That time the whole school saw my ass

Who wants to have an embarrassing story contest?

I’ll go first.

In order to truly appreciate this story, you have to understand how the pick up line at an elementary school works.  While this story involves the pickup line at my children’s elementary school, all elementary school pick up lines are just variations of the same circle of hell. So, if you’ve experienced one you know what I’m talking about.   If you haven’t, here are the basics:

The children line up on one side of a designated marker, and the parents line up on the other.  At our school, its a red rope.  You MAY NOT cross the red rope until the bell rings.  Your children will jump up and down and whisper-scream “Moooomm! Look! That’s my Mooom!” as though they haven’t seen you in six months rather than six hours, but they may not cross the red rope either.

Once the bell rings, all heck breaks loose.  You have approximately three minutes to approach your child’s teacher, wait for her to make eye contact, collect your child, and get back over the red rope before the second bell.  Once the second bell rings, the rope gets lifted up. Anyone stuck on the wrong side of it has to stay there while all the other parents who have it together enough to be on the right side of the rope get to leave the parking lot, weaving around your car and thinking judgemental thoughts about you.

Maybe that’s just my perception.

Anyway, I hate getting stuck on the wrong side of the rope.  I’m sure it’s not a big deal to normal human beings, but I was born with an extremely overdeveloped sense of embarrassment.

So naturally, I do everything I can to get over the rope in time.  This can be challenging when you are doing the approach-eye-contact-collect-kid shuffle three times.  No time for long hugs or asking about how the day went.  “Yeah that’s a great story, just tell me the rest on the other side of the rope.”

Today was like any other day.  Approach, make eye contact, collect.  Approach, make eye contact, collect.  Approach, make eye contact, collect. Only then, the bell rang.  The rope started lifting.  “Come on,” I urged the kids, “We’ll have to run for it.”

So we ran.

Hands clutched, backpacks bouncing, feet shuffling, we made it across the red rope.  I heaved a sigh of relief, slowed to a walk, and then…I felt it.

Air. Blowing across my backside.  My backside, which was hanging free, due to the fact that my shorts had slipped all the way down to my knees in my frantic shuffle-jog to get across the red rope in time.

I felt time slow down to an infinitesimal crawl.  The 1.5 seconds it took to drag my shorts back up over my ass were the longest of my life.  Maybe nobody noticed? Who was I kidding? Everybody saw.  I have never, ever, been so grateful to be wearing clean underwear.  You know that nightmare where you’re at school and you look down to realize that you’re in your underwear?  It was like that, but in REAL FRICKIN LIFE.

Honestly, I’m still processing.  I’m sure with time (like, 17 hours) I’ll be able to show my face in the pickup line again.  To all the other parents and unfortunate children who may have gotten a glimpse of my derriere this afternoon, I deeply apologize.  And I promise, I’m going belt shopping tomorrow.

 

The Amazing Two-Assed Woman

I don’t handle compliments well.  Compliments are my hamartia.  Also chronic lateness, mild hypochondria, and the inability to wink.  I actually have a lot of hamartias.

But compliments are the big one. If I were a super hero, compliments would be my kryptonite.  All a villain would have to do to defeat me is say , “Wow, you’re so pretty.”  I’d start hyperventilating and turn beet red and he’d be able to zap me with his death ray.

Because of this, I have spent copious amounts of time rehearsing responses to every conceivable compliment.  Sometimes a genuine smile and a “thank you” is enough.  Sometimes a “thank you” only causes someone to further expound on your virtues, so you need to flip the compliment back onto them with a “what a kind person you are” or a “right back at ya”.  I happen to be saddled with the most caring, generous, loving group of friends and family imaginable, so I have a lot of practice with compliment deflection.

I think it comes down to my struggle with humility.  I struggle to acknowledge that I am a human being with assets and defects, like anyone else.  Compliments make me feel like a fraud.  This dynamic is at its worst when someone compliments my parenting.  Especially if the compliment-er is someone I don’t know well.  When a well-meaning lady in the grocery store says “You’re doing a great job, Mom”, all I can think about is the six times I lost my temper that morning.  When a kind gentleman in a restaurant says, “Your children are so well-behaved”, all I can think about is how one time my three year old licked a stranger in the line at the grocery store.  When an admiring fellow mom with fewer kids shakes her head and says, “I don’t know how you do it all”, I want to scream

I don’t!  I barely do anything! This is all a show!  I haven’t matched my family’s socks in three years! My pants are being held up by a rubber band! I ate the crust of someone else’s sandwich for lunch! I’m a sham!

But I know this isn’t entirely true.  The truth is that we all have 24 hours in the day.  We all make different choices in how to spend those 24 hours, based on our unique set of needs, goals, and demands.  For every admirable thing that I do, there are three other things that I am half-assing in order to be able to do it.  And that’s unavoidable. Because what I have finally come to realize, after years of comparing myself to other women, is that we all only have one ass.

That mom who is heading up the PTA?  She’s half-assing something else.  The one with the absolutely perfect sculpted Lululemon-clad abs?  She’s half-assing something too.  The one who spends hours making every bite of her child’s organic meals from scratch? You guessed it.  Half-assing something.  And that’s ok!  Their priorities are great, for them.  Just because someone else is full-assing something and totally killing it, doesn’t have to reflect negatively on me.  And it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t set goals or be inspired by other moms.  We can be inspired by other women without condemning ourselves.  It just means that I need to give my ass a break sometimes.  It means I need to get better at acknowledging what I do right, and keep my expectations realistic.

I recently went back to school.  It felt overwhelming, and I was worried about time management.  So naturally, I made a pie chart.

IMG_4509

The pie chart is of my figurative ass, which by now I hope you realize is a metaphor for the time I have available in the day.

After this I wrote, in a stream-of-consciousness exercise, a list of all the things I thought I “should” be doing, and how much time each of those things would take.  When I added them up, I realized that I would need 35 hours in the day to get them all done.  Madness! Why do I do this to myself?

Why do we compare ourselves to others, anyway?  Why do we struggle so much to accept our own set of circumstances?  Why do we pretend like we don’t ever have to half-ass anything?  Like we are some sort of incredible two-assed woman.  Nobody has two asses.  Maybe Gwenneth Paltrow does, but I doubt it.  There’s a joke here about people with two asses having twice as much crap, but I’m not sure that I have the time to tease it out.  I have someone else’s sandwich crust to eat.

Go easy on yourselves, Mamas.  And keep complimenting each other, even if makes someone hyperventilate.

Pop Quiz-Bravery Edition

Question 1:  You have two baskets of laundry:

2 laundry baskets

You know that the laundry in one of these baskets is clean, and the laundry in the other one is dirty.  The problem is, you can’t remember which is which.  Do you

A) Sniff check

B) Wash them both, just in case

C) Burn down the laundry room and start a new life somewhere in Toronto

 

Question 2: You find this lunch bag in the back seat of your car:

lunch box

Summer break started three weeks ago.  The lunch bag looks fine on the outside, but it definitely has something inside.  Do you

A) Open it

B) Throw it away

C) Burn down the car and start a new life somewhere in Toronto

 

Question 3:

You are chilling on your patio when you notice this friendly visitor:

Black_Rat_Snake_-_Elaphe_obsoleta_obsoleta,_Merrimac_Farm_Wildlife_Management_Area,_Virginia

Image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantherophis_obsoletus**

You are certain that he/she is a harmless black snake who is probably eating mice and other rodent-like pests.  Do you:

A) For goodness sake, calm down.  It’s just a snake.  I mean, obviously, you can never go into the backyard again, but I’m sure the front yard is perfectly safe.

B) Freak out, Old-Testament-Apocalypse style.  Abandon the children.  Every man for himself.  Order bottled water and food from Amazon.  Tell remaining children they are homeschoolers now.

C)  Burn it down. Toronto.

If you answered:

Mostly A’s:  You’re brave.  Probably the bravest person that any of your friends know.  You probably don’t even freak out when there is a spider in the car.  You probably just keep driving along calmly.  How do you do that? Without people like you in the world, so many things would never get done.  Your best career matches include ghost hunting, shark wrestling, and beekeeping.

Mostly B’s:  You’re not brave.  You spend a lot of time running through worst case scenarios in your mind.  You panic every time there is a new disease.  You probably have a bug-out-bag and at least three first aid kits.  Without you, brave people would have nobody to protect, and there would be nobody to keep the world safe with their obsessive worrying.  Your best job matches include risk assessor, safety inspector, and claims adjuster.

Mostly C’s:  You’re just kidding.  Haha! Right?  If not, you should probably talk to somebody.  Your best job matches include comedian, Toronto mascot, or (hopefully not) pyromaniac.

*We had a snake in our yard a few weeks ago.  I was in no way brave enough to get close enough to take a picture like this.  This picture is from Wikipedia*

If anyone is wondering, I am not brave.

 

The Waspinator (Or, How to Handle a Wasp like a Grown-Up)

I was in the bathroom, minding my own business. *

I was interrupted by an all-too-familiar call for help. “MOM!! There’s a wasp in the house!!”

Now, I have an unholy terror of stinging insects, but this call did not overly concern me.  I get called in to take care of “wasps” very frequently.  Most of them end up being beetles, house flies, or suspicious-looking bits of lint.  So, I did not spring immediately into action.  The following conversation ensued:

“Mom!  There’s a WASP in the HOUSE!”

“OK!  Just a minute!”

“No, Mom! It’s really a wasp!”

“For Pete’s sake, I am trying to mind my own business! I’ll be out when I’m done!”

Eventually I made my way downstairs, ready to get rid of whatever stink bug or dust bunny was causing the drama.  When I got into the living room I realized that this was no false alarm.  This was the Real Wasp Deal.

The kids immediately calmed down, as their panic became mine.  I asked them to go outside, ostensibly so I wouldn’t accidentally whack them, but really because I did not want them to witness the insane ritual that I go through when there is a stinging insect in my house.  I call it The Wasp Protocol.

Phase1:  Call for Help

I sent out frantic Snapchats to anyone who might be in the vicinity.   Nobody seemed to be nearby.  Crap.  I closed my eyes and prayed with all my might that God would somehow miraculously cause this wasp to disappear.  Opened them up, wasp still there.  OK, time for…

Phase 2: Weapon Selection

First, I concocted an elaborate scheme involving a bowl of cantaloupe.

wasp pic 2

I briefly considered a rolled-up magazine, but decided that a broom would be better.  Just as I was about to begin Phase 3, my dad texted me. He told me that he had an electric fly swatter at his house that we could use.  Sweet!  The kids and I took a quick field trip.  Prayed again that the wasp would have decided to leave on its own by the time we got back.  It didn’t.  It was time for…

Phase 3: Stalking

(This is an important part of the Wasp Protocol that many people ignore.  During this phase, you pointlessly follow the wasp around the room. You tell yourself that you are waiting for it to land in the perfect spot, but really you are just working up the courage to strike.)

At this point, I noticed that the wasp was doing something strange with its abdomen.  This might sound crazy, but I swear it was twerking.  I had no idea what a twerking wasp might signify, but I knew it wouldn’t be anything good.  Time for…

Phase 4: The attack

wasp pic 3

This is where things got intense.  Normally during this phase, I would screw up my courage, let loose a William Wallace war cry, and swat away.  It would be a terrifying 3.5 seconds, but then it would be done.  This was a pretty big wasp, so I was a little nervous, but I had a FRIGGIN ELECRTOCUTING FLYSWATTER.  I knew one good zap would take care of things.

Except…

wasp pic 4

The thing did not die.  The flyswatter definitely worked, sparks were flying and everything, but this bug just buzzed away like nothing was wrong.  It was all “Come at me, bro!”

I swatted it TWO more times and it was still going. This insect definitely should have been deceased by now.  So, it was either an Undead Wasp, or a robot assassin sent back in time to kill the future leader of the human race.

I thought about moving to Toronto.

But in the end, I just went about things the old-fashioned way and smashed it with a shoe.

wasp pic 8
Had to sacrifice this awesome fort we built out of the treadmill.

I was rewarded with this congratulatory text from my Dad, who was on a plane during most of the action but landed to about twelve hysterical texts.

IMG_4461

And that’s how you handle a wasp like a grown-up.

*In my house, “minding your own business” is code for pooping.

The Two Finger Method

Each stage of parenting has its own unique lessons.  When your children are infants, you learn how to do anything one handed, how to pee with someone on your lap, and that you CAN function on less than four hours of sleep.

When your children are toddlers, you learn that there is no upper limit on the gross things that kids will touch. When my youngest was three, she asked me to close my eyes and hold out my hand, and when I did, she dropped a turd into my palm.  I did not flinch. I didn’t even ask whose poop it was.  During the toddler stage, you become completely desensitized to gross.  “It can’t get any grosser,” you think.

When your children finally reach school age, you are confronted with some hard truths.  At this point, you have probably spent six or more years building up your expectations of When They Go to School.  This time is going to be a utopia of sleeping through the night and letting people wipe their own butts.  It is all going to be so easy!  So much free time! You’ll start wearing eyeliner again! And they will finally stop being so gross and maybe even start picking up around here!

Honestly, these expectations were all that kept me going for a few years.  If you are an infant or toddler Mom who is clinging to expectations of the Golden Age of School…keep clinging.  In fact, don’t even read the rest of this post.  Go take a nice baby wipe sponge bath and grab a handful of Goldfish.  Look at this cute baby hippo.  Come back next week.

cute-baby-hippos-6-590841d1ae669__700

When your kids reach school age, you learn that it is going to be a long, long time before they stop being gross.  For many of us, this comes as a shock.  “This person is smart enough to grasp basic algebra”, we think, “How can he not know that you shouldn’t wipe boogers on the wall?”

So many mysteries begin to arise during this time.  How do they manage to come out of the shower dirtier than when they went in?  What are they even doing in there?  What is this sticky substance?  You found it where?? Oh my god, just take it outside.

We expect our kids to handle more responsibility with less supervision as they get older, which is good.  But most of us don’t anticipate the steep learning curve involved in Not Being a Disgusting Human.  The laundry hamper becomes a particularly perilous place.  When your children are young, you can be pretty sure you know what is in their hampers because you are probably the one who put it there.  Not so with school-agers.  We expect them to put their own laundry in the hamper, so you honestly never know what you are going to find in there.  Sometimes it’s a pile of clean, still folded clothes.  Sometimes it’s a tube of cherry chap stick that’s been wound all the way out so it feels like a little turd when your finger sinks into it.  Sometimes it’s an actual turd.

If you are a new parent of a school age child, you may be struggling with the laundry hamper.  Luckily, I have some helpful resources, like this guide I posted last week.  In my experience, this guide is wonderful for making your children laugh hysterically before they resume putting whatever they want in the laundry hamper. This week’s resource is for you, the Laundry Do-er (whoever you may be).  If you are or will soon be doing the laundry of a school age child, it is imperative that you adopt some new techniques.  One of these that I have found helpful is the Two Finger Method.

The idea behind the Two Finger Method is to minimize contact with the dirty laundry.  Many novices will grab an armful of dirty clothes and hug them to their chest.  This maneuver is called the Full Scoop, and it’s a big mistake.  Never, ever, perform the Full Scoop unless you are certain that only your laundry is in the pile.

To execute the Two Finger Method, grasp each garment individually with two fingers only.  Shake the garment lightly while holding it away from your body.  Wait to see if anything runs out of it.  If the garment is clear, chuck it into your carrying basket or washing machine.

I’ve included this helpful illustration:

two finger method

As you can see, the Mom on the left has performed the Full Scoop.  She is clutching an armful of dirty clothes, and lord only knows what else is in there.  The Mom on the right is wisely using the Two Finger Method, maximizing the distance between her and the laundry.

I hope this has been helpful.  Us school age moms have to stick together.  Don’t tell the infant moms about all of this yet.  Let them enjoy their baby hippos and fantasize about a time when they will be able to pee by themselves.

Should I put this in the hamper?

This one goes out to all the kids.  We moms know how much you struggle with things. Like when you are cleaning your room and you have the urge to shove everything into the hamper and just be done with it.  Sure, it seems easier, but did you know that not every item belongs in the hamper?  Luckily, we here at the Cheese Bandit blog have devised this handy flow chart to help you out:

hamper-flowchart2-e1497726062875.png

We hope this helps. Look for our future guides, including:

  • What happens if I pee IN the toilet? (For boys)
  • Changing the toilet paper roll: Why it won’t kill you. (The science behind the myth)
  • What should I do with this booger?  Why Kleenex might be right for you.

 

Who is the Cheese Bandit?

This, my friends, is one of the Great Questions of our time.  A mystery for the ages.

At least around our house.

It was late in 2013 when the signs began to appear.  Bites of cheese, left in strange places around the house.  Behind the toilet.  Under the television.  Draped over drawer pulls.

cheese slipper
One of the first sightings
cheese drawerpull
Elaborate cheese placement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was noted that on any single given day, you could find a piece of random cheese in a place where cheese does not belong. Like crop circles, or those statues on Easter Island, but with dairy products. Naturally, I began documenting these mysterious occurrences.

christmas cheese
The 2014 holiday season saw unprecedented levels of cheese-related activity
new years cheese
New Years day, 2015

I know what you’re thinking.  “She has four kids, they must leave food everywhere.”

But the strange thing was that I only found cheese.  It was never grapes, or popcorn, or crackers.  And I never seemed to catch any of my children in the act of eating cheese. Whoever was doing this was sneaking cheese in secret and for some reason leaving behind a single bite.

cheese handle

 

Who is the cheese bandit?  What does he/she want?  We may never know.  Over the years the signs have dwindled but every now and then, one of us will be surprised with the familiar squash (or crunch) of discarded cheese underfoot.

cheese foot

Though his/her identity remains unknown, he/she has left an indelible mark.  A few months ago, the Cheese Bandit even inspired a series of haiku:

A bite unwanted
Discarded dairy, alas!
The cheese stands alone

Once more, my old foe
Cheese Bandit, we dance again!
Colby Jack, you lose. (h/t my awesome friend Lisa)

curds and fucking whey
first off, what the fuck are curds
that’s whey out of line (h/t my super talented writer pal indigomagik)

Stay tuned as the mystery deepens…