Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lost and found

Girl:  Mom, have you ever lost one of us?
Me:   Yeah, that one time.  I'm sure you remember.
Girl:  You mean at Opening Day for baseball?
Me:   Okay, so just the 2 times, then.
Girl:  Oh, yeah, when the police came.

Ah, toddler memories.  I thought I'd pull this one from the archives of Yeah, So That Happened, and share it.  

One day, a friend was visiting.  The Boy child was 5, the Girl was 2, and my friend had a 2-year-old son, also. She and I were chatting as she was getting ready to leave.  I unlocked the front door, but then we got sidetracked with talking.  We stood there a while, then we made our way back into the kitchen for something.  We headed back to the front door, and she called for her son.  We heard no answer, and no pitter-patter of little feet.  Come to think of it, things had been awfully quiet.

Where were the toddlers?  We called their names, and they didn’t answer.  We looked in all the rooms - no joy.  We asked the Boy, who was in his room, if he’d seen them, and he just shrugged.
I checked the back yard.  We had a hot tub, and it was covered.  Feeling serious heart-in-my-throat dread, I lifted the cover of the hot tub, willing it to be empty.  Mercifully, it was.

We went out front, where there were some older neighborhood kids playing nearby.  We asked, Did you see two little kids come outside from here? 

Yeah, I think so. 
Where did they go?
I think they went that way. 

They pointed down the block vaguely.  There were no toddlers in sight. 

Shit.  Panic began to set in.  Did I mention that the friend was 8 months pregnant?  So, her hormones – combined with her already slightly high-strung personality – took over, and she pretty much freaked the hell out.  She told me to stay at the house in case they came back, and she took off in the direction indicated by the neighbor kids.  Took off – all 4’11” of her, with her 8 months pregnant bulk, took off running around the block, calling their names.

She didn’t find them.  I panic more subtly, so I was coming unglued, only just on the inside.  I called 911.  We’ve got 2 missing toddlers.  Neighbor kids said they saw them come out of the house and go down the street.  We can’t find them.  Please come. 

Four cop cars showed up.  They dispersed and started combing the neighborhood while a couple of them stayed at the house with us.  I thought my friend was going to go into labor.  The officers tried to calm her down and ask questions.  One of them started searching the house.  He was opening kitchen cabinets and closets, pulling out their contents… I managed to be mortified by the state of my house while my daughter was missing.  The mind is funny like that. 

While they searched the rest of the house, I went to our master bedroom.  I’d already checked the room and the bathroom, but we have a large walk-in closet in the bathroom.  I decided to double check. 
I opened the door, turned on the light, swept the contents with a quick once-over, and saw nothing that remotely looked like a toddler.  I was about to shut the door, and -

A whisper.  And then a giggle. 


Oh, God.  I tried to hide my mortification as I marched them out so that I could tell the nice officers that they could stop turning my house upside down. 

Yes, sir, we should’ve checked the closets.  We checked the rooms.  We called their names.  The kids outside said… No, you’re right.  I’m very sorry we caused such a fuss.  Yes, I’ll make sure she’s not in labor before she leaves.  Thank you so much for your help and for not calling CPS because we can’t keep track of our kids.  

After we said goodbye to half of the local police force (it must've been a slow day, because more had shown up by the time we went back outside to see them off), we had a stern talk with the young ones.  

Why did you do that?  

We were hiding.  You were s'pose to find us.  

So, the moral of the story, if there is one?  Never underestimate a toddler's desire to play hide and seek.  Seriously.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mama Bear

My kids get on my nerves.

There, see?  I'm the first one to admit it.  I'm sarcastic and dismissive and blunt, and I don't go running every time someone cries.  I don't jump up to console, and more often than not my response to injury or whining or sibling rivalry is... Get over it.  Suck it up.  You're gonna be fine.  
There is an argument to be made that I'm perhaps a little too dispassionate.  My outlook, though, harkens back to the babyhood days, when something would happen and they would look to me as a frame of reference for their feelings.  If I gasped and said, Oh, no!, they would decide that it was time to cry and be upset.  If I smiled and said brightly, You're okay!, they would calm down and it would become a non-issue.

That doesn't make me cold, it just makes me a mom that wants her kids to shrug off the small stuff and bounce back from the minor slights and injuries of life.  Look, I know you fell and got a bruise, but you don't need me to kiss it and make it better.  You're not bleeding.  Okay, maybe you're bleeding a little, but we'll deal with it, you'll get a bandage, whatever.  You want to play and have fun? You're gonna get some scrapes and bruises every now and then.  Acceptable risk, kiddo.  If I took the time to worry about all of your scrapes and bruises, you'd end up living in a bubble like John Travolta in that movie or walking around in a padded suit and headgear.  

Of course, I won't say this attitude has never lead me astray.  When The Boy was in preschool, he complained of a sore foot.  He never complained to me, though.  Complaints were made where maximum reaction would be gained: Grandma.  She relayed said complaints to me, I shrugged them off, and he continued to complain only to her.  This went on for a few weeks, at which point I said with exasperation, There's nothing wrong with his foot!  He's walking, running, playing, and he never says a word to me about it!  So, he started telling me about it.  With resignation, I took him to the foot doctor.  He had a stress fracture in his foot.  He was in a boot for several weeks and then, when the boot didn't help, a full on cast for 6 weeks after that.  (I'll leave to your imagination what a cast on a 5 year old boy smells like after 6 weeks.  I still shudder at the memory.)

Now, every time something happens, I'm reminded:  Remember when my foot was broken and you didn't believe me??  Oy.

We took that little walk down the garden path of my mothering philosophy so that you will know that I'm not one of those mamas.  I don't mollycoddle.  (Isn't that a fun word?  Mollycoddle.)  It's fine if you are one of them.  No worries; I will only judge you silently.

Every mama has her limit though, even those of us that can be seemingly harsh and unsympathetic.  Mine is reached when my kids are ostracized, excluded, or ridiculed.  I go from zero to show-me-which-one-he-is-so-I-can-punch-him-in-the-throat in 0.27 seconds.

Maybe it's that those painful days of childhood are never too far below the surface for me.  I remember what it feels like to wonder where I belonged, to feel unsure of myself and left out.  My response to those feelings was to try to be invisible.  I didn't raise my hand in class, I wasn't involved in many school activities, and I spent most of my time hoping no one would notice me at all.  Better to be overlooked than to be judged and found to be lacking in some essential way, at least that's how I felt.  It took me a long time and more than a little therapy to realize that what other people think of me is none of my business.  Most days I still need to remind myself.

But these kids of mine... They are so brave.  They are so confident and genuine, and they put themselves out there all the time.  They go out of their way to make friends, to interact, and to be inclusive.  I find myself watching them and wishing that I had had the courage to be myself so authentically when I was their ages.

When The Boy was younger, he would refer to kids he just met as my new friend before he ever learned their names.  The Girl is a little bit more reserved, but only out of mild shyness.  At a recent party where there was only one other child present, a little girl a bit younger, The Girl whispered in my ear, Do you think she would want to play with me?  Should I go ask?  I said it was a great idea, she did, and a few minutes later they were on a porch swing, swinging and chattering away like old friends.

Wouldn't it be nice if all kids were so eager to befriend each other?

The Boy went out to play last week.  He came home upset because he went to a "friend's" house where some neighborhood boys his age were hanging out, and when they saw him coming they said, Uh oh, better hide, here comes Fat Boy!  Then, they ran off and hid from him.  He came home crestfallen and fighting back tears.  I could tell he didn't want to tell me, but I managed to get it out of him.  I could see the hurt and shame on his face.

He just wants some friends.  He just wants to fit in and be included.  It's so hard to offer him advice on how to make friends; how do you say, Just be yourself, when that's what he's been doing all along?

Little girls are mean in a different way.  They'll be friends, and everything will be fine until one day, for no reason at all, they just decide they're not going to be friends.  I don't want play with you today.  I play with you all the time.  And with that, they walk away and leave their "friend" sitting on a curb wondering what she did wrong and why she's sitting all alone at recess.  Then, the very same day, one of them shows up at her door, asking if she can play.  My Girl doesn't hold a grudge, either.  Never mind that she was hurt by her friend that day; she welcomed her into her room and was so excited to see her.  I wanted to say, Wait a minute, be mad at her!  Don't just let her get away with making you feel that way.  But I don't want to teach hostility and resentment; forgiveness comes naturally to her, and I'm not going to take that away.  So, I hold my tongue and let her be who she is.

I try to explain to them that when people say hurtful things, it's because they're hurting on the inside and don't know what to do with it.  

The Girl was in cheerleading last fall, and another little girl on her squad was blatantly mean to her.  She would say, I don't like you, to her all the time.  It was really bothering my poor sensitive Girl that just wants to be friends with everyone.  I told her that the little girl was probably just really worried that no one wanted to be friends with her, and so she was saying that to hide her feelings.  I told her that the next time she said that, she should say, That's okay, you don't have to like me, but I like you.  And then smile and walk away.  She did it, and within 2 days the little girl told her they were friends.  Sometimes it doesn't hurt to kill them with kindness.  

The Boy brought home his school photo yesterday.  I looked at it and proclaimed that it was a very handsome likeness.  He said, Really? They said I looked gay.  This filled me with rage on so many levels.  Who said that?  He said, On the bus, they said that when I showed them.  

He doesn't know how to "be cool," this son of mine.  He wants to be cool, make no mistake... He wants it desperately.  He's too busy being himself, though.  He got his pictures back, and he wanted to show them off.  It didn't occur to him that the other middle schoolers now considered themselves above such things as showing off photos.  He does not even begin to grasp the level of aloofness and standoffishness that would make him a "cool" middle schooler.  And here's the part that breaks my heart: If I teach him what it takes to fit in, I'm telling him to be someone else entirely, and I'm telling him it's okay to lose a piece of himself for the sake of conformity.  If I tell him to just be himself, he's going to be a lonely kid for several more years until the kids around him grow out of the strange affectations of adolescence.

What's a Mama Bear to do?

And so, I tell them that I'm proud of them.  I talk about their strengths and weaknesses frankly and in a way that makes them understand that I see them, with all of their blessings and their fascinating quirks, and I love who they are.  I try to teach them to value themselves, because no one can love you when you don't love yourself, right?

And of course, I resist the urge to knock on the doors of all the other parents that appear to have heir heads in their asses when it comes to seeing how their children are treating other kids, and I don't say, Hey, your kid's an asshole, try to teach him how to be a real person before he grows up, m'kay? because maybe they're just like me, and they're still just trying to figure it all out.

This adolescence thing...?  It sucks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

You're there... ALL. THE. TIME.

When I'm playing "getting to know you" with someone new, it usually goes like this:

Where do you work?
I work from home.  
Oh, yes, of course.  Moms have the hardest job of all, don't they? Mothering is a full time career!
Well, yes, that too, but I actually work from home also.  Like, a job.  With a paycheck.  
Oh, really?  That's neat.  What do you do?
Our company does the mystery shopping for [insert major burger chain here].  
Oh, you're a mystery shopper?  How do you know that's not, like, a scam or something?
No, actually, I handle the survey end from the shopper, then I make it nice and send it to the client.  It's not a scam...  We've been in business for about 20 years.
Oh, well that's so interesting.  So you get to work from home?  You're so lucky!  

I've heard this more times than I can count.  It's true, mostly.  Except when it sucks.  Don't get me wrong... I wouldn't trade my living room couch for an office.  But still...

Things you don't have to deal when you go to the office:
  • You do not have to look at your mountains of laundry in various stages of completion every time you get up to go the bathroom.
  • Your children don't leave their things strewn all over your workspace.
  • You don't have to stop and wonder when the last time you showered was (hopefully).
  • Others don't assume you can leave work at a moment's notice to go to lunch, run errands, etc. 
  • Your kids don't hang out in your office and turn the TV up too loud. 
  • Your kids don't bring their friends to your office to play.
  • When you're on a work call, you don't have to worry about your dogs barking, your doorbell ringing, or your kids yelling Moooooooooooooom! because they don't know (or don't care) that you're on the phone.
  • When it's quitting time, you get to go home and leave your work at work. 
  •  Being sick isn't much of an excuse for not working. You're going to be hanging out on the couch either way, right? 
There are some pretty cool things about working from home, but I'm sure you can already guess those things.  I don't have to tell you about how there's no commute, about how I can wear my PJs to work, or about how much money I save on daycare...  Those are some very attractive perks.  All I'm saying is, it's not for everyone.
Recent convo with The Hubs:  
Him: We shouldn't have to spend the weekends doing laundry.
Me: When do you expect to do get it done if we're never at home? 
Him: You're there... ALL. THE. TIME. 
I'd like to fill you in on the rest of the conversation, but my head exploded shortly thereafter.  
If you're not able to close your eyes to the chaos around you, then working from home may not be for you.

If you not able to totally ignore chores that need to be done,  then working from home may not be for you.

If you're not able to concentrate on evaluations while the kids blare Hey, Jesse!,  then working from home may not be for you.

If you're not able to set appropriate boundaries between work and home time, then working from home may not be for you.

If you like to be showered and presentable every day, then working from home may not be for you.


If you like being at home when your kids get out of school (so that they can be very excited to see you for 5 minutes and then go to their rooms and ignore you),

Or if you like watching TV on a 65" screen while you work,

Or if you like having your own kitchen at your disposal at lunch time,

Or, if you like not spending $4/gal to get to work,

OR... if you like wallowing in your own filth as long as it means that you get to be away from people and soak up the silence when they all go to work and school and leave you in peace for about 7 hours a day...

Maybe you should look into it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The art of cursing: a parenting experiment

I'm climbing way down off my high horse after the previous post.  Yes, panties got twisted about it.  I knew they would.  And yet, the truth shall set you free (even though it will piss you off first, remember?), and I will speak my truth.  So, anyway...for now, lets move on to a more compelling topic.  Be prepared to judge me, but try to maintain an open mind and hear me out...

A few months ago, I was asked a question by my children that I did not know how to answer.

 Mom, how come poop is okay to say, crap is okay but not very polite, and the S word is a bad word and not okay to say?  They all mean the same thing, right?  

Well... Yes.  They do.  As someone who is not easily offended by profanity, I was briefly stumped.

When The Boy was a toddler, if you asked him why, and he didn't know the answer, his answer was always:  Because yeah.  Without further explanation from his 3 year old self, we interpreted his answer to mean: Because it is what it is.  No need to question the universe further.  That's just the way it is.  It became a commonly used phrase in our household.  It's a very useful term.

So, as the kids posed this question to me, the only immediate answer I could think of was... Because yeah.  That's just the way it is, folks.  I thought about talking about societal norms and connotation and other things, but the more I pondered the question, the more thoughtful I became on the subject.

Words are just words until we give them power.  In making certain words more powerful by prohibiting them, we're creating an environment in which it becomes more compelling to use those taboo words.

I remember middle school, though not fondly. The curses start flowing freely about that time as these young ones begin to explore their individuality and try to separate themselves from childhood and its restrictions.  Being the mother of a middle schooler, I could do my best to muzzle his mouth when he's around me, enforcing rules on appropriate language usage, and then cringe to imagine what he's saying when I'm not around.  Because make no mistake; he will be saying things.

I couldn't help but make the leap of thought from this subject to another important subject that looms on the parenting horizon: sex.  My studies in maternal and child health have more than adequately illustrated the futility of abstinence-only sex education.  Telling them simply not to do something is rarely the answer.

Perpetuating the rule against childhood cursing seemed, to me, akin to teaching abstinence to teenagers: a good idea, in theory, but counterproductive in practice.  I came to the conclusion that teaching acceptable boundaries when cursing would be far more beneficial than teaching them to keep their mouths shut (until they're behind my back, of course).

I've been known to utter expletives from time to time.  I even have a certain fondness for a few choice words.  However, there is an art to profanity.  A well placed curse can highlight or clarify a point, convey a strong emotion, or provide a little levity.  Indiscriminate cursing is a different story, though; it shows a lack of imagination and self control, and it conveys a sense of low intelligence.  I realized that, as a parent, I have the opportunity to provide some guidance if I can keep an open mind and think outside the box on this issue.

Thus, I lifted the ban on "bad" language.  The rules were these:

1) Say what you want to say at home.  I'll let you know when you cross a line.
2) Follow the laws of the land when you're away from home.  Cursing will still buy you trouble elsewhere, and saying 'My mama lets me' will not be a valid defense... not at school, and certainly not with your grandparents, aunts and uncles, or other kids' parents.

Before you shake your head in disgust, bear with me for a few more minutes.  I know what you're thinking:  It's a respect issue.  Right?  It's disrespectful for children to curse around adults.  Only if the adult finds it offensive, though.

As adults, we have to use our best judgment when it comes to cursing.  We have free will and the right to free speech.  Still, we must learn when to moderate ourselves.  Sure, there are some of us that choose not to curse at all.  For the rest of us, though, we use situational awareness, judgment, and common sense to know when it's okay to drop an F bomb and when it's not.  We may or may not work in an environment where a few curse words are acceptable or overlooked.  We don't go around cursing at store clerks or bank tellers, at police officers or our kids' teachers.  (Well, okay, some do.)  As a whole, though, cursing as an adult is acceptable, but there is a time and a place.

That's what I'm endeavoring to teach them.  It is an exercise in good judgment.  If one of them says  dammit when they smash their elbow into a wall, I couldn't care less.  If they tell me to fuck off, we're gonna have a problem.  If name calling ensues, we're going to have a discussion about respect.  If they want to sing along to one of my new favorite songs, F**king Perfect, by P!nk... sing it.  The message of the song far outweighs the concern over word usage.  True to my word, they don't get in trouble if they cross a line; they get a warning from me that indicates it was too much.  Dial it back.  Inappropriate to say to your Mom.  Consider your audience.  This is the kind of feedback I provide.  If it were to continue beyond my mild reproach, then I would consider consequences.  Surprisingly, though... it doesn't.  They take my advice to heart.  They strive to understand their boundaries and stay within them.

Because The Boy is a middle schooler, he naturally pushes the envelope further.  The Girl is less interested.  She does like to belt out some P!nk, but she prefers not to use "bad" words.  He likes to let out a string of curse words just to see if he can.  It makes me cringe sometimes, to be honest.  It's not anything risqué though; there's a certain earnestness to it.  I can tell that he's just trying to shake the role of child and be more grown up.

My heart twinges with empathy for him.  I cannot let him make most of the decisions he wants to make.  I'm still in charge of what he does, where he goes, what he wears to school, what he eats... none of that can be up to him yet, even though he wants so badly to assert some control over his world.  I can give him words, though.  I can let him explore the power of words and the consequences of his own choices when it comes to words.  I can give him that much trust and responsibility.  After all, I'm going to be to trusting him behind the wheel of a car in a few short years, right?  We've gotta start somewhere...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Shame on you

I am truly baffled by women that take time and energy to speak out against a contraception mandate and the woman that was brave enough to speak in favor of it.

A contraception mandate helps to empower women to make their own choices rather than interfering with their rights.  Lacking adequate contraception coverage, sometimes a woman’s choice is made for her.

When I was 20 years old, I was living with my then boyfriend (now husband of 11 years) with no immediate plans for marriage or children.  My insurance covered birth control, and I took it.  I didn’t know myself well enough back then to know that a daily pill was not going to cut it for me; I just couldn’t remember to take it.  My intentions were good, but, due to my absentminded forgetfulness (and maybe a little nudge from God, because who knows, really?), I found myself pregnant at age 20. 

We’ve always told him that he was a happy surprise, not an accident.  The truth is, though, that he was the result of either divine intervention or his mother’s inability to remember to pop a pill combined with his father’s extreme dislike of other prophylactics. 

After he was born, I decided I wasn’t going to have another baby right away.  I certainly wasn’t going to rely on pills again, though.  As a young newlywed, I wasn’t going to practice abstinence, either.  So, there had to be a better solution.  I decided on an IUD, but my insurance didn’t cover it.  It was $600 for the device.  Pills were about $30 per month or $360 per year.  The IUD was $600 but was good for 5 years, so it was about $50 per year.  It didn’t make sense that they wouldn’t cover it.  It was cheaper than pills!  It was more effective, statistically, than pills or condoms!  And certainly it was much cheaper than what the insurance company would pay out in health care costs for another birth resulting in a failed attempt at birth control. 

If I couldn’t pony up the $600, though, I would have to rely on less successful methods of birth control.  Reproductive freedom doesn’t exist if your choices are being controlled, or even influenced by, your health insurance company.

Luckily, we found a way to make it work.  Sadly, not everyone can scrape together the necessary funds, and what may seem like nothing to one family can be too big of a burden to bear for another.
I wanted contraceptive coverage that fit my needs to be covered by my health insurance company.  Based on Rush Limbaugh’s logic, that made me a slut.  Right?  I wanted to be paid to have sex with my husband.  Does this truly make sense to anyone??

The second part that makes no sense to me is that by all accounts this Fluke woman was testifying to the importance of private plans covering contraception, not taxpayers.  But… enter the conservative spin-doctors; they know you’ll get more upset about this issue if it’s about taxpayer money, so off they go with rants about tax money paying for sex, about having rights to the videos of that sex because they’re funding it…

How disgusting. 

Ladies… seriously? 

You put the red the Kool-Aid down for a moment, and yes, I’ll put the blue Kool-Aid down, and lets forget about conservatives and liberals.  Lets take a moment to be women that have our own best interests at heart. 

Be a college student with PCOS that needs birth control pills to help with your condition…

Be a young mother that has a right to be intimate with your husband without making a baby every time…

Be a cancer survivor that understands the importance of reproductive freedom on a larger scale; after all, you had to make the hardest choice of all.  When an unexpected post-cancer pregnancy threatened to take you away from your young children, you exercised your right to choose, and you chose life.   Yours.  Thank God for that, and thank God there are people out there standing up for that right, even as others wrap themselves in the flag, hold up the Bible, and denounce women that exercise their right to choose.
Be Sandra Fluke…  a law student and women's rights activist who, for five years, worked for a nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence, a woman who co-founded an organization that successfully advocated for legislation that helps unmarried victims of domestic violence get protection from their abusers, a woman who has been a member of numerous New York City and State coalitions that successfully advocated for policy improvements impacting victims of domestic violence, a woman who continues to work on issues that involve domestic violence and also human trafficking.

All I’m saying is… Stand up with women and say this is not okay.  I don’t care who you vote for or what your religion is.  Calling a woman that is standing up for women everywhere a slut is not okay.  Defending the misogynistic asshats that perpetuate the subjugation of women by denigrating us with these vile messages of hate is not okay. 

Shame on you.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I love the sound of breaking glass in the morning...

5:35am:  Alarm goes off.  Time to go running.  Husband doesn't budge.  I go back to sleep.

6:00am:  Husband's alarm goes off.  He wonders why we didn't get up to go running.

6:15am:  The Girl comes in.  "I don't have any pants."  Pants are wet in the washer.

6:20am:  The Hubs clothes in the dryer are also wet.  "Great, now I don't have anything to wear to work."  Well, that didn't seem to bother you when you went to bed without switching your clothes over.  Sorry I forgot to hit start.  My bad.  

6:30am: "MOM!!!! STOP BRUSHING SO HARD!!!!!"  Okay then.  I'm done.  "NO YOU'RE NOT!  FINISH MY HAIR!!!!!!!!!!"  Yeah, that always works, right?

6:35am:  Receive email from employee: "Is the server down?  Can't log in for work..."  Great.

6:36am: "Mom, can you iron my shirt?" Is it clean?  "Yes."  Are you sure?  "Yes."

6:37am:  Find food stuck to collar of shirt.  Pick out new shirt for picture day.

6:45am:  "I'm not wearing that shirt for picture day!" Then you should've picked out a clean one yourself. Wear this one.  "NO!!"

6:49am:  Confirmation that databases are offline.  And are not supposed to be.  Fantastic.

6:50am:  While trying to get cup for coffee, am obstructed by shirtless Boy making coffee.  Why are you making coffee?  "Dad said I could."  Try to fetch my cup out of the dishwasher and scoot The Hubs back out of the way while saying Excuse me, hon...  He throws peanut butter covered knife across counter and stalks out of kitchen.  My coffee cup is not even in dishwasher.  Sigh. 

7:00am:  The Boy crying pathetically for some reason.  Tell him to shut it.  He stalks off to room and throws something.  Crash.  Apples don't fall far from trees around here.  Comes back in wide eyed shock: "My window just broke!"

7:05am:  Making lunches.  Harassing The Boy about breaking his window: All this over a shirt??  "No!  I wasn't mad about the shirt.  I was mad because you gave Grace my coffee!!!"  I gave Grace half of your coffee.  "What??  Oh.  I thought you gave it all to her.  Sorry."

7:07am:  Bus alarm goes off, time for Girl to go.  Girl: "MOM!  Cole won't let me have the toothpaste!"

7:09am:  Are you gonna miss the bus, Grace?  "Can you drive me?"  Find your Dad, I need his car keys, he's parked behind me.  

7:10am:  The Girl opens The Boy's bedroom door.  Boy screams: "Get out!!!"  Girl says: "Found him. He's fixing the window."  Get his keys!  "Cole won't let me."

7:13am:  Catch the bus coming back around on its way out, driver stops and picks up Girl.

7:15am:  Finally get coffee.

7:18am:  Is this your picture money on the counter?  Didn't I hand this to you last night and say PUT THIS IN YOUR BACKPACK??  "Sorry, I forgot."

7:20am:  No, you're not putting your hair in a faux hawk for pictures.  

7:25am:  No, you not slicking it down, either.  Can you just look how you normally look?? 

7:30am:  "Bye Mom and Dad, going to the bus!"  Thank God.  I mean, Bye, sweetie, I love you!  Have a great day!!

8:04am:  Work is back up.  Maybe the madness has run its course for the morning.  

8:32am:  Rrrrriiiiiiinnnnng.  Caller ID says it's The Boy's school.  Sigh.  "Hi, Mom.  I forgot my picture money."  Are you KIDDING me?!  "Can you bring it to me?"