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Nov 16

Flattering as it was, the request to write a humor column came as a surprise. After all, working in corporate communications, I usually write about serious — and often boring — stuff. Oh, and I’m not a comedian.
 
As a working mother of four children, I live a busy, often complicated life, which, apparently, some people find humorous. I get laughs when I retell events that occur on what I consider a “normal day."
 
Humor at my expense, perhaps.
 
Or maybe it’s because I’ve learned I don’t always have to take life so seriously.
 
Coming to that conclusion didn’t come easy. I am a perfectionist and chronic go-getter. As a young wife and mother, I envied the order, success and happiness that seemed to permeate the lives of other women. While I attempted to herd my children — and a few pets — through the landmarks of our everyday family life, chaos, failure and woe frequently took center stage in my home!
 
But I noticed something along the way: other women related well to my admissions of defeat. There was much more interest in how I handled what went wrong than how I managed to do things right.
 
While we all love the idea of a Better Homes & Garden’s existence, it’s a rare woman who can pull that off and still enjoy her life. We shut our front doors, forget trouble and put on a smiley face for the world. But Real Life waits behind that front door: smelly messes, trivial arguments and days that redefine “challenging.”
 
Reality is, life is a little messy. There are experts who can give you an outline on eating healthy, raising successful kids, balancing a career or reducing stress. But they don’t show up to tell you what to do when the kids’ beanbag chair explodes in the backyard, your son shoves a pea up someone else’s nose, or the cat sneaks into the house with live prey.
 
When we’re brave enough to admit that we can’t quite juggle everything, and life may not be as idyllic as it appears, a great camaraderie occurs. And we can laugh.
 
As I share stories from my journey in “Reality Check-up,” I hope you will not only laugh with me, but also view the challenges of your own everyday life with a lighter heart.
 
And, if you’re brave enough, share your stories, too.
 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.


© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009 


Jan 03

I have spent the better part of an hour looking for a toe ring. Not mine, my 5-year-old’s. She received it as a prize for showing up at a birthday party last Saturday: an inexpensive, easy-to-lose, and yet-oh-so-essential accessory. 

 

As annoyed as I am about having to search for it, I can’t get that mad at the Birthday-Party-Mom. After all, It’s her oldest child and she obviously hasn’t yet realized kids can become well-adjusted, productive adults without annual over-the-top-Martha-Stewart-inspired-bank-account-clearing birthday festivities. 

 

I don’t remember attending such over-the-top events when I was a kid. Maybe, I just had the wrong friends. Or lived in the wrong neighborhood. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. 

 

Nowadays though, you can’t get away from the notion that every child deserves a big party every year, one with a great theme, amazing food and a craft that belongs in an art museum. While we’re at it, how ‘bout a petting zoo? And you’d better have a stellar gift bag for the kids who come. 

 

That’s right. Everyone gets a gift! I have friends who constructed mini-water parks in their backyard, and others who paid a small fortune to rent game rooms. I’m guilty, too. I’ve spent hours with crepe paper and masking tape transforming the living room into a pseudo-castle. I’ve hosted a cowboy cookout in my fireplace and rented an Olympic-sized pool. I had an American Idol-like party before therewas American Idol. 

 

My oldest daughter’s third birthday party included a “make-your-own-grilled-pizza” bar, where — thanks to my fabulous logistical planning — each child was able to create her very own pizza, just the way she liked it! That is, until she dropped most of it on the living room floor on her way to the patio where my husband, obeying the five-second rule, would pick up and rearrange her toppings back onto the pizza and then throw it on the grill.

 

A month after the party, Gourmet magazine featured an adult version of that same party. Except, it looked like those people had a lot more fun. 

 

My homemade ice cream party was a huge hit with everyone except my husband, who naively agreed to help me make homemade cones the night before. Turns out, rolling the cones is a lot more complicated than it looks. You have to do it while they’re hot, and my husband didn’t take well to the idea of burning his fingers for the cause of gourmet food at a kid’s birthday party.

 

I’m pretty sure he hid the recipe after that. 

 

Another time, I hired a clown. That was the day I learned some children have an aversion to clowns. An aversion which can transform them into screaming, biting, hitting, kicking, obnoxious party guests. At that same party, I learned some mothers come to kids’ birthday parties, not to watch their kids, but to visit with other moms. And some moms become so engrossed in adult conversation they become completely oblivious to the fact their clown-fearing child is having a complete emotional meltdown, inflicting bodily injury to some poor clown and basically ruining the party for every other guest. 

 

I cringe a little to think there may be an emotionally scarred child out there as a result of that party, but at least it’s not like the scar from the row of stitches my husband’s friend received at his one (and only) childhood party, courtesy of a fellow party-goer with a toy golf club. 

 

After that, my mother-in-law quit having birthday parties. Totally. 

 

I’m not ready to completely shut down my party business. After all, while I don’t remember any over-the-top parties growing up, I do have some sweet photos of myself and childhood friends, wearing ridiculous hats and playing standard birthday-party games. And, even though I’ve toned down the party planning quite a bit since the clown incident, the kids who come to celebrate my kids’ birthdays have never asked why we don’t have an inflatable slide or a rock band performing. 

 

They don’t even object to our rules: no trips to the emergency room and no clown-fearing social misfits. I’ve got a few rules for myself, too: no party favors you can’t eat. (Chocolate will disappear before your child gets home, and there are no small parts to break or lose.) Also, serve finger food, at room temperature and I make everything ahead of time.  And I never, ever ever give-a-way tiny toe rings.

 



Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.



© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009   


Feb 28

I recently overheard a well-meaning woman offer her unsuspecting friend Amish Friendship Bread. I should’ve told her: “Friends Don’t Let Friends Make Amish Friendship Bread.” But alas, she said, “Yes,” too soon.

 

I wasn’t so enlightened when a friend offered me Amish Friendship Bread “starter.” 

 

“All you have to do is squeeze it and add a few things once in awhile,” my friend encouraged. “It makes really good bread.”

 

Actually, it wasn’t bread when she handed it to me. Rather, it was a fermenting, gooey starter that required daily maintenance to grow and then had to be divided and shared. 

 

I was already stressing about who in the world I would give the starters to, when my children, who happened to be within earshot of the conversation, began their persuasive whining. So — albeit hesitantly — I accepted the bag of sticky-gooey stuff.  

 

And so began a series of very unfortunate culinary events. When I got home, I plopped the bag on the counter and wondered if I would remember to squeeze it several times each day.

 

Turns out, remembering to squeeze was not the problem. With four kids in the house, that bag was squeezed more than udders in a dairy barn. It became an obsession. They could not pass through the kitchen without squeezing. When muddy handprints covered the bag, I drew the line: please wash your hands before squeezing!

 

One day someone squeezed a little too hard, and the Ziploc broke. I didn’t notice until a swarm of gnats had descended and the dog was licking the dripping goop off the cupboard.

 

Normally, I would have just thrown the mess out, but I couldn’t. After all, it was Friendship bread. Amish Friendship bread. And I’d been squeezing for several days. I had a commitment to this goop.

 

So I cleaned up the leak and resealed the bag. And kept a closer eye on the squeezers.  Like friendship, Amish Friendship Bread requires an investment of time: ten days for the starter to mature, or peak or, whatever it is doing as it sits on your counter. 

 

Whoever created this stuff is a marketing genius. Think about it: Who would bake Pyramid-Scheme-Bread? Or 10-Day Pudding Bread? Who would ever agree to give away Pain in the Butt Bread? But Amish Friendship Bread? There you have something that’s hard to turn down.

 

But make no mistake: Amish Friendship Bread is the culinary equivalent of a chain letter. Only I’m sure it multiplies faster, and it’s even harder to give away. 

 

Every day, I would make a mental note of how many more days the starter needed to cure before it could be baked. But as things go, on Culmination Day, I had a mile-long to-do list and it was 9 p.m. before I remembered, “Today is the day!” I wondered what would happen if I waited another day. But the directions said to make it on “Day 10,” and this was the day. 

 

I couldn’t blow it. My friend might find out.

 

I followed the directions carefully, putting the measured portions of starter into Ziplocs to give away, while adding the list of basic ingredients — sugar, flour and milk — to a bowl filled with a large portion of goo. I even added the optional nuts, raisins and apples and sprinkled a greased loaf pan with cinnamon sugar. My kitchen looked like a feature in Martha Stewart Livingpainted by Norman Rockwell. 

 

But as I finished cleaning up, the warm cinnamon smell turned smoky. I peaked in the oven and noticed batter dripping over the edges of the loaf pan. 

 

A quick recheck of the recipe confirmed the problem: the recipe makes two loaves, not one.  Great. Just great. Sweet sentiments quickly turned to seething frustration as the dripping batter erupted into small fires in my oven. 

 

An hour later, the overloaded pan was still spewing goo. As I checked — and re-checked — to see if there was any solid mass to rescue from the fiery furnace, I swore I would never do this again — to anyone.

 

When I finally took that mess out of my oven, it required amateur surgical skills to remove it from the pan. What was purported to be simple and delicious had turned out to be complicated and, well, very burnt.

 

The dear friend who gave me the starter later admitted that she, too, had flunked Amish Friendship Bread on her first go-around. But here is where I begin to wonder which one of us is sane. She asked for — and received — another bag of starter. Me? I quietly dropped the starters that were left in the kitchen garbage and never looked back. 

 

Please don’t tell my friend.

 



Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.

© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009  


Mar 14

I recently retired as my boys’ personal hairstylist. I don’t care how much they whine. I will ignore their begging. I’m not doing it again. Ever. 

 

Dealing with my sons’ hair has been a thorn in my side since they showed up over a decade ago. I don’t think I ever got it right. 

 

At first thought, you’d expect my two girls’ hair would cause more problems. But learning to braid, buying the right detangler and finding non-tangley hairbands was a simple task compared to the never-ending chore of keeping the boys’ hair trimmed in a manner that suited them.

 

At our house, my husband insisted the boys get a haircut as soon as they were referred to as “beautiful” or “pretty.” For my boys, that happened relatively early. In fact, it seems they were barely sitting up when my husband thought it was high time they got their first trim. 

 

I approached the task cautiously. But despite the fact that I intentionally started by taking very little off, with each move of the head, the whole operation became increasingly troublesome. I started to think the whole “bowl” concept wasn’t such a bad idea. I’d put anything over their heads if it would block out the distractions that caused sudden head movements, and, consequently, a bad haircut. 

 

It didn’t take long for me to start thinking it was me. I obviously lacked basic haircutting skills. Maybe I should take them to a “professional”? 

 

So sometime during their toddlerhood, I did. 

 

Turns out, a haircut can be just as traumatic as a visit to the dentist. And, the end result isn’t necessarily much better than my own efforts. In fact, sometimes it’s worse. 

 

On one visit to a local barber, my kids observed a small child getting his hair trimmed. His helicopter mother was standing next to him, chatting away to the stylist who pulled out all the tools to transform the kid into a Mini-Me of Ryan Seacrest. The mother paid, and the pair left, but then returned just a few minutes later. 

 

“I’d like my money back,” the woman informed the receptionist. “I asked for a cute haircut, and this is not cute. At all,” she said. 

 

The puzzled receptionist asked just what, exactly, was wrong. 

 

“Well, just look at his face,” the mother retorted.

 

And then the poor kid chimed in: “What’s wrong with my face, Mama?” 

 

I think my boys almost bolted out the door right then, but for an uncontrollable case of the giggles that left them immobile. 

Because, you know what? The Mom had a point. And while I know the little kid couldn’t do much about his face, the way it interacted with his new haircut wasn’t attractive. Really. 

 

After that incident I agreed to trim my boys up at home again. I invested in a pair of electric sheers for the son who likes a “GI,” or what one friend calls, “high and tight.” But every time I used the buzzers, he accused me of cutting his hair crooked. 

 

“Look,” I finally said. “This gismo cuts everything the same length. If something is crooked, it must be your skull.” 

 

My other son fared no better. He inherited a double cowlick from some distant kin and always seemed to twitch just as I got to that section of his head. The result? All high, but not at all tight. Much as he’d like to, he can’t wear a baseball cap 24/7 until another bad haircut-by-me grows out. 

 

So I’ve finally decided to let someone else mess up my kids’ hair, and let them deal with the boys’ bellyaching. After all, I’m going to make enough mistakes as a Mom. When it comes to their hair, why not pay to get off the hook?

 

Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.


Other articles by Hallie Bandy:

Friends don't let friends wear granny panties.

One sick mom, 2 sick boys and one new computer system equalled trouble

The Tooth Fairy is one of the biggest nuisances ever invented for moms

When you have kids, reality literally stinks sometimes
The Trials of Friendship Bread

Of Sex Talks and Awkward Filters

Female Facial Hair: Starts at puberty and continues rest of our lives.

An Orthodontic Alignment

No More Birthday Party Madness

Can't A Kid Pee In Peace?

Lunch With A Side of Baby Ruth Bars

Reality Check-Up



© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009  

Apr 11

Among the many childhood legends parents are responsible for perpetuating, I have to say that playing the part of Tooth Fairy has to be one of the all-time biggest nuisances ever invented by …  Who did invent this, anyway?  


At least other renowned characters like Santa and the Easter Bunny have somewhat understandable backgrounds.  The Tooth Fairy is a different story.

The entire tradition makes me a little apprehensive.  A grown up, princess-like creature — yes, a stranger — sneaks into your child’s room at night, takes the tooth from under her pillow, and leaves cash. 


This is supposed to be a sweet childhood fantasy?


I know there are plenty of overachiever parents who feel differently.  A friend told me: at her house the Tooth Fairy takes each tooth to help build her castle in the sky.  And, “she” leaves the kids letters.


“They believe!” she told me, quite proudly.


I didn’t even bother to ask what the letters say.  I’m sorry.  At the end of the day, when I’ve finally put my kids to bed, the last thing I want to do is pen a letter under the pseudonym, “Tooth Fairy.”  I don’t even know what to do with the little pieces of calcium.    

It’s a relentless job.  I have four kiddos.  My math tells me I could potentially retrieve 80 teeth in my Tooth Fairy role.  I think I probably have about half that many in a zip-lock in my underwear drawer.


And I’ll be honest: my kids are lucky I’ve gotten around to that many.


I had good intentions in the early days.  My first kid was slow to lose her teeth.  So slow, in fact, that her permanent teeth grew in alongside the baby teeth.  It didn’t seem to bother her, and she refused any help in dislodging them. 


You would think with the long wait, I would have been prepared.   But, no.  When the tooth finally fell out, my cash was depleted.  Creatively, I found a new bottle of pink nail polish.  Perfect.  Not only was she thrilled with the nail polish, she continued to play along with the creative items the tooth fairy often brought her in lieu of cash — hair clips, chocolate, new socks.  I think she actually thought “her” Tooth Fairy was cool.

Not so with my second child.  As soon as his first tooth was loose, he told me flat out: “Other kids get money from the tooth fairy.  Tell her:  I want money!”


He didn’t even really lose his first teeth.  He let the Dentist pull them.  He probably saw an opportunity for a revenue stream, because he put them straightaway under his pillow, with a reminder to me about the cash. 


Of course, I forgot all about it.


“She FORGOT!!  Mooooommmmm!  The Tooth Fairy FORGOT ME!!” he wailed the next morning.


“Oh, no, honey.  She didn’t forget,” I said, trying to think of something. 


And then it struck me, and I explained:  “It’s my fault, honey.  I didn’t place the call in time.”

I could see from his face the explanation was working.

 

“Let me call that 800 number again,” I said.  “I’ll make sure you’re on her route tonight.” 


That explanation became my cover-up for the next several years.  I’d call that 800 number and the Tooth Fairy’s polite customer service staff always had a perfectly believable explanation.

“She was overbooked last night.”

“She said she came by, but she couldn’t find the tooth.”

“Their office is closed for the holiday.  It’s a special Tooth Fairy holiday.”

“You’ve hit your quota for this month.  She’ll have to come next month.”


I’m not sure when they finally figured out I’d made it all up, but one day my third child didn’t bother putting his tooth under his pillow.  Instead, he put it in a plastic bag and hung it on his bulletin board, next to an envelope labeled, in capital letters, “TOOTH FAIRY—PLEASE PUT MONEY IN HERE.”  


And, about a week later, the Tooth Fairy finally put some cash in the envelope. 


My youngest has just started losing her teeth and she’s already working the system.

“Can you call the tooth fairy hotline,” she asks, handing me her latest lost tooth. “You can tell her she can come this weekend if it’s really busy.”

After a long pause to see if I’m really listening, she adds:

“And, if she’s bringing nail polish, please tell her I like dark pink.”


Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.




©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

 

May 11

I don’t shop at WalMart.  I can give you a host of reasons, but it probably all boils down to the fact that I don’t like buying my underwear and groceries at the same place.

 

Trouble is, it’s so darn convenient to pick up that six-pack of cotton briefs.  The packaging certainly makes you think that the product meets the minimum fashion and comfort requirements.  And, it’s right there.   Ready to throw in the cart, along with the other necessities of life, like school supplies and chocolate.

 

Shopping for good underwear requires a more focused expedition.  And, let’s face it: when life gets busy, underwear shopping inevitably ends up on the bottom of the to-do list. While the wrong shoes can create a fashion nightmare — or worse yet, shin splints or ingrown toenails — uncomfortable underwear can be tolerated if you manage to stay in the same position for an extended length of time.  And, while you’ll likely get a sideways glance if you wear the wrong dress to an uppity party, no one checks to see if you have the latest in underwear fashion. 

 

But I’ve found out:  that’s what friends are for.

 

Awhile back, a friend spent a few days at a mutual friend’s house.  Apparently, the hostess’s well-intentioned offer to do some laundry revealed a shocking secret:  our friend had succumbed to impulse buying at her local Mart.  Yes, she owned — and obviously wore — granny briefs. 

 

The revelation was followed by incessant teasing and giggling, and then a guided tour of the Bloomingdale’s foundations department, where some very fine DKNY panties were purchased — as a gift. 

 

Because, friends don’t let friends wear granny pants.

 

Perhaps I should have taken heed to the implied warning, and packed a little more carefully when I went to visit the same friend.  While I can honestly say I didn’t have any granny pants, I have to admit, it had been awhile since I’d taken the time to shop.  Inevitably, the kind offer to do some laundry revealed a few tattered undergarments, and, not long after, I found myself browsing the lingerie department with my friend.  As it happened, my daughter was along, which just compounded the embarrassment. 

 

At their insistence, and against all my preconceived ideas, I agreed to try a new-to-me style of underwear.  I honestly couldn’t understand how the store could charge what that tiny piece of fabric cost, but my daughter and friend both insisted nothing is more comfortable. 

 

I brought home the new skivvies and, throwing every tightly wound notion of propriety out the window, tried them on.  I had no idea how comfortable thongs actually are.  Really.

 

How do you adequately thank a friend for buying you a thong?  This was not on my mother’s list of “Nice Things to Do for a Friend.”   Or maybe it was, and she just didn’t let me in on the secret.

 

Along life’s journey, we get so busy, we resort to the easiest solutions — a six-pack of underwear on our way from the produce aisle to frozen foods.  A good friend will remind us: comfort matters, and taking care of personal details is a good thing.

 

Last week, my daughter went shopping for a friend of hers who is headed off to college.  She called me from the mall.  “I bought her a really cute thong,” she told me, giggling. 

 

She’s a good friend.



Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.





©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010


Jun 06

Boys like fire  - and guns.  And if I ever questioned this fact, experiences have taught me otherwise. 

 

I distinctly remember when my boys were toddlers, one saw me light a match in the kitchen.  He ran to tell his brother, “I know how to make fire!” 

 

Note to self: hide matches.

 

I’m convinced it’s in their genes.  Because my husband is all about it, too.

 

We bought our farmette in the spring, and spent the majority of the long, hot Kentucky summer making the house livable. All the while my husband kept reminding me, there was land to clear.  Seemed he couldn’t wait.  He had a new chain saw.  The possibilities were endless.

 

We wrapped on the big projects by the time the kids started school mid-August.  It was time to clear some wooded area.  We hired one of his college students to help.

 

In the cool of the early morning, with the manly hum of the chain saw, they were undaunted.  They began sawing down the dead trees and started a fire to burn the wood.  By late morning, the heat and humidity began to get the best of them.  Still determined, my husband came up with what he thought was a brilliant idea:  eliminate the hauling and dragging.  Cut the trees so they fall directly into the fire.

 

That afternoon, when I went outside to wait for my kids to get off the bus, there was a lovely area of cleared land… and plumes of flame and smoke billowing from a two-story pile of brush at the edge of the woods.  As I stood there, someone pulled into the drive and introduced himself as the local Volunteer Fire Marshall.  “I’ve got a truck on the way,” he informed me. 

 

And that is why, when my children got off the bus from their first day of school in the new town, there was a fire truck in our driveway. 

 

 “We just got training last week on how to put out brush fires,” the firemen told my husband. “We got it taken care of, sir.   No charge, this time.”

 

After dinner, we looked out to see three-foot flames erupting from the pile of ashes those fireman made when they were “taking care of” the brush fire.

 

A few weeks later, apparently impressed by his father’s fire-making skills, one son made what he initially thought was an unsuccessful attempt to start a fire, using only a magnifying glass on a pile of twigs.  He grew tired of what turned out to be a very slow process and abandoned the effort, leaving the magnifying glass behind.  Awhile later, we were eating lunch when my daughter looked outside and announced, “The woods are on fire!” 

 

And that is why, when he produced his “All About Me” poster in school, the caption under the photo – a shot of him sitting, head-in-blackened-hands – read, “It’s kinda discouraging when everyone gets all mad at you for starting a forest fire.  It’s not like I committed a crime or anything.”

 

Trouble is, when there is a no-burn order in effect, it is a crime. 

 

I’ll tell you all about that in my next column.

 

Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.

 

 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

Jun 20

Boys’ fascination with fire is unlimited.  If they see a lighter, they will pick it up and flick it on and off.  If there is a box of matches, they will light – at least - one. 

 

Last fall, I was running errands with my husband and two of our kids, leaving my oldest home with her younger brother.  My son had chores to do, and she … needed to do teenage-girl things, like talk on the phone and update facebook. 

 

They were certainly capable of staying alone, so I headed out for a round of stops and never gave it another thought.  Until I was paying for a haircut and my phone rang. 

 

It was my daughter.  Still mid-transaction, I handed the phone to my older son and told him to answer:  “See what she needs.”  As soon as he said “hello,” his face changed.  “He did WHAT?” was all I heard, as he walked away.  I quickly signed the receipt and chased him down.

 

“What is going on?” I asked, trying to imagine what kind of trouble my son could possibly cause while performing a simple household chore.

 

“He set the woods on fire,” was the reply.  Which was, of course, not at all the answer I had anticipated. 

 

Apparently, while cleaning the mudroom, chore-boy had found the family pyrotechnic arsenal and decided to take a “firecracker break.”  And, apparently, he didn’t stop to think about the ramifications of tossing a firecracker near a hay bale, in the woods, when it had not rained for three months. 

 

That is, until the hay bale exploded. 

 

And everything around it began to burn. 

 

Our 20-minute drive home seemed to go in slow motion as I gave my husband the usual, “what’s the worst that can happen,” pep talk.  In this case, the worst-case-scenario was pretty darn bad.  There was nothing but thick, dry forest between us and the Kentucky River, several miles away.  As I realized that, I made him promise: “Please wait 24 hours before administering discipline.” 

 

We arrived to see black smoke billowing from the large hay bale the guys use for archery practice, and our neighbor’s extremely long hose running from our spigot to the smoldering mess. 

 

My son told me later, when the hay bale exploded, he ran to the house, and told his sister … who screamed, and began texting her friends.  That was when he ran out the door to get a hose, and our neighbor happened to see him.  “He looked real panicky,” the neighbor told me later.  “I could see something was wrong.” 

 

As my fuming husband marched down to take over putting out the fire, I began accessing the damage.  There was half an acre or so of charred grass, but, fortunately, the fire had not reached any of the dried-out trees at the edge of the forest.   

 

Just as I thought we had things in hand, as if to ensure my dear husband reached the pinnacle of sheer frustration, our wheaton-colored hound dog sniffed the air, took off running and did a stop-drop-and-roll routine in the charred grass.  When he was done, he was completely blackened.  My daughter and I were doubled over laughing, and quickly offered to bathe him.  Which was when we realized the hose being used to put out the fire was attached to the hot water spigot. 

 

At that point, it was hard to tell whether the smoke was coming from the hot water steam, the fire itself, or my husband.  I decided to let the men finish the job and returned to the house to make dinner.

 

When I finally sat down that evening, my daughter’s facebook status update read: “I’m glad our house is still standing, my Dad didn’t burst a blood vessel, and no man will turn down the opportunity to put out a fire.”

 

And later, when I thanked our neighbor profusely for all his help, he replied, simply, “I’d a-been awful mad if he’d burned them woods down before deer season.”

 

Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

 

 


Jul 04

My husband has always carried a pocket knife.  And, he likes to remind me it comes in handy when I need to open a package or dress road kill.  (Okay, I’ve never had to dress roadkill.  I would hope the same is true for him, but I’m afraid to ask.) 

 

My boys were quite young when they expressed an interest in having a knife of their own, and I probably gave in sooner than I should have.  But living in the country, it seemed an appropriate right of passage.  They needed something to mark trails and clear brush. 

 

Trouble is, sometimes we venture outside our rural abode, and things are a little different in the big city.

 

Awhile back, I took the kids on the proverbial family educational trip to Washington D.C.  We were excitedly standing in line for our first tour of the museums on the Mall, when my son looked at me, panicked.  “The sign says, ‘no knives.’”

 

“Of course it does,” I replied.  And then I paused, as the obvious dawned.  “You have your pocket knife, don’t you?”

 

He nodded, somewhat sheepishly, though I could tell he really was wondering why on earth anyone had such a silly rule.

 

Nice as security officers were, certain exceptions can’t be made.  Not to worry.  My resourceful son somewhat brilliantly connived to hide his knife in bushes outside each and every one of the museums we visited.  He set the alarm on his watch to go off about the time we expected to be done, and so was reminded to collect his precious possession.

 

Annoyed as I was that day, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise.  In fact, I should have thought to tell him, “Don’t bring your knife.”

 

Because he never leaves home without this essential accessory.

 

The summer prior, we enjoyed some extended family time.  Apparently, my sister-in-law hasn’t gotten the memo on boys needing pocket knives, and her son was left frustrated when he tried to open the (really cool) gift we’d purchased for him.  Not to worry.  My son whipped out his handy-dandy pocket knife to assist in removing the stubborn plastic packaging.

 

I don’t know any of this from first-hand observation.

 

We learned what happened next when said cousin crashed the adult-conversation party.  Speaking in the strained, slightly lisping, high-pitched voice of a worried pre-pubescent, he urgently announced, “Aunt Hallie:  Joe was trying to help me unwrap my gift, and he appears to have THABBED himself.  He is now bleeding pro-futh-ly.  I think he is th-e-v-e-r-e-l-y injured.”

 

By the time we got to the boy, his face was ashen.  Not being one to deal well with injuries, I grabbed a cloth to clamp the bleeding and led him to the living room, where we both laid on the floor and put our feet up (to prevent passing out).  Meanwhile, some dear soul wiped up the blood, and my husband and his MD-sister assessed the wound.

 

Just what everyone needs on a holiday weekend:  a trip to the ER. 

 

Not to worry, my genius sister-in-law informed me.  “I can fix that with superglue and a butterfly bandage.”

 

And so she did. 

 

Yes, you read that correctly.  My MD sister-in-law made a quick trip to Target, bought superglue and a butterfly bandage and patched up my son’s gaping knife wound.  Cost: $5.00, not including the gum she purchased impulsively when checking out. 

 

To keep everything in place, she decided to wrap the hand in gauze.  And as she struggled to open the package, my husband, of course, was there with his pocket knife …

 

Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 

 


Jul 19

Robert Frost said good fences make good neighbors, and those of us who live in rural settings understand that notion. 

 

When you live in the country, you give up block parties and neighborhood bunko clubs.  Kids don’t usually walk or ride a bike to each other’s homes. And there are days you see more wildlife than people.

 

When we first moved from the crowded subdivisions of south Florida to a rural town in Ohio, one of our new neighbors introduced himself by saying, “We all live out here because we like it quiet.  You won’t see us much.  But if you need us, we’re here.”

 

He was right.  I rarely saw him.  But he was there.  I delivered our first son in the middle of a January snowstorm, and we came home to a plowed drive and a pack of diapers on the front stoop.  No note, but I knew whose kindness it was.

 

Not every country neighbor has gotten the memo on keeping to yourself, however.

 

Another Ohio neighbor introduced himself a little differently.  He showed up at the same time as the moving truck, told us where everything should go, and then informed us how much he liked mowing lawns — and practically insisted he mow our lawn for the “rest of the season.”  It was late fall, and we hadn’t given any thought to lawn mowing.  We didn’t give much thought to his kind offer, either. We just gratefully said, “Oh, thank you so much!”

 

As it happened, that was an epic El Nino year, and people were golfing until Christmas Eve in Northeast Ohio.  Our grass kept growing, and our neighbor showing up weekly to do us yet another favor. 

 

Which is why, when he informed us that he and his wife regularly took an extended vacation and needed someone to care for their cats for two months, I felt obliged to offer my services.  

 

Sure I had an infant and a toddler, but cats are cats.  I could certainly keep a bowl of food filled and fetch some fresh water.  How hard could it be?  After all, I wanted to be neighborly.

 

When I showed up for cat-duty, there was a three-page document of instructions, including a special recipe for each cat, to be prepared twice daily.  Not a general mix-the-crunchy-stuff-with-a-can kind of recipe, mind you.  No, there were measuring cups and at least six ingredients involved. 

 

Also, apparently these kitties didn’t like a messy litter box.

 

Too bad.  Don’t tell my neighbors, but I used a very liberal adaptation of the recipe, and dumped the contents of the litter boxes into the trash on garbage night before their return.

 

And the cats lived. 

 

Which, in hindsight, wasn’t necessarily a good thing, since those neighbors took that two-month vacation every year. 

 

Cat Caretaker. Good Neighbor.  That’s me.

 

It was déjà vu all over again when we moved to Kentucky and onto our farmette.  The previous owner hadn’t mowed for several weeks when we took occupancy, which posed a problem since our tractor wasn’t scheduled to show up for another week.  Right on time, our next-door neighbor showed up with his “lawn system” and offered to help us out.  When he said he didn’t have cats, I breathed a sign of relief.

 

Until he came over about a month later and asked if we’d watch his dog while he and his wife took an extended summer road trip. 

 

No problem.  What are neighbors for?  We took care of the dog. The neighbors returned.

 

About a year after we moved in, there was a heavy overnight rain, and our normally quiet dog barked adamantly through the night.  I checked repeatedly and saw nothing … until dawn, when I looked out to see one of the neighbor’s cows quietly grazing in the yard.

 

Apparently part of the their fence had been damaged in the storm, and the cow had decided to seek greener pastures.  In our yard.

 

We sent the dog out to see if her herding instincts might prove useful, but one long “moooo,” from the Bovine sent her racing back to the house.

 

So I called my neighbor.  “I know it’s early,” I apologized, “but I believe one of your cows is in our yard.”

 

Without hesitating, she replied, “Oh, just shush it on home.”

 

It took a moment to take in what she had said, before I could reply, “Well, we’ve already shushed, and she’s not moving.”

 

“Oh, okay, someone will be down,” she replied, though she failed to say when that might be. So, I packed my kids into the car for school and headed off, with Bessie still grazing in our back yard. 

 

I had an appointment with my OB that morning, and was gone for several hours.  I had forgotten about the cow until I arrived home and found her, standing like a fixture in the driveway. 

 

There I was, seven months pregnant, staring down a two-ton creature who had no intention of going anywhere. 

 

I rolled down the window of my Volkswagon and “shushed” her. 

 

“Moooo.”

 

And that is when I, somewhat brilliantly I might say, decided to try herding her with the car.

 

That’s right. I, a pregnant mother of three, herded the neighbor’s cow home with my VW. 

 

Our neighbor repaired the fence.  We see them occasionally and wave. 

 

And, we mow our own lawn, thank you.

 

Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.

 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 

Aug 01

When we relocated to Central Kentucky, I had a relatively short list of requirements for the home we wanted to purchase:  three bedrooms, two baths, a laundry room. 

 

My husband's list was even shorter.  "I want a place where I can walk out the back door, shoot my shotgun and not have anyone ask questions,” he said.  

 

Don’t get the wrong impression.  My husband is a college professor.  He moves about society without garnering undue attention to himself.  He looks normal.  But when it comes to being in touch with his estrogen, he won’t get near that thin pink line. 

 

He’s a manly man. 

 

I always knew he liked to hunt.  Over the years, I encouraged his annual pheasant-hunting outings and dutifully prepared game for the family.  But when he added this gun-shootin’ criteria to our home-shopping list, my eyes opened to a side of him that had heretofore remained unfamiliar to me.

 

In the country, we have plenty of wild animals that run away and mind their own business.  They’re not a problem. But wild animals that show no fear of humans are a problem.  And we don’t have a nice white truck to come “take care of the problem” like they do in the city.

 

Sure enough, we weren’t living in our house one week when it became obvious there was a varmint about.   Turned out to be a coon — a very bold coon, roaming our deck.

 

When the initial shot rang out from the upper deck, my Father, who was visiting to help with some renovating, yelled, “Hey!  What’s going on?”

 

So much for nobody asking questions.

 

But that was just the beginning of what has become an ongoing quest to protect our property from — and rid the world of — varmints.  And in our locale, there are plenty.  Skunks.  Opossums.  Snakes.  Coons.  And feral cats.

 

I know.  I get a nightly report. 

 

“Got somethin’ messin’ around the compost pile,” he’ll say. 

 

“Hadn’t noticed,” I respond in all honesty. 

 

No matter.  He’s on it.

 

There are several methods for dispatching varmints.  One of his favorites is what is officially known as a “Have a Hart” trap.  The makers of the trap offer it as a humane option for relocating unwanted animals. 

 

That’s now how we use it.

 

I call it the “Have a Shot” trap.  Because once the pesky varmint is in the trap, its fate is sealed. 

 

Our trap has reinforcements, which were installed after the Summer of Super Coon, who managed to bust out of the trap.  Twice. 

 

But sometimes critters show up unexpectedly.  Like when he’s closing up the chicken coop for the night and a mean ole possum backs out of the henhouse door.  That’s when a pitchfork comes in real handy. 

 

That’s right.  I always get the report.  Just wish I didn’t have to see it the next day.

 

Somehow, though, his wish for the unquestioned shot from the upper deck remained elusive far longer than I would have thought.

 

And then some neighborhood cats started fighting. 

 

For those of you who are only familiar with domesticated felines, I probably need to explain the country cat situation.  We keep them as pets, but not like declawed, housebound city cats.  Our felines are acquired to help with pest control.  They hunt stuff too small to shoot:  mice, voles, snakes.  And they love it.  But there are other cats in the country.  Strays that people drop off, who become part of the woodland wildlife.  And they can be as troublesome as the brazen ‘coon or opossum. 

 

Cat fights take place in the wee small hours of the morning.  They are loud, nasty and annoying.

 

It was late summer — cool enough for us to sleep with the windows open — and some cats decided to make a nightly ritual of fighting in the pasture behind our house.   My husband made sure he was ready.  Each night, he’d unlock the gun cabinet and wait.

 

Turns out our neighbor had the same idea.  Because one night, we heard the screeching, then a couple shots from the neighbor’s back porch, and then silence.

 

I had forgotten all about it the next morning when I woke up before everyone else to tend to our toddler daughter and the new puppy.  They were both early risers, so we headed outside—me, with child in arms and the young hound-puppy loping about. 

 

All at once, the puppy lurched toward what appeared to be a mound of fur in the garden.  In the brief moment that I realized my neighbor hadn’t quite finished the job the night before, I managed to grab the pup, while still holding the child and yell, “WOUNDED CAT!”

 

In a moment, the screen door to the upper deck opened, and my skivvy-clad husband appeared, gun in hand to finish the job. 

 

One shot, and back to bed.

 

No questions asked.


Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.

 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 

 

Aug 15

I have yet to meet a child over the age of six who willingly volunteers to take part in household tasks.  But, as a grownup, I’m required to inform them: if a family is to function efficiently, there are certain things that every child should be willing and able to do.
 
At our house, we have a rather straightforward method of assigning chores.  There are chores that our kids do simply because they are able-bodied members of our family:  make their beds, put everything in its place, study, and sign up to do dishes twice a week.  There are also jobs that they can sign up for in order to receive an allowance. 
 
Honestly, I believe I’m doing them a favor, giving them life skills training. 
 
Of course, not everyone sees it that way.
 
I know it’s not just me.  There are other parents who expect kids to contribute.  Some kids just accept the assignments and move on. 
 
And then there are kids who spend an hour arguing about whether or not they should be forced to do a five-minute job.   
 
I have one who can hold an hour-long soliloquy on the injustice of any task.  And he usually follows with a performance of “The Song that Gets on Everybody’s Nerves.”  He can sing it for hours.  He sings it with a French accent, a southern accent.  He sings it doggy-style. 
 
And the title really delivers.
 
We all try to clear the house when it’s his night to do dishes.
 
While I am steadfastly determined that he will not wear me down, he seems equally determined to try. 
 
Recently, I decided it was time for my boys to learn to put clean sheets on their bed. Honestly, I’m not trying to torture them.  I just want them to have some basic life skills.  I mean really, do they think Mommy is going to show up to their dorm room to change the bed?
 
I showed them the basics of pulling the fitted sheet taught and making a neat hospital corner.  One son grasped the concept quickly, made his bed and went on with his life. 
 
And then there was the other son, who is, apparently, significantly challenged by this sort of practical exercise in spatial intelligence.  His first attempt was a wadded, tangled mess.  His second attempt was a lumpy, wrinkled mess. 
 
And then he refused another attempt. 
 
I try to be reasonable.  Really, I do.  I told him:  the bed doesn’t have to be perfect.  But it has to look like you can sleep in it.  I offered to help; he declined.  So I took a long look at the lumpy, bumpy bed and said, “call if you need help, but don’t leave the room until the bed is made.”  I left, closing the door in hopes of muffling the inevitable “It’s Not Fair” lecture, followed by the nerve-irritating musical performance.
 
It’s a fact of parenting that as soon as you think you’ve got the right answer, you realize you’ve asked the wrong question.
 
It didn’t take long for me to realize I was not hearing the fit I had been certain my son would throw.  In a brief moment of optimism, I wondered if he had actually decided to make the bed. 
 
Quietly, I walked back upstairs and opened the door to his room. 
 
I’m not sure if I really thought I’d see a neatly made bed.  But of course I didn’t.  Nor did I see my son.  Instead, there was an open window, a climbing rope, and a grappling hook attached securely to the bed. 
 
In the brief moments it took to survey the situation and come to the realization that he had climbed out of a second-story window to avoid putting sheets on his bed, I heard the go-kart engine revving up, and the voice of my older daughter behind me.  (It was she who just knew the grappling hook would be the perfect Christmas gift for her younger brother.)  “I saw him on his way down,” she said. 
 
I’m not sure if he thought the go-kart was the fastest getaway, or if he just figured once he was out the window, the stealth portion of the mission was complete.  Either way, I knew it was going to be much easier to make his bed than try to make him come back and do it — that day.
 
But that doesn’t mean he’s worn me down.  I’m not going to change my mind about making the bed.  I’m just going to make sure he puts the grappling hook in its place first.


Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 
More Hallie Bandy articles, click
here.
 
©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 


Aug 29

There are many reasons I’m glad I’m a woman.  Shapewear is not one of them.

 

I’ve known girdles existed since I first glimpsed my Grandma’s.  I was probably 7, standing under the display of Playtex undergarments hanging on her clothesline. She saw me staring in wide-eyed wonder. 

 

The bra was for ‘super droopers,’ she told me. The big, lacy underpants were what ladies wear.  "Ladies, except your mother,” she added, in a scolding sort of way.

 

She was right.  My mother, who attended college in the early ‘60s, was a product of her times.  I don’t think she ever burned a bra, but I know she didn’t wear one unless she had to. 

 

She certainly never wore a girdle.  Ever.

 

My Grandma may have thought they were essential for appropriate dress, but my Mom thought they were restrictive.  Maybe even evil.  She would have none of it.

 

Later, when I was feeling the peer pressure to add some grown-up undergarments to my wardrobe, she rolled her eyes and asked why on earth I thought I needed a bra.  I ended up with hand-me-down training bras from a friend, who was a little further ahead on the development path.  Much to my embarrassment, my Mom announced to the entire family that I had a bra on. 

 

From then on, I never spoke of my underwear.  Aside from my honeymoon — for which I shopped alone — I kept things simple and didn’t give much thought to options beyond the basics.

 

Until suddenly, I needed to. 

 

Because, I’d just had my third child, and there was a wedding coming up.  Nothing in my closet fit as it was supposed to, and I was getting desperate.  I was too stubborn to give up and purchase a dress in a larger size, so I started wondering if one of those girdle things might set things aright.  I decided to find out.

 

My first mistake was taking my young children along to the foundations department.  While they were chasing each other through the underwear racks, I discovered what Oprah was later to name one of her “favorite things:”  SPANX.

 

I averted certain disaster by not trying them on at the store.  Instead, I made the purchase and then took them home for the try-on.  But I had no idea how much potential disaster was there, until later that night when, with kids tucked securely in bed, I opened the package… and paused.  There were no directions, no diagrams.  Just a tiny, shiny, tube of stretchiness.

 

Have you heard the story of how Michelangelo stared at a block of marble for weeks before he began carving it into his famous David?  Well, I left those Spanx draped across my dresser for at least a week before I finally felt brave enough to try them on. 

 

Unlike Michelangelo, I didn’t have any tools to work with.  Only my bare hands and not-nearly-flexible-enough limbs. 

 

Which was enough to get the Spanx on — a worthwhile feat, considering how they transformed my post-baby figure, and allowed me to get into that dress I needed to wear.  But standing there, admiring myself in the mirror, I got a little concerned wondering how on earth I was going to get the thing off.

 

And a few signals from my bladder only added to the urgency. My heartrate rose to cardio-workout pace, and I was dripping with sweat.  Yes, it was sheer panic.

 

Yoga wasn’t as popular back then, but I’m quite certain I was in some sort of inversion position when my husband walked in and, noting my obvious distress, asked how he could help.

 

I paused, though not quite long enough fully embrace horror of the moment.

 

“Leave.  NOW.”

 

There are some jobs in life that are meant for one person, and getting in and out of Spanx is one of them. 

 

“I understand,” he said.

 

But he didn’t.  Because no man could, possibly.   I’m not even sure I understand what mix of emotions and social pressure makes a woman want to stuff herself into undergarments like that, but I know this: nevermind the kidney-stone-equals-birthing pain argument.  Unless a man has ever had to try on a bra, a woman’s swimsuit, or Spanx, he doesn’t understand.  


And won’t.  Ever.

 

Thanks, anyway.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
 

 


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 

Sep 12

For those of us blessed to have a partner in parenting, it’s nice to be able divide duties, especially when one parent is better at handling the task. 

 

My husband and I are fairly well balanced in that respect.  He never seemed to mind rocking a fussy baby, while I was good at diagnosing and remedying the cause of fussing.

 

As our kids got older, I was good at planning indoor activities; he took over outside.  If the weather was cooperating, there were hikes, bon fires, bike rides and sports of all sorts. On a rainy day, I would help them create a fort with blankets and furniture, play a board game, or assemble a puzzle.  When Dad was in charge on a rainy day, entertainment inevitably involved a video screen.   

 

I always knew there was one thing I would never be good at:  managing bodily injury.

 

On one hand, I do well in emergencies.  I think quickly and can come up with good solutions on my toes.  On the other hand, I pass out when I see blood.  Or someone in pain.  Or needles. 

 

Actually, I get queasy when I even think about any of those things.

 

I spent my early years as a parent praying that nothing would happen to my kids – and, if it did, I prayed I wouldn’t have to manage the situation alone.  And God heard my prayer, because right before our second child arrived, my husband took a new job, and his office was located a block from the Children’s Hospital.

 

Which, I had learned  — after a scary experience at an Urgent Care with a straight jacket, long needles and a bleeding, blubbering three-year-old — is where good parents take their injured kids. 

 

After that, all emergency medical needs were directed straight to Children’s Hospital.  When my son cut his head open, my husband met us at the check in and managed the procedure while I didn’t look.  Same when our younger son slammed his tiny finger in a piano bench hinge.  My husband thought the fingernail extraction surgery was “fascinating.”  I just stared at my little boy’s big blue eyes and told him it would be okay.

 

Our kids weren’t particularly accident-prone, so this wasn’t a frequent scenario, but it sure worked well.

 

Until my husband took another job. 

 

And instead of next door, he was an hour from the hospital. 

 

I don’t remember thinking about it when he took the job, but I sure did the day our younger son put his teeth through his bottom lip.  All three kids were home, but none of our neighbors were, so we all piled into the car and headed to Children’s Hospital. 

 

My son screamed the entire trip as his older brother tried to keep a cold compress on the wound.  He finally quit crying as I pulled up to the entrance.  He had fallen asleep. 

 

I entered the ER, carrying the sleeping wounded child in one arm — blood from his gashed lip permanently staining the shoulder of my sweater — holding the hand of my other son, keeping an eye on my daughter and praying I could get through this without passing out. 

 

As we crossed the threshold, my daughter proudly announced that she had been a good helper and locked the car for me.

 

The car that I had left for the free-valet-parking attendant to park. 

 

The car with my keys in it.

 

And so my first solo ER experience involved three kids, six stitches and well-negotiated $25 locksmith fee.  

 

I was feeling pretty proud of myself at dinner that night until my husband started questioning me.  How in the world did the keys get locked in the car?   Was paying a locksmith really the only option?  And how in the world did the kid get hurt in the first place?  Wasn’t I watching him? 

 

Couldn’t I manage anything without him?  He wanted to know.

 

By the time the stitches came out, I had almost forgotten about the ordeal.  And then one day the boys were discussing the event. 

 

“You know,” they prompted my memory:  “That time when Joe did the James Bond jump off the upper bunk.”

 

“James Bond move?” I asked, incredulous.  “How do you know who James Bond is? When did you ever see him do a move?”

 

“Oh, you know that rainy day when you weren’t here?” he replied.  “Dad showed us all the cool James Bond scenes.”

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
 

 


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 

Sep 26

Try as I might to make sure our kids eat well, it proves a constant uphill battle. 

 

One of our sons spent some time with a friend a few days ago, and his behavior was so unusual when he came back, my husband and I were a bit troubled.   I mean, I really don’t have any reason to suspect that this kid would even have access to – much less experiment with – illegal substances, but he was so wound up, I felt I had to ask.

 

And so I did. 

 

“MOM!” he replied, obviously shocked and offended at my insinuation.  “ALL we had was candy, coke and doughnuts,” he explained.

 

Immediately it all made sense.

 

While I’m grateful that my suspicions were as far off-base as I hoped they were, I sometimes wonder if we should be just as concerned about sugar and caffeine consumption.

 

I’ve watched elementary students with a tray of healthy food provided by the cafeteria — macaroni and cheese, applesauce, turkey, fresh fruit cup – eat nothing but the white frosting off the cake intended for a post-meal dessert.  And squirm and fidget for the remaining lunchtime. 

 

Those moments confirm my “Not-A-Teacher” calling.

 

It’s hard enough at our home to limit the amount of sugar and caffeine my kids consume.  Of course, I do occasionally purchase candy and soda — as treats, intended to be consumed infrequently and in small quantities.  But I’ve discovered that means I have to hide it or lock it up.

 

And even then, there are no guarantees.

 

Because my kids love contraband sweets.

 

When they were little, a high shelf worked most of the time.  Although there was the lovely summer evening I put the kids to bed and sat out on the patio for a while.  I didn’t hear anything, but someone obviously heard me as I was coming in, because when I walked into the kitchen, there was a chair in front of the open freezer, and a spoon in the open ice-cream container. 

 

Evidence of their pilfering is everywhere.  Pull out a piece of furniture to sweep, and behold the plethora of empty candy-bar wrappers.  Hike through our woods and note the pop cans conveniently discarded in obscure places.

 

And really, it has just snowballed as the kids learned their sneakiest tactics from each other.  How else would my youngest have learned so much?  Like the time when she was merely three, I found her, standing on the counter, both hands full of the week’s supply of lunch-sized candy bars.  And though her mouth was full of chewy chocolaty goodness, she still managed to tell me, “I need pockets.”

 

I have a friend with seven kids and I have always wondered how she controlled the intake of sweets in her home.  She has a large pantry, but there is no candy in it.  Because, when they built their home, she installed a large backup pantry, which she keeps locked.  By now, most of her kids know where the key is, though.  Which explains why, when she was hosting a bonfire, I couldn’t find the s’mores supplies in either pantry. 

 

They were in the gun safe.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


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Oct 10

I was one of the first of my friends to get married.  In the early years, I remember keeping up with the many wedding invitations, as, one by one, my friends married. 

Then there were the baby years.  Lately, we’re getting graduation announcements, and many of our friends are celebrating precious-metal anniversaries.

Including us.

Over the years, we’ve watched couples celebrate their anniversaries with big trips to amazing destinations or romantic getaways.  But that’s never been our style.

And it’s not because we don’t have anything to celebrate.  Clearly, 25 years and four kids is landmark.  But I just know that when it comes to how we mark the occasion, we won’t win any awards for romance.

I had a few romantic notions early in our marriage.  Somewhere I read the first anniversary was a “paper” anniversary, so I bought my husband a book.  For the second year, a new cotton shirt.  Year three: a leather jacket.   By the “fruit and flowers” anniversary, I realized my husband had entirely missed the memo on anniversary gifts.  And I don’t just mean the memo about year five being the “wood” anniversary.  In truth, I think he was a little surprised that anniversary gifts were expected.  I mean, after all, I had him, right? 

Actually on our second anniversary, I had his brother, too.  That’s right – we invited his brother, flying solo at the time, to join us for an intimate dinner for … three.

Clearly, sappy romance is not our forte.   It’s okay.  There were other reasons I married this guy.  Reasons that matter.  No one can be good at everything, and I’ll trade the mush for a good sense of humor any day.

By our 10th anniversary, I was immersed in the day-to-day care of our two small children and hadn’t given a celebration much thought.  So I was surprised that he did.  A night out!  No kids, nice clothes, good food.  It sounded wonderful. 

And it was.

As we headed home, I was looking forward to enjoying the rest of a quiet evening together, when we came upon a police car with its lights on.  My husband rolled down the window to ask what was going on.  The officer told him someone had hit a deer. 

“It ain’t dead yet; you want the tag?” the officer asked.  And before I could even process what had taken place, my husband had said, “Yes,” and was loading Bambi’s cousin on the hood of our car.

And that is why we arrived home from our 10th anniversary celebration with a mostly dead dear on the hood of our Volkswagon. 

Thank goodness the kids were in bed.

While my husband spent the rest of the evening with our neighbor, who helped him dress the deer in exchange for half the meat — they hung the carcass from a basketball goalpost — I took a hot bath and drank tea.

We enjoyed venison dishes all winter.  And say what you will about celebrating an anniversary.  My husband may not have the edge on romance, but you can’t ever say he doesn’t put food on the table.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


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Oct 24

We recently delivered my daughter — our oldest child — to college. 

 

She chose a college very far from home, so our expedition started a few days early, to allow time to shop for things that we couldn’t transport on the plane.  In the excitement of an early morning, we began our journey in good spirits, but I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy trip.  And not just because we had to say goodbye.

 

I had been warned by parents who have gone before me on this pilgrimage: it is an emotional experience on many levels.  And as these life milestones often do, it reveals parts of our heart that we weren’t necessarily attuned to.

 

For me, the experience offered a panoramic view of life, with me straddling two realms of memories and seeing myself in a new light.

 

I remember clearly when I was my daughter’s age.  My mother was the age I am now. And as I watch my daughter act as I did when I was her age, I have to admit, on some level, I’ve become more like my Mother than I ever thought I would.

 

I was one of those children whose mother — in moments of sheer frustration — spoke the prophetic words: “Someday you’ll have a child just.like.you.” 

 

I do have a child who is like me.  And believe me: I had it coming.

 

But God in his wisdom did not send that child first.  Instead, he gave me a child who is a lot like my mother.

 

My mother and I are opposites.  As a child, when your Mom doesn’t think the way you do, you don’t really process that with the insight you have as an adult; but you understand it innately nonetheless. 

 

I remember light-bulb moment of my early adulthood, when I read how upsetting it is for a perfectionist child when a parent breaks a promise.  Finally, I understood why I was so distraught when my Mom didn’t take me to the park, like she said she would… when I was three.  Or the lingering humiliation from the time the bus had to wait for me, because she couldn’t find my shoes. 

 

And why my elephant-like memory of such events frustrated her.

 

Like most mothers, my mother never intentionally injured me, physically or emotionally; she just sees the world differently than I do. 

 

She was artistic, impulsive.  I liked my life in order.  

 

Her idea of a clean house was closing the door to her room, where she kept the baskets of backed-up laundry.  My idea of clean was spending an entire Saturday in my room, washing down every nook and cranny and putting everything in perfect order. 

 

She bought clothes that didn’t need to be ironed.  I preferred all-cotton fabrics that could be crisply starched while damp.

 

She loved to tell me how, when I grew up and had my own house, I could do things as I wished. 

 

And I did.  I grew up and got my own home, and I had things in order.  Just as I liked.

 

Which is why, I’m convinced, God sent my oldest daughter to our home.  It was like he put a big billboard in my living room that said, “Relax a little.” 

 

Except, I didn’t read it.

 

I spent her childhood trying  — unsuccessfully — to turn her into a mini-me.  I didn’t quite understand her messy tendencies, why she got out of bed head-first and never seemed to be in a hurry.  I scolded her for dawdling and forgetting things.  I tried to give her incentives to perform. 

 

During early years of violin lessons, her teacher suggested I give her an incentive to pass a certain milestone.  I asked her what would be the coolest thing I could buy her, expecting the kind of list that I would have made  – an expensive toy or electronic gadget, something to make the world stand up and take notice.

 

“Fluff,” she replied. 

 

What she meant was, a bag of cotton balls.  For crafts. 

 

Was that all?  After some prodding, she added paper plates and glue to the list. 

 

I bought her off for $5.

 

My mother, who understood her granddaughter’s personality all too well, added some industrial-sized jars of glitter to the collection.  When her toddler brother escaped my attention for too long one day and spilled the jars all over her room, she didn’t cry or demand I replace the supply.  She just stood back and admired the carpet, which, despite my vigorous work with the vacuum, was permanently imbedded with glitter:  “I always wanted a sparkly room,” she said.

 

As she grew older and could better express her opinions, our differences became more apparent.  I said, “classic;” she said, “boring.”  I liked order.  She preferred flexibility.   I justified my well-reasoned beliefs.  Her gracious spirit found common ground amidst the varied personalities around her.

 

When she took AP Psychology her sophomore year, I finally began to understand. 

 

“We took all kinds of personality tests,” she informed me toward the end of the year.   “I’m going to live to be 135.  I’m type B.” 

 

I laughed quietly as I realized I’d spent so many years trying to figure out what made her tick, only to find out that, actually, she doesn’t tick.  She skips.   She loves life; she loves people.  She has no airs with anyone and has been a people magnet since I can remember.  She doesn’t sweat anything.

 

In the final weeks before her departure for college, I reminded her daily of the looming task of packing up her room.  She was much more concerned about spending as much time with friends that she won’t see for awhile than ordering her possessions.  Even the last evening, as she was adding to the already immense stack of boxes, friends stopped by.

 

As she skipped onto campus and into her new home-away-from-home, she had no list, no worries.  And no running shoes.  (“Oh… hey, Mom? Could you ship those?”)

 

I tried to help her get settled.   I remembered how my Mom had tried to get me to do things her way, so I was prepared that my daughter wouldn’t want to do things my way, initially

 

But I thought I could help her put things in order, anyway.  Certainly, my persuasive, logical instructions would help her see that I had the best ideas for arranging her room, opening her bank account, meeting new friends, and all the other details of college life. 

 

And then it happened:  I saw her look at me with the look I remember giving my mother.  

 

That I’m-going-to-do-it-my-way-which-is-not-at-all-your-way look. 

 

And I realized, she was not going to grow up and decide to do things my way.  She was grown up.  She knew herself, and she knew how she wanted to do things.  And it wasn’t my way; it was her way.

 

Her not doing things my way was no more an insult to me than it was to my Mom when I didn’t do things her way.   And me trying to tell her how to do things is no less a loving act than when my Mother offered her advice to me — which I rejected.

 

The beauty of learning to understand and appreciate my daughter is, it has helped me understand my mother, as well.  They both still stress me out with their lack of organization, but I’ve learned to enjoy walking with them at a slower pace, and seeing the world through their less-stressed-out eyes.  And I don’t mind shipping my daughter’s forgotten shoes, or the purse my mother left at my house on her last visit. 

 

It makes me hope my daughter has a kid who’s just like me.  

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


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Nov 21

It didn’t take long after our oldest daughter left for college before her brother took over her room. 

 

In fact, the debate over who was going to get her room started long before she left.  Her little sister campaigned, telling me I wouldn’t have to paint the room if she moved in – she’d be perfectly happy with the hot-pink walls.

 

But, despite extra points for cuteness, she never came close to scoring the coveted real estate.

 

Truth is, I couldn’t wait to separate our boys.  Because, say what you will about building character and learning to get along, my boys have shared a room their entire lives, and it’s been nothing but trouble.

 

I had no idea about this, because, growing up, I had one sister.   Boys were a mystery. 

 

When I was expecting our third child, people would ask if I wanted a girl or a boy.  I would tell them:  “My son would like a brother more than my daughter would like a sister.” 

 

Little did I know.

 

After the second son was born, the first prayed, “Help us be good buddies,” and I would think, “how sweet.”  Trust me — even at the tender age of three, he did not have anything “sweet” in mind. 

 

He needed someone to climb to the top bunk and reach precariously to the ceiling fan to place small objects on the blades, so he could then flip the “on” switch and launch said objects.

 

He also needed a punching bag.  I know, because when we purchased a punching bag for him for Christmas one year, he said, “This is great! Now I don’t have to use Joe.”

 

I’ve thought out loud how my boys are best friends, and best enemies.  “That’s the definition of brothers,” one father commented. 

 

I think he’s right.

 

I mean, when we moved to the farmette, they spent weeks together in the woods, constructing a home-away-from-home for themselves from cardboard boxes and scrap lumber.  And I remember the “unfortunate mishap” involving a sled and a tree, when my older son carried his brother all the way back to the house.

 

But then there were the times they locked each other in the chicken coop. 

 

For a while, my younger son was small enough to crawl out the hen’s door.  Of course, I knew immediately when he’d taken that escape route! (Yes, I made him strip to his skivvies when he did that!)  But it took awhile before I realized why my older son wouldn’t show up for dinner on occasion.  And little brother wasn’t exactly forthcoming about the fact that his brother was locked up with a bunch of fowl.

 

I’d always ask what in the world they were thinking.  And I always get the same response.

 

“I dunno.”

 

It’s their favorite answer.  Like they never think.  Which is ridiculous, because they’re always thinking. 

 

Some of my husband’s most ingenious moments occurred when he hatched plots to bedevil his brother. 

 

Once of his favorite antics was to wait in the hall, arms outstretched, when he heard his brother made a midnight trek to the bathroom.  After the inevitable sissy-scream, my husband would return silently back to bed and tell his brother to quit waking him up with his silly nightmares.  (“What a wimp.”)

 

I ask myself: why would anyone bother to get out of bed for something so ridiculous?  But I get the inkling this stuff is universal for males.  My boys had not even heard that story when they started scaring each other.  The younger was only two when he concocted the brilliant plot to wait under the bed and grab his brother’s ankles when he came in the room. 

 

We thought someone had been shot.

 

And the scaring is just part of the bigger plot to divide and conquer. 

 

When their big sister left, the first territory to conquer was her room.  Now that they all have their own interior space, they focus on who gets the front seat on the way to school.  

 

That’s right, they’re calling shotgun. 

 

Every morning. 

 

Because apparently the rules are, you can’t call it the night before. 

 

I don’t know all the rules to shot gun.  I’ve consulted the official shotgun rules website (http://www.shotgunrules.com), but let’s be honest:  who cares? I just want everyone in the car on time.  But the front seat is now their holy grail, and, as far as my boys are concerned, it’s worth a fist-fight to sit there for the 20 minutes it takes to transport them to school. 

 

At least when they get home, I can send them to their — separate — rooms.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


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Dec 05

I believed in Santa far longer than most of my peers. 

 

Because in my family, it was sacrilege not to believe in Santa.

 

How convenient for my Mom.  For an entire month, my behavior was noted daily on The Calendar.  A red X for a good day; a black X for a bad day, counting down to that Most Wonderful Day of All Days:  Christmas.

 

Oh, how I tried to have at least 13 red Xs.  And to impress Santa we went to see him.

 

Mom would dress us up, curl my hair (my sister has naturally curly hair, just like Peanuts’ Sally Brown), and take us downtown to sit in the lap of “The Real Santa,” along with our cousins.  Afterwards, we’d have lunch, and my older cousin would announce – with a wink to the adults - that she had checked, and this, for sure, was absolutely The Real Santa.  No fake beard on this one.

 

Once I spotted a tell-tale elastic band holding the beard on “Santa’s” face.  My shock and dismay was met with the reassurance that, sometimes, The Real Santa can’t make it, and one of the elves has to sit in.  Perhaps he was sick.  Good behavior from the children of the world would help him feel better.

 

My Grandmother was one of the biggest proponents of the Santa story.  Each year, she would read from the source of all truth, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, an editorial – written by a real grownup, who told the truth – which described, in detail, actual sightings of Santa. 

 

Eventually, I figured out it was all a big behavior-control conspiracy.

 

And it seems funny now, I wanted so badly to believe that I bought all those crazy stories.  Especially since my Grandmother always gave better gifts than Santa.  And also because it was so stinkin’ hard to avoid those dreaded black Xs on the calendar. 

 

But, it was good enough for me.

 

I wish it had been good enough for my kids.  Goodness knows, I tried.

 

From the time they could walk, I dressed up my kids at Christmas and marched them downtown to meet The Real Santa. 

 

My second son’s first trip was his last.  After positioning his two older siblings for the perfect Christmas pose, we placed the toddler gently on Santa’s lap.

 

He let out a blood-curdling scream that had every mother in line putting her hands over her child’s ears. 

 

The camera snapped. 

 

And there we had it.  Daughter smiling, just as she’d been told.  First son, trying to smile as he’d been told, but having a difficult time hiding his concern.

 

And second son:  red-faced, eyes squeezed shut, mouth open so wide you could see his tonsils.

 

My husband and I stopped to examine the photo – and debate whether or not to shell out the $10 for the image, which was, of course, priceless.  It was only a second when we turned around and noticed that he was missing.

 

Everyone in line had been watching us anyway, and noticed the distressed looks on our faces.  All 50 people pointed in the same direction.

 

And there he was, face smushed against the glass in the front window of The Gap, staring out at the crowd, looking just like an elf. 

 

And of course, as soon as we got home, I made sure I marked his calendar with one big, black X on that day.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


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Dec 19

It’s that time of year.  Shopping.  Baking.  Wrapping. 

 

And going to the kids’ holiday band concerts.

 

I’m the daughter of musicians.  I can’t remember a December calendar that wasn’t booked with musical events. 

 

And for my children, playing an instrument is, as we must often remind them, “part of their education until they graduate.” 

 

What I’m sure they don’t realize is, sometimes sitting through a concert makes me question whether I really need to enforce that policy.

 

When our kids were young, they took private lessons, and played in studio recitals given by students well rehearsed by a private teacher, and attended by parents with an appreciation for the fine arts.  Those concerts were marked by repeat performances of Variations on “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” Theme. 

 

But then we entered the world of public school music programs.

 

And required concerts, held three times each year. 

 

In the middle school gymnasium.

 

It’s a whole new world.

 

We enter along with other weary parents, and the dragged-along siblings, sitting impatiently on the bleachers, which have been pulled out for the occasion.

 

It’s a long way from polished recital halls and church sanctuaries, but it’s what we have.

 

Three bands — sixth-, seventh- and eight-grade — seated before us, waiting to share the music they have learned since the last concert.   Music which, given the limited funding for school music programs and the fact that I have more than one child, I have heard before. 

 

I check the program to estimate the length of the concert, and then, I pray a blessing on the band director.  After all, unlike athletic coaches who can select members of their teams and what positions they play, she has no control over who signs up for band.  She has no idea what lack of musical talent lurks behind the eager face of the beginner flutist.  She might suggest that, perhaps, Matilda choose something other than the clarinet, but in the end, she must direct the ensemble as it presents itself.  Including all 20 drummers.

 

(Drums are a good instrument for middle school boys.  I know.  First hand.)

 

The young musicians all adorn their required uniforms:  a golf shirt, nicely embroidered, and black pants, purchased solely for these occasions and obviously never worn at other times.  For many, the inevitable pubescent growth spurt, which occurred after the purchase was made for the fall concert, has transformed the pants into capris for the holiday concert.  White athletic socks complete the look. 

 

Gymnasium acoustics somehow make it nearly impossible to hear the announcements made by the school administration and the band director, but enhance to an almost painful degree the unmistakable squonk of beginner clarinet. 

 

And inevitably, a young sibling escapes the clutches of a well-meaning guardian and performs a dance routine as a side show…

 

More than once, I’ve looked over to see a parent blissfully  - and unmistakably - sporting iPod ear buds.  I look disdainfully to my husband and mouth the words, “That’s bad.”  And he always replies, gesturing to the band, “No, that’s bad.”  I think he’d pull out an iPod himself, if he knew I wouldn’t strangle him with the cords.

 

Of course, that doesn’t keep us from utilizing electronic devices. During the cacophony of one performance by the orchestra, my phone buzzed with a text from a friend, sitting on the opposite side of the auditorium. 

 

“What is the difference between a viola and a cello,” he asked.

 

And before I could reply with what I thought was an obvious answer, he followed up:  “A cello takes longer to burn.”

 

I replayed these scenes in my mind recently as my younger son told me he really wanted to drop band.  It didn’t take me long to rescind my requirement about music being part of his education. He is one of 11 drummers, and I knew the concert could go on without him. And it did.

 

I made the call to the guidance office and had him placed in a different class.

 

Merry Christmas to me!

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


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©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 

Jan 02

This time of year, you can’t get out of the “What’s your new year’s resolution?” conversation.  Judging from television commercials and web ads, losing weight is at the top of many people’s lists. 

 

My new year’s resolutions used to be quests that would turn me into a Martha Stewart protégé.  A really skinny one.  Who was also in good shape.

 

But no more. 

 

It’s not a bad thing to establish new eating and exercise habits.  But, like so many others, my tendency to overeat and skip the daily exercise regimen is usually due to incessant issues of stress and lack of time. 

 

So, I decided made reducing stress and making more time for myself part of my goals for the year.

 

In other words, I avoid things that annoy me and/or waste my time.

 

It started a few years ago, when I decided I would not go to WalMart after Thanksgiving.  This accomplished both goals: more time, less stress.  Because WalMart is a cultural center in our community.  I can’t enter that windowless cement-block cavern without meeting someone I know – which leads to a conversation that wasn’t in the schedule — and buying numerous items I didn’t know I needed.  


I never left that place in a good mood.

 

No more.  My six-week experiment went so well, I never turned back.  It’s been years since I stepped foot inside a WalMart.

 

But why stop there?

 

I quit beating myself up for not keeping up with my Grandmother’s standards of housekeeping.  (They were higher than Martha’s.)  That means I ignore cobwebs until I have time to dust. 

 

I don’t answer my kids’ dumb questions anymore, either.  If they ask where the milk is, I just let them answer the question on their own in the pregnant silence. 

 

I leave a little early in the morning to avoid the morning carpool congestion at my kids’ schools.  They don’t necessarily enjoy getting out of bed five minutes early; it’s their gift to me.

 

If I trip over toys or shoes left out, I place them in the “you’ll have to buy this back” basket.

 

And if anyone asks why, I tell them: I’m avoiding things that annoy me or waste my time.

 

It’s the best diet I’ve ever been on.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


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©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  

 

Jan 16

I remember when my oldest daughter turned 13.

 

I knew it was coming, but, as it goes with many of life’s milestones, I didn’t really have a clue how to prepare. 

 

Despite my fierce determination not to be defined as “mother of a teenage daughter,” you can’t ignore age 13 — the zenith of adolescence.  I tried not to take things too personally, because, as teenagers go, she really didn’t give me much to complain about.  Monosyllabic, yes.  But she did talk. 

 

I must confess, however; despite my best efforts, our shopping experience was completely transformed.  No longer a mother-daughter bonding opportunity, it became an exercise in character building and physical stamina.  For me.

 

I first noticed this new phase looking for her Easter dress – er, ensemble.  It was then I recalled, from the far recesses of my own adolescent memory, the tricky rules to shopping with a teenage girl.  The trickiest part: Mom has to figure the rules out on her own.

 

Trouble is, I’m the Mom.

 

Rule number one is obvious almost immediately:  daughter must not purchase anything from a store whose name is on any article of clothing that Mom owns.   In other words:  if mom has one, it is automatically NOT cool.  The only exception here is if mom splurges on a trendy high-priced item, in which case it will likely be absorbed into the daughter’s wardrobe.

 

Slowly, other rules have come back to me.

 

There must be at least two feet of space between us at all times.  (If no one knows we’re together, that’s better.)

 

If I spot the item, there is no way it is cool, or cute, or in any way desirable.  (This is closely related to rule number one but was sometimes circumvented if I nonchalantly placed an item in an obvious place while my daughter wasn’t looking.  She owns a fabulous little black dress thanks to that tactic.)

 

Another rule: fashion is all that matters.  Price and practicality are completely inconsequential.  When I ask where she’ll wear something, I may as well be speaking Chinese. 

 

Also: every outfit must be completely accessorized. 

 

I’ve managed to learn and follow the rules and we work fairly well together, though we have had our share of mis-buys.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I purchased her track-season sweats.  I do know what she was thinking:  fashion.  Hot pink, slim-fitting fashion.  Neither one of us was thinking, school colors (blue and red), or 40° and rain.   That is, until a dreary Saturday meet, when, through chattering blue lips, she admitted, “I think I need some warm sweats.” 

 

“How hard can this be?” my husband chided me, completely unaware of the numerous times I had made a valiant parental stand for value and practicality. 

 

“I’ll take her,” he said with that it-takes-a-man-to-get-this-done tone.

 

Smiling at his naïve confidence, I concealed my, you’re-gonna-fail certainty when he said they were heading to WalMart.  I nearly laughed out loud imagining the fashion debate in the aisle between intimates and electronics.

 

I tried to fill him in on the rules, but he just brushed it off.  

 

“We’ll be back in an hour,” he assured me.

 

Secretly, I hoped he would experience what I’d endured.  I wanted him to feel my pain.  He’d have more empathy, give me a bigger budget. 

 

But it was nothing like I’d thought. 

 

They came home laughing.  I think someone even said, “Good time.” 

 

The relief that I could check “buy decent sweats” off my list was completely overshadowed by the knock-out blow to my confidence. What in the world had I been doing wrong?   I felt really inadequate.  Could a man actually make the female teenage shopping experience a pleasure?

 

I was too proud to ask them straight-out.  It took several days of nonchalant covert investigation to piece it all together. 

 

“I started to reach toward the pink sweats,” she told me.  “But Dad shouted, ‘NO!’

He handed me the black and gray ones, and I put them in the cart.”

 

“That’s all?” I asked.

 

“Well, then I went and tried on every shoe in the store, even the ugly ones, just to see what they looked like on my feet.”

“Really?” I was trying not to act completely shocked.  “What did Dad have to say?” 

 

“Oh, nothing.  He was looking at guns and ammo.”

 

Of course he was. 

 

This didn’t count as shopping.  Anyone could have thrown a pair of generic gray, size-small sweatpants into a shopping cart.

 

But I do give him partial credit.  He was obeying the two-foot rule.        

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  

Jan 30

There is one brief, blissful moment when I love a snow day: that moment when the cell phone buzzes with the “no school today” text, and I can turn off the alarm, roll over, and avoid the chilly morning air for just a while longer. 

 

I used to love snow days. Used to.  When I was young. 

 

Now I’m a grown up, and I’ve obviously outgrown the childhood art of wasting time.

 

Not that I want to take away from what is every kids’ rite of passage.  There is something magical about being snuggled in a cocoon of warm blankets, and hearing someone in the distant darkness say, “No school today; go back to sleep.”

 

Actually, I often enjoy the time after I make that announcement, too.  A quiet kitchen with a cup of coffee, no grumpy teenagers, and no deadline for anyone to get out the door.

 

But those magical moments are long forgotten by noon, when boredom and chaos reign.

 

Being an Ohio native, I have certain expectations of a snow day.  Like snow.  And winter activities. 

 

The Kentucky version just doesn’t cut it. 

 

Actually, Kentucky has two variations of the snow day. 

 

We have ice-storm snow days, which involve major power outages, impassable roads, and general mayhem.  They are miserable. 

 

I’ve lived through two major ice storms since we moved here.  One with electricity, and one without.  What I’ve learned is, when you hear the forecast and see that big green mass moving slowly across the radar map, pack up the car and flee!  Head south

 

I started to do just that prior to the last ice storm, and my husband talked me out of it.  Then, after the third day with no electricity, he said, “This would have been so much easier if it was just me and the dog.” 

 

Enough said.  Next time it will be just him and the dog.  I promise.

 

Kentucky also has legitimate snow days.  Except, Kentucky doesn’t get legitimate snow.  A light dusting is enough to close schools, but as any real-winter aficionado will tell you, it’s not enough to enjoy any wonderful winter activities – sledding, building a snow fort or a snow man, or skiing.  Heck, you usually can’t even make a decent snowball. 

 

More often than not, it all melts before noon.

 

By the end of our first winter here, after way too many days housebound with rambunctious kids, I told my husband: “One more snow day and I’m taking the kids — and the Visa card —  to Chuck E. Cheese!”

 

And I made a mental note: Mom needs a snow-day plan.

 

There have been winters when a snow day eluded us.  One year, having had no snow days by President’s day, the sign at one school read, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” Someone added, “Pretty please.”

 

Those are the nights my children solemnly turn their pajamas inside out, perform the snow dance and pray, “Let there be a snow day.”

 

I get so caught up in their hope and expectation, I forget all about that snow-day plan.

 

Until everyone meanders into the kitchen around 10 a.m.  How can something so anticipated become so miserable so quickly?

 

Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids, and enjoy spending time with them. But in the context of our everyday lives, we all have jobs. The kids’ job is: go to school. Which also means: get out of my way while I’m doing my job.

 

Not so on a snow day.  

 

As the manager of a normally pretty-well-run and very busy family, I suddenly find myself with a big hole in the agenda, and a bunch of kids looking at me saying, “Now what?”

 

And this is when that childhood art of blowing time could come in handy.  My idea of how to spend this unexpected gift of free time is so different from my kids’.  I think: clean, organize, accomplish. They think: goof off, annoy, pillage. 

 

Obviously, we’re going in opposite directions.

 

The boys go straight outside to the shady corner of the yard where the snow hasn’t yet melted. Snowman? Ha! Throw snowballs at your sister’s bedroom.  See if she’ll yell enough to steam up her window.  Or better yet, maybe she’ll open the window to scream at you to “stop,” and you can lob one so it lands on her bed.

 

Then see if your brother will fall for that old trick: “Is this snowball as big as your face?  Come here, let me see ….”  

 

A snow day can raise the art of whining to new levels for girls. Why can’t we gooooo shoooooooping?

 

Meanwhile, an entire candy supply can be wiped out during a brief absence from the kitchen.  (The culprit is easily identified. Two words: sugar high.)

 

By lunchtime — which, on a snow day is around 2 p.m. — chaos reigns.  Underwear hangs from the satellite dish, the dog’s toenails have been polished, there are several modge-podge projects drying on the dining-room table, the youngest is on her fourth Disney princess movie, and I’m afraid if I attempt to break up another fist fight, I might be the one who gets hurt.

 

It’s at this point I decide physical activity would do everyone a world of good.  I also realize, thanks to my practical approach to the “mild Kentucky winter,” we are lacking decent winter gear.  So, we venture out to the local gym, where I can lock the boys in a racquetball room or let them work out their differences on the basketball court. 

 

Somehow, I manage to forget all this frustration when the alarm goes off and they have to go back to school.  There’s a twinge of sadness.  Kind of like I’m sad on the first day of school. Sad that I was ever annoyed to have my kids underfoot. Sad that I didn’t have the good sense to appreciate the time with them.   

 

And sad I won’t get to enjoy going back to sleep for a bit.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  

Feb 28

In our family, the math aptitude genes appear to have gone to a single child.  The rest of us, like so many other right-brained people, struggle with numbers.

 

Although, I must brag a little bit.  I am really good at logic.  Aced it in college, in fact.  Which was a very fortunate thing since it was a math credit.

 

Thing is, the older I get, the more I realize how useful math can be.  On a daily basis, I use algebra and geometry in practical ways.  Not to mention statistics, which I never even really studied.

 

But, there is another branch of math, not taught in school, which I use every day.  I’ve had to learn it as I go along.

 

I call it Mom Math. 

 

It never adds up.  And it will drive a logic buff crazy.

 

If you doubt me, here is a quick test to see if you have Mom Math Skillz.

 

 

1) It’s been four days since I washed underwear.  After washing all the dirty clothes in the laundry room, there is no underwear in my son’s clean laundry pile.  How long is he wearing one pair of underwear?

A – 4 days

B – 8 days

C – 1 day

Correct answer:  C. 

There are six dirty pair under his bed.

 

 

2) There are two parents and four children in our family: How many socks do we launder each week?

A – 84

B – 112

C – 111

Correct answer: C. 

Some kids require a fresh pair of socks for workouts (I’ll write about that in another column).  And there is always — always! — a sock missing.

 

 

3) I bought 65 candy bars.  Four kids will each pack a lunch every day.  How long will the candy last?

A – 3 weeks

B – 3 days

C – 3 hours

Correct answer: C. 

(See my column, Revenge of the Candy Snitchers.)

 

 

4) Two children go to the grocery store with my last $10.  They are supposed to purchase a half-gallon of milk for about $2.50.   The grocery store is a five-minute drive.  How long until they get home?  How much change will they bring me?

A – 15 minutes, with $7.50 in change

B – 20 minutes, with $5.00 in change

C – 2 hours, with no change

Correct answer:  depends on which two children.  (Yes, this was a trick question.)  But you can bet the longer they are gone, the less money they will return with.

 

 

5) I have four children.  If each child is assigned two nights each week to do dishes, how many nights will I have to do the dishes?

A – 0

B – 2

C – 7

Correct answer:  If you’re thinking, “none of the above,” that’s probably right.  There are so many legitimate excuses to escape dish duty, it will be years before this system works as it should.

 

 

6) We’re having a birthday party for one of our kids.  We post the event on Facebook and send out printed invites.  There are 34 replies on Facebook.  Two people call and say they will come.  How many people come to the party?

A – 36, Maybe

B – 60, Maybe

C – 24, Maybe

Correct Answer: Any of the above.

I’ll lose count, anyway.

 

 

7) How many pets does a family with four children need?

A – One per person

B -  One per household

C – One of each species

Correct Answer: Take your youngest child to PetsMart when the Humane Society is there and see if they have any cute kittens.  (At least, that’s the answer our family uses.)

 

 

8) Family road trip!  Mapquest says the route should take eight hours.  Allowing time for stops, if we leave at 8 a.m., what time will we arrive?

A – 5 p.m.

B – 8 p.m.

C – There is no way we will ever leave at 8 a.m.  EVER.

Correct Answer:  C. 

Actually, the best answer is, tell your husband you’re leaving two hours before you really want to get on the road. 

 

 

9) By the time I’ve mothered my kids from infancy through college and beyond, how much will my accumulated in back pay and bonuses be worth?

 

We all know the correct answer — it’s obvious and sappy: priceless.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing. She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  


 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  


 

 

Mar 13

Growing up, I remember “that Mom” in our neighborhood.  You know whom I’m talking about.  The entire neighborhood knew the names of all her children — and the dog, too.  You knew when it was time for dinner, when it was time to go to somewhere … and you definitely knew when someone had crossed her.

 

There was one in my neighborhood, and it seemed there was one in all my friends’ neighborhoods, too.

 

I vowed never to be “that mom.” 

 

Living in the country, though, I must admit I have sometimes heard the echo of my own voice reverberating through the back hollar.  It’s not a pleasant sound.  And I remind myself, “Don’t be that Mom.” 

 

I learned to whistle loudly enough to get anyone’s attention within a quarter mile.  And I installed a bell.  But I still found myself calling, occasionally.

 

But then, texting came to our family.

 

I’m usually an early adopter, but I didn’t take to texting right away.  Much to my children’s dismay.   They begged and begged and begged.  I’m quite sure for some time we were the only family on the planet without a texting plan.

 

It didn’t help that my daughter wracked up a $600 bill the first month she had a cell phone.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay – her new plan offered a complimentary month of unlimited texting – but I couldn’t imagine why we needed to encourage that.

 

Eventually, though, the constant badgering wore me down and we got an unlimited texted plan.

 

And that’s when the fun started.  For me.

 

Because the deal with the unlimited texting family plan is, I get to text my kids.  And I quickly realized that it comes in quite handy.

 

No more calling everyone for dinner, trying to project my voice through closed doors.  No more trips upstairs to tell them to turn down their music, or quit fighting, or wake up …

 

One simple text takes care of it.

 

Really.  I like it. 

 

And the phone bills prove it.  I regularly have the highest number of texts on our unlimited plan.

 

Which drives my kids nuts.

 

Because while they have no problem answering numerous texts from an ever-growing contact list, the best I can get is a “K.”

 

I’m told I don’t “get it” when it comes to the lingo.  For instance, as you probably know, because everyone in the world except me knows, “Y” in text-talk, means “why,” not “yes.”  That can lead to misunderstandings.

 

“R U Coming to get me?”

“Y”

“BC its cold & rainy.”

“Y.  I know.”

 

My husband is even worse. 

“Thanks.  <3 U,” I text.

“<3 U?  What is that?” he replies.

 

Like most families, we also had to sort out when texting is appropriate – for the kids.  The obvious no-texting-at-the-table policy has been fine-tuned; you also may not leave the table in order to text. 

 

I also had to curtail the after-school texting.  As soon as class was dismissed, I would receive a text:  “where RU?”  And while I wanted to text back, “Where do you think?” I couldn’t.  Because I was driving.  Of course.

 

I mean really.  In all the years our kids have gone to school, only one has been forgotten.  Ever.  I don’t need them to text me to remind them that I’m supposed to pick them up.

 

But I do need to text them. 

Pls bring me a hot cup of tea. 

I left my book in the car.  Pls get it for me. 

Pls take the dog out.

 

And then there are those amazing Mom moments when you spot your kid in a crowd across the gym and you can text, “Who is that girl?”  Or,  “Pull your pants up.  I can see your polka-dot boxers from here.”

 

At least the message is concealed on a digital screen and not broadcast through the neighborhood.

 

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing. She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  


May 08

Last week, I watched a man in a check-out line balance a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates and a 12-pack of Bud Light. 

 

In preparation for Mother’s Day. Obviously.

 

There are signs everywhere:  “Just what Mom wants,” and “Don’t forget Mother’s Day.” 

 

We all know Mothers’ and Fathers’ days are holidays created as money-makers for card companies.  It has to be that way.  Because children would never initiate Mothers’ Day on their own.  Which leaves it to husbands, who have a reputation for being dense. 

 

Also, they have a difficult time spending money on things they find expensive, delicate... and useless. 

 

Which is exactly what most women want.

 

Despite the awkwardness of gift selection, I think it’s kinda nice that kids get pressured to say “thanks” once a year.  And it doesn’t hurt to give adults a lifetime to make-up for being ungrateful.  By definition, good Moms do things that prompt the opposite of gratitude:  tell you to clean up your room and blow your nose, ask if you flushed and washed your hands, remind you to change your socks and underwear, and ask embarrassing questions about members of the opposite sex.

 

Until you grow up, move out and wise up.

 

Erma Bombeck famously advised, “Spend at least one Mother's Day with your respective mothers before you decide on marriage. If a man gives his mother a gift certificate for a flu shot, dump him.”

 

I didn’t have that luxury.  My in-laws lived in another country.  But I should have had a clue when my husband told me he didn’t send a card because, “They don’t celebrate Mother’s Day in Germany.”

 

Now don’t judge just yet.  Because he’s a foodie, so he “gets” the chocolate thing.  I can always count on a good stash of some sort of chocolaty goodness from my gang.

 

Beyond that, he knows the weakness he shares with most men.  So he asks what I want.

 

Thing is, I want him to know what I want.  

 

It’s the universal conundrum for most men.

 

Which is why the stores put the signs out.

 

And why men buy chocolate, flowers … and beer.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.


 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Jul 31

I was one of the first of my friends to get married.  In the early years, I remember keeping up with the many wedding invitations, as, one by one, my friends married. 

Then there were the baby years.  Lately, we’re getting graduation announcements, and many of our friends are celebrating precious-metal anniversaries.

Including us.

Over the years, we’ve watched couples celebrate their anniversaries with big trips to amazing destinations or romantic getaways.  But that’s never been our style.

And it’s not because we don’t have anything to celebrate.  Clearly, 25 years and four kids is landmark.  But I just know that when it comes to how we mark the occasion, we won’t win any awards for romance.

I had a few romantic notions early in our marriage.  Somewhere I read the first anniversary was a “paper” anniversary, so I bought my husband a book.  For the second year, a new cotton shirt.  Year three: a leather jacket.   By the “fruit and flowers” anniversary, I realized my husband had entirely missed the memo on anniversary gifts.  And I don’t just mean the memo about year five being the “wood” anniversary.  In truth, I think he was a little surprised that anniversary gifts were expected.  I mean, after all, I had him, right? 

Actually on our second anniversary, I had his brother, too.  That’s right – we invited his brother, flying solo at the time, to join us for an intimate dinner for … three.

Clearly, sappy romance is not our forte.   It’s okay.  There were other reasons I married this guy.  Reasons that matter.  No one can be good at everything, and I’ll trade the mush for a good sense of humor any day.

By our 10th anniversary, I was immersed in the day-to-day care of our two small children and hadn’t given a celebration much thought.  So I was surprised that he did.  A night out!  No kids, nice clothes, good food.  It sounded wonderful. 

And it was.

As we headed home, I was looking forward to enjoying the rest of a quiet evening together, when we came upon a police car with its lights on.  My husband rolled down the window to ask what was going on.  The officer told him someone had hit a deer. 

“It ain’t dead yet; you want the tag?” the officer asked.  And before I could even process what had taken place, my husband had said, “Yes,” and was loading Bambi’s cousin on the hood of our car.

And that is why we arrived home from our 10th anniversary celebration with a mostly dead dear on the hood of our Volkswagon. 

Thank goodness the kids were in bed.

While my husband spent the rest of the evening with our neighbor, who helped him dress the deer in exchange for half the meat — they hung the carcass from a basketball goalpost — I took a hot bath and drank tea.

We enjoyed venison dishes all winter.  And say what you will about celebrating an anniversary.  My husband may not have the edge on romance, but you can’t ever say he doesn’t put food on the table.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regularShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2011

Sep 12

I don’t shop at WalMart.  I can give you a host of reasons, but it probably all boils down to the fact that I don’t like buying my underwear and groceries at the same place.

 

Trouble is, it’s so darn convenient to pick up that six-pack of cotton briefs.  The packaging certainly makes you think that the product meets the minimum fashion and comfort requirements.  And, it’s right there.   Ready to throw in the cart, along with the other necessities of life, like school supplies and chocolate.

 

Shopping for good underwear requires a more focused expedition.  And, let’s face it: when life gets busy, underwear shopping inevitably ends up on the bottom of the to-do list. While the wrong shoes can create a fashion nightmare — or worse yet, shin splints or ingrown toenails — uncomfortable underwear can be tolerated if you manage to stay in the same position for an extended length of time.  And, while you’ll likely get a sideways glance if you wear the wrong dress to an uppity party, no one checks to see if you have the latest in underwear fashion. 

 

But I’ve found out:  that’s what friends are for.

 

Awhile back, a friend spent a few days at a mutual friend’s house.  Apparently, the hostess’s well-intentioned offer to do some laundry revealed a shocking secret:  our friend had succumbed to impulse buying at her local Mart.  Yes, she owned — and obviously wore — granny briefs. 

 

The revelation was followed by incessant teasing and giggling, and then a guided tour of the Bloomingdale’s foundations department, where some very fine DKNY panties were purchased — as a gift. 

 

Because, friends don’t let friends wear granny pants.

 

Perhaps I should have taken heed to the implied warning, and packed a little more carefully when I went to visit the same friend.  While I can honestly say I didn’t have any granny pants, I have to admit, it had been awhile since I’d taken the time to shop.  Inevitably, the kind offer to do some laundry revealed a few tattered undergarments, and, not long after, I found myself browsing the lingerie department with my friend.  As it happened, my daughter was along, which just compounded the embarrassment. 

 

At their insistence, and against all my preconceived ideas, I agreed to try a new-to-me style of underwear.  I honestly couldn’t understand how the store could charge what that tiny piece of fabric cost, but my daughter and friend both insisted nothing is more comfortable. 

 

I brought home the new skivvies and, throwing every tightly wound notion of propriety out the window, tried them on.  I had no idea how comfortable thongs actually are.  Really.

 

How do you adequately thank a friend for buying you a thong?  This was not on my mother’s list of “Nice Things to Do for a Friend.”   Or maybe it was, and she just didn’t let me in on the secret.

 

Along life’s journey, we get so busy, we resort to the easiest solutions — a six-pack of underwear on our way from the produce aisle to frozen foods.  A good friend will remind us: comfort matters, and taking care of personal details is a good thing.

 

Last week, my daughter went shopping for a friend of hers who is headed off to college.  She called me from the mall.  “I bought her a really cute thong,” she told me, giggling. 

 

She knows how to be a friend.


Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regularShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.





©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010


Sep 25
It’s true. God often answers prayers in ways we never imagined.
 
People look at my fourth child, who is six years younger than her next sibling, and assume that she was a “surprise.”  But really, she was an answer to prayer.
 
It just wasn’t the kind of prayer you might expect. 
 
We didn’t pray we would be able to conceive.  We didn't have to.  It was never an issue for us.  I married young, so we waited several years to start our family.  But once we started, I had two children in less than three years.  Those two broke us in pretty easily, so we were naïve enough to think we must be doing something right, and thought we should have more.
 
Of course, when things are so well balanced – two parents, two kids; two boys, two girls -  there doesn’t seem to be a “right” time to add a third child.    I started asking friends, why they had only two kids, or when they decided to add the third…  and I got plenty of interesting answers.  One friend said, “I just knew, when we sat down to dinner, someone was missing.”
 
Ironically, as I was trying to decide when to have that third child, I realized that what I thought had been a really bad case of stomach flu was really morning sickness.
 
Yup, I was pregnant. 
 
Even though I hadn’t planned it. 
 
These things happen.
 
Surprise!
 
And then the third child arrived.   And nothing was ever the same.
 
Due to a miscommunication in scheduling, my midwives were both going to be out of town the weekend before he was due.  “Go home and put your feet up,” were my instructions.  And, I followed them.  I promise I did.
 
But then, my water broke.
 
And two hours later, child number three arrived.  That’s right, zero to baby in two hours.
 
I made it to the delivery just in time for the nurse to scream, “I need a doctor NOW.”  Apparently whoever was handling admitting that morning sensed the urgency and told my husband he could fill out paperwork later.  So he arrived, breathless, in time to greet our son, cut the cord, and tell me, “Don’t ever do this to me again.”
 
As if I was planning a repeat event.
 
And that’s when the fun began.  If you want to call it that.
 
Three kids under the age of five is a stretch for anyone, and when one of the kids is “one of those kids,” it’s enough to make anyone question her sanity on a daily basis.
 
Our third child cried louder, slept less, took more risks, and knew how to push everyone’s buttons.   He climbed out of his crib before most kids can sit up.  And when he climbed out, he wreaked havoc – or hid.  Which meant that, post nap-time, I either had to clean up a mess, or locate a baby.
 
He disappeared in public, too.  Our entire church was on lock-down one Sunday because I turned my head at the wrong moment.  Fortunately, after 30 long minutes, we realized no one had taken him.  He had just decided to go wait for the rest of the family where we had hung our coats (which, in our large church, was the equivalent of a football field away).  But he didn’t tell us.  He wasn’t talking – yet. 
 
When he did finally start talking, it was primarily a tool to instigate more trouble.  Or express his very firm opinions. 
 
Being a stay-at-home Mom can be lonely and desperate at times, particularly when there is still a nap schedule to keep — or deal with when it’s not kept.  Everything requires extra effort, the to-do list never ends, and any “me time” is often spent asleep.  There are certainly intangible rewards, and priceless moments of family bonding that I would never trade.  But for most of us, giving up the second salary means we aren’t able to afford some of the luxuries that would make up for the long days – and nights - of thankless tasks.
 
I remember thinking a medically induced coma sounded like a vacation. 
 
At some point, I stood in my living room, and prayed, aloud: “God, don’t ever let me forget what it is like to have little kids.”
 
Maybe it was the day the bean-bag chair exploded and the electromagnetically charged pellets went everywhere.  Or maybe it was another incident with diaper contents.  Or the up-teenth call to poison control. 
 
I don’t exactly remember the circumstances, but I remember that prayer, feeling alone with a mess, determined that I would do my best to help young mothers, once my own kids grew up.
 
But that doesn’t mean I’ve always remembered that prayer.  The memory of that day was tucked neatly away with the toys, crib and baby equipment that I was, for some reason, determined to use, just one more time.  Trouble was, I didn’t have any cooperation.  I would mention a fourth kid, and my husband would say, “You have one who is the equivalent of four.  Isn’t that enough?”

No birth control is quite as effective as the presence of young children.  Anyone's, really.  But especially your own.
 
Someone was missing from our table, though, and I knew it. 
 
And, after five years, I managed to wear my husband down.
 
And so we have our youngest.  And a fresh reminder that sometimes leaving the house is far more complicated than it should be.  That life is messy. That Moms of young children need help and encouragement.
 
A reminder that I asked God not to let me forget.
 
Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 
More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  
©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  
©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. ShareWIK does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information, please read our Additional Information, Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

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Elaine Taylor-Klaus, teaches how to make life extraordinary.
rWorld
Dale Kuehne explores developing a world where relationships come first, and recognizes that individual health and fulfillment is connected to the quality of our relationships.
Teacher Feature
School teacher Margaret Anderson will provide insight into what really happens with your child in the classroom.
The Power of Grief
Diane Snyder Cowan specializes in grief therapy to help those in need deal with loss.
Jan Jaben-Eilon Cancer is Not Me and I Am Not My Cancer
My name is Jan Jaben-Eilon and I am an ovarian cancer survivor. I don’t like the expression, battling with cancer. I am living my life as fully and passionately as possible, despite the cancer. Cancer is NOT my identity.

Latest Activity

posted a new blog entry Are You Up for the Job of Caregiver?.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry When does Sex End?.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry Obesity brings on a variety of health issues.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry Getting the marriage license.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry Praying for Theo.
4 years ago