Child Logic

While scratching my head yesterday as my 12-year old son tried to tell me that I should applaud him after seeing a homework assignment where he had completely phoned it in by giving lame one-sentence responses rather than writing A+ answers, I thought…HUH?

It made me think about the different stages of logic employed by the 12, 8 and 3 1/2 year old mind.  Observe:

12 year old boy

photo-19Situation: Child must be ferried from soccer practice on one side of town to baseball game on the other.  Midway through ride, child realizes that he has left his bat bag and glove in father’s car which is a) locked and b) back near soccer field.

12-year old logic: Freak out in front seat of mother’s car and demand that she turn around and magically enter locked automobile to recover said forgotten bag.

Mom logic: You blew it kid, not a big deal.  A bat is a bat is a bat; find a teammate’s glove to use until father appears with your own.  Learn a lesson.

Outcome: Exasperated mother drives home at 65 MPH, finds spare key, returns to soccer parking lot, retrieves *^&%#! bat bag, drives 66 MPH across town to baseball field to drop off 12-year old who is visibly peeved that he’s (gasp!) six minutes late.  TO WARMUP.

8-year old girl

Situation: Child lays on ground writhing in pain and exclaims, “Ben threw me to the floor!”  Brother explains that after younger sister grabbed clicker and changed channel to yet another mindless Disney Channel sitcom, he repossessed clicker and returned to watching ESPN.  Sister threw herself to floor on her own accord.

8-year old logic: “You never believe me, everyone is against me.  I hate you.”

Mom logic: “This is insane.  I didn’t witness any of this.  You both need to spend time in your room and think about how to coexist.”

Outcome: Two angry children.  One exasperated mom.

3 1/2 year old boy

Situation: Child sits in carseat while mother grinds teeth during rush hour traffic en route to pick up child’s sister from soccer practice.  Mother on cell phone trying to speak to colleague about new business opportunity while hoping that young child stays quiet.  Child looks out window at green lawn on I95 and notices 20 Canadian Geese grazing.

3 1/2 year old logic: “Mommy.  Mommy.  MOMMY!  MOMMY YOU NEED TO STOP TALKING, I AM TALKING NOW.”  “Ok, Quinn, what do you need?”  “Awww, look outside at all the penguins!”  “Quinn, those are geese, not penguins.”  “MOMMY I SAY THEY ARE PENGUINS, LOOK AT THE PENGUINS, THEY ARE MANY PENGUINS!”

Mom logic: I am an exasperated mom.  I give up.  Penguins, they are.

Outcome: (Covers phone) “Those are awesome penguins, buddy.”

My lesson?  Don’t use logic.  Just go with it.  It’s what the penguins would do.

Things I learned on First Communion Weekend

IMG_0096After spending much of the weekend in Church attending not only Georgia’s First Communion but my nephew Mac’s as well, I’d say that I’ve earned the right to act all holier than thou.  In between numerous Hail Marys and trips to the altar, I came up with Alex’s Five Commandments when Attending a Whole Lotta Church.

Though shalt bring small bills.  Why I never remember this is beyond me.  After the first collection on Sunday, I gave myself a mental pat on the back at having stuffed enough $5s and $1s in my wallet to parcel out to all of the kids.  When the second collection came around just minutes afterwards, it was either feast (all $20s) or famine (a CVS receipt and Qdoba loyalty card).

Thou shalt not resist bathing before church.  I’m not sure if it was because I was enforcing two consecutive early morning showers, but both times I was met with eye rolls and backtalk.  Even the blessed little First Communicant herself whined, “but I showered YESTERDAY before church!” as if I had asked her to give up a kidney or, Heaven forbid, floss.  I did what any good Christian mother would do: I threatened her with no cake and eternal damnation.  Eventually, she acquiesced.

THOU SHALT CHARGE THY CAMERA BATTERY BEFORE BIG EVENTS.  iPhones are fantastic when you’re in a pinch but when it comes to getting a clear picture as your child is speed-walking down the aisle, you’ll need an actual camera.  Lest you call me an Apple hater (I am anything but), I give you Exhibit A and B:

IMG_0092 This is my nephew Mac, doing about 65 mph on his way to the altar.

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Here’s Georgia, sprinting back to the family pew.

Thou shalt consider leaving the under-4 set at home.   

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After two days with Quinn on my hip in a hot and crowded church, wearing tight skirts and heels, trying to keep him pious and behaved (read: quiet) for hour-plus masses, I came to the realization that First Communions are simply not the activity for a child like him.  Let’s just say that while I should have been focusing on the sacraments being bestowed upon the First Communicants, I was actually praying for patience and forgiveness for the horrible thoughts I was having.  Amen.

Thou shalt let them eat cake.  FAST.  On both days, as soon as the kids came home from church they asked to dig into their cake and change their clothes. My sister Jennifer had cleverly taken all pictures immediately after mass and let her son have his cake as soon as he finished; the result was a happy (and sugar-buzzed) boy.

annoyed alex

I opted instead to dig my heels in, hold off for cake and presents and take family pictures when we got home.  This resulted in an extremely annoyed family and first class ticket to the very edge of my own sanity.  Behold, the most telling photo of the day (right).

Remember to keep holy The Five Commandments in your heart (and purse) during all church events – baptisms, weddings, funerals or even just a weekend Mass.  If you break even one, well…may God have mercy on your soul.

Happy Mothers Day!

There’s nothing like a homemade card from one of your little cherubs. And when the littlest angel hands you his work of art and explains, “This is me and you with mud on our heads,” you know that you are, indeed, a MOM.

Hope all the Moms, past present and future, have a wonderful day!!

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My Mothers Day Wish List

Dear Andy, Ben, Georgia, Quinn and of course, Elvis,

You all know (at least you BETTER know) that Mothers Day is a mere four days away.  While you have never disappointed me on this, the holiest of days for a harried mom, I am hoping that you could indulge me this year.  I mean, REALLY indulge me.  And I’m not talking about breakfast in bed or a spa day; what I have in mind is even better.

photo-16Ben – You’re a 12 year old boy, and you’re gross.  I get it.   You’re no different than every other guy your age.  But if you could stop coming home from soccer and baseball practice, taking off your nasty socks and leaving them (inside out, of course) in various places on the first floor, I’d appreciate it.  Playing “follow the smell” while pouring my morning coffee is not my idea of starting the day off right.

GeorgiaMy girl.  photo-18You are the one little bit of estrogen-solidarity I have in this crazy house, but my request may not be an easy one.  I beg that you never make me buy you clothes at Justice again.  EVER.  I’ve made no secret of my disdain for this store but after two years, I’ve reached my limit.   I cringe every time you receive another one of their gift cards.  My eyes hurt looking at  the neon t-shirts inside the store, and the bubble gum pop music by One Direction/Bieber/Disney-Diva-du-jour that’s being piped through the speakers makes my teeth itch.  I’ve done it for years.  I know you love it.  But it’s time…let me take you anywhere else.  From the Gap to Newbury Street, we’ll buy you an outfit in a color found on this planet.  It would be the greatest gift you could give.

photo-14Quinn – Well, my boy, your present came two weeks early as you have finally, after six months, mastered the art of pooping on the potty!  I am proud and relieved (no pun intended) that diapers are officially a part of the past.  Granted, you are SO regular that I wonder if you are part earthworm but I’m not complaining.  Now if you can just work on: learning your middle name (Andrew), not dragging the dog across the floor by his collar and that a squirrel is a disgusting rodent not to be approached while cooing, “aww, look at dat cute chick-munk!” then we’ll be good to go.

photo-15Andy – I ask that you clean the Laundry Room.  One of the 700 junk emails I got today was from Real Simple and titled, “The Space You Should Be Cleaning, But Aren’t.”  Against my better judgment (while hoovering lunch at my desk), I read it.  Did you know that we are living in a DEATH TRAP (not to mention pure squalor) by not getting through the 21 steps on the checklist?  Apparently it’s not enough to swipe the fire-hazard-of-a-lint-trap; you need to remove, wash and scrub with a toothbrush to properly clean it.  With a toothbrush, Andy!  And don’t even get me started on disconnecting the dryer hose and getting all the funk inside of THAT thing out.  Anyway, reading this article stressed me out when I realized that I’d never have the time to do it so I’d like for you to handle this.  And you know me well enough that inevitably I’ll be dissatisfied with the job you’re doing and wind up cleaning it myself, but just kick things off and I’ll be one happy mom.

photo-17Elvis – Since I recently learned the hard way that you are one of the four dogs in the history of the world who gets carsick, I’m going to have to ask that you get over your emotional issues and learn to be in the house alone without eating through metal, wood or electrical cords that are plugged into the wall.  Thanks  (and woof).

Guys, I love being your mom.  And if my Mothers Day gets me everything on this list, I will be the luckiest lady in the world.  So make your Mama proud and give me what I really want this year.  I’ll meet you in the Laundry Room.

Love, Mom

Spring has Sprung!

“Spring Fever.” Here in my neighborhood, we’ve got it bad.

ba9f29c684cadcf1eccdfcfcd5d7994fGlobal warming aside, last weekend’s weather gave everyone I know an extra “spring” in their step (ba dum bum) as we got a taste of what’s to come.  As New Englanders, we’re all raised not to trust the Indian Summer or the early snowfall, as the weather can change on a dime.  We know that it can be sunny and warm on a Tuesday and snowing the following night.  We never put those winter boots too far back in the closet and keep flip-flops on hand at all times.

But still, when spring comes to greater Boston, no one can resist giving in to it.

Earlier in the month, the temperature had climbed towards 70 degrees and I was a little thrown by the fact that it was early April.  And although the official First Day of Spring was behind us, I resisted stripping the bed of the soft flannel sheets because with my EXTENSIVE meteorological skills, I came up with (what I thought was) a great explanation:

“The calendar is a bit of a man-made invention,” I explained to Andy.  “Mother Nature adheres more to the phases of the moon than whether it’s April 1st or 30th.”

He really didn’t care (nor did he buy my ridiculous logic), as he would be spending much of the month outside coaching baseball and was happy to not be fighting off hypothermia like he usually does during pre-season.

One of the great phenomenons of spring in New England is that neighbors behave like animals that have been hibernating all winter.  Can’t you just picture the National Geographic Special on spring in the Boston area:

“Like the North American Woodchuck, the pale New Englander carefully peers out her front door as the sun peeks into the dark home.  As the sun warms her pasty skin, she decides that the environment outside of her cave is warm enough to survive in and her young come scurrying through the opening beside her. They have shed their winter coats and having fully molted, are ready to adapt to the warmer climate.”

As all of my neighbors gathered in the street, we remarked on how big the kids had gotten and how long it had been since we’d seen each other.  Balls and bikes came out of garages.  Lawn chairs were pulled out of storage.  Wine was uncorked as we celebrated the long cold months apart and ushered in the spring.  The kids discussed lemonade stands and played with Nerf Guns until it got dark.  Spring Fever had taken over!

Of course, we fear that the cold will return for one last hurrah and we’ll be forced to close the windows and turn the heat back on.  But that taste of spring reminds us all that it’s just around the corner, and here in our neighborhood, we are ready to welcome it back.

But this time, I’ll keep the flannel sheets in the front of the closet. Just in case.

Surprise! It’s Picture Day. AGAIN.

When I was a kid, picture day at school was a big deal.  Your parents picked your package (two 5x7s, four 4x6s and eight wallets) and you handed the envelope to the creepy photographer guy who had set up in the school gym.  In return, you received a cheap black comb and the opportunity to glam yourself up.  The background was blue, you had dressed in your ’70s or ’80s best and beamed a gap-toothed smile.  Six weeks later your elementary school mug was immortalized in the homes of your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  It was a carefully managed process.

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Nowadays your child arrives home from school on a random Tuesday in April and hands you a packet of 84 pictures taken the week before when they hadn’t showered in three days, wore the sparkliest shirt in their drawer and made a game-time decision that you would really prefer “the laser backdrop.”  Why are these even an option?

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I’ll admit…Georgia’s picture pack that came home today was actually pretty tame compared to previous years.  Of course I wish her hair was neater (and cleaner) and she didn’t look like she had just come from a “Dancing with the Stars” competition but hey, it could be worse.  I remember last year’s first grade pictures had her smiling against bright disco-purple and Ben’s fifth grade shot made him appear to be attending school on some nuclear-green planet. Then there was the year that Ben had run out of clean laundry and gone to school one day – unbeknownst to us, on picture day of course – wearing a one-size-too-small red Wildcat t-shirt from High School Musical that was a gift from his grandparents.  Whoops.

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When Ben was younger, we were on a really bad roll of Murphy’s Law-type accidents the night before picture day.  With injuries ranging from falling off a ladder (cut between the eyes) to an over-zealous hug (zipper gash to the cheek), we were always waiting for DSS to show up at the door producing photographic evidence of his bruised face as proof that we were knocking him around.  Scan 41And when Georgia was in Pre-K, you can imagine our delight when we found that the photographer had combed her curly hair before snapping a picture..we still lovingly refer to that one as her “Donna Summer ‘do.”

I suppose that bad school pictures are as much a part of growing up as playing soccer or learning to read, and I don’t know why they still matter so much (it’s not like our kids aren’t photographed ten times a day).  But until I get three beauties against tasteful gray backgrounds, showing clean children wearing clean clothes and smiling angelically, I won’t be satisfied.

In the meantime, you can find me riding my Unicorn around town wearing size 2 skinny jeans.

Cheeeeese!

Here we go again.

Wasn’t it just a few months ago that I was assuring my children they would be safe, and bad things like the Newtown shooting were really, really rare?  That they shouldn’t be scared because that would never happen to them?

Yet there I was on Monday, witnessing my 8-year old Georgia watch with wide-eyed horror as the news reported that a little boy was among those killed at the Boston Marathon Finish Line.

While I am hardly an expert when it comes to grief counseling, I had been fortunate to find this on Facebook…my friend and children’s book author Peter Reynolds had posted it shortly after the explosions:

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I sat Georgia down and asked her if she wanted to talk about it.  “This is the worst month of my life.  Everyone is dying.  Did you know that an 8-year old boy DIED?”

I knew that I couldn’t use the same line I did after Sandy Hook, as she was already beginning to doubt her own safety.  After all, she had stood at that very spot just two years ago to cheer on her own Father as he crossed the finish line.  I thought about Peter’s post and simply told her:

“There are some bad people in this world, and sometimes they do bad things.  But there are SO MANY more good people, and that’s something you need to remember.  Do you know what happens when those bad people try to scare everyone?  The good people get stronger.  They help one another.  They become braver.  And in the end, the bad people lose.  Remember, good will ALWAYS triumph over evil.”

I don’t know if it was the right thing to say or even if she believes it, but I know that I certainly do.  I feel scared, definitely.  Scared that something terrible could happen again in my city.  Scared that my kids will always be looking over their shoulder.  Scared that they will wonder, ”Will it happen to ME today?”

But more than scared, I feel proud.  Proud of the good people that are on my side.  Thankful that Boston is made up of so many heroes and so few victims.  And of course, grateful that my family is safe and happy thanks to those brave men and women that keep them that way.

In the end, all we can do is hug our loved ones and do our best to raise them to be good guys.  After all, what kid wouldn’t want to grow up to be on the winning team?

(Spelling) Words to live by.

While I may dread having Ben ask me for help on his 6th grade math homework (math iz hurd), I have an almost giddy anticipation when it comes to checking Georgia’s spelling.

photo-12Anyone who remembers what second grade is like knows that they’ve moved past learning how to read and into spelling different words and using them correctly.  Georgia’s Monday homework each week is to learn 10 practice words and use them in a sentence.

So help me if she reads this week’s post (I’m not worried; her time is limited, as there are SO many Teen Nick reruns to catch up on), but I’ve taken the liberty of compiling some of my favorite sentences of late.  I’m intrigued by not only what goes through her head as she’s writing these but also what her teacher must think of our family.

  1. “I’m not a human bean,” said BFG.  (Clearly, we need to annunciate better.)
  2. Quinn can’t settle down.  (Understatement of the year.)
  3. I have a iPad.   (Yet, all the technology in the world can’t teach a child that it’s AN iPad, not A iPad.)
  4. I like bubbles.  (A complex child, my Georgia is.)
  5. I’m a young lady(Debatable.)
  6. I don’t like gravy(Untrue.  I have seen her at Thanksgiving.  This sentence is a COMPLETE fabrication for the purposes of the assignment.)
  7. I have a good odor(Note to self: work with Georgia on finding different ways to use the word “odor” in a sentence without referring to her own…er, “scent.”)
  8. I like magnets.  (It’s true, she does like magnets.  She’s only human.)
  9. photo-13I’m not that crazy.  (Crazy, yes.  THAT crazy?  Aww HELLS no.)
  10. My Mom uses a curling iron.  (I don’t even OWN a curling iron!  Unless she’s talking about how I styled my awesome bangs in 1986, this makes no sense and I intend on telling her teacher so.)
  11. My Dad is a grouch when he doesn’t get ice cream when he wants it.  (Although I never knew Andy to be so adamant about dessert, I’ll be sure to pay closer attention to the grocery list.  I mean, nobody likes a grouch.)
  12. I like to prowl money into my piggy bank from my mom and dad.  (WHAAATTTT?  Girlfriend is stealing from us?)
  13. It is messy all through out my house.  (In my defense, Miss Piazza, I work full time and my cleaning people only come once a month and my husband never picks up his clothes and the toys seem to multiply and actually walk out of the playroom and, well, I can’t possibly keep up with it, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY I’M TRYING!)
  14. My Mom reads a book on a nook(Not the kind of nook her teacher was getting at but still, props for the shout out…Barnes and Noble, HOLLA.)

And my favorite of all was from last week:

15. When my mom says she loves me I can tell she is being sincere.

I guess that makes up for the slanderous curling iron statement.  Sweet, sweet Georgia.

A plus B equals…um, what does Google say?

Raise your hand if this is a familiar scene in your house:

1b23608786824f479e27167378e942f4Child arrives home from school.  Child dutifully spends 30 minutes doing math homework.  Child brings said homework to parent to check over.  Parent has minor stroke realizing that their sixth grader’s arithmetic skills have now surpassed their own.

Dare I say that the dreaded homework is even more unpleasant for the parents than it is for the kids?

Okay, I may be exaggerating a little, but not by much.  Is it just me, or has math gotten really, really hard?  I remember the big four – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – and I always thought that if you had a handle on those then you were in good shape.  Apparently, in the years between elementary school and working full-time where math consists of an excel formula or a number that your calculator spits out, there have been a few developments.

I know.  Shocking.

I’ve never claimed to have all the answers.  I am the first person to raise my hand and ask a question; in fact, the words “I don’t understand, can you explain that again?” will most likely be carved on my tombstone.  However, as a parent you want your kids to think that they can come to you for help and whether it is the correct spelling of “Tennessee” or “How do you do the Waltz?” (that was an actual Georgia question recently), you want to be able to help them as best you can.

I have found there to be five different kinds of Homework Parents.  Which one are you?

  1. The Scholar – this Modern Day Einstein actually understands what Lattice Multiplication is. They might read up on new techniques, be a NASA engineer by trade or still brag about their perfect score on the Math SATs.  Either way, they scare me.  And I may hate them a little.
  2. The Involved Parent – this adult has taken the time to sit with the math teachers at school so that they are prepared for this exact situation.  They are calm and thorough in their explanations and probably sleep with a sixth grade textbook under their pillow (they aren’t fooling anyone).
  3. The Delegator – this Mom and Dad throw money at the problem and hire a tutor for their mathematically challenged offspring.  They say it’s because they want the best for their child and although this is most likely true, let’s face it…they don’t understand it either and can simply afford the hourly rate.  To be honest, I dig this idea; I’m just far too cheap to pull the trigger.
  4. The Realist – this parent knows when they are beat.  Whether math was never their strong suit or it’s just been too long, they’ll admit to the kid that he or she will have to find a different way to get to the mathematical Promised Land.  Asking a teacher for extra help is usually the advice.
  5. The Googler – this pretty much describes Andy and me.  As I’ve stated before, I’m far from perfect and know my shortcomings; however, I don’t admit failure easily so will do what I can to accomplish my goal.  What the good folks at Google have provided is a way to save face, provided you’re not averse to a little extra research.

And so, fear not if you have found yourself scratching your head when asked for help in solving a word problem.  You’re not alone, and it makes you neither a bad parent nor a math dunce; it just makes you busy and real and, well, slightly flawed .  Like it or not, our kids already know that we aren’t perfect.  They don’t need Google to figure that out.

The way I see it, as long as I can pull off a decent waltz, I’m in good shape.

A Time to Take Stock

It’s been a hard week, and therefore I’m going to make this one short.  I’ve experienced loss both firsthand and through the eyes of a best friend and it’s made me realize that time is, indeed, fleeting.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Tell people you love how much they mean to you.  Make every moment count and appreciate what you have, because it could all be gone tomorrow.

This past week has made me think: if today were to be my last, would people say that I lived a good life?  Would my friends and family know that I’m thankful for what they have given me?  Would my children go to bed at night confident that their mother loved them fiercely?

I hope the answer to all of this is yes.  I’m trying my hardest to ensure that it is.