My brother and I never didn’t bicker.

June 25, 2012 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

Today is my little brother’s birthday. Jeff is 35. Woohoo!

Here’s what I need for you to know about Jeff:

Jeff pooped his pants a lot when he was younger.

Like, Jeff pooped his pants ’til he was 17. Or maybe just ’til he was 6. It’s hard to say for sure; time was all wonky when I was a kid.

My mom told me not to make fun of my brother for pooping his pants. She also told me to be nice to him and to share my stuff with him and to include him in games with my friends, so she was pretty much irrational all the way around.

My mom said Jeff’s pants pooping problem was caused by food allergies which made his poops impacted or loose or loosely impacted so it just fell out of his po-po and that it wasn’t his fault.

(It’s important to note here that “po-po” is what we called butts in my house growing up because only people with poor manners said the word butt.)

(Also, I still have an almost irresistible urge to apologize to my mother and to Jesus when I say butt even though I’m a grown-up.)

(Sorry, Mom and Jesus.)

Anyway.

When my brother was young and had that poop-popping-out-of-the-po-po problem, my mom fed him buckets of Metamucil and giant vitamins from a plastic, seven-day vitamin dispenser, and she said I should have compassion for Jeff. I thought Jeff should stop pooping his pants all the time. We lived with that impasse for years.

In addition to the poop, there was the pee. (Isn’t that always the way?)

From 1977 until Forever, Jeff had a queen-sized dark green blankie made out of slippery nylon fabric. All of its cotton batting came loose in 1977-½ and gathered in one spectacular, fused lump in the corner, so the blanket was just two pieces of slick nylon with a nice, hard sphere which was especially good for whacking irritating big sisters. Jeff’s blankie smelled of rancid urine. I know the smell existed ’round-the-clock because I regularly snuck into his room after bedtime to ask him to forgive me for being so rotten to him all the time. I knelt by his bed night after night, smelling the pee as penance while I told Sleeping Jeff that I was sorry.

It was a complicated relationship.

There was poo. There was pee. There was crying. And there was fighting.

Oh my word, the FIGHTING.

Jeff and I bickered all growing up. All. Growing. Up.

In other words, Jeff and I never didn’t bicker.

The other mommies and daddies in our friend group used us as the penultimate example of How Not To Behave. When the other kids got bickery, their folks whispered in their ears that they were acting like Beth and Jeff. “You’re acting just like Beth and Jeff!” they said. And the kids’ eyes went round with horror and they shaped right up.

True story.

When my dad speaks of Jeff’s and my childhood, he uses the word despair.

Heh heh.

My mom told Jeff and me that someday we’d be best friends. “Someday,” she said, “you’ll be best friends.” It was like Chinese water torture. I think she said it half to brainwash us into believing it was true and half because my mom is an unreasonable optimist when it comes to her children.

In conclusion, never underestimate a mom with mad brainwashing skillz and unreasonable optimism.

Happy Birthday, Jeff!

I love you love you love you.

Also,
CONGRATULATIONS
on not pooping your pants or smelling like rancid urine anymore.

You rock.

……….

P.S. Jeff and I continue to speak Mockery as our primary Love Language. Jeff’s gorgeous and kind wife, Kim, has only a sister and no brothers and despairs of ever understanding this brother/sister dynamic. Jeff and Kim are raising a girl and two boys. If you can help assuage Kim’s bro/sis confusion with your own sibling stories, do share.

………

P.P.S. This chat just happened:

Me: Dude.
Jeff: What’s up?
Me: It’s June 25th. Today’s the day Michael Jackson died.
Jeff: I know.
Me: IT’S ALREADY BEEN 3 YEARS!
Jeff: We should have a moment of silence for MJ.
Me: His musical legacy is really important.
Jeff: Seems like just yesterday.
Me: I had posters. And Billy Jean Is Not My Lover is SO TRUE.
Jeff: Not black, not white? A message for this, and really, every generation.
Me: YES.
Me: Also, it’s your birthday.
Me: So I’ve written some reminiscences of our childhood. The blog post starts, “Jeff pooped his pants a lot when he was younger.” K? K. Glad we had this talk. Love you. Bye.
Jeff: WAIT! It’s also the birthday of Ricky Gervais.
Me: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ricky!
Jeff: Love you, too.

And that is what I’m talkin’ about, folks.

……….

Backward is the New Forward: Thoughts on Poo

June 11, 2012 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

“Uuhhh, Jeff?” I asked my brother pointedly, “Do you know that your kid’s got his pajamas on backward?”

I dunno; it didn’t seem like a completely stupid question at the time even though my kids wear crap backward all the time. Like hats. And pants. And pajamas. And attitudes. And actual crap. 

And it’s not that I care that stuff’s on backward. Anyone who’s spent 25 minutes with my family knows that.

It’s just that my brother and his wife are more fastidious than me. More organized. More disciplined. More apt to, you know, have kids who stay in their chairs while they eat and pick up their toys and keep their boogers to themselves. They’re just… nice, polite kids, and Jeff and Kim are… consistent, disciplined parents. Which is annoying, but what can you do?

In short, I have certain expectations of Jeff and Kim, and kids wearing pajamas backward isn’t one of them. (Psst… let this be a lesson to those of you who teach your kids manners and good behavior more often than just remedially; people will expect you to keep it up.)

Kim, though, had foot surgery a few days ago, and she’s been laid up in bed with waves of pain and narcotics ever since, leaving Jeff to manage the household on his own. “The household” equals three kids aged three and under, which neatly explains Jeff’s pilfering of her narcotics and washing them down with smuggled moonshine. (I KID. Everyone knows that stolen narcotics should never be taken at the same time as contraband liquor. Sheesh.) When I saw the backward jammies, I thought that, maybe, without the mama there to ensure the following of the rules, Jeff had become a tad lax. A bit lazy. A touch less like his wife and more like his sister.

😀

And, in true Big Sister fashion, I thought it my duty to point out my brother’s shortcomings. Some like to call this Rubbing It In. I like to call it Gettin’ My Judgy On.

“Uuhhh, Jeff?” I asked my brother pointedly and maybe a little smugly, “Do you know that your kid’s got his pajamas on backward?”

And Jeff replied that, yes, in fact, he did know, and also that the pajamas were backward on purpose, and also that the zipper could hardly zip itself up the kid’s back so, um, doy, and also lots of stuff about “POOP, Beth. It’s because of all the POOP and the smearing of the POOP and the playing in the POOP and the general affinity of a two-year-old boy for his super cool POOP.

OH! Whoops; I really shoulda known. I mean, come on. Have five kids taught me nothing? Did I forget the toddler years so quickly? I really should have known.

In the writing of this, I couldn’t remember exactly what Jeff said (although all of the “POOP, Beth” moments were sweetly reminiscent of our myriad childhood heart-to-heart conversations if you add “you’re a” before the word “POOP,” and the word “head” right after it), so I asked for Jeff’s help with the remainder of this blog post. I thought it might be instructive.

So, without further ado, here’s the part of the post where Jeff explains the method behind the backward madness and also makes his sister proud by intuitively understanding that there are times when POOP simply must be capitalized (that’s right, Jeffy – that’s right) :

Our middle child (faithful to his gender) insists on getting his hands down his pants at any opportunity possible. He doesn’t allow minor nuisances to dissuade him, such as, oh I don’t know… the presence of POOP. In fact, if anything, the poop seems to remind him that there are happenings down there. There’s stuff going on. Stuff I WANT MY HANDS ON. Poop has taught him how to undo clasps, unbutton buttons and unzip zippers.

If only poop could teach him something productive. Like doing the dishes. Or mowing the lawn. (Come on, Poop. Help me out!)

And so, after the 3rd morning IN A ROW of having to clean up a nice, even coating of poop spread all over the child and his room, desperation set in. We thought about safety pins, but once poop teaches him to open them, there will be nothing “safe” about them.

My solution was going to involve a system of strategically interlaced zip ties (…oh, it would have worked…), but luckily, my wife is smarter than I am.  She asked a simple question: “Can he reach a zipper running down his back?” 

No. No he can’t.

Take that, POOP.

And that, friends, is how Backward became the new Forward.

Which seems like an appropriate development in parenting where Night is the new Day.

And Dirty is the new Clean.

And “Dear God, what happened to my life?” is the new Five Year Plan.

In conclusion,

Take that, POOP.

Love,
Beth (and Jeff)

The End.

……….

My Niece, My Prodigy

April 20, 2012 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

My niece: I want french fries.

Her dad: Well, I want good listeners.

My niece: But Daddy, we HAVE french fries.

…..

My little brother, Jeff, is a daddy.

Jeff and Kim have three kids.

Their kids are aged 3, 2 and almost 1.

That’s three kids aged 3 and under.

Three kids aged 3 and under is slightly less overwhelming than three kids aged 2 and under, which is what they had a few months ago.

FYI, “slightly less overwhelming” in this context is like how drowning in a lake is slightly less overwhelming than drowning in an ocean.

Or maybe I’m projecting.

Anyway.

Three kids! In less than three years!

Jeff and Kim did not have trouble with fertility like Greg and I did.

Jeff doesn’t like it when I talk about fertility.

Talking about fertility is kind of like talking about sex.

And, if I understand my brother’s position correctly from our last one hundred thousand conversations about sex, “OH MY WORD, Beth, HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU NOT TO TALK ABOUT SEX IN FRONT OF ME?”

😀

I spent years – years, you guys – getting my Ph. D. in driving my brother insane. I conducted research. I ran thousands of experiments. I devised daily strategies for mental torture.

All of which was Jeff’s fault. For, you know, being born. And especially for always putting his finger just barely on my side of the boundary line in the car which I think we can all agree was heartless, and, well, crossing a line. Say what you like about peaceful resolutions and respecting others and choosing mercy, sometimes brothers must be punished. And if the parents aren’t going to do it, well, what’s a righteous sister to do?

Now, I admit, sometimes I took my teasing just a touch too far and I had to sneak into his room in the middle of the night and wake him up and beg him to forgive me because if I died in my sleep I was for sure going straight to Hell with all of the other Meany McMeanpants big sisters.

But whatever. I’m totally a grown-up now, so I’ve put my childish ways behind me. I have turned over a new sibling leaf. I am, officially, an adult. And adults are mature.

I no longer condone teasing of any kind, because teasing is mean and destructive. And never hilarious.

And that’s exactly why, when my brother posted this exchange with his 3-year-old daughter on his Facebook page…

My niece: I want french fries.

My little brother, her father: Well, I want good listeners.

My niece: But Daddy, we HAVE french fries.

…I did not wet myself laughing.

And I did not say to my computer, “Go, Niece!”

And I did not mentally bow my head in a moment of respectful silence and then pass the Torture Torch to her with much fanfare and pride and a gigantic bowl of imaginary candy.

My niece is 3 years old.

She’s going to live at home for AT LEAST the next 15 years.

With her father.

Who is my brother.

😀

…….

The Baby Fell Out!

May 14, 2011 in Family by Beth Woolsey

The baby fell out!

Into the waiting arms of a doctor.  Just as planned.  But still.  It felt very dramatic.

Look what Jeff and Kim made.

Aw.

They done good.

So good.

This very proud auntie is happy to introduce you to my newest nephew.

Congratulations to Jeff, Kim and the baby’s big sister and big brother!

AND ALSO TO ME!  The new auntie.

We’re all so very happy that the little man finally made his appearance.  None more happy than his mama and daddy, of course, but I like to think I’m up there on the joy scale.

And fall out, he pretty much did.  I mean, his mama only pushed about five times and, VOILA!, a squishy, purple, gurgly baby emerged.

Who quickly turned into a quiet, content, reddish-purple baby.  Who kept opening one eye like a pirate.

Argh!  I like you already, kid.

Importantly, in a STUNNING turn of Beth CAN Keep Her Mouth Shut Long Enough To Go Unnoticed And Not Get Kicked Out Of The Birthing Room…

I got to be there for the whole thing!

Now, it wasn’t like when my friend, Tami, delivered my cousin Leslie’s baby.  That time, I was all down at the business end asking questions and going, “Wow!”  And “Oh my gosh!”  And “Is that a freaking HEAD coming out of her hoo-ha?!”  Like I didn’t know what was gonna come out of where… but, seriously, it was a HEAD coming out of her!

Tami told me to shush at that point.  Which is probably best.

That’s the kind of relationship I have with Leslie.  I know that’s true because she was there in the hospital with me when my twins started to come too soon and the nurse made her keep an eye on my hoo-ha so she could pull the emergency doctor-summoning cord if my babies made their appearance before they could get me to the Operating Room.

And one good gander at a hoo-ha deserves another, I always say.

Actually, I’ve never said that before, but I kind of wish I had.

No, this time, I was quiet as a mouse.  And I didn’t even take a peep at the business end of Kim.  My special sister present to her.

In fact, I sat my rear end down in a chair, zipped my trap, and thought “Wow!”  And “Oh my gosh!”  And “WHERE ARE ALL THE MEDICAL PERSONNEL??”

Because there was only one nurse and one doctor.  And, let me tell you, that was a LOT different than delivering twins prematurely where there were four nurses, four doctors, two anesthesiologists and miscellaneous interns wandering in and out.

I kept wondering if I should ask Kim’s doctor if she needed help.  But she seemed fine, so I shut up.

This was my view of the birth.

And that’s my bruder, wearing his lucky baby-delivery shirt.  The same one he wore for the delivery of his other two kids.  It’s like magic, that shirt.

Or Kim is like magic.

Or God is like magic.

Or all of the above, which is my pick.

I may have, just for a teensy tiny second of time become overwhelmed with emotion.  Before I even got into the room.  When I passed the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  The same unit where my twins were delivered seven weeks early.  And where they were whisked away from me and attached to tubes and devices by doctors I’ll never meet but who saved my babies’ lives.

Uh, give me a sec.  There’s some dust in my eyes.

I held my breath outside Jeff’s and Kim’s room, wiped my tears, slapped a smile on my face and remembered this is about them.

And then the crying-stick may have struck me again when a slimy and gorgeous boy was placed on his mama’s chest and hunkered down, perfectly content and warm.

They were intensely beautiful.

And I thought, perhaps oddly, of angst.

I thought about how sometimes children don’t come with perfect circumstances.  Sometimes, there’s infertility or miscarriage.  Sometimes a difficult pregnancy or a premature birth.  Sometimes the push-me, pull-you losses and gains of adoption, or a difficult attachment.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  And I hope it’s not in poor taste to nod to the sadness in a moment of joy.

It’s just that, the older I get and the more experiences I have, the more I believe that the times of sorrow and loss bring with them a gift.

The gift of seeing — really seeing — the joy.  Seeing it.  Stopping for it.  Acknowledging it.  And being oh, so grateful for it.

I know that this new little man’s story has its bumps, too.  Both behind him and before him.

Which is why it’s all the more intensely beautiful to get to be there for the moments of bliss.

Like when a daddy gazes on his new baby for the first time.

What a privilege.

So, here I am, wishing Jeff and Kim more and more moments like this.  And also expressing my abiding gratitude that I get to be part of their community.

I love you, love you.  And also you, my newest nephew.

Whose middle name is a derivative of Matthew.  Like Mathew, which unbelievably, I wrote before I knew about his beautiful name.

Matthew.

Which means Gift of God.

Which you are.

Which you are.

Which you are.

To The Toilet Bowl

May 12, 2011 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

A title like “To The Toilet Bowl” makes it sound like this is going to be a letter to my toilet bowl.

If that’s what you were expecting, I offer my sincere apology.

Unfortunately, I’m simply not prepared at this time to confront my toilets’ accusations of abuse, their photographic “evidence” of such (I swear they stained themselves), or their class-action lawsuit against my family.  So I have no comment at this time.  If you need further information, please see my lawyer.

Thank you.

Instead, the title “To The Toilet Bowl” is meant to read more like “Man your battle stations!  Rally!  Rally!  To the toilet bowl, Men!  There’s no time to waste!”

Waste.  Ha!  I’m so punny.  (Sorry.)

OK, so are we all on the same page now?  I can start writing? Excellent.  Moving on.

To The Toilet Bowl

Because you may not read every, single blog comment like I do…

And because my brother is an Accusey Accuser Pants…

And because I must clear my name…

I’ll tell you this:

I wrote, in Miss Clavel Ran Fast and Faster, that I have run “to the toilet bowl when a child is stuck inside it.”

And my brother, Jeff, commented thusly:

You must now be called out. It is as regrettable as it is necessary.

For it was not you but I who ran fast and faster to the toilet bowl.

A fact which, by itself, would not be “call-out worthy” if not for the fact that you then berated me for extracting said child from said toilet bowl.

Not because the child didn’t need to be extracted. Not due to the manner of extraction.

No, it was because the child was extracted before photographic evidence was obtained.

Now, in my defense, this event took place prior to having children of my own. I can only claim inexperience to justify the blatant and obvious lapse in judgment that occurred when I prioritized the removal of a child from a toilet over taking pictures. I certainly would not make that mistake today.

And I knew I had to defend my honor as a mother.  As a care-giver.  As a sister.

Oh, Jeffy.

As much as it pains me to give you a public lashing not unlike the great concrete head-smashing of 1988 (which you deserved), I will press on.

I think we can all agree that I was clearly (cuh-learly) right to oh-so-mildly reprimand you when you failed to photograph my child while she sat, hunkered down, splashing in the toilet bowl and, instead, instantly plucked her to safety, washed her off, and returned a clean, unphotographed toddler to me.

Screeching, “WHAT WHERE YOU THINKING?” was really the only reasonable response I could give you.  Readers?  Yes?

That’s a moment we never get back, pal.

But, really, that’s not where I take issue with your comment.  Especially since you’ve seen the error of your ways and you would wisely run first for your camera should you find one of your children ensconced in the toilet.

Good job, Jeffy.  I’m pleased to have been such a fine example of appropriate parenting.

Then what’s my problem?  My problem is this:

You assumed that I’ve only ever had one — one!, ichi, een, uno, just the one, single, solitary — child stuck in a toilet.  In all my time parenting five kids.

To which I reply, “Bahahahahahaha!”

And, “If only.”

And, “Your wife’s gonna give birth to your second boy-child, third overall child, any second now.  I think we’d all agree that she’s a better mama than I could hope to be.  Disciplined.  Organized.  Nice.  But the thing about having three kids is… she’s not gonna be able to be everywhere at once.  Which brings me back to Bahahahahahaha!  And also, find that camera.  You’re gonna need it.”

The End

…..

P.S.  If you, poor reader, are left befuddled, wondering whether I just devoted an entire blog post to saying “nuh-uh” to my brother, I just wanted to take a second to say

Yes.

Yes, I did.

And I’d do it again.  Best use of blog space ever.

Sisters

May 4, 2011 in Beth, Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

I grew up without a sister.

My sister-in-law, Kim, finds that tragic.

But I’ve never missed having one.

Never ever.

Except the time when I was 3, and my parents brought home a baby brother.  Which was the exact opposite of the gender I requested.  Because, apparently, my parents can’t follow basic instructions.

So, when I was 3, I missed having a sister.

And the time when I was 13, and my brother was 10, and he and his friends decided to pelt me with baby coconuts (which I swear are harder than rocks — have someone throw one at your head if you’re skeptical).  So Justice forced me to push him just a teensy, weensy bit.  And he cried like the baby he was, and then he told Mom and Dad that I slammed his head into our concrete porch.

I still think “slam” is a little harsh.  And if my brother says anything about bleeding out his ears, you heard it here first that he’s a Liar Liar Pants on Fire.

Which means that when I was 13, I wished for a sister.

And the time when I was 17, and my brother had enough of my pithy, delightful, and helpful comments so he bodily lifted me up and dumped me outside, brushed off his hands and locked the front door.

So when I was 17, outside shivering in the cold, banging on the door and yelling “LET ME IN!,” I kind of wanted a sister.

But the rest of the time, I didn’t miss it.  Not a bit.

And, frankly, now that I have a sister-in-law like Kim, who insists I abide by Sister Rules, I have no idea what to do with her.

It’s kind of like growing up in a Brother Ghetto full of sarcasm, gas, and beer (alright – the beer wasn’t while we were growing up – that came a little later), and then being invited to a black tie Sister Soiree with strange, new things like pomp, manners, and forks.

So, every once in a while, Kim takes me in hand for Sister Lessons.  It’s usually when she can’t stand my sister ignorance anymore.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned.

…….

On Panties

Old, cotton, holey panties are not OK.

If your sister finds out that, oh, maybe due to a twin pregnancy that expanded both your skin and your panty elastic beyond their ability to stretch

and if your panty elastic is tired of the abuse and is clearly trying jump to its death…

and if you have no freaking time in the whole entire universe to go panty shopping…

then your sister will go straight to the store to buy you a whole new panty wardrobe.

With bows, and satin, and see-through lace.  (Although I admit I’m still a little befuddled on why I want to see through my panties.)

A whole new panty wardrobe!

‘Cause that’s what a sister does.

(If any men are still reading at this point, I apologize.  But, if you’ve hung in there this long, then you should know that a whole new panty wardrobe makes a great birthday, Mother’s Day (um, for the mother of your children — not your actual mother — just to be crystal clear on Things Not to Buy Your Mother), or It’s Wednesday present.  And, if the significant woman in your life made you read this far against your will, this is why.  THIS IS WHY.)

…….

On Fashion Shows

If you make the grave error of shopping for clothes alone, which I now understand is one of the Seven Deadly Sins (replacing Gluttony, ’cause, let’s be honest, those of us in the Western World have been ignoring that one for ages), you are obligated, upon your return, to do a fashion show.

Of everything you bought.

Including skivvies.  Although, for the record, I suspect Kim’s taking advantage of my Sister Gullibility on this one.

And, just so you know, a fashion show isn’t a suggestion.

A fashion show is a gun-to-your-head, do-it-or-die activity.

If you don’t do Fashion Show, you might as well spit in your sister’s face.  Ka-plooey.

I had no idea.

Until Kim.

And you also have to do the Fashion Show Catwalk if you wear something particularly sassy.

As a matter of fact, here’s an Easter Day picture of my Aden doing the Sassy Walk, forced, of course, by her sister:

If you’re wondering whether I actually let Aden go to church on Easter Sunday wearing her pretty dress with flower socks and bright pink knock-off Crocs… of course I did.  Have you met me?  I was proud her hair was brushed.

……

On Talonlike Toenails

Your sister is allowed — nay, obligated — to tell you when your toenails are getting long and talonlike.

If you don’t believe her…

If you try to tell her your toenails are perfectly fine, thank you very much…

If you mention, oh-so-casually, that your running shoes fit and you’ve had no trouble at all…

Then she’ll flick them like this to prove she’s right:

I swear it’s true.

Kim’s hand to my foot.

…….

On Photos

Your sister may, every once in a while, want a photo taken with you.

Good sisters ask first and allow time for the application of lip goo.

Brothers just tackle your neck in a headlock and shove a camera in your face.  Which is a sister no-no.

…….

On Daughters Who Are Sisters

And even if you have, say, one older daughter who makes friends easily and has lots of companions and is socially appropriate and smells nice…

And one daughter who’s laugh-out-loud funny, but has trouble making friends because she might hit other kids a lot, and she smells like cheesy feet, and she wears pink knock-off crocs to church on Easter Sunday because her Mommy doesn’t to teach her how to dress…

And your girls don’t really hang out together even though you wish they were closer…

Every once in a while, if you’re really lucky, you might find a photo on your camera that you didn’t know they took that will give you a little bit of hope…

That, someday, they too will buy each other panties, and do more fashion shows and generally be there for each other.  ‘Cause they’re sisters, and that’s what good sisters do.

…….

So, you see, I don’t miss having a sister.  Not one bit.

And if you don’t have a sister, or your daughter doesn’t have a sister, you shouldn’t worry.  She won’t miss it, either.

But if you’re really lucky — and you put in your Burping, Farting, Beer-Guzzling Brother Time — then maybe, just maybe, he’ll go and marry you a sister-in-law.

And if your sister-in-law’s baby boy is still stuck in her belly… and he shows absolutely no sign of coming anytime soon even though your sister-in-law feels huge and exhausted and ready for him to come…

Then you might write a blog post on sisters, and how the in-law title fades, and how important she is to you, and how you wish her the best and love her, love her, love her.

And, then, at the very end, you might also squeeze in a tiny little note about how very, super much you love the boy who impregnated her.  But you won’t get all gushy and gross about it ’cause he’s your brother.  So, instead, you’ll tackle him in a virtual neck-breaking, headlock and yell, “You da man, Jeff.  Booyah!”

The End.

FAQ and Other Stuff I Shouldn’t Say

May 2, 2011 in Beth, Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

FYI, I say “FYI” a lot.

You know.  FYI.  Meaning “for your information.”

I was talking to my 12-year-old one day, and she mimicked me by saying, “FYI, Mom, I want a laptop.”

And I responded, “F your I, Abby, you’re not getting one.”

F your I, I’m a parenting genius.

Sometimes I have conversations with myself as though I’m more than one person.  They go like this:

Self #1: Don’t ever say, “F your” anything to your children.  Ever again.

Self #2: Thanks for the advice.  I appreciate all your tips for daily life.  I just wish every once in a while you’d get around to telling me these things before I say and do them.

Creepy conversations to myself aside, one thing I learned from the blog survey is that I need to put up a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

Unfortunately, now I’m afraid of acronyms that start with the letter F.  So I want you to know how very brave I’m being when I press on and write one anyway.

Among other frequently asked questions is this one:

Hey, Beth.  You post a LOT of personal stories about your family.  Like the story about your mom’s butt scope procedure and the story about your sister-in-law’s jugs.  Is that OK with your family, or are you sometimes afraid they’re going to smother you in your sleep?

To answer that question briefly, yes.

Yes, it’s OK.  I think.

And yes, they still  might smother me in my sleep.  What can I say?  It’s a risky, risky life I lead.

I do obtain permission before posting personal stories about other people.

For example, you’ll never see a story about my mother-in-law with the words “butt scope” anywhere near her.  That’s because she’d rather stab herself in the eye with a fork than approve a story like that.  And because she’s too smart to ever tell me when she’s having a butt scope procedure.  And I’ll never ask.  There are lots of things that make our relationship work.

Nana, on the other hand, approved the butt story.  And I shall ignore the fact that Nana was all jacked up on hospital drugs when she gave her approval.

And Kim approved the jugs story.  Or, rather, she didn’t technically say “WHAT?  NO!  STOP!” when I told her what I was doing.  Giggling equals approval, right?  Yes, I think so, too.

And I receive permission for every single story I post about my 12-year-old daughter, because, as I mentioned, she’s 12, so, you know, my very existence is unspeakably humiliating.

Stories I’m not allowed to post, I still write.  It’s a compulsion.  I hope to post them someday with the subject’s approval.

In the meantime, while we’re waiting indefinitely for the stories I can’t post now, I’ll tell you a story about my own preteen self.  It will explain a lot.

Once upon a time, I was a preteen girl with all the usual preteen girl things, like:

  1. Unspeakably humiliating parents
  2. A changing body
  3. Accompanying feeeee-lings

One day, when I was at school, something happened.  Something inside of me.  Something girls learn about in 5th-grade, girls-only health class.  Or from their mothers, like how I learned about it.

FYI (that’s right), I was significantly unhappy that my mother actually talked to me about stuff like that. Mothers talking about girl things; bleh and ew!

I arrived home from school to find my father patiently guarding my mother’s den.  She was horribly ill.  Too ill, he said, for me to bother her.  Like I was ever a bother.  Sheesh!

I patiently explained that I needed to talk to her.  There may or may not have been crying, screaming, and “it’s an eMERgency”ing going on.  Probably not, though; I was consistently even-tempered at that age.

Eventually, even my father had to eat, and he left her room unguarded.  I did what any girl in the same situation would have done.  I braved the former Marine’s wrath, and I went to see my mother who was wrapped up in a thousand blankets, lying face-first on her pillow in a dark, dark room.

I quickly told her What Had Happened.  After she told me what to do, I extracted her iron-clad promise that she would never, ever reveal the contents of our discussion on pain of death.  Especially to my dad.

Next, she told my dad.

I’m pretty sure she didn’t even wait 2 minutes.  Stupid iron-clad promises.  Worthless, I tell you.  Who can you even trust anymore?

She had some kind of silly excuse for her indiscretion.  Like a lack of any supplies for me in the house.

I failed to see why she couldn’t drag her blankets to the nearest convenience store to help me out.  I mean, if I’d wanted my dad to know, I would’ve told him myself.

Humiliating.

And then my dad one-upped my mom in the Humiliation Department.

He…

…you’re never going to believe this…

He bought me flowers.

I know.  Can you imagine?  We were living with another family at the time, and they saw them! I kid you not.

The attached card read, “Congratulations on becoming a woman.  I love you.  Dad”

Oh, the agony.

And so the story that I never, ever would have allowed for public release when I was young has become a memory that is charming and sweet.  Such is the way of life.

I hope you realize the main point of all this.  Did you notice that I was raised by parents who talked to me about stuff?  They were open, honest and never, ever shied away from a conversation.  Not even the stuff that my Health Class would’ve covered for them.

Despite the fact that none of their parents were communicative with them, my parents broke the silence cycle.

Shattered it to pieces, really.

So when you wonder, How can she write this stuff??, now you know who to blame.

It’s my parents’ fault.

They started it.

F your I.