Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The kind of enthusiasm that could get someone killed in car rider line

I am not a horrible grouch in the morning as long as I've had a cup of coffee and 6 hours of sleep.  I don't yell at people for making noise (unless it is the boys' bone-shattering decibels at 7 am).

On mornings when I have to have a blood draw and must be fasting, I definitely scowl, but I'm not out-and-out hostile.  Of course, the scowl generally keeps people from talking to me and, therefore, avoids any potential hostility.

This week I am driving N and our neighbor to school in the morning.  We are out the door at 7 am.  I have had some coffee but am still in my pajamas with bed hair.

Today, I witnessed something I've never seen, didn't understand and hope to never see again.

A fully dressed dad in the car in front of mine, got out of the vehicle, jaunted to the car in front of him and gave multiple double-high-fives to the people inside.  With a smile on his face, he skip-de-doodled back to his vehicle.

It took every ounce of my energy not to jump out of my own car and thrash him to death.

He would have deserved it for a number of reasons:

1. The first rule of car rider drop-off and pick-up is "Unless your child is bringing a tuba and/or elephant to school and requires your assistance removing it from or putting it into the trunk, keep your ASS in the car."  This man violated the first rule in order to give someone a high five.  UNACCEPTABLE.

2. I don't go places where high-fives are a "thing," Other than my children, I don't think I've high-fived anyone since I reached adulthood.  No one in my bookclub high-fives each other.  But I can say, with certainty, that there is no place for high-fives in a middle school morning drop-off.  My inner middle schooler was like, "What a f***ing dork!"

3. Even if I could go along with high-fives being an acceptable part of car rider line, it would have to be reserved for AFTERNOON pick-up.  School's out!  Yeah!....said by students, teachers and administrators alike.  Even though I've got a full day ahead without my children in my hair, I can't generate any enthusiasm when I've only been awake an hour.  Even another cup of coffee is not going to result in high-fives and skip-to-my-louing.

I've seen quite a few things that I wish I could un-see, but this one takes the cake.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The (hopefully) soon-to-happen master bathroom remodel

I have mixed feelings about remodeling our master bathroom.

I really dislike the room, its layout and so much of it being generally unusable space, but it always feel so first-worldy-spoilt to think about spending a big chunk of change on remaking a room, especially since we have 3 other rooms with toilets in them in our house.  I mean it rankles me to acknowledge that 4 rooms in our house have toilets and sinks in them; 3 have showers/baths.

Totally first-worldy-spoilt.

And I don't like spending money, in general or particular.

But when I can get myself past the guilt of remodeling our master bathroom, I start to get a little excited about the prospect.

Mostly because it will involve the getting rid of this baby right here:

The heart-shaped tub of love (HSToL) that has never, EVER been used for such purposes.  

It isn't even a normal-shaped, HSToL.  It is a caddywhompus HSToL.  The one time I tried to use it, sometime in 2001, it wasn't comfortable for me, and I didn't have company vying for space (which I assume is the point of a HSToL).

The HSToL has jets, but you use up all the hot water in the house if you try to fill up above the jets.  You cannot easily clean the tub because it is so deep and wide.

What bugs me most about the HSToL is that all of the space it uses could be used for storage.  I have to keep all of our bath towels in my closet.  All of our bandaids and extra deodorant and toilet paper is in the hall closet.

See how much space that danged HSToL takes up in the room?

And this is the funky shower.

The shower head is so low it doesn't hit D where a shower stream should hit.  Because he is so tall, the water that does hit bounces up onto the walls because the surround isn't tall enough.  Having a surround is supposed to keep walls from getting damp, but this surround was designed for someone who isn't 6'2" tall.

 The door whacks the person who is sitting on the toilet in the nose (or threatens to, anyway).

It isn't the worst bathroom in the world, but I am just tired of cleaning of tub we don't use, praying for a fire blower to get rid of soap scum from the too-short shower surround and having to walk into the hallway to retrieve bath items that could be housed in the bathroom.

Be a calm parent, they said. It will be great, they said.

I like the idea that if I just state facts, allow natural consequences to happen, and remain unemotional, my children will do what needs to be done without my nagging, fussing, or feeling like an extra half dose of Lexapro is a good idea.

Throughout this motherhood gig, I really have tried to be a natural consequences advocate.  When N was little and insisted on going outside without a coat, I let her.  She quickly came back in the house shivering, and I didn't have to yell or anything.

When she refused to get dressed for preschool one time, I dropped her off at the door with her clothes in a bag and said to Ms. Jennifer, "Here's her clothes.  Good luck and good-bye."

With the two knuckleheads, things seem more complicated, which makes me increasingly banshee-ish.

I try to state facts.  I try to remain calm.  But while I'm watching the clock tick, the boys are having a WWF-level event in their bedroom, which may or may not (likely not) involve the removal of their pajamas and the installation of school-appropriate clothing.

So I restate the facts, which seems an awful lot like nagging.

And the natural consequence of not being ready for the bus means missing the bus and results in me having to drive them to school, which is, for them, a positive consequence.  Or the other natural consequence is not going to school.  This is where that whole concept of "natural consequences parenting" doesn't seem to work.

Yesterday, both the boys were avoiding getting their shoes/coats on to get out to the bus.  M said, "I wasn't listening," was his excuse, as if that is so much better than "trying to give the cats more treats" which is what G was doing.

Anyway, by the time I got them upstairs, the bus was there.

I immediately transformed into a banshee-like drill sergeant:  "RUN! RUN! RUN!"

M had one shoe on his foot, the other in his hand and no coat on.  G had his coat on but no shoes on his feet.

I wish I could have photographed the look on G's face when he said, "But we don't have shoes on!"  It was like he thought I'd gone stark raving mad.  I kept screeching, "RUN!  RUN!  I DON'T CARE.  RUN IN SOCKS!"

I grabbed M's coat and both their backpacks, and we sprinted for the bus.

They made it, and I suspect it shocked them both enough (the realization that their mom will actually make them go to the bus however she threatens in pajamas or half-naked or without shoes) that they'll cooperate more the first time I remind them of the time.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Part 1: Me at the gym. Part 2: Why I love seeing older folks at the gym

Part 1:

I walk in.

Many times I forget I have my sunglasses on, but I'm too lazy to walk back out to the car to switch to my regular glasses.  So I'm Joe Cool working out in shades.

I get on the elliptical-type machine (there are 2 kinds that probably work different muscles, but I don't know which muscles) or a stair-climber.  If on an elliptical,  I do a mile, keeping my heart rate around 130.  I'm not busting a sweat usually.  If I'm on a stair-climber, I do 15-20 flights.

Then I go lift some weights and do floor work (planks and various modifications on the plank, mostly).

When I lift weights, I stick to between 5-15 lbs.  Sometimes I just stop actually lifting the weights and hold them.  When I see these big dudes lifting a gazillion pounds, and they are huffing and puffing and jerking their arms around, I wonder how much they could lift if they stopped moving and just held the weight?

After a half-hour, I am bored and leave.

Tonight, as I was writing this blog post, I started to burn the pancakes I was making.  I might be on the thinnish side, but it is certainly not because I work out with any enthusiasm.  I simply burn our dinners a lot.

Part 2:

I love old(er) people, in general but especially at the gym.  (Like 65 and up is what I'm going to consider older people.)

Maybe it is because I workout mostly during the weekdays, but there are usually older people there.  Not too many single, young people.  I think they probably go to LA Fitness or someplace cool.

It is inspiring to me to be around older people who go to the gym for a number of reasons.

First of all, they make me look like a freaking rock star fitness freak with my yoga pants and sports bra (covered with a shirt.....I'm not that kind of duckface, selfie-taking, show-off-my-lack-of-cleavage girl .)

Secondly, and more to the point, they totally don't kill themselves, and I think that is the key to real fitness longevity.  They don't bust their humps to the point that they are sick and sweaty messes.  They exercise, they get tired, they stop.  But THEY ARE THERE DOING SOMETHING.

And that is all I care to do.

Do enough so that if I have white hair and wrinkles all over me and a mess of grandchildren, I am still physically able to get myself to the gym and do something in moderation.  

Monday, January 11, 2016

The day (today) I lost my s*** over the school bus

It was half a year coming, really.

It's not like I hadn't put up with it and put up with it.  Since August.

I'd called the compound.  I'd emailed and spoken with the school counselor who said he was at his wit's end about the bus, its route and its lateness and gave me the name of the district people to call.  I'd called the district people.  I'd emailed friends whose kids also ride this bus and urged them to contact the district about its perpetual lateness.

Nothing changed.

Today, I happened to lose my mind about it.

To my way of thinking, which may or may not be rational, the school bus should be sitting at the school when the kids are dismissed at 3:50.  The school bus shouldn't arrive at school at 4:00 or 4:10 or 4:20.  (Ok, maybe 4:00 is ok, but kids shouldn't be sitting in the gym for 30 minutes waiting, especially when the kid lives 2 miles from the school).

Actually it is between 1.8-2.0 miles.  That distance really doesn't warrant 45-60 minutes every day to get home.  When it isn't the first month of school, and the weather is fine.  A straight line from our house to school is 6 minutes.

To my way of thinking, if the district is going to have a dang "policy" whereby if you live in certain clusters you have to attend certain schools, then perhaps they should adhere to said policy and if people move into a new neighborhood in a different cluster they should have to change schools so that 1 bus doesn't service 2 different schools since the danged bus can't seem to make it to either school in a timely manner.

Do I sound entitled?  Is this totally a first-world problem?  Yes and yes.

This morning we stood in the freezing cold waiting on this bus for 35 minutes.  This afternoon the bus dropped off my crying 8-year-old.  It was a different bus, different driver, coming from a different direction, on the different side of the street.  My heightened anxiety child was off-the-chain.

Today was the straw that broke this camel's back.

After I had calmed G down and told him I would "get more information," I proceeded to sit at my laptop and fire this off:

Mr. C***, I called your office in early December about bus ***, which services *** Elementary.  The woman I spoke with assured me the situation would be looked into.  Both you and T**** C**** were out of the office when I phoned.  

I have contacted J***** Compound about this bus.  I have talked to Mr. M*** at **** Elementary about this bus.  This is the second time I am contacting you/your office about this bus.  We live at *** ****** Drive, *****, which is 6-9 minutes away from *** Elementary, approximately 2 miles distance.  My sons do not arrive home from school most days until 4:45.  Today it was 5:00 pm.  

This is the cherry on the top of my *school district* transportation day especially since my sons and I waited 35 minutes in the freezing cold this morning for the bus to arrive.  It was 9:00 am before it picked them up.  As you are probably aware, school begins at 9:05.  

Parents are strongly encouraged to have their kids ride the buses, and because I want to be a team player with *school district*, I have done as requested.  

However, I have reached the point where I am DONE with having my sons arrive home an hour or more after school dismisses when I can pick them up and have them home by 4:10 (our neighbor got tired of the issues with bus *** a long time ago; she rolls into her driveway with her children at no later than 4:10 each day).

I really and truly try to be an advocate for *school district*, but my patience has been reached for the 2015-2016 school year.  I expect a response to this email from you so that I know it was received and read.

Thank you,

Lord knows, I'm not proud of this, but I just had to send it.  And even though it will be a royal pain in my butt to pick up my sons every day (and will require me to reschedule G's occupational therapy appointments), it will mean G and M have more time at home for doing homework and just being kids, and I won't be standing outside waiting for a bus instead of fixing my family's dinner. 

My loves.....(blecccchhhhhhh)...and my theory of unintentional adoration

Despite reports to the contrary, I love my children.

I tell my children I love them every day, sometimes multiple times a day.

But I also tell my children that they are being turds, jerks, annoying, aggravating, uncooperative and pains in the butt.  Depending on how they are behaving, they might hear these statements multiple times a day, too.

On Friday, when I picked G up from school for his occupational therapy, his teacher walked him to the office, and he had his homework journal in his hands.  My first thought was, "Did he not do his homework, and she is walking him to the office to speak to me?"  My second thought was, "I'm gonna kill him."

In fact, he was simply bringing his journal home but hadn't put it in his book bag and, due to the heightened security, his teacher had walked him to the office.

My first instinct with my children is, "What have they done wrong?"

They have never given me any reason to think I should meet situations in this way, but it reminds me a lot of how my parents behaved with me.  I didn't give my parents any reason to meet situations this way either (at least until high school, and even then, it wasn't in terms of authority figures or school work....I just liked boys too much).

I sometimes post things about my kids on Facebook, and it is generally of the "weird-ass stuff my kids said" variety.  I often post things about being a mother to my children, which is of the "this is hard and definitely not what I signed up for" variety.  Sometimes I think the general perception might be that I don't like my children or this motherhood gig.  Sometimes that perception is correct.

It is not in my personality to refer to my children as "my loves" or say that "I love my kids to the moon and back."  Such statements sound far too adoring to me and to use them, even if I say them in my own head, like I just did, kinda makes me gag a bit.

Sometimes I wonder how the language one uses on social media is picked up by kids.  I suspect it is.....because the language one uses on Facebook is how a person thinks, even if they only put up the "good and/or fake" parts of their lives.

I sometimes feel rather guilty because I am sarcastic, because I don't lavish praise on my kids.  I worry that my kids might feel like they can't be good enough in my eyes or that I have such high expectations they will never live up to them.

But as I consider on it more,  I think I would rather err on this side than on the side of my kids thinking I adore them.   Being under the influence of unintentional adoration would have to be just as heavy as whatever sarcastic weight I throw my kids under as a result of my own personality quirks.  

Friday, January 8, 2016

All the things I want to say in relation to the heightened security

Today there is a nonspecific threat against the schools in my area.  I get the sense it is similar to the threats in NYC and LA.  Our schools are on heightened security.

I dropped the boys off today because M needed to get his allergy shot beforehand---this was the plan before I knew about the threat so I took them to school out of an abundance of convenience, not caution.

Some parents have opted, like me, to send their kids to school, and some haven't.  That is the beauty of parenting in our society---you are mostly free to parent as you see fit, to make decisions that are in the best interest of yourself and your children.

For me, personally, I feel the best interests of my children are as follows:
1. routine and structure of school in general.
2. routine and structure of school especially in a heightened security setting when they may or may not have anxiety about all the unknowns in life.  Sending them to school lets them know that we keep living, even though life can be uncertain and scary.  (Life is uncertain and scary even when there isn't a nonspecific threat.)

I have posted some things on FB in an effort to interject a more rational, reasonable consideration into the mix.  Many of the posts I have seen on Facebook would, if they could, actually make a screeching sound.  A high-pitched tone of "What are YOU going to do?" or "How many of YOU are sending your kids to school?"

As a person who lives with heightened anxiety everyday of her life, I cannot make fun of people who are so freaked out that they opt to keep their kids at home.  I can't make fun of their fear.  But I do wish they would make a different choice for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being that they are allowing their own anxiety to infiltrate into their kids.  Still, it is their choice and their kids.

I don't want to be catty and shitty and reactionary.  I don't want to judge people for their decisions, but I find myself being so anyway, especially when they make asinine comments about other people's choices.

Someone I know from my kids' school posted, "God gave us 6 senses and stupidity isn't one of them." This person then went on to say he is keeping his kids home today.  I had to laugh at his comment because 1. there are 5 senses and 2. his statement suggests that people who send their kids to school today are stupid.  I suggest that people who don't realize there are actually 5 senses might want to reconsider whom they call stupid.  Furthermore, I know this person's child has special tutoring for math each week when I volunteer (so I witness this with my own eyes).  I hope he works with her on her math today while she is at home with him.

That is both funny and pathetic.....on my part and his, I think.

The truth is that if something were to happen to any of my kids as a result of the nonspecific threat at school, I would be devastated.  But if something were to happen to any of my kids in a car accident while I was driving them to the grocery, I would be devastated (and this is a MUCH more likely scenario).  If they were to be shot when I took them to a movie theater, I would be devastated.  (Honestly, I was more concerned when D took N to see the new Star Wars movie over winter break at the new, very packed theater near our house than I am about this school thing).

I am going to die, and my children are going to die, and there isn't really much I can do about it.  I could maybe, possibly, postpone it, if it was a disease, but death is a fact.  A scary, troubling, heartbreaking fact.  

No amount of keeping them home is going to change that.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Potty language in da house!

I happen to be a fan of the occasional use of curse words to accentuate a point or inject some humor or lightness into a discussion.  However, the overuse of curse words makes a person sound like an idiot.  This is not a fine-line thing.  There is a vast chasm between witty use of foul language and what might be typified as redneck use.

My sons have discovered curse words, and I am happy to say that, despite my occasional use of such words (typically in a reaction to some boy thing they have done in an effort to destroy and/or defile the house), their interest in these words has stemmed from riding the school bus.

I have been asked about the word "fec" and have explained that "fec" means for a man to put his penis in a woman's vagina.  I have had to repeat this definition at least twice.  The boys are totally nonchalant about this, while N runs into the other room saying, "OH MY GOD, I'M NOT LISTENING!"

On Sunday, M said, "Mommy, I know what "ass" means.  It means your penis."

I replied with, "Do you want to know what ass means?" and he pointed at me and went, "Ahhhh" as if he hadn't just said "ass" a second before and that I was the one with a nasty potty mouth.

I explained that "ass" is his butt, his bottom, his bahoofie, and he excitedly yelled, "I was SO CLOSE!"

Yesterday, G got frustrated while playing with his Kindle, and I heard him say, "I really want to say the "S" word right now."

G occasionally watches youTube to see Minecraft videos.  Some are musical parodies (One More Fright which is a play on Maroon 5's One More Night) and are fine, but others show these teenage/young adults playing Minecraft.

G learned the terms "suck balls" and "faggot" from one such video.  He didn't ever use them; D overheard it and told me.  I discussed these words with G....ok, I discussed "faggot" because "suck balls" is rude but not something to which I would take offense.  There are many things about motherhood that, in my estimation, do feel sucky-ballish, but there is no reason to ever use the word "faggot."  When I explained that people use the word "faggot" to hurt other people's feelings, he immediately took a dislike to the word.

Maybe it is because I am an English teacher, but I feel very strongly that I want my kids to know the meanings of words and avoid making particular words "taboo."  If the kids have half of my issues, they will love anything that an authority figure urges them not to do or say, so I would be doing a disservice to myself to make a big stink over them asking about these words.

My calm, matter-of-fact approach seems to be working.  I mean, G could have actually said "shit," but he opted for the "S" word.

And....the truth is that my boys figuring out curse words is pretty darn hilarious.....even though I would never admit it to them.  

Friday, January 1, 2016

Quirks (New Years and pets and ????)

New Years is such a goofy concept.  Can we all agree (probably not) that it really is an arbitrary man-made delineation of time that doesn't actually mean anything?

So I don't get all hoopty-hoop over NYE, although I do superstitiously eat cabbage on NYD because my parents, who are as frugal as they come, always serve cabbage in the hopes that it will bring more wealth.  We aren't going to my parents this year on NYD, so I bought egg rolls.  I'm not cooking a whole head of cabbage.

My own NYD on which to be better than I was before (bigger, stronger, faster) begins on the Monday that the kids and husband resume their school and work schedules.  I can resume normalcy.  I can go to the gym every day if I want (I don't and won't, but I could....).  I can toss out all the Christmas cookies and hide all the candy (if I don't see it, I don't eat it.)  I can get back into the routine that allows me to clean my house (with all of us here for 2 weeks, it is just pointless for me to clean up much).

This isn't to say it has been a bad winter break.  It has been pretty good, but I think the best thing for sticking to resolutions (if I were the type of person to make such things) is a routine in which to put them.

But I don't make resolutions, partly because there is no real meaning to the arbitrary NYD and partly because if everyone else is making resolutions then I definitely don't want to be part of that.

Another of my weird quirks is my philosophy of pet names (a book club friend's post about her new dog made me think about it).

I had a pretty strict name philosophy about the kids' names.  They had to be names that could not be shortened/nicknamed.  I love the name Catherine, but I dislike Kate, Katey, Kathy and/or Kat. I realize that some children do manage not to get stuck in the nickname rut, but it seems like it is a constant battle, and I'm not that diligent.  When D and I threw this requirement in with his requirement that they be names that people had heard but very infrequently, it got pretty dicey.

My requirements with pet names is that they have to not be human names, and they have to be a little oddball.  Shanks was named after the Jane Yolen's book King Long Shanks.  Gonzo was named after the Muppet and Hunter S. Thompson (gonzo journalism).  Our new kitties are Slippers and Skits (short for skittish).  Other names that I think make great pet names:

Nerdle / Nurdle (this is actually my cousin's dog's name, and I love it)

My friend named her dog Larry, which is actually a name that I prefer as a pet name instead of a human name.  Maybe because Larry is a nickname for Lawrence, and I so dislike nicknames?

(Of course, I should say I feel about all these things the way I do about chino pants.  I don't like them in my own life, but I certainly don't really care what other people name their kids and/or their pets or wear on their bottom halves.  Do what you want....