Perfectly Reasonable — or Daddy’s Double Standard?

So then…my husband David suggests that we try to eat dinner around 5:30 pm every day, otherwise our kids (age 3 & 5) tend to get a little hanky (hungry-cranky).

Good idea. So we follow that schedule.

Cut to three weeks later:

I let David know that I need to work late this evening. No problem, he says.

I come home at 7:30 pm to a completely clean kitchen.

Awesome! He must have fed the kids, then cleaned up afterwa—

Wait a minute.

I enter the family room where the kids and he are watching TV.

I greet everyone – hugs, kisses – and inquire about their days.

Then, when the kids are out of earshot…

Me:  Did you feed the kids?

Him: Oh. Nah. (shrugs) They didn’t seem hungry.

Me:  They said they weren’t hungry?

Him: I didn’t ask them. They just didn’t seem hungry.

Me:  They didn’t SEEM hungry? You mean they weren’t writhing on the floor, clutching their bellies, begging for sustenance? They didn’t faint of malnutrition right in front of you? They didn’t collapse in front of the refrigerator with their tiny little fingers clawing at the door? OK, let’s just not feed them until they SEEM hungry. That sounds like a splendid plan!

He grins at my melodramatic contortions, but still attempts a lame, “Well, it’s OK to miss a meal once in awhile…”

Uh-huh. Hmmm. How interesting that the “once in awhile” happens to coincide with the one night I’m working late and he’s in charge of feeding them.

So if I’m around, dinner should be at 5:30 – but when he’s at the helm, dinner should be when the tykes send him an engraved invitation?

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great Dad – and usually pretty helpful with the kids – but this time, it’s a bit of a double standard, right?

Or do I just need to train my kids to pound their silverware on the table and chant “FOOD, FOOD, FOOD!” like li’l prison convicts when they’re hungry?
Hmm, seems like a Daddy Double Standard if you ask ME -- but YOU decide! #funny @SoThenStories.com
— Darcy Perdu

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(Any double standards at YOUR house with YOUR spouse? Lay it on us!)

When Your Own MOM is Tougher than the COPS!

When Your Own MOM is Tougher than the COPS!  Would you do this to your kid?  #funny SoThenStories.com

So then…I finish my shift and drive home. Yeah, that’s right – I’ve got a job – and I’m only a TEENAGER. Yep. (trying to act casual, but super stoked!)

(I’d been so nervous during my interview at Grandell’s Amusement Park, but honestly – how could they resist my professional interview outfit: pastel teal polyester pants with a striped collared shirt – and get this, one of the stripes was the exact same shade as the pastel teal pants! No, seriously. I like to think it’s that kind of meticulous attention to detail that impressed them to hire me immediately.)

All summer, my teen coworkers toil outside in the broiling Louisiana sun, running the carnival games and operating the rides.

But I serve chili-cheese-dogs in an old-timey train caboose – the ONLY air-conditioned spot in the entire amusement park!

The teen boys who work here are always hanging around my caboose – (the TRAIN caboose – git yer mind outta the gutter!) – and I’m fairly certain their constant presence is a testament to my charming personality – OR the air-conditioning. Whatevs. Potato Po-tah-to.

Anyway, I’m happily singing along to my car radio as I turn the corner and pull up outside my house. I park on the street, wave to my Dad in the backyard, then stroll up the sidewalk to our front door.

I’m halfway there when I hear a man’s voice behind me say, “Excuse me.”

Someone must need directions. I turn around, saying, “Yes, can I help y—”

There is a cop. Standing in front of his cop car.

This cop needs directions from me? That’s weird. It’s usually the other way around.

“Do you know why I’m here?” he asks.

Oh dear, this cop is having a really bad day. He doesn’t know where he is or what he’s doing.

“No,” I say gently, wondering how I can contact his sergeant to return him safely to the precinct.

“I’m here because you blew through two stop signs right in front of me.”

Oh.

Oh, I see.

Suddenly the whole picture becomes painfully clear to me.

“Well, I’m not sure I’d say “blew” through them, maybe I “stop-rolled” through them?”

His expression indicates he’s not interested in parsing semantics with me.

“I can’t believe you ran a second stop sign right in front of me while I was following you for the first one. Didn’t you see me in your rear-view mirror?” he asks, pulling out his ticket book.

I furrow my brow. Does he mean the make-up mirror? That thing in the middle of the windshield I use to apply thick coats of Maybelline mascara?

“Well, why didn’t you have your sirens on?” I ask. “I would’ve noticed you then.”

He looks flummoxed, like he can’t believe I’m trying to turn this around on him being at fault.

Just then my mom comes tearing out of the front door.

“Oh my God, Darcy! What have you done now?”

(What have I done “now?” Good God, she makes it sound like I’m a regular juvenile delinquent!)

I say ruefully, “Narcotics again, Mom.”

Mom is NOT amused.

“DARCY! Don’t you dare joke about this, young lady!”

She turns to the cop and says, “What did she do?”

He says, “She failed to come to a complete stop so I – wait, is that you, Meredith? It’s me, Tommy – Tommy Renaldi.”

She takes a couple steps closer and recognizes the young cop. Mom works as Deputy Clerk of Court so she knows most of the cops who come in and out of the courthouse.

“Oh, hey Tommy. I mean, Officer Renaldi,” she says quickly, trying to highlight his authority for my sake.

“Meredith, I didn’t know this was your daughter.” He closes his ticket book. “No need for a citation. I’ll just let it go with a warn—”

“No!” she says vehemently. “No daughter of mine’s getting a free pass just because I work at the courthouse! She commits a crime, she pays the consequences! You throw the book at her!”

“Aww, Mommmm,” I say plaintively.

“Aww, Mommmm,” the cop echoes in solidarity. He grins at her optimistically.

She shoots us both a look that smacks the smiles right off our faces and the hope out of our hearts.

She points a finger at me and says, “When you’re finished here, come inside for a ‘talk.’”

And with that, she spins on her heel and strides back into the house.

The cop looks at me with sympathy – and a fearful shudder.

“Oh, man,” he says, “That’s gonna be some talk.” He writes in his book. “Here, I’m just gonna cite you for the one stop sign – so at least it’s $50 instead of $100.”

I’m appreciative – but dammit, do you know how many chili-cheese-dogs I gotta sell to clear $50 bucks?

I mumble “thank you” as I mournfully take the ticket.

As I trudge back up the sidewalk to my front door, I can only imagine him thinking, “Dead Man Walking…”

Note 1 – MY MOM:
First, I need to tell you that my Mom is actually one of the warmest, funniest, most compassionate people you’ll ever meet. Quick to offer a lending hand, a sympathetic ear, a strong shoulder to lean on – she is literally my role model for motherhood! But damnation, if you try to slide something by that woman — and she thinks you need to learn your lesson – well, by God, you.will.learn.that.lesson! Another reason she’s a great Mom!

Note 2 – MY DAD:
Second, I find it absolutely hilarious that my Dad simply waved at me from the backyard. I mean, his teenage daughter pulls up, followed by a cop car, but he just waves and goes about his business! To be fair, he was working on the “Yellow Cracker Box.” This was our affectionate name for the bizarre box-shaped yellow rehabilitation vehicle he bought used, then retrofitted it to include a table, bathroom, and pull-out beds so our family of 7 could go on camping trips and road trips all across the South. He was quite fond of that Yellow Cracker Box, so he may have been distracted by whatever he was tinkering with or fixing.

I like to think he just assumed, “Oh, that Darcy’s a clever one – if the cops are after her, I’m sure she’ll figure a way out of it.” Of course, more than likely, he probably just figured my Mom’s “Spidey Sense” would alert her that one of the 5 kids was in legal trouble – and that she’d rush to ensure the kid was prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Note 3 – MY NEXT COP:
Fortunately my next summer job provided me with a hilarious way to get out of speeding tickets as this true tale will attest: Funniest Way to Get Out of a Ticket. 

Note 4 – MY NEXT CRIME:
Recently my Book Club read The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (great book BTW) about a wife’s dilemma when she learns her loving husband of about 15 years and terrific father to her kids actually secretly killed a girl when he was a teen. Should she turn him in or not?

When I asked my Book Club friends if they’d turn in their husbands in a similar situation, most said they’d keep the secret! But you can clearly see that if I pulled something like that, my MOM would not only CALL THE COPS on me — she’d swab my DNA, track down the buried body, and gather all the damning evidence into a compelling PowerPoint for the judge and jury!

Note to self: do NOT invite Mom to help dispose of any bodies. My Dad, on the other hand, would’ve pulled up in the Yellow Cracker Box, tossed the body inside, and headed to the desert with a shovel. Which kind of parent are YOU?

— Darcy Perdu

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(How would your parents react if you showed up at your house with the cops? What would you do if it were YOUR teen – let the cop issue a warning – or insist on a ticket? Any funny cop stories?)

I Do NOT Want My Nipples There, Please

Oh - the sunglasses on my boobs?  Yeah - I can explain...  #funny  #kids #parenting #games #questions #crockpot #humor

So then…I’m standing there, minding my own business, slaving over an impressive gourmet dinner (aka checking the crockpot) – when my tween daughter Chloe enters and asks, “Would you rather have eyes for nipples – or nipples for eyes?”

Silence.

I look up from the crockpot, spoon in hand – furrow on brow.

“What?”

She sighs impatiently as if this is a matter of great urgency.

“MOM! Would you rather have EYES FOR NIPPLES – or NIPPLES FOR EYES?”

Omigod. Is this a decision I have to make right now? Is this a real thing?

My eyes dart around the kitchen. What does she know that I don’t know?

Is some grand master wizard — or satanic demon — or demented plastic surgeon about to burst in here and make me CHOOSE?

And really — what a dreadful choice!

How could people look me in the face if my nipples are where my eyes should be? I’d have to wear a face bra!

And if my nipples were eyes? Well, based on my low-hangin’ swingin’ bosoms, my eyes would be somewhere around belt-level. That would really limit my vision.

And how awkward when I’m talking to people. It would flip that whole “Hey buddy, my eyes are up here” upside down. “Yo dude, my eyes are DOWN here.”

And I wouldn’t be able to SEE anything if my tatas were covered, so I’d have to go topless everywhere – totally creeping everyone out with my eyeball on each boobie.

And I wear GLASSES to drive, for God’s sake! How will I strap the glasses to my boob eyes? I won’t even be able to see out the windshield anyway — since my boob eyes will be resting in my lap!

Really this whole switch thing is stressing me out.

“MOM! Answer the question!” she says.

“Why, Chloe? Why must I decide? Those are both appalling options!” I say.

“It’s a game!” she says. “It’s called Wouldja Rather. My friends and I play it all the time. Like ‘Wouldja rather have 3 toes on each foot and have to wear sandals everyday – or wouldja rather have only one giant nostril?”

I make the I-just-smelled-bad-cheese face.

“Or,” she continues, “a famous You-Tuber likes to ask ‘Wouldja rather change genders each time you sneeze – or not be able to tell the difference between a baby and a muffin?’”

OK, first of all – there are famous You-Tubers?

Second of all, changing genders each time I sneeze could get real awkward real fast.

What if I’m breastfeeding at the time? Or competing in a Miss America pageant? (Stop laughing. I could so compete in a Miss America pageant.)

And with my allergic multiple sneeze attacks — God forbid my sexual partner brings flowers into the boudoir – he-ey! It’s about to get ALL crazy up in here! I’m a chick! I’m a dude! I’m a chick again! Nope, a dude! Hell-o!

Third of all, who comes UP with such a bizarre notion that someone couldn’t tell the difference between a baby and a muffin? And I DO love me some muffins. If that’s the case, though — I tell you what, if someone sprinkles blueberries on that kid, he’s a goner.

“Chloe,” I say, “These choices are—”

“Oh!” she says, “Or how about THIS one? Wouldja rather slide into an erupting volcano — or jump blindfolded into a tank of sharks?’”

I put the spoon down and fold my arms. “Neither! Neither, Chloe! I do not want to do ANY of those things! I am anxious just THINKING about those things!”

She laughs and says, “Mom! It’s just a game! It’s fun to see what people choose and the reasons why. My friends and I debate the pros and cons. It’s fun!”

Honestly, what is wrong with these kids? Why can’t they just hot-wire cars and knock over liquor stores like normal teens?

“Chloe, why are all these choices so dire?”  I put on a cheerful voice and ask:  “Why not ‘Wouldja rather win a brand new beach house – or find a million dollars in your sweater pocket?’”

She rolls her eyes. “Oh Mom!” She picks up her books and goes into the living room.

I follow her, waving my spoon. “Or how about ‘Wouldja rather vacation in Paris — or Rome?’”

“Mo-om! You don’t get it!”

“Or ‘Wouldja rather dance with George Clooney — or bake cookies with Ryan Gosling?’”

She huffs, but starts grinning. “Stop, Mom! Just stop.”

I return to the crockpot, glad I’ve made my point.

But tonight, I’m CERTAIN I’ll have nightmares of sharks chasing me into volcanoes, while I hyperventilate through my one nostril — with my eyeball-boobies flapping in all directions!

— Darcy Perdu

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(OK, what choices would YOU make in the above “Wouldja Rather” options? And do your kids play this wackadoodle game?)

Is This a Playdate Fail by Dad — or Perfectly Reasonable Behavior?

Did this Dad Make a Playdate Faux Pas? Is this a funny blunder or WHAT?  #humor #playdate #dad #baby #embarrassing #funny #kids

So then…I plop on the hotel bed, moving my files over so I can chat with my 9-year-old daughter Chloe back home.

Me: I’m so happy I’m almost done with my business trip! How was your day, honey?

Chloe: Great! After school, I went for a playdate at Maggie’s house!

I furrow my brow. That can’t be right.

Me: You mean Layla’s house?

Chloe: No, Maggie’s house.

Me: You mean Ashley’s house?

Chloe: No, MAGGIE’S house!

Me: You don’t mean the Maggie whose mom just had a BABY?

Chloe: Yes! Today was the first day they brought the baby home and I got to meet her!

Me: You had a playdate at Maggie’s house the SAME DAY HER MOM BROUGHT HOME HER BRAND NEW BABY?

Chloe: Yes! It was great! The baby’s so cute! I got to stay for dinner!

She prattles on and on about the baby –

and of course I make all the appropriate responses to share in her glee.

But the whole time I’m thinking: What the HELL?

When we finish, she puts her dad on the phone.

“Um…did you know you accidentally let Chloe have a playdate at Maggie’s house the same day her mom brought home the new baby?I ask, trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“Oh, that was no accident,” he says proudly. “Chloe asked if she could go see Maggie’s new sister, so I dropped her right off!”

“Did Maggie’s parents know about it first?” I ask.

“I dunno,” he says. 

“David! Don’t you think the last thing a sleep-deprived, just-endured-childbirth mom wants to see at her house on her first day home is someone else’s kid?”

“Oh come on,” he says. “It’s her 4th baby. She probably didn’t even notice our kid was there.”

Oh my God.

David’s a terrific dad, but sometimes I wonder if he understands basic social graces.

When someone has a new baby, you drop off a casserole.

Or a gift.

NOT your kid.

And CERTAINLY not for dinner!

To be fair, David’s the type who wouldn’t mind at all if the roles were reversed. If HE popped out a baby, he’d probably invite the whole neighborhood over as soon as we pulled in the driveway so he could proudly display his creation: “Tap a keg, grill some burgers, look what I just pushed out of my hoo-ha!” (or he-ha, as the case may be)

He was raised in a free-range neighborhood where kids constantly meandered in and out of each other’s homes, mooching meals whenever they were hungry, and everyone was cool with it.

I was taught that you don’t even call someone’s house before 10 am or after 8 pm – and never during dinner time – MUCH LESS just SHOW UP at their house!

Consequently David’s fine with anyone coming over anytime no matter what’s happening at our house. It’s practically like this:

“We’re having construction done at the house today – but come on over!”
“Sure, the kids all have the flu — but that’s ok — pop on by!”
“Don’t mind the termite fumigation tent – we’ll just barbecue in the backyard!”

OK, maybe not quite that extreme, but you get the picture.

And as moms go, Maggie’s mom is very chill.

When my kids take a tumble and bleed – I rush to console them, disinfect the entire limb, bandage it carefully, and mollycoddle the child endlessly, while surreptitiously checking WebMD on my phone to insure no signs of sepsis.

When her kids report scrapes and cuts, Maggie’s mom just says, “You know where the band-aids are.”

And damn, if her kids aren’t much more resilient and independent than mine!

(I’ll be bandaging my kids’ paper cuts when they’re 45 and still living in my basement.)

Maybe it’s the large quantity of kids that makes these moms so chill?

As soon as I return to town, I drop off a beautiful gift, coo over the darling new baby, and make apologies for the awkward timing of the surprise playdate.

Maggie’s mom just smiles and shrugs – no big deal. The new baby in her arms starts to fuss, so she shoots her a look, like “Hey, you know where the boobies are.”

— Darcy Perdu

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(Who’s more observant of social graces – you or your spouse? Any funny examples? Am I crazy to think HE’S crazy for letting her have a playdate on Bring-Home-the-Baby Day?)

Who’s Calling the Shots Here – the Parents or the Kids?

Funny - Who's Calling the ShotsSo then… my friends start passing their homemade dishes to the dozen of us guests assembled around their Thanksgiving dinner table. When I turn to the 2-and-a-half-year-old seated on my right and offer him the turkey platter, his mom, another guest, abruptly pushes the tray away and announces authoritatively, “Oh, no, no – he’s vegetarian.”

So we all look at this little kid who can barely string a coherent sentence together — and someone asks sincerely, “How does he know?”

The kid’s mom bristles a bit and says dismissively, “Oh, he knows. He’s always been a vegetarian.”

The kid’s dad says a little pompously, “Yeah, he won’t eat any meat. At all.

Now everyone at the table is pretty damn sure that the parents have made this decision FOR the kid, which is perfectly fine, of course — but we all find it odd that they’re using tones of voice and shades of phrasing that seem to imply that the kid came to this conclusion on his own. As a toddler.

I mean, it’s not like this tyke can drive himself to the grocery store and slap his credit card on the deli meat counter on his own, right? So it’s probably safe to say he’s following his parents’ lead, but they’re acting kinda funny about it. They don’t say “we’re vegetarian” or “we’re raising him vegetarian” – they seem intent on letting us know he’s chosen to be vegetarian.

Someone says, “Soooo…was he like at a birthday party or something and just repelled by the hot dogs and pepperoni pizza? Like the look or smell of meat just disgusts him?”

Another guest asks, “Or is it more like his philosophical statement against animal cruelty?”

(The kid is dunking his corn cob in his juice. He doesn’t look like he’s ever had a “philosophical” anything.)

The parents launch into a passionate dissertation on the vagaries of meat-eating – and while I respect their opinion, of course – it was a little disconcerting to hear all the gory details while the rest of us are chomping down on turkey legs and honey-baked ham.

(It’s totally fine to be a vegetarian, of course – I myself was a vegetarian for a few years until my ob/gyn told me I was anemic while pregnant and encouraged me to start.eating.massive.protein.now. So I promptly went out and ate a cow.)

I’ve not met this couple before, but from the look of their little lad, I find it likely that he had as much participation in the vegetarian decision as he did in today’s wardrobe choice of a bright orange cable-knit sweater and matching corduroy pants. He looks adorable, of course, but clearly his parents are calling the shots and simply attributing the decisions to him.

I tune out their carnivore-bashing and I IMAGINE them having conversations like this with future party hosts:

Party Host:         Would your toddler like a hamburger?
Mom:                  No, he’s vegetarian.
Party Host:         Really?
Dad:                   Oh, yeah, totally.
Mom:                  He’s also a Republican.

Party Host leans over to peer at 2-and-a-half-year-old kid, looking for signs of conservatism.

Party Host:         Really?
Dad:                   Oh yes, he believes strongly in the Republican
                           ideals. (smiles proudly)
Mom:                  (pats kid’s head and chuckles) That’s right! Don’t 
                           get this little guy started on the liberal media!

Little guy chews on Hot Wheels car and blows a snot bubble.

Dad:                   He’s Presbyterian, of course.
Mom:                 (smiling) Of course!
Party Host:        Oh, OK.
Dad:                  And he’s a Capricorn.
Mom:                 He was born a Scorpio — but he’s so not a Scorpio!
                          (turns to husband and laughs conspiratorially)
Dad:                  Omigod – so not a Scorpio! (laughs)
Mom:                 Yeah (shaking her head indulgently), so he’s a
                         Capricorn now.
Party Host:        Um, OK. (glancing around, looking for exit strategy)
Dad:                  He’s also a Marxist.
Party Host:        He is?
Mom:                 Oh definitely. You wouldn’t think so, because of the
                          Republican thing, but he’s able to reconcile both
                          philosophies. Our little Marxist.

They gaze at son admiringly.
Son drags saliva-covered Hot Wheels car through the dirt, then combs hair with it.

Party Host:        He seems uh…delightful. I should probably be go—
Mom:                 He’s also African-American.
Party Host:        Huh? (squints at white toddler with blond hair)
Dad:                  Oh, yes. He was born Caucasian but he really
                          identifies with the souls of African tribal leaders.
Mom:                 (nodding) Very much so.
Party Host:        OK, so your son – your toddler son – is a Vegetarian
Republican Presbyterian Capricorn Marxist African Tribal Leader?

Dad:                  Yep. (nods proudly)
Mom:                 (sighs happily) He’s completed an incredible journey
                          of self-discovery.
Party Host:        At two?
Dad:                  (modestly) Well, two and a half. (chiding) I mean,
                          come on, what kid really knows himself at only two?

Mom and Dad exchange a look like “Jeez, what a character this person is!”

Party Host backs away slowly. Toddler follows — hopping, while slamming Hot Wheels car on his forehead, making high-pitched “vroom vroom” noises.

Parents beam.

Of course, I only IMAGINE this scenario, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this particular couple mapped out their kid’s whole identity for him.

Imagine if that actually worked! That would be awesome! I’d tell my kids: “You are Carnivorous Catholic Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Gifted Musician Millionaires with a passion for Elder Care of Immediate Family Members.”

— Darcy Perdu

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(Have you met any parents who attribute specific likes/dislikes to kids who didn’t seem like they had much say in the matter? We all influence our kids to a certain extent, of course, but have you seen someone go overboard? At the local park, a woman introduced her 11-month old as Sara to us, but she called the child “Piggy” the entire day! Like, “Come here, Piggy. Catch the ball, Piggy.” Both she and the child were on the heavy side. When another parent, thinking she must not be hearing correctly, asked her, “Excuse me, are you calling your daughter ‘Piggy?’” – the mom beamed and said, “Yeah, she loves it!” And I’m thinking: She’s 11 months old! She doesn’t know what you’re saying! You could be calling her “honey” or “poopy-face” and she’s still going to smile at you. But please, dear mother of God, stop using the nickname “Piggy” before this child enters pre-school and gets branded for life!)

Do you know some parents who say their child likes this or that, but you suspect it's the PARENT who's calling those shots and just ATTRIBUTING them to the kid?  #funny #parenting #vegetarian #kids  #humor

My Daughter, the Italian Truck Driver

My Daughter, the Italian Truck Driver P Clear
So then…I confirm I’m available for dinner with the other three Margarita Mamas a week from Tuesday, but I add a P.S. to the email, directed to one of the Moms who is known for meticulous and enthusiastic grooming for herself and her daughter.

I write:
Kate, I can’t believe I’m asking this question because my daughter is only 12 years old, but she has the big bushy eyebrows of an Italian truck driver. Where do you take your daughter for her eyebrow waxing/shaping — and once you start, do you have to go weekly to maintain it? If so, that’s too much money and I will just change Chloe’s name to Emilio the Hairy-Eyebrowed Truck Driver.

My Daughter, the Italian Truck Driver Movie Star                   (the eyebrows look a little something like this)

Mindy chimes in:
I know Kate has a place she likes, but you can also consider xxxxxx Salon. Going every 2 weeks should be fine – or teach her how to pluck! Poor Emilio…

Kate writes:
My daughter and I go to xxxxxx Salon. We go every two weeks and it’s about $20. You may not have to take her that often. Good luck!

I respond to all THREE Moms, jokingly:
Thanks, Kate & Mindy, for your referrals for eyebrow shaping. Sherry, where do you take Jack?

Sherry responds:
You’re hilarious! I was cracking up when I read the first e-mail. Jack wears his hair so long, I think he’s going for the “Cousin It” look. I’m not even sure if he has eyebrows…

I respond:
Love the Cousin It remark! I literally had to bribe Tucker to get a haircut and to shave his long sideburns and wispy hair that is growing along his jawbone. He wanted to “grow it in to see if it would become a beard.” The hair stylist and I told him it would take CENTURIES to grow those wisps into a beard — and it would just be a beard UNDER his chin, so he’d end up looking like one of the Appalachian hill people! Lord help us!

Sherry replies:
Ugh, boys and their hair. I thought my daughter would be way worse, but my son’s the difficult one. Yet, he still wants me to comb his hair every morning. I asked him if I’d be getting a key to his apartment when he moves out — or should I just move in next door, so I’d still be able to comb his hair in the morning. He just gave me “the look.” My daughter laughed. But him, not so much. As for Tucker, I would love to have seen him before the haircut and shave. What “style” station are they watching that they think it’s a good look for them? National Geographic – Neanderthal/Appalachian Style Network…?

I respond:
That’s hilarious about you possibly having to live next door to your adult son so you can comb his hair each morning! As for Tucker, when his hair grows – it grows OUT – not DOWN — so he looks like he has a poofy big-hair coiffure like a 1960’s librarian. I was so relieved he consented to cut it short!

My Daughter, the Italian Truck Driver Librarian                                   1960’s Librarian Hairstyle

Click here to see photos of overgrown eyebrows of Chloe (aka Emilio the Truck Driver)
Click here to see Tucker’s 1960’s librarian hairstyle and Appalachian wispy under-chin beard

(NOTE: If photo links do not work, it’s possible my children have disabled my linking capabilities and hidden all photos of themselves, lest they be publicly humiliated.)

— Darcy Perdu

(Any fun follicle follies to share about YOUR kids? Anybody who shuns haircuts, eyebrow waxing, and beard shaving to live a more hirsute lifestyle? With our Italian-Irish heritage, our family’s soooo lucky that our dark bushy hair really POPS on our pale alabaster skin! I practically have to shave my legs HOURLY! Share your hair tales in the Comments Section!)

My Daughter, the Italian Truck Driver P

Wouldja Like to Meet My Insomniac Atheist Bisexual Vampire Son?

Influence Insomnia by Erika LeBarre
So then…he takes a bite of a fresh-baked cookie and says with a sigh, “I’m probably so tired today because I’m an insomniac.”

He’s 11.

I stop scooping dough onto the cookie sheet and look at him with furrowed brow.

“You’re an insomniac? When did that happen?” I ask.

He plops on the kitchen chair and says in a world-weary voice, “Oh, I’ve been an insomniac for years.”

Again, he’s 11.

“Really, Tucker? Because I check on you kids every night before I go to bed – and whenever I go into your room – you’re dead asleep. Even at midnight or 1 or 2 in the morning.”

“Oh, I’m awake when you check on me,” he assures me.

“You’re eyes are closed and you’re snoring.

“So? I can snore when I’m awake. Listen – shjrooor shjrooor.”

“Tucker,” I say. “You are not an insomniac! You sleep fine. What makes you think you are?”

“Well, I was talking to this kid in band class and he was telling me that he has insomnia because he can’t sleep at night and I realized that I have that too.”

OK, I see.

Several months later…

So then…we’re saying Grace before dinner but Tucker doesn’t join in. I ask him, “What’s up?”

He says, “Oh, I don’t say Grace anymore because I’m an atheist.”

Influence Atheist
He calmly eats his corn. I seethe.

I want to say, “Really Tucker? You’re an atheist? Even though you had a Baptism and Reconciliation and First Holy Communion AND you go to Catholic school? We may not attend Mass on Sundays – and we may not be super religious — but this is a God-loving, Commandments-abiding, Bible-believing family for Christ’s sake, you insufferable little heathen!

But I realize that may not be the best speech to bring him back to the Lord.

So I casually ask when this new development occurred.

“There’s this girl in class who told us that she’s atheist and I realized I am too.”

OK, I see.

“So you think we’re all just here randomly? There’s no God or higher power?” I ask.

“Oh, I believe in God. I just don’t believe in religion,” he says.

“So maybe you’re agnostic?”

He scoops up the rest of his corn with his fork and thumb. “Yeah, OK.”

OK, at least I’ve upgraded him from atheist to agnostic for now. I’ll tackle religion next.

About a year later…

So then…he comes in the kitchen, puts his script on the table, sits down, and says, “I’m pretty sure that I’m bisexual.”

Um…OK.

Influence Bisexual
I keep cleaning the counters and ask, “Really? What makes you think that?”

“Well, you know the play this summer at acting class is Cabaret, right? Well, some of the characters are bisexual – and some of the teenagers in the cast were saying at lunch that they’re bisexual. And I realized that I am too.”

OK, I see.

I sit down with him. “Tucker, you know I’ll love you and accept you, no matter what — so if you’re bisexual, then you’re bisexual. But let’s talk about this for a minute. First of all, you haven’t had any sexual experiences yet, so let’s not be so quick to label yourself bisexual, mono-sexual, tri-sexual or multi-sexual, ok? Secondly, do you have romantic feelings for any boys?”

“Oh yeah, lots of boys.”

“Really, like who?” I ask.

“I can’t think of anyone right now,” he says in that same tone of voice he uses to say that he could hit a homerun if he wanted to, but he just doesn’t feel like it right now.

So I say, “Well, you’ve been pretty open about everyone you’ve ever had a crush on since kindergarten all the way until now — and it’s always been girls.”

So we have a long talk about peer pressure, fitting in with the crowd, making rash pronouncements about identity, etc. It’s a great talk, but I don’t push. I know that this new alleged identity trait will eventually go the same way as his other announcements.

BUT MEANWHILE, I’m thinking to myself, Good Lord, do I have THE most easily-influenced child in the world?

At the future frat party, when someone says, “Hey, who wants to down 4 Tequila shots, then ride this skateboard off the roof into that pool of hot coeds?” – will my son be the kid who thinks, “That sounds like a splendid idea!”?

Yes. Yes, he will.

I can’t believe he is so impressionable.

What’s next?

“I just watched a great episode of Psych – by the way, I’m psychic.”

“This German Chocolate Cake is delicious! Those Germans really know how to bake. I’m joining the Nazi Party!”

Influence Vampire Eric Allie
“I saw that Twilight movie. Great news, Mom, I am IMMORTAL. Also — can we have blood for dinner?”

Let’s hope not — but with my kid…I wouldn’t be surprised!

— Darcy Perdu

Insomnia Illustration by Erika LeBarre; Vampire Illustration by Eric Allie

(Please let me know I’m not the ONLY one with a highly impressionable child! Any examples to share from your kids – or from when YOU were a kid? Share them in the Comments Section!)

My Insomniac Atheist Bisexual Vampire Son P Small

Is Your Kid “Clever” or “Criminal?”

Is Your Kid Clever or Criminal?  It's a fine line, people - a FINE line! #funny @SoThenStories.com
So then…she says, “He’s a very bright boy.”

I beam.

She says, “And so creative!”

I glow.

“And I’m so impressed that he’s only 7 and he types his spelling homework! Everyone else just handwrites their words.”

Oh. Hmm. Now I have an ethical dilemma. I shift on the miniature chair in Tucker’s classroom and examine his Second Grade teacher.

Should I just graciously accept the compliment – or reveal the reason that Tucker types his spelling homework?

So far, the Parent-Teacher conference has been going very well. She’s very complimentary, focusing on his virtues – “bright, creative, funny.” We both know he can also be “fidgety, chatty, and tardy with homework,” but I can tell she’s the sort of teacher who likes to put a positive spin on things.

To ease my conscience, I say, “Well, about that. You know how you give them 12 spelling words a week to alphabetize? Then they’re supposed to write each word three times so they can learn how to spell the words?”

“Yes,” she nods encouragingly.

My chair makes a tiny squeak as I shift my weight. I need to tell her my 7-year-old has recently gained access to a laptop.

“Well, um, Tucker figured out how to type the words into an Excel spreadsheet. Then he copies and pastes them two more times in the column. Then he hits ‘Sort’ so the words are automatically sorted into alphabetical order. Then he copies the words into a Word document and submits it for his homework.”

As I speak, her cheerful smile wavers and slowly disappears.

“Oh.” She looks uncertain.

I look contrite, awaiting judgment.

She concentrates. I can tell she’s trying to decide whether or not this constitutes an “unauthorized shortcut” (i.e. cheating) – or if this demonstrates Tucker’s “clever resourcefulness with technology.”

After a pause, she takes the high road. Smiling brightly, she says, “Well, at least he’s learning to spell the words as he types them in, so that’s the point of the task!”

I look down. “Well, um, he does hit ‘Spell Check’ before he prints the sheet.”

“Oh.”

Awkward pause.

“Yeah,” I say to fill the silence.

A moment passes.

She sighs, then girds herself up for the final spin. “Well, he is certainly handy with a computer, isn’t he? What a bright, creative boy!”

I smile gratefully and exit into the bright sunshine.

— Darcy Perdu

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(Any funny moments you’d like to share from your Parent-Teacher Conferences? Has your kid found some impressive and/or questionable shortcuts for schoolwork? Any examples of your kids being too clever for their own good? Do tell! Share a Story or Comment below! I love to read them!)

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I Still Just Want To Pee Alone at Amazon.com




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Gasp! Am I a HELICOPTER Parent?

Gasp!  Am I a HELICOPTER Parent?  #Funny #Parenting Tale about Helicopter Parents and Free Range Kids!

So then…he teeters toward the step down into the living room and I lunge for his little toddler legs in case he tips. He doesn’t. He waddles over toward his mother who is calmly watching him in her peripheral vision, while simultaneously chatting with another mom, eating chips and dip, and putting another child’s hair in a ponytail.

I marvel at her composure. I only have 2 kids and I’m watching them like a hawk for safety, hygiene, dietary desires, and every other conceivable need.  If they so much as TOOT, I wanna know about it!

She has 6 kids and seems cool as a cucumber. I lean in to see if her eyes are dilated – maybe she’s heavily sedated.

When she notices me hovering around her youngest as a personal bodyguard, she lets me know that he’ll be fine.

“But I’m so worried he’s going to fall into our living room floor or hit his head on the furniture,” I say.

She says, “Well, he’s our sixth, ya know – ”

(Yeah, I know – but what, the sixth one is expendable? Does she mean, “Oh it’s OK — if he’s a goner, I’ve got 5 more at home just like him”?)

“—so I keep an eye on him,” she continues, “but by now, I figure they’re all going to encounter some little bumps and bruises along the way.”

That makes sense. I ease up a little.

We eat lunch — the kids get in their swimsuits — we slather them with sunscreen – and they head to the backyard pool where the dads are on lifeguard duty.

Just then, one of her daughters comes up to her and says plaintively, “Mom, this swimsuit doesn’t fit me.”

We look down to see this 6-year-old girl literally hunched over in a one-piece swimsuit fit for a much younger child. The straps are pinching into her shoulders and her face is filled with pain.

The mom looks at her daughter and says nonchalantly, “Well, that happens sometimes with hand-me-downs, so if that’s all we brought, you’ll just have to make do.”

Make do? My mind is racing for alternatives. My daughter is age 4 so her swimsuits would be too small. My swimsuits would be way too big – but perhaps some safety pins? They live too far away to go all the way back for another one. My mind’s whizzing with other possible solutions.

The daughter says, “But it’s hard to move around, Mom. It kinda hurts.”

And the mom says, “You’ll get used to it. Now go on out and enjoy the pool with the kids. It’s a beautiful day, so go have some fun.”

So the little girl hunches back to the pool — and proceeds to have a blast with all the kids — swimming and playing and squirting water guns and doing pool flips all day long.

I am stunned.

I say to the Mom, “Omigosh, if I were at someone’s house and that was my kid complaining about a too-small swimsuit, I would’ve run to the nearest Target to buy her a new one! Or driven home to get one that fit! Or torn down the curtains and sewed her a new one on the spot!”

She laughs and says, “Yeah, I was pretty accommodating with my first couple kids, but then they started to expect it. So if I didn’t want to end up with a bunch of high-maintenance kids, I figured I’d better teach them to just go with the flow.”

I am in awe. I want to be like this mother.

What a wonderful philosophy. She tells her kid who has a genuine problem, “It’s a beautiful day, so go enjoy it” – and her kid does!

My kids are high-maintenance because I cater to their every whim.

And it’s all because I only had 2 kids.

If I had 6 kids, I’d be a much better mother.

— Darcy Perdu

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(Do you accommodate your children a little too much? Or are you a “go-with-the-flow” mom? Am I the only one with high-maintenance kids? Share an example of your parenting style — Over-Accommodating or Adaptable-Go-With-the-Flow?)

Wrangle Those Bosoms!

So then…she peeks outside the curtain of the dressing room and whispers excitedly, “Is she back yet?” Chloe is literally giddy with joy.

She is being fitted for her first bra. She is 9.

Most of her classmates are already 10 and have begun wearing bras to school.

Chloe feels the time is right for her too. “Mom, I really – really – need a bra!”

So off to Nordstroms we go, since the department store is known for its professional lingerie ladies who work with you to find the perfect fit.

Saleslady Myra returns to the dressing room with 3 more selections. Chloe tries them on. Myra adjusts straps and hooks. She talks about fabric and breathability and the importance of the careful care and cleaning of one’s bras.

Chloe is soaking it all up, reveling in this “big girl” experience.

As we exit the store, we’re both grinning, satisfied that she’s succeeded in purchasing two bras in the correct size, fabric, and color.

Every day, she ceremoniously dons a bra before getting dressed, making a big production of it – shutting the door, whispering, looking at me meaningfully since this sort of thing can only be discussed between two women such as us.

One day, she can’t find them right away, so she’s in a panic. “Mom, Mom, I can’t find my bras! I can’t go to school without a braaaaaaaa!”

Oh, the horror!

I want to point out that until very recently she was breezy and braless every day at school and everywhere else – and she could probably get by for one day without the world being aghast in alarm. But I merely help her locate the errant underclothes and she quickly puts one on with great relief.

She loves wearing a bra. She calls her grandmother in Florida. “You know, Grammy, I’m wearing a bra now,” she says quite seriously. Grammy oohs and aahs and makes the appropriate congratulatory remarks.  Every time a Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on, Chloe shoots me a conspiratorial grin.

This excitement goes on for about 3 weeks, then Chloe turns to me one day and says thoughtfully, “By the way, Mom, what does a bra do exactly?”

–Darcy Perdu

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(What’s your story? Have your kids absolutely had to have something? Do you remember your first bra? Any bra mishaps? Share some good bra stories about you or your relatives in the Comments Section!)

When Parenting Lessons Go VERY Wrong

When Parenting Lessons Go Very Wrong    #funny  #parenting  #lesson  #gambling

So then…I cast a furtive glance at my young kids, hoping the dealer doesn’t spot them, as I place my chips on number 13 on the roulette table.

Children are forbidden to linger on the gambling floor at the Vegas casino, so my husband is casually walking them slowly up and down the aisle so they can watch me gamble.

Degenerate parents?

No, just the opposite.

In fact, I’ve just given a rather impressive lecture at lunch about the evils of gambling, the addictive nature of the game, and how the house always wins.

(Why bring the kids to Vegas, then?  It’s a quick hop from LA where we can take Chloe, age 4, and Tucker, age 7, to the wave pools, magic shows, world-class M&M store — and to see white tigers, lions, and sharks.)

But this time, they ask if they can gamble.

No.

Why?

You’re children. Only adults can gamble.

OK, can you gamble for us, then?

No. Then David and I both explain why gambling is a futile pursuit and not worth their interest.

Then Chloe and Tucker explain why LIFE.SIMPLY.CANNOT.MOVE.FORWARD.UNTIL.WE.
GO.GAMBLE.RIGHT.NOW.

You know that adorable, high-pitched, super-frenetic, mind-numbingly-repetitive way that kids have of communicating their immediate needs?

In frustration, I huff, “Fine! I will show you what a waste of time and money this is. I’ll walk over there right now and put 5 bucks on a number – and that’s it – one time – and you’ll see how quickly we lose – so pick your number.”

“Thirteen,” Tucker says. Chloe nods enthusiastically.

David walks the kids up and down the aisle, slowly, so they can watch the transaction.

I stomp over to the roulette wheel and change $5 for chips.

I put the chips on number 13 with a flourish, and steal a glance at the kids — my “I-told-you-so” look at the ready.

The wheel spins. The dealer says, “Thirteen.”

Then he hands me $175 in chips.

The kids are jumping up and down.

David is shaking his head.

I am stunned.

I’m excited to win — but disappointed that my “lesson” in the futility of gambling has failed so miserably.

I’ve just demonstrated to my impressionable young children how you can make 35 times your money in under 60 seconds.

Impressive parenting.

I cash in the chips, deposit the money in the kids’ bank accounts, and we never speak of it again.

— Darcy Perdu

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(Have any of your parenting lessons gone awry? Make me feel better and post it here. Any Vegas or gambling stories?  Share the funny!)

Hey Kid, Don’t Do the Crime If You Can’t Do the Time!

Don't Do The Crime, If You Can't Do The Time, Kid #funny #punishment #nightmare #behavior

So then…he folds his skinny little arms over the covers, juts out his chin, and says, “But, Mom, I can’t make it 4 days without TV!”

I stifle a smile as I click on the lamp on the bedside table. My 5 year-old son is fresh from bathing, so he’s tucked in bed in colorful jammies with damp hair and the sweet face of an angel — but his expression has all the gut-wrenching desperation of a junkie who’s just been denied access to the methadone clinic.

I plop next to him on the bed and say, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”

Crime? Mom, come on!”

“Tucker, I warned you several times earlier today, so you knew the consequences of your behavior.”

“Mom, why don’t you take away my video games? I love video games way more than TV,” he says hopefully.

Not so fast, Brer Rabbit.

I shoot him a look. “Do you think I don’t know that your video game controller is broken? I’m not taking away something you can’t use anyway. So no TV for 4 days.”

“This is so not fair!” He furrows his little brow.

“Oh come on, take it like a man. When I was your age, if I misbehaved, I would have been spanked!” I turn toward him and prop my head on the pillow.

“But I can’t live without TV for that long!” he says.

“That’s what Rico thought too. Did I ever tell you about him? When I was a kid, he lived in the house across the street from us in Panama. He was a little older than you are now and loved TV. But his dad was pretty strict so he restricted the time Rico could watch it. And he’d take it away if Rico misbehaved. They fought about it a lot. One time, when Rico was forbidden from watching TV, he got up in the middle of the night to sneak TV without his dad knowing — but his dad came in — and you know what he did?”

“What?” asks Tucker, very interested.

“He shot the TV!”

“WHAT?” asks Tucker in surprise.

“Yep, he had a service revolver, this gun, and he just walked right over and shot the TV!”

Tucker contemplates the death of his favorite device very somberly. “Did they get a new TV?”

“No, and what’s more, Rico’s dad insisted that the TV sit there in the living room for months as a constant reminder – shattered screen and all.”

“That’s awful,” says Tucker. He’s horrified by this story, which reminds me of another childhood memory of this family.

“Yeah, the dad was really strict. Rico’s sister was a teenager at the time and really beautiful – thick long black hair all the way to her waist, pretty face, gorgeous eyes – but he wanted her to focus on high school and stay away from boys, so he forbid her to date. So one night she said she was going to her friend’s house to do homework — but when she came home, her dad found out that she’d been on a date with a college guy! So you know what he did?”

“He shot her?” asks Tucker with wide eyes.

“No, no, no!” I laugh out loud. “He didn’t shoot her! He waited ‘til she was asleep, then he picked up her ponytail and cut her hair off!”

“Really?” he asks, dismayed.

“Yes, really! She was devastated! She went from this long luxurious hair all the way down her back to this hideous pixie cut. I think he was trying to teach her something about the dangers of being vain and too focused on beauty or something. The whole neighborhood talked about that for months.”

My mind is still replaying those memories when I notice Tucker becoming very quiet, a tiny little worry line between his eyebrows. I guess I shouldn’t have mentioned these stories right before the poor little guy goes to sleep. He’ll probably have nightmares of gun-toting, scissor-wielding maniacs chasing him!

I hug him and say, “Don’t worry, honey. No one’s gonna shoot the TV or chop off your hair while you sleep!”

“Um…OK,” he says unconvincingly.

I feel terrible, of course, but maybe his 4 days of TV exile doesn’t seem quite so bad now.

— Darcy Perdu

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(Have you ever taken TV away from your kids?  What consequences do you impose when they behave badly?  Do those differ from the way your parents punished you and your siblings?)

What Makes YOUR Kid Freak Out?

So then…she shrieks, “The fly! The fly is on my food!”

At age 5, Chloe is absolutely terrified of a fly that’s been menacing her for the past hour. I’m beyond exasperated.

She is a little tired – and the fly is rather huge, persistently buzzing around her head and her plate, no matter how often we shoo him away. But she’s driving me crazy with her squalling.

When "Mom Logic" Fails -- It IS pretty Funny!

I try to remember how my parents handled such histrionics when I was a kid.

My Dad would have laughed and said, “Don’t worry, honey. He won’t eat much.”

I try this on Chloe.

Chloe squeals, “But the fly is DIRTY! He’s making my food DIIIIRTY!”

I think about how my Mom would handle this.

Whenever my siblings or I would complain about an apple falling in the playground dirt – or sand blowing on a popsicle at the beach – Mom would say authoritatively, “Oh, go ahead and eat it. They say you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die anyway.”

What?

Who says that? At the time, I remember being instantly worried about that concept as my sandy popsicle dripped on my little 7-year-old self.

Is that a law? Does the government say I have to eat a peck of dirt before I die?

Who’s monitoring that? What possible program has been put in place to ensure I eat a peck of dirt during my lifetime?

And if I avoid dirt, will I live longer?

What a brilliant age-defying scheme! I need to tell people this:
Want to live longer? Eat less dirt.

And how much is a peck anyway? What unit of measurement is that?

I know what a gallon is – and a pound – and a cup. But what’s a peck?

I’ve heard of a bushel and a peck.

Is a peck as big as a bushel? Because a bushel is HUGE! Do I have to eat THAT much dirt in my lifetime? I’m really worried now. Maybe I should set up a quota system to ensure I get all that dirt in – maybe a tablespoon a week? Two tablespoons? And do I eat it right off the spoon – or maybe ask for it to be cooked into spaghetti sauce? How am I going to manage this whole new requirement? A peck of dirt!

“THE FLY IS BITING MEEEEEE!”

Chloe’s cry brings me back to the present with a jolt. She is now jumping around the kitchen, flapping her arms and screeching about the fly.

I’m trying to swat the fly away from her, while maintaining a calm composure. “It’s just a little fly, honey, it’s not going to hurt you.”

“YES IT IS! THE FLY, THE FLY, GET IT OFF OF ME!”

“Honey, it’s nowhere near you. You’ve got to calm down.”

More shrieking, more crying, more flapping. She’s inconsolable.

“Chloe, let’s just go upstairs, OK. It’s close to bedtime anyway.”

“NO NO NO THE FLY WILL FOLLOW ME!!!”

I say, impatiently, as though that’s a ridiculous idea, “Don’t worry, he’s not going to fly upstairs.”

She whips her head around in disbelief: “What do you mean he’s not going to ‘fly upstairs?’ He’s a FLY! That’s what they DO!!”

Hmmmm.

Good point.

Um, excuse me, I’m going to the backyard for my daily dose of dirt.

— Darcy Perdu

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(Any insects/animals that freak out your kids?  Do you say absurd things to calm your kids down — or distract them?  Does YOUR “Mom Logic” ever fail?)

Original Illustration for So Then Stories by Shelly Draven