It’s officially the end of the summer. The kids are bored with basically everything. All of their toys. All of their coloring and painting utensils. Each other. Me. It’s too damn humid to play outside, and we’re all losing our ever-loving minds.
This is the train of logic we seem to go through every day and end up at the same place. Me giving in, and the kids winning out and getting what they want. Call me weak. Call my kids manipulative. I disagree with both. I call me exhausted, and my kids smart. But honestly, everyone kinda wins when you follow the correct path to “fine, let’s watch Netflix.”
Is there anything to play with in the house that interest you?
Is there anything I can send you to clean so you stop complaining about being bored?
Is it a proper temperature outside for me to boot you out the door?
FINE. I GUESS WE’LL WATCH DAWN OF THE CROODS ON NETFLIX.
Don’t go thinking I haven’t employed this tactic on my children in retribution. I can learn from them just as well as they can learn from me. They come to me asking to watch TV when it isn’t their “TV time” (yeah, we have scheduled TV time for them. There’s only so many kiddie cartoons I can watch, y’all.)
Is it YOUR tv time?
Have you played with literally everything else you own and are positive there’s nothing left to do?
Is the temperature outside unbearable?
Okay, have you done the extra chore to earn TV time when it isn’t your TV time?
But it’s still not YOUR TV time?
Okay! Stranger Things it is!
I don’t know why it’s so difficult to get my kids to watch Stranger Things with me. They LOVE Science Fiction. They LOVE spoopy stuff. They LOVE music from the 80’s. I swear they just don’t want to sit down and watch it with me because I want them to, so this is what I gotta do.
What show do YOU use (or do your kids use) mental gymnastics to get someone to watch something on Netflix with you? And more importantly… DOES IT WORK?
In case you need some tips on how to successfully mental gymnastics someone into watching what you want on Netflix, here ya go:
My social media feeds are full of kids posing with bookbags and lunchboxes, about to head back for their first day of school. My kids just got changed out of pajamas because I yelled at them. We still have a few weeks left of summer break, and have yet to take our annual family vacation. One week from today, we hit the road. We used to fly, but it seemed we caught the plague every time we did and the convenience of quick travel wasn’t work four people puking in a car on the way home from the airport.
We stick with road trips. Which means we’re healthier, but we have a lot of free time to fill to keep the “are we there yet?”s at bay.
Now, whether you’re already sending the kids back to the hallowed halls of education, or you’ve still got time left to serve on this summer sentence, eventually, you’re going to find yourselves in a car with kids for a prolonged period of time. I’ve read shitloads of articles on how to “keep kids busy”, and other ones on “fun car games for families”- because why not make something mundane fun if at all possible, but the one common thread I’ve found in these articles is that they are all completely full of shit.
Just telling the parents to take along movies, assortments of snacks, coloring books, and to try playing the ol’ Alphabet game is. not. adequate. It takes us TWO days to get to Disney World (it’d take one if we decided to drive the full 13 in one sitting but HAHAHAHAHAHA HELL NO) and we go every year, if not more than once a year. Trust me when I tell you that these things alone do not work. They will not keep your kids occupied. And for SOME kids, these tips are downright detrimental to everyone’s health & wellbeing.
It’s time we accept that traveling with kids has changed. No, we don’t have teleportation yet, and (at the time of writing) the hyperloop has yet to be given the go-ahead, but long gone are the days where road trips consist of an old Gameboy (if we were lucky) that only lasted an hour, and being able to roam about the oversied minivan freely, taking naps lying down, and car games that took up hours of time. My kids fight over Eye Spy.
Here’s how I arm myself for long car trips (and yes, I consider it arming myself):
I’d say to wish me luck, but I think we could all probably use it. May the force be with all of us.
During my puberty years and beyond, I found myself constantly asking one question (and no, it wasn’t “when will I ever get boobs?”)– will boys EVER get less frustrating?
I know, I know– we’re always told growing up that females are the complicated gender, but, if you’re a female, you know that’s not really the truth.
Boys were always flaky, aloof, seemingly uncaring, and absolutely 5,000% oblivious. I swore that they were complicated by their own ignorance and that wisdom must come with age. The more you’re around the other gender, the more experience you have, the more sense they must make, right? So adulthood would be a piece of cake. Men wouldn’t be so frustrating, and I wouldn’t feel like I was always talking to a brick wall. Maybe I’d even end up with sage wisdom to pass down to future generations on how to avoid this long and complicated stage altogether. Even just a little would be immensely helpful.
With over ten years of marriage under my belt, I feel I can finally, properly, give the answer young me was always looking for.
My family leaves for our annual Disney vacation in under 2 weeks, and I’ve been trying to get back in shape after a nasty injury for months now. It has been a very frustrating battle. My husband knows this. One of my main struggles isn’t the exercise- it’s food. I love food, probably a little too much, and I have trouble refraining from eating things I “shouldn’t”, and I’m not awesome at moderation. My husband also knows this. I’ve been really cracking down on myself lately, because there’s not much time left, and it’s basically put me into a constant state of hangry. My husband is VERY aware of this. Breakfast and lunch, I’m great at. I’ve got the whole “healthy eating” thing down pat, but when it comes to dinner where I’m cooking for an entire family, it’s much more difficult. Healthy food is boring, I’m not a great cook, nor am I creative one, so keeping things interesting AND healthy is a struggle. And if you think I’m going to make two separate meals so that I can stay on track while my family enjoys slightly less healthy but far more delicious foods, you’re insane. Like, legitimately batshit. That’s never gonna happen.
Dinner is a bitch. Should I put so much pressure on myself? Hell no I shouldn’t, but I am- so, let’s continue the story, shall we?
By dinner time each day, I am a level of stabby that shouldn’t be poked. This came to a head on Tuesday night. I couldn’t find anything decent to eat. The one idea I had sounded disgusting, but at least it was an idea. Lightbulb! Since these ideas were so nasty, but still sounded like I was at least putting effort into finding something to make out of the ingredients we had already in the house, I’d send the idea over to my husband, dripping in so much distaste he’d nix the idea. Why not be direct? LOOK, PEOPLE. THIS IS MARRIAGE. SOMETIMES YOU KNOW YOU CAN GET WHAT YOU WANT WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR SPOUSE THINK IT’S THEIR IDEA, OKAY? STRATEGY! Think smart!
Me: All we have are turkey meatballs. We don’t have buns. Just burger buns. I guess I could make meatball sandwiches. ugh.
Him: That could work
Son of a bitch.
I go to the kitchen, and pull out the meatballs. There aren’t enough for meatball sandwiches, y’all.
Me: Okay, so, fuck. There are only 9 meatballs. That’s 2 1/4 per sandwich. That’s not enough.
Him: We could make that work
I just. Can’t. With. This. Shit.
I go back to the kitchen and angrily dump the meatballs into a crockpot and then go to grab the red sauce. There’s only 1/8th of a jar, DEFINITELY NOT ENOUGH for meatball sandwiches.
I stomp back to the computer
Me: There’s no red sauce. I can’t make this crap. Not that I wanted it, anyway.
Him: Well, I’m sure you could make your own red sauce…
Me: I’m not doing that.
Him: Yeah… it’d make too much sauce anyway.
Oh, so is he finally starting to get it?
Him: You can just make turkey burgers
Me: Isn’t the meat frozen? (crosses fingers, tossing salt over the shoulder)
Him: No, it’s thawed in the fridge.
I swear to all that is holy, y’all. I swear. This man is about to have ground turkey smashed in his face like a creampie.
Me: I mean. I don’t want that, but I GUESS SINCE IT’S ALL WE HAVE.
All he had to do was take the hint. TAKE THE HINT THAT THERE IS NOTHING I WANT IN THIS HOUSE. Actually, let me stop letting him off easy. It’s not even a hint at this point. We’ve been married for ten years. He knows me. He knows what I’m going through. He knows when I’m basically pointing his ass to picking something up because we’ve been through this exact scenario seven hundred and ninety three times, and yet still
Him: Okay, so do you want fries with that?
Me: NO. I DON’T WANT FRIES. I CAN’T EAT FRIES. YOU KNOW THIS.
He shows up with a bag of frozen fucking french fries.
The answer is no. Men will never understand you. You will never understand them. I’d tell you to save yourself the trouble by being direct, but that just makes too much sense and relationships are weird.
I wasn’t blessed with girlfriends who had kids the same time as me. I never had a group of friends who would hold playdates together and gossip while the kids did whatever the hell it is they do at whatever the hell age it is that they are. I’ve never been to a mom’s night out. I don’t honestly even have mom friends. It’s not that I don’t have friends with kids, I do. I just don’t have a group. A “Squad” as the kids call it these days.
I’m like the black sheep of moms. Or at least, I feel like I am most days.
This isn’t me lamenting over it. I’m not sad. I’m not really even lonely. Sure, I’d love to hang out with humans other than my family some time… but only if the kids aren’t involved.
I’m totally serious.
I see pictures of these awesome themed gatherings. Moms posting smiling pictures hanging out with the kids in the background. Hear of weekly get togethers, cookouts, picnics, but I have no desire to participate.
I’m just. not. interested. in. playdates.
For days I’ve tried to figure out how to explain why. I don’t particularly dislike other people’s kids. I don’t particularly dislike other moms.
Okay, that’s a lie. I do, and I do. Maybe I’ve just been searching for a better way to explain it without sounding like a horrid bitch, but I came up with nothing.
The fact is just this and there’s no softening it: I don’t want to hang out with other moms and their kids. I will, if I have to. I won’t even hate it. I’ll be personable, and nice, and I might even have fun, for the sake of the kids- but if it’s my choice, I’m not playdating.
It’s not that I think I’m too good for it. I don’t think that I’m too “cool” or that other moms aren’t “cool” enough (trust me, I know a hell of a lot of moms far cooler than me). I’m not too judgy for it, or any other reason I can think of that might make “sense.” For me, playdates are like dentist appointments. If I HAVE to, if it’s absolutely necessary, I’ll grin and bear it. Otherwise, even though I know it might be good for me, it’s not happening. Because I simply don’t want to.
Some might argue if I had better/different/more mom friends, I might change my mind, and I can’t deny that you might be right, but I doubt it.
So just remember- if you ever ask me on a playdate, and I’m all
It’s not you, it’s me.
Sometimes I feel like I write blogs just so that in possible future therapy sessions with my children, if they claim shit went down a certain way that scarred them for life, I can pull up my website, go to a specific post, and say “NAH. THAT ISN’T HOW IT WENT DOWN, LIAR.”
Probably causing more issues, and even more need for future therapy sessions, but I digress.
It is 9:56 am on August 2nd, 2017, and other than the sound of my fingers slamming the crappy keys on my crappy laptop, and the whirring of my air conditioner blowing air through the vents as it kicks on and off repeatedly, as it can’t seem to regulate the temperature because it’s hotter than the underside of Satan’s tit outside, my house is silent.
School doesn’t start for over another month. My kids aren’t away at summer camp, nor are they at friends houses, and NO, I didn’t pretend to start a game of Hide & Go Seek and just never do the whole “Go Seek” part, though that is incredibly tempting. They’re here, in perfectly good health, of sound body and mind. Me? Not so much.
Even though they only have each other to play with most days (we are summer homebodies), and they play within very close range of one another (inches to feet), they feel the need to constantly say each other’s names when speaking. Everything they say starts with the other’s name. And I do mean EVERYTHING. I named them, yes. Which means I love their names, yes. But I didn’t expect to hear their names on repeat, in different shrill, whiny, and yelling tones 47 times in 15 minutes this morning as they fought, yet again, over trivial bullshit. I should have, considering they do this every single day, but something in my head this morning just went NOPE. NO MORE. I CAN’T. There’s only so much one person can take, and #47 of “Par-KERRRRRRRRRRRR!” was it for me.
I am weak. I accept this.
Desperate, and barren patience times call for desperate measures. I did something I wouldn’t usually do. Something I would never even consider, because it’s usually more of a punishment for myself than it is for the kids– because I KNOW that by doing this I am essentially dooming myself and kissing the scraps of patience I had left goodbye, but I knew if I didn’t take this decisive action immediately, I’d be taking the kids down to the Social Services office and changing their names to “Whiny McTurdBreath” and “Sassy VonButtFart”
I guess in a way, I was also saving the last shred of my human decency and maturity as well.
That’s right- I banned the kids from speaking to each other. In fact, I not only banned them, I told them that if they DARED to speak one more word to each other for the entire day, I’d take a dollar from their allowance bank per word. They know I mean business when I start messing with the money they’ve been saving to buy more Legos to embed into the bottoms of my feet. Seriously– that’s all they ever buy. They don’t dare risk the precious Lego money.
This left only me for them to speak to. A heavy burden I chose to bear to stop them from annoying the ever-loving shit out of me with their incessant petty arguments.
It’s now 7:06 p.m. and they have not spoken to each other all day.
Did we learn anything from this experiment of sorts? No. Will this change the boys’ behavior in the future? Probably not, let’s not be delusional. Did it make me feel any better moving forward? Not really.
We all have our breaking points, our hard limits, our points of no return. I certainly don’t feel bad about it, because I know I could feel a hell of a lot worse had I allowed it to continue beyond the line I’ve carved into the hardwood.
My only advice, the only thing to really take away from this is to recognize your moment and be okay with having a “shitty” parenting moment to reset yourself. Tell your kids they can’t speak to each other. Play Hide & Go Seek and maybe don’t “Go seek” for a little while. Hide in the closet if you have to. Then take a deep breath, and brace yourself, because you’re probably going to have to do it all over again, and hear about it later when your kids bring it up in therapy.
Just did this yesterday and it was everything 9 year old me could have dreamed of pic.twitter.com/imYQlUmSVn
LIVE on Twitch tonight -- come say hi! twitch.tv/holdinholden
As I embark on an 11 day trip with my kids, this is especially fitting. VACATIONS WITH KIDS ARE MANUAL LABOR! holdinholden.com/2016/03/vaca…
Are you, though?? 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/Rm5L9PBuiL
When I file for divorce and people ask why I'm gonna say "I told him I felt bloated & wanted donuts and he replied 'that's not gonna help'"
Me usually: Lunch time, kids! So much to choose from! Me before a trip: You're gettin' a bread sandwich because I'm not going shopping again
How to Convince Your Fam to Watch ANYTHING you want on Netflix! goo.gl/fb/H6iZrR
We're just... uh.... wrestling.... 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/dpAIyM88c8
When you think your kid is done telling a story and you're finally free but they immediately start telling another pic.twitter.com/zM5gtwNCnj