Welcome to the Rough House

Not long ago I heard a piercing scream of "Mooooooom!" ... followed by gasps and hysterical laughter. Then here came my first-grader, grinning through a macabre mouthful of blood, to gleefully present me with the treasure balanced on his outstretched palm: his tooth.

The tooth that his brother had just kicked right out of his mouth while they were wrestling. It was a baby tooth, thank goodness, but it hadn't even been loose.

I mean ... what?

A couple of kids ago, I'd have freaked out. But now I'm the seasoned mother of four boys, with the nerves - and stomach - of steel that raising a gaggle of dudes tends to provide. I just shook my head (mostly to clear the haunting visions of dentist bills) and said, "Go rinse your mouth out before you get blood on the carpet, and then save that tooth for the Tooth Fairy."*

*Who may or may not have forgotten to come, but hey.

I'd have tacked on the obligatory motherly addition of, "... and be more careful," but by this point I have learned that such a phrase is a pointless waste of breath. Boys are rough. They just are.

I once read an article that I absolutely loved: A Plea for Boyhood and Rough Play. It spoke to me so deeply. The author, Celeste Brinson, put into words so eloquently what I see in my boys every single day: the innate need to climb and tackle and tumble and wallop. They're not being bad. They're being boys.

Are there exceptions? Absolutely. There are always exceptions, to just about everything. Some girls are rough, and some boys are not. But the people who do have the exceptions got so rude in the comment section of Celeste's post - saying that it's a learned behavior, that if her parenting were different (or, let's be real, better) that her son wouldn't be such a hooligan.

There are few things I consider myself an expert on - I mean, I have to Google "how to hard-boil an egg" every time I do it. But I've had an all-boy household for the last decade. I have been immersed in boyhood for that long; literally, twenty-four hours a day, I'm with one or more little boys. And let me tell y'all something, loud and clear:

BOYS ARE LIKE THIS. Trust me. If yours isn't, have another - or two more - and then see. Maybe it's something about a group of them. A boy who's an only child, or perhaps one with a more mild-mannered sister, may not be as rough or at least not as demonstrative of that quality. But in most cases - and especially when you have more than one boy - this is what you're in for. The stereotype of "all boy" exists for a reason - yet, judging by people's reactions to that post, that really ruffles some feathers. I don't understand why. It is what it is.

Before I had kids, or even when I only had one, I'd have poo-poohed the notion that any of this behavior was inherently "boyish." My oldest, my firstborn son, isn't as physical as his little brothers. He's into computers, not wrestling or sports, and recently requested piano lessons. He wasn't a particularly rough kid, especially not when he was by himself - and had he been the only boy, I imagine I'd still be one of those people who insists this behavior is learned because "my son isn't like that." But then his three male siblings came along, one right after the other, and they are all rough-and-tumble in varying degrees. And now, even my "non-physical" oldest son joins right in (and, okay, sometimes instigates) ... because when you live with a pack of boys, that's what happens. They act like boys. Want proof? Ask any mom of more than one male - and especially moms of three or more. Or just watch this.


Boys will be boys. It's true.

Does that mean boys will be brats? Of course not. My sons know that there is a time and a place for roughhousing. They're obviously not going to do it, say, in the middle of dinner at a restaurant or during church or whatever. I don't care if it is in their nature, it's expected - nay, demanded - that they also control their impulses when they're in a public place, and they're very much aware of this.

Also, there's a clear distinction between playing rough and hurting or antagonizing or bullying. I'm not talking about aggression, and YES, there is a (very big) difference. I think that's a concept that people who are unfamiliar with the nature of boys don't grasp. They seem to think that the only purpose of roughness is to hurt someone.

But dudes just wrestle and pounce and leap for the sake of wrestling and pouncing and leaping. Because it's what dudes do. They will literally be standing there one second, watching TV or something, and next thing you know someone takes a flying leap out of nowhere and then they're rolling across the floor. It's an attack, but without malice - and I guess that's kind of odd if you're not used to it. Ever seen puppies play together? Or a cat sneak up on another cat? It's pretty much the same. It's just that sometimes, there are busted-out teeth involved.

Luckily, when you're proud of your new toothless gap, you've got a good story to tell your friends - and you use your Tooth Fairy money to buy your brother some candy, so you can show there's no hard feelings.

Don't let their antics fool you. Boys may be rough, but they're also soft.


There are lots of things I wouldn't mind waking up to. Like Ryan Reynolds the smell of bacon. Or the beautiful sunlight sparkling through the window. Or the blissful chirping of frolicking birds.

But a toddler saying, "There's poop on the floor and I stepped in it," isn't on the list.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what jolted me into (harsh) reality first thing this morning. We have two dogs, and it couldn't be the small delicate turds of our pug - oh, no. The dumping culprit was our lab, who weighs more than my kids and poops like a triceratops. I was pretty pissed off as I scrubbed the carpet. I had a morning to-do list as long as my arm, and children to get ready and schlep off to school, and dealing with a crappy surprise wasn't exactly on my agenda.

By the time I finished, I was running behind schedule. I dashed downstairs to grab the kids' clothes from the dryer - not to mention two pairs of shoes which had gotten muddy in the creek. Here's the thing about boys' wardrobes: they're small. My kids go through jeans so fast that they literally only have one decent pair, maybe two, at any given time - which is why every night, I do laundry and throw it in the dryer before I go to bed. And those two pairs of shoes are my first-grader Coby's ONLY footwear.

So you can imagine my dismay when I realized that our dryer had quit working after I had gone to bed, and was heaped with a load of wet clothing and shoes that my kids were supposed to wear to school in like twenty minutes.

I scrambled around and found two decent pairs of school jeans, and put my second-grader in the least holey-and-grass-stained pair of play jeans I could find. As for the shoes, Coby had to wear them to school damp, and I was sure to throw in a motherly lecture about how "if you wouldn't have worn them in the creek like you weren't supposed to, you wouldn't be in this situation."

While the kids were getting dressed, I was rushing like a madwoman to get my own clothes on because a.) I had to drop them off at school, and I like to be dressed lest something like this happen again, and b.) I had a morning Zumba class to teach. I grabbed my favorite pair of workout pants - the ones I always wear - and pulled them on. That's when I realized the waistband was damp.

Startled, I snatched them off and hesitantly lifted them to my nose.

Freaking cat pee. Vanessa the Terrible had struck again. (Guess who never did make her an appointment to get spayed?) I washed them, but here I was, dryer-less. I wore paint-stained yoga pants to school drop-off in hopes that my Zumba pants would be dry by the time I got home - but no. They were still wet when I put them on.

Getting ready to walk out the door for Zumba, I decided to fix my three-year-old's hair before leaving. But when I sprinkled a little water in it to make it lay down? It foamed. This is what happens when you combine an independent toddler who wants to do everything by himself and a dad who happens to be supervising bathtime and is more than happy to let him. So I had to wash Corbin's hair in the sink. And as if that didn't make me late enough, my "low tire" light came on while I was driving to the gym so I had to stop and air it up. Only it didn't specify which one was low and they all looked fine to me, so I put air in all of them.

Today might be Wednesday, but it was like Monday. On steroids.

It wasn't the kind of morning I'd wish to have. But then I got on Facebook - and I read an article about a woman who was burying her three children and her father, all of whom were killed by a drunk driver. Then I scrolled down and watched a video of a Haitian community literally eating patties made of dirt just to fill their stomachs.

It gave me a very humbling and much-needed dose of perspective. And it helped me to know that - broken dryer and pain-in-the-ass pets and toddlers and low tires and all - I have it made. So very, very made.

... Even on a Monday-ish Wednesday.

Dear Weather ...

Dear Weather,

I think I can safely speak for people in fickle climates everywhere when I say this: make up your damn mind.

It's mid-October right now, and you apparently can't decide whether to be balmy and summer-like or breezy and crisp. Because one day it's like eighty degrees, and the next day I'm in boots and a sweater with a hankering for chili. And on the occasions when I've been browsing Pinterest and have found a fun new way to tie a scarf so maybe I'll finally look fashionable? You throw a kink in my plans like, "Nope! It's tank top weather, bitch."

Don't even get me started on the indoor temperature, Weather. In the morning I need the heat on. In the afternoon I need the air conditioner. When I think, "I'll cool the house off by sleeping with the windows cracked," it's practically Arctic in here by 6 a.m. and I wake up with a sore throat. WTF.

And how can I (appear to) be a good mom when I have no idea how to dress my kids in a weather-appropriate manner? Between the summer shorts and the long sleeves and jeans, my laundry basket overfloweth. I JUST WANT TO PUT AWAY THE SUMMER CLOTHES, OKAY?! I'm tired of dipping into storage totes to retrieve clothing I thought my kids would no longer need.

If we were in a relationship, Weather, we'd be one of those couples who fights publicly on Facebook and then unfriends each other and changes their profile to "Single" and makes their status something like "Good riddance to that dead weight!" and then a few hours later it's updated to "Engaged" with a picture of us kissing, #blessed and #soinlove.

I'm tired of the ups and downs.

Bottom line, Weather, I'm gonna need you to stop being a capricious asshole and commit already. You're really getting in the way of my wardrobe of comfortable, fat-roll-disguising hoodies.



My husband has a problem. And it's this.

Or maybe I should say I have the problem, since I have to live with him. AND HIS HORRIBLE FAKE TEETH THAT HE WEARS FOR THE MOST RANDOM OCCASIONS.

It's been just about a year since I wrote this post about how the teeth came into our lives. Let me say that again: a year. And yet ... the above photo? Was taken last week.

Let's ignore for a moment that they're probably crawling with, like, flesh-eating bacteria by now. We'll focus on the fact that it has been a full year, and what I thought (hoped?) would be a phase is clearly more of a ... psychological issue quirk. I figure he'd wear them for a week or two and then lose them in various places the way he does with, you know, his wedding ring.

But no. The man may misplace the very symbol of our marriage, but he damn well knows where his rotten-ass plastic dentures are at all times.

Here's a photo of him wearing them in the Dairy Queen drive-through over the summer:

The cashier did a serious double-take.

Fun fact: he tried to order with them in, but they couldn't understand him so he had to take them out and repeat himself.

Or how about this picture from when we went - wait for it - Christmas shopping?

Because nothing says "holiday magic" like obnoxious fake teeth.

He recently flew to the east coast for work and as he was leaving I joked, "Do you want your teeth?" and the man actually hesitated as though he were seriously considering packing the teeth for a damn business trip.

I'd surreptitiously pitch them in the trash while he's gone one day, but I'm afraid that would be grounds for divorce. He would definitely notice their absence. Besides, he usually keeps them at the ready in the console of the car, because you never know when you're going to need disgusting false teeth at a moment's notice. *eye roll*

I'm thinking I need to stage a denture-vention here.

... Or at least buy him a clean set.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin