Which Way Did He Go???

Perhaps you’ve seen the old Merrie Melodies cartoon “Of Fox and Hounds” featuring the character that said, “Which way did he go, George?” If not, you can watch it here in its entirety.

Proof that violence in cartoons is definitely NOT a new thing...

In this cartoon, you see this overly stupid hound dog fox hunting. He’s so unintelligent, he runs up to the fox (named George) and asks him if he has seen a fox. He tells him the fox went the other way. So he runs off, gets injured, and then figures out it was the fox the whole time. He then runs into a fox in a painfully obvious hound dog costume (zipper visible), who identifies himself as George also. He tells him the fox went the other way. The scene repeats over and over again. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. If not, watch it at the link above.

Not that this has anything to do with my post, but it does. As a parent with multiple children, too often we get so busy and so wrapped up in the craziness of life, we can hardly seem to find ourselves. It’s so bad that when we are without children for a day (where did those kids go?), we barely know what to do with ourselves. We sit, eerily spooked by this new-found thing called silence. We look at each other and try to figure out what exactly it was we did before we had kids. It’s a very odd experience.

We know we used to be individual people. We know we used to have hobbies and friends. But somehow, all that stuff got swallowed up by our life with children. The single people we used to hang out with just don’t seem to get us anymore. The married couples who haven’t been “blessed” with children yet seem too put together for us to relate. So, here we are all by ourselves – no kids – and we can’t think of a single thing to do.

So, what usually ends up happening is we do the one thing we can’t do when kids are around. No, not THAT thing…we sleep. Sleep is the first piece of normalcy that disappears upon having your first child. I’m told that eventually you’re able to sleep again, but I don’t think I’ve had a solid eight hours of sleep in nearly eleven years, so I’ll have to take their word for it. I guess I’ll believe it when I see it.

How is it that who we are gets swallowed up by our kids? What happened to all the stuff we used to do? Surely those pieces must exist somewhere? Surely there must be some shred of who we once were somewhere in there?

Pictured: Life With Children.

Perhaps once your kids are teenagers, a shred of normality returns? But then there are dances, dating, and driving. The dreaded triple “D” of parenthood! How can you sleep with all that going on? Sure, maybe your kids can drive and be more independent, but, really, should they? From what I’ve heard from parents of teenagers, life gets even more hectic once they get a little older. I don’t know if I can even fathom MORE hectic. My heart skips a beat even thinking of it.

My only solace is that someday, when all my kids are adults with jobs and families, I’ll find myself again. I’m sure I’m in here somewhere. And, if I recall, I was a pretty cool person (it was 2001, so my memory is kind of fuzzy)! If I’m still blogging in sixteen more years, maybe this will become a “finding myself again” blog. Time will tell.

In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny

Until next time…

Short-Term Memory Loss

Somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of the night, something in the mind of a child seems to reset. I’m convinced they forget every single thing that occurred in the previous 24 hours while they sleep.

Every morning, I wake my kids up for school. And every morning, it’s like I have to remind them of every single step of getting ready in the morning. They seem in awe at the fact that they have to wear pants. They don’t understand why I get frustrated at the blank stare I receive when I tell them to put their shoes on. Each morning, it’s like they’re doing everything for the first time in their lives and don’t have the faintest clue what to do next. “You mean I have to get dressed today?” “What?!? There’s school today?!?”

Like this, only without penguins and a German she-male.

And while I’m on the subject of shoes, why is it that kids never seem to have a clue where their shoes are? You know that you designated a place for them to put their shoes when they take them off. You know that no one else wore their shoes yesterday. You know it, and yet they seem convinced that in the night, some being of darkness must sneak into our house for the sole purpose of wreaking havoc upon their shoe collection and ruining the morning.

But the more I think about it, I think it must happen more than just at night. Think about it. You know they spend six to seven hours of their day in school. You know they learned things. You know they had recess. You know their teacher talked to them. But every day, you ask them how school was. Their response, “Good.” So, like the good parent you are, you ask them, “What did you learn?”

Easy question, don’t you think? But without fail, their answer is always, “I don’t know.” So, you press them for clues. “What did you do at school today?” They reply, “Uhhh…umm…I had a corn dog for lunch!”

You, as the good parent, keep searching for any hint. “What did your teacher talk about?” Blank stares, followed by, “I don’t remember.”

You know your children have just spent approximately half of their waking hours at school. But for whatever reason, they have no recollection of anything that occurred during that time. What exactly do they do at school?

I'm guessing it looks something like this.

So, they wake up each day and have no clue what they need to do to prepare for the day. You send them on their merry way to school, and when they return home, they have absolutely no clue what their day consisted of. And then it comes time for bed. They seem surprised every night when the same time rolls around and you tell them it’s bedtime.

Either their memory is like an etch-a-sketch, or the Men in Black are sneaking in and wiping their memory with that little pen thing.

Whatever the cause, this leaves us, as parents, feeling like we’re stuck in a different film:

Yep, this is my life.

Until next time…

Survival Tip #4

It’s Monday. I can remember back to the days of being a kid. Saturday morning would come and I could hardly get out of bed fast enough. There were cartoons to watch!!! I’d tear out of my bed faster than a cat trying to avoid a bath (trust me, that’s fast)! I’d flip on the TV and turn the volume down as fast as I could so I wouldn’t wake up my parents (that’s something my kids haven’t learned yet, I guess). And I’d turn the channel to the USA Network, ready to take in what they referred to as the “Cartoon Express.”

Cartoon Express: One of the few good things to come out of the 80's!

These days, however, there is no tearing out of bed Saturday morning for me. There is no racing to the TV to see what I’d be missing if I had slept in. No, sadly that eagerness has been replaced with the adult (boring) habit of attempting to sleep in. I say attempting because it rarely ever happens.

One thing I fail to understand is that the same kids you literally have to threaten to get out of bed for school each morning mysteriously can’t seem to sleep past the first hint of sunlight come Saturday morning. I guess I could understand it if the Cartoon Express still existed…heck, we don’t even have cable!

So, with that in mind, I present…

Survival Tip #4: Learn to ENJOY the Weekend

Monday through Friday I’m awake before 6:00 AM. Sunday I’m up around 7:00 to make sure we make it to church on time (five kids take time to get ready!). So, when Saturday rolls around, my natural instinct is to cling to every last bit of sleep I possibly can. Unfortunately, as I mentioned about, those natural instincts are usually destroyed disturbed by the results of some other natural instincts.

So, since sleep isn’t really an option, why not enjoy the weekend? Hang out with your kids! Do something fun!

I can hear you saying now, “But Mike, I have five kids. I can’t afford to do anything fun!” Hey, I have five kids too, I know how it is. But your idea of fun (fun=expensive) doesn’t equal your kids idea of fun (fun=cardboard box or fun=making strange noises). Make sure you’re not so eager to cross things off your to do list that you just leave your kids to do whatever they think is fun on their own. Odds are anyway that their idea of fun will be to be directly in the way of your idea of productivity (more likely, their idea of fun will be to destroy everything you’ve accomplished).

Saturday is most likely the only day you’ll get in a week to have fun. Sure, you might squeeze something in on an evening somewhere. But bottom line is, you’re usually too wiped out to try to have fun on a weeknight. So, next Saturday, take your family and do something fun. It can just be running around in the yard. It can be having a family movie day in front of the TV. It can be whatever your imagination can dream up. Kids are entertained very differently than you, so just make sure you’re doing something to recharge your emotional and physical batteries.

And if you don’t get Saturdays off, pick another day of the week to be your fake Saturday. You need it. Your kids need it. Your health and life depends on it.  Am I typing this as someone who has been great at doing this? No!  It’s more like I’m preaching to the choir here! It’s something I am going to try and be more purposeful about.

So go, enjoy your day off and have fun.

Until next time.

Some Days You Gotta Pick & Choose

Let me start my latest blog post by saying I’m sorry it has been three days since my last post (feel like I’m in a Confessional or something). When I started this blog, my goal was to post every day. I missed one day in the first week due to illness, which couldn’t be helped.

This time around, missing three days in a row causes a variety of different reactions in me. On one hand, I’m frustrated because I didn’t achieve the goal I set. But on the other hand, I know that my reasons for “skipping it” were valid. The first day I missed posting was because I had a long day and needed to just unwind and not think about “doing” anything. The two following days, we had company over.  We played games, ate dinner, goofed off, and had fun. And, I have to keep telling myself that is ok.

You see, as a parent your life is a constant juggling match (is that a thing?), spending every waking hour trying to keep all your priorities straight and trying to make sure you get everything done that needs to be done. From the moment you wake up, until the time you actually fall asleep, there are demands (not just children) pulling you in every direction. When you’re single, you can go home after work and do NOTHING. Even when you’re married without kids, you get home, spend some time together and you can both decide to do NOTHING.

But once you have kids – and remember, I have five of them – you very rarely have those NOTHING moments. Somebody needs help finding pants. Someone else needs help tying their shoe. Somebody is hungry. One of them is thirsty. This one needs help with her homework. This one forgot he has a paper due in the morning. There’s always stuff…never NOTHING.

I ran across a shirt online that is a good idea (in theory), but in reality doesn’t work with multiple children:

The person who designed this shirt clearly has no children.

With one kid, you might be able to keep them busy playing toddler/parent ping-pong. But if you have multiple children, there’s always another one standing in line, waiting (<sarcasm> patiently, of course </sarcasm>) for something from you. Bottom line is: Life with Children = Busy Life.

So, as a parent, you just have to sometimes choose to let things go. Some days you have to decide that although you desperately need to shave, it can wait. Some days you have to just decide to let cleaning the garage go another week. Some days you just have to find someone to watch the kids and take some time to do NOTHING. It’s the only way you can survive as a parent.

So, although I feel bad about missing a few days blogging, life goes on. I had to take a few days to have fun and relax a little. I’ll try not to miss another day, but it’s bound to happen. So, with that in mind…

Until next time…