All snakes and no kittens

Because I am a sophisticated lady, one of my all-time favorite movies is Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. I learned a lot of valuable lessons from that movie—about bicycles, about perseverance, about the Alamo—but the one scene that has always stuck with me throughout my life is the scene in which Pee Wee encounters a pet store that’s on fire. One by one, he rescues each and every animal in the store, pausing momentarily in front of a tank full of snakes each time he exits. Finally, once all the cuter animals have been saved, he has no choice but to go back for the snakes.

pee wee

I no joke use this scene as a metaphor for my life at least once a week. And judging from the reaction I get every time, I am literally the only person on earth that has ever seen this movie, but trust me, guys, it is fucking hilarious, and it’s on Netflix right now, so go check it out and then come back.

I can wait.

Okay, you’re back? You loved it? You fully understand why a woman with a master’s degree would connect with this movie on such a deep level and use examples from it to relate to her every day life? I figured you would. You just get it.

Anyway, lately, I’ve been feeling like my life is all snakes and no kittens. It seems like I’ve done all the easy things already, and just left behind a squirming mass of bills to pay and birthday parties to plan and floors to somehow chisel dried raspberries off of and projects at work that require both dedication and a deadened soul.

And I know it all has to get done—snakes, kittens, all of it—and that it makes sense to just get the snakes out of the way first, but you guys, the pet store is burning down, and I do not want to waste time saving snakes if it means that a bunch of kittens are gonna die. So I go for kittens first every time, even though it means I inevitably fall prey to times like this, when all that’s left are the snakes.

How do you deal with situations like this? Are you the responsible type that will save the snakes first? If so, how do you feel knowing that there might be a bunch of dead kittens because of you? And fellow kitten-savers—how do you dig yourself out when all you have left is snakes?

Leave your responses in the comments—tell ‘em Large Marge sent you.

(You would get that joke if you had gone and watched the movie like I said. Liar.)

The Sleep Summit

While Ben was out of town last week, the girls evidently held a secret conference. I don’t know where I was—maybe on my 100th milk run of the evening, waylaid in the kitchen by an over-affectionate Coconut, who, unbeknownst to me, was acting under orders. The conference took place in Addie’s room. In attendance: Addie, Rosie, Chris and Martin Kratt, and seven thousand Shopkins.

Addie: I feel like maybe Mom has gotten a little too comfortable around here.

Rosie: I don’t know, I mean, I feel like we’ve done a good job slowly eroding her spirit, right, Chris?


Addie: Yeah, during waking hours. But then there are all those sweet, sweet hours after we go to bed when she has control of the house.

Rosie: I thought Mommy was a robot that turned off after we went to bed.

Addie: I used to think so, too, but then, one night, when I thought I could come to the kitchen and help myself to some mini-muffins, guess who was standing there, completely not a robot, and took the muffins from me?

Rosie: [Gasps audibly.]

Addie: So I’m telling you, we’ve gotta hit her where it hurts.

Rosie: The boobies?

Addie: No, her bed, moron. But also her boobies.

Shopkins: [Lay on floor, saying nothing, preparing to stab Mommy in the foot as soon as she dares enter the room after dark.]

And so it came to pass that every night for the past week, Addie and Rosie have come to sleep in bed with me at some point during the evening. Addie will generally wake me up to inform me that she has arrived; when questioned, she makes up an elaborate story about a bad dream involving a spider and glowing green eyes out her window and sometimes killer unicorns, which is pretty badass, because those guys would make amazing impaling machines. Rosie, on the other hand, sneaks in using ninja-like skills, wedging herself between Addie and me until we form a capital H.

I’m not really sure how I’m going to undo this—I assume there is some parenting book about how to get your children to sleep in their own beds, but I’ve gotta believe that their method involves me waking up repeatedly in the middle of the night, and I would really rather just end up relegated to eight inches of mattress at the very edge of the bed than deal with that noise. I just keep telling myself that eventually they would be caught dead than spend their evenings snuggled up with their mama.

Even if their idea of “snuggling” is really just “sleep-punching me in my boobies.”

Inside Edition: Bathtime

You know those adorable photos that every parent takes of their child or children in the bathtub, sporting a bubble beard and Cindy-Lou Who pointed hairdo? They give you the impression that bathtime is a time of great joy in any household, all golden light and laughter and cleanliness. But you know what? Those pictures perpetuate a pack of lies.

What the pictures don’t tell you is that immediately beforehand, the children in question spent ten minutes doing cannonballs into the cramped tub, threatening life, limb, and the integrity of your tile floor. They also fail to mention that one or both children will almost immediately pee into the bathwater as soon as they get in, a fact that they will proudly announce, and you will wish they hadn’t, because if you hadn’t physically known the pee was there, you wouldn’t have had any qualms about washing them with it. But instead, you have to drain the tub, leaving you with cold, angry, soapy, urine-dipped children who exact their revenge in the form of liberal pants-soakings as soon as you try to wash them.

I have tried everything to cut these things off at the pass. I have even gone so far as to bathe my children while basically naked, just to avoid the disgusting feeling of wet leggings and socks after my fifth consecutive tsunami of soapy bathtub cannonball water. But somehow, they always get me. Whether it’s a run-of-the-mill splashing, or the unceremonious dumping of an entire bottle of conditioner into the bathwater, or, once, a piece of installation art that required the use of every single one of my clean washcloths, pasted to the shower wall with toothpaste, bathtime never fails to serve as a harrowing reminder of my mortality.

Even the mere act of coercing my children into the bathtub must be on par with the talents of some of our nation’s top hostage negotiators. There is much begging, pleading, bargaining and threatening required to get them into the tub, and even more to get them out again. Generally, by the end of bath night, I find myself with a soaked bathroom floor, no towels to spare, and the enviable task of needing to arrange for Justin Bieber to play a concert in my backyard. With ponies.

Now, it’s true that when they finally emerge from the bathtub, smelling all good and looking so clean, they are basically at peak cuddliness, particularly when wrapped in their hooded owl or dinosaur towels. I love making little comb lines in their hair, and wrapping them up all tight in their towels and hustling them into their little pajamas. Maybe that’s the moment you’re trying to capture when you take that bathtime pic– that little bit of peace and comfort that comes with a clean kid. Which lasts exactly as long as it takes for you to slip on the giant puddle they leave on the bathroom floor, cursing society for requiring cleanliness and reminding yourself to invest in dry shampoo and baby wipes.

Farmer Kim

When I was a kid, I always wanted to live in a big city, like Harriet the Spy, or Eloise. Never mind that I would have made the single worst city dweller in the world at the time, as I was terrified of buses and unable to function in large crowds, but I just assumed that I would naturally adapt, navigating the subways with ease and learning the difference between puddles of rain and human urine.

Instead, I lived in the suburbs with parents who had a secret love of all things farm. Every fall, we would go on farm tours, visiting everywhere from dairy farms (awesome) to chicken farms (deeply gross). Most of these tours involved me doing only two things, over and over again– happily inserting my arm up to the elbow into the mouth of a baby cow, and desperately searching for feral farm cats that I could attempt to persuade my parents to let me smuggle home in my gigantic denim purse.

Farm tours don’t seem to really be a thing anymore– maybe too many baby cows ended up gagging to death on the arms of overeager preteens– but luckily for me, I can still take my girls to the Lake County Farm Park, a working farm about ten minutes from my house.

We went today, and I can tell you, there is almost nothing better in this world than a working farm on a cold Saturday morning in April, for a number of reasons:

  1. Almost no one was there, allowing me to indulge in my favorite pastime– pretending that I am a celebrity and that venues have been closed to the public for my own amusement
  2. With little to no crowd, the staff becomes very lax, so you can basically do everything but ride the animals around the farm while screaming “I’M A COWGIRL!”
  3. All the animals are having babies right now, offering me a plethora of tiny, fluffy animals to manhandle and fantasize about taking home (I nearly lamb-napped this one guy, who kept closing his eyes and lamb-smiling every time I pet him under his chin, until I remembered that eventually he would grow into a gross giant sheep)

The girls are mostly into it because of the free tractor rides and the indoor playground that pops up around this time each year. Addie, in particular, has also developed an intense interest in what is probably the single most boring room on the farm, if not in the entire world– the Grain Room, which tells the harrowing story of the evolution of different grains over time, and also appears to be the employee break room, as it contains a coffee pot and mini-fridge that are decidedly un-grain-related.

But for me, it’s all about the animals. It’s all the best parts of every farm tour I’ve ever taken, only with way fewer chickens. Trust me, there is nothing you want to see at a chicken farm.

The Great Potato Fire

When Ben goes out of town, I generally eat only two things for dinner– Panera Thai chopped chicken salad, or Manwich sloppy joes. The Panera salad would be my number one choice at all times, as I love restaurants but hate buying gigantic pants, so the salad is a good compromise, but it is also fairly expensive, so I have to limit myself. Which leaves me with the Manwich, because I never learned how to cook, and sloppy joes push my culinary skills to the max.

My mother tried to teach me, but I just wasn’t interested. Why learn to cook, when food could just magically appear when someone else cooked it? And as a very anxious person, I tend to worry far too much about cooking to actually enjoy the process– what if I’m doing it wrong? What if this tastes disgusting? What if I poison someone with my inferiorly prepared chicken breast?

But I think the true reason I steer clear of cooking is The Great Potato Fire of 2001.

Allow me to set the scene– it was the end of my first semester in graduate school. My roommate had just moved out, taking with her all of the furniture and the means to pay the cable bill, so I was sitting on the floor in the living room in my pajamas at 3 pm on a Wednesday, sewing a sock monkey as a Christmas present and watching a video cassette of The Mikado that I had gotten from the library. You know, as one does from time to time. I was hungry, but I had no money– and not the “oh, I couldn’t possibly afford sushi and sake!” kind of no money, but the “it’s cool to use washcloths as toilet paper until I can afford to buy more as long as I wash them, right?” kind.

There was no money. But there was a potato.

One big, fat, perfect potato. The kind of potato that begs you to give its worthless existence some meaning by turning it into french fries.

Where I got the idea that I knew how to prepare french fries, I have no idea. I guess when you have no furniture and you’re watching light opera in your pajamas on a weekday afternoon, you develop a sort of hubris that you wouldn’t normally exhibit out in the world. But I went to work, carefully slicing the potato into fries, warming oil on the stove, sliding the potatoes into the pan. Yes, yes! This was all going according to plan! I can cook! Someone call my mom!

I had vague memories of my dad making fries in the Fry Daddy when I was growing up, and it didn’t seem like you needed to stand guard over the Fry Daddy at all times. So I went to check my e-mail.

This, in hindsight, may have been a mistake.

It only took a few minutes before I noticed that something seemed wrong. At first, it was almost imperceptible– the air just started to feel oily, as if I had chosen to skip eating the french fries and intended to inhale them in vapor form instead (a not altogether unpleasant experience– someone call the vape people and get them on this!). By the time I thought to investigate, the vapor had evolved into a white, voluminous smoke– a smoke that turned tornado gray and then erupted into flames before I even made it all the way to the stove.

I had finally done it. I had set my kitchen on fire.

Unsure of how to proceed, but unwilling to die in my pajamas surrounded by sock monkey detritus, I sprinted into the parking lot and began screaming for help. As luck would have it, the maintenance man just happened to be out doing his rounds, and he trotted over, much more slowly than one would hope when one is standing in a parking lot screaming for help. Upon surveying the situation, he calmly opened the cabinet under my sink, removed the fire extinguisher that apparently had been there all along, and put the fire out, simultaneously saving my life and robbing me of the only opportunity I had ever had to use a fire extinguisher under legitimate circumstances.

“There you go,” he said. “Enjoy your day.”

After he departed, I surveyed the damage. The walls behind the stove were scorched black, and the stove itself was enveloped in the pinkish-white foam of the fire extinguisher. I looked forlornly at the cremains of my last potato, swimming in rapidly congealing grease and foam. I had no money. I had no potato. And now I had a giant mess. That I was going to have to clean up myself.

I thought for a moment of simply abandoning the apartment, allowing it to be annexed by the two angry pit bulls that lived next door. But, knowing that if I did so, I would never get my security deposit back (and blissfully unaware in the moment that setting your kitchen on fire pretty much automatically costs you your security deposit, anyway), I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. The pan containing the fries had warped, so rather than try to salvage it, I just carried the whole situation out to the dumpster and threw it in, grease, fries, foam and all. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning out the nooks and crannies of my stove, and scrubbing (futilely) at the scorch marks on the walls. And in those moments, I learned two very important things:

  1. I had just physically passed through the portal from childhood to adulthood
  2. I was never, ever, ever going to cook anything again if I didn’t absolutely have to

That night, my best friend Ashley took pity on me and bought me a Chick-Fil-A dinner. Soon after, I flew home for Christmas, and when I returned, flush with parent money, I found a second job to ensure that I would always have enough money to keep myself in cereal and restaurant food for the rest of my days.

Ben loves to cook and he is terrific at it, and he has tried to teach me several times, but nothing ever sticks. Maybe if I hadn’t left to check my e-mail the day of the Great Potato Fire, things would have turned out very differently, and I would be a world class cook by now. I like to think that’s true, but honestly, given my attention span, it was never really a question of if I would set the kitchen on fire. It was just a question of when. 

To the creature adventure!

After weeks of waiting (and repeatedly and increasingly hostilely asking if it was time yet), we finally got our chance to see the Wild Kratts live and in person on Sunday, and it was basically everything I’d hoped it be. Except that I had really hoped that they might have a sloth with them, and that they would call Addie onstage to hold it, and I would hip-check her out of the way and grab the sloth and run until my legs gave out. But other than that—perfection.

I will say that the big reveal of the fact that Addie was going to actually get to meet the Wild Kratts after the show was rather underwhelming, because it turns out five-year-olds always naturally assume that they will be meeting the stars of any show they see, so this just reaffirmed that belief. This is going to be problematic when she gets older and I start taking her to concerts and she doesn’t understand why we’re not just sauntering up to unabashedly kiss Justin Timberlake all over his face, but for now, it worked out fine.

Considering Wild Kratts is a cartoon, I really didn’t know what to expect from the live show. Would there be actual animals? Would the other characters from the show be there? Would Addie freak the fuck out and yell at me if I even attempted to sing along with the show’s theme song when it started playing? It turns out the answers, in order, were no, sort of, and unequivocally yes.

The stage show, it turns out, features live-action Martin and Chris demonstrating the awesome abilities they gain from donning their creature power suits. At this point, I have no choice but to point out that Martin seems to have gotten sorta fat since this tour began, as Chris’ power suit fit like one would assume a power suit would fit (I’m thinking everyone has an idea how a creature power suit fits, right? No? Just me?), while Martin’s fit very much like a piece of highly uncomfortable scuba gear.

“Your boyfriend got fat,” Addie told me.

Once their power suits were on, they were able to assume the powers of any animal for whom they had a creature power disc. Chris went first, demonstrating caracal powers (a caracal, for those not in the know, is a badass looking wild cat whose overall tough guy look is completely ruined by a pair of comically oversized novelty ears), while Martin followed up as a rhino:


Everything was grand, until Zach Varmitech showed up with his evil Zachbots and stole the brothers’ miniaturizer (trust me, this would all make sense if you would just go watch the show). After that, the race was on to find and defeat the Zachbots and regain control of the miniaturizer.

And what better way to do that than with more creature powers? Because it’s not like they were going to be like, “eff this, let’s leave behind all this creature power stuff and just go kill them with baseball bats.” It might have made a little more sense, logically, but it would have made the whole thing take a pretty dark turn, and besides, I paid for creature powers, god dammit.

Whenever a Zachbot would show up on stage, Addie would lose her mind, standing up in her seat and screaming “THERE! HE’S RIGHT THERE! HURRY! HE’S GETTING AWAY!” Which was both really cute, and also sort of annoying, because she inevitably fails to tell me when her sister is about to do something life-threatening, but she’s right on top of it when a Zachbot shows up on the scene.



Finally the bros overcame the Zachbots (I am pleased to report that Chris failed in his endeavor as a woodpecker, but Martin totally saved the day as an orangutan), the miniaturizer was saved, and the show was over. Having never seen a live show for little kids before, I have to say, this one was honestly pretty fun– there were a few times I laughed out loud, and I think Addie would have rushed the stage and wrestled the Zachbot on her own if she could have, so she was definitely interested the whole time.

After everyone cleared out, it came time for us to meet the Kratt brothers, and tensions were high. Addie, having refused to pee during intermission, suddenly now had to go urgently, even if it meant sacrificing our place in line. Luckily, I forgot that all things involving small children move frighteningly slowly, so we were back in plenty of time to take our turn.

When she met Chris, who is her favorite, she was full of questions, mostly about Zoboomafoo, a live-action show the brothers had before Wild Kratts that Addie also loves and watches on Netflix. Did the brothers really live at Animal Junction? Was Zoboomafoo really their pet? Chris was super sweet and answered all of her questions– yes, they really lived there, no, Zoboomafoo was just their friend who happened to come visit them there, because all creatures should be living free and in the wild (way to stay on brand there, man!). You can see that Addie is absolutely besotted in her picture:


While we were waiting in line to meet Martin, she asked me, “What should I ask him?” I suggested finding out his favorite animal, or his favorite episode of the show, but she shooed me off, saying, “I got it.” When she got to him, he asked “Do you have any questions for me?”

“Nope!” she said with a satisfied grin. Defeated, Martin asked her to at least pose for a picture, which he got, grudgingly:


Poor Martin. You will always have the creature power disc to my heart, at least.

Back in business

You may have noticed that I’ve been away for the past three days. I mean, you probably didn’t, but there’s a small chance that you did. But fear not– I’m ready to get back in the saddle. A perfect storm of craziness hit here that sidelined me, including:

  • We went to see the Wild Kratts live, which deserves a post of its own, so I won’t elaborate much here, except to say that we didn’t get home until 10, and I was full of McDonald’s and the thrill of meeting Martin Kratt in person, and just couldn’t get it together enough to write anything.
  • My husband is out of town for the week, and I swear to God, my children have sensors inside them that detect the very second he leaves the Cleveland area for more than five minutes. Before he even would have been home from work that day normally, Addie and Rosie had entered MAXIMUM NEEDINESS MODE. After an evening in the park, two overly wrought bedtime routines, and Rosie’s furtive 3 a.m. visit to Netflix and Chill (which to her means “watch Daniel Tiger for three hours and eat gummies”), I was just spent.
  • Somehow, I ended up with food poisoning yesterday evening, leading to one of the most epic barfathons I have ever had the displeasure of participating in. Luckily, Addie and Rosie were able to suspend their utter disregard for my happiness or well-being for the night, but at the moment I still haven’t eaten anything in nearly 20 hours and am maintaining the absolute lowest limit of Gatorade in my stomach to keep me alive until this passes. I mean, I wanted a way to stay home and watch the new episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but this wasn’t really what I was going for.
  • Quite frankly, I was starting to burn out. It turns out that after 90 days of blogging, it becomes really difficult to come up with new things to say that are still funny. By now, you probably get that my kids are both evil and hilarious, and that I am concerned about my weight, and that I was a giant dork until I turned 25 (at which point I remained a giant dork, but finally put some effort into my appearance and managed to shed my dork-like exterior). There are only so many times I can tell you that Rosie woke up in the middle of the night to get her Daniel Tiger fix (I’m referring to it as the DT’s), or that I don’t like sandwiches (although I’m probably never going to shut up about that, because you guys, sandwiches are an affront to humanity).

So as a result, I’m going to amend my original blog project as follows: I will blog every day no matter what, unless:

  1. I meet a celebrity, children’s or otherwise
  2. My children or my work prevent me from doing so
  3. I am hardcore barfing
  4. I just really, really don’t want to.

I’m hopeful that, having taken this little forced hiatus, you won’t see many more further interruptions, but going forward, I’m giving myself a little wiggle room, because no one wants to read a blog where every article is entitled “Time to write in this stupid fucking blog again”.

Cold germs are my kryptonite

Before I had children, I prided myself on my iron-clad immune system. For nearly two decades, I enjoyed years with only one, maybe two colds, looking on with disdain at my sneezing, sniveling friends and co-workers. “Foolish mortals!” I would proclaim as they reached for their hundredth Kleenex of the day. “Why must you be so weak? Surely you are unclean, to be so sick so often!” And then I would usually laugh a maniacal laugh as I savored the joy of breathing through my nose.

But then I had kids.

Foolishly, I thought my track record of health would protect me. Surely I wouldn’t fall prey to Addie’s runny nose, or Rosie’s raging case of pinkeye. I had done my time in the trenches of ear infections and barking coughs in my youth! But apparently, today’s illnesses are different, stronger, more wily. Or maybe it’s just that my kids have a penchant for sneezing directly into my open mouth, but whatever the reason, I am powerless against their germy wiles.

When Addie was a toddler, she once had a cold that lasted from August until April. Rosie has been a little more hardy than that, but even she tends to have a permanent dried snot mustache most of the time. As for me, I have a low-level cold about 70% of the time, which I mostly manage to keep under control with Airborne and coffee.

It does come with a handy side effect, though– I have grown so used to having a cold that when it finally abates, I feel like a god-damned superhero. When your baseline is a foggy head and achy muscles, the dissipation of a cold means you can smell colors and lift cars off babies (maybe, I’m assuming, I have yet to have the chance to try, but it seems like it would definitely be a thing). I’m in the midst of a cold right now, but I’m expecting to come out of this one with the ability to fly.

Which might come in handy, because once you get to 10,000 feet, there’s no one around to sneeze into your mouth.

Gigantic pants

I am in need of gigantic pants.

The last time I lost a lot of weight, I donated my gigantic pants to Goodwill, triumphantly. “Never again will I need such gigantic pants!” I decreed, high on metabolism and the heady glee that accompanies being a size 8. “I am invincible, and obviously things will never change again!”

But what I had forgotten is that, for some reason, something very weird happens to me after I have a baby, and my metabolism ramps up to that of a teenage boy. Weight flies off me, as if I sat up from the delivery bed and left behind a pool of congealed fat. I am the only person I know who comes back to work after having a baby weighing less than I did when I got pregnant in the first place.

And it lulled me into a sense of false security both times. With Rosie, in particular, not only did I not have to do anything, I could eat literally anything and I just kept losing. It was a miracle! A miracle that would never stop happening! I was the patron saint of undeserved weight loss!

But oh, it always catches up to me eventually. And that time is now.

So now I’m left with only two options: get pregnant again, or actually attempt to diet. Not just say I’m dieting while simultaneously smashing a colossal cupcake in my gaping maw, but actually, seriously doing it.

And honestly, getting pregnant sounds like a better option.

But as I’ve previously mentioned, my uterus has shuttered its doors, so that’s just not in the cards for me. Which only leaves the actually dieting plan, a gross and rumbly path down Salad Lane and Sweaty Elliptical Hellscape.

Still, I will give in and buy some more gigantic pants, knowing full well that I will gleefully discard them as soon as I’m able. I need something to wear while I hoe this craptastic road, and sadly, sweatpants are expressly banned in my work’s dress code.



The god damned Halloween Fun Fair

Addie, nefarious genius that she is, has figured out the golden ticket for getting out of school– all she has to do is so much as mouth the word “diarrhea”, and the whole school goes into lockdown until the offending party has been removed. Never mind that she didn’t actually have diarrhea– no one will check. The threat of it is enough to get her booted from school for 24 hours.

Never a big believer in dignity, Addie pulled this move earlier today, getting herself banned from school until Monday, and I think she thought she was pretty smart. Until, that is, I pointed out with no small amount of glee that this meant she would miss the Tropical Fun Fair.

The Tropical Fun Fair has been looming large in my late-night anxiety sessions since the first flyer came home a few weeks ago. Of course I would have to take her– what kind of monster doesn’t take their child to a world of bounce houses, inflatable slides and unlimited candy? But the specter of the Halloween Fun Fair was always there, just beyond the edges of my Instagram-worthy photo ops at the obstacle course and the treat walk.

The god damned Halloween Fun Fair.

It started out so promisingly– I loaded Rosie into her stroller and slapped Addie’s Minion costume on her, and we were on our way. I had envisioned something sort of lame and amateurish, but the whole thing was actually sort of awesome– games with prizes, a haunted classroom, a pumpkin decorating contest, and inflatables as far as the eye could see.

It was in front of one of these bounce houses that another parent cornered me and began talking about Addie– I was prepared for a lecture about Addie’s introduction of the word “fartknocker” into her son’s lexicon, but instead, she surprised me, telling me how sweet Addie had been to her son, and how she had really helped him get acclimated to school and was taking really good care of him.

“You’re doing a good job raising her,” she said to me with a smile. “You’re a good mom.”

And it was at that exact moment that I realized that Rosie had gone missing. My good mom cred! Destroyed before my very eyes! I hadn’t even gotten her to put it in writing!

I spotted Rosie inside the inflatable obstacle course, guarding the entrance like some sort of sugar-crazed Cerberus. There was a crowd gathered around, gawking, and I trotted up, shouting “that’s my daughter! I’ll get her out, I’m sorry!”

But before I could do anything, the teenage volunteers working the obstacle course decided that the best way to extricate her from the situation was to force her to go all the way through the obstacle course, rather than just pull her the eight inches she was from the entrance. So now, everyone is staring, Rosie is screaming, and I’m sprinting to the end of the obstacle course to rescue her. As soon as I reached the mouth of the obstacle course, my foot caught on a wrestling mat, and I fell to my knee, hard enough to elicit immediate tears.

“FUCK!” I screamed, just as my baby emerged from the course, plopping happily to the ground and giggling as if nothing had happened.

So now I am crying, and have just screamed a swear word in an auditorium jammed with children, and a gaggle of eighth-grade girls materializes as if from nowhere and begins laughing at me, and suddenly I am back in middle school.

“It’s time to go,” I told the girls, still crying, but Addie begged me to stay just a little longer. It wasn’t their fault that I was experiencing intense sixth-grade gym flashbacks, so I relented, retreating to a bathroom to wipe my face with toilet paper and reassemble myself into the confident, 36-year-old woman I was. I am a motherfucking manager, you little shits. Your laughter cannot hurt me!

The rest of the Halloween Fun Fair passed without incident, the other mothers politely ignoring my tear-swollen face. Addie won her eight billionth bouncy ball, Rosie scored a plastic spider, and they were finally appeased.

When I got home, ready to spin the story into something hilarious for Ben, he cut me off before I could even start.

“You’ve got some shit on your face,” he said.

And sure enough, it turns out that elementary school toilet paper is powerless against grown woman tears, and dried shreds of it clung to my cheeks, my eyelashes, the tip of my nose. I looked like a failed papier mache project, and I frantically combed my memory banks to think of everyone I had interacted with after the obstacle course incident.

Everyone. I had basically interacted with everyone. With toilet paper stuck to my face.

So I am perfectly willing to use Addie’s diarrhea incident to put the kibosh on the Tropical Fun Fair. It really has no downside– I get to teach her a valuable lesson about lying to get out of school, and I can avoid making a spectacle of myself in front of every mother in the tri-state area.

I’ll never get out of the Fun Fair business entirely. But you can bet that next time, I’m bringing a leash and my own box of Kleenex.