Is Wine Allowed in 3rd Grade?

Me and Zaffy

Me and Zaffy

Friday morning Zaffron crawled into bed with me for a quick cuddle before she got ready for her last day of school.

Me: Zaffy, I am so sorry, but I forgot the make the cookies for you to take to school today.

Zaffron: Mom! You promised! Can you make them now?

Me: I can’t. We don’t have the ingredients in the house.

Zaffron: Fine! Then, I’ll just bring strawberries and Chardonnay!



I don’t like you, Mommy

“I don’t like you, Mommy,” I whispered into my mother’s ear. “I love you.” I giggled, tickled with myself. I thought I was the cleverest 5-year-old she could ever meet. I nestled into her lap, certain I would fit there forever.

I asked her a few years ago if she remembered this moment, which is still so vivid in my mind. She said, “No, but do you know what I do remember? I remember the exact moment when I realized your world no longer revolved around me.”

I asked her to tell me about it. She declined.

Fast forward, oh, about a thousand years. I have my own daughters. They are 6 and 8 years old. I am their favorite person. Of course, if they’re hanging out with just my husband, he’s their favorite person. Or if I’m forcing them to do their homework, he’s again the easy favorite. Seems fair.

When I pick up my oldest, Zaffron, from school, her face brightens and she yells, “Mommy!” with the same delight I used to have when I heard the tinkling, tinny music from the ice cream truck down the street. “Ice cream!”

She even pulled the “I don’t like you, I love you” joke on me recently. “I got you, didn’t I?” she asked grinning.

I grinned too. But with a small tug of anxiety. This is all so temporary.

Zaffron and I were standing across from her school hand in hand. When a boy she has a crush on walked near us, she casually dropped my hand. After he passed by, she grabbed it again, not missing a beat. That was last Monday. Last Thursday, the scenario repeated itself. This time, her little hand didn’t seek mine out after the boy had passed. As we walked silently to her classroom, she was perfectly content, completely unaware she had skipped that second step, so vital to reassuring me of my place in her heart.

Yesterday in the car, where most of the important stuff comes up, I realized boys aren’t the only things that might force the gap between us wider.

My husband and I adopted Mgazi, my youngest, from Africa when she was 2 years old. We’ve always been very open with her about her adoption, sharing as many details as are age appropriate.

“Mommy, would it be OK if I loved my other mommy too?” she asked.

“Your Africa mom? Of course! You can love her as much as you want, honey.”

“Will you be mad if I love her more than you?”

Zaffy couldn’t take it. “What the heck are you talking about? You don’t even know that lady!”

“Mgazi, you are going to find that, as the years go by, you will love lots of people in different amounts. Sometimes lots. Sometimes not so much. Someday you might feel that you love your Africa mommy more than me. That’s OK.”

“Don’t be mad, but I think I love her more than you right now.”

A sigh from Zaffy.

“It’s OK, Zaff. You too, Gaz. You love your Africa mom just as much as you need to.”

I spoke with as much love and reassurance as I could muster. After all, she’s only 6. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She hasn’t seen her birth mother since she was three days old.

I’ve got time.

My mother says she knew exactly when things were different between us. Like a Band-Aid that was suddenly ripped off. My Band-Aid, which is Hello Kitty by the way, is being pulled off more slowly, gradually revealing the bittersweet heartache I’ll endure as my children grow up and away from me, bit by bit.


This post was originally published on Families in the Loop, an amazing parenting site where parents let loose, under the title, Mom’s Growing Pains: The Sweet Sorrow of Raising Kids.

(photo credit: arztsamui/


Glad I’m Paying for those Karate Lessons


Mgazi: AAAAAAARRRGGGGGAAAAAAH! <– That’s supposed to be a scream

Zaffy: I’m sorry! I’m sorry!

Mgazi: You punched me!

Zaffy: I did not!

Mgazi: You did!

Zaffy: I smacked you with the back of my hand. It’s totally different!

Where was I during all of this? At my desk. Pretending it all wasn’t happening.

What Happens When The Kids Try To Break Into My Phone

The kids routinely try to figure out the password on my iPhone. This is what happens when they become bored after many failed attempts:

Coco is Dead. Long Live Coco.

I had been out of town for several days. My phone rang. It was Zaffron. She was crying.

“Coco is dead, Mommy! Coco is dead!”

“Oh, honey. I’m so sorry. Who’s Coco?”

“He’s one of the fish we bought for the new aquarium. There’s Zippity, and Sucker and Coco and… ”

She broke off into sobs. I waited, knowing the story would continue when she was ready.

“We found him this morning. He wasn’t moving so Daddy took him out and shook him. He still didn’t move. He’s dead, Mommy. Really really dead.”

Her wailing continued. When it turned to sniffles I said, “Oh baby. I’m so sorry. You know when I was a little girl I had a goldfish named Sprite. When he died, I got a new fish and named him Sprite Two. Maybe we could get a Coco Two.”

Silence. You know the kind. Stunned silence. The kind where you can tell the other person is actually stunned that you could say such a thing. It was only punctuated by a single hiccup. And then this:

“Mommy! How could you? Nobody can replace Coco!”

“Oh! Of course not, honey. I just meant –.”

“What? What did you say, Daddy?”

She paused and I heard my husband’s muffled voice in the background.

“Daddy says to tell you that I have only known Coco for less than 24 hours.”

“Ah, I see. But that doesn’t really help much, I guess.”

“No,” she said. “No, it certainly doesn’t.”

Mgazi Uses Her Connections

In the car:

Zaffron: Mommy, Mgazi is in the kissing family.

Mgazi: Be quiet! I am not!

Zaffron: She is too. It’s gross.

Mgazi: Ok. I’m in the kissing family. But only a little.

Me: I don’t get it. What’s the kissing family?

Mgazi: It’s a club where you have to kiss Vincent to get in.

Zaffron: Vincent created it.

Me: No kidding.

Mgazi: I didn’t have to kiss him though.

Me: Why not?

Mgazi: Because I’m friends with Sarah.

Zaffron: Oh, that makes sense.

Me: Really, Zaff? That makes sense to you? This whole conversation makes sense to you?

Zaffron: Of course. Why wouldn’t it?

The Unraveling of Me

I asked the child to do a simple thing. That right there was my first mistake.

“Mgazi, please get your shoes on. We don’t want to be late for school.”

Mgazi spends the next two minutes dawdling outside her bedroom door playing what she thinks is music on a hot pink harmonica.

“Honey, go get your shoes. Put them on.”

Another two minutes go by. I find Mgazi hunched over the cat bowl, sorting the food into pyramid shaped piles on the floor.

“Mgazi! Put on your shoes!”

Two freakin’ minutes… during which she decides to change from a perfectly sensible dress to a bikini top and pink tutu skirt with a cowboy hat garnish.

“Child, you better put those shoes on! Wait, what the heck are you wearing?”

I start muttering under my breath, realizing that if I don’t leave the house in exactly three minutes I’ll have missed the traffic window. You know the one. If you leave during a 10 minute window of time, you’ll get to your destination right on time, no hassle, no traffic. If, however, you leave a mere 30 seconds after that window of time,  you’ll arrive at your destination 45 minutes late and the entire ride will have sucked because you spent it sitting in traffic, giving stinkeye through the rearview mirror to your kid who is still, miraculously, not wearing any shoes.


She blinks at me. Unclear as to what it is exactly that I’m asking her to do.


“Fine!” She stomps off in her socks, “All you had to do was say so!”


Maya’s Mom is Going to get Sex

In the car:

Mgazi: Maya’s mom is going to get sex.

Me: Um what?

Mgazi: Maya’s mom. She told me she’s going to get sex.

Me: Honey, I don’t think that can be what she said.

Mgazi: Mommy! Listen to what I’m saying! She’s going to get bert! It’s going to be a boy.

Me: Oh! She’s going to give birth. Maya’s mom had sex and now she’s going to give birth to a baby boy!

Mgazi: That’s what I’ve been saying! Her tummy is this big!

Me: I can’t see you, honey, I’m driving the car.


Me: Mgazi! I’m driving the car! I can’t look at you right now.

Zaffy: Mom, Mgazi is saying that Maya’s mommy’s tummy is like three inches bigger than usual.

Mgazi: Yeah, she got a lot of sex.

Outwitted by Kiddie Logic No More

I routinely find myself on the losing end when a conversation includes my children. I’ll be trying to impart some teeny bit of parental wisdom and they’ll turn it on its head by applying their own warped child-logic. It’s maddening.   Like when Mgazi asked me, “If you know the answer, why are you asking the question?” Or there was that time where I couldn’t talk her out of holding a kids-only wedding. And of course, that dreaded conversation in the car about why (oh why) did I slam her fingers in the car door?

If my children decide that they don’t agree with me, I simply will not win the argument. Because they sneak in this kiddie-verision of logic that I simply can’t outsmart. It’s become a real problem, constantly being outwitted by my children.

I described my challenge to my friend, Keely Flynn Schoeny who writes Lollygag Blog. She understood immediately.

It’s “brationale” she said.

She’s brilliant, that Keely.  I had identified the problem, but she named it. Suddenly, I felt like it wasn’t so unbeatable after all. It only took a day or two before I got my chance to see.

I was picking the kids up from school. A classmate of Mgazi’s had celebrated her birthday and passed out goodie bags.

Mgazi: Mommy, Mommy! Look! I got a giant pencil!

She pulled it out of the bag and shoved it in my face. It was indeed giant.

Zaffy: That sure looks like a nice pencil.

Mgazi: Here, Zaffy. (She ruffled through the bag.) You can have the Strawberry Shortcake coloring book.

Zaffy: Strawberry Shortcake is for babies. (She shoved the coloring book back at her sister.) It’s not fair.

Me: What’s not fair?

Zaffy: Mgazi gets these presents and all she does is give me something that’s for babies. It’s not even what I want. It’s so not fair.

Oh my God!! It’s brationale! I can see it heading straight for me. I have to come out swinging.

Me: Zaffy, let me get this straight. Mgazi has been given a present. It’s hers. Not yours. And you think that you have a right to demand she turn over part of said present to you, her sister. Simply because you want it.

Zaffy: uhhh….

Me: Zaffron, is that what you are saying? Mgazi is supposed to give you her things just because you want them?

Zaffy: uhhh….

Me: Is that what you’re saying?

Zaffy: Well… no. Not anymore.


 Zaffy: Mommy, what are you doing?

Me: Just a little dance, baby. Just a little dance.



Zaffron Levies a Bathroom Tax

In the kitchen:

Zaffy: Mom, you owe me 25 cents.

Me: What for?

Zaffy: You used the kids’ bathroom.

Me: You’re charging me for using your bathroom?

Zaffy: Yes! You said this was the kids’ bathroom when we moved here and you are not a kid. Plus, you owe me another quarter.

Me: What? For What?

Zaffy: You didn’t flush.

Me: Zaffron, first, I didn’t use your bathroom. Second, if I had I certainly would have flushed.

Zaffy: Mom, it had to be you. It wasn’t me and Mgazi pinky-promises it wasn’t her. You’re  all that’s left. But don’t feel bad, sometimes I have to pay myself a quarter too.

Later that day, in the car:

Zaffy: So, when am I getting my 50 cents?

Me: Zaffy, how about you owe me a quarter for being annoying?

Zaffy: Mom, the rules are the rules, even if you don’t like them.

Me: Well, I’m not going to pay.

Zaffy: Then I’ll just have to charge you another quarter.

Me: Are you kidding me?

Zaffy: No. If you don’t pay me my 50 cents in five weeks, I’m going to charge you another quarter.

Mgazi: Zaffy, you mean five days.

Zaffy: No, I mean five weeks.

Mgazi: Mommy, Zaffy doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She means she wants the money in five days, not five weeks.

Zaffy: I know exactly what I’m talking about. Mommy, just pay me and everything will be fine.