“Try Jell-O Pudding Pops, Frozen Pudding on a Stick!”
What’s up with quoting this seemingly random and delightfully kitsch-y commercial from the 1980s? Because I’m about to get all Bill Cosby on your asses. No, not Bill Cosby like THAT. I was thinking more along the line of his “Kids Say the Darndest Things” schtick. Bear with me. It’ll be good. I promise.
Because everyone and their sister is putting out a year-end Top Ten list, I decided I’d do the same. Except instead of ranking best albums of the year, best television events of the year, (Come on! They’re television events, for Chrissake! They deserve a Top Ten list!), or best crazy rants overheard on the Western bus, I’m going to rank my Top Five Shining Moments in Parenting for 2009. (This is a short column, so I’m only listing five). Many of them have to do with funny things my kids have said over the past year—this is where the Bill Cosby part comes in—and unlike the boring stories your boss and/or coworkers tell you about their annoying kids, you will actually get a chuckle out of these.
So, without further ado, I present for your consideration my year-end list:
5) The kids started preschool! Okay, this isn’t a humorous story about Winchie and Squeaky, but it was easily the best thing that happened to me on the parenting front this year. And to the kids. Preschool is for the kids. I keep forgetting that. It’s only a two-mornings-a-week kind of thing, but those are two mornings I get to live an adult life again. I can drink coffee and surf the internet! I can take a shower without someone screaming “Mommy!” and opening the shower curtain every five seconds! I can write a really excellent column for CHIRP! * grin * And the best part? Someone ELSE gets to take care of the kids! In fact, THREE other people get to take care of the kids. And, unlike me, those three people have degrees in child development and early education. I help my kids learn the alphabet; the magical Other Three help my kids learn to read. The Other Three help my kids learn to paint, to share their toys, to sing nursery rhymes that I’ve either forgotten or repressed. In other words, these Other Three, like all preschool teachers, are angels sent from heaven who create child-friendly environments designed to help make toddlers civilized members of society. (Not to mention the well-earned breaks they give to harried moms and other caregivers.). In short: Yay, Preschool!
4) Child One: “Eff-you! Eff-you! Eff-you!” Child Two: “A-hole! A-hole! A-hole!” Kids hear EVERYTHING you say. Then they REPEAT everything you say. While driving up to grandma’s house (really!) this summer, another car cut me off on the highway. Like any good mom with kids in tow, I screamed out, “Holy S#^&! F*&% you, you crazy a**hole!” and laid on the horn for a good 30 seconds. My kids were in the middle of a songfest at the time, and they decided to put some of Mommy’s creative language to music. For the duration of the trip, about 20 minutes, I was serenaded by Winchie singing “Eff you!” and Squeaky countering with “A-hole!” in the sweetest toddler-style sing-song voices this side of the Mississippi. Needless to say, I have watched my tongue since then. While I found the song hilarious, I really don’t want them to be the kids who teach all the other kids in school to swear blue streaks. I don’t want to get the angry phone calls from other parents and be rendered ineligible for the PTA before the kids even get to elementary school.
3) Sweet Squeaky. The family dog was feeling under the weather earlier this year. We took her to the vet, got her some meds to which she responded quickly, and all was well within a week. But there were a couple of days there where the dog did nothing but lay around on the couch. (This is not to be confused with her usual routine of laying around on the couch. When she’s feeling well, she will occasionally bark at other dogs walking by the house. When she’s sick, she will simply growl at them or fart in their general direction.) My daughter, Squeaky, loves our dog and was upset that she wasn’t feeling well. To make her feel better, Squeaky sought out the dog’s favorite toy and placed it next to her. Then she covered the dog with her favorite blanket and started singing “Rock-A-Bye Baby” in the hopes that it would make our dog happy. When the dog recovered, Squeaky was convinced it was due to her singing and the well-placed chew toy. Now Squeaky has decided to be an animal doctor when she gets older. That is, if the princess thing doesn’t work out.
2) Peace, love, empathy. While shopping at Target with both kids, we encountered another mom with a toddler. Ever the outgoing twins, Winchie and Squeaky both tried to say hello to the other kid, who, as it happened, was in the middle of a stage four meltdown. There was crying. There was screaming. There was stomping of little feet and shaking of little fists. Not for the first time, I thanked my lucky stars that it wasn’t me attempting to control that crazy toddler cyclone. I smiled what I hoped was an understanding smile at the other mom and tried to walk by without incident. But Winchie had other plans. When we pulled up next to the screaming boy, about to pass him in the aisle, my little boy shouts from the cart, “Hey, kid! Stop fussing! It makes your mommy crazy!!” Then he turns to me and says, “Right, Mommy?” To which I responded, “That’s usually the case, honey, but his mommy seems to be taking it in stride.” I shoot the other mom a kids-say-the-darndest-things/please-don’t-judge-me-by-my-son’s-behavior look and exit the aisle quickly.
1) The Only Band That Ever Mattered. I’ll admit it: I’m one of those moms who subjects her captive children to her favorite music when we’re all in the car together. I play it loud-ish (there are little ears in the car, after all). I sing along. The kids tell me to shut it, although not in so many words. I know it’s only a matter of time before they become mortified at the thought of riding in the car with me because someone might discover that Mommy is, in fact, a crazy person with horrible taste in music. Thankfully, that day has not yet arrived and the kids, for now, are digging my selections. While pulling out of the driveway this summer en route to kiddie camp, Winchie asked me a question that brought tears to my eyes. Literally. Like the Grinch on Christmas, my little black heart grew three sizes that day. He asked me, “Mommy, can we hear The Clash?” What? Did I really hear that right? “What did you say sweetie?” I replied. “The Clash! London Calling!!” My God! There is nothing left to teach this little man! At 2.5 years old, he gets it! Go forth and conquer! As we listened to the album, I stole glances in the rearview mirror and saw him rocking out in his car seat with his favorite Thomas the Tank Engine toy in one hand and a juice box in the other. I’m not a huge fan of reality TV, but I sincerely wish someone had been filming this particular moment of my parenting experience. While my daughter doesn’t complain when we listen to bands like The Clash, she definitely prefers music by female-fronted bands. One day this fall she asked who we were listening to because she liked the “girl singer.” I told her it was Le Tigre and the singer she liked was named Kathleen Hanna. Now whenever we get in the car, she asks to hear “Kathleen with the pretty voice.” I know every parent thinks their kids are the most amazing people on the planet, but I think this is definitive proof that mine actually are. (Sorry, other parents).
So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the official Midwestern Housewife’s Top Five Shining Moments in Parenting from 2009. Thank you for reading my column this year. I appreciate all the feedback I’ve received from readers whether in the form of comments here, on my Facebook page, or in person. Have a great 2010, everyone! Now I’m off to troll the internet in the hopes of finding a recipe for pudding pops. For some reason, I have a craving for frozen, over-processed, dairy-like dessert.