Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Dukes of Hazard in a Grocery Cart

Growing up is hard to do.

The list of things that you are no longer able to do for no other reason than you are simply too big is growing around here every day.

Tonight we discovered another one to add to the list of restrictions for my 6-yr-old:

The grocery cart ride.

It went down like this: hubby is traveling (again) for work and it's just the girls, me, and Hank. Around 6:30 I remembered that this was my last night to gather the items Lauren needed to bring to school for a Thanksgiving food drive, so I was forced to load everyone up (NOT the dog) and head off to the closest grocery store, which just happens to be Kroger.

I am not a huge fan of Kroger for several reasons (not the least of which are the fruit flies who seem quite cozy in the produce department), but when you just need a couple items, it'll do in a pinch.

Kroger is my kids' favorite grocery store for one reason and one reason only.

The car grocery carts.

They LOVE these things. The novelty of "driving" a car with a steering wheel and a working horn is just more than they can pass up. And so, even though it was a quick in-and-out kind of errand, we of course had to get a car buggy and let the younger girls ride in style. I have often thought that this is probably how Bo and Luke from the Dukes of Hazard got their start. A little two seater with open windows to hop in and out of.

The problem with this is that that makes me either
(and you've got another thing comin' if you think THIS Mama's ever gonna showcase those Daisy Dukes

or, infinitely worse, is option B.)

Boss Hog.
Might as well be honest, we as mothers often play the part of the villain, don't we? less insulting, is option C:

Roscoe, the dim-witted and gullible policeman, which sadly pretty much describes me. Law enforcement and often totally confused as to what to do to lawbreakers in my home.

But I digress...

The youngest piled in. She did look awfully cute in that little car, I must admit. A big smile on her face and flexing her hands for the workout ahead. You see, put a 3-yr-old in a car riding low to the ground and she's perfectly positioned to grab anything and everything she can within arm's reach. She can quietly and stealthily collect items that appeal to her (or just that she can reach...what 3-yr-old likes canned artichokes?) and quickly tuck them away in her getaway car. Sometimes I worry that my kids are kleptomaniacs.

The problem occurred when the 6-yr-old began to get in the car buggy. One leg in, shoulder in, bending over to get her head under the car's roof....Hmm...this wasn't working like she remembered.

I suggested that perhaps she had outgrown the car and could just walk. This was about as popular a recommendation as the time I dared suggest that maybe milk did not necessarily HAVE to be chocolate in order to be consumed.

She continued to squeeze and smash and fold herself up in order to fit into that car and eventually stuffed herself in. Her poor little sister in the passenger seat was flopping over the other side, practically pushed out by her big sister lopping over into her space.

I was a little concerned that the car might have a breakdown, but nevertheless, we pressed on.

Stuffed like little sardines, they were surprisingly pleasant. Remember, it was near bedtime and that is pretty much always the best time of the day for sibling peace. They'll do ANYTHING to avoid early bedtime, even if it means being nice to each other.
We happily rolled up and down the aisles hunting for our needed items, and in the providence of God (I don't say this lightly...I seriously had been in a dilemma about this), we passed by this:

Pirate's Booty.

The thrill of the kindergarten class for the last three weeks. It was literally ALL I had heard about regarding my daughter's education in recent days. A friend had been bringing it to school for snack and Lauren would just be in heaven if only she could have some, too.

The trouble was, her description of the Pirate's Booty was slightly, shall we say, vague.

Mom, it's white stuff that looks like popcorn but it's not popcorn.

Did her mom make it or is it from a store?

I don't know. It looks like popcorn but it's not popcorn. And it's white.

Okay. Got it.

And so, when my eye just happened to spot a bag of the stuff, I slammed on the brakes of that car buggy (which was ok because the girls were wedged so tightly in there that they didn't move an inch) and happily picked up a bag.

This was one happy (and cramped) little girl.

Car buggies and Pirate's Booty. It's small pleasures like these that make growing up a little less painful.
"Oh, Roscoe, don't your tiny pea brain know nothin'?"

Pirate's Booty, folks. Now THIS is kindergarten cool.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The time we really DID pull over

We are raising not just one criminal now, but two.

A few months back I told you about our youngest child's obsession with taking mail out of other people's mailboxes. It amounts to nothing short of mail fraud. Her sisters have warned her repeatedly of her imminent future at "juvie"but she just won't stop.

It seems the criminal intentions run strong in this family, because now my middle child has taken to a life of crime as well.

You see, she has a substantial addiction to a certain illegal activity. She just can't seem to help herself. It's like a compulsion, a habit quickly taking hold of her life. We are looking into an intervention program.

This is my first time to say this out loud, so it's a big step for me, here it is. My daughter is a...


A serious, repeat offense litterbug.

It started out innocently enough. And I suppose I'm to blame for planting ideas into her little mind. One day, I had no time to make my usual egg beaters and beans breakfast (I know, it's weird), so I grabbed a banana and herded everyone into the van. We live out in the county and there are lots of cotton fields and empty acres we drive by before hitting the 'big city'. Well, I finished my banana, waited til we got to a big, empty field, and tossed the peel out the window.

Some of you will never read this blog again. I understand. It's shameful and I guess I shouldn't do it and I am a bad person. I get it. I'll stop.

But be that as it may, my daughter must have observed my actions and concluded that it is perfectly acceptable to toss anything and everything out the window the moment it is no longer desirable to you.

The first offense took place a few weeks ago. My husband loaded up Lauren and her cute backpack into the Tahoe, stopped to pick up the neighbor kids for carpool, and headed off to take them to school.

Lauren, in the midst of all the childish chatter and AM radio in the background, politely asked her Daddy to please roll down her window (because he's no fool...he keeps the window locks on at all times).

"Sure, babe," he replied, and pressed the button without a second thought.

Unfortunately for Lauren, the carpool kiddos were quite alert that morning and reported her actions immediately to her father. She had thrown out the remainder of her breakfast, a napkin, and a spoon into someone's yard. When asked why she'd done it, she simply replied nonchalantly, "I was finished, Dad."

She was, of course, strongly reprimanded (which is a serious consequence in front of older kids) and told to never throw her trash out the window again. Or else.

"Or else what, Daddy?"

"Or else we'll stop the car and you'll have to get out and pick it up off the side of the road."


Hmm. Not really the reaction he was looking for.

The next offense was even more blatant and bold. She was getting more skilled at her life of crime, though thankfully her talent at stealth is still fairly terrible at age 6. She's pretty much an open book.

Daddy, once again the favorite parent of our little duo, took the girls to Dairy Queen after dinner for a special treat.

Now two of our kids have no trouble whatsoever finishing their small blizzards. Lauren, however, just doesn't eat that much and asked if she could take hers home to save.

Dairy Queen is located approximately 3.5 miles from our home. It is not a long journey. However, during the five minutes or less it takes to get back, Lauren tired of holding her blizzard. It was too cold, it was too cumbersome, it was too...tempting.

She looked out the window. She looked at her Dad, who had his eyes on the road. The van was dark. After about 1.3 seconds to consider the possible consequences, she threw caution to the wind.

"Daddy, would you roll down the window?"

You'd think this question might have alerted Daddy to something fishy going on, but conservative AM talk radio is just too distracting sometimes to be able to focus on what's taking place in the vehicle. After all, the country is going to hell in a hand basket. He can't focus on his children at a time like this!

And yep, she did it again. Just chucked that Reese's blizzard right out the window without a second thought.

Of course, you must remember that sisters exist for the sole purpose of tattling when the opportunity arises. This was one they couldn't pass up.


I'll spare you the drama and tears that daddy's little speech caused. Luckily for her, it was dark and it was bedtime. Her sentence was clearly explained and would be carried out the next morning.

Fast forward 12 hours or so. Daddy, true to his word, loaded up the children in the van and drove them to the scene of the crime. They spotted the sticky blizzard cup easily enough and pulled the van off to the side of the road.

With her sisters snickering, Lauren made the walk of shame through the grass to retrieve her trash.

She quickly grabbed it and got back in the van, but again, the reaction was not quite what my husband had anticipated.

She LOVED it. Thought it was the greatest adventure ever to get out of the car on the side of the road she'd passed so many times before.

I'm having visions of my daughter as an adult. She'll be pushing a wheelbarrow, wearing a neon yellow construction vest she stole from some blue collar, hard-working soul, and she'll be happily collecting every piece of trash she can find.

They'll call her the 'trash lady' around the community. And it will be my husband's fault. He introduced her to the thrill of walking on the side of the road when she was just six years old. It could result in a career goal we didn't exactly plan on. I need to hide our trash bags.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Skating Sagas

I thought I had a few more years before this hit.

My husband is scared spitless. I'm afraid I'm not much better off.

Girls. Hormones. Emotional gymnastics.

I took the girls and their friend roller skating today since they had the day off school. That sounds like fun, right?

Everyone happily gathered their roller skates, piled into the van, and off we went.

We entered the rink and all the memories from the 80's and 90's came rushing back. The disco balls, the loud music, the carpeted walls, even the radio-voiced DJ announcing games like the hokey pokey and limbo.

The girls put their skates on and were off. But not to skate. Oh, no, off to the arcades, of course. I really could've saved the admission price and just given them that money to spend on ski ball and such. Whatever.

While they were gone, I people watched. I couldn't help but notice the 40 something couple skating like pros in the middle of the rink. We all know the middle is where the REALLY cool, REALLY good skaters hang out. They didn't seem to have any children with them and were really living it up out there, dancing and showing off their moves. I am a really terrible person, but I found it kinda funny, especially the fact that they were both holding white hand towels for some reason. Were the towels to mop the sweat from their brows? Were they just keeping towels handy in case they needed to wash their hands? I was puzzled, until I noticed that the towels seemed to be for the sheer purpose of swinging them around, further scoring 'cool' points. They were using them kind of like a cowboy would use a lasso or a dancer would use a scarf as a prop.

Oh, to have that kind of inhibition. But I'm pretty sure my girls will one day be thankful I am not that bold.

My youngest returned and was ready to skate. I tightened her Tinkerbell velcro skates, held her hand, and stepped out onto the rink. Ten minutes later, we finished our first lap.

As we came upon the cool lockers, I found my daughter sitting on the floor with her head in her hands, obviously crying. We went to go investigate the problem.

She looked up at me with tear-stained cheeks and said, "Everybody hates me."

I spent about the next 15 minutes trying to figure out what had happened, but conversation is not easy when Justin Bieber and Vanilla Ice are blaring through the speakers.

I tried everything I could think of to cheer her up. We finally moved past the "everybody hates me" tears to the "I'm ruining it for everyone" tears. These were followed by, "I want to have fun but I can't stop crying and I don't know why" tears.

Oh, boy. I began having visions of the next 16 years or so at my house with tween and adolescent girls. I suddenly had a tiny bit of understanding for why my husband surprised us and brought a male dog home earlier this year (I said understanding, not agreement). He's fearful of all the drama in our home.

Meanwhile, the 40-something professional skaters were still at it. Sometimes the woman would skate in the middle by herself while her partner took a break. Then the man would come out and show his cool moves to all the 10-year-olds skating around him. All the while, both kept their white hand towels with them, swinging them and jiving to the Miley Cyrus songs.

I finally got my child settled down. She never did admit that not everybody hates her, but at least she wasn't sobbing with her head in her hands. As we got ready to leave, the DJ announced that the next song was "by request". The lights turned down low, the white strobe gently circled the wooden floor, and the most classic roller skating song ever played over the speakers. Bet you can guess...

"Endless Love".

We sat and watched the couple slow skating, arm in arm and gazing into each other's eyes, all around the rink.

It occurred to me that the skating rink brings out the hormones in everyone. Little girls, big girls, grown men, it doesn't matter.

Maybe I'll surprise my husband with a romantic date to the skating rink. I have lots of hand towels we could use. I'd be worried that the rink will be crowded on a Friday or Saturday night, but then again, all the girls will be crying, anyway.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Midnight Stagger

I heard it in the wee hours of the morning. It was still dark out.

A little voice, calling through the darkness with great anguish, seeking solace from the presence of her favorite person in the universe. Me.

And as all good (or honest) mothers do, I put her off for a couple minutes. She didn't sound seriously distressed. I knew she couldn't be injured because she was calling from her bed. No danger of falling off a bike or imminent disaster involving bloodshed could be possible at this hour.

Perhaps she'll go back to sleep, I thought.

When is the last time any mother said this to herself and saw it actually happen? The odds of winning a lottery you didn't even buy a ticket for are considerably higher.

And so, after a few minutes as I listened to her cries grow increasingly indignant, I pulled myself from the warmth of my new down comforter, tried to be very quiet so as not to disturb my peacefully sleeping husband (Oh, whoops...did I accidentally throw the covers off of YOU instead of me? My mistake, babe, go back to sleep...), and padded my way down the carpeted hallway to her room.

There she was, sitting up in her bed with her pillow pet and favorite stuffed puppy dog surrounding her. She looked kind of mad.

Really mad, actually. As if she'd caught me trying to pull a fast one on her. Which, to be truthful, is exactly what had happened. It just took her a while to catch on.

You see, the night before, I had kind of reached my limit. I'd been "on" for the last 13 hours and was pretty much done with the whole "be a good mother" thing. So again, as all good (or honest) mothers sometimes do in those moments, I suggested that I needed some snuggle time with my girls in my big king sized bed.

This is code for "I'll let you watch t.v. if you'll just lay here quietly and let me veg out for a bit before bed."

Of course they were ecstatic. We watched some show on TLC about a wedding dress shop and finding the 'perfect gown'. They were really into it, especially my middle one, who had a running commentary going on the bustles and the length of the trains and the bling...which is a little bit scary to me as I have THREE perfect gowns to pay for in my future, but I digress...

Anyway, the youngest darling fell asleep in my bed somewhere around the time we watched a bridesmaid telling a bride she looked like she'd stepped out of the shower with a white towel on instead of a dress. This of course was my master plan all along.

She was carefully and painstakingly placed in her own little bed and we called it a night. Phew, I thought...that was sweet AND did not involve a huge pajama war. Perfect.

Perfect, that is, until I walked into her room to pay the piper for my deeds.

It came down to this: I had put her to bed without the love of her life. Her reason for living. Her source of strength and inspiration:

"Kissee," her beloved pink fuzzy blanket. She named it all by herself.

I knew I had done it. I only kind of made an effort to look for it as I tucked her into bed. After all, she was already asleep and was offering no protest. She'd find it in the morning after she got up.

Uh, yeah.

She looked at me with her angry eyes. The judgement and condemnation written all over her chubby cheeks. Even her ringlets looked mad. In slow and overpronunciated words, she communicated to me my grievous charge: "Where. Is. Kissee."

Sweat began to form on my brow. I looked over at her sleeping sister in the other twin bed. The words were on my lips to blame her. I could make up some story about how "I think your big sister had it last". But something about the innocent way she was sucking her thumb and snuggling her favorite bunny discouraged my lying tongue.

Guilty. There was no way around the charge. Now I must serve my time.

And so, without a word, I turned, padded back down the carpeted hall, and began the search and rescue operation in the dark. I checked the bathrooms, the playroom, the guest room, under the beds, in the laundry basket. No Kissee. I staggered, bleary-eyed, down the stairs and checked the family room, the living room, under the dining room table. No Kissee. I even went out in the cold garage and checked in the van. Nothing. Not a trace of Kissee to be found.

Fearing the reaction I would face when I revealed this sad truth, I came up with a plan. Yes, I thought, this would definitely work.

A moment later, I pasted a smile on my face, added a little bounce to my step (which is not easy at this hour of the morning), and presented my daughter with a "brand new, BIG, SOFT blanket from...the closet!" Unsure at first, she tentatively reached out for the fleece blanket in my hands. She examined it, grabbed a fistful, put her thumb in her mouth, and the blanket up to her nose, as is her custom.

One second later, she looked at me with utter disgust and said, "Mom. This blanket smells like butter. I cannot use it."

Seriously? Butter? How is that even possible as it's been stored in the bathroom closet for months? I took a little whiff and confirmed that she was making up an outrageous claim. And yet, I knew it was futile to argue.

Back to the closet. Blanket #2. This time a huge king sized blanket that just about knocked me over when I pulled it down from the top shelf. I dragged it to her room, found my smile and perkiness once more, and happily presented it to her.

Again with the fistful of blanket, the thumb sucking, and the holding of the blanket up to her nose.

And again, I was met with defeat and rejection.

I was getting desperate. There was only one more blanket left. I had a feeling this was going to end very badly for all of us if I couldn't find an acceptable Kissee substitute. And fast.

Just as I was about to step out of her room for the third time to find another offering to the little dictator, I heard her say some beautiful words. Music to my ears.

"Okay, Mom, I'll just use Anda."

Anda. Another blanket she named all on her own. The blanket I've been trying to get her to love for about a year now in case Kissee should ever turn up missing. Anda sleeps in her bed every night along with Kissee (not because she wants it, but because I'm working on growing her affection for it). Anda rests on her bed, alone and unloved, night after night. And yet, in my child's moment of greatest need and loneliness, Anda was there to hear the call.

Anda. The hero I always knew she could be. In our darkest hour, it was Anda who saved us all.

That little blanket will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Fast forward about 3 hours. In walks my little princess, happily clutching the missing Kissee.

"What in the world?! WHERE did you find Kissee?"

"In the pantry."

Of course. Why didn't I think of that?

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