My ten-year-old creative boy reminded me that it was time to get his birthday party invitations sent. As always, he opted to create his own invitation. He had the perfect picture – a monkey in dreadlocks. Cute. He prepared most of the invitation, and then I finished it off. He diligently printed them, and put them in large white envelopes, for distribution later at school. My husband and I both looked at that invitation and thought it looked pretty good. Here’s the funny monkey picture our minds were seeing.
But here’s the monkey picture that was actually in the invitation.
Oh S *#@!!
How could that happen? I thought I’d been such a good mom to get those invitations out so quickly. Holy Crap.
Fortunately only one got distributed (I’ll have to call his mother!) – the backpack was being held hostage at school because of a power outage, and thank God, the rest of the invitations were held hostage too.
Thanks to his big sis noticing the monkey’s unfortunate activity in the pic (as she laughed her ass off), we get a re-do, hopefully avoiding irate parents, and the school principal calling to tell me that my kid will be going to alternative school for the rest of the year.
Another testament to the fact that parents are required to have all-seeing eagle eyes, seeing everything – even the things so obvious you can’t miss!
In the past, when anyone asked if my kids were on select sports teams, I would shake my head and say, “Just call me a bad mom, but I’m not interested in giving up my life to a sports team”. Of course, I always maintained that if one of my kids had a serious passion for playing a game, I’d consider it. But at the time, I never had to worry about it. Sports was for fun. It was a hobby to do on your off-time, to get exercise and learn to work with a team. None of my kids ever cared about getting really, really good. That is, until now.
Not only does my teenage girl love one sport, she loves two. Volleyball and softball are her passions. I can see it in her enthusiasm to play. I can see it in her determination to be not only on time for practices, but early. Before school. In the dark. And let’s face it, if a teenager is giddy about getting up at 5:30 on a Saturday, to be at school by 6:15, to play in a tournament lasting all day and possibly into the night, then she’s got a definite passion for the game.
Extracurricular sports isn’t what it used to be. It’s not just playing with the church league like I did when I was a teen. A recreation league is now frowned upon as the place where beginners and “maybe not so talented” girls play. Select leagues are where it’s at. You know, those leagues with paid coaches, and thousands of dollars in fees, and traveling across the state (or even the country) for tournaments.
Team sports is now big business. It’s a kid’s route to a potential college scholarship. It’s intense and demanding. I’m sorry that kids today have to start playing so young to begin acquiring their skills if they want to excel. If they want to play high school sports, or college sports. Just like the Olympic athletes – they’ve spent their entire lives working toward that athletic excellence, and their families have devoted their own lives to that excellence. But does the cost (on many levels) outweigh the benefits? I guess it just depends.
I think the passion will make the difference. If the passion is there, then maybe it’s all worth it. Not many people get the sincere pleasure of pursuing their passions in life. It’s a privilege and a rare thing to do what you truly love to do, day in and day out. So if the opportunity presents itself……? We’ll see.
Again, my ten-year-old boy had another creative brainstorm. Since he loves dogs, and he needs to earn some cash (those Beyblades don’t just buy themselves), he decided to launch Christian’s Dog Walking service.
Well….uh….ok. Profound words from Mom and Dad.
After deliberation, we told him he could distribute his flyers just to the neighbors up and down the street. Which he did. The first day of distribution was done with scotch tape, which didn’t reap any rewards. But the second day was hand delivery. Bingo. He got his first customer.
A Great Dane. …BOSS (literally, and probably figuratively as well). But a sweet Great Dane.
With trash bags in pocket (after all, his flyer said he’d pick up poop too), he left the house for his first job. We were proud of his enterprise and responsibility. (He’d even given up a trip to Grandma’s because he’d committed to walking the dog).
My boy walked that dog once. Then he went over to play with the dog in his yard later, and was commissioned to come back in the evening for another walk. He was even paid in advance – a dollar for each walk.
As evening approached, he set out once again, trash bags in pocket. But on the way to his customer’s house, the 104-pound neighbor-dog had just gotten back from a frustrating, long visit to the vet. He was apparently in a very bad mood. He ran from his mistress, sniffed my little boy once, bit him on the leg, and ran off.
My boy kept walking to his customer’s house. Once the man found out what had happened, he told my boy he should wait on the walk; he should go back home to get doctored.
But lo and behold, as my little boy walked back by the neighbor’s house, the same dog ran up to him again. He screamed, and tried to hold his hand out to protect his leg, but…
Yes, you guessed it, the dog then bit his hand.
The bites were pretty bad, but thankfully not worse. No mauling or muscle damage, and he escaped stitches. Thank heaven for his customer who drove him back down the street to mom, and thank heaven for Care Now clinic, so people who have weird stuff happen to them after hours won’t have to sit forever in the ER.
So my little boy’s first day at work was both satisfying and brutal. But at least he earned some combat pay (Boss’s dad thought it was in order), and at least he got to skip his shower.
But unfortunately, he had to learn early on that some days work just really bites.
Yep, entering the Teenage Zone, once again. Worse than the Twilight Zone. I’ve been terrified of this since she was born, and now here we are.
It was a wake-up call for me.
We were driving to her softball game, and heard a rap song from the past that was a favorite. (Yes, you heard right – Rap. I still crank it up quite a bit. Even to hip hop – yep, it gets you going).
Anyway, we cranked it up. But it wasn’t that ear-splitting, bass thumping loud. Just normal loud. I thought nothing of it. I’ve always played my music loud .
We finally got to her game, and dropped her at the curb in the parking lot. “Good luck, sweetie. I love you,” I told her.
“Thanks, I love you too,” she said. Quickly followed by, “Could you turn the radio down please?” She waited for the turn of the volume knob, and then she opened the door.
As we went to find a parking space, I asked my husband, “Did you hear her? That was cute.”
“What’s so cute about her being embarrassed we had the radio too loud?” he wanted to know.
“Oh,” I answered. “I thought she was worried about me not being able to hear her say ‘I love you’.”
I know. Naïve.
And we have now entered The Teenage Zone.
It’s scary when a four-year-old attempts tricks that are usually featured in a place like the Guinness record books. And sometimes funny. But always surprising.
My grandson ran up to his mother, giggling, anxious to show her the trick he’d just come up with. He put both index fingers into his nostrils (at least he wasn’t doing it with chop sticks for a walrus impression). He said, “Look what I can do,” and then he blew. And laughed some more.
My daughter thought it odd, and said, “Are you blowing air out of your ears?” Not really expecting an affirmative answer.
“No, Mom,” he laughed. “Out of my eyes! It tickles!”
“What?” my daughter asked. “Let me see.”
And sure enough, air came through his eye sockets, and was tickling his eyeballs.
You might ask if he’d seen the man on TV who could drink milk, and make it shoot from his eyes. And the answer would be “yes”.
I know – I have a very talented family. Scary to think what his next trick will be.
Military Camo – Disguising Child Neglect?
This week I visited my son and his family – they just had a new baby boy whom we wanted to meet. My son is in the military, and lives in off-base military housing. I’d seen a picture of their house, which was beautiful. They live across from the pool, down the street from a playground, and within walking distance to the elementary school. Perfect, right?
We drove into their subdivision, and it was beautiful – large two-story townhomes, spacious and well maintained. The streets and yards were clean; it was a gorgeous neighborhood. I still didn’t understand why it wasn’t the neighborhood my son and his wife wanted their kids growing up in.
And then we heard the stories.
Every house in their neighborhood has kids (a “families only” subdivision). And at least three out of four of those families let their kids run wild. My daughter has been their surrogate mother on many occasions.
Are the fathers deployed and overseas? I don’t know. But what I do know is that many of the mothers in that community don’t work – they’re stay-at-home moms. But what are they doing? They’re not taking care of their kids, but leaving that task to parents who just can’t stand to see child neglect.
It seems as if the neighborhood is inhabited by only children. Rarely are there ever any parents in sight.
At least twice, kids were “dumped at the door” after being picked up from school; their rides driving away before they even found out no one was home. Once, after being told that their kids COULD NOT spend the night, the kids were dropped off at one parent’s house anyway, with the parents driving away and being MIA until the next day.
My daughter has had kids surrounding her kitchen table after school – all of them needing help with homework that they say they don’t get at home. All of them wanting food – they’re hungry.
My daughter has walked other people’s kids to school with her own. She’s been called before school by the kids, saying they can’t wake their mothers up to help them get ready for school. Could she please wait while they get ready and run to catch up?
Once there was a little five year old who was walking by himself to school, crying. My daughter asked him what was wrong, and he said he was hungry. His mother didn’t feed him, and he had no money to buy school food, and had used his freebie the day before.
The playground is a notorious place to visit. The older kids are cursing bullies who take your toys, or who try to hurt and intimidate the smaller kids. Again, no parents .
And what about the angry elementary school child on the playground, getting a butcher knife and an ax from home, then chasing the other kids, and threatening to cut them? The police were called but they couldn’t locate his mother. MIA. Again.
My son and daughter have been warned that they haven’t even experienced the real test with the parentless kids in the neighborhood. Summer. The pool won’t let anyone under sixteen in without a parent. So the children swarm the area, begging any adult they see heading for the pool if they can go in with them. Like the hungry child beggars in Mexico swarming tourists. But these kids are begging for attention, not money.
Where are their mothers?
My smaller kids were playing with some neighborhood children during our visit, and were appalled to find out they’d never jumped rope, or thrown a Frisbee. Normal kid-things to do, but no one had taught them.
So the great revelation during my visit to the beautiful military housing neighborhood where my son and daughter live: Once again, looks can always be deceiving. Military camouflage can cover military child neglect (just like it’s disguised in the non-military world.)
Maybe the military should create another special ops team – Child Protective Forces. Sounds like they need it.
What better way to begin the New Year than with a bribe? Or maybe I was just trying to end the old year with one? I’m not sure, and I guess it really doesn’t matter.
Every year we usually do the same thing to celebrate New Year’s Eve – we go out to eat, with between 2 and 5 of our own kids, and up to 7 of theirs. Then we go home, and try very hard to stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year. I give the kids fake champagne in fancy glasses, and we all go out on the front porch (under the car port to avoid any falling bullets) where the kids bang on pots and pans, and yell “Happy New Year” as loud as they can. Then we go to bed.
At least we parents do. What can I say? I’m old and boring (at least late-night on New Year’s Eve). But last year I promised my little boy that next year we would consider going to the New Year’s Eve celebration downtown and watch the fireworks.
How did “next year” get here so fast? I didn’t even remember my “promise to consider”. But you know that he did.
So we told him we’d try to go, after we went to a late dinner.
But even after our late dinner, we still had 2.5 hours to midnight, and we didn’t want to stand around in the cold for that long. We decided to go to a friend’s house to pass some time, and on the way, we looked at Christmas lights (another of our procrastinations).
But we old folks still couldn’t see how standing out in the cold for hours was a cooler thing to do than snuggling in our warm bed and reading a book/watching TV. But this year, even my thirteen-year-old girl wasn’t interested in going – she said she was tired; she was falling asleep. Go figure. (But at least it wasn’t just we “old people” this year).
Then an idea of brilliance hit me. I’d helped my little boy online-shop for Gears of War action figures earlier in the day, and he was only able to afford one instead of two (they are expensive and hard to find). What if I gave him the choice of either going to the celebration, or getting that second action figure he couldn’t afford? (One good thing about being older – you usually have more cash). Of course, just a consolation prize so he wouldn’t feel too bad about missing the fireworks. NOT A BRIBE! A CONSOLATION PRIZE!
I felt sure he’d go for it. After all, he’d even had me Tweet Cliff Bleszinski, the designer for Epic Games who created Gears of War, his favorite X-Box game, to see if he could discuss characters and plot with him (of course, to no avail: therealcliffyb probably doesn’t have time for brilliant nine-year-olds). But I truly thought this would be a win-win for all of us!
I was shocked that he didn’t jump at the chance. Not only did he not jump, he was just very saddened at the fact that the rest of us really didn’t want to go. Then he just gave in, because he didn’t want to make his family do something they didn’t want to do on New Year’s Eve. He didn’t seem to care about the action figure at all.
CRAP! I didn’t have the heart to stand him up.
So we drove into the mass of cars parked downtown, and made our way into the area that housed the stage, and music, and massive digital screens which decorated the buildings (a Times Square wanna-be). We were actually squished in the middle of about two-gazillion twenty-something-year-olds, with beers in their hands. My little boy was so short, he could barely see anything, and there wasn’t even room to try to hold him up.
But we listened to music, and watched the fireworks go off at midnight (the fireworks dancing to the music – very cool), and wished each other Happy New Year. And we actually made it out of the crowded mass without being flattened or trampled. (The only casualty of the evening was my teen-aged daughter’s coat which got sprayed with champagne, and now “smelled like beer”, to her great dismay).
And I had to admit, I’m glad we went. It was kind of a cool way to say goodbye to 2010, and welcome 2011. My older kids celebrated at home this year – imagine that. I was crazier than they were. Maybe I’ll even do something else this year that is out of character for an old person.
Thanks little boy!!
Happy New Year everyone!
My husband and I are attempting to buy a new house. We’re actually planning to sell our old dream house for a new dream house – bigger, fancier, with more stuff. Potential buyers are walking through my wonderful house at this very minute, looking at my life, judging my housekeeping, making comments about what they like and what they don’t; what should be changed and what shouldn’t. I feel like I’ve opened my private life up to the world – vulnerable. I’ve made my home an object of criticism.
My house has been a wonderful house for us – we’ve raised five kids there in the last thirteen years (with two still to finish raising, and all the grandkids). It’s a great kid house, with a big yard, and a big circle drive that acts as a raceway for a multitude of bicycles, skateboards, and scooters. My kids don’t want to leave – they say that house contains their childhood memories. They love their house. They don’t even want to put new carpet in for fear it will change their world.
Of course, that’s what my older kids said when we moved there from our first house. But they soon learned to love it – to leave the old in their memory banks, and make room for the new. As I look into her tear-filled eyes, I tell my daughter that all things change – nothing can ever stay the same. Even if we didn’t move , we’d still remodel, and it would look different. She, and all the kids, will always have their special memories. The memories aren’t attached to the house – they’re embedded in their brains forever.
So why do I feel like I’m trading a fat, old, ugly relative in for a younger, thinner, prettier one? Why do I feel like I’m betraying an important part of the family? I never expected to feel this way. But I do. Even in my dreams.
Hopefully, the next family who lives here will appreciate our house as much as we do. It is, was, and always will be the greatest.
And hopefully our next house will be just as great.
The Middle School cafeteria peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The ultimate humiliation if your lunch money account runs low.
Yes, I admit – I did it. Even in the computer age when lunch money is virtual, via an account on the school computer, accessed by the student’s account number, and even when the school sends me an email when the lunch money account is low, I can still find a way to be human and put my child through that embarrassment of embarrassments – having to eat the provided sack lunch that the kids who forgot their lunch money have to eat.
When I was in school, the coins for lunch money came from a small basket of change my mom kept on the shelf in the laundry room above the dryer. I think the only thing we got to eat if we forgot our money was……….nothing?
I simply didn’t see my reminder note on Wednesday. And only three days after Mother’s Day, I failed in my mission to protect my child from mortification. (Do I have to give my presents back?)
For a twelve-year-old girl who doesn’t want to stand out from the crowd, and who doesn’t even like PB&J, Wednesday’s lunch was quite the mortification.
But one good thing about it – at least the free school lunch was the significant emotional experience my daughter needed to do her job of remembering she was out of lunch money. She took responsibility and got that lunch money as soon as I got home from work.
Amazing what kids will remember to do to avoid being disgraced in front of their friends. :o)