Thursday, July 28, 2011

She's Crossed the Line

The tables have turned. Six months ago I never imagined my 8-year-old son with premature pre-teen angst would be "the pleasant one," but it's true. My divalicious 4-year-old has crossed the line from sassy-cute to sassy-bratty.

Declarations that have recently crossed her lips:

When asked why she was acting so bratty: I don't like ANYthing ANYone is saying.

While riding in the car with a chattering Alex: I don't want to hear ANY sounds!

When I dare to smile at something she says: Stop laughing at me!

When told it was a "school day": I do NOT like school, so I'm NOT going (no offense, Ms. Brooke!).

When presented with a meal composed of something she did not specifically request: I do NOT like [insert random food item], so I'm not eating it. [Random food item] is gross.

I know other parents say their 4-year-olds--especially girls--are sassy, but I truly believe Lauren takes it to another level. She goes from this:

To this:
in a matter of seconds.

I told Brian I thought Lauren had been acting particularly bratty recently. He said he hadn't noticed. That's because she's a total daddy's girl. Actually, she sucks up to all the males in the family. The other day, my dad got her a cute wall hanging that says "girly girl." He had shown it to me, but not to her (because, not surprisingly, she was cranky at the time). I just went ahead and hung it on her door. The next morning, she grumbled about the sign to me, saying she didn't like it, until I told her that Pop had gotten it for her. Suddenly she loved it. Watch out, future suitors. Lauren will play you like a violin.

Despite her increasing brattiness, Lauren is still almost always willing to put on a "dance show." The bigger the audience, the better. However, she has very high expectations of her audience. She gets upset if you don't clap loudly enough. If she asks someone to introduce her from "offstage," and you are not enthusiastic enough with the introduction, you're gonna hear about it. Fortunately her, uh, interesting dance moves--that somehow demonstrate both a sense of rhythm and a scary sense of what's sexy--make her "shows" enjoyable despite her diva-like behavior.

I'm pretty sure I'm better at appropriately reprimanding and then ignoring outbursts with my second child. I'm also pretty sure this is just a phase. I still see enough sincere sweetness in my little diva to know she is not permanently headed down the "mean girl" route. Although I'm not 100% certain ...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Not Just Any Princess

Thirty feet. Fifty AMP. Electricity/water/sewage. Modern facilities. Pets allowed. Trailer plus vehicle. Wooded site.

Another language? A secret code? Until recently, I had no idea what the terms above meant when used together (okay, I had no idea what 50 AMP meant in any context ...). But not anymore. Over the past couple months, I have tenatively embarked on a hobby that I never in a million years thought I would even consider. I am, after all, a princess. But now I'm not just any princess--I am The Camping Princess.

My little "code" above should be familiar to the campers--especially RV campers--out there. I do not know if I am ready to put myself in the category of--gulp--campers yet, but I have recently found myself scouring the Web for campgrounds where we could take--and easily entertain--the kids for a weekend. I don't think my requirements are that high--I simply require more than pretty natural surroundings, because otherwise my kids will be plugged into their various electronic devices while "enjoying" nature. We're not exactly a hiking and bird-watching family.

We had a perfect first family camping trip in the RV, which we affectionately call "Betty." Brian had taken the kids camping a couple times, but I did not join them (I had to take care of the dogs!). We joined two other families at a somewhat-local amusement park with an adjacent campground. There were plenty of other people around, there was plenty to do, the kids had playmates, the ADULTS had playmates--it was all good.

A couple weeks later, our family went to Lake Raystown, which had been highly recommended to me by avid campers. The weekend got off to a very rocky start, due to lack of cell phone service in the "wild" (damn Verizon). Brian was driving separately in the RV because of a late meeting. The kids and I arrived around 8 p.m. and anticipated Brian would arrive by 9 p.m. At about 9:45, after we had roamed around the gift shop for the umpteenth time, I was ready to get in my car and look for our RV toppled over along the side of the road. But then Brian came careening into the parking lot (as much as an RV can "careen") with the dogs yapping inside. My heart rate returned to normal.

Because we reserved a campsite relatively late in the season, our spot was awful, with a somewhat steep incline down to our fire pit. It didn't matter much where the fire pit was, though. When the kids decided they wanted s'mores, we made them in the microwave. Like I said, we're far from hard core.

There was plenty to do at Raystown, but after two nights I was DONE (well, "finished," if you want to get nit-picky about word choice). The kids' behavior was less than ideal, probably because they were stuck with each other and their parents for two days straight; it was hot; and a 35-foot RV may be large by RV standards, but not by "normal" standards. I told Brian I was finished with camping until Labor Day.

So now, two-thirds of the way through summer vacation (eek!) and with two somewhat-major camping trips under my belt, I can say I am "okay" with camping. In an RV. With electricity, running water, and lots of activities nearby. After all, The Camping Princess can spend only so much time lounging in her air-conditioned abode, eating microwaved s'mores.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blood Before Dawn

The sun was just rising over her sleepy college town. She hobbled away from the incident, blood dripping from her wounds. She was so dirty she was not even sure where she was hurt--she just knew there was blood, and a lot of it. The birds were chirping, but no one else was awake yet. She needed help, but had nowhere to go.

After walking for a bit she started to feel stronger, and she began to run. She finally reached a seedy motel and went inside. The bored front desk clerk barely glanced at her as she entered, frantic look on her dirty face and the blood now dry on her wounds. She needed to get to a bathroom, and then she would figure out what to do next. Finally a kind soul directed her to the nearest ladies' room. She cringed when she saw the blood on the door frame, and then realized it was hers. She looked in the mirror to assess the damage ...

And the drama ends there. I was running early this morning, tripped on a bad section of sidewalk, and scraped my chin and my right knee. It's not pretty, but I'll survive. The "incident" happened before 6:30 a.m. I was near the Waffle Shop on West College, but it wasn't open yet (and I don't think they would have appreciated me getting blood in the public restoom in their dining establishment). I did have my cell phone with me, but because I was able to continue running with no pain (I ignored my throbbing chin), I soldiered on.

The "seedy motel" was the Quality Inn across from the Waffle Shop on North Atherton. Not exactly seedy, although the front desk clerk really just gave me a quick glance, despite the blood covering my arms from wiping my chin. Fortunately a guest at the motel directed me to a restroom. So I cleaned up myself and the doorframe, and ran the remaining two miles back to my car. And then I went to the grocery store. Couldn't pass up the opportunity to go grocery shopping by myself in an almost-empty store! My first stop in the store was the band-aid section. And yes, I pulled one out of the box and applied it before paying. Possibly my biggest crime.

So when I got home at about 8:15 a.m., I had already taken Alex to the airport (he is going on a trip with his grandparents), run 7.5 miles, suffered a mild but very bloody injury to my chin, and gone grocery shopping for the week. I am awesome.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Not Just Any Camping Top 10

Haven't posted in awhile, but I have a good one for you today:

Top 10 Ways You Know You're Camping in a PARTICULARLY Rural State Park

10. The signs in your cabin are full of grammatical errors.

9. Mullets and "tails" are still in style.

8. You don't have to worry about anyone stealing your hummus.

7. You DO have to worry about the assorted raccoons, groundhogs, chipmunks and squirrels that live under your cabin, not to mention the mice that live inside it.

6. You see men with enviable (for certain women) B cups.

5. You see women with tatoos that have stretched so much you can no longer tell what they are.

4. You have to drive miles to get cell phone service.

3. You can entertain yourself by counting the number of dead chipmunks in a one-mile stretch.

2. The only fruit-like item sold at the concession stand is strawberry ice cream.

And the number 1 way you know you're camping in a particularly rural state park:

1. You hear a father lovingly refer to his child as "Butt Crack."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

OMG. What am I going to do with her?

I started a couple blog posts over the past few months, but did not deem any of them funny enough for public consumption. I'm not sure if it's because my kids were boring or my writing was boring. Anyway, I figured I could elicit a few chuckles with a post about my "mean girl" in the making.

My little Lulu Belle used to be sweet about 90 percent of the time. That percentage is decreasing at the same rate gas prices are increasing. I used to only joke that she was a "mean girl" in the making, but now I am getting seriously concerned.

I had been deluding myself into believing that Lauren was really only bratty at home. A couple weeks ago her preschool teacher told me Lauren said outright that she did not like a particular little girl and therefore did not want to play with her anymore. When her teacher told her that wasn't very nice, Lauren said she meant she did not like the apple posted on the bulletin board. I'm not sure if I should be proud of her quick although illogical thinking or embarrassed about her behavior.

Earlier this month I returned home from a quick overnight trip sans children, armed with a few small souvenirs. I presented Lauren with what I considered an adorable pink and white polka-dotted bunny. When I handed it to her, she scrunched up her nose and said, "I don't like this very much." I stared at her, willing myself not to yell, and then just grabbed the bunny and said I would keep it myself. So of course she changed her mind, suddenly fell in love with the bunny, and forced herself to cry big, fat crocodile tears until I gave it back.

I was sure--well, about 90 percent sure--that Lauren would not pull "I don't like this very much" with any other gift-givers. I was wrong. She said the exact same thing to her dance teacher when presented with a cute little ladybug toy as an end-of-semester trinket. My mom was the lucky one who had to deal with that incident. When I asked Lauren later what had happened, she said something about just not liking part of the ladybug. Whatever, kid. We're on to you.

Recently we were having lunch with some visiting friends. Lauren and my friend's daughter both got a mac and cheese kid's meal that included a yogurt tube. Lauren got strawberry and the other little girl got blueberry, but she didn't like blueberry. Lauren was unwilling to trade, even though she likes both flavors. I opted not to push the issue. Lauren, however, had to keep talking about her strawberry yogurt. She asked her friend if she liked strawberry or blueberry. I thought that might mean she was willing to trade. I was wrong, again. Lauren just wanted to drive home the fact that she was the one with the strawberry yogurt. The brat. Or maybe I should say "the sweet little girl doing something bratty."

Lauren's vocabulary is, well, advanced. Not in the sense of using sophisticated or scientific terms, but more in the sense of sounding like a teenager. Every conversation is peppered with "awesome," "that's SO cool" and even "OMG." When she sees her friends outside of school, they hug and squeal. At this point it makes me chuckle, but I know my mild amusement at her "valley girl-esque" behavior will not continue.

Especially if "OMG" is directed at me. That will NOT be awesome. Wish me luck. If her sassy attitude now is any indication of what is coming during her teen years, I am DOOMED.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vomit, Fever, Sore Throat, Oh My!

The other day I did something I thought I would never do again--stand by while my companion vomited in the bushes. My companion was Alex, and he vomited chocolate milk shake into the bushes by my office. Sorry if I just ruined your lunch.

Alex had a fever on Monday and was just generally blah. Maybe a bit more than "blah" because he threw up. Fortunately the bug passed through him quickly--or so I thought. He went to school the next day seeming close to 100 percent. He had not eaten much the day before, but I really thought the vomiting incident was more a gagging thing than a vomiting thing, if you know what I mean. He has always had an "impressive" gag reflex that he exercises when he does not want to eat green veggies or, God forbid, an entire banana.

Anyway, I sent him to school. As of 12:30, I had not received a call from the nurse, so I assumed he was okay. Then the call came. Alex had thrown up in the classroom--per the nurse--and was waiting for me to pick him up.

I scramble to pack up some work to do at home and rush to his school. Where I find him sitting in the main office, WHISTLING. What sick kid whistles? And then comes home and plays the Wii for two hours? At least I was able to get some work done.

The next day comes. There is a two-hour delay due to snow. Alex seems fine. Even sets up a disco party in his bedroom (lights and all). Then he tries to brush his teeth. It's 10 minutes before we need to leave. And he gags. In 30 minutes we are at the doctor instead of our respective school/work locations.

So he has strep throat. Lovely. Fortunately the doctor says he can return to school the next day, because it would be approximately 24 hours since he started the antibiotic. I had no idea strep throat did not always involve a sore throat. I had it once, and my throat KILLED me. Strep can manifest itself as a headache, fever or tummy ache. Sometimes causes vomiting. And you can also get strep in places like your rectum. You needed to know that, right? (I hope you stopped eating your lunch by now.)

Anyway, Alex bounced back quickly. He has been good about taking his medicine. He is back to his smart-ass self. He's still milking this illness, though. Yesterday morning he requested ice cream for breakfast. Sorry, kid. Your "free ride" is over.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Snips and Snails and ... Sports

My son has been acting disgustingly ... male lately. Not in an endearing little boy way, but in a full-grown man way. Think obsession with sports and video games, dirty socks all over the floor, and an inability to clear his plate from the dinner table. I won't even go into what his bathroom looks like.

Last Saturday I returned home from running some errands with Lauren to find Alex and Brian camped out on the couch, bags of M&Ms and pretzels between them and fast food wrappers on the floor. They were alternately screaming at the TV (the Penn State bowl game was on) and stuffing food in their mouths. It was just so ... male. Until Lauren stripped down to her skivvies, like she always does, and started playing with her princess dolls. However, they didn't even notice her until she dared obstruct their view of the TV.

A few days later, I overheard my two "men" discussing the Sugar Bowl. Brian: "Arkansas threw a pass and then [blah, blah, blah]." Alex, who fell asleep before the game was over: "Really? What did the ref say? [blah, blah, blah]." I'm not sure how to feel about Alex's obsession with sports. He would go to a Penn State sporting event every day if he could. His knowledge of football, basketball, and volleyball, not to mention soccer and wrestling, is really quite impressive. He holds his own in sports conversations with adults. He also has a very "adult" way of yelling at refs when they make what he considers a bad call. No ref is safe from the "wrath" of Alex. If the refs could hear him, they would not believe his comments were coming from an 8-year-old.

At the risk of getting all scholarly on my half-dozen blog readers, I will admit I am wondering how I ended up with two children who exhibit just about every gender stereotype. Lauren even more than Alex, actually (Alex is afraid of 3D movies and roller coasters--decidely "un-male" things of which to be afraid). At the risk of sounding cliche, I suppose it's the ol' "nature vs. nuture" debate. I think a bit of "chicken and the egg" comes into play, too. Does a little boy develop an interest in football because his parents take him to games from a young age? Does he like football because that's what all his friends play on the playground? Or is this particular little boy just "wired" to love sports?

I'll save my discussion of "sugar and spice and everything nice" for another post, although here's a thought: since when did "everything nice" include Disney Princesses? I have yet to meet a little girl who doesn't love them.* I doubt I'm the only parent who resisted introducing her daughter to those questionable role models, and then gave in when it became clear that obsession has a mind of its own.

Anyway. Boys. Sports. Inability to clean up after themselves. Discuss in the comments.

*I know there are plenty of little girls who do not love Disney Princesses. They must just live in a different kingdom than my own princess.