Dear Toddler, I Have A Problem With You

Dear Toddler,

I see you.  You’re standing there with your big eyes, little feet, and sticky Hobbit hands, flashing that impish grin at me.  You know that you’re adorable, but guess what?  I’m not falling for it.

I’ve got a lot of problems with you and now, you’re going to hear about them.

You’ve had two years to figure this shit out.  Two.  A person can get an Associate degree in two years.  So, what have you been doing with your time?

Let’s start with an obvious one.  Diaper changes.  We do this EVERY SINGLE DAY, several times a day.  Nothing about it should come as a surprise to you.  So, why do I need an exorcist every time I put you on the changing table?  I CAN’T CLEAN YOU UP when you arch your back, kick me in the face, and scream bloody murder.

If you hate diaper changes that much, then here’s an idea:  COOPERATE WITH POTTY TRAINING.  According to meme studies supplied by online strangers, you’re already behind your peers.  This is your own fault.  You lack focus.  It’s not that hard to aim and drop something into a toilet.  You’ve done it with my phone.  And people train cats to do it.  I know.  I’ve seen videos of cats flushing a toilet.  I’d like to believe that what I begat is smarter than a cat.

Speaking of cats, let’s apply some common sense here.  A tail is not a penis.  Please don’t yank it. And coating the cat in maple syrup and flour will not turn him into a pancake. It will not make him like you. Do you see anyone else doing that?  Don’t be a pioneer. Either pet the cat or ignore him.

Did I just mention pancakes?  Let’s discuss meal time.  Being a toddler is hard.  People always tell you when to play, snack or nap.  It’s a rough life.  But when your Highness experiences meal fatigue, could you please leave the plate ON the table instead of whipping it across the room like a drunk?  You’ve mastered signing AND saying “All Done.”  Why don’t we put these newfound skills to work at meal time?

Now, let’s talk about these tantrums.  I’m going to be brutally honest.  You get upset over stupid shit.  And I know that you think I’m a god, but I can’t control certain things.  Like cloud coverage.  I’m sorry that the sky is too blue for your Majesty.  And I don’t know why the neighbor decided to drive HIS big, red truck to work today without consulting you. But none of these offenses justify your strip show at Target.  I don’t care if you’re a boy or a girl.  Trampy toddlers come in either gender.  Have some self-respect.  Stop flashing your pull-ups in Produce.

Speaking of Target, and the Starbucks attached to Target, and the drive-thru attached to the Starbucks nowhere near Target, let’s talk about coffee.  Being a Mommy requires coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.  I gave up caffeine AND booze for both of you during pregnancy.  That’s a grand total of TWENTY MONTHS.  I’m a saint, so I don’t need your howler-monkey protests now that I’m hitting the ‘BUX again.  Do something constructive while Mommy caffeinates.  Read Dickens.

One last thing.  Do you remember the time you spotted that Calliou doll at your aunt’s house?  And how you asked me for one?  No.  Just, no.  I’ve heard about this bald-headed bastard.  He’s the gateway to whining.  I’m not letting him near the house, so watch PBS instead.  Learn math.  Get a STEM job.

Well, I hope this helps you get your shit together.  Here are some GMO-filled Cheerios.  Or maybe they don’t contain GMO’s anymore.  I don’t know. Just eat them and fend for yourself for a few minutes without falling down the stairs. Mommy needs to hide and stuff her face with gluten-filled goodies.

With much love,

Your adoring underpaid servant

Day 1: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

What’s the deal?  Why another 30-day challenge?  I made the 2016 New Year’s Resolution to complete my first manuscript by the end of this year.  Despite many red ombre cup sacrifices on the altars of Starbucks and Barnes and Nobles, no progress has been made.  This book just isn’t writing itself.

Why not?  Well, let’s be blunt.  Because I’m a slacker who needs a swift kick in the rear.

I’m not sure what it is about 30-day challenges, but they definitely motivate me to write.  I’ve had this character walking around in my head for a while and over the holiday, she temporarily evicted Charlie Weaver and Shivani Roy.  I am not certain about her name (although I have one idea), but I AM certain about what she is.

She’s a Sanctimommy.  

????  What the hell is a “Sanctimommy?”

According to Wikipedia, a sanctimommy is “a portmanteau of two words, sanctimonious and mommy. The word is a colloquialism used to refer to a person, usually a female, who has very opinionated views on child rearing and presents them upfront without any sense of humility.”

Last week, I actually wrote out and posted one of the scenes that has been swirling in my head for a while.  (“A Sanctimommy Visits The Mall.”)  I received positive feedback from friends, family AND my husband.  This is big, since my husband, a nonfiction reader, isn’t really into the genres that I write about.  He actually laughed.  A few friends asked me if I had more stories like this.

This is the first time anyone has actually asked me for MORE stories about one of my characters……

I want to use this challenge to write out as many “Sanctimommy” stories as I can over the next 30 days.  I don’t know if this will be anything, but I feel compelled to follow it.  So here goes:

Over the weekend, as I patrolled a neighborhood on the other side of town, I spotted several minivans parked beside the curb of a house.  There was a sign in the yard.  It said “Open House.”  I pulled my minivan over to the side and observed the driveway with interest.  There were several families walking into the house.  Many of them had small children.  I couldn’t spot any glaring errors in parenting, but I stepped out of the car.  I was certain that if I went inside, someone would need my help.

I unstrapped my precious guppy from his car seat and gently placed him in my carrier.  I did a few squats on the sidewalk to make sure he was safely secured before walking across the street and inside the house.  At first glance, the foyer appeared somewhat clean.  But when I looked up, I spotted a single cobweb thread hanging precariously from the chandelier.  The owners obviously felt that hygiene wasn’t important.  Inwardly cringing at the filth, I reached into my bag to assure myself that I had plenty of hand sanitizer and antibacterial liquid soap for later.

Determined to save the other unsuspecting families, I followed them into the bowels of the house.  A woman was speaking with a couple when I entered the kitchen.  She interrupted her conversation to smile and greet me.  “Hi, I’m Kathy.  Feel free to look around.  I’m going to help this family upstairs for a moment, but I’ll be right back if you have any questions.”  I nodded and she left the room with the other family.

I nervously searched the kitchen for more errant cobwebs.  It appeared tidier than the foyer, but when I spotted the jars of baby “food” on the counter, my senses went on high alert.  If parents are lax about food, they’ll be lax about other things, like safety.  I immediately walked over to the large island in the middle of the kitchen.  Sure enough, the first drawer I pulled opened easily.  It was filled with utensils.  I gritted my teeth at the sight of all those uncorked forks.

I quickly unzipped my diaper bag and rifled through it.  With a sigh of relief, I pulled out a large back of corks and placed it on the counter.  I grabbed the tray of forks and dumped it on the counter.  Grateful for my nimble fingers, I methodically corked each fork and placed it back in the drawer.  That last fork was corked just as the real estate agent returned from upstairs.

Kathy watched me place the last fork in the drawer.  She tilted her head to one side and asked, “Uh, what are you doing?”

I scowled at her and slammed the drawer closed.  “Do these people have children?” I demanded, crossing my arms.  I couldn’t keep the anger out of my voice.

Kathy’s eyes widened in surprise.  “Who?  The owners?”  When I nodded, she looked past me to the jars of baby food.  “Yes,” she replied slowly.  The uncertainty on her face was apparent.

“Do you have any idea what’s going on in this house?”  I frowned at her, and slammed my hands down on the counter.  “Any idea at all?  Or are you too busy making your sale?”

“What are you talking about?” Kathy asked, raising her eyebrows.  She remained where she was standing.

“This is an ugly situation, Kathy,” I opened the drawer, pulled out a corked fork and waved it at her.  “A very ugly situation.  I have friends at the CPS who would be very interested in what’s going on over here.  Very,” I stressed the last word so she would understand the gravity of what just happened.

“Miss, I don’t know who you are,” Kathy began, as she held up her hands in front of her.

“Have you ever heard of the CPS?  It stands for Child Protective Services,” I told her, and put the fork in my diaper bag.  I was proud of my own foresight.  The CPS could use it as evidence in this case.

“Hey, you can’t take that,” Kathy frowned and took a step towards me.

I pulled my phone and aimed it at her.  “Come any closer and I’ll include you in my report as an accessory to their crimes against children,” I said evenly, as I held up my phone.  “What did you say your name was again?  Kathy what?”



A “Sancti-Mommy” Visits The Mall

Earlier this week, I took my little one to the mall for our daily morning stroll.  As we passed the playground, my gaze fell upon a small girl child.  She was wandering around like an aimless urchin.  Maybe she was an aimless urchin.  I don’t know.  I didn’t have time to dwell on that possibility.  One of her feet was bare and there was a vending machine only ten feet away her.  Before chilled air could wrap flu tentacles around the little tyke’s foot, I rushed towards the playground.

The only adult in the play area was a woman sitting on a bench.  Her eyes were on a book instead of her child.  She looked up as I approached.  “You’re doing it wrong,” I told her kindly when I spotted the missing sock next to her.  I grabbed it and quickly placed it on the small child’s foot.  There was a large diaper bag beside the woman.  I took the initiative to rifle through it and pull out a hat.  I gently placed it on the little girl’s head.  My chest swelled with pride as I walked away.  I could hear the woman’s expletives of gratitude echo across the playground.  After all, a covered child is a happy child.

Buoyed by my random act of kindness, I searched for more opportunities to help strangers with children.  Fortunately, the mall was crawling with unfit parents.  I spotted a pair of them pushing a wailing baby in a neglect buggy.  Happy children do not cry in public places.  Mine never do, so this couple clearly needed my help.  I tightened my arms around my precious guppy, before marching in their direction.

They stopped talking when they saw me.  I knelt down beside the baby and buggy.  “You poor little hugless child,” I murmured in a soothing voice, gently stroking his hair.  “I’m sure someone loves you.” Neither person moved when I unbuckled the little boy and picked him up.  The infant stopped crying and looked at me.  “Perhaps your child would cry less if you carry him,” I suggested, before handing him to his mother.  The couple stared at me.  The woman’s cheeks flushed crimson with embarrassment.  “It’s okay,” I assured her in a confident voice.  It masked how uneasy I felt leaving the hapless mite in their care.  “Now that you know better, you’ll do better.”  The man sputtered something unintelligible as I continued to patrol the mall.

My mind whirled as I scanned my surroundings.  So many people needed my help.  But who would reap the greatest benefit from my intervention?  Suddenly, the stench of cinnamon hit me like a brick wall.  Of course.  The food court.  What weak-willed parent can resist the lure of the nugget?  I pulled my scarf over my nose and headed in that direction.

I wasn’t surprised by what I saw.  Rows of tables littered with trays of garbage.  My stomach sank.  So many parents were shoveling GMO’s into the open mouths of their unsuspecting children.  I walked past a few gluten peddlers before spotting a dire situation.  A helpless adult male sitting beside a shrieking child.  I looked around, but there wasn’t a mother in sight.

My pace quickened.  The man obviously needed help to defuse the tantrum.  The little girl stood next to the table, red-faced, fists clenched, howling at the top of her lungs.  I couldn’t blame her.  She was probably protesting the nuggets.

“Hi Sweetheart,” I said softly, kneeling beside the little girl.  The man looked startled, but then visibly relaxed when I winked at him.  He know that I was there help.  “Why are you sad?”

“No eat,” the little girl stamped her foot and shrieked.  “Me no eat.”

“You’re such a smart little girl,” I cooed, as I tousled her curls.  “You know that your daddy is trying to poison you.”

“What?” The man sputtered, while the little girl stuck one unclean thumb in her mouth.  Her eyes lit up with interest.

“Well, I’m going to help you, sweetheart,” I smiled at her and picked up their trays.  “Let’s put this where it belongs.”  I walked over to the trash can and threw both plates in.  I pulled out my hand sanitizer and squirted some into my palms.  “Garbage belongs in garbage.”

The man gaped at me, while the little girl smiled and clapped her hands.  I grinned back at her.  Sometimes, children know better than their parents do.

Parenting is hard for some people.  It takes a village for these people to raise a child and I am a part of that village.  Because when you know better, you do better.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  This is satire.  It is fiction.  Please do not verbally torpedo me for the actions of a fictional character.  Thank you.



Day 13 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

Once the Starbucks red ombre cup catastrophe died down, I realized that I could actually help others out by creating a list of legitimately offensive things in 2016.  You’re welcome.

Here’s a list of offensive things to start 2016, in no particular order:

OFFENSIVE THING #1 – MCDONALD’S:  I get offended when I buy a hot fudge sundae at McDonald’s and rush home before it turns into a soupy mess, only to discover a gumdrop smattering of fudge in the cup.  It’s heartbreaking to reach the middle of the sundae and find nothing but the uninspiring swirl of vanilla soft serve.  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #2 – STARBUCKS:  I get offended when I wait twenty minutes in the Starbucks drive-thru line and order a non-fat, no foam vanilla latte, only to reach home and discover that there is a 3-inch layer of foam and no vanilla syrup in my cup.  That’s a plain cappuccino, NOT what I ordered. What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #3 – VERIZON:  I get offended when the guy at the Verizon store sells me a freaking IPHONE and guarantees that I purchased enough memory for all of the videos that I want to take, only to discover after 3 months of usage that I can’t take any more pictures, film any more videos, or buy any more music, because I don’t have enough memory.  I have to send things to “THE CLOUD.”  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #4 – MACY’S:  I get offended when the lady at the makeup counter of Macy’s sells me “age-defying” foundation under the glow of the store’s fluorescent lights.  So, I take it home and slather it all over my face with enthusiasm, only to discover that there’s nothing age-defying about it.  There is only a thick, tan paste caked into the creases of my face.  And the paste doesn’t even match my skin tone in natural light AT ALL.  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #5 – RECIPES:  I get offended when I find a recipe online, buy all of the necessary ingredients, actually follow the instructions with engineering precision, and only end up with 1.5 dozen cookies instead of the promised 5 dozen.  I’m not baking for chipmunks.  I’m baking for human beings, so I didn’t use a thimble to apportion the cookie dough.  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #6 – PANYTHOSE:  I get offended when I buy a pair of “control top reinforced” pantyhose, take them home, and stuff my parts into them, only to discover that there’s nothing controlling or reinforcing about them.  Things that moved before, continue to move after inserting them into nylon mesh.  What’s up with that?

(NOTE:  Item #6 really applies to any form-fitting flesh containment system.  I think the Jedi knights from Star Wars were on to something.  We as a society need to move to long, flowing hooded robes.  It would solve a lot of problems.)

OFFENSIVE THING #7 – WASHABLE MARKERS:  I get offended when I am badgered by my 4-year old son into buying markers at the store, grudgingly agree to it when I spot “Washable” markers, and let him color with them at home, only to discover that there is nothing washable about the markers once they have been liberally applied to walls, sofas or any other clear surface in the house.  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #8 – MILKY WAY:  I get offended when I purchase a bag of “fun-size” Milky Way chocolate for my secret stash, rush home to hide from my family, and pull one out of the bag to eat while crouching under the bed, only to discover that there is nothing “fun” about them.  They’re barely a bite of chocolate.  I may as well lick the glass on the pastry display case at Starbucks, because I’d get more of a sugar high from it.  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #9 – JET’S PIZZA:  I get offended when I order a super special pizza from Jet’s Pizza, they ask me if I want a round or square pizza, and I order the square pizza, only to discover that the pizza doesn’t even remotely resemble a square.  It’s a RECTANGLE.  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #10 – HUMORLESS PEOPLE:  I get offended when I read an online article, carefully craft a delightfully snarky comment, and post it for the masses to admire, only to discover a coven of humorless people who get offended by anything.  The internet is no place for humor.  What’s up with that?

Well, that’s it for now.  I’m sure if I put my mind to it, I’ll find other stuff that offends me.  Happy New Year!

Why Starbucks Hates the Wolverines, Not Jesus

So, last night, once the little children finally drifted off to sleep, I jumped online to read the trending news.  The most important item of the evening was something about Starbucks.  To my horror, I discovered that Starbucks had the audacity to redesign its holiday cups for 2015.  They actually eliminated all holiday themes and replaced them with NOTHING.  Their cups are PLAIN RED.

As a pro-snowflake person, I felt insulted.  Removing any winter-related design is a clear attack on cold weather.  I was about to create my own hashtag protest until I read comments from a former pastor named Joshua Feuerstein.  I was relieved to discover that the people at Starbucks don’t hate snowflakes.  They hate Christmas.

Now, I’m not a religious person, so I had no idea that this was how we should interpret the plain red cups.  I felt growing rage as I read about the “War on Christmas” and how much Starbucks “hates Jesus.”  I had no idea that the manger scene actually took place in the North Pole.  Were the Three Wise Men actually Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Reindeer and the Abominable Snowman?  Was Jesus born in the middle of a blizzard?  If so, then I completely understand the former pastor’s outrage about the elimination of the winter scenes from Starbucks’ cups.

After all, a strong religious foundation is based on disposable coffee cup designs during the holiday season.  If you take that away from religious people, what else do they have?  Where else can they go for faith?  Based on this logic, I was eager to join the pastor’s campaign against Starbucks.  After plunking down $4.50 on the Starbucks counter for my caramel macchiato, I told the barista that my name was “Merry Christmas.”  I chuckled inwardly as I waited for my drink next to the large “Christmas” blend coffee display.  Take that, Starbucks!  That’ll teach you to attack Christmas and Jesus of the North Pole.

As I walked through the mall, sipping my Starbucks coffee in its plain red cup, I heard Christmas carols.  In November.  It occurred to me that as an agnostic, this should offend me in some way.  So, I stifled the warm, festive feelings surging within me to muster outrage.  I wrapped my fingers more tightly around that plain red cup.  I could feel its power against the conversion music that blared over the speakers.  I didn’t want that music to accidentally convert me, so I quickly left the mall and its blatant “War On NON-CHRISTIANS.”

When I returned home, a friend of mine expressed outrage that Starbucks colors were green and white.  I frowned, as I contemplated his comment.  Those are the colors of the Michigan State Spartans.  On further reflection, Starbucks also has a lot of red and white in its stores.  The colors of the Ohio State Buckeyes.  With increasing concern, I realized that I hadn’t seen one single display in the store with maize and blue, which are the colors of the University of Michigan.  I could only draw one logical conclusion.

Starbucks hates the Wolverines.  And so begins my hashtag protest campaign: