Sometimes love takes muscle

By Mir
June 5, 2008

This has not been my favorite week ever.

There’s lots of reasons, of course (many of them already blogged), but the main reason is that this week is sandwiched between a one-week trip and a two-week trip away, for the kids, and I really want us to make the most of our (scant) time together.

Do you know what my daughter wants? She really wants to be angry. She wants to make her DISPLEASURE WITH THE WORLD known, because she is 10 and she’s stuck in a sucky situation and SEETHING OPENLY seems like the logical course of action when you are 10 and stuck in a sucky situation.

I really can’t fault her for that, though I do (of course) wish she were happier. And less argumentative. And less prone to glaring at me as if I were her own personal Satan come to make her life especially difficult.

Two nights ago, Otto and I sat Chickadee down for a Serious Talk about what’s been going on this week and how we’re going to handle it. For the first time, Otto did most of the talking. He addressed the various behavioral issues we’ve been dealing with and what the consequences are going to be, moving forward. He told her how much we love her and how we’re working really hard to make things better, together, and that at 10 years of age it’s time to start taking responsibility for her role as a member of this family… and then he admitted that at 10 she’s still supposed to just be a kid and that it’s probably hard to balance those two things.

Otto then did something that made me fall in love with him all over again, and although Chickadee worked very hard to maintain her neutral and slightly bored expression, I think she was a little stunned. He told her how much he loves ME, and that when she’s rude and disrespectful to me it upsets him to see her being so mean to the woman he loves.

(I wonder what that’s like to hear, to find out that your mother is actually a human with feelings, and FURTHERMORE, that some people regard her as such. WILD!)

It was a good talk, overall, and Chickadee didn’t get upset when she was told that she was losing her brand new bike for the rest of the week. Furthermore, Otto told her he wasn’t going to put the box out with the trash, yet, because if the problems persisted, he was going to take her bike back to the store. She agreed this was fair and didn’t complain.

Yesterday was a better day, though hardly the behavioral 180 for which I’d hoped. By bedtime there was some stomping and huffing and I just wanted to say goodnight and be done for the day.

Well, I put Monkey to bed and then went into Chickadee’s room. I sat on the edge of her bed and we chatted a little and then I hugged and kissed her and tried to get up to leave. She flung herself at me, begging me not to leave yet, don’t GOOOOOOO, Mama, Mama, MAMA I’M NOT LETTING GO!

And before I knew it, we were engaged in a full-fledged tickle and wrestling match. Here’s how you handicap a 36-year-old in a struggle against a 10-year-old: You spend a lot of time getting right up into her face and opening your eyes REALLY wide and saying, “HAY-AAAAAAAAAAAAY!” I don’t know why that works, but it does; it causes grumpy old mothers to dissolve in hysterical giggles, at which point you can pretty much wrestle her to the mattress without much difficulty. Once you have have her pinned, the hilarity can be magnified by saying something insightful like, “Oh! HI!” and LICKING HER.

We were so loud that Otto snuck upstairs with a camera and started taking pictures.

(Action shot! Lightened so you can see, but thereby making it look like a glowing spaceship is parked outside the window when really it was almost dark out!)

When we were both too exhausted from flailing and laughing to continue, I managed to get her tucked in at last. “GOODNIGHT MAMA!” she hollered. “YOU’RE MY FAVORITE!”

“No, you’re MY favorite!” I responded. “Except maybe when you LICK me.”

“Oh. HAY-AAAAAAAAAAAAY!” she called back, before collapsing in giggles again.

I closed the door and went back downstairs, still laughing.

I know I can’t speak for her, not for sure, but I think we both really needed that.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Sometimes a little extra muscle (and saliva) is all you need.


  1. Megan

    30 points for Otto AND a shiny gold star.

  2. Brian

    I’ve always said, love is a verb, not a noun.

  3. diane

    I think I just fell in love with Otto.

    Growing up is hard on everyone. It is so very evident that both you and Otto love those kids to pieces, even when you have to do the hard things like discipline them. Then there are moments like these, that make everything else worthwhile.

    And you are very pretty (even when being tickled, licked and tackled by a ten year old!).

  4. Mom24

    Hold onto that when it gets rocky again. You know parenthood will be hard, but it’s impossible to really KNOW that parenthood will be hard…you know?

    BTW–her room is GORGEOUS!

  5. Brooke

    I’ve got a 9 year old so I watch with interest how you and Chickadee are traveling the road! I love the tickle war. We do it too, it works!

    However, what forced me to de-lurk was Chickadee’s bedroom. My daughter has wanted her walls painted that color and big “groovy” flowers on it. I was hesitant, but seeing it done….I like it. Where did you get the flowers for the walls? They really are exactly what she has wanted!

    Thanks for blogging the good, the bad AND the ugly. I check in every day!

  6. Leandra

    Actually it looks like you’re putting her to bed in mid-afternoon — which I have been tempted to do a time or two, I might add. :)

    And you know, I think you just identified part of Chickie’s problem…she wants to be separate from you and have her own identity (she is 10!) but she still wants to hang on to you and be a little girl. That leap can be mighty hard sometimes.

  7. dad

    Consider yourself fortunate that neither of you wet yourselves.

    And that Otto was a major find.

  8. Deb

    What a wonderful fun photo. Kids have a hard time when things bother them. We got that behavior from my son this year after having a horrible teacher all year. My sweet little boy started turning into monster boy. They just don’t know any other way to express what they are feeling. And they feel comfortable with us and basically show all of their emotions in a whirlwind. Hugs to both of you and glad you found some giggles in there!! :-)

  9. All Adither

    Are there three of you? Er, five of you? All I can make out for sure is your backside.

  10. Heidi

    So sweet, made me tear up to read this. You can feel the love that you have for her, and I hope that things get easier for you all. Hugs!

  11. Sharkey

    The photo made me laugh out loud. Then I teared up a bit. Then I thought, “What a cool room she has.” Then, upon learning about the extreme lightening of the photo: “Wow–hardly any noise! I wonder if that’s the 5D, or if Otto got one of the newer Nikons with the great high-ISO performance.” Yes, I need to get out more.

    When I was a kid in these situations, my mom would lick my glasses. Ewwww!

  12. rain

    Um. Thats all lovely and a great post but lets get down to the serious business.

    Which one of you in the picture is the ten year old? Because if your ass is that small, Mrs. TinyAss…I need to go cry. ;-)

  13. Melissa

    I, too, love Otto. And your daughter’s room. You are doing this SO RIGHT. (See, I don’t charge for affirmations, either!)

  14. Aimee

    Great action shot!

  15. Shalee

    Kudos for you for understanding that Chickadee is angry, but holding her to good standards. Extra kudos to Otto for sticking up for you and giving the idea that Moms are human too.

    Sometimes love needs a good tickle reminder.

  16. Lauren

    I wanted to delurk and play the google ads game…

    When reading today’s post, I got ads for Brian McKnight radio, Girl Wrestling, Ecstacy Rehab, and Toddler Potty training.

    Glad that you and Chickadee had your special time :)

  17. Colleen

    Being a family is so cool..:) Have I told you lately that you are an awesome mom and Otto is the best.!

  18. Headless Mom

    I love when my husband pulls the “You will not treat the woman I love that way” card. Although it seems to have more effect in your house than mine.

    Tickling can cure a host of evils. And that picture is priceless!

  19. Otto

    Sharkey –

    That’s the Canon 5D at ISO 1250 and a big crop. Shot with the 35 f/1.4. For political reasons, my Nikon days may be over. (Unless I can’t score a new 400 mm f/2.8 before football season, then I will need to resurrect my old manual focus Nikkor for one more year …)

    (See? I can be just a guy and ignore all the mushy stuff.)


  20. Niki

    Ooh ooh – Google Ads game – I got Muscle Women pictures, Brian McKnight, and Female Love “Compare Products, Prices & Stores. Female Love At Low Prices”. I don’t even want to know about that last one.

  21. Damsel

    That Otto makes me swoon. Fortunately, I have one just like him! :-)

    Way to be a great mom, Mir – ending the day with a tickle-fest just can’t be beat.

  22. Amy-Go

    Frame that picture. And stare at it the next time you want to sell her.


  23. Chubby Mom

    I was a particularly surly pre-teen. I can remember moments just like this with my mom, and I can tell you that they do make a difference. I was still surly a lot, but tickling can heal a lot of wounds.

  24. celticbuffy

    Oh, I love it! Ten is such a hard age (my middle child is 10). They seem to have these emotional swings that suck the life out of you. I’m glad that you were both able to end the day being happy with each other!

  25. Undomestic Diva

    Wow. You’re lucky. I asked my 3 year old “Who’s the best mom in the WHOLE WORLD?” (but in a much more annoying voice) and he didn’t miss a beat, saying: “Dad is!”

    And where can I get me one of them Otto’s?

  26. Sue

    I’m crying! I love this. And I love Otto! And my 7-year old standing over my shoulder loves Chickadee’s room and is now pestering me for a makeover.

    Happy Love Thursday to you all! And may it be a peaceful one.

  27. Burgh Baby

    You need to clone Otto just in case I am every single again. As if his discussion with Chickadee wasn’t enough to make me swoon, he went and got me all hot and bothered with the camera talk in the comments. You have quite the man there, Mir.

  28. mommytherobot

    awww that just melts my little icy heart!!! kudos to Otto for having the discussion just so you didn’t have to!

  29. jennielynn

    First off, let me say her room is super cute! Just the thing for a tween!

    Otto definitely deserves a gold star. He is really taking to this whole daddy gig. And you get points for realizing Chickie isn’t being a turd just to be a turd. DQ went through a three year spell being very angry with her father and not feeling secure enough in that relationship to express it. Who got the back wash? WE DID! Yay! It will pass, but in the mean while, just keep doing what you’re doing. The seeds you plant now will start to flower, I promise.

    By the by, I thought of you the other day, when I went to check on my herb garden and saw that my dog had dug it up. I need to get a gecko.

  30. meghann

    You know, you have really nice calves Mir.

  31. Danielle-lee

    Awwwww. You did both need that. Warms my heart!

  32. Marue

    I love it when the “argument” passes and everyone can get back to being happy again.

  33. Karen

    That made me cry. :)

  34. Jamie AZ

    So cool – all of it!

  35. Cele

    Now that’s the way to end a day. Love Thursday.

  36. Erin

    Hahaha…I love this. Sometimes you do just need to tickle and wrestle and laugh. I actually do that with my husband a lot when we’re feeling frustrated, but don’t really know why. (Even grownups get that way, Chickadee!)

    And thanks for the explanation about the picture–I saw it and wondered exactly when you put the kids to bed! I mean, I know you said you were just ready for them to go to bed, but it does look like it’s about 1pm in that picture! :D

  37. The Other Other Dawn

    Oh that my children’s stepmother was as fabulous as Otto. I heart Otto and nominate him for an award.

    I, too, got the backwash from my children’s anger at their father and the being traded back and forth. Being the safe parent is NO FUN. But you two sound like you’re safe and fun and just the right balance of discipline with understanding.

    And how can Chickie be upset in that room? With the colour and the flowers and the colour. And the pretty flowers. Great room.

    Not to mention the space ship in the yard. :)

  38. Katie in MA

    Awwww! I think I am going to bookmark this post to remind me that other moms are going through the same thing I am (even though my 10 yr old is really only 4 yrs old), and that yes, we will get through it.

    Don’t you love how Love always finds a way, especially when you need it?

  39. Heidi

    How wonderful for Chickadee to hear that Otto loves you and that the two of you are a united force to be reckoned with. How healthy! (I grew up in a household where my parents tolerated each other, at best, until things dissolved when I was 13.)

    So can that spaceship be rented out for children’s parties?

  40. Sue

    I’m right there with ya – Chickadee of my own 10 going on 11 (going on 25). Dealing everyday with the wild swings of Leave Me Alone/Don’t Leave Me. It’s irritating and heartbreaking at the same time. I feel like this is the last summer of “my little girl”. :(

  41. RubiaLala

    That is awesome.

  42. Vane

    I think is great that you have someone like Otto to back you up when you need it the most.

    I’m also glad for all of those moments when love just finds a way to shine through and makes it all OK. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post.

  43. Jackie


    I’m proud of you and Otto…. and chickadee for taking her medicine…. atta girl!


  44. Libby

    You should start calling it Weepy Love Thursday. At least this week I was prepared with Kleenex on hand.

    Mir, you are pretty, Chickie’s room is lovely and Otto is all kinds of awesome. Glad things are a little better.

  45. Anna Marie

    Wow – Otto is a complete honey of a husband.


  46. Pam

    I love Love Thursdays…. so can I share my own version? We had, here in the DC area, violent thunderstorms yesterday (inc a sighting of a tornado) which knocked out the power to our house for 12ish hours. The first six of which my daughter had to spend at home, alone with the dog (the horror!). Trees were falling on cars and houses, etc. She was petrified. But too cool to say it out loud. Just … tears, right at the edge of her eyelashes. We ended up spending the night at the home of some (very good) friends (yes, even the dog) who had power, and … she and I shared a bed. She fell asleep holding my hand, listening to the thunder. She may think I am the most embarassing thing evah some days, and snark at me other days, but last night, I was her mom and her security. And I love that. And if I don’t say it enough when I comment, thanks for your blog.:)

  47. Janssen

    That room is absolutely gorgeous.

    And we all clearly just fell in love with Otto. That man is a rockstar.

  48. daysgoby

    I’m so happy you and Otto found each other again.

  49. Lady M

    Her room is gorgeous! Can you come do our house in cheerful colors like that?

    Oh yeah, the post was really nice too.

  50. Sharon

    I waited for a lot of years to have my husband say that to my children…and he never did, even after I told him I needed to hear him say it. Different generation? I don’t know. I do think it would have made a difference in how my children looked at me, the one who was responsible for them most of the time. I would think you feel loved by the man who married you and obviously loves your children.

  51. liz

    You have a little bit of an idea about what my week has been like. What made me laugh most today was seeing the Google ads for this post. Also, LOVE Chickadee’s room! :)

  52. Flea


  53. Erin

    Wow! That looks like so much fun!

  54. Kirsten

    Oh wow. Otto just turned my cold little heart into a mushy pile of squee.

    And thank you, because this post brought back memories of me and my mom, joking with one another over who knows what. A look, a repeated phrase, and we would be in giggles for hours, while no one else understood what was so funny… as my mom was begging for me to stop and we’d just do it all over again.

  55. Mom101

    You’re a good mama, Mir. Keep telling yourself.

  56. Tyra

    New reader and all. Just wanted to let everyone lusting after the flowers that they look like the Wallies I got at Lowes. Everyone lusting after Otto. I can’t help you.

  57. ImpostorMom

    Brings me back to my days as a sullen child giving my mother hell. We are as close as ever now so you have that to look forward to. That Otto IS a real find. What a wonderful thing to say to anyone but especially Chickie.

  58. Astrogirl426

    Hmm, I think there’s a definite Otto fan club in the works…

    I thought I would escape the moodiness because I have a boy…Hah! I was so kidding myself.

    Actually, most days the Bunker Monkey is his usual sunny self, but then there’s days like today, when he doesn’t want to go to school, and stays in the hall until one of his teachers pulls him into the classroom (sigh). I know it’s going to be a rough day when even promises of his Aunt picking him up from school don’t cheer him up (and when mention of him seeing his favorite cousin don’t do the job either? Then I start to worry).

    But just think, in a few short years you will be sending Chickie off to college, and looking back fondly on this time (I think that’s called amnesia :)).

  59. Jane

    Thank you – I needed to hear that today.

    Not the greatest of days with my nine year old, and it’s SO good to hear that I am not alone in my back-and-forth relationship with him.

    And to know we are not alone in our ‘lick you on the face just to make you laugh and lighten a situation’ moments!

    I am a recent convert to your site…and may I say that you are now highlighted in my Favourite list and I check in with you all the time – you always seem to just get it. Thank you.

    And the power of a husband highlighting HIS relationship with you as separate from the kids – it cannot be underestimated in raising great kids.

  60. Asianmommy

    Aww…that is so sweet!

  61. tracey

    sometimes a little comic relief is all you need. oh, and maybe a lick or two. GREAT shot!

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