If My Life Were a Children’s Book.

Friday

If you want to get a haircut, you ask your Mother-In-Law to come watch the kids.

If your Mother-in-Law comes to watch the kids, your youngest is sure to ham it up and play especially sick.

If your youngest hams it up and plays especially sick, she will tell you he didn’t get off the couch all morning.

If she tells you he didn’t get off the couch all morning, you will take his temperature and decide he needs to go to the doctor – before the weekend.

If you decide he needs to go to the doctor, you will take him in – despite the impending “Wintry Mix” and possible ice storms.

If you take him in, he will miraculously become healed in the Sick Waiting Room.

If he miraculously becomes healed in the Sick Waiting Room, he will have to touch, rub, and become one with all the surfaces.

If he becomes one with all the surfaces, you will become very anxious.

If you become very anxious, he will become further energized by your anxiety.

If he becomes further energized by your anxiety, he will begin jumping and screaming maniacally.

Jumping at doctor's office while

If he begins jumping and screaming maniacally, he will attract the attention of the other children in the Sick Waiting Room.

If he attracts the attention of the other children in the Sick Waiting Room, they will begin to play together.

If they begin to play together, your anxiety will triple.

If your anxiety triples, they will amp up their game to running around a column while rubbing their hands, cheeks, and possibly tongues around it like they were seeing how many germs it takes to reach the center of a column.

If they amp up their game to seeing how many germs it takes to reach the center of a column, you will begin listening to their Grandmother’s phone call to try and ascertain what they’re in for.

If you try and ascertain what they’re in for, you will learn that their sister is currently being observed to see if she needs to go back to the hospital for her raging and incurable stomach virus.

If you learn that their sister is currently being observed to see if she needs to go back to the hospital for her raging and incurable stomach virus, your anxiety will give you a facial tic so extreme that the kids in the Well Waiting Room will think you’re winking at them.

If you get facial tic so extreme that the kids in the Well Waiting Room think you’re winking at them, you will try to mitigate the future germ damage to your household by restraining your toddler.

If you try to mitigate the future germ damage to your household by restraining your toddler, his wiggling and fighting will make the seconds tick by so slowly that you are convinced the best course of action for your ongoing sanity is to get up and leave.

If you become convinced the best course of action for your ongoing sanity is to get up and leave, right before you do, you will get called back (after one hour and fifteen minutes of Sick Waiting Room Seventh Layer of Hell.)

If you finally get called back, you will, in a fit of anxiety-induced-word-vomit, tell your doctor of all of your trials in the waiting room.

If you tell your doctor of all of your trials in the waiting room, you will follow up by asking her if she happens to have any dissolvable anxiety pills on her.

If you follow up by asking her if she happens to have any dissolvable anxiety pills on her, your toddler will once again be energized by your admittance of the A word, and will yell, “All Aboard!!”, because, you see, he is the Train Conductor.

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If your toddler plays Train Conductor with the stirrups, you will stop to tweet the moment, during which your toddler will seize the opportunity to find a well-hidden stray cup of water left by another child.

If your toddler finds a well-hidden stray cup of water, you will nearly break your nose (again) trying to tackle him before it reaches his lips.

At this point, you will begin praying for quick and painless deaths for each of your family members, as it is clear that all of your days are severely numbered.

Later Friday

After a nap (because after that visit there was no way you were doing anything else before naptime), you go to the pharmacy to fill your son’s prescription.

If you go to the pharmacy to fill your son’s prescription, the pharmacist will sympathize with you and tell you that she, too, has been sick for a week – with a really difficult strain of strep throat – and will cough, right before she mixes your son’s antibiotic.

If she coughs into your son’s antibiotic, you will again begin praying for quick and painless deaths for all of you – and maybe a slightly painful one for her.

Saturday

Your husband has to go to the doctor and gets two shots and a prescription.

Sunday

You and your daughter fall to illness.

Tuesday, Too Late to Go To The Doctor

Your illness worsens, now including a fever.

Wednesday

Your illness most definitely needs a doctor, but the entire city is shut down for the snowstorm that you’ve wanted all year long, so you tough it out and eagerly look forward to the distraction of a beautiful, thick white snow.

If you look forward to a snow, it will not come. And you will wait for eight hours, blowing your nose on every soft disposable surface in your house, not daring to leave due to impending doom, while it rains.

If you wait for eight hours while it rains, you will watch the wall-to-wall snow news all day long in hopes of an encouraging word about when you will get snow, but all you will see are thousands of happy snowstormees who live ever-so-slightly north of you.

If you see happy snowstormees, you will become not happy. But you will still wait, while it rains.

It gets dark, and it rains.

It gets darker, and your power goes out.

Then it starts snowing.

The children will hurry out in their snow gear, eager to make snowmen and snow angels and snow cream. Meanwhile, you hold the flashlight and jog in place on the porch so as to not let your feverish chills overtake you.

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You get maybe a quarter inch of snow. That will melt by morning.

Meanwhile, you continue to be inundated by everyone else’s amazing snowstorm dreams, while your own dreams are delirious because…fever.

Thursday

If you didn’t get the snowstorm you so hoped for, you will look at the bright side – that you can finally go to the doctor.

If you finally go to the doctor, the exhaustion from the week will overcome you and you will accidentally cry.

If you accidentally cry, your doctor will offer you antidepressants.

If your doctor offers you antidepressants, you will consider asking him for dissolvable anxiety pills for the next Pediatrician’s visit, and then wonder if he could instead prescribe you a trip to Fiji

While you’re wondering if your doctor can prescribe you a trip to Fiji, one of your kids gets all cozy and places their lips near a surface, almost assuredly picking up a new germ.

If your kid picks up a new germ, the cycle starts all over again.

And by the time it’s done, it’s most likely time for you to get another haircut.

Why I Quit Bathing My Kids.

My friends of the Daily Child Bather Variety (which thankfully are rare) cannot understand people like me.

They’re still in denial that the facts prove that most people are indeed like me but since I’m open and vocal about my anti-bathing stance, I must take the brunt of their shock.

But here’s a little story to illustrate why, exactly, I only bathe my children twice a week.

Maybe this kind of thing doesn’t happen to the daily bathers. And if so, they should count their blessings and shut up.

But they do happen to me.

It was a Thursday afternoon, perhaps yesterday, directly before naptime.

The timing is important, because all mothers know that “directly before naptime” means “I seriously cannot wait to have you in bed so that I can have a moment to reclaim my thoughts without anyone saying ‘heymommyheymommyheymommyheymommy’ while I’m simply trying to think one tiny sentence fragment of my own.”

(Cherish every moment, sweetheart. They go by so fast.)

But thanks to a frantic week, we were off schedule, and I was aware that my children stanketh more than usual.

(“Bath Nights” are Saturday nights and Tuesday nights. You do the math.)

So I had no choice. Pre-naptime baths absolutely had to happen.

I began running the bath and called the children from their blissful play.

“Everybody get naked and go tee-tee!”

Noah was first to whiningly reach me. As he was hopping off the toilet, he was still saying “I gotta go potty!”

“Do you need to poop?”

“No, silly! I just tee teed!”

“Then get in the tub.”

The washing began – along with the shock and awe over the fact that this bath, like all baths, requires me to spray your head, scrub your head, and rinse your head.

(WHY is that always such a surprise?? I will never understand.)

I finished Noah’s head and relegated him to the back of the tub. Then I began detangling Ali’s hair.

It’s unreal, her hair. At least ten feet long, thick, fine, and prone to extreme knots worthy of their own TLC freak show.

(I took her to a random salon at her birthday and requested that they put a deep conditioning detangling treatment on it. The salon manager didn’t believe me that she needed it, but agreed to it anyway. The treatment itself created a matted knot so big that it took her and another stylist over thirty minutes to get it out, all while the she shot me dirty, accusing looks while repeating that she’d never seen anything like it, clearly implicating me in a conspiracy to torture her.)

(Needless to say the treatment has not been any sort of long-term help.)

Back to the bath.

I was two and a half days into removing her tangles when Noah screamed, “I neeeeed to poooooop!”

Of course you do. Because you only poop once a week and of course it would be during this small window of rare bathing that your urges urgently interrupt.

But hey – it’s better than the alternative.

“Get out of the tub and poop, then.”

<Splash> <Splosh> <SHplop> <SHplop>

He tracked his giant pond-sized footprints across the bathroom floor.

He sat behind us, straining and turning purple, filling the room with the most unclean sound effects and aromas.

I considered the air particles for a second – should I just give up this bathing process all together?

“I’m doooone!!! I NEEEED YOU TO WIIIIIIPE MEEEE!”

I’m right here dude. No need to broadcast.

So I rinsed the masses of conditioner off my hands and headed over to wipe a butt.

Mommy's Hands

He leaned over, holding my legs as I sent a piece of unlucky toilet paper journeying through his buttcheeks.

“My hands are all wet from my bath – not from the potty.”, he told me.

“I’m aware of that fact. But thanks for the reassurances.”

I wiped him extra thoroughly since he was headed back into a liquid germ-sharing situation with his sister, then flushed and returned to my detangling of the lion’s mane.

I didn’t notice the fact that his once-a-week poo was so massive that it had clogged the toilet. Or that the commode innards had also gotten stuck in the air and the water was continuing the run.

(One would assume such fortune could only happen once in a lifetime. But here it was, happening again, in the very same bathroom that was now brand new because of the last time it happened.)

I was unaware. Until I heard the sound of Victoria Falls rushing from the toilet.

I jumped up, splattering conditioner onto every surface, all while screaming “NONONONONO STOPSTOPSTOPSTOP!!!!”, sloshed through the quickly forming lake, and began frantically turning the knob on the back of the toilet.

The falls kept falling until the very last quarter turn. By then, the River of PooWater was nearing Ali’s bedroom.

I snatched up their towels and started mopping, while children, who are the ultimate Captain Obviouses, began saying things like,

“There’s water in the floor, Mommy!”

and,

“The toilet is overflowing!”

and,

“It’s comin’ over this way!”

I am not a yeller.

But in a moment of extreme PTSD – complete with flashbacks of living with the last toilet flood damage for 184 days – I yelled.

“Be quiet! Everyone – be quiet!”

Because apparently sopping up water demands silence. At least for Mommies who cannot tune out children.

It took both of their towels and a third fresh one from the linen closet to soak up all the PooWater, leaving me with extraordinarily unclean-feeling feet.

But it’s not like I could wash them off in the bathtub. Or track across my bedroom carpet to the other bathtub.

So I just went back, once more, to my job of detangling.

Mommy's Feet

After everyone was [as clean as they could get in that room] and deposited in their respective bedrooms wearing fresh towels, I carried the sadly abused towels downstairs, using as few fingers as possible and praying that they weren’t wet enough to drip. I opened up the washing machine, ready to fling them in from afar…only to discover that I’d completely forgotten about the last load of laundry the day before.

And this,

All of This,

is why my children are, as of today, required to become hipsters.

I took a few pictures of the perpetrator so that I could remember what cleanliness looks like. To cherish the moment.

Noah Clean

Because he will be allowed bathe again when he’s twenty-one.

The Unpaved Road to Kid’s Market.

This has been my permanent position this week.

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Because I’ve begun the process of consigning. For the first time in my life. With eight years of children’s clothes to wash, sort, match, pin, tag, and tape.

Take special notice of the container of apple juice on the coffee table, where children have begun to resort to helping themselves (and not returning things to the fridge) along the mixture of animal crackers and Play-Doh, a sure sign that I have given up all appearances of parenting.

In Birmingham, the mainstream way to get rid of kid’s clothes is through the giant semi-annual consignment sale, Kid’s Market.

But oh, the process. The pain. The detail.

As I’ve learned the many correct steps of proper consigning, I’ve come across some memories, and some difficult questions and realizations.

I began the journey by going through my returned girl’s clothes from my sister-in-law. I was amazed at the memories tied up in those garments, like the time I had to convince my former boss that Ali wasn’t a production killer, but a morale booster when we came into the office. And if you really want to be convincing, well, you need a t-shirt.

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And the shocking resurgence of vivid images when, upon seeing this outfit for the first time in six years, I recalled the car-destroying blowout (and poo-clapping) that Ali had in it.

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(Maybe I shouldn’t sell that…)

(At least the skirt was brown.)

A few hours after that memory crashed into my consciousness, I came back downstairs after putting the kids to bed only to ACTUALLY SMELL THE POO.

It was like the Ghost of Watery Craps Past had come to visit me.

I was shocked and horrified. Could the power of memory be that strong? Or did that outfit never quite lose its special scent?

Then I walked into the kitchen and, with relief, saw that the smell was actually caused by the fact that Chris had gotten halfway through cleaning out the fridge and had bailed to put the kids to bed.

Then the questions began.

Like, was this mysterious item my garter, my sister-in-law’s garter, or an especially disturbing newborn headpiece?

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And whose glove was this? How long had it been exiled to the bags of children’s clothes, mourning the loss of its soulmate?

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Then the real agony began: the tagging.

Items must be…

1. Safety-pinned onto wire hangers,
2. Masking-taped with my ID number, and
3. Labeled with a barcode price tag, also safety-pinned on.

I quickly learned that I am not safety-pin proficient – at least when stabbing large-yet-dull safety pins through mounds of clothing – and began wondering if my fingers would ever be water-tight again.

(WHY is it a rule that the bigger the safety pin, the duller its point? The bigger the safety pin, the more I need it to function properly, PIN COMPANIES.)

I also regretted the fact that I wasn’t diabetic, as I had plenty of finger pricks to go around. I could have known my glucose levels down to the millisecond.

And how do I keep from bleeding on everything? It seems like a blood-streak through the middle of a price tag might deter purchases, but my fingers looked and felt as if they’d gone through the meat-grinder.

Several garments in, my heart had a panic attack when I realized that I might be doing it ALL wrong. What if I were hanging all of these clothes, so painfully stretched to fit a newborn shirt onto a full-sized adult hanger and then double safety-pinned to boot, in the wrong direction??!

This thought was horrifying. My fingers were already tracked worse than Lindsay Lohan’s arms. I could not bear the thought of having to redo it all.

So I called My Friend The Expert – this was worthy of more than a text, even – and asked her to please explain to me which way the hangers should be facing.

“They should look like a question mark. And yes, you have to get that right or you’ll have to turn everything around.”

“Like a question mark. When they’re facing me?”

“Yes.”

“Wait a minute…”

(I had to draw a question mark. Then look at it twice to make sure I’d drawn it correctly. These are the pains of being left-handed.)

“Okay. It’s a miracle. I’m doing it right!!”

Halfway through the first day of pinning, hangering, stabbing, and barcoding, I decided that I should hire my babysitter to do this for me. But then realized that would defeat the point of my frugal endeavor, and I had no Workman’s Comp to offer her and she would quite likely contract tetanus which I was sure I already had in eight out of ten fingers.

After day two, I had 82 hangers full of clothes, most containing two or more items bundled together.

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And yet my to-do piles were hardly diminishing.

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Of course, because the only thing that makes life fun is turning it into a spreadsheet, I’d tracked the prices of my hangers and tallied the value of my work thus far. I tried to convince myself it was worth my future in Finger Rehab.

As I laid in bed, my fingers throbbing as they shriveled up and died like a Wicked Witch’s feet under a house, I had the thought that perhaps I should save these clothes instead – so that Ali could see all the precious outfits I dressed her in as a baby.

I slapped myself and pointed out the 100,000 photos I took of her before she turned one, and fell asleep to the comfort that I had snapped them while I could – because my fingers will never be able to push buttons again.