Friday, July 13, 2012

If I Pretend I'm Not Listening, Maybe They'll Stop Talking

I'm having a bit of a dilemma.  My 3- and 6-year old sons have decided that the phrase "butt crack" is the most hilarious thing on the planet.  I have no idea where they learned the term (one of them insists they heard it on PBS), but they are now slipping it into whatever sentence they can, whether it makes sense or not, and then laughing uncontrollably at how ingenious they are.  For example, this morning we were at a drive-through window when one of them decided he would go for it.

"Can I have a chocolate donut," my 6-year old called from the back seat of the minivan, and then paused for dramatic effect, "with sprinkles and a butt crack?"

"Excuse me," his younger brother added, trying to lean his head out the window to make contact with the drive-through operator, "Can I have a butt crack too?"

They exploded in laughter.

"So," I asked while we were driving away, "do either of you comedians even know what 'butt crack' means?"  They looked at each other with blank stares. 

"No idea," my 3-year old replied.

"'Butt' is a funny word," his accomplice added.  

My first son, who thinks his brothers' behavior is too infantile for his 8-year old sensibilities, just shook his head.

"Mom, they're being gross again," he hollered.  "Aren't you going to do something about them?"

Herein lies my dilemma.  Every once in a while, I engage in the wishful thinking that if I ignore the misbehavior in question, it will go away on its own.  I suppose it's lazy parenting on my part.  Especially when someone like my 8-year old calls me on it.  On the other hand, the last time I made an issue of a particular word, the boys thought it was even more uproariously clever to say it in public.  So they kept saying the word.  Repeatedly.

Before "butt crack", it was "penis." 

"What's wrong with saying 'penis'?" they asked a few months ago.  "Is it a bad word?"

"Well, no..." I replied, "but you probably shouldn't say it out loud in public."

"Why not?"

"Well, it's a word that describes a private part of your body," I stammered, hoping this line of questioning would somehow resolve on its own, "and you should talk about private things in private."

"Why is it private if everyone has a penis?" my 6-year old asked. I hesitated, wondering if I was going to regret where this conversation was headed.

"Not everyone has a penis."

"What?!? " my 3-year old gasped.

"Only boys have them, so girls might not necessarily appreciate you talking in front of them about penises."

"You don't have a penis?" he replied in utter disbelief.

"No," I answered slowly, "I'm not a boy... so therefore, I don't have a penis."  He thought about it for a moment.

"How do you pee?"

"You know," I continued, "we can talk about this more when you're older.  But for now, just try not to say the word 'penis' in public."

Once boys know there is something taboo about a word, then all of a sudden it becomes a riot to say it.  So the following day, as I was standing in the checkout line of our grocery store, my 3-year old blurted out: "Mommy, you must have a penis!"  He erupted in giggles.

I glanced nervously at the clerk bagging my groceries, and pretended not to hear him.  If I ignore him, I thought, maybe he will just stop talking on his own.  Wishful thinking.

"Mom," he repeated, even louder, "I said... you have a penis!" 

"We talked about this last night," I whispered, hushing him.  "You know perfectly well that I don't."

"Mommy doesn't have a penis!" he exclaimed with glee, as loudly as he could.  I could tell the clerk was also pretending not to notice now.  My son, on the other hand, knew he had a captive audience.  Rather pleased with himself, he repeated the word at least another five times before we finally made it out of the grocery store. 

Between "penis" and "butt crack", I suppose I prefer the latter.  But I'm still hoping this latest phase will blow over on its own, and the comedy duo will come up with some new material soon.  Maybe, just maybe... if I work on my poker face a bit more, they'll stop trying to embarrass me in public.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Chocolate Cookie Hamburger and Apple Fries

Summer is a great season for backyard cookouts. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean I'm the one flipping burgers in this 100 degree weather we've been having lately.  No, I'm content inviting myself over to my sister's house and letting her husband do the grilling. As for me, I'll bring dessert.  If you're looking for a fun treat for the kids after they've finished their hamburger and fries, try putting together your own sweet version.  The miniature hamburger is only one mouthful (about 1 1/2" in diameter) and about 80 calories.

Nilla Wafers
Skinny Cow Chocolate Clusters (or York Peppermint Patties)
Sesame Seeds
Green Fruit Roll-Ups
Yellow Fruit Roll-Ups
Strawberry Jelly
Apples (or peaches)

To make hamburger and fries:
1. Cut green Fruit Roll-Ups into lettuce leaf shapes, with jagged edges.  (You can also pull the edges slightly to create a natural leafy shape.)
2. Cut yellow Fruit Roll-Ups into squares.
3. Arrange each "hamburger" from bottom to top: Nilla Wafer, Chocolate Cluster, Yellow Fruit Roll-Ups square, strawberry jelly, green Fruit Roll-Ups leaves, and Nilla Wafer.
4. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
5. Slice apples into thin sticks.
6. Arrange apple fries with strawberry jelly ("ketchup").

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Just Use the Force, Mom

A few weeks ago, my 3-year old stood observing me as I was trying to force open a jammed drawer.  He looked at me quizzically and remarked in complete seriousness: "Mommy, just use the force."  

I chuckled but didn't think much of the comment.  Then, last night, this same son refused to brush his teeth.  I found him hiding in the shower.  My oldest son informed me, "He's waiting for you to use the Jedi mind trick."

"Are you serious?"

"You can do it, Mom," my 6-year old nodded earnestly.  I could feel three sets of eyes on me, waiting expectantly for my next move.

So I slowly waved my hand and said, "You will brush your teeth."  The little guy stepped out of the shower, grinning from ear to ear, took the toothbrush from my hand, and promptly began brushing his teeth.

Oh boy, I thought to myself, what has this family come to?  Sure, Daddy has an authentic Stormtrooper helmet and armor in his closet, and Mommy actually knows the difference between a Mandalorian and a Geonosian... I mean who doesn't, right?  And the boys probably have enough "Star Wars" toys to start their own Ebay business someday.  They haven't watched the movies in their entirety yet, but they've read enough "Star Wars" picture books to know what happens from Tatooine to Endor.

Still, I'd like to be certain that: (1) the boys understand the difference between science fiction and reality; and (2) we're not the kind of "Star Wars" fanatics that show up at Comic-Con dressed as characters from Episode IV, whom everyone laughs at because they are so ridiculous... are we?

So I started thinking about the boys' current interest in all things "Star Wars."  I don't know yet if it's just a passing phase, but I suppose "Star Wars" is a rite of passage for nerdy boys everywhere.  And let's face it... we are a family of nerds.

What do you get when you cross a female math major who uses Superglue to fix her glasses, with an engineering major whose hobbies include coding family vacation plans in Excel?  The answer is elementary: a litter of nerdy boys.    

And that is what I have in my home.  The boys love computer games, and think there's nothing more hilarious than setting their Ipad audiobooks to read aloud in French or Japanese. They ask to do math problems on long road trips for "fun." They come up with cringeworthy dance moves, completely oblivious to their own lack of rhythm.  They exhibit klutzy, accident-prone tendencies from time to time, and have been known to hike up their pants and socks too high for their own good.  They are nerds, just like their parents.

Alas, I guess "Star Wars" fits right into the nerd quotient of our family.  There's no point in fighting it.  So, tomorrow night, when I'm faced with another toothbrush standoff, I will calmly tell my 3-year old in my best Yoda voice: "Much to learn, you still have, my young padawan.  Brush or brush not, there is no try."