I Am Not My Children’s Father

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I am a single parent and the sole caretaker for my four children. But I am not their father.

There are some who would wish me, or other single mothers, Happy Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June. I want to be clear, I do not take that adversely, in fact, I take it as a compliment. But I am not my children’s father.

I am a mother. I am the lone parent. I am the only name on the Emergency Contact line. I alone put to bed, provide, comfort and guide my children. But I am not their father.

But my children are not fatherless.

For over three years I prayed everyday that God would be a father to my children. And He has.

gpopFor over three years my father, my children’s grandfather, has been in my daughters’ lives every single day. He has never stopped being a parent to me and through him, my children see what a father should be.

This post was originally published on June 16, 2014. (Still true, though…) 

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LIFE: Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

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It’s always a little exciting when someone you know writes a book AND gets it published. A longtime friend of mine, Steve Lange, is that person. I was given the amazing privilege of getting to read his novel, Breathing Room, even before it was released. Ultimately, when the Breathing Room Three-Part E-book Series was released on Amazon Kindle last year, all three became #1 bestsellers!

Breathing Room follows Jack and Patricia Christopher and their six sons over the course of two decades. It is the tale of a family searching for a haven that will provide relief from the seemingly unending struggles that oppress them. Intermixed with the tragedies, their story is woven together with moments of humor and tenderness. This novel is loosely based on the author’s own experiences growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

By the second chapter I was hooked and found myself in a perpetual state of wondering what would happen next. This book is real and raw and the experience of reading it leaves you feeling sympathetic toward each and every character. Whereas most stories tend to have a clear distinction between those who are “good” and those who are “evil,” Breathing Room portrays a family of flawed, yet utterly human individuals that the reader easily identifies with. I came to care for the Christopher family as I joined them in their quest for a place to breathe, an end to the tragedies that seemed to wash over them with the predictability of the ocean tides.

There are certain books that, as you read them, you can envision the film version. Breathing Room is one of those books, not an action packed blockbuster, but a slow moving, family drama that draws you in and leaves you with a sense of loss when it is over.

At times while I was reading Breathing Room I gasped as I remembered my own eleven year ordeal searching for a place to breathe, waiting for the feeling of imminent disaster to pass. I recall experiencing something akin to a feeling of relief when disaster did occur because the stress of wondering when it would come was finally over. For anyone who has experienced that longing for a place of shelter from the storms raging around them, or who has ever hoped for something more than limping cautiously through every day, Breathing Room is for you.

Breathing Room reminds us even in our darkest moments, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that  Hope is not dead.

Hope is never dead.

Breathing Room is releasing today (June 20, 2015) in print. I hope you will take a moment to explore whether Breathing Room is a book you might enjoy. Here are all the Breathing Room links you will ever need.

Links to Breathing Room the Book/Ebook

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Email: Stevenlangebooks@gmail.com

Mailing Address: PO Box 3254 Harvey Cedars NJ, 08008

I was in no way, shape or form compensated for this review. All opinions are most assuredly my own. 🙂

This post was originally posted in April 2014. I have updated it with the news of the release of the print book.

Call Me Homeless

I spent part of my Friday night with the homeless.

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Don’t get me wrong, the purpose of this post is not to toot my own horn, but rather, to toot the horn of the men and women I met on this cold and snowy night who just happen to not know where they will be sleeping in a few hours.

Let me back up; when there have been several severely cold (read: below freezing) nights in a row, a local ministry I volunteer with fills a van with a large thermal dispenser of hot chocolate, packets of peanut butter crackers and some bins of hats, gloves, scarves and blankets and drives to the transportation center downtown.

There were three of us tonight who bundled ourselves up and stepped out of the van into the swirling whiteness of an unforeseen snow storm. While we unloaded the van men and women already covered in a dusting of snow gathered and asked us for gloves, or hats or blankets. Two of us took the hot chocolate a little ways away and offered steaming cups and crackers and conversation to passersby.

The first time someone thought I was homeless, they saw me walking toward the van and got my attention to inform me that there was free hot chocolate behind me. The second time was when I asked our van volunteer for another bulk pack of crackers by saying, “Do you have anymore crackers?” and a man standing in line for some gloves overheard me and immediately reached into his pocket and handed me his very own packet of crackers that he had received with his hot chocolate.

I was stunned into silence.

I am still stunned into silence.

The third time I was mistaken for homeless (sad to say this is not the first time in my life this has happened, surely it won’t be the last) a man standing in line by the van started advocating to the other volunteer on my behalf because he was certain my coat wasn’t warm enough. He insisted I ask for a coat and warm weather clothes and stand in line before him.

Stranger caring for stranger. Friend caring for friend. I’ve heard of the compassion and generosity of the destitute and downtrodden; the gentleness of the hearts of those laying down this very night wrapped in sheets of plastic and newspaper, and covering their tired feet with four pairs of socks that they got from a red van and some random people handing out hot chocolate on a snowy winter’s night.

Call me homeless. I’ll take it as a compliment.

For more follow me on Bloglovin and find more thoughts on this topic here and here.

The Red Journal

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Since 1999 my older brother has kept a Christmas journal that contains reflections on Christmas written by members of the family. Each Christmas one family member writes in the journal and then does a reading at the annual party.

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I recognize each person’s handwriting. What a special tradition.

2014 was my year. 


I wrap my children’s Christmas gifts early and put them out a couple weeks before Christmas day. If the gifts are out, you may wonder, how do I keep my children from squeezing and shaking and peeking at their packages in the days and weeks before Christmas? Wouldn’t the temptation to take a peak be just a little too strong? And what about the beautiful packaging – doesn’t it get bent and torn and worn away?

Yes and yes.

In fact, in our house there is a lot of movement of the gifts (by the children) – from upstairs in my bedroom, to down under the tree, to back up in the bedroom again. As you can imagine, there are repairs on the paper from holes and rips that, “accidentally” appeared there.photo 1 (3)

None of this bothers me. You see, I know that the majority of the pleasure derived from the gifts is experienced in the anticipation of opening them and seeing what is inside. Once opened, gifts often lose their luster and it doesn’t take long on Christmas day or the days following for the open gifts to be pushed aside and forgotten. Sweet treats from the stocking are found under the couch partially eaten and collecting dust, little makeup boxes lay empty and discarded while the eyeshadow they once contained is caked on my children’s faces or, occasionally, smeared into the sofa. The device they’ve wanted all year is discarded in preference of mom’s iPhone – as usual.

That’s OK too. As much as gifts and even lovely traditions (like this journal) are important and we hope they last for generations to come, gifts and traditions don’t make Christmas – Christmas. And Christmas will certainly not cease to be Christmas if all the gifts and traditions and trappings were taken away. The Whos taught us that.

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling:

Grinch: How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes, or bags!

Narrator: And he puzzled and puzzled, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”

-Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

So, what does Christmas mean?

I think most of us would agree that Christmas is the Celebration of the birth of a Savior. Everyone here tonight knows that. We come together at this time of year to celebrate the BIRTH of a Savior. Emphasis on the word, Birth.

Now, I am not against Jesus’ birthday, Christmas traditions or gift giving; the Bible encourages traditions and even the wise men gave gifts, but if that is where our Christmas celebration ends, our disappointment is guaranteed. We are left with emptiness, much like the feeling we experience after the gifts are finally opened and we wake up on the morning of the 26th to a house full of discarded wrappings and empty boxes. It’s not enough, it’s never enough – all the amazing and beautiful, best gifts in the world or fun Christmas events and parties can never truly satisfy the longing inside of us. In fact, once Christmas is finally all over, we are often left feeling relieved.

Now let me try to say this again, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a SAVIOR, emphasis on the word, Savior. “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

The gifts will never satisfy because our hearts are longing for something much greater and more lasting – our forever home – heaven, Eternity with God Himself. A place and a time where the celebration will not be focused on the Savior’s birth but a place and a time where the celebration is focused simply, on the Savior.

Think of the generations of worshipers from the very first; those of old who looked forward with anticipation for a Savior who would one day come, to Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men, the disciples, the apostles, the early church, the very first believers in nation after nation as the Gospel spread all over the world and even to this present day. Imagine all those who have gone before us, and the true believers who are celebrating Christmas all over the world far and near even this very night. We, every true follower of Christ who has ever lived and is alive today, are invited, not just to celebrate the birth of this precious baby, but, in fact, we are all members of the wedding party in the most glorious wedding supper of all time. Rev. 19:9 “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” 

This same baby, God in human form, who entered this world in a stable and was laid in a manger grew into manhood and was victorious over death and the grave in order to give us the greatest gift ever given, one that can never be damaged or outdated or unsatisfying; the gift of Grace to save us from our sins.

And this gift, He is still offering it today. At this very moment, he is calling out to the lonely. The sick. The brokenhearted, The imprisoned. The depressed. The hungry. The dying. The lost. The deceived. The fearful. The poor. The proud. The haters. The smallest child and The aged. Those near and those far away.

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. Rev. 21:3-7

It’s why we celebrate – it’s what we celebrate – not just the birth of the savior – but what his birth represents – Emmanuel – God with us – our Savior has come.

An Open Letter – The Christmas Shoes Song

An open letter to the writers, producers and every radio station that plays – The Christmas Shoes song.

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I’m not really sure what exactly an “open letter” is, but I feel compelled to write one anyway. They say, “Be the Change you want to see.” Well, I don’t know how that relates to me writing this letter – but I do hope to make my voice heard.

Much has been said about the Christmas (thank the Lord, it’s just Christmas) song, The Christmas Shoes. Articles, Facebook statuses, tweets… But I, too, have something to say:

If every single solitary person in the whole entire world* HATES this song, why play it?

Have you somehow deceived yourselves into believing that it’s a good song? Do you think that people really like it? If so, who would these (insane) people be? Honestly, I’m just going to say it, the song is not good on any level.

Let’s step aside from the lyrics for a moment and simply focus on the music – Compelling? I don’t think so. Catchy? – it’s about as catchy as leprosy (i.e. – not a lot of people get it stuck in their heads, but those who do, would rather be dead. I don’t think I’m stepping over the line or exaggerating here.)

Now let’s take a look at the lyrics for a moment. In all fairness, I will force myself to look up the lyrics and copy some of them here in this letter. I. Do. Not. Want. To. Do. This. Like, gynecological & dental appointments are way, way higher on the list of things I’d rather do right now than allow the lyrics of The Christmas Shoes to invade my eyeballs – but I will take a deep breath and visualize warm beaches with my loved ones/a handsome, single man in his forties around me and I will get through it.

The Christmas Shoes (excerpts)

I wanna buy these shoes

For my mama. please

It’s Christmas eve and these shoes are just her size

Could you hurry sir

Daddy says there’s not much time

You see,

She’s been sick for quite a while And I

know these shoes will make her smile And I

Want her to look beautiful

If mama meets Jesus tonight

I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love as he thanked me and ran out

I knew that God had sent me that little boy to remind me what Christmas is all about

(Deep breath. Happy place, happy place…)

So, the gist of the song seems to be: the little boy wants to buy his mom some shoes for Christmas because she is on her deathbed and he thinks she, or Jesus, are actually going to be concerned about her footwear when she meets Him in heaven. Apparently, the singer of the song believes that footwear in Heaven is really important too, since, according to him that is what Christmas is all about.

I’m kind of at a loss about where to go with this letter. You see, if I have to explain to you why this song is HORRIBLE, then I fear you are incapable of comprehending  the horridness of it. However, I will press on – in all honestly, The Christmas Shoes song has become my own personal Nemesis.

I need you, dear sirs, (I assume you are all men) to understand that this song should be burned to ashes and never be played again. It would also be nice if you would kindly offer psychological counseling to every person who has ever had the misfortune of hearing it.

I’m not asking for much. I do hope you read this open letter. I write it with humor, but in all seriousness, this song is unacceptable. It is upsetting. Ridiculous. UnChristmasy. And really, just bad. It needs to stop.

I would love to hear back from you – specifically the radio stations who choose to play it. As an artist, sure, feel free to write whatever you want, but radio station people, please, PLEASE stop the torture. The destruction of The Christmas Shoes song would totally remind me what Christmas is all about. Let’s make 2014 the last year for The Christmas Shoes; the shoes need to be buried.

Sincerely,

Actually, Honestly and Truly Scarred for Life

PS – Any press is not good press. We write about The Christmas Shoes because it is an atrocity that Must Be Stopped.

***

The Christmas Shoes

Writer(s): Leonard Ahlstrom, Eddie Carswell
Copyright: Sony/ATV Songs LLC, Jerry’S Haven Music, WB Music Corp.

(I put this up for copyright reasons – but if you would like to send them heartfelt notes of why you HATE this song too, please do.)

* (minus the people to whom I am addressing this letter, but maybe you hate it too.)

If you hate this song – please do comment; let’s make our voices heard.

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With Love, Speaking for The People, Rebecca W. Onkar

Thanks for Being Rude…no, really, Thanks.

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On Saturday I had the opportunity to join with friends and strangers to pack and deliver Thanksgiving food items to five families in a very poor city in NJ. I’ve written about it here, Loving with My Eyes Wide Open. This post is not so much a follow up as it is a reflection on one particular aspect of the day’s deliveries.

Nine of us, three adults and six children, piled into a 12 passenger van with our boxes full of frozen turkey and gravy, cans of green beans and boxes of stuffing and miscellaneous other items, and headed to our first address. It was like the weirdest treasure hunt ever.

It seemed best if everyone stayed in the vehicle and I went alone to knock on doors to make sure someone was at home before opening the van and allowing the children out. Sadly, we struck out at Home #1. Not to be deterred, we plugged another address in to the GPS and off we went with high hopes for better results.

After knocking on the door of Home #2 a few times, I heard a man’s voice call through the broken front window, “Who’s out there?!”

“I’m here from Seeds of Hope. I have a turkey and some Thanksgiving food to deliver.” I shouted back.

I heard some shuffling inside and the door was opened to reveal an older woman. When I told her who I was and why I was there, she broke down and said, “Praise Jesus,” and I called in the children.

The six kids happily spilled out of the van like clowns out of a clowncar and grabbed the frozen turkey, roasting pan and the box of goodies from the back. Everyone needed to carry something to the front door, even the four year old. He walked up to the house carrying a bag of mini-marshmallows in the crooks of his elbows like a Wise Man presenting a box of frankincense to Jesus.

How uplifting! What a wonderful experience!

We piled back into the van and rushed back to the home base for another address. This is great!

Home #3, however, was a somewhat different experience. As we pulled up to the row home there was a woman standing on the porch. Maybe she was waiting for us. Maybe she just recognized a large van full of middle class white people driving around town the weekend before Thanksgiving as most likely being Thanksgiving Meal Deliverers. Whatever the reason, I was just happy someone was home and I stepped out of the van to speak with her. I explained who I was and why I was there and she nodded. I called in the kids. Once again they enthusiastically piled out of the van and elbowed each other out of the way to be the first to carry the goods to the lady on the porch.

She never cracked a smile. Her “thank you” was begrudgingly given and her attitude was anything but friendly. Although she didn’t protest about the food, I sort of felt like I was the delivery guy for the supermarket – Hey Lady, here’s your Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks for your order.

This second experience was vastly different than the earlier one. Everyone felt it. We sat silently in the car for a moment after loading back in and seven-year-old Asher finally commented, “She had a lot of beer caps in her yard.” 

As the day went on we were blessed to deliver three more meals and received varying responses to the deliveries, some quietly grateful, others exuberant and heart-wrenching (like the one with the little boy with a medical device inserted in his throat.) But none held a candle to the response of the lady at Home #3. Memorable. Extraordinary. Unforgettable.

In hindsight, as I reflected on the day, I have one thing I’d like to say to the woman in Home #3. Thanks for being rude…no, really, Thanks. 

You see, her attitude reminded me of others who were presented with a much more marvelous gift and responded, not with gratitude, but with rudeness, hate, disdain and ignorance. Jesus. On the cross. Making a way for sinful, hopeless humanity to once again be with God. Emmanuel, God With Us. And what has been the response to this most excellent gift over the centuries? Gratitude, yes, thankfully, occasionally, yes; but much more often, the response to this gift is rudeness, hate, disdain and ignorance.

So, Ms. Home #3, thank you for being rude. I don’t know what was going on in your heart or your life on Saturday and I am not judging you. I was as blessed (maybe more) to deliver to you as to any other and we were seeking no praise or gratitude anyway. Yet your response impressed our children so deeply that it allowed me to organically and practically speak to my children on the drive home about the truth of God’s love for us, even, and especially, when we don’t deserve it. Thank you also for the opportunity to remind them (and me) of the many who view God’s love with anything but a grateful heart. I think they understand a little better now. Happy Thanksgiving.

Loving with My Eyes Wide Open

TGOn the Saturday before Thanksgiving this year I’ll be packing up some frozen turkeys and all the Thanksgiving fixins and delivering them to families in need who live in one of America’s poorest cities. I’ve desired to do this for several years but previous obligations on that day never allowed it.

And at the risk of sounding like a punk, honestly, I’ve often thought of asking the man directing this effort if he thinks the poor that will receive these bagfuls of Thanksgiving provisions have any clue how to defrost and cook a turkey properly. 

TG 2Next week I will be cooking my very first turkey for Thanksgiving. I confess, I’m a little apprehensive, cooking a turkey is no joke, even for an experienced cooker like me with all the accoutrements at my fingertips. I wonder how these individuals or families (who use their stove mainly as an alternative heat source in the winter) will deal with a 17lb frozen turkey.

Since I’ve gone this far, let me ask THE question that is already on everyone’s minds:

Will these families, in one of the poorest cities in the nation, actually prepare a complete dinner and then sit down together to feast on Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving_Dinner

Isn’t it more likely they will sell the turkey (and boxes of stuffing, mashed potatoes and canned goods) for money to feed their addictions or to head out shopping on Black Friday?

There, I said it. Call me a punk, but isn’t that what a lot of us are thinking? Don’t we view “those people” who choose one holiday a year to serve the poor and pour out food items on them as naïve, foolish or wasteful with their (or our) money? Why join the dozens (hundreds) of others on such a popular service day to give food items to people who will most likely quickly convert the food to cash and then to drugs or drink?

You know what… I’m not naïve (much) and in all honestly, I would be truly surprised if more than 2 families in 50 actually use their Thanksgiving food items for a Thanksgiving Day meal. Most will probably just eat the pies.

And I’m OK with that.

After lunch today we were talking about some loved ones and old friends who are suffering from the affects of Alzheimers and dementia. These dear friends have lost the ability to remember, yet they have not lost the desire to serve. Allowing them to still do some small acts of work or service generally makes a LOT of work for the people around them – but hey, Whoever said love had to be productive?

Love, just, is. It is often not convenient. Not logical. Not fiscally responsible.

On a day where some of us will choose to give of our finances (for food items) and give of our time (to deliver the food,) the blessing is not for the receiver alone, but effective work is being done on our own hearts through the act of loving through service. What value can you place on that?

So I will give of my time and money to feed the poor. I will take my four children along with me (making me even less productive) knowing full well that a large portion of what we give may not be consumed on Thanksgiving Day. A box of mashed potatoes may feed a family on a Monday or a slice of pie may be a teenager’s lunch on a Tuesday. Maybe the food will be sold for illicit purposes. But we will still participate. In this way, on that day, I choose to express the love of my Savior, who loved me when I was unlovable and undeserving, to these precious neighbors who live just six lanes of a highway away from me. For love is not counted by the worthiness of the recipient but by the heart of the giver.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

In Matthew 25, Jesus spoke these words to the ones who expressed love, he made no mention of the responses of the recipients.

So, should we be wise with our finances? Yes. Should we be careful to partner with legitimate groups when serving? Absolutely.

Should the possible negative responses of those we serve be an excuse to stop expressing God’s love?  No.

You may be caught up in the “what ifs” concerning the recipients of a bag of food a few days before Thanksgiving; I, too, am concerned about these things and about the hearts of the recipients.

Still, If there are 50 who are hungry, I will feed them. If there are 20? I will serve. If there are only 2? I will give them a meal.

Even if there is not a single individual from the many who will receive food on Saturday who cooks up a Thanksgiving Dinner the following Thursday, I still choose to love with my eyes wide open.

love quote real

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I Can’t Delete My Grandchildren

I helped my mother “get the pictures off her phone” and on to her computer the other day. I do this periodically for her – after vacations and holidays especially.

She and my Dad had recently taken a trip to Virginia and she took some pictures of my brother-in-law’s college and wanted to send them to him in Arizona. Making a move into the twenty-first century, Mom decided to email them to him rather than print them out and snail mail them. Baby steps.

After connecting the camera to the computer I saw the first pictures start to upload – 779 of them. Dang it. I hate when the computer forgets that it has already uploaded off this camera in the past and doesn’t start from the most recent pics – just a couple dozen since September.

As I sat there waiting for the hundreds of old pictures to upload, knowing I would have to delete 95% of them, I saw a baby picture of my nephew flash past. He’s six now.

When I mentioned the ancient pictures flashing across the screen to my mother she got a little flustered and exclaimed, “I can’t delete my grandchildren!”

Nope. She can’t.

I, however, can delete my children. I don’t like it, but I do it out of necessity – usually because I’ve run out of space and my phone is freezing up on me. It comes down to immediately deleting pictures of my kids or using my phone.

Phone wins. Every time.

I console myself that the pictures I really like I’ve already posted to Facebook and I can always find them. And, hey, since we’ve moved on to digital we take WAY more pictures than ever before – can you say, “selfie?” I can, and my phone is full of them but they certainly are not of myselfie.

selfie

Alright, you’ve twisted my arm; I admit it, I’ve deleted my children and I feel guilty about it.

***

Random Pictures of My Children from My Phone that I Will Probably Have to Delete at Some Point but at least They Are Now on My Blog for All Eternity – or Until the Internet Dies.

delete 1

Delete 2

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10 Reasons I Appreciate Teachers or…

Why You Couldn’t Pay Me Enough to Teach in School

10 teacherz

1. Stinky Children. Have you smelled a child’s breath in the morning? Do you know where those hands have been? I do. I know these smells All. Too. Well, my friends. I live with children. I know what they smell like. It’s not good. If I get 50% of my children to brush their teeth on a given morning – it’s a GOOD day. Poor, poor teachers. I deeply apologize.

2. Interruptions. I’ve taught enough small children over the years to realize that it is nearly impossible to get through anything without being interrupted. In fact, I have my own children to prove this theory. This morning as we were getting ready to leave for school I said, “Ok, everyone be quiet, we’re going to pray.” Just like we do every morning. As I take a deep breath and my lips are forming the “D” in “Dear Jesus,” my seven year old says, “Did you put my water bottle in my bag?” “Yes, close your eyes and stop talking we’re going to pray. D…” “Did you put my snack in my bag?” <deep breath> “Yes. close your eyes and stop talking we’re going to pray. De…” “Is it Halloween today?”

Lord have mercy, she did it FOUR times. In the end I had to have the five year old pray because I was too aggravated to talk to the Lord in that moment.

God bless teachers.

3. Stories. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where you could just tell a random story of your choosing about an irrelevant incident that happened in your life whenever the spirit moved you? Welcome to Childhoodville. Random. Random stories out of left field, probably when their teacher is trying to explain math or something. You have got to shut them down and move on, or the random storytelling will take over your life, I mean, classroom.

4. Farting. Let’s get real, Everybody farts. This includes the people who claim they don’t fart. They do. However, back in the day when I was in school, no one farted in school– or at least admitted to farting. Once, when I was in 9th grade the kid behind me accidentally farted loudly during class. With a “W” last name I was in the far back, left corner with just one seat behind me. In an instant, every single head in that classroom whipped back to our little corner of the room. In mortal fear that someone might think that I had committed the fart, I quickly turned around and glared at the kid behind me who sheepishly shrugged his shoulders as if to say, whoops. At least he manned up and owned it.

These days farting seems to be the “in” thing. I got on the bus with the 5th Graders to chaperon their class trip and before my buttocks hit the green faux leather bench, I smelled it. Stinky, unmistakable fart smell. On the crowded bus. Really? Sigh.

My five year old is always loaded. And she is unashamed. When I ask her if she does it in school she claims she doesn’t, but I’m not so sure. For a little person, she is super gassy and I don’t even know why. I can’t imagine what I’m feeding them to cause the gas buildup; it’s not like they eat vegetables or anything…

5. Questions. Ridiculous questions. Questions like, “What do you call 100 twins?” And they expect an answer, as if that’s a thing. And they won’t ask you once, they’ll ask you 400 times, apparently forgetting the 399 times they already asked you the same thing.

If teachers haven’t been driven just a little bit insane I’d be very, very surprised.

6. Discipline. Call me crazy, but I just like to work in a world where people are adults and it’s not my job to correct them.

7. Cleaning. God bless them again, but there are some teachers who even clean up their students. Imagine it’s winter and seated before you are twenty sweet and shiny faces; shiny with florescent yellow snot logs hanging just above their upper lip. The remaining log-less students’ nostrils are filled with enormous snot bubbles or crusty boogers. Bring on the tissues. And rubber gloves. And Clorox wipes. And Airborne.

Bless you teachers. Bless you.

8. Whining. Maybe this only happens at home? Somehow I doubt it. Whiners gonna whine.

9. Repeating. As in, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Moooom, Mom…” Although I suppose in school it is something along the lines of, “Teacher, Teacher, Teacher… or Mrs. Fillintheblank, Mrs…” You get where I’m going with this… (refer back to my insanity comment.)

10. I’m leaving #10 blank for a Fill it in Yourself Competition. There is no prize other than my eternal gratitude for your understanding and empathy; for the teachers – not me, I wouldn’t do that job for a million bucks.

***

It must be a calling. I cannot imagine why someone would willingly submit themselves to the stinks and sounds of a small child classroom environment if they weren’t on a mission of some kind. There just isn’t enough money in the world. All I have left to say is, whatever teachers are being paid, it isn’t nearly enough.

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Don’t Mess with the Little Ones, They’re Vicious

In our house the oldest sibling could be called, The Big Boss. She’s not as big as Mom, of course, but, whether the younger three sisters like it or not, they toe her line.

Heaven forbid you mess with The Big Boss (or TBB’s stuff), you see, she will come after you. And once she is after you there is only one place to go, The Biggest (and nicer) Boss of all, i.e. Moi. Somehow, I transform into “base.” TBB can’t touch you if you are attached to the “base,” or at least, she gets in trouble if she does; which is almost as good.

There is usually a lot of chasing around the house and quite a bit of squealing, “Mommy! Mommy!” and then suddenly I am body slammed by a  little person in full retreat from The Big Boss who is on a rampage, usually over somebody touching her stuff.

Horrors. I know.

After an incident this morning consisting of a chase, a squeal and a body slam into “base,” the littlest drew this picture on a napkin moments before leaving for school:

clazy hair

It is a picture of her biggest sister, The Big Boss, with “clazy hair” (sic).

“I x-ed her out,” she said.

There is some vicious emotion expressed on this napkin. You don’t want to mess with this little peanut, she can hold her own. Especially when peaking out from the relative safety of her mother’s knees.

It’s best to keep on her good side, otherwise, she will X You Out.

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!”

― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Big 'n Little

Big ‘n Little

You don’t want to mess with them, they’re very expressive.

 

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