Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mother of the Year

I have a problem. 

Not really even a problem, per se. More like a teeny little issue. Hardly worth mentioning, actually. Certainly not bad enough that it needs real attention. I can stop anytime I want. 

The only reason I even bring it up is because I MAY have begun noticing very insignificant and probably over-thinking-it flags that I could POSSIBLY be passing on this teeny issue to my children. 

Okay, okay.

My name is Sharon and I am an inappropriate laugher.

I can't help it. Without fail, if I witness someone involved in unfortunate events such as tripping, hitting their heads, suffering MINOR, non-life threatening
injuries, or otherwise embarrassing themselves, it just starts happening. A little giggle at first, but before I know it I'm doubled over practically crying and gasping for air due to laughter.

You can imagine how helpful this is when trying to be a good parent and model compassion to my girls.

Take, for instance, the somewhat unfortunate incident I witnessed this week. My parenting skills were downright deplorable because I could not for the life of me stop laughing.

Here's how it went down:

We were on our way to the beach for a lovely week of vacation. As we all know, when traveling with females, daddies are forced to stop more often than they'd prefer for bathroom breaks. So, we pull into a reasonably clean looking gas station and proceed to take care of nature's call. As I emerge with my middle daughter from the restroom, I see my husband and our youngest child (the one I described here...http://webberstories.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-baby-blues.html) standing at the register ready to pay for some sugary snack she talked him into buying for her.

My husband, seeing that he would inevitably be asked by his other daughter to buy her something as well, pulled Leighanne away from the counter and told the guy behind them to go ahead while he waited for Lauren to pick something out.

Well, this was injustice of the worst kind to our 4-year-old. A travesty, really. War crime. 

Letting someone in FRONT of her when she'd been patiently waiting in line for her candy?

Uh-uh. This wasn't gonna fly.

And so, in one swift moment faster than the naked eye could behold, our brown-eyed, curly headed little darling sent her little bony elbow flying right towards its target. And she NEVER misses.

I am more than a little reluctant to tell you her target was her poor, unsuspecting daddy. And she nailed him right where it counts. 

He's a loving daddy! Why would she do that to him?!

It was as if the place froze in time. The gas station attendant stared at them. The guy who had gone ahead of them in line was horrified (sympathy pains, most likely). Others in the store just stood with their mouths hanging open. Our other two daughters gaped a little bit at the absolute coldness of their little sister's attack. 

The only sound was my husband gasping with his hands on his knees to try to brace himself against the pain and the darkness threatening to overtake his vision.

Oh, and the sound of our little darling's sweet footsteps as she marched herself out of the store and waited on the sidewalk, arms crossed and her angry eyes still boring into everyone who crossed her path. 

Okay, okay, there was ONE more sound - the pitifully inadequate sound of me trying desperately NOT to let myself laugh out loud. 

I mean, what kind of wife am I? Who else would EVER laugh when her poor husband has just been attacked unawares and he's literally standing in front of strangers and seeing stars flash before his pain-stricken eyes? And what kind of mother would EVER, EVER respond to that kind of defiant and horrifying behavior by LAUGHING? 

Yours truly. 

I know! It's ridiculous! Mother of the year with this one, folks.

I headed straight outside (after wiping the tears from my cheeks and trying to think sad thoughts) and planted myself directly before my 4-year-old. Kneeling down, I placed both my hands on her shoulders and looked straight into her eyes.

Come on, you can do it. Keep it together. You must look stern just for a second to discipline your naughty child. Deep breath. This is important, Sharon! You don't want her to grow up to be a dangerous, violent woman who abuses her husband! I told myself.

But I couldn't do it. It just wasn't in me. I had to start over three times in my little speech about not hitting daddy in the bottom because I couldn't say it with a straight face. 

Even my older daughters were telling me to stop laughing. It was awful. 

After my third attempt, I finally communicated to my daughter that her behavior was unacceptable, and at that moment my poor husband came (somewhat gingerly) walking out of the store. He walked straight to the van, not casting so much as a glance at either of us. 


I need help. I seriously do. I could start a support group. "Inappropriate Laughers Anonymous"? "Losers Only Laugh" (hey, we could call it LOL meetings!)?

It is just not normal that my fondest memories are times when my husband has tripped on a rug and fallen face first on the floor, when my mother-in-law hit her head on the corner of the cabinets, or when my friend hurt herself during a vacation Bible school lesson she was teaching (long story, don't ask, but it was seriously funny). 

Am I the only one having trouble being a responsible parent when it comes to this kind of thing? I can't NOT laugh. It's a curse all the women in my family suffer from. My mother is legendary for her inability to remain composed when someone suffers a teeny bit of pain. I can just see my girls as adults. They'll be shunned as unfeeling, hideous monsters who laugh at the misfortune of others.

Add it to the list of things they'll need therapy for thanks to having me as their mother. And please, please don't trip or mash your fingers or stub your toe in front of me. I can't deal with it like a normal adult. Even right now a little smile is on my face just at the thought of it.  

Yes, go ahead and judge me. I know. I KNOW. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Summer in the City

The countdown to summer is upon us.

The long, lazy days filled with swimming and cookouts and vacations is nearly here. 

As you will recall, when you were a kid this was the absolute most glorious time of the year. Closing the schoolbooks and packing up all the things in your desk to take home was one of the great events of your childhood. You felt proud about the accomplishments of completing another school year and eager to begin your carefree, lovely days of summer. You were on cloud nine with blissful expectation of the next three months.

Mothers know about feelings and clouds, too. 

The only difference is, instead of being ON cloud nine, sometimes cloud nine descends UPON us, suffocating us in slight despair over what the heck we are going to do with our children for three whole months. Don't get me wrong, we are eager for a break in the crazy schedules of carpool and homework and last minute projects and sporting events, and we really DO want to spend more time with the kiddos at home, but we also know a few unshakable truths.

*The first three days will be wonderful. Everyone will sleep in, the slow pace of nowhere to be will be lovely, and the kids will be happy riding their bikes and playing outside.

*Then day 4 will hit. And with it comes all the hitting among siblings as well.

*Your backyard will become quite similar to a warzone because that's where you send your kids when you tell them to just "go work it out amongst themselves".

*Your pantry and refrigerator will be raided so often you will have to put a lock and key on it to prevent unsupervised searches for "healthy snacks".

*By day 7 you will be searching for another Vacation Bible School or day camp to send the kids to. You will become known as the VBS lady because you and your darlings make the rounds to every church in town no matter if it's Episcopalian, Methodist, Catholic, or some weird snake handling kind of place. Hey kids, they all teach you about Jesus, right?! Let's go!!

*Every few days, your children will do something so incredibly sweet and childishly wonderful that you will take pictures and find the strength to go on. Case in point: this pic of our youngest when she wanted to play "wedding". WHO can possibly resist that charm? You'll wish your babies could stay home with you every day for forever.

*Your yard will look like a mating spot for mosquitoes thanks to the hours of sprinklers, slip 'n slides, and baby pools and the standing water those activities tend to leave behind. 

*TiVo will be working overtime.

*Storeowners are afraid as well of the little summertime shoppers enjoying their freedom. By July, you'll see all sorts of signs like this one displayed in front windows.

*By day 24, you will be asking sweet Jesus what on earth you did to need the discipline reserved for the utmost of sinners.

*You will learn to be afraid, very afraid of the free kids' movie days at local theaters. Don't believe me? You've never been. Just imagine 200 screaming children throwing popcorn and crawling over one another and the trips to the restroom (which has been used exclusively by kids under the age of 10 that entire day). You'll learn that paying $50 to go to a regular showing time is money well spent.

*August will begin approaching as a beacon of light in the darkness. A source of hope in the mire of fussing, boredom, and television.

Ah, yes, the dog days of summer are nearly here. The little backpacks are rolling your way very, very soon.

Got your game face on? 

Friday, May 3, 2013

There are no secrets once you become a parent.

Do these two look like they can keep ANYTHING on the down low to you?

I've often felt I should just save my children the time and begin conversations with total strangers we come upon by telling them things such as:

*how much I weigh
*how long it takes sometimes in the bathroom
*how I sometimes use my kids as an excuse to get out of things
*that I tell them to go watch tv so I can take a nap

And these are just the short list of embarrassing things my children have blurted out without discretion.

"We're late because my mom had to use the bathroom."

"Mom!  I'm right here! You don't need to get off the phone so you can find me!" (and of course screamed loudly enough that the person on the other end of the line clearly heard every word)

Yep. Kids are terrible secret keepers. And it would be one thing if it were just embarrassing secrets about ME that they blurt out. But more times than not, they've been known to proclaim their thoughts about others loudly enough to wake the dead.

I talked to a friend just this week who is living in continual fear that her young children will blurt out a totally humiliating story they know about her. That's the kind of fear that will keep you awake at night trying to figure out ways to bribe the little blabbers into silence. 

A couple years ago we were struggling with my littlest one and her running commentary on physical attributes. "MOM!!! That man has a BIG bottom!" I grabbed one of the samples at Costco and stuffed it in her sweet little mouth as we rushed by.

Just this past Sunday we sat reverently in church (or as reverently as we ever sit between kids sprawling out on the floor under our pew, silently fussing with each other and elbowing one another during prayer, and playing musical chairs between my husband and me). 

Anyway, we happened to be seated in an area where there was a definite odor of mothballs. I don't know the source, so don't even ask. It could've been us for all I know. But regardless of where it was coming from, my middle daughter discovered she has a VERY low tolerance for that particular aroma.

And I mean really low.

What else was she supposed to do? She knew better than to make a big scene by fussing loudly and complaining about the smell. So, in an effort to be discreet and keep her secret politely, she buried her nose in my dress and would NOT take a breath without her hand covering her nose. She literally kept her mouth and nose covered the entire service. I had to pry her nose off my person several times while trying to take notes on suffering and God's plan in it.

 Secret keeping and kids is just not compatible.

Please, relax and tell me your darkest secrets. Nothing escapes these chocolate mustache lips. 

A fried of mine recently took her young daughter to a public restroom at a store. 

"Mom! It smells like tuna in here! Gross!" 

The pair of shoes in the next stall didn't move an inch.

If you are a mother and your child has figured out how to speak, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's these moments we just want to melt into the floor or say something like, "Little girl! That's not a nice thing to say. Where is your mommy? Go find her!" 

And my favorite was several years ago. NO secret keeping then, either. 

My dear friend, my YaYa Sisterhood kind of friend, had us over and served us homemade cookies. My little minions padded up to the table where they were presented with fresh cookies and juice. 

My middle darling, about five years old at the time, took one big bite. She then looked at the cookie in her hand, put it down, and looked straight at me.

Don't do it, I thought silently. I pleaded to her with my eyes. DO NOT say it!!

Indignantly and very matter of factly, she turned to me, picked up her cookie, rapped it against the table and said, "Mom! These things are hard as a rock!"

Thank heavens this was my YaYa kind of friend. She just laughed and still teases my daughter about it now and then. But oh, the humiliation it could have been.

And finally, because I love you readers so much (and because sometimes you just need to feel like someone else has been more humiliated than you by their secret blasters), I will briefly mention the ultimate secret telling. I will just say it involved lingerie which had been discovered in my closet, a child who loves to play dress up, and later a conversation with her teachers about how her mommy has this funny little dress. I can just see that little secret being told in her Sunday School class, too.

Oh. My. Heavens.

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