Posted in Lessons Learned, Mommyhood

Mom Mistakes and Consequences

Mom Mistakes… usually means I have a mess to clean up

I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the common mom (commom as I will call them) mistakes.

Ha! Famous last words, right?

Maybe the first mom mistake I’m guilty of is overconfidence. After a long weekend of travel with a 5YO and an even longer weekend of paying for my commom mistakes, I realized it’s time to ‘fess up.

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

There’s the common mom mistake of lying to your child. Since My Girl is adopted, The Husband and I established an all-honesty policy very early on. You can’t keep something like that a secret, even from a toddler and Honesty is the Best Policy. So when it comes to hard questions about babies growing in mommies’ bellies, we are all truthfulness.

In fact, I despise talking about Santa Claus with My Girl around Christmas time because I feel like I’m being dishonest. No judgements – I still do it. I don’t want My Girl to be that preschooler who has the entire classroom in tears because she’s explaining to the kids about the commercialism and materialism behind the lie that is Santa Claus. Because she would do it.

(I don’t pretend the Easter Bunny is real at all though. I’ll admit I have a slightly irrational fear of the Easter Bunny. He’s a giant, mutant rodent that sneaks into my house in the middle of the night. A bunny that lays eggs. A bunny that’s human-size. I don’t care if he’s leaving behind candy, I don’t want him anywhere near me.)

But after being honest about some real and tough issues, I let the white lies slip at times. My biggest one is Mommy Magic. The idea started when I shocked and amazed My Girl by turning on a touch-activated light.

Since then, I have used it to my advantage. “My Girl,” I say, “My Mommy Magic will go away if you don’t share some of that cookie with me… I’m feeling weak!”

Of course, Mommy Magic is mainly used to cure any major (in My Girl’s mind, anyways) injuries. I thought I had recently cemented her belief in my magic when we were riding in the backseat of the car. The Husband had locked her window so she couldn’t play with it. She asked me to put it down for her. I loudly claimed that I could use my Mommy Magic to roll the window down. Catching his cue, The Husband unlocked it for me so I could continue to trick her. Then he locked it again when she tried to roll the window back up. This went on for awhile. It’s a team effort to lie to My Girl.

My Girl in car
The car is the scene of the crime for many of my common mom mistakes. And still, we look so happy.

I was pretty proud of our craftiness, but then this weekend, as I was trying to use my Mommy Magic to cure a stubbed toe, My Girl said:

“You know, Momma, I’m just teasing when I say your Mommy Magic makes it all better.”

What?! When did she get to be so smart?

The unraveling of my white lie could have been much worse. It was actually without consequence for me. But it’s not always been so…

The Forbidden Fruit

I’ve been a firm believer in the common mom mistake of forbidding something. Once you put that black mark over it, it’s nothing if not enticing for the child. Exhibit A: Adam and Eve. ‘Nuf said, right?

Exhibit B: Underage Drinking. I saw it so often in college – the kids whose parents never, like never ever, let their children have a sip of alcohol. Those are the kids who would be on the table dancing ala Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You.

Not me. My parents were very open about drinking. We could have a sip now and then. As we reached older into teenager-hood, we could have a glass of wine or bottle of beer under their supervision. So when I attended my first college party and had a sip of the frat boy beer (though it was more closely related to dirty water from the Ganges than beer), my thought was: “No, not happening. I’ll just go home and get much better tasting stuff from my parents.”

So with that in mind, I made commom mistake #1. I forbid My Girl to have gum.

Forbid is kind of a strong word. There was no edict written in stone with a punishment akin to torture if gum was consumed. I just told her she was too little for gum at age five.

The other thing (as mentioned previously here) she is too young to call me Mom. I only answer to Momma and Mommy. So we have a running joke that when The Husband and I drop My Girl off for college, I will hand her a piece of gum as we leave and she may say: “Thank you, Mom.” (A first time for both.)

At least I thought it was a joke. Maybe My Girl thought it was a forbiddance of gum. So just like the alcohol-deprived college freshmen dancing to Pour Some Sugar on Me on the table at the frat party, My Girl went a little crazy when she had the freedom to try gum for the first time. (At least, The Husband and I hope it was gum… We are telling ourselves it was gum.)

We just know what the daycare teacher told us. My Girl picked up something extremely sticky and black from the ground, then stuck it in her mouth. When she took it out — I’m assuming because it tasted nasty! — she then stuck the “gum” in the most obvious place.

Her hair.

But she didn’t just get a wad of gum in her hair. She must have rubbed it on both of her hands like hair gel and run it through every strand on her head. Forgive me for envisioning the memorable There’s Something About Mary scene right now.

I will say this for The Husband – he was able to clean all of it without taking scissors to her hair. I would have started chopping from the beginning. I’m very happy I was still at work while this mess was being tended to.

Also, I don’t think I need to explain why My Girl is too little for gum.

Underestimation and Unbelief

But it was soon to be my turn to clean up a My Girl mess due to common mom mistake. I actually made two such mistakes this weekend. First, getting ready for the three and a half hour car ride to see The Sister – with a child who gets car sick on a regular basis – The Husband asked me if I needed to take the puke bucket.

“No,” I said. “Not necessary, because Grandma has one when we get to her house.”

She only lives 20 minutes away. No worries. Commom Mistake #1. Then 18 minutes later, My Girl told me she was sick.

Here’s come Commom Mistake #2. I didn’t believe her.

Instead of suffering from motion illness, I thought she was more likely suffering from the boy (or in this case, girl) who cried wolf syndrome.

She told me she was going to vomit, I told her she would be fine. She was right. I was not.

I was paying for an iced tea in the McDonald’s drive thru. As the cashier gave me my change, we both heard the telltale gagging sound. The cashier’s eyes widened and she quickly said, “Have a good day…” before slamming shut the drive-thru window.

I guess I was on my own… with a mess to clean up.

My Girl with new shirt
Another consequence of my common mom mistake. Yet again, I was unprepared for My Girl’s car sickness on our way to the zoo. Doesn’t her new shirt look nice? The old one found a new home in the trash.

Thank goodness for my freshmen residence assistant work experience, since this involved some hand to mess contact.

You know that place in the car seat where the seat belt comes up? Where there’s a small hole that collects broken crayons and missing Shopkins? That area that’s impossible to reach unless you squeeze your hand down there? Yep. The Shopkins in that little hole are not going back into My Girl’s toy chest – let’s just say that.

I’ll let you use your imagination as to how I got the puke out of there. It was unpleasant.

So my punishment is a car that smells strongly of the vinegar water I used to clean the seat. I just keep telling myself that it smells like Easter eggs. Fun, color-dyed Easter eggs. That’s a much better image.

Let’s just hope I’ve learned a lesson from my commom mistakes or I’ll have to get a stronger car freshner.

Posted in Mommyhood

Rent-a-Sibling or Uber Drivers

Here’s my million-dollar idea: libraries should allow you to check out a child like you do books.

Actually, I’m willing to rent a child. So Rent-A-Center, take note!

I’d like to check out a child for the week

Here’s the paradox of only childness: Vacations.

  1. Vacations are easier with only one child. The cost, of course, is the main factor. Surprisingly, it costs less to fly with only three people rather than four, or five, or heaven forbid if you’re The Sister, six. Who knew?
  2. Logistics are easier to coordinate. With one child, I don’t have to worry about renting a school bus to transport my brood of children from airport to hotel to vacation fun spot back to hotel. It’s just the three of us. We can even fit into a sports car.
  3. Child arguments are at a minimum, unless your husband bickers like a child… But that’s an issue for another blog.

But, vacations with only one child are a headache. If you have multiple children, you may take this for granted, but your kids entertain each other. A lot. Maybe that entertainment consists of “I’m not touching you, can’t get mad.” Or playing 50 Ways to Disagree About What Movie to Watch. Or just straight-up, sibling arguing.

But the children are busy. And entertained. And maybe even quiet when sulking from the loss of 50 Ways to Disagree About What Movie to Watch.

I am fully aware of how terrible this is going to sound. I love My Girl. Very very much. I love spending time with her. When it’s time to wake her up in the morning for school, I get excited because I miss her after the 10 hours she’s been in bed.

And I look forward to weekends with two uninterrupted days with My Girl. And then I look forward to going back to work on Monday mornings with a few hours of peace and quiet.

So, while vacations are great and spending that time with My Girl is great, I need a bit of a buffer. I need a distraction. I need a rent-a-sibling.

Just the three of us… Please no. Not on vacations.

The Husband and I have tried many different methods to ensure successful vacations. Often, we vacation with others – The Brother and his family, B. Swift and her family, Leslie Ann and her family, the Chandler/Monica clan, and most often my parents. Once we even brought a niece with us to act as a pseudo-sibling for My Girl. I think my niece missed the peace and quiet more than I did.

The Grandma/Papa Buffer

On our most recent vacation, we spent the week with my parents. As I’ve written before, my mom is My Girl’s person. She’s the favored playmate. She’s the confidant. She’s even a little bit of an instigator in some of My Girl’s schemes. So vacationing with my parents is a win-win for all.

Someday, though, even my parents are going to get worn out from My Girl’s endless energy.

And since I don’t think we can bribe my niece enough to join us on a trip again, we may need some new options.

Enter my million-dollar idea. But my messages to the local public library are going unanswered. Curious.

Luckily, My Girl has some ideas of her own that I saw put into action during our trip to San Diego.

Food Servers

My Girl is pretty outgoing, has never heard of the word “shy” and doesn’t understand the concept of stranger danger.

After 8 hours of travel on our first day, these characteristics of My Girl were put to good use.

In need of entertainment while we waited for our first and only meal of the day (unless you consider Starburst jelly beans and pistachios a meal – My Girl does; I do not), My Girl found a friend.

The young man serving our lunch… dinner… I’m not really sure what it was. The three-hour time change threw off my appetite.

My Girl – who insists on bringing a backpack full of toy animals when we drive to the grocery store – was in high form – impatient, energetic, hungry and loud. It didn’t take her long to complete the activities on the children’s menu, eat all the bread and start to annoy everyone at the table.

Draw a picture, I told her.

So she did, and then she gifted it to our server, because, in her words “he has a tough job and the only thing he gets is money.”

(She has yet to completely grasp the value of money.)

Of course, the server – who tragically has only received money in his days waiting tables – was thrilled with his picture. His reward was a free ice cream sundae.

My reward… 20 minutes of peace and quiet.

And with that, we stumbled on a way to keep My Girl occupied during our vacation.

Pay unwitting babysitters

Sure. We could have enticed a niece or friend. Of course. We could have paid through the nose to bring a babysitter or nanny. (For the record, we don’t have a nanny, but I’m sure we could have bribed someone one to help entertain My Girl for a week in San Diego). But why do those things where there are 1.4 million people in San Diego. And approximately 15,000 of those people are literally driving around the city looking to make a quick buck.

Uber drivers

My Girl vacation chill
Don’t let this chill, vacay pose fool you. My Girl keeps us on our toes on trips.

Yes. Uber drivers. Who needs to rent-a-sibling when we can get very pricey entertainment for My Girl every time we transport from place to place?

Ruby the Uber Driver

My Girl really took a liking to Ruby the Uber Driver. Maybe it’s because she was the only female driver we had during the week. But she spent the entire 30-minute drive telling Ruby jokes. Like this fun elephant series she learned from Papa:

Why do elephants wear red shoes? To hide in the strawberry patch.

Why do elephants wear blue shoes? Because his red ones are dirty. (Ruby, of course, fell for the obvious – to hide in the blueberry patch).

What do elephants do after 5 o’clock? Climb trees.

Why don’t you walk in the forest after 5 o’clock? Because the elephants jump out of trees.

Why does a beaver have a flat tail? Because it walked in the forest after 5 o’clock.

Yes. This went on and on and on. Ruby – the kind soul that she was – laughed and laughed and laughed.

She finally rounded out this babysitting adventure… I mean Uber ride… with her own joke:

What do you call a cow with no legs? Ground beef.

(Fast forward to the next day, and My Girl shared this joke – and many more – with the owners of the BBQ place that served us dinner. Just making friends wherever she goes…)

Elderly Maniac Driver

On our way home from San Diego Safari Park and nice 80-something year old driver picked us up. My Girl was eager to make a new friend, but the man was distracting in his own way.

He was an absolute terror behind the wheel.

My Girl was horrified by his interstate driving and spent the drive wide-eyed and mouth hanging open.

It was an expensive drive from Escondido back to our VRBO in San Diego. Worth every penny though.

Andy And Then

Not every Uber driver was a qualified My Girl entertainer. Andy drove us to the zoo, which of course, My Girl was absolutely thrilled about.

During the drive, she tried to get everyone – Andy included – involved in her game “And Then.”

This game is thanks to Leslie Ann and her family. We start telling a made-up story and then pass the plot line to the next player with the “and then” lob.

For example, I started off: “There was once a girl named Crystal who grew up in San Diego. Every day after school, she walked home. But she would stop and sit underneath her favorite palm tree. And then…”

Then My Girl would pick the strand with something about a talking animal… or a unicorn… or a talking unicorn. You get the idea.

Apparently, Andy did not get the idea. He would not participate, much to My Girl’s disappointment.

But, he did offer us his sympathy as we finally arrived at the zoo. “Good luck,” he said with a chuckle as we unloaded from his mini-van.

Matthew Who Knows Too Much

I was ready for our trip to come to an end and for our experiment with Uber Drivers to wrap up by the time we rode with Matthew Who Knows Too Much.

Matthew was fascinated by My Girl, and My Girl fed off his attention.

As soon as the car started moving, My Girl started in: “Where were you born?”

The girl didn’t even offer to buy him a drink before diving right into the deep questions. Matthew played along.

Then he was well awarded with the birth place of every passenger in the car – My Girl’s, mine, The Husband’s and both my parents’. This was followed by any random fact My Girl knew about me.

“I know a lot about my momma… because she’s my momma,” she told him.

And now, Matthew knows a lot about me.

I think it’s time to go home and continue stuffing full our library’s suggestion box full of my million-dollar idea.

Posted in Mommyhood

A Lesson in Love

Boys, Big Days and Big Deals

My Girl and Jane were whispering with giddy smiles when I came home Monday.

The Husband rolled his eyes and said, “I can’t handle this.”

That’s when I knew.


The subject du jour was boys.

Ok. My Girl is 9 years old. 9 years old. It’s too soon for boys, right?

Sadly, I’ve had this feeling for some time. My Girl is going to be boy crazy. That much was obvious when she told me she fell in love in first grade. That first attempt at love ended in heartbreak for My Girl (see here), but she’s not one to stay down when thrown off a horse.

Literally. She’s been thrown off a horse twice and she’s still eager for horseback riding lessons every Tuesday.

So, here enters her third-grade crush.

Her boy may be better than my boy

I have yet to meet this boy, though I saw him once for just an instant. Here’s what I know: he’s the new kid in town, moved here from California (she goes for the exotic type… can’t blame her there, though I’m more partial to Australia than California); he’s the cousin of a very nice girl in her class that we’ve known for a few years; and on a scale of one to ten – one being a trouble maker and ten being a “role model kid” (My Girl’s code for goody-two-shoes), this boy is an 8 (My Girl did the scoring).

All in all, I have to say I approve.

Oh, and this boy is apparently very generous. Over the last two months, My Girl has come home with the following evidence of his infatuation: a dragon keychain, a purple gemstone, a squishy loaf of bread that I suspect is actually a dog toy, and three Pokemon cards.

While that seems like a scarce and odd bit of gifts from a suitor, take into account that my birthday present from The Husband (a girls’ weekend in Arizona with Leslie Ann) was cancelled by the stupid ‘Rona and not replaced. My Girl is actually making out better than me this year.

I’m not bitter.

My Girl, her boy and the “big day”

So that brings me to the scene coming home from work. Third Grade Suitor had given My Girl the above mentioned crystal. And My Girl and Jane were in raptures.

They also realized that My Girl is woefully behind in proving her affection, so she needed to do something big.

So the two plotted out My Girl’s “Big Day.”

Yes, they called it her “Big Day.” As in telling The Husband, he didn’t understand but they needed to prepare for the “big day.” Or as in, My Girl shouldn’t have to help with the dishes because we know that tomorrow is a “big day” for her.

The drama is strong with this one.

So My Girl and Jane spent the afternoon preparing an outfit (frilly dress from H&M, gemstone headband and choker necklace), the gift (a seashell from our recent trip to San Diego), a checklist for the morning (so My Girl wouldn’t forget any of their preparations) and a script (in case My Girl was nervous when presenting her token of love).

I believe it was at this point when The Husband realized he “can’t handle this.”

Dear, I hate to break it to you, but this is just the beginning.

Luckily, I have a back-up plan for when things get worse in regards to My Girl’s love life. Her beautiful Aunt Penny knows boy crazy more than anyone else in our family. Somehow the fertility gods didn’t see fit to bless her with any girls yet – just two boys – so I’m going to ship My Girl her way when the boy fever takes over. I’m pretty sure Penny has it coming.

After an afternoon of preparation, My Girl was ready for her big day.

The “Big Day” gets real

That morning, she got up early. There was no argument over her outfit since it had been carefully laid out the night before.

There was a slight argument over shoes since My Girl needed something “fancy.” I gave up on fancy shoes ages ago when I realized My Girl will only wear variations of cowgirl boots. We have play cowgirl boots, fancy cowgirl boots, colorful cowgirl boots (which are really just rain boots with polka dots) and warm cowgirl boots (which are snow boots, but I’ll do what it takes to get a pair of shoes on her feet)

There was a plea to “order some on Amazon” but even my trusty Amazon app can’t deliver in 20 minutes… though I just came up with a great commercial idea for Jeff Bezo when he launches his drone delivery…

The biggest disappointment though was that My Girl forgot to paint her nails the night before. It must not have made it on the checklist.

I told her I would paint them if, and only if, she was ready for school with at least 20 minutes to spare.

Guess what?

I painted her nails. Red and pink alternating with sparkles.

Hmmm… Remember my morning struggles (if you don’t, you can refresh your memory here)? It never occurred to me to invoke her boy craziness to get her out of the door on time.

The most surprising thing wasn’t that My Girl was ready early. It’s rare, but it does happen. But I reminded her that she needs to sit still to allow her nails to dry – thus why she never lets me paint them. Her response?

“He’s worth sitting still.”

If that’s not the next blockbuster chick flick line, I don’t know what is. Put that up there with “You had me at hello” and “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”

And if that wasn’t enough to prove how serious she was, she even let me paint her thumb nails. My Girl NEVER lets me paint her thumb nails because the nail polish comes off in her mouth when sucking her thumb.

When I asked her about it, she said she didn’t want Third Grade Suitor to know she sucks her thumb.

Here’s where I had to fight my feminist ideals with my motherly desires. The feminist in me wanted to stop My Girl right then and there and tell her she doesn’t need to change anything about herself for a boy.

But the motherly desire wants My Girl to stop sucking her thumb. Right now. No, yesterday. No nine years ago.

Can you take a stab at which one won out?

My Girl with painted fingernails
Isn’t she beautiful? What boy wouldn’t notice her?

A lesson on the “Big Day”

So while I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to teach My Girl about self love and confidence in herself (after all, I’m just the World’s Okayest Mom), I did figure this would still turn into a chance to learn something about love.

“Let me tell you something about boys,” I told her, as she put on the finishing touches of her special outfit – “perfume” aka body spray from Bath and Body Works. “They don’t always notice things that are important to us. Sometimes you’ll look really nice, and they won’t notice.”

Then, as I continued to think about my own experiences. “And then sometimes when you don’t look very nice, they do notice.”

Bottom line: Don’t be disappointed if this nine-year-old boy doesn’t know the difference between My Girl’s normal hair style and today’s style where she “brushed it extra good.”

The Husband had the same thought, because as we were walking out the door, he told her, “Let me tell you a secret. Boys don’t pay attention.”

Amen, Brother.

So My Girl headed out the door – ready to face her new love. She had on her pretty dress, extra brushed hair, painted nails, perfume, the seashell to present, and her cleanest cowgirl boots (our compromise since I convinced her Amazon couldn’t make the emergency delivery).

We even practiced what she was going to say when giving the seashell on the way to school.

(Because My Girl and Jane are just the cutest pair, they had scripted it out the night before. Jane was shocked My Girl didn’t bring the notecards with her, but My Girl shrewdly thought that might look weird.)

Making her Big Day a big deal

I know The Husband – and probably some of you readers – wondered why I let My Girl go through so much trouble. Why did I take her so seriously? Why did I make myself late for work to paint her nails and even allow a teeny bit of make up (highlighter on her cheeks) on my little girl?

Because this was a big deal to her.

No, this wasn’t a big deal to me. But to her, today, this was everything.

And if I don’t support her in this boy drama, will she ever trust me with real boy issues?

I’m resolved that My Girl may be just a wee bit boy crazy. I don’t know exactly how to deal with that and I don’t think there’s any stopping it. So I guess I’ll just make sure I’m there next to her for the ride.

And part of that is being there when the ride breaks down. Or when she breaks down.

That was my expectation when she came home from school after her “big day.” I expected tears and heartbreak and a boy who didn’t notice how special My Girl is.

Instead, she came home with more gifts from her admirer.

So much for teaching her a lesson in love.

I think My Girl may have better luck in love than I do…