Category Archives: parenting

Caterpillars and Moths Indoors! Oh, My!

It all started several weeks ago as I was walking my son home from school and we came across a caterpillar crossing the sidewalk. 

“Look, Mom,” Snags said, as he pointed at the caterpillar.  “I wish I could keep it.”

I thought about it for a minute.  What’s the harm, I thought.  “You can,” I told him.

Snags was surprised.  “I can? I can keep him?  Really?”

“Sure” I said. “But I’m not picking him up.  If you want him, you pick him up.” 

Snags bent down and picked up the caterpillar, gently cupping him in his hands.  Two seconds later he shook his hands violently apart and threw the caterpillar to the ground.  The caterpillar must have moved in his hands. The caterpillar’s feet (are they even called feet?) felt weird, they tickled Snags hands, startling him into throwing the caterpillar down. Smack on the pavement.

But he picked him back up and tried again.  This time we managed to get all the way home, caterpillar still intact, if not a little stunned (and bruised?) by hitting the pavement a few moments earlier.  I found an empty bean dip jar and washed it out then poked holes in the jar lid with a screw driver.  Snags picked leaves from the cherry tree in our yard and put them in the jar along with the caterpillar, giving him an instant home. 

Snags named the caterpillar Rex. Rex Racer. Named after Speed Racer’s brother.  Because… caterpillars are fast?

My husband, who thought keeping a bug in the house on purpose was nasty, was about to get even more disgusted the next day.  For that is when Snags found more caterpillars, this time in our yard, on our cherry tree.

Snags was excited as he emptied out a green plastic bin from his old train table and started collecting caterpillars in it.  The sides of the bin were high enough that the caterpillars had trouble crawling out.  The plastic was smooth, so there was nothing to grip to boost them along.  He collected a bunch of caterpillars and he shared them with one of the little kids across the street.  After Snags collected another seven caterpillars to keep for himself, I made him stop.

I agreed that we could put the caterpillars, Rex included, into one of our empty aquariums.  We took an old mesh hamper and cut it apart to make a mesh top that would let in air for the caterpillars.  We put in plenty of cherry tree leaves, a couple of branches wrapped in a wet paper towel, and the caterpillars, and set the whole thing on the dresser in Snags’ room.

Every morning we added fresh leaves to the aquarium and watched as the caterpillars happily munched their way through the leaves. A living version of Eric Carle’s book . Every evening we would check to see if any of the caterpillars had made a cocoon.  For a week or two nothing happened.  Then one night I found one of the caterpillars inside a curled up leaf, with white, silky, thread like pieces starting to form around him.  By morning, it was a full cocoon.  Within a week all the caterpillars had formed cocoons, save one.

We stopped adding fresh leaves to the aquarium and we left it alone.  I wondered how long we had to keep the thing.  I looked up caterpillars online and learned that we had captured Eastern Tent Caterpillars, which turn into moths.  And I read that the moths, if they were to emerge at all, would come out of the cocoons in about three weeks.  When you got too close to the aquarium you could smell the leaves, and something else, something…off.  Maybe it was the caterpillar poop at the bottom of the aquarium.  Since I didn’t want to disturb the cocoons, I left everything alone.

Then, a couple of nights ago I walked in Snags room to check the aquarium.  Something was different.  Something was new.  Something, that looked like a furry teeny tiny bat was sitting on a branch.  It was a moth!  Snags just knew that it was Rex.

Did you know that moths have fur, or what looks like it anyway, on their heads?  I didn’t.  I guess I’d never really seen one up close at all.  I’d seem them hanging around my porch light outside at night, like teenagers outside a 7-11, but I’d never actually SEEN one, not like this.  I thought it was kind of cute.  My husband thought it was disgusting.

In the morning, Snags decided that we should let the moth go free. So we carefully carried the aquarium down the stairs and out onto the front porch.  We opened the lid of the aquarium, but the moth was holding fast.  I took a bunch of pictures with my camera and was pleased to find that if moths have eyes, they are so tiny that the flash of the camera doesn’t leave them with red eye in their photos.  Eventually I prodded the moth off the mesh lid of the aquarium and took some photos of him (or was it a her?) on a leaf.  He/she/it did not like that.  Rex the moth flapped its tiny little wings rapidly and stuck out these pointy things on the top of its head, all defensive, like it was trying to scare me away.  Moth, I thought, I could crush you with my thumb.  Give it up.  You don’t scare me.  But Snags and I must have scared the moth.  It flew off.  It flew up, up, up, where it landed, I kid you not, on Snags’ window screen.  As if we would open the window and let him fly back in. And although the moth stayed there on the screen for hours, we held firm.  We did not open the window to let it back in. You can’t go home again.  Not if you’re a moth who hatched from a cocoon in an old aqaurium in MY house.

Days have gone by and the moth has moved on.  It’s not hanging on Snags’ window screen.  And just this morning, a second moth has emerged from one of the many remaining cocoons.  Right now this new moth is playing dead.  I assume that is another defensive move.  If I go up and open the aquarium lid to try to take a picture of it I bet it will fly out of the aquarium right into my face.  So I’m going to leave it alone for a while, wait and see how many more moths emerge.  And when they do, we’ll set them free.

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Filed under caterpillars, life, moths, parenting, Rex Racer, Snags

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

Pants Recommended

Call me lazy, but I am sick and tired of having to make decisions.  Things that used to be simple have gotten crazily complicated.  And I don’t like it.

Take… school picture day, for example.  When I was a kid, you showed up at school and they took your picture.  And that was it.  Well, maybe the photographer insisted on combing your hair some stupid way you never wore it, but really, that was about it.  Later, the pictures would come in, and you’d grimace at the way your hair looked in the photos, but there was nothing you could do about it except hope your mom didn’t choose that year’s school photo for her new silver frame sitting on the mantel.

That was then.

NOW you get a warning notice sent home from school about a week ahead of time, telling you that picture day is coming up. But that’s odd, because they just took school photos back in the fall.  And the school year is only 180 days long… and you’re only a few weeks past the 100 day mark…  Ah, but then, the children were dressed in FALL clothes then.  And now it’s SPRING.  Right?  Or maybe, even though you are holding the flier in your hands, your husband is right, maybe it’s a flier for school picture “make up day”.  For the kids who were sick or otherwise absent back in the fall. And they just forgot to put “make up day” on the flier.  Yeah, that’s probably what it is.  NOT.

Exactly 17 hours before picture day you get another reminder, complete with a small form that proudly states there is “No charge for picture day!”  Your child will get their picture taken regardless, and you don’t have to pay a thing until the photos come home and you decide whether or not to buy them.

But nothing’s ever free.  In lieu of parting with your hard earned cash on picture day, you have to choose which one of five poses is more ‘you’, or you know, more ‘your child’.  And then you mark that box and send in the form so the photographer knows which way to position the kid before he snaps the photo. You can write any special instructions you want to the photographer on the form too.  Like, “LEAVE THE HAIR ALONE!”

But this is where I fall apart.  I can’t make decisions like this.  Take the picture and send it to me.  If I like, it I will fork over a kajillion dollars for a small package of two 5×7’s and eight wallet size photos.  If I don’t like it, well, I’ve got a digital camera and I know how to use it.

But this, this…  Pose 1 shows the child sitting in a chair.  Pose 2 shows the child with chin in hand, bored like, but still smiling. Pose 3 shows the child lounging somewhat precariously across two bean bag chairs.  Pose 4 has the child leaning on a bean bag chair with arms crossed, all defensive like, but still smiling.  You lookin’ at me?  And Pose 5 is simply the child’s face. 

I think what threw me the most was Pose 3, where the child is sprawled across the bean bag chairs.  A handy suggestion next to it says “Pants recommended!” And so I wonder if this has really been a problem.  Do parents really send their children to school without any pants? Certainly that’s in violation of school dress codes, is it not?  Or did the photo company do one too many photo shoots at an elementary school smack in the middle of a nudist camp? Or, perhaps, it’s a reminder to the photographers.  Maybe some of them used to work for that magazine with the bunny ears.

I’m torn.  Not one of the five poses is “Snags”.  If they had a pose that said “Snags” it would be my child before bedtime, protesting my comment that he looks tired, all the while sucking on two fingers and holding his old tag blanket up to his nose so he can sniff one of his favorite tags.  Only, the form doesn’t say, “favorite blankets recommended,” and I, having gone through school myself, have personal experience with school photographers.  If they don’t want your hair parted on the left, they sure as hell aren’t going to let you shove a couple of fingers in your mouth and sniff on the tag of a blanket for your school photo.  Not even if you have pants on.

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Filed under humor, Kindergarten, life, parenting, Snags

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

A Letter to Lauren’s Mom

Dear Lauren’s Mom,

Hi.  So, listen, I understand from my son, Snags, that your daughter, Lauren, was watching the news recently and heard that “a man is PREGNANT!”  What a sweet daughter you have and how very kind of her to share that news with Snags and his classmates.  His kindergarten classmates.

Snags didn’t really have many other details to share.  It sounds as if Lauren was supposed to be doing her homework? And you made her turn the T.V. off right in the middle of that groundbreaking report? Snags thought the idea so prepopsterous that it might have been a joke, that the news people were trying to make people laugh, right? I suggested that perhaps the whole thing was an April Fool’s Day joke.

And might I suggest to YOU, that you, oh, unplug the friggin’ television set for the next nine months or so?  Unless, of course, you plan to come to the elementary school and give a big detailed  presentation about this to Snags and his classmates?  Hey, maybe you could even work with the children to collect money to throw this man a baby shower…

Look, I’m actually a pretty liberal minded gal.  I don’t particularly care which way the wind blows when it comes to personal preferences about how people live their lives.  I think it’s nice that this man is pregnant.  I hope the pregnancy goes smoothly and that baby sleeps though the night from the get go.

I just really don’t want to have to explain how a person gets pregnant to a six year old.  And I especially don’t want to have to explain how a man got pregnant to a six year old.  A six year old who knows that only women have babies…

When Snags is in middle school, well, sure then I’d be happy to explain this stuff.  He’ll probably be picking up free condoms from the nurse’s office by then anyway.  But right now, I’d just rather not go there.  And so that is why I keep the television news turned OFF in my house.  You might want to consider doing the same.

Oh, by the way, did Lauren tell you that I got my nose pierced?  I didn’t know if Snags had mentioned it to her yet.  If not, that’s okay.  I’ll be chaperoning the upcoming planetarium field trip and she will get to see my nose piercing then.  I’ll be sure to tell her ALL about it, and how she can be cool like me and get her very own nose piercing, too!

That should give you something to talk about over dinner Thursday night, don’t you think?

Sincerely,
Snags’ Mom

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Filed under babies, kids, Kindergarten, motherhood, parenting, Snags

Evil Genius Turns Six (or Happy Birthday Snags!)

My son turns six years old today.  It’s kind of unbelievable to look back at photographs from when he was born and remember the tiny baby he was, versus now, the child he has become.

He was a tiny thing, just 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and 19 ½ inches long.  Today he’s close to 60 pounds and just shy of 4 feet tall.

Back then he didn’t speak, he slept a lot and cried.  Now he won’t stop talking and he wakes up way too early in the mornings.  He still cries, but mostly only when he’s hurt or very mad.

Back then, as I struggled with my new role as a mother, I came upon a quote that immediately and ever since became one of my favorite quotes about parenting: The days are long but the years are short.  I don’t know who said that, but I believe that those are truest words ever spoken.  How did we get here?  Six years down the road from where we started?  The past is nearly all a blur.  That’s partly, I think, why I started writing.  To document the stories of our lives before they become blurry too.  The past… eventually it eludes us, stands just beyond our grasp laughing at us and at what we can’t remember because we are too busy dealing with the here and now.  And so I take the time to write things down before I forget them, before I get too busy with the next thing.  I will collect these stories, and one day I will publish them.  Most likely it will be my own personal endeavor, a book made on Blurb or somewhere similar, and bought only by myself.  But I will give the book to Snags.  And when he is 25 or 38 or 46 he can look back and remember with me, or with his own children, the things that we might have otherwise forgotten.

There’s a gentleman that I know who through the years has asked about my son and told me about his son, already an adult.  This man came to the conclusion, from the stories I told him about Snags, that my son was destined for greatness.  “The only thing is,” he said, “I’m not sure if he’s going to be the President of the United States or a criminal mastermind.  You are going to have your hands full,” he warned.  “Keep on top of your son, nurture his skills, and push him toward good.  He’s smart… too smart, too crafty and too mischievous, he could go either way.  It’s your job to lead him in the right direction.”

And I’m trying, I really am.  But the other night I got a little taste of what the future might hold, and this kid of mine, he may turn out to be an Evil Genius despite my best efforts.  It was bedtime and I was reading out loud about the planet Saturn from a book called 4000 Things You Should Know.  “Saturn,” the book states, “is so massive, the pressure at its heart is enough to turn hydrogen solid.  That is why there is a layer of metallic hydrogen around the planet’s inner core of rock.”  And it goes on to explain that “Saturn is not solid, but is made almost entirely of gas, mostly liquid hydrogen and helium.  Only in the planet’s very small core is there any solid rock.” 

I tried to explain that in terms I thought an almost six year old would understand, so I  explained that air is a gas and that if it were on Saturn it would turn it into solid chunks.   

I continued reading and after a few minutes Snags interrupted and said, “Okay! We need to destroy Saturn.  We need to BLOW. IT. UP!” I looked at my son, innocent child turned comic book villain, and said no, that wasn’t right.  We shouldn’t do that.  But then I proceed to ask him why he thought we should blow up Saturn.

“Because,” he said, “there is no oxygen is space.  That’s because Saturn takes it all and turns it into rocks.  So if we destroy Saturn the rocks will turn back into air and people will be able to breathe in space!”

I laughed.  “Okay,” I said.  “I see your reasoning.  That sounds logical, but I don’t think I explained this right…  We don’t breathe the type of gas that Saturn turns into a solid.  That’s hydrogen, and we are breathing air which is made up of mostly nitrogen and oxygen, not hydrogen…” 

The next day, as I was shopping for Snags’ birthday present in Target, I was thinking about his plan to blow up Saturn.  I had to consider whether or not I was the best person to lead Snags away from the dark side… 

I was in one of the toy aisles and reaching out to take hold of a Star Wars transformer that could turn from an X-Wing into Luke Skywalker.  As luck would have it, it was the very last one they had.  And just as my fingertips brushed the package, a little boy zipped down the aisle at breakneck speed and grabbed the toy off the hook it was hanging from. Right from under my hand!  The child’s mother saw this and reprimanded him, told him to give the toy back to me, that I was looking at it and going to buy it.  The child handed the toy over to me, and I thanked him and then his mother. I thought that was the end of our conversation.

But then the woman asked me “Are you going to buy that?” and I said “Yes, I was thinking about it.” To which she puffed herself up like the Wicked Witch of the West Target and huffed “THINKING ABOUT AND BUYING ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!  WHICH IS IT?!”

I was stunned.  It took me a moment but when I recovered from her verbal slap I said I was going to buy it. Then, for fun, I continued to look at other Star Wars toys on the shelves, pulling them down, turning them over, reading the back and looking like I was weighing their merits against the transformer I said I was buying.

Eventually, I tuned my cart around and pushed my way out of the aisle.  I stopped to look at another toy, one that Snags has asked for before.  I pulled it off the shelf and put it in my cart.  Then I turned down the Barbie aisle, pulled the X-Wing/Luke Skywalker Transformer from my cart, and shoved it behind a bunch of Barbie Dolls.  I decided that I wasn’t going to buy it, but neither was the witch in the Star Wars aisle.  And that’s why I am not sure I will be much help when it comes to stopping my little evil genius from blowing up Saturn.  It’s for a good cause, after all.

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Filed under birthday, humor, Luke Skywalker, parenting, Saturn, Snags, Star Wars, transformers