Photo by Helen Montoya Henrichs.

Merry Christmas!

I know that you all are secretly dying to hear from me about my truly exceptional kids, so I decided that this year, instead of a card, I would just send out a Christmas newsletter so I could hide my bragging beneath a bundle of ambiguity and convince you my boys really are the most amazing kids ever. So I hope you stick around to see how much better my kids are than every other one on the planet.

The family

First, I really have to commend our family. We have left the house three hundred thirty-four times this year, and we have only been late three hundred twenty-six of those. This is quite an accomplishment, believe me. We really are extraordinary. When you can leave the house on time EVEN THOUGH someone decides at the last minute that he needs to go to the potty and then he overflows the toilet, much to his delight, or another one decides he left something critically important in his room and it’s now been buried under the massive mountains of clothes he didn’t put away last laundry day, or, God forbid, fifteen of the left shoes are missing, you have made it. You really have.

But I should start with my kids.

The 9-year-old

This boy has only had his behavior folder marked “transition trouble” seventy-nine of the eighty days he’s been in school, and he’s been late to school ONLY sixteen times. Something to be proud of, I know. Just this morning he threw his fourteenth LEGO creation in anger, because he couldn’t find the right “brown brick” piece, and “it would be totally ruined without the brown brick piece.”

He has “accidentally” broken three pieces of furniture this year by turning flips on it even though he’s twice as big as he used to be back when it was okay, because, well, growing up is hard.

He’s also learned all of three songs on the piano (taught himself!!!) and plays them incessantly so we’ve all started changing the lyrics for “Pass the Pumpkin All Around” to “God, I really hate this song. I don’t want to sing along, Oooooh, oooooh, let it stop at you.” We are thoroughly proud of this boy, who prefers reading a book to listening to instructions, especially when it’s chore time, which makes our house really pleasant and easy.

The 6-year-old

This boy created a special dance move called “The Hipster,” which is really just a hip thrust with a little bouncing thrown in. I’m pretty sure Elvis Presley might have invented it first, but, you know, we want him to believe he’s unique and special because kids today are fragile snowflakes. And he is the admiration of the family when he busts this move.

He also started washing the dishes with the dish wand and has only broken five plates this year. A great start to a great dishwashing career, if you ask me. (One of his Christmas presents is going to be a collection of new plates. Don’t tell him!!!)

He has also asked the “How did I get out of your uterus” question twelve times this year and always forgets the answer. Something about it makes it hard to remember. I don’t know. Maybe it’s some Freudian coping mechanism, like “Don’t think about that horrible, jarring, pitch-black passage into the world.” If you do happen to ask what route he took and he does happen to remember, he’ll most likely answer “A Fa China passage.” Because we believe in teaching kids biology and the proper names for body parts.

The 5-year-old

This little boy started kindergarten this year, and every single morning (never fails!), he manages to misplace his shoes. It is really quite astonishing. He has somehow, without our even pushing him, mastered the art of not seeing what’s right in front of his face, which, as you can imagine, is a fantastic quality to have, especially when you’re running late. It doesn’t make the morning get-to-school routine any harder to have to drop everything and “find” the shoes that are right beside his feet because he “already looked and can’t find them.”

He has also, somehow, managed to lose every shoe of one foot and now walks around (perfectly, I might add) with only a left foot shoe on both feet. You try it and see if you don’t trip. I’m telling you. Exceptional.

He has also phonetically learned how to spell words like his countrified Nonny says them—sol for saw, mayen for man, mayilk for milk. Thanks, Nonny!

3-year-old number 1

Twin 1 has had quite a year. He has ruined fifteen pairs of pants by expertly scooting around on his knees, no matter how many times he’s been told not to do exactly that (great initiative!). He has also ruined four pairs of shoes, because he forgot he left them in the backyard. They got baked in the sun, and now we have four pairs of tie-dyed Converse sneakers. I’m actually super impressed that he learned how to tie dye without even trying. I remember that being a really complicated thing back when I was in elementary school.

This one has also put his shoes on the wrong feet three hundred sixty-four times this year, which has added exactly two minutes and fifteen seconds to our morning routine (not counting the five minutes and twenty-three seconds of arguing about it—“This IS the right foot, Mama.” “No it’s not, buddy.” “YES IT IS!” “Trust me.” “IT IS THE RIGHT FOOT!” [four minutes of the same, on a good day.] “Okay. Try to walk in them.”).

Of the other accomplishments, this is probably the most notable: He learned how to open a gummy vitamin bottle and consumed the entire contents while I was otherwise occupied by a massive blowout diaper, courtesy of his baby brother. He’s never had so much diarrhea before. I know! Another accomplishment!

3-year-old number 2

Twin 2 nearly contracted a bacterial infection three times from unauthorized play with the plunger. He can’t leave this entertaining toy alone, if it happens to be anywhere near a toilet. Left alone in the bathroom for five seconds? I’ll plunge the toilet. Mama’s watching? Brother will distract while I plunge it. Mama’s upstairs dumping the laundry on the bed? I WILL PLUNGE IT! This typically happens when the toilet water is brown with the most delightful presents, because no one in my house can be bothered to flush, and he proficiently sloshes said water all over the walls. It is quite lovely, as I’m sure you can imagine. Part of his Christmas present will pay for a cleaning lady who will dare to touch those walls.

This little boy also figured out how to make gigantic spitballs out of toilet paper rolls and actually get them to stick to the walls and ceiling. He will soon be featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Most Annoying 3-year-old in the universe.”

The baby

This little guy. He has not thrown up all over himself today, which is quite a feat. This year he also put twenty-seven Happy Baby organic kale and spinach puffs in his right ear before finally, thankfully, mastering the art of feeding himself. He’s only had one major poop blowout, which is saying a whole lot for a Toalson baby.

He has managed to eat some really impressive things that are ground into our carpet—three-day-old bread, wads of hair, possibly a toenail, old toilet paper that was stuck to someone’s shoe, and a dozen other unclassifiable objects. He’s never been sick. Go figure.

Other notable accomplishments

The older three boys are quite gifted in the art of armpit farts. I bet we could even fart “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” complete with two harmonies, but we’re saving that for our Christmas card next year.

I’m sure you can see why I’m so proud of my brilliant boys. But the real reason I’m telling you all this is to show you that Husband and I really rocked our parenting this year. We only yelled two hundred fifty-seven times, and we only said, “I tap out” every other day, and we only complained about the maddening things our kids do for about four hours of every day. That’s saying a whole lot, and I think we deserve a congratulations!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family. And may your new year be as noteworthy as my old one was. Or, perhaps, much, much more.

This is an excerpt from Parenting is the Hardest Insane Asylum Ever, the first in the Crash Test Parents humor series. It pre-releases Jan. 24. To be notified of its release, visit the Crash Test Parents Reader Library page.