Let’s face it, boys are weird

I never realized the extent to which boys are weird until I had nieces.  Girls sit still.  They are sometimes quiet. They play house and they teach school.  They even mother their dolls and give Barbie high fashion makeovers, not to mention aspirations of becoming a lawyer or doctor.

Boys do not do “sitting still.”  They come with two switches at birth:  on and off.  “On” means full tilt, through the dirt, all day.  Boys are dipped in sugar, rolled in grass clippings and mulch, all the while attempting to break the sound barrier while going anywhere.  “Off” happens while being wrangled out of the bath and wrestled into pajamas.  Nine chances out of ten, they fall asleep mid-squirm and mid-sentence, their batteries just as drained as yours.

My sons had a doll each when they were small.  Both of them asked for one for Christmas one year.  They learned how to father them, of their own accord, for about a day.  After that their babies were stark naked Nerf gun targets and cannon fodder.  Their dolls were given jobs like Hollywood stunt double or dinosaur attack victim.  All I could do was sit back and watch as one of their babies launched across the back yard, a failure at making it over the swing set via the slingshot they created (with the goal post from a long-lost football game and a piece of elastic scavenged from my sewing basket).

Once they had cousins who were female I thought some calm may rub off on them.  My hopes were dashed pretty quickly.

Tony came home from his aunt’s house one day, excited beyond belief.

“Mom, Alexandria said I could have some of her broken Barbies.  She even said I could have her Barbie house when she was done.”

Visions of Barbie’s new career as Fay Wray to Tony’s RC King Kong ran through my mind.  “What are you going to do with a bunch of broken dolls and Barbie’s Dream House?”

“Well, I thought I could decorate them with Sharpies and turn it into a haunted mansion.  It won’t matter what shape the Barbies are in.  I plan on turning them into the zombies that live in the mansion.  I’ll need some Halloween spider web, of course, but it would be perfect!”

I guess I’ll give the kid ten points for creativity.

I know you’re sitting back in your chair, thinking that I’m making this up.  Well, you’re wrong.

So accustomed to their weirdness I have become, that I don’t even notice anymore.

Case in point:

I woke up with a stuffy nose, laryngitis and aches and pains.  We were out of milk. Like many mothers out there I was the only one with a license who could drive.  I dragged myself and Tony to the store.  I gave him the few dollars he needed to go in and purchase our milk.  It wasn’t until he came out that I realized what he looked like.

Zombie preparedness at its finest.

Zombie preparedness at its finest.

Yeah, that’s my kid.  In a gas mask.  At the grocery store.

And you wonder why I say boys are weird.

What’s the weirdest thing your kids have ever done?  I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.

For more stories about what my crazy kids do, purchase my book Lemonade and Holy Stuff.  It’s available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Parenting, Snark

Sometimes I think everyone is my kid

It’s true.  I have officially become blind to the line that delineates which children are mine.  In fact, the people in question don’t even have to be children.  I’ll still take them under my wing and fuss over them as if they were.  It’s really kind of sad, and, if I’m being honest, it’s creeping me out just a little bit.

My best friend can attest to the fact that I feed people.  All the time.  If you are coming to my house, 9.8 times out of 10 I will have food prepared for you to eat.  The other times we’re living it up large and ordering out.  Why?  I don’t know.  If I had to guess, it makes me feel better to know that no one leaves my house hungry.  Our local writer’s group came over as they often do on Tuesday evenings and someone commented that they never eat dinner before coming over because they know I’ll have food.  I was glad to hear it.  Then one of the other members said, “It’s because she’s a mom.  She feeds everyone.”

It was that moment that I realized something may be amiss.

My problem became clear to me when I was complaining long distance to my friend Sarah (a firecracker of a woman and super writer.  Go to her blog NOW).  Someone was getting on my nerves and I was irritated and asking for advice because I don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings.  Sarah straight up told me the truth:  “You don’t have to be everyone’s mother.  It’s time to cut the shit and tell it like it is.”

Holy crap!  I think I’m everyone’s mom!!!!!!!

I worry over problems that aren’t mine.  Seriously.  If there were such a thing as a professional worrier, I’d be one.  And a damn good one, too, because I can worry like a BOSS.  I worry about one of Jimmy’s friends who just lost his mom on Christmas Day.  His friend is 15 years old.  It reminds me of a friend of mine who lost his dad at that tender age and how, at 40ish years old, it still defines him.  I worry about a writer friend who lost her dad and mom two months apart last summer.  I worry about another writer friend whose husband shot himself while she looked on.  I worry about a friend I have who is so desperate for attention and love that she’s looking in all the worst places to find it, and smothering the friends she has.  All this worrying on top of my normal, everyday neurotic worrying that I do for myself.

Tony had a friend spend the night not too long ago and I sent the kid home with underwear and food because I thought he needed some.  I often send people home with goody bags for their kids, or just dump excess candy we have from holidays into Ziploc bags and give them to friends when they leave.  I pick up my niece from school and ask her about her lunch and if she wore a hat at recess, reminding her to keep her coat zipped.  I asked a grown woman where her gloves were the other day.  A grown woman!

Criminy!  No wonder I’m so tired.  What have I got, like 50 “kids” I’m caring for?   I think it’s a sickness.  The only cure I can think of is Xanax and Dis Arrono.  So pass the Dr. Pepper and the anxiety meds.  This Mama needs a break.


Serious stuff

Pound Found Hound

When Jimmy was two he announced to his dad and I that he wanted a dog.  Since I was pregnant with his brother and in no hurry to have a third critter peeing all over my house, we told Jimmy he’d have to wait until he was five.


Drawing by Miranda Gargasz

So it came to be that nine years ago my husband and I made good on the promise we made our then toddler.

Jim and I can’t stand the thought of euthanizing a healthy pet just because it has the unfortunate luck to be housed the longest at a too-full pound.  We had decided years before that our pets would be rescued from said establishment, so off we went.

Jim let it be known far and wide that we were going to be getting a male dog who would guard and protect his family. (Insert muy macho gorilla grunt here, a la Tim Allen.)  Girl dogs were too timid, my canine chauvinist shared.  I just rolled my eyes.  I had a female dog growing up and she was more protective than either of the male dogs we’d had.

Walking into the pound for Jimmy was like Christmas morning, eyeballing kennel after kennel of desperate critters wanting to be freed.  He visited every cage as I stood in the corner scratching my arms like a crack addict in need of a fix.  The place was crawling with brown eyes–my personal kryptonite.  I began hatching a plan to free them all.  We’d just buy a farm with all the money we didn’t have and start our own animal sanctuary.

“We can only have ONE,” Jim said, his face about two inches from my own, a weak attempt at breaking my line of sight.

He was right, though.  I’d eventually have become the Crazy Dog Lady who was eaten by a pack of her own furry children.  Not the headline I’m looking for.

There was one dog that had my attention.  It looked like an overgrown beagle.  It was the only one not adding to the cacophony of barking going on.  My heart instantly reached out to that dog because it was the flesh and blood representation of the stuffed Pound Puppy I’d had as a girl, right down to the brown patch of fur over the eye.  Imagine my delight when that was the dog Jimmy picked.

The kids and I stayed inside to fill out paperwork while Jim took our new dog for a walk before stuffing us into our too-small Tempo.  While he was gone Jimmy picked out the name “Rosie,” a thinly veiled shout out to Caillou, the annoying cartoon I was sure was going to make my brain melt out of my ears someday.

“We can’t name a boy Rosie,” Jim said when he came back in.

“Well, unless HE is missing something vital, HE is a SHE,” I said.IMG_1540

“Miranda,” he whispered, “when boy dogs get fixed they snip their nuts.”

“I know,” I whispered back.  “This one is missing a penis.”

Jim grumbles even now about how he was tricked into buying a female dog.  But he also admits that she has shattered his dog chauvinist ideals, too.  Jehovah’s Witnesses give our yard a wide berth and the mail carrier wears diapers meant for astronauts, such is the ferocity of Rosie’s attack at the front door.  She is kind to most visitors unless they smell like a cat.  The unlucky feline owners are greeted with a throaty growl of disapproval.  She is not fond of other dogs unless they clearly accept her as the alpha.  She’s been known to draw blood to get that point across.  She is very territorial when it comes to her bed and her crate, going so far as to bark, growl or give the evil eye to anyone who should come too close to her two favored nests.

Jim laughs at me, often remarking that we bought a dog for Jimmy that became mine the minute we came home.  I vehemently deny that I’m her preferred human, even in the face of absolute proof.  I will admit to loving her every bit as much as my children.  She’s my daughter who happens to wear a fur coat.

It’s been a rough year for Rosie.  She’s had three surgeries in the last ten months to battle abscesses she had on her back and neck, the most recent being this past week.  The vet told us that this is it.  If this doesn’t work, there isn’t anything more he can do.

When Jim brought our ten-year-old, seventy-five pound hound home from this latest surgery, I sobbed harder than the last two times.  The first two surgeries involved shaving and stitches and drains.  This last one:  staples.  She looks like they cut her in half and stapled her back together.  She’s wearing a brace on her neck that makes her look like a whiplash victim.  She laid on her bed and moaned even though she’s on two pain meds.

Rosie is tough, though.  Two days after surgery she was back to her spunky self, escaping her brace twice now and growling and barking at the mail carrier, though with markedly less zeal.  She sleeps a lot more than usual and looks so very pitiful.

For now, I wake every morning at 5 a.m., wrap a pain pill in a slice of cheese, and give it to my snack crazy, pound found hound.  I look into those sad, brown eyes and whisper, “That’s my girl.”