Going…going…gone

ChillCentral_Slush_SmallIt was 3 pm. I hadn’t seen my smallish, 11 year old, male offspring since we arrived this morning at the property that my husband manages. I wasn’t overly concerned by this fact, though. Everyone knows everyone in the community, watches out for each other’s kids, and adores all of ours. He’s made friends with most of the kids that live there, and is likely off playing video games with one of them. Someone will have fed him by this late in the afternoon, too. So, I was enjoying the peace and quiet of the day, and getting a lot accomplished in the apartment I was painting. That is until my husband gifted me with…a slushie.

I had no sooner taken a sip of the sweet frozen yumminess, when I spy the boy bopping by the kitchen window, mere seconds away from bursting through the door. I frantically look around for some place to stash my frosty treat, but I just wasn’t quick enough. Before I could make a move, there were 2 big grey eyes staring me down accusingly. “What’s in the cup?” He asked, and before I could even say Pineapple Slushie, he was sucking it down like a desert camel. You got a hump somewhere that I don’t know about, son? Maybe storing some up so that you can bounce off the walls later? Needless to say, the lad made quick work of my slushie.

How did he know?! I thought as I frowned at my empty cup. Then, from out of the blue, it hit me. The greatest epiphany to ever wander through the farthest galaxies of my cranium: Kids share a psychic link with sugar! I’m actually rather upset with myself for not realizing this fact sooner, as I reflect back on my years of life with 5 children.

I can go through the McDonalds drive through and order myself a quadruple biggie sized drink served in a bucket with a straw, and it’ll barely be passing through the minivan window before I’ll hear the first, “Hey, can I have a sip?” This of course results in 4 additional “sips” as it gets handed around. By the time it gets back to me there will be nothing but a half chewed ice cube in the bottom, and several teeth marks in the Styrofoam.

My 16 year old daughter is the worst one of the bunch. She can down an entire drink with catlike stealth.  She pulls this ‘faster than the naked eye ninja move’ and you won’t even know your drink is gone until you pick up the empty cup. I’ll glare at her and say,” Really Amber?” Then she’ll flash me her big innocent emerald eyes, belch like a drunken sailor, giggle, and say, “What? I was thirsty.” Child, where did you even come from? Were you there just a minute ago?

I did discover years ago that if I actually want to try and enjoy a sugary snack, I need to hide it from the herd. Even then, though, there’s no guarantee that I’ll get the pleasure of enjoying my hoarded deliciousness.

I can put my treat in a Ziploc bag, stuff the bag into one of those indestructible black boxes that they use on airplanes, place the black box inside a 3 inch thick steel safe, wrap a couple of thick iron chains around it, secure the chains with 5 or 6 strong padlocks, encase the whole thing in cement, and they’ll still come stiffing around my door like a pack of dogs. “You have an M&M in there, I can smell it.” Nope. That’s just my new perfume. Au De Hershey. You like?

I’ll wait it out until they’re satisfied with the fact that I’m not harboring any rogue goodies.  Then I’ll slide out of bed at 3 am and tip toe to the other side of the house. I’ll crack their doors open ever so slightly and peek in to see the rise and fall of the covers and listen for the gentle sounds of snoring. Then I’ll tip toe back to my room, quietly shut the door, and begin the process of extracting my stowed sweetness. Ah, there you are, you candy coated morsel of pleasure. It’s a green one, too. Just look at the way it sparkles in the moonlight. As the dainty delight starts to make its journey from hand to mouth I look over my shoulder one last time to see….5 sets of imploring eyes hovering over a freshly forming puddle of drool. Sigh. I give up. How exactly does one divide a single M&M into 5ths?

I realize now why so many women that I know with children are always on a health kick. They don’t really want to lose a few pounds, prevent heart disease, or lower their cholesterol. They just can’t get their hands on anything other than vegetables anymore. You like that carrot stick Sally? No? Well, get used to it, you have children. Consider it your new candy bar.

As I depart for the day, I offer those of you with children a deliciously sweet cookie, just to show that I am sympathetic to your plight.

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Oops. Too late. Better luck next time.

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Because I said so.

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With a life resume boasting several years of parenting experience, I’ve come to realize that kids will try to get out of anything and everything. As a matter of fact, mine tend to be so lazy that I worry about having to oil their joints from lack of use like the Tin Man in Oz.

I believe that by now I’ve heard it all. Every excuse and creatively artistic form of backtalk ever to grace the English language, all rehearsed and re-scripted into some applause worthy performances.

When I happen to collide with The Great Wall of Whining, the one that’s built out of “why’s” and “how come’s” and “do I have to’s” that stretches higher and wider than the eye can see, I’ll sometimes start to offer up reasons for the requests that I make, until I suddenly realize…hey, wait a minute…you’re mom. You don’t have to explain yourself. There should only ever be 4 little words given in response to the resistance you’re met with after making requests and giving commands…

Because I Said So.

Though you think that you do
I know what’s best for you
…because I said so.

Want a car? Get a job
Please don’t eat like a slob
…because I said so.

Close the door, kill the light
Please be kind and don’t fight
…because I said so.

You should take out the trash
Please stop asking for cash
…because I said so.

Okay, I’ve had enough
Please just pick up your stuff
…because I said so.

Tie your shoe, you might trip
Please don’t give me more lip
…because I said so.

Have your tail home by nine
Please don’t lose that, it’s mine
…because I said so

When you’re 18, you’re free
‘Til then, listen to me
Why?

…BECAUSE I SAID SO!

The Grand Zoo Tour

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I once read one of those captioned Facebook pictures that said, “Children are like farts. You can stand your own but other peoples are intolerable.” While there is a certain measure of truth to that statement, mine have been known to run me out of a room just as swiftly as anyone else’s ever could.

There are 5 of them total. Five outrageous offspring, units of union, creations of coupling, miracles of mating, reminders of relations…all with 5 distinct personalities. Four of them happen to be teenagers, all in full, glorious rebellion. This phenomenon happens at about the 12 to 13 year mark in the growth cycle of your average teen creature. I say creature, not only because their actions can often be somewhat inhuman, but because I tend to view myself as a zookeeper when it comes to this abundant herd. I could say that my husband is my assistant zookeeper, but he happens to be one of the biggest animals in the bunch most of the time.

When we’re out and about as a group, people will ask, “Are ALL these kids yours?” I, of course, just say, “Yes. There’s never a dull moment in my house,” and smile not only because my husband came as a package deal, thus making 3 out of the 5 a very big part of my life for the past 10 and a half years, but also because it’s just marginally easier than having to explain ‘the way we all became the Brady Bunch’ version 2.0.

So, are you ready to embark on the grand tour of my zoo? Well then hop in the mini-van and let’s roll! I strongly recommend keeping your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. The beasts here may bite.

 Coming up on the left we have…

The Kelsey: (Angerus Hormonius) Real Age: 17 going on 18. Calculated age in human years:  35

Short, blondish, and way too big for her britches (literally), the Kelsey squeezes her “assets” into things that the average person might floss their teeth with. This is even more problematic considering the fact that while she was once a very active and competitive critter, she has become a bit sluggish with age, leading to a slightly expanding girth. Despite that fact, the Kelsey is still quite pretty, and bears a set of striking big green eyes. She just chooses to cover herself in some not so pretty things, and she really doesn’t care about having perfectly styled fur and a well-groomed face the way that other female teen-creatures do.

This particular Kelsey happens to be missing the filter between the mouth and the brain that most humans have, and at any given moment something jaw dropping and cringe-worthy might roll out like a dense fog from between her likely numb from excessive tongue wrestling lips, no matter how inappropriate or harsh it happens to be. The Kelsey is super smart, though, and extremely tricky, so don’t let her crude utterances fool you. She’s merely working to get your hackles raised, which she knows that she is more than capable of.

Your very presence in close proximity to the Kelsey has the potential to anger her, so proceed with caution. She’s very stand-offish with everyone at first meeting, but can easily be won over with affirmations of how pretty she is… and cookies. Bring cookies. Then, the Kelsey might be more than willing to warm up to you, which can prove to be quite fun regardless of her potential to be abrasive when the mood strikes her. She’s also quite the songbird, often singing along very loudly with any particular song on the radio, which isn’t an unpleasant sound because she’s very skilled.

The Kelsey came to be part of my zoo by marriage.

 Now if you’ll look to your right, you’ll see…

The Amber: (Vainish Prissyus) Real Age: 16 going on 17. Calculated age in human years:  25

“You really need to pluck your eyebrows”…”Ugh. You’re not seriously going out of the house in THAT, are you?”…”Are you freakin’ kidding me right now?”…”We all know I’m prettier than you.” These are just a few of the things that could issue forth from the jaws of the Amber at any given moment, because “She’s too sexy for this house, too sexy for this family, because she’s a model, you know what I mean? And she’ll do her little turn on the catwalk.”

While she is a gorgeous creature when it comes to looks, tall and statuesque (the child towers over me by several inches), with her emerald green eyes and mane of flowing red fur, her attitude doesn’t always reflect her beauty. You’re likely to lose your head or any other important appendages for merely breathing in her personal space.  You may NOT communicate verbally with the Amber, either. All requests, commands, and general correspondence must be submitted via text to even be acknowledged.

A self-proclaimed tree hugging hippy and bleeding heart vegetarian, (at least at this current moment because her phases are subject to change at any given time), the Amber is the adopter of all things stray… and stuffed pandas. There’s no panda that the Amber has laid eyes upon that isn’t cluttering up some area of her lair, which she happens to have to share with the other female teen-creatures in the zoo. This fact makes her pack-rat tendencies…troublesome.

While the Amber may blow more hot air than a hurricane when the mood strikes her, she’s quite fun to be around at times. She’s quick witted and incredibly funny when she wants to be, and she’s extremely artistic. Her drawings and paintings will leave you with your jaw hanging in amazement.

The Amber came to be part of my zoo by birth.

Oh look up ahead! It’s the illusive teen boy, rarely seen emerging from its den!

The Jonathan:  (Gaseous Extremus) Real Age: 16. Calculated age in human years: 10

You would think that the Jonathan would be past the stage of his growth cycle where very loud, very smelly expulsions of bodily methane would be losing their humorous appeal, but you would be thinking wrong. No place or time is inappropriate for the Jonathan to let loose a blast of Clydesdalesque proportions and find it thoroughly enjoyable. Dinner table? I hope you have a strong stomach. Enclosed vehicle with 6 other people on a 19 hour road trip? Best keep your windows down, or your eyes may begin to burn.

There shall be no video game left unplayed when the Jonathan is around. He has seen and beaten them ALL and is yet to be left overly impressed by any of them. Your knowledge and skill cannot lure him in, don’t even try. Unless, of course, you have a vast knowledge base of all things pertaining to anime, ninjas, zombies, nerdy card games, medieval weaponry and torture devices, and of course…girls.

The Jonathan is capable of ingesting enough food for a family of 5 in a single meal. If you want those tater tots on your plate, I recommend that you don’t even chew. Once his plate of human chow has been devoured with such swiftness that you’re left with some question as to whether or not he even tasted any of it, anything that you have left is fair game.

Often dabbling in things of questionable legality, the Jonathan is attracted to anything that he should likely not be doing, or things that are incredibly sharp and threatening…and lighters, let’s not forget lighters… because fire is a teenage boy’s best friend.

While the Jonathan only emerges from his den when he smells food, requires bathing, or needs to relieve himself, he is, in fact, quite polite. You can ask him to do just about any chore without argument, and if he does give you a hard time when you make a request of him, it’s always done purely in playful jest. His sisters could learn a thing or two from his level of compliance.

The Jonathan came to be part of my zoo by marriage.

And here, directly in our path, blocking our view of any other wildlife until we acknowledge her beauty is…

The Grace: (attentionus demandus) Real Age: 14 going on 15. Calculated age in human years: 65

The Grace has been there. The Grace has done that. The Grace knows what you should be doing, when you should be doing it, and won’t hesitate to offer her services in telling you exactly how you should be living, eating, sleeping, playing, walking, or even…breathing. The Grace knows all. Next to God, the Grace is the most knowledgeable being in existence. Her wisdom stretches far beyond the reaches of the galaxy.

Communication is hard with this one. Every word that comes out of your mouth she sees as a personal challenge. If you were to state that pickles are crunchy, you’d best be prepared to spend the next hour debating the fact that they aren’t always crunchy, and how she doesn’t appreciate that you would imply that they are. An encounter with the Grace has the potential to leave you more exhausted than running the Boston Marathon.

The Grace also has this uncanny ability to twist any story that you tell and make it about her. Oh, you’ve been to the moon before? So has the Grace, and the fact that you’ve done it simply MUST be overshadowed by the fact that she has also, and she’s done it…better. You wanted to regale us with a tale of something funny that happened to you last week? Tough. This isn’t about you. Everyone in the known universe would much rather hear about the Grace’s adventures, whether they know it or not.

While lacking common sense some of the time, the Grace is incredibly book smart and quite pleasing to look at. She’s going to be one of those women that require you to do a double take and look at twice when you pass them in a public place, with her large sparkling brown eyes and her lovely brunette locks. She can play the piano like nobody’s business and is a quick learner. When she decides to be sweet and loving, she could very well give you a cavity, but when she decides to be rotten, a thousand hells hath not seen the evils that she is capable of inflicting upon you.

The Grace came to be part of my zoo by marriage.

 Last but not least, coming up on our left, we have…

The Cameron: (Smallish Disasterus) Watch it, they spit. Real Age: 11 going on 12. Age in human years: 5

I often say to the Cameron, “Son, you’re a disaster wrapped in a tragedy,” because he has a tendency to not pay attention to what he’s doing. Ever. This usually results in something being broken, stained, or otherwise completely destroyed. I also firmly believe that the Cameron suffers from what I like to call ‘The Reverse Midas Touch’. Somehow, everything he puts his paws on turns into a sticky, gooey mess, even if he himself is not covered in any sort of disgusting substance. It’s completely bewildering and almost as magical as the unicorn. I have yet to figure out how this phenomenon works.

The Cameron also has this parrot-like ability to repeat things that he’s overheard, usually when least expected, and ALWAYS  with whom you would not like the information to be shared. If the Cameron has heard or seen what someone is getting for Christmas, you can rest assured that it will no longer be a surprise by the time Christmas actually arrives. If the Cameron overhears what one sister has said about the other one, expect him to provoke a sibling battle faster than the speed of sound. You really wish that your friend didn’t need to invade your personal space because they spit when they talk? Don’t worry, if the Cameron knows, soon, they will too. And speaking of spit spraying, if you haven’t had a shower yet today, the Cameron’s got you covered. If you stand too close you’re likely to drown in a saliva waterfall.

When the Cameron was born, he was a BIG pup, and most of it was his head, which caused the doctors some concern. It’s earned him the nickname of my ‘baby bobble-head’ for most of his life. He’s growing into it as time goes by, though. He’s super cute because even at the ripe old age of 11, he still doesn’t have an extensive knowledge of the English language base, so words that he thinks he knows the meaning of don’t always fit with what he’s trying to say. For example, when he was trying to tell us that his sister’s insanely obnoxious pet rabbit has “spasms” all over the place when you let him out of the cage, he used the word “orgasms” instead. This resulted in a stifled bout of laughter from me and some gentle correction, of course. He’s proof positive that ‘kids say the darnedest things’. I wish that I could hold on to his puppy years, but he’ll be your average, obnoxious pre-teen boy critter before too long. His siblings would argue that he’s already there.

The Cameron came to be part of my zoo by birth.

And thus concludes our tour. I hope you enjoyed yourself and will come back and visit us again. If you find that any of the belongings that you came with are missing, don’t expect to see them again. Teen-creatures are sneaky like that.

Note from the Author: My husband pointed out that while humorous, others might tend to view this post as somewhat harsh and abrasive because of the fact that I AM a Christian woman. I felt the need to explain that in our household, playful teasing and poking fun of each other is just part of daily life. It’s how we interact with one another, as long as one’s teasing doesn’t become hurtfully nasty. I can assure you that I have read this story to all of the kids, which resulted in peals of belly laughter and affirmations of, “Oh my gosh! That’s sooo me!”