Thursday, March 26, 2015

Most Positive Person

Sometimes I think my kids are assholes.

E.g., Glow-Stick-Gate 2014.

Or that time when the boy melted onto the airport food court floor because he wanted a hamburger but then he got a hamburger and the hamburger wasn't frozen yogurt.

Or every time she screams at me because I can't read her mind (which is usually the opposite of what her mouth is saying).

Or the fact that I have a mini panic attack every night when I'm pouring their milk because I feel like I'm on some terrible game show where choosing the wrong color cup causes you to be electrocuted.

Or when Jack lost his ever lovin mind because he didn't get a present on Colby's birthday (this was the fourth celebration of her birthday, and this was the first time Jack hadn't gotten a courtesy present). He also cried his face off because we said he could only have one candle in his cupcake when Colby got three. You know, because it was her third birthday.

Times like these, I'm convinced I'm DOING IT WRONG.

The other day I was texting with my two BFFs. My friend Claire (3 kids) and I were, well, whining to our friend B (no kids as of yet; penchant for moving to war-torn, poverty-stricken, disease-ravaged countries to make them better places) about how WHINY our kids are. All. The. Damn. Time. We came to the consensus that we should send them to Auntie B's Boot Camp in rural Haiti. That'll wipe the whine clean out of 'em, I bet. Kinda like how my dad kept a framed photo above the stove of two starving homeless kids sharing a cold can of beans during the Depression. (Granted, we were d*cks. I still feel terrible about this one time my dad came to pick me up at the babysitter and I said, "I don't want to go home. He's just going to make us eat frank-n-beans again." I only now appreciate the pleasure he would have taken at throttling my neck right then.)

Aaaanyway. In spite of allllll this. Grading on a curve - a curve that does not include Haiti or Afghanistan or Syria or Sierra Leone - I've got some darn good kids.

When we were home recently, my father in law said to me "You're too hard on them. They're just kids." And he's right. I do ride them hard. I feel like a broken record. I say the following phrases literally 100 times a day: "Yes please? No thank you? Chew with your mouth closed, please. Don't talk with your mouth full, please. Cover your mouth when you cough/sneeze/power-wash a five-foot radius with snot, please. Say excuse me when you _____. Do you need a tissue? (Code for: Get your goddamn finger out of your nose.)" It gets old. And I often wonder if a single word I say permeates that hermetically sealed membrane of their hard little bobble heads.

I may be a "mean mom," but it's important to me not to raise jerks. Granted, they'll inevitably turn out to be somewhat entitled dicks, an unfortunate by-product of growing up in a "yurfy" (you like that? i just made it up: yuppy + surfy) so-cal town with two lawyer parents. But I care about instilling some basic sense of how to be a pleasant co-habitant of this fast-shrinking planet we call home. And whatever we're doing, it seems to be working. Sort of. Sometimes. For example -

My kids are consistently good travelers. (The week after we travel, however? All bets are off. Holy hell.)

They are, apparently, a pleasure to have in the classroom. (Reminds me of the time when my third grade teacher called my mom and told her she should come to the end of the year awards ceremony because I was receiving "The Most Positive Person" award. My mom replied, "You must have the wrong kid." :))

My mother in law almost died when she saw Jack (attempting) to clean up (3%) of the pee off the toilet seat at her house.

They seem to actually enjoy their little chores, like feeding the dog (leaving a little Hansel and Gretel trail so she kind find her way to dinner), setting the table, putting their dirty dishes in the sink and "folding" the laundry, a.k.a. rolling it into a ball.

They regularly say things like "Fank you for dis dewicious meal," "You look beautiful today," "May pwease I be excused?" and "You're a gweat awtist!" They usually say "Excuse me" after emitting a stench of one sort or another, that is, after cackling maniacally about it.

Jack is thoughtful to a fault (which I think is probably more personality than parenting but whatever, I'm taking credit anyway since I made him). For example, if he gets a little trinket but there isn't one for his sister, or if someone has to drive or stay home by themselves, it literally brings him to tears, he's so concerned about their feelings.

Colby could snuggle the bad mood out of a hangry hibernating bear.

Last night we were reading this book called "Peace Through Our Eyes," with drawings and sayings from local elementary school kids. (A gift from Auntie Claire, actually ;)) Jack says, "To me, peace is being helpful. Peace is being respectful and responsible. Peace is... like when there are only two pieces of pizza left and you want both, but your sister wants one too, so you share with her." Then, a minute later, "Then, you use your words and your manners and you ask in your nicest big boy voice for your parents to buy another pizza." This kid cracks my shit up.

What I'm trying to say is, while it's easy to get down on yourself for the daily dinner drama or another Target meltdown or the nonstop sibling strife, it's worth reminding ourselves that we're not doing half bad, and the kids are alright.

(Full disclosure: After the kids basically rocked vacation, I was feeling SUPER proud of them, which spawned the idea for this post, and DM and I even talked about it on our school-board-meeting-turned-happy-hour date the day after we got back, brainstorming all the things we love about our kids. Then, life laughed in my face, as she is wont to do, and for the past week, the children, whether from jet lag or sickness or exhaustion or grandparent hangover or party overload or all of the above, have been intently trying to ruin my life. I'm gonna cut 'em a break though because I don't feel like I've really recovered either. But geez louise. Oh, and that reminds me. Jack: "Which is the one we're not supposed to say? 'Geez Louise' or 'Oh Jesus?'" Dear lord.)

The moral of the story is, I'm not perfect. Neither are my kids. Far from it. But I must be doing something right (some of the time ;)). I bet you are, too.

See? Happy little beach babies. Just remember to bring enough snacks to feed a small army (in sand- and waterproof receptacles), fourteen towels, seven DRY, pristine changes of clothes, and devise a method by which you can successfully remove every last grain of sand from every inch and orifice of their body upon departure from the beach
(baby powder, shop-vac). Follow these simple steps and you'll be good to go! ;) 

** If you liked this post, you'll love my essay in I Still Just Want to Pee Alone, Available Now! **
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