and get your hair cut.”

“No!” he responded.  “I want to grow my hair out to be long.” 

Let’s just get this point clear: He wanted to grow his hair out  “to be long” so he could look like Adam in the movie Snow Buddies, and also so he could wear one long braid down the side of his face like Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones.  I wasn’t exactly thrilled with either look, but shaggy skateboarder is apparently “IN” right now, so I thought I could be a little flexible on the hair.  Besides, getting to the braid point was going to take some time. With summer approaching, I figured Snags would give up at some point, and ask for a hair cut just to get the wet sweaty hair off the back of his neck.  I figured we probably weren’t really in this for the long haul, but I had no idea just how soon the situation would change. 

Snags ran out of the room crying because I wouldn’t let him keep my hair barrette. 
Less than a minute later he ran back in.

“How do you like my hair now?” he demanded with a huge smile and a menacing cackle.

I glanced at him.  The middle portion of his bangs were pulled back, the hair barrette was hidden somehow.  If he was a girl with really long hair, it would have been a great look.

“Where’s the hair barrette?” I asked. “How did you do that?  I can’t even see the barrette.”

“That’s because there is no hair barrette!” he laughed.

And then it hit me…

“Did you CUT your bangs?” I asked, wide-eyed, as my husband more or less groaned, “Oh! Snags!”

And then Snags ran from the room crying once again.  He ran up the stairs as my husband called after him, “What scissors did you use? Where did you get them?”

Well, he used his art supply scissors.  Of course!  The ones with the red handle.  The ones intended for paper.  Not hair.

“Did you even look in the mirror when you did that?” I asked when I found him crying on his bed.

“No!” he wailed.

My husband tried to fix the damage by trimming the sides of his bangs, with (why do boys do this?) the same art supply scissors.  The ones with the red handle.  Again, for paper.  Not hair.

Of course that only made it worse.  Snags stood there crying in front of the mirror.
“You look like Willy Wonka,” I offered, kindly.  I thought that would cheer him up.  When he was four he wanted to BE Willy Wonka.  He wanted me to buy him a purple wig or let him grow his hair out in a page boy style and get it dyed.  He had a Willy Wonka costume.  We fashioned a “W” out of an old coat hanger and he wore it everywhere, just like Johnny Depp in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

But now, well, I guess that’s not cool anymore.  Snags cried some more.  I tried not to laugh, but honestly, I wasn’t doing a very good job of it.

I took the scissors from my husband’s hands and figured, well, what the hell.  No use going all the way back downstairs to get the kitchen shears at this point.  Besides, kitchen shears aren’t much better for cutting hair than the red handled art scissors.  I trimmed the other side.  But that didn’t help much, either.  Finally, I put the sniffling, snuffling Snags to bed.

When I woke in the morning I stayed in bed for a while, hoping it was all just a dream. But it wasn’t.  Snags came in my room and demanded to know, “Why did you and dad make me look in the mirror when I didn’t want to?  That’s just RUDE!  That is like sticking someone’s head down the toilet!  That’s how rude that was!”

“Oh!”  I said, a bit startled at the analogy.  “We weren’t trying to be RUDE.  We just wanted you to see your hair since you cut it without even looking at it.”

I sent Snags to school and I sent his teacher an email to warn her about his hair.  When I picked him up after school it seemed like every teacher in the building had heard the story.  They all gave me sympathetic smiles as they said, “Off to get Snag’s hair cut by the professionals now?” 

“Yes,” I said.  Yes we were, indeed.  Thank you for asking.

 

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Filed under humor, kids, life, parenting, Snags