Category Archives: My Kids

Conversations With Children: What It Means To Be “Too Mean”

I am a firm believer that if you keep your feelings inside they will ferment and come out of you as farts, so I try to let all my feelings out as they happen, lest I suffocate my poor dog who sleeps under the covers with me that night.

Which means I don’t hesitate to tell other drivers what I think of them, but since I have kids now (and don’t live in Phoenix the Land of Universal Road Rage anymore) it’s no longer appropriate for me to roll down my window and scream that I hope the other driver gets gonorrhea and falls off a cliff. So instead I just snarl my opinions under my breath so my kids don’t hear… but apparently sometimes I’m not quiet enough because yesterday when some brodude in the douchey jeep behind me at a stop sign kept honking his horn because I wouldn’t zoom out into oncoming traffic, cutting a bunch of people off, so he could be on his way faster Verona not only heard me, she joined in.

Me: “Sorry dude, not going to kill my whole family just because your mom never taught you how to be patient. Oh, and also I hope when you get home tonight and check the mail it’s entirely bills. So have fun with that.”

Verona: “Yeah, I hope that guys dog eats something he shouldn’t and spents all night farting in his room. And I hope he can’t sleep so he just has to lay there in  bed smelling the dog farts and a little bit of it gets in his mouth.”

Me: “I hope when he tries to watch Netflix tonight his neighbor is using his wifi so it makes everything go super slow and his movie keeps stopping to buffer every like 2 minutes.”

Verona: “I hope none of that guys dreams ever come true.”

Me: “I hope next time he goes to a concert the band doesn’t plays his favorite song.”

Verona: “I hope next time he goes to Taco Bell he orders a chicken burrito but they give him a stupid bean burrito instead.”

Me: “I hope next time he wants a slushie the 7Eleven he goes to is out of the flavor he really wanted.”

Verona: “I hope next time he orders a pizza they make him a pizza that only has broccoli on it.”

Me: “Yeah, and I hope when he takes the first bite of that broccoli pizza it’s still a little too hot so he burns the roof of his mouth and it completely ruins his pizza experience.”

Verona: “Woah mom, woah. You just crossed the line. Hot pizza is the worst… now you’re just being too mean. You need to calm down.”

So there you have it folks. The line between “acceptable mean” and “too mean” is at burning your mouth on hot pizza. Now we all know.

The Thing About Lice Shampoo

I walked up to the barely-past-teenage cashier at the crappy grocery store down the street much earlier than I was even usually awake and dropped multiple boxes of lice shampoo down on the conveyor belt much harder than necessary.

Barely-Past-Teenage Cashier: “Ooo, looks like somebody’s having a crappy morning.”

Me: “Yep. What gave it away? The fact that I just woke up and look like I crawled out of a gutter or that I borderline abused your conveyor-belt just now? Sorry about that by the way.”

Barely-Post-Teenage Cashier: “No worries. And I have some news… that lice shampoo works great apparently. So have fun with your killing.”

Me: “Yep, that’s why I’m buying it. It was either that or pour bleach over everyone’s heads.”

and without missing a beat the guy looks at me and says “Do it. I think you’d look great as a blonde.”

Well for the record I completely disagree that I would look good as a blonde, I think I would look jaundiced and awful. But the guy totally made my day.

That morning I found a lice. Or a louse. Or whatever the singular term is for those little fuckers that crawl from kid to kid, ruin my life, and haunt my dreams. I cannot get over how grossed out I am by the idea of tiny bugs crawling over or in and out of anywhere or anything because OMG ew. And I’m not even someone who’s super scared of bugs.

Anyway I found a lice, or a louse, or whatever, on Verona’s head so naturally I handled it like a totally level headed adult and checked everyone thoroughly for lice and then acting calmly and accordingly. Just kidding! I totally lost my shit, flew through the grocery store like a crazy bat out of hell grabbing every anti-lice product they sold, then upon arriving home I sprayed everything with horrible noxious cleaning chemicals that I normally never use (sorry essential oils but I’m benching you, shit just got real) and then accidentally saw a pair of scissors so I chopped everyone’s hair super short. Including about 18 inches of my own. My madness knows no bounds.

Here’s the thing about lice shampoo, it says right on the bottle that one of the side effects of using it is that your head will itch like mad…

…but your head itching like mad is usually how you know you have lice…

…so the stuff that’s supposed to kill the lice gives you the symptoms of having lice…

…which means you have no way of knowing if you still have lice or not…

…which is terrifying.

In retrospect I may have totally over reacted. But like I said… tiny bugs and whatever. Eww. And it’s been a couple weeks now so even if we were mostly lice free to begin with I’m pretty sure we are for real lice free now and that’s good. And just for funzies I took a picture of my new super short hair… the shortest it’s ever been since I first grew it past this length at age like 4… and did a 30 second awful photoshop job to it to make my hair blonde so we could all see what that would look like if I did a horrible job of dying it.

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Conversations With My Children: Marriage

Verona: “What happens if I want to marry someone but they don’t want to marry me?”

Me: “Well you won’t have to deal with that for a long time because you an’t get married until you’re a grown up but if that would happen you’d have a couple options. If they loved you and wanted to be with you but just didn’t want to get married you could just be together and not get married.  You could also stop being with that person and it would break your heart but eventually you’d get over it and maybe find someone who loved you as much as you loved them.”

Verona: “I don’t want my heart broken.”

Me: “Unfortunately most people get their heart broken at least once in their lives, it’s part of loving. But as long as you eventually find someone who loves you as much as you love them and treats you good that’s what matter.”

Verona: “Oh yeah, they have to treat me good. I don’t want some dirtbag who lies to me.”

Me: “Good, keep that attitude. But where’d you hear that?”

Verona: “Movies. But if someone doesn’t want to marry me I have another option, besides breaking my heart or being with the without getting married.”

Me: “Oh yeah? And what’s that?”

Verona: “I’ll lock them in the basement. I’ll keep them in my house and never let them out.”

Me: “Interesting, what about when you leave the house? What would stop them from leaving?”

Verona: “I’ll have dad come over and guard them for me.”

Me: “Hmmm, ok. But that will only keep them in your house, it won’t make them want to marry you.”

Verona: “They’ll have to marry me because I won’t ever let them out until they start making better choices. And the better choice is to marry me. Because I’m awesome.”

Me: “You are awesome, but I’m pretty sure that’s how love and getting married works.”

Verona: “Well I guess we’ll see.”

Parenting & 1Peter 4:8

The verse about “love covering a multitude of sins” has been coming to mind a lot lately in relation to my parenting.

I had always thought about that verse referring to your love covering your sins… but I’ve been realizing how often my own love helps my children with theirs. (I’m not someone who’s super comfortable with the term “sin” cause I think it’s a whole other can of worms, but bare with me.) At the age my children are we have A LOT of sibling conflicts going on, like, a lot. Compared to other small children I think they actually get along really really well, but some days it still feels like one of them can’t breath without the other taking it as a personal insult.

If I respond in anger, like if I were to spank one of them (I feel very blessed to be able to say my children have never experienced physical violence at the hands of adults they trust) or by yelling at everyone to “Just. Be. Nicer already!” (something I’m not proud to say I’ve done more times than I want to think about), what will I have accomplished? Nothing. At least in the long run. They may go be quiet and leave each other alone right now, they’ll probably get sneakier about their fighting so I don’t even know about it in the future making me think I’ve succeed… but I haven’t helped teach them how to better handle their emotions in the future. I haven’t helped teach them how to respond to anger with kindness by modeling that with my own actions. And I certainly wouldn’t have helped heal the rift in their own relationship.

If I respond with the cold and calculated efficiency advocated by many non-violent parenting sources, if I calmly separating them without showing any emotion “until you can play nicely and share” what will I have accomplished? I have stopped the problem in the moment, yes, and I haven’t added my own physical or emotional violence to the situation.  But I also haven’t done anything to help them do better in the future.

But when I respond in love, when I respond by coming into the situation as a partner with compassion and understanding for all parties involved I can help actually heal the wounds. My love overflows onto them, and they in turn often respond with their own love and compassion that then overflows onto one another in the form of apologies, forgiveness, and constructive brainstorming of how they can both do better in the future. By responding in love I have helped actually fix the issue instead of just stopping the problem, I’ve also helped them repairing what was broken between them/in them AND gave them the tools to do that themselves in the future.

Does that mean the chaos won’t erupt again in an hour? Not necessarily. But I’ve been learning how to handle conflict for almost three decades now and still feel like I only do a good job half the time… I can absolutely extend some grace to people who have only had a couple years of practice.

Within parenting my love can cover not only a multitude of my own questionable decisions, it’s also capable of covering a multitude of fractures within my childrens’ relationship and within themselves, or a multitude of their “sin” if you’re more comfortable with that term.

The fact that I have the power to do that blows my mind… that’s an amazing power… that’s a HUGE deal! And at this age I have the power to do that about 100 times a day. That’s a lot of power for good that I’ve been entrusted with.

Anyway, that’s what’s been growing in my heart lately.

The post about baby penis but not circumcision.

So I pseudo joined a home schooling group.

It was kind of a weird decision since my kids aren’t compulsory school age yet and I don’t actually live in the city the group is for… but facebook (damn you facebook) was like “Hey Jenna, you should join the group for eclectic homeschoolers in the next city over.” and I said “Sure, because I’m really only a couple miles from the city limit and although I’m more unschooly than eclectic, eclectic home schoolers tend to be nicer so yay! Let’s do this!”

So I joined the facebook ground which led to me agreeing to come to a meet up at the splash pad on Monday which led to me realizing it’s actually a Mormon group and I’m not Mormon so honestly I don’t fit into a single qualifier this group has but now I’m in and can’t really back out anymore.

So we’re sitting there while our kids run around in their swimsuits through the splash pads, everyone is really nice and I’m totally becoming part of this group of mom’s when suddenly, “Hey Jenna, is that your baby who’s naked?”

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And of course it totally is, my kid flying across the the splash pad with his teeny tiny ballsac blowing in the breeze. Because it’s my baby and my kids are tiny nudists. Everybody laughs because he’s two and it’s hilarious.

I went over, got his business back on him and told him he needed to keep his pants on this time because we were in a public place and I was trying to make some new friends.

But lo and behold, five minutes later….

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Repeat the previous steps while people laugh.

But then five minutes later.

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And five minutes after that.

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And five minutes after that.

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And five minutes after that.

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And five minutes after that.

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And finally one of the mom’s I’d just met looked at me and asked in pure and honest sincerity if there was something wrong with Finn and I just shrugged and was like “Probably. Who knows. Hey Finnegan! We’re going home! Go find your pants and meet me at the car!”

And that was the end of me meeting a whole new group of potential new friends. And yes, I will absolutely go the next time they go somewhere because I’m at the point in my life where I understand we’re too strange for most people so unless someone gathers the balls (pun intended) to actually say it to  my face I’m gonna keep showing up and making them feel awkward around me.

Because that’s just how I roll.

Conversations With Children :: Poop

Finn: “I pooped!”

David: “Yep, Finn pooped. He pooped on the floor.”

Finn: “Yep! I poop on the floor!”

Me: “Why did you poop on the floor?”

Finn: “No… I pee on the floor. I poop on the rug.”

Me: “Ok, but you shouldn’t poop on the floor or on the rug. You should poop in the potty. Remember, we talked about it?”

Finn: “I did poop in the potty.”

Me: “Except you didn’t… because there’s poop on the rug.”

Finn: “No, I poop in the potty last week.”

Me: “Yeah, and that was awesome. But you should have pooped in the potty tonight too.”

Finn: “No mom, I already poop in the potty.”

Me: “I don’t think you understand, you don’t only poop in the potty once… you always poop in the potty. Like, for the rest of your life.”

Finn: “No mama, you don’t understand. I already poop in the potty… remember? So I good now. Now I poop on the rug again because I already poop in the potty.”

My kids swear. What of it?

Before we had children David and I had many deep, philosophical discussion about how we wanted to raise our kids. Many of them have since fallen my the wayside (our kids are now 2 and 4), and many of them have come to fruition.

One of them was about swearing. I was a firm believer that (with the exception of really hurtful of mean comments) our kids should be able to speak without fear or censorship in their own home. After all, who am I to dictate how they think or feel? If they are saying words that I wholeheartedly agree are inappropriate or harmful I would rather explain to them why that word is inappropriate and harmful instead of just forbidding their existence.

But then I had a child who was a complete freak of nature in terms of verbal development.

Yep, Verona was that weird kid speaking in complete sentences at 18 months, including telling the pillars of the church that our dog Barney was an asshole.

And I didn’t know what to do.

I still thought children should be allowed to be honest about how they felt in their own homes regardless of the language… but I also thought words like this would become an issue long after I could properly explain to said child the very complex idea that some words are appropriate in certain contexts (at home, with peers who feel the same way as you, etc) while simultaneously NOT be appropriate in other contexts (at grandma’s house, at church, in front of strangers in the grocery store, anywhere it may make someone feel comfortable, etc).

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Ok y’all, truth time. My friend Brittney suggested that I write a post about kids swearing so I started writing the above post about how rarely my kids actually swear since I don’t care when they do… or something….

And while that is true, they don’t swear very often at all, (not nearly as much as I do at least) and I’m sure that’s partially because we’ve never made a big deal out of it… they do swear. And as much as I want to have some lofty explanation as to why that’s ok or why it will serve them in the long run or whatever I’m not going to.

Because honestly? I just don’t care. I don’t care if they say damn it when they drop their toast, I don’t care if they ask where the hell something is when they’re frustrated they can’t find a toy, and I don’t care if they tell Barney to stop being an asshole.

Because sometimes our dog Barney really is an asshole… he is. He’s one of the asshole-i-est dogs that I know.

If my kids call their friend a bitch in anger I’ll be upset (but I’d probably be just as upset if they called them a poopy head in anger). If my kids drop the F bomb (by which I mean “fag”, not “fuck”) I will absolutely immediately step in and explain why the word they use just used is complete inappropriate and unacceptable.

But when one of my kids yells are Barney the dog to stop being an asshole? Well, Barney was probably being as asshole and he should stop.

There’s worse things than my kids being able to call it like they see it.

Verona’s 4th Birthday

Sunday was Verona’s 4th birthday so I gave her this kids quiz my friend Lauren does for her kids every year on their birthdays so you can see how their answers change over the years. I thought it was cute.

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What are you going to be when you grow up?
Tall enough to reach the chocolate covered espresso beans in the cabinet.

What’s do you think grown ups do?
They work. And they’re always doing dishes. They’re always like “I need to clean these dishes!”

What are your favorite toys?
Teddy bears, airplanes, and I like my new Anna doll that I got for my birthday.

Who are your best friends?
Sonya, Jordan, and Kristen.

What makes you happy?
Playing. I like to play tag and I like going rock climbing with my dad at the climbing gym.

What makes you sad?
Hitting.

When you dream at night, what do you dream about?
UNICORNS! The unicorns all let me ride on them and it makes me so happy.

What’s your favorite color?
Pink

What’s your favorite book?
Any books about unicorns. And the book about when the dinosaurs died.

What’s your favorite movie?
The Croods!

What do you do during the day?
I play.

I Don’t Have to Be a Mom if I Don’t Want To

There was a morning… I can’t tell you the exact date but I can tell you exactly what it looked like.

It was about a year ago because I had a 1 and a 2 year old.  For those of you who aren’t parents having a 1 year old is hard.  Having a 2 year old is really hard.  Having a 1 year old and a 2 year old at the same time is really fucking hard.  Rewarding and marvelous and beautiful a lot of the time, yes.  But also really fucking hard.  Something can be beautiful and rewarding and really fucking hard all at the same time, I promise you it’s possible.

Right then though it wasn’t beautiful or rewarding though.  I had been pooped on exactly 2 times, peed on once, and thrown up on once as well just in those few hours of the morning.  I had read the exact. same. fucking. book… incidentally the book I was so sick of I was ready to throw away… at least 15 times, and I’m not exaggerating for the sake of this story at all.  I had listened to more relentless whining than I could shake a stick at.  And I had been bitten, bitten in the fucking boob.  I hadn’t seen David in any for more than a few minutes and I had no indication I would get a chance to spend any quality time with him anytime soon.  And every day from the past few week had looked more or less the same, with not even close to enough interaction with other adults and almost no time with my beloved husband who was current very very into rock climbing which (in addition to being a full time student and working) took him away from the house a lot.

I was lonely.  I was sad.  I was tired of touching other people’s bodily fluids.  I was tired of the completely obscene amount of whining I’d dealt with that day and the numerous days before that.  And to be 100% honest I was seriously doubting my choices in life.

About that time David got home and I had a chance to run downtown for an errand I had been needing to do for a while, and on my way home I came to the sign saying that my exit from the I-10 onto the I-17 was two miles ahead.  The I-17 took me home… to my kids, to my life, to the to do list I had that was a million miles long and was never ever going to get completed, and to the husband who was ready for me to take over again so he could get out of there and on to something else he needed or wanted to do… leaving me home by myself.  Again.

The I-10 would take me somewhere else though… anywhere else.  Actually it would take me straight to California, the place my pre-baby dreams had always assumed I would be by now.  It would take me away from the poop and the puke and the bodily fluids, away from all the loneliness and sadness and felling like I wasn’t good enough and feeling like a massive failure for having these feelings at all.  If I stayed on the I-10 going west nobody would be able to find me if I didn’t want them too.  I’ve known enough sketchy people in my life to know the basics of starting a new life with a new name and identity.

And I realized, I absolutely don’t have to go home if I don’t want to.  Motherhood was not something I had to continue doing.

I could leave.  If I just kept going on this road I could be gone forever, be done with all of it, and nobody would be able to stop me.

I didn’t have to keep being a mom if I didn’t want to.  

And that realization was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever realized in my life.  Going home to my kids wasn’t something I was forced to do.  I wasn’t trapped in some cage, unable to escape.  I could leave anytime I wanted to.  But I didn’t want to.  Regardless of the poop and vomit and so so so much whining… so much more whining than I have ever or ever will want to deal with again… I wanted to go home and see them.  I wanted to stick it out and see what happened tomorrow.  I wanted to keep going, even though I knew I didn’t have to.  So I turned onto the I-17 instead of going straight.

I’m not here because I have no other choice, I’m here because I want to be.  I’m not home with my kids during the day because I can’t find a job… I totally could.  I’m not a parent because I have no way of escaping… I know how.  I’m not married to David because I said some vows five years ago and in doing so gave up any subsequent right to change my mind, I’m married to him because I choose to stay and make it work when it’s amazing and when it’s so frustrating I want to claw my own eyes out.

Not having to be a mother is the best thing that’s ever happened to my mothering… because that morning when I realized I could choose so many other things instead I freed myself from any guilt or regret or bitterness over what was happening to me right now no matter how soul sucking it may feel in the moment.  It gave me the ability to let go on any resentment I had for where I was at and let me love and accept my kids for who they were even when they were… because I chose to love and accept them so obviously I had a good reason (even if I couldn’t remember it in the moment of being whined at and simultaneously pooped on… again….) and let me live today while hoping tomorrow would be better because without choice I don’t think that’s possible.

I don’t have to be a mom if I don’t want to be.  And that’s part of what makes actually being one so amazing.

This Morning I Met a Princess. True Story.

This is my Phoenix dad, Lal.

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Lal and I met a few years ago right after Verona was born and he immediately declared that spiritually I have always been his daughter and he is my father, and I went with it because Lal is one of the coolest people ever, not to mention freaking adorable.

Some background: There is something about my very being that seems to attracted weird events to my life, and Lal is “that guy” who knows everybody, there is not a single person on this earth I would automatically assume doesn’t know this man… so, when Darla, Verona, and I skipped church to go to a Bahai/interfaith prayer service at Lal’s house this morning and he introduced us to Her Imperial Highness, Crown Princess of Laos I was only slightly surprised.

Lal and his wife Dheena with Her Royal Highness.  Photo courtesy of Lal's son.
Lal and his wife Dheena with Her Royal Highness. Photo courtesy of Lal’s son.

Darla and I were asked to sing… so yes, I have now preformed for royalty… and when we were done since everyone else was already deep in conversation we got to sit down with Her Highness for coffee and tea.  Darla and I enjoyed it (the princess, who’s actual name I can’t pronounce, is a ridiculously nice woman and we knew this would be a fun story to tell) but Verona, who is currently obsessed with all things princess, could hardly contain how excited she was to meet her.

So yeah, that was my weird story for the morning.