Tag Archives: children

I almost didn’t write to you because I couldn’t decide what to say.

I have trouble making decisions. It used to be about big things: jobs, where to live, or who to date. Now that I’m married and have kids, and I stay at home with them all day, it’s gotten to the point where I second-guess myself on everything I do. I can’t decide what to give them for lunch, I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about whether we should go to the library or Gymboree class in the morning. It’s exhausting and it’s making me cranky with my kids and my husband. How can I stop doing this?

Make a really, really bad decision. Throw caution to the wind and instead of giving yourself an ulcer trying to choose between feeding the kids turkey and carrot sticks or peanut butter and jelly, you’re going to get them a Happy Meal with fries and Sprite. Then see what happens. My guess is this: nothing. Maybe they’ll get a little nauseous from having soda at the age of 2, but I bet that’s the extent of it.

Then make some more bad decisions. Don’t fret over getting your husband an awesome present for his birthday; get him a six-pack and some scratch tickets. I bet he’ll be just fine. I bet he’ll even offer to split the six-pack with you.

Try writing your options down on pieces of paper and choosing out of a hat. Even if you suspect the library is going to be better than the playground, just say f it and go to the playground. If there’s a mosquito swarm and a lightning storm and a convention of Kidnappers Anonymous going on in the parking lot, don’t sweat it; no big deal! Just pack up and go.

See how easy that is?

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I’d rather cut out my tongue than share my babysitter.

I like my friend, but I love my babysitter. My friend asked for my babysitter’s phone number. Do I have to give it to her? I don’t want to deprive the sitter of money or jobs, but I’m afraid she won’t be available when I want her.

I would lie and say you don’t have her number anymore, and that she just shows up every once in a while, Marry Poppins-style, floating onto your doorstep with a red umbrella.

Or you could be like the Mafia and demand that your babysitter give you a share from all money she earns because of you. You could even threaten to break her kneecaps if she doesn’t pay up. I bet she’ll refuse all other jobs.

Or, you could do what I’ve done in this situation, which is to give the sitter’s number, and then tell your sitter, “I just gave my friend your number because I think you’re a terrific babysitter.” Because mine is so awesome, she’ll call me if my friend calls her, just to make sure I don’t need her. Totally awesome.

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Homeschooling seems more and more attractive with each passing day.

I’m a teacher, and I also have young children who are about to start school. I occasionally tutor other teachers to help them pass their state exams for certification. Some of these people scare the crap out of me, especially considering the fact that they’re going to be teaching my kids in a couple years. They’re angry about having to be tested in the first place, so their attitudes suck. Frankly, I would be angry, too, if I had no concept of basic mathematics at the age of 30. I feel morally conflicted about tutoring these folks because I just don’t think there’s a good chance that they’ll become successful educators.

During my short time as a teacher, I learned some valuable lessons: 1.) Children will sneak into the parking lot and peek through your car windows, so don’t leave anything on the front seat that you don’t want them to see. 2.) Never offer to chaperone a junior-high dance. 3.) Parents scream at you when you give their children bad grades.

I also learned something, I think, at some point, about students rising to meet your expectations, and that by pushing your students, you can help them see the possibilities. So maybe you should go to tutoring next week, guns blazing (please, not literally), and attack this problem all Lean On Me/Dangerous Minds/Stand And Deliver/To Sir, With Love.

They’re going to teach eventually, whether you help them with math or not, so you might as well try and get them a little fired up about it.

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I’m lazy and my husband is very, very busy.

My husband plays with our son for hours on the beach.  He plays with him so much that my son does not want to play with me (I have NO problems with this). I read and watch them play. Both appear as happy as clams. Sometimes I am sure my husband is having more fun. We got home today and got in an argument about him changing the light bulb ( I cannot reach it) that has been out in my closet for over a week now. He was not prepared to change it for me. Required too much effort. He yelled,”I’m not the one who sits on my ass at the beach all day, every day we go to the beach.”

I like sitting on my ass at the beach…what do I do now?

First of all, accept the fact that changing a light bulb is exhausting, especially after a long day of frolicking in the sun. You should have let him take a long nap and then asked. You also should have offered to do some kind of sexual favor afterward just to let him know how much you appreciate the time it took to change that light bulb.

It sounds to me like your husband is one of those Even Steven types of people…he sees playing with your son as a responsibility, which, no matter how much fun it is, is still something he’s obligated to do. So when you go to the beach, from now on bring some work with you. Perhaps you can bring the silver and some polish, and get that nasty chore out of the way while you sit your ass in your chair. Or you could bring some Woolite and a basin, and do the hand washing; or a cooler, a knife, and a cutting board, and cut up the chicken for tonight’s stir fry.

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Babies? Eh.

I’ve always assumed that I would have kids. As I get closer to that reality I realize I am secretly worried I’m going to wreck them or, worse, hate them and be stuck with them forever. That doesn’t seem maternal, does it? I haven’t told my fiance this because it would make him freak out. Is this normal or something I should investigate further (possibly with the help of a trained professional)?

Think of the biggest asshole you lived with in college. The one who peed the bed, had loud friends over, threw her dirty clothes all over the place, had severe boundary issues, and thought the floor was an acceptable place to keep unwrapped food. Imagine this every day for the next 18 years. There. That’s what it’s like to have a kid. They can be assholes.

It’s possible you’ll hate them on occasion, but unless you’ve been diagnosed with attachment disorder, I’m sure you’ll love them, too. I’m also sure you’re going to wreck them, but whatever. Everybody does that. No one is ever “ready” to have kids; until they’re here and there’s no turning back, you’re going to be scared shitless. And then you’ll continue to be so for the rest of your life.

If you really don’t want babies, though, you need to tell your fiancé. It’s profoundly unfair to marry someone who definitely wants children when you’re not sure you want them yourself. Being unsure means you could go either way; he seems like he’s already decided.

Therapy can’t make you want to have kids, but it could help you figure out why you’re so scared of wrecking yours. It could also help you figure out why you think you’re ready to spend the rest of your life with someone when you can’t even tell him something REALLY SIGNIFICANT like that fact that you might not want kids. Not having children isn’t a big deal–tons of people don’t have them and are deliriously happy. Pretending you want them in order to please someone, though, is a big deal.

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My daughter wants more money.

Our daughter is graduating this June and will be off to college in the Fall. My husband and I with our daughter are trying to set up a budget for her.  Food, room, tuition and all clothes are being provided. So we decided to give her twenty dollars a week for spending money.  She is very upset with this amount. We have asked where the additional money will be spent. Are we being unfair?  We are not a wealthy family and she is getting loans for her education.

Yes, you’re being unfair.

You’re forgetting a major expense for college students everywhere: apple juice.

College students drink a lot of apple juice, and if your daughter can’t afford to buy enough, she might have to resort to flirting with boys in order to get them to buy her apple juice. You definitely don’t want this to happen.

If you can’t give her any more money, maybe she could get a job during the summer and save that money for her expenses during the school year. Or she could take out exra loans for living expenses. If you’re teaching her to budget, and all those other items are being paid for, she should learn to be resourceful and mature enough to come up with the rest of the money she needs.

So much apple juice…

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I work really hard and my spouse is at home watching Oprah and eating bon bons all day.

I work full-time and my husband is a stay-at-home dad. When I come home at the end of the day, the house is a mess, the kids are fighting, the TV is always on, and he’s in the worst mood. We decided that I would work and he would stay home because it made the most economic sense, but I resent having to clean up the messes they made during the day, and I feel like he could make a better effort to entertain the kids. We fight all the time and our relationship really sucks right now.

If you were a man, I’d go find you and scratch your eyes out. Then I’d put them back in so you could see me yelling at you about how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mom.

Since I feel some solidarity with the ladies, there will be no eye-scratching, but there will be yelling. BEING A STAY-AT-HOME PARENT IS HARD. My poor husband used to come home from work to find all three of us crying. I regularly presented him with the home-cooked delicacy of defrosted chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Sometimes, I was still in my pajamas. It was totally hot.

Babies are difficult, and being with them all day can make a person crazy. Cut him some slack, and consider this: you come home after a shitty day of pressure and stress and 27 conference calls that accomplished absolutely zero, and you’re worried about making your commission this month, and you’re all pissed off that your assistant forgot to send that important email and your boss yelled at you for 20 minutes about it. You need a break. Your husband was puked on by the cat, the two-year-old, and the two-year-old’s friend who came over for a playdate. Then, the dishwasher leaked all over the kitchen floor and while he was cleaning it up, the baby crawled under the kitchen sink which was left open in your husband’s haste to find a sponge. The baby might or might not have drank some Lysol, so while your husband is mopping up soapy water, he’s on the phone with poison control, trying to keep the toddler from tracking water all over the house, and keeping an eye on the baby to make sure it doesn’t suddenly collapse from drinking a toxic substance. He needs a break.

Unfortunately, children don’t allow you to take breaks. I think you both need to lay out your expectations of what your own responsibilities should be and what you think the other person should be taking care of. If they don’t match up, figure out how you can get in sync. I’m not talking about some anal-retentive list where you’re each doing exactly 1.3 loads of laundry a day; I think it needs to be more fluid. The strain on your relationship is coming from finger-pointing and blaming and misplaced expectations. Figure out what needs to be done, and figure out who’s going to do it, and I think it’ll be less stressful.

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Grandma and grandpa might kill me and my kid. Figuratively and literally.

I have the best husband in the world but his (divorced) parents literally make me want to scratch my face off.  His mother is generous and kind but so high strung and totally overbearing with my son.  She thinks she knows best and makes comments that make me feel useless as a mother.  My father-in-law rough plays with my son and I find myself awake at night worrying that he will break his neck.  He has been rude to my family but in such a way that he gets away with it.  He too pretends he is all-knowing about raising a child when he is clearly clueless.  My husband knows these feelings but I want them to know.  How do you recommend I approach this very sensitive topic?  Or should I hold this in forever to keep the peace?

I wouldn’t know anything about mothers-in-law like that, because mine is a perfect angel who thinks everything I do is amazing.

But if I did, say, have a mother-in-law who once gave my son an entire dozen doughnuts “just to see what he would do,” or buys my kids toy guns despite my misgivings because “boys need to be boys,” or innocently forwards me emails and clipped articles from the National Enquirer regarding everything from peanut butter allergies to internet predators, I would tell you this:

You’re lucky.

You said it yourself: she’s generous and kind. She cares enough to be engaged in your lives, and obviously loves your kid. You feel useless as a mother because she’s poking her grandmotherly finger into the part of you that every mom has–that you’re not doing a good job, or you’re not doing the best you can. This is nonsense. You are. Just listen to what she has to say, nod thoughtfully, and then go into the other room and bang your head against the wall or do a shot of tequila or whatever it is that will make you feel better for the moment.

Your father-in-law, however, is a boob. He can’t make him less rude or obnoxious, but your husband needs to tell him to stop the rough play. How he does that is his own business. (Oh, I know how cowardly this seems, but really, a rude jerk-off who thinks its okay to muscle a little kid around under the guise of playing isn’t someone you should have to deal with.) If your husband won’t do it, then just don’t leave your son alone with his grandfather. When the wrestling match starts, pick the kid up and move him elsewhere. Repeat as needed.

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