Teaching Table Manners


As a pregnant lady, I have given in to the fact that I can’t have some of my favorite things for a little while. Things like wine, or a splash of Irish cream in my coffee, or excessive amounts of caffeine. One of the things that I really miss and even have crazy cravings for, is raw fish. It isn’t even something I eat more than once a month or less during non-pregnant times, but there’s something about being forbidden from having something that just makes me a little crazy about it.

A few nights ago, I went to Cheesecake Factory because I happened to be nearby (about an hour away from home) and I figured it’d be a fun treat for the family for me to swing through and pick up some treats. I sat at the bar and ordered a (lame, non-alcoholic) drink to sip while I waited. A woman sat down next to me and also ordered something to-go, as well as the tuna tartare appetizer for while she waited.

When I got home, over dinner I said, “There was a woman next to me having the tuna tartare, and it looked amazing. It was all stacked up with fancy sauces drizzled over it. I was so jealous!” And Bear laughed a bit, because he knows about the craving for raw fish that always crops up in my pregnancies.

Dash piped up, “So you guys shared it?”
I smiled, “No, it was someone I didn’t know, buddy.”
But he wasn’t done, and asked “Didn’t she even let you have any? Did you ask nicely to have some?”
I told him it isn’t polite to ask strangers in a restaurant for some of their food, because they ordered their food for themselves, and I could order my own food for myself.
“…So you only took one bite?”
At this point Bear and I were roaring with laughter.

Sometimes I forget that the social niceties I take for granted just don’t occur to a small child naturally. When we’re eating at home, if there’s anything I have on my plate that the boys don’t also have (usually once they’ve finished their own), they know they’re welcome to share it. It’s always under the condition that they ask nicely, because I don’t want their grubby little hands snatching at other people’s plates, but there aren’t many times that a polite, “please” won’t work.

Looks like I have some more table manners to impart.

Catching up


Ive been the worst blogger lately. Okay, so not quite the very worst, but the fact that there hasn’t been a post since April and they were pretty sporadic for a few months before that speaks volumes. But! I was still maintaining some level of internet presence, by sharing funny situations that came up or things my kids said. I hope for this to one day become a sort of way for my little beasties to know how life was before they hit the big “record” button in their brains, so I’m just going to take this space up with a bit of an update. If this is the absolute least fun and it’s too long, skim it or skip it! We’ll be back to normal length blogs in no time! 🙂

January-

“Mom, I don’t think you can fit through there.”
“Through where?”
“The door.”
(Ok, I know I could stand to skip a meal or two, but geez!)
“What?”
“You can’t fit so you don’t have to leave anywhere for a while.”

The hubby walked in and caught our oldest (3.5) having, ahem, *relations* with a cup in the bathtub last night. I suppose we need to teach him to hang a sock on the door?

I handed a glass of juice to Bear, and Dash exclaimed, “Hey, that’s MY douche!”
Bear and I exchanged a look, suppressing a laugh.
“Oh, I mean juice! It’s not douche, it’s juice.”
Whew. That’d be one helluva mix-up.

I had a friend in town to visit, and although they’ve only even met a couple of times, Dash demanded that he wanted to go home to L.A. with his “Uncle.” Isn’t preschool a little young to be trying to move out?

February-

We were all sitting around the kitchen table and I was trying to explain that there was a point before Ozzie was a part of our family. I finished with, “that’s why he wasn’t here.”
Without missing a beat, Dash said, “Yeah, he was in Mexico!”

Dash calls our pantry “the bakery.” It makes it sound like we have a much less processed diet. Yes, even our crackers are fresh from the bakery.

Ozzie keeps telling me my coffee is “hottie.” I know they say, ‘You are what you eat.’ Can we also be what we drink?

March-

Remember before kids, when it was easy to marathon right through a season of [insert favorite show]? Now I am hoping to get one episode in before the kids wake up, because there’s no way I can actually watch anything that isn’t animated once they’re around.

I forgot about the time springing forward and got really excited for a minute when I thought the boys let me sleep in until 7. I looked at my husband and said “Yay! Maybe this is the beginning of them sleeping a little later. Maybe they won’t be up at 6 for the rest of my life!” He just gave me a flat look and said, “Time changed.” Le sigh.

“We found a really fun game! We fall down!”
“Then what?”
“Then we laugh!”

“Want some milk?”
“Yes! I want milk every hecking day!”
Oh, kids. Coming up with their newfangled phrases and being all jiggy and rad.

April-

“I want to stay home, you and my brother can go out by yourself. I’m a man now. Mans can stay home.”
My 3yo is feeling pretty independent. That or he thinks I’m crazy enough to unleash him on the house unchecked!

I’m sick, the boys are wild animals, and I turned to a halls cough drop for a little relief. The wrappers have inspiring quotes, and mine said, “Buckle down and go forth!” Well to that I say STOP JUDGING ME, HALLS! I’M HAVING A ROUGH DAY!

We’re watching Dennis the Menace, and out of the blue Dash asks, “Can I have my bow and arrows today?” I’m a little afraid considering source of his idea!

Dash told me his kids will be robots. So I guess he’s *really* into computers.

May-

“Mom, why was Daddy driving in his car with no pants?”
“Come again?”
“He was in his car.”
“And…”
“He was driving!”
“Uh huh.”
“And he wasn’t wearing pants so he had room to dance around!”
“Was this in a dream?”
“No, that’s silly. ”
“But it’s not silly to drive around without any pants on?”
“Yes! Because there’s not a lot of room for dancing if you have pants all over your legs!”

Every night, Dash gets out of bed a few times to play in the bathroom and put off sleep. He invokes this ritual by asking to “go potty” because he knows we won’t deny him that. Tonight was the first time Ozzie tried to get in on this. Nice try kid, but you don’t get to try that oh-so-clever trick until you’re out of diapers!

Yesterday we were at the grocery store and they had an area for kids to decorate cupcakes for Mother’s Day. Ozzie mostly just ate sprinkles while Dash decorated. This led to greenish teal poop today. For Mother’s Day, he made me something *extra* special!

I walked into the kitchen and saw little feet poking out from behind the island, and ravenous “mmmm, yummy! Om, mmmm, nom nom!” sounds were coming from the same area. I assumed the boys were tearing into some chips or chocolate. I peeked around to see Ozzie going to town on some leeks from the garden. Parenting win!

Dash: When you give a girl some of your drink, she will be nice to you.
Me: It’s always nice to share.
Dash: When you give her the drink, you have to tell her not to hog it though.
me: well, you probably don’t need to say anything unless there’s a problem.
Dash: yeah, if there’s a problem. Like if she was trying to kiss me, that’s a problem. I just want to share and be nice, I don’t want her kissing me. She’s a girl!

The boys were fighting and I was in the process of brokering a peace agreement:
“Will you accept your brother’s apology?”
“No. I don’t like de’cepting his ‘pologies.”
“Why?”
“Because… I don’t remember why I’m mad!”

June-

The worst part about my kids asking for water 500x per day is that even though I know they will a) take a sip and then leave it somewhere to be knocked over; b) not even take a sip before leaving it somewhere; c) pour it on themselves and freak out, and also need new clothes; or d) pour it out somewhere and likely destroy something….. even knowing this, I can’t deny them a drink of water because even *prisoners* get as much water as they want.

To give them renewed interest in some of their old toys, I made the boys a little track to drive on. And it’s just masking tape, so it took 5 minutes to make, and will be just as easy to clean up!

Dash showed me that my artistic skills need honing. When he saw me making the parking lot spaces he said, “It’s a piano! How do cars play a piano?”

Ozzie isn’t usually the destructive one, but this AM he decided to step up his game. he dumped an entire container of mineral makeup all over the bed, window sill, and curtains. For those of you who have mineral makeup, you know that it is somehow magically clingy in a way that normal powders aren’t. This is the ONE time I wish my makeup would just come off with no effort.

July-

An overnight beach trip with the boys means eating out. There are only so many ways to nicely say, “Please don’t lick the ketchup cup.” I’m pretty sure they’re doing it on purpose.

“Mom, everyone knows you’re a girl. ”
“Yes, they probably do.”
“That means they know you have a vagina!”
“… uh, yes. Just like all girls.”
“That’s so funny. And you have a butt!”

Dash and Ozzie are using pipe cleaners and pasta strainers to do a little exercise in fine motor coordination. They had a blast!

Today Dash made me the proudest Mom on the planet. Out of the blue he asked for a “stesto-scope” and proceeded to explain that he needs to be able to look through the scope and see tiny germs because he can’t see them without it. I pointed out that what he wants is a microscope, and he said, “I KNOW, mom. And we need one, so we better go to a office because offices have them.” Not even 4yrs old, already a scientist.

The boys enjoy tomato soup, but I should’ve known the second helping Ozzie begged for wasn’t going to be eaten.

Dash and Ozzie had a blast splashing around in the wading pool at Pioneer park! I’m still waiting for Ozzie to grasp that water filled with dozens of grubby children is not the best for drinking.

While enjoying some cottage cheese, Dash asked what it was made of. I told him it’s made of cow’s milk. He said, “Aaaaand leaves! They use them to tickle the cow until he laughs and laughs and his milk turns into lumps.” His way sounds way more fun than reality so I just said, “Only girl cows make milk, but I suppose they might use leaves.”
“Oh, they do. I know it.”

August-

“If you want to stomp, get off of the deck. You can stomp on the lawn.”
“But that doesn’t even make too much noise!”

Ozzie wouldn’t sleep in his bed, or sleep in Dash’s bed, or even sleep in my bed. The only place he wanted to nap? Curled up next to the dirty laundry basket. Go figure!

Me:”Please don’t put your butt on the pillow.”
Dash, very offended: “My butt is not a butt! It’s a bottom!”
Ozzie, in a tone of recrimination: “Butt, butt, Mama!”
…At least they have each other’s backs.

When I told Dash he was officially 4 now, he said, “Wait, is four big? I think four is really big.” I told him four is as big as he’s ever been and he said, “I knew it! I thought I was really big, and I was!”

September-

Children have a sixth sense that tells them when their parents want them up early, because those are the ONLY days they sleep in.

“Mom?”
“Yeah buddy?”
“I just wanted to give you a hug. I don’t want to pinch you on your boobie or anything.”
“Um… okaaaaaay.”
I can’t help but feel like I’ve missed something here.

Iggy Azalea was on the radio and Dash called out over the music, “Why is she saying ‘I wear panties?’ This is a weird song!”

Ozzie (2) has heard Dash telling people he’s four now and so insists he’s also four. He can’t stand to be younger. If only they understood there’s a point where older is no longer better, it’d blow their little minds.

Dash came downstairs wearing angry bird boxer briefs and asked, “Can I just wear this today? I’m really comfortable.”

Ozzie snuck a green bell pepper and was eating it like an apple. Best part? He was just so excited that I let him keep it (since cookies are always confiscated), he actually finished it rather than taking a few mouse nibbles before abandoning it.

Dash learned an unpleasant lesson about how a wasp will react when you attempt to “clap” it. Hint: it isn’t with a polite request to leave it be.

“Dad, I took off my sweatshirt because my pants were getting too hot in there.”

October-

Dash-“I know why you got this string cheese, Mom. Because you love me!”
Me-“I do love you. I also got it for Daddy because he likes it. And I love him.”
Ozzie-“No! Don’t talk my Daddy like that!”
Me-“Don’t talk about Daddy like that? Hey, Bear, at least he has your back.”
Ozzie (indignant, touching Dash’s back)-“I my back! And my bruhr back!”
It’s a good thing this new baby is a girl. I need an ally; the boys gang up even when there’s no conflict!

This morning Dash woke up, climbed into my bed, and said “Let’s call Nana!” It was 6 am for us, which made it 5 am for her. I told him it’s way too early to make calls to Alaska. He came up with the best reasoning, “Oh. I bet they can’t get a signal when it’s so dark. The signal can’t see how to get to her house.”

“When I grow up, my kids will have a great toybox.”
I misheard him, so I asked, “Why should it be grey?”
“No, great! It’s gonna have arms!”
“A toybox with arms?”
“So they can pick up all the toys. That way I don’t have to clean up the toys before I go to work.”
“You could have your kids help clean up like you do now.”
“No way! The arms can do it.”

I met up with another mom to buy some used baby items. The boys were playing in the car in the driveway with the doors open while I was with her in her garage, gathering the items and paying her. As we drove away, Dash said, “I should tell you I had to go potty.” I told him we’d be home in a minute, where he could go. He said, “No, I went already.” With an inward sigh I asked where, imagining a wet spot lurking in the car. “On the grass in the lady’s yard.”

What’s with almost every kids movie having at least one parent either dead or else just gone? Or bonus to the ones with two parents who die in the beginning! Way to set up parents everywhere to have a hard talk at the beginning of every movie. Especially considering they probably put it on just trying to get a moment’s peace.

….And now we’re caught up! Whew 🙂 Hopefully now I won’t feel like there’s a glaring hole from April to nearly November. I mean realistically there is still the hole in posts, but now it won’t be glaring. Right? I’m going with it.

‘Parenting’ and ‘Punctuality’ Do Not Go Together


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When I first became a parent I had no idea how I was ever going to be on-time again. I was in the Army, and punctuality was a big deal in my life. Prior to Dash coming along, I figured I would spend my time during my maternity leave peacefully cuddling my new bundle and that I’d just avoid going out of the house for a couple of days until I got the hang of things. You know, since it takes a couple of days to master the whole baby thing.

I’ll skip over the frantic first few weeks when I was just completely lost in a haze of sleep deprivation and constantly freezing mid-thought to listen again for a breath because is he breathing? During those days, I barely remember leaving because I was just so upside down. Even once I was slightly better at it, leaving the house was always a toss of the dice, because I found that babies have a special sense that tells them when you need to leave now or be late, and they take those opportunities to spit up all over themselves or audibly fill their diaper as if to say, “You didn’t think we were going yet, did you?”

In those early days, leaving involved an almost embarrassing amount of preparation. I had every item known to man along, but I felt like I was guaranteed to forget something, so I would frantically dig through the diaper bag and check and recheck that everything was where it should be. I was ready if it was sunny, if it was rainy, if it was very windy but somehow still warm. I was ready for everything short of a damned alien invasion. Sure, if anyone looked into the back of my hatchback, it looked like I lived in my car, but that was no big deal. All parents have a trunk space that’s teeming with baby stuff to the point that opening it turns into a crazy dance where you try to open it just so, so that you can get a hand in there to block everything before it falls,  right?

And yet with all that packed and ready to go, it seemed like I’d get just out of the garage, or even just down to the end of our street, and have to hurry to run back in because I suddenly realized the bottle was still in the refrigerator, or that my meticulously packed diaper bag was still sitting by the garage door.

I eventually felt like I had getting out of the house under control, just in time to have Ozzie come along and make me feel like I was back to square one, because there was a little team of children tag-teaming the task of making me late, and probably high-fiving behind my back or when I was looking away.

Over a year into the having-two thing, I still find myself either rushing out the door to make it anywhere on time. Of course, anytime I actually manage to leave early due to contingency planning, nothing throws us off, and I just have to sit and twiddle my thumbs in a parking lot, trying to keep my kids from turning into pumpkins while we’re waiting for it to be a reasonable time to go into our destination. So, perpetually early or perpetually late, but never on time. You just can’t win.

Discipline, The Toddler Edition


I’m not an especially strict mom. At one and three, Ozzie and Dash are a little young for that, but I am planning to be big on discipline as they grow up. I don’t expect my kids to be the model of good behavior for all of child-kind, but I would like them to grow up to not be award-winning assholes as adults. Ozzie is still a baby, but he knows the power of his baby face, so when I try to use a stern voice with him he usually just makes a big sweet smile and hugs my leg and toddles off to continue doing what he wants. We work on distracting him from things he shouldn’t play with, but it doesn’t really work to try to discipline him. Dash is past that point, but still has the attention span of a goldfish, so it gets tricky.

In this age of apps and gadgets, of course I tried technology. I have tried a few timeout timers that will countdown the seconds and keep him focused on what is going on. That was a total letdown: that just led to him whining for one more thing, and wanting to turn it on and “play timeout.”

I’m considering stepping it up. When the boys are bouncing off the walls and practically vibrating with the hum of energy whirring through them, sometimes I make a game of wearing them down. “Hey! Can you show me how fast you can run to the end of the hall? Wow, that was fast, but I bet you could go even faster if you were jumping the whole way!” Dash follows almost endless instruction on running back and forth across the house and Ozzie pads along in his wake, nowhere near keeping up, but still laughing and trying.

Sometimes I find myself daydreaming about when they’re old enough for me to get all crazy and perhaps have them scrubbing the toilets with a toothbrush (one specifically for that purpose, not theirs; I’m not that sick) and doing white glove inspections of their rooms whenever they get busted for bad behavior. But in this fantasy I’m also perpetually in a spotless home and a daily cheesecake does nothing bad to my body. I know it’s easy to make these big plans when there’s no way to implement them now.

I’ll admit I’m a little hesitant to use physical activity as a punishment because I don’t want them to hate working out and being active. There must be a way to incorporate this ability to follow instruction in physical activity into an age appropriate discipline method. I was in the army for over a decade, so I’m no stranger to the concept of making someone do push-ups when they screw up; but is a toddler to young to go all “drill sergeant” on them? Unfortunately, I think so. After all, neither of them can even do a single push-up, so those are out.

Do any of you readers have fantastic discipline methods to share? And no, beatings and shock collars don’t count,!

My Kid the Artist… or Not


We made pumpkins this morning. I cut out a bunch of shapes, and let Dash choose what he wanted to use.

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A few observations:

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Not only the intended shapes were included in the craft. A crazy-ass bit that was supposed to be a mouth and didn’t make the cut was in a pile of discards. Dash held it up and said, “Here’s the hair!” Um, okay kid, make your pumpkin an emo loser if that’s what you want.

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The other hairpiece is also a discarded mouth, but looks like a herman Munster/Frankenstein ‘do, so it seemed appropriate. When I suggested he add some bolts to make it even more like the character, he said, “No! That’s silly.” As an artist, he takes his craft very seriously.

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You may wonder, why are those would-be eyebrows a nose? Dash wants at least one hideous pig face. I’d like to think it’s an homage to the episode of the Twilight Zone, but I know better. What the hell, it’s a pumpkin, ugly it up, kid.

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The sad looking pumpkin was made by the same child who made the others. Why is this one so dejected when the others are all scary? “He’s sad because his green thing is over here.” Yeah, Dash’s reasoning is that he’s sad because he’s deformed. Way to embrace differences, sweetheart. Clearly, this mommy has a little work to do in teaching my kid not to think all people who have something about them that is “other” should be miserable as a result!

I’m not gonna lie, laughing at my kids arts and crafts is some of the draw for doing arts and crafts with them at this age. Yeah, yeah, they’re having good experiences and getting the sensory play and learning to express their creativity, and that’s nice too. Those things do occur to me when Im coming up with this stuff or checking things out on pinterest. However, I am not little miss crafty pants, so while I ooh and ahh over their accomplishments out loud, I am still too much of a sarcastic jerk to be able to turn off the inner art critic. I don’t tell them, and by the time they’re old enough to find this post and see it, hopefully they’ll get the humor, or I’ve failed as a parent. But I think this is a common thread amongst all parents. Or maybe I’m such a mean mom that I can’t even imagine someone not thinking about how ridiculous their kid’s crafts turned out. Eh, whichever.

We Don’t Flush the Baby; Got It?


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I was really worried about what would happen when Dash met his new sibling. Some kids take to babies really well, but I was worried he’d play too rough, or that he’d take a page from the same book as my niece, K. When K was a couple weeks past two years old, along came her sweet baby sister, A. One day when the baby was about a week or two old, my sister laid baby A on a blanket on the floor of the living room, where she could see her from the kitchen while she was doing dishes. She glanced down for a moment to scrub a particularly difficult bit of food from a pan, and when she glanced up, the blanket baby A was lying on had moved. Only the bare edge was still visible, and as she watched that edge slipped out of view as well. She quickly dried her hands and followed, and saw that sweet little K was pulling the blanket down the hall toward the bathroom. Baby A was just riding along, quietly watching the (probably very blurry) room slide by. My sister asked, “What are you doing?” K calmly informed her, “Go flush the baby.” Alarmed, my sister scooped up A and had a long talk about how we never flush people down the toilet. K wasn’t too keen on having a sibling around, and she didn’t get what the big deal was, but A lived through infancy and beyond so the message must have stuck: don’t kill your sister. Maybe it also had something to do with the fact that my sister watched her like a hawk after she made her plans to get rid of her sister known. Same thing, right?

With that in mind, I was determined to make Dash understand that the baby was frail and that we had to take care of him and be extra nice to him. I bought children’s books about expecting a new baby, or about how to deal with one once it arrived. One was even a pop-up that showed several guesses as to what could be growing in that giant tummy, ending by showing a baby. I spent a lot of time trying to help him to comprehend the idea of the baby in my stomach, and he definitely got that I claimed there was a baby in my stomach.

One day Dash tried to feed the baby “bites” by holding a yogurt raisin up to my stomach. When the baby was unresponsive, he tried to shove it into my belly button. The way his mind worked cracked me up; like the baby was just sitting on the other side, waiting for a snack. He also started occasionally singing to the belly and “reading” it stories. However, if I looked away, he’d yell “Stop it!” and grab my face to turn it back toward him. So obviously, this was being done for my benefit, and not because he wanted to show the baby something. I showed him a drawn picture of a baby at the 8 month mark inside of a woman’s stomach, all curled up. He said, “Oh no! Stuck!” When I tried to tell him the baby was nice and cozy, he pointed to my belly and said “Baby in there.” I said, “Yes.” and he sat there for a second, patting my stomach, then put his mouth down to my belly button and yelled, “Oh, no! Baby! Get out!” I’m not sure what he expected, but after a moment or two of waiting, he lost interest and went to play with some blocks. Those were the moments when I realized he was just playing along as if it was me being silly, like when I “talked” to him with his stuffed animals. It was as if he just couldn’t imagine having another person coming to live with us. he was only about 20 months old and couldn’t use grammatically  correct sentences yet; I don’t know why I thought I was going to get the concept of human reproduction through to him.

When Ozzie finally arrived, he seemed unimpressed. In the hospital, I held Dash on my lap, then we set Ozzie in his arms. He let us take a picture, but the moment the flash was done he started to slide his arms out from under his brother and tried to nudge him away. Only a couple of days after we brought Ozzie home, Dash started asking me, “When is baby going home?” The baby was okay, but his stay was going to be over soon, right?

All of my prep work was basically useless, although he never seemed to have any malice toward Ozzie. He just seemed mildly annoyed at having to share our attention. , but it’s not like I ever thought he’d try to take him out. I mean, this shot below doesn’t look like he’s sizing him up, does it?

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We put child locks on the bathroom doors, just in case.

DIY Toddler Straight Jacket


Dash was playing with one of my hooded sweatshirts; he put his arms in the sleeves, the hood over his head, and zipped it up.

He looked a bit like a monk, and of course, he was thrilled to report, “It fits!” The sleeves hung nearly to the floor, and I realized they could easily wrap around his waist with room to be tied.

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*Lightbulb Moment!*

This is no monk’s robe. This is a Straight Jacket. Yesss!

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Wouldn’t this come in handy the next time Mommy wants to take a quick bathroom break, so I don’t find that half of the pantry has been dumped all over the kitchen floor? Heck, it’d ensure they don’t trash the place, I could even go out for a drink! What about when I’m out  with the kids in public, and one or both starts acting up? Simply taking off my hoody to restrain my wild heathens would be such a convenience! Would it be worth feeling a little chilly? Why yes, it would. I am going to throw a buckle on those sleeves so the knots wont come loose, and market the shit out of this multipurpose garment. If I add a d-ring to the back, I could even hang them on a coat rack for easy storage. What a great way to be green and repurpose old jackets that would’ve gone to the thrift store! I’m going to make a million bucks off of this fantastic idea!

 

 

 

*Before I have a dozen internet strangers calling CPS, Calm down. I will not actually be putting my children in straight jackets when I want them to behave, and especially I will not restrain them and abandon them while I go out, you silly bananas.