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As the world burns: Parents do what we have to do to make it ok

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

Park and I were waiting in the after school car pick-up line yesterday for Bodacious, when she suddenly came jogging out to the car. She was smiling and gesturing with something cradled in her hot little hands while trying to not let her backpack and water bottle slide off her shoulder.

She flung the car door open then collapsed onto the backseat.

“I had the BEST day today!”

Her brother and I clutched at our chests like we were seeing the Holy Ghost descend from the heavens. Could Hell have actually frozen? Because y’all. She never has a good day at school. Like never, ever, ever. Everrrr. Now, don’t get me wrong. She’s a happy kid and likes her teachers, but school’s just not her jam. She only goes because her two best friends are there. Truly. If homeschooling were an option, she would take it in a hot minute. But God did not give her a homeschooling mom, so here we are.

I was actually speechless. Because we are three weeks into fifth grade with her and all she does is complain. She hates the lunches but doesn’t want to pack one. She despises group projects, but don't we all? She dislikes math and spelling is b-o-r-i-n-g. And P.E.? The worst! What can I say, she takes after her mother. She literally gets in the car and complains the entire ride home. She complains so much, she doesn’t even know she’s complaining. Her brother and I listen for 13 minutes. But when we pull into the drive, all complaining must stop for the rest of the day.

So to hear her happy and gushing about the day was just amazing. We wanted to know what made the day so much better. Because we will do that thing every day if it helps her have a good day! Just please don’t let it involve hot glue guns or glitter … .

“We did no school work today. None. All we did was craft! (Starting to shrink down in my seat. This is starting to sound a lot like glitter, y’all.) We made friendship pins to trade on Friday, and all of mine look like worms! And don’t worry, Mom. I wasn’t the only kid that didn’t bring supplies from home!”

Oh, great. Sigh. “Sorry, kid. What else did you do?”

“Next we cut up magazines to make Motivation Boards for our lockers!”

It’s at this point when I glance back into the back seat to see something truly terrifying. My precious, beautiful girl child looks like she is wearing one of those creepy Disney princess Halloween masks from the 1980’s.

“This is the face I used for my motivation board!”

She had cut the eyes and lips out of a brunette model advertising luxury makeup or moisturizer or something similar. She was now wearing the page like a mask, secured by her Buddy Holly style glasses.

“I put her beautiful eyes and lips on my board! And I added other body parts, like a leg and an arm pit!”

Ummmm … what exactly is your motivation, sweet child o’ mine? To be the world’s youngest serial killer? I mentally slapped myself for letting her watch Murder She Wrote with me this summer.

“No, Mom! It’s just to motivate me. And this, this is Granny Raptor!”

She finally showed us what she had carried to the car. It was a grey plastic velociraptor toy that she had lovingly decorated with hair, googly eyes and sequin earrings.

“No one wanted to play with it or use it for their craft project. Her body was split down the middle and she looked so sad and alone. I filled her up and sealed her with hot glue, then decided to give her beautiful hair!”

She asked if she could use some of her allowance to buy more dinosaurs.

“If you only let me have two hours of screen time, decorating dinosaurs could be my new thing!”

Ummm, that definitely sounds like glitter, right?

After dinner, she headed into the office to hunt for dinosaur toys online. After about 20 minutes, she meandered on out and dejectedly said she couldn't find anything.

“They’re all whole. Nothing looks sad or like it needs me.”

And as I looked at her, her lovely 10-going-on-23 self, I knew exactly how she felt. Because I swear to goodness, I am *this* close to getting another puppy. Because the world feels on fire, again. And having something small and cuddly and dependent always makes me feel … better, calmer. Secure. And I need to feel that way. I have children that depend on me to hold it all together for them. My sweet not-so-babies started seventh and fifth grades this year. It is a time fraught with, well, everything. Body hair and blemishes and awkwardness. Changing friendships and social dynamics. Lots of growth and change and boundary testing. They are … becoming. Growing up is hard on children. I guess it’s hard on me, too.

But wait, you ask -- isn’t your last puppy still a puppy? Well, yes. Technically. But she is growing at warp speed, and I noticed this week that her canned ham-sized head no longer fits beneath the couch.

Now, I certainly don’t need another puppy to chase around. And any of you that follow Leia’s adventures on social media knows this to be true. She is a four-legged trash compactor. If it fits in her slobbering maw, she will attempt to eat it.

I also can’t afford another puppy (see above) and have a $3,000 vet bill to prove it. She ate something last month that got stuck. We were extremely fortunate to avoid surgery, but we spent days at the vet’s office. And every time I look at her sweet brown eyes, I have to admit, I sometimes see a new couch or down payment for a fabulous vacation.

But Bodacious seems to have some unspoken need right now, too. Maybe the worlds of 10-year-olds also catch fire. Would it be unsettling if I bought some toy dinosaurs, then secretly broke them at home? I think I am going to need a jeweler's hammer or some crab mallets. Y’all. Is her Motivation Board really any wonder? She’s got a strange mom.

Now, someone pass me the glitter and a hot glue gun.

Melanie Nicholas is a full-time momma and writer. She and The Hubs have two children, Parksalot, 13, and Bodacious, 10. You can follow her amazing adventures fighting grime and insecurity on Facebook, Instagram and at

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