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The Monkey Squad

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There are quite a few things a parent can do to inadvertently damage a child’s psyche.

It’s been done to all of us; well-meaning parents trying to infuse some sort of loving control over their children in an effort to guide them through the turbulence we call life.

Inadvertently damaging the child’s psyche usually comes in the form of the well-meaning parent (often frustrated at their astounding inability to break through the child’s unique ability to resist all guidance from said parent) resorting to some teaching tool or tactic they would otherwise not employ – were the child not a logic-allergic…child.

**********

Let me take you back to the summer of 2010.  I believe the month was July.

My three boys were outside in the front yard playing with two friends, also boys.

Did I say playing? Silly me.  I’m sorry.

What I really meant was screaming/yelling/wrestling/picking weird stuff up off the ground/shoving weird stuff off the ground into anyone’s face within arm’s length/falling down/scraping body parts/more yelling/asking for snacks every one and half minutes/all claiming they were Darth Vader when everyone knows there can only be one Darth Vader/crying and whining from everyone who couldn’t be Darth Vader because they didn’t call it first…kind of playing.

Aaaahhhhh.  A typical summer day here.

When my kids and neighbor kids are outside playing here (all under the age of 8) I am omnipresent.  Oh, I camouflage myself quite skillfully, usually in a discarded Army tarp and shrubbery remnants which I bungee-cord to myself, so as to disappear….

“…..you don’t seeeee meeeee…..

I like to think of myself as the Jane Goodall of Moms; living among them but trying not to interfere in the natural order.  The problem is they are out there for hours, dammit, HOURS.  It gets boring.

There is only so much yard work you can do covered in a mobile duck-hunting blind in the scorching 180 degree humidity of a summer day in Chicagoland.

"Dude, is that your MOM???" "Yes (sigh)". "Does she think we can't see her?" "Yes (sigh)". "Dude, that is messed UP!" "Dog, I KNOW!" (High five)

On this particular day my oldest son Boogs (5 1/2 years old at the time) was being uncharacteristically aggressive and testosterone-y with his brothers and friends.  He was also not listening to my admonishments and was generally pissing me off.

I try not to embarrass him in front of his friends with my discipline.  I make every attempt to pull him aside and embarrass him with my discipline.  But on this day he was having none of it.

I pulled out every Mom threat I could think of to get him to stop bullying his brothers and friends into being perpetual mere clone troopers or droids while he expected indefinite Darth Vaderdom:

  1. Reason:  Share Darth Vader and you’ll have more fun –  (“No!  I’m the best Vader and you know it!”)
  2. No popsicle – (“So, it would melt anyway!”)
  3. A time out – (“Good, I’ll get to sit down!”)
  4. His friends will have to go home – (“Big deal, they’re not playing right anyway!”)
  5. Go inside to your room – (“Mmmm…I’d love to be in the cool air conditioning!”)
  6. No TV for a week (“TV is stinky!”)

Arghhh…this kid.  The plain truth was he knew I was bluffing.  On this day the two friends were over because their mothers weren’t home.  He knew they weren’t going anywhere and that I wouldn’t make him go to his room.

Ooooh, he was giving me all sorts of lip and attitude and pushing my big, red Fisher Price-sized buttons to the Nth degree.  And he was just begging me to rein him in.

I was hot and frustrated and was trying at the same time to watch the other boys so I could prevent the “The Lord of the Flies” scenario from taking hold while their indignant leader was gone.

So I gently dragged Boogs alongside me as I waddled in my tarp and twigs to the side of the garage out of earshot of the other boys, and this simple phrase came flying out of my mouth in a forceful whisper:

“Do you want the monkey squad to come?”

Silence and huge eyes from him. Fear.  Then…

“What’s the monkey squad?”  Still with attitude, though faux now.

My first thought was “Ha!  That got your attention smarty.”

But my second thought was, “Oh boy…I wish I could take that back”. 

The week before we had watched “The Wizard of Oz” and it popped into my mind that I had told him the flying monkeys were the coolest, and at the same time scariest, thing to me when I was a kid.

But now I was stuck explaining what I meant and trying not to scare the shit out of him, without completely losing any standing as the Alpha Mother.

“Well, um, the Monkey Squad are really good, kind monkeys that sometimes come and teach kids who aren’t behaving well how to be better and listen to their Moms.”

Oh my God.  What the fuck? Because that is sooo much less scary than flying monkeys in a movie? 

“What do you mean?” he asked clearly terrified.  “Monkeys come and get you?  Where do they take you??”

Ahh, shit.  Think, woman, think…

“Um, they don’t really take you anywhere. They come and talk to you…. They…..oh forget it.  I’m making it up.  There is no Monkey Squad.  I’m sorry.  There is no such thing.  I was just telling you that funny little story to get you to listen to  me because you are not being good today.  I’m sorry.  There is no such thing.  Okay?  Just forget it.  Forget it.  Now go and play NICELY.”

He stood and stared at me.

“Where does the monkey squad live?”

There is no monkey squad!  (deep breaths)  I was joking.  Sometimes Moms do that when they are frustrated.  Never mind.  I was kidding.  There is no monkey squad.  Seriously.  I’m sorry.  I love you.  Now go play.”

And he walked away slowly, peering ever-cautiously through the trees for the rest of the afternoon.

Good Christ.  I felt terrible.  But damn if he didn’t play nice from that point on.

**********

Okay, so I thought it was done.  Kids his age have the attention span of ducks anyway, right?

That night we were getting ready for bed.  I was brushing his teeth.

“Mom, where does the monkey squad live?”

Son of a BITCH.

“Babe, listen.  I told you.  That wasn’t true.  Really.  I was kidding.  Sometimes Moms make jokes that are mistakes and that was a big mistake.  There is NO monkey squad.  I promise you.”

“Okay….”

Oh holy shit did I feel bad.  Horrible.  In a moment of sheer frustration and anger at my own inability to control a 5 1/2 year old boy, I instead scared the bejesus out of him.

I was sure he’d be riddled with nightmarish images all night long of flying monkeys landing in our front yard coming to take him to a Maury Povich-type troubled-teen boot camp.

But he slept fine.  He was okay. He never mentioned it the next day at all, and yet I was overcompensating still to make up for my “Mommy Dearest” moment.

I just wanted him to never remember I said it.  I plied him with more candy than normal.  Was super-lovey with him, more than normal.  And it seemed to work.  No mention the next day, or the day after that.

Whew.  Bullet dodged.

(I’m pretty sure, Dear Reader, you know that is not true or you wouldn’t be reading a blog entry about it would you?  Am I right?)

**********

Fast forward roughly one year later.  Early August, 2011.

My three boys were upstairs getting ready for bed.  I’m sorry, did I say getting ready?  Right.

What I meant to say was running around and bouncing off the walls like racquet balls as they usually do right before sleep.  You know, just to get it all out.

Teeth were brushed, potties used, jammies on and I was looking through the dresser drawers in my room right across the hall from them.

The two youngest boys were particularly nutso that night and even Boogs was getting irritated.  He kept telling them to be quiet.  But they wouldn’t listen.

I was looking for my night-shirt when I heard this from Boogs to his two little brothers:

“You guys better be good or the monkey squad will come and take you to their camp in the woods for months until you learn to behave.  But they’re not mean, they’re nice.  But still they live in the woods and they’ll come”.

What the fuuuuu………………..

“NOPE…NO….!!!!” I yelled as I tripped over myself running to their bedroom, pulling myself along the walls and busting through their bedroom door in an effort to diffuse the A-bomb I had dropped the year before.

“NO!  That’s not true.  Guys, no.  There is no monkey squad.  Ha!  Ho, man, that was just a funny little story I told Boogs a long time ago but it’s not true.  Okay…so, let’s get ready for bed guys!”

The forced chipperness was oozing out of my pores like molasses and they could smell it a mile away.

“The MONKEY squad?!?  What’s THAT?” my 3 1/2 year old whimpered in terror as he clutched his favorite stuffed animal – a monkey, of course.

“No, Babe.  No Monkey squad!  Hey, you guys wanna go to the park tomorrow and then eat ice cream sundaes for dinner??”

It was done.  The damage.  Boogs had remembered it…of fucking COURSE!  Why wouldn’t he remember the single most terrifying thing anyone had ever told him, much less that it came from his Mother; his ordained protector and anointed truth-teller?

**********

For the next half hour I tried in vain to explain the non-existence of the monkey squad.  The more I denied it, the more they believed.  They laughed some about it, but mostly they stared at Boogs as he kept interjecting more and more outrageous information about what the monkey squad was and where is was stationed (Minnesota, apparently).

It was the proverbial snowball.  From Hell.

They still talk about it.  They’ve told some of their friends about it.  One friend recently asked me if it was real.

“No.  Nope.  It is not true.  I told a bad-Mommy joke because I thought it would be kind of funny and maybe make Boogs listen to me.  Nuh-uh.  Not real”.

The friend turned to Boogs and whispered, “Where do they take you?”

It was useless.  They believed, and my protestations to the contrary seemed only to reinforce its reality.  It was done.

God only knows how many kids Boogs has told monkey squad stories to.  Hundreds?

The only thing I can’t believe is that I haven’t gotten a call from a single parent who had to get rid of their pet chimp because of my 10 second lie.

Parental guilt is rivaled only by Catholic guilt.  In my case I have both.  Such is my cross to bear.

These poor kids, not only will they be randomly subjected to sweat inducing, heart racing nightmares periodically throughout their lives…they will likely one day perpetuate this myth by telling it to their children in dire frustration, despite what logic dictates. 

But here’s a VERY interesting thing…  I Googled “monkey squad” just to see what might come up.  And there was the picture you see further up…”Monkey Squadron”.

Coincidence?  Was that picture created by a collective parental mind at work – by other parents all over the world who have told similar stories to force compliance from their offspring?

Or perhaps, just perhaps, we have direct knowledge as to how a folklore is born…on the driveway of a suburban Chicago home out of sheer desperation, from a little white lie meant to help a Mom on the precipice of losing control of her 5 1/2 year old son.

The whole story has taken on a life of its own.  You know why?  Because deep down kids think – it has to be trueMoms wouldn’t tell a lie. 

Ugh.

One thing’s for certain…I will lose all semblance of street-cred when they find out about Santa.


The Mother of All Panic Buttons

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I have now raised three sons past the age of three years old.  Boogs is 6 1/2.  Bubs is 4 1/2.  Boo is 3 1/2.  Sometimes it smacks me in the head like a swatter hitting a fly: “Who in the HELL thought I was adult enough, know enough, am responsible enough….to have three children COMPLETELY DEPENDENT ON ME?!?!”

Yeah, see?  Sometimes it still freaks me out.

A friend once asked me how I do it – three boys so close in age, so young.

My response was: “Some days, if they’re just…alive, and relatively healthy by the end of the day, that day was a success.”

It is HARD being a parent.  Good God Almighty.  It just is.  And to be a good parent…a great one?  Well, I’m not there, but I certainly give it everything I have.  I suppose the magnitude of my kids’ adult neuroses will be the gauge on that meter.

My wonderful boys are…hmmmm.  Energetic.  Very.  They are wonderfully and often, stupifyingly, exuberant.  They’re kids.  Beautiful, crazy, life-loving kids.  I am only recently feeling confident enough in myself to take all three of them together, out anywhere in the world…let’s say grocery shopping, and feeling like I can handle it without at least two of them ensconced in the cart.  When the two youngest would be put in the cart they were excited…they thought it was awesome and the most fun ever!  Me?  I saw a safe little cage on wheels.

All three of them are far too big for carts now.  Now they must be allowed to walk free.  Free-range children.  Oh boy.

Planning a simple grocery shopping trip with them takes years of pre-planning, statistical pie-charting and the mapping out of contingency scenarios.  It requires a thorough knowledge of the store to be patronized and the death-defying route from the parking space to the store entrance.  It requires stern but not menacing discussions about stranger-danger and what to do if they get separated from me.  It requires no sauntering or meandering once inside, but does require a precise list of the goods needed in the precise order in which I will find them in the store.

Listen, I understand that I might seem a little high strung about this…but it’s new to me so give me a break.  I also understand that many mothers just pack their three to six+ kids in the car, zip off to the store and wing it.  Yeah yeah yeah…bravo for them.  I don’t know who those women are, and I don’t want to.  Anyone that brave and put-together is not welcome in my inner-circle…what with their carefree attitudes and zero-stress levels and all.  Don’t let the very-slowly-closing automatic grocery store door gently bump you in the ass on the way out, I say.  I digress.

So six years ago I mapped out my recent grocery shopping trip with the boys, really the first with three completely free-range children.  The day was upon us.  I felt good.  I felt prepared.

Navigation of the parking lot went well…blood pressure was within normal ranges.  Walking through the automatic doors went well…no head injuries.  Explanation regarding why they can no longer sit in the “awesome” cart went fairly well…no sit-down-on-the-floor tantrums.  Directive to never leave my general view went well…”Okay, Mommy”s heard all around.

“Well, hell”, I thought, “All of my hard work has paid off.”  I squeezed my own shoulder with pride.

I was cocky.  Oh yes.

Produce was the first department.  Fruit went fine.  Twenty feet past fruit are vegetables.  Did my head count, all accounted for and within easy sight.  They didn’t need to be glued to me, simply within my vision.   They were laughing at potatoes.  I don’t know…don’t ask me.

I turned around to fill a bag with green beans.  I don’t know why they don’t have a bean-catcher at the bottom of the Giza pyramid- sized mountain of beans.  It’s like some sort of Candid Camera situation when you try to take a handful and 25,000 beans cascade to the ground.

“Son of a bitch…argggghhhh”…under my breath as I bent down to at least move them out of the middle of the floor.  Being an HR Director I’m pretty aware of the hassles of Workers’ Comp claims.

It probably only took about 20 seconds to bend over and push the beans underneath the shelf.  I stood up and realized I heard no potato taunting.  Like one of those prairie gophers I stood up on my toes and scanned the horizon.  I could see the two oldest boys whose heads bobbed above the displays, over by the deli.  I assumed Boo, the youngest, was with them.

“Come over here please!”  I whisper-yelled.

They did.  But there was no three-year old Boo.

“Where’s Boo?!”  I asked my oldest.

“I dunno.  He went over there.” He said passively and pointed toward the entrance.

My heart stopped.  I grabbed their hands and left my cart with my purse open, wallet sitting inside invitingly.

I dragged them behind me as I weaved in and around the multiple displays and shelves in circles making my way toward the entrance.  And now I was not whisper-yelling, I was yelling… “Boo!  Boo…where are you?!  Come here now please!”

Nothing.

And here is what went through my mind, in no particular order:

  • He was close enough to the door that someone walked out with him easily, lured with candy.
  • How charming and funny he is.
  • He was being harmed or killed in a van in the parking lot.
  • His funeral.
  • His beautiful laugh.
  • I bet it was that shifty-looking man in his mid-fifties who looked out-of-place when we walked in.
  • What was the shifty man wearing?
  • What was Boo wearing?
  • The State taking away my other two children due to my extreme negligence.
  • How would I keep the other two kids safe while I beat to death the person who was trying to shove my son in a van in the parking lot?
  • How my remaining children would forever grieve the loss of their mother because I would be sitting catatonic in an institution or prison for the rest of my life.
  • His big, gorgeous eyes.
  • Quelling the scream which welled up in my throat.
  • His pleading for me to save him.
  • How much I loved him.

By the time these thoughts had run through my head at the speed of light, I saw the colorful, tethered and slightly bouncing helium balloons in the floral area near the store entrance.  I don’t even really remember how I got there.  The two boys locked in my grip were whining.

I walked around the back-end of the floral counter, and there he was.

I stopped and just stared at him.

“Balloons Mommy!”  he exclaimed.

I let go of the other two kids’ arms which now owned my hand prints emblazoned in red.  They ran to the balloons too.

I leaned my arm against the counter and just kind of…shook.  Tears welled up in my eyes but did not fall.  I felt light-headed.  I felt stupid for losing sight of him and guilty for everything that just went through my head.  I felt incompetent and as if I had no control.  I felt the head-rush of immeasurable relief and thankfulness.

I picked him up and he was annoyed.  He squirmed to get down.  I obliged, knelt down to his eye-level and turned his head toward me and said “Never, ever, EVER walk away so that Mommy can’t see you.  Do you UNDERSTAND?”

“Yeah!” he yelled and went back to the balloons.

I pulled myself together and now I was pissed.  At myself of course.  But to them I was just angry-for-no-reason-Mommy.

I picked up both of the youngest boys and squeezed them into the basket of the cart.  At first they were thrilled, and then complained there wasn’t enough room as they kicked each other.  “Too bad!”  I snapped.  My oldest ran alongside of me as I grabbed what little I could fit into the tiny front of the cart and we got in line, checked out, got in the car and went home.

Six years of pre-planning and pie-charting…for nothing.

I couldn’t see or hear my son for what was approximately one minute.  One. Damn. Minute.  In that time my life and his flashed before my eyes.  It was one minute of sheer, unadulterated panic.

Overblown?  Perhaps.  Over-thinking?  Perhaps.  Overreacting?  Never.

What must it take for a woman, a mother, to live through 31 days of not knowing where her child is?  What must it take for a mother to not only live, but to live it up, during those 31 days?  What must it take for a mother to ignore the screaming panic in her head and heart if she believes her child to be missing, somewhere in the world with God only knows who?  What must it take for a mother to ignore the screaming grief in her heart if she knew her child was already dead, by a tragic accident or not?

Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murder.  Not guilty of manslaughter. Only guilty of misleading law enforcement officers with her countless lies about what happened and when during those 31 days.  I did not watch the entire trial, only the synopsis here and there on the news every night.

I’ve been on a jury.  Not a murder trial, but a simple personal injury trial with only some banged up cars and a slight injury settlement at stake, and I can tell you that all twelve of us jurors took that job very, very seriously.  I have no doubt that the twelve ordinary people chosen as jurors in the Casey Anthony trial took their jobs seriously to the Nth degree.  They had reasonable doubt that Casey actually murdered her own daughter.  I believe they did what they had to do despite what seemed like a very circumstantially damning case for her.  I believe the State couldn’t prove she murdered her daughter Caylee.  And the jury couldn’t convict.  I accept that, regardless of what my personal opinion is.

But….oh, the “but”….she was found “not guilty” on the count of “Aggravated Child Abuse”.  How is that possible??  Casey Anthony never reported her own daughter missing, she allowed her mother to do that.  How can you not report your child missing for over one month…one month…and not be considered a child abuser?  Yes, I know…someone will tell me it’s the wording of the law, the charge should have been more suited to the circumstances. Blahblahblah. Bullshit.  I don’t want to hear any of that.

Casey Anthony is the worst kind of child abuser; the kind who truly doesn’t think she is, that her inaction was justified in some warped and twisted way.  The kind who is devoid enough of even the basest of human emotions…grief and guilt…that it allowed her to completely erase her own daughter from existence.  Whether she knew Caylee was dead through murder or tragic accident or believed she was alive but missing during those 31 days is irrelevant.  In any of those scenarios, Casey Anthony is a pathetic excuse for a human being and an aggravated abuser of her nearly three-year old daughter…at the very, very fucking least.

She abused her daughter’s chances for survival if she was indeed missing and alive.  She abused her daughter’s right to be found dead, murdered or not, in a timely manner so that enough evidence could be gathered and justice and/or closure could prevail. And she abused her daughter’s very existence…extinguished it…if she knew her to be dead through a tragic accident and disposed of her tiny body in a garbage bag.

I don’t know a single mother, not one, who hasn’t had their own version of my grocery store incident with one of their children;  experiencing soul-screeching panic at not knowing where their child is for thirty seconds, one minute, five minutes…let alone for 31 days.

There is no excuse for Casey Anthony:  Not fear of the law.  Not fear of punishment.  Not fear of acceptance of her daughter’s fate.  Not trauma for alleged abuses by her own father twenty years ago.  Not insanity.  Nothing.

She abused everything human about her daughter; abused her dignity, her life and her death for over one month by not reporting her “missing”.

The jury was wrong.  They should have convicted her of aggravated child abuse…even if the letter of the law didn’t strictly apply in that they couldn’t prove some sort of physical or mental abuse.  They should have convicted her of that at least because it’s the truth.  And Casey Anthony’s complete callousness and flagrant living as if life was wonderful and unchanged…proved it beyond a reasonable doubt.

I convicted myself within one minute at that grocery store.  I’m willing to bet a lot that I’m no different or better a human being than any of those twelve jurors.  So I want to know how they came to the conclusion that she didn’t abuse her beautiful, little girl.  The whole world wants to know.

Maybe those jurors and the entire defense team ought to be made to take a small child they love and care for to the grocery store, and lose them for a minute…or two, and multiply the panic they feel at that perceived loss by a billion. Or 31 days.

Then I want them to tell me that Casey Anthony didn’t abuse her daughter.

Snips-and-Snails-and…Oh, COME ON!!!

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In general I’ve never really been a “girlie-girl”.  When I was young I didn’t really like to play with Barbies very much.  I didn’t really like to play “house”, although I remember playing it fairly often.  I used to like to play “office”.  Yeah, I don’t know…kind of strange, but whatever.   I don’t particularly remember liking dressing up in flowery clothes much, although I know I certainly did at times.

The “stand-out” toy I got as a kid was not a doll or dress-up clothes, it was “Electronic Battleship”, baby – still the coolest game ever.  I collected Star Wars cards.  As a teenager I wore very little makeup and still don’t wear much.  Never liked the color pink.  I always hated spending time on my hair.  To this day I kind of dread going to get my hair cut as I don’t much like the whole “salon” experience; it seems like a waste of time and the minute I sit down I can’t wait to get out of there.  I dislike immensely the process of shopping for clothes – and while I definitely appreciate flattering, feminine clothing – I simply don’t want to go through the process of acquiring it.

My sister, younger than me by 2 1/2 years, was and still is, basically the opposite….pretty “girlie”…loves to shop, loves cute clothes, likes pink…the whole-nine.

Hmmm… I realize I’m sounding pretty “butch” here, but I don’t feeeeel that way and I don’t think I come across that way to people (pipe-down, peanut gallery…).  I’ve just rarely bought into the whole “this is how you should be a girl/woman” thing.  In high school I remember saying to myself  “If guys don’t think I’m pretty in a flannel, skin-tight Jordache jeans and a massively huge, low-maintenance perm – screw ’em”.

My point is, I’m no princess. Which is inherently a very good thing as I am the mother to three boys; ages 6, 4 and 3.

My sister, well she ended up with three girls.

Perfect!

Destiny would deal the perfect cards for each of us; the gendered children who would best suit our personalities and strengths.

Or DID it??

So the other day I’m sitting at the table with the boys eating pizza, (literally the only food-group all three of them will eat simultaneously).  Here is the conversation that followed:

THE PLAYERS:  Mom (me), Boogs (6 yrs old), Bubs (4 yrs old) and Boo (3 yrs old):

BOO:  Hey Boogs…do you like DIARRHEA on your pizza?

ME:  WHOA!  Whoa…disgusting.  Stop.  We don’t say that, especially at the table.  And you better never say that out in public.

BOO:  Sorry Mommy.  (giggles by all three as I glare).

BUBS:  ME!  I like poo pizza!

ME:  Hey!  I said knock it off!  (silence).

BOOGS:  Did you guys just hear that fart? (Boys belly-laugh….there was no gaseous emission from anyone within a 100 yard radius).

ME:  You know what, that’s IT!  (I stand up menacingly)…Are you trying to make me sick?  We do NOT talk like that in this house.  That’s it, do you UNDERSTAND?!   Tell me OUT LOUD that you understand!

ALL:  (mutterings of yeah, sure, ok).

ME:  (I walk to the sink to rinse my dish).  Just gross.

BOOGS:  Mom, you should have seen Bubs’ poop today, it was HUGE!  (They all laugh).

ME:  (My back is to them and I am now laughing, but am hiding it).  Wha…what???  First of all, why the hell are you even looking at his poo?  I don’t understand, that’s just weird.  Stop doing that.   That’s number one.  Number two…yeah, ok, while we’re at it…from now on going pee is “No. 1”, and going poop is “No. 2”.  That’s what we should say because you’re all clearly obsessed with poo.  Now stop it.  (I shake my head.  There is silence).

BOO:  “No. 2” is poop, Mommy? (asked in the angelic, high-pitched voice that betrays his true intentions).

ME:  (Exasperated).  Yes…Boo.

BOO:  Oh, I want two pieces of pizza cuz then it would be poo-pizza!

ALL BOYS:  (Uproarious laughter.  In the time it took me to walk from the sink to the table in order for me to become menacing again, I heard the words:  Poo, fart, burp and diarrhea).

ME:  You’re all done.  Get outta here!  Goodbye, leave the table.  Go to the naughty-spot. No more pizza, ever.

ALL BOYS:  (Moans and groans….general “sorry’s”).

ME:  (As they run away wrestling each other…)  Why are you LIKE THIS??  (shaking my head to myself and muttering)…GOD…why….Poo pizza…what the……WHY are you so GROSS all the time?  Come ON!!!! 

And they ARE.  Despite my Herculean best efforts, more often than not they say gross things, make gross noises imitating gross things, laugh at almost exclusively gross sounds and discussion, interject gross words into almost every sentence they utter, and in general…are just – the lovers of all words and sounds that have anything to do with gross bodily fluids or emissions.

It’s not like their father or I use these words, really, ever.  I’m not saying we have never used them, but almost never…and almost certainly never in the context in which they use them.

It’s like they were born with this defective micro-chip in their brains that dictates the words and noises that fly out of their mouths must have something to do with burps or butts.

Now I’m not saying that girls don’t have their fair-share of fun at the expense of flatulence and related things.  They do, we do.  But it’s usually not so BRAZEN.  Girls say and do those things, but they tend to laugh about it in more “hushed” tones, among themselves.  My boys will burp and shout over to our sweet, elderly woman neighbor, “Hey, did you hear THAT!?”  They’re proud of it.  It’s like a badge of honor for them.  It’s like a scarlet letter on my chest for me…”B”…for “Bad Mommy”.

I’ll be honest, I don’t get it.  When I was a kid if I made some noise out of one end or the other in front of anyone, I might have laughed uncomfortably, but only because what the hell else could I do…I couldn’t crawl under a rock of shame like I really wanted to.  It happens, we’re human beings – “machines” – and we inadvertently release…exhaust.  I get that.

But for fuck’s sake.  COME ON!!!!

Until I had my three boys I never knew how different boys and girls really were.

Look, overall I much prefer playing outside with my boys and pretending I’m Darth Vader chasing them around the swing-set than sitting around “playing house”. But today I was at Boogs’ baseball game talking to two other mothers.   Each of them had a sweet little girl.  The little girls were sitting quietly and talking about their pretty dresses and sandals, while my two younger boys were picking up their little lawn chairs and thrusting them at each other with “Hi-YAH!”-quasi-kung-fu voices.  Then Boo, my three-year old, said gleefully and loudly through a smile, “I burped Mommy!”.

I shook my head, rolled my eyes and shrugged my shoulders and said to one mother through gritted teeth, “Arggghhh…I just want to take them home and put cute little pink dresses on them for a few hours and have a tea party.  Would that be bad???”

One mother said in all seriousness with a loud whisper, “No.  Uh-uh, it wouldn’t be bad.  They won’t even remember it.  Just do it.”

I kind of stared off into the distance with a dreamy look on my face and said in an I’m-considering-it sort of way…”Huh…”

That or I could simply wait for them to outgrow the gross-boy stuff.

……………sigh…………..

That’s never going to happen, is it.  IS IT?!?

They’ll all be home at lunch time and it will all begin again after I innocently squirt detergent into the dishwasher or squeeze the ketchup bottle or slide a chair on the floor or I utter the words “one” or “two”….and one of them will say:  “Hey Mommy, did you hear that (insert your preferred emission here)”.

Cue uproarious laughter from the boys.  Cue high-blood pressure for me.

Perhaps I should have worn more pink as a kid.

Perhaps THEY should.  Yessssssss…(just for a couple of hours).

Shhh…they’ll never remember it.  Right?

Ohhhh…(whining)……COME ON???


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