shake it off; you’ll be fine

Twenty years ago, before I had children of my own, I taught seventh-grade language arts.  I became a decent teacher, but my first year, I was a disorganized mess.  At one point, I had my students working on a group project.  Each group was assigned a short story to read and present to the class.  The presentation was supposed to include a dramatic scene from the story.

One of my groups painted a brick wall on butcher paper and taped the paper over a book shelf to be used as their backdrop.  In the final moments of their scene, one student, Heather, was supposed to punch a hole in the fake brick wall.

The scene went well, but when Heather threw her punch, she inadvertently landed her fist on the lip of one of the shelves.  Instead of punching through the paper, she ran her hand into wood.

She was momentarily stunned.  Obviously hitting wood hurts.  She asked to go to go to the nurse.  “Shake it off,” I said.  “You’ll be fine.”

The next day Heather arrived at school with a cast on her arm.  The poor girl broke her wrist.

I was reminded of this story yesterday when I took my youngest daughter to our pediatrician.  “She has a cough,” I explained.

“How long has this been going on?” Doctor Dave asked.

I counted days in my head. “It started when we got our new puppy.  I’m worried she might be allergic to him.  She’s been coughing for about three weeks.”

Our doctor listened here and there with his stethoscope.

“She has walking pneumonia,” he said.

Initially I was so relieved.  “So Ella isn’t coughing because of the puppy.”

“No,” Doctor Dave said.  “She is coughing because of the pneumonia.”

“So, I guess she’s probably not just gonna shake that off?”

Our new puppy, who did not cause Ella's pneumonia

Our new puppy, who did not cause Ella’s pneumonia

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my confession

Here is my darkest confession:  I don’t monitor how much TV my children watch.  Yipes!  I know, terrible, right?  But listen, I bicker with my teenagers over chores, and grades, and bed time, and cell phone use.  I insist on table manners, and firm hand shakes, and coughing into elbows.  I point out rudeness, and disrespect, and negativity.  I remind them to save their money, change their underwear, apologize with sincerity, and show gratitude.  I praise honesty, a sense of humor, creativity, and clean hair.  By the end of my day, I really don’t care if they are vegging out in front of Duck Dynasty as long as they are not smoking pot, injecting heroin, getting drunk, or cyber bullying!

My four-year-old has dialed into my slacker attitude when it comes to television.  She pays equal attention to the shows and the commercials.  She often informs me of shampoo that will make my hair shiny, detergent that will keep our clothes stain-free, and cereal that looks really yummy.  Last night at the dinner table, she told us that there is a machine that makes homemade ice cream.

“You just put in the ingredients, and the machine blends it all up until it is ice cream.  Can I have one of those?”

My strategy when one of my children asks for something is to formulate a vague response like, “That sounds sooooo interesting!”  And then hope they forget about it in twenty-four hours.  Frankly, with my four-year-old, this has been a successful approach, but in this instance it didn’t work.  This morning Ella came into the kitchen crying.  I have mentioned before that Ella is Scarlet O’Hara in pink footsie jammies.  She has a flair for drama and prefers to play the role of damsel in distress.

“What’s the matter?” I asked, my tone full of sugar and love (It is important to stay calm here so as not to escalate Ella’s anguish.)

She sobbed into her hands.  “You know that ice cream machine I REALLY wanted?”

“Yes.”

“I can’t have one,” she bellowed, wiping snot across the back of her hand.  “The man on the TV said you have to be eighteen years or older.”

a solid nine and a half

I have not been in the mood for writing.  I realize this leaves all of you missing me terribly, but give me a break, people; I actually have a life beyond WordPress.  There are two reasons not much blogging has occurred on my end.  One, the weather in the Pacific Northwest has been amazing.  For those of you who live in other parts of the world, here in Washington state, the winter leaves everything with a sticky slime of pale-green moss.  Instead of writing,  I have been pressure washing.  I am sure you were frantic with worry, dying for news on my end, but the truth is my lawn furniture looks amazing and my patio is slime-free.

The second reason I have not been writing is because my family has been particularly boring lately and none of my children have done anything remotely stupid.  Still, it has been awhile, so I decided to fill you in on my Mother’s Day.

Despite the fact that I missed my mom, I had a great day yesterday.  I got toast and coffee in bed and spent my morning watching the finale of Fashion Star.  (spoiler alert: Hunter Bell wins).  Last year for Mother’s Day, I got some Target bubble bath and a giant Hershey’s bar.  I have been complaining about these gifts for a full year.  So, this year my four-year-old made me a card and did her very best lettering.  My fifteen-year-old son made me a tin and copper ring which he soldered himself.  My seventeen-year-old daughter bought me some Dior makeup (which I pretty much told her to buy and circled in a catalogue).  And my husband gave me a poster-sized photo of himself.  Fortunately, my husband has an administrative assistant who told him, “you can’t just give Kate a giant photo of yourself.” and directed Tim to the Red Door Spa where he smartly purchased a gift certificate :).

My oldest child made me salmon fettuccine for dinner, but I still had to clean up the dishes.  On a scale of one to ten, my day was a nine and a half.

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pressure washed patio and super clean lawn furniture. I have been very busy!

giant photo of Mr. Congeniality.

giant photo of Mr. Congeniality.

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ring made by my son

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mother’s day card and gifts

inside her head, it’s real

Yesterday, I spent part of my afternoon arguing with my three-year-old over whether a rabbit could lay eggs and hatch chicks.  She claimed that her bunny, Groner (who doesn’t actually exsist anywhere except inside Ella’s itsy-bitsy head) laid several eggs, and they hatched into chicks.

In a tone I hoped was supportive but also conveyed my concern that Ella might be out-of-touch with reality, I said, “You know, rabbits don’t actually lay eggs.”

Upon hearing this, my baby flew into a rage, called me an infidel, and threatened to have me killed. (OK, that is not exactly what she said, but that was what her tone implied.)

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Because I am not afraid of death threats from a three-year-old, I yapped, “You are a sissy-punk kid who doesn’t know anything, and even if rabbits could lay eggs, Groner would not be able to ‘cause he is a frickin’ boy!”  (Again, that is not exactly what I said, but that was what my tone implied.)

Then, Ella said, “Mommy, you hurt my feeling when you say Groner can’t lay eggs and have baby chicks.”

I felt bad, so I kissed her a million times, backtracked, and said, “Groner can totally lay eggs and have baby chicks by the dozen.  Plus, there is a special bunny owned by the Cadbury Corporation who lays chocolate eggs every year at Easter.”

There’s butt talk everywhere

Because I hate the word fart and because my teenagers are too cool to use the word toot, my husband has created the term butt talk to refer to all things gaseous.

My husband and I had climbed into bed, confident that our three-year-old was fast asleep. Just as I settled into my perfect sleeping position, I heard, “Mommy . . . Mommy . . .,” from across the hall. Dragging myself up, I made the well-worn trek to my daughter’s room.

“Will you sleep with me, Mommy?”

Inside I am screaming, “Noooooooo,” but I take a deep breath and snuggle in next to her. I brush her bangs from her eyes and reach over to rub her back.

“My room stinks,” she said.

“Hmmm,” I reply, because every mother of a toddler knows that you can’t engage a three-year-old in conversation if you are trying to count the minutes until they fall back asleep.

“Yes,” she said. “It really stinks! Daddy leaves his butt talk everywhere!”