All Are Punnish’ed

I was talking to a mom at the baseball field last weekend.  Her son is on Kid D’s team, the Padres.  She also has a daughter in 5th grade and another son in high school.  He is 16.  We were bonding over the scourge of parenting teenagers.  Because that crapfest is more complex than a Gordian knot.

Gordius was the King of the capital city of ancient Phyrigia (located in the Ankara Province of Turkey).  He tied an intricate knot and prophesied that whoever untied it would become the ruler of Asia.  According to ancient tradition (and Wikipedia), Alexander the Great simply walked over and lopped that thing off with his sword.  And guess who was King of Asia from 331 – 323 BC?

Way to think outside the box, ATG!

Way to think outside the box, ATG!

As far as I can tell, one of the big hurdles with kids seems to revolve around one central theme… honesty.  Even the best of them are inclined toward half-truths and omissions.  “It is easier to get forgiveness than permission” is the song of their people.  There are various degrees of lies being told and sundry ‘failed-to-mentions’ which they are failing to mention.  And there does not always seem to be sound reasoning for the lack of candor.  One of my kids lied the other day about taking a shower.  To what end, you dummy?  I just don’t get it.

So, when you kids get caught – oh, and you will get caught – whether it is for throwing a party at your house when your parents go out of town for the weekend, or for picking your boyfriend up before school even though it has been explicitly prohibited because of the very unsafe left turn out of his neighborhood, or for wearing yoga pants out in public even after your father has said very clearly and with very little exception, “NO YOGA PANTS TO SCHOOL,” we, as your parents, have to come up with suitable and effective penances in order to deter this bad habit.

Sheepdog and I over the years have employed penalties that run the standard gamut from ‘go to your room’ to ‘give up your phone.’  We have explained that lying begets more lying, it does no one – the liar or the person being lied to – any good, and, most importantly, it hurts your heart by causing guilt.  It has proven most effective with our kids when there is a retributive theory of justice (the punishment fits the crime), but also when the punishment is tailored to the offender.  I once heard a story from a mom who kept a pile of bricks in her backyard, which she would make her very logical son move from one location to the next for absolutely no purpose whatsoever, whenever he deserved punishment.  Another mom made her daughter hold a sign up at a busy neighborhood intersection that said “I disrespected my parents by twerking at a school dance.”  Now that’s hardcore.  But was it actually effective with those particular kids?  That is the ultimate question when it comes to punishments.

Recently, Kid A was making some bad choices.  Sheepdog and I sat her down and yelled had a discussion with her about the behaviors we wanted her to adjust.  As incentive for her prompt alterations, we decided that she, an 18-year-old girl who has been driving her own car for two years, had to ride the dreaded bus to school.  Dun dun dun!

Who says parenting can't be fun?

Who says parenting can’t be fun?

Shortly after I texted Sheepdog, Kid A sent me a message that her boyfriend had just broken up with her.  It was not a huge surprise given recent events, but she was still sad about it.

IMG_0223

And now she’s all mad at me.  Whatever.  I’m just sitting here, trying to cut my way through this giant knot.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Things We Share and Things We Keep to Ourselves

As it so happens, more often than not these days, it was just me and the boys at home on Friday night.  Kid C was sleeping at a friend’s house, Kid B was at the high school to watch baseball and soccer games, and Kid A was at a meet and greet for her currently number one college choice (Go Jackets!).  Sheepdog was working late.

I wanted to make a nice dinner since I hadn’t cooked very much since we got back from our vacation.  I bought some steaks and planned to grill them for Sheepdog and myself after I put the boys to bed.  The boys, however, were getting peanut butter sandwiches and calling it a night.  I wasn’t wasting good, grass-fed beef on those ingrates (“It takes too many bites for me to chew it all up!“).  No problem.  More yummy cow for me and your father.

But first, I needed to take a shower.  If you’re going to woo your husband, you need to start with the basics (although ‘dirty’ is rarely a deterrent when it comes to my husband and lovin’).

So I spread the peanut butter, poured the milk, and turned on the SpongeBob.  I set the boys up for success and asked them to please give me ten minutes.  Don’t answer the phone.  Don’t answer the door.  No one goes in or out.  No couch jumping, stair diving, or playing baseball in the living room.  Please try not to hit your head on anything (it happens more often that you can imagine).  Come get me immediately if someone is choking.

I went upstairs.  And miracle of all miracles, I actually got to take an uninterrupted, hot shower.  I even shaved my legs.

I came back downstairs and praised both boys for their excellent behavior and ability to follow directions.  Their faces beamed and their chests swelled from the accolades.  Then I noticed a notepad sitting out on the counter.  I asked Kid D if he was starting a new grocery list.

“Oh, no, Mom, ” said Kid D, matter-of-factly. “Someone knocked on the door while you were in the shower.”

“…aaaaand?…” I prompted him to link it back to the notepad by waving it about in the air.  “Who was at the door and what exactly did you do?”

“A man was at the door.  I didn’t know who he was.”

Awesome.

“So I told him to hold on a minute and I came in here and wrote a note.”

Oh, crap.

“And then I took it to the door and held it up for him to see.  And I never opened the door, Mom.  Because I know that I am not supposed to ever open the door without you right here.  I just showed him the note.  The man smiled and said he would come back later.”

"Gary was just taking a shit."  Bathroom meeting, Weird Science (1985)

“Gary was just taking a shit.” Bathroom meeting scene, Weird Science (1985)

It says, “My mom is in the bathroom.”  Apparently, I need to teach some more stranger danger lessons around here.  And maybe a lesson or two about “things we share and things we keep to ourselves.”

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

************************************************************

About an hour later, I received a message on Facebook from a friend in the neighborhood.

Mystery man identified.

Joy to the World

OK, so I’ve been a total slacker lately.  First, all of this horrific winter weather crap happened.  I don’t know if I have seasonal depression, or just depression depression, but I was definitely on the verge of curling into a ball in the corner.  Then Sheepdog and I escaped for eight days in Mexico.  It was glorious… sun, exercise, quality time with my husband (high-five to us for breaking the headboard), and complete autonomy over my day.  It was complete and total bliss in paradise.

It physically hurts me to look at this picture right now.

It physically pains me to look at this picture right now.

But everything has a price, so we returned to a gaggle of kids with multiple versions of the plague.  The only place I got to show off my tan was at the stupid doctors’ office.  I mean, the kid who puked on the floor in front of the check-in desk didn’t even mention my glow.  Not once, the selfish little bastard.  What a complete and total waste.

It already feels like a month has passed since our trip, yet we have been home fewer than six days.

But I think it is safe to say that things are starting to turn around for us in the health department.  Antibiotics and other various medicines have started to work, viruses are running their course, and quarantines have subsequently been lifted.  And today, praise generic zithromax, everybody left the house for work and school at their regularly scheduled times.

But not before a few of us had a morning hang-out in my bed, starting somewhere around the six o’clock hour.

First to crawl in with Sheepdog and me was Kid E.  He succumbed to a stomach bug earlier this week, but rallied within 24 hours.  I attribute this exclusively to the fact that he has finally been named Star Student in his kindergarten class, with his reign to begin next Monday.  It also happens to be his exact half-birthday.  “Abuzz with excitement” is a bit of an understatement when it comes to describing this kid right now.  We even already started filling out his information packet, which lists facts and favorites about him.

Family Pets: Robo Fish.  Why, yes, it is battery-operated.  Mainly because the mother can't handle taking care of even one more living thing right now.

Family Pets: Robo Fish. Why, yes, it is battery-operated inside of an empty, plastic bowl. Mainly because his mother can’t handle one more living thing right now.  Case in point: the dead, yellow leaf in the middle of the potted plant.  Don’t you judge me.

Much of our conversation this morning consisted of him asking questions about himself (Q: What is something special I have done for someone else?), followed by me prompting/ providing answers (A: Well, you brought home all of that homework for your big brother, who has already missed four days of school this week.)

Please, please, please do me a solid and let him be well enough to go back to school today.

As if on cue, Kid D bounded into our room and crawled on in with us.  Kid C arrived shortly thereafter and squeezed in as well.  Everyone was feeling good and planned on going about their regularly scheduled programming.  Joy to the world!

This week I have been overwhelmed upon re-entry to my real life.  I have post-vacation blues.  I am tired.  I am sick of everybody getting sick.  So I am sitting here, watching the rain fall outside my office window, daydreaming that I am out by the pool in the warm sun with a cold beer in my hand.  At 9:42 in the morning.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…