June 20th, 2013

Staff Meeting

One of the best things about spending my summers at an overnight camp is the staff. Of course the campers are fun (that’s a given) and we live on the lake (Jackpot!!) but the staff—well, there’s nothing like being around a bunch of people in their 20’s. At home we don‘t see much of that age group. They‘re mostly working or at college. But when camp time rolls around, our lives are inundated with Generation Y and I love it. (Except that the more time I spend looking at them, the more I realize how old I’m starting to look and I do not love that).

I have been coming to Camp for 12 summers now and I’m 42 years old. When I first started dating my husband, I was only about 10 years older than most of the staff so I could hang. I didn’t party with them, I’m not a total loser, but the gap wasn’t so wide that they didn’t invite me. Now I’m old enough to be their mom.

WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? I am old enough to be their mom but I could never be their mom. I’m not there yet. I’m still telling my kids to wash their hands after they pee. How in the hell could I be a mom to a freakin’ 21 year old? I still think I’m 21! If it’s true that you “grow with your kids” (and I don’t know if that’s true or not, I just made it up right now) but if it is true, that is very good news for me because my kids are 4 and 6. Hence, my immaturity still applies.

I am currently in a good place in my life so I don’t mind that I‘m getting older (outside of the fact that my back hurts all the time and my forehead has more lines than a legal pad) but for the most part, I don’t mind. What’s more, I still remember my past lives—especially my 20’s.

Sure, the styles have changed, the music is different, and the world is more technologically advanced—but on balance, things really haven’t changed all that much: Kids still get tattoos in places that are going to look scary when they’re 70, “Beer Goggles“ still have the same prescription, and the girls all have “a very serious boyfriend” until someone hotter comes along.

Please.

Nothing’s changed.

The counselors here are fun because they are also (from what I can see) loving their 20’s.That makes me happy. I want everyone to love their 20’s. It’s such a fun time. You’re in this sort of unsteady place of “elongated childhood.” You’re not quite an adult (but you think you are) yet you’re no longer a child. You don’t have to completely commit to anything because time is on your side, but if you do commit, and you bail, you’re a loser and hopefully you overcome that kind of behavior because this is the time when you start to build character.

Your 20’s are a time of “Adult-Prep.“ What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of person do you want to be with? I, personally, don‘t think your 20‘s is the time to pick the person you‘re going to be with forever (at least not if you’re in your early 20‘s). I think your 20‘s is a time for figuring out what kind of person you want to be with. How can you commit to someone in your 20’s if you’re not completely sure of who you are yet? If you’re convinced that the person you’re with is so perfect, he or she will still be there when you’re done doing what you need to do—and there is a lot that you need to do, because you’re in your 20’s. Oh, you’re 22 and you already know exactly who you are? You’re right, I’m sorry. You do. (No, you don’t).

I remember my 20’s as a time when I didn’t need a lot to make me happy. I needed my friends, “Stupid Movie Night,” and a Bill Knapps cake for my birthday. My needs were very simple. I didn’t need a lot of money and I didn’t need a lot of sleep.

Now I need both.

Thankfully, I am reminded of my 20’s every day during the summer because I’m surrounded by a ton of kids who are that age. Our camp staff rounds out to mostly kids in their 20’s. Some of them we have history with so when my girls and I see them after a long off-season, a huge hug and a game of “Break the Pickle” makes it seem like just yesterday. Some of them are new and we love when they introduce themselves, but we understand when they don’t. We’ll get to them sooner or later and we will undoubtedly adore them (unless they suck and then we won’t). But what a life for us to be surrounded by this group of 20 somethings, these people of tomorrow who chronologically make up the perfect age split between me and my kids.

How lucky are we?

When I’m at Camp, I never have to schlep my luggage or carry my bags because if “V Rockin’ Cool” sees me, he will always offer to do it. When I’m here, my kids are always included on boat rides because the Waterfront staff knows how much they love being by the water. And when I’m here, I love how safe I feel letting my kids and Floyd Coden roam camp knowing there is always someone around who has an eye on them.

Little Lovey (my 4-year-old) currently has two “boyfriends” at camp and they are both in their 20’s. A 20 year age difference might normally be frowned upon in this country, especially if one of the kids is 4-years-old, but Camp has its own set of rules. One summer, in fact, when my other daughter, Sweet Pea, was four, she almost made it down the aisle to marry her longtime love, ScottyG. He was around 26 years old and he was a Unit Director (Sweet Pea is so power hungry). Unfortunately for the groom, Sweet Pea bailed at the last minute and ran to her daddy—but that wedding, at the flag pole, with a wedding party and the whole camp in attendance, was an event to be remembered.

During our time here, I get two nannies. (Stop it. I know that sounds fancy but it’s really not. I just get nannies. I would never have them at home but I need them here.) Anyway, I have been unbelievably fortunate in the nanny department because almost every single one of the girls we have had have done nothing but enrich the lives of my girls and my family. They are our family. I can’t even begin to explain my love for these girls except to say it will make you barf. Thankfully, this season, we are completely in love again. I’m just not sure if Cody hired them for our girls or for me.

Actress Nanny: (standing in our cabin, wearing really cute boots, kicks up a leg and shows me the boots): Aren’t these boots cute?

Me: Yes, SO cute. Where did you get them? (A little skeptical because she is in her 20’s and, as it should be when you’re in your 20’s–her ass is broke).

Actress Nanny: I got them at one of those dollar stores in Kalkaska (the town outside of where camp is).

Me: No, you didn’t. I want them.

Bama Nanny: (My other nanny. She’s from Alabama.): So cute right! They were only 20.00!!

Me: 20.00?? Take me. NOW.

And they did. We begged and pleaded for Sweet Pea and Lovey to come with us, but they had no desire to leave camp, so we left them there. The store didn’t have my size but an 8 is close to a 7 when it comes to 20.00 boots and you better believe I bought them and I’m going to ROCK them (but probably only once because they should fall apart shortly thereafter).

The Kitchen Staff is also very important. The K-Staff needs to be fun, not just for camp, but for me. I spend a lot of time in the Mess Hall and in and around the kitchen. I love food, especially the food at camp. In fact, I like food so much that over the past few summers I have been recruiting “Finishers.“ (A “Finisher” helps me from gaining the Tanuga 20 by letting me take a few bites of something I really, really want and then, he eats the rest. I love my “Finisher” and I hope he enjoyed his Choco Taco). Anyway, The K Staff needs to know me and they need to love me. Actually, they don’t even need to love me, they just need to act like they do and I’m good with that.

There is always action at the trapeze so it never fails to be a good place to hang out. (We have a trapeze at Camp, crazy right?) One of the trapeze guys is named Spencer. This is Spencer’s 3rd summer at camp. When I tell you that Spencer is ripped, he is RIPPED. So, of course I am all over him about it. He’s a bit older than the rest of the staff so it’s not quite as gross and perverted as it would be if he were 22, but still, where else but camp can you sexually harass an employee EVERY SINGLE TIME you see him, and not only does he not care, but he doesn’t even notice? My own kids are so immune to my bugging Spencer that they honestly believe his given name is “Spencer-Take-Your-Shirt-Off!”

And then comes our Camp Driver. I mean, where do I start? For as long as I can remember, the Camp Driver (aka “Thinggetter”) has been a part of our family, even before we were a family. One of our past Camp Drivers (also a “Finisher” by the way) is getting married (at camp—to one of our former nannies!!) in August and my girls are his flower girls. Another one of our old Drivers was just at our house playing “school” with my daughters, and another one of our Drivers still thinks he can beat me at rummicube after all these years, but he’s wrong. Our current Driver is so special that I wish he was my son and I’m ready to fight his mom anytime, anywhere.

************************************************************

Anyone who owns a business knows that your business is only going to be as good as your staff… and I want our current staff and past staffs to know how much I appreciate all the hard and “heart” work they do for us. I love you all.

Unless you suck.

And then I don’t.

April 17th, 2013

Do The Right Thing

The other day, one of my friends told me to listen to Dennis Prager on Talk Radio AM 1400.

Do you know who Dennis Prager is?

I didn’t. My friend mentioned him once and told me that he talks about relationships, and that he’s really smart, so OK, I gave it a shot.

I only had time to listen for about 10 minutes, but he was good. He gave positive, sound advice and he came off very “wise.“ He is the guy who basically tells you to do the right thing. Most of the time, you already know what that is, but he tells you anyway and for some reason, when he tells you, it makes you want to do it. When I was done listening, I asked my friend if Dennis Prager is Jewish. He “sounded” Jewish. (You probably won’t know what that means unless you’re Jewish). My friend told me that he used to be a Rabbi.

Uh huh.

I knew it.

I turned Dennis Prager on again today when I was on my way to pick little Lovey up from pre-school and though he wasn’t talking about relationship stuff, he brought something up that I found kind of interesting:

He brought up a hypothetical situation (at least I think it was hypothetical, I didn’t catch the beginning of the show) of two Republican Senators talking in private while, unbeknownst to them, they were being recorded–and then the recording was leaked to a Republican newspaper.

HOLY SHIZZLE.

How cool would it be to hear or read that conversation? It’s like a behind the scenes look at real politics before the polished version hits the public. It’s flat-out RAW. Oh, the drama!!!

Of course I would have wanted to hear it.

But then Dennis Prager (the wise one) brought up a valid point:

Do we really have the right to hear what happens behind the scenes? Do we really want to?

And that got me thinking…

Do we truly want to know everything that goes into a political decision or is it better to be on a need-to-know basis?

Think about it: We already have a lot going on in our lives. Should we be burdened with political scrambles when it’s not our job?

In addition, how would you feel if you were having what you THOUGHT was a private conversation only to find out that it wasn’t so private? How violating is that? Think about how you act in private. Take a minute and really think about it.

I’m sure you’re good most of the time, but sometimes, just sometimes, I bet you’re not.

And what if that got out?

OY.

But this is politics!

Maybe if our leaders were being watched, or at least knew they ran that risk, maybe they would think twice about some of the decisions that they make.

If you were being watched, wouldn’t you think twice about what you say and the decisions you make?

Take reality television shows. The people on those shows know they’re being watched. Even at their worst, I would think that they must have some semblance of cognizance.

But is that good for politics?

Politics is not a reality show. I’m not sure if we should be privy to all the steps involved before a decision is reached.

Isn’t knowing everything maybe just a little too much?

Or no?

When it comes to politics, the decisions being made do, after all, affect us. That’s something to think about.

This is all a lot to think about. I know. I have been thinking about it for days… My head hurts. And now, so does yours.

Sorry.

It’s interesting to me that this all came up on Dennis Prager’s show because I feel that if I brought this subject up to him, he would probably say that it doesn’t matter if we’re being watched.

As long we do the right thing.

March 21st, 2013

Prep Work

Since my daughter started kindergarten I haven’t exactly gone out of my way to meet the parents of the other kids—not because I’m shy, but because I suck. There are a few moms, however, that I have become friendly with. I met one early in the school year. She came up to me and complimented my purse. She is my favorite.

Not too long ago, she told me something that really upset me. She told me that an older kid was making fun of her daughter (also in kindergarten) because when she bent over, her underwear showed.

REALLY??

I mean, I guess it doesn’t take much when you’re in elementary school but, come on. She’s a little kindergartener! What kind of kid makes fun of a kindergartener? How lame can you get??

Of course, when the mom told me, my first instinct was to go to the school and beat the crap out of the mean kid. But then I remembered that I probably shouldn’t do that because I’m almost 42 years old and also, “Underwear Girl” isn’t mine.

I felt so bad for the mom and “Underwear Girl.” I know in the grand scheme of things, getting made fun of for a little wardrobe malfunction isn’t the end of the world, but for “Underwear Girl” —at that time—it probably felt like it was. What do you do? What do you tell her? How do you move past the incident and learn how to deal with mean kids all at the same time? It was all too much and I walked away from the conversation only too happy that I didn’t have to deal with that crap just yet.

But then I did.

A week or so later MY kindergartener, Sweet Pea, told me that some second grader told her that she has “elf ears.”

Um, I’m sorry. WHAT???

Some kid told Sweet Pea that she has elf ears.

I will kill that kid. I will pull HIS ears off and I will shove them in his back pockets so he can hear better when I’m KICKING HIS ASS.

The thing is…he’s not wrong. She does kind of have elf ears. It’s from when she lived in the orphanage and she was in a crib all day. I think the babies were only taken out of their cribs for an hour a day…(Actually, I can‘t remember if that is how it was in her orphanage or if that is how it is in prison…I think it’s both). Anyway, the way she slept…in the crib—it messed up her ears. No biggie. We’re Jews. We take care of that stuff and besides, financially it’s a wash since she won’t need a nose job. But whatever, that stupid second grader does not get to make fun of Sweet Pea. NO WAY.

But what can I do? I can’t go down to the school and ”Tom Petty” him like the mom in “This is 40.”  (Or can I? I don’t think I can). All I can do is explore and decompress the situation with her so she is a little more prepared next time.

In fact, as parents, that’s pretty much all we can do about any situation. We can expose, explore and prepare to the best of our abilities.

The trick, though, is to prepare them not for the world WE lived in, or the world we WISHED we lived in, but for the world we ACTUALLY live in.

We need to get realistic about our world.

Our current world.

When I was growing up, my parents worried about us drinking and driving (well, my dad probably didn’t worry—he was too busy drinking and driving) but my mom worried. She was a worrier. She was the up-all-night worrier.

Well, guess what, mommy? Drinking and driving? That was so 1987. You know what we got? We have drinking, driving and TEXTING.

When my girls and I were at the police station recently (I had to bring some of the officers cookies because I thought someone stole my wedding rings and they spent a lot of time with me and they spent a lot of time on my case and they had a really good lead… and then I found them) we were walking out and there was a poster of a bad car crash with a dummy all busted up. The girls were all over me about the poster: “Mommy, what happened to THAT guy???”…”Do you know him?”… ”Is he dead?…Dead like Puppa Louie???”…and I told them that is what happens when people text and drive at the same time.

So what that they can’t text or drive right now. I don’t care. That poster was so gruesome, it’s going to take the jaws of life to remove it from their memories. In fact, anytime a car accident comes up in conversation Sweet Pea says…”Oh, like the guy at The Cop Shop? The guy in the poster???”

Start young and go strong.

That’s my motto. No topic off limits. Get it ALL out there.

I’m certainly no expert (I laugh even as I write that) but I feel like there’s no such thing as too much prep work. So when Sweet Pea came home telling us about the “Elf Ears” incident, we asked her how she responded so we could better prepare her for next time. (Because even if it’s not “Elf Ears,” it will be something and there will be a next time).

Sweet Pea: I didn’t do anything.

Me: Honey, if you don’t do anything, the mean kids will know you’re a target.

Lovey: You should have told him that you were taking a time-out from him!

Daddy: I’ll kill him.

Me: You should have just said “You know what? You’re a LOSER and by the way, you’re a LOSER.”

Daddy: I’ll kill him.

Sweet Pea: What if I just tell him that he is a bully?

And that silenced all of us because, well, that’s a good one.

So, we role-played Sweet Pea calling the loser kid a “bully.” We role played all through dinner. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse. And then we had her tell us all what to do because I figure the best way to learn is to teach.

And then we sent her back out in the world, because we have to.

March 7th, 2013

Acceptance

What’s so ironic about this blog is that I’m writing it so my girls have something of “me” when they get older, but, at the same time, I never have any time to write in it because I’m so busy with them.

Right now, they are at swim lessons with Cody (my husband), so it looks like I have a few hours of free time on my hands. Yay for me! There is a part of me that wishes I was at swim lessons too, I hate missing out on stuff, but pools kind of gross me out—especially indoor pools. They smell funky and they’re full of chemicals and seriously…why don’t you just pee ON me? I know everyone in the pool is peeing in it. They do. You probably do.

So, because of that, Cody goes to swim lessons.

Anyway, I was at lunch the other day with my girlfriend, Caren, and we somehow started discussing a topic that I want to make sure I touch on for my girls. We were discussing how hard it is to just accept people for who they are even though we know it’s the right thing to do and, in the end, it’s so much easier.

Why do we continually expect others to live up to who and what we want them to be? Who are we to expect anything of anyone?

Yes, I expect a lot out of my husband, but he‘s my husband. We’re married. How are we supposed to stay married (happily) if we don’t deal with our stuff? We have stuff. All couples have stuff. The trick is to stay on top of the stuff so it doesn’t pile up. When I notice new stuff—bad stuff—I bring it up and out. I don’t let that stuff go. I want us to stay married and if I can‘t bring our stuff to the surface so we can address it, that is just not going to be good for us. I’m sure it’s exhausting for Cody that I always have to address our stuff, but too bad, Cody. Too bad, so sad!

And my kids. Yes, I’m hard on my kids. That‘s not news…I’ve said it before. I’m probably the one people talk about because I’m so hard on my kids. I don’t give a crap. They’re good kids. Yes, of course they suck sometimes but, on balance, they are really good kids.

But other than my husband and my kids, who am I to expect anything from anyone?

People are who they are and they do what they can do.

For the most part, I’m good with that. I don’t care. I really don’t. I’m busy. I‘ve got things to do. If you let me down, I move on. But sometimes, just sometimes, I get disappointed in someone.

Thankfully it doesn’t happen a lot because let me tell you, that is a hard way to live.

Walking around all dark and disappointed…

Who needs that?

Not me.

My dad used to say “It is better to be happy than to be sad.” It always annoyed me when he said that because HELLO? Is there anything more obvious?

…But I am now at a place where I think I know what he is talking about.

It is better to be happy than to be sad.

Friends, family, co-workers…someone is going to let you down. It’s going to happen. But so what? We don’t need to get all twisted up about it. Plus, most of the time— it’s nothing personal. I bet that most of the time the person who isn’t living up to our expectations doesn’t even know it. They’re just living to their capacity level and we’re the idiots for expecting more from them. We should know better!

The people in our lives, they aren’t malicious by nature (or we wouldn’t have them in our lives). Some just aren‘t built to live up to all of our expectations. And that’s OK…or at least it should be.

So, why is it that sometimes it’s so hard to move on from disappointment?

It just is.

But we should, because harboring a grudge or disappointment is just so toxic and there’s really no percentage in it.

If we learn to accept people for who they are, we won’t be disappointed. If we love them for the good stuff they bring to the table—and we know their limits—we can‘t get hurt.

And that’s pretty much it.

And also, they’re home from swimming.

November 11th, 2012

The Parental Approach

This past Saturday we went out with a bunch of friends for Mexican food. I ordered a combo platter that included an enchilada, a burrito, a tamale AND a few tacos. (That has absolutely nothing to do with this post but our waitress was impressed so I thought you might be too.) My girlfriend ”Tess” and I were comparing notes on our day and gauging our respective exhaustion levels.

I don’t really remember her day because I was way more interested in my combo platter, but I do remember mine, and it was exhausting:

It was a Saturday and it was just me and my little girls (3 and 5 years old). What to do? What to do? We usually go out for lunch on Saturdays, but I had so much food in the house, I decided to eat at home.

Mistake.

My girls were cuckoo. I mean totally bananas. I have no idea why they were so amped up, but they were. I don’t think they would have been so crazy at a restaurant. It was like they made a list of “All The Things That Annoy Mommy” and then during lunch, they went through them one-by-one:

Let’s play with our food. Yeah! Good idea!

Let’s wait until mommy sits down with her lunch and then tell her that we need ranch dressing and peanut butter and cantaloupe and a bunch of other stuff—and then we won’t eat any of it! Yeah! Brilliant!!

Let’s yell from the bathroom, “I’m pooping! It’s a bad one! Come wipe me!” so mommy has to get up AGAIN…and then when she comes in say: ”Hi, mommy! No poopie. Just pee pee! Pee pee, pee pee, PEE PEE!!!!!!!!”

After Sweet Pea (the 5 year old) got up from the table for the third time instead of sitting down and eating her lunch, I had had it. I was tired. They were so crazy from the moment we sat down that I needed a “stopper.” A FOR-REAL ”stopper.”

And that is when it hit me:

As parents, we have two ways that we can go about dealing with behavior that doesn’t please us. We can roll our eyes and passively say something to our kids as they run by like “Stop It!” —or we can stop them.

If we do the passive “Stop It!” thing, chances are our kids will tune us out and just keep doing what they’re doing (I would), so we won’t get results. Well…we will get results, but they probably won’t be good ones.

If, on the other hand, we stay ON our kids—in their faces and up their asses—we will likely end up with better results, but we will be exhausted.

It is a lot of work to be a good parent. I’m not saying that I’m so great, but I really do try. I am all over my kids. I mean I am ON THEM and I am hard on them, almost all the time—about almost everything.

Just today, I took the girls for manicures (they only get “polish changes” but don’t tell them that) and the guy sitting next to me totally called me out:

Lovey (3 years old) was yucky and whiney and Sweet Pea (5 years old) was antagonizing her by being alive. I know they were excited about getting their nails done, I know it’s hard to be patient—but we were not at home and I needed them to not act the way they were acting, so I laid down the law.

I explained in no uncertain terms that we would be leaving if they didn’t get it together. I also reminded them that if I said it, I meant it…and then I tossed in some other hard ass mommy stuff and that was that.

The guy next to me was all: “I have kids their age and…wow, you don’t let them get away with anything.”

To which I replied: “I know. I’m hard on them. My friends tell me that all the time. But I never listen to my friends and my kids are really good, so you can judge me all you want, I don’t care…” and By the way, you’re  getting a manicure—and you have a PENIS— so how about you lock it up there, Shiny Buff?

I got lucky at the manicure place because after our “little talk,” my girls were back on their game. Of course I don’t always get those results, but the more I get to know them, the better I get at choosing my approach.

I have learned over the years that there are several different Parental Approaches that can be used to discipline a kid. The trick is to pick the most effective one for any given situation.

For example:

I can’t stand when Lovey (3 years old) starts her sentences with ”I want…”

“I want chocolate in my milk…”…”I want to wear a dress…”…”I want an oompa loompa!”

UGH…No one cares what you want, Lovey. Come back when you can vote.

Admittedly, Lovey starting her sentences with “I want” is not a huge problem as far as juvenile problems go—but it does bug me, and I am the mommy, and a doctor did have to rip up my stomach to pull her out, so if I want to do something about Lovey starting a sentence with “I want,” I believe I can.

Unfortunately, the “Hard Ass/All Business Approach” only works with Lovey if Sweet Pea is included. If I just use it on Lovey, she will fold up and break down. She’s very sensitive. In order to avoid crying, I have to dig deep into my bag of tricks for her.

Sometimes I  go with the Negative Reinforcement Parental Approach.

Lovey, you are delicious, but it makes me insane when you start a sentence with “I want…”  In fact, it bugs me so much that the next time you do it…and I hate to do this…but the next time you do it, you won’t get dessert tonight…and believe me, sister, we’re having good dessert.

Lovey does not like that punishment.

No dessert??? That’s enough to make anyone think twice before exhibiting annoying behavior because without dessert, what’s the point of dinner?

Threats, as a Parental Approach, can also be very effective—but they are tricky. Proceed with caution when it comes to threats because it’s easy to get screwed.

Here are some of the finer points of a good threat:

1.  Threaten with something that hurts them, but also benefits you. The biggest punishment in our house is “Losing the privilege to pick out your own clothes.” It kills my girls when they don’t get to pick out their own clothers and it kills me that there is a bunch of stuff in their closet that never gets worn. When I am looking for a good threat, pulling their privileges to pick out their own clothes is my go-to. They hate when I choose their outfits and I LOVE IT. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

2. When you’re about to throw down a threat, it’s instinct to take away something that they love—just make sure that you don’t love it too. One year, on Halloween, when Sweet Pea was three years old, she told us that she couldn’t get to the bathroom in enough time to pee, but she could. Trust me. The bathroom was really close. Cody said to her,”I swear, if you pee on this floor, you’re not going trick-or-treating.”

And then everything went into slow motion.

NOOOOOOOOOOO…Cody…you…didn’t…just…threaten…to…pull…Halloween…!

But he did, and she peed.

It was Halloween, the best day EVER, but we couldn’t go back. We had to follow through. The threat had been made and now it was just hanging there, taunting us.

It sucked. But it was a learning experience, for all of us. We learned a lot about parenting and Sweet Pea learned a lot about us. When we say something, we mean it. Even if that means no fun size Baby Ruths for them…or me.

3. While threatening, don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Pull something that they like, but not something that you need. Like TV. Everyone takes away TV. It’s a no-brainer. Who doesn’t love TV?  TV rules. (I wish I was watching TV right now.) But I’d have to be an idiot to take it away from my kids because sometimes I need it for them. I don’t need it a lot—I don’t even need it every day—but I do need it sometimes so I can get something done or just get a little peace and quiet so, over time, I have taught myself not to land on TV as a threat or punishment.

Which leads me to my last, and favorite, pointer about launching a good threat:

4. Make stuff up. I do this a lot. It works with everything from ice cream to events. Here’s an example:

During the summer, my family lives in Northern Michigan at an overnight camp for kids.  At night, after dinner, there is always an Evening Program. My girls love Evening Program. And what’s not to love? It’s a bunch of campers and counselors on stage dancing or singing or doing something entertaining. My kids are young so they don’t get to go to Evening Program every night (they need to go to sleep) but on some nights–special nights–they get to go. Since they don’t always know when we are going to let them go, Evening Program was the perfect “Fake Threat.” OK, you know what? I have had it. I have asked you guys THREE times to do what I say but you’re not, so guess what? No Evening Program for you. Is there anything else you want me to pull? You know I’ll do it.

And they would go nuts.

Of course, after I pulled Evening Program, they would be perfect little angels, begging and pleading to go, but I would stay strong with ease because Hello? They were never going in the first place.

Good one, right?

I know.

Parent Voice, as I’m sure you know, is a tried and true Parental Approach. It can be very effective, but there is a time and a place for it. You can only use Parent Voice when you’re sure you will be heard because it’s a very low, very even, very deliberate vocal tone coupled with warning verbage that usually goes something like this:

If…you…continue…to…do…whatever…you…are…doing…that…is…bugging…the…crap…out…of…me…I…promise…there…will…be…consequences…and…I…promise…they…won’t…be…good…for…you.

Parent Voice is a very popular technique for a very good reason: It usually works.

But sometimes it doesn’t, and then I have to yell.

Yelling, to me, is a big deal. I try not to yell a lot. I don’t like yelling, especially in my house. If you want someone, GO GET THEM. Don’t yell across the house. Yelling makes me anxious and it’s loud so then I can’t hear Eminem.

I really only pull out The Yelling when A) My girls have pushed me to a point where I’m about to lose my freakin’ mind and B) I think I have a shot of it working.

I feel like kids who get yelled at a lot eventually become immune to it, and then it loses all of its power. BUT if you don’t yell a lot, and every once in a while you bust some out, it will scare the crap out of your kids and they will know you’re not messing around.

Finally, sometimes I fall on the Flat-Out Defeated approach:

This is where I go when my only other alternative is a valium. I don’t like to over-utilize the Flat-Out Defeated approach because I don’t want my kids to perceive me as weak or vulnerable. Sometimes though, I am. But because I don’t use the approach a lot, it has never failed me.

If you want to try it, this is what you do:

Put your hand to your forehead, sigh audibly and shut your eyes. Shake your head from side to side (very slowly) like you are going to start crying (and maybe you do a little bit—because honestly, you just can’t take anymore)—and then you say to your kids: “You guys,  I can’t…I just can’t take it anymore. I am begging you to be good. You are killing me and I think my head is going to spin off of my body. So, please…FOR THE LOVE OF THE LORD, will you please just…STOP?”

And then my kids will be all: “Look at mommy, she’s a wreck. We broke mommy!! We beat mommy!! But wait. Did we? DID we beat mommy or is she reverse psychology-ing us by acting all worn out and defeated?… Curses! I think she IS faking it— so really, SHE won. Damn that mommy! SHE’S SO SMART!!!”

And then I walk away smiling because, at least for that moment, they are right.

 

Parental Approach 2

October 16th, 2012

The Kindergarten Learning Curve

This past September, both of my girls started at new schools. “Sweet Pea” started kindergarten and ”Lovey” started pre-school. These are big steps in their little lives. Who would have thought that out of the three of us, I would be the one having the hardest time?

I’m actually OK with Lovey going to pre-school. You would think that I would have trouble with her being gone every day because she is my baby and she is delicious—but oddly enough, I’m fine. It could be because it’s the same school that Sweet Pea went to and I’m totally dialed-in to their program or it could be because it’s a Jewish pre-school and with all the Jewish holidays in September and October, I don’t think my kid has been there for a full week since school started. [Side Note]: I can’t believe how many Jewish holidays there are. I have never even heard of some of them. I seriously think some of them are made up. How can there be so many holidays, and yet we only get presents for one of them?...Either way, I’m truly OK with Lovey’s pre-school…

It’s kindergarten that is kicking my ass.

Sweet Pea takes the bus for the first time in her life and she is at a new school with new teachers, new times and new rules…LOTS of rules.

What do you mean I can’t come by every Monday and pull her out of class a little early so she can get to her hip hop class?

She’s in kindergarten now, you can’t do that.

Exactly. It’s kindergarten! And she’s Asian! Look…we all know that she’s probably the smartest one in the class—not because of anything we have done that’s so great, but because she was BORN ASIAN. The other kids can’t compete with that. It’s not their fault. It’s just the way it is. Plus, it’s KIN-DER-GAR-TEN. What are they really doing in there? Is it THAT big of a deal if I pick her up early on Mondays?

Apparently, it is.

On top of that, here are some of the other things that are new to our lives since Sweet Pea started kindergarten:

1. Bus Pick Up: The bus comes every morning at exactly 8:32. ”Mr. Al” is the bus driver. We have never been late for the bus. I am awesome at being on time for the bus. We leave every morning at 8:27 and we walk with Floyd Coden to the bus stop. It only took Sweet Pea 3 days to find a boyfriend with whom she sits every day, and it only took me 12 school days before I stopped tearing up as I watched her little wave grow smaller and smaller as the bus drove away.

2. Bus Drop Off: The bus drops Sweet Pea off every day at 4.30. I have been pretty good about pick-up. I was a minute late the other day and “Mr. Al” had a dirty look all saved up for me. I often wonder what would happen if one day the bus came and no one was there to pick up Sweet Pea. I guess she’d be screwed.

3. Send an empty/reusable water bottle every day. I’m assuming it should also be clean so that makes this one kind of a pain, but I still do it.

4. Send a nutritious snack every day. Also kind of a pain because by the time I’m done packing lunch, I’m sort of out of ideas for snacks.

5. Mondays are Sweet Pea’s day for “Show and Tell.” I have only forgotten “Show and Tell” once. It was the time of the “Quacking Duck.” I sent it back the next day thinking the teacher would squeeze in Sweet Pea to show it, but she didn’t. She sent it home telling Sweet Pea that Monday was her day. I got schooled on that one.  But that is the only time I forgot. I’ll take the hit. The second time though—Not my fault.

Here’s what happened:

Sweet Pea was supposed to bring two items to school. The first item was a ”Show and Tell” item. Sweet Pea had a very cute collage all made up showing a bunch of toys she wanted from Toys “R” Us that I was never going to buy her. Perfect item to “Show” everything you want and “Tell” how you’re never going to get it.

The second item was supposed to be a universally known logo for an environmental piece they were doing in class. Easy breezy. Sweet Pea took a Henri Bendel shopping bag to use for her logo of choice.

I emailed Ms. S that day to check on how “Show and Tell” went.  Ms. S told me that Sweet Pea didn’t do “Show and Tell.” She then went on to tell me that she didn’t have a “Show and Tell” item and, what’s more, she didn’t have her environmental logo.

Uh, I’m sorry. YES, SHE DID.

Ms. S and I emailed back and forth several times about both the missing “Show and Tell” item and the universally known logo item. Sweet Pea had one story for me and Ms. S had a conflicting story. During this Kindergarten Conundrum of 2012, I came to the following conclusions:

A) It’s never a good idea to tell your kid’s teacher that you’re not high maintenance because something will inevitably happen that will make you high maintenance.

B) The logo for Henri Bendel is not universally known. But it should be.

C) I probably shouldn’t have gone back and forth with Ms. S as much as did. I couldn’t help it though. I was concerned about Sweet Pea lying to me, I was curious about the location of her “Toys R Us” project and—at the same time—I didn’t like Ms. S thinking that I sent my kid to school unprepared. I didn’t want her to think that I was a slacker mom (at least not this early in the school year).

My friend “Ashby” told me that if the teacher really thought Sweet Pea not doing “Show and Tell” was truly a problem, she would have gotten in touch with me. Oh, Ashby! So reasonable. I have backed off Ms. S as much as possible since this incident and I’m trying my best not to get in the way of her doing her job.

I wonder if she misses me?

6. Library Day. Every week the students get to go to the school media center for Library Day. They get to pick out one book and then we’re supposed to send it back on the next Library Day. I am proud to say that I have never ever screwed this one up. I have, however, had some issues with Number 7.

7. Find the library book somewhere in your house before Library Day.

8. “Bagel Day.” Fridays are bagel day and if you want, you can send your kid to school with .75 so he or she can buy a bagel. This is pretty self explanatory, but of course, I have questions: If I send Sweet Pea with money to get a bagel, does that count as her nutritious snack? Is it a GOOD bagel like Detroit or New York Bagel or is it some crappy imposter bagel like Einstein or Brueggers? I think these are legitimate questions as I’d like to know where my .75 is going.

9. Read or do something literary with your kid for 15-20 minutes every day. (This is on top of all the other homework she gets). This month, if we read with our kid every night, we get to color in the pumpkins on the “Nightly Reading Record Sheet.” Then, at the end of the month, we are to send that sheet back to school. I’m assuming that this is how Ms. S will conclude the following: If most of the pumpkins ARE colored in, and you truly DID read with your kid every night, you are a good parent. If most of the pumpkins ARE NOT colored in, you suck. If most of the pumpkins ARE colored in, but in reality you DIDN’T really read that much with your kid—you just colored in a bunch of extra pumpkins—so you suck AND you’re a liar.

10. If you’re going to pick up your kid from school instead of having her ride the bus, you have to call or email the office and the teacher. That makes total sense. The thing is…there was this one day when I was totally planning on picking Sweet Pea up but it was a day or so before Yom Kippor (big holiday for us Jews) and I was hostessing “Break The Fast” at my house. (Jews do “Break The Fast” after fasting all day. Fasting is how we repent for our sins, but I don’t fast because I think I’m a pretty good person)…Anyway, I got crazy busy setting up for all of our company and I thought to myself: What the hell, Sweet Pea can take the bus.

The thing is, I sort of forgot to inform the school that I was no longer picking Sweet Pea up and that she should instead take the bus… so there she was, sitting all alone in the office, waiting for me.

How many years of therapy am I looking at?

11. School ends at 3:50. On days that you pick up your kid instead of having her ride the bus, there are 3 kindergarten lines by the south set of doors at the school. The first time I went to pick Sweet Pea up, it didn’t go well.

Little Lovey and I got there at 3:45. On our way to the doors, one of the other kindergarten moms, who already had her kid with her, stopped to chat for a minute. (Looking back, I now know that if she had her kid, mine was probably ready too.) I thought I had a few minutes to spare, but when Lovey and I got the doors, they were locked and there were no kindergarteners or teachers in sight. I was a little annoyed because I wasn’t late, but whatever. Lovey and I walked to the main set of doors hoping to find her there. Nope. We then walked into the school, and some lady who worked there, let’s call her ”School Lady,” told me to go to back to the Kindergarten doors to find Sweet Pea, so that’s where we went.

No Sweet Pea.

I was now starting to panic a little bit. I have no idea why. Of course, she was safe but for some reason, everything started spinning and I was starting to feel like the mom in EVERY Lifetime Movie. Where Is My Daughter!?!? Lovey and I then made our way back to the office and ran into School Lady again. School Lady said: “She wasn’t there?” Yes, School Lady, she was there. I just decided to leave her so I could check out your school. Nice digs. Bravo.

The lady in the office, “Office Lady”  who knew me as the “mom-who-was-late-a-few-days- ago” told me to go back to the original doors but by this point I was all: “NO. Where is my daughter? I am done with your doors.” As Lovey and I walked out of the office, Office Lady got on the phone with Ms. S and the next thing I knew, Sweet Pea was walking over to me with her teacher.

I guess Ms. S took her back to the classroom because she thought I would look for her there…and I don’t know, she was saying some something but I wasn’t really listening because guess what I was doing? I WAS CRYING. Crying. Total breakdown right in the middle of the hall of my daughter’s school. Blubbering like an idiot. So now I’m not only high maintenance and unorganized, I’m also flat-out crazy. Ms. S felt so bad and School Lady was all “We would NEVER let anything happen to a child…” and there I was, sniffling and wiping my tears while both of my kids are looking at each other like “What the hell is going on with mommy?”

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I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time adjusting to Sweet Pea’s new school. Maybe I just miss her old school, a school where everyone knows us and we know everyone. A school that doesn’t require me to skim a checklist every morning before we leave. A school that is lined with a warm embrace and maternal hugs. I don’t know. All I know is that things change and kids grow. This is life and I need to step up or get run over. I’m getting better and better though, and every day I screw up a little less.

Now, if only I could find out where that missing “Show and Tell” item is.

May 21st, 2012

Not for reading while you’re eating…

The girl who cuts my hair, “AngG,”  has twin daughters that are a year older than Lovey. (Lovey is almost three.) I was in a few days ago for a little cut and color and AngG told me some crazy story about her friend “Lucy.” Lucy had a boyfriend that sexually violated Lucy’s little girl.

My heart sank. I was sick.

But it got me wondering:

When is the right time to discuss with my girls who is and who is not welcome in their gynie area? (That is what we call it in our house. We call it a “gynie.“ Like it, hate it, I don’t care. That is what we call it). AngG told me that she started talking to her girls about it awhile ago.

Awhile ago? Your kids are three! Like how long ago? Am I late? Man, I can not catch a break when it comes to the gynie stuff. Just when I think I am caught up, I fall behind again.

So, that night, I got on it.

I had a nice little gynie talk with Sweet Pea. She just turned five it and she totally got it: Don’t let anyone touch your gynie. Don’t be waving it around either, Sweet Pea. No one is interested. Keep it to yourself. It’s your private area…yes, if mommy or daddy are with you and a doctor needs to get in there, you can let her in…no, we’re not going to the doctor…no, you don’t need a shot …oh no…don’t freak out…I swear you don’t need a shot…that is not where this conversation was supposed to go.

I then broached the subject with Lovey (the one who will be three in a month and a half).

Me: Lovey, I need to tell you who is allowed to touch your gynie.

Lovey: My gynie! Ok, I love my gynie!

Me: Great. Listen to mommy, honey. Only mommy and daddy are allowed to touch your gynie, OK? Nobody else. We have to clean it so it doesn‘t get gross. Gross me out the door.

Lovey: Gross me out the door. Gross me out the door!!

Me: Right. Do you understand though? Oh, wait…nana, grammy and puppa are also allowed to touch your gynie. But no one else. Are you with me?

Lovey: Yes, mommy.

Me: Who is allowed to touch your gynie?

Lovey: You and daddy and nana and grammy and puppa. And that’s it.

Me: Right. That’s it. You’re delicious.

Lovey: Don’t eat me, mommy.

Me: OK.

And that was that. Mission accomplished. I was pretty proud of myself.

The next morning, while I was getting Lovey dressed, we went over everything again. She answered all of my prompts and I felt very good about her level of understanding with regard to who is and who is not allowed to touch her gynie. I didn’t go into explaining why no one was allowed in thereit doesn’t seem necessary right now because, developmentally, I don’t think she is quite ready for an explanation. At this point, it’s enough for me that she gets the basics, we’ll get to the “why” part later.

Fast forward to the next day…

It’s time for the girls to get their hair cut. (I don’t take them to my salon. I took them there for their first cuts because we needed to be fancy, but I’m over that. They have easy hair and they don’t have any money so the 10.00 places are where they live.)

So, we’re in their salon and all of the people working and getting their hair cut are going crazy over the girls. They were just doing their thing, being cute, when all of the sudden, out of nowhere, little Lovey throws her fist in the air and declares with all the righteous indignation that she could muster: “NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO TOUCH MY GYNIE! ONLY MOMMY AND DADDY AND NANA AND GRAMMY AND PUPPA!”

Uh…OK.

I didn’t really know what to do. Who does that? So, I got down on her level, put my hands on her little shoulders and quietly said: “Lovey…honey…I’m pretty confident that no one here is lining up to touch your gynie.”

But she was unfazed and on a mission:

“NO ONE! I WILL SAY NO. I SAY NO!”

…And I hope she does.

Until she gets married.

Ok, fine she doesn’t have to be married, but she better use some discretion because otherwise…gross.

Gross me out the door.

May 17th, 2012

Fortune Cookie Lectures

Do you have a kid (or kids) who are still too little to read?

Do you find yourself bored and annoyed with explaining the same things over and over again?

If you answered YES to both of the above questions, you need to read this:

Today was one of those days where I found myself lecturing my kids repeatedly. I have been with them for 5 hours and I’m completely and utterly beat up. It is hard to be a mommy after working most of the day. Work is much easier than being a mom. I don’t get nearly as tired from working as I do from mommy’ing.

Maybe because no one at work is trying to kill me.

I told the girls to “Get out and leave mommy alone for 5 minutes” so I could clean the table and get ready for dessert, and though I heard them in the other room laughing and having fun 5 seconds ago, we all know that the laughing always, ALWAYS leads to crying. And sure enough, one of them is now crying.

After diffusing that situation, we settled in for dessert. They asked for fortune cookies. Fortune cookies do nothing for me so I opted, instead, for a spoon so I could settle in and eat The Best Frosting Ever out of a can.  It’s weird that my kids wanted fortune cookies. We didn’t even have Chinese for dinner. (And if you’re looking to insert the obvious joke “You have a kid from China, of course she wants a fortune cookie…HA HA HA!” … I gotta tell you—it’s not that funny).

Anyway, I was happily standing and eating The Best Frosting Ever when Sweet Pea came up to me holding out her fortune. “What does it say, mommy? What does it say?”

I could have read the fortune verbatim but I suddenly found myself in the midst of an interesting opportunity, and I didn’t want to waste it.

Sweet Pea has been potty trained FOR TWO YEARS, yet I busted her earlier for hiding stinky, wet undies in her laundry basket. With that in mind, this is what I read as her fortune: ”Those who pee in their pants, smell of pee pee.”

WHAT? Where did THAT come from?

Her face was priceless. She didn’t know what to say. And then I exclaimed: “Ohmigawd, we were just talking about that earlier, weren’t we Sweet Pea? That is crazy!” She was in awe. She got busted not only by me, but also by a fortune cookie!

Two birds, one stone.

Let the fortune cookie do your work for you. It’s like someone else lecturing your kid.

Then, of course, Lovey was all over me: “Mommy, mommy! Read mine! Read mine!”

So, to the almost-3-year-old Lovey (who was recently potty trained in literally two days, but while she is awesome at peeing on the potty, she can’t seem to stop pooping in her pants)…to Lovey I read: “It is better to poop on the potty than walk around with a dump in your pants.”

So great. She couldn’t believe what her fortune said. “Mommy, I poop in my pants!“ Then, holding out another fortune she said: “Mommy, do this one!!”

OK, let’s see what this one says…”If you have a problem with your sister, don’t tattle. Your mommy really couldn’t care less, so just work it out with your sister. That is real life. Deal with it.”

How about that one? I usually have to tell my girls around 100 times a day not to tattle on each other. Maybe tomorrow it will only be 50!

Who knows? Only confuscious.

I, myself, should have eaten a fortune cookie tonight. I could have saved myself some trouble since my fortune would have likely said: “She who eats half a can of Best Frosting Ever suffers from wicked stomachache.“

April 3rd, 2012

Just Wait…

It seems that whenever I voice a concern about my kids, there is almost always someone who feels the need to weigh in with the following response:

“Oh, just wait. That is NOTHING… Just wait until she hits (fill in whatever age their kid is), because that’s way worse!”

I hate that.

Here’s an example:

Right now, I‘m so over little Lovey pooping in her diaper. She is going to be 3 years old soon and she still doesn’t tell me when she needs to go. I would think she’d want to tell me but no, she is quite content walking around with a rump full of dump. Not only that, but when I approach her about the VERY obvious poop in her pants, she simply replies: ‘It’s OK, mommy!’ …Really? It’s OK? Please tell me how it’s OK that you are walking around with a giant POOP IN YOUR PANTS?”

As a parent to a little one, I feel like the complaint above is valid, and relevant. I’m looking for someone or something to help me. I’m not looking for this:

“Just wait…Oh, just wait…I have a 17 year old who brought a hooker to my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah and he does bong hits at the dinner table.”

I’m sorry, but did I ask to hear about your 17 year old train wreck of a kid? No, I did not. I’m not interested in your horror and “whore” stories. Not only was your response totally irrelevant, but it was also completely unsupportive.  Hit the bricks, Debbie Downer. Go clean your kid’s bong.

I have noticed that it’s a natural and knee-jerk reaction for the ”Been There, Done That” parents to use the  “Just Wait” scare tactic. It’s like they’ve earned it or something. (And in many ways, they have). But it’s not really helpful. I can see how, if you’re on the receiving end of my “poopie rant,” you might want to call another “Been There, Done That” parent as you’re walking away—and I can see how you guys might share a good laugh at my expense: “OMG, Robyn thinks a diaper that smells like four day old Indian food is bad—I can’t wait until Lovey gets older and she and a friend pull into the garage in Robyn’s car, AND LOVEY IS THE ONE DRIVING… AND SHE’S FOURTEEN!” (And then they laugh, laugh, laugh it up).

I totally understand that the “Just Wait” responses are all about perspective, but please understand–everything is relative. If you’re talking to someone who hasn’t been  a parent as long as you have, someone who has a valid complaint about what is currently going on with their kid, I can tell you with a great deal of confidence that perspective is not what they’re looking for.

Most parents (especially new ones) are beat up and worn out. For the most part, all we want is someone to listen when we have a concern, and if you’re offering an effective solution, we’ll gladly take it. (Come on, don’t hog the parental knowledge because you want us to suffer like you did.) We want help. We want support. What we don’t want is: “You think it’s bad now, JUST WAIT.”

Still, there are times when our friends are also good for a swift kick in the butt.

Sometimes, as parents, we get caught up in Standard Operating Procedure and we forget that it’s our job to push our kids. Early on, I was great about pushing my kids. (Really, I was quite awesome). Somewhere along the line though, I got too comfortable. In other words: If it’s not negatively impacting MY life in some way—it can wait. As a result, I have one kid who will be 5 years old next month and she’ll probably be wearing nighttime pull-ups on her honeymoon, and my other one will likely go on her first date with a crap in her pants.

In addition to that, there are other things, things I didn’t even consider, things that I didn’t even know I was ignoring:

For example: Little Lovey and I were at my friend “Caren’s” house the other day. I love Caren. When Lovey and I were leaving, Caren saw me lift Lovey and place her into her car seat. She cringed: “You are going to mess up your back so bad lifting her in and out like that!” Uh…GOING TO?? My back is already such a mess. If pain pills didn’t have the same effect on my body as matzoh does, I’d be on them all the time. (If you’re a “Jew Jew” you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, Happy Easter).

Caren was right though. Why wasn’t I pushing Lovey to get in and out of the car seat by herself?

Because I had a bad case of “The Lazies.”

I was stuck in Standard Operating Procedure and pushing my kid to get in and out of that seat by herself didn’t even occur to me. I just assumed she couldn’t do it because she wasn’t doing it.

This scenario could have very easily turned into a “Just Wait” scenario if I was standing there complaining, but Caren helped me with my problem right then and there—before I even knew it was a problem—before I complained about in front of someone else who would have, in all probability, hit me with a “Just Wait…” response. No thanks.

Good lookin’ out, Caren.

I dodged a bullet and here’s the best part: Lovey is now getting in and out of her car seat all by herself. (She gets one M&M every time she does it and she is very happy about that. Yes, I could give more than one M&M, but we like to keep the bar real low in our family).

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Raising kids is like any other part of life. Most everything happens in phases and we have to ride each one out. We suit up and bear down through the rough phases while we wish, in vain, that the fun phases would last forever.

As parents, when we complain about parenting issues—we’re really just asking for help. Complaining is our way of putting it out there. Of course, that is not always the case; sometimes we just need to vent and we’re not looking for anything but an ear. For the most part though, when we put it out there—we’re looking for a little support, a little help and sometimes a little push.

But if you choose to respond to our pleas with “Just Wait…” well, that’s totally fine. But I think YOU should “Just Wait”…and I think you should do it over there.

 

 

 

 

March 20th, 2012

M.I.A.

One night, many years ago, the mom of an old boyfriend told me that she hated the off-white pants her husband was wearing. I often looked to her for advice on various subjects so I figured I‘d seize the opportunity. I wanted to know: What do you do if your husband wears something that you REALLY don’t like? I mean, I know we’re supposed to love and accept them for who they are, but come on…we have to BE with them, right?

So, what do you do?

She took me aside and quietly revealed that whenever her husband wears an item that she deems hideous, she saves herself a potentially hurtful and argumentative conversation by secretly taking the garment and doing a “a little something” to blemish it. Nothing big or obvious, just a little something.

For instance, with regard to the off-white offenders, she waited until her husband was out of the pants (and out of the vicinity) and she laid them on the bed. Then, armed with a wand of mascara, she took a deep breath and very carefully placed a teeny weeny black dot right next to the crotch area. It was a small dot, but on off-white, it stuck out like a Jewish girl in a Lily Pulitzer store.

To me, she was brilliant. The tiny black dot was just obvious enough to ruin the look of the pants, but in no way did it incrimate her as the desecrator. It was brilliant and I have never forgotten it.

And I would use it on my own husband—if I thought it would work.

My problem is this: In a million years my husband “Cody”  wouldn’t A) Notice the black dot or B) Care.

Once, before we were married, I went to visit Cody at Camp (he owns an overnight camp for kids in Northern Michigan) and because he was still “woo’ing” me, he would actually leave Camp without me begging, pleading or threatening him—and we would go out for a nice dinner somewhere other than the Mess Hall.

One night, when I emerged from the bathroom, ready to go, I saw Cody waiting all dressed and proud of himself. He was wearing jeans and a jean jacket. (You can re-read that sentence a million times but it’s never going to change. You read it right the first time). My husband, whom I love very much, thought it would be OK to wear jeans and a jean jacket together, in public, even though it wasn’t 1985.

Well, he was wrong.

I tried to think of a tactful way to tell him that there was no way that he was wearing that ensemble out of the cabin, but I had to come up with a way of saying it that wouldn’t hurt his feelings—and I think I did a good job. I said: Cody, there is no way you are wearing that ensemble out of the cabin.

He looked at me incredulously and said: What’s wrong with it?

And because he was serious, I knew there was no explanation that would make any sense to him so I simply said: NO.

He grumbled a bit about how I was “crazy” and then he said something about how the jean jacket was “so awesome.” Eventually, though, it came off.

But it wasn’t forgotten. I knew he’d try to sell me on The Jacket again and I didn’t want it to become a point of dissent in our relationship. I just wanted Jon Bon Jovi to come back and get it.

My mind went back to the “Little Black Dot” story of so many years ago, but I needed something stronger, something bolder. Cody is not like the husband of my old boyfriend’s mom. Not only would he not notice a black dot on his jacket, but even if he did, it would only make the jacket cooler to him. I needed to do something more drastic.

So I hid it.

My friend, “Nags” was up at Camp with me that particular weekend and since, upon seeing The Jacket, Nags promptly threw up most of his lunch, I knew he’d help me plot its inevitable and necessary demise.  Together we found the perfect place to hide it and to this day, we have never revealed its location.

There have been a few more items of clothing over the years that I don’t love, but for the most part I keep my mouth shut. Cody either wears those pieces when I’m not around, or I let them go because even I know there are some battles that aren’t worth fighting. Besides, over the last ten years, nothing has offended me in quite the same way as The Jacket.

Until now.

Enter: The Shirt.

I can’t explain exactly what it is that I vehemently dislike about The Shirt, but there is something. He has worn it three times and I loathe it so much that sometimes I flip it off (with both hands) when he isn’t looking.

The Shirt physically repulses me and what’s more—The Shirt knows it, and The Shirt doesn’t care. It mocks me. He wore The Shirt to bed the other night, and The Shirt was all “Take that, Wifey, I’m in your bed now,” and that was it for me. THAT WAS THE LAST STRAW.

You’re going down, Shirt. You don’t know who you’re dealing with. I have a rap sheet. Perhaps you’d like to hear a little story about a missing Jean Jacket?

And then, of course, I did what I had to do.

I hid it.

What choice did I have?

It’s in a very good place and like The Jacket, I will keep the location to myself. Plus, I have no guilt because it’s not like I threw it out, it’s just…missing.

But out of respect, I’d like to say a few words in honor of The Shirt:

I never liked you, Shirt
You made me want to barf.
I would have strangled you
But I’d feel bad for the scarf.

Cody might miss you at first
But it’s better than dealing.
I didn’t want to discuss you
And risk hurting his feelings.

You thought you were staying
And I’d have to let you be.
But you got yours, didn’t you?
Don’t mess with me.

He’ll never find you
And I’d just like to say:
May you forever remain
M.I.A.