Dumpster Diving: A Lesson in Parenting

I live in a decently sized apartment but with three kids (one teenager, one tween and one toddler) it never seems to be enough. It’s as if the walls close in a little more with each child that enters the house. I’m picturing the scene from Star Wars: A New Hope, where the main characters are trapped in a garbage compactor. I think my house probably smells like that too (see earlier post – Stinky, smelly, gross boys!).

I have three bedrooms and over the past two years have reconfigured them at least three times. I recently decided that I do not need a bedroom for myself. I’m sure some of you are cringing but I assure you this was an easy decision for three reasons:

  1. No time for sex. I don’t even have time to pee before some kid is knocking on the door.
  2. No privacy for sex. See above.
  3. No desire for sex. Yep, see above.

Since, I clearly don’t need privacy, I decided to give up my bedroom to create a playroom. This meant I had to move all the furniture (one bunk bed, one loft bed, two dressers, two cartoonishly large rocking chairs… you get the picture), rearrange all the closets, and reorganize everything. And still manage to cook, clean, and do all the other crap that has to be done every fricking weekend!

I had this image in my mind that my boys would truly want to help in this extravaganza. That they would in fact be so excited to help that we would knock out this project in no time and then sit to watch a movie together on the couch, after contemplating the origins of the universe and creating an invention for Shark Tank… Yeah. Not so much. Clearly, I was on drugs when I thought that up.

What I got was two and a half hell filled days of arguing that went something like this:

Child #1: “Can you take the garbage out?” he asks snottily.

Child #2: “I took it out last time. It’s your turn to take it out” answers with an eye roll.

#1: “Yeah, but I had to put all the bags in because you forgot” add a foot stomp and a thrown shirt.

#2: “Well, I’m putting the toys away right now” flings toys across room.

#1: “Well, I’m folding laundry right now” throws laundry at brother.

This continued until the boys, the laundry, the toys, and the garbage were all tangled up together in a knock down, drag out fight in the middle of the living room. Again, the garbage compactor scene comes to mind. I finally kicked them both out, grabbed three large garbage bags, and did a full arm sweep of each shelf and drawer in their room until the bags were full and their rooms were empty. Then I marched out to the dumpster like some deranged Santa Claus, as they stood by weeping, and threw their things away.

When I came back I explained to them how disappointed I was that I had not heard a single thank you all weekend. Their lack of appreciation for other’s efforts and for their own things was simply unacceptable. They went to bed, crying over their losses. I pondered the lesson I was trying to teach.

Then I realized the value of what I had thrown away and broke out in a cold sweat and heart palpitations so fierce I thought I was having a heart attack. So, at about 11:00pm, for the second time that night, I went out to the dumpster, flashlight in hand, praying nobody would see me, and spent 20 minutes digging those three damn garbage bags out.

Parenting can really stink sometimes… literally.

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Stinky, smelly, gross boys!!

Please, for the love of all that is good, can someone please tell me why my boys think it’s ok to wear week old socks and two day old underwear?! WHY??? They smell like onion and fart and something that died near the dumpster last week!

I’m not sure I can raise two boys. The girl will be fine but the boys…

They don’t seem to mind taking a “shower” but it isn’t anything like a shower that leaves them smelling fresh. The younger one just kind of gets into the hot water, wanders around for about 10 minutes (longer if I forget he’s in there) and then gets out just as stinky and smelly as he went in. Gross! I have to knock on the door at least three times during his “shower” to remind him to use soap on his entire body including his feet and to use shampoo in his hair. The older one will usually remember to wash but then will forget to put on deodorant and thus will stink again within minutes because his raging hormones are conspiring (and perspiring) against him.

Brushing teeth is like pulling teeth. On one recent dental visit the dentist was in utter shock that my son wasn’t really an 80 year old parading around as a nine year old. Yep, that’s how much plaque he had. I bought him that expensive toothbrush immediately. The one with the timer and separate heads with motion blah, blah blah… It is supposed to shut off automatically after two minutes of brushing. I don’t think it’s ever made it that long. The older one has a special toothpaste he’s supposed to use. I bought it six months ago. I think it still has the wrapper on it.

Begging doesn’t help. Bribing doesn’t help. Consequences don’t help.

Somebody told me that they will start taking better care of themselves when they become interested in someone else (you know, romantically, oh la la). I highly doubt it. I don’t think I’ll ever have grandchildren.

Bill Cosby, I finally get it.

The resident medical expert at daycare

My daughter is 4 and like many children her age she attends daycare (she calls it preschool but whatever…). Also like many children she has allergies. They pop up every year in the spring and fall and every year we deal with the nasal drip and coughing fits that tag along. This is especially vicious in the fall because typically she will suffer from her allergies and then a nasty cold will piggy back. So, just when I think she’s getting better, BAM! cold season hits. Ugh. Her old daycare was familiar with the routine but this year, out of necessity, we started at a new daycare. They are not familiar with this cycle and seem to have a lot of advice and opinion to offer on the subject.

It was Friday afternoon and I knew it was coming, the phone call. I left work about 20 minutes after they called telling me I had to come get her and she couldn’t come back to school without a doctor’s note. First of all, she had no other symptoms besides a nasty cough. Yes, that’s right – no fever, no explosive diarrhea, no puking, nothing. The state I live in does not consider a cough alone to be worthy of sending a child home. The economy would collapse if that happened! Entire schools would shut down during cold season! But I digress. Secondly, it was a Friday and there is only a 24 hour waiting period to return to school, so we would have well surpassed that by Monday. But since it was Friday, I took 45 minutes of personal time and picked her up. When I arrived I was barraged with medical advice from her teachers – she might have pneumonia or asthma, the doctor should prescribe her some cough medicine, and by the way use some vaporub at home. I smiled and bit my tongue as I packed up her things and picked up a peacefully sleeping child to drag off to the doctor. I made sure I asked about these things because even though I knew the response I wanted to be sure I had the appropriate wording for these medical professionals masquerading as daycare teachers. Here it is: most prescription cough medicine includes codeine – this is not typically prescribed to an otherwise healthy 4 year old, according to my pediatrician. Also, vaporub is not recommended by my pediatrician because it can actually be toxic and can cause the body to produce MORE mucous, kind of the opposite of what I’m looking for here. After bringing her to the doctor and getting the “required” note, I brought her to daycare Monday morning. Her teachers weren’t terribly pleased with the doctor’s recommendations but they were unable to produce a copy of their medical degree so until then I think I’ll stick with my pediatrician.

Or my grandmother who put her own child in the oven when he had pneumonia. Yep, that was doctor’s orders. Hmmm….