Help! My Kid Is Socially Awkward (But So Is Yours)

If there are any parents reading this who are appalled by their kid’s behavior, I’ve compiled a list of universal infractions to help you understand that all kids are gross.

A friend called me recently with some grave concerns about her six-year-old daughter. The child, it seemed, had been exhibiting “socially awkward behavior,” and my friend was wondering how to curb it before it did any permanent damage to her reputation.
After I stopped laughing at the idea of a first grader with a reputation, it occurred to me my friend was asking in earnest, so I had her explain exactly what her daughter was doing.
The problem, it seemed, wasn’t so much the behavior as it was the code of conduct by which it was being judged: My friend was applying grownup rubrics to someone who hadn’t yet learned them. Furthermore, this was her first foray into the classroom as a parent. She hadn’t been immersed in elementary school culture long enough to observe that all kids are socially awkward if measured by these standards. Every last one of them.
No one comes right out and defines it, but there’s a grace period during which society overlooks kids’ awkward ways. It begins at birth and lasts approximately until puberty, when it tapers off painfully in a snuff of cringes and scowls.
Kids, quite simply, don’t know any better, and they need time in this forgiving haven of double standard and acceptance in which to learn. As both a parent and an elementary school substitute teacher, I have witnessed the gamut of behavior, which might commit the offender to the pariah list for life – or worse – if not for this clemency.
If there are any parents reading this who, like my friend, are appalled by their own child’s behavior, I have compiled a list of universal infractions to help you understand that all kids are gross – not just yours.

Nose picking

At any given moment in a classroom, there will be at least two kids partaking in some manner: dry, runny-nose-induced, bloody, pushing an object up there “to see if it fits” until it gets stuck, digging for aforementioned object, and the dreaded eating whatever is on the finger.
I have said, “No, thank you” to many a birthday treat after witnessing the honoree pick his nose just moments before passing out a tray of brownies to his classmates.

Thumb sucking

Sometimes, you just need a couple quick pulls off the old opposable. The urge to suck must be a powerful one indeed, because I have seen girls and boys as old as 11 brazenly stick their thumbs in their mouths and go about their business without a care as to who is watching.
The unsanitary nature of this habit is evident when you get a glimpse of a thumb, shiny with saliva, reaching into the communal crayon box.

Crotch holding

When you gotta go, you gotta go, and sometimes holding onto your crotch is the only way to prevent an accident. No teacher can refuse a trip to the bathroom to a child who’s squirming and plugging the dam with her hand.
Most of us still do this on occasion, when no one is around. Admit it, it works.

Gratuitous crying

Kids cry. A lot. Over big things, small things, and things indiscernible to an adult. They cry when they’re frustrated, angry, when they lose at bingo, when they’re told “no,” when they don’t get their way, and for a plethora of other reasons.
There’s no shame in their crying game.

Temper tantrums

What looks like a desperate need for anger management classes to us is actually children assimilating the management of their anger. A physically demonstrative expression of an overwhelming emotion is perfectly normal in young kids and usually runs its own course.

Holiday parties, music performances, and field trips are ripe for tantrums because of heightened expectations.

Falling on the floor

A close relative of crying and tantrums, falling on the floor spontaneously is commonplace in an elementary school. In fact, if parents could see how much time their kids spend rolling around on the floors, they would feel compelled to wash every article of clothing worn at school before allowing it on the furniture at home.
Keep in mind that, to us, falling to the floor represents a five-foot drop, whereas to kids, it’s three feet, tops.
There are countless other things kids do that make us blush vicariously, and if you’re lucky, you will remember some of the funnier ones to tell future boyfriends or girlfriends. The saving grace throughout all of this is that we have each other to glean perspective. What is deemed forgivable (if not outright acceptable) in elementary school is considered anti-social in the real world, where peer correction is relentless.
Until then, let your little ones be as gross, embarrassing, and inappropriate as they need to be, for they will grow out of it soon enough.

The 10 Crappiest Parents in Literature

Put down that copy of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and take a look at these reads for tips on what NOT to do when it comes to parenting.

Everybody’s an expert when it comes to parenting, from the woman in the park who tells you your child needs a warmer jacket to the newest parenting book swearing cloth diapers and essential oils are the only way to go.
If you’re ready to put down that copy of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and you need a laugh, take a look at these reads for tips on what NOT to do when it comes to parenting:

“I’ll Love You Forever”

by Robert Munsch

It’s supposed to be sentimental, but it might be the prequel to “Psycho”. Premise: the baby is a typical rampaging boy, unraveling toilet paper and creating havoc. Yet every night his mother cradles him and sings: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always.” It should have ended there.
But the boy becomes an adult with a wife and kid…and a mother who drags a ladder to his house, climbs in his window, picks him up and continues the lullaby. A lesson to mothers of sons: Know when to take a step back.

“Pride and Prejudice”

by Jane Austen

This is not just a love story about a girl who gets her man. It’s also a story about a girl who escapes her parents. With a mother whose sole purpose in life is to marry off her daughters and a father who hides in the library and issues sarcastic one-liners, Elizabeth needed to get out of the house.
Lesson here: Do not micromanage, and do not forget your children. That seems easy enough. Oh, and spend some time in the same room as your significant other to remind yourself they exist.

“A Widow for One Year”

by John Irving

Steps to follow: 1) Do not have an affair with your daughter’s babysitter because he looks like your deceased son. 2) Do not then abandon your daughter while she is with said babysitter at the beach. It might make for a great soap opera, but not a very well-balanced kid.
The daughter did become a writer, though, so maybe there’s something to be said for the tortured artist’s life.

“The Shining”

by Stephen King

Want to know the perfect foil for Clark Griswald? Jack Torrence. Honestly, though, I’m pretty sure I’d go crazy cut off from the world in an abandoned hotel with my family all winter.
We all know the Jack Nicholson face frozen in the snow at the end of the film adaptation. Lesson here? Pick a beach instead, and get at least eight hours of sleep every night.

“Peter Pan”

by J.M. Barrie

You can name a dog “Nana”, but that does not make it a nanny. If you can go off to the opera, you can afford to spring for a human babysitter. Although, in hindsight, with parents like that, the kids may have been better off in Neverland.
Parents, let your kids be kids. And knowing they are, supervise accordingly.

“Great Expectations”

by Charles Dickens

Between an abusive sister and an escaped convict, Pip never had a chance. But it was Miss Havisham that did him in. With dating advice like, “If she favors you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!”, it’s amazing Pip survived Estella at all.
Just because someone jilted Miss Havisham at the alter does not mean she has to take the world down with her. We all have those dark dating stories that bring on a touch of PTSD, but we also know better than to pass it on to our children.

“Lord of the Flies”

by William Golding

A plane full of kids from a boarding school crashes on a deserted island. Bonfires, tribes, and war ensue. We all know kids are wild. Never leave them unattended, or they will turn savage.
Always travel under adult supervision. Enough said.

“The Great Gatsby”

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Daisy Buchanan is a doozy. She might be the “green light” for Gatsby, but if she’s grooming her daughter to be “a beautiful little fool”, then she needs to gather up some self-respect and a serious reality check.
Girls have enough problems with self-esteem, and there are definitely enough fools in the world. Let’s teach our kids to have plenty of the former, and not to be the latter.

“Revolutionary Road”

by Richard Yates

Frank and April Wheeler are Mad Men’s Don and Betty Draper if they’d never made it to the big city. High ambition plus dead ends leave two adults acting like children, all while forgetting their own.
It’s a cautionary tale about mid-life crises set in the suburbs, and it proves self-centeredness doesn’t work in a family.

“King Lear”

by William Shakespeare

Ever the professional at family drama, Shakespeare hits it big with this one. A king is ready to retire. Time to parcel out the kingdom. What better way to take everyone down with you than to pose the question, who loves me most?
It will surely lead to poverty, madness, and bloodshed. This is sibling rivalry and bad parenting at its finest.

5 Ways Acting Like a Dad Will Make You a Rock Star Mom

At some point in our parenting journey, I stopped bitching at my husband to be more like me as a parent and started learning from him instead.

Admit it. You’re jealous. The jealousy runs deep, and you’ve often wondered what he’s got that you haven’t got. Is it the effortless and adventurous personality he exudes? Or maybe it’s his confidence. 
No, I’m not talking about the life-of-the-party guy or the popular co-worker, who always has a good story to tell. I’m talking about dads.
Dads march to the beat of their own drum. And I love it. But I didn’t fully understand it at first. Coming home to a chaotic shitstorm as my husband plays with the kids, seemingly unaware of the mess he’s made of the house or the 10 different ways this game of indoor tag could go wrong, used to set me off. And he would get an earful.
But at some point in our parenting journey, I stopped bitching at him to be more like me as a parent and started learning from him instead. As if an episode of National Geographic, I’ve watched dads from afar in their natural environment. And here’s what I have observed:  

Dads think best case scenario

When a kid asks to try something new, dads seem to be much better at saying yes. Moms tend to think about what could go wrong, whereas dads think about how things will go right.
As a new parent, my knee-jerk reaction was “No.” Maybe I wasn’t confident about how a situation would play out. Or maybe I wasn’t sure my kid’s skill level was up to the challenge. I’d ask myself, “Could this end up in tears (for the kid or me)?” I was asking the wrong question.
Dads expect a positive outcome and adjust if things go south. I find myself saying yes much more, and my anxiety about what-if scenarios has decreased immensely. As I test out this Dad approach, I find Im more at ease and can celebrate the experience instead of worrying about things that haven’t happened.

Dads go with the flow

Dads don’t plan the day in advance, scroll through Pinterest for kid activities, or check the weather ahead of time. They just make the best of what’s in front of them. They think on their toes and come up with imaginative, kid-led activities.
Their first instinct is to pull the mattress off the bed and use it as a wrestling mat. While I may lean towards a more planned out day, I no longer hyper-schedule every waking moment with organized activities. It’s fun to let the kids lead the way and enjoy their unlimited and wild imagination.

Dads have fashion freedom

Getting kids dressed equals a battle for Mom-me. One child refuses to stop playing, while the other has an opinion about every single article of clothing they may or may not put on for the day. It’s maddening.
When dad’s in charge, everything gets simplified. They either stay in their PJs all day or run around half naked. On occasion, I’ve come home to kids in bib overalls and Birthday suits. Not only has dad shaved off 30 minutes of his day, he avoided a battle, and the kids are happy.
Now that’s some Dadness I can get behind.

Dads see past the shit

I admire a dad’s ability to let shit go. When I ask my husband for a rundown of his day with the kids, he almost always says, “It went great.” No complaining, no negativity.
We all know he didn’t get through it without a meltdown or two. But he focuses on the fun parts and dismisses those shitty my-kid-is-an-asshole moments.
This skill is still a work in progress for me, but hey – baby steps.

Dads parent guilt-free

I don’t often hear dads second guessing their parenting decisions. They make the best choice in that moment and roll with it. That doesn’t mean they don’t learn from their mistakes. They just don’t stew on them or feel guilty about them. And they certainly don’t give a shit about what other parents might think about their decisions. 
Sure, maybe serving bread, and only bread, for dinner three nights in a row isn’t the best choice, but the kids are fed and a quick meal means more time to spend together. And yes, we can all agree that kids need a good night’s rest. But dads know that neither kids nor parents will remember the times the kids went to bed on time. What we will remember is that time we played flashlight tag in the dark until 10 p.m.
Do I wish my husband could keep the house from imploding in a matter of minutes? Sure. But I see the strengths he brings to the parenting table, and I’m determined to incorporate more of them in my day-to-day. I will say yes more and go with the flow, let go of anxiety and see the joy in the day instead of fixating on frustrations.
So the next time you feel overwhelmed, lost, or just need some parent inspiration, embrace your inner Dad and see what happens.

Welcome to Quinoa Acres – More Than a Preschool!

Thank you for your interest in enrolling your child at Quinoa Acres!

First things first: We don’t call ourselves a “preschool.” We’re not merely something you do before “real” school begins. We’re a play-based (and so much more – but we’ll get to that in a moment) learning center, where the children learn by experience. Therefore, we are the Quinoa Acres Experience Center.

Now, about our philosophy. We of course put the children first, always! They learn by playing, doing, experiencing. Not only are we play-based, we’re outdoors-based – in the cooler months we provide the children with outerwear that can withstand sub-zero temperatures. No need to worry, it’s not filled with goose down, it’s vegan and made with special fair-trade certified polymers. In addition to being play-based and outdoors-based, we are 100% organic, vegan, and gluten and nut free, of course.

Also, we use a special method similar to the Montessori method, but one that was piloted by our founder and really emphasizes freedom. To that end, there are no fences around the Quinoa Acres campus. The children are free to roam as far as they want, but we gently encourage them to make good choices in this regard. Some parents implant digital tracking devices in their children, but we don’t recommend this if your child has a metal allergy – please check with your pediatrician.

A word about holidays. First of all, we strive to celebrate ALL holidays – whether they are federal, state, local, or religious. We include all religions – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, etc. There are approximately 96 holidays in the Quinoa Acres calendar year, and we are closed for each holiday. However, we make a special effort to celebrate each holiday the day before or after.

We don’t serve unhealthy treats like cupcakes, chocolates, cakes, or candies. Instead, we provide the children with organic, artisanal, hand-sharpened pencils as treats. The children love it! We have all kinds of pencils, not just #2. We have a special source for #1 pencils that are made by indigenous peoples all over the world. We are, after all, global citizens, although we also support our local businesses whenever possible.

Plastic is not allowed at Quinoa Acres in any form. Do not send your child in with plastic bags, lunch boxes, or clothing/footwear that contains any plastic. There are no plastic toys allowed at the Quinoa Acres Experience Center. We encourage the children to play with wooden toys, or better yet, tree branches, or our large selection of organic pencils.

You are probably wondering about the qualifications of our Child Guides, which is what we call the adults who guide the children during their time at Quinoa Acres. They all have advanced degrees in early childhood education. In addition, they are required to take courses that emphasize our core beliefs. These include (non-dairy) yogurt making, yurt building, and Inner Wolf Consciousness Raising. We have a ratio of 48 Child Guides for every 2 children, although, again, the children are encouraged to make their own choices.

You may also be wondering about our tuition and our hours of operation. Tuition is $80,000 per child per year. We offer a two percent discount for each sibling! We’re open for three hours a day, and as noted above, closed for 96 holidays.

You are welcome to take a tour of Quinoa Acres during our hours of operation. Please remember to observe our bans on plastic, fur, feathers, leather, meat, dairy, nuts and gluten. In addition, we please ask you to avoid wearing the color yellow as one of the children has a special sensitivity to it.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and your consideration of Quinoa Acres.  

I Love You. Stop Touching Me.

While I love my kids endlessly, the incessant hanging, pawing, clawing, and touching has got to stop before I actually lose my mind.

I have two kids: a five-year-old and a seven-year-old. Their independence is burgeoning and I’m finally able to enjoy an uninterrupted glass of wine on the patio with a friend or my husband. My kids can get dressed on their own, play on their own, and get their own water, with encouragement. They are really growing up in some ways.

But what’s with this ever-loving need to hang on my arm, or my leg, or my waist, or my head all the fucking time?

With all of their independence, you would think that while I’m busting my ass in the kitchen to make them a deliciously nutritious dinner with a side of raw carrots or red peppers for the little fucker who won’t eat the vegetable du jour that everyone else is about to enjoy, I could complete this task without having to tell them a dozen times each to stop touching me.

I’m told that when they’re teenagers, I will long for the days where they will “need me” like this. I will long for hugs and squeezes and their desire to be attached to me ALL THE TIME. And I’m sure those experienced mothers are right. I probably will. But right now I just want 10 minutes, you know? Ten minutes where no one is touching me, or asking me for something, or looking at me. But especially touching me.

After I reread my words, I feel like a bad parent, and I feel compelled to justify how much I actually love my kids. So here I am saying it: I love my kids so much.

I love them so much that sometimes I feel like crying at the mere mention of my undying, unrelenting affection for them. I want them to have the most amazing lives. I won’t say that I hope their lives are free of struggle, because struggles enrich us all and I hope their varied life experiences allow them to gain immense insight into life’s ups and downs.

I want them to be rich, but not necessarily in a financial way, although that would be nice. I want them to be rich with friendships and love and experiences. I want them to live life to it’s fullest extent and to embrace the opportunities that are presented to them.

I do not want them to be whiney, clingy parasites that need the constant contact of another human to exist. Am I being dramatic? Maybe.

When they leave my home to move on to their next adventure, I’m sure I will cry like a million mothers before me. I will be sad for the moments that I “took for granted.” I will mourn lost moments and wish for one last hug, but right now… can they not use my body for a jungle gym? They are literally breaking my back. Literally. Get off me.

I kind of understand it when they’re hanging on me because I’m distracted, with my face buried in my phone. In that case, please help stop the lines of flux between my eyeballs and my phone screen. I obviously can’t control it and I need help. But when I’m already fixing them a snack? When I’m weeding the garden? When I’m folding the laundry? When I’m taking a dump? For the love of God, stop touching me.

Also, when I tell my kids to wash their hands, they often argue with me. I surely would not like those sweaty, sticky, dirt-under-the-fingernails, filthy mitts all over my body. And especially not on my face. Please refrain from touching my face. And head. I just took a shower this morning and I may not get another thorough cleansing for days, so I’d like to stay as clean as possible for as long as possible.

And they smell a little. Slightly like cheese, a little like poop, and some other funk I can’t identify. Remember that fresh baby smell? That one we’re all addicted to? At what age does Eau de Delicious Infant turn into Stank of Slimey School Girl?

I know I’m not alone here because almost every mother I’m friends with has tentatively suggested that they would be okay with their child going to bed at 4 p.m. just so they can spend an evening not being touched by their darling offspring. I’m here to say, that’s okay. You can say that out loud and I won’t judge, because I, too, need my space. I know you still love your kids, because I do, too. I love them like crazy, but if they could please stop touching me.

7 “Weird Al” Yankovic Songs That Are Secretly About Parenting

Turns out, over the years,”Weird Al” has written a song about almost every parental hardship imaginable.

I used to think “Weird Al” songs were just funny. But now that I’m a parent, many of my favorite lyrics speak to me on a deeper level. In fact, “Weird Al” seems to have written a song about almost every parental hardship, from the struggle to feed my kids a healthy meal to my total lack of a functional brain.

Maybe you can relate, too:

Eat It” (Parody of “Beat It” by Michael Jackson)

Sample Lyrics:

Don’t want to argue, I don’t want to debate
Don’t want to hear about what kind of food you hate
You won’t get no dessert ’till you clean off your plate
So eat it

Seriously kid! Just eat your dinner. It’s not poison, it’s chicken. JUST EAT IT.

I Can’t Watch This” (Parody of “U Can’t Touch This” by M.C Hammer)

Sample Lyrics:

My my my my TV makes me so bored
Makes me say, oh my lord
What is this garbage here?
Wanna cover my eyes and plug my ears
It sucks, and that’s no lie
It’s about as much fun as watching paint dry
Lowers my IQ one notch
And that’s the reason why, uh, I can’t watch

I’m begging you sweetie, please don’t make me sit through another episode of “Paw Patrol.” Or “Shimmer and Shine.” Or (shudder) “Caillou.” I can’t do it!

Everything You Know is Wrong” (Original song in the style of They Might Be Giants)

Sample Lyrics:

Everything you know is wrong
Black is white, up is down and short is long
And everything you thought was just so
Important doesn’t matter

Everything you know is wrong
Just forget the words and sing along
All you need to understand is
Everything you know is wrong

Before I was a parent I thought I knew a few things about logic. Now I spend 15 minutes apologizing to a furious four-year-old that all the rocket crackers are gone because he ate them. Everything I knew was wrong.

Gotta Boogie” (Original song)

Sample Lyrics:

Gotta boogie (gotta boogie)
Gotta boogie (gotta boogie)
Gotta boogie (gotta boogie)
Gotta boogie on my finger and I can’t shake it off

My kids are covered with boogers. Boogers drip out of their noses, cover their sleeves, and slime up their hair. So of course, their boogers are all over me. I’m covered in child snot and it’s never coming off. 

Girls Just Want to Have Lunch” (Parody of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cindy Lauper)

Sample Lyrics:

Some girls like to buy new shoes
And others like drivin’ trucks and wearing tattoos
There’s only one thing that they all like a bunch
Oh, girls, they want to have lunch
Oh, girls just want to have lunch

I have exactly five minutes to prepare, serve, and get the kids to eat a midday meal before they scream, worm out of their chairs, and take their pants off. You guys, I just want to eat lunch. And no, a handful of Cheerios from the floor doesn’t count.

Slime Creatures from Outer Space” (Original song)

Sample lyrics:

They got hands all covered with fungus
They got eyes like some kinda bug
I sure hope they don’t come in here
I just shampooed the rug

Run for your lives
(Slime creatures from outer space)
(Slime creatures from outer space)

Piles of dishes, mounds of laundry, toys everywhere, mud on the…is that poop??? Who pooped on the floor? It’s almost as if my kids were sent from a different planet with the sole mission of making our house mucky and disgusting. It’s an invasion!

Dare to Be Stupid” (Original song in the style of Devo)

Sample Lyrics:

Dare to be stupid (yes)
Why don’t you dare to be stupid
It’s so easy to do
Dare to be stupid
We’re all waiting for you
Dare to be stupid

Pregnancy brain is one thing, but parent brain? Oh, parent brain lasts forever. I forget simple words like “filing cabinet” and “toilet.” I enter rooms with a purpose and forget what it was. I call my children, dog, cat, husband and even myself by the wrong name daily. But I accept it. I am daring to be this unabashedly stupid.

And it’s all because I know at least “Weird Al” has my back.

The Struggle: Cravings Meet The Third Trimester Belly

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Oh, the struggle of that third trimester belly. So full, so round, so in the way. Trying to sleep? Ha! Baby’s ready to party. Trying to climb stairs? Cool. You’ll need a break halfway up. Trying to reach something up high – like that delicious chocolate bar you hid on the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet? Well, that’ll require some creativity. Good luck, mama. We believe in you. We support you.

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Lake Champlain Chocolates has partnered with Parent Co. to sponsor this post because they believe a happy, healthy pregnancy is an important ingredient for every family – whether it’s your first, or your fourth!

lake champlain chocolates

When a Trip to the Pediatrician’s Office Makes You Feel Bad

There’s plenty of opportunity to feel under the microscope as a parent. But the doctor’s office may be the most uncomfortable.

It’s going to be easier, right? I try to convince myself of this as Nemo darts by a cave in the fish tank. Even though we are seated in the non-sick section of the waiting area, I feel germs crawling all over me.

My twins’ well visit has always been challenging. As babies, they cried the entire time. As toddlers, they sprinted in opposite directions while I attempted to corral them back into the office. As school aged children they still dashed out of the room but their longer legs enabled them to outrun me. Now that they’re older and capable of following directions (most of the time), I’m really hoping for a more mundane experience.

Thirty minutes tick by. My positive outlook diminishes.    

“I’m bored.”

“So am I.”

“When are we going home?”

“Yeah, I wanna leave.”

Before I can conjure up a reply, the nurse calls their names and leads us to a 10×12 windowless room. At least they can’t escape this space.

“Now remember, today you have a new doctor,” I state sternly.

“I don’t want another doctor.”

“I wanna go home.”

“Are we getting shots?”

My son eyes the door, definitely constucting an escape plan. He is infamous for exiting unexpectedly when the nurse with the needle enters the room.

We hear a knock on the door.  I feel like saying, “Finally,” but instead I answer, “Come in.”

The doctor’s questions begin routinely, but then take an uneasy turn towards my parenting techniques (or lack thereof). He vigorously records his observations. 

“Do they play video games?”

“Yes, Minecraft.”

“Do you know they kill each other in that game?” asks the doctor.

“Yeah, but there isn’t any blood,” my son interjects.

We soon become well-versed in the evils of Minecraft. That 30-minute wait is starting to make sense.

“Do they watch TV?”

“Not really.” Because they’re too busy playing video games to have time to watch TV.

“Do they watch TV before bedtime?” 

“No. We read books.”

“We watch TV,” my daughter objects. Great, now the doctor thinks I’m lying and letting them watch TV. The doctor glances at all of us and then probably scribbles, “Mother allows violent video games, TV before bed, and is unaware of the dangers of both; felt the need to lie, schedule follow up.”

“Do they eat all meals at the kitchen table?”

As my daughter would say, “I got this.” I’m fanatical about eating only in the kitchen since I despise cleaning crumbs from the couch. But I’m guessing he’s asking due to some “health” benefit from eating at a table instead of an ottoman.

“Yes,” I respond cautiously, staring at my children.

“She won’t let us eat in the family room,” my daughter offers with a tattling tone, without realizing she is finally making me sound like a competent parent.

“Do they eat green vegetables?”

“They like corn.”

“I don’t eat corn,” my son protests.

Fortunately, the doctor focuses on my inability to answer his question instead of my erroneous response.

“No, green vegetables. Do they eat green vegetables?”

“Not really.” They aren’t even offered green vegetables since I gave up trying to get them to eat green vegetables years ago.

The questions end and he begins the actual physical examination. Being a stickler for taking showers and general cleanliness, I relax a little bit thinking it will all be over soon. This state of being is interrupted when I notice that the doctor is scrutinizing my daughter’s lower appendage. My pulse quickens when he bends closer to study it, clearly concerned about something. Then things take a turn for the worse.

“Can you take a look at this?” the doctor asks.

I almost utter, “Gross!” There’s a horrible, angry rash all over my daughter’s leg.

“It looks infected. I am going to prescribe an antibiotic.”

He furiously transcribes for at least five minutes without looking at us. I can only imagine what is going on over there. By the time he’s done with this “well visit” he will have an entire book written, possibly a best seller. I’m guessing his note states something along the lines of, “Mother doesn’t understand yellow corn is not a green vegetable and she is oblivious about proper bathing procedures. Recommend parenting classes, stat.”

In the next room a baby is crying, most likely getting shots, and I can’t help but feel envious.

10 Times My Parenting Channels The Griswold’s

Forget other seasoned parents, facebook groups, or playdates. I get my parenting wisdom from these genius National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation quotes.

Parents look for wisdom from other parents who’ve been Already through the parenting trenches. Some Seek insight from playdates or Facebook groups, and some of us get ours from movies. I generally rely on the many nuggets of truth found in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

I’m nothing if not Clark Griswold, requesting a drumroll as I hold electrical cords and try to create awesome memories for my kids. Sometimes I hit a home run, sometimes I fall flat. But I always keep trying.

Here are 10 “National Lampoon Christmas Vacation” quotes that get me through:

“The shitter was full!”

This is not one I utter very loudly. Usually. But it rings loud and true every time one of my three kids plow through the bathroom door while another family member is on the toilet.

As they stumble around with their pants at their ankles to find another bathroom in the house, I quietly whisper to myself those perfect words of explanation. And if I get shade from an onlooker when they see my kid peeing on a tree, or in the Costco parking lot, I embody the same blissful ignorance as Cousin Eddie. “The shitter was full!”

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“Fixed the newel post!”

Whenever I tape or glue a toy back together, I feel a sense of accomplishment. My kids return to play and I don’t need to hear them ask me to buy something new.

But after gluing a truck’s tire on for the 19th time, and realizing that a 20th time is not in the cards, I feel the same sense of pride and relief as a chainsaw wielding Clark as I throw the three wheeled beater in the trash and shout, “Fixed the newel post!”

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“Clark, Audrey’s frozen from the waist down.”

My kids are really good at complaining. They complain when they’re mad, sad, and even happy. They’ve been known to complain when there’s nothing to complain about. I’ve tried reasoning, teaching gratitude, and ignoring them.

But sometimes, the only thing that tunes out their tiny grumbles is looking at my partner and saying, “Clark, Audrey’s frozen from the waist down.” And if we’re in sync, she’ll remind me that it’s all part of the experience.

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“If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.”

My kids’ motivation comes from a place of innocence and a desire to please (most of the time), but I cringe inside when they say, “Mama! Close your eyes, I want to show you something!”

For starters, they want me to close my eyes immediately, even if it means dragging me from the first floor living room to their second floor bedroom. Bumping my way up the stairs with my eyes closed is made worse by the scenarios floating in my mind.

From a bedroom cleaned with the dog’s hairbrush, to every book and toy removed from their shelves to make a fort resembling the makings of a shantytown, I dread the possibilities. So when they grin at me with hopeful longing and ask if I am surprised, I don’t want to burst their bubble. I say this instead:

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“It’s good. It’s good.”

From that first sip of morning coffee to the last drop of evening beer, parenting has made me appreciate the finest liquids in life.

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“Let’s burn some dust here. Eat my rubber.”

My partner and I have always had our best fights in the car. Add the stress of three kids all needing different things at very inconvenient times and you have the perfect recipe for divorce.

Thankfully, we’ve found ways to combat road trip drama with our kids thanks to a little humor from Clark Griswold. Don’t take it personally if a blue minivan passes you on the highway, or zips by you to get a parking spot near the front of a rest stop, restaurant, or liquor store. I just need to reach my destination before the sound of my children creates irreparable damage to my nervous system.

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“Save the neck for me, Clark.”

Every time I cook a turkey or chicken, my partner leans over my shoulder and whispers this gem. It’s an inside joke shared between us and the millions of other people in love with “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” but one not understood by our children.

It’s a reminder that before we were parents, we were people with time to watch movies and energy to memorize their lines. It’s a reminder that our humor is still intact, and even if our poultry goes up in a ball of smoke, we will still have each other.

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“Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?”

Yeah. As parents we lose it from time to time.

But give yourself a break if a long day of whiny and demanding children who have only eaten strawberries dipped in ketchup pushes you to the edge of sanity. It’s natural. And it only makes sense to nurse that headache with some old fashioned, over-the-counter drugs.

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“Bend over and I’ll show ya.”

This one I mutter only to myself. But when one of my kids is walking toward me with an armful of their 93 favorite possessions, crying that they don’t know where to put them before they all fall to the ground, my mind always goes to this scene in Christmas Vacation.

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“It’s a beaut, Clark! It’s a beaut!”

Parenting is no joke. It’s hard. But along the way, there are so many beautiful moments. The garage is finally clean. The homemade birthday cake is frosted. The laundry is folded and put away. The kids are snuggled next to me and my partner for family movie night. We look at each other and say this.