Tag Archives: Children

The fall ball

He followed behind me through the Target, trudging ever so slowly, his small feet stomp-stomp-stomping on the linoleum, something obviously amiss.

“What is it,” I crabbed through a yawn.

“I just… I thought I’d get a prize,” he said, stone cold serious.

“A prize????” I said, shocked. “For what?”

“For dancing with you,” he said, looking down at his slow, stomping, untied shoes on his slow, stomping, little boy feet.

But he was serious as a heart attack. Eight years old, that tear in the corner of his eye threatening to escape right on out and down his cheek. We’d spent 90 minutes at the annual Mother-Son Fall Ball, you see. There had been line dancing former woo girls recapturing their college days with eyes closed while they forgot for three minutes that they were in the cafetorium of the elementary school. There were at least three moms who didn’t realize that it wasn’t a full on formal event. There were banana clips. We had to hear what the damn fox said.

But for a brief minute, Stevie Wonder sang some mellow, comfortable, soothing Stevie Wonder song, and that boy came and grabbed me by the hand, and let me swing and sway right in the center of that makeshift dance floor, where at one point I even dipped him low and smothered him with wet kisses right there in front of his friends. Surely that’s worth a prize. Say, a Lego, retail price, $25. Why else would he have asked to stop at Target under the guise of “I’m hungry, can I get a snack.” We needed milk anyway.

Should have seen it coming.

A prize.

*scoff*

He looked up at me. Pitiful.

“Please,” he whimpered. “You’re just so awesome.”

Call me a sucker. Call me a fool. Slap my ass and call me Lloyd Christmas. Because he’s right. I’m awesome.

It’s getting away from me, this childhood thing. Just like my Mama said it would. I won’t say that it’s blink-of-an-eye fast, but the things that I thought were just NEVER. GONNA. END….

  • …middle of the night wake-ups
  • …toddler sized clothes
  • …believing in magical creatures
  • …cuddles
  • …wanting me
  • …needing me

It’s fading. It’s fading fast.

There was no “mother” in the Mother-Son Fall Ball. I joked with one of the other moms that they should sell alcohol. And we both went, “ha ha… ha ha ha….. a ha ha.. ha…”

*sigh*

*throat clear*

*look around*

*sip lemonade*

*look at it disgusted because it’s not spiked*

*wish the alcohol fairy would appear*

*smile at one another*

*look at the air*

We really were just there to drop our kids off, and watch them run around the cafetorium for 90 minutes, and occasionally hand them a dollar bill to go and buy another glow stick like some learning curve into the raves of tomorrow. I suppose whatever it is that the fox says would be hilarious if I had some mind altering medications in me…

I digress.

My fun and free party days gave in to these days of motherhood, of poopy diapers and midnight wake-ups and sore boobs and screw it I’m bottle feeding I’ll just lie to the breast-feeding Nazis because FOR THE LOVE my nipples are bleeding and carry on and carry through and first steps and first words. My fellow women-folk and I read the books and did the work on our relationships and made MORE babies (because of the alcohol) and did it again and took on more than we should because as it turned out we could and dammit we were good at it.

But the funny thing is, while we were busy preparing for babies — leaning to install car seats and to put them to sleep on their backs and testing nipples (for our filthy bottle feeding habits!!) and becoming oblivious to the vomity smell of the boppy wondering if we’d ruin them for life with an exersaucer versus the walker — no one even ONE time told us that we’d need to prepare for things like the Mother-Son Fall Ball. Or MAP testing. Or weekly spelling tests. Or parent teacher conferences. Or the extended phone call you’d have to have with an English teacher who’d marked on your seventh grader’s paper that the event he’d written about – the 1989 San Francisco earthquake – had never happened (totally true story).

One day they went off to pre-K, and it was so adorable, you pretty much wet yourself. You fail to realize how quickly it stops being so cute. That the 100-day project and Flat Stanley only go so far into a kid’s academic career.

Suddenly you’re left still with these little kids. But they sure aren’t your babies any more. They’re youngsters who want a prize for dancing with you.

“Isn’t he so amazing, he’ll be all grown before you know it,” my mother would say, her annoying words carving like a scratching bug right into my earhole.

mom and hank 2002

Seriously, lady, why are you rushing him?

00george

Why are you rushing along the mop top toddler-hood like I’ll forget all about it?

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See. Still as little as always. Only not so much. Now, they want prizes for dancing with me.

I hate it when my mother was right.

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So we made a deal. First, the selfie. The proof that there was in fact the Mother-Son Fall Ball. He wore a tie. I bought him glow sticks. I was his date. He lost a tooth just for the occasion. We danced. It wasn’t the longest dance, but it was a magical one. I sang when Stevie Wonder sang. He rolled his eyes at me. He let me kiss him in front of his friends.

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He got his prize. One messy pre-packaged, terrible for you salty snack pack, and one (not $25, more like $3.99) Lego. He did, after all, dance with me.

And there is still this:

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The little one and the big one, the big one almost there. The tips of my fingers just ever so slightly reach over the tippy tops of his. For now, this week, for the moment, my hands, these hands that once could hold both theirs inside the palm of my own, are still bigger.

They are still my baby boys.

They always will be.

You can have a prize.

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Schooled

Anyone who knows me knows that I love summer.

In summer I’m all like:

00summer

Check out these flowers!

And:

00summer2

Beers on the patio at BWW!!

And:

00walk

Walk with Marney!

And:

00summer7

Mud race!

And:

00summer5

Swimming!

And:

00summer3

‘Sconsin!

And:

00tat2

Did you SEE my new tattoo??

And:

00catkick

HELL YEAH, SUMMER!!!!!!!

But I ain’t gonna lie. There’s a lot of this going on:

00summer4

Seriously, yo.

When does school start again?

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In my expert opinion

And…… nothing.

That’s right, I have nothing to add in my expert opinion, because I am not an expert. Not in anything that I can mention on a blog that my mother reads, anyway.

So, here I am, looking at 40. This is an interesting age, and I think it is especially interesting for me as the youngest in my own family, where hitting 40 is once again just the thing that everyone else got to do first.

Do I feel old? No. Maybe? Just a tad sometimes? But while maybe I can look back on 26 or 31 with fond “oh, to be young again” bemoaning, I also know a few 50, 60, 70+ year olds who think the same of 40. So maybe I should stop mourning the loss of my youth and embrace the fact that I am still, in fact, young.

But as I age, there is one thing that I STOP doing, slowly. And that, my friends, is thinking that I know it all.

I saw a “trending” article on the facepage about a mom named Stephanie Metz, who posted on her blog last month a diatribe aimed at the agents of “modern parenting” and how “the mentality of our society in 2013 is nauseating” to her. Stephanie is a mother of two young boys, and as a mother of two boys myself, you’d think I relate to this lady. And I suppose I probably could. If I could see past her arrogance of presuming to know how the world works for ALL other parents from her perch behind a computer screen somewhere in South Dakota.

I’ll avoid my bitchy instinct to comment on her annoying habit of writing her blog in centered text.

Seriously, this is annoying

as hell to read. Why the hell are you

centering the text. Who taught you this

nonsense? Stop it. Stop it right

this very minute.

But I do want to take just a moment to address the substance of her post from October 25, entitled, Why My Kids Are NOT the Center of My World.

I assumed I would agree with this post, based on that title. Jim and I try really hard not to let the kids think that they are sun around which our world revolves. They have their shining moments, but they have their backstage ones too. We try not to spoil, or to let them have expectations that we’ll just do something for them.

But then I started reading it, and it was downright comical at parts.

A small sample:

In completely selfish terms, bringing my boys into this world was such a great decision – for me.  They bring me so much joy, they fill my heart, they make me happy.  But I often question whether or not it was the right decision for them.  My boys are typical little boys.  They love to play guns.  They love to play good guy versus bad guy.  They love to wrestle and be rowdy.  That’s the nature of little boys, as it has been since the beginning of time.

How long will it be before their typical boy-ish behavior gets them suspended from school?  How long before they get suspended from daycare???  How long will it be before one of them gets upset with a friend, tells that friend to go away and leave them alone, and subsequently gets labeled as a bully?

The mentality of our society in 2013 is nauseating to me, friends.

Do you see what I mean about the center text? That’s annoying.

Once I realized she was starting off on a “let my kids have their guns” stance, I realized maybe we’d have issues. I get it, you want your kids to play with their toy guns. Newsflash, mine have them too. But also, newsflash AGAIN, not all little boys play with fake guns. And newsflash times three, guns in school are an actual documented real threat, and schools have to do SOMETHING. They set anti-gun rules and regulations. If you hate it, home school your kids. But is it really that big of a deal that your kid can’t bring his Nerf gun to school? Is this such a necessary part of his childhood?

I digress.

She carries on about how modern parents are too protective. They answer to their children too quickly, they don’t let them feel agony of defeat. They will not be prepared for society, she notes, because their folks aren’t letting them learn to be disappointed.

While I don’t disagree that parents like this exist, the idea that it is new or modern or the plight of the Mom and Dad of 2013 is downright laughable. There have always been parents who hovered over their children and protected them from the big bad, and there have always been children who received a rude awakening when finally dropped into the real world. Where do you think the term “Mama’s Boy” came from, anyway?

Stephanie goes on about how we overreact to bullying, and how her boys will be prepared for the real world, because SHE is clearly winning at motherhood as she preps them for the fight by letting them know that they can’t always be the most important person in the room.

Take that, modern parents. Schooled!

For the most part, however, I find her post naive and uninformed. At best, she is being disingenuous in parts, although, if she is not, then she is clueless.

At one point, on her anti- anti-bulling rant, she writes: “…if Sally calls Susie a bitch (please excuse my language if that offends you), Susie’s whole world crumbles around her, she contemplates suicide, and this society encourages her to feel like her world truly has ended, and she should feel entitled to a world-wide pity party. And Sally – phew! She should be jailed! She should be thrown in juvenile detention for acting like – gasp – a teenage girl acts.”

That’s fine and all, except that there’s nothing accurate about it.

Girls call each other bitches all the time in school. Still happens. And they really do still just deal with it, just like we all did when we were younger.

Stephanie is equating every instance of name calling with every instance of true bullying. The latest incident of a girl who killed herself in relation to being bullied, it wasn’t because of one little comment, and no one was jailed for just acting like a teenager. It was documented systematic abuse of a girl who was subsequently failed by everyone, from her school to her own parents. It was far more serious than a single instance of name calling.

I felt my skin crawl a little reading Stephanie’s rant, as she cheapened the true struggles of those who ARE bullied, by suggesting that it’s all in their heads. It’s not. That’s great when so many of us can look back and say, meh, it wasn’t so bad, I dealt with it. But to suggest that our experience then MUST be the one everyone else feels, that’s just ignorant. Did you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people aged 15-24. It’s not a punchline. Should we really brush these people off like they just weren’t tough enough to take it?

I say this to Stephanie and those who nod their heads along with her:  My world does not revolve around my children completely either. That said, I can teach them to function in society while simultaneously protecting them from the truly bad things of the world, just like my own mother and father did for us. I can teach them not to put up with being crapped on by others, without telling them that it’s just a part of life, and toughen up.

Because it’s not.

Most people aren’t shoved into lockers by their employers. Co-workers actually are NOT allowed to walk around calling each other bitches. It’s okay to teach them that they don’t have to accept being pushed around, figuratively and literally. It doesn’t mean I am tuning them into losers with no critical thinking skills. Quite the opposite, I am trying to teach them conflict resolution. Who knows if it will stick. But it’s my job to try.

I can also teach them to come to me with their problems, big and small, and, lacking the ability to reach a solution on their own, I will come to their aid. Not because they are the center of my world, but because I am their mother, and that is my job.

They don’t have to just sit and take it. Sometimes they can come to me. Sometimes they can come to their father. Sometimes they can go to each other. And other times, yes, they will be told to figure it out. But I won’t teach them that figuring out solutions to all their problems MUST be done on their own. That dealing with problems in the silence of their own thoughts will somehow magically make them better adults.

And I won’t assume that their experiences will mirror my own. That’s just, well, dense.

Stephanie does not seem to understand that there are more than two kinds of parents out there. It’s not just her kind, and the wrong kind.

But it was her end notes that really got me: “I know of two gentlemen that are going to be able to accept failure and move on having learned something from it…  I know of two gentleman who will be hurt emotionally, but who will be able to work through the hurt and carry on with life.”

I find this hilarious.

Try not to break your arm patting yourself on the back there, lady. No one knows exactly how their children will turn out as adults. Especially in light of the fact that the two gentlemen who Stephanie is raising are pretty much still babies.

Stephanie is not an idiot, and I suspect she is not at all ignorant or dense or naive. But she certainly is presumptuous. Stephanie clearly thinks she knows that which she cannot possibly know. I imagine, as I wind my way through understanding junior high, my brother and sisters with grown children are laughing at the things I have yet to figure out.

My mother is enjoying this the most.

You can’t possibly be an expert on what other parents do, or how they do it, or how your brand of parenting teens is the right way to parent teens, when your children are more than a decade away from that milestone.

Stephanie mentions she is 29.

I’m 39.

Talk to me in ten years, honey. You’re not quite the expert on raising hormone-filled boys and navigating middle and high school behavior that you seem to think you are. Nor are you all that knowledgeable on how to navigate the world of bullying just because you once faced a bully or two yourself.

This isn’t your story. It’s theirs. And you have yet to see a glimpse.

In my expert opinion, I say, you’ll learn.

And you’ll realize how ridiculous you sound.

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Happy Easter!!

Peanut-butter stuffed chocolate eggs and boxes of sugar and bizzaro land “cream” filled eggs and colorful hard boiled eggs delivered fresh to my house in a cheap weave basket by a magical bunny who breaks in while we sleep.

easter4

Just like baby Jesus said.

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See you in September…

If you blinked you missed it. It’s already a day until October! Holy crap!

I’ve mentioned before my true and utter love of any and all things summer, and how fall might as well be renamed “crush” for the way that it depresses my spirits and horrifies me worse than the time I walked into my parent’s bedroom at an inopportune time. I  hate cold weather. I hate it. With a passion. My friends on the face page who live in Florida and Texas are all like “OH MY GOD Y’ALL IT IS SO HOT” and I would like to punch them in the groins.

I’ve made several attempts to savor what it left of the warm weather, but I cannot help the fact that the stars are clearly facing the wrong direction and I can envision the snow piled up all over the sidewalks. I HATE WINTER.

But I have made the best of September I think. It started like this:

That is me in the grey shirt in the center there. What am I doing you ask? Well, I am completing a half-marathon, that is what I am doing! Yes, I started September by running 13.1 miles. ON PURPOSE.

I’ll have you know that this run (well, trot) was not just about proving to myself that I could do it. I decided to make this run after Brendan killed himself, kind of as a tribute to him, but also to really challenge myself and try and see what I could make my body do. And it does not do it fast, but my body sure can push itself. I’d like to think it was a nice tribute to Brendan, even though I was all alone. Although I suppose if there is a heaven, and he was up there watching me do that, he probably thought, “what the hell are you doing?” No one was even chasing me.

But the running bug may be spreading:

If we don’t watch ourselves, we’ll stop being fatties any day now!

Starting off the month with a 13 mile jaunt makes the start of fall just a little better. Here are some of the things I have learned throughout the month:

  • Back to school rocks. I have not worked my way up to walking around the house naked yet, but I do bask in the quiet.
  • School band sounds super exciting. Until you realize the instrument your kid wants is $900. He better be gifted.
  • If you let your friends know that you are fashion stupid, they will turn into Cher and Dion from Clueless and you get to be Brittany Murphy (the alive version of her) and try on gobs of clothes. And even if you don’t totally love that, playing dress up is always fun.
  • When in doubt on your husband’s birthday, a t-shirt featuring Darth Vader on a motorcycle is a sure bet as a present.
  • High school football is fun, even if you feel a little like a creeper at the game since you have no high school aged children.
  • College football is better, because you can daydream about what those boys are capable of doing without truly be a creeper, as they are of age.
  • Fall smells pretty.

Now let’s get on with October. I’ve got another 10-mile run coming up, and have to build up my snow shoveling muscles. Summer will be back before we know it!

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Remembering those memories, part II

If the Valentine’s story was not enough, I also found this, a true and vivid picture of my exemplary job as a mother. Entitled “Our day at the pumpkin patch,” this one came from October 16, 2007:

Here’s a little story about a day in the life of this Mom and her boys.

 Yesterday, we all head over to the fabulous Dollinger’s Pumpkin Farm for an afterschool field trip.  First, we rode the train.  It sure was nice of the Pumpkin Farm Lady to put me, Hank and George in the caboose.  The caboose that was designed for 5 year olds.  I was sooooooo excited that I got to crawl into a tiny little car while attempting to drag George behind me.  Good thing I was wearing my low-rise jeans so everyone could get a good look at my crack!
So, after the ride, and after I gracefully squeeze my way back out of the caboose, we head over to the pumpkin patch and park.  Hank wants to touch farm animals.  Well, you can take the girl out of the suburbs, but you cannot take the suburbs out of the girl.  “No way, man, that’s disgusting” I announce to my child.  Naturally, I say it loud enough for all to hear.  The other mothers, whose children are practically embracing the goats, look at me in disgust, as I have just announced that I am better than they are.  I slink away.
Off to the playground.   While Hank is off running around with his friends, me and George explore the playhouse.  Little Thomas, a preschooler, decides to play too.  Thomas thinks that pushing an 18 month old is FUN!  “Don’t do that,” I say nice and stern to Thomas.  I look around.  His mother cannot be found.  I assume she is off smoking a cigarette somewhere (what else would a woman who is 7 months pregnant be doing?).  Thomas pushes George again and tries to slam the door of the playhouse on him.  I turn into the protective Mama bear.  I yell at Thomas loud enough that his mother looks up from taking another drag with one hand while rubbing her belly with the other.  Thomas runs away.  I smile with satisfaction, hoping that the pregnant slacker smoker will say something ridiculous like “don’t yell at my child!”  She does not.
Hank has now disappeared to the sandbox, where he is pretty much taking up all the room and the smaller children cannot play.  “Come out of there!” I shout.  “Go play in the haystacks with your friends!”  He obeys.  Hank runs to the haystacks, where he, Kyle and Nickolas decide to play king of the hill.  Hank is doing quite well, he even pushes off a 4th grader!  Woo hoo!  Well, Kyle has had enough of losing.  He gives Hank a good old heave.  Hank tumbles over the side…. and promptly screams bloody murder.
Ever the loving mother, I snap at him to stop screaming and calm down.  His cries are more of annoyance than pain, and he is clearly just having a fit.  “Knock it off or we’re leaving” I growl at the child.  A few teachers come over.  “He’s fine,” I let them know.  Well, he won’t quit his complaining, so off we go, NO PUMPKIN FOR YOU!!!!
During the ride home, the wailing really revs up.  “Calm down, Hank” I nag over and over.  Halfway home, I turn to look at him.  He is crying silently, in sheer pain.  “Oh crap” I say.  We wait at home for half an hour for Jim to get home from work, then I get Hank back in the car to travel to the mystical city of Kankakee, to a wonderous place called the ER.  The radiologist calls him in, and there on his wrist, obvious enough for even me to see, is a crack.  The child has broken his wrist.
Out of guilt, he gets McDonald’s.  Out of pity for myself for being the mean mother, I too get McDonald’s.
And that is what a day at the Pumpkin Farm is like for the family.

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Remembering those memories

A friend of mine on the facepage made a suggestion to me and some other gals: Wouldn’t it be fun to post some side-by-side pictures of our kids, then and now, just to really see how much they’ve grown?

Uh, YEAH! I thought to myself. And *joy of joys* Jim just bought a fancy new scanner/printer so I can use all those photos I have on film (since I am a total hag).

BUT WAIT! I might have some pictures of the boy as a baby after all, saved in a file in my e-mail. So I start scouring through the old e-mail folders. And what I discovered is, I was blogging before I was blogging.

Here, a story I wrote and sent to some relatives and friends about the special men in my life, back on February 15, 2005:

After a long two weeks of working several double shifts at the United Center, I finally had Monday off.  And how perfect:  Valentine’s Day!  I decide that because he is such a good man to put up with me and all my “special moods”, I should make Jim a nice dinner.  So, after running a few errands and a quick visit to Grandma’s house, I decide to get started.
First, I put Hank at the table for a late lunch of chicken nuggets, corn and milk, yummy!  Then I pull some frozen whiting out of the refrigerator, planning a delicious meal of broiled lemon-peppered fish, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans. A smile crosses my face as I realize we even have an unopened bottle of wine, hooray!
I turn to check on Hank, still happily eating his lunch.  But he is instead picking his nose.
“Stop that,” I say, in a motherly tone with no profanities at all, of course.
I turn back to my fish, which I realize I still have to scale.  But, that’s ok!  I look again at Hank, his pointer finger wedged far up his right nostril.  “Stop that,” I hear myself say again.  Ahh, these two pieces of fish are perfect.  I better check on him one more time.  This time, pointer finger and thumb wedged into that tiny right nostril.
“That’s it,” I say, walking over to him.  It is then that I notice there is something in his nose.  I lean over, and upon further inspection of my beautiful child, it is not simply a little snot, but several pieces of corn wedged up his nose.
“Mumble, mumble,” I say.  I proceed to push on the sides of his nose, sending kernels of corn shooting out of his nostrils as if they were tiny cannons.  At one point, he sneezes, sending two yellow bullets out of each nostril, landing on my shirt.  After several are ejected, I look into his nose, only to see one piece that is hopelessly lodged deep inside.  He is now crying, coughing and a little bit scared.  So into the car and off to the ER we go.
The ER is completely congested with cases of the flu and a few broken limbs.  “My son shoved corn up his nose,” I say as quietly as possible to the triage nurse.  She makes me repeat myself, louder.  She laughs.  I sulk away to a seat, realizing at this point that I hurried out of the house, and my hands still smell like raw, unscalled fish.  About an hour later, not having been called yet, my angel points to his nose.  I look up, and joy of joys, that kernel has worked its way down, enough for me to squeeze his nose and send the last bit shooting out.  Several people around me laugh.  I consider making the child eat the remaining piece of corn, but, fearing that he will think it tastes good, I wrap it in a tissue instead.  It is at this point, our name is finally called, but we do not need to see the doctor.
Upon our arrival at home, Jim was forced to order and pick up his own pizza.  The wine remained unopened and the fish went back into the freezer.  Valentine’s Day has never been so romantic.
Love, Marney
PS, there was no lesson learned by young Hank, by the way.  Just a few hours after this incident, I caught him trying to shove Cheerios up his nose.  Boys are gross.

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