Tuesday, February 15, 2011

3 More Reasons Old People Are Awesome

My Great-grandma Bea: Purveyor of Pennies and Butter Mints

When I was born, thanks to good genes and short generation gaps, all of my grandparents and a good portion of my great-grandparents were still alive.  Even though I didn’t grow up in the same state as any of my grandparents, I never lacked for opportunities to make memories with the old people in my life--fishing trips, baking for holiday dinners, sleepovers on pull-out couches, and board games at the dining room table.  
My Great-grandma Marge: A Woman Who Described Everything as "Keen" and Had Chin Whiskers
One of my earliest memories is of sitting in the living room arm chair of an old lady who went to our church.  My mom and I visited the elderly members of our church on a regular basis, spending time with them, listening to their stories.  They always gave me little gifts--wrapped hard candies, coins, rose rocks.  I remember falling asleep on my mom’s lap while we sat with one of the old ladies, lulled by the creaking noise coming from the Lazy-boy as it rocked.
My Great-grandpa Joe: Popcorn and Pickle Farmer, Morning Whiskey Drinker
As I got older, I started to appreciate the stories, the time spent with these people who had lived their lives a million years before me.  As an adult, I have grown to understand the treasure I had in being surrounded by men and women who fought in wars, hunted for their dinner, worked on farms, ranches, and in lead mines, grew up in homes with massive numbers of siblings, and saw the inception of things like television and the polio vaccine.
My Great-grandpa Claude: Fisherman, Coffee Drinker, and Perpetual Tinkerer
So, in honor of some of my favorite people, here are some more reasons why old people are awesome.  (If you want to know the original three reasons, READ THIS.)
Reason #1 They Invented Cool
One of my favorite college professors is a woman by the name of Gladys Lewis.  For all I know, Dr. Lewis could be anywhere between 65 and 105 years old.  Her life has certainly been full enough for her to be 150.  Once a missionary nurse with her husband, a doctor, she raised children while on the mission field and eventually returned to the U. S. to become a college professor.  She’s one of the most beautiful, witty, intriguing people I’ve met in my life.
Every year, she sends out a New Year letter, much like what most of us write to put in with our Christmas cards, but hers is...well, it’s so much more than an update on what’s happening in her life.  I anticipate the letter every year, and every year I cry.  Her writing is eloquent, poignant, filled with literary references, and yet sometimes as personal as anything I’ve ever read.  Oh, and she has impeccable grammar skills.
This year, along with the details of the lives of her PPGs (practically perfect grandchildren), she related a story that floored me.  The previous semester she had taught a class on Tolkien.  I was humored and awed at Dr. Lewis’ ability to continue to have a passion for teaching and learning as she told this story:
In the fall semester, my hardy group of Tolkien nerds kept me in the archives to discover material they did not already know.  We ended that study with a day long spree at my house watching all the films of The Lord of the Rings.  During our delving into the Tolkien conan, I divided the class members in various “fellowships” which reflected the characters in the fiction with specific tasks for each.  For example, the “Dwarves” were charged with the History of the Races, Old North Literature and Legends; “Hobbits” with Middle-earth, Maps, Geography, and Geographical Movement; “Wizards” with Good, Magic, Fantasy, Mythology; “Humans,” with Politics, Sociology, Ethics, Morality;...Since gift-giving is such an emphatic signal of Old Norse and Old English cultures, that component was part of our experience.  The Humans gave me plush figures of Frodo and Gandalf, and the Orcs made little styrofoam, painted swords for each of us, according to our races.  As “Gandalfina,” I was given a very long, silver-painted “jewel”-handled sword, the sword of Galadriel.  The one “fellowship” request was for a picture of a student kneeling before me with my posed intention to drive the sword through a person...I knew I had been accepted when my night class invited me to go with them to The Wolf Trap, a local student bar.
I mean, seriously, this woman found a way to make Tolkien fun and got invited to a dive bar by her students.  Definition of cool.
Reason #2: Thoughtfulness
In my last post about why old people are awesome, I mentioned Aunt Lucille.  She is Scott’s great-aunt who sends us hand-written letters in all of our birthday cards.  As noted in the last post, Aunt Lucille bought be a subscription to a magazine called “Birds & Blooms” for my thirtieth birthday.  I want to reiterate the fact that I’ve never met this woman, and the fact that she thought about me enough to send me a birthday gift is fascinating.  Really.  I have officially received two issues--and I gotta tell you--it’s actually an interesting read.  Don’t be surprised next year when you all get decorative homemade pine cone Christmas centerpieces and memberships to the Audubon Society from me for Christmas next year!
Reason #3: Don’t Be Fooled by the Gray Hair--There’s a Very Young Mind Under There!
A few weeks ago we were at church for a Wonderful Wednesday dinner (our church really knows how to do the whole “fellowship” thing).  We don’t always attend WW, but it was taco night, and well, I’ll do just about anything for a good taco.  So, we were eating our tacos and discussing the Golden Globes which had aired the Sunday night prior.  I had written a play-by-play of the event for my blog, and one of my friends was laughing about some of my comments.  
An older couple who just started attending our church last year asked if they could sit with us.  I had the honor of serving on a committee with this couple and have had several pleasant conversations in passing with them.  They moved to Charleston to be closer to their grandchildren.  Very sweet people.  Their last name happens to be Flowers.  Sweet.
My friend, Janie, and I continued our conversation about the GGs, and she said, “You were spot on about Angelina Jolie’s dress.  That was awful!”  Without skipping a beat, Mr. Flowers chimed in, “Honey, that woman could wear the curtains and still look like a million dollars!”
Right on, Mr. Flowers.  Right on.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Obligatory Valentine's Day Post/Movie Reviews!

Unless you live under a rock and/or have never been to my blog before, you know that my husband isn’t around for awhile.  I gave up caring about whether he was here for holidays or other important occasions a long time ago, so his missing Valentine’s Day was a big, fat WHATEVER.  
I feel pretty ambivalent toward the holiday in general, and it’s been really interesting to watch Facebook all day to see how other people feel about it.  Here are some sample status messages from my friends (verbatim, except in instances where I changed names--all misspellings and grammar errors should be attributed to original author):
  • Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone except homophobes, misogynists, racists, sociopaths, pedophiles and the like as you suck, so while others may blanketly wish happiness upon you, I do not.
  • Bought myself Tulips, I loved them by the way (How did I know they were my favorite?). Dad (and the kids) got me a bear, balloon and chocolate, B brought Reese's.... All in all a great Valentines Day. :-)
  • To all my single lades all my single ladies,all my single ladies, all my single ladies,... "How You 'Doin?" (wink).
  • Got flowers at work for the first time.
  • I’m so grateful to have a wonderful husband that loves me and spoils me all day, every day.
  • Cupid brought me a valentine...his name is pneumonia. Fail.
  • ‎"A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short" Andre Maurois
  • BLAAAAAAAAAAAH 
  • [My] dog brought in what can only be described as an inside-out animal of somekind. It's the weirdest creature-thing/valentine I've ever seen.
  • Okay so people are really hating on V-Day! If you don't like it for whatever reason then don't comment on it. Those of us who are enjoying the day can do without the negativity.
  • how does one give up on someone that your mind knows will not work, but your heart hasn't figured it out yet.
  • Happy overly commercialized Hallmark holiday! Anybody want to work for me? Anyone? Bueller?
  • I know it's V-day and people are changing their profile pics to their significant other blah blah blah but I just want to make it clear that I am NOT in a 3-way relationship with G and M...BUT this month is out 2-year friend anniversary so I guess that's something to celebrate!!! Eeeeeeeee!!!
  • hearts and flowers and singing cards and shit.
  • already getting after the chocolate. the day is young- lots more to tackle :)
  • As we think of the ones we love remember love shouldn't hurt. Every 15 seconds a women is being abused by a loved one and evey 38 seconds a man is. Weather it's physical or emotional LOVE SHOULD NOT HURT!
  • wishing cupid was a little house cleaner that deep cleaned my bathroom, folded all my laundry AND put it away, and went to the grocery store for me today. just sayin;)
  • Is valentines day over yet?
  • Valentines Day is not romantic. Im at work. Whats sexy about that? Just sayin.
  • I'm missing my Valentine today
  • Love is more than three words mumbled before bedtime. Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day. Nicholas Sparks
I’m not endorsing any of the statements as my own feelings.  Just thought the variety was interesting.  I just think it’s more of a kids holiday and would actually be kind of pissed if all of a sudden my husband turned into a romantic idiot after not having done anything romantic all year so far.  Just saying.  
In fact, I spent the day at the gynecologist’s office (accompanied by both of my children because Will was home from school sick).  So, super special.
Anyway, I felt like I needed to write an obligatory Valentine’s Day post, but I’ve actually been anti-motivated to write the last few days.  Just feeling really blah.  I decided the best way to write about love on this love-filled day was to make a few movie recommendations.  It makes just as much sense as anything, right?
To be clear, I am NOT recommending this movie.  Keep reading for the actual recommendations.
So, I’ve mentioned before that one of the pros of having an absent husband is that I get to load up my Netflix queue with romantic comedies.  Now, I will watch just about any shallow J. Lo movie in which she’s a bumbling, fumbling aw-shucks kind of girl who has been unlucky in love (despite the fact that she has a quirky, fun job, is obviously one of the mostgorgeouswomentowalkthefaceoftheearth, loves old people, and has a genuine heart of gold).  Mindless, fun, and hopelessly romantic?  Sure, why not?  
But there are some movies out there--some that might even be considered “romantic comedies” that are genuinely worth watching for real.  Not just for the mindlessness, but for the entertainment because they are really, really good.
So, here are my favorite movie love stories in no particular order.  I have watched all of these movies more times than is healthy probably, sometimes with multiple viewings in a single day.  And don’t worry--these are spoiler-free because there’s nothing I hate more than when someone tells me too much about a movie after recommending I see it:
Philadelphia Story: I am officially in love with both Carey Grant and Jimmy Stewart, and if they were still alive, they’d both make my freebie five.  And Katharine Hepburn?  Don’t even get me started.  She’s my absolute hero.  So, when you tell me I can get all three in one sitting--SOLD!  I remember watching this when I was about five years old and thinking I wanted to be just like Tracy Lord.  Of course, as an adult, I watch Hepburn’s neurotic, stubborn character and think...Oh, God!  I AM Tracy Lord!  And for heaven’s sake, Carey Grant’s character is named C. K. Dexter Haven.  (If I had another dog, this would be his name.)  Without giving too much away, there are a lot of men in Tracy Lord’s life (wait...I just compared myself to her...oops), which makes for some pretty splendid 1940s witty banter.  Here are just a couple of really great examples of best ever dialogue:
George Kittredge: You’re like some marvelous, distant, well...queen, I guess.  You’re so cool and fine and always so much your own.  There’s a kind of beautiful purity about you, Tracy, like, like a statue.
Tracy Lord: George...
George Kittredge: Oh, it’s grand, Tracy.  It’s what everybody feels about you.  It’s what I first worshipped you for from afar.
Tracy Lord: I don’t want to be worshipped.  I want to be loved.
Macaulay Connor: A magnificence that comes out of your eyes, in your voice, in the way you stand there, in the way you walk.  You’re lit from within, Tracy.  You’ve got fires banked down in you, hearth-fires and holocausts.
Tracy Lord: I don’t seem to you made of bronze?
Macaulay Connor: No, you’re made out of flesh and blood.  That’s the blank, unholy surprise of it.  You’re the golden girl, Tracy.  Full of life and warmth and delight.  What goes on?  You’ve got tears in your eyes?
Tracy Lord: Shut up, shut up!  Oh, Mike.  Keep talking, keep talking.  Talk, will you?
That, right there, people is PURE ROMANCE in the awfulest way.  SWOONABLE romance--the kind with all the anticipation without gratification that’s missing in movies today.
Once: This movie was billed as a modern-day musical, which is maybe why virtually no one I know saw it, but whatever it is, it’s effing spectacular.  The best part is that the soundtrack is PHENOMENAL, so even if you can’t sit down and watch it every day, you can ride around in the car pretending you’re watching it by listening to the soundtrack.  In my alternate universe/bizarro world, this love story is what my life would look like--complete with piano skills and living in Dublin.
High Fidelity: This is one of a handful of movies adapted from books that succeed.  Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity (and any other book by Nick Hornby really) changed my life as a writer.  He’s a genius.  And this movie?  Well, it’s pretty genius, too.  I am simultaneously sad and glad that I never dated John Cusack’s character, Rob Gordon.  I thought about quoting this movie, but I thought inserting the entire script would make this post too long.  Iconic--all of it.
Conversations with Other Women: First of all, I love Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter, so I went into this movie expecting to be blown away, but I HAD NO IDEA.  It walks the fine line of art house cinema, but I don’t really care about the cinematography.  This is a real love story about real people--not really, but it totally could be.  It’s happy and tragic and uncomfortable and comfortable all at the same time.  And it has resolution without a necessarily happy ending, which is the best way for a movie to end in my opinion.  Most Americans (the fat, pink, boisterous kind) will hate it.
Away We Go:  This one got a lot of mixed reviews, but I freaking loved it.  It’s one of the most honest portrayals of what it’s like to be thirty-something and navigating parenthood/marriage/etc.  I mean, sure, some of the characters are over-the-top quirky on some level, but anyone who is real with himself will admit that real life people really are super weird.  John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are two of my personal faves, anyway, but they shine in their roles as Burt and Verona.  Add Maggie Gyllenhaal in a role where she’s weird but (finally!) not tragic, and you’ve got perfection in my books.
500 Days of Summer:  I feel like nothing I write will sufficiently explain how good this movie is.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel will break your heart in both good and bad ways at every turn.  I still cry when it gets to the part with the split screen.  Just watch it.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  Unless you’re stupid.
When it comes to love, I am a romantic realist.  I believe in obsession and lust and passion and all that good stuff that comes in the beginning, but when it comes down to it, I like a man who pays attention to the details and can remain steady without being stale.  Love should be easy without being simple, and I want no part of a love that doesn’t purposefully challenge me.  I don’t want a fairytale or glamour.  I want grit.  I want sweat.  I want to run headlong toward the one I love with our eyes shut tight and come to a grinding halt right before we bloody each other’s noses.  And I want to kiss.  A lot.  And then go furniture shopping.  These movies are, in my mind at least, about that kind of love.
Happy Valentine’s Day, all!  And happy movie watching!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Farewell, Friday Night Lights!


This week included a public poop incident from my five-year-old, puking via Lego gag from my two-year-old, and an all-house chocolate-induced vomit-fest from my dog.  Not awesome.  I did a lot of watching TV because after all of the eventful days we had, all I wanted to do was let my brain fry.  
The Bachelor was boring--the highlight was when at the rose ceremony, Brad kept using the Bill Clinton “I did not have sex with that woman” fist...you know, the closed fist with the thumb sticking out.  Very weird.  American Idol wrapped up auditions and began Hollywood week.  Nothing all that shocking musically, but Steven Tyler wore a hot pink leopard-print see-through shirt which was highly disturbing.  The sitcoms were funny.  The dramas were...er...dramatic.  OH!  Mr. Sunshine premiered--and I was reminded how much I missed Matthew Perry.  Anyway, blah blah blah blah...
The only thing I ACTUALLY want to talk about is how I’m mourning the loss of one of the greatest shows to ever air on television.  If you do not watch Friday Night Lights, do yourself a favor and start with Season 1 Episode 1 and watch it straight through if you can.  It's seriously one of the best shows ever written, beautifully and artfully directed.  And it's not about the football, but it doesn't hurt that there's football in every episode.  This week, the series finale aired on Directv’s 101 (it will air again on NBC later, and I will probably watch the whole season again...after watching the first four seasons again on Netflix).
The episode opened and closed with the faces of FNL with a voiceover of Coach Taylor praying.  Here were his opening words:
“Give all of us gathered here tonight the strength to remember that life is so very fragile.  We are all vulnerable, and we will all at some point in our lives fall.  We will all fall.  We must carry this in our hearts--that what we have is special, that it can be taken from us, and that when it is taken from us, we will be tested.  We will be tested to our very souls.  We will all now be tested.  It is these times.  It is this pain--that allows us to look inside ourselves.”
I was not disappointed.  The writers did as well as they could in a situation where they had to wrap up a million story lines in one hour without it seeming completely ridiculous.  
In classic FNL style, the last show centered on the relationships--marriages, mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, fathers, and sons, boyfriends and girlfriends.  There were a lot of I love yous thrown around, but all of them made perfect sense.  I may be super old, but my memories of high school are filed at the front of my mind.  The TV world too often portrays high school inaccurately with shows like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars pulling in the highest ratings from the high school crowd.  The first reason I love and will miss this show is because I lived out the dramatic/crazy teenage relationships portrayed, the kind of relationships that in hindsight provided so many lessons and were no less legitimate or valid just because of my age.  FNL gets this SO right.
The great thing, though, is that I’m not watching this show as a high school student.  I’m a 30-year-old wife and mother, and just as much as I connect with the teenage boys and girls, there were times especially in this episode that I was watching the TV version of my life unfold on screen in the beautiful form of Connie Britton’s Tami Taylor.  My heart literally hurt for her (stop it!  I don’t need anyone to tell me the show isn’t real) and rejoiced with her as she watched her husband struggle to make the right decisions for their family.  Pins and needles, people.  Pins and needles.
Part of me wants a spin-off because I’m just so sad that these people (mainly Tim Riggins) aren’t going to be in my life anymore, but I know--I really do know--that this show ended EXACTLY the way it needed to--on a high note, full of hope already injected with nostalgia.  Tim Riggins said it best--Texas forever!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Don't Be Scared, I've Done This Before (Lady Gaga)

Is anyone else equally disturbed by the "healthy teeth" picture?  Is that first picture a corpse?


When I was little, I think I had cavities in every single one of my teeth.  Oddly enough, I loved going to the dentist--probably because my first dentist, Dr. Allen, had me mesmerized by his ability to talk to the goats in my ears.  (Or were they elephants?)
I have loved all of my dentists with the exception of two:
  1. Dr. McCreepy who commented over and over about how my mouth creates excessive amounts of saliva, and 
  2. Dr. McHack who capped two of my teeth TWICE, after which all four caps broke in my mouth while I was still in the chair, followed a week later by one of the fillings he replaced falling out while I sat on a plane in NYC bound for Ghana.
I find going to the dentist to be a relaxing experience, and not just because it’s one place I KNOW I won’t be disturbed by my children.  More recently, I have had THE BEST dentist here in Summerville, Dr. Beavers.  
He had me at the catchy slogan.
And then again when I saw what he does in his free time.
If you live anywhere close to him, drop everything you’re doing and pay him and his wonderful staff a visit.  You won’t regret it.
Despite my cavity issues, I promise I have excellent mouth hygiene.  You might even call it obsessive.  I keep floss in the door of my car, so I can floss as soon as I’m done eating at a restaurant.  I also keep it in every purse I own, in the nightstand next to my bed, and in the junk drawer in the kitchen.  You never know when you might need to floss.  Immediately. 
In my opinion, the best invention from the last fifty years is the electric toothbrush.  I love how clean my teeth feel and that it has a timer to let me know when I’ve been brushing for a full two minutes.  On a couple of occasions, I’ve either forgotten to pack it or left it out to conserve space on trips.  WORST MISTAKE EVER.  I am always elated to be reunited with my ET when I return home.
So, this Christmas, when I opened a present from my mom, I knew at once that I was absolutely her favorite child.  Here’s what it was:
You might be saying, what IS that?  Well, it’s the second best invention ever.  Now, I can use the waterpik to floss my teeth in the shower.  It took me five minutes to install, and I was ready to water floss!  The instructions said to slowly turn it on because different showers offer different water pressure and to always use warm water.  
Now, at the risk of sharing too much information (uh...I think I’ve already crossed that line in this post), I like a hot, hot, hot, hot shower.  The more water pressure, the better.  When I exit the shower, I want my entire body to be bright red.  I HATE when I visit someone’s house or stay in a hotel and the water pressure is low or even mediocre.  So, I figured it can only be the same with the waterpik.  Bring on the hot, tooth-pounding spray!
Wrong.
During my first use, I turned the knob, and the six-foot waterpik hose started flailing like a living, moving organism.  It was like a scene out of that really bad J. Lo and Ice Cube movie, Anaconda.  Within seconds, the entire ceiling was dripping, and stupidly, I tried to control it by grabbing it and shot myself in the eye with scalding water.  Covering my eye with one hand, I reached up to turn the knob back and lost my balance, hitting my head on the wall.  Dizzy, half-blind, and pissed, I got it turned off and decided to have a seat.
After a few seconds, I started blinking and was relieved to find that I could still see out of my left eye.  My excitement was not dampened by the trauma, and I decided to try again.  This time, I turned it on just a TEENSY bit, while holding the head of the waterpik down so the spray hit the floor instead of the ceiling.  Lesson learned.
Now that I know how to use it, it’s the highlight of my day.  Okay, maybe not, but it is REALLY FREAKING COOL. I know you're all going to run out and buy an oral irrigator.  
And now, this incredibly weird post is over.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm Sorry! I'm Working on It!

Last night, as often happens when I’m watching TV, I had Facebook pulled up on my computer and was browsing pictures of friends.  One of my friends had been tagged by someone I wasn’t friends with, and suddenly I was scrolling through an entire album of people I don’t know to see the three pictures of my friend (I don’t know why I do this, but I know I’m not the only one.)
So, as I scrolled through pictures of some random person’s birthday party, I noticed a really disturbing comment on one of the pictures.  The picture showed two girls, dressed in the latest sparkly trends with a little too much make-up for my taste.  They were clearly at a bar, locked in an awkward embrace (one that says, “We’ve had one too many and think we’re really sexy!”)  This is the same picture I see allthefreakingtime on Facebook--girls smiling sultry-ish drunk smiles, while pushing their boobs as far out as they can.  My favorite is when these girls choose to use these (not actually) sexy pictures as their profile pictures--like look at me!  I’m having more fun than you!  In a cuter outfit than yours!  And I’m SUPER into myself!
I digress.  This post was about a FB comment.
So, in this particular two-girl poser picture, there was a blonde (the one who had posted the picture) and a brunette (the one who made the disturbing comment).  Brunette posted, “C----- you are so pretty!! I like this pic minus my gut lol”
This is where I wish I could post the picture just so you could see how incredibly ridiculous this comment was.  Brunette was all of 100 pounds.  Her arms were what can only be described as spindly.  Her face was slightly on the gaunt side (made less severe by her tanning bed tan).  And this “gut” she was talking about?  Yeah, I couldn’t tell if it was a wrinkle in her shirt or simply her skin.  What it was NOT was a gut.  Blonde commented back, “You're crazy!!!  I wish I had your 'gut' then lol”  I’m glad she didn’t let it go.
Later while I was in bed (not sleeping), I kept thinking about this stupid picture.  I started getting sad and angry.  How did these girls get like this?  I mean, we KNOW how this happens--they watch movies and read magazines that give them an unrealistic ideal to live up to.  They aren’t told by their parents or anyone else who loves them that beautiful can be something other than skinny.  Or if they are, they don’t listen.  They have mommy issues, daddy issues, self-esteem issues.  Issues, issues, issues--and plenty of reasons for those issues.
I like to think of myself as part of the solution.  I believe I’m well-adjusted, healthy--that I possess high self-esteem--whatever you want to call it.  Sure there are things I would change about my appearance if I could, but I’m not obsessed.  Like--I’d like to be a couple inches taller--not model tall, but tall enough to not be mistaken for a child.  I have a chip in my left front tooth from biting a staple (stupid stupid stupid), but I have never been able to justify spending $500 to fix something that someone would have to be way too close for comfort to even notice.  
There are other things that I don’t really mind that much but that other people have told me I should mind.  I have wrinkles around my thirty-year-old eyes and mouth and freckles in the summertime.  Lots of people tell me I should “fix” these things.  But you know what those lines are called?  Laugh lines.  And smile lines.  Aging is a part of life, and I’m okay with it.
I try to spread these thoughts among my friends.  You know, part of the solution.
And that is why aside from being appalled by this comment and then stewing about how angry it makes me when women beat themselves up like this, I felt like the worst person ever.  Like I’m probably going to hell.  Because you know what my first thought was after reading the comment?  It wasn’t any of this I-wish-that-girl-would-learn-to-love-herself stuff that I’ve just been writing about.  It was this: What gut?  What she OUGHT to be worried about is her ugly face.
Really kind.  
Very enlightened.
And the more I think about it, the more awful I feel because why on earth do I think those things?  I am just like all the critical mothers and bad boyfriends that have been in this girl’s life.  
I am not part of the solution.
I am the problem.
So, I’ve decided to challenge myself to think nice thoughts.  Every time I think a nasty, mean thought about someone, I’m putting a dollar in the pot.  And when the pot reaches ten dollars, I have to take my kids to McDonald’s.  Because if anything can motivate me to not do something, it’s eating deep fried crap from McDogfood.
Wish me luck!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Not Just a Poop Story

I know people who don’t have children get really tired of hearing people who do have children talk about their kids’ poop.  I get that.  Totally makes sense, but here’s the deal.    You have no idea how much your life revolves around poop for several years once you have children.  Literally from the moment they take their first breaths, you become concerned about the frequency and type of poop your children have.  (If you don’t know what meconium is, wait until you are about to have a baby to google it.)
Every proud parent can tell you at least one story that involves one or more of the following:
    1. Ruined Christening/Christmas/Easter outfits
    2. Changing the sheets on a bassinet/crib/bed multiple times in one night
    3. Poop in a carseat
    4. Ten days without poop, resulting in the use of baby enemas
    5. Realizing the problem too late because poop has escaped UP a shirt, spilling out a baby’s collar
    6. Bathtub poop
And for some reason, we all LOVE to tell these stories to anyone who will listen, despite the fact that common sense says this is NOT appropriate.  No way, no how.
I’m at the stage now where poop is less of an issue because my children are five and two.  Poop just doesn’t affect my life all that often anymore.  So...
Ben and I picked up Will from school and headed to karate just like we do every Monday.  There’s a Carvel next door to the karate studio, so it’s become a tradition that we grab an ice cream and soft pretzel to share before heading to Will’s class.  As Will slurped down his melting hot pink birthday cake ice cream, a look of panic crossed his face.  I knew the look.
“Mom, I need to go to the bathroom.  Right now.  I feel sick.”
I hopped up and scooted him toward the door, as he waddled across the restaurant.  He pushed my hands away and said, “I want to go by myself.”
When he came back out, I asked, “Everything okay?”
He acted like everything was fine, skipping even to throw his empty ice cream cup away, and we headed next door to karate.  We headed toward the bathroom, so Will could change into his uniform, and when he dropped his school pants, I threw up in my mouth.
EVERYTHING.  WAS.  NOT.  FINE.
“Holy shit.”  It came out before I could stop it, and I covered my mouth and nose to stop from vomiting.  Through a small opening in my fingers, I said, “Buddy, what happened?”
“Oh, I had diarrhea before I got to the toilet!”  He said this in the same way he would have said, “I like superheroes!”
I stripped him down and threw away his underwear (silencing his protests of “my Batman underwear!” with fire in my eyes and a quick, “We’ll buy more!”), then wrapped his pants in a trash bag I found under the sink.  Will recovered well from the loss of his beloved undies with a “Welp, I guess I’m goin’ commando!”
We hurried out of the bathroom, and I tied his belt on, turning him toward me.  “Will, if you start to feel sick again, get off the floor IMMEDIATELY.  Go straight to the bathroom.  Don’t ask.  Just go.”
Will, doe-eyed and mouth gaping, whispered, “Okay, I promise.”  I wish I could say I was being a good mom and wanting to save my child the embarrassment of a public poo incident, but really, I was just thinking I already have to depoop one pair of pants tonight--I do not want to have to depoop white karate pants, too!

We made it through the class and got in the car to leave.  Three minutes down the road, we were sitting at a red light, when I glanced in the rearview mirror to see a red-faced Will, eyes bulging in desperation.  I said, “Buddy, are you okay?  Do I need to pull over?”
“YES!  It’s happening again!”
“Okayokayokayokayokayokay!!!”  Cursing the red light, I scanned the road for a place to stop and landed on a CVS.  I forgot to mention that I was driving in a torrential downpour.  Nothing to do with poop, but it did make our mad dash to the store (Ben flailing off my hip, and Will trying his best to not fall down in his flip-flops) even more fun.  Because you know what’s better than poopy karate pants?  Poopy, rain-soaked karate pants.
We found the bathroom, and Will continued to explode.  And I actually threw up in the trash can.  Ben stood at the Xcelerator, waving his hands under the air (which was good because he was soaking wet from the rain) and laughing hysterically.  Thank God.
Realizing Will now had no pants, I told him to stay where he was while I went to find him some underwear and shorts in the store.  Praying that no one needed to use the bathroom while my poor, poopy five-year-old sat pantsless on the pot by himself, I scanned all the shelves as fast as I could, dragging Ben behind me.  “Look for undies!  Look for undies!”
The manager (probably in an effort to make sure I wasn’t a crazed meth addict looking to score some pseudo) stopped me and asked if he could help me.  This is when I learned that CVS does not sell:
    1. Children’s underwear
    2. Women’s underwear
    3. Men’s underwear
    4. Children’s shorts
    5. Children’s pants
    6. Children’s leggings (yes, I asked--I would have just told Will they were superhero pants if he asked why I was making him wear girl pants)
PULL-UPS!  I ran to the diaper aisle and grabbed a package of pull-ups and ran back to the bathroom to make sure no one had kidnapped my poor, poopy son that I’d left in the bathroom by himself.  There he was, still sitting by himself.  When I opened the door, he said, “Mom, I’m still pooping.  It’s like a tornado in the toilet.”
Awesome.
I realized (after looking up at a “No Merchandise Past This Point” sign as I burst through the bathroom door) that I was definitely going to need to go back out to the car to get my wallet to pay for my ripped open bag of pull-ups.  I told Will to stay and ran with Ben back to the car to get my wallet, praying again that none of the employees would make their hourly rounds to clean the bathroom and turn me into child services for abandoning my poor, poopy five-year-old.
When I got back to the bathroom, I placed Ben back under the Xcelerator, and helped Will get cleaned up.  Let me tell you now that I am really, really, really grateful that Will in this instance decided to be easy-going (I sometimes call him Contrary Mary for his ability to make every situation more difficult than it needs to be .)
Will, my beautiful boy, had to walk out of the CVS bathroom in a bright green karate t-shirt, a pull-up, and a pair of flip-flops (which were about two sizes too small but had been forced on his feet by his mother because they were the only ones in his karate bag and she didn’t want to waste time tying his school shoes).  And he didn’t complain at all.
As we walked toward the counter, I was struck with the realization that because of this CVS encounter, we were now set back time-wise to set us up for Charleston traffic failure.  We would probably be in the car on the way home somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half, right through dinnertime.  So, I marched my diapered, pantsless five-year-old and half-way blown-dry 2-year-old to the snack aisle and let them pick out dinner.  And I also said yes when they asked if they could buy some more silly bands because really--what’s the purpose of saying no at that point?
Armed with my open bag of pull-ups, two one-serving bowls of Fruit Loops, and a package of peanut butter crackers (oh, and a pair of poopy karate pants), we approached the register to pay.  I know the woman really wanted to ask what the hell was going on, but I averted my eyes.  She was gracious enough to not press.  Before she’d finished ringing me up, I said to Will, “Grab those ring pops!”  My children have been raised in the south, and no meal is complete without “somethin’ sweet” even if that meal is Fruit Loops and peanut butter crackers.
As we dashed back through the rain to the car, both boys held on to the edges of my jacket (as they have been instructed to do in parking lots), laughing the whole way.  As I got them buckled in, getting drenched the whole time, Will yelled, “Mom, that store was awesome!”
Right.
We eventually made it home (in one hour and twenty minutes), got cleaned up and jammied, and read bedtime stories.  I put Ben to bed.  I put Will to bed.  And I sat down to write.  When I’m finished posting this, I’m going to go soak two pairs of pants while I watch The Bachelor and drink wine.  
Yes, it’s completely brain-numbing and worthless, but I think you’ll agree, friends, that tonight is not the night to judge me.