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Archive for the ‘Dirty Little Secrets’ Category

There are several rooms in our house that I very rarely enter.  One happens to be our guest bathroom, which for some unknown reason had become Peyton’s bathroom of choice.  We kept all the bathroom doors closed because Hayden had a huge affinity for water, and also, I once discovered Addison drinking a cup of water that I had not given him.  When I asked where he got it, he very proudly told me that he was a big boy now, and could get his own water from the toilet.  Yep, I was raising dogs.  Just take a swig out of the toilet if you’re thirsty! 

Anyway, we were having friends out for a BBQ, so I opened the door to the bathroom, planning to give it a quick once over since I thought it hadn’t been used since the last time I had cleaned it.  As I turned on the light, I blinked my eyes several times because I thought I might have had some strange migraine thing that makes you see smudges, rather than spots.  Dark brown, dried, crusty smudges.  But no, it was not a migraine (though I wish it was).  You can imagine what my next thought was.  Shit.  Literally and figuratively.  Not a space had been spared.  The walls were covered in thick, brown, dried yuck.  The sink, the faucets, the toilet, the step stool (no pun intended), the soap dispenser, the hand towel, EVERYTHING!!! 

Upon closer inspection, I was HUGELY relieved to discover that the “crap” was actually dried chocolate frosting from a bribery cupcake I had given Peyton the last time she was with us (You know, “If you please do this, I’ll give you a cupcake decorated like a doggy.  Please, please, please do it, and I’ll give you anything you want.  Please!).  I have never in my life been so happy to clean a bathroom covered in dried chocolate frosting as I was that day!

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You would think I would have learned my lesson the day Hayden threw the front door open for the UPS guy to find me sprawled, literally, butt naked on the tile floor in front of him (oh, you didn’t read that post?! Click HERE).  Or maybe when the landscapers all stood outside my window gawking while I dressed (oh, I haven’t shared that one with you yet?  Just wait!).  But no.  Not me.  I am the sort of person who has to make the same mistake and suffer the same humiliation at least a dozen or more times before it occurs to me that maybe I should do things differently.  Like put some blinds on the windows.  Or take the clean laundry out of the mountainous piles in the laundry room and put it in the relative privacy of my closet so I needn’t run past the front door in my birthday suit every time I dress.  You would think.

Now similar to the UPS guy, the guy who delivers our heating oil doesn’t follow a very predictable schedule.  One month he’ll show up as the kids and I are sitting down to lunch, the next we’ll be his last stop of the day.  The trouble  is, I never know exactly when he will show up, and it does actually matter, but not for the reasons you may think.  It’s not that I am trying to coordinate trips to the grocery store or pick ups and drop offs for afternoon kindergarten.  It’s not that I’m going to run to the post office or trying to plan play dates.  Nope.  None of that.

It’s all about showering.  I’ve had a few close calls, a time or two that I’ve had to hit the shower floor and fast because someone has come into the yard while I am in the shower.  But this particular day, I even set the alarm so I would be up and showered long before anyone could show up at our house for deliveries.  Yep, rise and shine at just about the crack of dawn for me.  This time I wasn’t taking any chances!  You see, our master shower has full windows that look out over our side yard and the creek and the woods beyond.  It’s quite lovely and picturesque, and a wonderfully peaceful and scenic atmosphere for bathing.  Except, of course, when a rugged albeit friendly stranger happens to be walking past the windows looking intently at the side of the house for the access door to the oil tanks, which are, of course, located right below the shower windows.

And that, my friends, is exactly who I saw as I opened my eyes after rinsing the suds from my hair and face, elbows at right angles in the air, fully facing the windows.  An astonished red-faced man in work clothes, hauling a giant hose, and looking as though he wished the earth would swallow him whole.  For a moment, as time stood still, we both stood frozen in place as our minds tried desperately to tell our bodies what to do.  And then we both dashed into action, he racing around the corner of the house and I dropping to the floor.  I stayed pressed against the tile until the water ran cold, and I knew I could stall no longer.  I crawled from the shower and tugged my towel from the rack.  Pulling my robe closed, I headed toward the front door, checkbook in hand and pretended that nothing at all out of the ordinary had happened as I swung open the door and greeted the still red-faced and now stammering man.

You would think I would have put blinds up that very day.  You would think.

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It’s now time to confess yet another deep, dark, and dirty little secret.  This one will most likely cause quite a few people to snigger behind my back, arch their eyebrows and purse their lips in disapproval.  And here’s the worst part: I don’t care or regret it for a single second.

Cue drum roll please…

I let my kids watch TV, and not just Baby Einstein, Dora the Explorer, or Sid the Science Kid.  They can quote the titles of just about every Phineas and Ferb show on air and –wait for it–(Tee Hee! If you don’t get that joke, you obviously don’t watch enough Disney Channel!) are even down with Dog the Bounty Hunter.  Gasp!

And, brace yourself —  I admit to using the television as a babysitter at some point in time on any given day.   I know, at this point you are thinking it’s my own damn fault if my kids turn out to be a few sandwiches short of a picnic.  What kind of mother knowingly goes against The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children not watch TV?  What kind of mother throws caution to the wind when there are long cited statistics that say that television viewing by children is linked to hyperactivity, lack of focus, and delayed language development?  I guess this kind.

As I’ve said many times before, I am not a domestic diva, and I am not going to win any mother of the year awards.  What I am is a frazzled mommy on the brink of losing her sanity, while desperately trying to successfully raise two little boys and the occasional stepdaughter.   I don’t have the luxury of nearby extended family to lean on, a neighbor across the street to call on, or a babysitter who can drive to rely on.  Television’s all I’ve got!

Despite my plethora of dirty little secrets, I do try really hard to be a good parent to my children.  It’s just that chances are I do it differently than a lot of mothers out there.  Like most, I try to be creative, to be a fairly good role model, and to nurture my childrens’ minds and bodies.  I try to teach them to value others, to accept differences of the people they encounter, to lead by a compassionate, empathetic, loving example.  I try to stimulate their imaginations by reading them stories,  doing crafts, and getting down on the floor to play with them.  They play outside — a lot.  They run, and race, and roll down hills.  They swim, and bike, and ride their scooters to their hearts content.  And they have tons and tons of books.  I’m telling you, they have books galore and we’ve read them all.  Over and over and over.

But here is where I seem to drastically veer off the beaten path.  I also let my kids dance on our furniture, eat food they’ve dropped on the ground (C’mon — even I draw the line at puddles, and don’t let them pick up food that’s been left on the sidewalk by someone else),  stay up past bedtime (uh, okay, they don’t even officially have a bedtime, but I’m working on that one.  Honestly!), eat too much candy, and yes, even watch TV.

How on earth do those of you who don’t plop your kids in front of the Backyardigan’s from time to time get anything done?  How do you make a dent in the mounds of laundry, make an important call, or use the bathroom in private?  You see, even with the assistance of TV, I am extremely lucky if anything can keep the boys attention for more than 30 minutes.  Even when the TV is on, they are actively involved in something else.  They never just sit in front of a show and veg.  They like to play and to move around too much for that.  They are also on the floor racing cars, or at the table coloring, or more likely, pulling all the cushions off the furniture and building forts.  While watching their shows.  So is that really so bad?  I mean it’s not like I just plunk them in front of the TV for hours with no other interaction.

And I have proof that they learn valuable lessons from their TV watching.  Why, just the other day, I heard Addison tell his brother that ‘bleep’ is a four letter word, and not okay to say.  Thanks, Dog, you’ve taught my children well.  I also think they have a stronger aversion to breaking the law than they might have without the tutelage of the Bounty Hunter.  And, long before Addison started at La Escuela, I heard him say, “Vamonos!  Let’s go!”  Thank you for that, Dora or Diego.  I mean, the proof is in the pudding if you consider that my own mother watches very little television, and has spent the past 15 years incorrectly saying “Vamoose” when she is ready to get a move on.  Maybe she would be bilingual by now if she, too, had Dish Network.

So there.  It’s all out there now, and I must say, I feel a little lighter for it.

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My husband and I have a very deep, dark, and dirty secret that I am going to share with the world today.  I’ll be honest, my stomach is in knots thinking of the backlash I am risking.  I am fully aware that the majority of people out there will disagree completely with me.  Believe me, I have already spent the past several years getting earfuls of lectures, contempt and disgust disguised under thinly veiled pretenses of friendly advice and neighborly concern.  I have a thin skin, and don’t take letting others down lightly.  Doing something that other people disagree with, and look down on, is almost impossible for me.  But this was something we decided to go against the grain with, and for us, and our family, it turned out to be absolutely the right decision.

So here it is.  We did not potty train our oldest son.

When his friends began using the potty at two, we felt the pressure to get it done.  But Addison wasn’t feeling that same pressure.  He wasn’t the least bit interested, and when we tried to encourage him, it quickly became very clear that he could not care less.  No amount of praise or bribery were worth it to him.  He’s a pretty smart kid, and I don’t think it took him long to decide that the rest of us were the idiots for interrupting our play, our sleep, our errands, our whatever, for a trip to the bathroom.  Why bother, when there is this wonderful invention called the diaper that lets you go on with all of your activities while you go?

When we tried to force the issue, the tantrums were epic.  Well-meaning advice givers would tell him that he would be a big boy if he began using the potty.  I honestly believe that this was the reason for the majority of his resistance.  The last thing in the world that this kid has ever wanted is to be a big boy.  He associates that with leaving mommy and daddy, which is something he has sworn he will never do.  So staying a little boy is just fine by him, and what better way to accomplish that than to refuse to use the potty?

We were fortunate that his preschool made an exception and allowed him to attend in pull-ups.  We were fortunate that none of his playmates teased him.  We were fortunate that Pull-Ups came in size 4T-5T.  We were fortunate to have fairly optimistic natures and just held tight to the belief that we would get through it and that, eventually, it would work itself out.  You know, hope springs eternal and all that.

It wasn’t all that different from most of the other struggles we’ve faced as parents.  With the exception of a stinky, soggy diaper to contend with, it really is like any other child rearing experience.  Remember thinking you’d never get more than three consecutive hours of sleep?  Or that you would never make it to church without fighting on the way, due to the elevated blood pressure caused by the screaming infant in the back seat?  Or taking your baby in those first few times for vaccinations?  You just grit your teeth, close your eyes, and in this case, plug your nose, and then pray fervently that you will come out the other side with your patience, and sanity,  still somewhat intact.

So I suppose you are wondering by now how Addison finally came to wear underwear.  I have two words for you.  Buzz Lightyear.  Or is it three?  Buzz Light Year.  Whatever.  Anyway, I knew that there wasn’t a chance in heck he’d be allowed to wear pull-ups in Kindergarten.  But both Patrick and I still refused to turn our home into a war zone, so I did the only thing I could think of to do.  I lied.  I went to Target and bought that ultra cool Buzz, you know, the one for a gagillion dollars?  When I brought it home, I put it up on top of the refrigerator without allowing Addison a close look.  I told him that the box clearly stated that “This toy is not intended for use by children in diapers or pull-ups.  Must wear underwear and use potty prior to play.”  And then I told him to let me know when he had put his underwear on, and that I would get it down for him.  It took a day and a half of convincing him that the box really did, in real life, say those words.  But before day two, Addison was using the potty and wearing his underwear “to infinity, and beyond!”  And that’s all it took!  No training necessary!

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