Five Situations that All Parents Fear

It's almost Halloween, so spooky things abound (like my face when I woke up this morning. The bags under my eyes could have held ten pounds of Halloween candy. Ugh!).

As parents, we're always the ones reassuring our kids that things aren't really as scary as they seem. There are no monsters in the closet. There are no zombies in the backyard. The Woosta-Wah Fart Smeller is just something your brother made up. We're the dispellers of myths, the banishers of fears, the reassurers that everything is going to be all right.

But when something makes us panic, we can't usually count on our kids to return the favor. In fact, they're the cause of the paranoia, more often than not - like when these five freakout-inducing situations occur.

"I feel like I'm gonna throw up." Nothing can bring my good mood screeching to a halt faster than a vomiting child. I start praying like a priest at an exorcism, hoping against hope that it's just a one-time thing. "It must be something you ate!" I say brightly, as though saying it out loud will make it true. It's just that when one child starts, it inevitably spreads to the rest of the household like a chain of diarrhea dominoes, including me - which means that more often than not, I'm trying not to heave while cleaning up someone else's bodily fluids. No bueno. Stomach viruses are a nightmare - no, they're worse.

A call from the school. When the caller ID shows that my kids' school is calling, you better believe I'm steeling myself to receive some sort of disheartening news. Is somebody sick? Is somebody hurt? Is someone in trouble? Did someone say "penis" in his Kindergarten classroom? In five years of having school-aged children, I've never once had a phone call from there that was like, "Hey, we just wanted to tell you that your kids are fantastic and they're our favorite students and we're wondering what your amazing parenting secrets are?"

An unsettling noise from the other room. It might be a crash. Or a splash. Or a thud. Or a gasp, or an "uh-oh." Whatever it is, it's never a good sign - especially if it's followed by dead silence. Because you just know that it's some heinous mess, or a valuable object shattered into a bazillion pieces, and that right about now your kid is staring at it wide-eyed, trying to figure out how to fix it before Mom and Dad find out.

An embarrassing question. You're going along about your day, everything is normal, and then bam! - your kid drops a bombshell, asking a question you're so not ready to answer. Whether it's an unexpected inquiry about the birds and the bees or, "Mommy, what's a whore?", you've got to work through the blind panic that rips through you and come up with a reasonable, age-appropriate answer. (Just don't attempt to illustrate your point via hand gestures, like I did. Learn from my mistakes.)

When kids say the darndest things. Along those same lines, we have the lovely tidbits that kids interject at the most inopportune (read: embarrassing) times. As we grow, we develop a social filter that keeps us from saying these things - but before that filter is in place, you never know when your child is going to say something (loudly, natch) that will leave you utterly mortified, wishing that you had a roll of duct tape handy. One of my kids told his teacher that she reminded him of a Muppet. One announced to a crowded lobby that I had pooped that morning. One questioned the gender of our waitress (re-peat-ed-ly). They have a knack for creating awkward situations that you, as a parent, must then stumble your way out of. Talk about nerve-wracking.

Our kids are scared of things that are easily remedied - just a reassuring pat on the back or some "monster repellant" (water in an old spray bottle or something) and they're good to go. But the fearful scenarios they can lead us into are far more tricky. At least they're funny in retrospect.

... Well, sometimes.

The Instrument (of Torture)

Fourth grade is an important year. It's the year that most kids turn double-digits. It's the year that they go from being the little fish in the school hallways to being in the "upper elementary" grades. And it's the year in which fourth-grade parents everywhere are subjected to a rite of passage so taxing, so torturous, that Satan himself would chuckle with approval.

Your fourth-grader brings home .....

... a recorder.

It doesn't matter if your kid is a complete instrumental novice or some sort of gifted virtuoso - recorders all sound the same. Their toot-toot-tooting is at a frequency that hammers at your eardrums like a woodpecker. And if your kid is anything like most, the "woodpecker" is ever-present, at least for the first few days.

Colin brought his home at the end of last week, brandishing it proudly in its little felt bag. He proceeded to play "Hot Cross Buns,"emitting a few squeaky, off-key notes during the rendition. And then he played it again. And then again.

Practicing, he called it. My music teacher told us we should, he said.

And, like, what can you say about it as a conscientious parent? I mean, it's something he brought home from school. Something he's supposed to learn. It isn't like we can be all, "Stop that practicing! Put that thing away and leave it alone!" Because it's like homework. High-pitched, ear-splitting, repetitively annoying homework. "Hot Cross Buns" on loop.

Of course when only one of your children has a recorder, it's automatically the coolest thing on the face of the planet and the other children want to play it. Badly. As though it's some magical flute whose notes will produce a sparkling horde of candy-farting unicorns. This resulted in huge fights about whose turn it is to play, and endless explanations about how this is Colin's special school thing and that it needs to be kept in a safe place, and the realization that they failed to listen to said explanations because they kept sneaking the damn thing out of Colin's backpack to play it. (Apparently small children don't get that you can't exactly play a screechy recorder unnoticed.) Did I mention that this happened at times when they thought their brother wasn't looking ... such as the crack of dawn?

Yeah. It's like that.

This morning, I checked like thirty times to make sure the recorder was in his backpack so that he could take the infernal thing back to school. Colin was bouncing around by the door, saying, "I'm excited about school today!"

"Well that's good!" I said brightly. "And why are you so excited?"

"Because we're learning a new song on the recorder!"


The only thing stopping me from going downright nuts is that I remember when I was a fourth-grader, and how awesome it felt to bring home my very own instrument (never mind that it was an instrument of torture. Sorry, Mom). And I wouldn't begrudge my kids that feeling.

If you need me, I'll be out buying earplugs before Colin gets home.

Foodie vs. Fitness

It's baking season, y'all. And soup weather.*

*(Just don't almost accidentally get your kids drunk when you try to make French onion soup, mmkay?.)

If you don't know what I mean by "baking season," I'm not sure we can still be friends.

The trees are changing into their gorgeous autumn outfits in preparation for their slow strip-tease into bare branches. And I'm changing into my loose sweaters and extra-chin-camouflaging scarves. (And my fat pants.) Not solely because of the cooler weather, but because the compulsion to bake and eat at this time of year tends to overtake me. So come January, I'm usually wearing something else: an extra ten pounds.

Okay, okay ... fifteen. Sheesh.

This year, in an effort to thwart the outward expansion of my thighs, I'm trying to ramp up the amount of exercise I'm doing. Because lord knows I'd rather do a little more moving than a little less eating. I mean ... baked goods and soup! (And Halloween candy. And Thanksgiving dinner.)

But I'm finding that I'm not very easily motivated. You know what motivates me? Food. Which, for obvious reasons, is kind of an issue. I feel like there's something wrong with me when I'm not inspired by those Pinterest photos of chicks with rock-hard bodies, rivulets of sweat trickling down their determined faces. Seriously, all I can do is feel sad that they won't be experiencing the cozy bliss that is a pot of chili simmering on the stovetop and an apple pie in the oven on a brisk, breezy day.*

*I suppose they won't be experiencing fat days, either, but I never think about it that way. 

I wish I could view kale chips and Paleo whatever-people-are-eating as delicious alternatives - but alas, try as I might, I'm not wired that way. The thought of giving up my foodie-ness makes me sad. 

But so does the thought of the fall-and-winter poundage that I pack on like a bear preparing for hibernation. Which is why I did fifty squats last night while waiting for my chocolate chip cookies to bake. 

That's gotta count for something, right?

The Demented Dentures

Halloween is coming up. I'm not what you'd call "crafty" or "talented at sewing" (I once tried to hem a toddler-sized cow costume and ended up making the legs capri-length) so we buy our kids' costumes. Hence the reason for our trip to the ridiculously-overpriced Halloween store late last week.

Our nine-year-old wants to be a zombie. When he told me this I was all, "Yay cheap costume!" because I envisioned some torn-up dirty old clothes (which we have in abundance around here) and some cheap face paint. But of course, he wanted the fancy putty-stuff to make scars with and the (seven dollar!) decaying teeth that you put over your own. Ugh.

When he said he wanted the teeth, I was skeptical. I mean, the kid hates tags in his clothes - I couldn't imagine how he'd feel about sporting a big hunk of plastic in his mouth for the duration of Halloween. But before I could point that out, thereby saving myself seven bucks and a whole bunch of inevitable whining, my husband was like, "Wow, buddy, those are awesome! I think they'll be perfect."

So, we bought the teeth.

Just as I'd expected, Colin had them in his mouth for all of 2.5 seconds before he deemed them too uncomfortable and abandoned them on the kitchen counter. I was just about to launch into an epic "I told you so" speech when I noticed that the teeth were gone.

I had to chuckle when I saw where they'd ended up.

They might have been too big for Colin's little mouth, but they fit oddly perfectly into Curtis's. We had a good laugh, and I figured that was that.

Only it wasn't. Because the teeth kept reappearing. Or, more accurately, they never really disappeared. Curtis was obsessed with the damn things. Just as I thought he had put them away for good, they would materialize out of his pocket. All. Weekend. LONG.

He wore them with our Kindergartner's Harry Potter glasses.

He wore them while playing video games with the kids.

He wore them while on the computer.

He wore them while on the phone. WITH HIS WORK.

He wore them at dinner.

He wore them in bed.

Yesterday, he took them to his office and wore them when he spoke at his morning meeting. (Did I mention that when he wears the teeth, his accent typically slips into a redneckish drawl?) And he had them in last night. They're in his pocket as we speak, ready for their next great adventure. I can't take him anywhere without risking total mortification. He hasn't embarrassed me this much since that time he followed me around Target making farting noises.

At least we've gotten our seven dollars' worth. And then some.

Ten Things that Piss Me Off About Cleaning

Cleaning. It takes up a substantial portion of my day, which I hate, because there are things I'd much rather be doing ... like sitting on my couch watching "Sex and the City" reruns working on my writing and playing with my kids. But there are six people in my household, and five of them are messy. That's not even counting the two dogs and the cat. So cleaning is a necessary evil, like a mythical beast I have to keep taming before it overtakes my entire kingdom. 

But here's what pisses me off most about it.

#1: The fact that I have to do it. At all. 
I mean ... letting all the housework go would be soooo much easier. I'd never be obligated to scrub the toilet again. I'd coexist peacefully with dust and turds and crumbs, chillin' with the roaches. This couldn't ever really happen, of course, because a.) I value not having my kids taken out of my custody (and not living in an episode of "Hoarders,") and b.) I am entirely too much of a neat freak. Which brings me to our #2 spot ...

#2: Cleaning crap I can't reach.
If I could, I would totally ignore everything that is above eye-level. And I'm not gonna lie - sometimes I do. It's not like I clear the top of the fridge every time I clean. However, between that, and the ceiling fans, and the tops of door frames and book cases, and the knickknacks on top of my kitchen cabinets ... there's always something to knock the dust off of. Except these places are hard to reach, so it's like adding insult to injury: not only do I have to clean them, but cleaning them involves huffing and puffing and reaching and grunting and straining. Don't even get me started on what's behind and under things. I know for a fact there's enough hair under my couch to manufacture a Donald Trump toupee for every bald guy within a fifty-mile radius. And speaking of hair ...

#3: The stuff that collects in the crack between the wall and the floor.
Vacuuming my carpet isn't all that bad. I just stand there pushing the vacuum back and forth, hoping I'm burning calories. What sucks (besides my vacuum, I mean) is the junk that it won't reach: the dog hair and dust bunnies and whatever that lodges in the crevice where the floor and wall meet. If you're lucky enough to have a vacuum with a crevice tool, it's not such a chore - but I happen to have a dog who used to be an asshole a puppy and decided to chew mine up. Which is why I'm always down on my hands and knees clearing the stupid crack with my fingers. And while we're on the subject of things that are really hard to get?

#4: That last line of dust that JUST. WON'T. GO. IN. THE DUST PAN.
You know what I'm talking about. You sweep the pile of yuckiness into the dust pan, and three feelings follow. First, disgust (all that was on my floor?). Then, triumph (woohoo! Done sweeping!). And then ... dismay. Because you notice that last little thin line of dust - the one that collects at the edge of the dust pan - the one that, no matter how often you do the move-and-sweep maneuver, stays stubbornly behind. You have to clean it up with, like, a damp paper towel. And who wants to do that? I mean, you already had to sweep. Ugh. But I guess even the rogue dust line is better than ...

#5: That liquid funk in the bottom of the trash can.
I don't put hazardous waste in my kitchen trash (I save all that for the trash can in the garage). I have a garbage disposal that I put leftovers and vegetable peelings and stuff in. So WHY, for the love of all that is holy, is there always a thin layer of some wet, funky liquid in the bottom of my trash can when I lift the bag up? For years, I've been making fun of my mom because she wraps everything in foil before she throws it away, but I don't think she ever has this problem, so maybe she's onto something. (Don't tell her I said that.)

However, I'd rather deal with the mysterious disgusting garbage-juice a million times than ...

One of the two toilets in my house is used exclusively by little boys which means it has to be cleaned incessantly. Because no matter how you try to teach them, they have an astounding lack of aim. I don't care if they pee sitting down - they still manage to spray it somehow over the seat, where it seeps underneath, trickles down the side, and collects into a concentrated yellow crust along the base. (And sometimes, they just straight-up pee on the floor as they focus on everything but where they're supposed to be peeing.) The pee smell is enough to burn the hair right out of your nostrils. So is the bleach I use, but hey, which would you rather smell?

I suppose dealing with the toilet is only a little bit worse than dealing with ...

#7: The other "surprises" my kids leave.
Children are great at forgetting where the trash can is. (Or, you know, the toilet.) In the near-decade that I've been a mother, I've found poop in my plunger (and my washing machine, and other random and ridiculous places). I've washed and dried things that never should be washed and dried (like crayons and Kleenex). I've found sippy cups full of curdled milk, a water gun full of rancid pee, and once excavated this little gem from the very bottom of the toy box ...

It used to be corn. 

Then the other day I found chunks of pre-chewed string cheese lined up along the base of our TV. You've gotta love toddlers.*

*Seriously. Because if you don't, they will make your life a living hell.

I love a clean house, but you know what else pisses me off?

#8: The fact that I have to do it my damn self. 
I get a little help here and there (too bad it isn't from a professional maid service). But for the most part, the cleanliness of this joint is left up to yours truly. My husband works approximately a bazillion hours a week - plus, he doesn't seem to care if the place is appallingly filthy. My boys are just getting old enough to do a few things on their own (my oldest can clean a toilet now - hallelujah!), but since they're still learning, it's never done to my standards which means that I have to redo it anyway. And then, as if to add salt to a wound ...

#9: The fact that it gets messed up again so quickly.
Cleaning would be so much more tolerable if it, like, stayed that way for a substantial period of time. Like if you only had to do it once a month - that'd be great. But nooooo. In my house it's like, "Oh, you just cleaned? Let me track in some mud and grass clippings and dribble juice all over the place and now would be a great time to brush the dog." I can Windex the windows until they're crystal-clear and literally within five minutes they're smudged with handprints and dog nose-prints and slobber. Sometimes I wonder why I bother. Especially since ...

#10: Nobody appreciates it the way I do.
Once upon a time, my laundry room floor looked like this.

And I took a picture of it, which I keep in my phone and stare longingly at from time to time. Because look at that gorgeous gleam! It smelled so nice. There was no grit underfoot, no kitty litter tracked anywhere, no dust ... just a beautiful, sparkling expanse of cleanliness, the reward for my grueling labor of sweeping and mopping.

But shortly after this photo was taken, the dog pooped on it (not the pug with the tiny turds, but the lab with the dumps the size of dinner plates). Because nobody else in my household - animal or human - truly grasps how awesome (or rare) this level of clean is.

I want to keep things nice. Nobody else cares. It's an eternal struggle.

Right now there are a million crusty surfaces in my house that need my attention. And here I sit, banging out a blog post. Why? Because while I love when everything is nice and clean, I hate actually cleaning it (and, okay, I'm a huge procrastinator). But I'd better get to it, because this shit's not going to clean itself.

... Unfortunately.

PS - Have you checked out the Giveaways & Reviews page lately? I'm giving away CHOCOLATE BOARD GAMES. And THREE of the newest water filtration products from PUR! Woot!

We Used to be Friends

We used to be friends, you and I. So comfortable together. I used to spend many hours dreamily engulfed in the calm and peaceful feelings your presence imparted. We were together all the time. Whenever I needed you, you were there. Instantly.

But since I became a mother, you've been ... scarce. With the addition of each child, you've grown even more distant. You're rarely around in my day-to-day life any more, only popping up on rare occasions. My life has taken a path that clearly doesn't facilitate our togetherness. So now, in those few-and-far-between times when you come around, I can barely enjoy you like I used to.

I have to admit, when you're here, it feels kind of weird. Awkward, you might say. I'm not used to you being around, the way I once was. I always say I'd like to see more of you, joke that a few minutes with you might save my sanity - but to be honest, while there are still times when I welcome you, it seems somehow wrong when you're in the room. It's like I don't know quite how to act around you these days.

We've grown apart; that's all there is to it. And maybe someday when my kids are grown and there's less laughter and playing and drama and chaos around here, you and I can reconcile. You'll come around a lot more often, and I can be completely at ease with your presence once again.

But until then, Silence, I've just got to do the Mom thing. And there's not much room for both of you.

I'll see you (and your friends Peace and Quiet) on the flip side.

Terrible Toddlers and Chocolate Confessions

It's Friday, and this has been a long week - my husband has been out of town on business, so I've been doin' the damn thang by myself for a few days. He's back now, thank goodness, which means the boys will finally have someone to pummel other than each other. Because boys are wrestle-y by nature, but I prefer it when they wrestle with their dad because at least he doesn't cry and tattle after a few minutes.

Anyway, since my brain is pretty much fried from the day-to-day events of the past week, this is going to be a very random post of bullet-pointed things.

Thing #1: Toddlers, man.

I have long maintained - through three kids, even - that whoever coined the term "terrible two" was delusional. That three is far worse than two.

But I'm pretty sure my two-year-old, Corbin, is actually in the throes of terrible two-dom. You wanna know why?

Because I told him he couldn't eat mustard for lunch.

Because I told him to take his brothers' toothbrushes out of his diaper.

Because he's just a bossy little beast.

So either I've got a child who is ACTUALLY experiencing the "terrible twos" ... or his threes are going to be hellish beyond my wildest dreams. Either way: gray hairs.

... And big hips. I'm going to blame those on him too. I mean, I'm sure he's responsible in some roundabout way.

Thing #2: The Walking Dead comes back on this weekend OMGOMGOMG.

I am so freaking excited. I've never, ever missed a single episode. I caught up on parts of the marathon they had this week after the kids went to bed. Wednesday evening, I flipped back and forth between The Walking Dead and the Teen Mom 2 Reunion Special and reflected that my tastes in TV are pretty weird. Anybody else??

Thing #3: You guys need to win stuff.

I reeeeeally need to revamp my Giveaways and Reviews page (and my blog in general), but until I do, here's a list of the stuff you can currently win from The Frump, conveniently hyperlinked so all you gotta do is click and you're set up to enter:

$100 Visa gift card from Vanity Fair! ← because hello? Free money??

A Pur Water Filtration product soooo new, it hasn't even hit store shelves yet (and I'm giving away THREE of them!)

And next week, I'll be giving away one of these:

That's right. They are DELICIOUS AND EDIBLE CHOCOLATE GAMES. Although .......

*deep breath*

This week I was PMS-ing so hard and Curtis was gone and I was desperately in need of chocolate so I ate the entire Monopoly set by myself. This is my confession.

*hides face*

Anyway, I've also got a few other fun giveaways coming up (if I don't, you know, eat them), so check back regularly!

Thing #4: I'll have some big news to share next week! Hint: I'm going to be in a book with some amaaaaaaazing writers (including the hilarious Hannah Mayer of sKIDmarks, whose guest post about asshole goats and injured vaginas was a huge hit around these parts)! And you're going to want to buy it, because the proceeds go to benefit a fantastic cause. Are you curious yet?

Okay. I think that's all the things, although I will inevitably remember ten more once I hit "publish."

Happy Friday, y'all!

Four Ways to Guarantee Amazing Sleep

Motherhood has changed me in many ways (involving, among other things, extra skin, unwanted chin hair, and the ability to double-knot the shoe of a flailing toddler in the blink of an eye). Some changes are beneficial, some are more undesirable - but all are woven into the fabric of who I became when I first took an accidental dump on the birthing table brought my first bundle of joy into the world.

We all experience things differently, but one truth about motherhood is nearly universal: you will never, ever sleep right again. Sure, maybe once every couple of years you'll get lucky and stumble upon a good night's rest, but for the most part, you'll be in a constant state of functional tiredness. And if you're like me, you'd give your right boob for a solid night of uninterrupted bliss.*

*I still have my right boob, so you can pretty much guess how that trade-off is working.

Mom-sleep is designed to keep us rested enough to carry on our motherly duties, but vigilant enough - even in our slumber - to detect (and subsequently handle) anything amiss in the middle of the night: nightmares, pee accidents, barf, children sneaking around, someone leaving the toilet seat up. (Because during those hours, dads are in "dad-sleep" mode which, miraculously, makes them completely unaware of even the most heinous happenings.) We are subjected to waking up a bazillion times a night, which directly correlates with the number of kids you've got: in other words, mo' children, mo' (sleep) problems.

There are a million suggestions out there to help you get better-quality sleep: take a warm bath before bed. Stop drinking anything after 6 p.m. Turn off the TV. Put away the smartphone. Keep the house at 68 degrees. Take melatonin supplements. Get a decent bed.

But as many of those as I've tried, I've never found a better solution to falling asleep than to put myself in the following scenarios. These situations never fail to produce a state of sleep so deep, so comfortable, that it's like you're on a lovely, fluffy, narcoleptic cloud.

- When you don't really have time for a nap. You've got five minutes before you have to pick up the kids, and you decide to spend it chilling on the couch. Suddenly it's like somebody shot you with a tranquilizer. And your lumpy couch is suddenly the most comfy spot ever. 

- When you're trying to work. When you're on your cushy mattress surrounded by a fortress of pillows, you lay there staring at the ceiling for an hour. But there's just something about a hard office chair, a desk, and a computer screen that makes your eyelids heavier than lead.

- When you're trying to watch a movie. The kids are finally in bed. You've got your popcorn and your couch and your sweetie and a new release. It's date night, all riiiiight. This movie is going to be so awesome, after you get through with ... all these ... pre ... views .... ZzZzZzZ.

- When your alarm is about to go off. You've slept fitfully all night. You check the clock; ten minutes until your alarm rings. You briefly consider getting up, but decide you want to get just ten more minutes of sleep. Amazingly, the bed you've been tossing and turning in suddenly morphs into the bed at a five-star hotel, your blankets to the softest and coziest fabrics imaginable, and you sink into a deep, restorative sleep. But then your alarm's all, "Psych! Time to get up, sucka!"

Of course, the trouble with these is that even though you fall into an awesome state of slumber, you don't usually get to stay there for long. You're on your own with figuring that one out (and if you do, please tell me!).

What, you thought this post might contain some good advice? ... Please.

I haven't had a good night's rest in almost ten years.

We Don't Speak About the "Antique"

Okay. So before we get into this post, I have to add a little disclaimer - if you are easily offended, a member of the clergy, a stalkery weirdo, my neighbor, my brother, or my former elementary school teacher, you might not want to read this. Might I suggest you click on over instead to read about when my husband compared me to a silverback gorilla? Or maybe this list of crappy things I did as a kid, which are obviously contributing factors to some very bad parenting karma.

Alrighty then. Moving forward.

I have ... a toy. Of the adult variety. You pickin' up what I'm layin' down?

Okay, good.

It's actually like a decade old. Way back eons ago, when Curtis and I were young and crazy and childless and living in Germany, I agreed to host a party. You know, like those Pampered Chef or Thirty-One or Mary Kay parties ... except with plastic penises and weird flavored gels and edible underwear.*

*Although I looked at those edible undies up close once and they're like a fruit roll-up (or fruit leather or whatever you call it. Who wants to eat a fruit roll-up with pubes stuck in it? And, like, there's nothing sexy about the way anybody chews a fruit roll-up. NOTHING. But I digress.

Unfortunately, I ended up getting sick like an hour before the party began. So I ended up missing the whole thing, staying quarantined inside our bedroom with a trash can at my bedside, while Curtis graciously hosted. Which is how we ended up with this photo.

Yes. That is exactly what you think it is.

He looks weirdly enthusiastic, doesn't he?

Anyway, he ended up being such a wonderful party host that the products sold like hotcakes. And because of that, I got to pick something for free. Soooo ... a big blue sparkly motorized rotating penis it was.

Fast-forward to a few years ago, when our oldest son Colin was about five. We had just rearranged our bedroom closet and he was rummaging around in some stuff when suddenly I heard a frantic buzzing sound, followed by an incredulous "Whoa!"

And my heart practically stopped beating as I whirled around to find, er, "Big Blue" in all his spinning, vibrating glory, clutched in my son's hands. "What's this?" Colin asked in delighted amazement.

"It's - an antique," I said as vaguely as I could manage, snatching it away from him. "It's, uh ... I'll just put this away." I prodded him toward the closet door, shutting him out as I buried Big Blue on the highest possible shelf, behind a bunch of junk.

"What's an antique?" I could hear his little voice asking from outside the closet.

I don't remember what I told him. But apparently it made an impression. Because a few days ago, we were at my mom's, and I was joking about this ceramic cat that she bought in the eighties and still decorates with:

I remarked that if she kept it much longer, it was going to be considered an antique.

To which Colin, now nine years old, replied, "Hey, like your antique!"

I was puzzled; I don't own any antiques. "My what?" I asked.

"You know," he said, with an edge of exasperation to his voice, like he couldn't believe I didn't know what he was talking about. "Your antique? The blue thing that makes a buzzing sound and spins all around? Whatever happened to that thing? Can we get it out and play with it?"

Oh. Mah. Gah.

My son was asking about my vibrator, of which he knows nothing except that it was a really cool contraption. And "an antique."

"Oh, that?" I said nonchalantly, dying a little inside. "I think I threw that away years ago."

Except, y'all? I didn't really.

But I might now.

PS - THREE lucky winners are going to win a PUR water filtration product so brand-new that it hasn't even hit store shelves yet! You know you want in on this! Check out the "Giveaways & Reviews" tab or just click here!

A Phone of His Own?

I was, like, the last person in the developed world to get a cell phone. Seriously. I was twenty-six or twenty-seven and the only reason I grudgingly got one is because I was in a minor wreck and had to rely on someone else to call for help.

(And no, the wreck wasn't my fault, thankyouverymuch.)

I was so behind the times that when I told people I didn't have a cell phone, they'd look at me like my eyebrows had turned into caterpillars and were inching their way across my face. "Everybody has a cell phone," they'd say, as if I didn't know.

Yesterday, I had a flashback to 2007 when I heard that phrase again ... only this time it was from my nine-year-old.

It started when I got a text. I expected it to be from one of the handful of people who regularly text me - but instead, it was from a number I didn't know, talking about, "So much homework!" and "Are you making that Minecraft video?" and a bunch of emoticons.

I haven't personally made a Minecraft video in ... well, ever. But I just happen to know someone who is obsessed with Minecraft, so I was pretty sure he was the intended recipient of the text.

"Colin?" I shouted in the direction of his bedroom. "Did you give one of your friends my phone number? Because I think you have a text."

It was as though I'd told him tomorrow was Christmas, the way he scrambled to snatch up the phone. "You can text with your friend for a little while," I told him, "but I need it back soon." Because hello, not having access to your own phone is a weird feeling.

When he was done with it, Colin asked the question that I was certain was coming: "Mom, can I get a phone?"

And I gave the answer that he had to know was coming: "No."

"But everybody has a phone," he said, proceeding to rattle off a list of his technologically-blessed classmates.

"Good for everybody," I said. "But you're nine years old. And your parents are mean. So you don't need a phone."

Seriously, is this a thing? Nine-year-old fourth-graders having their own phones? Because until yesterday, I had no idea that kids this young (not to mention MULTIPLE kids this young) had their own phones. I guess if there's a need - like, maybe if the kid's parents both work and he or she is in some sort of extracurricular activity or sport after school or something - I can see the practicality of it. But, like, my son literally has zero purpose for having his own phone at this point. And in my opinion, probably not for years to come.

I mean ... who wants to waste valuable data on conversations like this?

... I rest my case.


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