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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's Not Fair!

I'm kind of a sleep Nazi. Ever since my kids were young I have kept a regular bedtime. A few years ago, when I mentioned my eldest daughter's bedtime was 7:30 p.m. (she was 8 years old), a stay-at-home dad responded, "Yeah, good luck with that." I smiled, because I didn't need the luck. Lily gets up at 6:00 a.m., so asking her to go to bed at 7:30 p.m. (and probably falling asleep around 8 p.m.) wasn't really difficult.

Now she's 10 years old (she'll be 11 years old in February) and she thinks her 8 p.m. bedtime on school nights is ridiculous. Mind you, she still gets up at around 6:00 a.m., only now it's more like 6:30 a.m. So, frankly, going to bed by 8 p.m. and reading until 8:30 or so is, again, not a stretch for her.

 The other night, however, she wanted me to hear her case. I found the following note on my pillow:

It says: "Dear Mom: Stop treating me like I am a baby. It may take me 5 years before I sleep in. Am I going to go to bed at 8:00 until I am fifteen? Write back! Love, Lily.

I wrote the following: Dear Lily, I love you. Now go to bed. Love, Mom.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Nothing Like Family

The other morning, Aimee came downstairs and announced, "Mom, I've decided. I don't want to be a zoologist anymore."

"You don't?" I asked. "Why not?"

"I've decided I want to become a famous Olympic gymnast like Gabrielle Douglas," she said.

Before I could say anything to support her, Lily said, "Um, Aimee? That's a great idea, but I just want to tell you - you may want to have a back-up plan."

So much for lofty goals.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

You Got That Right, Kid

Every parent I know has the same complaint: we have to repeat ourselves over and over again just to get our kids to finish simple tasks. I, for one, am sick of sounding like a scratched CD. So, I decided to fine my kids $1.00 for each offense.  If I have to say, "Brush your teeth," or, "Put away your dishes," or, anything more than once, they are instructed to march to their piggy banks and hand over a dollar.

Damn, am I rich now.

The other day, after Aimee lost all the money she had saved, she asked if she could speak with me privately.

"Sure," I said.

"Close the door," she instructed. I did as I was told and took a seat next to her.

"Mom, is there any way I can get that money back?" she asked.

I smiled. "Well, no," I said. "But there is a way you can stop losing it."

"But mom," she cried, "I can't!"

"Yes, you can," I said softly. "You can just do what needs to be done without messing around. You're a big kid now and you don't need my constant reminders."

"But mom!" she started to wail, "It's so hard! I can't change!"

I tried not to smile until she said, "I've been this way my whole life!"

Friday, March 9, 2012

Guilt Trip

After five years of a blissful, pet-free life, my children finally convinced us to get a dog. My husband - a diehard dog lover - oddly was the hold-out. He knew our carefree life would end abruptly and we'd be tied to the canine's schedule. I, however, knew owning a dog would be great for our kids. They would have responsibility, they would grow up with unconditional love and they would understand the work that went in to taking care of another being. (Go ahead and laugh. I know my ignorance is comical.)

So last Saturday we headed out to Eleventh Hour Rescue and adopted 11-month-old Daisy.

This is the part where things get really funny.

According to the shelter, Daisy was housebroken and crate trained. She knew how to sit. She had absolutely no aggression (I can take a bone right out of her mouth). But after a few months in at Eleventh Hour, the housebreaking took a wrong turn. She didn't have a schedule and was allowed to relieve herself indoors. She didn't know how to walk on a leash and pulled us off our feet. She chewed anything she got her mouth on. Oh, and she is energetic. Very energetic. This dog can run for miles. My 45-year-old knees, however, cannot.

Cut to three days in our house. She peed on our rug. (We, in turned, pulled out every rug from our house and have only hardwood floors now). She nipped at our feet when she got bored. (Six-hundred time-outs later and she's getting the point that biting is uncool.) I take her on 45-minute to 1.5-hour walks (yes, I've lost five pounds) and she still has energy. This dog gets a second wind at 7 o'clock at night, just when I'm about to fall over from exhaustion.

The kids, I am figuring out, are the ones who need more schooling than the dog. They forget how to train her and don't use the words you're supposed to use when guiding a dog. So after five days of complete and utter chaos in a previously harmonious home, I threatened to take the dog back. I didn't think I could handle having this toddler of an animal around. When I mentioned this to my girls, this was their response:

It says: "Dear Mom: I just wanted to say something. How would you feel if you were Daisy with a great family who loves you and plays with you, and they give you away and you're put to sleep forever. 
We are all trying our hardest to train Daisy. Please keep her. Love, Lily."

Aimee's was more direct:

"Dear Mom, Please don't give up the dog. We love her. Love, Aimee."

Guess we'll be keeping her forever.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Aren't They Already On?

I think I finally discovered why some people enjoy being first grade teachers. Children who are learning to spell often sound things out, and when they do, their spelling is, well, beyond hilarious. Case in point: Aimee's class is learning how to write stories from beginning to end, and the way they do this is to write small how-to books. Aimee decided she would write one entitled How To Get Dressed.

This is the first page:

This is the second page:

"Let's see," I said, trying to decipher what on earth she meant by putting on her tits. "First you put on your underwear, next you put on your dress, then you put on your ...."

"Tights," she said.

"Oh," I said, "yes, tights. And finally you put on your bows."

"Yes," she said, smiling.

"Beautiful," I said.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Future Author

Aimee has taken to writing books lately. Her current obsession is penguins. Here's the latest story:

When my husband read it, he asked, "Aimee, how did you draw those penguins?"
"It's easy," she said. "First you make a potato. Then you draw a face and add a beak."
"Really?" he asked. "They look so real."
"That's not my drawing," she said. "It's just my sketch. I draw them better than that."

Well, okay then.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

No, Really

Our kids have been begging us for a pet for ages. Of course, we had a dog who the kids totally ignored and when he died it took them four days to realize he was no longer around. Even though we loved him dearly, we soon realized the constraints having a pet put upon us. We didn't have to pay a hefty boarding fee when we wanted to take a trip. We didn't have to walk him on days that were below freezing or incredibly rainy. We didn't have to pay exorbitant vet bills. And - my personal favorite - we didn't have to vacuum the house every day to rid ourselves of the tufts of dog fur.

In short, we felt liberated.

The kids, however, feel gypped. They want a pet. Any pet. I reminded them about our dog, and they argued they were too young to care for it.
"You each had a fish," I answered. "And didn't notice those either until they died."
"We can't play with a fish!" they cried.
"No," we said. "We're not getting a pet."

They protest all the time. I'll admit, I'm starting to cave. My husband, however, who has long been the dog lover and animal fan in the family, is remaining steadfast.
"Do you want ticks in the house like we used to have?" he asked. He suffered from Lyme disease a few years ago and knows the idea of ticks getting on the kids is about as scary to me as walking blindfolded on a tightrope hanging between the Empire State Building and another skyscraper.

The kids decided what they needed was an indoor pet so ticks would not be an issue. Their suggestion? A bunny. Dear Husband told them they would soon tire of the fuzzy beast and we, the parents, would be encumbered with having to care for and feed it.
The result:

It says, "Dad, Please. My two friends say I am never going to get sick of my bunny! And I do clean up after myself! From, Lily."

"I can clean the bunny's cage and feed it and clean up after it."

Dad isn't budging.