Stop Sally

I love the special magic that happens when a kid’s smartness intersects with her stupidness. I’m not saying my children are stupid people- they’re just children and all children are stupid people. So, yes, I guess I am saying that my children are stupid people. Anyway, my daughter loves to write.

Most of her writing is just senseless scribbles because she’s four years old, but she can write her name and suddenly can also write the word “stop.” This means that there are notes all over the house where she is apparently telling herself off.

Stop Sally

She tells herself off for banging on the bathroom door while I’m in there when she slides a note underneath that says, “Stop Sally.” Uh, yeah, that’s what I’ve been saying.

She tells herself off for calling to us after bedtime when she comes downstairs and hands me a “Stop Sally” note.

It’s perfect really. I can save my breath. I just need to teach her to write “Stop Luke” notes.

Waiting for Tragedy

Either I have an anxiety disorder, or you all are awfully cavalier. Everywhere I look I see parents walking around not in a constant state of near-panic. What is wrong with you people?

I may be biased, but I’m the mother of two extraordinary children. Luke, as maddening as he can be, is the most generous and thoughtful person I know. I’ve seen him literally give the shirt off his back and I’ve seen him cry at another’s misfortune. He also experiences the world through all caps and excessive exclamation points. He’s not happy; he’s HAPPY!!! Combined with his wonderful empathy, he’s often HAPPY!!! for you, which makes him a very special little boy. If life is to be lived to the fullest, he is LIVING IT TO THE FULLEST by experiencing it all more forcibly than the rest of us do. He is an all around great guy, and fantastic husband and father in the making.

Sally has the happiest disposition. She doesn’t complain, is easygoing, and really just wants to hug you and pat your back in between stretches of happily playing independently. She is freaking adorable and is a genuine joy to be around. She may spend most of her time dressed in princess attire, but she’ll trade out her tiara for a helmet to ride her bike over the ramp with the big kids, and she schools kids twice her size as she jumps into the deep end at the Y. She is awesome. She’s the chick I want to be friends with. (When she grows up. I do not want to be friends with any 4-year-old.)

And this is why I’m certain that something tragic will happen to one of them. Terrible things always happen to the best, most special people. You never hear of the just average guy who died tragically in a fiery crash at the tender age of 16. No. That guy is always the one who befriended the social outcasts, despite being a popular star athlete himself, started community outreach programs, and saved a truck of orphan puppies from falling into a mine shaft which then led directly into the state closing down the evil puppy killing mine crime ring.

While you sit and enjoy the movie, I’m playing out scenarios in my head wondering how quickly I can get both kids on the ground under me, and if the shooter might come from the front or behind us. While you browse in Target, I’m eyeing the shelves and exits, debating the merits of hiding vs. running. I wonder how I’ll tell my kids to run out of the house without alerting the murderous intruder of their presence. I calculate how I’ll unstrap my kids, (which one first?) from the car as it sinks into freezing water. Which of my children’s friends will want to show off his father’s gun to a tragic end? Who will bully my kids into depression and suicide before I even realize there’s a problem? And, finally, when will I learn of the cancer?

It’s not just the kids. Unfortunately, my husband is also a great guy. His drive to work isn’t long but he’s out there with the distracted texters and the drunk assholes and the black ice. It’s just a matter of time. And when is his cancer diagnosis coming down the pike?

I am not a particularly fantastic person, so I’m probably safe. Then again, it could be me. The lives of my husband and kids could turn tragic by my cancer diagnosis, run in with a shooter, or highway encounter with a texting stoned teenager.

I’ve lived my life until now relatively unscathed. Nothing terrible happened to any members of my innermost circle while I was growing up. So am I due? Of course I’ve lost people along the way, some before their time and/or after long, protracted illnesses. Lately, I’ve watched in fear and horror as kids lose parents, parents lose children, young couples lose each other. Every news story of entire families killed, lunatics with a grudge taking out crowds, tragic accidents of kids killing kids… these all are filed away in my mind, filling me with dread and anxiety, keeping me up at night and rising to my consciousness in every crowded public place. I might think of Newtown every single day I send my children to school.

I know that you all watch the news and know people who have faced the unthinkable too, and yet you seem so calm and well rested. Sure, statistics are in my favor with regards to shootings, kidnappings, home invasions, driving off bridges, etc, but my kids fit the profile. They have that something extra. That intangible goodness that Billy Joel warned us about. Also, importantly, and despite all my efforts, they are stupid. They are going to make a ton of bad choices and so will their idiot friends. (Your kids. No offense.) So I’m sentenced to a life of panic for my extraordinary, and stupid, children. How can you be calm at a time like this?


I’m not funny after all

We are not a farty family. I know that there are many families who openly let ‘er rip to the delight of men and children everywhere. Hey, if they’re happy, I’m happy. But we are not those people. This explains the exceptional delight in this house after the receipt of two whoopee cushions as birthday favors on Saturday. Sally didn’t particularly get it or care, but Luke’s enthusiasm more than made up for it.

Yesterday afternoon we plugged the kids into a movie and Tim and I sat together in the kitchen attempting conversation. With tremendous (but still not quite enough) effort to be quiet, Luke sneaked up behind Tim’s chair with his whoopee cushion poised for maximum fart-plosion. His objective: to trick Tim into thinking that he, himself, farted. The first time, Tim jumped out of his seat and ran to the bathroom holding the back of his shorts as if he just had a sudden and messy surprise. Luke’s glee was unparalleled. Absolute fits of screaming laughter. His plan had worked! Even better than he ever could have anticipated. Tim exited the bathroom clearly relieved that his shorts were clean.

Since a good joke cannot be done enough times in a row, Luke left the room to “subtly” refill his cushion. He could barely blow it up for all of his giggling. In the meantime, Tim actually did subtly fill up the other whoopee cushion and placed it under his leg. The moment before Luke gave his own a squeeze, Tim let his concealed cushion fly. Flabbergasted, Luke nearly collapsed from surprise and joy. “It wasn’t even me this time! Daddy really did it! It was Daddy!” he shouted while showing us his still-inflated whoopee cushion as evidence. Once again Tim ran to the loo.

The two of them did this another 6 or 7 times. At first it was genuinely funny. Not the joke itself so much as Luke’s reaction. He HAD NO IDEA that a second whoopee cushion was in play. It stopped being so funny, as most things do with successive repetition. I said something to that effect to Tim, also mentioning that the whole construct of Luke’s prank was absurdly illogical. After all, Tim would certainly feel it if he crapped his pants. Luke was doing it all wrong. My reasonable comment was met with an eye roll and I was told that I’m just too intellectual (implication: not fun enough) to understand a good fart farce.

“I am NOT too intellectual for a whoopee cushion!” I found myself saying, genuinely miffed.

To prove my ability to be just as juvenile as the next guy, I inflated the whoopee cushion and placed it up my shirt. I stood strategically behind the kitchen island, concealing my stuffed shirt. With a simple shift in weight against the counter I too could delight my son. I’ll show them that I can be just as funny and stupid as they are! I called Luke over with the pretense of whispering a plan for a new way to trick Tim into thinking he shat himself, not even mentioning the illogic of the sham. When he got close, I pressed myself against the granite and…



I obliterated the whoopee cushion.

I utterly failed at fart humor.

Tim practically fell off his chair laughing and I broke into that weird laugh where you also sort of cry. Luke still had no idea that there was another whoopee cushion involved in all of this and he took the loud explosion in stride, as if giant BANGS! happen all the time. He simply said, “Stop laughing and tell me the plan!”

I was unable properly execute a joke perfected by 6-year-old boys the world over. It turns out that I might be too intellectual for whoopee cushions. My attempt at fart humor resulted in breaking my daughter’s toy. When I recovered from my hysterics I felt sad, but only for the briefest moment.

Maybe I can’t pull off farty jokes. I’m OK with that.