Snow Delays with Aunt Flo

As if the 2 hour delay wasn’t bad enough, the school bus ran late. We sat in the car at the end of the street, sheltered from the cold and snow. Naturally, the kids take the opportunity to push buttons, turn dials, and rummage through all the car’s compartments.

“What’s this?” Luke asks holding up a tampon he retrieved from the glove box.

“Oh, that’s just something for mommy.”

I give him my standard response. Like all kids, Luke has been keenly curious about tampons forever. Mysterious dispensers in public restrooms and the sometimes colorfully wrapped objects in my purse have driven him crazy for years. He suspects it’s candy, and therefore unfair. I deflect and dismiss like a pro. But this time we were stuck in the car together with nothing to distract us.

“But what do you use it for?”

Sigh. I look for the bus. Nothing. I briefly explain the biology of a menstrual cycle. Both kids look appropriately appalled. Then the questions start.

“So I’m going to have a baby when I’m 12?” Sally asks.

“No! No. No. No. Um, no. Definitely not. No.” I stammer for awhile. “That’s just about when your body starts going through changes. Maybe you’ll be 11 or 14. It’s different for everyone. But you won’t have a baby then. Nope. No. No.”

“Am I going to need to wear one of those things you wear?” she asks while holding her hands in front of her chest mimicking imaginary, gigantic, future breasts.

“A bra? Yes.”

“But why? What’s it for?” Luke asks.

Sally jumps in, “It’s to hold them up so they don’t pull you down and knock you over. But then you’d fall on them and they’d bounce you back up.”

“Really?” Luke asks me.

“Well, not exactly. They don’t knock you over or anything. And they couldn’t bounce you back up.” I lose a moment wistfully remembering my pre-kids breasts. Or could they? “But it does sort of hold them up and keep them in place.”

“That’s super weird.”

“Yeah, it is isn’t it?” I look for the bus.

“Why do you keep this in the car though?” Back to the tampon.

“In case I need it. I keep all sorts of things in the car like band-aids, tissues, jumper cables.”

“So you could be driving and all of a sudden…”

He mimes a flood erupting from his loins. I look for the bus. I explain more about menstruation. I look for the bus. They both become pensive.

“You have a thousand eggs? So a woman could have a thousand babies? ”

“Yes. No. I mean women have a lot of eggs but a woman could not have a thousand babies. Woman can have many babies though. More babies than most women end up having.”

“You should have another baby! I want a cute little baby!”

“Babies are cute. But you wouldn’t like it when I’m super tired and grumpy and yell at you two for being too noisy and don’t have time to pay attention to you because all my attention is on the baby.”

“But you already are grumpy and yell at us.” Touché.

“It would be worse.” I look for the bus.

“Can you just decide to have a baby one month instead of a period?”

“Well, not exactly. Remember when we talked about this? That it takes both a mommy and a daddy to make a baby?”

“Yeah, but you and daddy already did that.”

WHERE IS THE FREAKING BUS?

“Well, um, we’d have to do it again.”

“Oh.”

“The bus sure is running late!”

“You’re going to bleed out of your penis!” Sally expertly tells Luke.

“No I’m not! It’s just for girls. You’re going to lay an egg every month! Ha ha!”

“She will not LAY an egg! Well, yeah, I guess she sort of will.”

Two sets of eyes grow huge with fear and disbelief.

“They’re tiny though. Don’t worry about it. And, Luke, your body will do weird things too. Where is the bus?”

“Like what?”

I think of all the weird things it will do. I say, “Your voice will change.”

“Yeah, well that’s not nearly as bad as bleeding out of your vagina and laying eggs.”

Yeah, tell me about it. You also will get more handsome as you age and you’ll be paid more. I’m peppered with a few more questions as we wait out the last of the 25 minutes for the late bus. As the bus finally pulls up I realize that I’m sending my kids off to school full of strange new information and ideas with which they can embarrass teachers and horrify friends. Essentially they’re fully loaded, ticking mis-information bombs. I quickly remind them that they can come to me with any questions but should not talk about this at school with friends and teachers. They assure me they won’t and they’re off for a very abbreviated school day.

Parenthood involves so many strange and uncomfortable conversations, and there’s nothing like being trapped in a confined space to inspire kids’ curiosity. Certainly, I’d prefer them get their facts from us rather than their friends. But is it too much to ask that next time it’s Tim not me?

Snow Delays with Aunt Flo

Hello from prison

I’d ask my children how many snow days we’ve had in the last week and a half, but they’ve both forgotten how to count. I’m not worried about their education though. While your children enjoy their summer off, my kids will still be in school doing important things like counting stuff.

There’s easily two feet of snow outside, and the plow-made snowbanks tower high above our heads. Soon it will be up to zero degrees. Still not quite warm enough to have the kids go out and play. So inside we remain, carefully navigating over toy strewn floors in our pajamas and slippers. I vaguely remember real pants. There’s something about a button, right?

I might have shed actual tears when I got the text about the latest cancellation. I definitely swore creatively and glorified the ’80s when we went to school no matter fucking what.

It’s hard on the kids to face so much unexpected downtime. The excitement has worn off; they’ve become snow day weary. TV has lost its luster. iDevices fail to entertain. Literally anything is worth fighting over.

As hard as it’s been on all of us, it’s been hardest on the house itself. All this forced time inside together has been strenuous for our habitat. The make-a-snack/make-a-mess/clean-it-up/repeat process has rendered my kitchen crumby, sticky, and out of all the good snacks. The outlets feel overworked from the constant need to recharge a phone or tablet. The sofa’s had no time to refluff. The floors just plain can’t be seen. If the Keurig goes on strike, we’re all in trouble.

Our involuntary confinement will come to an end soon and we’ll return to the outside world. We will all emerge from our respective messy homes, chafing in our real pants, rubbing our eyes at the bright sky. Our children will be reminded how to count and will remain in school until July. And our homes will rejoice in their long missed vacancy. Until then, we wait out our sentence in familial isolation. Good luck to us all.

snow day

 

My Days are Numbered

My kids are getting bigger. Soon I’ll enter the Chauffeur Years, when mothers become a barely tolerated presence in kids’ lives, good only for food, cash, and transport. With that in mind, I’m trying like hell to enjoy the time I’ve got left in the Little Kid Years.

And I do enjoy a lot of it. I love that my kids still rely on goodnight hugs and kisses and stories read aloud in order to fall asleep. I do. It’s too bad that this special time always comes at the end of the day when my nerves are frayed and my wine is downstairs waiting for me with the promise of peace and quiet.

I love that my kids still crave my approval and I know I’ll miss it when they no longer need or want my attention. But really, I just can’t feign interest in what you built in Minecraft and that song you’re singing was cute, an hour ago.

These little kid years are fleeting and all the magic that comes with them is but a moment in our children’s lives. As parents we know this so we try to drink up all the magic, and create even more by putting our children in situations where there will be more and more and more magic. Our little kids’ wonder is our drug.

We bring our children to Disney World so we can see that look on their faces – the one of pure wonder and joy that only little kids have. And we get it. We get that moment and our hearts fill, our cups runneth over, and we gain the emotional fortitude it takes not to strangle them when they’re falling apart a few minutes later, throwing epic fits born of overstimulation, exhaustion, and too much GD Florida sunshine. We bring our children to the beach and are justly rewarded with peals of laughter in the waves, tongues held out between teeth in extreme sand castle concentration, and boundless energy for chasing down seagulls, flying kites, and catching crabs in tide pools. We get our fill of the magic, and we don’t commit murder when they cry from hunger, freak out from sand in shoes, and complain the entire car ride home.

As with so many of the lovely things in life, little-kidhood is a two-sided coin. One side is full of giggles, cuddles, and wonder. It’s all enthusiasm. It’s witnessing a person encounter a firefly for the first time, a shooting star. It’s understanding that there is no greater thing than s’mores, a snow day, a rainbow. The other side is quite the opposite. If a day can be the “best day ever!” because of a lollipop, likewise, it can be the worst because of peas touching potatoes. A sibling can be a best friend, and a mortal enemy vying for the love of the people who should only have eyes for you.

This tricky coin flips easily and many times per day. Anything can flip it. There are known triggers that we parents work hard to mitigate: hunger, fatigue, overstimulation, errands, lines, frustration, transition, waiting 5 more minutes for anything, but especially dinner. It can flip back just as easily. Generally bodily functions related to digestion are the most efficient means of doing this. We parents live our lives by this fickle coin.

I’m trying hard to relish the waning years of little-kidness remaining to me. I marinate in morning snuggles and sweetness, which helps me manage later-morning attitude. I exalt moments of sibling playfulness, full of princess dresses, spy gear, and astonishing imagination, which helps me through sibling fights full of yelling, hitting, and inevitable crying. I cherish childish mispronunciations and misunderstandings, which helps me bear their diminishing number. Mostly, I have to be actively mindful of my limited time in this space. My kids are getting bigger. I have to get all the cuddles now.

My Days are Numbered



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