Thursday, May 27, 2010

Big Brother

My brother Matt is four years my senior.  When we were kids, we watched a lot of WWF wrestling.  Not to be confused with the horrorshow that has become professional wrestling in the 21st century (WWE, I believe it's now called...I guess there was a problem with animal lovers and conservationists of the World Wildlife Federation showing up at coleseums, expecting to see an expo on The Giant Panda and instead getting Andre The Giant bitch-slapping Rowdy Roddy Piper with a folding chair).

Anyway, part of the fun of Matt and I spending Saturday mornings with Hulk Hogan, Ax and Smash, Randy Savage and the Honkey Tonk Man, was reenacting the more daring moves in our family room.  I spent the better part of second grade being Body Slammed onto our braided throw rug, wriggling my way out of figure-four leg-locks, and trying to survive being sleeper-held, pile-driven or clothes-lined.

Usually I was a pretty good sport...I only started crying if one of the moves went horribly wrong.  Say if Matt dropped me directly on my head, instead of landing on a couch cushion or pillow I landed on the floor.  That's when I cried.  And that's when Matt flew into a panicked attempt to get me to start laughing.  Because if he couldn't, he'd be in Big Trouble.

"You're fine, Beck," Matt would say, pulling up from the floor and poking me in the ribs.  "See look, you're laughing, you're laughing."

"That hurt, Matt!"

"Don't be a baby and tell Mom.  You're a tough kid.  You're fine."

Usually this tactic worked.  I didn't want Matt to think I was a baby.  I didn't want to tattle.  I wanted to be the tough hard-ass tomboy he told me I was.  But on the rare occasion that I really was hurt (a bloody lip, a broken limb, paralysis), I had no choice but to continue crying despite Matt's best efforts to hold a pillow over my face so our mother wouldn't hear me.

"Matthew!" our mother would call from somewhere else in the house.  And that's when we knew the show was over.  Matt would retreat, leaving me to explain why I was missing an eye or a digit.  I'm not even sure to this day how Matt was punished for his horseplay, but I'm sure it was brutal.  No Dukes Of Hazzard for a week would have been sufficient.

I am now witnessing the same thing going on with Rollie and Elsa.

Sometimes they play really well together.  I can leave them alone for ten, maybe fifteen minutes without hearing one or the other (or both of them) screaming.  I periodically peek in and see them working on a puzzle, stacking blocks, or just raiding Rollie's toy box and playing with random toys independent of each other.  I can unload the dishwasher or fold laundry in relative peace (how sad that the thought of folding laundry without hearing kids whining or feeling their pawing hands is as appealing as a week at an all-inclusive resort).

But when things go bad, Elsa's usually the one I hear, and Rollie's name is usually the one I yell across the house.

"Rollie!" I'll yell as soon as I hear the genuine screams of my daughter in pain.  I'll stumble upon a scene that usually involves Rollie sitting on, kicking or standing over Elsa, a toy that he obviously wasn't playing with at first now clutched in his defiant hands.

"Baby Elsa was about to bite me!" he'll say, as if it is he and not Elsa who is the victim here.

"Probably because you're being mean," I'll tell him.  "Did you push her?"

"Yeah, but she was about to knock over my (insert toy here--lego tower, puzzle, precariously stacked pile of books)."

Or sometimes it's not the aftermath of a squabble I find, but a wrestling match gone bad.  I've found Rollie sitting on her head, her back, burying her in blankets, stuffed animals, pillows from my bed so her whines are muffled.  As soon as he sees me he starts tickling her or acting like they were in the middle of an intense game of Peek-A-Boo, but he's not fooling me.  I've been on the receiving end of this situation way too often.

It's almost a Pavlovian response:  Elsa cries, I yell at Rollie.  I'm starting to think Elsa's hip to the routine, too.  Sometimes I see Rollie barely touch her and she'll burst into fake tears.  Or if I yell at Rollie before Elsa starts crying, she'll look up at me with her big blue eyes and start shrieking in manufactured pain.  I hope I'm not fostering her Drama Queen gene; though I'm sure I'm screwing them both up somehow....

Monday, May 24, 2010

At The Car Wash

Today was one of those days where so many things happened I'm having a hard time narrowing down what to blog about.  I suppose I could do the lazy move and just stretch today into several different entries, but I'm sure tomorrow will bring another interesting and as-of-year untackled subject altogether.  So maybe I'll touch on some of today's highlights and expand on a few of them in the weeks to come if by some miracle my children behave like actual human beings over the next couple of days, leaving me with no blog material.  Not likely, but sometimes hope is all I have to keep me going until bedtime.  That and beer.

So this morning I decided to perform the semi-annual ritual of cleaning my car.  It seemed like a relatively non-ambitiuos know, after the 45 minutes of preparation required to have my children accompany me outside--bathing suits, sunscreen, drinks, toys, gas-masks, galoshes, freeze-dried apricots, and a clown that can juggle knives set on fire--I set about washing away the three months' worth of bugs, pollen, road-dirt, milk-shake residue, gum, beach sand and salt water.  And that's just the outside of my car.

At the behest of my husband (and by behest I mean a few hints, several requests, two flat-out demands and one out-right threat), part of today's chore was for me to clean our children's car seats.  I can already hear the collective 'Ewwwwww' coming from both my readers.

Car seats are gross.  No wait, car seats are vile.  Repulsive.  Disgusting.  Possibly harboring the bacteria for (and possibly the cure to) several diseases that had been eradicated before the invention of the modern-day booster seat.  And yesterday, we picnicked on the beach and stopped at Dairy Queen afterwards, and against our better judgment, got our children their own ice cream.  Yeah, not a good move.  Rollie had a blizzard, Elsa a kid's size cone.  It's hard to say who made the bigger mess.  I think Elsa wins for messiest face, but halfway home Jeff and I hear the following commentary coming from Rollie's side of the car:

Which one is going to win?  The red one is going super fast.  The green one, kind of slow.  Why is the green one not going fast, Dadda?  I think the green one is tired.  The red one is getting away!  Hurry, green one, you have to catch him!  

I was smiling and looking through the windshield, wondering which red and green cars Rollie saw racing.  Until I noticed that there neither red nor green cars anywhere else on the road.  That's when Jeff and I both turned around to discover that the race Rollie was referring to was not happening outside his window.  Oh no.

Running down the armrest of Rollie's booster seat were two big, brightly colored trails of ice cream--A red M&M and a green M&M were racing down a river of ice cream to see which would be the first to trickle down the length of the armrest and into my son's naked lap.

We have a winner!  

Rollie, that is disgusting.  Jeff.  Poor Jeff.  He really has no clue.  On the Disgusting Things Rollie Has Done In The Car scale, the M&M race is barely a four.  It's messy and sticky and a total waste of ice cream, but really, a couple swipes with a baby wipe and his seat will be good as new.

Elsa's seat, on the other hand....

Thank God we opted for the brown color scheme when choosing a toddler seat.  Brown is always a safe bet; it's the color of chocolate, cookies, cereal bars, rootbeer flavored lollipops, and other unmentionable substances.  Elsa's brown carseat didn't look too bad from far away.  You could actually smell the seat before you really noticed anything dirty about it (yes, I did say smell).

Upon closer inspection, however, I discovered all sorts of interesting blemishes, vittles stuffed into crevices, and colorful globs of gummy substances on her seat, under the seat cover, inside of the buckle, and on the seat bench beneath.  I'm surprised an army of cockroaches didn't scatter when I lifted the seat from it's spot in the middle of the second row.  Although they had possibly eaten their fill for the day and crawled somewhere dark to sleep off their food-induced coma.

I turned her seat upside down and much crap fell from its depths that the ground beneath looked like a pinata had exploded.  I wiped down the cover, scrubbed the belts, even used a tiny screwdriver to pick out what looked like congealed yogurt from the plastic chest clasps.  And in a final attempt to rid whatever smell had permeated the seat, I sprayed the seat with Fabreeze.  So now her seat smells like fresh laundry instead of old milkshakes and pee.

I felt a sense of accomplishment when I returned the newly cleaned car seats back inside and tethered them to their respective anchors.  I did something productive.  I managed to clean six months' worth of nastiness, all while the two little piglets were outside with me, splashing around in a deflating wading poor, blowing bubbles, riding tricycles, and only one resulting black eye between the two of them.  So we can safely mark this morning in the Victory category.

The rest of the day, however, didn't go quite as smoothly.  But alas, we'll save that for another time.....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Most Horrifying Place On Earth, Part II

Because we are gluttons for punishment, Jeff and I decided to take the kids back to the place where nightmares are born:  Disney World.

Many things were factored into this decision.  The main one being that our Dream Passes were about to expire and we were running out of weekends.  We were determined to squeeze every ounce of fun out of our $99-Four-Day tickets, even if that meant subjecting our children to sweltering heat, crushing disappointment and total exhaustion.

Side Note: If at all possible, avoid going to any sort of theme park during months during which the temperature rises above 80 degrees.  Seriously.  You think a child is miserable after waiting in a crowded line for 35 minutes, legs aching, bladder full, his ice cream cone melting in a sad puddle 10 feet away, watching kid after kid squeal in delight as they soar sky-high in a giant plastic Dumbo and asking for the eight-thousanth time when will it be his turn...try it when it's ninety-two humid degrees outside.  Your child won't be the only one who's miserable.

We decided to go to Epcot first.  The kids had never been, and the last time Jeff and I had been at Epcot was in college, New Year's Eve, with my siblings, and we drank our way through The Lands (I think I passed out on a bench somewhere between Morocco and Germany.  It was also apparently the Most Crowded Day Of The Year--the bathrooms were so backed up that people were urinating onto topiaries shaped like Donald Duck.  So Rollie's not the only person in history to pee in public.).

We went inside and hopped on the first ride we came to: The Giant Golf Ball.  Rollie thought it was neat.  Elsa wasn't impressed.  She sat on my lap and whined every time Judy Dench's voice came through our speakers, telling us about how some day computers would change the world.  That pretty much set the tone for every ride we took Elsa on.  If it was dark and nice and cool, with some over-loud narration booming through speakers right behind our heads, Elsa wanted nothing to do with it.  I started to get a little self-conscious about her loud objections to everything she saw.  I imagined the judgment being passed on Jeff and me every time we hauled her into a moving capsule and forced her to sit still on our laps.  It's a wonder DCF wasn't waiting for us at the end of the Viking Ride in Norway (although at that point I would have gladly handed her over and retreated to Mexico for a twelve-dollar margarita).

The next day we decided to go back to Magic Kingdom, thinking that perhaps it we could recapture that same First Time Magic with the kids, the same unadulterated joy at seeing the castle for the first time, eating a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar, having a thousand dolls scream It's A Small World at you over and over and OVER.

We couldn't.

First of all, it took us 90 minutes to make it from our hotel to the front gates.  Literally.  We waited at our bus stop, seeing other, happier busses bound of other, happier destinations come and go.  Jeff and I took turns keeping our kids from running into the parking lot, touching the garbage cans, picking up cigarette butts and generally annoying other people also waiting for the bus.  It wasn't nearly as fun as it sounds.

Jeff:  Let's just take a bus to Epcot and hop on the monorail from there.
Me: No, the bus'll be here any minute.
Jeff: But it'll probably be too crowded and we've got this gigantic stroller to carry on.
Me: No, it won't.  Let's just wait.  Rollie, don't touch that--it's yucky.
Jeff: We can ride the monorail now for Rollie and get it out of the way.
Me: But we'll have to switch trains, and that'll be a big pain with them.  Rollie, I said don't touch that.
Jeff:  It won't be that big of a deal.  Elsa, no no.  Get back here.
Me: Here comes a bus.....Oh wait....Animal Kingdom.  Crap.
Jeff:  Come on, let's just get on the next Epcot bus.  Forward momentum.  Let's keep moving.  I can't just sit here, it's driving me crazy.
Me: You're driving me crazy.
Jeff: Rollie, Mom said don't touch that.  Do you want a spanking?
Me: He's not touching it, he's just pointing at it.
Jeff: Rollie, stop pointing--it's rude.
Me: It's not rude to point at objects.  Just people.
Jeff: It's a bad habit. Stop pointing, Rollie.
Me: Do they sell beer at Magic Kingdom?
Jeff: Look, here comes an Epcot bus.  Come on, guys.
Me: I'm telling you, there's gotta be a Magic Kingdom bus coming any second.
Jeff: If we don't keep moving, I'm going to lose my mind.
Me: I lost mine a long time ago, Sweets.

Jeff won, and we boarded a bus bound for a different park.  Ninety minutes, a bus ride, a monorail ride, a ferry ride, two bag searches and one poopy diaper later, we finally arrived.

Because it was now about eleven a.m. and getting hotter by the second, we opted to take Rollie on the Haunted House.  Cool, dark, no line, and if we spun it right, a ride perfect for a 3-year-old.  Except Rollie seemed hip to our routine.

Rollie: Is this ride scary?
Me: No, it's really not scary.  It's more silly than anything.
Rollie: Are there pirates on this ride?
Me: No pirates.
Rollie: Is there a naughty man on this ride?
Me: A naughty man?  No, I don't think so.
Rollie: Is it dark?
Me: It's nice a dark...kinda like a really neat cave.
Rollie: Are there bats?
Me: No.  Just some cool holograms.
Rollie: What's a hologram?
Me: ...You'll see.

Except for the nervous breakdown he had in the beginning, he did surprisingly well.  According to Jeff, anyway.  I couldn't actually hear anything that was going on in Rollie and Jeff's creepy little pod over the whines and yowls that were emitting from the pod I shared with Elsa.

Yes, we brought a sixteen-month-old on The Haunted Mansion.  Yes, it was a dumb idea.  I really had no clue Elsa was so, like...aware.  I figured she'd get kind of a kick out of the red-eyed crows cawing at us from cobweb-covered tombstones....I thought she'd enjoy the animatronic corpses jerkily rising from their graves....the sound of moaning and shrieking and rattling chains should have made her giggle with glee, right?  To me, an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba is far more frightening than a couple of holographic ballroom dancers.... Who's with me?

We got some decidedly dirty looks on the way out.  As we disembarked, people glared at us like we'd just forced Elsa to sit through Reservoir Dogs.  I'll admit, I did feel pretty bad that she hated the ride so much, which is why we made an immediate bee-line for It's A Small World, determined to replace Vincent Price's ominous laughter with a cute little ditty.  To me, subjecting ourselves to It's A Small World redeemed us as parents, and actually gave us a pass on forgetting our children's birthday once in a while.  I'm sure it'll happen one of these years....

Oh yeah, one more thing about going to Disney World in the summer time:  Do Not Wear A Tank Top. I know, doesn't this sound counterintuitive?  I mean, it's Florida, it's July, it's hot.  Why wouldn't you want to wear as little clothing as possible?  Tank tops almost seem like your bundling up in this weather. Trust me.  Heat=uncomfortable children=miserable children=tired children who want you to pick them up so they don't have to walk.  But because the absolute LAST thing you want to do is stand in line for ride you don't even want to go on, cradling a thirty-five pound sack of overtired kid on your arms and sweating out toxins you ingested last football season, you refuse to lift up your darling child.  That's when the pawing begins.  Be prepared for your child to tug at your clothing, begging to be held, whining for you to pick him up.  I can't tell you how many near nipple-slips I had from Rollie pulling on my shirt.  You'd think I would have learned my lesson long ago (see entry Excuse Me, But Your Nipple Is Showing for clarification).  Thank God I hadn't gone with my first wardrobe choice and worn a tube top.  I would have gotten kicked out of the park in the first five minutes for indecent exposure.  Although that might not have been so bad.  Sorry Jeff, I've been ejected from Magic Kingdom for flashing my boobs.  I'll meet you back poolside at the hotel.  I'll have a beer waiting for you.  

Hmmm....maybe next time I will wear a tube top....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gene Pool

Today at the pool, I was sitting with Elsa at the edge, trying to keep her from swallowing what is apparently the most delicious water in the history of the world, when Rollie started calling out, "Hey Momma, watch me!  Watch me, Momma!  Watch me!"

I turned around to indulge my son, preparing to be wowed with a cannonball or an underwater handstand or a triple Lindy flip.  Instead I saw him step cautiously from the bottom stair of the pool into the water, where he proceeded to flail his waterwing-clad arms and pedal his legs like Lance Armstrong.  I guess that was the trick.

"Wow," I said.  "That looked pretty cool, Rol."

"Watch me, Momma, watch!"  He splashed and floundered his way back to the steps and steadied himself, ready to perform his trick again.  Which he did.  And again.  And again.

"Wow, Rollie, that is such a neat trick."
"Wow, Rollie, you're awesome."
"Wow.  Good one."

"Watch me, Momma!"

"Rollie, I am watching you, Hon."

"Watch, Momma, watch!"

"Rollie, I'm sitting right here.  I can see everything you're doing."

"Heeeere I Gooooo!" He kicked and wiggled in the water, his wings keeping him afloat just enough to where he could splash me in the face as he rigorously paddled in place.

"Rollie, careful.  I don't want to be splashed right now."

"Why don't you want to be splashed right now?"

"Because the water's cold."

"Why is the water cold?"

As we continued along this course of conversation, in the back of my mind a realization was blooming.  This exchange was giving me hardcore deja vu.  I had flashbacks of brief, luke-warm New Jersey summers when swimming was a luxury only three months out of the year instead of six.  My family and I had a handful of relatives who were actually willing to open their homes and pools to the gaggle of raucous children that was my siblings and I.  We descended upon these poor people, dripping chlorinated water all over their guest bathrooms, eating overdone hamburgers and drinking can after can of root beer, belly-flopping and chicken-fighting until our noses were sunburned and our fingertips were pale and shriveled as albino raisins.  The adults usually didn't bother swimming with us, likely out of fear that they'd be drowned during a heated game of Sharks and Minnows.

Except my mother.  Oftentimes she was the only soul brave enough to venture into the water with a flock of shrieking children churning around amongst the dive rings and faded rafts.  She floated in the deep end like a bobber, her water-spotted transition-lenses taking in the activities as the current slowly pushed her around the perimeter of the pool.  And because she was the only adult around to impress, she was the sole recipient of my siblings' and my pleas for her to watch our stunts, no matter how inane.  And they all were pretty inane.

It must be water.  There is something about water that make a trick normally performed on land seem a hundred times better and more interesting in water.  A handstand in the middle of your family room is fine and dandy, but a handstand underwater, well, now that'll land you on a box of Wheaties.  Spinning in a circle in your front yard is lame-o, but in a swimming pool, spinning in a circle is the most sublimely graceful thing a nine-year-old girl could ever dream of doing.

The only problem with my mother being our sole spectator was that she didn't want to be splashed.  She was pretty adamant about this.  How I remember begging her to come closer to me so she could see me pantomime and underwater tea party, but she insisted on hovering on the outskirts of the water activities, claiming the she could see me fine from the edge of the pool.  Of course, now I know that she was terrified of getting her hair wet.  She'd spend hours putting her hair in rollers the night before, and then she'd sleep propped on pillows, her head wrapped in a kerchief to keep everything in place, and when she removed the curlers and teased her hair she emptied an entire can of Aqua Net to freeze the style better than if she had dipped her head in liquid nitrogen.  If she got so much as one drop of pool water on her hair it would disintegrate like cotton candy in the rain.

Still I performed somersaults, back-flips, jack-knives, leaping off the diving board over and over, convinced that I was executing each move with olympic precision.  And before each trick, a cry:

Mom, Watch Me Watch Me Watch Me!

And after I surfaced, I searched the pool for my mother, certain I'd see a look of dazzled amazement, or possibly her holding up a sign with a 10 scrawled on it.  Her response was always a little disappointing:

Wow.  Good one.

And now here I am, twenty-five years later.  I'm the one who doesn't want to get her hair wet.  I'm the one watching the goofy pool tricks as I try to carry on adult conversations.  I'm the one with the weak responses to my child's attempts to impress me.  I'm the one who prefers to float around the pool than to launch myself from the diving board or play Marco Polo.  When did this happen?  When did I become the grown-up?  When did I start caring more about my hair getting wet than having Who-Can-Hold-Your-Breath-The-Longest competitions?  Man, having kids steals certain joys away.

Then again, watching Rollie swim in water wings, his small smile of self-satisfaction as evident as the sunblock on his nose, is a new kind of joy.  It's kind of neat being on the other end of the Mom, Watch Me Watch Me Watch Me chant.  As long as he doesn't splash my face and ruin my makeup, I'll watch his tricks all day.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I. P. Freely

My husband and I are in the midst of a heated debate right now.  Basically we are of different opinions as to whether or not our son should always pee in the toilet.  Yeah, it’s getting pretty intense.  Couples have divorced over lesser issues.

My thought is that God has blessed our son with the means by which to pee wherever his little heart desires.  And so he should make good use of this gift by going in our bushes, our backyard, behind the power box down the street, by the fence of our local park, etc.  If we’re walking the dog, or getting ready to run errands, or anywhere outside a ten-foot radius of the house, and going back inside for him to pee would be far more inconvenient than for him to just drop trou and go right then and there, then far be it from me to interfere with his God-given ability to urinate outside.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve already had the car loaded up, the door locked, Elsa strapped in her seat happily sucking on a lollipop (since this is the only way I can get her to sit in her carseat without her pitching an absolute hissy-fit), and when I get ready to buckle Rollie’s seat belt he says, “I have to go pee-pee.” 

I know it’s trashy.  And it probably explains why our perennials haven’t come back in one particular spot of our flowerbeds.  But instead of herding everyone back inside so Rollie can relieve himself in the more appropriate place, I herd him to a corner of the driveway, where he is somewhat obscured by a scraggly bush, and I let him play fireman.  Who’s he hurting, really?  What’s the harm in having him go in the flowerbed instead of the toilet?  I mean, the fact that he doesn’t go in a diaper anymore (or the floor), is cause enough for me to encourage him to go somewhere, anywhere, else.  It probably saves me five minutes every morning, and believe me, those minutes add up.  Since we’ve been performing this little ritual I’ve probably racked up several hours.  In the time it takes to usher everyone into the bathroom, have Rollie do his business, shoo Elsa from the toilet, replace items she’s pulled out from the cabinet, pulled up pants, wash hands, wipe up soap that Rollie has managed to get all over the counter, mirror and floor, and lug everyone back out into the car…I’m sure I’ve saved myself enough time to read a book, give myself a pedicure, or do five loads of laundry (which is probably how this time was really spent).  I’d be crazy not to just let him whip it out and go.

Jeff disagrees.  His new favorite line to me is, Just because he can go anywhere doesn’t mean he should.  Jeff thinks that since I don’t have a penis, peeing freely is still a novelty to me.  And I’ll admit, he’s got a point there.  Jeff’s been watering plants and trees and cable boxes for years.  The fact that he can pee standing up, fully dressed and discreet, is just a way of life for him.  He’s never had to crouch, ass hanging out, clinging desperately to a tree trunk or car bumper, panicked and freaking out that someone is about to walk by and see a big pale butt looming in the distance, trying to hurry up and finish and trying to shake off the last bit, even though without TP this is an exercise in futility.  He doesn’t know how limiting it is to be born without the external equipment necessary to perform inconspicuous outdoor urination.  If I were to ever create a brochure for a sex-change facility, I would list “Peeing Standing Up,” as the top reason to undergo the procedure (with, “It’s Like Having Two Brains,” a close second).

I will admit lately I am getting kind of self-conscious with Rollie peeing wherever he can.  Like, the other day when I had family over, and while I was in the kitchen getting someone a drink, I looked out the window and saw Rollie in the middle of the backyard, pants around his ankles and his shirt pulled way up, watering the lawn like a decorative little fountain.  And despite the laughter erupting from my siblings, who were watching gleefully from the back porch, I couldn’t help feeling a little embarrassed.  Yes, it’s my own fault Rollie thinks the world is not only his oyster, but also his toilet.  Yes, I’m the one who taught him that he has every right to go when nature calls, despite his location or possible audience.  And yes, I am still impressed that guys can do this whereas Elsa and I are doomed to be forever typecast in the movie Crouching Pee-er, Hidden Potty. 

But perhaps the time has come for me to start teaching Rollie about a little word called discretion.  Maybe my instruction calls for a disclaimer: Yes, you have a built-in hose, and yes you can use it outside, under emergency circumstances.  Before you do, however, always make sure no one is looking.  Especially Daddy.

Note: This post is from a guest spot I recently did on my childhood friend's blog: The Hughes Triplets.  He and his wife have 2-year-old triplets and a 4-month-old daughter.  I can't even begin to imagine the blog posts I would write if I had triplets.....

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I Smell London, I Smell France

I did something today that I had forever promised myself I would NEVER EVER do.  Something I found horrifically disgusting in my previous life, something so grossly unnecessary and so unnecessarily gross, and every time I ever saw someone else do it I swore up and down, sideways and backwards that I would not, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ever be caught dead doing this.  Seriously, I always held the firm belief that if I ever got to this point in my life, someone would just have to shoot me immediately.

Today I determined whether my son's underwear was clean or not by smelling them.

I don't think I knew what I was doing when it happened.  The whole situation just sort of snuck up on me.  There I was, in the laundry room, pulling clothes from the dryer and folding them to made room for wet clothes that had sat fermenting in the washing machine from two days before.  I closed the dryer and noticed a little pair of Diego undies on the floor.

Hmmmmm.  Where did these come from?  They could have either fallen from the landry basket, dirty and waiting to be part of a load for the washer, or they could have come from the wrinkled, tangled mass of clean clothes I'd just pulled from the dryer.  How was I to tell?

I stooped to grab them, and then did the horrible, awful deed:  I put them to my nose and inhaled.  Deeply.

Now, before I am judged as harshly as I deserve to be, before everyone I know and love does a collective recoil from their computer screens and thinks, Ewwwwwww.....I thought I knew her!  I let her kids play with mine!  She's my own flesh and blood!  I see her on facebook all the time--who knew she was an underwear sniffer! let me defend my actions here:

I have kids.  And I have temporarily lost my mind.

I remember watching my grandmother fold laundry.  I can still see her--silver-haired, soft-skinned, her flowered blouse tucked neatly into pale pink polyester pants.  She hummed as she shook out my sister and my pants and shirts, folding them with origami-like precision.  As she plucked our undies from the pile of clothes, she held them up to her nose before placing them on the clean stack.  I always wondered why she did that.  And was always grossed out each time.  I would certainly never do that.  To me, smelling someone's underwear was a HUGE gamble that just wasn't worth the risk.  If the undies were clean, you were lucky to walk away with a scent of Downy and Wisk in your nose.  If they weren't clean, well, you were likely to have nightmares about it for weeks.  So not worth it.

This same mentality of mine to never rely on my sense of smell for any such deed carried over into the diaper realm, too.  My mother was a diaper-sniffer.  I cannot count the number of times I've seen her lift a young child up to her face, butt-first, to take a whiff of a possibly offensive diaper.  And I cannot tell you how many times I SWORE on every grave I could think of that I would never ever do this.  Why on earth would I put a diaper that was most likely filled with poo anywhere close to my face?  A visual inspection, while decidedly more inconvenient, would most definitely be my method of verification.  (Side Note:  I have also promised that I'll never stick my finger down the back of a possibly poopy diaper like I'm checking the oil of a noxious car, and I am proud to say I have held true to that pact.  That is a road down which I will never travel.)

So anyway, having kids has caused me to many many things I swore I'd never do.  Sniffing undies is just the latest in a long line of no-no's I'd smugly kept track of in my twenties, only to voilate, one-by-one, now that I have kids.  Spit-shining my kids' faces.  Drinking out of the same cup as them even though they are expert back-washers.  Buying them Crocs.  Letting them walk around in just a diaper.  The list goes on.

I guess I should just start embracing these things instead of lamenting in the fact that I have not met my pre-child expectations.  Because I am wiser than I was back when I created this mental list.  I am more experienced.  I have caught my son's puke in a plastic bag of apples at the grocery store.  I've seen things, man.  And next time I see a pair of undies on the floor and I'm not sure if they're clean, I will do what generations of moms have done before me....

But seriously, if I ever stick my finger into a diaper to see if it's dirty, please, please kill me.