!@#$%^&*()

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tuna code picture

I came out from putting the littles to bed to find Tuna running out of my room looking guilty. He said he left something for me to solve. Uhhh, anyone? Runes? Gah, my kid is smarter than I am.

Me: “I don’t know this code.  Runes?”

Tuna shakes his head, smacks his forehead, “You don’t know your history, do you?”

Me: “I know quite a bit of history, just not this code.” (little punk)

Tuna: “Ok, here’s another hint: think Free Masons. You need to look it up and learn it.  Then we can leave each other notes.

Wtf?  Because it’s too easy to just write notes in English?  And why/where is he learning codes from the Free Masons?  I mean, I agree that they’re fascinating (in fact, we had a conversation a while ago about them); but seriously? Can’t we just do something relatively normal around here? (Stupid question, duh!)  This kid…

He came back in a while later ( he’s supposed to be in his freaking bed), and asked if I solved it. NO!  No, I haven’t solved it. I had said I’d put it on hold.  I have homework (and now a blegh post) to do.  GO TO BED.

I know I did stuff like this as a kid.  I absolutely love it that he is interested in stuff like this (he is obsessed with history, especially ancient Egypt). I will learn the darn code and write him maybe one reply, and then we can do the cute note thing with actual words. I get it, he doesn’t want Binker reading our notes.  But maybe cursive will do for a while??

I love that kid.  And, wtf?  And, what the hell does pig pen have to do with the Free Masons?

And he’s the one smacking his forehead.

*Apparently there is a code called a pigpen cipher. Apparently other people know this. Apparently I didn’t.

Whatever.

Smug-Faced Bitchy McJudgerton

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You know what I don’t do?  Fold wash cloths.  Or underwear. I don’t care if my 3-year-old goes out to swing in his underwear. I don’t exercise every day.  I don’t feel guilty when I tell Latefordinner that I have to get out of the house ALONE.  I don’t make my boys keep their rooms clean. I don’t keep my room clean. I don’t keep a garden.  I don’t take for granted that Latefordinner supports my need to get out ALONE. I don’t stress if I eat ice cream. I don’t like negativity. I don’t want to keep writing about what I don’t do….

Except for this one thing I didn’t do yesterday–I didn’t do what I swore I’d never do (stay with me), and that’s NOT JUDGE ANOTHER MOM, EVER.

I ran into the drug store yesterday for some things, and was deciding on which gum to get, when I heard a mom two aisles behind me say, “No, we have that at home.  Put it back.”  I heard  a tiny person whining, and then, “I told you to put it back.  I’m going to count to three, and if you don’t put it back you’re getting a spanking.”

Then I heard “Three, two, one.”…….Smack!

And the baby boy cried and cried, and said “Ouchie!  Owww!  That hurts!”   And the mom walked by, baby on hip, sobbing two-year-old in tow.

And you guys, I did the thing.  I did that thing that is so devastating to mothers everywhere:  I looked her in the eye and shook my head at her. And she looked me in the eye and I could read her mind, “you bitch, you don’t know me.”  I could have just minded my business, but I broke my oath to never judge a mother, and I judged. Openly. I’ve been given that look before, but not for hitting my kid.  I get that look when my kid is acting up, and I am not dealing with it the way the glaring woman would. I get that look for what I don’t do.

So, here’s the thing: she spanked her baby boy in a public place.  He was sobbing, and my heart hurt for him.  Why, after all my years as a seasoned mother, and firm believer in non-judginess, did my heart not hurt for her?  Maybe she didn’t know any better.  Maybe she thinks she’s doing the right thing.  Maybe she just doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing and needs to get her damn head on straight before she messes her kid up…uh, I mean…ugh,there’s the judginess.  She didn’t beat him, she smacked his butt.  She didn’t yell at him, she counted to three.  She didn’t look angry…and that’s the thing…why would you be violent if you’re not angry?

First: I don’t believe in hitting children.  It is psychologically damaging; and does nothing to teach, nurture growth, or effectively discipline.

Second:  Even though I don’t believe in hitting children, I have lost my temper and smacked a butt a few times. It very rarely happens, I’m not proud of it, and I have apologized to my children each time.  I have explained that mommy can make mistakes too, etc. Of course we also talked about his behavior, but a child’s behavior is just his way of asking for help.  It’s HARD to remember that sometimes, seriously, like when they’re being complete jerks and you just want to SMACK them.  But you don’t (99.9% of the time). Because you don’t believe in hitting. Because you are the grown up.  Because you want to lead by example. Because hitting hurts.

Third: I have never hit my child because he wouldn’t put something back on a shelf by the count of three. In a public place.  Or in any place. That’s just ridiculous.  Yeah, I’m judging.

BUT, Shaking my head at her probably just made her angry, and hurt, and probably did more to isolate her more than maybe she already is.  Shaking my head disapprovingly probably did nothing to help her. Judging her, even if I do disagree with her actions, does nothing to help.  Maybe she felt sorry, and helpless, and hopeless.  Maybe she needed a hug (even though I just wanted to hug that baby boy). Maybe she is looking for another way. Maybe no one is supporting her.  I wasn’t sure where this would go when I started writing, but now I know: What I don’t do is feel good when I judge.  What I don’t do is help when I judge.  What I don’t do is really know anything when I think I do.  What I don’t do is withhold compassion where it seems to be undeserving.  

Because those who need compassion are the ones who act out.  Because a mother’s behavior may be her way of asking for help. Looking again at her non-angry face, I can now see that she was just as scared as her boy.  She really didn’t know what else to do.

I firmly reaffirm my resolve to support other moms, even if I don’t agree with their actions.  I hated what I saw.  It broke my heart. But, I don’t know her. Who knows her story?

So here’s what I DO do:

I do yell at my kids sometimes.

 I do sometimes yell into the backyard like a redneck so the neighborhood can hear me.

I do follow through with what I say, even if I regret having to do it.  

I do not like it when Binker sticks his tongue out at me and runs away. Wait, that’s a negative.

Ok, um, I do feel helpless as to what to do with him sometimes.  He’s like a honey badger. Seriously.

I do feel helpless when Tuna loses his temper at Binker and tackles him to the floor while screaming in his face about making annoying sounds.  Binker silently provokes, Tuna loses his temper. Tuna gets in trouble. Binker gets reprimanded……and on and on until I sometimes lose my temper and send them to their rooms with no solid discipline or clear idea of how to handle it from there.  

And every mother feels helpless sometimes.  And every mother needs help sometimes. And sometimes that help is silence.  A nod. A smile. A hug. A look of solidarity, even if you know what she should do when she doesn’t have a clue.

What I don’t do is agree with that mother’s choices.  

What I DO do is have compassion for her.  

Because we all make mistakes in the great oneness of motherhood,

and I hope to receive that compassion when I would otherwise be judged by Smug-Faced Bitchy McJudgerton (me yesterday).  

Yep.

Emojis and Blue Phallic Jellyfish

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Yesterday, the girl at the drive through said “hi” to Binker as if he were 2 years old. He’s actually like 18 in his mind, so he just stared at her and said “Hi” back in a monotone voice. She asked what grade he’s in (This is not the typical “here’s your happy meal” interaction, right?), and I said kindergarten. In a singsong voice she said “Oh, I’m a junior in high school! You have to catch up to mee! Hehe, I’m just kidding, bye bye!” Binker and I drove away, and I swear he was also thinking “WHAT was THAT?” I said something like “Well, she was friendly”, but he wasn’t buying it. And ironically, his stuffed emoji in his happy meal was the “Whatever” face. whatever emoji

Later on, a discussion in one of my facebook groups got me thinking about the interactions we have with strangers. Why do we ask “how are you today?”  Is it because we really want to know, or just because it’s polite?  Most of the time it’s “I’m fine, thanks”, and you move on with your business.  Sometimes (too often with me) it’s “nice to meet your problemsImeanyou”.  I must have “tell me all about your kids/divorce/illness/random problem” on my forehead, and our conversation turns into a psychology session.  So, maybe that’s why I am wary of talking to strangers…and sometimes actually looking at them…and sometimes going out into public at all… 

I find that sometimes these random personal conversations do hold some meaning, and it’s a significant exchange.  I live with the belief that there’s meaning in everything. So, I could take away from that interaction a reminder that my Binker is unique, and that we in our family thrive on mindful discussion.  I’m not sure how many five-year-olds would look at that girl as anything other than friendly.  So, I guess we have to acknowledge that these boring, unintelligent, and seemingly meaningless interactions are always there to show us something. (That’s why I made sure to say that the girl was nice.) We just have to consciously remember to think this way, you know, to avoid the slip into existential dread.

Binker is totally allowed to think “whatever” though!  I mean really, she might as well have hovered a squeaky toy above his head.

In honor of mindfulness, and finding the sunny side and all that, I will now show you my mother’s day gift.  It was chosen by Tuna and Binker, and I have given it a place of honor on my sunny back porch.  I did such a good job of  NOT LAUGHING when I opened it! They went to one of my favorite stores, walked all over the store, and chose this phallic blue jellyfish just for me.  I was the best actress!  I do like it, and HAHAHAHAHA it’s a four-tailed chiming glass sperm!!!!!  Look at its sparkling magnificence in the sun! Thanks, boys.  This made my optimistic day.  Happy Mother’s day, and may all of you find the joy and humor in your seemingly meaningless moments.  

blue jellyfish

It’s snot an emergency

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Binker stuck a Lego up his nose (#becauseboys #because5 😐). I freaked and told him not to MOVE and don’t BREATHE  and DON’T DO ANYTHING!  I ran to him with tweezers and a flashlight. I couldn’t see it! Then, Tuna walks up and says “Binker, plug your left nostril and blow hard.” He did, and the lego hand plus wads of snot flew onto my arm and leg.(EW!)
That was some logical thinking from my absent-minded professor, who hardly keeps a cool head! And I’ve always called Binker my steady guy.

I  imagine what Latefordinner and I must have looked like to them, running around like whack jobs, headless chickens looking for tweezers and yelling “somebody hold the light!!  I can’t see it! Bawk Bawk bawk!” This scenario sums up why teenagers think their parents are idiots. “Wtf is wrong with you, parents? It’s a Lego hand. It’s funny. Just pretend it’s snot, Binker.”

I remember looking at my parents and wondering why everything was such an emergency, and now I see the other side. This is another center of the cyclone lesson–relax,  and know that this snot too will pass. I’m super proud of Tuna, a little disturbed by Binker’s choice, and amused at these two headless chickens. Don’t rush to the tweezers, yo. You have the power in you. And if you don’t, your kid does.

Dominoes and Discipline

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old fashioned dominoes

Tuna is in his room with no computer.  Binker is in his room crying with no computer tomorrow.  Squishy is being watched for a head injury (so far so good) and watching Mater’s Tall Tales.

I’m sitting here wondering what the hell just happened.

Let’s see…

First, I kicked them off of their screens and fed them lunch, forewarning them that they would be going outside after lunch. Next, I forced them to go outside on this gorgeous summer day. The sun is shining, it’s not too hot, and there’s a slight breeze.  Perfect! Only Squishy went happily. Tuna tried to go back inside, Binker tried to go back inside, and Squishy…well, he just rode his tricycle. I had to sit in front of the door telling them to “play like regular kids”.  I told the tale of long ago when the cold winds blew and all the children in the land could not go outside; when those poor cold children looked out their windows longing for summer.  The little shits still wanted to go in.

I made suggestions: bounce on your bouncy ball, ride your stinking bikes, play basketball–I’ll play with you!, draw with your stupid chalk, blow some freaking bubbles, just PLAY OUTSIDE AND LIKE IT!

Did they do any of these things?  Of course not!  Tuna and Binker started balancing on the cement ledge that borders a small cliff hill into the neighbor’s side yard.  Then Binker (in an admittedly funny fashion) pointed up and said “Tuna, look up there!” and pushed him off the ledge.  Now, these boys hurl themselves off of this ledge on purpose all the time. Sometimes on bikes, sometimes on scooters, sometimes on foot, sometimes on sleds, but always fast and dangerously.  But Tuna was pissed that Binker pushed him.

Instead of just telling him he didn’t like it, he went after him violently and angrily.  It was like Binker shot Tuna with a water gun and Tuna came back with a freaking bazooka.  He was grabbing him, shoving him, trying to push him off the ledge.  And he did push him.  Neither boy was hurt, but Tuna was way out of line.  Then Binker punched him, and I don’t blame him.  I had to drag Tuna into the house and shove him in his room, and while I was doing that, I heard Squishy start to cry REALLY HARD outside.  Like that no-breathing crying where he cries a second and then doesn’t breathe for like ten minutes because he can’t even cry hard enough.

I raced outside and found Squishy on the ground at the bottom of the cliff ledge thing, and Binker looking very guilty. I really should just wear roller skates all the time.  That way I can get to each emergency faster, and possibly roll over some small toes on purpose. A spy camera and lie detector wouldn’t hurt either. Ooh! and collapsing stairs so I can just roll down and out the door!  So he told me he pushed him.  WTF?  Why?  So picking Squishy up I then dragged Binker to his room and sat down to check out the damage.  The baby landed on his head, and seemed dazed.  I had this terrible scenario flash through my head of resenting Binker for permanently damaging his brother etc, snapped out of it, and made Squishy do all the eye-following things you do for head injuries. He is fine.

So the domino effect is twofold in this scenario.  Even though Binker pushed first, Tuna really did start it by being the grumpy “I don’t want to be outside” example, and then they all fell down.  Poor little Squishy was the last one to fall in the succession.

The other domino effect happens in the discipline.  That first domino has to withstand the most force, and the fact is that Tuna is first and gets the hardest push.  “Why am in trouble, but Binker isn’t?”  “Because you’re the oldest and you know better.  Binker is still learning.  Down you go!” *flick* Of course Binker gets in trouble too, but he gets the 5-year-old version.

Is it fair that Tuna gets the hardest push?  He’s older, he knows better, but he is still learning too.  It’s just that fighting with a 5-year-old makes him act 5.  He has more responsibility because he can understand it, and all that developmental blabbity stuff.  (#becausedevelopmental).   And, Binker has dominoes falling on him on both sides.  He comes out punching and kicking in all directions.  So his lesson is not to take his stuff with Tuna out on Squishy.  Tuna’s lesson is to learn to be the bigger person.  Whew!  This growing up thing is HARD!

I think it is fair.  The birth order thing is tough, because so much is inevitable.  I can’t change their statuses, ever.  I think that right now it’s appropriate to give Tuna the hardest push, but once they’re grown, they’ll all be first in line.

But right now, they’re in their rooms crying and thinking about how unfair life is, with no idea what just happened except that they still want to push each other over the ledge.  Ya know, sometimes when they fight I tell them to fight.  They just stop and stare.

“Fight! Fight with each other.  Go on, fight!”

And then they laugh and play fight and it’s over.  Would that work with cliff-pushing? Hmmm, maybe I’ll try that tactic next time.  With helmets.

Oldness and Irony and Fiber

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I just stayed up til midnight on a weeknight watching “Reality Bites”.  Let’s just call that my midlife crisis and move on.  Okey dokey.  Glad I got that over with.

So tonight I really just wanted to watch HGTV for a while and go to bed, but the kids had freaking Nick Jr. on and that turns into Nick mom at night and those tv people know the channel will still be on when the actual owner of the remote has control again and all the moms who watch it are 30 something and finally sitting down after schlepping kids and/or working all day and a throwback movie like “Reality Bites” is just beginning and they know they’ve GOT you because OMG I remember this movie and it’s been 20 years or some shit and there is some evil hunched millionaire rubbing his hands together saying “it’s genius, just look at all of those 30 somethings not even realizing that they’re having a midlife crisis” and wondering what ever happened to Ethan Hawke and he really is still awkwardly hot in this movie and why the hell doesn’t Winona Ryder EAT and look at little Ben Stiller and I LOVE JANEANE GAROFALO (yes, I had to look up how to spell Janeane Garofalo).

One of the lines in the movie is a woman asking Winona the definition of Irony.  Well, it’s getting pissed off that I stayed up so late for a stupid movie and then writing a blegh entry about it which keeps me up way later.

I have been feeling old lately.  I have new lines in my face that the spring sun is revealing, the girls in my class (I go to school, for those of you who don’t know) are celebrating their friends’ 21st birthdays, and I just watched a movie on Nickmom.  Also, I just watched more commercials in the last two hours than I have in the last 15 years.  I watched commercials for Sketchers, Hair shit, weight loss shit, ABC mouse, Clorox bleach, pee pads, and fucking fiber bars.  Dude, OLD. (And I know a lot of you reading are older than I am, so just humor me on this.  I’m just bleghing…and 30 something crisising…it will pass in a minute and I’ll be all bouncy again.)  

I never watch commercials!  I have received clear confirmation tonight that I have been correct in avoiding them all these years.  Am I supposed to need more fiber??  And what’s wrong with my hair?  And I suddenly feel so fat!  Total inadequacy.  All I need now is a Cosmo magazine and my soul will be sufficiently squashed.  It’s interesting that the movie was about finding yourself and being true to yourself and your intelligence and knowing who matters in life, and then you have to watch commercials about becoming skinnier and prettier and your four-year-old needs ABC mouse because he’s not smart enough and now you and your kid suck.  Irony.

So, now that I have that crisis out of my system, I solemnly swear that I will be up late reading a book tomorrow night instead of letting mainstream media control my soul.  And it’s not just because I have to read it for school, really.  (It’s because Ethan Hawke had a book in his hand in almost every scene and OMG reading is hot.)  And now I will return to my usual happy intelligent good enough 30 something programming.