When Nature Fails Nurture

When Nature Fails Nurture

By Maria Kostaki

Sleepy Mom w slippersI hated breastfeeding. Not because it hurt. Not because… I can’t think of another reason normal women don’t like breastfeeding, but not because it hurt. A few minutes after my son was born, my midwife placed him on my breast. It was the second most magical moment of my life; the first was watching him pee on the OR floor as the OBGYN shouted “Oh! He’s blond!” and handed him over to the nurse to clean up. The following day he spent nine straight hours on my breast. I had a C-section, he’d insisted on staying head up in the womb and my body’s quarters were growing dangerously small for him. It hurt to sit up, to lie down, and it definitely hurt to have an extra seven pounds on me for nine hours. But I didn’t hate it yet. It was still magic.

A week later, this is how my day goes:

10:00 pm: Stumble up the stairs to bedroom with husband behind me, hauling sleeping baby in portable crib, freaking out that he will wake and I will have to feed.

10:05 pm: In shower (sometimes), nipples burning at the slightest contact with warm of water.

10:10 pm: Asleep.

11:00 pm: Baby wakes for feeding. Right breast.

11:15 pm: Left breast.

11:25 pm: Asleep with baby on breast.

Midnight: Woken up by baby sliding off me and me sinking off the three pillows behind my back. Breastfeeding pillow is on the floor.

12:30 am: Baby awake for feeding. Right breast.

12:45 am: Left breast.

1:00 am: Baby asleep on breast. Carefully release nipple from mouth, slowly place baby in cot.

3:00 am: Jump out of bed to look at clock, feeling rested, terrified that something has happened to baby. Maybe he starved.

3:05 am: In kitchen, one hand holding pump to right breast (it works better), the other flipping and crushing candy to stay awake. Pop open a beer, they say it helps milk production.

3:25 am: Carefully place 60ml of pumped milk in fridge. Sneak upstairs.

4:30 am: Baby wakes for feeding. Wake up husband. Send him to warm refrigerated milk. Breastfeed baby while husband warms milk.

4:35 am: Leave baby with husband and turn back to both. Baby eats and falls asleep on husband’s chest.

6:00 am: Baby wakes to feed. Right breast.

6:15 am: Left breast.

You get the picture.

By month two, I’m a complete disaster. I rub my red, cracking nipples with olive oil, sit on my side because post-pregnancy hemorrhoids won’t let me sit on my ass, I’m exhausted, my baby is hungry and grumpy, cries most of the day, never sleeps for over an hour straight, and I feel like the weakest woman to ever walk the earth. Weak and useless. I can’t even feed my own child. A friend suggests I go to a lactation specialist.

“No, don’t,” another friend says. “I did and she took too much money from me and didn’t help. Just keep pushing through it, it’ll get easier.”

I go see another friend who gave birth six months before me. She has huge breasts, bursting with the magic serum, there’s so much of it, she feeds her son and her niece at the same time.

We go out as a family, just down the street, to a couple who are close friends. My son doesn’t sleep for a second, so I spend the day on the couch in their spare room with him on my breast. The woman friend keeps coming in to watch. Fascinated. She doesn’t know I am failing. I pretend everything is all right and keep at it.

At the end of month two, the pediatrician makes a house call. I buzz her in and return to my crying baby. I’ve laid him on the floor, gotten down on all fours, and tried to feed him in this rather primitive position that the Internet suggested I should try. The doctor pulls me up from the floor. Writes something on a piece of paper. Hands it to me. It’s a name of an organic formula brand.

“Go get it now,” she says.

I do. Baby eats, baby sleeps for four straight hours. My life changes.  But the guilt for giving up grows at the same rate as my son.

Two years later, I’m at the pool where I take my son for swimming lessons.

A woman is changing her two-and-half year old son next to me. She takes off her bathing suit and covers her body with a towel. Or so I assume. Next thing I know, her child was going to town on her breast. I didn’t manage to breastfeed for as long as I wanted to; I envy and look up to mothers who do, for however long they want, as long as they want to. This woman gave her child her breast after he spent half an hour swimming. This kid was hungry. She let him feed for ten seconds. And he kept asking for more. She told him to put his socks on. He kept asking for more. She got dressed. The kid went nuts.

My son stared. Oh wow, I said, immediately grateful that nothing worse came of my mouth. And then it did. “Oh honey, don’t get any ideas,” I said, zipping up his dinosaur sweatshirt. The woman asked how long I breastfed. Six months, I lied. “Oh, so he doesn’t really remember then, ” she said. No, but I do.

Maria Kostaki is a native of Moscow, Russia, but has spent most of her adult life on a plane from Athens, Greece to New York City and back. She has worked as an editor and staff writer for Odyssey magazine in Athens and New York, and her debut novel Pieces (She Writes Press) publishes in May 2015. 

Illustration by Christine Juneau

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Things I Remember About My Childhood Home

Things I Remember About My Childhood Home

By Christine Juneau

1_AlligatorWe moved into the house where I grew up the summer I turned five. It was an English Tudor built in 1924 in the northern suburbs of Detroit, and my parents had bought it from the estate of its original owner, a widower who had allowed it to fall into a state of severe disrepair during his last years there. I didn’t then understand why my parents were so excited about this looming, dark place with its dirty peeling walls, piles of broken glass blanketed under thick layers of dust, cobwebs everywhere, and a horrible pea green kitchen. “For heaven’s sake, don’t touch anything,” my mother had said, throwing open the back kitchen door. “You girls go outside to play.” There my older sister Leslie and I discovered a magnificent backyard with sprawling lawns shaded by towering spruce trees, a fruit orchard, and an abandoned chicken coop. That summer before we moved in, my father spent evenings and weekends working alongside a group of workmen who somehow got everything fixed and cleaned up. When we finally did move in, one of the painters who lingered to touch things up told Leslie and me that he had found a dead alligator in the fruit cellar. For years I pictured this as the former owner’s dead pet, a hideous dark green creature about four feet long, with a full set of protruding teeth. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s browsing in a New Orleans Voo Doo shop staring at a pile of small crocodile skeletons that it dawned on me that the alligator in our basement was just a cheap souvenir.

2.

2_Beds

Leslie and I shared a bedroom with matching twin beds that we jumped on like crazy to “Whipped Cream and Other Delights” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass until our mother shouted, “Stop that!” from somewhere downstairs, not because she was afraid that we might hurt ourselves, but because she didn’t want us to ruin the box springs. At night, after we were supposed to be asleep, we sent our baby dolls back and forth to each other in a shoebox we had rigged with kite string between our bedposts. My doll was a gift from my grandmother, given to me the day my mother went to the hospital to deliver my younger brother Stephen. I was two and a half. It was March and I named the doll Jingle Bells and washed her hair in a bowl of 7-Up causing some sort of chemical burn that made her acrylic hair stand straight up on end like a dish brush. “What on earth happened to Jingle Bells hair?” my mother had asked. “She was in a big wind.” I said.

3.

3_Dress Up

Our house didn’t have a playroom or family room, so we spent a lot of time in our basement. There were almost as many rooms down there as there were in the rest of the house. It was always the perfect temperature — cool in summer and warm in winter. Other than the creepy fruit cellar and the occasional run in with a large spider or small mouse, it was a good place to play. On rainy days we built elaborate forts with old sheets or dressed up in costumes from a large trunk that had belonged to our great grandmother. She had abandoned our mom’s mother when she was ten to join the San Francisco Opera Company as its first soprano. “She just up and left in the middle of the night,” said my mother. “She might as well have run off to join the circus.” But somehow we had ended up with her things—heavily brocaded floor length dresses shimmering with iridescent threads, flowing ostrich feather boas, luxurious fur muffs and mink stoles with scrunched up faces at one end and tiny wrinkled feet with claws at the other—and they were wonderful!

4.

4_Shameful room

As we we got older, our mother fell into the habit of communicating her grievances with us by leaving long handwritten notes taped to our door, the bathroom mirror, or on one of our beds. She would work herself into a slow boil over some minor infraction while we were at school and sit down with a sheet of loose leaf paper and really let us have it. These notes often started something like this: “Girls, Your room is SHAMEFUL! It is disgusting to me.” She always included a lengthy and detailed list of every last thing she had been doing to ensure that ours was a privileged life. Sometimes we would take the note down, go into our room and disintegrate into laughter, poring through it line by line, reading it aloud to each other until we had exhausted ourselves in amusement. Other times we left the note taped to the door untouched and pretended we hadn’t bothered to read it, a strategy that proved equally effective in exasperating her to no end.

 

 

5.

5_Waldorf Salad

Leslie and I once enraged my mother to the point that she threw a salad at us. Actually, she threw the salad at Leslie, but that’s only because I had already been instructed to go to my room. I was on my way up the stairs with a perfect view through the open door into the kitchen to see the glob of Waldorf salad rocket by Leslie’s right ear, its neatly cut chunks of apple, celery, and walnuts all carefully folded together with two large scoops of Miracle Whip bonding the mass in flight until it went “splat” on the wall behind her.   “No one wants to eat salad that you girls have been picking at with your dirty fingers,” said my mother as her first warning. What sent her over the edge, however, was not that we had picked at the salad with our fingers, but that we had picked out every last one of the exorbitantly priced seedless red grapes that were her favorite part of the recipe.

6.

6_Maidenform

Towards the back of our property, we had a large unfenced vegetable garden with everything from hearty, mature asparagus plants to tomatoes and strawberries. We had no trouble with deer, but woodchucks were a big problem and my father lured them into Hav-A-Heart traps and later gassed them in a Hefty bag behind the garage. On hot summer afternoons, Leslie and I helped ourselves to whatever was ripe, savoring the unwashed taste of sun on the warm treats we found. Long after we had moved on to something else we could hear my mother shouting from the garden, “Who ate all the snow peas and left their chewed up shells right on the walkway? You girls come here right now!” When we got back to the garden, we inevitably found our mother, standing with one hand on her hip the other holding a trowel, stripped down to nothing but her Maidenform bra, some cotton shorts and a pair of sneakers. “We were going to have those for dinner!” she said.

 

7.

7_Sandwiches

Both avid gardeners, my parents spent a great deal of time planning, plotting, planting and ordering around a whole posse of yard boys—all big, strong athletic high school kids —who lurked about the property pushing wheelbarrows, weeding, and spreading mulch on weekends between May and August each year. It was an enormous amount of work to maintain and it was expected that Leslie and I would help despite our lack of interest in anything except the high school boys. We were too young to capture their interest, so to see if we could get their attention, we offered to fix their lunches for our mother, who was astonished at our willingness to pitch in. It was Leslie’s idea to shake a thick layer of black pepper onto their tunafish sandwiches and lace their Cokes with heaping tablespoons of salt. When they stopped for lunch, we watched them wolf down their food from a distance, waiting in giddy anticipation for one of them to gag or spit a mouthful of Coke into the grass. But they didn’t notice anything wrong with their food, and certainly didn’t notice the two of us.

8.

At 8_Rope ladderone point my grandfather brought over a rope ladder—an apparatus made of two thick pieces of rope connected by 20 or so wooden rungs. He and my father, who never once tried to climb it, tied it to the branch of a large red maple and secured it a huge stake they drove into the ground about 15 feet away. It was one of those impossible ladders that carnival people set up as a big profit center, charging five dollars for each futile attempt at reaching the top. It required perfect balance and pressure from both hands and feet applied at exactly the right time to avoid flipping over. My mother was an expert at climbing it. After watching umpteen neighborhood kids flip over on their backs after reaching only the fourth rung, she would eventually emerge from the back door by the kitchen in her Bermuda shorts, penny loafers and knee socks, slamming the screen door behind her and shout, “Let me show you kids how it’s done.” Then she’d scramble right up to the top rung, dramatically twirl herself over and drop to the ground landing softly on her feet like gymnast or a trapeze artist.

 

9.

My 9_Bird of paradise father always had a big project going. One of his early installations was a greenhouse he attached to the south side of the house built from a kit he had found in a catalog. It was connected to a winterized porch where he kept his marble topped liquor cabinet filled with single malt scotches and gin. In the summertime, the greenhouse was mostly empty, its potted plants all moved outdoors to various patios and decks. In the winter it was humid and earthy smelling, crammed full of fragrant gardenias, brilliant hibiscus and passion flowers, citrus trees laden with fruit, and one moribund bird of paradise plant that had belonged to my grandmother before she died.

“This god damn thing takes up too much space,” my father said whenever faced with the prospect of moving it either indoors or out. “It’s nothing but a nuisance – it has never once bloomed.” But my mother insisted that we keep it despite its apparent deficiencies. “We can’t get rid of that, it belonged to my mother!” And then one day, exactly seven years after my grandmother’s death, without any forewarning, the plant produced not one, but seven brilliant orange and blue flowers, and it continued to blossom for years after.

10.

10_Birthday

On my sixth birthday, during my party with sparkly hats, favors and an extravagant scavenger hunt all carefully orchestrated by my mother, my brother Stephen who was three, climbed high into the huge white pine tree zig-zagging from branch to branch until he eventually fell out of it and thumped onto the thick bed of pine needles 20 feet below. The fall knocked the wind out of him, during which time the party came to a gasping halt. There was no blood, but for the rest of the day, my mother could not stop talking about what kind of idiot would leave a garden hoe lying on the ground, its sharp point facing straight up less than a foot from where Stephen’s head had landed.

 

 

 

11.

11_Balcony

One summer when I was in my teens, my father surprised my mother by suggesting that she take my sister Leslie and me to Chicago for a girls’ weekend. “I’ve had my secretary arrange for you to stay at the Drake Hotel,” he said. “There’s a Manet show going on at the Art Institute and maybe you girls can do some back-to-school shopping.” The offer seemed suspicious, but wasn’t something any of us was about to refuse. When we returned home we discovered that my father had installed a new balcony with French doors right off the side of my parents’ bedroom and my mother was enraged. Months before our girls weekend in Chicago, she thought she’d put an end to it. “I don’t want a balcony,” she had said. “I don’t want to sit out there in in my robe. You’re just going to make a huge mess.”

 

12.

12_Short Sheet Bed

One of my father’s early projects was to convert the garage, a standalone structure oddly situated behind the house, into a guest house. He took me with him on scouting missions to find wood siding and hand cut beams from dilapidated barns way out in the countryside. He put radiant heating beneath the flagstone floors, installed a wood stove and set up a stereo system where we kids could play our awful rock music out of his ear shot. The Little House, as we called it, afforded us a level of freedom and privacy we probably didn’t deserve. One afternoon I was out there sprawled across the sofa blaring the radio when my mother burst through the side door with an armful of bed linens. “John McGoff is coming for dinner and to spend the night,” she said. Mr. McGoff was my father’s most important client. So we unfolded the sofa bed and stretched the fitted sheet across the mattress. We spread the top flat sheet over it and as I began to tuck the bottom edge in my mother said, “No, not like that. Tuck in the top edge first. We’re going to short sheet the bed.”

 

13.

13_Primrose

Over the years, my family developed a summertime ritual. Every evening at dusk, just as we finished supper by the pool, we gathered at the edge of my mother’s perennial garden to watch her evening primroses bloom. The plants themselves looked like nothing more than a roadside weed, but in my mother’s garden they were one of the main attractions. As soon as one of the buds began to twitch, my mother shouted, “Look, they’re starting!” as if we weren’t kneeling right there next her and were in danger of missing the show. It took less than a minute for each bud to unfurl itself into a simple yellow blossom. It was like watching a time-lapsed film, only this was in magical, marvelous, real time. And as soon as all the primroses had bloomed, my mother would look at whoever had lingered the longest and say, “It’s your night to do the dishes. I’m going take a swim.”

Several years after I was married and living Connecticut, my parents abruptly decided to sell the house and move to Wyoming. My last weekend there was spent sorting through things, deciding what to do with nearly 30 years of stuff. Before leaving for the last time, my mother helped me dig up one of her evening primroses and pack it in small paper lunch bag to take back to my pathetic, deer-ridden garden in Connecticut. I cried the whole way back on the plane, staring out the window as we flew east into the darkness. When we landed and I gathered my things, I discover that the evening primrose, knowing it was time, had bloomed in its bag.

 

Christine Juneau lives in Weston, Connecticut with her husband and two children.  She is Brain, Child’s staff artist. A former investment research executive, she now works as a business advisor when not painting, writing and drawing cartoons.  You can see some of her work on her cartoon blog at www.christinejuneau.com.

 

 

 

 

Our Friendship Blog Series

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On Friendship

By Sarah Kilch Gaffney

They are so much of why you are back on your feet, of how you are able to continue moving through life. 

 

 

 

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One of the Girls

By Dawn S. Davies

I appreciate the importance of friendship, but I’ve not been the kind of woman who has a posse of besties who meet on Thursday nights for cocktails. 

 

 

 

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The Rise and Fall of the Single Moms Club

By Stephanie Sprenger

I struggle to shake off the unrealistic notion that all friendships I form during adulthood should be “forever friendships.” 

 

 

 

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Perfectly Imperfect

By Elizabeth Richardson Rau

Best friends often don’t come in the prettiest packages. The true friends I have made are like me, willing to show dents, battle wounds and flaws. 

 

 

 

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The Girl From Anthropologie

By Juli Fraga

Like many childhood relationships, my friendship with Abby had simply run its course.

 

 

 

Friends picTen Thoughts on Being a Mom Friend

By Karen Dempsey

Friendships can be temporary and still rich and authentic. When it stops working, whatever the reason, give yourself and your (now-fading) friend a break. It’s part of life. Move on – and remember what you gave to each other while it worked.

 

 

Illustration by Christine Juneau

Stay-At-Home-Mom Bingo

Stay-At-Home-Mom Bingo

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Mindi Wisman is an American social worker and freelance writer living with her family in Brussels, Belgium. Her work has appeared on The Toast, One Chic Mom, and World Mom’s Blog. She has worked as a mental health therapist, sports psychologist, and academic researcher, but is still trying to make her dream of being a back-up singer to Dolly Parton come to fruition. You can find her on Twitter.

Illustration: Christine Juneau

A Rundown of Tonight’s In-n-Out Dining Experience, For Your Entertainment

A Rundown of Tonight’s In-n-Out Dining Experience, For Your Entertainment

By Shawnee Barton

Ketchup2

1.  While I’m ordering, both my children disappear. I leave my card and instructions to “Just add some stuff” with a perplexed cashier. Then I fetch them out of men’s room.

2.  Dylan (my two-year-old son) runs laps around the restaurant.

3.  I stop him by enticing them both to try the ketchup pump. Charlie (my four-year-old daughter) is licking ketchup off every finger, lollipop style, within 3 pumps. So much for creative parenting.

4.  Back to the bathroom (women’s this time) to wash hands.

5.  I wrangle the kids into a booth. Charlie pretends she is drinking ketchup. It’s funny. We laugh until she accidentally spills the entire cupful down her shirt and pants.

6.  Dylan thinks Charlie’s idea of playing with food is a great new discovery. I see it in his eyes. While I am distracted with cleaning Charlie, he dumps another paper-cupful of ketchup onto the table and starts finger painting.

7.  A table of teenaged girls is looking and snickering. I think, “May you all have little devils and feel similarly defeated someday.” A sweet lady who looks like she’s had a hard life (or a bunch of kids) brings me a stack of napkins. It feels like one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

8.  Everyone is momentarily calm and eating. I get in two bites between helping and refereeing (Dylan is in a phase where he wants all the food on the table. He doesn’t necessarily eat it. He just wants to own it). Charlie asks for a milkshake. I feel bad that her brother stole most of her dinner, so I give her my credit card. She gets in line to order. Dylan doesn’t want to miss an opportunity to play store with his sister, so he wriggles his way around my legs and out of the booth. Calm time is over, as is my dinner.

9.  Dylan grabs my card from Charlie and bolts across the restaurant, screaming this time. Before I can catch him, he tackles a “Wet Floor” sign and splats on the ground in front of two young guys who correctly guess his age. “Two, I knew it!” they say laughing. I smile, as in, “Yeah, isn’t this just hilarious!!!!”

10.  Dylan likes the spot on the floor he’s found, and he’s causing no destruction, so I let him be. Judge me if you will, but I needed a break. He begins entertaining the crowd with a series of down dogs—my own little Iyengar. A lady in line starts laughing out loud at Dylan. She apologizes. I can’t blame her. The whole thing is ridiculous. I feel ridiculous. I am judging me. The tally of crowd involvement is at 9 now.

11.  Charlie orders. The cashier looks and talks to me, even though I am 5 feet away and Charlie is standing right in front of him. It’s as if she doesn’t exist. I hate this for her and wonder if anyone has ever told him that kids are human and that most of them living in this country understand English.

12.  Plenty of milkshake drama.

13.  Dylan creates a new hobby of hiding salt packets in fake plants. When he’s bored with that, he begins a different game that I’ll call “Scale Mt. Booth.” This invites still another table into our drama since reaching the “peak” and throwing something—a spoon, a French fry, anything really—down onto that occupied table next to us is definitely the goal of the game. This, apparently, is my limit. I say, “I’m sorry,” to the saintly group, who hands me back a cold French fry instead of cursing me, and then, “Let’s go,” to my kids.

14.  Dylan takes off again while I’m trying to get our dirty-napkin-tower into the trash bin. Once the table is at a reasonable level of messy, I look up and see him releasing a parting shot—he chucks his little green Croc over the counter and into the kitchen. I run into the galley, grab it, apologize profusely (once again) to a stunned crowd, and carry him—one shoe on, one shoe off—underarm, as one would tote a squirming piglet, through the rain to the minivan.

15.  Somehow, amidst the chaos, Dylan managed to also drink Charlie’s milkshake. She understandably cries halfway home about this.

Shawnee Barton is an artist, writer, poker player and mom living in Austin, Texas. She is currently working on a book about embryos created through infertility treatment. Visit her online at ShawneeBarton.com.

Illustration by Christine Juneau

 

On Suitable Punishments for Your Child Other Than Murder

On Suitable Punishments for Your Child Other Than Murder

By Stacey Gill

humorseries

 

Don’t hassle me. I already have kids for that.

 

I’m writing this in desperation, in the hopes that I may glean some advice from the veteran mothers out there who have struggled and come through similar hardships, possibly even find an answer to a very troublesome question, one that has plagued me for years. This question has come into particularly sharp focus again recently, and I thought others in the wake of a lengthy and trying spring break may be grappling with the very same issue. My hope is that upon open discussion we will share our experiences and, ultimately, learn from other another, finally solving how best to handle this most difficult of situations. One in which you might want to murder one of your offspring.

I’m confiding in you (and Facebook) because I’m at a complete loss. I have no words for the rage-fueled frustration I feel at the hands of my children. I did, however, have many, many words on Facebook the other day, and since I have no intentions of writing them all over again in a clear, concise, coherent post, I’m just going to transcribe my Facebook exchange here. Don’t hassle me. I already have kids for that.

“What do you do when your kid swears all spring break long he doesn’t have homework then on the first day back to school you get a note from the teacher saying he didn’t do his homework?”

It was a cry for help, I’ll admit. I really didn’t want to have to kill my son. I was hoping for other feasible solutions to this vexing and chronic problem. And the people of Facebook had some mighty fine suggestions.

“First,” my friend, Erica, wrote, “the Xbox controllers go in the trunk of my car.” Wait. What? Trunk of the car? Like a mob hit? She continued, “The cell phone gets a new lock number that he doesn’t know, and I hide the remotes for the TV/cable box.” That ought to do it.

“We got the same call today,” she added. Oh, thank God.

I had considered the X-box. It’s my go-to toy, and I explained I was going to take it away, but, really, I blame my husband. He should know better than to take my son’s word for it.

I should probably note my husband posed the homework question to our son around 11:00 a.m. on Easter Sunday, an hour before guests were due to arrive. As I stood at the kitchen counter chopping vegetables, I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply and continued on with the prep work. I figured I’d check his assignment book later that evening, but it was a long day at the end of a long week at the end of a long life of kids bouncing off the walls for exactly 11 years straight, and I forgot.

Erica wasn’t done though. She had much more to say. “I never check grades online. I never even registered to have access.” Never even registered? I pondered in wide-eye wonder. I didn’t know you could do such a thing. Erica, did you ever know that you are my hero? You are everything I wish I could be.

Erica continued. “My stance is simple. He gets the grade he earned. I won’t intercede on his behalf. If he fails, it’s on him, and then he’s REALLY in trouble.” Oh, man, I wouldn’t want to be in that house when that goes down.

But, Erica, was onto something. Because, really, I like nothing better than swiping that Xbox control right out of my son’s unsuspecting hands when he’s incurred an infraction. Still, I’m telling you when I picked him up from school that day and saw the sad look on his little face from the hour-long test prep session he just endured following a long day of school, and I was driving him straight home to meet with the math tutor for an hour, I just couldn’t do it. I thought the Xbox penalty might push him over the edge. It could crush him because nothing, NOTHING, is more devastating to that kid than losing his Xbox. It’s pretty much the only thing he has to live for, and, I thought, 11 might be a little too young to break a person.

While my son certainly can be maddening, he’s genuinely a good kid. When he makes mistakes, they’re relatively honest ones. I know it may not seem like it in this case, but it’s true. When you ask him something like, “Do you have homework?” he checks with his brain and gives the first response that pops up. He’s not lying, per se, it’s just that his brain immediately thought “no,” and that’s what he went with. And being a kid, he doesn’t feel the need to check his backpack or assignment book or anything that might actually provide him with the correct answer.

Even on this account Erica weighed in with some solid advice. The whole problem, she noted, might stem from an innocent mistake on my part, one with an easy solution. Perhaps I was posing the wrong question. Perhaps asking when they will be doing their homework as opposed to if they have homework would be more productive. With just a slight alteration I could sidestep the whole tantalizing opportunity for deception and lies.

Good thinking, Erica.

So for now he gets to keep Xbox, but he’s sure to mess up again, and then I’ll be ready.

What would you do? Take away the Xbox? Confiscate all the Easter candy? Kill your kids? What?

Stacey Gill is the mastermind behind the humor blog, One Funny Motha, and co-author of the upcoming parenting humor anthology, I Still Just Want to Pee Alone.  Her work has appeared on such sites as The Huffington Post, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Mom365 and Mommyish. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Illustration by Christine Juneau

Our Sibling Blog Series

Our Sibling Blog Series

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The Twins and the Pendulum

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By Andrea Lani

But they’re not wizards, just two normal boys—as normal as you can be when you share the same DNA—a pair of pendulum bobs swinging through their days, sometimes crazily out of whack, and sometimes in near-perfect alignment.

 

 

 

 

Saving My Sister

WO Saving my Sister ART

By Marcelle Soviero

I hated visiting my sister in the hospital, but I did, because though her personality had completely changed, she was the same sister I once thought was in charge of my earth’s orbit.

 

 

 

 

They Are Not Half Sisters 

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By Stephanie Sprenger

I believe with all my heart that my children will never regard each other as half of anything.

 

 

 

 

 

Play With Me

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By Randi Olin

Our siblings are the only true witnesses to our childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Home

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By Kris Woll

On that night, in that moment in time, home seemed to be a pretty clear-cut place. 

 

 

 

 

Illustration by Christine Juneau

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