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A kid’s guide to how to ask your parents for a hamster

 

A kid's guide to how to ask your parents for a hamster by Frugalista Blog

My daughter knew her father would be a tough sell on getting him convinced she could have a hamster.

We have a cat and a dog and despite my request for a houseful of kittens, he says that we have all the pets we’ll ever have.

Emma is a pretty clever kid.

So she knew that if she left the gate with just, “Dad, can I have a hamster?” the answer would be “NO”.

She decided to come up with a plan.

First- clean your room or bathroom, wherever you plan on keeping the little furry rodent’s dwelling.

Second- don’t ask for anything for awhile and come across as very low maintenance.

Three- have ovary surgery where they rearrange your insides.

Okay, that’s not fair. Not every kid can pull the surgery card, but it does work well if you do have it in your deck.

Find a time when dad isn’t stressed or just came home from work, isn’t distracted by a World Cup game, watching the NBA draft, or finishing his roster for coaching your brother’s soccer game. Yeah, if you understood that sentence, that means there’s very little time dad isn’t stressed or distracted.

Have a whole bunch of your babysitting money saved up so you don’t ask your parents for funding this furry venture.

Once you’ve accomplished all the above, sit down with your dad casually. Probably while he’s chilling with a beer.

And then in your sweetest, yet direct on mature, but not too mature voice, ask, “A lot of my friends have gotten them, and I know it seems weird at first, but I think you’ll consider the idea, can I get a belly button piercing?” Then hold for dramatic pause.

Then when he looks at you in shock, appease his worries with soft laughter,

“Ha ha, I’m just kidding.” “But rather, actually, can I have a hamster?” Then look him squarely in the eye and smile.

Ha! See? It’s the old ‘bait and switch’ tactic!

Once the shock of the thought of his little girl getting some kind of ornamental piercing hanging from a part of her body that he once bathed and applied ointment to the first few days after birth to ensure it healed properly, he can wrap his head around a furry little friend joining your home that pees and poos in a cage of wood shavings.

If at first he gives you the no answer answer, which goes like, “Oh, a hamster, ha ha. I get it. Hmmm…”  and then goes back to his beer and laptop, don’t fret. That’s not actually a ‘No’. It’s a non-answer that just hangs in the air.  What’s critical here is not to press him. Just go with the flow.

If you’re mom is already on board and supporting you with the decision, then let her do the closing.

Do your research and maybe mention a few people you know who have experience with hamsters as pets. Stress the low maintenance feature. Dad’s appreciate this.

It doesn’t hurt to take a trip to a few pet stores and scope out the one you want to get.  Once you find the one you fall in love with, bring back these anecdotes of how you held the cutest, sweetest hamster of the bunch and we wouldn’t want him to get purchased by someone else.

Have your mom approach him casually with, “well, Emma’s gotten all she needs for her hamster and we’ll head to the pet store tomorrow to bring him home. It really was the cutest one and it liked her immediately.”

When your mom helps convince your dad, you’ve hit a home run.

Bring that fur ball home and congratulations! You are now the owner of a tiny rodent.

Oh, and the pee and the bedding do stink. I’m not gonna lie. Be sure to tidy it daily, and clean its shavings weekly. If the smell overwhelms your parents, you’ve failed at the hamster parenting task and they’ll never trust you again.

For part two of this story, stay tuned on how to retrieve your hamster from the floor boards when you lose him behind the bathroom cupboard. That was fun. (sarcasm font)

 

 

 

Little Frugie on the Prairie

I would kick ass as a prairie woman! Okay, except for the outhouse part. And the working from sun up to sun down. And maybe the fact that there was no WiFi in 1888.

BUT, still, I think I would rule the homestead.

I took the children and my friend and her children to a place called Pioneer Farms. It’s in the Ohop Valley in Washington and is a good one hour drive from my house.

Of course, this involved a Starbucks stop and a potty stop on the way. Obviously we weren’t embracing the accurate means of covered wagon travel to get to this pioneering homestead.

So with our iPhones and Galaxy S4s charged up for plenty of pictures and Instagramming, oh, and not to mention lots of hand sanitizer and sunscreen, off we went to experience the life of the pioneers. (sarcasm font)

Upon arrival, of course, I had to pee. So the outhouses they have on the site, are – outhouses. Yep. No Honey Buckets especiale here. These babes haven’t been emptied in at least 50 years. I’m guessing they put some enzyme in them or something so that the waste doesn’t actually climb out and meet you on the freeway. I had been to this farm when I was 9 and the outhouse was in the same location. So if you think they dig a new hole every ten years, then you’d be wrong.

How nice that I’ve dedicated an entire paragraph to outhouses. But the point is, they’re awful. They stink. And anything down wind stinks too. So enjoy that in the middle of the night when your bison fried steak disagrees with you.

We got to see a school house where the rules were made clear that girls got more lashes than boys for having something misspelled or a math problem wrong. Too bad women’s rights would be another 30 years and then some.

The homes were pretty small in those days. I guess since you built them yourself with only your wife and 5 children under the age of 5 to help you, granite counter tops, bonus rooms, and bay windows were kind of hard to come by.

With that said, the homes were really small in those days. So apparently bedrooms and privacy were nil. Personally, I would just make the house bigger if I’m the one building it. But having 7 family members in 100 square feet of space is cozy.

Children did major chores by the time they were 4. And not just gathering eggs from the chickens or kneading bread dough. They cut wood. Can you imagine giving your 4 year old a saw?  Ha ha ha! I know, I know, I know. There was a necessity to make them work so young. I’m not stupid. But still. A saw. Owen can barely butter toast. If I was waiting for the wood for that morning’s breakfast and Owen was in charge of bringing in the wood, we’d be eating at noon.

Our tour started in the barn. We got to milk Daisy the cow and gather the eggs and the children did an excellent job of picking up the chickens to gather them in the coop. The goats and pig and sheep were super cute and friendly. Every kid got a ride on Jake the horse. I would have ridden him too, but I was wearing a skirt and flip flops so that would have been silly if I did.

We would all have been screwed in 1880 without our Zyrtec. We all started sneezing from the hay.

My question is, would I be lactose intolerant back then? Hmm… that would make things a little awkward since coconut milk was not at the General Store.

For your entertainment, here’s all the chores and farm activities I got to do in pictures:

Little Frugie on the Prairie

I’m a po’ down trodden woman. Look how pitiful I look. The bonnet is a nice touch, don’t you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frugie on the Prairie

That shirt was like a piece of cardboard after drying in the sun all day. Can you imagine wearing it?

 

Frugie on the Prairie makes horse shoes

Yeah, so that’s a 2000 degree forge and Owen and I are just you know, heating up metal to hammer and shape for horse shoes. Despite my protective eye wear, I did not feel confident. A flame retardant suit and giant Ov Glove would have made me feel more safe.

Frugie on the Prairie shaving wood

This was one of the jobs a 4 year old would do. Apparently, I’m not as skilled as a 4 year old. It’s the process of shaving down a piece of wood for an ax handle or something. It was quite difficult.

Look Ma, I’m shaving wood!

I caught this chicken and then made it into soup. Just kidding. I didn’t make it into soup. Actually, I didn’t catch it either. Emma did. Notice the photo bomb?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to get your children to listen to you in public

How to get your children to listent to you in public by Frugalista Blog

My friends. This is easy. If no one has taught you the value of how to humiliate your children in public, then you’re doing it wrong. **

You see, I have a very high tolerance for my own humiliation. I’m pretty much fair game. Have you seen my Spanx post? Right.

Once upon a time, my children and I were at the mall.

We went to the Lego store to look around.

We spent a lot of time looking, putting together some pieces, sitting on those tiny stools they put at those tables, checking out the million dollar Millennium Falcon. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Legos are cool and Star Wars Legos are even cooler, but I was thirsty. And hungry.

Honestly being hungry and thirsty in a Lego store isn’t fun. There’s not even any lip gloss or shoes to distract me. So when it’s lunch time and mom is ready to go, it’s go time.

The children did that thing where when I say, “Okay kids, let’s go get lunch!” and I’m super positive and all happy parent on them, they are like, “Just a sec mom.”

Uh huh. I know ‘Just a sec’. It’s the classic stall. My husband does the ‘Just a sec’ when I tell him to take out the garbage. And now the children have mastered the ‘Just a sec’ as well.

Tick tock. Seconds are going by and my stomach is rumbling.

“Okay my little kidlets, this mama hen is hungry and it’s time to feed the chicks. Let’s go.”

“Wait mom, this is so cool, did you see this?”

“Yes, I did honey. Diagon Alley is awesome when it’s made from 15,000 pieces. But there’s a burrito in the food court calling my name. Let’s GO.”

“Sure mom…”

And then it’s like they turned into turtles. The Slowskies are now my son and daughter. Seriously? Like how cool can bricks of plastic be?!

“Hey kids, if you don’t come when I count to 5, I won’t let you have ice cream later.”

Them- “….”

“Hey kids, if you don’t come in the next two seconds I’m just going to start dancing right here in the mall.”

“MO’OM, Right. You’re just kidding. Just a sec.”

You did not ‘Just a sec’ me a second time.

“Okay here goes. OOOh, I love this song. Reminds me of high school. How do you do the Running Man again?”

I proceed to do some version of the Running Man. I’m outside the Lego store and the kids can see me through the glass wall.

“Hey kids, I’ll stop as soon as you join me.”

Kids come running.

“Mom that was SO EMBARRASSING!! How could you do that? Oh my gosh, like people were watching!”

“And from now on, you come when I call and I won’t break out the Cabbage Patch. Deal?”

“Deal.”

Seriously. It’s worked ever since. Which is good, because my Cabbage Patch is worse than my Running Man.

 

**No children were harmed in the sharing of this blog

 

When your 5th grader goes to camp

Sending your 5th grader to camp by Frugalista Blog

When your 11 year old goes to 5th grade camp and you miss him, he might not miss you as much as you thought he would. Which is probably a good thing. Fly little birdie fly. (sniff, sniff)

Owen just finished 48 hours away from home at 5th grade camp. This was his first camp-out without his dad. He’s done Cub Scouts before but always with his dad. And dad always had a cell phone. So I would text and check updates, looking for Facebook pictures or statuses.

But this time, no dad. No cell phones. It felt weird.

I completely trusted him in the care of his teacher and the other adults there. But I wondered if he was missing me. Did he let tears fall on his pillow at night when the cabin was dark and he heard every little creak and hum? When he could hear other campers snoring and he felt far from home and alone did he muffle his cries in his pillow? Okay, so that was me when I was 11 at camp. Not that I’m trying to impress my experiences on him, but I did have a certain empathy for what he might be going through.

Camp is an exhilarating and exhausting rite of passage for kids this age. A bonding experience with classmates that if you’re lucky, you’ll have camp memories 30 years later with those friends and you form Facebook groups.

I even remember my camp songs, the Smokey The Bear award, the film canister survival kit I made, the weird ‘hamburger surprise’ dinner that was served that first night.

I remember crying while saying good bye to the friends I made from other schools. We wrote letters to each other for probably the following 6 months and then lost touch.

Owen said there were no tears shed. He said the food was awful but they still cleared their plates.

They measured their ‘ort’ or leftovers, for their table. Only take what you’re going to eat. I love camp. Sharing the value of limiting waste! He said by the last meal his table had zero ort.

He shared the songs his cabin sang when they had to line up for meal times. A different one each time, they would line up, sing their song or chant, and the cabin with the best, got to go in the dining hall first. A sample of one of them to the tune of Selena Gomez’s, “If You’re Ready Come and Get It”- “Lunch is ready, come and get it, nanana na na na.” He said they won pretty much every time.

They performed a skit and won the trophy for best skit. Or something like that.

He told me about a tumble he took off of some tight rope. That didn’t sit too well with me. But hey, he’s fine. It’s camp, not Navy Seals. Or Meatballs.

I was disappointed to hear there was no Square Dancing. How do you not have Square Dancing? We had Square Dancing. What is camp without the humiliation and exhilaration of having to touch a boy’s hand? Hoping he won’t know that yours are sweaty.

O Johnny O Johnny O was my favorite. I can do it for you if you’d like. Maybe a YouTube video?

I have to at least teach Owen. Do si do-ing and going to your ‘corner girl’, THAT is what camp is!

So Owen got off the bus looking exhausted but happy. He smelled of camp fire and hair gel. He asked for Starbucks. Then he went home, changed his clothes, grabbed his iPhone and was out the door to a friend’s house!

Wait just a minute.

Where was my chit chat over tea and scones? I needed to hear every detail!

Hmm. It wasn’t going to happen at that moment. I needed to let him go and let him run off his antsy feeling of connecting with the friends that didn’t go to camp.

Eventually, he shared a whole bunch over a game of 2 square in the driveway with me. Trust me, I will keep drawing camp details out of him as the days go on. I’m guessing there will be several rounds of Foosball, 2 square, and hoops to get him to talk.

I’m okay with that.

 

“It’s Not Fair!” a guest post over at In The Powder Room

I’m featured over at In The Powder Room today.

It’s funny. It’s about penises.

Go over and read it. http://www.inthepowderroom.com/parenting-penis-envy/

It's Not Fair- A post about penis envy by Frugalista Blog

Birthing a teenager

When you have a baby your thoughts are surrounded by this little bundle of joy. Wait. Scratch that. Bundle of joy? Bundle of crying, pooping, difficult to latch on toothless beast. That’s more like it.

Emma is 14 today. I remember when she was born and the soft skin on her back felt like I put my hand in a vat of warm butter. I had no idea what to expect. I could barely wrap my mind around the number of cells that divided and divided over the 39 weeks bringing me this fleshy, peach fuzzed, pink child.

The sense of overwhelming duty to feed this human was daunting. Everything hurt. My boobs were sore beyond imagine. I couldn’t get her to latch on. Her cries of hunger brought me to tears. Like Pavlov’s dog, her squawks sent chills straight to my nipples. I wanted to run away. But I also wanted to love her and never let her go.

Then a thought occurred to me, somewhere in that first week of having a newborn. What if I don’t like her when she becomes a teenager? What if we clashed and hated each other and didn’t speak? Maybe she would rebel against me. Maybe she would slam the door in my face every time I attempted to connect with her.

When babies grow to be 3 year olds, everyone says, “Wait until they become teens. Then you’ll really have your work cut out for you.”

Guess what? Everything I feared, hasn’t come to fruition. Yet.

I find myself loving and growing with Emma more and more as she enters womanhood. We bond over gross things like tampons and body hair! She tells me about her friends. Her fears and her loves. We still ooh and ahh over Disney princesses.

We have frank discussions about sex. She asks me questions, and I answer. Always trying to wrap it in a context her young mind and heart can relate to. But trying not to sugar coat things to unrealistic proportions. I want her to be a strong, sexually independent adult female. I want her to gain her own claim on her boundaries, intimacies, and relationships.

Radical? I don’t think so. I think one of the greatest hardships we face as parents is letting our children actually leave the nest. I don’t want her to leave. But I want her to. You know what I mean?

She has the spirit and poise and intelligence to do wonderful things. Could she be a UNICEF ambassador to developing countries? Sure. Could she travel the country in a Broadway production? You bet. Do both of those scare the shit out of me? ABSOLUTELY.

But I can’t let her know those fears. I think what scares me most, is if she DIDN’T try those things. If she limited herself and succumbed to her own fears and shut herself in to just stay close to home, and follow the simple path.

Don’t get me wrong. Her happiness is based on her choices. If she goes to junior college and finds a nice job, gets an apartment nearby, and is happy- then perfect.

If she decides to live in Belgium? Then perfect also.

Where am I going with this? All of a sudden I’m breathing in a paper bag realizing I have four more years before she is emancipated in the eyes of the state.

Back to the little girl I’m raising. None of the things I feared have come true. Her door is open, our conversations flow. We’ve had words, she’s rolled her eyes at me. She’s stomped up the stairs and looked at me like I had two heads. But in the end, we connect.

And that’s all I can ask for.

Dearest Emma, I truly want your heart and mind to soar to its fullest potential. To find love and content within yourself and the people you surround yourself with. God bless you and keep you.

xoxo

 

You and me girl. Let’s keep it goofy always.

My son got a loft bed. And then my heart broke.

My husband doesn’t build things. He is handy. But he doesn’t just start crafting things in his wood shop. I mean the crap pile of tools and things that need to go to Goodwill that makes up our garage. However, he had promised Owen a loft bed and he was going to build it. Like Noah. Just kidding.

Owen has been so excited for his new bed. He’d been talking about it for months. He and James drew up the plans together and he was so anxious for it. It was promised for the new year and I really didn’t think it was going to come to fruition.

Well, long story short. James built the loft bed. And he did a great job! An entire weekend he spent sawing, measuring and drilling in the garage. This was weeks ago and there’s still saw dust everywhere. But that’s beside the point, right? Right.

The frame was immediately up in Owen’s room as soon as it was assembled. It’s about 5 feet off the ground. The kids and the dog, wasted no time checking it out. The cat does too! Both Emma and Owen are enjoying the bed above the ground, and the space under the bed for sitting and reading or playing games. I join the fun too and heave myself up the little ladder. Nothing makes you feel your age more than having to climb a ladder and expertly swing your leg over on a bunk bed without getting your arms and legs in a tangle. Holy crap, I was never meant to be a fire fighter.

Was it weird to have my son suspended from wooden 2×4′s 5 feet off the ground that my non-carpenter husband constructed? Yes. But the amount of bracing and bolts in the thing assured me it’s not going anywhere.

That night Owen is more than excited to go to bed and try out his new sleep digs. All his bedding is ready. He’s lined up his stuffed animals and pillow pets along the wall and railing as an extra barricade.

I don’t bother climbing up there. One, I’m scared my weight will be the tipping point for the wooden slats to bow without yielding. Two, it’s just really hard to get up there.

Owen doesn’t care. He’s snuggled in and ecstatic to go to sleep! I get up on my tippy toes and he leans to the railing for me to give him a kiss. He kisses me on the cheek. “Love you, good night, sleep well.” Is what he always says. I kiss him on his cheek, and steal a kiss on the top of his head, I rub his head a little extra and fluff his hair. Giving his arm a squeeze and leave him as I turn out the light and shut the door.

And then it hits me like a curve ball. No more can I lean down and kiss him goodnight or kiss him good morning and lean in to smell his head and put my nose in the curve of his neck. How did I not see this coming? Had I remembered this, the last night in his old bed, I would have done extra snuggles. I felt completely blind-sided. I hadn’t prepared for this stage of the parenting game.

My heart was broken. A little something died in me.

I know that sounds melodramatic. But he is my baby. My very tall, gangly limbed 10 year old baby. He’s a mama’s boy. And a little piece of his childhood went away with that old twin bed he’d been in since he was 2.

With all the excitement of the new bed, the wondering if James was really truly going to build this thing, I had forgotten about the sentimental aspect of what the old bed meant.

You always think of the transition from crib to Big Boy bed. It’s a huge deal. And seeing that crib disassembled and all packed up off to a Craig’s List recipient gives your heart a start, of course.

But I didn’t think of the Big Boy bed to No Longer a Boy but Almost a Teenager bed.

I see the horizon already of puberty and adolescence with Owen. His moods are changing. His sleep habits are evolving to where I need to wake him for school and he’s no longer MY alarm clock. He gets angry easily and pouts more often. A sign of the surging testosterone in his body. Oh help us. We braced ourselves when Emma went through this hormone tornado, and is STILL going through this. But the first couple years seem to be a different storm.

The cusp of child to pre-teen is even more difficult than full blown teendom. It’s confusing. It’s vexing. He’s a little boy still, you think. How can this be?

I’ve noticed a few changes over the months. Less cuddles on the couch. XBOX and hanging with his friends has replaced our sessions of Harry Potter movie watching. A trip to Barnes & Noble or a coffee shop for a treat with mom is not as fun as getting to play Halo at the neighbor’s.

For some reason, this has been harder than when Emma approached teenage-hood. She was always independent. Ditching me at a play place or preschool to go off with her friends or make new friends. Owen was my apron string clinger. Mild mannered, even tempered and my little shadow.

Funny, what I would pay today to get one more session on the couch of his chubby cuddles watching a Harry Potter movie. He’s all angles and corners now! No more baby pudge anywhere! He’s all his dad. Lean, tall and not an ounce of fat anywhere.

My takeaway from all this – I’m climbing that stupid ladder to his bed to kiss him goodnight. Sometimes I’ll lay next to him and give him an extra squeeze. He lets me. It’s not a pretty sight watching me arrange myself at the top, but I figure, while I’m able- I will climb it.

In a blink he won’t let me up there anymore, I know. He’ll be hairy, deep-voiced, and all hormones and in high school. Let me put it this way- I won’t WANT to be up there.

So I take what I can while it’s there. Parenting is so much hindsight. Well, here’s some foresight for you from me- breathe in the backs of the head right at the neck when you wake them up in the morning. Or, ha, realistically, when they come in to wake you up!

Oh, and if you think I’m climbing up there to change the sheets, no way. Owen knows that’s his job now.

 

 My son got a new loft bed. And my heart broke.

Bullying. Who’s to blame?

If you blame the times we live in, such as social media, the Internet and reality television, on why there’s a lot of bullying today, you’re missing a whole bunch.

We know bullying has been around for decades. We hear about it more now, sure. There’s new ways of bullying, this is certain. Or I should say, new ways of targeting a victim. But it has been around since original sin, I’m guessing. At least since Ralph from A Christmas Story, Nellie from Little House on the Prairie, or more poignant tales, like Judy Blume’s Blubber. Most recently famous, the movie Mean Girls had a burn book- a tome of hate-filled vengeance. No internet or social media there. Just old fashioned nastiness.

I just don’t want parents to turn a blind eye and think that because they shelter their children from outside aspects and influences, their children will not fall prey nor be perpetrators of bullying behavior.

 

Let me tell you a story about someone I know.

There was a little girl with special needs. She was developmentally delayed since infancy. Her life was a struggle of therapists, doctor appointments and medical mysteries. Milestones didn’t come easily for her like other kids. She didn’t learn to walk until she was well past the age of 2. She wouldn’t speak until the age of 5.

When it was time for junior high, she went off to school like all the other girls her age. But something about her was different. Special Ed kids they called them, or kids that rode the short bus, were easy to pick out. They had Down’s Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy or some other disability ‘more obvious’. Not this girl. This girl looked mostly ‘normal’ on the outside, but was developmentally delayed on the inside. It was hard to place her. Administrators would integrate her with mainstream kids as well as offer her special education.

Socially she was awkward.  She seemed immature for her 13 years now that she was in junior high. But her parents did what parents do. You send your kids to school and you want them to get an education, to acclimate to their peers, to socialize.

Well, sadly, this girl was the target of many other girls, and probably boys too. Mean girls. Such an easy victim to taunt, make fun of, point and laugh at. She didn’t know how to speak up for herself. She probably had her pants pulled up too high, or her shirt untucked, or her sweater askew, things that weren’t ‘cool’ to the other kids. She had terrible teeth. Gray from medications given to her as a baby. The awkward teen years were accentuated by braces and glasses. She seemed to walk somewhat duck like. Her legs never getting the gait and stride my parents hoped for her.

Maybe she said the wrong things in certain situations. Maybe she picked her nose in front of the other kids or chewed her finger nails.

She wasn’t fashionable, or good with hair and makeup. She tried, but it was especially hard. School was hard. Just understanding the material was difficult sometimes. But navigating through puberty and the hazing of her classmates was devastatingly hard.

There were no cell phones. There was no Internet. No Instagram or SnapChat. But there were their laughs and snide remarks. Their late night prank phone calls. Their locker room taunts. Notes written on paper. Pranks behind her back. Like the obscene word written in permanent marker on the back of a brand new winter coat. I think that was devastating to those parents and their hard earned money as it was for the victim, blindly walking around school like that.

Who is this girl? This girl is my sister. Leslie. Today, she is a 49 year old developmentally delayed adult living with my parents. She needs care and an appointed guardian. She can’t live on her own, drive a car, or have a family of her own.

The time I was speaking of her childhood was in the 1970s. I was too young to know what was going on. I’m 8 years younger.

But I knew there were struggles. I knew when my mom was furious communicating with administrators. I knew when she intercepted rude and cruel phone calls. I didn’t understand the pain.

There was no Anti-Bullying Awareness in schools. Sometimes the excuse, “kids will be kids”, was used.

My point is this- If you think bullying is a problem in this day and age because of all the technological tools that are out there, and that if you keep your kids from cell phones or reality television that they are less of either becoming a victim, or becoming a bully themselves; you are sadly mistaken.

Bullying is a problem today because of shitty human nature.

Yeah. I can’t explain it like a psychologist could. But that’s really what it comes down to.

Kids can be mean. Grown ups can be mean.

My suggestion-  Watch what you say about other people around your children.

If you are critical or degrading about strangers or celebrities and your children hear you, they could model that talk for themselves.

Using deprecating words like wuss, slut, lazy, slob in your home vocabulary can also rub off. Don’t make things like hairstyles, weight or clothing a focus of judgement when you’re around your kids. Do you get mad at other drivers while driving with your kids in the car? Do you yell at players of sports teams when they lose the game? Or maybe you’re the opposite. Everything is sweet and kind but you’ve stuck your head in the sand when it comes to recognizing what kind of kid your kid actually is.

Be nice. Kids might learn to be assholes if you’re an asshole. Usually bullies are bullied somewhere else in their lives. I’m not saying that the parents of the kids that bullied my sister were total assholes. Who knows? I bet the majority of those young people have grown up with children of their own, and have done a decent job raising them. I wish I knew.

I would love to show them that while they are off living their lives of independence, the weak and helpless teen that they thought was fun to make fun of; uses a cane and leg braces, has limited hearing and mobility. Still relies on her parents to get her places.  Has had two brain surgeries. Is that funny to you now? I didn’t think so.

Pay attention to your children and their relationships. The dynamics that they engage in around their peers. Monitor their phones and computers- absolutely. But spend time with them around other kids. Observe and don’t assume.

Kids do stupid stuff. Help them to be empathetic, compassionate people. With or without technology.

October is Bullying Awareness Month. I wanted to tell Leslie’s story. I think all the stories need to be told.

Mother Theresa says the most important thing we can do as a person is to be kind. Yes, yes it is.

 

 

Darn. It’s not broken.

I mean- yay. (Pfft.)

 

Remember when you were a kid, and you wanted a cast on your arm, just like the one little Bobby at school got when he fell off the monkey bars, because everyone got to sign it, and he had a note that he couldn’t do PE. Remember that?  And he told the class that his mom bought him ice cream and let him pick what he wanted for dinner that night and he didn’t have to do his chores because of his big owie?

I was so jealous of little Bobby. His life seemed so perfect. Chill-axing, watching cartoons and nursing his big cast-arm.

I mean, I didn’t WANT a broken arm per say. I wanted the attention, note from PE, excuse not to do chores, and dinner and ice cream.

So when this week I thought for sure I might’ve broken my foot, I admit, I was a little bummed when the doctor told me it would heal eventually on its own and that it was nerve damage, not a break, and to just limit my Zumba.

Limit my Zumba? Have you seen my ass lately doctor? So you’re telling me that my foot really isn’t THAT injured, so I should be able to do all the regular shit and chores I normally do, but just hobble around awkwardly until it heals? Even though I’m in a boat load of pain? Oh swell.

Here- let me catch you up on what happened.

About a month ago, I was playing soccer with Owen. We were goofing around in the front yard. I kicked the ball to him and felt massive pain in my foot. Right at my toe. I knew something was wrong. But I soldiered on and ignored it. I’m tough like that.

For weeks, I’ve been putting pain patches on, acupuncture, and even castor oil packs. Ancient healing methods haven’t been successful. I’m used to living in pain. Migraines, cramps, angry stuck ovaries, and bad feet. So you know, whatever. I can deal.

Went to Zumba for the first time in a LONG time. (Remember this Zumba story here?)

And I had so much fun! I could feel my ass melting away. I must’ve burned 600 calories dropping it low. About 3/4 of the way through, my foot was screaming in pain and asking me to stop dropping it so low. It felt like it was on fire.

So I eased up on my booty shaking and took it easy. That night it was incredibly tender and sore. The next morning it was just as bad.

As I was doing my Target run (hobble) and errands, I was in so much pain, I gimped on over to the Urgent Care that is in the same shopping complex.

Once it was my turn, they have me step on the scale. And to add insult (literally) to injury (literally), the scale mocked me an extra 5 pounds.

My day was going so nicely. (Insert sarcasm) I was in pain, started Aunt Flo, and was gaining weight by the second.

I asked the nurse if they served wine and chocolate. She chuckled. But no, they don’t.

When the initial x-rays showed no break, they sent me to an orthopedic specialist to determine if it was a stress fracture or something. The next day I saw the specialist.

Nice guy. But not nice enough to give me a big boot, vicodin, and a note telling my family to do all the work because mommy has to rest. Dang him!

Instead of that, he gave me a shot of cortisone and told me that the pain was nerve damage, not bone damage. I have a history of  neuromas and they are a bitch. Apparently, I pissed one off. So yeah.

The shot of cortisone hurt like a mother f–ker. I won’t lie. And it took awhile for the cortisone to kick in. I’m not allowed to go for any runs, skips, hops, Zumba classes, or track and field events. Darn- I was really looking forward to those.

What I am allowed to do is- make dinner, pack lunches, scrub toilets, scoop cat poop, vacuum, do laundry and get the groceries.

Dammit. Where is that doctor’s note when you want it??

Oh well, the good news is, since it isn’t broken, I will be in ship shop shape to attend BlogHer in Chicago at the end of July with all my blogging pals and fellow authors of the Pee book. It’s going to be so exciting!

Summer break hasn’t started yet in these parts, so at least while the kids are in school, I should rest up my foot. Excuse me, a new episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey is on. Gotta go.

 

 

The birds, the bees and uhm, ‘other stuff’

Show of hands- how many of you included a discussion about oral sex in the ‘sex talk’ with your pre-teens?

Hmm? Not too many of you I’m guessing. Now I’m no expert on child psychology or ‘the talk’. But let me share with you a little frank discussion I had recently with Emma. And she caught me off guard. We were driving in the car, so I needed to answer these completely sober. No cocktails were involved. No liquid courage to help. Deep breath. We’re going in.

Okay, the other night, Emma and I had some time just to ourselves. Lately we’ve been getting these afternoons or an evening together because the boys are entrenched in select soccer try-outs and spring tournaments. So they get to do their thing, and we do our thing.

Emma asks as we’re driving home from dinner, ‘Mom, was dad the only person you had sex with?’ Cue breaks screeching sound. Uhm, whoa there chica. I didn’t know we were having THIS conversation right now!

Me, “Uhm, yes.” There was a hint of doubt in my voice she detected. (Mom you can stop reading right here. Thanks- love you!)

Emma, “Mom, be honest now.”

Me, “Well, yes and no. Had I been intimate with some fellas before your dad? – yes. I was 23 when I met your father and I had some time to make out with other guys in college (not many, mind you) before I met daddy and so I had some experience with uhm, that stuff.” AWKWARD!

Emma, “Have you ever touched a pee pee with your mouth?” Her words, not mine!

Me, “Geeze kid! What are you doing with me here?!”

You could tell it was taking a lot of courage on her part. So I kept my cool. I could see she had some things going on in her mind, and I didn’t want to ruin this moment of her opening up to me. I also didn’t want to talk about blow jobs with my 13 year old!

I literally pulled the car over into a neighborhood and put it in park. I realized this conversation needed some attention and I wanted to make the most out of it.

So this is what I told her.  Feel free to take notes because afterwards, I felt like I totally nailed this. Really, parenting win moment coming up in 3, 2, 1…

“A lot of kids in middle school and high school are probably experimenting with oral sex. Guys might tell girls that blow jobs are harmless, don’t count as sex and also, you can’t get pregnant so it’s a win-win, right? No. Oral sex is just as intimate, it counts for sex and it means a whole lot more than you think it means. You can still get an STD from it and it is a big deal.”

Emma, “Isn’t it weird? Who wants a penis in their face?”

This is the right answer coming from a 13 year old!! Yes, who wants a penis in their face anyway? (silent prayer to myself, please help me Jesus that this child will not see a penis until she’s 30!)

I immediately thought of the scene in the movie Bridesmaids when Annie and Lillian are having brunch and Annie (Kristen Wiig) is confessing of her sleepover with her ex and reenacting a penis or a one-eyed snake using her facial expressions.

Me, “What you need to understand is that there will come a time when you’re kissing a boy and he’ll want to go further than just kissing. You will probably too.”

Emma, “That’s gross, I don’t want to do any of that!”

Me, “Now, right. If you think penises are gross, you have no business being near one. This clearly shows you are not mature to handle the situation.  However,  maybe when you’re 15 or 16 you will want to. Not that that’s an okay age either to have sex. You are going to think it feels good to be with a boy and you will be just as interested in having him touch you as he wants to touch you. Sex is a nice thing. It’s awesome. When you’re an adult and responsible and with someone you can trust. Whether those grown ups have intercourse like regular procreating mammals (cue laughter from Girl right here) or decide they want to enjoy each others’ bodies with their hands, OR mouths- is up to them. (Cue grossed out noises from Girl right here.) Let me stress- adults- not teenagers.  Feeling in love, loving someone and enjoying them is a perfectly wonderful thing. Just not when you’re 14.”

Emma didn’t believe me when I told her this. The part about her wanting to be with a boy. And that is understandable considering her age now. She’s convinced she’s not making out with a boy until she’s married to him. I explained that it’s unrealistic to think that. If she doesn’t want to kiss a boy or be with someone until her 20s or 30s, then great. But if she realizes that she’s kissing a boy and she’s 15 and she’d like to see how far it will go, then that’s when she needs to stop and think.

I want her to know that she needs to value herself. No boy is worth compromising for. Don’t do something with a guy because you’re afraid if you don’t that he won’t like you anymore. If you do end up doing anything you don’t want to, you’ll end up not liking yourself. And that’s more dangerous than any boy’s acceptance or rejection. Love yourself more than any other boy out there could ever say he loves or likes you.

But, if she’s the girl who wants the boy to do stuff with her and that boy doesn’t want to, she needs to respect him too. Boundaries are important for both sides. If she feels the little sparks of desire start to flicker, she needs to come to me and we can talk about what’s an appropriate solution with handling that until she’s 18 or 19 and on her own. Well, she already knows all about condoms and birth control. But what I want her to understand is that when urges come on strong, she can figure out what to do to not give in. I’m thinking jogging, shopping, macrame? Just kidding.

So there. I hope this helps you. Because heavens knows I got a few extra gray hairs from it and probably lost a few beats of my heart when it skipped.

Am I glad she asked me this? Hell yes. I’m so grateful to be talking with my teenager. That she comes to me with questions. I’m full to the brim with gratitude that she trusts me. I will cultivate this as long as possible. Even if it’s uncomfortable for me, it’s worth it.

 

For some references on talking to your kids about sex, check out Amy Langs blog, The Birds + Bees + Kids Blog.