All moms should be divas...this one just happens to be in Jersey!

Friday, March 25, 2011

And occassionally, there really is a wolf

We've all heard the story about the boy who cried wolf. Ten bucks says, the people ignoring him the most were his actual parents. I say this because of all in the village, they would have heard his panic-stricken yet fake calls for help from the very start. His poor mother probably threw out her shoulder untying her peasant dress to breastfeed when the little twit wasn't even hungry. But then, one day, burned by all the drama-king moments, everyone tuned him out. And so the final score was Villagers: 0/ Wolf 1.

Having just left the podiatrist and seen xray's of Son1's so-flat-they-may-well-be-convex feet, I am feeling horrible for all the years of telling him to stop stomping around the house, and stop whining after your hideously cruel parents made you walk around Disney World for the day. We knew he needed arch supports. We knew he needed orthotics. However we also knew (still know) that he is the Laurence Olivier of teen drama kings. But to see the xrays of bones that are still growing look as stressed as me smack in the middle of school-morning-mayhem, and then hear things like "surgery" and "arthritis" bantered about for my 13 yr old child who I had not just poo poo'd but told to stop whining? Well, I hit a new low.

And here's the REALLY pathetic part-- the old low was just 3 weeks ago. It was 3 weeks ago I sat in a specialist's office hearing that Son2 may have some measurable deficiencies in rods affecting his vision. I mean, gee, it only took me, mother of the year, like 4 years from the first comment to get him in for a pediatric opthamologist's check which resulted in the knowledge his vision was about 20/100 or worse. He had gone through many optometrist visits, but fidgeted and futzed and ADHD'd his way (yes, I just made a new verb) into inconclusive results. But then, in urgently scheduled and elaborate successive exams of his retinas, we saw he WASN'T crying "wolf" for years. He couldn't focus on the haze the world presented and he was crying "waaaay blurry wolf, mom!"

Ugghhh. I've posted items before about some lovely parent fail moments and you all have been amazingly supportive in sharing your lapses... your moments of being non-psychic humans. That feedback does wonders for my delusion that I can pull off this mom thing after all. I really don't like to second guess God, but I wonder at times if he made a tactical error entrusting the care of the most vunerable mortals into the hands of merely older mortals. With limited patience. (Sigh)

In time, these young ones somehow make it to adulthood, and we will sit back and watch as they, in turn, complain about THEIR kids' whining... and the circle of life and the continuum of ignoring children until faced with concrete evidence they're actually impaired will be complete. Ahhhh... all in good time, the products of all my parenting fails will, in fact, generate their own. Circle of life, indeed.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Will you PLEASE put on some pants?!

Son2 has developed a disquieting habit of late. I don't mean talking with his mouth full or leaving the seat down while peeing. Lord knows he's done those for years. He's always been the more eccentric of the two kids. We've chalked it up to his "artistic nature" and referred to him as quirky. But now, at 11, Son2 is surpassing even, well, Son2, in the weirdness arena. Son2 has decided pants are optional. And with warmer weather here, I'm living in fear he's going to take his show into the great outdoors of the backyard.

Nudity not withstanding, as I mentioned, he's always had some quirks. Wardrobe has been an issue before. There was his love affair through the second grade with pajamas. He had a school uniform, so it's not like we had to worry about him wearing them to school. But first I found flannel pj's tucked into his backpack. Then finally, one day I picked him up at aftercare and was greeted with his flannel-clad gams. Turns out the weasel was slipping into clean pj's THEN his school pants. Not sure what he would have done once warmer weather hit. He may have passed out in library from overheating. Not quite sure if he had a plan once the spring uniform of walking shorts came out of the drawers. He probably did since he planned out sneaking a clean pair into the bathroom to put on under his uniform that very day. "Well, Mommy, I knew you guys would wonder where my pajamas were if you didn't see them in the hamper, so I knew I had to get changed when I got up. So I just had a different pair for school." It was a little diabolical for 2nd grader.

Ahh... the good old days... when he wore not one but two pairs of pants. One would be kind of nice right about now.

I first noticed this new trend a few days ago. Well, "noticed" may not be accurate. "Forced to stop living in denial" is maybe a little more to the point. That was when I went into the kitchen to find Son1 doing nothing. Not getting food (shocking in and of itself), not drinking the 3rd gallon of milk that day. Just standing, inviting the question "why are you in the kitchen, not the rec room?" Answer: "Because my brother's not wearing any pants. AGAIN!" Hhhhhmmm. Again, eh? "He's always taking his pants off, then he sits in the chair like nothing's wrong and I'm sick of it. It's weird. I'm not going back down there until he puts his pants on." A) That's the most logical set of thoughts I've ever heard from you. B) I'd have to agree. C) Can you please back up to the stress on the word "again" for me?

Sure, I'd noticed there were constantly socks strewn around the rec room. A sneaker here, a sneaker there. But ya know you come in and you take your shoes off so I could see that. But it's really not a common reflex to walk in the house, put down your keys, check the mail, and drop your pants (and not replace them with another garment) before sitting at the dinner table. So when I first saw the pants down there, I just figured he raided the clean laundry pile to put on pj's and the dirty clothes never made it to the bin. Or maybe he was getting his snowpants on to go out the backdoor to play and left his other pants there. I mean, I know it hasn't snowed in 4 weeks and it's all melted but it sounded sort of plausible. Or maybe I just needed to face facts that Son2's next "quirk" was surfacing and flying free was the way he wanted to be.

But then the Great Pants Caper became more obvious. Sitting at the table eating, I looked down and saw bare leg. "Aren't you forgetting something, on your legs?" Answer: "Oooh! napkin on my lap, I forgot." FORGOT?! Your NAPKIN? JUST your napkin???? Then tonight, while watching TV with him, I happened to glance away from my super important work (Pathwords) and glance toward the hub's easy chair in which Son2 was perched. And there, on the floor, in a trail like a soap opera bedroom scene was a line of shoe, shoe, sock, sock, and (of course) shorts winding to a cuddled up Son2 in a blanket. "Why are you not wearing pants?" Answer: "Don't you think it's so much more comfortable? Besides, I left my underpants on this time." Oh, ok. Gee, thanks for that, "this time." Excuse me while I go wash the blankets down in the rec room though.

Had this habit developed when he was 3 or 4, it may have been cute. If any of you have ever been faced with a middle schooler who has suddenly decided au natural is the way to be I'd LOVE to hear your parenting advice for getting the pants back on, because in my house I'd prefer children eat with mouths closed, with napkins on laps, OVER fabric. Call me a dreamer. For now I'm going to Google things like "sudden nudity" and "son refusing pants" to see if I can find any advice. I should just ask Son1 to help, since now we're both huddled in the kitchen, one avoiding the playroom until it's gotten Clorox wipe treatment, the other wondering where she went wrong, and praying her younger son would just put on his goddamn pants so our house can get back to the fully clothed 3ring circus it's always been.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tony Award? Oh Yeah, It's In The Bag!

Last night was Spring Parent-Teacher conference time. I was going to write a list of 5 things you should never do the day of teacher conferences. But yesterday, I opened and read a letter from the IRS telling me my business is being audited and thought, well, my list was simply one entry: “Never open and read any letter from the IRS that same day.” So with the wired call to my CPA a fresh memory, and the realization that I was now fully awake and probably did NOT need the 5Hour Energy sample I’d ingested just minutes before said-letter, I was ready to head to the school. I really couldn’t tell why my heart was racing… the letter or the vita-shot or the fact that I was lined up for 4 teacher meetings in a row. In any event, I tried my best Lamaze breathing, which was tricky since I haven’t been pregnant ever. I adopted, so my whole Lamaze knowledge is from TV, like the way I kind of know the Miranda warning because I have my doctorate in Law &Order.

My teacher meetings last night were pure exercises in acting. In the midst of it all, I took solace that a career change into acting just may work, because I could clearly pull off emotions in front of a live audience that I was in no way feeling. Were I on Candid Camera, I would have been cut as the boring clip in which the woman was presumed comatose and showed no reaction. Don’t get me wrong~ on the inside I was 110% verklempt and ready to string my son up by his Chuck Taylors. But on the outside, I was cool, composed, and well, maybe talking just a wee bit faster that norm which is scary really since I already have the rapid fire Jersey-pace known and loved by Joe Pesci fans everywhere. But enough about Joe. This is about me. Joe can get his own blog. What follows is “Parent-Teacher Time: An Evening in Four Acts.” I’m submitting my performance for consideration next awards season. I’m so nominating myself for a Tony Award. I was that good.

Act One: Son2's Language Arts, Room 115
Have some small chat with teacher, and prepare to be handed “The Green Folder.” The Green Folder was its own artistic triumph, so much more than a mere prop or paper container. You see Son2 is highly artistic, so when faced with a green folder into which he was to place his papers this close to St Patrick’s Day, The Green Folder had to be crafted into a work of art on par with all great Irish creations… like the simplicity of St Brigid’s Cross, the beauty of Waterford, Guinness. And so my eyes were bright as I beheld it’s splendor and was then faced with page after page of jaw dropppingly bad grades hidden in the locker since Christmas. I wanted to drop The Green Folder like toxic waste, but that would tip off the teacher that I had NO clue he had these grades. What kind of parent doesn’t know her 5th grader is harboring these scores in his locker for 6 weeks, sharing only the 90’s. Son2~ your night was now in peril… not for the grades themselves, but rather for sweet talking me through the past few weeks and trying once again, as you did in 2nd grade, to sign the papers “for me.” As we said to you then: A) DON’T forge, and B) Don’t use crayon. It’s a big tip off. And yet I did not scream out “WTF!!!!” I remained calm, to maintain the appearance of a woman better informed, thus better aware. Did you see Helen Mirren in “The Queen”? I was that contained. Maybe just a touch of Pesci.

It was now time for the Son1 Teacher Trifecta…

Act Two: Son1's Social Studies, Room 105
This was the one I had dreaded. Knowing Son1 has been less than successful on his research for a large term paper, I was ready to discuss with/ pepper the teacher with questions about the lack of IEP adherence such as supply of written study guides and other supports leading to his grade unraveling from 95 to 60 in 2 months. Son1 clearly told me over and over again that all work was being done in school, none of this was take home, and he was right on top of things. The Child Study Leader was a little concerned since she had gotten radio silence from the teacher. How could you leave a kid with off the charts ADHD out to dry with nothing supplied in writing? So channeling Helen/Queen Elizabeth, I took my place. But this teacher had an ace up his sleeve for our meeting that threw me the minute I sat. He had Son1’s signature on form after form acknowledging he A) had the assignment instructions and B) hadn’t done the night’s homework. And Son1 really did sign them, not Son2 in crayon for him so I couldn’t even have the evidence thrown out. Right there, in print, proof Son1 was scamming me with every “uh, no Mr. W didn’t say we had any homework.” Or “uh, yeah, I’ve like got everything like in.” Uh~ like hell no! Do you know the dramatic skills required to look like Dame Helen when you really feel like Sigourney Weaver with the alien ripping out of her?!??! Tony, baby. I’m winning that puppy.

With a very hush-toned, “yes, of course, we’ll speak with Son1 regarding his homework,” I took my leave. Poker face in tact, 5Hour Energy in full heart-racing swing, documented proof I had 2 little weasels at home. And yet, we were only ½ way through the teacher meetings.

Act Three: Son1's Language Arts Room 106
The second stop on my Son1 tour brought me to the other teacher involved with the aforementioned way-past-deadline research term paper. To this teacher’s credit he has been very communicative so surprises were few. Not that they weren’t big. They were just smaller in number. I think it was somewhere in Room 106 I first felt my right eye twitching. Again, grace under fire was called for, and I rallied. I am of English-descent after all. We do that very well. Tossing aside my eye twitch to the teacher as “just some contact trouble,” I pushed on. He may have seen right through me, as he stared perplexed at my eyeglasses. I tried to do everything in my power to move calmly through the meeting, knowing the Math teacher was still looming.
I was so embarrassed to admit how much B.S. my sons had been throwing my way, I wanted to screech. How could this be happening? How could both of my kids so blatantly lie about why they were after school like I had done for years until my parents found out I had actually racked up in excess of 60 detentions the first 3 years of high school? (BTW, Mom, if you read that… just a little hyperbole on my part. I assure you, it really was just 10 like I copped to in 1986. Ahem) This is the crux of what was pissing me off: I was being PLAYED! And for the love of God, I of all people should have known the signs!

Act Four: Son1's Math, Room 107
Wishing they at least built 60 seconds between the conferences so I could run outside, scream, and run back in, I went on to my final stop. Another Lamaze breath series (at least the way Rachel did when she had Ross’s baby), and I sat down. I was greeted with, “Yes, Son1 can be a challenge and we do need to talk...” (Dear God, is that my left eye twitching now?) “…but by and large he’s doing well and there are no real surprises.” Au contraire, mon amie, for that alone was a surprise. For the final time that night, I was forced into the acting craft. You see, to indicate relief would have tipped my hand there that I expected anything other good news.
I stood, politely thanked the Math teacher taking the deepest yet most subtle cleansing breathes I could and took my leave. While jonesing to peel back my own face in anger, my icy performance only needed to extend until I was out of ear shot. I held it together until off school grounds to serve as my encore. And then, it was complete. (drop curtain, enjoy applause)

This Pesci-paced, eye twitching, livid mother returned home to the comfort of my home. What was all that noise and shouting you heard coming from my home after I entered, you ask? I assure you, just the cheers and screams of my adoring fans. Really. I promise.