Tag Archives: siblings

Desperately Seeking the Humor in Perfect (ly Flawed) Children

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I used to blog a lot more often than I do now and coming up with a legitimate excuse for the slowdown has been well, trying.  It’s certainly been easy enough to wallow in a series of unfortunate events, specifically, that my original blog site of 5+ years just up and shut its doors with a month’s notice.  It forced this self-proclaimed techno-tard to start anew, without a built in (and – cough – ego-soothing) fan base of hundreds of readers that I’d come to kinda sorta delight in.    I’m still clumsily navigating my way through what millions of other bloggers do with ease and truth is, sifting through (and sure, reposting) five years worth of material is sometimes easier than coming up with new and exciting stuff.  It shouldn’t be this hard but when a personal pity party combines with life whizzing by at a Nascar pace, it’s daunting in more ways than one.

 

I still own four kids and (God Almighty, YES) they’re all still doing incredibly stupid and blog-worthy things but here’s the thing:  as we’ve all aged in the six years since I first began telling tales about them, it now seems to be taking longer – wayyyy longer — to find the humor in all their trials and tribulations.

 

Almost  unbelievably it seemed one day I was spilling stories about a kid hawking his Dollar Tree fig newtons for lunchtime profit and the next I was gasping for air in a teenage tsunami of sneaking out, drinking, lying, denting fenders, …

 

What the …?

 

Kind of a bummer, right?

 

I find myself suddenly pondering when and how this particular nonsense might become hilarious and where, oh where, are those damned little Legos that used to claim my unsuspecting arches and find me howling in fury?  If I had a dollar for every time I ranted about wet towels on the floor I’d have a down payment for a liquor store I now need to get me through this adolescent and early adulthood stage of development.  It’s seriously making me pine for the sleepless nights of infancy.

 

Little kids, little problems.  For sure.

 

So yeah, I’ve been a bit stuck for a while.

 

Lucky for me I’ve discovered that life can surprise you, can inspire you and can smack you in the ass every so often and make you feel creative again.   Thanks to some pretty amazing people I have decided to try to get back on my horse and get this blog thing up and running more frequently.

 

For the inaugural Boston performance of “Listen to Your Mother” I spent my Saturday on stage with some ridiculously inspirational women.  I sat among a Teacher of the Year, a Boston Globe columnist, a bunch of published authors, an adoptive mother of nine (not a typo) and a slew of other professional and remarkable women I at times couldn’t even comprehend why I was with.  I’ve really got to admit, I couldn’t help but feel electric amid them.

I soaked in undeniable energy from my co-performers but also had a different, more personal source of motivation for wanting to be a better blogger.  The faces of my kids were in that audience and they were beaming.  That was kinda cool.  Even my daughter, the topic of my adored piece, was smiling.  Fun fact:  she had the chutzpah to take a bus in from college to see the show – even after I’d texted her the photo of all the empty liquor bottles I’d just found under her bed …).  That girl’s got moxie.  Like her mutha.  I like it.

Maybe seeing their mom up there “killing it”  (their words) was more cool than it was embarrassing.  Maybe all the dumb-dumb things they’re doing right now really aren’t that funny but probably are very universal for parents of high school and college kids.  Maybe continuing to blog about them might make other moms realize (sing it, Billy Joel) that we will allllllllll, go down, TOGETHER.

 

So I’ll go back to jotting down all my little thoughts like I used to do (because now that Middle Age is my friend, these ideas and anecdotes fly in …. then out … of my head without a shadow of proof they ever existed to begin with (ugh…  gotta write it down sistas, ya got to……) because every now and then a bunch of funny thoughts makes a funny little blog.

 

I’ll leave you with my unexpected morning: Fourth born (seventh grader) tells me that after a week’s vacation, he was up at 4am “almost” throwing up.  It’s not that I don’t love my Little Baby Fug to the moon and back, but (sigh) he is my pathological liar.  Since I had to spend my morning screaming and grounding and taking away electronics and unhooking  Xbox AND locking the cable box … I was steamed.  Who pads their morning routine for crap like this?  Not me.   When I came home today he was working on a poster/project that mysteriously went untouched all week.  He probably won’t get sprung until Memorial Day.  Dummy.

See?  I’ve got tons of these.

Stay tuned.

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Do(uche) We Really Need to Discuss This Now?

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All I remember is that it started with sperm.  There I was, frying up some egg sandwiches and before I knew what was happening, there were giggles and roars and it dawned on me that the boys were using the word sperm in their banter.  Third and fifth grade.  Terrific.  The thing is, I probably should’ve seen it coming – just last week one came in to rat on the other that he’d just been accused of having a mangina (you know, instead of a manhood).

 

Joyous.

I took a breath.  I can do this, I thought.  I’ve done it before.  A couple of years ago while driving around with my then-fifteen-year-old he referred to someone as a douche bag. (Flash-forward to today and this word has appallingly become part of the teenage vernacular, used in movies and television and sooooo not a big deal.  But back then it was merely on the horizon and I was aiming to halt it.)  In the best smart-ass-y voice I could muster, I asked,

“Hey, do you even know what a douche bag is?”

“No.” was his shrugged response.

“Well,” I started cheerfully, “it’s actually a bag of cleaning fluid a woman squishes up into her vagina to clean it out.”  Cue in wide grin.  “Cool, huh?”

He would’ve jumped out the window had he not been temporarily struck by mortification paralysis.  But I think it went well:  I never heard the word come out of his mouth again.

So apparently here was my déjà vu.  I had to dish out some more blunt, in-your-face reality but I was ready.  I was the master.  This was going to be cake.    Plus, as an added bonus, I had BOTH of them right there – I wasn’t going to have to go through this twice.   I looked at the two of them and began.

What I said was, “Do you even know what sperm is?”

What they heard was, “Unleash the titans.”

I spent the next twenty minutes fielding their questions…. and then extinguishing their subsequent fits of laughter at my responses.   When they weren’t falling off the counter stools in hysterics (at the thought of sperm shooting  out of the hot dogs they bite into) they were squealing at situations their sharp little brains conjured up (“…..so then Mom…where do….gay men…. put their… penises….into?”)

Good God.  All this and an explanation of porn before ten in the morning.

I did my best, answered truthfully and stressed the seriousness of taking all private matters well, seriously.  It’s a tough paradigm shift:  Kids are exposed to so much junk in such comedic ways it’s no wonder they think every sexual scenario is out of a “Superbad” movie.

Chivalry may be dead but  now modesty is on a respirator.  Good times for kids.

So it was a morning for the books.  And —  for Mom getting through it —  an evening for Bud Light.

For the record, the discussion didn’t end at the kitchen counter.  My husband found a reason to grab my 10-year-old for a Sunday car ride and got through a much needed follow-up-father-son discussion without the added distraction of a younger brother (or – cringe — food references).

And alas, before the weekend came to a close, that crazy karma came sniffing around again.

 

“Mom, I have a question…..”  My son’s voice trailed off when he noticed his brother within hearing distance.  I gently inquired if it was a question which might be best asked in private.  “I don’t know… I just don’t understand a word.”

“It’s okay, just ask.”

“What does douche mean?”

 

Baaaaahhhhhh!

 

I got this one.

 

 

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Little Baby Fug

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I should have seen it coming.

I should have known.

I should have been prepared.

But why would I ever think the odds were going to tilt in favor of irony when Fate had been so kind to me before? I had tested her and tempted her on three separate occasions, and now fickle Fate was sending me a message: the well of good fortune had run dry and that was it.  We were done.

So my fourth baby came out, well, ugly.

He was tiny—for us—a scrawny eight pounds compared to his robust siblings, my smallest yet. My runt. I remember calling my bestie  Betsy and whispering into the phone from my hospital bed, “No… he’s really not like the others.” There was more surprise than shame in my voice, but it was okay; I could tell Betsy these things—we’re that close. Truth be told, she was the only one I did tell. We often joked that if either of us ever had an ugly baby, we’d be the kind of mother who knew it. None of this isn’t-he-beautiful-just-ignore-the-lazy-eye nonsense.   We had a clue. We would know. And so I knew.

“I’m sure it’s not so bad,” she soothed across the miles. But I could tell what she was really thinking: It’s about time, bitch.

She was right. My first three kids were beautiful. Not beautiful in the  “all kids are beautiful” sense of things but seriously, really beautiful. The kind of beauty that may very well garner them an extra day for a term paper. Or perhaps a cab right away. Or maybe an undeserved second interview. That kind of beauty.

I suppose it was bound to happen eventually, but boy, did I feel bad for this little guy. Everyone—everyone—notices the obviously ugly, the decidedly different sibling. They’re the stories of legends. The Cinderella stepsisters. The Ashlee Simpsons, racing to plastic surgeons to keep up with sexy sisters. The sad little Shaun Cassidys forced to belt out lame pop ditties just to measure up to teen idol brothers (who doesn’t shudder at “Da Doo Ron Ron”?) The Titos, Jermaines and La Toyas of the world. What about all those other Baldwin brothers? Anyone know any of their first names?

This baby was doomed.

“He looks just like the others!” my mother shrieked with delight. But I knew the deep, dark truth.

My oldest son, eight, was the epitome of Gap commercial cuteness. My daughter, six, was a sassy, stunning siren. My toddler, 18 months, sported delicious ringlets and smiled constantly. Was it any wonder that I’d become jaded by perfect jaw lines and bedazzled by blue eyes?

When firstborn arrived, naturally he was perfection personified (as all firstborn are). There is no scrutiny or comparison with a firstborn. Ever.

When second-born came, she was the prototype First Girl in the family. She could have been born with antlers and we’d have eaten her up all the same.

When third-born joined us I hadn’t held an infant in my arms for a stretch of four years, so it was like having a firstborn all over again (only with two little potty-trained elves running around helping me fetch things). It was bliss. Third-born could have been Rosemary’s Baby, but I was so thrilled to have him I never would’ve noticed.

This fourth time (my predetermined final time) when forced to look at three other adorable frames of reference, I noticed.

I’d been traveling a precarious road all along, waiting for the other shoe to drop because really, our family is an oddity. My husband and I absolutely should not have the kids we do. Really. My husband is Greek, Puerto Rican, Irish, geez… too many more to mention. I am Irish, German, Italian, a dash of Hungarian… you name it, and we’ve got it. We are the United Nations of genetics. Also, we are dark—and not exactly, er…shall I say, slight (visualize a chunky caricature of Gabby and Carlos from Desperate Housewives.) Yet all four spawn are miraculously light and—how about that irony again—remarkably thin. Our children turned out wrong by every account.

So I imagine it was time. I loved my littlest creation and held him tightly for his first two years as he cried and cried and cried. I’d silently question the sincerity of people when they’d remark how cute, or delightful, or lovely he was (clearly they were just being polite). And life went on. Fourth baby got toted around to school assemblies and soccer fields and play dates like all other youngest siblings—like a little piece of Samsonite.

Ah, but it turns out that Fate’s got a grand sense of humor.

Somehow, sometime, when I’d stopped paying attention, my littlest creation sort of fell into line. He became un-ugly. Today, many years into his happy little life he is as easy on the eyes as the others and (perhaps for greater irony) may very well be our standout swan.

Which makes me wonder: Was my ugly duckling actually an ugly duckling all along, from the beginning? Probably not, judging by his photos (which are naturally fewer than his siblings.  Naturally, tthis is okay; it is the documented rule of birth order). And did he cry as incessantly as I remember, or was I perhaps a bit more frazzled and older and less patient to handle him? Likely. More, was I just being judgmental and shamefully hard on him? Regretfully, yes. (Paging Joan Crawford?)

But, oh, that fickle Fate. It’s funny how she works. My perfect firstborn? He’s a teen right now and sure, he’s a hottie. But let’s just say if I had a dollar for every missed homework or incomplete assignment Boy Wonder tosses into the big black hole of his life, I’d be sitting pretty right now. He is clueless beyond reason, without a strand of street smarts running through his veins. His beauty was a tradeoff: I gave him life, and he gave me a facial tic. And stunning second-born royalty is still a stunner, but her sarcasm is insufferable at times, bound to repel unsuspecting nice boys. She is destined for spinsterhood in the future if she doesn’t watch it. Third-born’s luscious ringlets are long gone, but he’s still a looker, only the laziest child I’ve ever met. Presently he’s attempting to complete the fourth grade without lifting his head off his desk. I watch the three of them and thank my lucky stars they are blessed with good looks, because I fear they will desperately, sorely need the boost in life.

And that ugly little fourth-born? He’s having the sweetest revenge of all. Not only is he smart and respectful and motivated; he is, well,if I have to admit,  my sweetheart. A living doll, enjoyed and loved by all who meet him. I’m hoping he never knows my first impression of our first meeting until he’s old enough to laugh about it.  And I am financially able to cover his therapy costs.

My ultimate confession to Betsy has become a running joke that continues in our lives. For years following our private exchange, she remarked in wonder every time she saw him, “Ah, here he is, Baby Quasimodo.” Her eyes twinkle with sarcasm, but I can always detect the dig in my good friend’s voice: It figures, bitch.

 

 

 

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