Hooters, children and me being the greatest parent that ever lived…

Yesterday was the last day of my children’s freedom, and incidentally the last day of my imprisonment.  As I counted down the dwindling hours of winter break, I was also counting down the hours till my head was going to stop throbbing and my voice would sound human again (oppose to a hissing, barking, and squealing-female version of a prison guard type of a voice).

So, I decided to reward my boys with a lunch at Red Robin (mainly because I had a coupon) to celebrate their last day of vacation!  Even though they didn’t seem to appreciate my goodwill and sarcasm about the whole thing, they still agreed to go.  What a tough life!  Poor little children being taken out to lunch after having endured two weeks of fancy shmancy activities, trips, restaurants and who could forget not one but eight nights of Hanukkah.  Next year, I already told them that they will be taking a little trip to Skid Row for the holidays; and later I will re-wrap their already played and forgotten toys for Hanukkah.

After being seated along with the many other Moms who had the same exact idea, I tried making conversation in between Atari’s Breakout and NimbleBit’s Tiny Tower; yes they are over Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies or whatever the hell their names are.  Let me tell you, it requires some serious mad skills to be able to carry on a conversation with your Mother while building a whole condominium at the same time, and don’t get me started on those pesty little people walking around needing something every ten minutes, the alarm on Tiny Tower is the most annoying thing I’ve ever heard in my life, right next to a child crying and whining at the table next to me while I’m trying to enjoy an ‘Adults Only’ dinner.  Why is it that its perfectly alright for the child to throw a fit in a public place, but it is NOT alright for me to come over to it and smack it on the head?  My theory is if the child’s parent isn’t going to do anything about it, that clearly means they want other adults to do something about their annoying child’s behavior.  You with me on this?  Good, moving on.  Oh wait, one more thing before moving on…  As my Father likes to say quite often, “When I was a little boy in Lithuania (FYI, we lived in Latvia, but that’s not the point) if a child ever talked or cried in public, any adult was allowed to come up and shut that bastard up!  End of story.”  Alright, so I added the last part from myself but you get the point here.

Somehow I managed to get my kids’ little eyes away from their iPods long enough to have a five-minute dialogue about our adventures in Florida back in the day.  Specifically, my oldest wanted to know why I took him to a ‘HOOTERS’ restaurant in Orlando one day.  His words: “Mom, I just don’t understand.  I was only like 7 or 8 at the time!  Why would you think it was appropriate for me to see girls in very short shorts and boobs everywhere serving me food?  If I wanted to see that, I’d stay at home and look at you.”  First of all let’s get something straight, I’ve never in my whole life worn short shorts or shorts of any kind.  My idea of shorts are pants that come up to my calf, I believe they are called ‘Mom shorts’ a.k.a. Capris.  Second of all, I have never until that day been to a Hooters restaurant, nor have I heard much about it.  Sure I’ve heard the name, but didn’t know what it was about.  Believe me, as soon as we walked in I realized it was not your typical place to eat.  Maybe we stayed because I was curious, and maybe it was because we were both starving and the other closest restaurant was not close by.  After explaining such to my twelve-year-old, he seemed pretty satisfied with the answer and immediately after went back to destroying aliens, or building a house for them, not quite sure which one.  After a minute, he looked up and added this interesting fact: “It’s OK Mom, I am not mad at you.  Turns out most of my friends have been to Hooters with their Dads anyway, so it wasn’t just me that was put through that torture.  And to tell the truth, I like girls now so its OK.  Let me know if you’d like to go there again.”  Oh thanks son, make me feel like the worst parent ever, then reward me with that little announcement…

My six-year-old caught wind of ‘boob talk’ and decided to chime in, specifically wanting to know where there’s such a place with girls in short shorts and boobs everywhere, and more importantly why I’ve never taken HIM there?  Oye, how can one brother be so different from the other?  One is all about the rules and structure, and the other only wants to have a good time.  Boy I sure hope the older one doesn’t find out about my new tattoos, there is a lecture I’d like to avoid.  Last time it only lasted a week, who knows how long this one will take…  I plan on keeping a shirt on whenever taking him to the pool, beach and anywhere else that requires a swimsuit.  Stay tuned for that conversation, I am planning on recording it…


Soviet Dentists and My Anxiety…

Is it just me or do other people have a huge phobia of Dentists?  I don’t know why I have such a fear of them, but I do know that I’d rather have another baby than go to the Dentist.  Actually, now that I think about it, I would even prefer a colonoscopy to having someone put their hands and sharp tools into my mouth.  The night before my appointment I have to either consume large amounts of alcohol or take Valium, otherwise I lay awake all night starring at the ceiling.  You would think that having a Grandmother that used to be a Dentist would make one MORE comfortable with getting dental work, but in my case I believe that it made me LESS comfortable.

Let me explain.  My Grandmother went to dental school right after the War, which might as well have been during dinosaur times.  The fact that she never worked on her children or grandchildren was definitely alarming to me, and raised a lot of questions in my head as to why she always referred us to other dentists…  She had no problem with fixing other people’s teeth, but when it came to us she would state: “I have a very heavy hand and don’t want to hurt you.”  To this day I have absolutely no clue what that means.

Or maybe my brain has ingrained the image of all those Soviet dentists I had to go to as a child.  The memory of getting my teeth pulled without Novocain, the pre-historic tools they used (see pic), the cavity work without anesthetic, etc…  I wonder if any of that has to do with my terrible fear of the dental chair?


I do remember getting out of mandatory visits to the Dentist with my class.  For those of you not familiar with how Communism works, apparently the government has the right to decide when and how children are supposed to visit the Dentist, amongst other physicians.  Basically, during various times throughout the school year our teacher would take us on a “field trip” to the Dentist.  And every year, as soon as I was placed in the dental chair, I would announce that my Grandmother is a practicing Dentist therefore there was no need for my check up.  A couple times I did get away with it, but most times I ended up being dragged back there by my Mother the very next day.  Let’s just say that by forth grade I had developed a file that read DIFFICULT/DEFIANT.


Not only did we have “fieldtrips” to the Dentist, but we also got visited by “nurses” in the beginning of the school year to give out vaccines right there at our desks!  Dead, honest truth.  They had those Sci-Fi looking guns that shot out a dose of vaccine, which sounded like an air gun going off.  (See pic)  It was the scariest thing in the world, and we all dreaded those days when the “nurses” made their rounds through the school.  We had other so-called fieldtrips also, to clinics and medical offices to name a few.  I wasn’t kidding when I wrote awhile back that when my husband got to go on potato chip factories on his fieldtrips, I went on Concentration Camp fieldtrips.  But that wasn’t until we were much older, more mature and able to comprehend the atrocities of the Holocaust, around the age of twelve or so.  More on that later.


Could all of that contribute to my anxiety and debilitating fear of dentists?

Jury Duty

As much as I love to participate in any and all civic duties, being chosen for Jury Duty just wasn’t going to happen.  Believe it or not, this was the first time I had ever received a notification requiring me to fulfill my civil duty.  As I opened the letter, immediately I started to search for that little box to check that says “No Thanks”.  Realizing they forgot to include that box on the form, I decided to give it the good old human-to-human conversation via the telephone.  I was convinced that once Central Justice Center heard about my dilemma, they would undoubtedly dismiss me from having to serve on a jury.  After all, it would be a hell of a long day for two kids to sit through, what with all the proceedings, hearings and depositions.  I assumed that the Courthouse was equipped with a side-room for children to hang out in while the Mothers participated in Jury Duty, however having one child that routinely lectures others about proper hand-washing techniques after using the restroom, and the other routinely pounding various children’s heads into walls, I thought it might not be wise to put them in there.

As I sat on hold for what seemed like an eternity, I saw that there was a tiny box you could check off that read “Excuse with a Reason”.  I quickly hung up, checked off the box, made a small note on the bottom of the form saying: “I have two underage children that I have to watch every day”, and put it in the mail.  Feeling good having dodged that bullet, I quickly forgot all about it.  Fast forward a couple weeks later, Central Justice Center had the audacity to send me another letter, this one asking whose children it is I am watching and why I can’t participate in Jury Duty…  It took me a few minutes to figure out how to respond.

This is what I wrote back, with some of the information left out only for this post:

Dear Central Justice Center:

This letter is to inform you that I gave birth to a son named Tyler eleven years ago, this is his birth date, social security number, height and weight at birth, born at this hospital, weighing in today at 85 lbs.  Also, almost six years ago, I gave birth to a second son named Nikolas, this is his birth date, social security number, height and weight at birth, born at this hospital, weighing in today at 45 lbs.  Attached, please find copies of their birth certificates along with an official Doctor’s note acknowledging the fact that they have ruined my body forever.  If you’d like to see my c-section scars along with photos of me on the operating tables, feel free to contact me.

Thank you for your time.  Please, stop wasting paper.  Go Green!


Julia Bendis

Now at this point you would think all the information provided would be more than sufficient, especially the graphic and un-touched photos of my children’s Bris a.k.a circumcision.  Apparently not, since a week later I had received yet another letter asking for specific hours during which I actually do some work.  Obviously, its not enough for a woman to JUST be a full-time stay at home Mom, she has to have an actual job in order to be excused from her civil duty.  At that point I knew I had to elevate this to the next level.  Below is my final letter to the Court House.  Stay tuned for their response!

Dear Central Justice Center, Again:

Upon receiving your second letter questioning my ability as a working Mother, below please find my full daily schedule starting at 6:30 a.m.  Bear in mind that there are days when the schedule varies slightly, in which case you can insert one to two hours of chauffeuring my kids to guitar, tennis, gymnastics and as of last month Hebrew lessons.  I know I wasn’t too thrilled about the last one either, but having grown up in Communist Soviet Union, I vowed to give my kids the kind of religious upbringing I never got.

6:30 am – Jump out of bed to the sound on Mexican radio, simply because I am too lazy to change the station and having grown pretty fond of the music.

6:45 am – Shower, get dressed and ready.

7:00 am – Run half-dressed into my kids’ rooms to make sure they are getting dressed in the hopes that today is the day they have already brushed their teeth and washed their faces on their own; all the while they lecture me how inappropriate it is for me to be pulling up my pants while standing in their room.

7:10 am – Start breakfast, while giving out orders to my half-dressed children.

7:45 am – Finish breakfast, last minute lunches, get the kids ready for school.

8:00 – Load up the car for the drive to school.

8:30 am – Come back from drop-offs, to a house completely disheveled, and spend the next hour making beds, picking up toys and laundry.  Oh and on occasion, I am lucky enough to find a half eaten pear in the toilet which takes another half hour off my schedule.

9:30 to 10 am – As I finally sit down to start writing, I will typically notice yet another uneaten piece of food stuffed into the couch cushion, or a half-dead lizard out of the corner of my eye that has been living under the couch for the last week.  The process of trying to capture a slimy, squirmy rodent while screaming and jumping on kitchen counters usually takes another half hour.

10 to noon – I write non-stop.

12 noon – The phone rings.  It’s my husband reminding me to eat lunch.  I eat lunch.

12:30 pm – I go back to writing.

2:30 pm – Freedom is over, driving to school to pick up my kids.

3:30 pm – Make snacks for kids, start homework, ask the kids to take the dog for a walk, for the third time.

4:00 pm – Take the dog for a walk.

4:30 pm – Finish up homework, answer calls and e-mails. 

5:00 pm – Start making dinner while bribing my kids to stop playing the Wii and go play outside.

5:30 pm – My kids call me bluff on the money I keep promising, I start passing out dollar bills.

6:00 pm- Sit down for dinner.

As you can see from my daily schedule Jury Duty doesn’t quite fit in, however I would be more than happy to bring my children along with me.  Unfortunately, after June 16th my kids  will be on summer break meaning I have no choice but to bring them with me.  This is where it gets a bit tricky since I can not guarantee that they will leave the Court House the same way they found it…  My six-year-old has a terrible habit of destroying public property, he simply sees it as one of his rights as a minor.  I have tried to reason with him, but you know how difficult minors can be.  He just tells me to take it out of his piggy bank.

Well, I don’t want to take much more of your time,  I know how valuable government workers’ time is, especially when you’ve only taken an hour for lunch instead of your usual two.  I assume this will be more than sufficient information, so we can close my file.

Thank you for your time.


Julia Bendis

Chicken nuggets vs. my kids school lunches, oye vay…

Today my 11-year-old son, Tyler shared a very interesting conversation that he had with his classmates.  It started during lunch time when he pulled out a peanut butter with bananas, and honey sandwich on whole grain bread.  After Tyler was done with it, he pulled out carrots, apples, and a low-fat yogurt.  Do you see where I am going with this yet?

As he finished devouring my creation, he looked up and saw his friends watching him.  One of his friends wanted to know why I am always packing him such healthy lunches, and I quote: “There are never any cookies or chips or anything in your lunch!”  Tyler’s reaction was simple: “Because she loves me, and I will always be healthy.”  I was beyond thrilled to hear his response, and it validated every ounce of guilt I have had by not allowing junk food in the house.  Yes, I admit I actually have felt guilty for not buying my kids chips, sodas and other junk food items.  But today I got over it…

Its not to say that when we go out for dinner, my boys don’t get to have a soda or chicken nuggets.  Of course they do, but at home we limit the amount of processed and sugary foods.  The way I look at it is this, my brother and I grew up with nothing but meat and potatoes, and an occasional apple that we picked from a tree on our way to Grandma’s house, only to find a worm in it when bitten, spit out the worm and keep eating.  We didn’t have chocolate chip cookies or Frito-Lay chips after school, we had stale bread with some jam on it, hand-made by my grandparents the summer before.  Sure there was some mold on the bread, but you pick it out, throw it away and eat the rest of your delicious treat.

Furthermore, not only did we not know about junk food, we also didn’t put ice in every drink.  One of the great memories I have is walking to a nearby store with my brother to buy Coca-Cola, one of those old-fashioned glass bottles that you just don’t see anymore.  There was only one store that carried them, and once in a while my parents would leave some change to treat ourselves to a bottle.  I clearly remember a clerk handing us each a warm bottle of Coca-Cola, and we gulped them down on the spot.  It was such a rare treat for us, which is what made it so extraordinary.  Sure it would have tasted a little better if it was colder or had ice in it, but we didn’t know any better.

My point here is that if you don’t buy junk food, your kid won’t be overweight.  The whole country is fighting with childhood obesity, parents not knowing what to do with their fat-ass children, but yet they keep buying all the greasy foods their kids want, sending them to school with sodas and chips in their lunches, and then wondering why the hell their kid is fat.  How about buying less junk food, going outside with your child and playing ball?  How about you stop blaming the schools for their fatty school lunches, and get off your lazy ass to make a healthy one?

In the meantime, my kids seem like aliens with their humus and whole wheat crackers lunches.  But you know what?  I am alright with that because they are alright with that.