Thursday, March 28, 2013

Just Call Me June...

In my mind, I’m June Cleaver with a few extra pounds, sensible shoes and a bit of a potty mouth.  I keep a nice house and Ward comes home to a healthy home cooked meal every night.   Ward and the Beaver have never had to suffer through frozen pizza or dinner of unnaturally orange macaroni and cheese (though I’ve have requests) and on the weekends, the Turks get homemade desserts and quite often, handmade bread.  I know, I know, as a highly educated woman my age raised  in the age of feminism, I am not supposed to  regress in such a manner, but to hell with that nonsense, (I told you June had a potty mouth) I really enjoy cooking and I really enjoy doting on my boys.  Besides, I think they both know this can’t go on forever, so they might as well enjoy it before Mom rebels. 

My biggest June-like weakness, aside from Halloween, which isn't really about making a kick ass costume for the love of my son, but for the love of blowing the minds of the other kids, is birthdays.  If my dear little Midget makes a request, I do my best to honor that.  Now don’t think for a moment that I am going to throw out big bucks on a party complete with pony rides and dancing clowns.  Ah hells no.  I may be a fool but at the end of the day, I am cheap.  Really cheap.  If I can’t make it, it can’t happen.  Lucky for him, after almost 20 years working in theatre, there isn't much his mom can’t make one way or another without a little dramaturgy and some consultation with my team of theatre professionals- aka besties.

 This year I decreed it was time to finally give in and have the dreaded "kid party".  So next week, a team of 4 and 5 year old boys and myself will be exploring the ways of the Jedi as they swing pool noodle light sabers through my living room and devour a cake made to look like Darth Vader’s head.  We’ll be pinning the ears on Yoda and running obstacle courses in the hopes of getting promoted from padawans to full on Jedi Knights.   And in typical June Cleaver fashion, I’m already prepared a week early.  But what I wasn't prepared for were the school treats.  Why not?  Because the Midget and I had totally different ideas on what those treats would be.  

Perhaps for kids, the most important element of the birthday celebration, after the presents, are the school treats.   Think about it, who didn't love to strut the classroom catwalk handing out awesome cupcakes to a room full of drooling classmates who had been waiting for a sugar high all day long?  In years prior, the Midget was too young to have an opinion so I just made whatever I thought was adorably fab and festive and he basked in cupcake glory offered up by small people feeling the effects of sugar and Red Dye #5 filled icing.  This year however, he’s turning  5 and anyone familiar with the workings of 5 year olds knows they have more opinions than their geriatric counterparts, the 80 year old. 

Due to the calendar this year, the Midget’s birthday happens to fall on Easter Sunday.  I was excited by the prospect of sending a charming, yet uncomplicated, Easter-themed treat.  I’d created an entire Pinterest board filled with bunny-butt cookies and egg-shaped cake pops.  I’d even drooled over the pastel sprinkles I would surely use on my bunny butts.  In a world void of pastels and all things feminine, a mom longs for a moment of legitimately utilizing lavender and pink. 

As I broached my choices with the Midget I was immediately met with a –
“No way Mom.  It’s my birthday, not Easter.”  

I tried to explain that, in fact, it was both but he wasn’t having it.  “I want Chewbacca cupcakes and if I can’t have Chewbacca, I think it should be JarJar Binks.  Maybe Jango Fett but definitely not bunnies.”

 For three weeks I tried.

"Isn’t this one cute?”

“No.  It’s girly.  I really want Star Wars.”

“How about this one?  Look, it’s his butt – a bunny butt!  It’s hilarious!”
“No.  That’s for Easter.  This is my birthday.”

And then it hit me.  I’d done just what I’d hated my entire life.  For the majority of my childhood, for every birthday I had a shamrock cake.  I got shamrock cards, had shamrock napkins, shamrock plates and I took some variation of a shamrock cupcake to school every single year.  When you’re born into an Irish family the day before St. Patrick’s day, you don’t get much choice.  The one year I dreamed of a Barbie cake and finally got one even that poor skinny bitch with the big rack had to wear a green dress adorned with shamrocks.  My dad used to take me for a Shamrock Shake every year as a special treat (I freakin’ despise Shamrock Shakes but I never let on) and even as a grown up in Philadelphia, every single year someone would give me those nasty Irish Potato candies.  It was rough and I never had the nerve to say a word, but clearly my offspring was not the same.

So last night after a long day of work I set to making Chewbacca cupcakes with two different kinds of chocolate fur icing and all the details Chewbacca might demand.  They took hours and within those hours my darling Midget was most likely exposed to more profanity than recommended by the National Academy of Pediatrics.  “This is it!  Next year we’re buying the *$&@*#*$#&* cupcakes!”  Were they perfect?  No.  Hardly an exact rendering of our furry friend but the Midget was elated.   And in the end, isn’t that why June Cleaver was perennially perky and why she scoured her pans to a shine and mastered a delectable pot roast?  Because it made her boys happy and in turn, she was happy?   I’m with you on that June.

So my apologies Sheryl Sandberg, I will not be relaxing on my family duties so I can Lean In, right now, rather  I will be leaning in to what I love, my family.   Because no paycheck in the world can replace the hug and kisses that came from a plate of Chewbacca cupcakes – no matter how long they took to make.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I See Stupid People

As I am about to descend further over the hill this week, I felt it only appropriate that I take a moment to offer a standard Old Lady Rant.  Please read this in an elderly voice while shaking your fist in a hostile, geriatric style.  Here goes –

People of the world, we have a problem.  Perhaps my intolerance is just a consequence of my rapid aging as I’m mere days away from hitting the big 4-1 and admittedly, my tolerance of mankind has decreased in a manner as would be expected of a cranky old lady.  Though I will take these factors into consideration, I don’t truly believe I can place all blame upon my early geriatric state.  People of Earth, we have an epidemic that is sweeping, not only this country, but this world as well and if something isn’t done soon we definitely face uncertain doom.   I’m not speaking about the epidemic of obesity – thought it certainly could be connected- nor am I waving the warning flag in reference to an impending zombie apocalypse.  The pandemic at hand is a wide-sweeping case of mankind’s utter stupidity.  The amount of stupidity taking over this world seems to have grown exponentially in recent years and at this rate it is virtually impossible to see hope on the horizon.  Yes, I understand that this is what one would expect to hear from a near senior like myself, however, outings to anywhere groups of individuals congregate, a quick scan of YouTube or a check of the news immediately validates my case – everywhere you look, the world is filled with stupid people.   

Each day that I venture out into society I observe at least 20 acts perpetrated by other adults that make me say – “Now that was stupid.”  From the woman sharing the intimate details of her life- and menopause- at top volume while on a first date at Starbucks (click here for a play by play) to the mother on the playground so busy texting that she doesn’t see her toddler hanging by an arm from the 8’ slide depending on the rest of society to save her offspring.  Then there was my stupidity filled weekend earlier this month at Dinofest which included the parents who abandoned their 18 month old in the bouncy castle with 25 four year olds as they went to grab lunch and the father who stood at the entrance of the event holding tiny infant in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other.  And the winners, the series of parents who placed their children atop the triceratops sculpture and photographed their little darlings with feet dangling over the sign reading, “Do not sit on or near the dinosaur.”  

  And of course we have the antics of YouTube: teenage boys smashing gallons of milk in grocery aisles and then posting the video and calling it “Milking” all in an attempt to replace the trend of “Planking” when idiots put themselves into precarious situations to lie stiff as a board. (PS boys, this old girl has “milked” a time or two in her day and it sure as hell wasn’t that easy!)    

And while we’re counting up stupid people and stupid antics, we cannot overlook the entire Kardashian franchise – because selling your family out based upon your daughter’s porn tape is about the precipice of stupidity, and lets not forget Justin Biber and far too many more to name.  It seems that stupidity is currently an immediate ticket to fame.

Flip on the news and there are even grander feats of stupidity overtaking society.  The protester at a recent gun show who accidentally shot himself while toting the simplicity of gun safety.  The mother of 2 who went on her first trip out of the US, traveled alone and booked a room in a dingy hostel in a section of Istanbul my Turk won’t even visit, and was later found dead.  And then there are the countless tales of people sharing their most intimate details and daily comings and goings on Facebook and blogs only to later fall victim to crime perpetrated by a perfect stranger to whom they’d given their schedule.  And most recently, the 13 hour Rand Paul filibuster-fest and Marco Rubio’s quoting of pot-loving rapper Wiz Khalifa on the congressional floor.  

Everywhere I look, I see stupid people doing stupid things and this old lady just can’t take it anymore.
But is it really that stupidity is taking over or is it that people were always this stupid and now thanks, to  technology, we are more privy to the stupidity of others?  
While I do think technology has given us this luxury, I truly believe people are growing more stupid by the moment.  We live in a world where people want to behave like children, or worse, behave like they did before they had children and when something goes wrong they want to blame anyone or anything but their own lack of common sense.

So what’s a sane human to do in times like these?  The choices are slim I fear.  At my increased age, I must be careful not to get all riled up as I run the risk of heart failure.  While drinking to avoid society is a nice thought, it’s rough in practicality and as the Turk recently noted, by repeatedly pointing out these random acts of stupidity and allowing these moments to get me, I’m losing to the stupid.  

So I’ve developed a few simple steps for self-preservation and these I offer to you.

 -Avoid Walmart at any cost.  That 5% you might save will only later need to be spent on either therapy or attorney fees.

-Avoid public gatherings and if forced to go and faced with stupidity, point out the action and offer a harsh dressing down in an obscure foreign language – I go with Turkish but you do whatever works for you- it gets your opinion out and makes you feel highly superior.

- Avoid reading any and all responses to online articles as about 10 out of 12 of those are stupid, posted by hostile trolls who only read a portion of the article and feel their counter-point or hostile opinion is important to share with cyber-society. 

-Avoid anything with the name Kardashian attached to it – that unfortunately includes large chunks of the E! network.  

-Avoid over-sharing and stupidity shared by distant friends, relatives and acquaintances on Facebook by simply blocking them.  You get one chance with me.  If you post something racist, hateful, stupid or dealing with your personal bodily functions – you’re gone.  I do not care if you’ve been constipated for 4 days, some things are meant to be kept private for God's sake people! 

-Avoid Facebook and the internet during political elections, world catastrophes, weekends and late nights.  That seems to be when the stupidity flows best.

I fear that we cannot stop this epidemic, as it seems to have already taken hold of so many, but we can do our best to protect ourselves.  So go out there and hold your head high and look at the bright side, spending time with stupid people makes you look like a genius.