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Mad Mommies (a Novel)

Chapter 1


“Richard’s cheating on me,” I announced to my two closest friends. We had just been seated in a wide booth at an upscale brunch place in town. The menus had been placed before us, the silverware arranged accordingly. A late morning sun glare had settled over our table, illuminating our faces, and for some reason it seemed like a fitting time to make the announcement.

To my left, Shailene gasped loudly, cupped her hands over her mouth and emitted a muffled but still noisy, “Oh my god!” Her reaction was so piercing that it caught the attention of an older couple two tables over. She looked as though someone had just died.

To my right, Megan was peeling the butter knife away from her three-year old son and trying to shush her baby daughter. “Shhh Harper, shhh, no don’t grab Mommy’s car keys. Caden! Caden! Put the knife down! Wait…wait…Holly, what did you — Caden, Mommy really means it! You’re going to go into time-out!”

Again the goings-on of our table attracted the stares of the older couple.

“He’s cheating on me,” I said sadly. “We officially had the conversation last night. He’s found someone else. He’s moving out and we’re going to get a divorce. He’s going to live in an apartment.” I lowered my head and stared at the menu. Pictures of almond cinnamon buns, egg-white soufflés and whole grain pancakes stared back at me. I didn’t have the appetite for any of it.

Shailene continued to gape at me as though she was looking at a ghost and I certainly felt like one – the ghost of my fourteen-year marriage. What remained after courtship and vows, Lamaze classes, school musicals and birthday parties. I felt like a disembodied shell of my former, coupled self.

They must have known something was up when I convened an emergency brunch. Years ago, before I had children, my late morning brunches with various friends were a weekly ritual. I would roll out of bed at noon, eyes still caked in day-old make-up, breath still suggestive of the previous night’s spirits. My friends and I would lazily stroll into the restaurant of choice, and take our time detailing all the decadent stories from the weekend.

Times had certainly changed.

These days, with our hectic schedules, brunch outings were about as frequent as sightings of Haley’s Comet. But this morning was different. I had sent a frantic text to both of them, saying we needed to talk. Shailene was able to get her mother to watch her seven-year-old daughter at the last minute. But Megan was only able to offload one child – her seven-year old son who was at a friend’s birthday party. Megan’s baby Harper and three-year-old Caden would have to be present for my revelation.

“So that’s it?” Shailene asked. “He’s started seeing someone else and the marriage is over? Who is this other woman?”

“Poopy!” Caden exclaimed. “Poopy poopy poopy! Poop on your head! Poop on your head!”

“I’m so sorry, Holly,” Megan said. “Caden! That’s it! You’re in time-out! Turn your body around right now!”

Caden happily obliged, shifting his small body until he was on his knees and staring at the customers in the booth behind us.

“Megan, we’re in a booth,” Shailene pointed out. “You’re not really punishing him. You’re punishing the people behind us.”

Megan sighed. “Well what would you have me do? It’s a busy, crowded restaurant. I can’t put him in a chair in the corner. He’ll trip someone or run out the door.” Megan lifted her daughter who was starting to whimper from the car seat and onto her lap. She stroked the baby’s soft downy hair and for a brief moment, our table was silent.

Megan pressed Harper’s head against her chest and turned to face me. “Your marriage is really over?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said. “It’s really over. Richard’s with someone else.”

“He told you that?”

“Yeah he did.”

We were silent again until Shailene, in her most demanding tone, asked, “Well, who is this husband-stealing whore-slut?”

At that moment our waiter had arrived at our table. He was a slender man of about nineteen or twenty – a mess of dark tangled hair and face still pocked with the last vestiges of teenage acne. “Oooh…,” he said when he heard Shailene’s comment. “Um, I could come back.”

“No!” Megan insisted in the same tone she used with Caden. “We need to order right away! Harper is going to be ready for nap in about twenty minutes, Caden will be trying to eat the tablecloth after that and I need to get home to take Trevor to the doctor because of his allergies. Ok. I’ll have three orders of chocolate chip pancakes with two sides of scrambled eggs. Coffee too! Lots of coffee! Regular.”

The waiter furiously scribbled on his notepad while she spoke. He eventually lifted his head and looked at Shailene. “And for you?”

“I’ll just have coffee and a side of cottage cheese please,” Shailene said with a smile.

Unlike the rest of us, who had blossomed into our gravity-succumbing, post-baby adult selves, Shailene remained the perky, natural-blonde, stick-thin cheerleader that she was in high school. Still the same height, and ostensibly still the same weight, Shailene turned heads wherever she went. In high school, she was every boy’s ultimate fantasy and not much had changed throughout the years in that regard.

Interestingly, in the almost twenty years since graduation, Shailene had settled down into a happy marriage (from what I could tell), but she still flirted blatantly with men. It was like an involuntary reflex that couldn’t be stopped. For the latter basis alone, her name was the first that popped into my head when I began to suspect Richard of cheating. Then, reasoning prevailed. Shailene was my close friend – almost like a sister…and she wouldn’t do that to me. At least, I didn’t think she would do that to me.

“And for you?” the waiter asked me.

“I’ll just have coffee,” I said softly. “I don’t want to eat anything.”

The waiter had lingered for a few moments but darted away.

Once he left, Megan immediately returned to the topic at hand. “So who is she? Caden, stop bouncing! Did Richard tell you? Caden stop bouncing!”

I shook my head. “No, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the moms in our neighborhood. I asked him if he was seeing someone and he said yes. I asked him if it was someone at work and he said no. Then I asked him if it was someone I knew, like one of the other moms at school, and he didn’t answer.” I tried to avoid looking pointedly at Shailene.

Harper punctuated my comment by vomiting into Megan’s chest. It almost looked like a sci-fi special effect, with what appeared to be gallons of milky white fluid projected at high velocity from the mouth of a tiny being. When she was done, Harper belched and grinned.

Caden screamed at the sight. “Mommy, you’re wet! Mommy you’re wet!”

Megan grabbed a cloth napkin and wiped Harper’s face, then used the same napkin for her chest. I stood up and offered my own napkin but she was already bent over the side of the booth, buckling Harper into her car seat, while Caden jumped on her back, yelling, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY!”

Megan stood up, still dripping from the residue of Harper’s breakfast. She swept Caden onto her hip in with one arm and picked up Harper’s car seat with the other. Running from the restaurant like an animal escaping a predator, she yelled, “I’ll pay you back for the pancakes!” over her shoulder at us.

“Poor Megan,” Shailene said.

Megan’s pancakes arrived a few minutes later and I had a few bites even though I wasn’t hungry. For the rest of the meal, Shailene and I talked through the roster of moms in the neighborhood and tried to figure out who the husband-stealing whore-slut was. The question ate me up inside. If I had to devote hours, days, weeks, months of investigation to the task, I was going to find out this person’s identity. The funny thing was, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that it was Shailene.

Endorsing New Parenthood, Sarah Palin style

Here is an endorsement of becoming a new parent, Sarah Palin style.

Greetings to all my mamas and my almost-mamas, the happy preggos and the baby bumpers, the ladies in the pudding club and to those who just like pudding.

I’m here to lend my support to new parenthood because you all have gone through the wringer, or maybe not yet but you will. And these days it’s plop plop! Fizz fizz! All the time. It isn’t alka seltzer, it’s bodily fluids. Can I get a hallelujah!! Your little tootsie is going to simmer in his own juices like a crockpot stew. And guess what, you’re gonna wear those juices like a drugstore body wash. And you say, “Son of a biscuit, but I’ll just shower,” but these days, you gotta fight for your right to potty. You wana use the restroom, well cry me a river sister.

And little old ladies love, just love. Enjoy the Ooohs and Aaahs…because soon it’ll be side-eye and advice. Love the doting while you’ve got it. And also don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.

And when you care enough to send the very best…but really you don’t care at all, you aren’t sending anything. You’ve forgotten everyone’s birthday and that anyone else was alive and when you dressed as a zombie for Halloween, everyone thought that was really you! Snap! Crackle! Pop! That’s the sound of your old relationships.

So this is all funny haha, well not funny haha, more funny like I AM NOT GOING TO TELL YOU AGAIN TO TURN OFF THE FOOTBALL GAME AND LEND ME A HAND, YOU ARE NOT LISTENING.

Bon Voyage! To all the single ladies on the party boat! Save me a seat, I’ll still be awake. Knick-knack, paddy whack! Right on the head because I haven’t slept in six weeks.

And I’m sick of it…! I’m doggone mad about it! They cry and they weep, they burp and they sleep. This one has a little star. This one has a little car. Say, what a lot of fish there are. Wait…where was I?

Oh and they’re so great. They grow so fast. Before you know it, they’re a little bit older and then you’re sane again. And you look back and say that time was so great. I could do it all over again.

Because love, love, love, love, crazy love. And that is why I endorse new parenthood. God bless all of the new mamas and the papas singing the California Dreamin’ that makes the world go round.  And God bless America.

five stages of being blizzarded in with your lovely family

denial–“Hey, hon. Newspaper says all weather models agree that we’re getting eleventy million inches of snow starting tomorrow with a possible sprinkle of locusts. You don’t think they’ll close school, right? I mean, those guys are wrong ALL the time!”

anger–“Oh my GAWD, if you make your three year old brother scream ONE more time you will lose all screen time until college. It’s not even 9am yet! It’s too early for mommy’s ears to bleed.

bargaining–“Listen. If you guys can keep the decibel level less than 90 and get along with each other, and not smear the baby with peanut butter [I don’t care whether he likes it, not relevant] for ten consecutive minutes I will give you guys EACH 10 dollars! maybe 20 dollars! ..and a car! even the 3 year old! Please?!

depression–“…sure, you can send your kids over. sure, even the one hopped up on sour patch kids and mountain dew. at this point, what’s another kid or two? if you need me I’ll be in the bedroom with the door shut and locked, sucking down some Maury reruns.”

acceptance–“hey! we made it! the whole day! no one died! GoooooOOOO us!!! [no way school will be closed again tomorrow, right? ohmahgaaaad]”

Murphy’s Law of Traveling Husbands

The hubs has to take a business trip and will be gone for 7 days.  “No problem!” you say — perhaps a bit too readily, in a voice that’s maybe a bit too chirpy.  And why hesitate?  The grass is green, the sun is shining and the kids are all getting along.

The problem, fellow Moms, is that you’ve been lulled into a false sense of security.  This is the calm before the storm, the moment in the movie where the husband waves good-bye and heads into his taxicab.  Next thing you know, the light has darkened, the score changes from lilting staccato to one baritone chord on the piano, and you have to fight the urge to yell at the protagonist, “RUN!”

But the Mom — yes, that’s you — can’t run.  The mom must go back inside the house and face Murphy’s Law of Traveling Husbands.  Here is everything that will go wrong when your husband is traveling:

  1. One or more kids will get sick.  That little mosquito bite on his leg before your husband left?  Turns out it’s a raging case of poison ivy and you’ll need to visit the doctor to get Benedryl.  That little cough your four year old had?  While you were peacefully sleeping at one a.m., you’ll learn that it was croup and you’ll have to aggressively comb through your Rolodex of neighbors and parents who haven’t figured out the Do not Disturb feature on their iPhones to get babysitting coverage for your older kids while you take the little one to the ER.
  2. Your house will break.  This happened to me when my husband recently left for a trip in early January and our furnace decided to throw in the towel. (see angry, bitter Jan 5 post about dealing with Home Warranty Companies)
  3. Your child will get an incredibly huge science project — due the day before your husband returns.  Yes, little Johnny will prance home from school in the afternoon, hugging a paper that reads:  Your child will be participating in the Annual Science Fair.  Please assist him or her in building his own photobioreactor, or denaturing proteins, or creating a magnetic linear accelerator.  Projects will be due in three days.
  4. The weather will turn.  While it may have been 60 degrees and sunny when your husband was home, now it’s 8 degrees, cloudy with a wintry mix, and there are several sheets of ice on the road — enough to make you fear driving on the slick surface.  Unfortunately the school board will agree with you and cancel school for the duration of your husband’s trip.
  5. You will forget something major.  This happened to me when my pre-schooler casually mentioned that I had forgotten to put something in his backpack for Show-and-Tell day.  “It’s okay,” he said forgivingly. “I just talked to the class.”

The good news is that eventually your wandering husband will return home, and you can greet him with a laundry list of all the things that went wrong in his absence.  He will feel loved and appreciated, and most of all, he can be left with the broken house, sick kids and icy weather while you plan a girls trip to Mexico.

Dealing with Home Warranty Companies: The Forgotten Plague

In the Old Testament, when the Egyptians were dealing with the wrath of the Lord, when they were facing lice and darkness, boils, wild animals, hail and fire… the good Lord should have looked upon them and said, “None of my previous punishments have worked thus far. I shall now subject you to DEALING WITH A HOME INSURANCE COMPANY! And HSA in particular! Good luck.”

And this is the predicament I found myself in Monday morning, shortly after the holiday season, when temperatures hovered around the 30 degree-Fahrenheit mark, and my dear furnace decided that it just couldn’t fight the good fight anymore. At around 8 am, with a clanging and a wheeze, my upstairs furnace kicked the dust.

Monday morning, I called HSA and sat on hold for 45 minutes. With my kids prancing and scampering about, I listened to the instrumental version of O Come All Ye Faithful about 500 times, all the while shushing my children to be quiet because I would be speaking to a real live person soon – really any moment now. Interspersed with the holiday music were robotic prompts promising that my call was very important to them, someone would be with me shortly, and that I always had the option to deal with my warranty claim on-line.

Optimistically, I figured I would stay on the call. After all, the robot had said my call would be answered in the order it had been received, and with 30 minutes of instrumental Christmas-carol listening and child-shushing under my belt, I didn’t want to lose my place in line. But sadly, at the end of my 45-minute wait, the system hung up on me. I’m sure this is just a systems error, I figured, still hopeful that HSA was an actual company with actual workers who were going to help fix my actual problem.

So then I did as the prompt suggested and went online to This is where I confess that all my years of formal schooling have failed me…because while I can debate Descartes’ Ontological Argument until the cows come home, I could not tell you whether my furnace is central combustor or resistance unit – whether it’s forced air or non-duct heating. Is there a heat pump involved? A fan? I have absolutely no idea. Basically I press an arrow on the thermostat and the heat comes on…and before yesterday, I never thought too much about it. I eventually selected “wall unit” because, after all, my furnace is located in the wall. But I would learn later that no, this was not the right selection.

The system dispatched a local company we’ll call Sequoia Enterprises to come out and fix the problem. Wow, I thought, that was easy, blissfully unaware of my own brazen naivety. All was good until Sequoia called me and mentioned that they don’t fix wall furnaces. (And in fact, they rarely ever get calls to fix wall furnaces, being that they are not the usual type of furnace in most homes in our area.)

So I had made the wrong choice and I was now back to square one with HSA. My options were to play another round of Russian Roulette with the online system or sit on hold if I made a phone call. I chose the latter, and sat on hold for thirty minutes, with the same robotic prompts and Christmas muzak as earlier in the day. Eventually a real live person did come on. She assured me that I did not have a wall unit, that Sequoia would be able to help me, and that my issue would be re-dispatched and coded as an emergency (since after all, temps were hovering around 25 degrees).

I was told I’d hear from someone at Sequoia within the next thirty minutes. When I didn’t, I called them and learned that they closed at 4pm. So much for my emergency. We spent the night huddled beneath blankets, turned our basement furnace up and hoped the heat would rise. It didn’t – and my kids woke up cold a few times.

The next morning, I was freezing and sleep-deprived. I called Sequoia and spoke to someone who claimed they had received no such emergency dispatch from HSA and my only recourse was to speak with the warranty company directly. So I called HSA and sat on hold for over an hour. Same Christmas muzak, same robotic prompts promising that my call was very important to them. No one ever picked up. By this time it had been 24 hours and I was still at square one! This is when my doubts started formulating as to whether HSA is a real company. Perhaps it exists somewhere over the rainbow, staffed by gnomes and elves. Or maybe it’s a psychological experiment, meant to test the emotional resolve of homeowners. Either way, it certainly doesn’t seem like a home warranty company with any interest or ability to help its customers.

In a fit of emotion and anger, I called Sequoia back for the third time, and with their help, I was able to get through to HSA. This is when I learned that my issue was not actually an emergency, since my house has two furnaces. I explained through clenched teeth that I don’t care whether it’s treated as an emergency. I just want it to be treated as something that involves a technician who can come to my home and fix the problem. Something that isn’t nothing is basically where I’ve set the bar.

So Sequoia is going to come out tomorrow morning and hopefully fix the furnace. We face one more night of cold and sleeplessness and then hopefully the problem will be fixed, HSA will hopefully pay for their share less the deductible, and I can rest assured that all is well and good…until the next thing breaks.

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.