Archive for ‘Parenting Bites’

June 10th, 2012

Kids These Days

by Venomous Kate

Like everyone else in the country, we’ve been watching our pennies a lot more closely than ever before. And, like children everywhere, the Big-Eyed Boy just does not understand that nothing in this world is truly free — not food, running water, or electricity.

Here we are, only two weeks into summer vacation, and I swear I’ve spent most of my days going around the house turning off lights in rooms that he hasn’t been in for hours, telling him that he does NOT need the TV going in the background if he’s busy playing Quake on the computer, and shutting off water faucets left running because he forgot he’d turned them on to wash his hands.

So today when I found him sitting on the deck with the door to the kitchen wide open, I just about lost it.

Me: “We can’t afford to air condition the whole outdoors. Who do you think Dad is, Nelson Rockefeller?”

Big-Eyed Boy: “Who?”

Me: “Warren Buffet?”

BEB: “Who???”

Me: “Bill Gates?”

BEB: “WHO????”

Me (sighing): “Mark Zuckerberg?”

BEB: “Of course you’re not him. He’s old but not your old kinda OLD.”

Somehow, I managed to resist the urge to lock that child out of my house.

March 10th, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Boy and my Blog!

by Venomous Kate



Twelve years ago today, my beautiful Big-Eyed Boy was born. Weighing 9 lbs and 11 oz, he seemed ginormous at the time. (Hey, I’m a short woman!) And then came his first poop. Oh, how we ooohed and ahhhhed over it. Weird, isn’t it, how new parents can find crap so adorable? I remember grabbing a baby wipe and realizing that, despite how it felt like I’d shot out a watermelon, that wipe was HUGE compared to his little butt.

And now, as we close out his Tween years, I no longer find his poop adorable. In fact, laundry day pretty much squicks me out. But him? Oh, yeah. I still sigh sometimes when I look at him… when he’s not talking… which is, basically, only when he’s asleep. Oh, and the baby wipes? Yeah, I’m the one using them now on my own ass. It’s the circle of life, y’all!

Oh, and it’s also my blog’s 9th birthday. Yes, that’s right: I started Electric Venom on my son’s third birthday, a time when most other mommies would probably lie through their teeth have been doing something all nurturing and stuff. Me? I’d spent the previous six weeks single-parenting a child who would not. shut. up. (Some things never change.)

Here’s hoping that, a year from now, I post another entry celebrating both birthdays again.

 
 

March 1st, 2012

And Now, A Moment Of Midlife Crisis

by Venomous Kate

Looking back, I think I’ve been going through a mid-life crisis since I was 36, when I realized I’d never be a rock star. Or the host of my own television talk-show. Or taller.

For the most part, I’ve handled those realizations by drinking vast quantities of liquor as well as the next woman, pushing them out of my mind so I could go about my day-to-day life as a housewife without screaming in abject horror over having fulfilled the soul-crushing prediction of my fourth grade teacher, Miss Niles, who’d scrawled on my report card: “HAS THE I.Q. OF A GENIUS BUT THE SELF-MOTIVATION OF A SLOTH.” (Thanks, bitch.)

And, for the most part, my tactic has worked. I can look in the mirror every morning without seeing the fine lines around my eyes, or noticing that my gray hairs are coming in curly, whereas the rest of my hair is straight. That’s because I don’t put my glasses on until sometime after my coffee has kicked in, by which time I’m far too behind in my daily chores to bother tending such things. Also, I’ve reached an age where I no longer dither about what I’m going to wear for the day. The only decision I have to make is whether I’ll be wearing the black sweatpants, or the blue ones, and that choice is made simple by checking the color of my cleanest t-shirt.

Up until recently, I was so busy drinking being a housewife that it was easy for me to ignore the fact that my oldest child, my beautiful daughter, will be turning 21 this summer (and, thus, no longer a reliable designated driver) and that my baby boy, who’ll turn 12 next weekend, is unmistakably in the first throes of puberty…and almost as tall as me. Besides, every birthday they celebrate is another chance to call my mother and point out that, contrary to what she’d once told me, I didn’t starve, strangle, disown or misplace my kids. Yay, me!

Then today, while cutting out coupons, I ran across one for a baby pacifier twin-pack — or, as we used to call them, binkies! They were absolutely adorable: one was painted to look like big, red kissy-lips while the other looked like a bunny nose. Cute little binkies, with a one dollar off coupon, y’all! But I didn’t need to clip it, because MY KIDS ARE TOO OLD FOR BINKIES AND THEY’LL NEVER BE BABIES AGAIN!!!

As irrational as that realization sounds, it’s nothing compared to the sound that came out of me right at that moment — a weird half-sob, half-laugh which, if anyone had been around to hear it, they’d have thought was a pretty awesome burp. But I knew better, just as I knew why I clipped that coupon, anyway, despite my kids being to old for binkies: GRANDBABIES.

Sure, my eggs are too pickled to produce more offspring, even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. And, no, my daughter isn’t pregnant (that I know of) and she’s not married (or even, according to her Facebook status, dating anyone). But you never know. After all, she is turning 21 this summer and, as a good percentage of us know from experience, booze is often the first ingredient in baby-making. Not that I’m trying to rush her, mind you.

Even so, statistically speaking, I’m likely to become a grandmother in the next four years, which still puts me under 50 when it happens. You know what that means: I went from being a tired, slightly disheveled, frumpy middle-aged housewife to (future) HOT GRANDMA in a matter of seconds, all thanks to clipping that coupon.

Suddenly, my midlife crisis is over.

 
 
 

February 8th, 2012

He Who Smelt It Dealt It

by Venomous Kate

Yesterday, picking my son up from school, I had to wait while he finished a conversation with a friend. It went like this:

Son’s friend: (farting loudly) “Wow, that was a good one! Can you smell that?”
Son: “Dude, you’re not supposed to fart in front of other people unless you’re married to them! ‘Cuz wives are nice people, and they’ll love you anyway.”

So, word to the Venomous Hubby: we’ll be having chili with beans for dinner tonight. See how much I love you?

 
 

September 22nd, 2011

Tales From The Minivan

by Venomous Kate

This morning, as I drove the Big-Eyed Boy to school while praying that my coffee didn’t kick in until I’d made it home, I heard the noise that no mom wants to hear at that hour of the day: the beep announcing that my gas tank was empty. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be a big deal but, like I said, it was a school morning, and I am not a morning person. Why does that matter? Because I was still wearing my leopard print pajama bottoms, a t-shirt that said “If you can read this, get me a drink” and fuzzy bunny slippers. Yes, really.

Remember the good old days of full-service gas stations? I’d have gladly paid the extra 20-cents per gallon surcharge to avoid having to get out of my van to pump gas dressed like that. (And, no, this morning’s embarrassment probably won’t teach me to dress properly before taking the BEB to school. See previous comment about how I am NOT a morning person.)

Anyway, the whole experience reminded me that I’ll never be one of those moms who gets to stand at the front door waving as her kid climbs onto the school bus, or meets up with friends to walk or bike to school. Since our local school district is abysmal (but not so bad that they lost their accreditation, like the Kansas City, Missouri schools), our son goes to the next district over thanks to the Kansas Open Enrollment laws. Since we live outside of the district, the bus won’t pick him up, and no matter how much he begs to ride his bike the 2.2 miles to school, it’s all on very busy, very narrow streets that don’t have sidewalks.

Besides, I couldn’t handle the worry. Oh, I’d be fine with him riding the bus. I’d even be willing to shell out big bucks since it would give me an additional 30 minutes of sleep five days a week. But riding his bike? In a town with seven correctional facilities, at least one of which has an inmate escape every month? Please. I’d wind up being one of those moms who put on a brave face as her kid head out in the morning, then sat glued to one of those bearcat scanners until half-way through homeroom, by which time I figure the school would call to let me know if he was missing.

Plus, I’d miss out on some of my happy times with the Big-Eyed Boy. Now that he’s approaching puberty, those happy times are few and far between. Most days, I’m glad if I can get a grunted acknowledgement of my presence or even an exasperated “whatever” when I ask if he wants to go get a snack after I pick him up. But some days he forgets he’s in middle school and, therefore, is supposed to treat me with disdain. Some days, he’s still the funny, sweet little boy that used to tell me I’m the most beautiful woman in the world and how he’d never get married because no woman would ever, ever be as wonderful as his mom.

Then there are days like last week when, as he climbed into the van, he threw his backpack to the floor and slammed the door. “How old do I have to be before I’m allowed to swear?” he asked. “Because I had a really f$#king BAD day today!” (Yes, I duly chastised him for his language.)

On the other hand, I’m not sure I’d miss mornings like this one, when I’d just finished pumping gas and tried opening the van door. Nothing doing. He’d locked them all, then slunk down to the floor. For a full minute I stood there knocking on the window, rattling the handle, instructing him — in a rather loud and definitely miffed voice — to open up and let me in at once. When he finally reached over to unlock the driver’s side door, I asked him what the hell he thought he was doing, locking me out like that when I was in my pajamas.

“But Mooooom,” he said, his voice muffled by the shirt he’d pulled over his head, “that was Darcey Delaney* in the car ahead of us. She’s the most beautiful girl in sixth grade. I just COULDN’T let her see me with someone looking as fugly as YOU!”

Nice, right? Fortunately, I’ve been through this whole “I’m in Middle School and too cool for my parents” bit with my daughter, and know how to handle these kind of insults. I said nothing for the rest of the ride to school, merely sipped my coffee and waved at a few of the other moms in the drop-off line. Just as we pulled up to the school’s entrance and my son threw open the door and climbed, I called out loudly, “BYE BYE NOW, HONEY, I LOOOOOOVVVVVEEEE YOU” right as he’d started to wave to Darcey Delaney.*

Call me fugly, will he?!

*Name changed to protect the Barbie lookalike who’s stolen my son’s devotion.

August 17th, 2011

So Long, Summer!

by Venomous Kate

So Long, Summer I know summer isn’t officially over for another month, but with my son back in school, I feel like it is. This has been the longest, cruelest summer I can remember, thanks to that horrible heatwave we had. Being cooped up indoors with a cranky pre-pubescent because it’s just too hot, and the air quality is too bad, to go outside? Man, that’s not my idea of a vacation. So, having just dropped the Big-Eyed Boy off for his first day of junior high (!), that “vacation” is officially over.

All around me, there are signs that I’m not the only one who views the first day of school as the true end of summer, despite those who claim that Labor Day really is. All of the mommies were grinning ear-to-ear as we took turns pulling up at the school doors so our kids could hurriedly get out before we peeled away (well, as fast as one can “peel” at 5 mph.) Throughout my neighborhood, homeowners have put their pool covers on, and the Stepford Wife-types have switched their front door wreaths from bright-colored florals to rings of plastic autumn leaves. I even saw one of the early morning joggers wearing a hoodie today, something that was unthinkable a few days ago.

But here’s the thing about motherhood: I’ve spent the majority of the past three months counting the days until today, mentally planning all of the projects I’d finally have time for once school started again, and reminding myself that, come August 17, I’d have time for things like long showers, nail and doctor appointments, and a chance drink my coffee before it got cold.

So what’s happened? After the school run, I pulled into the garage and came into a house that seemed somehow too quiet. That list of things I wanted to do has totally fled my head, and I forgot about my cup of coffee until it was cold, anyway. Instead, I’ve puttered around, putting things away and half-listening for my son’s steps thundering on the stairs, for his voice calling out to ask me what’s for breakfast. Here’s this day I’ve so looked forward to throughout this horrible summer. Now that it’s here, I miss the little guy poignantly. But that’s okay, there are only 122 days until Christmas Break when, no doubt, I’ll counting down days until school starts again.

March 28th, 2011

Careful, Kids, Big Mama Is Watching

by Venomous Kate

Big Mama May Be Watching, Too Once upon a time, I used to be rather rabid in my defense of civil liberties. I got my rage on when computer cookies started tracking users’ web activity, as if the mere act of going online (almost unavoidable in this day and age) constituted a waiver of one’s right to privacy. When I’d read about schools suspending little kids over what they deemed “distracting” haircuts or “inappropriate expressions” on t-shirts, I railed about free speech and the importance of training youth to value their rights so they protect those of the next generation. Time was when I could go on for hours ranting about the unfairness and repugnance of “no knock search warrants”.

And then I had kids.

If it weren’t for computer cookies, I wouldn’t have known that my then-13 year-old daughter had stumbled into a couple of shady corners of the internet (purely by accident, she swore). When my then-8 year-old son wanted a blue mohawk I skirted the argument by pointing out that his school’s dress code bans such “edgy” looks. And I’ve told both kids that if I suspect they’re up to no good in their bedrooms I’ll barge in when I damn well feel like it. That, I tell them, is the difference between owning property (which I do) and living in it rent-free (which they do). No, they’re not always happy about my views, but them’s the breaks. I’m the Mom, and around here my word is law.

So imagine my surprise when my now 19-year-old daughter came home from college over the weekend and said she wants one of those GPS tracking systems on her car. Well, okay. What she really said was that she wants a GPS, because she’s apparently inherited my inability to get anywhere of import without getting lost. On her last trip home, getting ‘lost’ meant driving around downtown Kansas City around midnight on a Friday. I know first-hand how frightening that can be. (Like I said, she inherited my poor navigational skills.)

I’m more than happy to install a GPS on her car. I’m just going to go her one step better and make sure it has a vehicle tracking option. See, “her” car is one that my husband and I pay for. The title is under our name, and we foot the bill for the insurance. Ergo, like many parents, we feel entitled to set some limits on her driving, such as: no road trips from central Missouri to Chicago and back with five of her closest friends, and certainly no Spring Break trek to and from Florida.

But she swears to me (in the same tone of voice she once used to explain she had never, EVER been to certain websites) that those trips were all taken in someone else’s car, just as she swears she has NO idea why her car has had more engine and tire problems than mine has, even though I’ve owned my three times as long.

What would really seal the deal, though, is if I could find one of those GPS tracking devices that also disables cell phone text messaging while the car is moving… something else she swore to me she’d never do. In a text message. Friday night. About 20 minutes before she pulled into the driveway.

January 30th, 2011

I Bet This Comes Up In Therapy

by Venomous Kate

Make it stop! Not long ago, I pointed out to the Venomous Hubby that most children, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, have answers tending toward the overly ambitious: an astronaut, President of United States, an NFL player, a prima ballerina. Hell, one of our friends has a son who literally misspells his own name on a regular basis and that kid wants to grow up to be a brain surgeon. (Our friend has wisely begun making large annual donations to a nearby University with a medical program, because it never hurts to grease the wheels.)

When we asked the Big-Eyed Boy what he wants to be when he grows up he said, “Oh, I don’t plan to be anything because I’m not going to college, and I’m never moving out.” Needless to say, VH and I didn’t share his enthusiasm.

Don’t get me wrong: we love our little boy like crazy. Most days he’s a joy to be around, he’s an incredibly affectionate and usually sweet-natured kid, and he has such a funny, quirky sense of humor that our house is filled with laughter.

BUT.

Every piece of furniture in my house is either ripped, stained or scarred. Our walls are begrimed with little hand prints despite my near-obsessive scrubbing. The floors — where the tiles haven’t been cracked by someone dropping a baseball bat, heavy book bag or other item not ‘fessed up to — are so far from their original white (chosen by the previous homeowners, I assure you) that I now claim they’re actually beige, not white, so people don’t look at me in horror.

The BEB is my youngest, and LAST child. I’ve been raising children for 19 years now and I have the gray hairs to prove it. I’m tired. VH is tired. We can’t remember the last time we ate at a restaurant that didn’t pass out crayons along with paper menus, and we sure as hell haven’t been on any type of trip one could consider “romantic” (unless you count the 2 hours or so on the drive to my mother-in-laws when the BEB falls asleep in the back of the minivan).

There is NO WAY that child is skipping college, must less spending his adult life in our home. Just as I did when his older sister, the Princess, graduated from high school, I’ll be boxing his stuff up the day after graduation and asking what address he wants his stuff shipped to.

This is why VH and I have lately taken great pains to encourage the Big-Eyed Boy to explore his various interests. For a while there he’d expressed foodie tendencies, so we bought him a kid’s cookbook, a chef hat, and a child-friendly set of knives. And, while we did diligently supervise his use of said knives, the first time one of us turned our backs (*cough* VH *cough*), the boy proceeded to hack into the trim on my kitchen counter-tops at precise 1-inch intervals. On every counter. And all the way around the kitchen island. So much for encouraging that

His precision didn’t escape our notice, though, so when he mentioned an interest in learning to build things we jumped all over THAT, too. VH got him a child’s tool box and loaded it with smaller-sized tools. They went to the lumber yard and bought wood. They went to the paint store and bought paint. They downloaded plans to build a birdhouse, and even though I despise birds (primitive, scary things!), I forced a smile of approval on my face. It was a beautiful bird house, too, and the boy was quite proud when he sat it on the deck railing where we figured it was close enough for us to watch our backyard birds take to it. Unfortunately, it proved close enough for our cat to watch them, too. Somehow, in the time it took for us to realize the cat had shot out the deck door the damn animal managed to catch, kill and behead a bird right there on our deck. The boy now cringes in horror whenever we suggest another building project.

Then came the day I took him to see The Karate Kid. When we returned home, he proceeded to jump all over the house yelling heeeeee-YAAAAAH as he pantomimed disabling bad guys. Great! Cool! We’ll enroll him in martial arts training, VH and I agreed. After all, it teaches self-discipline (something we’re in favor of) and confidence (often a good thing to have) AND would help him burn off steam (thus maybe sparing my furniture). What we didn’t count on? The confidence came long before the self-discipline did, and this kid apparently has an endless supply of steam. Walking through my house feels a lot like being Inspector Clouseau: you never know when Kato — or, in this case, the BEB — is going to jump out from behind something and scare the crap out of you. Folks, my nerves are SHOT already. I’ll be damned if we’ll renew this karate school contract once it’s up.

Then one day, I remembered just how very good my kid is at Rock Band and Guitar Hero. No, seriously: he blows our friends’ minds on a regular basis when they watch him nail guitar licks and drum lines on the expert setting with 100% accuracy. So, okay, encouraging him to become a musician won’t necessarily ensure he’ll go to college and one day move out of our house (and, arguably, it might be encouraging the exact opposite), but we thought perhaps it would be a good place to start on that confidence thing and all.

I was as excited as a kid myself the day his new pro-style electronic drum set arrived. This was the answer to ALL of our hopes, I figured. For one thing, unlike a true drum set, it’s quiet: you either have to hook it up to a speaker, which I wisely ‘forgot’ to buy, or wear head phones. For another, it’s versatile: plug in your iPod or other mp3 player and you can drum along with your favorite tracks… also audible only through a ‘forgotten’ speaker or the headset. And, in addition to karate, we figured it would help him burn off more steam — something important, since I have my eye on a new pair of wingback chairs.

That was two weeks ago, and let me just say again, when it comes to musical talent my kid is mind-boggling. He’s learning new songs daily, loves drumming so much that he practices it without prodding, and is rapidly building a concert-worthy song list. And that confidence? Well, apparently the drums are helping with that, too, because now he’s so comfortable with the drums that he’s starting to sing along with them.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize at first that’s what was happening. No, instead, while I was down in the basement I heard what I thought was a pained animal, so I dropped the load of wash I’d been folding and raced two flights of stairs to find out what was wrong with our cat. The boy, seeing me, stopped his drumming and pointed out the cat was sleeping peacefully.

“You’re hearing things,” the boy said.

I shrugged and went back to the basement to fold more laundry, only to hear another horrible noise not five minutes later. This time, though, it sounded like my little boy had hurt himself so I shot up those two flights of stairs even faster, but the noise had stopped before I got there.

“Maybe you’re hearing something outside?” the boy suggested.

Being out-of-shape and out of breath, I decided not to go completely back down to the basement this time. Instead, I lurked in the kitchen until the noise started again, then crept upstairs to figure out what was the problem.

It was my son. Singing.

Except that it wasn’t singing, it was that horrible off-key screeching that people make when they’ve got earphones on and can’t hear themselves.

Except he didn’t have earphones on because his father had found a speaker for the electronic drum set, so he could hear himself just fine. And he sucked. Su-uh-uh-uh-ucked.

And as I stood there watching him drum and “sing”, he got a big grin on his face then reached down to pause the music. “I know what I want to be when I grow up!” he announced. “I’m going to be a world famous singer/drummer and go on world tour with my band!”

“Oh, no you’re not,” I told him. “Trust me.”

Yeah, that’s probably going to come up in therapy. The question is: his, or mine?