A Parable and a Prayer

(or, Someone Else's Kids Will Have to Save the Stock Market This Year; We're All Out Of Fiscal Resurrections At The Moment)

Oh, the things we do for our children!

More precisely...

Oh, the things we buy for them!

The lessons and activities, the toys and the gadgets, the Gameboys and the Play Stations, the cable TV and the books, the books, the books; the hamsters and the Red Rider BB Guns, the roller blades and the Heelies....

The $200 figure skates.


The good and the somewhat okay, the need and the want, the want and the wacky....

Because we love them. Because they're good kids. Because they tell us they won't be popular without these things. Because they promise us a solid hour of peace and quiet if only - oh if only! - they had Product X.

Because of all those things.

Kids can be expensive.

Even if you insist that your kids earn money to buy their own Nintendo DS; even if you work at a bookstore and get hefty discount on their gifts; even if you feed your kids gruel and make them wear hand-me-down knee pants and speak with a Dickensian accent (as I'm oft known to do) -

Kids can put you in the poor house. The little dears.


One morning a week, my eldest daughter, Prima, wakes up at 6:00 AM, puts on her $14 woolly tights and her $30 skating dress, wraps herself in something warm and fleecy ($12.00), and then heads out into the cold, winter darkness with a book bag ($18), skate bag ($26), and a granola bar ($0.59).

And that one morning a week as I hustle myself and Prima out the door, I also need to transfer a sleeping middle child and snoozing toddler into our minivan ($!), cover the kids with blankets, and then drive all three children to the skate rink.

Because when you're a younger sibling, you get dragged along.

It's not always fair. Tough draw of the egg and sperm, kiddos.

But no matter what the younger children must suffer for their big sister's bliss, I do try to make it fun for everyone.

I pack books ($) and blankets ($$) and beanbags ($$$) and a portable DVD player ($$$$).

I bring along a riding toy for the toddler to zoom around the extensive and well-padded lobby.

(Parenting Hack: Skate rink lobbies, with their padded floors designed to protect skate blades, are also a fabulous place for teetering toddlers to practice walking, hopping, and landing on their head. I can't vouch for the bacteria count, but think of it as a free immunization, too. Bonus!)

For two hours, the youngest child tumbles and rolls and acts like a nut with plenty of wild abandon and few sharp corners to smack into, while the middle child and I read books, do homework, and play games. Sometimes she practices gymnastics. Sometimes they watch a video. We also eat junk breakfast food from McDonald's that morning ($$$$$$$$$).

So, you know, win-win-win for the three family members who'd rather not be awake at 6:00 AM in the morning.

All that said, this morning we ran out the door and made it to the skate rink without any of the fun-time accouterments. I forgot the books. The toddler go-toy was at home in the basement. And no little screens to watch Sponge Bob.

This morning was a big Mommy Fail, and my younger two children were immediately bitter and both took turns expressing to me the depth and breadth of their resentment toward their older sister for being a prima donna and toward me for playing favorites. Seconda then went on to lecture me on my evident lack of maternal emotion for forgetting All Her Stuff, and Terzo said that he felt despondent and wanted to tattoo the word "Unloved" in Old English script across his neck (as soon as he was old enough to have a neck.) I told them to tell it to their book agent and have their attorneys contact mine when it was time for a law suit.


Just kidding.

What did happen was that the toddler took off like a shot across the lobby and ran in circles until his face exploded.

And the middle stuff-less child found a rock.

Where did she find a rock, I do not know. Did she find it in her sock? Did she find it near the clock?

It was a rock about the size of a large peach pit. It was a gray rock, not particularly smooth, not especially noteworthy. Just a chunky piece of rock. Maybe it was a stone, I can't say for sure. But what I do know is this -

For the next hour and a half, the toddler and the middle child played with the rock and didn't stop once to complain that they had nothing else to play with but a rock.

They played Throw the Rock and then Toss the Rock. Kick the Rock and Hide the Rock. They engaged in a rollicking game of Can You Balance The Rock On Your Head? and then How Close Can You Toss The Rock Toward The Glass Windows Before Mommy Says A Swear Word?

At one point, the middle child got stingy with the rock, and the toddler threw a tantrum because the rock was the most beloved and hilarious toy he'd ever seen during the totality of his 28 months on the planet. To not have the rock was torture; to have the rock was ecstasy. When the toddler got the rock back, he celebrated by spending the next fifteen minutes taunting me, pretending to put the rock in his mouth, then holding the rock in the I'm About To Throw This At Your Nose stance.

The rock became a choo-choo; the rock turned into a puppy that barked and whined; the rock took a brief nap.

When another argument erupted, the rock was put into time out and everyone had to sit and/or scream for five minutes while the rock sat on the table, mocking them.

When Prima alighted from skating practice, her first words upon entering the lobby from 50 feet away were an eager "Hey! Where did ya get the rock! Can I see it? Cool!"

It was a rock like no other rock.

The End.


Got it?


It could have been an empty box. This time, it was a rock.

And now, my parental unit friends, as we head toward the final days of November and that most holy of holy consumer holidays - Economic Stimulus Friday - I'd like you to all join hands with me and say a little prayer, a prayer that was inspired by - Nay! Came to me like a missal (or missile) from on high in the form of! -

the rock.

(Adapted from the Catholic Litany of Humility)

O Dear Rock, meek and humble of heart, hear me -

From trying to purchase my children's esteem through overspending my budget
...Deliver Me, Rock

From equating the Polly Pockets 100,000 Tiny Pieces Shopping Mall (i.e. vacuum food) with love
...Deliver Me, Rock

From standing in line at 4:00 AM for a Tickle Me Chum Bucket
...Deliver Me, Rock

From the desire of being praised by my teen daughter for my hip taste in trendy iPod accessories
...Deliver Me, Rock

From the desire of being a preferred shopper at the Disney Store
...Deliver Me, Rock

From the desire of being envied by other wide-eyed, anxious parents for my cool, calm know-it-all-ittude in the High School Musical/Hannah Montana aisle
...Deliver Me, Rock

From trying too hard to be approved through dollar signs by someone who wants to marry Zac Efron and have, like, all his babies
...Deliver Me, Rock

From the fear of being humiliated by having a kid who's humiliated for being the last kid on the block to own a Wii
...Deliver Me, Rock

From the fear of being despised for shopping Etsy for homemade stocking stuffers
...Deliver Me, Rock

From the fear of suffering rebukes for putting new batteries in old toys and "Re-Christmasing" them
...Deliver Me, Rock

From the fear of forgetting to buy the equal number of gifts for each kid whether or not they even want whatever it is I was going to buy extra in an attempt to even out the gifts
...Deliver Me, Rock

From the fear of not - for that one day - spending exactly the same amount of money on each kid down to the cents column
...Deliver Me, Rock

From the fear of being suspected of loving someone less because I didn't buy them a pony
...Deliver Me, Rock

That others may get the last U-Command WALL-E Robot at Wal-Mart
...Dear Rock, grant me the grace to desire it

That others may be esteemed more than I for the dollar amount on the gift cards they gave
...Dear Rock, grant me the grace to desire it

That in the opinion of the world others may increase and I may decrease -uh, I think
...Dear Rock, grant me the grace to desire it

That others use credit while I pay cash or set aside on layaway
...Dear Rock, grant me the grace to desire it

That others may be praised for providing A Bling Christmas and I go relatively unnoticed for handing out a bag of discount books
...Dear Rock, grant me the grace to desire it

That others may become better Economic Patriots than I, provided that I may become as patriotic as I should
...Dear Rock, grant me the grace to desire it.

Oh Dear Rock, I do a whole lot for my kids and I spend quite a bit on them throughout the year. They get what they need, and they even get some of what they want. I have nothing to prove or make-up for on this one day. If my kids feel slighted to the point of life-long emotional damage because they didn't get what their friends got or they didn't get everything on their list, then frankly, I'm not kicking them in the pants enough throughout the rest of the year.

Just kidding, Dear Rock.

They're good kids.

Anyway, I think you know what it is I'm praying for.

Something about the true meaning of stuff - the stuff we have, the stuff we don't have - and keeping it all in perspective.

Oh...and my sustained sanity.

Keep on Rocking, Oh Rock.

Amen and Amen.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Heck--I would have fun with that rock too.

Feeling you on the fiscal ressurections.

Marmite Breath said...

A masterpiece, Madame Halushki! I think this needs to be required viewing every year like Elf or A Christmas Story!

Your mind is so creative, I now feel rather like a slug in comparison.

Deliver me from jealousy, Rock.

Gone said...

The funniest things are often the most truthful.

Velma said...

Who knew a story about a rock could be so meaningful? I think I will keep the parable of the rock in my head when I start the Christmas shopping...

Anonymous said...

I'm w/ Marmite on this one. a masterpiece that should be required reading...in fact, I'll tell my entire family to thank you when they open up each of their rocks for christmas.

Blog Antagonist said...

Oh how I know the guilt of dragging an unwilling child to an undesired location to play with rocks. Or sticks. Or dead fish that he finds in the creek behind the ballpark. Oh the accusation, the recrimination. The "you love him betters". SIGH.

Unknown said...

Ditto. Ditto all.

Definitely sharing this with the husband. And, that's a rare thing. I go through a lot of stuff/info/writing on the Net and every now and then there's a perfect kernel of joy, wisdom, or humor I just have to share with him.

This piece is all three ... joy, wisdom AND humor. :)

Sarahviz said...

Great one!

Anonymous said...

you are very creative. That is always a good trait. I hope you have a great holiday weekend. Happy thanks giving

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Could I spend a day in your brain? Pretty please? I'll bring Kale. (just not the day when you have to be at a rink at 6am---the main reason I'm homeschooling is to avoid those early mornings; of course you know this means one of my children will play hockey or something evil-early and the heavens above will mock me).

And, that whole 'rock' thing? Brilliant. I think all kids should get one in their stockings this year, along with a penny and an orange, in memory of simpler times.

Peggy Sez.. said...

If a Box of Rocks falls in the forest..Oh wait that was something else entirely. BUT if you give a mouse a Box of Rocks..No,something else.
If Santa leaves a Box of Rocks for Christmas will the kids play with the Box or the Rocks?
My fiscal ressurected head hurts.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Jon said...

Hilarious, Halushki!

Chibi said...

Christmas could be *really* affordable this year! ;)

I nominated you for the Uber Amazing Blog Award (http://onefineneuroticmess.blogspot.com/) because your writing is hilarious -- this post was awesome.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mr Farty said...

A rock? My budget could just about stretch to that.

Excellent post...as usual.

anne said...

Ha! I so know what your family gift is going to be this year!!! And it's right in my driveway!!!

MereCat said...

Gives new meaning to Charlie Brown who said, "I got a rock." If he'd only known that was a good thing.

Loved the post. That was awesome!

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

For some reason this post made me think of the Charlie Brown Halloween show where Charlie Brown puts out his sack for a treat and then when he looks inside and notices what he gets he says, "I got a rock."

Charlie Brown didn't know the wonders he held in his pessimistic little hand.

Unknown said...

But the rock needs the supporting cast of thousands($) to make it just right ;)

Angela said...

So who got to keep the rock?

unmitigated me said...

Oh Rock, grant that Jozet will visit my blog for the award she so richly deserves. Amen.

dharmamama said...

Hey! What a great idea! You could market this... I know! You could call it... a pet rock.

Oh, wait.

cIII said...

Are you 100% possitive that is was a Rock this time......

and not Creek Glass.

Oh the Fun I've had with Creek Glass.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the annoying Dead Sea fingernail people who run the kiosks at the local malls. Deliver us from them, too.

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