Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Ho-Ho-Horrible Truth

Well, I have officially ruined the Christmas Experience for my 11 year old son.

In my defense, it was completely necessary to steal his Christmas Joy and cause him anguish during the most magical time of the year because he was about to get beat up.

Hold on. Not by me. By his friends.

As some of you know, or may remember, he started middle school this fall. Which means he is a child amongst thugs. Listen, my kid is not a nerd, per se. He just believes pretty much everything he hears. Kind of like me, only I prefer to think he wants to see the good in people (which is what my problem was until I became Mean and then basically my being gullible solved itself and the world became a darker place).

I am not what you would call an overprotective parent, or even a parent who shelters their child.

Okay, so yeah maybe you would call me exactly that.

I'm just a big fan of innocence, but I suppose even I cannot ignore that my kid is leaning toward the pansy side of life.

He's a good kid, sensitive toward others, takes care of his sisters (after taking a break from attempting to cause them bodily harm), and just believes.

So I had to make it stop.

He could NOT go to school after the holidays and tell people what Santa Clause brought down the chimney for him and his sisters. It's not that I wanted him to be "cool" or that I was afraid other kids wouldn't like him. I wanted to prevent him from being teased because he really is a sensitive kid. He takes things to heart and I just wanted to save him from possible ridicule. He's been through a lot the last year and I just wanted to be the one to break it to him that the man in red is a big fat fake. Plus I figured I could get the kid on my side and have him help out and play Santa to his sisters. It would be something fun and special that just he and I would get to share. That is, until next year when I would have to bust up his 9 year old sister's dreams of Santa and the North Pole.

So, I consulted with Rawr, I looked online for letters parents wrote to their kids in order to break the news and I even typed out a sample conversation to get my mind in the right spot (Shut up. I write everything down. It isn't a sickness, it's more like my way of working things out. Look at it this way: When I'm 900 years old and can't remember my own name I'll have some reading material and since I already know I'll be a crotchety old woman, I can critique my own ramblings so that when cryogenics is perfected I can time-travel back to my thirties and adjust my writing style this becoming famous, thus saving the world. It is a foolproof plan).

I had everything worked out to break this news to my oldest child, and when the time came I pulled him into his room and sat him on his bed. I stood near the window, which I think was my subconsciousness trying to suggest an escape route if things got crazy.

Me: Son, I have some news. I think you already sort of know what I'm going to say but it just needs to be out there in the open.

My 11: [gazing at me with adoration] Okay, Mom.

Me: Okay, so you know how every Christmas you get presents and some are from Grammy and some are from me and Dad and others are from family?

My 11: [nods] Yeah! Last year Santa brought me that helicopter which was really awesome until Petey ate the antennae and it didn't work. That was a really fun hour.

Me: [gulping] Yeah. Hah. Um. Speaking of which-

My 11: You know what, I wrote that letter to Santa asking him to send an envelope so I could mail the radio control back but I never heard from him. I guess he's just too busy. That's okay because the elves-

Me: [feeling sweaty because that's what ALWAYS happens to me right when I'm about to freak out] SON! Listen. About that. I need to tell you-

My 11: Maybe you could write him a letter, Mom. You used to tell people what to do and if you just told Santa how much I need the helicopter fixed, maybe he would do that in time for Christmas this year.

Me: I can't even get YOU to listen to me, kid. What makes you think Santa is going to... You know what? Enough. Santa isn't real. He's fake. It was always just me and Dad. There. I said it.

It is really too bad I didn't think ahead and photograph this moment because until this taxing conversation with my son, I didn't think it was actually possible for someone's eyes to bug out of their sockets that far without causing permanent damage. Gross.

My 11: What? WHAT DID YOU SAY, MOM?!

And then he freaked out.

My 11: All this time you were LYING to us? You lecture us about lying and you've been doing it MY WHOLE LIFE?


Me: I wouldn't say that, kiddo.

My 11: [stands, paces the room] I can't believe it. My mom is a liar.


So I started to cry. Sort of. I got teary-eyed because this was the end of an era, Peeps. My child's innocence was gone.

I reached out and patted his back, at which point he threw himself against me and just bawled.

I eyed the window.

Me: Honey, it's okay. Santa is real in our hearts. He is the spirit of Christmas. He is still magic.


I called Rawr later that night.

Rawr: How did it go?

Me: Um.

Rawr: That bad?

Me: Um.

The upside? My 11 eventually calmed down and is now my Christmas Accomplice. Except that he wants to talk about it all the time and he keeps doing it in a stage whisper right in front of his sisters. I see this ending poorly. Though not as poorly as I handled breaking the news.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The stupid things I do

Rawr and I went to Wal Mart today. I had to return something I purchased for my 9 but she refused to own because IT LOOKS WEIRD, MOM.

Who knew jeans could freak someone out so much.

Rawr and I split up because everyone in the world knows how long it takes to go through Wal Mart's return line. It never fails: there is always one person stationed at the return register, going incredibly slow because they recently discovered what Job Security is, and there are always AT LEAST two other people behind the counter pretending they can't see the ever-growing line while they make a poor attempt to look busy except they're gossiping about Marge in Cosmetics who always shows up late and never restocks properly and oh-my-gawd-have-you-seen-her-boyfriend-because-he-is-so-ugly, while everyone in the return line grows more and more pissed off at the incredible lack of proper guest service (Can you tell I've dealt with the public for 400 years?).

So there I stood, in that god-forsaken line, shifting from one foot to another while trying to decide if I really cared about a twenty dollars pair of jeans and wouldn't it be better to just walk out and donate the jeans to a shelter when someone behind me spoke.

Voice: Been here long?

Peeps, maybe I'm weird, but I can't stand it when someone says something randomly behind me, someone I didn't even know was there until I heard his voice, and I have to turn around and see if they were even talking to me in the first place, but when I do he's not looking at me so I have to do that weird half smile and pretend like I was looking around for my friend except then they look at you with blank eyes and you start to get really weirded out because then you realize they were talking to you, only now there's been too long of silence for you to rally respond, so you turn around and then they speak again.

Voice: Well?

Really? You wait until I turned around? Fine. Whatever Its freaking Christmas. I will humor you, dude.

Me: Does it matter? It's going to take all day anyway.

Voice: HAHA. Yeah. [stares] How's your day going? Are you off today? Shopping with your husband? Or [looks hopeful] are you single?

Oh, shit. I was SOOO not in the mood for small talk, let alone a conversation where I would have to dodge being hit on.

Me: My husband is dead.

Damnit! Always go with My husband should be along any moment. Stupid!

Voice: [undeterred] Oh. Are you seeing anyone?

Me: [trying not to wrinkle my nose because I've discovered that I do it all the time and it is NOT attractive. Deciding that I don't want to look attractive, so I wrinkle my nose extra hard] No.

Double damnit! ALWAYS LIE, STUPID! 

Voice: You have kids?

Me: Um.

Voice: I don't. I love kids. I have nephews. And nieces.

Me: [wondering if I have done something specific that God has decided to punish me, or if this is just for shits and giggles]

Voice: I'm off on Wednesday. Want to hang out?

Me: Um, no. I don't think so. I'm still... grieving.

Voice: We can just hang out as friends. We can meet in a group for a drink, even. It's okay.

Me: Sorry, it's just that I'm not really-

Voice: Looking for friends? Who doesn't want friends?

Me: Me.

Voice: [laughs] Everyone needs friends. If that makes you uncomfortable, we could meet for coffee.

Me: Um...

Voice: Really. It's not a big deal.

We spoke for a few more minutes until I did something really stupid and gave him my number. My real number. And not because I wanted to, but because apparently I can't tell people no.

Try it. Ask me for my bank account number. While you're at it, tell me to go steal a car. I bet I'll do it

Totally not answering the phone if he ever calls. He was nice, but not my type.

But hey, baby steps, right?

Maybe someday I won't be incredibly terrified of men I don't know.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Who's his kid and why am I reading about him?

Report cards came home on Thursday.

This is never a stressful time because my kids are the smartest kids in the universe.

I'm sure those of you with children share the same opinion. Of your own. And maybe mine, too. Because they are pretty great kids. Mine are, I mean. I have no idea what some of your kids are like. (I'm incredibly biased)

My newly-turned 6 just started kindergarten this year, so this was her first official report card. It was pretty great. Except the teacher listed that my 6 could only count to 14, which is a load of crap because when I've said to her, Hang on, kiddo. I'll be there in three seconds, she starts to count and I'm not exactly punctual so it's usually around 60 before I am able to assist her in whatever it is she needs.

I was holding the report card in my hand when I asked her to count as high as she could. She looked at me and smiled, then this:

One, two, skip a few ninety nine ONE MILLION DOLLARS!


Making a mental note to review my elder children's involvement in teaching their sister to skip-count, I turned to my 9.

Me: Where's your report card, kiddo?

9: I don't have one.

Me: Like hell. Go get it.

9: I'm serious. I didn't get one.

Me: ......

9: Don't know what to tell you, woman. Talk to my teacher!

We are't going to get into why my kid refers to me  as woman.

Luckily, before I emailed the teacher, my 9 returned from school on Friday with her report card.

I skimmed over the card, noting all of her accomplishments, yadda yadda then flipped to the back to read the teachers comments.

Which were all about some kid named Joseph (who is apparently very smart and incredibly shy).

I emailed the teacher, attaching a copy of the report card (because I know how to use a scanner and I feel like I'm important when I do).

Hey there. I received my child's report card today, and while I appreciate you informing me on Joseph's progress, I would actually be very interested in hearing what you have to say about my daughter. I'm sort of partial to her academic progress. 

His response:



I have yet to respond because I'm sort of puzzled.

I mean, what do I say to that, other than the obvious No problem, don't let it happen again?

There's always, Great. Uh, are you going to correct the report card, or email me your thoughts, or is this just it and I can write in my own comments?

I kind of decided to create my own report card on the teacher and send it to him at the end of the year. Only I'm going to include comments regarding my mailman's service.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I was NOT overreacting.

Last week, my English instructor offered our class some extra credit.

Go to a poetry reading, she said.

It will be fun, she said.

All I heard was, I want you to go out and participate in something that is detrimental to your mental health. And after that, if there's anything left in there, I want to to relive the horrifying experience by writing a brief summary of what the reading entailed. Before you inevitably kill yourself because we all know that poets are drunks who encourage devil work.

I went. I wrote.

BTW, I was the ONLY PERSON from my class to attend. Thanks, jerks.

Today, we were in class reviewing for our final and all was normal, only the instructor seemed to be making a lot of eye contact with me. Especially when we were covering sattire.

You that face you make when someone keeps looking at you and you can't figure out why? You kind of wrinkle your nose and scrunch your face? Yeah. That was me.

Then it was time for her to pass back quizzes. And summaries. Of poetry readings.

She walked down my row and held out my summary. I reached out to take it from her, but she didn't let go.

I looked up at her face, both of us holding on to the paper. Her expression was unreadable as I gave the paper a little tug. She held on to it for a second, then let go. I looked at the front of the paper.

See me after class was scrawled on a sticky note.


I shoved the paper in my bag and slouched down in my seat. I spent the remainder of the class feeling like I was going to die.

I do not like being in trouble. It really bothers me when I feel like someone has a poor opinion of me based on something I said or did that seemed funny at the time. It's called Comic Regret and I have an acute case.

Class ended. I gathered my things and trudged to the front of the class as though I was approaching the gallows of doom.

The teacher was waiting for me, leaning against the podium.

Teacher: Emily.

Me: Helllllo.

Teacher: I've never had a student turn in anything like that before.

Immediately, I was defensive. Um, excuse me, but it wasn't THAT BAD. In my head, of course. I can be a tad non-confrontational.

Me: Oh.

Teacher: Did you read my comments?

Me: Um. No.

Teacher: I suggest that you do. See you next week.


Actually, she just turned around. I left. Except I ran. Like a little girl.

(I don't know what it wrong with me lately. I think I'm going through menopause, only I'm not, except I can't explain why I feel like a crazy person. I'm not pregnant, so any of you who just thought that are GOING TO HELL).

When I felt like I was far enough from the classroom, I stopped, ripped the paper out of my bag and took a fearful look.

Oh. I see.

She liked it.

Kinda makes my overreaction a little bit ridiculous.

She went on to suggest that if I wrote fiction I should submit something to our award winning school literary magazine (I kind of wasn't paying a lot of attention a few weeks ago when she told the class just which awards the magazine has won).

Bah HA!

Dude, if she only knew.

I'm already terrorizing the internet. I'll save my ridiculous ramblings for this blog, and the real writers can handle the other stuff.

By the way, if you want to read what I wrote, you can see it here. It's really not that bad.

I wanted to make a WHOLE lot of inappropriate comments regarding the Poet's name (Matthew Dickman) and the length of his presentation, but luckily I remembered I'm not in junior high and I saved myself some embarrassment.

The Disappearing Poet

*This ties in with the post I was not overreacting

My Dickman Experience: Or Lack Thereof
          On Friday, I had the chance to attend a poetry reading on campus. My English instructor bribed us non-poetry loving students with the promise of replacing our lowest quiz grade with a perfect score if we attended to reading and wrote a summary. My lowest score is 8 out of 10, which is no big deal. Normally.
          Since I am less than one point away from an A in the class, and since I can’t pass up the chance to get extra credit and especially since it kills me to grade anything less than an A in any class, I knew I would have to suck it up and attend the reading in order to get those two points and therefore improve my grade.
          A moment. I am not a fan of poetry. In fact, one might describe me as a person who would rather listen to techno while watching bad 80s films in a room full of molting birds (allergies!) than to be force-read poetry. I mean no disrespect to the poets themselves by any means. I just do not enjoy the stuff. I’ve tried to like it. I’ve taken a poetry class and I’ve attended readings in coffee shops. Poetry and I were just never meant to be.
          However, moving up a letter grade was more important to me than my brain function (that made sense before I wrote it down) so I made plans to attend.
          I had my youngest daughter with me that morning, and with promises of lollipops and a trip to the library in exchange for her absolute silence, we slid through the doors to the PUB room about forty-five minutes into the reading. I realize how rude it was to show up late to something like that, but my Friday mornings are usually crammed full of appointments and errands and I just wasn’t able to make it on time.
          I guess it was also a little rude to prematurely remove my hand from the door, letting it smack shut and send the sound of my tardiness echoing through the room. My face burned with embarrassment as I tiptoed over to a spot near the wall, found a seat and pulled my daughter onto my lap. I smiled apologetically at the students who were looking at me (fans of poetry do, apparently, exist because there were several giving me the death-stare for disturbing their moment) and fixed my attention on the man standing at the front of the room in front of a microphone. He looked to be not much older than myself, wore glasses and had hair that hung in his eyes. I surprised myself by thinking Wow. A real poet. And then Okay, self. That’s a pretty juvenile assessment. Glad to know we haven’t matured past fifth grade.
          I shook my head in an effort to refocus my attention, which was a mistake because at that same moment my daughter flipped her long hair over her shoulder and our heads collided with a loud crack that was most likely heard by the people outside the building. I blinked away tears as I hugged my daughter close, praying that she wouldn’t start screaming in agony and shouting blame. As luck would have it, my daughter has super hero strength and all she did was look back at me and raise her eyebrows. I aimed a pained smile her way just as a man from the back of the room spoke up. He announced that he was sorry to interrupt, but that students needed to be released in order to get to their next class on time. I looked up at the clock. It was 10:45am. The reading was scheduled to last until 11:30am. Dude was being cut off forty-five minutes early. NOT GOOD. I had only just arrived. I hadn’t even heard the poet speak and he was already being dismissed. I had a summary to write!
          I watched helplessly as students clapped and then got to their feet, exiting through the same door I had just entered moments ago. The man who had made the initial announcement called out that the coffee was finally ready and that there were refreshments available. Some people laughed. My daughter’s body went rigid, then she turned to me with pure hope in her eyes. I knew what she was thinking. I shook my head, reminding her that we were going to the library afterward. I remained seated as I frantically tried to come up with some way of saving the assignment. I thought about waiting my turn to speak with Mr. Dickman and politely asking him which poems he had read so I could go home and look them up on the internet but decided against it because for all I know he witnessed the entire entry/disturbing fellow students/head smacking debacle and would be offended that not only could I not be bothered to show up on time, but that I was a klutz and also kind of an idiot. I then entertained the idea of posing as a reporter for the school newspaper, but decided against that because even when I was on staff for my other college newspaper fifteen years prior, posing questions to a complete stranger always made me want to vomit. But then hey, so does poetry so at least there’s a theme. My last thought involved following Mr. Dickman out to his car and waiting until no one was around before tapping him on the shoulder and pretending I recognized him as a famous poet in a random parking lot, but then I realized I hadn’t yet read any of his poetry and suppose Mr. Dickman asked which of his poems I favored? I am a terrible liar. My face gets red and I start to sweat. I’m unable to form sentences and I start to bite my lip a lot. Mr. Dickman could mistake my behavior for a stroke and call 911 and then I would have to pretend it was true because whenever I do lie (and believe me, it is almost never) I can’t stop and I get carried along with whatever situation has been set into effect. Even if I was able to stop him from dialing 911 and explain that I was lying, I think Mr. Dickman would develop an opinion of our college that would not be favorable.
          I realized that there was not much I could do about missing the reading without being completely rude to Mr. Dickman. I also did not want to be perceived as an obnoxious, vomiting liar.
I set my daughter on her feet and stood up. I gave Mr. Dickman one last glance, knowing that he may never know how close he came to pure awkwardness and a possible police report.
We slipped out the door and disappeared into the crowd. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Extra Extra, it's in front of your face

Telephone conversation between Mumsie and I.

Mumsie: I think someone stole the tractor.

Me: That's something I never thought I would hear. 

Mumsie: Yeah. Dad saw some guys wandering up and down the road over the last few days. He thinks maybe they were scoping out houses.

(My parents live out in the middle of nowhere in a teenie tiny town with like, population eleven. Anyone unrecognizable wandering up their road should raise immediate suspicion. The house should have been put on lock-down, the hounds released and the bunker retreated to)

Me: That's a little creepy. I guess it's a good thing Dad owns 750 guns and three attack cats. And some elk.

Since I'm pretty eloquent wordy, I thought I might make a poster for my parents, just in case the tractor was spotted cruising down the main drag.

John Deere Tractor, green
Last seen on 10 acre plot in the middle of nowhere
Useful for mowing grass and other activities
Please raise your hand if you see it

My parents filed a police report for the missing tractor, but Mumsie couldn't shake the feeling that it was just too weird for someone to steal their tractor. She called me back a few days later.

Mumsie: Found it.

Me: Where?

Mumsie: Where we usually park it. Except it was under a tarp.

Me: Dude.

Mumsie: Yeah.

Apparently my 9 was the last kid on it and covered it with the tarp so it didn't get wet in the rain.

I amended my poster.

My parents sanity and eyeballs
Good luck finding those