Category Archives: Parenting

Monday, Monday

Over the past several months I made the smooth transition from over achieving IT person to overachieving mom.   I knew I had hit my quota (in Luke’s eyes) as a field trip chaperone (stories for other times), but when I heard the 7th graders were going to see “He Named Me Malala”…well, I wanted to go.  I asked if it was OK and Luke shrugged.  I know that was a subtle way of saying “no thank you”, but I took it to me, “sure, chaperone another trip, Mother!”  So I checked the box and never heard another word.

As the movie day approached I thought, “Maybe they don’t need me?  Or maybe Luke unchecked thebox himself?  I guess I should show up, because what if they are counting on me?  But what if they don’t need me?  What to do?”

In the end I decided I would rather be the weirdo who wasn’t supposed to be there, than the horrible person who didn’t show up when she was being counted on to keep track of 9 kids.  But what time?  And where?

I just went into the school at the beginning of the day and explained my situation.  “Hi, i signed up to chaperone the trip to the movie, but then I never heard anything so I don’t know if they need me or what….”  They said I could stay for the all school assembly or come back in an hour when they were supposed to leave for the movie.  I chose to go home and put dinner in the crock pot.

An hour later I showed up again in the office and said my spiel.  They still weren’t sure what was going on, and they sent me over to where the 7th graders were gathered.  I asked a couple people if they had heard back afer they volunteered and they said yes, they had to fill out a bunch of paperwork.  But, as a frequent volunteer I had already done that.   So now what?  I kept making polite conversation with people until I ran into someone who had the list of volunteers, instructions, and she was waiting on the check for the tickets.  That combination of info would lead a normal person to assume that I was talking to a teacher, but, well.  I told her my story and she showed me the list of chaperones.  I was not on the list.  But then I made it weirder and more awkward.

I thought she looked familar so I said, “Did you chaperone the trip to the art museum?” She said no.  I said, “Oh, you remind me a little of a mom I met on that field trip.”  And she said, “OH!  I’m not a mom! I’m a teacher!”  And I thought, “DUH”  I said, “Oh, what do you teach?”  And she said she’s a math teacher.  And then, instead of slowly fading into a locker I said, “OH!  That’s why you look familiar! You’re Luke’s math teacher!”  (Parents of younger kids, FYI it’s totally normal not to know what your middle school kid’s teachers look like.  Especially if you go to a wedding instead of conferences.  BUT I did go to parents night, so that’s why I had a vague idea of what Luke’s math teacher looked like.)  She said Luke had the best handwriting.  

Then I decided enough was enough, I embarrassed myself in front of Luke’s teacher and I was like some sort of chaperone groupie trying to get on the bus.  So I told anyone who was listening that I was going to leave since they didn’t need me.  I stopped in the office to tell them too, and they said, “Oh no!  Stay!  We just bought you a ticket, the more the merrier!!!!”  

Then I had to go back to the people I had just left and say, “actually… I am going.”

But I didn’t have to face my fear of not having a list of kids to watch, because no one was in charge of anyone, and there wasn’t even enough room on the bus.  Fortunately for my extra-chaperone-anxiety they were more than one seat short.  Another mom offered to driver herself and I said “Take me with you!” and we fled.

I did have to put my shushing skills to work because we were in the lobby for a loooong time.  And why was that? Because the movie was corrupted.  Instead of seeing “He Called Me Malala” we saw “The Good Dinosaur.”

I had actually spent 10 minutes complaining to Dave about a podcast that devoted 15 minutes to discussing how bad The Good Dinosaur was. Why talk for 15 minutes about a movie the podcast didn’t recommend?  ANd I wasn’t ever going to see it, the kids hadn’t even mentioned it.  Little did I know I would sacrifice my dignity and half a day to see The Good Dinosaur.  I will say that it was better than I thought it was going to be.

Scream and Shout and Let it All Out

When we were camping last week, a little camper was being a little too rambunctious after 10:00 pm.  We said, “Jack, quiet hours started at 10:00, you need to be quiet.”

And he said, with a frowny face, “But I want to scream, and shout, and let it all out.

That gave me a frowny face, because I knew he was referencing a song, but I had to resort to googling the lyrics to jog my memory.

Breaking news:  Sky is blue, I am old, Jack is too pop culturally aware for a 5 year old.

Hey. Cool. Easy. Sweet.

Jack and I were hiking last week and he kindly offered to tutor me in the art of coolness.

Jack:  Mama, do you want me to teach you how to be cool?  Because I am cool, and I could show you how to be cool.

Me: Is that something you can teach someone? It seems to me that you are cool or you’re not, and it’s not something that can be taught.

Jack: AAAAAHHH! Help me!  My helmet is caught in a tree branch.

Me: Stop, I’ll pull you free.

…and scene…

Why was he wearing a helmet?  No reason.

I never did get that lesson though.

Stone Code Killer

One day, for 10 minutes, my job seemed dangerous, scary, and fascinating to my kids.

I was a dry, hot summer night.  The only respite from the heat was the cooler air in the basement.  Luke was lying on top of his covers reading, and Jack and I were snuggling (the kind of snuggling where you try not to touch too much, if at all), and reading a bed time story.   My phone rang, interrupting Magic by the Lake, and I answered it.

It was a co-worker in India and he said, “HI Megan.  We are working on blah blah blah customer’s ticket and you requested that the database be taken out of archive log mode, and the backups turned off.  But the backup is currently running.  Should we wait, or…”

I handled it. Then I hung up and looked at four wide eyes staring at me.  Because what the kids had heard was:

“This is Megan.  Kill it.  Just go ahead and Kill it.   Thanks, goodbye.”

I had to admit I enjoyed the stares.  I was intriguing.  Maybe dangerous.  Maybe what I do is illegal.  Maybe immoral.

Then explained was telling someone that it was OK to kill the backup.  It’s like pulling the plug out from the light instead of turning it off.  Kill the lights!  It’s like turning the wii console power off in the middle of a level instead of saving your progress, exiting the game, and then turning the power off with the remote.   Or it’s like… oh nevermind, my job is back to being boring again and I just put everyone to sleep.

It was fun while it lasted.

Baseball Mom

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In case you haven’t seen me in the last week, I should tell you that I wore the same Little League T-shirt three nights in a row to baseball games.  (I even washed it between games.)  And I painted my nails in team colors.  It’s true, I have fully embraced my role in life as a baseball mom.  It’s easy when the team colors are flattering, and the fancy nails worked for the 4th of July as well as the tournament.  And by “fully embraced” I mean, “played the part of” because when I saw a bunch of random moms who were at the tournament because… well I am not sure why they were there if their kids weren’t playing.  I guess they love baseball or something?  Well, I can’t imagine being one of those moms.    Or maybe I can, and I am still in transition.  I have the laundry down, and the snacks, and the supplies for the posse of little siblings.

But today was a sad day because the tournament ended for us yesterday.  It’s sad because now I have to wash the car, and remove my nail polish or else look like a weirdo around town.  I had planned to do that this morning, but poor Jack didn’t get to participate in painting the car, so I had to let him add some flames to a window today.  Now I am not sure when I can wash the car.  And I am pretty lazy, but I did already try removing the paint by just rolling the windows down and that didn’t work.  So I guess we’ll have to put some elbow grease into it.  This job seems like the perfect job to outsource to the children, but that may be too depressing for our young athlete.

But how about that Thunderbird?  Impressive or what?

My Little Buttercup (has the sweetest smile)

Last night when Jack was getting in the car, I said, “Buckle up, Buttercup” because I find that to be a delightful thing to say.  What I mean is, “GAH!  Every time we get in the car, you need to buckle your seat belt, please don’t make me say it every time.  Just do it when you get in the car for the love of God.”

Me: Buckle up, Buttercup!

Jack:  Mama, didn’t you say that Buttercup was a name you should never call anyone?

Me.  No…

Jack:  Yeah, you did.

Me:  No, why would I say that?  I think it’s a sweet name, and I could sing you a whole song about it.  If your aunt and uncle were here we could do a choreographed song and dance routine.

Jack:  Maybe the bad word was Butterhead.

Me: Ummm, yeah, don’t say that.

Jack:  Yeah, that’s it, it definitely had “cup” in it.

Me: ?

Panic Attack Parenting

I’ve been reading a lot of parenting articles on Facebook lately, and they are freaking me out.  The first was about how kids aren’t getting enough time to be free and unstructured, but you don’t need to read it, I just summarized the entire article.  I kind of agonized over this for days.  Oddly, I was mostly worrying about Luke, who has about 10 hours of baseball a week, and nothing else going on.  My full time daycare child is in a great place and I know he has plenty of time to use his imagination and play kick the can or whatever else people did in the article’s Utopian world.  The real question I had from that article was, “Am I Supposed to Quit My Job So My Children Can Have Unstructured Play Time?”  Because I don’t see how it’s possible to come straight home from school, make yourself a snack and play some pickup baseball with the kids on your street when both parents work.  Why did I get irate about this article, when Dave and I both work from home, and Luke comes home from school and plays baseball in the street all the time?   I’m not sure. Because I am crazy?

The next article to freak me out was about American Kids being spoiled.   Again, I was filled with “I’m-doing-it-wrong-malaise.”  But the thing that bugged me about that article was that no solutions were offered.  In retrospect, the title was “Why Are American Kids so Spoiled” not “How to stop spoiling your kids.”  In summary, kids are spoiled because their parents spoil them.  It was a really groundbreaking article.  Sorry I spoiled it for you.

So, all this has lead to a great deal of self-analysis, and as I pondered my parental failings, I remembered that back in the day, I used to ridicule parenting articles.   What, pray tell is the difference between then and now?  Have I lost my mojo? Is losing your mojo too 1999?  What happens now?  I lost my swagger?  That sounds like it needs air quotes.  Did I “lose” my “swagger”?  OMG, I really have turned 39.5 haven’t I?  It’s all over.  Forget I ever said swagger.  I am having a midlife crisis and I lost my mojo.  I think it’s much better that we all agree that the problem is a midlife crisis.  Because what else could possibly have happened in the last 4 years to cause me to doubt my parenting skills?  Dun dun dun: Jack. Nope, it can’t be my sweet, sweet boy.

Summertime goal:  If I must read parenting articles; view them as opportunities to revive my Panic Attack Magazine blog series.

 

 

A Long Time Coming

When I found out that we needed to be at a baseball tournament at 7:15 this morning, I suddenly felt so sorry for my parents and all the early Saturdays they went through for me. When I shared my feelings with my mom she said, “Well, that was a long time coming!”

This is a picture if Jack and I this morning – it was windy and 35. Jack is hidden under the sleeping bag that we luckily had in the car.

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It warmed up quite a bit though – Here is Jack a mere 6 hours later. He’s still not interested in posing.

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Dave and I both brought a sweatshirt and a jacket for Jack and he wore all 4 layers.

427

This post is about 420, but since it’s a week late, I am calling it 427.  I live in Boulder, and last year 10,000 people gathered on campus to smoke marijuana at 4:20 pm on April 20th.  This year, the police and school closed the campus to all but students, checked ids, rode around on motorcycles, blocked every intersection and got the crowd down from 10,000 to 300.

And guess what else?  I was required to take a drug test sometime between 4/20 and 4/24.  I love irony, and I hate waiting in lines, so I went to the lab on 4/20.  The boys were both home that day and they had been fighting, so I made them come with me, as a form of discipline.  Those boys hate to run errands.  But they are naturally curious, so they wanted to know what was going to happen.  I said, “You’ll sit in the lobby while I pee in a cup in the bathroom.”  BORING!  So I thought a little harder and I said, “Well, actually I don’t know.  Maybe they’ll take some of my blood to study, or some of my hair, or scrape the inside of my check, or put me in an interrogation room with really bright lights and give me a lie detector test.”

Then I shrugged and said, “Who knows?”

Jack has said he wants to be a scientist who works in a lab, or a doctor, or make movies, or write stories, so he was excited to go to the lab.  We walked in, and the guy asked for my paperwork, which I did not bring because I had all the info on my fancy phone.  This caused a lot of eye rolling and scowling to happen, while I read 8 numbers out loud instead of killing a tree so the guy at the lab could read 8 numbers off a piece of paper.

Next, I left the boys in the lobby and went  into a room a few feet away.  This room had one of those chairs that you sit in to have blood drawn, and needles, and vials, and a bright light, but no lie detector test.  I started to wonder if I was going to have my blood drawn after all, and I was also wondering if the boys would be interested in seeing such an event, or if that would scar them for life, and also, was it a good idea to leave them in an empty waiting room that at any moment could be full of suspected drug users such as myself? (Note, my drug test was a work requirement, not some sort of court ordered thing.)

So I said, as the guy with the elaborate neck tattoo was snapping on some rubber gloves, “Oh!  Am I going to have blood drawn?”

And he sneered, “No, but I am not touching your URINE.”

And that is when the experience of having to pee in a cup became really awkward.

I think I just stood there, stunned, for several moments, with my mouth hanging open.  I didn’t bother to explain that I wasn’t asking about the blood because of the gloves, but because I had worked my imagination into a frenzy.  Plus the first thing that came to mind to say was, “I was just asking because I thought my kids might want to see how blood is drawn.”  Because, I realized, that sounds crazy.

Then he handed me the jar and said, “The bathroom doesn’t work, so head to the one at the end of that long hallway.”

I walked past the kids with my jar, and past a lot of offices with big windows that looked out into the hallway, and then I walked back with my jar full of pee.   And I  was a little sad that my ironic story of the 420 drug test became the embarrassing story of a sneering lab technician that assumed I thought my pee was worthy of being touched by his bare hands.

Baseball Mom, Baseball Pants

Upfront Disclaimer:  I have no complaints about doing laundry in general.  Dave and I have a pretty egalitarian marriage, in which I completely do not feel that I do all the chores, or more than 50% of the chores.  So I am having a hard time with this blog post because I want it to be about how annoying it is that laundry detergent commercials are targeted to women, and how annoyed I was that all the information about the laundering of baseball pants was directed at me.  But in real life I  do the laundry.  And Dave wasn’t even at the baseball meeting where they talked about the pants.

So what is going on with me?  I am writing a blog post about how I feel about writing a blog post about laundry.  Meta-MetaMegan.

Let’s start at the beginning.  I have always been annoyed at the way laundry, and cleaning products in general are marketed towards women.  Like waaaay back when I could first articulate a thought it was, “Why does the TV woman have to do all the laundry and cleaning?”  I was going to explain the whole thing – but come on.  Who doesn’t think those commercials with the one dimensional mom whose emotional life ranges from mock-exasperation-at-her-family-of-stain-generating-knuckleheads to pure-joy-at-the-removal-of-a-stain?  Plus, it’s already been done, and better than I could do.

So here we are.  I married a great chore-doing husband, my life is perfect, I only watch TV on netflix and the DVR so I don’t even see commercials anymore.  In fact, when I tried to find an image for this post, all I could find were scary pictures of some man with oxyclean.  And yet.  And yet…

When Luke was ordering his baseball uniform, I was giving a very long, very intense lesson on the laundering of the white baseball pants.  My eyes glazed over, I went to another place in my mind where I am someone other than “baseball mom in charge of laundry”  and I contemplated responding with, “Um yeah.  Thanks.  Laundry isn’t really my “thing” if you know what I mean.  I have a very challenging job, I read, I sometimes write.”  And, “Why are you telling all this to me?”  (Reminder:Dave wasn’t there.)  Instead, I mumbled “Oxyclean?  Got it.  Your wife drip dries the jersey?  Good to know.”  Then I proceeded to joke about the laundering of baseball pants for a month, and laughed and laughed about it.  And by that I mean, I became obsessed with whether or not I would win at getting the pants as white as possible.

At some point during all this, Luke tried on his entire uniform several times and was unable to stop smiling the entire time he wore it.  Dave mentioned that maybe the pressure to maintain the baseball pants came not from other moms, but from the kids.  Laundry obsession went up to 11.

Game time came this past weekend and I made Luke hand me his pants as soon as we walked into the house.  I rinsed in the sink, then made a paste of oxyclean and put it on the stain.  Then I started making dinner (more women’s work!  Disclaimer – I love cooking, and Dave does more than I do, and he does the grocery shopping.)  Then I googled “white baseball pants” and read a million things about what to do to get the stains out:  rust cleaner, carpet cleaner, dish soap, zout, oxyclean, some purple thing, bleach, etc.”  For every blog comment about what worked, there was one that said, “that didn’t work at all for me.”  And every once in a while someone would say, “The kids want their pants to look dirty!”  Big relaxed sigh.  Then Luke popped his head in to see if I had any luck getting the stains out.  Wash, rinse, repeat! I decided to forget everything I read online and just go with what I had been told in baseball pants meeting.  Oxyclean.  I may have thrown in some Palmolive for good measure.  I may have started to hallucinate from the fumes.  I may have  reached some sort of inner peace, but that is only because I try to turn chores that I don’t want to do into opportunities for meditation.  I read a lot of magazines, and according to Oprah and Real Simple, I need to be meditating, and I like to multi-task.

The only instruction I didn’t follow was to soak the pants overnight in oxyclean.  And that is because our bathtub doesn’t hold water for that long because the drain won’t stay closed, and all the other sinks are required for hand washing or cooking, and I can’t figure out how to soak something in the front load washer.

Long story short, the pants are perfect.  Me on the other hand?  I am a mess, but I win at white baseball pants.  This week at least.