Trick-or-treat, except no tricks please because my kids are stupid

My kids are still working on becoming funny. At least I hope they’re working on it, and that where they sit right now on the funny spectrum is not where they’ll remain. Funny is important to me. The fact that it’s lost on my children leaves them not getting 62% of what comes out of my mouth. Since the remaining 38% is made up of directives they’re ignoring, we have a major communication problem over here.

When my then 5-year-old son shouted back to me from the door of a stranger’s house on Halloween night, “Mom, she doesn’t have any chocolate, is it OK if I pick something else?” I realized that my kids are too earnest for my tastes.

See, I (jokingly (totally not jokingly)) told my son to make sure he gets lots of chocolate. The for me was implied. He did not pick up on the implication. He took it as a rule or mission of Halloween. He took it as advice from his mother who looks out for him and knows more about Halloween and the world at large than he does.

And nothing I said for the rest of the night could change his mind.

“Honey, I was just joking. Get whatever candy you like,” I said.

“But you said to get as much chocolate as I can. I’ll get chocolate,” he said.

“You are evil. You better blog about this,” husband said.

Every house was the same. My kid shouted back to me, “This one has more than one kind of chocolate, does it matter which I get?” and “This one has chocolate and Skittles. I really like Skittles. Is it OK if I pick the Skittles?” Once he even said to the kind stranger holding the candy bowl, “My mom wants me to get chocolate. Do you have any chocolate, maybe in your pantry?”

He had no idea that I was planning on stealing any candy from him. It would never occur to him that I’d want candy or play such a trick.

I seem to never learn the lesson that my kids don’t pick up on subtlety, irony, sarcasm, and jokes meant for the adults in the room. I made my daughter cry once when she saw me handing out ice cream sandwiches to her brother and to each of the 3 neighbor’s kids and asked “Can I have one too?” I said, “No. I’m giving ice cream sandwiches to all the other children but I’m going to give you onions for dessert.” Even though I assured her I was joking and quickly handed over the ice cream, she cried again a few days later when she asked for dessert and I said, “Onions for dessert!” Kid cannot take a joke.

While other parents anxiously await their children to achieve milestones like tying shoes and learning to read, I’m waiting with baited breath for my kids to grasp sarcasm, trickery, and actually funny jokes.

trick or treat

There’s only one reason

It started out happily, before I came to the realization that the gulf that separates me and my husband might be too big to bridge. Finally liberated from the long hellish winter, we began the process of readying our house and yard for spring. We spent the weekend raking, clipping, and trading out snow toys for warm weather gear. The kids “helped,” mostly by begging us to pull them around the yard on sleds. Which is hard. So I said no.

Lucky for them, Tim is much more fun and less lazy than I am. He stood sweating and catching his breath after finishing his umpteenth run around the yard dragging the kids behind him on a sled, when he suggested that I give it a go. “It’s actually a lot of fun. After all, running around, being active, and playing with the kids is the whole reason we work out at the gym.”

Um, what? This is when I fully understood the immense breadth of the chasm between us.

I don’t exercise so that I can just exercise more with my kids. WTF? Who does that? The ONLY reason I work out is to not be fat. That’s it. End of story. Any health benefits are secondary side effects. Certainly ‘the ability to run around at other times’ would never make a list of Reasons I Work Out if such a list needed to exist. Which it doesn’t. Because there’s just the one reason.

I wondered if I’m the only woman living with a fundamentally strange and misinformed man, so I asked my co-authors from I Just Want to be Alone what they thought.

Stephanie Jankowski from the blog When Crazy Meets Exhaustion understands: “My goal is to not have my thighs rub together as to prevent starting forest fires; his goal is to be ‘heart healthy.’ Meh.” 

Robyn Welling who blogs at Hollow Tree Ventures said, “I started a regular exercise regimen last week – exercise every day! So far I’ve stuck with it – and I have gained 4 pounds. My husband wants to lose 5 or 10 pounds too, but he figures the weight will come off in the spring when he starts working in the yard again. What pisses me off is that IT WILL.”

Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying gets me, “I work out because sugar and cheese.”

Suzanne Fleet blogs at Toulouse and Tonic and she’s with me too. “Oh it’s all about not being fat. Otherwise, I’d just sit here and read a book instead of sacrificing that time to something so unenjoyable.” EXACTLY!

Christine Burke from Keeper of the Fruit Loops adds, “I run to support my eating and drinking habits. Case closed.”

Lynn Morrison from The Nomad Mom Diary definitely gets it. In fact, her essay in I Just Want to be Alone is called, “My Obnoxiously Skinny Husband,” in which she quips, “I’ll do almost anything to avoid conversations about my weight, but I draw the line at actual exercise.”

Rebecca Gallagher writes over at Frugalista Blog. She shared this story to demonstrate just how much her husband has no clue. “Once, my husband and I after dinner were arguing over the last bit of wine. I said, ‘You have it, it will save me some calories.’ He’s like, ‘Pfft, what’s a couple hundred calories?’ I’m all, “WHAT’S A COUPLE HUNDRED CALORIES?!! Says the man with Michael Phelps’ metabolism. Fuck you! I have to count calories or I’ll be a size 20. Asshole.’ He’s like, ‘Gosh, didn’t know it mattered.’ And this is why men can be douchewads.” That’s pretty much exactly what I think every night as my husband sits down to his after dinner bowl of cereal, and then his after bowl of cereal bowl of ice cream.

So I’m not alone in the world, just in my house. Between the children who choose running over walking in just about every scenario and my husband who confoundingly exercises so that he can better exercise at other times, I am an island in my limited tolerance for working out. If God wanted me constantly running around, he wouldn’t have given me so many bouncy parts.

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Domestic Bliss and Wrappers

As I discard the wad of lint containing an embarrassing number of mini Cadbury Cream Egg foil wrappers that I accidentally left in a pocket, I have a moment of silent gratitude that I am the only person who would ever clear out our dryer lint trap. My mini Cream Egg secret is safe. As the only person who does many household things, I can keep many secrets.

My children don’t use the garbage can. This is very useful because I can eat their candy and throw the wrappers out without worrying about being caught. Likewise, I don’t have to bury thrown-out child-made masterpieces in the recycling bin as it’s a place they’d never look. When they have garbage, they just drop it on the floor where they stand. So my secrets are safe in the trash can.

I can hide birthday and Christmas gifts in plain sight. The plainer the sight the better in fact. I live with people who can’t find the ketchup while looking in the fridge, even after I say, “It’s on the left side of the second shelf in the door with the other condiments – where it always is absolutely always every single time without exception like last time and the time before that.”

Really though, I have a great family. Each person does a lot to help around the house. My kids wash the bathroom floor! Well, they wet the bathroom floor, and sometimes soap it. And they often then leave towels and underwear on it, certainly in an effort to dry it. What swell kids! They clean my couch daily. Clean it of those pesky couch cushions that is. Possibly misguided efforts, but they’re young and it’s the thought that counts. I have a couch cushion strewn floor to prove that they’re always thinking of ways to help out.

My husband is exceptionally helpful. I hear horror stories about other husbands but I can’t complain. I don’t even have to ask for him to clean most of the dishes after dinner. He also empties the dishwasher unbidden, and puts most of the stuff away. He considerately leaves his laundry right near the laundry basket so all I need to do is pop it in! Always a gentleman, he thoughtfully leaves the butter and jam out on the counter for me, in case I want toast at some point during the day.

The truth is that if the family was more domestically involved, I would have a harder time hiding my stashes of good things. I have small presents secreted away that I sometimes remember, caches of candy, and even an emergency bottle of wine. So, as I don’t bother burying my candy wrapper filled dryer lint in the garbage, I’m reminded of how very lucky I am.

 

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