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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Et tu, Son2? Et tu?

It’s no secret Son1 has been in a race to adulthood since he was 5. At every age, he has tried to act beyond his years. Or at least what he thinks people beyond his years should act like. Even now at 13, he’s often oblivious to the fact that he looks as close to an 18 year old as two kids stacked on each other’s shoulders with a trench coat covering the “lower” part of the giant.  His mouth and whining give away his true age. He outright refuses to show any affection in public lest society or the alpha male of  8th grade brand him a mommy’s boy. It’s ok. I gave up long ago on a public hug or kiss good-bye from Son1. I always had Son2 to pick up the slack. Did you catch that? H-a-d.

 *really wistful, pathetic sigh like when I look at pics of myself from college and realize how skinny I was when I thought I was fat*

It was a pleasant enough day. Not more than a few weeks prior had Son2 strolled through the crowded mall, stopped to hug me, and declared, “Of course I hug my mom. That’s just the kind of man I am.”  

 *wistful sigh #2, like oh-that-Hagen-Das-would-be-awesome-were-it-not-75,000-calories wistful*

A few short days before, he ran up to me during a church service at the exchange of peace, gave me a big hug and kiss and said “love you, Mommy!”

*tear, quivering lip*

And now, I find myself a victim of the ultimate sting an adolescent child can render upon his mother. I’ve been shunned. In public. By him. With the eye roll. With exasperated gritted teeth “Mo-OM, NO!” *chardonnay, anyone?*

 I had suddenly become the most loathsome thing a tween boy can have in public: a clinging mother. But how? All I was doing was dropping him at a party at a park? I wasn’t going to see him until the next day since he was getting picked up by Grandma for a wild night of grandma-type fun. I bet Grandma didn’t get the eye roll! *where’s the scotch?*

I’m conditioned to Son1 treating me like a bubonic-plague-carrying rat in public. It’s been his schtick for more years than I can remember. And trying to embarrass him in (over)reaction with things like, “Good job, SWEETIE PIE,” or “you’re the BEST, Cocoa Bear!” has been mine. We have a tacit understanding that we will push each other’s buttons in public settings. It’s its own dysfunctional display of affection, an inside joke of sorts.

But now Son2, my sweet, cherubic-faced, still-cuddly Son2 has flipped the mental switch at age 11. Getting out of the car, still concealed from his friends by trees, he turned to me, opened his arms, and actually said, “Um, ok, can we do this here?” Not really understanding, I asked, “what, hug & kiss good bye? Like, away from ‘the guys’?” (I actually chuckled in my naïveté!) “Uh, yeah, come on Mom? PLEASE!?!”  So there we stood next the park that sits right next to our town’s police station. “Excuse me, Officer. Is breaking your mother’s heart a form of elder-abuse,” I wanted to ask. The look of desperation on his face was heart-wrenching when he thought I was going to push the issue.

It’s ok, Son2, I understand your need to feel cool, and not to look like you cling to Mom. I get it, I really do. I just hate to see it happen. : (     *waterproof mascara- STAT!*

Friday, July 15, 2011

Last Man/ Dog/ Hermit Crab Standing

Well, it’s coming down the wire here. Hubs heads out of town tomorrow for a five day ride with a group of buds to New England. This will leave me in charge of the home front, encompassing Sons 1 and 2, two dogs, two hermit crabs, a turtle (I think we still have a turtle?), and three elaborate tropical fish tanks. I can’t really say who or what will be left standing (or swimming) by the time he returns. My bets are on the crafty, survival-savvy Son2, the 7 yr old labradoodle, and at least one hermit crab.

As crazy-hectic as the afternoons or evenings can be with activities and the random late night of work thrown in, the part of the day I most dread will be the mornings. Hubs is simply superb in the morning. He was made to rise with the sun. I was made to rise when the sun was two time zones past my own and someone else had started the coffee and walked the dogs. I know this makes me sound lazy. It’s not the doing I mind, I just mind doing them each first thing out of bed. I’m going to be playing a man down against a really skilled, super conniving, dare I say hostile, team in a match that drags on longer than cricket.

It’s really hard to say if 13yr old teen angst will afford both Son1 and me the opportunity to survive five days without the hubs as a buffer. Hubs hasn’t even fired up the bike yet, and I’ve already gotten two rounds of, “so wait, it’s just you with us? Or can we go to Grandma’s?” Um, yeah, just me. Thanks. The boy opens his eyes and the complaints fly in quick succession. He is not a morning person, and any of you whose lives are touched by ADHD know it takes a wee bit for all systems to be a pharmaceutical go. This would be OK were I a morning person. But I am so not. And so in lies the rub. If Son1 and I can successfully survive five mornings of “Rise and Shine and quit giving me that obnoxious attitude and speak to me like a human being not a slave or hard-of-hearing ATM, or you’re on your bed for five afternoons,” we’re golden. If he mouths off too much while I am in my pre-caffeinated state Armageddon may come to our town.  On the flip side, afternoons on the bed will provide solid blocks of summer reading time. Hmmmm….

Son2 can be just as annoying in the mornings, but for reverse reasons. At 11, he’s still a natural early riser, and wakes up like a jolt of energy. It’s like someone pours Red Bull down his throat thirty minutes prior to waking, so he is inherently on a higher energy arc than I could hope to be. And he is the worst thing a morning person could be to a non-morning person upon waking: he’s chipper. He expects chipper back. Are you crazy? Please just go watch TV while I curse a blue streak at the toaster, ok? I do want to see your artwork and hear the songs you’ve made up, but I’m not equipped to appreciate their subtle nuances at 6:45am. Be a dear and go watch Tom & Jerry beat the hell out of each other. Thanks.

I’m clueless with the fish. I can’t even tell you when we got so many fish. The people at PetSmart must love hubs as much as I do. The fish department manager surely must. Hubs probably earned this guy a company car or sales trip to Hawaii. When he goes away (hubs I mean, not the overly-reward PetSmart guy), I am left with very detailed instructions on food amounts, water treatments, lights on lights out, pump checking blah blah blah. In reality I stare blankly at the tank and mutter, “um, ok, pinch of this, pinch of that, please don’t die.” And then I wait to see if any are floating at the top the next day. No floaters= successful fish parenting in my book. I wonder if he’s taking inventory before he goes away? I should really slip the 11 yr old some extra coin this week to watch the fish, now that I think about it. He’s kind of bonded with the hubs over their care, while Son1 and I get caught up bickering over whether the introduction of the eel has skirted my “NO snakes!” rule.

At least one hermit crab will survive, but only due to Son2’s intervention and observation. His detail orientation has helped them survive and thrive a whopping 3.5 weeks now. Now that I think of it, they’ll probably each survive thanks to his diligence.

So, all this brings us to the dogs. The lab is a goofy, 4yr old, 90lb hulk who works himself into panic attack every time a threatening, ninja-like chipmunk scampers up the drive. Heaven forbid a truly ferocious looking squirrel runs along the patio. You’d think we were being invaded. I’m pretty sure he’ll make it through the five days, but probably a little hungry since hubs feeds him as part of the morning routine. I’ll delegate it Son1, who, in true Son1 fashion, will forget to feed the dog. At times I think he forgets we have a dog even when said dog is sitting right in front of him. The labradoodle will survive very nicely. She’s the brains of the outfit among all household dependents, and will have the foresight to escape the house early on, meander to the elderly couple across the street, Ralph and Alice, who adore her sweet nature, and live the high life in their backyard. Yes, they really are “Ralph and Alice.”

I’ve been to the Ralph and Alice’s house. She’d be pretty clever to hide there till hubs returns. It’s quiet with lots of booze. One or two mornings of teen attitude, and I think I’ll join her!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Difference Between Tomboys and (Real) Boys

When I was but a wee diva growing up in Jersey, I used to shrink back in horror from all things pink and feminine. It may surprise those who know of my current love of stilettos to learn I was the tomboy of the century. Ok, the 70's at least. The first 10-12 years of my life, I wanted GI Joe's instead of Barbies. I wanted football gear, and cringed when directed to the cheerleading tryouts. Through my teens and twenties, while I learned to appreciate makeup and kick ass hair products that fueled the 80's, I still looked at tarted up little girls at dance recitals with total detachment. I was such a tomboy, I felt I was missing a "dress up" chip or something when thinking of traditional little girl activities. I was sure when the time came to be a mom, I would fall right in line with all the boy things. I would totally "get" them, since as a tomboy, I'd been more like them, right?

I now see as clear as day that there's a major difference between a girl who is a tomboy and an actual boy. She's still a girl. Oh shut up, it's not as basic as it seems. Ok, maybe it is. I love my sons to pieces, really I do, but they're boys and I am loathe to admit they simply do... not... think. They don't think things through from one minute to the next. As a girl trapped (willingly) in a baseball jersey, I still possessed the more mature verbal skills and what psychologists call "executive functioning skills" (what the rest of us call basic common f'ing sense) that girls laud over their male peers. Each day, I am faced with the horrifying reality that I am responsible for two young people who can not think of a consequence were it to shine as brightly as neon, or say, a siren.

You see, for years I thought my older brother had a screw loose or was a little slow on the uptake. I thought that was why I was always the one pushed forward to "do the talking" should a window happen to break, or vase happen to come crashing down. I thought he and all of his buds two years my senior were just shoving me to the forefront like some sacrificial lamb in a Dutch Boy haircut. NO! They were just too goofy to come up with plausible storylines, so they turned to the girl in the group. They didn't think, they were just all motion. They were boys and I was just a pretender. NOW I get it.

So fast forward to the present and I see that for decades I was living under a false assumption that I understood boys. I never did. I was like a person who learns a foreign language, but can never think in that language. I was so clearly a girl in boys' clothes and nothing more. Hell, would a boy even use a metaphor like that foreign language one? Now, when I try to figure out what would possess my sons to do 1/2 of what they do, I have to stop and throw away so much of what I remember from my childhood. I need to, because it holds no bearing. I used my brain; they don't. There are days I question if they possess them. To figure them out, I need to stop thinking. Then I will truly be more like an 11 or 13 year old boy.

Now you can sit back and think this is a ridiculously sexist post. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I think it's like any of the cliches we see that are cliches because they are based on years and years of example. Bad News Bears- who did the talking? Who was the brains of the outfit? The adult in charge? NO- Tatum O'Neil's character! Harry Potter is supposed to be the most powerful wizard ever, and yet who gets him and his male chum out of jam after jam? Uh huh. Hermoine. Who's the one who packs the proper supplies, takes the time to think through a ripple effect of an action, and talks them out of sticky situations? Uh huh, the girl. Hollywood has been trying to tell me for years: Girls who hang out with boys think; boys hanging out with boys don't. Plain and simple.

It's taken me 42 years of life to finally accept that I was so much closer to the girls on the playground cheering the game than I ever was to the boys lined up to blitz right over me. I thought. Boys don't. Ok, now that that's solved... : )

Friday, July 1, 2011

It Just Doesn't Need to Be This Long

I was trying to run a webinar from the comfort of my new office today, when who should come stumbling in but Son1 and Son2. Hubs had a lunch meeting, and for no reason I understand, the town’s summer program was not running this morning “for the holiday.” Sorry? Did we move to Canada last night? July Fourth is our day. MONDAY. They day I don't have a webinar scheduled with an overseas crew. So in the door they stroll (loudly), sent in by hubs with lunch to enjoy before heading to the lake, which is open for afternoon. Thank you, God.

While fumbling left and right with mute buttons and timing synchs, we also had a Mountain Dew explode on the conference table (“all by itself”) and then topple over onto a chair (“by accidentally”). Note to self: grammar tutor for the 13 year old, STAT. I’ve long bemoaned the insanely long summer vacation our kids get. If we’re falling behind every industrialized country in math and science, why the hell are my kids not IN SCHOOL.

To really grasp how long this crazy educational hiatus is, all 110640 minutes/ 1844 hours/ 76 days/ 10.857142857143 weeks of it, I will share with you the scale of what you could accomplish in this span were your kids not driving you insane:

Select your preferred activty:
  • Mix, bake, cool, and ice 31,239 cupcakes
  • Jetski from San Diego, California to Papua New Guinea 9.346 times
  • Welp a litter of puppies, and have 2 ½ weeks to spare
  • Walk the Appalachian Trail 2.27657 times. Go for 3.3891 times if you choose not to sleep.
  • Listen to the song American Pie 12,815 times
  • Watch 5,029 episodes of Sex and The City. I don’t know, I really think the Samantha character could get a little stale by episode 3,210, but that’s just me.
  • Ride “It’s A Small World” 10,537 times
  • Be arrested, arraigned, sentenced, serve 5 days and 1,000 community service after the violent spree that many rounds of “It’s A Small World” would trigger… and STILL have a week left
  • Read “War and Peace” 12.3 times.
  • Order Rosetta Stone, learn fundamental Russian, and read it in native language 1.7 times.
  • Get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop 3,951 times by licking only
  • Perform 1,053 liposuction procedures. Hey wait a minute, we may be on to something after all.
  • Create 623 really amazing dioramas, thus seeing your child and every child in your community through from Kindergarten through 5th grade.

And my personal summer vacation favorite:
  • Blend and drink 2,688 margaritas. I’ve adjusted this down from 3,688 to allow “sleep off time.” Without it the blender may get a little hazardous. Safety first!

Yet in reality, my 11 and 13 year old will be lucky to simply get through 2-3 summer reading books a piece, and avoid being trampled in a fit of rage by my Roomba-vacuum-wielding hubs, crazed at the sand in the house again from the lake’s beach. And it’s only July 1.

Now, again, I ask you…. Why the hell do they get ALL this time off???