Tag Archives: funny

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

I remember teaching my third grade students to think like writers – to live like writers.  I encouraged them to see their lives through the eyes of a storyteller.  Oh, how I loved teaching writing.

I miss those students.  Some days I think teaching a class of twenty-two children belonging to other people is easier than managing a day with two children belonging to me.  I digress…

Just as I taught my students, a continual narration runs through my head regularly.  As I experience a long drive in the car with my kids, I imagine the parts I would tell you.  Certainly, I’d include this conversation:

“Mommy!  Mommy!  Open your eyes!  Mommy!  Mommy!  Open your eyes!”

“Bunder, I know you have lots to tell me, but Mommy really needs a nap.  Will you please be quiet while I sleep?  Watch your movie or color with your crayons.”

“Okay Mommy.  I’ll be quiet so you can sleep.”

“Thank you, Pumpkin.”

Ten seconds pass.

“Mommy!  Mommy!  Are you asleep?  Mommy!  Are you asleep?”


Sometimes, I’m so caught up in watching the story unfold, narrating it in my mind that I forget to react.  I forget to parent.  I know!  I’m that lady- the one sitting back all calm and reflectively watching my children wreak havoc on innocent bystanders.  Such was the case earlier this week.

All day Sunday and most of Monday morning, I built anticipation with my children to visit the Butterfly House.  “Oh, I can’t wait to see the butterflies!  I can’t believe the blue Morphos are back!  I wonder if one will land on me again this year.”

Why do I do this?  I’m not certain.  Is it to extend the fifteen-minute trip into a grander excursion than it really is?  Is it to encourage cooperative and obedient behavior prior to the journey?  Or is it my own twisted masochistic tendency?  I think the latter.  Surely, after this many years as a stepparent and parent, I should know better.  All too often circumstances outside of my control ruin my schemes.   Ah, the best laid plans of mice and moms.

Truly, I blame myself for Monday’s calamity.  After all, I stoked the fire of excitement for Bunder and Kiki.  I built the Butterfly House up so high, not even Godzilla could climb it.

I thought these thoughts as I watched my offspring kick and pound on the doors of the Butterfly House Monday morning.  Over their shrieks and cries, I attempted to read the sign to them, “Closed on Mondays.”

They didn’t hear me.  I stepped back and observed.  Dreadful to admit, I wished for a video camera to record their tantrums.  No video camera existed, so I pressed record in my mind – narrating the story as I watched.

Seconds, (okay maybe minutes later), I snapped out of my trance as other parents tried to console my kin.  I tried not to laugh (okay, I did laugh, but I tried not to – shouldn’t that count for something).

For the benefit of the bystanders, I said all the things a parent should say in such a situation, “Oh, I know you’re upset.  I’m upset, too.  I feel frustrated that the Butterfly House isn’t open today.  See the doors are locked.  We can’t go inside.   Don’t worry.  We’ll come back tomorrow.  Blah, blah, blah.”

I said all this while I half carried, half-dragged Bunder and Kiki toward the car.  This was not an easy task with a 25-pound toddler, 35-pound toddler, and 10-pound diaper bag.  But of course, I deserved it.  I was the nitwit who set up this disaster.

At least, we made it through the doors on Tuesday.


Pooping in Public

Kiki pretends to bite Bunder who sits next to her in the shopping cart.  Bunder screams hysterically, “She’s going to bite me!  She’s going to bite me!”

Sometimes Kiki does bite Bunder, but only when she deems necessary (e.g. he takes her toy away, bonks her on the head, pushes her down, etc.)  In the shopping cart, she’s doing it to experience Bunder’s fun reaction.

I distract them with snacks, mini Nilla wafers and yogurt raisins.  They eat quietly, while I attempt to find juice with the least amount of arsenic in it.  “Did Consumer Reports recommend Mott’s or was it Juicy Juice?  They didn’t test the H.E.B. brand.”  Bunder distracts my thoughts with the one sentence all moms in public places dread to hear…

“Mommy, I have to go poop.”

Because I’m trying for the mom-of-the-year award, I attempt to talk him out of it. “Are you sure?  We’re almost done shopping.  Don’t you think you can wait?”

He refuses.  I sigh and ask the closest sales associate for directions to the restrooms.  Of course, they’re on the exact opposite side of the store.

Approaching the restrooms, I look for a family room.  “This will work,” I talk to myself.  “I’ll just push the cart with Kiki into the bathroom like I do our stroller.”

Oh, wait.  My cart is full of food and my options are “Men” or “Women.”  (Recently, in my foggy Mommy state, I took Bunder into Men’s room thinking, “Okay.  He’s a boy.  Gotta go in the boys’ room.”  I saw the urinals and snapped out of my daze).

I throw my huge diaper bag over my shoulder, because I don’t dare leave my wallet, iPhone, and snot rags in the middle of the supermarket aisle.  I unstrap and heft Bunder out of his seat.  Then I do the same for Kiki hoisting her on my hip while balancing the diaper bag and holding Bunder’s hand.

“Don’t touch ANYTHING,” I hiss at both of them.

Inside the restroom, I gag at the smell.  Bunder instantly drags his fingers across the metal stall doors.

“Don’t touch!  Don’t touch!”  I scream.

I choose the largest stall and try not to retch at the sight of the less-than-clean toilet.  I glance around at my options for placing Kiki.  I can’t hold her and hold Bunder on top of the four-foot high toilet at the same time.

I cringe as I set Kiki standing on the ground next to me.  “Don’t touch anything,” I warn for the umpteenth time.

She instantly walks to the door and grabs for the latch.  “No!  No!”  I scream, “Don’t touch!”

I wipe off the toilet and examine Bunder.  “I guess I have to remove at least one shoe.  Otherwise he won’t be able to straddle the toilet,” I think.

“Okay, Bunder, Mommy’s going to take off your shoe.  No!  No!  Don’t sit down!  The floor’s dirty.  No!  No!  Don’t grab the toilet.  Hold onto me for balance.”

I set Bunder on top of the toilet in an awkward position.  It looks as if he’s doing the splits over the toilet and about to topple into it head first.  I squat next to him holding his torso to steady him, but he grabs the toilet in between the toilet seat where I didn’t wipe.  “No!  No!  Don’t grab that!  Put your hands up here,” I move his hands to the seat.

“Uh-uh!  What’s Kiki doing?”  I think as I glance behind me.

“No, Kiki!  Don’t touch the floor!  What’s in your mouth?”

We finish, and I take turns holding each of them up to the sink.  I try to balance them on my knee while scrubbing their little hands.

We make our way toward the back of the store, as I daydream about showering them with disinfectant.

When will I learn to quit grocery shopping?

Just Write

Grocery Shopping Hell

“To err is human; to forgive, divine,” Alexander Pope once said.

As a mother, I’m no stranger to errors.  I make mistakes ALL the time.  I lose my patience and raise my voice when I don’t need to.  I squander my time in e-mail and find Bunder, Kiki, and my expensive Italian Paisley duvet covered in Vick’s Vapor Rub.  I give in to tantrums in public (sometimes – I’m trying hard not to).

I make mistakes as a wife, a stepmother, a sister, and a friend.  I make mistakes all over the place, but some mistakes cost a lot more than others.  Last Saturday’s mistake scores an eleven on a ten point scale of painful.  Horrible, no good, awful mistake.

I’m telling you this story in hopes you can learn from my mistakes.  (Cliché – I know.  Deal with it.)

Typically, I prepare menus and a grocery list for the upcoming week on Friday.  Then, on Saturday morning, after my long run, I grocery shop – by myself.

Well, this past week, I didn’t go for a long run – in fact, I didn’t run at all, because I was recovering from the marathon.  Since I wasn’t running, everything was out of sync.  I didn’t prepare a grocery list, and I didn’t make plans to go to the store without the kids.  Before I knew it, it was late Saturday afternoon, we had no fruit, no milk, no cheese, nothing for dinner, basically nothing at all, and it was my turn to watch the kids.

“No biggie,” I thought.  The kids have enjoyed riding in the racecar shopping cart the last few trips to the store, so this’ll be fine.  Mister offered to take the kids, but I declined.

Lesson #1

When husband offers to watch the children, NEVER – I mean NEVER say no.  Furthermore, if possible, do not take children to the grocery store.  Make every attempt to leave all or one at home. 

The parking lot is full – I mean jammed full of cars and people and dogs and cats and monkeys and gorillas…

So full, I drive around looking for a spot to park.  As I drive, I notice the absence of the racecar shopping carts.  Lord, help us, if we don’t find a racecar shopping cart!

I’m in luck!  I spot one, lone, red racecar.  Quickly, I pull into a spot (far from the store), jump out, lock the kids in the car, and run two rows over to snag the last racecar cart.  Swiftly, I push it back to the car, disinfect the seats, handles, and steering wheels with Clorox wipes.  I load both kids, strap them in, hand them snacks and drinks, and race to the store.

Except the racecar cart isn’t racing.  “What the heck?” I wonder.  I have to use all my might to keep it moving in a straight path toward the store.  It doesn’t want to move forward.  It keeps pulling to the side.

The cart is broken.  Do I switch out the kids to a regular shopping cart amid screams and protests or do I make myself suffer?

“It’ll be a nice workout,” I decide hurrying into the produce section.

Lesson #2

Don’t settle for a broken shopping cart.  What seems like a nuisance in the produce section will be an all out nightmare in the milk and eggs. 

Inside the store, I carefully evade the numerous shoppers and pause to fumble for my impromptu shopping list.  While I’m digging to China in my huge diaper bag, Bunder pulls an apple off the shelf and starts eating it.

“Oh, no!  Don’t eat it!  It hasn’t been washed!”  I yell pulling the apple out of Bunder’s hands.

He screams for the apple and Kiki screams for her own apple calling it a ball.  I try to distract them with their snacks.

The saga continues throughout the store.  Bunder screams for something he sees.  Kiki follows suit.  I run into not one but THREE people with my broken cart, because it’s next to impossible to turn and the store is SOOO crowded which brings me to

Lesson #3

Grocery shop during the week – preferably early in the morning or late at night to avoid crowds. 

Literally, an hour later and halfway through the store, Kiki starts shrieking and crying inconsolably.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out what’s wrong.  “Is she hurt?  Did she bite her tongue?  Did Bunder poke her in the eye?”

I read the stares of the countless people in my same aisle, “What’s WRONG with that lady?  Why can’t she comfort her kid?”

I give up, unstrap her, and pull her out of the cart.  – BIG, SUPER BIG mistake!  She’s happy as a clam; which makes me realize she just wanted out of the cart but now…

Lesson #4

Never take your child out of the shopping cart unless you plan to keep them out of the shopping cart the remainder of your visit. 

She won’t go back in the cart.  Every time I start to set her down in the cart, she arches her back and screams bloody-murder.  I give up and settle her onto my left hip.

Picture this, I’m now holding my toddler in one hand, attempting to maneuver a broken racecar shopping cart with the other hand, and a two year old screaming for watermelon and cantaloupe and other ridiculous things.  Welcome to grocery shopping hell!

Lesson #5

To make your grocery shopping more efficient, write out a list according to the store’s sections. 

I started sweating.  The baby was slipping off my hip with every push of the cart.  I couldn’t find my list, but I knew what I wanted to do with it – and it wasn’t cross off another item.   I headed straight toward the checkout.

Upon checking out, the bagger couldn’t find a place to put my 12 pack of Diet Coke on the broken down racecar shopping cart.  I guess all the yelling, sweating, and whining (plus the commotion coming from the kids) distracted him, so he precariously balanced it on top of the rest of the groceries.
Still holding Kiki, still listening to Bunder whine about something, I push the broken cart through the crosswalk toward the parking lot and think, “What else could possibly go wrong?”

Halfway across the main drag, in the middle of traffic with cars lined up waiting for me to cross with my entourage of screaming children, the twelve pack of soda falls off the cart.  Soda cans roll down the street in every direction.

Lesson #6

Boycott supermarkets.  Eat out instead. 

Smashing Bubble Guns on Valentine’s

Usually I buy books as presents.  I love books – especially new ones.  (Reading “Dump Trucks and Diggers” one more time will definitely test the limits of my sanity).  However, this Valentine’s day, I bought bubble guns instead.

The inspiration came from a recent Superbowl party, where the kids had the best time with the family’s bubble gun.  I shopped our local Target and couldn’t believe what I found – an entire aisle devoted to bubbles, bubble blowers, bubble guns, and bubble machines.

I took a stab at comparing styles and prices, but Kiki kept spilling her popcorn on the floor (on purpose) and Bunder kept screaming, “MOMMY!  Kiki spilt her popcorn!  LOOK, MOMMY!  Kiki made a mess!”

Of course, this made Kiki laugh and repeat the procedure, which in turn made Bunder yell louder and with more intensity.

I grabbed the $4 guns, thinking, “Can the $8 guns really be that much better?”  All the packages read something similar – spill proof, drip proof, extreme bubble fun, etc.

The night of February 13th, I laid out what was left of the kids Valentine’s gifts: bubble guns and miniature tin hearts.  (Kiki found the big stuffed dogs in the back of our walk-in closet a week ago).  I double-checked the seal on the tin hearts to make certain the dog couldn’t open them and eat the chocolates like she did the chocolate bunnies out of the Easter baskets.

At 5:30 the next morning, the kids squealed with delight at the sight of the new presents on the living room floor.  The squeals turned to screams when they couldn’t open the packages.  I tried to tear open the bubble guns, but had to race into the kitchen for scissors.  Back in the living room, I opened the packages causing two AA batteries to fall out – choking hazards for Kiki. Quickly, I whisked the bubble guns and batteries back to the kitchen with two whining toddlers following me.  I searched the cabinet for the miniature screwdriver I use to install batteries but couldn’t find it.  Luckily, I found it in the second place I checked, Mister’s desk drawer.  Carefully, so as not to lose the tiny screws, I unscrewed the back of the bubble guns and fitted the batteries.  I waited to attach the bottles of bubbles.

Bunder seemed content to blow things with the bubble gun as it produced a soft fanning of air.  Kiki couldn’t care less about the bubble gun; she wanted chocolate.  I promised as soon as the sun came up, we’d test out their bubble guns in the backyard with the bubbles.  Oh joy!

An hour later, I began changing the kids into warmer clothes (it was barely 40 degrees out).  I found their coats, hats, mittens, socks, and shoes and attempted to dress them.  Kiki cried and tried to escape.  Bunder threw fits not wanting to wear his coat, hat, or gloves.  “It’s not cold out, Mommy!  It’s hot out!”  He yelled.

Finally with much sweat and tears, we made it outside.  Kiki wandered off to play in the sandbox.  Bunder and I attempted to use the bubble guns.  “Attempted” is the key word.

I don’t know what kind of crack head created the descriptions on the package, but my idea of “extreme bubble fun” is not waving around the bubble toy, shaking it, rinsing it under water, blowing on it, and feeling cold bubble fluid drip down my arm and pool near my elbow.

Drawn by the outrageous Mommy dances and the wild screams of Bunder, Kiki ran over to whimper at my feet and watch the action.  I felt crazy inside – how could a sweet Valentine’s present turn into such a nightmare?  I imagined smashing the bubble guns on the concrete patio, stomping on them, breaking the cheap, stupid plastic toys into a billion bits, all while shrieking like a banshee and waving my arms like a monkey.  I wonder where Bunder gets his temper?

After much trial and error, I was able to get one bubble gun to blow a few intermittent bubbles out by pulsing the trigger and holding it at a distinct 45-degree angle to the ground.  Much to Bunder’s dismay, he couldn’t repeat the process exactly, so he never did get to blow bubbles with his gun.

Next year, I’m buying books.

Mad Gab, the Toddler Version

Oh, what are the games that Baby plays

With those who love his baby ways? 

I’ve read these lines many times over to Bunder and Kiki as the first page in the story, Play with Me by Esther Wilkin.  Somehow, these stanzas kept playing in my head as I returned to bed at 12:47 a.m.

At 12:39 a.m., I awake with a start to Bunder screaming from his bed.  Groggily, I make my way across the house to his bedroom.  The house feels cold compared to my soft, warm spot under the goose-down comforter next to Mister.

As soon as Bunder sees me, he begins yelling something unintelligible through sobs.

“It’s okay.  It’s okay.  It was just a bad dream,” I try to soothe.

“NOOO!!! “  He shrieks louder, “I wanna blah, blah, blee!”

I have no idea what he’s saying.  Therefore, I attempt to use logical reason based on experiences to construct my best hypothesis.  All of which is very difficult to do in the middle of the night with a two-year old bawling in my ear.  The game of Mad Gab –Toddler Version begins…

“You have to go pee?”

“NOOOOO!!!  More screeching and crying, “I wanna blah, blah, blee!”

“You want to brush your teeth?”

“NOOOOO!!!  Blah, blah, blah, blee!”

“You bit your cheek?”

“NOOOOO!!!  Blah, blah, blah, blee!”

“You want some cheese?”

“NOOOOO!!!  Blah, blah, blah, blee!”

Clearly, Bunder is winning this round.  I can barely make out the last word ending in a long e sound.   I throw in the towel, offer him a sippy cup of water, and pray he goes back to sleep.

Oh, what are the games that Baby plays

With those who love his baby ways? 

Kiki has a fun game.  It goes something like this…

Look what I found lying on the ground.  Is it an acorn, a berry, or dog poop?

Now you see it!

Now you don’t!

Oh, what are the games that Baby plays

With those who love his baby ways? 

A Black Fireman

“Look Mommy, it’s a black fireman!”  “Mommy, look!  A BLACK FIREMAN!” Bunder’s yelling this from the second seat of our double stroller as he points to the Fire Station Lego set he’s holding in his lap.  Kiki’s strapped in front of him.  I’m pushing the rig through the busy aisles of our local Target.

I start to panic.  I remember reading in NurtureShock, if I shush Bunder, he’ll think he said something wrong – or worse yet – he’ll think I have something against black people – which I don’t.  I love black people!  Well, I don’t mean anymore than I love white people or Asians or Hispanics.  I’m not saying I love them more – like their race is superior or like I have some weird racial preference.  Oh, my, I’m sweating.  This is all so not p.c.

The book said not to react in a negative way when children notice racial or ethnic differences.  It’s natural for them to notice these differences.   As parents, we should not pretend to be color blind, because our kids are definitely not!  I know what not to do, but what should I do?

People passing by start to do double takes.  As I rush past them, I see them turn to others and start to say, “Did he just say …?”

“A BLACK FIREMAN!  LOOK!  LOOK!  A BLACK FIREMAN!”  Bunder’s now singing it as if he’s just created the latest chart-topping hit.

I laugh nervously and pull into a vacant aisle.  Squatting next to the stroller, I say, “Yes, yes, I see the black firefighter.  You’re right – it is a black firefighter.  Do you see the dog?  What kind of dog is it?  It’s a Dalmatian.  See.  It has black and white spots.  And, OOOOH LOOK!  This Lego set comes with a fire hydrant and hose.  Oh, that’ll be so much fun to play with when we get home.”

Bunder studies the box and I race to the front of the store hoping to catch an empty checkout lane.  Just as we reach the shortest line, three carts deep, Bunder starts singing again, “A BLACK FIREMAN!  I SEE A BLACK FIREMAN!  A BLACK FIREMAN!”

I smile and nod to the crowd of gawkers as they start to whisper God only knows what.  I daydream about being a less conscientious parent – you know – someone who doesn’t try to read about doing everything right in every single parenting moment.  If that were the case, I could shush him, tell him to be quiet and threaten to take the Lego set away.  Instead, I listen to


linking up with Just Write

Don’t Pee Where You Play

Photo of Bunder as taken by Ruth of http://hammerandthread.blogspot.com/

I’m sitting at a picnic table at an outside eatery looking over an enclosed playground.  I take another sip of my Fireman’s 4 and the last bite of my cheeseburger as I check for Bunder.  (Only in Austin, can you enjoy a beer at 11 a.m. at a mom’s meetup and be a part of the norm).

Bunder’s climbing the rock wall to the top of the playscape.  Kiki’s nestled in my lap nibbling on the forgotten french fries in front of her.  Six or seven other moms gather round the table: some sitting, some standing, some bouncing babies in their arms.  All moms and kids seem to be enjoying themselves.

I can’t even remember the conversation – I just remember thinking, “I love moments like this – total bliss – the kids are playing and the moms are connecting.”

Suddenly, another mom is startled, “Oh no!  Someone has his pants down!  I see little boy parts!”

Everyone jumps, “Who is it?  Who is it?”

Who do you think it is?  I’ll give you one guess.

I race across the artificial turf still holding Kiki.  I reach Bunder just as the flow begins.  “What do I do?”  I ask another mom close to me.

“Just let him go and use it as a teachable moment– ‘don’t pee where you play.”

I laugh, “Don’t pee where you play!  Love it!”

I look around for other parents – parents I don’t know who might be disgusted.  Everyone seems to be looking away, not paying attention.

“Look Mommy!  I peed on the woodchips!”  Bunder announces with pride.

“Yes, yes.  I see.  I’m glad you peed,” I whisper as I quickly use my foot to cover his urine spot with additional wood chips.

“Just like kitty litter,” the mom close-by comments.

I laugh nervous and slightly mortified that my child just exposed himself in public and urinated smack-dab in the middle of the playground.

Then, I crouch down to Bunder’s level (still holding Kiki) and say, “I’m so glad you knew you had to go pee.  And what a big boy to pull down your pants and pee all by yourself, but next time we’re out and about you need to let Mommy know before you pee.  We shouldn’t pee where we play.  Other kids might think it’s gross.”

“Mommy, I peed on the woodchips!”

“You sure did!  Next time, let’s remember we don’t pee where we play.”

“Mommy, I peed on the woodchips!”

“Yes, yes!  That’s great!”  I concede.  And in many ways, it is great: 1) he didn’t pee in his pants, 2) he pulled down his pants by himself, and 3) he executed the pee perfectly by sticking out his hips and not dribbling on his pants.  All in all – a potty training success story.

It’s just too bad another kid might walk or play in his urine.  Let’s try not to think about it.

linking up with Just Write

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