Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Want to Be the Girl with the Most Cake

Long time readers are painfully aware of Parenting by Benign Neglect, my preferred parenting style and one which I have advocated for over the years of blogging.

Come to think of it, I advocated it before I started blogging, I just hadn't dubbed it with its clever title. You know those scaredy cat moms, hovering too closely to their children, constantly reminding them in public places like parks to "stay where I can see you....?" Well, I was the mom rolling her eyes and saying annoying things like "Look, if someone had the poor judgment to kidnap my kids they'd either kill them or return them quickly. I harbor no illusions about how annoying my kids are."

Hovering moms don't cotton much to that kind of talk, I can assure you. Death and kids are not something to joke about around these mommies.

That sounds so condescending, doesn't it? Well, hard cheese. Death is part of life. There's no escaping it and if I can't laugh about that which scares me most, I may as well just wall myself in somewhere with my kids so we can be secure for the rest of our safe, but miserable lives.

I'm reminded of this because last night was the zenith of parental pride and the nadir of parental, um.......dang, I can't even think of a word for it. And it isn't often that I'm rendered speechless. You'll see later what left me so....speechless.

Last night was another proud parent moment. The Dancer's high school had their honors night. Two hours of awards and recognition for the students who really are getting out of it what they put into it. It was really something.

I watched The Dancer being draped with the graduation bling that is now all the rage, and felt such pride. I took blurry pictures and monkeycam video and sent gushing texts to MathMan who was having his own proud parent moments with The Actor on the baseball field. (Unassisted double play for The Actor, oh yeah!)

Sitting for long stretches of time with little to entertain me besides my own evil thoughts and urges , I considered how I would map out the day that was coming to a close. How would I draw it?

Yesterday was a long one. First there was a drive to the north Georgia mountains for meetings to plan a meeting. You heard me. Then there was the nauseating Mexican food-fueled drive through the mountains (I was not the one who ended up sick so shut up, CoP and Darling Sis. No one wants to hear how I ruined the 1976 trip to Cape Canaveral because I was carsick and threw up behind some bush behind a Birmingham McDonalds.). Finally, MathMan and I arrived home from work to find that someone had redecorated the kitchen with barbecue sauce, someone's backpack appeared to have exploded leaving a blizzard of papers all over the living room, and someone left something that resembled a White Castle Cheeseburger sat forlornly and moldering in the microwave, probably forgotten during some heated battle over the television remote. A couple of someones needed a good beating.

I remember the days when one was required to get up to change the television channel. In my childhood home, we had our own things to fight over - a certain spot on the sofa - and a system for dealing with potential conflict. "Saving a seat" was our method for marking territory and solving problems before they started. It worked thus: If you were so lucky to have snagged the best seat in the family room (it was the left end cushion on the sofa as you faced the telly), you were required to call it "saved" as you stood, otherwise that prime spot of t.v. viewing real estate became fair game.

The Spawn are less into the Aylesborough Rules of Sibling Conduct Management required to maintain the civilized "saving" procedures that could, I admit, become rather complicated and burdensome at times. No, The Spawn are action-oriented probably due in large part to their expectations of instant gratification. They live in a different world than the one in which we were kids. My siblings and I would have established a blue ribbon panel to investigate a breach of contract or conducted a trial by peer jury. The Spawn resort immediately to brute force, harsh words and, in a real pinch, shouting for the aid of The Mother. This is, typically, a very bad move.

Now I'm not saying my siblings and I were the perfect little poppets of politeness. Please. We were far from it. However, we did develop and live by those saving rules and by the "calling" of Front Seat by the Door when it was just us kids getting into the car with a parent. Front Seat by the Door was another piece of prime real estate. The person sitting there often got to control the radio.

Now would you look at how I've rambled.....

Anyway, after the last round of polite applause, I was glad to collect The Dancer and Garbo and get into The Dancer's car to go home. Garbo rode in the back. The conversation turned to family matters once more.

The girls expressed some disgust at how much of a seventh grade boy The Actor is lately. I was very dismissive of their attitude. He's a guy, so what? Not satisfied with my response, they pressed on. He scratches his balls! He jokes with his friends about masturbation! He's nasty and gross and ick!

"I'm sure he has cooties, too," I added unhelpfully.

Predictably, they turned on me. First The Dancer made sounds in the back of her throat that resembled wordless admonishments. I'm fully aware that although she enjoys the fruits and freedoms of Parenting by Benign Neglect, she would prefer that MathMan and I rule with more of an iron fist when it comes to her siblings. The nerve.

Then Garbo, who has reached the age of curiosity, chimed in. Not one to miss a chance to humiliate a sibling, she turned her razor sharp wit on her sister. "Did mommy tell you what I thought you should put in the goody bags for your birthday party last week?" she asked sweetly.

Now I should pause here to point out that what she is about to say is completely incongruent with still feeling comfortable referring to me as "mommy." But whatever. They're human. Inconsistency is to be expected.

The Dancer's throaty noises got louder and more vigorous. She pretended to be concentrating on the road. Garbo continued, "I thought you should have condoms and birth control pills......"
The Dancer shot her a look in the rear view mirror. "Poo poo," she smiled up at her sister in the backseat, using her favorite term of endearment for Garbo, "where do you get such ideas. That's soooooooo ......... uh.... inappropriate."

And then she looked at me pointedly, cheeks sucked in, eyebrows way up on her forehead. Mouth small and pinched.

Garbo didn't miss a beat. The little rat. "Mommy. She said something else to put in the goody bags, but I can't remember what it was. She said it when we were joking around about it the other day. Mommy, what was it?"

Oh, I see how it was going to be. I was being dragged in for sure. I resisted by mumbling my response.

The Dancer leaned toward me. "What was that? You were joking about goody bags and you said what should be in there?"


The Dancer snapped to attention, a scowl on her face. I watched her out of the corner of my eye. She took a deep breath and then laughed. "You're sick mom. Edible underwear I can understand, but lubricant?"

I'd like to end it right here, but, well, Garbo wasn't done with me. "I have a question now for you, Mother," came the command from the backseat. Mother? Now I'm mother? The transition from mommy to mother is chilling.

"I reserve the right to not answer. I may plead the Fifth, but go ahead."

"Did you ever have sex with anyone but Daddy?"

I gasped. "Poo! Poo!" The Dancer shrieked. "That's none of your business!"

"I'm not going to answer that question," I finally managed. For goodness sake, I've really not got this boundaries thing sorted out, I thought at I rubbed my temples with my fingertips......

The Dancer was still aghast. "Garbo, that's wrong. Mom's sex life has nothing to do with you. In fact, we should all just assume that she never has had, does not have and will never have a sex life!" she warned.

But her little sister was relentless. "It does concern us. I mean, we know she's had sex three times, but I was just wondering if she'd had sex before that......"

Ah, and there it was. My out. "Nope. Just those three times with Daddy. That's it. Ever. Now let's drop it. You've crossed a line, my dear."

Garbo sighed. I could tell she wasn't completely satisfied with my answer. "Well then, someone is lying to me," she intoned. "Because I heard on the school bus that you don't get pregnant every time you have sex......"

The Dancer glanced into her rear view mirror again and then looked at me. We were thinking the same thing. Of that, I am certain. It's time to clear up some fourth grade sex-talk fallacies.

Some things cannot be neglected. No matter how benignly...............


  1. So worth the read. I remember fighting over what was on TV with my sibs, getting up and changing the UHF dial and ever-increasing intervals until it turned into a four-hand struggle for control of the plastic metal piece that invariable popped off.

    And "you don't get pregnant every time...?" I think my eyes are still bugging in a silent "Noooooo!"

  2. Wow. You manage to stuff a whole lot in such a little space. We'll just leave any analogies to those who are better with them . . . Like your younger daughter it seems?

    First, on parenting. Man, can I relate. Soon after we moved to our second church (ten years ago), after a Sunday service visited by my mom-in-law, I was standing and chatting with someone when aforementioned m-i-l asked me where Moriah, then two or so, was. I said, "I don't know". Sharon looked at me with horror in her eyes and muttered something about "stranger danger". I looked her straight in the eye and said, "I'm not spending my life living in fear that every single person is a threat to my child. We're in the church Lisa is pastor of. If she's not safe here, if I can't trust these people, we'll wall ourselves away." I never heard another peep about it.

    When Moriah was about 4, she asked me if I had "girlfriends" before I married her mother. First, I was shocked. Then, I answered as well as I could remember (there were one or two I didn't mention because, well, we'll just leave it at that). The sex question, tho - yeah, I would probably just say, NOYB and leave it at that. The rest of that - the whole not getting pregnant every time - I'd just insist that's a lie, if for no other reason than to discourage any early grandchildren (although with the genes my kids have, I"m more worried about the chalk marks on the wall next to their beds).

  3. See, in my house (pre-hysterectomy), I DID get pregnant every time. And I admit it, I had sex, um, four times!

  4. Lisa, this is hilarious! You have some smart kids!

  5. First, congrats to the Dancer on all her accomplishments, job well done!
    Garbo.............ah yes, she is the one, she will give you more gray hair and more sleepless nights.........she is the one!
    I secretly love her best!!

  6. Ugh, spare me the hover moms.

  7. You know what kiddo? You reap what you sew! If you are gonna joke with Garbo about lube, then you have to be prepared for the tough questions about who did whom...

    The other day I had cause to end a conversation with Spare (7):"You should never touch another boys' penis. Ever" (yes, yes, I know that if he does decide he is gay we have to shift that rule, but at 7, it is a safe bet to play not to encourage that sort of thing, if you know what I mean).

    Straight away, he shot back to me "Or a Vagina!..." and I waited for the follow up, know that there inevitably would be one.

    "'Cos that's a hole".

    Now THAT's my boy!

  8. I love the Golden family..and the vid was good too! ;) The Dancer is one smart cookie evidently..so which side of the family did she get all those smarts from? ;p

  9. I wish someone gave me a goody bag full of condoms and interested women's phone numbers.

    Seriously, I think more information for the children is better as long as they don't ask too many "questions".

  10. Wow! The Dancer sure raked it in!
    How much did all that swag weigh?

    You must be very proud, and she should be too.

    Tell her congratulations for me.


  11. WTG Dancer.. I know you are proud of her..

    WTG Garbo.. Keep your mom on her toes...lol

    Yes, you will answer that question, just not in the way Garbo wanted you to answer...lol or maybe the way she expected you to answer...lol but you will and you did answer.

    Good job on answering by the way.. a non answer is still an answer..and sometimes is the best answer.

  12. My grandmother, who had 13 children, said she got pregnant every time her husband hung his trousers on the bedpost. I said, 'What's a bedpost?'

  13. Ok, I know I shouldn't, but I have to ask....throwing up behind some dush behind a Birmingham McDonalds? Was that you?

    The lubricant line was classic! You are, by far, my favorite mom figure.

  14. this is hysterical and I'm so glad it's you and not me!
    xoxoxoxo and all the help you can get ;)

  15. i had all sorts of things to say but the video just blew me away
    if this is the result of benign negligence more parents should try it.

  16. One more thing...I just viewed the video. How did she walk with all that "bling" hanging on her?

    Congrats to Chloe, you and MathMan. I know you are both proud of her. (And congrats to the Actor for the unassisted DP!)

  17. How could you not be proud of those kids of yours? and don't those kids just say the darnedest things?

    I'll have to try to watch the video later at work. :)

  18. Wow, what a great family you are. I'm thinking you should film more of your life. I would like to be the proverbial fly on the wall at your house, so could you just film everything?

  19. Your kids will be laughing about this years from now. That's a very good thing. And congrats to the Dancer. Hey, whatever you are doing works, that's for sure.

  20. Congratulations to the entire Golden family!

    Whenever my kid asks me horrible questions (which is pretty much any question regarding life in my early 20s), I look her straight in the eyes and solemnly ask "Are you SURE you want the answer to that question?"

    Thanks to old photo albums that really need to be destroyed, she's convinced I once dated The Crocodile Hunter. I didn't correct her; I was laughing too hard.

    Besides, "He was just a Pothead German from PA" would have been a real letdown.

  21. You should leave out the German Fetish porn and a copy of Maureen Dowd's latest book. That will do Garbo fine.



  22. See, this is how people end up jumping out of moving cars.
    By the time Garbo was done asking the question, if I were the mommy I'd have already unbuckled the seatbelt and had the door open.

  23. I read this whole damned thing and laughed...:) Your first two paras were hilarious...and further down I thought of fighting with my siblings for the front car seat...and losing.
    But the last conversation with your kids is priceless....well done... :)

  24. EEEEEEEK! Some day - probably sooner than my blood pressure can take it - Boo Boo La La will be wondering the same thing.

  25. Does this mean that when the Spawn are out in the world working, you won't go to their bosses and demand a raise for their hard work?? Or go to their college professors and demand a higher grade?? I've heard of that happening and I think those types of parents need serious help and maybe drugs that will keep them at home babbling and drooling.

  26. Man, I'm glad our kids find any combination of parents and sex talk frightfully nightmarish.

    I really do blame the advent of the remote control. These types of shenanigans never happened when we spent so many of our waking hours getting up to turn the dial on the six ton black cable box.

  27. Ha ha ha ha ha! "Mom's sex life has nothing to do with you"...well, except for that one time...

  28. OK, this is why I have nephews and not kids of my own. This was priceless. Just don't let them read any old blogs. Congrats to Chloe on her awards (I will try to watch the video at home, if my computer doesn't crash again). Also to the Dancer for his unassisted double play. I do miss little league season.

  29. Once again it's like we grew up together. That whole paragraph about the best seat in the tv room I can soooooooo relate to. We used to say, "Saves-ease." Then the fighting would ensue if someone did not respect the term and what it implied. Congrats to both your kids for their accomplishments. Your brand of parenting seems to work.

  30. Oh my God, that is too funny! :)

    I think it's better to be more open with your kids, rather than being too closed off. When I first got my period, my Mom handed me a set of "sex ed" books from the 70's and said, "Read these." LOL! :)

  31. You had me at lubricant! OMG! There's a reason I didn't have children-- My wit isn't fast enough, my eyes don't roll high enough and I'd have run away from home during their teen years :-) I take my hat off to you. You do it all with such a great sense of humor! Charge!!!!

  32. Your last bit of this - man, ain't THAT the truth.

  33. This was hilarious, what a great conversation.

    I have been so behind in my blog reading, am happy to be catching up!


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