Tag Archive | parenting

Are You Cool Enough For Michael Jeffries?

If you’re involved in any kind of social media, chances are you’ve read about the statement made by the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, Michael Jeffries.  If not, I don’t want to be the only one who’s holding a torch and pitchfork, so take a look at this….

What a multi-million dollar douchebag.

What a multi-million dollar douchebag.

When I first read about this, I was offended on so many levels:  as a curvy woman whose left boob probably wouldn’t fit into an Abercrombie & Fitch’s size L t-shirt; as a parent who is trying like hell to raise kids who are accepting, kind, and respectful of others; and as a decent human being who doesn’t like it when someone acts like an asshole – especially when that asshole is marketing to kids.

When I brought this up with my 14-year old daughter and decisively told her that we would never buy another piece of Abercrombie & Fitch clothing, she got angry…. which in turn made me angry.  I wanted her to join in the fight and be as outraged as I was about this man’s prejudicial opinions, but she wasn’t.  After a few minutes of bickering back and forth, it was clear that neither one of us wanted to budge.  So, we left the subject lying on the ground like a hot coal we didn’t know how to extinguish.  She stormed off to school and my head erupted like Krakatoa.

Michael Jeffries can kiss my XL SIZED ASS!!!!

Michael Jeffries can kiss my XL SIZED ASS!!!!

Once I simmered down, I thought about our conversation. In hindsight, I probably should have waited to talk about this when I could approach it logically rather than emotionally.  Although, given the fact that this subject is a bit of a hot button for me, I might’ve had to wait until she was collecting social security before I could’ve talked about it logically.

But I should have at least told her what I read and then asked her opinion on the subject, rather than acting like the parent Nazi.  Because once you tell a teenager they can’t do something, it becomes irresistible.  Even if you pick something they wouldn’t normally have done – like telling them that they’re never allowed to inject puppies with heroin…. you’d better believe some puppies will be tripping before bedtime.

I think my daughter saw not being allowed to wear Abercrombie & Fitch as the social status stock market crash of 2013.  Kids like to fit in because it means more friends and less bullying.  But often times, fitting in comes with a big price tag – in this case, it’s $58 for a pair of sweatpants…. and your immortal soul.

The message I wanted to send to my daughter, and to Michael Jeffries for that matter, is that it’s wrong to discriminate against someone based solely on his or her appearance.  And when we bear witness to that atrocity, we need to rally against it and prove that we care more about justice than we do about the label on our shirt.


I think the only reason Michael Jeffries still has a job, is because he chose overweight people as his target.  If he had blatantly stated that he didn’t want any minorities wearing Abercrombie & Fitch, he probably would’ve been fired and then burned over a pyre of his own overpriced clothing (or at least made to pay $50 million dollars in racial discrimination lawsuits like he did back in 2004).  But it seems a person’s weight is still fair game in the world of discrimination – whereas discrimination based on race, religion and sex (while still undeniably present) are a bit more taboo, more camouflaged  behind bureaucratic bullshit.

It is still socially acceptable to crack a few fat jokes, and portray overweight people in the media as lazy, unattractive and gluttonous.  These movie/TV characters are often seen as punchlines, not people – sadly, I think the same holds true off the big screen as well…. especially where Michael Jeffries and his stupid moose boxer shorts are concerned.

By saying that he only markets to “cool and good-looking” kids is the equivalent of saying that he doesn’t want ugly, fat kids wearing his brand (or working in his stores).  This guy has balls the size of cantaloupes not only for making such a brazen statement, but also for saying it while looking like this….

The only thing this guy should be railing against  is plastic surgery and botox injections.

The only thing this guy should be railing against
is plastic surgery and botox injections.

But there is one thing I love about Michael Jeffries’ statement – that he shot himself in the foot with it.  The world now knows him for the shallow, elitist prick he is, and it’s my fervent wish that his company will be deemed just as pathetic as his attempts to hold onto his youth.



My Tea Tastes Like Chili….

(And Other Reasons I’ll Never Be Featured in Good Housekeeping Magazine)

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, chances are you’ve heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” uttered a few (thousand) times – especially when one of your girlfriends tries to hook you up with a guy who “has a great personality”, but looks like Robert Carradine from the 80’s movie Revenge of the Nerds.

The face that froze a thousand vaginas

The face that froze a thousand vaginas.

I agree that we should look beyond a person’s exterior in order to discover what truly matters – like whether or not the guy wears boxers or tighty-whities.  But people aside, there is one thing in life that I believe should ONLY be judged by what’s on the surface  – my house.  I’m hoping that whoever walks in the door won’t find out that the appearances I work very hard to keep up…. well, maybe not that hard…. okay, not hard at all…. are about as superficial as Pamela Anderson’s boobs.

HEY!  Eyes up here people, I was talking about my HOUSE.  Remember?

Hey! Eyes up here people, I was talking about my HOUSE. Remember?

If you delve beneath the creamy, white surface… wait, I’m still thinking about Pamela Anderson’s boobs.  Sorry.  What I meant to say was that beneath the surface of my house’s tidy façade lies a dusty underbelly, exposed to any houseguest who dares to look too closely.

Here are my 7 deadly sins of housekeeping.  Neat freaks might want to look away….

1.  My tea tastes like Chili:  I reheated my mug of tea in the microwave this morning and when I took a sip, all I tasted was chili – not exactly the pick me up I was looking for at 7:00am.  Upon closer inspection, I could see that my microwave still contained the spattered remains of my husband’s chili dinner from the night before.   I knew when I opened the door of the microwave that it smelled like chili but I thought, “How bad could it be?”  The answer – fucking horrible.

It’s not just the microwave that looks like a graveyard for the ghost of dinners past, it’s every appliance in my kitchen.  I can handle a certain amount of gunk and grease, but I have to take action when I end up with tea that a vegetarian would find morally offensive.

Why does it look like someone tried to microwave a hamster in here??

Why does it smell like someone tried to microwave a hamster in here??

2.  Closets, they’re not just for coats anymore:  Actually, they’re almost never for coats anymore – that’s what the couch, doorknobs, and playroom floor is for.  Our closets are predominantly for housing old toys, clothes, and mementos.  I feel compelled to save useless crap like my son’s 2nd grade report card – what if he wants to know how he did in school when he’s too old and senile to remember?  He might enjoy finding out that he never followed directions and couldn’t keep his mouth shut in class.

The problem with running a sentimental storage facility is that things tend to pile up after 14-years of parenting.  So, snoopers beware – if you’re nosey enough to go poking around in my closets, expect to encounter something like this when you open the door….

Only instead of snow, you’ll probably be buried alive in macaroni art and finger paintings.

Only instead of snow,
you’ll probably be buried alive in macaroni art and finger paintings.

3.  Even Mr. Clean can’t help me now:  Cleaning the bathroom is like the pap smear of household chores (guys, you can insert prostate check into that metaphor instead…. insert is probably a bad word to use there).  It’s necessary but dreaded, and when it’s over you’re exhausted and feel like smoking a cigarette.  Or maybe that’s just me.

I procrastinate for weeks, and watch with a growing sense of dread as the dried toothpaste stains and soap scum advance and eventually gain ground.  I usually call on Mr. Clean right before they stage a coup and push conditions too close to public bathroom territory.  After I have won the disinfectant war (what’s with all the military imagery, Linda?), I make my husband and kids come into the freshly scrubbed bathroom to admire how shiny and scuzz-free it is.

“Isn’t it clean?  Look – the shower walls aren’t slimy anymore!!” I boast as I show off my sparkly-clean bathtub with all the pageantry of Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune.

They’re never quite as impressed as I think they should be.


4.  Dust bunnies – the pets you don’t have to feed:  I’m not sure dust bunnies is an accurate description of what I have in my house – by the time I get around to dusting they’re more like dust llamas.  I hate dusting almost as much as I hate cleaning the bathroom.  Wiping down tabletops is no big deal, it’s the time consuming dusting that I have a problem with – the curtains, blinds, ceiling fans, bookshelves, etc.  I usually wait until those things start to look fuzzy before I resign myself to the chore.

If you ever want to see it snow in July, just come on over to my house and I’ll turn on my ceiling fans for you.  If we get drunk enough, we can have fun dancing around in the “snow” like Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands.  It’ll be magical.

5.  A place for everything…. but dammed if I know where it is:  Where can you find a staple gun, fruitcake and lint roller all living in harmony together?  The answer is on my kitchen countertop.  In any other house, this area might be used as an eat-in counter, equipped with some hip bar stools and matching placemats.  Like this….

Why can’t I live in a house where my mugs match my chairs??

Why can’t I live in a house where my mugs match my chairs??

But instead, this counter (and pretty much every other flat surface in the house) acts like a landing strip for all the crap nobody knows what to do with.  I’m sure if I thought long and hard about where all this stuff belongs, I could find a proper home for all of it (in the garbage).  But who has the time?  The past four seasons of Modern Family aren’t just going to watch themselves.

This is the Christmas version of my crap collector –  doesn’t the nutcracker make it festive?

I don’t have time to clean AND decorate for the holidays –
don’t you think the nutcracker make my crap look really festive?

6.  Martha Stewart can kiss my ass:  The beds in my house are never made.  Well, that’s not entirely true – when it comes time to put on clean sheets, I make the bed. But the other 29 days of the month, my bed looks like it fell victim to a dozen chimpanzees with restless leg syndrome.  And yes, I only wash my sheets once a month – but that shouldn’t gross out anyone reading this because the neat freaks were already warned to look away.  Remember?  You might want to heed my warning this time because it only gets worse from here.

I had high hopes when I finally bought the four-poster bed of my dreams.  I bought a pretty comforter set with matching throw pillows to complete the Martha Stewart vision I had created in my head.  But after about a week, the bed stopped being made and the throw pillows found their way into a corner of the room; and there they stayed in a decorative pile, giving the dust bunnies yet another place to hide.

The Martha Stewart fantasy….

The Martha Stewart fantasy….

The Oscar Madison reality.

The Oscar Madison reality.

7.  My recipe for homemade raisins:  Chances are, if I have to get down on my hands and knees to clean it, it doesn’t get cleaned.  Who am I, Cinderella?   The areas under the couch (and any other piece of furniture) are usually neglected unless one of the kids loses a favorite toy (read that as an iPod or Nintendo DS) and we have to turn the whole house upside down to find it.  That’s when science-project-level grossness is discovered.  Stuff like this….

Homemade raisins – easy to make and you’ll never need to take penicillin again!

Homemade raisins – easy to make and you’ll never need to take penicillin again!

I know you’re jealous, and want to find out how you can make your own homemade couch raisins,

so I’ll share the recipe with you:

  1. Give child a bag of grapes as a snack.
  2. Assume child eats bag of grapes.
  3. Assume child properly disposes of bag instead of shoving it under the couch.
  4. Discover that all your assumptions were really, really WRONG.

I warned you it got worse, but you didn’t want to listen.

I Accidentally Killed Santa Claus

We were still a few weeks away from Thanksgiving, but as my daughter and I entered our local mall I could see signs that the Christmas season was already beginning to rear its overly commercialized head.  I’m not normally a scrooge, but I morph into one when I see people decking the halls before they’ve had the chance to digest their turkey dinner.  I think that as long as the turkeys of the world are blissfully unaware that they are about to have an ass full of stuffing, Christmas should be nothing more than a tinseled speck on the horizon.


calm this shit down...

I guess the management at JCPenny didn’t care that I had just gone trick-or-treating with my kids or that I had no desire to have Santa crammed down my throat along with all the leftover Halloween candy.  The department store was already dripping with tacky Santa sweaters and twinkle lights.  As I tried to find the nearest exit, my ears picked up the familiar strains of “Frosty the Snowman” over the speaker system – it was my very first Christmas carol of the season and I had barely had the chance to step one foot into the month of November.  When I heard the first few chords, I looked around in disbelief, searching for some store employee to blame for the auditory assault. When I caught the eyes of a woman who worked there, I vaguely pointed in the direction of the offensive sound and mouthed the word, “Really?”  She shrugged sadly as if to say, “At least you don’t have to listen to this shit all day long.”


My 13-year old daughter, Meghan, was oblivious to my souring mood as she made her way over to the jewelry department.  Now thanks to Frosty the (unwelcome) snowman, I immediately started thinking about what Christmas presents to buy for her as she commented on the jewelry she liked.  I guess I fell right into the department store’s not so subtle consumer trap – hook, line and credit card.

Teenagers are notoriously difficult to buy presents for, and that goes double for teenage girls…. quadruple if it’s a gift of clothes or jewelry for a teenage girl.  You might as well just hand them the receipt for the item, along with your apologies for not even coming close.  I know that if it’s the wrong color, or there’s an offensive sparkle in the wrong place, the gift will be given a polite smile and then find it’s way to the bottom of their jewelry box or closet, never to be seen or heard from again.


I knew I needed some help, so while we perused through the glittery baubles I said, “You should get a jumpstart on your Christmas list for Santa… and adding in some pictures would be a big help.”  Then I gave her an exaggerated wink and a nudge with my elbow, and continued to browse.

Meghan approached me with a look of stunned disbelief on her face and said, “Was that the moment??”

I was drawing a blank.  “You’re going to have to help me out because I didn’t wear my teenager decoder ring today.  What moment?” I asked.

“The moment every kid talks about – the one where their parent KILLS their childhood.”

I thought she was joking around with me, so I smiled and said, “Shut up.  Don’t act like we haven’t talked about this before.”

We have talked about the whole Santa scam before… right?  My brain started to frantically backtrack through all of our meaningful mother/daughter talks.  Here’s the checklist I came up with:

  1. Sex (check).  When she was about 9-years old, she wanted to know how babies were made.  I vividly remember her being grossed out when she understood what sex was and then realized her parents must have engaged in the behavior.  The conversation ended with a prolonged, “EWWWWWW!!!” and then she ran away.  Not exactly the bonding moment I had envisioned.
  1. Menstruation (check).  She got her period when she was 12-years old – if you count all the friends she texted first, I was probably the fourth or fifth person to find out.  I guess I should be thankful I was in the top ten, and that I didn’t have to find out about it on facebook.  After her admission, I took her through all the fun period paraphernalia and told her that Advil would be her new best friend.
  1. Drugs, alcohol and smoking (check, check, check).  We talked about the dangers of this stuff beginning in 3rd or 4th grade when I kept hearing stories about kids getting drunk and high in the 6th grade.  I would be thrilled if she never touched any of it, but realistically I’m just hoping to get through her high school graduation without having to ever find her laying down drunk in a puddle of her own vomit.

As my mind raced, I kept coming up blank where Santa was concerned.  Could it be that we had covered all these weighty issues and glossed over the fact that jolly ol’ St. Nicholas was a total load of Christmas crap?  It seemed impossible.  Equally impossible was the fact that none of her friends or older cousins had filled her in on the hoax.  But the forlorn expression on her face confirmed my worst fear –



I tried to backpedal and pretend like I was just kidding, but it was too late – the fat man was out of the bag now, and there was no way of stuffing him back in.  I knew that Meghan would probably spend the next week mentally replaying all the lies I had told her over the years.  I could almost hear her future accusations, “You mean the EASTER BUNNY and the TOOTH FAIRY too?!  They were all LIES??”  Yes honey, but they were good lies.  (They must’ve been good for you to believe them for the last 13 years.)

As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait a whole week for the wheels in her brain to start turning – the kid always was too smart for her own good.  During the ride home from the mall, she spewed rapid-fire realizations at me, and all I could do was sit there and mentally calculate what this was going to cost me in therapy bills.

One of the best realizations she made was about our cat, Matilda.  Four years ago, Meghan woke up on Christmas morning to discover a new kitten under our tree that happened to have the same name as her favorite Roald Dahl book.  Now she knew that Santa had no part in giving her that cute, little furball.

“YOU found Matilda?” she asked.

“Yes!” I finally blurted out like a criminal who had reached the breaking point during a prolonged interrogation.  “And you have no idea how hard it is to find a kitten in winter!  The damn cats only mate in the spring!!  I had to visit half a dozen animal shelters before I found her and then I had to hide her at Grandma’s house until you went to bed on Christmas eve, and then…” I babbled on until the whole sordid story was told, and then we sat there in silence for a while.

It was my fervent wish that Meghan would grow to appreciate all the trouble my husband and I had gone through to create this fantastical ruse, and how difficult it was to maintain for so long.  But I knew that wish wasn’t going to come true anytime soon.   The few days that followed (what will now be referred to as “the Santa incident”) were spent with her saying things like, “I can’t believe you lied to me” and me feeling like Mommy Dearest right after she beat Christina with a wire hanger.


I guess we know who’ll be at the top of Santa’s naughty list this year…. will any of you be joining me?

Let Them Eat Crayons

Do you remember a time when pre-schoolers spent their days eating crayons, flushing inappropriate things down the toilet, and giving the family dog a haircut?  I do because that’s not only how I spent my time before I got into school, but also how most of my elementary school days were spent – doing things that were fueled by my own curiosity, creativity, and imagination.

It saddens me that a lot of today’s youth will never be able to discover the answer to the question, “do orange crayons tastes like oranges?” because they’ll never get to spend an unscheduled or unsupervised moment alone to find out.  I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it kiddies, they don’t.  At all.

See? She was left unsupervised and she turned out just fine.

I think kids today are spread too thin and not given enough downtime to recoup from their busy schedules – the end result being ten-year olds with Wall Street level burnout.

I don’t know when it happened, but nowadays it’s considered the norm to have your child involved in several activities at once.  Some experts believe organized activities foster success in other areas of life, while others believe it is the death of imagination and creativity – I tend to side with the latter.

I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t get involved in scheduled activities, but I think they should be limited to one or two things they love.  I also think they should be introduced at a time in the child’s life when they show a genuine interest in the sport/club/musical instrument.  It’s not the parent’s job to choose what their child’s passions are, only to encourage them when they develop naturally.

Does your three-year old have aspirations to become the next David Beckham?  It’s possible, but highly improbable.  Have you seen some of the pre-school children that play sports?  They are too busy playing in the dirt or gazing up at the clouds to pay much attention to the ball being kicked around.  So why not let them do those activities at home where there is no danger of being hit in the head with a soccer ball?

Every kid is different – some thrive on a packed schedule while others prefer more downtime. Here’s a way to tell which side of the fence your kid falls on:  if they throw a temper tantrum or melt into a pile of weepy tears when it’s time to leave the house for practice, maybe it’s time to stop making them go.  I promise no one will call Child Protective Services on you just because your kid doesn’t play baseball or take ballet classes.

I don’t WANT to be a freakin’ ballerina,
OKAY Mom?!

There is a lot of pressure on parents to make sure that their kids are sociable – no one wants their kid to be a social outcast.  They might end up blowing up school buildings or spearheading multi-billion dollar corporations like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates…. wait a minute that last one might actually not be so bad.  I could finally cash in on the years I spent changing dirty diapers and cleaning barf off my shirt.

As adults, we know how painful it can be when you feel like you don’t fit in, and we try to protect our children from ever experiencing those feelings of rejection and loneliness.  But having your child enrolled in half a dozen activities doesn’t ensure that they will never feel lonely.   In fact, it may disable them from coping with feelings of occasional isolation because they aren’t used to it.

My friend was worried that her five-year old daughter wasn’t socializing properly with her classmates – her evidence being the fact that she didn’t have a best friend yet.  She said that she was talking to another mother in the class and the woman was bragging about how her daughter was inseparable from her best friend and how she spent hours talking on the phone with her – this girl was four-years old at the time.  FOUR. YEARS. OLD.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know how to use a telephone at that age, unless you count using the long, curly cord as a jump rope.

I just dated myself there, didn’t I?  Yep, I grew up with corded telephones that were tethered to the wall – save the older-than-dirt jokes until the end, please.  Back to the subject at hand….

Let’s do a little mental exercise right now to help ease my friend’s fear:  think back and tell me what age you were when you had your first, real best friend.  I’m not talking about the kid you were thrown together with because your mothers were friends, I mean the first best friend you made all on your own.

I’ll go first – I was in FIFTH grade (10 years old).  That’s not to say I didn’t have other friends before then, just none that I felt compelled to hang out with outside the boundaries of the playground.  I didn’t meet Kristen through sports, clubs, or any other kind of scheduled activity.  In fact, I’m pretty sure what drew us together initially was our mutual hatred of dresses.  And thirty years later, we are still close friends and I can assure you that I’m not scarred for life because I didn’t meet her right after exiting my mother’s womb.

My point to all of this is that I think a lot of parents are slamming their foot down on the accelerator of their children’s childhoods and worrying too much about their future.  It’s okay that your three-year old can’t read, that your five-year old isn’t surrounded by a gaggle of giggling girlfriends, or that your seven-year old hasn’t decided whether or not they want to play sports.

Does your kid seem happy?  Well-adjusted?  Unlikely to commit his first felony before he’s ten-years old?  Then you’re doing a pretty great job Mom and Dad.  Give yourself a break….and more importantly, give your kid one too.

Studies have shown a direct correlation between baby pole dancing and childhood stress…. or maybe it’s crappy parenting. I forget.

5 Side Effects of Living With a Belieber

Even if you’re not a girl under the age of sixteen (or the parent of one), chances are you’ve at least heard of the pop singer, Justin Bieber.  In the last three years, he has gone from an anonymous Canadian teenager to a globally recognized superstar.  At the mall, it’s hard to walk ten feet without seeing his face on a piece of merchandise – even on coffee mugs, which makes no sense to me.  Since when do twelve-year olds drink coffee?  I suppose they could be for adults… but that’s a thought too horrifying to contemplate.

When caffeine isn't enough to get your heart racing.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of websites dedicated to the adoration and idolization of this eighteen-year old boy.  Over zealous Bieber fans, dubbed “Beliebers”, can’t seem to get enough of him.  I know, because my thirteen-year old daughter, Meghan, is one of them.

If DaVinci had Justin Bieber to look at, the Mona Lisa never would have been painted.

Those that have a Belieber residing under their roof know what a test of patience it can be.  For those of you that don’t (lucky bastards), I’ll give you a glimpse into my hormonally charged world.  Here are the side effects of living with a Belieber:

1.  Barnes & Noble induced bankruptcy:  

Meghan knows no limits when it comes to books on the subject of Justin Bieber.  Even though the kid is barely old enough to vote, he has already written an autobiography entitled First Step 2 Forever.  There have also been dozens of books written about Justin by other authors.  That’s right, I said dozens – and Meghan wants them all.  That doesn’t mean she gets them all…. at least not until she gets a job to help support her Bieber habit.

Can you say adorably redundant?

And if the books aren’t enough to satisfy your Belieber’s obsession, there are also magazines.  Do you know how many teen magazines are out there?  Thankfully, not as many as there are Bieber biography books, but certainly more than there were when I was a teenager.   And most of the magazines have Justin somewhere between the pages, which means more pictures and posters for Meghan to add to her bedroom walls.  Her room is a veritable Bieber shrine…. all Beliebers that come to worship must leave their purple sneakers at the door.

Move along.... nothing obsessive to see here.

2.  The shrieking….oh God, the SHRIEEEEKING!!:  

I am constantly assaulted by ear-piercing shrieks at the mere mention of Justin’s name.  Every commercial, TV appearance, or music video with that kid in it causes Meghan to emit a sound that just misses the frequency of a dog whistle…. which is unfortunate for me because that means I can hear it.  If I need hearing aids before I’m fifty, I’m suing Justin Bieber for damages.

That clip was just thirty seconds…. try listening to that for THREE YEARS.

Meghan and I were driving in the car recently, and all of the sudden she let out a shriek that made me think I was about to run my car into a parade of babies and kittens.  I frantically looked around to find the cause of her apparent panic attack, nearly running my car off the road in the process, but saw nothing.

“WHAT?  What is it?!”  I asked, with my heart galloping in my chest.

“Justin Bieber’s new song is on the radio!!!”  she exclaimed while bouncing up and down in the seat beside me.

Have you ever seen that show 1,000 Ways to Die?  I bet the makers of that show never considered death by Top 40 hit song.

3.  Your nose can run, but it can’t hide:  

Given Meghan’s voracious appetite for Bieber merchandise, when he came out with his perfume, Someday, I knew she would want it.  I also knew that it would offend my Chanel No. 5 sensibilities – I was right.  The sweet concoction wafts through the house, and seems to find my nose no matter how far away I am from where it was sprayed.  And when it does inevitably find me, a migraine usually isn’t far behind.

Someday.... sounds like a threat.

 4.  Play it again, Sam.  And again…. and again…. and again…. 

Meghan doesn’t seem to ever tire of listening to Justin’s music.  EVER.  His lyrics and music have been pounded into my brain with repetition so relentless, it borders on torture.  You need to get a confession out of me?  Play Justin Bieber’s song, Baby, a couple dozen times, and I’ll tell you anything you want to know.  I get down on my hands and knees and thank the inventor of the iPod everyday because without it (and the accompanying headphones), I would surely have found my way into a straight jacket and a padded cell by now.

Dancing to the beat of her own Bieber.

5.  The countdown – it’s like Dick Clark on amphetamines:

The countdown begins when Meghan finds out that Justin Bieber is coming out with a new single, album, or video.  I thought it was unbearable when she had to wait two weeks for his single, Boyfriend, to come out, but now she has to wait almost two months for the release of his next album, Believe.  Thanks a HEAP for announcing that one so early, Justin.  Every day that ticks slowly passed, I know I will hear her excitedly announce, “only __ more days until the new Justin Bieber album comes out!!!!”  And more than likely, that announcement will be punctuated by a shriek that makes my ears bleed.

A visual aid to remind me when the next round of auditory torture will begin.

I guess there are worse fates for a parent to suffer, and certainly worse boys for my daughter to idolize.  Despite Justin’s amazingly rapid rise to fame, he seems to be well grounded and good-natured.  He visits sick kids in the hospital, puts on concerts at impoverished schools, and lends his voice and support to a lot of charities – namely the “Children’s Miracle Network”, the “It Gets Better Project”, and the upcoming movie “Bully”.  He’s like the teenage boy version of Mother Theresa.

Maybe his extraordinary empathy for the poor, sick, and tormented children of the world is a byproduct of his own humble beginnings…. or maybe when you have more money than god, you just enjoy throwing it around a little.  Whatever the reason, I hope Justin Bieber stays as sweet as his headache producing perfume.

If she blushes this much over a cardboard cut-out,
meeting him in person would surely lead to spontaneous combustion.

Down There

My son, Aidan, provides me with a lot of funny writing material – which hopefully is as entertaining to you, as it is to me.  This particular  parent-child moment took place in winter, about a year ago….

I glanced at the clock, probably for the tenth time in the last half hour. I don’t think I had experienced this kind of time drag since I was in hard labor with my firstborn, and was told that it would be another hour before the doctor could administer the epidural.  And also like that day, this one had been long and taxing, and I was ready for it to be over.  I no longer had the energy to break up any more fights between my two children, or repeat myself like a psychotic mental patient.

My stamina hadn’t been up to par since the autumn time change.  As a result of setting the clocks back one hour, I had lost all ability to gauge time.  The afternoons were getting darker, and the evening hours seemed to drag on forever.  Sometimes I would look at the clock, expecting to find the time nearing eight in the evening, and be startled when I found the small hand still stubbornly pointing to the six.

But my hours of clockwatching had finally paid off.  It was 7:55 and there were just five more minutes to go until I put my six year-old son, Aidan, to bed.  Part of me felt guilty about reveling in the arrival of his bedtime like a little kid on Christmas morning, but that was being quelled by the other part of me that felt entitled to a few minutes free from repetitive directives and refereeing.

Most adults would naturally round the time up, call it eight o’clock, and usher the child to bed.  But I had learned from previous attempts that rushing bedtime was futile because a six year-old relishes those five small minutes prior to bedtime as though each moment holds the potential for something magical to happen, and Aidan wasn’t about to miss a trick.

I curse the day he learned how to tell time.  Looking back, I can remember being so proud that he had grasped onto the concept of time so effortlessly.  After showing him just a few examples on a toy clock, he was able to move the hands to indicate any time I requested.  Well, as the old proverb states, pride goeth before the fall.  And tonight, I was either going to fall into bed, or into a bottle of wine, whichever came first.

At eight o’clock (on the dot) I walked Aidan upstairs to his room.  As I peeled back his covers, I could feel the call of sleep.  I was exhausted.

“Mommy, you know what?”  Aidan asked as he climbed into bed.

“No, what?”  I asked half-heartedly because I couldn’t voice what was really going through my mind – I don’t care.  Go to sleep.   (Mean, but true).

“My friend Sam told me something at school today.”

I was getting the sneaking suspicion that Aidan was attempting to stall bedtime.  Well, nothing doing kiddo, it’s 8:02, and you’re on my time now.  “Oh yeah?”  I asked, but again, didn’t really care about the answer.

“Yeah.  He told me that there are different names for…. down there.”  He whispered conspiratorially and pointed at his crotch.

Immediately, I pictured a scene from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Kindergarten Cop.  In the movie, Arnold is an undercover cop posing as a kindergarten teacher.  When he walks into the classroom for the first time, he gets a small taste of just how difficult five year-olds can be to interrogate.  During his questioning, a little boy stands up and randomly informs the class that boys have a penis, and girls have a vagina.  In case you never felt compelled to watch an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie (can’t say I blame you), here’s a clip of the scene – skip to the 1:00 mark if you don’t want to see the intro….

Kindergarten Cop Clip

Every kid makes the distinction between the sexes eventually, and it looked like it was Aidan’s turn.  I didn’t want to steal his thunder and clue him into the fact that I had been in on that particular bit of information for quite some time, so I played dumb.

“Really?”  I asked, and wondered if he was going to shyly stumble over the words penis and vagina, or just blurt them out the way the little boy had in the movie.

“Yeah, like nuts and balls….” He said matter-of-factly.

So much for making the distinction between the sexes.

I don’t know if Aidan had any other revelations to share, because I was laughing too hard to ask.  The next two minutes were lost in an absolute helpless fit of laughter.  The kind of laughter when tears roll down your cheeks and you bounce back and forth between loud bursts of sound, and silence because you can’t gather enough breath in your lungs to make noise.  Aidan soon joined in, and was laughing along with me (or maybe it was at me), which only made me laugh harder.  The couple of times I managed to get a hold of myself for a second or two, Aidan would let out a giggle, and it would send me back into hysterics all over again.

I’m not sure why hearing my six year-old say “nuts and balls” struck me as so funny.  Perhaps because the words came so far out of left field, and looked so utterly wrong coming out of his sweet little face.  It was an incongruity, like those pictures you see of infants inadvertently sticking up their middle finger.

But I really shouldn’t have been surprised.  Aidan has always had the ability to make me laugh, even when I think I’m physically incapable of doing so.   His sense of humor is like an innate survival mechanism that’s triggered whenever he senses that the people responsible for his well-being are nearing the end of their rope.  It’s a gift that will serve him well if he ever chooses to marry someday.  I think if more men had it, the divorce rate would plummet.

As I closed the door of Aidan’s bedroom, I was still chuckling to myself.  I quickly went downstairs and reiterated the story to my husband, Kevin.  After he finished laughing, he asked me if I had told Aidan not to use those words to describe his anatomy.  Oops.  I guess the sophomoric idiot in my head was laughing too hard to allow the responsible parent time to speak up.

Looking back, I probably should have gently reprimanded Aidan so as to avoid any future embarrassments.  And also to clue him into the fact that little boys who still watch Spongebob Squarepants should not use language found in Jackass The Movie.  But sometimes there are more important things than life lessons – laughter is one of them.  The lesson will come later if he ever tries to use those words in front of his grandparents.

Spot the Creepy

My husband gently rouses me from sleep – although at 3:30 in the morning, no rousing is gentle.  At this hour,  even the birds look at you like you’re nuts for being awake.  Our bedroom is still black as pitch, and there isn’t a sound to be heard, aside from my own early morning expletives and complaints of inhumane wake-up calls.  My husband, probably anticipating my foul mood, has a mug of hot tea at the ready.  Smart guy…. I knew there was a reason I married him.

I have always been a night owl.  I sleepwalk through most mornings, functioning just enough to get my kids ready for school, and not crash my car into a tree getting them there.  Many morning people have tried to convert me, all with no success.  Here’s how the conversation usually goes between me and a typical early bird:

Annoying morning person:  I love early morning!  The entire neighborhood is still asleep and the only sound you hear is the birds singing.  It’s so peaceful!  *Sigh*

Me:  You know another time of day when the neighborhood is peaceful?  Eleven o’clock at night.  And what’s so great about birds?  All they do is crap on my car and repeat the same two notes over, and over again.  You call that singing?  If Beyonce did that, she’d be out of a job.

Annoying morning person:  But what about sunrises?   Sunrises are SOOOO beautiful!!

Me:  Yeah, I know.  I see them all the time in the cheesy chick flicks I watch at night.  *Exaggerated sigh*

Annoying morning person:  (With growing agitation) You don’t know what you’re missing out on.

Me: Well I know what I’m not missing out on – three extra hours of sleep.

That’s usually where the conversation ends.

But on this particular morning, I’ve got to set aside my natural night owl tendencies and rise with the damn birds.  We are on our way down to South Carolina to visit my in-laws – a twelve hour drive we try to make twice a year.

I chug my mug of tea in the hopes that the surge of caffeine will prevent me from crawling back underneath the covers.  But the caffeine barely makes a dent in my feeling of exhaustion, and the heated liquid is having an unexpected soporific effect on me, like I just drank warm milk.  My husband’s urging to get my butt in gear is ultimately what gets me moving – he wants to get on the road before rush hour traffic has the chance to clog up our only means of escape off Long Island.

I go into the bathroom and attempt to put in my contacts, but my eyes practically recoil to the back of my skull.  So, I decide to put it off until we are ready to leave the house (apparently my eyes need even more time to wake up than the rest of me).  Instead, I get dressed and pack the few remaining items that didn’t make it into the car the night before.

Around four o’clock, I wake up both my kids with kisses and apologies, and I promise them that they only need to stay awake long enough to go to the bathroom and crawl into the car.  Within an hour or so, we are all packed into the car, in various stages of alertness.  My seven-year old son, Aidan, the only natural morning person in the family, doesn’t seem to be too effected by the loss of sleep.  He is peering out the car windows, observing the world around him that is still cloaked in darkness.

We stop off at 7-11 for my second cup of tea.  Despite the fact that this will make me have to stop for a pee break much sooner than my husband would like, I don’t see how it can be helped because without more tea, I’ll be comatose before we reach New Jersey.  As I fill up the biggest paper cup I can get my hands on, I notice that I’m surrounded by a bunch of burly guys –  blue collar men that have more callouses on their hands than fingers.  I suddenly feel pathetically girlie making tea alongside these guys as they fill their thermoses with coffee.

Our second stop is a gas station so we can fill the tank before beginning our 750 mile trek down south.  I’m surprised to see the gas station buzzing with customers – I had no idea so many people were conscious at this ungodly hour of the morning.  Again I notice the abundance of scruffy, blue collar workers that surround us, all clad in their stained sweatshirts, jeans, and construction boots.  Most of the guys look as though a shower and shave isn’t a part of their morning routine.

As my husband pumps the gas, Aidan blurts out, “Mommy, why does everyone look so CREEPY?”

A surprised laugh escapes my mouth, and I realize he’s been people watching too.  I look over at the guy pumping gas next to us, the one  I’m guessing prompted Aidan’s non-politically correct question – he looks like Santa Claus’s much less jolly alter ego.  I start to pay closer attention to all the other patrons, and I suddenly I feel like I’ve slipped into the pages of a Stephen King novel.  Aidan’s right – these guys are creepy.

Most of them looked like this guy.... only creepier.

Part of me felt bad for poking fun at hard-working guys who have to rise with the sun, and bust their ass all day to earn a living.  But the other part of me, (the part that could never run for political office), finds it funny when someone has the guts to say out loud what everyone else is thinking.  And when you catch me off guard the way Aidan did, I can do little to mask my amusement.

I already told you I barely function before noon – did you really expect me to be a good parent at five o’clock in the morning??  But don’t worry, I made a mental note to give the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ speech later on… once we stopped laughing.

By the time my husband, Kevin, got back in the car, my daughter (Meghan), Aidan, and I were still giggling.  Just so Kevin didn’t think we had slipped into some sort of exhaustion-fueled delirium, we filled him in on the details of Aidan’s new game –  officially named spot the creepy.

As we got back on the road, Aidan continued pointing out the window at the creepy looking drivers around us and exclaiming, “There’s another one!  Mommy, look at THAT guy!”, which was often met by another round of giggles from everyone in the car.

But along with the sunrise (which I have to say, was entirely overrated) came an infusion of clean-shaven guys in neck ties and smartly dressed women with up-dos, making the population appear decidedly less creepy.  It seemed our game was at an end…. at least until our return trip back home.