Category Archives: Kids

Sparklers

Sparklers

sparkler
He taught me how to read people’s eyes.

My Dad always told me to know your audience, read their eyes, before you say anything. That way, you can make those small adjustments and hit a home run with your words.

It’s a skill I have now, but one that I was sorely lacking when I first met her.

We were running around the yard, sparklers in hand, I was trying to hide the sheer joy of the sputtering lights behind the mask of male pubescent cool.

I was all skinny legs and knobby knees, hiding my singular eyebrow behind a curtain of dark bangs. Slouched shoulders and awkward gait.

She was all bright eyes, shining cheeks and blinding braces.

She was my Mom’s friend’s daughter and we met while on one of those forced multi-family events that I found excruciating. The assumption that because the parents connected, so should their children, was nothing short of insulting. Plus, the parents usually connected over alcohol and a shared desire to ignore their kids, if only for a couple of hours.

But this time, there was Kari.

I stood in agony as I tried to come up with something to say. A quip. A joke. Anything that might get her to take notice of me. To recognize that her soul mate was standing right in front of her.

But my thoughts keep turning in on themselves like one of those weird Escher paintings we learned about in art class.

So, I study from behind my safe mantle of hair. I watch. I take note of her every move, the sound of her voice, her laugh as if I am a scientist observing a new species of exotic bird.

I could win her over with comedy. I was fairly funny. Or, that’s what all my idiot friends always told me. I ponder this for a moment. The only jokes I know are riddled with body functions and genitalia references. I deduce that this would not be the right approach and quickly move to another angle.

I could go the observational route. I turn over some options. The weather? It was unusually humid out.

Who am I? My Grandfather? Am I going to talk about my arthritis next?

There was always the complimentary approach. I did like the pants she was wearing. And she had a nice clip in her hair.

Potentially creepy.

I finally decide to go with the classics – ask her about herself. Keep it simple.

I take several very deep breaths to try to quiet the nest of butterflies in my stomach.

I pat my bangs down a bit more to ensure my safety net is there in case this does not go down well. In my mind, I can become invisible behind them upon command.

I take one hesitant step forward….

…as she comes running up to me, a little winded, eyes bright and face flushed.

“So, what school do you go to?”

I brush my bangs out of my eyes as my heart bursts into a million points of light, just like the sparkler she is holding.

__________________________________________

This is my response to this week’s speakeasy,
over at yeah write, where we had to make some
reference to M. C. Escher’s lithograph, Waterfall,
and use the sentence “He taught me how to read
people’s eyes
.” as the first line in our piece.

Click the badge to read the other submissions or to learn more about
the speakeasy creative writing challenge.

Fear And Loathing In Fatherhood

Fear And Loathing In Fatherhood

Fatherhood.

I know less about fatherhood than I know about….well….motherhood. And I know next to nothing about motherhood.

Don’t tell my kids.

But, it’s Father’s Day so it seems that something needs to be said about those stalwart men out there.  These co-creators of our offspring who, despite conflicting DNA urges to run screaming from the village encampment, are now expected to bond, relate, nurture and practically breast feed the little darlings.

So here’s to the dudes out there who are trying really hard to pony up in this brave new world of fatherhood.

I’ve actually pondered (because that’s what I do…ponder) how much the role of father has changed and how quickly.

Now, I’m no spring chicken (and I’ve never understood what that meant anyway) but it seems to me there has been a pretty drastic change in the expectations put on dads since I was, well, a spring chicken.

Why, back in my day, fathers were rarely seen and often heard. And if you heard one, you ran away and hid because you were in a world of trouble.

Dads were put on earth to teach you things.

See, son, this is the peritoneum….

See, son, this is the peritoneum….

Important things, like:

  • The difference between a flat-head and Phillips screw driver
  • How to tie a solid knot
  • The correct way to gut a fish
  • The exceptionally high cost of water because Jesus Christ how long can it take to wash your privates and get the hell out???
  • If you’re a boy, having the MOST UNCOMFORTABLE AND POTENTIALLY LIFE-ALTERING discussion about sex in the history of discussions about sex or anything else for that matter
  • If you’re a girl, absolutely no discussion about anything. Ever. EVER. ASK YOUR MOTHER
  • The exceptionally high cost of electricity because what the hell are you doing that requires so much God damned light? Reading? Light a candle!
  • The fact that the odometer in a car does not change if the wheels don’t turn. A rather painful lesson when you’ve gone on a joy ride when your folks were in Florida on vacation and you did NOT know they wrote down the mileage and you said you just started it so it wouldn’t get too cold and you thought that was good for cars and no I didn’t actually drive away in it and, wait, what was the question?
  • How to eat a meal without letting your teeth hit the fork because that drives them insane….as a people
  • How to bait a hook without puking

And, they gave these straight-forward life lessons as impatiently and with a level of irritation normally reserved for much more heinous violations. Like terrorist attacks.

The biggest gift here though is bestowing upon us the opportunity to recount these lessons while impersonating them at every Christmas gathering for the rest of our lives.

Modern fathers still need to do all of the above. After all, I still know how to gut a fish, even if I don’t do it all that often.

(Though I have been sorely tempted on more than one occasion to reenact the fish gutting scene from Office Space. If I ever do, I will have my father to thank for the precise way in which I gut aforementioned fish.)

He’s actually not doing it right….

He’s actually not doing it right….

But, in addition to these lessons, they are now expected to look their kids in the eye in order to give them their full attention. They are expected to listen to their weird little stories that really don’t end up with a point. They have to at least pretend to laugh at their jokes that make absolutely no sense, have no comedic timing and an utter lack of irony.

So, hat’s off to you, modern day Dads.

Champions of childhood.

Protector of our prodigy.

Subjugator of our spawn.

We lift our collective glasses of chilled Chardonnay to you. Please keep teaching them weird stuff that would never even occur to a Mom (myself included).

And continue to bestow upon many generations the gift of mocking you at family functions. That gift alone is priceless.

Letter To My Pre-kid Self

Letter To My Pre-kid Self

Dear Pre-kid Irene,

Hello sweetie! How are you doing? Right about now you’ve just gotten back from a month travelling around Thailand. And it was an awesome trip, right? But, for some reason, with all the travel you’ve gotten to do, this time you came home feeling a little less fulfilled than you usually do.

Now, I’m not going to tell you exactly what happens next because that would just be shitty. It would be like telling you the end of a movie, reading the last page of a book or letting you know that, as awesome as it looks in the trailer, the 2014 version of Godzilla is actually a little disappointing.

What I will tell you, is that you will be a mother one day. And, believe me on this, you are not in the least bit prepared. But, have faith, because no one is so at least you are not in the remedial class alone.

So, my independent girl who is swathed in a light of freedom that you are not taking nearly enough advantage of, let me tell you just a couple of things.

  1. Being pregnant is the scariest thing on the planet. It’s also pretty cool. But mostly it’s just scary because the bigger you get the more impossible it seems to get that thing out of you without dying.
  2. Don’t listen to your husband when he tells you shit about delivery he has absolutely no clue about. “Oh, the human body shuts all other functions down when it gives birth.” Really Mr. Science? Needless to say that is utter crap and you need to know that terrible stuff will happen in front of complete strangers. You do not have to apologize as much as you do when that time comes
  3. When you do have to get the giant bulge out, you do not actually die. There are moments when you wish you could, but you don’t.
  4. You will hallucinate due to lack of sleep. Just enjoy the ride and pretend you just took mushrooms like that time when you were camping and you saw Nixon’s face in that leaf. Don’t question, just go with it.
  5. Parenting is like getting a bikini wax. It’s excruciating when it happens, sending you into a sweaty fight or flight reaction that can, in some instances, result in the punching of a Russian esthetician (sorry Svetlana). But, after it’s over and all the irritation subsides, it’s pretty awesome.
  6. You will feel like a giant fish-out-of-water when you are around other parents and be under the mistaken impression that everyone has this parenting thing down except for you. Listen to this absolute truth: 99% of the other mothers are either on Prozac, drunk, or looking to get their hands on any mood-altering substance to survive this. The 1% who make the rest of us feel like shit are all assholes and you don’t want to party with them. You will be buying drugs from their kids one day.
  7. Speaking of partying….all that blow you did in the 80’s will actually serve you well once they hit puberty. I suspect our sense of smell is not as keen as it was before those years in San Francisco and that will literally save your life as it should dull the assault on that sense.
  8. Everything will go excruciatingly slow and way too fast at the same time. It must be some weird parental worm hole or a tear in the space/time continuum because it makes no sense, I know. But you’ll feel like you are swimming in Jello during the tougher times and then the nuggets of amazing times will fly by in a blur. I have no idea how to fix this. Just thought I’d let you know.
  9. Believe it or not, you actually end up not sucking as a mom. And, not sucking is pretty high praise when dealing with such an impossible task so take the not sucking and wear it like a badge of honor.
  10. Don’t let your responsibilities define you. You are more than your kids. You are more than your aging parents. You are more than your financial limitations. Do not lose yourself in the often overwhelming weight of what you are on the hook for. If you ignore all of the above, please remember this.

And with that, I send you on your merry, innocent way.

Oh, one last thing. A little later in the year, on September 11th, some terrible things are going to happen. The world survives and so do you.

Much love,

Irene the Elder

Cap’n Crunch And The Weakening of Our Youth

Cap’n Crunch And The Weakening of Our Youth

Captain_Crunch_WTF_507516178

Oh Cap’n, my Cap’n. I am sorely vexed.

I have recently heard what I had hoped was an urban legend – that the original recipe for my favorite weed-induced breakfast cereal has been changed.

I speak, of course, of Cap’n Crunch, Original flavor. Because I require Yellow Dye 5 and 6.

The broken glass and razor nuggets that used to slice up the roof of my mouth, rendering it useless for other foods, is now softer and less abrasive.

Say it isn’t so, Cap’n!

This is yet one more example of the codling of our children. We are at risk of raising a generation of people without leathery upper palettes. People who have smooth inner cheeks and lack the life skills to deal with violent food stuffs.

Why, when I was young we ate only after beating our food into submission in a violent knife fight. Then we washed the jagged shards down with a sugary liquid laden with every chemical dye known to man. And, if it came in a can and was called Hi-C but possessed no known vitamin of any letter, then all the better.

I remember stealing my parent’s Maraschino Cherries from the liquor cabinet. That’s right, I was shooting formaldehyde by the time I was 8.

So, keep your gentrified cereals, you generation of weaklings. I will continue to man-up and chew, unabated.

And to you I say, There Will Be Blood.

If Lunacy Had a Soundtrack It Would Go Something Like This

If Lunacy Had a Soundtrack It Would Go Something Like This
Play Freebird!!

Play Freebird!!

There is nothing weirder than kids. Except maybe parenting kids. That’s just Kim Jong Un weird. You know, unreasonable weird.

I don’t usually like to blog much about being a parent. It’s not that I have an issue with being a parent….who the hell am I kidding? OF COURSE I HAVE AN ISSUE WITH BEING A PARENT!

Being a parent is being in the epicenter of the lunatic fringe, if that’s even possible. The thing is, I kind of like being in that epicenter. Except for the noise there. And the crying (theirs and mine). Oh, and the smell. Definitely the smell.

At the end of the day, the odd way kids see the world is what I sort of dig about them. It would appear I kind of get lunatics. Who knew?

But, there is shit they come up with that I honestly think would better the world as a whole if we all just decided to behaved like them.

Case in point: My kids seem to constantly be singing. They have a soundtrack for everything. They can’t help themselves, they start to hum and sing background music for almost anything you can imagine.

  • Watching the velodrome races during the Olympics, they sing circus clown music. I suddenly enjoy watching track cycling. A first, I assure you.
  • Walking through a zoo, they have a different song for each animal depending upon the pace of their movements and physical oddities.
  • In the grocery store – each fruit has a theme song.
  • They actually wrote some rap upon seeing  a woman pushing a little pug in a baby stroller (I know, I live in southern California, shit like that happens).

Puppy in a stroller
What’s wrong with your legs?
Puppy in a stroller
I bet you’d like some eggs.
Puppy in a stroller
Bone

They even made up a game called Colored Elmo. And, no, this is not some strange racial slur. Though, if Elmo ever needed to be cast as a human, I think Samuel L. Jackson may be our man.

image5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rules of this game are as follows:

Player One thinks of a color. They then begin singing a tune that reminds them of that color.

Player Two then rattles off every color they can think of that may (or may not) match up with the color the music brings to mind. These colors can range from primary (green, blue, red, etc.) to hybrids (chartreuse, puce, mauve, etc.) to precious metals (bronze, gold, platinum, etc.).

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Player Two, Player One has changed the color numerous times in his head to throw off and enrage Player Two.

It’s fun stuff until someone loses an eye.

So, next time you are in some high-powered meeting, putting gas in your car, having a mammogram or a prostate exam done, go ahead and sing a little ditty. It just might put the whole thing in a new light.

Or, you may end up either arrested or institutionalized. Either way, you’ll have a song in your heart.

The Stay-At-Home Mom – Your Lady Balls Are Bigger Than Mine

The Stay-At-Home Mom – Your Lady Balls Are Bigger Than Mine
I’m tired just looking at you.

I’m tired just looking at you.

I’ve been asked repeatedly over the years about why I am a working mother. Are we poor? Am I a narcissist? Is your husband a drunk or something?

Of course, the answer to all of these queries is YES. I am a poor narcissist with a drunk husband. Duh!

But, there are actually a couple of other reasons too.

Like the fact that my kids love me a lot more when they see me a little less. This is an absolute fact about how most people feel about me. Ask any of my ex-boyfriends. You can get overwhelmed by me pretty damned fast. But, when I’m not around, I am thinner, prettier, wittier and smarter. So, I choose to keep that mystery alive for as long as I can.

This is also why I work remotely. It’s like that scene out of Hello Dolly when she goes back to the Harmonia Gardens every time I visit the home office.

This would be our casual Friday look.

This would be our casual Friday look.

And, that’s how it is every time I come back home too….for about an hour.

The simple fact is that when I’m at work, it’s the only time anyone listens to me (or pretends really well) and sometimes they even do what I say. I’ve even had times when someone asked me for my opinion on something and sat, in rapt attention, waiting for my response.

Needless to say, I don’t get a whole lot of that at home.

But, the absolute, number one reason I work is the fact that I am a big yellow-bellied coward. Being a stay-at-home mom is HARD! I’ve only done it a couple of times for like a week over a school break and was in the fetal position by hour 12.

I still have a loop of “I’m bored” and “I’m hungry” sing-songing through my brain like a bad Michael McDonald song.

Ya Mo Be There…. Ya Mo Be pouring me a big ass drink about now.

Ya Mo Be There…. Ya Mo Be pouring me a big ass drink about now.

The idea that a human female becomes more patient and kind once they have children is as confusing to me as my kid’s math homework.

But, given that the children of most of my stay-at-home-mom friends are alive and seemingly healthy, I must assume I simply missed out on that hormone. Along with the hormone that makes you forget the pain of childbirth. Didn’t get any of that one either.

So, I salute you, my bad ass sisters! You have thrown yourself on the parental grenade and I stand in awe.

Pull My Finger – My First Guest Post

Pull My Finger – My First Guest Post

I have arrived, y’all!!!

I’m so excited this week to get to do a guest post for the delightful Shari Lopatin! Head on over to her blog and take a look at the purdy post I done wrote up for her….and all of you!

Pull My Finger: My Uncivilized Life With Boys

While you are there, check out her fantastic site – http://sharilopatin.com – she is the shizzle!!!

Enjoy and discover, my friends!!

 

K-Mart Nipples

K-Mart Nipples

This title can go in so many directions….if you went in the dirty direction then shame on you. You know who you are….

When Jim and I were in our darkest hours of depression and sleep deprivation with the whole twins thing, we found ourselves having a psychological breakdown whilst lying on the floor of the baby bottle aisle at K-mart. Let me back track a bit here.

(That, for those of you not in the “writer’s biz”, is called leading with the end. Please keep up.)

(Actually, I just made that up. I don’t really know what that’s called. But, I think that’s a great term and one that everyone should use from this point forward. You’re welcome.)

We brought the boys home from the hospital at a mere 4 lbs. each and with a heart monitor strapped onto one of them because he threw up in his sleep.

Throwing up in ones sleep is not necessarily reserved for babies, by the way.  I now see I should have been on a heart monitor myself throughout college and am lucky to be here today.

We had two old chairs that we called the porn chairs because they were permanently stained with creepy white splatters because of all the spit up.

The whole thing smacked of a bad mushroom trip. You knew there was a time when you weren’t high, but you could not recall what that might have felt like.

Blah blah blah, you were tired, twins sort of suck, we get it.

One of our little bundles of joy was personally out to get me. I was convinced that this one had a bone to pick with me from some previous life and, by God, he was going to make me pay for whatever past transgression I was guilty of.

Every time we tried to feed him it was like a bad Lucha Libre match, but without the fun masks. He squirmed and cried and did that weird rigor mortis stiff thing babies do that both pisses you off and freaks you out.

We decided it was the specific nipple on the bottle that this little prince was having issues with, so we went on the hunt for the perfect nipple like we were on the Crusades in search of the chalice.

We had heard the lore of the perfect nipple but didn’t dare to dream it really existed. It was whispered about in dark alley ways, spoken about in hushed tones at Mommy and Me classes. We wanted in on this…bad.

To our great despair, K-mart was the only store in our fairly small town that had a decent supply so we bravely headed out the door.

The scene went something like this:

Jim: My God, I’ve never seen so many nipples in one place. Am I hallucinating again?

Irene: No. If you were hallucinating, they would be human nipples, which would scare the shit out of us. This, my friend, is nirvana.

Jim: OK, you start at that end and I’ll start down here. Yell when you find the right one.

Our desperation began to build as we pulled nipples down one by one, only to reject it and throw it over our shoulders to the ground. We did this with increasing violence until we met in the middle of the row, where we became aware that we were standing in a large mound of nipple packages.

The twitches of maniacal, unhinged laughing began….

Jim: Clean up on aisle 10.

Irene: Wouldn’t it be intense if these actually were human nipples?

Jim: There is something terribly wrong with you.

Irene: YA THINK????

And the damn bursts as we fall to our knees in the rubble of nipples, and can’t recover ourselves for a good 20 minutes.

I can only imagine how odd the scene must have looked if we frightened people bad-ass enough to actually be a K-Mart shopper.  But, crowds gathered at a safe distance to see how we would play this out.

My memory fails me a bit after this. At some point we must have found what we needed because the baby is now a kid so he must have eaten at some point.

And, I don’t recall any government agencies coming to my door….yet.

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.

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.