Monthly Archives: December 2015

7 Stages of Morning Hell

Mornings for my family are an absolute battle. It’s hard enough to leave the warm comfort of bed for the cold tile floor, not to mention all of the activities required to get the kids to school on time. Below are the 7 stages of morning hell in our household.

Stage 1: Pre- Wake-up

Pre-wake up applies to one of my eight year olds, who likes to wake up at 5am. At this hour, the house is dark, the covers are swaddling me into a blissful coma, and suddenly I hear a voice. “Mommy? What is my tongue made out of?”

I peel open an eye and see him standing beside my bed, fully dressed for school and staring at me expectantly.

I say in a scratchy rasp, “Buddy, it’s not even seven am yet. Go back to sleep or you can play very quietly downstairs.”

Then I hear him putter softly down the stairs and play a game that starts out softly but quickly crescendos into a rock concert with a ten-minute drum solo. I pull the covers over my head and try to ignore it.

Stage 2: Actual Wake-up

I’ve been awake since the impromptu Tommmy Lee concert, but it’s time for me to wake up my other two boys. I open up blinds, turn on lights, and run in and out of their rooms, sounding like a tornado siren. “Time to get up, kids WHOO WHOO WHOO!” I yell. Five minutes of this, and they finally open their eyes and agree to meet me at the breakfast table.

Stage 3: Breakfast

What’s the preferred food for breakfast? Trick question! It’s: Anything we don’t have. If I’ve gone to the store and bought out the cereal aisle, they want oatmeal. If we have that too, they want pancakes. “I don’t ever cook pancakes,” I try to reason with my 4-year old. “But it’s what I WANT!” he exclaims. I eventually convince him to sit down with us and have some cereal.

Breakfast is over when I take a glance and the clock and have a panic attack. “Time to get dressed!” I yell, casting a desolate glance at the kitchen table to see that most of the food is either unconsumed or on the floor. But no time to deal with that now! We’re on to stage 4.

Stage 4: Getting dressed.

Stage 4 is all about my boys seeing what they can get away with and me shooting down their ideas.

No, you may not wear your pajamas to school.

Yes, you need to wear pants. It’s twelve degrees outside.

No, you may not dress as Darth Vader or the Storm Troopers.

Yes, you need to wear underwear.

No, you may not wear your underwear outside your pants today. Or ever.

At some point, they all manage to find clothes that won’t result in a call home from school and they meet me downstairs. I ask, “Did you brush your teeth?” And they trod upstairs.

Stage 5: Figuring out what minimal amount of teeth brushing will suffice.

I tell my kids stories about fanatical dentists with lithium-ion Black & Decker drills and yet my children still inhabit the fantasyland of youth in which cavities won’t happen to them. Each morning, they swipe a wet toothbrush across their mouth and yell, “Finished!”

This is the stage where I weigh tardiness against hygiene. Everyone who has ever been a mom has done this calculus. I want us to leave on time but then again I don’t want anyone’s breath to smell like the inside of Lexington Fish Market. “This time with toothpaste!” I insist. “Be sure to brush slowly and meticulously and also hurry hurry hurry!” My kids give each other quizzical looks and try to brush their teeth slowly and quickly at the same time.

Stage 6: The Backpack Assembly

Now the kids are dressed, eaten and their teeth are brushed. Those three tasks have taken an hour and a half to complete. The first bell is going to ring in five minutes and we haven’t left the house yet.

My twins are responsible for putting together their own backpack. On the door I’ve pasted detailed, color-coded instructions in large block font. These instructions are impossible to miss and yet every morning, one of the twins darts outside without his backpack altogether.

Once I yell after him and he comes back, I refer him to the step-by-step set of instructions for what goes inside. The selection of snack alone takes several minutes and I just don’t understand why. The entire universe of possible snacks can be broken down into: apples, Pirates Booty, Goldfish or carrot sticks. Should be pretty easy, right?

Wrong. This is a very difficult decision and one that must be made with the utmost gravity. Much like wine is paired with a meal, the snack must be paired with the lunch option, it must satisfy the feng shui of the backpack, it must contain the correct combination of ingredients to appeal to the specific palate of the child on that specific morning.

At some point I turn into Crazy Morning Mommy and yell, “JUST PICK SOMETHING ALREADY!” Then they hastily throw something in their bags and we all manage to get out of the house.

Stage 7: The Walk to School

This is when I get my morning workout, hoofing it up the long block to school with my children in tow, yelling at them to get out of the way of cars, and willing time to stand still so we can make it in time for the second bell.

And then, voila, we reach the school and my twins go inside. My little guy and I have a lazy walk back. We examine the foliage, talk about superheroes and take our time. There’s no evidence of the madness we’ve just endured – craziness that in one short day, we’re going to do all over again.

Things My Kids Think Are Funny (That I Don’t Get)

I think I have a fairly reasonable sense of humor, and my husband too. We laugh at jokes that are funny, stories that are pithy and irreverent, anecdotes that are relatable. This is why I’m surprised that the product of our union, our 3 beautiful boys, have a sense of humor that can best be described as slapstick and mostly involves the bathroom. I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 things that my kids think are absolutely hysterical that I simply don’t get.

1) The human digestive system. My twins’ fascination with this started around age 2, when they really got into potty training. The folks at Children’s Television Workship did us no favors by having a segment in Elmo’s Potty Time in which kids yell out their nicknames for digestive waste. This put my twins into hysterics. It was like Christmas come early. “Again! Again! Again!” they would squeal and then walk around the house later that day shouting “BM!” “Stool!” “Dung!” at top volume. “Why is this necessary?” my husband asked me. “It’s helping them get potty trained,” I gently explained. To be honest, I’m not really sure whether the video helped or not. What I do know is that, years later, my kids still find the digestive system and all associated gases, bodily fluids and sounds HILARIOUS.

2) The word “booty”. Why is this funny? When Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass started airing on the radio, my kids would cheer and whoop-whoop. “It’s about a woman’s self-acceptance and learning to love her body,” I’d explain, while they completely ignored me and chanted, “Booty booty! Booty booty!” (And yes while it may seem like poor parenting to allow them to listen to the radio on occasion, please refer to point 3 below.)

3) Silly children’s songs that anthropomorphize animals. My kids find many of these songs hilarious, particularly one in which a monkey is acting like a human and doing crazy things. To be honest, I didn’t mind so much the first time I heard the song. But the 347th time around, I knew exactly how it was going to go. I knew exactly what the monkey was going to do. And so did they!! “Why is this song still funny?” I asked my kids, and they responded that animals acting like people can be uproariously funny, especially against the backdrop of a 6-chord melody that repeated itself over and over.

I tried to deal with this by reading them Animal Farm by George Orwell. I didn’t exactly expect my 7-year olds to draw parallels with the Russian Revolution, but I figured they might find it clever since the farm animals acted like humans. Instead, my kids’ eyes turned glassy, their bodies went stiff and they fell asleep.

4) Really terrible knock-knock jokes. Knock-knock. Who’s there? Kimona. Kimona who? Kimona my house. Are you laughing right now or do you want to break the screen? “That was funny?” I asked my kids, who were holding onto their sides, trembling and asking me for another one. Okay. Knock-knock. Who’s there? Needle. Needle who? Needle little lunch. I could go on and on, thanks to a comprehensive Knock-Knock Jokes anthology that some sadist bought my kids for their birthday. This is a book that my kids love to read again and again, that puts them into hysterics, that somehow finds its way out of our recycle bin every time it accidentally winds up there. “Mom, look what almost got thrown out,” one twin will say to me as he fishes the book out of the receptacle. “Oooh, good thing you rescued it,” I respond, while cursing under my breath. “Now read me the one about the orange.”

5) Children’s books where the protagonist misbehaves and breaks his furniture. There are more of these than you might think, as I discovered recently. Just this week, we read two in which the main character broke his bed – one from excessive jumping and one from inviting all of the animals in the house to sleep with him. My kids found both of these books, side-splittingly, knee-slapping funny – particularly one scene when the bed goes through the floor. “You think this is funny?” I say to them. “Beds are expensive! Floors are expensive! More money than you’ve got in your allowance for the rest of your lives!” But they don’t want to hear about the consequences. They just want a simple tale in which the hero is allowed to misbehave, make a terrible mess, break his house and not have anything bad come of it. And while I can see that this type of escapist literature is appealing to them, I’m too concerned with insurance estimates, the cost of laminate flooring, and visits to crowded IKEA to get the humor.

Our 3 kids are elementary and pre-school age – still plenty of room to grow and to have their sense of humors evolve. I’m sure there’s a day in the future when I’ll tell a joke and one of my kids will shake his head, accuse me of being juvenile and my humor derivative. In the meantime, I’ll continue to ask them why they’re laughing at things I don’t get…and maybe come a little bit closer to solving the mystery.