I’m Cheating on My Husband (Honey, Don’t Read This)

Well… paybacks are hell;
And I deserve to suffer;
But it’s so worth it.
—————————————————————–

He is traveling… My mind wanders. A sly smile crosses my face as I picture possibilities.

What to do, what to do…

And like Phineas, a voice in my head shouts: “Maureen, I know what we’re going to do today! Make pancakes for dinner so the kids will like you more than dad.”

And with that, I cheat on Frank. I use his “out of town-ness” as a means to ingratiate myself to the children. Pancakes for dinner are just the start. There’s an indoor picnic (my 21st Century name for eating on the floor in front of the TV). There’s dessert and skipping brushing teeth. There a 3D movie in my bed, lights off, just like the movies.  There’s staying up just a little extra and no book reading.

I am evil. Bwah hah hah. Any chance I get to establish myself as the cool mommy, I take it. Even if it means cheating on Frank and doing with the kids something I would normally discourage in an otherwise normal school night.  You see, I don’t volunteer in the classroom; it’s taken me the whole year to schedule a “reading” session with my son’s class; the babysitter makes a better sandwich than I do and I’m pretty sure the girl scout troop is scared of me. So I’m going to take any advantage I can.

Mind you, I’m not good at hiding my cheating ways. Thirty seconds after this posts, his email will tweedle its arrival. He will read it (at least he claims he does), so I do this with full knowledge that he is now fully aware and I’m stone cold busted.

But he’s traveling right now and can’t do a damn thing about it.   Heh heh heh…

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Bath Time is Body Part Discovery Time

Hard questions: answers
rush out, untamed, left alone…
oh, what have I done?
——————————————————-

It’s Tuesday, and with my beloved traveling, it was up to me to handle bath time. No biggie. The kids are getting to be relatively low maintenance in the bath, with only my 6-year-old son needing some help to get things clean after a good soak. Partway through he called me to come back into the bathroom.

What’s up?

“Mom? What are these called again? I can’t remember.”

I peered to see what he was talking about, only to find him holding his penis up and away at an angle that made me cringe, while also pulling on his testicles rather vigorously.

Those? Below your penis? Those are your testicles.

“And what do they do?”

Well, *cough cough* you know how mommies have eggs inside them to make babies? Well daddies have sperm inside them to make babies with the mommies. The sperm is in your testicles. 

“I don’t understand. How does that work?”

(Oh shit, I thought.) Well, the sperm and the eggs combine inside of mommy to make a baby. I knew fully well this was inadequate and other, even more dreaded questions, were heading my way.

“But how does the sperm get there?” There was a note of concern in his voice.

The daddy puts the sperm inside of mommy. We have a special hole in our girl parts.  (What in the hell have I gotten myself into? Stop talking.)

“How does the sperm get out of me? Does it hurt?”

No. It doesn’t.

“But how? Do they have to cut it out?”

No, no, no. It comes out of the same hole that you pee out of.

He quickly looked at his penis now, still unnaturally pulled to one side.  A questioning look crossed his sweet face.  “Do they have to go inside and scoop it out?”  He gestured like he was holding a spoon. I almost laughed out loud, this was such a genuinely confused little question.

No, sweetie. You can make it come out yourself. (Think before you answer, woman… dammit…)

“What? How?” Again, he peered down at his penis, as if it was something foreign and little scary now that he knew it had certain powers.

Well, trust me, you can just make it happen. But don’t worry, you won’t be able to do it for a long time. You won’t make sperm until it’s time to make babies. You’ll be much older. 

“Oh, like when I’m 16.”

No! Much older than that. You aren’t ready for babies at 16.

“Ohhh, maybe when I’m 30.”

Yes, that’s more like it. When you are 30. 

And with that, he was done. Penis released, testicles relaxed, he returned to his pleasant bath time. I am left fearful, however, as to how this conversation will get translated to his Kindergarten teachers tomorrow. Will he recount certain parts, parts explained separately but recounted as if they are of the same thought?  “My mom told me that when I’m 30 I will be able to make sperm come out of my penis. But they won’t cut it out.  She has a special hole. But I’ll be too young at 16. My sperm is in my testibules.”

So to Mrs. Martin and Ms. Ferone, as well as the parents of any classmates who are entertained with stories in the coming days, first, my apologies and second, do not judge until you have also navigated the tricky waters that I have.

Lust, or Why I Don’t Care that Bruce Willis Has Aged

Fantasy lusting
emerges soft, dreamily;
the real world at bay…
————————————
Do you have “a list”? You know, the people you and your partner agree you can sleep with and suffer no ill consequences? Typically, they are populated by celebrities or other people you are likely never to meet (the pool boy is NOT allowed)… Mine has but a single name: Bruce Willis.

Date night this weekend featured the latest Die Hard movie: A Good Day to Die Hard. Deep sigh. I was transported. I spent the first few scenes highly aware of his slack jaw and weathered skin, but shortly after that, I no longer noticed. I was 20, he was 33.  I was a hostage in need of rescuing and he was the only man who could do it.

I really do have a thing for that man.

Is it simply that I just turned 45 and my main squeeze is weeks from 50? It is that we celebrate 20 years of marriage in May and I just crossed 23 years with the same company? Is it that my older child just hit double digits, or we refinanced the house to pay it off in 15 years in light of our age?

Check, check, check, check, check and check.

The thing is, Bruce Willis makes me young again. No matter how old he gets, I will always be 20 years old and he’ll always be the rebel with a heart of gold and a charming half-smile that will get him anything he wants. I am a total sucker for that type even though I did not actually get a chance to prove my vulnerability to such a man when I was single. Alas, I managed to meet a good guy with a heart of gold and a great full smile who really will (did) call me the next day.

But that doesn’t make me immune to the idea of Bruce Willis. That he will point that charm at me someday; will stare at me with a penetrating look, a crinkly smile and a machine gun and a fast car and a leather jacket and no place to go but on the road with me and the wind… after he kills all the bad guys threatening me.

Excuse me, I need a cigarette.

Reflections on Insanity, Opus 2

Victory is mine!
Not yet Mission Accomplished
But well on our way…
———————————————-

It was only a few short months ago when I shared a disastrous family outing, when in a fit of “culture” I made my kids come with me to the Lollipops Concert by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Not a single thing went right, and I lamented that I had purchased a subscription to the series.

The second performance was yesterday.

I decided to prime the pump by telling the kids earlier in the week of our plans.

“Do you know where the ballroom is this time?” asked my 10-year-old daughter, head cocked, eyebrows raised. Last time it was my fault we missed all the kids activities, located in the ballroom, which set up the domino effect of tears, pouting and misery for the morning.

Don’t you dare cop that teenage attitude with me little miss I-just-turned-10-and-got-my-ears-pierced…

“Yes, sweetie. I know where to go this time.” I smiled, but it was that ‘…and your little dog too’ kind of witch smile.

Then I approached my 6-year-old boy. He struggled to remember the event from the last time. Finally, he said “Was that where we sang “Old McMaestro Had a Farm?”

“Yes! That’s it!”

“I LOVED that, I’m so excited!” he blurted.

Why you lying sack of sh…

“I’m so glad you are looking forward to it. The theme this time is space. I think it will be really cool.” You could still hear the echo from my jaw hitting the floor as I left the room. You gotta love the revisionist history skills of children.

Approaching the big event, I stacked the deck a little in my favor. My daughter had a friend staying the night before, and I got another ticket so she could come with us. That way, my girl had someone other than me to pout to, and my son would get more of my undivided attention. It was a good plan, a solid plan. Until…

It snowed. Several inches. And in Cincinnati, a few inches of snow is like 10 feet in Buffalo. People can’t drive, the city seems to lose the keys to all but one plow and it is inexplicably out of salt. What seemed like “plenty of time to get there” became a long, slow commute, plagued by people with 4WD who refused to test their vehicle’s limits. Almost from the moment we got in the car, I started re-setting expectations.

“This snow is slowing us down a lot. I’m a little worried we won’t make it there with a lot of extra time to do the kids’ activities…”

Grumble, grumble was the reply…

And then for some reason, the last concert we attended came up… I think AP was telling her friend how I messed things up. So Frank and I recounted what a horrible experience it was – one of our family’s worst — laughing about what all went wrong, but with that little laugh-flutter that means you aren’t entirely amused. It was all done in jest… but the kids got quiet for a minute… I wondered if they were recalling how they acted, perhaps feeling some remorse, pre-considering how they might behave today.

As we pulled in the parking garage at Music Hall, with very little time to spare before we needed to find our seats, the second obstacle presented itself. “I don’t have my wallet,” Frank said. “My ticket was in there.” The plan had been for him to meet us there because he had an early morning errand to run, but the timing all worked out and he came with us. But somewhere in there, he misplaced his wallet.

We are never going to make it to the kids’ activities… I felt like Odysseus.

And.. we didn’t make it to the kids activities. As I collected a new copy of the missing ticket, Frank dashed to the ballroom only to find out they stopped doing the kids’ stuff at 10:15.  Freakin, fracking, gal-darn it, not again. But full marks for the kids… they rebounded this time much better. I’m sure it wasn’t the brownies I purchased for each of them with the last $3 to my name.

Thus the concert began (“much better seats this time, mom”) and we settled into the quiet yet unsettled murmur that is a classical musical concert aimed at children.  The music was great. I once again proved I am the dorkiest mom out there, crying at the wonderful music — Strauss’s ode that blesses 2001 A Space Odyssey; forty kids playing a 10 minute, multi-tempo’d version of Twinkle Twinkle on violins;  John William’s Star Wars theme which never fails to take me back to when I was 9 and thought that movie was the best thing I had ever seen. They showed images of the moon landing, footage of Jupiter enhanced by Mozart (wow!) and what the rovers were up to on Mars.  Everyone on stage was having fun.

So was I — I had a great time. The kids didn’t cry or pout much at all, so I’m going out on a limb here and saying they had a good enough time.  I’m not looking for mother of the year. But I do hope that when I talk about the third and final concert in a few months, my boy will recall how mesmerized he was with the videos of the moon and AP will ask if she can bring a friend again.  Success comes in small moments. 

Notes to Self — Open November 1, 2013

My brain is a sieve,
With, alas, widening holes…
…………..What was I saying?

—————————————————

Every year at the holidays, I have to re-learn, remember or re-argue something that I’m so sure I told myself not to forget the year prior, but clearly did. So this year, I’m writing it all down with plans to read it ahead of the year-end craziness.  Here it is…

Notes to self

The Honey Baked Ham store does not require you to reserve a ham. Frank is always right about this. Stop humiliating yourself by insisting each year he is wrong, storming to the internet, only to find out he is right.

The Honey Baked Home store is open on Sundays during the Holidays. Again, Frank has the memory of an elephant here – let him have it.

You will debate with yourself as to whether you’ve bought too much or not enough for the kids at least 5 times.  Don’t think that this year is worse than last. They are all the same. And yes, you bought too much, but you always figure it out before Christmas Day.

Frank will be of very little help in the “did I buy too much or not enough” saga. He will simply witness the several debates you have with yourself that you insist having him present for. Don’t expect him to do more than nod. Again, this one works itself out in the end.

At their most limbic level, kids like empty boxes, no matter what the age. Simple is better.  Remember this when ordering presents on-line.

Don’t waste all the best Buddy the Elf on the Shelf hang out spaces early in the season.  It’s a looooong December.

You put the C7 lights on the evergreens and the mini bulbs on the roses. You wrapped only the red bud tree, not the birch. It requires every flipping extension cord you own.

Volunteering to holiday-sit the class gerbils always sounds cooler than it really is. They are just more things you have to keep alive. Think twice.

No matter what the witch-y voice in your head says, you haven’t been the only one doing things for the family for Christmas.  Give him some credit.

The Costco sized, 18-sleeve box of Ritz crackers will seem like a good idea December 1. Shortly thereafter, it will seem like a colossal waste of space. And then in the blink of an eye you’ll look in the box and find only 3 sleeves left. It’s a good call. Buy it and stop debating it with yourself.

Consider this year having a fancy Christmas Eve evening meal, instead of Christmas Day evening meal.  Or be ready to ditch that put upon feeling that comes around 4pm Christmas Day when everyone else is lounging around recovering from all the ruckus and you have to (wait, want to, remember?) cook.  Christmas Eve might just do the trick, and left over standing rib roast is still amazing…

Try to wait a little deeper into December before cutting a Christmas tree.  The week before Christmas 2012 ours had the moisture of a cocktail toothpick… not good.

Please add to this list each year, as I have a nagging suspicion I’ve forgotten something…

eBay Picture Bloopers

Humor lurks, waiting
to be found. It is stealthy;
make sure you look twice.

***********************************

I love eBay. During long holiday breaks, like the last two weeks, I usually get some hair-brained ideas on things I must have, and then I stalk eBay for days. I usually change my mind partway through the hunt, realizing I’m being a little obsessive about having the perfect “vintage pull chain” to match our 86-year-old house. But sometimes I persist and end up with something really cool.

My travels in Ebay this holiday season have netted me three pictures that I think merit a blog post. They are for what I’m sure are outstanding items. However, each image struck me as quite funny.

First, a lovely ring.

Is anyone else totally mesmerized by the finger hair? I can’t get past it. I’m sure it is a woman’s hand… I reviewed the other photos posted and the hand is most definitely female.  I’m just thinking that I would personally outsource this job to someone else if I had this much hair in a close up.

Now, what do you think about this lamp?

The seller talked about the lovely cherub and the beautiful brass detail. All I can see is a demon on the stained glass.  Wire eyes and an open black mouth screaming. I would NOT have this in my house.

An art deco lamp I came across…

bullet light

Are you kidding me? This is not a light. It is a dildo, plain and simple. They are posted as bullet lights, torpedo lights or sky scraper lights. But I think this is code for something naughty. Search eBay for dildo light and you’ll see virtually the same thing. Search for penis clear and you’ll see things I’m not sure I understand, so I can’t recommend that. (the things people sell…)

Anyway, for those considering selling on eBay, I urge you to get a second point of view on your images, lest they convey something different then your intention. In the meantime, I’m going back to my search for the perfect Arts and Craft Floor lamp, or perhaps I will go with the mid century modern swag light… and the dining room chairs are cool too… but maybe the wall scone and vintage bathroom mirror are my best choice… (oh god, please, make me stop!)

Elevator Sociology 101

Society’s ills
born out in a few moments;
True modern warfare.
————————————————–
There are certain “social” situations where I think you can tell a lot about a person or a society. Driving rules – written and unwritten – are a good example. I think if properly examined, you can draw many parallels between how a country/city manages its traffic and how its citizenry behave. Along these same lines, I am beginning to believe that how a person interacts with elevators is another indication of their approach to the world.

About 6 months ago, I moved from my company’s suburban location to the downtown corporate headquarters. The suburban building was 2 stories and for the most part, we all used the stairs unless we were sure no one would notice us using the elevator. (I had so many good excuses in my vault for why I couldn’t walk up or down a flight of stairs, I never actually got to use them all.) In the corporate building, there are many more floors, so the main mode of travel is the elevator.

Here is how I would categorize people when it comes to elevators, based on 6 months’ observations:

The darter: This person sees you ahead of them, approaching an opening elevator. They speed up and as soon as they are within 4 feet of it, they dart forward with some part of their body or extension thereof to ensure the door doesn’t close and strand them for an incremental 20 seconds. They are assertive, demanding and mostly get what they want from this world.

The meander-er: This person may notice someone ahead of them approaching an opening elevator, but they have zero intention of hurrying to get there. Their laid back approach is such that they either believe it will still be open when they get there, or it will close and they’ll catch the next one. They don’t really care one way or the other.  In their world, hurrying usually doesn’t make a lot of difference, so they might as well enjoy themselves when they can.

The delayer: You’ve seen this person… they deliberately slow down when they see others ahead of them entering the elevator. Unlike the meander-er  they decidedly don’t want to ride with the people ahead of them. If you happen into an elevator they have already occupied, they shrink back near the buttons, coveting that front-line spot, eyes down. They are uncomfortable with you so close and bend their body awkwardly around the still-opening doors when it comes time to exit. They cherish invisibility and the opportunity to pass gas alone in a quiet space.

These three individuals are joined by three others:

The clueless: This person gets on the elevator so totally engrossed by their phone, companion or the floating spec of dust they just noticed, that they fail to see you juggling coffee, a gym bag and a rolling laptop case that most people mistake for an overnight bag. They don’t see you standing in front of the then closing doors – free-appendage-less – unable to stick a body part in the door’s path – whimpering and puppy-dog-eyeing them in hopes they will hold it open.  The darter sees them as a personal challenge and purposefully waits to the last moment to slide in the elevator in an effort to get them to take note. It rarely works.

The over-considerate: This person notices everything.  When they realize someone is coming, they push the “open door” button, waiting. When you don’t arrive in the timeline they’ve allotted  they lean out the door, peering expectantly at you and ask “are you coming?”  Not only do they hold the door for you, they ask what floor you want, and even try to small talk you for the 7.8 seconds it takes the elevator to lift from one floor to the next.  The Delayer hates this person with a passion and is known to rush in the opposite direction when confronted with this level of attention and grace.

The spaz: I personally like the spaz, because whether I get a ride or not, that moment of approach, when the doors are closing with them on the inside and you on the outside, is pure delight. First, they see you at the last second. Then they shout out loud, lunge across the space, feverishly attempting to find the right button to push to reverse the door’s inevitability. They always pick the wrong button… every time. But they helpfully meet your eyes in that moment before final separation and provide a pathetic, breathless apology – eyebrows furrowed, concern in their voices.  Their call of “Sorry!” lingers for a moment, echoing in the corridor.  And for that moment, I feel loved.

The asshole: There is no way around it; there is one in every society. This person is observant. They notice you coming toward the elevator. They have been known to make eye contact prior to stepping into the elevator itself. However, they in no way, shape or form make any, and I mean any, effort to help you attain your goal of an elevator ride.  I personally encountered this person just yesterday – lunch order in one hand, water bottle in the other.  He made eye contact – saw me coming I’m sure. But as I stepped to the doors, they began to close and he made no frantic gesture of help. I stood there astounded. “Who does this?” Before the doors closed, I loudly stated “Seriously?” in the hopes he would get a clue next time. I feel quite sure it will make zero difference.

So there you are: modern society through 6 elevator archetypes. I welcome your observations from your corner of the world, and importantly, confessions as to which one you inhabit most often.  Perhaps I can convert a few assholes and console a few delayers.

Eye-bola

Red is for sunsets
And planets and Feb 14.
My eye disagrees.
————————————-
You know how some people in your life are crap-magnets? No matter what they do, crap is just attracted to them? They swirl in it, stew in it, and at times, seem to relish their unique ability to survive it…?

I am a pink-eye magnet. Find another parent out there right now suffering from it when none of their children have it. Go on, try. I bet you won’t find one.

I’m not sure why this attraction exists. I tend to be from hardy stock, don’t get sick very often, am able to withstand discomfort, etc. etc. (Any laughing you hear right now would be my husband, hysterical at the thought that I’m hardy; don’t listen to him.) But if there is conjunctivitis anywhere near me, say within a 2 mile radius of my current position, it seeks me out.

I could feel it coming on this afternoon. At one point, in the middle of a meeting with someone, I stopped abruptly.

“Is my eye red?” I asked.

“Yes…” she said tentatively…

“Hmmm. I think I have pink eye.” The meeting ended soon after that.

When I lived in England, and contracted this malady, our local GP prescribed the requisite medicine, but then said, in an offhanded way, “You know, just wash your eye with shampoo. That will cure it.” Really? I started to dismiss this piece of advice as slightly ludicrous at worst, and at best driven by socialized medicine’s desire to keep costs down. However, that night, in a strange moment of dread mixed with curiosity sprinkled with repressed mad-scientist tendencies, I tried it.

It hurt like shit. Tear free shampoos (yes, I grabbed the kids’ bottle) is NOT pain-free. Especially if you don’t lather it up and instead simply smear it undiluted into your eyes. My eyes, which seconds earlier had thought me a benevolent hostess, now screamed obscenities at me and tried desperately to beat a hasty retreat only to be betrayed by my brain which wouldn’t get out of the way.  I went to bed convinced I had blinded myself…

And yet… the next morning I was cured. Well I’ll be damned, it worked. And I have used this cure every time I feel pink eye coming on. I have passed this idea on to others, who ponder the concept for a moment before turning slowly away. And sure enough, the next day, they return to tell me how they did it and how it worked.

So tonight, once the kids were in bed, I turned to my trusty cure.  Just a little bit of shampoo, lathered up nicely (this, I found, is a crucial requirement for this cure to move beyond medieval standards), and swished it confidently into both eyes.

Holy crap on a cracker! I forgot my new H&S shampoo has some tingle-y ingredient in it — is it menthol?!? — and that ingredient does not, repeat DOES NOT, agree with my eyes. I continued on — in for a penny, in for a pound — rinsed, and then toweled off.  A return to the mirror revealed two of the angriest eyes I have ever seen. And now, nearly an hour later, they are still pissed at me.  Blinking is rough. The infected eye is throwing off more goop than you can imagine. The healthy eye feels like it is now goop-ing up too.   Could it be my great remedy has gone terribly wrong? Have I damaged myself permanently? I take it as a positive sign that I can see clearly enough to type, but am concerned for what I may find tomorrow.

Stay tuned. The pink eye was fairly far advanced when I washed, perhaps so far gone that my lather approach will fail. Perhaps the offending ingredient is a slow-acting blinding agent… All I know is that I’m not sure working in the office will be a smart idea tomorrow…

Post script. Do not, under any circumstances, Google “pink eye” and click on images. Not only will you be disgusted, you will be amazed at the sheer number of people who have taken pictures of themselves or their kids and posted the image in a searchable location. I was looking for a fun, laughable image to include in this post — in a feeble attempt to increase my odds of being Freshly Pressed — and have come away deciding that an image is not the way to go…

Reflections on Insanity

I understand why
Some animals eat their young.
But it’s too late now…
———————————————–
I took part in something extraordinary yesterday. A room full of masochists. I was one of them. Viewed from the outside we surely looked insane. From the inside, well, the view was about the same.

Where was I? A Cincinnati Pops Concert for Children – Barnyard Serenade.

What in the ***k was I thinking? What were the other parents thinking? What made us think that our kids even remotely wanted to attend the concert… I’ll tell you what: delusion. I can personally attest to thinking the following: Wow, my kids like music. They like kid-themed events. They know I like classical music… And Music Hall is a cool, old building. Plus, and this is important, they will “get something out of it” and likely someday become symphony loving patrons who disdain popular music, have 20 more IQ points than their friends, and will be able to describe why a tambourine is both a membranophone and an idiophone.  So, all those things add together to equal complete and total insanity on my part.

It started well enough. They did indeed think the building was cool. But it pretty much went to shit from there. I mistakenly thought the kids activities were in the wrong place, so we only got to look at a few instruments; no crafts or kids’ stuff like I promised. This caused my son to fall to the floor crying.  We made our way to our seats, which I thought were really good. My daughter, however, thought they were the worst in the house and began what had to be the longest sustained pout in her nearly 10 years. I tried to engage them — look there, the harp! The piano! Aren’t the kettle drums cool? Nuthin’.  Once the music started, my son asked me every 5 minutes or so “Is that the last thing?”  At one point, my daughter managed to start a good cry, silently weeping while Haydn’s Chicken Symphony was playing. She totally ignored me when I tried to point out how the violins sounded like chickens and the flutes like little chicks.

It was at this point, at a point of total desperation and shame at what a horrible parent I really was, I started to listen to what was happening around me. And I noticed that although in the audience participation parts there seemed to be interest from a lot of kids, between shouting out farm animals pretty much every kid there hated their parents for making them come.  I’m fairly sure that by the end, the young boy behind me was duck taped to his dad. The two kids in front of me engaged in a silent but wicked tickle fight before their mom nearly came of our her skin to get them to stop.  When the Old McMaestro bit happened toward the end, it really was only adults doing the sing along… the kids had all but departed the building.

The only shimmer of hope I kept alive at this point was that the concert was mercilessly short – less than an hour. And surely my children’s joy at the end’s arrival would bring them out of their uber-negative state. How very wrong I was. Once my son realized that we weren’t now going to try to find the kids area, he began to wail. And pump his fists and shake his little body.   I was actually proud of him — I am perfectly ok if he gets mad, he just has to behave appropriately (i.e. don’t hit anyone). His outburst was completely reflective of his state and involved only himself. Well, himself and 1500 other departing parents whose own children had morphed into grateful, well-behaved angels now chattering excitedly about what they had just witnessed.  I could see their IQ points ticking up as we walked to the parking lot. I could feel the other parents’ eyes on me, judging…

During the walk to the car I resolved to be more mature than my kids in my reaction. I really wanted to grab them by the shoulders, tell them how disappointed I was at the immaturity of their behavior and that their lack of gratitude was going to cost them dearly.  The problem was that in each version I dreamed up, I looked more and more like a deranged lunatic. There was no way to claw them back to happy, no way they would ever change their mind about the last hour of their lives.

So I put them in the car and stood outside of it for a good 10 minutes. Frank joined me. We talked about how to deal with this and decided we would pursue the “We are the grown ups here and should probably act like it” route. (I did agree to use this, at the right time, as a teaching moment with our nearly 10-year-old daughter… she is old enough to know how to behave or at least fake it…) Several meditative minutes later, we got into the car, informed them we were going to Costco (“this is not open to input,” Frank smartly added) and proceeded to try to drive faster than our moods could follow us.

I am happy to announce that my decent, well-behaved and generally fun children returned shortly after we plied them with hot dogs and pizza at Costco. Shopping was a joy. They were funny. They helped find things and load the cart. They acted like hyenas the exact right amount given then ages. Our family was reborn.

So what to do now… there are two more concerts in the series, and the tickets are already purchased. I have 80% decided we will go again… I will NOT be defeated by two who cannot yet master the can opener. But I sure as hell will figure out where the kids activities are taking place and get there in time to enjoy them. The rest is a total crap shoot…

The Teachers’ Lounge

Intimidation
Stops me cold, keeps me standing,
Twenty five years on…
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Every year, during parent-teacher conferences, my school’s PTA does a teacher dinner. Warm, home-made sustenance to help them get through repeating 20 minutes of report card hell.

This is one volunteer activity I jump at.  I usually sign up to bring in plastic wrap and forks, or extension cords – easy stuff that either Frank or I can do, usually sourced from current stock – simple. Finally, last year, I ventured into bringing consumables — Chicken Noodle Soup. It was a huge hit and I felt not the slightest amount of guilt showing off the Costco soup container when pressed for the recipe. (Their soup made from roasted chicken is amaaaazing.)

There is only one thing that bothers me: Going into the teachers’ lounge.

You remember it from school, right? The room off the side hall where you couldn’t really see into… where teachers would disappear into, whispering to each other and glancing around furtively. The few times you were told to go there to find another teacher felt like entry into an Egyptian tomb… I was convinced I would be cursed and never spoke of it. It was sacred space. Teachers only.  There was free soda and chips in there. They talked about you in there.

So when I volunteered to do the dinner set up the first year, I had to take a few deep breaths before stepping into the teachers’ lounge. I kept my eyes down. I asked permission before opening drawers. I acted as if the furniture was museum quality and tried desperately not to make a mess of any type.

Net, I was totally taken aback at how the mythological status of the teachers’ lounge remained so many years after my education ended. I know many of the teachers at my kids’ lower school. They are way cooler than any teacher I ever had, not to mention about 3 decades younger. I can honestly say they are — to a person — women I would enjoy hanging out with. But their space? Noooo, can’t do it…

So tomorrow is the dinner. The soup is ready to go, the crock pot is clean and I’ve dug out 40 plastic forks, knives and spoons. But I’ve given up on the set up. I just can’t do it. I am thoroughly convinced Mr. Etheridge or Mrs. Vogt or Mr. Lawson is going to burst around the corner, catch me in there, and ruin my chances of getting into a good college, not to mention whisper about me to another teacher.  I’ll just stay on this side of the door…

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