Friday, April 27, 2012

Even if it doesn't have wings, I bet they could still make it fly

I've had so much present drama going on lately that I didn't realize how much time had gone by since I babbled on and on about the past...time for another entry in the FLASHBACK SERIES (applause, applause)

Time: 2006-ish
Place: Virginia

Kids: Pre-school
Challenge: Not destroying the new house (yet)

There was a time, when the kids were around 4 years old, where life was pretty smooth. The kids were relatively low maintenance and we had a good routine going. We had just moved into a brand new townhouse, one of those great rental finds with upgraded appliances and hardwood floors that you can't believe you got for such a steal (owners must have been nuts) but you didn't question it because it was awesome.

And for us, just like pretty much everyone else, moving absolutely sucked. So we still had stuff in boxes here and there, especially in the kids' rooms. Stuff I just couldn't find the time or energy to put away, a decision I'd soon regret.

One quiet Saturday morning, I heard a little bit of commotion, but nothing alarming so I ignored it. The kids were generally great about getting up at the crack of dawn and going down to the kitchen to grab some cereal.

Like I said, low maintenance.

This particular Saturday was like all the others, except when I decided to go see what the commotion was all about, I found that the two of them had opened Clifford's 3rd story bedroom window, pushed the screen out, and were methodically throwing everything within reach out onto the ground below. Sippy cups, hangers, little pants, toys, anything you would find in a kid's room, and everything in those boxes I had yet to unpack. I'm really lucky they didn't decide to throw each other out as well. They thought it was great fun, I was on the verge of a meltdown of epic proportions.

After locking the kids in a room where there couldn't do any more damage, I ventured outside to gather what can only be describe as a yard sale sized collection of belongings strewn across the yard, into the neighbor's yard, and further into the common area of the complex. It was mortifying. "Don't mind me, just picking up all the crap my kids decided to pitch out the window at 7am".

Later on that afternoon I had a small pile of clothing and a sippy cup sitting on my porch, no doubt brought over from the neighbor 7 houses away after they found it in their yard. Of course they knew exactly where it came from, we tend to get noticed. Welcome to the neighborhood.

At least it wasn't raining and no one lost a limb.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Now they think I'm moving out. It's kind of awesome

Let the crazy continue...

The kids have this little bad habit of removing the backs of all the TV remotes in the house looking for replacement batteries for their Wii remotes when those batteries die. Drives me completely bananas because they trade out the batteries and don't replace the backs. So not only do I have TV remotes that are no longer operational, they have naked backs. So ghetto.

The other day I noticed that the basement TV remote was the most recent victim. Although when the little twerps realized that it had the wrong size batteries, they just put it down and didn't replace the back. Usually it's sitting right there on the table, but not this time.

Vowing to not have a naked TV remote (again) last night I insisted the kids look for the back and they weren't "allowed to come out of the basement until they found it and if they couldn't find it, they were never ever ever to watch my basement TV ever again".

Protest ensued....as expected.

I actually heard Clifford say "I didn't take it off! So it's not my responsibility."

OHHHH REALLY? (This is where I lose it)

This nonsense, and similar comments, came flying up from the basement until I heard Richard making his way down from the top floor of the house to see what was up. That was the moment I looked at him and said "that's IT! I've had it and I'm moving out, you can have them, I'm DONE %$&@#*!!!!!!!!"

This may require at least one bottle of wine. (I resisted)

After the dust had settled and the back of the remote was actually located, it was time for the kids to go to bed. Having forgotten all about the whole moving out thing, I was tucking them into bed and Alexander said to me "so Mom, you're moving out?"

"I just might be, so watch your butt."

There was fear in his eyes. I win.




Monday, April 23, 2012

It just makes no sense

Every weekday it's a struggle to get the kids up, ready for school, and shoved out the door in time for the bus.

A typical day goes like this:
Kids' alarm goes off at 6am...kids ignore it. I eventually go in and turn it off and attempt to drag them from their almost-dead slumber. Arguments ensue and, more often than not, one kid slaps the other.
yell, yell, yell......sometimes a little crying. Stress level hits the roof.

What results is two very cranky children who barely make the bus on time and one stressed out Mom who feels like she's already worked an entire day at a nuclear facility before actually leaving for work in the morning.

Needless to say, I was more than looking forward to getting a little extra sleep on Saturday morning.

No lie, at 6am Saturday morning, Clifford LEAPS out of bed and wanders in to ask me if he can go downstairs, with Alexander following him by a whole 5 minutes.

"yes, but go watch tv in the basement so I can't hear it ugggggghhhhhh."

WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN??

I completely understand the mental difference between getting up on a day you have to go to work or school and a day where your biggest responsibility is walking from the kitchen to the livingroom without falling down, but seriously. I almost want to start keeping them awake on the weekends just so they'll sleep in.

Sunday morning was exactly the same and just like clockwork, I was in their room at 6am this morning when they slept through their alarm.

I can't wait until they're in high school and all they do is sleep. Maybe then I'll get some sleep.

Only 4 more years.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Go ahead, yell as loud as you want

As if my children indiscriminately spending all my money wasn't enough...

Alexander has a criminal record in this house. He has a slightly checkered past when it comes to being honest about what homework he has, especially when it stands in the way of spending after-school hours with friends. It seems a bit too easy for him to look me in the face and BS me when I ask him if he's done it all.

So there is very little trust, for good reason.

Although both boys have been a little better about getting all homework done at their after-school program lately, I still interrogate the two of them regularly, much to their dismay. Today I picked them up and got the standard "we did all our homework" almost as soon as I walked through the door.

We'll see about that.

Once in the house there was great dissention when I asked to see evidence of this so-called completed homework. Called that one from the beginning.

After a few not-so-veiled threats I was able to get Clifford to show me he had indeed completed his homework. Done. Alexander on the other hand threw himself on the floor in what could only be an academy award winning dramatic performance boo-hooing about how he "forgot his notebook but he promised promised promised that he really did his assignment".

Nope.

Drama ensued in the form of Alexander sitting in his room crying his eyes out about not being able to go outside and proclaiming things such as "PARENTS SHOULD TRUST THEIR KIDSSSSS!!!, I HATE MY LIIIIIFFFFE!!!!, I'M MISERABLLLLLLLE!!!" and my personal fave "I DON'T BELONG HERRRRRRRRE!!!!"

Funny, neither do I.

After a few moments of this very dramatic show, he finally calmed down, came downstairs and I proceeded to tell him the story of the boy who cried wolf. One he had heard before but I insisted on retelling.  He said he got it, but I doubt it.

So here he sits in front of me, re-doing his homework and claiming it will be "extra credit" since he did the other assignment "for real".

Sure.

Well, Alexander, since you don't belong here, maybe you can go out and get a job to pay me back for all the in-app purchases.

I should have them arrested

After last week's little meltdown over the discovery of the $40 in iTunes in-app purchases, I had the kids do a little labor over the weekend and was making a mental list of other things they could do to make it up to me.

And then yesterday...another iTunes receipt comes through. This one for $30. These kids clearly worked the system and managed to spend a total of $100 on crap for their iPods.

I would like to string you up by your toes!!!!

So Clifford and I had words this morning. Of course he claims to have no clue what I'm talking about and has no idea why I would be concerned. After telling him that he can pay me back with his college fund, I realized these kids have no concept of money and I don't know how to teach a kid that.

Time to start googling stuff. How do you teach a kid that once you push the button someone on the other end (ME) pays for it with REAL money??

iPods have been confiscated until all debts are paid off. Currently taking suggestions on appropriate chores and their dollar value.

I'm pretty sure those iPods will be completely obsolete by the time they get them back since "hey Mom, I cleaned the mess I made in the basement" doesn't really do it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Child labor is the only way to go

Things belonging to you that your child should never get their filthy little mitts on:

- The car
- Your work blackberry
- Nail polish remover
- Superglue
- And lastly, but probably most importantly, your Apple ID

A little background....since the kids' birthday is a mere 3 days before Christmas, every year they go nutty and are smothered in gifts from family and friends, guaranteeing I have the most ill-behaved children in the neighborhood for the 3 months preceding AND following the holidays.

This past year, I asked everyone interested in giving a them either a birthday or Christmas gift to please give a gift card. That way the kids could pool their money and get whatever they wanted and I wouldn't have a basement full of toys that are played with for 3 days and live out their days shoved in a corner only to be donated later on.

And, God help me, they had enough to buy themselves each a shiny, new iPod Touch.

I would like to first thank Steve Jobs (RIP) for at least making parental controls a real thing on these iPods. I can easily block out all the stuff they love like YouTube, iTunes, The App Store, and Safari. So what's left are all the ridiculous games that they could afford with their iTune gift cards.

Fast forward to our Spring Break trip to Utah to visit my Mom. Just before we left, Richard so kindly bought each of the kids $15 iTunes gift cards so they could dial into my Mom's WiFi and spent every dollar the minute we walked through the door. I kept mental track of the dollars they were spending because they would have to come to me to enter my Apple ID, and they have been very good about this little process for months now.

Until this particular week.

After I reached a mental tab of $30 I cut them off and said "you have all the games you can afford, no more downloads". Fine? Fine.

Fine.

Once we all got home from our vacation and got back to normal, the iTunes receipts started to come into my email one by one. As most know, there is a few days delay on those receipts.
Noticing there were several, I started to open them. All of them checked out and added up to the $30 in gift cards, except for the very latest one.
That one included THIRTY ONE in-app purchases totalling $40.00.
"Hey kids! just buy this extra plane in the game for .99 and get to the next level!"

CLIFFORRRRRRRRDDDDDD!!!!!!!!

Turns out the little rat had me put my Apple ID in to buy a game that I agreed to let him purchase, and then proceeded to figure out that it wouldn't be required again as long as he made another purchase within a certain period of time.

WHAT THE HELL

Alexander was really quick to throw Clifford under the bus and proclaim his own innocence, which Clifford did not challenge, so the jig was up. And now I'm out $40.

Easter money from relatives? MINE

And to work off the remaining balance, Clifford will be serving his time as a gardener this weekend helping me spruce up the patio. Get ready to spread some mulch, little man!

No more apps. Sorry Steve Jobs (RIP) but I can no longer afford to be solely responsible for raising Apple's stock price. You understand.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Get your obnoxious kid away from me

Despite the handful that my rowdy children are on a regular basis, they've always been good fliers. Rarely have I had to squash a bout of mid-flight sibling rivalry with more than a well timed "shut your mouth". They're pretty well behaved on planes and the people stuck in the air with us have mentioned that to me several times in the past. 

This year during our Spring Break trip, I had the good fortune to be able to leave Utah and fly to Los Angeles for a few days to visit my brother and enjoy some kid-free down time while my mom kept them busy. 

Yesterday's early morning flight to LA was of course packed full of screaming, obnoxious kids and the parents who apparently claimed them.  Two of the little turds happened to be seated two rows behind me and proceeded to sing (very poorly) and just mouth off the entire flight. Not a word from their parents. Little shits. 

Their mom was an average looking woman who just sat there listening to her kids annoy everyone and interjected the occasional "shh", which went ignored. Their dad was a giant man who looked like he could hurt people...not a peep from him. 

The real excitement came when the plane landed and we taxied to the terminal. I could hear one of the crappy loudmouth kids start to get really antsy and loud.  Of course once we were able to finally take our seat belts off, the little fart decided to jam his way through the crowd of people waiting to get off the plane, stopping right next to me saying over and over "move people, move people, move people". Still nothing from his mom other than a whispered "stop it".
Dad? Crickets.  

If I just slap him really quick do you think anyone would notice? A nice backhand to the throat maybe?
.....internal dialogue. 

I don't understand why some parents think it's just okay to let their kids terrorize everyone around them without stepping in. Especially when the 'everyone' is stuck in a small metal tube in the sky with them and can't get away. 

The turd hollered "move people" a few more times and when the crowd finally started moving, he plowed his way through, stepping over (on) roller bags and people just to get to the front of the plane so he could make an escape. When I was able to get to the terminal, he had run over so many people that all he could do was dance around the place and wait for the rest of his family. 

I came really close to grabbing the little shit by the throat and letting him know, in no uncertain terms, that he was a horribly-behaved kid with no manners, pathetic parents, and he would probably end up in prison some day. 

But I decided it would be me who would end up in airport prison for doing that so I just shot him a look and kept walking. 

Parents, I get that you're exhausted and traveling with your kids sucks most of the time. But for the love of God, please don't just sit back pretending they're not yours while they torture the rest of us. It makes you look like idiots. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Turns out you CAN take kids into an airport bar

Yesterday was a day wrought with considerable obstacles and stress. Yesterday was also the day we were to head out for our annual Spring Break trek to Park City, Utah to visit my Mom. Coincidence? I think not.

Our flight was scheduled for 7:10 am. So at 4:30, the kids and I made the 45 minute drive to the airport. Traffic was lovely. Of course 4:30 am is the ONLY time traffic is lovely in our area, but that only becomes important later...

It was only after we got to the airport and stood in line for the self check-in kiosks that the real shit went down....a little background.....my lovely mother booked these tickets for us so she could use her frequent flier miles. She also took leave of her faculties when doing so and booked my ticket in my maiden name, a name I have not gone by in 11 years. Of course I realized that after the tickets were printing and I had already paid to check the bag.

I asked for help from the random lady behind the counter, who was clearly only capable of printing bag tags and being super judgey, and I was met with "Oh, that's going to be a HUGE problem, you need to go stand in the 'Special Services' line".

Thanks.

Everyone in the Special Services line of course had really complicated issues needing resolution so we stood there, for more than an hour, listening to a poor, crated, not-at-all-ready-to-fly German Shepard bark incessantly. Totally expected that before having any coffee, by the way.

By the time we got to the counter, our plane was leaving. The lady behind THAT counter looked at me and said "we can't do anything, it was customer-booked and unless you have an ID with that name, you can't fly. I can rebook you on the 5:50 pm flight today, you just need to bring documentation proving that was your maiden name".

Really? I suppose this is the new way of flying securely. Pain in the ass, but travel safety is what it is, whether I have to make several trips to airport or not.

Back on the shuttle we go. We pulled the car out of the long term lot and headed home. This time, IN the rush hour traffic I thought we had smartly escaped earlier in the day. Good times.

Extremely long story short, my new friend Tom at the Delta 1-800 number is now the proud owner of at least one of my kids, haven't decided which yet, because he fixed my name. New flight, ready to go. Amen.

1:30 pm....I decided the kids and I should leave ridiculously early for our round two trip to get to the airport since we were doing so in the middle of the day. Good thing I did because as I've always said, it only takes one jackass to ruin the day for everyone else around them. And that one jackass happened to be on the BW Parkway just as I was heading back to the airport for the second time in a day.

For those of you from the DC area, you know what that is. I'll leave it at that.

Strike two on my shitty day.

Bottom line, we got to the airport on time, I didn't have to submit a blood sample to prove I should be on the plane, and we made it Utah by later that night.

Of course I don't blame my Mom for the innocent mistake anyone could have made booking my ticket. She's just not allowed to do it anymore. And just in case, I plan to carry around my college ID. You never know when that thing will come in handy.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kid For Sale...willing to negotiate

Today marks the first day of Spring Break for the kids. A day that I not-so-silently dread because I get to be in the house all day with the little trolls and they get bored and bored equals meltdowns (for all of us). So today I was fortunate (or not) to be able to work from home while the kids played outside. Every year at this time we make the trek out to Park City to visit my Mom and we don't leave until tomorrow at the crack of dawn. Only one day to suffer through...and there was suffering.

The kids played outside most of the day, which gave me the rare opportunity to do laundry and pack without the house falling down around me. They were in and out throughout the day and at various friends' houses, but I always knew where they where. No big deal.

4:00 rolls around and Clifford makes the grand announcement he's going back out.
Me: "Fine, you can go out but you have soccer practice at 5:30 so I better see you back here in time for that."
Clifford: "Okay, I'll be back in time." (famous last words)

Alexander was already in the house so when it was time, he got dressed for practice and headed down to the field...still no Clifford.

15 minutes later I'm calling the kid's mom he went to visit at 4:00, whose son happens to also be on the soccer team....no dice.

30 minutes later I'm headed to the field...and there he is.

Really?

Me: "What the hell are you doing?? I told to to be home in time to change for practice and here you are at practice NOT wearing what you're supposed to be wearing."
Clifford: "I forgot."

You forgot???

How about I "forget" you while I go to Utah for a week tomorrow.

BAH

I made sure Alexander was still practicing as expected, throw Clifford in the back of the car like a recently-arrested drug dealer, and carted him home.

Sorry, buddy, but you will NOT be participating in the epic Nerf Gun battle in Carter's back yard later.

Consequences.

I made him take a shower and now he's upstairs boo-hooing.

I'm certain this little episode will go from missing soccer practice to me waiting up for him (while having a stroke) to come home from some party when he's in high school, but for now, I control the Nerf Gun battle privileges.

There's a reason I have to color my hair.