Mothering Instincts in Training

Girl Child is obsessed with Littlest Pet Shop figurines. She never really got into the Barbie doll thing (like I did), or the baby doll thing (me, again).  There was a brief foray into the Polly Pocket epidemic, but her love for all things LPS (Littlest Pet Shop for those of you not hip to the lingo) has never wavered and, in fact, has only grown stronger.  I’m totally cool with this because she’s nine and borderline preteen, an age where she may wake up one morning and abandon all toys altogether.  So kudos for remaining a little girl for a little while longer.

She loves them.  Like, LOVE loves them. A deep love as if they’re her own children. “They’re my best friends,” she once declared (collective aaaaaawwwwweee….). She makes videos with them. Has written scripts and acts out their “life”. She has “apartments” set up around her room where they live. And she tucks them in at night.

Yesterday, one of her good friends from school was over to play. There had been some previous discussion about a possible LPS trade, of which I had my concerns. It has been my experience, as a mother of nearly sixteen years, that trades often do not end well.

As I eavesdropped (because I’m classy like that) on the negotiations, I feared that my GirlChild wasn’t really 100 percent into this transaction and if I were a better mother I would have inserted myself into the situation and suggest that perhaps they sleep on it and see how they feel about the arrangement over the next couple of days. But I didn’t because I’m not. I allowed the exchange to take place, and the friend to walk out the door with her mother…and then twenty minutes later watch my own daughter crumble under the immense traders remorse and the unbearable guilt she was feeling about giving her “best friends” away and how she MADE A MISTAKE AND SHE WANTS TO TRADE BAAAAAAAACK!!!  Heart. Broken.

So, I did the only thing I could, and contacted the mother to relay the dilemma, and “could the girls please trade back tomorrow?” (today). Of course she understood and would talk to her own daughter.  And here I sit, worrying all morning, wondering if the trade back took place on the playground this morning before school…or if they weren’t able to find each other before class started…and if not, worrying that my daughter’s mind is not at all on the lessons taking place in her classroom, but instead, anxiety ridden wondering when she will get her best friends back.

And if the trade back isn’t able to happen before the end of the school day, I will pick my daughter up at three o’clock, she will get in the car…and because she has a phobia about crying in front of her peers in school….she will promptly burst into tears the minute her ass hits the seat.

Fingers crossed, kids.

The Real Tragedy Here is that My Phone Takes the Worst Pictures Ever

One week ago today I returned home from my study group to a ringing home phone with the school nurse on the other end. I brace myself for the possible, “your son is running a fever,” or, “your daughter has pink eye” that these calls usually bring. Or that perhaps they have head lice and I’m going to have to shave my child’s head in the parking lot of the school before they even enter my car. But this day was special. “Your daughter fell and hurt her ankle. You should probably come and get her to have it looked at.” I hang up thinking my daughter is probably milking, for all it’s worth, a non-injury and I’m silently wishing she would man up.

I arrive at the school to find her teacher and the principal standing outside the nurse’s office. Well this can’t be good.

“She fell off the monkey bars at morning recess,” Mrs. Teacher informs. “Her classmate told me that your daughter hurt herself and I asked her if she was okay and she told me she was fine,” she continued. “And she genuinely seemed like there was no problem so I didn’t investigate further” she says (and I paraphrase).

“Then when it was time to go to lunch. She limped. I looked. I gasped. We went to the nurse.” (again, I paraphrase)

When I entered the nurse’s office I think I wore my best poker face when confronted with the substantial swelling on the outer part of her left ankle that left her foot cocked inward at a very unnatural angle. Fifteen minutes later we’re in the emergency room and an hour after that she’s leaving on crutches and a “wet” splint on her broken ankle. Three days later she’s in a permanent cast for the next four weeks.

She never cried. Not once. In fact, she was on some sort of adrenaline rush that left her super chatty. She’s a tough cookie, that one…says the woman who cried when she stubbed her toe really REALLY hard that one time.

One could argue that the monkey bars at school are dangerous. But hell, life is dangerous. I have a girlfriend who broke her foot getting out of bed in the morning. I have another who misjudged the last step on her flight of stairs and broke her ankle. I almost killed myself getting out of a chair from sitting position because my heel caught in the hem of my skirt.  And the same goes for that one time I stepped on my own pants walking down the stairs.  And who here hasn’t tripped over that imaginary bump in the carpet causing one to stumble and/or fall flat on their face? Life. It will break your shit.

Blinged out crutches courtesy of Mr. Farklepants (photo from his super badass camera)…

Warning: The Dad Voice May Contain Profanity and Bursts of Furious Anger

I was once one of those young childless people who, upon witnessing a public out of control full-blown toddler meltdown, would obnoxiously declare that when I have children I will never allow that to happen. Then I had my first baby and shit got real…real fast. Sometimes kids are just gonna do what they’re gonna do; they’re like people that way. Sure, as a parent, in your on the job training, you may learn a few techniques to run interference on a tantrum or how to thwart it, or how to prevent it from happening in the first place, or how to put that fire out in record time. But, let’s face it, sometimes there are those moments where if your child decides to lose his mind at the restaurant dinner table, that’s exactly what is going to happen and take your meal to go. And while you’re immersed in the frustrations that go along with toddlerhood, you tell yourself that as they get older it will get easier because at least you will have the ability to reason with them. Talk it out. Explain how their behavior affects others. And for a couple of years you do get that reprieve.

Then there is a teenager in your house. And that makes you long for the days of wedging your flailing, screaming three year old securely under your armpit, and walking out of the store leaving a cart full of groceries in aisle five. Even in those moments where you felt you had lost control of your small child, you really did have the upper hand. If it happened in public, you left. If it happened at home, well, go to town little dude…knock yourself out… I will just be right over here ignoring you, Punkass kid.

I’m still reeling from a recent act of teenage defiance that, despite the details, left me feeling much more ill prepared for this parenthood job than I had previously thought. And thank God for Mr. Farklepants and his ability to open up an epic can of “dad voice” that would knock any teenager on the receiving end down a peg or two because I, admittedly, had not trained hard enough for this.

Cialis: Because you Never Know when that Ordinary Moment will Turn into a Public Peep Show

I don’t know, maybe I’m just getting old, but I seem to be increasingly put off by overt public displays of affection. I don’t mean things like simple hand-holding, a quick hug, or peck on the cheek. I’m talking about things that last a little longer than they should. Things that, if they’re happening in your vicinity, you’re uncomfortable and trying to look anywhere but at IT.

A man’s arm around a woman’s waist while walking through the mall is kind of sweet…when his hand is resting on her ass, it’s creepy. I get teenage love and all the raging hormones that go along with it, but for goddsake find the backseat of a car because I don’t want to watch your amateur tongue wrestling in the booth next to mine at Denny’s causing me to lose my appetite for my Grand Slam or Moons Over My-Hammy. Ditto for getting to second base (there really is a Wiki for everything!).

None of this compares to the bawdy display witnessed while awaiting my flight home at the Alaska Airlines gate. It was a May-December romance -heavy on December- an age discrepancy that was almost mind-boggling. But? Consenting adults, blah blah blah, gross…whatever. These two were this close to tearing each others clothes off. He was like a musthing elephant, all aggressive and eager. She was like a wailing cat in heat…the kind that rub its business on anything to relieve the urge to get laid. The kissing was loud and slurpy and repetitious. And happening three feet away from my very uncomfortable person. They were clearly embarking on a sex fueled getaway and it was going to start RIGHT NOW.

Visit us next week when we discuss topics such as “You Call That Music???”, and “Get off My Lawn!”.

Direct From the Screeching Halt Files

Our oldest son has reached that age where he enjoys his personal freedom and, given his druthers, would rather spend time with his friends, preferably away from mom and dad home. He’s also become very particular about where he will allow himself to be seen in public with his mom and dad family. While this somewhat new development isn’t the highlight of my day, I do understand it. Mr. Farklepants and I have been relatively loose with the rules so long as he lets us know where he’s going, where he is, and who he is with. Ninety percent of the time he is with his two closest friends, whom for the sake of this post we will call Steve and Peter. They’re good kids, high achieving when it comes to school, and come from normal families with responsible parents. There have been times where we parents have consulted with one another about the safety of letting the boys attend an unchaperoned event and we even take turns with drop off and pick up if the destination requires a car ride. If they’re hanging out locally, they ride their bikes, scooters or walk.

Yesterday was one of those days that our son was hanging out with Steve and another friend I’d never met, “Dave”. But they’re journey originated at Steve’s house and throughout the day BoyChild#1 would update us on his whereabouts. When it got closer to dinner time I encourage our son to join us and asked him to invite his friends, and even bribed him with a freshly baked chocolate cake. All three declined as they’d just had McDonalds and it was later when I received the text asking if they could stop by for cake and if it would be alright if they had a sleepover at Steve’s. No problem. The boys arrive, we meet Dave, they all have their cake and are set to leave for Steve’s house. I ask the boys if they’d like to have a ride instead of walk. It’s not a long walk but it is up hill a ways.

My son says, “that’s okay, Dave has a car.”

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH (you know that sound when someone bumps the record player and the needle skids across the vinyl? That happened.)

In that very instant I felt as if someone had shoved me in a funnel that was lit at the far end. And through the light coming at me where all the most important events of my life leading up to that point with all the less important stuff, like what I had for lunch on a Tuesday when I was nine, whipping by in my peripheral and everything got very quiet like I was swimming beneath the surface of a pool filled with caramel. When my world stopped spinning my oldest son stood before me but it took about 12 seconds for him to appear to be the age his is currently. Because when I first got control of my surroundings there was an infant standing in front of me that quickly changed to a toddler, then preschooler, then elementary aged, then it had braces, then they were gone, and there was my 15 year old.

And that my friends, is what your brain looks like on PARENTHOOD.

The Chemistry of Dumb

I’m Not Nearly as Smart as I Previously Thought:

This molecular and cellular biology class just might kill me. I know I said that about my intermediate algebra class (believe me, I said it, just not here) but there is a new champion in town that has been crowned “You Are Not Smart Enough For This Class, Who Do You Think You’re Kidding?”. The only prerequisite for this class was intermediate algebra also known as the class that tarnished my 4.0 GPA with that “B” I earned. Although, truth be told, now that my academic record is no longer perfect, the pressure is off. Kinda like when you get a scratch on your brand new car…you’re no longer tiptoeing around and rubbing it down with your hot breath and a cloth diaper, AMIRIGHT? But you know you’re in dire straights when you’re consulting your 10th grade son with your homework questions. Because he’s in his second semester of chemistry and knows whats up. I’m a little pissed off that an introduction to chemistry course was not a prerequisite or at the very least recommended so that I would be able to understand any little part of what I’m doing…and who’s looking forward to occupying a bed in the hospital when I’m a nurse someday? Luckily the lab quizzes were take-home because, ohmylord, did I need to consult ALL of my notes. Repeatedly.

Men will be Boys:

I witnessed two grown and otherwise normal looking men come this close to beating the snot out of each other in the Super Walmart parking lot…over a parking space. Let me see if I can describe an accurate picture. Toyota guy comes around the corner and wants the empty corner spot at the far end of the lot but is waiting for oncoming Mazda guy to pass and make his right hand turn to get a clear shot at it. Except that in the meantime, Mercedes guy pulled up behind Toyota guy and at his angle is blocking Mazda guy from executing his right hand turn. So they are all just sitting there. Stuck. Because Toyota guy MUST HAVE THAT EXACT SPOT out of the HUNDREDS of open spaces because the Super Walmart parking lot, she is vast and huge. So Mercedes guy honks at Toyota guy. Then again. Then again, like HOOOoooooOOONNKK?? Then Toyota guy JUMPS OUT OF HIS CAR and bounds to the driver door of Mercedes guy who has also bolted from his car in a “come at me bro” stance, both screaming in each others faces and their chests probably less than an inch apart. Meanwhile, Mazda guy doesn’t want any part of this bullshit and throws it in reverse to get the hell out of dodge. Smart move, Mazda. While I was secretly hoping that Mercedes guy would deliver a roundhouse kick to Toyota’s head, because Toyota was really the dick in this scenario, they must of come to some mutual understanding about how they’re assholes just protecting their respective prides because both returned to their cars without incidence and Toyota guy got his parking space of choice, and Mercedes guy peeled out down the driveway at Mach 2. Presumably to illustrate his furious anger.

I wonder if they crossed paths inside?

My Apologies to Lloyd Bridges

I had my first class of the spring session yesterday, and upon meeting my molecular and cellular biology professor who is exactly the way you’d picture a lecturing scientist to look complete with jeans and a sports coat with leather patches on the elbows, my first reaction was, “Oh! He looks like that actor…ummmm…the one…it’s right on the tip of my…shit.” Yes. That actor. The one almost no one can immediately and accurately recall because he looks so much like the other actors that are all often mistaken for one another. Here’s how I broke it down…and wasn’t even remotely close until I could get home and IMDB the hell out of everyone:

It’s the actor who looks like the guy who played the president in Independence Day, I can never remember his name, (it’s Bill Pullman…poor Bill Pullman) but it’s not him I just always think it’s him.

Kinda like the guy from Full House but it’s not him because, when in doubt, it’s never the guy from Full House, Dave Coulier.

Then I have to run the litany of Bridges:

Not Lloyd.

Eek! Too many eyebrows. It’s not Beau either.

Not Jeff either but oooh lahh lahhh. Beau got all the brow hair and Jeff got all the unbridled, gritty male magnetism. Oh. Yes. He. Did. Jeff won that.

Then that always leads me to William Hurt whom I immediately dismiss because I know he was in the Big Chill and it’s not him, he just gets included in this puzzle every. single. time.

I know it’s the guy who was in Dumb and Dumber and was also Flap in Terms of Endearment and it’s sad that those are the only movies that I’m absolutely sure he’s in because I know he’s done so much more.

Jeff Daniels! That’s it! We’ll play this game again the next time I see one of these men in a movie. Except for the guy from Full House. Because it’s never the guy from Full House.

**all images Google Images** and apparently I’m not the only one who can’t put the faces of these men with the names because the internet is bursting with comparisons.

This Self-Control is Brought to You by Cookies

Yesterday I baked a couple of batches of espresso biscotti dipped in dark chocolate. I had never made biscotti before, mainly because I’d never particularly cared for overly-hard cookies, but I had some this past weekend in a coffee house on my trip out of town and it was all kinds of delicious. Since I had never made it myself, I really had no idea what to expect, what the dough’s consistency is supposed to be, how it’s supposed to look going into the oven and so on. The dough? Is super gooey-sticky and I’m supposed to get it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly floured means that you’re really going to need about a cup’s worth just to be able to knead it into something manageable and to prevent your hands from becoming espresso biscotti dough gloves because this stuff isn’t kidding around with the sticky. Fortunately I had the foresight to remove my wedding rings to prevent their certain destruction. I would have taken pictures to document my progress but I couldn’t operate the camera over the noise of my excessive profanity.

[Totally unrelated side note: the heater just kicked on and slammed a door shut somewhere in the house and I screamed like a little girl]

The biscotti turned out fabulous and today I’m going to attempt a lemon variety because I am determined to master this skill. I am nothing if not obsessive compulsive.

Shop til you drop or your husband says to stop. It’s the beginning of the year so Mr. Farklepants and I had the annual discussion of pulling in the reigns on spending until after tax season. Well, more like he made his annual declaration and I engaged in my annual listening. And the minute his statement falls out of his mouth I decide that the sweater I recently purchased is the best thing I’ve ever bought and I must go back and get one in every color. As if he just said to me, “we have to be careful about duck duck goose.” Which is another reason why I’m baking. It will keep me occupied so that I do not get in my car and go spend $100 on four $25 sweaters at H&M. Because sometimes I’m compelled to do exactly what I was asked not to do. I’m like a toddler that way.

That will be $25 for Your Luggage and also Your Dignity

I do so love to travel. I also think it more than a tad ridiculous that for security purposes we have to remove our shoes, jacket/sweater/hoodie/cardigan, scarf, and surrender our half empty bottle of water that we forgot we stuck in our purse, just to be granted access to the airport gate. I hate that instead of planning to wear an outfit that you think is fashionable so that you look like you have a modicum of taste and pride in how you present yourself to the public, you have to dress in attire that is easy to disassemble and reassemble in the shortest amount of time possible like a quick-change artist in some old-timey, vaudeville act. Then there is the humiliation of the full-body scanner that shows, whomever is manning the booth, all your naughty bits. In other words, if you choose to use commercial airlines as your mode of transportation, the federal government has to look at your nipples and vagina first.

Am I alone in thinking this seems a tad extreme?

In other traveling news: If you are a grown, middle-aged male, adequately groomed, and carry an iPhone…then you should be aware that common decency dictates that you utilize the first available in-flight restroom…like an adult person…to relieve your cabin pressure related chronic flatulence and not alleviate your bowels in the seat located directly in front of me…like an animal…you disgusting creature. Your stench was inescapable and tear inducing. I hate you.

I Also Appreciate Being Called Ma’am Because I Earned it

What is it with society that causes it to operate under the assumption that older women need to be complimented in such a way to make them feel younger? To try to give them that rush of …hey! I still got it!…? I’m forty and I’m fine with that. I was fine at thirty-eight and thirty-five. I’ve always been comfortable with my age. Well, that’s not entirely true. I spent my twenty-eighth year freaking out because I was going to be twenty-nine which meant I was that much closer to thirty. But by the time I actually turned thirty I was a-o-kay with being an age where society deems you mature enough to be taken seriously as opposed to the pat you on your head oh you’re only in your twenties patronizing tone with which prior to turning thirty I was often treated by “elders” (and by elders I mean: people who often weren’t more than five to ten years my senior).

Why ask to see my drivers license when I’m buying wine or liquor with my grocery purchase when I’m so obviously WELL OVER twenty-one? Ditto in restaurants. It’s not flattering, it’s patronizing. It’s like saying, I know you’re middle aged so maybe this will brighten your day because HOW MUCH DOES IT SUCK to be MIDDLE AGED, AMIRIGHT?

Are there certain things I miss from youth? Certainly. Like I wish my foundation didn’t settle into the wrinkles on my face an hour after it’s applied. I miss my veinless legs. I miss skin with elasticity. I miss my youthful hands. I have mom-hands…they’ve weathered a lot of storms. But hey, I also miss riding down the street on my bike, barefoot, to the corner market to buy bubble gum and my biggest worry was that they’d be out of strawberry Hubba Bubba. Such is life. All in all I’m okay with the aging me.

I have two younger sisters. And when I say younger, I mean, a seventeen and twenty year age difference.

[An aside: Oy this sweater! So cute in person but photographs as if I’m eight months pregnant]

Mom remarried when I was a teenager, started from scratch…blah, blah, blah…go Mom! And for most of my adult life I have been mistaken as my sisters’ mother. I don’t hold that assumption against anyone who has made it because I am, after all, old enough to be their mother. And my youngest sister is only five years older than my oldest child. And it often goes like this:

In a restaurant with my sisters: Waitress, “Oh! Are these your beautiful daughters?”
Visiting my sister at her job to go to lunch: Receptionist to my sister, “Oh! Is this your mom?”
At the grocery store with my children plus my sisters: Cashier, “Are all of these your kids?!?”

And so on…. Sometimes I correct people, sometimes we’re just like, “mother/daughter shopping trip?”…yeaaahhh, that’s what this issss soooo…yeahhh. We give each other that look that says, “You know what? I’ll just be mom. That lady that give birth to us? Forget her, I’m getting all the recognition for it, so we’ll just call her grandma”.

Again, I’m fine with it. In fact, it’s almost become kind of a running joke amongst the three of us. But when we were out on our traditional Black Friday shopping trip this past season, one of those pushy mall kiosk trolls WHOM I HATE, attempted to halt us to listen to his spiel about whatever kiosk crap it is he was trying to hock and all three of us avoiding eye contact and shaking our heads NO…he then turns from my sisters’ attention and says in a complimentary tone, “how about for your lovely sister?”. OH FECKING FECK how this got my blood boiling! First of all, I AM their sister, you dolt. And secondly (also finally) if you’re going to use that tactic to try to woo a sale out of a woman you think you’ve just complimented by assuming the woman is, in fact, the mother by thinking you’ve made her feel pretty and special…you’d better be damned sure that the woman IS entirely too old to actually be the sister. Like, she better be eighty.

Because otherwise it just makes you look like a penis.