Posts Filed Under Could this get me arrested????

Parenting in the Gray Area

by Janelle Hanchett


Sometimes, I know my kids are being really annoying. It’s like totally clear. For example, running in restaurants. Screaming in libraries. Beating on other children. Flailing in chairs at somebody else’s dinner table. Not saying “hello” when somebody walks in the room.

Et Cetera.

In these instances, it’s clear that I must engage, and I do so. I’ve heard of parents who never say “no” to their children, but instead find ways to lovingly accept whatever horrifying shit their kids are currently engaged in.

Yeah, I don’t do that. Maybe someday, after I’ve reached enlightenment, I will become one of those parents. Then again, maybe not.

I also know when my kids are not being annoying. Well, not THAT annoying (cause let’s be honest, they’re pretty much always somewhere on the spectrum). You know, those moments when they’re just hanging out, kids being kids. And maybe there’s volume and mess and chaos, and my delicate sensibilities are being assaulted, but nobody’s getting pummeled or maimed and they are clearly within the bounds of civility.

However, things are often not that simple, because, of course, there is the GRAY AREA.

To illustrate, I made a graph:

I hope that helped.

As you can see, my kids’ behavior generally falls into the Gray Area. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to parent in the gray area. I’m confused by the behavior that falls between acceptable and totally fucking unacceptable. For example, sitting at a table in a restaurant talking and eating is acceptable. Making straw wrapper spit wads and using your spoon to launch them at strangers is totally fucking unacceptable. However, what about making straw wrapper spit wads and launching them a few inches? Is that acceptable?


Running in a park is acceptable. Running in restaurants is totally fucking unacceptable. But what about running down hotel halls in the middle of the day?


Final example: Playing with toys in a friend’s living room is acceptable. Throwing those toys at their toddler’s head is totally fucking unacceptable. But what about rolling around on the living room floor loudly repeating Phineas and Ferb lines and squealing? Irritating, but perhaps acceptable. Clearly annoying people a little, but perhaps within the bounds of being a kid. Perhaps those adults need to mellow the hell out and realize kids are annoying.

Goddamn gray area.

You see, here’s the thing. I am not a parent who lets her kid do whatever he or she wants because I don’t want to squelch their inner child and creativity. Though I appreciate those sentiments, I don’t have the patience. Just keepin’ it real.

So I sometimes direct their behavior. I do. However, I am not a Nazi controller parent either, and well, yes, I guess it’s true, I don’t want to beat their inner child into subservience and eerily good-behavior. Perfectly behaved children scare me. I wonder how they got so contained, being that curiosity and exploration and messy discovery are the hallmarks of a kid being a kid. And perhaps, of all learning. I want my kids to push boundaries. Fuck the system. Rage against the machine.


Where the hell is the line? There is no line. There is only one giant obscure GRAY AREA with no discernible lines.

I think I need lines.

But there are none, and every time people attempt to draw them for me I get irritated and combative, like “who the fuck are you to tell me how to parent my kids?” I reject your lines!

It’s complicated being me.

And so I parent in the gray area. I kick it in the borderlands. The frontier.


Always wondering…

Do I act? Do I redirect? Do I engage?


Do I step back and breathe, realizing I’m being impatient and intolerant and controlling?

Am I shoving my grown-up limitations and old-person tendencies on these children, blocking them from the freedom to learn and create and explore?

Or am I teaching them how to behave? How to be citizens? How to be sensitive to others?

Oh whatever. I don’t fucking know.

We watched a play about Tom Edison. In one of his childhood explorations he inadvertently burned down his family’s barn. Totally fucking unacceptable behavior.

And yet, he was learning about light, which eventually evolved into the invention of the light bulb.

Guess in that case, he illuminated the gray area.


Contributing to the Truancy of Children

by Janelle Hanchett


I do things on a somewhat regular basis that cause me to question my qualifications for parenthood.

For example, I sometimes contribute to the truancy of my children. I’ll take them out of school early or bring them late or have them miss a day or two for last-minute beach trips or jaunts to San Francisco or pretty much no compelling reason at all.

It’s not that I think school is unimportant. Obviously not. I mean shit, I’m a grad student, clearly I don’t think it’s a complete waste of time.

It’s just that I have a hard time convincing myself that sitting in a classroom with 20 other 4th-graders is more important than a trip to the ocean with your family.

This week I pulled Ava out of school for 3 days because it was my Spring break and I felt like cruising down South to visit my best friend Claire, who I’ve known since 2nd grade. She lives in Central California, near San Luis Obispo, and we went. The husband had to work, so I took all three kids by myself, knowing that I’d be hanging with another mother, who would help me.

I felt a little guilty for taking Ava out. But I’ll be honest, it was worth it. At least I think it was. Maybe she’ll end up in therapy because her mother was a flake, but alas, nobody’s perfect.

There is something remarkable about a best friend since childhood. There is something sacred and wonderful about a person who isn’t “family” but has known you longer than most people on the planet. Family HAS to love you (well, at least in my family), but a best friend? Ah, they’re there because they want to be with you. They chose you. They don’t have to be there. But they are.

When we were 7, Claire and I played dolls and “restaurant” and Barbies in my bedroom. We had a pet bug named “Shiloh” who lived under a Monopoly hotel.

When we were 10, we busted into the neighbor’s house one boring summer afternoon, until we realized we had just done something illegal and we freaked out and bolted. When we got home we sprayed hairspray on the stucco wall of her house and lit it on fire. Both of those activities were my idea.

When we were 12, we went roller skating every Saturday and contemplated boys from afar.

When we were 13, we got dressed up and Waltzed with her younger twin cousins in her grandma’s living room, while she drank bourbon and smoked cigarettes and instructed our dance moves.

When we were 15, we stole her grandma’s Cadillac in Santa Clara and drove around.

When we were 17, we did the same but added beer.

When we were 18, we gazed into the eyes of Claire’s newborn baby and wondered what the hell had happened.

When we were 21, we drank Bloody Mary’s at 7am in Vegas.

When we were 25, we didn’t talk much, because I was drunk and lost and too full of self-hatred to reach out to the people who knew me before I was a failure.

When we were 29, I got sober and drove to her house 5 hours away and asked her to forgive me and love me again. And it became clear she had never stopped.

And now, at 32, we get together and take care of kids and talk until 2 in the morning and laugh like we did when we were 10 years old, giggling in the back of our parents’ cars, sisters who chose one another.

I guess this week I just needed my friend. Maybe Ava should have gone to school.

Then again, maybe not.

We went to Morro Bay

and Georgia contemplated god, err, I mean the ocean.


we missed daddy

We went to Avila and it was 73 degrees and glory.


Georgie wore her new bathing suit and we all died from the cuteness.

Rocket dug "the biggest hole pretty much in the world"

And made this face, which kills me.


doing what big sister does...


Still a little girl...


Yep, it was definitely worth it.


Claire and Georgia.

Forget Wall Street. Occupy Single Family Homes with Children

by Janelle Hanchett


So a few minutes ago I Googled “Occupy Wall Street Official Statement” because, well, I was curious about the Occupy Wall Street official statement. I found this. While reading it, because there’s something wrong with me, I started cracking myself up by tweaking each statement [in my head] to address the annoying things kids do. About halfway through, I realized perhaps I should share this, just in case some of you had any remaining doubt regarding my insanity. Also because I love you. So here you go.


The Official Statement of the “Occupy Single Family Homes with Children” movement.

We are the 99%.

We are older, have more experience, and earn more money than them, and YET, they continue to control our lives, treat us like butlers, seize our time and lives without a shred of concern for our well-being, mental health, pocketbooks, or civil rights.

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all parents who feel wronged by Offspring Forces can know that we are your allies.

We are the 99% and we will not relent.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the continued existence of children; and therefore, we can’t mow them down completely, rather, we must protect them, feed them, nurture them, but it’s up to each of us to protect our own rights, as parents, because this system is seriously corrupt.

This ain’t no democracy. This is like a dictatorship in reverse, only there’s more than one dictator and they’re all under 5 feet tall and watch The Backyardigans.

We are the parents. We are the 99%. And we demand change.

We come together at a time when children, who place fun over reason, disarray over order, ceaseless racket over quiet, flipping out over sleeping, pooping in diapers over the use of toilets, run our houses. We have peaceably assembled here, in the front and back yards of our Single Family American Homes, as is our right, to let these facts be known:

1. They have taken over our houses with their goddamn toys, despite our continued trips to the Goodwill.

2. They have taken bailouts from grandparents with impunity, and continue to do pretty much nothing to earn their weekly allowances.

3. They have poisoned the food supply with their incessant pickiness and undermined grocery store trips with nonstop whining, complaining and finagling.

4. They have continuously sought to strip us of our right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions, mostly by making us so damn busy and tired we no longer care that our jobs suck ass. Well that and we need the paycheck.

5. They have held us hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt toward their education, extra-curricular activities, clothing, food, and toys made in China.

6. They have consistently outsourced labor by manipulating younger siblings into doing their chores.

7. They have sold our privacy by telling inappropriate facts about our family to their friends’ parents, mostly in the form of what mommy said to daddy last night, without concern for what that behavior may do to our future as respectable figures in the eyes of the community.

8. They have used military and police force in the form of small, plastic, surprisingly sharp figurines that stab us in the soles of our feet repeatedly, break our vacuums and pollute our floors.

9. They have threatened our health by deliberately declining to engage in simple hygienic activities, despite our pleas for decency. They won’t wash their hands. They whine when they have to bathe. They pee on the back porch. Through this behavior they bring every form of viral illness into our homes. They are unrepentant snot spreaders.

10. They determine economic policy without concern for our savings, selfishly eating obscene quantities of food, outgrowing their clothes on a regular basis, and demanding character-building activities such as sports, music, and social events, which they enjoy for 3 weeks and then refuse to attend.

11. They continue to block alternate forms of transportation by requiring 40 pounds of gear per 10 pounds of human, keeping us dependent upon SUVs and mini-vans.

12. They control our minds and torture us in the form of sleep-deprivation and voodoo guilt tactics.

13. They have purposely covered up food spills, stains, broken household items, and other disasters in pursuit of not getting in trouble.

14. They keep tight control of the media by demanding the same freaking book every single freaking night and requiring us to watch shows that don’t say “fuck.”

15. They continue to create weapons of mass destruction, mostly in the form of their own bodies, which fly through the house like tornadoes, destroying without remorse all things in their path, treating the precious Single Family American Home like a twisted personal playground, forgetting they are the 1%, forgetting we have rights, forgetting OTHER PEOPLE LIVE HERE.*

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

To the mothers and fathers of the world,

We, the Parents of America occupying Single Family Homes with Children, urge you to assert your power, if you have any left.

Scrape your exhausted ass up off the floor. Get a fucking babysitter. Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy front yards; occupy back yards; create a process to address the problems we face (and yes, we’ve already thought of birth control), and generate solutions accessible to everyone (Duct tape? Chicken Wire? Ear plugs? WHISKEY?).

Get creative people. The Offspring Forces are plotting as we speak, gathering in the sandbox during playdates, contriving ways to continue their dominance in the sacred territory of the Single Family American Home.

Join us and make your voices heard!


I know. I KNOW. I have too much time on my hands. But the Offspring Forces MUST BE STOPPED.

We are the 99%, people.

Never forget it.

Santa turned my kid into a crackhead!

by Janelle Hanchett


So…you know what’s worse than disagreeing with somebody’s opinion on the latest parenting controversy?

Realizing you don’t have an opinion on the issue because it never occurred to you to give a shit.

Um, yes.

That’s where I stand with the whole Santa controversy.

[And yes, there is a controversy, friends. And it’s a big one.]

Well, maybe not that big, you know, compared to like world hunger or something, but still. It’s pretty big. Big enough to warrant at least 9 thousand blog posts and Facebook discussions.

Some people, evidently, think he’s creepy. Like pedophile creepy. Something about old man, kids on laps, bribing, etc. Mmmmkay. I’m not going into this. Next topic.

Others “can’t stand lying to their kids that way.” Oh come the fuck on. You don’t lie to your kids? Whatever. YOU DO TOO. “Mommy, what were you and daddy doing last night after we went to bed and I heard those sounds coming from your room?” “Um, uh…we were…um…reading the Communist Manifesto. Loudly. In intervals.”


Some people hate the materialistic part of it all. You know. Gifts and crap and whatnot and rewarding good behavior with stuff and bad behavior with, well, stuff. I suppose I can sort of get behind that one except that I can’t, because I like showering my kids in crap from Walmart and I often resort to bribing them. I mean I try not to, cause that’s some seriously shitty parenting (so they say), but when I’m in a bind, I’ll go there. I will.

And we’re all still breathing.

And then other people love the fantasy and play of Santa and think it’s all magical and shit.

But check this out. The only thing that crossed my mind as I read all these passionate diatribes for or against the fat gift-wielding man was “Uhhhhhhhhhhhh…(blank space and stares)….oopsy! Forgot to think about that one!” And…Guess that’s one more parenting approach I haven’t considered at all and thanks A LOT for making me wonder if I have damaged my kids ONE MORE TIME in ONE NEW WAY because I didn’t make a conscious decision about Christmas traditions but pretty much just continued the traditions of my family with no forethought, insight or contemplation.

Yes, I admit it.

I have not deconstructed Santa.

I have not considered the implications, insinuations, assumptions or underlying messages contained in the gift-giving crap extravaganza that is our Christmas. I like it. It’s fun. That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

I did not consider the long-term effects of my lying about who deposits stuff under the tree. I pretty much just did it.


My bad.

But I’m gonna level with ya. If my kids end up hating me for being a crap parent with poor ideals and pitiable execution, I can promise you it won’t be over the whole Santa thing. I have done so much worse than that.

My yelling alone pales the threat of any long-term Santa-induced trauma.

Easily 5 years of therapy material right there.

And then there’s my mouth and the incredibly poor decision-making surrounding it. For example, last summer I told my (then) 5-year-old son about bears and “friendly” ghosts (look, it’s a long story and it’s complicated.). But really. Who the hell does that? That was a baaaadddd choice.

I didn’t think about it beforehand. I MADE A MISTAKE.

So you can see why I’m just gonna let the whole Santa thing go.  Other people can worry about that sort of thing.

I have much bigger fucking fish to fry.

For example, figuring out how to not tell my kids stories that scare the crap out of them for a year.

Or really, thinking before I talk at all would be nice.

Now THAT would be a gift.

And I don’t care who fucking brings it. Incidentally, I don’t think my kids would either.

Maybe Santa will hook that up next year. He is real, isn’t he? He better be. My mama told me he was. And she never lies! She said he WAS REAL! HE MUST BE REAL! Why are you looking at me like that? Did she lie? Did the evil bitch LIE TO ME ALL THESE YEARS about Santa Claus? Oh agony! Oh pain! I CAN’T FACE MY LIFE NOW THAT I KNOW MY MOM TOLD ME A STORY ABOUT AN IMAGINARY MAN, CHIMNEYS AND GIFTS.

I shall not recover!

My inner child is weeping.


Okay that was fun.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.

8 things I do pretty much daily that I NEVER would have done with my first kid

by Janelle Hanchett

So that last post I wrote about waking Georgia up for no reason made me think of the many things I now do that I NEVER would have done with my first kid.

It’s funny. Sometimes when people ask for my advice on something parenting related (okay admittedly this doesn’t happen very often), I feel like responding, “Sorry, you should have asked me when I only had one kid and knew everything.”

Don’t get me wrong. I was still confused. I’ve always been confused.

The difference is, I guess, that I used to think there were really right ways to parent and other ways were really WRONG no matter what. Now I realize it’s all basically one giant crap shoot and we do the best we can in the circumstances we’re facing and just as soon as you think you’ve got it figured out, you get your brilliant ideas handed to you on a silver platter, all chewed up and spit out and useless.

In other words, I’ve fucking relaxed my Captain Justice parenting approach. Out of necessity. Life made me do it.

Or maybe I’ve just lost my ethics.

Or gotten lazy.

I dunno.

You decide.

Anyway, here’s my list. Oh, 22-year-old self, if only you could see me now as I…

  1. Feed her formula. Wah? Huh? No she DIDN’T. Yes, she did. Apparently, babies do not die from formula. And apparently, I can’t quite swing the fulltime breast-pumping extravaganza and YES I felt a little guilty about it and YES I am now over it. The baby still nurses AND she takes a bottle when I’m not around AND the sky has not come crashing down on my formula-feeding sinner head, thus far. As an added bonus, I do not yet see signs of brain damage or emotional distress. Obviously, there’s still time.
  2. Let her cry in her crib for 5 minutes. I don’t do the cry-it-out thing. Nope no way. Not my deal. However, when the Georgia has been asleep for an hour or two or five and suddenly starts that irritated “wahhhhh-ahhhhhh” half-awake thing, or is just too tired to sleep (you know what I’m talking about…) I leave her for a few minutes, usually 5 or so. If she gets amped up, I go in there. But sometimes, I’ll be damned the kid goes to sleep. This never would have happened with my first, cause at the FIRST faint whimper I would have darted in and grabbed her up. Oh wait. That wouldn’t have happened because my first never left my bed until she was 2. Guess that’s another one for the list.
  3. Let her eat sugar. Ava didn’t have any processed sugar until she was three. Rocket didn’t have any until two. Georgia had some on her first birthday and now eats it, well, sometimes. Not candy or juice or soda…but the occasional nibble of ice cream, cake or cookies? Yes. I admit it. It just makes her SO HAPPY – and you try keeping your two older kids from passing her bites when you’re not looking.
  4. Let a nine-year-old watch her for 30 minutes. Oh come ON, I don’t leave the house – it’s only to catch a few extra ZZZZZs in the morning, when I’m particularly exhausted. Can that get me arrested? Let’s talk about something else.
  5. Not bathe her every day. Or every two. Or week. No we do more than that. Every week at least. For sure. I think.
  6. Feed her the same thing every day for a week because it’s the only thing she’ll eat and I’m too lazy to force feed or explore other items. Pretty self explanatory.
  7. Stay home to let her get a long morning nap. With three kids, that nap is the most important event of the day. All cleaning happens during that nap. All chatty phone calls with friends. All carefree blog writing. All peace. All joy. All meaning. You think I’m exaggerating. But I’m not.
  8. Put on lame shows from Netflix in the distant hope it will amuse her for 5 straight minutes so I can get something done. With my first kid, if somebody turned a television on IN THE SAME HOUSE MY BABY WAS IN, I’D LEAVE. Okay not that bad, but I was definitely what you’d call a no-television extremist. I thought T.V. exposure would like fry her brain cells on the spot. Like you could watch them sizzle right there in front of you – “boom!” – dumber, one cell at a time…now? I put on Sesame Street and dance around trying (in VAIN) to get Georgia to even glance at the damn T.V. Incidentally, she hates it.

What about you? What sort of sins do you commit that you’d SWORE you’d never do?

Come on. Hook it up. Make me feel better.