Tag Archives: the universe is out to get me

Dear Mom At The Pool, Pay Attention To Your Kid

All summer long a rant has been bubbling up inside of me that is two not-even-full sentences long:

Dear Moms At The Pool,

Pay attention to your kid(s). 

We’ve averaged a trip a week to the pool this summer. Me and two kids. In water. See that? IN THE WATER. Me. With them. Because they can’t swim independently.

Well, guess what.

Neither can many of the kids I’ve seen in the pool without a parent or guardian nearby.

All summer long I’ve seen kids in the pool with no parents. If your child can’t swim more than 25 meters independently, you must be within 10 feet of them at all times.

Sure, there are lifeguards on duty, but do you know how many lifeguards there are versus the number of people in the pool? Don’t assume that because there are lifeguards on duty everything is dandy and nothing bad can possibly happen. Don’t do that.

Don’t send your kid off to swim banking on the 1 or 2 or even 4 lifeguards for the entire pool to be watching your child and only your child while you sit in a lounge chair actively looking away from the pool where your child is swimming.

I watched that happen yesterday.

A little girl Joshua’s age was swimming by herself. She was more proficient than him, but not nearly proficient enough to be sans adult. Her mother was twice the length of the pool away from where the girl was swimming. At one point I looked up and Mom, whose eyes were hidden behind sunglasses, had her head turned away from the pool while she lounged and sunbathed. 

Lady? Do you know how quickly people drown in water? Do you know what drowning looks like?

Today we walked over to sign Joshua in for his swim lessons and a mom was up in arms that her daughter had gone under water and where had the lifeguard been?? 

Well, Mom. Where were you? If you were in the same place you were on Monday when we were all swimming at the same time, you probably weren’t in the pool with your daughter. You weren’t on Monday.

On Monday you were in a lounge chair on your phone, 30 feet away. And I love my phone as much as the next mom, so I’m not slamming you for how much you love your phone. It feels like our lifeline. I get it.

But when your kid is in the water, put it down. Check it on the 10 minute safety break we have every. single. hour.

I looked out the window during Joshua’s swim lessons and saw the mom in the pool with her daughter and I was relieved that she was in the water. That maybe the experience had taught her not to rely on the lifeguard who is busy watching everyone. I shouldn’t have to feel relieved to see a parent in the water.

I’m thankful for the other parents in the water. Emma just walked right in once as we were on our way to get into the water and another mom scooped her up as soon as she fell. In the 5 seconds between the time Emma hit the water and was out again, my world stopped. I was never more grateful for another parent to be in the water than in that moment.

We can tag-team this water thing. But you have to be there too, you know? Your kids? Are not my kids. And while I will never let anything happen to another kid if it is in any way in my power to prevent it, don’t put me in that position when you can be in the water, too.

You know what else?

Floatation devices don’t count as a parent. They aren’t substitutes for active supervision. You can’t put your 4 year old in a puddle jumper and send him or her off to frolic while you kick back and play Candy Crush. Stop doing that. Stop thinking that putting your kid in a life jacket is the end of your eyes and arms and body being needed in that water.

All summer long I’ve watched moms at the pool thumbing their noses at pool rules and hoped and prayed and crossed my fingers that there were no disastrous results. Thankfully, there haven’t been any. Another parent or a lifeguard or the child’s actual parent has been there.

But I’ve been there enough to know that the behavior I’ve seen this summer is common practice.

This should not be common practice.

This isn’t a broken arm on a playground. This is drowning. In under a minute.

Writing this makes me feel uncomfortable because it feels judgy and I’m certainly not pool-perfect but I just can’t help it. This needs to get out of me because I’m screaming all the profanities in my head every time I take my kids swimming.

If your child can’t swim, get in the water or stay away from the pool.

Press Your Luck!


Does everyone remember this game? Press Your Luck? You have a button and a game board and the game board blinks and the contestants chant “Big Bucks! Big Bucks!! NO WHAMMIES! BIG BUCKS!” while the board blinks and then they slam their fist on the button and hope.

Contestants might win a TV, or a car, or a cash prize. But they might also get a Whammy. Three Whammies and you’re out. No bueno.

That’s what venturing out of the house in the afternoons has been like lately. Last weekend was especially bad. Our outings were great until they suddenly weren’t anymore. And when I say the change in our days was sudden I mean it exactly like it sounds. It was like a switch got flipped.

Friday I took them to Ikea. We had a great visit. We played. We looked for book shelves. We ate. It was a good day. And then we decided to go get doughnuts at the best little bakery in Atlanta because it was National Doughnut Day.

So we’re sitting there, eating our doughnuts and Joshua wants another one. Okay, no big deal, really. He ate a great lunch. I don’t mind the treat. I’d bought one to take to Dan and had given Emma a pinch of the dough. But he didn’t want that one because he “didn’t like pinches.” I told him we’d just take it to Dan and he let out the loudest scream in the middle of this very, very small doughnut shop and the walls started to close in as he screamed.

“We need to go,” I said, shoving water bottles and doughnuts into my diaper bag. He screamed again. Emma’s stroller got stuck on the leg of a chair. I couldn’t find the trash can to put away our baskets. Everyone in the place was staring.

I got them both out of there with him continuing to scream the whole time and then white-knuckled the steering wheel for the drive home.

Saturday we got up and dressed and went to lunch and then decided he needed a hair cut. He loves getting his hair cut. Loves it in a sort of uncanny way that kids don’t normally love getting their hair cut.

But he couldn’t play with the blue train. And then another kid asked to sit in the police car that he wanted to sit in but wasn’t yet sitting in because he was trying to play with the blue train. And then I tried to put him in the chair and he screamed.

“We’re leaving. NOW.”

Suddenly I had him on one hip, the diaper bag slung over my shoulder, Emma under my right arm like a sack of potatoes, and my assets hanging out. (I mean my Assets. And also probably my ass? Probably.)

I was head-down, barreling toward the door with Joshua screaming in my ear and Emma looking around like he and I had both gone crazy. (We probably had.) I didn’t want to see the stares from the other patrons as we made our exit.

In both instances, all I could hear in that moment was the sound of my heart beating in my ears as all the blood in my body rushed to my face and head. My only thought was to flee the scene as quickly as possible, with him kicking and screaming and crying the whole way to the car.

Both times I spent the drive home feeling judged and ashamed of my complete lack of grace under fire.

I talked to my best friend about it and I know that what they think of me is completely unimportant. If they’re going to judge, they’re going to judge. They would think whatever they’re going to think whether I stayed or left and the chances of me seeing them again are slim. They don’t matter.

But how I feel about it matters. And I’m my own worst critic.

I know that leaving the scene is the right thing to do with tantrums like that because it teaches him that he can’t act that way and get what he wants. But leaving calmly and in a way that says I know what I’m doing is a skill I haven’t quite mastered.

I know that to a certain extent, his behavior is normal. It sucks, but it’s normal. It’s just a part of being four years old.

It also happens that his behavior tanks right around what would be nap time if he still napped with any sort of regularity. But at the same time, if he’s not going to nap or rest and I can force him to do neither, I can’t be held prisoner here because he might melt down, you know? Because it doesn’t happen all the time. Just sometimes. I just never know when that sometime is going to be.

I’m playing an epic game of Press Your Luck only instead of a whammy, I have a child who shrieks at the top of his lungs like he’s being ripped into pieces. At any given moment, I go from feeling like I’m totally winning at life to having nothing, including my dignity.

It’s like he’s suddenly forgotten all of the many, many, many words that he knows and uses on a regular basis and goes straight for maximum eardrum breaking by letting out the most high-pitched scream he possibly can. I’m surprised the dog hasn’t barked yet.

I’m doing my best to manage this. To maintain my composure. To keep myself from screaming back. To get him calmed down in a way that validates his feelings while also expressed to him that what he’s doing is unacceptable.

And I feel like I’m probably not doing a very good job at it and can’t seem to squelch his desire to squeal.

This too shall pass, right?

Gone Fishin’

You know when your week gets off to a start that is less than stellar and you spend the whole day trying to do ANYTHING to break the funk and the only thing that will break the funk is the one thing you can’t seem to get which is sleep?

Yes. That.

That was my yesterday. Yesterday I was all “I will just throw up some photos from the past week and talk about the pictures and call it done for blogging for Monday! That will totally work! Hooray!”

And then that obviously didn’t happen because OMG EMMA CLIMBS ONTO EVERYTHING and I want to take all of the furniture OUT of my house and just sit on floor pillows and say we’re tapping into the Asian side of the family even though I’m certain people in Korea actually do use furniture and not just floor pillows.

Well, mostly certain.

(Also joking.)

I spent all of yesterday completely exhausted and stressed to my absolute limit because of keeping her off the couch/end tables/coffee table only to find that she likes to stand on the handle to the warming drawer of the stove which means she can reach the stove top which means OH MY GOD.

My week got off to a rough start.

So today I’m trying to reset my week and even though it’s only Tuesday it feels like a Wednesday and I keep panicking thinking I’ve missed Joshua’s therapy appointment and his swim trunks aren’t clean from the lake this weekend and he has lessons and OMGWASHTHECLOTHES! It’s like the week just knows it was unfair yesterday and is just trying to get me to the finish line of this week as quickly as possible.

But it’s only Tuesday.

Whew. I think.

So here are all those photos I was going to post yesterday and the stories I was going to tell to go along with them. (Don’t worry. It’s just 7.)

Happy Monuesday. (Muesday?)

We went on a picnic on Memorial Day. We were originally planning to picnic at the lake, but everyone else had that same exact plan so we dropped back and punted and settled for picnic-ing at a park.

Memorial Day

So this photo may not be technically profound, but Joshua’s EYES. His eyes and his perfect skin! He sometimes decides he wants to wear his sunglasses and when he does, this is how he wears them. It’s so very him to wear them this way. I think that’s what makes this photo a keeper for me. It’s captured a part of who Joshua is.

gone fishing

We decided to take Joshua fishing on Memorial Day so that morning Dan went out and bought them both a rod and reel. Joshua picked Lightning McQueen, of course. Since we couldn’t get to the lake, we settled for a park with a pond.

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Good thing Joshua’s 4 and doesn’t really care that he caught algae instead of fish.

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While the boys fished, Emma and I went up to the playground. She walked herself over to the swings and reached up at them, asking to be put into one so she could swing.

Communication is amazing!

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Emma’s faces are amazing, too.

Saturday mornings often start off rough around here when we have no plans. We get grumpy. Super, super grumpy.

Dan and I both want to sleep. The natives (children) get restless. So Saturday we decided to go back to the lake we tried to visit on Monday and hooray! Not so many people!

throwing sand

First, Joshua needs a haircut. Second, what I love about this picture is something I didn’t see with my first look.

Joshua is a sand thrower. I try and try and try and try to make him stop and he just throws the sand. If you look at the left edge of the photo, you’ll see the sand he threw that I didn’t know he was throwing because Hi, I was taking this photo.

Emma was not amused with Joshua’s sand throwing antics.

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Neither were we, little girl. Neither were we.

Emotional Minefields

Ever since Joshua was a baby, it’s been clear that he’s a deeply emotional kid, prone to outbursts of the epic variety at the slightest provocation. Or sometimes without being provoked at all.

I’m trying to get our days more organized and scheduled since his therapist recommended that as a way to help him out a little, but I’m kind of floundering a bit. I feel like I’m failing.

I can’t seem to come up with a schedule that meets the needs of all three of us. Someone is always getting the shaft and in a lot of ways that can’t be Emma right now. She’s the most demanding physically and requires the most redirection. But that means that Joshua isn’t getting the attention from me that he needs. I could use her nap time to give him that, but then I can’t shower and take care of myself. And probably 4 days a week, I don’t shower or take care of myself. At least not when he’s awake.

I’m almost a year into this and I’m still fighting the same battle. It’s beginning to feel never ending. That there will never be a moment where I feel I’ve hit my stride and I’m capable of balancing them both.

Compounding everything is the fact that he’s given up his nap. I can’t even really make him lay down and rest most days and he doesn’t understand why resting is good for him. And for me.

And if he does understand, he’s doing an amazing job of pretending he doesn’t.

Everything has gotten worse since he stopped napping. Way worse.

So much worse that from 2:00 p.m. on, we’re pretty much trapped at home because I’m navigating my way through an emotional minefield of rage and tears. His and sometimes mine.

If we do venture out of the house, say to the playground like yesterday, he screams at the other kids who come near him. He thinks they’ll try to touch his bubbles or his sister or they’re just too close and SCREAM!

Or he falls down more often than usual and it’s the end of the universe even if he’s not visibly injured. And when we’re at the playground, or even outside in the yard, I’m also chasing a now-mobile baby, usually in an opposite direction.

I feel like a neglectful parent because I can’t watch them both and Joshua practically requires someone to play with. But when he screams at the other kids who come near him, he’s not exactly making friends.

He’ll be great and I’ll think that today is the day we’ll have a great day and there will be compliance and no meltdowns. And then suddenly he’s not great at all.

He’ll fall to pieces because Emma looked at him. Or he bumped his leg on the table and it hurts like he’s been shot in the arm. Or I gave him the peanut butter sandwich he asked for but he really wants grilled cheese and not peanut butter. Or the dog, who has been laying on the rug asleep, has licked her chops and made a sound. And then he’s wailing about it.

There’s a lot of screaming and yelling and anger and sensory-seeking behavior, like spinning in circles. And touching me.

He must be touching me. A foot in my lap. Sharing a single cushion on the 108″ couch. In my lap. I’m his lovey.

I try to give him as much of that as I can stand because I know that he seeks touch to calm himself. But I reach my limit after being touched continuously for so long.

He has invisible issues that the people who see him melting down in public don’t know about. I feel like I should carry a sign that says “My kid has a sensory processing issue. Stop staring. Where are your manners?”

But I don’t have that sign. I just try to hide my exasperation (and often fail to do so) and get both of my children out of wherever it is we are. And if we’re at home, on the really bad days I just count down the minutes until Dan gets home to help.

He’s over-tired. Every day. I am over-tired. Every day. And the mood swings as a result of his over-tiredness and sensory issues are awful.

This is really hard, y’all.

I feel completely beaten up by the emotions of someone half my size and 2/15ths my age.

And no, I didn’t do come up with that fraction in my head. Who do you think I am?

Math is hard. So is motherhood.

Just Like a Rolling Stone

I’ll just go ahead and warn you now, this post involves bodily functions. Mine. They’re only involved because they are the entire context of the story and without them there would BE no story, but I felt I should forewarn you so that those among you who would clutch your pearls at the mention of poop can go ahead and clench and unclench and we can all get moving.

Everybody poops. This mother doesn’t poop alone.

Monday morning there was no coffee in our house. I drudged through the day in a fog. I had a headache. Coffee had to be procured. As did sustenance.

Before heading to the grocery store, I hit up the local Starbucks for a venti Pike’s Peak with a pump of caramel. It was divine. My jaunt through the grocery store with two kids was great. Cheery. There was coffee. Hooray!

But the thing about coffee is that sometimes it makes whatever has gone in come out straightaway.

We got home and I started putting away groceries, haphazardly throwing the cold cuts and cheese into the drawer and shoving the frozen items wherever they would fit. There was a knocking at my back door that had to be answered.

“Joshua, I’m going to potty. You and Emma stay in the living room!” It’s a directive I give at least once a day. A directive that is promptly ignored as soon as I’m pants-down on the pot.

So, here come both of my children while I’m trying to do my business. Joshua being generally insane and Emma carrying a box of cereal bars and doing the scrunchy faced smile she does that says “I HAVE CEREAL BARS AND THIS BOX OF CEREAL BARS IS THE MOST GREATEST THING I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY HANDS IN MY LIFE!”

I heaved a sigh of…defeat.

Can’t a woman poop in peace?

No. No she cannot. Apparently.

Joshua has a hard time keeping things together post-3:00. He’s like a mogwai that has been fed after midnight. He’s erratic. Laughing maniacally one minute and crying the very next.

Emma is, well, Emma. Mostly chipper. Except when she’s not.

There I am, on the toilet, with both of my children spinning in circles and shrieking and giggling and then Emma hurled the cereal bars in my lap.

“She’s trying to put those in your bagina! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!”

I sighed again. And also maybe chuckled.

I am trying to do my business. WHY do they follow me into the bathroom? All the time? Always? Every single time? Why is this? do not want to follow myself to the bathroom.

I would like to get us all out of the bathroom because holy hell. This is just stressful.

Except I can’t reach the toilet paper because it’s been put up high and across the room since Emma’s favorite past time is unrolling it like she’s the Queen of England and it’s a red carpet.

And so finally it all makes sense, this following me to the bathroom. It’s an insurance policy against moments like this.

But Joshua can reach the toilet paper. So he does. Such a good little helper.

You can’t always get what you want, people. But if you try, sometimes you’ll find you get what you need.