Advanced Limit Testing

You are driving down the road, humming along with Justin Timberlake because obviously you Can’t Stop the Feeling, when a little purple shoe flies through the air and hits you in the back of the head. You…

a) Turn up JT and mentally calculate how many more years until your youngest child’s high school graduation.

b) Pull over calmly and taking the tiny shoe, it’s mate, and any other possible missiles out of toddzilla’s reach, you explain with the patience of Mother Theresa that throwing things while the car is moving is unsafe.

c) Activate your vehicle’s voice command system and ask Siri to quickly look up anger management techniques for mothers that are about to lose their shit.

d) Throw it back. Then remove your own shoe and throw it back there too.

As Seen on TV: A Product Review

I’m a sucker for infomercials. It never fails, seven minutes in and I’m glued to the TV with my chin on the floor, positively astounded by the unbelievable convenience being demonstrated right before my eyes. Last year for Christmas, my family humored me and purchased some of the “As Seen on TV” items I had on my wish list. The following reviews should be interpreted not as ungrateful complaints but as an important life lesson learned, albeit the expensive way.

1) The Forever Lazy: This is an adult sized onesie with legs, a hood, and a conveniently located zippered flap. As a long time connoisseur of leisure-wear, I NEEDED this. I was ever so excited to receive it from my husband and put the garment on immediately. After wearing it a couple of times, I can tell you that it is called the Forever Lazy because it is impossible to be anything but lazy while wearing it. The science behind that is not clear to me. It might have something to do with the sudden and dangerous spike in body temperature once you put it on. Perhaps the wearer is weighed down by all the extra fabric and thus unable to move. Whatever the reason, when I put the Forever Lazy on, I lost the ability to be vertical. Further, you really want to make sure you use dryer sheets when you launder this product. You have no idea the static electricity that can build up in 40 yards of fleece until you shift your leg and ignite the couch cushion. On a positive note, the conveniently located zippers allowed me to use the facilities without completely disrobing; this is a nice feature and almost makes up for now having to keep a fire extinguisher next to the sofa.

2) The Gyro Bowl: This product is a bowl that is designed to work with gravity to prevent spillage and messes for snacking children on-the-go. It comes with a lid and is brightly colored and attractive, as far as bowls go. But guess what? IT SPILLS. Just like all the other bowls, plates, cups, and mugs you put in the hands of small children. It spills liquid snacks, crunchy snacks, and gelatinous snacks. Further, when washing the Gyro Bowl you want to make sure you don’t disassemble it as putting it back together is tricky. I took all the pieces apart for a good and thorough cleaning and then rebuilt them into something that looked more like the Sydney Opera House. The worst part is that I thought maybe the Gyro Bowl would help me to maintain my sanity until my children reach an age where they care about the cleanliness of my home. Now I have to continue to suffer through spilled Cheerios, Goldfish Crackers, and mandarin oranges, as well as the heartbreaking disappointment of false advertising.

3) The Slushy Magic: My daughter and I saw this infomercial several months ago and mutually decided that we must have one. And that we needed the bonus one they throw in for no extra cost to sweeten the deal. The need to understand how the magic worked nearly overtook us, but in the guileful way of the American infomercial, they never revealed the secret to the Slushy Magic. We told my husband about this amazing product, in grand detail, making sure to remind him of the bonus Slushy Magic if he ordered in the next 10 minutes. Always eager to make our dreams come true, he went to the website and ordered one Slushy Magic set plus the bonus set AND paid double shipping and handling to get it here in time for Christmas. You want to know what the “magic” part of the Slushy Magic is? You give the website your credit card number, they charge you $38.67, and you get NOT one, NOT two, but ZERO Slushy Magics!! WHAT AN INCREDIBLE DEAL??!!

In sum, “As Seen on TV” is Latin for “You will be full of static and disappointment but definitely not slushies.”

You Can Sleep When You’re Dead: Advice for New Parents

Lots of things in life get easier the more you do them, like procrastination and drinking. Raising kids, though, does not. The first year with a baby is tough. But then the second year comes barreling in and suddenly the previous year starts to look like a cakewalk. (A cakewalk is either a task that is easily accomplished or a strutting dance. I’ll let you decide which definition fits here.) Each stage of your child’s development brings a new series of challenges designed to push you to the most extreme limits of your sanity. While there is no way to be fully prepared for all that is parenthood, here are a few tips to get you started.

You can sleep when you’re dead.

Starting in pregnancy and continuing probably through early retirement, your sleep will be interrupted. This is true for mothers and fathers. You might be thinking, “Why would a father’s sleep be interrupted in pregnancy?” Because he will be rudely awoken by the not-sleeping pregnant mother who wants to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of bassinets. Right now.

Don’t get attached to anything that can’t be put in the washing machine.

Your kid is going to throw up. On you. On your spouse. On the couch. In the car. On your friend. On the cat. There will be spills, stains, drips, and leaks from all of their orifices onto all of your stuff. NOTHING IS SACRED.

Don’t let Santa steal your thunder.

If you give your children the impression that Santa Claus is magical and all knowing, your five-year-old won’t tell you what she wants because, “Santa already knows what I want for Christmas this year, silly. He knows everything.” Then when you do finally pry out of her what she wants, it will be something that doesn’t exist because, “Santa can make anything in his workshop.” And then when you gently guide her towards requesting a gift that can be purchased at an actual store, the one she chooses will cost more than most car payments because neither five-year-olds nor Santa have any appreciation for the value of a dollar.

You will never be on time to work again.

Most people don’t know this, but crying over a wedgie is a thing. Processes that used to take you 45 minutes to an hour will now take a minimum of 2.5 hours. Things you didn’t know were problems will become very big problems. Getting out the door in the morning will be the most dreaded part of your day. You’ll lay everything out the night before, wake up early to get a head start, and remain optimistic because things will move along efficiently at first. But then your child will declare that her pants are “too crunchy” and all holy hell will break loose in your living room. By the time you actually make it to work, you’ll have already cried twice.

Road-tripping with kids is fun like a bikini wax.

Vacations are fun…as long as you ride in different car than your children. Buy a portable DVD player and pack a stack of movies. Bring some books, toys, coloring books, crayons, snacks, pillows, more toys, and extra barf bags. Think up a bunch of cutesy little games to play in the car. Bring ear plugs. Do all of those things. But mark my word, you will still feel the urge to tuck and roll at least three times in the first 150 miles. Rest stops pose another kind of problem: If you accidentally drop a baby bottle on the floor of a gas station bathroom, leave it there. Just leave it there.

You can’t have nice things anymore.

Kids break stuff. Your nose, your bank account, your things, your heart, and your spirit: All of these things will be broken by your children over and over again. Don’t worry though, that’s why they make duct tape, to fix all the broken things. Well, duct tape and credit cards.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it pee in the potty.

There is nothing quite like a child to bring out your inner control freak. Sometime just before toddlers are ready to be potty-trained, they begin to develop their own really strong opinions on things. The once sweet and mostly compliant little cute-nuggets start to exert control on their environment, generally at the most inconvenient times. Kids have sensors built in that tell them when you are sleep deprived, not feeling well, or are facing an important deadline at work. If one of these sensors is triggered, you might as well take a seat because It’s. On. Repeat after me: I have a child, therefore I control nothing. Well, except for my blood alcohol level and who can see what I post on Facebook. Wait. Never mind.

You can do this.

You’re going to experience a lot of tough moments with your kids. You’re also going to doubt yourself once in a while. But you were designed to face and overcome challenges every day. All you have to do is believe in yourself. And buy lots of duct tape. It’s just like the old saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us raises our blood pressure and stains the carpet.”