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Roxane Salonen, Published December 08 2009

Parenting Perspectives: Twelve days of Christmas and chaos

Dear Santa Claus,

Well, Big Guy, it’s time again for the annual Christmas newsletter and wish list. In an attempt to be more efficient, I’m combining them this year.

I’m also coming clean. Forget about silver bells and chestnuts by an open fire. The other day, just as I was putting in another load of laundry, I noticed that the partridge had flown the coop. You turn your back for just a moment and ... .

I knew it was going to be a tough year last spring when the pear tree itself floated away in the flood. Granted, pear trees don’t tend to be too fruitful in these parts, but one of the kids went riding downstream with it.

Thankfully, we survived and lived to tell, but it’s been tough getting back on track. For starters, the two turtle doves, aka our daughters, have been at each other’s throats again. I keep telling them that someday they will be best friends. I guess time will tell.

I’m also a little confused. The other day I could have sworn I heard the three French hens (our sons) speaking Pig Latin. AnCay OuYay ASay RazinessCay?

Now here’s something a little embarrassing. Forget about calling birds. How about burping birds? Some days, it’s as if our kids are communicating solely through the language of toots. (Help!)

As for golden rings, do you have any? I’d like to ring a few necks around here, and it’s not even Christmas break yet!

I keep wishing the geese-a-laying and maids-a-milking would increase their productivity. It’s getting harder to keep up, not only due to increased consumption but the astronomical grocery bill.

A bright spot came recently, however. Our middle child was chosen to be one of the “ladies dancing” in our school’s Advent program. Every once in a while a glimmer of hope comes amidst the chaos.

I don’t let those sweet moments pass by without a healthy heaping of gratitude. In fact, they make me want to take a big lords-a-leaping glide through the living room. Sometimes, when no one else is looking, I do just that.

Come to think of it, being in such a musical family, we are heartened pretty much daily by pipes-a-piping, even though I often have to tell the kids to “pipe down.” I especially love catching my four-year-old humming a tune. Times like that I’m convinced something beautiful is simmering. It makes it all worth it.

Thankfully, we no longer have children young enough to use the saucepans and spoons to become drummers drumming. Now they just use each other’s heads instead. (Sigh.)

It’s a little insane, but truth be told, Santa, I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I mean that. And while I haven’t been a perfect mother this year, hopefully I’ve done well enough for you to throw some packets of Calgon bath soap into my stocking. Beyond that, I have just one other request (see below).

Merry Christmas!


P.S. Sorry, but don’t count on cookies this year. Since the Cookie Monster has taken to promoting veggies, we’re leaving carrots instead. Besides, the kids and I got weak and ate the cookie batter. (Does that mean we’ll get salmonella?)

The 12 Days of Christmas Salonen-style

On the 12th day of Christmas,

My family gave to me ...

12 Mismatched Socks

11 Paper Airplanes

10 Sticky Fingers

9 New Stains

8 Tall Tales

7 Loads of Laundry

6 Tummies rumbling

5 Golden Kids (pinch me!)

4 Burnt Pizzas

3 Sick Sons

2 Dueling Daughters

And An Evening Out Completely Guilt Free!

Salonen works as a freelance writer and children’s author in Fargo, where she and her husband, Troy, are the parents of five children. She also has a blog at www.areavoices.com/peacegarden