Monday, May 18, 2015

Sex Ed

I’m supposed to be writing an article but the downside to writing professionally is that if you’re not feeling it, it’s incredibly hard to do. I’ve been sick all weekend and I’ve also been self-diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue of Everyone Else’s Shit syndrome so I’m tired and none of that is my fault.

But anyway.

Today Big Kid got in the car and said, “For the rest of the school year, we’re studying health instead of science. So I opened my new book and on the very first page, I saw a sentence talking about warts on penises, mom. That’s what I’m dealing with. Should be a great way to wrap up the year!”

“OH MY--” little kid exclaimed.

“Well, sex education is important. The warts thing is a sexually transmitted disease and that’s why it’s important to always wear a condom,” I said, never missing an opportunity to scare or embarrass my special snowflakes.

“Mom!--” Big Kid began as little kid asked, “What’s a comdon?”

“A condom is something the man wears during sex to prevent pregnancy or disease -- every single time, no matter what. I will make sure you’ll both have more than you’ll ever need as you get to that age. Instead of a candy bowl, we’ll have a condom bowl!”


“How does the boy wear it though?” little kid asked. “What is it?”

“Like a rubber sock for your penis, kind of. You’ll learn to put one on a banana or something as you get older.”

“Oh Jesus. Can we stop NOW? Mom? Can we resume this conversation, like, never? Ever?”

“What? I just want to make sure you guys can talk to me about anything. It’s important to keep the line of conversation open.”

“Well, excuse me for not wanting to talk about rubber socks for my penis with my mom.”

“See why sex ed in school is important?”

 Mission accomplished, one way or another.

Now do you think I can pitch this piece as the childhood literacy post I’m supposed to be writing?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

National Twerking Day

Imagine if Michael Scott from the Office was a Chippendale dancer.

That is little kid's preferred style of dancing. It's both hilarious and horrifying. However, some nights I just can't deal and tonight was one of those nights.

 "Could you stop? That's enough. Really. You're just too weird."

 "If I was the president, I'd make National Twerking Day a holiday," he replied.

 Big Kid quickly interjected. "Congress would have to approve it first to get a national holiday like that passed. And Congress can't agree on anything, which would be a good thing for once." 

Agreed. But just in case, keep your fingers crossed that little kid doesn't end up in the White House.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Shameless Brag: Mommy's Little Film Maker

Big Kid's final for art was a project called "Impress Me." The only guideline was that the students had to turn in something they believed would impress the art teacher.

(Some turned in Minecraft worlds, which I'm trying not to be judge-y about but I'm glad my kid didn't do that.)

He was really serious about his work, even implementing a temporary ban on his favorite website to keep himself on track. He spent many hours at the kitchen table painstakingly drawing, researching and designing the pieces of his project.

I know I'm biased but I'm impressed.

I also love the little soundtrack.

 He did the entire thing by himself with no help at all because no one in this house would know how to even begin to help with something like this.

 He loves page views and subscribers and would love your support!

 (And that's scary as shit for me to write because we all know YouTube is the 8th circle of hell, but I'm proud of his creativity and know the courage it takes to share it.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Super 4

Confession time:

1. I'm the only person in the house who hasn't outgrown Playmobil toys. When little kid put his in the "to donate" pile last summer, I begged him to reconsider. They are the only playset involving more than one piece that I don't hate. I just think they're so cute and have so much potential for creative play and imagination. Also, if I have to accidentally step on something, I'm picking Playmobil over Lego every time.

2. I use playdates as a cover for hanging out with my own friends.

So when Netflix offered to send us a Super 4 party pack if we would host a viewing party for the new Playmobil show, I said yes since it was a win/win for me.

When I asked little kid to watch it, he was initially reluctant and insisted that he was too old (because he's all grown up at 8). I told him he only had to watch one 11-minute episode and offer his honest opinion. He watched three, laughed the whole time, and did that annoying thing where he repeats every line he thinks is funny.

There was a lot of repeating.

He eventually admitted that he loved it and would continue to watch. The show features four children: one girl pirate, one boy genius spy, one ditzy fairy girl, and a knight. I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the show -- it was cute, funny for a wide age range, a great length, and I loved that there was a girl pirate character.

A friend of mine has her own Super 4 -- a 9-year-old, 4-year-old, and two 2-year-olds, which I'm pretty sure qualifies her for multiple awards and a free, all expenses paid vacation with a nanny. She's like one-stop shopping for a guest list, which is very convenient for me and all of my projects.

Early on in the evening, before we even broke out the wine (which is a must for medicinal purposes around that many kids) she yelled out, "Dude, where are your pants?!?" and I turned to find a small person wearing a polo shirt, underoos, and sandals. It was a situation that didn't faze any of the party attendees and we briefly debated if requiring pants at a public park was even worth the effort.

Here's our crew. All wearing pants:

We attempted to feed them the nice picnic meal we had brought, but between people setting their watermelon slices directly into duck poop instead of the plates we so thoughtfully provided and lying about who finished their chicken so they could have cookies, we mostly gave up. We were just feeling lucky people were clothed at that point.

We got the wine out then. We drank it quickly. 

While we tried to eat our dinner, they gathered around and begged to do the silly string duel. We promised that they would. The wheedled and pleaded and got territorial about colors and asked repeatedly until our resolve was broken. We gulped down our wine and set them up just to make the noise stop. 

We started off very organized; a sheet down to collect the mess, people carefully paired up, rules explained: 

Soon we just gave them all a can and let them go wild. We may have even contributed to the chaos by getting involved in the shooting. No one stayed on the sheet and we had to clean up every piece in order to protect the ducks that poop on the picnic tables. And by we, I mean the moms, of course. 

Afterwards, little kid offered one of the Playmobil shields to the boy twin. 

"You wants me to hab dis?" he asked. 

"Yes, it's for you." 

"To keeps?"


"Oh! Huggy?" he asked, arms outstretched. 

When I brought it up with little kid later, he smiled and said, "Yeah. That was cute. He gives really good hugs." 

"I saw that," Big Kid said. "I kind of wanted a hug too." 

We relocated to the beach, where we were going to let the kids run free while we toasted the sunset. We Duggar-ed them up, assigning a big kid to a little kid like the Duggar family does so we could chill like Michelle.

It was a great plan but people still needed stuff constantly -- I pointed out that we should hire a sitter for the next playdate party.

Big Kid marched up to our chairs within minutes. "It's hard to watch my little. I feel like I'm chasing her, chasing her, chasing her, then I turn around and she is right there in my face." 

"Yep, I hear you. That's my reality," my friend said.

"Maybe you should consider not having four kids next time. I mean, if you ever get reincarnated or something, maybe have less kids." He advised. 

"That thought has definitely crossed my mind. Twins are kind of like a buy one get one deal, you know? But which one could I live without?" 

They all appeared then, wet and sandy and shivering. We wrapped them in towels and I pulled the twins onto my lap as we watched the sun set before us and the moon rise behind us. 

"What was your favorite part about Super 4?" I asked the boy twin, enjoying how they were both small enough to nestle easily into my arms.

"Da girl piwate. Dey was mean to her and see had sad eyes but see was still happy. Dat was what I liked, see was still happy eben doh see was sad." 

It was so insightful and sweet. Kids are so amazing. They make all of the chaos so worth it. 

"Ms. Ashwee? Can we has a sweepober at your house? For lots a days?" 

"Definitely. Very soon," I lied. 

Watch Super 4. Be happy even when you're sad. Find good excuses to spend quality time with your friends and their kids. 

And just say no to sleepovers. 

(This post was written as a member of the Netflix Stream Team but the opinions and actions are my own. I doubt Netflix endorses drinking at playdates or no-pants parties but I might be wrong there.)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Man in the Mirror

"Mom, did you know that scary thing Bloody Mary is supposed to make your face all bloody and pull you through the bathroom mirror?" little kid asked.

I told him I did know because I was playing that game in third grade too and that it was just imaginary folklore kids use to scare each other.

"Seriously. How would that even work? Pulling someone through a mirror?" Big Kid asked.

"She would smash your head, I guess."

"No. If your reflection pulled you into the mirror, it would replace you outside of the mirror. Both of you couldn't be in there. So to your family and friends it would be like nothing ever happened."

"But what if your friends and family liked the reflection you more? What if we were all like, 'Man, that Big Kid has been extra cool and fun the last two days!" I asked.

"Nope, wouldn't happen. If the me looking in the mirror was a grump, the reflection would be a grump, too. Obviously."

"You're not a grump! You're already extra cool and fun. It's been a long time since you were a gloomy Gus." I assured him.

"Eh, I'm just better at hiding it now. You should hear the things I think!"

"Like what?"

"I spend about 90% of my day thinking, 'Can you just get out of my way?' or 'Would you move your legs -- some of us are trying to get to class!' or 'Oh, is that the one-minute bell? Don’t let me interrupt your leisurely stroll!' Trust me, I am a grump."

"No, I think other people are just annoying. Either that or we're both grumps."

Pretty sure it's everyone else.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

End of an Era

On the eve of Easter, I was finishing up some work online when my 11-year-old appeared in the doorway.

 "Mom, can you please come to my room?" he asked with some urgency.

 "Okay, let me wrap this up first."

 "Can we do it now?"

 Concerned and curious, I followed him into his bedroom, where he closed the door behind us. As he turned to face me, I could see angst in his watery eyes and that his face was flushed pink. I thought something was seriously wrong. My heart pounded as I waited for a grave confession. I already felt concerned about the consequences of whatever conversation was about to unfold.

 "I know they aren't real," he blurted out.

 I knew immediately what he was talking about but I was trying not to laugh and cry all at the same time so I asked "Who?" anyway.

"The Easter bunny, Santa, the Tooth Fairy, you know." He frowned. "I've known since 4th grade." He's now in 6th grade.

 Although my eyes were full of unshed tears over his disappointment, I felt tremendous relief. I mean, I figured he must know -- he's incredibly logical and intelligent and has the internet at his disposal. He's always played along so well but I figured he was working a long con; not quite ready to sacrifice the loot. There was a tiny part of me that was concerned, though, because I wasn't as confident in his acting skills as I am his reasoning abilities. I had been agonizing over whether to continue on with my practice of light-hearted evasion, fearing that he might be the kid arguing with other middle schoolers about the existence of the Easter bunny.

 "Oh, hon," I said, pulling him in for a hug and choking back a laugh at the seriousness of the scene. "Just so you know, I'm not laughing at you. I'm trying not to cry just as hard as I'm trying not to laugh. I have all of these confused feelings right now because I remember when I realized and how sad I felt that magic might not exist in the world."

 He nodded, solemnly.

"But there is magic in the world, right? The tradition of Saint Nicholas has continued for all of these generations in the spirit of kindness and unselfish giving. Creativity and imagination work together to make their own magic for kids all over the world through these stories. And it's so sad when it's over but then the magic comes back to life when you get to help make it for others. You know? I hope you don't feel like I've lied to you or betrayed you. Some parents don't do those traditions at all for that reason and I'm sorry if you wish I hadn't."

"No, no," he said. "I'm glad I had those experiences. I feel like that's a big part of childhood. That's also what made it so hard to say -- knowing it is one thing but admitting it is another. I mean, I knew it."

"Yeah, the bunny kind of blows it, doesn't he? That's what did it all in for me. That and the Tooth Fairy, they're both pretty weird."

"It's an 8-foot-tall anthropomorphic rabbit," he said emphatically. "Also, Santa would have to go to 871 houses per second to get all the gifts delivered. It all goes against the basic laws of nature and physics."

 "Right, I hear you. I'm also glad you brought it up; honestly, I was starting to worry a little bit and was wondering if I should sit you down and tell you or if you were just pretending and wanted to continue. Hey, do me a favor and don't be the jerk that ruins it for other kids, though."

"I heard some 5th graders talking about it last year and I was glad to have my suspicions confirmed, but I also saw a YouTube video that said, 'If you didn't know Santa wasn't real, you do now!' and I thought that was a jerk move," he said.

"What a jerk! I agree. I'm sorry you saw that."

"I am too, it was sad. I almost said this at Christmas when we were alone and you asked if there was anything I wanted to talk about but...I couldn't do it. I don't know, I guess I wasn't ready yet. Then I regretted not getting it off of my chest when I had the chance."

"But that's okay! There's no rush to be ready. Enjoy every last bit of childhood. We can either pretend we never had this conversation or you can help make the magic for your brother."

"I'm going to do both. I want to keep the magic alive for him for as long as I can."

"See? That's the magic. You go from the fantasy of Santa Claus to the reality of getting to become him. You get to be the magic!"

I didn't tell him that I'm 95% sure his little brother already knows.

 Maybe I'm not ready for it to be over yet either. (Except for the tooth fairy. She's an asshole.)