Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mea Culpa

She doesn't have a dragon tattoo and she doesn't play with fire but on Sunday my daughter was the girl who kicked the hornets' nest. Well, to be precise, the girl who kicked her soccer ball into a hornets' nest, then went to retrieve the ball.

The first I knew of it was when I looked across the field at half-time and saw my daughter doing some sort of a dance and screeching. In defence of what I'm about to say next, we had had some issues in earlier games with the girls acting up at half time or when they were subbed off and not paying attention to the game. I had to have a conversation with her beforehand about taking herself and her team seriously. So it was with great dismay that I watched her side-line jig.

Striding around the field to lay down the law I became aware that the girls' trainer had tackled my daughter to the ground and was hitting her legs which were teeming with hornets from the knees down. She was stung four times (thank goodness for shin guards) and five other girls and a linesman were also stung. It took them a while to recover but the girls went on to win 2-0. Maybe, like a whippet with a sprig of ginger in it's bum (look it up, it's true), they were inspired to run away from the sting.

Boy did I feel guilty though. I vastly overcompensated by celebrating the victory like it was a World Cup win.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Not That There's Anything Wrong With It

Five telltale signs that I am a housewife:

1. I have three supermarket tags and a gym pass on my keyring.

2. I own a crock pot.

3. I have tendinitis in my right hand, which mysteriously disappeared when we went on vacation (no cooking, laundry, driving - yes, I grip the steering wheel THAT hard) and is now back with a vengeance.

4. In the trunk of my car I have a first aid kit.

5. The highlight of my week was seeing Bill Clinton this morning (why, oh why, wasn't I wearing any makeup???)

She's a Very Freaky Girl

Newsflash: It turns out I'm a huge control freak.

I guess there were always signs-- I never liked group projects; I thought that, for the most part, meetings were a colossal waste of time; and I nearly always regretted delegating anything that required brain power (if you want something done right...).

But before I had kids I think I was like Sally Albright-- I was the worst kind of control freak: I was high maintenance but I thought I was low maintenance.

Having kids has forced me to recognize how pervasive my need for control is.

A baby is the ultimate enabler-- you have to control practically every aspect of that little thing's life in order for it to survive. So, yeah, I had a chart to keep track of feedings (and diaper changes). And at least six books on how to regulate sleep schedules (ha!). And baby gates. And outlet plugs.

As the baby grows, the control freak muscle adds additional daily workouts-- keeping track of the whereabouts of every resident of the Little People farm, each Sassy pop bead, and that week's must-have lovey.

Spotting danger becomes a full-time job. I'm convinced that most "helicopter" moms are not so much worried about their children getting hurt as consumed by how angry they will be at themselves for having seen the problem ahead of time and not having done anything to avoid it. Or.... maybe that's just me.

But I'm realizing that I have to be willing to relinquish control in order to let my kids grow up. They now live their lives wholly separately from me for hours at a time. And they are just fine. Thriving even.

I still see danger everywhere (watching my five year old learn how to ride a bike without training wheels was tight-shouldered, clenched teeth agony for me, even though she didn't fall once). And I have yet to make my kids assume control of certain aspects of their lives-- packing their schoolbags and making sure they have the right gear/books/etc is a particularly glaring one. But I'm getting there.

I'm even getting a teeny bit better at controlling myself. The other day I wrote a long email to my son's teacher to give her what I considered helpful information about his work, his personality, and how best to motivate him.

And then I realized that I was trying to micro-manage things. That he and his teacher can-- and will-- figure it all out for themselves. I hit discard. It was kind of exhilarating.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NORAD, Take Me Away!

" This is Air Traffic Control Tower to K09. You are all cleared for soccer. Do you have your ball and a water bottle?"

"Negative, Air Traffic Control. I am decidedly not ready, I repeat, NOT ready."

"K09, this is Air Traffic Control, I suggest you GET ready. There is a K07 right on your tail who needs to take-off by 18:15 to preserve his on-time record for basketball. Copy?"

"Roger that, Air Traffic Control, but there is a K05 in my line of sight who has stolen my water bottle and is currently emptying it all over the kitchen floor."

"K05? ... K05? ... K05, I know you can hear me! This is Air Traffic Control. If you do not cease current activity you will got to bed tonight without refueling. Do you copy?"

"This is K05 to Air Traffic Control. You are breaking up. Over."

"Air Traffic Control to K09. We now have a ground transportation situation. Your carpool buddy has arrived and you must take-off, repeat, you must take off."

"Tower, this is K09. Catch you on the flip-side."

"Thank God ... I mean, Roger that K09! You have a return ETA of 20:00 hours. Air Traffic Control to K07, you are now cleared for take-off. K05, wheels up."

"K07 to Tower, I didn't finish my flight log and it's due tomorrow."

"K07, looks like a long night. You can do it tonight after you land and refuel."

"Air Traffic Control this is K05. What IS the fuel tonight?"

"K05, this is Air Traffic Control. You're breaking up ..."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Keep Your Sniglets to Yourself

The kids go to school for six hours a day. I go for one, sometimes two.

[It turns out that getting a new empty-nester to over-commit to the PTA is easier than beating a five year old at Scrabble.]

So... I sit through lots of committee meetings. Aside from the Type A(holes), the only part I actually mind is that the meetings are generally held in the school's cafetorium. {shudder}

You see, sometimes it's the cafeteria, sometimes it's the auditorium. Hey, I know! Let's give it a name that drives that point home. Cafetorium! It's like Bennifer! Or Brangelina! Ugh. I simply can. not. stand. the. word. I don't like saying it and I don't like hearing it. And I've been hearing it way too much lately.

So, it goes on the list-- right between phlegm and moisten.

And, also, jeggings.

Why are there leggings that look like jeans anyway? And, furthermore, why are there pajamas that look like jeans? Who wants to wear jeans to bed?

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I spent all day last Saturday with a Poodle, a Vampire and a Dragon. No, Hallowe'en hasn't come early and no, this is not the beginning of a very poor joke. Soccer season has started.

This year our kindergarten girls' teams are named after dog breeds and while I really would have preferred to be a Bulldog or at least a Terrier, I do take solace in not being a Chihuahua (there were no Rottweilers or Pit Bulls). Second grade boys are mythical creatures, so my son is a Vampire, dressed inexplicably in a green kit. It's early in the season but at some point someone on the opposing team is going to realize that vampires suck. Fortunately, he won his first game. We played the Cyclops who perhaps were hampered by their only having one eye.

My Dragon is neither scaly nor fierce and sometimes still picks Daisies on the field during the match but I believe a financial incentive of some sort might solve that problem. Paying for goals can light a fire under even the most soporific dragon.

If I were in charge of making up team names, I'd pick much cooler themes like World Cup teams or European "football" clubs; something soccer-related at least, and kick-ass, hoo-ah at best. Let's keep the 'creative' names for nail polish hues.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What's Your Beef?

That was the name of a steakhouse in upstate New York where my college roommate waitressed. I could never decide if that is a great name or, like Homer Simpson's babershop quartet "The B-Sharps," if it is a name that is clever at first but gets less funny each time you hear it.

ANYWAY, here's my beef: one of Weaselsnob's "high octane moms" (I prefer Type A(hole)) has taken over my kids' elementary school.

This mom has a son who has some very serious, very legitimate allergies. Can we please stipulate that I recognize how awful that must be? And how I would never want to put the health of a child in jeopardy? And how I can guarantee that I am in the top 99% of label-readers? Good. Thanks.

The problem is that this woman has conflated the protection of her son's physical well-being with the protection of his emotional well-being. Her goal is to eliminate any possibility of a circumstance in which her son might feel left out (or singled out) because he can't eat what other kids are eating.

So, instead of providing an alternative treat for him to eat on the occasion of a classmate's birthday celebration, she has forced the school to change the policy for all kindergarten classes-- no birthday cupcakes or any other birthday food-type celebration whatsoever.

This is a public school. This kid will be eating in the lunchroom (where four other grades eat as well). And, presumably, he will face the issue of eating with people in public his whole life. Wouldn't it be wise to teach the child to accept his allergy and get on with living? It is what it is-- you don't eat that because it will hurt you, but you can eat this. Don't dwell on it. This is just a simple fact of your life.

We don't cancel recess and gym just because there are kids in our school who are physically handicapped and it might make them feel bad to see other kids run and jump and play. I'm sure it sucks way more for them than it does for you not being able to eat a munchkin. Seriously.

Believe me, I understand the desire to shield your child from any kind of pain. But in this case I can only see the creation of a bigger problem. At some point the mountain will no longer come to this Mom-hammed. At some point this child/teen/college student will have to fend for himself in a world that doesn't care if he can't eat the cake. What's he going to do? How's he going to feel then?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Mom

I have long suspected that there are two sets of standards for parents in our town. One set for the wimpy, liberal-arts degree, play by the rules people such as me (blessed are the meek and all that) and another for the stay-at-home, high-octane professionals. Now I am utterly convinced.

Example one: the mother that rolled her eyes when I said that my daughter had got her second choice of compulsory musical instrument. "I only ever put down one choice," she laughed, "that way I always get what I want." Hmm ...

Example two: The three kids who got the coveted drum as their instrument all have mothers in the upper echelons of the PTA. Hmmm ...

Example three: We are (supposed to be) allowed to negative-request a teacher for our child only if a sibling has already had that teacher. Overheard: "I don't want either of my twins to have Mrs. ___. She's a yeller and my girls would not thrive in that environment." (Uh ... who would?!) Request accepted.

We all have to be advocates for our children, of course. Those of us who value good manners, respect for elders and a sense of community are outnumbered by the grab-all-you-can-for-yourselves who take grief from absolutely no one in this world, except for some reason, their own children. And we have to raise (lower?) our game to give our kids a fair shot.

I accept that reality, but I'm selfish. I'd much rather be liked than feared. And I sincerely hope my kids would say the same.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


In law school we played a game called B.S. Bingo (I hear they play it in boardrooms too): imagine a bingo card-- except, instead of numbers, the squares were filled with overused catchphrases or buzzwords. You would mark off a square anytime one of the words or phrases on your cards was said in class. If you completed a row, you'd say (or cough) something that sounded like bingo.

I haven't seen a B.S. Bingo board in a while but if I were playing with my friends and we were goofing on ourselves (as we often do), these are the kinds of things that would fill up the spaces on our boards:

"wait-- what was I talking about?"

"Do you see that I'm on the phone?" (said to a child)

"That's ridiculous"

"That's awesome"

"It's driving me crazy"

"I couldn't believe it. Can you believe it?"

"Why would anyone do that?"

"Are you serious?"

"Are you kidding?"

"I don't know why but I'm so tired today"


That last one would have to be the "free" space.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We're Ridin' Quattro

Our summer vacation plans required us to spend lots of time in the car. And, because, to my utter dismay, NOT ONE of the top car companies has seized upon my genius idea of installing a limousine-type partition between the front seat and the back, we figured we were in for our fair share of "don't make me come back there" type eruptions.

We were wrong. Two things soothed our savage beasts-- books on tape and the radio.

All of a sudden my kids love pop music. Taio Cruz, Katy Perry, Jason Derulo-- they sing along with all of it. My son's favorite is "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy because he gets to say the word frickin'.

"I want to be a billionaire so frickin' bad," he croons, heavily stressing what I assume he thinks of as the "F-word."

I let it slide (and blast the song) because I remember being a kid and singing along gleefully with Jim Croce: "bad, bad Leroy Brown, baddest man in the whole DAMN town..."

And as my sweet innocent little girl chirps about California girls (or gurls) being so hot they'll melt your popsicle I cringe a little bit; but then I remind myself that I missed every single dirty lyric as I sang along to Grease and that I didn't realize until I was about 30 that "Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues was spelled n-i-g-h-t-s and wasn't about a bunch of guys from King Arthur's court inexplicably wearing sheets.

Happy September!
Oh, and 1990's me wants to remind you all that tomorrow is September 2, 2010. That's right: 90210.