Pimp My Swagger Wagon

Disco ball in blue

Image via Wikipedia

I want chrome spinner wheels for my swagger wagon. (I never get tired of that video.) And a disco ball.

I’m not kidding.

Okay, maybe the disco ball is over the top, but I still want the spinners.

I know it’s ridiculous; I can’t help myself. There’s just something about hauling three kids into a pea-green minivan with chrome spinners that makes me giggle uncontrollably. I don’t think I could get into my van without smiling hard, and something tells me that no one else would be able to look at my hip ride without grinning too. It would be my shiny contribution to a better society.

Really. I haul 3 kids here and there every day, in and out of 3 car seats, usually listening to Pinkalicious or Skippjon Jones on audiobook. It’s a drag sometimes. I’m entitled to garish wheels.

I draw the line at animal print seat covers, although if they were velour… And orange, I might reconsider. I’d be mastering the peas and carrots look.

Maybe just a miniature disco ball that I can bust out during my next Bee Gees bender. A real disco ball would be tacky… Even for me.

Gerontophobia

Gerontophobia (ge·ron·to·pho·bi·a) –noun

1. a fear of old people.

2. a fear of old age, esp. of growing old.

via Dictionary.com.

__________________________________________________

My children are going to be gerontophobic, and it’s all my fault.

I don’t remember how it started exactly. It was probably a discussion about milk. It may have gone something like this:

“Mommy, can I have this sippy cup?”, Goose asks, pulling a week old sippy cup out from under the couch.

A glass of milk

Image via Wikipedia

“Ummm, no. That’s yucky milk. Give it to mommy, please. Thank you.”

“Why is it yucky, mommy? Is this milk yucky, too?”, she asks gesturing to the sippy cup in her other hand.

“No. That milk isn’t yucky; that’s fresh milk. The other milk is yucky because it’s old.”

And there it is.

I was merely trying to keep my, then 2 and 1/2 year old, child from drinking spoiled milk.

How has this innocent exchange escalated?

BOTH Goose and Buddy now refer to anything even slightly undesirable as “old”.

“I can’t eat that chippy, mommy.  It’s old.” (Chip dispensed from bag a mere 15 minutes earlier.)

“I can’t use that toy; it’s old.” (Toy that they had for maybe a month.)

“Does your back hurt, mommy? Why? Because you’re old?”

You can see where this is going, right?  I am trying to explain things in different terms.  Things are spoiled or broken or need batteries or  “Because I carry kids and kid-gear all day” instead of saying “old”.

I liked “old”, because it was simple and they accepted it without question.  It was even more effective than “hot”.  If I said, “hot”, they would touch it to see how hot.  If I said “old”, they would drop it, whatever it was, and back away as if it might bite them.  Sometimes that quick response time is imperative, as in:  “Drop that knife! It’s old!”

But I’m fearful of the day when we’re out shopping and some sweet senior attempts to engage them in conversation.  I can never predict what they’ll say, but continuing to use “old” as an catch-all for things unwanted seems like an association that is likely to kick me in the rear.

So,  if you hear my children referring to milk, or a toy, or you, as “senior” or “antique”, you’ll know why.

“We should be painful for the things we love”

“We should be painful for the things we love.”

He meant “thankful”, of course, but was he wrong?

I started thinking about the holiday season and the inevitable pile of angst that it dumps on me like a steaming load of manure. Wonder what to get and for whom. Ponder if there’s anyone we can skip this year. Debate the relative merits of sending cards versus email notes. Rush around. Spend money (lots of it and mostly on stuff that won’t get used by the recipient). Rush some more. Curse Dominick the Donkey. Spend more money. Rush more just for good measure. And for what? A 20 minute cyclone of gift wrap and cardboard boxes followed by an epic case of exhaustion.

I don’t care for it.

But I started thinking about why Thanksgiving always seem to top my list of favorite holidays. It’s not the turkey, I rarely eat it. It’s not really the food at all, although it plays a part.

It’s the beautiful simplicity of it. Thanksgiving. Be thankful. Appreciate your life and the people in it. Beautiful. It’s secular, so it welcomes everyone. There are no invented characters involved, designed to sell me or my children anything we don’t need. It’s a day to get together with the people we love to share a meal and share ourselves.

For my family, there’s a gathering of some of my siblings and their children, some other family, and a handful of good friends. We usually net around 20 people. We talk, we reminisce, we stuff ourselves silly, talk some more and stumble home in our blissful turkey comas.

All of the goodness of the holidays with none of the drama. I love it.

But, as Buddy said, “We should be painful for the things we love.” And everyone I love seems obsessed with the holidays.

As such, I will, in spite of my misgivings, try my hardest to be sporty about the holidays. I will purchase the gifts, and wrap them. I will wonder whether the recipient will like it. I will stress about the expense. I will loathe the rushing around. I will put up a tree that will get knocked down (I just bought the world’s ugliest pre-lit artificial tree. It is baby blue. It was $20. I love it.). I will hang ornaments on it that will get broken by the children or smashed by the cats. I will mail cards to the people I wish I saw more often. I will smile my bestest smile, and secretly wish that every holiday was Thanksgiving.

Hope you all enjoy Thanksgiving with the people you love best.

I know I will.

Allergic to Fun: Adventures at a Male Revue

When some friends had mentioned (with great enthusiasm) getting tickets to see the “Thunder from Down Under” show, my immediate reaction was, “Why?”

Through my head ran every sitcom that I had ever watched that contained a male revue scene.  Okay, I thought, round tables, drinks, scantily clad men with eerily little body hair and an unnatural sheen, and a load of screaming women.  The whole idea made me uncomfortable in a vague sort of way.  I’m not sure why.  I’m not prudish generally, and nudity doesn’t bother me, ask my neighbors.

So I thought, why not?  Why not step outside my comfort zone and live a little?

Two amaretto sours deep and I still wasn’t into it.  I was very anxious that one of the…. what do you call them?…. dancers? might approach me.  Really.  I’m not into touching people.  Especially spray-tanned people that I do not know.  Oddly, that seemed to be the very reason everyone else was there.

But there weren’t any round tables, in case you were wondering.

I should mention here that it was loud.  I mean LOUD. Between the music and the squealing, I really wished I had a pair of neon orange ear plugs that are typically reserved for motor sports events.  In fact, it was so loud that a friend and I smashed heads trying to yell in each others’ ears…. although she may have tried to kiss me.  She denies it, but….

Where were the tables?

So the dancers did their routine: pirates, firemen, cowboys, etc.  At various points, audience members were dragged to the stage, one of whom licked the dancer…. I’m not kidding.  I think I threw up in my mouth a little.

(Aside: I will never handle money without washing my hands  again.ever.)

The music was really good…. GNR, ACDC, Motley Crue, and some more current songs that I was unfamiliar with… something about a milkshake and saving a horse.  But the show? Eh, I could take it or leave it. I was in the extreme minority.  I started thinking that maybe I might actually be allergic to fun, although I didn’t break out in hives or anything so I can’t prove it.

I’m still hung up on the tables.  I was sure there were supposed to be tables… round ones.

What did I learn from this experiment?

I have fun friends. Really fun friends with unexpected and entertaining wild streaks. (One of them had nearly been thrown out of a Chippendale’s show once for bad behavior.  Who knew?)

I am not one of them.  Seems there’s no wild streak here.  You get what you get.  And these days, what you get is a little dull.

Still- I should go out with them more often.  It would be good for me to loosen up a little.  Next time I will start drinking before the evening begins (provided that I’m not driving, of course) and see if that helps.  Maybe there’s fun buried in me somewhere that I’ve deeply repressed.

Did I have any fun at all?

Yes, although truly, I had more fun after the show, giggling over onion rings and the photos that the gals had taken with the Aussies, and listening to Libby contemplate her blog pseudonym at great length, for when she got an honorable mention, and how could she not get an honorable mention?  Libby nicknamed a dancer “Green Teeth” (for reasons I am still not clear on), had cash hanging out of her shirt, was hoarse from screaming, and miraculously purchased her onion rings with points.  If you’re going out, that is the woman to have with you.

The night wrapped up with the cab ride home with Lawless-Wallace-Nate, and is best summed up by Libby:  “‘Lawless’? As in above the law? So next time, if we want to request you, we should call up the cab company and say, ‘Hey! Send over Lawless’?”

I was just recalling that there was a time once when I was fun.  It was a long long time ago.  And I even vaguely recall a college party where…. Oh… I’ll save that for another blog.  In the meantime,  it’s wonderful to have friends that do know how to have fun, even though I’ve forgotten.

Thanks, ladies!

Dear fellow moms,

Someone said something to a friend today that really got under my skin.  Because this discussion took place on aforementioned friend’s Facebook page, I responded as politely as I could while still getting my point across.

But this here is my blog, and there are a few things that I need to get off my chest.

I know that you mean well.  I know this because I too have fallen into the “advice trap” and passed judgment on my fellow mothers under the guise of concern or advice. It’s tempting.  Sometimes it’s not even conscious.  The words just come out of your mouth or into the keyboard without a thought.

That’s why I’m writing this.  We need to think before we speak or type.  We are all in this together.  We are all mothers.  And we are all doing the best we can to raise our children to be wonderful people.

(Okay, nitpickers.  I hear you saying, “What about <insert headline dead child story here>?  She wasn’t doing her best!”  If that’s what just ran through your head, please navigate away from my blog now.)

Are we all still here?  Super.

As I was saying, we are all doing our best.  Sometimes “best” doesn’t mean “perfect”.  “Perfect” doesn’t exist.  So please refrain from trying to tell other people that it does.  This means that when mom friends express their feelings to you, whatever they are, it is not your given right to counsel them on why it’s not as bad as they think, or why they are actually lucky, or why every other mom on the planet wishes she had it as good as they do.  It is not your job to tell them what they are doing wrong, or how you had it worse.  Nor is it acceptable to me to sit idly by while you marginalize their feelings.

How does that help exactly?  Unless your goal is to poke holes in the already fragile self-esteem of a mom who is trying to figure this whole parenting thing out, it doesn’t help at all.  It is un-help.

We would be wise to start examining the societal and cultural norms that reinforce that there is only one right way to parent, because it is a disservice to ourselves and our children. There are many many ways to raise a child.  My methods are not the same as yours.  You are not me.  My children are not the same as your children.

Sometimes I’m a great mom.  Sometimes I suck.  It’s all part of the deal.  I’m as insecure as you are.

So here is my promise to you, moms: I will do my level best to hear you, really hear you, when you speak.  I will respect your feelings, because even if I don’t necessarily understand them, they are still valid feelings and you are entitled to them.  I will respect your method of parenting and ask you for the same consideration.  I will try to gently remind you when you are engaging in the self-defeating behavior that I discussed here, and ask that you do the same for me.

Parenting is hard.  Let’s work together.  We’d be better off focusing our energy on getting national paid family leave legislation passed, like the rest of the globe (Read about Sweden’s here), than undermining other moms with our sugar-coated criticisms.

And for what it’s worth: I think you’re a good mom, and you have great kids.

Chomp chomp chomp

Bear got his finger munched on by a friend today.  It’s awesome.

(No worries.  He’s fine. No broken skin or permanent injuries.)

I’m hoping that now that he has been on the receiving end of a set of pearly whites, he might think twice about sinking his own set into a friend or sibling…. usually a sibling.

Example from last week: 3 kids playing quietly in the basement playroom. (quietly should have been a tip-off) Suddenly, Buddy screams, pauses, then screams again and commences sobbing.   I arrive at the bottom of the stairs and see sobbing Buddy at the top of the slide, Bear playing with blocks, and Goose drawing on the chalkboard. Hmmmmm…..

“Buddy, what’s wrong?”, I ask.

“Bear bite-ed meeeeeee!”

I see a wet, round mark at the top of his back near his neck.

“I see, Buddy. Ouch, that must have hurt.” I try consoling him.

“Noooooo!!! Heeeere!”, he says pointing to his bottom.

I pants him.  Sure enough, another set of teeth marks in his right cheek.  I patch up the damage with some Lightning McQueen bandages and begin the inquiry to decipher what happened.

The way Buddy tells it, he was at the top of the slide when he was viciously attacked by his brother and sister.

“Wait”, I say, “both of them?”

“Yes”, he whimpered, “Goose bite-ed my neck and Bear bite-ed by bottom.”

Goose confirmed that this is, indeed, what occurred.

After piecing together the puzzle, I believe what happened was this: Buddy stationed himself firmly at the top of the slide, guarding it with all his might.  Bear tried to go around him to go down the slide and when he couldn’t, he chomped on Buddy’s rear.  Goose attempted to go down the slide and failed also, and seeing how spectacular the reaction was when Bear bit him, she bit him, too.

*sigh*

I really wish they’d work out their pack hierarchy and be done with it.

Back to the point: Bear is not a first time bite offender.  He has chewed on Buddy numerous times now, and it’s possible that a few tooth marks in his own digits was just what he needed to cure him of it.

Here’s hoping.

Blast you, traditional gender roles!!!

At the beginning of the school year, I asked my 3-year-old twins if they would like to take dance lessons.  My daughter, Goose, was an enthusiastic, “Yes!”.  My son said casually that he’d prefer Taekwondo.

Okay, I thought.  Dance for Goose, and Taekwondo for Buddy. Fine.

And so it was for a few weeks, until Goose told me she wanted to take Taekwondo, too.  Initially, I dodged the issue.  It’s not that I don’t want her to take Taekwondo.  It’s just that I’m already paying for dance classes and really… that’s enough.

But then she asked again… and again… and then Buddy said he wanted to try dance… and in my mind my wallet is shrinking, and shrinking…. I put off any real discussion with them about it until today when I dropped them off at school and reminded them that Goose has dance and Buddy has Taekwondo.

Goose said, “I want to take Taekwondo.”

I said, “Not today.”

She said, and this is what really hit a nerve, “Because Taekwondo is for boys”, nodding enthusiastically for painful emphasis.

“No. What? No. No, it is not just for boys.” I told her.

“And dance is for girls!”, Buddy chimes in from his seat.

“What? What? No.  No, dance is not just for girls.  Where did you hear that?”, I ask increasingly flabbergasted.

I reiterate the plan for the day: Buddy Taekwondo, Goose dance.  I told them we’d talk about it later, and then I started trying to figure out how this happened and what to do about it.  I know they didn’t hear it from me.  I bought them custom tutus for their last birthday: pink/purple for Goose and blue/green for Buddy (shout out to Foxy Baby for those awesome tutus!).  He has a train set; Goose has one, too.  I want to reinforce that they can be anything, not just boy or girl things.

So now what? I can’t pay for both of them to take both classes, but I don’t want to send them the message that one is for boys and one is for girls.  And they are only 3, after all.  If I ask them to pick one or the other for the year do they really understand what a year is?  How can they choose when they haven’t tried both?

They can’t.  Dammit.  And so, Goose will try a Taekwondo class on Wednesday.  And Buddy will try dance on Monday.

Then we’ll see what they say.

I am sad to predict the following:  Goose will still want to do both, and Buddy… well, I suspect he’ll see that there are no other boys in the dance class, declare it for girls, and stick with Taekwondo.

I guess there’s only so much I can do.