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Archive for January, 2015

I am the lone female in a house of four males. I decided that one of the snakes was a girl, just to try and even things out a bit. I really don’t know if it is or not, especially since I would need to take it to a herpetologist to check, but I thought it was fair. Not that “she’s” any help, especially in a Nerf gun war. Then, Oldest Child kept a snake that we rescued and Youngest Child bought a leopard gecko, both males (so they say), so now the odds are really bad. Friends of mine who have girls are always saying that I’m lucky, that girls are more work, and in some ways, they’re probably right, but having the only estrogen in a house full of testosterone does require a bit of teeth gritting at times.

Let me just say that I love my boys unconditionally, madly, and truly. I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything in this world or the next and I am so proud of the young men they are becoming. That being said, while growing up, I always pictured having kids, but somehow I always pictured my children as girls (Well, maybe one was a boy.), especially since I was the only girl in my family and had longed for a sister. That hasn’t happened, and now that we’re done having children, it isn’t going to happen. Having three boys took some getting used to at first, but I love (almost) every minute of it..

Boys, especially for a first-time mom, require some instructions. If you have a new, blue, bundle of joy or are expecting one soon, here are some things that you can expect:

1. Really fast diaper changes: There’s something about cold air that make baby boys decide to spray, and spray they do. They can really get some distance, too. Keep that in mind when you change that newborn diaper. You’ll learn fast.

2. Boys are active. All kids can be active, no doubt, but boys seem to have boundless energy. They’ll fool you. They’ll come to you after a round of light saber attacks, breathing heavily and wanting a snuggle, but it’s short-lived. In no time at all, they’re up and around, knocking the daylights out of each other or jumping all over one another like a bunch of puppies. Of course, there are girls who are also extremely active, a friend of mine has a daughter who is constantly moving, but I know that compared to what I was like as a child. the physical activity level of boys is tiring.

3. You will probably, at some point, wind up in a sports league. I always kind of hoped that one of them would really want to take ballet or something that I could relate to once they got into activities, but I had to wait until they all started band in the 5th grade. Until then, it was baseball. Then, cross country. I’m not a very good sports mom. Actually, I’m not a good sports mom at all. Some moms are gung-ho right from the start. They know all the team stats, have the snack schedule memorized, and could tell you the batting order from the month before, as well as the rules to whatever league level your son is in. I’m lucky if I know the other kids’ names. I’m pretty introverted, so small talk at games with other parents is absolute torture, although it would probably be the same at a dance class. I tried talking Youngest Child into Irish dancing a while back, but he was having none of it. Now they all have some involvement in theatre, which is very cool. And watchable. In the meantime, buy yourself a mitt and go play outside with them. You won’t regret it.

4. Get used to thinking/saying, “What the hell is that?” You will say this as you scrutinize what might be a black fuzzy on the bathroom floor or something else. You will say this as you take clothes out of the washer and dryer. You will say this when you clean the petrified banana out from under the bed. You will say this as you look at something that has been wiped across the shower wall. You will say this so many times while your boys are growing up that you will lose all fear at finding out what it is, but not your disgust at what you find. (Chances are, it’s not a fuzzy. Or a raisin.) Invest in Clorox wipes.

5. There will be weapons. Yes, there will. Even if you don’t purchase weapon toys, anything can be turned into a weapon and it will be. Paper towel tubes, fingers, crayons, chalk, basically anything that resembles the desired weapon of mass destruction will be imagined into one. I don’t allow first-person shoot-to-kill video games in my house, but we are fully stocked with Nerf guns. My hoodie pockets are stuffed with Nerf darts for self defense. There’s something very basic about the need to play-fight and as long as it doesn’t go overboard, I say go with it. At least until it drives you crazy enough to grumpily yell, “Enough! I just want to relax!” up the stairs, as I did last night.

6. There will be hair in the sink. And lots of toothpaste splatters. Again, invest in Clorox wipes. Enough said.

7. They will have noisy friends. You may have a quiet son or even two, but the day will come when they bring that kid home, the one who runs through your house with his shoes one, hollering and yelling like he’s outside, wanting to watch shows or movies that you don’t allow and begging to spend the night. Chances are, your son will be enamored of him, at least for a while. Until, you must be a nice, but firm, mommy and deal with him. After a couple of visits, you can conveniently schedule outings for you and our darling when the small terror wants to come over and hope that the novelty wears off. It sounds harsh, but your nerves can really take a frazzling and you will breathe a sigh of relief when he brings home a really nice kid to play with.

8. They will want to go to Chuck E. Cheese, or someplace similar, for many birthday parties. If you are not aware, these pizza places/indoor amusement parks are actually, I believe, part of Dante’s vision of Hell. Screaming children running about untethered, clanging, buzzing, and ringing machines blaring at full volumes, inattentive parents sitting with pitchers of beer and pathetic pizza at neon-colored tables, and creepy, demonic-looking animatronic characters dancing an singing at full volume. It’s wonderful for small boys who are not afraid of the creepy animatronic characters. They have an absolute blast. Curling up in a ball and rocking on the couch is an option for at least two hours when you arrive home. With a glass of wine.

9. Bodily functions will be a hilarious common topic. I hate talking about less-than-pleasant bodily functions and my boys are usually pretty good about leaving me out of it, but occasionally the dinner table is interrupted by “accidental” noise, followed by smothered giggles that quickly erupt into all out laughter, including Mr. Marty Man. I don’t get it. I never have, I never will. If that’s your thing, enjoy. If not, get ready for the ride.

10. Little boy snuggles are so awesome. Boys love their mamas. There’s just something so special about that relationship. Words can’t describe it. When they still want to be tucked into bed at eleven years old or fight over who gets to sit next to you as teenagers, your heart will just melt into a puddle. There’s no better feeling in the world.

11. Boys have a tender side. Stuffed animals, blankies, even baby dolls can also have a special place in a boy’s heart, right next to the noisy army helicopter and Boba Fett mask. It’s adorable and I don’t care what anyone thinks. They’ll give it up if and when they want to. I encouraged it as long as I could, never teased them for it, and never let anyone else say a word about it. Boys need to know that having loving feelings is perfectly fine.

12. You will love your boy(s) with a fierceness that you didn’t know you had, and with every fiber of your being. When my first baby came home, I loved him so much that I could barely breathe. When he was three, he very enthusiastically went to introduce himself to some older kids, maybe six or seven years old, at the playground. “Hi!” he said. My name is…. What’s your name?” They just looked at him, mumbled something, and ran away. For the first time in my adult life, I wanted to slap a kid. (A six-year-old. I know.) How dare they say that to my sweet little guy??? Didn’t they know how amazing he was? Where were their parents? Swallowing my righteous anger, I tried to hug his disappointment away and attempted to forget my Sicilian roots. After all, shielding him from any pain would not have taught him how to deal with it in a good way. I used it as a teaching moment, but I remember the instant that Mama Bear instinct kicked in, as it has for my two other boys as well. You will realize, in an instant, that you would die for your boys without hesitation. It’s a beautiful thing.

There is, of course, much more to life with boys, but I have to leave you some surprises. There are many who will argue that girls are the same way, that I shouldn’t try to highlight differences between girls and boys. I have to disagree. As the oldest sister, oldest cousin, babysitter to dozens of children for eleven years before I had my own, and as a teacher, there are some key differences, especially the diaper changing part of it. Not every little boy is a Jedi and not every little girl is a princess, but those differences should be celebrated and enjoyed, for the most part. Living in an all-male household has been a good experience, although I do need a good aunt/niece day out now and then. I keep telling them that one of them owes me at least one granddaughter someday, someone for whom I can buy sparkly things and give makeovers to. In the meantime, I will enjoy my boys, my young men who will change the world someday. Now if I could just get them to stop leaving a trail of socks through the house and to clean their hair out of the sink…

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I read other blogs. Lots of them. Some I follow, some I read only once, for the sake of time or otherwise. I don’t have a job that allows me the luxury of surfing the net during work hours and sometimes I barely get to check my email or Facebook. Not on vacation, however. I’ve spent lots of time in the last week doing just that. My Words With Friends and Scrabble games are all caught up and I even started playing Trivia Crack against my husband and kids. (Why so many sports questions???)

Since I have had a bit more free time, I’ve also been able to explore some new blogs. One that I really enjoyed was from a labor and delivery nurse who humorously “exposed” lies that L&D nurses tell their patients. Not malicious lies, but explanations for some of the things that they do. For example, the reason that they wear face masks isn’t because they’re protecting patients from germs, it’s because after many hours of labor, a patient’s breath isn’t exactly sweet. Or the direction to press the call light if you need anything doesn’t mean anything, like getting a patient a drink of water, especially when she has visitors in the room who could do it for her, it means medical things. There were many others, some are gross that I won’t mention here, but any woman who has been through the labor process would be familiar with them. In short, it was hilarious, even on the patient end of it. I can compare it to the articles in Reader’s Digest, “What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You”, or “What Your Hair Stylist Won’t Tell You”, crazy or insensitive things that we, as consumers, do or expect from professionals.

There were, as expected, lots of comments. I was a bit jealous. What amazed me, though, was not the amount of comments, but that some people were highly offended by the article! They accused the author, who seems like a very caring kind of nurse, of being insensitive, of being mean-spirited. They told her that she should find another job, that she didn’t deserve to work with mothers and babies. My response? (In my head, because there are some creepy people out there and I don’t want to draw their fire.) GET A FREAKING GRIP!

Those that have worked with the public in any capacity know what I’m talking about. There are days when everything is fine, people are happy, and complaints are minimal. Then, there are the days when everything goes wrong. Prima donna customers who think that their needs are more important than anyone else. Customers who, even after bringing them five cups of coffee, insist that it still isn’t fresh and then don’t leave a tip. Parents who insist that their child does his homework on his own, even when it’s in the parent’s handwriting or who blame anything and everything else for their child failing/fighting/being a general pain in the butt. Potential brides who go to try on dresses in ripped up, nasty, underwear or who don’t shower. (Shudder. It happens. My mom used to work in a bridal boutique.) The point is, working with the public in any capacity brings its share of headache and hassle, even if the job is mostly a joy. Venting is normal, a healthy way to get things off of one’s chest in order to continue being professional and courteous, giving the best possible service.

When I worked for Greenfield Village, there was a building where several of us worked on a rotating basis. We kept a journal of what went on during the day; number of visitors, the weather, who had been working at the farm, general observations. Over the years, it also turned into a place to vent our frustrations with visitors who came and were less than courteous, crazy school groups, or just general nuttiness that sometimes happened, like couple discovered “getting it on” upstairs when they thought no one was around. There were also great stories in there about extremely cool visitors who were genuinely interested and wanted to learn more about the place or how things worked. It was a mixture of things and always entertaining reading. There was no foul language used or anything like that, just honest revelations about the day. I would say the 95% of the people working there loved their jobs, so this was by no means a “poor me” kind of a book. Reading the journal was one of the few things we looked forward to in that building, as it was not a high-priority building and didn’t get a lot of traffic. I used to get a lot of sewing done in there.

One day, when the on-duty presenter was at lunch, a visitor went beyond the barrier, a huge no-no, and read our book. Our book. The one hidden in a box, out of view. The one that we looked forward to reading. They raised a big stink and management took our book away. Sigh. This was unfair on so many levels. I could understand our book being taken if it had been lying out in the open for people to see, but no, this was something hidden away, supposedly off-limits to the public and for our private viewing. Not okay. And really, when you think of it, have you always left a good impression everywhere you go? I would venture to guess that every single person in this world has not always been a shining example of humanity in every place they’ve ever been. I know I haven’t. Even though I am someone who tries to treat everyone with kindness and respect all the time, I’ve gotten cranky over seemingly stupid rules or policies. Just the other day, I was rather irritated to find out that one now needs an appointment for passport paperwork at smaller post offices, after I had been waiting in line for ten minutes. I thought I would save time by going to the smaller one, but ended up spending an hour and ten minutes in the larger post office, in addition to the time I wasted in the small one. I’m positive that I gave the girl a cranky look, even though it wasn’t her fault, and my “Thank you”, with an accompanying sigh was not the best interaction she had all day. In her head, she was probably thinking that I was an idiot for not knowing the rules.  I wouldn’t be surprised, or upset, mind you, to find out that post office clerks keep a journal about their customers as well.

I guess my point is that people need to vent: Teachers, waiters and waitresses, flight attendants, doctors, nurses, lawyers, police officers, judges, baristas, pastors, everyone. It’s human nature, it’s natural. This nurse that set my whole thinking pattern off wasn’t being evil or mean in any way, she was just telling it like it is. (What exactly do you say when the baby’s name is a horrible choice? Is there any proper etiquette for that? I thought her approach was fabulous.) If you choose to read something like that, especially if it pertains to you, don’t get offended. Take it with a grain of salt and know that everyone is trying to get along the best that they can.

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