The Nap Drop and How I’ve Screwed Myself This Summer

Parenting doesn’t come with a manual.  Period.

When I’ve tried to describe parenting to people without kids I often use the example of a scientist.  Each kid at each different stage of their life is almost like coming up with a hypothesis and trying to either prove or disprove said theory.  Everyday you suit up in your lab coat (yoga pants), you have your Bunsen burners (microwave) and your beakers (bottles of formula) and you keep meticulous notes (post-it’s piled on the refrigerator door) as to your findings.

Dropping my 3-year-old’s nap this summer was a bad idea.  It was a hypothesis that has been completely disproved by my toddlers personality late in the day.  It is entirely my fault and I will take one for the team on this.

He was not ready.

He is not ready.

But the problem with kids, unlike scientific data… is that they are human beings.  You can only manipulate kids so far, while scientific findings can be skewed to the left or the right.  And this ain’t G.I. Jane. We can’t “un-ring” that bell.  I will never be able to get nap time back now that he has seen the no-nap world.

When we started planning for the summer we decided to send both of our older kids to the same day camp.  The 9-year-old loves this camp and it just seemed like the logical and proximate choice for his little brother as well.

Only problem, camp ends at 3:45… which is 45 minutes after my toddler would usually start his nap.

“No problem”, I said.  “He can handle it”, I said.

Silly mommy, naps are for 3-year-olds.

He’s now a month into camp and although he loves being a big boy and all his new friends he comes home from his day cranky and exhausted.  Trying to get him to lay down and relax at 4 in the afternoon is pointless and futile.  He won’t do it.  A couple of times he’s passed out on the ride home but I can count those instances on one hand.  And when he has fallen asleep in the car he has only once stayed asleep when I brought him into the house.

In so many words… I’m fucked.

The afternoon nap was a win/win situation for everyone involved. The toddler got much-needed rest, and woke up ready to wreak havoc on the rest of us with a smile on his face.  I had 2 much-needed hours of time without him.  I was able to accomplish so much in the afternoon.  I will look back on the time of nap as a peaceful time, before I marred the kingdom with my foolish dreams where I wasn’t a captive in my own home from 3 to 5PM.

All I can do now is pass on the wisdom of my idiocy to you.  Please, please, please… for the love of all things holy, hear my cry (actually, at this point it’s more of a sob mixed with a wail followed by a gulp of wine).

If you are still blessed enough to have a napping child… hold onto this time with a fierce grip. Heed the words of Jack from the Titanic and “don’t let go”.  Screw Frozen… and “don’t let it go”.  I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone to go through the evenings of crying and whining and complete exhaustion I’m going through right now.  I’m telling you this because no sane person should have to deal with a 3-year-old attached to your leg, crying, “DADDY!!!! DAAAAADDDYYY!! I WANT DAAAAADDDDY!!!” over and over again for 45 minutes as you try to roast a chicken and your Hubby is running late.

I’m telling you this as a public service.

I’m telling you this as a friend.

Learn from my mistake.

Long live the nap!

 

 

 

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The Stay-at-Home Mom’s Guide to The Summer of George

I was a Seinfeld fan from the start.  Maybe it was the story about nothing.  Maybe it was Kramer.  Maybe it was the fact that it was so freaking scripted but it wasn’t Who’s the Boss or Cosby Show scripted.  I still can’t put my finger on the full reason for my reverence… but “The Summer of George” was my favorite episode.  Hands down.  Ever.

If you’re familiar with Seinfeld (and this episode) then you remember that George had been fired from his job with The New York Yankees.  While he’s wallowing in his sadness he discovers that he has been allotted a severance package that will last for approximately 3 months.  And that is when George decides he is going to “really do something with those 3 months.”  He’s going to read a book (from beginning to end, in that order).  He’s going to learn to play Frolf (Frisbee-golf).  This is going to be the time for George to “taste the juices and let them drip down his chin.”  Now, being the lazy bastard that he is, George doesn’t really accomplish many of his goals but every time summer rolls around, I’m so fucking jealous of George and the idea of “that” summer.

It is currently the third week of summer camp for my older kids here.  I’ve been feeling, a bit, low…. let me take that back,  the monotony of it all has made it Groundhog Day around here.

Summer is turning out to be just like Fall, Winter, and Spring.  The same.  But hotter… It’s like a shitty song on repeat and I’ve already skipped too may songs on Pandora to listen to something new.  The incessant loads of laundry and meal planning, the grocery shopping, the drop-offs, the pick-ups… there must be something else I’m supposed to be doing…

And then it hit me.

My older kids are in camp until 3:45 EVERYDAY!!  That is almost 2 hours longer then the normal school day for my Middle Monkey and my Hubby isn’t an asshole about my jobs around the house.

It’s almost like I’ve been given a severance package too… but this one is with TIME!

And around here, time is like money.

I’m really going to live.

I’m going to do all the things I don’t normally do!

I declare this… “The Stay-at-Home Mom’s Summer of George”!

Here is my Top 10 list of things to do…

10. Go see the movie Chef, during the day, with my 4 month old baby.  {Because no one takes a baby to the movies… but I have to see this}

9. Drive to the Eden “strange fruit” winery (which is over 1 hour away) and buy kiwi wine.  {Because no one takes a baby to a winery… but I have to try this}

8. Finally hit up a spinning class.  {Even though I’m petrified}

7. Put on a bathing suit and take the baby to a public pool.  {Ugh, but it has to be done}

6. Get a pedicure. {Because damn, my feet are toe-up}

5. Travel the 30 minutes to the Norman Love Confections and take the chocolate tour.  {Because chocolate}

4. Take the baby to the beach and only pack one bag and an umbrella.  {It’s harder than you think}

3. Have lunch or brunch with a friend once a week.   {Because friends and food}

2. Read a trilogy.   {From beginning to end, in that order}

1. Eat a peach, alone, without any children asking for a bite, and let the juices drip down my chin, just like George.

The Books

 

This morning the baby and I had to go to our local Barnes and Noble (something I don’t do nearly often enough) to get a birthday gift for my nephew. As I walked into the large building I was transported back to my childhood summers. Spent with a weekly trip to the local library because I loved to read and my parents wanted to instill the love of reading in us. Each summer they threw down the gauntlet and issued us a challenge… read 10 books over the summer and write a report on each and they would reward us with a trip to Great Adventure.

In today’s society this might not seem like a huge deal. Summer vacations are the norm now, which can sometimes cheapen the actual monstrosity that planning and executing a vacation is to parents. But for me, in my childhood, summer was spent at the beach or camp and a vacation (especially to an amusement park) was a major deal. I’m thinking that along with the Minecraft book he wants, maybe I’ll also get my little brother’s son his first Harry Potter book for his birthday. A reading-right-of-passage for sure.

As I’m standing in this bookstore I could feel that feeling…  exactly the same way as when I was a kid. All of the stories that live inside these pages, all of them at my fingertips, the choices… it’s one of the most exciting adventures you could go on. The written word is indeed powerful and storytelling is an art. The fact that someone can paint a picture with their words and allow you to step into the world they created is the ultimate fantasy. I think we all need a bit of fantasy in our lives. It helps to keep up with all the mundane bullshit. We all have things we “have” to do… a small escape can be the difference between enjoying the ride or dreading the journey.

I love technology. I love the practicality it brings to my already cluttered life. But I will never love an e-reader the way I love holding an actual book in my hands. Just feeling the pages in my fingers and the weight of its spine… No Nook could ever replace an actual book to me.

This makes me think about the summer I was 12 years old and my Mother introduced me to the Thorn Birds. I was a confused tween who felt like every adult (especially my parents) had it in for me. Reading that book, knowing how much my Mother had enjoyed it too, felt like I had been indoctrinated into a secret society. One where we had something in common other than our DNA. It was a marvelous feeling that makes me always appreciate when my Mother points me in the direction of what she thinks is a good read. I must hand it to her, she has never given me a bad book. Wurhering Heights, Anne of Green Gables, Beach Music. Mama’s got skills that rival the New York Times Bestseller list.

While all the promise of the bookstore is laying right in front of me along with the joy when I realize I actually have time to browse, I am brought back to the real world from my amazing trip down memory lane by a 19-year-old kid with dyed, jet black hair, skinny jeans and boots on in the middle of Florida summer…

“Hello… {while shaking his head}”

Um, yeah Hi. {I smile, what does this kid want?}

“Could you move your stroller? {Then mutters under his breath} Didn’t you hear me the first time?”

Oh, I’m sorry, I must have been somewhere else…

As I move my stroller out of his way he reaches over to grab a skull and crossbones patterned case for his Nook and walks off saying to his friend… “I swear, these Moms act like they own the place. Let’s go get a latte.”

Back to reality.

I doubt he knows where to find the Harry Potter.

When Desperation Wins, Summer Mother and the Indoor Play Place

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Whelp, summer is officially upon us.

Which means, if you’re anything like me, these little animals that we call children are home.

All day…

{sigh}

So after 2.6 million games of Candy Land, breaking out the Play-Doh, countless hours of Lego building, becoming an imaginary superhero, bike riding, baking, cooking, laundry… I have mentally and physically left the building. And sadly, we are only on the second day of summer break.

At this point I am certifiably insane… You know how I know this? Because crazy people do desperate things. And in my desperation I did something that I hate to do with all my mind and body. I packed up the family Truckster and took my kids to an Indoor Play Place.

The Indoor Play Place is the final resting stop for all frazzled parents everywhere. You can see the look of defeat on each and every one of our faces. We are screaming it behind our fake smiles “I GIVE UP!”.

Because no one with the proper mental facilities would pay $12 for their kid to run around and jump in an indoor bounce house at a strip mall. No one in their right mind would allow their kid to play with a plastic toy that was just in a strange child’s mouth. But Summer Mother isn’t all there. She’s desperate. She’s trying to fill the time void until the next meal, the next nap, the next bedtime. Summer Mother isn’t practical, she’s crazed. And where do the crazy parents hold the meetings for their 12 step program? The Indoor Play Place… that’s right.

This, my friends, is one step above the park and one step below maximum desperation… Chuck-E-Cheese. I’m not there yet.

But it’s only Tuesday.

My toddler entered the Indoor Play Place like a little version of Macklemore entering the club… one hand in his superman underwear, mismatched ensemble he put together himself of a NY Jets Jersey (Johnathan Vilma, by the way, who hasn’t played for the Jets since 2007), a plaid vest and pajama pants with a paisley pattern. Yes, he rocks your Grandpa’s style. His other hand is reserved for the thumbs up sign he’s throwing at the little Blond girl in the corner who has lifted her dress high above her head exposing her Frozen undies. I watch his eyes as they dart around the room, sizing the place up, undoubtedly looking for the most dangerous or disgusting thing to play on/with. He cracks a smile from ear to ear and runs off in the direction of the dress up corner. Before I can even form the word…. “Wait…” he has placed a plastic Fireman’s hat on his little head. He’s dancing around singing a fire truck song and I’m putting “buy RID Lice Shampoo” on my shopping list.

The Indoor Play Place isn’t for the faint of heart.

As I begrudgingly hand over my $12 to the establishment I find a place without gum or nutella stuck to it to sit down. This is the part of the Indoor Play Place that sucks for parents. The waiting. There are 3 loads of baby laundry on my bed that I have to fold today. Can’t do that here. I need to marinate a pork loin for dinner and buy a fresh salad but instead I am sitting in a vacuum. No sane person would do this.

I’m tending to the baby, making small talk with another mom who looks about 1 step away from institutionalization. She’s wearing 2 different sneakers. They aren’t even the same brand let alone the same style or color. I decide to keep this observation to myself. Nothing good can come of her knowing that right now.

My 3-year-old calls, “Hey Mom, watch this”, while he  hangs from a rafter, clearly not part of the actual maze the Indoor Play Place has put together.

“That’s lovely honey,” I mutter, not wanting to battle it out here. There will be enough battles when I try to get him to leave.

He finally approaches me with those words no Mom wants to hear in a public place, “I have to go potty.”

I’m starting to think my toddler might actually be reviewing public toilets for Zaggat or Yelp! because he has sat on every public toilet in a 50 mile radius.

I then venture to the restroom with him where he proudly sits on the toilet and sings the ABC’s while his little legs dangle. The last time this happened was at a Golden Corral restaurant (don’t ask) and the whole family was sick for a week. Of course the baby is now ripe and needs a diaper change too… I whip a gallon of hand sanitizer out of my purse and make the changing table fit to lay my changing mat on. I can’t help think about some of the college bars I frequented back in the day. Considering there aren’t any drunk 20 somethings here, this bathroom could give them a run for their money. I wipe some asses and we leave that nasty place. A minute more and I might have puked.

After 2 hours I’m finally able to get him to leave without incident promising him the ultimate toddler treat… frozen yogurt.

Make mine a double.

The Flat Stanley Magellan

The school year is almost over…. we can taste it.

It’s like the last mile of a marathon (not that I’ve ever run a marathon but I see the way those people look by the end). Crazy, wide-eyed, desperate. I really thought we were finished with the difficult parts of this school year. We could just cruise through that last mile and let the adrenaline be our guide.

I was so very wrong.

Come to find out, this isn’t a marathon… I would welcome the old-fashioned, user-friendly, 26.2 miles with open arms right now. A course mapped out for me by someone else? Bring it. Tunes and friends and a cheering crowd? Can I get an AMEN?? A marathon would be my homeboy. But alas, this is no marathon.

No, I just discovered this is a Tough Mudder race… and we still have to go through the electrocution cables.

My 9-year-old son brought home ONE LAST project. The mountain I see laid out before me is large, it’s daunting, I’m exhausted, he’s exhausted… but if we can just climb this last peak, just push a little bit more… there, oh yes, there, is glorious summer awaiting us. No homework, no projects, no mundane bullshit.

We can go back to basics.

But first we have to actually do this freaking thing.

So, I guess Boy Wonder had the assignment to write a paper on an explorer. That part, is already done, as he’s been working on it at school. Good job buddy, ’cause if you brought home an assignment for a whole paper too, Mommy might have had a moment similar to The Shining… “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, would have been an understatement.

Ferdinand Magellan is our man. With the written part already complete, now we are left to do the bullshit busy work of creating our own Magellan. What the teacher sent home is pretty much a Flat Stanley. Which would be fine if our Flat Stanley Magellan was about to travel the globe, or even be displayed, but this whole assignment is just ridiculous to me because school is over in 5 days. 5 FREAKING DAYS!!! Where will they display this? What is the purpose? If this had been me in the third grade I probably wouldn’t have even bothered. But it’s not. Boy Wonder wants to complete the task, and do it right.  But that won’t stop me from designing the projects I think we should submit.

Here’s what we are working with… yeah, I know. I think this teacher is just about as over this school year as we are.

{I don’t blame you girl… I feel you}

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But how about Flat Stanley Magellan as…

Sprockets? Sprockets might be a good one…

[When this is over I will totally do the Sprocket dance]

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Or my girl RuPaul… “You Better Wurk!”

{Believe me Ru, this is work}

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But this is how I really feel…

{So much so, I. Just. Can’t.}

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Alright, alright, my fun is over. Time to get down to business.

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Oh Magellan… you are super creepy looking. And I still have to go to the craft store to buy material for you clothes??

I think we should just go with RuPaul and call it a day.