Tag Archives: Parenting

Why Baby Boomers Are Lucky (to be alive.)

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When I was a kid, my father whipped me with a cat-o-nine-tails outside of my house if I even looked sideways at him. (I’m not sure why sideways was an issue for him and I certainly wasn’t going to ask).  I walked to school with paper bags on my feet, which may seem less than helpful, but it happened when I was a kid so it was character building.  My parents would play bowling

strict-1950swith kids by setting up pins in the back of a station wagon, and then making quick lane changes on the Eisenhower Expressway and we didn’t die. I disappeared first thing in the morning and didn’t return again until long after all the cops had gone to bed and my mom never even noticed I was gone unless I left uneaten liver on my plate and then it was back to the cat-o-nine-tails.  I thank God for them everyday because it made me the parent fearing, paper bag wearing, bruise displaying, former missing child I am today.

We’ll be back in a minute with our program: Why the Boomer Generation is Lucky to Have a Single Representative Left Alive after this message from Sugar Drops!  Candy Coated Sugar!  It’s what for breakfast!

Those were the days, weren’t they? We faced danger straight in the face and continued to not die.  We were lucky and brave and unaware of what was lurking in the various bushes and all station wagons.

Nowadays, (I guess that’s a word because spell check ignored me), kids are wimps, seat belt and helmet wearing wimps, brought up by simpering parents (our kids and grandkids) who don’t appreciate the lessons we strived to teach them; primarily, making it out alive is good enough for us and should be good enough for the little buggers we produce.

Every kid who runs into trouble does so because his or her parents didn’t take a good swing at them from time to time.  I’m guessing those ISIS characters (and by characters I mean M!!@#  Fu!@#$  A!@#s who should die in a pit of their own mucus) were raised by a bunch of Spock reading ninnies who gave them “a time out” rather than beat them, but I can’t vouch for this as I was raised by a pair of people who harbored within themselves a mix of every European identity and thought reasoning with kids was the devil’s therapy session.

We lived on the South side of Chicago, where all of the European mixes of the day congregated and apparently held meetings on how to deal with youngsters who misbehaved or behaved in developmentally appropriate ways, because most every kid in our neighborhood was very familiar with the dreaded bouncey ball paddle sans bouncey ball.

And I don’t mean to imply or say outright that I felt I was in danger throughout my childhood because, unless I walked between my father and the White Sox on TV, I was either pretty safe or completely unaware of the abundance of hidden dangers.

I rarely did anything apart from my parents that I wouldn’t do in front of them except riding my bike along break neck paths in the nearby woods, dating boys (men) who were far too old for me, trying and casting aside cigarettes, being myself, and watching TV with my friends by way of the kitchen phone.

How’s that life threatening you may ask?  Well, the phone was attached to a cord and could have been a deathtrap if someone had tripped over it as I watched Cat Stevens on Midnight Special in the den, with a phone that began its life in the kitchen. But I was willing to do that, because I was wild.

I was also the youngest and the only girl in my family and my parents either found this adorable or terrifying because I was never spanked despite my transgressions.

My brothers, however, behaved as if they were members of the Hell’s Angels and that was in the first grade, from that point on, my brothers made the Hell’s Angels look like Pat Boone’s family reunion (remember him?  Doesn’t he seem creepy to you now?).  They were spanked plenty and this seemed to encourage them, so who knows?

I spanked my only child three times, and by spanked, I mean swatted the piles of padding on the back of his butt.  I’m pretty sure that’s why he doesn’t remember it.  I spanked him once because he ran out in the street, another time because he chased a squirrel after I explicitly said these words, three times, “Don’t chase the squirrel” and the third time because he ran out in the street while chasing a squirrel.

At some point, I asked myself why hitting the person I loved most in the world seemed to be a good idea when, as a preschool teacher, I controlled an entire classroom full of kids by giving them my patented “I don’t think so,” look.  And it worked.  Still does. There’s something about my face that makes small children freeze in their tracks and comply and don’t think that hasn’t come in handy at restaurants.

So, I gave up making myself feel bad by swatting him with such a light touch that he didn’t feel it and, as a result he has never listened to my directives a day in his life.

I’m exaggerating and embellishing for comic effect, of course. My son grew up without incident and went to college where he began to misbehave by completely ignoring my specific directions that he become a rock star rather than study psychology. And yes, I’m probably the initial reason for his choice of majors.

Studying is not his only focus, however. He also teaches music to ruffians-in-the-making at School of Rock.  (Yes, there is a real School of Rock and no, Jack Black doesn’t teach there,)

He has hobbies too! Like worrying that I’m disappointed in him because he didn’t become a rock star which is balderdash, if balderdash means kind of true. (Not really, Jesse. Find another hobby…like rock stardom!)

Yet, if I met him at Starbucks today and we struck up a conversation I would try to figure out a way to make him my BFF, whatever that means, because, if you leave out the rock star part, and I don’t, he’s turned into the kind of adult I could like very much, because loving him might seem creepy given the age difference between him and me, although I think his devilish good looks might make it understandable.

And not to toot my own horn (and as David Letterman says, “I would if I could”), I think he’ll probably raise my future grandchildren in a similar way so, I’ll probably like them too.  If not, I’ll just give them the face.

All of which goes to show, I molly-coddled him and, as a result, he defied me in the most important ways. No rock stardom for him!  He could hit his unprotected head on a microphone stand or not wear a seatbelt in the back of a limousine, causing him to fall across the laps of girls of disrepute and who knows (or wants to know) what could have happened.

So, new parents, feed your kids too much sugar and surprise them with a spanking now and then, followed by the words my dear old dad used to say, “That was for nothing. Think how bad it will be if you do something.”

Those were the days.  Thank goodness they’re over.

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Why 312 Months is a Difficult Age

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Why 312 Months is a Difficult Age

Parenting is a challenge. Just about the time you realize what your 12-month-old means by geya, (read a book) your 312-month-old moves out of the house.

I know what you’re thinking, “Did you count to three? Because the book says counting three will nip unwanted behavior in the bud”. I did and it didn’t.

I threatened to ground him, but he openly defied me as he packed about 500 of the 1200 t-shirts he owns, along with some guitar picks and was out the door with everything he would need to be a guy in the world.

I wasn’t too worried at first. You know what they say, he’ll get to the end of the block and change his mind and they were right, except about the changing his mind. Apparently, he got to the end of the block, went onto the next block, eventually got on the expressway and forgot the saying entirely, which is not as cute as my friend’s son’s story. He ran away from home on a tricycle dressed only in his mother’s filmy pink nightgown. This would be less cute and more creepy if the son in question was 312 months old, but, luckily, this youngster was a mere lad and therefore only raised a few eyebrows and instead of the suspicion of the neighborhood watch.

It’s going on two months since my son became room mates with two women and had to pretend to be gay so as not to raise the suspicion of their conservative and clueless landlord and that, of course, was Three’s Company. My son has become room mates with two women and two men, none of which pretend to be gay, except maybe their cat, who is suspiciously drawn to Broadway musicals.

Still this doesn’t mean hijinks and shenanigans don’t occur on a regular basis. It just means there’s no laugh track and none of the girls are dingbats or future spokespeople for the thighmaster.

The entire situation has thrown me through a loop, but I’ve always been pretty clumsy. On one hand, I want my son to live in the basement of my house and be at my beck and call when it comes to going out for breakfast or watching cat videos on youtube or just so I can mock him in person, but on the other hand…to be honest, there is no other hand. I just want him to live in my basement.

I suppose if he actually considered this his best option, I would doubt my fitness as a mother all the while we were going out to breakfast and I would, most certainly, be making fun of him for his lameness as it pertains to basements. Still, there would be the youtube sharing, but I guess that’s not enough to make life decisions by unless you want to make your mother happy and guilty at the same time, and who doesn’t?

His departure has made me question a number of things in my life. I wonder if I should have had a second child, a girl, maybe, with a sweet manner and the desire to make me happy at all costs. Then I look at the ghosts of their former selves, which are my friend with daughters, and realize that sugar and spice and everything nice business is crap, at least till the daughters move out of your house.

Still, as my friends with daughters sip their crack cocaine in the morning to prepare themselves for the eye rolling and lip curling which is female adolescence, I kind of envy them and wonder if it’s better to wish your child would hit the tricycle trail then to wish they would sit on your lap beyond the time it’s physically, psychologically, and socially a terrible idea for them to do so.

Other vital questions: Now that I’m no longer the mother of a child, does that mean I should stop signing him up for tee-ball in the spring? How many times can I tell the story of him saying “a little bite of Jesus” rather than “a taste of heaven” before the cashier at Jewel quits her job to become an inner city cop? Should I buy groceries for him to stave off scabies or let him eat globs of grease until he learns that Crisco is not a food group?

All in all, it’s part of the evolution of parenting from holding your breath in hopes that he’ll fall asleep so you can finally catch up on the four months of sleep you’ve missed since the introduction of baby monitors in your life, to holding your breath in hopes that he’s happy and safe and, to tell the truth, I still like the breath holding better than not having someone in the world that you made from scratch who may or may not cure cancer or write the next million selling record or introduce you to Chris Martin when that happens, so it’s all good, except for the fact that someone in that apartment is bound to write an wacky sitcom about his or her time living with these room mates and I’ll probably be played by Roseanne Barr as the overbearing, manipulative, nosey mother of the Jesse character, let’s call him Jorge Ponyboy, who barges into the apartment at the most inopportune times and hollers, “Don’t worry about me, I’m just a mother!” each time I arrive.

(The preceding run on sentence was brought to you by Nike.)

In real life, I have tried to control my urge to rent an apartment in the area where my son lives, mostly prompted by the order of protection he took out and I only considered calling my son Jorge Ponyboy for a brief time when he was about ten and discontinued the idea when I found out the amount of paperwork it takes to rename your 120 month old son.

Most of the time, I find better things to do than listen to this song and weep into my chocolate, and when I miss him too much, I drive the 45 minutes to his apartment and take him out to breakfast at Beatles and Bianca, (that’s an inside joke) because I’m glad he’s moving forward and enjoying his freedom and I hereby promise, if Jesse let’s me get away with this one last ode to missing him, I’ll find something else to talk about on my next blog. Maybe something new and surprising like how Chris Martin’s mom must have felt when he moved out.

Why My Son Uses Frowned Upon Language

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Why My Son Uses Frowned Upon Language

 

When my son was about two, he sat in my Pastor’s house, happily building with blocks in the middle of the living room floor. My husband and I were friends with the pastor and his wife Lori, because she said we had to be.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like them, it was just, growing up Catholic, it never occurred to me that you could be friends with your minister, let alone his wife, which would be a whole other kettle of fish. Turned out, the Pastor’s wife was, and is my kind of gal, but that’s not why you called.

Anyway, there was my cherubic son, wearing his OshKosh B’Gosh overalls and looking for all the world like the sweetest human being God ever put on the planet. OK, that’s probably just me, but I’m right.

As he built whatever he thought he was building, (he was darling but architecture wasn’t his strong point,” it all tumbled to the floor.

That's right, baby, D is for @#$%^!

That’s right, baby, D is for @#$%^!

He let loose with a dammit preceded by the name of the deity who should do so and then went back to his work. Silence ensued.

 

When I managed to raise my eyes to the pastor, he cocked an eyebrow. “Cable TV?” I offered feebly, knowing full well who was responsible; my husband and his potty mouth.

OK. That’s not quite true. Actually, of we’re going to be technical, it’s an out right lie. It was Lori.

Actually, as I’m sure anyone who knows me or any idiot off of the street, (I’m choosing not make a joke at the expense of those who know me and, those of you who do, know what a strain that is for me,) will assume without making an ass of either one of us, that my son’s unfortunate slip was simply an echo of what he’d heard while, as is the case with most mothers and children,
we were making cookies together using cookie cutters which would not release the dough.

I instantly regretted my words and vowed to watch my language. I didn’t, but I made that vow so that should count for something.

After another out-of-character tirade (for a two-year-old and not so much for a seasoned sailor,) spewed from the back seat of my car, aimed at a slow driving person in front of us, I realized I had to clean up my language and this time it stuck, unless I became unglued. (See what I did there?)

One exception is notable however and this isn’t really my fault. When my son was about seven, I was trying, unsuccessfully to change to bulbs in our ceiling fan/light fixture. Time after time, I attempted to screw the bulb in, which was nearly out of my reach, but not so much so that I easily gave up.

Finally, I thought I’d done it and, as I was crawling off of the official tool for screwing in light bulbs, my kitchen chair, the bulb and the surrounding fixture fell to the floor with an impressive crash.

I said something along the order of @#$%^&&^%$#$%^&*(*&^%$#$%^&*! And your mother too! You *&^%$%^&!

Almost immediately I remembered my son, quietly watching shows with little, to no profanity, in the next room and I went in to apologize. He was sitting on the edge of the recliner, his large eyes nearly double in size, causing him look a bit like animé and not in a particularly bad way, depending on your level of dorkiness.

I profusely apologized and explained it was very wrong for me to wish the maker of my ceiling fan a painful experience in his private regions.

“That’s ok, Mommy,” he said. “I didn’t even know those words could go together.”

So we both learned a valuable lesson that day.

Some time later, I was rewarded with a feeling of maternal progress when my son approached me and announced, “I know what the F word is!”

I sighed and explained that knowing it is ok, but saying it was not nice. He nodded and promised not to say it, but I could tell he was desperate to say it and who wouldn’t be? So, I gave him permission to tell me, just this once.

He could hardly contain his pride as he announced the word. “Shut up,” he said.

“That’s right!” I said, relief and amusement washing over me.

Later that week, while on the phone with a casual friend I recounted the story and, because amusement goeth before a fall, I gave the phone to my son and told him to tell my friend what the F word is.

He took the phone in his hands and said, “Fuck.”

My friend was very angry and didn’t see what was so funny about encouraging my young son to use filthy language. She is no longer my friend, not precisely because of that, but because when I told my real friends, including the soon to be ex-wife of my former pastor they belly laughed and that’s what you want in a friend.

Eventually, I reverted to my less than pristine language mostly because I believe words are words and some of them shouldn’t be set aside because someone (probably someone’s mother whilst burning her hand as she lit the castle’s candles) said they were bad.

My son is now 25 and I’d like to say he has learned to control his use of the F word, (which by the way, in case anyone is  still wondering, does not mean shut up), but this is not the case. In fact he sometimes uses that very phrase I used while destroying my ceiling fan and, rather unkindly points out that I have no one to blame but myself, which is true , but still not the kind of thing a mother wants to see written across her Mother’s Day cake.

Because I’m a time-and-place kind of potty mouth there are times I regret my behavior and, as an old person, I feel compelled to give advice to the young, not so much so they won’t traverse the same rocky road as I, but because, after I give them this unwanted advice and they head off into the sunset using the very road I warned them against, I can say, I told you so.

So, always remember, (here’s where young people hear the sound of the adults in the Peanuts cartoons so I could say just about anything, but still…) Do not watch cable TV (this was a type of entertainment which existed before satellites and the Internet) with your impressionable children and, what ever you do, don’t change light bulbs until they’re asleep.

Oh, and take your pastor’s wife out to lunch and ask her if she knows what the F word is.

Why Mothers Should Worry

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Explaining motherhood to the uninitiated can be difficult, especially when it comes to the love factor, because the type of love required to attach you to a person who comes into the world by forever altering your body for the worse is a 2,000 on a ten point love scale.

Whoever came up with integrating mother love into a female did a much better job than they did with say, gnats. Really, what’s the point with gnats? They simply live a life to irritate normal people who are just trying to enjoy the summer, much like family BBQs.

I remember telling a terrified acquaintance,who feared she wouldn’t love her infant, that she would feel overwhelming love for her own baby after introductions were made, even though there wasn’t a chance in the world that her baby would be as adorable as mine. After all, my son broke off my tail bone as a how-do-you-do and it only took three or four months to forgive him and treat him like a member of my family. (It took my dogs forever. They were really pissed about the tailbone thing, but it’s quite possible that they misunderstood what happened, as they often had a tendency to do when they were distracted by the word “bone.”)

I’m kidding about my reaction to the tailbone incident of 1988, of course; it wasn’t my son’s fault he had a head like a basketball; that lies with me. I can’t even try hats on in public because they sit on top of my skull like a thimble, thus making other shoppers think they are in a clown hat store and shop owners less than happy to see me.

Anyway, mothers-to-be tend to worry, and not just about the fact that her upcoming baby won’t hold a candle to mine. (and don’t let your baby hold a candle; that’s the number one rule.) Yet, unless your baby is a trouble maker, and most of them aren’t, as there is little trouble to be caused while lying in bed drooling, you don’t have to worry about baby generated nonsense, that’s for grown men.

At this point I’m going to pause and say, no first time mother has, or ever will believe this to be true. I guess you have to have more than one child to understand this from the get go. Because I have no back-up children, it took me a few years to truly understand this and you can ask the 24-year-old version of my Angel Bunny, who is, as we speak, yelling at Congress in my basement.

So, here’s a list of what you should worry about: is your baby, warm, fed, clean and not likely to hold candles? Yes? Now you can stop worrying unless spots appear and you don’t own a firstborn armed with a marker.

Worries can be as varied as the mothers who lie awake at night. (Trick point. All mothers like awake, their babies don’t let them sleep. A friend of a friend once worried that if God gave her an ugly baby, she wouldn’t know about it as she thought of all of her children as the most beautiful ever born. She was wrong, of course as we have already covered, but I’m sure her baby was pretty good.

Most mothers worry about situations that will never happen no matter how many times other mothers insist that they will. A favorite, in my situation, was that my mellow, loving baby with a head full of hair would, at most milestones, become bald and likely to pull a gun out of his diaper.

This never happened; not at nine months, not at two years, not at seven. My son didn’t become cranky until he learned about politics, and who can blame him? At that point, it was a Pandora’s box sort of thing, without the sexual connotation. Luckily, he rarely displays anger towards me unless I sing London Calling like Robert Goulet , so I didn’t become involved when he sent a hornet’s nest to a former member of his band because UPS wouldn’t deliver my box of exploding itching powder and something needed to be done.

Here’s the thing: for as long as you live, what makes your child angry, makes you angry, what makes your child sad, makes you sad, what gives your child joy…you get the idea. And that’s something to worry about.

Why Football is Not My Religion

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Recently, I created a new religion that I’ve only shared with a few people because if I announced the tenets to the general public, people would either believe or not believe and then there’d have to be a war.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, I won’t be watching. The game which the rest of the world calls “not football,” is just a small representation of war as far as I’m concerned, although there are no religious undertones, which rarely happens. There are those, however, who seem to enjoy football with a fervency of a southern Charismatic Church, in which case, amen and carry on.

Still, and don’t take this the wrong, to me football represents all of the things that are wrong with the world except for chewing loudly, which most likely happens at viewing parties, however, as far as I know, is not sanctioned by NFL.

The idea of football gives me another case of “Where the hell are their mothers?” syndrome, which was last examined in my post Why Mothers Would Ruin Les Miserables. (Football fans: Les Miserables is one of those musical things you’ve heard of which inexplicably involves sudden outbursts of song and Neil Patrick Harris, which is not that surprising. You might like this one, football fans as it has to do with war. Now, back to the game.)

Anyway, so your kid comes shuffling in and says, “Mom, I’m going to go to a large field and play a game where men the size of a bull and twice as hostile, will try to knock the stuffing from my innards (which is the best place for them) if I touch a ball shaped, ironically like a squashed head.”

If the mother is on the phone or watching Judge Judy of course, she will nod quickly and make the move along signal with her free hand. If the mother, however is actually listening she will say, “Do you need a ride to practice?” I’m serious! I’ve seen it happen!

**I want to take this opportunity to state emphatically; I am not criticizing any mothers. It has been my experience in life that 99.9% of all mothers are working at the peak of their game, giving parenthood all they can and then, crossing their fingers and hoping for the best, which is what we do at my church meetings.**

Now, back to the game: For better or for worse, if my son were to relay a request such as the one above I would, most likely respond with, “Over my dead body, let’s go see Les Miserables!” Given, most young men would not find this a satisfying alternative, but some will and that’s why we have the Tony Awards. (Football fans: it’s like the Super Bowl with no serious injuries except for hurt feelings…Feelings are something…never mind, it’s best you don’t know.) Now, back to the game. (I’m told these words are often used during football games and I want you folks to feel comfortable.)

Despite my pooh-poohing the idea of my son’s participation in football, however, he sustained a football injury and isn’t that always the way. He was in the end zone when another kid, who I was persuaded not to sue, ran right over him. My son, of course was sprawled out, drawing pictures of Star Wars Characters and it might be argued that he should have sketched in a less volatile environment, still…This all happened in third grade and I still have nightmares. I want to be clear about it, this actually happened and he won’t particularly like my sharing this, but football is dangerous and everyone should consider that.

Also, by my son’s avoidance of the sport, your sons (and occasional daughters) are safe from my wrath as evidenced by the time my kid was pushed by a fellow two-year-while I Jazzercised on the other side of a glass partition. I still find the occasional shard of glass in my teeth, although I’m told the child in question went on to live a perfectly normal life with only the smallest phobia of organized exercise.

There are those of you who might think I’ve tried to make my son less than macho, but the truth is, he came that way and I simply never tried to whip him into shape. We encouraged other sports, but a kid who is outraged at the rudeness of other players who take possession of a ball he is clearly playing with just doesn’t have the warrior spirit needed to knock out the teeth of his fellow four-year-olds.

Still you needn’t worry about him as he plays lead guitar in a rock band which seems to allay fear that I will not know a grandchild with my genetic material. For those of you that are worrying in that direction, please turn the page on your calendar, we’ve moved out of the 19th century, and whizzed past the twentieth. For those of you saying. “hehe…she said whizzed,” there’s no hope for you. Enjoy your raw meat.

Anyway, because a part of my religion deals with tolerance of those I don’t understand, I’ve had to internalize that football is something I will never understand but doesn’t necessarily make its participants or fans bad people; just people who are missing Animal Planet’s  Puppy Bowl IX; a game where teams are seldom formed and the worst thing that happens is pooping on the field, although you can’t tell me that doesn’t happen in the NFL from time to time.

I’ve come to the conclusion that while some people enjoy Wolverine, other’s understand that Jean Valjean is the greatest singing hero the world has ever known. Which is why Hugh Jackman has been elevated to sainthood in my religion, but has not reached the status of Chris Martin who should be aware that I’m considering an annual sacrifice.

With that, and because the Puppy Bowl starts in 40 minutes, I want to emphasize that no one should consider the previous paragraph as instruction to kidnap Hugh Jackman and demand he choose a side. Watch your Super bowl, spit out nachos as you yell at the team you support, complain about Beyonce as you smear chicken wings on your host’s couch, with my blessing.

Peace be with you. After the Super Bowl. Amen.

Why I Allow My Mom to Visit at Christmas

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So, my mom threw out my Christmas presents when she came to spend the holidays with me last week. I know what you’re thinking, “So? Doesn’t everyone’s mom throw out their Christmas presents?”

No you’re not thinking that. Although everyone’s mom has her idiosyncrasies; your mom may correct your grammar and another mom may try to give her adult child a bath in the kitchen sink since it worked well when they were a kid, my mom, however is, well…quirky. Yes, let’s use that word.

In this case, my mom tossed two gift cards while in the course of her duties; disposing of everything she doesn’t deem important in my home, i.e. everything on every flat surface. Unfortunately, having just opened my gifts, I set them in a decorative bowl on my coffee table, not realizing that the bowl did not circumvent the flat surface rule.

After sifting through my recycling and some stomach churning garbage, (turns out Christmas dinner looks way better on the dining room table than it does three days hence at the bottom of a plastic bag, just FYI,) I found my gift cards in a third garbage location and retrieved them. I have hidden them in a place so secret I will absolutely never remember where they are, but at least they won’t end up in a land fill along with all of the other things my mom intends to dispose of.

My mom is currently throwing things out at her girlfriend’s condo so I’m able to jot down a few words before looking for my dog who must have settled on a flat surface for just a moment too long.

I can’t help but wonder what I will someday do while visiting my son’s home which will make him wonder why he continues to invite me to stay. I can, however, share why he’ll open his door rather than pretend he’s in Fiji, a place he knows is too far for me to fly; he is alive.

Most everyone who belongs to that less than exclusive club owes a debt to a primary caregiver, most often a mother, for keeping them alive for the first three years of their life when the average child spends most of its waking hours testing the agility, mind and body, of the woman responsible for bringing them into the world.

Despite this bit of proprietary information, many of us continue to reproduce, secure in the idea that we, as the next (better informed) generation will find a way to raise versions of ourselves without repeating the words which have been passed down, generation after generation just before another sun rises on our precious baby’s newest day. “Just go the !@#$%^ to sleep you little !@#$%^,” a phrase first uttered by Eve resulting in her expulsion from paradise along with Adam, who was pretending he was asleep. The apple thing was invented to avoid using blue language in Genesis.

Once a child is mobile, a stage for which many parents inexplicably long for reasons only evolution can explain, children become tiny drunks and drug addicts, stumbling from one misadventure to the next with nary a backward glance at their harried caregivers who are charged with coming up with funny stories about their child’s near death experiences twenty years hence.

My son, who was apparently a light drinker, had few near death experiences. The most vivid in my mind was when he was a new walker and had followed my husband and I into our walk-in closet. Why we were compelled to meet there, I no longer remember, but I do remember glancing in the direction he normally occupied (south) and finding a dog, which held many of his endearing properties, but none of my DNA resulting in my preference for the baby who was standing thirty feet away at the top of my winding staircase.

He was a charming fellow even then, and before I could react to his precarious situation, he smiled, waved (if he’s been wearing a hat, I swear he would have tipped it,) and said one of his newer phrases, “Bye-bye,” before stepping out with no apparent deference to the lack of solid footing. (He also said, hi, mama, Dindy and Ernie, none of which suited the situation, but I don’t want you, the reader, to consider him a dolt, which you might after the following paragraph, so I added them.)

You know how, in movies, when something is going to happen to Bruce Willis’ or Samuel Jackson’s family, the action turns to slow motion and the hero screams, “nooooooooooooo,” as he runs to save his beloved family at the pace of a LA traffic jam? There’s a reason for that, it’s called reality. As my newly upright son stepped out without the smallest clue that the largest percentage of household accidents are caused by the lack of ability when it comes to descending stairs, (sticking your wet fingers into electrical sockets is the second most dangerous of household injuries, both of which are seldom experienced by the over two set,) my son had tumbled all the way down the stairs and I had yet to complete the final o! even as gravity released him.

Obviously, he turned out OK and that’s the story we’re sticking with (and you’re welcome, Jesse.) I credit his diaper. We’ll never know how many injuries have been evaded by a lack of potty training.

There were other near misses, most of them caused by me with complete lack of malice, such as attempting to cut his baby nails and taking a bit of pinkie with them and letting the young boy place the palm of his hand on the automatic folding headlights of my car which, surprise! close when you turn off the ignition even if a small hand is still exploring.

Every parent knows that the terror involved with raising a child, coupled with the crippling love, ages a person, which would be a great deterrent to premarital sex if we could only convey the nauseating reality to teens. On the bright side, it guarantees an open door policy at our grown child’s residence when they make the mistake of publicizing their address.

Whether our moms were the squishy, puddled adoration type, (me) or the practical you’ll do-as-I-say-or (insert vague threat here) kind, they loved us and still see us as kids. How do I know? Because my little man is the most darling and precious Angel Bunny in all the land, plus he looks even cuter when his beard grows out.

There are times (like when I spit on a finger and clean a whoopsie from his face after following him in a car while he participates in an adult ritual with a hussy) he probably wishes I was the alternative mom, which is, in essence, more what my mom is, but there’s no changing horses mid-stream or leaving your mom in a rest room in London, which wouldn’t really bother me that much, because I know where Paul McCartney’s house is and where Coldplay’s office/rehearsal space is, so…

Anyway. My mom flies in from Atlanta where she moved while I was on my honeymoon in London thirty four years ago. (It’s kind of theme.) Since I live in Chicago, this an example of how different we are as mothers. Get this, my son wants to move to London, (See? A theme!) but has been unable to, thus far because I have shackled him in the basement, where I intend to keep him until he realizes he can’t bear to live outside of a half a miles distance from his mom.

OK, you’re probably thinking, “Poor guy. His mother’s a @#$% nut.” You should know, however, that I’m just making a literary point with exaggeration. He probably could live as far away as say, the post office without breaking my heart. (This is called mommy guilt of which I am Elvis.)

Here we find ourselves returning to the original premise of this missive and by the time you read it, my mother will have arrived and will have been telling me the same stories for at least 72 hours, if you take out for sleep and disapproval of how much money I spend taking her to nice places and after-Christmas sales. (She will also tell family members about what a nice time she had after the fact, so it’s a yin yang sort of situation.)

Other certainties of my mother’s visit: she will claim credit for any talent I have as a writer. (This is not the time to criticize.) She will claim credit for my son’s talent as a musician. She will clean my house (and I will be grateful once she tells me where the dog is). She will sort the gargantuan pile of what I consider single socks and find at least fifty pairs. She will sing songs she doesn’t know by repeating the lyrics a beat after the singer. She will chew and we all know how irritating THAT can be. She will tell me about an ailment she believes can be cured by something she read in the back of the National Enquirer and she will cry when she has to go.

I will cry too, naturally. I will also feel guilty for any irritation that I feel during her visit because I realize by virtue of my own motherhood that someday my son will choose to move someplace where seeing him will be a sometime thing and while I visit, I’ll find ways to irritate him even though I only want to be in his presence.

Also, I owe her for getting me through the first three years of life, relatively unscathed, if you don’t count my unfortunate habit of setting items on surfaces.

Why People Standing in Line to See Santa Will Hate Me

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Why People Standing in Line to See Santa Will Hate Me

I’m about to say something so subversive, so controversial, that many of you will become incensed and never read anything written by me again; not only these attempts at humor, but hard news such as: Asteroid Headed Toward Particular Person’s House and No One Else’s. Details Below. (I also have a novel I’ve been working on so you can avoid that one as well, just in the spirit of full disclosure.) Are we all clear? I’m going to say this and once you’ve read this, you can’t unread it. OK. Here goes; your kid does not need to sit on Santa’s lap.

There are those of you who are suddenly exhausted and that’s from the adrenaline that is now draining from your system because you were expecting rage and you’re now puzzled and slightly disappointed. “Of course, Shehe (a unisex name) doesn’t need to see Santa,” You’re probably saying as you wipe the sweat from your eye. “Shehe wants to.”

“In fact ,” You continue. “Little Shehe has a list, adorably scribbled with crayon on my finest stationary. to present to the real Santa, even though, since Macy’s ate up Marshall Field’s, the Chicago tykes are out of luck.”

I agree with you about Marshall Field’s and remember stationery? Many us, mostly women had matching sheets of paper which coördinated with the envelopes which we used to correspond with one another, not because it was charming, but because phone calls were very expensive and we wanted to be sure another person hadn’t been dragged away by a sabre tooth tiger or other prehistoric animal. The paper was an expense but lighter than the stone tablets we had used prior.

Yes, you’re right, I was stalling. I had something to say and you misunderstood and I could leave it at that, but since I’ve come this far…

Shehe doesn’t have to sit on Santa’s lap and sometimes…sometimes Shehe doesn’t want to sit on Santa’s lap and here’s why: Although Santa seems benevolent and harmless on TV and in books and the occasional really atrocious movie, (why are movies and programs about Santa, made before the 1970s almost always heartwarming and reassuring if you don’t count Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and thereafter, a little off putting and less then friendly. Even Tom Hanks, who my husband credits for everything good, is a little scary in The Midnight Express.)

Anyway, that’s my opinion.

Yes, you’re right, I not only left the last paragraph concerning Santa unfinished but I’m trying to weasel out on the premise of this column, which is…stop forcing your small person to sit on the laugh of the jolly old elf at the mall. First of all, he’s hardly an elf, he’s lest elfin than your average football player, even if that football player is European and is actually a player of soccer because Americans are always right about stuff.

Don’t misunderstand me and I couldn’t blame you if you did, because my writing tends to make so many twists and turns that it might be perceived as not having a point when it simply has no map. If your small-sized person, or even Santa matching person, wants to sit on Santa’s lap, (Santa presumably knew what he was getting into when he signed up to be jolly and not take notice of anyone’s weight,) then that person should have a set on Mr Claus’s ample lap and read off their wish list. For those of you who want to stay longer than it takes to accomplish this, remember, Santa has security.

However, if your very tiniest of human beings writes out their list, begs to visit Santa, which requires driving, not only over the river but through the darn woods which don’t have street lights and then parking amidst people who consider finding the a spot akin to proving their worth as a human being (see if it’s me before you give me the proverbial finger,) making your way through shoulder to shoulder shoppers who are waiting for one more shove before going all rabid badger on people and then standing in a line long enough to make you think that Paul McCartney may be giving out kisses at the other end, (I thought I’d give Chris Martin a break, plus I’m not a big sharer, in addition to the fact that Paul McCartney is the longest living cute boy and therefore I, as would many, get in the longest of lines to receive a kiss and tell him how I love him more than all my fellow liners,) only to find, that once your tot is face to face with Santa, the old guy strikes terror into their tiny heart, please, please give them a tiny break.

There, I’ve said it. Said what? You missed it? Well, I surely didn’t mean for that to happen! Well, bless us everyone and Merry Christmas!

All right, what I, in essence, said was; stop handing your frantically terrified less-than-adult person to a strange man and demanding that they sit atop his enormous lap and stay there while evidence is attained before taking them home and tucking them into bed and leaving them to their vision of large, white haired men carrying them off while their parents wave and take pictures.

There, I’ve said it. I’m sure some of you are angry and maybe even accusing me of being a socialist for whatever reason, but that’s my stand and I’m sticking to it, mostly because I’ve been eating Christmas treats while writing this and finding that typing and candy are not only mutually exclusive but, most likely and expensive fix.

I have this tirade once a year with little to no support, much like those boys at the barricade in Les Miz. Something usually sparks my indignation on behalf of my favorite sub-section of people: the little people made from scratch in homes (and less than savory locations) across the nation who have yet to differentiate between fantasy and reality and I don’t mean my mom, although she would qualify.

We all know the real Santa Claus is a person who lives up North and is currently wondering if Global Warming is going to make his home and workplace into a lake side villa. At the same time, he is generally loving the children of the world and making plans to sneak into their homes in the middle of the night to leave items in accordance with their behavior which he has been monitoring and judging during the previous year. He’s just that jolly!

Why should that scare little folks? Who knows! They’re probably a little put off at Halloween when, dressed up as princesses and superheroes, they travel door-to-door to receive candy when someone suddenly some one arises from dead leaves with a meat cleaver and threatens to murder them. They can be sensitive as a group.

So, how about, when your child cuddles up with Santa to tell him what they hope to find under the tree, we take a photo to cry over when they are old enough to have children of their own but don’t, just to spite you. And, when they go rigid with fear, pee their pants and beg their primary caregiver not to deliver them over to the focus of their fear, how about we either sit with them, (giving adults the chance to hand over their list of Christmas desires which will probably send the old guy skittering into obscurity) or let them stand close to, but not on top of, Santa, or, tip our hats (go on, do it, it feels so Fred Astaire-y) wish Kris Kringle a Merry Christmas and try again next year?

Or not.