Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Somebody, jack the Midget. Please!

      For the most part, my oldest is a pretty good kid. He’s a rule nerd at school and on that one day in
kindergarten when he actually got into trouble for talking too much, he was a bucket of tears before we even made it home. But there is one area where he’s got criminal tendencies and much to my dismay, he is a repeat offender. He’s got anger management issues combined with a major need for control. Bad combo. Whenever he’s playing with a friend and they reject his rules, or plans, or plot,
whatever, he gets pissed and if that doesn’t sway them back into his fold, he jacks them. The more he likes you, the bigger the chance you’ll get cold cocked. Not cool little dude, not cool.

This issue started way back on the mean streets of day care, then followed him to preschool, and on and on to the ripe old age of almost 7. I thought we might have licked it. There had been no reports for almost six months, but then, last week I learned I was wrong. 

Here’s how it usually plays out – since he inherited his mother’s bossy tendencies, he lays out the 
game, he gives characters, rules and boundaries. His friends go along until they get tired of being bossed around by a guy that is significantly shorter than them with an abnormally high voice and fierce eyebrows. Eventually, they get tired of him and they rebel and finally tell him “no.” His half-breed Turk/Irish temper flares aaaannnd he jacks them.

Sometimes, if the victim is brave enough, they narc him off in the moment, but most of his friends are easily intimidated by his Turk ways and hold it in until they get home. That’s when I hear about it from the parents. That sucks. There is just no way not to look like an asshole when someone tells you that your kid decked theirs. 

Over the years I’ve read and Googled and tried just about every parent and teacher trick around to put an end to this.  Nothing worked.  My little Dirty Harry simply cannot be contained. My Irish Catholic soul knows that the only way this is really going to end is when someone finally jacks him in return, yet somehow, this is yet to happen. I find this odd, I mean, I mentioned that he’s usually the runt of the pack right? What is wrong with boys today? If a midget jacks you, jack him back I say! But I'm old and spent a lot of years in Philly.  It seems that’s not how these things work here in modern day middle America. 

Thankfully, this last time around the victim was one of his closest neighborhood  buds with a laid back mom. As she told me what had happened in her classy British accent, my face once again turned red with an embarrassment and rage combo. She then added, “We told him just to hit him back, but he seems to think that’s not the right thing to do. So I thought I’d better tell you.” Indeed.

So after the necessary ‘talk-it-out’ between the boys and the ‘apologize without being snarky’ and the ‘accept the apology’ moments, we sent the victim off and I busted out my best Mom- talk.  You know the one, we’ve all either given or received at least once, “I’m so disappointed in you.” “I didn’t raise a bully.” “How would you like it if someone treated you this way?” You know the drill. There were tears but they seemed forced and I didn’t really feel they were sincere so I wound up and socked him with the big finale. “I guess this time I’m going to tell your father so he can take care of this,” which resulted in a meltdown of epic proportions. Desired effect achieved.

I never usually break out the Turk as the final boundary in the punishment realm, not for fear of him going all Midnight Express on the kids, but because he really, really sucks at punishment. He’s the biggest pushover ever. He sees one tear and wusses out. He might be the one who was a commando in the Turkish army, but I’m the bad ass.

In an attempt to build tension and prep the Turk, I held the great ‘talking-to’ off until right before bedtime. The poor kid was a hot mess. So as I got the little one to bed, I sent the Turk in, armed with sentences to regurgitate, ideas to expand upon and a few options for consequences. Then, as any good mother does, I eavesdropped. 

“We need to talk.”

            “Ok Baba.” Tears bubbling in the corner of his eyes.

“Do not hit to your friends.”
            “Ok Baba.” Voice shaky.

“They will not be friends to you if you do.”

            “Ok Baba.” Nervous and waiting for the bomb.

“If you want to hit someone, hit your not friend.”

            “Ok Baba?” Confused and alarmed.

“Just do not get caught. You are Turk. Turks do not get caught.”
            “Ok Baba.” Understanding that he is totally getting off the hook.

“Go brush teeth. Go to bed.”

And that was it. That WAS IT! I probably should’ve seen it coming but I had hopes. 

So the battle rages on and until somebody stoops down and jacks the Midget, I don’t know how it’s going to end. As for the Turk, I’ve got my work cut out for me. This next one isn’t even two yet and I’m going to need real back up with him. We turned his college fund into a bail fund around the time he hit 18 months!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Evolution of the Snow Day

Having spent the majority of my professional life in education, I’ve got some serious knowledge of  snow days. The only time I didn’t have snow days was when I taught in Turkey but there the school year was filled with so many unexpected Islamic and government holidays that I had no idea were coming down the pike, that they were basically like snow days without the ass numbing temperatures and forced agoraphobia. Good times.
Reg and KLG - nice perms

Over the years the anatomy of my snow days has changed drastically. Back in the day, as a frisky young teacher with no one to tie down my restless soul, a snow day was a miracle sent from above. If it was an extra special miracle, the call would come the night before, providing time to trudge out to the corner pub and tie one on safe in the knowledge there would not be 25 hormone-riddled seventh graders awaiting you at 8:00am. If the call came the morning of, it meant that the morning would be spent in jammies with Regis and Kathie Lee while the afternoon bottle of pino chilled in the fridge. After all, nothing makes a snow day more magical than afternoon wine.

Later, as the mother of only one small Turk not yet of school age, snow days took on a new look. Now there was a sassy Midget to entertain and snow to be shoveled. Major suckage. Fortunately, a lengthy afternoon nap was required of a spirited young Turk who’d spent the morning helping Mom shovel out a narrow Philadelphia parking space and three feet of sidewalk. And of course, what does a mother/teacher on a snow day do while her little one naps? Afternoon wine of course.

You take the good, you take the bad...
Then there was my time at a boarding school. You know what sucks about a boarding school? No snow days. There’s no need for a snow day when all the kids and most of the staff live in the same three buildings on campus. Fortunately, we were one of the few families living with the civilians in town so I did get to pull the commuter card once or twice but the thrill just wasn’t the same.

Fast forward to last year, not working and home with a new Nugget and quite happy to now have a full-day kindergartener. The Nugget and I had a groove. We had quality nap time. We had our outings with other crunchy hippy mamas. We had a daily appointment with Dr. Oz. We had a totally full day before that giant kindergartener came home.  We had our groove and we had no time for snow days. Then that bitch, Polar Vortex, came and ruined it all with a complete week of snow days following the two weeks of Christmas break and then even more snow days as a miserable winter lingered on. Suddenly the Nugget and I had a third wheel and that wheel didn’t take naps. Our groove was not busted, it was obliterated until April. Rest assured, there was afternoon wine for sure, but this time it was strictly medicinal.

This brings us to the present. The world of teaching is much like the mafia, just when you think you’re out, they drag you back in. Though I swore I was done with teaching and the entire education field, somehow I got sucked back in. Is it the hours? The kids? The challenge? Who’s to say. One thing is for sure, it’s not the pay but when you have a low paying, high demand job one thing that makes it worthwhile is the fact that occasionally, when it is ass-numbing cold, you get a magic phone call telling you that you are legitimately allowed to take the day off and still get paid. That’s a quality perk.  So now a snow day is not a bust in my groove, it’s a day off again. At least that is what I thought until spending a full snow day with a sassy first grader and a tyrannical  toddler.

Here’s how it played out:  

6:00 – A day off!  I’m filled with joy and hope. Awash in the possibilities.

7:00 - I’m sipping coffee with Elmo while being smeared in oatmeal by toddler hands. Ah, well at least I’m still in my jammies.

8:30 - With the first, “Mom, what do you mean I’m out of computer time already! That’s not fair!” I’m hoping things don’t head south before lunch.  
9:00 - When the Nugget forgoes his morning nap to play with his big brother the concern begins to mount.

11:00 - I’ve already run out of “entertaining projects” for the big one and the little one is cranking because he missed his nap, I’m beginning to wish I’d gone to work. 

1:30 - The Nugget is awakened by his brother’s meltdown over math homework. Since when do first graders do multiplication?   I’ve got a bitter 6 year old, a hostile toddler and I’m desperate to escape. How long could I survive sipping coffee on the deck in -30 weather? I’m about to find out.

2:00 – Scrabble Jr. is not exciting enough.  Now facing the third round of Wii basketball. I despise video games. Where in the hell is my snow day wine? 

3:00- Nearing the 23 hour mark since we’ve left the house. The natives are restless and the wrestling begins. The wrestling is followed by racing though the house until one or both of them crash headfirst into a wall. The Nugget still has stitches from the weekend, if we have to go again I’m sure Child Services will visit. 

4:00 – In a desperate attempt to burn out energy, I pull up Denise Austin on YouTube. We begin to sculpt our buns into steel.

5:00 – The harsh effects of inadequate nappage is taking over the Nugget. Screams. Whines. Tantrum. Sleepy ugliness. Meanwhile the Midget is finally resting his newly steeled buns. Time to make dinner.

6:00 – The Turk returns and has the good sense to not ask, “How was your day?” Still haven’t had wine. 

7:30 – Putting them to bed early. School tomorrow. God willing.  I will have my wine once they sleep.

10:30 – Woke up under a snuggled Nugget. Slept through my wine. Slept through my whole evening. It would’ve been easier just to go to school.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Bummer Summer and Why the Hoosiers are to Blame

School starts for the Midget tomorrow.   At 8:05 tomorrow morning my darling Midget will become a big ole’ toothless 1st grader.  Unlike last year, this year I am only moderately traumatized.  I’m over that whole hump of losing my baby to the world of elementary gang bangers and resigned to life with an almost toddler.  I’ll miss my little sidekick but not gonna lie, it will be nice to catch up on profanity filled Netflix offerings during naptime once again.  I’m over keeping it clean.

 As far as summer-break adventures, The Midget, The Nugget and I have had some fab ones: from hiking every nature preserve we could find to various picnics in sculpture gardens, from Colts training camp to Lego camp and a million things in between.  We even let the Turk join us for a few weekend adventures and while festive times were had by all, our excursions were marred by one thing- they were in Indiana and from what I’ve ascertained thus far, Hoosier summers are total bummers.  After two and ¼ summers in the land of the happy Hoosiers, I have drawn the conclusion that Indiana just can't do summer.  Sure, they might blame the Polar Vortex this year but personally, I blame the Hoosiers.

The Hoosiers’ obvious summer impairment is its utter lack of water.  No sea.  No ocean.  No lakes.  Ok, they do have partial custody of that tiny corner of Lake Michigan but that totally doesn’t count because it’s so small.  When you’ve spent a few summers on the beaches of the Aegean Sea and down the Jersey Shore going landlocked is rough.  I can’t totally blame geography on the Hoosiers, but they do take an odd pride in it.

Then there is all the car racing.  Maybe that’s a plus if you like a world bursting with testosterone filled cars
driving in circles, but not this broad.

But the biggest issue is the weather- it sucks.  It sucks and it’s schizophrenic.  It might be hot in the morning and snowing by dinner.  Or the sun is shining and three seconds later the tornado sirens are blowing.  And don’t even think about checking the forecast, they are chronically inaccurate verging on daily dead wrong.

We moved here during mid-August two years ago and it was so hot you could not even step outside without sweat pooling in your butt crack.  Our lawn was a permanent shade of brown and don’t even get me going on the humidity. Last summer was a blur as I was a pregnant whale up until the end of July so even if it was 32 and snowing I would have considered it sweltering.  After I popped out the Nugget, it went immediately from sweltering to sweater weather then back to buttcrack-sweat-hot again every other day until mid-September.  But this summer has been the worst.  We’ve had about 5 good pool days and none of them within the same week.  Our average temperature has been around 79 all summer long and today, mid freakin’ August, I am wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt as I watch the thermometer struggle through the 60’s?  What the hell is that?

Why complain about perfectly acceptable weather you ask?  Because with fair weather comes high expectations and as far as I’m concerned, summer is supposed to be a time of very, very low expectations.  Like sitting on one’s ass and sipping cool beverages under the guise of avoiding heat stroke for three glorious months.  For those of us who need an excuse to be lazy without guilt, the Earth gave us summer.  

“Mom, can we go to the playground?” – “No dear.  It’s too hot.  You’ll burn your ass on the slide and we will die of heat stroke.”

“Mom, will you kick the soccer ball around with me?”  - “No dear.  It’s too hot.  We will die of heat stroke.  Best if we just have another ice pop and check in on Sponge Bob for a few more hours.”

“Mom, can we go for a picnic?” –“Afraid not dear.  The grass is so dry they closed the parks.  The grass has heat stroke.”

“Honey, are we having watermelon for dinner again?”  -“Yes Darling.  It was just too hot to fire up the oven.  We might all get heat stroke.”

Trip to the amusement park? – Nope.  Heat stroke looms.

Walk through the neighborhood?  Mid-afternoon hike? Exercise out doors?  No, no and no.  Those activities must wait until long after the heat of summer is gone.

Unless of course you live in Indiana and the heat of summer didn’t even bother to show up.  Thanks to the Hoosier Vortex, instead of sitting on my sweating ass, sipping a beverage and avoiding all active parenting, I have spent my entire summer hiking with a Nugget tied to me, jogging countless miles behind a Midget on a bike and cooking full, hot meals every damn night.  In short, busting my ass without a single day of heat induced laziness.  Not cool Mother Nature.  Not cool.

So sure, it’s been calm and gorgeous.  I’ve saved hundreds on my air conditioning bills.  And yes, it’s been nice to spend a summer without my thighs chafing and without sweating through a couple pair of Hanes Her Ways in a day.  But I’m an old mom with young kids and I was really banking on a break from all the trips to the playground and all the fun and festive outdoor adventures.  Not this year.  Not in Indiana.  Perhaps it’s all global warming coming to bite us in the ass.  Perhaps it’s the beginnings of the next Ice Age.  Or perhaps it really is connected to the Polar Vortex or her ugly cousin El Nino.  I’m not a meteorologist so I can’t say, but even if I were, I’d still blame the Hoosiers.  Somehow, I know my bummer summer is all their fault.  Damn Hoosiers.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Might Just Suck At Parenting...

When you have a kid that doesn’t sleep, you start to draw the conclusion that it’s your fault and thus, you
suck at parenthood.  I’ve been in this mode of suckage for about eleven months, three weeks and six days.  You see, the Nugget does not sleep.  Ever.  He’s almost a year old and I can count on one exhausted hand how many times he’s made it even halfway through the night.  It’s not really a shock because the Midget never slept either. Naps do occasionally happen but a schedule?  Ah hells no.  Most nights are so horrific I can’t even discuss it without beginning to tremble like Coco from Fame circa ‘80. 

Suffice it to say, I’m tired.  And cranky.  So very, very cranky.  But aside from giving him a little booze in his bottle, what can you do?  And as my luck would have it, Nugget is a boob man and wouldn’t dream of taking a bottle.

This crappy-ass sleep pattern that somehow pops up in my offspring is one of the reasons there is a five year span between these brothers.  See, being a geriatric mother as I am, I was not willing to risk doing another three to five with no sleep. When I got knocked up with the Nugget everyone reassured me that “the second child always knows their place,” and “the second child always just goes with the flow, it will be much better this time.”  Well that was a load of crap. 

Thanks to my little insomniac, I’ve got lots of time in the wee hours of the night to ponder my parenting
inadequacies and to Google.  Bad combo.  I’m a Nancy Drew by nature.  I need answers.  I need explanations and I am prepared to Google until I know exactly why these children born to two parents who are big fans of bedtime, despise it so. Help me Google, you are my only hope.

Aside from their shared genetics, the only other shared factor are their parents -The Turk and me. They didn’t share the same crib, the same home or even the same country of origin.  There is nothing about the first year in the life of my little Turks that is similar except their parents. With this information, the wizards on Google's massive list of mainstream parenting blogs and websites have drawn the conclusion that we are to blame.  We suck at parenting.  Damn.

If I am to believe all that I’ve read- and of course I do because everyone knows that there is only absolute truth on the interweb- every child sleeps in his own bed all night long from the age of 2 months onward and if they don’t, you suck at parenting.  If you allow your children to sleep in your bed, they will die and you suck at parenting.  Additionally, every other child responds positively to all methods of sleep training  and if you don’t train them, you suck at parenting. 

I also learned that I suck at parenting because I refer to my children as Turdnuggets and Buttheads and because I don’t buy a lot of organic crap. (Though I will admit that I’ve recently started buying some organic crap because I’ve been watching too much Dr. Oz.) 

I suck at parenting because I don’t always say no to Dunkin’ Donuts and in times of extreme stress and trauma – like after a trip to the dentist- I medicate with McDonalds.

I suck because I expose them to the news and far worse than that, Honey Boo Boo.

Mostly, I suck at parenting because my children never sleep and when they do it’s rarely in their own beds.

But there are things that the parenting experts on the interweb don’t cover and those more important things are the ones at which I totally rock and I feel some points should be given for that.

For instance, by the age of 3, the Midget was fluent in class A profanity in two languages– though just the PG 13 words like ass and damn – even I have the good sense to reserve the big ones for adolescence.

Thanks to my stellar parenting, my offspring have the good sense to laugh at fart jokes and point out the fact that peaches often look like butts.

My parenting has taught the Nugget, at only 11 month, to flash a spot on “Whach you talkin’ ‘bout Willis” face and to flash his dimples and grin when his ass is on the line.  

Recently, I’ve also seen great signs of appropriate use of obscene gestures while stuck in traffic coming from the Midget.

Thanks to my parenting skills, my son knows to take off his shoes before stepping on the doctor’s scales in order to spare himself an extra pound.

And nothing warms my heart more than when my oldest corrects his own grammar, and often that of the Turk.  That’s all me world.  All me. 

But yesterday it all came to a head.  Just when I was getting down about this whole sleep thing and beginning to think I’d really blown this parenting gig, my 6 year old came running up to me with two pendulous avocados in a container and said- “look mom, boobs” – I beamed with pride as I laughed myself to the verge of wetting myself.  That moment of comedic brilliance alone was proof that I don’t suck at parenting after all.    

So perhaps my kids don’t sleep.  Ever.  Perhaps they are clingy and scared of their own beds.  Big whoop.  
They are freaking funny and in the grand scheme of the world, being a funny guy gets you a lot farther than being a good sleeper.  Who ever made enough money to care for their elderly mother sleeping?  No one, that's who.

Suck on that interweb parenting experts!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Song of the Fat Runner

I started running about 18 years ago.  It was a shock not only to society, but to myself as well.  Up until that point the only type of run in which I was known to partake involved a liquor store.  But somewhere around the end of grad school I took up real running.  Not because I wanted to become athletic, nor because I wanted to get the upper-hand on that heart disease gene, no, I started running because I was fat.  Really fat. And after a little number crunching it became clear that the best way to shed some pounds quick was to hit the pavement and if there’s anything a good old red blooded American chub wants, it's a quick fix.  It worked. I lost a ton.  Ok, not a whole 'ton' but it felt like a 'ton'.  But more than that, I learned to love running.  I loved it so much I kept on running just like Forest Gump.

There are a lot of reasons to love running.  Personally, the big ones for me were to burn lots of calories so I wouldn’t feel guilty about that extra glass of merlot, a firmer butt and that unspoken sense of superiority that comes with running. 

Back then I had very strict rules for my running.

1.  I run alone.  Don’t suggest that we go running together because it’s not going to happen.  That is my time to clear my head and let my wind just totally wander. This rule was hard and fast for one real reason - I was fat when I started and have been varying degrees of chubby for the past 18 years. Ain’t no way I was ever going to share the sound of my wheezing and thighs slapping together with anyone.

2.  I don’t do races.  To be honest, 5Ks and Color Runs weren’t so cool back then but even if they were, refer to the wheezing and thigh situations mentioned above and it’s clear why I chose to never participate.

3. I can stop and walk whenever I want, guilt free and still call it running.  My sport, my rules.

But that was all before The Midget, The Nugget and the Turk. I’ve had to take a few breaks from running in recent years.  First when living in Turkey.  My father-in-law told me that no self-respecting Turkish girl would be seen running just for sport, and thus I should not run in public either.  “Women do not make sport like that here Margaret.  That is for Americans.  You will get robbed.  You will be killed.  No running here.”  He had a flare for the dramatic, but as a stranger in a strange land, I gave the angry little sultan what he wanted and I walked instead.  Upon repatriation I took up running again but those years off made it rough. And by rough, I mean the wheezing and thigh slapping reached new decibels.

I stopped again exactly one year and ten months ago when I got knocked up with The Nugget.  I know, I know, there are those women who tell you to keep on running up to delivery but to that I say – screw off.  That little gift of getting knocked up was a nine month excuse to rest free of guilt and though I may have become Sporty Spice 18 years ago, I still got fat girl roots.  And thus I simply said, "pass the ice cream and the Netflix."

My 9 month hiatus lasted a little longer than I’d hoped after my twelve year old orthopedist decided the only way to get this old gal running again was a surgery usually reserved for those who make a career in Nikes and nylon shorts rather than chubby moms in clogs and baby slings.  But I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Now after knee surgery in November, I’m finally back up to running in June.  Kind of.

18 years ago after the big shed, I ran daily.  I cranked up the Metallica and hit the pavement for 40 minutes of me-time. It's not nearly that easy anymore.

First, get the Midget on his bike, adjust his training wheels, make sure his helmet is actually on his giant head. Next, get the Nugget in the jog stroller, ply him with snacks and things to chew on.  Make sure everyone is momentarily happy and twenty minutes later, we hit the pavement.  Two steps in, stop to argue about whether it is better to go left out of the driveway or right.   Two minutes after that, stop to fix a bike seat. Too high.  Three steps later...nope, too low.  Three minutes after that the Nugget needs a snack refill and we’re off again.  Thirty seconds later, stop to pick up a sippy cup that has been thrown out of the stroller. Off we go...wait, was that a teething ring that just flew by?  And we're off again, until we see a maimed butterfly. And on and on for the next forty-five minutes.

Years ago I rocked some sweet spandex , brand new running shoes and stylish t-shirts.

Now I rock a giant knee brace, running shoes with grass-stains from the last time I mowed the lawn and anything that will cover giant jiggling nursing boobs and ass cellulite.

Years ago I would feel the burn in my lungs and the cramps in my legs, but the desire for a tighter butt and Beyonce-like thighs would energize me to push on.

Now my Beyonce-like thighs would be covered in spider veins so who needs them?  But when I feel the burn in my lungs and the cramp in my legs and am ready to stop,  a giggling baby in the stroller wanting to keep chasing the maniac on a Lightening McQueen bike pushes me on.

Years ago I had different playlists for different days of the week to drive me through.

Now I keep pace to my own heavy breathing and the flapping of my miscellaneous body parts.

In short, it ain’t pretty but I’m out there.  Such is the song of the chubby runner. No matter how things have changed, I’m still out there and I’m out there because I love it.  I’ve never been a good runner.  I’ve never been a pretty runner and even when I was at my peak form I was still a fat runner but I was running.  And as that t-shirt says, “I may be slow, but I’m still ahead of you.”

Damn strait.  I may be huffing and puffing and limping when I’m done, but after all these years,  this fat girl is still at it and that's miles ahead of anybody sitting on the sofa.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Neck Waddles and Why Forever 21 Can Suck It

Nora Ephron said it first, “I feel bad about my neck.”  A few years ago I had inkling as to what she meant but in the past week, I full on feel what ya Nora.  After we hit the big 4-0, we spend a good hunk of the time just rolling along, feeling like a teenager with a better brain trapped in a body that is beginning to sag, yet other times the world decides to make it painfully clear just how damn old we have become.   I’ve had one of those, “Damn girl, you gettin’ old” kind of weeks. 

It started with a selfie.  I’m not a fan and prefer to leave those to the Kardashians and other self-absorbed individuals.  Occasionally though, one really does need
to show the world just what an awesome thing is going on in your life.  Often you find yourself without a photographer nearby, or in my case, my companion has yet to develop the ability to stand upright so therefore he’s not much of a photographer.  My only choice to record the moment seemed to be via selfie.  So I bit the bullet and snapped a self-portrait.  Ok I totally snapped like 50, but when I took a gander at my work, there, glaring at me in every single photo was a neck like the underside of a Thanksgiving turkey.  I have a full-on waddle.  My, “Hey Girl,  you are 42 and you have yoyo dieted a bit too often so gravity is bringin' on the neck sag” waddle.  I tried angle after angle but alas, that waddle was impossible to hide.  I now totally understand why selfies are taken from above but unfortunately, I lacked the coordination for that.  It became immediately clear that I will need to milk this whole scarf trend for the next 10 – 15 years.  I also vowed to never selfie again without a scarf or a child hiding my waddle.  Suck it waddle.

And that was Monday.  On Tuesday I finally went in to get my glasses readjusted after the all the glory of my pregnancy-induced perfect eyesight was finally gone.  I knew I needed an adjustment because I suddenly couldn't see a damn thing and had begun reading at arms length.  I’ve worn glasses since the 7th grade.  I don’t need them 24/7 so I’m cool with it.  What I wasn’t cool with was the fact that the eye doctor was 12.  Maybe he was 13, but I’m pretty sure he was 12.  When he then told me I needed bifocals, I called him a young whippersnapper, beat him over the head with my pocketbook, grabbed my walker and made for the door before he could call security.   “Don’t feel bad Ma’am (Seriously?  Ma’am?  Watch it Bucko.)  Most people need a little help with reading close up in their mid 40’s.  You’re just a little early.”  Suck it Junior.

By the time Wednesday rolled around I nearly kissed the girl at Trader Joe’s who tried to refuse to sell me
beer because I’d misplaced my ID.  (Misplacing incredibly important things happens both with age and with a baby so I’m not sure which to blame it on but I’ll feel younger blaming it on the baby so there we go.)  Clearly the baby tied to me in my hippy baby-sling did nothing to paint me as a responsible adult.  I offered up a waggle of my waddle but she claimed that sagging body parts were not acceptable forms of identification at that establishment.  Not wanting to seem too Betty Ford in my need to purchase the booze, I finally gave up when she smirked, “Oh who am I kidding?  You’re obviously well over 21.  I’ll just push it through this time, but you really should find your ID.”  “Well over 21?“ Suck it Missy.

When Thursday yielded a trip to the mall in search of some costume items for a show I’m currently designing (for those two or three of you who are not devoted readers, I’m a costume designer by trade – don’t get excited.  It’s so not as fab as it sounds, especially in Indiana.) Anyhoo, it didn’t even occur to me that it would be so dangerous, nearly deadly, for a woman of my advance age to enter Forever 21.  I could go on and on about the terror I felt as I went through row upon row of crop tops and booty shorts, but I can’t recount it without medication so I ask you to use your imagination.  Suffice it to say that by the time I got to the rear of the store, I’m certain that I heard a rack of sequined micro minis whisper, “Gurl, this is Forever 21 – and you ain’t been 21 in Forever!  Get yo 42 year old ass outta here.” Suck it micro minis – may a fat girl buy you and stretch you beyond capacity.

I’ve been in my 40’s now for two years but this is the first time I’ve really felt old.  I guess because I spent most of 40 and 41 pregnant and with a new baby.  That combo makes you feel miserable no matter if you are 19 or 40.  Now that our new reality is settling in, I guess it’s time to face up to it.  I’m old.

People always say parenting tiny kids is for the young.  But truth be told, 90% of the time I don’t really feel old.  God knows I have the maturity of a 12 year old boy and in 30 years, that seems to have remained steady.  Sometimes I do think I have more aches and pains.  My back has pretty much been in a constant state of ache since I got knocked up, but I do have a child attached to me 24/7 and unlike the first time I did this, this baby is fat.  Really fat.  So maybe it’s that and not age.  When I hang with other moms over the age of 30, I don’t feel old.  I feel like we’re all pretty much rowing down the same crap-creek and doing the best we can.  I just have a waddle and theirs are only beginning to bloom.  One thing I do know for certain is that I wouldn’t trade my ‘advanced maternal age’ for anything.  I knew young me and I know me now and without a doubt, this me is the only one I would want in charge of rearing children. 

So it seems the only thing to do is exactly what so many women have done before me:  put on a scarf, read bedtime stories through my bifocals and keep enjoying every moment of it because in 20 years, I’ll look back at these baby photos and wonder at how young I look.

Monday, March 17, 2014

When Leprechaun Meets Turk, Turk Will Win

Dear Parents,
There is a leprechaun loose in our classroom and we need to catch him!  Please spend the next two weeks building a trap to catch the leprechaun with your student.  Remember to use problem solving skills and logic.  Make sure the traps are returned to school by Friday March 14th.  We’ll set the traps in all of the kindergarten classrooms over the weekend and hopefully catch him by St. Patrick’s Day.  

Seriously?   This is the kind of assignment that makes a parent cringe and maybe drop a few bits of low-
grade profanity.  But maybe that’s just in our house.  You want me to spend two weeks on a project with my 5 year old?  And what is this “logic” of which you speak?  I’m supposed to depend on 5 year old logic to build a trap for a small imaginary person which you have now convinced him is real?   Damn these newbie  teachers without enough experience to know this is dumb and without enough bitterness to make them too lazy to assign such a project to a bunch of 5 year old and their parents. 

Having long worked in education, I guarantee that of those projects that were returned to  school last Friday– at least a handful of kids had no projects as two weeks gives a parent more than enough time to totally space the project off and completely forget about it.  Those returned could be divided into three distinct categories: those done entirely by control freak parents without the patience to enlist the assistance of their child, those done completely by unsupervised kindergarteners and those, like ours, that began with the best intentions but quickly whirled out of control.

Though I am pretty darn Irish, and having spent the past 42 years receiving shamrock themed birthday wishes the day before St. Paddy’s Day, I’d never heard about trapping a leprechaun.  But I was willing to go with it.  The Midget and I did some brainstorming and we figured the best thing to do was start with a well decorated box and then turn it over to the Turk, who is an engineer, to handle the mechanics of trapping.  True to all stereotypes, the Mom-led decorating was complete on day one and the Baba-led mechanics wasn’t completed until twenty minutes before bedtime the night before it was due.

Though we’d discussed it extensively at the dinner table in the days leading up, this was all lost on the Turk when it was made clear that final evening that he had no idea what a leprechaun was.  While the Irish love to vacation in Turkey and a few of us fools even love to marry Turks, it seemed leprechauns never made their way to Turkey.  After a little Googling, when the Turk was clear on his target, he went to work while the Midget assisted him by standing on his head, releasing intermittent bursts of methane and occasionally whining.

Though assistance was offered, Rambo-Turk refused, preferring to take the lone wolf approach.  Cardboard flew, tape torn and rope was woven as the Turk ran in and out of the garage.  At one point he was out on the driveway smashing a brick to get the perfect size and sharpness of brick.  Through it all, the Midget remained in his farting headstand.  Finally, as he wiped sweat from his brow, the Turk declared, “It is done.  You see, he go in, trips the string, rock falls on his head, this sharp part cuts his neck.  He is dead.  We got him.” 
Horror washed over the faces of both the Midget and me.   “Baba, you can’t kill him.” 

“But you say trap.”

“Yes, Honey.  Trap the leprechaun.  Then they can let him go out in the woods.”

“Ha!  Like stupid No-Kill mouse trap?  No.  What is the point of that?”

“But Baba….” I quickly sent the Midget off to the bath tub to save him from a night of dead-leprechaun themed nightmares and turned my attention to the Turk.

“What is wrong with you?  This is a kindergarten project.  You can’t kill the pretend character.”

“Why not?  I wanted to build so when he go in, knives come in sides and ….whoosh…off his head.”

As I looked at the excitement in the eyes of my dear husband, the man I love, the father of my children, all I could respond was, “You are a freak.”

“No.  I am Turk.  In Turkey if you catch and set free, it come back to kill you.  That why you kill it first.”
And having lived there and recounting the great wild boar hunt of '07, I understood.  Completely.  To my Turk, being charged with catching a small mythological Irishman was no different than when he and his friend were charged with saving their parent's summer homes from a pack of wild boars some crazy woman had spent the winter feeding and now were threatening to eat the children. (True story.  I can't make this crap up.)  We'd asked him for a trap and a trap is exactly what we'd received.

Touche’ my Turk

The next morning we did instruct the Midget that when he explained his trap to the class, it was best to just point out that the rock would not kill the leprechaun, but rather only  knock him out and close the door.  Then they were free to whisk the little amnesiac  out into the woods and set him free.  The Midget, knowing his classmates well, agreed that this was the best approach too.  These little Hoosier kids are just not ready for Turkish life lessons yet.