Doing Harry Potter

I haven’t been running in years…

3 years to be exact, but tonight, I felt that familiar wind whipping through my hair, the sweat glistening off my body, the ache in the back of my calves. Never before tonight have I run in flats instead of sneakers, never before, have I gone for a jog in a bathing suit and a cover up, but tonight was extremely different. Tonight was kinda crazy.

The family and I have been on vacation at Universal Studios Orlando. Once again, traveling with children has proved to be a daunting experience. The age difference between my sons is still too vast to have a harmonious time at an amusement park. They all want different things from different places. The 3-year-old isn’t old enough for the large roller coasters, the 9-year-old is too old for the baby attractions, and Hubby and I are torn between taking care of a newborn and the wants of the other kids. But we all agree that Harry Potter is amazing. Unfortunately, so does everyone else in the entire universe.

For the last 2 days we have been meandering about the Universal Studios version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, problem is, that with this brood, we don’t have the ability to wait on long lines. That being said, we’ve been unable to hit up the new ride, “Escape from Gringotts”. I’m not gonna lie, as a super Harry Potter geek, I was disappointed.

After getting caught in a full-fledged thunderstorm at the park today (yes, we got soaking wet and it was awful) we ended up at the amazing hotel pool. When the skies cleared and the sun showed itself it was a beautiful afternoon. The kids swam, went on water slides and had a blast.

We are leaving tomorrow morning and had just finished our poolside dinner at about 8PM when I said to Hubby, “I can’t believe we didn’t get to ride that new Harry Potter ride.” Hubby looked at our sleeping baby, the older kids swimming in the pool with their new British friends and said, “The park doesn’t close for another hour… Go! Have fun. Tell us all about it.”

I was stunned. “I can’t leave you guys. This is a family vacation. Come on… I’m not even dressed to go in the park…”

Then he pulled out all the stops, “Not dressed to go in the park? You’re covered, better than most chicks we’ve seen today. Stop making excuses and go. I’ll be pissed if you don’t.”

That’s when I kissed the love of my life on the lips, thanked him for being the coolest Daddy and spouse ever, and made a run for it…

The woodsy path to the park is lovely and serene… even more so at night, and even better alone… I started into a brisk jog as soon as I exited the hotel gate. I had 49 minutes until the park closed, but it felt glorious to be alone and on a super “Harry Potter” adventure.

I ran, I ran so far away… I must have looked like the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls with my long, brown, pool-soaked hair, but I didn’t care. I was gonna “Do Harry Potter”, and not in the dirty way, because ewww… I first discovered him when he was in 6th grade and that image is not sexually appealing.

I booked-it through the park. I didn’t know I could run that fast in flats, or without the promise of booze upon completion, or without being chased. I passed the food vendors, the angry families who stayed longer than their children’s good behavior, the love-birds posing for pictures… I was tired and sweaty as I approached the entrance to the ride… adrenaline pumping through my veins…. YES, I MADE IT! I’M GONNA DO HARRY POTTER!

Everything was wrong as I made it to the vestibule. There were no other patrons… only me. In hindsight that was not a good sign. As I fished my ticket out of the cup of my swimsuit a stern woman said, “I’m sorry, the ride is closed for the night.” I must have looked dumbfounded and confused, standing there stuttering… “But, But, But…”

But nothing. But closed. As I walked away in a daze I heard another patron complaining to a guard and he explained that the ride had been already closed for 90 minutes because they had hit maximum capacity. Mission aborted.

I walked slowly back to the hotel, trying to find the words to explain to my family that I hadn’t accomplished my goal. When I arrived at the room they were eagerly waiting to hear all about the ride. My heart sunk.

“Mom, how was it? Was it awesome? Was Harry there? Ron? Hermione?”

{Ugh, this sucks} Well, it was already closed, but it’s cool, it was nice to see the park at night. 

Hubby was pissed off for me, “Closed? WHAT? We’ll go early tomorrow, before we head home!”

As usual, my oldest, my Boy Wonder, had the pearl of wisdom… “Well, at least you tried, right? Trying and failing is better than not trying at all.”

Hearing that statement from my own child was better than any ride I can have at any amusement park. Knowing he understands “the ride” that is life, is worth the ticket price.

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The Tantrum Zone

It is a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, you can smell the orange blossoms like perfume in the air. Beautiful. On any other day I would notice all these things as soon as I woke up, but not today. Today I had to strain myself to be mindful of my surroundings. Today I had to force myself to notice the wonderfully beautiful because I’m having a hard time forgetting yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.

I’m still in, “The Tantrum Zone.”

The 3-year-old has picked up a nasty bad habit. Throwing temper tantrums. Hubby and I are at our wits end, and please, for the love of all things holy, don’t tell me it’s a completely age appropriate response, blah, blah, blah. No one needs to hear that shit. The only thing that tells me is that everyone with a 3-year-old is going through this too, and sadly, that “normalcy” does not make these outbursts any less horrific. That is not comforting knowledge.

I think what’s getting to me is the frequency of these surges. We are now dealing with this bullshit on a daily basis and lucky for me he’s saving all of these fabulous tantrums for home. He doesn’t pull this crap at school. He doesn’t pitch a fit for the grandparents. Someone told me that children save all their bad behavior for their caregivers as a test of their unconditional love. At this point I would have preferred the AP Algebra exam to his test, and we all know how much I despise math.

Yesterday, when he didn’t want to finish his dinner, we patiently explained to him that he would not be getting desert. This isn’t a new concept, not at all, but he pitched a violent fit that lasted until bedtime and hubby was finally able to stop the run-away-freight-train-that-was-once-my-sweet-baby with the threat of withholding his bedtime story.

I really feel like I’m in an abusive relationship…. WITH MY CHILD. This was not an easy realization to come to and I’m feeling massively guilty about it but let’s face it, that’s what this is. For at least an hour on any given day my child calls me names, throws things, breaks things, yells, cries, screams and then afterwards, when the crazy has left the building, he apologizes to me and wants to be held, tells me he loves me, he’s sorry, and I can’t help but pity him and want to help him and want to choke him all at the same time. If a grown man did this to me I’d find myself in some battered-wife group, sobbing fat tears, drinking marginal coffee and spilling my life story to a group of strangers who are all going through the same thing. If a grown man did this to me I would clock him in the face and leave his ass so fast, he wouldn’t know what hit him.

But we aren’t talking about a grown man here. We are talking about a little boy, my sweet little boy, so instead I feel alone in this. No support group. No therapy. Just me and my child with his ridiculous “age appropriate” temper tantrums. I’m finding it beyond difficult to flip the light-switch between anger and pity when they are over. His emotional state changes on a dime and I’m sitting here holding a grudge. A huge chip on my shoulder where he’s taken away one more small sliver of sanity that I don’t feel I had left to give. That’s when the self-doubt kicks in, when it’s all over and I wonder if there is another way to handle it, but then I remind myself that we’ve tried other ways, many other ways and maybe I just have to let this insanity run it’s course. It’s running it’s course all right.

When I woke up today I was still reeling from his tantrum yesterday, though it’s long forgotten to him already.

Wonder what I’ll feel when I wake up tomorrow.

Confessions of a Former Sanctimommy

Are you a sanctimonious know-it-all bitch? Do you, look down your nose at the decisions other people make in regards to their children? Then you’re in the right place. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.

I used to be just like you. When it came to parenting I thought I had all the answers and I would hand those little answers out like candy on Halloween. You want to know what the big difference was between Halloween and my parenting advice? On Halloween you ask for candy. You head to the door of a neighbors house wearing your best Princess Leia costume and you say, “Trick or Treat.” When it came to me, doling out my parenting expertise… no one asked for it. That, is what made me a Sanctimommy. That, is what makes you a Sanctimommy. Unsolicited advice. So the first step to conversion into a normal, emphatic person and friend is to shut your pie-hole unless someone asks your opinion.

I know, easier said than done.

We all know, you have this whole “parenting thing” on lock. You’ve told us, a million times. I’m sure you think you’re being a good friend or mentor by sharing the pearls of wisdom you’ve acquired to the rest of us, but seriously, honey, it’s not nuclear fission we’re talking about here. There isn’t a correct way to do everything, for every kid. No… just stop. There isn’t.

Do I have to give you the whole “people are snowflakes” talk again? Really? Okay here it goes… people are like snowflakes, each and every one of them different and special. We all have different shapes and sizes that we come in, with different wants and needs. The way you handle your perfect kid might not work for the way I handle mine. I know your way is right, I know it, but what you don’t seem to realize is that it might not be right FOR EVERYONE ELSE and when you finally realize that, when that cartoon light-bulb above your brain activates, that is when you will shed your Santicmommy skin and become mortal. Just a mommy. A flawed but desperately trying Mom.

The birth of my 2nd child was my light-bulb. He is the polar opposite of his brother. When he took his first breath was when I realized that there was no correct system for every single person. Now, don’t get me wrong, of course I still have opinions about parenting, strong and loud opinions. Keeping them to myself isn’t always easy, I’ll admit that, but when it comes to chucking that shit to strangers on the internet, I put my hands in my pockets and walk away. That’s what you should do girlfriend. Hands to yourself. Don’t type anything. Just go and live your perfect life, with your perfect family, and write down all the answers you obviously have, as a memoir, a how-to-parent book if you will. Then you can give it to your future daughter-in-law at her baby shower… I’m sure she’ll appreciate the parenting advice. Wouldn’t you have loved to get a book like that from the mother of your baby daddy? No?

Now do you get it? Did it sink in now?

Thought so.

 

The Power Struggle is Real

Having more than one kid has turned me into a white, maternal version of Rodney King. “Can’t we all just get along?”

These little bastards will fight over anything and everything. Then they try to play it off in the most contemptuous manner. As if they have no clue how they’ve gotten into this mess in the first place. The look on their faces is a cross between Elle Woods and Forest Gump. “Who me? What did I do? No, my brother’s face just fell on my fist.”

I’m over it.

The latest power struggle is about seating placement on the couch. It starts from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep. Personally, I could care less who sits where, but these fights aren’t quiet and throughout the day I find myself hissing through clenched teeth and an angry voice, “DON’T WAKE UP THE BABY!” I can’t seem to get a handle on it and I’ve tried everything. Assigned seating, couch rules, strict monitoring of couch placement, nothing is working. They are the sneakiest little couch bandits. One minute, everything is fine, I go to the bathroom, and all hell breaks loose. I’m about one more fight away from getting rid of the couches all together. “Here you go suckers, sit on the floor.” That’ll teach ’em. Let’s be honest though, I’d be cutting off my nose to spite my own face, and ass, and circulation. I need a better plan than that.

I’m thinking of investing in a barrage of whoopee cushions and strategically placing them all along both couches. The look of complete surprise on their little argumentative faces would be priceless. Crap, that won’t work. These are boys. Fart noises are their national anthem. This is not a good idea.

Ohh, maybe I can try a shit-ton of water balloons… Haha, you wanted yummy comfort and now you’re soaking wet. But…. guess who’s going to be the one to clean up the couch, change everyone’s wet clothes and have to do an extra load of laundry? Yup, you guessed it… me. Backfire city.

OH MY G-D!!! I’ve figured it out. This idea is going to win me a Nobel Peace Prize for sure. I’m taking the cushions… ALL OF THE CUSHIONS. If you want to sit on the couch you can come to me for a cushion. You may only have one cushion at a time (this will stop all the fights over who was laying down first, who is touching whom, who’s butt is in the other brothers face, eyes, foot). This idea is parenting gold right here.

I AM THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE WORLD!

Now I’m off to test operation cushion.

But first, I have to vacuum the couch.

I hope it doesn’t wake the baby.

Grandma and The Mighty Atom

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I’m so bad.

With the birth of my 3rd child things around here got really complicated. Trying to time everything just right: handle all the schedules, keep it smooth sailing for the older kids while balancing the needs of a newborn… I wanted life to be seamless. I think I’ve done a pretty good job. They are all still alive and DCF hasn’t been to the house. {Happy Dance}

Unfortunately, I’ve let other things slide. Me time (yeah, right… what’s that), personal friendships (I’m sorry friends, I swear I’ll call soon), and the most important thing of all… the rest of my family, more specifically, my grandmother.

I am so blessed to still have my grandma in my life, on this earth and living only 30 minutes from me. She’s a quick-witted, 91-year-old fireball and the only thing larger than my love for her is my respect for her. It’s been 11 years since she lost my papa (they dated since she was 14) and although I know she misses him terribly (we all do) Grandma still lives her life. Everything I need to know about love, humility and commitment can be learned from GG (her nickname, as she is my kid’s Great Grandmother).

With a houseful of kids it really is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, and because Grandma is in fine overall health, I hadn’t made a lot of time for her, until yesterday. Grandma came over for dinner, played with the great-grandkids, swam in the pool, and even read my blog. Yesterday was a great time and a real eye-opener. It’s easy to forget that my grandma was once a 37-year-old mom too, and a girl, and an adolescent, and a public school teacher. It’s easy to just look at her, the way she is now, at 91, and forget that she lived a whole different life before me, before my mom, before now. Thank G-d I have Grandma to remind me.

After dinner last night GG said,

“Do you have On Demand?”

{Complete shock} Sure we have On Demand, I can’t believe you even know what that is… What would you like to watch?

“Well, my friend, Moshe, is on America’s Got Talent… do you know that show?”

Of course I know that show. What are you talking about, “your friend” is on it. {Now I’m getting a bit worried… is GG losing it?}

“My old friend, Moshe, he’s the “Mighty Atom Jr.” His father was the “Mighty Atom”. He pulls a car with his teeth. I missed the show and I’d love to see it.”

Of course, through my love of pop-culture and Americana, I’d heard of “The Mighty Atom”. He was a popular (and world renown) 20th Century Strongman. Guess what? GG grew up with his kid.

Mike Greenstein, or Moshe, (as GG has known him forever) grew up with Grandma in Brooklyn. They are still friends today, talk on the phone all the time, and he’s even come to visit her in Florida. He is also a Strongman, and at 93-YEARS-OLD, pulls CARS WITH HIS TEETH. I know, take a minute and let that sink in.

His father (Joe Greenstein) used to pull cars with his hair. Grandma says he’d do it in the street for the kids to see. What? My kids are impressed if a neighbor invites them over for a barbecue… times really have changed.

So we pulled up the video from America’s Got Talent so Grandma could see Moshe in all his 93-year-old, strongest-teeth-ever, car-pulling glory.

The insane part is that while watching this video, with Grandma, I could see her as a young woman again. I could see Moshe as a young man too. That strength: the bravery it takes to age, in a society which throws our elderly out the door without a glance. I’m in awe of them. All of them. Grandma has always told me she still thinks she’s 18-years-old in her mind. I can totally understand that now as I’m looking 40 in the underbelly.

I told GG that although I’ve never seen her move a 5,000 pound automobile with her teeth, her presence moves mountains.

At least it does for me.

 

 

 

Talking Naked

The jokes about the death of sex after marriage are long running. I remember when we first got engaged a bunch of my husband’s older buddies made some quips about blow jobs being a thing of the past. He silently looked at me with one eyebrow up, asking the question without words. I shook my head. No,  no piece of paper was going to dull our sex life.

No way… and it didn’t.

Then we had kids.

Besides the effect of childbirth on my body: the stretch marks, the lovely and large scar from a cesarean section, the added weight to my caboose, there was the full exhaustion of actually having to take care of a baby. Sex happened but with less frequency. Sometimes with more urgency. It was like “sex light”. Less time, less noise, less buildup. We penciled our needs into the calendar when we could, and often we couldn’t.

On this particular night we had come home from a dinner with the extended family fairly late.. about 10 PM. My oldest fell asleep in the car and we quietly changed him and tucked him into bed. As I closed the door to the baby’s room (who was also sleeping soundly) I said to my husband, “You got 10 minutes?” He laughed and said, “You bet.”

We quickly stripped off all our clothes and jumped on the bed. Hubby was laying on top of me and for a fleeting moment, I thought we might have timed it just right for a nice evening together.

That’s when I heard my son’s little voice, “What are you guys doing?”

{OMG, this can’t be happening. Dear G-d, why don’t we have locks on our door? I felt my mortified husband suppress a giggle as he buried his head in the crook of my neck. Coward, guess I’m gonna have to handle this one myself…}

“We’re talking.”

{Talking? You couldn’t have come up with anything better than that? Jesus.}

“Talking naked?” said my 5-year-old, “That’s silly.”

“That’s us, super silly. Did you need something?”

Now I was just grasping at straws. Anything to make the most awkward moment of my life end… and fast.

“Did I leave Mr. Bear in here?” my sweet and clueless son said.

Hubby reached to our right, found Mr. Bear and threw him in the direction of our child.

“Thanks” he yelled, “Good Night.”

I breathed a sigh of relief as I thought this ordeal was finally over… but then he popped his head back in as if he’d forgotten something…

“You know…” he thought aloud, “If you really are talking naked, you’re doing it all wrong. Daddy’s still wearing socks.”

After my son was gone we both laid there on the bed for what seemed like forever… laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe… side-splitting, face hurting laughter. Sexy time was over. A non-issue, but it can become something more intimate, something hilariously real.

We ate a microwave pizza and went to sleep.

That night, it was better than sex.

Family Fight Club

Disclaimer: This is a satire piece. It is meant to be comic relief for my current situation. If you lack a sense of humor feel free to leave now. 

School starts in a week.

One more little week until we can get back into the groove. Seven more days until my oldest sons get back to it. Real life. Now, just in case my trusty calendar wasn’t on hand with big black X’s reminding me of the slow torturous moments ticking by with the speed of a slug, I’d still know summer was almost over. You wanna know how? Because my kids are about to kill each other.

Like… really, murder each other.

Dead.

We aren’t talking about kids with a normal streak of violence either. Normally, the boys are pretty sweet… but currently, they are OVER spending time together.

My whole job as a parent has changed drastically in the last 5 days. I’ve gone from making lunches and playing board games to being the most underpaid referee in the boxing world. I read somewhere that Mills Lane (the court Judge turned boxing referee) earned a million dollars every time he uttered the catchphrase “Let’s get it on”. A MILLION DOLLARS for one stinking sentence. After I let that sink in I realized… I’m thinking about these brotherly fights all wrong. Why is it a bad thing that they want to clean each other’s clocks? Why is it wrong that my children want to fight to the death? Maybe we could use this Lord of the Flies mentality to pay for college? Maybe these ingrates need a little Fight Club up in this place. Here are my money-making and energy burning ideas inspired by my children’s need for blood-letting. Hell, if cock-fighting pays then there must be money in kid fights. Right?

Sumo Suits

Have you ever seen those inflatable Sumo Suits that are worn for Halloween? What if I get a couple of those and let these boys go a couple of rounds? It’s sure to exhaust them and I can charge a ticket price to make some money on the side. Shoe money. Money for a babysitter… and a facial, or a childless trip for Hubby and I to a place that harbors American fugitives (because I’m sure kid fighting is as illegal as dog fighting). The options are endless.

Cage Match

Everyone loves a good cage match. Hubby could build it and we could just chuck those guys in there and walk away. At least we’d know where they were. Yup, cage match is a definite possibility.

Hunger Games style for the use of the iPad

We only have one iPad. It belongs to my oldest son and sometimes, sometimes… when he’s feeling very benevolent, he allows his brother to use it. That is happening less and less as he wishes his bother lived somewhere else. I think this idea speaks for itself. A fight, for the iPad.

Kickboxing

My kids are soccer players. They play soccer all year round. I’m sure they could figure out how to easily do a roundhouse. I mean, how hard could it really be? Here you go buddy, you want to hurt your brother? Pretend his head is the ball. You’re welcome.

Princess Bride style: To the pain

If you’ve never seen The Princess Bride?? I’m sorry. You should probably go back to the rock you’ve been living under. If you have, then you know. “To the pain” leaves you wallowing in your freakish misery forever. I have a feeling both boys would be keen on this. They would love to be the victor in a task where all you get to keep are your perfect ears. Touché

Oh shit, I just realized… By writing this I’ve broken the first rule of Fight Club. “You don’t talk about Fight Club.” Damn.

Disclaimer: By no means do I support or ever condone my children hurting each other. This was written to be humorous. Feel free to laugh as I run off to break up another fight.