Do Not Make Me Go Darth Vader on Your Ass!

A few months ago The Good One had a friend over for the day.  (Yes, I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while.  I’ve been busy.  And I have a problem with procrastination.)  His friend was dropped off at about 10:00 a.m. and was being picked up at 5:00.  By about 3:00 The Good One and his friend had played outside, played Xbox, Legos, board games and pretty much everything but Barbies because I don’t own Barbies.

Aside:  The Beast loves Barbies.  I’ll have to write up the post about the belief I have that he’s going to be a man-slut one day, but that will have to wait for – well, for months due to the aforementioned procrastination problem.

So at 3:00, I was sitting comfortably at my computer, most likely Pinteresting summer crafts that no normally abled human being could actually complete successfully, when The Good One and his friend approached me.

Me: What’s up, boys?

The Good One: Well, we wanted to have a Nerf war but we want more people, so Friend was wondering if you could come outside and play with us?

Me: What the bloody hell are you asking me, child?  Does it look like I want to come outside and play with you?  I’m in the middle of Pinteresting this awesome bead craft that you and your brother are going to love, and here you are asking me to play.  The only reason I permit you to have friends over is so that I don’t have to play with you.  And, Good One, if I ever find out that you asked one of your friend’s moms to play with you, I will smack your teeth out of your head.

Okay, that last part is a lie.  What I really said was that I couldn’t come outside and play because The Beast was sleeping and that they would have to have a Nerf battle by themselves.

What is this world coming to when we have to play with our kids when they have friends over?  Is this the new norm?

One of my sisters and I recently discussed this whole “playing with our children” epidemic.

Sister:  My kids are killing me.

Me:  I know, if school doesn’t start soon, I’m probably going to stop loving them.  They can’t be together for more than five minutes without fighting.

Sister:  I know.  Mine fight all the time.  It makes me want to drink all day long.

Me:   Yeah, I consider it a good day if I didn’t have to put Schnapps in my coffee.

Sister:  What drives me nuts is that I have these Facebook friends and they’re all like, “I love my kids so much, they’re so sweet and perfect and I just love to play with them all day long.”  My daughter wants me to play Barbies all day and it makes me nuts.

Me:  I know.  I have those Facebook friends, too.  I hate them.   They’re always like, “I love every waking minute with my beautiful child who is a gift from God.”  Really?  Every waking minute?  Aren’t you exaggerating just a little bit?  I mean, I totally get the gift from God thing and I do appreciate my children, but there’s not a day that goes by that at one point or another I’m not putting my head in my hands and begging for the strength not to rip out my children’s vocal chords.  I honestly don’t know how Mom didn’t cook one of us in the microwave.

As children, my sisters and I never asked our mom to play with us.  We entertained ourselves and didn’t expect our parents to keep us busy.  Yes, we would play outside with our parents and they’d take us to the park, but under no circumstances did we ever ask our mother to play Atari or school or dolls.  We played and she went about the business of keeping the house from looking like five children lived in it.

Now it seems like we’re expected to spend every waking minute playing with our kids, making memories and soaking in their childhoods, and if we don’t enjoy this then we’re somehow not being the parent that society thinks we should be.

I get so sick of reading about how when we’re with our kids, we need to be fully focused on them and fully present to make sure that they grow up feeling loved and valued.  I think this is what the term “intentional parenting” refers to, and I would like to request that whoever came up with that term bend over so I can intentionally shoot a giant Nerf dart up his derrière.

There are moments when I truly enjoy my children and those moments are incredibly special, and I’m not saying that I ignore my children or play on my iPhone every time I’m in their presence, but there are some days that my physical presence is all I can offer them.  I might not be painting and playing cars or video games with them, but, by golly, I haven’t run away and that should count for something.

And if my children grow up to be serial-killing sociopaths, I highly doubt it’ll be because I told them to go outside and play by themselves.  It’ll probably be because I let them watch violent T.V. shows so I could cook dinner.

So, as far as my Facebook friends go, I figure one of a few things is occurring.

1. These Facebook friends are lying because they want to present the image of being perfect, super-awesome parents who love every minute of their lives and are capable of spending the whole day soaking up all of their children’s awesomeness and still provide clean underwear and a gourmet meal.  (This is the one I want to be true because otherwise my life truly does suck and I need to be medicated to continue on with this existence that is marked by incessant temper-tantrums, anger, fighting, laundry and trying to figure out what to cook for dinner.)

2. These Facebook friends are too high on meds to realize that playing Barbies and Hot Wheels is fun for about three minutes and then it just plain sucks.  How many times can one human being say “vroom, vroom” before it gets monotonous?  And how many times can you have the same Barbie conversation before you feel the urge to rip Barbie’s head off of her ridiculously busty torso?

3. These Facebook friends really do love to play all day and I just suck.  (This is my least favorite option.  I mean, I do play with my kids, but it certainly isn’t all day and I almost never enjoy it.)

I choose to believe that it’s option number 1, because for the past five minutes as I’ve been typing this blog post I’ve yelled at my kids nearly nonstop.  For your reading pleasure, here are some of the phrases I’ve used.   You have to read them as a shrill she-demon to get a real appreciation for what I sound like.

“Why the frack are you two fighting!?”  (Yes, I’ve managed to not use the real “F” word around my children.  This is an accomplishment worthy of an award, so feel free to send me one because I feel pretty awesome about it.)

“What is your problem!?”

“If you do not share those goldfish with The Good One I’m taking them off of you!”

“No, you do not get your own.  You will share or I’m going to put you in timeout!”

“Quit throwing things at your brother!”

“If you do not quit screaming I’m going to put you in timeout all flipping day!”

“Get off of the floor, quit screaming and go upstairs!”

“What the hell is that noise!?”

“So help me God, if you two don’t stop fighting I’m going to beat you both with a light saber!”

Right now The Beast is in timeout for assaulting The Good One because The Good One had the nerve to attempt to help The Beast clean up his toys.  The Beast is actually screaming at me, “I want to clean up by myself!  I want to do it!  I want to clean up by myself!”

The child is throwing a temper tantrum because he doesn’t want The Good One to help him clean up his toys.

What kind of Twilight Zone do I live in?

Surely my Facebook friends have moments like this that they don’t love.  Maybe it’s a matter of perspective and these friends just choose to focus on the positive aspects of their lives.  Maybe their intent isn’t to make me feel like crap.

But every once in a while it would be nice if they posted something about threatening to beat their children with light sabers.

Pets — I hate them.

VSM and I allowed The Good One to purchase a hermit crab while we were at the beach with my family.  I blame peer pressure.  Two of my sisters did it so I had to do it.

Apparently I do not succumb to the peer pressure to do drugs, but peer pressure will cause me to by shelled pets.

So we bought the crab and all of the crab crap that you have to have to keep it alive.  About three days after we bought it, me and the boys were visiting my sister (VSM had flown home), and The Good One came to me and said, “Hey, Mom, what do you think it means when a crab’s claw falls off?”  I said, “Well, I don’t know but I can’t imagine that it’s a good sign.”

Turns out it means they are stressed.  I’m grateful that humans do not drop appendages when they get stressed.  I would be appendage-less.

About a day later The Good One said, “Hey, Mom, my crab lost another claw.  Do you think it’s going to die?”  I replied, “Likely.  I can’t imagine he’ll be able to live without his claws.”

The Good One did not appreciate my candor.  He also did not appreciate it when the crab died a day later.

Want to know how you know when a crab has died?  You’re in luck because I know the answer to this.  You can tell when a crab has died because it will smell like 2,000 dead fish that have been rotting in the sun.

The Good One can be a bit emotional and had what I would describe as an emotional breakdown over this dead crustacean.  I tried to be sympathetic, but he uses sympathy as a means to weasel more crap out of me, so I also had to be practical and explained that while I understood his sadness, he had only had the crab for a few days and he needed at least not to wail and weep and rend his garments and eat sackcloth and ashes or whatever the heck it is they did in the Bible when they were upset over their dead crabs.

After some convincing, he agreed to calm down as long as we could keep the crab and bury him when we returned to Texas.  I said yes.

That was the wrong answer.  You see, I was in Virginia visiting my sister after our North Carolina vacation, and after spending a few days there I was going to head to Pennsylvania for a week with my parents before heading back to Texas.  That meant I was going to be traveling with a dead crab for approximately two weeks.  I double wrapped the crab bits in sealed sandwich bags and put them in a larger sealed bag and stuck the whole mess in my van.

Want to know what a dead crab that has been double wrapped and sealed smells like after it’s been sitting in a small container inside of a hot minivan for a few days?

You’re in luck because I know the answer to this.  A dead, double-wrapped crab that has been sitting in a small container inside of a hot minivan smells like 2,000 fish that have died on top of an equally dead and equally rotting cow that has been smothered with feta cheese.

On the drive from Richmond to Pittsburgh, every time I left my car and then re-entered, I was assaulted by the smell of death.  As you would imagine, this made my drive super great and full of awesomeness.

When we arrived in Pittsburgh, I promptly explained to The Good One that I was not going to be able to drive any further with this decomposing pet and that we were going to have to bury it in Pittsburgh.  He seemed to be okay with that.  Most likely he was tired of gagging every time he got in the van.

Well, this Saturday we finally came back to Texas and The Good One somehow managed to convince my mom, who traveled back with us, that he needed a new pet and wanted a lizard.

Today we went to the pet store to learn about lizards, and I learned that having a lizard is not as simple as getting a lizard and sticking it in a terrarium.

First of all, lizards, as you know, carry salmonella.  So if I agreed to a lizard as a pet, I would basically be agreeing to allow my son to play with a raw chicken cutlet.

In addition, the terrarium of the lizard has to have two thermometers, one on top and one near the bottom, because the terrarium needs to have two different climates.  Then, if that weren’t enough, you have to buy UV and UVB lights.

That brings us to the food requirements of the lizard.  They like to eat live crickets.  But you can’t just get crickets. You have to get properly sized crickets and put them in another habitat.  But you can’t just stick the crickets in the habitat and then feed them to the lizard.  First you have to gut-load the crickets.  This requires you to buy special food to feed the crickets.  Then you have to dust them with some vitamins before you can feed them to the lizard.  So basically you have to purchase and take care of some very short-term insect pets so that you can feed them to your long-term reptile pet.

This seemed to be a lot more effort than I was willing to put forth so I said no to the lizard.  Then The Good One said he wanted a gerbil or hamster, but I have a very strict no-rodent policy because under no circumstances will I ever touch the fecal deposits of a rodent.  (Google Hantavirus if you need an explanation.)

I told The Good One that these small pets were more work than a dog and that when our dog finally died, then we could get a new pet.

The Good One asked me how much longer our dog was going to live.  I told him that I had recently Googled the life expectancy of her breed and the maximum age was about 14 years.  As she is now 16, I’m hoping she’ll drop any day now.

Yes, I’m heartless.  You knew this.  Don’t act surprised.

The Good One seemed pleased with this answer and went about his business and seemed to drop the pet obsession.  About an hour later he came out of his room, crying in despair that by asking about how much longer our dog was going to live that he was somehow wishing that she’d die and he felt horribly guilty.

I comforted him by explaining that I wished our dog dead nearly every day, and since God is obviously punishing me for my lack of compassion by allowing her to live to infinity, that he didn’t need to worry about his thoughts possibly causing her death.

I told him that someone on our street was giving away puppies and that when VSM got home from work, he and The Good One could go look at the puppies and just see what they looked like just for fun.

VSM got home and they went to look at the puppies.  Right before they left, I told VSM that they were just looking and VSM reiterated that they were only looking and under no circumstances were they bringing home a puppy.  Somehow our signals got crossed because 20 minutes later the boys showed up with a new puppy.

I instantly got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I have a three-year-old who refuses to potty train.  I have an elderly, blind, deaf dog who is seeking to win the world record for longest living canine by flat out refusing to die.  And now I had a puppy that needed to be housebroken.

I went to the store to buy some puppy things, came home, saw how sweet my son was playing with his new puppy and then I instantly felt sick.  VSM and I had a brief talk where we discussed our communication breakdown and he and I made a deal: He’d take back the dog and I’d break the news to The Good One.

Needless to say, The Good One was rather pissed at me for a while.  He cried and wailed and told me he’d never forgive me, and I was okay with that because at least I no longer felt like vomiting every time I saw the puppy.  My mom talked to The Good One and made him feel better about his very brief experience as a puppy owner.  He apologized to me for saying he’d never forgive me, and then I made him some popcorn with peanut butter M&Ms and he seems to have forgiven me.

Oh, and tomorrow I’m probably buying a damn lizard.

Happy birthday to me.