(Child) Labor Pains


When I was a kid and my mom would ask me to do the dishes or something, I'd slump my way to the sink, griping with each step: "The only reason you had kids was so you'd have somebody else to do the dishes!"

Now that I'm a mom, I realize how silly that was. Of course people don't have kids so they'll do the dishes.

People have kids so they'll do the dishes and the laundry and the yard work and all the other crap. I mean ... free labor! Less work! More time to devote to other valuable adult pursuits such as, I don't know, watching funny cat videos on the Internet. Dishes? Pssssh. That's the tip of the iceberg. It takes a lot of work to run a household, and I've made a decision: if my kids are going to ravage the contents of the fridge, poop in our toilet, and lounge around watching the TV and using the Internet, then they're damn well going to pitch in.

They've had it relatively easy up until this point. They've had chores, but mostly related to taking care of their personal messes: cleaning up their rooms, clearing the table after a meal, stuff like that. But here we are, with less than a month of summer left, and I am sick to death of the constant cleanup I've had to do with the kids home all-day-erry-day for what seems like eons. (Seriously, shouldn't they be going off to college or something by now?) I feel like all I get done is following them around picking up crumbs and washing mountains of laundry and disposing of wrappers that they've blithely tossed around the room because apparently the trash can is all the way in the kitchen.

Hmmph.

So now I've decided that the little ingrates children are going to help me with my chores. Although there's a bit of a problem: they're careless young boys who are immune to squalor, and I'm a control freak.

Up until now, I've done things myself because it's easier. (Well, sort of.) I mean - I've got this joint running like a well-oiled machine. I could do my regular household maintenance routine in my sleep. I've been doing this for so long that I've mastered the most efficient way to do, well, just about everything around here.

But.

I'm not doing myself, or my kids (or their future spouses), any favors by shouldering the bulk of the responsibilities. Because if I don't allow them to learn to do this stuff by themselves, or expect them to, they'll figure it's not their job. AND THEY'LL BE WRONG. And I'll be stuck with a houseful of teenagers who expect Mom to clean up after them ... who will then grow into men who expect their significant others to clean up after them.

I'm not allowing my sons to develop into unhelpful douchebag man-children. NO SIR. So, for the sake of everyone involved, I'm sucking it up and trying my best to put aside my perfectionistic ways while my boys bumble through things I could get done in two minutes learn how to do things around here.

And it's driving me crazy.

I stand by and supervise - just in case - while they do this stuff, biting my lip to keep my mouth clamped shut. But my inner dialogue is raging. When my seven-year-old is scooping out the cats' litter box, for example ...

Okay. There's a turd. Get that one. NO! Don't try to get all the clumps at once! Ewwww you're getting it all over your hands. Now. Shake the scoop so the excess grains of litter fall back into the box. SHAKE! THE SCOOP! You're getting litter all over the floor! No. Don't pretend you're a grizzled old prospector panning for gold. Just DO THE JOB. Gaaahhhhh! You dropped a turd on the floor! NO! DON'T PICK IT UP WITH YOUR FINGERS!

... And so on. When they're pouring a little too much detergent into the washer, I envision my laundry room filling with bubbles. When they're cleaning the toilet, I cringe at how many pee-crusted nooks and crannies they miss. It's kind of like how they want to brush only the fronts of their teeth and call it good: it's my job to correct them, but they have to learn to do it properly themselves.

And the only way for that to happen is if I stand back, loosen the reins, and let it happen.

Yuck.

Lube is for Pubes

I've never had what you'd call shampoo-commercial hair. It's a frizzy nightmare, which means deep conditioner and a hair dryer and a flat iron and smoothing serum any time I want it to look like nice, regular hair. Otherwise it looks like somebody put a bunch of chest hair in the wrong place, and it's desperately trying to get back to where it belongs.

Oh, hair. Y U no cooperate?

Maybe some actually managed to migrate successfully and that's why I have a beard?

Living with a poofy puff like mine has made me seriously consider pursuing a religion where it's covered all the time. I mean, at least my eyelashes are decent.

Anyway, since our air conditioner took a crap, it's been hot up in here. For me, sweating even an ounce is a one-way ticket to Frizz City, population: Rita. Needless to say, I have been locked in a frustrating struggle between letting my 'fro flag fly without giving a shit, and trying to look like I haven't been dragged through a bush backwards. The other day, vanity won out, and I was attempting to wrangle my strands into smooth submission when I realized I had run out of smoothing serum.

For you lucky non-frizzy peeps who may not be familiar with smoothing serum (I hate you), allow me to enlighten. It's a clear liquid, kind of silky and slippery, almost like an oil but a little thicker. I like this kind (← that is an Amazon affiliate link by the way, in case you want to getcha some). You can use it on either damp or dry hair; I usually put about a nickel-sized amount in my hair while it's still a little wet, and I find that it looks less like a Brillo pad when it's dry. Unfortunately, my bottle was as empty as Donald Trump's soul.

If I had hair like, say, Kate Middleton's, I would have just skipped the serum and gone on my merry, bouncy-coiffed way. But - here's a little known fact - the one and only reason I am not the current Duchess of Cambridge is because Wills is kind of a hair man and when it came down to deciding between Kate and myself, well, you can see who won out.

Ahem.

Anyway, since foregoing the serum is not an option when your hair puts sheep to shame, I began rummaging through my arsenal of toiletries to find a suitable replacement. Lotion? Nah ... I've tried that before. It doesn't last too long. Coconut oil? Possibly, but the last time I overdid it and ended up looking like I hadn't washed my hair in years.

And then? My eyes fell on a little bottle in my medicine cabinet.

Sensual Lubricant, it said. (Yes. THAT kind.)

The wheels in my head started turning. Hmmm. It's a clear liquid. Kind of silky and slippery. Almost like an oil but a little thicker.

I did a hallelujah jig in the middle of the bathroom. I was saved! Who needs fancy-schmancy smoothing serum when you've got lube, right?! It's practically the same thing, isn't it?! And it's not like I'm using it for anything else. (Which is a topic for another blog post entirely. Advance apologies to my husband.) I mean, sure, it's made for vaginas, but like ... that's a minor detail, yes??

So, like any re-purposing genius, I slathered my damp hair with lube and envisioned my gorgeous, frizz-free 'do - all the while congratulating myself on my ingenuity. I'm totally going to pin this on my Pinterest boards, I thought. LIFE HACKS BY RITA. No smoothing serum? USE LUBE. This is amazing. People will be like, "Where has this chick and her revolutionary tips BEEN all my life?!"

But as my hair dried, my confidence waned. Because as it turns out, vaginas are not hairdos (and if they are, please consider a little personal grooming). And vagina products do not work on hair, even if they do seem almost identical in texture. I was painfully reminded of why hair product companies and sexual lubricant companies hire, like, scientists to formulate things, and why I am wiping butts and writing words instead of be-goggled and lab-coated with a beaker somewhere.

Note to self and to everyone else in the world: lube is not an acceptable substitute for smoothing serum. Your hair will not be frizzy, but that will be because it is stiff and greasy-looking. (Picture the "hair gel" scene from There's Something About Mary, only all over - not just the bangs.) Do yourself a favor - either invest in some actual smoothing serum, or just let the whole thing air dry and hope that this is the day that big '80s hair finally comes back into style.

Not a Fan


Sometimes, something happens that makes you learn a lot about who you are as a person.

For me, that epiphany came late Friday afternoon, when our air conditioner was all like, "I'm tired of keeping your house at a comfortable seventy-two degrees. See how well you do without me, suckas!"

It was (of course) one of the hottest days we've had yet this summer, and I had just finished mowing. So at first I thought maybe it was just me thinking that the air coming out of the blower felt more like somebody's breath than an icy blast of Arctic air conditioning. But when I checked my thermostat, my fears were confirmed: it was eighty degrees in my house. My AC had said A-C-ya.

My husband has a background in this type of stuff and so he did some troubleshooting and determined that he can fix it himself. (Insert skeptical-wife raised eyebrow here.) The problem is, he needs a specific part, and it was after-hours on a weekend.

"I'll just wait until Monday," he said casually, as if my face melting off was no big deal. Apparently he is used to being without cool air at his job, and is also unfazed by anyone saying, "But my thighs are chafing!"

... Jerk.

Long story short, we've been without air conditioning for the entire weekend. It is now Monday and if my husband does not get this show on the road with the "fixing the AC" thing, I am going to go off the deep end because y'all? I am NOT good at doing without my fancy machine-cooled air in the middle of July. I fantasize that I'm this tough, hardy chick from sturdy Midwestern stock, but THERE IS NO AIR CONDITIONING AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF.

It has definitely been a learning experience, though. Here are a few tidbits I've gleaned from spending a weekend in a normally-seventy-two-degree house that has gradually heated up to, at its highest point, ninety-two degrees:

Heat makes me lazy. You know what I did over the weekend? NOTHING. The most strenuous thing I did was rummage in a tote full of clothes to find a skirt so I could get more air circulating around my sweaty inner thighs. I slumped in a lawn chair in my driveway, sweaty, with a beer in my hand. Like a fat guy. I just could not muster up any motivation.

I desperately need new carpet, or fewer pets and children. As my house started to get warmer, my carpet started releasing its demons. Air conditioning apparently goes a long way in keeping things fresh, because once it got hot up in here, the Ghost of PeePee Past starting rising up from the fibers. And we just had it cleaned two weeks ago. So now my home is not only sweltering, but it smells like a barn. Which brings us to my next realization ...

Heat makes me cranky. If there's anything I can't stand, it's a stinky house. I am super-paranoid about this. So the fact that my house now smells like a barn, and no amount of Febreze will combat it, makes me more than a little irritable. Heat also makes my children cranky, and four cranky children make me even more cranky, so ... yeah. It's been a barrel of laughs* around here this weekend.

*More like "bucket of assholes."

A sock can do amazing things. I had this old knee-length sock in my drawer. Brown with gold polka-dots. (Don't be jealous of my fashion sense.) So I filled it up with rice, tied it in a tight knot at the open end, popped it in the freezer for a while, and voila - it's an all-purpose cooler-down-er.


I have used this thing a bazillion times in the past few days. The rice stays cool for a long time after you take it out of the freezer. I've draped it around my neck, across my panting dog, across the keyboard of my laptop when it sounded like the fan was running too hard, and threatened to beat my children with it (I said threatened).

Convenience creates heat. I am usually blissfully unaware of how much heat is generated by our various appliances and electronics. But try running your dishwasher - or your dryer - or using your stove - when your house is above ninety degrees, and you will quickly realize that holy hell, these things are hot. This is why we grilled out every night, and why yesterday's dishes are still piled in my sink, no doubt contributing to the lovely smell in here (because hand-washing would involve me immersing parts of myself in hot water, and no). The bright side: I could honestly tell my toddler it was "too hot to watch Caillou." TVs generate mad heat, too.

I'm a "fan" of my neighbors. Cheesy pun notwithstanding, our entire neighborhood is awesome. They loaned us box fans and window fans and oscillating fans and offered their air-conditioned homes and gave my kids popsicles and sat with us in our driveway as we tried to keep from melting (and/or killing each other).

All in all, it hasn't been an entirely terrible experience. We've been making the best of it ... like camping. But if my husband does not stay true to his word and get this air conditioner fixed today, the situation may turn ugly. Like my hair in this humidity.

Stay tuned. And please - stay cool. Do it for those of us who can't.

Car-be-cue

During the fall and winter, I start packing on the pounds like a hibernating bear. I swear - as soon as as the weather gets cooler, I migrate to the kitchen and start whipping up comfort foods and baked goods as though they're going out of style. (Like, have you tried my French onion soup recipe yet? DELICIOUSNESS.)

But this means that during the spring and summer, I have to take off said pounds. Which involves a lot less eating. Which makes me very unhappy, because I am a woman with the appetite of a man.

Okay ... a fat man.

Okay ... a ravenously hungry fat man.

Okay ... a ravenously hungry fat man who has the munchies at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

I don't know why I'm such an eater, but I've been this way for pretty much as long as I can remember. I know what I need to do - I once lost more than 100 pounds and have kept it off except for these pesky 20 pounds or so (check out the before and after, if you wanna) - but it's actually getting started doing it that sucks. So when I have to cut back, my body goes through, like, withdrawals. It's all, "Hey! Where are my cupcakes? ... Well can't you at least send some butter down?"

Mmmmm .... cupcakes and butterrrrrr.

Anyway, that's where I'm at lately: trying to eat sensibly. So I'm kind of like an obsessed dope fiend, attempting to keep my mind off of my "drug of choice." Which is why, when I started smelling delicious barbecue every time I sat in my van, I thought I was hallucinating or something. Every time I'd slide into the driver's seat, there it was: a smoky whiff of hickory. I even tried to cover it up by chewing some strong peppermint gum, but it just ended up smelling like someone threw some mint into a smoker.

I contemplated telling my husband that I was going crazy, but figured he would probably just agree.

This morning, though, I discovered that I might not be as crazy as I suspected. (Okay, maybe I am, just not because of the barbecue-fragranced hallucinations.) Because when I opened up the console in the center of my van, I found this:

Buy it at Colgin.com if perhaps you, too, would like your vehicle to smell like a brisket.

Then it dawned on me. Like a week ago, my mom asked if I had any liquid smoke to use in a recipe, so I had taken it to her house. I don't remember putting it into the console for its return trip home, which is apparently why I forgot to take it out. It had toppled over and leaked, thereby converting my relatively unscented console into a haven of hickory essence.

It might be pretty delicious if it wasn't IN MY CAR.

I mean, it's a minivan. It almost always smells somewhat of stale French fries and Goldfish crackers and whatever else my kids squirrel away in the back floorboards, but hickory smoke? I half-expect a lumberjack to be sitting in my passenger seat, in all his bearded glory, holding a hearty rack of ribs.

... Which would actually be okay if ribs were on my diet.

... Mmmmm, riiiiiibs.

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