Monday, September 26, 2011

465 Don't Look If You Don't Want to Find...

The other day I went looking for a particular skirt in my daughter's room. It wasn't hanging in the closet, nor was it on the floor (and considering all the shit that was on the floor, that was impressive)... It wasn't in her drawers or in the dirty clothes hamper. So, I looked in the next logical place, under the bed... And that, my friends, is where I lost my mind.

A week or so ago, my husband told her to clean her room if she wanted something. I don't remember the reward, but I do remember him checking her room and telling her she had done a good job. She received her reward and promptly didn't pick up another thing in her room. So, when I looked in the closet and then under the bed, I discovered exactly HOW she had cleaned her room.

There were boxes of toys and art supplies I had separated just shoved in the closet and dumped over...

There was a trash bag shoved under her bed that contained not one bit of trash. It did contain clothes, books, a boxed set of Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Season 1, and her brother's V-Reader among other things.

There were NUMEROUS empty juice pouches and bottles. Crumbled bits of Oreo. An empty bottle of CAPERS.

She's nine. I understand she will take the easy way out everytime (who can blame her?)...but this crossed the line. She has been asking for us to take her to the Mid-South Fair, not a chance in Hell. She has been asking for various and sundry if she has room for a single other thing in her room.

I am taking this one. I am not going to punish myself by punishing her and making her help me. I know. I know. I am losing a chance to really teach a lesson, but let's be honest...she wouldn't have learned a damn thing. Two days later she would forget it anyway.

But when I reach the bottom of the pile of shit and Polly Pockets and stuffed animals and art supplies and beads and dolls and trash...THEN the lesson begins. Poor girl will be facing a whole new world where she is responsible for maintaining her own room. Many groundings and punishments are sure to follow. Pray for me.

By the way, if you hear maniacal laughter it is just from the creators of Polly Pockets and Silly Bandz as they swim in the money they made off of us.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

464 Ten Years Ago... (my story)

We worked evenings, everyone knew we slept late, so why was my phone ringing so early in the morning?

Caller ID ... Why is my mom calling so early?! I wanted to ignore it, but I reached over and groggily answered the phone. She told me to turn on the tv, that a plane had struck the World Trade Center. And as I watched, I saw another plane ... Oh my God... I woke up Chip to watch with me. Tears streamed down my face, my heart seemed to beat slower. I cupped my hands over my abdomen, protecting the little life inside. We hadn't announced it yet, but we were pregnant with Katie. As the day unfolded my hand rarely moved from her. As it became more and more clear that our world had just changed I wanted to keep her safe.

People tried to go on with their daily lives. I had a bowling lesson (yeah, I took lessons, and I was pretty damn good) and I went. I remember driving down the road, looking over and seeing the same look of shock/sadness/fear on everyone's faces. No one was speeding, it was the most surreal experience as everyone just puttered along, their minds elsewhere. I told my bowling buddy that day that I was pregnant. I hadn't planned to tell her, but I needed to...needed that reminder of happiness and the future.

All of our lives changed that day. Forever. Not just for the weeks we didn't hear a plane overhead (and we live in a flightpath, so THAT was eerie). Not just those in New York, or the Northeast, or even just those in America. The world changed.
We will never forget the lives we lost that day. We will never forget the courage of those who ran to help. We will never forget that the very freedom that makes America so great also makes us a target...a vulnerable target, but we will be vigilant, we will be strong. We will not let this break us.

We will never forget.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

463 The Day I Cut Off the Oxygen Supply

Okay, so that might be a little dramatic... I did turn off the television for the night. I had good reason!!

Sunday night, the kids were whining and complaining, arguing over which show to watch and who can sit where. When Connor brought the living room remote control into the bathroom to get me to put it on Scooby Doo I decided that was the last straw! It's bad enough that I can't potty in peace, but at least bring me a problem I can solve while still sitting down.
I took that remote and (a few minutes later) placed it on top of the refrigerator. I even turned off the tv the old fashioned way to prove how serious I was!


SEE! It's really over now kiddos! Well, at least for the hour or so until I can tuck you into bed... with a story and a back rub (because I am not that horribly mean of a mommy).
Oh, the begging that ensued! PLEASE MOMMY!!! to which I only have to say "PUH-LEASE CHILD" This isn't my first rodeo. I can hang on a little longer than six seconds. They survived, but it was clearly touch and go for a while there.

Fast forward to Wednesday.
The stage is set. The kids (plus 1) are on the couch, the tv is on ... and the bickering begins.
It starts off small... and slowly builds. Now they are pushing a little, Connor might be lightly kicking his sister...
Admonishing them to be nicer to each other, to sit still, to STOP HURTING YOUR BROTHER/SISTER! It all falls on deaf ears.
What is a mom to do?
What punishment affects them more than any other?
Snatch up the remote ...and CLICK.
Blank stares that turn into glares.
Oh yes, I have found their kryptonite. The 52" Black Hole...
You could see the joy drain from their faces. No Scooby. No Goosebumps. NOTHING.
The oxygen seemed to drain from the room. Their brains were clearly struggling with the sudden need to THINK. Imaginations were pulled from the deep recesses of their minds and slowly dusted off. It was a painful experience. I suggested something radical. I suggested that Katie actually sit and READ A BOOK! You would think I had suggested she pluck a chicken or change a diaper or something even less savory.

As usually happens when we punish our children, it ended up hurting me more than it hurt them. Indoor tag is a great way to pass the time. It also means they were playing upstairs where my craft room caught Connor's eye. Without the distraction of tv, all his devilment was able to manifest itself... in the form of a (soon to be empty) bottle of acrylic paint ...on the floor, the wall, and on himself. And what makes it even worse, he clearly knew it was bad. He hid behind the door in his room to unscrew the cap. Basic rule to remember kids, if you have to hide it then you can just automatically assume you shouldn't be doing it.
Luckily (for him and me) the paint was still wet and the steam cleaner was handy... you know, since I have been trying to clean all the cat hair from the carpet ... almost all of it came up. 
But that was truly the last straw. I told them that the tv was off for the rest of the night, with threats of the rest of the week. As the promise of hours of silence and entertaining themselves stretched before them, the remaining air grew thinner. Soon it was hard to breathe... Maybe it was the incessant whining that depleted the amount of oxygen in the air. Maybe the black hole sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Katie just lay down on the floor and whined herself to sleep. Connor leaned against me, repeatedly asking when the tv could come back on. Even my brain shut down in order to keep from exploding.

Sure, I didn't get frustrated at all that I have been listening to nothing but whining and screaming while I try to clean. It doesn't bother me in the least that they run circles around me, playing chase while I am steam cleaning the floor in the bedroom and shifting every piece of REALLY heavy furniture around to a different spot. NOT AT ALL! I love watching my children methodically destroy every patch of clean in the house as I try to create another patch. I enjoy always answering the door with an apologetic glance at the house and an explanation that this is what happens when I try to clean other parts of the house. Really, it isn't a big deal.

Sure, I have a nine year old who SHOULD at the very least maintain her own bedroom. I have big baskets in the living room for the toys that SHOULD make itso  easy for them to pick up their toys. There are many SHOULDs that would help me to maintain the house and my sanity. (Like, maybe someone SHOULD stop buying them new toys) But, as all moms know, our sanity is not even of secondary importance. It falls at the very bottom of the list.

But now I have found the best method of punishment. I have found the quickest way to take the wind out of their sails. I have found the kryptonite that will lay them low. And I am going to use it! And I will enjoy that there is one less layer of sound to process, even if I do not get to enjoy complete silence. And eventually they will learn .... RIGHT??!! RIGHT??!!