How am I scary? Let me count the ways:
1. The kids know that Daddy and I know just where to buy a cattle prod.
2. I never speak down to the kids, expecting them to ask me to explain concepts they don’t understand; baby-talk is for the kitty. If I use a “five-dollar word” they need to understand it or ask me what it means.
3. I enjoy the Nerf guns as much as the kids do, largely because I can act out my aggressions on them without actual physical injury. Anyone who claims it isn’t fun to shoot their kids with Nerf is lying.
4. Both of my kids have been able to recognize sarcasm and use it, effectively and in context, since preschool age. (OK, that’s probably scarier for me than it is for you, but some of their teachers have been less-than-pleasantly surprised!)
5. I let them read whatever they want, even when it makes me distinctly uncomfortable (knowing that explanations will be sought and must be given). Hubby and I were both scarred by reading too-advanced material at a tender age and it’s made us better thinkers (I hope!).
6. This is really a Scary Daddy entry (we are a team, after all). My spouse is fond of toddlers and loves their credulity. He is missing a piece of one toe due to a longago freak swimming accident but he had the kids thoroughly convinced that an alligator (make your eyes huge when you say it!) had eaten it. We held out on that one for YEARS, until it became ridiculous to persist and hubby told the truth to the younger child, who held onto the Real Story Of Dad’s Toe for another year before revealing the truth to the elder child!
7. At the age of three, the boychild’s favorite movie was “Beetlejuice.” And we have let the kids see movies that we *thought* were OK, only to discover while watching them that they weren’t. (Who remembered how much cussing there was in “Short Circuit?!?” Not us!) We let them watch a lot of movies that other parents won’t, because after letting them see the Lord of the Rings trilogy how much harm could there be? Once you’ve seen an enemy’s dismantled head flying over the fortress walls it kind of takes the shock out of a car chase scene or a swordfight.
8. My spouse has a seasonal job that means the kids and I are on our own for dinner a couple of nights per week for a few months of the year. They think it’s a treat to eat in the living room in front of the TV, so we do it when Dad’s not home.
9. I honestly believe that every child has needed a swat on the bottom at least once.
10. I’m a bad housekeeper. Really. I cannot stand dirty dishes but dust bunnies aren’t even on the radar. Paper is the worst offender – bits that you should save but which don’t file well, kids’ drawings, “handy tips,” all that stuff.
11. One of the girlchild's schoolmates actually calls me Scary. One Valentine’s Day I made those felt fortune cookies for her classmates. For all but one of the fortunes I used stock fortune cookie phrases. This particular kid is very high-spirited, a real class clown (with the most gorgeous green eyes you’ve ever seen). So on a single fortune I typed “[Kid name] will do something silly in the next 30 minutes.” Naturally this was the fortune that was opened by a teacher, who got a real kick out of it. The named kid, however, was horrified – said “Your Mom doesn’t even know me!” He won’t speak to me to this day, and actually says of the girlchild, “Her Mom is Scary!”
12. The boychild’s “take” on what makes me scary: [insert horrified look here] “gossiping about your kids on your blog!”
In fairness to myownself, and to keep Child Services from sending someone out to the house, I qualify all of the above with the following. They’re pieces of our family lore that make us a solid unit, safe from the Big Bad World when need be.
1. I tell them I love them at least once per day.
2. When the boychild leaves for school we all shout, “Love you, have a good day, stuff your brains with knowledge!”
3. When I say goodnight to the girlchild, I say “Fais de bon rêves,” which in French means “make fine dreams.” (I think I've got the French incorrect here but it's too late to change it.)
4. We eat dinner together every night that the family is all available. We make sure this is most nights, with the exception of number 8 above.
5. The kids get regular visits with their grandparents and their “cool” aunt; they know their extended family WAY better than I ever knew mine, and socialize regularly with second cousins. (I wouldn’t know some of my *first* cousins on the street!)
6. I’m good for homemade coffee cake, with lots of cinnamon sugar, most winter Sunday mornings.
After making this list, I should probably go back and edit the heck out of it so you don’t think I’m some kind of monster. I do love the little boogers even when I want to throttle them, have never regretted my conscious decision to have them even while yelling “I did this ON PURPOSE?!?” and am eagerly awaiting my Mommy payback in the form of grandchildren ... someday.
My favorite pics of the offspring. One is a software-created line drawing from a photo and the other is a negative gone awry in a terrific way at the photo lab.