Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Farts are Funny (Except in Yoga Class)


If you are the mother of girls, or have no reference to what young boys find amusing, you may just want to stop reading right now.  If you don't live with boys who think the departure of gas from either end of the body is side-splittingly, pee-your-pants, hilarious, well...you probably won't find this topic very amusing.

I have to teach my boys manners and how to act civilly.  That's my job.  And, it's a damn hard job when toots and burps and other bodily functions that society (maybe it's just women) generally find offensive seem to be the highlight of my boys' existence.  I try to be stern and all, "that's not appropriate behavior" when they have contests to see who can fart the loudest or longest.  I remind them that passing gas is a personal matter and not something to which we draw attention.  But, sometimes their antics are just plain hilarious.  I can remind them to be polite and say excuse me and try to keep the passing of gas on the down-low when we are out in public. I will continue to demand respect and courteousness.  But we usually end up in fits of laughter because the hilarity is contagious.  

As the mother of boys I have figured out that I can't fight testosterone on some subjects and testosterone wins when it comes to gas.  Boys think farts are funny.  Period.  Not just little boys, but grown men also.  Ask a bunch of guys what they did on their fishing trip and your bound to hear some detailed, comical stories about someone cutting the cheese.  Most of the time I admit to laughing too because farts are funny.  Except in yoga class.  

An older gentleman in my weekly yoga class spends the entire 60 minutes burdening us with his flatulence. He expels gas every few minutes with each new posture for the whole class.  These aren't just little toots I'm talking about.  His long, drawn out gas bombs sound like demons being exorcised from his intestines.  His anal acoustics prevent me from enjoying even a sliver of my yoga experience.  And I pay good money to for that experience.

I don't even want to take my yoga class anymore.  I've had it.   I know it's not very yoga-like for me to be so intolerant of someone who is clearly incapable of controlling his gassiness, but why does the rest of the class have to suffer?  Maybe the yoga studio needs to add a new Old Farts class (pun totally intended).

Any book worthy of young boy's attention must have some reference to farts.  In an entertaining comic strip section from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-it-Yourself Book, The Amazing Fart Police swoop in and arrest unsuspecting tooters who fart in public.  In one scenario, The Amazing Fart Police arrest a boy whose aunt hugged him so hard a toot popped out.  The boy pleads, "but it wasn't my fault!  My aunt squeezed it out of me!"  The Amazing Fart Police said, "tell it to the judge, kid." 

Now, that's funny.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wants Vs. Needs

How do you get your kids to understand the difference between wants vs. needs?  Some things we need like food, shelter and clothing.  Some things we want like filet mignon, a pool house and a Neiman Marcus credit card.

I understand the difficulty kids have in processing the idea that money isn't readily available anytime we want something.  After all, they see us whip out our credit cards and swipe it through a machine at every store.  What kid wouldn't think we could just use the credit card to buy whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted?  In the eyes of a child it seems so simple; have credit card, buy things.

I remember as a kid asking my mom for a toy or something that I really wanted and she said no.  As I continued to press her about said toy she told me she didn't have any money to pay for it.  I said, "just write a check!" as if money magically appeared from the mere act of writing a dollar amount in the little window. 

When we moved into our house I bought a new dining room table.  It was a 48" round wrought iron beauty with a glass top.  I loved the scroll design legs and table base and it fit perfectly in our kitchen area.  We didn't have any kids yet so little did I know that my glass top table would become the bane of my existence.  Fast forward three years to two kids, lots of smudgy fingerprints and gallons of Windex.  I came to loathe the table and all of its glassiness that was impossible to keep clean.  I wanted a new table and I wanted it bad.

The problem was that I didn't need a new table. The table we had was in perfect condition.  I hated trying to keep it clean, yes, but it technically was still usable and I couldn't justify spending money on a new table when we had other household expenses that required our funds.  I wanted a new table but I didn't need one.  How to solve the dilemma?

I told my husband that I would like to buy a new table, but I would use the money I earned from selling the kids' outgrown toys and clothes at a twice yearly Mom2Mom sale.  Each sale only netted a couple hundred bucks, but at least it was a start.  I also sold a few things here and there on Ebay so little by little my table fund got bigger.   Saving for a new table enabled me to choose the table I wanted without any input from the peanut gallery.  I perused catalogs, showrooms and even consignment shops.  I searched high and low for the perfect fit.

Fast forward four years.  Yes, it has taken me four very long years to save for my new table, but my perfect table ended up costing more than I anticipated.  Instead of settling for a mediocre table that cost less, I continued to save for the table of my dreams.  I finally reached my goal when I sold my current table on Craig's list.  I ordered my new table and breathed a sigh of relief.

I can't express how much I love my new table and chairs.  The chairs' scalloped details and contoured ladder backs are exactly what I was looking for.  The 48" round chestnut-colored pedestal table is just right.  But, I'm not sure what I love more.  The actual table or what it represents.

When the boys asked me over the years why I didn't just go out and buy a new table, I explained the whole wants vs. needs concept to them.  We've had the same conversation many times.  When I say no after they ask me for something they want, but don't really need, I remind them of how I had to save my hard-earned money for my new table. After many whimpers and moans and "but I really, really need it!" I ask my kids to figure out how to pay for what they want, like I did. I can always use a hand cleaning and taking out the trash.  Sometimes the need wasn't so monumental after all.  But, if the need was monumental enough to help me dust or scrub a toilet to earn a few bucks, it must be pretty special.

After all, the treasures we buy from our own hard-earned money usually turn out to be the things we love the most.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Toy Story 3 Delivers

I love the Toy Story movies.  I'm not big on sequels or third installments of a movie for that matter, but I have to say that Toy Story 3 was just as good as its predecessors.  Disney has a way of providing a great message for kids and usually enough entertainment for the adults.  Toy Story 3 delivered.

The great thing about Toy Story is its continual message of teamwork and looking out for your friends.  What a terrific bunch of toys.  Woody is a great leader who makes sure all the toys stick together.  Even though he's the favorite toy he never assumes that he's better than any of the others.  It would be very easy for Woody to boast and brag and make fun of the others, but he doesn't.  He treats everyone with respect and, for that, the other toys respect him.

What a simple and universal concept.  Treat others as you want to be treated.  Speak to others and you wish to be spoken to.  To have a friend, be a friend.  We could use more of the lessons learned from Toy Story in our playgrounds, schools and backyards. Maybe they should make watching the Toy Story movies mandatory in school.  Maybe make Woody the new mascot?

We have had a rule in our house since my kids were born; my sons are not allowed to be mean to their toys or stuffed animals.  If Puppy comes flying over the ballisters from the second floor, that is cause for an instant time-out.   If Puppy gets thrown through the air or twisted out of shape, someone is in trouble.  We don't hurt Puppy's feelings or hurt him physically.  Some people might think I'm flat-out crazy because it's just a stuffed animal, but not only does this teach the boys to respect their things it also teaches them about compassion.  Everyone has feelings that we need to be aware of.  Even Puppy.

I have always had a hard time getting rid of the toys with which the boys were especially enamored, but after watching this movie I may never get rid of another toy again.  I used to feel a twinge of sadness after rounding up the toys the boys outgrew because it meant admitting the boys were getting older.  Every LeapFrog or Fisher Price toy that I got rid of brought a new level of mourning for the babies who were no longer babies.  I felt a sort of punch in my gut as soon as I dropped off the very toys that made my toddlers squeal with delight more times than I could count.  It stings.

So, Puppy isn't going anywhere anytime soon.  He and Moosey and the Polar Bear and other puppy and the other puppy will always have a safe place in our home. I may do just like Andy did and save the toys Nicholas and Christopher have loved for another deserving child who will treat them with respect.  My boys have learned valuable lessons with their toy friends. They have learned how to be a friend and how to take care of their friends.  In return, Puppy and the others have been loyal unlike many others. 

Friends like that last a lifetime.

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