Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On the Troublesome Tooth Fairy...

It’s taken forever for my seven-and-a-half-year-old to lose his baby teeth, but just last week he lost his third neophyte nibbler and is making up for lost time with at least five others wiggling for their chance to go out in a blaze of glory. He was beaming when he jumped into the car and simultaneously produced the tiny green treasure box housing his dubious prize, along with the yellow carbon documenting his first official visit to the school nurse. At the time, I was still recovering from an emotionally wearisome search for my three-year-old, who had secretly slipped out the front door in what he later explained as an innocent wish to “check out the neighborhood.” In my all-too-familiar state of depletion, and now dread knowing that I’d be adding to the evening’s to-do list, I asked with the manufactured enthusiasm of James Franco hosting the Oscars, “That’s great honey. What do you think the tooth fairy will bring you?” He animatedly replied, “Well, she brought my friend Joey the Clone Wars LEGO video game he wanted.” As I added up the damage in my head, I couldn’t help but wonder who the heck this tooth fairy thought she was and why she was messing with my universe? Is one dead baby tooth really a fair trade for a $49 video game?

Until that moment, I’d never even questioned the tooth fairy. What’s not to like? Your tooth falls out, you put the tiny amalgam of calcium, phosphorus and dental pulp under your pillow, and voilĂ ! Everyone wins. I don’t remember my teeth fetching more than a quarter each, but it was enough to buy a Jolly Rancher at the local market, so I didn’t complain. Now the tooth fairy is just one more imaginary friend in the cast of characters who live to drain my bank account. And if I was going to have to commit to this gig for 17 more teeth and then again for my youngest, I thought I should research what kind of tooth fairy I wanted to be.

A quick Google search later and I was immersed in all things dental meets fantasy. Apparently the tradition started among the British and Irish, with first traces of the custom not showing up here until the early 1900s. Children buried their teeth outside, but didn’t hit pay dirt until they’d lost their sixth tooth. (Unfortunately pun intended) I have no idea when the tooth fairy decided to upgrade overnight accommodations to the pillow, but I had to give her props for being my sort of gal.

The most fertile bit of research came from an online conversation thread that went on for 11 pages, inspired only by a Dutchman’s desperate search for tooth fairy answers because his British friend had blabbed to his son about her existence. Now he found himself beholden to figure out how to keep his son’s accidental dream alive. His questions were basic: “What does she look like? Where does she live? How big is she?” And my personal favorite, “Why does she like teeth?” As I read through the goldmine of responses (do these people work?), it was clear that most were just as confused as I was and yet, despite subtle variations on the theme, there were some very distinct versions of the tooth fairy that were alive and well. And then, of course other contributions —like the guy who wanted to turn his kid’s lost tooth into a ring—left me hoping some would consider seeking professional help immediately if not sooner.

There was the Trump Fairy: The American Dental Association published a survey reporting one of their respondents in Manhattan gave $1.2 million for their child’s first tooth and employed a sliding scale for each subsequent tooth lost. I’m trumped daily by all things motherhood, but this is ridiculous.

The Fairy With an Attitude: One Mom, after hearing her little girl’s plans to wait up and catch the Tooth Fairy in action, took the tooth undetected, left money and a note that said, “Better Luck Next Time.” I think you’ll agree that “sucker” was the implied close.

The Budget Fairy – No surprise, there were several versions of the budget fairy, but my favorite was the Dad who told his children they were lucky to get a dime because “Even the dime – the lightest of all American money — was difficult for the Tooth Fairy to carry.”

The Forgetful Fairy – There were more than a few who had to leave their little teeth under the pillow for several days before anything showed up. God bless the little tikes for keeping the faith.

The Absent-Minded Fairy – One man’s parents left notes without so much as an attempt to alter their penmanship, so he started writing letters along with his pulled tooth, saying, ”Dear Tooth Fairy – you are a FAKE – you have my Dad’s handwriting!” Smart kid? Think again, he just passed up free stuff times twenty.

The Creepy Fairy- This was by far, the richest of all Tooth Fairy categories I stumbled upon which can be summed up in one insightful person’s response to the question, “Now that I think of it, I can’t really think of a non-creepy story as to why there’s a fairy who likes to collect children’s baby teeth. Others suggested that the Tooth Fairy was life-sized. Good luck getting your kid to sleep after floating that notion by them. One English girl missed her teeth so much she wrote a note the next night with the money that was left and a note asking for her tooth back. She went on to say she still has them in a box and delights in showing them to people to freak them out. I bet she’s a fun first date. One of my favorite and frequently suggested Tooth Fairy explanations as to why the Tooth Fairy collects our dental discards is that she lives in a castle made of children’s teeth. I hope she never has to sell in a soft market.

What I didn’t know is that the Tooth Fairy has in fact, inspired a cottage industry of horror films on the subject. In one self-titled gem, the Tooth Fairy is an evil disfigured witch who kills children for their teeth and traps their souls on earth. In another, tooth fairies are depicted as small, ravenous creatures with a taste for calcium. And in case you’re wondering, it goes downhill from there, including one with an ending ripe for a sequel and some slightly off film student to use as his final project. Yikes.

The most worthy of my research came in the form of sound advice from a woman who urged anyone describing their brand of Tooth Fairy to be vague. Brilliant: built-in insurance that the details won’t trip you up in the future. I ultimately decided I would keep it mysterious and cheap.

So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered Jack had hit the daily double because my visiting mother slipped an additional five-dollar bill under his pillow thinking we might forget. Little did she know that we had only put a five-dollar bill under his pillow because we were out of ones. Thinking fast, I told him he must have been rewarded so handsomely because it was one of his fancy incisors. Clearly, this confirms that I’m a budget fairy, (although I wouldn’t rule out attitudinal), but I can’t see bankrolling Jack’s video game addiction when he did nothing more than experience a little movement under his gums. Unfortunately, my mom’s maneuver and my little white lie commit me to at least one more Hamilton for this tooth’s neighbor, but that’s life.

In the meantime, I don’t really care what kind of fairy you want to be, but can we all just make a pact to do a little price-fixing around here? Otherwise, I’ll be spending the lion’s share of my tax refund on dead baby teeth, while one eccentric pixie gets to upgrade her castle.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

On @#$%^&! Snow Days…

Usually I feel uniquely trampled by the state of motherhood, but as I sit down to write of my experience with winter’s timeless parental pitfall, I have no doubt I’m in good company. I’m talking, of course, about the cold weather calamity that would chink even the mental armor of the venerable Super Nanny: snow days. Few of us stand a chance.

I didn’t grow up in the Midwest or on the East Coast – so I can’t wax poetic about the much anticipated snow days of my past. No, there’s no snow in California unless I want there to be, so instead I only get the view from this angle. The one that has me desperately pleading for school to be back in session while my little rivals are begging for another day of wanton bedlam at home.

At first I was elated that I didn’t have to get up at 5:45AM to pack lunches, brush the dragon breath off of everyone’s teeth and wrangle them into their clothes just in time to lurch into the drop-off line before the last bell rang. But then I realized, thanks to Murphy and his damn law that my kids can smell “snow day” like a pack of wolves to a carcass and won’t sleep in because, for once, their mother actually can. I’d brazenly ignored all preparation warnings from the affable, local news team so I neither had a plan nor the ability to drive to a friend’s house where there might be safety in numbers and my one sliver of hope for survival. Next, I light bulb the fact that my husband is out of town, the cupboards are bare and I’m pretty sure I’m looking at another two days of being trapped like a wild animal or should I say “with” the wild animal. (Sorry, Cameron, but if the snow shoe fits.)

In a panic, I scoured the Internet for “snow day activity” ideas and even found some that sounded pretty good. But staying true to character, I didn’t have the supplies necessary to pull any of them off. Besides, I was really looking more for “independent play” pursuits to help ease the mental health drain during our winter lockdown, which admittedly took more effort since all those other people obviously thought snow days were good opportunities to spend quality time with their kids.

I finally found an article after my own heart. The first entry on the list was “Reading.” Flop #1: Reading was misinterpreted by Jack to mean nipping at my heels with his joke book as I traveled through the house and he asked me “What do you call…” jokes with the rapid-fire delivery of an Uzi and the commitment of a drooling Labrador with a ball and a dream. When he realized I’d stopped guessing answers, he switched gears to delighting me with his genetic aptitude for puns (thanks Dad) including, “Don’t worry Mom, I snow what to do!” and “Mom, I snow that you hid my DS,” and “That’s snow punny. Get it, Mom, get it?”

Flop #2 directly coincided with independent activity idea #2 which forced me to consider something no self-respecting “fake” mother of the year ever would: crafts (did I just say that out loud?). Sadly, I found myself seduced by the fact that said option promised kids who would be occupied for hours. Five minutes later I found myself scanning the page for idea #3: Audio books—good one, don’t have any. Numbers four through six weren’t applicable and I was back to trying to explain to Jack that playing a game with his brother didn’t mean mimicking everything he said until he had a nervous breakdown while also explaining to Cameron that Legos were a building activity, not a demolition derby of destruction. I even tried getting them to play outside. It took me a full thirty minutes to get them properly suited up while it took them, just shy of seven minutes to realize that snow is cold. It didn’t stop there, of course, but lucky for you, I’ve only got 850 words.

By the seventh snow day, I’d let the kids watch more TV than a prison inmate and spend more time with the Wii than the guys who designed it. I didn’t even care that Cameron wouldn’t break from his “kitty” character long enough to have a drink and just started serving his milk in a bowl by the table. You know it’s bad when the kids start asking you if they should get dressed and you say, “Eh, what’s the point?” Shortly thereafter I found myself shoveling the driveway in my pink sheep pajamas and my husband’s oversized snow boots.

I guess it wasn’t all bad news. Cameron was able to put in substantial hours to perfect his on demand burp feature. And Jack continued to step up his comedic skills whenever he could, including the time I asked if there was anything else I could get him during dinner and he said, “yes, a plasma TV, a petting zoo and my own tropical island.” Everyone’s a comedian.

While the spring-like weather has prompted me to be cautiously optimistic, I’ve packed my bags for the funny farm. Because if there’s even one more snow day this season, I’m going to have a permanent meltdown. And that’s snow lie.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On the Year of the Rabbit...

Every January we make resolutions— they’re lofty, hopeful and we’d wager our firstborn that THIS is the year we’ll finally make good on them. Unfortunately for parents of young children, the path to success is a minefield of poopy diapers, explosive tantrums and piles of laundry that work tirelessly to make any valiant resolution attempts an inevitable failure — and that’s just the first week. So after squandering this past January, I realized that we’ve been going about this all wrong. February should be the REAL New Year for those of us who rarely get to pee alone or have precious little time for a shower. It reminded me of that old Seinfeld episode when George’s father introduced us to “Festivus,” a made-up celebration to escape the pressures of commercialism during the holiday season. “A Festivus for the rest of us!” is what he called it. This will be a little like that. A New Years for everyone who gets buried by January’s booby-trapped road to disappointment. And, no, I’m not talking to the annoying overachiever I saw jogging down the street in 20 degree below temperatures last week (you know who you are). Nay, this is a New Year’s proposal for those of us who are just trying to make it through the day, because you can’t hit the ground running when your January goes something like this…

We spent New Year’s Eve at a friend’s house, and even though we toasted with New York, by the time we drove home and put the kids to bed it was at least 11:30pm. The next day, hindered by sleep-deprivation and a single champagne glass hangover, I couldn’t rally the troops for the New Year’s 5K we’d planned to join in an effort to start the year right. After that, I decided it would be a shame to spend an official holiday eating salads and drinking tea so I vowed to ignore my vices for the last day ever and set my “clean living” clock a day ahead. But the next day turned out to be mere 24 hours away from a time-honored fresh start Monday and really, who am I to mess with tradition? Monday arrives and the alarm clock blares at 5:30am to which I audibly curse. Strike one. Hitting the snooze button prompts me to skip my workout, and now it’s only 6:15 in the morning and I’m two for two. This is followed by Cameron’s first irrational tantrum of the New Year, provoked only by the idea of getting dressed for his first day of preschool after two weeks of vacation. I realized then that this week had to be our “recovery” week to get back into a recognizable routine. Besides, how can I start eating healthily when all I have in the refrigerator is a block of Gruyere cheese from a quiche my “ideal self” planned to make, the healthy rice flax crackers I bought that no one in the house—including me—will touch, loads of condiments and a sad little crusty heel of bread? And if we don’t polish off the last of the Christmas goodies lingering in the pantry, they’d spend the rest of the month calling my name.

Next up, the “save money” line item gets cashed out when my vacuum cleaner handle cracks, and my iron takes its last breath in a dazzling fireworks display at the base of the cord (which I didn’t even notice until both of my boys were yelling at me that I was on fire). To make matters worse, my microwave goes on strike and decides it no longer wants to heat water, let alone chicken nuggets, which in my kitchen reads: threat level, red and an official state of emergency. So now, instead of “more dates with my husband,” I’m cheating on him with the appliance man, Bed, Bath and Beyond and the guy in Siloam Springs who repairs vacuums.

I’m ready to start, but now it’s freezing and the kids score their first snow day, which means I skip the gym because I’d never forgive myself if they picked up a nasty germ at the daycare and had to miss another day of school. Plus, Cameron is now having tantrums when he can’t play the Nintendo DS that Santa brought him, so we decide that both boys will be on an electronic hiatus. This move incidentally does wonders for my “spend more quality time with the kids” entry but kind of rocks my “less yelling, stress eating and wine” rule so either way, the scales tip in the wrong direction. And with that, the rest of the week follows suit as “drinking mostly water and tea” becomes “mostly wine and caffeine,” yelling returns like an old friend and sleep deprivation gets another turn at bat.

The kids have now been in school long enough for them to catch some sort of bug, which leads to three sleepless nights and totally negates the possibility of even thinking of getting up at 5:30am because I barely have enough energy to brush my teeth. The discovery of the booger wall next to the boys’ bunk bed (so riddled with constellations it could have been a GPS system for the three wise men) doesn’t help either and I narrowly make it to Sunday with bloodshot eyes and non-existent resolve.

It’s Monday again, but now it just feels wrong to begin at the end of the month and since I’ve already tainted January, it only makes sense to start with a clean slate. Chinese New Year has been celebrated in February for centuries so it’s not like I’d be ringing it in alone, and 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. I like rabbits.

I did finally cull through the nearly 3,000 e-mails that had piled up over the last year even though it was only because I’d accidentally hit the wrong command button, but since it’s my only resolution left standing, I’m going to ride its coattails right into February, my newly adopted New Year from now on. So I humbly deem February 1st Happy “Do” Year. Anyone with me? It’s only 28 days and all those misguided January enthusiasts will have already abandoned their treadmills. Oh, and for those of you worried about Valentine’s Day getting in the way – I’ve thought of that too—but since most of us moms are receiving gas station roses and cards from the car wash, I’m giving it an “all clear.” So…what are the chances February starts on a Monday?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On Girl Scout Cookies & Other Resolution Busters...

Just when you think you’ve conquered the most stressful time of the year, suddenly it’s January and the pressure is on to reevaluate, assess the passing year’s damage and brace yourself to take on the overwhelming task of fixing all that’s wrong with your life. Lucky for me, my resolution making usually requires little more effort than grabbing last year’s resolution file and changing the date at the top of the page to the current year. I was reminded of this excruciating, self-loathing ritual when a dear friend said she’d just come from her daughter’s Daisy Scouts meeting where they’d had a lengthy discussion about Girl Scout Cookies.

Brilliant marketing ploy by the way, Girl Scouts - cute AND peddling the most addictive cookies in the world. When? Oh yes, in February when it’s early enough that we’re all still vulnerable to slip-ups and yet late enough that we can convince ourselves we’ve given the “getting in shape” line item a healthy shot. I know, it’s tax deductible. I’m assuming I’ll also be able to deduct the personal trainer and higher club level gym membership I’ll have to buy just to work off that box of thin mints.

Of course my big resolutions almost always include lose weight, save money, stop swearing, drink less wine, eat more vegetables and re-introduce myself to the other adult in the house. And when I use the term “adult” that’s just me trying to start the year off right for resolution number eight: “Be nicer to my husband.” But seriously – how is anyone supposed to stick to a resolution strategy when we live in a culture commodious with temptation?

Saving money becomes impossible when everyone you know has something to support– marathons for good causes, team sports, schools, dance troupes – you name it. In fact, the other day a neighborhood kid came by the house selling raffle tickets, trying to raise money for his baseball team. Having been one of those kids peddling support back in the day myself, I always feel compelled to pay up in tribute to all those nice people who found it in their hearts to do the same for me, so I reached for my wallet and asked what it was they were raffling. He proudly pulled out a brightly colored picture embellished with stars surrounding the big prize: a pump action Remington shotgun. A shotgun? Really? I think we can all agree that a shotgun is the last thing I want hanging around when I break all my resolutions.

The first public tantrum of the year Cameron brings me will take care of my “no more swearing” attempt. Of course my favorite, most cathartic expletives will find their way into the closest pillow I’ll find to scream them into or when I find the car keys, politely excuse myself and lock myself in the car until I’ve screamed so long I can’t talk, but it will still count. And let’s face it, giving up wine when you’ve been married for more than fourteen years and have two kids under the age of seven, well, that’s just cruel.

But don’t you worry Girl Scouts of America – I love what you do and I love your damn cookies so I’ll restrain my old twitch as I write the check and invite those salacious plastic towers inside my house. But for the record, your cutesy ironic little names are not lost on me. “Tagalongs” should really be “Can’t believe these Girl Scout cookies have been tagging along my thighs since February.” And Do-Si-Dos should be changed to: “I’m going to have to Do-Si-Do my buns off if I eat these.” Thin Mints: well, that’s just too easy. My favorite, however, is the company’s “Thanks-a-lots.” So that’s it: “Yo, Girl Scouts, thanks a lot for sabotaging my New Years Resolution diet in less than a month!” I think I’ll find my fat pants, waddle down to the liquor store and pick-up a pack of Slims.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On the Twelve Days of Motherhood...

I love Christmas, but I find it disconcerting that Christmas carols start playing in October and I find myself unconsciously humming these classic little ditties so often that by the time my favorite holiday arrives I can’t stand to hear them anymore. I’ve heard the “Twelve Days of Christmas” more than a few times already and began wondering — what kind of true love gives you fowl you don’t want and an ensemble cast of characters who are too happy for their own good? And furthermore, where are on earth is this proverbial recipient going to store them all? But then it occurred to me that I have a couple of miscreant true loves who’ve given me more than a few things I don’t need from the other foul category and decided this time-honored carol needed an update. To save time and space, I’ll begin with the last verse:

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
Motherhood gave to me…

12 Thousand Sleepless Hours
11 Tubs of Vomit
10 Walls with Crayon
9 Tons of Clutter
8 Million Hours a’ Washin’
7 Years a’ Dateless
6 Tee Pounds a’ Lingering
5 Per-cent Brain Loss
4 Million Days of Whining
3 Years of Chaos (Is Cameron really only three?)
2 Saggy Mammaries

And a Man-da-tory Hysterec-to-Meeeeee!

I guess I could also write it like this:

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
Motherhood gave to me…

12 Thousand Hugs and Kisses
11 Tons a’ Handmade Art
10 New Ways to Love
9 Hundred Hours a’ Dancing
8 Million Times a’ Cuddling
7 Years of “Love Yous”
6 Thousand Fits a’ Laughter
5 Beams of Pride
4 Little Feet
3 Times a Bigger Heart
2 New Reasons to Live

And the Most Precious Gifts That I Have Eeever Haaaad!

I could, but then people might think I’ve gone soft…

Sunday, October 24, 2010

On Thanks-gaming...

I should love this time of year: the leaves embrace fall fashion, the sun is shining, the air is crisp, and everybody is gearing up for the magic of the holidays…and then there it is, the big crack in my personal paradise. Fall sports season. Almost any day of the week you can drive through a typical suburban neighborhood anywhere in America and see not-so-festive flickering lights in nearly every house on the street as someone lurks inside watching games, games and more games, while the kids exploit the lapse in supervision to put one of their Hot Wheels in the microwave. Picture-in-picture, dueling television sets, computer screens, cell phones – you name the multimedia device –they’re using it for sports numb. I’m not just complaining about the men either. I recently lost at least six ladies to a local college football game when I hosted a baby shower – and that included one of my co-hosts. I’m thankful for a lot of stuff, but the very dependable tradition of fall sports addiction is not one of them. I say, bah humbug to it all.

Last week my husband told me that I “didn’t understand.” That the fall sports season is the “perfect storm for sports fans.” Then he went into an energized rant as he rattled off all the pieces to the puzzle: pro football, college football, major league baseball playoffs, pre-season pro-basketball— even hockey season —all coming together to make him forget he has kids and a wife who is still struggling to rebuild brain cells from her two swings at pregnancy. In fact, I hadn’t seen him that animated since he rediscovered his whitewashed Guns & Roses jacket in the attic last winter.

I know I’m a girl, but I seriously don’t get it. I used to play sports so I technically get it, but assuming the couch position to watch other people making big bucks to play a game seems painful. Pretty soon it will be Thanksgiving Day, the mother of all spectator sports days, and a tradition that’s been in place since the 1920s. I know because I looked it up. I don’t even think people care what they’re watching after awhile — they’re just mesmerized by the flying pigskin and pretty lights on the big screen. And sitting in front of the TV means you won’t have to hear Aunt Ida talk about her latest colonoscopy results.

I asked my husband the other day if we could take the kids for a hike and enjoy the beautiful weather. His eyes were shifty as he so eloquently said, “uh, well…um…” to which I responded with an impatient, “What?” So he just came out with it. “Well, my game is on at 3:30.” “YOUR game?” I repeated. “I’m sorry, YOUR game? Really?? Are you getting any monetary benefit from wasting three to five hours of your life that you can NEVER get back sitting in front of the television getting an ulcer while you’re giving directives to people who can’t hear you, and furthermore don’t care? I sincerely hope so, because you’re going to need it for the marriage COUNSELORRRRRR!”

I know there was a reason I married him, but just by looking at him now, you wouldn’t think he’s the smartest member of the fan base, or for that matter anyone who could have turned my head. All his goofy hats come out, previous championship t-shirts, and we don’t have any, but if we did, no doubt all the appropriate team flags and blow up sports paraphernalia would be garnishing our lawn and car. I ask him to tape the games so he won’t miss out on life, but he insists, again, that I “don’t understand.” He has to watch it live because it’s “history in the making” and if he’s not “there” apparently he can’t claim it as part of his own history. To which I say it is NOT part of your history, because if it were, I’d have a nanny, a gourmet chef, a personal trainer and be spending my holidays beachside living the dream on our shared profits.

Listen, I’d like to spend three and a half hours watching back-to-back Oprah makeover shows while Brad Pitt gives me a foot massage and George Clooney brings me dirty martinis, but there’s laundry to do, dishes to wash and sanity to reclaim. So honey, if you want to start making an investment in your future living conditions, which will happen sooner than you think, and be decided on by your children, I suggest you choose another team. Their jerseys usually sport a culinary roadmap from snack time to their evening chow, they’re not the most coordinated bunch and will often score points for the other team, but you will have ample opportunity to shout instructions that fall on deaf ears. And if you do choose the team of tiny people who share your DNA, I promise I’ll cancel that appointment I made with the therapist.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On Potty Training and The Ugly Cry...

Whoever said “life is a marathon, not a sprint” obviously didn’t have a three-year-old who needed potty training before they’d let him into preschool. Two and a half hours three times a week alone? This is exactly the kind of deadline that a facetious Mother of the Year like myself would crawl through a cesspit of rat sludge to pull off. Unfortunately, potty training Cameron (said three-year-old) has turned out to be less of the sprint that I desperately need it to be and instead, a grueling marathon of embattled wills and soiled underwear. I mistakenly underestimated my competition and it’s clear that neither of us will make it over the finish line without permanent damage. If I ever get there, I will deserve a medal—and I just might make it into a necklace.

My first son Jack was potty trained in about a week. There were a few tears and even a little three-year-old Baby Ruth that ended up on the playroom floor, but he walked into preschool a proud big boy and ne’er an accident since. His little brother, on the other hand, is a stubbornly independent, free-spirited and notorious “poop disturber” who clearly has no interest in disturbing the poop routine he’s had going now for the last 40 months. We’ve got every book, including the modern classic Everybody Poops. We made a big deal of picking out a special potty. We’ve had big brother mentoring, reward charts, the M&M candy bribes and even Dr. Phil’s ridiculous Potty Party. My doctor said it’s a “control” issue. Yes. Now that we’ve established that infuriatingly obvious conclusion, what do I DO about it?”

Six months later, I still don’t know. But what I do know is that when potty training boys, it helps to have a little insight into their anthropological heritage and the male psyche. Boys can’t just embrace the fact that their castoffs have a place to go, they need to believe they’ve made a worthy contribution to mankind. I’m assuming this concept harkens back to their Stone Age ancestors. Man make fire. Boy make poop. For instance, potty training didn’t click for my nephew — a big Sesame Street fan at the time—until he pooped the letter of the day. Jack had his aha! poop when he managed to squeeze out a rocket ship headed for the moon. And while it’s yet to make a difference, the two times Cameron’s little Lincoln logs actually made it to the toilet bowl, he seemed genuinely pleased that they resembled a hot dog and a snake respectively.

A week and a half ago, I noticed Cameron doing his potty dance, which incidentally has a striking resemblance to the beginning steps of The Hustle. In a panic I whisked him to the potty despite his demands to the contrary. I used my sweetest voice to again explain the fundamentals of potty etiquette, but he responded like a Mel Gibson voicemail minus the expletives. At some point during his tirade, I simply sunk to the floor, covered my eyes, and the sheer duress of the last six months including, but not limited to my failed attempts at potty training unleashed like The Great Flood. That’s right – the ugly cry. The one where your face contorts and snot appears out of nowhere to join the downward stream of mucous and you just don’t care. As I sat there fully embraced in my cathartic release Jack ran in the room and yelled, “You’re making Mommy cry – just squeeze it out!” And then, as if an angel were speaking to me, I heard the littlest voice in the din say, “Don’t cwy Mommy, I do it.” To which I looked up through the tears and snot and replied, “What?” And he said, “I do it. I go poop.” And he did, which just goes to prove that every man, no matter how old they are, will do just about anything so they don’t have to hear a woman cry.

It was a small victory to say the least. As I’m writing this column my husband arrived home with the kids and news that Cameron’s new, favorite WonderPets “Ming Ming” underwear had been defaced. So we double bagged the whole mess and made Cameron take the walk of shame to the big garbage can in the garage. I’ve never seen a walk of shame taken with more pride. If I could hear his thoughts, I think they might go something like this: Boy make poop. Boy make Mom and Dad really mad. Life is good. So here we are. Just when I falsely believe I’m going to win the race, he proves me wrong and our long-winded marathon continues. I’m not sure if I have the stamina to finish this thing, but maybe the next poop that makes its way into the bowl will be a little brown medal and we’ll both win.