Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Terrible Awful


Sometimes our kids throw us for a loop. Just when you think you've got them figured out, their likes, their dislikes, their interests, etc., they change everything on you. They're a bit like volcanos which have the same volcanic activity for years and then, all of the sudden and for no apparent reason, erupt and everyone is taken by complete surprise.

This is what happened in our family yesterday.

You see, we are visiting my sister and her family in Texas this week. And, as we all know, there is a certain place here which nearly all little girls are drawn. What is it?

The American Girl Store.

Once our girls got wind of the fact that such a store existed, there was no getting out of it. They had to see it. It was a must. So when we took them to the Galleria to ice skate and it was way too crowded to have any fun at all, they started begging to be taken to the doll store instead.

What could we do? They had seen the darn place when we drove in.

Fine. We walked them over there, half hoping a huge meteor would crash into the place mere moments before we arrived (and miraculously no one would be hurt, of course).

But no such luck. There it was, gleaming like the lost treasures of the Titanic, beckoning to my wide-eyed children.



It was incredible. It was like little girls everywhere were making their pilgrimage to the Promised Land. Mecca. They had glazed eyes and open mouths as they looked around, barely noticing when their parents called out to them not to run into the glass displays. It was almost as if some kind of intoxicating gas had been released into the air and little girls were having out of body experiences.



So anyway, my children entered this holy place. It would not have been inappropriate in their view for the hallelujah chorus to sound as they crossed the threshold.

Beautiful dolls EVERYWHERE. Their hair was perfectly smoothed and curled. The displays showed dolls having tea parties and sleepovers and riding ponies and sitting at their school desks. It was pretty unbelievable. Heck, it made ME wish I could have a doll.


We toured the doll salon, where girls were watching with glassy eyes as their baby dolls were being restored to their original beauty. The masses of tangled plastic hair and toddler applied ink pen tattoos being easily and magically removed. Bows and barrettes and even necklaces and earrings were being applied. There were giggles of delight from girls and shivers of dread from parents as they watched their doll's hair bill growing and growing with each spray of mousse and each sparkly headband.

We saw the little restaurant where mothers and daughters were sharing a treat with their dolls in a high chair at the table.

We looked at the "just like me" collection where you can choose exactly what your doll looks like.

But sadly, the moment had to come sometime and this was it. The girls finally realized we meant it when we'd said they weren't getting a doll (and before you judge us too much, please remember that Christmas was a mere TWO days ago and they got more toys and junk than any child should have, really). Two of the three girls handled the sad reality quite well, all things considered.

One of them, however, was just downright distraught.

Devastated. The world as she knew it was over. Her big chocolate drop eyes brimming with tears, she looked into her daddy's eyes and begged forlornly for a baby doll. Little girls passing by us on every side clutching small bits of their college funds in the form of dolls.

In a moment of genius, I remembered that they'd received Target gift cards from their grandmother.

Perfect!! I knelt down and shared the happy news with my daughter that she could go to Target to pick out her own doll there. And in the miracle of a lifetime, she looked up at us with a big smile and said, "okay". She then proceeded to inform the doll consultant employee of our plans to go straight to Target to buy the knock-off. I quickly swept her away and smiled and offered a nervous laugh. Kids say the darndest things.

So, our mostly happy little entourage made our way back to the parking garage.

And THIS is when the "terrible awful" (to use a phrase from "The Help") went down.

Standing at the elevator, I mentioned how funny it was to see the dolls sitting in salon chairs getting their hair done. And adult in our family which was not me laughed and said, "yeah, Olivia, I didn't see any dolls in that place that had a haircut like your doll's does."

You should know that Christmas morning she got a little carried away with the scissors and her doll, Elizabeth. She pretty much ravaged the poor girl's tangled locks. The doll looks a little like Chucky now, bald spots and hair sticking up every which way.

Back to the story...Olivia looked at her daddy and stayed quiet. But then, it was just too much for her. Her hazel brown eyes filled with tears, her face scrunched up, and she looked down just as the first sob escaped.

You ever seen a man who wishes he could crawl into the nearest hole?

There are few things worse than making your child cry because you hurt their feelings. But this is what I was talking about...just when you think you know your children, they switch it up on you! Olivia doesn't care one bit about dolls. Never has. She's always preferred stuffed animals and pet shops to dolls. One would assume a comment like that would be laughed at. I suppose being at the mecca of doll world just wasn't the right time to use that joke.

Daddy wrapped a reluctant Olivia in his arms and said he was sorry. We all tried to talk about Elizabeth's good qualities and lie about how cute her new haircut looked. "She's got a GREAT personality," we all assured her.

Olivia just looked at us with tears streaming down her cheeks and told us to "throw her away".

I'll make a long story short(er).

Daddy, Olivia, and Lauren ended their day in Texas by going to Target to buy not one, but TWO new dolls.


Lauren named her blonde haired, blue-eyed doll "Maurice". (I just really don't know.)

Olivia, back to her true self after being removed from the poison gas at the doll store, chose a Fur Real penguin.

Daddy will never again tease a little girl about her doll's haircut. No matter if the thing has a mohawk, a bob, or is totally bald.

I just sat back and watched as he spent considerably more than the gift cards were for.

Thanks a lot, American Girl.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The 4-Hour Mom




A couple years ago, a book came out which has revolutionized my home. It has, without a doubt, been the single most impacting book my husband has read during our marriage. My dear husband and a couple of his close buddies have spent hours discussing the plethora of knowledge contained in the (many) pages of this, their newly discovered pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

For lack of a better term, they have become groupies. Followers. I won't go so far as to say worshipers, but sometimes their behavior and adoration is pretty darn close. It could possibly qualify as a man crush.

And who is this fantastic, larger than life author who has won the heart of my husband?

None other than the man, the legend, a one Mr. Timothy Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Body.

And I have to give him some props here...he inspired my husband to lose 30 pounds. I lost 30 as well using Ferriss' input as well as South Beach. It's been fun to work on it together and it is easier to chase our children with 60 some pounds off of us. I should point out here that I am not really as gung-ho and obsessed with every single thing the man has to say as certain men tend to be. But whatever.

Ferriss also authored another book, similarly titled, The Four Hour Work Week, in which he describes (and this is a very crude and basic summary) how business owners can so improve their efficiency and effectiveness at work that they can eliminate needless wasted hours. Needless to say, this work is also highly popular and admired by my dear husband, the business addict.

So...all this got me thinking...

Could it be possible to apply these same principles of efficiency to motherhood?

And then I got kinda mad. I could've been spending my extra hours soaking up the peace and quiet or enjoying a good book or, dare I say it, sleeping! What a moron I've been.

I've got it! The Four Hour Mom!!

Think about it! What bliss could be ours, fellow mommies out there, if we simply re-evaluated where we are spending the majority of our time and figured out how to make it more efficient?

I feel as though the world of opportunity has been opened to mothers everywhere. Tired of spending countless hours doing laundry? Let's just do it for 30 minutes every week and when the timer sounds, you're done. Finished. Just walk away from those wet and stinky clothes your kids seem to have played in the dumpster while wearing.

Cooking eating up all your time? Here's the new policy - you have 15 minutes per day to deal with food. You can open a lot of pop-tarts, chips, and frozen meals in 15 minutes. Done.

Let's see, at my house, clutter control takes up quite a bit of time. 15 minutes per day and that's it. Who cares if you are drowning in dixie cups and legos by the end of the week?

So we have one more hour to spend in parenting for the week. I suppose we should add in a little bit of actual interaction with our children. Alright, 15 minutes per day again, ladies. 15 whole minutes to nurture, train, discipline, and cherish your sweet little babies.



After that, kiss 'em good-bye and head to the spa. After all, you fulfilled your 4-hour requirement. It's all about efficiency, you see. And what, you may ask, will the children do for the remaining 164 hours each week?


Not your problem. You might want to leave a little cash, some band-aids, and the numbers to poison control and a good plumber (if you're feeling generous).

Enjoy, ladies. This is your new world. Much thanks to Timothy Ferriss, who has helped me to see the light. If it can be applied to business and your health, then why not parenting? Maybe I should write my own book and buy the title rights from him.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Hoarding


This year I may have gone a little overboard on the Christmas decorating thing.

I had a smallish party and wanted to make it special, so I did a few extra things like this:

a little fresh greenery and some ribbon. A nice touch, I thought.

I put some garland and big red ornament balls and lights on top of my china cabinet. It was lovely.

I added a wreath to the mirror in the dining room and set the table with silver charger plates and my fine china.

After all my effort and work (and even my sweet mother coming in to save the day just hours before the party and help me with the things I just couldn't get to), the big moment arrived.

No, not the party guests. My husband.

You need to understand something before I tell you what he said. My sweet husband is what is known as a minimalist. If left to his own devices and free will, he would live in a house with stark white walls, one futon couch, some paper cups and plates, and a bathroom. Done. He'd be in heaven.

I find this trait about him both freeing and odd at the same time. Freeing in the sense that neither of us like to see clutter build up. We prefer a tidy house (which I feel somewhat reluctant to say out loud b/c lots of you have actually been in my home and you know this is most of the time a pipe dream of ours instead of reality) with things put in their place.

I find this trait in him odd as well because this man who is not at all a collector of "things" for his house is EXTREMELY attached to things from his past such as all his high school and college papers, books, and trophies. Just tonight he was a little unhappy with me because he found three of his gigantic NEWK'S plastic cups in the trash.

He said, "but they're good cups. I like them."

I said, "but do we NEED twelve cups just because they're good ones? You go eat lunch at NEWK'S every single week! You can get more (which I will also throw away)."

But whatever...we've compromised and he's taken most of his prized possessions to his office.
(WHAT? You don't think that's a compromise? I know, you're right. He is a wonderful man who conceded by taking it out of the house and I love him for it.)

So anyway, back to the story...

In walked my husband for his first viewing of our newly festive home. And I quote...

"It looks like a Christmas hoarder lives here."

Hmm. Hoarder. Not really the look I was going for, and yet I feel somewhat correct in insisting that a little garland over the mantle and the china cabinet does not really put me in the same category as someone who literally has no place to sit in their home because of the 96,000 aluminum cans they've collected. Seriously, spouse of mine! A nativity set on the piano and a couple wooden snowmen in the window over the kitchen sink is NOT the same as a person who has acquired enough yo-yos and broken horse shoes to be buried alive in their hallway!

My suspicion is that, if given total control over our home's decor, when Christmas rolled around he would place a single, solitary candy cane on the mantle and tell us all, "Merry Christmas"! and that would be that. Charlie Brown's tree might even be too much for him. Made the room look too crowded for him.

I was a teeny bit self-conscious of all the suddenly gaudy decor after that, mere moments before my guests were to arrive. My black dress with a few sparkles on it suddenly seemed as offensive and obnoxious as if I were wearing and a Christmas sweater vest that had snowflakes that actually lit up and a festive antler headband. Perhaps I should've opted for a plain white turtleneck with khaki pants. Should I take off off all my make-up in favor of the "less cluttered" look and put on a pair of granny flats in place of my obnoxious high heeled boots?

Moms, let's face it. If it weren't for us, the world would be a very boring and ugly place. Our children would eat nothing but plain bread and water for their entire lives and they would never even know that such things as 600 thread count sheets exist. Our homes would look more like empty warehouses, cold and gray, and they would echo whenever someone spoke because of the lack of furniture.

So my husband thinks I'm a Christmas hoarder. Okay. But I think he's secretly glad, because if I weren't a "hoarder" he would have no clothes to wear or any place to sit down in his own home. We work well together, really. He makes the money, I spend the money on my "collections" (of basic furniture and clothing and decor).

Be watching TLC for me on Hoarders. You never know...



Thursday, December 22, 2011

For Cryin' Out Loud, People





Some of us are not helping our image, ladies.

*WARNING...before you read the following blog and get all huffy with me because I sound too critical and judgmental, please know that I am including myself in this intervention. I, too, have been guilty of everything I'm about to address (well, except the Christmas pants in public). AND...if you disagree with me and continue in your ways, please still be my friend. I can be a real jerk sometimes. And my final disclaimer: I know we all have weak moments and bad days. Boy, do I know that. However, those days hopefully should be only once in a while (so if you see me in public looking like a fashion nightmare, please just assume this is one of those days). Okay, there...onward and upward, right? Oh, Oh, and one more very important one...all the pictures in this blog are just from the internet and were NOT taken by me, ok?*

As stay-at-home moms, we are very often portrayed quite negatively. You know the stereotype. Moms who stay home are the women who wear clothes that were only marginally fashionable TWO decades ago, sadly have pants that barely reach our ankles, sport the "I have no time for my hair" haircut, and demonstrate a complete lack of comprehension of the business world out there.

We're doing our best to combat this image. Really, we are.

But seriously, moms, we've got to work together. Let's agree on a couple basics that we should pretty much take a solemn oath as sisters to NEVER forsake.

The other day I dropped my youngest off at her preschool for my three hours of sanity that week. I passed no less than THREE SAHMs (stay-at-home moms, all you corporate readers) sporting the oh-so-agregious full bodied leisure suit.
THIS is what some of us think we look like in our leisure suits. I am so sorry to say, it just ain't so (at least for me).

Now, before you get offended and think I'm too judgmental, you need to understand that I, too, am a recovering jogging suit wearer. I loved me some black sweats and black hoodie.

So you can understand the withdrawal and grief I experienced when I finally realized that...

they look terrible on us, sisters. They are not doing our figures any favors. And trust me, this old mom figure sure doesn't need anything else working against it instead of for it.

A friend commented the other day that her daughter was telling her about a huge painting she'd seen at someone's house. "Mom! It was like 10 times the size of your butt!"

Apparently children have abandoned the metric system in favor of the simpler and more exact method of measuring according to how many mom butts something is.

Let's not make this easy for them, ladies. I beg you.

And then...THEN...I was at Starbucks with some dear friends discussing life and the craziness of the season and how many times we've told our kids to tell our husbands what we'd like for Christmas when...

in walked two grown women in pajamas. And not just any pajamas. Christmas themed flannel pants.
***and again, don't get mad at me...this is a random picture I downloaded from the internet of another woman committing the same crime. I did NOT take a picture of the Starbucks ladies***

This is bad enough, but when you add in the unfortunate truth that these moms were slightly misinformed about the size they needed, it did them even less favors. Those reindeer and snowflakes and elves were stretched to maximum capacity across the mom hindquarters. I think I saw a child measuring in comparison to the height of the bookshelves against the wall.

Let's see, how many mom butts would it take to equal the height of that top shelf? 6? No, no, probably 7 1/2. We'll round up and say 8.


(Paula Claunch, this italics thing is totally stolen from your brilliant mind and blog...I love it and will pay you in free advertising to my three readers. Readers, you absolutely MUST read this blog. It's hilarious! http://akajanerandom.blogspot.com/ ).

We have to help each other, moms. A good general rule of thumb is if you could be sick with the flu and be comfortable wearing it, it's probably not your best choice for in public. DON'T make it easy for kids to measure things according to the size of your rear end. The last thing any of us want to hear is for our child to tell us that "the door is only ONE mom butt wide".


Starbucks! It has a drive-thru option, people! For cryin' out loud!

Medical Concerns


I made an dr.'s appointment for all my kids the other day. There is something really wrong with them. I'm very concerned.

Apparently they have all three gone deaf and are also suffering from short-term memory loss.

It happened gradually, a missed word here and there, a misunderstood sentence, a forgetful moment, etc.

At first I didn't think much about it, just attributed it to a noisy room or maybe I was mumbling when I spoke to them or maybe they were just tired when I gave instructions and their young little minds just simply forgot. No big deal.

But then, as time passed, their conditions became worse. Every day I began noticing things that folks with hearing loss sometimes do, such as inappropriate responses in conversation, not responding at all, or asking me to repeat what I said.

And even more concerning was the memory loss. At bedtime, for instance, we have had the same routine for eight years now (or however long I've had kids who have teeth). Brush your teeth, use the restroom, get a drink.

There are no surprises here and very little variation. And yet, almost nightly lately, my children just wander around the hallways looking dazed and disoriented, completely disregarding the fact that they have usual duties to perform. It's like they've never gotten ready for bed in their life. Almost like they've forgotten that there is such a thing as a toothbrush. It's this big surprise EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

"What? You mean you want me to brush my teeth? Is this a new rule?"

And with one of my children, who DETESTS brushing her teeth because it involves getting your hands wet and she can't stand that, being supposedly unaware of the routine means she is caught off guard. Every single night. And then we must go through the entire dramatic scene all over. It's quite similar to living with a belligerent Alzheimer's patient.

I have prepared my list of symptoms and concerns for the doctor. I've taken all three children to dr. appointments before, you see, and I know that it's somewhat difficult to remember what I wanted to talk to him about when I'm trying to keep my child's hands out of the toxic waste trashcan and telling the older girls to stop making rooster balloons out of the latex gloves.

The last time we went to the doctor, my youngest ran smack into on of those rolling metal trays doctors tend to keep in the hallway. She knocked it over and the sound of metal clanging on the tile floor was SO loud and startling that every doctor (there are 4 in the practice) came out of the patient rooms they were in to make sure no one had suffered a heart attack and fallen.

We tend to be kind of disruptive.

Anyway, my list of symptoms include such things as:
1. Staring at me with a confused look when I ask them to take their dishes to the sink, pausing just a second, then walking away.

2. Having ZERO recollection of being asked to put their shoes away in the basket. "What? I had no idea!"

3. Listening to my instructions and, when asked to repeat them back, saying something like, "won't get a blister" when in actuality what I said was, "don't tease your sister".

4. Looking directly at their young faces and explaining that they are not allowed to beg me to buy things when we get out of the car and go into a store. Then, before we even get past the front doors being asked four times to buy a stuffed animal or toy mouse (I know, it's weird, but that's her thing. Rodents.).

Sometimes I just look at them, totally baffled. I have visions of what our future might look like around here. All three will have hearing aids, wear name tags on their backs, I'll have to put signs on the refrigerator that say, "close the door" or "two cheese sticks is enough" because otherwise they'll eat the entire pack and leave the door open for hours.

Other times I think I should just stop talking altogether. Nobody can hear me, anyway. It would probably be a relief to my children that that annoying feedback and background noise that they can't quite make out but is always annoyingly there, is suddenly quiet. It would be like the relief you feel when your ears have been ringing and then suddenly stop and all is silent and normal again. It's wonderful. Perhaps I am just that never ending, droning background noise to my children.

I will stop. I just will simply stop speaking. I'll be the mute mom, my kids will be deaf and confused, and my husband will put us all away.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

IQs and kids

Okay.

The other day I was at a friend's house and just happened to nonchalantly find a place in the conversation to slip in the fact that I have almost completed the longest series of books I've ever read. I started way back in April of this year, and here we are in December and I'm just now turning the 800 some pages of the final book of the series.

This is no small feat when you're a mother.

Typically, I will put the kids to bed, put the kids BACK to bed about 4 to 5 times depending on how many excuses I'm able to intercept BEFORE they initially go to bed, and spend the next 30 minutes or so performing housecleaning CPR on my devastated home.

After that, there are usually a couple lunches to make, calendars to be checked for the next day's itinerary (which I used to NEVER need but at this point in my life can barely remember to take my shoes off before I fall into bed, so obviously I need some written reminders), and make my way to either the couch or the bed for a few moments of peace and quiet doing whatever I feel like.

Once a week, I spend those precious few minutes watching Modern Family, which I totally love. I try mightily to ignore the comments from my husband about the bossy stay-at-home wife and mother of three, Claire, and how she for some reason sounds so familiar to him...

This is the only show I watch.

The other nights of the week, I am drawn to my bed and see my little nightstand and lamp and un-illustrated, real, grown-up book waiting for me. I open it up, enjoying the sound and smell of the printed pages rustling and settling as I find my place, and settle in for some reading solitude.
Most nights I can hardly wait to finish the next chapter so I can find out how it's going to end.

The problem is this: most nights I simply cannot keep my eyes open for much more than 2 pages or so. It doesn't matter if the main character is being suspended upside down over a cliff by the bad guy, I just cannot muster the strength to stay awake.

You mothers out there will understand. All day long you've saved little people's lives by making them give back scissors and keeping them away from moving cars in parking lots. You've translated approximately 30 totally unintelligible statements from your toddler to those she's trying to communicate with. You've rescued the dog from the "spa" where you found the kids trying to paint his toenails and pluck his eyebrows. You've listened to the Disney princess sing-a-long so many times you realize that even your internal thoughts are now starting to be voiced in that sing-song, high-pitched princess voice. You've listened and comforted your 2nd grader who stormed in declaring this to be "the worst day of her life" for one reason or another. You've broken up so many would-be fights and listened to so many tattling sessions that you've determined to just go buy a police uniform because all you do is enforce the law in your home.

I could go on, but man, I'm sleepy.

But back to my original point here. I was feeling pretty proud of myself for nearing the end of this extremely long book series when my friend said, "Oh! My son just finished reading those! He started the first one in October and just loved them."

Two problems arise here:
1. Her son read these books in two months. I'm still counting at nine months and probably have a couple weeks to go.
2. and even more disturbing, the child in question here is EIGHT years old.

Oh, okay, three problems arise:
3. Why am I reading a book an 8-yr-old boy loves and what does that say about me and my IQ?

Harry, Harry, look what you and your magic world have done to me.

Man, is anybody else sleepy?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sometimes Traditions are Just Stupid


We've all seen the lines winding and looping through the mall to meet Santa. I've been part of these lines in the past, and they are a thing to behold, let me tell you. I've observed that there are generally three types of children in these crowds no matter how many people are crammed together. Let's examine these three personalities, shall we?

1. The goody two shoes.

This is the little girl or boy who is dressed to the nines, decked out in Christmas gear from head to toe. If a girl, then the Christmas bow on top of her head is absolutely perfectly aligned with the part in her hair and fluffed to perfection. Even her nails are painted and she may even have a tiny bit of glitter on her cheeks. She is standing perfectly still, perfectly quiet, perfectly....let's be honest....creepily.

I mean, what did these parents have to do to this poor kid to get her to display manners better than Emily Post? I am seriously moved to question them and glean from their admirable wisdom. Every kid has a siren, something they cannot resist. What was it, I wonder? The promise of a new puppy? A tiny bit too much Benadryl? A wild shopping spree through the toy store as soon as they're finished with the Santa line?

I don't know. I haven't found that magic temptress yet for my girls. It's like the holy grail.

All I know is that it's just not normal for a young child to stand in a line perfectly and absolutely quiet and patient. Downright weird.

2. Next, we have the taste tester child.

You've seen this one, I'm sure. And I can show enough humility to admit that this has been MY kid before. This is the child who just cannot seem to resist the temptation to lick EVERYTHING around him, no matter what it is or how it smells or where it's located. I have stood in line and seen a child literally licking the ropes used to divide the lines and guide the crowds. Yep. Just licked them all the way down the line while his parents shot impatient glares at the goody two shoes kid taking too much time with Santa.

This licking thing can be a problem. I mean, really, I've considered the pros and cons of allowing my children to keep their pacifiers thru high school graduation for this very reason. If they have something in their mouth, they will be less prone to explore the world around them using only their sense of taste.

Anyway, the licking kid is just gross. You might want to remember that the next time you pick up the salt and pepper shaker at your local restaurant. I don't want to incriminate anyone, but I do have certain offspring (2 out of 3) who have indeed licked the tops of the shakers. All that salt's not good for you, anyway, just skip it. Trust me on this one.

3. And finally, we have the more "expressive" child.

Oh, yeah. We've all seen this one, and unfortunately almost all of us (if you're honest) have been the parent of this child at one time or another.

This is the child who just doesn't give a darn about seeing Santa. "Wait a minute. You want ME to stand here and WAIT thru this ridiculous long line just so I can sit in a stranger's lap who is wearing a red leisure suit and has a cotton ball beard? AND you expect me to be GOOD during the 45 minute wait? Surely you jest."

I have to say, sometimes the parents of this kid need to take a moment for some perspective. Perhaps THEY should sit in Santa's lap if it's so important to them. For Pete's sake, if your kid doesn't want to do it, woohoo!!! You just saved yourself about an hour and $60 for a tacky 5x7 of your child looking furious sitting on a bored, smoker's cough and voiced Santa.

And yet, people continue to make us all miserable in the Santa line by forcing their child to stay in the line. The kid repeatedly attempts to escape by crawling under people's legs, wandering to stand with other people's families, and sometimes breaking into an all out run across the mall. The poor parents try to coax little Julianna to cooperate and promise her Santa will give her a candy cane, but it's to no avail. Finally, Julianna's had enough. It's time to pull out the big guns. It's time for the major tantrum showdown right there in the crowd.

This little darling finally arrives at the front of the line. Hair frayed and sticking out everywhere, dress rumpled, tear-stained and splotchy cheeks, to see Santa.

I can't help but notice Santa rolls his eyes ever so slightly, do a little yoga relaxation breathing, and checks his watch before welcoming the sweet child onto his lap.

And so, readers, this is the mystery of the Santa line. Perhaps we should discuss the three types of parents in the Santa line next time. There will be a quiz.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Assisted Living Home

nThis morning my daughter's kindergarten class made a trip to a nearby home for the elderly. They planned to sing a few Christmas songs and recite a verse and be all cute. As you know, elderly folk seem to just love seeing young kids and it was an easy way to spread some Christmas cheer.

I promised Lauren I would be there to hear her sing. First wrong move.

In keeping with every law of nature, my youngest daughter actually slept in this morning. I needed to leave the house by 8:15 to make it in time for the program, so I was faced with a painful decision:

Wake the beast or let the sleeping cherub keep dreaming peacefully?

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I very seriously considered breaking my promise to my kindergartener and standing her up. You don't understand how bad it can be to wake a 3-yr-old when you don't have a trip to Disneyworld or a lifetime supply of gummy bears waiting to greet her.

And so, overcome by mother guilt, I edged closer to the sleeping child. After a few moments, I succeeded in rousing her, using the antics of our Elf, Buddy, as an excuse to get up.

She happily allowed me to pick her up and carry her down the stairs, where she was delighted to discover Buddy had taken down her portrait and drawn glasses and a mustache on everybody.

This delight was short-lived, however. Namely, because I informed her that her worst nightmare was about to become reality: she would have to put on clothes so we could leave.

Moments before waking her, I had carefully, oh so carefully, chosen her attire. Green stretch pants, her very favorite Santa shirt with cute green ribbons on the shoulders, plain white socks, and the most crucial of all the decisions, her underwear.

I picked up the underwear, figuring we'd get the hardest part over with first. For some reason, this child has an EXTREME distaste for wearing underwear at all, and there are only a few pair among her vast supply which are acceptable. I looked and looked, examining each and every pair to ascertain if it was one of the approved for wear versions. Finally, I found a pair with Hello Kitty, a sure thing.

I chose wrong.

She immediately fell on the floor, crying and moaning at the inhumanity of it all.

I watched the clock ticking.

Fine. I'll skip to her favorite garment, my secret weapon: her Santa shirt.

You can imagine my shock when, seeing the shirt so near and dear to her heart, the same shirt she'd insisted on wearing every single day last week, she narrowed her eyes and said, "I HATE that shirt. NO!!!"

Alrighty, then. Apparently everything I know about the universe has changed overnight. The rules don't apply anymore and I'm starting from scratch. What's next? A boycott on french fries? Or maybe a favorite blanket burning?

At this point I was forced to enter into a physical altercation. I coaxed her sweet little legs into those stretch pants and informed her that we were running late and she could strip off all her clothes the minute we got back home. She could be naked as a jaybird for the rest of the day for all I care. Before you think I was too harsh, you should know I even asked big sister to retrieve yet another pair of underwear so Leighanne wouldn't be traumatized by having to wear a pair she hated. I really did try.

Of course the 2nd underwear option was equally disdained, so we carried on with the forced dressing of the body. Have you ever tried to reason with a 3-yr-old who is taking clothes off faster than you can put them on her? Mad as a wet hen.

I was nearing my breaking point. Even the dog had stopped to watch. We wrestled our way to the car, where I attempted to put her in her carseat. She placed her little feet on the doorframe and would not budge. She wouldn't bend her body. It was like trying to put a steel beam in the sitting position.

"We have to go!! Your sister is singing songs about BABY JESUS to the OLD PEOPLE!!! Don't you understand?! You're going to make me miss it all because you don't like your underwear!!"

After getting her in the car, I went back inside for my phone and keys. I don't know how she did it, but in those mere seconds, my oldest child calmed the sea.

I'm going to start calling her the tantrum whisperer. Leighanne, perched calmly and serenely in her booster, just sucked her thumb and then apologized for her behavior.

I looked at my oldest in a combination of awe and fear (if she's THIS powerful what will she do when I'M upset?). It was amazing. Turns out she used a little stuffed reindeer toy to reason with the unreasonable child. I guess having antlers gives you a distinct advantage when working with children. Note to self: go buy an antler headband.

And so, off we went to minister to the elderly and spread our Christmas cheer. I had never longed more than at that moment for a "silent night".
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