Posts Filed Under bitching about the kids I chose to have.

I hate it when the assholes are right.

by renegademama

Five years ago, I would have told you there’s nothing more irritating than the moment you’re struggling in public with one to four children and some stoic-looking human in her forties smiles gently, tilts her head to one side, and says, “Enjoy it while it lasts.”

Five years ago, I would want to say, “I have an idea. How about you go fuck yourself and then we’ll talk.”

But I’ve always had a bit of a patience problem. Nobody asks me for marital advice.

But, now that I’m an enlightened monk, I know that actually there is something WAY more irritating than the “wise elder woman” bestowing upon me the depth of her insight: It’s realizing she is right.

Look, she’s not right about telling a struggling, irritated mother to “enjoy every moment.” That’s a bullshit move no matter how you cut it. If you see a woman sweating her ass off in Disneyland with a baby in a carrier and a toddler trying to dive into a moat, FUCKING HELP HER, don’t advise her.

Nobody likes advisors.

But the “enjoy” thing? Sadly, I get where Captain Wisdom is coming from now. I always thought it was just trite nonsense thrown around by the socially inept to feel vaguely superior and profound. I always thought it was an underhanded insult, an unappreciated “learning moment.” Forever, fuck learning moments.

But my oldest kid finished middle school a couple days ago. She’s fifteen and will be in tenth grade (high school) next year. She wore nude pumps.

And my baby, my last baby, well, he turned three, the asshole. He turned three without my permission. He’s tall and talks incessantly and barely wants to nurse. YES I NURSE MY THREE-YEAR-OLD FIGHT ME.

And I am 38. My grandparents are gone now. Seven months ago, I lost my last two grandparents.

I feel, well, a little out there in the wind. A little untethered. My family is selling my grandparents’ home of 45 years, the one I played in with my fifteen thousand cousins, the one that smelled like my grandmother, my home, my history.

But mostly, the one that was simply always there.

Until it’s gone.

I didn’t ask for some “knowledge.” I didn’t ask for some “new perspective.” That shit was slammed into my brain against my will, and now I find myself remembering the days when my oldest kid seemed she would be a kid forever, and my second kid, Rocket, wasn’t pulling away, just a little, the way tweens do, as a tension constructs itself between us, a natural letting go, the way it’s “supposed to be.”

There is a letting go.

I didn’t ask to look back on the days when they were all little and I felt it would last forever, because I didn’t know yet that the day will come when your child no longer plays in the surf or builds sandcastles, but rather, sits on the blanket eating Doritos and complaining.

I didn’t know you don’t get 18 years of child. You get 10, 11, 12, maybe. In moments, you get maybe 12.

And then you get something else, and it’s gorgeous and fun and holy hell can we talk about how fun it is to mess with teenagers via text message?

But it isn’t the same. And I look at my little family and see that in three years, my oldest will leave, and my second oldest will be almost fifteen, and in three years, my family will be reformed, reorganized, without Ava, the one who used to run down the trail ahead of us, under the redwoods, while I wrangled her little brother and wished I could do something about boob sweat.

And some lady heard me snap at Ava as I walked, looked over at me and said, “Enjoy it while it lasts.”

I hated her then. I possibly hate her now, but still, I wonder if they say it because they fucked up, you know? Because we all fuck it up. And we forget the monotony, the boredom, the dragging days of uninteresting parental work.

We look back and wish we could see what we have when we have it, rather than when it’s gone. Why is life like that? Why can’t we see what we have in the moment it’s ours, when it seems so solid and permanent it will never fade, as opposed to achieving mad clarity at the very moment it’s rendered useless?

It isn’t useless, but I wish a little I would have known.

I’ll never be the woman correcting and counseling and gazing lovingly into the eyes of a tired and pissed-off mama. Shit, I AM STILL THE TIRED AND PISSED OFF MAMA.

But now when they say it, I feel it a little in my bones, a moment of reckoning, of redirection. A little nudge.

I hate it when the assholes are right.

And you know? Even though I’m all advanced and profound and shit, I STILL can’t wander around stoically adoring every moment with my kids. I don’t even try.

Instead, I put my book down a few minutes early each night, turn off the light, and pull my toddler against me, to bury my nose in his sweaty little neck and inhale the sweetness of life just as it is right now, and I feel it as far as anything has ever gone.

That’s enough, I think, for those of us on the ground.

***

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An 8-week workshop with only 6 people, beginning August 15.

Family vacations are bullshit and I can’t wait until the next one.

by renegademama

There is a point in every family vacation when I begin referring to my children as “Poor Life Choice Number 1, 2, 3, and 4.”

Not to their faces, obviously. That would be mean. I did however refer to my older kids and nieces and nephews as “SLAs,” which stands for “slightly less annoying” (than the younger kids). But that is 100% the truth and I’m standing by it. And they wore it like a badge of honor.

Seriously, taking kids on family vacations is bullshit. I would like a family vacation without my family, please. Is that too much to ask?

“Family vacation” almost immediately moves from excitement, anticipation and all the beautiful mental pictures of “how great” it will be to throwing away a shit-filled pair of shorts in a Taco Bell bathroom.

Sorry, Taco Bell.

On the plus side, they weren’t my shorts.

I am the picture of positivity.

Also, sorry, hotel staff, for the puke on the bed you had to clean up at 4pm on a Friday because I played with my toddler too long and he LAUGHED TOO HARD I GUESS after drinking milk, and puked. So gross.

More proof one should always limit engagement with offspring.

I’m kidding. All I want to do in every waking moment of my life is engage with my special snowflakes on a level so exciting they vomit.

Literally four of the six of us puked at different times for different reasons WHY WHY WHY WHY.

 At least twice a day on every family “vacation,” my husband and I look at each other and say with our mouths or eyes, “We’re never doing this again,” “What the fuck is wrong with our kids?” and WHY ARE WE PAYING ACTUAL MONEY FOR THIS. It feels like tossing $20s into the air while chasing a sugar-fueled toddler into a Lego store.

To illustrate the level of bullshit, I made a Family Vacation BINGO card. Every one of these things happened during our recent trip to Disneyland.

vacation1

I think I ended the trip more tired than when we left. Pretty sure the last hour of the car ride had every single one of us screaming at equal volume and with equal maturity. And we won’t be unpacked for a month. And holy shit is that place expensive. WE WILL BE HAVING A VERY SMALL CHRISTMAS, kids.

(Disneyland prices are some nonsense, and yet, it’s so oddly horribly fun. I mean, I think it is. I hate crowds. Fuck crowds. And yet, it’s a small world! What is wrong with me. WHY DO I LOVE DISNEYLAND with its corporate princess capitalist patriarchal systems of oppression? The rides are so fun, people. And it’s so clean! I want to hate it and yet I do not hate it. I think it’s like adult acid without the regret.)

BUT, the trip was amazing. We went to Disneyland for fuck’s sake. As a family. We are so lucky. I know all this, and yet, I got frustrated and lost my patience and thought WHY ARE WE HERE and kept thinking Janelle! You are ruining the family memories! Stop! Be grateful! You’re acting like an asshole!

And I gotta tell ya, these feelings were especially intense because just one week before I left for this trip, I sat in a hospital room with my grandfather and grandmother, mom, brother, and cousins as my grandpa passed his final hours on earth. I watched him pressed to the furthest right side of his bed so he could be as close as possible to my grandmother, the woman with whom he spent 70 of his 87 years, with whom he raised 4 daughters and shared 20 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren. I watched their hands never let go as they played and replayed with their eyes the story of their lives together.

 And I realized, they were replaying what I am living now.

I watched them travel a lifetime in a few hours, tracing cracked fingers over paths of kids, jobs, grief and joy, and a few times I stole a glance at my husband across the room of beeping machinery and nearly palpable love, and I observed his face, the barely perceptible lines when he smiles, the black hair with just a few gray hairs, the strong, square shoulders and quickness of the way he moves.

We are so young.

We are, so young.

My heart ached. My eyes were on fire. This is it, Janelle. These are the years. This is life. What the fuck are we waiting for.

It all felt small. It all felt unimportant. These days that race by in frantic monotony. The shit-filled shorts. The puke. The bickering over the front seat. The pure exhaustion. The whining.

I thought, “I’ll never forget this! I’ll never get worked up about stupid shit again!”

Two weeks later, I’m making a Family Vacation Bullshit BINGO card.

I guess that’s the luxury of being here, and not being a spiritual giant.

Still, I want to remember. We are a family. We are together. We go on trips. Wfullsizerender-2e
walk hand-in-hand and hold our babies and make them laugh so hard they puke. We watch bigger cousins holding younger cousins as our teenager races to a ride, as if she were seven, and we run to CVS at 2am because the toddler has a random, inexplicable fever. I see my son and daughter dressed up with Goofy. I nearly cry it’s so damn precious. I love them so much I almost have to look away.

We take pictures. We try to remember.

Someday, we will try even harder.

I feel altered by my grandfather’s death. My grandparents were always there. They seemed immovable, fixed. Their home, where we played in the basement and now our kids play, and them, in love, inseparable. I knew in my brain it couldn’t last forever. I didn’t know it in my heart.

fullsizerenderI guess we can’t. It’s too hard.

But what if we could? What if we could live our lives in the knowing that someday, at the very best, at the very luckiest, we will think of the days of racing around after slightly less annoying children and puking babies as the memories that fill a room with so much love and warm light that it can almost be held, by me, by you, in the last breath of a man who had this once.

Or a hundred times.

Still, it would never be enough.

It feels it will never end. It feels relentless and pounding. It feels so sacred it takes my breath away. And one day, it will.

So fuck it. Let’s live this. Let’s hate it and love it. Let’s scream and laugh and let our babies fall asleep against our arms and with their hands on our faces and let’s stay up late and be bad parents and great ones on occasion but let’s not under any circumstances miss this.

It’s a BINGO game of bullshit, but it’s ours, and it’s the best we’ll ever have.

Until next time, kids.

And thanks for making me wear a tutu.

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35 Comments | Posted in bitching about the kids I chose to have. | October 19, 2016

21 things standing between me and “reasonable bedtimes”

by renegademama

Last week a super handy chart took its 10,000 laps around the internet and I once again realized either: a.) The whole fucking parenting world is batshit; or b.) I am worse at this than formerly thought.

You see, the chart in question outlines the times a kid should go to bed based on age and what time he or she wakes up in the morning. For example, a 6-year-old waking up at 6:30am should go to bed at 7:30pm.

Seven. Fucking. Thirty.

Mmmkay. This sounds amazing. This sounds amazing because if my little kids went to bed at 7:30 and my big kids at 8pm, my husband and I would have like two hours of KID FREE GLORY to ignore each other together on the couch while watching Netflix but actually just playing with our phones.

Truly, do we have no soul left? What is wrong with us?

I hate myself.

Anyway, my kids never go to bed at 7:30pm even if one of them has strep. Lies. They go to bed at 7:30pm when they have strep.

Why are we talking about this? I hate this conversation. Getting my kids to bed “on time” each night is somehow the hardest goddamn thing I do each day. I realize that probably means I have pretty nice days.

I try people I TRY. And every day I feel the sun kissing my face with the promise of a new day, a new chance to get my kids to bed before 9pm. Or 9:30pm.

GET OFF HERE IF YOU’RE JUST GOING TO TELL ME HOW I’M RUINING MY KIDS WITH MY LACK OF CONSISTENT BEDTIME.

Nobody likes you.

We eat together at least 75% of the time though, so there. Leave me alone.

 

It’s hard, you know. And seriously, 9:30pm is late even for us, but SEVEN FUCKING THIRTY? Come on.

Usually my evenings go like this:

Do shit

Do shit

Do shit

Do shit

Do shit

Relax…

REALIZE IT’S 9:15PM HOLY FUCK HOW DID THAT HAPPEN EVERYBODY TO BED NOOWWWWWWW

There are just so many things standing between me and reasonable bedtimes. For example:

  1. Absolutely nobody under the age of 30 is as interested in reasonable bedtimes as I am. I made an infographic to convey the complexity of the situation:

BEDTIMEsit

  1. And yet, they are the ones whose bodies need to move to their beds. And sometimes, I just don’t feel like dealing with them. Here’s a pie chart of things I’d rather do than deal with four bodies who aren’t interested in bed:

bedtimeratherdo2

  1. Also, we’re supposed to eat dinner before bedtime.
  2. And I am supposed to make that dinner.
  3. Or my husband is supposed to make dinner and he sucks at it as much as I do.
  4. Also sometimes I realize we have no food and it’s 6pm so instead I sit on the couch in denial about dinner.
  5. Or I “run to the store” but once I get there, start enjoying the alone time, so I spend an hour gazing at earth-friendly toilet cleansers, which gets me home at 7pm, and ruins everything again.
  6. After-school “enrichment” activities including but not limited to Boy Scouts, swimming, dance classes, random teen “fun” events. HOW THE HELL DO YOU GET KIDS TO BED AT 7:30pm IF OTHER KIDS NEED TO BE SOMEWHERE UNTIL 8PM?
  7. All the kids are sitting quietly somewhere and I’m enjoying the silence so much I can’t bring myself to disturb them by demanding they get up and go to bed.
  8. Fights with my husband. Look, you never know when a good clean fight needs to happen. I can’t control nature people.
  9. On the other hand there is a small possibility I can control when I fight with my husband.
  10. Forgotten homework at 7:45pm. The fucking worst.
  11. Forgotten project at 8pm. Never mind this is the worst.
  12. Trips to urgent care because I’m sure he’s got swine flu this time. I AM SURE OF IT.
  13. Baths, because there is only so long you can push it. You know?
  14. Random total parental failure.
  15. Temporary lapse in judgment.
  16. We’re at my mom’s house and I like it there because it’s clean.
  17. We’re at the farmer’s market eating lamb shawarma. Have you ever had it? One does not simply leave lamb shawarma. I don’t give a fuck who needs to go to bed.
  18. My child needs her 75th glass of water and a new sleeping arrangement or that one stuffed animal or possibly a new life entirely, but definitely the glass of water. 
  19. WE ARE ENJOYING EACH OTHER AND HANGING OUT FOR ONCE AND FRANKLY I DON’T WANT TO FUCK WITH THAT.

I get it. Sleep matters. All this parenting stuff matters. But seriously, fuck these charts.

I COUNTER YOUR CHARTS WITH RIDICULOUS INFOGRAPHICS.

You know, sometimes evenings are really the only time we all get to BE together. Just hang out. It’s the end of the day. There’s nothing to do. We can chill as people who like each other. We can sit around. We can calm down.

It can’t be all business all the time. Right?

Plus, it’s 7:30 somewhere.

It’s a reasonable bedtime somewhere. And that’ll have to do for now.

Potty training is bullshit. And that frog toilet can go to hell.

by renegademama

I’ve been a mother for 14 years and have 4 children and the only thing I’ve learned is that “they” are pretty much always lying. Everything “they” promise will happen does not actually happen.

Breastfed co-sleeping kids are not “clingy.” Sleep-trained kids do not burn puppies. Formula doesn’t crush souls; homeschooling doesn’t create teenagers capable of speaking only in Minecraft code.

They walk when they want. They talk when they want. They eat food when they fucking want, and they almost all turn into Perfectly Standard Humans. I mean, not to us, of course, to us they are glittering pillars of genius resulting from, that’s right, our excellent parenting choices.

I can’t wait until I have children-in-law and grandchildren so I can tell them how to parent perfectly like I did. EVERYONE IS GOING TO LOVE ME SO MUCH.

But still, sometimes I forget that “they” are full of shit. Even still. It pisses me off every time I do it. How do I do it? I don’t fucking know. My brain is like a weak-ass sieve.

For example, a few months ago, my obviously overcommitted husband bought a frog potty from Target. I was like, “Mac, dude. He’s not even two. WTF is wrong with you?”

And he said, “Well I see no harm in trying.”

See now that is immediately where parents go wrong. The key is to look for opportunities to NOT TRY, not seek out opportunities for excellence. Be a hero in other areas, assholes! Not parenting! Shit.

So I told him, “Okay well this is clearly your gig because I have no interest in attempting to potty train a kid this young.”

“Have you ever potty trained any of our kids?”

“Well, no, but you never know when I may spring into action and frankly I feel implicated by your premature frog-toilet purchase.”

Then he walked away. People walk away from me a lot.

 

Much to my surprise though, Arlo started showing all kinds of interest in the frog shitter. Mac stuck him on the thing when he first woke up, because apparently that’s a thing you do when you’re “potty training,” and lo and behold the toddler would pee. He even pooped a few times. He even did it when we were on vacation in Tahoe.

THIS WAS ALL AMAZING WE HAVE A GENIUS BOY CHILD WHO WILL POTTY TRAIN AT TWO.  

We stuck him on it, and he went! Over and over again! Wheeeeeeeee!

 

Then we forgot about it.

Yeah, that fucking happened. We forgot about it. We simply stopped doing it. I woke up one Sunday and realized it had been two to three weeks since we stuck him on a toilet gleefully bartering candy for excrement.

The frog was full of lint and toys. Uh oh.

So like any reasonable person, I immediately blamed it on the child. He regressed! He went through a phase then forgot!

When that didn’t soothe my nagging discontent, I got on the Google “to research” and ended up reading about how “if you miss the window, you’re totally fucked and they’ll end up 12 years old peeing down their own legs in gym class and not in a fun way.” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s basically what “they” said and BECAUSE MY BRAIN IS A WEAK-ASS SIEVE I forgot “they” are always lying, I PANICKED because I HAD RUINED MY CHANCE FOR POTTY TRAINING.

In terror I committed myself to potty training the toddler NOW. I can’t miss the window! I missed the window! THE WINDOW MY GOD THE WINDOW.

(Arlo is 26 months old. This entire thing is fucking ridiculous.)

 

So I googled, “How do you potty train?” And set myself aflame.

With devotion.

First, I tried to put him on the frog potty again because it worked so well before, but now he hates the frog potty and insists upon sitting on the full-size toilet with his legs out, clinging for dear life to the toilet seat. He just sort of hangs there and looks at me for a few seconds, demanding “candy” while I squeal “pee or poop! YAY!”

But now he’s learned to say, “not working,” which he repeats to infinity beginning about 9 seconds after getting on the toilet.

As if he’s fucking powerless. Sometimes he demands that I shit or pee WITH HIM which is impossible because he’s dangling over the toilet himself and there’s no room for me.

Sometimes I walk away and leave him there hoping he’ll get bored enough to do it but instead he starts flicking the toilet water with one hand while clinging to the seat with the other and screaming for his older sister to join him for “swimming.”

THIS IS NOT SWIMMING YOU ASSHOLES.

The next day I muster all my energy and gleefully ask him “Do you want to go to the potty? Let’s try the potty! Omg big boy! YAY! Let’s do it!”

He grabs my face, looks me dead in the eyes, tilts his head slightly and says flatly, “No.”

 

Nobody likes you, Arlo.

 

Then I remember how Georgia potty trained because she refused to wear clothes and didn’t like the feeling of pee down her leg, so I take his clothes off and he ends up taking a shit 10 minutes later on the top of the kitchen trash can while pulling things out of the junk drawer as I cook dinner.

This is the point at which I realize potty training is bullshit.

If you are dealing with a human who a.) sits naked on trash cans while sober and b.) has no problem taking a shit on it while playing with pencils and ear plugs, there is no hope for you.

 Nobody can work with that.

This is not a regular human. This is an individual outside the bounds of toilet-trained capacity and it is absolutely time to focus on doing nothing again.

The kid is only 26-months-old. Someday he will use a toilet. Someday all humans use toilets. In the grand scheme, what’s a year or two? Damn you Mac and your high standards.

And fuck you, frog potty. Fuck you. You can’t shame me into action. I know better! I’ve been a mom for 14 years!

I’m a motherfucking expert.

Oh, you wanted me to poop in the toilet? No worries I actually just took care of that. In my diaper. WHY ARE YOU CRYING?

Oh, you wanted me to poop in the toilet? No worries I actually just took care of that. In my diaper. WHY ARE YOU CRYING?

 

Sometimes, I am the asshole

by renegademama

One of my goals in life is to not let my decision to have children ruin anybody’s life.

I talk a lot about asshole, entitled parents producing tiny asshole children, and I work really, really hard not to do that. It’s kind of my claim to fame.

It’s not. I’m not famous, or even special, really.

Anyway, on Saturday, the fruit of my womb (I just threw up a little) ruined a woman’s afternoon. Or a portion of it, at least.

We were in Santa Cruz at the Beach Boardwalk, celebrating Arlo’s 2nd birthday. While walking through the amusement park to get ice cream, Georgia began vehemently asking for “a little bear dessert,” which of course I promptly ignored because that’s the first thing I do whenever any of my kids ask for anything.

But she kept on, and because we had stopped to let the bigger kids go on a ride, I decided to inquire about why child number three was hopping about and begging.

“What the fuck is a ‘bear dessert?’” I asked, but said the f word with my eyes only because I’m classy. She answered by pulling me around to a stand with an Icee ad. She was talking about the bear on the Icee ads. This is totally how they sell this crap to kids.

“Can I please have a bear dessert instead of ice cream?” She asked.

“Have you ever had one of those?” I asked.

“No, but it looks sooooo good.” She answered.

“Dude, they’re super gross,” I said, lying (I don’t remember how they taste). You see, I have a standing rule against sticky shit, particularly if it’s red. I’d like to tell you it’s because red dye number 40 kills people, but actually it’s because I don’t want to deal with the potential mess this  kind of thing brings. Plus, if you start buying your kids Icees and candy, all they ever want in the future is Icees and candy. Not interested, thanks.

But Mac disagreed, saying, “No they are not gross. Why are you ruining our kid’s childhood? Did you not drink those daily as a kid?”

“Well of course I did, Mac, because it was 1989 and all I had to entertain myself was the 7-11 down the street.”

But I realized he was right, and we’re at an amusement park and beach, so what could happen? I bought her one. I even bought a big one because I figured the other kids would want to try it. Plus it was like 50 cents more for twice the size. Why do they do that? WHY MUST THEY ALWAYS WIN WITH THEIR CAPITALIST PROPAGANDA?

So we get our ice cream and return to our spot on the beach. George drank about a third of the red-dye-death drink then stuck the cup with the remaining liquid in  the cup-holder of a beach chair.

Time passes. Arlo discovers the cup, removes the lid, and begins depositing chips in the remaining liquid. Normally I would care about this sort of thing, but I didn’t this time, because a.) he was already disgusting; red sticky shit couldn’t possibly make this worse; b.) he was super annoying at the beach and this activity had no drowning risk, so I could sit down for a minute; and c.) they were “baked” chips. Mac bought them. Who the fuck buys “baked” chips?

Men sent to the store, that’s who.

He didn’t mean to. We aren’t monsters.

Anyway, more time passes. Like an hour, or more.

Arlo saunters over to the chair, and, before I could even notice what he was doing, sits down in just the right way that he flips the chair over on it’s side, launching the melted Icee-chip mixture out of the chair and onto, yep, you guessed it, the woman enjoying herself on the blanket in front of us. Oh, but it didn’t just hit her. It hit her blanket. It went inside her bag. It pretty much doused every single thing she owned, including, understandably, her will to live.

That’s right: Sticky red melted ice drink with chips and possibly kettle corn spewed across a total stranger. My entire family was horrified. We were immediately on our hands and knees helping her clean it up. I’m giving her wipes and offering water bottles and begging forgiveness and she’s looking at me like, “Please die in your sleep” and I’m like believe me I’d like to, but there was nothing I could do.

The damage had been done.

I had become one of them.

I was the asshole.

It wasn’t intentional, and I’m not sure I could have prevented it, but it felt terrible. There was nothing to do but own the fact that my existence seriously inconvenienced an innocent bystander, despite my efforts to not be that person.

As we sat there watching the woman play totally unobtrusively with her son and husband, I kept glancing at the red all over her blanket and realizing, once again, that sometimes I AM THE ASSHOLE. In life. In general.

I can think I’m not. I can deny it. I can try to wish it away. But the time will come when I’ll have no choice but to face the truth. Will it set me free?

I had to leave. Fuck freedom.

On the off chance Arlo flung sand from his shovel or threw up and it hit her or some shit, I had to get out of there. It was time to leave anyway, maybe.

As we were leaving, I saw some grown ups and kids having a grand old time throwing sand at each other. Yes, you read that correctly. Literally engaging in my idea of hell, gleefully. My first thought was, “What the actual fuck. What kind of monster throws sand at a beach? What if that gets on ME?”

Then I thought: Well I guess it’s their turn to be the asshole.

But I looked at my kids anyway and said, “DO NOT EVER THROW SAND.”

Because we can’t avoid being the asshole all the time, but we sure as hell can avoid it most of the time.

This is my deep learning message for the day.

Have a nice afternoon.

Hey, hiiiiii! Fuck your pleasant life!

Hey, hiiiiii! Fuck your pleasant life!