Thursday, February 25, 2010

Privacy....PLEASE!!!




I have vague recollections of a time when the bathroom was a solitary place. A place where I could calmly select my clothes for the day, apply my make-up at my own pace, and take showers that were on my own terms.

These are distant memories. In fact, I’m so far removed from those days that I can hardly picture them in my mind. The following is a fairly accurate description of “bathroom time” as a mother of small children. I will spare my readers the more graphic details, but if you are a mama and are living this life, you will smile with understanding and read between the lines...


When you are pregnant, there are certain things you give up for the sake of a healthy baby. One of these is most definitely dignity. But, it is for the good of the child and to monitor your own health, so of course you don’t hesitate. After all, privacy will once again be yours after the baby is born and all the doctors visits are over.

WRONG.


The other day I was in a Target restroom (because as every mother knows, the best way to cure a constipated child is to take them to a public place. It is a scientific fact that they will produce a very dirty diaper for you within two minutes of arriving at any store. Or if they are potty trained, they will suddenly have the bladder of a 9 month pregnant woman and need you to take them to the restroom at least five times in 20 minutes....but I digress...).

Anyway, during my time in the Target restroom as I changed Leighanne, I casually observed another young mother struggling with her brood. She had a son about three years old (who was quite excited at the prospect of being in his very own stall) and a sleeping infant strapped to her chest. This mother got her son situated and proceeded to take herself and her baby to the stall next door. A few seconds passed and the singing little boy suddenly charged out of his stall and into his mother’s, who was, shall w

e say, less than prepared for the door to be opened. She said her son’s name rather loudly and pushed him out as she frantically tried to close the door. All the while, her infant is just sawing logs and completely unaware of the added stress she is placing on her mother (quite literally....the stress on your back from those things is unbelievable!). This little routine happened several times and ended with the mother locking her son out and him crawling on his belly to get into her stall. You can imagine how happy she was to see his little head pop under the door with toilet paper stuck to his face and fingers in his mouth. She was probably already mentally clearing her schedule for the next day to spend at the doctor’s office and drug store.

Finally, the mother emerged from the stall (looking slightly less than relaxed) and began the hand washing process. This is no small feat when your child isn’t tall enough to reach the soap dispenser or faucet on his own. She managed to pick him up, get soap and water on his hands, and told him to scrub. Now, you and I understand what scrub means. It is not a complicated word. However, this little boy didn’t seem to grasp her meaning and just hung there in her arms like a 35-lb. wet blanket, the infant now sandwiched between her mother and her brother. The poor mother summoned all her superpower strength and managed to hold him, wash his hands for him, and hold her infant and diaper bag all at the same time. She finally put him down and directed him to the hand dryers, where he had a great time putting his head under it and opening his mouth to suck in all the air.


But the poor woman still wasn’t finished. She hadn’t washed her own hands yet (or her infant’s head, which at this point had every germ in the bathroom seeping into her bald little pores, thanks to her brother’s well meaning but grubby little hands). She leaned forward to begin the washing routine, her baby’s head wobbling back and forth as she tried in vain to rinse without actually moving. She never even attempted the hand dryer. And freshening up her lipstick? This mama probably couldn't even get to her lipstick without being a gold medal gymnast.


This, my friends, is a very typical experience in public restrooms. All this, and the poor woman had not even begun her shopping, the whole reason she entered the store in the first place 20 mintues prior. There really should be a lounge area outside bathrooms for mothers to re-group and go ahead and make tomorrow's dr. appointments.


Years ago, a friend shared her idea with me of having your children place their hands on their heads during the public bathroom visits. There have been many times we’ve sung the “head, shoulders, knees and toes” song and I’ve acted like a broken record stuck on the “head and shoulders” part. No doubt onlookers have seen me marching my kids into the restroom with their hands on their heads and wondered just what kind of discipline I am using, or assumed I have reached my breaking point and am holding them at gunpoint. I should add there have been times I’ve wished I had a gun when I finally emerge from the public restroom only to have my sweet husband (whom I love dearly and who would help himself if we didn't have all girls...he and God had some kind of deal going on that one), remind me we’re in a hurry and ask if we got lost in there. Sorry, baby, it was just so much fun in there I decided we should camp out and have a snack on the germ infested tile floor.


At home, it is much the same. The one place that should offer peace and quiet is fair game as far as your kids are concerned. Many mothers practically build a circus type atmosphere in hopes that they can escape to the restroom ALONE for 30 seconds, only to hear their children beating on the door and crying the moment they realize they are without their mommy. It’s like being in the bathroom WITH mommy is the pinnacle of their day, the crowning moments of their childhood, and they are not going to miss it for ANYTHING. And I should probably add that at no other point in the day will your children be more attuned to your every move than when in the bathroom with you. You will have their complete transfixed attention, so the good multi-tasker may choose to take advantage of this by questioning them to find out who exactly smeared desitin on the walls or discussing WHY it’s a bad idea to try to clip your siblings’ fingernails for them.


So the next time you see a mother with little ones headed to the restroom, say a short prayer for her. She is entering a place that no one but a fool (or a supermom) would ever dare attempt on her own. One day the bathroom will once again be a place of privacy, but for now, fellow supermoms, it may as well be called Wall Street, because it’s one crazy place.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Kids and Politics



I'm starting to think that kids could truly, honestly take over the political scene. Let's think about this for a moment. Kids are naturally motivational speakers, full of charisma and charm, able to persuade large crowds of people to do what they want. They get results, though sometimes we as the public turn a blind eye to their methods. Trust me, you'd rather not know the types of coercion they have at their disposal.

If one child figures this out, we're done for. They will be united and rise up to take over the world in less time than it takes to warm up a pop-tart (which is 13 seconds, I know).

Don't believe me? I have two words for you: SILLY BANDS.

For those of you not familiar with the term, let me enlighten you. These colorful little bands have transformed the lives of children (and parents) everywhere. Kids are picking up their toys, eating all their vegetables, and even going to bed on time without complaint all for the promise of these magic pieces of political power. I say it in awe and reverence....the SILLY BAND.

We will not mention at this point how the creator of the silly band is sitting at home still laughing in disbelief that parents are actually paying up to $7 for a pack of, well, rubber bands. People everywhere are still kicking themselves for not thinking this one up.

Anyway, every day my kindergartener and 4-year-old rush home to tell me of their winnings and trading escapades. I picture a scene similar to Wall Street. One must use the power of trading bands carefully and thoughtfully. Holding the current coveted band in your possession is a powerful thing not to be treated lightly. I can clearly see what would happen if one smart kid figures out the power he holds over other children when he is the owner of a rare band. We're talking PR people, secret service, even a Camp David set up on the playground, exclusively for the use of the kid in power.
Fortunately, no child has yet to tap into the pure power represented in the silly band phenomenon. But just you wait, when your kid bursts through your front door
with 19 candy bars, 3 DS systems, an iPOD, and a new bike, you will notice one thing missing: her soul. She has stepped into the world of politics and will stop at nothing. Silly bands = POWER. Dictators have gotten started with less influence than the kid on the corner holding the latest model of the silly band.

Do I overestimate their understanding and underestimate their innocence? If you think so for even a second, you are not a parent

Wednesday, January 13, 2010




The Annual Crying Day...it's not what you think

My eyes scan the area quickly for signs of lurking employees. It's as if I can FEEL their anxious eyes boring into me, just waiting for what they see as imminent disaster. And I can hardly blame them. After all, even a supermom cannot prevent EVERY disaster, and I have voluntarily placed myself in a situation that will require all my skills, all my training.

Here we are. The moment my kids have chattered about and I have prepared for since the last time we were here. The one place where time actually does stand still, only it's more like Matrix and I am moving in slow motion, beads of sweat forming on my brow as I move towards the imminent catastrophe.

The annual choosing of a Christmas ornament at Hobby Lobby.

I guide my excited daughters to the ornament area, which really should have a "KEEP OUT" sign for mothers and children. Happily for them, however, it is still legal for me to take my butter fingered kids to this dangerous land.

We arrive and they are starstruck, their eyes glazing over as they look up and around at the hundreds of glittering, jingling, beautiful ornaments they are to choose from. I remind them that they may choose one ornament that they feel a connection with this year, something that accurately portrays their personalities and interests. I'm still reminding them to choose something that has meaning, something they'll look back on with fondness and smile as they recall the special reason they chose their ornament when, in the middle of my inspiring speech, a glittery glass goldfish is shoved in my face.

A goldfish? First of all, fish have not had exactly the best run of luck with the Webbers. When I was a teacher, my fish actually committed suicide. I found them lying dead on the classroom floor next to the tank, ready to face death rather than another day under my care. At our house, one fish was euthanized when it showed even the slightest inkling of perhaps swimming sideways (if you turned your head just right you could really convince yourself that it was not well), the other was flushed for no other reason than 1.) the kids didn't care and 2.) Michael couldn't find the fish food. But hey, if that's what represents special meaning to my dear Olivia this year, then so be it.

My 28-lb. force of nature is by now running wildly thru the aisle, swaying dangerously close to fragile ornaments. I am pretty sure I see an employee sigh and standby with a broom and dustpan in hand.

Lauren chooses a Nutcracker ornament, which is actually a great one for her this year as she is obsessed with that play and we have watched it 19 times in two weeks. Olivia helps choose one for Leighanne (I cannot remember what it was since I was at this point holding her upside down by her foot as she lunged for the $35 crystal ornament of some kind).

We're finished! We did it! I gather my children and smile smugly at the broom-toting employee, whose heart almost audibly begins beating normally again as he watches us depart. Dare I say it? An ornament choosing expedition is actually going to end in success. No broken glass, no broken hearts.

And then, like in a race where you're two steps away from the finish line and your untied shoe lace trips you up, it happens.

CRASH.

WEEPING. WAILING. GNASHING OF TEETH.

Olivia is standing next to the carnage of her glass goldfish ornament on the floor which has exploded like someone put a firecracker inside it. Suddenly the smug smile is gone from my face and transferred to the employee, who is already making his way toward us.

I try to console my grieving child. Comforting children after an accident is part of my skilled training, after all. No big deal, I say, I'm sure in the hundreds of ornaments here we can find another one just like it.

We search. We scour. We look high and low (all while taking breaks to chase my toddler and pry her fingers off various fragile treasures and make her spit out the animal crackers she found on the floor). But alas, there is no duplicate of the precious goldfish, which of course causes even more pain and suffering. Seriously, how in the world did my daughter find the ONLY ornament in the whole store that doesn't have a twin?!

After much agony, another ornament is chosen. A lesser fish that will be tolerated, but not loved. I load my children in the car and breathe a sigh of relief that the annual day of choosing is over for another year. Will this tradition hold special memories for my girls in years to come? I hope so, but I don't know. I DO know that throughout the coming years my tree will be filled with ornaments that reflect their interests or just their whims at the time...and I will look back and smile. I pull out of the parking space and try to ignore the sight of that same employee lugging a trash bag of broken glass to the dumpster. Here's to making the moments count....sorry about that, Mr. Hobby Lobby man.

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