Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Meaning of Christmas - Bird and Bean Style

The Bird is really getting into the holiday spirit this year.  If by spirit, you mean that she wants anything and everything that has ever been or ever will be in existence.... and is something a princess ballerina would wear.

Which, in our household, means that she will be getting a baseball glove and a bat.

The Bean, on the other hand, has decided that what she wants most for Christmas is hot dogs and water. Because that's her favorite. Apparently, nutrition in our house has been way lax since she joined our little family.  And Mommy needs a refresher course on Parenting 101.  Also, she'll be getting a wand.

But, in an effort to get both girls to understand the true meaning of Christmas, we had a discussion about how it's more important to give than to receive, and how making someone else happy or smile is the best gift we can give ourselves.  We talked about how some kids won't get much for Christmas and how we should try to be Santa's Helpers.  We picked a tag off the Giving Tree at day care and went shopping for some of the families that need a little Christmas help.  The girls were awesome and were very excited to pick out a Batman action figure and some fun t-shirts for other people.  We only had a "moment" when The Bean threw a fit because she wanted a Minnie-Mouse shirt, too.

If by "moment" you mean that Mommy had to threaten to cancel Christmas unless she put the shirt away because THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

Ahem.  Overall, it was a positive experience.  And when we were driving home and talking about giving gifts to people, The Bean stated that she weally wanted to give her best fwiend, Ivy, a toy.  And not just any toy... one of her very own toys.

Dude.  DUDE.  How huge is that?  She got it!  The 2YO got it!  I got a little teary-eyed and said that of course!! Of course we can go to The Island of Misfit Toys (our basement) and pick out a very special toy to give Ivy.  And at that, The Bird decided she'd get in on the action for her BFF, Emmy.

So, yesterday we began the tedious process of choosing which toy our friends would like.  The Bean's first selection?  A plastic chicken leg.  Yes... that's what we call toys around our house.  Problem?  I talked her out of that because, you know... maybe Ivy doesn't have a kitchen to put the chicken leg in, mkay?  So maybe something else that she can actually play with.

After a thorough inspection of all of their toys, both girls decided on little racing cars that their BFF's would really like.  Rather than wrap them up  (because who has wrapping paper on December 18??), I put an oversized bow on each of them and off we went.  When we got to school, The Bird had to put her gift in her cubby until her friend got to school, but Ivy was there when The Bean got to class.  It was so touching to watch her run over to her little friend and hand her the toy car with the bow and say "Merry Christmas, Ivy!  I wuv you!"  Seriously... this kid is too good for me.  I explained to the teacher the whole story because I wanted her to be able to tell Ivy's mom why she got a gift from The Bean... and I certainly didn't want her mom to feel like she needed to go out and buy a gift for The Bean.  This was about giving... not getting.  And, you guys?  Parenting win!  She got it!  She totally, completely got it!  ASK ME ABOUT MY MAD PARENTING SKILLZ OVER THE HOLIDAYS!  I GOTS LOTSA ADVICE!!!

That night, when I picked The Bird up from school, I saw that she still hadn't given Emmy her gift.  So, I went with her when she handed it to her friend with a quick "Merry Christmas".  Emmy wasn't sure what to make of the car, so The Bird went on to solemnly explain:  "I'm giving you this car for Christmas.  Because I don't play with it anymore, cuz I don't like it anymore.  Because I'm a big girl.  And big girls don't play with cars.  So, that's why I'm giving it to you."

Face. Palm. So. Hard.

Back to the drawing boards.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

I read this post by Christine Burke, of Keeper of the Fruit Loops fame, and I gotta say... it made me get the warm fuzzies to know that I'm not the only mom who lies to her children.  But, it's not just around the holiday's that I find myself fibbing to the kiddos. And if you're offended by that or want to get all Mommy-Shaming on me, I suggest you go ahead and navigate away.  Because what I'm about to admit to is waaayyy too real for you.

I admit it, I never planned on lying to my children.  Lying is bad.  Lying is something that only weak people who can't stomach the truth do.  Lying is evil and leads to nothing good.

And I had no idea that I would come to rely on lying as an effective parenting tool.  I had no idea I was capable of something so sinister. 

But that was BC... Before Children.

Before we had children, I remember thinking that the only thing I would lie about to them would be the obvious:  Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny.  And maybe leprechauns. Because I'm not convinced the little green men with gold don't exist, mkay?  Also, I'm a huge fan of Lucky Charms.

But I digress.  Apart from those four things, WHY must we lie to our children?  Why can't we simply take the time to give them a straight answer?  I am an educated woman. I have a degree in communication. And at one point, I was convinced I could talk to animals. Surely, I can explain to my children that the reason they can't have any more kettlecorn is because it's bad for them and it will make their tummy hurt.  I mean, a good mom wouldn't tell her darling angels that the kettlecorn had to go in a timeout because it wasn't being very nice.


The thing about trying to explain anything to the tiny humans is that there is no answer they are satisfied with.  "Too much kettlecorn will hurt your tummy" sounds like a reasonable answer.  For reasonable human beings.  But, if I've learned anything in my four years as The Mommy, it's that The Little Dictators are anything but reasonable.  And if I don't lie? If I decide to tell them the truth?  Well, that's when we engage in a game I refer to as "20,000 Questions/Excuses/Bargains".

"Why will it hurt my tummy?"
"How come?"
"No, it won't hurt my tummy!"
"Can I just have one more handful of popcorn?  Pweeaaassseeee."

"I pwomise it won't hurt my tummy?"
"You never, ever let me have all the popcorn!"
"When can I have more popcorn?"
"I pwomise it won't hurt my tummy."
And my own, personal favorite:  "BUT!!! I'M STILL HUUUUUNNNGGGRRRYYYY!"

Of course, if you offer them an apple to appease that hunger, suddenly their hunger pains have a much more specific need.

See, the thing is, they don't understand logic.  Duh.  But they do understand things like "timeout" and "being mean" and "because I said so".  So, to avoid both dry mouth and driving myself crazy answering all of the Questions That Never End, I have taken to lying to my children.  Quite often.  And often in public to avoid a meltdown... Judgy Judgerson's be damned.

Yes... My dear, sweet, children who get in trouble when they fib, are being lied to on a regular basis.  Because a) I'm tired and b) I'm an awesome parent like that.  And if you need clarification of what being an awesome parent is in my world, allow me to list the lies I've told my children in the last 24 hours:

1 - If you suck your thumb, your hair won't grow long like Rapunzel's.
2 - Yes, your hair looks like it's getting a little longer, but it would get a lot longer if you stopped sucking your thumb.
3 - Dino (our Elf on the Shelf) just looked over here when he heard you whining.  I bet he tells Santa that you're not being nice.
4 - Dino decorated our house for Christmas!!!
5 - We don't have any more pecan pie.
6 - Either get in the car right now, or stay here by yourself.  I'll do it.  I'll leave you here.
7 - You don't have to get shots this time. (This one was inadvertent because I didn't realize boosters were due.)
8 - I know it doesn't look like a braid, but trust me, it's a braid.  Mommy's really good at braids.
9 - I can't carry you because I have an owie.
10 - Only grownups can have croutons.

People without kids can sit back and dream about the ideal way to raise children. Go crazy thinking about the magic of raising children and what a great pinteresty Mommy you will be. But when those children turn 2... those same people will quickly realize that lying is one of the only things that give you an upper hand in this nonsense we call parenting.

Well, that, and control of the kettlecorn.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Time Lapse

This Thanksgiving/December 1 turnaround is killing me.  Usually we have a week after feasting on bird and pie to recover enough so that we can even consider locating the decorations for Christmas. 

So, adding a last-minute work trip to the holiday schedule was NOT MY BEST FRIEND... but we made it work and on Sunday, went and picked out the tree.  Not just any tree. THEEEE. TREEEE.  The tree that was the perfect combination of not too tall and not too wide, but sturdy enough to handle some slightly heavy ornaments.  I call it the cheerleader tree.  It's very peppy and organic.

The girls have finally bought into the whole YAY!  WE GET TO DECORATE FOR SANTA brainwashing that we've been encouraging for years, and were very excited to help.  Actually, The Bird was excited to help.  The Bean was excited to sit in her nightgown and poop on the flashcards we had left out.  In her defense, she was constipated and I think the poopy surprised her as much as it surprised us.  I think the second time she did it surprised us more than it surprised her, though.  Because, you know... fool me once, yada yada yada.  But fool me twice and I'm totally telling Santa.   

Because he's a rock star, Benny decided to do a little time lapse of the decorating of the tree.  And what you'll see when he finally has it finished is so heartwarming and holiday-ish that I almost don't want to burst that warm bubble of Peace on Earth you've got going by explaining exactly HOW. MUCH. IT. SUCKED. 

So, I won't.  Except to ask you to reflect on how much both of these girls absolutely OWN me on a daily basis, and then add a dose of holiday stress cheer.  And if you end up with something other than tangled lights, and lights that don't work even after you just tested them, a 4YO trying desperately to "help", a 2YO pooping on the couch and then screaming in pain on the potty because she's constipated, your husband telling you to make sure when you're bending over to fix something to be careful of the boob shot for the time lapse, all while we listen to Christmas music and pretend that this isn't driving us crazy... well, then, you're doing it wrong.

And, I should clarify... it didn't suck.  It's just so chaotic that by the end of the night, after the teeth were brushed and the stories about the Elf on the Shelf were told (and yes, Dino came to our house last night and decorated for mommy... and even hung up a picture that mommy's been procrastinating on doing for at least a year), let's just say that the silence that followed bedtime was freakin' magical.  And hey, I've got the memories that will last me through Christmas but will magically disappear in time for decorating the tree next year so that I won't remember the crap that goes along with it and we'll hit repeat.  And then, you know... it only takes doing something the same way for two years before it becomes a tradition.

She Gets That From Me

Nature or Nurture?  The question that every single parent asks themselves several times a day.  Usually when they walk in and see one of their children eating chocolate pie with their face.  And only their face.  It's in that moment that you have an imaginary conversation in your head that sounds eerily like the anti-drug PSA from the 80's:

"Who taught you how to do that?"  

Before we were blessed with The Little Dictators That Live With Us, Benny used to cringe and harp on me about how disgusting it was that I played with my toes while watching TV.  In my defense, it wasn't that I was playing with my toes.  I was absentmindedly... okay, fine.  I play with my toes. Absentmindedly.  While watching Friends re-runs.   

"Hi.  I'm Jaynee, and I like to clean out the lint between my toes while watching the best sitcom ever. Could I BE any less ashamed?"

He calls it gross.  I call it good hygiene, and he could learn a thing from me and my toes.

But that was before we had kiddos and we got to do things like play with our toes absentmindedly and eat pie with our faces. 

And it was loooonnnngggg before The Bird started becoming obsessed about her toes.  Like... really obsessed.  The type of obsession that I know if I don't hear something from her for a while, she's likely in her room cleaning out lint from her toes.  We take off her socks so she can go take a tubby, and we've got 5 minutes of toe cleaning before we actually can set foot in the tubby.

Drives me freakin' batty. Looking in the mirror - on steroids - will do that to you.

Which brings us to The Bean.

This kid is a 24-hour reflection of yours truly.  She loves it when the word "butt" comes up in a song, and laughs hysterically whenever I rewind it and she gets to hear the word "butt" again.  Not that I encourage that type of behavior... but I now have  moral obligation to introduce her to Sir-Mix-A-Lot.  And soon.  Her favorite Disney song is Poor Unfortunate Souls from Little Mermaid, and she has got the evil witch laugh perfected.  She cracks up when someone around her toots.  Moreso when she's the bandit.  She has also been known to Toot-Scoot-and-Blame.  She doesn't like to wear pants, and when the temps get a little cool and we start requiring her legs to be covered, she pulls them up above her knees and runs around like freakin' LL Cool J.  Or, me when I was in college.  At not yet 3, she's wearing size 10.5 shoes.  And I know this because one day, I noticed that her big toes were sticking completely out of her size 7.5 shoes.  And she'd never said a word.  Apparently, I did this same thing to my mom and that's why my toes were severely curled for most of my childhood.  She is a stickler for words being used correctly.  When she has a runny nose and asks for a tissue, if I bring her some toilet paper, she defiantly refuses to use it and points out that toilet paper?  NOT A TISSUE!!!  And if we're in Benny's truck, we are not to refer to it as a car. "It's a twuck, Mama!"  It's almost like she's seen me shame a Facebooker for using 'your' instead of 'you're'.  She refuses to dress up like a princess with The Bird, which has been the origin of many Saturday morning fights.  And she insists that I sing her the old folk songs my parents sang me when I was a kid.  You know, the one about the hammer killing John Henry?  No?  Never heard of it?  Come over one night while I'm putting The Bean to bed and you can hear a scary-ass folk song about a hammer that totally makes my serial-killer sweet 2-year-old fall sound asleep.

So, because I don't want DCFS to come take the girls from me, count me solidly in the camp of nature and genetics.  Neither one of the girls have seen me do the nonsense that they are now pulling... it just comes to them instinctively.  And while it's frustrating for Benny to deal with it, it's downright surreal for me.

But then again, the other day I saw The Bird nonchalantly wipe a booger on the dog, so things have got to be getting pretty surreal for Benny, too.

Except that one?  Pretty sure that's nurture.