Category Archives: Family

A Survivalist’s Guide to Talking to Kids (for people who are understandably creeped out by them)

A Survivalist’s Guide to Talking to Kids (for people who are understandably creeped out by them)

I’ve never been a “kid” person really. I have no doubt that this has been evident to my children at times and will be the root of many sessions with a licensed therapist.

Maybe I’ve seen too many Stephen King movies or read The Turn of the Screw too many times, but I’ve never quite trusted that they will not kill me and eat my brains the moment I turn my back on them. It doesn’t help that I have twins, which everyone knows can’t end well.

So, I have compiled a little Quick Reference Guide for those of you who, like me, feel at least mildly uncomfortable around children. You may print this out and laminate it if you like.

  • Many people try to talk to kids as if they are adults. However, I choose to talk to them like they are tiny drunk adults.
  • Most kids are smarter than we give them credit for. This is scary for us because if it weren’t for their short stature and lack of organizational skills, we would be their slaves.
  • Don’t feel bad if you come across a kid you don’t like. They most likely shot out of the womb of adults you also don’t like.
  • Only let your kids play with kids whose parents drink. I don’t think I even need to explain that one.
  • It’s OK to swear in front of kids – just spell out the words. This is my personal contribution to literacy in our nation.
  • Always wear earplugs and shin guards.
  • If you find yourself outnumbered by them at any time, refer back to your reading of Lord of the Flies in high school, ascertain who is positioning for alpha and take him or her out.
  • If the above doesn’t work, turn on any electronic device. You could turn on an empty blender and they will be mesmerized. It’s the great equalizer. And, I believe, the way they communicate with their mother ship.
  • You must always remember that children are lunatics. I don’t have a lot of first-hand experience with truly insane people but have watched several episodes of Hoarders and My Strange Addiction, which I believe makes me an expert in mental illness. My conclusion is that you just avert your eyes and back away. Most mental health professionals would probably agree with me.

So, follow these simple steps to get through the awkward years (1-18) and they grow up enough to be your drinking buddy or your dealer.

You’re welcome.

My Mom Can’t Sing and Other Facts

My Mom Can’t Sing and Other Facts

“An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest”
– Spanish proverb

With Mother’s Day here, I feel compelled to write about the most influential person in my life – my mother. Her name is Viola and she just turned 89. She is in the final stages of dementia but continues to smile through it all like a champ.

If you think about it, dementia has its benefits. You can see the same movie or read the same book over and over and enjoy it just as much the first time as the tenth. And my stupid jokes and stories are always hilarious and fascinating no matter how many times I repeat them. So, in short, an 89-year-old with dementia is my perfect audience.

Here are some Viola-isms and Viola-facts:

“Always leave a bathroom cleaner than you found it or you’ll never be invited back.” To my knowledge, there are much bigger reasons to not invite me back to your home than this.

She has a terrible singing voice. She sounds just like Alfalfa from Little Rascals. It’s really quite disturbing.

Uncannily, she knew the moment I lost my virginity because I abruptly stopped talking about and asking questions about sex.

“Even the strongest man on earth cannot properly squeeze the water out of a sponge with one hand.” I have no idea how to prove or disprove this theory. But, she stated it with such conviction, I have to believe she has somehow witnessed this.

She taught me that to judge people was a waste of time. You wouldn’t judge a kindergartener for not acting like an MBA student so think about what “spiritual grade” a person might be in. (I am clearly in some sort of Special Education department.)

My mom always reminded me of Edith Bunker. Seemingly a bit ditzy on the outside but solid and smarter than everyone else in the room on the inside.

She graduated with a degree in Psychology with a minor in Latin Studies the same year I graduated from high school. She could psychoanalyze you in Spanish, thereby making you feel decidedly paranoid.

She regaled me and my friends at Mom’s Weekend in college about how terrific sex is after 50. The truth of this remains to be seen.

“I’ve taught my kids to be able to eat dinner with a king.” This skill has never been tested.

So, on Mother’s Day, I thank you, Vi, for being my biggest fan, my most honest critic, and my guide through the numerous missteps of my life with unwavering love and loyalty. I will always remember these things, even if you can’t anymore.

Bartender, Make That A Double

Bartender, Make That A Double

Before you freak out, the answer it NO, I do not intend this to be a Mommy and Me, recipe-sharing, mother-on-anti-anxiety meds site. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…it’s just not how I roll. Except for maybe the meds.

But, in honor of my kids’ birthdays and the approach of Mother’s Day, I just figured I’d leave something behind that I could pull out to humiliate them when they are 16, something that I look forward to with an inordinate and unhealthy amount of glee.

I was late to the table on the whole kid thing. You see, my uterus was becoming a relic but emotionally I was still 25. I’ve always done everything around 5 years after everyone else does so am the definition of a late-bloomer. We needed to make the proverbial “shit or get off the pot” decision. So, we…shat.

We got pregnant startlingly fast, leaving us a bit breathless. Most people who know me, especially ex-boyfriends, would never put money on the fact that my uterus was actually a friendly, welcoming environment rather than desolate and somewhat rude.

So, after the initial shock over the reality of our decision, we started to settle into the idea. We should be comfortable with it any day now….

Who could have possibly guessed exactly how hospitable my uterus really was – my uterus turned out to be the Studio 54 of the reproductive world. Turns out I was popping eggs out like a radioactive chicken. And TWO of them took.

Out the window went my vision of backpacking through Thailand with one, small, low-maintenance kid and in came every horror flick I’ve ever seen about creepy twins.

Here are some interesting and horrible facts about the whole thing.

  • You can’t drink booze – or at least you’re not supposed to. And believe me, there are few times in life when you need a stiff drink more. Evidently, crack and meth are out too. Buzz kill.
  • It’s actually sort of amazing to see your body change and grow exactly in the manner it was intended to. It’s startling to watch and makes you believe in a grand design.
  • It’s intensely scary to go into labor and it is amazingly painful. Who could really help you understand this type of sensation? What could I compare it to so you’d have some line of reference? Have you ever been stabbed in the gut? Jabbed a fork into your eye? Not likely unless you are a very careless and scarred person.
  • You poop in the delivery room. I always thought it was an urban legend. I wouldn’t have apologized so intensely for my utter lack of manners had I known this. So, you poop – let it go – literally and emotionally.
  • It is awe-inspiring how much they cry those first three months or so and what sleep deprivation can do to an otherwise rational adult. It was like being in ‘Nam – I still want to dive under a table whenever I hear the slightest noise at 1:00am.
  • Don’t feel bad if you want to sell your sweet little bundle of joy on eBay. Anything to get the constant loop of crying baby out of your ears and the embedded smell of weird baby-crap and barf out of your nose cavity. Life simply becomes very uncivilized.
  • It’s kind of cool the first time they actually focus on your face or the first time they smile. Yes, it could be gas. Or, it could be they are glad to see you. I guess we don’t really know, but after thinking of selling them on eBay, you want to believe they are glad to see you. It helps their cause a bit.
  • I didn’t expect to like my kids this much. That probably sounds stupid, but it’s true.

So I now live in this bi-polar world of wanting to scream every time they ignore every word out of my mouth as if I were speaking in clicks and grunts but then I think how very weird and cool they are when they choose to dress as Gandhi for Halloween or how they can sing every word of a Cake song and this emotional ping pong is all within 30 seconds of each other and I know this is the worst run-on sentence in the history of run-on sentences.

I need a nap.

I Mock Therefore I Am

I Mock Therefore I Am

So, a blog. I know this is what is done these days….sharing information with the world that you think they are clamoring for but, in reality, only you think is helpful/interesting/humorous/etc.  It always seemed akin to telling someone about your vacation to the Grand Canyon in molecular detail or talking about how your colon is doing – of great import to you but a painful and awkward experience for the recipient. Kind of like sex.

I work at home, alone, so I am thinking this is somewhat like my lunatic ramblings as I shuffle around my house in my slippers talking to my imaginary friends and co-workers. The way I see it, I’m just looking a little less insane to an outsider by purposefully writing it down because, dude, I am a BLOGGER!

A little about myself in case you are in the least bit interested. (If not, feel free to hit that little box with the x and get the hell outta here because you have THINGS to DO!) I’m the youngest of 6 kids, raised in a predominantly Irish Catholic family with a smattering of Chilean. We are a thick-skinned, sarcastic clan with excessive body hair. If we had a family crest it would be emblazoned with the words “I mock therefore I am”.

One of the biggest litmus tests I have when I meet someone, aside from whether or not they LOVE Raising Arizona as much as I do (and if you can quote any of it, I’ll add you to my will), is whether or not they are capable of finding humor in their own crazy ticks, missteps or third nipples. There is nothing that is more of a bore than someone who takes themselves too seriously and can’t stand to be mocked or made fun of.

Along the same lines, I also believe that there is humor and absurdity in pretty much any situation.

And, since this is a blog and I’m supposed to keep it short…..

  • I hate getting into an unmade bed.
  • I can’t stand it when people say “irregardless”. It’s not a freakin’ word.
  • I am one of the only women I know who loves Mystery Science Theater 3000 and consider “Manos, Hands of Fate” to be a modern classic.
  • My hall passes: John Cusack, Paul Rudd and Gregory Peck circa 1953 (I have time travel capabilities in this scenario).
  • My lesbian hall passes: Tina Fey, Zooey Deschanel and Leslie Mann.

There you have it, dear imaginary readers.

Until next time,

Irene