Friday, June 29, 2012

Camping with Kids

Today we take the kids camping for the first time.  I'm not quite sure what to expect, but I know better than to expect anything.  Except mud.  I expect lots and lots of mud.  I'm pretty sure they'll love every second of it- dirt, trees, fresh air, lots and lots of room to play ball and blow bubbles and run around laughing maniacally- but one never knows.

I haven't been camping in over 10 years.  Camping is by and large a young person's game.  I realize that I'm talking like I'm 90, but good lord people... who over the age of 22 is still good at squatting to pee?!?  It's hard.  And sleeping arrangements become a bit more complicated.  I used to sleep in a sleeping bag.  On the ground.  No mat, no mattress, nothing.  Ground.  Now I require a self-inflating air mattress with actual bedding (mostly because I no longer own sleeping bags... because I'm OLD).  And the thought of having to drink instant coffee is absolutely abhorrent.  It's pathetic.  I used to be good at this.  I used to be a camper.  I camped, damn it!  Now... well, hopefully I can rediscover the pee-in-the-woods squat.

And now there are children.  Two of them.  And they're small.  Small children.  I can easily imagine camping with a six year old and an eight year old.  They can help.  They can set up camp and build fires and sleep in their own tent.  They'll be interested in exploring and I'll feel like it's probably okay to turn my back on them for more than two seconds.  Now, however, I'm wondering what's going to happen if my husband and I both have to pee and we can't keep a firm grip on the Little One.  The Big One's not much help in that arena.  But that Little One, man.  He's wily.  And he's FAST, you guys.  You have no idea.  One blink and he'll be hitchhiking on the interstate.

Luckily, there's a 50% chance of thunderstorms and general rainy goodness over our camping weekend.  So that'll be neat.

Just as long as the giant spiders stay away from me, I'm game for all of it.  Bring it on, nature.  Bring it on.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Instant Personality Shift Syndrome


It is a little known problem, but a common parental condition.

IPSS, or Instant Personality Shift Syndrome, is rampant among the parents of young children.  Its symptoms appear without warning and are difficult to treat.  IPSS becomes almost incurable among the parents of toddlers and is easily recognizable.  Exchanges such as, "Roll the ball, baby!  Roll the ball to your brother!  Good job, baby.  GET OFF THE TABLE!  That's right, roll the ball!  Good!  STOP THROWING THE BALL AT YOUR BROTHER'S HEAD!  Wanna roll it back?" are commonplace in the parent/child exchanges involving parents with IPSS.  Parents may move from soothing coos to ear-splitting screeching with nary a warning to be heard.

While IPSS is not life-threatening, it can cause others to question your sanity.  Symptoms may include hollering, sighing dramatically, rolling of eyes, foreheads in hands, and clenched jaws.  Symptoms may be accompanied by a toddler screaming, throwing things, tantruming, or hitting.  Siblings may exacerbate the problem.

If you notice symptoms of IPSS and have a toddler in your home, do not be alarmed.  Symptoms will begin to dissipate over the next two to sixteen years.  If symptoms do not disappear completely, seek help immediately.  And a margarita.

This has been a public service announcement.  We will now return to regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Upside, Downside

I am looking for balance.  Life has felt perpetually off kilter for quite some time now, and I'm attempting to give it a kickstand.  In an effort to temper my incessant whining (you guys, I know... I'm sorry!), I've decided to look at the glass as half-empty AND half-full.  Both sides of the coin.  Cloud with silver lining.  Yin and yang.  Luke and Darth.

You get the drift.

We all know I can't stop whining all together.  It's in my DNA people - I couldn't make it stop if I wanted to.  I grew up in a house where sour moods spread like wildfire.  But I also grew up singing "Shiny, Happy People" and Ren & Stimpy's "Happy Happy Joy Joy" with my dad whenever anyone (usually my mom- sorry, Mom!) got a little pouty.  So if I can buffer the whining with a little sunshine and lollipops... well, that doesn't sound so bad.

Accordingly, I'm playing a little game of Upside, Downside with myself.  Every time I want to wallow in self-pity or complain or be a generally hellish human to be around, I'm going to attempt to find the positive side of the situation.  Because I don't want people to stop talking to me.

Anyhoo, I don't know how long this happy-happy-joy-joy will last, so fair warning.

Upside, Downside: Episode 1. Going Back to Work

Upside: While I was working at "that store," I learned to relish the time I have with my kids.  As in, the book-it-as-fast-as-I-could-out-of-the-mall, leap-into-the-car, and speed-my-way-home kind of cherish.  Leaving "that store" and just doing tutoring now has not lessened the effect, despite the fact that I ADORE tutoring.  (OOH!  Upside!  I HEART TUTORING!!!)  I've always loved my time with my babes, but now I genuinely treasure my time with them (as barf-tastic as that sounds), because I've experienced having that time taken away.  The time I took for granted is limited, and that's a tangible concept to me now.  Even amidst all the screaming.

I have come to realize that I do want to teach- in some form- and to be involved with everything I have always loved: kids, literature, writing, and learning.  Tutoring has been absolutely awesome.  It's helped me readjust my view of who I am and who I want to be... something I was struggling with as a full-time stay-at-home parent.

Downside: Holy adjustment, Batman.  My kids struggled BIG TIME with my going back to work.  They were totally pissed off at me and misbehaved WAY more than they did before.  The Big One cried when I left for "that store" (not in the dramatic way, but in the quivering lip, slight whimper, ask for a hug and try to be brave, but totally break your heart kind of way) and told me daily that he was sad/scared when I left to go to "that store."  We didn't get family time or weekends at all for a couple months.  My husband had a hard time getting all of his school work done and we were all exhausted.   We realized that working for $10 an hour, getting a stress fracture in my foot, and having stressed out kids and no time together was not worth it.

Upside: I quit "that store" a few weeks ago.  It was awesome.  I've never felt so good quitting a job.  And it's not that the job was all that bad, it was just a bad fit for me and my family.  Nonetheless, I'm delighted that I no longer have to take bullshit from people who feel, apparently, that anyone working in a clothing store deserves to be treated like vermin.  I'm tickled frickin' pink that I will never again have to experience the heartache of looking in newly vacated dressing rooms to find giant piles of inside-out clothes next to giant piles of hangers.  Oh, the horror.

Now, I get to help people- little people and their families who are authentically thankful (wha?) and students who want, want to learn (WHA?!?).  IT. IS. SO. GOOD.  And on top of all the goodness, the money is significantly better than retail, so I can work fewer hours for the same piddly money I was making at "that store."  We have weekends and family time again.  My kids are happier.  And my family is happier.  And I am happier.  Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Parents Are Trained Ninjas

Never before have you seen such stealth, such skills, such quiet-ensuring acrobatics as those of a parent with sleeping children.


Even children who sleep peacefully through every night, through alarms and loud movies, through dropped glasses and neighbor's parties- even the most sound of sleepers- will wake up at the slightest blip of noise when it is nap time.  Drop a bobby pin, baby's up.  Ankle pops when you take a step, toddler's awake.  Sink drips, and nap time is over.

It is for this reason that parents develop super-skills in order to facilitate uninterrupted sleep.  We know every creaky stair, every idiosyncrasy of each squeaky door handle, each popping floor board.  We know how avoid every possible noise in the household for a full 3 hours in order to protect nap.  I have seen parents backflip, snatch objects from midair, and slither through their houses like Hattori Hanzo.  SKILLS, I tell you.

For some reason, however, it is during these precious, precious hours that all things noisy happen.  The big kid is finally down for nap, except- OOPS!- it's the recycling truck, and it's glass pick-up day!  The baby finally settles down, and then- uh oh- the UPS man rings the doorbell.  Both children miraculously fall asleep (!!) at the same time (!!!), and then things on your counters and shelves start spontaneously committing suicide, jumping to their deaths onto the tile mere feet away from both sleeping children.


If only the ninja skills were transferrable.  And the garbage trucks would read the dirty looks you give them when they show up at 1:30pm.