Guess What We Learned in School Today?

When we get to have dinner at the table like civilized people we will often go around and everybody will tell a little something about their day.  Last night only Kid B was out of the house for soccer practice, so the rest of us were chatting it up together, all whilst eating a yummy spread of ham, homemade mac and cheese, mixed veggies and a salad (I’m trying to prove to Sheepdog that I really need this new and improved kitchen by reminding him that I can do more than order from the Pearl Lian).  It is a nice family ritual and keeps us all connected to each other.  Everybody had a lot to say last night, mostly about what had been happening the first week of school.

Kid E started with, “I went to school today…” (no he didn’t).  Then he proceeded to tell us all exactly what he ate, what he played, and how many times he went to the bathroom.  I cut him off at the pass and gave the floor to Kid D.

Kid D presumably had something of substance to say, but he is easily rerouted to potty humor (he is the apple and I am the tree) so we then heard some nonsensical story about poop from him.  Enough.  We were eating a nice dinner for goodness’ sake, and I’m trying to butter up Sheepdog for the new kitchen.  You kids are killing me here!

Kid C was kind of giggly and way into her mac and cheese (score for mom’s kitchen!) and she didn’t have much to add to the conversation, so Kid A took over.  First order of business was to ask her father if she could go to dinner and a movie on Saturday night with her boyfriend.  He is a senior and she is a sophomore, by the way.  He’s a very nice boy and I actually like him.  He is very sweet and respectful to her.  At the same time, though, I once dated a boy who was a senior and I remember what was always on his mind.  No wonder Sheepdog feels the need to buy another gun.  Ugh!

Then Kid A talked about what she learned in Spanish class.  I thought she was going to tell a story, but turns out it was a joke.

A guy walks into a bar.  He notices a man in the corner with a teeny, tiny piano player who is accepting song requests for money.   They are causing quite a commotion, so he asks the bartender about them.
“Oh, there’s some homeless man in the alley who will grant you a wish if you buy him dinner,” said the bartender.
So the man buys a pizza and delivers it to the homeless man in the alley.  The homeless man thanks him and then offers to grant him one wish in return.
The man thinks for a moment.  “I would really like a million bucks,” he says.
Before he knows it, hundreds of thousands of ducks start raining down from above.  The man is disappointed and confused, so he goes back into the bar and approaches the man in the corner.
“I don’t know what just happened.  I asked the homeless man for a million bucks, yet he gave me a million ducks.”
“Tell me about it, man.  Do you think that I actually asked for a 10-inch pianist?”
I at least hope that she learned it en Espanol.  So much for a nice family dinner… two poop stories and a penis joke.  I’m never going to get a new kitchen now.

Wish me luck for the weekend…

Well That’s Disgusting

Ahhh, the Good Old Days when this was all we were concerned about

With Atlanta’s continued severe weather alerts due to temperatures peaking in the mid to high nineties (and the accompanying air quality alerts and heat advisories) continuing throughout this week, one of my only options will be to load up the kids, some towels and our diving toys and head on out to the neighborhood pool.  Oh, wait.  Nevermind.  We won’t be doing that because somebody keeps pooping in the pool.

We have probably received no less than ten notices over the past few years that the neighborhood pool is closed for anywhere from 24 to 48 hours “due to fecal contamination.”  I know… it makes me throw up a little too (but I do it in my mouth, not in a community recreational area).  It is foul and disgusting, not to mention incredibly inconvenient to the rest of the neighbors in the ‘hood when our pool gets shut down.

Don’t get me wrong… I am extremely happy that our Pool Powers That Be are following the CDC’s “Fecal Incident Response Recommendations for Pool Staff” (oh, come on – you knew that there had to be one!) in order to protect us all from recreational water illnesses that can result from ingestion by swimmers of pool water that may or may not contain Cryptosporidium, Giardia, E. coli 0157:H7, or Shigella.  Yummy!   The CDC goes on to classify different increasing levels of contamination (based upon causation by vomit, formed stool, or diarrhea) and the quantity of chlorine concentration and disinfection time necessary to successfully remove/ eradicate each (just skim it out, 3.0 ppm for 19 minutes, and blow up the pool and start over, respectively).  All this crap (pun intended) is putting a serious crimp in my summer agenda.

So the question is… What do we do about it?  Do we gently remind everyone to take young children for regular, preemptive potty breaks and to always wear their swim diapers?  Do we also remind people that anyone who has had stomach issues, a respiratory illness, or sickness of any kind (with or without diarrhea, just to be safe) should stay out of the public pool for at least a full week?  Do we go all Joe McCarthy on them and print the names of the guilty parties in the monthly newsletter, like the Police Blotter reports of the DWI incidents in the Johns Creek Herald?  Or do we ban the perps from the pool for the rest of the season?

I can tell you that none of that will serve to eliminate (pun intended) the issue.  And being familiar with lawyers, I can guarantee that somebody will no doubt cry “Discrimination!” because people have no shame.  Plus, accidents happen, especially when it comes to little kids and poop.  We will continue to receive fecal contamination notices throughout the summer and we just have to deal with it.

My suggestion in lieu of public flogging of the guilty (which I would still TOTALLY still support in the case of a-hole teenagers who think it is a funny prank to throw dog poop into our pool) we should have a “Poop in the Food/ Drinks, Not in Our Pool Party,” where we would offer specialty drinks, Baby Ruth candy bars, and sweet corn pudding.  I found this recipe on the internet, so I’m sure that with a little effort we could find many, many more.

Poop in the Pool Cocktail

2 oz chilled Blue Curacao liqueur (or blue Kool-Aid for the kiddies)
1 small Tootsie roll candy
Pour the Curacao into a shot glass and drop in a Tootsie Roll

Cheers! And I’ll see you at the pool (at least 24 – 48 hours after the next hyperchlorination, just to be safe).

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

When You Gotta Go…

One of the things I have always loved about little kids is that they are as real as it gets.  There is rarely any ulterior motive or mind games or hidden meaning behind their words or actions.  If they are hungry, they ask for food.  If they are tired, they will fall asleep.  If they have to go, they go.  And they tell it like it is.

Mommy is Number One; Daddy is Number Two

Kid E is sufficiently potty trained and has been for a while now.  The problem is that he is too short to pee into the bowl and shake without making a mess every time.  And yes, I tried having him use a stool and I did not enjoy having him pee up onto the back of the toilet bowl or even one time the bathroom counter, just because he could reach up there.  Our solution was to have him sit on the toilet.  He very quickly developed the annoying habit of needing to take everything off (pants, underpants, shoes AND socks) each time he went.  It was a complete pain.  Being the mature parents that Sheepdog and I are, we both took to pretending that we did not hear Kid E when he announced that he had to go to the bathroom (I am an excellent fake sleeper).  Never one to give up on shirking the really mundane parenting duties, Sheepdog and I upped our ante and started hiding when he called us.  Kid E is a smart bugger, so he has now assigned specific tasks to each of us… I cover the Number Ones and Sheepdog gets to handle the Number Twos.  This solution is fine, except that Kid E has developed a shorthand speak about it and now he just yells out, “Mommy is pee!,” or “Daddy is poop!”  And he doesn’t even get in trouble for calling us names because he is just telling it like it is.

May the force be with you. Just be sure to put the seat down when you're done.

Toilet Star Wars

Kid E is getting taller every day, and he can usually reach the bowl standing up.  Since Sheepdog and I are completely over the removal of every article of clothing below the belt every time Kid E has to go, we are thrilled about it.  While staying at my mom and dad’s house for our ridiculously long family trip we have had some issues with everyone having to go at the same time, however, and not enough free bathrooms available to satisfy that need.  So one time Kid D and Kid E both had to go (right now!) and I told them to just go at the same time in the same potty.  As you can imagine, their streams crossed in an “X” formation and a lightsaber duel ensued.  Now I swear they are synched up to always go at the same time (right now!) just so they can fight it out Sith style over the bowl.  Boys are so gross.

Just Go In The Ocean

This story is an older one as Kid C is ten years old now, but it is quite applicable to today’s post so I am including it.  Years ago we were enjoying a beautiful beach day and Kid C decided that she needed to pee.  Quick, fast and in a hurry.  She was about three or four years old at the time and Kid D was just a baby and my hands were full (probably breastfeeding him without anyone being any the wiser on the beach because I am full of all kinds of talents), so I told her to just go in the waves and pee right there.  She looked at me like I was an alien, but I reassured her that all the little kids did it and no one would know so she should just go down to the water’s edge, whistle like nothing was happening and just let go.  Little kid pee is mostly water anyway.  She walked away like I was the crazy one but she really had to go, so off she went down past the lifeguard stand to relieve herself.  Next thing I know she was doing just that.  Except I did not think to clarify the subtlety of the maneuver and she had completely removed her bathing suit and was mimicking a sitting position, just as she would if she were on an actual potty – naked as a jaybird with pee clearly running down her leg.  Smooth.  I pretended that she wasn’t my kid for the rest of the day.

You Have to What?

We were at a friend’s pool yesterday after a nice beach day just as all of the BBQ and firework festivities began.  My kids are part fish, so they were swimming up a storm.  Not much can get them out of the water once they are in.  The only exceptions are lightning and bathroom breaks.  When the latter struck, Kid D ran out of the pool soaking wet, screaming with total abandon, “I have to poop!”  He did not care that absolutely everyone at the party (probably everyone in the town) had heard him.  He didn’t care that the very cute little girl who lived there was taking him by the hand to show him where the bathroom was and she was fully aware that he was about to drop a deuce.  He just didn’t give a sh!t.

It is awesome to me how simple being a kid can be.  I hope for my kids that they get to experience that feeling for as long as possible.  No worries.  Do what you like.  Say what you mean without worrying what other people think.  And next time you have to go, just walk down to the water’s edge, strip naked and let go.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Are You There God? It’s Me, Crazy Lady.

I am suggesting a different type of prayer in the bathroom, but do whatever works for you

This morning started off swimmingly… I awoke with a start just after six a.m. as what I perceived to be Godzilla (turned out it was only Kid D) was stomping down my hallway, yelling at top volume about nothing in particular, turning on every light along his route and opening and closing every door “just because.”  Of course he woke his little brother, who was up too late last night and desperately needed to sleep in this morning.  Kid E came into my room in a foul, foul mood… extra whiny, croup-like coughing, hug-me-but-don’t-touch-me, “I gotta pee” and just plain miserable.  Kid C was upset that her hair wasn’t looking just right and wanted me to straighten it for her (she has been ten-years-old for about five minutes… no I am not using a heating appliance on her hair.  What is this?  Toddlers & Tiaras?).  Kid A was harboring residual teenage anger at me for not trying hard enough to rearrange the schedule for her to go in late to school yesterday or be able to see her boyfriend tonight, and somehow (and I DO NOT understand how), Kid B managed to sleep through all of this and almost miss her school bus, thus requiring me to drive her to school this morning.

It was too early (well, anything before ten a.m. is technically “too early” in my book).  I hadn’t even put my contacts in yet, let alone started my coffee i.v. and all of this was barreling down on me already.  Let me check the calendar – wasn’t Friday the 13th just last week?  And, dammit, when is Sheepdog coming home?  The “Yelling Mom” part of me wanted to shout from the rooftop for all of them to just shut the front door.  Sometimes you can stop the insanity by simply being so loud and insane yourself that your over-the-top meltdown trumps everything else and they all stop to watch your spiral into complete lunacy.  I’ve done that before and it can be effective.  Kid C was about two-years-old or so and having a nice screaming fit in the car seat behind Sheepdog, who was in the driver’s seat.  We hadn’t even pulled out of the driveway yet and I had had enough, so I turned around from the passenger seat and I looked at her and I just screamed at the top of my lungs.  Let’s just say that I caught everyone off guard and it’s probably a good thing that Kid C was still wearing diapers at that moment, but she stopped her fit.

So I’m lying in my bed this morning, having pulled all of the pillows over my head to pretend I am anywhere but there and chanting ever so softly, “Eff, eff, eff, eff, eff, eff me” and basically being the guest of honor at my own little pity party.  I was going over the planned events for the day and dreading all that I needed to accomplish was never going to have enough time for and basically setting a really bad tone for my day.  And I already knew that the kids were queering up the mojo this morning, so they wouldn’t be any help.  But then I stopped.  I mentally popped all of the black balloons at my pity party.  I remembered something that Sheepdog is teaching me, and I began to meditate.

Meditation for Moms is not easy.  True meditation calls for silence and a mental escape to your happy place.  How am I ever supposed to do that when I’m usually being beaten over the head (either literally with a toy or metaphorically with constant demands or questions or requests)?  I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Tell them all that you have to poop, then lock yourself in the bathroom.  It usually buys about two minutes of uninterrupted time, which is just enough for a quick request for peace, patience and clarity.  My family thinks that I poop all the time.  It is such a great plan that I don’t even care if they tell their friends.

Alone for just a few precious seconds, I quietly whisper, “Are you there God?  It’s me, Crazy Lady.”  And I ask for help and strength and patience and creative solutions and generosity of spirit, because all of those things are missing or almost depleted from my stockpiles.  I pray for the Kids and I pray for Sheepdog, especially if they are struggling.  And I also ask for thinner thighs, even though I’m not supposed to do that.  And then, if I have time, I pray for the people who I don’t really like, especially the idiots.  By then there has almost always been at least one knock on the bathroom door and I am pulled away from thoughts of warm sand between my toes.  But by then it is okay.  I take a deep breath as I flush the toilet for effect, ready to face what challenges lie ahead of me today.

Can I get an Amen?  And can Sheepdog please come home soon, because this single-parenting thing is definitely for the birds.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

If You Have to Poop, Go Home

I met a new friend a few months ago. Her son was playing mixed doubles tennis with Kid C.  Kid C just took up tennis for the first time this winter. She’s playing well, but she just does not have much experience and she is still pretty timid with the ball.  Plus, there was something shiny up in the sky that probably distracted her.  Her partner was not at all thrilled with her level of play, but fortunately not much fazes Kid C.  They lost the match even though it was pretty close.  Kid C even commented in the car on the way home, “Today was really a great day, mom!”  You’ve got to love that kind of enthusiasm and positivity.

Even though the other kid was John McEnroe competitive, his mom was great.  We talked on the bench while the match was going on and I learned that she was living in a house on the corner that I admire every time I pass by.  There is a big black lab in the front yard who takes his guard duties very seriously.  There are always great seasonal decorations throughout the year.  It just looks like a really fun house to live in.  But most importantly, there is always a football game going on in their front yard.  The boys are in the eight to ten-year old range (I’m guessing) and they are always out there playing. My oldest son (Kid D) is only six and is more of a baseball kid.  I always say that I’m just going to send him on down to that house to toughen up and learn to play some real sports.

So when I tell the football house mom this, she proceeds to tell me that she has become somewhat of a tough cookie when it comes to playing at her house.  This is obviously not her first rodeo. Here are the rules for playing at  her house:

  1. If you are a cry baby, don’t even show up.
  2. If they’re playing tackle and somebody gets hurt or maimed, it is an automatic switch to flag.
  3. This isn’t a restaurant, so don’t expect food or drinks.
  4. If you have to pee, go outside.
  5. If you have to poop, go home.

I am guessing that she has had to learn some lessons the hard way.  Despite these rules, and her unrelenting enforcement of them, her yard is always full of kids (and oftentimes dads too).  They are always running and playing and yelling.  It makes me smile every time I pass by.  There is something to be said for letting people know your rules.

Try to make a short list of your own house rules.  Write them down and display them where everybody can see them.  That way there is no question when it comes to your expectations.  You can make them about anything.  Try starting with things you find yourself saying over a hundred times per day.  No hitting.  No whining.  No jumping on the furniture.  Speak kindly to one another.  Do your chores without being asked.  No cursing before lunchtime.  No entertaining guests in your bedroom.  And, of course, if you have to poop, go home.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…