Did I Tell You The One Where Christmas Break Would Not End?

1476175_10202797128275919_1196886460_nTeachers everywhere were rejoicing. Of that I have no doubt. It started all extra-nice. (See above photo for evidence.)  It was snowy outside, warm and cozy inside, and the boys loved each other. I was having visions of piling up on the soda, toasty warm, watching our favorite movies, reading our favorite books. Cocoa would be in hand, complete with marshmallows. Zach in his footed pj’s, Evan in his flannel sleep pants, me in sweats.  The world shut out, and the ones I love shut in against the cold. There was no school for me, and only my 3 scheduled days of work per week. It was going to be great.

Then this happened:1480549_10202798469749455_592936327_nIt snowed. I love our street in the snow. The houses look so cute and cozy, the neighborhood becomes a Thomas Kinkade painting. We put up the Christmas tree together. This year, Zachy was really able to  participate, which was adorable. I kicked the OCD into low gear as he put the ornaments too close together, and somehow resisted the urge to tweak them ever-so-slightly the entire time that tree was up.

This year, I even managed to somehow get all of the Christmas presents for the boys wrapped before anyone knew what they were getting. This was about as successful a Christmas as I could’ve asked for, considering some of our previous misadventures. The whole next day, the boys broke  played with their new things. Then Evan remembered how fun toys can be when you are only 3, and Santa brings you things like racetracks for toy cars or little train sets. And it dawned on Zachy just how cool big-kid stuff can be.

Magic: Over. Bubble: Burst.

Next thing we knew, there were fights. “Mommy, Evan did________.”, squealed Zach. “Mom! Zach has my _______.”, whined Evan. And so it went all the way up through the end of their Christmas break. It seemed like the longest one in the history of winter breaks. I seriously thought I was going to die. To make matters worse, I was fresh out of school. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have that distraction. With me home more, John felt he deserved a break, and left most parenting matters to me. I’m certain the grey hairs on my head have multiplied as a result.

The eve of their first day back to school, I was working the ICU. It really is a good thing my patient was in a medically-induced coma and couldn’t hear me or tell on me. The tv in his room was turned to the news, where I saw the update where the boys’ first day back was called off due to weather.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

I’m sure my wail reverberated off of the walls of the ICU, into the adjacent waiting area and throughout the rest of the hospital. Nurses from outside the room rushed in to see what had happened, as I’m not generally an alarmist at work.

That day. That day I had been dreaming of, hoping for, wishing on….My hopes were crushed. My spirit broken.

The fighting a home got worse as cabin fever started in. Snow kept dumping on us. Just when it would start to clear up, more would come. And then it didn’t. The boys were finally going to go back to school. I was relieved, and by that time, I think they were as sick of us as we were of them causing chaos.

And then that “Polar Vortex” bullshit happened. Anyone remember the “I can’t put my arms down” scene in A Christmas Story? Well, we will never have a modern-day version of that. They cancelled school because it was too cold. For not one day, but days-yep, plural. When we were kids, our parents would just bundle us up. We waited a little closer to last minute to go to our bus stops. But our bus stops weren’t at our driveway, either. Generally, we had to walk. If it was dangerously cold–as in losing digits to frost bite despite gloves or mittens—my mom would crank the heat in the car to warm it up while I was getting ready and then drive me to the bus stop, where I would sit in the car until the bus was in sight. The lowest it got here was 2 degrees, and I am sure that I remember it getting a lot colder. As a matter of fact, I just googled that and discovered we had temps as low as -25 in 1985 in Cincinnati. But they closed school. There was no snow or ice on the ground, no slick roads, no frozen pipes at the school. It was just cold.

It seemed like winter break was never going to end. John and I were never going to have a single moment of peace. Armageddon was going to strike, Hell was freezing over, and we would have to home-school the children from now on. I was on the verge, man.

Finally, on January 10th, the boogers got on the bus and headed back. They were out of school for 29 days in total. I sincerely hope they tack the extra unplanned missed days onto the end of the school year. I am now on a mission to treasure every moment of silence until June, and promise to never take a peaceful moment for granted for as long as I live.

Finally,

Grocery Woes

8019650_f520Hang with me here, because I swear I have a point. Off the top of my head, breakfast items I purchased for the house include the following:

  • 2 packages of whole-wheat English muffins
  • 1 pound of turkey bacon
  • 12 yogurts
  • 2 boxes of Pop-Tarts (don’t judge me!)
  • Multiple types of fruit–berries, oranges, clementines, apples, grapes
  • 3—yes, 3–boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios (they had a bundle pack that was discounted)
  • 1 Bag of Bagels–I buy the minis because they are more like a normal serving size, so I am estimating 12 were in the bag.
  • 18 eggs
  • 4 boxes of Nutrigrain-type cereal bars
  • a container of oatmeal
  • 1 box of Grape Nuts

I ate, I think, 2 English muffins, maybe a couple of pieces of fruit. I went to work for 3 nights and got off on the following Monday, and all of it–everything on the above list–was gone. What else didn’t survive the weekend? 3 boxes of granola bars, 2 boxes of low-calorie snacks I bought for myself, 2 boxes of snack crackers, an 18-pack of Jell-O, 2 gallons of chocolate milk, a whole pound of turkey breast. In one weekend. And that is just the quick items.

So it goes like this: I get paid, I determine a grocery budget, and I go to the grocery store. There isn’t a lot to go around anymore because my boss has cut down on our ability to work overtime, so I have to stretch what I do have. I clip coupons, I price match, I shop sales. I usually do pretty well, coming home from the store with the back of our SUV filled with grocery bags. On the last trip right before Christmas break, I spent $350 because I knew the kids would be home all day everyday. It would be more than enough for anyone.

Except for this family.

I never dreamed I would say this, but I cannot afford to feed this family anymore. More specifically, I cannot afford to fee Evan. The kid eats something and immediately goes back for more. All day long, this is how it goes. So my trips to the grocery store are decimated and when I come home from work after a 3-day stretch, there is nothing left and we spend the rest of the week running to and from the store, buying miscellaneous items because there is nothing left in the house. Which is decidedly unfriendly to the environment and to my wallet, as gas is fricken expensive. I have even had to let some bills slide to buy more food because they ran us out and we cannot starve for the rest of the week..

I should add that this does not just happen when I am gone. Last night for dinner, for example, John made chops, veggies, baked potatoes. When he made the potatoes, he made a whole bunch of them because they were smallish. I split one with Zach. John had one. Evan cried and carried on until he ate the rest of them. If we order a pizza, he eats more than all of us combined. One night, I made a pan of baked ziti–lowfat, of course, for John–and we all got a spoonful while Evan ate the rest of the pan.  He’s starving, he says. He cries.

We have tried everything. We’ve explained how obesity runs in our family, as well as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. We’ve had discussions about genetics and how John’s dad had to have open-heart in his 40’s and John had all of those blocked arteries this past summer in his 30’s, so Evan is pretty much doomed if he doesn’t amend his eating habits. I can’t make too much of an issue of it because I don’t want to make such an unhealthy connection with food, as this can also lead to problems.

What do I do? And the reason I am asking? Well, after the “polar vortex” that we have had that expanded the kids’ winter break, I am broke. We literally have no money. I have fed this child until our wallets, pockets, bank accounts are completely empty. And there is no food left. I have resources and I can get groceries, but the point is that nobody else will get to eat them. And even when we are diligent, when we watch the food supplies all day, being careful about what Evan consumes, our efforts go to waste when he sneaks into the kitchen after all have gone to bed and hoard entire boxes of stuff into his room. In the morning when he wakes, we have found empty boxes of snack crackers, granola bars, anything that he can easily take and snack on all night.

Do we have to sleep in shifts? Put the food under lock and key? Start buying by the meal instead of stocking the kitchen? And then when he cannot get what he wants, we deal with one of his meltdowns where he turns over furniture, gets violent with his brother, breaks our things intentionally.

I am at my wit’s end. I do not know what to do or how to do it.

And I’m hungry.

These are the Days

16 Days. Of course I type that while I am supposed to be awake putting together a 45-minute multimedia presentation on integrated marketing practices for class tomorrow. My final project for a marketing elective to round out my requirements for the almighty advanced degree. John, in his awesomeness, brewed the strong coffee for me before turning in for the night. And I can’t quit thinking. I can’t quit thinking, not of integrated marketing as I should be, but of the uncertainty of my life right now. Have you ever been in a place where the things you spend your days doing no longer feel like they are what you should be doing? Where you feel like maybe your real life awaits you, if only you can survive this short little interim? That is this place. These are those days.

My views may possibly be skewed. I realize this. There are people who have devoted their entire lives to do what I have done for the past eight years. They keep doing it, content with their contribution to the world. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is honorable. I’m not selfless enough. I feel like I have spent the past eight years paying dues to the world, to my being in general. To the spirit of my mother, who died from lung disease. I’ve been a good girl, and I have been good at my job. There are, in all honesty, people who are breathing today because of the work I have done. I have been there to help babies who could not help themselves. I have been there when families have said goodbye to parts of themselves. I have wiped brows of the dying, delivered tough love when necessary, compassion when it was needed. I have put myself and my family last. And now, after all of these years of doing that, I want to do something different, and in my warped mind, I have earned that. Not because I will, in just 16 days, have a piece of paper with my name in beautiful calligraphy saying I have completed some requirement set forth from society, but because I have paid my dues in other ways.

People ask me what it is I want, and I always answer with a “we’ll see” kind of shrug. I love healthcare, am passionate about healthcare. And I want to leave some sort of mark on this industry that is on a higher level than the one I am currently leaving. And I want to do so in a way that allows time for me, time for my family.

Lately, I have been thinking a great deal about my path through higher education as a non-traditional student. Evan was about 2 when I put on a  backpack for the first time since my mom died, which was eight years before that. Evan is 12. I will finish this long road about 2 weeks before the ten-year anniversary of that first time back. And I have thought about it. I have allowed myself the luxury of pondering just sucking it up, reaching deep, and going straight into a Ph.D. program or a JD, even. And then I think of them. Of Evan and Zach, of John. And what I want is no longer about a higher degree or prestige. Now, when I think of what I want, it isn’t grandiose at all. It’s simple stuff. Little things that aren’t luxuries to most, but have been to me in these years where I have tried to do it all.

I want to come home and not have to rush off to class, be able to eat dinner with my family at a normal hour around a table with food we prepared at home. I want to watch a movie with John without worrying about homework I should be doing or, better yet, am actually trying to do with said movie playing in the background. I would love to take the boys to a movie or park on a weeknight for no reason at all. Maybe even go on a weekend hiking trip. Maybe John and I could have a real date once in a while. Or I could read a book that has not a damned thing to do with academics at all. I want to blog more. Maybe I could revamp this one a little bit with all I know about social media marketing and content creation these days. I want to join a gym and be able to go–and not some lame attempt a a resolution where I don’t have the follow-through because, hey, thinking I would even have the time for a workout each day was optimistic at best, even closer to being the world’s dumbest idea. No, I want to actually go. And work on myself a little bit, and not just on cramming my brain with as much knowledge as possible.

It’s so strange to me. When I started this, I thought, “MBA: the CEO’s degree. I’m want to be loaded.” It isn’t about that anymore. It’s about enjoying life and having the means to do so comfortably. There is only one material possession I even want, and it is going to sound worse than it is: that new Mercedes CLA 250. Sounds greedy and ridiculous, right? No, because in reality, it is only about 3K more than I paid for our current car and I bought it used. And the current car is too big for me to feel comfortable driving with my vision issues. So sounds crazy, but really isn’t. But anyway, here I am at the end, and the salary isn’t the thing anymore. The job is, the career is, the comfort is, but the money isn’t. And I am saying this about 2 days before I have an interview for a position that would pay more money than I have seen in my life–about 5 times my current salary. And now I suddenly don’t care. Well, I mean, I care in that there is a minimum I can take. I worked hard and paid a lot of money for my MBA. I can’t just give it away. But money isn’t the key determinant.

So here I am. Sixteen days from the big finish. And it feels like everything in my current life is winding down so I can start the new one. So these are the days. The days of excitement, of anticipation. Of anxiety and uncertainty. Of endings and new beginnings. Of wrapping up and starting anew. Of sheer panic mixed with resolution and calm.

These are the days I have to let go and hope it all works out, that it proves to have been worth it.

And if it does work out, these are the days I get to lean back, prop up my feet, and tell myself that after ten years, I earned every damned bit of it.

Still Alive

One day, I’ll return to writing for my own sake.

In the meantime, this is what is going on right now:

Evan is thriving in middle school. The girls are swarming. It’s bad. Last Thursday, after some really strange symptoms that had been going on sporadically, we were told that they thought he had a brain tumor. More about that experience on another day. I just can’t right now. He is seeing a pediatric neurologist in a few days and we’ll hopefully get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, I am trying not to unravel in my worry by focusing my attention on the fact that the head CT was negative. I am instead focusing on other things: that–for the first time ever–this kid has friends; that girls love him and I actually have to worry about what goes on when he is not supervised with a girl, that he is now wearing small men’s clothes, that he has that goofy ‘stache coming in and his dad is going to have to teach him to shave.

Zach is…Zach. He refuses to have anything to do with a toilet. I am tired of having to buy Pull-Ups. Or worse yet, diapers. He still sleeps in a diaper because Pull-Ups leak too much at bedtime. I would let him feel that discomfort with the idea that it would motivate him, but he just sleeps through it, thus we sleep through it, and we wake in the morning to a child with a rash and blue lips from sleeping in soaked pajamas. I cannot deal with neither the grossness factor or the health risk of that. We encourage. His preschool teachers encourage. We have purchased every toilet-learning device known to man, looking for the magic one. Currently, that is this cushie Prince Lionheart insert that seems so comfy that I wish it would accommodate adults.He has no desire whatsoever. But what is he doing? He is speaking plainly, counting, saying his alphabet, (crudely) writing his name, singing songs. (Please do not mix up the order of he verses of “The Wheels on the Bus”!) In May, this was the child who could literally say nothing that a stranger could understand. So I am not sweating the potty stuff. We’ll get there. He always does, doesn’t he? He’s still my little wonder–smart, cute,  funny, sweet.  He’s just Zachy.

John is making me proud everyday, He has lost over 50 pounds since the fateful day over the summer when a doctor I respect came to me to tell me that he could have died at any second from the blockages in his heart. His BP is down. He is down to only one medication for diabetes, and that dosage even had to be cut in half. His cardiologist cleared him to run at home after he outgrew the mild exercises at cardiac rehab. His cholesterol was actually low at his last check, so his medication for that was cut in half. The beta-blacker was stopped after he exhibited no need for it. He was wearing a size 40 waist in the summer. He is down to a 34, and those are falling off, but we’re holding off on shopping for more, since he’s built up to 2-mile runs daily–any little bit of weight he has left will melt off as his endurance gets back up there. His doctor says he only needs to lose 9 more pounds to be ideal body weight. If he loses 18 more, he will be back down to his post-boot camp weight from his Marine Corps days.

And me? I’m hanging in there. I have–wait, let me count–8 more weeks left of school. I start my capstone next Saturday. My paperwork for graduation is submitted. I am off of work. Blame some little boys who cannot seem to get their dirty laundry in a hamper. I tripped on some dirty clothes and fell down the entire flight of basement stairs on my left leg, with it ricocheting off of each step on the way down. They thought stuff was torn. Instead, I found out that every piece of cartilage in there is inflamed from the trauma. So it has been injections, PT, crutches (for about 5 weeks). I am finally to the walking stage, but only for very short trips and in transit. I cannot stand or walk for long periods at all. (Read: I can limp to my class and sit in a chair, I can walk to the car and get in it, but I can’t do shopping trips, etc.) I’m just hanging in. Also, I remember lamenting on here how I hated undergrad corporate finance. It has nothing on the 600 level.

That’s all.

I’ll be a blogger again one day, I swear,

Not Ready

28809_1470325484751_4630848_nI remember the day like it was yesterday. It was just yesterday, right?

We tell new parents all of the time that they shouldn’t blink, that it will all go way too fast. Evan started middle school a couple of weeks ago. That hit me hard. Not as hard as the day I found myself sobbing in the school gym as he turned and looked at me as he was walking away from me and toward his kindergarten teacher. I remember the clothes he wore: khaki shorts with a brown leather/ orange grosgrain belt coordinated perfectly with his orange polo from Baby Gap. He was small. He was my baby. He still is.

But then we had another one. I wrote countless times how I didn’t think I could ever love another like I love Ev. And I remember kvetching that I couldn’t possibly be pregnant again, that it was a cruel joke with the worst possible timing. I had no idea that the child would completely consume me. That he would become very much a part of my very being. I could tell you I love him, but those words seem so paltry and inadequate. If you cut me, I would hemorrhage Zachary.

So today happened. It’s a day I’ve done before, many years ago. Except Evan was starting kindergarten, not preschool. But somehow, this is worse. This is so much worse. He’s only a year younger than Evan was when he started kindergarten, but still. He really is my baby. And I just watched him. I saw the spark of excitement in his eyes, the amazement that that big yellow school bus was stopping for him this time. I watched his chubby baby fist grasp the rail and climb onto the first step of that bus, guided by his father while I tried to hold it together. That first step, incidentally, was almost waist height on him. The bus driver motioned me onto the bus, smiling in understanding and reminding John that moms just do this while the assistant helped Zach to his seat. And he turned and looked back at me as I blew him a kiss, all smiles and happiness at his new milestone reached. At independence and new days filled with macaroni art and learning to sing new songs. At things that would no longer involve me.

I turned and got off the bus and they pulled away. I turned back to watch him go as my heart splintered. Because I worry that these strangers entrusted with his well-being won’t understand how amazing he is. They don’t know how he almost wasn’t here, that he is a connoisseur of chocolate milk, that “bobberries” are really strawberries and are his favorite fruit,  that he simply must have an Eskimo kiss before his nap. But also because, having done this about 8 years ago, I know. I know that Tomorrow, he will be starting middle school. He’ll have earbuds in his ears and not want to cuddle. He will be too cool for me. I will become Mom, no longer Mommy.A Mom is, after all, different from a Mommy. Moms ensure you do your homework and take care of you when you are sick. Mommies kiss boo-boos to make them better, read bedtime stories, are given the gift of crayon scribbles that may as well be fine art. It will be Tomorrow.I know it from experience.

I’m not ready for Tomorrow. And I know that is where Today leads.

I’m just not ready.
1239614_10201960273115063_1972389987_n

The Smallest One

393096_10201215393853547_1875360026_nZachary is three whole years old. This happened last month. Remember how he wouldn’t talk? Well, now he doesn’t stop. And it amazes me to hear what he has to say. All of that time he was silent, he was absorbing so much so that now that he is completely verbal, he can show us that he was learning all along. He was listening.

Yesterday, while going to eat at a local restaurant, we were occupying him with some coloring while we waited on our food to come to the table. He asked for a crayon I was holding. I reached out to hand him the one in my hand. “Not that one, Mommy. The blue one!” He was pointing to the blue crayon laying on the table, but John and I had the same reaction: to stare, mouths agape, at this kid. As if to say, “When did he learn his colors???” Well, of course he learned colors because, from the time he was about 3 or 4 months old, I have included the color of everything in my sentences. “Here’s your cup, Zachy. The cup is red!”, or “Look at that tree’s green  leaves!”

And he learned empathy and how to be concerned for others. You could try this one for yourself. All you have to do is act like you have hurt yourself–stub a toe, get a papercut–and he drops what he is doing, stops in his tracks, to come to you and look at you with with those big green eyes and ask if you are okay. It is so cute that, I must admit, I have said “Ouch!” on more than one occasion just to see him in action.

I’m trying to convey how much he has grown and I am struggling here. He is just his own little person. I could spend all day just watching him. He has his own tastes and preferences, sense of humor, ways of doing things. The wobble of toddlerhood has been replaced with confident running, jumping, climbing, playing. For his third birthday, his little green tricycle was replaced with a green bicycle.

The shadows of dimples that were once there on his little cheeks have been replaced with real dimples. We knew they were there. 253495_10201210419249185_1369711929_nWhere Evan was always temperamental and a little introverted, Zach is the opposite. He is rambunctious. A true boys’s boy. He says “Hi” and “Bye” to everyone he sees, which can make leaving a grocery store or any other outing quite the experience. (Oh, there’s a bag boy 5 checkout lanes to whom we didn’t say goodbye! Let’s take care of that now!) When he hear’s a song on the radio he likes, he has complete confidence to just belt it out. Our current favorite is this:

*Note that the radio plays the edited version and since Zach associates all bridges with crossing the Ohio River, his version involves crashing a car into the river, not a bridge. But it is still hilarious to hear him sing it.

And yes, he’s starting preschool in August. And it breaks my heart because it has gone so quickly.

6 Rude Things: My Version

middle276 Rude Things Moms Let Their Kids Do (Tsk Tsk) | The Stir.

Yes, I read this one. And I got pissed. I’m not sure why, but I did. Maybe it is because I have had so many encounters with unbelievably rude “adults” that it gets hard to swallow the critique of children. Yes, it is important to teach our children manners. And common courtesy. And how to behave in social situations. It is important that we not allow the carelessness of out children to infringe on the rights of others. But adults are not above these same guidelines. And before we can lecture our kids on manners, we have to set proper examples. So here is my list of some of the rude things adults do that completely get under my skin. And since they limited their list to 6, I will, also.Because I am a polite bitch.

6. When you see a mom bustling through a parking lot in rain/ snow/ sleet, don’t jump on the gas pedal to avoid waiting for her to cross the damned street. Just because you haven’t procreated, or you have and are fortunate enough to not have to go to the store with your children does not excuse you from common decency. Think to when your kids were small. All you needed was some milk, eggs, and maybe some random ingredient for dinner. You had to wrangle a squirming toddler into outerwear, wait behind him as he tried to climb into his carseat, because, hey, he can do it himself. Now it is cold, it is wet, and you are trying to hurry, carrying the 30-lb. mini-me through the massive parking lot, you get to the crosswalk and are about to make it into the store when a string of traffic passes while you helplessly watch rude assholes who can’t pause for 5 seconds to let you cross. And did I mention their cars are warm and dry while you and the little one look on in the freezing rain? People, if you are in so much of a hurry that you cannot do one this one thing, you have no time to go to a big-box grocery store, anyways. (The principles of this one can be extrapolated to apply to lot stalking as well. You see me with a toddler and another child. It is cold. You also see the cart full of groceries. There is a vacant spot 2 spots down from mine. Don’t sit and look annoyed/ honk/ etc. while I try to convince the oldest to get in an buckle up, strap the baby into his carseat, load all of the groceries, and put the cart away. It takes time. Don’t rush me. I’m sure when you had children back in 1952, all you had to do was toss them into the floorboard and speed away. We have better standards now.)

5. Treat my child’s cheeks as if they are magnetized, and that magnet, for some unknown reason, seems to get stronger during Godforsaken flu season. This one is simple. Quit touching my child. Yep, he has chubby cheeks. Yep, they’re friggin’ adorable. I made them. I know. He gets them from me. He also has the cutest little button nose. But after using enough public restrooms in my day, I have seen enough nasty assholes completely bypass the sink and head straight out of the door without washing their hands. And I have learned that these assholes  are generic in appearance, and thus cannot be identified among the rest of the population. And even if you are not one of them, how do I know that you are not harboring influenza/ MRSA/ syphilis/ scabies or any other nasty shit I find in my line of work? And then you touch my child’s face? Or his little hands, which he does not realize have he capacity to transmit the damned plague and thus puts them in his mouth without thinking? Shame on you.

4. Drawing assumptions. You know what they say, right? Assuming makes and ASS out of U and…. Scratch that. The saying is wrong. It just makes you an asshole.  What is it about seeing a mom/ dad/ both with young children that brings out this tendency in people? And we assume a lot of things. I have had people assume a lot. I have heard whisperings about morality .John and I do not wear wedding bands–John’s ended up down a bathtub drain many years ago and mine fell off of my finger and wasn’t found until John stomped on it with a steel-toed work boot many-many-many years ago. And, well, we just never replaced them. We keep meaning to and then forgetting. I assure you we are very-much married–12 years this very week thankyouverymuch. And even if we were not, it is none of your business. There are many types of families out there, and who are you to assume you have the right to judge any of them? Maybe I am “shacking up with my Baby Daddy”. What of it? This is in the same category as many other rude assumptions, like that I want your parenting advice. Or that, simply because my child is having a bad moment, I do not teach them manners.

3. If you visit a kid-friendly establishment, quit going with the expectation that there will not be children present. Kids will be there. And no matter how well-behaved, kids are growing, learning beings. In order to teach a child manners in a dining or other public establishment, there has to be some practice involved. Kids can get squirmy, fidgety, over-excited, over-stimulated. They are, by nature, impatient and self-centered. When they are hungry, they want food now. When they are stuck in line to pay for the jeans their mom or dad is buying them because they outgrew their old ones, they don’t generally like to wait in line. They never want to wait their turn, even if they have been thoroughly trained that this is something they must do. Expect that. They are children, for shit’s sake. You, on the other hand, are an adult. We expect that you have learned patience, as you have had ample opportunity. And we parents can teach and teach our children, but sometimes those lessons are forgotten, despite our best efforts. Are we never supposed to leave our homes because you might decide to go to one of the places we go? So just stop. Stop getting huffy when a kid whines for a candy bar in the grocery checkout line, when a toddler gets frustrated because he is hungry and has waited too long for his food. Stop acting like my children are infringing on your space at a kid-friendly business when, in all truthfulness, you are treading on our turf there. Or better yet, when one is at Chuck E. Cheese, expect for kids to get rowdy and excited, and just stop acting offended by playing children. You are at Chuck E. Cheese, for crying out loud. You are being ridiculous. In return for the improvement of this behavior, I will continue working on my children’s manners. I will request to not sit in the booth next to you so they can eat their kids’ meals freely while you enjoy your seniors’ country-fried steak or whatever other old-people shit you order. And I will not be so rude as to infringe on the swanky restaurant you visit for date night with unruly children. I will stick to places that give out crayons with the kiddie menu because I am civilized. (PS. Remember this experience on the day Obama passed through here, blocking roads for hours?)

2. STFU. If you don’t know what this means, Google the shit. My kids–and yes, even the little one–have issues. And this does not mean I do not discipline them. It doesn’t mean I don’t parent. I have to continue with my teachings that “no” really means no. That they cannot get everything they want. he end result is some tears and maybe some meltdowns. What I do not need from you is for you to turn around in line and instigate by making sure the kid knows that you would buy them the sugary candy if you were me. Or for you to turn around and tell me that you would beat them into submission. or that I need to control my kid. I prefer to raise a child who does not need to be “controlled” but rather has the self-direction, self-control, and logic to understand that behaviors have consequences, that we must earn what we want to receive. It is difficult to teach them this. It is especially difficult with mine, with one having a probable ASD and the other being largely non-verbal until recent months. But they still have to grow up in this world, to learn to function. And so I have to say no to some things. Regardless of their reaction, you have no right to put in your unsolicited comments to me or to them. It is none of your business. And if you would hurry up and quit the long-winded conversation with the blue-haired cashier, we can pay for our shit and get the hell out of there where not a soul will witness their meltdowns.

1. Quit acting as if my kid is the only child you have ever seen misbehave. And sometimes they aren’t even really misbehaving. We are learning more and more that some of Evan’s behaviors that could have been construed as being bad or bratty or manipulative really couldn’t be helped all along. Not all of them, but some of them. So you do not need to tsk-tsk. You do not need to gawk. There is no need to give dirty looks. And even though Evan looks like a typical kid his age, he isn’t so quit fucking staring at him. He is remarkable. He is probably smarter than you. But he has different reactions to some things. We’re working on it. Always working on it. What about you? And while we’re at it, even if he were to be completely like his peers, sometimes the best kids with the best parents can misbehave. And for you morons to turn around and stare like you have never seen this happen, to treat us like we are in some sort of freakshow, is completely unacceptable behavior from an adult. Because, in all honesty, your tendency to react like that makes me want to give in. Buy him the toy/ candy bar/ toilet scrubber he is so irrational about just to get you to leave us alone. Because the only other options are to deal with your lack of manners or never take him out of the house. I refuse to keep my kid like a caged animal because you have some sort of problem. And the same goes for the baby. He went through this shrieking phase. It was awful. And you people would hear me and see me trying to get him to be quiet. Telling him not to scream. Yet you would still stare and give largely the same reactions you would give to Evan and one of his meltdowns. And Zachy is obviously a little guy.

Maybe, instead of preaching on the bad manners of kids and the seemingly-awful parents who fail to teach them manners, maybe we all need to step back and consider others for a minute. Because ALL of these situations I have mentioned have happened to us. Some happen more than others. Some happen all of the friggin’ time. I am not perfect. My children are not perfect. But we are good people. We know right from wrong. My kid, who might have a mini-meltdown over a candy bar he didn’t get may turn around and gladly give his most prized possessions to a needy child or weep over a homeless man on the street. Later, on the same day as the meltdown, he may be so polite and well-behaved that strangers come up to us and comment on the polite young man we are raising. And the bottom line is that he is a child. He is being taught more and more everyday. Some lessons stick right away, while some take repetitive drilling. Some seem to stick and then he adopts the bad habits of his classmates, putting us back to Square One. He is, after all is said and done, still forming. You, on the other hand, are running out of time to let your asshole-ness wear off. And if you are so apt to help me parent, what with your assumptions, unsolicited advice, and comments, perhaps you could be more efficient by stopping the rudeness and serving instead as another example of good manners for these kids.