I’m minding my own business relaxing after a long day of work when the boy walks in.

“Hey Mom, did you know you can cut your hair with paper scissors?”

“Why yes, I did.” I say.

The trick is not to overreact.  This isn’t some random conversation.  It’s a revelation.  “But I don’t recommend it.  Your hair will stick straight up and you’ll look goofy.”  I look him in the eye.  His hair is sticking up and he looks goofy.  He has a handful of brown hair in one hand and a pair of dull scissors in the other.

“Would you like me to fix it?”

“No! I’ll fix it.”  Who doesn’t love to aim scissors at their own head?  I get my haircutting scissors and turn the reverse Mohawk back into a little boy.  He gets demanding.  “Give me a spiky cut!”

I don’t take requests during tea time. “Go buy some hair gel.”

Moms don’t get a lot of time to sit and relax.  My mistake–I made myself a cup of tea and sat down while people were awake.  It required a disaster–happens every time.  Children sniff out yoga, meditation, relaxation, and tea.  They seek to destroy them.  It’s why they were put on this planet.  They are our mortal enemies in the quest for peace.

Problem solved, I return to my tea with one eye open.  One point for Mom, but Declan’s clever.  There will be no relaxation on his watch, and he’ll go to any lengths to win in the end.  I keep both ears ready to detect and head off the next attempt to ruin my sanity.  You should, too.

These are some things to watch out for–things you never want to hear a kid say.  If you do, act immediately!  Your peace–and possibly your very existence–are in peril.

Danger and Disaster Category:

“There’s Play Doh in the electrical outlet.”  This happened during graduate school.  I had a paper due the next day and a neighbor’s kid was over playing.  Lesson learned: Don’t try to pick flaming Play Doh out of an electrical socket.  It’s highly conductive and will end badly.  All’s well that ends well–the fireman was hotter than the Play Doh.  Note to self: burn dinner next week.

“I think my science experiment blew up.”  I try to teach that science is about study, not randomly mixing chemicals and products… but sometimes I’m not paying attention and “science” just happens.  Anything that explodes, burns, chemically changes, transforms, evaporates, leaks, or expands will be blamed on science.

“What’s the matter, you don’t want me to learn?” “Learning–” the get out of jail free card for punishment.  That, they learn early.

“I think I used too much toilet paper.”  You haven’t experienced fear until you’ve lived in a one bathroom house and heard this.

“Hey Mom, there’s only a little water dripping through the floor.”  That’s the rationalization that comes after the toilet paper confession.  I also hear this after I say “Go take a shower, NOW!” It’s bad karma for my being impatient.

Art Category:

“Look, I made you a picture.”  On the wall with Sharpie that is.  This has happened to me a few times.  The first time was crayon on the wall, the second was a Sharpie Michelangelo on the underside of the kitchen farm table, and the third, a beautiful picture of me on the brown wood siding near the door.

“They’re beautiful,” I say every time.


“This ‘D’ stands for ‘delightful.'”  The paper has big X’s all over it.  In fact, many of them do.

“No, it stands for you didn’t read the story before you answered the questions.”

“It was boring.  They need new stories…like something about zombies or Dan TDM.”  Good point.  Luckily, I have zombie books, so I can take him off the computer and make him read.

“Is that the principal?” when the phone rings.


“No reason.”  There never is.  I’m sure it’s the principal’s night off and he wants to say hi.


“I stepped in dog poop.”  That, in itself isn’t bad.  It’s only when he says it from the rug-end of the house as far away from the door as possible that it packs a punch.  Then, it’s too late to do anything but spill something else on the rest of the carpet and hope the carpet cleaner coupon comes around soon.

As long as he sticks with these categories, I’m okay.  He’s 8.  How much trouble can an 8-year old cause?

It’s when they get to be teens we have to up the ante.  Somewhere after the dog poop and before they move out is when they’ll start to say things like “I got fired,” “That college only costs $50K/year,” “I flunked out” (of that $50K college) or the granddaddy of them all, “You’re gonna be a grandma.”

So, if I have to suffer a little bad hair, explosion, clogged toilet, wall art, or bad grades now, so be it. It’s training, so when the real parenting comes, I’ll be ready.



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