Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of a hilarious guest post from reader Amanda Hahn. Amanda is a recent graduate from Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. She runs the blog, “I want to work for The Onion.”
RECALL, RE-BOND, & RE-CONQUER
After emerging from your bedroom, your job is still gone, but your children are still there. It is time to adjust to living with them once again by recalling, re-bonding, and re-conquering.
To reconnect with your children during this stressful time in your life, start by refreshing your memory. You have probably spent much time away from your family during your years of employment, so get to know your children again at their deepest levels and remembering the fine details about them. Make sure you answer the important questions like:
Are these actually your children in your house?
Many times, children participate in events known as “get-togethers” or “play-dates.” This is when your own children invite other people into your home to socialize with others their own age. Because of this phenomenon, some of the children in your house might not be yours. They may be friends of your children or even neighbors. Find out which ones are yours from a spouse or by referencing family photo albums.
Also, do some heavy-duty research and find out if you have any children that are not in your house. Have you had any previous marriages, relationships, or even one-night-stands? If so, it’s possible that you are a parent to a child that lives with his or her other parent. These children are just as important as the ones inside of your home, so make sure you study their faces and ages well too.
Do they have names?
Your children will become offended if you do not remember their names. For this reason, and for other practical reasons, learning their names is an extremely important step when remembering your children. Recognizing their faces is not enough. In person, you can get away with not knowing their names by referring to them as “sweetie” or “rascal.” However many times, as a parent, you will need to call your child by phone. To do so, you must locate his or her name in your phone contacts list, something you cannot do if the name is unknown. One helpful trick is to delete all of your old work contacts (you won’t need those anymore!) This will not only narrow down which contacts belong to your children but it also frees phone memory storage for your new friends in the PTA and other organizations you’re likely to join out of desperation to get involved doing something, anything other than seeing how often CNN repeats the same stories over a two hour period.
In addition to learning names, ages, and birthdays of your children, you should learn their gender as well. Many forms, such as those from school or a doctor’s office, will require you to indicate your child’s gender. For reasons presently unknown, children tend to become very upset if you do not know their gender and have to ask them which option to select on the form. Sometimes determining gender involves more than simply looking at the child, even after puberty. For example, depending on the decade, boys may have very long hair and girls may have very short hair. Be careful when making any assumptions. Remember: when in doubt, ask your spouse. This can apply to anything you want to know about your children.
Do any of them bite? If so, how hard?
This straightforward question is more complicated than it initially appears to be. It may seem like a clear choice to avoid the children that bite and bite hard. However, you must remain in charge, and never let your children intimidate you. Remember, you can no longer hide from your children by going to work. You’re stuck with these miniature humans for an extending period of time, so it’s important to stay in control. If they are biters, follow these steps to train your puppy child to not bite:
1) When your puppy child bites, alert him or her that you have been hurt by letting out a large yelp.
2) If the behavior continues, leave the room. Your puppy child will learn that this biting will lead to the “fun time” being over. This also lets the puppy child know that biting itself is not a game.
3) You can also try giving your puppy child a chew toy. Try one filled with peanut butter. This is fun for your puppy child and also allows for a release of the urge to bite.
If these steps fail, simply bite back. If nothing else, your child will be stunned into obedience. If even this fails, try having your child spayed or neutered. Remember, you no longer have the funds to do so legitimately, so find a back-alley character who will castrate your son or daughter for a very low cost.
Which ones spend the most money?
As quickly as possible, determine which child requests, demands, or steals the most money then avoid him or her at all costs. As an unemployed individual, you can no longer afford to spend money on the frivolous requests of children. For example, your daughter (or son or intersexed child) may want something silly like fake, plastic nails. These are useless for everything besides falling off onto the carpet of your home and getting stuck in the vacuum cleaner later. Remember, you are unemployed: no new money = no new vacuum cleaner.
Because saying no can be tricky, the simplest way to prevent spending money on your kids is to avoid the spenders. When they approach you, it is appropriate to hide, run, or pretend to not speak any language they understand.
That’s all there is to recollecting. Congrats! You have successfully remembered your children! The next step is to re-bond with them.
Depending on how demanding your former job was, it is possible that many years have gone by since you have done things with your children like shopping, playing catch, or grounding. Start doing these things again, even if they insist that you do not. For example, if one of your children is between the ages of 12 and 15, he or she will likely spend enormous amounts of time at the mall. Not only is this dangerous to your dwindling bank account, it is dangerous for the re-bonding experience. Remember, time spent apart is time not spent on the heart. Go with your child and his or her friends to the mall. By doing so, you can prevent him or her from spending money (this is the most important reason). You can also hear the latest gossip spreading through your child’s circle of friends. This can use useful in future conversations. Here is an example of a conversation you may encounter at the dinner table:
This sure is a lovely dinner. I apologize that we are once again eating expired Oreos, but I sadly cannot afford anything else.
But Parent, I feel sick and malnourished.*
Did you hear about Tammy’s bad grade on her Social Studies test? Wow! Where are her priorities, right?
See what happened there? A potential conflict regarding your child’s health was diverted with the introduction of gossip. (And scholarly achievement was encouraged, all in one breath!) Feel free to use this gossip tactic frequently, it simply cannot be overdone. If you need more material, listen in on your children’s phone conversations. In addition to expanding your gossip knowledge-base, your children will appreciate that you care enough about their day-to-day life to eavesdrop.
*Note: This will likely be a common complaint from your child. Do not worry! Many children remain starved and malnourished every day all over the world—your child is not alone!
For younger children, gossip is somewhat less common, so this technique may not work. Instead, introduce new, mutually beneficial games!
For you convenience, some game suggestions appear below, along with instructions on how to play.
This game can be great fun for kids! Introduce this game as a follow-the-leader type of game. Sit side-by-side with your child, each of you with a computer. Have your child follow along as you browse the web. Some suggested sites that will be great for you and your child to enjoy are http://www.candystand.com, http://www.discovery.com, http://www.monster.com, and http://www.prozac.com. Once your child can follow along, have them type in these sites independently. Do the same with searches within these sites. Give tokens or stickers when your child can correctly search things like “Local job openings.” When they reach 5 tokens, reward them with one free pass to avoid a lecture the next time they leave the lights on, wasting energy. After 10 tokens, allow them to take more than two showers during a week-long period. Finally, winning 30 tokens earns them a multivitamin.
If you have more than one child, this can be turned into a great, competitive battle. For example, have them race each other by seeing who can find the most job listings. Whoever sets up an interview for you first wins. Whoever learns to type an effective post-interview thank you letter wins even more.
This is an exhilarating game of survival and will power! The game is simple: your children will attempt to eat as little as possible for as long as possible. Children love games that are callbacks to history. Games like Cowboys and Indians, Oregon Trial, and Baseball allow children to imagine living in the times of their ancestors—a time when there were no supermarkets and food was scarce and hard to come by. Bring games like this home with Ration Passion! Remind them the game is to eat very little in order make the food in the house last as long as possible. Whoever forces the family to begin using food stamps loses.
Shut that Trap
This game will likely be played frequently. Being freshly unemployed can be a tough adjustment for both you and your children. It takes a while to get used to being around your children for extended periods of time. This game is a great way to make each day pass much more quickly as each of you gets used to your new lifestyle. In this game, whenever your child complains, cries, talks, or makes other unpleasant noises, yell at the top of your lungs, “Hey, you there! Shut that trap!” If you child does not, he or she loses and is forced to sleep outside. If you child falls silent, you’re both winners!
These tools and more will help you re-bond with your children as you get used to being under the same roof together for more than a few hours a day. You’re now ready to re-conquer the house.
Now that you have recollected who your children are and re-bonded with them, the honeymoon period is over. It can be all fun and games for a while, but as your frustration and anger toward your job situation build up to unhealthy levels, you will need to find a release of these emotions. No one is better to be at the end of this release than those closest to you, i.e. your children. Also, by re-conquering your household, you will regain feelings of power, control, success, and productivity. These are feelings you likely lost upon becoming unemployed.
Start the re-conquering process by reminding them who is boss. This can be done at any point in the day or night. Whenever the mood strikes you, simply find your child and shout “I’m the boss around here!” and walk away. Your children will cease being startled by this quickly, so you will need to begin demonstrating your boss-hood by becoming irrational and refusing all of their requests, no matter how small. If they want to go to a friend’s house, say NO. If they want extra toppings on their ice cream, say NO. If they express a desire to talk to their other parent, say NO and then remind them that YOU are the boss. Make your face turn red. Wave your arms around for no apparent reason. All these things will make you feel like you are in charge of something again. Hey, if you can’t be the boss at work, why not be the boss in your home?
Check back tomorrow for Part 3!