The Shit Show that is Disneyworld. Part II. Getting There.

B&B reaches across the aisle and caresses my ankle in a gesture of affection.

Me: Quietly, from the side of my mouth, “I’m not really in the mood to be touched right now, thank you.”

Especially by you.

B&B: Acting wounded, but attempting to suppress a grin, “OK. But I have two words for you.” He holds up one finger, “Suntan,” he holds up a second finger, “Lotion.”

Me: Leaning into the aisle towards him, “That’s a coincidence because I have two words for you,” I hold up one finger, “F,” I hold up a second finger, “You.”

We are now drawing the attention of our fellow plane passengers, who are watching our whispered across-the-aisle dialogue like a tennis match. And it’s B&B’s serve.

B&B: Brow furrowed, “You have the better memory of the two of us, so can you help me out with something? How many times did security root through our suitcase? Was it once? Or was it twice? I forget. I do remember they had to confiscate the,” he holds up one finger, “Suntan,” he holds up a second finger, “Lotion. But I forget just how many times they searched the actual suitcase. Do you remember? You have SUCH a great memory!”

He places his hands under his chin and flutters his eyelids in an attempt to make me laugh.

I smile. Because I’ve decided how I’m going to kill him.  

Me: “Stop talking to me, please. If I am trapped on this airplane with you, at least don’t remind me that you’re here.”

He pretends to zip his lips closed, then swallows the invisible key. Which is impossible, because if it’s zipped closed, how does he then swallow the stupid key?


It’s day one of our Disneyworld vacation. It’s not even 7AM. And I am seething mad at B&B.  With whom I’ll be spending every second of the next eight days.

Find a happy place. Find a happy place. Find a freakin’ happy place.

I hand out coloring books and crayons to the Verb, who’s next to me, and the Interrogator, who’s next to him in the window seat.

Me: “Here you go, guys. These trays pull down so that you can color like you’re sitting at a desk.  Interrogator, please stop kicking the chair in front of you. Thanks, buddy.”

With the two younger boys momentarily busy, I’m able to relax for a minute with my thoughts.

Goddamn B&B. I told him. I told him, and he laughed in response. Correction, he GUFFAWED in response.

I look over at the Interrogator, who’s wearing his figure 8 and protectively patting his right collarbone.

My sweet injured little boy. Forced to sprint through the airport lugging his backpack filled with Legos and chapter books because B&B had guffawed at me.

The flight attendant walks through the aisle. She stops next to me. She takes a cursory glance at B&B, then leans down and asks me, “It was his fault, wasn’t it? That you nearly missed the flight.”

Before I have the chance to nod my head in agreement, B&B’s face and hand appear at her hip. He points at me.

B&B: “Actually, it was her fault. Security searched our suitcase…how many times, Beth? Because of the,” he holds up one finger, “Suntan,” he holds up a second finger, “Lotion.” His head disappears the instant before I swing at it.

First I will cut out his tongue.

The flight attendant looks at me. She shakes her head and rolls her eyes.

Flight attendant: “Definitely his fault. And I’ll bet you packed for all four of the kids, right?”

Before I have an opportunity to concur, B&B busts into his best impression of the homicidal freak-show Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs.

B&B: “It places the lotion in the basket!”

Next I will make him eat his tongue.

The flight attendant shakes her head and walks past us.  The lady sitting behind me taps my shoulder. I turn to look at her through the crack between my seat and the Verb’s.  She brings her face close to the crack.

Lady behind me: “It was your husband’s fault. I can tell by the look on your face. They almost closed the door to the plane! He cut it too close.”

Again, before I can agree, her face is replaced in the crack between the seats by the face of her husband.

Husband of lady behind me: “I don’t know. He said something about suntan lotion, and you had no defense.”


B&B: Channeling Buffalo Bill, this time more loudly, “It places the lotion in the basket!”

Me: Venomously to B&B, “You are embarrassing yourself and your children.”

This is a blatant lie. Nothing embarrasses B&B. He is one of those rare birds who doesn’t care what others think of him. And the kids are busy coloring and playing with handheld electronics. They haven’t a clue what’s transpiring between their parents.

B&B responds by holding up one finger, then another, while deliberately mouthing the words, “Suntan. Lotion.”

Then I will cut off his index and middle fingers.

Husband of lady behind me: “See?”

I glare at him through the crack between the seats.

Then I will make this clown eat the fingers.


B&B is a risk taker. And a rule breaker. He is an adrenaline junkie. He does his best work when his hand is held over an open flame. That’s just how he operates. He loves stress.

I am more of the hurry up and wait variety. It’s much less stressful. I try to avoid stress whenever possible.

All that yin/yang, opposites attract stuff is certainly romantic in theory. Toss a couple kids, a few cars, a mortgage that’s been refinanced more than once and over a decade of marriage into the mix? My yin aches to kick his yang square in the balls. 

Neither of us has done much traveling since before we had kids. Waldorf was born just days after September 11, 2001.

I flop on the sofa that cloud-free, beautiful morning, and will my first baby to be born.

Me: To my painfully swollen stomach, “Please be born today. Please, little boy? Please don’t wait until tomorrow.”

I turn on the TV and struggle to make sense of the two gaping holes in the Twin Towers. After the first tower falls, my sister in law comes running through my front door in tears. After the second tower falls, B&B comes running through my front door in tears. Little Sister is hysterical. She is unable to reach Flyboy, her fiancé, a pilot who is in the air when all planes are grounded on this tragic day in our nation’s history.

Me: To my painfully swollen stomach, “Please don’t be born today. Please, little boy? Please wait until tomorrow.”

Before 9/11, it was perfectly acceptable to arrive 15 minutes before your flight was scheduled for takeoff.

Post 9/11, you have to arrive 90-120 minutes before your flight is scheduled for takeoff. Particularly if you’re traveling with multiple kids. Thanks to my fertile womb and my affinity for a second cocktail, this is our current predicament.

The evening before we fly…with multiple kids…to Disneyworld, the boys are in bed. Asleep in the clothes they’ll wear on the plane. The suitcases are zipped, closed, and weighed. Last minute items are packed. I lay down next to B&B for what I know will be an unrestful sleep.

Me: “It’s $25 to check a bag.  So we’ll only check one bag. I put the suntan lotion in the suitcase we’re checking so that security won’t confiscate it.”

B&B: “Smart move.”

Me: “Our flight is at 6:40AM. We need to be at the airport by 4:40AM. 5AM at the latest.”

He guffaws in response.

Me: Unamused, “That’s what the airline recommends.”

B&B: Shaking his head, “No way. That’s ludicrous. We’d have to leave at 4AM to arrive at that time. We’re not leaving at 4AM. Let the kids sleep a little. There won’t be any traffic. It’s not an international flight. We’ll be fine.”

Me: Unconvinced and beginning to stress, “I disagree. We should aim for 4AM. We can’t expect these idiot kids to run through the airport. Especially if we’re only checking one suitcase. That means we’re carrying four other suitcases.”

B&B: Guffawing, “We won’t be running through the airport.”

Me: Blood pressure rising, “I am telling you, I will seriously kill you if we miss the flight because we don’t leave early enough.”

Rule breaking fool.

Guffaw, guffaw.

Now I’ll never get to sleep.

I wake the kids at 3:40 AM, brush their teeth, and pack their toothbrushes.

Me: “B&B, we’re ready. The kids and I are ready. You haven’t put the suitcases in the minivan yet?”

Tick tock

B&B: “No, but we’re fine. Just relax. I’m going to put all of the bikes into the shed before we leave. Then I’ll pack the suitcases.”

Me: Trying to remain calm, “I thought you were going to do that last night?”

B&B: Slightly defensive, “Well, I didn’t get around to it last night. So I’m going to do it now.”

Tick tock, tick tock

Me: Quietly, “I was hoping to make a quick getaway before Waldorf realizes that Severus ran out into the dark and hasn’t returned yet.”

*Severus Snape is one of our two cats. He and Waldorf are BFF’s.

Waldorf: “Mommy, have you seen Severus?”

Too late.

Me: “Waldorf, Severus ran out very early and hasn’t come back yet. You might not be able to say goodbye to him before we leave. But you can look for him for 5 minutes because that’s when we’re leaving,” I look straight at B&B as I say this, “In 5 minutes, right, Daddy? We sure don’t want to miss our flight.”

Behind Waldorf’s back, I bare my fangs at B&B.


5 minutes turns into 30+ minutes, and I’m torn between busting out some yoga poses to find my inner zen and managing my mounting stress with a mimosa at 4:30 AM. And I’m leaning heavily toward the mimosa because I’m a runner, so I don’t know any yoga poses.

B&B finally takes the driver’s seat, and we leave the house. I look at the clock in the car.

5:08 AM.

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock

B&B: “You realize I’m stopping at Wawa, don’t you?”

I turn at him and hiss. He identifies this behavior, correctly, as one baby step away from my giving him a come to Jesus in front of the kids. Which I typically try to avoid doing in front of the kids.

But even I have my limits.

B&B: “Fine. I’ll get something at the airport.”

We arrive at the airport in record time. Thanks to minimal traffic and B&B’s lead foot. Park in long term parking, unload the suitcases, unload the strollers, schlep the kids with the suitcases and our carry-on bags to the shuttle stop. And wait in the dark.

Tick tock. Tickety tick tock.

I look at my watch, breathe deeply, nearly choke on the fumes from I-95, and refuse to look at or speak to B&B.

Son of a bitch. My blood pressure is through the goddamn roof because he didn’t listen to me.

B&B: “Beth, we’re fine on time. It’s only 6 AM. The plane doesn’t leave until 6:40 AM. Be cool.”

Shut up. And don’t tell me to be cool. Can’t you see I’m ignoring you?

Shuttle arrives. We drag the kids, the luggage, the strollers, and the carry-on bags aboard. 10 minutes later, we arrive at our terminal.

Me: “Hi, we want to check this bag, please?”

Airline Employee: “Sure. I’ll just change your flight information.”

Me: Smiling, “OK, thanks. Wait…why?”

Airline Employee: “Oh, you’re too late to check a bag on this flight. You’ll have to wait until the next available flight to Orlando in order to check this bag.”

The noises of the airport immediately fade…and are replaced by the thumping of my pulse. It’s rapid. And it’s fueled by anger. Borderline mania.

Me: “Boys, earmuffs, please.”

All four of my children cover their ears with their hands.

I turn to B&B.

Me: “I am going to fucking kill you.”

The airline employee looks quizzically between the two of us.

Interrogator: “Mom, can we take our earmuffs off yet?”

I shake my head in response.

Me: To B&B, “I fucking told you. And you didn’t listen.  And now I’m going to fucking kill you.”

Airline Employee: “So, did you want me to book the next available flight or not?”

B&B: Grabbing the suitcase we’d hoped to check, “No, thanks. Do you think we can still make our flight?”

Airline Employee: Looking at the clock and frowning, “You’d better run.”

B&B: “Boys, take off your earmuffs. Are you listening to me? Grab a bag. Follow Mommy. And RUN!”

Tick tock, to the tickety tock.

Up the escalators with all of our bags, all of our carry on items, all of our kids and two strollers. We run towards security. There are at least 100 people in line ahead of us. I look at B&B, tears forming in my eyes. But we catch a break, and they take us in the significantly shorter family line.

6:20 AM

B&B: “We’re fine, Beth. Totally fine. We have 20 minutes.”

Don’t talk to me. I am going to have to kill you in front of all four of our children. And then I’ll have to spend all of your life insurance money on their therapy. Don’t. Talk. To. Me.

Shoes off, belts off, pockets emptied, iPhones in bowls, laptop unpacked, strollers collapsed, carry-on bags and suitcases placed on conveyor belt.

Tick tock, tickety tickety tock.

Me: “Verb and Interrogator, stay close to Mommy. And walk straight toward that nice lady when she tells you to walk through this machine.”

Interrogator: “Mom, what’s this machine, Mom? Is it gonna hurt? Is it an X-ray, Mom?”

Me: “No talking right now, Interrogator. Listening ears only. I’ll tell you about the machine once we get on the plane.” If we get on the plane.

We proceed, single file, through the body scanner. In my state of near hysteria, I forget to suck in my gut as I walk through.

Oops. Sorry to the airline employee who will have that image singed on her brain for the foreseeable future.

We collect our strollers, iPhones, laptop, belts, shoes, carry-on bags, and suitcases from the conveyor belt.

Me: “Boys, get ready to run again. And no questions, please, until we are on the plane.” If we get on the plane.

Airline Employee: “Ma’am, is this your bag?”

I hate when people call me ma’am.

Me: I look at the bag she’s holding and recognize it as one of our suitcases. “That one? Yes. That’s ours.”

Airline Employee: “I’m going to have to search it.”

Tickety tick to the mutha fuckin tock.

Me: “Shit. OK.”

Interrogator, “Mom, you said a bad word. A curse word. You’re not supposed to say that word.”

Me: “Sorry, honey, you’re right. Mommy is just stressed because we’re running late.”

B&B: “Is that the bag we were going to check? Isn’t the suntan lotion in that bag?”

Me: Shaking the suitcase in my hand, “No, THIS is the bag we were going to check. It contains the suntan lotion.”

I immediately turn to the airline employee who’s checking my bag.

Me: “Listen, I don’t know what’s in there. But our flight leaves in,” I look at my watch, “10 minutes. And we have 4 kids. And we’re going to Disneyworld for the first time. Can you please look very quickly and give me my bag back? So that we don’t miss our flight? Because if we miss our flight my kids will be devastated. And I’ll have to kill my husband because it’s his fault we’re late. Then they’ll be devastated about that too.”


The airline employee locates and extracts the four brand new containers of suntan lotion. WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING IN THERE?! I glance over at B&B. He’s looking in our direction. If he sees that I’ve packed the suntan lotion in the wrong bag, he will razz me about it until I’m too old to remember my own name. I spread my arms wide and stand on my toes in an effort to block his view.

But he’s so tall and I’m so not tall. Plan B, move onto plan B! I decide to mount the table that holds our suitcase in an attempt to block his view. I’ve got one knee up on that bad boy, and I hear clapping. And laughing.

Foiled. Shit. And shit. And SHIT. 

The airline employee looks at me, half smiling, “Sorry, I have to run it through again. But I’d kill him too if he made me miss my flight.”

That’s the plan, lady.

I glance over at B&B. By my calculations, he has maybe 15 minutes left on this earth before I kill him. Yet I’ve never seen him more satisfied. More joyful. Our luggage is scattered around him. And our children…some with shoes, some without…are scaling the bags and jumping from one suitcase to another. He doesn’t bother to correct them. Doesn’t even remember they exist. For him, there’s only me.

Me and my suntan lotion screw up.

She runs our suitcase through the scanner again. I reach out to take it from her.

Airline employee: “Sorry. Something else is showing up in here. I have to search it again.”


B&B bends in half in a fit of laughter. He pulls himself to his full height and wipes his eyes of the tears his laughter has just produced.

B&B: Still laughing, “What else did you put in there? Shampoo?”

Shampoo on an airplane

Me: Frantic, “I don’t know! I don’t remember!”

B&B: Smiling, “How could you not remember? Oh, that’s right, you obviously didn’t remember to pack the suntan lotion in the right suitcase.”

Me: “I packed those suitcases 2 days ago! And I barely slept last night! And I don’t know where Severus is! And we are going to miss our flight because you said we would be fine on time! Stop talking to me!”

The airline employee finds the J&J lavender scented lotion I apply to the Interrogator and the Verb after their baths.

I love the smell of that lotion on them. I could use a whiff of that lavender to relax my shit right about now.

She hands me the suitcase. And we sprint in the direction of our gate.

A US Airways pilot puts his hand on my arm as I run past him.

Pilot: “Are you the family of six headed to Orlando?”

Me: Not slowing down, “Yes!”

Pilot: Shaking his head, “They’re getting ready to close the doors. I’ll call ahead and tell them you’re coming.”

Me: Yelling,“Thank you!”

We reach our gate, run down the ramp, collapse the strollers and step onto the plane. Every eyeball on the plane watches while we struggle with our luggage and our children and head toward our seats. B&B shoves our bags into random overhead compartments throughout the back of the aircraft. Miraculously, they all fit.

We collapse into our seats.

B&B lives to see another day. Just barely.

Two hours later, I’m over it. I’m deliriously tired and excited. We are flying to Florida to meet my parents, whom we haven’t seen in two months. And we’re going to Disneyworld with the kids for the first time.

B&B: Looking at me from across the aisle, “Still mad?”

Me: “That depends.”

B&B: “On what?”

Me: “On how you answer my question.”

B&B: “By all means, please ask it.”

Me: “Our return flight leaves at 7:35PM. What time shall we be at the airport?”

B&B: He hums a few notes of the Jeopardy theme, butchering it, “What is 5:35PM, Mr.Trebek?”

Me: Grinning, “Congratulations. You’ve answered correctly.”

He reaches across the aisle and caresses my ankle.  I reach across the aisle and scratch his back.

The flight attendant catches my eye and smiles.

I hear the muffled voices of the couple who sit behind me.

Lady behind me: “Oh, she’s forgiven him! And much more quickly than I’d have forgiven you.”

Husband of the lady behind me: “Well, she should forgive him. They were late because of the suntan lotion, weren’t you listening? It’s her fault!”

B&B must hear them. Because he leans back, adorns his handsome face with his most innocent look, and points at me.

B&B: “It was definitely her fault, but she has a hard time admitting she’s wrong,” channeling Buffalo Bill for a third and final time, “It places the lotion in the basket!”


I take a deep, cleansing breath. The first of what promises to be many with eight consecutive days accompanied by B&B and our four clueless sons.

And so begins our vacation…

Who Skipped a Semester in Italy for 4 months of Houlihan’s Dinners? Asking for a friend…

I met B&B the summer before starting my junior year of college. I pegged him…correctly at the time…as a serious hottie, a great athlete, a smart guy, and an all-around obnoxious individual.  We dated that August, and I returned to school in September, not sure whether he even knew what school that was. Or my last name.

The first night back at school, my roommate, Maria, and I are gussying up to head out to a party.  Cue the Indigo Girls CD.

Maria: “So, what’s up with that guy you were seeing?”

Me: “Um, nothing, I guess.  I don’t know what his deal is. I think he goes to school, but I’m not sure.”

Maria: “Does he have your number?”

Me: “I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t think he’ll call anyway.”

Our conversation is interrupted by a knock on the door. Maria swings it open, expecting to find a fellow college classmate. Negative. All 6’2” of my summer fling are standing in the doorway.

Holy crap, what’s he doing here? How does he know where I go to school? Did I leave something in his car? I bet he’s here to return something I’ve left in his car.

Maria: Stepping to the side, “Beth, I think it’s for you.”

Me: Smiling awkwardly, “Um, hi!”

B&B: Intensely, “Can I talk to you for a minute? Out here in the hallway?”

Hmmm…this is mysterious. Well, I know he’s not going to tell me he’s pregnant, so that’s a relief.

I step out into the hallway, and look at him with expectant eyes.

Yowza. He’s super duper hot. I hope I’m not blushing. Goddamn this Irish skin. I hope he thinks I’m playing it cool. I do not feel like I am playing it cool, but I hope I at least appear to be playing it cool.

Me: “So, how did you find me?”

B&B: Smiling, but not a happy smile, “I have my ways.”

Mysterious indeed. Possibly borderline stalker.

Me: Clearing my throat, “So, why the house call?”

B&B: Defensive, “What, this isn’t a pleasant surprise?”

Me: “No. I mean it is. It’s a surprise. It’s pleasant, yes, but you arrive unannounced and pull me into the hallway; so I’m curious what your agenda is.”

B&B: “OK, I will get straight to the point. I know you considered me a fling. And I’m here to tell you that this right here” he moves his finger back and forth between the two of us, “this is not a fling. I can see that you and your roommate are getting ready to go out. So go out. Have a ball. But this is not a fling. And I will be back. Tomorrow. And we will go out.”

And he walks away. No goodbye. Nothing.

I don’t know whether I should feel flattered or violated.


Maria: “What was that all about?”

Me: “I don’t know. I guess he kinda likes me. He’s an extremely obnoxious person. I think he just ordered me to go out with him tomorrow.”

Maria: “Are you going to go?”

Me: “I guess so.”

Maria: “He’s really cute.”

Me: Agreeing, “Very bossy though. I don’t know how I feel about that.”

A few months later, my feelings about B&B have become clearer. Maria and I planned, with a few other friends, to study abroad for our 2nd semester of junior year. In Italy. Mom and Dad are completely on board. The plans are being made. The excitement is building. Everyone’s excitement. Everyone’s but mine. I am in love with the obnoxious summer fling. And I have no intention of missing 4 consecutive months of Houlihan’s dinners and movies in order to study in Italy. Without B&B.

Please rev up the time machine and take me back.

Clearly, I had no idea that B&B would have stalked me down in Italy, just like he’d done in Philadelphia. He’d have knocked on my European door and announced he was studying there for the semester as well. Or, at the very least, sleeping on the floor of our hostel.

So, Maria studies in Italy. And I stay in Philly. Yes, “Dumbest 20 year old girl on the planet” award goes to me.

When my best friend arrives home, several months later, she brings back a piece of Italy with her. She’d bought me a leather backpack. It is the most beautiful backpack I’ve ever seen, and the softest I’ve ever touched.

I still have that backpack. I missed the trip, but I keep the backpack. Still, almost 2 decades later, it smells like Italy to me. Yes, it smells overwhelmingly like leather. But it also smells like a fabulous loaf of fresh baked crusty bread. With a subtle bouquet of table wine. And a lingering smell of handmade pasta. I use my piece of Italy on special occasions. I’ve taken it to the hospital four times…once for each time I delivered a son.  When I take it out of the attic, I look at it for a minute, and I smile.

I don’t stop to look at much for a minute, so when the Kenyan catches me doing just that, he calls me out.

Kenyan: “Mommy, why are you staring at that backpack and smiling?”

Me: “Because I love this backpack. Maria brought it home from Italy for me. I was supposed to go with her, but I was a fool in love, so I skipped the trip.”

Kenyan: “OK, but there’s not much funny about a backpack. No offense, but you just look kinda weird smiling at a bag for like 10 minutes. I thought we were in a hurry to take the Interrogator to the hospital?”

The Interrogator has broken his clavicle, and we need to hit the hospital for some X-rays. But he’s been walking around with the broken clavicle for 2 days already. An extra minute of my gazing at a bag isn’t going to make much difference.

Me: “Yep. Off we go. Give me your book, and I’ll put it in my backpack.”

Unsure how long we’ll be waiting in radiology, I pack enough that we’ll easily sustain ourselves for a solid week on one of the remote islands on which they dump a new cast of Survivor. All books are placed in my Italy bag. Cooler for drinks and fruit. Earth friendly grocery bags filled with snacks, a vast variety of coloring books, Mad Libs, crayons, sketching pad, and pencils. Electronics are charged. Extra AC adapters go into the bag just in case. And off we go to the local hospital. To wrack up more frequent flier miles.

In the car, I prep the kids about the importance of staying close to me in the hospital. Stranger danger and all of that fun stuff.

Me: “Do you boys remember what happened to Nemo when he swam away from his Dad?”

Waldorf: “Oh, God. How many times are you going to ask us that?”

Kenyan: “Alright, already, with the Nemo story.”

Verb: “YES! The big bad DIVER got Nemo! And he took him! And he put him in the tank!”

Interrogator: “Mom, does an X-ray hurt, Mom? Are they going to hurt me when they take my picture, Mom?”

Me: “Yes, the diver was a stranger who took Nemo from his Dad. Because Nemo wasn’t using his listening ears. Had he stayed close to his Dad, his Dad would have protected him from that bad diver.  I want you to stay close to me, so that I can protect you. So, please use your listening ears. Especially you, Verb. No running ahead. And, no, Interrogator, an x ray doesn’t hurt.”

The Verb is notorious for running ahead. Sprinting, actually. And the Interrogator prefers to take his time. Which leaves me in a bit of a quandary when I’m with both of them. Do I remain with the lagging 6 year old? Or do I bust my ass to catch the 3 year old and sling him over my shoulder, turn back to the Interrogator, and walk with him while receiving concussion-inducing kicks to my head from his younger brother? Who couples the kicks with verbal assaults. I continue to try to work this one out on a daily basis.

Radiology is smooth sailing. They take us almost immediately. The girl at registration is very sweet and chatty.

Reception girl: Incredulous, “Wow, are they all yours?”

Me: Smiling, “Guilty.”

Reception girl: “4 boys?”

Me: Nodding, to her, “4 boys,” looking over my shoulder to the kids, “Waldorf, please let the Verb watch the game you’re playing. He’s strapped into that stroller and I’d prefer he stays there.”

Reception girl: “Did you find out what you were having when you were pregnant with them?”

Me: Nodding, “Yes, with 3 of the 4 of them. I thought my broken clavicle over there was a girl. Turns out he was not, “ looking over my shoulder to the kids, “Kenyan….Kenyan! Listen to me, Kenyan. Look at me with your eyeballs please so that I know that you’re listening. Thank you. Please move over one chair so that the Interrogator can sit there next to you.”

Interrogator: “I don’t want to sit, Mom. My arm hurts. I don’t want to get my picture taken, Mom. I don’t like it here. I don’t like the hospital, Mom. I’m hungry.”

Me: “I’m right here with you, buddy. And I promise it won’t hurt to have your picture taken. Waldorf…Waldorf! Please go into my leather backpack and get out the crackers for the Interrogator. He may have 6 since he’s 6 years old.”

The Verb makes a lunge for the crackers because he was born with a hollow leg. He misses because he’s harnessed into the stroller. Waldorf’s face morphs into the face I recognize as the teasing face.

Me: Hissing, “Waldorf, the Verb did not have a nap today. We all need to have extra patience with him. Please hand him 3 crackers because he’s 3 years old.”

Reception girl: “Can I have your license and insurance cards please?”

Me: Handing them over, “Sure, here they are.”

What a nice treat that she didn’t ask me the question that everyone asks me.

No sooner do I think it than she asks it.

Reception girl: Smiling, “So, are you going to try for a girl?”

Wow, you’re only the 3,249th person to ask me that question.

Me: Attempting, unsuccessfully, to smile, “I’m sufficiently overwhelmed with the 4 healthy boys I have. So, no.”

I am a fairly mouthy chick at times, and on occasion it’s gotten me into a pickle. But it never ceases to amaze me how many people ask me whether I’m going to attempt to get pregnant with a girl or whether I’m upset that none of my sons was born with a vagina. Last I checked, that’s nobody’s business. It reminds me of the time we were at a wedding when I was pregnant with the Interrogator. The kids were invited to the wedding, so we had Waldorf and the Kenyan with us.

Random old broad: “You’re pregnant again? When are you going to stop getting pregnant? 2 kids aren’t enough for you?”

Big, fat, obnoxious pregnant Me: “Nope. The sex is just too good. I can’t help myself.”

F YOU, old broad. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I digress…

Just then, B&B arrives. It is nearing the end of his work day, and he knows I may need Fun Dad to save the day if the hospital proves crowded. He stays with the other 3 boys while I go with the Interrogator to get his X-rays taken. It takes all of 5 minutes. The Interrogator is a rock star.

Before we know it, we’re in the parking garage, prepared to drive home. And so begins the chorus of, “I want to go in Daddy’s car!  No, I get to go in Daddy’s car! Me too! I said it first! You always go in Daddy’s car! It’s mine turn to go in Daddy’s car!” It’s Waldorf’s lucky day…he gets to drive home with Daddy. In a newer, cleaner vehicle that does not smell, at all times, like flatulence. I get three whiners, who are tired from a long day. And one of whom is very sore from carting around a broken bone for the past two days. Finally this poor kid is validated.

We are a block away from the hospital, and I am already tasting the wine that eagerly awaits me at home.

I will have two sips of wine before putting the kids to bed. Then, I will savor the rest of the glass. Because this has been one LONG week.


I pull over immediately. B&B pulls alongside me. We roll down our windows.

Me: “The Verb has to go #2. I have the travel potty in the car. Give us a few minutes.”

I will have 5 sips of wine before putting the kids to bed. Then, I will chug the rest of the glass.

Me: “Alright, Verby, let’s get you unbuckled. Please be very careful that you don’t step on Mommy’s beautiful bag from Italy. And please don’t step on this great big bag of snacks that I packed. Let’s get your pants down and get this show on the road.”

Verb: “NO! I want to pull mine pants down mineself!”

I will have one glass of wine before putting the kids to bed. Then, I will pour myself another glass.

The Verb struggles with his pants. And I crack the windows because he’s gassing up a storm.

Interrogator: “Ew, Mom, ew, I smell gas. I hear gas, and I smell gas. And it smells bad. Verb, your gas smells bad.”

Oh, just wait until he takes a dump in this little potty, my good man. The tears will be streaming down your face once you catch a whiff of that.

The Verb finally gets his pants down. I get him situated on the potty. And he begins his conversation. Because he loves a little chit chat with his bowel movements.

Verb: “Mom, the Interrogator has a broken bone! And we go’d to the hospital for him to get his picture taken!”

Me: “Yes, we did, buddy.”

Verb: “And no bad diver taked me away from you, Mom. Cuz I had mine listening ears on, Mom. I do’d good listening.”

Me: “You certainly did have your listening ears on, big guy.”

Verb: Looking down, “Alright! I winned!! I did the biggest poopy ever! And I winned! And now, I’m gonna go pee.”

Me: “Well done, my boy. Then, we can drive home.”

What’s that noise? It sounds like splashing.

Me: “Interrogator? Did you spill your drink back there?”

Interrogator: “No, Mom. I didn’t spill.”


Me: “Kenyan, what about you? Did you spill your drink? I hear something. A liquid. A liquid hitting a solid.”

Kenyan: “Nope. I didn’t spill anything.”

Verb: Looking up from the travel potty, “Ooops. That was me, Mom. It was mine pee. It go’d all over your beautiful brown bag.”

Mother of all that is good and pure. My precious bag. My piece of Italy. The one item I’ve managed to keep from the evil clutches of my offspring. And my youngest child just whizzed all over it.

SNAP goes my patience.

I immediately exit the car. I walk straight to B&B’s car. He rolls down the window.

Me: “Please step out of your automobile. And take Waldorf with you. You will be driving my car, for the safety of all of your children, particularly the youngest one.”

B&B: Perplexed, “Sure. You OK?”

Me: Shaking my head, “No. That’s why I need to drive separately. Please.”

He and Waldorf swiftly exit his car. I slip into the driver’s seat, lock the doors and start my temper tantrum.

Me: To an empty car, “I will chug one bottle of wine. Then, I will lay down for a long winter’s nap.”

When we arrive home, B&B, aware of my woe, tends to my bag. Neither of us knows a thing about treating leather, so he blots it with a dry paper towel. And lays it in front of the heating vent to dry.

B&B: Enveloping me in a hug, “I’m sorry about your bag. I know you love that bag. One day we’ll get to Italy. Without these idiots. Just the two of us. And we’ll find you a beautiful bag like this one. And, I promise, no one will take a piss on it.”

Me: Voice muffled against his chest, “That sounds nice. A trip to Italy. Without kids. The bag. And the absence of pee.”

I look up and smile at my obnoxious summer fling. The same guy who arrived unannounced at my door step and mandated that I date him. The man who’s given me four beautiful sons. The one person who rarely makes it easy, but always keeps it interesting.

If ever I get to Italy, I’d be lucky to go with B&B. 

Or George Clooney, but I think I’m too short for his taste.

So I put my piece of Italy, my reminder of the trip I never took…but hope to someday…back into the attic. It still smells like leather. And fresh baked crusty bread.  I still smell the subtle bouquet of Italian red table wine. The fragrance of handmade pasta. And now, the slightest hint of my youngest son’s urine.

Could have been worse. He could have pooped on it.

When They Say They’re Going to Puke…They’re Going to Puke

Mr. Dreamy, head of my kids’ school, has mentioned to parents that the folks at school will believe only half of what our children say occurs at home, if we believe only half of what the children claim happens at school.

Translation…50% of the time, our kids are big, fat liars.

One day last month, the Verb was eating the house down more so than usual.

Me: “Hey, Verby-Verb, you’d better slow down. You’re going to have a belly ache if you keep eating so much tonight.”

Verb: “A  belly ache? Nah! Can I have some more rice, Mom?”

Rice is the devil himself at my dinner table. The cleanup makes me batty.

Me: Sighing, “Sure, Verb. Here’s some more rice.”

An hour later, after I’ve washed the dishes, bathed the younger guys, reminded Waldorf 16 times to start his homework, packed the next day’s snacks and lunches, and picked up 142 grains of rice from the floor, I am tucking the Verb into bed.

Me: Inhaling his 3 year old deliciousness, “Goodnight, my sweet angel boy. Mommy loves you.”

Verb: Words muffled by his thumb sucking, “G-Night, Mommy. I love you, Mommy.”

One down, 3 to go. Then, American Idol, I have a date with you. You and a very large glass of red wine.

Soon after, I tuck the Interrogator into bed, but the Verb is still awake.

Verb: Happily, “Mom, mine belly is too full from eating so much rice.”

The Verb holds the prestigious title of “2nd biggest inventor of bedtime stall tactics” under our roof. 1st prize goes to Waldorf.

Nice try, Verb. I handed you that line. Be more creative next time.

Me: “You’re fine. Your belly isn’t hurting you. You’re just tired. Lay down and go to sleep.”

Interrogator: Worried, “What? Is he gonna throw up? Ewww, I don’t like throw up. It’s stinky.”

Me: “No, Interrogator, he’s not going to throw up. He’s just teasing Mommy. Goodnight, boys. Please stay in your beds, close your eyes, close your mouths, and go to sleep.”

Interrogator: Still concerned, “Mom, what about the throw up, Mom?”

Me: Closing the door, “Goodnight, boys.”

Back downstairs with the older two, I am running out of fuel.

Me: “Guys, we can play one game of Uno or we can read quietly. Which would you like to do?”

Don’t say Uno. Please don’t say Uno. I am so tired, please let’s all just read quietly.

Kenyan & Waldorf: “UNO!”

OK. Beats Monopoly.

Mid-game, I hear the duet of voices that should be asleep beckoning me. I head upstairs to investigate.

Me: “This had better be an emergency, boys.”

Interrogator: “Mom, the Verb doesn’t feel good, Mom. He says his belly is too full from eating so much rice.”

Verb: Smiling and dancing from the waist up, “Yeah, Mom! Mine belly is too full.”

Me: Sternly, “Both of you listen to me. Lay down. Right now. And ZIP IT.”

For the love of Pete.

Waldorf, the Kenyan, and I finish our game of Uno soon after.

Me: “OK, Kenyan, please go upstairs, brush your teeth, and put on your pjs. And Waldorf, please go upstairs, put on your pjs, and brush your teeth. Notice the order of those directions, boys.”

It’s essential to separate them as much as possible as bedtime approaches. To reduce their participation in the game my parents have so appropriately labeled, “grab-ass”.

I assure you it is a metaphorical, not a literal, game. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true.

I am putting away the cards when the Kenyan flies back down the stairs.

Kenyan: Urgently, “Mommy! The Verb is sick! I heard a gagging noise coming from his room, so I opened the door and he was PUKING! It’s EVERYWHERE! And it smells DISGUSTING!”   

Son of a bitch. He called my bluff.

Together, we run upstairs. The waft of vomit hits me at the top of the stairs. I enter the bedroom the Verb shares with the Interrogator. I find the Interrogator, holding his nose and dry heaving on the top bunk.  And my sweet little Verb, on the bottom bunk, sitting upright in bed. He appears lost, and his face and hair are covered in vomit.

Verb: Matter-of-factly, “I throwed up on mine face, Mom.”


No wonder he’s B&B’s current favorite. I. Could. Eat. Him. When he isn’t covered in puke.

Me: Grabbing towels, “Oh, sweetheart, you did. I’m so sorry! My poor boy, let’s get you cleaned up. Waldorf, please start the bath for the Verb.”

On the top bunk, the Interrogator is clearing his throat every 4 seconds, occasionally mixing it up with the insertion of a dramatic dry heave. I look at him, pointing my finger.

Me: “Don’t even think about it. Pull the covers over your head, and close your eyes. You won’t smell it then. Kenyan, please open a window in here. Scratch that, open both windows. Waldorf? I don’t hear the water running! I need your help, buddy! Group effort here!”

Kenyan: “Um, Mommy, I don’t mean to blame you, but I did hear the Verb telling you that his belly was too full. More than once.  So, I think it may actually be your fault that he puked. All over his covers. And his rug. And his hair. And his face.”


Verb: “And mine ears. I throwed up in mine ears, Mom.”

Poor baby!

Me: “Kenyan, thank you for your unsolicited opinion. And for opening the windows. And for alerting me to the Verb’s unfortunate predicament. March yourself up to your room please. Your night is over. Waldorf! Why don’t I hear the water running?!”

I step into the hallway to find Waldorf, wearing a mask of guilt. And playing with the cat.

Life with boys=constant redirection on my part. Constant. Every waking minute. Redirecting one or more of them. That includes the adult male who resides with us as well. Who happens not to be home during the current vomit crisis.

I fill the tub, bathe the Verb, strip the sheets, make the bed, lay towels on the new sheets, place the trashcan next to his bed, and struggle to keep the impatience out of my voice while the Interrogator hits me with question after question about vomit. Finally, I tuck the barely conscious Verb into bed, for the 2nd time that night.

Me: Whispering, “I’m sorry, sweet angel. I’m sorry I didn’t believe you about your belly. Goodnight to the little boy who did not cry wolf.”

One would think that I had learned my lesson.

Of course I hadn’t….

So, recently, my Interrogator took a tumble on the playground. A little harder than usual. Typically, he can brush it off and get right back up there. But there were screams, tears, and a refusal to continue play after this fall.

Eh, the Verb’s been waking him up earlier than usual. I bet he’s tired. That’s why he’s crying. And, look, already he’s calming down.

That evening, I tell B&B that the Interrogator fell. And that he is favoring his right arm.

B&B: “Are you giving him attention? He probably likes the attention. I’m sure he’s OK.”

Me: “I don’t disagree with you. Sometimes an injury is the only way to get the floor in this house. But look at how he’s holding it. I think he may be hurt.”

B&B: “Come here, Interrogator. Let Daddy take a look at you.”

Interrogator: “My arm hurts, Dad.”

B&B: “Let’s get this shirt off and have a look.”

With a wince, a gasp, and a sharp intake of breath, we maneuver the Interrogator’s shirt over his head. I shoot concerned eyes at B&B. He mouths the word, “drama”.

Boys #2 and 3 tend to be more dramatic than the average male.  

B&B: “Let your arms go limp like a puppet’s arms. I am going to lift them up. You let them drop when I let go. OK?”

The Interrogator glazes over.  This is not uncommon. B&B proceeds gently to lift the Interrogator’s arms up. Just below shoulder height. He lets go of both arms, which remain, where he left them, exactly below shoulder height.

Interrogator: Dropping his arms to his sides, “Oh. See? I did it, Dad. My arm hurts, Dad.”

B&B: “No, no, no. Let’s try this again. I want your arms to be like Kermit the Frog’s arms. OK? You be Kermit, and I will work your arms. When I let them go, they should drop.”

I watch a repeat performance of what I’d just witnessed 30 seconds ago. The Interrogator doesn’t understand the concept.

Or he doesn’t trust B&B. This could also be the case.

Now, B&B is a bright guy. Sometimes with brilliance comes impatience. He is working very hard to keep the impatience out of his tone while speaking to the potentially wounded Interrogator.  I know he’s working hard, because he increases the volume of his voice. Exponentially.


The Interrogator blinks excessively in what I gather is an attempt to reduce the volume of his father’s booming voice. I try it too. Because B&B is essentially screaming in an effort to appear patient.

A large bear enters the room. It is almost my height. I recognize it as the birthday present we gave to the Kenyan last year. The Kenyan peers around from behind the bear. He is waving the arm of the enormous bear.

Kenyan: Waving furiously, “Interrogator, watch how I make his arm move! Let Daddy move your arm like this!”

The Verb enters the room, sees the Interrogator shirtless, and immediately removes his own shirt. He leaves the room for an instant, returning with a smaller stuffed bear. He begins waving his bear’s arm at the Kenyan’s bear.

Me: “B&B, do you think this is really effective? What are you hoping to achieve?”

B&B delivers the death stare.

Suit yourself.

Waldorf walks in the back door. He has been outside playing.

Waldorf: “Why don’t the Interrogator and the Verb have their shirts on? It’s freezing. And why is Daddy yelling? I can hear him all the way outside. What’s with all of the bears? ”

B&B: “Waldorf. Come here. I need you to demonstrate something for me. Let your arms go loose like a puppet’s arms. I am going to lift them up, then let them go. When I let them go, they should fall on their own down to your sides. Ready?”

Waldorf nods. B&B raises his arms up slowly. At shoulder height, B&B releases Waldorf’s arms. Which remain at shoulder height.

Me: “I rest my case. Come on, Interrogator, let’s get your pj’s on.”

B&B is miffed. I watch him raise Waldorf’s arms up to shoulder height again. He will keep Waldorf there for the next hour until he gets it right.

Interrogator: “Mom, my arm hurts, Mom.”

Me: “I know, sweetheart. I gave you some medicine, and I bet you’ll feel much better by tomorrow morning.”

Interrogator: “OK, Mom. I love you, Mom.”

Me: “I love you too, sweet boy.”

The Interrogator favors his arm the entire next day, which he spends in school.

No fever, no vomiting, why keep him home? I e-mailed his teacher. The fact that he had a substitute that day is irrelevant. He told the sub about his arm. Numerous times. If there is one thing I know, it is this.

Two days later, when he is still holding it funny, I know it was time to have it looked at.

Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn’t have let him jump on the trampoline last night. That probably didn’t help much.

So, we hit the doctor. The diagnosis? Broken clavicle. Angulated fracture to be exact. I don’t know what that means. Except that it’s worse than B&B’s break was when he sledded into that twig last year.

So, maybe my kids aren’t big, fat liars.

Or, maybe I’m just a lousy Mom who dismisses her kids’ complaints too quickly.

But, I’ve only gotten it wrong with two of my kids. Don’t forget, I have two more kids. Which means I get it right 50% of the time.

Just like Mr. Dreamy predicted.