If you have four sons it's likely at some point, even though you're not Catholic, you'll conclude one of them needs to have an exorcism.
What else could explain their behavior?
Case a point. Last week I had to bring my 12 year old and one of my seven year olds in to work (school vacation week). The seven year old, without me noticing, stuck two post-it notes on my back, one that read "baby," and another that read, "I poop in my pants." Please note the irony there if you've been following these posts.
Thankfully I have kind co-workers who pointed out that I was, yes, a grown woman walking around work with post it notes stuck to her back.
What kind of kid does that and then cries at night, not because I didn't come up stair for kisses and tuck ins, but because I didn't say "night, night," on the way out of his room.
The kind of kid who needs a exorcism that's who.
"Why you do this to me, Dimmy?" Read my A-to-Z posts to see if you have what it takes to be the parent of four boys. Find out more about the A-to-Z Challenge here.
If you're going to parent four boys you'll need to have a wicked sense of humor. You'll achieve this best by being born in Massachusetts where something being wicked is considered above and beyond as in "wicked good," or "wicked awesome." Maybe you should reconsider parenting four sons if you cannot find the humor in rinsing off clothing diapers in the laundry room sink and wandering off and forgetting about said diaper only to return to find the water overflowing out of the sink and into the cat's litter box which is poised underneath thereby not only wasting copious amounts of water in your attempt to be green but also creating a huge mess that needs to be cleaned up in addition to all the other huge messes piling up around the house. You'll need to see the humor in broken windows, and poop-smeared ceilings (really!), in inane questions and temper tantrums in the supermarket. I've tried to convey some of that humor in the last 22 posts. It's all about the humor really - there's something to laugh at, or at least to try and laugh at, every day. Speaking of the cloth diaper incident, the only real green I benefit I reaped from that little experiment was when I finally sold all the cloth diapers on Ebay. Skip the cloth diapers and just potty train your kids advises the mom whose seven year olds still wear Pull Ups to bed. But look on the bright side - I'm saving water by not having to wash peed in sheets every night right? Now that's, wicked awesome.
Since my first son was born 12 years ago I've written volumes about my children and about being their mom. And not just in this blog. On paper. In journals. Lots and lots of journals. You dear reader get the best, the prime rib if you will, of those entries. For years prior to the arrival of my first born I sporadically kept journals. I have one from the three months I spent in Europe in 1990 and another of the summer I spent working for Peach Tree Circle Farm. There are others but they tend to ramble or go months and months between entries. The reason I've been able to keep this current spate of journals going is that parenting is something new everyday. Just when you think you've figured your kids out they change, just when you get used to a phase, it's over. You find that you can barely keep up with their shoe size much less the inner workings of the growing psyches.
So you write entries in journals and try to grasp moments, catalogue them, file them away for when there's time to revisit them.
- Parenting is explaining that the "touchie takie" rule applies only to food and not to 59¢ items at the Christmas Tree Shop. Nice try guys.
- parenting tip #4891: The toddler who does not poop in his diaper all morning will unload with a colossal dump the moment you arrive at: a) the park, b) his big brother's piano lesson, c) the library, d) all of the above.
- Tonight I told one of the boys that if he couldn't eat his dinner, could he at least artfully arrange it on his plate?
No sense wasting food and sacrificing good design too.
- I think we can all agree that over weight guys with white beards and nicotine habits should not don Santa hats.
My kid (pointing out the car window): "Mommy. Is that Santa?" Me: "I don't know. Maybe." My kid: "Doesn't Santa know that smoking is bad for you?"
- When you're over 40 the a game Concentration with your kids could pretty much be renamed Just Guessing.
- Today the twins ate an entire bag of SeaSnax dried seaweed in the car on the way home from the health food store.
My tuna casserole they snub, but a big bag of kelp? Bring it on. ps. In case you've never eaten seaweed and you're wondering, it's not as if seaweed tastes like chicken. Seaweed tastes like seaweed.
- Parenting is asking your children if they'd rather enjoy their lives and be happy or keep arguing and fighting over who stepped on a crack.
If you have sons of a certain age, you will be surprised at how infrequently they change their underwear.
Use a bath towel once and it's in a clothes basket (or more likely a heap on the bathroom floor), but send them to a friend's house for the weekend and the clean undies you send with them will come back untouched, do a load of laundry and the ratio of socks to undies is like 8 to 1.
I can't understand it.
It's like the new math.
Sex is the traditional means by which one acquires children. Sometimes, when you have what's considered to be a lot of children, others might presume that you do not know that sex leads to babies, that you perhaps forgot this fact, or that you need a gentle "wink, wink, nudge, nudge," reminder. This idea might cause some people to say loudly, "hey you guys, don't cha know how this thing works?" And while I know that this is said in jest. It's not okay to say. Ever.
The Pinewood Derby is an event that your sons will participate in if they become cub scouts. You'll sign your kids up for cub scouts even though you frown on the BSA's stance on homosexual leaders because you're desperate for someone, anyone, to teach your kids good manners and besides you're a Unitarian so the kids meet plenty of gay couples at fellowship. So you sign up for cub scouts and it's pretty fun. There are parades, pledges, secret handshakes, and field trips, and your kids look pretty smart in those uniforms. And then it's February and your kids come home from scouts with a block of wood and tell you that you're suppose to help them make it into a car, and not just any car, a car that will win the derby. So you nod and look excited and give the box to your husband and think "yes!" finally a project were dads get judged with the same unfairness with which moms get judged: Halloween costumes, clever goodie bags at the birthday party, the most desirable dessert at the pot luck, your kids appearance. No one ever thinks a kid is dirty and has messy hair because their dad is a slacker. On the other hand, The Pinewood Derby is all about the dads. The Dad's who were once cub scouts themselves have the first advantage because they've already seen which car designs are the sleekest. Then there's the weight and where to put the weight, and how to incorporate your son's Star Wars theme, or "make mine an alligator like Billy's dad did last year," (curses to Billy's dad). And finally knowing how much room to leave between the wheels and the ground so the car doesn't get stuck in the track. The dads for the most part take their jobs seriously. While moms will stand aside at the pot luck and pretend they don't care if no one eats their green bean casserole, dads pay attention. They stand at the end of the track and take notes and confer with the other dads. The derby dads have to be ready to problem solve on a moment's notice. This is another category that's usually dominated by moms. Who's got a kleenex, extra bottled water, a sweatshirt, or clean undies? The moms right? At the derby the dads stand ready, usually armed with pocket knives that look like they came from the prop closet of Survivor. I once saw a dad chisel down his son's car when it was over 5oz at weigh in. He whittled it symmetrically too, it wasn't just a last minute hack. Another dad used his pocket knife to dig out a weight to bring his son's car under the weight limit and a third dad tried but alas failed to hollow out the bottom of his son's car so it would stop catching on the track. There was crying. Like monsters on the edges of ancient maps - the sign above the church basement where the derby is to be held should read, "here there be crying." I think the reason the Pinewood Derby is held in the basement of a church is so as to give the dads a more direct route with their prayers (Please God don't let my kid come in last), and also to remind people that there are worse things than having your kid be the one whose axel comes off his car midway down the track. Worse things. Like crucifixion.
If your four boys don't kill you with constant quarreling, they will numb your brain with a stream of questions that would confound Confucius.
Here are a few that I managed to write down since the A to Z challenge began: How high can birds fly? How many kids are there in the world? How many rocks are there in the world? How many trees are there in the world? Can the library take a book out of the library? Can a person have no cousins? Does xylophone start with y? Is a vine a tree? What would happen if your penis got chopped off? What if you got married and at the church where you married you had a favorite stuffy and there was a bench up front, could you put your stuffy on the bench? When someone dies do they really get Xs over their eyes? How many minutes have I been alive? Is it nighttime yet? Is three a famous number? What kind of animals was God? Who's gooder, God or Santa Claus? What would happen if you threw a box of matches into the fireplace? Can a king not have a baby? How many years will I be when I'm 57? What if some kid brought in one million dollars to school on banking day?
You may think that once your kids are potty trained you won't have to worry about poop anymore but I'm here to regretfully tell you that this isn't the case.
Go ahead, google "my six year old poops in his pants," about a million hits come up.
The majority of six year old who poop in their pants are boys so with four boys, odds are you'll get one pant's pooper.
And here's the infuriating thing about it.
It doesn't bother them!
You'd think it would but it doesn't.
Touch the apple sauce to the chicken pot pie on their dinner plate and they freak out - but sit around at extended day in poopy underwear and not only will they not think it's a big deal, they'll question why you're insisting they take a shower that night.
Oh - and - unless you have a trust fund earmarked for the replacement of poopy underwear - poop is easier to peal off underpants when it's dried out.
If you are lucky your four sons will spend copious amounts of time outdoors in all sorts of weather, in all sorts of seasons, and even in the dark if they are so included and you remembered to stock their Christmas stockings with flashlights.
What will they do out there?
They will spend 95% of the time chasing each other around with sticks.
I once found a handmade sign in our yard that read, "sticks rule." Couldn't argue with that.
The other 5% of the time they'll spend strewing about the yard all the outdoor toys that they don't actually play with. If they can reach a hose and turn it on they'll make mud pies which they'll stir up with their sticks.
If they're old enough to have pocket knives they'll whittle their sticks into points in order to up the chances of putting someone's eye out.
Outdoors is a great place for your kids to be because when they scream they'll just annoy the neighbors and not you.
They might even wander into the neighbor's yard and then, like illegal aliens crossing the boarder, they'll be able to stay and live at their house instead of yours.
There's noise, and there's noise.
And then there's having four boys.
When you have four sons you will read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" in December and you will empathize with the Grinch.
After all, all the guy wanted was a little peace and quiet.
Who can't relate?
Don't get me wrong, I love Legos. They're so open ended. Except when they're not. Which is all the time because your kid (like mine) doesn't want a bucket of generic Lego bricks (notice there are only two of those options on the Lego website, it's like the Kentucky Fried Chicken of Legos, there's the bucket. And the big bucket). No, you're kids wants the Battle of the Five Armies from the Lego Lord of the Rings collection. He wants it because a) it's cool and b) because it's $59.99 and he's savvy enough to know that you won't shell out $399.99 for the Lego Death Star from the Lego Star Wars collection. But don't think you're done after Battle of the Five Armies. There are many more sets in the LOTR Lego collection and you have to buy a multitude of them in order to get all the characters in the fellowship. You didn't think Lego would be stupid enough to put all eight of the main characters in one set did you? Just like Peter Jackson isn't stupid enough to shoot his whole Hobbit wad in just one movie. Then there's Gandalf the Gray and Gandalf the white. You'll need to have both. And the Lady of the Lake, don't forget your token female Tolkien character. You'll know you've reached the bottom of the parenting barrel when you find yourself sifting through the dusty contents of your vacuum clean bag looking for Gimli's sword. All of these Lego sets are different and must be kept separate from each other if you want your son or daughter to be able to make the tower of Orthanc or Hagrid's hut more than once. Kinda makes gluing the darn things together, like the villain in the Lego movie wanted to do, look pretty appealing. This means you'll need a special Lego room built on to your house to store your Lego collection when once families just needed a big plastic bin and one of those special tables with the green nubby tops. Designated Lego rooms will probably be the next big thing in home design, forget appliance-laden kitchens, swank laundry rooms and bathrooms larger than the three-bedroom ranch I grew up in. Despite the differences in the individual kits one universal truth remains: they all hurt like hell when you step on them in bare feet at midnight on your way to the bathroom.
Read my A-to-Z posts to see if you have what it takes to be the parent of four boys.
Children advance through different stages. There's the stage where they discover their fists and wave them about in the air like midget dictators. There's scooting, crawling, walking, penis obsession, and finally there's joke telling. Some experts like the joke telling stage because they say it's proof positive that your child's developing their sense of humor - a sophisticated development. The people who say this, don't have any children and haven't been hounded by their joke-telling offspring telling bad jokes for months on end. It would be okay if the joke telling stage came after the learning to read stage but it doesn't. What that means is that kids can't read their own jokes, they need you to read them out loud - or worse - they make up their own jokes. And let's face it, kids don't make up clever, endearing jokes. They make up bad ones. For example my son once told this joke: Why did the chicken cross the road? Because a man was chasing him with a gun. That's perfect really. Why would a chicken cross the road - unless he was being chased by a homicidal maniac? After the make-up-your-own joke phase, comes the knock, knock joke phase; another joke phase where children don't seem to realize that a joke is meant to be funny. Then they start school and guess what? Their classmates will teach them jokes that will actually be funny. There's only one problem. It would seem that your son or daughter is in school with the exact same kids you went to elementary school with 30 years ago. How else to explain the proliferation of ancient jokes? We all know what time it is when an elephant sits on your fence. But for God's sake - laugh anyway. Read my A-to-Z posts to see if you have what it takes to be the parent of four boys. Find out more about the A-to-Z Challenge here.
If I believed in a higher being I might suspect that he (or she) blessed me with four sons because of my high tolerance for creatures with six-to-eight legs.
I wouldn't say I love bugs, but I don't hate them either. I once spent an hour on the floor of my dorm room trying to find a spider my roommate was "pretty sure," she'd seen because she didn't think she could go to bed knowing that it "might" be in our room.
Yes, the reason I have four sons today is because I once wielded the office "bug mug" and successfully relocated many misguided spiders rather than squashing them.
Children are heavy, especially when you have twins and you have to schlepp them around in those infant car seats because you can't fit your double stroller through the doorway of your local coffee shop. I remember discovering this dismal fact on one of my first outings with the twins and then having to stand outside the coffee shop pathetically peering through the windows until the barista saw me salivating out there and came outside and took my order. Which she finally did. Which is why you should always support your local coffee shop.
But I digress.
People used to comment about how I was getting such a great work out in by carrying the kids around in their car seats and about what a great upper body workout it must be was but that was all bunk, seven years later I can't see that it's done me much good. I even tried putting of the twins in the baby Bjorn front pack and the other in the LL Bean backpack and wearing them both - what a freak show that was.
Even in the double stroller they were heavy. Mostly because their two older brothers would try to get away with sitting on the front until I'd notice and shoo them off.
It's odd because they were so light when they were born at 5lbs each. "Like loaves of bread," my husband commented when we were still in the hospital with them thus forever cementing the old outdated "bun in the oven" adage in reference to pregnant women.
It doesn't matter if you raise your sons on a commune without electricity, 50 miles from the closest village, co-sleep and breast feed them until they are five.
One day your oldest will pick up a slice of seven-grain bread, take a bite out of the bottom right corner, and then tell you that the remaining shape is a gun. Gun? You don't even know where they learned the word.
Then they will proceed to pretend to shoot all their siblings who will all be busy fashioning their own bread artillery.
I hate the notion that boys will be boys, so I'm not going to say that being fascinated with guns is part of boy DNA - deal with it. I was horrified that my sons were interested in guns.
But horrified didn't get me anywhere. So I took a long look at what horrified me. I was okay when they wanted wooden swords and shields. I bought bows and arrows and tacked bulls eyes to bails of hay. We went to the Higgins Armory Museum. Twice. There are actual museums devoted to armory. Who knew? Mothers of sons know.
When my 10 year old was in his Moby Dick phase I let them whittle spears with his pocket knife and then pretend to hunt whales in the front yard - un-politically correct as it was.
It's only guns that I have a problem with. And not all guns. I bought muskets in Lexington after we watched the Revolutionary War reenactment. I'm even okay with guns that shoot rubber bands. And guns made of bread. And guns made of Legos. And sticks that look like guns.
It's hand guns. Toy guns that look like hand guns, even though they are made of bright green or orange plastic, those are the guns I don't want around.
I guess moms will be moms. Deal with it.
If you have four sons, there will be fighting.
Some days you will attempt to teach the fine art of compromise in order to aid them in resolving their conflict peacefully but other times you won't have the energy to mediate and will instead opt to let them "fight it out." Builds character right?
You're likelihood of choosing the fight it out method will be in direct proportion to the nearness of your neighbor's house and whether or not you suspect the neighbors can hear your kids screaming.
Proximity to other people will also dictate your reaction to the five second rule which also, you'll notice, starts with the letter F.
The five second rule is a completely made up arbitrator to help a parent decide whether or not food that's fallen on the floor is still acceptable for their offspring to eat (note that food, fallen and floor all start with the letter F).
Let's be honest folks, the five second rule is a crock of sh*t. Food that falls on the floor is dirty. Period. But it's not this knowledge that dictates whether or not you let your kids eat said fallen food, rather it's the reality of whether or not you're within ear shot of your neighbors or, more importantly, other parents.
If another adult's within ear shot it's more likely you'll announce loudly, "Oh, that fell on the floor? Well you'd better not eat it. The floor's dirty and we know all about germs, right kids?"
On the other hand, if no one's looking, your kid's in the clear.
Heck, I'd eat an entire meal off the ground if it meant I didn't have to cook something myself.
Have four sons and you'll have a built in excuse for everything and anything.
Christmas decorations still up in April?
E-mail confirmations and responses not sent out for days?
Forgot to bring an entree to the pot luck?
Not wearing pants?
As a mother of four boys, people barely expect you to make it out of your house alive never mind actually accomplish anything.
My house was messy before I had kids - but now no one actually expects me to clean it.
People sympathize with me like I've never been sympathized with before.
"I just don't know how you do it," they say, right after you say that, frankly, you didn't get around to doing it.
This might be true for moms of girls as well but four kids means I have a large car - a mini van if you must know - and driving it around can be a challenge. I haven't successfully parallel parked in seven years.
Perhaps you think it's the elderly drivers that we need to watch out for - or those inexperienced newbie teenage drivers. It's neither. I'm here to tell you that it's the crazed mom behind the wheel of the mini-van that you need to look out for. When you see a mini van on the road you should steer clear of it if you value your life. You have no idea what's going on in there. Crying babies, arguing preschoolers, yogurts being spilled, CDs being fought over, library books being pitched into the "way back," and multiple requests to play "I spy," are all being juggled by some sleep-deprived parent who most likely can't remember where they are going.
If you are the mother of four boys you will never have enough of either. When my kids were younger, and wearing band aids as fashion accessories, my million dollar idea was to team up with Johnson & Johnson to publish the "Boo Boo Book." A board book full of illustrations of stylized children and adults in their skivvies that came with an envelope of band aids that kids could apply to their fictional patients (or to themselves) which could easily be removed from the glossy board book pages. Maybe there'd be some coupons for more band aids in the back. Are you listening Johnson & Johnson? Message me. Find out more about the A-to-Z Challenge here.
Every year around April 5 I realize I've forgotten to sign up for the A-to-Z Challenge. "That's okay," I say to myself, "I'll just start now and write 26 posts for next April." That never happens and 365 days later I find myself in the same predicament, one year older but no wiser or proactive. Not this year. A is for Astonished. As in I'm astonished that I remembered, and even more so that I followed through. You don't need a theme to participate in the A-to-Z Challenge but I think that my theme for the month, as it's been for the last 7 years is "parenting your four sons." A is for Astonished. As in people are often astonished to find out that I have four sons, like it's an unsightly goiter or birth defect, "OMG, you have four sons?! I don't know how you do it!" Well dear reader, the month of April is your chance to find out how I do it and to judge whether or not you too have what it takes to be the mother of four boys. A is for April Fools' Day. I was just kidding about the Astonished thing. April Fools' Day just might be my favorite holiday. Not because I'm wicked into practical jokes, they weren't on my radar until after my kids were born and my oldest was introduced to the idea in preschool, woke my husband up in the middle of the night and urged him to tamper with the sink faucet so I'd be sprayed with water in the morning. What I love about April Fools' Day is that it's a completely straightforward holiday. The Easter Bunny doesn't play April Fools' Day jokes, neither does Santa or the leprechauns. Green milk in your cereal? Mommy. Tooth paste in your Oreos? Mommy. Jello in all your lunch containers? Mommy. Pants sewed together? You get the picture. There's no backstory. No ruse to keep up. Nothing much to buy. It's just a day to have fun and goof on each other. This morning two of my sons drew a moustache on their brother who was still asleep and tried to lure me to sit down in a chair that had shaving cream on it. I can't wait until next year. A is for April Fools' Day. Find out more about the A-to-Z Challenge here.