One more glob of toothpaste and I’ll be moving up to #1 on the UNOS list for a larynx transplant

When my brother and I were younger, we were rarely grounded. Not because we were angels, since we weren’t anything of the kind if smearing feces on our cribs and walls in unison was any indication of future development, but because my mother was smart enough to realize that if she grounded us, that meant we couldn’t go anywhere and we’d be stuck in the house 24/7. The same house in which she lived. Until the grounding period expired or we killed each other, whichever came first.

So, instead of grounding, my mother opted to become a screamer and much like anything she sets her mind to, she excelled at it. Screaming loud enough to cause tsunamis in Lake Ontario was her forté. Ask anyone in our neighborhood. Or even New York State. Hell, ask anyone who attended the Beijing Olympics in 2008. They could probably still hear the echo.

Accompanying the screaming was the eyebrow arch. That woman can raise her eyebrow so high, you can drive your Durango under it while doing a wheelie.

And then there was the gritted teeth with the underbite. When my mother was pissed, she would grind her teeth so fiercely that Tino and I would have to duck the small shards of enamel that would come shooting out of her mouth, all without turning our backs on her for fear our asses would be left vulnerable to being chewed out, one fleshy chunk at a time, by her newly sharpened canines and incisors.

So for the most part, we behaved. We were too scared not to.

As with so many of her other talents like sewing, gardening, cooking and affectation accompanied by trilling “R”s in certain words, I did not inherit all of my mother’s aptitude when it came to discipline. I am genetically incapable of arching either one of my eyebrows without my youngest interrupting me to ask if I’m having a seizure. And I cannot simulate an underbite without looking like a strung out Lhasa Apso and causing my TMJ to wig out and punch my teeth in.

I can, however, scream. Maybe not to my mother’s decibel level but enough so that the vocal chords straining out of my neck are probably on Google Earth somewhere while simultaneously causing the International Space Station to have a perpetual case of tinnitus.

However, I hate screaming. It always results in a mammoth headache and my throat feeling as if someone poured battery acid down it with a firecracker chaser. And it doesn’t work. Oh, sure … the force of it can make the skin on my kids’ faces wrap around their heads twice like some kind of weird flesh-colored chrysalis but that only lasts for a minute or so, until I take a breath. Then, my screams go in one ear, bounce around the skull for awhile and exit via the other out of sheer boredom. My kids have learned to wait until my lungs collapse at which time they emerge from their cocoons, spread their wings and fly about their merry way.

So in addition to screaming, because giving that up would be akin to giving up natural instinct altogether, I resort to grounding. I find my kids’ “currency” and garnish their wages. Fortunately for me, the currency at the moment is the same for both of them, specifically time on the computer and time with friends. This makes it very convenient and saves me the hassle of being creative with respect to individual consequences. A good thing because when the blood is gushing around my head and my eyes are protruding three feet out of their sockets, I don’t feel much like being creative. Once my lungs have reinflated, I yank the entire bag of loot away from them both quicker than you can say Bob’s Your Uncle even though I have no idea why anyone would say Bob’s Your Uncle. What if your parents had no siblings? What then?

Anyway, this is just what I did this past weekend, sans the whole Bob bit, after Nate and I discovered Erin Brokovich snooping around the girls’ bathroom. Both Zoe and Helena know that their bathroom is to be kept clean on a daily basis and is subject to spot inspections. The tile doesn’t have to glisten nor do the towels have to folded with straight edges, although a girl can dream. I simply want the counter to stop being collateral damage in toothpaste wars. Speaking of toothpaste, I want to see more of it in the tube than in the sink. I want to see my reflection in the mirror without having to use an ice scraper. I don’t want to see tampon and pad wrappers strewn about like confetti. I don’t want to see wet towels moving on the floor and find myself actually hoping there’s a rodent under them. I don’t want to look behind the shower curtain and choke on the lump of hair I just inhaled while shrieking OH MY GOD, THERE’S A MUSKRAT LIVING IN THE TUB.

And I certainly don’t want to remind the girls of these things, only to be met with rolling eyes and attitude that manifests itself in that weird chicken neck thing that kids and hip hop dancers and ancient Egyptians alike do so well.

So the girls were grounded for two days this past weekend and since being thrown out of the house and living in the snowbank at the end of the driveway was not part of the deal but only because it was subzero windchill and I was already dangerously close to being accused of child abuse by cutting them off of Facebook and Yahoo Messenger in the first place, I got to spend 48 hours of sheer bliss inside the house with them. And by sheer bliss, I’m being totally sarcastic but sarcasm doesn’t translate very well via the Internet so to be clear, IT WAS A 48 HOUR SUCKFEST minus the two hours Nate and I took to go on a dinner date because we suddenly found ourselves with a fifteen year old who had nothing better to do on a Saturday night than watch her nine year old sister.

We wound up having a very nice dinner, with the exception of my Asian salad which tasted like I imagine sweaty foot diarrhea would taste if sweaty feet actually had bowel movements. More importantly, it was two hours that didn’t consist of glares loaded with YOU ARE RUINING MY LIFE AND YOU DON’T EVEN CARE and to be honest, it’s going to be a challenge not to ground both girls every Saturday night from now on in for … oh, I don’t know … breathing too loud.

If you have kids, what’s their currency? Are they bankrupt more often than not?

Are you a screamer in dire need of a larynx transplant?

Sometimes, I wonder if the only legacy I’ll leave this world is my own echo.

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24 thoughts on “One more glob of toothpaste and I’ll be moving up to #1 on the UNOS list for a larynx transplant”

  1. I’m a screamer and don’t really have a currency with my kids. Can’t ground them because they/we don’t go anywhere. Can’t/don’t take away their computer much because in our isolation I feel it just might be child abuse.

    I do have a look. I’m not sure what it is but my kids do. Occasionally when I’m disappointed in them, I think sad thoughts and the kids say, Oh no! It’s the look. Shapes ’em right up.
    Thankfully they’re pretty good kids and I don’t have to punish (or scream) very often.

    Now, my husband……That’s a totally different story. He catches my wrath on a regular basis.

  2. Shouting and screaming and banging a door may not help them – but it helps me!

    Best thing is to after you have lost your temper is tell that that you love them, then apologize for shouting, then start to cry – my Dad used to do that! The worst thing about being in trouble was knowing that Dad would be apologizing later! SOOOO embarrassing!!!

  3. I yell at my kids occasionally. As for their ‘currency’, that would be any sort of free time. Computer, phone, friends, toys, radios, etc. The only thing I leave them if they’ve been really bad is books and chores.

  4. I take the Nintendo DS away for a week. I’ve only had to do it twice, but that fear is always lurking under the surface. 😉 I’m not a screamer – my dd’s more affected by “you disappointed me”. She’s got guilt issues I think!

  5. I ‘never’ yelled or screamed.
    I talked face to face same level so long that my message was understood.
    We never yell with my husband neither. We talk. A lot! It helps!

    An adult who’s yelling and screaming is in the same as his/her kids – can’t control his/her emotions. Adults should be wiser and more talented to stay calm and not to go to the same level as their kids.

    Sorry I’m boring but that’s how it should be! Yes, easy to say, difficult to learn but not impossible!

  6. Lily’s too young for discipline, but Joe Joe got the 1,2,3 approach plus time outs. It works like a charm! When I use it. Like you, I’m discovering that discipline can really cramp my own style as well. It sucks! Why can’t they just be good and save us all the headaches?

    Hope you go that *snicker* muscrat out of your tub. Nothing to love about that!

  7. I end up screaming most f the time. I start at normal volume, then get stern, then annoyed, then the screaming, which almost always involves some variation of the phrase “Apparently the only way you can hear me is if I scream”

    DS1 is currently perfecting a blase attitude toward everything & has no currency at the moment so he has to sit in his room, where there is no TV, computer or electronic game to be found. Though sometimes he is motivated by dessert or snack, I try not to use those.

    DS2 is easy. The Wii and the DS are his currency. Threaten to take away Mario Party or Lego Batman & he’ll stop whatever he was doing. Unfortunately he then switches to wailing about how he will be good, just let him keep playing, he will be good this time, just one more chance, one more, he will be good. Which usually results in my adding time to the punishment but he can’t seem to stop himself

  8. Yeah, I’m not too proud of yelling either. I’m not quite at scream level, but yelling is definitely in there. On the other hand, that’s a lot better than being beaten with a belt buckle, which happened in my immediate family. But, I do try NOT to yell, and we have long talks, which I think are probably just as painful for him as any punishment… *grins*

  9. Too funny. Love your writing 🙂
    I’m a screamer. I try not to be and I’m sure I look like a psycho to my poor kids, but if they push my buttons that’s what they get. A psycho mum with popping eyes.

  10. Bahahahahaha! How did my kids’ bathroom end up at your house?

    And I’m a screamer too…although I’ve worked at minimizing it some, with some limited success.

    Their currency? It’s easy for the 15 yr old: no boyfriend visits (our house or his), cell phone confiscation, computer confiscation. The newest thing will be her iPod Touch confiscation….she seriously attached to that thing!

    My 11 yr old son on the other hand? He is much, much harder. His only “real” currency is video games…Wii, PS2, DS. When grounded from these (and it’s usually all at the same time), he simply finds something else to do. He bides his time with amazing grace. And sucks the fun out of it for me completely.

  11. Oh, “YES” to all that! My life is exactly the same. DH resorts to actually currency all the time “OK, no pocket money for the rest of the year!”. He tends to overreact and forgets that their pocket money is an automatic transfer between accounts. But we do use the TV and computer time as effective alternatives. And there was the one time where my daughter was grounded for a month because she sneaked out of the house at night. Logical consequences, that one.

  12. no kids yet but boy….I feel like driving over to my parent’s and giving my mom a giant hug for all the times she grounded me from the friday night dances and putting up with my miserable self for the weekend 🙂

  13. I used to scream with my older daughter who is a normal adult now, so don’t worry. But all I need to do now with Samantha is give her “the look”. She’s so timid that she’ll come to me crying even before I find out that she’s done something wrong. I really lucked out with her.

  14. I’m a screamer, but as a last resort and they know if Mama is yelling they better do it. Gabriel’s currency is his Wii and Bella’s is DVDs. Best part of the whole article was “OH MY GOD, THERE’S A MUSKRAT LIVING IN THE TUB.” You ALWAYS have me LOL.
    Kas

  15. Man I was chuggin’ along, laughing and high-fiving you in my head until I read, “sweaty foot diarrhea” and then I passed out…

    Oh yeah…grounding and taking away privileges is the standard MO ’round here, as I lost my voice years ago…

    Your writing is fantastic.

  16. I’m a total screamer and your description of how badly your throat hurts afterwards (like someone poured battery acid down your throat) was spot on!!

    I haven’t figured out what my kid’s currency is…honestly, I don’t think they care about anything. Hmmm, I’ll have to work on this!

  17. You are too much! I’m sure glad I found this blog!
    I have a trach, so I can’t yell much, but when I so, my 3 year old snaps to attention!
    Since Jacob’s only 3, almost anything can be currency, but mostly it’s taking away toys or his precious TV shows (all educational, of course).
    You are seriously funny, and have a new follower!
    Kerri

  18. I, too, was raised with a screaming mother. However, she never did “knock me into next Tuesday”, nor did she ever “take me out of this world because she brought me into it”. I survived.

    My kids now are the owners of spankin brand new iPod Nanos. Also called Kiddie Crack. Also called “It’s Mommy’s now”, until they can speak to each other without using the words “poophead”, “meanie” and “boogerface”. Although, I kind of laugh in my head when I hear the “boogerface”.

  19. I am not a screamer (but my mom was). However, on the two or three times per year when I really do scream I scare the beh-jesus out of Jordan and he immediately wants to hide under the bed or any place that he can’t possible be seen.

    Currency for me….the Xbox 360 and the days he doesn’t get it…oh boy oh boy does he hate it! My fault is that I am way too lenient, I think I tried to hit the opposite end of the spectrum from the child rearing I had as a child. I’m sure there is a middle ground, I just haven’t found it. 🙂

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