Sunday, October 31, 2010

Learning Curve Ahead

This week has been somewhat...educational.

I've learned all sorts of useful things about my children, myself, my dog, my carpeting, and my current state of residence (Florida, although Insanity would have also worked in this context).  I feel like some of these things I should have already known, discovered through trail and error or come to the realization of after lots of alcohol.  But still I found myself surprised over and over by things that should have been as obvious as the white powder on Charlie Sheen's nose (What?  The guy has a baking problem...right?).

But then again, perhaps you, too, would have been surprised at some of these things.  I've put together a fun, interactive quiz to find out.

1.) Your child has been quite for two consecutive minutes.  This child is:

a.) sleeping
b.) watching Finding Nemo for the nine-hundreth time
c.) rubbing blush into your bedroom carpet
d.) has discovered your stash of Eclipse gum and is busily stuffing piece after delicious piece into her mouth (or other orifice of her choosing)

The correct answer has been All Of The Above at one time or other, but this week it was c.  And a special Thank You shout-out to all my friends who came through with some fabulous cleaning advice.  A little rubbing alcohol, a little Woolite, a little hydrogen peroxide, a little warm water and a bunch of towels later, and the once gigantic, pink smear looks almost invisible compared to the other stains speckling my carpet.

2.) Before you had children, your dog's favorite food was dog food (and the occasional bumblebee). Now that you have children, your dog's favorite food is:

a.) goldfish crackers
b.) macaroni & cheese-encrusted napkins
c.) peanut butter-encrusted napkins
d.) poop

Again, each answer has been correct at one time or another in the past 3 years, but unfortunately this week it was d.  It wasn't a lot of d., but really, how much d. does it matter?  It's like saying, Oh, it's just a little hair in your soup.  At least it wasn't an entire scalp.  Sometimes a little hair is much, much worse.

3.) Which phone number should you have first on your speed-dial?

a.) 911
b.) your nearest liquor store
c.) your friendly neighborhood exorcist
d.) poison control

This answer can actually vary from day to day.  This week the correct answer is d. It actually turned out not to be an emergency, but last night as I was fixing dinner, Elsa emerged from the bathroom with a tube of toothpaste.  She sort of has a thing for toothpaste, which is why I normally keep it  in various, unreachable places: The kitchen counter behind the bread.  On top of the fridge. Inside of a balloon, which I then swallow. But this was a small, sample size tube from the dentist, which I had squirreled away in the depths of a bathroom cabinet. And Elsa can hone in on toothpaste like my mother can detect doubloons in her backyard.

So Elsa came out with the toothpaste in one hand and the cap in the other, and when I swooped down to take it, I caught a whiff of mint coming from her mouth.  The tube was still full, but because I know my daughter is a garbage pail, I was certain she sampled some before bringing it to me. Right after she rubbed some into the carpet.

On the tube are the instructions: If more than is used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, call poison control immediately.  And since I usually do what I'm told, I snatched the attorney magnet from my fridge, found the poison control number and dialed it.  (Side note: Refrigerator magnets are my primary organizational tool.  Forget my iPhone, forget my notebook with names, numbers and addresses scrawled inside, forget my dozens of photo albums and framed pictures adorning my house. Every piece of important information in my life is stuck to my refrigerator with a magnet from either a pizza place, an attorney's office, or a letter of the alphabet. Refrigerator magnets hold my life together.)

The woman from our local poison control call center was calm and pleasant. She asked Elsa's age and size, and how much toothpaste she ate in teaspoons.  I figured not even one, to which the woman said Elsa would be fine.  And cavity-free until she's 80.

Okay, last question.

4.) The absolute best, most thoughtful thing your husband can bring you home after you've had a long day is:

a.) flowers
b.) take-out
c.) an appointment card for a vasectomy
d.) work

Yes, for me the answer is d. Sometimes I really really love my husband's job: 

Who says taking work home with you is a bad thing?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Birth Control And Easy Cheese

I recently read an article by Amy Wilson entitled "Could You Go A Week Without Yelling At Your Kids?"

I'll give you the short answer right now: No F-ing Way.

The author does make a valiant effort.  And has an epiphany around day five: "Multitasking Causes Yelling."

So true.

Let me give you an example: Ever try to talk on the phone around your kids?  Wait, let me rephrase--Ever try to talk on the phone to someone who doesn't yet have children around your kids?  It is the best form of birth control I can think of.  Forget encouraging teenagers to abstain (or join the school band). Forget lectures about STD's, condoms or the pill. Get them on the other end of a phone call from a parent with young kids, and high schools everywhere will be ordering Promise Rings by the case.

I was on the phone with one of my sisters the other day, and she asked if I was at an airport.   Apparently Elsa's shrieks of displeasure at my being on the phone sound very much like a 747 getting ready for take-off.  Some of my friends admit to locking themselves in their bathrooms when they want to conduct any sort of civilized phone conversation, but I am terrified that if I tried to do that, my children would somehow find a way to assemble (and test) an atomic bomb out of Thomas the Train accessories and suntan lotion.  Or at the very least they'd get into the stash of Halloween candy I've already opened and consumed half of.  Either way, the results would be bad.

What Amy Wilson and I--and I'm sure all of you--have discovered is that multi-tasking is unavoidable.  And hence, so is yelling.  And the more I multi-task, the more I yell.  The more I yell, the more the kids drive me crazy, and the less I can get done and the more I have to multi-task.  Sigh.  Who needs a drink?

I wasn't always a yeller, either.  I was one of those presumptuous a-holes who smugly thought, I am not going to be one of those moms.  I always imagined Moms Who Yell as the ones who have stringy hair and I'm With Stupid t-shirts and a waddle out of WalMart laden with bags full of cigarette cartons and cans of Easy Cheese.  The ones who yank their children by the arm, the ones who don't have the self-control necessary to refrain from raising their voices (or to stay away from WalMart during its 2 for 1 Easy Cheese sale).

I think I made it through Rollie's first year of life without yelling at him.  I do distinctly remember the first time I raised my voice loud enough to where the neighbors dogs started barking in response.  I was trying to change Rollie's extremely dirty diaper, and he was pulling that typical toddler act of rolling around and squirming because God forbid I try to remove fecal matter from his person.  Oh, someone call HRS, mommy's trying to prevent diaper rash and put me in clean pants!

Anyway, he succeeded in getting poop all over himself, me, and the changing table, and I just lost it.  I think I just yelled his name, but it was LOUD.  L-O-U-D.  I mean, I really didn't think I could reach decibel levels equivalent to an AC/DC concert.  I barked his name, sounding something between a drill sergeant and sea lion.  A very angry sea lion.

The thing was, it worked.  He was so stunned that he just lay there, his big eyes teared up, his little lip quivered, and he stopped kicking and rolling around long enough for me finish the medieval torture ritual of changing him.

Brilliant, I thought.  I finally found a chink in the armor.  I finally found a way to get his attention and make him listen.  I should have been yelling at him months ago!  The terrible twos are going to be a breeze!

At least they found that Chapstick I was looking for
Except that once the seal was broken, I started yelling at him a lot.  I wouldn't say All The Time, but I found myself yelling at him in circumstances when I previously would have internalized my anger and given myself a heart attack:  Not eating his breakfast, running away from me in a crowded department store, lapping water directly from the dog dish. Soon he found a way to ignore my gentle yells (or perhaps scar tissue had formed on his eardrums), and so I had to get louder for the same results.  I like to think of this phenomenon as the Weed Effect.  I wasn't yelling to get high, I was yelling to get even.  Only Up In Smoke wasn't nearly as funny this time.

I would like to yell less.  I would also like world peace, and some Easy Cheese.  Guess which one I'm asking for when that genie shows up.  Oh wait, don't you usually get three wishes?  Hmmm....Guess I'm all set then.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Deconstruction Of My Living Room Couch

Sometimes, you just gotta let the kids go nuts.

Right now almost every cushion from my three couches is on the floor.  Right now neither child is wearing enough clothing to go out in public, and they are both lounging on the floor, slack jawed and glassy-eyed, slurping down Ovaltine and watching Nick Jr like a couple of zombified, pale, half-naked Oompa-Loompas.

They are doing this because I'm done.  I've been trying to get to some of my neglected duties as a stay-at-home mom (vacuuming, laundry,  systematically dismantling the spiderweb apartment complex that has formed around the my kitchen chandelier...), but instead of playing quietly in their respective bedrooms like the children on planet Yeah-Right must do, they have tipped over Rollie's plastic basketball goal, Elsa is straddling the post like it's a horse and Rollie is pushing it by the base, inching her around the living room and shouting "Giddyup, Elsa!" at the top of his lungs.  Just another day at the Soooo-Not Okay Corral.

As soon as I convinced them that this was the way neither God nor Fischer Price intended for that toy to be used, they abandoned it and moved onto something far more constructive (at least I think so...I couldn't hear them over the roar of the vacuum, but Elsa only emerged once with a tear-streaked face, so I'm pretty sure they were involved in some nice, peer-building activities).

Because I soon grew tired of their pantomimed antics, I switched off the vacuum and began a frenzied disassembling of the couch.  Elsa and Rollie looked on, probably thinking, That's it...she's finally snapped.  We did it! (high-five)

After I'd thrown the cushions on the floor in a haphazard pile of polyester, I said, "Go for it."

They stared at me like I'd just tried to explain Conservation of Momentum.

"Here, you guys can jump around on all these pillows.  Go ahead.  Have fun."

I didn't need to tell them thrice.  They leaped onto the mountain of cushions and giggled like they were getting away with something so illicit even they weren't sure they should be doing it.  And while I don't normally encourage activities that include flinging their bodies off of pieces of furniture onto pillows while clad in only their underwear, at least I can get a few minutes peace knowing that they're not hitting, pinching, pushing or biting each other.  Yet.

For the past few months a phrase has been running through my head, one I heard countless times from my own father.  If he happened to be in ear shot while one of my siblings or I was complaining that we were bored, or we were trying to thwart our own boredom by trying to outdo each other in a Let's See Who Can Be More Obnoxious contest (which--according to Carrie--I was usually the victor), our father would frown and say, Why don't ya'll find something constructive to do?

My siblings and I were mystified by this suggestion.  Constructive?  What does he mean?  Like, make something out of construction paper? Build something with Lincoln Logs? Tinker Toys? Bubblegum wrappers?

My brother Matt would be the only one who really took this suggestion to heart--he spent countless hours making all sorts of things out of old computer punch cards.  Guns, sharks, the entire helicopter cockpit from the hit TV show Blue Thunder.  My sister and I would just sort of look at each other for while, until we started our apoplectic giggling because not only were we clueless as to what our father wanted us to do, but now we were also hilariously terrified that if we didn't find something constructive to do, our father was going to open up a can of whoop-ass.  (Side Note: Once we were past a certain age, Whoop-Ass became You Must Sit On The Couch For As Long As I Deem Necessary For You To Learn Your Lesson, Even If This Means You Will Have To Make Sure Your Prom Dress Coordinates With The Floral Pattern Of The Upholstery.)

So anyway, my point this time (yes, I actually have one for a change) is that sometimes you have to just let your kids go nuts.  Eat candy.  Run around in their knickers.  If for no other reason than so that you can get something done around your house that doesn't involve wishing your dog was a reliable baby-sitter so you can drive to the nearest bar and sit outside until it opens.

And as an added bonus, sometimes the little buggers will wear themselves out far better than you ever could:  

Friday, October 15, 2010

David And Goliath...And Rollie

I feel like Rollie has entered his Goth phase about 12 years early.  I'm this close to taking him shopping at Hot Topic and downloading him iTunes by The Cure and Bauhaus.  Also, I can't find my black eye-liner.  But that is possibly because it's in Elsa's mouth right now.

He spent a few days with his cousins last month.  These are the cousins who a few months ago saw Rollie as an annoying cling-on whose favorite word was 'poopy' (see All The World's A Pee-Pee Stage).  Now they see him as a sort of an expendable henchman, the kind that mumbles 'soda-water rhubarb' in the background and falls the instant one of the boys touches him with a light saber.

Its this act of falling that has sparked his latest fixation: Death.

For the past few weeks I've heard him telling various toys that they died, telling me he died, telling Elsa she's dead.  I'll ask him to go put on his socks and he'll just lie there and look up at me and if I sigh and ask him why in name of all that is pure in decent in the world isn't he performing this simple task, he'll explain that he can't because he's dead.

When we're out walking and run across the occasional mangled frog or lizard, he'll ask me if it's dead, and when I say yes instead of the immediate 'why' I used to get, he'll sit quietly for a minute or two, and then begin a whole new inquiry.

Rollie: How did he die?
Me: I don't know...I guess he was run over.  Or stepped on.
Rollie: Was he sick?
Me: Maybe.  Maybe he was too sick to get out of the way.  Maybe he was already dead when he got stepped on.
Rollie: Did anyone see him die?
Me: Um....That I couldn't tell you.
Rollie: Is he sad?
Me: Maybe before he died, but he can't really be sad now.  He can't really be anything now. Except maybe bird food. (Nice one.  Way to be vaguely existential with a three-year-old.)
Rollie: Why can he be bird food?
Me: Because some birds eat dead animals.
Rollie: Like robins?
Me: No, like vultures.
Rollie: ...It's not fun to be eaten.
Me: I can't imagine it would be, but the dead frog/lizard can't feel anything.  He won't know he's being eaten.
Rollie: Will the bird know?
Me: Yeah the bird will know.
Rollie: ...Birds are smart, Momma.

Yesterday I pulled from Rollie's school folder a little packet of coloring worksheets.  This week they learned about the letter D.  The packet was stapled together, and on the front was the title David and Goliath.  I paged through the contents, noting not only Rollie's remarkable coloring skills (and when I say remarkable I mean monochromatic and kind of half-assed), but also the careful approach these worksheets took when depicting the inevitable showdown and its ultimate conclusion...

No mention of why Goliath lost (although I do appreciate that there was no page with the caption David winged a wicked fastball of a stone right between Goliath's eyes that penetrated his skull and killed him), just that he lost.  And David won.  And David looks really good in a pink tunic.

But later that day Rollie busted out his plastic gladiator gear (see picture at the very top of the blog), and the following conversation ensued:

Rollie: Momma, I'm David and you're Goliath.
Me: Shouldn't I be wearing that stuff if I'm Goliath?
Rollie: ...Momma, you're David and I'm Goliath.
Me: Okay.
Rollie (squatting and stomping his feet like a sumo wrestler about to engage in some hand-to-hand combat): Raaaaaaahhhh!
Me: Wait...lemme find a sling.
Rollie (not waiting but running at me with his sword brandished): Raaaahhhh!
Me: Rollie, hang on a second.
Rollie (poking me with the end of his sword): I got you Momma.  You're dead.
Me: Rollie, do you even understand what that means?
Rollie: ...Momma, did Goliath win?
Me: No, remember? David won.
Rollie: ...and Goliath lost?
Me: Yep.
Rollie: Did Goliath die?
Me: ...Yeah.  He did.
Rollie: Why did Goliath die?
Me (wondering, do I give the scientific reasoning behind death itself, or is he just looking for a general explanation?): David hit him with a rock.
Rollie: ...and David won?
Me: Yep.
Rollie:...Momma, I'm David and you're Goliath.

When he first started using words like Death and Die in everyday conversations, I tried to discourage it.  But I guess I shouldn't.  This is just a new phase in learning about the world.  I remember around this time last year our fish ate it, and I was so worried Rollie would be upset, he would cry, he would decide right there that the world was a cruel place where you can't escape death and destruction even in your own foyer (see The Quick And...The Not-So-Quick).  Now I think I might actually encourage such a conversation.  Not that the world sometimes is a cruel place (he's got pleeeenty of time to figure that out), but that death is part of life, and the more he learns about the world, God, and the circle of life, the less afraid he will be, and the more he can focus on the good things in life.

Like The Cure.  And vultures eating dead frogs.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Worth A Ba-Jillion Words

So I've been meaning to write a blog, but instead I found some pictures of my kids to entice you with.  I will be writing a blog soon, mainly because Elsa has been throwing the most hilarious temper tantrums lately and I can't wait to document each and every one of them.  But in the meantime, here are some shots of the monsters I've taken over the last month or so....

Sometimes they actually behave like decent, self-respecting spider monkeys

Just in case you needed more photographic evidence that Rollie a.) never wears his clothes, and b.) is anal-retentive.

Oh wait, here's another one.

Who says self-sufficiencey is a good thing?  
Maybe Rollie IS ready to babysit Elsa

It was a Big-Girl bed for officially five hours and thirty-seven minutes.  Back in your cage, troll!

If it looks like he was strangling her, he probably was.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What-choo Gonna Do?

Last night, after the kids were bundled in their beds and all the shades were drawn, Jeff and I indulged in some luxuriously mindless yet effective couple-strengthening activities.

We watched COPS.

As we sat beside each other in bed, huddled beneath the covers, eyes affixed to the flickering flatscreen before us as people in uniforms attempted to manhandle unruly, shirtless, spitting people into the back of their squad cars, I had a revelation:

When people are drunk and/or under arrest, they behave A LOT like 3-year-olds.

It was actually quite hilarious.  One officer had received a call about a man who was publicly intoxicated.  As he approached the man, the officer began his line of questioning.

Officer: Stay where you are, please.
Drunk Guy:'s the police....
Officer: Sir, have you been drinking this evening?
Drunk Guy: Uh...Maybe....
Officer: How much have you had to drink tonight, sir?
Drunk Guy: Uh...two or three beers...four, tops.
Officer (pulling his cuffs from his belt): Sir, I'm gonna have to arrest you for public intoxication and open container.
Drunk Guy (holding out his beer and stumbling a little): Okay.  Okay.  Just...lemme just put this down first.
Officer: Sir, please turn around.
Drunk Guy (bending down to place his beer on the grass and seemingly pleased that he got it to stand up): Okay, just wait a second, here....hang on....uh...
Officer: Sir, turn around please.
Drunk Guy: Okay, okay, I will.  Just hang on a minute....
Officer (obviously unamused with this guy's antics): Sir, I'm not gonna ask you again. Turn around.
Drunk Guy: Hey now, I'm gonna....I just need a minute...
Officer: Sir...

Through his drunken haze, the guy seems to realize that the cop is this close to brandishing his billy club, and he reluctantly offers one arm to the cop.  One arm.  I love it.  I felt like I was watching a reenactment of me trying to get Rollie into the car to take him to school this morning.

Drunk Guy: Okay, okay.  See?  I'm co-op-er-ate-in'.  See?  Here, here's my arm...go ahead....
Officer (now behind the drunk guy): Give me your other arm, please.
Drunk Guy (holding up a cigarette in his non-cuffed hand):  Look at this....Look at this....
Officer: Sir, give me your other arm.
Drunk Guy (waves the cigarette around in front of him like he's about to perform a magic trick): Look.  Look at this....
Officer: ...Sir...
Drunk Guy: Hey now, just...just wait a minute--

Before Drunk Guy can attempt to stretch out this fiasco any further, the cop takes him by his one arm and flips him face-first onto the grass.  Not a difficult move considering the cop was pretty much holding Drunk Guy up at this point.  And I'll be golly-darned if Drunk Guy didn't start giggling while the cop kneeled on his back and finally got that elusive Other Arm into the handcuffs.

As the cop was dragging Drunk Guy into the squad car, Drunk Guy kept saying, "Why'd you have to go and do that? I gave you my arm.  Why'd you have to throw me like that?"

"You didn't give me your other arm."

"Yeah I did."

"No you didn't."

"...I did."


I'm pretty sure that's when Drunk Guy started spitting.  As the cop was sitting him down in the backseat, Drunk Guy leaned over and spit.

"Don't spit inside the car, sir."

"I'm trying to spit outside," Drunk Guy said.  Pretty indignantly, I might add.  As if he were being wrongly accused of perjury and was an upstanding citizen, possibly even with a decent job.

It was the first time I'd really watched COPS post-children.  It was like watching a train-wreck, a car accident, a kid having a temper tantrum in the middle of Target.  I couldn't look away because it was so familiar.  I thought back to all the times I've chased Rollie or Elsa across a park or down the driveway as I shouted at them to Stop! Halt! Freeze!  All the times I've stuffed their squirming bodies into the car, all the times I've stopped myself from breaking out the pepper spray as they argued with me about everything from washing their hands to taking a nap to whether or not it's too hot outside to go to a park.  I realize this is all about power, and how desperately children want to cling to whatever scrap of it they think they have like it's some magical and delicious piece of candy that will not only grant their every wish but will also eventually turn into a unicorn.  And they'll be golly-darned if I win the Hot Outside argument, even if they look out the window to see lizards spontaneously combusting in our driveway.

I now feel like I have a slight glimpse into the world of being a beat cop.  I know how it feels to try to contain the rage building inside you as your repeated orders go unheeded, or worse, when someone tries to argue with you all the reasons why he can't follow simple directions.  Okay, so it's not like my child may or may not be carrying a concealed weapon (although ping pong paddles can be pretty effective at delivering some blunt force trauma to baby sisters).  It's not like I have to worry about my kid car-jacking someone and leading me in a high-speed chase (although lately I have to actually put in some effort to chase him down on foot--and it's now impossible to do so in flip-flops).  It's not like I fear for my life every time I have to confront Elsa engaging in disorderly conduct or public urination.

But I do feel like I understand on a small scale how difficult it is to maintain your own self-control when you are constantly dealing with people who think spitting is an acceptable form of communication.  Or that they can outrun you even though they aren't wearing any pants and trip over their own feet.  Or that they can talk their way out of a jam if they argue loudly enough.  It's one of the more challenging aspects of motherhood:  Keeping your cool in the midst of chaos.  Sometimes I can do it, but sometimes, like when I tell Elsa to stop chewing on the coffee table and instead of complying with this simple request, she lunges at me with her teeth bared, I really really wish I had a taser.  

Alright....Time for a Dunkin run.  Peace out.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Evil Lady With The Enormous Ass

The other day I experienced an emotion so foreign to me that for a while I wasn't sure how to classify it.  Which is why I'm so late in getting up a blog about it (well, that plus I was out of town last week and have spent the last three days navigating my suitcase-strewn house and scraping refrigerated Mystery Leftovers from various tupperware containers and down the garbage disposal).  I simply wasn't sure how to explain what recently went down at my friendly neighborhood Burger King.

I seriously have not felt this way since the seventh grade, when I, crouched atop a toilet tank in the middle school girls' lavoratory, overheard Heather Everts and Deanna Giordano discussing my inability to fit into my cheerleader uniform.  I burst forth from that putty-colored stall, threw the uniform on the floor and stormed out, my chubby little hands shaking uncontrollably.

Rage.  That is the emotion.  Rage directed at another human being.  A complete stranger.  And a mother.  With a giant ass.

(Side Note: The size of her ass is actually irrelevant, but I am still so pissed that I plan to literarily bitch-slap this woman as much as I can.  Yes, it's juvenile, catty, and may take away whatever credence I have as a mature, sensible adult, but f*ck it.  This lady's ass was bigger than a keg of beer.)

I had asked a friend of mine to meet me at Burger King so our kids could play together.  Her kids are about the same age difference as Rollie and Elsa, only nine months older, so I consider her my parenting guru. The Mr. Miyagi to my Daniel LaRusso of motherhood.  Whenever I think I'm about to lose my mind with my kids' latest phases (smothering each other, public nudity, hiding urine-soaked pull-ups beneath various pieces of furniture), my friend will just smile and calmly say, "I remember that one," or, "You are exactly where I was a year ago." And since her kids are adorable, pleasant and well-adjusted, it's nice to have visible evidence that mine won't turn out to be complete a-holes in a few months.

It was hot out, niether of my children were napping, and the only way I could keep myself from speaking in Scream was to bustle them off to Burger King's plastic, primary-colored petri dish of a play place.  And since my friend is usually down for a little BK, I called her and asked her to meet me there, STAT.

We sat together and chatted while our children crawled, climbed and hollered to each other through the giant tubes and winding slides.  Another pair of moms sat near us, their children older and thus more adapt at navigating the equipment, circumventing Elsa when she was a roadblock and leaping over Rollie and his friends if they got in the way.  All seemed calm and happy as the kids played in relative, albeit deafening, harmony.

A few times one of the older boys emerged from the tunnels and said something to his mother (the one with the huge ass).  I caught snippets of 'boy in the white shirt' and 'hitting me' but wasn't sure exactly what the problem was.  The huge-assed lady shot a dirty look in our direction, said something in response to her son and he ran back to the playground, yelling for his friend to wait-up.

My friend sighed, then called up a warning to her son, who was crawling through a mesh tunnel about twenty feet over our heads.  "If you hit, no one is going to want to be your friend," she told him.

He peered down at us through the netting like a cherubic little fish, then yelled, "Here I come, Rollie!"  The equipment shook and shuddered as two-hundred-plus pounds worth of kids wormed around within the tubing.  And as I mentally calculated how many different strains of ebola Elsa was likely to have on her hands, the older kid leaped from the slide and went over to his mom again.

"Uh-oh," I said to my friend.

She just shrugged.  "If he's hitting other kids, they're probably doing something to him.  And then he'll figure out that he won't have any friends if he does that."

That seemed reasonable.  Her son wouldn't just come at some bigger, older kid like a rabid spider monkey, fists clenched and arms flailing.  It's not like he's a heavy-weight boxer or some 'roided-up professional athlete.  These kids were literally twice his age, twice his size, and perfectly capable of avoiding the accused hitter if they really wanted to. Besides, this was a good learning opportunity for the kids.  Mommy's not gonna fight all your battles for you.  Unless Mommy has a giant ass.  In which case Mommy is going to start yelling at the younger, smaller, weaker kid's mom and cause a huge scene in the middle of a peaceful fast food establishment.

Finally the other moms corralled their children and collected their things to go.  As the gaggle walked by our table, the big-assed lady muttered something about 'no respect.'  As soon as she passed through the glass door into the restaurant side of Burger King, she whirled around and started gesticulating wildly at my friend.

What the hell?

I guess because my friend and I were just sitting there staring at her as she went on her tirade, the woman came back and pushed open the door.

"I have absolutely no respect for you as a mother," the lady shouted.


"Your son was hitting my kids, he was shaking the equipment, he was kicking that little girl while she lay on the ground!  There's obviously something wrong with him!"

Wait a second.  Obviously something wrong with him?  So now apparently this woman can diagnose a psychological disorder in a complete stranger's child based on him shaking the Burger King playground equipment and taking a few swipes at a bigger kid, possibly in self-defense?  Good Lord, if that qualifies a kid as having 'something wrong with him,' then Rollie belongs in a strait-jacket until he turns 30.  Which, come to think of it, wouldn't be such a bad idea....

My friend and I both started talking at the same time, but the woman just shook her head and flounced out, her ass jiggling behind her, the seams of her pants straining with effort to keep it contained.  (I know, I know...I am an immature's not like I have the World's Tightest Ass, either.  But at least I don't publicly question the parenting techniques of complete strangers.)

My friend seemed pretty calm about the whole thing, but I was stunned.  I couldn't believe the nerve of this woman, telling my friend something was wrong with her son.  Wrong with him.  What the f*ck is that supposed to even mean?  Was the lady pissed that my friend didn't immediately rush into the play place, haul her son out by the ear and start screaming at him?  Has this lady never in her life seen little boys play together?  How dare she tell another mother there's something wrong with her child?  I think there's something wrong with her, eating Whoppers when she can barely fit into her black dress slacks.  Let me tell you something, stupid, mean lady.  You have terrible hair, and angry heart, and your black pants aren't slimming even by the furthest stretch of the imagination.

For the next week I went through all the ways I would have handled the situation if it had been reversed.  If I felt that Rollie was being wrongfully attacked by a younger child.  I realize this would mean a one-year-old would be the attacker, but I guess that's kind of the point.  Even if Rollie was sitting there, minding his business, and a littler kid came up, unprovoked, and hit Rollie on the head, I would simply have Rollie go play somewhere else. I would still teach Rollie to remove himself from the situation.  Teach Rollie that he always has control.  Teach him that the day I condone yelling at another parent and psychoanalyzing her child will be the day I feather my hair and have an ass so large it provides enough shade for a picnicking family of four.

So there you have it.  My immature rant.  I hope the next time this lady feels compelled to ream out a fellow mom, she makes sure that mom isn't sitting next to someone who's a loyal friend, imperfect parent and dedicated blogger.