A conversation, a reading assignment, a writing exercise, and a re-run #7

A conversation:

Cinder: Dad will come to the phone in a minute, Mom. He’s just washing his hands–he was cleaning up the blood in the bathroom.

September 16, 2011

A reading assignment that will change your life:

Lawrence Block’s The Liar’s Bible. It’s a collection of columns on writing fiction Block wrote for Writer’s Digest in the 1980s. And it’s down-to-earth brilliant. READ IT.

 

A writing exercise to do just before making supper:

A garlic and tomato are having a fight. And go.

(No, seriously. Go. It can’t possibly be a good piece. It’s just play. It’s just fun. PLAY, dammit.)

 

An explanation:

This is the seventh week of my 12-week unplugged AWOL (don’t tell my clients… um or too many of my friends 😉 ). No phones, no wifi… also, no winter! I’m going to be documenting things old school via journals and postcards (if you want a postcard from… well, that place where I’m hiding… email your snail mail address to nothingbythebook@gmail.com).

The blog’s on auto-pilot with a conversation from the archives, a reading recommendation, a writing assignment (cause I can’t nag any of you in person), and unsolicited advice… er, that is, a re-run post of the kind I don’t write very often anymore.

Enjoy.

 

A re-run:

When Toddlers Attack / That Hitting Thing

Toddlers hit. Not all toddlers. But a lot of toddlers. Like, almost all toddlers, at least some of the time. And some of them—not a few, either, a lot—go through phases when they hit all the time. Attachment parented toddlers hit. Breastfed toddlers hit. Bottle-fed toddlers hit. Babyworn toddlers hit. Toddlers of parents who never raise their voices hit. Really. It’s not just your little guy.

When my first little guy when through this hitting phase, I felt incredibly isolated. Alone. And judged up the wazoo. Here’s our story.

From Life’s Archives. “That Hitting Thing,” March 8, 2006. Cinder’s not quite four; Flora’s one and change.

2006. It happened today, in the playroom, and my head is still whirring. “Flora!” Cinder yells. “You wrecked my tower. That bothers me! Bothers me! I am so angry I want to hit you! But I don’t want to hit you! Grrr!” I poke my head in from the hallway. Cinder is standing closing and opening his fists and breathing. He sees me looking, looks at me. “I didn’t hit Flora,” he announces. “But I’m not proud of you!” he yells at her. She gurgles and hands him a Lego block. They start building the tower together.

I’ve been waiting for this day for… what, two years? Two years to the day, I think. And I know today isn’t the cure. It’s not the turn around, the end. He will hit his little sister again, probably later today. He will push her, pinch her. But he’s working through it—we’re muddling through it, he’s “getting” it. And the fact that this huge emotional break through—this discovery by himself that just because he wants to hit he doesn’t have to hit—has come on the heels of eight nights of peeing the bed puts all sorts of things into perspective for me. Makes me feel not quite so resentful as I wash the sheets and covers for the ninth day in a row…

I’ve been delaying posting this “hitting thing” exposition until I felt I could clearly articulate where we were, why, and how we got there. I don’t think that’s going to happen in the next few weeks or even months. But based on some conversations I’ve had with other mothers of closely spaced siblings—particularly when the older is a boy!—I think this is a story that must be told, in all of its messiness.

Continue reading

A conversation, a reading assignment, a writing exercise, and a re-run #4

A conversation:

3:30 a.m.

“Mama, wake up, I have a booger!”

“Hmm?”

“Should I eat it?”

“No… ah… here, give it to me, I’ll put it on the wall…”

3:56 a.m.

“Mama, I have another booger. Should I put it on the wall?”

“Yes.”

(From Life’s Archives, July 9, 2005)

 

A reading assignment that will change your life:

Anything by Rumi. I recommend Coleman Barks’ The Essential Rumi, but you really can’t go wrong. Sample at The Poetry Chaikhana.

 

A writing exercise to do instead of asking “when do you find the time to write”:

Go to your bookshelf. Find a book you will never read again. Fill the front and end pages with first paragraphs of books you’d like to read, but nobody has written yet.

 

An explanation:

This is the fourth week of my 12-week unplugged AWOL (don’t tell my clients… um or too many of my friends 😉 ). No phones, no wifi… also, no winter! I’m going to be documenting things old school via journals and postcards (if you want a postcard from… well, that place where I’m hiding… email your snail mail address to nothingbythebook@gmail.com).

The blog’s on auto-pilot with a conversation from the archives, a reading recommendation, a writing assignment (cause I can’t nag any of you in person), and unsolicited advice… er, that is, a re-run post of the kind I don’t write very often anymore.

Enjoy.

 

A re-run:

How I got deprogrammed and learned to love video games

(first published on May 19, 2012)

Cinder’s just shy of 10, and the big passion of his life is Minecraft. Or Terraria. Or both, but usually just one or the other. He loves them so much, he’s convinced his Mac-using parents to get him a PC laptop so he can play them more effectively. He loves them so much that his show of choice is watching Minecraft or Terraria videos on Youtube. (A digression for a Cinder recommendation: for Terraria, nothing beats Total Biscuit and Jesse Cox; for Minecraft, Antvenom is King, and Cavemanfilms is pretty good too. Now you know where to go.)

My boy loves video games. And this is a wonderful thing.

I never thought I’d find myself saying this. Video games were never a part of my childhood, and my experience of them as an on-looker—sister, girlfriend, wife—was, well, blah. Wasn’t interested. Didn’t understand the appeal. Could tell you one thing for sure: no kid of mine was going to waste his childhood playing video games. Could rattle of spades of research about how detrimental to the proper development of a child excessive (any) video game playing could be.

Well. What changed?

Simply this: My boy loves video games, and I love my boy. He started getting drawn to them about age eight, I suppose, meeting them at this friend’s house or that, telling us about them with excitement, in vivid detail. His game-playing father entered into his interest; his game-ignorant mother started to agonize. What to do? For what reason? With what consequences?

I spare you my internal angst, as first one online game and then another (“It’s educational, Mom!” Supported by Dad’s: “Really, Jane, it’s educational.”) got introduced. Then the X-box (“It’s Kinect, Jane—they’ll be exercising and moving while they play—isn’t that good?”). Then an iPad and all the apps and games that enabled. Here’s what steered me through it, though: I love my boy. He loves these things; he’s drawn to them. What’s he getting out of it? Why? How?

I love my boy, and if I love my boy, I can’t be dismissive and contemptuous of something he loves.

So, I’d sit beside him and watch him play. Listen to him talk about the games afterwards. In-between. Eavesdrop while he talked about with his friends. Watch while they acted out game scenes on the trampoline or on the Common.

I might tell you about all the things I’ve seen him learn from gaming another time (for one example, check out this salon.com piece about Minecraft ). Rattle of spades of research about how playing video games actually makes kids smarter (Here’s Gabe Zichermann talking about this on Ted Talks). But it really comes down to this:

I love my boy. My boy loves video games. His reasons for loving them are complex—but no less valid than my love for Jane Austen novels, or John Fluevog shoes. I do not have to love them just because he loves them—I do not have to make myself play them or enjoy them as he does, just because I love him. But because I love him, I can’t say—or think and believe—that what he loves and enjoys is a waste of time. Of no value. Stupid.

Flip it. Think of something you love. Knitting? Film noir? Shiny cars? Collecting porcelain miniatures? Whatever. Doesn’t matter what. I’m thinking of my Jane Austen novels, which I reread probably half-a-dozen times a year. Now think of how you feel when someone who’s supposed to love you and care about you—your partner, your best friend, your mother—thinks that hobby or activity is of no value. And takes every opportunity to tell you so. Do those interactions build your relationship? Inspire you with love and trust for the person showing such open contempt for something that brings you joy?

I love my boy. My boy loves video games. And I love that he loves them. I love that they bring him joy.

As I finish writing this up, Ender’s having the tail-end of his nap in my arms, and Flora’s listening to The Titan’s Curse. Cinder grabs his lap top, and sits down beside me on the couch. He pulls up an Antvenom video on Youtube. “I need to get this mod,” he says. “Cool one?” I ask. “Too cool,” he says. I watch him watching for a while.

I love my boy.

“Love you, Mom,” he says. “What do you want to do when my video’s over?”

Minecraft Castle

Minecraft Castle (Photo credit: Mike_Cooke)

The obvious correlation between crying over spilt coffee and potty training

Sean: Ender! Why did you spill Mama’s coffee?

Ender: I not spill coffee. I pour coffee out.

Sean: The question stands: Why? Why? Why?

Ender: I have to pee.

Sean: Of course. Let’s go.

Ender: No. I pee in coffee cup. That’s why I pour coffee out.

it's potty time!

Sob.

First published October 26, 2012 on Nothing By The Book. This happened more than a year ago. And is the Ender potty-trained yet?

Sob.

Sob.

Sob.

Waaaaaaaah!

“Jane”

P.S. I’m back from the land of the sun and the mouse. Mired in critical deadlines. So you’ll only see me around if the work isn’t going well. In which case, you need to look at me very sternly–in my IRL eye or my cyber-eye–and say, “Get back to work, Jane!” My clients thank you in advance.

P.P.S. Cloudy With a Chance of Wine, that’s the coffee cup you’re getting if you ever have the guts to visit my house. Ha!

How you know he’s his mother’s son…

I.

Sean: Ugh, it’s time for this test tube full of Scope to go.

Jane: No! Not in the sink over the dishes! It’s got urine in it!

Sean: You let Cinder keep a test tube full of urine next to our wine glasses? For how long?

Jane: It’s not full of urine, it only has a little bit of urine in it–it’s mostly mouthwash. And isn’t the point here that I stopped you from pouring it over our dishes, which if you had done, would have had you rushing out to buy new dishes before our next meal?

Sean: You are so my son’s mother.

Yup. To that end, I offer more proof:

II.

Sean: Is this test tube in the sink the urine test tube?

Cinder: I don’t know. There are lot of test tubes in the house. Odds are good someone peed in one of them at some time.

Sean: Someone?

Cinder: Well, ,when I say someone, I mean me. But if it makes you feel better, I don’t remember peeing in any test tubes recently.

Ender: I do!

Sean: I want my own sterilized kitchen. And none of you can ever come in.

Well. This is why I didn’t tell him about The Floor Peas.

Line art representation of a Test tube

First published October 8, 2012, Nothing By The Book

“Jane, why the re-run?”

“A) Funny as all hell, no? B) I’m travelling. Guess where? Guess where? Clues: critical items in the suitcase were good walking shoes, painkillers, and a hot pink bikini. PS Dear clients, also a laptop. Always, the laptop.”

The love is unconditional. The patience… not so much

Brothers with Snakes

Cinder: Hey, Mom, when I get facial hair, can I grow a little mustache like this? You know, like that evil Nazi Hitler guy had? It would be totally ironic…

Jane: Your face, your facial hair. Do as you will. I just won’t be able to go anywhere in public with you.

Cinder: What? I thought your love for me was… what? Unconditional?

Jane: It absolutely is. But just because I love you fully, totally and unconditionally does not mean I have to put up with, support or encourage your crazy.

He gets not what I say at all, but that’s ok—he’s not really planning to grow a Hitler mustache. I’m pretty sure he’s not. Anyway, point does not arise: no facial hair yet. Just another attempt to get a rise out of Mom.

We’re talking about unconditional love in the context of one of history’s most terrifying monsters because, earlier that day:

Ender: Oh, Mama, I love you so much when you do sweet things for me.

Jane: Oh, Ender, I love doing sweet things for you.

Ender: But sometimes, you don’t. You won’t do sweet things for me, or you do mean things to me.

Jane: Like what?

Ender: Like not letting me bother the girls. And when you don’t do sweet things for me, then I hate you.

Words. Isn’t it crazy how words from our little ones hurt? Even when we know that they don’t actually understand what they’re saying in quite the way we hear what they’re saying.

Words.

Jane: Well you know what, Ender? I love you when you do sweet things for me. And I love you when you do mean things to me. And I even love you when you say you hate me. I love you always, always, always.

Ender: Why?

Jane: Cause that’s what moms do. That’s unconditional love. No strings. No ifs. Just—always.

The not-yet-four-year-old does not get it. At all. But at this moment, Cinder walks by and…

Cinder: I find it really hard to love Ender when he kicks me in the balls.

Ender: I’m gonna kick you in the balls really hard for that!

Cinder: Mooooom! I seriously have to love Ender when he does that?

Jane: Yes. Yes, you must.

And the noise and the chaos moves away from me as the beast chases the beast-taunter. It’s hard to parse if the screaming is joy or anger, love or hate. It’s just… life, right?

And is there a lesson in all of it?

I think so. Because later that day, Cinder talks to me about unconditional love. Um, in the context of growing a Hitler mustache, but… that’s not the important bit. And yes, my love. It’s there, it’s always, always, fully unconditional.

But unconditional love does not equal… what? Perfection. Perfect patience. Perfect parenting. The perfect response to every situation.

It doesn’t even equal unconditional understanding or unconditional support.

Sometimes, I can’t understand. Sometimes, I won’t support…

But. I always, always love.

And isn’t it something how when they know it’s unconditional, they like to test it all the more?

So later that day, all three of them push and prod and poke, and I finally snap. And come up with the best mantra ever:

Jane: My love for you is unconditional. My patience, however, is very much finite. AND. IT. IS. DONE!

Like it? I thought so. Use it. Love–unconditional. Patience–not infinite. It sounds so much better when you yell it at them at the top of your lungs in front of witnesses than some of the alternatives…

You’re welcome.

xoxo

“Jane”

Brothers with Snakes

Photo: Cinder and Ender not kicking each other in the balls, but sitting beautifully and peacefully next to each other. It does happen. And yes, it does usually involve holding a reptile. 

Interweb Pay-It-Forward: Cait Beauchaine (@theHonestMother on Twitter, blog @ The Honest Mommy) shared this awesome website on Twitter last week: Emergency Compliment. You know? For the days when you need someone to say something, anything NICE to you, and instead your toddler screams “I hate you because you’re mean!” at you sixty seven times? Click. It delivers. (The last time I went, it told me “You don’t get drunk, you get super-human.” I’m taking that to heart as I run away from the fam for a night of revelry and dancing tonight.)

##

Sometimes a wrench really is a metaphor. Not for what you’d think, of course…

R&Maggie

R&Maggie

Cinder: Mom? Can I go outside with a wrench? One of those really, really big ones? Or a crowbar?

Good to know: He knows where they are. He could just grab one. He’s asking to be told, ‘No.’

Jane: No.

Cinder: How about if I promise not to wield it as a weapon?

Jane: Um… No.

Cinder: Moooom! I promise, absolutely promise I will not bludgeon the girls with it.

Jane: No.

Cinder: Mooooom….

Jane: If you tell me I never let you do anything, I just might bludgeon you with it.

Cinder: Fine. Will you bake cookies?

Jane: Um… how about we bike over to Safeway and buy a box of Peak Freens?

Cinder: Deal.

What I’ve learned over the last 11 years of listening to Cinder: It’s really, really hard to say, “Mom, I’m feeling really left out of the game Flora and her friends are playing.” Much easier to say/do something that annoys the girls and requires an active Mother-intervention. Like chasing them with a wrench.

Always listen for the subtext. Even when you–like me–are inclined to take what is said as what is meant. Always. Subtext.

xoxo,

“Jane”

From my newsfeed this am: My son wears dresses, get over it, by the brilliant Matt Duron.

From my archives: My sons don’t wear dresses anymore–or should I say right now, but they did; to wit: The return of the Princess dress.

Post of the week from my reader: Act Your Age? on the Tao of Poop. “Playdough has similar soothing properties to a glass of wine or Prozac,” she writes. And then just gets better.

Of cold wars, true love, and castration by crayfish

photo (1)

photo (1)

We’re walking along the beautiful, oak-tree shaded trail that winds along the marina of the little town of Pinawa, on the edges of Whiteshell Provincial Park, the kids running around maniacally, destroying enjoying nature, Sean and I engaged in an intense war. The Ender, racing ahead of us with his siblings, is… I believe the technical term is odiferous. Rancid even. The toilet training regression to end all toilet training regressions is in full-swing on this particular family holiday. There is a disgusting poopy diaper that needs to be changed.

And neither Sean nor I want to do it.

(By the way. I should warn you. This is not a toilet training story at all. It’s actually a Cinder-and-Ender penis story. I know you’ve missed them.)

And we know each other so well we don’t even have the

“It’s your turn.”
“No, it’s your turn.”

exchange. It has—have I mentioned?–been the toilet training regression to end all toilet training regressions, aggravated by the stress of travel and a diet not anally controlled by Mommy, and there is no use counting how many diapers I’ve changed, how many poopy bums he’s washed. We’re done. So done. As far as each of us is concerned, at this moment, the stinky three-year-old can sit in his own stinky shit for the rest of his days.

… all the while, each of us not-so-secretly hopes that the other will be the better, more patient parent and do the right thing, just one more time, just this once…

… as we walk along the trail… with no spare diaper or wipes left (toilet training regression to end ALL toilet training regressions)…

… the child, more odiferous and foul with each step…

… and finally, Flora yells, at the top of her lungs:

“Will somebody please wash Ender’s bum? It’s disgusting!”

… and Ender bursts into tears, and Sean and I look at each other, and he does one of those things that reminds just how much I love him and how right we are for each other and what a kick-ass parenting team we make no matter what other complications occur in our lives:

“If I wash him in the river, will you carry the dirty diaper?”

Oh, yes, beloved. Oh, yes.

(I know you’ve only read this far waiting for the penis story. Here it comes.)

So there is my beloved, washing our third child’s bohunkus in the once-pristine waters of the Winnipeg River. And Ender is furious and embarrassed and appalled. See, he doesn’t want to be in the toilet training regression any more than we want him there. It’s humiliating to be closer to four than three and be slung over his father’s knee—on a riverbank no less—getting his butt washed with icy cold water.

And my Sean, he is pretty much the world’s best father—I know you think it’s you, your husband? No, sorry. My Sean. Get in line. And so he looks and looks for a distraction and because it’s a river, of course there is one, and so:

“Ender! Look! A crayfish! Look at that crayfish!”

And the embarrassment and crying and humiliation are forgotten, immediately.

“A crayfish! Crayfish! Catch him for me, Daddy, catch him!”

And Sean reaches for the crayfish and skoot, it zooms away, and Ender reaches for the crayfish, and it scoots and snaps its claws at him, and Cinder and Flora come running to see what’s going on, and the bum washing ends in peace and, if not quiet, then certainly laughter, and we walk away from the river bank—me, carrying the dirty diaper—happy, laughing.

(The penis story’s coming. Be patient. This one requires build up.)

And Flora turns to Cinder and says,

“I can’t believe Daddy washed Ender’s bum on top of a crayfish.”

And Cinder turns to Ender and says,

“You’re so lucky, Ender, that crayfish didn’t nip off your penis. So lucky!”

And as Ender turns around to wallop his elder brother but hard in the testicles and as Cinder sidesteps so the fist goes flying into Flora and as Flora hides behind her Dad, Ender’s fist of fury makes contact with his father’s loins just as his father says,

“Don’t worry. The way your mom will tell the story, Ender will have had an almost-circumcision or an outright castration while I dangled his penis over a crayfish while washing his bu… Ah, fuck, what was that for, Ender?”

Karma, baby. Karma. For mocking the story-telling propensities of the mother of your beautiful children.

But… also, truth. By this time next year, this will be the “Remember how the crayfish tried to nip Ender’s penis while Daddy was washing his bum in Pinawa?” story. And five years from now, maybe it will have been successful. Ten years from now—there might even be a scar.

But for now—today, in this moment—this is the story of how Sean’s the best dad ever.

xoxo

“Jane”

P.S. I only had to carry that dirty diaper for about 500 metres before I found a garbage can. (In future versions of the story—5 K at least, I think.)

P.P.S. The walk took place Monday, August 5, 2013. The story’s been evolving.

P.P.P.S. What do you mean, “evolving”? Baby, I’m a writer. Nothing you read of mine is spontaneous. Never forget that.

Still here? Just for you:

Great reads that popped into my in-box or newsfeeds this week:

If you’re feeling crafty, Rashmie at Mommy Labs has this awesome 30-Days of Leaf Art thing going. Gods alive all know I’ll never even try it… but my Flora’s all stoked.

US radio host Matt Walsh delivers the last word on breastfeeding in public. LOVE it: We must stop these crazed half-naked people from feeding their children in front of other people.

Ginny at Small Things says:  I’m a good mom because I love my kids, but not because I’m getting that much right, and yeah, that’s all there’s to it.

And for the unschoolers in the audience, from my LinkedIn network no less: Tomorrow’s entrepreneurs are playing Minecraft today

“What have I done to deserve such off-spring? What? WHAT??!”

A61

Ender: I! DO! NOT! WANT! YOU! TO! WASH! MY! BUM! I! AM! TOO! BUSY!

Jane: I know. I know. But sitting in your own poop is not just gross, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal for me to just leave you sitting in it. So–off we go.

Ender: I! DO! NOT! WANT…

Jane: I! KNOW! See, and if you tell me when you have to poop before you do it, I won’t have to…

Ender: I! WILL! NEVER! POOP! IN! THE! TOILET! AGAIN! EEEE-VVV-EEEE-RRRR!

Jane: AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGGHGH!

That’s not the punchline. What, are you nuts? That’s just the set up.

Flora: Do you think Ender will get out of this potty regression before Mom goes totally insane?

Cinder: I think it might be too late.

Ha, that’s not the punchline either. Read on:

Jane: I’m right here. RIGHT! HERE! If you’re going to insult me, can you at least wait until I leave the room?

Flora: A, we weren’t insulting you, and b, there’s no point to saying things like that if you don’t hear them, right?

Jane: What have I done to deserve such off-spring? What? WHAT??!

Cinder: Well, I’m not sure, but judging by what’s just happened with Ender, I think you traumatized us during potty-training.

Pretty good, eh? But not the punchline. Not yet. Almost there:

Jane: You little… Never mind. Whatever. I have a poopy bum to wash. And then I have to get back to writing.

Flora: She’s going to blog about this, isn’t she?

Cinder: Yes. And she’s going to make us look like the crazy ones.

Well… tempting. But sometimes, a straight report of exactly how it happened is so much more amusing… and effective.

Good thing we love them, right?

I was keeping a “best posts I didn’t read this week” list for you but… um… it’s Friday and I still haven’t read them. Flood. I’m using that as an excuse for the next six weeks. “Why didn’t you do X?” “Um… flood?” I figure by September, the excuse will get old, but in the meantime… FLOOD!

P.S. Just so you know–we don’t like to be called victims or even survivors. We prefer floodies. And, when we’re all dollied up in designer rubber boots, haz-mat suits and wearing those weird little beanie hats and thick rimmed glasses: floodsters.

Floodsters. It’s a YYC thing.

Have a… dry… weekend.

xoxo

“Jane”

That hitting thing…

Kids Wall 2

Kids Wall 2

Toddlers hit. Not all toddlers. But a lot of toddlers. Like, almost all toddlers, at least some of the time. And some of them—not a few, either, a lot—go through phases when they hit all the time. Attachment parented toddlers hit. Breastfed toddlers hit. Bottle-fed toddlers hit. Babyworn toddlers hit. Toddlers of parents who never raise their voices hit. Really. It’s not just your little guy.

When my first little guy when through this hitting phase, I felt incredibly isolated. Alone. And judged up the wazoo. Here’s our story.

From Life’s Archives. “That Hitting Thing,” March 8, 2006. Cinder’s not quite four; Flora’s one and change.

2006. It happened today, in the playroom, and my head is still whirring. “Flora!” Cinder yells. “You wrecked my tower. That bothers me! Bothers me! I am so angry I want to hit you! But I don’t want to hit you! Grrr!” I poke my head in from the hallway. Cinder is standing closing and opening his fists and breathing. He sees me looking, looks at me. “I didn’t hit Flora,” he announces. “But I’m not proud of you!” he yells at her. She gurgles and hands him a Lego block. They start building the tower together.

I’ve been waiting for this day for… what, two years? Two years to the day, I think. And I know today isn’t the cure. It’s not the turn around, the end. He will hit his little sister again, probably later today. He will push her, pinch her. But he’s working through it—we’re muddling through it, he’s “getting” it. And the fact that this huge emotional break through—this discovery by himself that just because he wants to hit he doesn’t have to hit—has come on the heels of eight nights of peeing the bed puts all sorts of things into perspective for me. Makes me feel not quite so resentful as I wash the sheets and covers for the ninth day in a row…

I’ve been delaying posting this “hitting thing” exposition until I felt I could clearly articulate where we were, why, and how we got there. I don’t think that’s going to happen in the next few weeks or even months. But based on some conversations I’ve had with other mothers of closely spaced siblings—particularly when the older is a boy!—I think this is a story that must be told, in all of its messiness.

Continue reading

Drama-trauma-shwama: the boys are just the same

Banff

The most beautiful city in the world–that would be Calgary, Alberta, but you can call us YYC cause we’re so freakin’ hip–has the most beautiful view in the world, especially to the west: dramatic peaks of the Rocky Mountains, which keep their snow caps on throughout the summer most years, and certainly are wearing white hats in the first weeks of July.

But not this year. This year, the snow caps are gone, gone, gone–which, I suppose, explains the flood, at least partly. And as we are driving into this beautiful, beautiful view (it is, finally, a hot, hot, rain-free day in YYC and I’m taking the children in search of some sewage-free water… but, um, that’s also another story), Cinder, my 11 year-old, looks at its beauty, sighs with contentment, and says:

Cinder: The mountains are totally naked.

And it’s one of those “teaching” moments life thrusts at us, right? And I ponder, what should I say? How direct do I need to make the link between the lack of those snow caps and our flood, and do I need to go into climate change and global warming and do I need to talk about the politics around climate change research and the theories that emphasize thousand-plus year weather patterns and maybe I shouldn’t say anything at all, because Keerist, these children have had a rough three weeks, and they’re finally sleeping and do I really want to…

… when Ender, my three-and-a-half year old pipes in with:

Ender: Are the mountains naked because they want to take a bath?

And both boys howl, howl, like this is the funniest thing ever, and then:

Cinder: They stripped naked and then cannon-balled into the rivers, and splashed and…

Ender: And they splashed us, and that’s why we had the flood!

And they laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and then…

Cinder: Perverted mountains. They really should get dressed.

Ender: Look! I can see that mountain’s penis!

So, you know, the collective PTSD of their flooded community aside… I think the boys are gonna be just fine. 

If you’re a Calgarian stumbling onto this blog for the first time, you are probably looking for unLessons from the Flood: We are amazing

If you’re a regular reader thrilled to see me back but wondering if I’m going to inflict flood stories on you forever and ever going forward… I’ll probably get over it. Eventually. But it was kind of an epic event around here, you know. If you need a flood antidote,  go read me rant about sex or that crazy viral post of mine about the biggest lie inflicted on parents or, ooh, I know, how about that post when I reveal the ultimate secret behind parenting?

But, point: even post-flood, I bring you penis stories, courtesy of Cinder and Ender. So, you know we really are gonna be all right.

I’ve been a terrible blogging sister over the past three weeks, and as we recover from the adrenaline rush and work on rebuilding and all that, I’ll be a terrible blogging sister still. But here are some beautiful posts from this week that have graced my in-box. And that have nothing to do with floods. Or penises. And are written by beautiful, talented people:

Sarah Almond at The Sadder But Wiser Girl tells you you might have superpowers. Do you? Find out.

Jen Kehl at The Skewed View wrote something… totally different. Sabra. Powerful. Inspiring. Neither about floods or parenting. Enjoy.

Stephanie Sprenger searchers for her tribe on The Her Stories Project.

Kristi Campbell at Finding Ninee introduces you to a new blogger in her continuing, amazing Land of Compassion series.

Kimberly at All Work And No Play Make Mama Go Something Something tantalizes you with Part I of Popcorn for the Brave.

The award for grossest thing in my in-box goes to Deni the Reluctant Mother at Den State: Keeping Things in Perspective. I won’t spoil it for you. Read it. Gag. It’s a rare blogger who can outgross the mother of Cinder and Ender. Congratulations, D.

xoxo

“Jane”

(Photo credit, via Zemanta, Vlatsula)

unLessons from the Posse

Biking in Waterton Lakes National Park

Photo from the newspaper "Nogales Herald&...

As we come around the corner, the crowds scatter, jump, recoil. First one–two–three–flying like the wind, silver scooters carrying them along like lightening, legs pumping–and then four–five–bent lower over the handle bars, legs pumping even faster to keep up with the vanguard–and you think they’re all through, but no, here comes six, working harder than everyone else because he has to keep up. And me, at the end, with number seven in the bike. Calling out, “High traffic area! Everyone keep to the right!” But they don’t hear me, of course; of course, they don’t, because there is only speed, wind, the path, and the posse.

I love the posse. Three are mine, four are borrowed for the day. Four people have the temerity to ask, as we zoom by, “Oh-my-god-are-they-all-yours?” and sometimes, I would punish them with The Look, but today I am happy, so I just smile. One-half of one couple is so appalled by the procession that is us that the beautiful young woman turns to her husband-boyfriend and says, loudly, fully intending me to hear, “And this, honey, is why we always use condoms.” I’d give her The Look, but then I catch the husband-boyfriend’s look, and it is one of such joy-envy-lust that instead of giving her The Look, I give him The Grin, and we have a very quick, secret psychic conversation:

Him: Seven, eh? Six boys? Man. My own fucking hockey team.

Me: Imagine the soccer games you would have.

Him: Basketball. Camping!

Me: You’d just sit in the chair, and they’d set up the tent.

Him: The littlest one would bring me beer.

Me: You’d build them the best treehouse ever, right?

Him: Oh, fuck, yeah. Would I ever. So… um… you wanna have more kids?

Me: No, I’m done. Sorry.

Him: Okay then. Well, have a good day

Me: Good luck with her, eh?

Him: Yeah… not sure this is going to work out.

We move on. Along the river. Over this bridge. That one. I don’t even attempt to tell them to stick with me–they are a posse, The Posse, and The Posse don’t wait for no Mom. But I am wise in the ways of The Posse, so I don’t ask. I command. “Meet me at the Dragonfly!” I yell to their backs. “Go ahead–and wait for me at the crossing! We all cross together!” It doesn’t matter how fast I go–they go faster. It’s all about being alone, really. I can read the fantasy, in the three eldest anyway. As far as they are concerned, they are alone.

We stop. Regroup. Do a headcount.

Me: Fuck. Five. Who’s missing?

They: The twins.

Me: Your mom’s going to kill me. Where are they?

They: Who knows?

Me: Dudes! No man left behind! Find them!

Phew. Just fixing their helmets by some bushes. Onward. But now I have given them a new war cry. They push off:

No man left behind!

Flora scoots beside me. “Did they leave me behind because I’m not a man?” she whines. “They didn’t leave you behind,” I point out. “You came to visit with me.”

Up ahead on the path: wipeout!

Me: Blood?

Him: I’m okay.

You don’t show weakness in The Posse.

The Posse fractures. Its members fight. When we stop at a playground and they play a mad game of tag with rules so complicated it makes my head spin, my eldest gets his nose out of joint. The twins think they’re picked on. Flora feels left out. Mostly, I stay out of it. Sometimes, I nudge towards a solution. But mostly–I let them be The Posse. I’m there to make sure there is no real injustice … but they know most of the rules of engagement. They are learning how to work things out. This is not Lord of the Flies.

My final test as Mom-wise-in-the-ways-of-The-Posse comes when we hit an ice rink. The ice is melting, sloppy. But still slippery. I see the desire in their eyes. The two eldest look and do a risk analysis. Then decide to try to break their bones on the nearby playground instead. The littles dump the scooters and go to slip and slide on their feet. But he-who-will-test-me comes up to me and says,

“Can we scooter on that?”

It’s a test. Any mother in her right mind would say no, and he knows this. And I know that he knows this. We look at each other, take each other’s measure. And I say,

“I can’t fit seven kids in my car if we have to go to the Children’s Hospital… Look, keep your helmet on, and no whining or crying at all unless there’s massive amounts of blood, and you’ve lost more than two teeth.”

He looks at me. Mildly appalled. His mom would have said no, outright, his eyes tell me, and I’m clearly irresponsible. Criminally so. But I’ve just given him permission. Really. If he doesn’t go on the ice, I’ll know it’s because he’s afraid. Of blood. Losing teeth. He’ll lose face.

He puts the scooter on the ice. Scoots.

“It’s not slippery enough to be fun,” he tells me. Drops it. And goes off to join The Posse.

We pass another couple on the last block home. This time, I have a quick, secret psychic conversation with the girl:

Her: Is it hard?

Me: Fuck, yeah. But so worth it.

When The Possee’s split up, and four-sevenths goes home with Fishtank Mom, they are all exhausted. And not-a-little tired of each other. But next time–next time, they’ll gel together again. Feel the wind, the speed. Be the pack. Fight, fracture, learn. Is it hard? Fuck, yeah. But so worth it.

Photo from the newspaper “Nogales Herald” dated July 20, 1922 showing an American posse after capturing the Mexican bandits Manuel Martinez and Placidio Silvas (middle of back row) who killed or wounded five people at or around Ruby, Arizona in 1921 and 1922. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And a thank you to the fabulous Tatu from Wonderland By Tatu for including Nothing By The Book in the shininess of the Sunshine Award. As you may have noticed, I truly suck at passing these on adequately. Not out of any better-than-thouness, truly, just out of… what shall we call it… laziness.Pure laziness. But thank you muchly, Tatu, you made me all smiley and sunny on a hard day. Here’s the link to the last one of these that I’ve paid back “properly,” which includes some irrelevant facts about myself and some of my favourite bloggers.

And, of body parts again

Child-proofing fail of the month, perhaps year:

Flora: Cinder! I found Daddy’s penis in Mommy’s bed. Is yours going to be detachable too when you get bigger?

Shoot me. Shoot me now. This one’s for you, Julie DeNeen.

Sales pitch fail of the month, perhaps year:

Cinder: But Mom!

Jane: For the last time! We are not going to Iceland to go visit a freakin’ penis museum!

Cinder: But Mom! They have a whale penis bone! A whale penis! Think how much Ender and I would learn!

Thanks, Iceland. Thanks a lot. (And yes, there really is an Icelanding Pallalogical Museum. On Cinder and Ender’s bucket list.)

Goal for April

Less anatomy talk. Please, children? Please!

… but while we’re talking anatomy, Here’s King Missile, with Detachable Penis:

Why your children should never, ever learn the facts of life from their peers

Egg

Cinder: And that’s just how you were born, Ender, hatched out of an egg just like that penguin.

Ender: Cool!

Cinder: I’ll show you the egg shell after we finish the show.

Ender: Did you sit on me to hatch me, or just Mom?

Cinder: Mostly Mom. But we all helped.

This is the point at which I should interrupt. Right?

(Photo credit: John Loo)

Blogosphere Love Interlude

Ute at Expat Since Birth is passing the Liebster Award onto Nothing By The Book, and I gratefully accept with my usual disclaimer that I am terrible, terrible at fulfilling the requirements of passing these things on. But let me introduce you to Ute if you do not read her already, and encourage you to wander over to her blog. She lives in the Netherlands, speaks too many languages, has three marvellous children, and writes beautifully about, well, life, really. You’ll like her.

Back to regularly scheduled programming…

Ender: Waaaaaaah! Waaaah! Waaaah! I! Never! Want! To! Grow! Up!

Jane: What the heck happened?

Flora: I told Ender that if he’s a good little boy, his penis will grow into a vulva.

Cinder: That’s just evil. Really, really evil.

If you’re laughing and want to laugh more, you should go read Poisonous Volvo.

If you’re appalled and wondering if my children ever talk about anything other than their body parts… um. Sure. Yes, they do. Sometimes they talk about the apocalypse and potty training. Also, World War II. But, yeah, mostly they talk about their body parts. Even when it sounds like they’re talking about geography.

Sorry.

“Jane”

 

The Princess Bride, almost severed body parts, and the thing that matters the most to little boys

The Princess Bride (film)

First, this: Flora, eight years old with braids almost reaching her waist, pirouetting in the middle  of the living room, an egg-spattered spatula in her hand, and delivering, as if she were possessed by Mandy Patinkin, absolutely perfectly:

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!

Then, this: Ender enters from stage left, with charred bamboo skewer in one hand and a steak knife in the other–who the hell gave the baby a knife?–and screams, loudly if not accurately:

My name is Ender! Killed my mother! Time to die!

…and lunges for Cinder, in a move more worthy of Fezzik/Andre the Giant than Inigo Montoya.

(You will be glad to know a combination side-step by big brother/tackle by mother narrowly averts a potential castration or evisceration).

But everything pales compared to this, when, after ensuring all the knives, steak and otherwise, are where little hands cannot get at them (I may be permissive but I am rarely negligent), I see Ender run down the stairs, Flora’s tiara (a gift, incidentally, from lovely Anka at Keeping It Real) thrust onto his head, and what looks like a sword built out of straws and connectors in his hand. And I stop what I’m doing, and prepare myself for the delivery of another immortal line from The Princess Bride.

And instead get this:

I am the King and this is my giant penis!

Because, when you’re a 3.5 year-old boy with an older brother, this is where everything leads to.

Andre the Giant applying a bear hug to Hulk Ho...

PSA

You too, of course, have the entire script of The Princess Bride committed to memory, right? No? Truly? Now, you know I hate to tell you what to do. But if you were to die tomorrow, without having seen this movie at least a dozen–preferably a dozen dozen times–I think your life would lack meaning. Get thee to iTunes, Netflix or a library, and, oh, enjoy. (The William Goldman book, on which the movie is based–beyond fabulous as well.) End of PSA.

… and if you’ve already got the entire script of The Princess Bride committed to memory (and of course most of you do, because after all, you are my people), hop over to Undogmatic Unschoolers for the best-ever quote for Isaac Asimov. And then follow the link there to my new best-ever, most-favourite site on the Internet.

And may your Monday rock. Even if you hate Mondays. And if you really hate Mondays, head on over to Mod Mom Beyond Indiedom’s I Hate Mondays Blog Hop. And we can all sob together…

… but seriously. May your Monday, and your week, not suck.

The not-so-mysterious incident of the carrots in the milk carton

Kids Wall 2

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

I.

I sleepwalk into the kitchen in search of the first cup of coffee. Boil water. Fight with the grinder. Dump old coffee grounds all over the floor. Clean them up. Make the coffee. Inhale the smell of… sheer bliss, really. If you’re a coffee lover, you know what I mean–there is nothing like it, it is the smell of perfection, the birth and end of the universe in one olfactory sensation, the promise of everything. Ah. Pour the first cup. No cream in the fridge–reach for the milk carton.

Pour.

Discover there are two giant carrots in the milk carton.

Look at them uncomprehendingly, because, you know, I have just smelled and not yet drunk the coffee.

Pour the milk into the coffee carefully. Replace the milk carton in the fridge.

Go sit on the couch beside the 3.5 year old. Drink my coffee.

II.

Sean stumbles into the kitchen in search of his cup of coffee. Lucky man, the lag between his wake up time and mine insufficient today for the first pot to be empty. Pours himself a cup of coffee. Savours the smell. And, responsible father that he is, asks the 2/3 of the awake progeny if they want to eat something. (Their mother does not speak, or serve, until she has finished her second cup of coffee. She is still on the couch drinking the first…) The progeny want cereal.

He grabs bowls. Cereal. Milk. Pours.

“Why the fuck are there two carrots in the milk carton?”

Neither the milk nor the carrots answer. I look at the 3.5 year old. He grins a wicked grin.

“I put them there, Dadda!” he calls out happily.

“Why… why did you put carrots in the milk?” Sean says. His voice full of angst and despair–and see, this is why I do not talk until after the second cup. Why suffer? And make others suffer? Let the caffeine do its work first…

“Flora was peeing,” Ender replies promptly.

I am almost done my first cup of coffee, so I understand perfectly. What he wanted to do was to flush the carrots down the toilet. However, the toilet was occupied. What else could he do with them? Aha! Milk carton!

Sean is still just smelling the coffee. And trying to understand all this. And perhaps on the verge of tears.

And here is proof that I am an excellent, excellent wife and helpmeet: although the effort involved in this is Herculean, I lift myself off the couch, stagger into the kitchen, grab his coffee cup, and put it into his hands. He tries to speak–I shut his mouth with a kiss.

I’d say drink–but I do not speak until I’ve downed the second cup of coffee.

He takes a sip. Then another. The world is slowly becoming a better place, and the case of the carrots in the milk losing its power to ruin his day.

I pour my second cup of coffee. Pour the rest of the milk into it. Shake the carrots out into the sink. Rinse them.

“They don’t look like they’ve been in there very long,” Sean says. He picks up the empty milk carton and peers into it. To determine–by what evidence?–the length of the carrot milk immersion?

Cinder, our 10 year old, stumbles down the stairs. Stops, and stares at the tableau, dominated by his father, evidently distraught, peering into the milk carton. And says…

“Did Ender pee in the milk again?”

I draw the curtain on the resulting scene. Suffice it to say, Sean was never happier that he was lactose intolerant… and Flora may never eat cereal again.

More like this: The obvious correlation between crying over spilt coffee and potty training

And some blogger love. Last week, Tirzah Duncan, the talented writer-poet-entrepreneur-cynical optimist-coiner-of-phrases-extraordinaire at The Ink Caster, passed The Versatile Blogger award on to me (which of course means someone gave it to her, congratulations, Tirzah). In addition to being a talented writer, Tirzah would be a great person to watch your back come the Zombie Apocalypse. If you don’t believe me, check out this post.

My head wasn’t quite done swelling when TJ, Sara and Jen from Chi-Town Mommy Mayhem — well, possibly just one of them, but I prefer to take the compliment from all three — handed off the Liebster Award to Nothing By The Book. Their blog is “dedicated to the uncensored mommies of Chicago” and their motto is “We don’t sugar coat anything here.” And they have kick ass tweets ( @MayhemMommyTJ).

I’m eight awards or possibly more behind doing the proper reciprocity thing, and with each passing day… Well. If you really want to know seven random things about me, read this my last Blogosphere Group Hug and find out how I once interviewed the prime minister of Canada sans underwear. For blogs that deserve to have the awards passed on to them–check out the blogs I follow, bottom of each page of the blog. Cause, you know, I only follow good ones.

How un-helicopter mothers parent, part deux

1, 2, 3 Tae Kwon do

Jane: Jeezus Keerist, what the hell are you guys doing? Stop! Stop right now!

Cinder: Mom! It’s sooo much fun!

Jane: If you’re going to keep on doing that, go down into the basement so I can’t see it. Go! Now!

Cinder to friend: C’mon, let’s go.

Friend: She really means that? We can keep on doing this in the basement?

Cinder: Yeah. But—like, if there’s blood or someone seriously gets hurt, she’s going to be massively pissed.

Friend: How pissed?

Cinder: Like epically pissed.

Friend: What will she do to us?

Cinder: Lecture-lecture-lecture-lecture-blah-blah-blah. It’s awful.

Friend: Would she get bandaids first?

Jane: I’m right here. Listening!

Cinder: Well, what will you do if there’s blood?

Jane: Lecture-lecture-lecture-lecture-blah-blah-blah until your ears fall off. Then I’d go get the bandaids. So—no blood.

Friend: I’m never really sure if your mom’s really cool or kind of weird.

Cinder: Me neither. Let’s go before she really thinks about this and changes her mind.

 

Boxing gloves in use in a professional kickbox...

A. You don’t want to know what they were doing. I’m still pretending I didn’t see it.

B. There was no blood. Thank the gods. More miraculously, I don’t think they broke anything…

C. The Cinder knows his mother well, doesn’t he? Yup. He sure does.

 

Photo 1 via Zemanta: 1, 2, 3 Tae Kwon do (Photo credit: Claudio.Ar). Photo 2 via Wikipedia. And what they were doing… way worse.

Embracing Chaos

A61

A61

or, unParenting unResolutions

“Mama? Big mama? Wake up, big mama. I love you so very very very much.”

This is how Ender sets up the mood for the day—ensuring that no matter what he flushes down the toilet or smashes into pieces with the meat mallet (“How the hell did he find it again? I hid it on top of the fridge!” “Judging by barstool beside the counter, and the stack of boxes on the counter, you don’t want to know.” “Oh, Kee-rist. How has this child not broken any bones yet?”), my first and most brilliant memory of the day is tickling butterfly kisses and expressions of love ultimate from the beloved beast who will spend the day terrorizing the house, the family, and if we let him outside, the neighbourhood.

He is who he is; he is three. He’s careening towards three-and-a-half (see Surviving 3.5 and 5.5: A cheat sheet for an exposition and some almost practical tips and tricks), and three-and-a-half for the boys I birth is the age of chaos. So as I prepare to say goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013, I know that chaos and the Ender crazy will dominate much of the year.

And I make no resolutions to yell less. Or discipline more. I will lose my temper, and I will yell, and there will be days when, as I survey the destruction wrought by the whirlwind in the kitchen while I absented myself from his side for five minutes, I seriously ponder just how wrong it would be to put him in the dog’s kennel. Just, you know, for a little while. And there will be days—and weeks—when I’ll be counting the hours until bedtime from 11:15 a.m. And days when, as soon as Sean comes home, I will hand over the entire parenting business to him, and lock myself in the bathroom with a bottle—um, glass, I meant to type glass—of wine.

That’s part of the ride; part of the package. I’ve written elsewhere on that the ultimate secret behind parenting is; its close twin is this: every age and stage, every journey has tough stretches, challenging stretches. And they’re all necessary, and most of them are unavoidable, and happiness and peace lie in knowing that they just are. And not seeking perfection, from myself as mother, or from the child.

He’s so lucky, my Ender, my third. His eldest brother broke me in, thoroughly, and no sooner did I start to boast that I had “cracked the Cinder code,” Flora arrived, teaching me that I had learned absolutely nothing about the uniqueness that is her (bar that nursing every hour, every 15 minutes, or, what’s that word, constantly, is kind of normal) from my first years with the Cinder. By the time Ender arrived, all I knew, for sure, was this:

I love him, madly, fully, unconditionally, in all his guises.

He will exhaust me, challenge me, frustrate me, make me scream.

And I will love him still, and love him more.

As far as everything else goes? As he grows, I will learn him slowly, piece by piece, unique need by unique need. Sometimes well, sometimes badly. Sometimes I’ll fail him—and sometimes, I will do right by him even though in the moment he thinks I’m failing him completely. And maybe, at the end of it all, when he’s 30, 40, with his own children—in therapy—maybe he’ll despise me, blame me, reject me. I don’t know. All I know for sure, is this:

I love him, madly, fully, unconditionally, in all his guises.

He will exhaust me, challenge me, frustrate me, make me scream.

And I will love him still, and love him more.

More like this: Sunshine of Our Lives, or, How Toddlers Survive.

Blog Hop Report: I spent some of the weekend blog hopping at the TGIF Blog Hop hosted by You Know it Happens At Your House Too. What a fascinating variety of blogs, people and approaches to life, the universe and blogging.

I’d like to introduce you, if you do not know them already, to three mama-bloggers (but so much more) with attitude:

Jenn at Something Clever 2.0  (Twitter: @JennSmthngClvr)

Teri Biebel at Snarkfest (Twitter: @snarkfestblog)

Mollie Mills at A Mother Life (Twitter: @amotherlife)

And something completely different, a woman who took my breath away with her authenticity and boldness of voice from the first line of the first post I read of hers: Jupiter, “Eco-Redneck,Breeder,Stitch-Witch,Knittiot Savant & Whoreticulturist Extraordinaire” at crazy dumbsaint of the mind. I’m not going to attempt to explain her. If whoreticulturist is not a word that turns you off, the word sapiosexual turns you on, have a visit and get to know her. Otherwise, maybe not. Safe she is not.

Happy reading, happy blogging, happy living, and I will see in 2013. My year of chaos. Your year of… what?

xoxo

“Jane”

P.S. And if you’re having a slow New Year’s Eve at home with your kids and computer, check out Dani Ryan’s The Best of 2012 Blog Hop at Cloudy With a Chance of Wine.

Of boys and their toys

Ancient Egyptian goddess Isis, wife of Osiris....

I.

Jane: “…but Isis was such a powerful goddess, that she gathered up all the bits of her husband, and put him back together…”

Cinder: Except for his weenie, which got eaten by a fish.

Jane: Um… yes, actually, “…except for the dangly bits.”

Cinder: Does it really say that?

Jane: Yes.

Cinder: Ah, penis jokes. Never not funny.

Flora: I don’t get it. I don’t go around making vulva jokes all the time. And neither do my friends.

Cinder: That’s because you’re all girls. And it’s a well known fact girls are not funny.

Flora: Mom! Cinder’s being sexist!

Cinder: Okay, fine, girls can be funny. But it’s a well known fact that dangly bits are funnier than non-dangly bits. That’s just the way it is.

Ba-dum-bum.

II.

Cinder: I can’t wait to read more of Cleopatra and her Ass.

Jane: Asp! Cleopatra and Her Asp!

Cinder: I just love reading about Ancient Egypt. The ASS-yrians. The PARP-ians.

Jane: Parthians!

Cinder: Fartians. No matter how you pronounce it–hilarious.

Flora: Mom? Are all boys like this?

Jane: Like this? All boys? Well, not all boys…

Cinder: But most are. Isn’t it great?

Flora: Do they grow out of it as they become men?

Jane: Um, well, some do…

Cinder: And most don’t. Isn’t that great?

Flora: And suddenly, I think maybe getting married to a boy isn’t such a great idea.

Ah. Yeah. We’ve had a “If Flora ends up a lesbian, this is why” moment in the past (read about here). And here’s another one. It will be her brother’s fault.

III.

And just one more…

Jane: Ender, what the heck are you doing?

Ender: I protecting my penis so you don’t zip it!

Jane: Sweetie, I’d never–I never have!

Ender: You zipped Cinder!

Jane: Cinder! That was like eight years ago! Once! You told Ender?

Cinder: Hey, that sort of thing scars you forever.

Dangly bits. Funny. Yet vulnerable. Therein lies the humour, I guess?

Pharaoh, the king of ancient Egypt, is often d...

Want more?

There’s a vintage Cinder story on Unschooling Roman Numerals from earlier this week on our new Undogmatic Unschoolers blog you might enjoy as well.

Or do a search for anatomy talk.

Boys.

He’s so his mother’s son, part deux

English: M with Sponge Bob in Leipzig. Portugu...

I.

Jane: Oh-my-god-Cinder, have you been sneaking off and taking extra annoyance lessons or something?

Cinder: No. But I’ve been watching Sponge Bob again.

Jane: Well, that explains it.

Cinder: Or, it could be all-natural, courtesy of your genes. Hmmm. Probably the latter. Don’t you think?

II.

Jane: I’m going to go read the book now to Flora, you coming?

Cinder: What book is that?

Jane: You’ll love it. It’s called Butts and Asses of the World.

Cinder: Really?

Jane: Um…

Cinder: You’re the best mom in the world. Hey! This is The Mark of Athena!

Jane: You’ve been waiting for Mark of Athena since June.

Cinder: Well, yeah, but you got my hopes all up with that Butts and Asses book.

I’m so evil.

P.S. Rick Riordan’s The Mark of Athena! Finally!

Silver tetradrachm issued by the League of Ath...

the next four journals

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My current personal favourite: The Authoritative New Parents’ Guide to Sex After Children (of course… what else.)

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FunnyFloor peas • The rarest song of all • Sarcasm, lawn darts, and toilets  • What humanitarian really means  • The sacrifices mothers make for their children (Warning: grossness factor uber-high)  • It’s all about presentation  • Anatomy talk, now and forever  • Want to hear all the swear words I know?  • Of the apocalypse, euphemisms and (un)potty training  • Mom? Have you noticed I’ve stopped…  • Poisonous Volvo

How you know he’s his mother’s son…

I.

Sean: Ugh, it’s time for this test tube full of Scope to go.

Jane: No! Not in the sink over the dishes! It’s got urine in it!

Sean: You let Cinder keep a test tube full of urine next to our wine glasses? For how long?

Jane: It’s not full of urine, it only has a little bit of urine in it–it’s mostly mouthwash. And isn’t the point here that I stopped you from pouring it over our dishes, which if you had done, would have had you rushing out to buy new dishes before our next meal?

Sean: You are so my son’s mother.

Yup. To that end, I offer more proof:

II.

Sean: Is this test tube in the sink the urine test tube?

Cinder: I don’t know. There are lot of test tubes in the house. Odds are good someone peed in one of them at some time.

Sean: Someone?

Cinder: Well, ,when I say someone, I mean me. But if it makes you feel better, I don’t remember peeing in any test tubes recently.

Ender: I do!

Sean: I want my own sterilized kitchen. And none of you can ever come in.

Well. This is why I didn’t tell him about The Floor Peas.

Line art representation of a Test tube

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