Category Archives: life

Spanish Guy

Four score and seven years ago….  Eighteen years and four days ago a woman asked me out on a date and I said YES. And before you get all excited thinking I’m sharing a bit of sordid history here, you should know the woman was a graduate school friend of mine, and she wasn’t asking me to go on a date with HER because she was already married, to a guy. Rather, she was trying to nudge another classmate of mine, a young, hot Spanish Guy (only it turns out he wasn’t really Spanish), into asking me out.

Spanish Guy had tickets to a baseball game. There we were, this gang of friends and classmates, hanging out in the Ratskeller, having drinks and talking after class and Spanish Guy happens to mention these baseball tickets. He had an extra ticket, did anyone want to go to the game with him?

I do! I do! Pick me. PULEEEEESE PICK ME, PICK ME PICK ME PICK ME PICK ME, I screamed in my head. But it felt like middle school gym class all over again. Who, out of the group of us sitting around that table, would be chosen to be on Spanish Guy’s team, to get to go that baseball game with him?

I held my breath, the wait was excruciating. It was baseball, after all, a guy’s sport. Mark expressed interest in the tickets. I was certain he was going to pick Mark, I wouldn’t even be given a second thought. Damn you, Mark, I thought.

Because, you see, I had a thing for Spanish Guy. A crush, I guess you’d say. But I had it bad. I’d had it since the very first day of my very first class in graduate school, from the very first moment I laid eyes on him. I about broke my face smiling at him whenever I saw him, but trying not to smile too much, lest I seem like some kind of smiling freak. But up until that night at the Rat, Spanish Guy seemed rather nonchalant, like it didn’t matter to him if I was around or not.

But then Karen intervened. She told Spanish Guy to take me to the game. Or she told me that I should go to the game with Spanish Guy. She told Mark to buy his own damn tickets if he wanted to go to a baseball game. Honestly, it’s been 18 years, my memory is a little fuzzy on some of the details. But to make a long story short, in the end, IT WAS ME! I GOT PICKED! I was the CHOSEN ONE! I was on the team!

A few days later Spanish Guy came by my house and picked me up for our date. I was sporting new clothes, having labored over my wardrobe, nervously hoping to look my best. Hoping with all my might to pass some sort of worthiness test. Spanish Guy’s brother, and his friends, and his brother’s friends would be at the game, and I really wanted them to like me. To think that I, a GIRL, was worthy of sitting in that stadium seat next to Spanish Guy.

I don’t remember which major league team won that particular game. But if you’re keeping score, you should know that I won. That baseball game was the first date of many, which eventually gave way to that old childhood song: Belle and Spanish Guy, sitting in a parking garage at graduate school, K.I.S.S.I.N.G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage. It’s been 18 years since that first date, baby, almost 8 years since the baby carriage, and yes, I’d do it all again. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. Even though I learned that you weren’t really Spanish after all.

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Filed under anniversary, first date, life, marriage, memory

Memory Lane. With Shadows.

“Memory,” as the Barenaked Ladies sing, “is a strange thing.” In the last 24 hours I’ve found that to be very true, indeed.

Like millions of other people, I’m on Facebook. I’ve enjoyed catching up with old friends, sharing stories, sharing memories, and looking at photos, both old and new.

One of my friends recently posted some photos from our high school days on Facebook. I remarked that somewhere around this house, I had a box with similar photos. I vowed to dig it up and scan the images for the world to see.

Last night was that night. I checked all the places I thought the box would be: the spare room closet, under the bed, the dark recesses of the upper reaches of my own closet. But the box wasn’t there. Eventually, after much digging, I found it in the basement, buried under a mass of other boxes. It was old, and dusty, and it made me sneeze.

My son watched with curiosity as I opened the box and pulled out items: A Senior Memory book, corsages from homecomings and prom, old autograph books from 5th through 8th grade, certificates and test results and lots and lots of old photos.

The autograph books were a sight to behold. I didn’t even know I still had them. I didn’t remember EVER having had them. But here they are, solid, proof.

“Never kiss at the garden gate. Love is blind but neighbors ain’t.” Noelle wrote that at the end of 5th grade. What’s all this about kissing? I wondered as I read it. Kissing in 5th grade? It wasn’t until 6th or 7th grade when my friends secretly passed around Judy Blume’s book Forever, that I learned much about kissing. I read those passages with wide eyes. Kisses indeed!

Kathy, my best friend, whom I’ve kept in touch with all these years wrote simply, “Have a nice summer. It was nice nowing (sic) ya!” As if our friendship was over. Ha!

I don’t remember what Ermis did to me, but he wrote, “To Belle, The person I got good on her birthday.”

Alyson simply told me to have a fun summer and “don’t drown while swimming.” I must have taken her advice. I’m still here.

Susan told me to “Stay Cool and Stay High.” If I recall correctly, she had a slew of older sisters. This was the late 70s. I bet they smoked pot.

Shawn wrote: “I really enjoyed being your friend this year. I will always remember you. You have been a close friend and I don’t care what other people say, but I say you’re the best.” What DID other people say about me? I had no idea. The way I remember things with Shawn, well, we rode the bus together, and we had the same 5th grade teacher. One day Shawn had a necklace. It was imitation gold with crystals glued into it to look like diamonds. He was going to give it to his mother for mother’s day, or perhaps her birthday. Somehow, I convinced Shawn to give that necklace to ME instead. Maybe other people thought I was manipulative. How horrible was I? Oh my God, Shawn, I am so sorry. I’m glad you still thought of me as a friend, and for what it’s worth now, some 30 years later, I STILL HAVE THAT NECKLACE! It’s in mint condition, as I could never really bring myself to wear it. That’s how guilty I felt about talking you into giving it to me.

A turn through the pages of my autograph book from my middle school years left my husband asking “What did you DO to those kids?!” Sadly, this is where my memory begins to fail. “I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t remember.”

But maybe it gives me a glimpse into what THEY thought of ME.

Somebody who signed their name as “Tuna Fish” wrote “I don’t mean to be mean but you need Listerine, not a sip not a swallow, but the whole damn bottle.”

Andy said I was NOT a goodie goodie. And then he wrote that Damon said I had a big butt. Somebody, be it Andy, or Damon, or perhaps I myself, scratched that last part out with pen, but not so well that I couldn’t make it out.

Mark always thought I was mean. Melissa thought I was weird. Jon thought I was all right, and that must have been what kept me going after more autographs.

Eric “The Great”, David, and Jon, were all in love it with me. “It’s true, honest” someone wrote.

Shelley must have read Forever before me. She wrote “Two in a car, two little kisses, one second later, Mr. and Mrs.”

Linda offered “May your life be as long as Dolly Parton’s bra strap.”

Laura said I had a lumpy head!

Faye said I was conceited, and a few pages later Vivian backs her up with “To Belle, an ugly stupid, dumb, conceited pig!!! Just Kidding!! Your lovely, beautiful great, talented, sweet, friendly, friend. I’ve had a wonderful year with you. (I lie). Vivian.” And still, she wrote down her phone number and asked me to call her.

Andrea said she’s really sorry she met me, and Shannon said I was a wonderful person then wrote “signed, A Just Kidding Person. Shannon.” She’s on Facebook too. Hi Shannon!

By the end of our 8th grade year, Jon wrote that I should “Drop Dead”, and Ted simply wrote: “Fuck You!” (Thanks, Ted, I loved you too!)

But it wasn’t ALL bad. There were plenty of nice things written about me too. In fact, Sandy, whom I’m sad to say I don’t remember AT.ALL. wrote that I was her BEST FRIEND EVER. And my teachers all had good impressions of me. They wrote glowing statements telling me I was “one of the good folks”; one of the “best students ever”; “smart and intelligent”; their “favorite student”.

I found an envelope with my test results from the California Achievement Test from 11th grade to back up the smart and intelligent statements. Unfortunately, it also seems to refute Andy’s claim that I wasn’t a goody goody. The summary of pupil’s scores states: THIS STUDENTS ACHIEVEMENT IN BASIC SKILLS MAY BEST BE SUMMARIZED BY LOOKING AT THE TOTAL SCORES. IT CAN BE SEEN THAT HER TOTAL SCORES ARE BETTER THAN APPROXIMATELY 98 PERCENT OF THE NATION’S 11TH GRADERS IN READING, 99 PERCENT IN LANGUAGE, 83 PERCENT IN MATHEMATICS, AND 96 PERCENT IN TOTAL BATTERY. SHE HAS STRENGTHS IN CAPITALIZING I/PROPER NOUNS, TITLES, USING END MARKS, COLONS, AND SEMICOLONS, USING COMMAS, USING QUOTATION MARKS.

But I wasn’t perfect, not so perfect as to elicit such mean comments in my autograph book. The statement goes on to say: SHE MAY NEED TO REVIEW SPELLING CONSONANT SOUNDS, SPELLING ALL SOUNDS IN A WORD, SPELLING VOWEL SOUNDS, USING PRONOUNS. Personally, I think the CAT needed to review the use of CAPITILZATION.  And THANK GOD for spell check.

As I scanned photos into the computer to post on Facebook, I marveled at the things I’d glued into my Senior Year Memory book. Ticket stubs from concerts I don’t remember attending: Chicago, Adam Ant, BARRY MANILOW???!!!; from dances I don’t remember dancing at; playbills from school plays I don’t recall, yearbook seminar’s I hardly remember.

Gas was 89 cents a gallon when I graduated from High School in May of 1986. Movie tickets cost $4.50, unless you went to a matinee for $2.00.

I kept a list of the guys I dated (Why?!), and when and how long I dated them. The lengths of time seem off, much shorter than how I remember those days. Marty, 9th grade, 2 months. Brian, 10th grade, 6 months. Mike and Darryl, in turn, 2 months and 3 months respectively in the 11th grade. Lee, 2 months in 12th grade. I remember those days, those guys. But then I come to another name, Steve. Someone I supposedly dated the summer before and through the beginning of my senior year in high school. And I don’t remember him. AT.ALL. A face comes fuzzily to my mind, if I search hard enough. But is it Steve’s face, or is it simply someone I saw on a television commercial? I have no idea. The guys I list after Steve, I remember them. But Steve escapes me. Who was he? Where did we meet? What happened to us?

Memory. It’s a strange thing.

My brother has a great memory. He was able to confirm for me that yes, he remembers that I went to a Chicago concert. And Adam Ant concert. The name Steve, he says, is familiar, but no, he doesn’t remember him.

I had a story published in a magazine.  I didn’t remember this.  I opened the magazine wondering why I had kept it.  I flipped the pages and read poems and stories from other classmates, and then I saw my name.  The story I wrote.  When did I write it?  And who submitted it to the school magazine?

And so I’m left sorting through the stuff that fills this old box in front of me, turning the pages of a memory book. Left feeling like I’m sorting through the memories of someone else’s life. Trying to remember who the hell Steve was. And how the hell did I get to that Adam Ant concert?

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Filed under life, memories, middle school, nostalgia, old times, Steve

Baby Wants An Answer. And Wants It Now.

Last night, I sat near my seven year old son as he drifted off to sleep.  The lights were off, the room was quite, and I was about to leave when he rolled over and suddenly said, “Tell me a telling story, tell me about something funny I did when I was a baby.” 

“Okay,” I said.  “But only a short story.  It’s already past your bedtime. Let me think for a moment.”

But before I could begin to think of which baby story to tell, he interrupted my thoughts with, “How do babies get born anyway?  How do they come out?  Like how did I get out of YOU?”

My mind reeled.  I was frantically searching for answers.  For lies.  For anything I could use on this curious child to change to the subject and get him to go to sleep.  I’d already used “Shhhh! Be quiet and watch the movie!” when he’d asked that question during one of the opening scenes of Narnia: Prince Caspain the previous weekend.  Having already been used, that option was out.  Besides, we weren’t watching a movie at this particular time.

“Uh, uh, um…” was spiraling through my head. Not very helpful, I might add.

“Look!  Monsters!” I could have screamed.  Even, “Shhh… I hear something.  Did you hear that howling?”  I thought to ask.  “It sounded like a werewolf, don’t you think?” 

I contemplated any number of his fears, something to steer his mind in another direction entirely: fires, burglars, tornados, earthquakes… but he’d gotten SPECIFIC.  “How did I get out of YOU?” He’d asked.  And then also, I kind of wanted to get some sleep myself.  Scaring the shit out of him right before bedtime wasn’t really in my best interest.

In my desperation I considered this reply:  “You know, I don’t really remember, that was SEVEN years ago. Now go to sleep.” But even I knew that was lame. In fact, at the exact moment I thought of it, I could hear in my mind his likely response, “Mom! You remember. Tell me!”

And so I went with the only thing I could think of and tried to tell the truth as much as I could to my seven year old son.  And as I did so, I related things to a prayer, to squeezing muscles and to water balloons, and my son laughed wide eyed and wondered about poop.

“Well,” I said.  “You know, babies don’t really grow inside a mommy’s tummy.  At least not in the same place the food goes when the mom eats.  The mom has something inside her called a uterus.  It’s also called a womb… like in the Hail Mary prayer, the part where you say “…of thy womb, Jesus”  The womb is the uterus where the baby grows and it’s small and empty inside the mom’s body at first but as the baby grows inside the uterus, it stretches.” 

“Like a water balloon,”  I added.  “It’s small when it’s empty but when you add water it stretches out.”

“Okay,” my son said.  “But how does the baby get OUT?”  “Well…” I said, stalling to gather my thoughts.  “When the baby has been growing in the mommy for 9 months and is ready to come out, the body’s muscles squeeze really tight and push the baby out.”

“Like a water balloon,” I added again.  “If you fill the balloon with water but don’t tie the end of it, the water shoots back out again.” 

“Like POOP?!” He giggled wild eyed and nearly manic. 

“Well… uh… um… sort of like that, but the baby doesn’t come out in the same place that poop comes out.”  He was still giggling and, I could tell, slightly mortified at the thought of a baby coming out covered in poop. I imagined he was thinking about the woman on TV who swallowed her engagement ring whole after her boyfriend hid it inside a milkshake.  She had to retrieve the diamond ring days later, after it had made its way thought her digestive system.  She had to clean her own poop off the ring before she could wear it.

“What do boys have?”  I asked.  And he eyed me suspiciously and said with some alarm, probably imagining a baby emerging from one, “A PENIS?!” 

“Right,” I said. “BOYS have a penis. But girls don’t.  What do girls have?”

“A vagina!” He said. 

“Right!” I said.  “The mother’s body pushes the baby out of the uterus and it comes down a little tunnel and out the vagina.”

“Babies are small but they are kind of big.  So how do they FIT?” He wanted to know next.  So I explained again how the tunnel stretches just enough to fit the baby through and then once the baby is out, the uterus and the vagina shrink back to normal. Like an empty water balloon.

(A special thank you to whomever invented water balloons, by the way.)

“Oh, okay.”  He said, sounding bored now that he knew the baby didn’t come out the poop hole.  “Good night, mom.”  And just like that he rolled over and went to sleep.  This morning, thankfully, his questions were all about polygons.  Not babies.  

But just in case, I think I’d better go to the library and look for some age appropriate books.  Ones that hopefully will have some better explanations than I was able to come up with.   And the liquor store.  I think I’d better buy something to make myself a stiff drink.  I may need it when his classmates’ parents start calling tonight demanding to know what I told my son and why he’s repeating it to their innocent seven year olds who all know the stork delivers the baby.

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Filed under babies, children, kids, life, motherhood

Sunday School, Weenie Sabers, and The Sign of the Cross

I confess:  I miss the lazy Sunday mornings, the mornings where I could stay in bed, or if not in bed, at least in my pajamas, until almost noon, reading a book while Snags watched cartoons.  If we went to church, it was to the last mass of the day, but mostly we didn’t go at all. 

Now though, Snags is enrolled in Sunday school.  Our neighbor is his teacher. Her son is Snags’ friend. Two more of his friends from first grade are in his Sunday school class as well.  He enjoys it, and I’m glad.  Some weeks my neighbor drives him to Sunday School and my husband and I pick him up at the end and we all go to Mass together.  Other weeks we drop him off ourselves and go to mass while he’s in class.  Snags has decided we should alternate this.  One week he’ll go to church, the next he won’t.  I think he wants to ease back into it.

Most recently, Snags learned how to make the Sign of the Cross.  Last Sunday he happily reported: “Mom!  I earned a gold star for doing the Sign of the Cross right today!  I only had to do it twice to get it right!” 

“Wow,” I say in response.  “That’s great!”  I think back just a few weeks prior to this when he held up both hands and made an X with his forefingers.  “Isn’t THIS the Sign of the Cross?” he asked.  “No,” I said, “That’s more like the sign against vampires.”

Snags goes on to explain that it was difficult to make the Sign of the Cross in front of his Sunday school class because he was facing the class and because he holds the Wii nunchuck in his left hand… And no, I don’t have any idea what the Wii gaming system has to do with making the sign of the cross.  We have Wii Sports and We Ski, Star Wars the Force Unleashed, and Star Wars Legos, the Complete Saga.  Nowhere in that mix have I happened upon Wii Catholic Church, the Sign of the Cross (nunchuck required).  Go figure.

Next up in Sunday school learning, if you’re in First Grade and want to earn another gold star, is memorizing The Our Father.  “We can’t read it,” Snags informs me.  “We have to memorize it.”  I worry that he’ll mix it up with the rules of Tae Kwan Do he has to memorize.  Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, I’ll always finish what I start, sir!”

I didn’t realize that I was supposed to be teaching the rules of Tae Kwan Do to Snags.  I’d read them myself, of course, but when I got to number two, “I will always be a good brother or sister, sir!” I put the book away figuring that didn’t apply to Snags, as he’s an only child.  A week or two later his instructor corrected me, put it into perspective, and said to think about it in the biblical sense.

Which brings us back to Sunday school.  As Snags was going on about having to learn the Our Father, I thought to warn him that the Hail Mary is HAIL Mary, and not Hell Mary, as I once thought.  But before I could even form the sentence completely in my head, Snags took another breath and said, “And then we have to learn the Hell Mary!”

Hail Mary,” I said, trying to suppress a laugh.  It’s “Hail Mary.”  There isn’t a cuss word in the prayer.  Snags started to get upset, he hadn’t meant to say a bad word.  I tried to reassure him, told him how I also thought it was Hell Mary when I was a kid, but that it’s not.  The apple, they say, doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Or is it, Great Minds Think Alike?

I keep meaning to tell my neighbor, the Sunday school teacher, about the Hell Mary.  That maybe she ought to explain to the children the difference between Hail and Hell, Fire and Brimstone, whatever.  But then her son was playing in my yard the other day, playing with plastic light sabers, fighting a battle against evil.  He took the light saber, stuck it between his legs, and deemed it a Weenie Saber. 

I’d mention this to my neighbor, but then Snags has been going around and using his favorite tag blanket as a whip. We recently let him watch the first Indiana Jones movie, the one where Indie goes in search of the Ark of the Covenant, the container that held the tablets of stone that the Ten Commandments were written on.  Only Snags doesn’t call it the Ark of the Covenant, he calls it the Ten Commandments Box. 

I wonder if it’s big enough to hold a Weenie Saber?

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Filed under boys, church, humor, kids, life, parenting, Snags, Star Wars

Room Mom Woes and Wars

Let’s go back in time a bit, shall we?  Let’s go back to this time LAST YEAR, when I was the room mother for Snags’ kindergarten class, busy planning the Fall Party.  It’s the “FALL PARTY” because we cannot, in this era of political correctness, call it was it is, which is a Halloween Party.  No matter that parents send in decorations of bats and witches and mummies.  Those things, as everyone knows, are signs of AUTUMN, just as surely as the leaves changing color and the air turning crisp.  In fact, if you play your cards right (no, it’s not politically correct to admit to gambling), you just might find bats and witches and mummies hiding under that colorful pile of leaves you just finished raking.

But I digress.  The FALL PARTY.  I was the room mother.  My duties as room mother were to coordinate with the teacher and enlist parents to help donate supplies, food, crafts, and their time at the party.  I had a particular interest in this because Snags has food allergies, and without some role in the party planning, especially the food, the classroom could quickly turn from a party atmosphere to a danger zone.

And I gather, from talking to other room moms, that I was lucky.  Snags’ kindergarten teacher had a thing for SIMPLE.  One snack.  One game.  One craft. Perhaps two crafts if time allowed.  The party ran for approximately 2 hours, and all 18 children had to get a turn at the snack, the game, the craft.  Or two.

And things went well.  I survived the fall party, the holiday party (it’s really a Christmas Party, but please don’t tell anyone), the Spring Party, and the End of Year Party.  Things were simple, things were fun.

When first grade rolled around, I volunteered once again to be room mom.  I was told at first, by Snags’ first grade teacher, that another mother had “expressed interest” in being room mom.  When I explained that I’d like to be involved somehow, because of Snags’ allergies, I was told I would be THE ROOM MOM.  But that somehow morphed into being CO-ROOM MOM.  And I was okay with that.  Until…  My co-room mom called me, in SEPTEMBER, about planning the fall party.  The fall party is the day before Halloween.  So we had plenty of time, no?  And co-room mom went on about how she and ANOTHER CO-ROOM MOM (How did we get three room moms?), had been planning the craft activities and wanted to talk to me about the food situation.  And it was SEPTEMBER and OMG!  I can’t even decide what the hell to cook for dinner TONIGHT, let alone plan the snack for a party that is over 30 days away.

Eventually I agreed to meet, in person, with my co-room mom and HER co-room mom (whom I shall now call Thing One and Thing Two).  Thing Two seemed somewhat new at room mom duties and genuinely concerned about having the party be safe for my son, as well as the two other children in the class who also have food allergies.  Did I mention that food allergies are on the rise?  Note that three children out of 22 in ONE CLASS have them?  Thing One, however… Thing One.  Thing One was IN CHARGE.  She has taken it upon herself to be THE ROOM MOM.  Somehow, somewhere, and I don’t know how and don’t know where, CO-ROOM MOMS got dropped, and Thing One TOOK OVER ALL PARTY PLANNING AND PREPARATIONS THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

The Fall Party THIS YEAR?  Starts at 2:30, Ends at 3:20.  Those times are PER THE TEACHER.  So we have, if I remember first grade math, 50 minutes.  To accomplish the following activities planned by Thing One, THE ROOM MOM, with 22 children:

• Frost and decorate pumpkin shaped sugar cookies.
• Eat frosted and decorated pumpkin shaped sugar cookies.
• Eat grapes.
• Eat potato chips.
• Eat Fritos.
• Drink juice.
• Play Bingo.
• Play Bingo.
• Play Bingo.
• Hand out Bingo prizes.
• Hand out Bingo prizes.
• Hand out Bingo prizes.
• Read a Halloween Story.
• Decorate Halloween Bags.  And no, I don’t know why we are allowed to read a Halloween story or call them Halloween Bags, but Thing One and Thing Two thought the children could use the bags to collect their Trick-or-Treat candy the next day.
• Count and weigh pumpkin seeds and compare the weights for dry roasted pumpkin seeds verses wet pumpkin seeds.

Now, if ALL THAT wasn’t enough to keep 22 kids busy for 50 minutes, Thing One met THING THREE who had an idea:  Stuff popcorn into gloves and paint finger nails on the gloves to make “monster hands.”

But wait, it gets better.  Thing Three wants to bring in an air popper to the class room and let each kid pop their OWN popcorn. In the class room.  At the party.  And then the kids will take that freshly popped and burning hot popcorn and stuff a plastic glove with it.  Then they will dip the ends of the fingers of the gloves (which, if I may point out, will probably be MELTING from the hot popcorn) into paint to make finger nails.  VOILA!  MONSTER HANDS. (and no, I’m not sure if the monster hands are meant to be the melting gloves stuffed with hot popcorn or the children’s hands that now require a thick slathering of burn cream).

And OMG people!  FIFTY MINUTES.  TWENTY-TWO children.  I hope these kids are fast.  Because I just pulled out a calculator and 50 divided by 22 is 2:27 minutes.  Less than 2 ½ minutes PER child, to accomplish all of the above.  Granted, they aren’t doing things one at a time.  They won’t be standing in a long line waiting for the classmate in front of them to just move along already, you’re eating into MY 2:27 minutes of party time, but still.  Fifty minutes.  Twenty-two children.

And so I’m thinking, hey, what the hell?  Why don’t we go ahead and have the children plant the corn, grow it, harvest it, shuck it, dry it, break it off the cob into kernels, THEN pop it and stuff the hot popcorn into the plastic gloves.  We’ll have time for that, right?  We’ve got a full 50 minutes, after all.

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Filed under Fall party, Halloween, life, parenting, party planning, room moms, Snags

My Fault

Last Thursday night my husband and I returned from Back-to-School Night to find Snags and the babysitter relaxing on the sofa as they raptly watched Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase.  Actually, I think the babysitter was probably itching to leave and go home already, but Snags begged her to stay until the very end and so she sat, for the remaining 20 minutes of the movie, and did exactly as Snags instructed: “Watch this!  Watch!  Watch this part!  Watch!”

When we finally let her make her escape, Snags announced that he had a sore throat.  My husband gave him Children’s Tylenol and sent him to bed where all was well…  Until 2:30 in the morning, when Snags woke up felling very ill, and vomited.  “I feel better now!” he said, somewhat jubilantly, as he stepped back to flush the toilet. 

Friday morning dawned, and Snags, while not feeling entirely up to snuff, was able to eat a slice of toast and drink some water.  Since he kept that sustenance where it belonged, in his stomach, and he had no fever, just the same sore throat as the night before, I decided that he should go to school.  Because that vomiting?  Maybe it was just a fluke.  Maybe the Tylenol didn’t agree with him. And also?  It was only the second week of school.  You can’t start raking up absences in the second week of school.  Because the school?  They’re keeping score

It was also show and tell day.  Snag’s first grade teacher was bringing in a snake skin that her dog had sniffed out in her yard.  I mean, how cool would that be?  A kid with just a sore throat wouldn’t want to miss that, right?  Plus, said kid with sore throat had his own cool item for show and tell: a hornet’s nest knocked down from our roof (don’t worry, we sprayed it with killer bug spray and stuck it in a ziplock bag).

And so Snags got dressed and set off for school.  I kind of expected a call from the nurse that day, but it never came.  Snags soldiered on and stayed in school all day.  That afternoon I even took him, with his sore throat, to get his hair cut.

Saturday dawned dark and gray and the skies opened and rained upon us.  But it didn’t matter.  Snags was still fighting that sore throat so we stayed home where it was warm and dry and we could watch TV and play board games.  But by evening, Snags was decidedly miserable.  His throat still hurt, and he had a slight fever.  He was so miserable that he decided it was all MY fault.  As if I’d opened a box a sick and poured him a big bowlful of it for breakfast.  Here, eat this.  It will make your throat sore and you’ll get really grumpy and mean and blame me for your illness.  Good stuff.  He blamed me because I’m not.a.doctor.

“This is the WORST virus EVER!” he cried, over and over as he shot piercing accusatory glances in my direction. 

I tried to make him feel better.  I told him how I bet a bunch of kids in his class at school had sore throats too.  Because that always happens when school starts back up in the fall.  Kids get sick.  Viruses go around.  Snags, I said, could rest assured that he wasn’t the ONLY one feeling under the weather. It was just a virus, he’d fell better in the morning, I was sure.

And the thing about a bunch of kids in his class having sore throats too?  Ahem…cough… cough…  It’s probably true, NOW.  Because this morning we took Snags to one of those health clinics that’s open on Sundays with the hope that they’d do something to stop his whining and complaining and blaming… and they did!  They gave him an antibiotic for his STREP THROAT.  His STREP THROAT that I unwittingly sent him to school with on Friday.  His STREP THROAT that he started complaining about on Thursday night.  When the babysitter was here.

And so I’d just like to remind the babysitter, that I paid her very well, and she should think of anything else that she may have received on top of the cash I handed her as she walked out the door, as a special kind of bonus!

Mea culpa.  But then again, Snags was right.  I’m not.a.doctor.

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Filed under illness, kids, life, parenting, Snags

Perfect Insanity

There are certain things that drive me to the brink of insanity and they are these:
The sound of the dog licking her paws at night when I am trying to fall asleep.
The sound of cellophane crackling.
The sound of Snags playing Perfection in his bedroom at five o’clock in the morning.

That last one?  Heard it this morning.

The rule is, the kid is supposed to stay IN BED, and preferably in bed ASLEEP, until 7:30 a.m.   And that is the sole reason why I bought him a digital alarm clock.  So there could be no mistake on the hour. 

When I decided I’d heard enough, heard enough plastic pieces rattling around, heard enough small explosions as the timer ran out and the Perfection pieces flew into the air, I shakily climbed out of bed and opened his bedroom door. All the while repeating to myself, “it’s just a noise, don’t kill him.  It’s just a noise, don’t kill him…” 

GO.BACK.TO.BED! I nearly barked. 

He looked at me mildly, said, “But Mom, I’m just playing Perfection.”

GO.BACK.TO.BED!” I said again, perhaps a bit louder this time. “You don’t play perfection in the middle of the damn night,” I added as I turned out his bedroom light and yanked the door shut behind me.

“It’s not the DAMN NIGHT!” he cried back at me from behind his closed door. 

He’s been crying a lot lately, this child of mine.  I’m not sure but I think it’s the stress of first grade. Summer is over and now he can’t spend endless hours playing video games or building starships out of LEGOs.  In first grade, unlike kindergarten, there are no naps.  The kids have to be up and alert like the rest of us, for a full six hours straight. That kind of paying attention can wear you out, wear you down.

Snags comes home from school in the afternoons and lies upon the sofa.  He watches whatever cartoon he can find on Nickolodeon, his eyes glazed over.  He denies being tired even as he yawns, even as he “rests” his eyes.

And little things are getting to him.  Little things are setting him off.  Like yesterday, when I made him set the frog free. Snags caught a frog, or maybe it was really a small toad.  I don’t know.  I’m calling it a frog.  He brought it home and made a home for it inside an old aquarium that he set out on our front porch.  He put in some water, and some rocks and the frog.  And then he more or less left him there, in the aquarium, all alone.  He played with the frog sometimes, but he didn’t feed him.  He dropped the frog at least half a dozen times on its head, on the pavement.  I’m sure the frog, if he had the ability to think, must have wondered if he’d been captured and sent to Gitmo.  There was the small room where he was kept, Snags the guard who occasionally tortured him by manhandling him and dropping him on his head, and there was the isolation. Left all alone in the aquarium, in the bright sunlight, for days on end.  Five days to be exact.  And then there was the starvation. I’m not sure what frogs eat but I assume they eat bugs.  And no bugs were flying into the aquarium.  And the frog wasn’t let out to hunt on his own.  By yesterday I’d had enough and told Snags he had to set the frog free.

He went out to do so, but reluctantly.  I followed him out to make sure he did as I had instructed. He told me that he’d opened the frog’s mouth and looked inside.

 “HOW?”  I asked. 

“Want me to show you?” He said. 

“Yeah,” I said, curious now. 

But Snags wasn’t having any luck.  The frog’s mouth wasn’t opening.  In fact, the harder Snags tried to open the frog’s mouth, the harder he pressed upon the frog’s… chin? neck?, the more I feared he was going to rip open the flesh of the frog’s throat. I couldn’t bear it and so I asked Snags to stop.  I yelled at Snags to STOP.  Let the frog go NOW.

And Snags got upset.  “YOU NEVER LIKED FROGGY!”  He screamed, tears streaming down his face. “YOU DIDN’T LIKE HIM FROM THE MOMENT I GOT HIM,” he cried.  His face was red, contorted in anger.  His eyes bulged. Except for the tears I think he was a perfect picture of me, the way I felt when I heard him playing Perfection in the middle of the damn night. In the blink of an eye, the leap is made from peaceful calm to perfect insanity. Over a noise. Over Perfection.  Over a frog.   

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Filed under anger, boys, frogs, kids, life, parenting, Snags