I Should Have Gone to Five Guys…

“You know when it’s been so long since you’ve exercised that you’ll make every excuse not to? And all you can think about is a burger from 5 Guys? Yep. That.”

I posted that on my Facebook page last Saturday morning. And I meant every word.

We are deep into M-A-Y. Growing up, it was my favorite month. The azaleas bloom hot pink, the bedroom windows stay open all night, we are a handful of days away from summer vacation, and my birthday kicks off the month in celebratory fashion.

Now that I’m a parent, I recognize May for what it is. The month of allergies, field trips, party planning, permission slips, and track meets that overlap with lacrosse games.

5guys

In May, I did this…

3rd grade mother/son overnight camping trip

3rd grade mother/son overnight camping trip

this…

5th Grade Reading Olympics Competition

5th Grade Reading Olympics Competition

this…

Boychoir Rumpelstiltskin performance. Unfortunately, yes, the ax is ours.

Boy choir Rumpelstiltskin performance. Unfortunately, yes, the ax is ours.

this…

Mother's Day Tea

Mother’s Day Tea

this…

Ringing Rocks field trip. Boys + Hammers + Boulders = Perfection

Ringing Rocks field trip. Boys + Hammers + Boulders = Perfection

this…

Meet Chuck, our newest family member. Acquired Family Night at the Book Fair.

Meet Chuck, our newest family member. Acquired Family Night at the Book Fair.

this…

Our 4th and final Pre-K Ocean Show

Our 4th and final Pre-K Ocean Show

I also made it to the school’s Imagineering Lab to see the Kenyan’s robotics project. And I enjoyed both performances of the 2nd and 3rd grade chorus. I have no photographic evidence of these events. But I was present.

Every single ounce of it was awesome. I cried happy tears like a gazillion times. I cried right smack in the middle of the 3rd grade campfire in front of the Kenyan, his hunky teacher, his entire class, and their Moms. So that wasn’t embarrassing at all.

But, so help me Jesus, the May calendar with children makes it near impossible to sleep, shower, or exercise.

Which is how I found myself fantasizing about a burger from 5 Guys at 10AM on Saturday morning.

But I’m a clever girl.

I realize 5 Guys doesn’t sell burgers until 11AM.

I have time to spare.

I may as well do a kettlebell workout.

B&B is with the Kenyan at a track meet. Waldorf relaxes on the sofa with Minecraft. The Interrogator and the Verb are engaged in Lego play. So, I set myself up in my home gym. Which is code for my family room. Where Waldorf is chillaxin and the younger two are throwing Legos. I shove puzzle pieces and toys under the sofa. Then push the four laundry baskets containing clean, folded clothes against the wall. Pop in a kettlebell DVD. And put on my iPod.

The first song is a Rihanna tune. I skip to the next song. Also a Rihanna song. Skip ahead again. Rihanna once more.

Mother of pearl.

B&B has been using my iPod again.

I suffer through 40 minutes of kettlebells. Which, though challenging, is easier to endure than 40 minutes of Rihanna.

I should go directly upstairs to shower. But I know we have that new jump rope out back, and maybe I’ll give it a whirl while I’m warmed up. And by jump rope, I mean nautical rope that is both heavy enough and thick enough to secure a cruise ship to a port of call.

B&B is in the throes of a gardening project and, for some ungodly reason, a giant, clear, plastic tarp hangs from the ceiling of our covered patio. I sigh and drag the heavy rope to a spot that I hope is clear of the plastic sheeting. Fingers crossed.

And ONE ROTATION,

OOOOOF!

And TWO ROTATIONS,

This mother fucker is HEAVY!

And THREE ROTATIONS,

OW, my wrists!

And FOUR ROTATIONS,

CAN’T BREATHE!

And FIVE ROTATIONS,

FUCK THIS.

And SIX ROTATIONS,

I’M BAILING!

My right foot lands on the rope…which is the approximate width of an elephant’s thigh…and my ankle rolls. I gasp in pain and land in a heap on the ground. Tangled in B&B’s plastic garden sheeting.

So I am on crutches for the rest of this bastard month.

I can’t say I’m  enjoying my new status as a You Tube phenom.

My video debut

I should have gone to Five Guys.

On Mother’s Day…

I awoke this morning…after 10 consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep…yep,

10 CONSECUTIVE HOURS OF UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP

to the footsteps and whispers of the four boys who inhabit every corner of my home and every inch of my heart. Executing my annual Mother’s Day breakfast in bed, orchestrated by B&B.

I’m busier than I’ve ever been. With all things children. Occasionally, I require 10 consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep in order to recover. And I have to remind myself, in the midst of the chaos, how lucky I am.

I have a guest post on Scary Mommy today . Reminding myself how lucky I am. Jill is so lovely for running it. I would be thrilled if you read me there today.

photo (13)

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you “drat” Moms…

The Movie Theater Experience. With Children.

Are you gonna say something?

I text my reply: No.

BANG.

Shit.

I quickly text him these words: And again.

He replies: Do you want me to say something?

I shake my head as I type: No. It’s fine. Whatever. I’m used to kids kicking the back of my chair, right? Happens all the time in the car.

The Interrogator whispers, “Mom, are you texting Dad?”

Me: “Yes, buddy.”

Interrogator: “But why are you texting him if he is sitting right there almost next to you?”

Me: “Well, because we don’t want to talk in this movie theater.”

We settle into our chairs at the Tuttleman Omniverse Theater just as the lights dim.

BANG.

Goddamn this kid behind me.

The opening scene shows a boat on the water. The Interrogator leans very close to my ear and whispers: “When’s it gonna happen, Mom?”

Me: “When’s what gonna happen?”

Interrogator: “When’s that boat gonna sink?”

Me: “The Titanic?”

Interrogator: “Yeah.”

BANG.

Motherfucker.

Me: “It already sank. It’s at the bottom of the ocean.”

Interrogator: “The real ocean or the ocean in this movie?”

Me: “Both.”

Interrogator: “Are we gonna see it?”

BANG.

Son of a bitch.

Me: “See the boat or see it sink?”

Interrogator: “See the boat when it sinks?”

Me: “After it sinks or while it sinks?”

Interrogator: “While it sinks?”

Me: “No, it happened already.”

Interrogator: “In this movie it happened?”

Me: “No. Before this movie.”

Interrogator: “Then what boat is that?”

Me: “That boat is full of scientists. They are going to take a smaller boat to the bottom of the ocean.”

BANG.

Piece of shit.

Interrogator: “What for?”

Me: “To see the Titanic. It’s down there.”

Interrogator: “Where are all the people?”

Me: “The scientists are getting on the little boat now.”

Interrogator: “No, Mom. Not those people. The people who were on the Titanic. Where are they?”

I frown, “They died, buddy. It was sad.”

Interrogator: “They died from going to the bottom of the ocean in the boat?”

BANG BANG BANG

Relentless bastard.

Me: “Most of them died because the ocean water was freezing. It brought their body temperatures down too low. And their hearts stopped working. It’s called hypothermia.”

The Interrogator leans closer: “Oh. I don’t want to get that. That hypothing.”

Me: “You probably won’t.”

His lips are on my ear now: “Don’t take me on a boat that’s gonna sink, OK, Mom?”

titanic

I nod my head, “I’ll try not to. Let’s watch now, OK?”

Interrogator: “But what happened to the bodies, Mom? After they died?”

Me: “Oh, I don’t know. Probably they became part of the earth again.”

BANG.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

Interrogator: “Mom, this is boring.”

Me: “Wait, they’re almost at the Titanic. This is the cool part.”

Interrogator: “Did it sink yet?”

Me: “Yes.”

Interrogator: “Why didn’t we see it sink?”

Me: “Because it happened a long time ago.”

Interrogator: “A long time ago in this movie?”

Me: “No. A long time ago before this movie.”

Interrogator: “But why not in this movie?”

BANG.

For the love of Christ.

Me: “Because this movie isn’t about that. No more talking. Let’s watch.”

Interrogator: “It’s about the Titanic, Mom, right?”

Me: “Yes.”

Interrogator: “So I just don’t understand why we don’t see it sink. I really want to see it sink, Mom.”

Me: “Shhh. Let’s watch. They’re steering the little boat closer to the Titanic now. And that is very dangerous.”

Interrogator: “Oh, I know why it’s dangerous! Cuz of the angler fish.  And their sharp teeth, Mom. Angler fish have sharp teeth like this, Mom.”

BANG.

Should I shoot a dirty look behind me?

Interrogator: “Look at me, Mom, Look at my sharp teeth.”

I shake my head: “I can’t see your teeth in the dark.”

Me: “Use your phone to take a picture of my sharp teeth.”

Me: “After the movie. Let’s watch.”

BANG.

Dear God Almighty.

Interrogator: “Do you have any more of that licorice?”

Me: “I don’t.”

Interrogator: “Does Dad?”

Me: “I don’t think so. Let’s watch.”

BANG BANG

Would they even see me give a dirty look in the dark?

I point to the screen, “There is it! There’s the Titanic!”

Interrogator: “Where?”

Me: “That thing with seaweed on it.”

Interrogator: “That’s not a boat.”

Me: “It’s all that’s left of the boat. It’s been at the bottom of the ocean for 100 years!”

The Interrogator announces proudly: “I’m going to live to be 100 years old.”

I smile in the dark theater: “I hope you do. You’d better start eating your vegetables.”

I don’t have to see him to know his nose is crinkling as he replies: “I don’t like vegetables.”

Me: “You need them if you’re gonna be around for 93 more years.”

Interrogator: “Are you gonna live to be 100, Mom?”

I hope not.

Me: “I don’t think so, honey. Let’s watch the movie. Verb, sit down.”

Interrogator: “When we will see the angler fish?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Interrogator: “What if an angler fish broke through the glass of that boat?”

Me: “Oh, that would be awful. And scary.”

Interrogator: “Is that gonna happen?”

Me: “I don’t think so. Not in this movie.”

Interrogator: “How do you know? Did you see this movie already?”

Me: “No. Shh. Watch.”

BANG.

Jesus Christmas.

Interrogator: “Do you smell that, Mom?”

Me: “Smell what?”

Interrogator: “That smell.”

Me: “What smell?”

Interrogator: “I farted.”

On the other side of me, the Verb says: “Something smells not good.”

The Interrogator leans across me: “Guess what it is, Verb?”

The Verb pops out of his chair: “I give up.”

Interrogator: “It’s my fart, Verb. I farted in the movie theater.”

Me: “Verb, sit down.”

Verb: “Ewwww! Let me smell it again.”

Interrogator: “Wait, I’ll do another one…..OK, do you smell it?”

Verb: “Hahahahaha! Another one? I smell it! You’re sure good at doing those farts, Interrogator!”

BANG.

I wish I were on that fucking boat right now. 

Me: “OK, well, thank you for that. Verb, sit down. Interrogator, please stop talking. Let’s watch the movie, OK?”

The Interrogator leans his head on my shoulder. “Mom, I’m gonna miss you.”

Me: “When?”

Interrogator: “I’m gonna miss you when you’re dead.”

Me: “Thanks, honey. I’ll always be with you though.  You’ll carry me in your heart.”

Interrogator: “And then will you be in my belly? And then you’ll be born again?”

I shake my head: “Um, not quite. I’ll just stay in your heart.”

Interrogator: “Oh, right, cuz only girls can have babies in their bellies, right?”

Me: “Right.”

Interrogator: “That’s good cuz I don’t want a baby in my belly.”

Me: “Shh.”

BANG.

Please, baby Jesus, make it stop. Make it all stop.

Interrogator: “Mom, why’s this taking so long? When’s the Titanic gonna sink?”

Me: “Soon, honey. Hopefully really soon.”

On How Not to Disappear

I had a funny post lined up for today. But my heart has been on my yoga mat since Monday morning. I wrote this letter to my yoga instructor on Monday night, and I keep coming back to it…feeling like it’s a post.

Ang,

What’s the easiest thing for you to do once you’re a Mom?

Disappear.

I woke up this morning before 6. My husband had already left for work for the day.

I tiptoed downstairs and packed the kids’ snacks and lunches. I laid out their uniforms for school.

I woke each of them with gentle kisses and a quiet voice because loud, impatient voices put me on edge.

By the time they got to the table, each boys’ favorite breakfast was sitting at his spot.

I helped my 4 year old pull his shirt over his head, but only a little bit, because he likes to do it all by himself.

I told my 7 year old I was proud of him because he got himself dressed without needing any reminders.

I remembered to put my 9 year old’s medicine next to his plate.

When my 11 year old followed me into the laundry room, I listened to him complain quietly about his 9 year old brother and, instead of reprimanding him for complaining about his brother, I applauded his discretion and reminded me he can always come to me to vent.

I realized I had done everyone’s laundry but mine. So I strung together a multitude of curses as I picked through my clothes to find some pants for yoga. I whispered the curses instead of saying them aloud.

I drove the boys to school and could barely concentrate over the sound of my 4 year old screaming that he wanted me to “TURN AROUND AND GO HOME! I NEED MY WOOBIE SO I CAN SUCK MY THUMB!”  I did not drive home to get his blanket. I did not scream at him. I did not bang my head repeatedly against the steering wheel in protest…but I wanted to.

Instead I dried his tears. And I carried that 4 year old boy into school. For lots of reasons. But mostly because he asked me to.  And because I still can.

I drove 30 minutes out of my way to go to Costco so that I could buy 10 lbs of chicken. Who buys 10 lbs of chicken?  I did today. Because my 11 year old competes in Reading Olympics, and tomorrow it’s our turn to provide lunch for 15 fifth grade boys. He is obsessed with buffalo wings at the moment. But wings don’t travel well. So, I told him I’d make buffalo chicken sandwiches. I’ll be shredding that shit forever. It’s a bunch of work. But I’m doing this for my 11 year old because this is his love language. He isn’t overly affectionate. He’s guarded. But, it will make him feel loved and proud when he shares his favorite meal with his friends.

I swung by the pediatrician’s office to pick up my 9 year old’s prescription refill. I made an appointment for him to be weighed because this medication is an appetite suppressant. I had a fleeting moment of sadness that my beautiful child has inherited an attention disorder. And that the changes in diet and the behavioral modifications weren’t the answers. Then I remembered what an attention disorder looks like for an adult who isn’t medicated. It looks like more work than you ever thought you’d have to give to your marriage, to your job, to your friendships…and still coming up short. It looks like a lifetime of regrets. It looks like severe depression. Then I felt better about giving my son that medicine. Because we are giving him a chance at a better outcome than that. And my boy deserves that chance. Doesn’t everyone?

I dropped that prescription off at the pharmacy.

I rolled my windows down as I drove because today was a glorious day and I wanted to experience every ounce of its glory. My papers flew all over the minivan…the 9 year old minivan that is making an alarming humming noise but has to last us for 1 more year…but I didn’t care. I kept the windows down anyway. And I turned the radio up. And I sang.

I showered quickly, then cleaned and sliced 7 lbs of strawberries. Also for Reading Olympics. These boys eat like fucking kings.

I grabbed 4 water bottles, a vat of Goldfish, 3 lacrosse sticks, a frisbee, a basketball, and a football. I threw them all into the car and drove to pick up the kids from school.

My 9 year old had robotics class after school, but he forgot. When I reminded him, he got tears in his eyes and was disappointed that he’d forgotten…and worried that he’d miss something. I put my arm around him, and reassured my sensitive boy that the class hadn’t started yet. I took my 7 year old’s hand and pointed my 9 year old to his robotics teacher.

I hung by the monkey bars while my 7 year old showed me for the very first time that he is strong enough and brave enough to navigate them. Nothing comes naturally for him except for his smile. He has to work harder than all of his brothers. It makes me worry more about him. But it makes me love him with a ferocity that I reserve only for him. When he showed me that he could climb across those monkey bars, I wanted to cry. I wanted to jump up and down and lift him up and scream to everyone there, “do you know how hard he has worked for this? Do you know about his low muscle tone? And the occupational and physical therapy he’s endured to get to this point?” But I didn’t. I choked back my tears. I opened my arms. He flashed me that smile, then he leaned into my embrace. I whispered, “I’m proud of how hard you worked to climb across those monkey bars. I love to watch you climb.” I chose my words carefully because I’ve read books that suggest I should reward my kids’ effort, not their achievements.

When really I just wanted to say, “Nobody has ever loved anyone in the history of the entire world as much as I love you.”

on how not to disappear

I played tag with my 4 year old. I rolled up his pants because he was hot. I swept his hair off his head. I kissed the white scar that stood out prominently against his pink cheeks.

I let my 11 year old hang out inside school with a friend of his because he claimed it was too hot outside. It was a big deal to him that I trusted him to act responsibly, and it made me happy that he indeed acted responsibly.

I sat on a bench at the playground with a woman who is painfully shy and an absolute comedic genius. She is a dear friend. I laughed with her, and we watched our boys together, and we marveled at their friendships and their limbs growing longer, and the feel of the sun on our faces.

I collected my boys and all of their backpacks, and we drove home.

I stood at the counter to eat my dinner while I put their dinners on plates and listened to them laughing with their father. I was just distracted enough not to know what they laughed about, but tuned in just enough to appreciate the sound of their laughter.

I layered 7 lbs of chicken between two crockpots, slathered it in buffalo sauce, and topped it off with powdered ranch dressing.

I kissed each of them goodbye and drove back to their school…for the third time today…to listen to my 11 year old’s science teacher talk to the 5th grade parents about how he will approach sex education with our boys in the coming weeks. I decided I should tell my oldest son about my period…because I know this boy, and he hates to feel like he’s the last one to know something. If it comes as a surprise to him in class, he’ll be frustrated. I started to get distracted thinking about how I would explain it to him. But I caught myself and reminded myself to listen to my son’s teacher. And I’m glad I did, because I felt lucky. He talked about what a privilege it is to be a part of something so important in our boys’ lives. While he spoke, I looked around his room, and was surprised to find a snake slithering around in its cage a mere 2 feet behind my head. It freaked me out a touch, but mostly I felt lucky again. My kids dig snakes. And this is their science classroom. And there’s a snake in here. And that is sweet. And, speaking of snakes, can’t my son’s science teacher just tell them that their penises could fall off if they catch an STD? Because that’s the approach I’m considering taking with him.

I stopped at the Acme on my way home. Because I told my oldest son I’d make homemade ranch dressing to go with his buffalo chicken sandwiches. Because there is nothing like homemade ranch dressing. I threw in some green grapes as well. To go with the strawberries. Yes, for the fucking Reading Olympics.

I got home and went straight into the kitchen. I finished the dinner dishes, packed the lunches and snacks for tomorrow, and sifted the flour and cocoa for my 11 year old’s favorite cake. Because he also requested his favorite cake for dessert at tomorrow’s…wait for it…Reading Olympics. In the hopes of licking the bowl, he joined me in the kitchen while I put the cake together. I told him then about how a girl gets her period, and he told me for the millionth time how glad he is to be a boy. His 9 year old brother joined us, and he told funny stories about robotics today. He does killer impressions, and we laughed at the ones he did for us. He was particularly wound up because he too licked the bowl from the cake. The two of them made ridiculous faces at each other and laughed in a way that I remember doing with my siblings when we were kids. A way that I still do with them now. And I thought about how happy I am that my sons have one another like we have one other. And how, even though the morning started with my oldest annoyed at his brother, the night is ending with the two of them doubled over with laughter at jokes only siblings can truly appreciate.

I kissed them goodnight, shredded the chicken FOREVA, checked the cake with a toothpick, and finally sat down to write. I should be writing a piece for my blog. But I felt so compelled to write to you.

I am way behind on my blog. I had hoped to have a book chapter to my agent this week. A holy-shit-you-nailed-this-one-Bethany funny one. The laundry is piling up so much that I have to smell it to decipher the clean from the dirty. And I live with 5 guys, so that is unspeakably nasty. The Easter baskets are still sitting on the kitchen counter. There are Christmas decorations laying on the floor in my kids’ rooms, still waiting for me to walk them upstairs to the attic. My parents are coming home from FL tomorrow. They’ve been gone for 3 months, and my Mom asked me to have some things in their refrigerator for them. I owe my son’s psychologist an email. I owe my niece a birthday gift. I have to ship my nephew’s gift…2 months late…to Arizona. I owe my Mom a birthday gift…3 months late. We put our cat down last month, and I want to write a thank you note to the hospital for being so incredibly lovely to us and so gentle with him in his last hours.

I really considered not going to yoga this morning because my cup is overflowing so fucking much I can’t see straight. It’s so far beyond overflowing. It’s like a fucking geyser.

As my friend Nina says, these are first world problems.  First world problems. But my life, like most lives, isn’t without its problems.

Every minute of my day today was about someone else. Every single minute. Virtually every thought. Except for the time that I spent on my mat. I was present for my practice. I made an effort to take my warrior pose a little deeper in my front leg. And my legs are still shaky because of it. Instead of doing a regular handstand, I decided to push myself and revisit an attempt at the bad-ass one armed handstand. And my shoulder shook with the effort, but I heard your voice in my head saying, “shaking is good”, so I stuck with it.

The stress that I felt running up those stairs to class clutching a child’s navy blue golf shirt in lieu of a towel was gone by the time our class had ended.

My To Do List was just as long.

Time was moving just as quickly.

But my attitude was entirely different.

I floated through the remainder of the day with a sense of calm and thankfulness.

I still feel it now. At midnight. As I prepare to throw the remaining 3 lbs of chicken into the crockpot to cook overnight.

The people under my roof rely on me desperately. And I don’t want to let them down. I want to be available to them in whatever capacity they need me. It’s easy to forget about what’s important for me when I feel the pull of so many things they need.

What’s the easiest thing for you to do once you’re a Mom?

Disappear.

But today I didn’t get lost.

I didn’t disappear.

I didn’t forget about me.

I willingly took a break from the madness.

I felt full of gratitude today.

Because of yoga.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Ang.  For being my spiritual bartender and introducing me to this amazing practice. For holding my hand in some spots. And knowing when to let go in others.  It is exactly what I need to anchor me during this, the busiest time of my life. At a time when so much of my life is about everyone but me.

My version of leaning in. Or maybe leaning over.

My version of leaning in. Or maybe leaning over.

XO, Namaste, and all that good stuff,

Bethany

Mom, Are You in There?

My kids begin spring break tomorrow. I’m excited that, for eleven glorious days, my counter will be void of the requisite eight snack and lunch bags that require nightly cleaning and packing.

I’m less excited about how many fakakta excuses the boys will create to interrupt my every-other-day-6-minutes-tops shower.

Mom, are you in there? I didn’t know where you were. I thought you left us.

Mom, are you in there? Where is Dad?

Mom, are you in there? What are you doing?

Mom, are you in there? Can I just please see where your penis is supposed to be?

Mom, are you in there? I have to poop.

Mom, are you in there? I’m hungry.

Mom, are you in there? I have to tell you something.

Mom, are you in there? What time is it?

Mom, are you in there? I have boogies in my nose. I need you to help me get them out.

Mom, are you in there? When will Dad be home from work? How many hours is that from now?

Mom, are you in there? Where are my socks?

Mom, are you in there? Can I play the iPad?

Mom, are you in there? When can I play the iPad?

Mom, are you in there? Is it my turn to play the iPad?

Mom, are you in there? When will you be finished?

Mom, are you in there? I want to be with you.

Mom, are you in there? I have to pee.

Mom, are you in there? My hiney is itchy.

Mom, are you in there? How many more days until my birthday?

Mom, are you in there? My brother breathed on me!

Mom, are you in there? My brother keeps looking at me!

Mom, are you in there? My brother farted on me!

Mom, are you in there? My brother killed me in Minecraft!

Momareyouinthere

Mom, are you in there? My brother hit me with the Minecraft pick ax!

Mom, are you in there? I can’t stop thinking about Minecraft! Can you help me stop thinking about Minecraft? Mom?

Mom, are you in there? I found a frisbee outside. It’s green! That’s my teacher’s favorite color! Mom! Can you hear me?

Mom, are you in there? I know you told me to stop asking for things all the time. And, I heard you. But can I just ask for one thing? Can we just have McDonald’s please? I’m not asking just for me. I’m asking for everybody. So, can we? Mom?

Mom, are you in there? You told me the yesterday before yesterday that I could have dessert after lunch. But you forgot to give me dessert. Can you give it to me now? I’ve been waiting so long. I really want dessert from the yesterday before yesterday, Mom!

I wonder how many new ways they’ll invent to interrupt my shower before school resumes on April 1st…

***

Today marks the last entry…the tenth…in our This is Childhood Series. Lindsey Mead writes an exquisite reflection on age 10. When Lindsey writes about her children, it takes my breath away. Today’s tribute is no exception…

Our This is Childhood writers are Aidan DonnelleyKristen Levithan, Nina Badzin, Galit Breen, Allison Slater Tate, Bethany MeyerTracy MorrisonAmanda Magee, Denise Ullem, and Lindsey Mead. I adore these women and was honored to be a voice in this series.

This is Childhood: Nine

I like 9 years old. It’s the biggest of the little guys. So close to double digits, but not quite there yet.

The 9 year old in my house is cool enough to hang with his older brother’s friends.

But he’s not above playing superheroes with his younger brothers.

Amidst the chaos of our home, I typically find him tucked in a corner engrossed in a book. Any book. A chapter book from the Warrior series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (for the 27th time),  an encyclopedia of animals…even his youngest brother’s picture book, borrowed from the library. He pours over books in silence. For hours. He’s immersed in a world that, 4 years ago, didn’t even exist for him as a kindergarten boy who was just learning to read and write his name.

Our 9 year old boy has confidently…and accurately…labeled himself an artist and a storyteller. I love that he shares my passion for running and writing.

 

My 9 year old is so resourceful. A true problem solver.

My 9 year old is so resourceful. A true problem solver.

But I think it’s the things he is good at that I’m not…like his unbelievable artistic talent…that make me most proud of him. It’s fun to be his Mom. I’m intrigued by him.  I wonder who he will grow up to be.

The amazingly talented Denise Ullem of Universal Grit writes about Nine today. Her daughter is nine, and I get such a kick out of reading about the world of her nine year old girl. It’s a world so foreign yet appealing to me. Please go read Denise at This is Childhood: Nine….

 

 

I Just Want to Pee Alone

Holy crazy year, Batman. And it’s only March.

It feels like only a week ago that B&B hacked every branch off our Christmas tree in the middle of the family room after vowing not to water it for the full month we gave it a home.

Ironically, that’s where this story begins…

So, Christmas came and went. And B&B committed to an outside-the-box approach to removing our Christmas tree. I wrote about it, and my piece appeared on The Huffington Post in early January. A few days later, I received an email from Jen, who writes the blog People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She had read my Christmas tree horror story, liked it, and was offering me the opportunity to submit an original essay to her for an anthology she was compiling.

Jen skyrocketed to blog fame after her Elf on the Shelf post went viral in December, 2011. It resonated with me because I refuse to participate in those elf shenanigans. I view moving that elf around the house as the equivalent of playing the tooth fairy. Every night. For a solid month. And I  am a sorry-ass excuse for a tooth fairy.

Jen’s first book, Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat, became an Amazon best seller and sold over 10,000 copies in its first 3 months of availability.

She is a giant in the blogosphere.

And an overall hilarious human being.

Let me see….let me see….did I want to be affiliated with Jen?

Oh, hell, yeah.

As a matter of fact, I petted the computer monitor when I read her email. Literally reached out and stroked it.

Was I at all nervous about my submission? Of course I was.

But not abundantly so. Between B&B and the boys, there is never a shortage of absurd material around which I can craft a story.

Meanwhile, I’d already been invited by Allison Tate and Lindsey Mead to participate in This is Childhood. They are two of my absolute favorites…as writers and women, and I was indeed verklempt that Lindsey had reached out to me.

Beating on my breast, Tarzan-style, I declared, in my best Oprah-shout,

“2013 will henceforth be referred to as The Year of the Collaborative Effort!”

Then, I floated about my business, patiently awaiting inspiration, both funny…for Jen…and poignant…for Lindsey.

While I was dancing on clouds, I received a text from my cousin. Her Dad, one of my favorite Uncles, had just suffered a massive heart attack, and we were instructed to prepare for the worst.

My entire family and countless friends collectively held our breath and said our prayers for a very long four days.

It was during that time that Little Sister’s husband called me. He and I are super close, but he calls me only in times of crisis. From the mall. When he needs help with Christmas, birthday, and Mother’s Day gift advice for Little Sister.

“I’m sending you a picture of two robes. Which one should I buy her?”

“I’m texting you a picture of two watches. Which one looks more like her? Please reply in the next 45 seconds because I’m holding up the line waiting for your answer. No pressure. Just hurry up.”

Little Sister’s birthday is in May, right before Mother’s Day. And Christmas had just passed. I was still sweeping up the pine needles to prove it. So, I was alarmed by his call.

He told me, “She couldn’t call you. She is a mess. We got a call from the dermatologist today. She was just diagnosed with malignant melanoma.”

“Wait…..What?”

Silence.

“What did you just say?”

He said: “Cancer. I said your sister has cancer.”

I didn’t hear too much after that. I know he kept talking. And I kept saying, “Mmm hmm. Mm hmm. OK. Mmm hmm. Sure.”

I hung up with him and eased myself down onto the sofa. There aren’t many places to hide in my house, so B&B found me there a few minutes later.

“What was that about?”

I whispered, “She has cancer. He called to tell me my sister has skin cancer.”

Two days later, we lost Uncle Bob. We had felt it coming, but the news still levelled us.

Little Sister flew herself and her stupid cancer across the country to be here for the funeral. I don’t really do church. For a litany of reasons, not the least of which is that my mind wanders, and all I think about is how-many-things-I-could-be-doing-right-now. But I listened a little bit that day. One of Little Sister’s oldest and dearest friends, whose voice is reee-diculous, sang at the church service. And my cousin gave a beautiful eulogy.

After the church stuff was over, we had a good old party in Uncle Bob’s honor. A “sure, I’ll have a cocktail in the middle of the day” kinda party. Everyone took turns telling stories about him. We celebrated his life, laughing until tears ran down our cheeks. I don’t pretend to know what happens to the human spirit after we die. But, it certainly felt like part of him was there with us that afternoon. In the anecdotes we told. In the love we shared for him. In the legacy he’s left in his children and grandchildren…and so many more whose lives he touched.

I sat next to Little Sister, whose stupid cancer was an uninvited intruder in her young body. And I found myself hoping that she would be open to receive all of the positive energy and love from the people in that room. And just maybe it could knock that stupid-ass cancer right the hell out of her.

Here is what i thought…

Dear Universe,

It’s Bethany. With all due respect, this melanoma nonsense is downright horse shit. Little sister has 3 kids. And those kids need their mother. So work your magic on this piece-of-shit cancer.

Also, dear universe, if you could help me locate my funny, I’d be super duper grateful. I have that essay due. You know. To Jen.

So, F the cancer. And send the funny. Cool? Cool.

I realize it doesn’t work that way, but the yoga is really affecting my judgement recently.

I managed to pen something and send it to Jen before my carriage turned back into a pumpkin.

Little Sister flew back home, where she had a follow-up procedure and some blood work done. She called to say they’d gotten all of the cancer during her procedure.

Thank fucking God. And/or the Universe.  

Then Jen e-mailed me to say my essay had made the cut for her book.

Holy shit, right?

So, I immediately reverted back to my Oprah impression, announcing

“2013 is the Year of the Collaborative Effort!”

My sweet Interrogator proved the perfect muse for my February This is Childhood piece.

And our anthology, appropriately titled I Just Want to Pee Alone, was just published.

IJWTPA

Several of the contributors to the anthology announced its availability on Friday. When I woke up Saturday morning, I was greeted with this…

#1 Amazon Best Seller. Oh Hell Yeah

#1 Amazon Best Seller. Oh Hell Yeah

You know how it’s great to have the smallest house on the block?

You’re reading the smallest house right now. The tiniest blog in the bunch.

I am supremely lucky to have been a voice in the writing series that allowed me to express myself in a cerebral style. This is Childhood introduced me to a group of women who’ve been an invaluable support system and sounding board these past few months.

And I’m eternally grateful to Jen for the opportunity she’s given me to be a contributor to this hilarious anthology. I will always pet the computer monitor in gratitude when her name appears in my email inbox.

Buy the book. You will laugh.

Don’t believe me? Read this review.

Here’s to 2013, the year of the collaborative effort.

And, as always, F U, CANCER.

 

The Case of the Missing Nipple

caseofthemissingnipple

Verb: “What if I shoot a stranger with a bone arrow?”

Me: “That’s not nice.”

Verb: “No, Mom, a bad stranger. A bad stranger who is trying to take me. What if I shoot him in the eye with a bone arrow?”

Interrogator: “Well, that would hurt. And he probably wouldn’t be able to see.”

Me: “How about we change the subject?”

Verb: “OK, if a stranger tries to take me, I will hit him and kick him.”

Me: “And you can bite him. And scream. But only if a stranger tries to take you. Otherwise, no hitting, kicking, biting, screaming.”

Verb: “Or bone arrows.”

Me: “Right.”

Interrogator: “What if somebody shot a stranger who was trying to take you?”

Verb: “Like who? Like our grandfather?”

Me: “Guess what? My grandfather was shot.”

Chorus: “What?”

Me: “My grandfather was shot.”

Interrogator: “Your grandfather got a shot?”

Me: “No, my grandfather was shot.”

Interrogator: “Shocked?”

Me: “SHOT. He was SHOT. With a gun!”

Interrogator: “He was shot with a gun?”

Kenyan: “Who would do that?”

Verb: “A bad guy.”

Me: “He was in the war.”

Interrogator: “What war?”

Me: “World War II. The one against Adolf Hitler.”

Waldorf: “Adolf? That’s a ridiculous name.”

Me: “Well, he was a ridiculous man. Not in a good way.”

Interrogator: “Who gave him a shot?”

Waldorf: “No one gave him a shot, for crying out loud! He was shot! Pow pow pow!”

Interrogator: “So, did he die?”

Me: “He did. But not from getting shot.”

Verb: “He got shot to death and he lived?”

Me: “No. He got shot. And someone removed the bullet. And he lived. Then, when he was old, he died.”

Waldorf: “Oh, wait a minute, this is your grandfather who lost his nipple, right?”

Me: “Right.”

Kenyan: “He lost his what?”

Me: “His nipple.”

Verb, to Interrogator: “Hahahaha! She said ‘nipple’!”

Me: “I said nipple, yes. Nipple, nipple, nipple. My grandfather was shot. And he lost his nipple. It’s not funny.”

Interrogator: “Did the bullet shoot his nipple off?”

Me: “No. The bullet went into his chest. After the bullet was removed, they sewed my Pop back together and he only had one nipple left after he came out of surgery.”

Interrogator: “Well, what did they do with the other one?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Interrogator: “Well, where did it go?”

Me: “Maybe it was inside out. I don’t know.”

Verb: “An inside out nipple is just weird.”

Me: “Well, anyway, he was a soldier. And he was very brave. And he got shot. Then he came home, and soon after, Lolly was born.”

Kenyan: ‘Was he older than Dad?”

Interrogator: “Whose Dad?”

Kenyan: “Your Dad.”

Interrogator: “My Dad? My Dad is your Dad.”

Kenyan: “I know!”

Interrogator: “You mean our Dad?”

Waldorf: “Yes! For crying out loud! I can’t stand this anymore!”

Kenyan: “So? Was your grandfather older than our Dad?”

Me: “Obviously he was older than Dad. Dad hadn’t even been born yet.”

Kenyan: “I mean when he was shot!”

Interrogator: “Who was shot?”

Kenyan: “Interrogator!”

Waldorf: “OH MY GOD! CAN EVERYBODY PLEASE BE QUIET!”

Interrogator: “We’re still talking about this? Why is everyone screaming in this car?”

Kenyan: “Unfortunately, yes. We are still talking about it.”

Me: “My grandfather, at the time he was shot, was younger than your Dad is now.”

Verb: “And then he died?”

Me: “Well, not right then. He lived first. Then, he died. When he was old.”

Interrogator: “And he didn’t have a nipple.”

Me: “Right.”

Interrogator: “I hope he shot that bad guy back.”

Verb: “With a bone arrow.”

Interrogator: “In the eye.”

*****

This is Childhood continues this week with Amanda Magee’s dazzling tribute to Eight. Amanda is an amazing talent. Please read her here.

The Irony is Everywhere

ironyiseverywhere

“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?”

“No.”

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

“OK.”

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

“Yes.”

“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.

“OK.”

“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?”

***
Ding.

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?”

SON OF A BITCH.

“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.”

“FART!!!!!!”

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.”

“Why?”

“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.”

“Now!”

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.

topdog

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.

Almost.

***

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.

Gulp.