Equal time

It has come to my attention that I may have inadvertently managed to bias my readers, a little bit, when it comes to the presentation of my darling children. Although it should go without saying that I find the two of them equally charming, there are some factors, perhaps, which may cause my representations of them here to be a bit… distorted. Some have said that I often post about Chickadee’s transgressions but rarely about Monkey’s, leading some to believe that Chickadee is a hoodlum-in-training and Monkey is a tiny, male Mary Poppins—practically perfect in every way.

This is patently ridiculous, of course. Chickadee is ALREADY a hoodlum, and Monkey doesn’t even own a magical carpet bag.

No, no no no no. I mean, come on. There is no favoritism here. My children are different and wonderful in their own ways, and just in case there was any doubt, my son is just as capable of being a complete buttmunch as his sister.

Take yesterday, for example. (Please, TAKE IT. Burn it out of my memory. Please?)

I may have begun to crack under the strain of recent events, just a little bit. I’m not sleeping well. I’m preoccupied. And last week I blew off a metric ton of work thinking that we would be running off to Boston at any moment, and the good news is that so far that hasn’t happened, but the bad news is that yesterday I realized that I had a lot of work to get done if I wanted to keep my jobs and be able to pay for things like plane tickets.

So I thought about taking the kids to church—we have maybe found a new church, one that we’ve been attending for a couple of months—and then I remembered that there was some potluck thing after the service, and I didn’t want to cook and I didn’t want to socialize, and even just going to church and then having to make excuses for why we weren’t staying seemed like more effort than I was willing to expend, so I decided we’d just stay home.

“Well what should I do?” asked Monkey, my early riser with the infinite energy.

“I don’t know, buddy. Go amuse yourself. I need to work for a while.”

And so it was that I was curled up on the couch around lunchtime, still in a ratty t-shirt and some flannel pants (a.k.a. my pajamas), tapping away on the computer, when my son headed outside to ride his bike for a while.

Remember when I worried that Monkey would never master his bike? And then when one day he finally did? Well, there’s absolutely no stopping that kid, now. He rides his bike ALL THE TIME. It’s like he invented fire and there’s a bottomless bag of marshmallows out in the driveway. I swear the child is wearing grooves in the pavement. And it’s AWESOME. I can think of very little that makes me happier.

So I’m working away, and he’s riding his bike, and Chickadee is upstairs reading, and all is calm and bright.

And then Monkey comes inside and asks if one of the neighbor kids can come over to play.

Let’s recap: It’s the middle of the day, but I am still not dressed. I am in my pajamas. I am NOT WEARING A BRA. I’m sorry to spell it out that way, but those are the facts. I am Not Fit For Public Viewing, is my point. And I am tired. And cranky. And I VANT TO BE LEFT ALONE.

So I tell Monkey that no, I don’t think we’re going to have a playdate right now.

“But WHYYYY?” Why does he ask that? It’s because I’m a mean, horrible, angry hermit of a woman. Obviously.

“Buddy, I’m sorry, but I’m not dressed, and the house is a mess, and I’m trying to get some work done, and I’m really not up for company right now.”

“But we could just stay outside!” he says, all hopefulness.

“Right, except that whenever you’re ‘just staying outside’ you always end up coming IN at some point. Look, I’m sorry, but not today, okay?”

He grumbled and muttered and went back outside to ride his bike some more.

About five minutes later I heard the back door slam and footsteps approaching from the office.

“Did you finish riding your—” I stopped, because upon looking up I was not facing Monkey, but the neighbor kid. Who had just walked into my house. ALONE. And was now smirking at me.

“Um, hi, sweetie, where’s Monkey?”

“He’s outside,” he replied. “He told me to come in and talk to you!”

I got up off the couch and tried to smooth my rumpled hair and act natural. “Did he, now?” I asked. He nodded. I put my arm around his shoulders and steered him back to the door. “Well, I’m sorry, but Monkey had already been told we’re not having guests right now, and it’s not your fault, but Monkey is going to need to come in now because he chose to disobey me. Please go home.” The neighbor kid turned tail and ran while Monkey took one look at my face and knew he was in Deep Doodoo.

Inside, I conducted the Inquisition. Had he sent that child inside to “convince” me to change my mind? Was he unclear on the meaning of “not inviting anyone over?” Did he understand why it would be embarrassing to have someone walk into the house when I’m not dressed? His head drooped lower and lower as he continued answering, “Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry.” I gave him a hug and a kiss and sent him to his room to read for a while.

A little bit later, Chickadee came downstairs and noticed Monkey’s bike helmet sitting on the couch. “Why is Monkey’s helmet in here?” she asked.

“Because he did something I asked him not to do and I had to go outside and drag him in here by his helmet,” I answered.

Her eyes went wide. “REALLY??”

I sighed. “No. I didn’t drag him. But he was wearing it, and then I forgot to tell him to take it back out.”

“What did he DO?” she asked, clearly electrified by the notion of her brother catching hell.

“Let me ask you something, Chickie. If I told you no playdates today, and you knew I was sitting here in my pajamas, would you send some other kid in here without you, thinking that might make me change my mind?”

I thought her eyes were going to bug out of her head. Then she laughed so hard I thought she was going to choke. Finally she sputtered, “You sent him to his room, right?”

On the one hand, I don’t want her taking joy in her brother’s misfortune. On the other, you do sort of have to admire how when he screws up, he really commits to the role.


  1. Leandra

    Also? It’s gotta be kind of gratifying for Chickie that for once, lately, it’s not her.

  2. All Adither

    Oh, steam would be POURING out my ears. Kudos for keeping your cool.

  3. Heather Cook

    My favourite is when Army Boy walks up to me, already ready to pout and says “Why can’t I have a cookie?” We haven’t even talked cookies… he just asks THAT WAY. And I really want to answer “Because you can’t ask properly.”

  4. Megan

    Oh yeah. My kids at least know that would NEVER fly. However one of their darling little friends after being told a birthday party was NOT going to include boys invited three of her male friends to OUR birthday party and then tried to pitch a sulky fit when they were summarily dismissed. The birthday girl herself was not impressed and dealt with it all beautifully but I had a very hard time not getting all in-yo-face-momma on that child!

  5. Debra

    Well it’s nice that they are equal-opportunity!

  6. Crisanne

    Oh, sweet little Monkey. Just had to give it a try.

    As for Heather-I deny treats all the time simply for not asking properly!

  7. Desiree

    Kids, they think they’re so smart.

  8. Holly

    OMG! I always feel SO guilty when I try to list all MY lazy reasons why I don’t want one of the kids to have a friend over – the lack of houseclaning on my part, the lack of getting dressed in some presentable fashion on my part, and the lack of the patience required to deal with the noise factor when they quickly dismiss the promise to stay outside and play.

    It’s nice to know I’m in good company with this list of excuses! :-)

  9. StephLove

    I don’t think you’re favoring Monkey. I think they’re taking turns. I remember a run of school trouble Monkey had in first grade that had you pulling your hair out. But just think, taking turns is one of those things we try to teach them to do, right? They just do it a little differently than we imagine.

  10. AmyM

    I’m always amazed at how well you handle situations where I would be left either speechless or shrieking like a crazy person.

    I have that pajamas and no bra look all day long. Which is why I always freak the eff out when people drop by unexpectedly. Please, for the love of pete… give at least a 5 minute warning!

  11. Lylah

    Sometimes, my kids will have a long streak during which one of them is channeling the devil while the others are being sweet and angelic. But it all evens out in the end.

    I’m not sure whether it’s amusing or upsetting the way they take such pleasure in one another’s punishments, though…

  12. Deputy's Wife

    Well you got to hand it to the kid, he is creative.

    With my little darlings, I see trends in the naughtiness. I will have one that gives me constant grief for a week. Then poof! He is all of a sudden good and the naughtiness moves onto the next one. Then the next…

    I think they plan it.

  13. Heidi

    Yeah, but still–a guy who is flexible enough to consider lemonade OR rootbeer over Sprite? He’s a keeper.

  14. Tammy

    ROFLOL!! Monkey sounds just like my Alex. They are persistent little buggers aren’t they??

  15. ImpostorMom

    Whenever I read tales of either of your children it never makes me think one is perfect and the other is not. It simply makes me think “wow, at least they seem to take turns misbehaving.” :)

  16. SoMo

    I give him 10 points for audacity, but 2 points for the think through.

    I knew you gave each of your kids hell equally, but sometimes one is more prominent in the catching hell department than the other one. Happens here all the time.

  17. Cele

    At least he owned up to each infraction and didn’t list how unfair you were or pitch a loud fit of indignant childhood frustration.

  18. insane mama

    Sometimes it’s easier to write about oneof he kids more than the other. I do it

  19. Katie in MA

    My girls are only 2 and 4, but you know what I love? (Although let me be clear that I only *secretly* love it. I don’t dare encourage it.) I love that when one of them does something wrong and gets scolded, and then the other one acts EVEN GOODER than GOOD. “See, Mommy? I’m sitting nicely at the table. I’m not doing (blah blah). I’m eating all of my dinner, even my green beans. Aren’t I being good, Mom? Aren’t I?”

    Some days I think about forming secret alliances to get them both to behave.

  20. Beth

    Hey, be glad they take turns…that’s something I try to remember to be grateful for with mine.

    I don’t know if every mom is like this, but I know for me I find it harder to take the bad stuff from my daughter than from my son. Objectively I know it’s the same bad behavior, but I think when she used to act out (she’s grown now…now we just have little grown-up cat fights like good friends) I over-reacted sometimes because she reminded me too much of myself. Why do they have to make all the same mistakes we made??

  21. MomCat

    With regards to embarrassment, I just know you’ll get him back later. I have recently discovered this new power, and I love it.

  22. TC

    Sorry, dude; I’m not convinced. A kid who calls you ma’am and goes meekly up to his room after a punishment? Is an angel.

  23. jmcupcakes

    At our house, it’s the sleepover – I have 7 and 9 year old girls, and I cannot remember a playdate that did not end with the “can we have a sleepover” line. No matter how many times I explain that PARENTS plan a sleepover, and no matter HOW MANY times they look at me with puppy eyes, it is about the PARENTS schedule, I still get asked EVERY TIME.

  24. suburbancorrespondent

    I’ve found that not getting dressed immediately in the morning is just asking for trouble. Be it a traumatic injury that requires immediate transport to a medical facility or a neighbor stopping by to say hi or an unruly child who needs chasing outside, it’s just not worth the embarrassment and humiliation for a couple of extra hours of clothing comfort.

  25. carrien

    I’ve been taught by where I live, and my kids, to get dressed first thing in the morning. Even if all I want to do is sit inside all day working. People call hello over my patio wall through the screen door. Kids come beating down the door asking mine to play. Taking out the garbage means being seen by 50 people it seems. And then there’s walking to the laundry room. Must have a bra on for that. Ditto for checking the mail. And then there are the really fun days when I’m not dressed and they FINALLY decide to do something about the service request I put in weeks ago, and two guys in uniforms wearing tool belts show up on my front door while I’m wrapped in a sarong or something.

    No, two years of living here and I don’t leave my bedroom without clothes on anymore. Someone WILL see me.

    I’ve had plenty of moments when I want to murder the kids for opening the front door, letting the Baby out, and I have to run all over the playground, just outside, in my PJ’s to catch her.

  26. Becky

    I can utterly sympathize. My younger brother has taken it upon himself to invite over many friends into our apartment whenever my dad is spending the night at the hospital. There is nothing quite like being in your parents’ bedroom and then finding out that there are 5+ guys outside in the livingroom having a party while you are still in your pajamas. Best of all! You can’t leave to…say..get some proper clothes to change into, so you get to be trapped in that room all night.

  27. dma

    just think how hard it would be if they were both naughty at the same time, i have 3. we have had days were it has happened, wouldn’t life be boring if they were alike

  28. Mom, Ink.

    I think the point of having siblings is to throw a little party when they get in trouble. C’mon, don’t you remember “oooooo, buuusttteeed!” Good times.

  29. danelle

    The rule in our house is “no plans the day of.” Which means no playdates, no people over, no zoo trips, no nothing when you ask for it the day of. Plan it in advance or forget it.

  30. Joshilyn

    HEE -NTY on the getting dressed first thing. I have the neighbor kids used to the idea that M and S’s mom wears pajamas most days. HEE.

  31. nae

    you have given me strength to send that neighbourhood kid HOME…thank you!

  32. Chris

    Hahahaha! Sorry. I’m just glad I’m not the only one. See, my kid KNOWS better–but his FRIENDS like to try that crap. ;) They think if THEY can just spell it out for Teh Dum Mommeh, that I’ll cave. Hee. :D So I wind up saying, “I’m sorry, didn’t Kiddo TELL YOU I’d said no?” with a perplexed ‘goodness, aren’t you a dim little bulb’ tone in my voice. They only do it once.

  33. Cathi

    Well ahhhh, Sorry to disagree but is it really that hard to throw on some clothes and let the kids play. I mean obviously M handled it wrong but put a bra on and then tell the kids to go to the neighbors to play!

  34. Astrogirl426

    I’m with you, Mir – there are days where “getting dressed” winds up sucking you down a long and deadly path, and at the end you realize half the day is gone and you STILL have not started your work (“I have nothing to wear” –> “I guess I have to do laundry” –> “Crap, I haven’t changed the litterbox in a week” –> “Crap, we’re out of litter, have to go to the store” and on and on).

    This scenario is EXACTLY why we moved out to the boonies, onto 20 acres of woods. So that the kid wouldn’t HAVE anyone to ask if he could have a playdate with. Social development-deshmelopment, some days y’all are lucky mama isn’t lying on the kitchen floor freebasing Godiva and cosmos.

  35. Claudious

    Really couldn’t agree with you more, there are days when other people are simply not invited in. It amused me that the reason you didn’t want them there was because they’d see you, and he sent the boy in specifically to see you. Maybe he was hoping that you’d accept that the cat was already out of the bag and let it happen.

  36. Brigitte

    Oooh, Astrogirl426, I’ll come freebase Godiva and cosmos with you!

    When I was a kid, my friend’s mom (who was a large woman overall, especially in the bosoms department), didn’t care what kids came over and saw her in her bra, no shirt. If she was hot, she wasn’t going to wear her shirt, and that was that!

  37. Aimee


    This just reminded me, so much, of the scheming my sister and I did as kids with our best friends (also sisters.) We would decide together that we’d asked if we could all spend the night at one house or the other, and then go innocently ask the parents about it. They had an iron-clad rule that we could NOT discuss the possibility of a sleepover before talking to our respective parents, but we always, ALWAYS had to try to put one over on them. And we always got caught.

  38. Daisy

    Even in his misbehavior, he makes me laugh. Creative, if nothing else.

  39. Jess

    I remember doing that when i was grounded. We would all take turns going up to the door of whomever was grounded and knock very politely on the door and ask if said criminal could come out to play. Sometimes that worked then other times we had to pull out the card of “My mother said I could play outside and not bother her if Said criminal could come out and play with me” heh

  40. Rick Bucich

    Oh my, I keep turning heads with the laughter. The mental image of monkey’s friend walking in to convince you is priceless.

  41. jennielynn

    I’m sorry, but I’m still laughing at you calling your kids buttmunches. That’s why I love you!

  42. Anna

    Mir, I don’t think you play favorites at all, but I’m glad you shared this story. :)

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