Everything I Know About Motherhood So Far

© Pkruger | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Pkruger | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

My son turns eight next week, and since it looks like I won’t be having another child to practice on, I won’t be needing a lot of these hard-earned lessons for my next kid. Therefore, I give them to you, gentle reader.

1. Forget all of those gender-neutral parenting plans you had. Once the epidural wears off, reality kicks in. Nature, schmature, nurture, schmurture. You have joined the MOB. You’re the Mother of a Boy and there’s no turning back. The fart jokes will start in about ten minutes, and eight years later you’ll still be holding your breath.

2. Your child will never appreciate those first few years you spent sleepless, showerless, and adult-conversationless. In fact, he may even laugh loudly at a picture of what you looked like back in those days. If you get a chance for some time to yourself, run, as fast as you can. Sure your one-year-old may whine a bit and your two-year-old may throw a tantrum as you leave, but your seven-year-old will never know the difference.

3. All history happens to a kid, “when I was three.” “I had a really bad dream when I was three, that’s why I can’t go to sleep until midnight, mom.” “When I was three you slammed my finger in the car door.” “I heard you say a bad word when I was three.” Whatever the memory, it happened “when I was three.”

4. The only scientifically documented thing that actually happens at age three is kids become obsessed with their feet. Never accept food of any kind from a three-year-old.

5. Four-year-old boys can get a bit emotional when you deny them things. Here’s my favorite tip: You can say “maybe” and mean “no.” “Maybe” buys you time. “Maybe” helps you avoid tantrums in public places. “Maybe” gives your child a teensy tiny bit of hope he can hang on to for a little while, and he just might forget about what he wanted in the first place. This works with husbands as well as kids.

6. When you figure out how to explain to a five-year-old that some people get pretty offended when you take a certain someone’s name in vain, please, please, please help me explain it to my son. Meanwhile, if you know a way to avoid cussing when you spill a piping hot latte all over your new Coach purse, could you also let me know?

7. I know we haven’t had a rainy day in a long time, but when Koss was five, it rained a lot. Santa Barbara is not a rainy day friendly town–I’m surprised the bowling alley isn’t outdoors. When you coop up 48 pounds of five-year-old boy energy inside a teeny tiny house for too long, something’s got to give–your sanity. My suggestion is to hook him up to an electricity generating treadmill. Viola, no more global warming.

8. Six-year-old boys turn into lawyers–everything is a negotiation or a stall tactic, and you have no choice but to develop your own legal skills. For example, after the 13th time you tell him to brush his teeth/finish his homework/put out the recycling/tar the roof, he’ll finally look up from his whatever game he’s into that week and say, “chill, mom.” This is what’s known as stalling. Forcibly take the game from him and turn it off. Tell him he’ll get it back after he brushes his teeth/finishes his homework/puts out the recycling/tars the roof, etc. This is what’s known as a negotiation.

9. Seven-year-olds can chatter incessantly about mythical creatures and who would beat who in a fight — seriously, my kid can go at least 10 minutes without taking a breath. The trick is to nod your head and think about George Clooney. When your son finally stops talking, answer, with a straight face, “I think the second one is more powerful.” Works every time.

10. If he says he’s “gotta go,” he’s gotta go. And even if he says he doesn’t, make him pee anyway before you leave the house. If he’s two, your best friend’s new hardwood floors will thank you. If he’s seven, his baseball coach will thank you.

11. Seven-year-olds can do a lot of things for themselves, but they need very specific directions. Don’t say, “get a snack” unless you’re OK with him snacking on leftover Halloween candy. And if you let him snack on the fruity-chewy-gooey-not-worth-the- calories-candy, remember, you won’t be able to use it in his birthday piñata in July.

12. Never, under any circumstances, even if you have to push him away from the scale at Weight Watchers, let your child see how much you weigh. Show him your tax returns if you need to distract him.

13. Male Answer Syndrome kicks in early. If you want to know anything about anything, ask your seven-year-old son.

14. Keep in mind; sarcasm is a sign of wit, intelligence, and cleverness…until your kids use it.

Share your parenting lessons with Leslie at Leslie@LeslieDinaberg.com.

Originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on May 9, 2008.

Floor Women Only

© Netris | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Netris | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Have you ever wished there was such a thing as a bar for women only, where you could order a cosmopolitan with “an extra shot of vodka and hold the testosterone?” Guys are great and all, but every once in a while I have those days where I’ve had more than enough of their gaseous noises, dirty socks, smelly armpits and male answer syndrome.

OK, “every once in a while” might be a bit of an understatement.

Every time I wipe the shaving cream off the sink, I dream of sleeping on a bed of rose petals, and waking up to the quiet gurgling of a chocolate fountain, instead of my husband’s snoring.

That’s my version of a mental man-vacation.

My actual man is on a manly vacation somewhere on a river north of nowhere right now, which means it should be my turn next. If I ever actually got to go on a girls’ weekend away, I might choose a resort in Mexico, a spa in Palm Springs or maybe wine tasting in Napa Valley or even sunning myself on the French Riviera, as long as I’m dreaming.

But until last week I never really thought about Michigan as a girls’ getaway hotspot.

Then I heard that J.W. Marriott Hotel in Grand Rapids announced that it would be devoting its entire 19th floor–bar included–to female guests. Their spokeswoman, Andrea Groom, told the Associated Press that with women comprising over half of all business travelers, the all-female floor will allow women to “relax over a drink without getting hit on by guys.” The rooms will feature female-friendly amenities like “jewelry holders” (How did I ever live without one of those?) and “special hair dryers” (Are they pink? Do they color your hair while they dry it?), chenille throw blankets, “special bath products,” a stool in the shower for leg shaving, and copies of Oprah and Cosmopolitan Magazines beside the bed instead of the Gideon’s Bible.

OK, I made that last part up, but the rest is actually true. And so is this: staying in the Marriot’s man-free zone will cost you an extra $30 a night. It costs extra to be surrounded by women? I lived in a sorority house with 80 other girls, and well; let’s just say we could used a shot of testosterone with our morning coffee.

Will women really go for the Club Femme? Let’s just say I’ve got my reservations about the idea. They’ve certainly gone for the all-women gym concept with Curves, which has become the world’s largest fitness franchise in large part because of their “no men, no mirrors” gimmick.

I’ve never really gotten the appeal of the women-only gym. I’ve joined a lot of workout places over the years–and gained and lost the same 20 pounds–and the most fun I had was at an almost all-male (unless you count the transvestites) gym in West Hollywood. There was man candy everywhere I looked. But it was calorie-free, since this particular group of guys only had eyes for each other.

Despite the political incorrectness of it all, businesses with gender specific target marketing are popping up all over the place. There is Knockouts Haircuts for Men, a chain dubbed “the Hooters of haircutting,” which features scantily clad, well-endowed stylists and free beer. Before you laugh, get this: last year Knockouts ranked among the top 30 per cent of America’s fastest-growing franchises.

Would the female equivalent be Mani-Pedi-Eddie’s with Chippendales-trained technicians to chip away your old polish? That sounds fun and all, but I’d trade it in a second for a nice, hot, uninterrupted bath on a 19th floor that I had all to myself.

OK, maybe I’d be willing to share my floor with a box full of chocolate men–as long as they only had eyes for me.

Originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on June 1, 2007