Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sweat Shops & Slurpees

My goal this summer was to not be an enabler.

7-Eleven began its stranglehold on my purse years ago. With gaggles of boys showing up to entice my kids into a seedy life of endless Slurpees and Moon Pies, the daily clamoring for a dollar was relentless. After desperately digging around in my purse for a quarter one afternoon only to come up empty, I knew things needed to change.

If the kids wanted to subsist on flavored ice, then they would have to pay for it themselves. Ironically enough, all three of my boys are currently between the ages of 7 and 11. Jesus was secretly whispering to me to get these people jobs. Who was I to disagree?

After carefully reviewing existing child labor laws, I was bummed to discover sweat shops are apparently frowned upon nowadays. So much for my ideas of little hands scrubbing toilets and crafting ammunition. Damn child advocates totally ruin everything.

Danny suggested forming a lawn care business, citing his impeccable service of our own yard. Glancing despondently out the window towards the unevenly cut grass and countless dandelions, I opted to redirect his efforts. I suggested tutoring chess.

Within moments of posting his services on a local mom’s page, my mailbox was inundated with folks wanting to get on Danny’s schedule. His first gig was a pair of young twins. Twenty minutes before Danny’s first day of work, he made a huge spectacle of departing. Noting his disheveled hair, wrinkled shirt, and peculiar goop stuck to his cheek, I stopped my firstborn in his tracks.

“You are NOT walking out the door like that,” I scolded.


“You look like you just rolled out of bed.”

“I DID just roll out of bed.”

“You are not professional at all,” I chided while spitting on a towel to wipe the crud from his face. Danny groaned as I ordered him back upstairs to change.

“I cannot believe I have to endure all this just for a stinkin’ Slurpee!”

Despite an impressive performance of righteous indignation, the crisp ten-dollar bill and smile that arrived home an hour late belied his complaints. When the doorbell rang and the Slurpee crew appeared to collect their reliable mate, the outcome was unusual. This time, Danny turned them down flat and tucked his ten bucks into his short pockets.

I had actually won one. A critical life lesson about hard work and the value of a dollar was secured. Seldom had I known such sweet victory.

So to celebrate? I went out and bought myself a Slurpee.

Extra large.

I’d earned it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ladies Night Out & White Sox Baseball

The White Sox are totally hooking me up with some awesome tickets in exchange for this post about this Saturday's Ladies Night.  But seriously, I would have written it for free.  Just don't tell them that.  GO SOX!

My husband once thought it would be fun to take his full-term pregnant wife to a White Sox baseball game.  It was 90 degrees outside.  The game went into extra innings.  Worried White Sox staffers checked on me repeatedly, convinced I was about to deliver right there on the upper deck.

I had a ball.

Subsequent to that day, Joe and I began shuttling our kids to White Sox baseball while still in their newborn carriers.  We were those parents you see mixing formula bottles and changing diapers between innings.  Indoctrination, we knew, needed to start young.  While writing this, my son Jack just ran in to tell me the first two Sox batters got triples and the third batter got a double, Sox up 2.

I'd say mission accomplished.

Some of my favorite days have been spent at The Cell with my boys.

I think my husband was burping Joey here which is why they aren't in the picture.

Some of my other favorite days have been spent at The Cell without my boys.

One visit involved my sister and a mutual friend.  A few innings (and beers) into the game, you would have found three harried housewives frantically waving around their homemade sign:


Totally made it on the scoreboard.

While the White Sox aren't having the most stellar of seasons, going to a game is an event.  There are always extra perks and add-ons that maximize the fun.  This Saturday?

Ladies Night.

With super-cheap tickets available, you will feel like you have won the Grand Prize Game. Bonuses include:

  • The first 500 buyers will receive a complimentary White Sox wine glass tumbler
Perfect for Mommy Juice

  • Pregame entertainment at Gate 4 from The Hot Sauce Committee, a 90’s boy band cover band

  • The first 20,000 fans to enter the ballpark receive a Scott Podsednik World Series Moment bobblehead, presented by Wintrust Financial
My boys are addicted to bobbleheads.  Think: FREE CHRISTMAS GIFT

Parking lots open at 3:10 p.m., and gates open at 4:10 p.m.

The White Sox organization has never let my family or my friends down in providing a great time, great food, and great fun.

They are also the only baseball team in Chicago who has won a World Series in the last 100 years.

Sorry.  Couldn't help it.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Naked Ambition

The following appears in the June edition of Chicago Parent.

There have been countless times where I wished I had not grown up in the 1970s and 1980s. My biggest complaint? I never won anything. There were no trophies for 8th place. I did not get ribbons for participation. While my older brother’s award shelf was crowded with basketball and track trophies, mine was a lonely little island holding a medal from the 5th grade Bible Bowl and a “Perfect Attendance” certificate printed on Ditto paper.

If I was not such a competitive person, this would have been a non-issue. Yet I craved victory so much that I once ditched my volleyball-deficient best friend in gym class to play for a team with a better shot at Junior High PE supremacy.

Recently, a miracle happened. I actually won something. The Parenting Media Association bestowed a national Gold Award on this column (see write-up in Beverly Review HERE). Fancy PhDs and college professors christened me awesome. I patiently awaited the inevitable glory and paparazzi this would most certainly bring.

Sure enough, the phone rang. It was someone representing Steve Harvey. I was stoked. My kids and I love Family Feud. The producers were probably casting nationally recognized columnists for an upcoming taping.

The conversation went along the lines of:

Producer: So we’re doing lingerie make-overs for moms and we think you’d be great!

Me: You want me to wear a thong on The Feud?

Producer: No, this isn’t for The Feud. This is for the Steve Harvey Show. And everything will be extremely tasteful!

Me: So tasteful garter belts? Got it. Are you aware I’ve had three c-sections and gallbladder surgery? I possess the muscle tone of a sloth.

Producer: NOT A PROBLEM. We will make you look stunning!

My mind whirled. Was this the normal progression to international acclaim and fortune? Perhaps donning some rhinestone slippers and a sheer teddy was the backdoor entrance into a three-book publishing deal with Simon & Schuster? The Steve Harvey guy did say they wanted moms to feel beautiful. I was a mom and I definitely wanted to feel beautiful! It all made sense.

Right as I was about to agree to the show, I remembered a few key points:

  • I have pretty much slept in my husband’s boxers and a tank top for 12 years. Lingerie itches.
  • My kids go to Catholic school. I would never be able to look Sister Jean in the eye again.
  • My husband works in a Chicago firehouse. This sort of thing would get mileage for YEARS.
  • Two words: SCREEN SHOT. Me in a bustier would live forever. They would probably show it at my 50th wedding anniversary.
For once, I completely set aside ambition and the desire to win by any means necessary. After turning down the opportunity, the producer was very gracious and understanding. I mumbled something about saving face with the PTA crowd.

I am not positive as to when exactly it happened, but I have definitely lost my old bravado and willingness to try anything. Missing out on this experience did not feel as much like a loss as I dreaded it would. I guess in many ways, I have already won everything important.

It took 41 years, but my trophy shelf is full.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Sleepover

The following appears in the May edition of Chicago Parent.

Over the years, I have reluctantly allowed my kids to attend overnight parties with friends. While safety issues are handled after careful screening for appropriate firearm lock-up, working smoke alarms, and the absence of transient relatives, there are still concerns.

Namely, I know my children will be returned with zero sleep after a steady overnight diet of Sugar Smacks and Skittles. The next day, kids are prone to meltdowns and a prodigious channeling of Regan from The Exorcist.

One can hardly blame the poor host parents. Their sunken eyes and dropped shoulders during pick-ups reflect a valiant attempt at crowd control and order. Sadly, defeat is inevitable. Hell hath no fury like ten-year-old boys amped up on junk food and Xbox.

Some of my favorite memories from childhood were born during such sleepovers. Those evenings were spent contacting dead celebrities with our Ouija boards and making friendship pins. There was endless talk about boys we liked and teachers we didn’t. Mandatory viewings of Grease occurred with sacred understanding that the movie reflected EXACTLY what high school was going to be like. It was under this nostalgic influence that I finally agreed to host my very first sleepover.

I quickly realized that boys are a tad different from girls in the overnight arena. My charges were not interested in crafting potholders. They did not talk about girls. The one movie they all begged to watch (the hockey film Miracle) captured their attention for exactly seven minutes.

Operating in a household without a finished basement or gaming system, the guys seemed confused. How would they expend their limitless energy for the all-nighter they had thoroughly planned? More importantly, how would they keep edgy Mrs. Walsh from losing her precarious mind?

They opted for shinny hockey.

Which they then played for five straight hours.

With knees red from rug burn, egos hurt from losses, and heads matted down from excessive sweat, I directed my mini-Patrick Kanes to where they would be sleeping. Having been assured by every overnight parent out there that not a single kid would drop off before 2 am, I hunkered down for a long night. Ten minutes later, one boy decided to move over to the guest bedroom, citing his need for some serious rest.

Fifteen minutes later, all six boys were OUT. It was 11:30 pm.

Based on the warnings I received, I had consumed enough caffeine to hold vigil until dawn. But now? I was wide awake in a house full of sleeping lads. I tossed and turned for hours, trying to make sense of what exactly went wrong.

At 7 am, that smart little guy who claimed the guest room poked and prodded his buddies until they were all awake and armed with shinny hockey sticks. It was time for the “Gold Medal Round.”

Expecting the unexpected has been a central theme of motherhood. I assume things will always go wrong and nothing will ever go as predicted. As one little boy leapt out of my minivan during drop-offs, he stopped abruptly to declare:

“This was the best day of my ENTIRE life, Mrs. Walsh!”

Just like that, my sleepover phobia ended and I promised the kid to do it all again soon.

And by “soon,” I mean sometime before college. I still am only human.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mother's Day Reflection

Somehow, I wound up nothing like my mom.

She tells me that is okay.

Full story in today's Chicago Parent, click HERE.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Top 10 Life Lessons of Chess

The following appears in the April edition of Chicago Parent magazine.

I spend inordinate amounts of time trying to convince my kids to embrace traits that are completely foreign to me. Patience would top that list. I cannot tell you how often I have yelled in a public place: “CALM DOWN AND STOP ACTING LIKE LUNATICS THIS INSTANT!” For effect, I might then throw something to the ground. One time, it was my phone - which promptly shattered into a million pieces.

The irony is not lost on me.

When I first taught my sons to play the game of chess, there were ulterior motives. Outwardly, I shared extensive data regarding chess and child brain development with anyone who asked. Yet inwardly, I knew the truth. I was relying on a board game to impart critical life lessons. My children have been students of chess most of their lives and are fair players. As their first teacher, I worked hard to instruct them on the basics, but then quickly turned them over to more experienced players and tutors. If the kids ever knew my deep, dark secret, they would be shocked.


I suck at it. Without the patience, strategic mind, and attention span needed to win, I become distracted with my own maneuvers and fail to notice my opponents’ tactics. With my boys, there was a strong desire to impart a level of discipline I always lacked. Chess was the answer.

Some lessons of the game are obvious. Many are subtle and nuanced. There are a thousand hidden lectures on morality, temptation, and even mercy within the board’s rank and file. Preaching to kids the keys to being a good person is an exercise in futility, but having them experience it through a game can plant lifelong seeds.

For purposes of this column, I have narrowed down just a few of the pearls of wisdom gleaned from this storied game of kings:
The  Top Ten Lessons of Chess

1. The world is comprised of people who move in all different directions. Pay attention.

2. Sometimes, there is no going back no matter how badly you want to.

3. Protect those who may appear slow and vulnerable. There are kings amongst us.

4. A strong woman can go wherever the hell she wishes.

5. The most remarkable transformations are not instantaneous, but instead occur over long intervals, one square at a time.

6. Stay out of dark corners. Bad things can happen.

7. A knight in shining armor, by nature, will skip right over you.

8. Religion can be slanted.

9. During your final endgame, those most easily taken for granted often become the only ones who stand with you.

10. One bad move does not a person make. How you recover from your missteps is your lasting legacy.

There you have it. Everything you need to know about life right there on a checkered board. With minds young and pliable, I feel strongly all kids could benefit. Sadly for me, it is far too late. I pretty much tapped out at Candy Land, becoming frustrated over never landing the shortcut at Gum Drop Mountain.

Like I said. Zero patience.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Beauty of Motherhood

The following column appears in the March edition of Chicago Parent.

It was the moment I had been dreading since my son Jack joined his squirt hockey team last fall. My fears had nothing to do with injury. I was not concerned about locating some remote suburban ice rink. This time, my angst arose from an entirely new development.

I was going to have to attend a weekend tournament at a Wisconsin Dells water resort IN MY BATHING SUIT.

My husband, Joe, did not see the problem. He began Yelping restaurants in the area immediately. My kids discussed rides and slides. While the family rejoiced and planned, my post-Christmas body and I flopped down in sad despair.

Damn you, Snickerdoodles.
Damn you, pasty white skin.

Damn you, ice hockey.

After checking into our room, my kids and husband sprinted to the water area before unpacking a single towel. My swim dress and I opted instead for a slow saunter. This was mostly done to keep inner thigh “swooshing” to a minimum. Yet during the three-mile hike from one end of the hotel to the other, I noticed something unusual:

I was in the LAND of swim dresses.  I had finally found my people.

Indoor water parks attract minivan moms at a far greater rate than they attract twenty-somes with taut stomachs. Looking around, I realized my wobbly bits were in great company amongst women floating in lazy rivers and having a fantastic time with their children.

Nobody cared that my body was not perfect. Parents were too busy chasing down their own kids and spending exorbitant amounts of money on waterpark hot dogs to give me a second glance.

Inspired, I relaxed in a deck chair, ordered a fifty dollar beer, and thanked my lucky stars for having invested in several years’ worth of swim lessons for the boys. It was going to be a magnificent weekend after all.

Right around the third drink and fourth People magazine, my youngest son approached and stared incredulously at my fantastically gaudy glitter toe nail polish and raved:

“You look BEAUTIFUL, mommy!”

I never grow tired of how excited my kids get when I put on anything other than sweats. On the rare occasion I get dolled up for an evening with my husband, I feel like a movie star walking the red carpet.

“Twirl around, mommy!”

“You look so pretty!”

“Can we come??”

There is a lot to be said about being the mother of sons. In many ways, I am their gold standard of beauty and grace. It does not matter that I trip on air, or that there’s often lipstick on my teeth. They do not see my cellulite, wrinkles, or grey hair.

It is part of the magic of motherhood, and it reminds me of a line from Rodgers and Hammerstein:

Do I love you because you’re beautiful…or are you beautiful because I love you?

My heart knows the answer. To my boys, I am a goddess in a swim dress.

And it is the best feeling in the world.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Concussions, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Me

My obsession with sports injury is pathological.

Yet the universe (and patented military technology adapted for athletics) answered my prayers.

Full story HERE in today's Chicago Parent.

Photo credit:

Monday, March 9, 2015

Pop-Up Dyson Store Coming to Skokie!

I don't know about you guys, but after this winter? My minivan feels like hoarders have been living in there.

Hoarders who track in snow salts and gum wrappers.

Luckily, I have my handy dandy cordless Dyson to help out now that winter is finally in the early stages of a thaw. Sadly, I understand not everyone owns a magical Dyson.

That is why I'm writing today.  For two months only, Dyson will open its first-ever U.S. pop-up store at Westfield Old Orchard Mall in Skokie.

From March 2nd through April 30th, shoppers can experience just-launched Dyson technology, get hands-on demonstrations of every Dyson machine, participate in interactive activities for all ages and ENTER FOR AMPLE CHANCES TO WIN A NEW DYSON. 

I'm rather excited about their new sexy V6 Absolute which uses Hepa filtration:

The cordless babies are my favorites.  When one of Danny's friends was over the other day and witnessed me vacuuming, he commented, "My mom would LOVE one of those!"  I sh*t you not.

Events will run daily and include engineering workshops for children, complimentary car clean-outs and much more.

I could totally use that complimentary car clean-out.  If only the bank would stop doling out suckers, I wouldn't have to deal with all these sticks bouncing around and glomming onto seatbelts and center consoles.

See an up-to-date calendar of events HERE.  The Cube is located next to Macy’s at Westfield Old Orchard Mall (4999 Old Orchard Center in Skokie).

If you end up checking it out, good luck & let me know if you buy or win a Dyson!  I need more people I can talk to about vacuums. 

I really, really like them.

Like a lot.

Good luck!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Complexity of Hair

The following column appears in the February edition of Chicago Parent.

My middle son’s hair sticks straight up. Jack often resembles one of those googly-eyed pencils you rub between your palms and the hair goes flying. My boy is a fantastic example of Dennis the Menace meets Andy Warhol.

For school pictures, I try my best to tame the wild beast. I load up on gel, blast the hair dryer, and implement that most time-honored mothering tradition of licking your hand and rubbing it across your kid’s scalp. A brief six to eight weeks later, the final results arrive: a classic photo of Jack looking like a deranged Muppet.

The thing is, I find it all rather funny. I don’t know if I am allowed to say that. In an era where so much emphasis is placed on building up kids’ egos and pretending that everybody is exactly the same, I am undoubtedly causing irreparable harm. After all, I have been pointing out Jack’s outlandish hair for the better part of nine years. People aware of this tell me constantly: “You are giving that poor child a complex.”

Sweet Jesus, NO. Not a complex.

Don’t complexes mean you will drop out of high school? Most serial killers have complexes, right? Complexes are the very reason nobody talks in elevators. WHAT IN THE NAME OF DR. SPOCK AND DR. PHIL HAVE I DONE??

Besides class photos, I rarely deal with Jack’s electric tresses. In the winter, hats exacerbate the situation, so I throw up my hands in merry surrender. I gleefully anticipate him coming home after a long day to reveal the glory of fourth grade hat head. One evening, I debriefed each of the kids on their day and Jack piped up:

"My teacher made me go to the bathroom and comb my hair."

I froze and panic set in. What kind of permanent psychological damage had been done because I failed to keep my kid’s hair under control? Was Jack mortified? Embarrassed? Did I need to investigate local therapists immediately? I asked what his response was.

He said he laughed.

Then he went to the bathroom and combed his hair. I asked if his teacher was angry about him being so askew. He said no. He said she was laughing, too.

I realized then that experts are idiots. There is basically nothing more hilarious than a nine-year-old with crazy ass hair, and the sooner the world recognizes this fact, the happier it will be. Jack, his teacher, and I all understand comic gold when we see it. But everyone else?

I think they might have a complex.

Monday, February 9, 2015

James Dyson Award & a Very Big Ball

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned below for free in the hope that I would review it on my blog. I only recommend products or services I use personally. 


You all know I love my Dyson vacuums.  I tuck them in each night.  I hug them.  They complete my life.

Yet I'm not going to lie.  Every once in a while, one of my guys starts acting out.  They don't get all the Legos.  They miss a couple of Froot Loops.  This usually results in an immediate call to the Dyson help-line.  Our usual conversation:

Marianne:  Hi, it's me again.

Dyson:  Hi, Mar.  Did one of the fellas miss a couple of Cheerios this week?

Marianne:  Froot Loops....they were on sale.  BUT HOW DID YOU KNOW??

Dyson:  It's in our files.  You remember what the problem is, right?  We've gone over this a few times.


Dyson:  The filter.  You need to clean it every few months.


Dyson:  Not ringing a bell?  

Marianne:  Sounds a bit familiar.

Dyson:  According to our files, you're also due to change your furnace filter, so think about that as well.

Marianne:  I thought it was cold in here.

Dyson:  We'll talk to you in a few months then?

Marianne:  I love you.

Dyson:  We know.


Now wouldn't you know what the next great Dyson machine has? 

NO FREAKING FILTERS!  The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal & Allergy is like a dream come true. 

And I really like saying "Big Ball."  Makes me giggle.

Once again, Dyson has peered into my inept heart and figured out exactly what was needed to enable my disorganized life. Although my family does not include any pets, we all suffer from allergies.  I could not believe the amount of fine dust and particles this bad boy sucked up:

Now if Dyson could only invent a furnace that also did not require filters, I could die happy. 

In other big Dyson news, the James Dyson Award is kicking off early this year. The contest runs in 20 countries and is open to undergraduate and graduate students. With college tuitions sky-rocketing, keep in mind:

The top prize is $45,000 for the student or team and $7,500 for their university!

Past winners have further developed inventions that will shape the future, including the Copenhagen Wheel which turns bikes into hybrids. It recently received $4 million in funding and will begin commercial production this spring in Detroit, MI. US runner-up Revolights designed LED rings for bike wheels, and was also featured on ABC’s Shark Tank in March of last year.

So for all you aspiring engineers out there (or parents of aspiring engineers who are funding their classes and beer consumption), please spread the word! 

Off to vacuum!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would review it on my blog. I only recommend products or services I use personally. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Contest - FORFEIT

Don't tell Andrea this, but the fact that I hung in for The Contest as long as I did is a testament to how much I like her.

I have ZERO attention span.

I get bored mid-way through a roller coaster ride.

Nonetheless, the gal is still hanging on and I haven't the heart to tell her I'm outie.

She totally wins, but let's see how many weeks goes by before she actually notices I'm DOA.

Over-under: 6 weeks?

Place your wagers now.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Name Snob

I never thought one of my own children would end up a snob.

But it's happened. 

Full story click HERE in today's Chicago Parent.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Time I Cheated

This week's Super Bowl scandal got me thinking...

How big of a cheat am I?

Full story click HERE in today's Chicago Parent.

I am so ashamed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ice Hockey & Jazz Hands

So there was this time the parents of Jack's hockey team may have mistakenly given the impression that we were hearing-impaired.

It was all done with the best intentions.

Think "Jazz Hands."

Full story HERE in today's Chicago Parent.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Contest - Week 30: HotHands Hand Warmers

Week 30 of The Contest has me honoring a product I wish I knew about during last year's Polar Vortex.  Better late than never!

Dear HotHands Hand Warmers,

Based on the expression “cold hands, warm heart,” I am practically Mother Teresa. That is, my hands are blocks of ice most of the time. I also have a very cold nose. This quite possibly qualifies me as part Labrador.

With three sons who love the outdoors and all things winter, I have suffered through many cold seasons with empty bags of Wonder Bread covering my hands beneath mittens. I figured if it was good enough to do in the 1970s, it was certainly good enough to do now.

The kids?  They never get cold.

For the record, it is SO not good enough.

Recently, one of my son’s hockey dads gifted me with HotHands Hand Warmers. The result? I could not rid my pantry of hundreds of empty Wonder Bread bags fast enough. How I did not know about this miraculous invention is beyond baffling. But this winter? I don't even hate sledding.

And maybe I even took the kids to an outdoor ice rink.

All because of you.

And your Hand Warmers.

Marianne Walsh


While I have not received a response to date, I am still holding out hope - which leaves my total at 69.  To check out the competition, visit Andrea today!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Knocking on My Heart

The following appears in the January edition of Chicago Parent

As a confirmed neighborhood grouch, I am baffled at how many children continue to knock on my door looking for one of the boys. I do not dole out treats, fluids of any kind, or even Band-Aids. The word went out a long time ago that if you are hungry, thirsty, or bleeding, just pray that Mr. Walsh is home instead of the scary shrew who requires kids to drink water from the hose out back.

Despite my reputation as The Evil Queen, kids still appear. Typically, visitors fall into one of two categories:

(A) Boys who panic and run when I answer the door; or

(B) Boys who seem unimpressed with my penchant for profanity and whose body language suggests: “That’s all you got, lady?”

I tend to prefer the lads from Group B. I also tend to prefer their parents. Flying in the face of my affirmed grumpiness, a few kids have actually worked themselves into my cold dead heart. One such exception appeared on the doorstep a while back, and I nearly missed him given his slight stature. When my gaze finally turned downward, this brazen moppet of big eyes and fuzzy hair had only one question:


Taken aback, I answered the only way I thought was appropriate given the circumstances:

“I locked Jack in the basement next to the furnace. He wouldn’t practice his piano. And he got a B on his math test.”

The kid half-smiled, assessed his worthy new opponent, and decided to volley it right back:

“So, can I go down and uncuff him?”

“Be careful,” I grinned deviously, “the basement is where we hide all the bodies.”

Without missing a beat, without so much as a blink, this tiny little six-year-old leaned in with a twinkle in his eye and asked in hushed whisper:

“Just so I know…how many bodies we talking?”

I nearly peed myself. I often forget the individual nature of children who arrive at my house, and tend to view them all as interchangeable members of the eating and wrecking division of Beverly. Moms with teenagers tell me to hold on and wait. They insist that one day, the tide will turn and I will thoroughly adore these young people with my whole heart. They say that each time I yell and laugh and remind them not to go near white vans with tinted windows, I am actually earning credits towards a future where I get to enjoy and marvel at the amazing adults they become.

It was this idea that had me scoffing last week as I struggled to haul in groceries from my minivan. Suddenly, one of my ten-year-old’s friends appeared behind me and asked earnestly:

“Do you need some help with those, Mrs. Walsh?”

As the boy carried in heavy bags and bottles, the idea that I could love and appreciate children who grow up alongside my own suddenly didn’t feel so far-fetched after all.

It felt like maybe we were already there.