Because, snacks.

Even though my boys are 13 and 8, most of the time I go grocery shopping without them, because, well, it’s just less stressful that way. However, if they do have to go with me, I make sure to fill them up with snacks before we go into the store, which usually means rummaging under the seats of the car to see if there are any old granola bars or maybe some peanuts or dried bananas leftover from trail mix. If they don’t have something to eat before grocery shopping, we become the owners of aisle five.

When they were younger, something mysterious would happen as soon as they walked through the threshold of the automatic doors. In those short steps, they would become whiny, irrational, obnoxious little beings.

Sometimes random items would appear in my cart. Organic blueberry pop tarts? (Where did these come from? We get the regular kind.) Reese cups? (Once these entered the cart, I couldn’t put them back on the shelf because of my own addiction.) Depends? (Who needs these? No one, yet.) My boys made it a game to put random items in the cart just to annoy me. They thought they were funny. How embarrassing to have to say, “Oh we didn’t need this, nor this, how the hell did this get in here? I’m so sorry…” to the cashier as the items floated through the conveyer belt.

If we went to a store where there were, god forbid, samples, my kids would tear off in opposite directions and fill up on turkey, cheese, cookies, or whatever was available, acting as though they hadn’t eaten in days.

I found myself saying the following over and over on any given grocery store trip:

“Stop touching the cereal boxes.”

“Get out from under the coffee display!”

“OMG! Get OUT of the freezer!”

“Stop dancing!”

“Watch where you’re going!”

“No, you cannot open the string cheese right now.”

“Act like you have some sense!”

Anyway, today they are old enough to behave themselves in the grocery store.

Or so I thought.

Until yesterday.

You see, I had gotten most of the groceries for the week the previous evening without my boys, but as usual, I had forgotten the bread, the eggs, the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the Cheetos, all the staples. So, after I picked up the boys from school, I said, “We’re gonna run in Food Lion real quick. Or you can stay in the car if you want.”

No, they both wanted to go into the store with me. “We’re gonna be quick,” I said at least nine times. As we walked through the produce aisle, I tossed some oranges into the cart. As I turned my back to examine an avocado, I saw David sauntering off, texting as he walked and Kevin wandering the other way.

“Ya’ll stay close! I am not gonna spend time trying to find you when it’s time to leave!”

I peered into the cart and noticed some peculiar items. Cheese puffs. White powdery donut holes. An entire coffee cake. None of which was on my mental list or that I put in the cart. How mysterious.

I took the foreign items out of my cart and placed them on a shelf, not where they go. (Sorry, Food Lion staff).

“Wait!” Kevin exclaimed, suddenly appearing from…somewhere. “Those are my groceries! They are my snacks for school!”

“No, they aren’t. I already got snacks for school yesterday.”

“But I want these snacks! I need them, Mommy!”

“No.”

“Why not?”

Side note: I’m getting really sick of Kevin asking why not? When I tell him “no” on something. We have talked about this over and over and over. It’s normal kid behavior, but that doesn’t matter. It grates on my nerves. I gave the answer that slips from my mouth and hear my mother’s voice, “because I said so.”

David, at this point, reappeared from a few aisles down and chimed in, “Because mommy says so, Kevin.”

With no warning whatsoever, Kevin exclaimed, “STOP IT DAVID!” and he flung himself on the floor, right in between the pickles and the salad dressing. He sprawled himself across the entire aisle, blocking anyone who may have been trying to get through.

“Get up, Kevin,” I said.

He didn’t move.

“Get up now.”

“I can’t. I’m so mad.”

“Get up now, Kevin, or you’re not playing on your Kindle the rest of the day.”

He didn’t move.

At this point, I was simply not sure what to do. People were starting to watch us, and my face felt hot. I could drag him up, but that may have caused a bigger scene. I breathed, like I had learned in yoga class. Then I thought, fine. He’s old enough not to throw tantrums in Food Lion and I would never worry that any one would kidnap him. They would quickly return him once they realized what they were getting into.

Shoppers walked by, some suspiciously, some sympathetically. I prepared myself for any “parenting” advice that sometimes came in grocery stores. I always loved that.

Kevin lay straight out in the middle of the aisle, and I did the only thing I knew to do. I walked away, down the aisle, through the dressings and ketchup and mustard. David looked at me, puzzled.

“Aren’t we gonna get Kevin?”

“He’s fine.”

We strolled through the aisles, suddenly realizing we needed more items than we initially thought. Funny how that happens.

A few aisles later, Kevin, scowling, arms crossed, shuffled up behind us.

“Hi Kevin!” David said cheerily, to annoy.

Kevin glared at David.

We maneuvered down the aisles, picked up the eggs, the Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

“I’m sorry,” Kevin mumbled to me.

“What are you sorry for?”

“For my attitude. But I really wanted a snack for school.”

“I forgive you.”

“Then do we have to talk about it?” he sighed.

“No.”

We picked up some yogurt, dropped it into the cart.

“OK, both of you go grab one snack each for your lunches this week.” Yes, they already had snacks for their lunches, but some kind of unusual compassion in me let these words spill out before I could catch them.

“Oh yes!” Kevin exclaimed, jumped up, and dashed down the chip aisle, David close behind him.

Kevin grabbed Cheetos and David, cool Ranch Doritos.

“Okay, we’re done. We gotta get out of here!” I was so incredibly done.

“One more snack mommy?” Kevin asked.

 

 

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“Flip that water bottle one more time and see what happens!”

I heard myself shout, rather rudely. On that particular day, I was so totally done with all the nonsense. I had let it go on for far too long. After all, objects flying across the room and through the halls are not an uncommon occurrences in our house. On any given day, there may be Nerf gun bullets, footballs, socks, juggling balls, or even a variety of produce whizzing by. Whatevs. I’m to the point where I ignore a lot of it. Choose your battles, my mom says. Nerf gun wars and oranges used as juggling balls in the kitchen are not battles I want to tackle, unless of course, David drops and bruises all my oranges, which he has done, and yes, then I will fight.
So when they continuously flipped the half full bottles of water so they rotated in the air and then landed on the table and then rolled to the floor, I frowned. The sloshes and then the thuds messed with my sanity. Over the next few days though, they kept flipping, and not just half full water bottles. They flipped bottles of Sunkist, and I even caught Kevin trying to flip a half full milk jug! The lid was not on properly, and milk poured from the jug, all over the kitchen floor.
“Enough with the flipping!” I declared.
“But mom, it’s fun!” he said.
“It’s stupid, and it makes no sense.”
“Stupid isn’t a nice word to say, mom.”
I sighed. “Can’t you play with something else?”
The next day in my own classroom, before class started, a student sat at his desk with a half full water bottle in front of him. With no warning whatsoever, he picked up the bottle and would you believe this, he flipped it. The bottle rotated once, tumbled to the side, and rolled to the edge of the desk. He grabbed the bottle before it fell to the ground and then started over.
The girl next to him looked annoyed. Three minutes until class started.
“Um, could you please stop?” I finally asked, after 4 flips.
“Sorry,” he said as he steadied his water bottle on his desk.
“Wait, why do you do that? First tell me why you do that, flip the water bottles, I mean.”
His eyes brightened and he pulled his phone from his pocket and quickly looked up a video and handed me the device. The video showed him flipping a water bottle with one quick wrist flick. The bottle rotated once and then landed straight up on a table.
“Oh cool.” I muttered. And it was cool.
Then he showed me another video of a kid from Charlotte, North Carolina who flipped a water bottle for a talent show and it landed upright. The crowd roared their fascination and approval. He explained to me that kids all over the world are now flipping water bottles, the goal to land them upright. It’s a skill that takes so much practice, but sometimes, just sometimes, with the perfect amount of luck and skill, the bottle rotates once and lands straight.
Later that day, both of my boys and their neighbor friend were all sitting around the kitchen table, taking turns flipping their bottles. I watched for a few minutes before I too, emptied out some of the water from my water bottle and tried (The water bottle should be ½ to ¼ full, so I’ve heard). I tried several times, but no perfect landing.
I guess at this point, I have changed my attitude about the excessive flippage of the water bottles. The noise is obnoxious, but my boys can entertain themselves for hours and they aren’t fighting with each other or zoned out watching TV or playing video games.
Every now and then, I will even practice my own flip (to this day, I have not succeeded in the perfect landing, but I am still working on it).
Flip. Slosh. Thud. Roll. Repeat.

Today, Kevin has said all of the following:

“I hurt my foot and I don’t think I can sit through church today.”
“I am a wizard at Battleship and you are…mommy, I hate to say it, but you’re just a starter. You need some major tips.”
(At Ruby Tuesday)  “Ugh! I have been waiting for an hour and they only brought me an inch of macaroni! I cannot even believe this!”
(After leaving Ruby Tuesday) “Can we stop at a drive thru on the way home?”
“I need to get my Halloween costume ready today. I really need to. I’m going to be a ninja Indian.”
“Is tomorrow Thanksgiving?”
“Can we eat macaroni every night this week?”
“If it was thundering while we were having Halloween, I would look even creepier.”
“Can I please go to mee mows?”

“Can I live at Lynn’s house?”

“I am trying to read the last two books I got at the library, but they are not getting any of my interest.”

“I’m kind of glad I didn’t wait until I was 12 to jump off the diving board.”
“I will take care of you when you are old, mommy. David probably won’t, so I will.”
 

 

Our visitor

Six am this morning: (ok, maybe it was later than that, but I will say 6, for dramatic effect)
I am in my warm bed savoring the last few minutes of sleep before my boys and I set off on some amazing adventure. And I hear…
“MOMMMMMMM!!!! COME QUICK!!!! THERE’S A BUG!!!!!”
Ugh. And here’s what I thought:
A bug? You are waking me up for a bug? Seriously? And you…you’re an eight-year-old superhero…you cannot take care of a bug for your mommy? Please? Plus you’re a boy…aren’t boys official bug smashers? Don’t you understand I need my last few minutes of sleep so I can be less grouchy than usual?
Ugh. And here’s what I said:
“ David, just smash it please. Or put it outside.”
“I cant.”
“You can.”
“It’s huge! It’s in the sink. Come look at it mommy!”
I groan. Good-bye dreams. Good-bye warmth of my bed. Good-bye precious rest. I must go on a quest to see a bug. A bug, of all things.
And I limp to the bathroom…and lo and behold…
A chill ran through my spine. My boy wasn’t kidding! It was the biggest, nastiest, ugliest ROACH I have ever seen in real life. And it was in the bathroom sink…
Its head was under the top of the drain…and its body was sticking out…
Usually bugs don’t bother me…but roaches…GAG. I literally gagged.
“See mommy?” David stood there watching my reaction. What would I do?
Impulsively, I turned on the water, pushing the roach down the drain…I let the water run for about 30 seconds, ensuring that he was down…far down the drain…into the sewer where he belonged. Then I plugged the drain. You know, just in case.
But you know what…he looked sneaky and suspicious and determined. I think he’s climbing up the drain as I type. And I have a suspicious feeling he will make another appearance.
The drain is still plugged…the door is shut…the bathroom is officially “Out of Order.”
Right now I’m calling Terminix…
Until next time…
-R

Mean Mommy

Since I am a teacher, my last day of work before summer vacation was Tuesday, June 12. Twelve days ago. Now, please know that I love my boys very much, so hopefully what I am about to say will not offend many.
I MISS WORK.
In fact, working to me is easier than staying home. I used to think (pre- kids) that a stay-at-home mom watched soap operas in between pedicures, shopping, and lunch and play dates with friends. Anyone could do this…right? And what a relaxing life! I am not sure where this theory came from…I’m really not. And I apologize profusely for such a mental misrepresentation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Both my parents always worked full time so maybe it’s just because I never saw it in action. Anyway, as much as I love my boys, staying home and taking care of them and taking care of housework and everything else that needs to be done can be utterly exhausting. Between the two of them, they totally wear me out! They will not stop moving, stop talking, stop arguing with each other, stop eating and stop shouting things like “Mommy! Brother hit me.” “Mommy! Can I have some juice?” “Mommy! Can we go to the park!” “Mommy! Will you help me go pee pee?” “Mommy, I made a mess…”
Mommmy. Mooooommmmyyy. Mooooommmmmmyyyyy.
The other day, in exasperation I screamed, “I AM NOT MOMMY!! STOP CALLING ME THAT!”
To which Kevin replied, “But I want you to be my mommy.”
Sigh.
I’m too scared to pray for patience right now…but Lord, help me.