Playground Uprising

July 18, 2011, 11:31 pm
Filed under: boyd, brothers, fighting, Life, parenthood, parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Velcro ~ it holds the dust ruffle onto our four poster bed, and sticks the nametags to the desks in my fifth grade classroom, and the bodies of one four year old to another eight year old as they watch television, sit in the pew at church, or pass each other in the hall. The force is strong and immediate, as if when in each other’s company there is simply no other course of action but to throw one’s body wildly onto the other while peering over the shoulder ready to throw up hands in utter exasperation and proclaim “_____ stepped, slapped, scratched me” ~ accompanied by a look of outraged suffered from this complete and unsolicited indignity. And so I send them both to their separate rooms ~ a consequence whose effectiveness resides within the margin of error ~ but accomplishes an air of peace and allows me to reconsider the benefits of getting my own apartment down the street (which I am still thinking is an excellent idea!).


Sword Fighting

There are those among us who proclaim the perils of the sedative existence of a T.V. watching kiddo. These people are of course the folks who reside outside of the house of a boy who each day rolls up a legal size piece of paper and pops in Narnia in preparation for an all out epic battle of wills – likely concluding in an older boy grabbing his head and shrieking “Mom, Charlie is a sword fighting again.” And as I peak around the corner ~ the battle commences with jabs, and jolts, and leaps that could only make our one hundred and fifteen year old house feel like it just might not make it to the next century. Thus one not worry that these altercations are reserved for the T.V., I assure you that they rage at nap time as Charlie leaps upon his bed and peers into the mirrored wardrobe impressed by his dexterity, and in the grocery store as I ponder the advantages of fettuccine over rigatoni, and as one waits for our free Subaru oil change in the company of those who really just want to know the latest on the Casey Anthony trial.There are even little twinges of it as Charlie walks back down the aisle after attending children’s chapel, and though there are parts of me that are reluctant to claim the weapon wheeling bandit stalking the sanctuary ~ the one who corrected me yesterday when I said “Charlie, don’t you think it is a beautiful day?” To which he responded, “Mom that is something only princesses say ” ~but truth be known, I sure do love the gusto of boy who is willing to take on his world.

“If = the Dirty Word”
July 27, 2010, 7:04 pm
Filed under: parenthood, parenting | Tags: , , ,

“If you can get your PJs on and brush your teeth, then you can go play video games.” “If you read for twenty-five minutes, then you can watch T.V.” I have found myself on more than one occasion uttering these PARENT MAGAZINE statements in an effort to offer pretend choice, elicit compliance, and get me some buy-in. BUT, as I peer into that reflective mirror called hindsight and enter the room where my gut tells me the underlying plot line, I know this really comes down to a message of win/lose – extrinsic reward – and covert control. AND – I absolutely hate it. It doesn’t fit with my being. Why do we need conditions, why do we need the IF?? I don’t want someone to say to me, “Doro – if you do the dishes, then you can watch TV” or “If you take the trash out you can have dessert.” These conditional relationships miss the point, and they make me feel as if the relationship itself has criteria ~ like just maybe my husband is going to walk out if I don’t fold the damn laundry correctly (believe me there are far better reasons). Is this the message we want to sell to our children?


So my experiment begins (This is what happens when you have a writer/researcher mom. At least I am not investigating the benefits of shock treatments). My older son Mac is 7. He likes to play soccer. He likes to play video games. He likes to turn any miscellaneous object into a gun. He does NOT like to read. I have tried the IF – the condition, “Mac –if you read for 20 minutes, you can shoot up the living room.” And it half way works – bad ideas often work. That’s how publishers make money. But – the question here really isn’t if it works, it is if it fits with the person you hope someday to become and the philosophies that are tightly packed into her camper.


And so last night I thought first and spoke second. Profound. My internal dialogue and twitching began with the facts: I love to read. I teach reading. I would prefer to read a book than be with most people I have met along the way (I need to hang out with new people). Books are a central part of my existence. To borrow from NPR, “This I believe” = Reading is more than words, it is power. So – this is what I say: “Mac – I am going into the living room to read. I would like for you to join me.” “But I want to play video games.” “And, I want a Hawaii vacation – but reading is about power and options and who the hell knows – if you keep going at it you might just dig up a tad of enjoyment.” And ~ together we walked into the living room and read, and when he turns 16 and still prefers to play video games, I will love him the BIGGEST anyway – no conditions or IF attached.

Game On – Again
December 31, 2009, 3:29 am
Filed under: Family, parenthood, parenting, potty training | Tags:

Today was Charlie’s first day in big boy underpants. Well perhaps second or third – FIRST – day if you count the other times we started and stopped to potty train Charlie because his dad ran out of hard liquor. We got off to a dry start thanks to the reminder from his preschool teacher that those absorbent training underwear really do beat the pants off of the Sponge Bob Leaky Pants designer ones we bought first go round. They provide the boy with a little coverage, a little “I got your backside Charlie” when the Backyardigans is on and there is no time for a station break. All in all the day was a big success. Success one – we are both still talking to each other. Success two – he put on the underwear without a single curse word (he knows several). Success three – he has mastered his stance (step on stool, stare backwards at the potty, brace you hands on the upper lid). Success four – we have all demonstrated our own canning ability to “pee the potty” and have rejoiced by wallowing down potty treats as we celebrate our own victories. Now as not to continue to parade our own accomplishment – we have had some minor technical difficulties. For one, though Charlie’s stance is good and his attitude solid – no complete sentence speaking human has yet to see any pee actually come out – which leaves a girl to wonder. But for now the boy is asleep and perhaps reminiscing about his earlier day’s visit to Victoria Secret to help his mom make some Christmas returns – when he shrieked – “look mom everyone here loves underwear” as he picked up a perfume bottle, turn it into a machine gun, and lit up the store. Updates to follow in 2010.

The Great Wolf Lodge: Toenails, and Bikini’s, and Wolves Oh My


I have not written on my blog for a while and though I have made lofty, yet sporadic attempts to rectify the situation – life just seems to get in the way. But – as all writers know there are experiences that run you over and just yell WRITE ME! I had one of those this weekend.

It began something like this:

“Mom I want to go to the Great Wolf Lodge for my birthday.” To which I responded, “Their closed.” “For how long?” “Until 2021 -which is around the year you turn 18 and can take yourself.” “Mom, – that is impossible- I just saw an advertisement on TV.” Curse all forms of technology. Think, Think, Think. “Well if we go to Hell and Swaller, I mean the Great Wolf Lodge, than that will have to count as your birthday party and you won’t get the opportunity to have lots of friends over to give you expensive plastic things that break.”  “I’m in.” “Call your grandparents.”  “No!” “How about the new neighbors that just moved in – perhaps they will take you.”  “No – mom you and dad have to take me.” “Damn!”

And so we did – and as we headed down 64 East I tried to convince myself that Hell and Swaller could not possibly be as awful as I remember – but this fleeting crash with optimism was quickly averted as we got off the “well marked” exit in attempt to follow “the signs” – that led us 5 miles down the road to an old gas station and an exasperated husband yelling “where the hell is this place” to an unassuming gas attendant that appeared to be counting his blessings that he did not have to accompany us into the darkness.

And as we arrived – we found that check-in time was at 4pm, but you can kindly come at 1pm and rent a locker in which to store your stuff. The locker only costs a week’s salary or an unborn child. We tried to offer Charlie, our second child, – but the temper tantrums dampened the sale. Fortunately for us – we were able to sweet talk the nice lady into letting us move into our “nonsmoking” – smoked fill room a bit early so that the boys could throw their clothes around the room, wrestle, and get their bathing suits on in anticipation of the water park.

Yes water park – because if you are going to spend 24 hours in hell what better way to capstone the experience than being wet and in a bathing suit with 300 other people that missed the memo that there is a certain age and a certain size in which bikini’s are no longer an inalienable right.

And after the germ infested water drained parents’ energy and good humor (ok we never had any of that) – we were off to dinner. A steal to be had at $18 a person – allowing you to feed the fam a nutritionally void meal for around $100. And don’t forget the plastic –no not utensils  – I mean the plastic wand, and plastic toy, and plastic tasting pastry that are all yours for the remaining part of your retirement.

And as the evening waned and we hopped on beds and big brothers practiced karate moves on little brothers – Mac comes out of a small body slam holding an unidentified, sasquatch like white thing and exclaiming – “look dad  I found  your toenail.”

Only that one wasn’t ours.

Next year I am sure the Great Wolf Lodge will be closed in October and we will no longer have access to any form of technology that connects us to the outside world.

Forgive Those That Have Sinned Against Me Today
October 15, 2007, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Children, church, Family, parenthood, parenting

 My mother’s fire alarm went off this morning at 2am and again at 4am and just for good measure gave one last boom about 7am. I am just finding out about this last one because it triggered neighboring bathrobes drawn by inquiring noses to fill firemen in on “my mother’s situation,” the one that has taken her away from her non-burning house for the last six months. So upon getting the call from who Mac refers to as “our local community helper” I casted on the pearl necklace, in anticipation for the mad dash to church upon my return from my begrudged excursion to wonderland. In return flight from my “deactivate the fire alarm and unclog the toilet (an added bonus) mission” which brought forth memories of an equaling blaring and disturbed childhood, I attempted to radio the troops and bribe them to suit up for battle. Such plans however were debunked as I spilled coffee on myself while banging on the steering wheel while pleading with a tapped out cell phone. Though never fear … because when I entered the house to retrieve my clan dad assured me that he had done “everything” and I was relieved until slowly puzzling together that “everything” did not include bathroom runs, or belt buckles, or tucked shirts, or explosive diapers, or small details such as shoes. So I did the only thing a good wife could do and yelled obscenities and stomped my feet and sent the two oldest and baddest boys out the door and down the alley to drop one off at the nursery before the other could arrive at the pew to pray for his transgressions … while I battled the nuclear fallout that no good nursery volunteer should have to be exposed. With that treasure complete, I made my own way to the church just in time to sit down next to a boy and his dad that somehow misinterpreted the phrase “take mac to the nursery.” So we wiggled and jiggled and enjoyed communion on a level that made one minister gasp aloud and required hand wipes on the returning trip down the aisle (don’t ask). And then we were home and then we were not … finding our way to the soccer field and then in a blink of the eye it was dark, as if justifying the earlier metaphor, and a dad and a boy were saying their prayers and thanking Jesus for our blessings to which Mac concluded, “And please oh please Jesus forgive ALL of the PEOPLE who have SINNED against ME today.” And so now we are cleansed … already to begin anew.

October 10, 2007, 6:37 pm
Filed under: academia, Children, parenthood, parenting


In the past ten minutes I have written several e-mails, eaten a bag of 100 calorie popcorn (a snack I give the grandest of accolades), and chatted with several student passer byes – and if I had to write down a list of everything I have learned over this passage of time – the list would be –let us say SHORT.  But flash back …. to yesterday … in a car with two boys .… just beginning to figure out their world  … and suddenly the informational input is  startlingly expansive.  For your viewing pleasure a breakdown: 4:30        LM  (little man) Mom, if I tell you something will you be mad.                DS – (hoping he did not make an innocent bystander bleed) It’s unlikely.LM – Well today I was good. In fact I did more gooder than bad but you see there was that one thing when I was sitting in circle time and said butt.. you see we sit too long … it is a struggle (wow good word / he is a genius with a potty mouth) and that might be ok for your college but it makes me say butt (good to know)DS –(suppress laughter and adopt an authoritative tone) Butt is not a school word (as if to imply perhaps it is a good dinner time word or night time reflection) 4:33        LM- It is so hot in this car that I think I am going to pass out.DS – Well it is October and the air condition is on and so maybe you would prefer to walk (we are on our way to dinner with family).                LM- No that will take me 50 days and  I will miss dessert. 4:37        DS – So what was your job today at school?LM – Well I was the calendar person and it is February (Well no but at least he got one of the 12 ) and I got to call on people and I didn’t call on Sheri because she took my sticker and I am thinking of disinviting her to my birthday party  (good point … I will call her mom and revoke the invite when we get home).                DS – So what is the best job?                LM – Well the caboose mom. That is what Tate says (who is a complete juvenile delinquent) because you can stand in the back and make faces and nobody can yell at you and the caboose is the butt and butts are funny (ahhhhh a reoccurring theme emerges). 4:39        DS- OOOOH good song (cranking it up and singing quite loudly in toneless harmony).LM- Mom, you should not sing like that because it doesn’t sound good (mind your own business… at least I can brush my own teeth) and you are not a rock star (newsflash).                DS- (sounding just a wee bit insulted) What do you mean I am not a rock star?                LM – You know a rock star has concerts and you teach kids at college. Now that is some content coverage.