Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lying Liars

The GFYO's classroom produces a newspaper every Monday. The kids report their weekend adventures and voila! There's the news. Lots of cute stuff about kids who "sleeped in" and kids who made "bag kites and flew off the dock" and the occasional, "I went to the liquor store with my dad."

The GFYO once reported that he spent his weekend at the museum with his grandmother where he saw a shark. There was only one part of his "news" that was true: my mom had been here. But the museum? The shark? Nope and nope. Did he forget what he actually did? Was he trying to make us look all smartypants and stuff? Nope and nope.

"I just lied," he said.

What is up with that? Am I raising a bunch of lying liars up in here? I THINK NOT. I am raising future valued citizens, valued citizens who do not in fact, should not in fact be all lying liars.

Is the playroom tidy? Yes, they cheerfully reply. LIE. Is your homework done, all of it? Absolutely, she claims. LIE. You do so like chicken, I say. I hate chicken, she says. LIE. Did you see a freakin' shark at a museum? Well, once I did, he says. LIE.

I would apply a polygraph daily if I could but frankly, we all know those things are iffy and also, you know the Short Drunk People would team up and strap me down to the thing. Like when I was half-awake on a Sunday morning. My weakest moments.

Is your name Mom?
Do you live on Hilly Street in Small Town?
Did you sacrifice your washboard abs for Three Short Drunk People?
Is is true that when you were 9 you washed all the toilets in the house weekly?

See? The little lying liars would totally call my bluff.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hey Hey Hey Hey

Bridget dances past me at the stove tonight.
She's singing, "donchu furget about meeee, dont uuuu..."

I say, how do you know that song? and at the same time I grab the spoon mic to get my kitchen karaoke on -- "i'llbe uhlloone babeee" -- and she says, I just know it, and then I'm at the mic again -- "dancin in the... dancin in the sumthin" --
and then: mommmmmmm!!!
Gawd, she says.

Gawd, I said on Saturday night when some baby-faced fellow bar patron told me and my high school posse that we were "so St. Elmo's fire." Why? I said, because we're friends from high school or what? Good God man, I said: what are you saying?

"I did see that movie a lot," said my friend."At least none of us was as crazy as Demi," said the other. "Rob Lowe was so hot," I said, "but I hated that earring."

It was right about then that the dude pulled out his pen and starting taking notes like an anthropologist. You could see his eyes widen with his discovery. I swear he might have measured our skulls if we let him any closer. Turns out he "loves old movies man" and before all his cougar slash sociological fantasies could come true, we discovered that his bosses bosses boss is also a friend of ours from school. He was smart enough to make a swift retreat before asking for our panties.

The thing about hanging out in the city of your youth for the weekend with two of your oldest best friends is that something like this will happen. Sure, you've traded your dinner of Ruffles and canned onion dip for 4 stars but when you wind up in a bar at 10:30 at night, you still expect... miracles? dim lighting? to blend in? You do not expect to be the girls who not only saw the old movie in the movie theater (first run) but also wore some of the same clothes -- and ohmygawdlookatyou, you're still partying dude! But it happens. And you were still partying, because some things never change. And the whole thing just made for more funny shit to laugh about in the morning.

Vanity and security, said those Simple Minds. I had no idea what that meant back then, but with my plastic spoon in hand doing my best cheesy rock star for my kids, I get it now. You trade one for the other.

I spooned the sauce, which was 4 star from a jar. My audience was less than thrilled as always, but hey (hey hey hey), they won't forget about me. I'll be alright, baby.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Your Mother Is Coming Tomorrow

You will head South...

as your mother heads North to the Small Town to take care of the Short Drunks.

You're gonna read some stuff about truth and friendship and blogging and Your Book when you get there. You do not care so much about the thing you have to read (perform?) as that comes easy to you.

You will worry about your soccer thighs, your mouthy self, and if anyone can see just how scared you are...

You will stand in the high heels someone gave you to stand in.
Your mother will rearrange the furniture at your home while you're gone.
You will read something you wrote a year or so ago.
You will read it out loud. Out fucking loud.

Someone will ask you why.

You will answer as your mother might:

"why not?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Storms, Big and Small

We ran away from home, me and the kids, a four-day weekend of our own devious, skipping school design, to hang out with my mom in the woods of Connecticut. We planned to ski together, me and the kids and my mom, and we did -- though briefly: rain and wind and slushy snow made short work of our plans. Instead, we played Boggle and ate birthday cake and tried to buy a raincoat for a dog.

Funny stuff happened, including Rory asking me, pretty much apropos of nothing, "Were you ugly in college?" I explained that though I was six inches taller than I am now and had jet black, pin-straight hair and a thick German accent, I was, in fact, gorgeous. Mom, she said, on to my charade, so wikkid smaht is she: you were never tall.

Right, I said. I was never tall. Or German.

The storm got worse. My mother donned a green boa and sleek leather boots and left with corned beef for a St. Patrick's Day party at the club. I listened to the exhaust vent of her oven slam shut and open again with the wind. I might have seen bears wander the perimeter of her house and so kept the pup, the appetizer, on a short leash. I wondered if you could hear a tree fall and if so, how much time you might have to dodge it.

I was relieved to remember that my mother always drives like her house is on fire, so I knew she could speed past the falling trunks of death -- which was a weird reversal of worry, I know. I put the kids to bed, extra covers of down to cushion the blow of some giant pine, and I realized how well I love cities. Even Small Towns! Places where cops and firefighters are just a block or so away and not a county -- a county! -- away.

Trouble averted, we woke to mostly drizzle and I packed and they played and we left. Somewhere near Sturbridge, I began my white-knuckling.

With 15 feet of visibility, I had to ignore their pissing matches and "mom, tell her to" somethings, because I just wanted us to live another day. I wanted to make distance from giant trucks and just follow the kind tail lights of some gentle, 55-driving minivan. I would have killed for a cigarette. I would have pulled over, but I kept thinking: this will get better. It never did. I wanted someone to take over, carrieunderwood-the-wheel. I was scared. It was scary. I kept it to myself.

Our warm and cleaned-up house felt like cinnamon toast to me. Everyone was home and we were all together, and just like when I left -- fun mom all the time! -- I had the same good intentions for our return -- nice wife all the time!

Instead, I begged him to take the kids out to dinner and he did. Instead, I asked for quiet and he gave it to me. Instead of giving, I asked to be given to.

The soft whir of a pump sends the water from our basement to the street. He takes his children to their beds and reads to each while I cling far too lovingly to these minutes of alone. The wind whips less. The storm has teeth to it yet: some more wind will blow and who knows how the windows will stand...

I hold my breath. I let some stranger kid tell the rest:

Monday, March 8, 2010

We Can't Call Him That Anymore

The GFYO (giant five year old) is no longer F. And he's not so much G any more. Maybe he's KB -- kinda big -- but KBSYO just doesn't roll off the tongue. Not that GFYO did, but still. I guess it's time to move on.

My youngest kid is six today. Six years old. I think it's the same year that Christopher Robin and Pooh parted ways. Six feels like double digits for baby children: six is important and meaningful the same way that ten is, and sixteen, and twenty one and forty. Six heralds the official beginning of genuine childhood.

It's also the first step of his long, quick march away from me.

Today, he who hates homework decided to finish all five pages in one afternoon. Yesterday, he who is lazy and brilliantly manipulative asked for a shoelace tying lesson -- asked for it! -- after months of me trying in vain to teach him. Today, he told me that the balloon I greeted him with at school was "kind of embarrassing." Tonight, he ate ice cream cake with a fork and though his mouth was chocolate mustachioed, the floor was spotless and the counter too.

It's as if he picked this day to do all these big kid things all at once, as if he knows Six already, as if he's been waiting on it and practicing for it, maybe while I was nagging him to tie his own shoes or just not looking. Either way, I think he's trying to remind me how big Six is, and I don't mean big in a Giant kind of a way but in a whoa, wait a sec kind of way, a stop and look around kind of way. A "yesterday I couldn't wipe my own butt, but tomorrow you better not squeeze mine" kind of way.

The GFYO? It's so hard to say goodbye. Thank god I've got this

to blackmail you with.

Happy Birthday, Boy Child. Your mommy loves you.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

You Sexy Thing

The GFYO comes to see me tonight, clearly sniffing out some grub, and when I bust him trying to steal a cookie, he grabs hold of me in a giant "i just got busted" hug and says, "oh you sexy thing!"

This is wrong on many levels of course. But if you saw his face and knew that he still calls yogurt "yogret" and that his other favorite word is rat-skall-ee-yon (pronounced just like that), you would be less disgusted and more charmed. Trust me. The kid is a piece of work, but he's my piece of work and so I take all the blame and maybe someday, I'll take all the credit. He's got the alphabet down pat now, but I can assure you (naysayers) that he really has no idea what "sexy" means except that it makes his sisters laugh when he says it.

OK, OK. I laugh too.

I'm bad that way. Some Short Drunk will do or blurt out something completely inappropriate and I can't not laugh, because it is kind of funny, is it not? But my behavior causes said Drunk to do or say the thing again -- and again -- and now, everyone is in hysterics and acting poorly and I am trying to draw the line and regain the kind of decorum we are known for, but it's very hard to make that very serious stern mom face at a time like that so mostly I hide in the pantry until I get it back together. I am sucker for poop jokes and bare butts and weird dance moves on coffee tables and a five year old kid saying "sexy."

Call Oprah on me if you must (oh! and please tell her about The Book), but it turns out that "you sexy thing" is a line from a commercial. About mops, said Bridget. Very convenient mops, she said.

Someone should start a movement protesting that shit. It's bad for the children.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Things We Will Never Speak Of Again, or How Humiliation Moves Me

So Carolyn's telling this funny story today about making an ass out of herself and of course I find this brilliantly inspiring because I

a) feel for her and compassion is good for creativity
b) started imagining standing there, pointing and laughing
c) found b) very John Hughes-ian which made me think of screen plays
e) am trying my best not to write anything about dog poop
but mostly, it reminded me of something.

A few years ago, when I was not even 40, I found myself as if by some weird magic, in the Mall. The Mall! And even more outrageously, I was in a store with very very loud music that I did not know the words to, and most surprisingly, I was happy... I was on the kind of high you get when your old skinny jeans suddenly fit and you realize -- CLOTHES! Clothes are fun and new and pretty! It's like I'd been rufied by my temporarily skinny self.

I was pushed for time (back then I was picking up the GFYO at 12:30), so I engaged in this supermarket-mania mad-dash through the racks of shiny "ohmygodthatscutes" -- grabbing, feeling, nabbing, holding a skirt, wait a shirt? up to myself in some teeny tiny jewelry mirror and running like hell for the dressing room. Basically, I was looking like a very bad shoplifter (with a credit card) on meth.

Flinging off clothes and pulling on new ones, I stood under awful lights tugging and pretend-hemming, zipping and tying bows in all the wrong places, checking out my ass over my shoulder, and then, the coup de grace, I did the "pretend talking to someone at a party" thing -- laughing, posing, "oh no sir"ing. (You know you do it.)

And then I hung up the discards (hung 'em up, because I wanted those cool shop girls to like me), set the two keepers aside, put my old clothes back on, checked my watch -- 20 minutes left! -- and emerged for one more walk amongst the hot people who listen to the loud music. I was happy the way people on drugs are.

Dangling my awesome skinny girl clothes off my arm, I wandered a bit, calm now, calmer at least, and I noticed these very, very pretty college girls nearby. (Very pretty college girl catch the eyes of everyone, isn't that true?) And in that drug-induced moment, I felt comfortable amongst them -- like a big sister, a cool older friend or at least someone with excellent taste in music who could school them, you know?

Everywhere I went, they went. (They like me!) When I checked out the dangly necklaces, an impulse buy for sure, those girls were there. (They admire me! Maybe they want to interview me for "Career Day"?") (Note to self, I thought: update "career" talk.) (Maybe resume, too.)

I tripped a little bit on the wide-legged hem of the super-trendy pants it turns out I would never wear and that's when they worked up the nerve to approach me.

"Ma'am," they said.

Um, who? I thought, as I whipped myself toward them -- smacking the blonde in the gut with the giant sack of a "handbag" I was carrying.

"Ohnonomygod, sorry," I said, "Oh my god, you okay?"

"Yeah yeah,," the blonde whispered, all low-down and conspiratorial like we were friends, "Your shirt is on inside-out and the tag maybe ripped or something, so it's kinda flapping around behind you."

OH! I said, or maybe I didn't. I have no idea what happened next. The music was really loud and the high was wearing off and I must have paid for my loot, because somewhere in my closet is a sequined halter top we shall never speak of again. Never. We shall never speak of it. Ever. Never. Not once. Done. K? Okay.