Sunday, June 30, 2013

Around the World--or Summer Drama

     So, I used to be a preschool teacher. I worked at it for about 17 years and I loved it, with the exception of the drama caused by over active personalities and a cheap boss.  With this in mind, perhaps you will understand my need to fill my summer with themed weeks and daily challenges.  This was the kickoff for Camp (insert last name here.)  
     We started off with an Around the World theme, and I went crazy with decorating and planning.  With glee I hung nets and put up tiki decorations for the Polynesian Islands, I pinned an Eiffel Tower and a gargoyle to the window shade for France, ditto with the Opera House and a boomerang for Australia.  The first "challenge" for the theme was a 3 minute skiing challenge over in Switzerland (also known as our elliptical.)
     Yesterday we drank "tropical drinks" from coconuts (I used a Shirley Temple but you could mix it up) and then mosied on over to Mexico for tortillas and salsa.
The kids loved it, and they were thrilled to hear that this morning I was setting up a table over in Paris for the crepes we would be enjoying.  (I should mention here that we have to eat gluten free due to celiac disease, so these are homemade crepes, and not the easiest to make.) 
     Then came the drama.  I made two little paper berets (yes, I am aware Parisiens don't wander around in berets...but I was going for cute.  Sue me.)  Then I mentioned mustaches.  All I said was (in a laughing tone) that for their crepes they would have to wear a beret and a mustache and it was instant pandemonium.  Punkgirl went so far at one point as to call me a jerk, at which point I sent her to her room.  Don't get me wrong--I know it's mean and evil to make them wear a beret and a mustache.  But I won't tolerate sheer off to her room she went. As I pondered why my two usually willing children were suddenly convinced that my ideas were just plain dumb, my husband called them back.  Coffeeguy was livid that I had spent all day the day before coming up with decorations and games and foods on our very limited budget, only to have them oh so rudely throw my idea in my face.  I was pretty pissed too.  
     I got an apology from both, although I am unsure how sincere they were!  Once they were sufficiently chastised,  they sat at the table with the damn berets on, MOSTLY pleasantly, especially after they saw the lovely golden crepes, fancy strawberry jam, bananas, and sugar!  
     We then went to the "Persian Bazaar" (aka the yard sale next door) to haggle, and came back with a few more fun items.  We had tea and scones in England, and all was well.  Dammit.
     Suck at home moms, how do you keep your kids from killing each other? And what are the consequences when they don't appreciate it?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Around the World but Alas, No Zoo

     The zoo was supposed to be free today.  I got up, excited by the prospect. I like to have "themes" in the summer (a habit I formed from 17 years of working as a Preschool teacher/administrator.) This week, the beginning of summer, is "Around the World Week."  The zoo in question has, for just this month, animals from Australia.  Eureka!  Perfect for my theme.
     We woke up anxious to go, hoping to see the joeys and budgies, not daunted by the grey skies that were threatening a little rain.  Not daunted, that is, until the skies opened up and a monsoon came forth.  My heart sank.  Punkgirl would be so disappointed.  I wracked my brain for some indoor activity that would tempt her as much as THE ZOO.  It would have to be something really awesome, and my funds were limited--after all, the zoo was going to be free, so I didn't budget for more than a little gas!  
     I thought and thought, jotting down ideas and sweating a little.  Coffeeguy suggested pedicures, which would have been great, but being notoriously cheap, the value for my money didn't appeal to me.  Ok.  I had two bowling alleys a few towns over that were pretty cheap, one tenpin, one candle pin.  I had the arcade the next town over.  And then there was the mall, right in my town, but again, funds were limited, and Punkgirl is pretty particular about where she spends her time.  I could go from hero to zero in the blink of an eye, and I knew it.
     I hemmed and hawed, and came to Punkgirl with my list, anticipating an angry sulk that we were going to miss the zoo.  I was pleasantly surprised that she was ok with missing the zoo because "I don't really want to get all wet in the rain, so the animals probably won't want to either."  I gave her my choices, mentally calculating the amount I would be wasti--er, spending.  As a last minute throw-in, I mentioned we could go to Pinkberry.  For those of you that don't know, Pinkberry makes fabulously flavored frozen yogurt with a plethora of toppings, ranging from fresh fruit to chopped coconut to mini m&ms.  It's yummy, fairly inexpensive, but no way a replacement for the zoo.  
     Unless you're Punkgirl.  Her eyes lit up, she said "Yes, yes, yes!" before I even finished my sentence, and we were settled.  I asked her if she was sure, and she looked at me as though I had lost my mind.  I made out with spending less than ten bucks!  Thank you Pinkberry, for being magically delicious!
     Now, what about Happyboy?  Well...I'm sorry to tell you that Happyboy was grounded.  Summer is here, so he's testing me to see how I will respond, and yesterday when he told me he would do his chore IF I told him where we were going, and I of course replied "Do your chore and I'll tell you where we're going!" I gave him to the count of 5, which was very generous on my part,...I warmed him that if he didn't do his chore he wasn't going...and once he didn't do as he was told, I had to follow through with my threat.  He wouldn't have gone to the zoo, and he didn't get to go to Pinkberry.  He took it mostly well, even when he thought we were going to the zoo, although he asked me to "take lots of pictures!"  
     Anyway, the zoo was just one of many planned activities.  We are going to go crazy and decorate the house like different countries, eat new foods, learn new words, and do arts and crafts geared around different countries.  I am sure I am looking forward to it more than either Punkgirl or Happyboy!
     Suck at home moms, what do you do to make the summer fun?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Happy birthday to me! And shoe porn.

     Ok, it's been a few days, but today is a special day.  It's my birthday!  I am now officially "in my 40s."  I am not having a mid-life crisis; in fact I am unusually thrilled.  Despite the numerous things I suck at, I rock at birthdays.  This year was particularly awesome because my mother (oooh, she needs a pseudonym! But for now she'll just be Ma) took me shopping and bought me shoe porn! That's right, I said it.  Shoe porn.  I could spend every day looking at different shoes and have no remorse for wasting the time or that people are starving (ok, I'd regret that people are starving, and my money is definitely more likely to go in a collection basket than to actually BUYING the shoes, but if looking at shoes is my greatest sin, I'll take it.) 
     The thing about shoe porn is that the shoes that are hottest are just like porn stars...they're the ones you're least likely to get.  But my mom...ah, that woman...yesterday she bought me these red shoes that I have no place to wear, and it was glorious.  
With three kids, I drool over the reds and the blues and the violets, but knowing that I will only be able to buy one pair of shoes for the year (or two, or three) I opt for the black or the beige, that I can wear with anything.  More often than not that black has to double as a wedding and funeral shoe, and the beige covers everything else.  But red...every woman should own a pair of red shoes, even if it is only to walk around the house in them feeling pretty.  
     I put those suckers on immediately.  And yes.  I feel damn pretty.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Snooty Spoiler (aka The Tooth Fairy)

     How ridiculous is it to have your ten year old look disappointed because there was "only" two dollars in his tooth box (left by the tooth fairy)?  Happyboy was so excited to check today to see if she came (since, being the suckiest tooth fairy ever, she forgot to come the night before) that he asked if I would come into his room with him to check.  I went in, secretly excited that he had "extra" $$ in there...only to see his little pixie face fall when he opened up the folded dollar bills.
     "What's the matter buddy?" I asked him.
     "Well, you friend, she is the most spoiled ever, even by the tooth fairy.  She gets twenty dollars for a tooth."
     TWENTY DOLLARS?  Are her teeth lined with imported diamonds?  Can they be recycled into ruby rings?  What tooth fairy leaves twenty bucks for a ten year old's tooth??  It's not like it's a good investment--it's not even an adult tooth, it's a baby tooth that is almost certain to be disgustingly caked with blood.  You can't wear it, eat it, sell it, or even recycle it.  Does this girl's tooth fairy work for Santa? It's a f%$ing tooth!! 
      I had no choice but to sort of say, "Wow, buddy, that's crazy.  Maybe your friend is exaggerating."  I freaking hope your friend is exaggerating, because if she's not, she's in for some disappointment when she gets her first job in the 7th grade, walking somebody's dog for $5.  "Five bucks?" she'll ask disgustedly.  "I get more than this for a tooth.
     Now, I admit, the tooth fairy in our house doesn't really like inflation, but she has kept up with the times by offering $3 for the front teeth, and $1 for anything else.  Even this, to me, is more than reasonable for something that really is only there to hold a place for real teeth.  I got a quarter for each of my teeth, and I was thrilled.  Ok, ok, a quarter went a lot further back in (harump harump hmmmp), but still--they really don't need to make a living at it!  No wonder kids are ripping the teeth out of their heads the instant they seem loose!  Even when the tooth fairy forgets to come (which, unfortunately has been more than once--she's a lackadaisical sort of tooth fairy and she really ought to have her tooth fairy license revoked, but I guess you get who you get...) she still only leaves an extra .50 or dollar--you know, for emotional damage.
     I refuse to let her be bullied into leaving more.  Isn't there a tooth fairy union against this sort of thing?  Some tooth fairy etiquette that says one tooth fairy shall not leave a ridiculous, exhorbitant amount of money for one child, way outside the bounds of etiquette?  And really, isn't it the child's parent's job, if the tooth fairy is such a snooty spoiler, to admonish her child not to tell everyone that she gets snooty money for one little un-usable tooth?
     Suck at home moms...what does the tooth fairy leave in your house?  And do you have a good one, or a slacker, or a snooty spoiler?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Damn Happy Place

     Dinner time in my house is like a descent into the depths of hell.  The room is hot, thanks to the tiny windows and lack of oven vent, and there are all the noises I imagine would populate the underworld--Punkgirl grunts, Happyboy makes repetitive noises over and over, and Coffeeguy yells at the offending party.  Oh yes--and Rose makes a screechy noise I'm fairly certain is designed to ward off predators.  Someone always leaves the table crying, pissed off, or defeated.
     Now, I know we could just eat in the living room.  But inevitably the tv or music is turned on, the baby cries, the children fight, or we just ignore each other.  It's not the way I want dinner to happen.  As I am cooking, I clean off the kitchen table, envisioning us sitting down discussing our days as we did when the kids were younger.  We would ask them the best and worst parts of their days and tell them ours.  I want that for Rose, to grow up with that tradition, so I cannot tell you how much it depresses and pisses me off that every night ends in a shouting match.
     Coffeeguy has said he doesn't want to eat at the same time as we do, because he spends his entire meal angry that Happyboy won't eat.  Sure, as if I  am going to sit at the table with three kids and no help--I eat a cold dinner every night, alreadythank you, Rose!  Punkgirl doesn't want to eat in the kitchen because everyone is stressed out and that's "the reason I'm grumpy--I know how it ends!"  Happyboy doesn't want to eat anywhere that anyone can see how much he's not eating.
     This is supposed to be my happy place.  This is supposed to be a pleasant gathering.  I don't know why Happyboy refuses to eat his food, or why Coffeeguy gets so stressed out that Happyboy won't eat, or why Punkgirl gets so stressed out that they're stressed out, but it's fu#@ing stressing me out.  I spend all night cooking, and I am determined that I am going to have my damn happy place.  I am going to have conversation and pleasantries, dammit, and I don't care what I have to do to get it.
     To that end, I have resorted to putting signs on the wall.  That's right...signs that say this is my happy place, and you cannot shout, whine, grunt, complain etc.  Feel free to complement the cook, who spent all damn night cooking while Rose watched me like a hawk, making sure I didn't fry that pepper the wrong way.  This is my reward, dinner in a pleasant atmosphere, so read the signs, bitches, and man up.  Put away your sour puss and smile, because Mom's in charge now.
     Suck at home moms---where's your happy place? And how do you get there?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer of Discontent

     About two weeks ago I had a long talk with Coffeeguy about, horror of horrors, my feelings.  Generally when I build up to one of these talks I have so many different things bundled inside that they get sort of garbled, and it becomes the neurotic rantings of a tearful termagant (I like alliteration, so sue me...Sally...)  This time it was a slightly more coherent summation of my current fog, this feeling that I can't find "me", that I belong to no group other than the nuclear family.  While it made me feel so much better just to get it "out there", today I realized just how feeling better doesn't make you all better.
      Granted, Rose didn't sleep well, which meant I didn't, and I have a raging vitamin D deficiency that I keep meaning to do something about.  I tried twice today to cuddle with Coffeeguy on his day off, both of which ended in massive frustration on both our parts when Rose woke early and crying from her nap the first time and Punkgirl called from school for a new set of clothes the second time. So these things could easily make me discontent today....and quite frankly they did make me cranky...but it feels like more than that.  Talking about things didn't change my sense of not belonging.  It didn't help me figure out what lies ahead for me.  Some days (like today) make me feel like I don't even have time to think about what lies ahead.  It's something I have a hard time revisiting with Coffeeguy (I hate sounding like a whiner to him--I can be a whiner here without it "dulling the glow.")
      So here I sit, the summer heat making my physical self as discontent as my emotional one, hoping that I will find my "niche", or that miraculously I will find something that validates me as an individual.  
     I am a good mother, a good wife, a good daughter, and a good sister... even if I suck at some of the details.  But where is the definition of me that doesn't revolve around someone else?  I like meeting some of their needs, and certainly they meet some of mine...but I don't want that to be my epitaph.  
     Suck at home moms, how do you define yourself, after meeting the needs of your loved ones?  Or will "sucky mom" be your epitaph?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lunatic Fringe

     It never ceases to amaze me how impossible it is to just have 10 minutes to myself.  I am not even qualifying that with "when you have kids, when you're married, when it's the weekend."
     There I was, on a Sunday morning, looking to watch a nice marathon of Fringe episodes--the ones I mostly missed when it was on the first time around.  In a span of 15 minutes, Rose needed to be fed, Punkgirl needed to tell me about every single moment of Dance Moms, and Coffeeguy wanted me to read a page-long Rolling Stone article about why Lena Dunham doesn't like to have sex (this last was during one of the episodes i really wanted to see, so needless to say, the article probably wasn't given its fair shake.  I was unimpressed and vaguely annoyed.)  Happyboy got extra super bonus points for sitting quietly in the corner of my room, until I moved into the living room and he proceeded to invade my space by scrunching up against me on the couch, making me squirm like a lunatic as I just wanted to have some time where nobody was touching me.  (I'll post more about being "touched out" later.)
     It's not that I don't want to chat with Coffeeguy, or hear about what interests Punkgirl, or cuddle with Happyboy.  It's not even that I don't want Rose to commandeer a part of my day.  But sometimes, just sometimes, I want to remember who I am, or more accurately, figure out who I am, and it's impossible to do when my every minute is defined by someone else.  
     Now, come on, Sucky Mom, how is watching a show that isn't even on the air any more going to help you figure out who you are? Aren't you just using that as an excuse to say you want time to yourself?  Well, honestly, partly...but in an odd way this show that I watched when I knew my place in the world is like a connection to that person, and when I'm watching it I feel like if I can connect with her, I can find me again.  
     Sounds kind of silly, doesn't it?  But I'm so anxious to find me that silly doesn't deter me in the least.  Coffeeguy turned that connection to my former self back on in the living room, Rose was playing happily on the floor, and Happyboy had just moved over so that I could breathe a little, and I thought, ah, at last, I can watch the show for a few minutes in peace......
     The phone rang.  My nephew in CA, whose call I had felt so terrible for missing the last three times he had called.  Sigh.  We had a great conversation, and I didn't miss the call....but it still sucked.