Don’t you just love parenting books? There is something for just about everything — potty training, raising temper tantrum-free toddlers, what to expect developmentally. And let’s not forget about a certain pre-parenting book that is infamous for contributing to (or perhaps creating) anxiety disorders. I’ve bought many parenting books over the years, and most of which aren’t useful for us beyond serving as a fire starter. (I kid — I’m not burning a $15 book and will eventually toss them in the donate pile.)
You’re probably wondering why I’m going on about parenting books, especially since this isn’t the typical parenting blog. I’ll get to that now. A few days ago, the topic of parenting books came up in a discussion my husband and I were having with another relative. I pulled out a few of the books I’ve purchased over the years. I had books on positive parenting, parenting the whole-brain child, raising a gifted child, and parenting a defiant child.
We had a laugh over the books — mostly because of the defiant child book, which I purchased before Baby Girl came along — and then my husband made the comment, “If they really wanted to help parents, they’d make a book called How Not To Kill Your Kids.”
We had another laugh and then I had a light bulb moment — “Ooh, I could use this for my blog! And I could do other book titles that would’ve been more useful, too!” (My light bulb runs at a low wattage, in case you’re thinking, “WTH, this is what she considers a light bulb moment?”)
Without further ado, here are a few parenting books I should’ve read instead. (Click image to magnify.)
(I’m totally gonna use Shut The Fudge Up when I write my bad mom parenting book.)
I forgot to put the parenting books back on the shelf last week. Baby Girl ripped the page out of the book about positive discipline. Minutes after I corrected her, she used a crayon to scribble in the book about the defiant child.
There are lots of ways that you can piss off your kids. Tell them that screen time is over for the day. Mention that bath time or bedtime is just around the corner. Announce that no more fun will be had until the toys are picked up and the house doesn’t look like a tornado came through.
All of these things will certainly make little tempers flare and have them shooting daggers at you, but wanna know the worst thing you can do? Offer them something healthy when they ask for a snack — they’ll treat this as the ultimate act of betrayal, one that is worthy of a spot in the ninth circle of hell.
Now I much prefer snacks of the non-healthy variety, too. My “never saw a gap” thighs can attest to that. However, most of my non-healthy snacks are consumed after the kids go to bed, in an effort to minimize the bad example I set for the kids. Unfortunately, Little Man is catching on to that. He once mentioned how unfair it is that the parents get to stay up and watch TV and eat junk food after he goes to bed. Dude, I just listened to 10 hours of nonstop chatter about Pokemon, Minecraft, Peppa Pig, and farts — you really wanna talk about unfair?
For the record, I’m not a total junk food Nazi; as evidenced by Baby Girl’s love of popsicles, they get sweets. Maybe too many sometimes, especially if we’re going to Chick-Fil-A with their amazing ice cream and follow that up with a trip to Walmart, land of the free cookies. But I do try to make sure that most of their food doesn’t have a lot of added sugar and actually has some nutrients, which makes me a bit of an asshole mom in their eyes.
Despite being pretty reasonable, both kids still try to find a way around the rules (pretty sure they’re hard-wired to do so). Sometimes they think whining will do the trick, which is annoying, but other times their attempts are rather humorous.
This one is from when Little Man was around age 4.
No beating around the bush with him!
Last week, Baby Girl went at it from a different angle.
Back when I was a kid, an older cousin (who was more like an uncle) gave me a Crown Royal bag. It had some money and a buckeye nut in it and was immediately one of my favorite things. What’s not to love about a cute little drawstring bag, right? And then my grandmother saw it. She was less than thrilled with the bag and didn’t want me to keep it because people might think that we were drinkers. Between that and a cigar box my dad gave me, clearly I was out to tarnish the family’s reputation.
A couple decades later — with little in the way of a good, wholesome reputation — my husband and I have accumulated a few of these little bags. We have been known, on occasion, to go to the Alphabet Store and purchase the purple bags. Sometimes I’ll get a green bag, since that holds the apple flavored whiskey. (I’m not usually a whiskey drinker, but the apple whiskey mixed with apple juice is amazing.) Those bags usually make their way into Little Man’s hands since they’re awesome for the hundreds of rocks, twigs, pieces of metal, chunks of cement, twist-ties, and other odd things he hoards.
One day we decided to go to Chick-Fil-A for a little lunch and playtime. They have an indoor playground, so we can usher the kids in, stack some chairs in front of the door, and then enjoy our lunches without waffle fries being thrown about. Or something like that. Anyway, Little Man asked if he could bring a toy in and was told that was fine. Just as we reached the door, my husband gasped.
The fun bag:
“You can’t bring that in here!”
My husband said and made Little Man take the fun bag back to the car since he didn’t think it was “appropriate to take in a family establishment.” Party pooper. In reality, I think we would all benefit from having a fun bag while being subjected to the play area at Chick-Fil-A, or any other place where kids are hyped up on ice cream and sweets, for that matter.
When you have young kids, you tend to do things that would make the casual observer raise their eyebrows. Things like having toddler potties in non-bathroom areas, making transportation noises for a spoonful of food, and singing songs to encourage picking up toys, brushing teeth, or using the toilet.
And then there is the clapping. Good lord, the clapping.
There are many times when you genuinely want to clap for the stuff your kid does. Crawling for the first time; those first steps; not spitting out spinach baby food; catching a ball — those are all very deserving of clapping.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Eventually some children — cough, mine — expect you to clap for everything. It’s hard not to share in their enthusiasm, but after they’ve done a certain mundane thing X number of times, you’re not feeling it quite as much.
And other times, they don’t want you to clap for milestone type things so much as they want you to clap for things that were never goals in the first place.
Sorry, Baby Girl — you were the gassiest baby I’ve ever met. You did “drunk frat boy after eating a greasy pizza” type farts when you were less than a month old. They horrified everyone, and I’m pretty sure there were a few times people thought we were letting one rip and blaming it on the baby. I’m used to your “fahts” by now, so you’re not getting any claps on this one.
Sometimes kids want claps just for literally nothing — not for making a hoop for the umpteenth time or for flatulence. They just want claps and they want them now, dammit.
Before I develop carpal tunnel syndrome from all the clapping, maybe I should just download an Instant Audience app for my iPhone. Not only would there be lots of claps at the press of a button, but there could also be cheers and maybe even rebel yells. Or, if I’m lucky, maybe there would be boos and jeers that would come in handy for other situations — like being a sassypants or smudging my freshly cleaned glass door. Lazy parenting for the win!
Instead of asking what silly thing your kid likes to be clapped for, what do you do that deserves being clapped for once in a while?
A few weeks ago, I had fun with graphs. I showed that children are clingy as hell when you need them not to be. That was probably already a universal parenting truth, but the graph made it official. Today you get a few more graphs on parenting lessons I’ve learned. (And I had an idea for a cute pie chart, so there will probably be even more graphs in this blog’s future. Yay — I think?)
The first lesson I’ve learned has to do with puking in the car.
Back when Little Man was a baby, we bought a used car that was a few years old. It wasn’t overly nice, but the price was right, it was safe, and it got us where we needed to go. If something got spilled in it, it wasn’t a big deal — that kind of car. Care to guess how many times LM puked in that car? Once.
We now have a pretty new (we bought it brand new a year ago) and expensive (for us) car. It has all the bells and whistles, leather seats, and is just gorgeous. Now would you like to guess how many times that car has been puked in over the past year? Well over a dozen. The last time was yesterday, which just happened to be a few days after I cleaned it good and conditioned the leather. Little Man got car sick. He was able to get some of it in a paper bag, but as luck would have it, the bottom of the bag collapsed.
The next lesson has to do with diapers being soiled. This particular lesson is what made me take Baby Girl’s diapers a little earlier than planned, because I was annoyed with 30 cents worth of diaper being ruined in five minutes.
Baby Girl was one of those kids who often wouldn’t poop unless she had on a clean diaper. As soon as you’d take the diaper full of pee off, she’d work her magic and ruin a brand new diaper by crapping in it. This was true as a baby and true as a toddler. After we got to the point where I knew that she could tell me and use the toilet, that whole “get changed and squat” act started wearing thin. Diapers aren’t that expensive, but still.
The last one is something I’m sure all parents — heck, anyone who has ever given a child a gift — are familiar with.
That’s right — spend a buck on something and you’re guaranteed hours of play. Spend $50 on something and it might get played with a grand total of five minutes. Such was the case with Baby Girl’s birthday party over the weekend. We were supposed to have a pool party, but decided to move it indoors the morning of the party because of rain. We went to Walmart and bought some stuff to have indoors to make sure the kids would be entertained. We had a little bounce house that the toddlers spent a few minutes on, a bowling set that I don’t think anyone touched, a bean bag toss that wasn’t touched by anyone other than adults, and then we had some balloons and pool noodles that cost a grand total of $4. I don’t even have to say which items the kids gravitated to.
Any lessons or other universal parenting truths you’ve picked up on that you’d like to see in graph form in a future post?
On Friday I listed some of the ways that I’m rocking motherhood. Today — Father’s Day in the U.S. — it’s my husband’s turn to be in the spotlight. I’m going to share a few (of the many) ways that he rocks, plus include a couple of examples from the kids.
He is the king of impromptu dance parties. My husband will break into song and dance at a moment’s notice. Location does not matter — home, a friend’s house, the checkout line at Walmart…all have served as temporary dance clubs for him hundreds of times. I’m not gonna lie — sometimes I find this embarrassing depending on where we are and what’s going on. But you know what? He teaches our kids to be spontaneous, to live in the moment, and do what makes them happy. The kids love it and join in while their curmudgeon mom watches.
His mama bear mode is downright scary. Of the two of us, he’s definitely the one who’ll go mama bear on someone if he thinks they have wronged his kids, no matter how minor the transgression is. My husband is the shoot first (by “shoot” I mean ready to rip into someone) and ask questions later sort. Do. Not. Mess. With. His. Kids. Sometimes this is comical — especially when one of the injustices the kids claim to have suffered is total bullshit — but I know they’ll always take comfort in knowing they’ve got someone who will be in their corner no matter what.
He never scorches the grits. Certain individuals in this household — cough, myself — have a tendency to burn things. Not my husband. When you have a child who is the queen of picky eaters, it’s pretty important that the foods she will eat actually be edible (and not turn her off from eating them in the future). So it sounds silly, but he never scorches my daughter’s favorite food in the world — grits. He always makes them perfect, and he even discovered that he can scramble an egg and mash it up just so to add it in to sneak extra protein to Baby Girl.
He’s a big kid at heart. No one rocks play time better than my husband. I enjoy playing with my kids, but I’ll admit that there are some things that I just barely tolerate. That’s not the case with him, though. Whether they’re playing with the Peppa Pig figures, cars, or something mind-numbing like Candyland, he always gets into it. He’s a master of voices and sound effects, and the joy he takes in playing with his children is simply beautiful.
And now for some input from the kids:
“He holdsme.” I fully expected Baby Girl to say something about popsicles or ice cream when I asked her what her favorite thing about her daddy is, but this is what she chose. As safe as I find his arms, I can only imagine the comfort her tiny little self must find in them.
“He’s the best at cuddles.” This one is from Little Man — apparently my husband reigns supreme at the holding people game!
Happy Father’s Day to my husband and to all of the other loving, involved fathers and father figures out there!
Right now you’re probably thinking, “What kind of awful person writes a post about how she’s rocking the mom thing two days before Father’s Day? Thunder thief!” Well, no, you probably aren’t thinking that at all (unless your name is Monica Geller), but I needed to start this post off with something, and that works well enough.
So, now that the awkward opening paragraph is out of the way, I’d like to say thanks to Crystal who blogs at The Messy Truth of Mommyhood for including me in the #RockingMotherhood Challenge! Her blog is nothing short of awesome, and I encourage you to check it out.
The goal of this challenge is to list ten ways that you rock at motherhood, which is easier said than done, so you’ll get a mix of seriousness and silliness. Here goes…
I’ve got mad monster detecting skills. When Little Man was younger, he went through that phase of being scared of monsters being in his closet. We’re Lord of the Rings fans, so to allay his concerns, I got out my Sting replica sword. If you’re not a LOTR person, know that Sting was the sword (well, dagger, technically) that Frodo carried. Whenever orcs (big baddies) were nearby, the sword glowed blue to warn Frodo. I walked around Little Man’s bedroom and showed him that since my sword wasn’t glowing, there weren’t any monsters. It worked.
The kids are fed every day. Do I make cutesy foods? No — I’m pretty sure that I’d fail so badly that it’d make them less likely to eat their food. Do I burn the shit out of food? Sometimes — there was the flaming donuts incident. My food might not be artistic or non-scorched or exceptionally nutritious, but they do have full bellies — despite their claims of starvation directly before bedtime.
My kisses have healing powers. It doesn’t matter how bad the fall is, a kiss from their mommy makes everything better. Little Man might be getting older, but even he still finds comfort in a little peck on a banged up arm.
I can withstand certain methods of torture. Sleep deprivation. Eating at McDonald’s. Being forced to listen to the same song thousands of time. This is not an exaggeration — Baby Girl had had two “nighttime songs” for the past almost three years that help her go to sleep. One of those songs has been on repeat for most of the past two years for at least 20 minutes per night.
I teach them. I worked as an English teacher for one year before having Little Man. I used to say that I wouldn’t go back to teaching, but the joke’s on me — I never truly left. I teach kids every single day. Sure, that’s my job as a parent, but it’s one that I definitely rock. There are some things I wish I wouldn’t have taught them (like how to burp the alphabet), but as long as I can teach them self-love, it’ll more than even out.
My ninja skills are off the charts. So, I might not have the best sense of balance or be able to use nunchucks without hitting myself in the face (FYI — toy nunchucks hurt worse than toy swords), but I can totally dodge some puke. And even if I do catch some spatter, I’m usually quick enough to grab a towel or bucket or shift the kid away from me so that they aren’t going total Exorcist girl on me.
We laugh a lot in our household. Little Man once told me that while I’m not as funny as Dory in Finding Nemo, that I’m hilarious. Thanks, I guess? (No really, thanks — Almost Dory Funny is pretty damn good.) Laughing and cutting up is the norm for us, but let me tell you, being able to make your kids laugh is a great weapon to have in your parenting arsenal. Many meltdowns have happened in our home, but many meltdowns have always been avoided thanks to my goofy faces.
I encourage them to be creative. Sometimes that backfires a bit when Little Man comes home talking about using stuff on the playground to try to make weapons, but creativity is definitely valued in our home.
I have two little stalkers. This one is my husband’s. I asked him for some input, and after saying a few sweet things, he mentioned this one. “Surely that has to count for rocking motherhood,” he told me. Despite all the things I feel that I do wrong every day, I still have two little shadows who want to hang out with me in the bathroom after Taco Bell wreaks havoc on my intestines. That tells me I’m doing something right.
My kids are very compassionate. There’s no joke tied to this one. Teaching our kids to be compassionate to others is one of the most important things we can do as parents, and my kids regularly show compassion to others. This one isn’t so much #RockingMotherhood as it is #RockingParenthood.
The kids have great taste in music. My children have each had a Hanson song that had to be on repeat in the car this week. As a Hanson fan who won’t call herself a Fanson, but does have a Hanson Fan Club membership card in her desk drawer, this makes me happy. I’m pretty sure their dad wouldn’t say I’m rocking motherhood for this one. (For the record, they also like The Beatles, Radiohead, Weezer, and much more.)
Again, thanks to Crystal for including me on this challenge. I hope some of you other mom will participate and that some of you dads who are clearly rocking fatherhood will write the ways you’re #RockingFatherhood, especially with Father’s Day around the corner.