Today’s Guest Blog is an excerpt from You Cannot Be Serious by author and twin (+3!) mom, Elizabeth Lyons

Rule 20: Have No Expectations (but Expect the Unexpected)
“A characteristic of the normal child is, he doesn’t act that way very often.”


I love Gayle King. I used to listen to her daily on XM satellite radio until I got Sirius, which came with dear Lulu (the minivan). Which was great because I love “Homegrown” with Andrew Beckman and Tony Bielaczyc on the Martha Stewart channel, as well as Doctor Radio, which fairly well convinces me by lunchtime that I have at least four maladies (it’s channel 114 should you wish to join me in hypochondrial bliss).

But I missed the Oprah channel. That is, until someone mentioned that I could pay an extra four dollars per month and get some of the “cross-over” channels—including Oprah. Which I instructed David to do. Immediately. Because when summer hits moms had better have a plan for surviving car rides during which someone’s finger is always thinking about possibly maybe touching someone else’s shoelace, which is, obviously, a perfectly valid reason for World War 3 to commence.

Summer comes upon mothers suddenly and violently. On Day 1 of summer vacation, I know that there are 68 days left. Not that I am counting. Last summer, by 2:12 p.m. on that first fateful day, I’d already learned seven valuable ways that having no expectations can help one maintain Summer Break Sanity. I understand that even more tips are dispensed through the local community college’s one-credit course titled, can you believe it, “Summer Break Sanity 101.” Sadly, however, it’s offered only at noon on Wednesdays.

1. Taking five kids grocery shopping when it’s already 97 degrees out at 9:00 a.m.? Two words: Don’t. Okay, that’s one word, but it’s the contraction of Do Not which is two words. I’ll blame my poor math skills on exhaustion, as I just took 5 kids grocery shopping, and it’s already 97 degrees at 9:00 a.m.

2. If you choose to take 5 kids grocery shopping when it’s already 97 degrees at 9:00 a.m., and you ask a kid to go get two canteloupes, and he appears in front of you with them stuffed up his shirt while his brothers crack up until tears stream down their faces, don’t be surprised. And, an additional piece of advice from Big Daddy: don’t be miffed either. After all, “You’re the one who asked me to get two canteloupes!” Touche.

3. When you take the kids to the bookstore so that they can each pick out a summer reading book, anticipate staying thirty minutes longer than planned in order to engage in not-so-peaceful negotiations over your steadfast belief that Captain Underpants Down Under, SpongeBob Takes Tahiti, and anything that plays music and comes with a designated age range of 2-4 doesn’t qualify. If you’re smart enough to declare these rules before you enter the store, be forewarned that even if—at the moment you deliver the message—the kids are quiet as mice and looking right at you, they are not listening.

4. Seven-year-olds will enter into loud debate with other 7-year-olds (and a 4-year-old) in the bookstore over whether or not they need to be wearing deodorant.

5. Almost-10-year-olds will retort (loudly) that babies don’t need to wear deodorant, after which the debate will turn briskly and tragically to the topic of who in the family is the biggest baby.

6. Bookstore train tables erected with the under-3 set in mind appeal most to the over-7 set. When you hear one of your kids holler, “The green caboose is mine, smelly underwear head!” it’s truly in your best interest to pretend you entered the store solo.

7. A Starbucks iced, grande, soy, green tea latte is the perfect reward for enduring an “eventful” morning. Seriously, try it. It’s the prettiest drink I’ve ever ordered and one of my staple treats. Also on the list, a white chocolate raspberry iced coffee with just a smidge of half and half. Sierra the Barista made it one morning before the rush hit the drive-thru, and she let me sample it. It rocked my world. I think Starbucks needs to officially put it on the menu and name it The Sierra.
Low expectations: they aren’t pessimistic; they’re realistic. And they leave you with nowhere to go but up.

When moms ask me for tips on flying with young children, I give them some of my more tangible tried-and-true standbys, but also tell them that the smartest things to pack in their carry-on are a sense of humor and low expectations. Just expect the worst. It can’t get worse than the worst, right? I’ve known many a woman who adopted this approach and was pleasantly surprised after the flight, noting, “Well, Charlie threw up ten minutes in, Oliver smacked the flight attendant across the face, and Lily said “boob” over and over again for a hour. It wasn’t so bad!”

The book is available on Amazon