Sounds like you'd save a lot of time if you just kept the jar in the car...
My nine-year-old son heard about the concept of the "cuss jar" and gleefully danced out one morning with one he'd rigged up himself. It has a sign on it and everything. He insists that we keep it out in the living room, so everyone can see just how evil I've been.
We keep having fights about what, exactly, qualifies as a finable offense. For instance, I had to take it to a higher court (my husband, who is reluctant to participate in this kind of debate) when my son insisted I had to shell out a quarter for referring to a bad driver as an ass. I did it in such a G-rated way, too! All I said as the guy careened by me after some scary tail-gating was (in a perfectly conversational tone, other than the last two words, which I belted out as if the guy could hear me), "Hey, I wonder if that guy's ever heard of Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. You know, the one where one of the characters gets turned into an ass!” My son was completely offended. I thought it was hilarious. My husband refused to pass judgment, and I refused to pay.
But the worst cuss jar event was one morning a few weeks ago. We had run downstairs and out the front gate to the car with all our stuff for my son's French class. We were already running late. I had a headache. And thanks to the fact that my car is falling apart and I can't spend a penny on it just now, I have to have my sunglasses whenever I go driving because I don't have the driver's side sun visor any more. It just fell off one day, and I couldn't get it screwed back in. And I didn't have my sunglasses. They were out the garage door, through the gate, through the courtyard, up the stairs, and behind the double-locked front door. And we were going to be two minutes later than we already were. Damn it.
I didn't just think it, either. I said it.
"We have to go back up," I said to my son. "I have to get my sunglasses and put a quarter in the cuss jar."
Here's what freaked me out. My son, who wanted me to deposit a quarter for saying that someone was an idiot, said, "Don't worry, Mom. Damn isn't so bad."
So then I had to explain (like I wasn't having a bad enough morning) that as a matter of fact, "damn" is one of the baddies and I'd better not hear him saying it at the park unless he wanted CPS to come and find him a new mommy.
Okay, I've heard about GIRLS getting cycle-locked, but this is ridiculous!
My son was being snippy -- nothing really awful, but it was a day that I had already claimed as my personal property when it came to 'tude. After he gave a particularly saucy reply to a perfectly civil question, I snapped and said, "Okay, are you about to get your period, too?"
My husband gave me his patented "I don't live here, I don't even know these people" look and asked me if RBM was hurting for material today. "Not anymore," I said.
At least she remembered he HAS a birthday!
I went in to get my eyebrows waxed -- something I've never done before. Maybe lying on that table did something to my brain. At any rate, I was chatting with the friend who brought me, and I mentioned that my son was turning ten years old in a few days. My friend started going on about how she remembered turning ten, it's such a big deal -- you're two digits, you feel so grownup.
And then I thought, "Wait a minute. He's not turning ten. He's only going to be nine."
I didn't even want to correct her, because there was just no graceful way to do it. But eventually I had to admit that I'd actually gotten my son's age wrong. The room went very quiet, and everybody stared at me. Lovely.
Maybe you should check, just in case...
From a RBM friend, printed with permission:
We used a diaper service with my first two kids. (The third one was lucky we even bothered to change his diaper now and then.) You sign up for the service when you're pregnant, and then you call to let them know that you had the baby and need them to start coming.
When you call that second time, they always ask you if you had a boy or a girl, because they give you a little gift. To this day, I don't know why when the woman asked, "So, what did you have -- a boy or a girl?" I answered, "A girl." Then I had to correct myself. "No, no -- sorry, it's actually a boy."
She paused, and then said in this really suspicious voice, "Are you sure?"
I promised that I was, but she was really ungracious for the rest of the call. I guess she thought I was trying to pull something over on her, when really I was just new-mommy stupid.
I'm researching swear words in other languages so my child can't complain about how much I cuss. Of course, with my luck, that'll be what prompts him to take an interest in linguistics. He'll be famous in his field, and someone will ask him what triggered his love of his work and he'll tell them it was hearing mommy say #&%! in Dutch.
Another park story from a very good mommy
I've never been huge on letter writing. I remember when I was a teenager and spent six months in Europe. Pretty much the only letter my family got from me was when a friend of mine was going back to the states. I scribbled down a letter, addressed it, and told her to mail it when she got back home. So my parents got a letter from me in Europe, postmarked in New Orleans.
Anyway -- I haven't written a letter for years. I have my kids do it now. It has not passed unnoticed by my sister, I must say.
(Editor's note: I told her that I thought, all things considered, her sister should be thrilled to be getting an actual handwritten letter from anyone, especially a cute little kid. She was happy to agree. Don't know if that clears her of all those pesky child-labor laws that may or may not apply to the case.)
Real Bad Mommy confessions from the park (reprinted with permission)
One very good mommy brought a birthday cake to a park gathering. "I hope you brought enough for the grownups," I said, and she assured me she had.
I confessed that I've simply never grown out of the love of frosting, and will elbow my way in for an edge piece (or better yet, a corner). "Oh, my kids didn't taste frosting for the first few years of their lives," one of my favorite moms said.
I thought she meant that she'd always made them healthy birthday treats, but she reassured me by adding, "Because I always got there first."
Even when we're good, we're bad!
I was a pretty good mommy when I was pregnant, but I would always have these dreams that I'd just done something terrible to the baby. Like I'd just had a cup of coffee (I gave up all caffeine) or just smoked a cigarette (I've never smoked in my life) or something. The dream would always start right at the point where whatever it was had just happened, so there was nothing I could do about it, and my baby was going to be scarred for life because I was such a bad mommy. I knew they were just dreams, but after having one, I always felt guilty.
New depths of regifting
My son has a bookshelf packed with books. He doesn't browse his shelves the way I always did (and still do) and he doesn't have as merciless a grip on what he owns, bookwise, as his book-mommy does. I've been known to sneak a book off his shelf while he's asleep and wrap it up as a "new" gift for him. What's sad is that his dad is utterly unconscious that any ruse has occurred, and congratulates me on making a fine choice of gifts. Admittedly, we do a lot of little-gift giving on holidays most other people don't even notice. I’ve only done this on minor occasions, not on Christmas or a birthday. But I'm sure that's next.
Darwin would be so proud...
One day when my son was about a year old, we were at the library, waiting in line to have our books checked out. It was a long line, and my son liked being near me; but he'd passed the twenty-pound mark when he was five months old, and I couldn't hold him for extended periods. So I sat him down on the surface of the checkout counter. He was delighted by the view.
A lovely old gentleman saw us and marveled at my son's being "able to get up there." Rather than correct him, I said rather saucily that my son was half monkey on his father's side. "My goodness," the gentleman said mildly, and it was only then that I reflected on what exactly that said about whom I'd married. Plus, how nice of me to publicly consign my son to primate-mutant status.
I mentioned this story to him recently, and he said, "Thanks a lot!"