* If you ever want her to speak to you again.
The holiday season is upon us. And having been through this drill now a few times as a mom, I must confess that my excitement over gift-giving and getting (Oooh! You shouldn’t have!) has curdled into something closer to stone-cold fear of the horrifying things my child may receive. (Oh dear lord, you REALLY shouldn’t have!)
Over the years, I’ve learned that kids’ gifts generally fall into three main categories:
* Something the kid will hate
* Something the kid will love
* Something the kid will love … but that will earn you the stink-eye on the playground and ensure that you are forever blackballed from the cool moms drink-a-thons.
As a PSA, I’ve rounded up the absolute worst offenders in the gift-giving department. If you want to keep your mom friends—and good ones are sooo hard to find—under no circumstances should you EVER give the child of a fellow mom ANY of these eight Producers Of Hell On Earth. And if you’re even tempted to do so, just remember that your kid gets gifts too, and payback is likely to be deafeningly loud, ridiculously sticky and/or unable to be removed from upholstery despite repeated professional cleanings.
Keep in mind, these rules hold true for any gift-giving occasion. Without further ado, the verboten list includes:
Anything that makes the ears bleed. Remember Spinal Tap (“This one goes to 11”)? Any gift whose decibel level makes an Ozzy Ozbourne concert seem like the Quiet Zone is not the stuff of gift bags. And this goes DOUBLE for those toys whose Off buttons are cunningly hidden inside a panel that requires a specific screwdriver not typically found in a standard tool-kit to access. I used to wonder why one veteran mom persisted in giving my son board-books and wooden puzzles that made every kind of siren noise, engine whine and construction clang known to humankind … until I realized she wore a hearing aid. If a mom will require a cochlear implant after prolonged exposure to a given toy, for the love of all that’s good and holy, leave that fucking thing on the shelf.
Anything whose repetition will land you a suite in the Rubber Room Hotel. A subset of the Toys That Make The Ears Bleed category, these kinds of toys loudly tootle out songs that you cannot get out of your head with an ice pick — though after a few rounds you will desperately want to try. Give a kid a gift that plays the synth-pop version of It’s A Small World on an endless loop, and no jury of her peers will convict that kid’s mom for what she will do to you once she hunts you down.
Anything that makes Chucky look like a cuddly Cabbage Patch doll. Like the pink pig one of my husband’s aunts gave my son one Christmas. This little piggie, which came dressed in a glittery red Santa suit and oinked out Jingle Bells when you pulled its tail, looked like the result of a Deliverance/Amityville Horror mashup. And it went from the gift bag right into the garbage bag.
Anything that Daddy will think is HIS. These gifts usually come with a remote controller. Or they fly. Or they have a remote control gizmo that makes something fly. And while this SOUNDS like a great gift idea, what happens when Dad spies the RC Anything nestled in the tissue paper is that his Inner Child jumps out and grabs it. Your child will never lay hands on it again.
Anything requiring Mom’s participation. As any working mom will tell you, this is just wrong, wrong, wrong. Mom needs toys and projects that will captivate her kids so she can work in peace. NOT toys that require her to read instructions and mix stuff together while her kid sits next to her playing Minecraft till everything is set up. Or toys that require her to jump up from her desk every five minutes because “I need help, Mommy.” If a kid can’t take it out of the box and immediately start entertaining himself, preferably for hours, it’s a no go.
Anything Living. My friend Tina’s twin girls once left a birthday party with a pair of goldfish in a favor bag. G-O-L-D-F-I-S-H. And not the extra cheddar kind either. WTF??? Sending a kid home with a living goldfish in a bag isn’t gifting a child with her first pet. It’s saddling a Mom with the obligation to race out and find replacement fish every few days when the darn things inevitably get scooped up by the Great Fish Net in the Sky. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened to us yet, but I’m floating a rumor that I’m allergic to goldfish, just in case.
Anything that comes with a bazillion little tiny pieces that will inevitably scatter throughout the house. This was my bad, fellow moms. Learn from my mistakes. Back in our nursery school days, I actually did buy a little girl in my son’s class a jewelry-making set because what little girl doesn’t want to deck herself out in lots and lots of jewelry? Unfortunately, I had forgotten that the little girl’s father had a fucking doctorate in OCD. That is, until I got their note “thanking” me for such a “thoughtful” gift … “all 800 pieces of it.” The other thing I’d forgotten is that the little girl’s mom is an FBI agent. She knows my whereabouts. And she has a gun. Oops.
Anything that involves glitter, glue, dye or any combination thereof. Proof that karma is a bitch, the same year I gave that little girl’s dad an Anxiety Attack In A Jewelry Box, my two-year-old came home from a classroom birthday party with a favor bag containing a bottle of red glitter glue and one of those paddles with a ball attached to an elastic band. Glitter and glue are two items that should never be anywhere near a two-year-old. It’s been six years, and I’m still looking for THAT mom so I can smack her with her own paddle.
* If you want her to EVER speak to you again.
If you liked this post, you’ll LOVE the one about my OCD aka Obsessive Christmas Tree Disorder!
A version of this story originally appeared on Lifescript’s Health Bistro blog.
Halloween to New Year’s is a veritable gauntlet of great expectations and inevitable disappointment. So buckle up. We’ve got eight weeks of holiday
hell joy ahead!
12:01 AM, November 1. After the treats have been collected, the tricks played out and the sugared-up kiddos are passed out their beds, this date marks the official start of the Holiday Season. (Though if you go by purveyors of Pumpkin-Spice Everything, you’re forgiven if you thought the seasonal festivities began back in August.)
It’s time to start your ovens and refill those Xanax prescriptions. Because maneuvering your family through the Tough-Mudder/Iditarod that is the Happy Holidays Season is not for the faint of heart. Getting to Christmas morning and then pushing on through till New Year’s Eve takes strength. It takes will. It takes a cast-iron stomach, elastic pants and a forgiving liver. It takes … a survival guide.
And since now’s the time when we’re seasonally compelled to feel thankful, we can ALL be thankful that Jill Smokler, aka Scary Mommy, patron saint of imperfect motherhood, has put together just such a guide, coming out November 17 as an e-book and available for pre-order now.
Appropriately named Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays, Smokler’s e-book dishes up heaping helpings of holiday how-to’s, humor and heartwarming essays, plus recipes for seasonal goodies from 41 contributors and the Scary Mommy herself (check out her Kahlua Dip on page 148!). It’s a lineup that includes heavy hitters like In The Powder Room’s Leslie Marinelli, Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying, Deborah Goldstein of VillageQ, Sarah Cottrell of the Bangor Daily News, novelist Janie Emaus and HuffPo Parents/Scary Mommy regular Allison Slater Tate. And in a beautiful gesture of generosity, 100 percent of author profits from the e-book will be donated to Smokler’s Scary Mommy Nation charity, which feeds families in need through its Thanksgiving Project. We caught up with Smokler as she was
bracing herself preparing for this most wonderful time of the year.
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: So, Jill, what made you decide to put together a holiday anthology this year?
Jill Smokler: The original idea was to create a free e-book that people would get if they gave a gift of $50 or more to the Scary Mommy Nation Thanksgiving Project. But I forgot I was under contract with Simon & Schuster and that any book I wanted to do, I had to run by them, first. I figured there was no way they would want this book because the turnaround to get it out was going to be so ridiculously fast. But they did! I can’t believe how fast we managed to pull this together. But it came together surprisingly well. It’s a great collection of funny essays, sentimental essays and some awesome recipes. And it’s great to have all of these contributors who have a vested interest in the book’s success. I’m really excited about it.
NDM: In the history of New York publishing, I don’t think a book publisher has ever moved so fast.
JS [laughing]: I said to my agent, Is this a record? Did we actually break a record? Because from beginning to end I think it was under three weeks. I haven’t even signed the official contract yet, and the book is already fully in production and all of the edits have been done. It’s kind of ridiculous. It was definitely fast.
NDM: One of the arguments in favor of self-publishing is that traditional publishers aren’t nimble enough to move this quickly. I think Simon & Schuster just put the lie to that.
JS: It never could have been done with a print book. This book could be expedited because it’s electronic. But it still is pretty amazing. And if the book does well, the hope is to turn it into a hardback for next year.
NDM: Fingers crossed for you. You know, one of the things I liked so much about this collection is that it’s part cookbook, part anthology. How’d you decide to weave together the holiday stories with recipes for cranberry sauce, macaroni-and-cheese, molasses cookies, etc., not to mention hilarious how-to’s like faking from-scratch baked goods and making stuffing with your passive-aggressive mother-in-law. Those two had me rolling. And the blend of recipes and essays is so very Like Water for Chocolate.
JS: That’s a good one to be grouped with! That’s just always the way I envisioned it — a mix of everything you’d need to survive the holidays, whether it’s tips to just get through the day or an easier recipe for something that you were making anyway. I didn’t want this to be some daunting book that you’d have to sit there and read because lord knows, I don’t have time for that myself, and I imagine most moms, especially during the holiday season, just want something that’s fun and easy and maybe provides some inspiration. By the way, you have to try the Kalua dip. It’s my recipe, and it’s a staple. Ridiculously easy and dangerous. It’s so good.
NDM: Oh yeah! I peeked at the recipe: Four chocolate bars, two tubs of Cool Whip and Kahlua. Just hand me a spoon. A big spoon. After a few servings, you won’t care if your turkey’s dry! Which brings me to the other thing I really liked about your book, that you have once again shown women, moms, that we’re not alone in putting too much pressure on ourselves to make our holidays “perfect” and are crushed when they don’t measure up to our expectations. We know what the holidays are “supposed to look like” from the Hallmark Channel and the Pottery Barn catalog. And we’re almost always woefully distressed when our own holidays don’t come close.
JS: And it can’t look that way, ever.
NDM: Of course not. Because nobody has a photo stylist to set up our holiday tables, deck out our Christmas trees and stage the delight and Awww of Christmas mornings.
JS: It would be so nice if they would, wouldn’t it?
NDM: And if they could also send out well-behaved actor children who are dressed in clean party clothes and say thank you for the gifts, that would be nice too.
JS: That’s the dream!
NDM: But once again, here’s a collection showing that we’re all limping through the holiday marathon from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. And of course, the message is that we should all just cut ourselves some holiday slack.
JS: I think that’s what bonds all mothers during this time of year. It’s the “happiest time of the year,” and we want everybody to look their best. And we want everything to have the appearance of perfection or close to it. It’s a lot of pressure. I don’t know anyone with children who can live up to that.
NDM: And you know as a fellow member of The Tribe, I totally related to the essays about feeling left out of Christmas.
JS: I suppose it’s because Chanukah isn’t an important holiday in Judaism. I couldn’t write anything that wasn’t based on Christmas and Chanukah being second best either. The Chanukah essay submissions I got, it’s so sad.
And look at the cover of the e-book! When they originally sent it over, it was red and green and overblown with Christmas gifts and the mom on the cover was wearing a Santa hat. I said to my editor, You know I’m Jewish. Could we get a dreidel in there? Or a menorah? Or add some gold? It needs something, otherwise it looks like a Christmas book. So, now there’s this little tiny dreidel. I showed it to my husband Jeff, and he was like, It’s like Where’s Waldo? for the token Jewish piece. But there is a dreidel for us, floating among the presents.
NDM: We’ve talked before about how you started The Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project three years ago when you noticed a flurry of messages on the Confessional from moms having trouble just putting food on the table, let alone a holiday dinner. One of the stories that just touched my heart was the mom who worked at the welfare office. She wrote that she was so broke, she went to a food bank to get a box of food, but was denied because she made too much money to qualify. She had no idea how she was going to explain the situation to her family. Is that fairly typical of the families the Thanksgiving Project helps?
JS: What I love about this project is that it helps families that are part of the Scary Mommy community. If you’re on the Facebook page or the blog or the message boards, these are people you likely interact with but just don’t know they’re struggling to put food on the table. It’s not necessarily people who are getting government help or are homeless. It’s people who look like us, but for whatever reason — perhaps the husband’s been laid off or is serving in another country — they can’t make ends meet and don’t have the luxury to celebrate special holidays. It would just be another night where they’re eating cereal or eating tomato soup and grilled cheese. We are able to give them this gift of having a special evening that they otherwise couldn’t afford or couldn’t rationalize because if they have extra money, it’s certainly not going to a turkey, it’s going to pay bills. So it’s people who just are just like us and just need a little help to have a special night. It’s pretty cool to be able to do that.
NDM: I see that as of yesterday you’ve raised more than $53,000 and 1,075 families have been “adopted.” But you’ve got another thousand-plus families on the wait list.
JS: Fundraising is really slow this year, and I’m going around and around trying to figure out what makes this year different from last year. We’re getting a lot of $10, $15, $20 donations. That’s amazing because it’s people who can’t really afford to give, but want to make a difference in somebody else’s holiday. But I haven’t been able to get a single business to step up and give a significant amount, even though what they have versus what the people who are giving $5 and $10 have is … well, the disconnect is incredible. I started doing my fundraising outreach in June to companies that routinely approach me to do product reviews. For $5,000 they want me to do a product review. I don’t do product reviews. But when I tell them I’ve got this amazing opportunity, it’s Oh no. We’re not interested in that. I’ve heard it from hundreds of companies. It’s the most frustrating thing.
NDM: I’m floored. The Thanksgiving Project is an easy way to sow good will with consumers.
JS: I know! What’s better: Me writing a product review? Or me saying, This amazing company has stepped up and adopted X number of families. What a difference they’ve made. Read more about them here. It’s no comparison. Businesses will get such better return from doing something good. It’s a no brainer.
NDM: Agreed. Is there any story that stands out for you?
JS: That’s hard because every single person has a story. We have people who’ve left abusive relationships and are starting over in a place where they don’t know anybody and it’s just them and their kids. I can’t imagine being that isolated and alone. We have many families who’ve lost a child; some who’ve lost more than one, which is every parent’s worst nightmare. Some of these are just so heartbreaking because this person hasn’t done anything wrong, but they’re in this situation that just sucks.
You know that website Humans of New York? I think what photographer Brandon Stanton does is so cool. He’s been all over the world, interviewing and photographing people, telling their stories. And like Humans of New York, for us at the Thanksgiving Project, the bottom line is you don’t know someone’s story by looking at them. You could be envious of what they seem to have on the outside. But you have no idea of what their story is. People send in these pictures of smiling kids, and their kids look like they could be in class with my kids; they look like people I pass at the grocery store or stand next to at soccer games. You have no idea what is lying underneath the surface.
NDM: What do families need to do to qualify for a $50 grocery store gift card from The Thanksgiving Project?
JS: It’s basic information, like how many kids you have, a little bit about your family and then why you need this help and how you found yourself in this position to need this help. We read each one. There really aren’t any that we turn down.
Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving The Holidays comes out November 17 and is available for PRE-ORDER today! One-hundred percent of the author proceeds go to benefit The Thanksgiving Project 2014.
They say that when your little boy becomes a teen, he’ll morph into a raging ball of hormones, eating everything in sight and tearing, Hulk-like, through all of his clothing. But guess what?!? So will you, mom!
If you follow the typical American tradition of having at least one of your kids while you’re in your mid-thirties or so, you’re right on target to be armpit deep in peri- or full-blown menopause at the same time your child screeches around ‘Tween Corner and floors it right onto the Teen Straightaway.
So, while it may seem as though you and your precious baby have less than nothing in common now, you’ll be surprised at just how much moms are like teenage boys!
Daily monitoring of facial hair: You both spend hours in front of the mirror hoping to catch a chin hair as it sprouts.
Interest in exercise: Your son’s emerging physique encourages him to pump iron. You hit the gym in a desperate effort to keep everything from sliding even further south.
Focus “below the belt”: With paradoxical levels of wonder and panic you’re both asking, “What is HAPPENING down there??”
Inability to sleep: He’s up all night texting and playing video games. You’re up until dawn with hot flashes and night sweats.
Increased acne product usage: There is nothing sadder than sharing acne products with someone in their target market when you are several decades out of it.
Wardrobe malfunctions: As your son explodes out of every shirt and pair of jeans you buy him, you burst out of every bra and waistband.
Body Geometry Shift: His body begins to form an upside-down triangle, while yours starts to resemble triangle sitting decidedly right-side up.
Obsession with the passage of time: He is itching for everything and everyone to go faster, FASTER! You are praying things slow down for just one damn minute.
Inflated spending on space-age materials: While you replace all your clothing with Spanx-ified versions, he’ll be investing heavily in the Trojan brand.
See? SO much to talk about! Not that either of you will want to.
Can we all agree: Homework is HELL. Raise your hand if you DREAD it each night. Can someone please explain why the volume of our children’s homework directly impacts OUR stress levels? And when did THEIR homework slide onto OUR plates?
There was a reason we didn’t have homework back when we were kids, till we reached fourth grade. BECAUSE KIDS CAN’T DO IT ALONE before then. And as we know, anything a kid’s gotta do, mom’s gotta be sitting right next to them, doing it too. Which is why our school weeks look like this:
Mom’s Homework Log:
Monday: Beginning at 3:30pm, wrestle your first grader to the ground in preparation for his “twenty minutes” of reading. Fight the urge to scream, “FOCUS!!” one thousand times in a row as he interrupts himself in the middle of every other sentence to tell you something about a TV show. Fight the urge to storm out of the room after one hour. Plan for this twenty-minute task to take a minimum of two hours.
Tuesday: If your third grader has two math sheets comprised of twenty basic arithmetic review problems and five word problems, how many times will she cry, “This is baby work!” followed by, “I don’t get it! This is too hard!!”? Trick question! Receive an email from her teacher alerting you that she hasn’t handed in her math homework for the past three weeks, which you then find crumpled under her bed. Vow to redouble your homework espionage.
Wednesday: Your first grader has had two weeks to complete his “About Me” poster, complete with extended family photos, family tree and a personal essay. It is due tomorrow. He mentions it at 8pm.
Thursday: Your fifth grader’s science fair project is due in one week. While he has actually completed the written assignment all by himself (hallelujah!), the project will require supply-gathering trips to the Petco, Home Depot, Staples, Michael’s Craft store, Target, and the local dump. Complete these trips today during the brief window your preschooler is actually IN school, between 9am and 11:15am.
Friday: Relax! It’s Friday! Of course there’s that report on the Federal Reserve due for your third grader’s Great American Economy Pageant next week. Better get crackin’.
Saturday Extra Credit (not!!): Today you are snack mom for your preschooler’s nut-free, processed sugar-free playgroup at 10am. You are also snack mom for your daughter’s gluten-free, dairy-free basketball game at 2pm. You are ALSO snack mom for your son’s nut-free, sugar-free, dye-free, gluten-free, soy-free scout meeting at 4pm. This will require making stops at four different grocery stores before 9am. No problem, you’ve been up since 5am!
Oh, bedtime! That precious moment when you can finally turn your little perpetual-motion machine off for the night … and then kick back and enjoy some desperately needed Me-Time. But first! You must run the Bedtime Stalling Gauntlet. Never fear. Here, we attempt to give you a leg-up on that challenge by outlining the Top Ten Toddler Bedtime Stalling tactics. Preparation is half the battle. The other half is a solid wine buzz. Good luck out there!
“But, I’m SO huuuungry!”
Usually from the child who has refused all meals, and eaten nothing but one goldfish cracker and half a grape all day long. Especially effective coming from girls, who appear to survive on air for days on end.
The child who generally hides by simply covering their face while standing in the middle of the living room suddenly becomes a master of camouflage when the sun goes down, nowhere to be found.
The wet noodle
When you finally get your hands on them – schoop! – right through your grasp, onto the floor, and off like a shot.
“But, I’m not tired!”
From the child who just gave up their nap, swam for three hours and played hard for another four, they’ve passed the point of exhaustion and slipped into mania. Symptoms include: dilated pupils, stumbling, shrieking, wet nooding.
Oh, you’re gonna be if mama doesn’t get back to Real Housewives before the shit goes DOWN.
Every tooth must be thoroughly brushed and flossed, hands and face washed until squeaky clean. It’s really hard to argue with this one. If only the child who usually looked like Pigpen from the Peanuts showed this level of care on their way out the door.
The endless parental cabaret act
“A song! Patty cake! Another song! A Book! NOOOO! In Elmo’s voice!” Your bedtime act can extend an hour or more. And guess what? There’s NO INTERMISSION. Ever.
“But I missed you ALL DAY!”
Guilt. You’re never too young to start.
Selecting the longest book known to man
Just one book, mama? Berenstein Bears Treasury, it is!
“I want to try the potty!”
Sigh, of course you do.
I know what you’re thinking. Seven IS a wee bit young to be engagement ring shopping. But my son is clearly a romantic. And a long-range planner. That, for sure, he gets from me. After all, I was the one touring Central Florida preschools when the boy was barely six-weeks-old. And outside of New York City’s high-stakes nursery school competition—in which moms vie to fast-track their kids to Harvard by snaring one of the open spots in the city’s elite preschools before they’ve even given birth—preschool shopping before age 3 is considered certifiably crazy.
Still, it warmed my former Girl Scout’s heart to know that my boy wanted to be prepared. Besides, how many guys under 30 can even think the word marriage, without passing out? My kid’s gonna be quite the catch once he’s old enough to drive.
I discovered my third-grader was in the market, as it were, when we stopped by the jeweler’s one afternoon after school. A tennis bracelet had fallen off my wrist several months back, and I’d finally remembered to toss it in my bag and bring it in for repair.
While I was going over repair details with the jeweler, my son was scoping out the rest of the sparkly goods — watches, pendants, earrings. And then he saw it.
“Mommy! Look at this! Come look!!!” And he grabbed my arm and dragged me across the store to look in a glass case. He pointed excitedly at a tray of rings. Some had sapphires. Some had rubies. And one had —
“That one, Mommy! That one! Do you see it???”
It was a small round emerald, set in a simple bezel and flanked by diamonds.
The kid has taste, I’ll give him that.
“How much is it? How much is it?” Kids repeat themselves endlessly. Probably because they’ve grown wise to the fact that we tune out most of their nonstop chatter as much as they ignore us. So they repeat and repeat and repeat just to make sure we’ve heard them at least once. “How much IS it?”
The price tag was tucked into the velvet ring tray so its numbers couldn’t be read. Perhaps to avoid giving customers sticker shock before they see it on their finger and decide they absolutely must have it.
“Ask the man …” and my boy pointed impatiently to the ring in the case. “MOMM-MEEEE,” he implored. “ASK THE MAN.”
I glanced around. The store was empty. There was no one to be annoyed that a 7-year-old was being taken care of before them.
“Excuse me —” I smiled my winningest smile at the jeweler, a young guy, with a hint of urban hipster about him. I guessed him to be in his late-twenties. The store was his father’s, a silver-haired man who hailed from Lebanon and always had time for chit-chat. And it was his father who’d taken care of my jewelry since we moved here in ’05. His kid knew his way around a bracelet. I just hoped had a sense of humor.
“Um … my son likes one of the rings in the case over here and wanted to see it up close …” My voice trailed off, and I arched my eyebrows in silent Please, Please, Please Indulge Me Here hopefulness.
And the hipster jeweler, bless his heart, was instantly the epitome of attentiveness.
He strode over to the case and opened it up. “What’s your name, young man?” he asked as his eyes swept over the rings on display. Then, “Which one do you like?”
Fletcher pointed. Then the jeweler brought out the emerald-diamond ring with a flourish and solemnly handed it to my son. The stones were small, but the ring was beautiful. Fletcher turned it over thoughtfully, watching as the jewels glittered in the late-afternoon sunlight.
“How much is it?” my son asked, with all the business-like authority he could put into his high little boy voice.
“Two-hundred and fifty dollars,” said the jeweler. He was just as businesslike, even though there wasn’t a chance in hell that this was ending in a sale. The ring wasn’t Hope Diamond pricey, but it was definitely more than a 7-year-old could afford on his five-bucks-a-week allowance.
Fletcher turned the ring over a few more times, inspecting it from every angle, as if he was a buyer from Tiffany. Then he handed the ring back to the jeweler.
I thanked the jeweler profusely as we left the store. And that I thought was that, until …
“Mmmm?” I mumbled, looking through my bag for my car keys.
“How much money do you have?”
“Enough to feed you,” I said, still distracted, thinking about the next stops we still had to make. Dry cleaner, grocery store, and oh yes, the gas station — I was driving on fumes.
“Enough to buy the ring?” Fletcher persisted. “I wanna give the ring to Katherine.”
Ahhhh. Now I got it. Katherine. The girl my third-grader has carried a torch for since kindergarten. She was a full two years older than my boy. And a beauty. As I’ve said, the kid has good taste.
That also explained why I’d found him Googling “how to kiss a girl” on my iPad a few nights before. Which had led to a long talk about not kissing girls till he was older. I was thinking grad school, perhaps. Still, I’m sure Katherine’s parents will be thrilled to know that at least my son’s intentions were honorable.
And so I explained that an emerald-diamond ring was too extravagant a gift to give a school-mate. And that he was too young to think about giving rings to girls besides.
“When you find the girl you want to marry, then you can buy her a ring,” I explained.
“But Mommy, couldn’t we buy the ring now and save it for later?” Ever the negotiator, my son. Seriously, this kid’s gonna make one helluva lawyer some day.
But unlike an extra brownie or one more Beyblades episode to watch on the weekend, this was easy to say No to. And um … No, I wouldn’t be buying the ring for him.
“When you’re old enough, you can buy your own ring for the girl you marry.”
He’s saving his pennies now.
A version of this essay originally appeared on Lifescript’s HealthBistro blog.
17 numbers parents never need to know … and 3 we kinda wish we did.
by Nicole Leigh Shaw of Ninja Mom Blog
There are lots of things I keep track of as the stay-at-home parent and family accounts payable person. For instance, I know how many people I need to provide a snack for in my son’s preschool class: 17.
I know the number of days it’s been since the kids had a bath: 1.
I know how much to pay the school lunch accounts for my girls: $35/month … times 3.
I know how many ballet classes we can miss before we need to head all the way downtown for a make-up class: 4. (It’s a bit of a nail biter now since we’ve currently missed 3.)
And I imagine there are numbers that other parents know, but really wish they didn’t. Like, the number of pieces of gum your daughter found stuck under a table … and then put in her own mouth to chew … today. The number of times your toddler has shown his preschool friends his butt. And the number of private things about you that your kids have shared with their teachers, the bus driver, and the boy who bags your groceries. And I’m sure there are more. But there are some numbers that I NEVER need to know. Such as:
• How many uneaten dinners I’ve made.
• How many diapers I’ve changed.
• How many times I’ve held a hand that had boogers on it.
• How many of my lip-balms, hair-ties and coins scrounged from the bottom of my purse that my kids have borrowed or given away to friends in school trades.
• How many times my kids have said “Mom?”
• How many pairs of toddler underwear I’ve thrown away in public bathrooms.
• How many times they haven’t washed up after going potty.
• How many times they haven’t wiped after going potty.
• How many peas they’ve lied about eating.
• How many videos they’ve watched on YouTube.
• How many nights they’ve gone to bed without brushing their teeth.
• How many minutes until their new toys break beyond repair … on average.
• How many crocodile tears they’ve shed.
• How many times I punished the wrong kid because the other one made a more convincing case.
• How many apologies I’ve brokered.
• How many times I’ve said, “Don’t make me count to 3!”
• How many dimples are on my rear end, though my children insist on trying to count them and tell me all about it.
That said, I would love to have an accounting of the times I’ve done the right thing. I would love a record of my successes and a sense of my parenting prowess. Have I done enough, so far? Am I on track to turn out kids who are in the emotional black? Or am I thisclose to raising jerks … or worse yet, telemarketers.
I will settle, however, for never knowing how many times my children will narrowly escape certain disaster. That’s not quite as good as a tally of the number of times I’ve said I love you and they’ve known how true that is. Still, that’s a little bit of ignorance I can feel blissful about.
Nicole Leigh Shaw, Tyop Aretist writes the hilariously funny Ninja Mom Blog and is a contributor to the anthologies I Just Want To Pee Alone and I Just Want To Be Alone. Follow her on her blog, on Facebook and Twitter.