Tag Archive | Parenting Humor

Act Now, Think Later

A note to my children. I appreciate your need to ask questions, even to respectfully question authority . I encourage it. I love your inquisitiveness and curiosity. Don’t ever lose that. Critical thinking is vitally important, and I want to raise children who are independent and in-depth thinkers who scrutinize sources of information, and wonder why things are done the way they are.

That said, you still need to consider context. Allow me to offer an example. When your mother tells you, with a sense of urgency in her voice, to “go get a plunger” that is a time for action, not questions. It should be a reflex. When you hear the word plunger, you jump into action. Plunger. Action. Plunger! ACTION! PLUNGER! IT’S FUCKING GO TIME!!!

Because unless someone is telling you to retrieve a plunger from a burning building, the consequences of NOT getting a plunger will always be worse than getting a plunger. ALWAYS.

Once the crisis is resolved, there will be a debrief. THAT is the time to ask, “Why?”

So, if you must know why, here is the answer. Partially eaten celery sticks WILL clog a toilet.

And as long as we’re asking questions. WHO took the plunger out of the bathroom in the first place? I’m not even going to bother asking about the celery.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2014

Leftover Arguments

8:00 in the morning. One kid wants pancakes for breakfast (leftover from yesterday when I was trying to be nice), the other wants leftover macaroni and cheese. Right fucking now. A heated argument over whether or not it’s gross to put fresh raspberries on pancakes. Another about whose turn it is to let the dog out. And yet one more to determine what TV show to watch. Then…the crime of the century. Justin ate Alex’s chips and cheese. The ones that sat out over night, getting stale, the cheese hardening into a rubberlike substance that only non-ionizing microwave radiation can regenerate as an edible substance.

“HE ATE MY LEFTOVER CHIPS AND CHEESE!!!!!!!”

Histrionics ensue. Demands of restitution. Accusations of targeted thievery with malice aforethought. A third party gets involved, telling both of them to quiet down, stepping on them and on someone’s stomach as the aggrieved parties wrestle on the floor. Godzilla on a much smaller scale. More crying, this time in pain.

The kid who already ate a pancake drenched in syrup and raspberries assembles a mountain of tortilla chips and covers it with an avalanche of shredded cheese. These will surely go largely uneaten since he had zero interest in them until his brother sniped them. Now they chirp each other for no reason other than to establish the upper hand going into the next fight.

“You’re stupid.”
“No I’m not.”
“Yes you are.”
“No I’m not. You are. You don’t even know math.”
“That’s because I don’t like to add.”
“Well, you should.”
“You don’t know anything about football.”
“I don’t care. I don’t like football.”
“Well, you should.”

Four. More. Days.

UPDATE: Next fight has already broken out. Over a softcover Scholastic book called Mice on Ice. Who is the rightful owner? I can’t even be the arbiter because I bought it, and several other books for them for Christmas, and I can’t recall who got that particular book. A book that no one has touched for the past three months. Now more valuable than a first edition Mark Twain, all because someone else wants it.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2014

Love Love

I played a lot of tennis as a kid, honing my skills by using the outdoor racquetball courts at the local community college as a backboard. Not many of my friends played tennis, especially anyone in the neighborhood, so my usual partner was my little brother. He was not an especially gracious loser. A typical match with him consisted of multiple contested line calls, abrupt rule changes, scoring arguments, and fits of pique that often resulted in him launching tennis balls over the fence. Many times I would just get disgusted with him, and stop playing, which resulted in him declaring that if I “quit,” he would be the winner.

Flash forward 25 years later, and Justin has taken an interest in tennis. I love that, because it gives me an opportunity to get back out on the court again after a very long hiatus when I had tiny kids. Unfortunately the experience is eerily reminiscent of those old days with my brother, leaving me feeling exasperated, frustrated, and angry.

Yesterday morning I took Cameron (age 11), Justin (age 8), and Alex (age 7) out to hit around. The fun began when Justin insisted on playing “a real game,” despite the fact that he can only get one of five balls back over the net. Of course that is my fault because if I hit one to his backhand side, he complains vociferously. “Stop hitting it there! I can’t do LEFTY!!!” But if I hit it to his forehand, Cameron would step over and attempt to hit it in front of him, resulting in clashes over whose ball was whose.

Justin’s biggest problem is that his expectations are way too high. He thinks that even though he’s never had a formal lesson, and has only played a handful of times this summer, that he should be playing at the level of a Roger Federer or Andy Murray. And when he misses a shot, he swings his racquet in disgust, yelling at himself like John McEnroe.

We arrived with three cans of tennis balls, nine balls. At one point I used the last ball in my pocket, and Cameron hit one that rolled to the fence by the far court. I needed another ball to start a rally, but only saw the one that had been hit over the fence, still lying in the grass. What happened to all the balls? I asked Justin how many he had in his pockets. Evidently all of them, which he refused to give up, and insisted I run over and get the one that was by the fence. Eventually we coaxed him to let us use some of the balls from his pockets, but admonished Cameron when he hit another one astray. “I’m not letting you use my balls if you keep HITTING them!”

Ages ago I got clocked in the face while playing the net. The ball hit me right in the eye, bruising my cornea. My pupil was constricted for a week. That was more enjoyable than what was happening with Justin at this moment. Another car pulled up, and out jumped a dad and his two kids, an older boy who was quite good, and a kid about the age and talent level as Cameron. “Care if we join you?”

“Sure,” I said, secretly thinking, “Do it at your own risk.”

Justin then couldn’t concentrate until we retrieved our ball that was on the side of their court. “MOM! They have our ball!”

Nothing could convince him that it wasn’t a big deal, and that I was sure they’d kick it over when they had a chance. That’s when Dad started barking orders at his kids in Russian. Or maybe it was just coaching. Kind of everything spoken in Russian sounds ominous. Chalk it up to growing up during the Cold War. But Justin was intimidated, and refused to play on the side of the court adjacent to them, but of course Cameron wouldn’t trade places with him. After hitting about ten balls onto their court, I suggested we move to the kid-sized courts on the other side of the fence.

They actually did a little better on those courts, but everyone wanted to be on my side. There isn’t enough room for three people on a junior court, but every time I moved to another side, someone would follow me, and someone would cry about being left. Finally I just told Justin and Cameron to play a set by themselves, and Alex and I would hit on our own on another court. That remained friendly for about two minutes, and then the arguments about line calls, scores, etc. began. My favorite of Justin’s arguments: “It’s not fair if you hit it good and I can’t get it! That’s MY point then.”

The day came to its inevitable conclusion when each one insisted he was the winner, and Justin threw his racquet at Cameron.

Game. Set. Match. We’re outta here.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2014

 

No Girls Will Want My Hair Like This

IMG_0006Justin and Alex were having a conversation at dinner last night about having kids.

Justin: “Mom, will Alex be the uncle for my daughter?” (Justin has decided a while back he’s having a baby girl.)
Me: “Yes.”
Alex: “Can uncles be girls?”
Me: “No, uncles are boys.”
Alex: “And Justin will be my uncle.”
Me: “Your kids’ uncle. And David and Cameron’s kids.”
Alex: “I KNOW! That’s what I mean. Will I be uncle for David and Cameron?”
Justin: “Yeah, Alex. And me.”
Alex: “But how do you even get babies?”
Justin: “Shhhh! You know.”
Alex: “Oh yeah, Mom, we know. Dylan, on the bus, told us.”
Jennifer: “Oh. Ok.”
Justin: “Yeah, but I’m not gonna do the thing. I’ll just adopt my kids.”
Alex: “Eeeeww, I’m not doing the thing either. I just won’t have any.”
Me: (Silent. Wondering what exactly they think “the thing” is.)
Justin: “What if you don’t find a wife?”
Me: “You’ll find one.”
Justin: “But no, what if you don’t?”
Me: “Then I guess you just stay single.”
Justin: “And that’s it?”
Me: “Don’t worry, you’re cute. And sweet. Lots of girls will like you.”
Justin: “No, I’m not cute. My eyes are weird like this.”
Me: “You have pretty eyes.”
Justin: “Well, no girls will want my hair like this. They’ll want it, like, cut, and with a style.”
Me: “Maybe.”
Justin: “And I can’t eat bad stuff because then my mouth will smell, and girls won’t like that. For kissing.”
Me: “Better keep brushing your teeth then.”
Justin: “And my eyes don’t look good.”
Me: “Why don’t you like your eyes? You have beautiful blue eyes.”
Justin: “But I’ll have to do something to my hair.”
Me: “I guess.”
Justin: “Can we go play tennis?”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2014

Simmer, Don’t Boil

The morning before school routine at my house is a delicate dance, and if you don’t adhere to the intricately choreographed steps it will quickly turn into a clown show.

For example, I know that my 6-year-old will spend the first 15-20 minutes after he wakes up insisting that he’s not going to school. Just go with it. My 8-year-old will refuse to brush his teeth until 5 minutes before the bus comes. Don’t bother nagging until 7:52. My 11-year-old will lie about having brushed his teeth, and will inevitably be searching for something he lost. Call him on it.

It’s all quite simple, if not maddening, and I am well aware that we’re an ill-fitting sock, a mediocre lunch selection, or a missing sketchpad away from full-on meltdown. It’s an extremely volatile environment, and it’s important to keep things at a low simmer, then if something does ignite I can just throw a little baking soda on it or smother it with a lid, and we can move on. You can’t lose your shit with them unless there has been no progress at all, and you have to mean business.

My husband, despite my pleading for him to just get in the shower, get ready for work, and let us be, frequently insists on coming upstairs after his workout to “help.” Unfortunately he brings a full can of gasoline and a lit match with him, and the next thing you know I’m running for the fire extinguisher, which is loud, dramatic, messy, and would have been completely unnecessary had proper protocol been followed.

And guess who is left to clean up the aftermath?

Conversations I Never Thought I’d Have: Part I

Justin

He can’t wait to punch something that won’t get him in trouble.

Conversations in a household populated with four boys can be interesting, to say the least. And the most ridiculous part is when I try to respond. I start off perplexed, and end up being totally vested in it.

Justin: “Mom, what’s worse? Getting stabbed with a knife or a scissors?”
Me: “I don’t know. I suppose it would depend on where you’re stabbed.”
Justin: “But which is worse?”
Me: “Neither of them would be good.”
Justin: “But which one is WORSE?”
Me: “A knife.”
Justin: “How about a chainsaw, or, um…a pitchfork?”
Me: “Definitely a chainsaw.”
Justin: “A machete or one of those…like what do you call those ninja knives?”
Me: “You mean throwing stars?”
Justin: “No.”
Me: “A samurai sword?”
Justin: “No, like just a knife with a curve. Like this.” (Draws a swoosh in the air with his fingers.)
Me: “I don’t know. Probably a machete.”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2014