Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Over at the Register

It's been a while, but here's a humor piece I did because sometimes, the world just needs a little lightness, a dessert if you will, in the midst of a desert of unpleasantness.   It's why I started writing humor in the first place. 

I hope you enjoy it. 

The Evil Parenting League of Evil Taking Applicants.

In other news, I tried my hand at Editorial Cartoons this week, and one was accepted. The other, at a different market, is still pending. 

If you're wondering, where in heck is Small Success Thursday, the answer is, I've taken a break for the time being, as there's just too much going on in our house to do it justice on a regular weekly basis.  (I've got five kids in a play after Thanksgiving).    It doesn't mean I'm not counting my blessings, just I'm not writing up a set up every week. 

I am still writing. I'm still reading. I'm still editing. I'm still working at a school, and yes, still trying to manage all these people's lives.  I'm just trying to streamline what I do and when I do it, so that I'm not quite as overwhelmed.   Trying to squeeze in some exercising, reading, practicing music, writing letters, and the ordinary stuff like making dinners, reading to my kids, cheering at their sports/activities, and getting an occasional night out.   

--Love to you all, thanks for stopping by. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

What I Have Spent Decades Learning...

Parenting is epic, Sisyphean in nature until they no longer require your assistance. Until then, you're stuck trying to impose order on a people who embody chaos theory. Somehow I've managed to get four people to voting age, and still, there is more to know and less proof anyone knows what they are doing.

In twenty years, whatever advice you received when they were kids, is now reversed. When my oldest were in elementary school, homework reinforced the lesson. Homework remained a vital component of the learning process. Homework was so important, experts considered whether there should always be homework. In recent years, homework fell out of favor and became almost the mental equivalent of spanking. Along the same time, screens were bad. Screens were distracting, caused brain rot, anti-social behavior, bad grades, poor SAT scores and who knows what else. I kept the first, second and third away from screens. It made every surrender to the television feel like a maternal failure. For a while, I still assigned my own children homework, because I knew...if nothing else, it keeps them away from the screens.

I felt virtuous every time they didn't turn on the television, even if it wasn't my will but theirs and I still believed, screens were bad until they were inescapable.  There were more screens to fight off, and more hands who knew how to work the remote than me...there were people in my home who worked the machines without my help, there were machines in my home I needed their help to work.  I wanted the machines to work...I'd become assimilated, the zombie-borg apocalypse of my children had begun because I'd failed to keep throwing books in front of their faces.  They survived me and homework is making a return to the school curriculum and now, it always involves screens.


When the older ones were children, I tried the rainbow approach to food all those magazines advertise as being super effective in motivating kids to eat their veggies. To this day, they eat a range of vegetables that can be counted on one hand, with a color spectrum of two. I've learned, they eat what they eat.

Bed times should be graduated, the experts say. If you tuck them in with a routine, they'll acquiesce. In two decades of routine, I've yet to cease playing whack-a-mole at bedtime. So I've learned, they sleep when they sleep.

Chores should be done, the experts say. They should be assigned, enforced and expected. I can assign all day. However enforcement requires something between bribes and extortion. "I've got a fist full of Hershey bars for the kids who clean their room and for the ones who say they don't like or want the chocolate, I've got a cell phone and an instagram account set up. Clean your room or I'm posting."  What do you know?  Screens are helpful. 

Bottom line? I've learned, the experts have their experience, and I have mine. I'm going to run with mine because I have to live with mine. So I turn off all the lights in the house and make it like a tomb at nine o'clock. It chases all the teens to their rooms. I tell anyone who boasts they have no homework, it's their turn to do the dishes, getting those chores fitted into the day in an organic manner. I let anyone who reads stay up later with the lights on, and the youngest four love it more than screens. Food is what I'm serving. You can have cold cereal if you want, just clear the table and don't make a scene about it.

There are things no one can prepare you for, motherhood is one of them. Even the extensive internship as a child, no matter how difficult an offspring you were, remains insufficient to the actual task of raising a human being, much less multiple ones. There's something to that lack of experience combined with an invincible will that erodes mine.

Over the years, I've learned; the goal isn't to win, it's to win over.  
At the end of the day, if they to go to bed with the "Goodnight Mom." on their hearts, it is enough.

Friday, November 9, 2018

For Posterity

Having written this blog fitfully but faithfully since 2007, I can safely say, much of the chaos of childhood for many of my children, has been recorded here for posterity.  They will know the reality of their growing up, even if they do not remember it as such. 

One thing blogging does for a person, is give a sense of perspective. I can look back and determine, "Haven't we done this before," and trust to my own testimony over my own memory. 

So when my youngest lamented over the apparent uselessness of math, I could show her, a long line of brothers and sisters who complained before her, survived second grade and went on to handle even more complex mathematical equations.  She took the news harder than one might have hoped, seeing the past performance of her siblings as proof her complaints would be noted, logged and ignored.  (She's not wrong). Math would indeed, go on being assigned despite her displeasure. 

"Some day." she warned, "I'm going to write  a blog, and prove to the world that no one needs math." 

The problem with having nine older siblings is, at least one of them at any given point in time, longs to prove you wrong, and has the psuedo data to do it. Sure enough, three siblings immediately launched into a vigorous defense of all things math, sternly warning her of the need to become proficient in basic facts.  They touted their own experience, all the times they did well on tests, and as an added gesture of sibling kindness, offered to tutor her for the next test. 

I've helped enough of these kiddos with math enough to know, if someone else wanted the job, I'd be just fine.   What the helpful brothers and sisters don't realize is, she doesn't want the info necessarily. I know she can do all this math with her eyes shut.  She wants to be the author of a revolution, to eradicate the field of study.  Her older brothers and sisters are far too invested in the status quo to mollify her temper in this matter.   They enjoy the satisfaction of telling her, there is no third option.

They have not reckoned with Anna-Maria's fierce spirit. 

My money's on the revolutionary.   

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!