Friday, June 21, 2013

Keepin' the Home Fires Burnin'

Brian just returned from a 3 day business trip.  Meanwhile, I manned the homestead...reared the children, kept the home fires burning (I mean that in a metaphorical way...the house wasn't actually on fire - although there was a small grease fire in the kitchen one night).  Anyway, that was 3 straight days and nights alone with the kids.  It went well.  By "well", I mean that I managed to make it through the week without being committed to a psychiatric facility and I'm still technically in "one piece" - however that doesn't account for my soul which has been shattered into mere fragments of what it once was after several days alone with the kids - which from here on out I shall refer to as "Thugs".

No sooner had Brian pulled out of the driveway, and the Thugs (AKA - Lauren, 4 and Benjamin, 3) gave each other knowing looks and evil little smiles.  It was like a roving gang of wild, rabid dogs in the backwoods of the deep south, packing up and preying on the vulnerable loner.  By the end of day 1, the distribution of power had clearly shifted in favor of the Thugs.  There were demands for junk food and movies on the big TV, and a clear bucking of all the rules.   Bedtime had no meaning, the word "routine" was a distant memory.  By morning, the Thugs had recruited other members into their pack. Our English Mastiff, Brynn went to their side.  By lunchtime, I had been roughed up and my lunch money had been stolen.  The 3 of them laughed and ate Goldfish at the picnic table outside, while they barked orders at me and I catered to their every whim.  I lost track of how many peanut butter & jelly sandwiches I made that day.  My hands ached from cutting crusts from their sandwiches.  The juice boxes were flowing, and by the end of day 2 - Ben had scored a pack of unfiltered Camels and rolled them up in his t-shirt sleeve - Fonzie style.  Lauren dyed her hair black, got her eyebrows pierced, and started going by the name "Magnolia" and Brynn had gotten a tattoo of an anchor that said "Ma". 

I was relinquished to sleeping on the floor as they took over my bed.  I couldn't sleep, anyways, as their cell phones rang all night long - Lauren changed her ringtone to "Gansta's Paradise" - the official anthem of the Thugs, and it played over and over as victory was claimed.

Brian returned home to find that war had been waged, and my only allies had been Cheeze-Its and wine.  Luckily he brought peace offering gifts to the Thugs in the form of stuffed animals and t-shirts, and a truce was declared.   

I'm still a bit shaken by the whole experience, however I've learned a valuable lesson - which is obviously that I need my own "anthem" for the next time it's me versus the Thugs. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pickin' My Battles

Today I threw out all of Ben's bottles.  He's 3 (I know, I know...) and it's high time he got off the bottle.  He drinks 2 bottles a day - half milk & half water.  He drinks everything else out of a regular cup, but when it comes to drinking milk, he loves his bottle.  It was hard for him to give them up, and maybe harder for me to enforce it.  I know I've been lax about it, but he's my baby...and know how that goes.  But it had to be done, so this morning while I was cleaning up the kitchen, I just threw them all away.  We've tried several times getting him off the bottle, but after a day of him boycotting milk,  I would always give in and give him one.  When it comes to my kids, I'm a softie.  I didn't want Ben to feel sad or want for anything, and so when he'd flash those sweet eyes at me and say "Please mommy, please???" I'd give in.  I knew the bottles had to be gone and out of the house in order for me to stick to it.  

So here we are, and of course all I can think is that he'll never drink milk ever again without his bottle, and he'll end up calcium deficient and have brittle bones by the time he's 10.  He'll have to go on Os-Cal supplements and all his friends will make fun of him for being the only kid on the soccer team who has a pill box filled with dietary supplements to make up for all the nutrients he's missed out in since his mean mom took away his bottle at age 3.  That's only a slightly better scenario than the alternative which is Ben playing High School Varsity football and running over to the sidelines to take a swig out of his Dr. Brown's bottle filled with milk.

Being a parent is such a catch 22 - no matter what you do, you feel like it's the wrong thing and that you're either too strict or too soft.  I try my best to be moderate when it comes to the kids.  If there's one thing I've learned as a parent - it's to pick my battles.  Some things are just not a big deal, while others are worthy of a battle royale.  For example - these days, I'm just glad that Ben's wearing pants.  I'm not going to make a big deal that he sometimes wears Lauren's yoga pants and a floral shirt, or that he sometimes insist on wearing pajama pants that are 3 sizes to small with a polo shirt - out in public.  As long as he's clothed, well then it's ok with me. 

On the other hand, sometimes I just have to save them from themselves.  For Ben's 3rd birthday, I took him to pick out his birthday cake. He was very excited.  As we flipped through the book of cake designs, he sat on my lap "oohing" and "ahhing" over the Thomas The Train and Jake and the Neverland Pirates cake designs.  The nice woman at the bakery counter stood watching us, smiling sweetly at Ben and anxiously awaiting his big decision.  Finally, when we came to the end of the book, I asked Ben which one he thought he wanted, and he shouted out "Barack Obama!!!" at the top of his lungs.  "Me want a Barack Obama cake!" He announced gleefully.  Oh God.  I should tell you that since the last presidential election, Ben's been quite a fan of Barack Obama.  Hopefully - regardless of your political affiliation- you'll find this story amusing.  But yes, somewhere along the way - he heard the name Barack Obama on TV, and that was it.  He started saying it all the time - as the answer to any question you might ask him.   He even includes President Obama in our nightly prayers.  At the end, when we're thanking God for our family and blessings, Ben shouts out "and thank you for Barack Obama.."  And so here we are - at the Stop & Shop bakery, looking at birthday cakes for toddlers - and my son wants a Barack Obama cake.  When I informed him that we had to pick out a cake from the book and couldn't have a presidential themed birthday cake, things escalated, and Ben threw an all out tantrum.  As fellow customers and the poor bakery woman looked on puzzled, Ben screamed and cried and  screeched "Barack Obama" as he gasped for breath between hysterics.  As I collected Ben under my arm to drag him out of the store, I told the nice woman at the bakery that we'd take the Thomas the Train cake. 

In hindsight I wished I'd had the presence of mind to pull out my phone and take a video of that incident.  Just think about how amusing his future girlfriends would find it ;)