Saturday, October 30, 2010

Want to Really Know Your Kid? The Secret's in the Sack (of Halloween Candy)

(This was published -- in a different form -- here already. Lazy? Maybe, but I've been busy dudes!)

It’s not the eyes that are the only windows to the soul. Show me a kid with a pile of Halloween candy and I’ll show you that kid’s true nature and personality.

Let's review, shall we?

The Security Specialist: This child will scope out a secure candy storage spot days in advance of Halloween. She dreams of biometric locks and humidity-controlled safe rooms and fears younger siblings and hungry, late-night noshing parents.

The Analyst: With access to a computer, this kid will whip up a Candy Haul spreadsheet in seconds. The document might even be accompanied by the latest in graphing technology: 27 Snickers, 15 Skittles, etc with moving parts like the Nasdaq. This child is interested more in buying trends and candy popularity (“Almond Joy sees continued downward momentum,” for instance). He will sort (and often, re-sort) each treat with the precision of a mathematical genius.

The Free Spirit: You will know this child by the path of wrappers trailing him from house to house. Why wait, thinks this kid, while digging into the loot while still costumed and hitting houses. He can barely mumble a “trick or treat” because of the Laffy Taffy stuffed in his mouth. This child lives for the moment and cares little for convention.

The Mover and Shaker: Making trades is the name of the game – and this kid will never lose out on the deal. Three mini Twix for a king size Reeses? Done. This child will likely partner with The Analyst for up-to-the minute trending information. She is on a full out mission to monopolize the market.

The Negotiator: No candy for breakfast? No candy for lunch? The Negotiator is relentless in challenging the terms of candy consumption. Deals will be made, promises will be issued: this child will sweet-talk her way to more sweets. Or die trying.

The Saver: The stockpile is a thing of beauty to this prudent child. Like Midas with his gold, this kid will swoon over unopened treats and practice self-discipline like a Zen master. He probably has candy from last Halloween.

The Entrepreneur: This child will seize any and all money-making opportunities and has likely already sold lemonade at a swift mark-up. With aspects of The Saver, the Entrepreneur will reserve loot until she is convinced typical sources have been effectively burnt out. Then it's sell, sell, sell.

The Scientist: Given some free space, a hard surface, a hammer (or soup can) and with luck, a bottle of Coke, this child could create nuclear fusion from a Pixie stick, a Skittle and Wii wand. Messy? Yes. Brilliant? Foshizzle. (Note: parents who say "foshizzle" rarely breed these types of children.)

Doubt my psuedo-science? Naturally I have no proof and like always am operating off a gut instinct that when not bloated from Snickers is ridiculous right all.the.time, but I implore you nonetheless to send me your own case-studies. Screw nature/nurture blahblahblah: it's the candy people! Surely I am on to something...

As for me? I am the pain in the Security Specialists ass.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It Gets Better

I interrupt my heterosexuality to remind teens in question that even straight moms are not narrow.

Find the cool mom in the 'hood.

They exist.
I'm one.

It gets better.

I promise.

I can't wait to see what you will do.

Someone will love you. I promise.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ALONE part one

(I wrote this in late June, or started it then, and finished it (?) on Monday. I hit publish but forgot to change the date so it went deep into the pages. I am re-publishing it now with a new date. Which is hard. Because this is some thinky, very personal, thinky shite...)

When I was a kid, we lived in a house edged by a pond with swampy woods surrounding it. I played there for hours alone. Sometimes, I played there with neighbor kids or friends from school, but never for long: I needed them to agree with my secret swamp world exactly.

That fallen tree? That’s my magic horse. This raised grassy lump? A tuffet for the Queen. I was (literally) a team player in every other part of my kid life, but in my woods? It was either play in my world as I did, or I would live there alone.

I was bossy. Weird and bossy. And I didn't mind playing alone.

I never minded being punished to my room: there were no distractions there. When my friends had grown beyond my make-believe world in the woods, and after I pretended that I had too, I sometimes snuck out to that grassy tuffet. I dreamt poems there and stories I still haven't told. I loved that mossy throne; it was comforting. There was just the snap and shake of the trees in the wind there, just the flap of goose wings or ripples from turtles on the water. There was nothing else, no one else but me and a day dream.

It was the beginning of a long romance. Solitude and day dreams are both charming seducers.

I got my first Walkman when I was 12. I was losing my fearless self to boobs and puberty and what would become the beginning of a slew of self-doubts. The headphones let me disappear with the Beach Boys and Ramones and Elvis Costello. When I learned not to sing the words out loud while plugged in, I realized I could be perfectly (confidently) alone
and in the room at the same time. When I was 17, booze did the same thing.

Now? Not much has changed.

I covet the space I make, though these days it requires building barriers that are achingly harder to create and come with more consequences. The answering machine is my armor, but sometimes, I make shields of sunglasses and excuses -- forgetfulness or the busy-busy of life. When push comes to shove, I hide behind the gilded mesh of cheap beer. I'm pushing off and away for sure, just not to some fantastic kingdom of my own making. Just off and away.

My building of moats is ruled by the same master I met when I was a kid: I still have a need to be alone, to shake off life by getting quiet in my own space. But the ditch digging I do as an adult? It's driven by a master who now has two heads.

I know well the difference between alone and lonely as I have felt both, so when I say that the adult and mother I have become needs to be separate and silent and all by herself sometimes, I am speaking a bitter truth but one I can swallow.
It's when I realize that my absences are more than just a "room of one's own," re-charging kind of thing but also the symptom of a (life-long?) dread of being boring or unfunny or lazy or dull... Well, that's when I begin to see the master as more of a monster.

The Kid understands this of me (as well as he can), but my children do not. They are however old enough to question why I stay behind sometimes when they go out to dinner or why I just "let it go to voicemail," so I know they wonder about it.
I know I make people I love lonely for me; sometimes I have trumped their feelings for my own. I am surely old enough to know better, but, sometimes “knowing” is not enough.

Sometimes the desperate need to be alone -- to be back atop that tuft in the woods, quiet enough to hear my own voice talking back to me through the swamp and the skunk cabbage without the worry of talking out loud or being that person I think (they think) I am -- sometimes that desire beats out every good and righteous one in me.

To be continued...