Friday, June 29, 2007

Bad Bad Mommy, Take One

I am reasonably certain that never before in the history of all mankind has a six-year-old ever uttered the following words after his goodnight kiss: "Mommy, do you think we can get around to putting the cover back on my light switch? My room would look a lot better."

I had taken it off to paint his room.

Eighteen months ago.

I don't know what they were thinking, letting me have kids. Clearly, even a crack mommy could do a better job.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Perfect Day

It was going to be the perfect day.

Boy had a full day of nature camp ahead; even better, pre-pubescent-can’t-wait-to-get-on-my-nerves-Girl, by one of those lucky, happy coinky-dinks that NEVER happen to me, was also going to be away: she’d gotten herself invited to a full day of Canobie Lake Hell – I mean Park, with… well, with didn’t matter, actually. What mattered was it wasn't with me, and honestly, for such a happy coinciding circumstance of two children away at the same time, I would have considered sending her off with an axe murderer if need be. (Oh, honey, you’ll be fine – just duck fast.) Dog had already been on a 4-mile run that morning, so my duties to him would include a potty break every 3.5 hours. Nothing much more. Maybe a pat on the head every so often. But only if I felt like it. And I probably wouldn’t. And it would be OK.

I was free, I tell you. FREE!

It was gonna be great. I made hot, steamy plans: a cup of still-piping coffee, (not that lukey crap that's always left after you're done yelling at kids to hurry the hell up and get to school already), turning off that damn A/C Man insists must be at 62 degrees, and getting on that computer to write something Real. Maybe get that pedicure taken care of. And for guilt over non-housewifely compliance, maybe a load of laundry.

It was gonna be awesome.


It wasn’t.

Glitch One: On checking boy in at Camp We Take Ourselves and This Nature Business A Little Too Seriously, Power Hungry Counselor informs me that, due to a newly-discovered peanut allergy in one of their campers, no PB & J allowed.

Did Boy have one in his lunchbox?

Well, duh. I’m lazy, and he’s six. Do the math, lady.

I do not really have the nerve to say this. Instead I nod, resigned, and feeling vaguely guilty.

I’d have to remove it. Bring him a new lunch.

Huh? Well, the reason Boy has PB & J is that I had nothing else in the house. In fact, I had to scrape bottom of jar for what I did get. And it was actually even the last piece of bread. I can’t really tell that to a counselor, though. She already thinks we’re bad people. PB&J trash.

I look into the lunch box. “Hm… that’s a pretty big bunch of Pirate Booty I packed for snack, honey. Think that could just tide you over? You don’t want to make mommy have to come back, right, Sweetie? It's pretty far.” I look to Boy hopefully.

Boy looks at me like I’m a few Pirate Booty’s short of a sack.


I drive the 20 minutes home, make a quick grocery list, since I’ll be at the store anyway, I might as well get the other stuff we need, drive 10 minutes to the store, pick up what I need, wait 20 minutes in line, get home, make a turkey sandwich, drive 20 minutes back to camp to drop it. Hike up their big freakin’ hot hill to deliver the damn sandwich because now the registration table is gone. Try really hard to quell the rising tide of cranky with images of sitting with my feet in a pedicure basin at Nails R Us. Because while the writing time is probably definitely shot, I might still be able to get in that feet fix.

After I pee Dog. And make sure Girl is off on her plans.

Glitch Two: Girl is still home. Her ride woke up late, yadda-yadda. Instead of them picking her up, can I drop her at a rendezvous point across town.

Why, I’d be simply delighted.

Off we go again, me wishing that if only the rendezvous point was in the same direction as the nails joint I could get them both done at the same time. But it’s not, so instead I sit and drum my fingers ever harder while ride person has me wait another 20 minutes in my car at rendezvous point.

They come, take Girl, who by now I couldn’t push into their car fast enough.

Done. OK. Deep breath. Think. Still somewhat free. I still have two hours till pick up time. That’s not horrible. I calculate the 10 minutes home, 20 to get to camp, that’s still about 90 minutes of free time once I get back.

I hit the gas.

Dog needs to pee. I haul his butt to the nearest pine. And back in so fast pee’s probably still dribbling out.

Phone’s ringing. I am not close enough to the caller ID to check, but think I should answer anyway: what if Boy fell off cliff at Nature Trail? And Girl – what if it really was an axe murderer’s car she got into?

I answer, slightly panicked, even.

“Hey, Rach!” It’s the chimney guy, or what we will refer to as Glitches 3, 4, and possibly even 5. Not sure why he calls me "Rach," since I met him only once before, when he cleaned our chimneys. Other than that, really, just 18 months of phone tag to get him to turn our covered-over fireplace into a working one. Not so much a "Rach" relationship, yet. “Look, Rach. I’m on your street. You wanted me to look at that chimney?”

I look at my watch. I seriously weigh 18 more months of phone tag and contractor avoidance against losing my last free hour.

I sigh. It is very, very hard to be good. But sometimes you have to try anyway.

“That’s great, Al! C’mon over. I’m here.”

I run down stairs, stash the crazy-ass dog so he won’t bite the guy, clean up a little (not sure why I have to impress the contractor, but whatever, this is so not the point right now, stay focused people!) and then wait.

Half an hour.

My street is not that long. I start heading back upstairs to write. His van pulls in.

“Rach!” Oh, it's my long lost friend. Glitch 3-5 pulls his shirt up his 300-pound stomach to show me his newly installed… I don’t know what exactly, I had fainted, but I caught a glimpse of tubes and plastic before I passed out. “You could have just said you were busy, and that is why you hadn't called," I mumble in my daze.

He strolls over to my blocked over fireplace.

“Oh, yeah! Totally! We can do this!” he says, whacking the wall next to it a couple of times.

I gulp at the sooty pawprints he’s leaving on my newly painted walls and try not to pass out a second time from angst.

“Definitely! Absolutely,” he says.

Well, yes, Glitch 3-5. I know you can do it. We’ve discussed this already over the phone. The question really is WHEN EXACTLY ARE YOU GOING TO FREAKING DO IT? WHEN?”

Yeah. No. I don’t really say that. I just nod politely and smile.

“That’s great, Al.”

He turns to leave. "Oh. Hey, Rach. Did I tell you about Timmy?"

Hmm? Twenty minutes of his son Timmy's successes later follow.

A tear escapes my eye.

Glitch 3-5 thinks it’s because I’m overly maternal or emotional or some such thing, and pats me on the shoulder. "I know – it’s wonderful isn’t it?" he says, getting a little teary himself.

He finally leaves.

I close the door behind him, and sigh in relief.

I look at my watch, and sigh again. Then I head for the car and the camp from hell.

Yup. It’s lucky for me I chose to stay home with my kids instead of working a real job. How else would anything get done around here?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Is there a shoe for this...?

Of all the hard things about being a mother, and there are many, considering the whole childbirth experience and this damned incessant whining for three meals a day, the one that gets to me the most, more even than sorting mounds and mounds of socks that are just enough the same to be confusing but not quite enough the same that you can just match them up willy-nilly, is this: getting dressed every morning.

Now, working mothers don’t really have this same problem. Oh, yeah, yeah, I know it’s hard for you, too, trying to find parking at the Ann Taylor, what with all that construction…

No, that was mean. I'm only kidding. I know it’s hard to even find time to get to Ann Taylor because you have the kids and the unmatching socks, too. But essentially, my point is (unless you are a nursing working mother, in which case, God bless you and your open-in-front, patterned to disguise spills, sprays and spit-up, quick-drying poly blouses, not dresses, because that is a HARD, HARD, HARD time in a woman's wardrobe life, never mind actually working, too, and you deserve all the sympathy there is) that once you do get to Ann Taylor, and buy the clothes, you just put them on some fine morning, and head off to your office, where you sit in the A/C with your Starbucks grande latte and your grown-up friends who are all pretty, too, and chit chat and admire your paychecks and...


That’s not what you do?

Well. Fancy that. It's totally what I'd envisioned, every morning, when it's just 10 a.m. and I’m on my third wardrobe change because the outfit I picked out to walk my kids to school in so that the teachers on bus duty wouldn’t think I was a pig - one who was wearing sweats and a baseball cap pretending she was going to work out, but really, who is she kidding, she's a pig. We're teachers. We know stuff. And we got up at 5 a.m. just to get here. And we have real clothes on. Take off the damn baseball cap and shower already. What is your problem, lady? And even if you really were working out? Nice life of leisure, that you get to work out at 10 a.m. while we work our butts off, chasing your kid. And by the way, speaking of your kid...

Oh, sorry. The voices in my head can be a bit distracting.

Anyway, that outfit (which included good shoes for walking the two blocks and also a closed toe so my feet wouldn't get wet in the dewy grass) is a little too nice to take Dog to the park in, but then the dog park outfit isn’t really good enough to wear to the church board meeting. (Another little joke. I don't really belong to a church board, and the very idea would make your average church board laugh. Or possibly gag. But hopefully just laugh. It was really just an example, in order to explain that the dog park clothes don't really go anywhere but the dog park.) So you have to change again. And also feel a little guilty that you have nothing better to do than walk your dog in a dog park. Seriously, lady. There are people starving in India, women who have to work four jobs just to feed their kids; also women with real, high-powered jobs changing the world, curing cancer, finding peace, while you're doing nothing more exciting with your brain than avoiding doggy doo-doo and waiting for your kids to come home from school, when you'll probably just yell at them anyway in order to compensate for being such a loser...

Oh my God, it's the voices again! They just won't leave me alone!

Anyway. I was getting dressed there, before the attack of the voices in my head. So, outfit Number Three is what we're on, if you were keeping track. I could put back on the first outfit, except I'll probably see Friend A at pick-up, and I think she thinks I'm... well, a pig. The kind who just buys 10 of the same shirt in different colors at Grr-animal Grown-ups Gap and calls it a day. And school drop-off outfit was really in that category. But if I dress up, and wear the pretty strappy sandals I made myself buy so I would look like I'd won the sweatsuit battle, I will look like an idiot at the supermarket. I mean, really. Who wears heels to the supermarket? That's a bit much. Also, my pedicure is looking a little ratty. And who needs to see that? And of course the walk to school in the afternoon in the sandals isn't great either. So. Hm. If I swap out the sandals, leave the shirt, put on the shorts and a belt... Can you wear flip flops with a belt...? I just don't know. And didn't she already see those shorts....? I could try a skirt. I hate skirts. And are my legs even shaved?

Huh? You're still here? Don't you have anything better to do with your time? I'm very busy right now. Plus, my head is about to explode. If you really, really need me, I'll be in my closet, scraping off bits of my burst brain.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Why make work?

Now, who on earth invented this scrapbooking crap?! Talk about the subjugation of women. Like we don’t have enough to do.

Like we don’t have enough guilt. As if I don’t already walk around feeling inadequate, like my children are being raised in a barn by wolves, someone came along to make me feel horrible I’m not documenting every instance of it. With hair clippings, no less.

I have seen otherwise sane people - people with actual law degrees! - spend 10 whole minutes paralyzed by the choice of background papers on which to display their child's birthday party pictures.

In the olden days, people shoved everything in a box. You came along a few years later, asked who that was, standing next to your mom. No one knew. Didn’t really matter. We all got through it, without proof of first haircuts. I did, at least. And God knows, I’m normal.


Right, people?!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The joy of laundry

What do you suppose is the appropriate punishment for leaving a Kleenex in the pocket of pants that are to be laundered?

Before you answer, let me make this very clear: these were no ordinary Kleenex. They coated an ENTIRE load of laundry, inside and out, with bits of clingy white tissue. Trails of white fluff drifted from the basket as I carried it upstairs. I seriously contemplated just chucking the entire batch of clothing. The whole thing was a mess of such catastrophic proportions I was forced to employ the strategy I normally reserve for only the most dire of house duties - like mice in traps and children needing anal suppositories: ignore it and hope someone else will come along and deal with it.

But after a week of watching "someone else" blithely step over the laundry basket I'd left in the middle of the hallway, I realized more drastic measures were necessary.

I'd need to step up the game plan.

"Wow. Did you see that mess the Kleenex made in that laundry...?" I asked, with the necessary mix of shock and despair required to get the job done.

"No. Wow. That's really terrible, honey," he answered.

And while there might have been a touch of concern, a bit of empathy, even, in the reply, there wasn't any actual getting up. And I didn't have much of a leg to stand on, either, since he does his own laundry, so nothing in the basket was actually his. I could have tried the old "Well, they are your kids, too," tactic, but sometimes it gets really tiring having the same ol' boring argument about who gets which job every week. Plus I'd already used it to get the dinner dishes done.

I know you're thinking, "Why didn't she just wash the load over again?" I don't really know, to tell the truth, except that re-doing the whole load offended my environmental sensibilities, and also my general lifestyle ones - if a job is done, it should stay done. (It's the number one reason I'm not so keen on housework in general - it's just one big fat do-over. And over. And over.) But anyway, in hindsight, yes, re-doing the load would have made my life a whole lot easier.

I decided to be a grown-up about the thing, took a deep breath, and tackled the problem. I dumped the load of laundry on the bed and then proceeded to waste hours of my life on this one batch of clothes. Hours picking the crap off, sweeping it off the floor, dusting it off surfaces. Lint-brushing my life away. I ignored the insides of the clothes - who was going to see that? - except that days later, when I put on one of the T-shirts, the fuzz ended up in my hair, like some weird giganto dandruff that took me another few minutes to pick out. I have really never seen Kleenex like this. I think they must have been the extra thick, lotion-coated kind or something because this was really, really something. It happened three weeks ago, and I’m still suffering the consequences. I still see pieces of the tissue clinging to my kids' shirts. I still find it throughout the house.

So back to the punishment. Now, in my mind, there was only one possible culprit. Boy does what most runny-nosed red-blooded six-year-olds do: uses his sleeve. So it was clearly Girl's fault. I started out only intending to do the standard amount of yelling commensurate with the offense. But when I finished, I got the big ol’ "wha-evuh" and a shrug. “Just clean it,” Girl added.

Now I could not possibly be more against corporal punishment. I must say, however, there are times when a whack upside the head sounds really, really tempting. But I counted to 10. Ten times. Then I left the room and counted some more. There really aren't enough numbers sometimes.

I returned, handed Girl the broom, the lint brush, a lecture on not speaking like that to your mother-who-has-too-much-to-do-to-be-stuck-cleaning-up-this-extra-mess-and-it-was-incredibly-disrespectful-AND-sexist-of-you-to-think-I-should-be-in-charge-of-cleaning-it-up. And then I gave her an extra assignment: to write an apology.

Frankly, I detected a distinct lack of sincerity in the apology note, I must say.

Perhaps, though, that is alright. Just today I found the originating wad of Kleenex, still clumped together in a pair of jeans.

They were mine.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'm soooooo booo-ooooo-oored...

Summer Vacation, Day 1:

6:30 a.m. MOM! Mom! Can I get up? Huh? Huh? Mo-oo-oom! What are we doing today?! Can. I. Get. UUUUUPPPPPPP!!!!

6:35 a.m. MOOOOOOMMMM! Can I get up?!!!!!! What are we doing today?

6:38 a.m. Can I watch TV?

7 a.m. I hate cereal. Why do you always give us cereal? Dad makes us pancakes. I’ll eat the cereal if you let me watch TV after...

7:01 a.m. You are so mean!

7:15 a.m. No, I don’t want to come with you to walk the dog. You can leave me here by myself, I promise. I’ll watch TV. OK. Fine. But it better be a short walk.

7:30 a.m. EWWWWWWWW! That stinks! Can I walk on the other side? Hold the bag over there. EWWWWWW! Can I hold the leash? C’mon, can I can I can I can I?

7:33 a.m. Trip. Fall. Cry. Home to wash boo-boos.

7:50 a.m. I'm hungry.

8:00 a.m. Can I get a Webkinz? Fine. Then can I watch TV?

8:15 a.m. I don't like drawing.
8:15:30 a.m. I don’t want to read a book.
8:15:45 a.m. I don't like puzzles.

8:30 a.m. Can we go to the pool?

8:35-9:15 a.m. Moooom! Where are my goggles/swimsuit/flip flops/towel? Do I really have to wear sunscreen? Susie’s mom doesn’t make her wear it! I hate this swimsuit! It's too tight/silly/little kiddy.

9:30 a.m. Can we go home? The water’s cold. Can we get Popsicles first?

9:40 a.m. Why do I have to shower? I only got in for a couple of minutes. The chlorine is so not going to ruin my hair!

10:30 a.m. MOOOOOOO-mmmmmmm! He’s bugging me! Mo-ooo-om! He’s in my room!

11:00 a.m. Can I watch TV?

11:30 a.m. MMMMOOOOMMMM! The toilets clogged!

12 noon (Oh my God, it's only noon?) I don’t wanna go to the supermarket!!! I don’t care! We’ll just have cereal for dinner.

12:10 p.m. Can I get this? Will you buy that? Tommy's mom lets him eat that. Can we get this, then? If you buy me this I won't ask for anything else, I promise. Oh. It's laundry detergent? Well, why is Spiderman on it?

1 p.m. I don’t wanna take the dog for another walk. We took him this morning. I don’t care if he needs to pee. (See 7:30 a.m. above for relevant whines. Repeat.)

1:30 p.m. Could we have mac n' cheese to celebrate our first day of vacation?

2:00 p.m. Can we get a Webkinz? Well not now, I didn't mean now. I meant after you finished washing the pots, of course. Duh!

2:15 p.m. Can we go back to the pool? It’s so hot.

2:30 p.m. Can I play on the computer?

3:00 p.m. Mooooommmmm! He’s bugging me!

3:30 p.m. Can we go to the movies? It’s alright if it’s PG. Other parents let their kids watch PG. Just get him a babysitter. C’mon, mom.

4:00 p.m. Why is the house so dirty?

4:30 p.m. Ew… What are you making for dinner?

5:00 p.m. Moooom! It’s Monday. I thought you said you weren’t going to drink on Mondays.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Praying again

I had some very, very important things to say, insightful things, solve the major world problems/cure cancer kinds of things, but noooooooo, all anyone wants to know is what happened to the dumb Praying Mantises. So fine. Bugs it is.

Well, obviously, I failed. I mean, what kind of stupid bugs were these, that they couldn’t take a little rain? They weren’t going to do well in my house, that’s for sure. Boy kept poking, Dog kept sniffing, Girl paraded all her friends through to prove to them all just how insane her mother is that she was babysitting three bugs in a house plant.

There really was no hope for them at all.

But I got one out alive. That’s just the kind of woman I am. It wasn’t pretty; it wasn’t fun. There was some screaming. (There often is, though.) And in the end, it got done.

I like to think it was Rachel that survived, and is off biting men’s heads off in the wilderness even as we speak, but who knows, really. And frankly, maybe she needed a rest. Maybe she got tired of having to clean up after OP and Z and maybe she got tired of finding them food all the time. Maybe no one ever thanked her for any of it. Maybe I forgot to provide her with a little wine. Maybe she was thinking, I was hatched, raised and educated in a professional hatchery for this?

So maybe she’s actually happy taking her little dirt nap. (Or rather, her chemically enhanced potting soil nap.) Who knows? But one of them is out there, aphid eating away. The other two, I just never really found again.

So that’s it.


I just can’t feel guilty about this. OK?

No. Seriously. Leave me alone, already. They were bugs, dammit. BUGS!

OK. FINE. I’ll go look again. But this is the last time. I mean it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

End the madness

I think that if I had a real job, I wouldn’t be spending so much time in a mall, obsessing over teacher gifts. I am not, on the best of days, very good at making decisions. I am a big picture kind of person. I like to hear both sides and then…well, sit down, pretty much. Let other people decide. I prefer to criticize after. It’s a whole lot easier. And actually quite fun.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, at the mall, picking out teacher gifts.

So. I like the kids’ teachers, all 708 of them, and I’d like to show my appreciation. But does a bar of soap really convey that? I think, sniffing at a Rose-Chocolate-Beer lather bar in the gift shop.

Not so much.

You know what else doesn’t? Candles. Can we just agree right now everyone, ENOUGH with the damn candles already. No one on this green earth needs another candle. Ever. Really. I mean it. I’ve seen whole fires (well, one, and it was more smoke than anything else, but still, the firetruck came and everything. It was very exciting. Also, not at my house, so thus much better for me.) started because of candles. Every household in America by now has a drawer full of scented candles. Whole malls have been ruined by the opening of those stinky-ass Candles R Us stores. It’s terrible, this pandemic. (Another word I’m not 100 percent sure I used appropriately, but sounds really good.)

Or could it be that candles are the new fruitcake – and there’s really only one candle, being passed along from hostess to hostess from party to party to party and teacher to teacher, all across America?

Hm. Yeah, probably not. But it’s close, I’ll bet. And I’m going to do my part to end the madness. It's gift certificates all around. I just want it known I did put some thought into them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

One day at a time

Wouldn’t it be nice if raising kids were a bit more like mowing the lawn? Once a week, you break a little sweat, but then you’re done. Maybe grab a Corona, sit on your deck and admire the job you did. You don’t even think about it again for a whole week. Getting the whole winter off wouldn’t be bad either. (Neither would leaving them outside permanently, but I accept that that can only be a dream.)

Oh, hang on a second. I think it’s DSS at the door…

Anyway. The thing about parenting is that you never really get to be done. This everyday, inexorable (I’m not really sure what inexorable means, but it sounds about right) business gets to me sometimes. Like three. Whole. Damn. Meals. Every. Damn. Day. For ever and ever.

What is up with all this eating, for the love of God? Don’t they know it means I’ll have to go back to the supermarket? And I really hate the supermarket. It’s too cold, there’s too much food, too many choices, too many labels. I can’t even pick out a yogurt. There’s 400 darn types and varieties and flavors and you don’t want the sugar, the high fructose corn syrup, the trans fat or the aspartame. You could be in there hours reading all those labels. Too much reading. And then somehow I never end up with anything for dinner anyway.

And who the hell invented that nasty job, picking out dinner every night for eternity? And how did I get it? I am absolutely certain I did not apply for that one. For heaven’s sake! I can’t take it any more.

And the cleaning. There is always something that needs cleaning. You’re just never done. You finish the laundry, and someone throws their clothes into the hamper. Well, next to the hamper. Into the hamper, like onto the toilet paper roll, apparently requires no Y chromosomes and an age bracket of at least 20. Or at least no one else to do it for you.

And the worrying. There’s lots of that. All the time. You’re gonna die, they’re gonna die. The dog’s gonna die. (Well, that last isn’t so much of a worry, but a hope.) They’re not going to die, but they’re going to get sick. That scrape is going to turn into necro-something-something whatever bacteria. Ticks. I lie awake at night worrying about ticks. School, college, marrying wife-beaters, drunk-driving. Whew. It’s exhausting, being a mom.

Even when you’re sort of done – like OK: it’s a weekend, you’re on a vacation of sorts, sitting at StoryLand, and your kids are definitely old enough to ride the silly thing themselves, and you’re pretty sure no one is dying of Lyme Disease today, so you find a nice quiet bench away from the tattoo-ed masses and pull out your knitting for some good quiet two minutes of time to yourself, while they spin themselves silly on the turtles.

Then you see her. The MOMMY. She’s there, zig-zagging through that damn maze they have, peek-a-booing with her kid. She doesn’t even have the grace to look like she’s just doing it because she has to. It’s possible she’s actually having fun, for the love of God!

You ignore her.

Knit one, purl two. Knit one, purl two. Nope. It’s not working. The guilt is seeping in.

You try harder. Ignore, ignore, ignore. You tell yourself she probably feeds her kids chicken nuggets. The bad ones. Chemicals, trans fats, food dye. Probably didn’t even wash her hands first.

Oh, Ashton (and one of these days we really need to discuss names) see how high mommy can make the ball go…”

You keep trying to ignore her. Knit one… awwww, man. She’s going to think you’re one of those moms who sits around all day never doing anything with her kids. Why do you care what she thinks? But you do, and also you think, OK, maybe it is better for the kids if you aren’t totally ignoring them, so you sigh and put away your knitting and get up and trudge over to the damn spinning turtle so you can wave at your kids each time they come around like a good mommy would.

I know, I know. Save it. It beats the alternative, yadayadayada, grateful yadayadayad at least I have arms to wave. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But would it have been too much to ask to at least give us weekends?

And shut up. I got a lawn I gotta mow.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pray for my mantises

I am not exactly sure what would possess an otherwise apparently normal science teacher to send home three baby praying mantises in a jar, with instructions they need to be let out of the jar… but not outside because it is raining too hard.

It is supposed to be raining all week.


This teacher has had it out for me for awhile now. Something to do with my refusal to maintain a chart (color-coded, no less) for two weeks of the birds that came to visit the plastic milk jug bird feeder the kids each made in her class. Now I’m all for science. That’s why I send my kids to school. But home is for, well... TV, frankly. And I don’t really want to hold on to a piece of paper for two weeks. I’m sorry. I just don’t. That is way too hard in this house. So I lost it. I didn’t throw it away or anything. I just let nature run its course, and somehow in the course of those two weeks, well, who knows? Maybe the dog ate it.

When my son didn’t bring in the paper at the appointed time, she gave him a reminder. I reminded him right back that we’d lost it.

She sent home a note.

I returned the note, on the back of which I explained very nicely that having myself successfully graduated from kindergarten some 35-odd years ago, I felt my efforts in the homework department for that scholastic level were complete.

(OK, OK, before you start calling DSS on me for not helping my kid with his homework like a good mommy, let me just add that this isn’t for his REAL kindergarten class, it’s for the after-school program. Now it’s a fine program and everything – they only do one movie a week, for example – but still. Not the real kindergarten.)

And anyway, back to the bugs.

What the hell am I supposed to do with three baby praying mantises in my house?! IN MY HOUSE, for the love of God. Now I’m all for praying mantises. Very interesting, as far as bugs go, in fact. But I prefer my nature to be of the Animal Planet variety. Or, at bare minimum, outside.

I’m not sure what to do. I could let them go, the hell with them and their drowning in the rain. But, along with the fact that as a mommy I have guilt programmed right into my DNA, my son has already named them: Octamus Prime (I’m really not sure on that one – but he is six, so I’m not going to hold him to any spelling), Zach, and… drum roll… Rachel. Yup. Lovely. So I don’t think I can just kill them.

But something about this just isn’t right. Doesn’t, you know, God, or whoever is up there in charge of bugs, make provisions for these kinds of things - rain? Doesn’t it always rain on bugs? Aren’t they supposed to be able to withstand a bit of rain? It would seem a little odd if not. They live outdoors for crying out loud.

So I’m thinking I’ve been had. That teacher is sitting at home right this very minute laughing her butt off with her husband: Oh yeah, honey you should have seen the look on that lady’s face when her kid handed her a jar of bugs and told her she’d have to take it home…

I think perhaps I should take my daughter's Make-Your-Own-Car-Out-of-Recyclables project a little more seriously. It's due tomorrow. I'd get right on it, but I have to call an exterminator first. Octamus Prime has gone missing...

Sunday, June 3, 2007


It has been brought to my attention by an avid fan (well, OK, my dad, and “fan” might have been over-stating the case as well) that my brand new blog is a bit, well... unclear in topic. I’m not sure why I’m going to bother listening to him, what with his being at least 95 percent of the reason I am this nuts, (the fault of the other 5 percent I could be persuaded lies with me), but in the interest of starting on the right foot, I will attempt some clarification.

I think what threw him was the housewife thing. (There was also some mention of the fact I might be on drugs. I am choosing to interpret this as concern, on his part, versus accusation.)

But just to be clear: I use the term housewife only very loosely, and in the very broadest sense, and in the same all-encompassing, oppressive, suffocating vein in which society has bestowed upon some of us that heavy mantle: you are the person people go to when they need clean socks.

Domino’s can bring dinner; the odd father or two can clean up after. But when it’s socks they want, you can be a CEO in charge of a multi-million dollar company that makes the world go ‘round, they’re still coming to you. I do not know why this is. It just is. Perhaps they believe that after we’re done having babies, the uterus turns into a sock factory. I don’t really know. And that was kind of gross to think about, actually. So let’s stop there and get to the point.

The point is, this blog might not be so much for you if you are:

1. Actually seeking housewifely hints. I don’t know of any, other than just getting through the darn day as best you can (I give myself extra points if no alcohol is involved).
2. Trying to share your tips. I don’t really do that stuff. Some very nice people come clean my house every two weeks. In between, I yell at my husband, at ever-escalating decibel levels, that something really needs to be done about your bathroom because there is no way I SHOULD BE LETTING MY CHILDREN IN THERE! (I know it’s horrible of me, but I make them all share one. I have my own. I’m will not digress now to explain it. Suffice to say, along with being cranky, I am not really all that nice.) And why should I be the one cleaning that? Ew.
3. One of those happy people that thinks everything is just lovely. In fact, I’m not even 100 percent sure I like people who use the word ‘lovely.’ (Unless you’re a grandma, of course. Then it’s perfectly lovely.) But my glass is pretty much half empty, all the time, no matter what. I’m not saying that’s right, it’s just what it is. I apologize.
4. One of those mommies that loves staying home with your kids. I will not justify my position on this, either, other than to emphasize I didn’t say you didn’t love your kids, or that you don’t like spending time with them. What I said was love staying home with your kids. All. The. Time. Forever. And. Ever. With nothing else but PTO meetings and Girl Scout overnights and School Board sessions and homework projects and doggy poop scooping to break up all the gasping for air… er, I mean... fun. There might be people who do enjoy this. I’m not arguing that. I’m not arguing anything. Just saying that they won’t be happy here.
5. Looking for cute kid stories. I have kids. They’re cute sometimes. But isn’t everything already about them? Enough already.
6. Looking for a debate or philosophical discussion of women at home versus women at work. I will talk about it when I like the answer.

I’m not making it to 10. Let’s face it – I ran out of steam a while ago, maybe around number two. So c’mon. Be a grown up. If you’re kind of hyperventilating and feeling veins throbbing out of assorted body parts, it might be time to move along. There are so many other more interesting battles out there. I’m still a little unclear of where we came down on the whole paper versus plastic issue, for example.