Please, sir, may I have some more?

4:50 pm.

Kids and I get home from school and I make Peeta some guacamole with tortilla chips because he is So Hungry.

5 pm.

He staggers into the room, clutching his belly.

Peeta: (making his best starving suffering face) Mamaaaaaaa, can I have some more guac? I am soooooooo hungryyyyyyy!

Me: No. You just ate half an avocado and chips. Go get some clementines or something.

Peeta: Okay. (Pause) Can I eat my lunch?

Me: Sure…Wait. You didn’t eat your lunch?

Peeta: No.

There will come a day when I will cease to be surprised by my children’s lack of common sense. Today is not that day.

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Overheard at my dinner table

Bucket, to the children about something I missed because I was in the kitchen: Yeah, but you guys would have to pay for it and you have no money.

Peeta: I do have money, and besides, when I grow up, I’m going to be a robber.

Me and Bucket: Really? That seems like a very bad idea.

Peeta mumbles something about “white”

Me: You’re going to steal from white people?

Peeta: NO! I’m going to steal from the White House!

Bucket: That is a VERY bad idea. That’s the most secure place in the whole world.

Me: Peeta, you better hope our house isn’t bugged or the FBI is going to bust in here in about five seconds.

[Pause as we all wait for the FBI to bust in]

Noodle: I tooted.

 

A night in my head

Noodle has been coming in to sleep in our bed every night lately. Sleeping with her is like sleeping with an greedy, angry goat. She somehow manages to take up the whole bed, but also manages to spend the entire night just sleeping ON ME. Bucket usually abandons ship when she comes in, throws her doll over him and climbs in. Needless to say, I have not been very well rested the past few weeks.

The other night, Bucket and I watched the Red Sox until 11:30 or so. Just as he was saying, “I am so happy to have this whole big bed,” we heard her coming. He took her into her bed for the night, despite the fact that I offered to either sleep in her bed, or have her in ours. When he insisted, I didn’t argue. I was going to have a blissful night’s sleep with the whole queen bed to myself.

I fell asleep and then woke up about an hour later to the sound of a car alarm. I stumbled downstairs, but by the time I got there, it had stopped. We have had a wave of creepy skulkers in our neighborhood, and I was worried they were breaking into our car. One thing you should know is that I am paranoid about thievery, but in the middle of the night, I am paranoid about Everything. Suddenly, I realized that Creepy Intruders Were Trying To Break Into My Car To Steal My IPod. I tried zapping the car, but it didn’t work. It kept beeping at me because one of the children left their door ajar. I went to look in the basket where the iPod is kept, and IT WASN’T THERE.

So now I have to go outside to try to lock the car, but what about the creepy intruders? The burning desire to lock the door is eclipsing my fear of death at the hands of the creepy intruders, so I turn on the light and run to the car and lock it. Of course, there is no iPod. On the way back in, I remember the rat infestation in our neighborhood. Now I am no longer just afraid of the creepy intruders, but of a deadly intruder/rat combo. The intruders are going to bop me on the head, and as I am crawling back to the house, my blood streaming down the sidewalk, the rats are going to come flying out and chew my face off. Bucket will find me in the morning, my rigid corpse attacked by rats. I will surely die on my mission to rescue the iPod.

Believe it or not, I survive my 10-foot run to the car and back and stagger back upstairs, where I lie awake, wondering about the iPod. Did the kids lose it? Is it in my bag? Did the creepy intruders steal it? Did the rats eat it? Do we really need an iPod, anyway?

I fall asleep sometime around 2, and wake up again at 6:30 to get the kids ready for school. In the morning, I tell Bucket my tale of adventure and he holds up the iPod, which has been on the coffee table the whole time.

P.S. Last night I didn’t fall asleep until the middle of the night because that fucking Miley Cyrus We Can’t Stop song was in my head. Really, Miley? REALLY?!

This is why people drink and drive

An actual conversation from the back seat of my car yesterday, 20 minutes into what would be almost four hours of driving and 20 minutes after I told Noodle’s teacher that the kids are very good in the car (stupid, stupid):

Noodle: NO! MINE!!

Peeta: Noodle, no! You can’t take all the snacks!

Noodle: Mama! Peeta says I can’t eat all the snacks!

Me: Noodle, you can’t eat all the snacks. You may have half the snacks and Peeta gets the other half.

(Slapping is heard in the back seat)

Peeta: Noodle! Stop slapping me!

Noodle: MAMAAAA! PEETA SAID STOP SLAPPING ME!

Me: Noodle! Peeta is right. You can’t slap your brother. Stop it right now.

(Mumbling is heard from the back seat. I can make out “stinky” and “poopy”)

Peeta, practically in tears: Noodle! Stop calling me stinky poopface!

(More mumbling)

Noodle: Mama! PEETA CALLED ME STINKY POOPFACE!

Peeta: You called me stinky poopface first!

(Both children are crying)

End scene.

Go the f*ck to sleep

Children are supposed to be in bed at 8. At 8:30, Noodle comes wandering downstairs, wanting to chat and demanding to know what is in my mouth. (The answer: chocolate. What I told her: salad.) She is brought back up to bed by her father, who reprimands her and Peeta, who is booby trapping the hallway. This continues every 10 minutes until 9:00, when I hear someone playing upstairs.

“I don’t care who you are, but you better go to sleep before I have to come up there,” I yell.

“It’s just me,” Noodle yells back.

“Noodle. Go. To. Sleep.”

“I’m just washing my cars,” she replies.

“Noodle, you do not need to wash your cars now. You need to sleep now or I will cancel your playdate tomorrow.” (I have been using this threat all night and it is decidedly ineffective.)

“Okay.” Long pause. “But I’ve got poops.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“They’re good poops! I ate vegetables!” she yells back. “Are potatoes vegetables?”

Sometimes I really miss the crib.

Today: A Recap

Things that happened today:

1. Had a battle of wills with Noodle over her attire for playgroup. She wanted to wear nothing but a leotard to school in 20-degree weather. I said no; pants, sweater and socks are mandatory. We compromised with her wearing the “costume” with a sweatshirt zipped down as far as it could go, Italian man-style, sans gold chain and magnificent chest hair.

2. Ishy spent the day running up and down the stairs for no apparent reason except sheer excitement that we had finally installed runners so he wouldn’t slip and slide all over the place.

3. After school, I let Noodle stay up to get Peeta from the bus because we were running late and I didn’t have time to put her down for her nap. After the bus came, the kids were playing with their friends and Noodle took a huge digger off her bike: face first onto the sidewalk. Blood squirted everywhere, but fortunately she had just bitten through her lip. Even more fortunate was the fact that our friend Nurse Lisa was there, who immediately got her some paper towels and frozen strawberries to suck on as she recounted the incident 67,000 times.

4. As we were watching the kids play (and bleed), the dumbass who just moved in down the road came flying past the house at about 45mph, while the kids were standing on the sidewalk. Lisa and I screamed at him and then ratted him out to the cop who lives across the street, who happened to come out in his uniform about five minutes later. We were still standing with Policeman Neighbor when Dale Earnhardt returned, crawling down the street at a snail’s pace, turning just before my house, where Lisa and I stood, pointing at his car. I’m pretty sure he thinks we called the cops on his ass, and I’m okay with that.

5. Despite the fact that it’s supposed to snow 4-8 inches tonight, I could no longer stand the leaves in our yard, so I spent an hour raking. Raking is one of my least favorite activities (after changing diapers and doing math), and now I remember why: I got a blister on my thumb. My hand will surely have to be amputated by morning.

6. Noodle took a late nap and came downstairs in her diaper (which she is only allowed to wear while sleeping). I was cleaning the kitchen and making dinner, so I didn’t put her back in her knickers. (Rookie mistake.) Halfway through dinner, a terrible stench started to emanate from her general vicinity, and sure enough, she proudly proclaimed that she pooped. Cut to five minutes later, when she is sitting in Bucket’s lap and he notices she has shit smeared all down her leg, on her precious leotard and her favorite Oscar the Grouch socks. Fortunately, we had finished eating.

7. After Bucket scrubbed her down, I put her in the bath. While she and Peeta were bathing, I went into my room, where I saw something weird above my side of the bed. I have no confirmation, but I’m 99% sure it was dried up bloody snot. Peeta slept with me last night, and I think he left it on the wall as a special gift. I’m not sure why he left it on my side of the bed, but I’m sure it’s just because he loves me so much more than Bucket.

And on that note, goodnight.

Cape Town or bust

I thought I was a genius when I was planning our trip to England and I realized that we could squeeze in a trip to visit our friends in Cape Town for only a few hundred dollars more. A genius, I tell you! Our friends Daisy and Ed had just moved there and would only be there for nine months, so we Had To Go Now. Obviously. Cape Town is only a little further than Ethiopia, and the kids made it to Botswana last year! Let’s do this!

I was a genius until about three days before we were going to leave, when my friend Rob posted something on Facebook about snow on the day we were going to leave. Snow. Lots of snow. FEET OF FRIGGING SNOW. The biggest snowstorm in years! Maybe ever! Snowcalpyse! You get the picture. So, I called Virgin on Thursday, the day before we were going to leave, to find out what I should do. The highly charming Irishman on the other end told me that all their flights were scheduled as normal. Given that he was so charming, I believed him. (I am prone to doing that with Irish people. It’s a problem, trust me.) Two hours later, I got an email saying that my flight was cancelled.

I called Virgin immediately. I spent hours listening to Pachelbel’s Canon, over and over and over again. I finally got someone, who kept putting me on hold and then coming back. She could get us out on Saturday night. Um, no. She could get us on Trans Aero Airlines. What the fuck is Trans Aero Airlines? Hell no! Finally, at 4, after two hours on the phone, she tells me she can get us on the 7:50 flight to London.

Nothing in the house is packed, except Peeta’s bag, which I had casually been throwing clothes into as I waited on hold. I called Bucket, told him to meet us at the airport from work, and I turned into a hurricane of packing fury. Almost everything we owned went into our bags (South Africa in summer and England in winter, people). I am a maniac. I end up with two huge bags, which sickens me (we are generally very minimalist in our packing), but I Just Don’t Care. I have five minutes to take a shower, and I use it.

And then the cab is late. Ten minutes late, which is not ideal when you are trying to haul ass to the airport and you only had 90 minutes to pack for more than two weeks for four people. Guy shows up, and tells us all about the Very Bad Traffic and tells me it will be $50 to the airport. Sure, dude. Just drive. I cling to Noodle in the back seat as we almost get in a crash AT THE END OF OUR STREET. We weave through the back streets of Cambridge, with Noodle yelling, I love this taxi! And Peeta asking, Where are we GOING? We make it to the airport 45 minutes later (usually it takes 15-20), and Bucket greets us. He had arranged for a taxi that takes cards, and surprise! Shady driver does not! He throws $50 at him and we sprint inside.

We make it onto the plane. Four seats in the middle, kids in between. Children sleep. I do not, knowing it is going to be disastrous, but I am still high on adrenaline and they keep serving drinks. And I like drinks. And I like movies. And I like when the children are quiet.

We get to Heathrow, and go to the desk as instructed, to see if we can get a hotel for the night before our flight out on Saturday. Woman behind the desk is a total frigid bitch. I am standing there, exhausted, with two children squirming, and she coldly looks at us and says no. There is no note in our file. I tell her that the people on the phone told us to check if we could get a hotel. She says no. She calls someone on the phone, sighing loudly and talking intentionally so I can hear her, saying, They want a hotel, because they’ve got KIDS. No. She can put us on a flight through Jo’burg tonight that will arrive tomorrow, but we can’t get on the direct flight to Cape Town and if we want to wait for our original flight, we can pay for our own hotel. Out of the kindness of her heart, she will put a hold on our seats while we try to reach Daisy.

I glare at her and tell her we don’t have Daisy’s phone number (this always happens when we travel and I don’t know why we never learn) and we will have to email her. She glares back and tells me there are computers upstairs. We trudge upstairs, and these are the things I say: I Hate This Country! This is why I moved from this godforsaken hellhole! Fucking England! If I had a knife, I would cut a bitch! God forbid anyone in this miserable pocket of the earth tries to be helpful ever! We should have left you to the Nazis! (I didn’t actually say that one, but I wish I had, because English people hate that shit.)

Most of these things are said quietly, so the children do not hear. Many are not.

We get upstairs, and of course the stone aged computers cost something like two pounds a minute and we have no change. Bucket goes to get change while I contemplate going back down and pulling the woman’s eyeballs out with my bare hands. He gets back, and I get online. By online,  I mean that the computer turned on. I do not mean that the internet worked at any kind of remotely reasonable speed, which cued more comments about British inefficiency (which is one of my favorite topics) and how England is like a third world country, with nasty, evil crones in charge, and why the FUCK does everything cost so much? I may have kicked things.

At this point, the children are withering before my eyes, Bucket is ready to strangle me, and we still haven’t reached the hotel we booked before our travel to see if we can switch our daylet room. We reach them after 47 phone calls (that each costs about a pound each) and yes, they can switch our reservation to today so we can rest before our flight tonight. I love the Holiday Inn. The woman tells me which bus to take, and we go back downstairs to The Bitch.

The Bitch is busy, so we have to deal with another, younger Bitch. Clearly, this one has done very well in her training, because she is as bad as the first, despite being 30 years younger. At one point, Original Bitch leans over to Bitch 2.0 and says loudly (without looking at me), They want a hotel, BUT WE AREN’T GOING TO GIVE THEM ONE. I consider leaping over the desk and kicking them each in the head, but I am too tired from the flight. Bitch 2.0 gives us our tickets and we walk to the bus.

The bus we are told to get is driven by a hideous, greasy man with long hair and the foulest, most disgusting teeth I have ever seen. He looks like the love child of Mr. Burns and a Roald Dahl villain. He immediately gets right in my face when I tell him we are going to the Holiday Inn. Which one? he keeps yelling, and I tell him the Heathrow Holiday Inn (which, by the way, is the official name of the fucking hotel). There are four Heafrow Holiday Inns! he yells back at me. I tell him the woman told me that we needed to get his bus, at which point he starts pointing his filthy, long-nailed finger in my face. At this point, I walk away. I can no longer deal with anyone at Heathrow, which is quite obviously The Worst Airport In the World, even worse than the ones we’ve been to in India and Africa. It is possible I make comments about British dental hygiene and politeness. Bucket takes over, and we get on the bus. Our hotel is the last stop, on the street I told him it would be, and is called (guess what?) THE HEATHROW HOLIDAY INN.

We walk into the hotel, and I immediately ask the beautiful desk clerk if she has our reservation. She does. I almost kiss her. She gets us our room immediately, and then looks at Peeta and asks where he’s from. Ethiopia, I tell her. She is Eritrean. She is happy we have adopted Peeta. She tells us God will bless us. I think that God has already blessed us by getting us out of that hellhole airport and into this wonderful hotel, where kind and lovely Eritreans help us without shaking fingers in our face or exposing us to their horrifying teeth and nails.

The room is clean and has two beds. We sleep from 10 to 2. We get up and watch TV and eat snacks. We reach Daisy, who tells us to come. Life is good again. We get the bus back to Heathrow, and it is driven by a clean, young man who has seen a toothbrush. We check in. We go through security. I am chosen for a random security check. A stranger puts her hands down my pants. I laugh. Heathrow is funny now. We buy the kids chips and candy and get ready for the flight. We are in seats of two, which have more leg room. Despite the leg room, I still take the opportunity to complain about the Fucking Useless Desk Women Can’t Even Put Us Together and How This Used To Be A Good Airline and If I Ever Meet Richard Branson, I Will Slap His Face. And then, we fly.

I don’t remember the flight, which means it must have been okay. Or else I blocked it. What? No! I didn’t drink so much that I blacked out. I wish! (Wait! I remember! I drugged us all! No, I am not joking.) We arrive in Jo’burg and have to go re-check our bags. We wait in an interminable line with a bazillion people until we finally reach the desk. Children are floppy at this point, and suddenly Peeta turns green and starts covering his mouth. Of course. He is going to spew. I pick him up and run through the people to the bathroom, where he pukes. Because hey! Why not? We take him and feed him some leftover candy and Coke and he perks up.

We get on the flight to Cape Town. I share a row with Peeta, Bucket with Noodle. I fall asleep for a while. Saturday at 2pm, 37 hours after we left Boston, we arrive in Cape Town and poor Daisy has been waiting for ages because the braindead whores at Heathrow gave us the wrong arrival time. Despite my guilt at making Daisy wait, I have never been so happy to arrive anywhere. It’s raining in Cape Town for the first time in months, but I don’t care.

We get back to Daisy’s and her kids have put out all kinds of snacks for us. The sun has come out, and Ed makes us tea. We sit and talk for ages while the kids run around, and then they take us to the cafe down the road for dinner. I eat a salad with green things in it and we sit outside and life is glorious.

I love South Africa already.

Who wants a lollipop?

I know, I know. I haven’t written in a million years. I am trying to summon the energy to write about our trip to South Africa. I will do it, really.

But in the meantime, here’s a little update from the Half-Assed household.

Children are being super bad. Children are making my brain bleed.

I say to said children, “You guys, cut it out. I only bought one bottle of wine.”

Bucket adds, “Yeah. Don’t make me go to the liquor store tonight.”

If you are a regular reader, you already know that the children love few places more than the liquor store, and as such, they begin to chant, “LIQUOR STORE! LIQUOR STORE!”

After a few chants, Peeta looks at Noodle and says, “We should call it the Lick It Store. Because they give us lollipops.”

LICK IT STORE! LICK IT STORE!

I think I am going to need more wine.

Out the window

There are days when your child behaves beautifully in public. When people compliment you on your child’s behavior and you nod, bashfully, as if you don’t already know your child is frigging awesome. When the child acts his or her age or even older. When they look waitresses in the eye and ask for food saying, “May I please have…” and thanking them profusely. When you’re walking down the street and he or she yells to the guys shoveling the street, “Good job, guys!” and the guys are delighted.

And then there are days when your daughter’s teacher calls you the night before school to say that school is cancelled because all the other kids are sick (F you, flu!) and you have an appointment with a pulmonologist to discuss your ongoing hacking cough. It’s too late to cancel, so you bring her to the appointment, praying that she will behave.

And she does, at first. She is sweet and charming and so articulate that the doctor doesn’t believe you that she is only two. And you start to become the bashful proud parent,when the doctor curses you. You are talking about how huge she was at birth, and how she’s only 8th percentile for weight now, and the doctor says, “She’s not eighth percentile where it counts.”

And then (of course),  she starts to misbehave. Small things, at first. She is squirming around in your lap and she refuses to sit in the chair and play with the iPod like a good 21st century child. Then she takes off her socks and boots. Then she wriggles down to the ground and starts to run around barefoot. Then she gets into the trash can. Then she climbs back up and when you try to get her to put her boots back on, she throws them across the room instead. And you are simultaneously sad and glad that you are in a windowless room, because you would have thrown her out without a second thought.

Through it all, the doctor remains gracious and kind, which almost makes it worse. You make a joke about how your other child is adopted and much better behaved because he didn’t inherit these bad genes (which obviously come from your husband). He laughs. She opens the top of the trash can again and tries to climb in. You are unable to scream at her, because you don’t want to seem like an abusive parent and be reported to DSS. And so instead, you just look incompetent and kind of stupid, like one of those obnoxious free range parents who lets their kid do whatever the hell they want with no repercussions at all. And you just keep saying, “Noodle, no! No treats for you after this!” and hoping that the doctor doesn’t pity you. Which, of course, he does.

And then it’s time for him to leave (thankfully), and he says to you with a wink, “I’m going to close the door for you,” and without thinking, you say, “So I can beat her in private?” And fortunately, he laughs. And when the door is closed, you tell your evil, monstrous child that she is not getting her treat for good behavior because that was very bad behavior. And then, the screaming begins and you are eternally grateful that the doctor closed the door. She screams for a few minutes, but you do not cave, mostly because you are so pissed that she was such a turd and there are no rewards for bad behavior.

The nurse has fled her desk outside the door when you leave the room with your child (who is now exclaiming loudly that “I’m good now!” in a last ditch effort for treats, because she clearly sees you as an idiot), but you see her on the way out. She looks at your daughter and says, “You had a lot going on in there, didn’t you?”

And you say, “She’s lucky she didn’t get thrown out the window.” And everybody in the waiting room laughs.

Except that you weren’t joking.

Dirty double-crosser

So we’ve been trying to toilet train Noodle (I hate the word potty and refuse to use it). A couple of weeks ago, I pulled the little toilet out and put it in our living room. For four days, she was toilet trained. It was glorious. Then she changed her mind.

Noodle is stubborn and/or evil enough that she knows we want her to do it, so she won’t. The other day, I had the following conversation with her as I was changing her diaper:

me: Oh, God, Noodle. Your poop is so nasty. Won’t you just please use the shinte (Amharic word for toilet)?

Noodle: Nope. Never.

me: What if I got you a present?

Noodle: I like presents. I want a stroller.

me, thinking, Score! I was already getting you a stroller for Christmas! You have walked right into my evil plot!: Hmm, maybe. But only if you start using the toilet.

Noodle: Yes. I will pee and poop in the toilet. You will get me a stroller.

me: You have to do it every day, you know. You have to wear knickers (I also hate the word panties. Oh Gawd, it pains me even to type it) and no dappies (Diapers. Man, we talk weird around here) and use the shinte.

Noodle: Okay.

me: You have to thumb swear (sacred Ethiopian ritual wherein you click thumbs and then kiss them).

We thumb swear.

me: Yay!

Noodle: Yeah, I’m not going to do that. You have to buy me TWO strollers.