Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Worst Chore Ever (for Me)

Is cleaning out my children's closets. Why?  Because several of my distinct, outrageously strong personality traits are working at cross-purposes:

1.  ORGANIZATION!  Everything MUST be organized!  But what do you do when clothing manufacturers deviate from the standard X-Y months or ZT sizing.  WHAT DO YOU DO?

2.  KINDNESS!  Everything that doesn't fit my children must be handed down to the next generation of babies and toddlers so that their parents freely benefit from our stash!

3.  FRUGALITY!  Everything that is handed off to someone (see #2) who has a boy child younger between my youngest (2) and oldest (7) boys will need to return the clothes so that I can use them again for my youngest.  So I mark the tags with identification, slightly worrying that the loanee will think I'm not gracious.

4.  SENTIMENTALITY!  I don't have an eidetic memory, but I have a pretty good one, and visions of my kids as tiny newborns snuggled up in that fuzzy jacket or onesie are overpowering.  Also, I have a hard time getting rid of things. I blame being the sixth of seven children and not having a lot of my own stuff before the age of fourteen, when I was a babysitting machine and could buy my own NEW barrettes, goddammit, and not have to use the ancient ones with the gold paint that's half flaked off.

5.  IRONY!  I have come to believe that irony is the guiding principle of my life, and that if I get rid of all of the baby stuff, I will suddenly, inexplicably find myself pregnant.  IT HAS HAPPENED TO WOMEN NAMED MARY BEFORE. 

THIS is the cocktail that bubbles in my brain while I am stacking 2T polo shirts and deciding if a onesie is stain free enough to keep.  But, I must be the one to complete this chore because if I outsourced it to my husband, he'd just chuck everything and call it a day.

So, let's all just stay out of the guest room where the maelstrom of clothes is lurking, okay?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Patrick and Gina Neely We Are Not

Background: The Boy has religious education class on Tuesday nights.  Oh yes, he's being catechized six ways to Sunday. HA! Anyway, his class is from 5:30 p.m. - 6:45 p.m., so Super Ninja drops him off after ramming a Happy Meal down his throat.  I stay late at work, and pick the Boy up on my way home.  We get home around 7:00 p.m., and I cook dinner for the adults in the house.

Me: We need his and hers kitchens (This is after we bumped into each other three times as I am trying to cook and he is putting away dishes.)  Mine would have an Aga and Ginsu knives.  Yours would have a toaster and hot plate to boil water for hot dogs.

Super Ninja: That sounds about right.

So, interwebs, if you want to get on a kitchen remodel for us, I'd be down with that.  I'm pretty sure Super Ninja's 'kitchen' could be relocated to the deck.  Food for thought. Again: HA!

Night Walk

The weather's been beautiful 'round here of late, and it's awakened my need to be out there, mixing it up with nature, basking in the glow of a moonrise.  You know, Outward Bound shit. Except for only 20 minutes, and in my neighborhood, and with several ounces of bug spray.


Tonight I invited the Girl to take a night walk with me. She happily accepted, and slipped on her pink kitten rain boots. We walked up the hill , hand in hand, and she scooped up every dandelion that had gone to seed along the way.  She calls them "wishing flowers," because that's what you do with them. You blow the seeds off of the stem, and make a wish.

Her repeated wish?

That her good friend -- one of my best friend's daughters -- would marry the Boy. She realized a long time ago that if the Boy married this particular little girl, then they would be sisters. Once that little factoid manifested, she was cool with their nuptials.

As we summited the hill, the streetlamps came on, and I announced that it was time to go back down the hill to our house.  The girl turned to me, cheeks flushed, blond pigtails floating in the breeze, and asked, "Can I run home?"

"Yup," I answered. 

And off she ran, hair bouncing and streaming behind her like a contrail from a rocket.  She veered around a curve, disappearing from my sight.  I got a little nervous, but this is what raising kids is, right?  You try and game the scenario a little, so that they aren't in frightening situations.  But you let them go, knowing that you taught them to look before they cross the street.

When I laid eyes on her again, she was feigning sleep in our front yard, curled up against the decorative mini-boulder that hides a pipe. She does this when she wants to be carried up to bed, so I obliged. After slipping her in her pajamas, I tucked her in, kissed her on the cheek, and said good night.

And then she demanded snacks, two stories, four cuddles, and a lullaby.  And I thought the walk would tucker her out.

Friday, April 13, 2012

It's Not Always About Cancer

I was chatting in the hallway yesterday with a co-worker.  Another co-worker, we'll call her Sunshine, arrived to start a meeting with the first guy.  Anyway, she took a look at the necklace I was wearing and said, "I love your necklace.  Is it in honor of your mother-in-law?  Oh, I mean your mother?"
Puzzlement! I couldn't imagine how my necklace would have inspired her to ask that. 

"No," I answered, "it actually represents my oldest son and me.  We were both born in July; these are our birthstones."

"I see.  It does resemble the ribbon, though." (Sunshine does not like to be incorrect.)

"I guess maybe it does," I answered.

And then she and my other co-worker made their excuses and commenced their meeting.  Sunshine didn't say anything particularly wrong (although, it should be noted that she sidestepped saying the word 'cancer' which contributed to my 'Wha?'). 

Anyway, this necklace of mine...  It doesn't really look like a cancer ribbon.  If anything, it looks like two cherries. It's an elongated loop of gold, almost like a cursive capital 'I,' studded with diamonds.  A ruby punctuates each strand of the loop. 

You'd have to look pretty hard to see a cancer ribbon.  And this has made me wonder: is this the lens through which people see me now? As someone who's mother died of cancer? I don't know if I'm okay with that. It's undeniably a part of my identity. We are all made up of our triumphs and tragedies.  But it's not all of who I am.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Love Letter from My Daughter

"Mom, I think that you hate me."

What did I do to deserve such a lovely note? (Though, I should say I applaud her pre-K penmanship and grammar skills.)

This morning, the Boy and the Girl performed their usual morning antics while we waited for the big yellow bus to come scoop the Boy up for school.  By 'antics,' I mean that they both zip around on vehicles of their choosing.  He rides a Spider-man scooter, while she rides a Disney Princess bike equipped with (heavily abused) training wheels. 

They both like to go fast.

They both like to ride the same route.

It was only a matter of time before these preferences resulted in injury.  The Girl sped up the (slight) hill while the Boy raced down.  They clipped each other's handlebars, and he tumbled off the scooter. 

I was hauling plastic garbage bags of yard waste around to the curb (cue: "I Am Every Woman,"), so I saw this all from a few yards away.  I gave him a second to decide if he was hurt. The tears were kind of a tip-off that he decided yes, he was hurt.  Closer inspection revealed scraped palms, a wounded knee,  and a bruised ego.  For the latter, I asked the Girl to apologize.

Now, I didn't want her to apologize because she did anything wrong, but because I am trying to instill a sense of empathy.  When one of my kids hurts another -- accidentally or purposefully -- I want them to be sorry that it happened, and sorry for the hurt the other one feels.  The Little Guy is excused from this since his verbal skills would just confuse the others. Unless he's asking for pizza, goldfish crackers, 'Wiggles,' or 'Scooby Doo,' then he's clear as a bell.

The reason I'm insistent on these apologies is that I've run into (not literally) people who think that apologies are warranted only if they intended to do harm.  Accidents are the universe's fault, so why apologize for those?  If you mow over an old lady to get to the checkout lane that just opened up at the grocery store, well, there's no need to apologize, because you didn't mean to break her hip.

Those people are jerks.

Since I am the boss of my house (well, co-boss), I get to mandate that apologies are offered when injury results from intent OR accidental commission.  And the Girl, well, she has started declaring that she thinks we hate her if we make her do something that goes against her grain.

My response?

"No, honey, I love you, and I want you to grow up and have friends and people who like you and love you.  And if you're unkind to people, you won't have that."

Please don't think I say this beatifically while a short blond banshee wails that we hate her because we didn't give her the 47 pieces of chocolate that she wanted.  No, my calm explanations are at the low points of a dramatic sine wive.  At the zenith?  I usually have to excuse myself from the room so that I can go calm myself down.  And then after we all calm down, there are giggle fits and hugs and kisses.

I don't envy my husband ten years from now, when she's in the thick of puberty and I will likely be in the throes of menopause.

Friday, April 06, 2012

There Is a Man Cleaning My Office Windows

And it's like that scene from Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the one where Tom Cruise (or Ethan Spymaster, take your pick) scales the Burj Khalifa using nothing but a technologically sticky glove AND HIS WITS. Except the window cleaner here is actually using  ropes, pulleys, and this double-suction-cup-attached-to-a-handle thingamabob (we'll call it a DSCATAH, because that trips off the tongue).  Perhaps he is also using his wits, though I don't know that this job requires that. 

The DSCATAH  holds him steady whilst he squeegees away the bird poo.  Anyway, I think Mr. Window Cleaner is working out some issues because he ker-slams the DSCATAH against the window as the he is angry at the window. I'm not sure what the window ever did to him, besides exist.

Jeez, window.  Think of other people sometimes, why don't you?

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Pet Peeve #1

I apologize if this is the nine millionth 'pet peeve' post that I've written. I did my due diligence, by which I mean I typed 'pet peeve' into the search engine in the upper left-hand corner of this blog, and it only returned one blog post.

Between you and me, blogosphere, I don't know how that could be. I routinely hold people accountable for the rules in my head. Where is the vitriol that I believed myself to be spewing? Do I hold myself back?

Meh.  Probably.

Anyway, there is something that cropped up in three different facets of my life recently, and as I am a faithful observer of the Rule of Threes, I took it as a sign.

Okay, so, here goes: I can't stand it when someone basically runs into an obstacle and just kind of announces the problem to someone else. Sometimes it's not even stated as though it is a problem. The stater expects the statee to intuit that a problem exists, and offer a solution to it.

Luckily, this doesn't happen very often in my house. Well, it does with my kids, but I'm beating that out of them.  No, this usually happens in different spheres.  And it just makes me feel like the people unloading their problems are making me do all the work. And then I have shell shock flashbacks to 'group' work in high school in college where the other kids would try and Tom Sawyer me into doing everything.


Not unless there are rewards of Shiraz and Hunan Peking crab rangoon. And since Hunan Peking shuttered about six years ago, you better be packing bottles of the red stuff.