Monday, October 27, 2014

Guest Post: Children Should Never See Their Mom in Her Underwear


I am always looking for new voices to guest post on Only-Mama. I strong-armed encouraged a friend who does not normally submit her writing to the Internet At Large to guest post  today.

I love her voice and her story. I give you Children Should Never See Their Mom in Her Underwear by AnonyMama.  I think you'll agree that she should keep writing!


***


I am a single mother of two children. My daughter, The Bug, is 9 years old and my son,The Boy, is 6. I feel we do well together, a healthy balance of ridiculousness and responsibility. I let my kids watch TV, YOUTUBE, listen to risque music and talk openly with me about whatever comes in their minds. I allow them to censor their own activities and rarely do I need to intervene. This works well for me because I like to shower during awake hours, and take long naps and spend more than 3 seconds in the bathroom at a time. I recently did have to censor a young female pop artist based only on her album cover. I told my daughter at the time that I am sure the female star is great, however wearing a G-String for the world to see did not sit well with me.


Nicki Min-no.
Image: http://nuhitz.com/


As we were driving home from an outing gone horribly wrong the other night, the kids were talking in the back seat about popular music. The Bug mentioned to me that she was on her internet radio station and saw the female artists’ album cover. I mentioned that as women we really should be mindful of how we present ourselves and not have our G-strings hanging out. The Boy asked from the back seat “what’s a G-string?’’ and the few sentences that followed in the dark car that night will haunt me forever. My head started giving me answers on how to help my son understand the G-String. I struggled to think of what to say because my very own dresser drawers hold (maybe) 3 pairs of full bottom underwear, the rest thongs.



Are you sure it's not
 a hammock for a hamster?


“What’s a G-string you ask? Well, you know what my underwear looks like?” I know the car is dark inside but I still refuse to look in the rear view mirror to see The Boy’s face. He mumbles something in response.  “A G-string is much smaller.” For some reason I kept on talking that uncomfortable mom talk to try to smooth things over, but I was making it worse. I blurted out, “children should never see their mom in her underwear.”

The Bug started to go into great detail about how one morning she was sick and sleeping in my bed. I had to get ready for work and while getting myself dressed I told her to close her eyes. She opened them and saw me getting dressed and, of course, my thong.

The Boy started to tell me how one time I was getting dressed in my room and he was there. I told him to turn around so I could change. When I was getting dressed he forgot and turned around and saw me without my bra on.

I laugh when I think about all of the things I try to do to protect my kids from the outside world. But it turns out I am sometimes the biggest threat! Will this make me change my behavior while getting dressed with them in the same room?  Probably not. Will I continue to censor them from Nicki Minaj? ABSOLUTELY!



Sunday, October 26, 2014

In Which We Take Dog to the Vet




If you read my post about Dog's allegedly fragile self esteem, you know Dog has been acting out lately.  He's particularly fond of grocery bags, both disposable and reusable. I was concerned about this sudden obsession, so we took him to the vet. 

Trader Joe's bags are delicious

I did some googling about suddenly destructive dogs, and I was worried about tooth aches and brain tumors, so I figured before I yelled at Dog excessively I should rule out any medical problems. 

ME:  Dog has never been destructive. Now every morning I wake up to a pile of shredded things. 

VET:  Well, he doesn't have a tumor. He's walking fine, there's no indication of neurological issues. His teeth are fine. No fever. He looks happy.

ME:  He's 11 now, and my ex has a dog that is also 11 and that can no longer go all night with out going to the  bathroom. Maybe he's frustrated that he has to hold it too long?

VET:  Wouldn't he just go on the floor instead of shredding things?
(Looks at me like I am a nut case who knows nothing about dogs.)

ME: Well, there's a lot of construction near our house. Could he be stressed out from all the noise?

VET:  Wouldn't he shred stuff during the day, then?  Why would he wait to shred stuff at night when it was quiet?
(I was starting to think he thought I was an idiot. I was starting to think he had a point.)

VET:  He could have developed obsessive-compulsive disorder.  We could give him Prozac.  Are you sure he has never been destructive before? It's rare for a dog to suddenly develop destructive tendencies. 

ME:  No, he's never shredded anything. (pause)  Well, he used to eat crayons, action figures, blocks and Thomas Trains. But nothing that was mine. 

Um, wait. Dog has always been destructive.  He just ate the kids' stuff. I never cared until it was my stuff.  Yes, I did just pay someone $47 to have the realization that I may be selfish and self-centered. Just a bit.   

VET:  And when did he stop eating all the plastic toys?

ME: When I made the kids clean the house regularly. 

VET:  So he's always been destructive and ate plastic. 

ME:  Well, yes. 

VET: Have you considered buying him a chew toy?

ME: Um, no.

VET:  They sell them at many stores. Dogs like them. 

Dog thinks the Vet is tons of fun


MORAL #1 = Keeping a clean house is stressful to Dog. 

MORAL #2 =  I am an asshat who only cares when the dog eats my stuff.

MORAL #3 = Dog is just an asshat. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Questionable Item Found in the Fun Mix Machine


I picked up Tiny Pants and Big Pants from school and went to the grocery store on the way home.  The kids are agreeable to grocery shopping - they get a free cookie in  the bakery and sometimes get a toy from the little machines on the way out.

Big Pants has pretty much outgrown the little machines, as his brother calls them. He realizes at the whopping age of nine that mostly they contain useless crap that breaks before you get home, but Tiny Pants is still enthralled with the promise of the unknown bounty they contain. His favorite is the one labeled Fun Mix, or perhaps Good Time Mix, I forget the exact name. Instead of having themed toys, say all tiny football helmets or sticky fruit on a string, it has a plethora of good and bad toys. He is always disappointed with his prize, but he keeps hoping. 

There was the gold bracelet that broke before we got home, the tiny molded plastic animals that are too small to play with, and a lot of large plastic dice that always end up on the same number no matter how hard you throw them.

Yesterday, he was bummed out in the dramatic way of six year olds when he opened his magical plastic bubble to reveal a wad of blue sticky stuff. 

BIG PANTS: That's what you get for choosing the Good Time Mix. 
TINY PANTS: It has a hole at both ends!  Wait, never mind, it's a bracelet. I like it Mama. 

Seeing as I was driving, I didn't bother to look over my shoulder for this conversation to verify what his toy was until I got home.  He took off his bracelet during a heated round of duck,duck,goose we were playing and asked me to put it on the table for him. That's when I saw this:




Um, not sure that's a bracelet kid. It looked suspiciously like something designed for adult pleasure, only of a cheaper material.  Perhaps the filler of the little machines got his stop wrong, and this was intended for a bathroom of a particular kind of bar. 

But maybe it really is a bracelet. Maybe I see things less innocently than most. All I know is he is not wearing it to school, in spite of what he thinks.  That's a conversation with his teacher I'd rather avoid. 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Eye of the Artist


Tiny Pants loves art. He wants to be an artist some day. His artwork is not particularly exceptional for a six year old, but he spends a lot of time on it and it makes him happy. 

Not only is this a fine thing in and of itself, but it is much nicer for Mama to watch him draw in the kitchen than to watch him play sports outside in the cold, so it's really a win-win.

(He doesn't like art class at school. They are very restrictive in what he has to do and what colors he can use. I understand that they are trying to teach him theory, but he gets very sad and asks "Why won't they let me add a sunset to my picture? It needs a sunset.")

At home he can draw or paint whatever he wants.  The only problem is the mountain of drawings he piles on the table every night as gifts of love.  To solve this I asked him to make me bookmarks. I showed him the width of my roll of clear packing tape, and explained that I could easily laminate small pictures and use them everyday. 

He thought this was a grand idea, because he wants his art to be visible, useful, and valued. Even though he still mostly makes things on large pieces of paper, he occasionally brings me something small enough to use as a bookmark. 

I got this one this week:



It's a Yeti's legs, in case you couldn't tell.  Just his legs. That's all he needed. I think it's my favorite thing ever. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Concern for Dog's Allegedly Fragile Self-Esteem


Nothing noteworthy has happened in Dog's life of late.  His food hasn't changed, his dog bed has not been washed against his will and we did not get a new pet.  Life is exactly the same this week as last, just like the one before and the one before that.

For some reason, Dog has taken to chewing  things, not just predictable things like the garbage either.  He's gotten a taste for tubes of acrylic paint off the kids' art shelves, and most baffling, plastic grocery bags.

I know. They look irresistibly delicious, don't they?


Dog is an old dog, 11 years or so. His hearing is questionable. Or he uses his age as an excuse to pretend not to hear me.  (Which seems more likely.)  And I'm tired of no one in the house ever listening to me.  So I tend to scream genteelly  at the top of my lungs when I find one of his new disassemblage art projects. 

"Bad Dog!!"  

I'm not very creative when I'm forced to touch wet slobbed on bits of tissue off the bathroom floor. 

Tiny Pants confronted me on this yesterday.

"Mama, when Dog eats the garbage, you shouldn't call him a bad dog."

(I didn't say that when Tiny and his brother aren't home, I'm more likely to call Dog something with a hole at the end of it.)

"He's not a bad dog, Mama. He just does bad things sometimes."

Where is my child learning this positive self-esteem language thing?  And why is it that he spends less than 8 seconds paying attention to the dog all day, but will rise as his champion now, against Mama?

Sigh.  He's not a bad dog, he's a dog that sometimes does bad things.  But Stop being naughty and please desist in this negative attention seeking behavior is not very satisfying to yell.

I guess I'm stuck with No and Stop it when the kids are home. Perhaps I can just yell Bad!  and not personalize it with his name.  Or maybe I'll just dog proof the house and let the little bugger live out his final years in peace.  

You couldn't stay mad at this face, could you?


Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Hidden Benefit of Grownup Time


I don't go out very often when I have the kids, and when I do, the babysitter comes over after the kids are in bed and they don't even know I was out and back again.


Only a few times a year do I get a sitter to come over when they are awake and actually put them to bed.  It's mostly guilt - I only see them five days a week, not seven. They have two whole nights every week of no Mama.  The fact that those nights they are with Daddy and not a random sitter should be a mitigating factor, but it's not.  The fact that I do not work outside the home should also reduce my guilt, because they are no longer going to after school care. Five days of 24 hour Mama should count. But it doesn't. 

I hated when my parents went out. I hated babysitters. I totally and completely relate to my kids in this.  But I am relating to them from a place of childhood memory, with an immature gaze, not with the adult perspective I have gained in my forty plus years.

When I do go out when they are still awake, there's a lot of drama. The minute I tell them about my plans there are tears, lots of tears, complete with heart-broken  faces mourning the loss of Mama. By the time I actually leave the house I have yelled at least once about how I only go out a few times a year and I am entitled to attend grown up events every now and then without them giving me a lot of crap.  Of course I don't really say crap. 

By the time I leave, I'm so frazzled and irritated I've often lost the desire to go anywhere.  When you are paying a sitter by the hour to go out, it starts to feel like you need a large amount of fun to justify the trauma and the expense, and paying a sitter does not guarantee fun. 

So last night we went out. and all those things happened: the tears, the guilt, the irritation.  But because I don't go out that often, I had forgotten something even more important.

Peace.

I came home to children that were asleep without me having to forcing the planets into alignment to make it happen, as I normally do.  I woke up to a quiet house and a happy heart.

"Does anyone want turkey bacon?"  I asked, surprising myself.  I cannot remember the last time I made the kids turkey bacon for breakfast.  I don't eat it and it's messy and more work than toast or cereal, but they love it. I also gave them candy for no reason what so ever. 

Wait, could going out at night have given me more patience with the kids, and even made me enjoy them more?  And those kids that need Mama, Mama, only Mama? There are blissfully ignoring me, eating bacon and watching TV. Happy Mama might actually make happy kids. 

Is there an added benefit to going out, that lasts longer than the break while I'm gone?  Who knew?  Apparently I should go out more often and feel less guilty.   

(Also, we won a trophy.)



Friday, October 10, 2014

Say What?





I have a lot of almost-words.  These include words I write but can't pronounce, and also auto-correct words.

Auto-correct words are words that you know vaguely how to spell them or say them, so you get close enough that auto-correct figures out what word you are shooting for and fixes it for you.  It works very well when typing.  Not so well when speaking, because there is no auto-correct for conversation. 

This wasn't a problem for most of my life. Most people I knew didn't really know the real word either, and if I was close enough, they let it slide.  Or maybe they were polite.

It was only when I started dating someone who knew whole words, not just almost-words that I even realized how many I used in a given day.  Then I went back to school and met a lot of people who knew actual words, and suddenly I felt only quasi-educated.  Educated is different than intelligent, by the way. I try to remind myself that being less educated doesn't mean I'm less smart, it just means I failed to pay proper attention in class.  If you know me in real life, this will not surprise you.

My kids have decent vocabularies, which of course I credit myself for. I never dumbed down my conversation with them and give them definitions to words they don't know. I also restricted them to a lot of PBS programming when they were little. I have to admit that words like "symbiotic" and "metamorphosis" were taught by the television. But then I can always fall back on my good genes to keep my ego at full tilt.

Until last night, that is.  Last night I was hollering (hollering is kinder and less serious than yelling) at the kids to get ready for bed.  Because they can tell the difference between a holler and a true yell, they were ignoring me. 

Mama: I said, put your pajamas on!
Tiny Pants: I am!  I'm getting myself situated!

Wait - did he say situated

No, I was not filled with pride. That's not where I'm going with this.  I was cold hard busted.  Situated is one of my almost-words. I pronounce it "asituated" which is close, but not correct. I know that, but I've said it wrong for so many years that the wrong version sounds right. 

I had to accept that his vocabulary is not coming from me anymore. He's speaking real actual words that I struggle to say, so someone else's influence is winning out. yeah, that school place I send him is doing their job. 

But this means I have to step up my A game.  I have  to actually learn real words instead of almost-words, and be able to say them, not just write them using autocorrect.  I better do it quick, before he catches on.  

(Let's not even talk about diagraming sentences, which Big Pants is learning and I know nothing about.)