Saturday, November 20, 2010

This is a Cry for Help

I haven't been sleeping well lately. Sure, blame my diet of coffee and Chocodiles, but I think it's because I'm a chronic worrier. I lie awake night after night, ruminating over the various horrors that could befall our world.

The following are only some of the troubling scenarios that haunt my sleep:

  • Bristol Palin will actually win Dancing with the Stars. Honestly, I thought it was a worrisome sign when my state elected Aqua Buddhist Rand Paul (I'm sorry, America. In Kentucky's defense, we eat a lot of pork rinds). Be afraid, people. Be very, very afraid.
  • Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt will procreate, resulting in an army of babies with flesh-colored beards who think they can sing.
  • My campaign to make MC Hammer's "Too Legit, Too Legit to Quit" hand gesture the Official Hand Gesture of the United States will fail. But you know what? I'm 2 Legit, 2 Legit 2 Quit. (And yes, I made the hand gestures. If you didn't, I don't even want to know you.)
  • I'll end up in a coma or vegetative state, and no one will ever wax or tweeze my face, resulting in a unibrow and goatee. Everyone will stand around my bed, laughing, pointing and calling me Menifer.
  • Hugh Jackman will get a [gulp] beer belly. Honestly, I can't...even...go...there..
  • We'll one day discover what Brett Michaels has under his do-rag. I'm thinking gremlins. Or Ross Perot. Same thing.
  • The government will put a sin tax on donuts, so I will no longer be able to compensate myself for this blog in long johns.
  • No matter what Stephen Hawking says, the Large Hadron Collider will create a black hole, and we'll be forced to confront the Romulans. Even worse, I'll have a bad hair day.
  • I will never go into puberty and grow boobs. (It's not too late. It ISN'T. Shut up.)
  • Radio stations will refuse air time to any musical artist who doesn't put the word "Shawty" in a song, resulting in Taylor Swift singing, "You're on the phone with Shawty. She's upset. Shawty's going off about something that you said. 'Cause Shawty doesn't get your humor like I doooooo."
  • Hostess will (a). stop putting Ding Dongs in thin foil wrappers, when everyone knows the foil wrappers make Ding Dongs taste better (and yes, this entire blog post was just an excuse for me to type "Ding Dong"), and (b). Hostess will stop selling Chocodiles east of the Mississippi. See, people? That actually happened, proving that my fears aren't so ridiculous after all.

Damn. Now I'm stressed out again. Time to go to my happy place:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Thanksgiving Table's Gonna Have Some BLING, Yo!

Dear Second-Grade Teacher:

I can explain the bright gold pine cone for my son's Thanksgiving art project.

As I've previously pointed out in a back-to-school post, I'm the frazzled mother who routinely screws up school paperwork; overlooks essential school supplies; and yes, occasionally sends her son to school with his shirt on inside-out and backwards (we were out of coffee that morning, okay?).

My teen-age daughter is still rolling her eyes about the paperwork I had to complete last month for her gifted education services. Turns out, I signed the section that read (in large, bold type no less),  "DO NOT SIGN HERE UNLESS YOU ARE DENYING GIFTED SERVICES FOR YOU CHILD." Umm. Oopsie! I had to scribble out my signature with a Sharpie and re-sign the form, which undoubtedly left the school counselors amazed that my daughter overcame her less-than-gifted gene pool.

And yes, last month I forgot to send treats for the class on my son's scheduled Snack Day. I saw the sticker placed prominently in his planner reminding me that I had forgotten it and children had gone hungry. Don't worry. Considerate boy that he his, Kyle handed me a special Enhanced  Snack Calendar for Doofus Moms to make sure I won't slip up when Snack Day rolls around this month:

(Psst. Please, for the love of Little Debbie, send numerous emails reminding me to send snacks Friday. Thanks.)

Okay, I'm not exactly PTO president material. Fortunately, my children are excellent students in spite of me. And they are always on time, clean, well-fed, well-read and prepped for tests. So we have that going for us, right?

Therefore, when my son pulls out his giant, shiny, gold pine cone today, please cut him a bit of slack. I know you sent the note home last week, informing parents that children need to bring pine cones to school by Tuesday for a Thanksgiving project. But in my keeping-up-with-busy-kids world, that was at least a Spanish test, a spelling test, a social studies test, a poetry recital, several youth play rehearsals, a youth assembly project, a lunch account balance reminder and a field trip permission slip ago. It might as well have been last year. Our wee parental brains can only store so much!

Thankfully, my kids usually keep me in line. As I was on my way out the door to go see my daughter's play last night, my son burst forward and grabbed my arm, "Mom! Mom! We didn't get a pine cone! I don't have a pine cone for our turkey project tomorrow!"

I saw the panic in his eyes. It was going to be Snack Day, Part II. There would be a giant Parental Pine Cone Failure sticker slapped into his planner for all the world to see.

"Okay, honey," I said, "Calm down. I'll go look for pine cones after your sister's play. I think there are pine trees by the school. But if we can't find one, don't worry. I'm sure the teacher will have some extras for kids who don't bring one."

"Noooo, Mom!" he cried. "You have to get one. You just have to! When we made the fall leaf art project, the kids who didn't bring leaves had to do an extra reading assignment while we made art."

His voice dropped to a panicked whisper, "Don't make me be one of those kids, Mom....don't..."

First, I award myself three shiny gold stars for remembering leaves for the previous art project. But clearly, the boy had to have a pine cone for school, or years of therapy were in store. (I mean, even more than he's going to need once he finds this blog.)

So after the play, my daughter and I went on a Pine Cone Quest. Yes, it was bitter cold out, and yes, she was only in the shorts she had to wear for the play, and yes, I was forced to traipse around in high heels, but we were on a mission. We would not let him down.

First, I explored the conifers all around the school where her play was held. No cones. Next, I drove around town, slamming on the brakes whenever my daughter screamed, "PINE TREE!" Then we'd jump out of the van and search the ground in the dark, to no avail. We also tried the trees in the city parks. Conifers? Yes. Cones? No.

"Why are there no freaking pine cones?" I asked the heavens, as my heels sunk into the soft dirt around the trees. "Why?"

"I know what happened," my daughter said, her teeth chattering, her knees knocking from the cold. "Some greedy second-grader snatched up all the cones in town, so he would have the best pine cone turkey.  I hate that kid! I hate him!"

Frozen and tired, my daughter suggested we try to buy a bag of pine cones. Surely we could find some in one of the mega stores. They would have bags of pine cones available for Christmas and fall decorating, right?


We searched three stores. My feet were killing me. And we still didn't have a single pine cone. In Target, I noticed a Christmas wreath bedecked with a few cones, but that was it. I told my daughter I'd distract other shoppers and security by breaking into a glee-worthy performance in the candy aisle while she pulled one of the cones off the wreath and stuffed it down her shorts. For some strange reason, she refused. She doesn't really love her brother, I guess.

"Can we please go home?" she said, "Maybe there are pine cones in our neighborhood."

So yes, dear neighbors, that's why I was prowling around your backyard at 10 p.m. last night. I wasn't peeking in your windows. I was looking for pine cones. But I love what you've done with your bedroom.

I came home empty-handed. That was it. I had to admit defeat. I told my son I was very sorry for the extra reading assignment. I had tried. But there wasn't a single pine cone left in all of our fair city, unless....

I had one last glimmer of hope. Maybe, just maybe, I had an old Christmas decoration that might have pine cones on it. I sent up special pine cone prayers and headed to the basement. There, in the back of the dark, dusty, old coal room, an old Christmas wreath hung from the wall. What were those shiny things on it? I approached hesitantly. Could it be? Had the elusive Holy Grail been near all the time? Was I not going to be a loser parent, after all? Hallelujah! The wreath was bedecked in pine cones! It was a miracle!

I grabbed some wire cutters from the tool box and snipped the biggest, fattest pine cone off the wreath. I ran up the stairs and proudly set it on the kitchen table in front of my son.

"Ta-DAA!" I said triumphantly. "I present to you... one pine cone!" Then I waited for the praise.

"Uh, Mom?" Kyle said, "Um. Huh. That pine cone...well, it's gold."

"Yeah, I know," I said, "It came off a Christmas decoration."

"I'm going to have a GOLD turkey, Mom," Kyle moaned. "A GOLD one. All the other kids will have brown, normal turkeys, and I..I have one that's gold. And glittery... I think I'm just going to do the reading assignment."

What? I'd spent the better part of the evening hiking through parks, walking the length of super stores in high heels, stalking neighbors and fending off giant basement spiders, and he wasn't happy? Oh, heck no. He was going to take the gold pine cone to school, and he was going to like it.

"Kyle," I pleaded, "Just think. Your turkey will be extra special. It will be the turkey with bling-bling. It will be the cool, gangsta turkey that puts all the other, ordinary pine cone turkeys to shame...But most of all, please don't bring home another sticker in your planner reminding me that I forgot something!"

My voice dropped to a panicked whisper, "Don't make me be one of those Moms....don't..."

Kyle sighed and reluctantly stuffed the golden pine cone in his backpack.

So please, dear teacher, be kind when he makes his shiny, sparkly pine cone turkey. Quiet the other kids if they point and laugh. And, um, if you don't mind, remind me at least three times that his next snack day is Friday.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'm Changing My Name

Apparently, I decided to reward myself for my one-year blog-o-versary by taking a month off from blogging. My bad.

Really, I've been doing you a favor. For the past month, my thoughts have been more jumbled than coherent, more intense than lighthearted, more fall than spring - and I am so not a fall. So consider yourself spared a bunch of self-indulgent, melodramatic poetry full of cliche' metaphors about changing seasons and dying gardens and blahblahblah. You're welcome. (Note to self: buy Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp stat.)

Also, I hate to admit this because it goes against everything I believe as a writer, but for the past month, I have been self-editing my work before it ever hits the page. I once had a friend suggest that I write an anonymous blog, that I'd be more free to truly express myself if I didn't worry about what family members, friends and colleagues thought about my work. Puh-lease. I haughtily asserted that at 40, by damn darn, I am entitled to express who I am, without reservation. I don't respect people who hide under pseudonyms, and I've earned the right to write my story, my way.

Then I discovered my daughter's middle school friends are regularly reading my blog. In class, no less (Hey, this is Kentucky. At least they're reading!).

Well, shit shoot! See? Now you understand my dilemma.

Oh, it gets worse. Cool mo-fo Mom that I am, I drive a minivan (whatever. Haters gonna' hate). So each time I pick up my daughter from school, I end up with at least five other kids in the car asking for rides home or trips to Starbucks. Truly, I don't mind driving the short bus. In fact, I welcome the opportunity to know the kids my daughter hangs out with (who, I'm sure, are very, very, very good kids, who would never, ever, ever do anything remotely immoral, illegal or unethical around my daughter ... or ELSE).

While I'm happy for the readership (hook 'em while they're young!), my blog now lends itself to unfortunate conversations like this:

Daughter's male friend: Hey, Mrs. Reese! Thanks for the ride.
Me: No problem.
DMF: By the way, I just love your blog. That post you wrote on vajazzling? That was hi-larious!
Me: [Awkward silence]
Daughter: [palm to forehead]

So, so sorry, dear daughter. If it makes you feel any better, I just had a conversation with my mother that went like this:

Mom: What did you guys do this week?
Me: Nothing much. The football coaching staff and spouses had a get-together the other night.
Mom: Any special reason?
Me: Not really. Just trying to blow off some steam after a stressful season.
Mom: So did you all get naked in a jacuzzi?
Me: What the hell heck, Mom?
Mom: Isn't that how everyone blows off steam? They get naked in jacuzzis? I mean, that's what your dad and I do.

I learned a few things from this conversation. One, my daughter isn't the only one with an embarrassing mother (yet I doubt that discovering she also has an embarrassing grandmother makes her feel any better). And two, I am 99 percent sure my mother was kidding, but if she wasn't, my brother needs to bleach his jacuzzi post-haste.

Three, I just remembered that my parents read my blog. I am so screwed in trouble.

Look for a new blog coming soon to a pseudonym near you!