Thursday, 28 July 2011

Kids Are too Damned Nice These Days

Used to be that a mom could count on certain things.  A mom could count on a dose of antihistamines to ensure a peaceful drive to the cottage.  A mom could count on a fear of trolls to get her kids to eat their vegetables.  And a mom could count on peer pressure to get her kids to shed certain socially unacceptable behaviours.

Like most children, Frick developed the nasty habit of picking his nose.  I didn't stress about it at the time.  I was confident that once in school some observant little shit would notice Frick's nose-plundering, tease him mercilessly about it, thereby providing him with the necessary incentive to stop.  Worked like a charm when I was a kid.
I was realistic.  I knew that statistically this was unlikely to happen in kindergarten because I have yet to meet a five year old that does not struggle with booger-addiction.  But when Frick reached third grade and still had not kicked it I knew something was going wrong.  One day when I yet again caught him snacking on a fresh nose-truffle I asked him if anyone ever teased him about it and he seemed mildly surprised as he answered in the negative.  Not one of his peers had tried to pressure him or make fun of him in any way whatsoever.  I had half a mind to call up their parents and ask them what the hell was wrong with them?  How fucking irresponsible is it to raise your kids to be so nice that they won't ridicule each other into conformity?

(Sigh).  It looked like it was going to be up to me to help him.  And I love my kids too much to deprive them of what they really need, so I got to work.  I had to spy on Frick around the house, watching and waiting until he thought he was alone so he could pick his nose in relative peace.  The moment he was about to stick that booger into his mouth I would leap out from my hiding place pointing my finger at him and shouting:

"Ew!!!  You're eating boogers!!!  Frick is a nose-picker!  He likes to eat his boogers!  Hey everyone, look at Frick!"

This went on for weeks. Apparently boogers are like kiddie-crack.  Also, ambushing your kid is exhausting.  You have to get really creative after a while because they are very smart and they catch on to your regular hiding places.  And you can't let them get away with a single nugget.  It's important to be consistent with your kids, y'know?  By the time Frick finally broke this nasty habit I was a qualified ninja and he little jumpy.  I'm sure he'll be alright.  Eventually.

So, thanks a lot nice parents.  There's a reason nature intended this job for kids.  I've got one more kid to get through and I am way too old for this shit.  Do you have any idea how undignified this is for a grownup?


Friday, 22 July 2011

Going Off the Deep End

It's a hot week for blogposts!  And since yesterday was the hottest day of the summer (I hope) I decided to take the kids down to the local pool which is conveniently located at the end of our street.

Frick was excited but getting Frack to go to the pool was no easy task.  First, we had to walk past a playground and that was way more attractive to him than any swimming pool.  He screamed for the slide and the swings and I ended up having to carry him kicking and crying the rest of the way to the pool.  The swimming pool itself is outdoors so when we approached and Frack could see it, he was even more determined to resist.  Getting him in there was going to take awhile.  Frick wanted to enjoy the independence of going into the men's change room alone so I told him to meet us out in the water as I led Frack to the family change room.

Inside, Frack all of a sudden decided he needed to poo.  Great.  I spent the next twenty minutes being held prisoner in a locked bathroom by a toddler who insisted he had more poo on the way when he didn't.  About five minutes after he seemed to be finished I began to suspect that this was a delay tactic.  Another five minutes after that I started begging him to let me wipe. I was beginning to get a little worried about Frick waiting for us.   People were starting to pound on the door.  I could hear small children complaining that they needed to pee right now!  It was hot and stuffy in there and no one would dream of putting a window in a bathroom at a public pool, what with all the perverts lurking around.  I think it was when I sank to the floor and began to weep that Frack felt I had had enough and allowed me to clean him up.

Finally we make our way out to the pool where I found a perfectly happy Frick already frolicking in the water without even noticing how long we were gone.  When Frack sees that it is my intention to take him into that pool he clings to my leg for dear life.  The pool is a very large one designed like a beach so you can kind of just wade in where it is very shallow.  The deep end itself is only about five feet and there are signs everywhere warning people not to dive.  I pick up Frack and hold him in my arms as we gradually get into the water.  Frick found a water toy for his brother to play with and eventually Frack warmed up and began loving the water.

Frick spent most of his time playing in the "deep" end while Frack and I splashed around in the shallow areas.  Eventually Frack wanted to go over to where his big brother was having so much fun.  Now, I grew up around swimming pools.  Mummy Dearest is an avid swimmer and took us as kids into every imaginable body of water regardless of our ages or swimming abilities.  I have taken my own kids into pools much deeper than this one and every summer of their lives they go swimming in a seemingly bottomless glacier lake.  So I was taken quite by surprise when I was kicked out of waters only four feet deep while holding my three year old in my arms!

"Miss.  Miss!"

Miss?  Look kid, flattering as that is I am old enough to be your teenage mother so if I do not immediately respond to word "Miss" you can wipe that look of annoyance off your face.  Once, when I was nineteen someone called me "Ma'am" for the first time in my life.  This here felt even weirder than that.  I guess "Miss" is for naughty little rule-breakers like me.  We reserve the more dignified "Ma'am" for the responsible adults who know how to follow the rules.

"Miss, you can't have him here in the deep end.  Get back into the shallow end where it's safer."

I have to admit I was pretty embarrassed.  I cringed as I brought Frack back to the shallow end, the man-boy lifeguard shaking his head in weary disapproval.  But later on I started looking around.  There were signs everywhere: no diving, no running, no food or drinks, no photography (this place sounds like a hell of a lot of fun, right?) but nowhere amongst all these signs and rules did it say a parent couldn't hold their child in water of a certain depth.  Maybe there are rules written down somewhere in a handbook or something.  There certainly were rules about children under 10 not going in the deep end alone (not on signs, in a book) but doesn't the presence of the parent count for anything?  Should I be rethinking all my previous decisions on water safety?

Back in the "safer" shallow end, Frack was able to walk around in the water on his own and as a result he fell down and got a choking snout full of water several times.  Other than that, and despite the best efforts of the pool staff, we were able to have a good time.

When it was time to go Frack and I were somehow ready to leave before Frick.  We waited a good five minutes longer for him when I guessed he most likely got distracted by some other kid and was horsing around.  The change rooms have a sort of vestibule that allows more privacy for the nekkid manbits walking around in there, so I felt no compunction about shouting Frick's name into that vestibule and would he hurry it up, please?

Before I even turn around I can hear the hysterical shouting, "Miss!  You can't go in there!"

Now, I know she's talking to me.  That's right lady, I am totally trying to peek at the boys in there.  Shouting my son's name in there as I stand next to this toddler was only a clever disguise, but you saw right through it!  By now I was tired.  Tired physically from the sun and the heat and the swimming and tired of being made to feel like some kind of criminal by these pool people.  All I had left in me was to give her a glare that said "Hey, that's my kid in there and if I want to shout at him through a door then by God, I was going to do that and I'd just love to see you try and stop me."  Yeah, my face is that eloquent.  Ask my husband.

It seems to me that she might have offered me a little help instead of jumping to pervy conclusions, non?  I guess the public pool is a very dangerous place with people like me on the loose!  Perhaps next time we will beat the heat in the safety of our bathtub.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Getting Jacked

Before I had kids I had no idea what it meant to get jacked.  Not that it never happened to me, I'm sure it did, but I am at a loss as to think of a specific example because none stand out.  Now that I'm a mom, oh boy, do I know jack.  In case you are lucky enough to wonder what the hell it is I am talking about let me explain:  getting jacked is that conversational experience where you are trying to connect with another human being about the events in your life and that human being finds a way of making it all about them or, as is the case with MommyJacking, their kid.

Fortunately, I can say that the vast majority of parents I have spoken to do not engage in this behaviour.  Like most people they have enough self-control to work that shit into the conversation in a more considerate and organic way.  The bad news is that my good friend Myrna does this in every conversation I have with her.  It is literally impossible to say anything significant about my life, labouring under the delusion that she might actually be interested, without hearing some fascinating new tidbit (relevant or not) about her little darling, Java (yes, I named her Java because I'm drinking coffee right now.  Shut up.)

Myrna never goes on the internet and doesn't listen long enough to know I have a blog so I feel like I can vent about this here.  She is close enough to me that there is very little chance of being able to boot her out of my life altogether.  To highlight just how bad and out of place her behaviour is you will also need to know that Java isn't actually her daughter, just her relative's daughter that she looks after and is completely obsessed with.  To make matters even more annoying Java is close in age to Frack providing ample opportunities for baby-comparisons.  Example:

"It's great to see you Mommy, we haven't had a visit in a while.  What's new with you?"

"Well, we're excited because Frack took his first steps today, which we think is pretty early but-"

"Speaking of walking, just the other day Java was twirling pirouettes on a tightrope in the backyard.  She is so graceful!  Also she was wearing this adorbale little etc. etc. etc." (This can go on for a while.)

"So uh, Frack started calling me 'ma ma' the other day and-"

"Oh that reminds me, did I tell you that Java gives regular lectures at the community college about pacifier dependence?  It's so cute the way she says 'oral fixation'.  Everybody said so.  Wow, she is so special!"

"Umm, yeah.  She's pretty smart alright.  Is it a good college?  I was thinking about going back to-"

"Funny you should mention school.  Java's still only a baby but her parents think she's ready for school already.  She's really quite amazing you know.  Right from the minute she was born anyone could see that."

At first I thought there was something wrong with me.  Is it possible that I am jealous of a baby?  I examined my innermost emotions and couldn't find any actual jealousy there.  My feelings toward Java are that she is a sweet and engaging little girl.  So what was wrong with me?

Then one day the internet taught me that I was only responding in a normal way to insensitive and rude behaviour.  Under normal circumstances anyone would find this merely obnoxious.  Complicating matters is the fact that Frack is speech delayed.  This fact is something that exists in my life as a constant undertone of worry.  It is much harder for me when I compare him to his peers because it breaks my heart, but when I'm not doing that I take pride in his accomplishments and he is getting better all the time.  So I'm feeling a little defensive about him and I admit I'm not appreciating being held prisoner by a conversation whose dominating topic is how remarkably precocious Java's speech is, she must certainly be some kind of genius, everyone says so.

How sad it is that now I am avoiding Myrna to protect myself and my kids.  They are in the room during these conversations and Frack has ears that understand more than we can know right now.  I feel like a jerk because I should be able to rise above this and just put up with it.  Myrna is not the type you can talk to about this and I doubt she is capable of being objective and rational with anything Java related.

The good news is that I think I'm much more careful not to accidentally MommyJack any of my friends. After all, my kids are absolutely the best.  They are good looking and smart and athletic and creative and....

Monday, 18 July 2011

Mommy Rotten's Prenatal Advice You Can Really Use

Earlier, I wrote a post about how prenatal classes are bullshit.  That got me to thinking about all the stuff I wish I had known about childbirth.  I just wish some woman had taken me aside and whispered these truths to me much in the same manner that Mummy Dearest warned that I would probably shit on the delivery table.  I have done this for some personal friends and I like to think that the information was so useful that I ought to share with my readers as well.  Because it makes perfect sense that most women reading a frustrated mommy blog have not yet had their babies.

1)  Welcome to Mommy Rotten's Prenatal Class.  It is totally bullshit.  I wasn't kidding when I said there really isn't a hell of a lot you can do to "plan" for your birthing experience.  Even trying is an act of hubris and we all know what the universe just loves to do with hubris, right?  I have come to the conclusion that modern prenatal classes serve to both inform expectant mothers of what to expect in the hospital and to give them a false sense of security in a situation over which they have little actual control.

Frick's labour was so long and boring we had failed to prepare ourselves with changes of clothing and games to keep us occupied.  We got all of this together for Frack's birth which happened too fast for them to set up the nitrous.  I have known friends who spent months learning complicated breathing techniques only to end up having an emergency c-section and others who didn't have time to prepare anything at all because the baby was born premature.  I felt like I got very little true information about the hospital experience and I don't appreciate being lied to and coddled.  In Mommy's class you will get the truth.

2) The breast is the best because it is free, but freedom has a price.  There is a conspiracy of silence being perpetrated by the breastfeeding community.  You see, breastfeeding is so important to them that they will downplay the negative truths because they are afraid that no one will want to do it if they know.  The majority of women I have talked to who have tried breastfeeding agree that when you start out it hurts.  A whole fucking lot!  It is a toe-curling, agonizing and acute kind of pain and you get to look forward to it every two hours until your nipples have developed callouses hard enough to cut glass.

My baby's soft little gums began to look to me like the mouth of a pirhanna fish, ready to hungrily flay my nipples into cracked, bleeding shreds.  About a week after we came home from the hospital I got to learn about a fun little thing called "mastitis".  I had never even heard that word before until I was alternately sweating feverishly and shivering convulsively on the couch with a serious breast-infection that required antibiotic treatment.  (Thanks for nothing, Joanna.)  I still would have breastfed had I known the truth and I would have felt less like a total failure when it turned out to be really, really hard.

3)  Metamucil is your friend.  In Joanna's class she warned that after delivering a baby, particularly if we were breastfeeding, we might experience some mild constipation.  Right.  Just like during childbirth we might experience some mild discomfort.  In the hospital they give you stool softeners but they don't give you any to take home and they tell you as long as you are sure to drink plenty of water you shouldn't need them anymore.  Lies!  There isn't enough water in the world!

I had never been constipated before (at least I have no memory of it, I'm sure Mummy Dearest would say otherwise) and this must have been the worst kind of constipation known to man.  This, in and of itself, would have been extremely uncomfortable.  Now imagine dealing with this after having squeezed a 7lb 8oz football through your cooch.  I was lucky because I didn't need stitches.  You may not be so lucky.  Believe me you never want to experience this.  My advice is to start taking Metamucil every day for a couple of weeks before your due date and keep taking it until the baby is at least a month old.

(*Please consult a physician before taking Metamucil during pregnancy*)

4)  Don't let your husband watch.   In the moment, when you are in agony and working so hard to bring new life into the world, you are suffering so much that you may be unable to notice the suffering of others.  In my opinion, child birth is a uniquely traumatic event for a man to witness.  I had no idea just how traumatic it had been for Daddy until the recommended 6 to 8 week period of abstinence was up.  I was more than ready to get back in the saddle again but Daddy was hesitant.  He kept saying "You didn't see what I saw."  After Frick was born it took years for him to get back to the same relationship with my lady parts that we had before we had kids.  I felt kind of guilty about it.  After all, I spared myself that horror by refusing to have that mirror in the room that lets you see yourself give birth.

Also, there is this thing about childbirth that I have already mentioned, but that no one wants to talk about, where you have a bowel movement while squeezing out the baby.  I once read a quote from a nurse who said, "I never believe that baby is coming until I smell feces."  I still am not sure what happened in my situation and I do not want to know but I can say that not all women experience that perinatal bowel emptying that supposedly happens naturally.  I think there may be a reason why that nurse said what she did so again I will stress, Metamucil is your friend.

(*You can send me some money now Metamucil, kthx*)

Our second time around I requested that Daddy not look and he readily agreed.  Things went so fast that he was quickly shoved aside by the professionals and couldn't have looked if he wanted to.  In a calmer environment I would recommend keeping the father by your side where he can look at your face instead which, no matter how much your makeup runs or how tired you look, will still be guaranteed to look better than that whole mess down there.  He will thank you for it.

5)  Get a midwife.  If you have no reason to suspect your pregnancy is anything other than a completely normal one then look into getting a midwife.  Here in Canada, midwives are covered under public health care (seriously America, it's totally awesome) and I had heard good things about them.  I wasn't very happy with how my experience had gone the first time with doctor care, so with Frack I found a midwife.

My midwife was terrific.  She was straight up about everything so there were no real surprises or disappointments.  During my labour she rarely left my side and was the calm voice of reason so that Daddy and Mummy Dearest could relax a little and not feel so responsible for me.  She kept me calm and remembered to do things like change my puke bowl frequently so that I wouldn't have to smell it while I was breathing heavily (I puked every 10-15 minutes through the entire labour).  She secured us the "good" delivery room which she said was very difficult.  "I practically had to urinate on the door," she had said, "but it was worth it."  A mere three hours after Frack was born I was sitting on my living room couch waiting for Frick to come home from school to meet his new brother.  I cannot recommend midwifery highly enough.

(*Apparently I can't ask the midwives for money because they work for the government.  Damn public healthcare.*)

6)  Epidurals are not all they are cracked up to be.   We are told that epidurals are a safe form of pain management during labour.  What they don't tell you is that if you are committed to breastfeeding you could be making things even more difficult than they already are.  Having an epidural was probably very necessary for my first birth experience.  I was in labour for 36 hours and that is a lot to have to take.  But when Frick was born he was sleepy at the breast and failed to latch on properly.  This contributed significantly to the misery that was my life for 6 weeks.  Those 6 weeks of trying to get the breastfeeding going were, in my opinion, far worse than the worst of my labour pains.  I would have traded pain relief during labour for an easier breastfeeding experience in a heartbeat.

So when it came to delivering Frack I really wanted to avoid that epidural.  And because I had a very quick 5-6 hour labour I was able to do it.  Natural childbirth was not as bad as I thought it was going to be and I felt this awesome rush of exhiliration right after like I could just pick up my new baby and run away from a large predator.  Of course I know that very few people have a labour that short.  If my labour had been even 15 minutes longer I was going to take that nitrous gas, and in a couple more hours I would have probably been willing to huff glue if it were offered to me.  It may all depend on the luck of the draw but having given birth both with and without the epidural I would choose without over and over again. 

7)  Take care of yourself and enjoy your baby.  It seems so obvious but I didn't realize I could do this until someone else pointed it out to me.  When on the verge of hysteria over my worries, my failures at breastfeeding and lack of sleep it was this advice that gave me the strength to keep trying.  Yes, I have a new baby and yes, it is a huge responsibility but part of being a good mother to a newborn is enjoying it.  When you are suffering through self-flagellation over a form of nutrition that will only be administered for about a year, when you are crazy from lack of sleep, when you are crying uncontrollably you are not in a good place to love your baby.  Doing the right thing for your baby does not mean showing them how batshit crazy you are making yourself.

Love your baby enough to love yourself and preserve your sanity.  Why waste losing it over what kind of diapers to use or how to feed them when they are going to drive you nuts with their assholery in just a few short years?  They are babies for such a short period of time.  Enjoy it.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

No More Teacher's Dirty Looks

Having an ADHD child in school is a special kind of hell.  I was keenly aware that the teacher's day was extra stressful as a direct result of having my son in their class.  A classroom is a place for quiet learning, where students sit at their desks and work diligently at their lessons.  Frick is unable to sit still, shut up or focus on anything he finds boring.  And sometimes even the interesting stuff is difficult.  But overall I got a sense that the teacher genuinely liked him and was invested in his success.  Until fourth grade.

Man, they do not fuck around in the fourth grade.  These are the junior years; the years in which the students must be prepared for the rigors of middle school.  I must have missed the orientation speech, but I think it went something like this:

"Alright kids, now you listen up and listen good!  Up until now you all have gotten a free ride. Yeah, that's right.  You have been spoiled, molly-coddled, indulged, doted on and babied, your little hands have been held and your little snotty noses have been wiped but no more!  This is FOURTH GRADE people and it is time to grow up!  This shit is about to get serious.  You are headed for middle school.  MIDDLE SCHOOL!  And if you don't buckle down , and I mean RIGHT NOW, you are going to get eaten alive, do you hear me?"

Having missed that speech, the first time I met with Mme Pouffiasse scared the hell outta me.  She went through a laundry list of Frick's disruptive behaviours and how they prevented her from teaching the entire class.  She had many dark forebodings about the consequences of his inability to put even a sentence onto a page over the course of an hour and cited his standardized test results over and over again as proof of his future doom.  I'll tell you, "literacy is early grade 2 level" sounds a lot worse at the beginning of grade 4 than it did at the end of grade 3!  By the end of our meeting I was convinced that Frick was going to grow up to live in a cardboard box and become a rising star in an underground Bumfight Club. 

Now, I didn't have a sweet clue how I was going to control Frick's behaviour remotely from my living room when his teacher was unable to do so standing right next to him, but I was sure as hell going to try.  In return Mme. Pouffiasse offered to find Frick remedial help with his reading.  I was to expect to hear from the resource teachers soon.  And so, when I got the expected letter for an appointment to meet with the two resource teachers, I had no reason to suspect anything was up.  As a result, when I walked into the resource room I was floored.

In the room, looking stern and imposing, sat a panel of four educators: the two resource teachers, the vice principal and of course,  Mme Pouffiasse.  I had been ambushed.  They invited me to take a seat in an incredibly tiny chair and then went to work grilling me with a series of rapid-fire questions:

"Frick recently got a zero on his science test.  The students received a mark for putting their name on the page.  Why did this happen Mrs. Rotten?  Why is he late almost every day, Mrs. Rotten?  Where is his homework and agenda Mrs. Rotten?  Don't you check his backpack every day, Mrs. Rotten?  Why does he wander all over the classroom, Mrs. Rotten?  Where were you the night of April 3, 1998, Mrs. Rotten?  If a car is traveling westbound at 80 kph and another car was traveling eastbound at 100 kph then who wrote the book of love, Mrs. Rotten?  Who, dammit, who?!?"

For the next forty minutes I was shown a telephone book-sized file of barely started work assignments, several bar graphs and pie charts showing where Frick scored in province-wide literacy, the progress chart that showed how Frick's classmates outpaced him in terms of good behaviour and a tearful and borderline hysterical testimony from Mme P of all the trials and tribulations she suffered since having Frick in her class.   Any and all suggestions I made that touched on revising her teaching techniques were shot right down.  They all stonily insisted that they were well-trained educators, experienced with ADHD and that this was a case where all the blame could be laid on Frick personally and, therefore, me.

I cringed in my chair feeling like I was 6 years old.  I knew that we couldn't fix all of Frick's problems at once so I emphasized that we would have to start with the most distressing behaviour first, which was talking to his friends during class.  I came up with an incentive program and I was very specific about how it would best work (you have to handle these things just right or they are doomed to fail) and explained why and they all agreed it was a good idea and the meeting was adjourned.

That was when everything went to hell.  The very next day it became clear that Mme Pouffiasse had no interest in following my suggestions and preferred instead to view them as an invitation to tattle on Frick for every little thing he did to annoy her.

"Frick fiddled with items in his desk during presentations.  Also,  during independent study he got up from his desk repeatedly to sharpen his pencil.  Could you supply him with a pencil sharpener so that he will have no more excuses to ever leave his desk?  I would like to add that when the students are instructed to work on their speeches Frick is not to just doodle on the paper.  Other than that he was quiet all day and didn't speak to his neighbours."

Bitch.  And after the way I had been suckered into that interrogation session I had no faith at all that my requests to go back to the original plan would be heard.  I didn't trust her, and because the vice principal had been involved in that fiasco, I no longer trusted the school.

Then he got assigned this huge geology project that made it very clear that she was lying when she shot down my suggestions about her teaching methods.  Even I found the project overwhelming (not to mention mind-numbingly boring).  As we toiled on that project over the next eight weeks, we had yet to hear anything about Frick getting remedial help with his literacy.  Out of sheer frustration I threw an epic temper tantrum.  How could a child having this much trouble have been coming home with glowing report cards for his entire scholastic career?  How does this child score C grades in literacy on all of his report cards when he cannot spell, conjugate verbs or read even close to grade level?  When is he going to get help?  It would just be easier to teach him myself!

Now there was an idea.  I was available to teach Frick at home if I wanted to and, after a little research, I found out that it was as easy as writing a letter to the school board.  I could have fought Mme Pouffiasse and the school and I would have been well within my rights but as I had a more peaceful solution, one that would not end with me punching that old cow in the face, I felt that I owed it to Frick not to go to jail for aggravated assault.  And I can tell you that firing her ass was almost as satisfying.  A very close second.

I also feel it is worth mentioning that Frick never did get any real help with his reading.  If he had, they might have noticed that he has many symptoms of dyslexia which is common for kids with ADHD.  Fail.

And so we have been home schooling since March.  It is a lot of work, the house is falling apart from neglect and I often have to fight with Frick to get him to learn but it is still way less stressful than having to deal with even the best of Frick's teachers.  In the meantime we are giving him the support and coping techniques he is going to need for middle school and doing a damn sight better job of preparing him than Mme Pouffiasse could ever hope to do.

Monday, 4 July 2011

This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

As I sit here typing I am surrounded by chaos, trying to find the elusive "inner peace" that Kung Fu Panda was talking about.  The sunlight is streaming in through my filthy windows, reflecting the colours of the crayon scribbles Frack left there.  And on the windowsill.  The bookcase beside the windowsill.  The walls.  The doorframe.  The door.  The hallway.  The painting hanging in the hallway.  The small folding table that now serves as our coffee table because our coffee table disintegrated last week after the boys had used it as a trampoline.  The couch.  The television set.  Several toys.  A couple of my books.  A dinner plate.  My shoe.  Just a colourful trail of happy little accidents.

My living room set stinks.  When I say it stinks I mean that quite literally.  Every time Frack jumps on it gentle but nauseating bouquets are released; a combination of stale cheerios, old dairy and feet.  I promise myself that this is the summer I will rent one of those shampooer thingies from the grocery store and clean it.  And every time I have that thought Frack promptly dumps yogurt on it.  Or kool aid.  Also ketchup, mustard, pudding, soup, chocolate milk, spaghetti sauce, jello, and ice cream.  He is truly a budding Jackson Pollock and it would be wrong of me to stifle his creativity just because I don't want to get up from my couch with a sticky ass.  Besides, I have enough on my plate just trying to get him to kick his chronic habit of using the couch as his dinner napkin.

It's Daddy I really feel sorry for.  His wallet has taken a serious beating from these kids.  Even worse they got at his electronics.  As a baby, Frick systematically destroyed all CDs.  He decimated entire music collections in the matter of minutes.  Over the years he has lost, eaten, coloured on, urinated on, warped, smashed, scratched, melted, thrown away, thrown as ninja stars, buried and baked (yes, baked) any number of music CDs, DVDs, and some very expensive computer programs.  There was the battery recharger he melted by putting regular disposable batteries in it.  The rechargeable batteries he flushed down the toilet.  The USB keys he flushed down the toilet.  The portable phone he flushed down the toilet.  The portable phone he left out in the rain.  The portable phone he lost down our air ducts.  The portable phone he left in the long grass which subsequently got mowed by the lawnmower.  The lawnmower.

Which brings me to the larger appliances.  At this moment in time I am unable to do laundry because my brand new washing machine is in pieces in the basement.  Daddy is going through the difficult task of removing all the Lego pieces, Bakugan (I'm not even really sure what that is but the kids are nuts for it), and granola bar wrappers that have jammed up the works.  Yes, I still have not learned the trick of going through all the pockets like TV moms do.  Well guess what?  TV moms don't have kids whose dirty laundry requires a full Hazmat suit just to cram into the machine, so get off my back.  And then there was the time Frick blew up our brand new, state of the art, very large screened TV that we got as a housewarming gift from my family.  This act might have been unforgivable had he not almost killed himself in the process.  We felt the PTSD he suffered was punishment enough.

I could go on.  I could talk about our scratched and dented hardwood floors that we restored ourselves, or the broken toilet.  I could tell you of the neighbour's fence that now just leans against a wall because of the kids climbing all over it.   The holes and stab wounds in the bedroom walls.  The gaping, basketball sized hole in the screen door.  Missing doorknobs and broken drawers.  My sanity.  The handmade, pottery serving dish I got from my brother in-law, or the set of bowls I got from my dead great-grandmother.  Antique Christmas decorations.  Family heirlooms.  The ceiling fan.  The mailbox.  The lamp post in the front yard....