Archive of ‘Boys’ category

My Mom’s Original Gangster Parenting Hacks Would Never Fly Today

My kids are coddled like every other child on the planet. They get participation trophies. They have gigantic water bottles so that they won’t ever dehydrate. They get stickers at Target for being in the cart, even though their behavior is so deplorable I often threaten to leave a few behind. That is the way of our world. We as parents have become soft. The second you attempt to assert tough love you are labeled an a-hole parent by the rest of the pearl-clutching mothers at pick up.

We thirty-something moms were raised by a different pack of wolves. If we didn’t follow the rules, it wasn’t about a gentle consequence like losing a marble from the good girl jar. Our parents pulled out the big guns. Today’s sweet and loving Grannies and Grandpas, whose grand babies can do no wrong, were not kidding around thirty years ago. They taught us lessons that we will never forget.

I am a mother of three boys and one girl, a mirror image of the family that I grew up in. Having four kids is often chaotic, but I guess because I am from a large family it isn’t the ginormous challenge that the world assumes it is. Having said that, I certainly have my fair share of, “What in the world have I gotten myself into?” days. But when I am at my worst, it is comforting to know that my mom was in the exact same place and somehow she made it through. I will often reflect on my own childhood experiences and think how lucky I was to have been raised in a loving family in the 1980s because if I pulled any of my parents’ OG child-rearing hacks today, I’d be in jail. Or at the very least, the confessional…..

Clean up, or else

Today’s child has a chore chart on the wall outlining their daily responsibilities with a corresponding magnet that they can move from one side to the other so as to earn their daily sticker and, ultimately, a prize at the end of the week. In the 1980s you had the, “I swear to God if you don’t clean up this room, I am throwing all of your crap out the window,” method. Parents didn’t just threaten, they followed through. The entire contents of my brothers’ bedroom went flying from a second story window and when my mom said she wouldn’t pick one thing up, she meant it. No,the family’s dirty little secret was never shared with anyone; but the lesson was learned and nothing took flight again. Today, the neighbors would whip out their iPhones to capture video, post it on Facebook and my mom would end up on Dr. Phil defending her boot camp-style parenting.

If you want to leave, go

If a child today threatened to run away, parents would have a mental breakdown. Why are you unhappy? What can I do better? Is there something that we can do to improve your living conditions? When I was a kid if you wanted to move out, your mother would help you pack. As a matter of fact, if you were lucky, she’d grab the gigantic Samsonite from the basement. There were no wheels of course, but it was nice and hard and made a great seat when you needed a rest. She’d pack up all of your clothes, something fancy for church on Sunday, perhaps a swimming suit in the summer, and you’d be on your way. It’s unlikely that you’d make it too far past the front stoop carrying all of your worldly possessions. However, you’d have plenty of time to think the plan through, just as your mother had intended.

You will eat this or starve

If you were a kid in the 1980s you probably had the pleasure of culinary delights like Chicken Tonight, Manwich or if it was a special occasion Bagel Bites and Totino’s Pizza Rolls. No matter what was placed on the table, that was the only option. No one was concerned that you didn’t like the way it looked, smelled or how it felt in your mouth. Dinner was served. And if you were hungry, you would eat it. If you refused, you would be forced to sit with your cold chicken and dumplings, under dimmed lighting, while the rest of the family went to watch ALF without you. If you didn’t eat said dumplings, there would be no other food offered until breakfast. You would legit go to bed hungry and live to tell the tale the next day

Do as I say, not as I do

Going out to dinner was a luxury when I was a kid. Sure there were plenty of fast food joints with outdoor play places that caused permanent scarring from their metal joy rides, but a sit-down meal was a treat. When dining out, party manners were expected, and so help me God; you had better never let anyone know how old you were. Even if it meant keeping your coat on for the entire meal to hide your blossoming chest or ducking down really low in your seat, under no circumstances should the establishment ever question whether or not you were 10 and under. There was no kids eat free with an eligible adult in the good old days. Everyone had to pay their own way, but fathers in the know had a plan. Children were prepped in the car. You are never older than the age limit for a kid’s meal. Is that clear? You will graciously accept a kid’s menu. Do you understand? Only water and soda have free refills. Don’t even think about ordering chocolate milk. Got it? Once you were clearly too old, your father became “Mr. I look so young for my old age” and would start ordering off the senior citizen’s menu to balance things out.

Don’t make me turn this car around

Vacation was a time for the whole family to pack into the station wagon and hit the open road while your mom yelled directions from that, “damn Rand McNally,” she could never fold, while your dad took long angry drags from his Salems. There were no five point harness personal utopia’s containing tablets preloaded with educational videos and apps. You played the license plate game and beat the hell out of one another for a window seat. You’d hope for a quick nap in the car before you checked in to the hotel and spent the next six nights sharing a double bed with all five of your siblings. Vacation came with no itinerary, no day trips or jaunts. Your trip consisted of the hotel pool, third-degree sunburns, bee stings and you cried when you left because you couldn’t wait for next summer.

It was a simpler time with fewer distractions. Families were big and weird and so many of them were unbelievably happy. And aside from that one summer when my brother fell from the brand new swing set and probably broke his foot, but we’ll never know because it was the 4th of July and no one was going to the ER because, “it would be loaded with idiots who’d burned themselves with firecrackers!” I think that my parents and the rest of the neighborhood moms and dads were really on to something…….

Keep Smiling, Keep Shining……

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Since the dawn of social media the world has become obsessed with sharing. Our lives are open books of photos and text written for everyone to see. Many of us have connected ourselves with large groups of people, that if it weren’t for these sites, we may not have kept up with at all. On any given day I can tell you what people who I went to grade school with had for lunch. I can spot a friend’s husband, who I have never met in my life, at a gas station but I won’t introduce myself because that would be weird. I can name hundreds of friends’ children’s names and tell you wonderful stories about those children because I have read all about them, but they don’t even know I exist.

I, myself, tend to be an over sharer. I like to think that my kids are funny and so I write down their quips and I publish them. I am lousy at baby books,. Those 0-12 months pictures always happen a day, or a week late. And, shh, I totally throw away papers when my kids go to sleep at night. But, I will absolutely Instagram a quote about the time someone told me they hoped they could throw up just to stay home and play with an iPad. That’s my life, day in and day out, and it’s the real life of so many parents.

When I was pregnant with Darling a few months ago, we decided to keep the gender a secret until the end. We did this with all of our pregnancies, so it was nothing new, but boy did the world want to weigh in on who was growing in my womb. I thoroughly documented my pregnancy and the excitement that our entire family had during this special time.

When my Darling was born, I proudly shared her birth story and the amazing surprise that she was for all of us. I was so thrilled to announce my beautiful baby, I never really took the time to think about how my posts and pictures, so many silly and often trite, could be affecting others.

And then this note appeared in my mailbox and stopped me in my tracks.

So I never wrote you- I was going to but it seemed too strange, but you are a strange gal and will probably appreciate this! I was due with a baby last March 2016… exact same time as you! I was busy holding my breath hoping and praying that this little one would stick when you announced #4. Of course I love your posts and was thrilled for you! My sweet little one was just passing through and for some reason I had a REALLY hard time recovering emotionally from that loss. I sought out support from all different healers – therapist, energy work, etc. I KNEW it was a little girl!

I sort of lived vicariously through your pregnancy updates on Facebook! I just KNEW you were going to have a girl too!

I had a dream the night you went into labor that you had a little girl and woke up to the news on Facebook announcing the arrival of your Darling! I cried. I was so emotional because I was so happy for you and so sad for me – it was really cathartic for me to experience the joy you felt welcoming your daughter! Just so beautiful! So super dog random that you had NO IDEA that you and your pregnancy played such a role in my healing process!!!!! THANK YOU!

This message from a real-life friend from school, who lives a few states away and is a mother of three herself, was an eye opener for me. It made me realize that just being me, just being silly and just sharing what happens, made someone else feel good. It made her smile during a really hard time in her life. I find such pleasure in reading others’ updates, too. There are a few select people whom I religiously check on because they make me smile, laugh and realize that I am totally not as bad of a mother as they are. I kid, I kid. The reality is, we are all just trying to get through the day and we all serve as great blessings to one another. I am grateful to play that role for some of you and equally thankful that you are there for me.

And while we may not always care about what that girl, who totally told a nun that she hated her math class and walked out sophomore year (this was absolutely a fever-induced dementia) did over the weekend, keep her on your friend’s list. She might be just what you need when you least expect it.

Put Me in Coach….

I am not particularly athletic, unless you include Sweatin’ to the Oldies, but as a mother of a lot of boys, sports, currently baseball, have infiltrated every part of our lives. I love to watch little kids get a hit, or make a catch and to see the pride beaming from their faces. There is nothing like watching your child smiling from ear to ear after making a great play and knowing that not one bit of that athletic ability came from you, and your pretty sure not your husband either, but hoping that it might last a few more years.

Recently, Handsomes #1 and #2 had weeknight games, at different locations, that overlapped; therefore, The Grillin’ Fool and I had to divide and conquer. It’s barely mid June and already 1000 degrees in St. Louis, so a full day at the pool followed by an early evening game, that I kind of forgot about until about an hour before hand, is about as much fun as I could possibly handle during the last week of my maternity leave.

In typical fashion, we couldn’t find hats, socks or cleats, despite the fact that every single person in the house swears that they put them away in their proper places just like I asked. Handsome #2 and I were headed out for the early shift. He was clad in head to toe black and grey polyester, bright blue and yellow soccer socks and tennis shoes due to the fact that we couldn’t devote any more time to the scavenger hunt for proper equipment. All the damns that I gave had melted in the heat.

The game started at 6pm and was located at least 15 minutes from home. We left at 5:51pm. I barely made it out of the subdivision when I noticed this in the rear view mirror.

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He hadn’t just nodded off, this child was snoring….loudly. Rather than poke the bear, I figured I would let him rest until we got to the field. We rolled in at 6:03pm and I noticed that every player on the field was female. Perfect. I had driven to the wrong place, miles past where we were supposed to be. Suddenly, Chief Meteorologist Maurmi comes in with this warning.

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I check my calendar, find the right location and get to the field at 6:17pm just in time for Handsome #2 to wake up with a seat belt crease across his face that could easily be mistaken as a failed attempt to gauge his eye out.

“Are we here? Oh good, my team is up to bat!”

He runs to the dugout and after missing the top of the inning somehow finds himself on deck. Seems fair that all of the other soon-to-be first graders who have battled the seventh circle of hell in the field should move aside for someone who just finished his beauty sleep, right?!?!?! He gets a hit, the kids finish out the inning and head back out to the field.

Handsome #2 didn’t seem particularly thrilled to be out in the heat and each time the thunder would clap, he’d look up as if God was talking directly to him. The other team got a few hits, scored a few runs and it was time for our boys to bat. Once again, there he stood with a helmet on, seemingly undeservedly high up in the batting order, when the coaches spot lightening and the game is called….at 6:31pm. In just 40 minutes, Handsome #2 had taken a nap, visited two Catholic Church fields, batted and gotten a hit, and played an inning in the field. This kid has done more with his athletic career in less than an hour than I have my entire life!

We headed for the car and he looked up at me and said,

“I need a nap, that was exhausting!”