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Dear Dad,

The last time I wrote to you here, I had satire on my mind. This time it is to complain. Thanks to you, I feel the need to bleach my entire body. This weekend cleaning out your garage was rough.

Even before you passed, I had marshaled the troops (i.e., your son in law and grandchildren who had no choice) to get your garage hoard somewhat under control. Just one bay of the three took us almost an entire weekend, including two trips in two trucks to both the dump and Goodwill.

Since your September demise, I’ve spent many weekend days inside your house going through mounds of paperwork (Why would you save owner’s manuals for appliances you gave away in the ’90s?), office supplies (so many office supplies) and CDs (Four copies of the same Flatt and Scruggs recording? What the heck?!) in just one room alone. At least I was in air conditioning and relative comfort.

This garage cleaning, though … sheesh. Here’s what I personally handled in just three hours:

1. Empty and near-empty bottles of all manner of small engine fluids
2. Stacks of 78 rpm records
3. Hundreds of jars of dried-up model airplane paint
4. All kinds of outdated technology (a slide projector!)
5. At least 45 different species of spiders and bugs, most of them alive and ready to rumble

Some people (you) might say, “Hold on — that’s valuable stuff!” Well, Dad, not when it has been in a detached garage without climate control and regular roach bombings.

Three more trips to Goodwill and another trip to the dump, and I’m not done yet. I see at least three more days of purging ahead of me. And maybe some therapy to address my new daddy issues.

I know it’s bad form for me to be upset with you when you aren’t physically present to defend yourself. It’s frustrating, though, because I remember the week I spent — using vacation days from work, no less — cleaning this very same garage after Mom died in 2009. And you were not happy about it (even though you asked me to do it).

When I tried to get rid of your model-airplane parts, you yelled at me that you were going to get back into building planes. When I questioned the need for 400 cassettes, you said you still listened to all of them — even though there was not a tape player in sight (the reel-to-reel player doesn’t count). When I started to throw away some dry-rotted Christmas decorations, you claimed you used them “just last year” — a statement we both knew was false when Frosty melted in my hands.

I begged you to be more aggressive in your tossing. I remember saying, “Dad, please don’t leave this all for me to clean up when you die.”

Now it’s almost 10 years later and everything is exactly as I left it. Except you’ve added more. For example, what’s this collection in the corner, Dad?

I really don’t want to put my hands in that pile.

I was not prepared mentally or physically for this garage showdown. For one thing, I forgot to bring gloves, a mask, boxes and industrial-strength garbage bags. When Katherine brought out some trash bags from the house, I felt encouraged that they were laden with “rodent repellent.”*

mint-scented rodent repellent bags

That is, until I got a whiff.

Remember my last post in which I said I have a “titanium stomach and a broken sniffer.” Yeah, well, mint-scented rodent repellent apparently is my kryptonite. I could smell that very well. And my stomach did not approve.

I really needed a hazmat suit, a cheering squad for motivation, and an OSHA-approved eye- and body-wash station. I even considered another trip to the Jeju Sauna. That’s how bad it was.

None of my friends should wonder why I like the show, “Hoarders.” It provides cognizance, comfort and coping skills all in one!

I realized, though, while I was doing an extended-surface and deep-body-cavity cleansing afterward that you are still teaching me even though you have moved on to the great beyond.

The lesson?

Never do this to your kids.

Mine will be lucky to get a footlocker from me, as I plan to chuck almost everything long before I kick it.

You know I love you, but I did not love this.

Sigh.

Say hi to Mom and Gram for me.

Your organized and aggravated daughter,
Beth

* Note that it says it is effective against raccoons. Two things:
1. Hando did not come with me on this adventure, so I guess it works on dead raccoon parts.
2. It does not work on live ones, or at least live rabid ones. Katherine tangled with one on the front porch just moments before we got there. (Ironic, no?) The rabid brethren of Hando then tangled with a car and lost.

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Dear Delta Airlines:

It sure would be great if you made sure each seat pocket contained an airsickness bag. I found out the hard way that you don’t.

No one wants to be awakened from a nap with a whack on the leg by a kid saying, “Mama, I need a barf bag!”

Luckily for my nauseated son and the lady in the seat in front of him, I have cat-like reflexes and the mom instinct to save the bag I got when I bought bottled water (no filtered system, Boston Logan? Come ON!).

I also have a titanium stomach and a broken sniffer. My other son, well … not so much. I almost needed two bags.

So much for you being ready when I am.

It was a good thing I found the stray diaper disposal bag in a different seat pocket. The bags one gets with purchased water apparently are not leak proof. It also was a good thing the sick son wasn’t sitting next to his father.

One more thing, Delta, could you please tell your flight attendants not to sneer and recoil in horror when a customer asks where she can dispose of said double-bagged goodness? It’s not something I’ve ever had to ask, so how would I know I had to dispose of it myself in the lavatory?

Your slogan, “Keep climbing,” seemed more like “Keep moving” for them. Not very hospitable.

Anyway, my son is fine, thanks in advance for asking. I’ll remember to bring extra bags for next time in case you don’t heed my advice.

Yours in preparedness,
Beth

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Dear Readers:

Every year, we go on a weeklong cruise with friends.* Four different families are involved, but not all families go every year. This year, three families spent a week on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas. There were 11 of us: six adults and five kids.

Families present:
Patrick, Petra, Ryder (13), Mia (9)
Edgar (aka Eggy), Sophia, Ava (9)
Eddie, me, Dominic (13), Gideon (12)

Here is the week in quotes (all accurate, I swear):

DAY ONE: Port Canaveral
Setting: Four adults and four children are walking in a single-file line down the narrow stateroom hallway on Deck 12 to make way for an old lady on a scooter.
Patrick: “Excuse us.”
Hag: “It’s too late for that now.”
(Note: Were we supposed to spring to the ceiling like spider people to make more room?)

 

DAY TWO: At sea
Setting: Breakfast at Johnny Rockets
Server to Eggy: “You want omelet?”
Eggy: “Sure.”
Server: “Hamchee?”
Eggy: “Hamchee?”
Server: “Hamchee omelet. You can have ham and chee. Or plain ham with chee. Or a little chee with some ham. Ham and chee.”

Setting: One of the many pool areas on Deck 15
Patrick to me as I’m peacefully sipping a fruity drink: “You paid $12.95 for that?”
Me: “Yes, but there is a souvenir glass!”

Setting: Same place, but about 10 minutes later
Server to me: “You want another one?”
Me: “Yes, please.”
Server, holding up rum bottle: “With medication?”
Me: “Lord, yes.”

 

DAY THREE: At sea
Setting: Outside Patrick/Petra’s cabin as we are getting ready to go to lunch
Ryder: Gideon and I just heard a guy knock on the door like this: [Ryder says “Room Service, Room Service” while rhythm knocking on the door]
Gideon and Dominic start doing two different dances from Fortnite: Orange Justice (Dominic) and the Floss (Gideon) while chanting/singing, “Room Service, Room Service.” This becomes a refrain for all of us the rest of the week.

Setting: The first formal night
Angry old guy walking down hallway: “I’m not dressing up for nobody.”

 

DAY FOUR: Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Setting: Our cabin where a medley of children and adults are playing Uno. Dominic is gnawing on candy that just appeared in the room.
Me to Dominic: “Who bought that candy?”
Patrick: “I think Petra did.”
Me to Dominic: “Of course. You never use your money to buy anything.”
Dominic: “I would if you’d let me access my funds.”

DAY FIVE: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Setting: Breakfast at the Windjammer buffet
Me to Sophia: “I realized I didn’t bring enough pants. I guess I’ll just be Pooh-ing it up the rest of the trip.”

Setting: Still breakfast
Server to all: “You want sticky bun?”
All (with variation): “No, thanks.”
Ryder and Gideon using the “Room Service” rhythm after the server leaves: “Sticky Bun, Sticky Bun!”

Setting: Deck chairs near sports pool area after we leave San Juan
Patrick to me: “You aren’t getting a drink?”
Me: “No, it’s $12.95, and there’s not even a souvenir glass.”
(Note: What a difference a few days makes.)

Setting: Evening at the lobster dinner
Patrick to all: “Should we meet later at the Windjammer? The ass jammer?”
Me, after misunderstanding Patrick: “The ass chamber?”

 

DAY SIX: Labadee, Haiti
Setting: Beach after the water park where we were not allowed to bring hats, sunglasses, coverups or a magic cave in which to hide
Patrick to me: “You look a little lobster-y.”
Petra to me, five minutes later: “Uh oh, you got some color.”

Setting: Dazzles bar where the six adults are playing Joking Hazard
Petra to all: “There’s not enough dick talk in here. We should create our own rude game.”

 

DAY SEVEN: At sea
Setting: Breakfast at the newly christened Ass Chamber buffet
Eddie to no one in particular: “I’m getting into the wine at 2 today.”

Setting: Low-stakes blackjack table at the casino
Me to Eggy and Patrick: “Do you want me to get out [of my seat] so you can play?”
Patrick**: You play your game, girlie.

 

DAY EIGHT: Back in port
Setting: The pool at the hotel where we had to stay over before going home
Dominic to Eddie and me: “I’m not going in the lazy river anymore.”
Me: “Why?”
Dominic: “Some kid peed.”
Me: “How do you know?”
Dominic: “You don’t just go up to your sister and say ‘I just peed’ if you didn’t pee.”

More cruise posts to follow, including one about the buffet. (I know you can’t wait!)

Love,
Beth

* Luckily I had paid for this when we were flush — long before our Savannah house sat on the market (and sat and sat and sat). (I haven’t written about that because it is still too painful. Not at the funny point yet.)

** There’s so much from Pat here. It’s because A) he’s funny and B) we are the two in the group who love to play games, so we are together more than most. Most of the others like to work out. Shudder.

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Dear Apartment Complex Rule Makers:

I received your email (screenshot above) in preparation for Memorial Day weekend. While I appreciate the effort, we need to talk about a couple of these rules:

1.) In order for all residents to have a fair chance to enjoy the pool there is a 2 guest maximum per household. As an example, if your lease agreement includes a total of three leaseholders/occupants, the maximum number of people you are allowed to have at the pool would be 5. This includes your two guests.
I feel like this is the Whole Foods rule. I’m OK with that, but how are you going to check?

2.) When using the amenities all guests must be accompanied by the leaseholder they are visiting.
Even the bathroom? No. Not happening.

3.) Children must be supervised and accompanied by an adult leaseholder when using the pool.
Great idea. Can you also put a noise and/or whine limit on said children? Case in point, this little bastard who screamed bloody murder every time his brother squirted him:

5.) Alcoholic Beverages are not allowed at the pool.
Imma let you finish but
Nevermind. I won’t. What good is having a pool if you can’t have adult beverages around it?

7.) No Horseplay.
I need a definition. Does whacking a friend with a pool noodle count? (Asking for a friend. [A friend who is really my youngest son.]) What about a random dad taking all the kids for a ride on his back? You are going to have to be specific.

This is supposedly the dad of one of our kids’ friends. I don’t know. He could have been the complex pedophile. Were my kids happy? Yes. I was there just in case. Shut up.

8.) No Solo Bathing
What does this mean? I can’t come to the pool by myself? F that. I dare you to say something to me. I’ll sling a nonalcoholic beverage at you. (Or does it mean not washing your solo cup in the pool? Or that Han Solo can’t come over?)

10.) ENJOY!
How is this possible when you hit us with the rules above. Please.

Also, where is the no-doob rule that is clearly needed?

And what about rules for music?

And a loud talker rule?

This guy had a story for everything. No one could top his exploits.

You get an A for effort, but a C- for execution.

Bah.

I’m still going, though. I have stories to write.

See you soon!
Beth

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Dear Friends Who Also Are Parenting Boys:

In my last post, I asked you to tell me the crazy things you never thought you would say. My Facebook feed blew up with sentences that did not disappoint.

Here they are in all their glory, along with the name of the beleaguered parent who shared (thank you!):

  • “Stop touching Jackson’s penis, you have your own.” [Jackson is a dog.] (Maya)
  • “Is that poop or mud? Wait, let me smell it.” (Wendy)
  • “Is that poop or chocolate?” (Stephanie)
  • “Quit playing with your penis in the living room.” (Afton)
  • “Get your balls off the counter.” [Yes, THOSE balls.] (Also Afton)
  • “Stop wiping your boogers on the ________.” (Afton again)
  • “That IS a big poo-poo!” (Still Afton)
  • “Oh please don’t pee on me.” (Elizabeth, mother of a newborn)
  • “Wash your feet. Every. Day.” (Amy)
  • “Washing includes more than just standing under the water! Use soap. All over your body. Rub it around. All over your body. Then rinse it all off.” (Mary)
  • “How have you survived 9 years of life … you’re just now figuring out what happens when you stick something metal into an electrical outlet?!” (Also Mary)
  • “Why does the upstairs smell like piss?! I swear to almighty God if I open your toilet lid and find you haven’t flushed upstairs in days, I will bolt this bathroom shut and you can go in the yard.” (Mary Catherine. And also, he did. And she did. And he did for a week.)
  • Wash your hands! Use soap!” (Mary Catherine again)
  • “Don’t lie to me; that’s the same pair of underwear you’ve had on for 3 days. You smell.” (Still Mary Catherine)
  • “Wiggle wiggle wiggle. Wiggle wiggle wiggle.” (Mary Catherine again, reporting that this came from the shower)
  • “Stop behaving like an animal.” The reply: “But mom, I am just a mammal.” (Mary Catherine FTW)
  • “NO chain saws in the living room!” (Said to both father and son, according to Vanessa)
  • “We don’t jump on the trampoline with our penises out. Put it back in your underwear.” (Amber)
  • “Yes, you’re allowed to say ‘bad ass’ in this instance, but don’t go making a habit of it, ya got me?” (Said by Billy, referring to a suit of armor for an imaginary man cave)
  • “You can’t just come back to life after your brother killed you!” Don’t cheat; you’re now on the sidelines until all the kids are dead!” (Eddie)
  • “Um is that TP hanging from your butt? Did you even finishing going? If you leave it there it dries on and is harder to get off. OK in the bath tub.” (Erika)
  • “Do not call yourself Lil’ Woody at recess.”(Kelley)
  • “Don’t put your penis on the TV.” (Chrissy)
  • “Don’t wipe boogers on the cat!” (Marguerite)
  • “Go ahead. Whatever happens is on you.” (Kimberly)
  • The son: “I just want to climb this tree.” The mom: “Go ahead, and see how far you get.” The reply: “You’re always ruining my fun.” (Kimberly again)
  • “Who put the athletic cup in my purse?” (Caroline)
  • “The dog brought three waffles down from your room today. Stop leaving food up there!” (Caroline again)
  • “How can you still be hungry? You just ate a footlong Subway!” (Also Caroline)
  • “Why are there empty cereal boxes in the pantry?” (More Caroline)
  • “Get the earbuds out of your ears! I’m talking to you.” (Still Caroline)
  • “I don’t care who started it! Just stop!” (Caroline one more time)
  • “Don’t bite your toenails. That’s just gross.” (Caroline has three boys)
  • “We do not eat people!” (Stephanie)
  • “You can NOT go to school naked!(Stephanie again)
  • “If you’re not dressed in 2 minutes, you’re going to school naked.” (Stephanie with the mixed message)
  • Son #1: “Mom! He’s looking out my window!”
    Son #2: Continuing to stare intently out his brother’s window.
    Me: “He’s breathing your air too so get over it.” (Pam)
  • Those clothes/that camping gear/that (pick a sport) uniform cannot touch the carpet anywhere in the house.” (Michele)
  • “No, you cannot eat the whole chicken/roast/side of beef. Leave some for the rest of us.” (More Michele)
  • “Socks, especially stiff ones, go in the laundry basket.” (Michele one more time)
  • “You are not leaving this house until you figure out what that awful smell in your room is.” (Shital)
  • “Get that mulch/beetle/mustard bottle out of your mouth!” (Shital again)
  • Are you ever going to remember to flush the toilet?” (Nicole)
  • “Do you realize that not doing your homework makes me want to strangle you?” (More Nicole)
  • “OK, how about let’s try that again, but this time tell the truth.” (Nicole again)
  • “It’s fine with me if you can’t get your driver’s license until you’re 18.” (One more from Nicole)
  • “You must flush the toilet every time you use it! There is pee all over the floor!” (Amanda)
  • “I am not your maid!” (Also Amanda)
  • “Hey! Stop! No [sniffing] armpits.” (Candy)

There are a few themes here, including being preoccupied with body fluids and functions. And I know from being married to a man that not much changes in adulthood.

Yours in solidarity,
Beth

P.S. Parents of girls, I don’t want you to feel left out. I’ll post your crazy comments too. Please share them below or via Twitter, email, DM, Facebook, Hando’s Instagram page — whatever!

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Dear Parents of Boys,

A little more than eight years ago, I posted my Top 10 recent quotes as a mom. I thought of that list this week because I could not believe some of the things I’ve had to say to the boys, now 11 and 13. Here’s the 2018 expanded version:

  1. Put on some pants before you hug me. I don’t want you to drape your wiener across my leg.
  2. Esmeralda* is off today. Get this underwear off the floor.
  3. Please clean your bathroom. There’s all sorts of fluid all over the mirror.
  4. I’ve clocked out for the night. Ask your father; he’s on call.
  5. It’s not appropriate to flick food across the cafeteria.
  6. Please get your hands out of your pants.
  7. Be quiet! You sound like a howler monkey.
  8. Stop eating — it’s almost bedtime!
  9. You have to open this door and let the air circulate. It smells like ass in here.
  10. You can’t watch “Game of Thrones” with us. (And no, I don’t like Jon Snow better than Daddy!)
  11. Yes, you have to go to school today.
  12. No, you cannot eat granola bars for dinner.
  13. No, you cannot watch yet another episode of “Teen Titans Go!
  14. It’s time to get off the Xbox. Yes, now. I don’t care about your “Fortnite” mission.
  15. Keep your hands to yourself. (How often do I say this? Every. Single. Day.)

Not much has changed from 2010, really. (And yes, I also tell them regularly that I love them.)

Please tell me I am not alone. What things have you said recently that you never thought you’d say? Tell me in the comments.

In the meantime, I’ll pray for you if you pray for me!

Sending strength,
Beth

* The name of our make-believe housekeeper

 

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Dear Gideon,

Youngest fruit of my loins, you may never hear this again, but you were right and I was wrong. Of course, you don’t know that I ever disagreed with you on the point of baseball, but I have to come clean.

When you said you wanted to try out for the team, I said:

Sure, baby. Whatever you want.

But inside, I was like:

I thought the coach would be a douchey frustrated former ballplayer.

I was wrong.

I thought the other moms would be cliquey mean girls.

I was wrong.

I thought I would hate trekking to the field and sitting outside to watch your games and practices. (OUTSIDE!? What is this concept?)

I was wrong.

Maybe I’m in a period of personal renewal where I am actively seeking new experiences, but THIS HAS BEEN GREAT!

I’m proud of you for trying something new to our family. (Basketball would have been the expected choice because of your dad’s history, but no. You have to be different.)

I’m still trying to figure out all the rules. (Sorry I got excited today when I thought you got that kid out at third. I didn’t know you had to tag on a steal. I’m learning too.)

Plus, I’m meeting new people, thanks to you. (See that woman in pink on the left? That’s Suzanne. She is fantastic.)

You know what also helps? Coolers are allowed at the park.

Hando and I enjoy the game. We were so proud when you scored.

Again, you were right. And so was Yogi Berra.

Love ya, kid. You’re the best.

Go Rockies!
Mama

*Thank you, Chicago.

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