Picture Day F*ck Show

Picture Day equals drama in my house. It all began with a shirt, a boy who hated the shirt and ended with a Mama who lost her shit. Well, that’s the short version at least…

On normal occasions, I am allowed to pick out clothes for the boys, provided I stick to the regimented jeans or athletic pants- but not sweat pants- a tee-shirt with stripes or a solid color- no plaid- and a long sleeve shirt, with no collar, or buttons unless I have prior authorization. The dress shirt is known as the Wedding Shirt. Socks need to be ankle height with shorts however length is not an issue with pants. Sweaters are okay, again advanced approval is required. Walk in the f-ing park, right?! These requirements must also meld with mine including no holes, stains or superheroes, without my validating consent (see two can play). Should they be picking out their own clothes? Yup. Am I avoiding a mess, anxiety and fights at 6am? You betcha. If they wanted to pick out their own, I’d surely let them but no one shows much interest…

Until Picture Day.

I have a white dress shirt, with (gasp!) buttons and (double gasp!) a collar with a pair of jeans for each kiddo this morning. Laid out at the foot of each bed with underwear, socks and an undershirt to avoid their chest hair from showing in the photos. Okay, not really. They didn’t laugh at that joke either…

Cue the complaining. Cub: I am NOT wearing that Wedding Shirt! Mooch: Fine. Put it on me. (I always knew I loved him best…) C’mon buddy. It’s the one day of the school year I ask you to wear a shirt with a collar. I am sure all your friends are too. No they aren’t. And I am not wearing that. Yes, you are. All of your friends’ moms will be picking out shirts too. I don’t ask for much but on picture day, I’d like you to wear a shirt with a collar. Now please put it on and come down for breakfast. As I head downstairs, I hear him say No, followed by that uggghhhh noise (I am sure it was accompanied by the signature third grade eye roll). Packing lunches, making breakfast. I call him down again. Cub appears at the top of the stairs with his pants and socks on. No shirt. Where’s the shirt? On the floor. I am not wearing it. It’s junk. Look, I need you to get that shirt on and get down here so you don’t miss the bus. I know you don’t want to wear the shirt but today you are going to because I said so. Got it? (Oh my god.. I am my mother.) FINE. He disappears for a moment and then returns to the head of the stairs with the shirt balled up in his hand. Now as I am sure you can imagine, I am pretty pissed. And I am really trying not to start screaming like a maniac here but I am about to lose it. So what does he do? He looks down at me, right in the eye, and heaves the shirt down the stairs. It hits me in the face… I see red.

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I march up the stairs, take him by the arm and bring him down the stairs (this of course, is not as you are picturing… Okay, it’s actually exactly how you are picturing). I put the shirt on him without a word- or eye contact, his complaining is now drowned out by that new Katy Perry song- the butchering she does of Eye of the Tiger- you know the one- I bring him over to the table and shove breakfast at him. I’m getting in the shower and that food better be gone by the time I get out. I storm into the bathroom. What is my problem…? Why am i behaving this way? I am not going to budge on that shirt but how can I dismiss his feelings of insecurity and embarrassment? Mama Fail. Half dressed, I head back out to the kitchen. Buddy, I am sorry snapped at you. I know you don’t want to wear that shirt. I don’t want to argue with you about it and I am sorry we don’t agree. You just want me to look bad. Why would I want you to look bad on picture day? Because you hate me and you want me to look ugly. I love you. I want you to wear the shirt so that you look a little more dressed up for the school picture. You want me to look wimpy for the picture and you want me to be happy about it. I–ugh… Yeah… Shit.

I do want him to wear it but am I really asking him to be happy about it? Crap. I lean down to him. I am sorry you don’t want to wear the shirt. I know you don’t feel comfortable in it. How about we pack a different shirt to change into after the picture- would that be better? Yes, that would be better. And I am sure all the other boys will have Wedding Shirts on too. Remember last year one of your friends wore a tie. James won’t be wearing at Wedding Shirt. I am sure he will. I think he wore one last year. Okay. Fine. As long as I can change.

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So the fight ended with Cub wearing the Wedding Shirt and me feeling like I made it okay. Until I see that James’ mother has a picture posted on her Facebook page, with her smiling son at the bus stop. And guess what? No Wedding Shirt. Shit. Cub’s gonna kill me. But at least he’s wearing a collar…

Peace, Mamas.

Coming Up for Air

Holy shit that was fast.  In a nanosecond, summer passed us by.  It’s been a while.  My last post was about indulging myself in what was supposed to be my kids’ summer vacation.  Once I abandoned being a self-absorbed lamo, I threw myself into playing with my three little dudes.  We beached it a few times, went to the library a bunch and hung out in the yard, ran in the grass and fell into bed with dirty feet.  And we went to the Ben and Jerry’s Factory for a tour.  Which taught me a few nuggets of parenting genius- which of course, I intend to share here.

I hadn’t done many things with all three kiddos solo- other than work on my (semi) stay-at-home mom tan, while Pintersting as the kids dug holes at the beach- so I decided we needed a trip- somewhere to acquaint them with the culture of our state (Vermont), somewhere they could learn about local agriculture and industry, somewhere educational… Yup, we went to the Ben and Jerry’s Factory.  To learn about ice cream!  I was quite proud of myself as I drove to Waterbury (about a 35 minute commute from home), nearly smug as I pulled into the parking lot, pumping myself up.  See, Mama!  You can do this on your own!  Everyone is happy and ready for a relaxed day of ice cream and fun.  Ha.  Sure they are.  After parking, I gleefully walk to the trunk to get out the stroller- essential piece of equipment for a solo Mama of three at in ice cream factory…  Trunk’s empty.  What the fuck.  Reminder: send husband a hate text.  Now what.  Well, I guess Zook is going to have to walk.  Sure.  That will be simple.  A two-year-old is totally going to hold my hand and walk calmly and quietly as we tour an ice cream factory, right?  Riiiight.  Parenting Nugget #1: Always bring the fucking stroller.

Unloading everyone from the car, I pass out cheerful reminders like party favors.  Let’s try to be really good listeners today!  Mama needs your help to be calm!  We all need to work together and follow directions!  Hopefully they are not listening well enough to hear the panic bubbling in my throat…  This was going to be a long morning.  And why the hell do I not have the stroller?!  Okay Zook, hold Mama’s hand…  Nope.  Me run now!  Shit.

Up the 47 stairs from the parking lot.  Inside and into line to buy the tickets.  Thirty minutes until our tour begins… What are we going to do to kill some time.  Cub spots a spin art station.  The kids run over, to drop paint from a bottle onto a spinning sheet of paper.  Now I have to point out here that although the kids loved this, whoever in their right mind thought that a horde of children crowding around a spin art table was a good idea, clearly did not have children.  “Okay, just one drop of each color!”, the cheerful (annoyingly cheerful) 16 year old girl says to the boys as they rush the spinning paper.  Oh yeah, they are totally going to listen to you, honey.  Good one.  Zook takes a death grip on the bottle and squeezes like he’s trying to force out the last bit of ketchup.  Except the bottle is full and now there’s paint everywhere.  Everywhere.  Sweating, I pry the (now nearly empty) paint bottle from his paint-covered hands.  And now he’s screaming.  There’s paint everywhere.  Calm down, pull it together.  Clean up.  Who wants to pose in front of the giant ice cream truck?  Parenting Nugget #2: Don’t ever let a two year old do spin art.

Okay so spin art sucked up about 12 minutes- including clean up, which was really rather impressive.  Now what.  The boys spot a playground.  Perfect.  Just as they descend on the slides and climbing walls, I feel it.  The trickle.  A week early.  I have on mint green capris.  Fuck.  Boys!  We have to go back to the car for a minute.  Moans.  Whining.  All the “but we just got here”, “we want to stay” start a’flowing.  I forgot something and we need to go back to the car. Now.  Grumbling.  Of course Zook wants to walk.  All the way back to the car.  Oh dear god… This is bad.  In an effort to maintain my calm facade and struggling not to start screaming- or running- I try to formulate my plan of attack.  Do I dare leave them outside the stall in the bathroom?  Do I bring them in?  No.  There will be questions… Questions are bad.  The car.  I have to make it work in the car.  Good god, I have to make it work in the car!

I’ll spare you the details but my critical, curious (and a little annoying) 8 year old pretty much bitched me out the whole time while Zook literally devoured half a tube of chapstick and Mooch asked about 40,000 times how many more minutes until our tour- which by this time, I had completely forgotten about because so far, this fun trip to the ice cream factory has consisted of no stroller, spin art and my fucking period.  Where’s the bar.  Mama needs a drink.  Parenting Nugget #3: Don’t get your period at the ice cream factory.  (What?  TMI, you say?  Well, the name of this blog is Mama Gets Real.  And this is about as real as it gets.)

Long story long, we made it to the tour in the nick of time.  It was pretty boring.  But there was ice cream at the end and no one had a melt down.  As we drove out of the parking lot, Cub asked if we could do this every weekend, Mooch asked if we could have ice cream for dinner and Zook was passed out before we hit the interstate.  And my mint capris were totally fine.  Just when I think things are falling apart, they come together.  I forced myself to remain positive and my little ducklings followed suit.  Our summer wrapped up nicely.  My heart feels so full when I think about our last days of summer.  Completely elated that I had this time with them- which while stressful, warmed my soul.  Parenting Nugget #4: Enjoy these summer moments… Because the shit hits the fan when school starts again.

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Peace, Mamas!

Whoppers

Mama: What happened to your legs?

Zook: Fell me.  (Little man speaks in Yoda-ish format most of the time.)

Mama: How did those marks get all over your legs?

Zook: Boo-boos.  Fell me.

Mama (Yoda Decoder):   Those are boo-boos from when you fell?

Zook: Yeah…

Mama: It looks like pen to me…

Zook: Yeah…

Mama: Did you drawn on your legs with pen?

Zook: Um… Fell me.  On pen me.

Mama: You fell on the pen and that’s how it got on your legs?

Zook (Beaming Yoda): Yup!

Okay, 1. I need some kind of a trophy for mastery of this new language and 2. We need to have a chat about fibbing… As soon as I stop giggling.

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Peace, Mamas.

Sunday Reset: Mother’s Day Do-Over

One of the most wonderful parts of beginning this blog was finding out I am not the only totally dysfunctional Mama out there- there are so many more crazy women out in the world who are flailing through life, feeling like miserable failures and powerful gladiators at the same moment.  This was never more apparent to me than last week.  Mother’s Day not only a let-down (and not in the awkwardly-wet-booby-spot-on-your-shirt- way) for me- but many of you also had Mother’s Days that sucked!  That’s awesome!  Well, not really awesome but it made me feel like I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get breakfast in bed, only to open the silver dome over my perfectly cooked eggs (which we don’t even have, but I picture it with the dome) to find some exquisite piece of  sparkle.  Now if you were one of the ones who got the dome, good for you.  But instead of the dome, I awoke to fighting, yelling and three little pains in the ass… And a big one in the neck.  On the heels of my last post, we decided this weekend would be a Mother’s Day Do-Over.

I enjoyed tee-ball, Big Truck Day with the kiddos (with no fights or whining- shocker!), a fire in the yard, marshmallows- and plenty of chocolate- wine spritzers and a very special date with my man.  Sunday was filled with gardening, rolling in the grass with the three wonders who made me a Mama, a great workout and impromptu dinner with neighbors (which of course included more wine).  It was a wonderful Do-Over Weekend!

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I hope that all you Mamas who had a rough Mother’s Day got your Do-Over.  It felt beyond necessary to be appreciated and my ability to not have crazy expectations enabled me to feel the joy of playing with my children.  The comfort of spending time with my husband.  To feel the love of Mamahood.  That’s what Mother’s Day is about.  I didn’t need flowers (or the fricken silver dome) to have a meaningful day.  I just needed my children.  And the handsome guy who gave these wonderful little souls to me.

But a pedicure would have been nice too…

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Mama Gets Real… Toes are a wreck.

Peace, Mamas!

 

Twenty-Four Hours as a Mama

Wednesday

5:00pm- Husband calls: Cub has (another) migraine and is going to skip lacrosse.  Again.

5:15pm- Mama arrives home, takes dinner (prepared last night) out of the oven.

5:20pm- Cub vomits.

5:30pm- Mama tucks Cub in bed with Tylenol and bucket, ensures that towels are covering every square inch of carpet surrounding his bed.

5:40pm- Mama sits down to dinner.

5:45pm- Mooch complains of stomach ache.  Shit.

6:00pm- Mooch goes to bed.

6:15pm- Mama cleans up kitchen.

7:00pm- Mama brings Zook up to bed, which is shared with Mooch– Who is now moaning.

7:15pm- Mama nearly loses her shit and Husband comes up for relief.  Did I mention I appreciate this man?

8:00pm- Mooch, moaning again.  Shit.  It’s coming.

8:02pm- Mooch vomits.  Mama is a little slow with the bucket.  Mama brings Mooch downstairs to bathroom, cleans him up, changes his shirt.  Husband attempts clean up.  With Mama’s bath towel.  Never mind the last bit about appreciating him.

8:15pm- Mooch goes back to bed.  Mama finishes clean up.

8:30pm- Quiet.

9:30pm- Mama goes to bed.

9:45pm- Moaning.  Mooch vomits again.

10:15pm- Mama tucks Mooch back into bed.

11:30pm- Mooch vomits.

Thursday

1:40am- Mooch vomits.

3:35am- Mooch vomits.

4:30am- Cub comes in.  He’s awake now.

5:00am- Husband gets up to shower.  Mooch and Zook are up now too.  Ugh.  Mama hides.

6:00am- Mama is up.

8:30am- Mama arrives at work and gets to close the door to pee and eat snacks without running defense for the last bite.  Amazing.

5:35pm- Mama arrives home from work.  Husband has dinner on the table.  Appreciating him again.

5:45pm- Mama remembers Mooch has Open House at preschool.  At 6:00pm.

6:05pm- Open House.

6:45pm- Home.  Mama scarfs down the rest of dinner.

7:00pm- Husband tucks kids in bed.

7:35pm- Quiet.

8:02pm- Zook has to pee.  Ugh.

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M&Ms really pair better with red…  Cheers, Mamas!

Mama is Fed the F*ck Up

I don’t know how I got here but I am really struggling.  Patience are none existent.  Rationality has been exhausted.  My last nerve has been on extended leave.  What the hell is going on?  Well, I’ll tell ya.  My two year old has made a liar out of me.  Up until now, I never believed in the Terrible Twos.  Three was the worst in our house.  Three was the age of talking back, and fierce independence.  I thought the Terrible Twos were a load of shit.  Until I met Zook.

His whining has become the soundtrack to my life.  I swear, the crying and wallowing haunts me in my sleep.  He wants to help with everything.  Which is fine.  Takes a few extra minutes but I can deal with that.  If that was it.  But helping doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of my frustration with this child as of late.

Tonight was taco night.  Zook wanted a soft shell with shredded cheese.  Rolled inside.  Wait, on the side.  On the side of the plate.  Actually on the plate.  Yes, on the plate with sour cream to dip it in.  No, sour cream on the tortilla.  Okay, cheese on the side with sour cream in the taco.  Got it.  Nope, change of plans.  Sour cream out of the tortilla.  With cheese on the side.  What?  There’s still sour cream on the tortilla?  I can’t get it all out.  Now the tortilla is on the floor.  Now he wants a new tortilla.  With cheese.  And sour cream.  And tomatoes.  What. The. Fuck.

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I just can’t win with this kid.  I am certainly not a rookie Mama but lately, I am feeling like I am flailing through my interactions with this child.  I have no clue what is going to piss him off.  A dribble of milk spills next to his cereal bowl.  He wants cake.  In bed.  He wants me to fit the baseball through the egg-sized hole.  He doesn’t wait to sit in his carseat.  His shirt has a picky part.  His sock has an itchy part.  He wants to crush every Lego ship in the save-spot.  Please don’t hit Mama with the hammer.  Please, Mama!  Hit Mama, please!  Are you kidding me, kid?!

Being a Mama is so hard right now.  Tonight I literally felt like I could have shaken him.  Can they still get shaken baby syndrome at age two?!  I didn’t… But I could have.  I feel like I am on edge.  Like I have some kind of sick mental illness where I try to anticipate things that will piss him off and prevent them so I can alter the future.  You really don’t want to flush the toilet this time?  Really?  But you really like to do it.  Are you sure because if I flush we can’t have a do over.  Okay…  Maybe we’ll leave it for a minute if you change your mind…  What is my problem?  Am I enabling this?

I feel like I am failing him and myself.  And it’s really not fair to my other two.  I get that.  I feel like I used to be so much better at negotiating this kind of stuff but I am really sucking.  Exhausted, depleted, defeated.  Mama is tired of trying.  Tired of the whining, begging, screaming.  Tired of the meltdowns (his and mine).  Beyond tired of the struggle.  When is this going to get better?  I know this is a phase.  But honestly, the next person who says that to me should guard their throat because I’m not sure I can control the urge to punch.  It is a phase but we’ve been in this fucking phase for months now and it’s not really getting better.  I need an intervention.  (Self-medicating with alcohol has proved to be only marginally effective…)

We will overcome.  We will get through this.  The silence tonight is my therapy.  I need peace so that I can convince myself tomorrow will be better; that I will have more patience; that we can make it through this.  I need to hear  all of these things to convince myself I really don’t need to pack that bag and sneak out in the night.  I need to look in on his sleeping sweet face.  I adore this child…  Why does he have to be so fricken adorable?!  They really are cuter when they’re sleeping, huh?

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Peace Mamas.

Celebrate the Differences… With Cake

*Disclaimer: Yes, this post is about cake.  Yes, you will want to eat some.  So maybe before you start reading, you should run and grab those M&M’s, that pack of fruit snacks, the jar of PB and the bag of chocolate chips (c’mon, I know that’s your go-to when you’ve got nothing else), or maybe you were able to score something good at the grocery store and managed to get it in the cabinet covertly.  Ah, the luxuries of Mamahood.

Sometimes I wonder who made these children.  I am relatively sure I am their mother but…  How could the offspring of two people be so different?  Sure there are some similarities but the ways in which they are unique seem to far outweigh their sameness.  My oldest, Cub, is thoughtful, intellectual and timid.  He’s filled with pride which provides a daily struggle with adhering to boundaries.  He has a hard time with change and finds comfort in routine.  He’s habitual and nervous.   Mooch is my middle.  He’s soft and loving; gentle and empathetic; wise beyond his years.  Provides endless affection, hugs and back rubs.  He’s sensitive, loyal and playful.  My youngest, Zook, is a wild child.  He sobs constantly and it’s effective because his shrieks force this Mama to cave.  He’s stingy with his love and has a temper which runs through him like a deep valley, jagged and unpredictable.  His sense of humor is rich and hearty and his helpful nature will take him miles someday.

Providing such brief descriptions is a bit of a struggle.  I know them better than I know myself at times.  I am able to calculate their responses to situations, interactions, conflict and personalities.  Still at times I am shocked by their uniqueness.  It was ever more apparent to me this weekend when we celebrated Mooch’s fifth birthday for what seems like the fifth fucking time in the last week.  We hosted some friends from his class for cupcake decorating- which was a fabulous party plan!  We were able to hold the entire party outside and clean-up was a cakewalk  (pun totally intended).

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Now before you jump up to raid your candy stash (I warned you), I want to get back to the uniqueness of my children.  I would like for you to get to know my children by the manner in which they chose to decorate their cupcakes.  One of my children went for precision.  One went for the shock-and-awe (I think?).   And one I could not capture as it was devoured at a rate which rivals my own speed of cake consumption- which for those of you who don’t know me personally is smokin’.  

In case you hadn’t guessed, Cub went for structure and balance.  The perfect ratio of frosting to sprinkles to toppings.  It was exquisite.

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Zook went for… Excess.  Quantity over quality.  Drama over practicality.  Impact over tasteful (again with the pun).

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Mooch.  The tasty confection was consumed in record time.  He then chugged off to run and laugh with his mates.

It’s not that surprising that I would choose to dedicate an entire post to cake- and I’m sure this won’t be the last- but it’s a new means by which to learn about my children.  And for me to attempt to express the awesomeness they possess.  The fullness, richness, sweetness they add to my life.  Eat more cake.

Peace Mamas.

Mama Gets Bus Chucked

Last week, part of celebrating the fifth birthday of my Mooch included a trip to the pediatrician.

Dr. Land: What is your favorite thing to play?

Mooch: Video games.

Dr. Land: What is your favorite food?

Mooch: Donuts.

Dr. Land: Do you wear your seat belt every time you are in the car?

Mooch: Yup.  But sometimes I just have to remind my mom.

Oh shit.  Kid chucked Mama under the bus.

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Little Boys are Murderers

Sweeping the mudroom this morning, I stumbled across a mass grave.  Of ants.  Let me start by saying that it may come as a surprise that although we live in a 143 year old farm house in a small Vermont town, we have never had a problem with insects (mice, of course but no bugs).  Until we updated our kitchen and uncovered some kind of colony of black ants.  For the last couple of months, we have used ant cups, gel cups and spray.  But to no avail.  The little suckers just keep coming back.  Our plan is to hire an exterminator to bomb the creepy bastards once it’s warm enough to open the windows without wearing our snowsuits- which in Vermont is typically June.  In the mean time, I have children to keep the problem somewhat under control.

Their method of extermination consists of picking each ant up and pinching its wriggling body between their fingers.  Most of the legs stop moving before they toss it back down.  Sometimes the legs continue to spasm for a few seconds but by this time, the boys have lost interest in their suffering victim and moved on to the next.  Of course the corpse is left behind (or tossed into the mudroom, thus the mass grave) with zip remorse.  Zip.

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Now all of this is gross, cringe-worthy and there’s nothing sanitary about it.  But what’s most disturbing about is sometimes they smile while doing performing the execution.  Even my two-year-old.  And once I started thinking about this, I was comforted by the realization that all boys are murderers.  This insecticidal ideation seems to be ingrained in their minds from a very young age- or as I believe, at birth- because surely this is not a result from my parenting.  Surely.  Nope.  I even remember my cousins (four boys- bless you Aunt Kay!) seeking out and murdering anything from insect to arachnids to small reptiles- well except for the nature-loving one who wore moccasins, purples Umbros and toted a stuffed kitty around until he was… well never mind.   But the rest were murderous.

Further distressing is that my husband seems to almost encourage this savage behavior.  He at least suggests the carcasses be disposed of outside (most of the time) but he doesn’t tell them to cease this beahvior.  I think I am the only one who cares.  And this is another reason I stand by my claim: This isn’t my fault.  This happens because boys are torturous, head-hunting babarians.  This uncivilized streak seems to be limited to bug-squishing so as long as I can count on table manners, I think I can overlook this.  But for God-sake, can’t they drag the bodies to the side of our property, dig some shallow unmarked graves and dump them there instead of the mudroom?  Having said that, I’m confident I am raising upstanding, contributing members of society.  I think.

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Bathroom Chat

Sometimes important conversations take place in odd places.  Tonight: the restroom at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

Child: Mama, you pee out your bum because you don’t have any penises, right?

Mama: Yup.  That’s right.  (Where are we going with this…)

Child: Because only boys have penises.

Mama: Right.  (Whew.)

Child: Well what do you have anyway?

Mama: It’s just a hole for pee to come out.  (Is that what I’m supposed to say?  Cause I can’t bring myself to say more.  Good God, there is someone in the next stall!)

Child: Oh.  Well, when I grow up, I am going to have big penises.

Mama: Really… How do you know?  (Can’t help myself.)

Child: Well, because all grown up boys have big penises.  Even Daddy.

Mama: Oh.  (Dear God, how can I possibly keep a straight face?  Even Daddy!  Can’t wait to tell hubby this one.) Let’s go wash our hands now.

Child: Okay.

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