Monday, September 26, 2011


So, weird though this this may be to you, if you're watching my children and you take them to visit a known sexual offender, whether he molested 5 year olds, raped 12 and 13 year olds, or sexually assaulted adults, I no longer think of you as a safe, reliable childcare provider.

Yeah, you'd think that would be a no-brainer, right? Especially if, say, he'd committed crimes against you or relatives or friends, or all three?

If you call yourself a feminist or a womens' or child advocate and welcome people of that caliber into your home and around children and/or adolescents, I probably think you are worse than a hypocrite and, honestly, have lost some respect for you. I will probably never take you seriously when you profess your beliefs on, well, anything. I don't care how long you've know them or if they are related to you. I don't care if you changed their diapers. I don't care about what you think of as their "good" qualities. I don't care that you will "make sure they aren't ever alone in a room with children." They don't belong in a room with children, period. In my opinion they don't belong in a world with children. They don't belong in a world with people.

And almost more than I despise you taking him in and letting him around children, my children, I am deeply hurt and offended that I am threatened, blatantly and subtly, with familial rebuke if I disclose this person's identity and crimes against children. You can continue to call it "peace-keeping" if that helps you feel better about it. I call it condoning his actions, and in this context I'd rather be a truth speaker than peace keeper.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'll Run Away With Gypsies

In my world, waking up on the wrong side of the bed means waking up on the side some kid peed on. Today I woke up in a bed that was all wrong sides.

Last night as I was getting into bed I discovered that my toddler (who refuses to wear diapers) had wet the bed. I gently moved her, removed the waterproof bed cover, and went for a new one, only to discover there was not another clean, dry one. In the laundry room I transferred the ones from the washing machine into the dryer, and sleepily passed the time until it was dry. Finally, more than an hour after my first attempt, I went to sleep in a clean, dry bed.

I half woke when my five year climbed into bed with me. I half woke again when she climbed out a couple of hours later. I woke completely when I rolled over to where she had been laying and landed in a puddle of pee she'd left behind. I cursed. I stripped myself and the bed. I put on the other clean cover that I'd taken from the dryer only a few hours ago. I took a quick shower and went back to sleep. I woke maybe an hour later, a little earlier than regular wake up time, when my toddler got restless... and I felt the wet creeping from her pants onto me.

One short night. Three pee messes, (not counting the one the five year old left in her own bed). Pee on me twice. Six hours of broken sleep. I was not a happy camper this morning, and as usually happens, me being off my game somehow means everyone in the house is off their game as well.

Fast forward to mid-afternoon. I feel like I'm losing my mind. I was so tired, I even drank a soda - a caffeinated soda. My husband witnessed this and wondered who I was and what I had done with his wife. It almost helped perk me enough to seem worth it. The kids are behaving like wild beasties. My husband is irritating me by not doing things my way, and not intuitively knowing what he ought to be doing, and how, in order to best help fill the gaps my current foul disposition is leaving. He has now retreated to the garage. The house is even messier than usual. I've been doing urine-soaked laundry all day. There has been more whining and arguing and kids pinching each other than I currently feel capable of handling. I start another load of laundry, sit down at the computer and... am promptly interrupted by screaming from the other room, followed by whining and tattling, "Maaaaaaaaamaaaa..." "She did this." "She did that." Someone's plaything was stolen, someone's arm sports fingernail marks. You know that drill.

"That's it!" I yell. "I can't deal with this anymore. This is driving me crazy!" Not one of my finer moments, I realize even while yelling, "I'm selling you both to the gypsies!"

Pause. This is where it starts to get better. They're staring at me like I've lost my mind. Maybe I have. Maybe I need an attitude check as much as they do.

"Never mind," I say. "I'll go live with the gypsies. You two can stay here and keep screaming and making messes."

Four big eyes look at me.

"There's no real gypsies anymore, Mama... Are there," asks my five year old, brow furrowed.

"Yep. There are. And I'm going to live with them. I'm tired of trying to clean up all these messes by myself while you two scream and argue and make more messes." I am talking now, not yelling.

"Well, you're only allowed to take the clothes you're wearing," I am informed, in a stern tone.

I shrug. "Ok," I say.

"You'll have to wear them all the time, for the rest of your life. You won't have any clean ones to put on ever," she's using the serious voice still, but her brow has relaxed.

"Pssh. I can get new ones. I can make new ones. My new gypsy friends will let me borrow some of theirs until I get others." Somehow the mood is shifting. I think we all feel it.

"What if there's no gypsies your same size? And how will you buy new ones? You're not allowed to take any money. What will you eat." There's no more yelling, whining or toy-snatching going on. Seemingly by magic, where moments ago there was sibling rivalry and a frazzled mama there is now curiosity and imagination .

"There's lots of gypsies my size. I'll borrow some dancing clothes and scarves, and a pretty painted tambourine and a fancy hat. I'll dance and play the tambourine, and people who walk by will put money in the hat for me. I'll use that to buy food and new clothes, or fabric to make new clothes.Maybe I'll get a monkey and train it to dance too." I demonstrate, doing a little dance while shaking my imaginary tambourine.

Suddenly, we're story telling.

"You can take this with you, for when you make your clothes" she says, pointing to my sewing bust.

"No way," I say, "you keep it here. It's too big to carry. My back pack will be full, with my sleeping bag and my food and my first aid kit, and my monkey sitting on top."

As this tale of my life with gypsies unfolds, the toddler occasionally interjects, reiterating what the five year old and I say. In her signature fashion of creative grammar and emphatic speech, states, "you live gypeez!" and "you dance gypeez!" "You take seepin bag!? In yours pack pack!? Me. comin.' wis. you!?"

We go on to talk about how I don't like all the mess and angry noise that's been happening today, how they can stay here and make all the messes they want, and eat nothing but blueberries, granola bars, apple juice and yogurt if that's what they like, and scream and beat on each other if that's what they choose. The story evolves. We all end up living like gypsies, leaving the house to eat all the granola bars itself.

Eventually, we migrate to our living room, where they are inspired to help pick up the clutter in order to make room to create an obstacle course that involves intentional obstacles vs the the ones created in trying to avoid stepping on toys, dirty socks, and abandoned art projects. (It's too cold and windy outside for an outdoor course to be appealing to any of us right now.) They practice their jumping and somersaults while I sit and watch, and rest.

A playful story is so much more fun than screaming, and diffused the situation in a way yelling, ordering, punishing and bribery never would have. I'm not going to lie and say the rest of the day was amazing because of story telling or playful parenting genius. I will say that I think choosing to engage in a playful activity with my children rather than vent my exhaustion and frustration through yelling and punishing them for being kids took the evening in a better, healthier direction. And at least the living room was clean for a few minutes; long enough to set up an obstacle course.


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