Posts Filed Under self-esteem corner.

Can we please talk about THAT THING?

by Janelle Hanchett


So last week I didn’t write any blog posts because my computer broke, but the week before I didn’t write any blog posts because I was too pissed off to write.

And what, you ask, happened to piss me off to such an extent?

Well, now, that’s the fun part. Because nothing happened. Nothing at all. Nada.

Unless you count THAT THING. That thing that happens once a month. That thing that turns me, within seconds, into a stark raving mad specimen of humanity – a walking nutjob.

I’m fine. And then OMG I’M NOT.

That thing that makes me want to punch strangers in the throat for chewing too loudly, cry, scream, and eat all simple carbohydrates in a five-mile radius. That thing that makes me question the meaning of life while weeping at a car commercial and screaming at my kids to please STOP MAKING NOISE. To which they respond “Mama, I’m reading.”

Oh yeah. You know what I’m talking about. They call it “PMS.”

For the record, I think that is the stupidest name IN THE WORLD for such a thing.

I have some better ones. More descriptive. Accurate.

Such as: “Pissed off, Maniacal and Starving” or “Pending Marital Separation” or “Psychotic, Melodramatic, and Seething,” or “Pardon My Satanic-nature.” Those are just some ideas.

You think I’m kidding? You think I’m exaggerating? I’m not.

“Pre-menstrual Syndrome…” Bullshit. That sounds so innocuous, like it ain’t that big of a deal. Well I’m here to speak for those of us women who TURN INTO MONSTERS for a few days each month and pretty much have no capacity to change it. I’m always slightly amazed my husband hasn’t left me after that “special time.”

Men, listen up. This shit applies to you too.

At any rate, check it out: once a month, about a week before my period, I’m sitting there minding my own business when all the sudden, out of freaking nowhere, drifts into my reality a dark, cold haze. It enters every cell of my skin, right through to my bones. I feel it sinking in, a discomfort. An irritation. Like a fly buzzing just outside my ear. I feel it course through my veins. An anxiety. An angst. And I want to break things.

When it hits my ears they become more sensitive. When it hits my brain it becomes confused, scattered, anxious. When it hits my eyes they begin to only see the shit that annoys me. They see only negative.

And when it hits my heart, my heart gets heavy. It becomes a thousand pounds. My emotions burst from it in quick flashes of pain and agony and existential contemplation. What IS the meaning of life? Why AM I here? WHY do I yell at my kids so much?


Why am I married in the first place?

Why did I ever get married?

Why do I have kids? Do I like my kids? Why am I so fat? I wish I were 20. Why aren’t I 20?

I need a scone.

And always there’s that FLY. It’s buzzing. It won’t shut up. It MUST SHUT UP.


It’s never shutting up.

It’s here. “People Must Surrender,” because I’m fucking insane. For a few days, I am insane. Women who get PMS like me should get a break from their lives. We should get a handicapped parking spot. We should get special pills and massages and a camp or something with nothing but silent people, trees and hot tubs.

Why? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because once a month:

  1. I am not responsible for the shit that comes out of my mouth. I don’t even know who the fuck is saying it but I KNOW IT AIN’T ME. That bitch is crazy.
  2. I am not responsible for the shit I put into my mouth (which makes me not responsible for the stuff going in or out of my mouth, which is slightly alarming).
  3. I want to crawl in a hole and weep and die, though it’s unclear to me exactly why.
  4. I cannot recall why anything in my life is the way it is and I’m pretty sure it’s ALL WRONG. (But there’s nothing you can do to fix it so don’t even try because it’s never getting better and that’s just the way it is you fucktard.)
  5. I am no use to my husband (because it’s all his fault).
  6. I am no use to my children (because they’re so irritating I can’t spend more than 5 minutes near them).
  7. I am no use to my boss (because it’s hard to think when you suddenly realize your life isn’t worth living).
  8. I am no use in class (because my neighbor’s face is irritating me somehow).
  9. I am bloated. And nobody likes that. But I can’t drink water or get to the gym or do anything other than eat simple carbohydrates and sugar and caffeine because I’m comforting myself with food and beverage even though I’m going to regret it and I’m getting fatter by the fucking minute but OMG there’s that FLY and it WON’T STOP BUZZING PEOPLE.

Dude. No really. Let’s start a PMS camp.

Some medical site describes the emotional PMS symptoms as follows: “tension, irritability, mood swings or crying spells, anxiety, depression.”

I can summarize this in everyday language, and it pretty much summarizes my whole PMS experience, played out repeatedly, day after day, until suddenly, as fast as it came…it’s gone.

“Fuck you you irritate me please don’t leave me ever my GOD why are you so annoying no wait I’m sorry I’m such a bitch I want to move to Borneo forever oh my god I’m hungry.”

It’s good to be back. In more ways than one.

Not particularly insightful post on the topic of bullying

by Janelle Hanchett

So I hesitated writing this post because I don’t really have anything helpful to say on the topic of bullying.

But then I remembered this entire blog is devoted to unhelpfulness, so I figured “what the hell” and I’m writing it.

I have no particular insight into what makes a kid mean, no meaningful perspective on what it is that makes one kid a rampant teaser and another kid the victim of it.

And I don’t know what I’ve done to make my kids more the “victims” than the perpetrators. Perhaps I’ve done nothing. Perhaps they are the perpetrators and I just don’t know it.

Although to be honest I doubt the latter, mostly because they tend to come home telling me about how they have been made fun of, and how they don’t understand it, or they tell me about how mean some kids are to other kids, and how it’s sad. And they are visibly disturbed.

But I guess it’s critical for me to say that my kids aren’t angels. They aren’t perfect. They aren’t kind and patient and understanding all the time. I’ve read blogs by women who think their kids shit rainbows.

I am not that woman.

But I am pretty confident in asserting that my kids are not mean. I watch them with their friends. I have never had a complaint from any friend, teacher or acquaintance telling me my kid was involved in teasing or bullying, but I have seen both of them in tears, more than once, on account of other kids making fun of them in a repeated, disturbing way.

With Ava, the teasing has become sexual in nature and I’ve had to raise some serious hell in her school.

And when these moments occur (you can read about the saddest one HERE), when I’m watching the pain in my kids’ eyes, doing my best to trudge through it with them, comfort and hold them, I wonder, really truly wonder, what it is exactly that makes some kids bullies and some kids not.

Are they born that way? I doubt it.

Is it their parents? Are they neglectful? Are these kids vying for power and attention at school because they have none at home? I don’t know.

Are they abused? Does meanness run in their families? Are they teased by their parents? Are they criticized and harassed? Maybe.

Is it television? I don’t really see how that would work, but whatever, most bad shit can be blamed on television so I thought I’d throw that one in.


Or are they simply not taught right from wrong and respect for others? This one seems the most plausible to me. Maybe they aren’t “born bad” and they don’t have excessively horrid parents, but maybe those parents have not given their children a moral compass, a sense of “okay” and “not okay in any circumstance.” And so, they think something is funny and they just roll with it. And maybe they start and the other kids laugh and it’s exhilarating and fun and empowering, and nobody’s ever explained that that particular laugh is at the expense of another. Another’s heart. Another’s well-being. Another’s feeling of acceptance. Another’s RIGHT TO JUST BE.

And when I think about it, there is one thing my husband and I absolutely do not tolerate under any circumstances, and that’s the act of bullying in our home. My kids are not allowed to use their size or their power to dominate a sibling or anybody else. When I see it I make them set it right immediately, no matter where we are, and we talk about why it was wrong. Even grabbing a toy out of Georgia’s hand is unacceptable.

We don’t call names.

We don’t make sweeping insults that slash another’s character.

And we recognize when we have hurt each other. We watch them cry. We feel what we have done and we FUCKING APOLOGIZE.

In these routines I’m trying to teach my kids some morality. Some sense of “it ain’t right to make somebody cry because I feel like it or it’s fun or I want something.”

I am responsible for my words. And the consequences of my words.

And my actions. And the consequences of my actions.

And it isn’t right to GAIN ANYTHING by hurting somebody else, by violating their rights, by making them feel small and powerless and alone.

Or, maybe they’re just born that way.

I don’t know. I guess I just want my kids to obey what is probably the only solid, universal advice in the history of the world:

“Don’t be a dick.”

And if you can, maybe support each other occasionally, even people you don’t know, like you would your little sister just learning to walk, as you plod along this rugged path we all walk, stumbling, falling, grabbing for the hand of somebody who might actually give a shit.


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.


Things I would write on bathroom stalls, were I the type of person who wrote on bathroom stalls.

by Janelle Hanchett


Gonna be honest, I enjoy reading the vandalism in bathroom stalls. I mean when the hell else do you have that much entertainment while peeing?

Well, unless you consider watching a toddler remove the contents of a bathroom vanity entertaining. If that’s entertaining, I get entertained daily. But I find it more annoying than entertaining.

And there’s always a lovely variety of little bathroom memos, depending on where you are, of course. Dive bars and music halls always provide some super riveting stuff involving penises and who loves whom (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself with the “whom” thing) and all that nasty dirty stuff. My favorites though are the I’m-hammered-and-weepy-because-I-just-found-my-boyfriend-kissing-some-slut-so-now-I’m-going-to-write-horrible-things-about-him vandalism. You know, like “Johnny Smitherman gets it on with farm animals.” And then his phone number.

At my college, there’s like cultured vandalism. You know, English majors getting all deep and shit, quoting Whitman and whatnot: “And your very flesh shall be a great poem.”

I’m sure old Walt is elated. “I sound my barbaric yawp over the pissers of the world.”

And the Jesus people. “Jesus loves you.” I always want to write back “Jesus wants you to stop defacing other people’s property you fucking dumbass.”

But I don’t.

Actually, there are all kinds of things I’d like to tell the general, young, female idiot population in bars and music halls [how do I know they’re idiots, you ask? Because they’re writing in bathroom stalls]. You know, I’d like to just write a few words of wisdom and little tidbits of awesome.

I wish I wouldn’t say things like “little tidbits of awesome.” I mean shit. Not only is it meaningless, but I sound like a geeky old person when saying it.

Oh well. The cool ship sailed a Long.Time.Ago, as I have demonstrated for you folks on more than one occasion.

Anyway, here are a few things I’d write on a bathroom stall, were I the type of person to write on bathroom stalls:

  1. Ladies, someday you will stop being so competitive with each other, because you will realize other women are not the problem. MEN are the fucking problem.
  2. Oh come ON, admit it. You love it when Cyndi Lauper comes on the radio. You also love “Born in the U.S.A.” by Springsteen. So stop trying to be so cool.
  3. Speaking of cool, that hipster guy you’re with? Yeah, he’s totally boning your best friend.
  4. No, honey. No. He is never going to leave his wife for you.
  5. You think you’re hiding it, but we all know how drunk you are. And we think you’re an idiot. And no, you can’t dance. You are not smooth. Not smooth at all. You do not have moves like Jagger.
  6. Even when you’re doing that super-slinky I’m so hot don’t you wanna nail me dance? Yeah, it’s still bad and we still think you’re an idiot.
  7. I realize you’re 21 years old and easily excited, but really sweetheart, there’s no need to squeal EVERY SINGLE TIME you see your friend across the room or OMG THAT ONE SONG comes on.
  8. Less perfume. Less make-up. Less hair-flipping. Fewer fake tans. Fewer lower-back tattoos. Fewer walks of shame. Better world.
  9. This will suck tomorrow.
  10. Most importantly, if you flirt with my oddly attractive husband one more time because I’m older and less hot than you, my stretch marks and I will kick your teeth in. And then, I will write about it in the bathroom stall.

And with that, lil’ ladies at the bar, I bid you “goodnight!”

Haha. That was fun.

And please vote for me…would ya? I won’t write about it on any bathroom stalls, I promise.

She’ll kick your ass and steal your sippy cup

by Janelle Hanchett

We already know this, but let’s say it again just for funsies: toddlers are lunatics.

Beyond pooping on themselves and attempting to grab it, waking up ready to party at 5am no matter what time you put them down the night before, and seeking out their own physical demise on a pretty much hourly basis, they have some seriously warped social behaviors.

For example, the grabbing stage.  Also known as the biting stage, whacking stage, or pinching stage.

I have a grabber.

Oh yeah. That Georgia. She’s a mean one these days.

A couple days ago we were at Little League practice (holy hell it’s started AGAIN), and there was this super sweet little girl around 13 months toddling around, kind of following Georgia, who was of course sprinting around the bleachers like a bat outta hell while yelling “apple” [which is odd, considering none of us had an apple].

So this little munchkin walks up to my 19-month-old (looking rather calm and innocuous I might add), Georgia’s looking at her like she fears she might knife her, or steal her imaginary apple (oh I don’t know I’M GUESSING).

And just as this little girl gets close, Georgia stares her down with the toddler death eyes and just gives it to her. BOOM! Grabs her little cheek like a little hellion.

My heart jumps. I immediately hold Georgia’s arm down, telling her “no” and “gentle.” She’s looking at me like “Whatevs, mom. That kid was all up in my business.” I tentatively release her arm and BOOM! She does it again. I move her. I apologize profusely.

So yeah. I have the evil grabber kid.

Usually mothers are pretty understanding, well, if they have a kid who’s been through this stage. The Little League mom was way cool – apparently her innocent-looking toddler assaulted some unsuspecting newborn at a recent playdate. Score. Real mothers. LOVE THEM.

But most of the first-time mothers whose kids haven’t reached this jewel of a phase look at me like I’m some sort of trash-dwelling creature with trash-dwelling creature offspring. I wonder if they think we all walk around the house grabbing each other’s faces when we’re mad.

You know, they’re still all smug and shit, basking in the infinite goodness and purity of their little bundle. Sure it’s never going to change.


Just wait, lady. Your little beam of sunshine will soon be gnawing the nose off her friend’s face.

And you’ll feel bad. Soooo bad. And you’ll get embarrassed. And you’ll look up quickly at the eyes of the mother, wondering what you’re gonna get: “Oh, no worries. My baby does that too!” — or that face. That furrowed brow and quick sweep picking up her baby and moving away – the face and body and gesture all saying “come on, honey, let’s get away from this obviously deranged toddler and her obviously subpar mother.”

When those women, those “If you were a better parent your kids wouldn’t be such assholes” women (I stole that from Sara, a commenter on this blog, because it so perfectly summarizes The Attitude. You know the one.) look at me with that face of disdain, I like to imagine the day when they get the call from the school informing them that their little Johnny bit Sally on her forehead during Circle Time.


Payback’s a bitch.

Cause now Johnny’s an ass-kicker too, and you better hope that other mama isn’t as smug as you were…or you’ll be getting The Face. Oh yeah, The FACE.

Then we come home and Georgia does THIS, and I feel it again: Freaking nutjub toddlers. All of ‘em.

Face-grabbing to monkey-towel grinning in 2 hours flat.

And I’ll take her as she is.