The Irony is Everywhere


“So, can I have a Facebook account?”

I look at Waldorf and immediately laugh in response to his question, “Haha! No.”

“Why not?”

“It’s illegal for you to have a Facebook account. You’re only 11 years old.”

“Oh,” he digests this information.

“And Facebook is my territory,” I add.

“Oh, don’t worry. I don’t want to read what you write,” he says with a smile.

Indeed you do not. You’d be none too pleased.

“OK, can I have a Twitter account?” he asks.

“No again.”

“Why not?”

“It’s also illegal for you to have a Twitter account at 11 years old. Plus, the internet is full of strangers. Dad and I don’t want you connecting with strangers online. It’s dangerous.”


I stand in the back of the school auditorium. Grinning and clapping my hands. Homa Tavangar, author of Growing Up Global, has just finished speaking to a group of girls at my kids’ school.

As the students file out of the auditorium, I head toward the stage, my copy of Growing Up Global in hand, eager to meet Homa in person. Hoping she’ll sign my book.

I’ve seen her picture and know her writing voice. She’s seen my picture and knows my writing voice as well. But this is the first time we’ve been in the same room together.

I smile broadly, and her grin mirrors mine. “It’s so nice to finally meet you in person!” we say simultaneously.

She is warm and engaging. She’ll be back at school to introduce the screening of 10×10’s Girl Rising on March 13th. We speak briefly about the film, and she signs my book.

How do I know Homa? We follow each other on Twitter. And we’ve shared a handful of emails.

Essentially, we are two strangers.

Who connected online.

It’s ironic, isn’t it?


“Kenyan, did you start your science project yet?”


“Well, it’s due in 2 weeks. Maybe now is a good time to start.”


“What are you going to invent?” I ask. “Something you need in your everyday life that we don’t have?”


“OK. So what do you need that we don’t have?”

He considers my question. “A pool. So I can swim.”

“Hmm. Not really an invention.”

“A TV in my room?” he suggests.

I shake my head, “This isn’t a wish list, Kenyan. It’s problem solving. Identifying a need and coming up with a solution.”

His eyes light up, “Well, I forget to take my medicine sometimes. Maybe I’ll invent something to help me remember.”

“Good thinking.”

“And I forget to floss,” he continues.


“Hey! Maybe I’ll build a super toothbrush holder that can hold my medicine on one side and my floss on the other side! Because I always remember to brush my teeth!”

“Bingo! Get to it!”

“I’m going to call it The Remind-O-Tron.”

“It’s catchy, Kenyan. And how can you forget the Remind-O-Tron, right?”


I look down at my phone to read the text I’ve just received. It’s from a Mom from school. A friend.

“Hey, the Kenyan told me he left his science experiment at home. Want me to come pick it up?”


“No. Thank you for offering. I’ll bring it to him.”

I text B&B,

“The Kenyan left The Remind-O-Tron at home.”

“Oh no. You mean he FORGOT The Remind-O-Tron?”

“Yes. That’s what I mean.”

And no. The irony is not lost on me.


In my sternest voice, I tell them, “Boys, we are at the dinner table. Haven’t I made it clear that the place to talk about pee and poop and butts and penises is in the bathroom? Please stop the potty talk at the dinner table.”

“Sorry, Mom,” comes the chorus from around the table.

“Can I just say one thing?” the Interrogator asks earnestly.

“Yes, Interrogator. You may.”


The entire table, B&B included, erupts in laughter. The Interrogator breaks into his 6 year old smile. The one with the adorable dimples and the gap where his two front teeth used to be. Unable to help himself, and thrilled with his brothers’ laughter, he throws his head back and yells again, “FFFFFFAAAAAAARRRRRRRTTTTTT!”


“So boys, Mommy has something very exciting to tell you!”

The Interrogator and the Verb look up at me from across the dinner table. We’re not eating yet. They are too busy scratching the table up with their Lego figurines, who are engaged in battle.

“Did you get us a new Lego set?” the Verb asks in his husky voice.

“Did you get us our own iPad’s?” the Interrogator inquires.

“No. And no. You know how Mommy writes stories sometimes?”

“I thought that was email,” chimes the little one.

“I thought that was texting,” says the big one.

“It’s not email. Or texting. Well, sometimes it is. But Mommy likes to write stories.”

“About us?”

“Sometimes, yes.”

“Do you make me a red power ranger in your stories?” the Verb wonders.

“Am I Captain America in your stories?” the Interrogator demands.

“No. And no. They’re just funny stories. Anyway, Mommy wrote a story and it’s going to be published in a real book!”

“What’s the name of your book, Mom?”

“The title is I Just Want to Pee Alone.”

The Interrogator heaves with laughter and slaps his palm against the table, scattering the Legos. The Verb laughs that laugh B&B loves the most. The one where he sounds just like Snoopy from Charlie Brown.

“Ha hahahahahahaha! Ahhhhh hahahahahahahaha!”

“You did potty talk at the dinner table, Mom. Pee is potty talk. No dessert for you.”

“Ah hahahahahaha!”

The irony is indeed everywhere.

But I’m too excited to care. Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat has compiled an anthology of hilarious stories by female bloggers, and I’m thrilled that I’m among them.

What did I write about? Well, you’ll just have to buy it and read for yourself.

I Just Want to Pee Alone

Don’t you too? Available this spring.

Our This is Childhood Series continues with Tracy of Sellabitmum talking about how different age 7 has looked on two of her three daughters. Tracy is a Minnesota Mom whose blog is one of my favorites. Her pictures are stunning, and her reflections on age 7 moved me to tears. Please read her here.

This is Childhood, ages 8, 9, and 10 continues for the next three weeks when the talented Amanda MageeDenise Ullem, and Lindsey Mead take on those years.

Top Dog

“Let’s play wrestle!” he yells, his tiny body assuming an aggressive stance.

“Let me take my coat off first so that..” before I can finish my sentence, my youngest son has wrapped all four of his appendages around my leg. He holds on with a vise-like grip.

“AHA! I’m Iron Man, and I’ve got you now! You’ll never escape me!”

I walk to the closet, dragging my right leg…said 4 year old child attached to it…behind me as I hang up my coat.


“That’s it. I’m done,” he announces as he tosses his sneakers one at a time into the laundry room. He’s just returned home from playing basketball. His face is a mask of anger.

“Uh oh. What happened?” I ask my husband.

“I’m done. I’m so frustrated playing with these guys. Nobody takes the game to the level I need to play at in order to enjoy it. It’s a total waste of time for me.”

“Why is that?”

“Who knows? They play like a bunch of old men! Maybe they’re afraid to get hurt or something. I’d rather never step foot on the court again than compromise the way I play.”


“Want to play Scrabble?” my husband asks.

I answer quickly, “With you? No.”

“How about Boggle?” he suggests.

“You against me?” I shake my head,  “Nope.”

He’s annoyed. “Come on. Why not?”

“Because I hate to lose. And you always beat me. At Scrabble. And Boggle. That’s why not.”


“This is ridiculous,” he scoffs.

“Stop talking. I’m trying to watch Survivor. Save it for the commercials,” I chide my spouse.

“I wouldn’t be talking if this competition weren’t so absurd.”

I sigh and pause the TV. Thank God for DVR. “Why do you say that?”

He gesticulates wildly towards the TV, “It’s ridiculous that they can’t swallow a grasshopper faster than that! It’s a grasshopper! Just shove it in your mouth and swallow it down! What’s the big deal?”

Calmly, I reply, “I wouldn’t eat the grasshopper. Even if it meant I’d win the reward. And the reward is chocolate. And I love chocolate. I still wouldn’t eat the grasshopper.”

His chest inflates, “I guarantee I would eat that grasshopper. Not only that, I’d eat it faster than anybody on the show could eat it.”

Oh, here we go. “Would you eat it faster than any contestant on any reality show ever consumed any grasshopper?”

He nods assuredly. “It’s true. You know it’s true.”


“Nice race,” he heaves, catching his breath.

“You too,” I reply, matching my husband’s effort to steady my ragged breathing.

He nods behind him, “I took a wrong turn and ran farther than I should have.”

“I was wondering why I crossed the finish line before you did.”

Because that never happens. Even when he’s pushing 100 lbs of combined weight belonging to our youngest two kids, whom he pushed the entire race in the double jogging stroller.

He offers his hand, “Come on, let’s go over and see how everyone else did.”

I wave him off, “I think I’m going to stay here, thanks.”


“Because I can’t walk.”

“Are your legs beat?” he asks.

“I hurt my foot,” I point to the underside of my right foot, searching for the invisible knife  responsible for the searing pain.

“What happened?”

I shake my head, “I wore my racing flats. No arch support. I should have eased my way into them. Never should have raced in them today.”

He winces, “Did you first feel it when you crossed the finish line?”

I smile. “Nope. I felt it a mile in.”

“Why did you keep on running? You should have dropped out!”

I shrug. “Quitting was not an option. After all, I had all of these strangers to impress.”

He nods, “All of these people you’ll never see again for the rest of your life?”

Perfectly serious, I answer, “Exactly. I didn’t want them to think I’m a quitter. Because I’m not.”

He places his hands on his hips and smiles down at me, “Well, I’m sure they’re all very impressed by your effort. I know I am. Now let’s get you a pair of crutches. Non-quitter.”


“I’ll take pop culture for 600, Alex.”

Alex Trebek announces, “Alright, you’ve chosen the Daily Double!”

B&B yells at the Jeopardy contestant on TV, “Make it a true Daily Double! Bet it all!”

I holler at the same TV contestant , “Don’t listen to him! Bet ½! Maybe less than ½!”

He turns to me, incredulous, “What?! She should bet it all!”

I frown, “If she bets it all and gets the question wrong, she’ll have nothing. If she plays it safe, she’s still in the game.”

He raises his eyebrows, “If she bets it all and gets the question right, she takes the lead. Better to bet it all and take the lead.”

“Nope. Better to play it safe and stay in the game.”


“We need to discuss this,” he balances the kids’ dirty plates on his forearms and follows me to the sink.

“Now?” I ask.

“Yes, now!” My husband is nothing if not persistent.

I sigh, placing my hands on the counter. “OK, what do you want to know?”

“What do you want done with your body when you die?”

The Interrogator gasps audibly, “Mom, you’re gonna die?”

I place my arm around his bony shoulders, “No, honey, I’m not gonna die. Not today.”

B&B turns to our 6 year old son, “We’re all going to die. Probably not tonight. Don’t worry about this, buddy, Mommy and Daddy are just talking.”

I whisper to my husband, “Can we talk about it after he goes to bed?”

He shakes his head, “Now.” Persistent.

“I want to be cremated,” I reply.

He nods. “Well, you better tell your family that.”

“OK, I will.”

“Now,” he adds.

“Why now?”

“Because what if you die tomorrow? If I tell them you want to be cremated they may not believe me. They’ll know it’s true if you tell them yourself.”

I nod, “OK.”

He nods, “OK. So tell them.”

“I will.”


Jesus Christmas.

“Alright. Calm down. I’ll tell them.”

Now I’ve gone and poked the bear…

“Don’t tell me to calm down! You know I hate when people tell me to calm down!”


“Hey, Mom, you have to come over here and play this game with us!”

I walk over to stand next to my oldest son, who is almost shoulder to shoulder with me. He is watching his father play a game on the iPad.

I peek over Waldorf’s shoulder. B&B is tapping out a pattern on the game’s 4 different pie-shaped colors…blue, red, yellow, green.  Recognition sets in, and I laugh immediately. “Is that Simon? The memory game?”

B&B looks up to meet my eye. His laughter echoes mine. “Yes! Do you remember this?”

I nod, “I loved that game when I was young! Can I have a turn?”

Waldorf nods, “Sure! It’s Dad’s turn now. Then my turn. Then yours.”

We watch B&B race to match Simon’s pattern.

“Slow down, dude. Just get the pattern right,” I say.

Waldorf shakes his head, “No, he’s right to go fast. You get more points for speed.”

Now B&B looks at Waldorf. Two sets of eyes alight with the excitement of this additional pressure.  Deflated, I watch their delight.

“I’m out,” I announce. And I retreat back into the kitchen, where the dirty dishes await.


Are you confused yet?

I’ve just finished reading a galley of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, written by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  And I found it fascinating.


I began this book with a slight sense of dread.  Last year, I read Bronson’s and Merryman’s Nurture Shock, which resulted in a near nervous breakdown after realizing B&B and I needed a complete parenting style overhaul. Waldorf and the Kenyan will likely need extensive therapy as a result of our abrupt shift. The Interrogator and the Verb stand a fighting chance of turning out half decent. (Want to know if your parenting style needs revamping? Read this excerpt from Nurture Shock, which appeared in NY Magazine.)

As I read Top Dog, each of the above scenarios popped into my head in reference to different points made in the book. The research the authors compiled helped me understand the reasons why my husband, sons, and I behaved the way we did in each of these examples.

  • The youngest child often has the most fight in him. “Let’s play wrestle” is my youngest son’s most often used expression.
  • When competing, men often focus on what they will win. This often leads to overconfidence. May I present…my husband.
  • Women refuse to waste time with losing. Which is why I no longer play Scrabble and Boggle with my husband, who wipes the floor with my rear end in both games. Even though I’m the alleged wordsmith in the marriage. Self-proclaimed wordsmith.
  • I pushed through a race (like a fool), running the risk of further injury, because there were spectators watching. I was running, which is something I train for, enjoy, and typically do well. Had I been trying something new, like tennis, their presence would have increased my stress level enough for me to quit.
Hey, what's this? Look who took 1st place in her age group at that race!

Hey, what’s this? Look who took 1st place in her age group at that race!

  • B&B fits the book’s classification of a warrior, which means he needs stress to perform his best. One of the worst things I can encourage him to do is to “calm down”. That’s going to take some work on my part. Dammit.
  • Men risk a greater percentage of their money when answering a Daily Double in Jeopardy than women do. *Side note, B&B always yells “Make it a true Daily Double!”
  • Additional stress within a competition makes men less emotional and more calculated. While it can create too much stress for women. This explains why B&B and Waldorf rose to the occasion to compete in a timed game of Simon, and I willingly chose to wash dishes.

In every chapter of Top Dog, I was able to identify instances in my everyday life to which the psychology behind winning and losing applies.

And don’t think I didn’t bust out a ruler to measure the lengths of each of our index fingers and compare them to the lengths of each of our ring fingers. But you’ll have to read the book to understand why…

Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing is available on February 19th. Po Bronson will be speaking at SCH Academy in Chestnut Hill, PA, at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, February 20th. The event is free and open to the public.

I look forward to meeting him. I’ve almost forgiven him for my near nervous breakdown after reading his last book.



Our This Is Childhood series continues today with the fabulous Allison Tate’s take on Age Five. Allison is the rock star responsible for writing The Mom Stays in the Picture. Her writing elicits such emotion in me. And the pictures that accompany This is Five are priceless.

Next week, I’m tackling Age Six.


What Everyone’s Doing

I log onto FB, and they’re doing it. All of them. With pictures to prove it.

My friends, family members, casual acquaintances…seemingly everyone I know is doing it.

“We should do it.”

“Do what?” B&B asks.

“Do this,” I reply, tilting the monitor so he can see.

He frowns. “You’re out of your mind. We’re not doing that.”

“The kids would like it, I think.”

He shakes his head. “The kids would be miserable. They’d ruin it for us.”

I beg to differ. “Don’t you mean you would be miserable? And ruin it for the rest of us?”

He shrugs. “Same difference. The outcome is misery. We’re not doing it.”

What is it they are doing?


Everyone is skiing. Everyone but us.


Here are 5 solid reasons you won’t see the Meyer family on the slopes this winter.

1.) It’s fucking freezing.

I can handle the cold. But my kids hate extreme temperatures. They don’t do well in July, and they fare equally poorly in February. It’s important to remember that they are boys, which makes them anatomically incapable of keeping a pair of gloves married for longer than 37 minutes. Back in December, I organized their winter accessories. I was left with 8 gloves of all different sizes and patterns. All right handed.

Say we take them skiing. By the time we arrive at the mountain, an hour’s drive away, the four of them are already 23 minutes beyond the point of knowing where each of their left handed gloves are. The cumulative complaining about their frozen left hands would put a damper on the day.

But, B&B would put them to shame. He abhors the cold. Stick him on a snow capped mountain, where the temps peak at 20 degrees, and he simply cannot function.

Not without complaining more frequently than my kids, who at least have reason to complain. Since all four of them are glove-less.

2.) I’ll lose one of them. 

I’m in the business of crowd control. I do try to share meaningful moments with each of my kids. I’m smart enough to attempt them within the confines of my own home. Meaningful moments don’t happen outside the house. Because the minute we exit the premises, I morph into someone whose behavior closely resembles that of a secret service agent.   “I’ve got these two covered. You cover those two. Wait, I lost one…I LOST HIM! No, he’s good. He’s here. He was peeing behind the tree, but I found him. He’s just pulling up his pants now. I’ve got two. You have two? We’re good? Let’s move.”

Desperate to connect, the kids try to talk to me when we’re out in public. I flash a phony smile, “That’s wonderful, honey!” I raise my eyebrows and throw in a gasp for good measure, “Gasp! You did? I’m so proud of you!” But I’m not listening to them. I can’t. I’m too busy counting them, herding them forward, reminding them to remove their hands from their penises, barking at them to stop touching one another, cut it out already with the potty talk, and for the love of Pete, smile, because we are having so much fun!

If I strap skis to their feet, place them atop a mountain of ice, and yell, “Let’s all stay together!” or worse, “See you at the bottom,” that will be the last moment we share as a family.

I will never be able to keep track of them.

3.) Ski poles are weapons.

I know the Verb and the Interrogator, ages 4 and 6, would learn to ski without poles. In which case only the Kenyan and Waldorf would be wielding weapons. 2 kids with ski poles is better than 4 kids with ski poles, right?


How do you expect my younger sons to defend themselves against their older brothers? Because they will indeed have to defend themselves. From poking…from swatting…from jousting. To equip them with ski poles is dangerous, irresponsible, and stupid. But, to leave them defenseless against their armed older brothers is just plain suicide.

So, I’d have to insist on poles for everyone. Say it with me…”brawl”. We’d be lucky to disentangle them long enough to shuffle them over to the chair lift for the first run of the day. If we actually managed to get them into line, we’d have to wait our turn, which would give them time enough to poke, swat, and joust with one another in tighter confines.  Unable to hear my voice over the wind, and just out of reach of my short arms, I’d be forced to use my poles to disentangle them. It’s likely I’d have to do some poking, swatting, and jousting of my own.

And someone would undoubtedly get hurt.

Because ski poles are weapons.

4.) I cannot run the risk of injury.

The chances of the kids getting hurt…frostbite aside…are slim. B&B is an entirely different animal. He is predisposed to injuries. Particularly in cold conditions.

Exhibit A:

We take Waldorf and the Kenyan sledding one Friday evening. First time down the hill, B&B sleds…sober…directly into a baby tree. Breaking his collar bone. And sending the Kenyan into a temper tantrum for cutting his fun short. B&B wears a sling for the next several weeks. He is unable to lift the children. Unable to wash the dishes. Unable to dress himself. Unable to put on his belt. Unable to tie his shoes. He expects me to wait on him.

It’s a recipe for wedded disaster.

Exhibit B:

After a very long 6 weeks of nursing the broken collar bone, B&B finally feels ready to exercise. He dons his running gear.

Me: “You should hit the track. Take it easy. No intervals. Just get some time on your legs.”

B&B: “Yeah, that’s probably what I’ll do.”

Me: “Seriously, do NOT run the trails. It’s too icy. You haven’t run in awhile. Make that something you work towards.”

B&B: “Yeah, I hear you.”

2 hours later, he hobbles into the house. Jacket ripped. Hands bleeding. Bloody right hip. Ribs bruised.

Me: “Is that fake blood?”

B&B: “I got problems.”

Me: “Are you joking? Because pretending you’re hurt again isn’t funny.”

B&B: “I’m not joking, Bethany. I fell. I really hurt my hands. And my hip. And my ribs.”

Me: “You fell on the track?”

B&B: “Of course not. I fell on the trails. You were right. They were really icy.”

Of course they were.

Exhibit C:

B&B decides to take Waldorf, the Kenyan, and their two buddies sledding. They load up the car and drive to a local hill.

Shortly after they leave the house, I text him…

Me: “Having fun?”

Him: “No.”

Me: “Huh? Why not?”

Him: “I fucked up my ribs.”

Me: “Ha. Ha. Seriously, why not?”

Him: “I am serious.”

Oy vey.

Me: “Shutup!! What happened?!”

Him: “I was at the top of the hill, holding onto my sled. I took a running start. And I tripped over my fucking shoelace, which must have been untied. And I fell down. HARD. Right onto my fist. It hurts to breathe. I think I cracked a fuckin’ rib.”

Me: “You’re saying you attempted a running start, tripped on your own shoelace, landed on your own fist, and hurt your rib?”

Him: “Yes. We may have to go to the hospital. Again.”

Me: “Are you serious? Did this really happen? I am ROFLMAO at the visual.”

Him: “Fuck you. It happened.”

Me: “Well, I’m sorry you got hurt. Again. Good luck telling the Kenyan he has to leave sledding early again so you can go to the hospital. Again. He’s going to have a royal hissy.”

Him: “No shit. You’re not going to post anything about this on FB, are you?”

Me: “Never. I wouldn’t dream of it.”

To fit this injury-prone man with a pair of skis and place him on a mountain and tempt him with the thrill of achieving high speeds while racing his offspring down a steep hill is to ensure that our next stop is the hospital.

I don’t know much. But I do know this.

5.) I’d have to sell a kidney on the black market to be able to afford it.


Even in the fine state of Pennsylvania, where the Pocono Mountains offer free lift tickets all season for 4th and 5th grade students, it still costs a small fortune.

Boots x 6 people
+Skis x 6 people
+lift tickets x 5 people
+ lessons x 4 people
+ gear x 6 people
=Skiing is expensive.

The last time I skied, I wore mint green bib overalls, a pair of sunglasses from the Limited, and a pom pom hat that my Mom wore religiously from 1970-1975. And I was on the cutting edge of mountain top fashion.

I was in Marshall’s last month and tried on a pair of ski pants. Not with skiing in mind…purely to wear sledding with the kids. I broke out into a sweat merely trying to wrestle them onto my body. In what universe does a mother of 4 have to remove her underwear in a dressing room in order to squeeze into a pair of ski pants? Because I was in that universe. And it was disturbing. Boot cut, skinny leg, low rise ski pants? They’re gonna cost me. Because it’s not merely the price of the pants. It’s the personal training sessions I’m going to need to reshape my body to fit into those ski pants.

Move over, Susie Chapstick, times have changed.

And evidently, so have ski pants.

Oh well. There’s always next year…

***This post appeared in the parenting section of the Huffington Post on February 8th, 2013.


Our This Is Childhood series continues this week with Galit Breen painting the most poignant picture of age 4. The same age as my baby. Yep. I cried when I read it. Head over to read Galit, who is such an exceptional writer.