You Can’t Have It All…Enjoli Lied

Hard to believe, but this is not how I spend my days as a stay-at-home mom with nothing but free time. 😉

The other day a friend and fellow “stay-at-home mom” had a moment of frustration and ranted a bit on her Facebook status. Her post listed all the things she does on a daily basis and then noted that someone close to her remarked that she doesn’t really do anything. I read her post and felt complete empathy. Many of my blogs have been tyrades about how frustrating and thankless the job of Mom can be.

Then, today, I came across a Facebook post from a working mom friend of mine. She’s currently in-between jobs for a short period of time, so she was at the park listening to the birds, sipping a latte while her house was being cleaned, and thinking that she would like to be a “house frau,” presumably so she could enjoy more moments like that one. Now, I know my friend meant no disrespect to stay-at-home moms. As long as I’ve known her (over sixteen years), she has worked outside the home full-time while raising two children. I know how long and difficult her days are, and I know how devoted she is and always has been to her children. I can understand how she would be enjoying a brief reprieve between career positions today and thinking that it would be nice not to have to work at all.

Still, I had to reply to her post to remind her that, as a certified “house frau,” I can attest that I can’t afford someone to clean my house because that’s what I agreed to do when I gave up my income to stay home with my boys. I told her that I have to clean my own house, which (let’s face it) sucks and cuts into my time to sit, worry-free, in the park in the morning sipping my latte. There have been many times when I’ve looked at Barb’s career, her housecleaning service, her professional wardrobe, and her European vacations, and felt something akin to a twinge (or perhaps a seizure-full) of jealousy. I know, though, that her life, while seemingly more glamorous than mine, is a lot of frigging work too.

I’m in something of a transitional period in my life right now. While still technically an unemployed, stay-at-home mom, I’ve made the decision to work on my writing. Between this blog and my book, I’ve been spending between 4-6 hours a day writing, researching, and trying to grow my platform. While this has been a boon for my sense of self and my creative mind, I’ve found myself becoming overwhelmed, cranky, and increasingly depressed. Why? Because I’ve discovered that I can’t do it all. I can’t keep a clean house, cook for my family, run the errands, be homework coach and chauffeur, wash and iron clothes, and develop my writing into something that might perhaps segue into a paying career.

Remember that commercial for Enjoli perfume? That stupid commercial vexes me. Ever since I was 12, I was sold the idea that a woman should be able to do it all without struggle. I should absolutely be able to have a career, cook for my family, keep a clean house, care for my children, and have the energy to seduce my husband nightly, right? I’d like to bitch slap the men who came up with that ad. Oh, come on. It had to be men who envisioned the Enjoli woman. That ad is a fantasy. There isn’t a woman in her right mind who would tell you that at the end of a long day, during which she had spent at least eight hours in an office, then cooked dinner, cared for her children and put them to bed, what she really thought about was making her husband feel like a man. More than likely, what she actually thought about was a glass of wine, a locked door, a long and solitary soak in a tub, followed by a collapse into a bed where her husband would let her get some sleep.

The other night I had a Come-To-Jesus meeting with my husband and our sons. I told them that as much as I would love to be able to continue writing, I cannot do it if I do not get some assistance from them. Because our financial situation has not changed, I can’t afford a housecleaning service. I need them to pitch in if I want to be able to devote myself to writing. This was not an easy conversation for me because, the entire time I was asking for help, I was feeling I had failed my inner-Enjoli woman. What I was really doing, however, was not admitting defeat but instead recognizing that I had been trying to do the impossible and be the unattainable.

No one can do it all or have it all. We all sacrifice. The grass isn’t greener anywhere else. It’s not easier one way or the other. We make choices and then we live with them. On a good day, I get to yoga, manage to knock a couple things off my to-do list, and find time for a shower. On a good day, my working friends knock something off their to-do-lists, maybe get a kudo from their boss, and perhaps get to enjoy an uninterrupted lunch for an hour. But, most of the time, we all just settle for the best we can get, which is most certainly nowhere near having it all.

File It Under “Typical”

The license in question…and, yes..the info on it is correct. Well, all of it except the vision restriction.

I spend most of my life in a perpetual eye roll. It’s probably not the best look for me, yet the habit persists. I used to be able to control it, or at least curb it during inappropriate situations, but now it’s second nature much like breathing or sucking my stomach in when I get out of a swimming pool. Just a bit ago, I found myself in an eye roll that was likely visible from space. The magnitude of my annoyance was so great that astronauts aboard the International Space Station could have seen the whites of my eyes if they had been looking.

Last Friday morning, I decided that my exercise du jour would be an inline skate. It was cool when I left the house, so I donned a light jacket with a pocket. When I got to the parking lot near the path, I loaded the jacket pocket with all the usual necessities….chapstick, my ever-present iPhone, my Nano (which has all my best music on it because I save the memory on my iPhone for apps), and my driver’s license because you never know when you’re going to be exercising alone, become the victim of some completely bizarre tragedy, and need to have your body identified. I skated a bit longer than usual, so halfway through my skate the temperatures had climbed and I didn’t need the jacket anymore. I wrapped it around my waist to transport it back to the car. When I got back to the car, I had just one thing on my mind. A venti Cool Lime Refresher from Starbucks. So, I peeled off my skates, slipped back into my flip-flops, and headed off to Starbucks in mental turmoil about whether I’d use my expired gold star card or not.

On Friday night, I was digging through my wallet looking for something and realized my driver’s license wasn’t there. I remembered I had taken it out for my skate, so I checked the back pocket of the jacket. The license wasn’t there. Curious. I then thought I remembered putting it in my purse (and not in my wallet where it belonged), so I began rifling through my bag. Not there either. I searched my car, the garage, the kitchen counter. I mentally retraced my steps. I scoured both the purse and the wallet again. It appeared to be gone. I told myself that I would give it the weekend to turn up and then call it quits and face the dreaded line at the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles.

Well, the dang thing did not miraculously hop back into my wallet over the weekend, so this morning it was time to face the executioner. Armed with my passport, a current credit card bill, and our checkbook, I prepared myself for the misery that is Driver’s License Hell. Amazingly, there were only 6 people ahead of me when I arrived. When I was able to approach my surly clerk (from what I could tell while I waited, there were 4 surly clerks and 1 pleasant one), I handed over my identification, took the vision test which I passed with flying colors sans corrective lenses courtesy of LASIK 6 years ago, and shelled out $21 for a replacement license. When I was finished, the clerk informed me that my license “should arrive via mail in 30 days.” This comment induced another epic eye roll. I have to wait 30 days to discover what hideous portrait the camera dude was able to come up with? Sigh. I took my temporary license (a flimsy 8″ x 4″ piece of paper) and went home annoyed at myself for losing the real thing. The photo on the license I lost was taken in 1999 when I was 31 years old. I liked that license because I looked, oh, about 13 years younger in it.

Well, I’m sure you know where this is going. This afternoon I got the mail. I opened an envelope addressed to me and guess what I found there. Yep. My original license, the one I lost, the one that wasn’t due for replacement for another two years. (This is when the eye roll visible from space occurred.) Some kind soul had found it along the path where it had fallen from my pocket and mailed it back to me. Typical. What does today’s experience teach me? It teaches me not to be so timely when I replace lost items. It also teaches me that the next time I skate I leave my license in my car. If some horrific tragedy befalls me while I’m skating, let the coroner ID my body. That’s his job anyway.

Nudists Let It All Hang Out…Naturally

The billboard that caught Steve’s attention

We had some errands to run in Boulder today. Actually, what we had to do was deliver some postcards we picked up in Post Office Bay in the Galapagos Islands. On the way out of town along Highway 93 Steve spied a billboard. I saw him do a double take.

“Did you see that?” he asked.

“See what?”

“That billboard back there for the Family Nudist Resort,” he said.

“Wha?” I asked in my best Despicable Me minion voice. “You’re joking, right?”

I was skeptical about his eyesight, but that sounded too good to pass up. I had to investigate, so I grabbed my iPhone from my bag. Sure enough. Google led me right to Mountain Air Ranch, Colorado’s Family Nudist Resort, part of the American Association for Nude Recreation. It was twice voted America’s friendliest nudist resort.

“Holy cow,” I said as I perused the site. “They aren’t kidding. It’s a full-fledged nudist resort in the foothills. Located on 150 acres with 10 miles of hiking trails. Can you imagine hiking naked? Wouldn’t you be worried about getting scratched up by plants? Oh, man. If you slipped coming down a steep hill, imagine what that fall could do to your unprotected nether regions.”

By this time, our kids were starting to pick up on the conversation.

“Hiking naked? What are you guys talking about?” Joe asked.

“Well, there’s a resort not far from here where people don’t wear any clothes. For the entire time they’re there, they walk around naked. People who do that on a regular basis are called nudists,” I explained.

“They don’t wear any clothes?” Luke questioned.

“Nope. No clothes. Shoes maybe, but no clothes.”

“Why would you DO that?” Luke asked.

“I suppose for the feeling of being free. You know, when you think about it, nudists probably are a lot more comfortable in their own skin than the rest of us,” I said.

“That’s because their own skin is all they’ve got,” Steve quipped.

“I don’t know,” I said, trying to keep an open mind. “There are probably a lot worse things a kid can grow up to be than a nudist. Don’t you remember how much the boys used to love to run in the sprinkler in the backyard totally naked? There was a natural joy in that.”

“They were 2 and 4,” Steve said. “They were carefree before they got undressed.”

I shrugged my shoulders and kept looking at the site. It was hard to see on my tiny iPhone screen, but people appeared to be unencumbered by clothing. They looked completely at ease. I’ll be honest. I’ve always kind of wondered about trying out the nudist experience sometime. Maybe just for a day on a beach or something, but it has crossed my mind. Not all that seriously, obviously, since I’ve never done more than skinny dip on a moonless night…once…when I was in college and when I’d had too much to drink. Steve glanced over at my phone.

“There are photos?” he said incredulously.

“Yep.”

“Let me see,” said Joe.

“Nuh-uh,” I told him.

“Hey…this resort is up Deer Creek Canyon,” I told Steve. Deer Creek Canyon is minutes from our home. “It’s close. We could always try it,” I suggested.

“If we went,” Joe asked, “would everyone be naked?”

“Yep. And you would have to be too,” I told him.

“There’s NO way,” said Luke.

“I’m not going either,” Steve said. “If you ask me, there would be just way too much ugly naked going on at a place like that.”

He may have a point there. I’m not entirely sure I want to see nude men playing bocce ball or women engaging in a lively game of nude shuffleboard. That might be a bit more than I’m brave enough to handle. Oddly enough, the idea of being naked myself while doing these things troubles me less than the idea of watching other nude people going about their daily lives. I’d never know where to rest my eyes. I have a feeling I’d be walking into branches and tripping over rocks while simply trying to avoid gawking at anyone’s parts.

Then again, maybe that’s why I need to go. Maybe my growing edge lies in wholeheartedly recognizing that a person’s body is not the person. Aren’t our bodies like suitcases for our souls? I’m sure I know this in my heart, but that doesn’t stop me from judging people by the clothes on their backs. Nudity is honest. It takes courage to expose yourself to the world and to know that the essence of your being isn’t diminished by sagging flesh or incongruent parts. To their credit, nudists naturally let it all hang out. There’s a beautiful peace and simplicity in that. I’m not quite brave enough for the whole nudist experience yet. (Rest assured that no clothes were shed for the writing of this post.) But, someday, I’m going to have to try it. The nudist resort, I mean, not writing naked. I expose myself enough with my writing as it is.

Growing A Spine ~ One Vertebrae At A Time

The drink that nearly caused me a stroke.

Yesterday I wrote about a big risk I’ve decided to take. But, as I was thinking this morning about the steps to becoming a braver, better me, I was confronted by the stark reality that it is honestly easier for me to take a big or foolish risk than it is for me to take a small and relatively painless one. Allow me to elucidate. This morning, I went for an inline skate. After about 9 miles on my wheels, I was hot, tired, and in need of a pick-me-up. I decided a trip to Starbucks was in order. I got back into my car and began rifling through my wallet to see how much cash I had. That’s when I saw it. A gold star card for a free drink. I looked into my crystal ball and spied a Venti Cool Lime Refresher in my immediate future. Come to mama, you green coffee goodness. Then, I flipped the card over. It expired on May 15th. Dammit.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right for thinking it. You’re thinking So what? Ask if you can use it anyway. Right? But, I am a rule follower, and I’m averse to small and completely harmless risks. Need someone to stand on a broken swivel chair on a concrete floor to retrieve a crate of broken glass on a high shelf? That I would do for you without a second thought because I’m not a worrier. I stand on swivel chairs all the time. (Sorry, Officer Buckle.) But, ask the clerk at Chipotle if they’d be willing to donate to the school’s annual silent auction? I’d get the cold sweats before breaking out in hives. Merely to attempt something like that I would need to consume several shots of high-quality vodka, and I’m not sure that’s the right way for a mom to go about asking for donations for a Christian academy’s silent auction.

I attribute this paralyzing fear of small risks to my parents who taught me not to be a bother. I can’t tell you how many times while growing up I was informed that “Children should be seen and not heard.” I was a good kid. I listened to them. I never questioned authority. I never broke a rule. I didn’t even ditch on Senior Ditch Day. You know that squeaky wheel? I was not it. I’m still that way, although I wish I wasn’t.

I sat staring at the card in my hand. Over three months expired. Not a day or two but THREE long months. I found a $10 bill in my wallet and an unused Starbucks gift card. I didn’t need to risk the humiliation of having a clerk tell me they couldn’t accept my free drink coupon. I would just pay for it. End of story. I started my car and put it in drive. Then I thought about Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: “Do the thing you think you cannot do.” I’d never asked anyone before if I could use an expired coupon. It seemed so brazen. Could I do it? The internal struggle between my rule-following brain and my wanna-be brave soul reached a deafening crescendo in my head.

Finally, I decided. I would not let Eleanor down. I needed to look my fear, sad and stupid as it might seem, in the face. I went to Starbucks, ordered my drink, and handed the gal my expired coupon. I’d thought about going into a long explanation about how I’d just found it buried under a pile of papers in my house and could I please use it even thought it was expired, but decided instead just to hand it to her as if it were no big deal. Sure enough. It was no big deal. She handed me my drink, told me to have a nice day, and I pulled away from the drive-thru window feeling like Bonnie minus Clyde. I know that you must think I am certifiable. You have a fair case. Just remember that everyone has their demons to face. Mine are small and silly, and I think I prefer them that way.

Zen And The Art Of Arm Flaps

The point when I stopped to ponder my arm flapping.

So, after six solid weeks of not doing any sort of regular physical exercise, the kids went back to school and my workout time miraculously returned. Woohoo, right? Yeah, yeah, sure, sure. Yesterday as I was climbing stairs at Red Rocks (very slowly while sucking a lot of thin air and talking way too animatedly with my friend Heather), I noticed a little something disturbing happening with my arms. The back sides of them, where my triceps used to be and presumably still reside, were flapping. Flapping. They were swaying in harmony with the motion of my arms. Ew. Ew. Ew. I knew this would happen someday. I mean, this sort of thing happens to all women of a certain age, right? I chose to ignore it and not mention it to my friend because she is younger than I am and she doesn’t need to be burdened with this type of miserable yet inevitable discovery. When she is my age and starts to notice this same troublesome phenomenon, I will nod my head knowingly. I kept climbing the stairs and pushed the odd sensation at the back of my arms into a quiet spot deep in the recesses of my busy brain. I forgot all about it. Until today.

For today’s workout, I decided to hop on my mountain bike and do the 6-mile singletrack loop on the open space behind our house. It all started out fine. As I climbed steadily toward the top of the ride, my attention was fixed on my legs, still sore from the stupid stairs at Red Rocks yesterday. I started my descent. That’s when I noticed It was back. Careening down the hill, bouncing over rocks, the back of my arms flapped wildly like the wings of a chicken that is trying to escape from a mouthy red fox. Holy crap. Luckily, I have small arms so the arm flapping was not large enough in scale to knock me unconscious. Still, the depressing fact remained. What I felt yesterday was not an anomaly. My body is betraying me. Dammit! I thought about rushing home and pulling out my free weights to torture my triceps into submission. But, that would require so much work.

So, rather than trying to ameliorate the situation, I did the next best thing. I looked for the silver lining in my cloud. There must be one, right? One that would allow me to skip hours of free weights and kettle bell exercises. I scanned my brain for signs of my zen. Then it came to me….a way to make peace with my fluttering arm flaps. You see, this isn’t a sign of a breakdown of strength. It’s an indication of a loosening of spirit. I’m becoming less uptight. Yeah. That’s it. That’s the ticket. It’s not that I’m becoming soft, per se. I’m simply a bit more relaxed. I’m not falling apart. I’m yielding. I can live with that. My slackening skin, while a bit disconcerting and unattractive, is merely an outward manifestation of inward move toward zen. I’m grateful that I’m healthy enough, sagging flesh be damned, to climb stairs and ride a mountain bike. Those are the things on which I should focus. After all, what’s a little flapping skin among friends? I’m at peace with my wiggling and jiggling but otherwise healthy body. End of story.

By the way, I may or may not also have a bridge to sell you…if you’re interested.

Get The Rubber Room Ready For Me!

You’re never too old for the carousel.

I’ve lost my mind. It’s official. Prepare the rubber room. Put some extra fabric softener in when you wash my straightjacket. I’m ready to be institutionalized. It finally happened. Traditionally, the day before school starts has been the one day of the year I was guaranteed to be in a good mood. But, today, I was mopey. We went to the zoo to check our last to-do off our summer to-do list. I was depressed the entire time. Even the elephants couldn’t cheer me up, and they are my favorite zoo animal. That’s when I knew things were bad. Then it hit me. I’m actually sad that the summer is over and that the little buggers (who, incidentally, have been driving me crazy for the past two weeks with their non-stop bickering) are leaving me. Sniff.

No more sleeping in. No more schedule-less days. No more field trips. No more late nights. No more days at the pool. I’m back to volunteering, making lunches, chauffeuring, and early mornings. And, while all that is fine and good and part of my career as Mom, right now I’m sad because I am going to miss my little monkeys. The house is going to seem quiet. I’m not going to have anyone nearby with whom to share my flippant remarks, which means I’m going to be talking to myself a lot again. I never thought I’d see the day when the thought of a tranquil, silent house would vex my introverted soul. A mere couple weeks ago I was dancing in the back-to-school aisle at Target. Yet, today I’m mourning the end of summer and the loss of precious time with my awesome sons. I’m not sure what’s happening to me. Curiouser and curiouser.

I suppose that if there’s a silver lining here, it’s that the years as they’ve been growing older have been flying by at an ever increasing speed. That means that next summer should be here before I know it. Funny how time and the speed at which she travels is both a blessing and a curse.

I Just Discovered The Job I Was Meant To Do…Airport Security

If you can’t travel for a living, then work where you can torture those who do.

So, all this recent air travel (I’m writing this from a hotel room right now) has prompted me to make an important and potentially life-changing discovery. I have uncovered the job I was meant to do in this life. For most of my adult life, I felt that my introverted orientation would best suit me for a career as a writer or researcher, solitary jobs where I could work with limited human contact. I once even entered library school to pursue a master’s degree in library and information science because libraries, above all else, are quiet places…peaceful places where no one is allowed to yell or run around or disturb anyone else. You see, I don’t generally care for human interaction. It exhausts me and, unfortunately, most jobs require you to interact with other people. Finding a job where you rarely have to deal with people at all is difficult because most of those jobs are already being done by other introverts who got there first. Sigh.

Well, I’ve spent a lot of time in the airport recently and what I’ve realized is that I was meant to be a TSA employee. Yes. I know. Airport TSA agents encounter oodles of people each and every day. But, you know what? They don’t have to be nice to them. Most TSA agents are sarcastic, bossy, and standoffish. You know what? So am I! You know what else? The government pays them to be that way every single day on the job. Have you spent any time watching an airport TSA agent? They have complete and utter disdain for humanity. Why shouldn’t they? Have you met people? Most people are confused. They don’t read signs. They can’t follow directions. They’re completely bewildered in the airport. They’re unwilling and unable to adapt. Even now, nearly 11 years into a post 9/11 world, people still don’t know how to get through this enhanced airport security. They remain unhinged.

Oh. They mean well. They try. But, TSA agents shout so many instructions and there are always newfangled scanning machines and it’s all so darn confusing to the average person who only occasionally travels. The problem is that there are A LOT of those type of travelers in the airports slowing down the screening process and annoying the living crap out of the poor, beleaguered TSA agents. This is why, I believe, they are belligerent. We’re mucking it all up and making it nearly impossible for them to get to their well-earned coffee break.

My mother-in-law who, by all accounts, has traveled a great deal got caught up in the security nightmare last week at the Miami airport as we were going through U.S. screening after returning from Ecuador. They asked her to walk into one of those large millimeter wave scanners where you stand with your feet spread wide and place your hands above your head like you’re being robbed while the machine’s arm scans you down to your birthday suit. Apparently, Marlene did it wrong because the TSA agent yelled at her as she exited the scanner.

“Do you have something in your pockets?” the hefty and thoroughly frustrated agent bellowed.

“Just some Kleenex,” my mother-in-law replied quietly.

“You are supposed to empty your pockets,” the agent reprimanded. Then, in a shrill voice she yelled right over the top of my mother-in-law’s 5′ tall head. “RECALIBRATE!”

This forced another TSA employee to roll their eyes, get up from their stool, and reset the machine that my mother-in-law had obviously disturbed. Now, most of us would not think twice to leave a piece of paper in our pockets because with the traditional metal detectors we’ve been used to for years, a mere piece of paper would not be an issue. “Empty your pockets” used to mean take the metal out of them. Now, it means take everything out…hence, the need for flippant comments when explaining in excruciating and obnoxious detail what the term “empty” means. Having carefully watched this scanning process while waiting in endless lines at the airport, I noted that approximately 1 in every 5 scans may end in a recalibration because someone either touched something or left something in their pockets. That’s a fairly high percentage of people messing with the process and, consequently, a fairly lucrative opportunity for overt sarcasm and disdain for humanity. Where else could I get paid to show how much people annoy me?

So, you see, I might have found a better alternative career for myself. I’d thought about writing some sort of book or something, but a job with the TSA might be more therapeutic and beneficial. I could take out my endless frustrations with clueless humans in a public setting. Then, when I was depressed by the sheer number of perplexed and befuddled individuals wandering through this great nation, I could retire from the TSA and write a book about my experiences. Seems as if I’ve finally found both my calling and my book opportunity. Hallelujah!

Sometimes A Little Gas Is A Good Thing

Yep. That’s a nitrous perma-grin all right.

The weirdest thing happened yesterday. I went to the dentist with my boys, and I didn’t leave the office crying, yelling, or crusted in vomit. This is a miraculous first. When my boys were very young, I feared they might have difficulty at the dentist, Joe because of his heightened level of fears and Luke because of his obnoxiously enhanced gag reflex. So, they had their first dental visits when they were 2 1/2. I figured better to start them young with innocent visits to prepare them for teeth cleanings, x-rays, fillings, and extractions later in their youth.

It turns out that my best intentions were for naught. Oh. It was all fine and cute when all they were doing in the office was getting their teeth “counted”. But, once the real cleanings and flossings began, the deepest chasm of hell opened. Joe, with his then undiagnosed ADHD, could not sit still. He would flip around in the chair, pull his legs into his chest, and knock the tools out of the hygienist’s hands. Luke could sit still, but when the implements came out he would gag before they even touched his mouth. On more than one occasion, he threw up on the hygienist and me. They even assigned him a specific hygienist, presumably the one with the greatest patience and tolerance for vomit but probably the one who drew the shortest straw. Luke has seen Kristy for every single visit since he was 4. I probably should add her to our Christmas card list and make sure I include a spa gift card.

So, what made yesterday’s visit different? For starters, Joe has a much better handle on his ADHD and after having suffered through three extractions and a year and a half of braces already he’s become a much improved dental patient. And, Luke? Well….they finally had exhausted all their other options with him, so they decided to bring out the big guns. They asked me if it was okay to try him on nitrous oxide for his appointment. Considering that I had researched acupuncture and therapy (for him and possibly for me, as well) to help with these appointments, I was ready to try anything. Desperate, I acquiesced. Just thirty seconds into a little breathing of a bubble-gum scented gas, Luke was visibly relaxed. In fact, he was so relaxed I was wondering if he had fallen asleep. His usual nervous twitching was gone.

“Luke…are you all right?” I asked.

“Uh huh,” he responded after a little pause.

“Do you feel relaxed?”

“Uh huh,” he responded again with his lips in a permanent grin. Then, he hit me with this. “Mom, can we get one of these machines at home?”

Wow. Okay. So I guess we now know what kind of an addictive personality Luke has. Between his competitive nature and his apparent fondness for substance-induced altered states of consciousness, I was afforded a momentary glimpse into what college might be like for him. Beer Pong Championship here we come.

“Luke…if these machines were commercially available, we would already own one and I’d be hooked up every single afternoon,” I replied.

He didn’t respond. He just continued to grin.

Is it right to drug my child at the dentist? I’m positive there are those who would emphatically tell me no. Then, I would tell them to take a flying leap because until you’ve parented a kid like my Luke, you have no clue. Yesterday, on his fourteenth dental visit, Luke finally had his first real cleaning, flossing, and fluoride treatment. Kristy was also able to use the ultrasonic tartar cleaning tool on him simply by telling him that some squeaky little mice were going to clean his teeth. Seriously? Then, the most amazing thing happened. The orthodontist was able to take photos of his teeth, inserting a huge metal spatula in his mouth to capture both the front and the back of his teeth simultaneously on film. I almost fell over. I don’t care what anyone says. That nitrous oxide yesterday was worth the $40 out-of-pocket expense, and I most definitely would drug my kid for a dental appointment again. Sometimes a little gas can be a good thing.

 

 

Our Kids Are Just Kids

My boys decked out for battle this morning

Yesterday was our sons’ annual well check at the pediatrician’s office. I never know exactly what to expect at these check ups because my kids are loose canons. When the doctor asks them questions, I’m never sure how they’ll respond. When Joe was five, he told the doctor that I fed him only bread and water and that he had no bed time. While the no bed time comment was true because he would never follow an actual schedule, I was in fact feeding him decent foods on a regular basis. Luckily for me, pediatricians are used to all sorts of weird answers from children, so the doctor lets my boys’ weirdness slide. I’m sure he goes home at the end of our visit, however, and tells his wife the crazy things I say immediately after my children make some random declaration of child abuse: “I do feed him. I swear I do. Bread and water are his favorite foods.”

Now that the boys are school age, the questions are a bit different. The doctor yesterday asked them what grades they were going into, what school they attended, and how they were doing in their studies. He then asked them the question I dread the most.

“So, what sports do you guys do?”

“Ummm…we don’t do any sports,” Joe replied.

“I don’t like sports,” was Luke’s immediate response.

“Well, what do you do when you’re outside then?” the doctor tried again.

“Nothing,” Joe said.

“Play with friends,” Luke said.

“I think he means what kind of exercise do you do,” I prompted.

“We don’t like exercise,” Joe replied.

“But, they do get exercise,” I back pedaled. “They hike, ride bikes, and swim in the summer. We snowshoe and hike in the winter.”

“What do you boys want to be when you grow up?” he tried again.

“I’m not telling you,” said Luke, too embarrassed to reveal that his dream is to be an Ironman-like superhero who designs sets for the Lego company.

“I don’t know,” Joe answered honestly.

“That’s okay,” the doctor told him. “Lots of grown ups don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.”

True enough. The doctor breezed through the rest of the well check, clearly unconcerned about Luke’s refusal to eat vegetables (“He’s gaining weight and his blood tests look good”) and Joe’s split lip (“Throw some Aquaphor on there and give it time”).

While we were on our trip, many of the kids the boys played with asked them about sports. Most of our friends’ sons participate in multiple sports and play in all kinds of leagues. We know soccer players, baseball players, football players, hockey players, and lacrosse players. They have friends who do tae kwon do, swim team, and triathlons. They regularly watch sports on television and have favorite teams. Our boys, on a good day, can maybe tell you the names of the four pro sports teams in Denver. Maybe.

Steve and I were discussing the other day the fact that our kids have shown no interest in activities and sports. We’ve registered them for soccer, baseball, swimming, and sports camps and they’ve whined about having to go. They just can’t bring themselves to care. Honestly, I’m relieved they don’t. Our nights are not hurried to get to and through practices and my weekends aren’t spent sitting on a wet, grassy sideline as it snows on my sons’ games. I don’t miss it.

Prompted by the comments of friends, though, about how our boys need activities to get into college and how by the time they decide they’re interested in sports the other kids will be far better than they are and they will not make the team, I have wondered if we’re doing our sons a great disservice by letting them skip out on sports when they’re young. Then, the other day, hubby said something that made me feel much better about it all.

“You know, they may not be great at sports. But, you know what they are great at? Being kids.”

He’s right. They’re 9 and 11. They have their whole lives to decide what their interests are and what they enjoy. For now, it’s good enough that they like to dress up in crazy costumes and run around carrying plungers and being superheroes. Our boys might be short on discipline, but they’re long on imagination. And, that may serve them just as well if not better in the long run.

I Can Handle Anything Except Blood…And Aliens…And Spiders

Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew.

My boys returned from the Galapagos not just with wonderful memories of a relatively unspoiled corner of earth where sea lions and birds have no fear of humans, not just with cool souvenirs like stuffed blue footed boobies, but also with wretched colds. This is what happens when you’re stuck in close proximity to other germy, nose-picking children on a ship for seven days. No amount of antibacterial gel or housecleaning can ameliorate that situation. C’est la vie. (By the way, this is why I will never take a Disney Cruise. How is it vacation when there are at least a thousand sniffling children belonging to other people there? No. Thank. You.)

In addition to his sore throat, raspy voice, and stuffy nose, today Luke made some new discoveries about what can happen when you’re sick. He got his second nose bleed in two days.

“Mom…my nose is bleeding again,” he called down.

“Okay, Luke. I’ll be up in a second.”

“It’s not stopping,” he whined.

Too much information for me, but I headed upstairs anyway. There he was in their bathroom, blood smeared along his cheek where he had first wiped his nose with the back of his hand before discovering it was blood and not snot. There was blood actively dripping out of his nose and a clot hung there like a dangling, goopy stalactite. He had managed to use several tissues to sop up the dripping blood. Those, of course, were resting on the counter. I’m not great about blood or most other bodily excretions. There’s a reason I didn’t go into nursing. When one of our kids has the stomach flu, I abstain from clean up duty…unless hubby wants to be cleaning up two messes. So, I checked on Luke briefly and then quickly headed back downstairs once I was satisfied that he was not going to bleed to death…at least not at that exact moment. A few minutes later he called down to me again.

“Mom?”

“Yes, Luke?”

“My nose is STILL bleeding,” he informed me.

“It will stop, honey. Just hang in there,” came my from-a-safe-distance reply.

“I learned something about bloody noses too,” he said.

“Yeah, sweetie? What’s that?” I stupidly inquired.

“It’s not a good idea to sneeze when you have one. The blood goes EVERYWHERE!”

Oh holy hell. For a split second it occurred to me that I should head back upstairs for damage control. Then I returned to my senses. I sent Joe in my stead and coached him from my downstairs perch about how best to mitigate the bloody mess in their bathroom. It was kind of like being the 911 operator who guides a soon-to-be-father as to how to deliver his own child in the backseat of the family sedan. Every once in a while, Luke would interject comments such as “This is very unpleasant” and “Our white sink looks pink now.” And, that was how I knew I had made the right decision in staying downstairs. After all, if I had gone up there I might have passed out. You know…the strong know how to handle a tough situation. The smart, however, know to avoid one in the first place.